12/31/08

London Day 3...



London Day 3

It's rainy when we wake up which of course is no surprise. Like all places where it rains a lot (Vancouver) everyone insists that it doesn't rain all the time. I take it that one's definition all the time changes when the rain is near constant. All the time to me means everyday. All the time to those in England means all day long! We take the bus with our Oyster Cards (passes, we pay every time now) and head out to my cousin Anya's work place. It is the amazing building in the photo above made using innovative environmentally friendly and ecologically sound principles. There are tree trunks that are used as pillars, branches woven together to make a fence, a rain barrel, solar heating and recycled floors. The walls of the building are my favorite, a series of concrete bags stacked together unopened, that over time with the moisture have hardened and cracked their wrapping to become large exposed hardened bricks. Anya is an architect and she works for Sarah Wiggelsworth who is known for just this kind of progressive design and planning. She also works in the cold, as the boiler has broken in the building and her boss who is away won't be around to fix it for a week. But not to worry, as it's not really cold everyone assures her, just as it's not really raining all the time, and that racking cough that everyone has is not really tuberculosis, just a "lurgy" cough.

We leave Anya with sweaters and head for more museums. We see the National museum and bask in the glory of the impressionists and after fortifying with tea and cake head next door to the Portrait gallery and take in a beautiful exhibit of Annie Liebowitz's photographs. There are the usual portraits of famous people, but there are also lovely shots of family both on the way into this world and more hauntingly on the way out. The pictures are honest and revealing, the subjects and the artist herself brave in the way that they have allowed themselves to be exposed. It is a day full of art and I am looking forward to sharing it over a pint with my sister's in laws at pub outside London. On our way to meet Anya and Eric we learn that the boiler in their apartment has broken and that Eric has been waiting all day for it to be fixed. This explains the icy rooms and the lack of hot water and we look into staying at a hotel, but Eric is confident that if he just keeps harassing the landlord every 30 minutes they will eventually show up. Otherwise it's a weekend with no heat. I shudder to think.

We take the train to Broxborn my brother in law Stuarts family meets us and whisks us away to beautiful pub in the next town. Now I have to say that the "pubs" that I have been going to are not like the kinds you see on TV with old bars and dingy lighting and sad characters drowning their sorrows. No, these pubs which are everywhere, are beautiful stone manors with roaring fireplaces fine linens and exquisite food. It is great to see everyone, and although it has been a long time, the conversations are easy and the laughs even easier.

One of the biggest laughs of the evening came when I ordered my first drink, a pint of cider. In England, a half pint is what a proper lady orders, and I pass my host hers. As the guys all take their full pints of beer, and slowly hand me mine they smile devilishly and I can see what they are thinking..."What can I say fella's? I guess I'm just a loose woman!" Or a girl who just really likes her cider.

New Years Eve...

My New Years resolutions are...oh there are always so many and they are always the same...how do I list them?! Well, let's just say that like every year, I resolve to be better in all areas of my life. Not that I have been bad, just that I want to keep growing and keep moving forward and working hard to make all my dreams a reality and to keep learning and loving with all my heart and to find a way to make all of it a little bit easier and gentler, would be good too.

My New Years wishes for all of us are...health, happiness, love, laughter, peace, prosperity ...and for me personally, the third p...publishing. Yes, I would love to be published, and I would love to find a great agent for my book and a still in business publisher who wants to publish it! It is time to turn those great responses to my book, into great offers! And to keep writing, writing, writing. Oh and I'll take a recurring on a series too, while we are at it, or a giant commercial campaign, so that I can stay at home and write without worry.

12/30/08

Big City Dreaming...


A couple of people wrote me about my post yesterday, sharing that they too could not handle too much "relaxing", and shared their love of big cities. Maybe there is a correlation to being restless and being an urbanite. Or maybe the restlessness happens when the urban dweller has been removed from it's natural habitat...the concrete jungle...sigh.

I live in L.A. but I don't think of it as a big city, at least not one that works like a city. True, L.A. has it's pockets of goodness, but it is much more of an urban sprawl and every East Coast transplant tells me that once you give over to the lifestyle and embrace the pace, you will learn to love it. Well it's been 3 years, and there is a lot I love about L.A. but the pace is not one of them. For me in a order for a city to work there needs to be people wandering the streets, which means there needs to be a center, and sidewalks, where people walk, and bump into each other and duck into any number of fabulous coffee shops, restaurants, book stores, and galleries that are part of the urban landscape. L.A. to me is highways and cars and comfortable homes, which is why I am realizing that my apartment which I adore, my NYC style hardwood floor, big french windows, multi purpose one room to do everything apartment just might not cut it if I have to stay here much longer...which I do. In NYC this apartment would be the kind that I would never give up, and when I got squirrely I would just walk outside and be surrounded by the amazing energy that is that city. But it would also cost $650,000.00 or rent for $3500.00 and well that will just have to wait. There is still more to be done here and if I myself am to get anything done I think I will need more than just these walls to make it happen.

This is a hard admission for me, as I pride myself on living in teeny tiny spaces quite happily, but it just starting to dawn on me that maybe it isn't so crazy to want an actual office. Maybe it isn't crazy for my husband to not want to have to endure my business calls while being 3 feet away on the couch, or to want to have a room to have our many guests stay in. It has dawned on me that I am actually not in my early 20's anymore and or my early 30's for that matter and that it isn't so greedy of me to want a space that works for me and not one that I have to make work. I am starting to realize that L.A. is hard enough work as it is, and spending all my energy making 600 square feet above a neighbor who is dj'ing in his living room all day isn't the best use of it. It's hard to move forward if you have to move something out of the way first.

And of course I miss cities...real cities...big cities...that remind me that life is bigger than all of this and that there is a whole world out there.

12/29/08

Enough relaxing and London Day 2...















I have been sick and I have been "relaxing". Although now I am sick of relaxing and can not wait for the New Year to start so that I can get busy again!!

I am a bad relaxer. People tell me to "try and relax" and they genuinely mean it, because they know that I will have to try, it will take effort and in the end, I will be so exhausted and at my wits end from trying that the only cure will be to tackle some monumental project! My idea of real relaxing is doing something that I love and then basking in the exhaustion of my efforts. My idea of relaxing is going to a new city walking for 5 hours and seeing 3 different monuments and museums, and then relaxing with a glass of wine and a late meal and crawling into bed with aching feet and a big smile on my face.

Day Two London...

Jeff and I brave the bus and the scowling faces of our fellow passengers and head to Leister Square to buy tickets to a Pinter play starring the terrific Michael Gambon. We wander over to Covent Garden, roam the streets, and grab a bite to eat at a "Pret a Manger," a salad and sandwich shop that has taken over London. They are like Starbucks...everywhere, and a lot of the locals miss the tiny sandwich shops, which they have replaced. I however LOVE the "Pret a Manger", as they are clean, delicious and I get a rocket (arugula) and crawfish sandwich with avocado and a mushroom risotto for under 10 pounds. They also make salads...which is nothing to be overlooked as a green salad was hard to find in London, and when I did find one, it was the price of 2 pints of beer. Salad...beer...not an easy choice.

After we fuel up we head to The Tate Modern, which is fantastic. They have this great exhibition of famous sculptures from all over the world that have been congregated into one place, with the soundtrack of rain behind it and a creepy premise that is written at the beginning that explains that all the rain in England has made the outdoor sculptures grow and now they must be housed inside, lest they take over.

There is a lot of great modern art here, and we drag our jet lagged selves from one painting to the next and eventually stop and snooze in front of a film documenting the aforementioned exhibit. The second picture is of a little girl who sat down next to Jeff and waited for him to wake up. He was her exhibit, and people were taking pictures of the two of them while he napped!

After tea and cookies overlooking the Thames from the top floor of the gallery we made our way over the the theatre district. We hit a packed pub and have a pint and some crisps...it was an hour and a half walk after all...and after all the rain and the damp, I can see why the pub with it's reasonable prices, and warm fireplaces and cheerful faces is an English tradition. If I lived in London, it might very well be in a pub.

Dinner at Masala Zone...outstanding Indian food, and a dessert called a fool. I got the Mango fool. Fool is like a pudding, and hours later, I would feel like a fool for eating one, as it did somersaults in my stomach!

At last in the theatre...Harold Pinters "No Man's Land." For the first time, I am in a building that is warm. Too warm. I watch the play and start to feel my head nod. Oh no, I have spent 25 pounds on these tickets and that is Michael Gambon on stage! Michael Gambon talking...slowly...in a low voice...on a dimly lit stage....zzzzz.

At the end of the play, which was beautifully executed, if not thrilling, we cabbed home. No more rainy bus, no more smell of pee, no more aching feet which felt like slabs of meat...just an easy going cab with televisions in the back.

