Tuesday, December 13, 2011

39 things I am thankful for

Another birthday has passed.  39 years on this planet and a lot of things have been going through my mind these days.  Obviously the last few weeks have been filled with a lot of loss.  I lost my job.  My beautiful girl Asher and then finally my Auntie E.  That in itself would be enough to make anyone stop to think, but then add the losses of the last 3 years.  My Uncle Steve.  My business.  My home. My life in California, all of my money and in a sense my independence.  Moving back "home" at this age was a huge pride swallowing event in my life.  Add all those together and it's no wonder that I have started losing other important things.  My sense of humor.  My joy in life. My confidence in myself....I could go on, and honestly for the past few years I have gone on and on and on in my head, to my family to those around me who - even with my not so pleasent personality at times - have still stuck by me and love me regardless.  As I lay in bed sick over the weekend, mourning my aunt, the nearing end of my 30's, missing my dog, an interesting thing happened to me.  I sat up yesterday, sick and all, looked around and decided that the chapter of loss is offically OVER in my life.  Done.  It's time to close that book!

Now I can't control life.  Bad thngs still happen, and with an alarming regularity, to all of us.  The only thing in the world I have any control over is how I view things.  I used to be a positive, upbeat, downright hyper-active spaz in love with life.  I have been the opposite of that for to long.  I have spent to much time dwelling on my mistakes, the things I don't have and the uncomfortable situations in my life, and not enough, well if I am being honest here, ANY time focusing on the things I do have.

I can't change my entire way of thinking over night, but as with anything - you can't get anywhere different without taking the very first step.  So I have decided, for every year I have been blessed to continue to breathe in and out and live, I will find something to be thankful for in my life.  Here we go.

1. My home.  I never in a million years saw myself at 39 still single and back living at home, but reality...I am SO lucky hat I had a home to come back to and a family who took me in with no questions asked.

2.  My Mother Elaine.  Yes a lot of the time living with my mom is like living with a teenage sister.  She borrows my things without asking, still can't figure anything computer oriented out becasue she knows I will do it for her - and we fight and call each other names.  However, she is taking care of me and supporting me, and our whole family in every way possible, and she never once makes me feel bad about it.   I'm so blessed that 39 years ago she had me.

3.  My step-mother Vicki.  I am so lucky that she married my dad, and helped raise me.  My childhood and life has always been filled with chaos and she has always been the calm port in whatever storm I have found myself in.

4.  My Siblings, Francesca, Kathleen and Sean.  I could write pages and pages on the things they have done for me and brought to my life and how they have helped me. I am so so unbelievably blessed to have every single one of them and the relationships we have.

5. CHASE!  My beautiful perfect nephew.  I am so thankful that my sister and I live near each other so I can share in the experience of watching him grow.

6. Putting my dog to sleep.  Yes I know that sounds bizarre, but I have been thinking about it.  So many horrible things COULD have happened to her like getting hit by a car etc, but didn't.  I had 12 wonderful years with her, and I was blessed to be there and hold her and give her a peaceful departure from this earth.  It's something you never forget and I am thankful I was able to do it.

So While I am on the - spin a bad thing into a good thing role...

7.  Living with my grandmother as she slowly slips into dementia.  I won't lie - this one is a really hard one, but how many people get to say they got to spend so much time with a grandparent in their final years.  Its one of the hardest things I have ever lived through, now, but I know someday I will be grateful for the time I got to spend with her.  (this is something I have to tell my self daily from now on, as I try not to lose patience, a trait I am lacking in)

8. Failing at and losing my business.  Another tough one, I have spent YEARS beating myself up about it but the experiences and benefits while I had it probably outweigh the bad.  Most importantly Failure - means you tried for something.  I would rather try and fail then live a life never trying for anything.

9.  Being diagnosed allergic to Gluten.  Ok not eating bread, pasta or pizza (hmmm I'm getting hunrgy now) SUCKS - however....it's better then the year plus I spent sick not knowing why.  Finding out now probably saved me from a whole host of worse health problems in the future.

10. My kitty cat's.  Pagoda is a little bastard, Lucy is a little fatty and at this very moment trying to climb up the Christmas tree,  but they bring joy to the entire house.  I guess I am a cat person now. 

11. Old Friends.  I mean what else can you say about people who know everything about you and love you anyway?  I'm REALLY thankful I have so many people from different times in my life I stay in touch with and am able to share my life with

12.  Facebook.  I know I know - but how else in todays day and age of being busy and living so far from so many of your friends can you stay in touch?  And Facebook on your birthday makes you feel pretty damn loved!

13.  New Friends.  No matter how old you get you always have the opportunity to make new friends, share experiences and the person you are and sometimes they even feel like friends you have known your whole life.  I have been fortunate to make a few of them since moving to Florida.

14. Losing my life in California and moving to Florida. Another one that has taken me some time to get to a positive place about - but if I hadn't moved I wouldn't have met some of the special people who are now in my life, wouldn't have been here for the birth of my nephew, wouldn't have...well the list goes on and on.

15. Puff Dragon Boat Racing team.  A sport I had never heard of with a group of people I would have never met any other way. Joining my team and the experiences we have shared have changed my life here in Florida, for the better.  My teammates are a constant source of inspiration to me.

