Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 329: A Canadian American Thanksgiving

Mr. Devrient, my History teacher in high school, once advised me to travel my own country before travelling others.

I didn't listen, which probably makes me a bad Canadian.

I spent all my free time in Ontario (where I'm from) trying to get a job in California. Then when I moved to California, I spent all my free time heading back to Ontario for weddings, baptisms, holidays and the like.

But this past weekend, I finally made it to Vancouver. I went to visit my friend, the great and wonderful documentary film maker, Pete McCormack, who I gush about here, and his super talented partner in crime Sam, who created a company called Echo Memoirs, which "transforms memories and photographs into stunning coffee-table books that leave a meaningful legacy for generations to come." They create seriously beautiful books, which make for better heirlooms than Aunt Bessies old spoon collection. Hint: They make a great gift.

Sam is so peaceful and lovely that she looks like she's meditating even when she's just looking at a menu.
See what I mean.

I also met one of my new favorite people, and by new I mean he's fresh out of the oven. A mere 3 months old:
His name is Booker and he's telling me funny jokes. 

They had an American Thanksgiving dinner party, which Pete writes about here. I was the token American, which is funny because I'm Canadian, but I think because I live in LA, that was enough of an excuse to make cranberries, stuffing and yams. 

We talked into the night about what we are grateful for and how we plan on using our talents to better our lives and our worlds. To describe this vastly talented group of people is beyond my skill set. But I can say that they are the living embodiment of these two quotes: 
"Be faithful to that which exists within yourself." -- Andre Gide
"God calls us to the place where our deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." -- Frederick Buechner
This group of people are really living their dreams, or at least are well on their way to figuring out a how to live happier lives. If they aren't living harmoniously off the grid, they are signing robust book contracts or teaching at universities about being ecological kind. And they do it with glee and optimism.

The rest of the weekend was spent talking, walking, eating and napping. I've had a lot of mulling going on in my noggin' and it was nice to bounce my ideas off my two insightful advisors while I bounced the third on my knee. 

I came away from the weekend with clarity, direction and a bit of a Buddha belly.

I didn't see much of Vancouver though. We were busy chatting. On the way to the airport they gave me a quick scenic tour of the city.

Sorry Mr. Devrient. Maybe next time.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 328: Celebrity look alikes

Juliette Binoche

Your favorite bloggess

I can see it.

Who is your celebrity look alike, dear reader?


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 327: On nearly being smooshed to smithereens on the freeway

St. Christopher is the patron saint of travel.

Remember yesterday when I wrote about death being one less headache? And that Lorenzo Lamas made life worth living?

Well, you know what else makes life worth living? Not being smooshed to smithereens on the freeway. Because last night, I nearly got smooshed to smithereens on the freeway.

My car died going up the mountain during an extremely rushed rush hour on the freeway. It was dark. I pulled over to the shoulder BUT THERE WAS NO SHOULDER because there was construction. There was a temporary cement wall where the shoulder should have been. I was stuck in a lane. Cars were whizzing by, going around as best they could and scaring the bageezus out of me.

I picked up the phone and dialed 911. This was, in fact, an emergency situation. If my car died on a side street, I wouldn't be calling 911. But I was on the super speedy 405 freeway just after a bend in the road. It was more than just problematic. It was actually life threatening. So I called 911 and didn't get a busy signal. That was the first sign that an angel was on the job. Then more angels appeared...

The first angel was one of the construction guys who ran over and told me to get out of the car on the passenger side and climb over the wall because it was safer than being a sitting duck in traffic. Normally you stay in the car because it's safer, but in this case, it wasn't safer. He helped me over the wall and stayed with me until the second angel arrived...

A policeman came and stopped all traffic on the freeway to help out the third angel who arrived at the same time...

The AAA guy, my highway hero, quickly hauled my car up on his flatbed and helped me back over the cement wall. Then we drove off with nary a scratch to meet up with my fourth angel...

