Gratitude

Wowza!

Friends, it’s been a while!! WordPress didn’t recognize me just now when I tried to sign in, but, here I am!

How was your 2021?! Where to begin…?

One year ago feels like a million years ago. Pre vaccine, pre Biden, pre schools re-opening, pre end of tunnel light anywhere to be seen, pre January 6th, pre California spring break road trip, pre unexpected job in Europe, pre Delta/Omicron, pre film industry turmoil, pre realization that we were well into a new normal from which there would be no escape. My expectations for 2021 were low. Travel wasn’t on my radar, work barely was, just getting though seemed like a good goal. And then, on New Years Day, we took our dog for walk and I found a $1 bill on the ground. This changes everything, I thought. 2021 is gonna rock.

And it mostly did. It was a hard year in ways I didn’t expect and a fun year in so many other ways I never saw coming. Bold was the word I wrote down and, though I didn’t remember that until recently, it was a year of saying yes, going for the adventure, and deciding that it was more fun to get on the ride than to sit, watch, and worry.

I’ve spent the past week mulling words over in my mind. What do I want in 2022? I knew the vibe but couldn’t think of the word that would bring it all together- kindness, optimism, adventure, presence, faith, simplicity, trust, grace. I want to see the beauty in the chaos that I am pretty sure is here to stay. I want to answer the question “What if?” with what if it’s way better than I can imagine? I want to lean into the adventure and the butterflies in my stomach with excitement rather than anxiety; two sides of the same coin. I want to give the person having a meltdown in front of me in the checkout line the benefit of a doubt and react with kindness and compassion, or at least not disdain. I want to tune out of the news and take the media with a gigantic grain of salt, realizing it is their job to create anxiety and that it is my job to turn them off. I want to ask for guidance from above and be brave enough to follow it, even when I have no idea where it’s leading. I want to be content with all that I have and to be joyful.

Gratitude.

That’s my word for 2022.

Wishing you and yours a very happy and healthy New Year!!!!

December

Cranes

It’s too warm for December 1st, but also gorgeous out. 65 degrees every darn day. Hard to complain and yet I do.

Heading South

The cranes flew so closely over our heads, I could see their under feathers illuminated by the setting sun. I wore just a sweater, no need for coats this year; good for working outdoors, Covid patio dining, and sunset walks.

Downstream

My dad has binoculars stowed under the pallet we use as a seat on the river’s edge. We watch ducks swim by, unaware of us until, in a frenzy, they are. No elk or beaver tonight. But so many cranes.

Homecoming

That Belgrade hotel room feels like a long time ago. One month home. I made it back in time to smell roasting green chile waft from grocery store parking lots, to see hot air balloons fly en masse over my city, and to watch post season baseball; and without contracting covid, losing my bags or mind, and just before a likely nationwide strike affects the entire film industry. Sigh of relief.

Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta

I was unable to relax for my first two weeks home and tore apart my house, closet, and studio in a frenzied desire to get rid of any and all clutter. It felt like I had suddenly woken up from a 15 month Covid induced nap; 10 pounds heavier, with a dusty and cluttered house. Something about getting out into the world had shaken me up and I brought that adrenaline fueled energy home with me.

Two weeks in, I collapsed on the couch in my clean house and finally slept.

There is a simplicity in Europe that I hope to retain from here. Appreciation for small things, meals, and spaces. Trips to the nearby sea and a really good loaf of bread. Since arriving home, the negotiations between my film Union and that of the Producers have not been going well and I think about the quality of life issues involved. My European co-workers were appalled at the hours that we, the Americans, took as normal and expected. They couldn’t believe that those hours were actually desired in order to bank and keep health insurance and pensions and that so many were ok with giving up time with family and friends in exchange for things they deemed basic rights. It also appeared that they were content with smaller cars, apartments, bank accounts, and vacations than those we deem desirable.

Being away made me realize just how American I am. As my first few weeks home showed me, I am not good at relaxing. I strive and scheme and worry about the future, feeling a desire and need to make it and to keep growing. I think as an individual more than a part. I have managed to slow down recently. The adrenaline has worn off and the to do list has shrunk. It is beautiful here. October in New Mexico, crisp and golden and vast. As an impending industry strike looms, I try to pay attention to the collective. How can I assist? How can I live simply for the time being until we know what will happen? How can I make decisions that move in the direction of quality of life rather than striving for bigger and more? These are the questions I brought home from abroad.