Back at the flat we collapse...again...and I dream about sleeping, while sleeping...must have been the Pinter play.

12/27/08

Travel Diaries from Over Seas...First there was London...


Jeff and I arrived in London after almost 15 hours of travel. Well longer if you include the wait time at the airport. We had to fly to Paris first and then to London and then took the "tube" into East London where my cousin Anya's husband Eric met us. Anya and Eric are our first stop on our trip. They are a fabulous couple, smart, beautiful, talented...an architect and a writer and we adore them. By the time we saw Eric, we had been up for over a day but with the time difference it was now night and we were delirious.

First off, I can not believe how crowded London is. It had been about 20 years since my last visit and somehow it is even more congested, expensive and dirtier than I remembered. I love London, but once upon a time I considered it on my list of cities I could live in and now, only if I was really rich. I would need to be really rich to live a comfortable, modest life in the heart of the city, or else like a lot of people I would have to move to the countryside, which is gorgeous, but, I am a city girl.

Back to London... We hop a bus without fare! And hope that no one will notice. We don't have the correct change and it is rush hour, and we cram in so tight that I can smell what everyone has eaten all day. Odors cling to clothes in the damp and for some reason the bus smells like urine. I will soon realize that the bus always smells like urine, probably because a few people on it fail to realize that it is actually a bus, and not a latrine. There is a very large, very young girl who keeps staring at me and my suitcase and being the friendly that I am, I smile at her and genuinely expect a smile back. However all I hear are mutterings of how "that woman won't stop staring at me," and I quickly focus on one of the many unfriendly faces that are still on the bus and staring at my suitcase. Later I will learn that it is in part due to the neighborhood that I am in. It's a little bit rough around the edges in the way that any big city can be, changing from block to block. Thankfully we hop off and make our way to meet Anya at a lovely coffee shop where we have a brief catch up and head back to her flat to meet up with her later for a dinner that Eric is cooking.

Their flat is great. Small, neat, new and well..cold. But this is the way it was everywhere we went in England. Even with the heat on full Eric warns me, one is always cold. It's the damp, and the fact that the houses weren't really built for central heat or properly insulated. Everyone walks around with a "lurgy" cough and is freezing but doesn't expect to be anything else during the winter. This kind of denial of one's actual climate has always made me crazy. It's like living through summer in L.A. without air conditioning, because no one is willing to admit that it gets unbearably hot and that summer lasts not for two but five months of the year!

Back at the flat we collapse into small heaps while Eric uncorks several bottles of wine for us and cooks us a feast. We eat smoked fish, broccoli with chili's, salad with pomegranate, and cheese and bread and chocolate! We stay up talking for hours and it is great to hear similar tales of adjusting to life in a new city, in a new country, and in a new culture. They have been in London as long as we have been in L.A. and the mutual trials and tribulations are comforting. It is wonderful to see them. We have missed them. And that night we fall asleep tipsy and full and huddled under every blanket they have, with the heat turned on high and the sounds of cars splashing in rain outside the window.

12/24/08

Back in the U.S.A...Christmas Eve...



We are back from two weeks in Europe and there is so much that I want to write about! We were in London, Oxford, South Moor, and Paris...oh Paris!!! I kept a little notepad of all that we saw and did and my brain, when it was finally over its jet lag, started to have all these great ideas for new writing/filming projects. How could it not? I was surrounded by such history and beauty and culture, starting every morning talking about writing with my cousin and ending every evening with a show, or a symphony or a great night out at a pub. And that was just England. In Paris we stayed in the Latin Quarter across the street from where Hemingway lived and wrote, along with James Joyce and Orson Wells and a host of other wonderful literary heroes.

But now I am back and after being up for twenty five hours straight yesterday...I am tired once more. Go figure. So let me just post a few pics of Jeff and I on our first day on the bridge over the river Thames and soon, I will post great pics and great stories of our travels.

Happy Holidays!!

12/15/08

10 Days to Christmas...7 Days to Hannukah...

I am writing this from the countryside of England where I am visiting family. I had a lovely time in London with my cousins and am having a wonderful time in Oxford with in-laws and in a few days I will be in Paris!! Magnifique!!

I will not be blogging much, as there will be so many things to do and see and eat...and my laptop has decided to sleep a long sleep...but I wanted to check in and say hello and remind everyone that the holidays are just around the corner and I urge you to seriously consider making a donation to Playground, a film that exposes, and aims to end the child sex trade in North America.

My previous post has all the info...and it really is a great gift to give someone and remember no donation is too small.

Thanks to all my friends who have already donated and become fellow "film makers"!!

12/8/08

Playground...A great holiday gift!!!


This holiday give a child their childhood back.

Give a “filmmaker” credit to someone you love and help put an end to child sex trafficking in North America, a 3 billion dollar a year industry.

Your donation helps to complete the 5 year journey of the first ever feature length documentary about the child sex trade in North America. Telling stories of children from British Columbia all the way to Atlanta Georgia.

No child anywhere should be for sale.


PLAYGROUND
23 cities. 250 interviews. 300,000 children.

The goal: $350,000.00 to finish the film.


The deadline: January 1st.


The reward: Ending the child sex trade.


Each “filmmaker” will be credited on the website and donors are eligible to win a trip to the film premiere.

Click to go to Playground’s website, and see what Zoe Trodd of Harvard University calls “…the best film I’ve seen on the abuse and exploitation of children.”

12/6/08

Saturday Shout out for...Caroline Leavitt!!!


Today's shout out goes to the fabulously talented and unbelievably generous author Caroline Leavitt.

Full disclosure: This shout out is completely biased. I adore Caroline. She was my writing teacher at UCLA for a year and a half and I credit her with giving me the courage to call myself a writer and actually finish my debut novel. Caroline did the story edit for my novel "Navel Gazing" and gave me the confidence to approach agents, all of whom have had nothing but high praise for the skill and craftsmanship of my work, skill that I acquired thanks to Caroline's relentless insistence for excellence. She is what every writer hopes for but can not believe exists, an artist, who cares about new writers and the struggles they go through, and has the generosity of spirit to share, guide, and dialogue with writers about their writing and the writing process. And to top it all off she is immensely talented.

When I first read Caroline's essay "High Infedility" I was gobsmacked. Never had I read such powerful and economical prose that cut to the heart of the matter and rendered me speechless. It's no wonder that at the reading of this essay in NYC, producers clamored to her, begging for the rights to the screenplay which she is putting the finishing touches on. Reading Caroline's work for the first time was like one of those moments I have had as an actor when I discovered the work of some ridiculously talented, yet not as widely known artist, such as the Katherine Keeners, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Clive Owen, Mary Louise Parker's of the world, those unbelievably gifted folk who rock every production that they are in and leave you wondering...why haven't I heard of this person before? Why aren't they a household name yet?

Well, for actors they say that an overnight sensation takes 10 years...maybe for authors it's 10 books. I don't know, but Caroline's 9th book "Breathe" will be published by Algonquin press in the new year, and until then you can read her sensational hit "Girls in Trouble" about the emotional mine field that is open adoption. If you haven't already, discover her now, and then pretty soon, like those indie actors who finally get the mainstream recognition, mega publicity and movie deals, you can say..."Oh Caroline Leavitt, sure, I've loved her since..."

To learn more about this brilliant writer and her fabulous accomplishments check out her website at www.carolineleavitt.com or her amazing blog at, www.carolineleavittville.blogspot.com

Happy reading.

12/4/08

Just doing it...

I am terrible at the waiting game. I have said it before and I will say it again. Terrible. Last night as I was reviewing my lists, I was reminded that my manuscript was still being reviewed by an agent that I am really hoping will represent my debut novel. As if I could forget. Things move slow in the publishing world. It isn't like Hollywood, where I can audition, get called back the same day, get put on avail (hold) the next day and shoot, two days later. The turn around in publishing isn't measured in days. It's measured in weeks, as in, 6-8, 10- 12, 24 etc. Let's face it, when you get that many weeks together, why not just call it what it is...months.

Waiting can be crippling. I tend to wait to know about one thing before moving on to the next. But the reality is that a lot of time can pass this way, and it is best to just keep doing it. Keep writing, keep submitting, keep at it, whatever the "it" is that day, or week, or month. And so I stayed up late last night and today have been back at it.

I think the kicker was when I ran into a screenwriter on my walk this morning and I asked him how he got started...did he study one particular method? Did he love one particular teacher? Was there one particular book that he read?

His answers: He was a poli sci major, he never studied, he read every screenwriting book...but actually his best piece of advice? Just read screenplays...and then write one. Just write one. Don't wait. Just do it.

It struck a note with this worrier, planner, uber student...and I wish him all the luck for his big studio meeting next week!

12/2/08

CSI Miami...

