Archives for the month of: May, 2014

When I began my most recent job almost three weeks ago, I had every good intention to blog regularly. As usual. But, as you can see, that hasn’t happened.

It’s been almost a year since my last movie wrapped and, like how I imagine childbirth to be, you really do forget how crazy it gets. Because of the 15-16 hour long work days followed by long drives home and piles of laundry and mail waiting on weekends, all else tends to take a backseat. Hence the year long break I recently took!

But, here I am, out on the road again. This time with a father, a daughter, some bad guys, and some bikers; on a tour of every remote, desolate, strange town or highway within a 59 mile radius of Albuquerque.

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Quantum Physics, Japanese Culture, and nuclear power are three of the topics that keep popping up in my life lately. Strange! But, also fascinating as I think it’s a good sign whenever similar themes appear repeatedly.

I recently read the books “A Tale For The Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki and “The Woman at Otowi Crossing,” by Frank Waters. And then, for Mother’s Day, my mom wanted to go see the original Godzilla, from 1954.

But, let me back up.

Knowing nothing about it, I bought “A Tale For The Time Being” because I liked its cover. And, as I was reading it, I began working part time on the WGN TV show “Manhattan,” which is based on the Manhattan Project. The book tells the story of two women, Ruth in the Pacific Northwest and Nao in Japan, whose lives are intertwined when Ruth finds Nao’s diary washed up on the beach, sometime after the 2011 Tsunami and nuclear disaster that followed. Without giving too much away, it broaches topics from Buddhism to Quantum Physics and shows how truly interconnected time and lives can be.

While working on “Manhattan,” I became fascinated with this top secret project, which took place in my backyard, literally changing the world forever. Los Alamos is a strange place and one that I’ve taken for granted for most of my life here. Situated less than an hour from both Santa Fe and Albuquerque, it is still home to Los Alamos National Labs, for which it became famous after developing the atomic bomb, used in Japan, to end WWII. As a child I knew it only for its outdoor ice rink, which was always a fun winter field trip. It is a town of gated entrances, official looking blue signs, and the highest per capita income in the country. It was only after watching actors portray scientists and hearing scripted lines spoken, that I realized I wanted to know more about this part of my state and its history.

Frank Waters novel, “The Woman At Otowi Crossing,” is “based on the real life of Edith Warner, who ran a tea room at Otowi Crossing, just below Los Alamos…” Like Ozeki’s book, it also deals with the interconnectedness of cultures and time.

As I was finishing Waters’ novel, Mother’s Day was approaching and I asked my mom what she would like to do. “Go see the original Godzilla in the theater,” she replied. The author George R.R. Martin, a local Santa Fean, recently bought and reopened the local art house cinema and Godzilla was that weekend’s treat. Having never seen it, I went in with all kinds of preconceived notions; B movie, monster movie, bad special effects, etc. I really knew nothing about it. Made in 1954, less than a decade after the bombs fell on Japan, it tells the story of a nuclear monster from the sea, terrorizing the Japanese public. Nothing will kill it. But, when a scientist comes up with a terrible solution, one that will stop Godzilla but could end life as we know it, the movie asks the question “when does the end justify the means and at what point are the means too horrible to justify?”

I was shocked by how great of a movie it was and was surprised by the questions it posed. It fit right into my theme.

I am now reading “American Prometheus- The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer” by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. I’m not sure why I’m being drawn to these topics, but for whatever reason I am.

Next up: Quantum Physics For Dummies!

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Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park

I am sitting in the airport, early for my flight home, drinking California red, and high from the loveliness of my long weekend in Sonoma County and San Francisco.

Arriving at SFO on Friday, I was able to swing through San Rafael to meet the beautiful and hilarious 5 month old daughter of a dear old friend, before heading north, into the vineyards and redwoods of Sonoma County. It was the perfect kickoff to a weekend full of babies, scones, and choosing to take the scenic route.

Saturday morning I awoke to birds chirping, in a cabin outside of Occidental. It smelled like camping. Waking to a greeting from my friends’ 15 month old daughter, coffee and scones in the garden at Wildflour bakery were next on the agenda. It was a hard choice but, instead of strawberry rhubarb, I went with a blueberry, bacon, maple, cornmeal scone. It was an excellent decision.

Later that day, after borrowing a paper map from my friend’s father, I made my way north, sans cell reception and therefore GPS, to Healdsburg. Stopping at Shed, where a dear friend works, I bought a sort of fabulous Korean vegetable scrubber and various exotic chocolates to give as gifts.

