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New to WayWord WordSmiths!

We have a brand new show for you all! introducing

evangelion-card_1_

Anime-Zing Podcast is podcast wherein Christina Tucker and Tristan Miller explore the amazing world of anime! 

Who is the new host? Christina Tucker!

Christina Tucker was born and raised in the suburbs of Southeastern Michigan. She majored in Art History and minored in Classics at New York University, graduating with the Class of 2017. She is currently based in New York City, and serves as Editorial Intern for Film Comment.

Once set on becoming an illustrator, then a journalist, then a screenwriter, then a film critic, at this point she’s trying to do it all. Her dream lifestyle is one in which she is able to pursue as much of her creativity as she can, particularly in the realms of film production, screenwriting, and criticism. An appreciation for various forms of art and the creative process connects many of her interests.

She recently wrapped her first short film, The Ghost and the Writer, for which she served as writer, director, and executive producer. The film is currently in post-production.

She’s a big fan of diner food, apple cider, and nice quiet trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Go to www.ChristinaMarieTucker.com for more info!

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Manic Depressive Starter Pack

I am compiling a list of things that have helped me and others deal with living with Bipolarity if you want to add anything to this list email me at waywordwordsmiths@gmail.com subject line Manic Depressive Starter Pack.

Books:

Touched with fire 
Attempting Normal, Marc Maron 
The Bipolar Survival Guide, David J. Milkowitz
Wshful Drinking, Carrie Fisher 
Postcards from the Edge, Carrie Fisher
The Best Awful, Carrie Fisher
Paddle your own Canoe, Nick Offerman 
Tough Shit, Kevin Smith 
God bless you Mr. Rosewater, Kurt Vonnegut
Zombie, Spaceship, Wasteland, Patton Oswalt 
Bluebeard, Kurt Vonnegut 
Brilliant madness, Patty Duke

Films/TV:
Touched with Fire
Fisher King
Lady Dynamite
Mad Fat Diary
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
You’re the Worst

Podcasts:
WTF with Marc Maron 
Positive and Negative, Tristan Miller
The Metal Illness Happy Hour
The Hilarious World of Depression

Stand Up: 

More later, Marc Maron 
Finest Hour, Patton Oswald
Live at the MET, Robin Williams
Old Baby, Maria Bamford

YouTube: 
Shrink Wrap, Robin Williams 
Shrink Wrap, Stephen Fry 
Secret Life of a Manic Depressive, Stephen Fry
The Not so Secret Life of a Manic Depressive, Stephen Fry
Richard Dreyfuss interviews

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Positive and Negative Blog – Shann Smith

Mental Illness and Me by Shann Smith

For the longest time I did not have a concept of what mental illness was. Everything I experienced had been chalked up to being a teenager and being stressed out about school. My issues were temporary and unimportant. It wasn’t until I had my first panic attack in my sophomore year of high school that anyone ever had a sseriously discussed mental illness with me. I remember sitting in the nurse’s office, and we talked about seeing a neurologist – because at this point, whatever I had affected my motor skills and gave me a slight tick – which I still have to this day. She was sweet, and she spoke to me about all of these different options. This was the first times I heard the phrase “generalized anxiety disorder,” ever used in regards to me. And it would be the only time I’d hear it for a long time.

Nothing ever came of the meeting. I went home and talked to my parents, and they told me that I just needed to relax. I went to one appointment with a local neurologist and was told that I should get an MRI. I never got the MRI. To my parents, I was just stressed – and stress is normal. I just needed to stop worrying so much. After all, if the neurologist couldn’t find anything physically wrong with me, then why go back?

It bothered me, because I couldn’t articulate to them that relaxation was such a chore for me. I worried about everything and most of the time I knew that I wasn’t being rational. But, that didn’t matter – it became very clear that I was on my own and I needed to find other ways to cope. So, that night, I spent hours googling different things I could do to help – mostly to no avail, because I had moved past the point of counting and breathing exercises. That night, after I turned off my computer and went

to bed – I laid in there until the wee hours of the morning thinking about what I could do – what could I possibly do to quell these fears that I had? I got my answer sooner than I thought.

My high school had a small, but passionate theater program that I’d been part of since my freshman year. I played mostly major parts – and I was able to completely lose myself in every role I played. The world that I inhabited on stage wasn’t the world that I had to live in. The character I played wasn’t me, so they didn’t have the same issues that I did. In retrospect, I know that sounds too goo to be true – and it was – but it was a way for me to cope so I ran with it. I put my entire being into this drama program. The experience liberated me in so many ways – but alas, it didn’t cure me. Eventually, the fear would creep back in and I would always go back to square one.

