Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil


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Crushes are Like Head Colds – And Other Brief Illnesses

whenyoulikeaguyI have a crush today.  I didn’t have a crush yesterday, or the day before. It came upon me today like a little sniffle and sore throat this morning, that suddenly spread into a full blown head cold – or crush. I’ve been there before. I know the signs. The only thing to do is to let it rage until it comes to pass.

This guy, this crush.  It means nothing, but it means everything.

Today. I can’t stop thinking of his kind eyes and his soft voice.

Today. I wallow in the thought of his talent and his history.

Tomorrow. More of the same until I try to dampen the affliction by realizing I’m not the only one who feels this way about this person – or crushes in general.

Why do we have crushes?  Is it the introvert’s panacea for not being able to forge ahead in life? Is it because we don’t actually want to connect in a relationship, allowing us to write the story of this person in our mind without having to deal with possible hurt or humiliation?

Or are some people lucky, and their crushes become their lovers, their partners or their spouses?  Perhaps there is something in the mind of the crusher that believes the fairytale will come true. Maybe just this once – it will be the way it happened with so and so – or the fan who became the wife.

Maybe one day I will know him on a friendly basis – after this raging head cold of a crush dies down into a dried up nose and remnants of old Ricola cough drop wrappings. Perhaps then, I’ll meet him when my heart isn’t lobbing out of my chest and throbbing on the floor at his feet, and my post nasal drip isn’t tickling my throat cough reflex.

After all, a crush is like a quick 24 hour bug, making you wallow in the lovely snotty fever dream caused by an antihistamine buzz. The fog brain of day dreaming about great sex in fun places comes in frequent times of the day, like blowing your nose and nettipotting.

You loose minutes as you stare off into space thinking how his soft expression makes your mind wander off into twilight meditation, like taking Dayquil and falling asleep during a commercial while watching ‘Dr. Oz’.

Those imaginings are equivalent to the dry mouth that wakes you up in the middle of the night because your sinuses are clogged.

Daydreaming about a crush is a symptom of wanting to get lost from reality of life. It’s an act of love addiction, where you long for the feeling – but you are in control. You never get hurt. You never have to stick your neck out. You feel that wondrous ache between the pitter and the patter of your beating scarred heart.

And yet, knowing this, I still Google search his name to just see his face.  I turn up the music he’s made, and  melt into the fantasy. It’s better than a hot toddie of tea, whiskey and honey, chased down with a shot of Drambuie.

Is there an over-the-counter medicine for the common crush?

In time, it will run its course.

Update: Good news!  The fever has broke.  The crush has been downgraded to deep admiration.


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Being True To Oneself

cjenner

Caitlyn Jenner – making me very jealous of that waistline.

Good for Caitlyn Jenner!  Brava to finally being able to be true to herself as the person she was born to be.

This is a good day to talk about being true to oneself. We are at a time in human history where transgender folk are able to stand up for themselves and be authentic. It’s hard for some people to understand – the world is not black and white, man and woman. We are a fascinating mosaic of souls born into various situations and bodies that go beyond an age old set of “norms”.  It’s a beautiful thing how we come to be, but it’s sad to be trapped in a persona false to our spirit, only to play it safe.

Let’s raise the stakes here. Being true to oneself is not always about gender identity or sexuality.  It’s also about regular people trying to fit into the mold society expects of them. Getting a “good job”, paying one’s bills – we are conditioned to place our destiny in the hands of corporations while our personal talents, our gift to the word, are left on a shelf to die.

People who get caught up in this trap (and I’m one) never realize they are not being true to themselves in life until one day they wake up realizing they hate every moment of it.

We create a persona like a suit we step into as childhood falls away to adulthood. It’s protection from poverty, insecurity, ridicule, jealously, hatred and failure.

Jenner did this. But don’t we all do this?  Don’t we all create a character we play in the game of life as a form of protection, not only for ourselves, but for those we love?

My parents played the game. The people I knew as mom and dad had dreams and talents they shed for the role of parent. They encased themselves within the mold of stoicism and responsibility.

Before I was born, they were entirely different people. My dad was a dashing dresser, who played upright bass in the army and was a talented sculptor who knew how to create the human form from a mound of clay. My mom was a career woman with her own dress shop, whose personal style and flair for fashion lead her to design dresses, hiring tailors to run them up so she could sell them to tourists and secretaries whose wardrobe needed a little lift.

