Category Archives: Hollywood

Tick Tock Bio Clock

fatinha ramosTaboo as it may be to ask a lady her age, I’ve never been bashful about revealing it. I’m 38 – and proud of it! I’m not afraid of getting older. With so many exquisite feminine role models out there setting an empowering example for aging gracefully, I look forward to following in their footsteps. I only intend to become more radiant, authentic in spirit, and comfortable in my own skin with age. I do believe my best years are still yet to come.

Even though it’s always been relatively painless to admit my age, it’s been considerably less so to admit that I’d like to have a baby. I kept that desire largely under wraps for a majority of my dating life, especially after uttering “the L-word” on a handful of appropriate occasions sent a few boys running for the hills, never to return.

Eventually I learned, if who I am and the things I want are going to scare a man away, he simply isn’t meant to be in my life, just passing through. I’ve also since met plenty of men who too desire partnership and parenthood, and they always stoke my hope. I was never anxious to broach these delicate subjects too quickly though, fearing the conversation might be our last. That is, until a few years ago when I really began facing facts about where I am on my biological frontier and the necessity of cutting to the quick.

I’ve always been more of a relationship minded, one-man-kind-of-gal. When I love someone, I’m all in, head-over-heels with blinders on. I view dating as a necessary evil. A means to an end, not a sport or breezy pastime I partake in for free drinks, dinner, or booty calls. If I don’t sense real potential, best to nip it in the bud. I’m keeping my eyes on the prize – “The One” who’ll stimulate my mind, body, AND soul – my true love, best friend, partner-in-crime. Cliché, yes, but true nonetheless.

mad passionate extraordinary

After a long dry spell/mourning period, during which my friends repeatedly asked, “What about online dating?” I finally pushed through my resistance and joined OK Cupid, figuring I at least owed it a try before writing it off all together. At first I pro-actively searched for interesting, like-minded hotties but my first 3 initiations went unreplied to. My (straight male) hairdresser wasn’t surprised. “No, no, no. All you need to do is look at their profile. Maybe give them a star rating, but do not message guys. If they’re game, they’ll contact you. Remember, men like the chase.”

This helpful tidbit cut my trolling down to zilch, certainly a timesaver. Most queries that land in my inbox independently, however, typically inspire a reaction more akin to nausea than “quivers”. I’m always temporarily hopeful upon new “someone chose you!” notifications only to be repeatedly baffled by bizarro techniques in pick-up artistry and embarrassingly poor % of compatibility that leave little doubt as to which head they’re using.

In all fairness, there are a lot of stand-up guys on OKC. I’ve had several decent dates in NY and LA. The good eggs really do stick out like a sore thumb, but my doubts remain about the efficacy of finding true love in cyberspace. I still prefer that old-fashioned magic: randomly bump into someone cute, strike up a flirty conversation, watch the sparks fly!

So, as luck may have it, a good friend recently emailed me out of the blue: “I met a beautiful, talented, artistic gentleman wordsmith at a party in LA and I’ve since kept that knowledge in the back of my mind. He loves fine art, language, and the art of conversation, so I thought of you.” Ooooh, now this sounds intriguing! He included a link to Romeo*s FaceBook profile, suggesting if my curiosity piqued, he’d make an intro. Pleasantly surprised after surfing, I agreed. What an unexpected twist of fate!

Romeo and I proceeded to exchange some witty banter as we arranged a friendly rendezvous for tea at one of my favorite local cafes (his suggestion). I tried not to get too excited about the outcome in spite of his wicked attractiveness. I hoped we’d enjoy each other’s company at best, but prepared an iPhone exit plan alert should things take a turn for the worst.

To my delight, we had a spectacular date. We talked for hours about art, the creative process, bucket list travel, philosophy, mythology, the cosmos – you name it! We shared “getting to know you” stories, rapidly pulling at the threads of multiple simultaneous conversations, careful not to step on each other’s train of thought. We both promptly forgot what the hell we were saying several times, distracted by each other’s dazzling smiles. His attentiveness and charm, the sincerity and warmth with which he listened and spoke, stirred the butterflies in my belly.

As afternoon turned into evening, he suggested we continue our effortless flow over dinner at the Italian restaurant across the street. Seated on the twinkly-lit patio, fireplace and piano side, we drank wine and flirted intoxicatingly until eventually, we were holding hands across the table, starry-eyed. He handcrafted a sweet memento to commemorate the occasion and then walked me to my car, enveloping me in a big bear hug that felt like home. I could’ve curled up in that nook for ages and didn’t sleep a wink that night.

batteries

In true gentlemanly fashion, he texted the next day confessing that he couldn’t stop thinking about me and when could we meet again? YES! Soon we were back in each other’s electric presence, art appreciating and garden strolling at the Getty Villa in Malibu, sharing cocktails and apps at Moonshadows on a lounge bed overlooking the Pacific Ocean, followed by late night tea and cake in Bourgeois Pig’s enchanted dayglow forest – all his fantastical plans. Talk about WOO!

Something else quite unusual happened: we had the big talk on this, our second date. All the “scary” topics: past relationships, readiness for future ones, monogamy vs. polyamory, religion vs. spirituality, lifestyle, marriage, kids. He referred to them as the “nasty pitfalls” of relationships. You know, the real “deal breakers” you typically avoid discussing until you’re already infatuated, at which point it becomes trickier to part ways? Went there! And you know what? It wasn’t terrifying. Liberating is more like it. We both sensed something profound was afoot. Could we be… The One?

Our communication was so open and honest. A breath of fresh air. Clearly, we’d both learned a ton from our past relationships and had taken time to “do the work.” We seemed to be on the same page about everything. Well, about everything, except one thing – having kids.

No small matter indeed but it seemed to me, perhaps naively, that while we weren’t 100% in agreement, our perspectives could co-exist. He said he felt 98% sure that he didn’t want kids, leaving that 2% open to kismet. I shared that I always envisioned being a Mom, but had yet to meet a man who I felt was bona fide Daddy material. I admitted I could be happy living as an artist with the freedom to work and travel the world with my partner, clearly stating that: I want to create a family with the man I love, not just have a baby.

egg timer

I’ve always felt strongly about not putting the cart before the horse. There are things you just can’t learn about a person overnight. Time is key. I want to enjoy getting to know my man and allow our relationship to unfold organically. Have fun, travel, and live together before we even consider bringing a baby into the mix. Who you choose to share your life and create another human being with is undoubtedly the biggest decision you’re ever likely to make – and I’m not keen on rushing that process, even if I am 38 (and ¾). First things first!

spooky womb

Having covered these bases to our mutual satisfaction, our romantic courtship continued with more sweet rendezvous replete with endless tête-à-tête, roaring fires, french desserts, sensual music, ambient lighting, rose-scented horizontal mambos, the whole nine yards.

Sadly, this rare trip on Cloud 9 came to a screeching halt when Romeo suddenly went M.I.A. First a text, then a voicemail went unanswered for days. Hmmm. This is not a good sign. One morning, I woke up to an opus sent via FaceBook that can only be best described as a goodbye letter. We later managed to iron things out (temporarily) after he admittedly freaked out and fell down the rabbit hole of negative projection, but the main reason topping his Dear Jill letter – my biological clock.

He explained that he needed to press pause on our whirlwind romance for some soul-searching and upon further reflection realized that his 98% was actually more like 100% NO, he did not want a kid much before the age of 50, if at all, and realistically, I only have a small window left in which to procreate if I’m lucky, and “dependents” just didn’t fit into his grand master plan.

