I’ve learned a lot by giving back. I’ve learned there’s happiness in selflessness and that even one person with a will to create change really and truly can. (I’m not referring to myself, although I hope to one day be such a catalyst for charitable revolution. I refer instead to Judy Burlingham, chairman of Pipeline to a Cure, an event dreamed up by Judy and a few friends, who years ago imagined a “magical night” to save lives by the sea.)
Yesterday morning, I drank two cups of coffee and rode the train to San Diego. The frothy ocean views and muted seascape I’ll save for another more literary post but sitting on the train, watching the ocean curl below mottled-gray clouds, I felt like a detective on a civilized coastal adventure. Read More
In most cases learning something essential in life requires physical pain. – Haruki Murakami
Right now I’m in training to write a novel. I do think it’s strange to say I’m in training, but I am. If you read the best books on writing (King, Murakami and Bradbury are good places to start), there’s always a physical element to the way the masters describe writing that people who don’t do it professionally might overlook. I’m not putting anyone down who writes for fun (please, write, WRITE!), it’s just the truth. To most, writers are sad people. They drink a lot more than they should, shower less than they should and sit hunched over leather notebooks in dark corners of dimly lit coffee shops, stealing brilliant ideas from the cinnamon-spiced air to scribble down and publish. Read More
I had two hours until the meeting. One hundred and twenty minutes to open the door of a hotel room that faced a neon-lit atrium and wander a city I’ve never been. Outside on North Main Street in Greenville, South Carolina, humidity bricked against my face, thick as unmilked cows. And seen: the grass, the shrubs, the willow oaks, wispy along parts of the road, bold in other places, trailing toward the cloudless sky. Cars ambled by with the unhurried air of sweet tea sipped on a slow, creaking porch swing. People clutched to paper-wrapped coffee cups and dog leashes and the rhythm of Monday morning.
Two hours. A lot could be done in that time. I could find a quiet nook for breakfast, discover why grits seemed to hold such charm, scan the sky for the Blue Ridge Mountains, walk to the waterfall a sweaty concierge had insisted held small-town promise.
OK, I’d do that. Read More
Yesterday, I received word from Z Publishing House that my short story “The Disappearing Act” was included in a published anthology called “America’s Emerging Literary Fiction Writers: California,” available on the publishing house’s website and through Amazon. My words appear alongside those of 32 other writers and I do have to say “published author” has a nice ring to it. Anyway, a few people (e.g. my dad and third cousin) asked about the story featured, so I’m reposting it here in case you’d like to read. In other news, I apologize for the weeks-long silence of this blog. Posts will start to appear with a much more frequent rhythm over the next few weeks, especially as I prepare to start writing my book in July. Stay tuned …
The Disappearing Act
This weekend I attended the world premiere of The Tony Alva Story presented by Vans at the Newport Beach Film Festival. The screening took place inside Lido Theater, Balboa Peninsula’s one-screen wonder plumped with 1920s decadence and bygone cinematic drama. (The glittering marquee! The thick, red curtain! The wide seats! The Vans-sticker-wrapped stage! The SHOW!)Read More
Good morning, Breana called out sick for tonight. Will you be willing to come in at 1930 hours? Thank you, Terry
Jamie knew Breana wasn’t sick. She knew it like she knew that she had two freckles on the right side of her neck and like she knew she would eat a hard-boiled egg for breakfast because it was right now hissing inside boiling water on her stove and like she knew today was a cloudy Tuesday in San Diego and like she knew Breana wasn’t sick.Read More
This week I found surprisingly profound wisdom in the words of Tim Gunn. Yes that Tim Gunn, of “Project Runway” fame, who effortlessly sashayed around dozens of frantic designers, imploring them in his characteristic, frank timber to “make it work.”
I read his book, “A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style” over the weekend as part of my newfound effort to find—and refine—my personal style. There are glimmers of it in the bright Dannijo statement necklace I sometimes wear or in the current springtime purple polish on my nails but save the flutter of those few bold sartorial choices, my personal style remains nebulous and undefined.