Today, I was an actor...all day long. I got to film an episode of CSI Miami and everyone was great. Really and truly great. The series regulars were friendly and generous, the hair and make-up people were wonderful, the entire crew was jocular and welcoming, and it seemed everyone was happy to be there. And so was I. I didn't step out for lighting or rush back to my trailer between takes...I just wanted to stay on set, present for every moment and soak it up. It's a great epsiode,
full of suspense and it was written by a really nice woman about my age. And to top it all off the director of the episode, was also a director and exec producer of one of my all time favorite shows...The Wire. Let's just say it was pretty great to work on such a well oiled machine and I am so happy that I got the chance to do so.

12/1/08

Tick Tock...

Does anyone else feel the marching, no, the racing of time as we head towards the end of the year?

I can not believe that we are already in December, and as always I am thinking, no, wait, there is still so much to do before the year is out!!

The time frame for this years list of things to get done before the year is out is especially challenging because well...we are taking off in just 9 Days for Europe.

We are off to visit dear family and friends in England for 6 days, and then just the two of us will celebrate our 14th year anniversary...in Paris.

It has been forever since I was last in London, and I have never been to Paris!! Friends tell me that it will be especially beautiful now all lit up with twinkly lights for the holidays. One of my friends gave me a 9 page list of things to do, see, and eat!

I can not wait!! My computer keeps me telling me that my "start up disk is almost full," and that's kind of how my brain feels too. But in just 9 more days, I will unplug, unwind, and take in new sights and smells, tastes and tales and the wondrous experiences that await me in two magnificent cities.

Better get moving, time is a ticking!

11/29/08

Giving it up...and getting it back.

I am a planner and a worker and self motivating girl and I set goals for myself and like things to be defined and know where I am going...all this to say that clearly, I am a wee bit of a type A personality who likes to be in control of my life. So the fact that I am an artist who makes a career of acting and writing where so much is beyond my control is ironic to say the least. What I have been trying to learn is that all that I can do is my best. Sounds easy, hard to live by. Just doing my best and letting the rest be given to me, has been my mantra for a long time now, but of course like any sensible wisdom it sometimes leaves me, to make room for angsting, worrying and general scheming over how to control those things that I really can not. And then exhausted from a futile fight, my little mantra, reappears in my head and I take a deep breath, and think, right of course, all I can do is my best.

About a month ago a friend of mine gave me a really powerful bit of advice, she suggested that I take my heart out of acting and that I not turn my writing into a punishment.

I knew exactly what she meant. Not to love any of them any less, and not to work any less, but to stop letting either of these things break my heart and become poisons rather than passions. She was saying to keep it in perspective, let it breathe and not smother it, and she was right.

I have to just do what I do, the best I can and just give it up to fate, the universe, whatever ...and move on.

And I have been trying... and it has been working. Writing inspiration is returning and new ideas are brewing and on Tuesday I will be filming an episode of CSI Miami. The best part of course is that I am enjoying all of it...and my heart is still in tact.

11/27/08

Giving Thanks...


Well, today is Thanksgiving in America, and as I am living here, it means that I get to celebrate it all over again! Just last month I enjoyed a Canadian Thanksgiving feast, and today I am off to celebrate with friends whom I adore. One of them I met in Canada, and has been my friend for over twenty years, his wife has been my friend for sixteen years, since theater school in NYC, and we are being joined by another friend who is flying in to stay with us, whom I met in Los Angeles, but originally hails from and lives in Toronto. It's like all my favorite cities, are being represented by people I love from all different parts of my life, that have magically become one.

I am thankful for a lot of things. The love of friends and family top that list, followed by health, freedom, the ability to do what I love and get paid for it, the opportunity to keep pursuing my dreams, and the fact that I still feel like I am growing and learning along the way.

I am also really thankful that my husband, spent three and half hours last night rearranging our bedroom and hauling furniture to the garage in an effort to create a little extra space for a small desk, where I can go and work and close the door, when we have company or escape to it's air conditioned cool when the next wave of heat hits. Three and half hours. Now that is love.

Love also looks like these gorgeous flowers that were sent to us by my parents for the holiday!! And yes that small bundle is Mabel the love bug doing what she does best.

11/24/08

List making time...


Once upon a time I was a compulsive list maker. I made lists about the lists that I was going to make and then I would prioritize those items on the lists with another list, that ranked my "to- do's" in order of importance at which they got done. At times infuriating, like when I picked the wrong color sharpie in my color coded system that went along with the lists, it was also strangely calming. Making lists helped me keep order and focus in my self employed days that were early on in my career, a never ending day bleeding into night without a schedule, which actually makes me very anxious. And then one day I stopped. I was able to just keep lists in my brain and check things off as they got done. In fact I found not keeping a list allowed me to do more, as my lists had somehow become ways to stall and when I looked at those long columns of "things to do" on my notepad, I would become paralytic and hide them under my desk hoping that they would go away.

And now...they are back. But why are they back I began to wonder, and when did they resurface? Well, the lists came back when I moved to Los Angeles, but more significantly when I started writing on a more full time basis. When I no longer counted on auditions to mark my day by, but pages and outlines, first drafts and deadlines, and submission dates and packages to be sent...the list returned and became very important. It seems easy to spend days, weeks, months, hell even years on a writing project and not have any end goal in sight other than, please let this essay/novel/screenplay be done before it does me in!

Now I have my lists of "things to do today...and this week" and sometimes even by the end of the month, or by the end of the year. I am more flexible in my deadlines, having wisely learned that I am not a robot and that some things take more time to develop organically...like the three plus years I spent on my first novel. No longer are these little columns on varying notepads and notebooks, set as cruel reminders of all that I haven't accomplished, but all that I want to, can and eventually will accomplish.

And sometimes because it is important to step back and be grateful for the accomplishments that one has made already... I do an end of the year list, or inventory of what I have done in the last twelve months, and kindly pat myself on the back, and live in that moment for as long as I can...before I write the next list of things to accomplish in the upcoming year.

Thanks to all these beautiful notepads, list making just got a whole lot prettier.

11/21/08

Fridaaaaaaaaahy....

It is Friday...and I am thrilled. Now, I know I just had a great visit with my mama, and so it's not really like I need to take time off, on the contrary there is much to get done before the year is out. But...my friend Terry who is a wonderful writer and her husband Wally, who own the beautiful and delicious fancifull gift baskets are having a wine tasting at their shop on Melrose!!

Tonight we will be tasting Beaujolais Nouveau's and other gourmet treats that they stock and sell in beautiful baskets. There will be cheese, wine, chocolate and lots of friendly faces getting into the holiday spirit and trying these beautiful wines that are only released this time of year on the same day around the world and when they are done...they are done. I might just have to get a bottle...or two.

Check 'em out! www.fancifullgiftbaskets.com

11/20/08

Back at it!!!

Wow. What a great break!! I spent the last 4 days hanging with my momma, wandering the city all the way from downtown to Santa Monica, having long walks and great talks...and eating the most fabulous vegetarian food; Fatty's, Galanga, Real Food Daily...and plenty of cake...and now it is back to business!! Two deadlines await me.

Of course there was still work to do while she was here, auditions, callbacks, and freelance writing, but none of it was done in front of my laptop. Instead I kept a notepad in my purse and did all my calls while on the road...thanks to my crack berry!

My mom is absolutely one of my most favorite people in the whole world and everyone who meets her can see why!! Her visit was the perfect reward to a really hectic time, and the best break before the next whirlwind begins...which it will...in just 15 minutes.

Thanks mom for visiting us...it is always great to spend time with you and it makes L.A. so much nicer!!

11/15/08

Momma Time!

Yesterday I got to volunteer for John Truby at the Screenwriting Expo!! I got to go for free, sit in on Truby's seminar...and I got a credit note towards merchandise. Add to all this goodness, I met not one but two great Canadians and yes, we actually had less than six degrees of separation between us!! There was a lot of laughing involved and the day flew by.

But the capper to the day was that my Momma flew into L.A. for a visit!! So for the next four days there will be much mooching about, accompanied by great conversations, great food and great times. And yes there will be cupcakes.

11/13/08

The Great California Shake Out!!!

At 10:00 am today all across California, people were participating in an earthquake drill! Somehow I have become our properties "Quake Captain" and am fully expecting my crown and sash to arrive in the mail any day now! In all seriousness, my neighborhood association has assembled a checklist and has tried to organize all of us to be prepared for the inevitable. After all they say it's not if, but when, and so one has got to be organized. The Northridge Quake of '94 was a biggy and experts say to prepare for a 7.8 on the richter scale quake, next time around. I am in an old building which will suffer, but thankfully has only 8 units and 2 floors.

As Quake Captain I have begun assembling a kit; gallons of water in our garage, which even if it collapsed would be easy to navigate through, a crank operated radio, flashlight, Luna bars, baby wipes, poop bags...yup, I said poop bags, and not just for Mabel! We still need to get a change of warm clothes, a fleece blanket, dog food, and canned food. Next up is familiarizing ourselves with how to turn off the water and gas, in case the person assigned to this is unable to.

