Saturday, December 29, 2012

There has been so much sad news this week that I'm going to write a post with good news. Mainly, because the horrific event in Newton has left me at a loss for words. And, a Wire colleague passed away last week. Sometimes things can just be too much, and in my case I'm one to have to let the shock wear off before I can absorb it. I will say that every time I see a memorial that includes a smiling, stuffed animal with open arms, as if waiting to comfort a child with its softness, it just tears me up.

Deep breath... Now, onto the good news.

I got a full-time job just before the world was supposed to end on December 21st. I started a week before that, so were the apocalypse to come I would have gone out employed, man.

When I applied, because of all the abject crap that exists out there, I had reservations. But, as experience has told me, you never know until you interview. So, when I met the two smart, funny, artsy, genuine and interesting women that I interviewed with, I was sold. And apparently, they were too. I've been doing this long enough to where you know when you meet people who "get it." This comes after a long and frustrating search for a job that felt right, would offer me a challenge, keep me busy, provide me benefits and very important, have interesting coworkers that make me laugh at least once a day.  In turn, I'd offer them my unique background, great work ethic, broad experience and skills. And hopefully, make them laugh at least once a day. So, one can imagine how thrilled I was when I learned one of the other women in my department was a real life ghost hunter. She even played me two EVPs that her boyfriend, an Oscar-winning SFX make-up artist and fellow ghost hunter, had recorded on one of his hunts. Chilling, really. And so fascinating.

My boss, on Tuesday morning, said to me, "You'll have to pardon me, I have mosh pit hair from last night." Loved it. Loved even more that she and her husband had gone to the show. And no, my department isn't made up of 20-something hipster web jockeys. They are a lot like me in the sense that this isn't their first rodeo, they take their work and what they contribute to it seriously, and somehow in this life that constantly tries to make you stray course towards conforming, they stayed true to who they are creatively and personally. And my God, are hilarious.

The company is an edgy toy company, established in the 70s and as stable as any company can get in this economy. I know that nothing is guaranteed, but it's nice to be employed again. Freelancing from home sucks. Yeah, I know. So many of you who have been at desk jobs your whole life are saying back to your monitors that you'd love to work from home. I totally understand. I did too...once. But really, after a while it's lonely, fleeting, unsatisfying and depressing. Especially after coming from a vibrant work setting like Disney. Save for a couple, my freelance projects were unsatisfying, and while I was able to explore other outlets for my creativity, I'm a person who needs a schedule. The fits and starts of freelancing just don't work for me. However, oddly enough, freelancing when I'm employed full time works very well for me. Someone once told me, "You want something done, ask a busy person." In my case it's very true. However, despite what I just said, I'm grateful that I was able to use the free time to explore and hone my artistic endeavors.

On Friday the 21st, we had our Holiday party which was in an old LA Times building. The place wasn't heated, so while we all had fun, it was certainly chilly. I'd been warned beforehand, so I brought my coat to the building, which while owned by the company, is different from the one where I work. The party took place during business hours, so at least we didn't have to endure it during night. However, I think my ass just finally thawed out from sitting on a toilet in the bathroom. And that's with two of those paper ass gaskets in between me and the seat. It was a neat building though, huge and industrial. 20th Century Fox is going to shoot some big movie there during the first week of January. I can see why. Look at it. I shot this through a gate on my way to the party. And this is just a part of it. If you click on the image to enlarge it, you can see the indents in the cement where the huge printing presses used to be.

It's now the 28th, and I finished my second week there. It was only a three-day week, due to Christmas, but I'm starting to get the hang of it and like the first week, things went really well. Thankfully, I've adjusted to waking up in the mornings much easier than I expected, and am able to get to work on time even with a stop at Starbucks on the way. The commute is an easy one. It's against traffic and only 20 minutes each way.

A guy I know who is a producer for "The Haunting Hour" on The Hub, told me about The Caroling Truck that comes through the neighborhood on Christmas Eve. I hadn't seen it before, so I decided to meet him and his family there to check it out. His house is right on its path, so he told me where they would be. I'll tell you, I don't know what I was expecting, but it surely wasn't this awesome spectacle:

I shot this video with my Elph digital point and shoot, and I think it did a great job! If you want to see a larger video of it, I posted it here on Flickr. I also rubbed shoulders with Kristen Dunst, who was in the crowd of spectators. It was just the perfect thing for Christmas Eve, and fun to watch the neighborhood go from a relatively silent night, to totally batshit Christmas.

As for the actual day, I had a mellow Christmas, and will probably do the same for New Year's Eve. It's just been that kind of a year, and I think a quiet tying up of it seems just about right.

Monday, November 26, 2012

I have a lot to be thankful for, including finally getting to cross seeing Peter Gabriel live in concert off my bucket list. If that wasn't good enough, he performed at the Hollywood Bowl, which means it made my epic bucket list. What was great, is that the guy next to us, who was a site manager of a remote work site way up in Canada, had flown 20 hours total to see the concert because why? Seeing Peter Gabriel in concert was on his bucket list, as well as seeing a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. I told him he beat me by one, since I'd been to the Hollywood Bowl many times. The show was sold out, and I shot this shaky video of Shannon and me during "Sledgehammer." The Canadian can be seen at the end, singing along. This video just cracks me up.

I'd bought the tickets months before when I heard he was going to be here and that the concert was a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the album "So," which brought me, and just about everyone else in the audience back to a poignant time in our lives. In my case, it was college, having just arrived in New York. So many memories associated with that album, ranging from being driven down Park Avenue at breakneck speed in a Maserati by a crazy Colombian playboy as "Red Rain" blared from the Alpine speakers, to my more quiet, reflective or artistic moments. Every song on that album brings back a memory, emotion, lesson learned, realization or new experience.

Gabriel started the concert with an acoustic, eclectic mix of his as he put it, new but unfinished songs, then plugged in the electricity for his older songs, which included many of my favorites of his, "Solsbury Hill," "Shock the Monkey,"and songs from his album "Ovo." Mesmerizing and wonderful.

Solsbury Hill is so poignant to those who have taken the road less traveled, or who have suddenly realized that their lives, while comfortable, are anything but satisfactory. And, who decided not to silence, but heed that inner voice telling them to take that leap. In Peter Gabriel's case, it was when he decided to break with Genesis.

I was feeling part of the scenery
I walked right out of the machinery
My heart going boom boom boom
"Hey" he said "Grab your things
I've come to take you home."

-- Peter Gabriel, Solsbury Hill

When he played Solsbury Hill, the whole audience stood, our hearts going boom boom boom as we danced, remembering the moments when we decided to walk out of the machinery. A soul moving, profound musical experience.

Just before "In Your Eyes," which we all knew was coming because he was playing "So" in the same order as the album, John Cusack walked on stage, holding a boombox, paying homage to the iconic scene in "Say Anything." Total. Epic. Moment. You can see that below in a video shot at the concert. Of course, magnify the awesomeness of the moment and the sound quality by a thousand if you want to imagine what it was like to be there. The sound was encompassing, rich and far reaching. John Cusack was absolutely adorable, I almost cut the circulation off in poor Shannon's arm and deafened his left ear when I saw what was going on. There were big screens at the show, and during the song they cut to John Cusack dancing it up in the audience.

The energy of the whole show was inclusive, celebratory, and I'll say it, a little sacred to those of us who have so many memories tied to "So." I was inspired to see that all of us with our different treks and stories, seemed to be participating in a pilgrimage to our pasts, paying homage to someone that helped us along the way. And, I was so glad that I got to experience it with my best friend.

Excellent birds...

