Monday, August 31, 2015

10 Bands That Need a BioPic

With the recent great success of biopics like "Straight Outta Compton" and "Love and Mercy" and the past success stories of musical biopics about Ray Charles, Johnny Cash and Jimi Hindrix (among dozens other) I think it's safe to say this is a great genre of film.

As a lover of music and all things musical I thought I'd put together my list of 10 Bands (or artists) that need a biopic. If anyone out there is working on one of these I'll be first in line to see it. I love biopics, especially about musicians. I'm really looking forward to the (no release date yet) biopic about Janis Joplin starring Amy Adams, by the way.

These are in no particular order...

1. Fleetwood Mac -- it's no secret there was love, then hate, then love, then hate between Lindsey Buckinham and Stevie Nicks, it's probably not a movie because neither of them want their drama and past lives out there for the world to see. But the music that was the result of the on-off romance was fantastic and there's a story that needs to be told.

2. Lynyrd Skynrd -- Did you know Ronnie Van Sant's grave has had more robberies and/or attempted robberies than any other celebrity grave in the US? That's totally true (probably because he's buried in a small public cemetery in the suburbs with a huge, clearly marked grave). I happen to be from the birthplace of Skynrd and think their story would make a great biopic.

3. Kurt Cobain/Nirvana -- I'm not sure why this hasn't been made yet with all the Nirvana freaks out there and all the conspiracy theorists who think he was murdered. Pretty sure the only reason is Courtney Love. Either way, great story, great tragedy and dare I say a great lesson for a lot of young people.

4. Elvis -- Sure there have been plenty of Made for TV movies about Elvis and his life but the King deserves a well respected biopic. Listen, the Johnny Cash biopic was fantastic, and won Reese Witherspoon an Oscar, the King is next. He deserves it.

5.Waylon Jennings -- speaking of artists briefly grazed over in "Walk the Line" Waylon Jennings is one of the greatest country song writers, booze drinkers and life livers there was/is, let's do it.

6. The Rolling Stones -- The Rolling Stones are why we have the saying "sex, drugs and rock'n roll" I don't care which song or album you pick, pick one and do a movie about it. Pick a member of the band, any member. Almost every article I read in Rolling Stone about artists in the 60's and 70's features some great, wild story about a run-in with the Stones. How do they not have their own biopic?

7. Eric Clapton -- again, pick a song, pick a time period, you realize you could do a biopic about Eric Clapton in 1994 or 1964 and both would be amazing stories?

8. Stevie Ray Vaughn -- Legendary. Amazing. Interesting.

9. Aretha Franklin -- I'm sorry Aretha that I got almost to end of the list before I got to you. I'm also sorry they made a biopic about Ike and Tina before you. All hail the queen.

10. Finally, Bob Marley -- There are plenty of documentaries about Marley and his movement but no biopics. And, I'd have to put up Andre 3000 as my nomination to play him, fantastic job as Jimi Hendrix and really a rising star who needs more acting opportunities. Bob Marley would be a great fit for him.

Ok so what did I miss? There were definitely a few I considered and many more 80-90's groups that would make an interesting story but I kind of feel like we can't tell their tales until we've covered some  of the legends. Seriously, why doesn't Elvis have a biopic?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Why I Went Back to Paper Planning


I went back to paper planning...

A few weeks ago I went back to paper planning. I ordered an Erin Condren  life planner and I started planning on paper again. 

I started using a planner in High School. I had to keep up with tests and classes and no one was going to do it for me. When I got to college my load doubled and my planner/calendar became my life. 

Let's not even talk about grad school...where I could barely keep up with my planner or classes, but I worked it out. 

After that I began working full time in a church and planning was a lot more lax. I used a paper calendar to write down things I needed to remember but my weekly schedule was pretty much the same. I started to get a little more fluid with my schedule and things I wanted or needed to do became an after thought. I had plenty of time to do things and if I didn't do something, it wasn't the end of the world. Most things I "wanted" to do were more thoughtful -- like sending cards or care packages and making calls. It wasn't that I didn't need to do these things, they were just less important than writing sermons, visiting people and taking care of pastoral needs. 

And I was using an online calendar. My iphone, ipad and laptop would all sync together. Plus, I could add reminders -- my phone would beep or ring 15-20 minutes before an event. 

But my digital calendar soon became a problem. I had work stuff, personal stuff, youth stuff, church stuff all on this calendar that barely fit on the screen of my iphone. So if I wanted to look at everything I was doing this month or week I had to tell it to show me all my events and then they didn't fit. I could only see the time or color or first word of an event. It wasn't helpful. Even on my giant computer screen at work all of my schedule wouldn't fit. 

