Sunday, January 7, 2024

NY and me (retitled: Time and me)

Written in May 2015, but as I re-read this, i know i'd write the same exact thing today:

I sat in a cafe in NYC this past Spring, a beautiful Spring, and this is what came to me...

To so many it sounds like a broken record, but the goddamn phones are ruining our society.  They're taking down this section of the the human race that buys into their importance as a lifeline to everything but what is right in front of them.

Someone's nose in a book, someone reading a paper, almost invites a comment, albeit brief in many case, but in's the window to a new conversation with a stranger;  a meeting of the minds:  Have you read?  Did you see?  What did you think about...?

People still move at the speed of light.  The still predominately wear black.
They eat lunch from 12-1 and it's never brought from home.
They still yell, "Hey, how are ya?! and "Get the fuck outta here!" both of them, lovingly.

I'd like to say it feels like I never left.
Then I realize,
I move slowly now.
I rarely wear black.
I'm lucky if I get to lunch and it's always brought from home.
I don't yell out so much, 'cuz I don't see my people.

But the biggest difference today is that every single person in the city is staring into a phone.  They all look down and peer into something the rest of us are not a part of.  The people seem younger.   I don't exchange smiles with the boys on the street; I must seem older.  I don't recognize the bartenders.  And even if I wanted to, the eye contact is almost impossible to make:  They're all on their phones.  

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Hello, 1982 in a nutshell

 It seems, sometimes, the best way to use today's technology is to search for scraps of yesterday's simplicities.

Luckily, I suppose, is that most nostalgic debris exists somewhere  on the 'net (might be audio only, or someone just videotaping their television, or one single picture).

This interview on one of the biggest shows of the day (but with a continued character study even today,  of david letterman) - this is pure gem capture of 1982.  Right down to Letterman asking Carole King what she got paid to write studio songs - and kept asking until she answered.  King's nerves with confidence, her headband, the piano player on national tv in a tank top, getting the mic caught and no stage hand coming to her rescue, the way she constantly adjusts her hair while in the her mega boots, the music itself.  Gads, I wish we could return to the innocence of naiveity around self, fame, anything being filmed...

Sunday, October 29, 2023

The message said...

The text from our friend, 

who was laying in the hospital, 


"When this is over it will  be just another reminder to use our days well and have fun"


People do it all the time. 
They think it, they want it, they make it happen.

They come up with an idea, a place, a group of people, a time...

and, the next thing you know- they've gone and done it!

: The Place, The Time, The Trip, The People

and i watch it and think, "i'd like to do that...'


that little voice in my head that i'd like to make louder, says: 

'do it'.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Back In The Classroom: New England style


The utter joy i feel at being in the classroom is really unparalleled.  I knew I missed it for a reason!  

It's being adjacent to growth, being part of a world bigger than myself, making a difference.  And that is what i'm now doing - making a difference.  I see it every time a pair of little eyes looks up at me, or some little voice asks, "can i tell you somefing? miss molly, can i tell you somefing?"  Yes! Yes! I say, YES!

The other teachers tell me I have "alot of energy".  One of them told me she texted the teacher I was subbing for and wrote, "this woman, have you seen her? the level of energy is out of this world!"  I tried to play it off like it was nothing, 'I don't do the same amount of work you guys do' i sheepishly replied, 'i don't have to do what you all have to do', i responded, downplaying my strength, the thing i'm excellent at.  Because, having one been a full-time teacher, and having left that full time teaching job, I know.  I know teaching wears you down.  I know the exhaustion of meetings and paperwork and extremely low pay can eventually get to you.  I know that and I have none of that to deal with, really.  I get to arrive at 7:30 and leave at 2:30 with no homework to grade or parents to call or lessons to plan.  I have it easier.  All I have to do is INSPIRE.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

The Power Of the People in our lives

This year, this month, marks 10 years since my friend, Shauna Malone, unexpectedly passed away.  I had just moved from San Francisco, where we both lived and loved, to Los Angeles, where we grew up together.  I had just seen Shaun a week or so before at our going away party.  We'd left phone messages for one another on new years eve about almost getting together.  Those moments, that turn out to be the last ones, stick with you.  They play over and over in your mind.  

Luckily, many of the memories stick with you.  

This is a piece I wrote for a storytelling night with the theme "The Power of Music".  In honor of Shauna, I'll leave you with these memories and thoughts of a really fantastic person who made a huge difference in my life.

As an additional story to this:  the group that was hosting the evening was supposed to videotape each person's story...and they didn't.  But about three minutes into my piece, my dad decided he should film it for posterity.  My dad, like Shauna, was an awesome supporter of everything I did... 

I just lost my dad this November and I love being reminded of the unconditional love it took for him to pull out his little camera and film while also being fully engaged in the moment, as I'm sure he was.  At the end of my story, it's his voice you hear say, 'wow', which makes me tear up even as I write this.  

I like to think Shauna and my Pops are sharing a glass of Chardonnay right now.

Where's the happy ending

I wrote the below post in 2015.  

Weirdly, not much has changed, not much at all.  
But writing and editing and writing some more does still help, so I've told myself I need to keep it up.
Write as if no one is reading (Annnnd, i'm pretty sure no one is...)