16. My big linebacker shoulders.  They were hell in the 80's/90's time of shoulder pads but they make me strong.  Able to do so many things.

17.  On that note.  My Body.  While I have had a love hate relationship with the 20lbs that throughout my life I have lost and gained and lost and gained and...well you get it.  I may not have the body of a supermodel, but I have all 10 fingers, toes all my limbs etc.  Yes I have some achy joints and jacked up back but reality is my body serves me well, it is strong - gets stronger when I work it and gives me the ability to do and try any sport or activity I want.  I need to learn to appreciate it for all the things it continues to allow me to do.

18.  Living on the water.  For the last 16 plus years I have lived within a bike ride or walk to the ocean.  I mean how lucky am I?

19.  My creativity.  I may not be the best at, or can make a living at any of my hobbies, but am pretty passable at jewelry making, photography and dare I say writing?  Comes in handy for giving my family Christmas presents when I am broke.

20.  Being broke and in debt.  Yikes - this one was hard but I realized recently that I have not been a financially responsible person most of my life.  So the experience I am going through now, well lets just say it is serving to teach me better money management so when I DO make a lot of money in the future I will be able to handle it better.  (Fingers crossed)  Also makes me appreciate the little things so much more

Wow - only 20 so far.... I doubt anyone has read this far but this is for me so we plow on....

21. Being Single.  I don't always love this one, but in reality I can do whatever I want, go wherever I like and flirt with whomever I chose without having to worry about anyone else.  (I am totally willing to change that all when/if I meet the right person), but for now I will enjoy my situation instead of feel bad about it.

22.  My brain.  I'm no Rhodes scholar for sure, but I am more then smart enough to get by, to learn new things and learn from my mistakes (in theory).  I got half of my dad's engineering brain and half of my mom's creative brain.  Not to shabby.  Although without spellcheck - I would be lost.

23.  My parents getting a divorce.  I am thankful they did for so many reasons, but mostly because it means I was lucky enough to grow up with a large extended family that just keeps growing and growing.

24. Knowing how to change a flat tire.  Granted I had to teach myself on the fly on the side of 95 in my aunt and uncles car  - but its a skill I'll always have.  Now if I could only learn to drive stick shift.

25. Being a Godmother.  My Chole and her triplet siblings Mia and Harry  - not to mention their mother my oldest friend Jen are a huge blessings.

26. Sunsets.  Its funny what you take for granted.  15 years on the west coast - you get them all the time, but here on the east its harder and even more special to see a glorious technicolor sky.

27. Big Puffy Clouds.  You don't see them quite as often in Los Angeles, but here laying back and looking at the clouds and the shapes they make can be done almost daily.

28. Getting to witness my nephew being born.  Terrifying.  Messy.  Exhausting.  But one of the most awe inspiring moments I have ever been blessed to be a part of.  Watching my sisters strength and that beautiful boy emerging from her body. 

29. Cooking and Food.  mmm mmmm mmm. In particular sushi, fish tacos and my new love Pumpkin cheesecake. 

30.  My travels.  I may not have much of an opportunity to travel these days, but I sure have been to some incredible places, met amazing people seen things that take my breath away. 

Last 9....so many things

31.  My mothers friends here in Florida.  With a few exceptions, she has met some wonderful people who have become a part of our family and are supportive of us in so many ways.

32.  Flowers.  I think being raised by a woman who was a florist and always has to be surrounded by fresh flowers, its another thing I have taken for granted, but they do bring beauty and joy.  There really is nothing like getting a delivery of flowers.

33. The people in my life who have passed on.  I miss them terribly.  If there is such a thing as guardian angels - then I feel a lot better knowing they are up there on my side.

34.  My education.  I didn't appreciate it while I was in it but I was blessed to go to some pretty amazing schools.  So many people are not as lucky as I was.

35. Yoga.  When I do it, it helps my mind, my body and my soul.  I guess there is a reason its been around for so long.

36. My sister Kathleen's fiance Leo - soon to be my brother in law.  It feels wonderful to know your sister has found a partner who will always be there for her and take care of her no matter what.  I know he will.

37.  Laughter.  It is natures anti-depressant and my new year resolution is to do it WAY MORE OFTEN.

38.  My eyes.  Because I am lucky enough to see, really see all the beauty that is around me if I use them.

And finally

39.  Another year of being here.  Having the ability to live, to change, to grow and experience everything, the good, the bad  the really really bad and the wonderful. 

Here's to my last year in my 30's. 

"your 20's are for making mistakes, your 30's are for learning the lessons....." 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Wearing Grief

Grief may be a thing we all have in common - but it looks different on everyone. We all have our own way of wearing it.  There are 5 stages of grief.  Everyone handles them differently, but there are always 5.

It isn't just death we have to grieve, its the life after the death.  Its the loss, it's the change it's going on living without the ones you love.

I am blessed that I was born to two parents who divorced.  Yes I know that sounds weird, but if they hadn't they wouldn't have both remarried, given me my amazing siblings, incredible step-parents and a vast circle of friends, extended family and loved ones with whom I grew up secure in the knowledge that they loved me. Family isn't always determined by blood, genes or legal documents.

The flip side of the coin is when you have so many loved ones, you have so many to lose.  I actually have some friends - god bless them - who have not yet been to a funeral or buried a loved one.  Either they are fortunate to have not lost family or close friends or were to young when they lost grandparents or someone in their family, to young to remember.