Neighborhood Cacti.

Quarantine

I wish I’d brought a swiffer sweeper pad for my floor I think while lying on my hotel room floor stretching my back. Small dust bunnies peer from under the bed, ready to hop out at any moment.

Morning 2 of a 5 day quarantine and I am not sure what to do with myself. I don’t actually have Covid but my coworker tested positive and because I’m considered a close contact, here I am. Being forced to stay in my hotel room for five days actually coincided nicely with a stomach bug I caught two days ago and a swollen knee that’s gone ignored for weeks. Basically, my body is over it and as I should know by now, the body will have its way.

I miss home. Three months away, almost. With three weeks to go. I knew this stretch would be the longest and hardest and I was right. The adventure continues but the novelty has worn off.

Nightly fireworks. Yay.

I lie on the floor with my legs up the wall and stare out the window at an upside down world. It looks nice outside today. Sunny, late summer, early fall.

I try to think of things to do but come up blank. Two books to read. Netflix. Yoga. Playlists. Blogposts.

I take a bite of toast but my stomach still doesn’t want food. Kefir and mint tea seem ok. My knee is stoked. It’s wanted nothing but to left alone for weeks. “Woo hoo” it says as we lie on the floor.

Four hours later-

In addition to a Swiffer sweeper, I should have brought sweatpants. Who doesn’t bring sweatpants on a trip? I imagined I’d be hot the whole trip and wouldn’t need any kind of pant and through August that proved true. But, suddenly it’s fall and I’m stuck in a hotel room and I really just want some sweatpants, among other things. Sigh.

Mildenhall by The Shins. Great song.

Two hours later-

My glue stick is still sticky. I pull out the Serbian magazines I bought at the airport over a month ago and begin to cut them up.

I cut and paste until the stick runs out. Collage has saved me more than once.

Collage

Next morning- Day 3

I wake up, open the curtains, drink a cup of tea, get dressed for the first time and sit down. Well, here I am.

Still Life

Week old flowers, water bottle vase, hotel, Belgrade.

The Taliban is about to reach Kabul. Haiti has just been shaken by another major earthquake. And the Delta variant is ripping across the world, including much of the US.

I wake to these headlines in my hotel room in Belgrade, Serbia, along with news that folk singer Nanci Griffith passed away yesterday at the age of 68.

We left Greece two weeks ago and in just that time wildfires have ripped across Greece and Turkey while Italy recorded a record temperature of 48c. The six weeks we spent there were searingly hot, though I didn’t realize that was as abnormal as it was. An Instagram ad pops up in my feed, selling what looks like an astronaut helmet/mask, said to combat bad, smoky air, or “our new normal”. Outside it is hot in Belgrade today and a nearby trash dump is on fire so an acrid smell wafts through the city. I stay inside, except to go buy toothpaste.

I am ready to go home but still have over a month to go.

I concentrate on my meditations, both to combat homesickness and a sense of helplessness at the state of the world. I don’t know what else to do, nor, it seems, does anyone.

The disconnect of working on a movie in a country with a low COVID case count and the headlines I read daily is disconcerting. I think about one year ago and how unbelievable my current life would have seemed. And then I wonder, what has really changed? Anything? And then I decide to just stop thinking about it.

I look at the beautiful flowers in my room, over one week old and still going strong. I listen to a Nanci Griffith playlist and think about the cross country road trip I took with my family when I was twelve during which we listened to her for much of the way. I bury my head in a book and decide to stop checking the headlines. Maybe there is something to burying your head in the sand. Or just retreating into beauty. It’s still there.

Dream

I can’t shake the idea that I’ve dropped into a parallel universe. Last night I sat in a water taxi as the waning moon peeked through the curtains of the taxi’s window, illuminating the water outside. So very Wes Anderson. Ten minutes later I was back from Spetsis, the island I’d returned to for the afternoon, back on the mainland and driving my little stick shift rental car through the Greek night. Our last weekend in Greece, though really hard to call it a weekend as it was one Sunday night sandwiched between Saturday and Monday night night shoots.

