Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Steal Away

In an homage to Jim Jarmusch I'm letting his words fill today's blog.  I'm also "stealing" a photo from Mona Kuhn, an artist whose work I've recently been devouring.  

"Nothing is original.  Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination.  Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows.  Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul.  If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.  Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent.  And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it.  In any case always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said;  “It’s not where you take things from- it’s where you take them to.”  -- Jim Jarmusch

Monday, June 28, 2010


I'm encountering one of those particular times when the landscape seems lusher, conversations are more evocative, and laughter is plentiful.  My future, albeit unknown, beams with possibility and excitement.  If I knew what created this perfect alchemy of joy I'd bottle it and move to Kauai.  Is it due to more hours of sunlight, Mars being in Virgo, or endless nights of peaceful slumber?  Perhaps my general well being can be attributed to my friendships with women.  During a recent lecture at Stanford, the head of psychiatry said that one of the best things a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was nurture her relationships with her girlfriends.  He went on to explain that  women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other deal with stress and difficult life experiences.  Physically this quality "girlfriend time" creates more serotonin -- the benefits equivalent to a sweaty hour at the gym.  This finding doesn't surprise me.  I've always had the ability to meet and befriend amazing women.  A gift I don't take lightly.  My oldest friend is more like a sister.  S and I still sob uncontrollably with laughter when we retell the tale of the day in first grade when I gave her a candy wax bottle during recess, the admonishing nun who made her spit it out and her ultimate confession naming me as the supplier of the contraband. S's nearly choking to death and my subsequent punishment bonded us for life.  Looking at last weeks calendar it's obvious why I feel so good.  I spent lots of quality time with many of the sensational women in my life.  I raise my glass to them for making my journey an exceptional one.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Several years ago when I was in a relationship with an alcoholic and desperate to understand the disease, I found myself in the self help section at my local book store.  Among my half dozen purchases was a poignant memoir written by Caroline Knapp called "Drinking: A Love Story".  Caroline's vivid stories imprinted my psyche as if I were a friend in her inner circle who witnessed her binges and rooted for her sobriety.  With each chapter, my compassion towards her grew, as did my gratitude for helping me find the courage to deal with my situation.   Last night as I was stumbling around online, I happened upon a random blurb referencing Caroline's most recent book, published posthumously.  Posthumously, that couldn't be right, but a google search proved the unfortunate information accurate.  Two months after being diagnosed with lung cancer, Carline died at the age of 42.  The kicker, her death occurred several years before I read her autobiography.  Is her story less hopeful given six years after getting sober she lost a quick battle to cancer?  Or is it more notable knowing she didn't put off living her best life one day longer?  Truthfully, I'm uncertain.  However, this information certainly underscores life's fragility and my desire to never look back with regret.  This picture was taken in Baja Sur, California.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


A few days have passed and I'm in need of a topic for my blog.  It's officially summer so naturally I have considered writing about the joys of the season.  I could focus on the ones of my youth marked by the Garden State's abundant supply of tomatoes and corn, and the endless, carefree days spent swimming and bike riding, culminating in a family vacation. Or perhaps there's something to explore about a life which resembles a blinding, albeit brief flame, a topic sparked by the recent documentary about John Lennon I caught on cable.  Or there is the merry birthday celebration I attended last night at a bar resembling a speakeasy with a secret closet entryway complete with clothes on prop hangers.   I'm not a bar person. I prefer gatherings in backyards or living rooms, but this intimate hideaway was perfect, and the live Cuban music rocked.  I already long to return.  Or perhaps I could write about the unknown waters I navigate as I dip my toe back into the job market.  My days are peppered with meals, meetings and conversations about the ever-changing television landscape, the opportunities that may exist and my ideal future gig.  As a result of this search, I could ruminate on how this summer is less carefree than the ones of my youth and illuminate the challenge of embracing the possibilities presented by summer and unemployment while looking two feet ahead and planning for the future.  All potential topics waiting to be explored.  This photo was taken in Baja Sur, Mexico.