 The world is filled with such utter sadness every day, I find it difficult to write about just anything.

I feel, in most cases, over the years of writing for this blog, I have strived to say something meaningful, taking time to edit my words and thoughts and often came out with an upside, a sun shiny way of wrapping the tale up.

These days, I find it hard to complete that sunny wrap-up and I struggle with wanting to put more words into the world that don't have a silver lining at the end of the sentence.  It started with writing about my two of my best friends' sudden and shocking deaths, one year apart.  It was hard to write about, impossible to ignore, and really, for over two years has been on the forefront of my mind.

Now, I wonder, do I take on the world's sadness, too?  Here?  Outside of just my mind.  But, I think it'll help wrangle it a bit, make some sort of weird sense (such a thing?), if I can edit and write and edit and write and strive for an ending...a beginning?

I'll find the good in the bad, or the beauty in the pain or I'll rant and I'll rave and get it out that way:  The power of free speech is palpable here.

It's the worlds' ills that can plague one if you're not a wee bit cautious, so it's the deaths of Suzanne and Shauna that is a constant for me, to help me appreciate life, the things I am so lucky to be a part of, the things that make me see it all so differently now.  And I mean that in the very best way, girls (we have a lot of conversations).

Friday, December 23, 2022

It's Just Hair

 I had my haircut today after months of just straight up avoiding it.  It's the appointment making part I can't stand.  I don't even know why.  I do know I didn't want to go back to the woman who had cut my hair the last three times.  She was uninterested and uninspired and therefore unworthy of my time.  So, I let it grow.  Not a great look for me, but I pretend to be doing it purposely.  I stop washing it, shove it into unnatural angles, act like I'm punk or cool or anything other than what the truth is:  I can't be bothered to go somewhere to get a haircut.  My hair, currently anyway, is also bleached.  I would say bleached 'blonde' but in fact it stayed a kind of brassy orange for the first couple months and now it's sorta blonde-ish.  Along with not wanting to get a haircut, I didn't want to pay for a dye-job.  So, a girlfriend did it for free.  And I love it.  It's pretty rough looking most days and I feel like it matches how I feel inside:  A little crazy, disheveled, messy, far from fabulous, but doing it anyway.

I decided to go to a stylist that my sister-in-law went to.  She has long, thick, lustrous, wavy brunette hair.  Did I mention I have short, extremely thin (they call it 'fine', as in 'yeah, that's good enuf'), dry, straight bleached blonde hair?  So, the exact opposite, but convinced this woman did such an amazing job on my s-i-l that she's gotta be skilled!

The appointment was in the evening and I rarely leave the house after 4pm, but I was excited and arrived to the appointment at 4:50, ten minutes early.  Turns out, I arrived to the appointment an hour and a half early, it was booked for 6:30.  After a loud explicative exhale, I excused myself and walked down the block to the classic Mexican restaurant to have a margarita and some chips.  I love sitting at a bar by myself reading a good book and enjoying the snacks.  All I had was my phone, which would do just fine, and soon a drink the size of my head, which would take any and all edges that I may have arrived with right off!

When 6:15 arrived, I walked back to the salon and sat in the chair, ready for the magic!  This very young, very petite girl walked up, with sort of glazed eyes and said, 'wow, i'm really having a day!'  Um, okay, I don't even want to ask how this will affect what comes next.  And what came next was a bit of a surprise... she proceeded to tell me she'd never done a short haircut before.  Um, okaaayyyyy....  It was then I really took a look around the salon and saw lots and lots of ladies with lots and lots of long, thick, lustrous, wavy brunette hair.  Not one customer had short hair.  Not one.  When I mentioned this observation to my stylist she nodded and said, 'yeah' with a tone that implied I should have known that.  And then told me when she got the message that someone 'requested a short cut' she wondered how the hell that happened and who could have possibly suggested HER as the stylist.  I admitted that I assumed if she was great with one head of hair, she must be great all around!  You should never assume, you know, the saying goes:  'you make an ass out of you and me'.  She asked if I had any images of what I'd like and I told her I didn't and just hoped she might take some off the back, leave a little in the front, and just make me look COOL.  That was my entire directive:  make me look cool.  

I closed my eyes until she whispered in my ear, "i'll be right back, i just need to go get a bandaid".  She had sliced her finger with her new scissors.  I wondered if there was blood in my 'blonde' hair, but didn't really care and figured she would cut it out when she returned.  

She periodically asked me how it 'felt'.  There was no mirror offered, other than the one in front of us, so I just kept saying it felt 'fine' and that I wasn't worried because it's just hair and hair grows back!

And when she finally finished, I loved it.  We both loved it.  She told me it was the most creative haircut she's ever given.  I don't doubt it.

When I got home and got a better look at it, I told RK there appeared to be a few spots on the sides and in the back that were going to need a follow up from him and his scissors... but I'm just so happy to have had my hairs cut!  

Here's to just going for it and sticking with it even when all signs point to : GTF outta there.

Friday, October 28, 2022

not just 12 notes

I've watched a number of Jacob Collier videos now and his magic is clear.  

It started for me with this one. 

I'm sat here sobbing.

At the sound of a choir.