But that all ended when their concept of “the real world” took hold.

Isn’t “the real world” just an illusion?

When I was born, the real Bernie and Ana slipped away as the illusion took hold – the illusion my parents needed to sustain a sense of integrity.  I saw my mother as a housewife, and my father as an IBM Manager.  Those were the roles they placed upon themselves for survival. It was the comfort zone they needed in order to exist in a world where they could raise me, their first born American child, in this country.

Yet, they didn’t know how to handle their own dreams in the land of “The American Dream”. In reaching whatever that dream was – or still is – they had to give up their own personal gifts – shed their true selves – for the persons expected of them as refuges from two different historical conflicts. I can’t blame them. They did well. I’m grateful for their strength, but I wish they could have pursued their real dreams in front of me more often.

My folks created an illusion. Just like Bruce Jenner did when he denied the Caitlyn inside.

My father wasn’t an IBM manager, accountant and financial software developer who would re-purpose old suits and ties from the 70’s   – he was a sculptor.

My mother wasn’t a housewife trapped in Westchester County with a kid and bouts of mental illness – she was a fashion designer and business woman.

I’m not an Executive Assistant – I’m a writer and a writer who wants to coach others to write.

Let’s be true to ourselves. If we are artists and know we have a gift to bring to the world, let’s step into our authentic selves and do it.

And finally – the only think shocking in Jenner’s story to me is this:  How did I NOT know she was from Tarrytown, New York? That’s two towns over from where I grew up. I was a child during the 1976 Olympics. If I had know, it would have been the coolest thing ever!


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Hi Dad. Where Are you?

meadowI’ve been thinking about my father’s spirit lately. He died almost five years ago – on Father’s Day 2010.  Within those five years I’ve wondered if he is around me. Is his spirit watching over me? Does he support me? Protect me? Send me doses of spiritual comfort when I’m down? Does he still send love?  I’ve even tried a medium or two to see if he wanted to talk to me – possibly solidifying if he’s really there, just beyond reach, on the other side of the veil.

Nothing. Mediums have the ability to hear the spirits of loved ones, but they never hear my father. Other people always come through.

My father and I had a very clear, spiritual connection. I was a daddy’s girl – a chip off the old block. His birthday was December 18th – mine is December 19th.  We were buddies in birthdays, kindred spirits. When I was small, he was my hero. I remember one time I was holding his hand. He let go for a moment to light a cigarette (it was the late 60’s). After a moment, I reached up for his hand again and grabbed what I thought was his. I looked up to find it was my step-grandfather’s – a stranger to me. I screamed. I wanted my dad.

There’s a memory I have of my father that always gets me right in the chest. It’s a memory I have of him when I was very small. I was at the doctor’s office for a routine exam and I was terrified. My father, knowing my stress, stood before me and held my hand, calming me down. Even as a healthy, small child I knew this moment would stay with me forever. I was so grateful for my dad.  The memory is almost an out of body experience. I remember it as if I am watching it on film.

As I grew up, he was always my best friend. He gave me the best advice. He gave me a good home, a great education and a solid sounding board when I was down. We had the same temper. The same stubbornness, and the same ability to dream.  We were independent. We also were laid back and easy going – the kind of people other people wanted to bounce off ideas and speak to confidentially. We are both non-judgmental when it counts – opinionated when is doesn’t.  (We’re Sagittarius. We put our foot in our mouths).

I dream about my dad. Sometimes he just appears silently, standing by – not saying a word. Other times he’ll be with me, and he’ll be his old self – not in a hospital bed unable to get up – but as his old vital self, driving his car, going places, looking as healthy as he did twenty years ago. It feels so real that I’m elated by his normalcy- the way it used to be. No more illness. No more frailty. See? Dad’s back! Isn’t it amazing he’s recovered and no longer ill? Just my strong dad taking the Buick down to our town’s little village to buy some milk. It feels so real.

Then I wake up, and the reality hits me.

Our connection is so deep that I feel my dad doesn’t want to filter it through a stranger. He always spoke face to face, evading nothing – never needing a mediator to communicate with me. We always had an open line to each other – even when we’d have a big fight and I would give him the silent treatment for weeks until I saw how much it hurt him – we had a connection.

