Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Quotes about (Wo)Man's Best Friend

"Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in your car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear."
-Dave Barry

"I'd be happy to have my biography be about the stories of my dogs. To me, to live without dogs would mean accepting a form of blindness."
-Thomas McGuane

"Humankind is drawn to dogs because they are so like ourselves - bumbling, affectionate, confused, easily disappointed, eager to be amused, grateful for kindness and the least attention."
-Pam Brown

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Pathfinder - Day 1

1. Childhood visions of my future career:

When I was a child, I dreamed of being many things. First, I wanted to be a singer. I think I was in kindergarten when I dreamed the perfect life would involve lots and lots of music all day long. I loved to sing, to dance, and to perform. In first grade, I realized to be a "professional singer," as I called it, you actually had to have a good voice.

I gave up on that idea, and then thought maybe being an actress is the next best thing, because you can still perform, and maybe even dance, but no one has to hear your off-key singing.

I imagined I'd feel creative all day long. I'd love working. I'd spend my days writing new songs and learning to play new things on the piano or the guitar. I'd sing about all the issues that were important to me and to those around me. The first single that I actually every recorded was when I was 5, and it was a song I wrote about my Scottish Terrier, Pabbay. Pabbay was my truest friend when I was little. She used to sit at my feet when I wrote papers all through high school and lick them, and it would calm me down. She died a few days before I moved to college, and I was devasted. I couldn't speak for days, but I think it was better that it happened before I left, rather than having to get that painful call from my mother. But maybe I'll write another blog journal about that dog. Let's talk about singing...

As I grew older, and started to do well in school, and also I realized that I loved learning, I thought I should find a career that is more challenging than just being an actor or a singer. In third grade I decided I'd be a doctor: a pediatrician, no a veterinarian. Or both. Or maybe a pediatrician and an actress. I like kids and I like movies. So that's perfect.

Then in high school, I thought maybe I'd be a lawyer. I didn't love biology, but I loved learning about history, politics, and government. I still loved acting, and figured that if I was a trial lawyer, then I could "put on a show" every day in front of the judge and the jury.

When I fantasized about what I'd be when I grew up, it was easy. I always knew I'd be satisifed in my job. I never thought about money. I felt inspired, and creative, and like my unique perspective and voice came through everything I did. I imagined myself alone on stage, discovering things about myself. Maybe people would make fun of me, or maybe I'd make them cry. But I'd make them feel something. And we'd share an experience and be bonded.

2. What dreams of the future lure you away from tedious times today?

Travel. A ranch house in Montana. Country music, and home cooking. Now, I think when I dream about the future, I imagine adventure, serenity, and wide-open space. I want to be whisked away in an instant - experiencing new cultures, trying new food, meeting new people who seem very different on the outside, but actually are a lot like me. Then, I want to come home from my travels, and reflect. Sit on a rustic wooden porch, with a couple of dogs at my feet, and a man at my side, and laugh and wonder in amazement at the world. About how many people live in it, and how every person is just trying to find their way and hopefully do the best that they can. (Maybe the man isn't at my side, but maybe he's horse back riding, or swinging golf clubs in the back yard. But when the sun sets, he'll join me and we'll snuggle and plan our next vacation together.)

But the point of this exercise is my career. Dreams of the future? I dream about feeling challenged. Using my brain, and learing something new everyday. I want to teach people, too. Working in TV now, I love working with the writers. Sometimes I dream of being one of them, too. Then I wouldn't just be the network executive who swoops in and critiques their ideas. But I could acutally help birth the ideas from the ground up, and I'd learn how hard it is to write. But I'd feel that sense of satisfaction that only comes from hard work and from putting your mind to something.

Sometimes I miss doing improvisational comedy. I loved the spontaneity. I loved how I felt after a Groundlings class because I always was so surprised at the character I'd create, or the idea I came up with. I never second guessed myself in that environment. I was confident, and I got out of my head. Sometimes things worked and others laughed, and other times, they didn't. But it was such a supportive team, such a creative environment. Those people, the classmates and the teachers, are what makes the wheels tick in TV.

3. What stands out as as the most important qualities that made these fantasies so compelling?

Creativity. People. Comedy. Writing. Thoughts. Thinking. Imagination.

Jean's Addiction

Dark rinse. Distressed. Faded. Stone washed. Acid washed (I love the 80s.) White. Stretch. Low-rider. Cropped. Button-fly. American flag patches. Butterfly appliqu├ęd. Vintage. Levi 501s. Ripped ever so cleverly at the perfect place on the thigh. Whatever the style, the wash, the fit, I am addicted to buying jeans.

There are few things in life more satisfying than the feeling you get after purchasing a superlative pair of jeans. Though trying them on can be a tall task, because often times you have to go through all sorts of styles to find the pair that flatters you just right, it's always worth it. Here are the things I like consider when buying jeans:

1. Pocket placement: Do they make my butt look small, tight, and round? If the pockets are too far apart, then often times, my backside will look out of proportion from my thighs.