I had a great Thanksgiving, going to an orphan's dinner that a friend and her husband hosted. They live close by, so it was an extra bonus not to have to get on the freeways. It was a great time with about ten people there, including a darling, sweet three-year-old girl who was just an absolute joy. Fun, not shy, not demanding, just a part of everything and a tickle away from lighting up the room with her laugh. Shannon was great with her, giving her horsie rides and allowing himself to become a human jungle gym. She also was a huge fan on my meringue surprises, so much that she came over to me and said, "Thank you for making the cookies," and soon after snuck four of them in a row. It was hilarious.

Shannon baked a scrumptious pecan, chocolate chip pumpkin pie as well as a fantastic "Smokehouse" garlic bread. The host made an absolutely mouth-watering turkey, having brined it for two days. It was so tender and moist. Just delectable.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"God, I forgot how big he is."

That was the first thing my dad said upon seeing Oliver, my Maine Coon cat, when we stopped by my apartment for a bathroom break after being stuck in traffic in Hollywood. Someone had called in a bomb threat at Hollywood and Highland, and the police had a huge section of Hollywood Blvd. blocked off. It snarled up traffic so badly that I peeled off and took to the alleys to get us out of there. Once I made my move, three other cars followed me, and we snaked in and out of alleyways, working our way up parallel to the parking lot that all the surface streets had become. I was glad to have my little Volvo C30 T5R, which did marvelously in the tight turns. God, I love that car. I felt like we were in a scene from Ronin, with a Mercedes behind me and two follow cars that were counting on me to lead us out of Hollywood.

My dad came to visit in September, and Los Angeles was kind enough to provide him with 100-degree heat. However, he stays at the Hotel Amarano, a boutique hotel up the street, as my one-bedroom apartment is just too small for most visitors. The Amarano, which opened about four years ago, has been great for his visits to Los Angeles. They really offer impeccable service and filled a huge void for a luxury hotel near the studios. And, I'll add that they make a fantastic cosmo.

The day before our harrowing escape from Hollywood, we went to see the Edgar Payne exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. Edgar Payne painted mostly plein air, which considering he painted in the early 20th century and the large scale of his paintings, some several feet high and wide, is a pretty darn incredible feat. Think of all the supplies, paints, oils, mineral spirits, brushes, palettes, canvases and easels that he and his band of couriers had to carry to remote locations in the Sierras and Navajo territories. He even made it to Europe to paint the Matterhorn and merchant ships in France and Italy. The work was absolutely spectacular, with robust colors mixed with subtle hues and rich textures. And his impressionist style meant that whenever you moved a few feet, you saw a different painting. The museum did an awesome job with the exhibit, really showcasing the work in a way that it could be appreciated.  My dad is an avid oil painter, with a love for painting landscapes. He heard that the exhibit would be showing in Los Angeles and timed his visit to see it.

That evening, we had dinner with Shannon at Off Vine, my first visit back since the place had been rebuilt after a fire had gutted it.They really did a stellar job recreating the original charm of the restaurant, which is inside a craftsman house. They also updated things like the restroom and upper floor for more room and convenience. And of course, dinner was delicious. It was a beautiful night and we ate outside on the patio. Though you're in Hollywood, it doesn't feel like it.

The day that had us coming home ala Ronin, we had just had brunch at the Hotel Bel Air, which was nothing short of fabulous. Stellar service, luscious grounds, delicious food and just plain wonderful. I wore a summer dress and pearls and my dad offered to make and wear a button that said, "Yes, she really is my daughter." That cracked me up. We sat under a canopy in an outdoor dining area and ate the several course meal to our heart's content. The last time my dad was here, he took me to brunch at San Ysidiro Ranch. I won't lie...I'm liking this trend a lot.

Monday, October 29, 2012

For those of you on the East Coast and Mid-Atlantic Coast, stay safe. I'm thinking of you all as Sandy bears down. I have many family members right in the path of it, and while I think they'll be okay, this one scares me.

This official warning from the National Weather Service in PA, pretty much says it all:



Pretty intense.

Godspeed to everyone in the region... And hold onto your butts.

Friday, October 05, 2012

I took Atticus to the vet a week and a half ago, his first trip to the vet here in Burbank. Since he's 15, I wanted to get blood and urine tests just to be on top of it when it comes to his health. When I walked into the lobby, there was a guy in there who looked to be in his early twenties, with tattooed arms and legs, bright blue eyes and an easy smile. I reached for the paperwork and only succeeded in dropping it on the floor. He picked it up for me, and I thanked him for the favor.

As I filled out the paperwork, Atticus sitting beside me on the bench and leaning against my hip, I heard the receptionist explaining treatment costs to the guy. From what I could tell, his dog had either gotten out of the yard or house, and when he found her a couple days later, she was injured and bleeding. He wasn't sure what had happened to her, whether she had been hit by a car or attacked by another animal, but she had lost a lot of blood and was in the emergency room being treated.

Atticus and I were taken into an exam room, and while we waited, I brushed him, having brought his kitty brush with me to comfort him.  After he got his tests and was returned to me, I chatted with the vet, then walked back out into the reception area to pay. On my way, I looked through the large square window in the door to the emergency treatment room, and saw a beautiful butterscotch colored pitbull, lying on the examination table with IVs and a couple of vets hovering over her. She was still awake, and lifted her head. Before, I'd asked the receptionist about the dog, and she told me it was a young one, less than a year old.

When I approached the reception desk, the same guy was walking back into the reception area from outside. When the vet assistant asked him a question, his face crumbled, and he put his head on the counter and sobbed. With no hesitation, I walked over to him, put my hand on his back and offered comfort. "I know, it's hard," I said, "I'm so sorry." He sobbed and sobbed, and as I held Atticus in one hand, I kept my other on his back, and kept telling this man, a heap of sadness, how sorry I was, and how hard it was, what he was going through. His sadness and clear feelings of helplessness just broke my heart. I wasn't going to tell him that it would be okay, because I didn't know if it would. So, I stood there until he was able to stand back up and collect himself. During this, the vet walked out, and I turned to her and put my hand on my heart. "I hate this part of my job," she said, looking crestfallen. "I can't even imagine," I said to her. And I knew she did, as she was the vet who was so caring with Scout.

A few days later, I came back to buy the prescription food for Atticus, and saw that the same young woman was behind the reception desk. I asked her about the pitbull and learned that sadly, she didn't make it. My heart sank, and I told her that I'd been thinking of that man and his pitbull for days. She said that it had really affected her too. How could it not?

I can only hope that he isn't blaming himself. It could have happened to anyone, and he clearly loved his dog. My heart broke thinking of him going home and seeing her dish, leash and food that wouldn't be eaten, or that first night when she isn't there to snuggle with him, then the first day he comes home and she doesn't greet him at the door. Just so sad.

It was weeks before I could do away with Scout's IV bag and needles. I had them in my car for when I was ready, carried in a brown paper bag with handles. I felt in a way, that it was my last connection to her. She had been treated by these instruments, and though they weren't successful for her, they represented hope. Hope that I would have her for longer, that she'd be able to live a comfortable life and feel better. Hope for more nights that she'd curl up beside me in bed. It took a while for me to let go of that hope, even though I knew she was gone. It's funny how our mind helps us cope.

Now, I'm just thankful that I got to have her in my life for as long as I did. And her gift to me was what comfort, if any, that I could offer to someone else during their time of profound sadness. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Endeavour on a 747 flying over Los Angeles
Endeavour on a 747 flying over Los Angeles
This definitely falls under the "You don't see that every day," category.

