Thursday, January 28, 2010

More Monsters

Suburban Monster at Dawn

Robert was confident he could squeeze himself through the front door, but once he ate the child, getting out would be more difficult.

Happy Thursday. Mwah ha ha ha...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Suburban Monster at Twilight

She was usually so clumsy she feared she would knock over the ladder and totally blow her cover.

Distractions and Monsters

monster sketches

I just had to close one my tabs because I couldn't stop myself from watching another video clip with the producers of LOST. I'm that obsessed. It's starting again next Tuesday and I'm already trying to figure out how I'm going to get my kids to bed a half hour earlier than normal so I can watch the two hour premiere because it's my husband's bass guitar lesson night. In fact, I should really just get him to switch nights for the next four months. It's that important. OK it's not really that important. But it's exciting. It's the only show I watch, besides Glee which is off the air until April. Humor me.

I'm also distracted by the fact that I think we are moving. I'm not sure exactly how and when but I think soon. So that's the when. The how part remains a mystery. We need more space. So we met with a realtor and started figuring out what we might list at and a rough time line. But then I can't quite get my head around where we live after that. Do we rent something? In a better school district? Do we find another house? Can we even afford anything? California sucks in that way. So I'm distracted by MLS Listings and craigslist. And I'm dreaming of houses but worried about sinking all our money back into a real estate nightmare.

And all of this explains why I have been drawing little houses with monsters hiding in the landscaping. In fact the houses are Eichlers which are little, modern-looking houses that were built by Joseph Eichler in the fifties, sixties and seventies in parts of California - namely Orange County, where I grew up, and Palo Alto, close to where we live now and where the school district is better, where even the puny ones (950 sf) cost about 1.5 million. Welcome to the nightmare. What's ironic is I used to hate Eichlers. They're a little Brady Bunchy. Marsha Marsha Marsha!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Separation Anxiety


It's tax season. The time of year when the psycho Virgo in me goes into overdrive. How could such a darling little girl turn into the nutcase described in this magnet?  I start making spreadsheets and filing all kinds of little paper things into accordion style filers. I make piles. I label. And, feeling empowered, I log on to Intuit. I feel there's nothing sexier than a woman who does her own taxes which I always do except for one year when my bother's tax preparer did them because we had w-2s from three states, a new house, a small business and a new, small baby. But the next year I realized that I could probably do them better myself because the small business (remember, the one I started even before Mishmish Studio that was a miserable failure because I spent so much time focused on trying to promote the work that I never actually created anything?) was getting smaller by the minute. And the baby and the house were under control too.

But now. Well now the business is what I do. And it's kind of getting bigger by the minute. Or at least in my fantasy world where I also have magical powers and great hair. And even though some days it still just feels like a hobby, especially days when I neither paint, nor promote nor sell a darn thing (those days suck), I still treat what I do like a business. Except that I don't. I don't have a separate bank account or a separate credit card.


I don't even know why. I have the credit card application sitting on my desk for like three weeks now. And I just have to go down to the bank and set up the account. Truth is I did have a separate account for that old business but there was so little money in there every month I was paying more in fees than I was depositing. I think I have anxiety that this will again be the case. Insecurity really blows.

Which brings up another point. When I was in my coaching workshop and had to set goals and be held accountable every month, I GOT SHIT DONE. Now, I get measurably less shit done. So I'm going to try a little experiment. I'm going to put a few important "to dos" on this blog every Monday and see if I can't get them done by week's end. And then if I don't, I'll have to answer to you guys. So try to act a little more menacing if that's possible. A little more threatening. Because right now you're all very sweet and understanding and that is just not going to cut it.

So for this week:
1. Send in my credit card application
2. Open a business bank account

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Locals

 Art work by Allison Strine

In the last few weeks something crazy has started to happen. Local artists have started coming out of the woodwork. Or maybe I've opened myself up to being found. I got an email from a woman named Melissa who is very well known in the ketubah making community. Her work is beautiful and she is the master of search engine optimization. You google any kind of Jewish Gay Interfaith Multicultural Buddhist Polygamist Ketubah and she will have a landing page with some general info and the links to her real website. It's genius.

So she found me on ETSY and she emailed me! And she lives five minutes from me and wants to have coffee! Which we're still trying to plan.  So I emailed her back telling her how flattered I was that she would reach out and how I really admire her work and she wrote back more nice things and soon we're swooning over each other and once we can finally get coffee on the calendar we'll meet and I'll tell you all about how great she is in person. Did I mention she moonlights as a jazz singer?

