Tuesday, January 16, 2018

My apologies for the old posts showing up as new. I was making some of them live again, and well, because I either corrected a typo or deleted an obsolete link, Blogger decided to make them new posts instead of posting them in chronological order, which would have put them in 2003.

So no, you didn't fall through a time warp.

I'm also sorry for those of you who are on feeds and thought there may have been a new post when there wasn't. I did have a nice post about taking up figure skating. However, Blogger ate it when I was using the "undo" function. It was a nice long post, too. With pictures. However, like most of my posts lately, they take way too long to write and languish in the "Draft" stage for way too long.

Perhaps I'll start a new blog about that endeavor, as it's been an a wonderful experience. I think I just figured out why it's been so hard to post on this one. I feel that it's loaded with so much baggage, and when I write, I honestly can feel the weight of it. I started blogging in 2001, but started this blog in 2002. It is a literal, that word actually is used correctly here, connection to things from those years. There is a lot that while I know is valid part of my odd journey, that it just isn't where I am anymore. I also have changed a lot when it comes to perspective, handling things, what I consider successes and things that need to be in the past. There is a lot to mine from this blog as far as my take on this thing called life, and I'm going to do that.

I guess in deleting that post, Blogger was trying to tell me something. That my work may be done here. Not on blogging, but on Anne...straight from the hip. And, that the piece I was writing didn't belong here.

If I do decide to create another blog, I'll link to it from here.

Friday, October 14, 2016

As I write this, the apartment three doors down from me in my building sits quiet. Inside it, blood, sadness and worse stain the closet walls and floor. As the blood still dries, my whole building, a two-story, courtyard structure, where all doors face the pool area and are many times open, is as quiet as I've ever heard it. The doors are closed, TVs are quiet, conversations hushed or non-existent, and there is no foot traffic.

I was at work when the police cars arrived around noon, and men armored in swat gear with their guns raised and ready, snuck through our pool area and quietly knocked on the window of one of my neighbors who was home. After they got over their shock, he asked them about the man in the apartment across from them. They said they knew him by first name only. An officer stayed with them as the others banged on the door. No answer. The officer, who was also holding a shield, then told them to shelter in their kitchen after the building owner arrived with the keys.

I got a text at around 2 PM from my upstairs neighbor telling me that our neighbor had killed himself inside his apartment. As I sat in my cushy job in my luxury office building, there was a full investigation going on in our little close-knit building. Crime tape, forensics investigators, and eventually the coroner were soon to follow. People in the neighborhood were Tweeting about it, asking a local news blogger what was happening on our corner. Warner Bros Studios and their offices are across the street, I can imagine the faces pressed to glass as the activity unfolded front stage and center for them.

As her news sunk in, I checked the man's Facebook page, knowing he didn't have any privacy settings. It was there that I learned he hadn't acted rashly, but that he'd committed pre-meditated murder of himself. His last post was a suicide note, where he detailed his dissatisfaction with his life, finances, career, and that he was tired. He stated that several times, "I'm tired." He was down to seeing his teenage daughter once a month due to his ex-wife, with whom he had a contentious relationship, moving further away with her second husband. A second husband, this man had told me, who hated him with a passion. He wrote that he'd been thinking of ending his life for a few weeks, and had stolen a friend's gun and five hollow point bullets. He ended his post with, "SO I got the gun, loaded it up, and blew my head off." Yes, that was the tense he used, as if he'd already done it and was recalling it from the other side. Because, unbeknownst yet to the people who saw his post, he already had. In the comments under his post, I read as his friends tried desperately to figure out if he was okay. I sat there with the answer, but it was not my place to deliver it.

When I got home from work, the building was silent. I forced myself to look at the man's door. Had I not been texted at work I wouldn't have known anything had happened, except for the too silent silence. The neighbor who had the police knock on her door had removed the crime scene tape after everyone left, feeling it was insensitive to what had occurred. His next door neighbor, an unflappable guy who works on the Conan O'Brien show, came outside with a friend. We met eyes, his face fatigued from a collection of muscle movements as he had processed the day's events. We spoke. He hadn't heard the shot. We live in an older building, and sounds don't travel from side to side, because of the good quality of the plaster walls. However, I later found out that he had shot himself in his closet, which explains even more why he might not have heard it. I like to think that's because even in his state, he didn't want to risk the bullet hitting anyone else.

This man was someone who in the last few months I'd kept at an arm's distance, the few conversations I had with him revealed that he was simmering close to the brim. He wasn't a bad person--far from it, and wasn't outwardly hostile, but it was clear to me that he was troubled and harbored deep anger. A few months ago, he showed alarming symptoms of this when it was communicated to him by apt management (a dumb move from a rookie, not the landlord) that I'd asked that he be told not to leave the front door of the building wide open all day, every day, as it was a security risk and advertisement to thieves. He irrationally overreacted, then profusely apologized. However, it was enough for me to establish a boundary with him, and I told him upfront that was the case and why. A friendly boundary, but a boundary. I also know that the span of his life when I encountered him, that I wasn't seeing him at his best. I was seeing him, now I can say with a good degree of confidence, at his unraveling and at his worst. So I know, and want to state, that the person I described is not a summarization of who he was as a whole.

From what I knew of him, he was a talented pianist and keyboardist who had worked in various aspects of the music industry. He was a recovered/ing alcoholic (I don't know the proper term for someone who is now sober, no mean feat). At 19, he had come here from Vancouver to be a musician, but never really broke in or made a name for himself. He was 58 years old, and from what his friends posted, he was talented at keyboards and songwriting. I think of that 19-year-old, who had no idea that 40 years later, the events that would become his life in the town he was looking at with such potential and promise, would drive him to such an act.

So, now I sit in my quiet building, in my quiet apartment with the aftershocks of a desperate act silencing the walls around it. That silence, that fills the vacuum after something loud and violent has intruded on an ordinary day.

I'm finishing this post three days later on a Friday, halfway through the work day, on my way to a much-anticipated weekend. That night, "The Night Of," I didn't sleep well, thinking of what was just a few doors down. The remnants. I'd wake, and in my half sleep haze would wonder if his ghost was lost and wandering around, confused at what had happened. If that ghost hoped that what he'd done was just a dream and now he was glad to be alive. Or, did he know and was walking around with regret?

I hope he found the peace he was looking for. I'll end this post with a apt sentiment one of his friends posted on his Facebook page, "A good man was lost today to depression, he sunk, and couldn't bring himself back to light... So he became light."



Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Happy Birthday to me.

My awesome friend Shannon took the left side of the photo of me in 1997, and we recreated it in the same place, almost 20 years later.


How do you like them apples?


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I wrote this before my birthday post, but am just getting around to finishing it now.

Baltimore.

Back in Baltimore at my old Starbucks. How many hours did I spend here writing, talking, getting to know the people and families of the workers and regulars. Or, sitting here working on the show bible from "The Wire," my first time having taken on such a task of documenting the characters, story lines, locations, and every single thing of an entire season of a TV show. Checking again and again, wanting to get it right. I hadn't been here ten minutes when I was asked for my number by a would-be suitor. I politely declined. Sorry, Sam.

