Good enough, Day 18: What’s up & what’s gone down

A formerly-monthly, currently-occasional round-up of what I’ve been up to and what’s in the hopper. For full credits and details, see this entry. Video, above (or click here to view on Flickr) of the PALATIAL suite I got upgraded to at the MGM Signature, a distinctly non-sucky, non-casino hotel on the otherwise frightening Las Vegas Strip.

Colleen of the future (stuff I’ll be doing)

The last time I posted an update like this was the first where I admitted that I had (almost) nothing planned, networking- and speaking-wise. After years of go-go-go, it was time to stop. Full stop.

Now, after many months of rest, contemplation, and other manifestations of interior reconstruction, I’m sticking a toe in the waters of Real Life again—now, with the full knowledge that really, it is no more real than the other kind. It is, however, easier for others to attend and/or participate in!

  • DV Expo (Los Angeles, September 25) :: I will be giving a one-hour talk titled, “Sell Me a Story: Building Your Own Fan Base in the Digital Economy”—possibly my favorite talk title I have ever come up with. Like most things, it came to me when I’d all but given up on it.
  • PACA Conference (NYC, October 21) :: I’m honored to be giving the keynote address at the 18th Annual event for PACA, the Digital Media Licensing Association. This year’s theme is “Opportunity in Change,” and as we know, that is right up my particular alley.

I would love love LOVE to come speak to your organization or institution about marketing/social media, crowdfunding, and communicating across the digital divide. I’m especially interested in speaking at schools and institutions local to Southern California, including guest speaking in college programs for actors, photographers, writers, and other creative types.

Please see my speaking page for more information, or email me: colleen AT communicatrix DOT com.

Colleen of the Past (stuff that has already gone down)

  • The Career Clinic :: I am thrilled every time I get to be a guest on my friend Maureen Anderson’s terrestrial radio show. She must love it, too, because not only does she keep having me back, but she lets me talk about all kinds of stuff that could only be very generously considered career-related. In June of this year, we talked about why I continue to shave my head some two years after my pledge to do it once.
  • Visual Connections blog :: I advocate for margins in this post for the visual media buyers’ blog, which I wrote partly as a warm-up for my talk at the PACA Conference this October. Also, it has my favorite title of any blog post I’ve written, ever—I’ve been wanting to use it since I dreamed it up back in 2008, and was thrilled to finally find a topic it worked for.
  • AdvancementLive :: My friend and colleague Andrew Gossen, Director of Social Media Strategy at Cornell University, hosted a Google+ chat on Crowdfunding and Higher Education and asked really good questions. I come at it from the individual/marketing angle, and Ryan Davies of Carleton University talks about it from the institutional perspective.
  • Walking Wilshire :: For National Walking Day, my favorite L.A. pedestrian, Alissa Walker, did a series of podcasts on Wilshire Boulvard for KCRW. Literally, ON WILSHIRE. She caught up with me after a panel at The SAG Foundation, and interviewed me on my 20 years (!!) of living in the ‘hood.
  • The Setup :: My rig has changed a bit in the 11 months since this interview ran, but I’m too much of a nerd fangirl not to share this interview with my favorite geek-paradise website.
  • The Strictly Business Blog :: Fifteen new posts on marketing, self-improvement, and a whole lot of other cool stuff since the last round-up! No, I’m not going to link to each individually!

I’ve also been fortunate to represent my client ASMP with some new talks on branding and marketing at WPPI, WPPI On the Road, the Palm Springs Photo Festival, and to return to both Cornell’s Alumni Leadership Conference and to HOW’S Creative Freelancer Conference (where, in what may be my craziest bit of serendipitous freakitude to date, I presented a talk featuring, among other things, a story about Jessica Hische while she was sitting a mere 20 feet from me! It was absolutely as awesome as you might imagine.)

Oh—and I also got to give a little teaching-style lecture to my fellow actors again on behalf of my longtime client, Casting Networks, and to a photography business class at Pasadena City College, which I LOVED. Did I mention I love speaking and that you should email me about doing it for your organization? WELL, I’M DOING IT AGAIN.

