“I’m a lot like my dad. I’m not very vulnerable. That’s mostly because I tend to be 1) A black man in America, and 2) I work in a field where I’m a black man in America and I have to be able to prove twice as hard that I’m right compared to whoever else might be in the room. Sex, race, gender, whatever, be damned. I’m learning now, that as much as I have a gift for empathy, I am a vault sometimes. So I'm trying harder to make space for myself and the people around me. Also new people. Because I want to be inspired. I think friction makes the work better. I like bumping up against other good minds, other good intellects, other good creativity, other expressions, other forms, other function. To do that though, you have to continue to be somehow open.”Read More
"Being able to be vulnerable with my partner and open myself up, which is difficult for me, to be honest. It's really difficult to discuss certain things, to open myself up to criticism, to change in partnership with someone. That's a big part of love for us. Something, like I said, I struggle with, I'm not good at, but I need to commit to being better at it. It's something I'm not good at necessarily, but because I love my my wife, I'm willing to become better at it."Read More
“There’s that phrase, ‘If you love something, set it free.’ I think that’s a principle that’s really difficult for everyone. Myself included. But it is something that I come back to sometimes. If you love something, you’re not trying to possess it or control it. That being said, I do think a lot of people are afraid of love and afraid of being vulnerable. Personally I think of being 'in love' as being willing to be radically open and radically vulnerable. I don’t really know another way to be. I usually try to demonstrate that to a partner. Being honest and open and sharing your emotions and sharing your spaces and sharing power.”Read More
"I've been in situations where I tried hard to make a relationship work, but it made me more unattractive. So that sometimes doesn't work. I feel like I've had a plethora of different kinds of relationships. Whether it just be a really really fun casual one or one where it was—the last person I dated, I was like, 'I'm probably going to marry this person.' And it didn't work out. She wanted a commitment sooner than later and I was down, but it was a long distance relationship. She wanted me to move to New York and I said that I totally will once my lease is up, but I think she was feeling some kind of pressure. She's a great lady. She was the greatest person I ever dated. I still regret it to this day."Read More
"There were some things I missed out on in some ways. My friends left for university and I was ready to do that, but I went into making a debut album. I knew with my heart it was what I wanted to do. It felt like a calling or a deeper purpose. But that idea of journeying with friends and going to university and having this tight group going through all these experiences together, it wasn't really something I had. I made new friends but a lot of them were a lot older than me and we got into music together, but I didn't have that same sisterhood feeling of, 'Yep, we went through college together.' But in saying that, you come to different maturities at different times of your life. I have that now in a really profound way. A really strong sense of female friends and male friends that I've made and shared so much with."Read More
"I still have the journal that I had when I was fifteen. I wrote an entry that was basically, 'I want to die. I can’t imagine being in a wheelchair all my life.' I’m so glad I have that. And my handwriting was even horrible, chicken scratch, that’s how depressed I was. Seeing that is crazy. People have asked me if I can relate to that girl. There’s part of me that’s in there, but then there’s a side of me that sees it as just the circumstance. Even though those were valid feelings, I can see now how life plays out in the sense that there’s a core you that can go through anything and those circumstances will overflow. It’s just like water. You can be on top of the water, under the water, you can be feeling like you’re drowning. Then at the end of the day it’s still you there figuring out that this is a shit storm. Then, wait, there’s land. And you can see the water from a different perspective."Read More
"Being shaken into consciousness whatever that shake is. The AA slang is your bottom is when you stop digging. For some people it takes a stroke. For some people it’s a broken nail. For some it’s real arrests and real problems. Everyone’s shake-up happens. Not everyone, but a lot of people go through this. You hope it happens in soft and gentle ways, but unfortunately that’s not always the case, sometimes it’s too late and there’s real damage done. Going through it isn’t easy. Once you emerge, perspective becomes real. How you live in love, how you live in gratitude. For me it dramatically shifted.Read More
"To me, the thing that struck me the most from the very earliest days at GrubStreet, really from our very first students when I really didn’t know what we were doing, people were so moved and transformed by just being together in a classroom and sharing work, which is a very hard and vulnerable thing to do, that they believed in each other and they believed in those of us teaching in those early classes, and they were always ready to step up and give us advice or feedback or help out so when GrubStreet officially became a non-profit, from the student body came our first board of directors. They helped with filling out the crazy and byzantine 501c3 paperwork and on and on. At every single stage of our development as an organization people have presented themselves showing up with just what we need at that moment. That’s about being as clear as you can be about the values and the vision and the mission.Read More
"The importance of when you’re playing in a band or a musical situation that it’s not about you. You’re trying to make the musicians and people around you as welcomed as possible. That’s with the people listening and watching or dancing, and the people you’re playing with. I call them—the best musicians are like elevators, you play one note with them and you jump in and they take you up, they make you better.
When you play music, listen to everything else that’s going on. Don’t just listen to what you’re doing. Otherwise you lose the big picture."Read More
"But something that’s been a struggle is that I’ve suffered with depression my whole life. I don’t know if I’d want to change it though, because it makes me who I am. It gives me that crazy edge which I think I need musically. And I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t met one musician that’s not absolutely fucking nuts in some way. We all have issues.
Me: What do you do to combat those issues when they come up?
Allen: Therapy. Music. Being around people. Sometimes not being around people. Pets. There’s a lot of stuff to do. I stay away from recreational drugs. I don’t really tap into that because that can make it worse.