Oh, SNAP! I’m officially at the stage when men cite my bio clock as a reason not to date me. That’s not an easy pill to swallow. Well, at least he used words, unlike one guy who leaned in for (what I thought was) whispering a sweet nothing, only to mimic the sound of a ticking clock in my ear, during our first (and final) date.

sweet nothings

Having already experienced my fair share of insensitivity around this issue, I was willing to give Romeo partial credit for at least considering my best interests and whether he ought to set me free so I could find love, and maybe babies, with someone else. Intellectually, my mind understood this inclination, but my heart? Not so much.

At the end of the day, I wasn’t upset that Romeo didn’t want kids. I was upset that he didn’t even want to pursue me because I might want them. I’m all for getting the nasty surprises out of the way, but in hindsight, can we just get to know each other for a minute? Do we really need to have these talks on the second date? How about just exploring a special connection in the present moment before we gaze into the crystal ball and try to predict where this might all be heading?

the voices in my head

With all due respect, we don’t need men to remind us of our bio clocks. Most likely, we’ve already been agonizing about it for years. Will circumstances align in enough time? It’s a nagging question that hits some pretty sensitive nerves, forcing us to re-examine every dating choice we’ve ever made: each past relationship, how long we stayed, whether we woulda, coulda, shoulda done anything differently. Was it really smart to prioritize my career? Should I have put myself out there more? What if I’d lived somewhere else? Was that a missed opportunity?

We know men don’t want to be pressured. Neither do we. Nor do we want to be “that girl” – teetering on the precipice of our fertility, not wanting to rush yet acutely aware of the finite amount of time we have left to make life-altering decisions. Unfortunately, now or never is nigh, and that’s not an uncomplicated awareness to confront.

Walk in these shoes: all your life you believed your destiny included (insert major life milestone here). One day, you look at the calendar. Years have whizzed by. You’ve hit the snooze button one too many times and must finally wake up, quit being in denial and accept that your dream might not happen at all, ever. Imagine what it’s like to reach that fork in the road in the primetime of your life. I know you can relate.

So, allow me to give men out there a few words of advice: if you’re ever tempted to use a woman’s bio clock as an excuse to end your relationship, do yourselves both a favor and lie to her. “I’m not ready” or “I need time to work through xyz” is a reason everyone can relate to, often requiring little explanation. “I’m just not that into you” would even be preferable. Pointing to her ticking time womb as your rationale for steering clear? Please, don’t. It will only hurt her more than you can possibly conceive.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a HUGE advocate of truth telling, regardless of how messy, inconvenient, and uncomfortable it might be. But if practicing your brand of radical honesty is only going to result in hurt feelings and nothing can be done to change things – SAVE IT. “Lies of omission” are not always bad. I’m not talking about cheating, stealing, or other deceptions that put someone’s health or safety at risk. I’m talking about inflicting unnecessary emotional pain when no possible good can come of it because you think “honesty is always the best policy.”

thinkThere’s a difference between withholding feelings vs. telling lies. Keeping thoughts to our self can be compassionate. We don’t always need to confess every dirty detail and pour salt in the wound. You may not even be aware there is a wound, so if you’re truly a gentleman, err on the side of caution and play the “it’s not you, it’s me” card.

Spare me the awareness that I’m missing out on getting to know you because of something I may never be able to have and don’t even know for sure I want. It cuts to the core and ignorance would be far more blissful to live with than your Truth. What people don’t know can’t hurt them. My ship may have already sailed and I’m figuring out how to come to terms with that fact. Your unbridled candor may only twist the knife deeper, so approach such discussions with extreme sensitivity.

If you’re clear that fatherhood just isn’t for you, that’s your prerogative, 100% understandable, no judgment! Some women do want the wedding and baby ASAP and yeah, it’s definitely best to assess  up front and not go there if that’s the case. But don’t assume that just because a woman is nearing the end of her reproductive years that getting pregnant is automatically her top priority.

Falling in love and wanting to share my life with someone is actually more important to me than whether our relationship leads to having a baby. It really must go in that order, for me anyway. And I can only hope that my next real love is open to exploring me as a woman first, a potential Mommy-to-be second.

All I can do is have faith. I’ve asked the Universe for what I’d like to unfold in my life and if it’s meant to be, it will be. Motherhood is still a dream I’m not ready to give up quite yet. I’m staying positive and mentally preparing myself for Plan B. No matter what, I’m determined to craft a life full of love and happiness. After that, every dream is truly figure-out-able!

“Regardless of how much you want or think you need something, if it’s not in the divine plan for you to have it, you will not have it. There’s nothing to be disappointed about. Your blessings have your name on them. When you’re ready, an opportunity will be presented to you. When it shows up, you’ll need to be ready.” ~ Iyanla Vanzant

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Is your bio clock tick talking to you? Do you dis/agree that “lies by omission” are sometimes the kindest approach? I’d like to hear your stories and opinions, so please leave a comment below. If this post resonates with you, share with a friend, and be sure to SUBSCRIBE (in the top right hand corner of this page) so you can receive all my freshly pressed posts directly to your inbox when they go live every week!

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Related resources:

Gateway Women
an inspiring website created to empower child-free and childless by circumstance FCWs

Thirty-seven and Counting by Kate Lunau

Biological Clock
an art project by Jennifer Rozbruch in which she examines the physical and personal life cycle of the female as prescribed by traditional social norms—from puberty to sex, love, marriage, and motherhood. Made from a working clock, its hand follows a timeline of personal milestones that many women feel they must achieve on a particular schedule.

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Filed under Culture, Hollywood, Love

Bi-coastal-curious

artwork by: Nan Lawson

April 5, 2013

I’ve been back in Los Angeles for a few months now and it’s becoming clear to me that I’m going to need to fashion a more bi-coastal lifestyle so I can spend time in both of the cities I love. I met this wicked cool artist selling her illustrations in a booth at the Union Square Holiday Market who was raised in Orange County, lived in NYC for many years, and now lives in Portland. She travels throughout the year selling her work at some of the best arts & crafts fairs around the country and then returns home to Oregon. We bonded over being California gals who lived and loved NYC, but couldn’t stomach the daily grind anymore. Other cities better suit our more laid back constitution, desire for natural surroundings, and thankfully, afford us home studios where we can make art on a consistent basis.

Yes, this is the type of lifestyle I wish to create. Spending time in multiple locations mixing it up is essential for megawatt personal growth. Travel by its very nature, opens your eyes, keeps you on your toes, refreshes your perspective. Home base acts as a creative sanctuary. I can only be in one place at a time, but if I’m imaginative about it, I bet I can shoot for the best of both worlds. I’m certainly going to try.

I must say, I’m not especially interested in having a monogamous relationship – with NYC or LA. Serial monogamy still holds a certain appeal, however, as there are many other spectacular cities worthy of a longer gander during this particular incarnation of my soul. Perhaps I’m ready to explore a more “polyamor-metropolis” lifestyle.  This has not been my typical modus operandi, mind you, but apparently, NY has encouraged my mind to open even wider in regards to the flexible forms relationships can take, despite my almost constant battle with that concept over the years. Bottom line: it is natural to have love for more than one place, person, or thing at a time. The more open your heart is, the more space there is for many desires to flourish simultaneously, the more exploration one is wont to do.

My open mind also thinks it sounds like a fantastic idea to structure my life so that I can enjoy spending time with men from both coasts. They are so different and yet so complementary. I get a spectrum of desires met by both. Oh please, may I have one of each? Sounds good in theory, but seriously, it’s never really been my style and the older I get, the less inclined I am to extol the virtues of multi-tasking. Ideally, there’s a man out there somewhere who understands and appreciates the beautiful complexities of both NY and CA, and is open to building a bi-coastal existence together.

