Archive for January 2011

My Mentors

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Boldtype had a great feature last week on famous literary mentorships. Coincidentally, I talked about my literary mentors a bit in my This Week in Books interview. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to do so, as many of my interviews focus instead on deep things such as what happened to all that jewelry I got.

I’m fortunate enough to have had two incredible writers take me under their wings- Leonard Chang and Jim Krusoe, both of whom I met at my MFA program. In case you’re unfamiliar with the parlance of graduate programs, teachers are often called “mentors.” Of course, in the proper sense of the word it would be impossible for a teacher at such a program to truly mentor all of his or her students. For instance, I’ve had “mentors” look at my work and say things like, “Wow, your writing sure loses its magic in the revisions.” Believe me, I could go on about how very uninterested some of my MFA mentors were in mentoring me. And that’s as it should be. Not everyone’s going to believe in your work.

True mentorship is a rare and precious thing and I wouldn’t be the writer I am without my guiding spirits. My gratitude to them goes far beyond that which I could express on an acknowledgement page. For this reason, I really enjoyed the Boldtype feature.

You’ll Never Believe the Girl My Son Brought Home

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I have an article on Parentdish today about Tariku’s obsession with Lady Gaga. As some of you may recognize, this essay is one that I wrote quite a while ago during a bleary midnight moment. I’m happy to report that we have way, way less of those moments these days. I actually had to drag T out of bed this morning in order to get him dressed for gymnastics. All the while he was hanging onto the pillow and demanding more snuggles. It was bliss.

Also defunct are those laundry loads of cloth diapers. Ah well. I tried.

Furthermore….he’s moved on to Neko Case. But I do sometimes wonder about his first love and whether or not she inspired his enduring fascination with exposed legs.

Anyway, read it here and leave comments about how totally funny and awesome I am. They’ll act as a counterbalance for the ones that will surely point out what a neglectful monster I am for allowing my son to watch music videos.

Sad Foot

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I used to live down the street from this rotating happy foot/sad foot sign and I was extremely superstitious about it. I would only drive by it if the happy foot was facing the street. I would literally slow way, way down in the middle of Sunset Blvd. to avoid the bad luck that I was certain the sad foot would bring (just look at it).

Apparently I wasn’t the only one, because when the sign broke down, sad foot facing out, it made the local paper. Maybe I got cocky and drove by it, because I now have a sad foot. A positively melancholy foot. Maybe even a foot suffering from major depressive disorder.

I partially tore my plantar fascia while running and as a result I’ve been pretty much benched for over a month. I’m just starting to be able to walk without pain. As the weeks pass, my L.A. Marathon goal looks more and more unlikely. I can and will shoot for another marathon later in the year, but it’s still a huge disappointment and a major endorphin crash.

Accepting failure, moving on, setting new goals…not exactly my strong suits. I’m more inclined toward wallowing in self-pity, getting strung out on TV and overeating. But even chocolate almonds, Glee reruns and elastic waistbands get old after a while. I got up and did some yoga this morning. I took a gentle hike with Dylan a couple of days ago. But the pep has definitely gone out of my step and I recognize how much of a rigidly goal-oriented person I am. Maybe it’s not the best way to be. Maybe I should groove more with the process, but I think I’ll work with what I’ve got for now.

So…NY? We were in New York a couple of years ago during the marathon and I remember seeing the runners wearing their medals the next day and thinking that I wanted one. Just as soon as my foot cheers up, I’m going to get me one of those.

Tariku Recommends…

Neko Case is Tariku’s main squeeze these days. He asks to hear her album at breakfast; he asks for it in the car; he asks if she can come to the park and he cries when the answer is no. He insists that he’ll be gentle and share his airplanes if only she’ll come over and visit us.

I thought I’d share a video of her singing our favorite song live. It gives me goosebumps to the tips of my ears. And I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything quite as sweet and sad as an almost-three-year-old singing along with the line, “I’m so lonely and I wish I was the moon tonight.”

If you’re reading this on Facebook, watch the video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fhur6g8_BM.

My Men are so Metal

I swear we take him to lovely places like parks and museums, but Tariku is obsessed with dumpsters right now. And any time is a good time for an impromptu mosh pit…

Watch them here.

Awesome Anniversary

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On Sunday, we celebrated the anniversary of the day that Tariku was first placed in our arms. He apparently got the memo that mommy was going to be a gooey, sentimental pushover that day because he turned on the wicked T-Bone charm and it totally worked. I gave him everything he wanted all day long, setting a fantastic precedent for next weekend. But still- how fun was that? To just go ahead and say yes to everything. Another ride? Sure. Ice cream? No problem. Listen to that song for the fiftieth time? Rock out! Watch another episode of Gabba? To hell with IQ points! Fries for lunch? My thoughts exactly! It was so liberating.

Sadly, Scott was laid up with a back injury, so T and I decided to celebrate by going to the Santa Monica Pier and riding the balloon ride over and over until I was so nauseated I literally had to lie down on a bench. T kept vigil at my side and gravely announced to all passers by, “Mommy barf.”

Then we did the only sensible thing to do when nauseated- eat a bucket of fries and chase pigeons.