Years went by. I moved once. I still did theater, and in 2014, I began an acting program in New York City. Still, I had done nothing really to help my anxiety. And as my first semester progressed acting stopped being a coping method. Why? Because now it was a career. A career that came with a huge amount of fears: Do my acting friends like me? Will directors like me? Will I find a job? What if I never find a job? Can I act in front of camera? What is happening? I remember my first semester included nightly calls to my mom about how stressed I was, and how tired I was from the stress. She said I should go home, and that just made everything worse, because then I started thinking, “Oh God, what if they decide to move me back home?”

It all came to a head one night about half way through the semester. I freaked out in my room, and did my best to contain myself. I called my mom, and I told her everything I had been feeling. At one point, I even confessed to her that I didn’t remember the last time I wasn’t stressed. I told her that I needed something more than

just encouragements and assurances that I was over thinking things. My life felt like it was falling apart – and even if it wasn’t.

I think what scared me more than anything at the time was that I had lost my major coping mechanism. I felt like I was floating along this endless sea of worry, and my one life line got yanked from under me. I felt like I was drowning.

Finally, my parents offered to get me therapy. And after a month of getting everything together, I went to my first appointment. I laugh about it, but the whole thing was quite an experience. As soon as I sat down in our small room, I immediately started venting about every single worry I’ve had since I was thirteen years old. I told this woman so much that there were times when I couldn’t even process what I was saying – I just vomited it out. By the end of the session, I was crying, but there was a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. Someone had listened to me.

I left that day feeling cured – I felt relaxed and my mind wasn’t going everywhere. Of course, I knew that wasn’t the case. No matter how much I wanted to believe it, therapy was not a cure for my anxiety. Nothing could cure my anxiety – I could only learn to live with it.

At times, the idea of this frustrates me to no end. I see people who are able to walk through life and just enjoy all of it – and I get so mad. No matter what I do, there will always be moments where I freak out – or times when I am so stressed that I can’t even move, but this is part of my life. And I can either decide to let it consume me, or I can fight against it.

And, after spending years letting it consume me, I finally feel strong enough to fight.

You can find Shann on twitter @shanndsmith  

Positive and Negative

Positive and Negative Blog – Emily Gresbrink

Waking up for art

This is the week of the year where I’m so goddamn annoyed by Facebook, I come -this close- to deleting it. Subtracting the fact that I’m a bitter old salt, I get really irked when people publicly proclaim their New Year’s Resolutions, mostly because they’re all down-at- heel as fuck.
“I’m going to lose weight!”
“I’m going to get my house tidied!”
“I am going to find love!”
You know, shit like that. The one lush aunt Brenda has posted three years in a row, and then posts a Minion meme about it in June as a sassy reminder of her self-realization of failure?

I digress.

I usually pass on New Year’s Resolutions because, admittedly, I think they’re garbage. However, a post from a friend this year inspired me to think differently. It made me think about art and creation. And it made me realize that, for the last few years, I’ve been too tired to create.
Between the ages of seven and fifteen, I was onstage at least six days a week. When acting lost its zeal, I transitioned into public speaking (after all it is an art!). When that no longer became feasible, I focused on writing. Throughout that time, I was a musician – a trombonist. And after that … I transitioned into nothing artistic. I occasionally dabbled in projects that popped up, but there was never a constant form of self-expression. And there still isn’t.

The problem is: I am too tired to create.

What an awful thing to realize, especially as someone who, for so long, self-identified as an artist. Yes, being an adult has proven difficult – I work hard to provide a good home for myself and my cat (#truestory), to fund my education, and provide spare money to do things I like.
But, still, I am tired. And I’m not sure if that’s because I don’t have time in the day, or because of my mental illness, or because I’ve lost sight of what matters to me: does art matter to me anymore? What is my art? Where is my voice?
It has been silenced by responsibility, mental illness, exhaustion from both. Both things are normal and expected, but by no means should they consume the thing that defines you and moves your soul.
So, my “resolution” for the year – for lack of a better word; perhaps “self-care” is more appropriate – is to find my misplaced art. Maybe it’s picking up a handicraft (my Choix de’année with my partner), or visiting an old friend – auditions are a thing around my home – or starting something totally new.
But, with any good ol’ ambition/resolution/goal needs to come a plan. So, what am I gonna do to make
this happen?