Some people sense a psychic turn when a loved one dies. There was never a day so electric with psychic power than the day I picked up his (and my mother’s) ashes from the funeral home. I trained it from New York City to White Plains and took a taxi to the establishment. The driver was talking to his dispatcher on his cell phone, and the radio was turn down very low. He finished his call, and the low white noise from the station continued for about a minute before the driver suddenly decided to turn up the dial on the radio. At first, I hardly listened. A delayed reaction to a Rod Stewart song that was dentist office wallpaper to me – a re-written version of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young”. (I prefer Dylan’s version.)  At one point, something took hold of me, like I was in a meditative state singling out words I’d never heard before:

“And when you finally fly away
I’ll be hoping that I served you well
For all the wisdom of a lifetime
No one can ever tell

But whatever road you choose
I’m right behind you, win or lose
Forever Young, Forever Young..”

It was one of the first times I can remember crying without realizing I was crying.  It felt like he was sending me this message. I knew I was on the brink of moving to Los Angeles. He knew it before he died that I wanted to make this change. “You will,” he said in his hospital gown under blankets, “You will.”

I asked the taxi driver to wait while I went inside this stately place to pick up the remains. When I returned to the taxi several minutes later with two canisters filled with my parents, the radio station was playing The Spinners:

“Whenever you call me, I’ll be there
Whenever you want me, I’ll be there
Whenever you need me, I’ll be there
I’ll be around…”

It was a sensitive day. Perhaps my mind wanted to believe it was my dad (and mom) sending me a reassuring sign. Or maybe it was a coincidence. But I felt it in my bones. This was meaningful.

I’ll keep listening. Maybe my dad will whisper something to me, or show me another sign.

But wait. While finishing up this blog post, something made me leave this page to check something on my Gmail account.   Right on top of all my email, sent within a few minutes before my eyes landed on it, I saw this:

yoursoul

Hi Dad.


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Re-Arranging Furniture

boholivingspace

This is not my home, but this boho living room is glorious.

I spent the better part of Saturday re-arranging the furniture in my living room. I had to. I’ve lived in my apartment for 2 1/2 years, and kept the layout the same as the day I moved in.  I shoved the armoire over there and that table and wall hanging over here. They all sat in their designated spots, each in the wrong place, with lack of foresight or understanding of how major items of furniture should be centralized instead of hidden against back walls and corners. There’s a reason why accent tables were given their name. They accentuate areas relegated as after thoughts. That corner near the door – that back wall near the kitchen.

In re-creating my space, it allowed me to re-arrange the energy around me. I’ve always held a connection between visuals and spiritual well being. Maybe it’s the Sagittarius in me. I love aesthetics. Vibrant colors, patterns and textures provide a sense of calmness. Areas allotted for open space allow the air to circulate. I breathe easier. The flow works better. The mind becomes uncluttered and stimulated. The climate within my walls has changed for the better. Ideas for writing and business are cleared for take off. But this is only a recent change. It wasn’t always this way.

For the past two years, there was a particularly challenging neighbor who lived next door. We shared the main living room wall. A few days after I moved in, my welcome from her was a knock on the door to tell me my dog cried all day while I was at work. It wasn’t exactly a nice house warming, but I didn’t expect much. I felt terrible about it and tried my best to bring in dog walkers and friends who would hang out and calm him down until he got used to the new place. But that didn’t last since she ambushed them at my door, complaining that she told the lady (me) about how my dog cries all day.

One of my friends felt backed into a corner by her, and called her a bitch. If you knew my kind hearted friend, you’d realize that she really had to be badly spoken to for that word to come out. I’ve been on the receiving end of this neighbor’s wrath, and it was easy to be placed in a defensive mode. That was the neighbor’s energy. My friend loves my dog, and sadly said she could no longer come by to hang out with him. The vibes next door were too negative.

I spent the next two years trying to keep the peace by spending thousands of dollars on doggy day care. Money I could have spent building my business. Money I could have spent going back home to New York. Money I could have spent buying new clothes and a desk to write on. I let her do this to me. I own that. But her energy was a darkness.

You might ask, well – what did you do to provoke her? Nothing. Really. She kind of scared me. I wanted nothing of her, and feared her knock on my back door.  I stayed to myself, went to work, kept my dog out of the house, or took him with me for night time excursions to the supermarket. I lived my life and minded my own business.

If we encountered each other, I’d be grateful if she was nice to me. She gave me her phone number in case I needed help while recuperating from surgery.  She tried to be friendly when the dust up of our last argument settled, confrontations started by her. Yet, I was always uncomfortable – always felt awkward which must have made her feel the same.

