so the spring skies open up, and what better to do…than take your MENAGERIE out for coffee?
i picture that Dr. Dolittle is just offscreen, and his favorite companian Polynesia the parrot is entertaining the other patrons…while Gub-Gub the pig takes a siesta underneath the table.
if this wasn't in this suburbs…i'd expect Dr. Doolittle to slide by on his giant snail, pick up his travelers and be on his way with a latte in his hand.
this is Julie.
she happens to be wearing an amazing pair of perfectly fitted vintage pants…and she is 6' tall, wearing them so elegantly.
she was sauntering very gracefully along in said amazing pants – until i stopped her, of course.
look at the clever hem on the "cuff!" it’s pinched, like sewing trickery that fools the eye.
like trompe l’ oeil, but on a pair of pants.
sometimes i just write letters to people…to be bold.
i happened upon a girl named Becca, sitting outside with her mint colored Hermes 3000 vintage typewriter…rhythmically pecking away to her heart's content, outside at a Starbucks.
she collects vintage typewriters, and likes to just write letters and such; to harken back to more genuine, tangible times. ironically, she showed me a photo of a few of her vintage typewriter collection…on her iphone, whose screen was cracked to smithereens.
but never mind, she still had her modus operandi of communication.
she was charming, as was her "QWERTY keyboard."
running past a TV in a hallway and i do a cartoon-put-on-the-screeching-brakes-move. my ultimate TV crush, Anthony Bourdain. i found it fascinating that they were scanning his thoughts on his experience in Libya, since a recent episode of Parts Unknown has been filmed there. i admire that he's not only a food connoisseur – but has become almost an anthropological ambassador, of sorts – potty mouth and all. i love his writing style; i love his sarcasm; and i admire that he can uncover and say the thoughts that most people stuff… and delivers his thoughts with a kind of thoughtful swagger (if that's such a thing). and i really admire his self deprecating honesty. and… i'm just gonna say it – i love his expletives. i do, yes i do! f**k yes, i do.
the interviewer closed with an observation and envious compliment that seemed to take Bourdain off guard; something very telling. he said "you seem to have something that none of the rest of us do…" (Anthony Bourdain looks puzzled, bemused, and shrugs "?")
he then continues:
"you don't seem to have to look for things to happen…it all seems to find YOU."
and for a happenstancer such as myself, that's pretty much hero material right there.
i like his style.
ok, let's have a little fireside chit chat. (ok, there's no fireplace, but can you at least pretend?)
in the spirit of happenstancing…today is the best day to illustrate the most extreme example of why i'm preternaturally wired for this stuff.
today is my birthday, and really, i came into this path of life through an episode of happenstancing. well, i mean, we all do; but i'm adopted (no, please don't grill me on the details!) but let's suffice to say that apparently i could have had 3 completely different lives, and as a result of happenstancing, i got an amazing set of parents & sister – and the life i was supposed to end up with – not the other 2 options. and…i was accidental.
the art of the accidental.
my parents weren't the next in line to "get me." and so when circumstances changed on a dime…there i was, making a grand entrance with nothing but the clothes on my back. quick! everyone scramble to get stuff! – there's a baby showing up on the scene!
some people hate their birthdays – but i don't! wanna know why? because:
a) i'm glad that i got got to be born at all, and have a nice life. i could just not exist right now.
b) the age/number thing really is irrelevant; because it mostly depends how you feel in your head.
c) i feel like i've done some cool things so far; and hopefully more to come. much more, in fact.
kind of feel like a cat who's had 9 lives already.
i've been an equestrian, ran off to NYC as a naive 21 year old, made a lot of art, collected interesting people, learned a lot of lessons the hard way, partied with celebrities, flew to Venezuela to visit a sailor i barely knew, had a lot of love come and go, met an australian in a bar on Park Avenue, married him and went off to live on the other side of the world, had a great daughter, unmarried the australian, moved to some interesting cities, brought my career out of the ashes, and finally found love again.
there's more, but you get the idea.
so the moral of the story is…sit back, have a latte, or a cocktail or whatever, and think about what your #happenstancing is.
recently my oh-so-thoughtful boyfriend gave me a 5 pass yoga gift…to try it out. i had never done yoga before; i can't even touch my toes, and everyone can use a little stress relief sometimes. so i went to 2 classes and survived; but it was hard! and i realized i had no earthly idea what all the terminology was, and what the names of the poses even meant.
so the opportunity popped up randomly elsewhere to do a 45 minute "Yoga 101," and i seized it.
i figured i might as well learn the vocabulary if i'm going to try & tackle this.
the instructor was a very lithe, limber (and kind of tall) asian woman – and as i was fangirling at her perfect body (and wishing very hard that it was mine)…she pulled up her foot with a strap and i was aghast. her feet were GNARLY. almost like the abused feet of women in the 1940's from wearing very, very pinched and pointy heels -as if their toes were held prisoners and left with giant bunions. and the toes suddenly left the expedition and followed the needle in a different direction on the compass. i've seen it before on my grandmothers. (*note: i have also recently fractured my left foot from said ridiculous high heeled shoes.)
looming large on one of her feet was a bunion the size of…well, Paul Bunyan.
as she concluded the class, she gave words of encouragement and urged us not to get discouraged and "NOT come back" because we "couldn't do it yet." (very comforting)
and then she dropped the bomb, literally.