People say to prepare for 3 days of no services, no running water, and no power. Experts say to prepare for 3 weeks!! I say go to www.shakeout.org to educate yourself on the best plan of action.

I must admit that yelling "Quake, Quake" and running with Jeff and Mabel to
DROP, COVER & HOLD ON...under the dining room table and talking through where everything is, did make me feel less anxious about it all. And now I know that we all fit under our beautiful pottery barn Ryland Dining Desk...I knew it was a good buy!

11/12/08

Late to bed...early to rise...


I am on full speed ahead these days, packing in big days, followed by long nights at the computer. It's what I call the end of the year crush. It's the time when advertisers want to spend what's left in their budgets, which means more commercial auditions and thankfully more freelance copy writing, and then there's jewelry to make for everyone who has started their holiday shopping early. But this year, I am moving even faster because I am planning on playing hooky for a few days starting right after my Holiday Trunk show on Saturday. Why? Because my mom is visiting! She arrives on Friday night, after my day of volunteering at the film expo in Los Angeles. (I get to go for free as a volunteer, and take classes and get credit towards merchandise...pretty sweet deal.) But it means that all my deadlines and there are six of them this week, need to be met by Friday morning, so that my mom and I can mooch about. Yikes. Good thing, I am more than halfway there. Just two more to days to go!

And hey no complaints...this is how it works, when you are self employed it's often all or nothing...and I'll take all, any day!! And I'll take it with another large coffee please...this one's almost done.

11/9/08

Monday's forecast...Shiny!!

Everyone needs a little sparkle for The Holidays!! For the past 5 years now I have been designing and making jewelry. I sell privately, have some incredibly lovely and loyal clients and am carried in two stores exclusively in Toronto and Los Angeles. I used to do 4 shows a year, but now I do only two, making a limited number of pieces of things that I love. I have made and sold hundreds and hundreds of pieces over the years and every holiday season I think, what else can I do? Will anyone even like these designs? And then I get in the zone and for a concentrated time, my world is all silver and gold and gemstones!!!

Designing and making jewelry uses a different part of the brain that I think is very good for a writer...the instant gratification part. Think it, make it, see it done. It is important when you are sitting at a desk all day trying to pull words out of the ether to be able to tangibly touch something that you have put your energies into.

Some people bake, some cook, some knit, I make shiny things.

Check 'em out at www.heyladydesigns.com

Sunday, ain't no day of rest!


Well, at least this Sunday wasn't a restful one. It has been busy around here lately, which is good as I have been a very moody lady.

I have been frustrated by new novel, which I haven't touched in two weeks due to issues I have with it, I have been trying to work on a new writing project; a collection of personal essay's about my hilarious family, I have been longing for NYC, and I have been angsting about my debut novel which is still being considered by a great agent...fingers and toes and eyes are crossed for that one!!!!! And I have been gratefully, so gratefully, busy with freelance work!!!

I have also been prepping for a jewelry show which I have at the end of the week, which has meant shopping, designing, photographing new pieces and building a new website!

And on top of it all...we have been fighting colds around here, and it just seems that my husband has lost.

Whenever I get sick, I cook. I make soups and stews and often keep myself busier than normal, as I have a strange reaction to getting sick which is to get upset at myself for allowing it to happen. It is a stupid and vicious cycle, as it is hard to get well, if you spending all your energy beating yourself up! Every one I know is sick right now, and we have traded back and forth our favorite cures; Oregano oil, Airborne, my own personal favorite...the Hot Toddy.

For those of you who do not know, a Hot Toddy, is hot orange juice and whisky..and it is delicious and you will sweat your cold out...and possibly even see your own future! Well, I guess that all depends on your whiskey to orange juice ratio.

But first the homemade vegetable soup I have shown here, then some more work, then an episode of True Blood and finally...a Hot Toddy before bed! Aaahhh Sunday.

11/7/08

Getting it wrong...

Ugh. I have offended a friend. The what and who, I will not go into, but rather it is the why that troubles me. Why I have offended this friend, is because I have wrongly assumed once again that everyone is like me! Doesn't everyone wear their hearts on their sleeves, say exactly what they are feeling, and exactly what they are thinking? Well the answer of course is no. And to assume so is just plain wrong. And why must everyone do as I do? Well for one thing there would be a lot more snack breaks and naps and cocktail hour would be called hours earlier and pets would accompany us everywhere...but of course I am kidding. I am keeping it light, which is something that a lot of people do, that my friend did, and somehow I missed it. Sigh.

This is one of those old things that comes back to haunt me...like a bad temper, or an old pattern of thinking, or an insecurity that you think you have dealt with, that returns to rear its ugly to head to haunt you. I have to ask myself why it has returned of course, this naive assumption that we all express ourselves in the same way, or more accurately, my way. And in doing so, I am reminded that it is not only unnecessary, but not what I want, so then why?

Ah the why. What is it that drives me to turn my thoughts and feelings inside out? Well I suppose that is for me and me alone, and that's the point really. Everyone has their own way, and before reacting, it is important to consider and respect the source. Otherwise you may end up hurting someones feelings like I have, and that is never the goal. And to that person, please know that I am sorry.

Sigh. Time to take it out on the page.

11/5/08

Exhausted, Elated, Inspired...


A sigh of relief. This photo is of Mabel basking in the glory of Obama and America's Victory last night. At her feet is her friend Margie, eating a celebratory swizzle chew stick, it seemed only fair as we were all celebrating with copious amounts of wine and cake!!

The night started early, earlier than planned. Dinner was scheduled for 6:30, but our door was open and the scent of curried split pea soup and Quinoa stew filled the complex. Our first friend arrived at 5:30 and kept me company with wine and chatter in the kitchen. We had CNN on in the background, but it was still too early to tell and the first reports coming in were of States that McCain would win. Then the rest of our friends started coming in, and it was clear that we were all nervous and excited, and eager to share what we hoped would be an historic night. We huddled around the living room, eating and drinking and sharing stories, stopping every now and then to turn up the volume and listen to the pundits as the polls came in. We were hopeful, but to be honest more than a few of us were reluctant to believe that it would actually happen.

We wanted to believe, but after the last 8 years we were more ready to be disappointed than encouraged. I for one couldn't celebrate until it was clear that there would be no way that McCain could catch up, that the gap was too big to contest, that there wasn't going to be any last minute trickery. And then it happened. McCain conceded and congratulated Obama. Obama took the stage. Obama gave his beautiful moving speech, and left the stage with Biden and their families, triumphant and safe. And I cried. Who would have thought, not that it wasn't possible, not that it wasn't right, but that it would be a reality. That States that were red would turn blue, that people would choose hope over fear, that America would regain it's status as a World leader, as a beacon of inspiration as a country where anything is possible.

We came to the United States, because of the many possibilities that America has to offer, and the last few years have been so disappointing and heartbreaking for this country...but last night, thanks to those who voted for change, my faith has been restored and with it not just the possibilities for greatness in this country, but the reality of greatness as well.

11/4/08

Vittles and Votes...

November 4th. Election Day. Breathe. Eat. Repeat.

I am so nervous for today's election. My mind is full of static and I have found it hard to concentrate on anything that requires too much of my attention. A friend of mine is so nervous she can not eat. When I get nervous, I turn into a human vacuum. Sigh.

There is not much I can do. I am not a citizen, but a resident and as such can not vote here in America. This year I couldn't even vote in Canada, which made me crazy. My absentee application required me to state when I planned on returning, but I do not know when that is. Furthermore, you needed to photocopy your passport, but passports were being renewed which means that they were mailed in and not in our possession. I was full of guilt and angst at my poor planning, and only mildly comforted that my local riding had a lock on my candidate and with or without me, that would not change, and thankfully it didn't. I take my right to vote so seriously, it was hard earned and hard won, and I remember this from my days performing as a very young girl in "Nellie McClung and the female suffragettes." It was a proud moment. But even I was foiled by bureaucracy this year. I can not even imagine how many people suffer the frustration of not being properly registered, or finding out that there is some technicality that prevents them from voting...like having to mail in your about to expire passport. Sigh.

As a Canadian living in the United States, I have contributed to the campaign of my choice, blogged about my concerns, participated in great political debates...okay, they were mainly one sided, this is Obama country after all. The only other thing I know to do, that makes me feel remotely useful, is to cook.

So tonight we are having our neighbors over for Vittles and Votes! We will all huddle together in front of the television and enjoy Quinoa vegetable stew, split pea soup, salad, bread, cheese, and wine. Yes there must be wine to either calm our nerves, drown our spirits or hopefully celebrate with.

Fingers crossed that the voting is fair and square, and that this time the votes actually get counted. And if you can vote. Please do it.