So a few weeks ago a friend began posting pictures of her Life Planner on her instagram and I was hooked. I ordered one right away and went nuts with planning. 

It's not that it's "nuts" per-say as much as it's freedom. I could finally fit everything I needed to do in one place. I could put personal stuff, meetings, dinners, work related things and so much more. It's like journaling and planning all at the same time. 

But I think the most important thing is this -- I get things done. I get lots of things done. I make lists days and weeks in advance and I check things off throughout the week. I have a much more productive schedule. I take time to have a full morning of prayer and Bible study just for myself because I schedule it, remember it and don't get distracted. I write notes and cards to people every single week because I schedule it Wednesday mornings. And I plan who I'm going to write to a week or so in advance. 

I keep track of things now like when I do laundry, when I pay bills, how many bills I pay and on what date (online bill pay makes this harder, especially auto withdraws so before I wrote it down I really didn't know these things). 

It's also a great place to keep track of things, all things. Like the list of kids going on this trip, who is on what committee, when I need to email this or that. 

The biggest difference is this -- I've stopped relying on my own ability to remember things and started having things written down. Instead of thinking "I should write a note to XYZ" I write their name on a post-it and stick it on next weeks' page. I don't feel as stressed about what I'm doing with my time and I feel ten times more productive. 

Good luck planning! 


Friday, August 7, 2015

11 REAL Reasons Your Little Sister is Your Biggest Blessing


Forget all that mushy sentimental stuff, here are 11 REAL, TRUE reasons your little sister is your biggest blessing...

1. She always knows where your stuff is...because she freaking took it. Seriously, do not bring new items you really like around her, they will disappear. She's like a blood hound. The good news is, things don't actually go missing, she has your new favorite mascara. 

2. Built in maid of honor...she can be your maid of honor so you don't have to pick between all your awesome friends you like more than her and if she screws it up the entire family will be judging here. Plus, mom will kill her. 

3. Guaranteed future cult member...remember when you were kids and your mom said you could each get ONE magazine from the grocery store but you wanted two so you talked your sister into getting the other one you wanted instead of the soccer mag she really wanted? Boom! One day when you start that cult you always wanted to start guess who will be your first (and most loyal) member? 

4. More secrets than the CIA...who has all the dirt on you? Yeah that girl. If the CIA ever comes knocking at your door they have nothing on your little sister. The good news is it goes both ways, toe the line baby sis or I'll tell mom and dad about "Claudia." 

5. Free Body Guard Service...that jerk who treated you badly doesn't know what's about to hit him in the middle of the Mexican restaurant when your little sister happens upon him unexpectedly eating his soft tacos. 

6. Someone always thinks you're funny...it's your little sister's job to think you're funny. When you decide to toss your nice stable career for a shot at stand up she has to laugh and see number 5 for what happens to those who don't. 

7. Lifetime of free therapy...if your younger sister is a therapist you get free therapy. And there's like no end to it. I mean, she will hang up on you, but still, you know where she lives. 

8. Advocacy work with mom and dad...if you really want something, get her to ask, they always say yes to her. Even better, make it seem like it was her idea. She's the genius right?

9. Inside jokes...your friends will forget all your childhood inside jokes (except for you, you remember all of them, why aren't they still funny?) but your sister, oh hell no, those suckers are still alive and kicking. You down with LGP? Yeah, you know me. That will never not be funny. Save the zebras!

10. The odd coincidences never get old...isn't it weird when you go to her house and find she has the exact same family photos framed, the exact same wine in the fridge halfway drank and exactly 4 months old, and the exact same channels saved to her "favorites" list? That stuff never gets old. 

11. When she's in trouble...get out the popcorn. When mom and dad find out about that tattoo, oh man that day will be awesome. It's made even better by the fact that you've known about the tat for months (see number 4) and you've been telling her she better fess up before they accidentally see it. But you're always there to tell her you like (honestly, it's super cute) and mom and dad will get over it...someday. 

So there, 11 REAL reasons your little sister is a blessing. I mean really, that mushy stuff was nice but not how it is, this stuff on the other hand all really happened. I will note that mom and dad already know about Claudia, blame that on one my brother in law and the tattoo reveal happened years ago. Thanks for sticking up for me in the Mexican Restaurant though, that guy was a jerk.

Monday, January 26, 2015

(Un)Resolved

I've been thinking a lot about resolutions. Not just the New Years kind but resolutions in general. I'll get to the new year in a bit but first, let me tell you about some unresolved things in my life. 

I am one of the few unscathed, unscarred, un damaged 80's kid out there. The 80's and some of the 90's were full of stories of horrible things happening to kids. They were the years where step parents, aunts,uncles and neighbors were exposed and parenting took a major turn -- from trust teachers and neighbors to trust no one. 

I escaped with only tragedies you might call "minor" if not something less. But many of my friends and even a few family members did not. 

I don't have the kind of unresolved issues I might need to write about. 

But I do have what I might call an unresolved path -- a sliding doors kind of path in my early 20's that might have changed it all. 

I'll begin by saying I never wanted to get married when I was young. I wanted to get married, I just sincerely didn't think at 20 years old I was dating the man I would spend my life with. But I was dating someone casually who was pretty wonderful and a good fit for me. I'm not going to waste time on the barf-worthy details of his height, weight, and amazing qualities I'll just say he was dreamy in my eyes and our relationship set me on fire. 

On fire. I was ablaze for this man, in my heart. When I thought about him I felt fluttery. But I did not tell him. if love at first sight exists that is what happened the day I met him. But I never told him. Our deeply romantic rides in the car where we listened to the perfect music with the windows down were heavenly but I never said so. The CDs he made me, the way he smelled, the wine he picked for us to drink, the way he played guitar for me in the dark when the power went out....all these things were the things I loved and wanted but I did not ever say this to him. 

Why? I will tell you the truth. I thought he was acting. I thought he wasn't sincere. I thought there were other women. I thought it was all a game. I thought he didn't love me in return. Because he never said so either. He did not say he loved me. He did not tell me, he acted it out but I did not see it as genuine. I thought this was his routine, like the sleezey guy in a rom-com, I thought it was all part of a play and I was just Act 2 or 3. 

I thought for sure as soon as I left his house he was calling another girl. This wasn't all my own insecurities, I promise. There were piles of evidence. He kept a framed picture of an "ex" in his office. He never introduced me to friends or family. He never talked about his feelings for me, he never said he loved me or wanted a future with me. We didn't talk about the future at all. It was day to day. Moment to moment. 

So yes, it is unresolved. It is a sliding doors type thing. What if, in those first few months I had told him? What if, what if, what if? 

Thinking about this relationship is like driving into a tunnel and not ever seeing the exit. I could delve in and stay there for a long time. I could swim in it. I could drown in it. But there is one thing that keeps me afloat; I don't want to delve. I want to let it be. Let it lie. Let it float away, further and further into my memories. 

Saying that something is unresolved often feels like it's a bad thing. Like you left a puzzle on your dining room table with 3 pieces out. Why would you do that? Go back and out those pieces in! Finish the damn puzzle!! It's not like that for all things. This unresolved feeling I have is kind of like a 6th toe, it grew there and just stayed. Some people live with a sixth toe made of abuse, hatred and anger. It could be worse. 

Every now and then I mention him in conversation. Or I think about what might have been. Here is the lesson I've learned: our memories are often rose colored and our regrets are often stained black. Reality is somewhere in between. Life is in between resolved and unresolved. Love is stronger than any of these things. If our love was real and yet unspoken I believe it's voice won't be silenced forever. This may not mean resolution and truly I am ok with that. Thank you for listening. 



Thursday, December 4, 2014

(Un)Carnation

In 1988 we were living in the first home my parents built themselves. Well, they hired people who built the home, this isn't a Little House on the Prairie-type story.

It was a beautiful 3 bedroom home with a huge backyard in a neighborhood full of children. I had a happy childhood. That is the end of that statement. There is no "but" or "except" my childhood was happy.

The only thing I can say that perhaps made my childhood unpleasant was me. I was full of anxiety and fear as a child. To this day, we still don't know why. I say "we" because I have discussed it at length with my parents and at times a counselor. But the only conclusion is that I was very simply a sensitive child. Things upset me.

Around 1988 the thing that upset me the most was the man with one arm. This was not a real man this was "scary" story (as scary as a story can be as told by a 7 year old) I had heard at a sleepover. To the best of my recollection it was about a man who died and then someone dug him up and took one of his arms so he haunted that person looking for his arm. The person kept the arm in a box under their bed.

I was terrified. I could not sleep at night. I did not have any way to understand ghosts, death, or amputation. To top it all off, let's just say some things happen so strangely in life, our neighbor across the street worked for a company that sold false limbs to doctors to fit onto amputees. There were arms all over his garage. No joke, this is for real. Every time we went over to their house to play with their kids I had to walk past lots of unattached arms.

As a child, especially during this time, death had nothing to do with God. There was no Jesus who defeated death. There was no Kingdom of Heaven or Communion of the Saints. There were dead people all around us. They were ghosts and if you took their arm they were going to follow you and haunt you and make your life miserable especially after dark.

Death was something sad and bad that happened but after that it got even worse, especially if you had unfinished business or one of your limbs was missing. Ghosts were real, not even my copy of the King James Bible, Precious Moments addition that my grandma gave me could solve this problem. Scary movies and scary stories were a depiction of real life.