Monday, June 21, 2010


We're not particularly close, my uncle and I, so I was surprised to hear his voice on the other end of the phone asking for help.  "I'm not solvent anymore, you know".  Yes, I was quite aware from conversations with my parents that the economic crisis decimated his portfolio.  After months of weighing his options, my uncle was reluctantly leaving his elegant 2000 square foot apartment with a breathtaking view of The Space Needle and Mt. Rainer for a 650 square foot box in a government subsidized, adult housing complex.  I spent two days helping him pack while he wandered around in a daze saying goodbye to possessions he spent a lifetime accumulating.  Dinnerware from China, a cherry sleigh bed from upstate New York, a tray from Turkey, a marble desk from Italy, a figurine from Japan.  As my ink-stained hands wrapped another heirloom in yesterday's New York Times he regaled me with how item was acquired.  I engaged as if hearing the tale for the first time. When my grandmother died 13 years ago my uncle was unconcerned with memories, and had a huge estate sale.  This resulted in some very unhappy family members.  I was curious why these treasures were being spared such a fate, especially when he could benefit from the extra cash.  During our two days together it was clear, my uncle was willing to downsize, but he wasn't willing to part with his things.  He needed to know his collection was intact, safe and still in the family.  Piling up the boxes and tagging the furniture that was going to LA, he turned to me and asked, "Can I come visit them?"  "Of course",  I replied.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Collage as Metaphor

One of my assignments for art class this week was to make a collage.  After tearing out a dozen pages from discarded magazines I found myself searching for a place to begin.  Should I start with a concept or a picture?  Starting with the former resulted in an endless search for the right image to complement the idea.  Sometimes I'd get frustrated and give up.  Other times I'd get distracted by a glossy landscape and go off on a new, seemingly inspired tangent.  Every once in a while I'd happen upon the perfect fit.  A picture that was too good to be true.  Luck?  Perseverance?  Perspective?  Not sure, and in truth it didn't matter.  In collage, as in life, synchronicity can happen.  Life and collage have something else in common -- patterns.  A repetitive quality existed among my tear sheets.  I noticed an assortment of women walking towards something,  an abundance of paths, streets and driveways, and a plethora of gardens in various stages of bloom.  My intrinsic filter helped me make my choices.  Perhaps this is the reason I like introducing my friends to each other.  They have similar, overlapping traits.  Thus, the odds are good they will get along and complement one another.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Self-Inflicted Portrait

When I joined the Flickr challenge to take my picture every day for a year, my goal was to  experiment with light, composition and setting.  I didn't anticipate how much the subject matter would make me cringe.  It's one thing to age.  It's another to examine it daily through a high end lens, which trust me, is a much harsher prism than a mirror.  As one thing often leads to another, I have found myself Googling various noninvasive facial treatments and becoming an expert on lasers, peels, injectables.  I live in LA where these therapies are readily available, and lovingly embraced, but are they for me?  I've always wanted to age gracefully.  I admire silver haired women whose faces glow with wisdom and laugh lines, yet I've been dyeing my roots for several years now.  Does that make me a hypocrite, or just someone who feels too young to go gray?  For now, I'm getting more and more comfortable with my image and don't plan on undergoing any radical treatments.  I'm also becoming a big fan of the slightly, out-of-focus self portrait.  This picture was taken in my mirror while holding a wreath of white Christmas lights.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Slow Love

I celebrated my first few months of unemployment by packing my suitcase and traveling.  I took a road trip across the Southwest soaking in hot springs and looking at art, explored the wats of Thailand and learned how to make tom yum gai, celebrated friends getting married in Mexico,  visited relatives in New York, and saw a half dozen films at Sundance.  I was like an uncaged animal wanting to mark as many territories as possible.  And then something happened.  I longed to be home.  Spring in Southern California is miraculous.  I wanted to hike under snow capped mountains in fields of wildflowers.  I wanted to fall asleep to the scent of night blooming jasmine and awake to the smell of orange blossoms.  I wondered if I was crazy.  I was free to go anywhere, everywhere, and I wanted to be home.  In Dominique Browning's new memoir, SLOW LOVE, she perfectly describes what I was experiencing.  "Slow love is the most sustaining sort of love I have ever known -- a love that comes from an unhurried and focused attention to the simplest of things, available to all us, at any time, should we choose to engage.  Perhaps even more importantly, slow love comes out of the quiet hours, out of learning from the silence that is always there when we want it.  Slow love is about knowing what you got before it's gone."  For this new love, I'm grateful.  This picture was taken during a hike in Palm Springs.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Looking for the Artist in Me

