Saturday, February 28, 2009


After yoga, my teacher and I were chatting her super cute super short new haircut. She commented on my newish do—I told her how my hair totally changed (for the better) after having kids. She mentioned, off-hand, that hers changed after she had cancer. Cancer. CANCER. Wow. That moved the conversation to an entirely new level. She had leukemia when she was 20, went through chemo, full body radiation and a bone marrow transplant. This woman I've known for a couple of years, who is open and ditzy and powerful and loving had gone through mind-boggling pain and fear to get to this place of acceptance. She told me how she healed her body, how she discovered yoga in the hospital, that the treatment caused menopause (she whispered this). About how grateful she is for her body, how certain music brings back memories of nausea in the hospital, about how much she appreciates life, her life, the lives of those she loves.

Now I understand why she radiates joy, why she calls her boyfriend her beloved, why she seems so much more present than almost anyone I know.

I was also struck by how little we know about most of the people in our lives. And how each and every one of us has such profound experiences and stories to tell that could touch or enlighten others going through similar things, but most often those stories rarely get told.

Friday, February 27, 2009

adolescent memories

Next week I'm heading to LA (!) to visit a great friend from my past that I haven't seen in many, many years. It's the first time I've been on a cross country flight in years and it reminded me of my first long flight—a class trip to London and Paris, when I was 14 (thanks mom and dad). Being an adolescent who didn't talk to anyone about anything related to my body, I thought this would be a great time to shave my legs. For the first time. The morning of my flight I remember sitting on the edge of my bathtub, with one of my mom's pink razors, and the show attachment unhooked so I could rinse off the debris. I didn't know I was supposed to use shaving cream, or soap, or moisturizer when I was done. I shaved bare, wet skin with a virgin razor and then put on a pair of never born worn Levis.

That plane ride was on of the most excruciating experiences of my life. My legs were rubbed raw, stiff denim chafing against every inch, from knee to ankle. I went to the bathroom and doused them with cold water, I tried gently rubbing in some soap, as if it would magically turn into shea butter (not that there was shea butter back then). The plane ride alone was six plus hours cycling from discomfort through outright agony. By the time we got our backs, made it to the airport, and I was able to ever so slowly ease my pants down, my legs looked like they had been severely sunburnt. Small blisters were forming all over and that first night I could barely sleep. I never told anyone—I was too embarrassed by my lack of knowledge at something that should have been so basic.

Reminds me of how I felt about my period, back then, and for many, many years. Like I should have just known things (like how to use a tampons, how often to change a pad, what to do when there was a leak) but was too ashamed to ask anyone.

Monday, February 23, 2009

blog options

I am trapped in online option hell. How many outlets do I really need? And honestly, how many people actually read anything I put out there? I have a website ( This blog. A new site for Flow ( and now a Flow blog ( There's facebook and twitter. Emails. Texting. And even talking on the phone every once in awhile.

But this past weekend I hit a wall of indecision. I wanted Flow's site to be more interactive, able to change quickly, allow people to be involved. So, I thought, maybe a blog was the answer. It seemed like wordpress allowed more creativity but what I realized, after hours and HOURS was that it created far more confusion than I would have thought possible. And did I really want to wipe out the site I created in iweb, where imagery was far easier to work with? I discovered I could have a wordpress site, that go-daddy would host, that would use just my domain name . . . but, how flexible was the design aspect? What were the templates like? How many widgets would I need when I don't know what more than half of them are. I had a lovely conversation with someone I met on twitter, who's hosting an online wordpress webinar. For $1000. They go-daddy guy was super helpful and enthusiastic, but couldn't give me any concrete information. I watched tutorials, did countless google searches, and read more blogs for input and advice than any one person should.

In the end I'm accepting my limitations. I'm sticking with iweb, a wordpress blog (with wordpress in the domain name) and am comfortable with the fact that no one reading really cares who's hosting and how it was created.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


A random moment on twitter. Some guy's son is undergoing surgery and he keeps posting updates about what's going on—in response to that someone else posted how pathetic he was, spending time on twitter while his son was so sick. Wow.

I get both their points of view. It does seem ridiculous to be filling total stranger in on his son's blood levels and medications, but I totally get that when you're in an insanely stressful situation, it really helps to be busy and have a sense of purpose. This poor guy sounds like he's out of his mind with worry and typing is keeping him grounded in the real world. For the most part I'm finding twitter a waste of time and energy, but I can see what an outlet it is for someone who's freaking out.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

good times

I LOVE my iphone. It took 2 days but now the utterly insane coolness of it, the sleekness of design, the brilliance of integration . . . love love LOVE.

And Flow's final cover arrived today with the correct subtitle. I'm not sure how it's been wrong on every comp we've seen but hey, I don't care anymore because I LOVE this. LOVE.

It's a lovefest kind of day.

