Rite-of-Passage

I was trying to make out the fine print on a bottle the other day. Lifting my glasses up I pulled the item closer, tilted my head down and peered under the frames. While I read tiny black on white print, somewhere in my unconscious neurons fired like pinballs through an intricate network until they found their mark and “ding” a flag went up and a memory flashed into consciousness. I pulled back and scrunched my face in confusion, as if trying to make out the source of an odd odor, and then my eyebrows shot up in surprised recognition – I have become my grandmother. What?! In my mind’s eye an image of my grandmother floats, her glasses moved to the top of her head or dangling from one hand while she reads and contemplates a crossword puzzle, a newspaper story, or maybe a bottle with instructions. I never connected my grandmother’s action with a universal experience of aging. It was just something she did. One action of many which together formed the person I knew uniquely to be her.

I have reached an age when in a dimly lit restaurant with contacts in, I will push and pull and angle a menu struggling to make out the fine print and a friend will reach into her purse and offer one or two or more pairs of reading glasses. When did this happen? When did my friends start adding over-the-counter hip-styled glasses in varying degrees of magnification to their stash of lip gloss, tampons, tissues, lotion, condoms, Band-aids, Advil and assorted other just-in-case supplies?

It probably happened sometime after I first heard myself refer to a group of 20-somethings as kids and around the same time I noticed that it takes a little more gym-dedication to keep the status quo. Maybe it slipped into my social circle and I wasn’t paying attention, I was focused too hard on what to order from that menu. Or like a sleight-of-hand trick, I was distracted by a friend’s good humored, flirtatious repartee with a young male waiter as she bid him check and see if the maître de had loaner reading glasses, announcing that they always have a pair, to realize what was happening. We laughed at her knowledge of such things. She was someone a little older and a lot cooler sharing her wisdom and secrets for what lay ahead, like an older sister who just got her driver’s license or could whip out her ID and order a drink at TGIF’s.

So now that I have struggled with jewelry clasps; wondered why anyone would choose white on black print for a website; squinted at a needle while trying to thread it; and, have been offered the tortoise-shell torch twice from friends’ purses (and once from my husband), the purchase of reading glasses stands before me like a rite-of-passage. And I will proudly move forward. I’ll probably skip the drugstore rack though. I have noticed that Anthropologie has recognized a market among the 40-somethings who aren’t ready for the role of Grandma and prefer to think of it as buying a fun, new accessory. Guess I’ll be heading to the mall soon, just like a teenager again in my own mid-life coming of age story.

UPDATE: Walgreens was a great place to start after all. Thank you to all who suggested that drugstores and Costco should not be overlooked. But I’m still loving the show-off, Anthropologie strategy and plan to adopt it too. So here are my  +1.00 mag.”training glasses”.

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Take Heart on Valentine’s Day

AsphaltHeart

February 14th. Flowers and chocolates are the hallmark gifts of this special day, or diamonds and cars with big bows, if commercials have made their impression. However, it was Hallmark the corporation, which through its mass production of Valentine cards in 1913 introduced timid young lovers far and wide to an ideal sentiment tidily sealed in crimson and rose-colored envelopes. Sentiments that would be received with a blush, a coy look, and a proper thank you.

That image is old and dusty today. Valentine’s Day is as much about expressing affection as it is about feeling validated by another. Valentine’s Day greeting cards now find a market among lovers of all ages and those in want of love, and those seeking to belong, and also those who feel with Valentine’s Day closing in around them, stressed, hopeful, disappointed, angry, giddy, complacent, sorrowful, aroused, over-the-moon, lonely and all other tribal emotions that describe our humanness.

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A Secret To Being Beautiful

For me, my forties have brought greater acceptance and a softening of my internal critical voice. I have long known that judging or criticizing others or myself based on physical appearance is both unfair and unpleasant. But, while I speak-the-speak and do my best to practice what I know, I have to be honest and admit it can be hard to escape the quiet, sneaky little voice societally programmed to take notice of these unimportant things. It is especially fine-tuned toward other women. I really recognized this after watching MissRepresentation.  The film demonstrates how media trains people to view women through a very critical lens, whether that woman is a national figure, a celebrity or a random mom at the grocery store. An example would be how when watching a female politician on television it is hard to just hear what she says without noticing silently her choice of clothing, hair, make-up, traditional beauty or lack there-of. And yet when watching a male politician, we might notice if he looks notably tired or rumpled but he will not be judged against a similar, non-relevant beauty contest checklist. I came to realize I am guilty of this at times too.

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Photography at 55 Degree Wine

"Wine Circus" (Wine Macro Series)

Getting into a creativity producing mind space can be really hard when there are to-do lists and obligations competing for attention. But once there, it is an energizing and comforting place to hang out. Once I have closed the door on left-side brain thinking (shutting out pesky responsibilities) and walked through the door of the right side, everything takes on a slightly different hue. The relationship between objects and to me change, absurdity and nuance dance together, and everyone I pass seems to convey some subtle story.

