Month: August 2009

Heat sink


Several miles to the north and east of me, the hills are literally on fire, outing my complaint about high temperatures and no air conditioning for the pansy-lightweight-whinerfest that it truly is.

And yet.

There are realities to every season, turn turn turn. And one of the realities of Southern California from late August to late October is that it can be unbearably hot for large chunks of the day over great swaths of time. Add to that some big commitments I’ve just wrapped up, a few that are ongoing and some mamalukes, as The Chief Atheist used to call them, coming up, then subtract the number of sweat glands it would take to bring me up to the normal cooling powers of your average sweaty bear, and it’s no wonder I’m feeling a wee bit weak right now.

I’m not exactly Spanish yet in my commitment to the siesta, but I’m almost overly proud to say that yesterday, when the heat and smoke were at their worst, I had enough good sense left in me somewhere to retire to the one air-conditioned room in the house and lie down. And I’m not a napper, there’s this horrible, residual-only-child thing in me that always feels like the real fun happens as soon as I leave the room, but once I got horizontal with a little snoozy reading material, my body took over and just conked me on the head. I awoke three hours later not exactly perky, but far, far less cranky than I’d been for the bulk of the day as I hauled my overheated carcass from here to there on even the abbreviated schedule I’d planned for it.

So here is my pithy thought for the day: there will always be a party going on as soon as you step out for a breather. You will always be missing something groovy and awesome. You will think wistfully of the good times you might have had as these groovy and awesome parties are recounted for you later on.

Also? There are only so many hours in a day, and you only get to be awake for so many of them at your peak energy. Choose wisely. Then stay well hydrated during them, especially during your hotter times of the year.

Also-also? My old shiatsu bodywork instructor used to carry around a teeny-tiny pocket calendar. Think those ones the banks used to give out for free, then cut in half. We’re talking microscopic.

After each session, when we’d set our appointment for the following week, we’d each whip out our respective scheduling devices: her teeny-tiny one (and, like, a golf pencil), my ginormous, Filofax-clone-of-the-moment (because, ever restless and in search of the Perfect Solution, I would change it up periodically). I had a slot for each fifteen-minute segment of my apparently very important days in one incarnation.

Anyway. One week, I couldn’t take it anymore. “How,” I asked, “can you possibly cram all the stuff you need to do into that teeny-tiny calendar entry?”

She looked at it, then up at me, and shrugged. “I can only do three things in a day; this means I can only schedule three things in a day.”

Now, this was a gal who did shiatsu and was a working actor; she could have more going on in an afternoon than a suburban mother of five did in a week. But there were only three things she would schedule; the rest, well, they happened. Or not. That was free time, during which she worked on any (or many) of her other myriad projects.

Three things today: a little meeting, a little shrinkage, a little accountability action. And yes, a lot of driving in between (not such a hardship when it’s the only other place you can enjoy a/c), plus…whatever.

And three things tomorrow, regardless of how finely I can carve up my calendar. And maybe three things daily until this heat breaks. Might as well make something pretty out of this mess, right?

Stay cool. Stay rested. Stay hydrated.

And if it fits your mood (and/or your calendar), let me know how you’re carving up your day during this hot, hot end of August…


Image by Joe Lanman via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Referral Friday: Barbara’s at the Brewery


Referral Friday is an ongoing series inspired by John Jantsch’s Make-a-Referral Week. For more about that, and loads more referrals for everything from cobblers to coaches to gee-tar teachers, start here. Pass it on, baby!

One thing that drives me batty about Los Angeles is the paucity of excellent, low-key, non-gross hangs for a nice-sized crowd.

I hail from Chicago, you see, where the hardest thing about picking a place to meet is choosing which one to meet at. Maybe it’s because the rents are cheaper; maybe it’s because the people are.

Regardless, when you find a great venue to host a crowd, one with terrific draft beers and tasty food at reasonable prices, plus a big comfy space in which to hang, you must note it. And cherish it, and tell others, the right kind of others, hopefully, so that the cash will continue to flow its way and the vibe will persist in its awesomeness.

Barbara’s at the Brewery scores on all the above counts, and it’s easy to get to, and it has copious free parking on site. What’s more it’s the hang of choice (for obvious reasons) of the very nice tenants of the Brewery Arts Complex, an off-line brewery that was converted to artists’ lofts long ago, and which is the place for the twice-yearly, super-crazy Artwalk at the Brewery.

They’re even the unofficial headquarters of the KERNSPIRACY designers’ list, meatspace division: I’ve enjoyed many a glass of Cab mingling with designers, photographers and other delightful creative folk.

If you live in Los Angeles and you’re not a tool (sorry, tools, nothing personal!), please consider having your next party at the awesomely accommodating Barbara’s.

And tell Mike that Colleen said to say, “Hi!”…


Photo © 2009 Aaron Wulf.

