Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 233-243: Toughen up cupcake

I started this post with this sentence:
"That's it. I'm throwing in the towel. I'm done with this project."
But then my friend Jeff wrote to me right in the middle of typing the sentence above and wrote:
"Toughen up cupcake. It's time to write."
Support comes at the perfect time.

Jeff was my office spouse at another ad agency we worked at in Irvine, California. Irvine is made up of suburbs, giant shopping plazas, diamond clad yoga pants wearing moms with giant purses, and one behemoth ad agency.

Even though he's not my office spouse now, he still acts as though he's taken the vows. He nudges me and makes me do writing I don't feel like doing. He knows what's good for me when I'm swimming too far into the murkiness of my own misery to know for myself. And to think it all started when he asked if I wanted to carpool. Six years later, he keeps this project alive with:
"Toughen up cupcake. It's time to write."
What a good friend.

And yesterday I got my first donation! Check out the right hand side of the page where it says Donate. (Scroll up a bit) Click on it and you can donate to my Great Escape Fund, where I will write to you from the road. Which road? Haven't a clue. I don't even know which country that road will be in. I suppose it depends on the donations. When will this happen? No idea. The donation came from my best friend and co-author Marni. It was her way of saying:
"Toughen up cupcake. It's time to write."
It made me beam.

So today I'm back. Back after being so consumed with my own misery that I haven't bothered to post.  I've kept up writing my morning pages everyday but it's the same banal crap that doesn't feel worth sharing. 

ba·nal/ˈbānl/Adjective: So lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring.

So bear with me folks. I'm pulling myself out of this thing. I'm letting myself off the hook for the last ten days of silence and not even attempting to catch myself up on my posts.

But first, I'd like to blame the fact that I've stopped eating sugar. I miss chocolate

I'd also like to blame the workload at my current ad agency. And the heat in the San Fernando Valley.

And even Rome for being so beautiful that every other place (besides Maui) is like the slums.

And AT&T just because they suck.

That's about it. Okay. Now this cupcake is going to toughen and get back to writing.

Thanks for hanging in there. Well, except for that 34th follower who dropped off during the silence period. Pft.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 232: How to NOT achieve your dreams

Tell yourself "It could be worse."

I tend to attract people who talk about their dreams. At work, at the café, at the bookstore—everywhere. People start telling me what they'd love to do with their lives. I get excited listening.

"Yes," I say. "Your dream about living in a trailer in the desert sounds fantastic." And it really does.

"Your dream about working in a big time advertising agency sounds great. It is great. Go do it," I say.

"You want to write a children's book about kazoos? Fantastic! Can I read it when it's ready?" I say. And I mean it. I want to read it and I think it's a great idea.

Then they say, "But..." followed by a bunch of "bla bla bla bla bla" about how they don't have the time, the resources, or how they are too tethered to their current life. Then they say,

"... but hey, it could be worse."


We tend to forget to mention that it really could be so much better.

I'm one to talk. I'm in a life that is really nice. All my needs are met and I'm getting on alright.

But it could be so much better.

I know what it takes to be so much better. And I know I stop myself. I know because I'm typing this in between writing ads instead of in between swims in the ocean or in between coffee shop visits or in between books I'm reading or writing. I'm writing what I really want to write in between what I don't really want to write. Still, the checks clear and I just need to grow some balls. I'm getting there.

In Los Angeles, we are privileged to see just how much better it can be. We run into athletes, actors, directors and musicians on a daily basis around town who are living inside their lives that are so much better. If we stay in LA long enough, we get invited to their parties and for swims in their swimming pools. We have brunches at their beach houses. We even have ball gowns at-the-ready for last minute invites to the Oscars and various highfalutin events. In fact, just today I bought black heels "just in case." And we are always riding around in each other's dream cars... except for mine, which is a fuel-efficient but rather commonplace Honda Civic. Still, it's good for zipping around.

Around the globe, people are dreaming their dreams. In LA, we are surrounded by people living them.

I think the difference between those of us that are dreaming their dreams and those that are living their dreams is that those living the dreams don't say, "It could be worse." They say:

"It could be so much better... watch and see."

Day 231: Singing with Dave Matthews

If you've ever felt like you couldn't sing, go see Dave Matthews. He's not the greatest singer out there but still, he pretty much rocks. You can sing along and feel like the best backup singer ever.

In yesterday's post, I said I think I'm the only person who doesn't blow my wad when someone mentions the Hollywood Bowl.

Yes, we remember. We thought your use of "blow my wad" was crass and unladylike, but kinda hot at the same time so we let it go.

You are so kind.

Tonight I went to see Dave Matthews at the Hollywood Bowl and I think I blew my wad.

Now it's just unladylike. 


It helped that I had incredible seats.

Hey there Dave.