1. TAKE CARE OF MYSELF. No, really. This has to happen before anything else. I have to make sure
I’m healthy, mentally acceptable*, dressed, clean, tidied … all that kind of stuff. This works for me personally, because it will help me focus better on what I have at hand. Some people work
better in chaos and mess; I don’t. I need a clean space, clean(ish) head, all that jazz, before I can
start. Maybe toss in some hygge now and again. A good bath bomb … maybe make a bath bomb… aww shit yeah.

2. SET ASIDE THE TIME. Like any good habit-establishment (habitablishment?), time should be set
aside to make it part of your routine. So, for this, I plan to set aside one hour a week for art. In this case, it will be an hour (at minimum) for art, no matter what kind of art that is … writing, painting, music … one hour a week. 20 minutes a day, three days a week, or maybe even 10 minutes a day for six days a week. You catch my drift.

3. DO THE DAMN THING. Well, what good is goal setting and careful planning if you don’t actually do the thing? Asking for a friend.

4. BE OKAY WITH MISTAKES. Okay, because I am human, I’m gonna fuck up. I’m gonna have bad mental health days, or days where I just can’t even. So, I have to allow myself days off. If I expect perfection, then I’m expecting failure (#clicheasfuck). It’s okay to take breaks or make mistakes. Perfection is a myth anyways.

5. CELEBRATE THE ART. Now that the art is happening, it’s time to celebrate and share!
Collaborate! Expand beyond that! Try a new art! Lather, rinse, repeat!
Let’s do this.

But, all in all, Pinterest-esque goal setting aside: the thing I love about my evolution as an artist is that its never been isolated to one form of art – I’ve been an actor, a comedian, a writer, a musician, and a speaker. Perhaps my voice will be found in a new medium this year, with a new message and a new tone.With practice and patience, I believe art can come back into my life.

And that, to me, sounds like something worth skipping a sad-nap for.

-Emily Gresbrink is a midwestern born and bred human with a knack for zesty one-liners and performance art. She is currently a M.S. Candidate at the University of Minnesota in Scientific and Technical Writing. In her spare time, she enjoys officiating roller derby, cuddling her cat, and rediscovering what it means to be an artist.

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Tristan Miller’s Top 10 Podcasts of 2017

Hey, do you like podcasts? I sure do!

Hey, I love podcasts how about you?

I thought I’d share some of my favorites that I listened to this last year!

  • 1. The Cryptid Keeper Podcast

In the Cryptid Keeper Podcast Addison Peacock and Alex Flanigan pick a Cryptid to discuss that week ranging from El Chupacabra to Santa Claus. For those of you unfamiliar, Cryptid is a slang term for Cryptozoological creatures, e.g. Bigfoot, the monster from Loch Ness, and possibly Jesus Christ. (There have been sightings.) Addison and Alex are a delight to listen to,  and with an enthusiasm that is rarely matched they create a podcast that is fascinating, entertaining, and has some of the most positive energy I’ve seen in the medium. Thank you for Keeping us safe.

  • 2. Wonderful!

In Wonderful, internet podcast power couple Rachel and Griffin McElroy share with you the things in their life that bring them the most joy! Soft pretzels, Nick Drake, Chanukah, and Virtual Reality are all considered with all the jubilation one can muster for one’s favorite things. They also share with their audience things that their listeners enjoy, which gives one the opportunity to reflect on what one might find the most joy in on the daily. I constantly fight the temptation to send them their own podcast as the thing I find most Wonderful. It’s an incredibly opportunity to let joy into your life! You two are truly wonderful.

3. Force Center

Force Center is a Star Wars review and round up feed that features a few different shows. In the main show Joseph Scrimshaw,  Ken Napzok, and Jennifer Landa discuss Star Wars news or themes. They also feature Data Bank Brawl in which they make obscure Star Wars characters fight in a fan-fiction-esque battle to the possible death, and Star Wars Ranked in which they create Star Wars top ten lists. The reason this show is so important to me is that in a time where ideas in fandoms are polarized and heated, these three positive and thoughtful folks come together to share in the joy of one of my favorite things of all time. The center of these programs is the childlike delight we take in story, learning lessons, myth, and super cool space battles.

