The Teresa Jusino Experience

Create Like An Activist

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The Experience Podcast, Episode 1: Introducing the Experience

Heidelberg, Germany - 1986 - Me

IT’S HERE, IT’S HERE! (Finally!)

Welcome to The Teresa Jusino Experience Podcast, in addition to my new, fancy domain! 🙂 Check it out! It’s teresajusino.com from now on, y’all! Because I’m an ADULT.

TJE Podcast, Episode 1: Introducing the Experience

In the first-ever episode of The Teresa Jusino Experience Podcast, Teresa shows you what you can expect from The Experience. She also fills you in on what’s going on with her writing, talks about why she loves Mindy Lahiri on The Mindy Project, and starts to tell you the story of the time she almost got left in Berlin when she was a kid. 

Show Notes: 

Check out my column at Beacon.

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The Art of Asking, Making Decisions, and Being Thankful

I had the pleasure of attending Amanda Palmer’s event for her new book, The Art of Asking, at the First Unitarian Church in Los Angeles this weekend. I’ve been looking forward to the book, which is based on her awesome TED talk, for a long time, because she espouses a view that I firmly believe in – that asking (for help, for support, for guidance, for what we want and need) isn’t audacious because it’s shameful or selfish, nor is it a sign that you are incompetent, because you can’t do things on your own; and that giving to one who asks doesn’t mean you’re being taken advantage of simply because you had the audacity to give. I was looking forward to reading this book about how Palmer’s history of asking has propelled her forward – mostly because asking has propelled me forward.

I’ve asked for job opportunities, for financial assistance, for guidance, for connections. And I believe I’ve evened out the scales by providing help in return, by paying it forward, by offering writing that people seem to find valuable for whatever reason. People seem to marvel at how easily I ask, and receive. I think it’s because 1) I never expect a “yes.” “No” is always an acceptable answer; and 2) I give freely when I’m asked for things, be they time, money, expertise, or anything else. If I have it, and can give it, it’s yours. Trades are even so long as both sides are getting something they value. The arrangement doesn’t have to make sense to any outside party.

But the event itself was about more than just the topic of asking. It was a mixture of Palmer reading excerpts from the book, playing some songs, and having an on-stage conversation with legendary music writer, Bob Lefsetz, and her “book doula,” Jamy Ian Swiss. Some highlights:

1) Palmer sang “The Bed Song” in complete darkness: I sat snuggled next to The Boy as we Had a Moment, and I realized that this song is the complete opposite of our relationship. And I’m so grateful for that. 🙂 (Fun fact: Amanda Palmer’s music is one of the first things we bonded over when we got together, and this was the first Palmer event we’ve attended together.)

2) Massage therapist Courtney, from Seattle: in The Art of Asking, Palmer tells a story about dealing with internet hate, and how she was feeling particularly shitty about it on her birthday as she was being pilloried over the “She’s Not Paying Musicians” kerfuffle. She and her husband were in Seattle, and he booked her a massage to make her feel better. As it turns out, the massage therapist, Courtney, had written some scathing, deeply angry things about Palmer on the internet, and wasn’t going to take the appointment with Palmer at first. But she did, and she told Palmer before the massage that she wanted to be completely honest about having written things about her, and not being her biggest fan, etc, etc, giving her an out if she wanted one. But Palmer stayed, Courtney gave her a full-body massage in silence, and it was apparently a hugely healing experience for both of them. Well, Courtney was in attendance at the L.A. event, and it was cool to hear her and Palmer talk about what fuels internet anger and what can lessen it. Courtney, a singer-songwriter herself, sang a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Hey You,” which both sounded amazing and was hugely appropriate. It was a really heartwarming and inspiring moment. People can change. Wounds can heal. Relationships can be formed despite a tumultuous beginning.

3) The part about Henry David Thoreau: my favorite excerpt – the one that made me really glad I bought The Art of Asking – was the part where she humorously talks about Thoreau and the experiences that lead to his famous work, Walden, which is entirely about living living simply and independently apart from society to gain perspective on it. People hold it up as an ode to self-sufficiency while ignoring the fact that the cabin he was staying in was on a friend’s land, and that his mother and sister brought him food (including doughnuts!) every day. We wouldn’t have a book like Walden if an artist didn’t get support from a tight-knit community of people believing in him and helping him live day-to-day so that he could produce his great work.