My friend who said I could borrow his extra car for the next few days while mine was in the shop.

Then my other friend, the fifth angel, sent me to his super great mechanic who is fair and good.

Angels rock.

Thinking back to that moment on the freeway, I can't remember being more scared then I was in those few minutes. And inside those few minutes, I was met with a congregation of angels.

Honestly... I could have died. 

And I'm not even being overly dramatic. 

To have died coming home from work?!?!? That would have been tragic. I mean, dying itself is tragic but dying coming home from Office Town is extra tragic. Exponentially tragic. 

Upon reflection, I think it was God telling me to take care of the business I'd been putting off. I had meant to take my car in and had delayed the task for one reason or another. Now it's sitting in the shop being souped up for the next leg of my journey. Speaking of...

I've also been meaning to take care of a few other big things, which you'll read all about soon enough. Stay tuned.

The message was clear: Take care of it sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, just to be safe, I'm wearing both my St. Christopher's medals.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 325: Death and the sexiest men alive


"Death is one less fucking headache if you ask me."

A writer friend of mine sent me a few samples of his work. He's a cheery guy when I talk to him so it's a bit of a disconnect to read his raw, angry writing. The above quote was taken from one of his stories. I didn't add his name because I suspect he'd have to deal with a lot of raised eyebrows and questions.

When I read the quote posted above I paused and thought... been there.

Who hasn't been there? Where it would just be easier to be done with it all.

I'm not saying I'm suicidal, but there are times when I, too, have thought that death would be one less fucking headache. The thing is, I've thought these thoughts at random not-so-dramatic times. I've thought it:
  • In a quiet moments while I'm waiting to get my oil changed and the sun is too bright.
  • When I'm in line to get a coffee and the person ahead of me orders beans, which always takes longer. 
  • When I wake up and think it's Thursday but it's only Tuesday. 
  • In the last hour before the plane lands. But because I'm on a plane, I push the thought away because that's no way to go.
  • When I'm packing and feeling indecisive.
  • Waiting for the waitress. 
  • At Target.
  • In the Whole Foods parking lot. There are a lot of angry yogis out there. 
This list makes it sound like I think this thought all the time. I don't. In fact, when I do think this thought, it usually comes out of left field because I'm not actually in a bad mood, not depressed and not even unhappy. Perhaps I'm a bit impatient.

Perhaps?

Okay, probably more than just a little impatient.

But then there are the small random moments that make life worth living. Like today, for instance. I was eating lunch with my coworkers. People's Sexiest Man Alive magazine issue just came out, which probably made sexy men the topic of discussion. (BTW, this year Ryan Reynolds is the sexiest man alive. I didn't see that coming, but that's only because he's Canadian and us Canadians never see that coming.)

The web guy stopped eating his spicy thai dish, looked up and said, "You know who is a handsome man? Lorenzo Lamas."

Hi there Lorenzo Lamas you hottie, you.

Where did that come from? When did Lorenzo Lamas become top of mind? The randomness made me feel joy at the cellular level. Lorenzo Lamas is in fact a handsome man, but the randomness of this statement has kept me giggling for hours.

It's a small thing, and I never thought I'd say it, but Lorenzo Lamas sure makes life worth living.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 324: The T in Jack Canfield

When people meet my friend and co-author Marni, they think she's alright. She's fine. She's a nice enough girl. Cute. Friendly. Fine.

What they don't know is that when she's alone with me, she's a freaking genius. The way her mind works is astounding. She floors me. And sometimes she has me rolling on it because I'm laughing so hard.

Think about it, I wouldn't have co-authored two books with just anyone. You have to be pretty amazing for me to want to write not just one but two books with you.

But you don't see her pure genius because when she's out with our peeps, she keeps it under wraps.

Until now.

Just like in Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, I captured some rare footage of Marni being amazing in her natural habitat:




Day 323: How to support your favorite author after buying her books

My first born book was endorsed by Iyanla Vanzant, her unofficial Godmother.