During the last of my Manhattan years, I think that’s what I was secretly wishing to find in a mate – a New York man who, shortly after falling in love with me, would realize his readiness for change and be up for giving the west coast a try. When I revealed this to my best friend one day, she said, “If you want to be with man who’s interested in living in CA, why don’t you find one who’s already there?!”

She had a point, a good one that made increasingly more sense as time wore on. As I ultimately discovered, it’s much more difficult to encounter a west coast man living in the east. They are not as apt to flock that direction. East coast men in the west, however? Surprisingly abundant! As a few “east gone west” men have confided, “once you get a taste of the left coast life, you rarely venture back again, except to visit.”

Bi-coastalism, while also good in theory, is not as easy as it sounds in practice. Many people try it for a while – winters + summers in California, spring + fall in NYC – until one place inevitably seems to win out. While six-hour flights aren’t too terribly long in the scheme of things, they do tend to take their toll with frequency.

I admit, I struggle with chronic “grass is greener syndrome”, wondering if I’ll ever be 100% happy with where I am in the present moment, but I know I’m not alone. When it comes down to it though, your dissatisfaction is really about you, not your whereabouts. When you move, you don’t leave all those things you’re disenchanted with behind, you take them with you. They are you. Certain circumstances and dynamics, habits and patterns may change when you uproot yourself, but they might not, so be forewarned. YOU are ultimately the common denominator in your restless quest for greener pastures.

The flip side of that coin is, the city you choose to leave may not change either and will in all likelihood, remain much the same place you left, if you decide to return. Many of the things I disliked about LA are still very much a part of LA. I just accept it all a little more readily now. Many of things I initially loved about NY, eventually drove me rather nuts and made me want to flee.

Some people like to stay in one place and nest, others prefer to roam and experiment. I’ve got a dash of both – one part homebody artist introvert, one part wander lusting traveler social butterfly. Who says I have to choose? I believe in having my cake and eating it too, since I never much understood that expression anyway. I appreciate the merits of dwelling in Los Angeles and the last few months have taught me that I’m gonna need to scratch that NY itch ‘cause it ain’t going away. Therefore, I hereby set the intention to visit NY at least 2 – 3 times a year, ideally mixing pleasure and business, in an attempt to satisfy my myriad desires and explore my budding bi-coastal-curiosity.

CA & NY

May 20, 2013

I booked a plane ticket back to NY a few weeks ago. I made arrangements for places to stay, scheduled lots of quality hang time with friends, made a list of all the art events I wanted to check out (particularly: Recalling 1993, Street and Punk at the Met, the architectural sculptures along Park Avenue, Orly Genger’s rope installation in Madison Square Park, just to name a few). I planned to spend Memorial Day weekend in Brooklyn, eating my way through Smorgasburg, staying at the Wythe Hotel, going to see the Shins concert in Williamsburg Park. I looked forward to capping off the trip with a few days on Fire Island as a guest at my friend’s summer share. I even came up with a story idea to write while I was in town, did a ton of research, booked reservations, and then… it didn’t feel right.

What?! Are you kidding me? After everything you’ve been posting about NYC these past few months? All the missing and pining and lamenting you’ve been doing! Now you aren’t gonna go?! Have you lost your mind, lady?

Let’s just say that, while many awesome plans did indeed fall into place that would’ve made for a fantastic reunion with NY, others did not. A couple of gigs that were supposed to make this a work trip as well, got postponed for the time being. Then there was an unfortunate hiccup with a guy I’d briefly dated and had been maintaining a long distance flirtation with since I left. I’d literally just finished arranging some stellar plans for our much discussed and long overdue rendezvous, when he informed me that he’d recently run into his ex-gf and they’d decided to give it another try. Doh! C’est la vie. Timing really is everything.

In the weeks leading up to this triumphant NY return, I kept saying to friends that I felt as if I needed to go back, in order to move forward. Many friends who’ve left NY have also made a similar boomerang, and thus, understood my inclination. They also shared that, when they did go back, they soon realized they didn’t belong there anymore. One said, “Get used to it. You think you’re beyond it, you’re enjoying a new life, and then that pang for NYC sneaks up on you unexpectedly, at random times, months, even years later. It never completely goes away.”

Nevertheless, I wanted to catch up in person with the friends I’d been missing so much. I desired some spring romance after months of anticipation. I ached to see how NY would feel again after putting some much needed distance between us. Was I right to leave or would I consider living there again? I thought the only way to know for sure was to go back and trigger some epiphanies. Maybe then I’d finally be able to embrace LA in a way that I’d not yet been able to, if I could just get this out of my system.

But as my departure date crept closer, I attracted answers, and my heart said: This isn’t the right time. I don’t need to go back so soon. I really miss my friends, but they ARE still a part of my life. We talk on the phone all the time. They’ll understand. They’ll come and visit too. Do what’s best for you right now.

So, to my surprise, I’m not ready to go back to NY yet. I don’t need to walk the streets and realize I don’t belong there anymore. I left. I know that already. I don’t need to go back to move forward, I just need to move forward. There are other places on the map that are stirring my wanderlust. I spent the past 5 years in NY. I should venture somewhere else! I want to experience California’s beauty again – take a road trip up the coast, through redwood forests and wine country, up to the Bay Area, visit my west coast friends. I’d love to return to my beloved Hawaii, or go travel somewhere I’ve never been – Bali, Italy, Spain, or ?!

New York will be there. My life in Los Angeles is achieving its own forward momentum and I’m in the midst of a bunch of projects that I’m really enjoying. I’ve only just begun to lay the groundwork and build anew. Stay the course. I need to trust the instincts that encouraged me to move on and pursue uncharted territory.

Reality check: I know I have a bad habit of staying stuck in the past and waiting to see if something might still be there, even when I really know better. I’ve held onto people and places I’ve loved way longer than necessary. I’ve given too much credence to my doubts and engaged in a ton of second-guessing. I’ve put myself through emotionally trying situations only to discover that, yes in fact, that was wrong for me, and damn it, I knew that already!

This is a real opportunity to move forward, full steam ahead. Choosing not to go back to NY means I’m making progress. I’ve officially turned a corner and this is a good sign. Sure, I’ve made the mistake of wasting precious time gazing far too long in the rear view mirror, but now I’m actively focusing on the present, and the future, without dragging myself through the proverbial mud first. Looks like I finally learned that lesson! I guess it just took awhile for my heart to catch up to what my head already knew.

We’re on the cusp of summer here and you know what? It’s high time I give up the struggle! I’m releasing this weird fear of being happy and comfortable in Los Angeles. I’m moving my bi-coastal-curiosity to the back burner. It might stay there permanently; I might opt to stir that pot when I’ve got a new body of work to tour with. Never say never. Right now, California and the Pacific Coast is calling my name and I’m eager to get re-acquainted, sans regrets.

i heart california

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Have you ever thought you needed to revisit the past in order to move forward? Did you ever desire something so whole-heartedly, only to suddenly experience a moment of clarity and completely change course? I’d like to hear your story, so please leave a comment below. If this post resonates with you, share with a friend, and be sure to SUBSCRIBE (in the top right hand corner of this page) so you can receive all my freshly pressed posts directly to your inbox when they go live every week!

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Artwork by: Nan Lawson. Check out her delightful store on etsy.com!

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Filed under Art, Culture, Dreams, Hollywood, Love, New York City, Travel, Writing

Back in “LA LA Land”

California Dreaming

I’ve always disliked that nickname for Los Angeles – “LA LA Land” – it implies this city is some sort of fantasyland where its inhabitants perpetually flit about with their heads in the clouds, in the relentless pursuit of stardom and success, jetsetting on flights of the imagination and building castles in the sky, while basking in the eternal sunshine of our spotless minds. Well, okay, perhaps there’s a little something to that assertion, on the surface, but that’s a topic I’ll tackle in a future post about what I consider to be the real Los Angeles.

