Shake, Rattle and Roll...

I got a message on my phone today..."Hi Babe, there's been an earthquake, but not to worry, everything is okay, Mabes and I are fine."

This is not a call I was expecting to get, and yet all my L.A. friends had told me that it would be just a matter of time. Jeff had been lying on the floor reading when all of sudden he felt a shake and thought to himself "Bloody subway!" And then, "Wait a minute, there's no subway?!" And then..."Jesus, the whole building is moving!" He heard bottles fall off the fridge in the kitchen, and Mabel came out of her bed and curled up in his lap as they waited for the shaking to stop. Crazy. His first L.A. earthquake. Thankfully everyone is alright. As my friend Terry, (who had prepped us about what to do in the event of an earthquake), put it..."Congratulations, your first earthquake. Just enough to get your feet wet, but hopefully not enough to scare you." As for me, my feet are dry...and I'd really like to keep them that way.


Have computer will travel...

What on earth did I ever do before wifi and laptops? I mean really! Today I have written and collaborated with friends and colleagues in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and more. I've chatted and e-mailed and sent drafts of work back and forth and operated on a multitude of timezones all while wandering around indoors and out, soaking up the sun, and feasting on sushi. Mmmmm sushi. I know, I know this technology is not new, I am not some luddite...but still, every now and then I am filled with the same amazement that I felt when I got my very first laptop. It was a blueberry colored mac clam shell. It was amazing. Still is. I can not bear to part with it. And to the this day, when my latest gadget fails me due to some technological glitch, I turn it on and marvel that it works. Amazing.


Lazing about...

Yawn...sip..munch...sigh...repeat. This is pretty much what I have been doing since I last blogged!Happy to report that the flight was incident free!! Ran into an old friend at the airport and was too busy happily catching up to worry! In fact I was chatting so much that I almost missed my flight. Since landing I have strolled, dined, hung out with my family, and played with the kidlets. Now I am taking my newly manicured nails and toes out to dinner with the girls. Ahhhh now this is a vacation. Although I still have deadlines and must meet them. And I will. Tomorrow. After a day in the country and a night spent on a patio. Oh well...there's always Monday.


Frequent flyer...

I am about to get on a plane...again...and even thought it is by choice, that doesn't mean that I like it. I have decided to jet off to Toronto for a quick trip to see my family. Things are pretty quiet here and I am flying on points and the whole thing is gonna cost me under a $100, so I couldn't resist. I'll get see my family and friends and a whole gaggle of kiddies, and that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow should make the whole thing worthwhile, except that every time I think of getting on a plane I wanna be sick. You see, I haven't had much luck with flying lately. My last flight never made it off the ground due to engine failure and one before that was over Christmas in the middle of a storm that had Mabel and I stranded in Chicago and Dallas, in some of the finest highway roach motels I have ever encountered. The funny thing about all of this, is that I fly a lot. When I was living in NYC I would hop on a plane and come home often. Mind you back then, it was before the 2 hour security check and I could show up a half hour before and be in Toronto an hour and half later. That same trip is now almost a 4 hour journey! I have my little talismans that I pack, and pray pretty much the entire time that I am in the air that I and everyone else on the plane will land safely. I read magazines to distract myself, snack on jellybeans, and try to remind myself that there is just as much chance that I could bite it stepping off the curb, (and with the way people drive here in L.A., that's not an exaggeration), as I could in a plane...oh I can't even write it! And yet no matter how I try to calm myself, by the time I arrive at my destination I am a wreck.

Does anyone have any tips to make flying easier? Anything? I am seriously thinking of drinking this time.


It's a stage not a TV...the actors can hear you...but why can't you hear them?

Last night we went to see a play at the beautiful old Hayworth theater. It is on Wilshire close to MacArthur park. It is on a stretch of Wilshire that with the exception of the few theaters that have been lovingly restored, is not so nice after dark. During intermission, patrons are encouraged to go outside and enjoy the fresh air, probably because the lobby is so small, and there would be no way to accommodate a full house. I am sure we were not encouraged to leave so we could check that our cars weren't being broken into in the adjacent parking lot. But many of us did stand and stare at the sight of a couple of seriously wigged out guys darting back and forth in between the cars. There we were a task force of slacks and sensible footwear, frowning faces and arms crossed, and our we -can-see-what-you-young-men-are-up-to faces, seemed to scare them away. Clearly this is a tactic that is only effective when the numbers are 20 to 2 in your favor.