A thrilling sight over Los Angeles, Endeavour piggybacked on a 747, escorted by two fighter jets. I made it up to Mulholland Drive to watch history. The Space Shuttle Endeavour, which has circled the earth 46,000 times, making its last flight over Los Angeles. Mulholland was packed with cars that pulled over, all of us excited to see the Shuttle. It passed directly over us, flying at only 1500 feet, and we all erupted in cheers. We were against a mountain, so it appeared out of nowhere, and I looked right at the belly of the giant 747 and two fighter jets roaring overhead. The sound was epic, bouncing off the canyons and freeways. It then did a majestic bank and flew over the Hollywood sign, and back over Universal Studios, which in my pictures is located just under the Shuttle. It's absolutely huge, even though it's hard to see that in my pictures. It also flew right over my apartment, where according to my neighbors, a huge crowd had gathered outside Warner Bros, . When it passed over us, 18-wheeler trucks that were driving on the 101 Freeway, (out of picture, below to the right) honked their horns in appreciation. It was just incredible.

I love events like this that bring a city, even one as sprawled out as Los Angeles, together. I wasn't the only one screaming and jumping up and down like a little kid when the shuttle passed over. Everyone, from every background was braving the heat and lined up to see this thrilling sight. There was even a 91-year-old man with his son who came out to see the flyby. On every mountain, overlook, trail, there were people waiting to see it. I can't imagine the rush that must have been for the pilots, flying over a city to cheering crowds. The closest thing to being Superman for a day.

And for us on the ground, the closest thing to having Superman for a day.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Here by the kindness of a stranger.
A couple of weeks ago, I was in my yoga class, when I suddenly started feeling nauseous. For the record, nausea of any kind is my kryptonite, and it's a key trigger for a panic attack. The class had only been going on ten minutes, and before that, I'd felt fine, so the sudden onset of nausea unnerved me. I tried to downplay it, and the rising anxiety attack, but it soon became clear that I was going to have to leave. As discreetly as I could, I rolled up my mat, packed up my things and indicated to the teacher, who was looking at me curiously, that I wasn't feeling well. Part of the reason that nausea triggers panic attacks for me is the public component of getting sick, or having to "cause a scene" and get out of wherever I am. I've since learned to give myself permission to leave anywhere at anytime, and that has lessened that "trapped" feeling a lot, but then there is the factor of not knowing what's wrong with me, and if it's going to get worse.

I came out of class, and sat on the bench for a few seconds. Things didn't improve, so left and got my car out of parking. I told myself that every obstacle that could possibly get in my way to slow my journey home was absolutely going to happen, so to be ready to cope when it did. It's a steadfast rule of the universe, that whenever one has a desperate need to get home quickly, fate will throw every obstacle possible in your way. And this time was no different. Every red light, slow driver, and the slowest walking homeless man ever recorded in history, shuffling his way across the street as I was trying to turn left.

I'd made it through Hollywood, and was just cresting the hill on Barham when I knew I had to pull over. I drove into an empty parking lot of a real estate company, got out of my car and after a few dry heaves, things settled down. I sat on the cement parking marker for a few minutes, then when I felt confident that I could last the five minutes it would take to get home, I got back in my car and made it without incident. Scared, I'd texted Shannon and told him my plight, and he was kind enough to bring over ginger ale, chicken soup and crackers. In the middle of it all, I figured out that it was my own fault. I'd forgotten to take my medication for a few days, and in the last few weeks before, had not been good about being regular with it. It happens to the best of us. That night just before yoga, I'd taken one and my body just revolted. Let's just say, I got the message loud and clear.

The next morning, the nausea had pretty much subsided. However, I was worn out from purging. I was lying in bed when I heard someone knock on my door. Irritated, I rolled over, looked at the clock and saw that it was 8:48 AM. No way was I coming to the door, figuring that it was probably the landlord's brother who does maintenance for the building. A few minutes later, someone knocked again. This time, I recognized my neighbors' voices, so I peeled myself out of bed and wrapped a towel around me. I trudged to the door and opened it to see three of my neighbors, two sisters who live together and my next door neighbor who arranged the Warner Bros. tour for my mom and me. It was she who was holding my wallet, and all three wore looks of concern on their faces.

She handed me my wallet, and I looked at her speechless. At first, I thought I'd dropped it outside my apartment in the middle of being sick last night. However, that wasn't the case. They told me that a man with a pronounced limp had brought it to them and said that he'd found it in the parking lot where I had pulled over. At first, he was reluctant to give it to them, but I guess Kim's Warner Bros. tour guide uniform convinced him that she could be trusted. He'd left his name, Jose, and phone number with them, which they gave to me. I stood there stunned as the three of my neighbors told me they thought something really bad had happened to me and were glad that I was okay. "Oh my God," I said, and explained to them what had happened, and how blown away I was that a complete stranger had done such a good deed.

Apparently, when I got out of my car, my wallet had fallen out. The next morning, this man, who was the cleaning person at the company, found it. Using the address on my driver's license, he brought it to my building where he gave it to my neighbors. Everything was intact, even the cash.

I called him later, overflowing with thanks and told him how my wallet had come to be in that parking lot. I offered to give him something for his trouble. He refused, telling me that he was a Jehovah's Witness and that he knew he'd want someone to do the same for him. I offered again, but after he refused, I respected his wishes. "Your phone call is enough," he said in thickly-accented English. Well Jose, it was nothing compared to what you did.

It's just a reminder, that there are good, honest and caring people in this world. Yes, even in Los Angeles. I shudder when I think what I'd have had to go through to replace everything in the wallet and then endure the continuing fear of who had my information and what they were doing with it. This man, who apparently hasn't had an easy life, and still doesn't, was my hero that morning. Jose, a complete stranger, had my back. And there's something just so wonderful when you think of it that way.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I forgot that I hadn't posted pictures of my newest collage, as I'm already in the thick of working on my next one. For this one, I took a complete departure from my last two and really tried to incorporate the synesthesia aspect into the main collage. This means, making it the main subject. This will be a part of the "synesthesia series" of collages that I plan to do, which are depictions of what sounds look like to me. For those of you who are just coming to this blog, I explain synesthesia, and the collage process, along with a picture of my first piece, in this post. This is my latest piece, called "Echo." It's 19x24 inches.

My Mosaic Collage

And, here are some closer details of the piece, all photographed by Shannon Treglia.

Closer detail of Collage

CollageI create all the elements of my "collage mosaics" so that they appear differently in different lighting. Here, with just a little change in the angle of the lighting, the metallic highlights become more evident. Before assembling the collage, I paint all pieces with acrylic paint, then cut and arrange them on a painted background.

For larger photos of all my collages, go here:

Friday, August 03, 2012

Happy Birthday to me.

It was a great one. My mom came to visit during my birthday, and we had a really fun time, hanging out watching the Olympics, eating at Olive and Thyme, going on the Warner Bros. VIP tour where we had our picture taken on the Friend's Central Perk set and on my actual birthday, going to see The Dark Knight Rises, which was fantastic, then hitting up Olive and Thyme once again for their burger night. I think we went a total of three times to O & T while she was here. They are an excellent bistro/cafe right down the street and a favorite of the studios, so my mom got to see a full lunch hour in swing. They really do a swift business,  managing a very busy lunch crowd, but always have superb teas, food and excellent service. At night, they have a dinner menu and burger nights on Fridays. I took both my dad and mom for that when they each visited. They are busy then too, which is good, because it means they'll be staying.

The day before my birthday, we took the Warner Bros. VIP tour. I've lived across the street from Warner Bros. Studios for five years, and had never been on the tour. My next door neighbor is a tour guide and was kind enough to arrange tickets for us at her employee discount. We saw her there, and it was fun to see her at work. We'd occasionally pass her on her tour. Just a note, those people work their butts off.

