Thursday, August 28, 2008


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Monday, August 25, 2008


Just when I had hit a breaking point,
a sweet wave of an invitation came my way.

Up until this Wednesday, I had spent the entire summer in the city. Don't get me wrong, summer in New York has a multitude of charms, starting with the empty expanse of the famous Zigfield Theatre. How many times have you had your choice of any seat in a New York theater? There have been evenings spent on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Sundays spent at backyard fiestas.

Still, I longed for some connection to nature in the absence of humidity, subway rides, and the sounds of construction and traffic. Above all, I needed a break from routine.

Imagine my delight when I checked my voicemail and heard my friend's question over the phone: Would you like to come join us at our beach rental for a few days? At that moment, an invisible trampoline appeared underfoot and I jumped five feet in the air. I ran home, called her back, and packed my bags at fast-forward speed.

The next morning, I hopped on a train that took me up the New Jersey shoreline and landed in Asbury Park. My friend met me at the station and we walked (!) a short distance to her beach house in Ocean Grove. All the homes were cottage-like, and she explained to me that this was a predominantly Methodist town with a large gay population. I wondered how those two groups were co-existing.

Within an hour of arriving, I was in the ocean. Big sigh of relief. So great to feel the familiar healing properties of saltwater while catching wave after wave in a bodysurfing marathon.

In the morning, we all had breakfast out on the front porch while watching squirrels play around us and noticing details about the trees on the street.

One thing led to another, and the invitation was extended to my boyfriend Mike who, in turn, spent the weekend with us. More fun to be had!

On Saturday night, Mike and I hung out with our host's 13-year-old daughter. We made an evening run to a local chocolate shop, then walked out onto the now-dark beach where She With the Incredible Night Vision spotted jellyfish and piled them up in her hand to take back home. Returning to the cottage, we watched multiple episodes of Hannah Montanah, blissfully tired from a full day of sun and playing in the waves.

Now back in the city, I feel ready to take on the world with greater calm and peace of mind.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


This essay is from a monthly newsletter of Amanda Gore. Amanda, an Aussie living in the U.S., is an expert on the topics of joy and being connected.

I have just finished reading a very interesting book by Alan Deutschman called Change or Die. He first wrote an article in Fast Company magazine on this topic and in it he covers what causes people to make changes in their lives. He combines research from the business world, neuroscience and other traditional fields like psychology and medicine. It’s an excellent book!

Neuroscience is essentially the study of the nervous system but recently it has been applied to the business world and linked with how people change and keep their brains young, creative and alert.

The great news is that our brains are not hardwired and set in concrete from birth on! We can change. From what I have read, it seems that there are 4 keys to change that lasts - focus, attention, repetition and celebration! FARC for short! Add to that learning completely new and different skills and we have a recipe for rapid effective change and brain development

Firstly, it’s no news to any of us that change is hard but as Dean Ornish, the most successful cardiologist in the world at reversing heart disease without surgery, says ‘people don’t resist change, they resist being changed’. His program starts with hope. His approach is to make dramatic life changes and the results that soon become obvious, are a source of hope that people can feel better and live a pain free, happier, active life.

I really liked the recipe that is given in Change or Die - relate, repeat, and reframe. That is, have new hope through relationships, learn new skills and think in different ways.

I have written recently on the importance of feelings and perceptions in everything we do and those articles highlighted the importance of touching people at a heart and feeling level - giving them an "ah ha" moment where they feel different, something resonates with them. Whether it relates to the business world, personal health or major life changes (as in the prison rehabilitation program he describes in the book), we have to give people a sense of hope that a better world or life is possible.

Lou Gerstener, when he turned IBM around, found out that ‘facts, fear and force’ don’t move people; he realized he had to physically speak to, make a person to person - heart to heart connection, and inspire IBM’ers with hope that there was a new direction for the company; that it would not only survive but thrive; that they were able to contribute and create a new, better, stronger company. That was the first step.

John Kotter, a renown professor at Harvard Business School, concludes from the research that changing organizations depends overwhelmingly on changing the emotions of their individual members. See - it IS all about feelings! Even ‘serious’ business people are saying it!

Nor do facts and details work in the health arena - 91 out of 100 people told they would die without significant lifestyle changes will not make changes! Only NINE would make changes that lasted. It appears we must trigger positive emotions and give people a sense of hope that not only is change possible, but results can come quickly. Dean Ornish’s programs work by promising and quickly showing the joy of living, not emphasizing the fear of dying!