This guy was having so much fun on stage. Made me wonder how much he smiles in the day. Then I wondered how much I smiled in the day.

Then I thought that maybe I should have been a rock star instead of a copywriter.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 230: Artist Date with John Mayer at the Hollywood Bowl

I think I might be the only person alive that doesn't blow her wad when someone mentions the Hollywood Bowl.
Big deal. 

Last night I got a last minute ticket to see John Mayer at the Bowl so I went... somewhat begrudgingly.

This is me looking around for Johnny-poo.

And me finding him:

Now I'm not saying that I'm the biggest John Mayer fan. He's great. He is. And super talented. But when I saw the show I realized that he really is that great and he really is that super talented. He spoke with the audience like we were all just chillin' hanging on the patio with beers. He won me over. And now that I know to take a jacket along, the Hollywood Bowl won me over, too.

I took a really bad video of the show. So bad that I can't share it here. But I found something better...

Day 229: Coffee with a nomad

Random awesomeness in mail!

A reader sent me Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman. How great is that? This wonderful reader was the recipient of one of my books from my Fishbowl Giveaway. To remind you, I'm giving away a book about creativity from my library a week until the end of the year. To enter, email me your MAILING address. I'll write it on a piece of paper and drop said piece of paper in said fishbowl. Voila. I pick a winner every week and they get a sweet book in the mail.

This month I'm giving away my SARK books.

Your entry counts for all drawings. It's a drawing the way you always wished it would be.

Back to the nomad.

The author of this book left her marriage and her swanky Los Angeles lifestyle of Industry parties and famous friends to live, well, all over the place. She lives in villages and hangs with the people. Since pretty much everywhere else in the world is cheaper than LA, she can live off of $10,000 a year.

Though I have very little interest in hobnobbing in rural villages, I was inspired by how she found another way to live. We don't have to live out the story of cultural expectations. We don't have to get married, have babies, live in the suburbs, get fat together, fight about money, send the kids off to college, drink beer in the driveway with the neighbors, and talk about who the bachelor chose on the latest reality series.

There are other ways to live. Better ways. Ways that make a person super happy. And isn't what we're all after?

For me? Happiness is all about counting to the number 4.

Just like Feist.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 228: RIP fro-yo, ya jerk

Last week I stopped eating sugar because I've been depressed lately. I thought there might be a connection between my bad mood and the delicious delicacies of the various "ose" variety I was consuming.

Here's what I learned:
  • Don't make tea if you usually put sugar in it. You'll be tempted. Big time. Don't order chai tea from the Indian food restaurant either. You know it's already laced with sugar. Sneaky monkey.

  • Do not bring money with you on your walk in the evening. The frozen yogurt place on your route will beckon... no, to be more accurate, it will be like a beacon on a freaking lighthouse. There is no safe harbor when you carry money on your walk by the yogurt shop.

  • If there are Caramel Rice Krispie squares in the kitchen at the office, avoid the kitchen at all cost.

  • If there is a birthday party at the office, do not attend. Stop by the desk of the birthday boy or girl after the party to share your birthday wishes. Birthday cake in a group is tough to avoid at the party. The icing laden pieces are handed out and it's tough to pass up when you're at the end of the cake line. If you decline, people notice you're not eating, which may be conveyed as either a judgment on what they're eating or a statement about what you're eating... or not eating in this case. To avoid the whole rigamarole, avoid the party. Today's party offerings:
It took all of me to take this photo and walk away. 
See what I do for you? 

Speaking of walks, I was on a walk with a friend last night and he said, "You seem happier. Think it's the sugar?"

I think it's the sugar.

Which just makes me mad.

Day 227: The anatomy of morning pages

I suppose I should discuss the morning pages once in awhile. It is, after all, the basis of this year long project.

For new readers, I'm doing The Artist's Way course by Julia Cameron for a year. The course itself is 12 weeks but I'm stretching it out to a year. To do this, I'm writing morning pages daily (3 pages in my journal) and taking myself on artist dates, which are solo expeditions to refuel my creative pool.

This is a break down of how my morning pages started in January 2010:

And here's how they are today:

If I were being scientific about this, I'd say there has been improvement.

The bitching and daydreaming has swapped places. When I once bitched about boys and work, I now daydream about releasing all my material possessions and traveling around the world.

The list making has decreased, which is a good thing because I have had a tendency in the past to overbook and over-errand my life.

The doodling is new and fun.

The miscellaneousing usually consists of book ideas, gift giving opportunities and, well, random stuff that isn't categorizable. (Wow, look at that. Two words I just made up inside of one paragraph: miscellaneousing and categorizable.)

Then there is the calculating. Always calculating my finances. What have I got in the bank, what will I have in the bank next month, in the next two months, at the end of the year and so on. Calculating the moolah calms me. Well, except for on rent day.

