Everyday Words

Being Present

October 27, 2007

At a restaurant the other night I saw at a table just a bit away a man I once knew years ago. And when I say knew I mean that we were, for a few weeks, on set together and our interactions were always brief but always enjoyable. We never divulged personal information or had each over for holidays but we shared stories and laughed during the time we worked together. And I can remember almost every day so clearly and so many of the funny little thing’s he’d do – not in a smitten kitten way but because somehow even the mundane was interesting with him.

My first reaction upon seeing him was to say Hi and reconnect. But I hesitated; he wouldn’t remember me and if I just start talking like we know each other he’ll think I’m a crazy fan. Or if I ask about that project he wanted to want to do he’ll wonder why I remember that after all these years – am I a stalker? A loser? A User? So I kept to myself, not even mentioning to anyone at the table that over there was a man I once knew.

However, about thirty minutes later he approached and asked me if I’d ever lived in Vancouver. Yes, I said, for a few years in the mid-90’s. Then he smiled and said, “So nice to see you after all this time, Alex. Do you still have that skirt?”

This man is an A-List celebrity; he has met thousands of people from around the world as is bombarded with people daily. Yet he remembered a skirt I’d worn on set (it had layers and layers), a very bad joke the director told to us, the wiggly worm dance (you’d have to see it), the mittens, and the little cafe nearby that made the foam just so. When he recounted these events he did so with ease, as if remembering is just what we’re supposed to do and not traits of a crazy, loser, stalker user person. But just a fundamental human curiosity.

I remember so many details from years ago; about people, places, polka dots on wallpaper, the way the light hit, that dirty joke. I fall in-love with the little things, people’s mannerisms, moments in the every day but feel like I’m not supposed to. To remember or even notice in the first place has become a sign of obsession, weirdness, boredom, loneliness. After all, if you’re busy it means you must be doing well and if you have time to remember it means you’re not.

I’m busy, I’ve done a lot but I remember because I’m present with each and every person I talk to and am extraordinarily curious (probably far too much for my own good). I don’t half-ass this life – not even an every day conversation. That’s off putting to a lot of people (especially in LA when you’re always supposed to be looking for the next cooler person to talk to. But when I’m talking to you, I’m talking to you. When I’m writing, I’m writing. When I’m walking I look around and because of that I just notice so many things and just simply don’t forget.

But it’s not cool to care, it’s not hip to pay attention, it’s not top dog to notice others. So I have learned to keep quiet about all the little things I remember – especially about people. I can fall in-love so easily with little things about people and miss them almost the moment they’re gone. But I don’t think they’d ever know it as I’m told by most people I come off as aloof. However, I’m anything but. It’s why I still have a little note attached to the book that isn’t really all that interesting or funny; it’s just the thought of the note, the effort of the note, that is charming to me. And I want to remember the good of where that came from. Sounds crazy, no?

But after spending the evening dishing with my friend, my friend who should be Far. Too. Important. And. Busy. to remember the layers of skirt I once had, I felt a bit better about all the details I hold back on sharing. Not full on ease but perhaps I’ll send a note back or ask someone about the event that they probably don’t even think I heard them talking about.

Links & Loves

Bowling Day

September 10, 2007

This past spring/summer I worked with a company as a “Director of Community and Talent Acquisitions.” Fancy! It was to help get experts into different web sites and build out community on the web. Working with the company’s content team, we rocked out.

As a reward the VP offered to take us to the movies. Uh, no. That is no fun and fun was what we needed. So I offered bowling – what could be more fun? Just watch and you tell me:

Yes – those are wrist sweat bands! My team had them and I swear, they gave us magic powers. Video taken by Pixie and myself – apologies for the sideways shots we had no idea. Editing by me and fun had by all.

PS: Foxy makes an appearance – she’s everywhere!

Everyday Words

Different View

September 5, 2007
france window view

It’s this view that I keep trying to get. Whenever I think of settling down and giving up my vagabond ways it’s this image I turn to. I understand life from this view point. Life in a small, quiet little town full of characters and charm but close to a city that is is alive and close still to a major city where anything is possible. And for the longest time, I thought I was getting closer to this view.

But today, after booking my 33rd flight this year (and actually just booked 4 more), I realise that whenever I am given time to relax, to be, to enjoy the view, I do anything but. I’m quick to fill up a calendar. I used to blame this on living in LA and knowing far too many people (yes I’ll come to your event, Yes I’ll support this cause, Yes I’ll work on that project) but upon booking a trip to Vancouver for just one event, I somehow ended up doing 4.