The aspect of my job I loved the most was accessing the right side of my brain.  Hearing pitches, breaking stories,  and developing concepts for potential television series satiated my creative mind.  In hindsight it is not surprising that several months into my sabbatical I was hankering for a way to flex this muscle.  The purchase of my Canon Rebel resulted soon after.  Whenever I met with a writer about an idea I would assess what it is he/she wanted to say.  What was their point of view and what made it unique from the writer who just left my office or the one waiting in the lobby.  I'm now asking  myself these same questions.  Surprisingly, I am going further and further outside of my comfort zone to find the answer.  In fact, I just enrolled in an online art class.   I'm now the proud owner of a sketch pad, oil paints, pastels and brushes.  Pictionary intimidates me, so this class is like leaping from a high dive into frigid water.  The first assignment was doodling.  I couldn't help thinking how much easier the exercise would be if I was sitting in a conference room, bored, making etchings in the margins of my notepad.  The picture was taken on Abbot Kinney in Venice.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Weekend.  Weekday.  Midday.  Mid-morning.  It no longer matters.  If you live in LA and you are driving you are most likely encountering traffic.  There used to be short cuts and strategic routes to minimize getting from point A to point B, but not any more.  The traffic impacts everything -- dating, job hunting, socializing.  It has even replaced the weather as my favorite topic of inconsequential conversation.  I find myself calculating the amount of time I'll be in the car and weighing it against the value of an upcoming  experience.  Is it worth having dinner with a friend cross town if it will cost 90 minutes in the car?  Is the fantastic job opportunity even a possibility if  I will need to be driving two hours a day?   The traffic prism through which I evaluate my life in LA is like a widget on my desktop, and it's getting harder to harder to ignore.  The picture was taken at a red light on Venice Boulevard.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Destination Hollywood

Eighteen years ago I left my apartment, job and friends in New York City and moved to Los Angeles.  I wondered if I would last a year in this new, bright city.  I needed to find employment, a bed and a car.  I told myself to give it a year, and if need be Manhattan would respond like a forgiving jilted lover and have me back.  But I never returned.  Within months I was working at a studio, making friends, and furnishing my new apartment.  Although I can account for every minute and hour of my life in LA I'm still shocked that the time adds up to eighteen years.   Sometimes I feel the walls of time closing in on me.  I want to push them open as if they are elevator doors shutting before I've had time to step over the threshold.  Ironically, the pace at which my life is passing is making me slow down.  Perhaps it's just a result of the traffic, but I find myself doing less in the city and being home more.  In fact, today was the perfect anniversary of my arrival.  After an early morning spin, I went to the farmers market, made a big pot of squash, corn and swiss chard soup, read, shot photographs, and took a heavenly nap.  Happy Anniversary Los Angeles.  The picture was taken from a park in the Hollywood Hills.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hitting The Wall

In the past few years I've made two significant changes.  I broke an engagement because in my heart I knew he wasn't the right guy.  And I left my dream job because it didn't come close to fulfilling the potential it initially promised.  After the break up, I was much more interested in regaining my solitude than finding someone new to date.  I left my job with no immediate intention of finding another one because I longed for the freedom to sleep in, be outdoors, travel and stay up late.  In both situations, I wanted to clear the decks and open myself up to all that was possible.  As a result, I've had some amazing adventures, but in truth the decks are still clear.  I'm still looking for true love and the job that will give me satisfaction and balance.   The  hardest thing is for me to believe that these experiences are still ahead of me when in fact I feel like I've run into a brick wall.  The picture was taken downtown from an office window.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Great Escape

I've surrendered to being sick.  Another day of canceled plans. Another day of not leaving the house.  Another day of toast, saltines, oatmeal and water.  I awoke early and without getting out of bed picked up the book on my nightstand.  I  escaped into the pages of the novel as if I was swimming in a warm, gentle ocean.  I was transported, energized, and enveloped by the vivid storytelling.   Given my sabbatical-status, I've been surprised I haven't been reading more.  I've always been passionate about nonfiction and lament when I don't have the time to dedicate to novels.  Yet the last couple of months I've struggled to find books that hold my interest.  I started several books I didn't finished and finished several books out of obligation.  Although I hope I'm able to get out of bed tomorrow, I look forward to cracking the spine of a new book and getting lost all over again.  The picture was taken in my TV room.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Warning Signs