11/3/08

Friends and family, far away...

I have been having an on-line conversation with a friend of mine, whom I didn't get to see when I snuck into Toronto for Rosh Hashanna last month. I feel terrible about not seeing her. She is not making me feel terrible, but I feel terrible, none the less. I feel terrible about not seeing so many of my friends, but in a 3 day visit that involves a major holiday, my nieces birthday party, a dinner out with siblings and spouses and parents who work totally different schedules, I spend my time trying to fit into windows of time that they have to spend with me. It usually means that if anyone wants to see me, they need to stop by, but that means hanging out with my family too, because there isn't time for both, and with me home for just a few days, my family isn't going anywhere!

Having long distance relationships are hard...whether they be with a lover, a spouse, parents, siblings, or friends. There is a certain amount of missing that happens all the time, even when you are with the person. Inevitably the question, "When will I see you again?" comes up...and I always answer, "What about now, we are seeing each other now...can't we make the most of this?"
It's hard being the one that goes away, as the majority of the responsibility to maintain that relationship somehow falls on the person who left, and yet maintaing that relationship in a way that makes everyone feel satisfied is an impossible task. Impossible, expensive, and time consuming. The visits are never long enough and everyone feels shortchanged, the people you don't see, and even the people you do see lament that your visit isn't longer. I lament it too. But the truth is, I don't live in Toronto anymore, I live in L.A. and how many people actually get to take as much time off to visit as I do? If I had a real 9-5 job...I would only get two weeks a year! I try to talk regularly, e-mail, facebook, i-chat...I devote hours a day to staying in touch with friends and family afar, and still don't get around to everyone...and yet it is never enough and I know this. I know this. Nothing can take the place of just hanging in the same city as the ones you love. But I try, as do they. More and more now, we get visitors of friends and family making the trip to see us, staying in our little place and mucking in with our schedules as we try to wring out every little bit of time we have together.

And when they go, we always say..."When are you coming back?"

What about you, what do you do, to keep those long distance relationships happy and healthy?

11/1/08

Sleepy Dreamy Saturday...

This photo was taken a few years back by my dear friend Gail. Gail is a talented director, photographer, producer and all around fabulous person. Next to her is her equally fabulous daughter Katie. They are like family, and I adore them. This week Katie was visiting and snapping photos herself, adding talented photographer to her list of many talents. I love this picture, a snapshot of me caught day dreaming, although what I am dreaming about is hidden behind my sunglasses.

Today is one of those dreamy, gray days and my tired eyes and mind keep wandering away from the tasks at hand and into the future.

To be fair, it was a busy week and I got a lot accomplished. There was freelance, and research, and I started work on my Holiday jewelry line, and last night I trick or treated with my neighbors and their kids, while sipping the most amazing home made Margarita, (thanks Libby) ...hey it's candy for adults. And although I still have a list of things to do, my brain seems to only have space for the NY Times real estate section.

What is the matter with me? I can not stop studying listings. And yes, I mean studying. I am thorough with my searches for the perfect apartment that I am not actually going to buy, with money that I do not actually have. My future apartment must allow pets, be on the Upper West or Upper East Side, or in Gramercy Park...Mabel needs her outdoor space after all...I'd like one to two bedrooms, a sunny view, a short walk to the subway and easy access to Central Park and a Whole Foods or Trader Joes. I put in all my criteria in the listing forms of several real estate firms, Warburg, Ellisman, Bond...Craiglist, and my budget of 300,000 to 600,000 imaginary dollars and see what comes up. I only look at listings that have pictures. Of course this begs the question, if my money is imaginary, why am I budgeting? It seems that even when dreaming, I have a tendency to dream within reason. This can mean two things, one is that I don't dream big enough, the other is that I dream within the realm of possibility. I prefer to think that I do the latter, after all I like to dream and think positive and put my intentions out there as much as the next dreamer, but I think that I have always done so without the considerations of a possible windfall, lottery or unbelievably lucky break. Blame it on my immigrant work ethic, that dictates that hard work is the only way. And of course the harder I work the luckier I get.Time to get back to working then.

What about you, how do you dream...with or without limits?

10/30/08

It's raining...relief!!

It finally happened, a little scattering of rain that decorated the walkways in a random fashion unlike the sprinklers that go off every morning. It rained big beautiful drops for all of 10 minutes and I went outside to see, as Jeff's face burst into a huge smile, golf clubs slung over his shoulder. "I won't cook on the course again today!"

I ran upstairs, sat at my desk and stared at the gloomy skies, indulging in this brief display of a season other than hot and sunny. I used to do some of my best writing in gloomy weather and living in Canada there was a lot of it. It's no wonder to me that some of the best artists live in the worst climates; I am thinking of Winnipeg and Halifax with it's amazing musicians, then there is Montreal and Toronto and New Brunswick all full of terrific artists. There are many more I know, it's just that I have actually spent time in these places. The same is true of the U.S...although I only have New York as an example and what an example!! I am being one sided here I know, but it's the first day of rain I think since January, so indulge me. Was it Hockney who said that there was no great art in L.A. because the sun melted one's brain? Although the sun sure worked for him and his paintings, radiating heat and showcasing skin lounging by swimming pools. Maybe the key here is variety...and for 10 minutes today I had it!

Now the sun is trying to break through the clouds, but the trees are still swaying in the wind and there's talk of a downpour on Sunday... a downpour! Can you imagine? Oh I will have to stay up all night and write for that one.

10/28/08

I'm back!!

I can not believe that I've been away almost a week, but I have. San Francisco was amazing! It is such a beautiful city and wouldn't you know it, the weather was HOT all weekend. No cool fall air for me, it was tank top weather and I was melting. All those good sweaters, got to stay in the suitcase, and I trekked around in the city stunned that it was nearly as hot as L.A. On my day off on Friday, I saw a lot of the San Fran on foot, up and down hills for 5 hours. This to me is the best way to discover a new place, and as I love walking I was happy for the chance to be in a pedestrian friendly city. Friday night was a yummy dinner at a funky little Indian restaurant and Saturday was the O You! Oprah event, where Oprah's advisers gave seminars. There were 4 thousand women in attendance and 14 men, and I saw Art Smith (chef) Nate Berkus (designer) Stacy London (fashion) and Suze Orman (money). I now know how to make a tomato cheese pie, the best way to mix and match new and old furniture, where to get the right bra, and that the most important thing I could do in this economy is to pay off my debt, keep my Fico score up and unless I have 20% down and 8 months worth of payments in the bank...to hold off on buying property.

The big surprise of the event was Oprah herself, who flew in from Chicago just to give a closing speech. All I can say is it is true, like the women you see in the audience at her shows, she renders one speechless. She radiates such presence, power and control, and even after taping 4 shows that day, she was so centered and calm and in command. It was amazing. And we got free tote bags and journals, which everyone knows I adore...not that I need another bag, but still.

Saturday night Jeff flew in to meet me and we feasted on sushi at Sushi Groove while listening to a DJ and drank soju martini's before literally collapsing into bed. A final lovely farewell brunch with our San Fran friends and then we were off to Sonoma where we pulled off a surprise for our friends girlfriend, showing up at the same Inn as them, and taking the day to visit vineyards. Mmmmm...wine tastings. Dinner at the Girl and the Fig was delicious, wine by the fire with chocolate chip cookies was decadent and then finally bed. Yesterday we raced back to San Fran caught our flight and landed in L.A. in time for Jeff to make his audition!

And now we are back, and back at it! Research today, a conference call and deadlines. After a mini holiday, I say...bring it on!

10/21/08

Restless Feet...

Well, somehow I did it...checked everything off my errand list and met my deadline. Now it is time for my wand to wander a bit more, before I start on something new.

I have a few ways of unwinding my mind, reading blogs, reading cookbooks, drooling over restaurant reviews and as always scouring the apartment listings on New York Times and in the back of New York magazine. Anyone who knows me, knows that in my heart I would love to live in NYC again. It's just that it costs the earth and apparently there is more work here for the film and tv industry, I say apparently, because with the writers strike, the never ending SAG negotiations, the culture of celebrity casting, reality tv, and a giant dearth of roles for women over 30...I will have to assume it's true-ish, that LA is busier than NYC...for those who are busy, that is. I mean it's all relative.
But lately my wanderlust to live in an American city other than L.A. is palpable...pressing even, and I am trying to temper my desires with practicality. Although, anyone who chooses to, or wants to live in NYC, can't be all that practical...can they?