Right now I live in one of my favouritest flats ever; a large two bedroom with old world charm including a 1940’s stove in which I love to bake in. There’s large windows that look out into a garden {I’ve even got a few plants growing} and my bike can take me anywhere in town {beach, cafe, shoppes} so there’s no reason really to leave.

Which makes me question if I’m really trying to get the view or if I just admire the scenery because it’s so very different from my own.

Quotes

Tamed

August 31, 2007
the little prince

So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near –

“Ah,” said the fox. “I shall cry.”

“It is your own fault,” said the little prince. “I never wished you any sort of harm but you wanted me to tame you…”

“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.

“But now you are going to cry!” said the little prince.

“Yes, that is so.” Said the fox.

From my favourite book, The Little Prince (the original version – not the one with the blue cover).

Family & Friends

Jessica

August 18, 2007
jessica

I had been in LA only a month but that was all it took to encounter one very bad haircut. So when I saw someone with gorgeous hair I asked her where she got it cut – Jessica Tingley at Frederic Fekkai was her answer. That was enough for me to go to the salon. Jessica was more than enough to keep me coming back.

Instantly we hit it off; the dirty jokes came out first cut, the laughter kept going and some kind of connection just happened. But she was now my stylist and I didn’t think that line could be crossed. Especially since there is that cliche saying in Hollywood “your friends are the ones you pay.” I didn’t want that to happen.

So for three years I’d look forward to going to the salon (a first since I hate it) until one day she said to me, “You know, I really want to be your friend and hang out.”

“Me too!”

And there we were.

Why it took 3 years for us to get the courage up to say “I like you, let’s be friends” is beyond me. Fear of rejection, of crossing some stupid line, of not being cool enough – they’re all inane whatever they might be.

Oddly though, I still tend to feel this way when I encounter someone I immediately adore and what to have coffee with. But usually my shy self just remains “knowing” them instead of befriending. I often then wonder how many great people am I missing out on, simply because I haven’t said, “I want to be your friend.”

Everyday Words

Afraid for nothing

April 25, 2007
flight

I have, at the very least, been on 27 flights since 2007 began. That’s about 26 more than I’d like; I’m not a flyer. But I am the sort that likes to see new things and create experiences. So despite the fear, I keep booking flights, printing my boarding pass, and pray to little baby Jesus that nothing will happen.

And, truthfully, nothing bad ever does. The fear, the build up, it’s always for nothing. The plane touches down as do I and I begin my walk towards the new and always glad I came.

So here’s to one more flight next week. A one way ticket back home, home for at least awhile. Home to where things are brand new {new flat, new job, new eyes}. Am I scared? Well, I’m not a flyer but oh, how do I love to see and do new things…

Travels

Hullo, New York

February 12, 2007
The Plaza Hotel New York

I was surprised at how quickly and easily I fell in-love with New York. Especially since just the day before, in Santa Monica CA, I began the process of looking to buy a condo. But even though I love Santa Monica there is a lot I don’t like about L.A.. But it’s familiar; I know how to live here. But then being here, in New York, I wonder how I can go back.

Perhaps it’s the fact I can walk anywhere or hop on the subway as I’ve been doing all morning. Perhaps it’s because New York is such an “up” city – tall buildings that just beg you to keep looking to the sky. Perhaps it’s because you’re anonymous here – even in a bright coloured jacket. People just do their thing without wondering how it looks. Perhaps it’s the diversity; women in furs shopping alongside punk kids with $2 to their name. Perhaps it’s the energy – everything is moving and you can see it. People, cars, subways, it’s all going on. Perhaps it’s because people just don’t work in the city, they live here too. Dog parks next to subway stations and famous landmarks. Perhaps it’s a strange sense of community that happens when you don’t expect it. My friends Felicia and Summer who I met up with yesterday (along with Sara – finally!) mentioned this. And I didn’t quite understand it until today. But somehow, despite being solitary and anonymous, there’s community. LA it’s everyone out for themselves – you feel like someone’s going to screw you over at any time.

When I wandered with Felicia later on, she would tell me about the areas, little background info and dish, which cafe she loved, the good bookstore and so forth. And I was smitten; it was a first date and I was already planning the wedding.

Oh, it’s cold. It is full on sweater, jacket, gloves and scarf weather. But the upside is rosy cheeks and an excuse to stop into cafe’s for tea a lot (which I’ve done).

New York reminds me of Paris in many ways and I remember my younger self who thrived in these places. The energy, the challenges, the constant state of awe. I love to live in awe – of people, of places, of beauty, of things, of words. When things are too easy, when things are too nice, when things are boring as all, I fade. I’m not fading here.