A choir made of 5,000 untrained singers, otherwise known as an audience.  Fans, probably, mostly.

At the end of the sound they make, the music they've just created together, they clap wildly for Jacob.  They're the ones who made the sound, but he's the one that (one the spot) turned their sounds into song. 

And then got me thinking about the concerts we all go to - and almost every person is singing along, under their breath, or out loud, with each other.  It's inevitable for most of us.  I have moments where I think it's okay to sing the words out loud (I can't even help it!) and other parts of a song I wouldn't wanna hear anyone singing the words but the artist I came to see.

It's the strength of singing together.  Hearing an audience ('choir') of thousands that gives me goosebumps.

And I recognize, at the end of a song that we the audience all sang, we also clap wildly!

As much to thank the artist as to express the energy, the joy we just experienced.  A kind of 'we did it!'

I used to sing in a choir.  I love choirs.  Now I do a lot of singing in the shower and while i'm walking the dog and definitely in my studio with headphones on.  'Cuz no one can hear you that way, right?!

Thursday, October 27, 2022

You Are Not Alone

Remember when you were younger than you are now and you totally thought you were alone: in your thoughts, your feelings, your body oder, your acne, your wants and needs... and then maybe, just maybe, you met that ONE friend who laughed at your terrible jokes, told you she had those thoughts about abbazabbas, too, and those feelings about music and dancing alone in their family room ...that person, whoever they were/are to you, I like to remember, they made us realize, we are not alone in this.

My friend Mel sent out her newsletter recently, and she wrote about a story currently playing out the news : It was about using someone else's photo in your artwork, selling the artwork and not crediting the photographer.   In this particular case, it was in regards to a portrait of Prince and how the Andy Warhol estate used the image.  Also, in this case, the photographer wants recognition and ultimately, money. 

It made me wonder if photographers that take class photos or student portraits would also have that feeing?  Then I realized I actually have a friend who would know! And can answer that strange, possible rabbit hole-like question...
And yes, it has occurred to me the kids in this photo might actually see themselves in my work.  Heck, they may even be following me on social media...Assuming they're teenagers in this photo, I think they'd be in their 60's today...

Monday, October 17, 2022


i wrote this piece in 2017 but never published it.  tho it still feels very pertinent, much, much has changed since then...

“We live stitch by stitch, when we’re lucky. If you fixate on the big picture, the whole shebang, the overview, you miss the stitching. And maybe the stitching is crude, or it is unraveling, but if it were precise, we’d pretend that life was just fine and running like a Swiss watch. This is not helpful if on the inside our understanding is that life is more often a cuckoo clock with rusty gears. In the aftermath of loss, we do what we’ve always done, although we are changed, maybe more afraid. We do what we can, as well as we can. My pastor, Veronica, one Sunday told the story of a sparrow lying in the street with its legs straight up in the air, sweating a little under its feathery arms. A warhorse walks up to the bird and asks, “What on earth are you doing?” The sparrow replies, “I heard the sky was falling, and I wanted to help.” The horse laughs a big, loud, sneering horse laugh, and says, “Do you really think you’re going to hold back the sky, with those scrawny little legs?” And the sparrow says, “One does what one can.” 
--Anne Lamott, Stitches

I've been working on getting the kits together for the workshop I'm teaching in France this coming June.  Teaching workshops isn't new, but the approach I take these days is.  I have a very different attitude about teaching, I think, than many who teach crafts, projects, or artistic ways.  I'm coming at it the way I used to with my first graders.  With a sense of meaning that extends beyond the project, the made piece.  I want people to infuse a sense of meaning in the work they make in my classes.  

I am not a fan of just making to make.  I don't particularly enjoy workshops that end with me owning something I don't want or won't use.  I like learning the technique, but as far as the end 'product', it's a rarity that I care about it.  I like to approach my workshops with the attitude:  Let's make something you care about, want to hang on your wall, or put on your shelf, or proudly give to someone as a gift.  With that in mind, the materials I use are important, if not particularly elegant in any way. 

So, for week one of this workshop, which is a souvenir french-flag banner, I am sewing little fabric bags for the kits. The bags are made from an old, gorgeous, linen duvet washed and dried and loved to near shreds (therefore perfect to cut & use in its next life form) given to me as a wedding gift by my Aunt Nancy.  Nancy was my dad's only sister and one of the coolest Meng's I know.  She passed away recently and, in a strange and empty move, I've never formally written to any of my cousins or Uncle and given my condolences.  It's awful and very unlike me.  I think it's very important to contact people, let them know you're thinking of them, at times like these.  I was very focused on my dad and what it meant to loose your only sister.  To be the last of your original family members.  I remember wishing I could just sit in a room with him and let him sob it out.  My dad doesn't sob, so this was purely theatrical thinking on my part, but the idea of it felt cathartic.  And maybe in my fantasy of that scenario, I also sent comfort to my cousins and my Uncle.  Telepathically?  I'm not sure.  I just know I didn't do it formally.  And now it feels too late.  

In French, souvenir means "remembrance" or "memory".  It seems fitting that in Nancy's memory, these linen sacks will hold the current souvenir for these women who travel with us.