I wonder how the anatomy of my morning pages will change in December 2010. Traveling?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 226: Forgive them father...

Last night I went to a talk at the University of Santa Monica (USM) about forgiveness.

Learning and implementing the practice of forgiveness is like taking an escalator to spiritual growth. The higher we travel in our spiritual growth, the less we get triggered and the less fear we have in our lives. Those triggers and fears are replaced with feelings of love, compassion, joy and gratitude.

The format of the evening is Q&A. People ask questions about how they can forgive someone who did something wrong. Or the ask how they can be forgiven and forgive themselves for something terrible they themselves did wrong. Then Drs. Ron and Mary Hulnick help these people work through these issues with the soul-centered USM communication skill called Compassionate Self-Forgiveness.

As I sat there, I thought of situations in my own life where I could do some work with forgiveness.
  • I can forgive corporate America for vacation policies, which I have, in the past, lamented about ad nauseum. The truth is that offices do the best they can do to give people time off and be responsible stewards of the bottom line.
  • I can forgive myself for buying into the belief that I made mistakes that led me to where I am today. The truth is that I was a full participant in every aspect of my life and I made the best choices I could for myself under the circumstances. 
  • And a few other things that would "out" a few people reading this blog so I'll just leave it at that.
And that was just one day's worth of forgiveness work.

I biked home from USM feeling lighter and more calm, which is all I've been really craving lately.

Forgiveness is a big deal. It's the one thing that truly releases you from your hang ups, resentments and negative things in general. Well, forgiveness and grace. With forgiveness, you let yourself and others off the hook. With grace, it just sort of happens magically.

A few of my favorite quotes on forgiveness:
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. - Buddha
Always forgive your enemies — nothing annoys them so much. - Oscar Wilde,
Forgive them, father, for they know not what they do.'" Jesus (Luke 23:34)
Then I believe Michael Bernard Beckwith said something like, Forgive everyone the day before you die. Of course, no one knows the day they'll die. Read and use this other phenomenally powerful forgiveness prayer from Michael Bernard Beckwith. He also writes, in his book Spiritual Liberation that evolved people "Race to forgive."

USM does a workshop called Freedom to Choose at a woman's prison. Here is a clip of the documentary about this workshop where Dr. Ron Hulnick talks about forgiveness.

When I was a student at USM, I did a lot of work on forgiveness. I forgave my dad for not being the father I thought he should be. I forgave myself for not being the daughter I thought I should have been. I forgave my mother and sisters for this and that. And for my role in the this's and thats. I forgave my ex-boyfriends and forgave myself for the parts I played inside those relationships. I forgave my friends and myself.

USM creates a sacred space for us to forgive anyone and everyone. By the end, we let our family, friends, ourselves and even God off the hook.

Even God?

Even God.

And then?
"If you could clear out all that space in your mind, you'd have a doorway. And you know what the universe would do? Rush in. Everything else will take care of itself."
- Richard from Texas in Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
For me, the universe rushed in... for a brief time. And I've been trying to get back there ever since. Now I'm Gillian on my spiritual journey. I wish there were words to describe the feeling of having the universe rush in, but... from that place there are no words.

Race to forgive.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 225: Tea with Pete McCormack

Understanding Ken by Pete McCormack. Buy it. 

Usually, I have coffee with my favorite authors (books) but today I'm having tea because my throat is scratchy. Apropos since I don't think Pete McCormack drinks coffee. Or maybe he drinks coffee but doesn't drink something else. I don't know. He's always not drinking or eating something. I can't keep up.

I am the middle child of three girls. No boys. Just three girls. I have two brother-in-laws now and I pretty much scored as far as brother-in-laws go, but I didn't pick them. I just lucked out. If I had a chance to pick a brother, any dude in the whole wide world, it would be Pete McCormack.

He's a wise advisor. He knows everything. He is funny as all get out. I know he'd be there if I needed help in anyway. And I can take him anywhere and he won't be an embarrassment, which is more than I can say for some brothers out there.

We met through a mutual friend. She said "Hey, you're Canadian and an author. I know another Canadian who is also an author. Here's his book. Read it."

His book was Understanding Ken, which is a story of a young Pete who believes in three things: hockey, that his parents will get back together and more hockey. Reading it makes me snort. Really. I giggle and snort through this book because it's so funny and honest and true.

A tidbit that the Canadian audience will appreciate:
"We've got this sports competition where you try to win what's called an Award of Excellence. That's the best you can get. That's what I got last year. I'll get it this year, too. You have to broad jump and sprint and hang from a  bar and run a mile under a certain time. A whole bunch of stuff. Some people get a silver or a bronze. Why even change into your gym shorts for that?