Back home, school will begin in just a couple of weeks. The air will begin to smell like green chile and there may be need for the occasional sweater.

Here it is still blazing hot. It is necessary to get into the sea, not just fun. The only way to cool your core.

Last night I watched the sun set over the Spetsis harbor and thought, here I am now. This is happening. It’s so beautiful. And soon it will all be different, again.

I don’t know how I got here. I mean, I do. But, I don’t. Feels like a dream.

I’ve never been somewhere that I’ve know so deeply I would return to. I haven’t seen any of the ancient ruins I wanted to, no time, nor Athens, nor any of the rest of the country. But the little sliver I’ve had was enough. Already looking forward to more.

Ydra
Spetsis

Next stop, Serbia!

Glue Stick

Never without my travel glue stick

Three weeks in and the adventure continues.

Boats, islands, unrelenting heat, clear blue water, fresh fish, pre dawn alarm clocks, Aperol spritz, communal dinners, face masks, water taxis, temperature checks, international costume departments… how quickly we adapt.

I can’t help but think how totally unbelievable my current reality would have seemed just one year ago. It still does.

I’m hiding from the heat. It’s 6:30 pm and, after a failed attempt to take a ferry to Hydra for the day (we got lost), I am in my room with a glue stick, post cards, and a Greek Elle magazine. Three of my favorite things. Siesta is just ending. The world shuts down from 2-5, sometimes 2-6, but as the sun dips, people slowly emerge to continue their shopping and errands at stores that stay open well into the night. Dinner gets going around 9 or 10, not conducive to alarm clocks set for 1:30 am.

Masks on the arm or around the chin are the new normal, still always worn indoors. The delta variant reminds us of the strange times in which we are working, traveling, and living. I remember thinking COVID would make me braver and I believe it did. More willing to take risks and to commit, because you just never know.

I flip through my journal and begin gluing images from Greek Elle. The New Moon in Aries on April 11th, 2021; I wrote a list of desires that night. Less than three months later most have come true. Wowza. The power of intention.

Dream

I write some post cards, always in awe that mail placed in a small metal box on one side of the world makes it to the other.

Lost In…

It’s not an ocean but a sea, the Greeks keep correcting me. Why do you call it an ocean, they ask? I’m used to oceans, I say, it’s been years since I’ve floated on my back in a sea. The Adriatic is a sea.

The water tastes extra salty as I float on my back, no swimming required. I could do this for hours and just might.

Where am I and how did I get here? One year ago it would have been unimaginable. Planes. Passports. Film sets. Adventure. I can’t kick the feeling that I am in a parallel universe, living two lives, one here and one there. I can’t explain.

After a year of interiors, back yards, isolation, and familiarity, (once the constraints of a pandemic became normal) the exact opposite presents itself out of the blue. A job in Greece and Serbia? After a year of fearing I would never go anywhere ever again? This is a shocking possibility.

It is hot. The sea is blue and the farther out you go, the cooler it gets. I will likely only swim on weekends. During the week my days are filled with all the basics of being a costumer; laundry, strange schedules, working in the heat, personalities. But, on the weekends, I can be in Greece. For now.

Presence and flexibility, my new mantras. The costume department alone has people from four countries, working under four different contracts, in it. I tape a phonetic cheat sheet into my notebook. Efcharistò. Thank you. Little things I didn’t realize weren’t universal are quickly shown not to be. A three hole punch and binder? Nope. They have two here. I have yet to decipher a single symbol on the washing machine, still in search of the quickest cycle. It’s humid and clothes take forever to dry, unlike the desert.

An adventure I didn’t see coming until it was upon me. I take none of it for granted and try to appreciate every small, weird, sometimes inconvenient part, grateful for it and also for my life back home to which I will return before too long.

42

Anther spin around the sun and this one feels really different. 42. I keep forgetting the number and have to to do the math. 1979. Yup, 42. Last year was all quarantine and zoom and lockdown and 2020 and this one feels anything but. It feels hopeful! Trees in bloom, vaccinations are actually happening, schools are set to re-open next week for the first time in a year, and it suddenly feels like it’s all going to be ok. I kept telling myself it would be, but it like really might be ok! It might actually be great.

Tina. Icon. Role Model Extraordinaire. Frida. Ditto.