And, yet, along with this beautiful linen textile that I pulled out this week, I had another encounter with the spirit of my Aunt Nancy.  A woman in Chicago reached out to me after she had bought a piece of artwork at a resale shop.  She researched my name, signed on the back of the work, and tracked me down.  She sent a photo of the piece and contacted me on various social media platforms asking if I was indeed the artist behind this piece.    This is a piece of art I made years ago that my Aunt Nancy purchased at my first solo, gallery art show.  I remember it so clearly:  There's Nancy standing in front of this piece, titled "Dear John" telling me how much she loved it and that she must have it!  Nancy could match my theatrics beat for beat, and it was always thrilling.  She purchased the work without a moments hesitation.  Lived with her to her end.  And, in the end, homes change, families move, objects get donated.  This is how the woman in Chicago found "Dear John", then found me, and we both found a connection in a piece of artwork that went a long way to make a full circle.

i wish this was the 'dear john' piece, but i cannot find a photo of it!

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Morning Has Broken

Laughing to myself the other day realizing I used to think waking up early was a waste of time.

When the thought occurred to me, i was standing outside watching the birds flirt and a little squirrel dance with seeds he’d just found.  It was around 5:33 am and the light had just enhanced the world around me.  I smiled to myself, and even snickered out loud at my earlier limited thinking.

Having ‘the whole place to myself’ used to be a key reason I gave for not wanting to get up before dawn.  What would I possibly do at that time, I wondered?  

Now, my most favorite time of the day is when it feels like the world is sleeping and i have the whole place to myself.  Turns out, I should have been asking myself what I COULD do with that time.  I get a ton of stuff done between the time I wake up-and-when everyone else seems to emerge.

found this juicy little book at a vide in france this past summer 

Friday, October 14, 2022

In the Garden

a different kind of 'weed' altogether : sea weed

 When I was little and my mom let me help her in the garden, I loved weeding.  I think the reason I loved it so much is because I wasn’t actually weeding.  My mom knew this.  I did not.  What I was doing was pulling the leaves off of the stems of the weeds.  I was breaking the blades of long grass at the tips as my chubby little hand grabbed quickly and pulled even quicker.  I’m not sure I could have actually done the job of weeding.  Not only because I didn’t have the strength to pull a weed up from it’s deeply rooted space, but mostly because I’m not sure I would have had the heart to pull a weed up from its' deeply rooted space.  Weeding requires commitment.  You can’t just stop at the part that breaks off in your tightly coiled fist.  To actually weed means to take that living, growing greenery, find it’s very beginning, its' source, and yank it from the ground.  

Weeding, as an adult, leaves me conflicted.  Yes, I would like this space of dirt to grow something beautiful.  In order to do that, I need to clear the way for those beauties.  Which means, I need to yank out, exclude, and even banish these other plants.  And to do that, I must move slowly, methodically and with precision, pulling up from the earth every last root that is desperately hanging on.  

It’s a strange dichotomy of feeling:  I feel totally satisfied when my fingertips touch, see, hear this long root and all it’s offshoots come up from the dirt and land in my yard-waste pile.  The other feeling is one of destruction of a living thing.  I have stopped the growth of something potentially great.  Most people would argue weeds are not ‘great’— but I think the only difference between a weed and ‘something beautiful’ is naming it.    We call weeds invasive, and invasive has a negative connotation that’s for sure.  And flowers BLOOM.  Now, bloom is a lovely word...

Here's a photo I took of some weeds on the edge of the pavement.  
They grew and bloomed all on their own, with zero caretaking.
The only difference
a weed
and a flower 
is judgement.

-wayne dyer

Monday, June 13, 2022

Oh, Happy Day

the performance of this song rocked my little world.  i've always loved this song, or at least the feeling of it.  i don't think i ever actually knew the words.  but to watch this group sing it and the group of people listening to it, absolutely living it, well, i dare you to stay still...

Thursday, March 24, 2022

The Mirror From Church Street

 We've landed on the other side.  We are on the other side of the country; we are on the other side of a life lived in California; I, personally, feel I'm on the other side of even understanding what's next.  We've flipped it all.  I've tried to take it step by step and not get emotional or too sad or too happy or too anything because every feeling is temporary and I'm aiming solely for temperate.  So far, it seems to be working.  I'm treating the whole move like I'm getting the best of all worlds.  What could be better?  Again, so far so good.

One month ago, on the California end, after these four guys loaded all our boxes, furniture and 50 years of memories into a van and drove away, we never heard from anyone again.  We had pretty much decided our stuff was gone.  And, while we weren't horribly upset (again, taking things as they come...), we did feel we were owed an explanation.  One never came.  But, our stuff finally did, a little over two weeks after we arrived.  The day these two young boys and a man named Misha, released our boxes into this house, RK and I sat down on the couch and readily passed out.  You might think that strange, as we hadn't done any obvious physical work that day, but the tension we'd been holding onto for weeks now was palpable.  So, when the relief of the whole thing being 'over' kicked in, we could do nothing but fall asleep.