Having spent the last 5 years living in a rough ‘n tumble concrete jungle and observing how Hollywood is perceived by the rest of the world, I can appreciate why folks might erroneously draw such conclusions. After all, it is particularly dreamy here in California – dynamite climate all year round; pretty people; clean streets; pioneering free spirits; health consciousness; cinema studios; silicon valleys; beaches, bays, forests, mountains; 500+ miles of beauty from head to toe! Can you really blame us for being so happy-go-lucky?

Disclaimer: I’m not particularly crazy about the abbreviation “LA” either, but I’m about to use it a whole lot because it does make for convenient short hand. Respectfully, this is Los Angeles, City of Angels! Otherwise known as: HOME.

hwdgratitude

Being back in Los Angeles this time around has been a literal breath of fresh air. The weather = absolute perfection = warm + sunny, blue skies + gentle breezes. So grateful not to be freezing my ass off back east right now! I love being back in my home, giving it some much needed TLC. I’m clearing out the cobwebs, re-discovering all the beautiful keepsakes I’ve collected over the years that I left behind in storage. I’m having fun doing a bit of re-decorating, making the house my own again. I’ve got so much more space it’s taken me a bit of time to get used to spreading my wings and inhabiting it fully. I had all the overgrown brush hacked away and am bringing my garden back to life – planting succulents, resurrecting the compost bin, sowing the seeds of my vegetable & herb garden, giving patio furniture a fresh coat of paint. I’m getting buff from all this diggin’ in the dirt. My skin already has a lovely sun kissed glow and it’s only March! Hummingbirds buzz through the yard daily, gracing me with good juju as they suck nectar from the birds of paradise. It’s so gorgeous and peaceful here, my little slice of heaven.

productivewinter

I am home again, in my comfort zone, but it’s fresh. It’s weird to be back in the city where I grew up and feel like we’re strangers. I don’t know if this or that is still open. There are all these new places I don’t know anything about. It’s a disconcerting feeling, especially since I pride myself on having my finger on the pulse and knowing exactly where to go. LA feels at once familiar and yet rather alien. But that’s exactly what I wanted. I always said if I ever returned to homebase #1, I’d want it to be my choice, on my own terms, and for it to feel brand spankin’ new again. Mission accomplished.

mulholland dr

How fortunate I am to be able to take a time out; to take stock, re-group, and contemplate what’s important to my soul again. I made a decision to put myself first this year and follow my bliss, take my passions off the back burner and place them squarely in front of me. What are my priorities? What do I really want to create in this space and in my life? What do I most want to do with my time and resources? LA affords me the ability to marinate in these questions for a spell and focus on the task of re-inventing myself for this next stage of the game.

I just enrolled in Marie Forleo’s B-School – a sassy, no nonsense online business and marketing class for women entrepreneurs – so I can really hit the ground running and get super pro-active about developing a new business plan + lifestyle that’s in alignment with my current interests. I’m ready to put into practice all these ephiphanies I’ve been having about my work, art, and life. I can already see how much NY got inside my veins and how that go-getter drive is manifesting now that I’m back.

Thrilled as I am about all the positive shifts taking place, one of my oldest, dearest friends called me tonight to ask, “Are you happy back in LA?” Apparently, my recent FaceBook statuses may indicate otherwise. Yes, of course, I’m happy. But her question did strike a nerve and I found myself trying to reconcile the conflicting complexities of my simultaneous desire to be both present in LA and back in NY.

feelings co-exist

I mean, it’s only been 7 weeks. It takes time to re-adjust. I just spent the last 5 years in NYC living a totally different existence. I didn’t even return home once in the last two years. I barely left Manhattan at all, for months at a time. NY got her hooks in good and when you’re entrenched, it regularly feels like you just can’t pull yourself away. Opportunities crop up lightning fast, so many irons are constantly in the fire at once, if you dare leave, you just might miss something. Or so I told myself.

I won’t lie. My head and heart are still very much in NYC. I miss walking the streets; the electricity in the air; my friends; my favorite spots to drink, dine, and daydream. Hell, I even miss the damn smells. I had a dream the other night that I was getting on an airplane, thinking, “I can’t believe I’m going back so soon!” Another dream a few nights later, had me navigating the maze of Manhattan, desperately trying to get home because I forgot to pay my rent, a whopping $2000/mo. When I finally walk through the door, I discover a tiny, windowless, empty room. I have no belongings because I’m too busy busting my ass at work to actually furnish it. NYC literally haunts me in my sleep.

I guess this transition would’ve been easier if I hated NYC. But I don’t. I still love her. I’m straddling the US, metaphorically speaking – one foot’s back in LA, the other’s still in NYC, and doubts about whether I made the right choice continue to linger.

I do still wonder if I should’ve given it more time. I started searching for apartments in Brooklyn before I left, thinking perhaps that charming, slightly quieter borough might be the answer to my chronic dissatisfaction. Searching NYC apartment listings is a super depressing exercise, especially when you’ve lived elsewhere and are able to draw comparisons to how much more bang for your buck you’d get anywhere else on the planet. That last ditch effort at apartment hunting truly tested my power to maintain a cheery outlook. I give myself credit for doing it fairly diligently there for a while, but day by day, I slowly lost faith in my amazingly fortunate real estate karma and ability to manifest yet another flexible miracle, rent-stabilized abode.

I’d already moved 3 times in the span of 5 years while living in Manhattan. I no longer wanted to live in someone else’s place with their ugly ass furniture while they were indefinitely out of town, and run the risk of being kicked out again once they decided their adventure elsewhere was over. Nor was I keen on living with 3 roommates, for which I’d still have the pleasure of paying at least $1000/mo., after living alone for the past 19 years. As a freelance artist, I don’t make 20 times the amount of rent that most NYC landlords insist upon to even consider your application, and the hooping jumping required to sign a lease is utterly absurd!

Brooklyn does indeed rock, and I very much wanted to join the community at 3rd Ward, and have the experience of living there too before I left NY for good, but when reflecting upon what I really envisioned for my life in the long run – spacious living, studio space, travel, warm weather, having a child – I just wasn’t convinced that Brooklyn was really the answer to my prayers either. When I began to think that relocating across the country would be easier/more appealing than moving across the river, I knew I was done with NYC. Once that decision was made, a huge weight began to lift from my shoulders… sort of.

finalchapternyc

Saying goodbye to NYC was no cakewalk. In those final days leading up to my departure, I walked the streets choking back tears, visiting all my favorite places, one more time, for now. I seriously wondered how I could make the decision to leave a place that I loved so much, the city that was now my home away from home, with so many friends who’d become like family to me. But I just knew I had to. Sometimes love isn’t enough. I may be a romantic, but I’m also a pragmatist. My current apartment sublet had become an unbearable daily onslaught of threats, bullying, and stress, and I no longer had the will to fight. It was simply time to let go and move on.

aurevoirnyc

You can be certain about a choice you’ve made and also have doubts; mixed emotions and why-if-onlys will still fuck with your head. As such, my LA re-entry has been a bit of a rollercoaster. At first, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. It’s finally over now. I’m home. I can relax. I settled in, enjoying the creature comforts of home and the abundance of natural beauty, but I also continue to long for all I left behind…

anothertrytugowar

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Have you ever made a gut-wrenching decision to let go of something you still love? Are you torn between two people, places, or things? I’d like to hear your story, so please leave a comment below. If this post resonates with you, share with a friend, and be sure to SUBSCRIBE (in the top right hand corner of this page) so you can receive all my freshly pressed posts directly to your inbox when they go live every week!