I have not been so lucky.

Last night I was snuggling with my beautiful perfect nephew, he was asleep on my chest.  His parents were out for a well needed few hour break and I was getting my fill of "baby smell".  You know that smell newborns have that has some sort of intoxicating quality to the ones who love them?  Mom came in to kiss us goodnight, and I turned back on the TV.  It was a blissful moment of peace.  Moments later I heard my mom crying out my name as she came into my room sobbing with the news.  Life went from serene and contented straight to anguish and pain in the time it took for me to hit pause.  I realized it's always been that way.  Whether it's a prolonged illness or a sudden accident, every moment of my life when I get the news it hits out of the clear blue sky - ripping apart everything in seconds. Then one of the 5 stages of grief begins and you begin to wear it in your way.

45 plus years ago at a fraternity party at Villanova my dad introduced my mom to Evelyn Porecca, a young woman dating one of his fraternity brothers whom dad thought may get along with his artistic / fraternity loathing fiance.  He was right, and they became best friends from that day on. More then that - they became family.  Mom was an only child and Ev was so much like a sister to her and such a part of our lives that she was my Auntie E from the get go.  I honestly think I was several years old before I realized she was not in fact blood family, but it didn't matter.  She was my Auntie E and I was her "baby girl". Last night mom picked up her messages to find my "Uncle Jim" letting us know that the previous afternoon at 3:45 - the precise time I was arguing with mom in Publix - rather childishly - that no I didn't want brisket for my birthday dinner on Sunday - my Auntie E had passed away, just several hours after she had been admitted to the hospital for what they thought was Pneumonia.  Just like that her lungs gave out on her - and she was gone.

I just did a search on the Internet - and there is no obituary up for her yet, which doesn't surprise me as she was the writer, so really I don't know who would write it for her.  She was a columnist for the Washington Post for this past decade (maybe more) with the byline "Teacher Says"  and an educator most her her life, writer, published author - she also has been battling cancer for the past 25+years.  Fight, Survive, Live - repeat.  It was her existence for decades - so much so that it didn't dawn on me that she one day wouldn't go through the entire cycle again. 

As I sit here and think back on my life, the last time I spoke with her.  The last time I saw her on a trip she and uncle Jim took to Los Angeles.  The first time I ever came to Florida to visit her when I was 10.  Her loud crazy infectious laugh.  Her wrist full of dozens and dozens of gold bangles (which I coveted since childhood) that made her jingle and sparkle when she used her hands to talk - an Italian trait we share.  Her stories, her exotic smelling perfumes and her persistance my whole life that I should be writing at all times.  She encouraged me as a child to write.  To write in journals, to write stories to write about the feelings I had that upset me.  Always a teacher, always a writer and most importantly always a fighter.

I will miss her dreadfully, and I know my mother is heartbroken. She lost one of her oldest friends, and life will never be quite the same.  I feel terrible that it takes death for me to remember to appreciate life.  I know Auntie E would be right pissed at me if I didn't appreciate what I have and every moment I am given.  So in honor of her that's my birthday resolution.  I know it won't always be easy but it's my plan. To do my best not to wear my grief, instead to take a page from her book and to wear life.  She always wore it with such style.

Dedicated to Evelyn Porecca Vuko.
December 7, 2011
Rest in Peace my dearest Auntie E

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Gay Life

When I was young, my upbringing was slightly different then my friends.  I was raised by Gay men, which in the early 70's was akin to be raised by wolves (albeit fabulous wolves) except there was a lot of tulle and ribbons.  Mom was a single working mom who was moving into the world she would occupy the rest of my life - the world of interiors, design, parties and flowers so who do you think her partners and friends were?  She tells me stories of how they cooed and oohed and dressed me up in elaborate get-ups, like their very own living doll, and would prop me up and say "Isn't she divine?"
No wonder that for the rest of my life I would always seek advice and fashion counsel from gay men.  Of course when it came to the messy bits, like poopy diaper or strained peas all over my cherubic little face - well they didn't like that part.  Mom came home once to 2 of her besties washing me off by holding me up in the sink and just spraying down my chubby little bottom with the spray attachment on the faucet while trying to hold their nose and not gag.  Gay men in the 70's who were out and proud had not yet evolved to the idea of having children themselves - as sadly it was not a situation society was ready to allow.  So the unpleasant and smelly part of babies was not fun - and "darling can you take her, I would just die if anything got on my silk shirt"

As I grew up - having gay men as "brothers" or "uncles" or just close friends in the family was something that was so everyday normal to me I never felt the need to address it or explain it until I had friends over in grade school who were baffled at to who these scantily clad man were, wearing more jewelry then their provincial Lily Pulitzer wearing mothers even owned and flitting around our chic black (yes black) pool floating gardenias in it because it was elegant.  When I would look at my friends alarmed big eyes I would turn to my current uncle of the moment - try and see what was so odd about them , shrug my shoulders and move on.  I didn't see the problem, never did, and for a young girl who was unnaturally obsessed with angst over body image and trying to fit in,  this was one area of my life that was glaringly odd yet didn't bother me in the slightest.

