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April 2010

Pen Pals in the 21st Century

I love to write letters and I have from a long time back. I think it started when my dad, stepmom and older sisters moved to the Big Island and mom and Jen and I lived on Oahu, then Maui. Making long distance phone calls back then was expensive and rare. I think we might talk on the phone on Sunday evenings, but that was about it. So I started writing letters and my dad would write back. I loved loved loved getting letters! Nothing was more exciting (other than going to the bookstore) than to go to the post office and have something in Box F for me.Woman Writing Letters by Charles Dana Gibson 

In the newspapers back then there were small sections with a list of pen pals you could write to. In 8th grade I wrote to a few in the US and to some in Germany. (At the time "West Germany.") Somehow my name was put into an English language magazine for school kids learning English there and I started to get lots of letters. Joy oh joy! I replied to every one and wrote steadily to about 20 of them for a year or so. The letters slowed to a trickle as some of them lost interest and faded away, and by the time I graduated from high school, I had four regular pen-pals left in Germany: Ute, Elfriede (Evi), Antonia (Toni) and Andrea. 

When I travelled to Europe in 1989 and again in 1992, I met them all and their families. It was amazing. And to this day (almost 30 years later!) I still write Christmas cards with Evi and Andrea. I somehow lost Ute and Antonia over the last ten years, and while I still send letters to Antonia's address in Amberg, I have not heard from her ever. Same with Ute. Then recently I got a friend request on Facebook from Ute! We have caught up, got new addresses for each other and remain in touch. Still no Toni, though, and that makes me sad.

In the internet age, the series of tubes had been an amazing way to find people you knew a long time ago, something that would have been tough to do ten years ago. Recently I discovered a Facebook group for my elementary school on Maui, Lihikai. Many of the people in that group are from my class and we are now talking about having a get together in June when we're home. That will be mind blowing! Seeing faces that are so similar, but grown up is fantastic. I was at Lihikai from third through sixth grade so these memories are a bit pockmarked and I'm sure the gaps will be filled in.

I thought about all this as I was skype-chatting with a new friend, Helen, last week. We met in Belfast on The Project last fall and bonded over the work and a friend we have in common. (Our friend Carole had been in Belfast a year or so before, working on City of Ember.) We became Facebook friends, of course, and have stayed in touch. The reason I thought of pen pals was because in our skype-chat we were sending pictures back and forth of ourselves as kids and google map view images of our houses. The one 40 minute skype-chat we had would have been months of pen pal letters (with pictures) back in the day.

I like being in this internet bridge generation, having grown up with rotary phones and snail mail, and unwrapping the first and my first Macintosh on Christmas in 1984. Now I've (almost) fully embraced the online life, blogging and tweeting and facebooking my way to greater happiness. Okay, well, that's a bit over the top, but you know what I mean. I do appreciate that it is so much easier to stay in touch with people, especially when you make new friends (like I do on movie sets, far from home). I like being able to just send them a wall post to say "hi, thinking of you..."Writing_letters1 I have also made new friends on Twitter who I now know in real life and who will be friends for a long time. 

But there was something about sitting down to write letters. Pulling the sheet from the envelope, rereading what my friends had to say, looking at the pictures they sent, then deciding what paper I wanted to use and which color pen. Then the writing of a reply, sealing it up, addressing it, stamping it, mailing it. Then the sweet wait time until I got a reply in my (actual) mailbox.

Oh I still write letters. If you've read this blog long enough, you know I like my paper and ink. (Sadly it seems I've been writing condolence letters more than anything lately.) I like to get out the stationery and fancy pen and write a "thinking of you" note to an old friend or family member. I'm old school and will never change. I guess it's becoming a thing of the past, but I'll only give you my pen (and paper) when you pry it from my cold dead hands!

Spring Planting

Quick snaps of the veggie/herb garden we put in this afternoon. Couldn't have asked for better weather to garden! Cool and overcast. My hands smell like rosemary.

Here we have tomatoes (2 kinds), yellow peppers,and thyme (common and variegated). 


Over here we have rosemary, basil, more peppers and tomatoes and italian parsley. The pot has mint, basil and thyme. The rosemary, mint and italian parsley were left-overs from last year. I trimmed them up, broke them into smaller sections and replanted. 


I never have luck with basil so I'm trying them in new spots this year and am going to water them more frequently. That will start tonight/tomorrow with this rain we are supposed to get. 

The only casualty was a huge black widow spider. She found a spot under the window (above the tomatoes here) and had two egg sacs with her. I realize it was racial profiling, but she had to go. 

Speaking of Adoption

15 years ago today, Bunny came to live with me.

I had just moved into a one-bedroom apartment in West LA and was feeling oh so grown up. After a few months I really wanted a cat and while the lease said no, my landlady agreed. Since I was working full time, I knew I didn't have time for a kitten so I decided I would look for a short hair, young adult cat.

The West LA animal shelter was not far and I went in one Saturday to look. All the cats were in a set of cages along one wall. (They had a larger cat playroom too, but those were mostly kittens.) There were all kinds of cats, one cat was meowing and rubbing against the door of her cage, "pick me! pick me!" She seemed to be trying too hard (and who could blame her) but she already seemed too high maintenance. Then there was an old calico. I mean, on his last legs, old. Like someone didn't have the heart to see him through to the end and took him to the shelter instead. Broke my heart and I almost adopted him but was honest with myself that I wouldn't be able to give him the attention he needed. 

Then there was this one. She was curled up in the back of her cage, awake, but not getting too much involved. One look at that goofy face and I was hooked. I asked if I could pick her up and the guy said sure and opened the cage. I picked her up and saw she had no tail! (Turns out she's a Rumpy Manx.) She was small, seven pounds, and calm and only about a year and a half old. I looked at that face and thought, who is going to pick her with all those other much prettier cats here? I knew I had found my cat. 