Slowly, we're unpacking boxes.  It's not slow because of thought or comfort or we're taking it all in, but it's going slowly because we didn't actually bring any real furniture with us.  When we unpack a box, we don't have a shelf or a cupboard or desk to put things on.  Maybe we didn't think that through.  I'm also used to the life of second hand furniture, where I used to visit the thrift store daily, or walk home and see great furniture on the street corner.  Now, as new homeowners, we're aiming for a little more grown-up vibe.  I don't know that it'll happen, but it's what we're after.  In the meantime, I'm unpacking what we did actually bring.  

I have repeatedly said during this move, 'if anything breaks, it's OK, it's just stuff!'  I joke that I have so much stuff, the breakage would actually be doing me a favor.  So, after opening box after box, everything in tact, this broken mirror was a surprise.  Not a shock, but a kind of deep breath memory surprise.  This mirror collection of mine is large:  Some came from flea markets, some from family, some I don't even remember where they come from anymore, but some come with a story tied to a time, a time that extends much further than me.

For me, this mirror belonged to our neighbor in San Francisco, who we never got to know but to wave and say 'hello' when we saw her.  Then, recognize as she struggled with what we assumed was a pretty serious illness, coming home one day with a shaved head and a winding scar on her skull from front to back.  She quickly went from friendly to fragile.  We never passed each other on the sidewalk again, but we could see she had help.  We would see her from across the street, out our third floor window, as someone carefully guided her from the car to her front door.  And then, suddenly, she was gone.  

One day, walking past her home, there was another woman in the garage standing amongst stacks of boxes and I stopped to talk with her.  She told me my neighbor had been her mother and she had passed away.  They grew up in that house on Church Street.  There were three girls in her family, she told me, and a family that lived two doors down had three boys of similar age.  The running family routine was to try and set them all up, for years.  It was sweet to hear they were all still friends.  Her parents were Russian Jews, very involved in the community, professional matchmakers, they held movie nights for young people to meet.  There was actually a closet inside the house, stacked with all the old film reels, she was planning on donating to the community.  She told me she was getting her parents house ready to have an estate sale.  We talked for quite awhile about how that feels, what you keep, what you let go of, how it feels to hold their things when they're not longer here.  I told her I would come to the sale because I'd like to support her, and have something to remember her mom by and then she'd know something of her family stayed on Church Street.  She invited me to come in with her at that moment:  She thought the sale might get crazy and crowded and wouldn't it be nice to walk through it together now?  I agreed and followed beside her as she told me more family stories.  Eventually, we turned a corner and entered a small dressing room and I saw this mirror hanging on the wall.  Maybe I mentioned I collect mirrors, I don't remember, but, for her, this mirror held a thousand memories of childhood.  She told me about being a little girl, watching her mom get dressed for those movie nights and seeing both their reflections in that mirror stuck with her.  She took it off the wall, handed it over to me and said 'thank you'.  

Though it was 15 years ago now, I clearly remember coming home with the mirror, telling RK who it belonged to, confirming all of our conjecture about our neighbor and explaining the fascinating history of this family, who we never really knew, but now carried with us in this reflection.

Today, there is a heartbreaking war raging in Ukraine, each day is infused with an extremely heavy feeling of helplessness; with these unknown, hurting people on my mind, opening this box and finding this particular piece shattered made me forget my cavalier attitude towards breakage and, instead, found me quietly crying into my coffee over the things we lose every day.


Sunday, February 13, 2022

Lives, Acknowledged

We're moving.  We're packing up our little life here in Los Angeles and moving to create a little, maybe a little bigger, life in New Hampshire.  When you pack up, you also unpack a lot of little things:  do i keep this? does this thing go in a box with that thing?  It's a lot to sort through.  So, we decided we wouldn't spend much time sorting thru any of it until we unpack on the other end.  Some things though, are hard to miss.  When you open a drawer that's been closed for a few years, you find these things and maybe you start to rifle through them just a little bit.  And maybe you get completely caught up in these things and find hours have passed as you read, sort, read some more, maybe even have a good cry over what you've 'found' again.

There are four large drawers deep in the walk in closet of our current apartment.  When we realized we couldn't have everything out on shelves or on desks or bookcases, things went into these drawers.  Now that we're moving, the drawers have to be emptied and, inevitably, I start looking through these envelopes and little boxes and catch myself going in deep.  On top of one of these envelopes, a large black envelope to be exact, is an article that is titled "A life, acknowledged" written by Richard Cohen, formerly of The Washington Post.  This article includes the story of my friend, Suzanne Hart, who was killed ten years ago in NYC.  It is a sparing, brutally honest, short piece about the people that were in the obituaries that week of December, 2011.  I can't link it here, I can't even find it online actually.  But, moments ago, when I was just trying to send him an email, I wasn't even trying to find the article online.  I had it in my hand.  I read it.  And then I read it again.  And I cried.  When I stopped crying, I decided to write him a note to tell him that I'd saved this piece and, while it wasn't particularly warm or emotional, it actually made me feel both of those things.  