One girl—I don't know what she eats but whatever it is she must eat a lot of it—she didn't even get a bronze! She got a participation pin. She wears it around, too, on her jacket. Wearing that participation pin is like walking around with a Fig Newton squished into the bum of your jeans. She did that once. All day."
The competition he's referring to was called Canada Fitness and every Canadian boy and girl had to do it.

Get this... I may have found the girl with the participation pin. She's got a blog and she wrote about Canada Fitness here.

Anyway, back to Pete. I emailed him a fan letter. He emailed me back. He lives in Vancouver, I live in LA. We met when we were both writing separate projects in Toronto for a few weeks. Now he's having a baby and I feel like I'm gonna be an auntie! So friggin' proud. Oh, he's got a blog, too.

I'm also proud of this little movie called Facing Ali that was shortlisted for the Academy Freakin' Awards last year!

Now available on Netflix, yo!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day 224: Artist Date: Eat Pray Love

You knew I had to go.

If you've been following along at all, you knew I had to see Eat Pray Love on opening weekend.

I'll just say this. I bawled in all the parts that were bawl-worthy and even some parts that weren't. If you go, don't wear eye makeup. You'll be a mess.

The international trailer:

"I am so sick of people telling me I need a man."
"You don't need a man, Liz. You need a champion."
So good.

After I collected myself, I walked home inspired to study Italian and I came across this little vocabulary list in my Italian language book:
Every word of Italian is a juicy morsel for the tongue. Even the vocabulary list is beautiful. "Poem to create my country." Isn't that was we're here for? To create our own country.

To find our way home.

Day 223: Meatstick moves! Tonight on NBC.

In the video below, you'll see thousands of good people in Georgia who have stood in line in 90 degree head to get their hands on an application for public housing.

The first thought I had was, "Isn't there a better way to get an application? Drop off a stack at the local library for heavensakes people. Or at the post office. Or at the grocery store. Or, if one is somewhat technically savvy, have a form available online." If you look at the video, people are handing them out one by one.
"99 applications on the wall, 99 applications. Take one down, pass it around, 98 applications on the wall."
There is a better way. And I'm aware that there are bigger issues here, like the current economic crisis,  poverty, desperation, starvation, depression. Yet I focus on how to hand out papers.

This would never happen at LAX. For all the flack people give LAX for long security lines, at least they get those thousands and thousands of people standing orderly in the right lines and get them on the planes every single day. And, they put the fear of God in you if you're not in the right line.

You got one paper to hand out in Georgia and this is how you do it? One by one? In a parking lot? What?

But, handing out papers inefficiently leads to crowds, which leads to coverage on NBC. Maybe it was brilliant move, to hand out a stack of papers one by one.

As my friend Bruce says when describing himself and his friends...


The paper-hander-outters in Georgia?


Friday, August 13, 2010

Day 222: Boredom is an emotion

I wouldn't say I'm an emotional eater.

When people lament about emotional eating, I zone out. Don't really understand.

Crying is more my thing when life isn't going my way. Like today in the kitchen at the office, when my boss asked, "How are you?" and I said, "Fine." Then the moment she left the kitchen I cried. Quick cry. Dry tears pronto, so as to not be found out. It's just that the pressure of deadlines is getting to me and when the pressure gets to be too much, it seeps out my eyeballs.

As you may have read in yesterday's post, I'm living in a sugar free zone for the next six weeks.

Today I noticed when I wanted sugar... late afternoon here at the ol' office. In my company, there are sugary treats at reception, in the kitchen, in Accounts, in Production. Everywhere except the Creative department where I sit. Thank God for that.

I've sequestered myself inside my office area and have avoided roaming.

But I was tempted late this afternoon. Not because I needed an energy pick-up. I'd already had tea. But because my brain is tired and it's close, but not close enough, to the end of the day.

And even though I have a pile of folders to work my way through, I'm bored.
Overwhelmed and bored. A deadly combination. 

Bored out of my gourd.

When I was a kid, saying I was bored was followed by, "I'll give you something to do" by my dad, who would immediately put me to work. Our house was super high maintenance so there was always something to sweep, pile, wash, trim or organize. Saying you were bored had big consequences.

My pits are a little sweaty just typing to you that I'm bored. Afraid you'll put me to work.

I'm so very bored.

Bored of the work and of the grind and of my life here in the most perfect California in the most fortunate US of A.

Bored out of my mind bored.

So, in order to avoid these thoughts, I normally go on a chocolate hunt around the office. I don't have to look far. It's everywhere. Just an hour ago an email went out alerting the office that there is fruit and ice cream in the kitchen. I could have went for the fruit but I know myself. I'd a tossed a dollop of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough on top.

Maybe I should have an office romance just to keep it interesting. Run off to some cubicle for smooches in order to avoid the candy jar at reception.