Back inside, fresh air be damned, we sat through the second act of a great play that was being tortured by a couple of actors who seemed to have given up trying. They mumbled their lines when they remembered them and clutched furniture as if aware that they were on a sinking ship and there was nothing they could do. They still had to get to the end of the play, even if they had finished with it, long before we came in. To make matters worse the mother and daughter who were next to me were translating just about every line that was being said. It was loud enough that everyone in the audience could hear them. It was loud enough that the actors on stage could hear them. Could they really not hear the actors? And were the actors really muttering so much that they had to be translated from English...to English?
I don't know, I was still hoping that there would be tires on our car when we left. And thankfully there were. At least on ours.


Caribbean Cruise...

I love traveling, although moving to a new country and city means that my travel is mostly saved for trips home to see my family and friends. Still we try and go for day trips and whenever possible get back to NYC, which as anyone who knows me can testify, is my all time favorite city. Manhattan, Toronto, Los Angeles ...oh and Florence and London! And pretty much in that order, because, well, I am not fluent in Italian and paying for everything in pounds would kill me! But it would seem that I have found a way to indulge my travel lust, and my food lust, by cleverly combining the two...eating at ethnic restaurants!
Last night I took a cruise down to the Caribbean. Okay it was really Larchmont, but still... We sat on the patio of Prado with Mabel, and enjoyed a sampling of seafood paella, sweet and spicy scallops, shrimp in some sort of dark hot molasses, and plantains! We drank Red Stripe, stayed until the sun went down and it was finally cool enough to wander back home to our apartment. As I lay on the couch with all the windows open, accompanied by the strange sounds of parrots that have taken over our courtyard and dug into a red velvet cupcake...I couldn't help but feel like I really had traveled away. Except of course without the actual sights and sounds and experiences of a new place and the people who live there. But then again, this travel bill was much cheaper.


What is my ideal day...you ask?

My dear friend and incredible actress Kathryn Kirkpatrick has asked me what my ideal day is. Having once been my roommate she may be surprised that it has changed very little in the last 14 years! But she asked so....
Hmmm, my ideal day would start with me writing before 3pm! But when I am not on a self imposed rigid deadline as I was with my novel this is not the case. When I was in the thick of writing Navel Gazing, I had a rule that I had to be at my desk by 11:00am and I generally wrote through lunch and stopped for a late dinner.But despite the time shift, the blocks of activity remain the same. I like to rise and shine after 8 hours of sleep, and have a big coffee at my desk while I review my favorite websites: LA Times, NYTimes,People, Perez, Facebook, Toronto Star, Daily Candy, Media Bistro, UCLA, and Caroline Leavitts blog. All the while I am doing this Mabel naps on my lap raises my body temperature a good ten degrees by doing so. Then Jeff takes her for her lazy morning walk, and then we go for our own walk for an hour, talk, plan our day, look at all the beautiful houses and then end it in Larchmont Village. Once there, I am usually unable to resist a toasted banana nut bagel with non-fat cream cheese and an iced coffee. Then we stroll home, I roll around on the floor with Mabel for a while, feed her, then shower, put on real clothes, ( I am forcing myself not to live in sweats!) and hit my desk. I stay at my desk through lunch and only break for Mabel's visit with the mailman, her visit with our neighbors mutt Sophie and her love of a good sunbeam. She has me trained! Everyday around 3pm , I check in with my mom in Toronto and then it's back to all things writing...this includes procrastinating, snacking, surfing the web, checking in with other writers. I work until 7:00pm and then Jeff and I take a long evening walk with Mabel and then have a late dinner. Ideal would include a dinner out with a nice glass of wine on a patio, a frozen yogurt dessert and a great episode of television like Californication, Weeds, The Wire, or a movie. Then it's time for the three of us to pile into bed, Jeff with a paperback, me with a cookbook or magazine, and Mabel with the Whole Dog Digest.


Taking the pressure off...