  • 4. Queery with Cameron Esposito

In Queery, stand up comedian and writer Cameron Esposito sits down with guests to discuss sexuality and identity. As a CIS White Male™ this choice might seem an odd one. What you need to understand is two things: One, Cameron is one of the funniest working comics and it has both nothing and everything to do with the fact that she is super gay. Two, as someone who isn’t queer this is a very enlightening and engaging way to learn about what it is like to be someone else. Everyone is facing struggles, or differences, or hardships, and the only way to help to normalize these experiences is by listening, and then taking what you’ve heard and applying it. Thank you, Cameron, for your frank look at identity and art.

  • 5. The Adventure Zone

Okay, so this is my favorite podcast. I was going to pretend that I like them all the same amount, but I love this one with all my heart. If I could marry a concept it’d definitely be this one. We’d probably get a divorce. (My fault, not its.) This is the best long-form storytelling narrative I’ve ever had the privilege of experiencing. What the McElroys do is wonderful: They go from hilariously blasphemous to so sincere that you will be crying on your train commute. What Griffin McElroy accomplishes in the Balance Arc (think of it as season one), is incredible. The slow burn to what can only be described as the end of days, has in it the best use of a Chekov’s Gun I’ve ever heard tell of. This podcast has heart, heroes, and is incredibly sensitive to its audience in the kindest way possible. I cannot wait to see which new thing they choose for season II, as all of the test plays they’ve been going through have been immaculate. Great job, boys.

  • 6. The Turnaround with Jesse Thorn

In Turnaround, Jesse Thorn interviews interviewers. He speaks to Marc Maron, Katie Couric, Larry King, Ira Glass, and a few others in this limited run podcast. Now, as someone who does interviews as well, it was great to learn at the feat (intentional) of these masters. To learn how to be truly present and engaged in the moment is the key of any great interviewer, and the exploration that Jesse hands us is wonderful. The fact that Jesse, an accomplished and skilled interviewer himself, is willing to sit and learn with you is incredible. Thank you very much, Jesse, for your kindness.

  • 7. Judge John Hodgman

I know, I know. It’s been around for a bit. I just found it. It is incredible. I’m a huge fan of what Hodgman does in general, but the way he has distilled what makes him hilarious so well into an hour long podcast is a feat of alchemy that never ceases to amaze me. But more than him being funny, he is most often right in what he passes as judgements. His advice is always practical, kind, and at its heart, a compromise. He is someone from whom we must learn. This is the sound of a gavel.

  • 8. Hang Out With Me (A Myq Kaplan Podcast)

Now, I have to be honest with you: I’ve guested on this podcast, which is a reason I like it. But more than that, I like Myq. He is a good friend of mine. He is also thoughtful, hilarious, kind, and knows how to listen to his guests. His program is a very fine one and never fails to cheer me up. At its center the program feels as though not only does Myq want you to feel the joy that he clearly does in learning about someone, but also he wants pass everything he has/can learn onto you. His guests are always varied and diverse from someone who works at NASA, to psychologists, comedians, and musicians. Thanks, Myq, for both having me on and listening as well as you do.

  • 9. Likely Mad as Hell

So Rhea Butcher is a fantastic comic and loves baseball. I like to believe I have at least one, if not two things in common with her. In her eight episode podcast run, she discussed the 2017 World Series. I love how much she loves the game and how big of a nerd she clearly is about it. Her insight is wonderful and positive, even in the face of what happened.  I love her frank attitude about baseball and its social meaning. I deeply hope that once the season starts up again she will as well.

  • 10. Radio Free Burrito

The kindness with which Wil Wheaton approaches not only this podcast, but his life is astounding. In Radio Free Burrito Wil shares a bit of his life and also some excellent music. He is so very uplifting in these programs that I have welled up with tears and self-belief so many times on the train going into work that I cannot count them. Wil has a gift of making you feel not only loved but also that you are not alone in your self-doubt, your anxieties, but that through those things you can learn to love deeper. He also is very funny. Thank you, Wil.

  • Honorable mention: ‘Til Death do us Blart

Okay, so Until Death do us Blart only comes out once a year on Thanksgiving Day. But it is worth it. From the folks behind Worst Idea of All Time and My Brother, my Brother, and Me comes the strangest idea for a podcast I’ve ever heard. They watch and review Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 every year from now until the end of Time. Each host will be replaced as they slowly die off. This is a hilarious look at how you can make anything fun by adding a strange meta-narrative.

