Argh...trying to get home for the holidays!!

Oh, I'd love to report that I did some fabulous writing today, but instead I spent the entire day trying to book tickets on points with Air Canada. So frustrating. Jeff, bore the brunt of it; the ticketing agent who booked us on business class, only to put us on hold for an hour and then disconnect us and not actually book the tickets, so that we ended up losing the day and the option of flying business (something I've never done) and making it impossible for us to fly any other way than economy and to stay for a month in T.O. Sigh. After assuring me that there were no points tickets whatsoever, she said I could pay for tickets and stay a month...or I could fly another airline.

So I try American Airlines and discover that for $1700.00 I can visit my family...ouch!! No can do. Back to searching on line, when lo and behold the original dates we wanted to fly become available on Air Canada, in economy, for twice as many points as they should be. Huge sigh.... What can we do. We book it. And it will still cost us, $50.00 per pet each way, plus $200.00 per pet in vet visits, so all in all, we are flying for $600.00...all four of us. Thankfully we were generously gifted with the points so we can do this. But I gotta say it makes me crazy that the airlines make such a big deal of offering points and then gouge you to use them!

At last we are booked...5 hours later.


Allergy madness

The winds are howling, the heat keeps coming back and my allergies are kicking in like crazy!! I could barely see straight yesterday as my eyes were so watery and I couldn't stop blowing my nose long enough to have my hands free to type. I was a mess. And then at 4:00 am, I awoke the craziest of headaches...sigh. It's the weather. It can't make up its mind and it is driving me crazy. Alas, I am taking all my natural supplements, as well as Claritin and Advil, in the hopes that I will be able to plough through the day and get some writing done. I submit the end of my novel for class tomorrow and I am nervous. I love/loathe/love my ending. I am back and forth over whether it is satisfactory and whether or not I have gotten the story out as best I wanted. We will see. That is, as long as my eyes don't start watering again.


Doing it daily....

Writing is like one of those muscles that need to be exercised daily, whether you want to or not. If you don't, your writing talent will wither and retreat to some corner of your mind, where only doubt and fear exists and it will crush your confidence and will and make returning to the page harder and harder. I try to write everyday, and usually do. It is not always brilliant, sometimes it is just my blog, or a revision of some pages that I am working on, but each day I come to this keyboard and I sit and I write.

I was thinking about this today as I was talking to my husband about working that artist muscle, whether you are a dancer, or an actor, or a painter, you have to DO your craft in order to keep it alive. And I was realizing that unlike acting or any of those other things, a writer is always writing. It's not jut 4 hours at my desk, it is in my sleep at night, in my dreams, sitting in the backyard and wondering what my characters do, and yet it is so important to also stay present to hear and see and process all those moments in our real life that become part of us, and that we will be able to tap into later.

As funny as this sounds, it was during this conversation today about all the things that we should do to keep staying vital and engaged as artists; taking classes, seeing shows, doing workshops, that I realized as a writer I have been doing it daily...almost everyday for almost 3 years now. It's a great feeling, the realization that the writer and the writing are one now, (knock on wood, don't jinx it!) and that it isn't something that I have to plan or schedule or find a way to work on. It just is.


Is reading a book the same as listening to it?

I belong to a book club. It's fairly new and it is my first. We have only read two books so far, American Wife (blech) and Life of Pi (the most astonishing end, and slowest burn to a book I have ever read. I thought about that book way more after I read it, than when I was reading it!) And now, in the spirit of Halloween, we are reading Stephen King's Duma Key. This is the first Stephen King book that I have read in decades and it has been fun so far. I am only 40 pages in and have 700 to go, so I know that I will be cramming as we meet soon, but I will finish reading it.

Some of the members of the club, have just revealed that they are listening to the book instead of reading it. And I am wondering is if listening to the book on tape is the same as reading it? It feels like cheating to me. Although I love the idea of books on tape as a form of entertainment, I wonder if it is really possible to grasp the whole experience of holding a book in one's hands, curling up on the couch and losing yourself in the words on the page. When you read, you can see how the author chose to string words together, how the punctuation informed where the emphasis was in the sentence and the voice of the narrator and the characters are the ones you give to it and not that of the actor hired to do the read.

