I started out in a good mood this morning, but then I got extremely cranky. I'm still trying to work my way out of it.
P.S. I just noticed I misspelled Washington in yesterday's entry. I spelled it WashingTONG. Washing tongs - what would they look like? I guess if you were hand washing an item of clothing in extremely hot water you would need some Washing Tongs. But would they really have to be special "Washing Tongs", couldn't you just use regular tongs? Maybe towels or other larger items would need something else, but then why not just call them "Towel Tongs" or "Bedding Tongs"? Those have a much nicer ring to them.
The stark differences between NYC and LA are impossible not to notice when I go from one to the other. I love NYC - its energy, its HEIGHT, its diversity. I love seeing so many people moving with such purpose, as if to say, "Don't bother coming here without dreams." Those dreams propel people into action - have them walking down 5th Avenue, briefcase or portfolio in hand, on their way to the #12 item on their to do list. In LA the energy is so very different, and everyone gets where they need to go in their cars, so much of people's time is spent alone, in their automobiles, on the cell phone and very often running late because of traffic, which rarely puts people in a good mood. NYC does not have the steady weather we get to enjoy out here, but when the days are perfect there is no place better to be - blue skies, light breezes and outdoor cafes packed with people-watchers, iced teas twinkling in the sunlight.
I actually feel more at ease in NYC than I do in LA. LA has much to offer, but I do not find it a particularly easy place to exist in day-to-day. I despise driving anywhere and I'll never get used to underground parking garages for grocery stores. Being consumed by the film & entertainment industry, it is also a town that places a great deal of importance on looks, on brands, on who you know and what clubs you go to. I do not mean to be down on LA, it is just a very unusual place, and I am still not quite sure where I fit in here. I still feel slightly lost and ungrounded here.
Perhaps I need to keep a little bit of NYC with me out here - to bring that purposeful energy back into my life, as it has been somewhat diminished being immersed in this town with its laid-back, easy-breezy attitude. To wake up each day, goals in hand, and work harder to stay focused on what needs to get done to get those goals accomplished. To bring a little NYC to this tiny part of LA where I live, a short walk from Venice Boardwalk, Muscle Beach and a huge wall mural with quote about following your dreams by Rumi.
Thank you, NYC, for encouraging me to go further, try harder and be better.
Today is a perfect day in NYC - warm, breezy, blue skies, everybody happy. I love the energy of this city, and it is a feast for the eyes. I will return home inspired and invigorated and ready to dive into new creative projects. To see all of the art and creativity everywhere I turn is a huge reminder of how much work I still have to do to LET GO and CREATE with abandon. So often I continue to categorize certain creative activities - one thing is "fun", one is for "work", one is "commercial" and one is just "silly". I continue to censor my own creativity, thinking that whatever I create needs to be wonderful, great, mind-blowing and/or money-making. I continue to approach things from the mindset of how well something might sell. So very, very silly (and in the end, not rewarding - finanical or otherwise - at all.)
I have spent almost a decade trying to create for a mass market, trying to create what I think might sell and be as marketable as possible. I have tried to hold myself to higher standards and tried to share my vision, passions and business dealings with people I thought I could trust. Many people have let me down, but there are a few bright lights that have been a total joy to work with, and who do not feel entitled to share in benefits - financial or otherwise - that they did not earn. I have come across too many individuals who love the idea of being attached to something and involved in an idea but do not feel the need to actually do the day-to-day, perhaps mundane, work it takes to make a dream a reality. Too many people who are not interested in making sacrifices and following through with commitments they have made, and who instead do whatever is convenient and "easy". I have had to continue to move forward after experiencing these situations and not let these disappointments con me into giving up. In the end, I have had to find whatever peace and satisfaction I can in my own integrity, because all too often it is all I have.
I am through with these diappointments and through with feeling frustrated by them. Whatever I have experienced up to this precise moment, 5:21 EST May 11, 2205, is in the past and I now choose to only look to the future. I choose to forgive, forget, let go, release and be thankful for all of the lessons I have learned, however I may have learned them.
I hereby commit to myself and the world to let go of all this angst and worry and frustration and just BE AN ARTIST and dive deep into the joy of being able to say that and live that everyday. I read over and over again how much fear people have - artists in particular. Fear of what people will think, if they will fail, if their work will sell, or if they have lost their mojo. These are fears I have had all along and I understand them all too well. But for some reason I am feeling especially brave today and ready to make a serious commitment to just being an artist and a writer and feeling no guilt because of that or fear of what the world may think of it. I am weepy as I write this, because I feel a tremendous weight has lifted. I feel prepared to release what I need to release and just focus on my own work. At this point in my career, I am actually standing before a wide open field, and I can go wherever I want and create whatever I want. The best work I can do right now - the way I can serve this world in the most positive way possible - is to create, create, create. I take my role as an artist in this world very seriously, because if what I do does not make the world a better place in some tiny way then there is no meaning behind anything I do.
I'm off and running, empty of the past and ready to be filled with all the creative energy and light I can pull from this wild, beautiful world.