Here is the email I wrote:

Dear Mr. Cohen,
I probably wrote to you back in 2011 when you first wrote this piece (12/20/11) but I don't remember if I did and, as we are packing up our whole house and moving back east again, I came across the envelope where I keep all the articles about my friend, Suzanne Hart, read it again and had a good ole sob.
I just wanted to thank you, if I hadn't previously.  It's strange to read about your best friend, a limb practically, in such detached views.  Yet, your piece made me feel that she had been seen, beyond the sensationalism.  And there was plenty of that.
Her brother, sister-in-law and I just acknowledged ten years of her being gone from our lives.  I sent them a Maya Angelou poem that I have on repeat in my head.  Though, for the three of us, at least, she's never really "gone".  We all talk to her a lot .  I met Suzanne in the sixth grade, stuck by each other like glue for the next ten years, lost touch for a bit, and then we both ended up in NYC and picked up right where we left off.  Sure, she was a 'a ray of sunshine', as the papers wrote, but truly she had a brilliantly dark sense of humor and a wicked tongue that kept us both in stitches.  They don't write that type of thing in an obit.
Another thing I came across as I was packing today was the cassette tapes I used to record answering machine messages and every friend that came thru my apartment.  On many of them, there is Suzanne, talking, laughing, smoking, living:  On one of them, she says to me, 'what are you going to do with all these recordings, molly, play them after i'm dead so you can still hear my voice?!' and she laughs and laughs. 
Yeah, Suz, I am.

But I never sent it.  In searching for Mr. Cohen's email address or where he is now (I honestly wanted to make sure he was still around before I sent this into the ether) I found more articles than I can count about what an absolute jack ass he was.  Article after article about his white-male privilege, openly racist thoughts and the sexual harassment that he displayed over and over gain.  UGH.  Each article worse than the last.  Mother Jones does a top 10 countdown of his worst moments.  I won't link it here, you can easily find it.  He's a real piece of work, retired now, but no doubt living out these traits in his real life, not just in the newspaper.  

The email, I deleted, the article I'll keep because ultimately, it's about Suzanne, not about this guy.  And when I talk to Suzanne, we can really rip this guy to shreds and no one has to read about any of it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Sigmond & Me

Apparently, I had started writing the story of meeting Sigmond...I found this post from February, that I never finished:

well, the full story is this:  i was waiting in line behind this big, tall, cool as a cucumber dude and he stepped up to the window and said to the little woman behind the counter “six minutes”  yeah? she says back? six?  “yup.  six minutes.  that’s how long it took to get from there to here.”  she smiled.  he handed her something and smiled and walked away.  i stepped up to the counter, to the same little lady and said, ‘hey, can i talk to a manager about something? really quick? i have an idea.”  she tells me to ring the bell on that little door to the side there and points to that random door you don’t really think anyone is behind, but come to find out, that’s where the whole freaking world of the p.o IS!  anyway, i rang the bell.  and the top half of the door opens and THERE IS SAID COOL CUCUMBER DUDE!  Sigmond.  I tell him I find those cases depressing and I think we could all use a bit more cheer and wouldn’t it be great if i designed some cool things for the cases and...i don’t know exactly dude, but sigmond immediately said yes.  he’d been waiting for someone to come around and treat this once beautiful goddamn worn-down federal institution like the place it used to be.  he’d been waiting for someone to agree that him pumping jazz in on saturday’s WOULD make life in the lobby better for all.  whether you like jazz or not, honestly.  

And now I have to follow it up with terrible news.  I just found out that Sigmond died in July.  I was in the post office and Robert, who I knew first, said to me as I was babbling away about how long it had been since I had done anything with the cases and I was going to get back into it, but it just hadn't been the same since Sigmond relocated to a different P.O. and Robert stopped me and said, "Molly, have you heard about Sigmond?"  Of course I hadn't!  I hadn't even heard from Sigmond since he started his long, slow move from manager of this location to retirement.  Wonderful, fulfilling retirement.  A retirement he had been dreaming of since before I met him.  He'd been talking about it for ages, but always found some new reason to stay.  I like to think when I came along and breathed some new life into this particular location, he found another tiny reason to hang on for a bit.  But we talked about his retirement, or semi-retirement, every time I swung by there.  He couldn't wait.  Sigmond had worked his butt off since he was a kid.  Now there was family & friends waiting in the wings for him to take it easy, kick his feet up and enjoy a cold one together.  There was a brief moment of talk when The Traveling Postal Club, the letter writing community scene a friend and I started there at his P.O., was cruising along that maybe we could all work together to make it a nationwide program with the USPS.  Sigmond would be our guide, he'd help train others.  This seemed like such a wonderful possibility because he was always our biggest supporter.  It started with the cases, but it grew beyond when we introduced The Traveling Postal Club.  We brought the idea to him that we might set up some tables and chairs and bring a whole bunch of mail-art materials and let people stop by and make a card.  It was a simple premise that we all took seriously and blew out on a Sunday in Atwater.  A Sunday!  Sigmond ordered a mail truck to sell stamps, we had six tables filled with materials, he hustled people in from the sidewalk and we kept the whole thing going for a full day.  It was exhilarating!  And then he let us keep doing it for months afterward in the lobby of his P.O.  Whenever we wanted, however we wanted to do it.  And he often brought his walkman and plugged in some jazz.