I'm here while my mom takes her water aerobics class in the pool that Michael Phelps trained in and from what Sam told me, now owns. It was also used to have an ice rink, which is where this hilarity occured. Last time I was here, I frolicked in the huge jacuzzi while mom took her class in the small pool. When she was finished, I went with her and her classmates to the locker room and a flood of memories of being a competitive swimmer came back. Teenage girls built like Amazonian water goddesses walked about, changing from high school clothes into racing suits. When I was getting dressed, one of them, who had to be almost six feet tall, exited a bathroom stall, naked and completely at ease as if she were fully clothed. As she washed her hands, across the mirror, wearing only what she came into this world with, it reminded me when I used to do the same thing as a competitive swimmer, and the freedom of it. When you are in a sport, especially intensely over several years, your body is a tool that you are training, fine-tuning and preparing for battle. Thus, any inhibitions disappear. Seeing that girl breeze by me like that brought it all back. I'd forgotten some of those intricacies of the girl who lives inside my past, and it was good to remember them. And, her.

Unlike everyone else, I'm enjoying the humid weather here. I'm also hoping for a couple good thunderstorms. I even moved to an outside table so my body and hair can soak it in. It's been dry as a bone in California, and the wildfires are making it worse, filling the skies with smoke and ash. I took this photo of the sky, which doesn't do it justice. The sun was blood orange, and those are not clouds but smoke and ash. I'm sitting outside Last night, we had dinner at B, an awesome restaurant in my mom's neighborhood.

      

It's the next day, and after accompanying my mom to her church to meet the group that she volunteers with and the clients they serve, offering clothes, counseling, food and other services, I walked to the coffee shop in my mom's neighborhood. Sporadic big, fat raindrops plopped on my skin and slapped the sidewalk. I crossed paths with a woman walking her dog, and she said in African-American jubilance, "I love this rain, feels so good!" I shared her sentiments. Living in a state that's been in a drought for years, boy have I missed the rain. We've gotten some spates of it, but it's rain that's just passin' through. When I moved here, I wrote about the difference in the rain on the west coast and in a place like Baltimore, where rain has had practice being rain. I miss rain, and as it is also humid here, the walk was even more pleasant. Severe thunderstorms are in the forecast for later this afternoon. Oh, let's hope so. The lack of rain and real weather in California will be what eventually drives me away from there. As an artist, writer, and synesthete, there is nothing for me at least, that compares to the inspiration that rain, thunder and approaching storms can deliver. I've been here for nine years, on top of another eight when I lived here the first time. Though Los Angeles has been awesome for me and I've had experiences, access, privileges, and accomplished things professionally that I couldn't anywhere else, the rarity of rain, wonderfully puffy clouds, wind, and even overcast days is starting to matter more and more. The movement of nature instead of it being just a backdrop. When Los Angeles gets these things, it's gorgeous, but it's too few and far between.

As for those thunderstorms I was hoping for. I got them. One while still at my mom's place, and even more that kept my flight on the tarmac for two hours. American Airlines handled it well though, passing out free snacks for us and letting people walk around on the plane. The flight attendants kept people calm and the pilots did a great job keeping us informed and being honest with us about status of us actually getting to take off. I had another source, a high school classmate of mine who is now a meteorologist at 


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Originally written on April 9th:

Perhaps it's the rainy weather today mixed with the ambient indie rock that Priscilla's Coffee Shop is playing, but I'm feeling the need to emote today.

Across the street tonight, the MTV Movie awards will be held for the first time at Warner Bros Studios. Should be interesting. Fireworks and loud music will be involved. I'm down with that. Get down with your bad selves, Hollywood.

I've had a new job for about five weeks and really like it as well as the folks I work with. Interestingly enough, it's not really a writing job, but more of a research, proofreading and content quality job. When I interviewed for it, I was ambivalent about this kind of a role, not being creative or copywriting. However, it has two things going for it. It pays incredibly well. And I mean, a lot. And, it's an 18-month contract. Most important, even more so than the money and stability, is that when I spoke to the person I'd be working for, he was smart, pop-culture savvy and funny. Then, the interview went well and I got the call that they wanted me for the job. So, I put my feet into third position and took a glissade of faith.

And, I've landed well. So, here's the great thing about it that was a pleasant surprise. I've gotten further on the actual story plotting of my book in this last five weeks than I have in years. And, good story plotting.

Because the job is in the business district of downtown Los Angeles, every comfort is provided. Along with luxe buildings, great food courts, every convenience imaginable, it's steps from the Metropolitan Museum of Contemporary Art, The Broad, and Disney Symphony Hall, and top restaurants. And, a choice of lively, yet secluded places that I can write during my lunch hour. Including, the MOCA plaza where I took this selfie. Like my patterns?

Since my job is not a writing one, per se, yet uses the same muscles, once I sit down to write I'm primed like a dancer who has just properly warmed up for class. (Yes, I'm all about the dance metaphors today. Got a problem with that?) And, because I'm limited to an hour, I'm incredibly focused on the task. Another perk I did not see coming. It's made me excited and happy about writing again. Even better, the three novel classes I'd taken last year laid down a fantastic foundation from which to build.

One more thing, is that I can take the LA Metro to and from work, which means my commute is stress free. Though I'm a chill driver, I like the freedom of being carless. Don't have to worry about parking, timing, or be at the whim of traffic. I have a ten-minute drive through my pretty neighborhood, park in Metro parking, and walk a nice walk to what I call the Hogwarts Express. Why? Because my stop is also the stop for Universal Studios, which just opened the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park this week. However, if a zombie apocalypse breaks out, I have a feeling that those of us on the Metro are going to be pretty screwed.

Speaking of Hollywood, before I started this job, I worked at a great event with my friend Brian Kramer, a top photographer in Los Angeles. One of his services is event photography, mostly for high-end entertainment or chichi corporate events. In this case, it was for the show "Scandal," where the entire cast, in costume, poses for pictures with the crew on the set of the oval office. Brian photographs, and on site in real-time, we printed four hundred 8x10 glossy photos and put them in nice folders to give to the cast and crew. It's something they do every year, courtesy of one of the main producers of the show. I've worked several events with Brian, because they are fun and he's fun. And, you end up with things like this:


Yes, that's me in the middle of the cast of "Scandal" on the oval office set, standing with the entire cast and next to the gorgeous Kerry Washington. The woman in the maroon shirt is Justine, who was also part of the photo booth crew. Talk about someone who is smart as a whip and calm as can be under pressure. Brian, standing to Justine's right in the black shirt, is the photographer and owner of the booth.

Another wonderful experience was that I got to go all House Stark. I met a real, live 100% wolf. One of the crew members had a pet wolf that also served as his therapy animal. He was kind enough to take my photo with him. He and friends had rescued wild cubs along with the mother. I can't remember what the circumstances were, but apparently they were not in a good situation. For those of you who think that wolves are just like dogs, just look at the size of this magnificent animal, who was the runt of the litter. Look at his feet, and look at my feet. That should tell you something. He was fascinating to watch as he loped around the set.

Well, I keep putting off hitting the "publish" button, so now is as good a time as any.




Monday, October 12, 2015

I visited Pet Mania, the pet store that I've been going to for over twenty years, where I adopted Atticus and Ronan, and it will be one of my last times in this location. The owners, faced with an enormous hike in rent, are having to close and find a new location. As of now, that new location is unknown. Their last day of sales is tomorrow and then they will be packing up.

It's another loss that I've faced in the last three months after losing my full-time job at the closure of my company. This one has hit me hard. So many memories in that location, and the good that the current owners brought to that little corner near my apartment resonated far beyond it. They welcomed me in and became a part of my life, and, let me become a part of theirs. Even once, asking me to drive their two teenage daughters to the Hollywood Bowl for a concert. I felt like such a mom, and was touched that they considered me to be trustworthy enough for such a task.

I was thrilled that such caring, selfless, conscientious people had taken over the store from an owner who maybe had good intentions at one time, but had let it fall into filth, hired an unfriendly staff or kept ones that should have been fired long ago, and the rescue animals weren't as cared for as they could have been. The new owners had their work cut out for them and were up against the damaged reputation that the previous owner had left in her wake.

But, they were up for the challenge. They resuscitated that place, spit shined it and made it the gem that it is today. They told the surly employees to shape up or they shipped them out, but even that was done with compassion and care, and, they raised the quality of care for their animals to where it should have been. They have rescued thousands of animals, and more than a few human souls that either needed a place to visit each day where they'd get a friendly smile, or to enrich their lives with an animal companion in need of a home.

It's a huge loss for that corner, and all because of greed of a landlord who could care less what goes in there, and whether it enhances the community or not. They just care that their hiked rent is paid every month. I know that prices rise for landlords too, and that they are in their business to make money like any business. But this is just pure greed.

Pet Mania opened a Go Fund Me to help cover costs of the move, and if anyone deserves a helping hand, these folks do. The amount they are asking for pales in comparison to the positive things they brought, and once in their new location, will continue to bring to the lives of countless people and animals. They want to continue and expand on their rescue operation, and this will help them do it. If you love animals and the people who help them, think of giving them a leg up with a donation.




Sunday, August 02, 2015

Oliver Update: More great news! First, thanks to you wonderful people, Oliver's fundraising goal has been met! In just under 20 days, the $1440 needed was raised and I can't thank you enough. Actually, about 80% of it was raised in just a few days. I started the drive on Facebook, then mentioned it on here. In events like this, I'm always so touched by the good and generous nature of people. This includes those who were willing to stop for a second and wish Oliver a speedy recovery or include him in your prayers. Thank you. It matters, as it is a defiant statement to all of the negative things we hear about the human race on a daily basis. My birthday is in half an hour. I can't imagine a better present. 


Before the company I worked for folded, and other times when I can, I stand among you and contribute in making that defiant statement through my own gifts. There's nothing better, and I hope by knowing you helped make one bad situation better, and contributed to healing so much more than a cat, you understand how big of a deal that is. 

For those of you that wonder what I'm talking about, here is the post about Oliver's ordeal


Exhibit One
Now, onto his progress. The big lug of love continues to improve. He's able to jump up on my bed, so he's back to sleeping on my head. See exhibit one at right: This includes placing a big paw on my cheek to position me to what suits HIM best.  
And, he can climb into the tub, which is great because he has a triple coat and it's been hot and humid, even with the AC on. He still has a little difficulty with that, but he's working it out. and is taking his medicine like a champ


He's also getting around much better, without the stumbles. He opened up a nice can of whoop ass on Ronan when the latter started a wrestling match. He still has a wobble in his gait but it doesn't hinder him nearly as much as it did a week ago. He may be my big cowardly lion, but damn, he's a fighter when it counts. He has a strength and stoicism that surfaces from underneath that goofy, cowardly exterior. 

Oh, and the big guy wanted me to send you a message--that you all rock.

It's now six minutes until my birthday. Signing off.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Not to be upstaged by Oliver, I turned around to see Ronan lying on the couch like this.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014


I took this photo of Oliver copping a big grin and just had to share. Hopefully he'll inspire you to smile back. I just love this big lovable goof of fur so much.

Say cheese!

Friday, September 19, 2014

September brings a lot of changes. One of those changes is that last Wednesday was my last day at Disney. Yes, you read that right. I'm leaving a company, job, coworkers and boss that I adore. Unlike my last stint with Disney, where I tried my darnedest to get hired full-time at the end of my 18-month contract, this time it's of my own doing after only seven months. When I took the job, I had no intention to leave before my 18-month contract ended. Like I'd mentioned in a previous post, I was over the moon about being back.

There are so many highlights from that job that it will be hard to include all of them, like hearing my words spoken by well-known actors during recording sessions for our apps. So cool to hear the guy who trained Harrison Ford to use a whip for Indiana Jones, reciting my words with verve, intent and character in the recording studio. Or, see Mandy Moore voice a great "yee-haw!" for our Sheriff Callie app, because we decided it needed to be there. And, for our Doc McStuffins app, to watch the wonderful Loretta Divine voice Hallie, again, with some lines that I'd written, and the hilarious Robbie Rist bring the lines that I'd written for Stuffy alive. It was my history of movies and television, and this time I wasn't just a passive viewer or window-dressing wordsmith in a marketing-driven environment, but a part of creating the product. And the perks of working for such a great company, like summer carnivals, Star Wars Day and Earth Day festivals right on campus cannot go unmentioned. Also, my coworkers were stunningly talented artists, designers, animators, sound designers, composers, producers. C'mon... it's Disney. Most important of all, a group of great people who had an awesome sense of humor.
Me and stormtroopers, Star Wars Day. May the Fourth be with you.

Thankfully, my boss at Disney was not only understanding, but excited for me. She'd told me from day one that if I found something full-time, to pursue it. Still, it was hard to tell her. She was an awesome boss and I learned a lot from her. Smart as hell, too. I also really liked the other two editors that were in our department. Great guys, one who was named after Superman. No, not Clark Kent, but his Krypton name. His father is a renowned comic book artist and he's got an incredible ear for storytelling. The other editor writes graphic novels and is also from Kansas. How cool is that?

My impending departure had me sad for the last week and a half, but I had the distraction of making sure people have the files they need, that my tasks are completed and that my exit leaves no unfinished seams for my coworkers to have to sew up. I was dreading the "last week," as I always do when it comes to hearing the hiss of the air brakes being released on the wheels of change and feeling that first forward movement. When going through change, I tend to hold my emotions close to the vest, and it can appear that I'm pulling away, when really I'm just taking everything and everyone in. And of course, processing my choice. I fear that I can appear cold or detached, when that is exactly the opposite of what is happening.

I made the decision to leave my coveted Disney job to take a full-time job at a promising "disruptor" start-up that strives to be the "Uber" of mortgage lending. A long-time friend had been gently, and after a month or so, not so gently recruiting me to join them. Upon her urging, I met with the founders and heads of departments, and was extremely impressed with their product and their outlook on why this industry is rife for disruption. The professional landscape has changed, with more people being self-employed, contractors, business owners and so on, which has changed what makes up a viable borrower. However, because of the banks self-imposed lending crisis, those professionals, who don't fit the government-backed banks' strict and outdated qualification parameters, are left out of the dream of being a homeowner. Oh, I am SO all over that.

The company appeals to my rebel side being a disruptor, my entrepreneurial side to be a part of building a business, and I count myself and my friends among those very people that they are targeting. It fills a cavernous hole left by the housing crisis, providing loans to high-quality borrowers who don't fit into the traditional income mold. And, has serious backing by the likes of Spark Capitol, who backed a few small start-ups that also had promise, including a couple you may have heard of called Twitter and Tumbler.

I'm about to finish my first week of the new job, and it's been great. I really enjoy the work, they have a great industrial space in Pasadena, a fun and positive startup vibe, and the people are smart and work well together. And, the feeling that we're onto something great charges the air. People are excited. Plus, I'm really enjoying working for someone who is not only a friend, but a professional whom I respect, and who always gets the best work out of me.

For lack of a better way to put it, this felt like a very empowered, adult decision. Not boring adult, but well, just adult. I'm a full-time employee, make a lot more money and I received equity in the company. I can't even begin to say how good that feels. I'm still catching up from my almost year of being out of regular full-time work a couple years ago after my first 18-month contract with Disney ended, and I'm impatient to get ahead again.

However, there's one very treacherous discovery I've made. The Pasadena Antique Mall is right next door. I'm doomed.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Like so many, I was shocked and saddened upon hearing the news that Robin Williams took his own life. It was almost as if with that knowledge, came a tarnish that washed over everything and made it less vibrant. I learned about it at work when a coworker came to my desk and asked me if I'd heard. First thing I did, like everyone else near a computer, was check to see if it was a hoax. It wasn't. Robin Williams had died alone by his own hand believing the lie that depression was telling him--that death was the only way out.

As news feeds or texts reached phones, iPads and computers, or coworkers reached each other's desks spreading the sad news, a hush gradually sank over the office like an encroaching fog bank. I work for a major entertainment company, one where Robin Williams had created iconic, beloved characters. Some of my coworkers were even lucky enough to have worked with him at a point in their careers. But, I knew the hush wasn't just because we were an entertainment company with thousands of tendrils that reached deep, far and wide into the entertainment industry. That hush that came over us was happening in other offices, coffee shops, homes, stores, schools and anywhere else where the news was becoming known. The reason, was that Robin Williams wasn't just entertainment. He was a part of us. He was our friend, psychologist, teacher, parent, schoolmate, and class clown who was always good for a laugh when we needed it. He was joy, surprise, understanding and for all of us who felt like we walk outside the fray, comfort in his fearless expression. It was as if he was able to reach inside all of us who felt we had things that made us "weird" and make it not just funny, but acceptable and likable. That is something that goes beyond talent.

What especially hit hard for me was how he died. That he had chosen it. That the weight of depression had finally become too heavy for him to lift and make funny. I couldn't help thinking, that if a genius like Robin Williams couldn't push past it, could anyone? What kind of world was this if Robin Williams didn't want to live in it anymore? I know intellectually that his reasons as well as illness go much deeper than that, but emotionally that's where it hit.

On my drive home from work, I was stopped at a long light and turned up the radio. I had it tuned to 106.7 where the song "Under the Bridge" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers was playing. Even though I'd heard it hundreds of times before, it was as if I was hearing it for the first time. I sat and wondered how many people were like me, sitting in their car at a red light, hands slackening on the steering wheel as their eyes relaxed into a haze, taking in every word of the lyrics and trying to comprehend their sadness.

"It's hard to believe
That there's nobody out there
It's hard to believe
That I'm all alone...


I don't ever want to feel
Like I did that day
Take me to the place I love
Take me all that way..."


When the song was over, the DJ came on and answered my question. Through a barely composed voice, she said, "Amazing how a song can feel so different depending on what's going on in the world, and even though I've heard it so many times, hearing it now feels so different with today's sad news."

So no, I wasn't alone in my reflection during Anthony Kiedis's lament. The light changed, we all drove forward to wherever we were going. When I got home, I avoided the television and radio as much as I could, and stuck to checking the web every now and then. Mostly Facebook, reading my friends reactions and reflections. This one was hitting everyone hard.

That night, I watched "Under the Dome," and at the end of the episode, a melancholy, beautiful song played over a montage that perfectly captured the pallor of the day, and what I was personally feeling. I opened the Shazam app and held up my phone, the icon pulsed as it listened and revealed that the song was Coldplay's "Midnight." I downloaded the song at once, and later that night when I was in bed, illuminated only by the light of my phone, I played it. I listened to the lyrics as I looked at the song's cover art displayed on my phone. Two loosely drawn angel wings, so poignant.

"In the darkness before the dawn
In the swirling of the storm
When I'm rolling with the punches, and hope is gone
Leave a light, a light on...

 
Millions of miles from home
In the swirling, swimming on
When I'm rolling with the thunder but bleed from thorns
Leave a light, a light on
Leave a light, a light on..." 


And, that is when my tears came for Robin Williams, and for the sadness that he couldn't keep at bay. For my understanding of that sadness, having had nasty bouts of depression myself. For the shocked rest of us when someone we know decides to take matters into their own hands rather than trust us enough to help them through their darkest hour. For the phone call that makes our knee caps go numb and weakness ricochet in our legs. For the hair-trigger emotional echoes that surface years later.

However, as I've reflected more on Robin Williams' suicide, I've decided to honor him by remembering the years that he did win the battle over his sadness and not let his suicide overshadow how much that man made us laugh. And oh my God, did he make us laugh.

 So Robin, by remembering you with laughter and not sadness, we leave a light on.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Happy birthday to me.

Oliver decided to celebrate my birthday by well, being Oliver. I came home to see him happily lying across my desk, as well as what I was working on.


I start this year with a choice being presented to me, one that I will be acting on this week. It's been hard, because as a friend told me, it is a "problem of plenty." Meaning, I'm making this choice not because I have to, but because I have to choose which is the better one for me in the long run. I can't be more specific than that. I can say, however, that I feel positive about year ahead. More so than I have in a long time.

I'm still making jewelry, but at a slow pace. I created a bunch of heart pieces. Upon posting this picture on my Heard and Seen Facebook page, I sold five immediately, before even putting them on Etsy. I can't say that didn't make me feel good. As you can see, I hadn't even put the hardware on them yet. The big blue one in the middle was my first attempt at shaping wood to make a pendant. And yes, it was one of the ones that sold. The rest of the pendants are scrabble tiles.

As far as putting the rest on Etsy, I'm trying to find the most efficient, yet eye-pleasing way to photograph them. I've been slow at that too. It's a laborious process, and I have a less than ideal work space to create everything, and even less so to photograph it.

I have a plan for that too, in that I'm going to be ridding myself of a lot of stuff in my apartment and making it more functional. I need a place to work when I want to create, and a little desk isn't conducive.

Even so, I'm not sure that I want jewelry to be my main creation on the page. The pieces I make are labor intensive, and while I love them, I want to work bigger. Speaking of that, I've been commissioned to do an art piece.

I went to my dad and stepmom's lake house over the Fourth of July. Had a wonderful time, and this time the weather was gorgeous. Gone was the biblical weather of last year, and in its place was a gorgeous week of sunshine and puffy clouds. My sister, brother-in-law and nephew were here this time as well, and all of us had a great time eating way too much, having wonderful wine, boating, eating fabulous bbq and playing games. On the night of the Fourth, we took the boat out, and among dozens of boats, floated on the lake to watch the country club fireworks. The reflections of colors dancing with the ripples on the lake, and echoes of booms pin-balling off the smokey mountains.

I went out with my 17-year-old nephew on "Big Mable," which is a floating two-seater designed for being pulled behind a boat and holding on for dear life. My brother-in-law was at the wheel of the boat, and once we were seated, went with throttle up. We both screamed and cracked up, and when it came to me, you can add cursed, invoked the name of the Lord and shouted incoherent updates about the direction in which my person was flying in opposition to Big Mable, as my brother-in-law zig-zagged us across the lake and crossed wakes, sending us airborne and bouncing over the water.  My nephew was more specific in his proclamations, shouting, "I've got a giant wedgie!" To which I shouted back, "So do I!" But, Big Mable failed to throw us, and even with wedgies firmly inserted, we tamed that ornery hoss.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

It's taken me a long time to write this post, because one it was hard for me to write. And, because finishing it felt so permanent.

On May 9th, I said goodbye to my beloved Atticus.


Seventeen years ago, I walked into Pet Mania, a local independently owned pet store that also operated an animal rescue inside of it. During that visit, I saw a pair of four-month-old kittens up for adoption. They were entirely black except for white whispy tufts of hair that curled out of their ears like the character Grandpa on "The Addams Family." I'd never seen anything like it. Those tufts looked like they'd been styled with a curling iron.

I'd been considering a second cat since I felt that my female cat Scout, though she got plenty of spoiling, could use a companion. My life in Los Angeles had just started to take off, with a new set of friends and an awesome job. This meant many outings on the town, especially when I worked for an internet company (a new thing back then) with a pirate ship full of creative, connected, smart tech rebels.

For some reason, ignorance probably, I had decided that I didn't want a black, long-haired, or a male cat. Well, little did I know, the brother of the two kittens would be set on making me see the error of my ways.

At first, I was taken by the female. She was so sweet, with her stoic, yet inviting disposition. On my several trips to look at them, the brother would always nudge her out of the way to get my attention. I'd gently move him aside and pet his sister, but he insisted so I pet him too. They both were clearly friendly cats, and my goodness, those tufts! On a return visit, I saw the brother in there by himself. As soon as he saw me, he locked eyes on me and meowed loudly from across the room, as if he was saying, "Hey lady, I'm still here!"

Hollywood, 1998. Atticus. Unfortunately you can't see his tufts here.
Upon learning that his sister had been adopted, I put my prejudices aside and played with "this boy cat" a bit. Then, I figured it couldn't hurt to ask to hold him. Once in my arms, he molded himself to my body, completely limp as he purred to his heart's content. He even let me cradle him. But still, I resisted as I'd never had a boy cat before. During the couple of weeks, every  time I walked into the pet store he'd go up to the front of his cage and meow loudly. Well, it was on one of those return visits that I took home a black, long-haired, male cat, whom I'd eventually name Atticus. It was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.

Scout, at first, would have begged to differ. She was my princess tortoise shell cat, whom I learned could give the best stink eye I'd ever seen. She'd glare at him, then look at me as if saying, "Why have you forsaken me?" However, with time, she adapted to the intruder. They made a good team, Scout and Atticus.

In my apartment in Baltimore. Atticus had no problem hanging loose.
I always felt each cat represented the two parts, or psyches of me. Scout-- independent, wise, fierce when she needed to be, adventurous, loyal, sweet, confident, yet cautious, represented my soul. Atticus-- fun, loving, silly, goofball, spontaneous, shameless, a show off, prone to letting fear win, yet not afraid to act-on-impulse, represented my heart.

A week after adopting him, I stopped by my step-brother Dan's apartment after taking him to get his first shots, and he let me know what he thought of that experience by going Gallagher on inside of his carrier with his own shit. I left the soiled carrier outside and took the soiled cat inside, who allowed me to hold him on his back with one hand as I ran warm water over him to wash him off. After I towel dried him, he zipped around Dan's apartment like black lightning, and eventually fell asleep sitting upright, wedged between two cushions on his couch.

"Look at this cat," I'd said to Dan, and we'd shake our heads in amusement. Then I'd say, "I think I did well in choosing him." But I knew what the truth was-- he'd chosen me. And, not only that, he'd  waited for me. I must add, major props to Dan for not freaking out over me bringing in a shit-covered cat into his pet-free apartment.

Atticus offering his services as a paper weight.
There aren't words for how much I loved this cat. This black, long-haired male cat that I'd resisted so much-- who refused to take no for an answer. Every day, he made me not just laugh, but crack up. He brought a light-hearted, Hakuna Matata spirit into my home and heart where it was greatly needed. Atticus loved being Atticus.

In Baltimore. He did this all by himself. Then, just sat there and inhaled 360-degree chicken-scented bliss.
He always found the most hilarious places to go or fit into. If it was new, it had to be explored. In my apartment in Baltimore, I'd erected a 12-foot ladder to reach the ceiling, and well, this happened:
Baltimore - Atticus did not possess a fear of heights.
And if I was doing something, he always let me know where he thought my attention should really be focused.
Nov., 2012. Along with shamelessly draping himself across my arms as I tried to write, he was kneading my tummy and purring loudly. I had to remove my other hand from underneath him to take this photo.
Wanting to be on my lap, Atticus gives me "The Look."
Atticus sails from the top of the hutch to my chair .

Along with Scout, we had many adventures, including driving across the country not one, but two times. One to move from Los Angeles to Baltimore, and then back. The second time, my dad joined us from Asheville and as with everything else, my dad had to be explored. He crawled on his lap, under the seat, between his feet and sniffed every inch of his suitcase. He was my little buddy. Always by my side with an honest to God smile on his face. And boy, could that boy jump.

More than one vet, upon seeing our interaction, commented on our special bond. Friends loved him. Later in life, he became more of a mama's boy, but he could be won over pretty easily, and on command would give a hello or goodbye meow to my guests. Yes, really. My current vet here in Burbank even said we were soul mates and called him, "One of the special ones."

And, he was.

When he was just about sixteen, he was diagnosed with the beginning stages of kidney failure, which is what gets most senior cats. I kept a good eye on him, monitoring his diet and watching his energy level. It was after a trip to Baltimore that his symptoms became alarming. While he was still unquestionably still Atticus, he'd become frighteningly lethargic. After being treated for a kidney infection and prescribed fluids, he bounced back, but it was a steady decline from there.

While I'm aware that I'm going through a mourning process, since he's been gone I look at the days differently and as I've described to friends when trying to put it into words, I feel like I've lost much of my joy and levity. My world feels less vibrant and laughing, even when done earnestly, feels forced.

When I come home, that Atticus meow doesn't greet me and my apartment feels empty. That little happy spirit, a constant smile and trot, that tail held high in the air with a curl at the end, the joy at discovering him in a new place, and his unequivocal love and friendship are no longer a part of my life. It's left me in a state of confusion on how to be. Or, in understanding what life is supposed to feel like now.

I wasn't prepared for the effect his passing would have on me and how deeply rooted that little cat was into who I was. I thought that knowing he was diagnosed with kidney failure, his gradual decline would make it easier for me to emotionally prepare. But, it didn't. You never know until you say goodbye and come home to that gaping absence. Especially after the first couple of days into your normal routine. Because, it's anything but normal. It's disrupted, broken and less than what it was.

For 17 years, he made my life so much fuller, more grounded and filled with love. I was Anne, with a hilarious cat named Atticus. Atticus, who waited for me to take him home.

And I'm so glad I did. Thank you Atticus, for giving me so much, and for being my heart.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

I'm starting to realize that I have a natural clock built in for blog posts. Again, almost to the month, I think, "I haven't posted in a while."

I've mentioned this before, that there are many reasons for my slow down. Blogging, and its place, risks have changed dramatically. Before, even though I said up front who I was and where I worked, I felt comfortable spouting to the world. This included my less attractive parts, because that was life and part of being real. However, now there's too much at risk. As a result, I've lost some of my motivation for it. I'm sorry for this, as I've heard many people say I'm the first blog they read, mainly because I was one of the first, and then when my blog was chosen as a "Blog of Note by Blogger back in 2003, my readership went to the stratosphere. Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, was quoting me on his own blog. Biz at the time, was a blog advocate at Google after they bought Blogger. I'm sure I have some of the details wrong, but he is the one who chose my blog for the Blog of Note honor.

After that, I was interviewed by newspapers, and my blog was featured on many articles about blogging where I wasn't interviewed. In July of 2008, I even got this email from Scotland: 

"Hi Anne
Years ago I was listening to the radio and they discussed the concept of "blogging" and yours was the website they talked about. So I typed that in and began to read your diary/blog..." 

The thought of my words floating over foreign lands, and radio hosts discussing my blog in Scotland was just so incredible. There is something so pure and real about that. I spoke, they picked it up and not just carried it on, but scattered it further. And, the person who wrote the email above happened to be standing in one of the places it landed. I didn't promote my blog, nor post links to it anywhere. It just found its way to those in the most organic way possible. And, there weren't blogging repercussions, just thoughts and words. To this day, I haven't been able to find out what radio station it was on. I'd contacted the person who emailed me, and he couldn't remember. Too bad, as I'd love to get my hands on a recording.

Around that same time, which was probably around mid 2003, I was also contacted by a DJ at a radio station in Colorado who asked my permission to read some of my posts on their radio show. It was just incredible. And yes, I envisioned passages from my blog snaking through the tall grass plains, over rivers and navigating the rocky mountains.

Now, I can't see that happening. Through the years, my readership has come down from the stratosphere and leveled out. And, the magic of being discovered by those who might resonate with something I wrote has been diminished by shameless promoters, keyword specialists and professional bloggers, many who can't write worth a shit. That raw audience has been fatigued by over stimulation, bad content and social media.

I count myself among them. 

Friday, January 07, 2011

I'm pretty sure that I've lost my gorgeous, one of a kind, hand-crafted Calleen Cordero cuff. I've searched everywhere for two weeks. I fear that I inadvertently knocked it off my bathroom counter into my trashcan and didn't see it when I emptied it out into the garbage bag. This was about two or three weeks ago, and aside from it being in an excellent hiding place, I think that's what happened.

The irony is, that before I realized it was missing and not just playing hard to get, I went there on Thursday, the day before Christmas Eve and bought another cuff from Calleen Cordero. This one isn't a turquoise one, but a leather cuff with the beautiful metal accents. She just rules. I haven't lost complete hope for the other one, but I'm resigned and have dealt with it emotionally if it is indeed gone. A shame, but in my search for it I found my beloved kitty ring that I was sure was lost.

If it doesn't turn up in a few weeks, I fully intend to replace it. I heard that she planned to retire the cuff, but hopefully they'll take pity on me and since I'm an existing customer, they'll make one. I'm going to bring a picture of mine and ask if they can get as close to the look and type of stone as possible. All are unique.

I have perspective on it. I loved the cuff but no one died. I got to enjoy it for seven months and got hundreds of compliments on it. And, it even brought me a free year of Flickr Pro. I'll miss it, but it isn't the end of the world. And, hopefully I can get another one.

My New Year's post is coming soon.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

My posts I know, have been waning in the last few months. I keep saying that I intend to rectify this but there is a lot at stake in blogging now. I do have the time and plenty to say, but since I started annecentral, the world around me has changed when it comes to the internet. We all Google each other. Things are more instant. I have to be more careful with what I post here, yet I don't want to compromise the honesty and bluntness of my posts, which I know is the very reason you all come here and have written such honest letters to me. So, my wrangling with that has right now, unfortunately produced a lot of empty space. Don't worry, I haven't left annecentral. I've made so many wonderful e-friends through this blog, and feel a richer person because of the souls like you that I know are out there.

For Christmas, I went to the Four Seasons for dinner with Shannon. My mom, Jack and I did it last year and it was spectacular. It's a fun, eclectic group of people and just an awesome spread. And, a woman at the table next to us made a point to tell me I was gorgeous. How sweet of her, and wow, what a compliment out of the blue. I ate to my heart's content, trying as many kinds of food as I could, and of course relishing in the deserts. I didn't feel that I over ate though, which I think is a side effect of my new eating habits.

Afterward, we dropped by Nolan's and were surprised to find it packed. Plenty of people, high on Christmas cheer and warmed by spirits were boisterous and enjoying each other's company. Some woman hugged Shannon out of the blue, and it was hilarious. I wasn't really into the season this year, but that changed on Christmas Eve and Christmas. I'd opted for a quiet one, and got a little of both.

Speaking of that, somehow, during the holidays I've still managed to lose a pound and a half. That puts me a mere .4 pounds from my goal. Yes, that's less than half a pound. Go figure that one, as I've been indulging in the cookies and treats. Merry Christmas to me. I think the taking it slowly has really helped with that.

Along with my contract being extended, I got a half-time freelance job with my former boss at Avid, who was laid off from Avid along with me. He's working for an awesome company and they need a social media presence, so he thought of me. It's something that I can do from home and during lunch breaks, and it's a half a salary on top of my full-time salary that I'm already making. I'm beyond thrilled. First and foremost, because it's a great gig for a cool company, with a bitchin' app.
And a fantastic way for me to stretch my wings creatively and create something from the ground up. Our department was doing really cool things at Avid, but unfortunately that was cut short due to their downsizing. My boss is one of the creators of iTunes, so he has an incredible vision when it comes to building brands in non-traditional ways and working on tech consumer products that literally change the future. I was both flattered and humbled that he thought of me for the gig. This product is going to make waves and change the way people watch TV. Check them out at www.peel.com and download the app for your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. It's free!

Yes, that was a shameless plug. Gotta problem with that? If you download it, let me know how you like the app. I'd love to hear your feedback.

So, things are going well for me. But, being a realist who's been around the block several times, I'm prepared for anything when it comes to the job front. Things can change in an instant. I hope not, because I'm in a really good spot right now with the great work I'm doing for Disney and now this work with Peel. But, I am prepared.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shannon and I make LA Weekly.Shannon and I saw The Black Angels on Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving at the El Rey Theatre in Hollywood where we were snapped by a cool photographer for the LA Weekly. The photographer was covering the show for a slide show piece in the paper, of which we became a part of. The show was sold out and freakin' phenomenal, with the band's psych rock amplifying over our heads, through our bodies and throughout the venue in deep thick, rolling waves. The singer's voice floated on top of it all in melodic, wanting tones bathed in wandering wisdom. The Black Angels have an awesome sound that translates incredibly live. It was a great way to kick off my almost four day weekend. You can see the entire slide show from the event here, with our slide in its original size, here.

We've been having actual November-ish weather here, with the nighttime temps dipping down into the 20s accompanied by gusty wind. It made for a perfect holiday. Today, the gusts are even more fierce, so it actually sounds like November. It was a cold and windy night, as dusk descended into darkness...

I had yet another Thanksgiving with Shannon's family who were kind enough to have me. I've spent several T-days at his sister's or mom's house. I brought a bottle of Prosecco and his sister cooked up a delicious meal. His little nephews, sons of his brother and wife, who were also there, said the blessing. So cute. I think one of the boys is in kindergarten and the other in second grade. They were full of energy, sweet-natured and fun. I'd met them before a couple of times, once at Shannon's grandmother's birthday.

I also saw on Wednesday that I had an invite from Cathy and Reese via Facebook, and had a quick temptation to do both. However, I realized that everything would be too rushed. I went to their house last year and it was great fun. It's funny how I didn't grow up here, but I have made wonderful friends who are always making sure that when I don't travel or have guests for Thanksgiving, that I have a place to go. When my mom and Jack have come here for Christmas, we've eaten at The Peninsula Hotel and The Four Seasons Hotel for Christmas dinner. Both were excellent, unique experiences. The Four Seasons had a desert area that looked like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

I'm up to 21 pounds with my weight loss which puts me almost at my goal. I feel awesome. I'm finishing this post on a Monday night, and due to my ever increasing difficulty in waking up in the morning, I'm going to make sure that I'm in bed no later than 11:30 this entire week and see if that helps. It seems obvious, but my night nature is so good at convincing me that staying up just a little later won't hurt. Now that I have a new audio book, that at least is an added temptation to slip under the covers.

There's a lot more to write, but it's already 11:11 PM. Just enough time to leisurely brush my teeth and wash my face.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Finally, a chance to sit down and write a post. There has been a ton going on. From the fantastically fun to the life changing, to the downright scary.

We'll start with the fantastically fun, and that would be the billionaire's Halloween party where I met Jodie Foster, Sly Stallone, Paul Reiser and more. I can't elaborate too much because of confidentiality issues, but what a freakin' trip. I ended up there when Brian, who had taken us whale watching and whom Shannon and I had helped at the Paramount gig, asked me to help him out at another photo booth. After that gig, Brian told Shannon how impressed he was with my natural people skills and ability to be thrown in a situation and just roll with it. So he asked me out of the blue to help him with this one. Without knowing what it was, I accepted. He also asked Shannon to work it, but he couldn't because he had another gig. Shannon had told me that it was a rich guy who throws a Halloween party at his house every year. So, I was imagining a McMansion in Beverly Hills. Let's just say, that the party itself probably cost what a McMansion would cost. This place, in a gated exclusive neighborhood in Beverly Hills, was indescribable. I've seen a lot, but have never seen anything like this property. Holy palatial 80-million-dollar estate, Batman.

The party was fun, extravagant and full of people dressed in wonderful costumes. I loved seeing the families all dressed up and having fun. As I've said, Halloween brings out the wonderful imaginations in people. The kids were adorable and in heaven, with rides, activity stations, a haunted house, entertainment and more. I had a wonderful time, as did the guests and the photo booth went really well. And, Jodie Foster was really cool, down to earth and had a sense of humor. She was dressed as Trinity from The Matrix. A fine choice of costume, if I may say so myself.

On actual Halloween, Shannon and I went to Aroma cafe and had a fab dinner and a great time. It was a perfect Fall night, and we ate on the covered patio as excited kids in costumes walked past us on the sidewalk. Dusk was turning into night and the trick-or-treaters were on their candy safari. After that, we went to Nolan's and enjoyed more costumes. And, we had a nice conversation with Presidents Reagan and Kennedy. They were awesome, replete with awesome masks, suits and firearms. Yes, they were dressed as "The Dead Presidents" from Point Break.

Now for the life changing. I'm not sure if I mentioned on here that I've been on a health and weight loss program for the last three months or so. For those that know me, they've been shocked when I tell them that I went on a program, and even more so at the amount of weight that has come off my body. This is because I hid it well. I prided myself at being the master at hiding disaster, made easier because I've always had thin hips and legs. However, over the years I'd become uncomfortable with the way my clothes were fitting and the way that I was eating. Or in my case, not eating as much and as often as I should. My weight gain had mostly occurred around my middle and was easy to hide, especially when you have no hips! However, as someone who had been an athlete growing up and active for most my life, it finally reached the point of becoming uncomfortable for me. The last straw happened at Neiman Marcus when I could feel my extras crunching like an accordion while I bent over to fasten a strap on a shoe that I was trying on. I was sitting and on a higher bench, but please.

I also knew that I have certain traits that were not helping. I abhor cooking, going grocery shopping and washing dishes. As a result, I'd eat little during the day, my blood sugar would drop and I'd be ravenous at night, where I'd get takeout. Because of this, the weight had crept up over the years. I knew it wasn't healthy for someone my age to be eating like a teenager and had remembered that two of my good friends had successfully done a program, having gone in to be taught how to eat again. Both of them were not fat, but had just gained that extra that they felt they needed help getting rid of. So, I walked into a Jenny Craig that had opened across from my Starbucks. I was skeptical, but had well...was going to say nothing to lose, but that's not true! Anyway, it ended up being the perfect solution for me and I've lost almost 20 pounds.

At first, my coworkers were amazed that I'd lost so much weight, literally in front of them because I started the program while at Disney. That's because as I said, I am the MAHD. However, when I finally bought pants that weren't practically falling off, they clearly saw the difference. Amazing what a well-fitting pair of jeggings can reveal. Thanks to the saleswoman at Armani Exchange, I tried a pair on and have bought another pair from them since. And, my skinny jeans are now loose. I won't lie. That feels good. I have a waist again and my neighbors all comment on my thinness. I find that funny, because I feel I'm almost back to my normal weight. I sleep better, feel better, have more energy and see me again when looking into the mirror. And, I did it by eating more than I ever have, with zero exercise.

When I walk into Jenny for my weekly meeting/weigh-in, some of the other clients look at me oddly. In fact, during an open house there, I happened to have an appointment and heard two women who were pretty overweight whispering to each other, "She's thin. Why is she here?" I wanted to say, "Same reason you are." I've had other customers ask me the same thing directly and I'm happy to explain. We all have different "enough" points. There are many people just like me who wanted a course correction. And, it is one that I've been extremely patient, realistic and positive. I have no fear of gaining it back, because of what I've learned through them and continued practice at taking care of myself nutritionally. And, what really rocks is that my success has inspired my coworkers, friends and Facebook friends, some who have embarked on their own course corrections and are seeing results. That feels freaking awesome.

Unfortunately, I can't discuss the details of the scary on this blog except to say that it happened, and that someone caused me and some others unbelievable stress. However, we're all okay. It was taken care of promptly, sensitively and professionally. The hard part now is that no one knows what happened except for we who endured and witnessed it. And, we can't talk about it. The rest only know the end result, but not what the person did that caused that end result. Because of that, rumors and speculation are abound. I know I'm being vague but I have to be. And, I'm now moving out of the fear stage and into the anger stage. It's all part of the process and I know it's just something we'll all have to work through. Luckily, we have the support of the right people and each other.

Lastly, my contract was extended. Yay me.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Last week, thanks to a friend with a boat I was lucky enough to go whale watching. We've had a rare incursion of blue whales because an unusually large supply of krill, which the whales eat, is attracting them to the area. I met him through Shannon when we both worked a photobooth for the Concern Foundation benefit at Paramount Studios, which he was running. He was fun and gregarious, like a lot of the guys who work in the photo industry.

I'd learned about the rare abundance of whales, and even rarer, how close to shore they were while watching the news. I immediately wanted to go see them. It's something that I've never done. Well, as luck would have it, Brian posted photos of his venture out to see the whales and they were spectacular. He was also lucky enough to have a pod of dolphins ride his wake and got great pictures of them leaping into the air behind his boat.

Brian, Josh, Shannon and I went on a gray, cool Tuesday. We went slow through the Marina and past rock piers loaded with sea lions as pelicans, seagulls and cranes flew low overhead. Once we were out of Marina Del Rey Harbor and out into open sea, Brian went with throttle up and we raced across the ocean, bouncing over the waves, which answered our intrusion with a wall of sea spray. It was a very calm day on the ocean, calmer than Brian had ever seen, and what he said was perfect for whale watching. Still, we were on the Pacific, where calm means the waves were thick rolling swells that sent us airborne when we hit them on an up slope. Exhilarating.

Me Driving a Friend's Boat

Brian let me take the wheel and I drove the boat in open sea, bouncing across the waves, one which had Shannon catching air when he let go for a second to take a picture. We passed buoys that marked a path for freighter ships, all crowded with seals and sea lions taking a rest and unintentionally looking comical. They reminded me of a certain cat I know...

What a lush!

Brian took back at the helm and steered toward a cluster of four or five boats on the horizon. He said that where there's a gathering of boats, there are usually whales. And sure enough, as we got closer, we saw our first misty plume spew several feet high from the water. Everyone went nuts in excitement. We were going to see actual whales in the wild. And, rare blue whales at that. As we got closer, Brian slowed us down and edged toward where we had seen the plume. There were four or five boats around us, including a whale tour ship full of eager viewers who were standing on one side, cameras ready.

And that's when we saw one crest, its smooth blue gray skin emerging, spewing a misty plume before it submerged. It was just incredible to see in the wild! We could tell from its size that it was a younger whale, and it came up for several breaths before going on a deep dive. Soon, we spotted another plume and along with the other boats, got as close as we could while keeping a respectful distance. This is when a giant crested, and I heard its spout release and take a deep breath of air. Again, incredible. Shannon snapped this photo. We were only three miles off shore off Redondo Beach.

Whale Cresting off Redondo Beach

It crested about five times, as we, the tour boat another motor boat and two sailboats hovered around. In the span of an hour, we saw about five or six whales, and yes I'll say it, they were majestic. Here are two pictures I took. One shows the whale tour boat, and you can see the people standing to get a look. Click on them for a larger version:

Whale crestingBlue Whale cresting

It was a wonderful, fantastic time and something that I've wanted to do my whole life. Brian was a superb captain and great at steering the boat toward them without getting too close. Not to mention, a great host with an awesome boat!

The temperature outside @ 2pm todayIn other news, I made Flickr's blog with this photo of my dashboard reflecting the heat outside, and this wasn't even the hottest it got. I snapped the photo with my phone when I noticed the temperature, and Flickr decided to show it to the world. It's my second pleasant surprise from Flickr in the last month. So, thanks for the props Flickr.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I had a neat thing happen through Flickr a couple weeks ago. A man who lived in the San Francisco area found my picture that I took of my Calleen Cordero cuff and contacted me about it. He was looking for a cuff for his girlfriend, and did an image search on Flickr to get ideas for what he thought she would like. He also had a Flickr account, and emailed me through their mail system. I emailed him back and gave him the store information and website, which listed all the stores that carried her designs and how I came about mine. I added that the last time I was in the Calleen Cordero store on Beverly, that I'd heard chatter about Calleen retiring the cuff design and that perhaps if he told the story how he found it, they might be persuaded into making one more. Of course, I added that his girlfriend was very lucky to have a boyfriend that put so much thought into her gifts. And, that she was going to love the cuff. Every day that I wear mine, I get comments on it from people. The last being a cool, great-looking edgy couple that asked me about it at a gas station. They were filling up next to me, and were extremely complimentary. They also wanted to know where I got it. But back to the Flickr guy, who did manage to find one at a store who carried her line, and after they sent pictures of the two they had, planned on purchasing one. Well, imagine my surprise, when I get an email saying that the same man had extended my Flickr Pro account for an entire year. Turns out, he works for Flickr and as a token of his appreciation extended my account. Awesome! Of course, I sent him and email telling him how thrilled I was. And the greatest thing, is I was more than happy to help someone on their endeavor to give someone they loved an awesome gift.

It's the second time within a couple months that someone has given me something for free without my expecting it. First, there was the guy who fireproofed my burlap for free, and now this.

Speaking of projects, I've started another one. The crappy scrubby garden area outside my apartment door finally got on my last nerve. After asking the landlord to rip up the horrible thorn bushes for the last couple years and offering to plant it myself, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Let me just start with saying that they never ever prune the garden. So, it was left up to yours truly to cut back the awful bushes that would creep over the walkway toward my apartment. The plant in question is called Asparagus Fern. It's not only ugly, it's on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council’s list of invasive species as a Category II invasive and according to the ASPCA, is toxic to both dogs and cats. Other sites list it as a "noxious weed" which strangles the roots of other plants. Nice.

Anyway, I started tearing up these hideous bushes which have roots like something out of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Thick coarse roots with pods...yes, pods on the end of them, topped off by a stump-like root cluster. About half way through my endeavor, I had just yanked out a particularly nasty root cluster that left about a foot deep crater near the container wall. When I reached my hand in to dig out the remaining roots, I dunked my hand in water that was rising up through the ground. For weeks, the landlords had been looking for the source of an underground leak in the pool area. The health department was on them about it and they were just about to rip up a huge part of the pool patio area to locate it. Well, when I pulled out my hand and waterlogged glove, I realized I'd just found it, simply by ripping up a few ugly plants that the landlord didn't want to deal with. I told them about it the next morning and sure enough, when they investigated, found that the leak was from a pipe near where I was gardening. Exactly opposite from where they were going to jackhammer up the patio.

Um, yeah.

Either way, I've really enjoyed having a physically demanding creative project. That area was so ugly, and now it's almost ready to be prettied up. I also bought some solar accent lights that look really nice. Before I plant anything, I'm going to make sure all those horrid asparagus ferns are away for good.

Work tomorrow. Bed calls me.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I'm here at Starbucks on a pretty day, inside because it allows me a bit of privacy.

Right now I'm in one of four big chairs surrounding a table. A father and his two teenage daughters sit at the other three chairs. They are sharing the usual father and daughter banter, laughing and clearly enjoying each other's company. An elderly man walked by, bent over almost at a ninety degree angle, but however difficult it must be for him to get up and around, he still sported a suit and tie and walked on his own without the help of his two younger companions, who walked just enough ahead of him to appear as if they weren't keeping an eye on him. He paused and rested his hand on the first daughter's chair, caught his breath, then made his way to the next daughter's chair and rested on hers for a bit. I looked at the father and he smiled at me with kindness, sharing my sympathy for a man whose body was struggling to keep up with his spirit. I smiled back. The man and his daughters were a Middle Eastern family, and it struck me that here we were on 9/11, in a climate where so many people are spouting the reasons that we can't get along and threatening to burn Qur'ans while others burn American flags. And yet, here was a quiet moment shared between those very two cultures, who had a the same reaction of sympathy, understanding and compassion for another human being. Our moment won't make the news. It's just one of millions of quiet moments that happen every day between people of every culture who have so much more in common than the publicized differences of a few extremists.

I'm still at my job, though I'm not sure for how much longer. My contract was just extended until November 6th, I think. Right now, the department that I work in is going through a lot of changes and merging with another branch of the company. There is a full-time senior copywriter job available, but when I asked about it, I learned that it has management responsibilities, which I do not want. I'm just not management material, which is a trait I'm extremely at peace with. It isn't because I'm not capable, but because I can't stand the politics and what comes with it. Management has never been something I aspired to be. Ever. Whether contract or full-time, my salary is good for what I do and my lifestyle without the pressures of managing for some big company that would happily chew me up and spit me out.

Tomorrow is Shannon's birthday celebration at his sister's house. Should be a great time. He got me some really neat gifts for my birthday and I hope he likes what I got him. My mom had a big birthday on September 3rd, and I got her a gift certificate to a day spa in Baltimore, good for a European facial, and spa manicure and pedicure. Also included tip so she wouldn't have to worry about that. She's going to my step brother's wedding end of September and figured it might be a great way to kick off the celebration. I really wanted to go, and we tried to work it out, but the wedding is in Mystic, CT, and with my job possibly ending soon, I need to work every week that I can. I would have loved to see Dan and Jen get married, and of course really enjoyed seeing a true East Coast water town.

Lots of other things, but I'm finishing this post at night, and am about to slip into bed and snuggle down to listen to my audio book. Wonderful inventions, those things.