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Hey Cancer, F**K You!

Most things that I create (film or write) I do it with the intent of making someone happy, creating new thoughts, or sparking imagination. This post is a little different. Below are two different writings. I was dealing with some stuff in my life and thought I’d take a moment to write about it. It's more of a spewing of thoughts, a stream of consciousness even. If nothing else, I hope at least one person will find this helpful. 

December 10th, 2014

It’s December 10th, 2014 and I’m scared shitless. In October my mom was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast Cancer - HER2 positive.

My initial thought: Okay, stage 1. This sucks but we have many reasons to be optimistic. There's 4 stages. This was caught early. We'll just remove the problem and be done, right? Sort of right. 

There's this HER2 thing, which apparently is a protein, and because of this protein, she needs Chemotherapy. Since October we’ve had more doctor visits than I’d like to remember but the major milestones was the Mastectomy… another small surgery… and now the chemo journey. The first treatment was yesterday, and now, I sit in my mom's home, fucking confused as to what my mom, sister, and I are getting ourselves into.

It should be noted that I live in California, my sister in Colorado, and my mom in Wisconsin. The travel has allowed me to enter the elusive A PLUS program offered by Southwest along with a companion pass for the next calendar year - I’ve flown a lot. My distance is what scares me. The unknown scares me... How is my mom going to handle this when we’re not around? My father passed away a long time ago and that’s the short way of saying she’s by herself.

Like every single human in the entire world who's dealt with this - when we found out my mom had breast cancer it was a shock. She’s healthy, what the fuck? Now we’re pumping her full of shit. Shitty fucking shit. I hate chemo and I hate all of the drugs she has to take. Just today she took steroids, anti nausea something, and Claritin, yes, fucking Claritin. Why? Well, it will help blah blah nausea blah blah blah.

Eh. I can’t compute anymore. I thought I’d have a holistic solve. I don’t. We’re left pumping my mom full of garbage.

Here I am. Confused as ever. Really scared. I’m writing this in hopes to follow up when her final chemo treatment is done. Maybe beyond. I hope to look back so I don’t forget how scared I was, even though no amount of words could do justice. I’m also writing this to maybe help someone else at some point, because all I want right now is some kind of help or guidance.

I wish I could find someone just like me and talk to that person and just hear them out. I want a son, from out of town, who is dealing with his mother’s small tumors but hey, it had a protein (HER2) that elevated my mom’s estrogen and forced chemo into our lives. I want to find that someone. It sounds sick but if there was a MATCH.com for people like me seeking other people like me, I’d be on it so fast it’s scary. I just want to talk with a version of me.

I guess I’m just worried. Scared. I can’t say it enough. I’m writing this fully knowing I’m showing my emotional hand, but at this moment, this is what’s helping me. This is what feels good. This is what I need to do. The truth is, I don’t know if i’m going to post this. I have this website for posting thoughts and feelings. I also release other content online. I release videos and short films of stories and thoughts. Staying guarded about my personal life, but trying to crack the door open juuuuust enough.

When I come back to this document it will be after my mother’s next 5 treatments of chemo (6 in total). I’m optimistic, mainly because every doctor told us to be, but I’m still worried.

I’m going to leave this document to collect dust for a few months, then revist, and I hope I can help someone like me at some point. I hope this will relate to at least one person. I hope that someone may read this seeking answers and will reach out to me to talk about life. Most importantly, I hope that when I come back here it’s with positive news, I’m sure it will be.

Fuck cancer. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Off to have an emotional breakdown...

April 8th, 2015

It’s April 8, 2015. My mom’s final chemo was two weeks ago. It’s weird how time flies but on the same hand it slogs along. That’s what the past 6-7 months have felt like - slow, yet fast.

I was hesitant to write this and post. At this moment I'm kind of "done" talking about all of this stuff. In other words, I'd like to pretend like everything is okay and compartmentalize. Also, as I mentioned above I tend to stay a bit guarded with what I release and truthfully this is offering up more than I thought I’d ever post about myself.

-Pause-

Just for the record… I’m not some guy who thinks people are going to flock to read random things I post on a blog. I know where I stand in the world of the internet, I’m not a fool, but at the same time you never know what will come back to haunt you down the road. People need to be careful when posting online. 

That’s a message for the kids. 

-Un-Pause-

I was thinking about when I first started writing this and it was when I was very confused and very lost. I needed someone to talk to, I was aware of that. I have my wife, family, and friends to vent to but I needed something more. Not saying I needed a therapist but I wanted a dude to relate to. Maybe I did need a therapist?