Everyday Words

easier to be critical than to be correct

November 21, 2006
anthropologie trees

How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct. – Benjamin Disraeli

When I was perhaps eight or so, my class and I sewed trees together just like the ones pictured here. It’s a very simple, basic sewing project you can do with a machine or by hand (we did it by hand). Our teacher didn’t invent this pattern I’m sure; she’d probably seen it around when she was a child and passed it onto us.

There’s a store I work at every November-January and this year I was fortunate enough to help open one. The theme for the winter holidays, given by the corporate office, was “tree farm.” Every store has a team of full-time visual designers who then interpret how that will play out for their store. Our store chose it very literally by bringing in dozens of trees which we put in brand new silver cans made to look old and by also sewing hundreds of these trees in lots of different colours and patterns.

The idea came about in a very organic way; a group of visual and crafty girls sitting on a couch with coffee, pouring over magazines with a sketch book in hand. Eyes lighting up when an idea really hit or cringing at things that were off. The process was more basement crafters than corporate store and these simple trees, which I discovered many of us had made during our childhood, were all something that people thought would be a great idea.

Lots of things just get made in the store without “reporting” back what we’re doing but for our opening, we had a team from the head office out to help us open. And they loved our ideas, ideas go back, and then other stores and the site incorporate them. People get really giddy over the visuals and love to share. There’s no agenda with that – just designers wanting to create.

Last year, Stephanie of Little Birds made some of these trees and showed them on her site. Stephanie, for me, is a huge inspiration. Not just with what she makes but with her family. So many simple ideas have I taken from reading her blog over the years. Truthfully, none have really ever come to fruition (I’m still wanting to make her TV Coverlet) but they’re in my brain, waiting for the perfect moment.

It was in a recent entry she wrote a charming post about her vintage finds that were cups that Anthropologie is now duplicating and she mentioned that she saw the trees on the site. I believe her intent was just to post about things she loved (thrift finds) and how a store was now selling them – simple and interesting, I thought. So I was taken off guard when the comments (and emails to me from my own comment to the post) seemed to quickly turn against the store and attack. While I can totally understand not wanting to pay $10 for a mug when you could potentially thrift it for $0.69 I had a hard time understanding how it was interpreted that Anthropologie must have read Stephanie’s blog and then “stolen” her tree idea. But the hook for me was when one commenter said in one paragraph that she thought it was bad that the store used Stephanie’s ideas but then followed up by saying, “and I’m going to take your idea and make them, too!”

I should mention that the trees the store made are not for sale. A person cannot buy them now or after the holidays and none of us in the store can take them home. So if it were in fact true that the store “copied” Stephanie’s trees to use as display, what is so different than anyone else who read her blog? For me, I don’t think there is any difference at all. But it’s just so easy to attack something one doesn’t like.

But the truth is, Anthropologie didn’t steal the tree ideas from Stephanie. They’ve always disclosed, however, that they are so often inspired by people, places and things from around the world (and their sister company who runs under the same umbrella, Free People, has a new blog that shares a lot of inspiration, too). The president, Glen and his real-life partner of 32years Keith (who travels the world for finds) love antiques, indie designers, thrift store finds and good living which they incorporate in their home in NY (which is so often written about in magazines and books) and reflect that passion in their stores. They’ll travel to France, fall in-love with a headboard, then reproduce it so others who might not be able to get to France can buy it or they’ll bring back the original and sell in the store. All the visual designers feed off the world in which they see – no different than I do or any other artist I know. It’s why I, like so many others, blog – to share ideas and information that perhaps someone will find useful or interesting. I would hope that if someone does not find this to be true of anything (blogs or stores) that they’d move onto something that does appeal to them rather than wasting their time getting worked up over problems and criticizing things created in their heads. Or in the case of Stephanie’s blog, joining a bandwagon of hate when the basis is just a mass amount of misinformation but it’s cooler to “join the group” then to take a different opinion based on truth.

The visual team and often the girls that work there are just people who really love art, love a certain aesthetic and want to share it with others who feel the same. If you asked a lot of the girls what they’re studying in school or what they want to be outside of the store, so many of them want to design, run business, make things, craft things etc. And the stores are individually run to a large extent by these girls who, just as the commenters on Stephanie’s site, are so enormously in-love with things visual. And in the corporate office, you actually have a lot of the same which is why the stores have a more organic, visual feel than say a Gap.