I got cooler presents then my friends (box full of feathers anyone), witnessed crazy fun parties unlike any of my other Main Line of Philadelphia friends parents threw ( I did wonder why NONE of my friends parents mixed socially with mine until I witnessed a party at one of their houses and was so bored I wanted to drown myself in my shasta). Parties at my house tended to be elaborate, many times costumes and inevitably ended up with drunk people in the pool, with very little clothing on.  It was pretty awesome to spy on.

I learned about art, and fashion, textile and flowers.  Then sadly I also learned, to young about the cruelty of  people who were anti-gay, and was educated all to personally about the devastation of AIDS.  I was the only person in my high school that I knew who lost a close close friend to AIDS.  I still remember our last Christmas with him and gained new-found respect for my stepfather who was from an even older generation, one that didn't accept or acknowledge homosexuality.  He accepted and loved Michael and as a doctor sat me down and educated me on the realities of AIDS.  You will NOT catch it by hugging the person you love etc and told me not to be scared and to treat him with all the love and respect I ever had for him as he is the same person and we wouldn't shun him if he had Cancer would we?

So in my life I have always had gay men and then when I became an adult gay women as a regular everyday part of my life without ever giving it much thought.  I love the fact that now a days my generation finds no reason to make someones sexual orientation an issue. Well ok maybe just the people I surround myself with, I know there is a whole country of small minded bigots still roaming around.  Sad.  I feel sorry for them.

So I know why I love gay men and why one of my best friends today is one, but I never understood why they loved me so much until last night.

Last night my bestie took me as his date to a very swanky fundraiser for GLAD at one of the most amazing estates (complete with yacht) in our tony neighborhood.  I really should have taken pictures but I found juggling my beautiful clutch purse, a glass of wine AND trying to balance on a twisted ankle was far to much for me to handle.  iPhone camera or wine?  If you know me you know what I chose.

When some of my new friends were gushing over how fabulous I was and how much they loved me, I naturally assumed it was my witty and charming personality filled with funny anecdotes as well as my ability to listen to them talk about themselves and tell them how fabulous they are (note when you are a straight women surrounded by gay men - you need to do this and you will get a lot of compliments and love in return)  But no, I was wrong, while they did adore my self deprecating humour, what I found made me so popular - the veritable straight girl belle of the gay ball was something I never would have expected.  It was - wait for it......my breasts.


Seriously?  My boobs, my girls, the amazing cleavage they were presenting and then when the boys found out that they were REAL?!?! WELL!!! (In South Florida finding a girl with real boobs of my size is a little like finding a pearl in an oyster...OK a slight exaggeration but you get the point).  So for the rest of the night as the liquor flowed I continued my education on the dating/mating rituals of gay men - not for the shy girls, it's all in the details, and was treated to constant glowing praise of a part of my body that I was blessed with and have absolutely no hand in.  Well not true - being 10 plus pounds overweight at the moment only increases their - well attributes.  The best part is that they very sincerely made me feel beautiful, their compliments were not sexual in nature, from a straight guy it would be downright pervy they were an honest appreciate for a women's body part that some (not all) gay men have sincere envy over.  Who knew?

That's what I love about life in general - you think you know all there is to on a subject, being surrounded by gay men my whole life I was feeling rather self-important in my knowledge and then a curve ball comes out of left field and you learn something new.  Something fabulous in my mind!  Oh yeah and last night I learned something else (well many things but some are not fit for a PG blog) and that is that all the best looking men in Fort Lauderdale are in fact Gay.


"Quit waiting for Prince Charming - he's already living with Mr. Right"

"Is the viking helmet to much?"
"No darling you look fabulous"

Friday, December 2, 2011

Face the Book

I remember when I was first begged to join.  Yes begged.  A friend I had a great time hanging out with in London - who introduced me to all kinds of people, implored and convinced me to join so I could share photos of our 2 weeks hanging out with all our new friends.  I actually thought "hey kinda cool way to keep in touch with all my new London Peeps" as they were HUGELY into it even though very few of my friends back in LA were .....yet.    So on my last day in London I sat in my rented flat,  turned on, logged in and joined the first wave of the social media revolution.

Cut to almost 7 years later and it is such a part of daily life that I have turned my tendency of over-sharing and "living-my-life-out-loud" into a career.  Well in theory as I am currently back to being unemployed.

This afternoon when I came out of the room where I just paid someone to painfully rip hair out of my body with hot wax (don't worry that will be a subject/rant for another day) the receptionist commiserated with my inability to buy a $300 package (so I could continue the pain and torture on regularly scheduled visits)  As it turns out she to is a Social Media and Marketing professional, and said she was psyched to find the job as a receptionist at a waxing center chain before the holidays.


However - that got me to thinking about Facebook once again.  Yes I know we had MySpace and other forms of social networking around before Zuckerberg took our lives and showed us how great it was to broadcast them for the world to see... but reality is that Facebook IS the real start of the Social Media Revolution.  Now social media is growing and spiraling into areas some of us may have never seen coming and I know there is more on the horizon (talking to live holograms of your friends and families from a wrist band perhaps?) but Facebook is - I guess the University headmaster of the different classes and levels of platforms we use. The Mac-Grandaddy of the social media universe so to speak.

WHY then, is the number one largest social media platform in the entire world not using the considerable resources at its disposal to help the massive amounts of unemployed / job seeking members?  I mean employers use Facebook to check us out - why can't they use it to find us for employment and vice vs.