So lets apply this to ourselves in this month’s newsletter and we can work on organizations later!

What can give you hope that you can change in an area you need to? Lets focus (the first part of the change recipe in neuroscience) on what you would like to change. Perhaps you can make a list? You may of course be very happy with you the way you are and if that’s the case - TA DA to you! Most of us though have some aspects of ourselves or lives we would like to be different.

What can you do to convince yourself that this change is possible - that there is hope you can succeed? You could visit or learn about people who have done it before you. Read books that inspire you with stories of others; surround yourself with people who have done what you want to do and form a relationship with them. That’s one of the reasons alcoholics anonymous and weight watchers are so successful ¯ the ongoing relationships with people who have done what you hope to do.

Lets say you have challenged yourself to run a marathon. You have trained and the big day is here - you have run well but you don’t think you can complete the race; it was hotter and harder than you expected; all those other people running slowed you down; the hills were worse, etc etc. and then you see a group of your friends up ahead who are cheering you on - they are yelling ‘you can do it!’, encouraging you and sending you love. Or the person with whom you have been training sees you and encourages you.

What happens? Suddenly there is a new burst of energy and you spring forward and make it to the end! Those feelings and emotional support gave you the will and energy to keep going.

Never underestimate the power of relationships in helping you achieve change! They are crucial. Pay attention to your thinking, challenge yourself when you have hopeless thinking, seek friends at that time who will help you see that things are not hopeless! Perhaps they will help you to see the blessings in your life or point out things for which you can be grateful and you can focus on them rather than what is disappointing you.

Above all DO something! You can wish all you like in your mind that you were different or things would change, but until you DO something life, and you, will stay the same! DO something that will give you hope - the first step. Even if it is to visualize that the change you want is possible - not daydreaming but actively visualizing what you want to have happen.

So what WILL you DO today to create some hope that what you want to change is possible? Read, talk to people, learn, join a support group, hang around people who have done what you want to do, research, make a list, write an action plan and share it with others - or anything else that moves you as you read this.

It only takes one person to believe in you - to have faith in you - to give you hope and you can move mountains! DO something! Go for it!

Saturday, August 16, 2008


When young girls dream about growing up to be dancers, they often hold images in their minds which are narrowed by ideas of femaleness that come from the world around them. At three and four years old, they are already filled with images of reed-thin ballerinas wearing pink tutus and frozen smiles. Very early, they’ve gotten the message that dancing – like other activities – is all about being delicate, dainty, and pleasing to others.

Wouldn’t it be amazing, if from day one, girls knew that there are many kinds of dancers and many ways to dance? That it’s about more than being dressed in pink or being delicate or pleasing or dainty?

As 16-year-old dancer Taja Riley says, “Young people limit themselves as to what they can do as dancers. Dancing and artistry is limitless.”

I can tell you one way to expand the minds of young female dancers – go take them to see Taja Riley.

My mind exploded when I first saw Taja Riley perform on stage. It was two years ago, at the New York City Dance Alliance National Season Finale. Taja, in the running for the title of 2006 National Junior, and was set to perform her solo for the judges and audience.

I remember sitting forward in my seat when Taja walked – make that strutted – onto the stage. What I noticed right away was how fully she inhabited her body, and how raw, fierce, and unapologetic she was in the way she moved. I was devastated that she didn’t take first place, but was happy to hear that she took the title of National Teen in last year’s Season Finale with a performance called My Philosophy.

At this year’s Season Finale, Taja stepped down from her title of National Teen. Before doing so, she performed a piece called Assassin. Dancing to Portishead’s song Machine Gun, she literally stepped into the role of a female assassin, pushing her body into unsettling contortions which suggested a struggle for life. Clearly, she had lost nothing of her fierce grace, athletecism, and raw power.

I approached Ms. Riley in between dances and asked for a chance to interview her. We caught up over the phone shortly after her return to Los Angeles.

Q: How does Taja describe her dance style?

A: Jokingly, Taja says: “Psychotic,” “Vogue-ish,” and “in the style of a Drag Queen.” And, in a more serious tone: “I’m still discovering exactly what my style of dancing is and can’t really put it in a category yet because I train in almost every style.”

Q: What does Taja do to prepare for a performance?