In other words, my idea of incarnation was uncarnation -- ghostly. There was no presence of God, there was presence of evil. The idea that God came and walked among us as Jesus and then died as a human had died was no where to be found. Ghosts, however, were everywhere.

I have to tell you the way this tragedy got resolved is quite funny. In fact, I'm pretty sure my parents had a hand in it. After weeks of amputated ghost fear my parents let me have a sleepover. For no reason and out of the blue. As we lay on the floor in our sleeping bags the one-armed ghost story came up and I mustered up the courage to ask, "What happened to the man, the one who took his arm?" My friend smiled and said "He gave the ghost his arm back and the ghost said 'thank you' and left him alone."

The nightmares stopped. The fear of arms stopped (although let's all take a minute to recognize that the false limbs in the garage is totally crazy, right? Right?) and life went back to normal.

I didn't understand incarnation until I was in seminary. I have no idea if I could have understood it then. I'm not sure I would have understood Jesus at all during this time. I'm not sure I would have understood God or Heaven or death in any better way.

Parents in my congregation struggle to explain Easter and Christmas and Jesus and incarnation all the time. I'm sure my parents struggled.

And I don't believe in ghosts, by the way. I stopped believing in ghosts when I realized God loves us. Perhaps that is where we start with our children, no matter how young they are. God loves us. When we die we go to be with God. Why? Because God loves us. There are no ghosts because God loved those people too and God would never leave someone behind to be miserable and haunting, yes, even if they had two arms and someone took the one. No, Bloody Mary does not appear in the bathroom mirror if you say her name 3 times (the next terrifying thing that kept me from going to the bathroom after dark) because she is with God.

Rev. Jessi Higginbotham
Delray Beach, FL





Monday, November 17, 2014

(Un)Gratitude

I thought I'd at least have 20 or 30 more years before I started saying "Kids, these days..." I thought I'd eventually, someday, become the old lady sitting on her porch, surrounded by cats, screaming "Stay off my lawn!" but I thought I had a few more years, 10 at the very least. But it seems lately kids these days exemplify the term "ungrateful." I work with kids everyday. The other day I mentioned that cell phones didn't exist until I was in college and one asked, "What did you do if you had to call someone?" Seriously.

"We attached notes to pigeons feet." I responded. Ungrateful! Kids these days! Stay off my lawn!
(I don't even have a lawn I live in an apartment.)

I try to be careful when I call myself an optimist. Mostly because I worked with someone a few years ago who called herself "Pollyanna" even though she was the most negative person I've ever, ever, ever met. So I'm careful when saying I'm an "eternal optimist" because I might just be the opposite and I don't even know it.

But I am an optimist so my disgust with ungrateful kids has got to have a silver lining somewhere. Actually, kids these days make me even more grateful.

I remember when I started to be grateful for my parents. I was 17 and I had spent the last few teenage years being completely unbearable. I mean seriously why didn't someone put me on a boat and set me out to sea? I had been on a roll for a least 3 years when my family was struck by the sudden death of my dad's father. He had been sick for years with cancer but died very suddenly of a heart attack.
It wasn't his death that made me grateful. It was his funeral. For the first time I sat on the front row at a funeral. It was the biggest funeral I had ever been to, hundreds of people and they all sat behind me. I sat between my dad and my sister. And I cried. A lot. I cried for the first time at a funeral. I sobbed. I was the one everyone was passing tissue to. Even my grandma didn't cry as much as I did that day. In one vivid, clear, distinct moment my mom reached over my dad and took my hand and held it tightly and my dad put his arm around me and we were a unit. A broken, sad, grieving unit.

And I was grateful.

I left for college soon after that and I called home almost every single day my first semester, something I swore would never happen once I was out of that "horrible" house. Once I was away from my "terrible, awful, evil" parents I wasn't even going to call them.

But after that funeral, I never looked at my parents the same way. I don't know what clicked, or changed, or fixed that day. It almost sounds cliche or silly but it all happened in one day.
It gives me hope, that one day the same will happen to the kids I work with. And they aren't awful. They're just kids. Just like I was. I was one kid who had it all and I didn't know it until I knew it. These kids are the same.

Ungratitude is fleeting. It is a blink the long stare of life. It only goes until it stops and then it stops and the world is different.  Maybe it will happen in an instant and the kids these days will remember it for the rest of their lives like me or maybe it will happen slowly and gradually.
I guess my ungratefulness for the kids' ungratefulness makes me grateful that eventually I became grateful for all I have.

Rev. Jessi L. Higginbotham
Delray Beach, FL

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Newest Chapter

October 2014 
UNCO 
San Francisco 
Writing Group
Begins in November