Friday, October 2, 2009

Inspire Me!

Let’s talk about inspiring and accomplished mature women.

I’ll start with these prominent four: Meryl Streep, Betsy Johnson, Diane Keaton, and Alice Hoffman.

~~ Meryl Streep -- Meryl’s 60 years old and considered to be the greatest film actresses living today. An amazing fact about Meryl is this; despite her illustrious career she always managed to put her family first. Putting your children at the top of the list in Hollywoodworld, is so unheard of. Hat’s off to Meryl, she’s always been a class act, and the good example.

Meryl Streep quote: We are who we’re going to be when we’re very old, and when we’re very old we’re who we were when we were 8.

~~ Betsy Johnson – Betsey’s 67, can you believe that? This wild child of fashion is still as vibrant and out there as she was in the back in the seventies. I couldn’t find any quotes from Betsey, but I chose her because she’s still going strong creatively. Another fashion favorite of mine, (she was adept at changing with the times), is Coco Chanel!

~~ Diane Keaton -- Diane’s 63, and an advocate against plastic surgery. Back in 2006 she was chosen to be the face of L’Oreal. Bug off botox peddlers.

Diane Keaton quote: I’m stuck in this idea that I need to be authentic…My face needs to look the way I feel. (Wow, what a concept, your forehead wrinkles when you’re perplexed, and laugh lines form when you’re amused—how very freaky!)

~~ Alice Hoffman – Alice is 57. I just had to choose a writer for the list. Wouldn’t you know? I chose her because I’m a big fan, and not only is Ms. Hoffman prolific, every single one of her books has been optioned for film. Holy smokes! And she has written several screenplays as well. All this, and she’s a breast cancer survivor. After being treated at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge Mass, she established the Hoffman Breast Center.

Alice Hoffman quoteMother’s always find ways to fit in the work—but then when you’re working, you feel that you should be spending time with your children and then when you’re with your children, you’re thinking about working.

I want to say that the world is missing a woman that I admired very much, a brilliant artist, and a wonderful mother and wife, Janice Lowry. She passed away recently and you can view her website here, janicelowry

I’m interesting in hearing about the women that you all admire, and why you admire them.

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


The Husband has been traveling around the world for a good many years, doing some very important work. He’s a certifiable globetrotter. People always ask me—don’t you go on any of these trips? Well, to be quite frank, I have accompanied him a handful of times. But, up until last year, I still had kids at home to look out for. And he pops in and out of some of these countries so quickly there really would be no point for me to tag along. All I’d see would be airplanes and hotel rooms. His traveling came to a screeching halt this last year; the derailed economy has prevented corporations from spending the money.

He’s a photographer and has shot some amazing photos during his trips. And…the best part, he would always bring me presents. The Husband has an eye for items that can’t be found down at the mall. We have a vast collection of masks, textiles, and the list goes on and on. Finally, I had to tell him. No more. Don’t bring any more.

Since we’ve moved to a smaller house, the garage remains chock full of treasures. Plastic tubs sit unpacked. Masks are still wrapped in towels and blankets. For two reasons. Reason number one: I don’t have room for everything. Reason number two: I just don’t have the heart to unpack all that stuff because we’re probably not going to stay in this house all that long, a year—maybe two. This lack of motivation to alter my surroundings is unqualifiedly uncharacteristic. I don’t want to paint. I don’t want to decorate. I don’t have it in me. Why unpack all that stuff, if I’m just going to pack it up again? We won’t want to sell anything yet. Not until we decide where we are going to go to stay for a significant amount of time. Our lives have changed immeasurably in such a short period of time.

I gave birth to my first son at the rip old age of nineteen. I’m fifty-four. I told my husband last night: yesterday afternoon, the strangest feeling came over me. I felt as if I’d forgotten the kids somewhere, that I’d neglected my motherly duties somehow. They’re all adults, off in their own little worlds, but I suddenly felt as if I’d lost them. And, I have in a way. Those kids are gone, replaced with capable adults in charge of their own lives. Just what we intended to happen, right? All these long years, my life has been extremely complicated, jammed full with five kids, and me tearing around like a chicken with her fool head chopped off, tending to their needs and wants and schooling and socializing. Our house was a den of constant activity at all times. Plus, much of the time I was working. Add that into the mix.