Nah. Relief from boredom is not exactly a stellar reason to start up a steamy romance.

Dear reader, pah-lease do not give me a list of ideas on ways to not be bored. I'll reply weakly, "Ya, good idea. Thanks."And please don't offer to hang out and cheer me up because today, that feels like just another thing to do. I don't want you to feel like another thing to do.

Now I'm at the place where I'm just letting boredom take over. Seep into my pores. It doesn't seem to want to leave so it might as well get done what it came to do. Ravage me. Take me. Do what you will to me. I've got no fight left. Boredom, become me.

But don't tell my dad.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Day 221: This is now a sugar free zone

If you've been following along, I've been a bit off these last few weeks. Some would say I'm moody. Others would say it's burn out. My therapist would say it's depression.

Whatever it is, it may have something to do with sugar. I've had a lot of events to attend that include sugary treats. I've been lapping them up, then walking through life all askew and wondering why. (Much like the dog at the 2:07 mark in the video below.)

A JELLO treat from the brunch I attended Sunday:
Then there were the chocolates from a bridal shower:
 Jin Patisserie on Abbott Kinney in Venice, CA.

Followed by the ice cream from movie night. Not to mention the pie from the graduation dinner. Oh, and the slushies served at the company office meeting.

Seems there is always an event in which to participate in sugar consumption. This can't be good for the mood or the waistline so I'm kaiboshing the sweets pronto for the next six weeks. Just inside writing this post, I was offered ice cream. Oh my. How will I do this?

Day 220: Living beneath ones means

In my quest to pare down, use up and donate all my stuff, I came across this article, Living Frugal: But Will It Make You Happy.

In the article, we read of Tammy Strobel and her husband, Logan Smith, who whittle down their two-bedroom apartment, two cars and house full of stuff down to a 400-square foot studio with a kitchen, four plates, three pairs of shoes and two pots and a few other personal items. They say they are happier and they are delightfully debt-free.

These are my people.

Tammy Strobel and her husband, Logan Smith, in their pared-down, 
400-square-foot apartment in Portland, Ore. (Leah Nash for The New York Times)

In recent times, Santa Monica reopened the mall. It was a giant overhaul and now it sports a slew of fancy schmancy shops. People in the community are frothing at the mouth to spend their coinage at the mall. They don't care about the 40 minute wait for parking or the 100-person deep lineup. They want to buy stuff at the new mall because it's new.


Then they moan to their friends about how they need more cash and how stressed they are about the credit card debt that doesn't seem to go down. Or how they hate their jobs but can't leave because they live paycheck to paycheck.

It's like when we eat lots of donuts and wonder why we can't lose a pound. Must be a slow metabolism.

Yeah... that must be it.

Now that I'm considering the possibility of moving on from my apartment, which is my biggest monthly expense by far, I look around it and get panicked. There is so much stuff. And I'm not even a shopper. I can't stand shopping. Ask my sisters. When we go shopping, I'm sitting on the park benches outside the stores with the old men whose wives are shopping inside with my sisters. I'm not a person who likes to collect a lot. But, what am I to do with the toaster, the flower pots, the binders of papers, the books, socks, towels and sheets? Or the crock pot and winter coats and bikinis? Or about the other 1,000 or so items in my place?

It's all a bit much.

And you  know why I have all that stuff? Because I thought it would make me happy. It just makes me have to work longer to afford my space and all the stuff in that space, which makes me miserable.

Mrs Strobel agrees. “The idea that you need to go bigger to be happy is false,” she says. “I really believe that the acquisition of material goods doesn’t bring about happiness.”

You got that right sister.

The article also sites that studies show that spending money on experiences rather than things produces longer-lasting satisfaction. Basically, bring on the European vacation and forgo the new curtains. 

Now I'm not saying that stuff doesn't matter. Last night I quite enjoyed laying on my couch with my fresh-cut flowers nearby, flipping through a magazine. I had candles flickering, the fireplace crackling. Life was lovely last night because of the stuff I surround myself with.

(Unrelated: Don't like ending sentences with "with." Ack! I did it again.)

Still, I think I can pare down all my stuff. Deconstruct my little apartment layer by layer until I get it down to one suitcase.
Dun Laoghaire train station, Dublin, 2009.
I was on my way to Paris.
This was a good day.

I leave you with a little inspiration from the über awesome Eddie Vedder in his song Society.
"When you want more than you have
You think you need...
And when you think more than you want
Your thoughts begin to bleed
I think I need to find a bigger place
Because when you have more than you think
You need more space"
Hell, let's just go for the whole enchilada. This is great coffee break video from YouTube's boardergirl20.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Day 219: Finding my own garden

While I was hanging around the house on Sunday, I started sorting through my mess of magazine clippings:
These were all magazine articles and random scraps of paper I collected to use in some capacity "in the future."