By now, you either:

a) know I co-authored a book called The Breakup Repair Kit
b) know I co-authored a book called The Dating Repair Kit
c) purchased one book
d) purchased both books
e) all of the above

If you've chosen "e" then I thank you very much. Email me your address and I'll send you something pretty. Did you know that there is one more thing you can do to help out your favorite author and bloggess (that's me)?

I bring you option f)





Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 322: The best hair barrette ever


This hair barrette was given to me by my friend Roxanne 15 years ago. She bought it at the One Of A Kind Show in Toronto. If you click on the image, you'll see that there are little kitties engraved on it. Cute.

She probably doesn't even remember this barrette. And she has no clue that I've had this hair barrette in my hair four days a week since the day she gave it to me. I'm constantly scrounging around for this simplest of hair accessories. It may not look like much to you but it is the most perfect accessory to me. It lays flat, the clip works well, I can hide it under my bun, and if I show it off, it matches everything. It's perfect.

And best of all, it reminds me of Roxanne. We don't talk so much these days but I know she reads this blog. And now she knows I think of her every time I put my hair up, which is most of the time.

This barrette has been through every advertising agency with me. It's been witness to many hairy moments, like when I wanted to pull it out over frustrations with "the process," inept account people and impossible client comments. Like today.

At the beginning of my career, when a project wasn't going my way, I'd take my hair out of my barrette, scratch my head, rub my eyes and take a few breaths. Then I'd pick up the barrette and proceed to put myself back together again, starting with my hair.

Not much as changed. Except that when I was younger, after the redo of the hairdo, I would stomp around and go to the Creative Director to demand retribution. I'd cry. Now, my eyes are a bit tired, my skin is a bit thicker and my spirit is a bit drained. These days, I put my hair back up and take the "water off a duck's back" approach. Though I still cry sometimes. Like today.

And all through that I've held it together with my hair barrette. And with the knowledge of the girl who gave it to me all those years ago. Roxanne and I have known each other since kindergarten. When I pull out the barrette, I am reminded that she is alive and well and living through her joys and frustrations, too. She's trying to hold it all together in her way just as I am in my way.

Though I have some extra help. I have the barrette.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 321: It's a fine dread

 Another fine lunch in Office Town.

Another morose little poem by your cheery bloggess. I'm not so much of a rhyming kind of girl but this is what came out one night when I was arrived at a bar early to wait for friends and was hanging with my beer and morning pages. Maybe it was the beer talking.

It's a fine dread

The alarm clock startles me awake
How many snooze buttons does it take?
I'm getting out of bed
But it's a fine dread

The coffee line is way too long
But I need to take my fix along
I sip in traffic to calm my head
But it's a fine dread

One day I'll walk the road
And lighten this heavy load
Right now it's all in my head
But it's a fine dread


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 320: The art of the silent treatment

Silence somewhere between the casino and a gas station. 
Palm Springs, California

I'm currently involved in a silent treatment. There was a fight. It happened fast, like the other day when I turned a corner and a gust of wind whipped at me with such force that I lost my breath and felt slapped in the face.

I left hurt. He left hurt. And now, we sit among our friends at the coffee shop. I observe that he's well-versed at the silent treatment. Conversing casually with everyone else, not rousing suspicion that he is deliberately not talking to me. I stare at him astounded that we are here.

How did we get here?

The content of the fight is largely blocked from memory. That's what happens with me. Trauma begets amnesia, which makes it rather difficult to work things through once the dust has settled. I recall that there was his frustration at me not opening up and my frustration at feeling pressured. I probably shouldn't have mentioned the part about me not being emotionally slutty, which probably implied that he was.

And the truth is that I did imply it.

Not my most stellar moment.