There were warning signs this weekend in Vegas I was coming down with some kind of bug or flu, but I ignored them.  I credited my nausea to the heat, possible dehydration, late night eating, even the smokey casinos.  Anything but the possibility that I was actually sick.  Being ill seemed illogical since I'm well rested, eating well, exercising and happy.   Yet the physical symptoms were loud and clear.  While couch bound these past 48 hours I can't help but question how many other signs cross my path that I am unable to see.  The picture was taken during a walk in the Hollywood Hills.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Shift in Perspective

My weekend jaunt to Sin City proved to be an unexpected barometer of the transformation I'm experiencing.  I used to like Vegas -- the lure of the blackjack tables, the parade of people dressed in unexpected, and often inappropriate attire, the high end restaurants, the over the top decor, the luxurious spas, but something has changed.  That something is me.  I seek quieter escapes these days, simpler interior design, easier access to nature, fewer distractions.  And yet, I was able to find beauty in the details -- the reflection in a mirrored elevator bank, the glow of a crystal chandelier, the textured wallpaper.  Changing my perspective allowed me to connect to my surroundings in a surprising way.  I was able to find joy.  Leaving the casino with $175 didn't hurt either.  The picture was taken at the Encore Casino in Las Vegas.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Art of Blooming

Last night I sat in the stands at The Hollywood Bowl and watched 126 luminous young women graduate from high school.   Without notes or a prompter a fair-haired graduate stood before the audience and eloquently spoke about the journey she and her classmates were embarking on.  A quote from Anais Nin described their moment perfectly.  "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."  And the day came that was assigned to them.  June 2, 2010 had most likely been circled on their calendars for months.  These girls had the choice to fulfill their course requirements, to move forward with their classmates, or remain behind.   To stay in the bud or blossom.  But what happens in life when these rights of passage are not mapped out for us?   How do we know when to move on and graduate?  The pain Nin referenced is the true indicator.  Life is about honing one singular skill -- trusting your intuition.  Twenty eight years after receiving my high school diploma I'm getting clearer as to when it's time to bloom. The picture was taken at The Huntington Gardens in San Marino.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Solitary Freedom

Not very long ago my days were filled with endless meetings, scripts to read, cuts to watch and errands that barely got run.  While I sat in nondescript conference rooms breathing recycled air, I would fantasize about being home with nothing to do but watch the sun move from room to room.  And here I sit,  wish granted . . . which isn't always as easy as it appeared from the other side of the fence.  Some days it's scary to wake up with nothing that has to be accomplished.  What do I want to do with my morning?  What do I want to do with my life?  There's no over scheduled work life to blame for discontentment or unseen museum exhibits or places unvisited.  Yet, I find myself wanting to be, rather than doing which results in a lot of time spent alone.   This morning I went into my bin of Burning Man clothes and scooped out my favorite petticoat circa 1930s purchased several years ago from a sale at the Paramount wardrobe department.  As I fastened the layers of tulle around my waist I wondered about its life prior to ending up in my bin.  Did a saloon girl in a John Ford western wear it while serving whiskey to a cowboy ?  Or did it grace the bodice of a circus extra, dancing under a big top?  This morning I wore it to motivate me to grab my camera and shoot my daily Flickr self-portrait.   I'm reminded of the hours I spent as a child in my mother's closet draping myself in silk, organza and lace.  The clothes transported me to a romantic metropolis -- a fancy dinner, a late night dance, a stolen kiss.  Solitary hours filled with dreaming and joy.  Then, just like now.  The picture was taken on my deck.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


It's barely 6:30am when the morning stillness is broken by newscopters hovering over the freeway.  I'm awake.  I'm usually awake at this hour if only to watch the ambient light bounce off the hills.  Radiant, golden-amber light.  Always worth waking to see the day break over the hills.  I've always loved the morning, but I love it more now.   I embrace and savor every glorious moment, every bird chirp, every leaf-blower.  I have nowhere else to be, nothing else to do .  The joys of not working are many, but none are as blissful as a morning that unfolds as naturally as the light across the hills.  The picture was taken in my garden.