Look guys I know you are up there in Palo Alto busy with making more money then is even fathomable, and making Mark Zuckerberg about to become wealthier then the combined worth of 27% of our nation (I'm sorry I think I just threw up in my mouth a little)  but how about helping the rest of  - oh I don't know - the WORLD but particularly your own countries economy by setting up a resource for job seekers that doesn't - pardon me - SUCK!

"Bosnia.  They don't have roads but they have Facebook"  - quote from the movie

Facebook - #FAIL!

And yes - I will still use it both personally and professionally - but doesn't mean I am still not irritated.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

And now for something POSITIVE!

So while I lost my job AND my best four-legged-fury friend this month I have been a total asshole of an auntie and NOT posted the BIGGEST news of the past 35 days - the arrival of my pwerfect litrle man - my nephew Chase Kalman!  Below is the moment I fell madly in love after watching my sister go through 25 hrs of hell to get him here (by the way I think single women who still want children should not be allowed to watch the birthing process from start to finish!)   But 10 mins later he was in my arms and I was in mad crazy love.

October 25th 2011

I am sure there will be MANY posts about him in the future as I have a BAZILLION photos on my phone and we plan to do his first photo shoot in the next few days!  But today when his mom - who shared a life with Asher girl almost as long as I did - read my post and texted me simply...  "Snif..."  :-(  She then did the best. 

She sent this picture of what appears to be his first real (non-gas-related) SMILE

I LOVE my little man!

RIP my girl Asher November 14th 2011

I was to upset to post about this when it first happened - but it's high time now.  You deserve a tribute my loving Asher boo boo - for being my faithful friend and companion for over 12 years.

I am forever grateful for that morning 12 years ago where, hung - over I did not end up calling in sick to my 6:30AM spin class I taught at the Marina Fitness Center.  When I saw the fitness director walk in with you, all 6-weeks-old with floppy-to-big-for-your-body silky, glossy ears you, I couldn't wait to wrap up the class and come see you.  When I asked whose you were, she put you in my arms and said "yours if you want her.  If not we are on our way to the pound" oh that was the moment.

When you looked up at me with those huge chocolate brown liquid love eyes of yours and kissed my face I knew that was it.  You chose me for your human,  life as I knew it was over, and a new chapter was about to begin.

The ensuing years were chaos and love enter-twined daily. You were sweet and playful and damaged enough property for a whole litter-full of puppies.  Shoes, socks, down comforters, car headrests, every single toy labeled "indestructible" we could find, and then the piece-d-resistance....an oriental rug worth more then my car.  You ate anything that was not nailed down (and sometimes things that were nailed down)  A dirti martini, countless loaves of bread, trays of freshly made mancotti - of course Ben and Pagoda helped you with that one - a pot roast for 10 and famously a bag of pot when you were a year old.  That one scared us a little - but you had a tummy of steel and just moved on to the next thing.

You had energy abounds, could catch a bounced ball 3 - 4 ft in the air and your obsessions/joys in life were the ball and torturing Ben.  Later in years you tolerated and mothered a kitty I put on you and mourned the loss of Ben with me for a very long time.

You moved 3 times in Venice with me, road tripped to Colorado and then we embarked on that 2,700 mile cross country trip together, just you me and the cat. You were such a trooper and a great traveling companion.  You never minded me singing in the car and loved to hang your head out the window and smile.

You didn't love it when I traveled all the time.  When picking me up at the airport you would be so excited you were beside yourself, until you remembered you were mad at me so you would of course have to cop a 'tude and turn away from me, with holding kisses for at least an hour.  But you always forgave me in the end.  I will admit it took longer for me to forgive you when you destroyed the one designer suitcase I had ever indulged to buy - but we always came back around for each other.

You kept me safe from intruders, especially that dangerous mailman dude - I mean who did he think he WAS coming up to our house every day like that?  You loved the FedEx and UPS men because they knew to bring you treats and on one of our scariest days you threw yourself between me and a dog 3 times your size who was attacking , getting yourself almost killed and severely injured in the process - all to protect me.

You loved the beach but hated deep water and I am truly sorry I tried to get you to swim in the pool once we moved to Florida. You took your job of protecting gram and mom and I very seriously here in Fl and put up with yet another cat we forced on you.

You were a marvel as you were diagnosed with Cushings Disease at 7 and made it until 12 - farther then all the vets warned me.  In your final days as you were going down, you were the brave one and I am sorry it took me so long to hear you trying to tell me it was time to let you go.

Putting you down was one of the most painful and dreadful days I have had, and I still find myself looking around the house for you, expecting to see you when I walk in the door wagging your tail and bringing me your ball. It's been hard to be without you.

In the end I feel truly blessed that you chose me to be your human and you showered me with unconditional love everyday we were together for the past 12 years.  I will never forget you and I do hope there is a heaven for dogs and you are up there with Ben, on a beach wagging your tail and chasing a ball with that big smile on your face.
 Asher August 5 1999 - November 14 2011

I will love you and miss you forever.

Job Hunt Again

So this is what I get for ignoring my own blog and photography business for a few months.  A blank Blog of my own and back on the job hunt again!