And then the very same week Marcy from ETSY Chai, the Jewish ETSY team that I'm on, emailed to tell me that she put me in a treasury and would I be interested in meeting because she lives about twenty minutes away. OF COURSE! So we meet and she's adorable and makes wonderful pottery and does a lot of craft shows and we might even do a show together this October and have side by side booths!

But wait, there's more. I went to see a Jackie Greene concert in Santa Cruz last Saturday which was UNBELIEVABLE. My brothers have been obsessed with this guy for years and I finally get it. He's AWESOME. My oldest brother was leaving for Mexico for two months and this was basically his going away party. And while we're hanging around waiting for Jackie to roll my brother introduces me to a girl from his soccer team named Laamie who it turns out reads my blog! And she was so excited to meet me because she's also an artist and has two kids the same ages as mine. But she was so modest and it turns out that she is quickly becoming the next biggest thing in assemblage jewelry and fashion design and recently scored a contract with Anthropologie! Hello!??!

And it also turns out that the woman who is renting my brother's place while he's gone is a big time jewelry designer who lives eight months out of the year in Indonesia sourcing and designing her pieces and the other part apparently living in my brother's house! Go to her website and you'll see a picture of OPRAH wearing her earrings! Then go to her story page and you'll see a picture of her with a giant grin which my brother says is because she's sleeping in his Tempur-Pedic bed. I don't know this girl yet, but she's only one degree away so it's only a matter of time.

And then yesterday I received a beautiful print in the mail from the wonderful Allison Strine whose talent and humor is a daily inspiration to me. I actually reached out to her! Misanthropic me!  So this lovely print arrived yesterday which maybe explains why so many wonderful artists are finding their way to my little corner of the world. I guess my creative slip is showing.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Peace emerges

Sabbath Sky
"Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal."
- Martin Luther King Jr.

The tree in this piece forms the letter shin with its branches, which in Hebrew is the first letter of the word SHALOM and can also symbolize the name of god. It emerges from the chaotic wilderness on earth and lifts toward a peaceful sky. A sky full of promise.

Friday, January 15, 2010

He is especially interested in electricity


Last night I finally sat down to do my son's kindergarten application. We decided to apply to the Jewish Day School in our neighborhood after we took a tour and the woman assured us there is plenty of financial aid. We never planned to send our son to private school but have you heard about California lately? How we have the lowest debt rating of any state in the country? And the worst education? I think we even beat out Mississippi for last place. Our district has a few great schools actually but ours is not one of them. So we're also applying to a great "choice program" (within our district) which has a lottery admission system. I'm a public school girl myself, straight through graduate school and we always said we'd go that route for our kids. But then it's time to sign up and it's actually your kid and not some hypothetical kid and well you kind of want him or her to have a music and arts education and opportunities to learn, I don't know, science.

But we're only applying to this one private school. I considered the Waldorf school in our area after I went there and just about died when I saw their felting studio. I was ready to repeat kindergarten myself. But then I saw their application and the question asking about my birth experience and I was like, great actually but that's none of your effing business. 

This post had a point (Aimee - you should make that a magnet). Right. So I was filling out the application and had to answer some questions about my son - specifically his academic, social and emotional strengths. Here's what I came up with for the first part:

Our son is a very curious, energetic and imaginative little boy. He loves words and was a conversationalist, even on the phone, from an early age. He has an excellent memory and understands concepts like process of elimination and patterning and he asks a lot of annoying questions that I can't answer because I apparently don't know anything is very interested to know how everything works. He is especially obsessed with interested in electricity. But not in a Unibomber kind of way. 

I like to call his latest installation "Plugged In." He found a power strip and plugged it into itself (thus preventing him from plugging it into the wall and blowing himself up). He then went around the house finding every small appliance connecting it to the power strip. And he found a splitter too so he could add more plugs. I'm freezing my ass off as we speak because my heater is part of his creation.

The last part of the questionnaire, in response to "what do you hope your child will get out of our program" or something like that ended with: We hope that our son continues to develop the kind of self-confidence he’ll need to celebrate his quirky wonderful self every day of his life.