My sister told me once that if she were to give me a silent treatment, she'd call me up right away and we'd talk about it until the silent treatment was over. In that vein, I reached out with a quick little text. A shy move, I realize. But I'm scared he'll yell again and if that happens, I will react in one of two ways:
1. My inner mother will remove me from the situation. This is what happened the other day when I hung up on him.

2. My inner mountain lion will reveal herself, reveal her sharp teeth and claws and pounce with the intent to kill. She's fierce, powerful and cold-blooded.
My text was met with more silence.

So now I sit with the silence, searching for the gift. I send him love. I forgive him. I forgive me. I let us both off the hook. I catch up on Netflix. I make soup because chopping vegetables helps. And I remind myself that people do what they do based on who they are with the information they have at the time.

I honor that there is a part of him that hurts and sit with the part of me that hurts. I reach for the celery.

I have also come to the conclusion that he and I may be in the winter of our friendship. That we are divine beings currently engaged in the human experience of ending something. That we will gain skills from this that we can use later. And then we'll be grateful for the training. That this is an opportunity for growth, as all situations like this seem to be.

This silent treatment could be his soul opening an exit door for me and it could be my time to walk through.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 319: My favorite mistakes

Malibu, California @ Cross Creek

I took this photo on my way back from a party in Malibu on the weekend. How great is the moment when something beyond yourself happens and a perfect artistic opportunity presents itself. I also love that this Shell station is in Malibu, considered by many to be the paradise of the California coast.

I spent much of the weekend pondering and mixing metaphors, as you'll see in this little poem I wrote:


Mistakes
 
I've been pondering a lot lately.
Not able to put into words
Exactly what I'm pondering.
Plans, I guess.
The next steps.
What to do with my life.
What to quit
And what to begin.

All this pondering
Can make a girl weary
And bleary
And teary

All this pondering
Can turn into decisions
That turn into mistakes
And the prospect of mistakes
Leads to more pondering

I must remind myself
That had I not made the mistake
Of falling for what turned out to be
My first mistake
I would not have arrived in this moment
Where I have the luxury
To ponder a few costly future errors of my way
Before I crash into them.
Full throttle.

I suppose I would have had other experiences
On a flatter plain
Had I not made my first mistake
But I can't begin to believe
To conceive
That those were better
Than what I got

So I sit with all this
And ponder longer
I deal out my future mistakes
Like a game of solitaire
Do I play this card
Or this card?

All this time knowing
That I can put the cards away
And stay perfectly still
Stay safe and small
And that would be perfectly fine
But that wouldn't make me less weary
And bleary
And teary

It's an interesting vantage point
To see a handful of mistakes before me
And to see how they could easily converge
Into a giant 52-card pickup clusterfuck.

But to be faced with not making those mistakes?
By not playing those cards?
By not making a risky move or two?
That seems like a perfect trifecta
of preposterous, ludicrous and ridiculous
And that's no way to live.

I must remember
When I get scared
Like the squirrel
Who runs three quarters of the way
Then scurries back
That mistakes are beautiful
Mistakes are part of the fun


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day 314: Top 10 Hair Band Ballads

Clearly, I'm going through a weird phase. Maybe it's because my friend Joe transitioned out of this place and into something more ethereal. Maybe it's because the ides of November have turned gloomy. Maybe it's because it's Thursday.

But I am listening to the greatest hair band ballads of all time. We're talking drama. Songs that are all about how life is soooo over after we breakup. How it's soooo amazing after we fall in love. How it's sooooo much better with an epic guitar solo and a giant hairdo.

It's very juicy stuff.

And they all seemed so into their craft, not realizing that the songs were so over the top that they bordered on ridiculous. Which makes Spinal Tap still the best movie ever. 

So now, I give you my Top 10 Hair Band Ballads. You're welcome.
  1. Wind of change, Scorpions
  2. When I see you smile, Bad English
  3. Don't know what you've got 'til it's gone, Cinderella
  4. High enough, Damn Yankees
  5. To be with you, Mr. Big
  6. Something to believe in, Poison
  7. Is this love, Whitesnake
  8. Heaven in your eyes, Loverboy (for the Canadian contingent)
  9. I saw red, Warrant
  10. November rain, Guns N' Roses
Guns N Roses even had the balls to come out with a video that is 9.08 minutes long. Amazing!



Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 312: My dear friend Joe Potter

You can be moving right along, eating ice cream, singing songs and making sweet love to your man.

Then your friend Joe Potter moves on in a permanent way. And you wonder why. And how. And why again.

Joe graduated with me when we got our Master's degrees at the University of Santa Monica (USM). He was the kind of guy that smiled with his whole face. He was an intense hugger. He listened with a focus that made me feel heard. And his default was love.

He moved on from this world on his own accord the other day. Since then, I've found myself listening to people but only hearing Joe Joe Joe Joe Joe. People have asked how I am and the first thing I want to say is Joe Joe Joe Joe Joe. And as I walk around town, I rest on more steps along the way to wait for the Joe Joe Joe Joe Joe drum roll to subside.

This is one of those moments in life when time takes over. When we must rely on time to do what it will because we can't figure it out on our own in the moment. That said, all the Whys and What Fors are inane questions that can never really be answered now or ever anyway. But at least with time, we'll stop asking so often.

See you again someday, Joe. 


Courtesy of the generous Dror Amir.

Details of his memorial service, courtesy of USM:

A Memorial Service will be held at the University at 2101 Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica on Thursday, November 11 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. All are welcome to come together in Loving and in celebration of Joe's life. Parking is available at the Union Bank Parking Garage (2001 Wilshire Blvd.) beginning at 6:15 p.m. for $3.

A fund in Joe's memory has been established at USM. All donations made to this fund will go towards the Tuition Assistance Loan Program, with the vision of collecting a minimum $5,000, which will provide for a heart in Joe's name on the USM Lobby Donor wall. Graduates, students, or friends of USM who would like to make a donation to this fund can send it to the University of Santa Monica, Attn: Joe Potter Memorial Fund.

For more information, please contact:
University of Santa Monica | 2107 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90403
(310) 829-7402 | www.UniversityofSantaMonica.edu


Day 311: Top 8 to 11 reasons to write morning pages

Since this entire blog is based in the experience of writing morning pages everyday for an entire year, I figure I should actually talk about that experience once in awhile.

For newbies to my blog, morning pages are one of the two basic tools introduced by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. The second is a weekly artist date, where you head out in the world to gain experiences that fill your creative pool.

My most recent artist date was a trip to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) where they had fancy art exhibits and my favorite, free potato kabobs!
I love me a good potato kabob.

Did the kabob inspire me? Not really. But it sure tasted great.

Back to the morning pages. I found this article by Laura Biering that listed these as 11 good reasons for writing morning pages:
  1. To achieve healthy, constructive expression of emotions;
  2. To attain greater clarity of thought and ease with prioritization;
  3. To augment brainstorming abilities;
  4. To develop a deeper spiritual life;
  5. To enhance mood and outlook on life;
  6. To have accurate documentation of life experiences;
  7. To heighten problem-solving skills;
  8. To improved performance of daily activities;
  9. To increase levels of self-awareness;
  10. To manage stress and obtain other health benefits; and
  11. To stimulate a healthier mind. 
Snore.

Here are my 11 good reasons for writing morning pages:
  1. To bitch about my job
  2. To play with my  journal and pens
  3. To obsess about boys
  4. To write endless lists
  5. To discover blog material (like this here post)
  6. To bitch about people that bug
  7. To write hearts in the margins
  8. To make evil plans
  9. To ... well, I guess there is only 8.
Whatever your reasons might be, writing morning pages is still a good idea.


Day 310: An important blog announcement

I haven't blogged in a few days.

You may have noticed.

You may not have noticed. 

Whatev. I'm not attached.

Lies.

Ya. You caught me.