I worked at Warner Bros. my first year back in Los Angeles as a proofreader for theatrical key art and DVD packaging, and still, I didn't take the tour. The building where I worked had a Starbucks in it, and the tours actually took off from that area. I'd go down to get coffee, maneuvering through the throngs of visitors from all over the world, and during trips to the commissary, frequently saw the trolleys going by filled with tourists, but this time I just had a great time being one. I didn't mention to a soul on our tour that I was a local so that I could just enjoy and learn. And, it was a good tactic. As I listened, I was just incredulous at what went on across the street. Sure, I know there's a major movie studio across the way from me, but I tend to normalize it and forget about the incredible visual and artistic feats that are taking place a stone's throw away as I sit eating dinner, watching television, writing a new blog entry, creating a new collage, listening to an audio book or all the things one does at home. Or, that as I'm sleeping in late one morning, that a tiger is being driven into the studio to film the hotel scene from "The Hangover." I think that story, of the tiger, is when it hit me how much goes on over there. And, how much coordination, human cooperation and skills are involved.

I was also amazed to learn how many iconic scenes in movies have been filmed in Stage 16, the largest sound stage at Warner Bros. and one of the tallest in the world. This pivotal scene from "Inception" where Saito's mansion is flooded was filmed there:

This was done entirely on that stage, along with real water. Just click to bypass the ad. After that, it's the entire scene in glorious hi-res. I lived here when this was filmed, so that's pretty cool to think this was going on, well, right across the street.

My next door neighbor told me of these other scenes that were filmed on Soundstage 16. You may just recognize a few:

Jurassic Park - The terrifying first encounter with the T-Rex. And the scene where the Jeep is falling through the tree toward Sam Neill and Joseph Mazzello.

The Goonies - The pirate ship. This is an excellent article, with pics and the history of the production of The Goonies, including a mention of Stage 16 and how they kept the ship hidden from the kids until shooting.

Ocean's 13 - The three-story Bank Casino was built entirely on Stage 16. Here, producer Jerry Weintraub gives a short tour of the casino, and you can really see the massive scale and detail put into building this set.

And, this iconic scene from Rebel Without a Cause.

As well as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man scene from Ghostbusters:

Other sets include, J. Edgar Hoover's FBI Building in J. Edgar, the upside-down Ballroom in Poseidon, and the storm scene in The Perfect Storm. Get the idea? A lot of cool stuff was filmed there. If you are interested in learning more of the films that had scenes shot on Stage 16, go here:

And, for a wonderful blog post on Stage 16, with pictures, from Dear Old Hollywood , go here.

Me with the Tumbler from The Dark Knight RisesThe Picture Car Museum was also fantastic. This is me by the Tumbler from The Dark Knight Rises. And yes, they come in black.

They also have a costume museum, with an incredible collection of costumes from classic films, (Bette Davis had one tiny waist!) up unto the present, where they had Batman's entire ensemble from The Dark Knight Rises, (in the plexiglass case), weapons and all. The entire 2nd floor is dedicated to the Harry Potter films, where my mom and I both took turns under the sorting hat. She was sorted into Harry Potter's alma mater, the Gryffindor House, yours truly got sorted into the Slytherin House.  Not even a hesitation, just the proclamation of "Slytherin!" the second I sat on the stool. Another woman, who was the mother of a couple of two adorably excited teenage girls, also got sorted into Slytherin. At the end of the tour, she and I were the only two people that tipped our guide.

What can I say? We Slytherins know how to grease a palm.

Friday, July 20, 2012

News crews by my apartment reporting on The Dark Knight Rises shooting. I live across from Warner Bros.

I took this photo of an E! news crew that was shooting a segment about the awful shooting during The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, CO. Behind them is a Channel 4 News van, one of the many sure to come for the next few days.

I live directly across the street from Warner Bros. Right now, a giant building-sized Dark Knight Rises poster is what looks into my bedroom window. So sad and senseless. These poor people just wanted to see a movie.

Shannon and I went to the first part of the triple feature last night. He hadn't seen "Batman Begins" except for the first 30 mins when I gave him a preview of it before we saw The Dark Knight in theaters when they had an encore showing before the Oscars. He loved The Dark Knight, so he was game when I saw that it was going to be playing the Arclight in Hollywood, the same theater where we'd seen TDK. I bought the tickets a couple of months ago, and at that time the theater was already three-quarters full. At the Arclight, you can buy and choose your seats ahead of time. Of course, Shannon loved Batman Begins as well.

Even more fun, was was that the theater was full of people who were there for the entire triple feature. There was an atmosphere of excitement, people in costumes, dads taking their kids, who you know had probably begged to be able to go and stay up late. One kid, who looked about 12, had a Batman cape on while others wore their excitement in their eyes at the concession counter. Adults, who were fans of the films packed the theaters, some in retro joker costumes and one girl wore a Bane mask. There were lots of Batman and Joker T-shirts. All were so excited to see the movie that they've been waiting to see since the credits rolled for The Dark Knight.

It would have been the same scene in Colorado. The same excitement, giddiness, and the cheers when the theater went dark. Then, the stillness of a rapt audience as the first frame of the most anticipated film of the year illuminated the screen. The feeling that they'd rather be nowhere else than where they were at this moment, ready to be taken into Gotham, and be entertained and thrilled. Many had probably Tweeted their excitement before the film started. I know my friends did. They came to watch a superhero pull himself from the depths of despair to triumph over evil. And, in experiencing that struggle, perhaps be encouraged along in their own journeys.

But, it was not to be.

Wishing strength, comfort and solace to all the families who lost loved ones and those who were injured. Stay strong, hang in there. Persevere and survive. We are all holding you up, even though you can't feel our hands. We are beside you, even though you can't feel our shoulders against yours, and we're embracing you, even though you can't feel our arms. We are with you, as you pull yourselves from the depths of despair, and triumph over evil.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I'm at Starbucks again at an ungodly hour for me, getting here at 7:15 AM. "What the fuck," you ask? Truth is, I haven't slept all night, because once again, my sleep patterns got messed up due to my lack of a regular schedule. So, instead of lying awake, staring at my ceiling, I got up, cleaned up, then came here. I'm surprised at how busy it is at this early hour on a Saturday morning. I actually had to stand in line longer than I ever have during normal hours. But, tables were abundant. I'm sure my body will rebel later today, but I'm going to hold it off as long as possible.


I've also had a restless mind the last few days, and nights filled with weird dreams that have me waking up in a sweat. I continue to work on my latest collage, an abstract one which is a new undertaking for me. One that Oliver likes to plop himself right in the middle of while I'm working on it.

Speaking of Oliver, I have an update on Oliver's former owner. For those of you who don't know Oliver's rescue story, go here. It will make this part that much more entertaining. A couple of months ago, she told me that she had found a new apartment in Los Feliz for $2300 a month. I don't want to ask how she can afford it, but apparently she runs a "sugar daddy match making service" (I'll leave what that is up to your imagination). I'll put good money up that it's a tax-free *cough* escort enterprise. And no, I'm not going to provide a link to it.

Since I'd instigated an "intervention" and helped her get her apartment back from squalor to livable conditions back in 2008, save for a few times that she showed me how she'd decorated it right after the clean up, I'd not seen her apartment. I'm on the first floor, and she was on the second, so there was really no reason for me to go by the apartment to try to get a discreet peek. Our building is what some clever neighbors have dubbed it, a "square horse shoe" with a pool in the middle. Most of our living rooms face the pool, while the bedrooms face the street.