At least in the few months I was employed by the photography studio in Social Media and Marketing I learned a LOT  - well a lot in social media.  Only got my hands on a camera for a shoot of my own one time - pretty poor statistics with all of that beautiful space and equipment - but t was no readily at my disposal.  Sigh

So here we are back on the Job hunt, however this time in my spare time I plan to update with my own life, as mundane and lame as it can be. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Social Media Maven!

It has been way to long since I have updated my own work and life on my blog, now that I am busy being paid to do it for someone else!

My new gig at Studione1 in Fort Lauderdale is pretty amazing!  Working on their Social Media - marketing and promotions, and getting to use the studio for shoots, sit in on workshops and observe owner and pro photographer Peter Langone at work!   Excellant!

Did my very first studio shoot last week for a good friend who will be traveling around the world for over a year.  Her blog will be interactive and her way to connect to her family and friend from anywhere in the world!  I can't wait to post the photos - but as my "client" I need to let her debut them on her site first!

So my new goal is to simultaneously update my own blog with that of my work.  I am having a blog built for them so that we can update the goings on here daily.

Meanwhile I set up a Tumblr Blog for them!  Check it out!

Happy Shooting!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Life at the top - The Staging begins

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a Penthouse overlooking the ocean?  I have, down here in Florida - land of the high-rise you see them stretch for miles throughout the towns of Hollywood, Aventura, Miami and so forth.  With the housing economy as it is - half of them are occupied by the small percentage of the still obscenely wealthy, and the other half seems to be split between vacant or occupied with people desperate to unload due to financial  change of circumstance, something I can relate to wholeheartedly (The state of our world and my personal economic problems will surely be a rant for another day)

So how to capitalize on this bad real estate market and economic downturn?  As a photographer - gigs for shooting happy pregnant people, smiling babies and loving couples are far and few between these days.  Then for my Mother, a talented interior designer, people are not exactly knocking down the door in droves to pay her to re-do their homes as they once did. 

So mother and her friend Paula have started a company called As You like It (more on that in the future as I help them build their website and Facebook page etc etc) They still do interior design but have branched out to start "staging" residential and commercial spaces to help them sell, as well as designing and organizing events.

The bonus for me is being her daughter - God love nepotism and mothers desire for me to make money so I may one day be able to move out of her house - is, as they get jobs, and book event plans - who do you think the go-to photographer will be?  ME! That was a rather obvious answer I know - just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

I shot the before photos for a job they are pitching on yesterday, and while I am new at real estate photography - and found it trickier then anticipated - I will continue to work on it because I have discovered there is a market for it.  

In the meantime while the 6,500 sq ft 2 story condo was a disaster and a lesson in the perils and bad choices in "collecting" masses of kitschy random shit, the view was astounding and I couldn't resist taking the time to fire off a few shots.

While I still love living on ground level and being able to step outside into a yard , there IS something to be said for highrise dwelling - when you have a view like THIS!

Ahhh living in South Florida - it has it's moments.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Oh how they grow

I've been missing my friends in California lately.  My little friends, who are not all so little anymore.  I am sad that I am missing so many of them as they grow up - beacuse we all know how quickly they grow!
So I found myself going back through old photo shoots and picking out some of my tried and true faves and doing a little re-editing.  (My post production skills have grown a bit since these shoots)

 you lookin at me?

 and THAT's my final word on the subject!

 anyone who knows me knows this is my favorite!  She is my business card for goodness sake!

 my old next door neighbor Seven - she was SUCH a model! 

She LOVED being a test subject for me - I must have shot her half a dozen times at least!

Then there were the family shoots.  This family I am biased in my love for as they have been part of my close circle of friends for well over a decade - pre-marriage, pre- kids and I can't BELIEVE I am missing these monkey's as they grow!  :-(

 What a good big brother.  Jackson and Ryan

 Action Jackson - this kid was hard to shoot as I had to chase him all the time!

Mommy and Ryan

And then my favorite.  The Belly shots followed by the baby a few months later.  I am getting geared up for doing that with my sister in the next few weeks - if it would just stop storming here in South Florida every evening and killing our plans!

 Mom and dad getting ready for the new arrival

 And then comes baby Kaya!

Those little feet are going to be 2 years old soon!  I can't stand it!
I guess I was in a nostalgic mood today - missing my little friends, their parents and southern california.  Sigh.  

Working on getting gigs to shoot little ones here!

Monday, August 1, 2011

and along comes a boy

There has been something/someone that has been on my mind quite a lot these days.  Its the arrival of a VERY important boy into my world.  A boy who will become a major part of my life, a serious commitment ....until death do us part.

No not that kind of lifelong relationship - the girl IS still single and as I am living in Fort Lauderdale I'm not anticipating THAT status update to change anytime in the foreseeable future......

No this boy will be of the infant variety.  My first Nephew.

He is due to arrive in exactly 10 weeks.  10 weeks and our lives will be forever changed in this house of estrogen horror.  3 generations of Italian women will soon be invaded by a little wee babe.....with a penis.  He will show up to be cared for and adored by fun, social, loud, opinionated women galore and a bevvy of fun "fairy godfathers" - a term our neighbor has bestowed upon himself and his friends,  the core group of gay men who are regular fixtures at our Sunday night dinners.  Oh my....this child will be ushered into more feminine energy then should be legal under one roof.  10 weeks of remaining estrogen dominance.....the clock is ticking......