Thursday, January 14, 2010



Original animals

I've decided to put some of my originals up for sale in my ETSY shop. I'm slowly getting them listed but if you sign up for my newsletter (which I send out every 2-3 months) you'll be ready to go snag one before they get shipped off to New Hampshire for the Enormous Tiny Art show next week. Exciting! You'll also find the code to get 20% off anything with a tree in it. And find out why I'm doing such a silly sale.

Sign up here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Corner View - Holiday


The holidays seem like a hundred years ago now. We celebrated each night of Hanukkah with different friends. The kids lit candles, opened gifts, spun the dreidle, sang songs. Now that they're older we're really enjoying the holiday. Although I think I may have to re-evaluate my gifting strategy for next year and reverse the one present per night policy. My son would wake up every morning and pester me about his gift the entire day. Can he have a hint? First letter? How big? That got old. But it's hard to compete with Christmas. Not that it's a competition. But Christmas never backs off. The commercial part of it anyway. It's always bigger than life. Even during a recession. This year I finally got questions like, why can't we have lights on our house like everyone else? And so it begins. We're not like everyone else. We make our own light. And our own chanukkiah (that's what we call a menorah)! The idea for the rocks covered in tissue paper came from Aimee. By the eighth night it felt like an inferno. And for Christmas we did like all good Jews. We went to the movies while my mom babysat.

To see how holidays were spent around the world, visit Jane and take the tour.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The last day of the decade


On the last day of the last decade I somehow got wrangled into selling these silly glow-in-the-dark 2000 glasses. You know, where the two middle zeros are for your eyes? Seriously. I was living with my boyfriend in Israel at the time and a guy I knew, the boyfriend of a friend, had this idea to make lots of money selling these things around the country and he convinced me to be his "Southern Region Representative." I don't even remember what the split was but maybe I made a buck for every pair. So imagine this American girl standing in front of the mall trying to pawn these things off. I won't even make you imagine. Here's a picture.

I mean people must have thought I was a total lunatic. Toward the end of the day I called the dealer guy and told him I was still sitting on a giant stack but I was done because this was not how I was spending the last day of the friggin decade. The MILLENNIUM, for the love of ginger! And he was annoyed. And I was like, back off mon frere (he was French). He actually wanted me to stand outside the clubs downtown at night and sell these things. Um, no. I made one final attempt to offload in bulk at one of the clubs to no avail. So I washed my hands of this venture, went home to finish making my dance mix CDs for the party that my future brother-in-law was throwing, and, freed of my obligations, I partied like it was 1999.

Flash foward ten years. On the last day of this decade (a great one by the way) we decided to take our kids skiing for the first time, an equally ridiculous notion. We piled on the clothes, piled them into the van and drove over to rent our equipment. Except there's a giant line and no one has our reservation  and it's a hundred degrees in there and unfortunately the 12-person family of first-time skiers from Mexico has walked in before us. Fantastico.

We finally get our stuff and go out to the van except my brother-in-law can't find the keys to the other car (we took two cars fully expecting my son to hate skiing and want to come home). We look everywhere. No keys. So we drive home in the van. As he walks in the door he realizes the keys are in his boot. Apparently he missed his bib pocket and the keys slid all the way down his ski pants. I'm not sure how you don't feel something like that but ok. We fuel up on protein and carbs and pile the kids back in the van.

Finally around 2:00 we make it to the slope and, after some initial concern, both my kids learned to ski. It was actually totally incredible. My daughter went down a few times held by her armpits but my son actually learned how to ski by himself and stop by himself (more important). We were completely amazed. I love when that kid surprises me.

Later that evening we went out for dinner and ended up at cocktail party discussing New Mexico's budget crisis with the State Secretary of Finance who was very interesting but could not pick up on social cues, like the one where you look at your watch and yawn. We also had lively conversation with a sexologist and his partner who does PR. Get me out of here! The evening ended with me going to sleep at 11:30.

Flash forward another ten years. I'm sitting with my husband at our favorite restaurant in the yet to be determined place where we finally settled down. Our son, who is FIFTEEN is at home watching our daughter, 13 and our twins (just kidding chamud, only one more...) because we paid him $300 since the going rate for babysitters is now $50/hour (holy crap). We're celebrating the success of my third book (a novel about a mom who has a very active imagination - somewhat autobiographical) and my husband's most recent invention (a hearing aid that wraps around your head like a turban because after years and years of devices getting smaller and smaller, giga is the new nano).

