Hello, I Must Be Going …

I’m going underground for ten days. So to speak. I’ve got a humongazoid project with a strict deadline, and I’ll be living, eating, sleeping in front of the computer for the next ten days straight. I’ll be mainlining coffee and scrounging whatever is in the pantry because I won’t even have time to go out for groceries. I expect at the end of the ten days I’ll be wandering around my house in pajamas with stringy hair reciting nursery rhymes. I will have no time, alas, for updating the blog or browsing the Pottery Barn website. (Nooooooooo!)

Anyway – I’m going to rerun a few old posts you may not have seen before. I hope they will entertain you. If you’ve already read every single post on the blog, I apologize. Just think of it as summer reruns.

Today I leave you with a post about the future, trusting the universe, and health insurance.

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Fenestration
February 13, 2008

I’ve been dealing with a “situation” lately, and while I can’t go into specifics, I can say that it has to do with career and it’s one of those times when you have to take a long hard look at your choices and examine your life and make a Big Decision.

Boy, do I hate that.

Do you know that old saying “When God closes a door, He opens a window?”

Well, it’s sort of ticking me off. Does God really want me jumping out the window right now? Because that just seems so dramatic. I mean, I totally will. You know – for God and all. It’s just that I tend to not be that athletic, so I’m thinking the landing is going to not be an enjoyable thing. I might break something is what I’m thinking. (NOTE TO SELF: CHECK HEALTH INSURANCE POLICY REGARDING EMERGENCY CARE)

I don’t see why He can’t just make another door. When we renovated our house we hired a contractor who moved the bathroom door over about five feet, and it worked out really well. I’m thinking God could make a new door with His eyes closed.

Or – why can’t He just keep the door closed for a while, and be like “Okay, you stay in there and think about this situation.” And then, later, He can open the door and I can be like, “Wow, now that I’ve had a few hours to think about things I know what to do!”

Listen, if God wants me to jump out the window I’ll jump. But what happens after that? Most of what I know about jumping out of widows comes from cop shows like THE SHIELD. On that show people are constantly jumping out of windows and running away from Vic and the other members of the Strike Team. Does God want me to run like that? Wildly, through narrow alleys, jumping over backyard fences, dodging snarly dogs with the PoPo* after me? And what if I do hurt myself from the fall? How can I run away with a broken leg? And while I’m running, or limping away, am I supposed to be making this Big Decision? This just does not seem like a good plan.

But whatever. Who am I to tell God how to do things?

I’ll let you know how it all works out.

* PoPo = the police.


If Sarah Palin Had Resigned as Governor of California

Sarah Palin’s resignation speech as Governor of Alaska:

“And getting up here, I say it is the best road trip in America, soaring through nature’s finest show. Denali, the great one, soaring under the midnight sun. And then the extremes. In the winter time it’s the frozen road that is competing with the view of ice-fogged frigid beauty. The cold though, doesn’t it split the Cheechakos from the Sourdoughs? And then in the summertime, such extreme summertime, about a hundred and fifty degrees hotter than just some months ago, than just some months from now, with fireweed blooming along the frost heaves and merciless rivers that are rushing and carving and reminding us that here, Mother Nature wins. It is as throughout all Alaska, that big wild good life teeming along the road that is north to the future.”

How different it would have been if Sarah Palin had resigned as the Governor of California!

And getting up here, I say it is the worst road trip in America, crawling along nature’s freak show. The Hollywood sign, the great tourist attraction, baking under the LA sun. And then the extremes. In Beverly Hills it’s the Rolls Royce that is competing with the view of shopping-rich Rodeo Drive. The wealth though, doesn’t it split the movie stars from the wanna-bes? And then on the east side, such extreme lifestyles, about a hundred and fifty degrees hipper than the valley, than some neighborhoods not far from here, with forty-something hipsters Blue-toothing along the freeways and merciless drivers that are rushing and cutting you off and reminding us that here, wealth and beauty wins. It is as throughout all Los Angeles, that big wild party life teeming along the road that is naught, for sure.