Secretly (or maybe not so secretly) I wanted me from the future to tell me what’s going on. Okay, so I needed a DeLorean. I think it’s safe to say that I hate uncertainty, specifically when it comes to issues of health. Yet, here we are, dealing with uncertainty and still moving forward. I wish I could just say “hey, we’re in the clear” but my mom still has a road ahead, however after the last 6-7 months I think I can say with certainty we can handle this.

My heart goes out to anyone who has to deal with this shit, especially when cancer isn’t caught early…Hell, even when it is caught early. I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone. I truly believe it’s the devil and not in disguise, it’s showing itself and blatantly fucking with you. Which is the worst.

If you can relate to anything I just wrote and you find yourself in a similar situation, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. All I wanted was someone to talk to and I can’t say it enough. If you’re finding yourself going crazy and want to vent, rant, email, skype, facetime, share stories, whatever, I am here for that. I’d be more than happy to express any thoughts or just talk about things. I'm no therapist, not by a long shot, but I am a dude who can lend an ear.

This is my email: josh@thebigshoe.tv

My mom’s situation isn’t nearly as dire as others, the outlook is positive, and I'm fully aware of how fortunate my current situation is. But I can't deny that this single experience did a number on me mentally. It re-calibrated my thoughts and gave the “life is short” reminder. By the way, the “life is short” reminder shouldn’t ever actually be a reminder, it should just be a way of life. I’m ashamed I actually need something massive to remind me. Fuck it, no dwelling on the past, life is short. Remember not to waste your time on bullshit (easier said than done).

There you have it. That’s it. Hopefully I can pay something forward from this (currently ongoing) experience. When I’m done writing this I'm going to take a moment to appreciate life… and then follow that moment up with saying, “Fuck you cancer." I seriously hope cancer gets cancer and self implodes.

Good luck to everyone dealing with the devil.

Off to London...

Image I’m going to London to meet up with a group of friends. I’ve never been, but I think it’s safe to say that I’m looking forward to it. Aside from the fact that I like to see people close to me, I also like to get out of the house and explore new territory, and truthfully, I don’t do it enough.

I’m going to cut the shit and get to the chase here because I’m on the verge of walking down a road reflecting on friendship and how life takes us in a new direction and blah blah.

I’m writing this is because I’d like some advice on what to see and where to go in London. I’m not talking about the basic things, i.e.: Big Ben, London bridge, London eye, Windsor castle…  or really anything I can find on the internet in 30 seconds. I’m talking about off the road hole in the wall historic landmarks that I wouldn’t be able to find unless I pleaded for help on the Internet.

Also, and I mean this – If you’re reading this and will be in London over the next few days please don’t hesitate to connect. The best way is to email me: Josh@thebigshoe.tv or twitter: @JoshuaHallman

(Just became that dude asking people to tweet me)

Only reach out if you want to have a drink and talk about life, movies, sports, adventures, conspiracies, travel, and writing. Hope to talk with someone somewhere, it would be cool to connect... I think.

The Beauty Of Creation

Right off the bat we should establish that this is in no way a religious thing so lets not let the title of this post mislead you. I just let my mind drift as it normally does and I got to thinking about the creation of art, entertainment, stories, basically anything that has a human at the helm. It’s incredible for me to think that something doesn’t exist and then a person brings it into existence, possibly altering the mind of someone observing whatever it is. The impact that creation can have on someone is hard to comprehend. Many times we see a work of art or a quote, and it alters our thinking - Literally changing our lives. It makes me wonder about creations that exists in the world that I’ve never seen, or creations that almost never were.

I’m not sure if creation is as appreciated as it should be, especially now. We live in a time where we’re spoiled with information and content. We’re in a microwave attention span time-period so I feel that much of the things we see we take for granted simply because we’re trained to look and move on.

Also, we have access to the greatest site in the world, YouTube, and it allows us to watch an auteur create a five minute story that took him three months along with blood, sweat, and tears, but on the flip side you can also watch a cat jump on a hamster but was filmed by a ten year old in sixty seconds.  Does watching cat on hamster pull us from appreciation of good calculated creation? Also, who's to say what is “good” and what isn’t? But really, that’s the beauty of creation! We don’t know what’s good or bad until we see it. You may be reading this post and thinking it’s the biggest piece of shit of all time, you may be right, but it wasn’t in your life five minutes ago… so wrap your mind around that.