I also worry that not reading, makes us become lazier, and dependent on receiving all our information, rather than actively pursuing it. We sit and watch movies, and television and listen to the radio and browse the internet...all things I do and enjoy, but it takes concentration to read and I think it is important to work those muscles. Not to mention it's wonderful to read a remarkable passage and be able to go back and reread it, to savor the words, to put the book done, catch one's breath and read it again. And books can be on your shelf, each one a reminder of a time and place in your life, an afternoon or week spent losing yourself in the words between the covers. They are lasting. Unlike so many things that come and go...there is still the power of the printed word, as long as there are people to read them.


Worn out...

Whose idea was it to get a puppy? Whose? Oh, wait that was mine. It was a good idea, and I am so happy that we did it and that the girls are getting along, but I am unbelievably tired now. I have been training our new dog Lily to walk on a leash, not bark her head off at other dogs, not be afraid of big dogs, to sit and stay and to come when I call her name. This means that Mabel is doing all these things too, and I am trying to make sure that the affection is equal, so that no one gets jealous, that they learn to love each other, and I get to stay the boss. Thank goodness I watched all those dog whisperer episodes! It has been amazing, and each day gets better and better. But as Jeff has been filming for the entire time, I have been on duty 24/7.

Like any good couple we try and juggle and support each other and pick up the slack for the one who is working. These past few weeks, while Jeff works on a great and demanding role in an independent film I have been the hause frau, and gardener, and dog whisperer all while still auditioning and shooting and trying to write new pages each day. Some days have been better than others. And I am happy that all my efforts are paying off, I mean look at that photo! That's two dogs getting along. But today it has caught up with me and I am knackered.

Alas, I don't have anywhere to be today and I can spend the whole day in my office...which conveniently enough, also has a day bed. Wonder if the ladies will make room on the pillow for me?


Double the trouble, double the fun?

Meet Lily. She is a new addition to our family. Lily is an 8 pound bichon/poodle mix, so that makes her a bichiepoo? A poochon? Adorable? Yes.

We got her from Bichon & Buddies yesterday. It is a great organization that rescues bichons and similar dogs, think hypoallergenic and tries to find homes for them. I had noticed them before but had held off, they are really serious about placing dogs in good permanent homes, but they rarely have dogs available, as Bichons are amazing, and who would ever want to give them up? Lots of people lately it seems. The bad economy has people changing their minds and giving up their pets. I sent my application in on Sunday and an hour and a half later, Jeanine called. She had 6 dogs available...when could I come and see?

Uh....after I tell my husband? Yikes! We had both wanted to do this, but we also both thought that it would take a while for our application to be approved and then we would get on a waitlist. Surprise. So yesterday we went and met the furkids. It was heartbreaking. This was no Larchmont outdoor sunny weekend pet fair. No, this was a shelter with all these animals barking loudly and jumping up to be noticed and taken home. It was so sad, and I could only do it once. I brought the first dog out to meet Mabel, and she was sweet, but too big for us because we need to put her on a plane, and then I had Jeff go back into the den of despair to get the others. We met them all, and some are afraid of people, some don't like dogs, and some like Lily...jumped up onto my lap and was determined to stay there. We went for a group walk in the rain and then hung out for an hour and a half together and it was clear to me that this little girl was determined to go home with us. The funny thing is, we had noticed her months and months before, but then she got adopted. And then she got returned. And when I went in to see the dogs, she was jumping so high to see me, but I didn't think that she was available for adoption as she wasn't mentioned to us. It turns out that was because she is a mix and not pure Bichon, which is fine by us! Those are my two favorite breeds!

The first photo is when we met at the shelter. Mabel looks a little worried, but she wasn't being jealous or aggressive, which we were told was the best we can hope for...the bonding takes time. The second photo is 3 hours later, after baths, food and playtime, they both fell asleep on my lap, which is where they are now...bum to bum, on their way I hope, to becoming best friends.


Actor Week...and late night writing!