Coming up next: exploring my bi-coastal-curiosity and what happened when I decided to return to NYC…

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Filed under Culture, Dreams, Hollywood, Love, New York City, Writing

A Change of Heart

Part 3 of My Hurricane Sandy Diaries

Saturday November 10:

I did not cry throughout the Hurricane Sandy blackout experience (save a couple moments when my eyes welled up over people’s heartbreaking stories of pain and loss). Not until yesterday that is, when I finally broke down and let it ALL out – a long, heaving sob about everything. I haven’t done that in a long time.

I am aware that it’s rather silly to cry about anything I’m going through right now. People died during the storm, others lost everything. I’m gonna cry because I had no power for a week? Because telecom services are still down in my neighborhood, so I’ve had no Internet access for days and I can’t send text messages? Chock it up to Mercury retrograde. This too shall pass.

Hurricane Sandy really did put life in perspective – what’s worth getting worked up about and what isn’t – which is why I’m acutely aware that these tears are really not about any temporary communication snafus. The truth is, I just can’t do this anymore. I think I’m ready to move back to Los Angeles.

nyc-vs-la.fall

If I’m really being honest with myself, I need to admit that I’m fed up with New York and I have been for a while. I’m sick of the break neck pace of this city. The gritty, dirty, smelliness. The crazy people shouting in the street. The drunks & junkies passed out in the middle of the sidewalk. The young partygoers who step right over them in their short skirts and stilettos without so much as a second thought.  The NYU kids, and bridge & tunnel set, who infiltrate my neighborhood to get wicked drunk and act stupid, then throw up all over the place and go home.

I’m sick of hostile, selfish jerks fighting about meaningless bullshit. I’m sick of people constantly approaching me on the street; always trying to sell me something; disguising their agenda; wanting a hand out. I’m sick of lacking in personal space. I’m sick of jam-packed subway trains; waiting for buses that never come on schedule; navigating through hoards of people everywhere I go. I’m sick of being “a bag lady” that has to carry 20 lbs of crap around all day because it’s not feasible to run home between meetings. I’m sick of buying too many groceries and having to lug them 15 blocks + 5 flights of stairs, when I can’t get a cab. I’m sick of dragging all my dirty laundry 4 blocks to the nearest filthy Laundromat. I’m sick of how expensive it is to live here. I’m sick of busting my ass at multiple jobs just to barely make ends meet. I’m sick of my rude, nosy landlady; tiptoeing around to avoid her; living without hot water and heat at least several days out of every month, even though she just raised my rent. I’m sick of freezing cold winters; all those lost months spent indoors waiting for the return of pleasant weather. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m sick of it ALL.

Yep, I’m coming to the realization that the pace and tenor of this city just doesn’t suit me. I’m a California gal, who runs on California time, at California speed. I need more nature than the park can provide. I need sunshine, space, clean streets, some peace and quiet, please! I’m also realizing that I gave up a pretty lovely life back in Los Angeles – a beautiful little home in a picturesque hillside neighborhood; a foxy Volkswagen at the ready in my garage; my family close by.

It’s not that I didn’t appreciate these things before, I DID, but perhaps I have an even greater appreciation now that I’ve lived in Manhattan. I was always aware of, and very grateful for my extremely good fortune, which is probably why I never truly set the wheels in motion to live in another city, even though I thought about it for years. Sure, I daydreamed of giving San Francisco, Seattle, or Hawaii a go, but I never thought I’d actually have the guts to move or the wherewithal to successfully thrive outside of my hometown.

lavsnybandw

I never thought NYC was a place I’d ever live. In fact, I was quite sure it would “chew me up and spit me out.” Yet it called me. Once I began to explore the possibility, events unfolded rather effortlessly to move me cross-country. I needed to get out of my comfort zone, go somewhere completely different, and kick my life up a notch. I had a lot to prove, to myself mostly, about what I’m truly capable of. New York gave me that. She toughened me up and forced me hustle. I needed that swift kick in the pants and she delivered in spades.

But New York has also worn me out. I feel like I’ve aged 2 years for every one I’ve lived here. I’m tired. And lonely. I need some love, not another hard knock lesson. This city can light you up like a firework, make you feel as if you’re living the dream, and are the luckiest person alive just to be a part of it. It can also be harsh and unforgiving. New York doesn’t owe you anything. She’s not going to make it easy on you. She may even kick you while you’re down, if you’re not careful. Sometimes when you’re at your wit’s end, she might cut you some slack, but probably not for long. There are certainly many other friendlier places on Earth to live. New York is great if you: have money (and lots of it); thrive on chaos; require constant stimulation; are a workaholic; have ADD, a thick skin, and a high tolerance for other people’s suffering; don’t need a lot of space; can’t exist outside of epic urban habitats.

Perhaps I’m just too sensitive to live here. Maybe I want an easier life after all. Is that so wrong? I don’t want to struggle anymore. I don’t have to. I’m lucky. I can leave. I have a choice, a Plan B, a really awesome one at that.

It’s true, I let opportunities slip through the cracks. I had an abundance of good ideas that I didn’t follow up on. I chose to prioritize the needs of my clients, for the sake of making money, over the things that I’m really passionate about. I took the safer path and thought small. I lacked faith in my abilities. Often I didn’t have the energy, or the inclination, to compete in this cutthroat game. Maybe I could have taken greater risks, thrown more caution to the wind, but it ultimately goes back to the pace thing. I just didn’t have it in me, to do it all and devote myself 24/7. I want a life that’s about more than work.

I might’ve had it when I first moved here. There was a time when I was willing to do whatever it took to stay in New York. While living in my first apartment, I was suddenly given 25 days to move out and at that time, going back to LA simply was NOT an option. I wasn’t going to leave NY before I was ready. This was my dream. I wanted to build a life here. No one was going to take that away from me. Yeah, I had that drive at one point, but I lost it somewhere along the way. To be fair, I did try especially hard to make this work. I applied for hundreds of jobs. I worked at a vintage clothing boutique on Orchard Street (before it went out of business), as a home/office organizer, a photography assistant,  a stylist, a hand model, an executive assistant for several high-profile CEOs, all the while pursuing my own personal writing and photography projects. I explored lots of avenues, but nothing really stuck. I kept giving it more time, hoping all these irons in the fire would manifest into my “big break” if I could just be patient a little longer.

There was a time in NYC’s history when you could live in Greenwich Village as an artist and not have a job. You could just be an artist. What a revolutionary concept. It’s what people did and there was a community here to support that – in the 1920’s era of Edna St. Vincent Mallay and Dorothy Parker; in the 1950/60’s Beat Generation era of Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan; and in the 1980’s “NY 500″ era of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Keith Haring. It was a profoundly grittier Village then, but you could survive with a little help from your friends. Everyone: paint, write, perform, produce shows, make films, host salons; express yourself, tune in, drop out! But those scenes don’t exist anymore. When millionaire developers buy up nursing homes and low-income tenement buildings to erect glass box condo lofts for the mega-rich, and rent for a 300-square-foot shoebox can easily run you $2000 per month, how does anyone manage to live here without earning a six-figure salary?

can't afford to love ny

I did periodically re-evaluate, but the answer I kept receiving: “Give it another year. It’s not time to pull up stakes yet.” People would always tell me, “It takes at least a year to feel comfortable in NY. It takes at least 3 years to get your bearings. It takes at least 5 years to really establish yourself here.” And in the back of my mind, lingered this nagging question, “Yeah but, at what point do you read the writing on the wall and decide that enough is enough?”