I arrived in NYC about two hours ago - took a cab ride across the Queensborough Bridge with a bit of traffic from JFK, dumped my bags in our room and then went for a walk beween from 64th to 50th along Park and Madison Avenues. I had to purchase a couple of ties for my fiancee, as he is here on business and forgot them, and then made a quick stop at Barney's where I didn't even make it past the first floor I was so overwhelmed by all the baubles. As many times as I have been to NYC, I have never gone there, usually making my way to Henri Bendel for department store eye candy with their famed brown and white striped shopping bags. I only have one day in the city tomorrow before I head off to Philly to see my dear friend Melissa, and I think it will be a museum day. Again, as many times as I have been here, I have never been to the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art OR the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Considering I am an artist, that is actually rather shameful.
I'm not sure if I will be able to re-visit any of these Swirly haunts, but it is nice to know they are there for whenever I return.
I brought my laptop with me mainly so I could work on my book on the plane. The flight from LAX to JFK is about five hours, so it was time to be taken advantage of. I felt slightly self-conscious - would the guy behind me & across the aisle read what I was writing? - and it was uncomfortable to have the laptop on the tray table. I put the laptop on my lap and after a while it just got hot. I also tried to balance a small cup of water which promptly spilled onto my seat, but I managed to soak up most of the water pretty quickly with my sweater. As they say, flying is an adventure. I'm not sure it is the most conducive place to get any serious writing done, but I did manage to bang out a few more pages. I knew I wasn't going to be able to seriously focus on the plane, so my writing today was a brain dump more than anything. I have learned to appreciate that kind of writing as well as the times when I'm "in the zone". All writing is worthwhile, and as any artist will tell you, it takes doing a lot of work that you feel so-so about to get to those juicy tidbits that you love. Even on an airplane flying across the country.
I woke up this morning to beautiful blue skies with fluffy white clouds after a night of sleep that was interrupted by rain (always a pleasant awakening). Yesterday it was rather gray, so this is quite nice. I went for a walk on the beach and then ran all the way home, which was excrutiating. I just started getting back into my exercise routine this week after a couple months being in "lazy mode" and I am pretty out of it. This is not unusual, however, as I have gone through these cycles ever since high school.
Step 1: Work out consistently and get in great shape.
Step 2: Fall off the wagon and lose all stamina, strength and endurance.
Step 3: Start over.
Alas, some things never change. Including my passion for sweets, which is being fufilled these days thanks to my girlfriend Pixie. There was a small box on my doorstep from the Fat Witch Bakery yesterday, and I knew from that name that it could only be from Pixie. Their website is right - best brownie ever! I think surprises in the mail - whether a package or just a postcard - are perhaps some of the best surprises. Most mail falls into one of two categories: junk and bills. To find something in my pile with handwriting I recognize, stickers and/or a colorful envelope is like a little present that always gives me a huge smile. I was a Card Angel for Chemo Angels last year, sending a card (or two) every week to a woman going through chemotherapy. I never met her in person and most likely never will, but she has a stack of cards from me that hopefully helped make her journey a little bit lighter.
The next time you are out and about, buy a card - or be bold and buy a BOX of cards - and send them to the people you love, for no particular reason other than to let them know you love them. It is simple gesture that costs very little money or time, but it will brighten someone's day without fail.
And, oh, by the way, why not make it a Swirly card? (Shameless Plug #153)
Interesting recent tidbits in the LA Times:
* An article about an 82-year old holocaust survivor who was watching a documentary about the holocaust and found a long-lost friend from his years in a concentration camp. Both men lost their entire families and helped keep each other alive. How in the world does one survive such horror and brutality?
* The Japanese business community (Tokyo in particular) being urged by their Prime Minister to dress more casually (and cooler) during their intense summer seasons. My fiancee has spent a great deal of time in Tokyo and believes this idea will meet a lot of resistance by the population.
* The discovery of a new mummy in Egypt, said to be the "Most Beautiful Mummy". What if we all had our very own personalized, customized coffins when we died? What would yours look like?
* A follow-up story about the woman who recently faked her own kidnapping and ran away before she was supposed to get married. Her community wants her to apologize. I agree. I believe what people want more than anything is honesty and a willingness to take responsiblity for one's own actions.
* An article about a new book by Peter Kramer entitled "Against Depression". His argument is that many people romanticize depression, believing it to be some kind of necessary debilitation for artistic genius, when really it is a very serious problem that the world would be better without. I have struggled with depression at various times of my life and so have a few of my close friends, and he's right. It's not romantic; it basically sucks.
* A few weeks ago I read a great article about women in Hollywood - how more women are leading more studios and producing more very successful films. I am such a film geek, but I'm not sure I would enjoy working in that industry. I'm almost afraid that if I learn too much about it and see too much of the negative side of it I will lose the passion I have for great films. I like that it still retains a bit of mystery to me.
* I also like reading advice columns to see how nuts some people truly are. (Do I do this to feel better about myself? So I can say, "I would NEVER do that! THEY are nuts and I am NOT!") Yesterday a pregnant woman wrote in distressed because her sister-in-law was insisting she be present at the birth, and the woman did not want her there. I was so relieved that the advice columnist advised her to stand her ground and insist on only having who she wants in the birthing room. I would never do that. That sister-in-law is nuts and I am not!