Tim Gunn Is Helping Me Write My Book

You know Tim Gunn? From “Project Runway?” He helps the design contestants as they struggle to complete each new challenge – his motto on the show is “make it work.” I was reading an interview with him on the BlogHer site, written by the fantastic Susan Wagner:

“Gunn’s basic philosophy boils down to his recognizeable tag line: “Make it work!” In A Guide to Quality, Taste, and Style, Gunn writes about the evolution of this philosophy. He watched students, stumped by assignments, abandon the designs they had started midway, in the hopes that the next design would be better. “This practice unnerves me,” he writes, “because it’s like playing roulette with one’s work….Important learning occurs when a struggle is examined and analysed, diagnosed, and a prescription offered. Ergo, make it work.”

The rest of the article goes on to explain Gunn’s philosophy about fashion – that ordinary women can find their own style groove by paying attention to their own inner voice, trusting their own instincts, critiquing themselves, and not giving up.

I think this is fabulous advice, and not just in terms of fashion. I’ve been struggling with the book I’m writing. In the past few weeks I’ve been feeling like I want to give up on it. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t where where I’m going with it. But I can’t let it go – I know there’s something in there, somewhere. I know I had an idea when I started, and there’s still something I want to say, something I’m trying to convey. I keep reading a million blogs about writing, about other people’s books, about what they think or what they did and how they did it. I’ve let a million voices into my head, all giving me conflicting advice about what’s wrong with what I’m writing, and how to change it, and what it needs, and what it is, and what it isn’t. I should turn it into a novel. No – I should make it a serious memoir. No – I should make it a screenplay. No – I should make it a how to guide. NO! NO! NO! There’s so much babbling in my head right now that I can’t hear myself think.

I need to forget about what everyone else is saying – expect maybe Tim Gunn. I need to be quiet, tune out all the voices, and listen to myself. I need to stop trying to change it into something else that someone else wants, and figure out what I want. And I shouldn’t give up. I don’t want to to give up. I want to make it work.


So You Think You Can Dance? Or Dream?

I love the show, So You Think You Can Dance (also known as SYTYCD, which is almost as long as the actual title, so really – why bother?) (And when you say the show’s title in your head, you have to say it with Cat Deeley’s charming English accent, with the emphasis on “think.”)

Last year I wrote about my love for the show, and not much has changed, except I’m a year older and still unemployed, and now I have to take blood pressure medication. And the economy is worse, and my husband’s business is slowly circling the drain, and I’m feeling lost and confused, and you know what people do at times like this?

They break out into song and dance. Dim the lights, and spotlight center stage, please:

Tara looks out into the darkness, arms outstretched and sings:
(Add appropriate Broadway-type melody)

“I still believe in dreaming,
I still believe in hope,
And even though I’m unemployed,
I don’t think I’m a dope …

(Okay, so I’m no Rodgers and Hammerstein. It’s still in the workshop phase.)

I like to think that I’m merely a woman of my times, and my times happen to feature massive unemployment, so I’m just keeping current, yo! I’m torn between two worlds – I’m simultaneously still going for my “dream” of supporting myself as a writer, and also looking for another “day job” that will pay the bills. I’ll leave the waitressing to the younger crowd (been there, done that, smelled like hamburger) and I don’t have enough piercings to work at Starbucks. I was at the top of my game in my previous “day job,” and so far it seems I’ll have to take a big pay cut to get back to a similar position with worse hours and less benefits. If I can find one. Which I can’t. Even if I wanted one. Which I do. (Sort of.) (But not really.) But I have definitely been looking, with no success.

Sure, I’m also trying to find a steady job that involves writing, but so far no luck there, either. When I got laid off I wondered if the “universe” was “tying to tell me something,” like I should go for the writing and not fall back on the security of a steady job I hate? I have a complicated relationship with the universe, and I always think if it wants to tell me something, it should just send an e-mail and not be so cryptic and mysterious because I’ve been leaping like mad and so far the net has been all, “Yeah, I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

Am I too damn old to keep dreaming? Is that why I love SYTYCD? Watching people with dreams and talent and so much still ahead of them? Or is just the sheer joy of the emotion and the passion and the expression of feelings? Watching Melissa and Ade dance the tribute to women with breast cancer was an amazing moment – such passion and art – on primetime TV. Melissa is the “old” one, at 29, and while she has many good years ahead of her as a dancer, I’m sure she feels the pressure to make the most of her moment. Is my moment still to come? What happens if I never get my moment? Will I still try? I hope so. So yeah, I think I can dance (without actually, you know, dancing) and I never want to lose that, no matter what happens.