I won't lie. I had hope. I was optimistic. I knew, because of her own poor hygiene, that it wasn't going to be spotless, but maybe she'd kept it livable since my intervention almost four years ago. When I'd spoken to her and learned of her move, she told me that she was going to clean before the movers got there. And, I'd see her carrying some bags of trash out and various small items that she didn't want anymore, like a huge red crushed-velvet lampshade with ball tassels that resembled a pimp hat, broken chairs, and soiled posters. Then came the day when she told me that she couldn't get a drawer open in one of her dressers.

I'd found my in.

I offered to help, and when she let me inside, the sweet, sour, urine-tinted, rancid smell hit me first, then the sight of the heaps of junk and trash. It looked like the Big Bang, not filled with matter, but furniture, broken frames, chairs and glass, clothes, books, pills, papers, dishes, hangers, filth, decomposing food, trash, trash and more trash, had occurred inside her apartment. The kitchen was a black hole, so filled with junk that it was completely void of light. Spiderwebs sagging under the weight of years of dust clung to the walls and ceiling, and a foot-wide corridor between a wall and the junk was full of new spiderwebs, residents hanging in the middle, confident they'd remain undisturbed. I was shocked. Why I was shocked, I don't know. What the fuck was I expecting?

"It's this one," she said, pointing to the chest of drawers, oblivious to my shock. I sighed, lifted my knee up to my waist and took a heaping step over the first pile of junk. Then another, and another. I knelt before the chest, first checking for any spiders, and by using a wire hanger, was able to move the object which was blocking the drawer and wrench it open. Inside of the drawer was more junk. She told me that she wasn't sure she was going to keep the piece and asked me if I wanted it. I thanked her for the kind offer, but declined.

When I got back to my apartment, I took my shoes off outside, went inside and washed up to my elbows, then back outside to spray my shoes with Lysol. I went straight to Oliver, sunk my fingers inside his thick mane and scratched his neck. As he leaned into it and purred, I said, "I know I've told you this before, but you dodged a bullet, dude." I then hugged him.

When her moving day came, the neighbors took pictures of her stained vintage furniture coming out of the apartment, carried by some unfortunate day laborers. I wasn't there for the move. For the next couple of weeks, she took some more things outside and set them by the trash bin. I can't even imagine what they must have thought upon walking into her apartment. No, goosestepping into her apartment to get over the mounds of trash.

For a few weeks after that, I'd see her lethargically trudging up to her apartment and bringing down bags of items, or more broken, soiled things. Items that came into her possession fine and once put through her destruction mill, left ruined. This was one of them, a poster that reads, "Dreams are the touchstones of our character." I saw it when I was pulling out of my parking spot and stopped to take this photo. As I looked at it, discarded and ruined,  plexiglass soiled with an ancient, crusted food spill that she never bothered to clean off,  I felt anger swirl in my stomach.The stain reminded me of seeing Oliver so sick before I insisted that we take him to the emergency vet, as her whole apartment was filled with spots where he'd thrown up. For all I know, that's exactly what is on that picture. The quote on the poster deepened that anger, as it's how she sees herself, a delicate little coquette who wouldn't harm a fly. But, then I realized that it's wasted anger, as she clearly suffers from mental illness. To her credit, when she realized Oliver was ill, she did ask me to look at him. But to her discredit, he became that ill because of her neglect in letting him chew and swallow foam from her flip flops.

After she turned the apartment over to the landlord, it became the tourist attraction of the building. Everyone had heard about her living conditions, and wandered in to gape at the mess that was left behind. I took this picture of the sink, which clearly hadn't been cleaned in the four years since 2008. What you can't see in this picture, are the dead bug carcasses encased in the inch-thick filth. The ring around the sink is where the water stood stagnant for years. She damaged everything so badly that the landlord had to replace the toilet, refrigerator, bedroom closet sliding glass doors, linoleum in the bathroom, carpet in the entire apartment, and re-glaze the tub and sink. The sliding mirrored doors broke outward because she had so much junk stuffed into her closet, that it finally forced them off their bottom rails and broke the glass. I saw it in person, the buckled doors with cracked mirrors, and huge shards of broken mirror, surrounded by splinters, shattered all over the floor, left exactly where it fell for years. She told me upon her last few weeks there, that "the earthquake had done it." I just looked at her and said, "I see." Since she'd been there, we'd only had one earthquake that was a decent shaker, but it did no damage. In order to force sliding doors off their tracks, it would have had to be as big and shallow as the Northridge quake, with an epicenter right under our building. The refrigerator had to be replaced because it was infested with mold that was encrusted with dead ants and bugs, reminiscent of the scene from "Aliens" when the marines discover the room full of dead colonists encased in alien goo. My next door neighbor, who was nice enough to pitch in for day one of cleaning back in 2008,  had done an excellent job in cleaning it out, and both the freezer and refrigerator had only consisted of thousands of dead ants, not any mold. This means that since starting with literally, a clean plate in 2008, she'd let it get that bad.

This is the kitchen after she "cleaned."
According to the landlord's brother, she'd also left a pile of used maxi-pads in her bedroom, (something she'd done as well in 2008) and among everything, had left her driver's license behind. I have to wonder how someone like this even functions minimally in society, and it makes me look at everyone differently. How many hoarders are among us, living in filth? In 2008, on a phone call during the Oliver ordeal, I'd explained her dire living conditions to her mother who groaned and said unsurprised, "Her last apartment was the same way."

I think it's safe to say she didn't get her security deposit back.

Now, here's where things are going to get interesting in her new place. I swear I can't make this shit up. She moved into an "exclusive Spanish Courtyard Hacienda, recently designated a Cultural Historic Landmark." Please keep the above pictures in mind which trust me, are the least of the filth, and what I just wrote when you read this, from their website. For you architecture and history lovers, you may want to get a tissue beforehand. I decided not to include the name of the building on my website. However, there's enough information here that if you really wanted to find it on the web, you will. If you plan to look it up and see the beauty of these historical gems, I suggest two tissues.

"...architectural masterpiece constructed in 1928 by a pair of the period's most prominent architects.  Located on the Eastern edge of Hollywood, adjacent to Los Feliz, the property is in close proximity to Griffith Park and the Barnsdall Art Park and within walking distance to Los Feliz Village. In a neighborhood with examples of apartment properties from throughout the 20th century, this property stands out as a beautifully restored historical treasure. Designed by Arthur B. and Nina W. Zwebell, the [building] is known as a pioneer of the courtyard style architecture that has become so pervasive in Los Angeles building."

Some of the amenities are original imported Spanish tiles, original restored hardwood floors, original light fixtures and unique period architectural details . And the cherry on the cake, this is the building's statement on it's website, ""the [building] Tenets for Tenants…or in other words, you would want to live in a place where your neighbors follow these principles which include, 'Keep your common areas clean…regardless of whether people can see them or not.'"

This gorgeous apartment is destined for ruin. However, there is an upside. The building doesn't allow pets.

Monday, July 02, 2012

I've been so sad hearing about the wildfires in Colorado. Please pray for the people in Colorado who are suffering under their wrath. From what I understand, this is the worst fire disaster in the state's history. I've been thinking so much about that beautiful state and can't even begin to imagine the destruction. As a kid, we spent a lot of time in Colorado, whether it was skiing in winter or hiking, exploring, climbing huge boulders, horseback riding and other adventure seeking at day camp in Estes Park in the summers. Such an incredible part of the country, with wild rugged beauty and towering, jagged peaks. And, a mountain population that was generous enough to let us tourists roam the mountains they are brave enough to call home 24 hours a day. I remember learning about the wildlife, and seeing how alive everything was around us as we hiked through sky high pines, and picking up pine cones as large as my head. Or, riding a horse with a wall of rock on one side and a thundering, freight train of a waterfall at least ten stories high on the other. And, the mixed feeling of awe, terror and wonder that it evokes. There is so much wildlife there and I fear for their fates. Colorado is a place that can quickly remind us where we are on the pecking order. If you want to contribute, I came across this Colorado-based blog that lists several ways you can help.