Now, The Husband and I work at home. Life is simple. I’m not insinuating that I’m one of those empty nesters, the kind of woman that finds herself lost without her children to define just who she is. In fact, neither my children, nor my husband, have ever been my sole reason for being. I don’t mind admitting, I’m enjoying my newfound freedom, this easy breezy lifestyle. But…I recognize that there's an adjustment to be made, deep in the recesses of my being. I am Mom, I’ll always be Mom, but my role has diminished. I am liberated. But, I need time to know I am.

When I think about it, (and that’s what I’m doing here, thinking out loud), no bloody wonder I don’t want to unpack. We are in the process of undergoing a huge adjustment period. We are in a limbo of sorts. Change is the only constant, after all.

I’ve posted a photo of the garage, (this picture doesn’t convey how much stuff is crammed in there.) And, another of the living room, (See those white walls? How boring!) That’s me taking trying to capture a beautiful ceramic of a woman on an elephant. The Husband bought her in a little shop by a lake, in Beijing, China. Incredible, he wrapped her in a sweater and packed her in his suitcase and she arrived here in the U.S. in perfect condition.

Then, there’s the church. It’s handmade, constructed of clay. This piece is from Lima, Peru, and the shop owner packaged it up and promised The Husband it would arrive in “perfect condition”. It didn’t. It was literally smashed to smithereens. Our entire family marveled as The Husband sat at the kitchen table, hot glue gun in hand, for hours upon hours, miraculously reassembling all the pieces. Amazing! I tell everyone that the little church was damaged in an earthquake. I have a story about the little village. I decorate the church for Christmas, with strings of tiny lights, and an itty-bitty wreath. I even place tiny presents in the hands of the villagers, and at their feet. I love the church, ever more special because he patched it up so carefully.

The tapestry is from New Delhi, India. The Husband found it for sale in an outdoor market. It’s very old. We hung it in the dining room.

What treasures have you accumulated? Or, are you a minimalist?

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Free Fiction That Doesn't Suck


Life changing sentence number one sounded like this, “Get out of my house.” Life changing sentence number two followed a few short seconds later. Most Evil Stepfather Ever had brusquely pushed Most Spineless Mother Ever out of his way, so he could get right up in Lindsey’s face, to add, “And don’t take the car—that car’s in my name—in case you forgot!” At least he didn't hit her, a few months before he had hauled off and slapped her right across the face for mouthing back when he was reading Most Spineless Mother Ever the riot act about something as silly as lukewarm mashed potatoes.

“Big deal, so she smoked a cigarette in bed. You can’t do this!” Most Spineless Mother Ever cried out in protest, suddenly deciding to grow a spine, defending her daughter for once--way too late. But, Most Evil Stepfather Ever could, and he did. He booted Lindsey out of the house.

Good thing, Lena,
Most Generous Acquaintance Ever, took mercy and invited Lindsey to move into her Hollywood apartment, so she wasn’t forced to camp out in a dumpster off Sunset Boulevard. Living with three sisters and two cats proved to be crazy challenging. Lindsey slept on the sofa, or, more realistically, didn’t get much sleep on the sofa. Not with the behemoth large screen TV blaring day and night, the comings and goings of the girls and their various friends and lovers, and the nonstop activity and ensuing racket taking place in the tiny kitchen. Purplish bruises appeared under her tired eyes, her clothes grew baggy, and she spent an incredible amount of time down at the library, attempting to do homework. Concentration seemed impossible. Too many worries overshadowed her ability to focus on studies.

When Most Irritating Boss Ever told her he wouldn’t extend her hours at the dry-cleaning plant, Lindsey decided to look for another job. Peri, Most Faithful Friend Ever, brought her to meet his aunt. The Aunt’s name was Judy Klein, and she had quit working as a television producer to open a little shop on Melrose called, The Luscious Cupcake. Lindsey felt miniscule and plain sitting across from glamorous Judy in her glamorous office. “We sell cupcakes, and nothing but cupcakes,” Judy said. “We stay focused.”