A sweet moment I captured between Palmer and a young fan who brought her a piece of art she made.

A sweet moment I captured between Palmer and a young fan who brought her a piece of art she made.

So, what does all this have to do with me? 

The entire evening of conversation about art, asking, pursuing passions, the business of entertainment, and the place where hard work and creativity meet got all the wheels turning in my head about what I want to focus on and what I want my career/writing/life to look like in the coming year. You may have noticed that my output has been low lately. I haven’t posted much this month here at the blog, or over at Beacon. Writing-wise, I’ve been in a cocoon trying to nurture the stories I’m creating and laying low on the internet. I’ve been working on the production side on Incredible Girl. I’ve been meeting weekly w/my writing partner, Adam, to work on our hour-long pilots. I’ve met w/my writing mentor and am working on developing a project with her, and I’ve met yet another, kind writer who’s agreed to show Adam and me the ropes to the best of his ability.

What I want and need most is the freedom to pursue the projects that are most meaningful to me. I’ve been a pop culture critic for a long time, writing about all things geeky, interviewing geeky creators and actors, analyzing television and film from a feminist perspective or through the prism of race. It’s work that’s important, and that I enjoy doing. But my ultimate goal is to create stories. To write things that will eventually be criticized by other pop culture critics. To make things up for a living. 🙂 I’ve built a name and a career on my non-fiction, and since that’s where a bulk of my money has come from, it’s what I’ve focused on. Because hey, writers gotta eat.

What I’ve been wrestling with as we approach the end of the year is starting to make decisions based on the path I want to be on, rather than the path I have to be on. I’ve built a wonderful resume writing for some amazing outlets, but I want to start being paid for the stories I create, and there’s no way for me to do that if my writing time continues to be taken up with hustling for non-fiction gigs. I want to expend my hustle energy wisely! Of course, I’ll always want to talk about representation in media, or gender equality, or activism, and it’s likely that I always will somehow, but I don’t want, nor did I ever intend for that, to be my job.

Also, there’s the matter of needing to make more money, period, than freelance writing is paying me at the moment. However, I don’t want to take a full-time job unless it’s on the path I want to be on. I’ve spent too many years working jobs that go nowhere I want to go, running in a hamster wheel in the name of practicality.

What’s funny is that, even having flown across the country to Follow My Dreams, my decisions have been based more in fear and practicality than they have been in moving forward in the career I want. And yes, I’ve built up a quality resume as a writer. Now, I want that resume to reflect more of the writing I love.

Basically, if I’m gonna have a 9-5, it’s gonna be in the industry I want. And if I’m gonna be making freelancer money, it’s damn well going to be writing stuff I love, because the stress of this kind of life is just not worth it any other way. 

I have three major goals for next year:

  1. A full-time job anywhere in the television industry (office work in any department, PA, assistant, agency – doesn’t matter. As long as it’s in the television neck of the woods).
  2. A Patreon page, so that I can earn financial support for the projects and stories I want to be creating, rather than churning out writing that has outlived its usefulness to me.
  3. Adam and me getting to know L.A. (and the television industry specifically) as a Writing Team.

All of the decisions I make from now on to be in the service of these goals. 🙂

Lastly, since Thanksgiving is coming up, I want to say how grateful I am to all of you reading this. To those of you who’ve already supported my writing up until this point. To those of you who’ve reached out to me at various times to tell me that, for some reason or other, something I’ve written has struck a chord with you. To those of you who’ve subscribed to me at Beacon, purchased my chapbook, bought an anthology because I was in it, written a kind blog comment, or shown your support in any way over the past few years.

I write, because I hope that, by revealing the ideas and feelings rattling around inside me, you will recognize yourself and feel less alone. I hope that my work allows communities that don’t know each other well to get to know each other and communicate better. Your support makes me feel like my work is doing what it’s supposed to do, makes me feel like my work has value – and that is amazing. Thank you so much, and I hope that I can continue to contribute to your lives in a valuable way.

More to come… 🙂

NEW AT BEACON: “That Person is Racist” Vs. “That Costume is Racist”

For those of you who missed it on Halloween, here’s my latest piece at Beacon! It’s about planning costume choices based on your interests AND ensuring racial and gender equality. It IS possible for White people to dress as characters or celebrities of color – but it has to be done in a very specific way. I talk about this, and other things in the piece.