I feel like I have awoken after a long and restful sleep, ever since I decided to put my new novel on hold for a bit and focus on the screenplays. I was really stressing about what I had to write next and as I have said earlier, my heart just wasn't ready to let go of my friends in my debut novel Navel Gazing, after 3+ years together. I have also realized that my husband isn't crazy when he says that I need to leave the computer and my desk every once in a while, and not just when friends are in town. Apparently walking the dog and going to Larchmont for Pinkberry do not count as rejuvenating activities. It seems my glass has been stuck at half full and I need to fill it up before sitting down and writing my heart heart out for another 3 years! Imagine that? Well, I have to tell you there's a lot going on outside my little apartment and now that I have had a taste of it (quite literally, foodie that I am)...I can't get enough! We went to see the brilliant and hilarious Ricky Gervais last night at The Kodak theater, had drinks with friends at the Roosevelt and tonight are off to a birthday party! I hung out with a dear friend of mine on Wednesday night, indulging in tapas and sangria, who at half my age, kept me out way past my bedtime. And there's more! This week we are going to eat lobster on the beach, and watch the sunset...just because... and then see a play downtown on the weekend. I am having a summer vacation and reading my screen writing books and writing my essays and wandering the city, and the strangest thing is happening...my brain is starting to get all sorts of ideas, and characters and scenarios. Imagine that.


False Starting...

Oh starting a new project is hard. My heart and brain are still with those characters whom I shared the last 3+ years with. I love them and I miss them and I wish that I could give more life to them...but I wait. I wait, because someone first needs to tell me that they love them enough in this life, and can sell them, before I dare invest any more years in dreaming up futures for them. Alas, I started a new novel, but it has only really gone as far as a few pages, and my heart just isn't in it. And the other novel that lives in me, isn't ready to be born yet. Call me crazy, but I know that it needs more time, more research, more wisdom and age on my part, before I am ready to tackle the epic tale that she is. Yes my novel is female. So, I have instead decided to do something really crazy like write not one but two screenplays that have been rolling around my brain. Screenwriting is stranger to me, and I find the structure foreign. The fact that I can write a novel, but sweat about story acts, makes my screenwriting friends laugh. But I find it a challenge, and the greater the challenge the harder I work. That is why I have decided to write not one, but two treatments by September. I am hoping that this will light a fire in me and spur me on! But first I must finish this book that breaks it all down. And then I need some Thai food.


Sweet Sounds of Summer

Leaf blowing, lawn mowing,hammering and sawing, these are the sounds that I have been waking up to for a long, long time now. I never knew that there was so much grass on my street that it required hours of tending to, starting somewhere well before 7:30 am and finishing... well it is still going. When it stops I'll let you know. The thing that drives me crazy is that those polluting little gas leaf blowers are actually illegal within 200 feet of a private residence! And yet it is the private residences that use them, so no one complains. Sigh. The real noise though for the last 8 months or so, is coming from our neighbors renovation next door. I have renovated a house (in 10 weeks!) and I completely understand that projects run over. I am actually totally sympathetic with my neighbors. It is a huge expense, and a huge inconvenience, and when it is all done and their home is lovelier than ever, it will all be worth it! But I am starting to think that it won't be done. Ever. And that the leaf blowing may never stop. And that my next novel just might be about a woman who is driven mad by incessant noise pollution and goes on a rampage...or takes to her blog to moan about it.


Bread goodness

Good L.A. day today! I had a commercial audition with my husband, where we got to go in together and "act as husband and wife". This meant we were supposed to be able to finish each others sentences, know each others short hand, and give each other knowing glances. This really was acting. In real life, it is more like we interrupt each other, know when the other is saying one thing and meaning another, and give each other the old "don't you start with me" stare. I kid. I kid. After that, I got my writing assignment done, made the fed ex dead line at the post office and indulged in an amazing sandwich from Larchmont Village Wine Spirits and Cheese. These sandwiches are famous. Everyone says so, and the line up out the door would indicate that it's true. While 4 people work the sandwich counter, another person takes orders over the phone for pick up. There are only six types of sandwiches and my favorite is the buffalo mozzarella with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, fresh tomato and basil on a ciabatta bun. Its delicious...and it comes with sour little gherkins. Yum. I am convinced that what makes these sandwiches so famous is the bread. In spite of all the carb dissing, people still love their bread. They love the way it tastes, they way it fills them up, they way it holds the goodness of their sandwich together in a way that two leaves of lettuce simply can not. Why else would this little wine shop, with very yummy wines, be so busy? In fact when I asked until what time do they serve lunch, the owner answered..."Until the bread runs out." And there you have it.