Since the future is a fantasy and the past is a memory, I decided that if I don't use it presently, I'm tossing it in the recycle bin. Most of the clippings were recipes, which is hilarious on so many levels. Tossed!

There were also bits of wisdom that I must have cut out back then knowing somehow that I might need it later.
Remember to breathe. 
Go on. Take a breath. I'll wait.


That was nice. A collective sigh from around the globe right here in my wee blog.

Another pretty clipping:

Yet another gem: 
From a magazine article about Nelson Mandel's book Mandela's Way. 

Nelson Mandela, in his book Mandela's Way, writes how he kept a vegetable garden in the prison where he was held during the South African anti-apartheid movement. He supplemented his diet and that of his fellow inmates with fresh vegetables, and in doing so, cultivated a plot of peace for himself.

We all must find our own garden.

I think that's what I was doing when I was clipping all these magazine articles. Deciding where I wanted to be and what I wanted my life to look like. Seeds of ideas for paintings, for books to read and write, for articles and blog posts... they were all there in that pile of magazine clippings.

It gave me a better idea of how to find my own garden... or at least cultivate the one I already have. 

All this garden talk reminds me of one of my favorite friends in the world, Pete McCormack, who once told me, "Let the seeds of love fall where they may. Let God take care of the rest."


Day 218: Boobies!

Check out what a reader sent me in the mail:

This t-shirt is from Joy Apparel
Also notice my rockin' vegan bod.

On the tag, it reads:
"Every face on a Joy T-shirt has been inspired by a real person. When you wear your shirt you are encouraged to think about that person and how your everyday actions can affect others and the world we live in. After you purchase a shirt, you may then upload a photo of your own visage via the website to have your face drawn by hand and worn on the hearts of others."
Worn on the hearts of others... ummm... yeah. More like worn on my boobie. Oh I suppose I should say something more feminist in nature. As long as I don't say tits.

She just went ahead and wrote that? 

Afraid so.

Oh my.

So I zipped around town wearing my Joy T-shirt and didn't really think about the person on my shirt but I really enjoyed people looking at my heart. Then they'd say, "Who the hell is that guy?"


The guy on my left breast was Sajid Hussain from Karachi, Pakistan. His passion is "to promote peace, unity and brotherhood in the world."

Fair enough. This got me thinking about t-shirts and designs and why anyone would want to have their face on someone else's bazoombas. If you're feeling crafty, here's a little something to decorate your jugs:
You're welcome.

Day 217: New painting OR Where the HELL have I BEEN!?!?!?

In short, I've been sleeping and painting and walking and contemplating and, I'll admit, crying a bit, too.

Now, before you start getting all weepy about my weeping, let me assure you that I'm fine. FINE.

It's just that sometimes depression hops on my shoulders, hangs out too long and the weight of it is too much to bear.

But fear not. There is a light at the end of this dark tunnel.

During all my brooding, I finished a painting!

Here we have a little bit of light, a little bit of dark, a smidge of radiant energy and a whole lot of lovely.

Notice my coffee mug and kitchen in the background. The perfect backdrop of this perfect painting.

As an artist, you really need to be a fan of your own work. I dig this painting so much that I don't even care if you do. Really. Sure, it would be nice to get compliments. I'm a fan of compliments. (And might I say, dear reader, that you are looking ravishing this evening.) But even if you think "This girl has LOST it. What the hell is that? Is that suppose to be a chandelier? I don't get it," it's all good. I'm gonna keep on rolling. Why? Because when I look at this painting it makes me smile.

And if you want it to make you smile, too, buy it here.

Then I'll REALLY smile.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Day 216: Creepy author photos REVEALED

Today was a breaking point. No reason. Just over it.

So, I went to the Chevron station to see Jason. He's my Chevron guy. Cheers me up.

Then I went to Whole Foods to see Jordan. He's my cashier guy. Cheers me up.

Then I went to Barnes & Noble to prominently display my books, The Breakup Repair Kit and The Dating Repair Kit (you should, too). Cheers me up.

None of it really cheered me up. I tried.

So, I was wandering aimlessly around the bookstore. Completely spent and burned out from my day job. It's getting worse. I feel myself precariously perched on the line of energy that links "I am grateful for all I have" and "I'm so over this." 

I noticed that the self-help section is shrinking but the spirituality section is expanding. That's gotta be a good thing. I also noticed that the biography section is busting at the seams with famous people shoving their life stories at us. Look at me! Look at me! Look at me! Then again, I write a blog. Inherently me me me.

At least I don't look like an alien dressing up as a human like these ladies:
Click on this image of Beth Moore for a closer look... if you dare.

So long, insecurity. 
Hello nightmares.

Yikes Laura Bush.
What's with the yellow skin?
She looks like a vampire nanna. 

