Category Archives: Stuff I Love

The Best Kind of Valentine

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(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 2/21/14)

Valentine’s Day has always been one of those holidays about which I have mixed feelings.  In the years when I was single, it could pass without my hardly noticing.  Those years when I may have been attached in some way, perhaps I received flowers or we went out for dinner, but I don’t ever recall it being a huge priority.  The red and pink hearts always made me throw up in my mouth a little. I’ve never been one for super-cutesy stuff, and it always seemed like that’s what Valentine’s Day was selling – an over-priced, cartoony, pastel-hued version of love.  Meh.

Recently, however, I’ve taken part in V-Day, which is a global movement to help end violence against women and children.  It’s organized by the hugely inspirational Eve Ensler, and for many years centered around worldwide productions of her play “The Vagina Monologues”, in which I’ve appeared for the last three years in Los Angeles.  For the past two years, the V-Day movement has also included a rising on Valentine’s Day, where people around the world gather in the streets to dance.  Called “One Billion Rising”, it’s simultaneously a demonstration against violence and a joyous coming-together.

One of my closest friends in LA, Kristina Mitchell, was the organizer for the rising in downtown Los Angeles, which was part of a full day of risings throughout the city.  I agreed to photograph the event, which began with a flashmob dancing at LA Live, then continued with everyone marching through the streets of downtown to City Hall where several speakers, including Mayor Eric Garcetti and Jane Fonda, were to speak.

Last year I attended the event solo, as hubs was in Haiti with the Haiti School Project, helping to build a school for a community that was particularly ravaged by the earthquakes there.  Not to slight the man, but what a fun and raucous day of celebrating the vagina!  I spent the entire day and evening surrounded by some seriously fabulous women (and a few men), dancing and speaking out about how to end violence NOW.  My heart was full with all the love that day.

valentine1This year, hubs was home and wanted to participate. We took the Metro downtown and met up with the group at City Hall, where we mingled with men, women, students, and even a dog who were all serious about supporting our global sisterhood.  Hubs even wore a pink shirt to get in the spirit of things.  Kristina emceed the event that included speeches by the Mayor, the incredibly fabulous and eloquent Jane Fonda, and several others including actress Frances Fisher and author Marianne Williamson (perhaps most well-known for saying “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure” – powerful words, indeed). The event ended with the flashmob dance and a symbolic breaking of the chains that imprison us – a paper chain comprised of the names of those that have abused or mistreated us.

valentine2

valentine3Hubs and I then departed and spent some time simply wandering around downtown LA.  What a treasure trove of little goodies here and there!  We wandered into the Grand Central Market, which has been operating in LA for nearly 100 years.  The newly-opened DTLA Cheese inside the market called to us, and after sampling several mouth-watering cheeses, we bought over a pound to take home.  After a trip to IKEA (what Valentine’s Day isn’t complete without a spin around the showroom and some $1 fro yo?) and a quick visit with some friends, we headed home to cuddle up for the night.

valentine4I put together a platter of our cheeses with some other tasty treats such as marinated olives, fresh strawberries and truffle honey, and we tucked into it while watching the Beatles salute that had been patiently waiting on the DVR for a week.  The plan was to nibble then make dinner, but after singing along for two hours and eating ALL of the cheese, we decided to simply call it a night.

Best kind of Valentine’s Day, if you ask me.  I’m a lucky gal.

I’m Your Venus

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(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 5/5/12)

amy and marsYou see, my little stinker, Mars, passed away almost exactly one year ago.  He was both cute and a terror.  He was my first cat.  He was with me for 14 years.  He taught me alotabout cats.  He saw me through grad school, a divorce, a move to Jersey City, several boyfriends, a move to Los Angeles , and basically was there while I turned into a human adult.  He rolled with the punches.  He was really good at just being a cat.

mars2Mars got really sick at the end, and the last few months with him were wonderful…bittersweet, but wonderful.  He had to be put to sleep on the closing night of a show I was in – The Vagina Monologues.  It was a pretty terrible day saying goodbye to this cat, this creature that had become my friend and seen me through a multitude of major life changes, and leave all of that behind to go onstage.  But, the show must go on.  And go on it does.