Now granted I am not the one giving birth and living with him 24 - 7, that gig goes to my sister and her boyfriend, who are both in some sort of blissful denial of how different their life is about to be and how a full night sleep is something they will not see again for quite a while, but as we live so close to each other and are the type of family who is constantly up in each others .....business, life, shit etc.. I know that life will change here as well.  Already our garage is filling up with, well...STUFF.  The stuff needed for babies. And I tell you - we only have maybe half of what is needed yet - and it's a LOT of stuff.  It's amazing that something so small can take up so much space!

So being the good sister that I am I threw the baby shower.  The party that honors the glowing mother to be, and allows everyone to get good and buzzed to be able to tolerate watching her open mounds of pastel wrapped presents for the boy.  Also being the crazy gluten-free-martha-stuart-type nut job that I am able to be while still jobless and full of free time, the floral tea party themed, gluten-free desert fest that took me 2 days of baking was received with much aplomb. Thank goodness
 Wanting the deserts to be Gluten Free I contacted the people at Pamela's Products - the company with the best gluten free all purpose flour and cake mixes on the market in my humble opinion) and found them to be SO incredibly accommodating!  They emailed me some special recipes in advance of publication so I could make my sisters request of Red Velvet Cupcakes.  If you have Celiac or ever need to bake for someone who has it, I must urge you to try Pamela's Products goods.  I have raved about them before on my blog and have to say it is WORTH $16 a bag of flour.  Yes being allergic to Gluten is an expensive annoyance but all things being relative - not so bad.

 I did go a wee bit overboard on the amount of pastries and cupcakes I baked, but god forbid there was a lack of sugar at the event was my theory.  I found that the best way to avoid answering probing questions about my own chronic single and childless status was to keep people liquored and shove pastries down their throat. (Well not literally but you know what I mean)

My one disappointment of the day was discovering that being the caterer, host and sister of the mommy-to-be leaves little time for focusing on photographing the event to the best of my ability.  These will suffice, I guess..... although along with being a crazy baking perfectionist I am also hyper-critical of my work.  I guess it comes with the territory.

I am however looking forward to the next few weeks of photographing sister in all her pregnant-ness, and once the little man arrives, well lets just say he will be one WELL photographed baby. My permanent guinea pig for practice.  I can't wait!

Meanwhile, Lucy better enjoy the silence now - I can't wait to see how the animals react to a screaming infant.  Oh joy!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Keeping up with the Jones's....

Yesterday I got a chance to play around on Lightroom by Adobe.  All this time I thought Aperture - by Apple was sufficent for photo editing.  
Lightroom makes all the difference in the world!  Between organization and workflow, to digital processing tools that blew my mind ....I now have Camera envy, iPad envy and now SOFTWARE envy!! What's a girl to do?
Find a way to make a lot of money fast that's what! Anyone want to donate $300 for software?  Anyone...anyone....?

Current wish list:
Cannon 5D Mark II camera body
Cannon 50 mm 1:4 prime lens
Lightroom 3 Editing Software
iPad 2
Oh yeah and lets not forget the iMac computer

Being a tech geek and a photographer is not cheap! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Somewhere over the rainbow...

They say everything happens for a reason.  I do believe that however I get supremely frustrated at times when the "reason" does not present itself for a very very long time..
In fact I would be lying if I didn't admit to the fact that I get down right negative about it at times and forget that there is a reason behind it all, the loss of my business, having to move back east and in with my family...not being able to find employment etc....  A lot of frustration these past few years. I have a good friend in Los Angeles who is constantly reminding me to "manifest the good" that I want in my life.  She is so good at it - even when things get her down - and so I am making a conscious effort these days to do that.

So one day last week I decided what I want and need more then anything is to work for a professional photographer.   To find a mentor so to speak, someone to help me further my education and experience by working for them and learning from them at the same time.   So I did some research and I found a local photographers website whose work I loved (wait until you see some of it) and thought to myself "you only lose when you don't try", then I sent her an email asking if she was ever in need of an assistant I would love to be considered etc etc.

Well, she told me that recently she had been manifesting her need for an assistant to help her as she is attempting to change her business and further it's growth!  So while I haven't been hired yet - the first conversation went well and I am hopeful that our meeting this weekend will solidify things.  I love her work, and feel I could learn so much from her.  Let's hope that the fates have finally smiled on me and there is a light at the end of the long frustrating tunnel I have been traversing down professionally these past years.

My very own 'pot of gold' at the end of the rainbow so to speak.  

Not some of my better photos - but they illustrate the point!  :-)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Where does our food come from?

Yesterday I did the family food shopping. I generally tend to be a bit better at staying on budget then mom so it is a role I have assumed in the household. Although this time I did make the cardinal tri-fecta of mistakes ...being:
A. Not having breakfast
B. Working out in the hot sun on my first paddle-board lesson therefore making me...
C: Hungry at the grocery store.

Not always the best scenario - however with the heat and humidity of the day rising exponentially every 10 minutes as it does here in South Florida - I pressed on.

After wolfing down a banana to help with the leg cramps and ice coffee in hand I entered our local Publix. With it now being summer I find myself yearning for all things fruits and veggies these days so I headed to that section to go to town. One of my favorite things is photographing fresh produce in open air markets, there is just something so delicious about stacks and piles of fruits and veggies in season.

