Saturday, December 31, 2016

Without Resolutions / On the Eve of a New Year

I've been thinking recently, about how much has changed in a decade. How 10 years ago my friends and I sat on the brink of so many 'beginnings." Getting married, having babies, forging careers, on top of all of the other (usually) thrilling things that come attached to our twenties, before we are forced to pay much mind to the weight the future unfolding before us. Where we get to sit blissfully in the shadowed sidelines of wondering what is next, enchanted by the idea of fresh "starts" while figuring, with good intentions nurtured by naive assumptions - and by some simple miracle wedged in between - that it will all work out for the best if we just trust in it.

Ten years down the line though things look and feel a whole lot different than some of the stories we kept written in our heads. Some of the marriages we toasted in bad satin gowns on warm summers nights coming unraveled and dissolved. Babies who's cheeks we kissed endlessly at those early birthday party gatherings in the back yard celebrations grown into long limbed kids with fresh attitudes startling us sometimes in the flicker of a moment when they appear suddenly unrecognizable, bringing with them separate means of battles and struggles we as parents never feel properly prepared for. Careers fought hard for winding up jobs we're stuck with. Sickness in our circle of friends settling hard and grief rooting itself in the familiar scenes of our current life's narrative which keeps handing us situations we didn't expect. Lessons we didn't see coming. Circumstances we tried to avoid, in realities that feel a whole lot heavier than we ever envisioned at 22, 26, 28 trying to decide on ideal wedding locations and suitable first baby names. Sentiments I stir up not to tread a somber tone here on the eve of a new year of which I am eternally grateful for, but to open up the voice of what small despair at the end of the year sounds like.

Really, I wanted to draft resolutions and reflect on the year past, to outlines smart ways to grow and become a better person like tradition tells us we do this time of year. To embrace and applaud a fresh start, but truth is I feel rather distant from that whole ideal now. The reason for a long pause here stemming largely from feeling slightly alienated by fact of my own lingering sadness in a forum meant to highlight and inspire - where we get and give the 'best of" in return for better praise of it. I wanted to focus on resolutions, I did, and parties, and positivity, but at the close of this year, I can't help that my heart feels heavy and my thoughts about the future have been floating too reckless to align. When I think back on 2016 I can recall plenty of laughter and love and sunshine, adventure and good times surrounded by people we love but also the startling acceptance of uncertainty. The fear that resides after a 4 am call from my sister informs me that my mother had a heat attack, or hearing news on vacation of a friend (and mother my same age) losing her battle with cancer. The vision of my boy darting into a crowded street after his Tonka truck went barreling away from him that cut through my dreams for so many weeks after reminding me of what could have been, the unexpected loss of my best friend's father, the face of her grandmother who we visited weeks after, a women I've known since I was 12, with an old mind deteriorating too fast to fully acknowledge him gone. I think about the bleak news stories showing bloodied and displaced children as prisoners of war minded intentions, a good portion of our beloved childhood heroes passing with ruthless ferocity, a grotesque president on the horizon I still can't bring myself to accept, and overall a general feeling of helplessness that comes from the palpable heartache in and around me, a feeling I know I need to shake but also accept that in order to do so I have to garner and regain a new sense of hope and trust in the path ahead, where each new years seeks to show us nothing is ever certain.

So this year I emerge bearing no resolutions kept tidy on a sheet for me to share or refer to. No major changes or promises to myself other than to maybe enjoy the sun on my face a littler deeper and the passing of time a little sweeter. Reminding myself occasionally (as we should) that as long as it's all moving forward and we're headed for another year we should never take for granted the great gift of hopefully emerging stronger and wiser on the other end of each next trip around the sun.

With that, I wish you all a happy, healthy new year full of love and enlightenment.


Below, some fun times I caught during December. Where I made the unconscious decision to put my camera down more than usual and found greater joy in real time spent with good folks. 

My Movie from Mrs. Habit on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Overheard (post election edition)

"Crooked, crooked, crooked, crooked, crooked, crooked, crooked, Hillary."
- Grumpy old man to friend the weekend after election at the Flea market, who's devotion to Trump became reflective in his parallel speech pattern. Because, when in doubt, repeat till defeat.

"Aren't we all just here, shopping our sorrows away."
- Flea market lady to friend. Noting the growing bulk of soul less vintage loot crowding a plastic cart she was pushing down the Turkish rug isles.

"I've never wanted to physically hurt people before, like kick them for no reason at all, but that's how I feel now. On the subway, I literally feel myself wanting to psychically harm people."
- Best Friend, on the outskirts of her better self, post Trump victory.

"No. I unfriended her too."
- 20 something girl to another 20 something girl referring to her her grandmother in admitting the brutal extent of her post election friend cuts on Facebook.