This Thursday my restless feet are taking me to San Francisco! It will be business and pleasure and adventure! I am so excited I can hardly sleep at night, and it has kept me very busy, planning for my trip. I have a new party outfit, some new sweaters and a big grown up black handbag...all of it gotten on the endless sales, thanks to the recession. I am ready for some exploring! Friends of mine think that I will love San Fran and want to move there, they call it the New York of the West Coast. Say it is so. It's only a six hour drive, or an hour away by plane...it has weather and hills
and city, and public transportation and great food...and as it is so much closer, I could visit it more often!! But I must not get ahead of myself. After all I have many more great cities to see...as in London and Paris this December, and they also have all those great urban city things I love....mmmmm.

Parlez-vous Francais?

10/20/08

I want to move...

My new writing schedule is being completely determined by my neighbors endless renovating of their house. I work weekends and late evenings, and whenever the noise dies down enough that I can hear myself think. I do conference calls with all the windows closed so that I don't sound like I am conducting business from a cardboard box on the side of the highway.

Today I have a deadline. A big one. And when I arrived home after the gardeners had left, I was greeted by the sound of jack hammering on concrete. It was so bad that a friend and neighbor said "Gina, what are you going to do? How are you going to work." She gets it, and in fact rented a studio downtown to paint and work in because she couldn't take it anymore. I need to do the same, but really don't want to pay rent in two places and the reason I got a home office, was so that I could work from home!!

The renovators came to the gate and apologized profusely, and explained that the jack hammering would go on for the next TWO days. In two days, my deadline will have come and gone, my patience has already left, and as for my sanity...forget about it.

10/16/08

Crackberry...


It finally happened. I got a BlackBerry. This is a serious step for me, after all I am the woman that Verizon wireless begged to trade in her old cell phone as the old technology was costing them more than my plan was worth!! I picked the blackberry over the oh-so-pretty-I-want-to-eat-it i-phone, because Verizon lets me keep this ancient calling plan that lets me talk to Canada on my cell phone without long distance fees and charges me only in minutes...too good to give up.

I just got my berry two days ago...Jeff went out and came back with it, suspecting correctly that if I ever actually made my way out of the apartment on a week full of deadlines that it would be for Pink Berry and not BlackBerry...what can I say I have a sweet tooth. Well, yesterday I had both.

Now all I have to do is really learn how to use it, which means more time reading the manual and less time reading Perez on my breaks. A girl has to make sacrifices, especially when this little shiny machine allows me to check my e-mails and be reachable all hours of the day, which believe it or not, will give me more freedom from the lap top, and who knows...maybe more time outside.

10/15/08

Is this some sort of joke?

I know, I know, I complain about the noise on my street...but after a year of listening to my neighbors renovate, I think anyone would agree that I am entitled to. Well today, I came home from a workout and discovered that our entire courtyard is full of chainsaws and leaf blowers as they are trimming all the trees in our courtyard!!! I can not believe it. It is like some sort of sick joke, and it seems that I am going to have to escape for a few hours, but it makes me crazy, as I am on deadline, and would really like to be able to work from my home office!!

When I used to wistfully talk about living in NYC, everyone I know would always say...but it's so noisy, and polluted and expensive!! Well, I got news for you, this is the noisiest year I have ever endured, the pollution is actually worse in L.A. than it is in NYC, and with the price of gas and no public transport...I think the prices compare.

But yes, L.A. has sunshine and great Mexican food, and apparently palm trees that require annual pruning at ear splitting decibels. Oh well, it looks like I might be taking Mabel and I to lunch at Larchmont!

At this rate, the only writing I will be getting done is more ranting, and well, I think we've all had enough of that!

Maybe this is why some writers write at dawn...before the city wakes up...or after the city has gone to sleep...hmmmm...might have to give it a try!

10/13/08

Monday...buzz...saw...chop!!

Well, even if I wanted to delay Mondays, I wouldn't be able to. Around here Monday is gardener day, and like a bad fungus, the renovation bug has spread and everyone is sawing and chopping. If nothing else, it removes any possibility of prolonging my weekend, although this weekend was a great one.

Saturday I cheered on and handed out trophies to 180 small swimmers. It was the annual Shin Swim School competition in Monterey Park, and Jeff and I went to help our friends with rallying and hoisting the little swimmers in and out of the pool. These kids are amazing, they are so focused and determined and yes, nervous as their parents videotaped them and cheered them on. And not to worry, there were 4 teaching assistants in the pool swimming with them and making sure everyone was okay.

My favorite little swimmer is the youngest at 3 years old. Last year I watched her jump in the pool, sink like a stone, come up for air and kick her little heart out for two pool lengths. She pretty much screamed the entire time...even when she got her trophy. But this year at the old age of 3, she was back, and even though she was again the only swimmer in her category, she got in that pool and raced as fast as she could, competing with the best competition she had, herself, reminding us all once again that it wasn't about beating someone, but about being the best that we can be. That is what really matters. That... and a shiny trophy.

And of course I ended my weekend last night, at the Canucks Giving Thanks dinner, outside under starry lanterns feasting on food and wine with friends. It was pretty magical...thanks indeed.

10/12/08

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!!!


These gorgeous flowers were sent to me by my parents for Canadian Thanksgiving. Technically it's tomorrow, but everyone I know will be celebrating it on a Sunday, over lunch or dinner...including us.

I have a lot to give thanks for; my health, my family and friends, my freedom; to think and say and practice what I love and believe, and the opportunity to follow my dreams. I have a beautiful home, wonderful neighbors and each year it feels a little more like I am part of a community.

We have been invited to a "Canucks Giving Thanks" dinner over at a friends place. There are a lot of Canadians living in Los Angeles, in fact it is often referred to as the third largest Canadian city. Tonight there will be almost forty of us spilling out into the backyard, eating sweet potatoes and stuffing, cranberry jelly, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, drinking wine and as I don't eat turkey...I am bringing a quinoa, squash, heirloom sweet pepper and heirloom tomato side dish. It promises to be a delicious dinner, shared with new friends, and friendlies, and I am sending out a long distance hug and kiss to family and dear friends back in Canada.

10/10/08

Delay the deadlines!!

It's Friday and it has been a busy week!! I have had three deadlines, met two and just got my third delayed...woohoo!! This means that I can work on my novel.

I try to balance freelance work, with my own work, making time for both everyday, but this week has been a super busy freelance one and I am so grateful to be busy that I have happily dedicated myself to my assignments!! Let's face it, things are crappy out there right now and as my Dad would say...Catch as Catch can!! The truly great thing about my schedule is that I can make it. If I have contract work it takes priority until it's done and when I am finished I can work on my own projects. Not having to go into an office allows me to work at a bunch of things at once in the comfort of my own home, on my own time. That means that quitting time may be 5:00pm, 6:00pm or 10:00pm. I work weekends, because I like to...and sometimes for no reason whatsoever I get up really early and spend a whole day playing hooky, going out for lunch and generally mooching about. These are the advantages of being self employed. As for the disadvantages, they are obvious...no regular paycheck and no idea when the next job will come.

Funnily enough I am someone who really likes a schedule, but writing has forced me to expand my definition of that and learn to be more flexible in my approach to the work. So, I try to write everyday and I try to achieve goals that I set up for myself, whether it be word counts or hours spent at the desk, but I allow myself to work with the demands of the rest of my life as well. This means that if I am auditioning until 2:00pm then my 3-4 hours of writing start after that, or if I am naming, then again my writing starts when the naming is done. Some days are all about naming, some days are all about writing, and other days I juggle both. I used to be so rigid, that if I couldn't write at the exact time that I had planned to...then I would wait to try again the next day. Well, I soon learned that this is ridiculous and now I write when I can as often as I can, for as long as I can.

And as for juggling and multi tasking between auditions, freelance and my own projects...I love it! No more "Jack of all trades, master of none" for me...now I am Jack of all trades, master of more than one!

10/9/08

It's time to give credit to Mabel...my ghost writer...



This is our sweet dog Mabel. Anyone who knows her, knows that I love her like a crazy person...I think that the seocnd photo proves both that this is true...and that Mabel is very patient with me.

I've said before how writing can be lonely or isolating, and how it takes so much discipline to not get up every five minutes to raid the fridge or rearrange furniture or lie on the couch in defeat. Thankfully Mabel and I have a system where she lies on my lap pretty much the entire time I am writing, preventing me from standing up, and if I do get up and get a snack she gets one too, which is a major time sink, as she is much fussier than I am! She also insists on snuggling and getting her belly scratched, and going for sunshine breaks and visiting the mailman when he comes, all of which make me leave my desk every once in a while for some fresh air and helps my legs from completely atrophying. In truth, I couldn't do this without Mabel, she is delicious and nutritious, feeding my heart and soul and putting a smile on face when I need it the most.

And as I am now trying to have more "fun" with the writing, her job as muse and furry taskmaster is even more important...I mean after all what could be more fun than hanging with a 14 pound bundle of love Bichon.

I better buy some more bullies before she asks for a raise!

10/8/08

Soaked, Seared and Scorched...