Oh my! It seems my get up and go, has got up and gone! I had big writing plans for today, but instead have managed to walk the dog, clean the apartment and amuse "Wendy" the customer service representative at ING on line banking, because I am unable to remember my secret pin number. It's such a good secret, even I don't know it. It seems my brain is still on holiday. Alas, now I am in crunch time and am left with no choice but to write if I am to meet my Tuesday midnight deadline for my personal essay on the body. Time for another cup of coffee!


Fourth of July Weekend...or food fest

Yesterday was officially the Fourth of July, and I celebrated it at a lovely bbq in the Valley under blazing hot sun. I brought my one and only food specialty: the Super Salad. One of my friends baked not one, but three gourmet cakes, all of which I tasted and thoroughly enjoyed. The cakes were done in red, white and blue...vanilla cake with cream cheese icing, raspberries, blueberries, a berry trifle, chocolate ganache and rice krispy squares! These cakes were as fine as anything I have ever over paid for at Whole Foods, Mani's or Dufflets. I am quite sure that if I had a talent like this I would never leave my house. It would not be an option. I would be so huge that I wouldn't fit through the door. This of course is not the case for my friend the baker, who is also a talented and beautiful actress. To be honest I would love to be able to bake like she does, or cook like a professional chef...like several of my friends can, although I think I lack the organization and the patience for such endeavors. No my food skills lie elsewhere...in eating. I am an excellent consumer and make a wonderful guest! I enjoy food tremendously and can always be counted on to bring the tastiest of wines, clean my plate and compliment the chef! I introduce myself to new people, initiate conversations, and always send a thank-you card or e-mail.
Thankfully this weekend, I am getting to put my special skills to use, dining at the table of great cooks, which means another Super Salad, and another trip to the wine store.


Ick Day in L.A.

Sometimes I get the "ick" living in L.A. Perhaps because it is not my first home that I still see all it's fabulousness along with it's faults so vividly. Or maybe it's just because in the short span of a few hours, my husband dealt with a threatening punk on a skanky street in Hollywood where I had an audition, we were in a four car accident on Melrose and my supposedly relaxing lunch at Whole Foods was interrupted by a barrage of crazies in the parking lot. Ick. We are okay. The accident was the fault of a driver who happened to be looking down instead of ahead and therefore didn't brake, but drove straight into the car behind us, which hit us, and we hit the one ahead. The cop said it was clearly her fault, and thankfully no one was seriously hurt, although the guy behind us went to the hospital after his leg rammed into the dashboard. I am stiff and sore, and a little shaken up, but my match box medical degree tells me that a little advil, some wine and chocolate, will go a long way to helping my maladies. And to really make this a weird L.A. day, when the accident happened, we were in the middle of one of those big life/career conversations, in front of a psychics house...and the driver who caused the accident? A casting director. I kid you not.


Oregon Casual...

I had an audition today for a commercial campaign. I was told to dress Oregon Casual. What? I've never been to Oregon! A friend said, "Think Vancouver." What does that mean? Fleece?
No. Apparently Oregon Casual...means "Lesbian." Yup. Seems I had missed this new addition to the coded vernacular that is part of the casting world. Categorizing is an inherent part of the casting process. Advertisers are trying to appeal to certain demographics and have spent a lot of time and money on researching exactly who their audience is and who they want to appeal to. When I sign in at a commercial audition, I have to check F for female, C for Caucasian, and -40, for under 40 years of age. There is also A for Asian, AA for African American, and L for Latino. Recently I was let go from a campaign that I was on hold for, because I didn't fit one of these boxes clearly enough. The client wanted to know what exactly my "Ethnic heritage" was? My agent smartly answered, what do you want it to be? But coding seems to be used when it might not be deemed appropriate to say what one really means. Over the years some of my favorite codes have been: "good swimmer," (big breasts), "Manhattan-ite", (Jewish) and "quirky" (not as attractive as the lead)...but now I get to add "Oregon Casual", to the list.

Are there any codes that you use to describe things that you may not feel comfortable enough to say outright?


Canada Day...

What better way to celebrate Canada Day than with a fellow Canadian whom I've known all but 8 years of my entire life? Today's travels took us on a tour of downtown Los Angeles and all it's gorgeous old buildings that are finding a new lease on life as live work lofts and restaurants. I love going downtown, I find there is something so calming about urban centers. I immediately breathe a little easier and feel a little spring in my step at the sight of skyscrapers and people bustling up and down sidewalks. This is my nature; a sea of people, mountains of concrete, and a sky of glorious architecture. The fact that there are also palm trees in the middle of all this, is just heavenly.
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