Mini Vacation

Today I had lunch at an Italian cafe. It was a tiny town in the countryside, with views of the Tuscan mountains in the distance. The weather was very pleasant – warm, but with a light breeze. I had a chunk of fresh bread, not long from the oven, and a small dish of olives – green and black – with fresh feta cheese, all sitting in light olive oil. I piled some of the cheese onto the bread, then dipped it into the olive oil. I ate the olives alternately – one green, one black, one green, one black. From my table I watched an old Italian woman slowly make her way across the town square, holding tightly to her string bag as she headed to the market in search of tonight’s dinner. I followed my bread and cheese with an iced latte, which amused the group of old men a few tables away from me. They sipped their cups of espresso, occasionally dabbing their lips with white napkins as they offered each other the solutions to the world’s problems, as they did every day. I closed my eyes and just sat, living the moment, letting go of any agenda or expectations or thoughts of anything other than being in that cafe, sipping that latte.

Now I have to get back to today’s work. There are some workers banging hammers and sawing something at the house next door, right next to the window where I sit typing. Los Angeles is upwards of 90 degrees today and my non-air conditioned house is stifling. But the iced latte still tastes good.


Job Search: Epic Clarity Report Writer

Monster.com sent me a very tempting job suggestion the other day.

This one is for an “Epic Clarity Report Writer,” and the thought of this job really excites me. I had one incident of epic clarity in my life, about ten years ago, on my birthday. It led to me changing my life, finding love, getting married, and ultimately starting to write my book. That’s pretty epic, if you ask me.

The thing is – I don’t have all the details about this job yet, so I’m not sure if I will be required to write about other people’s incidents of epic clarity, or if I will be expected to have more of my own incidents of epic clarity. From my experience, moments of epic clarity occur fairly infrequently, and I can not guarantee that I will ever have another one quite as epic as the one I already had. In a way, I hope I do, because a moment of epic clarity is a rocking good thing. But how many moments like that do we get in a lifetime? And how many do we need? I’m still dealing with all the changes that resulted from that one prior epic moment of clarity, all these years later. I’m not saying I couldn’t use a little more clarity at times, but perhaps I don’t need epic clarity. Maybe I just need a little run of the mill clarity. I certainly wouldn’t refuse another moment of epic clarity. Maybe I need it more than I realize right now. I appreciate the tiny glimpses of clarity I get here and there, but of course – a moment of epic clarity would speed things along. Maybe I’m just not clear about how unclear I am right now?

I’m tempted to apply for the position of Epic Clarity Report Writer, partly because I’m starting to think the only moment of epic clarity I will have these days is when I realize I will never actually get a job through Monster.com. I still cling to a belief it might happen, but it’s becoming more and more clear that it most likely will not. But in my experience, you can’t rush a moment of epic clarity. It happens when it happens. Just like a great job. And that is something that I am fairly certain of.


Harry Potter and the Magical Mascara Wand

The new Harry Potter movie just opened. When the Harry Potter books first came out, my niece devoured each one. She was always a smart kid and an avid reader, and it was great to know that she had a series that would feed her imagination and perhaps encourage a lifetime appreciation of literature.

I was thinking about that as I got ready this morning. I opened the second drawer, where I keep my eye makeup, and reached for mascara. Hmmm. It wasn’t there. I must have put it in the top drawer by mistake. I opened the top drawer and looked for the shiny purple tube. Nope. Maybe I just didn’t see it in the second drawer? Check again. Nope.

it could be anywhere in the house
probably in the freezer because that would be the most bizarre unlikely place
I am going to be the youngest person in the home
no one must know about this
I don’t want to wear mascara anyway
I want to be one of those “well-maintained” older women
wait – did I turn off the coffee pot before I took a shower?
let me just wander over here and check in the bedside table
I know it’s not in the bedside table
if I were a tube of mascara where would I be?
it didn’t just move itself, young lady
I’m not looking in the freezer because that would just be too sad
what is this, a movie on Lifetime?
I haven’t been to Italy yet
I don’t want to die!

Ah! Here it is under the sink with the toilet bowl cleaner.

Interesting. Did this happen yesterday? I must have been putting on mascara when I was suddenly overcome with an urgent desire to clean the toilet bowl. Odd. I don’t remember that at all. Clearly there are evil forces at work here. Wait – did I turn off the coffee pot before I took a shower? Let me just go check …