You can walk into that store and sit on the couch for hours and not buy a thing but be inspired by the design and products alone. You might see something there which you think, “I could make that!” then you do. I assure you the store won’t turn around and say “you stole that from our store!” The store is attacked a lot because people do not understand it or feel they can’t afford it and assume it’s all corporate with products made solely in China (a lot of the home goods and decor is made from small U.S. Artists. The glass ornaments currently in the stores are made from one woman in Pittsburgh and the soft ornaments are made from two Danish girls and Bono’s Edun line is carried in the store along with several other organic cotton t-shirt companies). It’s not perfect – I totally get that and the things I feel there are issues with I assure you I ask questions about.

But the thing is – I ask questions. I try to get the answers. I don’t just assume and hate. I don’t criticise based on how I feel. I criticise based on what I know.

The point of all of this is not to defend the store but to defend the idea to not jump to conclusions so quickly. It is so easy for one to critise and hate what they don’t understand or fear. The truth is often not as glamourous, exciting or as scary as the swirl one can put around it. There is good and bad to everything and everyone. Rather than getting worked up over something you don’t really know the facts of to sound “right” or “smart” – if it’s important enough then take the time to find the truth. If it’s not so important to your life then move onto something else that is.

In April, I wrote something similar to this based on the quote from Abraham Lincoln:

When you look for the bad in mankind, expecting to find it, you surely will.
Everyday Words

Missing Fall

October 6, 2006
fall

I am missing fall and charm; it’s really just that simple. When it’s just cold enough for a sweater and hot chocolate. When the windows open and you feel the cold brush in. When boots and tights come out to replace flip flops and cheeks are rosy. I miss cosy.

I’m trying to be mindful of the future but not at the expense of the present which means that although I know I’ll be moving again, I’ve still got to feel at home and live here now – not put it off until I think I’ve got “it.” So then I’ve taken to buying furniture for the first time, painting a few walls to make it mine, weatherstripping like there’s no tomorrow and unpacking every single box – even those that have been packed for years.

There’s the old saying, “Be better than your current circumstances” and that’s my motto as of late. The current situation is far from ideal but there is a purpose. And as long as I use that purpose to make the next goal then, perhaps it will make missing all the things I love a little easier to bare. If not, there’s always tea.

Los Angeles

Love/Hate Los Angeles

September 9, 2006
santa monica

Things I love about living in Santa Monica/Los Angeles:
– living 6 blocks from the beach.
– Never having to use my car because I can walk to Whole Foods, a favourite cafe, the post, shopping, the beach, the bank
– having California near the top of those pull down address menus
– Not needing air conditioning
– The weather (72F most days with cool nights)
– Luke Wilson
– access to anything and everything
– a little fancy
– free premieres and screenings
Anthropologie
– My BFF & hairdress extraordinnaire, Jessica T @ Frederric Fekkai
– Diversity
– Disneyland
– a little glamour
– Easy flight access to anywhere in the world at any time.
– living two turns and one road and twenty minutes on a good day from the airport
– Cafe Dana on Montana @ 13th
Elixir on Melrose
– Spanish Latte’s from Urth
– Maki at Ole Henriksen
– Driving up the coast to Malibu or Santa Barbara
– Colours everywhere
– Driving San Vicente in Santa Monica from 7th until 26th
– Montana Ave {especially Shabby Chic’s first store and their sales}
– Palm Trees
– access to healthy eating {important to a gluten-free girl}
– Squirrels that terrorise me in my flat
– Saying that I live in LA

Things I do not love about Santa Monica/Los Angeles:
– the people
– constant horn honking
– cell phone drivers
– the barista at Starbucks and every othe place being a frustrated actor
– traffic
– smog/air quality (Air quality is measured on a scale of 0-100, 0 being the worst. Los Angeles is a 0)
– weird black film on everything in my flat from the air
– relationships always being businessy
– crazy high rent even in a rent controlled flat
– cost of living
– cost of doing anything
– everyone “on” and trying to “be”
– Noise. So. Much. Noise.
– Living right over a back alley and hearing people go through the rubbish 24/7
– The stupid girl voice.
– Small dogs everywhere
– Neighbours all over you (I live in one of the most dense 15 blocks in the US)
– Street parking
– Valet parking
– Brentwood Whole Foods; always crazy, insane because of terribly self-absorbed “Brentwood” people
– “glue gun” fancy
– having to either keep secret about who you know or what you do or having to be all about it
– insincerity
– not being able to rely on anything or anyone
– the beach
– Hollywood
– the fact that a size 2 is huge and pale is sickly
– squirrels that terrorise me in my flat
– saying I live in LA