Barbara’s at the Brewery
The Brewery Arts Complex

Poetry Thursday: All of it


All the joy
all the love
all the sunshine
and sodas
and puppy dogs
would mean nothing
without the rest of it.

All the work
all the tears
all the mistakes
and gaffes
and outright fuck-ups.

Sink through the floor
if you must
but remember
when you can
what put you on that floor
to begin with.

Then go find a ladder
and climb a little higher…


Image by fotologic via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

What’s up and what’s gone down (Aug 2009)


A thus-far monthly but forever occasional round-up of what I’ve been up to and what I plan to be. For full credits and details, see July’s entry.

Colleen of the future (places I’ll be)

Colleen of the Past (stuff that went down)

  • New interview! Er, Twitterview. What can I say: it’s a brave new world. Me and fabulous HOW magazine editrix Bryn Mooth mix it up on the Twitter about…the Twitter.
  • World Domination comes to Los Angeles! Haha, not really. But Chris Guillebeau did, and I helped to organize one of the funnest meetups ever for him and his considerable peeps. Follow him on Twitter and subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss future meetups coming to an area near you. (I mean, dude travels!)
  • The Escape from Cubicle Nation Workshop in Chicago Can I say how awesome this was, working with my gal, Pamela Slim? Doubtful. Just do yourselves a favor and go to the one Pam is doing in New York on September 12 with our mutual friend, Jonathan Fields. I am jealous I cannot be there, too.
  • …finally, I changed my tune. For the time being, anyway. Which is to say that I was so moved by Mark Silver’s Heart of Money course, I am an affiliate for the first time ever. Only one product so far, and the only affiliate links you find here will be clearly marked. The above link takes you to a standalone post I created outlining my experiences with and love for the damned thing. And that’s the only way I roll: no sidebar confetti for me. That’s a promise.

Colleen of the Present (ongoing projects)

  • I asked for something! Specifically, for you to nominate one of my 2009 posts for acceptance to Creative Nonfiction. I assembled what I think are the best candidates, to save you time, but hey, whatever you want to nominate is fine by me! By August 31, though. And thank you!
  • The Virgo Guide to Marketing I’m just over halfway through a year-long project where I work on my marketing daily and blog about it weekly. People seem to dig it, as well as the podcasts I record weekly. Go figger.
  • communicatrix | focuses My monthly newsletter devoted to the all-important subject of increasing your unique fabulosity. One article per month (with actionable tips! and minimal bullsh*t!) about becoming a better communicator, plus the best few of the many cool things I stumble across in my travels. Plus a tiny drawing by moi. Free! (archives & sign-up)
  • Act Smart! is my monthly column about marketing for actors for LA Casting, but I swear, you’ll find stuff in it that’s useful, too. Browse the archives, here.
  • Internet flotsam And of course, I snark it up on Twitter, chit-chat on Facebook, post the odd video or quote to Tumblr, and bookmark the good stuff I find on my travels at StumbleUpon and delicious.

Please let me know if you find this kind of curation at all useful, and/or if there’s a better way to handle it. Thanks!


Photo of Arno J. McScruff housed on Flickr, where I also occasionally stick pixels.

Book review: The Little Book of Moods


One of the saddest things about loving books to death is finding that someone else has actually killed them off.

I feel crazy-mad in love with a little “snack book”, my beloved paternal grandfather’s term for them, way back in 2004, when it caught my eye on an impulse-buy shelf at some local booksellers’ shop.

I’m rather, er, frugally-minded, so I tend to wait before buying. But I kept coming back again and again to read Jane Eldershaw’s delicious, compact, textbook/diagnostic of the things what ail us, The Little Book of Moods: 101 Ways to Identify and Deal with Any Emotion.

It offers exactly what it says on the cover: a quick way to identify what sort of a mood you’re in, plus a handful of prescriptives for handing it. “Sulky,” for example, is a place of withholding or withdrawing: “an attempt to punish someone or try to make her care by demonstrating your unhappiness without putting it into words.” Well, Eldershaw put that into words, and not very many, and very well chosen. There follow a quick series of illuminating circumstances, thoughts and how-tos for starting to find your way out of it.

She does the same with, well, 100 other moods, among them: “frumpy”, “ineffectual”, “apprehensive” and “vengeful”. We’re talking way beyond mad/sad/glad, here. When I first picked up my copy, I was in the throes of a bloody breakup, the most challenging theatrical role of my career and the beginning stages of Crohn’s. God knows what kinds of moods I was in at any given moment; the only thing I knew is that they were flitting through me like cards from the shoe of a particularly robust blackjack table. For a spinning top like me, The Little Book was a small miracle, something that would shut down the voices in my head and give me something to actually do, that I might keep them quiet a while longer.