Thank you for reading! I hope you saw some you liked and some you didn’t know. (I hope you listen to both!) Thank you to all the content creators that made this year get-throughable.

 

 

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Cinemanic – It’s Always been this Way – Katelyn Sweetapple

It’s Always Been This Way

[This is part 1 in a series of essays reviewing TV shows in 2017 that have dealt with mental illness]

I initially was planning to write about several shows in one essay, but as I was working on this, I realized the shows are so different, not only in the mental illness they tackle, but the ways in which they do so.

There have been a lot of articles that have talked about the representation of mental illness in FXX’s You’re The Worst, especially in terms of how Gretchen’s depression manifests–all you need to do is searching “you’re the worst depression” and you’ll find a plethora of articles. One thing that I haven’t seen covered quite as well though, is why Gretchen’s abandonment issues, especially in terms of her mental illness, is so important.

One of the ways the shows reinforces a lot of its themes is through mirroring certain moments to emphasize their significance.

These include the all night phone conversations between Jimmy and Gretchen:

Season 1

Season 4

Jimmy proposing to Becca…

…in the same place he later proposes to Gretchen

(Side note, this was confirmed by creator Stephen Falk)

There are plenty more (here,

But the one I think is the most significant is the progression from Jimmy asking Gretchen not to go on a trip with her ex…

…to when Jimmy decides to stay with Gretchen when she’s going through her depressive episode, and accepting that he can’t fix her…

…and him driving away, leaving her after proposing.

Season 4 primarily deals with the fallout of Jimmy leaving, but ultimately, Gretchen believing that whoever she’s involved with will eventually leave her (hell, it’s in the damn theme song). The ultimate revelation in the season though comes when Gretchen realizes, though she wants someone to fight for her, for someone to not leave, for someone to love her–she doesn’t need it. She needs to fight for herself, to stop running from the things that are hard, to love herself. What she does is chooses herself. She doesn’t need Jimmy’s love…but she does choose it at the end. Realizing that she doesn’t need Jimmy’s love doesn’t mean she has to shut herself off from it.

However, through the course of the season, Gretchen exhibits a lot of REALLY harmful behavior, both for herself and other people. I think a lot of this has to do with Gretchen never really learning how to properly process negative emotions, and instead covering it with drinking, drugs, and other risky behavior. In addition, she also seems to believe that her actions exist in a bubble, and that their consequences only effect her. You see this throughout the season: with her shirking her work responsibilities and not realizing the impact it has on the band; when she returns home and her and Heidi play a game of suuuuuuper messed up truth or dare with a group of underaged teens and not realizing just how messed up it is until the end; pretty much everything she does with Boone and his daughter. While Gretchen is hellbent on self-destruction, she doesn’t recognize that she’s effecting other people’s lives as well.

That said, while the show explains that these behaviors are largely rooted in a fear of abandonment, it doesn’t excuse them as a result of mental illness. This is where I feel the show is really differs from many earlier representations of mental illness in media, and is what makes it great. You also see this in other shows like Bojack Horseman, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Love. The point, though, is not that these characters are necessarily bad people, but rather that they’ve never learned healthy coping mechanisms.

The reason this is really significant in terms of talking about mental illness is to combat the idea that mental illness is easily “fixed” (whether by love or medication) or that a person with mental illness can’t live a regular life (those outdated, dangerous representations like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest  or any of the plethora of “single white female” movies–something I’ll discuss more when I get to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend). While Gretchen does learn to cope her depression in season 3 by going to therapy, and continues to take her medication, she’s not “cured.” Nor should she be.

One of the things that SUCKS about mental illness is that, many times, it’s chronic. Yes, medication can manage it; yes, therapy helps to talk things through as well as to help find coping mechanism; yes, identifying the root of certain behaviors in order to overcome them is helpful. But for many of us, including myself, it is a constant battle, and it can be exhausting knowing that it’s not as easy as a healing from a broken bone or the flu.

BUT that doesn’t mean we’re incapable of living “regular” lives. We have jobs. We have relationships. We mess up. We love. We do helpful things. We do harmful things. We are human. 

I’m interested to see where the show goes from here, especially since they’ve said the next season will be it’s last. I’m hopeful that the final season of You’re The Worst tackles that combating this is a constant, ongoing process.

-Katelyn Sweetapple

You may follow her on twitter or tumblr.