Curving through the Russian River Valley, past vineyards and picture perfect pastures of grazing cows, and finally ending up at a BBQ in Cloverdale, it was a near perfect Saturday.

Sunday brought more of the same, but with a gorgeous home, baby shower, and fantastic feast of homemade mole, tortillas, and rosè from the surrounding vineyards to boot.

On Monday morning it was time to head back to the city and then home. After a hearty breakfast of biscuits and eggs in Occidental, I headed south on the 101, finally crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, one of my favorite things in the world. The beauty with which those two rust red spires shoot out of the fog, never ceases to take my breath away.

Walking along the coastal trails near Cliff House, the sun was shining, it was 70 degrees, and a breeze blew salty air off the Pacific. I inhaled, hoping to take some fraction back to the desert.

As a last stop before the airport, I parked near the rose garden in Golden Gate Park and walked to the Japanese Tea Garden. Ending my trip with a walk and cup of matcha green tea, I was full of contentment and gratitude. So grateful for good friends, great wine, scenic routes, and weekends that truly renew you.

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I think I’m reverting to my roots. Born a couple of years after my parents moved out of the communal house they were sharing with a few dozen other people, I entered the world just as Carter’s solar panels were about to give way to Reaganomics. There are multiple photos of me playing naked in our back yard garden. When my more conventional grandmother joined me in the sandbox for a tea party, I offered things like bancha tea, mochi, and nori rolls; she didn’t know what I was talking about. I carried my lunch to school in a basket, until I was nine.

Growing up on tofu, brown rice, and kale (way before kale was cool), my sister and I pretended carob was chocolate and went a bit crazy when we got our hands on the real thing. We played with hand made toys, didn’t watch TV until we were almost teenagers, and to this day are pop culturally illiterate when it comes to the entire decade of the 1980’s. Luckily for us, our school supported such weirdness and it was only upon graduating into the larger world that I realized it had been a unique upbringing.

When I moved out and started to create a life of my own, I realized how much extra work my parents’ choices created and I frequently took the easy way instead. I bought prepared food, never baked my own bread, didn’t have a garden, and slowly forgot about all of it. Or, I figured it would magically happen somewhere down the line.

I began working in the film industry shortly after graduating from college and quickly traded all of my free time for the craziness that comes with the industry. Keeping plants alive, not to mention a garden, when working 80 hours a week, was difficult to say the least. I ate three meals a day from the caterers or craft service and, though not wanting to complain about being served what for many is a feast, every single day, it was heavy comfort food, designed to keep the crew’s moral up, not to be healthy. There were days I’d give anything for brown rice, tofu, and kale.

Over the past year, several of my friends and family members have had babies and several others have been diagnosed with cancer. These are only connected in that they both made me stop and think about how I’m living my life and what my priorities are. I realized that the garden and bread baking weren’t going to just happen and that my own health was beginning to suffer from lack of sleep, stress, and poor diet. And, so, over the past year, I have taken a whole bunch of time off to begin to remember how I used to live.

In one of my recent spring cleaning blitzes, I took all of the household cleaners, that had ingredients I couldn’t pronounce, to the household chemical recycling facility. I was left with vinegar, baking soda, Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap, and a multi purpose cleaner from Seventh Generation that seemed a waste to get rid of, though I’m sure vinegar and baking soda would do the trick.

I planted my 8’x2′ raised bed garden with kale, lettuce, carrots, and beets and am waiting until it’s a little warmer to add the tomatoes and herbs.

By working only part time (still 40 hours a week!) on a few TV shows, rather than on long movies, I’ve had time to read, work in the yard, and try to get my health back to where it should be. Because I’m not completely sleep deprived and stressed out for months on end, my cravings for sugar and caffeine have gone way down. To build my adrenals back up, I drink water with lemon throughout the day and put apple cider vinegar on my veggies to aid in digestion.

I laugh to think that I’m reverting to my hippy past, but really all I’m doing is following knowledge that was common sense until only very recently. My grandparents would never have thought of themselves as hippies, yet they understood how to make things from scratch, grow food in the ground, fix things that broke, and to make do with a fraction of what is now considered normal. And I see the contentment that comes from being capable and in touch with ones environment, rather than dependent on corporate ideas of what you need or should want.

As I think about our environment, read news about the increasingly imbalanced climate, hear about the industrial food machine, and think about all of the babies I know who have just been or are about to be born, I want to revert to my hippy roots. I want to do anything I can to make the world, and myself, healthier and happier.

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