Oh Laura, you are an attractive lady
and I know you're doing God's work 
being married to George W., but yikes.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Day 215: Hanging with Kris Kristofferson

I'm still cleaning out my apartment. Little by little. In my great quest to get my worldly possessions down to one suitcase.

I've let go of meaningful items, like my books and one of my guitars. I'm being ruthless. I know, without knowing where I'm going, that I don't need this stuff when I get there.

But one item stops me in my tracks every time.

My Kris Kristofferson album.

I don't even own a record player so I can't even play this record, but I can't bring myself to get rid of it either.

This record was pilfered from my parents record collection. When I was a kid, I would gawk at this album cover and stare into his steely blue eyes. Kris Kristofferson was a real artist. A phenomenal musician and pretty good actor. Just look at his page on IMDB. Back then, he was in a slew of films, made his way onto Christmas specials on the NBC (the only station that came in clear in my house in backwoods Canada), plus he was played on rotation on BX93, the local country radio station.

When I looked at Kris, I thought, "This guy is so good at everything he does. I want to be so good at everything I do." Hence, my perfectionista persona was born.

Now behold the sexiest music video ever. These two clearly dig each other.

Hey there, Kris, with your blue eyes and oozing sex appeal. I'll help you make it through the night.

Janice + Kris
Together forever.

I'm keeping the album.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day 214: The sacredness of being alone and lonely

"I restore myself when I'm alone."
     -- Marilyn Monroe 

Me, too.

And this girl has a neat perspective of lonely:

My favorite quotes from the video:

"Lonely is a freedom that breaths easy and weightless."
"Lonely is healing if you make it."
"Hanging with my breath seeking peace and salvation."
"Take silence and respect it. If you have an art that has a practice, stop neglecting it."
That's it. Tonight, I'm getting out my guitar. Gonna hang with self and rock my own world.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 213: This is my first drunken post

I'm half in the bag.

This is my first drunken post.

I've been watching Travel Channel shows. They arrived in the mail from Netflix. That's right people. I used my mail-ins to watch travel shows.

Gawd I love Netflix. And I love travel shows. And I love libations. 

While I'm watching my travel shows that arrived via Netflix, I'm sucking back Limoncello of Sorrento from my beloved Italy.

It's empty. (Burp)

Already this post has been corrected over and over for typos. Geezus this Limoncello of Sorrento is STRONG. Or I'm a lightweight. Or both.

I hope I don't pass out before clicking "Publish Post."

In May, I was in Sorrento... home to the lovely limoncello I'm currently consuming. I was nauseated from the bus ride up the coast. On that bus ride at 7 a.m., we went by Enrico's fruit market. He was outside wheeling and dealing with a farmer who drove up in a blue truck with a load of yellow lemon. I'm not kidding. My little Postitano "boyfriend" was a big wig fruit distributor of the Amalfi Coast. Some girls get Vespas. Others get Chanel. I got fruit.

If you read the post, Enrico was my nearly-love-affair in Postitano, Italy. He wooed me with platters of cherries and watched me eating them as if I were a porn star. He also let me in on the whole mafia thing, which is an exceptional moment for any tourist. There is nothing like the moment when you say to your Italian love interest:

"Why do they call you the Fruit Mafia King?"

And he stops laughing, stares right into your eyes, grabs your arms a bit too forcefully and says very seriously in very slow, very articulate English, "Mafia are good people. They take care of their family. You come back in September. I take care of you. You don't have to do anything, but you have to be my woman."

How do you say in Italian, "Yeah... ummm... you know... I've got this corporate job back in Los Angeles and we only get two weeks vacation... gotta accrue those hours... ummmm... and I take a week to visit my family in Canada over Christmas... sooooo, I don't know if another trip to Postitano is exactly in the cards, especially the coast... have you been on that bus? I nearly upchucked my salami sandwich. Plus, ummm... if I were coming back to Italy, I'm more of a Rome-type girl."

In all honesty, I smiled at him, thanked him bashfully for the cherries, then laughingly grabbed my travel companion Aine by the arm, dragged her to the bathroom, pinned her against the wall and said very seriously in very slow, very articulate English, "Are you aware that we are hanging out with the Italian fucking Mafia?!"

So that was Positano.

Where was I? Oh ya. Sorrento.

I'm all over the place. 

Anyway, I rented these Travel Channel shows because I miss Italy. Have you ever been to a place and missed it as if it was your home? I miss my family in Canada, but I miss a home in a place I've never lived.

Has this ever happened to you? Please advise. And while you're advising, I'm going to scrounge around the kitchen. I think I saw some prosecco in there somewhere. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Day 212: Coffee with Ian Graham

Unbillable Hours by Ian Graham. So worth it.