2012 certainly fit that bill, serving as a huge mirror and provoking much reflection. The year kicked off with bang, when the guy I’d been dating unexpectedly had a New Year’s Eve freak out and broke up with me shortly after midnight. This coincided with the equally sudden passing of my landlord in his apartment downstairs and the unbearable stench of death that lingered in our building for months. Spring packed its own punches as I was hired and then subsequently fired from what I thought was my “dream job”. A series of nasty legal disputes, violations of privacy, and abusive threats turned my once comfortable apartment sublet into an intolerable source of stress. Thankfully, summer blessed me with a few desperately needed getaways to Kismet, Fire Island. And fall graced me with a trip to the rolling hills of Burgenland, Austria where the emphasis on fine wine, family, tradition, and luxuriating illuminated life’s paramount importances to me. Then of course, Hurricane Sandy pummeled the East Coast in late October, yielding the biggest lessons of the year.

are you happy?

So, as a result of all this soul-searching, I’m finally clear on a few things: I want to be an entrepreneurial artist, not a corporate career gal. I want to have the time and means to pursue my passions: for food, drink, culture, and travel; research, writing, photography, and cartography. I want to live in a house, ideally close to the ocean, that reflects my personal design sensibilities. I want to travel and see the world. I don’t want to work multiple jobs that I have no vested interest in for some overpriced, cramped apartment that will never belong to me, and doesn’t afford the opportunity to venture much of anywhere else.

I want a creative, collaborative partnership with a compassionate, free-spirited man who values the balance of work and play; who desires true love rather than perpetual bachelorhood. Not too many New York men are looking for this with so many beautiful options at their disposal. (Yes, I chose that word on purpose.) Also, I don’t see myself raising a child here. The idea of walking down the streets of Manhattan with a baby, amidst this swirling chaos, scares the bejeezus out of me. (Not to mention, the schools are so expensive and competitive!)

New York certainly got its hooks in me good though. I definitely bought into the work driven, fast paced, single serving, hustle bustle. I may have even convinced myself that I’d be content building a life here for the long haul. But a part of me will always feel out of alignment with this place. You can take the gal out of California, but you can’t take California out of the gal. It’s where I come from and it’s a huge part of who I am. The Universe planted me there from the beginning for a reason.

There was a time when I equated going back to LA with failure. If that happened, it would mean I wasn’t strong/ambitious/talented enough to hack it in NY and I’d return to being all the things I’d left behind – single, isolated, bored, and complacent, again. But things have changed, I’ve changed. I’m the one who gives meaning to my experiences. I can choose to see this return as a new and exciting, completely different era, a clean slate. I’ve gained a much clearer understanding of who I am and what I want out of life. I’ve got this NY energy coursing through my veins now and I can put it to better use in LA. It’s simply impossible to go back to the way things were in the past.

So, does this mean I don’t love NY anymore? Hell no! Quite the contrary. Much like a love affair, you can love someone deeply and know that they’re not a good match for you, that you’re not long-term material, and your destiny lies elsewhere, impossible as it may feel to walk away. I can’t change the things I don’t love about NY, that’s just who she is, and I need to accept her, worts and all.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid to go back to LA. I am afraid to fall into old patterns and habits. I’m afraid to drive again. I’m afraid I’ll be filled with regret, miss NY, and feel as if I made a terrible mistake. I’m afraid I won’t be able to make my new career dreams come true or meet my ideal romantic partner there either. I’m afraid to go backwards, rather than forward.

It’s clear to me now that my biggest blocks about returning to LA are mental ones. It’s all a matter of perspective that I alone am responsible for. I choose my attitude, thoughts, and actions. YES, it is time to read the writing on the wall. Not just read it, but do something about it. I don’t need to fear this. I need to listen to my heart and let go of the things that are no longer serving my highest good! Life is too damn short. I have faith because, you know what? I trust myself and this change finally feels right…

make the jump

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Have you ever been guided to make a big move? Did you experience a series of AHA! moments that prompted you to change your life’s path? I’d love to hear your story, so please leave a comment below. If this post resonates with you, share with a friend, and be sure to SUBSCRIBE (in the top right hand corner of this page) so you can receive all my freshly pressed posts directly to your inbox when they go live every week!

Coming up next week: Living in New York is a lot like having a love affair…

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Introducing: Eye For Style Services

Welcome to Eye For Style Services, a personal concierge service for all your dining, entertainment, shopping, and travel needs! I love turning other savvy souls onto my favorite things, creating memorable moments, and helping people live their best life. I’m a bonafide tastemaker with very high-standards, and lucky for you, I’ve got an arsenal of carefully curated sources and contacts, insider deals and tricks-of-the-trade, right at my fingertips and ready to tap at a moment’s notice. So, you share your vision, and I’ll make it a reality. No dream is too big or small. Imagine the possibilities…

Service #1: Just a Suggestion

Do you need a spot-on recommendation? Where’s the perfect bar for a casual drink, or cool restaurant for a hot date? Where do you take that hard to impress client or out-of-town friend? What’s the quintessential boutique to find that perfect gift? Call me for a quickie phone consult and I’ll help you locate a guaranteed “no fail zone” to get exactly what you’re looking for. Don’t have time to take care of all the particulars? No worries. I’ll do the research, make the arrangements, and message you the deets. You just show up – and take all the credit for your impeccable taste.

From $40/hr.

Service #2: Wanderluster’s Cure

Desperately need a weekend getaway? Fantasizing about your next vacation abroad? Call me for a quick phone consult and tell me what kind of respite you’re craving. Whether it be spa, sports, or sightseeing, I’ll do my homework and provide you with a short list of available destinations, tailored specifically to your interests and budget. Don’t have time to make all the trip arrangements yourself? Fear not! I’ll customize a complete travel itinerary, from transportation to hotel, activities and eateries, for that perfect solo expedition, romantic escapade, or family adventure you’ve been dreaming of. Just pack your bags and prepare to explore new horizons. I’ll handle every tiny detail, you send me a postcard.

From $60/hr

Service #3: Omnivore’s Dilemma

Want to have a few friends over to chill? Host a fancy dinner party? Create a romantic evening in for 2? Call me for a quickie phone consult and share your culinary vision. I’ll head to Eataly, Chelsea Market, Dean & Deluca, Whole Foods, whatever you’re in the mood for, to custom-design a terrific food & drink menu for you and yours. I’ll procure the all the necessary ingredients for you to cook, or devise an easy to assemble, pre-prepared feast. Better yet, hire one of my favorite private chefs and sommeliers to cater every course in style! Let your guests in on the action, or pretend you did all the work yourself. It’s our little secret.

From $80/hr

Service #4: Ready to Wear

Looking for a few new pieces to perk up your closet this season? Does your wardrobe need a complete overhaul? Don’t have time to find that perfect outfit for an event? No sweat! Eye For Style offers personal wardrobe services, with a seasoned commercial stylist, specifically suited to your needs, taste, and budget. We’ll shop together at your favorite shops or I’ll bring a collection of handpicked items right to your home or office. Looking fashionable has never been so fun and easy!

From $80/hr

Service #5: Order From Chaos

For information about my home & office organizing services, please click here.

Can’t wait to get started? Kick off your quickie consult via this request form:

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Testimonials from happy clients provided upon request. Just ask!

Food & wardrobe services available in New York City and Los Angeles only.

Personal concierge & travel services available in the United States.

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Artwork by: freya art and design. Check out her delightful store on etsy.com!

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GVSHP Village House Tour Benefit – May 1, 2011

This Sunday is Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s 13th Annual House Tour Benefit and it will offer exceptional access into seven of the Village’s finest and most exclusive homes.