“Well,” Lindsey replied, trying to sound savvy, “your customers are lined up out the door and onto the sidewalk. You must be doing something right.”

Judy, (Lindsey automatically nick-named her Most Luscious Cupcake Ever), leaned forward, narrowed her eyes, and said, “Exactly. Cupcakes, cupcakes, cupcakes! Made with only the finest and freshest ingredients. Oversized and over-the-top. Scrumptious and stunning. Let me ask you this,” she lowered her voice to a near whisper, “do you love cupcakes?”

Lindsey preferred pie, coconut cream in particular, but had a brain in her head, so her answer was constructed to impress, “I do! I love cupcakes. Doesn’t everyone?”
Most Luscious Cupcake Ever sighed, “Unfortunately, some sweet-tooth’s prefer candy, it’s hard to believe, but true.”

“Candy can’t hold a candle to cupcakes,” Lindsey quipped.

Judy plucked a pen out of her sculpted pen vase, “Say that again,” she said.

Lindsey placed her finger on her dimpled chin and did her best to repeat what she’d just come up with, Johnny on the spot. “I think I said, candy can’t hold a candle to cupcakes.”

“I love it!” Judy declared. As she wrote Lindsey’s words down on a notepad, Peri winked at Lindsey. Peri’s eyes were the same shade of periwinkle as his Aunt Judy’s. That’s why he’d changed his name from Bill to Peri. As usual, her heart sank a bit when he smiled her way, because dear sweet Peri was gay, and would never love her. Well, he loved her, he told her all the time, but not in the way she wanted him to love her.

“I’ll start you out at the counter,” announced Judy. “You’ll work your way into the kitchen. You all do, sooner or later.”

Over sushi that evening, (Peri ate little else), Lindsey said, “Most Luscious Cupcake Ever didn’t even ask if I knew anything about cooking. Doesn’t she care if I possess such skills?”

“Not really,” Peri said, as he examined a generous piece of tuna. “There’s plenty to do in that kitchen besides baking, silly. I spent three days back there after I left school, popping cupcakes in pink boxes and tying them up in ribbon before they hired me down at Warner Brothers. So I should know.”

“How was it, working at The Luscious Cupcake?”

“Sweet, and busy. Busy, and sweet. I remember smelling like cotton candy at the end of the day.”

“Not so bad,” Lindsey said. “Better than working in that boring old hot dry cleaning plant. I can’t thank you enough for hooking me up with your aunt for this job, Peri. The hours are perfect. I’ll be able to finish all my classes. And hopefully, once I get a few paychecks under my belt I can find a less crowded place to live.”

Traveling on the bus suited Lindsey.
Most Evil Stepfather Ever’s car had been a constant source of anxiety and responsibility, she didn't miss it. L.A. wasn’t the ideal city to try to make a go of it without a car, but she made it work. It wasn’t always easy to get to The Luscious Cupcake early enough so she could change into her costume/uniform, tease and sweep up her hair, and apply the required make-up. Judy insisted that they wear a French-maid-meets-I-Love-Lucy-outfit, complete with hot pink patent leather high-heeled shoes. Torture devices. Lindsey’s blisters had developed blisters.

“I think I speak for everyone when I tell you; these stilettos have to go,” Lindsey boldly addressed her new boss, after only a few days on the job.

Judy fell back into her chair/throne and gasped. “But the shoes complete the look.”

According to Most Luscious Cupcake Ever, if she’d learned anything being in showbiz all those years, it was that sex is what sells just about everything, and her cupcakes were primo sexy. Her staff must embody that sexiness, in a wholesome, appetizing manner. Lindsey tread carefully, suggesting, “We could complete the look with footwear that doesn’t hobble us, couldn’t we? We could be appetizing in flats.”

Appreciative co-workers showered Lindsey with compliments and gifts after Judy agreed to order far more suitable/but still super-cute shoes for them to work in. “You saved my life,” Most Amazing Amazon Woman Ever said. Her real name was Wendy, and she was really an actress. Wendy bought Lindsey a pack of Marlboro Lights and a Red Bull to show her gratitude. They sat at the bus stop together, inhaling and exhaling and sipping in unison. “All I do is soak my feet,” Wendy said. “And then I have to beg my self-centered boyfriend to rub them. I swear; I ought to break up with him and find a more giving dude, someone that would rub my feet just because he wanted to. Somebody I wouldn’t have to nag.