Anyway, I forgot my laptop power cord at the office, which meant I had about 2.5 minutes of juice for the weekend. I do, after all, have a Mac. Even on the best days, the power lasts for a good 3 minutes at most.

It's nice that Mac people can make fun of themselves. Our smartphone iPhones are geniusphones except when making calls. Then they are idiotphones. Our headphones blow out so often that they might as well sell packs of three. And our laptop battery life is a joke.

And yet, we're all willing to throw down big bucks to have that royal apple logo within arms reach of wherever we happen to be in the world.

Can you get to the point of this post?

Right.

Without my laptop, I couldn't post and without being able to post, I missed it. Usually when I don't post, I feel kinda guilty. But now, without being able to post, I didn't like not being able to. I didn't like it at all.

Not one bit.

What are you saying?

I'm saying that if I don't like not posting now, I sure as shit am not going to like not posting after this project is done on December 31, 2010. 

So...

So, dear reader, I'm going to keep doing this blog for as long as you'll have me. Well beyond this 2010 project.

YAYAYAYAYAYA!

And if you think that's shocking... here's a boob shot.


Oh my.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 306: The passions of Janice MacLeod


The origin of the word Passion means suffering. The most famous example of the original meaning of the word is the Passion of the Christ, which all about that big ol' walk to Calvary.

We all have our passion walks.

One of mine happened today, though it wasn't quite as dramatic as JCs.

But I'll get back to that in a second.

The first passion walk I had was in Waterloo, Ontario. I was interning at an advertising agency. It was winter and I had waited for a bus that decided to not come. I started walking across town to the agency. I remember slush, wet boots and a panic at being late. As I approached the front door, I said very clearly No.

Soon after, I moved to Toronto, which ended up being more my kind of town.

Another passion walk happened in Santa Monica, California. I was walking up Wilshire and came across one of my print ads all wadded up in the gutter. Ugh. I walked in the door of the crap agency I was working at and said very clearly No.

Luckily, I got laid off soon thereafter and ended up in a better place.


The final passion walk happened today in Woodland friggin' Hills, California. I was walking through the behemoth Rite Aid parking lot. The heat of the valley was beating down on my head and wafting up from the cement. Mr. Heroin asked me for spare change. I declined with a smile. He said I was very beautiful as he stared at my boobs. I had to jump over a stream of God-knows-what liquid to get to my car. I started up the car and sat in traffic inside the parking lot. Finally, I walked in the door of Office Town and said very clearly...

Not yet.

Not today. But one day. 
A vocabulary list from my Italian language text book. Beautiful.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Day 305: Top 10 ways to survive the Hollywood Halloween parade

Did you know that the biggest Halloween parade in the world is in West Hollywood?

It is and it's awesome.

Top 10 ways to survive and thrive at the Halloween Parade in West Hollywood

1. Honor the gays. This is West Hollywood so it's imperative to honor the beautiful gay men that created this event. My disco monster friend is appreciating the very tall, hairy and muscly musical sensation ABBA.

2. Be sure to get photos with thematically-appropriate friends. That's me on the end.


3. Get many thematically-appropriate shots...



4. It's important to converse with those that are just amazing.


5. Pay respects to the recently deceased undead. If they ask you to dance, be prepared to boogie.

6. Seek out the best dressed couple. This werewolf and mermaid celebrated the birth of their weremaid (or merewolf?) love child.

7. Get photos of scantily clad perfection like this...

And this...

7. Document costume ideas for next year. For example, these guys had fake legs on the go-carts and zoomed around the parade all night with their real legs hidden under the carts. My personal favorite costume...


8. Be aware of costumes that make walking around difficult. My witch hat was too wide and kept bumping into people and falling off. I can just imagine how this guy felt. It must have been challenging to get through doors but he's flat screen so that helps...

9. Don't forget your designer bag. It really sets off your costume.

10. Take rests when you can because there is a lot of walking.


Good times.


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