Can you hear us giggling? It's because we still feel like we're 26.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Room with a View

That's what we thought when we bought our house six years ago. Just get in this crazy San Francisco Bay Area market. It will go up. You'll triple your money. Who cares if you're leveraged up the wazoo. You'll just mortgage your wazoo. So we bought our little birdhouse and it was great. And we could afford it since we paid NO INTEREST. And we were just the two of us so it felt kind of spacious even though I was the size of a whale pregnant with my son. In fact, we loved our little house. We still love it. But now that we're four and not two, it's a little tight. And even though there's a giant park across the street, it's not like we can just send our two small kids over there to play by themselves. It's not the seventies after all. Plus, we need a second bathroom. It's time. My kid's are starting to ask questions when "Aunt Flow" comes to visit. What's that mommy? A diaper? I can't deal.

Not to mention needing a proper studio. I need space! I don't want to put away my art supplies all the time. I don't want to only use one kind of art supply because there's no room for any more. Feeling kind of stifled artistically. CONFINED.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Eye candy

What is it about little kids in snow clothes that makes you want to pop one in your mouth and eat it? Maybe it's the resemblance to salt water taffy.

And in case you're wondering Where's Waldo?

He's spoken for.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Other Happiest Place on Earth

Before we got married my husband and I traveled around the world for nine months. I would send very long emails to my people every couple of weeks. Once, while we were in Kathmandu, I wrote the mother of all emails about our journey through Thailand and then the power went out. Bye bye email. So me and the Welsh guy at the next terminal spent a few minutes cursing Nepal and the fucking ox that probably just tripped over the city's main electrical power line. And then we met my husband for a drink and I wrote an even better email the next day.

So let's just say that a lumbering ox named Blogger just deleted the blog entry I'd been writing for the last 45 minutes. Somehow the whole thing got erased just as it was auto-saving. Thanks for nothing auto-save. But let's assume that this version will be even better than what I just wrote. And I'll be able to write it in only ten minutes. Blind typing.

And let's also assume that my New Year's resolution was not to write in my blog every day. Obviously. Or even once a week at this rate. But I've been away visiting family in New Mexico. And I have a million stories to tell from the trip which is why I haven't been able to write because there's too much to write and isn't that always how it goes? So I will get through the stories slowly and probably not chronologically because that would feel like work. And I'm lazy.

I will tell you that on this trip I discovered heaven. Until now I've only really had a clear vision of hell. It's muggy in a way that leaves my hair permanently frizzy; there are thousands of two year olds  having tantrums; it is very dusty and full of state employees; I can only wear polyester; I always have my period and there are many, many cats. But, until now, I did not have as clear an image of heaven. My happy place, if you will. The place where I could go when I needed to shut out everything. There have been contenders. A lake by a mountain. Too many mosquitoes. A tranquil beach. Sand in my tushy.

But on this trip I found it. It's called Jackalope. Feast your eyes on this treasure of trove of handmade. Handsewn. Handcut. Handcarved. Handpainted. Handed over from an assembly line in China. This is a giant warehouse of chingaderas (little fucking things). Paper cut flags, oil cloth by the yard, lanterns, pottery, blown glass, worry dolls, day glow skulls, Frida magnets, baskets, furniture, embroidered everything, anything you could possibly need for a Dia de los Muertos celebration, carvings, lucha libre lunch boxes and sombreros.


And you bet your culo I bought my daughter one of these little embroidered dresses which I, against my better judgment, let her wear to preschool her first day back and which came home in a baggy smeared with paint. But I washed it out and she is ready to reprise her role as Frida for Halloween 2010.

And lucky me, I got to share heaven with two favorite women, my mommy and my sister in law. We left our husbands at home with our kids and spent the afternoon patrolling the plaza, drinking Mexican hot chocolate and finally arriving at this marvelous retreat. And as we are admiring a stack of woven carpets, I hear a faint cry. Mommy. That must be in my head.


But behold! It was not in my head. It was my kids! And my niece and nephew! In a wagon! Apparently their fathers, not knowing where we had ended up, had taken all the kids to see Alvin and the Chipmunks but it was sold out and in an act of desperation they came to Jackalope because not only does this place have every tchotchke known to man, it also has a petting zoo where you can feed donkeys. And a glass blower. Well you don't feed the glass blower. Just the donkeys.

And I thought, huh. Who invited my kids to my happy place? But there they were. Jumping around, screaming with glee and nearly bowling over a row of three foot St. Francis de Asisis. But I was very happy to share my happy place with them. And happier still when their father took them home in a separate car.