I've been having an actor week. I know it's only Tuesday, but it started around this time last week. The commercial auditions have been picking up and I got a booking, and yesterday I had a great audition for a series that I would love to do. My husband has been acting a lot as well, shooting a movie, and so our down time has been working on lines and prepping each other. All this acting and preparing for auditions takes a lot of time and requires me to leave the apartment much more than I am used to! Although I am not complaining. It is great and I hope that I get more bookings before the year is out. But as I have said before, it makes it harder for me to switch back and forth in my brain, between the acting and the writing and so I have been getting to the page later and later, eating dinner at my desk and writing until it is almost time for bed, and often outside, or with the windows wide open. I sit with Mabel on my lap wrapped in a huge scarf and work by the glow of the computer.

There is something about writing in an environment that mirrors the emotional life of your character. Although my protagonist is in a sunny environment right now, she is going through some really heavy stuff and the cold dark nights are really helping me to tap into that. I am so thankful for the gray skies and the rain which are perfect writing weather.

Although if it gets any colder outside, which it will, I will need to light our Chimeneya for warmth!


Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!!!

I just wanted to wish a Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all my friends and family!! Last night I got to go to a wonderful thanksgiving feast here in L.A. and hang with a bunch of great Canadians, some that have been here for well over 15 years, others who have been here for 5 weeks! It was a wonderful feast and it was a nice reminder of home and what our thanksgiving has always been, a chance to be with family, eat, drink and be merry! And yes, I had two servings and ate the pumpkin pie!!

These beautiful flowers are from my folks...some floral love for the holiday!


Friday, and how lip gloss can solve your problems...

It's Friday and I have had a really up and down week. I had to fight really hard for an audition that I am perfect for, have all the credits for, have the demo for...and was turned down! I was depressed, and then was later surprised when I got the audition in the end after all! I didn't get a callback for a huge commercial campaign that I thought I would, but then got put on hold for another and I just found out booked it! I had to go back and rework some freelance work that I thought was done, but then surprised myself when I realized that there was still so much more room for growth and it turned out to be better for the extra effort! I had two awesome super long writing days and got 6 new great pages and then stalled for the next two, so I can only assume if the pattern persists that this weekend will be a great writing weekend that will also turn around for me. I am hopeful.

And I have new lipgloss, and I have to say, never underestimate the power of something so seemingly frivolous to brighten your mood. I keep my new lipgloss on my desk, next to my licorice and all my super pretty talismans. I feel all glamorous and Anna Wintour like, minus the giant Vogue office and salary, and gorgeous NYC locale...but still...Ms.Wintour did offer when pressed to answer what can one buy that is actually designer and under $50.00...lipstick. Or in my case...lipgloss.


Friends & Neighbors...

Moving to Los Angeles was one of the hardest things I ever did, and to be truthful it still is hard to be away from my closest friends and family members and in a city which routinely challenges me and what I believe by it's constant rewarding of so much that is shallow and wrong. Think sex tape stars getting their own shows, tabloid celebrities ghost written book deals, women who are constantly rewarded for how young they try to look or how firm their bodies are, instead of the amazing accomplishments that they are capable of achieving. Thank goodness no real author has had to stand in her bra and panties looking like she is ready to star in her own soft core porno in order to sell her book...yet.

Last night I fell down the rabbit hole that is my insatiable love and admiration for one of all my all time favorite cities in the world, when I went to see The September Issue, a documentary about the making of Vogue's September issue and the women behind it, with my one of my neighbors. It of course takes place in NYC, and travels to Paris for the spring fashion shows and Rome for a photo shoot. And yes it is about the crazy world of fashion, which whether you shop at The Gap, or Barney's or buy clothes on e-bay, we all take part in to some degree. We all have a sense of style and a way of dressing that is right for us and tells the world who we are in some small way when we walk out the door. Regardless of what we do, or our budget we each get up every morning and know that a favorite t-shirt, or necklace, or pair of sneakers, will make us feel good.