There was something going on beyond that wall.  Maybe her stay at home business was going under? Maybe she was emotionally damaged?  Maybe she thought I was the negative force? Just the idea bothers me intensely. I contributed nothing to the emotional state she chose to live by, and I resented being pulled into her drama.

One night, I noticed a flash of light beyond my kitchen door. (We shared a back landing – our kitchen doors faced each other about 10 feet away.)  I looked through my door window to find her hovered over a pot, burning sage or paper, practicing what I could only guess was the art of smudging, because the next day, I found a piece of paper under her door with smudged markings on it. It stayed there for weeks.

I’m not sure if this was because of me, or if she was warding off other negative forces happening in her life.  It seemed that on any given day, she would also burn sage outside her back door in broad daylight. As a devotee of burning incense myself, I truly respect the practice of burning sage. However, knowing the person behind the smoke, the intent was questionable. The smoke would enter my kitchen smelling like bad weed.

Sadly, the sage couldn’t save her from the man who kept ringing her doorbell and knocking on the back door the she refused to answer. It couldn’t dissipate her dispute with the building management.  It couldn’t prevent her from presumably having to leave her apartment for not paying rent. The current new tenant said he accidentally opened mail he thought was addressed to him from our management firm. It was really for her, stating she owed several thousands of dollars in rent. (Funny, she told me the landlord owed her.)

I can’t be mad at her. She was likely an angry soul fighting for her right to live on her own terms, even if it forced others with sensitive natures to live under her darkness. Depending on one’s past and psychological make up, when a person feels powerless, they try to control others to compensate. I was her prey. And I allowed it – just to keep the peace. I didn’t want to hear that angry knock on my door.

Now, that she’s gone, and my  new neighbor is a dog loving sweetheart of a guy – the air has cleared. My lessons have been learned. I’ve moved my armoire to the main wall, my pretty furniture to the forefront, my sofa sideways, my big photo over there and my pretty mirror over the faux fireplace mantel. I even set up a dropcam so I can see my dog at home while I’m at work, and can monitor his, what turns out to be, infrequent crying. (He’s a hound. He gets lonely.)

It’s clearing. The webs and the darkness. Open spaces, light and fresh new air.

As for the former neighbor – I hope she finds peace. I really do. There are millions of people in this world who are as angry and as tormented as she. Let’s hope they all find the open space and the fresh air.

Meanwhile – things are shifting nicely.


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Everybody Rise for The Ladies

elainejoan

Photo borrowed from Eonline.

Joan Rivers and Elaine Stritch being omitted from the In Memoriam at last night’s  Oscars was the biggest snub of all.

After a rousing speech by Patricia Arquette about equal pay for women that received such a loud cheer, it aroused Meryl Streep out of her seat as she fist pumped the sky. Yes. Women in the work force should get equal pay.  They also deserve respect. Even if they’ve had to be total hard asses to get there. And yes – they both worked in film – especially Stritch.

Joan Rivers, with her outspoken views and screw you attitude never made friends with the right people. Johnny Carson excluded her from the mainstream of show business because she wanted to do her own show without asking him first. She never appeared on ‘The Tonight Show’ again – even when Jay Leno hosted – which by then – wasn’t even The Tonight Show anymore. It wasn’t until until Jimmy Fallon, the host with the heart, invited her back – breaking this stupid, ridiculous ban once and for all.

Joan passed away at the wrong time. Yes, she was over 80, but she wasn’t finished. Not by a long shot. She had dates arranged, projects to deliver, performances schedule, Fashion Police, Red Carpet kvetching – this woman was the epitome of talent, ambition and vibrancy. Then one day, she went in for some throat nodule surgery, and she’s gone.

Elaine Stritch, on the other hand, was in semi-retirement. Elaine was star of the Broadway stage and in films since the 1940’s, heading to New York to study at the Actor’s Studio while staying in a convent her favorite nun back home in a swanky suburb of Detroit Michigan had recommended.