Fast forward one year.

I’m in The Vagina Monologues again.  I’m experiencing major deja-vu.  And I’m feeling this extraordinary need to have something in my life to love. Frankly, 2012 has not been such a great year so far and I need a little sunshine. I’m thinking it’s about time to have a cat in my life again.  Adam – who can best be described as “cat tolerant” – has finally acquiesced on the notion of getting a new feline friend.  So I immediately go on the hunt.  “This time”, I think, “this time I will do it right”.  I will take my time.  I’ll define what I’m looking for.  I’ll find the cat that will fit best into my family life.  And, most of all, I’ll trust my gut. I go to many adoption days.  I meet lots of cats. I pet them.  I hold them.  I talk to them.  I look online.  I read about different breeds.  There are so many lovely cats – but none that call out to me.  I start to worry that I’m making a big mistake, I’m moving too fast, I’m jumping into something that I don’t really have time for, have room for in my life.  I’m starting to obsess that I’m obsessing about cats!  I don’t want to be the cat lady!  I’m going to be 37 in a month, it’s a quick and slippery slope…

I wait until The Vagina Monologues closes.  I decide to go to the Super Pet Adoption event at the La Brea Tar Pits.  I know I want a rescue cat.  And I figure, this event will decide for me.  There will be so many cats there, if I don’t find the right one there then I won’t find it anywhere.  I go by myself, on the last day, during the last hour of the event.  I walk into the cat adoption tent.  People are everywhere, there are stacks and stacks of cages with dozens of cats from dozens of shelters and rescue groups and it is overwhelming.  My nose starts to run uncontrollably.  I start to worry I’ve developed an allergy and it would be wrong to bring a cat home.  I walk up to the first row of cages and am immediately met by a very helpful albeit aggressive woman who wants to know exactly what I’m looking for in a cat and which cats in her group will be a fit for me.  She volunteers at the Downey shelter.  I meet several really great, sweet cats.  I learn that all the cats from Downey are scheduled to be euthanized the next day. I didn’t know I was going to get the hard sell here, that my heart would be tugged at with such force.  But I go with my original plan – I’m going to look at all the cats, and see if there is one that seems like the right one to bring home.  I walk around some more.  Some cats are from shelters, some are from rescues and live with a foster family.  All the cats need a new home, some more desperately than others.  So many cats!

I walk by a row of cats from the Castaic shelter.  And I’m stopped in my tracks by this face:

venus1

I’m struck by how much this cat reminds me of Mars.  This cat has all the things I loved about the way he looked – black and white, long hair, pretty face – and a black nose to boot!  So I walk over to get a closer look.  This is Bubbles (ugh, awful name) and a girl kitty (was really hoping for a boy).  But I just stand there for a few moments and look at her.  A very nice volunteer named Bridget comes over to give me the low-down on Bubbles and answer my questions:  a climber?  don’t know, talkative? not really, good with other cats/dogs? not sure.  Bubbles has been in the shelter for a month as an owner surrender, and as they could remember it was because the owner had passed away.  She had come in with another cat who was adopted right away.  Bubbles was not particularly responsive to me, but something kept me standing there.  I pet her, and she didn’t bite or hiss.  I brushed her with the same result, didn’t seem to bother her.  Taking her to the meet & greet was out of the question as she did not do well in a carrier on the car ride there.  So no holding her.  Bubbles kind of gave me the cold shoulder.  Bridget said she thought Bubbles was depressed.  She said “Bubbles, perk up!  You’re blowing it!”.  But by that time I had made up my mind.  This was my cat.  I couldn’t explain it rationally, but my gut said this was my cat.  I was nervous, scared I was making a terrible, rash decision, but before my head knew what had happened my mouth had said “I’ll take her”.  Some paperwork was filled out, some cash exchanged, and I was on my way with a box that had a cat inside.

Holy crap, I have a cat!

The car ride home was an unhappy one for the now-unnamed cat (Bubbles had to go) and poop was involved (hers, not mine).  But we made it home, and I brought the cat into the bathroom to slowly introduce her to the house.  That lasted about 2.5 seconds.  She wanted out, so I let her.  She walked around the whole house, checking it all out.  She didn’t hide.  She even played with the feather toys that Mars had always loved.  Adam came home, and met the new addition.  She didn’t run away, she didn’t hiss…  All seemed good.  That night she decided she wanted to sleep under the bed, which given the circumstances seemed like a perfectly good idea.