The shock of 2020 and all that it held is slowly wearing off. So many lessons. I’ve pulled back from the news and social media and really haven’t missed either very much. I assume they will reappear here and there, but, we’ll see. After a year that seemed to pride itself on keeping me/us on my/our toes and bringing every problem, imbalance, and injustice we’d ever buried or ignored to the surface, the last couple of months have felt strangely calm, balanced, and mundane, in the best of ways. Time to actually process and deal with everything that came up, rather than continuously being hit over the head with something new.

What I did not anticipate was that as the whole world was faced with one epic problem after another, my personal anxiety actually dissipated. Suddenly it became clear that no one knew what was going on and I stopped trying to be the one to figure it all out. My life became more present and I stopped living in my head as much. Hence, I think, less frequent blog posts too. Not that I don’t want to write, I just haven’t had as much swirling around that needs to get out!

And, when I might otherwise be writing, I now find myself in thrift stores, scavenging for the next amazing item to list on my vintage clothing site (http://knockaboutvintage.etsy.com). As a child, I’d spend hours sitting at the table , drawing “fashion books”. I’d make my friends draw them too when they came over to play. For hours and hours. Do what you love, people told me, the rest will follow. They were right! People love and buy the stuff I sell! I have no one to answer to and only need trust my eye. Instead of drawing fashion books, I now spend my time photographing, styling, and listing clothes and it’s fun! Though it started in 2019, quarantine and lockdown gave me the time to get and keep my shop going and now, with each month, I become a little clearer on my vision and where I see it all going… Stay tuned!

Along with this renewed drive and creativity, 2020 left me with gratitude for the mundane. I worked on a TV show last month for the first time in a year and was grateful for a job I once took for granted and complained about. I spent today digging in the dirt, planting plants I was given in response to “what do you want for your birthday?” It’s sunny and beautiful out and once again warm enough to eat outdoors. The birds are fighting over seed in my bird feeder.

And two nights ago I stumbled upon the new HBO documentary Tina about Tina Turner. Wowza!!! I’ve always liked her music but I really didn’t get how fierce, gorgeous, and iconic she was until I saw this movie. Just the role model I need for the last 55-60% of my life. Courage personified.

In the end, I emerged from 2020, and I enter 42, less afraid. Of everything. The world is total chaos. People are nuts, but mostly good. The planet will flick us off like a mosquito whenever it chooses. Nothing is certain. The ability to pivot might save you. Flexibility. Creativity. Generosity. I can’t wait to go dancing, travel, and go to a concert. Never again will I take a hug for granted. And my mantra moving forward?

What Would Tina Do?

Resurrection

Happy Easter, to those who celebrate!

Easter will forever remind me of my Gramma Clarke. Holy Thursday dinner in her Church basement. Hot cross buns on Good Friday. Church on Easter and the smell of incense and lilies. Dyeing and hunting eggs. Brunch after Church, all packed into her small art studio turned dining room or outside, if it happened to be warm that year in Denver. Cousins.

Resurrection.

My grandmother passed away on April 5th, 2005, and her absence still makes my heart hurt. Every once in a while I dream of her house and don’t want to wake up. I bought my house three months later and now my lilac blooms every year right around April 5th.

Three years ago when I was working on Big Little Lies in Monterrey, CA, I walked into one of the beach condos we were using as a changing area for the actors and stopped on my tracks. It smelled just like Gramma’s basement. Visceral memories washed over me with that smell. Musky mildew, but in the best way. I stood in that condo for as long as I could, soaking it in.

I always loved drawing in her studio. Trained as an illustrator at Parsons School of Design in the early 1950’s, my gramma was a truly great artist; sketcher, watercolorist, muralist, and draftswoman. I would usually just doodle or maybe draw my fashion books. Or, I’d sit on her spinning stool and look at all of the family photos hanging on the wall. I now have the bookcases from that studio in my studio.

Yesterday I poured small packets of dye into containers of boiling water and added a little vinegar. I got out my Ukrainian wax tools and beeswax and began to decorate eggs. This tradition began after my gramma had passed, sometime in my 20’s, with my mom and sister. Until yesterday, I hadn’t done it in years. But, anytime I find myself drawing, making, or creating, I think of Gramma Clarke and always will.

Blank Eggs

Dyed Eggs