We completed the paperwork, I think it cost about $12, and she went directly to the vet from the shelter to get spayed. I picked her up a day or two later and brought her home. I didn't know what to call her, tried a few things, but nothing seemed to stick. Then I started to call her Bunny, as kind of a joke, since she looked like a rabbit without a tail and her rounded backside. Bunny stuck. 

Of course she gets all kinds of names: The Rabbit, Bun-Bun, Gross Bunnage, Grumpy Manx, Pudu (cuz she looks like one), Supreme Predator, etc. 

When Kurt moved in, it was like I had been just some caretaker until her *real* owner showed up. She fell in love with him immediately. (Well, who wouldn't?) If Kurt is in any kind of prone position, you can generally find Bunny there too. Sort of like this:


She loves her Kurt.

Bunny is adorable, though she does tend to hog the bed. In the colder months she'll sleep under the covers between us. She tends to take up most of my side, which seems impossible for an eight pound cat with no tail. But somehow she does it. Some nights she'll take up half my pillow and I have to shove her off. Then there are mornings when I wake up and her head is on my pillow and the rest of her is under the covers and it's so damn cute you just can't stand it. 

The Bun is 16 or 17 now and still going strong. She has a bit of arthritis which gives her a soreness and stiffness in her left rear leg, but she is still the alpha female, chasing Mouse around the house and picking "fights" with her from time to time. Mouse is twice Bunny's size, but that doesn't matter. Bunny is a tough, scrappy cat. When Mouse goes to the vet, she cowers in fear in her carry box. When Bunny goes to the vet, she is always looking for a way to tunnel out of the box. 

I got lucky fifteen years ago, finding this sweet, round, snuggly, tough cat. I hope she's around for 15 more!

I loves my rabbit!

2nd Six Weeks -- How's It Going?

March 26 was the end of my 2nd six week plan. How did I do?

My second Six Week Plan was:

  1. Exercise at least six days a week with higher # of reps and greater intensity. I need to have sore muscles after exercising to know I pushed it harder.
  2. Eat less and eat better, make two specific meals a week (from cookbooks)
  3. Bring book proposal to Rough Draft shape and find a better time to work on it during the day.
  4. Continue writer's group! 

Here are the scores:

1. I did exercise at least 6 days a week and upped the reps/times/intensity of each exercise I did. That felt good and at one point Kurt pointed out that he could tell how much stronger I have gotten. Excellent Awesome Feedback! I did take a week off of exercising for, um, fertility reasons. The doctor suggested not doing much bouncing around during that certain fertile time of the month. So I took those six exercise days off. I started back again this last Monday (The start of the new six weeks) and have exercised only three days this week. It felt great and I then let myself get distracted by item #4.

2. Got very cranky at myself for not eating better (the secret goal is to lose weight) and my weight was staying the same or creeping up. So I started back on weight watchers online and it's helped a lot. I've lost five pounds already and am continuing this good momentum. My biggest problems is portions so the online guide is very helpful for keeping me on track. Plus I don't like going to actual WW meetings/offices. A bit too culty. But I like WW as it is all regular food you make and eat, not packaged stuff you buy. It forces you to be better at regular life eating. So kudos to me on that great start.

3. Kind of in fail territory here. Just am not getting excited about my book proposal. I have more fun just doing the website, so I'm leaving it there for now.

4. FTW territory here! (FTW = For The Win) as we have set dates on calendars to accomplish certain tasks, etc. The writing is cranking along and while it is challenging at times, it never gets dull! On top of that creative work, I've joined in on Script Frenzy (as you've read.) As of today I've written up to page 11 (10.1 pages). I'm extremely excited about just getting more words on a page.

There is a bit of paying work to do that started this past week and will continue into next week. Nice have money coming in again and also I get to work from home, unsupervised, which is always ideal. 

Also, I haven't talked about my resolution to do charity work at least once a month for the year. January and February I spent time volunteering at KCRW during their pledge drive. On March 31st I spent an afternoon at the LA Food Bank, working with other volunteers to sort donated food. Fascinating place, the Food Bank. I was glad to be there helping and I think I will go back again in April once or twice. So far I ROCK on this resolution. 

This past week was the start to the 3rd six weeks of 2010. My goals:

  1. Get back to exercising 6 days a week, at higher reps/more intensity, even if it means getting up earlier.
  2. Continue the better eating habits and stick with the continuing weight loss plan. 
  3. Keep cracking on with the writer's group, finish my (min.) 100 pages for Writer's Frenzy and create, create create!

Script Frenzy!


You might have noticed my new badge over there on the right for Script Frenzy. It's a fun project simply created to help get writers motivated. 30 days - 100 pages. All in the month of April. There are over 15,000 people signed up. There are no prizes, no one reads your script (unless you want them to), no real rules, no one holding your feet to the fire. It's all about you and getting those words on the page!

I have been wanting to finish a script for a while now but have been putting it off and putting it off with no real good reason. So I'm using April's script frenzy time to do so. And then in the last few weeks I learned of a public domain story through a current writing project partner and the two of us are going to tackle aspects of it. I'm going to bang out a draft of a script for it. Plus all the other creative work on the other thing I haven't talked about plus a short FX paying gig. 

April is going to be awesomely busy and creative!

Yesterday I was so busy working my both sides of my brain, the logical work side and the creative fun side that I was exhausted by the end of the day! It took me a while to get up this morning. I'm going to sleep in a little bit tomorrow though. Whew.

If you have something you've been promising yourself you'd write. Do it now! It doesn't have to be perfect or even anywhere near finished. IT'S JUST A DRAFT! Just get it out on paper.