My mom and Jack were lucky enough to maintain their power after that weird, freaky super dericho storm passed through their city. Several people that I know in Baltimore are suffering in the heat without power and dealing with damage like this. They are in Bolton Hill, and it sounds like this time they got a pass.When I lived in the neighborhood, Hurricane Isabel wasn't as kind to me, knocking a tree on my car. She was sneaky, only weakening the tree, so the next thunderstorm we had that packed a little wind was the tipping point for it. My neighbor knocked on my door to inform me of the accident. My reaction? I looked at it, acknowledged that there was indeed a tree on my car, then went back to bed. When I got up later, I dealt with it. I took these pictures of my neighborhood in Bolton Hill right after the hurricane.

My sister came into town on Thursday and we had a great time hanging out at Cross Creek in Malibu, then Venice and ended the evening with dinner at our favorite Ethiopian restaurant here. She got a surprise layover here, and it was great to have her in town if even only for a day. She'll be off to Madrid this weekend. Ah, the life of a flight attendant.

Friday, June 22, 2012

I had a post that was supposed to go out earlier than now, but I'm waiting for some information on the topic from my mom, so it will have to wait. Thus, the lag between the last post and this one. I was going at a better clip on posting and intend to do so, but the waiting extended longer than I thought. So, onto this one!

When I'd posted about creating my first collage and the creative process behind it, I ended that post with, "I look forward to seeing what comes next." Well, here's what came next:

My Latest Collage

A couple of weeks ago, I completed this second mosaic collage. I went back and forth about what I was going to create, and kept coming back to a cow skull. Since many people have asked after seeing it on my Flickr and Facebook, this piece is 19x18 inches unframed. Shannon was kind enough to take the above picture for me. Now, if you'll bear with me...

BEGIN: Artsy fartsy explanation of inspiration for piece:

The inspiration for the piece was the stripped down freedom that I've been feeling since I've been creatively liberated. I'm finally creating without obstacle, or baggage (skin, flesh, clothes, mental worry/limitations) and putting exactly what is in my mind on paper. To me, bones are us, stripped and presented completely as we are. The skeleton is the rigging that holds the rest of our parts up and is simply what it is. Also, it's a symbol of strength and truth, which I feel I'm finally communicating from. 

Even though cows were imported to America, the cow skull has a Western/Midwestern and distinctly American origin that I associate with my upbringing, but also has a mystical, spiritual presence as well. Bones are a story that is a mystery. Like seeing a book filled entirely with blank pages, except for a single period at the end of the last page.

END: Artsy fartsy explanation of inspiration of piece.

My Latest CollageAs with the last piece, I painted the textures on a large pieces of Bristol paper first, then cut it into tiles to create the mosaic. The red background is painted with the same technique that I use to paint the textures, and looks less "brushy" and more "woodish" than it appears in the photo. I had to go through a couple background changes, as the first color that I used for it was too muted and rose. I changed it to a deep red and I'm really happy with the result. I've already had two people inquire about purchasing this piece, but right now it's not for sale. Since these are my first pieces, I'm quite attached to them.

Pre-cut Painted Texture of Cow SkullThis is a crummy iPhone picture that I took of the bone texture as I was about half way through painting it. This involves lots of color experimentation and adjusting during the process. I start with an idea of what I want it to look like, then let go as I'm making a texture. In this case, since I knew I was creating a skull, I made sure to include "cracks" and lighter and darker areas so that I could use them to create depth once I started cutting. Once I'm in the cutting and piecing together stage, it's sort of like making a "create as I go" puzzle. So, when I'm creating textures, I make sure to create room with lots of options of lights, darks and lines that I can use in true collage/mosaic form. I did the same thing to create the texture for the horns. corners and "mount." 

Detail of Skull on my Mosaic CollageAnd, here's a close up of how it looks in the collage once I've cut and pieced it together. I glue everything with archival quality glue. If you so desire, click on any of the pictures to view a larger version.

And yes, a third piece is in progress.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

In the wee hours of Monday night/Tuesday morning, I'd finally had it with my sleeping schedule being so messed up that I was still awake to see dawn turn the darkness into a purple twilight hue. Granted, I've been making good use of the time, but I'd just had enough of life as a vampire, sans the insatiable hunger for blood.

But first, before I continue this story, I want to bring attention to a wonderful thing that a dear reader Sue, did for me in the name of my recently departed and beloved cat, Scout. A little history here, is that I was lucky enough to "meet" Sue when she became one of Oliver's generous benefactors in response to my plea for help in paying his enormous vet bill after I rescued him from a hoarder neighbor. That story is here. Though I've only met Sue through the WWW (Wonderful World of the Web), I consider her a friend. She recently emailed me, letting me know that she gave a donation in Scout's name to the Nine Lives Foundation in Redwood City, CA near San Francisco. It's a no kill shelter that also has an inspiring and wonderful story about Christopher the Cat who was brought there after being hit by a car. Don't worry, it's an extremely inspiring and happy ending!

"I looked at their 'Wish List' on Amazon and noticed they desperately needed a small window air conditioner. I bought it for them and made the donation in memory of my little Minnie, Vesper (she belonged to my friend Bob), and your sweet little Scout."

How sweet is that? In return, I'm spreading the word about their organization. If you could, visit their site and if you're so moved, support them so there can be more stories like Christopher's. These people, and Christopher, do good work and a little goes a long way. And Sue, thank you so much for honoring Scout's memory in such a thoughtful, wonderful way.

Now, back to me being at Starbucks this early. Around 4:30 AM on Tuesday morning, I decided to help sleep along by taking a Tylenol PM. The dose calls for two, but I only took one. I fell asleep pretty easily, then woke up around 10:00 AM. After eating breakfast and checking email I felt tired and went back to sleep. From there, I slept off and on through all of Tuesday, with a brief waking time from 8:30 PM to 11:00 PM, then I went back to bed, and slept until 4:30 AM, and off and on until 6:20 AM this morning. Wide awake, I got up, showered, dried my hair and here I still sit in Starbucks after getting here around 7:15 AM. That was one heck of a pill. Thank God I didn't take two, or I'd be making this blog entry on Thursday morning. However, I'm glad it happened, because it puts me on a good course to right my sleeping schedule. When I walked in, the look on the Starbucks employees' faces was priceless, as they know me as a late afternoon, nighttime Starbucks person.

It's interesting seeing the place in the morning, and all the people that come in before work. It's extremely busy and a whole different, well awake vibe.

I'm in the process of creating my second art piece. Along with looking for full-time jobs, that is what I'd spend those night hours doing. I'm excited to see how it turns out. So far, so good. Again, I've been able to get into that wonderful zone where everything just feels right, and I know I'm creating something that can only come from me.

Upon paying my rent this month, I marked my five-year anniversary in Los Angeles, and living in my apartment. I never, ever thought I'd live in that apartment for so long, but the truth is, I love the place and I've made it my home. There are drawbacks to the building, sure, including the occasional douchebaggery from the NYFA students who live in the building. For the most part, nice kids, but many times they've had to be reminded that our building isn't a dorm. And, every time that I've even thought of moving, even just down the street, I'm overcome by dread at the thought of it.. Boxing everything up, moving, unpacking, and getting used to a new space. Not to mention, having to get to know all new neighbors. I was talking to one of my neighbors last night, who has lived in the building a long time with his brother, and he was saying that especially now that the world's worst neighbor is gone, as long as our core group stays here, things are good. I haven't told the story about being instrumental in getting a mentally ill, drug addicted, nuisance neighbor evicted, which has made it a lot more pleasant to live here. It's been probably six months since he was forced out, but neighbors still come up and thank me for that.

Aw, don't mention it.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Update: Just saw that the New York Times linked to my blog from this article. Look to the right of the article, I'm up there with The Huffington Post and Gothamist! Thank you to the NY Times editor who chose my blog as a source for your blogrunner!

On a previous post, I'd mentioned that I'd been taking yoga again at the same place where I'd had an unexpected creative breakthrough in writing ten years ago. I'd been talked into yoga by a friend and thought I was just going to get a good stretch out of it. I sure did, and my brain got one too. I also talked about my mindset in going into it this time.

"I haven't had that awesome creative breakthrough yet, but I'm not discouraged nor forcing it. I have a lot more life under my belt since then and things will take longer to undo. I'm patient and persistent, so I can only see good things coming. Since I've taken it back up, some "synchronicity" has occurred that has literally left me incredulous. I think those events are partly the result of putting myself in a situation to become a welcoming vessel, instead of one that is more guarded, as I've been with my hatches fully battened. I look forward to what it brings my way now that I have sent out the welcoming beacon."

What's wonderful about the wisdom to not force things, is what can bubble up to the surface. And this time it wasn't writing. It was visual. During those quiet times at the end of class, instead of a story breakthrough or motivation to write, I found this:

It happened over several experimental processes. A while back, I mentioned the time I discovered that I had synesthesia. It can come in many different forms, but in my case, I see sounds. All the time, every waking hour, for my entire life. It's been a huge influence in any creative undertaking that I do. As a result, I've always wanted to try to paint what I see. And, it was at those quiet on the back relaxation times during yoga at the end of class, as meditative ambient music played, that they'd particularly be clear and vivid.

So, I went for it. I bought acrylic paints, bristol board (a thick, archival paper) and began painting what I was seeing, whether it was through memory or the music that I was playing at the time. At first, it was a struggle to not only figure out how to represent what I hear/see in painted form, but then know what to do with these painted sounds. Sure, they were artwork by themselves, but there was more that I felt they could communicate. And that's where I honed in on passion, heart and the pieces that make up my "heart." Before I started painting the sounds, I'd been collecting and categorizing colors from magazines to make a collage. How wonderful to discover that my painted sounds, which came uniquely from me, could make up my collage instead. My CollageI cut two-inch square pieces of each "sound" painting and from there arranged, chose and cut the pieces to make up my heart. Then glued them into a heart shape. I titled it, "Pieces of my Heart." It was a wonderful experience, to have a creative vision flowing directly from my head to the paper. When I was doing it, there were many times that I noticed how right everything felt, including me. I got into a wonderful zone because I knew I was using skills that I was put here to use. Without sounding new agey, it really felt like I'd crossed a creative threshold to reach that coveted sweet spot that every writer, musician, artist wants to reach. That finally, I was in the moment, articulating a completely original piece in exactly the way that I wanted to in a visual form. And not only that, but I finished it.

I haven't switched this for my personal writing. On the contrary, I think it will benefit it. I also think it's going to infiltrate my professional writing as well to create visually. Here are some closer pictures of the heart so you can see the details of each painting that makes up the heart. Shannon was kind enough to take these pictures for me.

Detail of Collage Heart
Here's a closer look at the collage, "Pieces of my Heart." You can click on the image to view it larger. Depending on the light and where you are standing, the colors can appear to change hue. You can see even in these photos how the colors can differ. I call this a collage, since I pasted the pieces down, but I also tapped into mosaic principles as well.

Detail of Collage Heart Painted piecesThis angle illustrates the texture of the pieces. I glued them down with archival adhesive on a background that I painted. When I was designing the heart, I wanted to communicate by using colors and textures the emotions and life experiences that imprint on our hearts. I am very happy with the result of this first experiment and have started my next collage. I plan to do a series of heart pieces, but am not sure if that's going to be my next collage subject. But like this first piece, it won't be forced and my expectations are as open as they were when I started this one.

I look forward to seeing what comes next.

Friday, April 20, 2012

First, I want to thank everyone who wrote me such sweet notes after I posted about losing Scout. I still miss her but the raw hurt has lessened. I was very touched by all your condolences and stories of beloved pets that you have lost. I have her home with me now, her ashes in a pretty urn on the bookcase right next to my desk. The urn is one that holds a picture, and it also has a plaque with her name and "In Loving Memory" engraved on it. It's a comfort to me that she's still near. In fact, I just looked over to her now. One of my dear readers (you know who you are) even sent me an Edible Arrangement with balloons. Those balloons are still floating on my ceiling. I'm continually in awe of the thoughtfulness and good in people. Thank you all for reminding me of that silver lining.

With Scout no longer with me, I had to get used to just having boy kitties, as it IS a different dynamic. It's almost as if I had to get to know them again, because they were dealing with a sort of loss as well. But now, the apple cart has been put back right and the contents seem to have settled.

I wrote another article for Reign that you can read here, about famous scenes in the movies where lingerie plays a part. I won't tell you which one I picked for my first installment of the series, as we'll see if it's the first one that came to your mind!

Anne-gelenoOh yeah, I've made it into the big time. Actually, this was taken at a charity event called Men of Style at Saks Fifth Avenue, sponsored by Angeleno Magazine. I volunteered my time for the good cause and worked at a photo booth there that produced these magazine cover shots. It's always a lot of fun, and the people are always an interesting bunch. The people that I work with are fun, too. Brian Kramer, the photographer who runs the photo booth, does a lot of these high-end gigs, and several pro bono for charity as well. Also on hand that night were Shannon and another photographer. Many crass jokes and laughs were had between us all.

Before the event, I drove up to the store's parking structure. A parking attendant was doing his best to direct traffic to the right parking lot and told the people behind me to back up so I could back out and park in the lot across the street. Everyone else got it, except for the woman in a white Acura or Honda directly behind me who didn't pay attention to his instructions. That's when I heard a decidedly loud crunch. She had backed right into a parked car, narrowly missing a McLaren that was waiting to pull into the valet area. Yes, I said a McLaren, which starts at a base of a quarter million dollars. The one that she almost hit was probably another $100K because it was a show car that was there for the event. I know, because I asked the nice McLaren people.

After swallowing my heart back into my chest from where it had lodged in my throat, I waited as the woman whined to the attendant, "But what about MY car? Is it damaged?" It was, with a pretty mean looking gouge on her bumper. The other car, luckily for her, was not. As we all waited, not giving an airborne intercourse about the damage she caused to her car, she sat there looking put out and helpless, holding everyone up. That is, until I lowered my window and snapped, "You need to move forward so the rest of us can go."

I wasn't asking.

The attendant looked at me gratefully, and she pulled forward, thankfully not hitting anyone else. I'm usually the most mellow driver, (that is, unless I get the urge to open up and feel the power of my beloved Volvo C30 T5S) but she just irked me with her idiocy and petty selfishness.

Speaking of temptations to open up on the road, just take a look at this thankfully unmolested beauty.

McLaren MP4

I've been busy with some interesting personal creative undertakings and just finished my first piece. When I get a decent picture of it, I'll post it and write about it.