I do miss having multiple farmers markets options weekly as I was spoiled to have in California (note to my LA friends left behind - you have NO IDEA how lucky you are in terms of fresh produce options - keep those farmers markets thriving!)

Here in Fort Lauderdale, we have one tiny small farmers market down the street from our house on Sundays which mom diligently attends to pick from the limited available fresh produce, fish and homemade sauces. Mother always raised us to be conscious of what we put on our plates and in our bodies, and loves to tell the story of how she "picketed for lettuce" in the 1960's. I jest but really my sister and my love of fresh produce and support of "locally grown" stems just as much from her a-typical way of raising us in the 1980's which was fresh and home cooked meals when she came home from work every night of our lives -I never even saw a hot dog until a friends sleep over in grade school - as it does from 15 years living in the heavily eco-conscious environment of Southern California.

So back to Publix...here I am in the produce section and in the back of my mind are all the recent postings online, in blogs and on Facebook by some of my - mainly Venice, CA friends on the state of affairs in our food industry. Tips on how to shop organically and locally. The news on the big bad Monsanto/Whole Foods debacle of genetically engineered food . The terrible state of the fishing industry and contamination of our oceans, the demise of our honey bee population....the terrible list goes on and on and as the caffeine was buzzing through my nutrition depleted body I stood there in the tiny little overpriced organic section with a bunch of carrots in my hand and froze as the meaning of what I was reading sunk in.

Grown in California


I mean it's no secret to my family, my friends here, hell anyone who talks to me that I miss a LOT about my adopted home state. I miss the fresh locally grown food the most - but I live in FLORIDA! Which means these scrumptious, organic carrots had to travel over 3,00o miles to be in my hand!!!
(OK for those of you who know I like to exaggerate a tad it is actually 2,715 miles by car....)

I then began wandering around the produce dept, past the one shelf of organic choices and seeing the signs.

Grown in Mexico, Chili, California, Costa Rica, FRANCE for god's sake! This is Florida, the sunshine state, I KNOW we have farms here, and the orange juice industry was STARTED here!! Interesting note - the ONLY orange juice in Florida that actually comes from Florida oranges is the brand Florida's Natural. Yep in the state made famous for Orange Juice there is only one locally sourced brand.

Last summer I visited my oldest and dearest friend in the New Jersey suburb of Pennington, near Princeton. She belongs to an organic farm co-op called Honey Brook Organic Farm and goes weekly to pick fresh in season produce like the beans above and the eggplants below to cook for her children and husband for dinner. How jealous am I of THAT? By the way dinner that evening was one of the best I had in a long while. There really is something to picking the food yourself that goes on your plate later in the day, and she is raising her triplets (yes 4 year old triplets) to be involved in what they eat from picking fresh produce from the farm, to planting their own vegetable garden! Yea Jen!

When they have surplus as they do with these amazing tomatoes, she makes sauces to freeze for the winter months so her family is still eating as much produce that is organically and locally sourced as possible, because even in the Garden State of New Jersey you run into the same problems in the grocery store of having to search for locally sourced, and in the winter having to make do with what they have if you want to eat a fruit or vegetable. In fact I am certain that anywhere you live - when you look at your choices for produce it is difficult to buy only locally sourced produce. Some states it is harder then others, but
Florida - for SHAME ON YOU!

So the dilemma I was faced while standing there was the following:
A. Continue to buy fruits and veggies for my family regardless of where they are grown and be a part of the problem.
B. Stop buying produce that isn't locally sourced and leave the department with nothing but a few large Florida Avocados (which are so strange looking and I am completely unsure how they taste or what to do with them) and Mangoes - which you can find all over Florida in backyards but are not organic as they are sprayed with pesticides. This option would obviously and severely limit my families fruit and veggie consumption.

Neither option is a win, so I chose organically while I could, and seethed with annoyance as I picked up other offerings and pondered if there is a 3rd option that benefits my families health as well as our environment. I have yet to find that option.

So with limited choices I do what I can for the health of my family and what we put into our bodies. I wait for 20 minutes at the deli for fresh sliced Boar's head meats and cheese that I can pick for its lower sodium content etc, as opposed to the quick pick pre-packaged varieties that are higher in sodium nitrates and preservatives. I choose organic produce, meat etc whenever possible - although it is a VERY expensive way to feed a family of 5 - as my sister and her boyfriend eat with us several days a week...well 6 if you count that sis is now eating for 2. We search for loally sourced fish that is healthy and not on the "bad fish" list, something that is getting increasingly difficult as the health of our ocean continues on it's downward spiral, but that's a rant for another day...
and Mother continues to go to the Farmers Market to support locally grown, even though the beautiful peaches she picked up last Sunday rotted by Monday.

Finally I continue to educate myself, even though the news out there gets scarier with every article, blog post and Facebook update you read.

Some of the best are blogs by friends of mine in California. Jason Stroh, chef, prior owner of Strohs Gourmet in Venice, CA and now Food blogger. Jason is into educating people as well as delighting them with healthful recipes with his blog FreeRangeTuna

Also my friend Elisha Reverby, owner of Elique Organics. While Elisha is an organic Skincare purveyor, she is also an advocate of the fate of the honey bee, and all things healthful and organic for our bodies inside and out. Check out her blog here.

Meanwhile - here in Florida I continue my quest of healthful and affordable goods to feed my family. All advice welcome!