"Are you sure you're ready for that?"
- Friend, in concern. Genuinely worried about whether I was strong enough - post Nov 8th - to dine with closet conservatives.

"Mom ... are you awake?"
- Arlo, genuinely confused by the state of my frazzled consciousness around 10:oopm on election night, sitting glassy eyed on the couch, stale champagne and men's pajamas on contemplating the end of the universe.

"Be nice to him. He might be the only one who bails you out of jail one day."
- Me, during an admittedly low point suffering post election blues, falling victim to plenty of sub par parenting moves in the wake of the results. Speaking to Rex, complaining about Leon.

"I'm not going to blow a bunch of money on people now who voted against my "lifestyle?"
- Best friend, via a late night phone conversation second guessing her choice in mid grade champagne  picks for the family gathering in honor of her recent marriage, of which half apparently believe might still be "healed" with proper intervention / therapy and Mike Pence in power.

"American. Headed, for, damnation!"
- Hung over hipster trying to lowball a vintage flag for sale at the flea market and getting side eyed glances from the cowboy manning the booth beside him who was not in the mood.

"The funny thing is, the group we're going with don't even really know you. So they have no idea how there is a very good chance you'll end up staying in the hotel room all day because it's too cold outside. Or you get a "bad feeling"about the subway ride."
- Best Friend, on the realities of my phobias potentially overshadowing my protest convictions.

"I mean, it's so hard you know? To argue when you know you're smarter, and right."
- Group of women talking politics over coffee in L.A

"So Christmas party is going to be much smaller this year, I'm guessing?"
- Mike, in a passive aggressive critique of my feuds erupting daily on Facebook, once all lines were drawn and I had to come to terms with the fact that quite a few people I like in life, make really stupid mistakes.

"Of which I will never forgive him."
- Me, about Leon. Who thought it was funny to chant "TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP" while standing beside me in line at the voting station, prompting an immediate bond with fellow conservatives in the community standing shoulder to shoulder for over an hour, kindly filling me in on new word of voter fraud, and all kinds of other crazy conservative conspiracies in circulation that day. That I just had to suck up and stomach because it's hard to find your ground while wrangling four filthy kids who are dead set on showing off their new parkour tricks in a lobby of breakables, while continually punching each other in the stomach.

"Me too, Rex. Me Too."
- My knee jerk response to Rex saying he was "scared" of a Donald Trump presidency the day after. *Later corrected with a few better suited, grown up type sentiments and reassurance. 

"From now, it's all bad fashion, bad music, bad hair, bad taste."
- My stripped down take a Republican tide turning. From a superficial (stylistic) point of view anyway.

"I do find relief in knowing there is revenge in the poor qualities of the parties. Think of who they have to perform at these things - it's like Ted Nugent opening for Ted Nugent with an encore by Ted Nygent.
- Me, relaying the stupid things that now bring me joy. Like envisioning how awful the Inauguration Ball will be with acts like Hank Williams II and Ted Nugent as the only headliners I can possibly  fathom.

"People keep saying that it's because we are so clueless. Living in a bubble of like minded West Coast luxuries or something. I don't think that's true do you?"
- Friend, philosophizing over organic quiche bites and a shot of wheat grass amongst a cafe full of somberly defeated liberals brunching in black coats and straw hats in Silverlake last month.

"Fuck Everybody."
- KK's one contribution for tee shirt font suggestions to don for best impact during the Women's March in WA next month. Of which I know we can build off of.

"Everybody make mistakes."
- A explanation to Leon, who told me that his friend's mom voted Trump.

"That's because you've only known me through the Obama years."
- My response to a friend's remark claiming they never knew I could get so "worked up over" politics.

"An extra 7lbs and a serious influx in curse words."
- Admitting to a friend two additional things I am also currently blaming on Trump these days.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Four Seasons Wonderland

Stepping into the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village this past weekend felt as close as I could imagine to walking into a John Hughes Christmas movie. With old fashioned holiday songs on the stereo, bellhops buzzing in black suits, handing out champagne to guests waiting in to check in, towering grand firs decked in rich gold ribbon glistening happily in the center of the lobby with a toy train circling round the bottom and children gathered, glossy eyed over this whole glorious scene as their parents and grandparents, dressed in wool coats and diamonds, secure their room key.

I've never stayed at a Four Seasons before so my first impression was a dazzling one. The boys and I (Mike, always buried with shop orders this time of year) came as guests for a night to experience and review the Winter Wonderland extravaganza. Which came with the added bonus of a surprise room upgrade. A 7th floor (swoon worthy) suite with more space (and beds!) than I even realized hotels could manage. My boys, more accustomed to stacking bodies onto fold out futons, or sharing cots as a more luxurious alternative to sleeping bags (which is more typically the case) splayed out on the ground whenever we travel.

