I'm just off the plane from Manhattan (we got in an hour early–have you ever heard of such a thing?), where I walked so much I went through five pairs of shoes in as many days. Okay, I did buy one pair of adorable purple sandals and wore them all through Chinatown, but considering the number of shoe stores we went in, its a miracle I only came home with one extra pair!
13. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. Can't wait to start it.
14. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by What's-his-name. For my sister, I already read it.
15. A very small knitting project with demon yarn in pretty colors. Even if it is demonic.
16. My journal. Of course.
17. My computer. Tried my best to envision myself without it, but that didn't happen.
What I'm not taking
18. The biography of Mark Twain I just bought. This is killing me, but I'm trying to learn that I don't need to take five books with me when I leave for six days.
19. My stitching project. Too complicated for travel.
20. Work. Except for that one wee project I might work on while in the air.
Lest you think my absence gives you an excuse not to read my blog, no such luck. I've got posts pre-written and scheduled all week, including a fabulous guest post on Friday. There are also cats involved.
In retrospect, I realized I wanted to write a paragraph about what I missed when I travel, but I didn't. Why? Because I was rushed and had a million things to finish before my sister picked me up at the crack of dawn this morning. That's another thing about traveling so much: it makes me feel as if I'm always in a rush.
And then I don't have time to do things I want to do, because I'm so often preparing for a trip, giving a workshop, responsibilty for a weekend orientation, meeting with ghostwriting clients, etc. For instance, I've been organizing my office for months now. Every time I start to make some progress on it, a new trip looms and I get pulled away to get ready.
Back to the opening sentiment. Here are things I miss when I travel:
Sunday suppers with my family
American Idol (there's no TV where I'm staying)
Fires in the fireplace
I'm sure if I thought about it longer I'd come up with more.
And yet. I'm reading reports on the Haiti earthquake as I wend my way across the country and it is just horrendous. I am so damn lucky–we all of us are, anyone who has time to read this blog and worry about writing. Odds are good we have roofs over our heads, and enough food to eat, and a nice hot shower (to say nothing of a nice hot fireplace). Yesterday I had the utter luxury of spending the morning shopping and worrying about what I was going to wear for the workshop.
I am so damn lucky. I love my life. Home will wait. I love traveling. Lord, don't let me forget this.
***If you want to donate to the earthquake relief fund, go here to an excellent compendium on the Huffington Post. I planned to do a round-up myself, but I'm running out of time before I board the plane to Nashville.
I'm leaving again tomorrow, this time for Nashville.
I travel a lot, sometimes a lot lot. The last six months I have traveled a lot lot. In August I was in LA, September in Nashville, October in New Mexico (a real vacation, who knew people did that?), November in LA again and December in Nashville. That was not so very long ago, and now I'm heading back.
I have good reason to go, and I'm excited about the trip. First up is the Writer's Loft orientation, a two-day affair for writers. I'll be presenting my Writing Abundance workshop on Friday afternoon and it is open to the public, but if you are interested, hurry quick because we are filling up. After the Writer's Loft, I am starting research for a new ghostwriting project. I bought me a new digital voice recorder and I'm eager to get going. It is about a cat–what could be better? Plus I'm meeting with two coaching clients–so far. And I have tons of friends in Nashville who always get me into interesting things, like this time I'm going to visit a prison to meet a friend of a friend.
I tell ya, this stuff doesn't happen to me in Portland, which is one reason I love travel so much.
But it is also hard.
Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. I love my life and I love traveling. It is just that I get stressed out thinking about the logistics. You know–getting to the airport on time, making connections, picking up the rental car, like that. When, really, I rarely have trouble with logistics and if I do, it all seems to sort itself out (on my last trip home from Nashville, I just missed my connecting flight in Denver but got to have dinner with a wonderful fellow traveler who was also stranded).
And I worry that the orientation will be satisfying, that people will like my workshop, that the research will go well, that I'll be able to take good care of the dogs who live in the house I'm housesitting…and while I'm at it, I worry that I haven't heard from the agent who is reading my book, and that my blog traffic will go down when I'm not able to post as often while I'm gone, and that I've got manuscripts to read, and that my cats will miss me and be sad while I'm gone, to say nothing of my family. Oh wait, never mind, they are all busy with their own lives that don't center around me, I forgot.
But you get the idea. Sometimes I start worrying so much that I wonder why I do this, why I set myself up for trips that entail so much responsibility and so many things that could go wrong. And then I realize that if I didn't do it, I'd be bored with myself. If I didn't set myself up for challenges, I'd probably never leave the house. And, despite the fact that I long for a couple of months at home without rushing off again, the truth is I love traveling and I most especially love traveling to Nashville. And any crises I have to endure along the way will be worth it in the end.
So off I go again.
If you are in the Nashville area, come see me at the Loft this Friday and Saturday or email me and we'll set something up, okay? And meanwhile, if anyone wants to chime in on their own travel worries, feel free. Other people get stressed about travel, don't they? Don't they?
Sitting in the garden at the Pasadena coffee shop called Zephyr, I whiled away a few good hours talking with my screenwriting friend Brian. We discussed the movie biz and the publishing world while a gentle breeze rustled the ivy covering the patio walls and handsome Armenians smoked hookahs at a table nearby. Russian literature reared its head for consideration, as did the economy (what current conversation is complete without touching on that?) and other mysteries of life.