Shall we dig a little deeper and talk about the creation of human life? I don’t think that’s the best idea at this current moment. My mind is overloaded right now just thinking about this subject, when I pull back and try to relax I’m left with one solid conclusion: Creation is amazing, and what you create says more about you than what you’ve probably ever intended, but that’s the beauty of it. As long as people create then people will keep thinking of newer things to create… It’s essentially evolving the world.

Inevitable Wisconsin Reflection.

As I sit in my bed at my mom’s house in Greendale, Wisconsin I realize that I haven’t lived in this state for nearly ten years. I almost can’t comprehend that. Wow, time flies, it really does. People always told me things would go fast, I sort of believed it, but “sort of” is now 100% gone, there is no doubt. The reflection of how fast time moves opens up a waterfall of thought about how I should utilize time, how I should be living life, treating others, treating myself, if I’m living the right way, if I’m happy, and what kind of strides I’m making in my life.

Uh oh, the obvious life-reflection-when-I-come-home moment is in full force. Well, it’s necessary. Sometimes you need to take stock of your life and how you’re growing as a person…or not growing. On the flip, maybe it isn’t normal to reflect as much as I am? Sometimes too much reflection can lead to doubt, for me at least.  The ideal case is that reflection leads to growth, but that isn’t always the case.

The beauty of having a small town like Greendale is that it’s always a reminder of where I’m from. It’s a simple reminder of who I was, and to an even larger extent, how I got to be who I am. I wonder if that’s the case for everyone when they return to their hometown?

The things written above is a stream of thought that I’ve had many times in past. My personal conclusion inevitable. However, now I tell myself to get there faster. I try to avoid the rabbit hole of emotion that comes with reflection. Also, time is flying, life is short, lets just conclude…

Live often, and live fast but do it slowly because life is short. And to echo a mantra that isn’t mine: “seek and find.” 

That One Time I Started To Hate Dogs.

383088_10150957763585005_1679889685_n Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be possible to hate dogs. I love dogs. I’m that guy who goes out of my way to play with dogs. When I’m at a party and someone has a dog, I find that dog. My sister has a dog, his name is Summit, he may be man’s best friend, and when I say “may be” I mean he IS man’s best friend. Greatest dog ever 10 years running, and he’ll continue to be the greatest dog until the end of time. But, lets not go down that road, I can’t think of a life without Summit.

So I love dogs, great, fantastic, who doesn’t? Ohhhhh right. Me! But how, how could this possibly happen? What the fuck? I’m so conflicted in my dog loving life. I’ll tell you how it could possibly happen… Los Angeles happened.

This may not be totally accurate but it seems as though 95% of Los Angeles owns dogs that are smaller than the size of my 10.5 foot. These little dogs are running crazy, they’re maniacs. Never have I seen so many Chihuahua’s in my life. For the record I just had to auto spell “Chihuahua” – even the spelling seems insane. But it’s not just Chihuahuahuhhauha’s, it’s other small dogs. How could there be so many small crazy dogs. Well that part is kind of obvious, to me at least —

I live in West Hollywood / Hollywood area. It’s so small and condensed. People who want dogs end up getting small dogs and since there are so many people BOOM there are so many dogs, simple. But still, that doesn’t add up to why I hate these things. So let me peel back another layer and try to save face. It’s not the dogs that I hate… it’s the owners of the dogs.

As of right now it seems as though my anger is unjustified and is totally all over, it is, and that’s only because I feel bad writing this. I feel bad hating things. So here we go, here’s my justification:

My problem is when dog owners find it okay for their dog to just jump up on you, bark, run past your office door, or really anything that people find cute just because. The things that people find cute, I find it totally annoying. I don’t care about other dogs, and PEOPLE don’t care about other dogs. I don’t think. But really, why do dog owners think just because their dog is cute then everyone thinks it’s cute? What is that?

People treat their dogs like they’re the second coming just because it successfully sat down or didn’t take a shit on the street. These dogs are getting away with societal murder.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on people being able to travel with their dogs on airplanes as “helper” dogs because they need “emotional” support. Fuck off. What an insult to people who actually need a dog with them. It’s a slap in the face. Emotional support? Really? You’re not emotionally equipped to be without your dog for a weekend?

Taking a breath…

Trying to make sense of why I even started to write this…

Oh right! So my problem is with dog owners and it’s starting to transfer to the dogs. I know it’s happening and I can’t stop it, that’s the scary part. Sometimes when I see a dog minding its dog business some negative thought enters my mind and I try to stop it, trying to think of other reasons why I like dogs, but negativity takes over like some kind of virus. But I guess that’s what negative thoughts do; they can easily take over so much faster than anything positive.

Maybe I need to get out of this bubble that is Los Angeles and get back to seeing what I consider normal dogs — Dogs that you can actually play with, dogs that I feel like I can’t physically harm with my one hand just by petting it, dogs that don’t have a size complex, and dogs that sound like they’ve hit dog puberty when they bark.

I remember Bob Barker used to always sign off the Price is Right by saying, “Don’t forget to get your dogs neutered.” My God was he ahead of the curve.

What a strange rant this has been. I was hoping to talk through my current day totally-out-of-the-blue-dog-hate. I kind of did, it’s the owners…

For the record I need to say that to all my friends with small dogs. I love your dogs.

The Cloud

The Cloud

I’m flying over Utah, maybe Colorado. I just stared at a series of clouds that are scattered, one stuck out. This cloud (pictured above) seems so random; I can’t help but wonder what he’s up to. Maybe this lone cloud got into a fight with another cloud and he’s being punished. Maybe he’s old and doesn’t give a shit. Maybe he’s lost. Maybe he’s brand new and is looking down to earth for the first time ever… Or maybe it’s just a cumulus cloud formed from heat rising from the surface of the earth and connecting with a cooler atmosphere.

Damn. Science wins again.

Ignoring science for one second…

If this cloud is anything like me he’s being stubborn right now. He’s by himself trying to prove a point to someone, maybe himself, and he’s simultaneously wondering if he’s just being a total asshole and doing more harm than good. Either way, he’ll figure it out. I have faith in this cloud.

Being Grateful?

I had an interesting conversation with a friend, he was talking about someone he knew who passed away (I swear this is the most depressing it gets) and we were talking about the time and how fast it goes by. We were wrapping up the conversation and I made a comment, something along the lines of --

Be grateful for what we have, be careful not to take things for granted.

Annnnd then the can of worms opened up. I should also note that I have my own issues in life, it’s not like I’m the guy who tells people how to life. This conversation was with a buddy, not some random guy.

After my comment our conversation went a little something like this:

Him: “You know what dude, I am grateful, and I don’t really take things for granted, but how does somebody stay aware of not taking things for granted?”

I kind of thought about it for a bit and then I thought about it even longer until he jumped back in --

Him: “Honestly, I know I’m lucky to have an active mind, working legs, and working arms. I don’t get sick, I’ve been fortunate with my health. But how the fuck do I show that? How do you do something more than just remind yourself?”

I was about to answer until he said --

Him: “How do you not take things for granted? I mean listen, I wish I could travel the world and see amazing things so I don’t waste life, but how can I do that with no money?

He then proceeded to say he’s just blurting out thoughts and that he really is appreciative, he was trying to justify what he said, but I basically blacked out because my friend had a very good point. I was busy trying to find an answer and a proper segway into more conversation but it wasn’t happening. We said our goodbyes but I’m still thinking about it.

How do you stay grateful? And how do you maximize life if you don’t have a lot of money but the things you love cost money? Listen, I know you can do fun things in life without money, and you can be happy as shit doing them, but you get what I’m saying, right?

I haven’t come to a conclusion on this conversation but I really wish I could. Do we need people to constantly tell you “hey, you’re doing a great job!” - we shouldn’t. But, it still feels good when people say that, and I wish I knew how to bottle that feeling. I wish I knew how to contain the feeling of total happiness. A few weeks ago after the Boston tragedy I was just happy to be alive. I had total appreciation for everything around me but truthfully; I may have lost that feeling of appreciation. I wish I didn’t lose that feeling. I hate that terrible things have to happen in the world for people to be reminded of how awesome it is to be alive.

I’m currently sitting in an office looking at a palm tree on a 70-degree day in Los Angeles. Let me say that one more fucking time so it can maybe stick to my head, I’m currently sitting in an office looking at a palm tree on a 70-degree day in Los Angeles. How could anyone take this for granted?

I have some thinking to do… 

Walking Entitlement

walking-silhouette-clip-art  

Where do I even begin? Lets begin in Los Angeles because what I’m about to jump into *mainly occurs in LA.

Imagine you come to an area (LA) with a dream and you don’t meet the dream in the time period you set for yourself. Now imagine being around tons of people who have the same dream, and those people seem to be multiplying and they’re not hitting their dream strides either. They’re getting frustrated, now you’re getting frustrated. You’re chasing after what you want and you’re being rejected… so are other people. Fuck, a bunch of people are getting really frustrated! You feel out of control. Bunches of people feel out of control. You need to take a walk and think about things, you need to feel in control.