This room, it was really something else. Three TVs, a big Jacuzzi tub, wide window views, and antique china. So cozy it was a hard to even want to venture out. But we did. Obviously in the good name of the Winterland adventure where we sipped hot chocolate under machine powered snowfall. Ate gourmet hamburgers for dinner, decorated sugar cookies with Mrs. Claus, laughed so hard it hurt watching Rex and Arlo spilling across the lot of a makeshift ice rink in skates they couldn't control, hitched a train ride with Hayes, and then showed up after all of it to sink our bones into that incredible heated indoor pool straight out of my wildest childhood fantasies where we stayed for almost two hours. I could have stayed there all night, but the Let it Snow festivities wore the boys out royally so it was only a matter of time before the terry cloth bath robes made it back on and we were all shuffling our way out of the hotel arcade room, and into bed for a late night movie to unwind.

Before we left our last indulgence was the breakfast buffet downstairs where characters mingled with guests and tables full of big families gathered in matching plaid pajamas to devours plates stacked high with all the delicious goods offered. Rex claims that he ate 8 pieces of bacon (all to himself) and if you knew anything about his love of bacon, one might be tempted to believe him.

Just before we were leaving, as life goes, I got a phone call informing me of an old family friend's unexpected passing. A call that sent a shock through my bones and a crack in my heart. A new despair I knew waiting outside of those big glass doors as I gathered our things to leave. Picking up my grieving best friend from the airport. Thankful for our night together, where we lived briefly inside of that sweet winter dreamland with all the best parts of the holiday season to hold us tight.

Winter Land Info Available HERE 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Introducing Morning Light Gift Studio

My friend Kate has always had a serious knack for gift giving. Which I've probably mentioned fact of here before. And the reason her latest endeavor, a meticulously curated online gifting box shop, comes as great news for those of us who tend to struggle a bit in that area. Especially this time of year, when we all know the holiday gift dilemmas can really pile up.

Each of the boxes offered by Morning Light are a perfect combination of whimsy, aroma, texture, and practicality. With themes ranging from exotic salts, to locally sourced honey, tea, incense, textiles, and ceramics. All items pulled from the small (beloved) shops she adores most, with names as enduring as "Beaded Man" "Take it Easy" "One More Cup of Coffee" and my personal favorite: "I Love You Anyway."

In honor of the grand opening Morning Light Studios is offering free shipping for all orders placed up until Monday. So drop by, have a look & maybe take advantage for a friend deserving. I know I have a few in mind already.

Welcome to the web Morning Light.

*Additionally, Morninglight is committed to providing a portion of sales to the Sierra Club, the nation's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Hopelessly Joan

On her 82nd birthday. Still regretting the time I missed the book tour at UCLA all those years ago when she cancelled due to a fall. And I vowed to make it up at some point. But never did.  

Friday, December 2, 2016

Sandy Hook Promise

As difficult and unfortunate as it is to accept as a parent these days, the reality of gun violence in schools is something we're dealing with as a nation far too often. A reoccurring nightmare on the evening news showing scenarios we can't even begin to process, no matter how many times we see similar scenes play out.

I know I can't even describe the recent heartache I felt rushing to my boy's elementary school to drop off a forgotten backpack last month and having to sit outside of the office for nearly an hour while the administration ran through a series of protocol during a campus wide "lockdown drill." Designed to ensure teachers are well equipped to safeguard their classroom within a matter of seconds, on high alert, and children shown how to properly react in the face of such a terrifying threat. In my day drills consisted of simple duck and cover during earthquakes, while my children are learning how to hide from guns, in a place they should feel safest.

In partnering with Sandy Hook Promise, a cause dear to my heart as a parent, I was asked to help spread light on some of the vital warning signs leading up to gun violence in schools by sharing this short and powerful film highlighting early evidence of mental illness or distress, that too often goes overlooked. In doing so, I'm hoping we might help open eyes and ears to the unsettling mindset behind these kinds of attacks, reminding us to be more awake and in tune to our surroundings, as well as talking to our kids about the devastating effects of bullying before real damage is done, working to  instill an early sense of empathy, insight, and vigilance, in whatever environments they inhabit.

For me, it was also a good reminder of how I need to make sure I keep the lines of communication open, especially during the more fragile teenage years, so my kids feel comfortable coming to me when they do see things that find concerning in any way. Communication, as always, being the key component here.

The Sandy Hook Promise website offers plenty more insightful tips and information on how to spot and treat these early warning signs to help aid mental illness before it becomes another tragic statistic. In which I strongly suggest you have a look.

This post is in partnership with The Sandy Hook Promise Foundation