I'm sorry I haven't been able to check in more frequently. Between the usual health and financial worries, (It's not that bad, really, things are looking up), Halloween, and the upcoming fashion show, I've been pretty busy. I've been writing like a madwoman. I'm the MC and I didn't realize I would have to write the text of the show and read it word for word from a book because Annamarie, who is our stage manager needs to know when to send the models out. I was just going to wing it. What was I thinking? Anyway, I only learned about this late Friday night, and wasn't able to turn my attention to this until after our usual Halloween madness, which only left me with two days until my deadline, so here I've been furiously scribbling away, trying to make some sense out of all of my notes.
I'm so looking forward to next week when I'll finally get to take a break and try to catch up with myself. Of course there are always things that need doing, it really never stops long enough around here for me to take a long enough break to gather my energy and thoughts, but it will be enough of a break for me to recharge a bit.
I had a meeting last night with Mary, (This is a different Mary from my friend who helped put this whole thing in motion, this Mary is on the Mod Con committee, and works for A&E), who is one of the many generous women who have been working so tirelessly to help us pull off this fashion show. She had borrowed a lot of our old family photographs and press materials, had them scanned, and is putting them into a power point slide presentation that will be shown behind me on the stage while I speak. We worked until eleven last night coordinating the photographs with my text. I think it's going to be really good. There are some gorgeous photos of my Mother and Grandmother and their dresses. Aside from the Bette Davis picture that everyone has been using I have one of Ruby Keeler, Olivia de Havilland, Anne Miller, and someone else, shoot, I can't remember, I'm too tired.
My friend, and our vet, Dr. Gary Adams, is in the hospital with a serious infection of some kind. He's been very ill and only just got out of the ICU. I called him yesterday to try to cheer him up and to let him know that we care. I don't know what exactly it is that he has, and hope to learn more when we go to visit him. I asked him if he wanted me to sneak his Boston Terrier, Jack, in to see him, and he said that his friends had her and that she was okay. I just feel so bad for him, this is the third serious health problem he's had since July, I think.
I've been trying to talk Beau into watching a Halloween episode of My So Called Life with me that I taped because I think he'll like it. I love this show, what a pity it was on for such a short time. I think Claire Danes is wonderful. Did you see Shopgirl? What did you think? I liked it even though I hate the true life kind of reality that it's based on. I hate heartache and the kind of ambivalence and fear of intimacy and commitment in men that can cause it.
I'm watching Storyville with James Spader, Joanne Whalley, Jason Robards and Charlotte Lewis, (Whatever happened to her? She used to be in everything), because I asked my DVR to record anything with the word New Orleans in it. I've got Cops in New Orleans, a special Court TV documentary called NOPD: After Katrina, about the police trying to cope just after the hurricanes, a couple of movies, and several home tour and ghost story shows. Late last night I watched a movie about robbers stuck in a bar in New Orleans that was directed by Kevin Spacey. I guess I thought if I could find anything with footage of New Orleans the way it was before Katrina that I would feel a sense of connection to the past, a past that I had long hoped to play a part in, but could never make the time or find the money to.
Our cats Mouse and Silky are at the vets with I don't know what, and some of the cats here have pretty bad colds. This happens whenever the weather begins to turn cold. I am going to have to put Brownie rat to sleep soon and I am dreading this. He has a fatty tumor that has grown so big that he is becoming uncomfortable. Loving rats can really suck.
Most of leaves on the beautiful trees that line our street fell today. Our sidewalks, yard, and driveways look so beautiful, all golden brown and orange. I love when this happens. Usually it begins to happen in the weeks leading up to Halloween which means I'm able to use the piles and piles of crunchy fall colored leaves in our landscaping. I like to create little mounds of leaves in front of the headstones because it makes it look a little like there are freshly buried body beneath the earth.
Aside from all the cute kids and my many kind and complimentary neighbors, one of the true highlights of Halloween for me this year was when my high school principal and homeroom teacher, Sister Collette and Sister Eileen, walked over from their house and sat with us on the porch for an hour or so.
I don't think they've ever done this before. Our visits are always at their home or on impromptu walks around the neighborhood. I was so thrilled and honored to have them here. I so adore them. For all their kindness and depth they are actually very tiny women, which always surprises me, because they are so important to me that in my mind, they are quite large. To see them sitting there, so plain with their short hair cuts and simple clothes, looking a bit elderly and fragile, yet so gracious and charming, was such a moving experience. I feel very protective of them.
I really love them and can never quite get over my amazing luck at having both of my grammar school and high school principals, and several of my teachers move in right down the street from me. It seems fated somehow, and the fact that they came over on Halloween and joined us in passing out candy, felt like a kind of blessing.
Esther's husband Hugo, who has embraced Christianity in that uniquely fanatical way that only the truly desperate do, (Did anyone see last night's episode of Trading Spouses, if you didn't you really should try to see next week's follow up episode, it was INSANE), thinks that all Halloween related celebrations are the work of El Diablo, and I'm always trying to hold his hand through our annual doings around here.