That was on day six of my trip to LA. I was in Pasadena, to be exact, staying with my friend Suzanne, who told me all about her new modality, Reference Point Therapy, and took me through a couple sessions. I had a tarot reading on day seven, which forecast many good things ahead for me. I've had tarot readings when such was not the case, that's for sure–which is, perhaps, the beauty of the cards, which are difficult to fake. Sort of like plotting a novel is difficult to fake–if it doesn't work, the problems are obvious. (Less obvious, of course, is how to fix it.)
This trip turned out to be a much-needed bit of R and R. After the year I've had, I needed it more than I realized. I regret that I was unable to do many of the things I usually do when in LA, such as visit Julie or see Diana. But I'll make time for them next trip. This visit was strangely free of meeting with clients, though I did attend one networking event. And, as usual, stumbled over my tongue when it came time to explain myself:
"And what do you do?" said the bright-eyed young woman.
"Oh, I'm a writer," I replied airily.
"That sounds so exciting. What kind of writing do you do?"
This is the dreaded question. "Well, I um, do a lot of ghostwriting. You know, for business owners who need a book to promote themselves. And I also do copywriting, like for websites? And, let's see, I teach creative writing, too. Because you know, my true love is writing fiction. And my main goal is to get the novel I just finished published."
By this time the bright-eyed woman has turned away. I hear her asking a middle-aged man what he does.
"I help people maximize their business profits by teaching them to pay attention to their bottom line."
I really need to develop the art of the elevator pitch. Its a good thing I'm not a screenwriter, required to take meetings with producers and pitch a one-minute synopsis of my novel ("It's, um, Bridget Jones meets Something's Gotta Give?")
But I did manage to have a lovely conversation with a chiropractor who immediately got how important having a book is to promote your business, despite my bumbling attempts to convince him. And then I went home to a pretty good bottle of Syrah, so that made everything okay.
Yesterday, Suzanne and I went to see Julie and Julia, a most wonderful movie. Neither of us had been to see a movie for months, and going to the theater to see movies is one of the things I love to do. It took us about three hours to get there because we kept screwing up the showing times and having to drive back and forth to various theaters. But it was worth it. I loved the film. What's not to love when Meryl Streep nails Julia Child, like totally nails her? And Amy Adams plays a blogger who hits the big time.
Now, at this very moment, I am sitting in the San Francisco airport. I have a three-hour layover here, despite the fact that a direct flight from Burbank to PDX is only two hours. But it gives me time to ponder southern California, and the strange hold that LA seems to have on me. I don't miss it when I'm gone from there, but as soon as I get there, I start plotting when I can get back. Can somebody explain this to me? Plus, I'm a Portland girl, through and through. I like rain and greenery. I like people who walk places (I can't tell you how many times I nearly got run down by Very Big Trucks on my morning ambles through Pasadena) and bicyclists and citizens who take public transportation and eschew their cars. I like pale skin, beaches you can walk along and not see many other people, and ice-cold ocean water. I like people of various shapes and sizes and levels of beauty. So can somebody please tell me why I keep falling in love with LA?
A couple of non-LA related notes:
Please go vote for Whimsey, my friend Julie's dog. Because A. he's adorable and B. it would really help her out.
And don't forget the exciting contest that is coming up right here in this very spot next week. Stay tuned!
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, used under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0.
where it is illegal to look different from anyone else.
It is a requirement here that you be thin, tan, have long hair, wear sunglasses and pout, AND be young. Thus if you are not young it is required that you go get plastic surgery really, really fast. And then you look like you are trying hard to look like everyone else, even though everyone knows that you went under the knife to do it.
Ah, LA. I love it so, and I'm not even sure why.
Being here always makes me muse on the nature of identity and true self. These are important topics for writers because letting that ole true self out in words is pretty much the key to it all. You will find success only when you find your voice and you find your voice by writing enough that you can let it rip, and open a direct line from your deepest inner being, through the arm, out the fingers, and onto the page. Or keyboard. Or digital recorder.
My friend Deidre, who lives in Silver Lake, says that everyone in LA strives to look alike and act alike and be alike and then the one person who is not like everyone else arrives and they are the one who makes it. So why does everyone else persist in attempting to be like everyone else?
And once you hit 40, forget it. Actually, it might even be 30. Soon it will probably be 20.
Lat night I had drinks with a friend who is an entertainment attorney and he says its a hellish culture of youth here (my words, not his, but they have a ring to them, no?) As an attorney, he is expected to be wise and mature so he doesn't have to worry about the the age thing, but if you are flailing about on the creative side trying to make it, you gotta be young.
The hell part is, of course, that everyone ages. Even Hollywood Goldenboys. Then they have to dye their hair and pretend they are still young.
I realize that none of this is news, yet it continually perplexes me every time I come down here. Why do we all persist in trying to make ourselves just like everyone else, when there's only one of each of us in this whole world? I'm veering dangerously close to getting teary eyed and talking about snowflakes here so forgive me, or better yet, explain it to me.
I'm reading Harriet Rubin's latest book, The Mona Lisa Stratagem: The Art of Women, Age, and Power, and she talks about how if a famous actor is on stage and a cat is on stage, all eyes will be on the cat. Why? Because the cat is uniquely, gloriously, himself, no matter what. Animals just are. (This might help to explain why the most popular photos on my yahoo home page are always of animals. So we're not as simple minded as I feared.) Its the same thing with babies. Ever notice how nobody can keep their eyes off them?
Somebody ought to tell all the 20-something wannabe actresses that story.
And yet, despite my horror at the preponderance of clones everywhere and the cult of youth here, there is something about this place that keeps luring me back. Maybe I like coming here so much because I can flee back north to Portland, where everybody seems desperately determined to not look like anyone else, ever.