Enter – Walking Entitlement.

I’ve never been around so many people who seem to be totally fucking clueless when walking across a street or on a sidewalk. But they’re not really clueless, they’re minding their own business, which of course is fine, but they’re not minding unspoken spatial laws of life. The law that may or may not state: Being aware is a priority when walking in a congested city with frustrated humans.

I believe that people feel so out of control in their jobs or pursuit of jobs that they relieve frustration by trying to show themselves and others they’re in control. One place to do this… when taking a walk. It sounds ridiculous but it’s true.

People in LA just step into streets with a 30-mile per hour car 10 feet away and expect a full stop.

People walk with dogs and occupy full sidewalk without worrying about others walking towards them.

People walk in bunches on a sidewalk and don’t move when you’re walking by yourself.

I’ve heard people say “I’m going to sue you if you hit me” and walk in front of cars when they shouldn’t be walking… just because. What kind of asshole does that? People feel entitled while walking. Really, when they’re driving too, but that is a different story. It all breaks down to CONTROL. Which I get… but you don’t have to be an asshole.

I wish there were rules in stone that would allow people to do something to absentminded walkers without facing repercussions.

(Just drifted into a world that sees people getting “get out of jail free” digital cards to allow you to teach appropriate lesson without actually harming the person. In this world there is also specialized honking horns that directs attention at poor drivers).

Okay, I’m back.

Walking entitlement. I get that it’s everywhere, but it’s especially bad in LA. I’ve never seen anything like it. It boils down to being unaware of your surroundings and thinking you can just go. The danger of the unaware walker is that it’s a bigger risk for accident or problem to other people. Having said all of that…

I love LA.

(Cue: Randy Newman)

Oscar Predictions: 2013

Argo Wow, I have been totally slacking on postings lately but there is nothing better than Oscar season to change that. I love me some movies and even though I forget who wins 20 minutes after the awards are over, I love me some Oscars. However, something weird is happening this award season – I basically don’t have any fucking clue who is nominated for anything and have barely seen all of the nominated films. Why is that? How did this happen? Is it the movie quality? Is it the Internet taking me away from movies? Are award shows just irrelevant now?

I can’t think too much about it. I need to just dive into my predications.

I give you: 2013 Oscar awards predictions (even though I haven’t seen all of the films but don’t really need too).

BEST PICTURE

Amour Argo Beasts of the Southern Wild Django Unchained Les Miserables Life of Pi Lincoln Silver Linings Playbook Zero Dark Thirty

Winner: Argo. Argo has too much momentum. Affleck is going to win a best actor award some day… then best director… then we’re all going to look back on Affleck’s career and he’s going to down in history as having the most unique IMDB page ever.

BEST ACTOR Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables Joaquin Phoenix, The Master Denzel Washington, Flight

Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis. Never bet against DDL.

Side note: I watched Flight the other day and Denzel killed it.

BEST ACTRESS Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook Emmanuelle Riva, Amour Naomi Watts, The Impossible Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Winner: Jessica Chastain – because… um… I haven’t seen 4 out of the 5 movies in here. This is a strange category, someone either very obvious or someone unexpected always wins. I wonder if there could be a crazy Jennifer Lawrence win.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Alan Arkin, Argo Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Winner: Waltz!

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Amy Adams, The Master Sally Field, Lincoln Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables Helen Hunt, The Sessions Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

Winner: Anne Hathaway. Remember when she hosted the Oscars that one year?

BEST DIRECTOR Michael Haneke, Amour Ang Lee, Life of Pi David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook Steven Spielberg, Lincoln Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Winner: Steven “I’m such a badass” Spielberg. Come on. It’s SS.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty John Gatins, Flight Michael Haneke, Amour Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

Winner: I think Tarantino is going to win this thing but if John Gatins wins for Flight I won’t be mad. Did I mention that Flight was insane.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild Tony Kushner, Lincoln David Magee, Life of Pi David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook Chris Terrio, Argo

Winner: Tony Kushner. Because it’s a Spielberg film!

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM Brave Frankenweenie ParaNorman The Pirates! Band of Misfits Wreck-It Ralph

Winner: Sad to say I haven’t seen any of these in their entirety. So this is how we’re going to do this? Any Pixar films on here? Yes? Oh, Brave. Okay, Brave wins.