It was so great to visit that space recently. I spent an afternoon at Photo L.A., which unlocked the right-side brain door and propped it open. Then I had the opportunity to review my photography portfolio with a specific purpose in mind. I was given the opportunity to hang some of my works at 55 Degree Wine in Atwater. Thank you Jay! I have had the occasional photo displayed in group exhibitions and I keep a mental roster of businesses that support art, or are art-friendly, but this was the first time I had asked about hanging some of my pieces. It was a vulnerable thing to do, but I’m really glad I did.

The process of selecting, reshooting, tuning up my Photoshop skills, printing, framing and hanging, and artist statement writing has been a great creativity feeding exercise and a learning experience. It was a new project and responsibility added to my already very full plate, but this one was all mine and welcome.

I already loved 55 Degree Wine, terrific selection of wine and beer, great people and a hideaway wine bar that mentally transports the weary out of L.A. and dims the light on any irritation from the day. It’s one of those gems you want to support and tell all your friends about, but which you also want to keep your own little secret.

So, if you want excellent wine and a great atmosphere topped off with an opportunity to check out my photography, at least for the time-being, I highly recommend a visit. I now have a growing list of photography project ideas and goals that I look forward to pursuing (including highlighting works from my portfolio on this site). If there is a creative project that you have aimlessly wandering around in the back of your mind, I encourage you to grab it and give it some life. It’s a really energizing and rewarding process. You will be so glad you did.

55 Degree Wine//3111 Glendale Blvd.//Los Angeles, CA 90039

And yep, my photos are for sale. If you want more information, let me know!

"NOLA Resting" New Orleans, LA

"Cured Meats" Venice, Italy

 

 

 

 

 

Aim Higher, Katie

Remember the Today show when Katie Couric reigned as America’s Sweetheart? I was a member of that viewing public who tuned in and found her fun to watch and relatable. I admired her as reputable journalist as well. She started on the program as a national political correspondent. It can be hard to find women in the public eye who strike the balance between being real, embracing their own femininity and at the same time holding their own in a male dominated profession. What I would consider to be role model material. As co-anchor of the Today show she effortlessly slipped between the obligatory taste testing from a blink-of-an-eye food preparation spot, to handling serious and emotional interviews, to engaging in small talk and asides that made you feel welcome in her world. She could be your neighbor. Continue reading

Murals and More

Artist: CBS Crew and Vyal One

I was introduced to the work of street artist and photographer JR during a Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles (MCLA) walking tour in the accessibly gritty downtown L.A. Arts District. All of the murals we saw on the one and a half hour tour (just a few are pictured here) are worthy of attention and I highly recommend checking out MCLA’s website and joining one of their future events. They provide information about the mural artists and give insight about materials, methods and styles that even a mural novice can understand. Most importantly you leave feeling connected to the neighborhood and inspired by works of art easily taken for granted in a city overflowing with bigger than life, look-at-me pop culture images and messages. Continue reading

Spring in L.A.

Spring.

I am sitting in my yard, smelling sage and hearing a symphony of bird-calls.

Southern California.

I grew up in San Diego where spring was marked by Easter bonnets, colored eggs, and abundant wildflowers that temporarily dazzled the otherwise muted brown and golden landscape. Aside from digging for buried treasure in the backyard or making Barbie furniture from the red clay I unearthed in lieu of gold, the earth was something that was just there. Continue reading

45-seconds

In a friend’s experience and opinion, one thing you can count on in L.A. is that strangers at social gatherings will give you 45 seconds of their attention. That is the amount of time one needs to determine if the new acquaintance IS some one, or KNOWS some one advantageous. In a town where the “Industry” equally permeates lives without respect for boundaries and thrives on exclusivity, advancement is a gauntlet. It’s a three dimensional game of Chutes and Ladders, where you hope that the cast die lands you on a new level… time and time again, or else slip down and start all over. Who you meet and know is key. Continue reading

An Impossible Mission – the fantasy of spy films

Why is it that in the movies, the glamorous and beautiful and universally sexy, get to be spies? The thugs can be downright skin crawling.   The average looking, well they better be funny. What is the message being sent here? Continue reading

2012 on approach

The new year, 2012 is just hours away, and I am more focused on closing out 2011 than updating my resolutions which are for me, more of a personal road map and guide that starts at 12:01am. (My version of a Trip Tik, that does not highlight the roadblocks and detours … those I find out about later!)

In 2011, I decided to create this blog. I wanted an outlet in which I could discover, ponder, analyze and document authenticity and where I could be challenged by other views on the topic. The idea was seeded by my decision to let my changing, if not annoying gray hair run free, and born from a personal desire to unearth what and who I consider to be beautiful and inspiring, engaging and frankly real, in a city that brands itself as an escape from reality.

At the brink of 2012, I am forced to acknowledge that at some point an idea must go from being thought about and over-thought about to being kicked out of the nest. Here’s hoping its wings find a resilient rhythm!

May your 2012 be a year of positive action, realized ambitions and shining authenticity.