Watch her famously renown Broadway and West End stage show “Elaine Stritch: Live at Liberty”. She talks about alcoholism, her difficulty getting roles.  She was up for the role of Dorothy Zbornak in ‘The Golden Girls’ but got iced out at the audition when she got snarky with the show runner. One time, she was in a stage performance of “The Women” with Joan Fontaine and Gloria Swanson where her bad behavior moved her fellow actresses to write a letter to the producer asking them to fire her. Only Gloria had her back. When she was about to co-star in Woody Allen’s film “September” – he wrote a letter to her stating that he knew her reputation, and hoped she’d be understanding of the way he does things – or else he would have to ask her to leave the project. She did the film. She also framed the letter.

In recent years, she guest starred on ’30 Rock’ as Jack’s hilariously racist, hard nosed mother Colleen. Off set, Elaine moved into the Carlyle Hotel on the upper east side and set up residency at their cafe where she did cabaret every night, decked out in her signature attire – a giant loose white shirt and black tights with suede low heeled shoes.

In time, she tired of her sixty plus years in New York and went back home to Detroit, where stomach cancer took her life at the age of 89. No one has commended her in end of year tributes.

Both women were as salty and demanding as Frank Sinatra. Both women were as talent ed and charismatic in their field as Milton Beryl (who was apparently horrible to his writers – and reflected in Joan’s Fashion Police WGA dispute a few years ago). Both women misbehaved like Marlon Brando, were cranky like Russell Crowe, Edward Norton and Bruce Willis rolled into one. But in the end, they struggle for perfection, for their talent to be heard. They demanded on sharing their gift – even if the boys club didn’t want it. They weren’t talentless divas. They weren’t difficult because of ego. They were hard because they had to be to survive. And they expected nothing less from those around them. Please,  if they were senselessly awful – I wouldn’t be writing this!  Yet, sadly, in the end, they are the ones Hollywood wants to forget.

So, when we talk about equal pay, lets also bring in respect. Respect for talent. Respect for tenacity. Respect for longevity. No matter what you thought of these ladies – too brash, nasty, ornery – or their gifts weren’t your cup of tea – it doesn’t matter. In their own way, and in many ways equal to their male counterparts, they paved a road with their own special bulldozer, allowing the young women behind them to follow suit.

The ladies left us this year. Everybody rise!


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A Book Starts with One Page

Screenshot 2015-02-16 10.48.22

Shameless plug, but it serves a greater purpose.

My book, “Hitting Water” began over a year ago as a dare to myself. I would write 500 to 1000 words a day of short story or chapters toward a novel. There was no excuse. I had just come out of a major medical ordeal, and it was time to realize the burning need to create was dieing inside me. As Dr. Wayne Dyer has often said, “Don’t die with the music still inside you.” I took a vow to not let this happen. I even wrote it out on a Post It and tacked it to my kitchen cabinet. I read it every time I eat breakfast.

In late 2013, I dared myself. Double, triple dared. I was going to pick up morning pages once again and write stream of conscious nonsense until I covered three pages, both sides with words. Even if they were nothing. And then, I was going to write 1000 words a day of story and characters swimming in my mind for years. 1000 words of productive work – not just rehab “The Artist’s Way” work alone. Cameron’s work is a therapy you use on the side to help your real work get done. Everyday. Write something you will want to publish. Write everyday until something gels into a tangible project you can focus and hang up as a goal.

The 1000 words a day goal not only created (and is still creating) a flood gate of ideas and outlines for various novels I plan to write – but it created my first stake in the publishing world – “Hitting Water”. Creating this little book eventually changed my world. Just putting it out there for the world to see is proof that anyone can do this. I hope just it’s existence and the personal challenge I placed upon myself to make this (and other future work) happen, inspires others to do the same.

There were days I could only do 300 words. You know what? It was perfect. The next day, those 300 words turned into 3000 words of good, useful work that provided a profound amazing feeling of accomplishment and purity. Call it euphoric. Writing those words everyday – whether good stuff came out or not – was the most authentic I’ve ever felt in my life. It’s a delicious feeling – and I despise using the word “delicious” to describe anything other than food.

To my fellow writers who are placing your dreams on the shelf. Don’t push your writing aside. Ignore the voice inside that says you can’t do it. You can do it.

Don’t think about fame and glory. That’s not the purpose.

Think about what is before you.

Think about the now of your story.

Don’t think about “The Book”…page one. Think about the ideas you want to impart, the characters you want to create. Write it down even if it’s not great, even if your head says “This sucks”. Because it doesn’t. It may not be perfect now – but it will be with love and care like a seedling in a garden. Write it. Show up. Everyday. Water it with thoughts and ideas. Give it some new food for thought, new characters and twists to gain conflict and juicy, page turning possibilities.