Yes, in fact, this is how I like my Ahi Tuna...but it is also how I feel right now. It is blazingly hot in L.A. today, AGAIN, we are talking 95 degrees. 95 degrees!!! Geez, it's October. Sigh. Right now the only sun I am happy to see is the kind in the picture, a vintage inspired mirror that hangs in our living room.

On a cooler note...last night we headed to hipster ville, aka Loz Feliz to check out the free wheeling free form storytelling of The Moth at groove central...Tangier. Not being cool, Jeff and I arrived really early and were the first ones into the back room venue, guaranteeing us the only unreserved high top table and an early order with the much overworked waitress. Minutes later, following our lead perhaps, the place was packed, tables were gone and it was get-in-line-time with the waitress.

The stories were great, the drinks strong and the fries crisp and salty! And from our high top table we had an unobstructed view and lots of room to relax. What do you know sometimes the early bird does get the worm and not being so cool, pays off after all.

10/7/08

All aboard the Fun Bus!

Lately people have been telling me to have more fun with my writing. Fun? Don't they know it is hard, soul searching, punishing work? Well apparently yes they do...but they also think it is supposed to be "fun." Sigh. Maybe they are onto something...these days I have been dreading getting auditions and grunting when my honey says he's off to the driving range so that I can have some quiet time alone to write. I mean aren't these things that I wanted? Well, yes they are, so why have I been feeling so miserable? Oh right, because lately I am the artist that fun left behind.

Well, all that is about to change...or at least...I am going to work towards changing that! I am going to start looking for and finding the fun. Fun! Yippeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
Okay, I'm not there yet, but tonight I will record the debate and go out to see some storytelling. I am headed to "The Moth", where people get up and tell stories centered around a theme, no notes in hand. They are allowed to have memorized their work, but they must still perform it so that it feels spontaneous and alive. I haven't gone to an event like this in years, and I haven't performed at one for even longer. Who knows, maybe I'll love it and want to get in on the action next month? Huh? Now, that might be fun.

10/6/08

It's in the stars...

"You can't be everywhere at once, covering all the bases and watching all potential problems. Saturn insists that you reduce your responsibilities."

This is my horoscope in today's Toronto Star. I used to check my horoscope religiously, then took a break and lately as I have been feeling a little out of sorts and bothered, I have taken to checking it again, possibly hoping for reassurance that I am not crazy, and that something out there confirms what I am feeling. What am I feeling? Scattered, irritated, frustrated and bothered with Los Angeles, the entertainment industry, pollution, noise, endless heat, Sarah Palin...should I go on? When don't I feel like this? When I am naming, which I absolutely adore, out walking or blogging, hanging with my honey and my dog, cooking, watching Prime Suspect, and occasionally when writing, although these days it's hard.

The thing is, I get like this. I'm not happy waiting around. I like to be busy...project busy, not distracted busy. It's why I was so happy when my last novel finally unlocked itself for me and I was able to spend a year and half just constantly writing, fully immersed in the world I created. I felt so alive, so full of purpose and focused and so proud of my accomplishments at the end of the day; pages and pages of writing.

In other words, I need to find a way into this new book, and something tells me that it will be a completely new way. I have some ideas and am going to play around with them until one clicks and when it does...I will be a lot easier to live with.

10/3/08

It's Friday...and there's no debating that...

I am putting this photo of these lovely flowers up as a simple remedy. Whenever you get angry over the ridiculousness that is Sarah Palin and your blood pressure starts to rise...look at the pretty picture and remember...it's Friday.


This is probably the only thing Sarah Palin and I can agree on...the days of the week. Not that I'd ever have to worry about debating with the governor from Alaska, (should I say Alaska one million times just to make you as crazy as she made me last night?)because, it seems that being the "Maverick" that she is...she just ignores the fact that it's a debate and says what she wants, or rather what she has practiced a thousand times, regardless of the question. Debate? Nah, that's for uppity Washington insiders, Palin prefers to just ramble on repeating coined catch phrases and mugging for the camera in that gosh darn it way of hers. Do I sound bitter? Well, I am. It's pretty upsetting to think that this woman was really the best choice for VP that the Republicans could make. And I don't think that I should be the only one offended, although I am an uppity Manhattanite living on the Liberal West Coast (code breaker: Jewish, Educated, Hollywood Heathen)...but I think that people from Main Street, should be offended that she claims to represent them as well. I mean really, she's giving them a bad name!

It makes me crazy when they show the audience response and someone says that they like a candidate because they are an average ordinary Joe, just like them, and that's what would make them a good president or VP. Oh My Gosh darn goodness!! Honestly, the idea of having someone run the country who is only as smart as I am, is a nightmare!! The person running the country needs to be way smarter, way more educated and yes, must use bigger words than I do! There is a reason I am not in public office making laws and policies, and determining the way millions of people will live their lives...I am not smart enough. But at least, I AM smart enough to know that.

10/2/08

Thursday already?

I have woken from a sludge filled sleep, am fueling myself with coffee and am trying to wonder why on earth I dreamt of a mad genius who helped actors and artists with all sorts of ailments, had a cult like following and kept a woman reporter prisoner in his basement, for fear that she would leak his secrets and expose his plans to turn the world into a bio-diesel spinning globe. Oh my. Was it something I ate? Something I watched on the plane? Nope. If that were the case, after seeing P.S. I love you, and Maid of Honor in one flight, I should of dreamt of a world filled with lovable white guys and really skinny women with horsey smiles. I am just saying.

Toronto was terrific. Too short, but a good shot of family and weather and friendship to my heart. I would have loved more time to visit with all my friends but a couple of days is not enough and already I am wondering when I can see everyone next.

I have come back to the heat and the sun and am going to get out there and go for a seriously long walk and enjoy the palm trees. The only cold I am getting, will be the one that I have brought back with me from seeing sniffly little munchkins. And speaking of munchkins, I am picking my little furbaby up in few hours and can not wait!

9/29/08

Barbie...a simple gal...and good enough to eat...literally




Barbie a simpler girl for a simpler time and one of the tastiest b-day cakes ever! My niece got it for her birthday this weekend and my nephew ordered it for Rosh Hashanah last year. In our multi- faith family, Barbie is fluid and adaptable, a beautiful blank canvas that we dress up in icing and project our holidays on. The youngsters love Barbie's beauty, and I think us older kids just love to see that skinny blond covered in buttercream icing.

I have snuck off to Toronto for a family visit and we are all talking politics, wall street, bail outs and elections! It is a fascinating and precarious time and it has captured us all. It is so interesting being back in Canada and I just love Toronto and all it has to offer, and really Canada is such a remarkable place. My friends and family have terrific health care, see top specialists for health problems, attend great public schools, and take public transportation. Now it's not a Utopia, it isn't free,it costs 25-44 percent in taxes depending on your income...that's a lot of tax to pay. But when you look at all you get, isn't it worth it?

So why am I here in the United States? Because it has so many wonderful opportunities to offer entrepreneurs and artists. In America you not only get to dream big, but it is possible to make those big dreams a reality. Canada is a much smaller country, we don't have the same markets to appeal to or take advantage of. A lot of our arts are subsidized by the government and this creates a strange relationship where in order to receive funding the project must meet certain government requirements and surely that can compromise artistic vision. As an artist there are so many great opportunities here in the U.S. and the market and audience are huge in comparison.

Now only if these two worlds could merge...wonderful capitalist opportunities and a greater social responsibility...now that really would be a Utopia.

9/26/08

Friday night debate...bring it!

Yay! The debate is on! I am very excited...I am going to sit and watch with a glass of wine as Obama and McCain, battle it out! Now this is reality television. I can not yet vote, but that doesn't mean that I am not interested or affected or sitting by idly watching as the circus that is the elections plays on! I can still vote in Canada and I am planning to give a big vote against Stephen-I-hate-the-arts-Harper. This is a man who believes that the ordinary Canadian doesn't care for or support the arts.He is also the leader of the Conservative Party, and the prime minister, and a testament that not only the United States has yahoo's in power.

After all this real politicking...I will catch up with the politicking of one Detective Jane Tennyson, and her obstacle filled world as a hard nosed female detective superintendent in a male dominated police force in London. I am talking about Prime Suspect of course, my antidote to the current sad state of scripted drama's on my telly...that's how they say it across the pond.

Helen Mirren is phenomenal in this old series and anyone who is interested in good writing, directing, and acting, should watch it again and again and again. But get in line, I have ordered the whole series from Blockbuster and each new arrival in the mail, brings me much joy, and signals that yes...the weekend has begun...no debate about it.

9/25/08

Soups on...


This could be a picture of my lobotomized brain, but really it is a photo of a beautiful heirloom tomato.

Writing is an amazingly frustrating maddeningly difficult and when it happens glorious and exhilarating process. Well for me anyways, some people...I've heard they exist...just sit down and typety type type...pull Pulitzer prize winning prose out of their patooties! Wow. Let's round 'em up and grill them on their obviously secret voodoo ways I say!