This year’s tour highlights include a stately Italianate home with an elaborately-paneled entrance and intricate, original moldings; an artist’s townhouse and studio with an unexpected layout and surprising hidden features, including a backyard treehouse; a 350-square foot apartment with anything but a small sense of style accessed by a splendid shared courtyard; an art collector’s two-floor retreat featuring a life-sized mosaic tile tree; an extra-wide townhouse with Victorian-era details, once the home of Emily Post; and a traditional townhouse featuring a restored stoop and façade and an interior rich with period detail, some salvaged from other Village residences.

Advance tickets may be purchased online before April 30 and will be available for pick up on May 1st after 12:30 pm at Greenwich House Music School. The tour is completely self-guided, rain or shine, from 1 – 5:30 pm, and a cocktail reception will follow the tour at a private townhouse in the neighborhood atop a stunning roof deck.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon in The Village and support a very worthy cause while you’re at it. GVSHP is at the forefront of the fight to protect still un-designated portions of Greenwich Village and a leader against NYU’s massive 2031 expansion plan. While NYU seems determined to take over the Village for their megolithic purposes, GVSHP is thankfully one of the only organizations to continuously hold NYU accountable for the promises they’ve made to the neighborhood, and serve as community watchdog to make sure the university responsibly rehabs its existing properties. They are invested in the push to move NYU’s future expansion plans to the Financial District, so that the spirit and integrity of Greenwich Village may be preserved for future generations. Be sure to take a look at their website to see the all myraid community causes they’re involved in, and if these issues speak to you as well, please buy a tour ticket in support or make a donation. Every little bit helps!

 

The weather promises to be lovely (fingers crossed), so if you’re interested in making a whole weekend of it, consider also attending the OHNY and Fourth Arts Block (FAB) Tour of East 4th Street on 
Saturday, April 30 at 1pm.

FAB is rooted in the Lower East Side’s long history of hosting community and cultural spaces that served marginalized immigrants, artists, and activists. In the 1960s and ‘70s, East 4th Street coalesced as a center for experimental theater and film. Four decades later, the block’s cultural groups founded FAB to preserve and develop these historic arts spaces.

The tour grants you access to many of the East 4th Street theaters, promoting an opportunity for discussion and awareness of how FAB weaves the arts with neighboring small businesses to strengthen a distinctive East Village cultural and community identity. To buy tickets, click here.

 

*Sidenote: The fact that I’m mentioning any of this at all, makes it official. I’m turning into my mother.

I jest, but seriously, I’m such a preservation/architecture/design nerd in my own right that GVSHP made me a docent captain for their House Tour Benefit this year. I’ve volunteered as a docent for the last 3 years running and it’s definitely one of the events I most look forward to every spring. I’m a freelance artist, and tickets aren’t cheap, so volunteering my time is an ideal way to participate. I love meandering through the Village with a map, exploring those yet undiscovered nooks and crannies of my neighborhood, and gaining unprecendented access to the crème de la crème of NYC residences. It is a rare treat to actually enter these homes that I walk by every day, and oogle the impeccable design, art collections, and impressive restorations. The tour always inspires to me to dream big about what I’ll create in my own future West Village rowhouse and secret garden (after I make my first couple of millions!) I also meet the nicest people every year and really look forward to the fascinating conversations I have with other die-hard Village lovers who are always chock full of interesting lore about these buildings and the illustrious residents who’ve inhabited them in the past.

You must understand that I find this passion of mine more than a little ironic because as a child, I was constantly dragged, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, to many a home and urban walking tour by my mother, Christy Johnson McAvoy, an esteemed historic preservation and architectural consultant in Los Angeles. She’s one of the founding members of Hollywood Heritage, multi-term President of the Los Angeles Conservancy and the California Preservation Foundation, among other notable credits.

I was affectionately known in these circles as “the preservation kid” growing up, undoubtedly attending more tours and conferences than many of the adult members of these organizations. I developed a well-earned reputation for being that incredibly well-behaved child who sat quietly in the corner entertaining myself with coloring books during Hollywood Heritage board meetings at Wattles Mansion. And I was probably one of the only people under the age of 30 to witness Cecil B. DeMille’s Barn crawl slowly through the streets of Hollywood on a flatbed truck in the wee hours of the morning as it made it’s 1983 pilgrimage from it’s original location (where it was in danger of succombing to the wrecking ball), to it’s now permanent resting place in the parking lot across from the Hollywood Bowl on Highland Avenue. When my Mom worked on the city surveys of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, I’d accompany her as she drove every block, and call out each home’s architectural style from the back seat, like it was a fun game. “Colonial Revival! Tudor! Craftsman!”

It was clear to me as a young girl, people in the preservation community admired my mother tremendously. She was extremely beloved and a singular wealth of knowledge on topic of historic preservation. Everyone wanted her involvement and advice. She was leagues ahead of her time, crafting her own niche and starting up her own consulting business, in a relatively unpopular field by Los Angeles standards. She was, and remains to this day, a human encyclopedia of architectural information, with a mind-boggling personal library and memorabilia archive to boot, that is virtually impossible to rival.

And while I recollect that it was sometimes fun to check out an infinite array of exclusive Hollywood landmarks and feel privy to rather sophicated circles at such a young age, I also remember wanting to just stay home and play with my toys, and thinking that other kid’s parents didn’t do this weird kind of stuff on the weekends. (“Awww, Mom. Can we go now?”)

As proud as I am of my mother, it became important to me to chart a different course and pursue my own interests as a grew older. Being the Hollywood chick that I am, it seemed a natural path to explore acting and filmmaking. I had an talent agent in my teens, and attended UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film, and TV, though I never quite felt 100% comfortable in front of the camera. As I realized I was more suited to creating behind the lens, I attended Art Center College of Design and majored in Film Directing.

Despite my best laid plans though, my mother’s passion for preservation and architecture did in fact rub off on me, and when presented with the opportunity to photograph a series of landmark buildings for the National Register of Historic Places and CA State Office of Historic Preservation after I graduated from film school, I was happy to oblige. I justified this because A) I needed the work and B) “it was more about photography than architecture”. Surprisingly, I found myself quite enjoying the work of photo documenting historic preservation and rehabilitation projects, and over the course of the next decade, I ended up photographing over 60 historic building projects in Los Angeles and California. (Read more “backstory” here)

So, I have to chuckle a little at myself now, when I attend these type of events – of my own volition and with great enthusiasm. Now that I live here in New York City, it’s actually become a way for me to stay connected to my mother and continue sharing our mutual passions. It’s impossible for me not to think of her during the GVHSP tour and I always end up calling her afterwards and sharing every little detail. I have great hope she’ll make it out one spring and join me for the tour. That will be one full circle moment, to be sure.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll think about taking your son or daughter on the tour with you! They might protest, want to touch stuff, and intermittenly act bored, but you might just plant a seed about the value of preserving the places of the past, for the future kids of Greenwich Village, and that IS actually pretty cool…

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you!

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Eat & Booze For a Good Cause

Times are tough, no question. The world is changing rapidly. Millions of people are in the midst of a daily struggle to survive. We are facing an overwhelming amount of devastating crises, both at home and abroad. We want to help, but don’t know where to start sometimes.

Food is one of the only common denominators in this world, across every culture, country, language, and religion, that truly brings people together. Breaking bread is a sacred experience. Sharing a meal creates lasting bonds. We demonstrate our love and respect through the food we serve to others. We can be of service to others by making wise choices about where and what we consume.