Spring will be around the corner and glorious summer will provide the fruit.

What is “the fruit”?

“The fruit” isn’t a big publishing deal – although one should expect their work to be worthy of such. “The Fruit” is a complete work you feel is ready, with edits, rewrites, proofing, etc… HOWEVER…

Don’t embark on the novel of your life with the heavy thought of how daunting it will be. It’s not a mountain, it’s a well thought out story that will unfold when you show up.

And publishing it? Don’t care about right now. Think of your audience and know who they are. Who are you telling this story to? While you’re molding this incredible journey of life,  tell the publishing world to fuck off.  Don’t let the concept of “Who will publish this?” cloud your view. Keep thinking about the people who will read this. Who are you telling this story to?

A book starts with one page.


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Inspiration in the Bleak Mid-Winter, Day 5 (Blizzard Edition)

snowbridge

(Nothing deep. I just love this song about an emotional Christmas day in the snow. Besides, it’s Sufjan Stevens and it’s pretty, wintery, melancholic snow day music.)

Going outside
Shoveling snow in the driveway, driveway
Taking our shoes
Riding a sled down the hillside, hillside
Can you say what you want?
Can you say what you want to be?
Can you be what you want?
Can you be what you want?

Our father yells
Throwing the gifts in the wood stove, wood stove
My sister runs away
Taking her books to the schoolyard, schoolyard
In time the snow will rise
In time the snow will rise…

“That Was The Worst Christmas Ever”

Words & Music by Sufjan Stevens from Songs for Christmas (p)2006 Asthmatic Kitty Records


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Tights…A Way to Start Off the New Year

polkatightsBack at work. All dressed up. I’m wearing tights and they’re bugging the hell out of me. Gravity pulls them down to areas that are not comfy on my body. But boy, it’s chilly in Los Angeles, and I need the extra warmth.

First day back in the office, and I’m in a daze. I haven’t had much of my coffee yet. People are raring to go all around me, walking from office to office, getting things done, greeting each other with “Happy New Year!” I’m working quietly at my desk, as if I’m hung over from two weeks of pure comfort with my own time schedule. Two weeks of having my dog by my side, ready for a hike in the hills or a walk to the village.  When others gain weight during the holidays, I lose weight. I don’t sit in front of a computer for long, nor do I sit by someone’s phone. I get up and do stuff.  Shake off those calories. Shake up that metabolism.

During the break, I didn’t write much. I jotted down ideas for stories, wrote a first draft of a letter to a comedian I think would be curious to read my book “Hitting Water”. The book kicks off and is inspired by a mutual friend of ours who passed away years ago, and she may smile while reading it.  I read a book about Phil Hartman and have started Tony Robbins’ tome about money (which kind of depressed me). A bit thirsty for fiction, I cracked open Pulitzer prize winner “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt (whose book was featured in a clue on Jeopardy last week). This book is lovely, dense, and it’s my road map on WTF it takes to write a Pulitzer prize winning book.  Just reading Ms. Tartt’s biography, and I could see why. She has some pretty intense writing chops. Lots of literary weight there.

2015. You better be good to me. 2014 was a terrific year. I didn’t let life happen to me. I created the building blocks of making life happen.  My book “Hitting Water” was released in December – just when I was ready to shut down for the year. No major promotion has been made yet, but I’m getting there. It was one thing writing my own book. It’s quite another to get on one’s soapbox and promote it. That takes a whole different set of conjones to get that done. I’m mustering up the strength, the inner confidence and the ideas to get this done.

I’m still in a twilight. Last night’s dreams are still floating in my brain. I had a dream I was on a business trip to New York City and was staying in a cute studio apartment. Alec Baldwin entered my dream as Jack Donaghy from ’30 Rock’. He told me I must join a dinner that evening with a client and Liz Lemon. The evening came, and I totally forgot. I was so pissed that I was just lolling about, letting the evening go by, when it hit me that I was missing this dinner. Strange. I guess watching those episodes of ’30 Rock ‘ on my computer last night seeped in, coupled with the inner fear of letting responsibilities fall by the way side.  Because I’ve let them slide these past few weeks.

It’s just the first day back into the thick of things in a new year that shows promise. It’s just my tights are bugging me and I want to go back to sleep to apologize to Jack Donaghy for missing that dinner.