Monday, February 16, 2009

falling in love

I gave in and bought myself an iphone yesterday. I've been on the fence about it for a long time—how much did I need it/want it/lust for it? Apparently not all that much as I've held out for years and didn't feel like I was suffering in any way. I had my ipod touch, and could happily watch movies on the subway. I could play air hockey with Jack and Iz has a pet dog to keep her busy. But the email thing was killing me. Wireless access is just a big tease—if you can't get on a network you're screwed. Those little bars drove me crazy. Sometimes if I moved a foot, I lost access. And while I love my razor, navigating online was ridiculous. I'm sure there was a more effective/efficient way to work it, but I never could figure it out. Plus, trying to return emails with a semblance of adult speak was too challenging to tackle.

And then, last week, I got the new cover of Flow. It showed up on my tiny cell phone screen and I could barely read the type. I had many comments/questions, but it was impossible to type them all out. So, after yoga yesterday I walked into an AT&T store, just to ask questions and walked out completely hooked up. I splurged on a case I don't like (it hurts my ear when I'm talking on the phone) and apple care, which I didn't really want. I figured the more I used the phone, the more I'd fall in love. But no.

Until this afternoon when I discovered google maps. Hit a button and it finds exactly where you are, down to the street, down to the building. I got driving directions from the village to Chicago (not that I'd ever actually drive it). I could see maps, street names, schematic layouts of the city. It was mind blowing.

The other insanely cool thing I discovered today? The phone vibrate when the fish in the koi pond nibble your fingers. I'm now waiting for the electric shock therapy app.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I like the cover . . . I really like the cover

Yesterday, my editor sent over Flow's latest cover design. I was on a school bus, heading to see a play at Lincoln Center with Jack's class, and read her super enthusiastic email with a growing sense of doom. Been there, done that. I'd hated everything they'd sent so far and had no hope whatsoever that this would be any different. I knew this was it and that if I didn't like it, screw me, nothing was changing. I fought the urge to delete the message but, finally, took a deep breath and watched it slowly download.

I didn't hate it.

In fact, I didn't not like it.

I sent it to Jon, to see what he thought and the more I stared at the 1 inch image on my cell phone, I started to really like it. It was smart, clever, relevant. The cover was white with black type and red in the "o" which made me think of my original Flow logo. It was appealing, retro, fit in with all my other books, style-wise. The riff on calendar girls, the perfect woman image in spite of what she was physically going through? Total theme in the book. This guy nailed an impossible design challenge. For the first time in almost 2 years I'm excited about Flow (and I never thought I would be again).

Sunday, February 8, 2009

my new project

I never write just to write, so the following is a first. It's painful, powerful, funny, pathetic, and mine. The project is: Life in the Fat-Free Lane. This is one of many:

Someone Else’s Moment of Clarity
Conceptual art was one of the many requirements at School of Visual Arts—it was like a semester of Whitney Biennial projects. Every project was a struggle. I spent the entire class seriously mystified, totally lost. Our final project, which counted for our entire grade, was a conceptual self-portrait. I was screwed. For everyone else in the class, it was a no-brainer. Bacon rotting on stool. A wrecked bike thrown in the corner. And then there was me: anti-conceptual—every moment of my life, every synapse in my brain was completely, insanely filled with scheduling: work, school, home, emotional, relationships, family, eating. So, out of desperation, the night before the project was due I cut up countless strips of paper, and listed one responsibility I had to deal with on each: make the bed, do the laundry, write an art history paper, go to therapy, 45 minutes on the stair master, leg/back workout, cook dinner, visit grandparents, . . . I threw them all in a white box, and drew a pair of glasses and a mouth on one side.

When I got to class and saw the slide projector, the dis-assembled vacuum cleaner, the autobiographical film showing on the wall, I panicked. My little white box hanging from the ceiling was nothing. So stupid. A cop out. It looked painfully insignificant swinging from a pipe. So I took my shoes off and put them under the box, to place it in space, letting viewers know they were looking at a person. We went around the room, each person explaining what their self portrait represented.

After my very short presentation, the teacher asked me to stay after class. I knew I failed, that I’d have to repeat the class, that my work was so sub-par he couldn’t even talk about it in front of everyone else. After the class emptied, he sat down, looked straight at me and asked if I knew I had an eating disorder. WTF? Really, WHAT? He said that I created a portrait without a body. That by centering my shoes under the box, I was negating everything in between. That my sense of self was entirely in my head. That I had created the most brutally honest self-portrait in the room.

He was totally and completely wrong. He knew nothing. I stammered and explained my life, the juggling, the pressure, the insanity. He was reading WAY TOO MUCH into this piece I threw together at the last minute.

I got an A. And, in the end, he was right.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

mastering the spin

Yesterday, I was spinning. Spinning in the creative, I-have-an-idea, I can conceptualize and talk and write and sell and make people see my vision way. I haven't had that frenetic, all-consuming, over-the-top feeling wash over me in so long. Too long.