Colleen of the Present (stuff I do, rain or shine)

  • Act Smart! is my monthly column about marketing for LA Casting. Nominally for actors, there’s a ton of good info in there for any creative business person. Browse the archives, here.
  • Internet flotsam ::  I remain hopefully optimistic about social media, despite the crapulous happenings one must endure every day on the major channels. Currently, I am most active on Facebook, but I will occasionally post to Flickr and Twitter, and, once in a blue moon, Instagram and Pinterest. I’ve also been writing at least a very short summary about (almost) every book I read to Goodreads.

xxx
c

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bloggy-free-books

Good enough, Day 17: Easy readin’

On the walk that takes me to my mailbox, where I always hope to find checks and occasionally do, I discovered another lovely little box full of daily surprises.

Not all of the books are my thing. A few don’t seem to be anyone’s thing—they’re there day after day, week after week. (Although maybe the neighborhood is home to some especially voracious bibliophile with a lot of free time and a thing for technical manuals. Could happen!)

It almost doesn’t matter; it’s the very act of providing free (FREE!) books to the neighborhood in a little, glass-faced, shingle-roofed box that is the great thing.

But you know, that Tom Sizemore book? More than good enough.

xxx
c

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bloggy-earbuds

Good enough, Day 16: The joyful frugalista

For most of my life, I have been obsessed with two things: looking cool, and never, ever getting caught trying to look cool.

I’ve gotten away with it more than you’d think (though less than I’d have liked), and it’s made life easier in at least as many ways as it’s complicated it.

Here’s the thing, though—it, more than any other thing or series of things I have done, has been exhausting. At some point, when I have the distance and the perspective to provide meaningful information, I will share the stories of Trying to Be Cool, and Doing It Sometimes, and Failing Miserably at Other Times, and all the rest. Really, there are bits and pieces of these stories studded throughout the pages of this blog, if you know how to look for them. I am learning this, too—how to look for them.

But lo, a simple illustration: because of this insatiable need to look cool, I have bought a lot of dumb things. And I mean a LOT of dumb things. I did this even more a couple of decades ago, when I was truly miserable in my job and life and desperately using retail therapy to try to plug those leaks as well; I still remember the horrible, sick feeling that came over me in the mid/late ’90s, when I got around to shredding old credit card statements from the late ’80s. (And that’s just from the stuff you can put on credit cards, if you know what I’m sayin’.)

Right now, for a variety of reasons born of good intentions that have resulted in hampered cash flow, I am restricting spending to essentials. Or “essentials”, because really, how do you justify gasoline and fancy groceries and a stupid-expensive cell phone plan and these three URLs because you have wanted them for sooooo long and all the rest of it as “essentials” when you have your very own water coming out of your very own pipes—hot and cold and running—and there are people on the very same planet walking 12 miles barefoot each way for maybe—if they’re lucky—a pail of murky, questionable liquid one could only call “water” out of perverseness. You don’t, that’s how. You appreciate the hell out of your glorious, luxurious, convenience-filled life, and try to be a good steward of the considerable resources you remain blessed with even during what 1980’s, fat-cat you would dub “lean times.”

Which is exactly what I’ve been doing. And, surprise!, this feels utterly fantastic, both because MATURITY and also because I really, really appreciate the things I do still spend money on.

But because I am an American softie, doomed to be among the first down in our upcoming zombie apocalypse, I still get a little twitchy sometimes. Not about big, scary potential outcomes, real or imagined, but stupid crap like “What will I wear to that party?” or “What will I get so-and-so for their birthday?” or “Why the $@% do these %@!) ear buds from !#$))! Apple  fall out of my gigantic Dumbo flappers no matter how hard I squish them in there??” (You can see why I get a charge out of those rare moments when MATURITY.)

And then, I let it go. Because whatever. Because it’s unbecoming and ungenerous and ridiculous. Because it’s enough that I have a nice, safe apartment and plenty to eat and read, and fine friends to hang out with, and a mostly healthy body to get me around to places, and doctors to take care of me when my health goes south.

And more times than not, answers just show up now, with no effort on my part: I remember how these shoes I never wear anymore because of all the walking I do now may not be good for walking, but kick ass with these jeans and that shirt that’s in the Goodwill pile but hasn’t made it there yet. (Sorry, Goodwill. I’ll send something else.) Or the perfect inexpensive gift will fall from the sky, on a “sale” cloud.