At 5:30 the next morning I woke up to the sounds of the cat emerging from under the bed.  She stretched, shook off her sleepiness and immediately jumped into bed with us.  She turned on the purr machine, and pranced around the bed in a sort of blissed-out, kitty-paws, trance.  She snuggled up between Adam and I, and I thought before Adam kicks us out I’m going to take our new friend into the living room to get to know her.  I’d been thinking about names, taking suggestions from friends, and decided to try them out on her to see what she thought.  I sat on the couch and called “Venus!” and she stopped in her tracks, looked sharply at me and literally ran and jumped into my lap.  “Well, I guess we know what your name is”.

venus3It’s been a week now, and Venus has claimed us.  She is appropriately named.  Whereas Mars was a fighter, she is a lover.  She is incredibly affectionate, and has even won Adam over.  She’s got her spots in the house she likes, typically in the windows peering out at the birds. She has behaved perfectly, and has found her voice – she makes these cute, funny little squirrel sounds.  And she purrs constantly.

venus2

venus4

I really don’t want to be the cat lady, but I think it’s a role I’m meant to play.  I’m completely smitten with this cat.  I don’t think I could have chosen a better match.  She seems really happy to be here, and I am absolutely delighted to have her.  Even Adam has taken a shine to her.  I keep catching him petting her and talking to her…so unlike he was with Mars!

This cat has my heart in her paw, and I’m so glad to have been able to give her a new, loving home!

The Domestic Goddess

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(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 10/8/10)

I started the morning with a good cry.

Don’t worry, it wasn’t over anything serious.  It was because I was watching Roseanne.  Well, maybe that is a reason for worry.

Being the domestic goddess that I am, I spent the early morning hours cleaning up the apartment and doing a few loads of laundry, and when I was done I sat down to eat the lovely egg white omelette with grilled peppers,sauted spinach, queso and habanero salsa I had made.  Normally I don’t watch TV during the day, but today I decided to click it on and plant myself on the couch while eating my breakfast.  While flipping through the guide, I noticed my all-time favorite show about The Domestic Goddess was on, so I figured how apropos, perhaps I’ll catch a few minutes and have a laugh or two.

Well, the particular episode that was airing was from the last season (the one where they won the lottery – not my favorite), but the scene that was playing was in the NICU at the hospital where Darlene’s premature and seriously ill baby was being kept.  All the women of the Connor family were passing this tiny baby around and telling her how much they loved her and how much they wanted her to hang on and fight.  Jackie (Laurie Metcalfe, a terrifically talented actress) was telling the little baby about how she had almost fallen out of the car when she was 5, but how her mother had grabbed her by the hair at the last moment and saved her, and that if she (the little baby) felt like she was about the fall away that they would be there to grab her and let me tell you I LOST IT.  The baby gets passed around to everyone, more stories, everyone’s crying, they keep cutting back to a shot of real, tiny baby, and I am on the couch, fork in hand, BLUBBERING.  I had to put my omelette down and go to the other room to grab a few tissues to wipe off the snot running down my face.

Now, there are lots of people out there, I’m sure, who don’t understand how I can watch TV, let alone Roseanne, for three minutes and turn into a puddle of goo.  But that show – that show has always been able to reach out, grab right around my heart and give it a good squeeze.  It’s the kind of show that makes me proud to be in show business.  I know there are lots of stories about how working with Roseanne and being on that show was difficult, but you never see that on the screen.  They all look and act like they really care about each other and the stories they are telling.  All I see is a real human story, with regular kinds of working-class people who have strong and complicated relationships with one another.  I feel like I’m watching my own life when I watch that show.  Whether it’s funny or sad or ridiculous, I come away feeling, well, a little more connected to the world.  Like we’re all having different variations of the same life experience.  Plus John Goodman really reminds me of my dad, so that certainly doesn’t hurt.

I know, I know, it’s just a TV show.  But it’s a damn good TV show.

 

roseanne