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.


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!


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?


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.



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.


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!



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.


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.


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!


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!
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