Or a nutty, out-of-the-blue though: “I wonder if it would help to turn the ear buds around and drape the cords over my gigantic, Dumbo flappers?” And because the need to enjoy my 4- and 6- and 10-mile walks with my current podcast obsession overrides the desire to look cool and/or the desire to part with dollars, I do it, and dad-gum it if figuring out a workaround that costs me exactly nothing doesn’t make me feel 10x more ingenious and foxy and, yes, COOL, than getting a pair of those hand-carved wood ear buds or noise-canceling audiophile ear buds or any other goddamn ear buds ever could. Even though I am 100% sure I look like a nut job, walking around with my ear buds in backwards.

Don’t get me wrong: I am definitely looking forward to the day when, once again, I have money to throw at problems. Options are fantastic, and there are many, many problems (and awesome, fun, ingenious solutions to them) that it would be fun to throw money at.

But I’m no longer under the illusion that I can buy my way to cool, or even that I would if I could. I am not yet at that place where I don’t care what anyone thinks of me, but I think I can see the road signs from here.

And that’s more than good enough. That, I am also starting to see, is everything.

xxx
c

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spiral notebooks plastered with stickers

Good enough, Day 15: Arts & crafty

As the heat finally and mercifully receded this morning, it occurred to me that I need not put up with the crap design, lame typography, and gratuitous use of American flags that goes hand-in-hand with low-end school supplies. Not as long as my “Stickers” file remains well stocked.

(Related: feel free to mail me your unwanted stickers.)

xxx
c

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a laptop, dictionary, and spiral notebook

Good enough, Day 14: Going public

I like things the way I like them—exactly.

I like being in my apartment with my things all where I put them last—these days, usually cleaned and neatly back in their rightful spots, but even before then, the crusty socks on the middle of the floor where I left them, dammit.

I like working on my (old) laptop rather than my fancy, light-as-Macbook-Air because it has all my stuff on it, all the way I like it, and I like it connected to my Logitech mouse, Apple wireless keyboard, and Cinema Display. (For a person who cries “poor” all the time, I have ridiculously nice equipment, but I’m miserly with soap, gasoline, and vacations.) (And we won’t even get into how old my underwear is.)

Every once in a while, though, my likes run up against each other.

For example, I like really good paper and I like writing on it with a really nice fountain pen. But I burn through spiral notebooks like Liz Taylor did husbands, and crikey, have you priced them lately? Spiral notebooks or husbands, for that matter. Not cheap. So I have settled on cheap spiral notebooks with cheap, crappy paper that bleeds*—10 for $9.99—and a freebie ballpoint that won’t. (although when I went to replace the cartridge, I discovered that the thing they say about no free lunches applies to pens, too.)

I also like to be cool—temperature-wise, not personality-wise, which I’ve given up on. It has not been possible thus far to secure air-conditioning for my apartment, and so when summer seizes this city each year, I’m faced with a dilemma: work in the place I really, really like, but suffer through the heat; or take my bidness to an outside location with air-conditioning.

I am writing this from my library. It is noisy—a Saturday—and it is crowded. People do…weird things here. If you want to use the toilet, you have to make eye contact with a stranger and ask them to watch your stuff, which can be awkward for shy introverts. Their dictionaries are non-horrible, but they can’t touch my behemoth, Bertrand.

It is not ideal; it is not even close. (Well, actually, it is very close, and that part is awesome.) But it is cool and it is lit and it has shorty tables for tiny-legged people like me for to rest their exhausted, overheated selves and hammer out blog posts.

And after two weeks of >90ºF temperatures? In the spirit of the series, let’s just say it that if it isn’t exactly how I’d have it, it’s exactly good enough.

xxx
c

*UPDATE: Not to mention lackluster design and typeface choices. How did I leave off that gem? I blame the heat!

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photo by susan carr of a lived-in kitchen

Good enough, Day 13: Home for keeps

About a year ago, one of the finest humans I’ve ever met died after a horrific fight with pancreatic cancer.

I’d known Susan Carr a scant two years by then, but she was one of those people who rocket straight to the top of your “besties” list if you’re lucky enough to come across them in the wild. Susan was my client first, my editor later, a friend sooner than I deserved, and an inspiration throughout. I looked forward to every single exchange with her—too few of them happened in person, but she could make a phone call count. She was that rare combination of smart, talented, principled, and compassionate, and dammit if she didn’t have a wicked sense of humor on top of it all.