I am so happy that finding religion has replaced his outrageously destructive and seriously advanced alcoholism, but when someone holds on that tight, tighter than these good sisters who have devoted their entire lives to God, I think something is out of balance. Having their stamp of approval on our wildly overdecorated yard and home helped some in pointing out to him that not all Catholics think Halloween is some evil celebration of the devil. Even Sister Eileen and Sister Colette can talk about the origins of this Celtic/Druid holiday and get excited about it, but maybe that's because we share a common ancestry and a love of all things Irish.
I procrastinated until the last second over having a zipper sewn into the back of one of the dresses that is going to be worn in the fashion show on Sunday. I've had it in the back of my car for over a month and kept putting it off. I finally found a seamstress today who could do it by tomorrow night, but she needed me to buy the zipper, so I went to F&S Fabrics which is the West Side's most popular fabric store.
I took this blue lace dress of my Grandmother's into the store and walked over to a couple of nice fashion loving people who worked there and were standing by a cutting table. The man knew about the fashion show and the woman was actually upset that I hadn't told them about it sooner and taken a stack of fliers by for them to give out. Of course the people at F&S and their many customers would be interested in a show about California fashion history. Of course I should have done that. It just never occurred to me.
I had fun showing them the flyer and a few dresses I had in my car that hadn't arrived in time to make it into the show. I'm going to put one of them, a gorgeous but unwearable long, black velvet gown, with a matching coat with a terrific collar, an early Jean Carol, on a dress form in the lobby of the theatre. Anyway it was a really fun bit of my day there, chatting with people who share a love of vintage fashion, and who were interested in my dresses. The nice man there told me that he had read about the fashion show in the Daily News, which is a newspaper I get, but didn't even know the name of, because I'd gotten suckered into it by a pathetic telemarketer who I just couldn't say no to. They pile up in the driveway and I just toss them into the recycle bin, or I would have opened it and seen the little piece about the show.
I went to the magazine stand and found several newspapers with articles about our show, and bought stacks of them, yeay. That was fun. There was one really good article, with a double page photo spread. I read it to my Mom tonight over the phone, and out of the blue, this emotion bubbled up inside of me and I started crying. I pushed it back down -- which was hard for me -- because Mom is not a big fan of crying. Feelings are the enemy, I don't really know why, but it's always been this way.
I guess the reason for the sudden welling-up of feeling is because I've been working at this for so long, collecting these dresses out of this deep sense of love and filial duty, and instead of being appreciated for this work I've been doing, I've been criticized and denigrated for spending the money. And now, after all of this, I have something to show for it, and I think my Mother finally gets it and appreciates the effort. Now, I just have to find some way to read everything I've written on Sunday without choking up. I'm not saying that my emotional response to all of this is wrong, just that I don't want to impose this on a bunch of people who have come for a nice afternoon tea and a fashion show, to see a piece of history, and not to be immersed in the drama of a little girl woman who has spent year's trying to get her mother's love and approval.
Oh and get this, you know the building I own in Indio that I inherited from my Grandmother, the one that has been giving us so much trouble? We finally got this one unit rented, spent thousands of dollars cleaning and repairing it, and guess what? We've got black mold in the ceiling and the brand new tenant, who hasn't even moved in yet, found it and reported us to the city. Oh God it never ends. And we're still being sued by the last tenant who is faking this giant lawsuit against us because we finally kicked him out of the unit he had turned into a dump and was letting his son deal drugs out of. Lovely, eh? This is what I get for not getting more involved and letting my Mother continue to handle things. I'm sorry but it has to be said; she is the worst property manager on the planet.
Oh noooo...I just ate two red vines and am feeling really awful. Why do I do this when I know how rotten sugar makes me feel?
Here's a link to a pretty thorough piece about my Mother and Grandmother's history that I compiled and gave to Margot who is handling all of the PR for the show. It's funny because I was working on this before Halloween and then completely forgot that I had done it so when I started reading the press that came out about the show today, I was so confused. Where did they get all of this detailed information? Well, duh, I gave it to Margot, she wrote down everything I said, and then gave it out and now it's all over the place.
It feels so weird to see my words on other people's websites and in newspaper articles without my getting any kind of credit for the writing of it. Plus, I could have said anything about them and people would have accepted it as fact; My Grandmother was an ornithologist who liked to crush beer cans on her forehead before she became a world famous fashion designer. My Mother liked to raise purple turkeys, was a terrific bowler, and always enjoyed a big bowl of sugar coated cereal before her morning yoga.
I feel like I'm kind of at cross purposes here. I want my Mom and Granny to be remembered, that's why I began all of this, it was the end goal, but in giving all of this personal and long forgotten family history over to someone else, it's been kind of taken out of my hands and is now out there for anyone to read and do whatever they want with. I've been guarding it like a goose with a golden egg for so long now that it's hard to let go. It's a little hard to explain; I don't think I'll ever stop wanting to collect their dresses, and I'm pretty certain this will drive the prices up, for a little while anyway. Oh well, that's life, full of challenges and conflicts, I'm rarely ever satisfied, always striving, I think that's pretty common for anyone with an artistic temperament.
Here are some of the fashion show links, they keep popping up all over the place, they all say pretty much the same thing, but the first one is the one with all of the history;
Los Angeles Citysearch
Talk Radio 790 KABC's Community Calendar
Valley Scene Magazine
The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles