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.