It was pretty thrilling.  As anyone who's ever been to a Post Office knows, they're not an easy place to crack.  But we had Sigmond on our side, in our corner.  He wrote to the higher ups, letting them know what we were doing and how beneficial it was to the USPS.  He was always present at our events.  And he always had time to talk when they ended, walk us out to our cars, help us load up.  There was a time, in the early days of me creating/designing the P.O. cases, when I walked into the back room of the USPS.  Regular humans don't just get to cruise on back there.  But Sigmond let me walk around and look at the tools of the past, still being used:  the mail boxes, the mail sorters, the mail bags, the locked cage in the middle of the room that I guess held money?  The other employees always looked a bit startled to see me, but when they saw I was with Sigmond, they relaxed.  Whenever I finished a case, I'd walk in the back to let him know I was done and to give back the keys.  He would always walk me to my car and we'd stand and talk about the past, present and future.  I'm sure we both thought there was a lot more future.

When Sigmond left that particular location, he wasn't very good about keeping in touch.  He didn't return texts or emails like he used to.  I wrote it off to 'senioritis';  he knew retirement was close.  So, I didn't get too worked up by it.  I figured I'd keep him in the loop via these means no matter what.  Turns out, there were other things in the works.  Things we knew nothing about.  

Robert told me Sigmond was diagnosed with cancer this past May and, not even fully retired yet, passed away in July.

I'll never meet another Sigmond, but I sure am glad I met this one.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Two Personalities: Bringing it

I have always been a huge fan of Jerry Seinfeld and even more so as he's aged and grown and revealed himself to be a wonderful, giving, supportive human.

I was never a fan of David Letterman.  Luckily, as he's aged and grown he, too, has revealed himself to be a nicer, more interesting, complicated human. 

This series Letterman has created, "My Next Guest..." is full of interesting conversation; absolutely worth watching every episode.  Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars..." is another fantastic, uplifting, oddly informational series.

Watching this episode of the two of them talking about life was like watching two sides of my brain have a discussion.

Thursday, August 8, 2019


I am obsessed with my dogs.
preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone) continually, intrusively, and to a troubling extent.
  1. "he was obsessed with the theme of death"
    synonyms:preoccupy, be uppermost in someone's mind, prey on someone's mind, prey on, possesshauntconsumeplaguetormenthoundbedevil, take control of, take over, become an obsession with, have a hold on, engross, eat up, have a grip on, gripdominaterulecontrolbesetmonopolize 

For sure.

The weird thing is, I swore I wasn't going to be like this with "the next one", which is actually two. 
Fostering then keeping both is part of the obsession with dogs, in general.

I know it's a replacement for kids we never had and I'm the first to admit it.  I'm not embarrassed by that.  People have pets for all kinds of reasons.  As long as those reasons also include the concept of treating them with respect, keeping them healthy and loving them like crazy, I'm cool with whatever.

If you could see them curled into one another right this moment, fast asleep, deep breathing, right at my feet.... you, too, would be okay with the feeling this brings on.  This utter peacefulness.  Come on, all of us want peacefulness.  The state of the world is anything but calm and watching dogs sleep is anything but stressful.

And this picture of them, well, you will have to literally 'picture' them because if I move to get my camera right now, the whole scene will explode!  They'll both jump to attention because I moved a foot from this exact spot.

Oh, please, I'm not the only one obsessed around here.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A Tiny Bit of Tidy

This week has been all about "tidying up" the home office, which was really supposed to be my husband's room-of-his-own, (mind you, i do have a studio space where I work, collect, gather, and have spread out many, many, many of my collections and books and papers), but, as it's been said about me (perhaps by my husband, RK- ahem!), 'give that girl a surface and she'll cover it!' and it's true. Therefore, the desk that was meant for him (that he actually wanted to get rid of because he doesn't use) is mostly covered in MY STUFF.

I LOVE paper: quotes i've written down or a story from the newspaper, every postcard ever sent to me, a magazine image that sparks joy, something i found on the ground that looked interesting, a business card, a fortune cookie fortune, a review of something i wanted to see but never did but might get to some day...I also love books and magazines and agendas and they, too, all live on this desk in the home office. These paper bits also live in numerous notebooks I've kept and pasted into over the years and this paper, in the form of scraps and books and magazines and collages and notes, cover much of my studio, as well. If I had another room with desks and tabletops and shelves and filing drawers and flat files...well, I'd cover and fill those too.

I don't WANT to throw any of it away, but I know it's necessary to sometimes "tidy-up" as they say...
I maintain these random bits and pieces are the basis for the artwork I create. These things are the basis for my very creativity itself! And organizing, too deeply, can be a crushing blow to what may come next.

Years ago, RK suggested I sort through my thousand's of vintage photographs and organize them in some way that worked for me, without either of us fully realizing that the mere fact of organizing my old photos would never work for me. The entire joy of these photos, both owning and using them, is in the complete randomness that I come across them. I often flit through some of the same photos over and over and remember where I bought them or just marvel at the fact that I have no idea where I got them from, but they seem so familiar to me still. It turns out, I am almost never looking for something in particular. I have an idea, I recall I may have something similar to what I'm thinking about, but it is in the sifting through the piles, the files and the photos that I come up with something I didn't even know I wanted. The joy is in the lack of organization! I quickly realized this in the "sorted vintage photos" incident (we can laugh about it now). I didn't feel like looking through the category of "men" or "two men" or "women" or "babies" or "farm animals" --it took the fun and the creativity right out of it! Eventually I got rid of the dividing/organization cards and tossed the whole lot back into one big drawer. Which is now an even bigger drawer, getting bigger all the time.