EXCERPT:

As I said, racism is about a power dynamic. One group has to be superiorand another group has to be inferior. In the case of costumes, White people have the power, because there are more White characters to choose from. And that’s the case, because minorities don’t have as much representation in pop culture as they should. There are more White celebrities to choose from. And that’s the case, because it is more likely that a White person will have the advantages that will allow them to make the choices that will lead to them being a celebrity (they’re in demand to play all those White characters, for starters). 

That freedom and variety of choice is the power in this situation. And so, when people talk about costume choices as racist, it’s not to say that the White people who do this are horrible or hate minorities. It’s to say that the act of choosing to appropriate cultural garb as a “costume,” or to paint your skin black or brown, or to apply make-up to your eyes to make yourself look Japanese or Chinese perpetuates a racist society by further appropriating things that have already had a difficult time surviving to begin with. It’s racist because, even with all the freedom of choice in the world, you’re choosing to take from someone else, rather than making use of the myriad options you already have.

To read the entire post, or to comment on it, CLICK HERE!

Whether you subscribe to me at Beacon or not, you can now read all of my posts for FREE for seven days. So feel free to not only read and comment, but pass the link around! Hopefully, you’ll like what you read enough (both my work and the work of some of the other talented writers at Beacon) to subscribe to me for as little as $5/month and enjoy all that Beacon has to offer!

And if you like what you read, don’t forget to click the “Worth It” button at the bottom of the article! 🙂 Thanks!

NEW AT BEACON: Saved By a Kiss: Neil Gaiman’s “The Sleeper and the Spindle”

Illustrations by Chris Riddell.

Today’s piece at Beacon discusses a new book for young readers written by one of my faves, Neil Gaiman, called The Sleeper and the Spindle.

EXCERPT:

It’s the story of a woman saving another woman, teaching that we can and should help each other, rather than compete. It’s the story of a queen who is unsure of marriage having an adventure and hoping to do something bigger with her life than just stick to the prescribed path of marriage-babies-death. It’s the story of a woman who sees something that needs doing and is capable of solving the problem herself, rather than calling the nearest man to do it. In a fairy tale setting, that’s huge, because so often, girls are taught to wait for princes.

To read the full article and/or comment on the article, CLICK HERE! That’s right! Whether you subscribe to me at Beacon or not, you can now read all of my posts for FREE for seven days. So feel free to not only read and comment, but pass the link around! Hopefully, you’ll like what you read enough (both my work and the work of some of the other talented writers at Beacon) to subscribe to me for as little as $5/month and enjoy all that Beacon has to offer!

And if you like what you read, don’t forget to click the “Worth It” button at the bottom of the article! 🙂 Thanks!

NEW AT BEACON: "ANNOUNCEMENT: New Feature at Pop Goes Teresa" (and FREE TRIALS)!

There’s a new feature up at my Pop Goes Teresa column at Beacon where you can talk TV with me and fellow Beacon readers! (not to mention a special offer below!)

EXCERPT:

Starting later today (with Gotham), I’ll be posting discussions in the Updates section of my profile (subscribers will be emailed whenever a new discussion posts). They’ll go up the day after each show airs every week, and I’ll start each discussion thread with a topic or a question to get ‘er going. This way, you can stop by and discuss the current episodes with me and your fellow Beacon readers! Look for [SHOW TITLE IN CAPS]: [Title] [date] in the list of discussions, and keep coming back to join in the chat about the shows you love! 

If you want to check out the full list of shows I’ll be writing about, you’ll have to subscribe to my work over at Beacon! Starting at only $5/month, you’ll be able to access all my pop culture criticism, as well as the work of 100+ other journalists writing about the topics you care about. Check it out! Once there, please click the “Worth It” button on the bottom of my article! (That is, if you actually like what I’ve written.)

And if you’ve been thinking about subscribing to Beacon, but you’re not sure if you’ll like it, HAVE I GOT GOOD NEWS FOR YOU! Email me at theteresajusinoexperience[at]gmail[dot]com with “BEACON TRIAL” in the subject line, and I’ll have Beacon send you a free trial to the site! If you like what the other Beacon writers and I do and think we add at least $5.00 a month’s worth of value to your life, you can subscribe after the trial! (And hey, it’d be nice if you subscribe specifically to me so that I can go on doing the work I do. Don’t worry, you’d still have access to the whole site!)

Happy reading, everyone!

NEW AT BEACON: Fall TV 2014-15: Newbies – Week of 9/22

Amy Landecker and Jeffrey Tambor in a scene from Transparent.

Last week was a bit wonky for me schedule-wise, so I didn’t get my usual Beacon post up, so I’ll be pulling triple duty this week! I’m trying to write about all the show premieres this week – both new and returning shows – that I’m watching and giving you my two cents! So here’s my sum-up of last week’s offerings! Shows include Gotham, Black-ish, How to Get Away With Murder, and Transparent! (You can expect my take on last week’s returning shows and this week’s offerings later this week!)

EXCERPT:

The last time I laughed this hard at a comedy pilot was for New Girl, and I think the reasons why I laughed so hard then are the same as why I laughed now. These characters and the way they view and experience the world felt very familiar to me. I’m not Black, but I am Latina, so I’m no stranger to having grown up in a minority culture, valuing that while also valuing mainstream success, and what a delicate balance that is. Creator Kenya Barris captures all the nuance of that balancing act with humor and kindness. There is so much love in this show, and though many of the jokes are very pointed, it’s never coming from an angry or malicious place, and it’s really the first show I’ve ever watched that captures that balancing act this accurately (if anyone has any other recommendations, let me know below!). The characters are also a lot of fun – I can’t wait to see more of “Pops” (Lawrence Fishburne plays him like a gruff teddy bear), and the kids are as nuanced as the adults.

If you want to read and comment on my full post, you’ll have to subscribe to my work over at Beacon! Starting at only $5/month, you’ll be able to access all my pop culture criticism, as well as the work of 100+ other journalists writing about the topics you care about. Check it out! Once there, please click the “Worth It” button on the bottom of my article! (That is, if you actually like what I’ve written.)

Thanks! 🙂

 

NEW AT BEACON: "Fall TV 2014-15 – The Girls Are Back! Mindy and Jess Return to FOX!"

It’s time for my weekly post at Beacon! And as shows continue to return for the current season, I’ll be spotlighting the shows I think are worth watching. This week, two of my favorite, female-fronted comedies returned to FOX. It’s all about The Mindy Project and New Girl!

EXCERPT:

One of the things that made me fall in love with [New Girl] from the pilot was the honest, real depiction of modern-day friendships. Many women I know are primarily friends with guys, and I loved that there was a show that was capturing that dynamic. The last thing I wanted was for any of the guys to be a love interest for Jess.

Then, Cece (Hannah Simone) and Schmidt happened. And Jess and Nick happened.

And while Jess and Nick were a cute enough couple, I think they make better friends, and I’m glad the dynamic is back to the way it was at the start of the show. It isn’t that Jess is One of the Guys – she’s very much a girly-girl. But she and her roomies look out for each other. They are friends, with no ulterior motives, and I like seeing that on television.

If you want to read and comment on my full post, you’ll have to subscribe to my work over at Beacon! Starting at only $5/month, you’ll be able to access all my pop culture criticism, as well as the work of 100+ other journalists writing about the topics you care about. Check it out! Once there, please click the “Worth It” button on the bottom of my article! (That is, if you actually like what I’ve written.)

Thanks! 🙂

NEW AT BEACON: "Fall TV 2014-15: Selfie"

 

This week at Beacon, I start talking about the shows, both new and returning, that I’m excited about this year! This week, it’s all about the new Karen Gillan show, Selfie.

EXCERPT:

3) The Problem Isn’t ‘Selfies,’ It’s Self.

A while back, I blogged about the fact that I HATE when people get self-righteous about not taking selfies/getting involved in social media/etc, etc as if internet life and “real life” were two different things, and pat themselves on the back for “tearing themselves away.” In fact, Henry on Selfie is just such a person. What I love about the show is that the message isn’t about how horrible this generation is for being wrapped up in social media. What it’s saying is: Caring about others is important. The reason why Eliza is friendless is not because she’s on Twitter all the time, but because when given the opportunity to be a kind person in real life, she often chooses the opposite. The thing is, Henry has the same problem, except he doesn’t have the excuse of a social media presence. Sure, he knows how to appear caring, and can successfully guide Eliza’s behavior and improve her image. Yet he, too, is friendless, alone, and awkward with people in his personal life. Social media is to Eliza what books and work are to Henry. These two characters coming into each other’s lives will benefit them both. Eliza is not the only one who needs fixing. 

If you want to read and comment on my full post, you’ll have to subscribe to my work over at Beacon! Starting at only $5/month, you’ll be able to access all my pop culture criticism, as well as the work of 100+ other journalists writing about the topics you care about. Check it out! Once there, please click the “Worth It” button on the bottom of my article! (That is, if you actually like what I’ve written.)

Thanks! 🙂

NEW AT BEACON: "Joan Rivers: Unapologetic"

I write a pop culture column over at Beacon. So it would be remiss of me to not talk about the passing of one of pop culture’s loudest satirists, the inimitable Joan Rivers.

EXCERPT: 

I’ve spent most of my life not a huge Joan Rivers fan. 

I know, I’m not supposed to say that now that she’s passed away (she died yesterday at the age of 81), but considering how outspoken and brash she was throughout her career, I’m sure she wouldn’t begrudge me the opportunity to speak my mind. 

Her jokes always seemed a bit dated to me – women either being sluts, or “not being able to catch husbands,” etc – and I found the way she tended to laugh between each joke, as if she wanted to fill in just in case no one in the audience found her funny, a bit grating. People of my generation have known of Joan Rivers’ existence for our entire lives. However, unlike Robin Williams, she rarely appeared in a context that we were allowed to enjoy as children, so we didn’t “grow up” with her in the same way. Her stand-up was either on late-night talk shows, which we couldn’t stay up and watch, or it was on cable, where it was allowed to be as raunchy as she could make it, and we weren’t allowed to watch. So, unless we were specifically interested in pursuing comedy as a career, my generation primarily grew up knowing Joan Rivers as That Annoying Woman on Awards Show Red Carpets Who Doesn’t Have Her Facts Straight and Is Embarrassing Us All. We grew up with parodies of Joan Rivers, and very often, Rivers seemed like a parody of herself. 

And this is a horrible shame. 

It wasn’t until I watched the brilliant documentary about her life and career,Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (IFC, 2010), that I truly began to understand just how much she contributed to comedy, to show business, and to feminism.

If you want to read and comment on my full post, you’ll have to subscribe to my work over at Beacon! Starting at only $5/month, you’ll be able to access all my pop culture criticism, as well as the work of 100+ other journalists writing about the topics you care about. Check it out! Once there, please click the “Worth It” button on the bottom of my article! (That is, if you actually like what I’ve written.)

Thanks! 🙂

NEW AT BEACON: How “The Heat” Is Less Funny in a Post-Ferguson World

I posted this over at Beacon on Friday, but was too lazy to promote it wanted it to be an exclusive for my Beacon subscribers first! I recently saw the Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy film The Heat for the first time recently, and I thought it less funny than I might have thought it in the theater since I watched it post-Ferguson.

EXCERPT:

Now, he was smoking a joint (and very stupidly kept waving it around). She was well within her rights to take him in. There’s no question about that. (We can have a discussion about our outdated, ineffectual, ridiculous drug laws another time) Also, it’s clear from their interaction that he’s had priors. They seem to know each other – probably because she’s brought him in before. My problem was in the way she stopped, not for the joint, but for a charge she just assumed he was guilty of, because he was sitting there “in the middle of all the prostitutes,” and greets him by calling him “My favorite asshole.” Then, she finds something to arrest him for, chases him, rams him with her car, and chases him down leaving the white guy free to escape. She never goes back for the white guy – apparently, because smoking a joint is way worse than soliciting a prostitute (I don’t think there’s anything wrong with either, nor do I think either should be illegal, but I digress…) – but she does manage to take the black kid down by throwing a watermelon at him. But we’re commenting on racism by doing this! That’s what makes this funny!, we’re meant to think. 

If you want to read and comment on my full post, you’ll have to subscribe to my work over at Beacon! Starting at only $5/month, you’ll be able to access all my pop culture criticism, as well as the work of 100+ other journalists writing about the topics you care about. Check it out! Once there, please click the “Worth It” button on the bottom of my article! (That is, if you actually like what I’ve written.)

Thanks! 🙂

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