But seriously, he was adorable, he was perfection. It was nothing less than a freaking miracle. Actually, on the hardest days it’s nothing less than a freaking miracle. It’s just easy to forget. Until you look at this picture, taken two years ago on Monday:

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Dani Shapiro Gets Sinful

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Dani Shapiro is one of my touchstones as a writer and I wanted to share a great series of blog posts she did over the holidays. She muses on each of the seven deadly sins as they relate to the writing process. Her insights will be of interest not only to writers but to anyone engaged in a creative endeavor. Her latest memoir, Devotion, is out in paperback next month.

Bring Your Face

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My friend Austin Young just shot my new author photo last week. We had a fantastic morning in his beautiful garden. Because I “had” to get the photos done, I was spared the guilt of blowing off a morning, hanging out with a friend, drinking tea, gossiping and talking about art. I felt almost human by the time I left. I should probably try to do that once in a while even when I don’t have a work-related excuse.

We talked about his upcoming gallery show and I wanted to share it with you because I think the concept is brilliant and it could be even better- you could be in it! I already reserved a spot in the show for Tariku. Here’s the info from Austin’s press release. Come see T and me at the opening on the 29th…

YOUR FACE HERE
by Austin Young
January 29th – March 5th, 2011
opening reception: January 29th, 7-10p
closing reception: March 5th
Pop tART Gallery
3023 W. 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90020

Los Angeles, CA – National news-making curator Lenora Claire and popular
drag performer Phyliss Navidad are proud to present both the launch of
their new gallery Pop tART, as well as a solo exhibition – part
portrait, part participatory, part performative – by Los Angeles based
artist, Austin Young.

YOUR FACE HERE is a solo exhibition by artist Austin Young that
challenges the normative conditions in which portraits are produced and
exhibited. Young, for over 25 years, has been a celebrated portrait
photographer and artist, whose works blurs the lines, and transcends the
distinctions, between fashion, portraiture, and gender. This exhibition
marks a rare and glamorous moment when Young will generously open his lens onto the public.

For the duration of the exhibition, Young will establish his art studio
for a 5 week residency at Pop tART Gallery. The artist will be present
during gallery hours for portrait sittings, which will eventually fill the
walls of the gallery. The public is invited to participate as the subject
of the exhibition through the purchase of the pop cultural real estate
of the gallery walls. Participation extends beyond simply sitting for a
portrait – it will be a collaborative process where the participants
determine the portrait’s size and placement. Following the legacy of
Warhol’s Factory, Young will transform each participant into an art
celebrity. Or, just impress your high school chums by having the man who
just broke attendance records at LACMA with his co-collaborator’s of
Fallen Fruit take your Facebook profile pic. Bring your face!

Opening reception will be on January 29th, from 7-10pm. Celebrity
make-up artists will be on site for beautification as well as a fabulous
performance by Killsonic, a 50 piece ensemble band. Floral arrangements
and landscaping on patio by Tenley Young, 1st place winner of “The
Arrangement” on LOGO. Makeup provided by Urban Decay. Accessories by
Skingraft. Refreshments by Customized Celebrations. The closing reception
will be your reception! Come see you face in lights.

Contact Lenora Claire at Pop tART Gallery for more details and to reserve
your portrait. Lenora@LenoraClaire.com or poptartgallery@gmail.com

Conscious Chaos

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In spite of my no-resolution resolution, the beginning of the year finds me at the beginning of a couple of new-ish endeavors. I’m once again in front of the blank page with a new creative project and it feels both familiar and frightening, both electric and exhausting. I confess, I love this part. The ideas are zinging around and waking me up in the middle of the night. I’ve done this enough times now to know that the ones I think are the treasures are usually the ones that wind up in the trash and vice versa. So I try not to attach too much to a day’s work, try to let the chaos unspool around me and then wait for the muses to show up and start to organize the post-its into something resembling structure.

I’ve also been trying to show up for my parenting in a more conscious way. I’m leaving my cell in the car and re-focusing on all that good ol’ attachment-promoting behavior with which I was so engaged the first few months T was home with us. I’m not sure exactly what’s going on with T’s behavior right now, but I know for certain that if I can be more present and connected, it might help us find our way to some solutions.

Guess which project is easier?

I challenge any Tibetan lama to maintain eye-contact and active listening through an entire dinner with a toddler. I actually had a friend (clearly a better person than me) say to me a couple of months ago, “I can’t believe I ever worried that motherhood was going to be boring!” Really? You can’t? Perhaps you’d like to talk to my kid for an hour about whether the bouncy house down the street is BIG or FLAT. Or, slightly more interesting but trickier in a crowded restaurant, who, out of everyone we know, has a PENIS and who has a VAGINA. All this punctuated by a running dialogue about why it’s not advisable to eat fries off the floor or launch cutlery at the next table over.

But I know that the writing will also hit a spot at which it becomes mind-numbingly boring. And parenting will have its thrills and chills. I spend a lot of time complaining about balancing the two, but they do act as effective counterpoints to one another.

I hear the wee monster stirring in his crib. I now close up my computer in anticipation of an afternoon of eye contact and choo choos and tantrums and penis talk. All without a texting break. Bring it on; I ain’t afraid.

The Countdown to Spring Begins…

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I confess, I’m glad the holiday siege is over. It was fun; it was sweet; mostly it was a massive amount of work and a big expense and I managed to develop a few fresh resentments to bring with me into the New Year. You know- a proper holiday.

So now the countdown to spring begins….

But there are still a few remaining pleasures of winter (or what we call winter here, anyway) left to savor. Like sunsets on a deserted beach. And rain boots.

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