A: As Taja puts it, “Dancers are actors who can dance.” So to get ready to perform, she focuses on getting into the character and the mood of a dance. To prepare for her performance of Assassin at this year’s NYCDA closing night gala, she researched what it meant to be a female assassin. Taja rented Tomb Raider and Mr. and Mrs. Smith in order to study the famous lady assassin, Angelina Jolie: How does she move? What is her demeanor like? How does she approach a situation?

Q: How did Taja get her start in dance?

A: First,Taja got involved in gymnastics. After two years of that, Taja’s mom, who had grown up dancing, put her daughter into a “rinky-dink dance studio.” When the director of the studio found out that Taja had skipped the studio’s group performance and instead gone to the Spice Girls concert dressed as Scary Spice (her passion at the time), she kicked Taja out of the studio. In retrospect, Taja sees the event as a blessing. After all, it’s what prompted her mom to transfer Taja into the now-famous Denise Wall’s Dance Energy.

Denise Wall, the founder and director of her dance studio in Virginia, keeps sending dance stars out into the universe. Three of her students – Danny Tidwell, Travis Wall, and Jaimie Goodwin – were winners or runners-up in the television show So You Think You Can Dance. At the NYCDA National Season Finale, her dancers walk away with countless awards for both solo and group performances.

At seven, after the Scary Spice incident, Taja entered the world of Dance Energy. When she was ten, Denise chose her Taja to be in a junior dance company. Denise was piloting the company with three people who were younger than a typical company member. Around the same time, Taja competed for and won a regional scholarship with the NYCDA. The scholarship enabled her to take NYCDA classes for free and compete in different cities under the umbrella of Denise’s junior company. It was the first time Taja realized she could be in the dance world and also be herself.

Q: Does Taja help choreograph or pick music for the pieces she performs?

A: Travis Wall usually choreographs Taja’s solos. He gives her the go-ahead to do whatever she wants for the last 30 seconds to a minute of a song. With the green light to improvise, Taja will do just that. And here’s the kicker: Taja will improvise in those last 30-60 seconds during the actual performance, surprising even herself with the outcome!

Taja likes working with dancer/choreographers such as Teddy Forance, people who demonstrate interest in the students’ perspectives while choreographing a piece. “He [Teddy] is someone who respects your mind.”

Q: Who are other artists that Taja regards as kindred spirits?

A: Taja first mentions that she is a huge fan of Bjork, greatly admiring the way that the singer/actor consistently steps out of the box and stands by her individuality. Next in the lineup comes Beyonce, who represents the epitome of what Taja aspires to be – a nonstop performer whose career comes first. Notes Taja about Beyonce: “No man directs her.”

Third, Taja mentions other dancers – Jillian Meyers, Travis Wall, Teddy Forance, and Randi Kemper. Says Taja of Travis, son of Denise Wall, “He has raised me in the dance world. I could never see myself as a dancer without him in my life as a mentor, friend, teacher, and icon.”

Taja also talks about her connection with dancer Jaime Goodwin, who was a NYCDA Senior Outstanding Dancer and a top ten finalist in the television show So You Think You Can Dance. Says Taja of Jaime: “She is like a sister. She works for what she has. She stays humble and grounded. She pushes me to work harder.”

Q: What’s great about being Taja?

A: Taja is clear that her strong peer network is a huge and positive part of her life. “I can’t imagine being a good dancer without friends,” she comments. “I appreciate being around people who have ideas of their own, people who don’t take things for granted.[…] I get to see and work with the people I love every day.

Q: What’s hard about being Taja?

A: Finding time and energy for dating. As Taja summarizes the situation, “Dancing is my boyfriend.”

Q: What does Taja do when she’s not dancing?

A: “I dance!” To blow off steam, Taja engages in contact improvisation. She also likes to watch movies, play soccer, read, draw, write, and take photographs.

Q: What’s Taja’s take on the television dance competitions?

In Taja’s eyes, a television show shouldn’t be the peak of a dancer’s career. “It’s easy to lose sight of what you came on the show for.” She also notes that it’s risky to get too cocky too soon; emphasizing that the important part of being a dancer is the never-ending process of observing, learning, and growing.

Q: What’s next for Taja?

A: Taja, who just finished a round of performances with the Monsters of Hip Hop Show, is going to be a busy lady in the coming months. For starters, she’s touring around the country with the New York City Dance Alliance, along with dance buddies Jaimie Goodwin and Sabra Johnson.

Taja is also involved in The Zodiac Show, a live performance showcase featuring new and established singers, rappers, aerialists, and poets. Carmit Bachar, a performer and Co-producer of Zodiac, describes it as “an edgy, rock ‘n’ roll version of Cirque du Soleil.”

Having recently signed on with Clear Talent Group, an agency for singers, dancers, actors, and models, there’s clearly more in the works for Ms. Riley. Stay tuned!

Q: What is Taja going to do to celebrate your birthday this year?

A: Taja hopes to celebrate with a group of close friends. One of her ideas is to go hear the band M83. Another is to go to Vegas to see Bette Midler perform.

Q: What kind of impact does Taja want to make through her dancing?

A: In Taja’s own words, “I want to be a legend. I want people to say ‘She changed my life.’ I want people to learn from me, even from my mistakes, to feed off my energy, to be inspired and motivated. I want to help people find what their purpose is in life.”

Photo Credit: Denise Wall Dance Energy


We've all heard "There's a book in everybody." I think that everybody is like a library of books - bulging with stories, experiences and unique perspectives - toppling off the shelf with vibrancy and inspiration. Some people are like dusty books hiding at the back of the shelf. Othere people are gorgeous novels, full of color. Other people are pure science fiction."

So begins the newest book of my friend and best-selling author/artist SARK. Her fifteenth book just hit the shelves this week, and I love the title: it's called Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper: Gifting the World With Your Words and Stories and Creating Time and Energy to Actually Do It! (Whew!)

I was delighted to find out that SARK included my blog in Chapter 8's Excellent Writing Resources Just For You. And also included me in her list of friends to thank. What a great feeling!

Chapters Include:

I. Being a Writer

II. Time and Energy to Write and Create

III. Games, Stories and Ways to Get Your Pen Moving Like Crazy

IV. Difficulties, Challenges, and Ways to Transform These

V. The Power of Stories

VI. Stories and Portraits of Other Inspiring Writers in Addition to You

VII. Publishing, Style, Process

VIII. Excellent Writing Resources Just for You

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Fran Smyth is the Manager of Arts Services at the Arts and Business Council. She is an incredible woman, dedicated to creating and nurturing partnerships between business and the arts. Fran has come up with a project that needs your attention and votes. Here's what she has to say about it:

"For the second year, American Express has created a members' project contest. Worthwhile endeavors can be entered and the public votes on their merit. There are 5 categories of projects, but my heart belongs to the Arts and Culture area.

I've designed a project that I think will help artists and arts groups wherever they are - it's called Art Support Hot Line and it would provides answers or suggestions to artists. There would be a place for information about grants, fiscal conduits, volunteer help, educational resources...whatever was needed. I envision it being staffed by people who both know a lot about the arts and, eve more important, know how to research things.

Projects need votes to come to the attention of the judges. So won't you please take a look at my project and, if you like what you see, vote for it? Here's the link:"


At the Coney Island Aquarium (actually called the New York Aquarium), the young adults who work there will come up to you while you are watching the sea otters and such through the glass of the tanks. If they (the employees) think you can hear them (it's noisy there in the underground with all the families), they will come up to you quietly and ask "Do you have any questions?"

Which is such a genius approach. Because, inevitably, your mind comes up with something it's been wondering about. Lovely that they are not bearing down on you in any way, just wondering what you are wondering about down there in the cool dark.

When one of the young women came up to me like that, I turned the tables and asked her some questions about herself and how she came to be there doing that job. She revealed that she had been through an intense training, and that she was there because she was interested in sea life.

Just seemed to make so much sense, so much more sense than having a young person working at, say, McDonalds where they are just there to churn out a product and a profit as quickly as possible.

This young woman, standing underground in the light cast by the sun coming in from the sea otter tank, was getting to talk and share about something she loved - sea life. And we were both the better for it. It just made sense.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Reprinted from February, 2008

While watching this year's Academy Awards, I caught a fleeting glimpse of footage from when Isaac Hayes performed the theme song from Shaft during the Oscars way back in '71. I could see that he was accompanied by dancers, and right then I decided I wanted to see the entirety of that footage.

So yesterday I journeyed to The Paley Center for Media (originally the Museum of Radio and Television) on 52nd Street. I elevatored up to the 4th floor and hopped onto their database to find the 1971 Oscars. The listing appeared as "Tape 1 of 3" and also said in brackets "Warhol Vintage Television." The running of time was listed as 28 minutes and 55 seconds. That seemed odd, given that the Oscars last for 3 to 4 hours. The guy at the help desk was tied up on the phone so I figured what the heck, I'll just go down to a screening booth and see what this is all about.