I used to be like that much of the time and now that I'm not, I can see how much of it was anxiety-fueled. I needed to have my head constantly busy, as if thoughts were currency and only by continually replenishing my band, would I be ok in the end. But, I've learned, that's just not true. Having said that, it felt really good to be overwhelmed by the enormity and greatness of how strongly I can believe in what I do/think/want.

So, I'm starting a new project that most likely won't sell. But, that's never stopped me. For years, people told me Flow would never be published. I've also never written just for the sake of writing, but everyone has a story (or countless stories) and maybe some of mine will help someone else.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

ego blows

I just ran into a neighbor/aspiring writer in the supermarket and our conversation left me shaken. No, that's not quite it. Flummoxed is a better word (and one that I've never actually written before).

He's an aspiring writer—quit his job to write full time. He's been doing this for a couple of years and seems to have found some success as a freelancer, which is great. But no matter what I said, he knew more. More about publishing, marketing, freelance, books . . . the list goes on. Even though I've had books published and have worked in publishing for years, I was consistently not in the know.

And that was the ego blow. This guy was talking to me like I was an enthusiastic high school senior looking to move to the big city. While I wouldn't go as far as to say he was condescending, he was completely disinterested in anything I had to say. The more ambivalent he was, the more I felt I had to prove myself. I've written 10 books. I design for publishers. I worked in the promotional department for a major publisher. I have an agent. I've put proposals out there. I've been paid for my work. All were met with something he had to say that proved me wrong.

I got more and more insecure, asking about his writing teachers/writing groups, convincing myself that I've been doing everything wrong and if only I was doing what he was, I'd actually be successful. But, once I escaped the vortex and got back to my living room with my milk and bananas, I came back to my senses. It's not me, it's him. If he needs to be the expert, ok. I just don't have to have that conversation again.

Monday, February 2, 2009

anxiety driven creativity

For most of my adult life (well, actually all of my life only I didn't know what it was called when I was a kid), I was ruled by anxiety. When I was younger I didn't know how to channel it. I only wished I could those huge whooshes of emotion that overwhelmed me and turn them into something constructive but I didn't have any talent. Couldn't sing—my dad once told me I shouldn't be in the school chorus as my off-pitch voice would throw everyone else off. Couldn't dance—my ballet teacher at the used to tap my stomach, not so lightly, in apparent disgust. Couldn't paint—just didn't get it. When I got older I turned that powerful drive into an eating disorder and man was I good at it. There were moments of clarity when I knew that if only I could channel that drive for good, I could accomplish anything. But, I accomplished very thin, very well.

And then I found books. Projects to devote/focus/angst over. Every project I've created has been this convergence of creativity, focus and organization, fueled by anxiety. Man, is that a powerful motivator. As the parameters of each project grew, so did the anxiety—with the effort involved matching. One winter I had 3 projects going at once (Thank You Note Kit, City Walks with Kids, Don't Just Stand There) and ended up in the hospital for 5 days. Flow has been going on for 2 years this month and it's driven me to the edge of breaking more times than I can remember. Having said that, in the past I've always had one thing run directly into another—if not a project someone's bought, then proposals craving to be written. Now? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It's not that I don't have ideas. I have strong, solid, creative ideas with amazing people who want to work with me. But, I can't get started on any of them.

I wonder if it's all the yoga I'm doing, if that mindset of being as opposed to doing, is actually seeping into my subconscious and letting me ease up a bit. Maybe it's Flow burnout. If either one, they're both firsts.

Surprisingly, shockingly, amazingly, I'm ok with this place. I want to miss the drive, the ambition, the achievement, but I don't.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

twitter is the new ebay

Skimming ebay used to be my way to relax/escape/goof off. I thought of it as sort of tech meditation, in that while I wasn't om-ing in lotus with candles and incense, my mind was clear and other thoughts floated away as I explored other people's cast-offs. I put together most of my vintage coat collection with somewhat obsessive (ok, so maybe that part wasn't so zen) searches. The only stress was the last moments of any auction, waiting to see if someone would swoop in and snag my meant-to-be coat. Even knowing my coats was somewhat zen, or at least psychic. I'd know, by the picture, the description, that a coat was meant to be mine. And almost all the time, when I had that feeling, the coat would arrive, be a perfect fit, and an immediate favorite.

But, I discovered twitter. Twitter doesn't leave time for anything else. I wonder about those endless tweets from high powered executives, business owners, life coaches, and social media specialists who seem to live online. How do they have time to work? Eat? Sleep? Plus, I'm finding the amassing of followers to be anxiety-inducing. Brings me back to 7th grade when insecurity reigned. Will anyone want to spend time with me? Will I fit in? Be popular? Facebook and twitter totally feed into that but in an abstract way so that your feelings can't be as hurt as the public humiliation of a huge zit on your forehead or no one asking you to the prom.