Alas, yesterday was another one of those days, and I think my ever renovating neighbors are partly to blame...there is nothing like the constant sound of hammering and drilling to get that brain going! I lived in NYC for three years, and I think that this street of late has actually been noisier. However I was determined not to give up and squeezed 3 pages out of my head, and then went for a nice long walk and bought...another cook book.

I love cookbooks, even though I almost always cook without one, they are great inspiration and one of the ways that I relax. I have vegan cookbooks, Dean & Deluca, Moosewood, Donna Hay, Martha Stewart, Fresh...and at night when my husband curls up with a good paperback, I dream about soup.

My latest from Deborah Madison is all about soup, and it has great recipes and beautiful pictures. It has soups for all seasons, soups that are more like stews, and seeing it is officially soup season and the farmers markets are full of amazing produce, I have been on a soup making spree! It helps my brain to unwind after an afternoon of trying to create a world out of thin air, like an architect without blueprints.

And that heirloom tomato was delicious in a big bowl of quinoa vegetable soup.

9/24/08

Getting by with a little help from my friends...


Some days are harder than others... yesterday was one of those days. I managed to carve out four hours of time to sit at my desk and write and found it near impossible to get anything on the page. I had hit a pretty big road block in the world of first person narratives, as I have discovered that there may just be another point of view that I may need to explore...and it too would be in first person. Clearly I must be some kind of masochist to attempt to do this from more than one person's point of view?! I sat for four hours angsting and sighing and finally e-mailed a brilliant writer friend of mine who was generous enough to explore this conundrum with me.

I am lucky to have such friends. Writing can make you feel so alone and often the problems that we face on the page can not be solved by anyone other than ourselves. More often than not, even the problems themselves aren't clear, but you can see them lurking just ahead and you have to keep writing towards them even though once you get there, you know you will probably have to go back re-write and figure out a way around them. It's like driving when you are lost. You are pretty sure you are lost, nothing seems familiar, but you won't know until you get to the next major intersection. Until then it's you driving, or writing your way to...possibly...nowhere...maybe somewhere.

That's why it's great to have someone to take along the journey. This photo is of two of my favorite lucky talismans that watch me work everyday. They are...my Momiji named Luckyness...she has a secret compartment in her bum that hold's a b-day wish for me and bunny. Both were gifts, and don't ask me why, but I love these two together. I have other lucky talisman's including the gorgeous goldfish paper weight that is on my blog, and sometimes the three of them are arranged together. They are my friends, one saying a little prayer for me, the other narrowing it's eyes, as if to say, you can do it...urging me to get lost, and hopefully find my way back.

9/22/08

Make Mine a Double...latte that is...I'm recovering from the Emmy's...

Monday....zzz...no wait, no time for rest, there is too much to do! The time for resting was during that unbelievably bad Emmy broadcast last night. Ugh. I felt like the people who were accepting the awards were cringing as badly as I was at the state of television. I love television. I adore Cable and wish that Network TV had about 95% less reality television...with the exception of any show on cooking. I was happy that 30 Rock and the smart talented beautiful Tina Fey won, happy that Mad Men was acknowledged, disappointed that Ricky Gervais and his season finale that skewers all things about reality tv stars and their rampant narcissism lost. I would have loved to have heard that speech, especially on a night when 5 hosts thought it was okay to do nothing but jeer and sneer their way through an unscripted 12 minute opening. And please, oh please, learn how to read a bloody teleprompter. Honestly. Oh and while I'm at it, stop with the plastic surgery people, it is so depressing to see a skintight face on a 70 year old who shakes and rambles and can't even speak properly. It is actually wrong for your face to look the same as you did 50 years ago, especially when nothing else on your body does. And yes once again for most of the ladies eating is bad, too skinny is good, looking comfortable is optional. Thank goodness for all the funny ladies who got it all going on, brains, talent, looks...otherwise who else to look up to? Truly depressing.

Jeff and I were groaning and even though he wanted to turn it off, I was saying, "No, it'll get better, this is our industry, we should support it." With the exception of Don Rickles who was hilarious, it didn't get better. Sigh.

So now I am tired, but also determined. Determined to write, determined to create, determined to keep making art and opportunities for myself and hopefully even others, determined to save myself from mind numbing drivel like I witnessed last night.

9/19/08

Friday...First Person Floundering...

My new novel is written in the first person...well at least the first fifteen pages are, it's as far as I've gotten.

Gina's new novel was written in the first person, well at least the first fifteen pages were.

The latter is third person.

Writing in the first person seemed like a really great idea in the beginning and I love what my friend, the great writer Caroline Leavitt said about first person narrators, that they can be unreliable. But the further I get into my story the harder I am finding it is to tell history or backstory from this point of view. And how do I tell what other people think? How do I divulge the stories and secrets of other characters? And apparently the publishing world is really divided on first person tales, some loving it, some loathing it...oh great another thing to worry about!

Well, it turns out that my friend Jessica loves them, reads almost exclusively first person novels and has given me a stack of them to research. So, I guess I know what I'll be doing this weekend.

What about you? Is there a particular novel that is written from the main characters's point of view that you just love? If so...please tell me.

9/16/08

Inbox hoarding...

I am pretty good about clutter. Honest. Ask anyone who has seen my apartment. It is not possible to be a hoarder when you are living in under 700 square feet, with a husband and a dog. But one place where I compulsively collect, is my e-mail inbox. I am terrible! It is not uncommon for me to have 300 e-mails that I have read that are just lying there, unorganized, waiting to be filed or deleted. It is not that I do not respond to my e-mails, I do, compulsively. I am almost always on line and when I am not I have a little indicator notice that announces that I am busy and often when I will return. It's safe to say that I am a good communicator, returning messages whether they be voice mail or e-mail in a timely fashion. But what I am not good at...is clearing that inbox and filing. So today I did just that, and it was as boring and tedious as I knew it would be, but at least it is done. And now I have no more distractions from writing my new novel.
It seems my tentatively named protagonist seems to have a similar habit of not opening her mail. Hmmmmmm...wonder where she got that from?!

9/15/08

What goes around comes around...

I am not yet a citizen, so I can not vote. But that doesn't mean that I can't cast my vote in other ways. So here we go...
www.womenagainstsarahpalin.blogspot.com

And for the record. I am not against women. I am not against change. But I am against bigotry, hatred, homophobia, sexism, ignorance, intolerance, lying, cruelty, and stupidity. And I choose to believe that I am in the majority on this.

Vote wisely. Make yourself heard. Smart and silent, will not help this great country come election day.

Peace.

East Coast dreaming...

Lately I have been dreaming of sitting inside a house surrounded by trees and lawn and quiet...the kind of quiet that is the opposite of the non-stop chainsawing outside my window. In this house I am in a tan leather club chair with a big Sante Fe type blanket, facing a fire, Mabel on my lap, Jeff in the other chair opposite me. Where does this picture come from? Is it from all those houses that I have been looking at in the real estate section of the New York Times? Is it because recently the idea of going to write in a quiet place with space and seasons and a roaring fire seems more than just romantic but actually appealing? Is it a sign that there is a trip to NYC in my near future? Maybe that's where my new agent lives... maybe I am going to go and meet her this fall/winter? I don't know. But I do know that when I close my eyes and see this picture, I am writing a lot...so it's time for a little visualization, and maybe some earplugs...to get today's novel writing started.

9/14/08

Sunday...another day of rest?

I normally like to work one day on the weekend. My husband goes golfing (on public courses, of course!) Mabel goes to Doggy Day Care to play with other dogs and I have an entire uninterrupted day to write. We each get a day to ourselves doing something that makes us all happier to see each other later on. It is a small luxury that I count on to actually make progress in my work. There are no last minute auditions to worry about, no work e-mails, no construction madness or noisy gardeners, just an entire day without deadlines that frees me up to create at my own pace, whatever that may be on that particular day.

Unfortunately this shoulder injury has left me exhausted and unproductive. Yesterday was my third massage/acupuncture treatment and it knocked me on my ass. I felt like I had been hit by a freight train. I had plans to meet other writer friends from one of my on line classes for lunch in Pasadena. After my treatment I canceled, and then rescheduled when a friend offered to drive me. I wanted to see everyone and I am glad that I did.

It was great to visit in person with the authors of the amazing personal essays that I have had the privelage of reading over the last few months. Writing is an often lonely process and my interaction with other writers tends to happen in cyber space where we e-mail each other questions and concerns and cheer each other on.

But then it was home again to the couch for more rest and I am hoping that Dr.Kim's promise of my shoulder feeling better by Sunday is true. It is still too early to tell.
Time for the farmers market and hopefully a little less rest and a little more writing today.
 
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