It’s no longer in print (F&W, my homies! what’s up with that?!) and Eldershaw seems to have moved on to making jewelry from junk, but The Little Book lives on in extant copies available at low, low prices from resellers on Amazon, ALibris and Nothing would make me happier than to have a run on them, as it might convince the publisher (F&W! my peeps! come on!) or Eldershaw to revisit the book, and/or perhaps put up some nifty, sortable website with the amazing technology that’s evolved over the past five years. Content with the shit tagged out of it would help you more readily suss out your awful mood (let’s face it, the good ones are easy to grok, though still fun to read about) and do something about it. Make the world a better, happier place. (Seriously. Can we get Gretchen on this or something?)

Regardless, I highly recommend you snag your own copy. Mine has been my constant, if sometimes neglected, companion for almost five years now. I can’t help but think you or someone you love wouldn’t love one, too…


Image by allyaubry via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

The Resistor, and what he has to teach you

darth vader

After almost 48 years on the planet, many of them splashed over with big, fatty dreams, I know this: the more you want something, and the more it is the Next Right Thing for you to be doing, the harder you will push away from it.

It’s sort of a glorious indicator, really. I mean, if you want to take the Pollyanna/Rabbi Yehuda Berg angle on it: (1) Pinpoint what it is you’re trying to avoid; (2) then go, baby, go!

I’ve been gearing up for the Creative Freelancer Conference this week in San Diego. And by “gearing,” I mean, “alternately sweating every moment of it and avoiding the hell out of it.” It’s not like this is a brand, new thing for me, I’ve given many, many talks on Right Use of Social Media, i.e., using it for good (like a non-tool), not evil (like a latter-day gladhander), in the year since I spoke at the last one. I know and love the people who are putting it on, and, unless they’re a bunch of lying pirates, the feeling is pretty much mutual.

And yet, I’ve found myself putting off putting on those finishing touches I know I want to. Somehow, there’s always an email that needs answering or a request that needs tending to, or or or.

This weekend, a half-hour into plugging photos into my address book application, yes, really, I stopped myself. As in, “STOP. Now. Close this application. Finish what needs to be done, then go to bed, so you are fresh tomorrow, and the next day, and this next week, when you will need every bit of energy to vibrate at the ultra-high frequencies being in the presence of so much awesomeness demands of you.”

Amazingly, I obeyed myself this once. (This is me, obeying, how does it look? Also, don’t get too attached to it, I’m not so much with the obedience in general.) Here is the last part of it, for now:

  1. Think of the thing you really want, that you really, really want. More than a scoop of ice cream, or an hour vegging in front of the idiot box, or what have you.
  2. Now, think of the one, next thing you need to do, that you really, really need to do, to get there.
  3. Do it.

We will get there together, you and I.

And the Resistor? Well, a bad guy’s gotta do what a bad guy’s gotta do. Nothing personal…


Image © Erin Watson, via Flickr.

A small favor, from you to me

Twitter _ Alice Bradley_ Creative Nonfiction is loo ...

I had a long talk with an old friend of mine several months ago.

We knew each other back in college, when we both had our heads stuck pretty far up our asses. And then, over the years, we kind of lived on parallel tracks: getting into advertising, learning to be grownups, forming decent relationships, rekindling our secret interests in writing, getting published,

Oh, wait. He got published.

A short story, in a little literary magazine called Salamander. (It’s good; you should buy it.)

As he said, he may or may not have been more talented than the other people in his writers’ group, but he’s the only one who submitted his stuff. And you know what? Like they used to say with the Lotto, ya gotta be in it to win it.

I am not ready to submit a poem to Salamander (yet). But when I read the tweet from the wildly talented Alice Bradley, whose writing* I adore about Creative Nonfiction looking for submissions from bloggers, I had two thoughts:

  1. Hey, I’m a blogger who writes a lot of creative nonfiction, the fancy new word for essays!
  2. Why bother? They’ll never pick mine. (Wah wah. Sad trombone.)

This kind of crap has got to stop.

They might not pick mine, but you know what? They definitely won’t pick mine if I don’t submit something.

So here’s what I’ve done: selected what I think are the best posts that fit the criteria for submission, written in 2009, and that will stand alone (e.g., not too insider-y, not part of a series, etc), and collected them here.

I would love for you to read one or two or however many and submit them yourself. Or read them and tell me in the comments which I should submit. Because hot damn on a stick, I am entering this contest. Yes, I am.

And if I enter and you enter on behalf of me, maybe I will have a better chance, so I am asking for that. Yes, I am.

And if you tweet about it or put it on the Facebook or tell your mom, maybe I will have an even better chance, so I’m asking for that, too.


I thank you for your time and attention. I thank you for being here, just reading this blog, because no matter what, you reading is a big part of what’s kept me writing.

Now go forth and put yourself out there.

And me, too, if you would…


The deadline for nominations is August 31, 2009, but why tempt fate or failing memory? Vote now!

*And whose hi-larious site on motherhood she co-writes with the equally wildly talented and marvelous Eden Kennedy you should jump over and read immediately upon finishing this. Because I’m pretty indifferent to the topic and boy, howdy, I laughed my doomed, hateful, non-breeder ass off at this.