So down I went to the screening room and entered the program's code. What it turned out to be was this: Andy Warhol had set up a tripod and filmed the Oscars from his own home. So the program alternated between his shots of the show and shots of his friends lounging around while watching the show. In the backdrop were Andy's continuous and barely-audible comments about everything on the Oscars.

When Isaac Hayes came on the Oscars, Andy did catch it on film and made his running commentary. To me, it was an irritating blur of images, music, Isaac's voice, and Andy's voice. So I snapped it off and ran back up to the database room to find something else.I entered "Jim Henson" and "Muppett Show" and scrolled down 'till I found a vintage episode of Sesame Street which featured Lena Horne, The Globetrotters, and Stevie Wonder. Yay!

Back downstairs, I got to see a full commercial-free hour of Sesame Street Episode 536 when Maria and Luis were young adults, when Snuffy was still on the show, and when the pace of the slow was much, much slower.

After watching Sesame Street, I went back down to the lobby of the Paley Center to see a wall and video exhibit about women who have helped to shape the history of media. She Made It: Women Creating Television and Radio "celebrates the achievements and preserves the legacy of great women writers, directors, producers, journalists, sportscasters, and executives."

My adventure led me from the 80th Annual Academy Awards to Isaac Hayes to Andy Warhol to Sesame Street to Women Creating Television and Radio. I love how living in New York makes these kinds of adventures possible.


Yesterday in the mail, I received a card (see accompanying picture) from a friend who lives out in California. It featured a miniature three-dimensional envelope, calligraphy pen, and inkwell, and the caption "a little note thinking of you."

In the card, my friend wrote "Please remember that I am always here to talk, listen, and share. You mean the world to me, and I truly wish you great happiness and success in all aspects of your life!"

The card and message made my day.

It is a blessing to give and receive hand-written notes. The message need not be lengthy, just heartfelt.

I suggest keeping a tray of items needed for sending letters- a place for your rolodex, perpetual calendar, stamps, pens, return address labels, and assorted stationery. That way, everything you need is in one place. Buying individual greeting cards is fun, but it can also add up cost-wise if you send a lot of them, which is why I am an advocate of boxed notecards.

Think of the people in your life who would love to hear from you - your dad, your grandma, your favorite client, your nephew, the person who helped you get your job.

Now get thee to a stationery store!

Sunday, August 10, 2008


The aisles of Rite Aide and Staples are abuzz with people looking for back-to-school supplies in all their favorite colors, sizes, and shapes.

As a lover of office supplies, I caught the fever - Back to School Fever, to be exact.

I got a few spiral mini Mead 80-sheet notebooks for general journal keeping; a clear and purple pen and pencil case; Neon Post-Its; Papermate retractable pencils; Papermate blue ball-point pens; and Pentel Wow! retractable pens in black, blue, and red.

Here's one thing I won't miss about school: carrying 20-pound textbooks to and from home.

Saturday, August 09, 2008


In The City section of last Sunday's New York Times, I found this personal ad. I love how she puts it all on the table:


46, ww, catholic, mother of two, DD free, out of shape with sags in all the right places, 5'8", gray, blond, and blue. Loves books, autumn, fresh/salw swimming, a clean-shaven man, sunrise, stone work. Likes off beat humor, fresh/salt fishing, salad, winter, the premise of theology. Dislikes Italian food, super-string theory, blinking X-mas lights, Friday Times puzzle. Abhors raisins, sarcasem, headbands on bald babies. ISO S/WW gentleman who is quiet-spoken, has quiet strengths of character and an intelligent, knowing twinkle in his eyes.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


After working with a client to help them organize their home yesterday, I got inspired to come back to my place and do some organizing for myself. I started by cleaning the apartment, a task I always procrastinate on but always feel great after I complete. After cleaning, I started weeding through my rolodex, paper files, supply drawers, bookshelves, and email inbox.

As I went along this path, I made mental notes of all the loose to-dos that had been floating around my head and needed attention. I wrote all those to-dos down on a lined notepad so they actually have somewhere to land. It's a lot easier to get things done that way. And it frees up tons of mental and physical energy.

I also took a bunch of fun items I no longer needed, used, or wanted and put them out on the front stoop for the taking. I know that some folks like to save up a bunch of unwanted stuff until they have enough for a tag sale. Living in a small space, it just doesn't make sense for us to do that. Plus I love the immediate satisfaction of having the stuff gone and knowing that someone else is enjoying it.

