Archives for posts with tag: writing

20140321_142244I am beginning to think I may be the luckiest girl on the planet.  Things just seem to work out for me, even when it seems like I am standing in the bottom of a well, and the longest rope anyone can find to throw down to me is still three feet too short and a typhoon has just leveled the hardware store.

Fifteen years ago, when my art career was skyrocketing, and I was at a major crossroads in my personal  life, I was in Delray Beach, Florida looking for someplace to eat after supervising the final details for my one woman show at a popular art gallery. I was there alone, my sixteen year relationship in ruins, still reeling from the discovery that the man who raised me was not my biological father,  and with parents who said I’d known about him since I was six and had just “forgotten” about him.   I passed a restaurant with a handful of people in it, when something in me made me turn and go inside.  I sat at a table next to a pair of delectable men who turned out to be friends celebrating a mutual decision to relocate on opposite sides of the country. Richard had just moved to Palm Springs and Mark had just moved to Palm Beach.

20140226_114511My biological father lived in Mentone, California, so I had just decided to move to Palm Springs myself.  Richard and I exchanged phone numbers and the next day, I called my friend Daniel to give him the good news.  What I didn’t know, is that Daniel had only recently realized he needed a change in his life as well,  and was moving from Santa Fe to Palm Springs himself.  A few weeks later, I found an ad online for a house in Palm Springs, and called the landlord.   Since I was the first to call about the house, Jon agreed to hold it for me until I could find someone to look at it for me.  Richard was the only person I knew who lived nearby, so I called this complete stranger and not only asked him to look at the house for me, when he called back and told me it was perfect, but Jon needed a $1000 deposit, I got a blank cashiers check for the requested amount and mailed it off to him.  Richard delivered the check to Jon and took it upon himself to make sure that the house had new paint, new carpet and new kitchen and bathroom tile.

20140321_142853A month later I showed up at the house for the first time with some friends who agreed to help me move in.  The house, while far from posh, was huge.  Four bedrooms, (one with a fireplace), three bathrooms (one with an oversized tub for nice long soaks in the winter), a fenced yard, a pool with a waterfall and a garage.  I had room for a studio, a guest room, an office, and a library, which I filled with remarkable finds from dozens of thrift stores, and when I wasn’t getting ready for an art show, I was  “taking the waters” at the Spa Hotel and Casino, or driving backroads to Idyllwild to buy myself lunch and take a walk through town, or combing through  bookshelves at a second hand store in Joshua Tree.  I had a wonderful life, with great friends, and a successful career.  But when my father died in a car accident, I decided it was time to see what else was out there.  To “shake things up a bit”.   So I sold everything I didn’t absolutely need, packed up, and headed East.Denise & Red

I hadn’t been to Palm Springs in years, and this weekend, I am housesitting for Daniel, who is off to London and Paris with his boyfriend, Kenny.  Being here reminds me of so many things, not the least among them the sleek red dog I got as a pup, who hated the swimming pool, ate a hole in the carpet, and loved his girlfriend, Katie in equal measure.  It floods me with the memories of meeting my friend Tom Tyler (who was an extra in SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON), and dinner parties at Colin Webster Watson’s (a sculptor from New Zealand who had everyone from former Broadway stars to a couple who wrote for DYNASTY as his guests), of working for photographer, Michael Childers and  film director, John Schlesinger, meeting David Hockney, and Stephanie Powers, and Franco Zefferelli, and Steve Zaillian, and Michel LeGrand (who still owes me for the bowtie I bought him before the Palm Springs Film Festival!).  The six years I spent here were among the best years of my life, and being here this weekend reminds me of the people and places I loved, but it reminds me as well that I am making new memories, and reconnecting with old friends, that everything (and nothing) has changed, that the stars have lined up to give me a second chance at seeing the dream I’ve had of “making it” in Hollywood played out one way or the other.

20140312_143050I used to drive through Palm Springs in early April, when the weather was perfect, and the sky was so blue it hurt your eyes, and declare to the universe that I was “the richest woman in the world”. And you know what?  Despite how hard the last few years have been, being here again reminds me that I still am.  I have the support of a wonderful man, generous friends, and the memories of how things used to be as the inspiration I need to make the most of this opportunity.  I am writing my heart out, and learning things about screenwriting I only thought I knew.

But that shouldn’t surprise me.

After all, I am the luckiest girl in the world.

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Three weeks ago, I fell in my backyard and broke every bone in my ankle. I was gathering fallen branches to use for kindling this winter, and I had just finished bringing an armload up to the wood pile, when I decided to take a short cut across the yard to collect the rest.  Like most people in North Carolina, my lawn unfolds in stages; it slopes sharply from the street to my house, levels out for awhile, then slopes again to the rest of the yard.  Both slopes are steeper than they look, something I found out the hard way last spring when I was walking across the backyard carrying a steaming bowl of hot beef stew  to eat while I was watching the dogs play. I slipped on the wet grass and went down on my butt, the bowl went flying and I wound up having to take a shower to get the carrots and parsley out of my hair.

That morning, I decided to save myself some time to get the last armload of kindling, but the minute I took my first step, I knew I was in trouble.  My foot got stuck in one of the furrows created in that part of the yard by the landscapers (who mow back and forth instead of up and down because it IS so steep), and because I was wearing shoes for once, instead of falling on my ass, when I lost my balance I fell smack on top of my own foot.  I could hear the bones snap as I hit the ground, and immediately started screaming, not because it hurt, but because, in that moment, all I could think about was a conversation I’d had with a total stranger at Walmart the year before.  She was in a wheelchair, with a boot on her foot, and when I asked what happened, she told me she’d have been $60,000 out of pocket for breaking her ankle if it hadn’t been for her insurance.

I don’t have insurance because I can’t afford it, and all I could think of as I looked at my foot dangling uselessly from my leg, was how one simple mistake was going to cost me everything I had worked so hard for over the past two years.    I eventually realized that I was going to have to get to a hospital anyway, insurance or not, so I crawled across the yard on my butt and pounded on my basement apartment door so my friend Denise could take me to the emergency room.  It turns out that the damage to my ankle was so severe, I had to have surgery that night to repair it and after two days in the hospital, I returned home to discover that there are worse things than no insurance and a broken ankle.

Boredom.  That’s the real tragedy here.  Because I can’t do anything.  I can’t walk, I can’t drive, I can’t take a shower without supervision.  When I let the dogs out to pee and they chase down a neighbor who is innocently collecting the Sunday newspaper from his front porch step, I can’t intervene.  I can’t even apologize to him, because I can’t leave the house. I can’t do laundry, or make the bed, or empty the litterbox. Everything I do takes an eternity, and even though I am not doing much, its completely exhausting.  It’s also depressing, because everyone around me seems to have a life, while I have a bed, a computer, and an entire day to fill.  So when my friend, Bonnie Gibson (who is recovering from hip replacement surgery) challenged me to write a blog about being laid up, I jumped at the chance.

1. Read.  Forget the Great  American novel you’ve been wanting to read.  This is no time to be intellectual; its time to indulge your guilty pleasures with a stack of People Magazines or some back issues of Vanity Fair.  Find out if Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart are really back together or if its all part of some elaborate publicity stunt, if the brain damage Mitt Romney suffered after a car accident in Paris when he was there on a mission as a youth has anything to do with his inability to comprehend why airplane windows don’t open, or what the  endless fascination with Lindsay Lohan  is all about.  I’m no great fan of people who are famous for being famous, but at least Kim Kardashian has a sex tape to her name.  Wasn’t THE PARENT TRAP that last movie Lindsay Lohan was in?  I mean really people, is there no one else on the planet we can obsess over?

2. Write. Emails, letters, journals, your life story. Surely you have something to say to someone you’ve been meaning to get in touch with for awhile.  Something you want to get off your chest.  A list of things you plan to do when you are mobile again.   Some insight into why you are laid up in the first place.  My friend, Sylvia, wrote me an email not long ago and asked me to think about why I broke my ankle in the first place since she  believes I broke it for a reason.  I think Sylvia has too much free time on her hands.  And two perfectly good ankles, so who is she to judge?   Who in the hell thinks to themselves, even on a subliminal level,  ” I’m gonna fall down in the backyard and break my ankle, because gosh, won’t THAT be fun?” So the hell with Sylvia.  What was I talking about again?

3. Start a new blog.  I think I have about seven or eight blogs right now.  I write them in my head all the time. Which is why this category is different from the one labelled “write”.  This activity involves thinking about writing.  Not actually writing.  You’d be surprised by how much time thinking about something you never actually do fills a lot of time.  I think about cleaning the bathroom a lot.   So use the bathroom at your house before you come to visit.  You will thank me later.