Until then...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My sweet ScoutI had to wait until I was ready to post this, as it's taken a while to process it.

Scout my, beloved sixteen-year-old tortie, crossed the Rainbow Bridge on February 16, 2012 at 4:50PM. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through, and I miss her so very much. She came into my life when a woman I worked with sent an office-wide email titled, "Sweet kitty needs a home." In the email, she explained that a cat around one or two years old had been abandoned by her callous, previous owner in an apartment. Apparently, it was a couple who moved, and the boyfriend returned with Scout and left her there in the empty apartment. The girl, who also gets a twat award, is just as guilty. If a guy did that with one of my cats, I'd immediately return to get her and kick the POS boyfriend out. Anyway, I responded, and during lunch, the woman who posted the email drove me through torrential downpour to meet the cat. Turns out she was two streets over from me in the Hollywood Hills. Despite her ordeal, Scout had been lucky. Along with my coworker spreading the word to find her a home, another neighbor who was a renowned animal behaviorist had seen her plight and took her in. However, she couldn't keep her. She'd already bought toys, a litter box and bed for her, and was keeping her in a large, carpeted, comfortable cage in her garage. I met the sweet woman who took me to a beautiful, dainty tortoise shell cat who meowed at me when I walked toward her. Against a sound backdrop of thunderous rain, I pet her, and that sweet little cat and I became instant friends. That night after work, I picked her up and took her home, and for sixteen years she was my loving, sweet kitty.

Scout, Asleep in a HutchA little over a year ago, she was diagnosed with kidney failure and since then, though certainly slowing down because of age, had been doing fine with a diet of prescription food. A few weeks ago, I noticed she was rapidly losing weight and wobbly on her back legs. I took her to the vet and got the devastating news that her kidneys were shutting down. With Scout's comfort and quality of life at the forefront, the vet gave me the options. Aggressive treatment, which would not guarantee anything and perhaps diminish her quality of life, home care, which included giving her fluids subcutaneously once a day, or letting her go. Through tears, I asked the vet what she would do, and she suggested to go with the home care option. She made sure that I understood that both treatment options would only prolong her life for a few months at best.

Scout on my TT back in 2001I chose the home care, which involved sticking an IV under her skin to administer the fluids. For a couple days, she seemed to perk up. Then on the third day, which was a day before her follow-up vet appointment, she quit eating, peed constantly and became wobbly again. She also peed on her pillow, which she'd never done before. It was just water, with no color or odor to it at all. This meant that her body wasn't absorbing the fluids. The next day, I placed her on a towel in my car and took her to the vet. When I walked inside the lobby, holding Scout in her towel, she peed on the floor. It was then that I was about 90% sure that I'd be saying goodbye. After washing my hands and bathing Scout with damp paper towels, I returned to the lobby and waited for my appointment, Scout in my lap. I put on a brave face with a man who was paying his bill and thought his puppy had peed on the floor. I'd already told the vet assistants, and told the man that it wasn't his puppy. I then joked to Scout, "We should have let the dog take the rap." As if on cue, the puppy did one of those adorable dog poses, flattening himself on his tummy, head between paws. "See? He even looks guilty," I said. The man, who was laughing with me, had no idea of what our situation was. Neither did the vet assistants, who kindly cleaned up the floor.

Scout my tortieAfter the man left, I couldn't hold back the tears anymore. I sat in the lobby and cradled Scout, scratching the back of her head and keeping her warm and comfortable in her towel. I spoke to her softly, and the vet assistants, three sweet girls in their 20s, noticed and figured it out. I won't go into the detail here, but after the vet did one more blood test and saw she'd lost weight, it was clear that Scout was wasn't enjoying a good quality of life. I believed that by quitting eating, she was letting me know.

Because of an emergency that came into the vet, I got a long time to sit in the room and love her, scratch her ears and cuddle her. The vet, who was so sweet and sensitive, checked in on us and looking at Scout in my lap said, "She's really bonded to you." She apologized for the emergency taking her away, and I told her that of course an emergency took precedence and not to worry about us. It was more time for me to sit with Scout and talk to her. I told her how much I loved her and how special she was. I thanked her for letting me take care of her and for making me a better person. I said that I hoped she had a happy life, because she'd added so much happiness to mine. I thanked her for the laughs, friendship, and love, and for always cuddling up to me when I slept. I named all the people whose lives she touched and that they all knew how special she was and loved her. That she mattered. And, so much more. We got 20 private minutes together and I'll treasure that time always. The vet couldn't have been more sensitive, loving and caring toward both Scout and me. When the time came, Scout went peacefully and surrounded by love and tenderness.

A princess on her pillowThat night, I decided to go to yoga but only lasted forty-five minutes until I had to roll up my mat and leave. I apologized to the teacher, saying I had to leave early, and exited the large studio. I walked down the stairs and took a seat on a bench on the landing half way down. One of the women who works there passed by, spritzing a lavender air freshener. She saw me and asked if I'd had a good class. I explained that I had to leave early, and of course the waterworks started. I briefly described why, then said that I felt that going to yoga was better than being home and sitting with it. Yet, I didn't want to freak out the other students by bursting into tears. She was a stranger, and could have backed away from my sudden emotion and tears, but she didn't. "The pain lessens," she said, and told me that she'd had to do the same with her dog a few years ago. As traffic and pedestrian noise from outside floated up the stairs and mixed with the teacher's instructions and music floating down, she said, "You'll always miss them, but over time the good memories of them start to replace the pain."

Indeed, they will. Scout would expect no less of me.

Scout on the roadScout, you were a beautiful friend with such an incredible spirit. My mom called you an exceptional cat, and you really were. We had many adventures together, including two road trips across country, one with my dad. You were such a brave, bold girl who lived up to her name. I'll treasure our walks we took together when I lived in West Hollywood, much to the amusement of the gay men who were amazed that you'd follow me, your collar jingling in time with your gait. I loved how you figured out how to jump from the second story balcony into a tree and use the branches and rooftops to navigate the neighborhood. That proud moment when I heard a man exclaim, "That cat just jumped from the balcony into that tree!" And the smug answer of my neighbor, "I know, she does that all the time." I loved how you'd wait for me by the front door and even before I'd gotten out of my car, you knew it was me and meowed loudly and excitedly, chattering at me as I walked toward you, up the stairs and not stopping until that key went into the door. Again, amusing passers by. You invited yourself into neighbor's houses, even before I'd met them, and became such a part of their lives that their mothers brought them treats to give to you. You were always such a presence and brought joy to those who you met. And ironically, with your name chosen from the novel because you so reminded me of that precocious, smart, observant, spirited and independent Scout, you killed a few Mockingbirds, but they started it with their trash talk.

Here are just some of those happy memories:

Scout in my apartment in Baltimore.

In my apartment in Toluca Lake, Scout sits next to my iron kitty doorstop enjoying the beautiful day, May, 2011.

Scout in Little Rock, Arkansas at my Aunt and Uncle's house, during my road trip from Los Angeles to Baltimore. Beside her is her kitty bed that I took along. Of course, she chose my suitcase as her bed.

My brave little flower face
Back in Los Angeles, my sweet girl wearing the Cone of Shame, after an operation on her backside. The story is here.

If you build it, they will climb. Scout and Atticus on a ladder seconds after I placed it in my living room to change a light bulb. I had twelve-foot ceilings in my apartment in Baltimore.

Scout in 2008
Scout in my Toluca Lake apartment, photo taken by Shannon Treglia in 2008.

I love you Scout. Thank you for being such a beautiful friend.