Every time I go on a cleaning and organizing spree, I feel like a million bucks. I'm ready to take on the world!

PS - Want some help organizing your life? Want to lighten your load before Fall rolls around?Give me a call at 917-499-7395. I've been helping parents, artists, and entrepreneurs get organized since 1999.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Summer Pierre is constantly inspiring the world, as evidenced by her most recent poster. Click on the image to read the text.


"If something lives inside you - be it fashion, music, words or pictures - what's ultimately more important than whether you are able to sell it is whether you choose to share it."

-- Paul Hagen, Editor-In-Chief of Metrosource Magazine, Aug/Sept 2008 Issue

Photograph by Michael Sorgatz

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Monumental Water Conservation Mural Happening Now on 4th Avenue & Sackett Street.

As the heat of New York’s summer continues, a group of youth in Brooklyn are sending out a clear message to all of us to conserve that most precious of the city’s natural resources – our water.

To communicate the importance of protecting and conserving the water supply to New York, a group of teens, who are part of Groundswell Community Mural Project’s Summer Leadership Institute, have met with the Department of Environmental Protection and visited key sites of importance to the delivery of safe, clean drinking water to the city.

Their ideas will transform a four-story wall on 4th Avenue, Brooklyn, with a message of environmental protection and respect. The mural on 4th Avenue is aimed at, “raising consciousness of how precious water is as a resource to us”, says team participant Christina Cacioppo. Christina is one of 14 young people who are collectively pooling their resources to create the mural. Fellow team member Zane Smith adds that, “this mural reflects the global issue of water as a precious resource, and as only seven percent of the world’s water is drinkable we shouldn’t take our water for granted”.

For more information:


Young Women get out the Facts about Women in the Military in a Large Scale Mural on 3rd Avenue & 23rd Street.

As the war in Iraq continues in its fifth year, youth in NYC schools continue to come under pressure to enlist by military recruiters. To address the pressure that teens face and to get the facts out about life for women in the military, a group of young Brooklyn women, who are also part of Groundswell’s Summer Leadership Institute, are painting a three-story mural. “This mural is about informing people about how women are affected in the war, and that there are alternatives to enlisting”, says Min Ting Liu.

Min Ting is one of 14 young women who are creating the mural. Fellow team member Elizabeth Maroney adds that, “Our mural is a creative tool that we are using to capture the attention of New Yorkers, and is intended to present that women and teens have a variety of options for their future aside from joining the military.” As part of a team of young women who care about the effects of the war on their communities, these teens are illustrating that young people have a vital role to play in shaping the communities that they want to live in.

For more information:


Ann Simkins, the newest member of The Brooklyn Blogade, is participating in this event:


On Sunday, as I was walking home from Park Slope, something caught the corner of my eye. Out in front of a home on Carroll Street was a small bulletin board filled with more than a dozen fashion sketches that were obviously done by a young person.

Each sketch was accompanied by the name of the model. "Melanie," for example, was wearing a red halter and green shorts."Miley" was wearing a red cowel neck top, a skirt with rainbows and clouds on it, and blue Wellington rainboots.

The sketches were lined up side-by-side on the bulletin board and held down with push pins. Some of the push pins were shaped like ladybugs and dragonflies.

It was hard to believe that after putting so much work into creating these ladies, the artist would want to give the collection away. So I rang the doorbell of the house in front of which the bulletin board sat and asked if they were, in fact, giving this away or if they had put the sketches on display for the general public.

A mom-looking lady opened the door, and, upon hearing my inquiry, said "She (the artist) felt she was too old for them (the sketches)." "Oh!" I replied, kind of in disbelief. "Well, I think they are great and I'd love to take them!" She nodded her head and shut the door.

So now, sitting right above my desk, are the sixteen fashion sketches made by a young person who lives on Carroll Street. They remind me of similar sketches that I did in middle school.

This find is better than anything I could have hoped to purchase at any of the stoop sales I walked past. Every pic is made with love by a young fashionista.

I am a happy camper.

Monday, August 04, 2008


My heart was all set on going to the beach last Saturday. But that wasn't going to happen. For starters, Mike and I needed to decompress after his lovely Friday night art opening at the Fall Cafe. On top of that, weather folks had predicted rain.