she chuckled and said that if it hadn't been for dropping a huge watermelon on her foot that did so much damage that she could do NO other exercise…she would have never taken up yoga in the first place.
mannequin head> acquired during a summer job as a makeup artist at a very posh Saks Fifth Avenue in Baltimore (they were getting rid of them) sequin hat> was having new freelance design business meeting at Goodwill HQ in Dallas> saw the hat on the way to meeting that reminded me of my grandmother> had to buy it> still have the hat> after moving the mannequin heads (she had a twin) between 2 cities and two continents for years> sold them to Dolly Python
this post is dedicated to my other grandmother, (as opposed to the other one from my original happenstancers post) who died when was 10 or 11 from colon cancer. it was an epic loss. it would be her birthday today.
i owe a lot of who i am as a creative person and as an observer, inventor, ideator and imaginator.
(i don't think that's really a word…but let's just go with it, shall we?)
she was a small town woman, who used her imagination to make the coolest things out of the most humble of resources. yes, she worked for the Sears catalog outpost store in our little town, and sold Avon on the side…but that's not really what she was all about.
she made dolls out of carved, dried apples (their heads)… sewed the grooviest of Barbie clothes, and made side tables out of empty instant coffee jars that she stcked, glued together like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and stained. oh, and the clothespin doll Christmas ornaments. and the "balloon sea serpents" on a string, pulling it around the kitchen to entertain me. she gave me classic books, and lots of markers to color with. her basement was a mecca filled with every craft material you coul think of: boxes of sequins…hat pins…yarn, string, styrofoam. It was HEAVEN. she had a jewelry box full of shiny, colorful costume jewelry pins that i loved to play with…and some cool sequin hats. the odd thing is that she wasn't really a very flashy person – but it was all so enchanting. she glued gorgeous glass "gemstones" to my Christmas packages, no matter how simple the gift was. i still have them, in a jar.
she taught me to be kind to people, she taught me patience (of which i still have a lot) and that when you had little or no money, you could still:
a) make something
b) entertain yourself.
she never cared if we made a mess, or if a project didn't quite turn out "perfectly." it was the doing that was important.
the best memory of all was when she let me help her bake a cake, and took a Duncan Hines Marble cake mix out of the cupboard – let me help her mix it until it went into the oven, and she sent me off to play while it baked.
when she called me to pull it out of the oven…she ceremoniously sliced it, and, POOF! like MAGIC! in each slice were some beautiful, swirly marbles.
(ok, don't get excited! she didn't let me eat them, i didn't swallow any.)
believing in a little bit of magic never hurt anyone.
i drew this in college with a ballpoint pen for a drawing class with a maniacal italian professor. he pushed me, and i'm glad he did. ball point pens? we thought he was MAD.
my fine arts professor hated it; and whined that it was too "graphic-design-y." my other favorite professors loved it, and upon the gallery showing, it brought my father to near tears.
my father is fond of telling me in his Pennsylvania Dutch vernacular:
"you're my mother upset."
(which of course translates to meaning that we're just alike.)
bear with me – this story goes down the rabbit hole a little…just to visually
enjoy geek out about a lighting fixture.
let me preface it by saying i used to design lighting; so i have a real love and penchant for anything that smacks of a cool LAMP.
the provenance of happening upon this amazing (real? knock off?) PH Artichoke Pendant is as follows:
wore ridiculous high heels for too long > fractured my foot in them > healed the foot > bulging disc in my back mysteriously appeared > not sure if any of this had to do with getting run over by a bike messenger in NYC long ago > as a result of all this lunacy had to go see a back specialist > confronted by the Holy Grail of all pendant lights, right then & there in the medical building.
and let me say…i never got the chance to become acquainted with the subtleties and pleasures of an artichoke; they just don't eat them where i come from.
but NOW…i really appreciate a good artichoke; even better, under a groovy artichoke lamp.
once i was working in a really nice retail store in Adelaide, Australia -and my coworker Patrick calls me frantically from the stock room on the 3rd floor, tells me his idol Courtney Love is in the store, and races down the elevator at breakneck pace.
i said "where? i don't see her in here?"…until…WAIT. i HEAR her. the only other american accent in the store beside mine…and it was LOUD. and obnoxious. (i shuddered in expat embarrassment, for you see…they think we're all like that. loud & OBNOXIOUS.) you could hear her all over the cavernous store.
i turn around, and see a woman who is tall and strapping – like an Olympic swimmer. like she could kick some serious ass. but in a cardigan, jeans and some really cute wedgy Mary Jane shoes. the broad shoulders! man, for some reason i always pictured her being more diminutive. she was with a beautiful Aussie guy (I assume showing her around – Hole was playing in town.)
i walk up to her and say "hey, your shoes are cute. (they were.) i'm american, too." and then she says an offhanded but very haughty thanks, and pays for her stuff, and goes on her way. oh, and did i mention she was haughty? bossy-haughty-bossy-haughty?
i have to say…i was really embarrassed to be an american that day…
on the flight home she caused trouble on the Qantas flight and harassed the crew. Aussies just do not put up with that kind of shit, celebrity or not. that day she was just ANOTHER LOUD 'YANKEE.'
p.s. disclaimer: the shoes in the pic are not hers…they are mine.