Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

30 October 2015

Inklust #20: That is Your Role

When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.
The Night Circus, Erin Morganstern 

Image via.


What is "Inklust"? Boy am I glad you asked. Here's the manifesto: part I and part II.

09 July 2015

Inklust #19: Gives and Tells

There were a few stipulations she had written into his standard contract that Mark had balked at: lemon rounds, not wedges; hypoallergenic makeup; fair-trade green tea. These, she explained, were gives—items that he was not to insist upon, which lack of insistence would make him seem like a much more reasonable person than his contract made him out to be.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, David Shafer

Here's a neat story: Van Halen was renowned for having a stringent, vaguely insane and crazy-detailed contract, one of whose stipulations included the demand that the band be provided with a bowl of M&Ms with the brown ones picked out. If a single brown M&M was found, Van Halen could cancel the concert at the full expense of the promoter—right then and there.

This is usually told as an anecdote to illustrate how debauched and ridiculous rock-stardom had become. But there was actually a really good reason the clause existed.

Van Halen's concerts included some of the most complex and advanced pyrotechnics of any show at that time. A successful show required a number of safety precautions and precise technical measures.

If the band found brown M&Ms in the bowl, chances were high that the contract hadn't been read. It significantly increased the likelihood of an onstage accident or technical failure.

The brown M&Ms weren't a give; they were a tell.


What is "Inklust"? Boy am I glad you asked. Here's the manifesto: part I and part II.

Today I left a book on the métro.

Even after six years in France, it's hard to shake off the metrics that used to drive me: Start a company. Get rich in five years. Vacations waste time. Weigh every moment against your net worth.

A good friend who's enjoyed more success than I have, lived longer than I have, and is now fighting a much tougher battle than I am, recently told me that money, power and stuff make no difference in the scheme of things. What he cares about now is leaving ripples of happiness among the people he loves—making a difference to them.

And it isn't just an insular thing. Even in his work, he seeks to be a force for good.

I was moved by this. But knowing he's fundamentally right is insufficient to unteach years of conditioning.

I try to be a force for good in my work: To lift people up, share credit, see opportunities to help. But today I thought, What if every day I did a small, enriching thing? Something that improves the lot of a stranger and doesn't just improve my work environment or fuel my socnets?

So today I left a book on the train. I read it, I liked it, and I happened to be carrying it with me. It seems small and insignificant but I'm weird about books; I have always needed to own them. I like touching the spines on my shelf. They benchmark my life. They're my great treasures.

One less thing for me, one more enriching thing for somebody else. It's a baby step. But it's a reminder of how little I need and how much I can give. Doing it once is insufficient; it's one of those things worth relearning every day.

I think that's what makes us better—the act of taking a lesson and manifesting it physically, as often as possible, until it simply becomes nature: A thing that ripples into everything we do. To change, it's important to undo even the small things that make us who we've been. It's only old skin.

My hope is that with time and the aggregation of these small acts, my metrics will change. My vision of success will change. And I'll no longer feel the compulsion to gauge how well I'm doing by how much of anything I have—not money or posterity or the capacity to disrupt. It will have been enough to be a force for good—to have been curious, to have learnt about other people and enriched the place where I was, and to have passed those pieces along.

I'm just a word in a very small chapter in the very short story of humanity—a story the universe, in its vastness and indifference, will not even realise occurred. Life is an accident that will end in a flutter.

It's enough to have been here.

05 June 2015

Inklust #18: Unending Kiss

Today, the nostalgia for pre-Internet life is pervasive. What was it like back then, wandering around in an eternally unknowing state, scrounging for bits of information? Is what we get out of a performance today any different now than it was then? No, it’s the same thing: the need for transcendence, or maybe just a distraction—a day at the beach, a trip to the mountains—from humdrum life, boredom, pain, loneliness. Maybe that’s all performance ever was, really. An unending kiss—that’s all we ever wanted to feel when we paid money to hear someone play.
—Kim Gordon, Girl in a Band

Some music I fall in love with at first hearing, a phenomenon limited to what I've been exposed to culturally and have a natural preference for. Much of the music I love isn't stuff I grew up with. I discovered them by accident—but rarely by ear.

Most came from books.

I wouldn't have known how to understand, how to appreciate, the full body of The Beatles' work without reading Here, There and Everywhere by Geoff Emerick, one of two Beatles books I picked up and started perusing while bored at a friend's house as a teenager. I would never have found Sonic Youth if not for Kim Gordon's Girl in a Band, which I bought on impulse after reading her interview in The Happy Reader. She has so much soul. And were it not for Ben Fong-Torres, I would never have discovered Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground. These would have all been terrible losses.

Years ago I read a study that found only 6% of self-proclaimed music enthusiasts care about the words in the music they listen to. I am part of that 6%, and in the worst way—it's often words that get me to music in the first place. I cannot separate a melody from the people, their story, their words. The place where my unending kiss begins is inextricably tied to that great totem of pre-internet life: In a book.

Photo Credit: [carlo cravero] via Compfight cc


What is "Inklust"? Boy am I glad you asked. Here's the manifesto: part I and part II.