2. How about the length? Do I want to wear them with high heeled boots or wedges? Or will these be my Sunday afternoon comfies, that I'll slide on with tennies or flip-flips? Cropped denim is cute too, but I must be sure I like where they hit on my calves or I'll never feel good in them.

3. The SQUAT test: Can I squat down like Mike Piazza in them? If this move is difficult for me in the dressing room, then I know I'd better seek out a pair of blues with more stretch or I'll be benched in the dug out.

4. Can you see your lower back indentations? How low do they go? Personally, I have a very short torso and no waist, so I need jeans that are cut to fit low on the hip, otherwise, I look like I am borrowing Fred from I LOVE LUCY's pants and sporting them hiked half-way to my chest. There is nothing like a pair of jeans that sits at just the right place on your hips. They can't be so low that they reveal your skivvies, but they must be just low enough so that your hips might peek over the sides.

Once I find a pair that passes all the above mentioned tests, then it's all about rinse. I like to have a variety of different rinses, from bright white to indigo blue, as well as a few pair with fancy adornments on the pockets. I have one pair with copper-colored Swarovski crystals emblazoned on the back pockets and I feel like a goddess when I wear them.

Jeans are one article of clothing that I don't mind forking over some of my hard earned dough for. They can be dressed up, or dressed down, and they are always in fashion. Especially in LA, where jeans are the common uniform at most places, it is important that I always have jeans on hand, to be slipped on at any moment.

Just thinking about jeans gets me quite excited. When I find the perfect pair, that meet the above criteria, I can't wait to take them home and put them in the mountainous stack of jeans that already occupies space in my closet. I think about when I will get to wear them, and which shoes will get to carry me around in them as I strut around L.A. I feel as if I've accomplished something huge. Maybe I haven't found a solution to world hunger, and maybe I haven't put an end to the bloodshed in Iraq, but somewhere, I feel good knowing that some undereducated, mal-nourished child made these jeans especially for me; and though she was paid $0.37 an hour to make them, I know that the $178 of hard earned cash I had to give the store, in order to get them to remove the ink security tag and relinquish them to me, is being put to good use...

Ugh..suddenly, I am coming down from my jeans buzz...it's a long, hard fall onto a cold and dirty floor. (Fortunately, nearly all denim jeans are machine washable so the mud and dirt washes right out.)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ashes and Snow

Imagine walking away from the Santa Monica pier and stepping into a dark, cool, and damp expansive new world. The smell of salt water and fresh wood is in the air, and you are housed inside a massive barn-like gallery, built entirely of metal crates which are stacked on top of each other in a checker-board pattern - the negative space creates depth in between the train-car-like crates.

Your mood is instantly transformed. Everything is quiet, except for the faint sounds of African music, drums and wood winds, and the gentle, slow rhythm of other visitors' feet pressing and lifting off of the wooden walkway built on the sand. Smooth gray rocks line the wooden walkway and rest underneath the photographs, and large blood-red metal pillars rise floor to 8-story tall ceiling of this new-fangled barn.

Creak, creak, creak sound your shoes as you proceed down the planks. On either side of you, works of art that change your body's composition: sepia toned photographs of the most amazing shots of man and animal suspended from wires that seem miles long, as if they are being dangled down from heaven, held in God's own hands.

On your left, there is a young African boy reading to an elephant. The elephant's posture convinces you he's hanging on every word uttered by the boy, his front legs are crossed, his eyes fixed on the little boy's face, which is completely tuned in to the words on the page. In front of him is a 1 ton elephant sitting inches the boy's 50 pound frame, but inside of him is an important story that he knows the elephant will understand.

Whatever the story is, there is peace between the photographer's subjects. There is a relationship between boy and elephant far too complex to put into words, but there are more than 1,000 I could use to try to explain what I felt when I experienced this picture and its companions.

Each image amazed me in a different way. A film of a man swimming with whales almost seemed normal and common after watching it for a few moments. A shot of a woman resting with a cheetah, with her eyes shut exuded a bond I never imagined possible between female and fierce feline. Another photo with a young girl sleeping in a canoe, and a monkey holding her head, with both of their hands dangling in the still water which their canoe drifts upon seemed like something Monet might have painted, as if it was a common everyday occurence. These images portrayed peace, love, and friendship between beings not normally depicted as pairs.

The artist, Gregory Colbert (coincidentally, my friend's neighbor in the Bahamas), spent over 10 years in Africa taking pictures of humans with elephants, cheetahs, and all sorts of other animals that were in THE LION KING movie who's names I can't think of right now.

Everyone should experience this exhibit. It's unlike anything I've ever seen before. It's more thereapeutic and more soothing than a trip to your shrink's office and Burke Williams in the same day.