I don't know why I thought I was the only one that felt this way. Reading Austin Kleon's blog entries from the past year, I realize now, it's quite a common way of conducting oneself.



As for tidying up the home-office this week, it's been a downright revelation! I've found notebooks I'd forgotten about, sketches of work I plan on actually making this year, and articles that sparked a flurry of emails last night.

I can't wait to 'tidy up' the studio next week!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Just Today

I'm making a piece of work to trade with a friend who gave me a gorgeous ring -- I decided to ask his partner for a quote he loves and I would do something around that.  He did give me a great quote, "Just Today", which my friend loves and actually wears on a ring on his hand.  I love the sentiment, as well, the idea that we'll all get by if we just take it day by day.  Concentrate on just today...  So, I made the artwork:  I sewed on the machine, I hand-stitched this juicy vintage fabric, I built these little balsa-wood structures to hold the work up and out, I finished it, adhered it, slept on it, walked back into the studio the next day and didn't love it.  I could suddenly see so clearly, it wasn't what I was after.  I immediately set to dismantling it.  

It happens.  Not often, but sometimes.  I make a piece of work, or part of a piece of work, and it just doesn't come together.  Then I'm left with bits and pieces that were worked and re-worked with total intention and love and I just  cannot throw those bits and pieces away!  So, a couple of years ago, I decided to start leaving these little pieces behind... on my chair in the court house after jury duty, on the library keyboard after some research, in the underground book vault at Pratt university, on the cork board in an elevator, on the counter at the Post Office, in a book store, on a wall at the park, and taped to the child's seat of a cart at my local grocery store.  I try to always take a photo of the piece "in the wild"-- and if I shoot it just right, you can see the message I've left for someone to find.  I've started to call them #messagesfrommolly on Instagram.

Passing by a lot of intense characters on the streets of downtown Los Angeles:  sad, crazy, tweaking, babbling, dancing with their eyes closed, screaming and then the everyday down-on-your-luck people, some days, the whole of it seem just seem intrinsically harder than others.  I leave a lot of these messages downtown in places I hope someone who needs it will find it.  The most current, left behind from the work I just dismantled:  the fabric, the leather letters, tiny shreds of thread and the message, "Just Today" -- taking it minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day...I just know someone that passes it will need it and they can even take it with them.  It's why these messages go out there, rather than in the trash.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Habitual Hello's

I'm a habitual hi-er.

Hi There.
Hows it going?
Oh, hey.
Oh, hi!

This "hi" habit has led to the following short-list:

1.  Some amazing stories.

2.  Some exhausting exchanges.

But, I can't HELP it.  Truly!  I'm sure this habit is heavily influenced by my parents who can barely walk by a human, let alone a common, domestic animal and not stop to recognize it as living being, acknowledge it profusely, and get into a conversation of some sort.

It's our way of saying, "I see you."  Each and every one of you living beings in this animal kingdom.  We are people-people.  We love people!  What we're really talking about is humans being positive and all inclusive with one another.  This is what my parents instilled in me:  It should be the norm to look at each person and think, "I see you, you are important, you are noticed.  You. Are. Here. Too."

I happen to be in Downtown LA most days, my studio is right off skid row, and I can't ignore even the most intense person walking by me:  They're clearly down on their luck and not at all in the same headspace as me, yet I can't help but look at them as I am walking by and if eye contact is made, my mouth instantly forms and emits the sound for "Hi!"  Often, a "how's it going?" tagged on the end of that, as well.  It doesn't always go over well, but it also rarely goes bad and it usually just lifts someone's spirits, which is my aim.  For those rare times it does go bad, I am always surprised.  RK, as my loving partner and protector, is always surprised at my surprise and usually has to talk me down from this as he continues to wonder why I do it so often.

Apparently, I actually invite further engagement when I make eye contact...
I suppose I do.
I didn't even know I was doing it.
It's automatic.
It's almost impossible for me to walk by people and dogs and babies and look down or look the other way.  I have to acknowledge each being.  I actually feel as if I'm being rude if I don't say hello to every single person I pass.  I am working on this.

But there is an ultimate reward: 
Many, many times that "hi" leads to things I'd never expected. 
I have had incredibly interesting conversations with people from all walks of life. 
It's gotten me into trouble almost never. 
It's gotten me numerous invites to places I might never have gone.
It's also gotten my phone number into some pretty random phones and filled my own contact list with a list of first names that just don't ring a bell anymore...
but, most definitely, the pros outweigh the cons.

Just now, as I walked back to my studio from the bathroom, I said "hi" to a complete stranger in the hallway and, right after that walked by someone's studio with the door wide open and I had to firmly tell myself not to look in:  Molly, You do NOT need to say "hi" to the people inside that room!  Yes, the door is open but open does not always mean an invitation to acknowledgement! Get ahold of yourself!

Yeah, Hi, I'm working on this...