Nobody had ever rubbed her feet. Lindsey wasn’t so sure she’d like the feeling; it would surely tickle, and she was exceedingly ticklish. “Well, hopefully your feet won’t be so sore anymore, after we start wearing the new shoes,” Wendy said.

“My aunt’s throwing a dinner party tonight, and we’re invited,” Peri announced. “Do you have anything decent to wear? Celebrities, and movers and shakers will be in attendance.”

“I’m not so sure I belong in a room full celebrities," Lindsey admitted. "Let alone movers and shakers. What do they move and shake anyway?”

“Tinsel town, they move and shake tinsel town.” He studied his profile in the mirror, which hung opposite the entry door to his apartment. Peri had many mirrors of various shapes and sizes hanging in strategic locations. Most Faithful Friend Ever suffered from the delusion that his nose was gargantuan, and she could see him imagining it smaller. He was wrong. His honker did fit his face. For one thing Peri had a prominent brow and jaw, really high cheekbones, and an equally prominent nose, the nose served to perform a delicate balancing act. Lindsey had told him so about a hundred times, doing her level best to discourage him from going under the knife. Talking him out of having rhinoplasty. In her opinion, that hideous name alone, rhinoplasty, should have been deterrent enough.

“Can’t you bring Floyd?” She whined. Peri had misled her earlier in the day over the phone. He’d suggested they go see a lesbian play in an obscure little backstreet theater located in an industrial park in Santa Monica, the actresses were scheduled to perform several scenes in the nude, and they couldn’t help but find the prospect of artful nudity extremely intriguing.

“Floyd’s out of the picture. We don’t talk about him.”


“I don’t and you don’t. That qualifies as the big We.”

“Please, let’s skip Judy’s and go see the play as agreed. I’m not even hungry.” It was Lindsey’s turn, time to study her reflection. She was still wearing the make-up she wore to work at The Luscious Cupcake. Her frosting was melting. She was unappetizing. “Look at me. I’m scary.”

“What a liar! You’re always hungry. You’re the hungriest person I know,” Peri declared. He would get his way. Peri always got his way. “I’ll do your make-up. You’ll be fabulously fabulous, in no time.”

Most Luscious Cupcake Ever, AKA Judy, was doing her best impression of Holly Golightly, although she didn’t go so far as to carry around one of those cigarette thingymajiggers. Her apartment was sparsely furnished and surprisingly Plain Jane, to say the least. She had poured all her time, energy and money into her business. That much was obvious. Round rental tables covered in cloths of Judy’s favored Pepto Bismol Pink dotted the room. Instead of floral arrangements colorful cupcake towers stood in the middle of each table.

A catering company had set up shop on her patio: one buffet for food, one for cocktails. Peri procured a Manhattan for himself and a lemon drop martini for Lindsey, shortly after they arrived—which had been tad on the early side. Normally, Peri loathed showing his pretty face before parties got into full swing, but he had promised his aunt to come by to offer advice, if advice were needed. The only change Peri made—he suggested Judy change her bracelet. “I don’t like bangles,” he told her. She ran into her bedroom to remove the offending jewelry.

“See,” he whispered, after handing over Lindsey’s drink, his full lips close to her ear, sending shivers down her spine, “that’s Shyrl Perkins. She broke up with the Channel 2 weekend weatherman. He wasn’t even prime time! Nobody could understand her giving him the time of day anyway.” Peri had missed his calling, he was an editor, but should have been a gossip hound.

Shyrl Perkins didn’t look the least bit heartbroken as she carried on a conversation with Judy. Judy was giggling, a behavior Lindsey had never witnessed her participate in.

“Don’t look now,” Peri added, “but Slinky Slinky just walked in.”

“He doesn’t appreciate being referred to as Slinky Slinky anymore,” Lindsey advised. How she'd retained such information puzzled her. She immediately came to the conclusion that she must be absorbing celebrity trivia from Most Faithful Friend Ever like a sponge absorbs dishwater.

“Ew, up close he’s got bad skin,” Peri said. “How disappointing.”

The night wore on. Lindsey was a fish out of water longing to jump ship. Peri, on the other hand was in his element.

Most Luscious Cupcake Ever found Lindsey out on the patio where she had struck up a relationship with Jim the bartender. He was keeping her in cold Corona’s and Marlboros, and by the time Judy found her, she was tipsy but not so drunk that she didn’t know she was on the verge of becoming plastered. After having switched to beer after abandoning the cloying lemon drop martini Lindsey had really been on a roll. Judy handed her a cupcake. Lindsey didn’t have the heart to tell her boss, cupcakes and beer weren’t exactly a going concern.

“Did you try the Chicken Marsala?” Judy asked.

Lindsey had no idea what she was talking about. Eying the chocolate cupcake, it called to her, she heard, “Bite me, bite me, come on, bite me!”

“Lindsey? Did you eat anything?” Judy wanted to know.

She chomped down on the chocolaty goodness, and answered with a full mouth, saying, in a garbled fashion, “Am now.”

The sugar from the cupcake and the alcohol from five beers combined, and Lindsey passed out at some point and ended up sleeping on a futon in Judy’s home office. When she woke in the morning, working up the courage to venture out, she discovered the tables and little white folding chairs were gone, and the apartment had been stripped of any indication of the previous night’s festivities. Most Luscious Cupcake Ever wore no make-up, and her workout clothes, and still looked luscious.

“How’s your head,” Judy asked.

It seemed so very strange to wake up at her boss’s apartment, embarrassing really. “I’m okay,” she lied. Honestly, Lindsey could have hurled on the spot. Excusing herself, she went to the bathroom. She hung out in there for quite some time, sitting on the floor with her cheek resting against the cool tiled wall, at least until Peri started banging on the door and calling her name.

“Lindsey, you still breathing?”

Lindsey then heard life changing sentence number three, when Judy told Peri, “That girl is wasting her beauty and youth. I ought to know, I did the same exact thing.”

“You're beauty's still intact, silly. Besides, don't you know? That’s what youth and beauty are for Aunt Judy,” Peri exclaimed. “Youth and beauty exist to be exploited!”

Her response? Most Luscious Cupcake Ever told her nephew, “You know, I find it extremely frightening, the idea that you might really believe that nonsense.”

Life changing sentence number four came directly from Lindsey’s mouth, when she reluctantly agreed to move in with
Most Formally Spineless Mother Ever, after she dumped Most Evil Stepfather/Husband Ever. “Okay Mom, I'll move in with you,” she said. “But you’ve got to promise me that he’s out of your life forever.”

They were renting month to month. Oakwood, the gigantic complex they chose, was chock full of stage mothers. Other Mom’s kept mistaking Lindsey’s mother for one of them. She had to tell them, “My daughter’s not an actress. She’s a student, studying to be a doctor.

Once the recession took hold like some creepy clawed horror movie monster, Judy couldn’t sell enough cupcakes to keep the doors open, and unfortunately The Luscious Cupcake closed down and Lindsey lost her job. It seemed, to her way of thinking, all those out of work people, the poor souls that lost their fortunes to Bernie Madoff, and the despondent homeowners facing foreclosure could have used an over-the-top cupcake, and the immediate kick in the pants that only a nice sugar boost could provide. But Judy claimed most customers had turned their attention, and their pocketbooks, to booze and cheap microwavable food. Sales were through the roof in liquor stores, and the frozen food isles at Trader Joe's were packed.

Most Luscious Cupcake Ever was lucky enough to get her old job back. As she put it, Hollywood keeps on keeping on through thick and thin. And wouldn’t you know it, she managed to get Lindsey hired on as a part-time receptionist. At least she didn’t have to get all dolled up to go to work anymore, jeans and a presentable shirt were acceptable attire.

Lindsey spent a lot of time thinking about whether or not she was indeed wasting her youth and beauty. She wasn’t sure about the beauty part. Come on, how do you go about wasting beauty? Beauty just is and then it’s gone. But the youth part, she did understand what Judy meant about that, because a person is only young for just so long. Lindsey was out to prove Peri wrong. We ought not exploit our youth and beauty, she decided. And, putting her money where her mouth was, she quit smoking. She gave up her preferred corn-syrup-laden energy drink—cold turkey, and began drinking boring old H2O instead. She began working out in the gym in the complex with Most Trying So Hard To Be Supportive Mom Ever. Hey, if she wanted to be a doctor, (a pediatrician), she'd better start walking the walk and talking the talk.

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley. Steal this story and karma will bite you!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Inside Their World

I adore books. No big surprise there. The Husband and I have amassed quite a collection. And, coffee table books abound. One of my favorites is, Writer’s Houses, by Francesca Premoli-Droulers, prologue by Marguerite Duras and Photography by Erica Lennard, and put out by The Vendome Press. If you are as fascinated as I am by how authors live and write I highly recommend you get your mitts on this book. It’s wonderful.

Three years ago, my daughter was being oriented at her new school, The Fashion Design Center of Merchandising and Design, in Los Angeles. While she was taken by the arm by the director, I was told to go off and amuse myself. I went to the museum housed near the courtyard of the school, where costumes from Oscar winning films were on display, and marveled at the workmanship and differing aspects of the varied collections, then browsed through a gift shop, eventually making my way to the bookstore. What a bookstore! Not big, but as you can imagine, chock full of volume after volume of wonderful selections.

I found Writer's Houses and had to have it. There was only one copy, and the cover was messed up, but I didn’t care.

Can you imagine being lucky enough to be Ms. Premoli-Droulers, or the photographer, Ms. Lennard? What a great job! I would love to peek around in the marvelous settings depicted in this wonderful book.

Karen Blixen, (Isak Dinesen) Author Out of Africa. (1885-1962)
--All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them.
--I don't believe in evil, I believe only in horror. In nature there is no evil, only an abundance of horror: the plagues and the plights and the ants and the maggots.

Ernest Hemingway Author The Old Man and the Sea. (1899-1961)
--All my life I've looked at words as if I were seeing them for the first time.
--It is none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.

Virginia Woolf Author To the Lighthouse. (1882-1941)
--A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.
--Arrange whatever pieces come you way.

Currently, I have been doing most of my writing in the kitchen. Although I have "a room of my own". When the kids were still living at home I had to try and write amongst the noise and activities of our growing family, now that I am free (supposedly) to go to my lovely office to work, I don't. Why? Because I've got FOUR dogs to care for. And we don't let them have the run of the house, or it would be absolute mayhem. I'm afraid being strapped with a chihuahua from one daughter, (temporarily) and a rambunctious puppy from another daughter, (indeterminately), has complicated our lives enormously. Poor Duncan and Bonnie, (My two older dogs.) They want to come upstairs to be with me, (like they used to do), but I can't bring the others. If I leave the other dogs behind they whine and cry like infants. The chihuahua's cries unhinge me! Little Lita can make BIG sounds, unnerving sounds. So, here I am pecking away at the kitchen table. Such is life.

I took three pictures, (from the book), of three author's rooms. I've named three authors and have supplied two quotes from each one. Then you tell me if you can match the room, #1, #2, or #3 to the correct author. Where do you write? And what writer’s do you admire and why?

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sittin' Outside

It’s not as hot today, don’t get me wrong, it’s warm, but we’re in the double digits as opposed to triple.

The light is changing. When you live in Southern California the signs of Autumn’s arrival are much more subtle than in most climes. Mostly, I’m looking forward to spending more time outdoors, once the weather cools down a bit. We moved from a property with acreage to a small yard back in June. We’ve set up several seating areas outside. Now that the heat is on its way out we may even have a chance to use the fire pit again, we haven’t used it since we first moved in before it got so hot. Our front porch is shady in the afternoons, and a great place to watch the neighborhood kids fly by on their skateboards or bikes. Our backyard is small, but has a view of the Santa Rosa Plateau, and the sunsets.

Tonight we’re grilling steaks and I’m making potatoes and salad. Just kicking back. The one photo shows my two cairn terriers, (think Toto), lying in the sun after their bath this morning. Ah, what a life.

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.