I think depression would be the thing that I’d be better off without, but like I said, I don’t think I’d be better. It’s part of who I am."Read More
"My way of dealing with anger—and she and I have talked about this before because she’s told me that she has difficulty controlling her emotions—I was telling her about the books that I read. One of them teaches you how to see your anger. We all get mad, but the ultimate thing is that we have to really feel our anger. Not to control it or fight against it, but to feel the anger. “I’m feeling angry, but what is this anger? Do I feel my body temperature get hot? How do I feel?” Once you start to feel how your body physically reacts to your emotions, you’ll realize your emotions calm down because you’re now aware of it. Then you can try to think about why you’re so angry. Because the easier thing is to blame other people, blame things. “This person’s fucked up” or “This thing is fucked up.” But maybe not. Maybe you should dig deeper and ask, “Why am I so angry?” Because no one else is angry, you are angry. So then you can understand what that trick is that makes you so angry. Once you find out, it’s usually that maybe you’re too self-centered or you didn’t see it from someone else’s perspective. Or maybe you’re too rushed or too aggressive or too passive. That’s why these moments of anger go this way. Because of your you. You’re not saying it’s your fault, it’s just that you played a part in it that caused this anger. That made you angry. So just deal with it and let it go."Read More
"I feel like in every relationship that I’ve had that’s dissipated has gone away partly because of that. I’ve been divorced twice. For different reasons, but there are commonalities in all of them. That is something that’s fundamental in all relationships. Everybody wants to feel as if what it is that they’re thinking or what it is that they’re felling is at the very least acknowledged in a way where somebody appreciates what they’re thinking. They may not agree with it. But they can appreciate that you experience it. So yeah, of course.
Even anybody that’s had a job. Anybody that’s been in a huge metropolitan city. You walk around, you’re on the L, you’re surrounded by millions of people and you’re not connected to them in any way.
There’s a movie where this woman is working in a bookstore—it’s an Hal Hartley movie, I can’t remember the name—she’s just standing in the middle near these stairs and she keeps saying, 'Does anyone need any help? Does anyone need any help?' And of course no one even acknowledges her. It’s universal. Disconnection is built into this society. In good ways and bad ways."Read More
"I went through three years of the choice to be alone. I tell some people that and they’re like, 'No way! Three years??' And I talk to other people and they’re like, 'Yeah, I’ve been single for 16 years. Tell me about it.' Three years was a huge deal for me and it was excruciating at times. But there was—how am I ever going to hear the voice of God if I don’t know what it’s like to be alone? If I’m never alone with Him, I always have noise or something else filling it in. So that was a huge learning time for me. Then I built up enough in myself that I didn’t experience loneliness even though I was alone, and it actually became fitting to add someone to me. I became whole enough that I didn’t need a woman to fill a void."Read More
"Some of the best nights of my life are just sitting with wine or no wine or coffee or tea and just talking and learning from everyone’s experiences on the spectrum of humanity. There are so many variables that allow people to take these meandering paths that are so different that by the time you cross paths with them—even if they’re younger—they have, obviously, a mentality that’s going to be different because they didn’t lead an exact imprint of your life. And if you approach conversation, and you approach connecting with people as—instead of reacting to what feels different, really try to understand and learn, I think you can’t go wrong. That is part of what brings me a lot of joy in my life, is really trying to understand what makes us human in different ways, in different places.Read More
"I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately. Love for me, in terms of a romantic love, is two people coming from two different worlds and coming together and making a new world that is fit for the both of them. It usually comes with a struggle, but obviously, the romanticism and the beauty that comes from the struggle and from the infatuation you have with each other is this thing. It feels like if you were alone in this world the whole time, all of a sudden it’s like this energy has been with you the whole time, and it makes you feel like any moment that you felt alone, you weren’t, and now you know you have this thing.
I’ve been really struggling in writing about love and trying to figure out how to represent it. And I think that’s what it is. You see it in movies and books and everything, and you see two people coming together and they take a part of each other and start to adapt in their own lives until they’ve created a bubble that works for the two of them."Read More
Annie: "It’s funny because I’ve always viewed myself as a contemporary of women like that. I see myself as inspired by Lena Dunham, but I am just like her. We are colleagues. Which is not realistic because she has Emmy awards and lots of money and she can make anything she wants, but I still see her as my contemporary. I want to sit and discuss themes with her."
Betsy: "Our dogs go to the same doggie day care so I also feel like her contemporary."Read More
"There’s something that terrifies most partners about having a partner who they know if they left me, I’ll be totally fine, and perhaps if I left them, they would not be totally fine. That’s an imbalance of power. I also really expect a lot from people. I expect the best from myself, but I also expect the best from other people. Which is unfair because I shouldn’t really hold people to my own personal standards, but I really can’t. I’ve tried to work on it. I was single for four years and in that time I did a lot of work on myself, but that’s one thing I just can’t get past. If I can’t have someone who’s up to my standards then I could just hang out by myself. I don’t need money, I don’t need someone to constantly be with me, I can find sex when I need that, I don’t want to have kids. So I don't really need anything from anybody else. When I have a mate I just need them to pay attention to me. But that’s pretty much it. Pay attention and be thoughtful. You never have to buy anything for me. That’s never necessary."Read More
"I love the internet, I came up on the internet, I came up with internet video. Those are my people, that’s where I tried to make the most change initially. I love editing, I don’t like being on set, I don’t like leaving the house, so doing video mash-ups was really a way for me to use the language of pop culture to talk back to popular culture and make these critiques and little video montages. Remixing Sex and the City, remixing Mad Men. These are shows that I really loved and enjoyed, but I also wanted to be a fan and critic of it at the same time. Taking it apart, putting it back together was not only a great way for me to learn how to edit, but how to convey a critical perspective through video in a way, in a language that people already know and understand which is popular culture.Read More