Aside from her amazing work as the educational director of ASMP and her professional work as a photographer, Susan was also an amazing fine-art photographer. Her final project, a series of interiors of homes across the U.S. that had been continuously inhabited by their occupants for 40 or more years, is rich with quiet insight. Each black-and-white photograph tells a story without saying a word, partly because when we spend enough time in one place, we wear little grooves into it with objects and arrangements that reveal our hopes, dreams, and values, but also because Susan had an unerring eye for capturing those spaces—honestly, respectfully, and humbly.

Susan spent her last days editing the collection of images. It was her dream that someday, they be assembled into a book. Some good friends and colleagues have picked up where Susan left off and prepped this beautiful, 140-pp, hardcover book for production. The $42 price tag isn’t cheap, but it’s good for a high-quality art photography book, and includes shipping (to the lower 48, I’m guessing). And all the money goes toward production; services are donated. We’re hoping to get pre-orders for a minimum run of 1,000 copies by September 24th. If we don’t meet our minimum, no book; if we surpass it, the individual book price will go down.

I like to think that if she’d lived longer, Susan Carr would eventually have taken a photo of my crazy little pink-and-dingbat-tiled kitchen. After all, I’ve lived here for 14 years already; it’s not impossible that a 78-year-old me could still live here, and a 77-year-old Susan trundle up the stairs with whatever cameras would look like by then, to snap a few shots.

Maybe she would have captured the quirks of my personality in the odd objects I keep in my pen cabinets. Maybe she would have found the thread in the collection of notes on my fridge, or some personal-yet-universal truth in the thrift-store lamp with the ruined shade I never did get around to replacing. Maybe she would be able to tell my story in a way I cannot, because I am too close to it, or because I still have too many magazine-fueled ideas of how things are supposed to look.

She was adept at telling stories, Susan Carr. Partly because she was gifted, but also because she was wise: she knew what was good, and that most of what we have in our brief time here is more than good enough.

xxx
c

Pre-order Intimate Histories, by Susan Carr

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Photo © Susan Carr.

monogrammed sheets and pillowcases

Good enough, Day 12: A top sheet as flat as the Ritz

Last year, through a series of mishaps (mine) and one generous act (my sister and brother-in-law’s), I ended up the owner of some very nice cotton sheets. With monograms! Because even though monograms are ridiculous, everyone secretly loves them.

Here’s what else they love: sleeping on ironed, white cotton sheets. Which is pretty easy to do at any mid-level hotel these days, but harder to pull off at home, because—well, ironing.

Here’s the thing, though: I love ironing. I have loved it since I learned how to do it properly, back in high school. There was a sunny little room in our house dedicated to sewing and/or guests, neither of which seemed to happen much, so mostly, I’d truck on up there after school, or some other time when it was still light, and iron everything in the house that was made of cotton. My stepfather had the best deal going on pressed shirts, and I got to comfort myself with a useful, repetitive activity and syndicated TV.

Over the past year, I looked forward to Friday nights not because I was going out, tearing up the town, but because Friday day was laundry day, and after laundry day came ironing night. Ironing plus Quincy. Ironing plus Law & Order. Ironing plus Inspector Morse. Very, very soothing.

And then, after I put the crisp sheets on the bed and made it up just so, I’d take a good hot bath or shower and slip into something that felt as good as a freshly made bed the first night of a hotel stay, only better, because it was in my house, which meant I wouldn’t stub my toe on the way to a strange bathroom in the middle of the night, and that I’d be able to have my coffee when and how I liked it in the morning without getting out of my pajamas. When I get the single, raised eyebrow in response to my odd domestic habit—as, believe me, I do—I hasten to assure people that this is not my perfectionism raining down on my own parade, but a joyous act of deep self-care. Crisp sheets! Procedural dramas! Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it, folks.

However, there is a point where self-care turns into self-basting, and that point is when the thermometer you keep in the coolest place in the apartment, 12 inches from where you do your ironing, reads “94ºF”.

Did you know you can watch Inspector Morse in bed, lying on wrinkled sheets, and sleep just as well? Me, neither.

Good enough.

xxx
c

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