15 March 2015

Inklust #17: Quiet

No more Internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions of contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons whole or broken, plans to meet up later, pleas, complaints, desires, pictures of babies dressed as bears or peppers for Halloween. No more reading and commenting on the lives of others, and in so doing, feeling slightly less alone in the room. No more avatars.
Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven

Station Eleven is a story about the end of civilization as we know it, and in reading it I traversed every emotion I expected: Terror, fear, deep sadness, loss, pain, guilt, hope.

But when I read this paragraph, I felt only a fleeting loneliness, like a bird skimming across the surface of water. Below that—deep below, where things resonate and expand inside you—I felt envy. This world has become so naked and noisy, and part of me wondered if that profound desire for quiet, for a day that means more than a compulsive Instagram upload, is the reason why so many people nurture only-half-jokey zombie apocalypse fantasies.

Photo Credit: Mike Shaheen via Compfight. cc


What is "Inklust"? Boy am I glad you asked. Here's the manifesto: part I and part II.

09 February 2015


Throes of Creation, Leonid Pasternak

I am working on a book, or rather trying to.

When I was little I used to write a lot. On our old computer (“Four gigs of ROM!” my mother cried, “You couldn’t fill that your whole life!”), I zapped out over two feet of floppy discs, filling them with stories about children who time-travel and a girl who saves Mars. They slid easily into the hundreds of pages, until my mother threw her hands up in frustration and shouted, “Just kill them!”

My mother yells a lot.

I never could finish properly, but it hardly mattered. What mattered was that I wrote every single goddamn day. And because I’d developed that habit, the words came like water when I sat down to do the work. It flowed. It was good.

I’ve been trying to find my way back to that river ever since, but when you’re older, it’s harder. You start questioning your work. You become convinced you didn’t research enough, haven’t experienced enough to produce living people from ink and breathe life into their two-dimensional bodies, like God blowing substance into clay.

(Remember when it was so easy? Remember when you were twelve and all you had to do was ask your Iranian friend, “Hey, what’s a common Iranian girl’s name?”, and then you could write an Iranian character that satisfied you enough? Knowing the name gave her mystery, an accent, the dark eyes that described to you her dark past. No more.)

Then you become convinced that you can’t write because you don’t have the right tools. So you buy books about writing. So many books! Stacks, and you’ve picked up maybe one, because the voices of other writers in your head, giving you their subjective “tips”, irks you.

Then notebooks—one after the other, sometimes you fill them, sometimes you don’t, but all you learn from that is to get fickle about paper quality. I can only write in a Leuchtturm1917, it’s the smoothest. Also it’s German, and the Germans think of nice touches like page numbers and table of contents sections. Can’t live without those again.

Then it’s all about the pen: Pilot fine-tips first, then Uni-Ball Jetstreams, then you graduate to a smooth maroon Sheaffer fountain pen made specifically for left-handed people. A delightful instrument. Too bad it inks you all over your hand, and inside your handbag, and it’s hell writing on cards with because you’re always smearing, smearing.

A typewriter, maybe? The best writers rode hard, lugged their Olympia SMs or their Hermes 3000s everywhere, slugged whiskey, changed ink cartridges around and carried reams and reams of paper. Threw out and rewrote the ones they didn’t like, or maybe just made typos on.

So much ribbon and paper and ink. And to produce what?

A short story once in awhile, when you take a weekend writer’s workshop, once or twice a year. Then the fragments of something longer, something that betrays you and flies off to finish itself with a better, faster writer. The bitch. Then you manage to produce one thing in a fit of rage one sleepless night—but it’s too personal, you can’t let anyone read that ever, because then you’ll betray everyone you know and also everyone will learn how much you love yourself. How very much.

So one day in March, on one of these soul-chases, I picked up Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Writing’s like a marathon, he says. It’s solitary. It requires discipline. It’s a long game. And I took up running, because I thought it would help me write.

But then my knee started to hurt, so I bought stability shoes and knee wraps. And I realised I only had one sportsbra, so I bought more, and since I was on anyway, and there was a sale, I bought a whole runner’s wardrobe: Everything needed for fall, spring, summer, winter.

Even the padded breathable socks. Such good socks! You can get two runs out of them before throwing them into the wash.

I ran for about six months, then the pain came back into my leg, so I bought another pair of shoes. Then that pair gave out, so I went to a podologist and got specially-made soles, ones that ensure my shoes last longer because these bad-boys will hold out.

In short, I became a runner. And in that time—one year of buyer’s hijinks, of gathering the perfect accoutrements and watching runners’ YouTube videos!—I wrote plenty of words, lots of fragments of things, but still never finished anything. I can’t get past my own head. I can’t see past the callous, tiresome but sexy world of advertising, can’t see past the neuroses that keep me comparing myself to another account director or strategist or copywriter. Maybe one day when I’m retired and fuck-you rich, I think. But not today. I don’t deserve it yet.

In the meantime, I keep running, keep taking the weekend workshops once a year, keep buying Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, keep refilling the ink in my bleedy-ass Sheaffer pen. I drink whisky, I drink tea, I smoke. I read voraciously, in French and English, biographies and science books and literature—so much literature! I reread, to see how the books “work”. And I blog. About advertising. Small, pithy blogs about ad campaigns. People laugh, sometimes.

All the conditions are right.

So I wait.