After brunch at LeLuc, a cheerful spot on Smith Street, we ventured to the historic Ziegfeld Theater to see the movie Mama Mia. There was barely anyone in the enormous field of seats, so we had our choice of where to sit. We sat smack in the middle without any legs to scramble over on our way in or out of the aisle. Ahhhh....what luxury!

After the movie, which was a ton 'o fun, we set out for Central Park. Once there, we sat just outside of the entrance of the Children's Zoo, right in time to watch the feeding of the shiny black seals. The funnest part was watching the people - most of whom were tourists - walk to and 'fro.

With a little group also parked on the bench outside the zoo, we watched the instrument-playing animals of the Delacorte Music Clock march 'round and 'round on the half-hour. Pure delight!

A little droopy from the humidity, we straggled over to the Loeb Boat House grill to gulp down lemonade and share a surprisingly good fruit salad. I loved watching the pigeons and their more diminutive companions - we'll call them the tiny fluffy birds - hop underfoot of the outdoor diners.

From there, we made our way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where we ascended to a very crowded rooftop to enjoy a view of the park's verdent canopy. We got a nice glimpse of the off-in-the-distance hot air balloon attraction as well as the roof's main attraction: a shiny Jeff Koons balloon dog sculpture. A nice, Manhattany bonus: we got to evesdrop on a conversation between the star of a primetime comedy and the guy we assumed was her date.

After sundown, we took the bus down to Rockefeller Center, where hundreds of people were lounging in the Rink Bar, the space that doubles as the famous ice skating rink in the winter. When a sudden heavy burst of rain showers hit, the diners and drinkers huddled under the bar's scattering of orange umbrellas.

Once underground, we took the F back to our quiet abode in Carroll Gardens.

I'm already planning a trip back to the Ziegfeld.

Photo by Jeanine

Sunday, August 03, 2008


Today, during my work shift as a cart-walker at the Park Slope Food Coop, I accompanied my friend and his almost five-year-old son to their car. My friend mentioned that his son, who had been watching the DVDs of the long-gone children's tv program Pee-Wee's Playhouse, was enamored by the show and its characters. I had this huge flashback of the hours that my younger brother and I spent watching that show thirty years ago.

My friend mentioned that PWP seemed to have had a big influence on other children's tv shows.

I tole him that the movie Pee Wee's Big Adventures had an impact on the kind of mischief my sibling and I got into. Based on a scene from that movie, my brother and I went into the bathroom with a role of clear tape, pushed our noses way up so the nostrils faced forward, then wrapped the tape round and round our heads so that our noses stayed that way. We then ran down to the kitchen to show our mom, who I'm sure wondered what kind of children she had raised.

Pee-Wee's Playhouse and Pee-Wee's Big Adventures were full of quirky characters, innovative set designs (by Gary Panter, who is still at work as a designer), and scenes that stay in your head forever.

Long live Pee-Wee!

Illustration by Katherine Streeter

Friday, August 01, 2008


This just in from my daily source of inspiration, Daily Om:
Taking The Risk: Permission To Be Real

Most of us are familiar with the idea of keeping it real and have an intuitive sense about what that means. People who keep it real don’t hide behind a mask to keep themselves safe from their fear of how they might be perceived. They don’t present a false self in order to appear more perfect, more powerful, or more independent. People who keep it real present themselves as they truly are, the good parts and the parts most of us would rather hide, sharing their full selves with the people who are lucky enough to know them.

Being real in this way is not an easy thing to do as we live in a culture that often shows us images of physical and material perfection. As a result, we all want to look younger, thinner, wealthier, and more successful. We are rewarded externally when we succeed at this masquerade, but people who are real remind us that, internally, we suffer. Whenever we feel that who we are is not enough and that we need to be bigger, better, or more exciting, we send a message to ourselves that we are not enough. Meanwhile, people who are not trying to be something more than they are walk into a room and bring a feeling of ease, humor, and warmth with them. They acknowledge their wrinkles and laugh at their personal eccentricities without putting themselves down.

People like this inspire us to let go of our own defenses and relax for a moment in the truth of who we really are. In their presence, we feel safe enough to take off our masks and experience the freedom of not hiding behind a barrier. Those of us who were lucky enough to have a parent who was able to keep it real may find it easier to be that way ourselves. The rest of us may have to work a little harder to let go of our pretenses and share the beauty and humor of our real selves. Our reward for taking such a risk is that as we do, we will attract and inspire others, giving them the permission to be real too.