But what I loved about this film, was that for a lot of the people who work at Vogue, fashion is an art form, it tells a story through color and fabric and vision, by the designers and stylists and photographers who work in it. Some of the photo shoots were nothing short of genius, exquisite paintings come to life and the dedication behind the scenes of all involved was nothing short of awe inspiring. For me this was a film about women, real women mind you not teeny tiny perfect models, and older women, who are at the very top of their game and worked for decades to get there. They talked about the young women and men, who come and go, about the need for a forum for their art, and also about constantly keeping their eyes and ears open to learn and see and experience so that they can keep vital. They talk about the change in tides and trends and the obsession of celebrity culture and how one needs to keep looking and moving forward. They are passionate these, designers, stylists, editors, and the documentary was so well done and so interesting. And no fashion isn't the be all and end all, but it can be wonderful and interesting and full of talent or it can be vapid and shallow and crass, just like all art these days, again think the real housewives of wherever, or the latest biography of a reality star not yet 20.
These women, were dedicated to what they did, and they were determined to work as hard as it took to be the best at it, and that was inspiring. And of course NYC was gorgeous and I have been missing it, and the community and energy that one can feel in that city ...all day long.

That's where these beautiful vases come in. One of the things that have made LA even possible for me, is that I have been blessed enough to have neighbors who have become friends. The smaller vase is from a dear friend of mine who was my neighbor for the first 3 years here, and I wouldn't have made it without him. And this second vase, my neighbor of almost a year gave me today. A former east coaster we were both raving about the film over coffee in the backyard in our pj's and lamenting the kind of people one meets in a city as diverse as New York, a pedestrian city, so it's easier to...and then I came home with a bunch of flowers to cheer myself up and he had bought this vase for me. And I was reminded of how lucky I am to have my own group of fascinating individuals, right here in Los Angeles, people who started out as strangers and have become friends. Friends that I admire and inspired by and who everyday, try to be the best that they can at what they do. I'd take that over a Chanel jacket any day. Though I wouldn't say no to both!


The Grumps....

I am in a grumpy mood today. I am fighting a cold, fighting the end of my novel and fighting all the critics in my head that have gotten so loud it is making it hard to hear anything else. I think this is the hardest part of writing. The part that insists that you just keep going, keep writing, regardless of the fact that there is little outside encouragement, or financial incentive, or anything really telling you to keep going back to the page other than that there is a story inside that needs to be told and you are the only one to tell it.

I love writing novels for all the same reasons that it makes me crazy. I love the solitude, the lack of collaboration, the opportunity to tell the story from start to finish, the structure that allows me to really explore the worlds of my characters and the time it takes to flesh them out and delve deep into their psyches. I love how long it takes and I love that there is, I believe, a purity to the form...noone gets to work on it until the very end, when it is time to show it to the editor and the agent. Until then it is a wonderful, private, ethereal, deeply involved process and when it is working it is magical. And when it isn't, it is frustrating and intangible and lonely and there is no one to work it out with or rail against but oneself. Sigh.

Some days are better than others and there's only way to find out...go back to the page and keep at it.


Staycation and one night getaways...

Alrighty! I need some help here. I want to know what is your best staycation or overnight getaway? You know when you wanna take a vacation to recharge your batteries but time/budget won't allow for a fabulous getaway? Do you go see an afternoon of movies? Get a massage? Indulge in an afternoon of wandering? Take a daytrip and stay overnight during the week at some great hotel that has a special weekday rate?

When I lived in NYC the staycation was an easy one for me. I would sleep in, have a bagel and cream cheese and coffee in Central Park and spend hours walking around it and sitting on a bench watching the boats and reading my book. Then I would walk all the way down to Soho and look at the galleries, try on handmade hats at my favorite hat store, grab coffee in the village and eat a lunch of Italian sandwiches and pastries, some more wandering, maybe a movie at the Angelika and a cheap dinner of Indian food or a trip back uptown and a stop at my favorite noodle shop for a big bowl of soup and veggie dumplings, followed by a long hot bubble bath a glass of wine and a night of movies.

The best part about all of this was that there was so much to see and do for free, bookstores, galleries, parks, interesting shops, and I had a list of amazing places that were cheap eats with exceptional people watching...and I could walk and walk for hours. But here in L.A. I must do a lot more driving and so when Jeff and I have wanted a getaway we usually have to drive out of town and stay overnight which makes it much more expensive.

So tell me, what do you do when you need a mini vacation? Any great recommendations? I need them.
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