It didn’t bother me when I had a regular, 9-to-5 job. Each morning, I’d don a pair of plain, black slacks and some form of a Banana Republic sweater, which turned out to be a uniform that didn’t ruffle any feathers or make me stand out from the crowd. I was subsumed into the grayish tones of corporate existence, the everyday fashion equivalent of a beige wall. (To be fair, this was entirely my fault. Several colleagues offered brilliant examples of intrepid personal style that hemmed well within the confines of the company dress code.)
If there’s a lesson to be learned from “The Devil Wears Prada,” it’s that fashion is far from the superficial. It’s at once a global enterprise and a highly personal story, told by the choices you make each morning that scream in striped button downs or neon spandex the person you are in this very moment, on this very day.
Gunn puts it well: “What is a closet, really, but a catalogue of the different personas we have auditioned and discarded? Hanging there in our closets are reminders, both good and bad, of who we are, who we’ve been, and who we’ve hoped to be.”
His words unlocked something inside my mind. Dressing each day is not a pragmatic, sociological need to avoid walking around naked; it’s how we express our visual identity in every single exchange, from ordering coffee at a local café to sitting down at a business meeting to sitting down for a first date, to breaking up at a last date. What we wear is who we are, whether we like to believe it or not.
There is so much of life we can’t control but this—THIS—we can absolutely control. We can be the type of person who can dress up a Fleetwood Mac concert tee with a blazer and patent leather shoes but underneath, still reverberate our love for British-American rock music and the creative tones it echoes into our days. We can Steve Jobs our lives with a single, black turtleneck from Japanese designer Issey Miyake and wear the thing until every thread comes undone. (A perfect example of fashion storytelling can be found in Elizabeth Holmes, the fallen CEO of the late medical testing company Theranos. Holmes channeled Jobs in her ever-present Miyake black turtlenecks, except instead of highlighting the Zen-like simplicity that paralleled Apple’s aesthetic success, her choice was hailed as derivative and uninspired.)
Some might scoff at the emphasis placed on outward appearance. Never judge a book by its cover, never judge. Don’t be a judgy wudgy. (Made that up, ™ me.)
Well, yes, there’s merit in a blind-eyed approach to living but why not open our eyes? Instead of focusing on the superficiality of style, why not view style as an opportunity to forge a new path, write a new chapter or re-align our inner essence with the outer narrative our clothes inherently tell?
I haven’t forgotten today is Earth Day and the celebration fits well with the personal style theme. Earth’s tale is spoken in springtime flowers and craggy mountain cliffs, from one shining sea to the next, and it’s the visual identity of our planet we seek to forever protect. I’m trying to get at the same concept here with style. What we see is where we live is who we are is who we’ll become.
A final thought before I wrap up for today: You can’t make a statement with style until you decide you have something to say. And I truly believe we all do, so let’s ditch the dressed-down drab and please start talking.
Late last week, I woke up with the sunrise.
As the light of dawn deepened to morning, I made the five-hour journey to Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
If you haven’t been before, the road to Mammoth is a trail of concrete un-expectation: the snow-drawn mountains, the earnest pines, the warm, woodsy browns mixing with a bluebird sky. Around every curl of the highway, nature is left to bloom. In whispers of feral gratitude, she rewards the world for leaving her (mostly) alone and like a cabaret singer with a penchant for Barbra Streisand ballads, puts on a wild, wild show.
The first day of the month is a fantastic time for a fresh start. It’s a clean, new number: one. Like a mini-New Year’s resolution, you can resolve today to be or do more of whatever you want in its solid, one-sy newness.
As I run my business and watch it grow, I’m finding it more important than ever to nurture my own well-being. I can better serve my clients. I can feel better as I work. I can project more positivity. I can. I can. I can. And you can, too.
Personal improvement should be a very real component of any actionable business plan. Write it in there, along with how you’re increasing revenue, amping up your marketing efforts and crushing the competition. A commitment to continual improvement keeps our minds unhinged from predictability. We’re more flexible and nimble. As beings unrestrained from the restrictive confines of stable mediocrity, we’re free.
The stale bread becomes crunchy breakfast toast. The unwatered flowers become decorative art. The gloomy skies break from spurts of morning grey and clear to the promise of sunshine.
In the name of interminable improvement to better our bodies and minds, here are a few resources to consider as you turn this blank page of April to transform this month into the springtime of a shiny, new you: