. . .1,000 colorful, ethereal words! Another friend that I am proud of/grateful for this week (and always) is Jennifer J. L. Jones. She is a wildly talented painter and has just published a book of her paintings entitled Serenata. She is the only artist I know who lives off art alone. In other words, she has no day job. One of my hopes is to be able to afford her paintings!
Archive for November, 2011
I spent my holiday weekend being thankful for two things 1. The unseasonably gorgeous weather and 2. The people I know. I feel fortunate to have genuine, kind, creative, and loyal people in my life–friends and family alike. I’ll try to sing some of their praises this week. I’ll start with my friend Dave, who will host a TV show on the Sundance Channel beginning on December 5th.
Just about 10 years ago, Dave launched a project called Mortified. Mortified is many things. It started as a stage show, it’s also a book (two books), and a series of youtube videos. Mortified is a celebration of the awkward letters, journal entries, photos, and other ephemera we amass during our adolescent years. Here’s how the website explains:
“The project began in the late 1990s when founder Dave Nadelberg unearthed a notably awkward love letter and began sharing with friends. Formalizing as Mortified in 2002 with co-producer Neil Katcher, the project has since sifted through thousands of volumes of otherwise forgotten notebooks, photos, and envelopes in an effort crack the lid off our cultural shoebox and expose our inner geek. Participants include a wide range of people, from professional performers (comics, celebrities, singers) to total amateurs (architects, ad execs, salesmen) all in the noble pursuit of personal redemption through public humiliation.”
The next chapter for Mortified is a show on the Sundance Channel called The Mortified Sessions, in which Dave interviews celebrities about their awkward days growing up. He told me about the show earlier this year, and I’m impressed that it has come together so quickly. The big premiere is only a week from today. Congratulations my friend!
I happened upon an article in the Times last week called As Graduates Move Back Home, Economy Feels Pain. The article explains that college kids moving home after school hurts the economy because they aren’t paying rent and shopping for apartment utilities. I fully understand needing to move home if you don’t have a job, but the article profiles a guy who makes $45,000 after taxes who moved home to save money. He’s wants to buy a house. This boggled my mind. I made less than $45k before taxes when I lived in New York City and wouldn’t have lived with my parents for anything (not that I don’t love them . . .).
While there’s nothing technically wrong with living at home to save money, something about this made me uneasy, and I couldn’t figure out what it was. Until I read the comments. Below is the second comment on the article left by a woman named Joan Sarasota. It’s energizing and hits the nail on the head. Living in squalor builds character.
“I understand the unemployed returning home but I think those earning $45,000 after taxes are missing a great part of life: first jobs, first tiny, shared and/or walk ups, living w/o Mom doing the laundry, staying out all night, finding great places, music, people, good dates, bad dates, long talks, staying out all weekend, staying in all weekend, taking a job at a magazine, a start up, an art gallery, Teach America, jobs that might have no future, jobs that might change their lives;living on their own, growing up. After 2 years in the Peace Corps, I moved to NYC as it was everything my wonderful village wasn’t. I found a job I’d never do again, lived in tiny studio apt, meet so many people, went to Met, lectures; I lived! And it was not the first step to a lost life. I went on to work as Deputy Director of an International NGO, a job I never would have had access to w/o living in NYC and later DC and then had a 25 year career as a US Diplomat. So kids, don’t get locked into the idea that you need to start your adult life w your parent’s housing level and all mod cons. We live long lives; don’t be in such a hurry to get into a rut. Parents: stop hovering. Cockroaches don’t kill.”
Way back in early 2008 I wrote a blog called “The Grass is Rarely (Almost Never) Greener”. It was one of my favorite pieces but was passed over by The Huffington Post–meaning they did not feature it on the front page of the Living section as they’ve done with some of my other blogs. It also didn’t gather any comments. I was disappointed but knew it wasn’t worth dwelling on.
Out of the blue last week I received an e-mail from a publisher in the UK asking if they can include a quote from that very blog in a book. How random and wonderful. I suppose they could cast the quote in a negative light, but based on the title/topic of the book I don’t think they’re going to. The lesson is: You never know! If you have an idea you want to share, share it. Put it out there and keep it out there. You never know who or when someone might want to quote you. Here’s the message and the quote:
We intend to republish the following quote by Samara O’Shea. The quote will appear in a book entitled The Man Diet, a topical self help title that focuses on relationships and feminism.
“The peanut gallery tends to assume single people are always looking for a significant other, and many of them are — so it’s a reasonable assumption. This assumption, however, is based on the fact that life is better when you’re in a relationship. The birds sing more often. The sky is bluer, and you don’t have to deal with pesky emotions such as loneliness and dejection. My keen eyes can confirm that this is, in fact, not true. Every depressing sensation you can feel as a single person — misunderstood, isolated, and sad — you can certainly feel while in a relationship. And the elations you feel in a relationship — satisfied, triumphant, and ecstatic — you can feel while being single.”
I first learned of Diana Athill last year when a friend sent me this article: In Life’s Latest Chapter, Feeling Free Again. Diana had a remarkable career as an editor—helping the British publisher André Deutsch establish his publishing company in the early 1950s. She has edited the works of Margret Atwood, Jean Rhys, John Updike, and Simone de Beauvoir.
When Diana retired at the age of 75, she went on to write three successful memoirs (a nice reminder that it’s never too late). She had dabbled in memoir writing a bit in her younger years, but not to the same success as her later ones. Her first book called Instead of a Letter (1963) is about her fiancé who left her for another woman during World War II and then died in combat, so she was never able to confront him. But it was her post-retirement book Somewhere Towards the End (2008) about aging that was a critical and commercial success—winning the National Book Critics Circle award.
At the age of 91, Diana is not done. The Telegraph reports that she is publishing a collection of “letters written between 1981 and 2007 to the American poet Edward Field, to whom Athill was first introduced through their mutual friendship with the eccentric American author Alfred Chester, whom she published in the Fifties and Sixties.” The collection is cleverly called Instead of a Book.
I have read Diana’s first book (from 1963), and I’m excited to get my hands on this new one. As The Telegraph notes, “Letters, of course, provide a completely different form of self-revelation from memoirs. Gossipy, amusing, confiding, Athill writes about friends and family, her tribulations with decorators and newfangled technology; her unabashed delight in the late flowering of her literary career – ‘What could be more enjoyable than an appreciative audience!’”
“There are cycle of success, when things come to you and thrive, and cycles of failure, when they wither and disintegrate, and you have to let them go in order to make room for new things to arise or for transformation to happen.
If you cling and resist at this point, it means you are refusing to go with the flow of life, and you will suffer. Dissolution is needed for new growth to happen. One cycle cannot exist without the other.
The down cycle is absolutely essential for spiritual realization. You must have failed deeply on some level or experienced some deep pain or loss to be drawn to the spiritual dimension. Or perhaps your very success became empty and meaningless and so turned out to be failure.
Failure lies concealed in every success, and success in every failure. In this world . . . everybody ‘fails’ sooner or later and every achievement eventually comes to naught. All forms are impermanent.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, Practicing the Power of Now