Monday, August 29, 2011

Outside Myself

(now with 100% more pictures)

Seeing your life through someone else’s eyes can be illuminating or depressing. When I look at the changes in my life over the last several years critically (because when aren’t I critical), I see someone who went from employed, living in a 3-bedroom house with the husband presumptive to unemployed, flying solo in a small 1-bedroom apartment. It doesn’t feel like a momentous transition into a delightful new world. It might seem like spectacular failure.

Enter my mother.

She came to visit. She loved it here. She marveled at everything and thinks my life is exciting and full of possibility. And the one thing she said over and over again (other than “it’s so clean here”) was “there is so much to do here all the time.”

She might not be wrong. OK, not about my life (I’m allergic to exciting); however, Los Angeles can be a fascinating place if you let it be. So this past weekend, I decided to let Los Angeles dazzle me—and it had nothing to do with celebrities.

Stop #1: The Annenberg Space for Photography: Beauty Culture Exhibit

I had stopped at Annenberg with friends last week, but I missed the beginning of the Beauty Culture exhibit companion film by Lauren Greenfield. I was intrigued enough to go back. It’s a very frank film about the beauty mega-industry and how that has impacted us all. Now I’m inspired to work on my own “beauty” project. If you live in Los Angeles and know me in real life, you should just assume I will beg you to be part of it. I can be relentless. Give in now.

Total cost to attend exhibit and film: $0
Parking: free elsewhere, but they also have validation for site parking

Stop #2: The Getty: Saturdays Off the 405

The Getty modern is a place I’m growing to love more every time I visit. When I went with my mom, we did the gardens tour: beautiful views, interesting information on how it was designed and entirely free—what could be better? Saturdays Off the 405 is a concert series that allows attendees to groove to tunes and take in the breathtaking sunset at the same time. On Saturday evening, I cruised up to the Getty to hear Charles Bradley & the Menahan Street Band (if you are into R&B/Soul head to iTunes).

While the band was a great new find for me, what I marveled at was the cross-section of Los Angeles that turned out for the concert. From the heavily pierced to the conservative Beverly Hills types, everyone was there—all colors, ages, shapes and sizes. Some were right up by the band (and wine/beer) in the museum courtyard, while others lounged by fountains or the lawns. I felt like I had discovered a new world. At last I know where Los Angeles goes on Saturday nights. Forget the clubs—the Getty Museum is the place to be!

Total cost to attend the concert: $0
Parking: Free at the Getty after 5:00pm

Stop #3: LACMA: Sundays Live (

“Sundays Live” is a weekly classical chamber music concert at the Bing Theater of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (it’s broadcast and you can pick it up on podcast). The program is “the longest-running live music broadcast in Los Angeles,” according to their website. It started in 1948. Despite that, and all the years I’ve lived here, Sunday night was my very first visit. I blame Breaking Bad for my normal reluctance to leave on a Sunday evening. That and the dread of going to a job the next day for many years pretty much shut my exploratory ways down on any given Sunday. And… sometimes football.


This concert featured Daniel Rothmuller (cello) and Bernadene Blaha (piano) performing Chopin: Sonata, Opus 65 and Brahms: Sonata in E minor, Opus 38. The music was sublime, as you would expect it to be as part of a long-running, well-regarded program. I listened to the first half within the theater and the second outside in the courtyard (what can I say, there is something dreamy and romantic about having the music swell around me as the breezes and fountains flow).

Here’s another thing that might surprise you: the event was packed. I now know where the people of Los Angeles go on Sunday nights. I certainly know where I’m going to be.

Total cost to attend the concert: $0
Parking: At the museum it is $10, but street parking is free

People, if you live in Los Angeles, don’t wait to see it until you play tour guide (or prepare to leave). It’s an amazing place and often the fabulousness can be had for free.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Gift Ideas

As we get closer to major gift giving holidays like Labor Day and Columbus Day, you may be stumped as to what to get me as a gift. Allow me to point you in the right direction:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Love Life in Brief

Kate: You never know-- my Prince Charming could be at the concert tomorrow at the Getty.

Pen: Yeah, but you won't talk to him.

Kate: I can't argue with that.

fade to black.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Now What?

And I’m back. Since we last chatted, I volunteered at an event and played tourist with my mother—both good things.

But now, here I sit. Mom has gone home. The next volunteer task is well in hand. My laundry is done. My dishes are clean.

Now what?

This is the first time since I quit 4 (?!) months ago that I haven’t had something all-consuming looming. I could do anything (finances being somewhat of an issue, of course). I should be writing. I should be pitching. I should be trying to get an agent or take meetings. Instead I am living proof of the idea that if you can make every choice in the world, you make no choice at all.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I chose to come to this restaurant for lunch with the intent of writing, but find myself trying not to check out the male television star seated across from me. I suppose that is progress—at least I’ve stopped obsessively watching The Weather Channel.

When I quit in April, I’m not sure I planned for this phase of inactivity and lack of direction. I always thought of myself as being driven, as a workaholic. Yet what I have discovered so far is that I could do absolutely nothing for the next eight months and not care—heck, I’m not sure the passage of time itself would really register.

There is a reality star sitting to the right of me. I have no idea what her name is, but I am vaguely annoyed that I recognize her at all. I could hope I recognize her because she’s accomplished something. I have a sinking feeling it’s from a headline involving a sex tape or scandal-ridden divorce. Still she seems motivated and goal-oriented. She will not be dodging the gaggle of paps stationed in the parking lot.

The people behind me either know Kathie Lee or spend a lot of time concerned with what she thinks. But they are driven, planners of morning television, and they have real purpose. Though, I’m not sure I would have observed them at all had it not been for the one woman who sounds exactly like a lawyer at my old firm (it’s a voice I still hear in my nightmares).

I keep seeing people approach the TV star. They know him vaguely. They want to know him better. The current visitor has a project—and he has made his move. I think it’s going to happen for him. He’s dropping the right names, saying the right things.

I marvel at him. I could have a screenplay dubbed “the next Oscar sure thing,” and I would never make that move. I shudder at the idea of it. I don’t want to be rude. I don’t want to seem aggressive. Actually pursuing something for me is rarely conceivable—and frankly, every time I’ve even tried, I’ve been slapped by fate for it.

Visitor has left now. They have a meeting set. Mission, at least partially, accomplished by the assertive guy in khaki shorts. Well done, sir.

The TV star just yelled out jokingly, “give me a good story—we need good stories.”

Naturally, I continue to sit here quietly hoping someone will notice me.

Shockingly, they never do.