Luckily, there are an abundance of terrific opportunities to put your money where your mouth is this month. I’ve compiled a short list of the tastiest happenings, from coast to coast, so you can eat well for a good cause. If you know of other simpatico events, please feel free to comment with info and links, so we can all contribute to uplifting our global community.

 

Dine Out for Japan Relief: March 23 – 30, 2011

APA @NBC Universal is proud to partner with AZIX, Japanese American Association, New York State Restaurant Association, FEED and the restaurant industry for “Dine out for Japan Relief”.  For one week, participating restaurants will donate a portion of their profits to the Red Cross. A donation of 5%* from every breakfast, lunch and dinner meal will go toward disaster relief efforts to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami through the Pacific.

@ PARTICIPATING RESTAURANTS:

ABC Kitchen • Aburiya Kinnosuke • Alice’s Tea Cups • Asia de Cuba • Bar Basque

Bar Italia • Bogota Bistro 
• Brasserie Ruhlmann • Captain Bill’s • Carte Blanche

Cha-An • China Grill • Choshi • Crabtree’s Kittle House 
• Curry-Ya • Decibel

Ed’s Chowder House • The Empire Hotel Rooftop • FoodParc • Hakata Tonton

Havana Central • Hasaki 
• Ippudo NY • Jack the Horse Tavern • Jojo • Ko Sushi

Le Colonial Restaurant • Madison • The Mark Restaurant 
• The Mercer Kitchen

North Square Restaurant Orsay • Otafuku PDT • Perry St • Plunge
• Rai Rai Ken

Robataya • Sakagura • SD26 • Shabu-tatsu • Shimizu • Sobaya • Soba Totto

Sugar Bun Bakery 
• Tanuki Tavern • Telepan • Totto Ramen • Yakitori Totto

For more details, please visit:
www.nysra.org/DineOutforJapan

 

Fry for Life: March 16, 2011 –

@ Terroir Tribeca, 24 Harrison St. (at Greenwich St.); 212-625-9463.

& Terroir East Village, 413 E. 12th St. (at First Ave.)

Both Terroir wine bars are raising money for Japan relief one $6 plate of ginger-garlic-soy fried chicken at a time. All proceeds from the chicken go toward Doctors Without Borders in Japan. The recipe for these super crisp and juicy boneless chicken thighs is the same one that Yoshi Nonaka, a line cook at Hearth, uses for staff meals.


NY Vintners: March 24 – 30, 2011

@ 21 Warren Street, New York; 212.812.3999

100% of sales proceeds on all sake wine bottles will be donated to Japanese Earthquake Relief. For store hours and more information: http://www.newyorkvintners.com/


Brewers for Brewers Benefit: March 28, 2011; 7 – 10 pm

Brooklyn Brewery, 79 N. 11th St., Brooklyn; 718-486-7422 or goodbeerseal.com

New York-area brewers Sixpoint Craft Ales, Brooklyn Brewery, Heartland and Empire Brewing Co., team up with The Meat Hook for food, suds and a silent auction to raise money to aid their Japanese counterparts, the Kiuchi Brewery (makers of Hitachino), and other earthquake-damaged sake and beer breweries

Click here to purchase tickets.

 

The Village Voice’s Choice Eats: March 29, 2011; 6:30 – 9:30 pm

@ 69th Armory on Lexington Avenue, 68 Lexington Ave @ 26th Street, NYC


 

The Village Voice proudly presents their fourth annual curated Choice Eats tasting event. Handpicked restaurants and food trucks from all five boroughs featured in The Village Voice reviews are represented, along with complimentary craft beer pairings, wine and liquor-laced cocktails. A portion of the Choice Eats ticket sales will be donated to this year’s charitable partner, Slow Food NYC, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to achieving a good, clean, and fair food system.

For the complete list of participating restaurants and to purchase tickets, click here.

 

Punch Party for Japan: Monday April 11, 2011; 7 pm -

@ Summit Bar, 133 Ave C, New York

Show your support for Japan and enjoy some top-shelf punches in the process at this benefit going down at East Village’s best cocktail haunt, Summit Bar. Spirit brands like Pernod Absinthe, Beefeater and Belvedere have teamed up with mixologist, Greg Seider, to create six concoctions featuring Japan-inspired ingredients. Your $20 ticket (pay at the door) goes straight to the Japan Society Earthquake Relief Fund, and it scores you bottomless glasses of punch all evening. Whiskey lovers can also support the Yamazaki whiskey distillery by purchasing neat pours ($10) and whiskey cocktails ($12) while jamming to tunes from DJ Kimiko Masuda.

 

Taste of the Lower East Side – April 28, 2011;   7 – 10:30 pm

82 Mercer @ Spring Street, New York; 917.639.5850

This year’s 11th annual Taste of the Lower East Side will proudly feature the signature dishes from over 50 neighborhood restaurants and an all-night open bar of specialty cocktails. Benefiting the Grand Street Settlement, proceeds will be used to fund programs and services for Lower East Side community residents of all ages – from toddlers to teens, senior citizens and families.

This event was born in 2000 when a pioneering group of young professionals saw the neighborhood’s burgeoning restaurant scene as a terrific cultural resource and rallied the culinary community to help raise sorely needed funds to support the Grand Street Settlement’s various programs. The now yearly event has since enabled local restaurants, food lovers, and corporate sponsors alike to give back to the neighborhood and celebrate its diversity on an ongoing basis.  Despite the increasing business development and gentrification, the community continues to face serious social-economic issues and a great need for social services, so your support is greatly appreciated!

The event has grown in size every year since and is now thought of as a premier culinary event, drawing a crowd of 1000+ food lovers. This year’s event will feature music by Nick Pattakos, as well as a silent auction and raffle prizes – including a new iPad2, courtesy of Tekserve.

Participating restaurants include:

A Casa Fox – Alias – barrio chino – Beauty & Essex

Café Coradito – The Clerkenwell – Clinton St. Baking Co.

DBGB Kitchen & Bar – Double Crown – Edi & the Wolf

Falai Panetteria – The Fat Radish – Gemma

Hecho en Dumbo – Hotel on Rivington – ‘inoteca

Il Laboratorio Del Gelato – Kuma Inn – La Esquina

Little Giant – Loreley Restaurant & Biergarten – Macando

The Meatball Shop – Mercadito – Mercat – Mulberry Project

Northern Spy Food Co. – Olivia – Osteria Morini

Peels – Porchetta – Public – Pulino’s – Rayuela

Rice – Roni Sue’s Chocolates – Russ & Daughters – Salt Bar

San Marzano – Schiller’s Liquor Bar – The Stanton Social

Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery – Think Coffee – Tre

Vandaag – Veselka – wd50 – Yerba Buena

With beverages by:

Anheuser-Busch – Barcardi Rum – Barefoot Wine & Bubbly

Bombay Sapphire – Grey Goose Vodka – Izze Sparkling Juice

For a complete list of participating restaurants and sponsors, please visit: www.grandstreet.org/taste

To purchase tickets, click here. This is a 21+ event.


Global Street Food – May 1, 2011; 11 am – 1 pm

@ The Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica, CA

Join Evan Kleiman, host of KCRW’s Good Food, for an exploration of street food from around the globe. The OC Weekly’s Gustavo Arellano will join Evan and other special guests for a discussion on how street food can shape the culture of a city and influence what we eat.  Then, sample international street food flavors from some of L.A.’s best food trucks, including Mariscos JaliscoLet’s Be FrankIndia JonesPiaggio Gourmet on Wheels and the Nom Nom Truck alongside the warm Latin/African grooves of the Masanga Marimba Ensemble. Proceeds will benefit KCRW. With NPR and public radio funding under attack, they need your help more than ever!

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

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