At times, when I title my posts Coffee with Charles Bukowski, Coffee with Hugh MacLeod, Coffee with Sabrina Ward Harrison or Coffee with Julia Cameron, I'm actually having coffee with their books.

But in this post, I'm kinda sorta somewhat having coffee with Ian Graham, author of Unbillable Hours.

Kinda sorta somewhat?

Let me explain. Ian and I go to the same coffee shop.

That is definitely not the same as having coffee with someone. 

You're right. To be more accurate, we have spoken in line at the coffee shop before we got our coffees, while waiting for our coffees and at the milk bar adding milk and sugar to our coffees.

But you've never actually had coffee with him. 

No. I have not.

Doesn't count.

What are you? Judge and jury?

Ahhhh, that brings me back to the reason for this post.

I've been observing Ian Graham for a few years now. I've watched him come and go. I've wondered about him. And I've even prayed for him.

That's friggin' creepy.

Yeah. A bit. I noticed him at first because I liked his car. He'd often pull into the parking lot as I pulled out. It was an Audi and I was considering buying an Audi with my new plush paychecks from my new Associate Creative Director job at a highfalutin advertising agency. Then I noticed him because we happened to be in line at the coffee shop for a bunch of days in a row. He was friendly but quiet. So was I. You can't judge anyone before they have a few sips of coffee. We're all a bit groggy.

Then something weird happened. I started seeing him everywhere. I'd see him in the park, in restaurants, on the street, at the farmer's market. Almost daily. If I was crossing the street, it was his car at the stop sign. If I was grabbing a beer at a pub, he had just grabbed his.

I think it was a bit odd for both of us.

And that was when we acknowledged seeing each other. I saw him out of the corner of my eye many more times than that. We didn't actually talk to each other beyond the odd word, wave or smile and we certainly didn't bring up the weirdness of seeing each other all over the place. I was, and still am, too shy for all that. I was willing to know him, but you know how it is. We both, it seemed, always had somewhere else to be. 

This odd quiet weaving in and out of each others daily lives was like being haunted—but by someone who isn't dead. Or it's like being in on a cosmic joke but the cosmos won't let you in on the punchline. Seeing Ian happened enough for me to ask God about it in the silence of my meditations. "Just send good vibes his way" was the answer I got. So, I'd send good vibes his way and leave it at that. Then I'd see him later and wonder why all over again.

After awhile I saw him change. His cars got fancier but he seemed sadder. As if his life force was slowly depleting. He looked tired and spent. This guy appeared to be my age. He shouldn't be so old. On the rare occasion when I could not help but say something to him because we would almost literally bump into each other, I'd stammer out a "Where are you off to?"

"Work" was his most popular answer.

Until two days ago.

I, nearly literally, bumped into him at the coffee shop again. This time I stopped and talked before my shyness took hold. I asked him what he'd been up to and he told me he'd just been on a book tour.

(This is the moment when the record player screeches and stops.)

Turns out, all those days of depletion were from his attorney days at Latham & Watkins, a very fancy law firm in downtown LA. He found himself with a grueling schedule and on a murder case. Turns out... well, I won't tell you how it turns out. He wrote it all down and now it's a book. Get the book.

After I read the first chapter, that was it. I accepted that I had to switch around my schedule to read the rest of the book. It was that good. I also learned why I got "Just send good vibes his way" because he sure as shit needed it.

Love it when you swear.

Plus, I learned how parallel our lives were during all this time of running into each other.

When he was overworked, I was overworked.

When he spent countless hours in traffic, I spent countless hours in traffic.

When he couldn't keep a relationship because of his grueling schedule, neither could I.

When he saw his life disappearing due to his job, I saw the same in mine.

When he bought expensive toys to compensate, so did I.

When he left his corporate America job to write a book, I... well you'll have to stay tuned for that one. Wink. My coworkers read this blog.

Do yourself a solid and read Unbillable Hours by Ian Graham. The gist of the book from Amazon:
"Landing a job at a prestigious L.A. law firm, complete with a six figure income, signaled the beginning of the good life for Ian Graham. But the harsh reality of life as an associate quickly became evident. The work was grueling and boring, the days were impossibly long, and Graham’s main goal was to rack up billable hours. But when he took an unpaid pro bono case to escape the drudgery, Graham found the meaning in his work that he’d been looking for. As he worked to free Mario Rocha, a gifted young Latino who had been wrongly convicted at 16 and sentenced to life without parole, the shocking contrast between the quest for money and power and Mario’s desperate struggle for freedom led Graham to look long and hard at his future as a corporate lawyer."
Now when I see Ian around town, I won't wonder. And it's unlikely that we'll ever sit down and have a coffee as this post title suggests. But I think I'll still send him good vibes. I've been doing it so long it's become a habit.

A good habit?


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