4. Subscribe to Hulu plus and netflix.  For about $15.00 a month you can watch all those foreign language films you always wanted to watch when you were 20 and you thought being sophisticated meant wearing a beret and smoking clove cigarettes.  Hulu Plus has the Criterion Collection, which means you can alternate viewings of  French classics like The Rules of the Game and  Jules and Jim with America’s Next Top Model (college edition) and Dancing with the Stars. And because Hulu has a popular clips function, you don’t need to wade your way through dozens of commercials and Bruno Tonioli’s impersonation of Chef Boyardee as a gay vaudeville performer, you can actually cut right to the dances themselves.

5. Word puzzles.  I don’t even know what sudoku is.  I just make up my own games from the puzzles in the books. And categories to fit.

6. Knit, or crochet.  I crocheted a scarf to wear to New York last year for the Macy’s Parade.  I wore it to watch the balloons being blown up at the Natural History Museum the night before the parade.  I was a balloon handler on the Spiderman balloon last year.  I was going to be a balloon handler again this year.  But then I decided to cut across the lawn and broke my ankle so I can’t be a balloon handler this year.  Which really sucks.  So does this category. Because who needs some stupid scarf wrapped around their neck when they are laying in bed watching the parade on TV instead of being in it?

7. Hunt craigslist.com, searchtempest.com and ebay.com for things you would never buy and can’t afford.  You can find weird craigslist postings in the best of craigslist link, Birkin bags on ebay worth more than your entire household income combined, or every vintage Airstream trailer available for purchase anywhere in the entire country.  You can hunt for things you already own to find out what they are worth, things you have always wanted  to buy if money were no object, or stuff you want to buy but don’t really need.  Franciscan Starburst dishes are my new passion.  I have a complete 12 place setting I will never use, because using  it would diminish their value.  Every day I look for off the beaten path pieces to add to my collection even though I haven’t worked since I broke my ankle, and have no idea how I will pay my bills or keep from losing my house.  I want to know where these pieces are, how much they are selling for, and who I know that lives in the city where they were being advertised in case I manage to justify buying them. You’d be surprised at how much time this actually fills.  I always am.

8. Facebook.  My friend, Daniel, told me he went on facebook to find people he went to school with for the sole purpose of finding out who got fat and who was on their fourth marriage to feel better about himself and where he is at in his life.   So I started looking up old boyfriends, old girlfriends, people I worked with, people I met in passing, people I’ve sold artwork to over the years.  Turns out, most of the people from my past are wildly successful captains of industry, with hugely successful marriages, and incredibly successful art careers who travel the world by private jet, yachts, or in the back of a limousine. I hate Daniel and his stupid ideas.  So I unfriended him.

9.  Coloring books and crayons.  Lets face it, just because you are an adult doesn’t mean the kid in you is gone.  I used to love to color when I was sick, and I still do.  My friend Sara Nichols gave me a Care Bears coloring book with a brand new box of crayola crayons when I broke my ankle.  I asked her to take a picture of me with my coloring book, wearing the tiara she also gave me, because even though I am 53, if I am going to be laid up in bed then damn it, I’m gonna milk it for all its worth.

10. Enter contests.  All kinds of contests.  So far I have entered two writing contests, a handful of travel contests, the Publishers Clearing House contest, and some contests for things I didn’t even read the rules for and know nothing about, because what the hell?  I could win, something, right?  People who make their living winning contests say the secret to winning all those contests is to make it your job to enter contests.  I never had time to enter contests before because I was too busy having a life, so if I can win a years supply of tampons (which would just be my luck since I hit menopause two years ago and the last thing I need now is a years supply of feminine hygiene products) or an all expense paid trip to Pacoima (look it up) then why the hell not?

Maybe being laid up in bed with a broken ankle isn’t so bad after all.  Because by the time this is all said and done, I could wind up with a New York Times best selling novel about a wildly talented handbag designer laid up in bed from a broken ankle she suffered sneaking into the giant balloon warehouse after cracking the code to a sudoku puzzle with clues leading to a seedy hotel room in the Tenderloin district where Lindsay Lohan and Kim Kardashian were making a sex tape with Mitt Romney.