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The Beauty of Neighborhood Walls

tattoo mural

Tattoo parlor – Wilton and Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA.

A little over a year ago, the New York Times covered a story about the demise of 5 Pointz – the urban artist mecca, located on the outskirts of Queens, NY. Abandoned buildings clustered together like old dying New York, the owner of the abandoned warehouse allowed graffiti artists to take their spray cans and paint to create works of wonder.  Flashes of blues, blacks, browns, cartoon creations, classic portraiture, vast sprawls of glorious color like rainbows flourished the drab bland grey corner of the borough. If you rode the number 7 train (like I do – to Mets games at Willets Point), you could see the glory of artist creations – not produced under the cloak of nighttime, but living and creating in the bright light of day. It was a living, breathing cartoon of artistry – enlivening a bustling neighborhood that had a view of the Manhattan skyline rising above.

Screenshot 2014-12-29 14.29.30

5 Pointz, Queens. Before the fall. From “The Institute of Higher Burning”.

The building itself really wasn’t really abandoned. The company that existed in this warehouse decades ago, left behind an old space and remnants of whatever they did for commerce. (Who knows? I’m not really interested in researching that info.) Yet, the years since it was made a haven for urban creatives, the spaces had been rented out to artists as studios. It wasn’t just exterior world of gonzo artists spraying their imaginations and sociopolitical emotions on the wall – there were artists producing work from other mediums within.

Sadly, the owner of the building decided to fall way to the ever increasing need for the dollar. Greed, wealth and the promise of making millions upon millions in the real estate market made the promise of 5Pointz future cave in. The building was sold  in 2013 to a developer who will build unaffordable ultra expensive homes for the rich because there aren’t enough luxury apartments in NYC, and the need to increase rent is ever so important. (Sarcasm). So, while waiting for the wrecking ball, the soon- to- be- former owner white washed the artwork in a strange effort to make the impending demolition day less painful.

There are varying opinions. Some people thought the artwork itself was a blight – a defacement of a building. Then there were some artists who rationalized the whitewash as proof graffiti should never be permanent. It’s an ever changing form of art, painted over, Banksy-ied and mysterious. Here one day, gone the next.  It’s the basis of the medium.

Then, there are those like me who loved it. Who thought it added texture to the concrete, enlivened the spirit of those tired of streets and crumbling buildings. It wasn’t ugly, dirty graffiti – like the kind you’d see scribbled on the subway in the 70’s and 80’s. No. That was ugly. Useless tagging in a place that didn’t call for the aesthetic. Yet,  5Pointz celebrated free spirit and poetic street expression. The buildings provided the gift of an open canvas with the open invitation for thousands of possibilities. Damn. And now it’s all gone.

The photo of the beautiful Latina above is actually in Hollywood , and the gorgeous mural I posted from my last post can be seen on a building in downtown LA.  But it doesn’t matter where you find it. The luster of color on both LA based murals provokes realism in the features, much as it does in any urban frame.  Intricate patterns and shapes allow the light of day to create the vision of a realistic human being with emotions coming to the surface – against brick, mortar and greyness of a tired old building. This is in direct spirit with 5 Pointz.  Wall art, murals, graffiti, tags – are alive and well all over the world. But the heartbeat lives on in Queens, NY. Even if it’s only a memory now.

My comment on the white washing of 5Pointz  – in the New York Times, November 19, 2013:

The act of painting over the graffiti is bothersome. If the building is going to be erased, why erase the artwork on it? Why not embrace the artists who’ve created it – perhaps let them personally keep a reasonable piece of the facade of the building? Or keep well maintained slabs of the art to place in the lobby of this development (which will likely block out that last view of the NYC skyline before it disappears in the distance) as a dedication to 5Pointz. This puts another ding in an ever changing city – where starving artists are being priced out of the place and basically disrespected. From Soho to Brooklyn to L.I.C…gentrification has erased the beauty of grime. What was once affordable housing in scary hoods is now million dollar havens for the wealthy. I’m all for cleaning things up. I’m glad graffiti no long exists on subway cars (that was not a great medium for it – nor pleasant), but leave us some concrete and color. This action is part of the homogenization of NYC. It’s losing its texture, long upheld by artists who can’t even stay there anymore. As a lifelong New Yorker who currently lives 3000 miles away, and as a Mets fan who comes back home to ride the 7 and marvel at this stretch of artwork along the way – this news is a heart breaker.