Saturday, December 29, 2012

reflect and renew and a few wishes - hello 2013

kissing goodbye 2012... for better and worse...
I've been on a tear to finish a manuscript which means long days and nights at the computer in between anything else I might be doing.

And I've had a head cold (doesn't that sound old fashioned?) for weeks. A two week + head cold.

And, of course, there was the little matter of the holidays.

Which is my way of saying that my thoughts are disorganized and discombobulated and I feel unready to make my usual resolutions.

Yet, I feel the year end is an important time -- an opportunity to reflect, and a clean slate to renew.

So, I thought I'd at least take a few minutes to reflect on a very few of the highlights of my year (honestly, there have been MANY)

and to renew my determination in a few of the areas I didn't quiet live up to my own hopes and expectations this year (honestly, there have been MANY).

Happy Reflection:

Highlights (these are MY personal highlights, not those of my children - that their highlights are my greatest joy should go without saying):

look, I even got my own star... :)

the title page of the script.

-- and (yes, it's still totally pie-in-the-sky at this point, so the truth is, I'm not so much "excited" as I am flattered and enjoying the fun of it).

Of course, there were other wonderful highlights too,

a school visit in Pennsylvania, and a few in NYC, as well as a bunch of Skype visits to classrooms around the country giving me a chance to connect directly with my readers;

the day to day humor and joy of connecting with my friends -- both virtual and in person;

and the blessing of living near the water, and extending our open water season to nearly seven months of regular daily swims...

West Neck Beach where I frolic with the Pod
to name a few.

But there are places where I've failed miserably and hope to do better this year.

Renewed Commitment:

  • More writing, less facebook. Sad, but true. I love my shiny facebook friends, but I need to be more focused and less distracted from my writing. I had hoped to have my "next hopeful" manuscript [working title In Sight of Stars] revised by the end of the summer, and have a new one I started that I was liking in rough draft by year's end. Instead, I am still trying to finalize the former and haven't touched the other. It's nobody's fault but my own.

Not to mention that I hoped to revise Swim Back to Me, and maybe send it out there once again.

Yes, I've done some good writing, and had revisions due to my editor in between, but the lampost and I both know I've procrastinated a great deal, and I'm not getting any younger.

  • More yoga. Less almost going to yoga.

  • Less talk, more action. Helping people. Contributing to the larger world.

  • More reading, less mindless TV;
                                                                                and, dare I say,

  • I've got a few bigger swims to tackle...

Well, I've got a lot more where that came from: disappointments that I want to turn to opportunity and personal improvement, but the bewitching hour of my headcold is getting the best of me.

I can't end 2012 without making a few wishes:

  • gun control
  • a kinder gentler nation for my kids,
  • and that you all have a year without suffering.

Happy New Year to all!

Please don't drink and drive. Pretty please, with a cherry on top. <3 p="p">
xox gae

Thursday, December 13, 2012

where water and wonder meet

i love artistic people.

i love the creative spirit.

i love when i connect with someone's work so deeply that I try to inhale it, internalize it, make it seep in through my pores.

(although it simultaneously pains me that i can't possess it wholly, wrap myself in it, make it happen through my fingers, or my lens).

no, i am not above coveting.

speaking of which,

this is lori.

photo credit: lori landau
she is where water and wonder meet.

she is, among other things, a poet, an artist, a friend.

i have known her since i am 15.

as teens and college students, we wrote poetry together as we pined for boys, made sense of the world, yearned for more. i have always coveted her words.

now, i also covet her art.

i admit this. oh, how i do.

last night, i was lucky enough to attend the closing of her show Works in a Series at the New York Open Center  (a meshing of her work from Elemental Soul and Nature of Mind). Did I mention the photographs are all of water?

Truth is Nameless, archival print
credit: lori landau

that was one of the many that made me hyperventilate. . .

you can imagine how i was mesmerized. . .

this is also lori
At the end of the show, lori spoke a bit about her creative process and what moves her as an artist and a photographer:

"Every photograph, every painting, and every drawing I do starts from the same place: that small, nameless force inside that seeks connection to myself and the world around me. . .

Art making is not an act of doing—it is a way of being in the world, a way of filtering all of those ordinary moments we all have—of being mindful about the little things: the way the light touches the top of the mountain when the sun is coming up. . . the sound of the ocean when you realize that it is breathing just like you are."

the audience listened, rapt, as she continued:

Breath of Light, archival print
credit: lori landau
"I don’t think you need to make art to get this. You just need to open to the experience.  

Both making art and viewing it are acts of deep listening, of deep feeling.
I know that you get this . . . 

We are all vulnerable. We all want to understand a little more about mystery.

We want to touch it. We want to be it.

We all want to matter."

when you look at lori's photographs,

you feel,

you connect,

but moreso, there is a certain tranquility, coupled with a stirring,

that allows you to open yourself, breathless,

to be moved.

in this way, her art matters.


If her photographs are tranquil, her paintings demand a bit more,

they pull and push,

they promise comfort, but house pain.

they evoke our own discomfort

but offer a path to calm.

top left Yama; top right: Dharana
middle left: Vyadhi; middle right: Tapasya
bottm left: dhyana; bottom right: Samadhi

4 x 5 paintings acrylic on canvas

credit: lori landau

". . . my desire is to do something with my feelings, to rise above them, to transform them, to transcribe my own interior. I consider my camera, pen & brush an extension of my hands, a translator of the “everyday me” a way to evoke the idealized part of myself. . . The photographs and paintings here rain into my heart and my hands from somewhere other than self, but I recognize myself more clearly when they arrive."

This particular show of Lori's closes today, but there will be more, trust me, and when there are,

you should go see them.



be moved.

"Photography and art remind me that
like water,
everything is constantly changing. . . 
(they) are a visual documentation of where I have been,
the only way,
other than memory,
to hold on to something. "
- gae


More about Lori:

Writer, artist and photographer Lori Landau’s work explores the intimate connection between meditative and creative states. As a certified yoga and meditation teacher, Landau is deeply inspired by the Buddhist concept of interconnectedness. A spiritual nomad at heart, her work
symbolizes her exploration of sacred mystery.

Her articles and poetry have been published in a wide range of magazines, books and blogs; most recently, in the upcoming An Anthology of Babes: 26 (or 30) Women Give Motherhood a Voice." In addition, Landau is a visual artist, whose work has been exhibited in several group and solo shows. Her concept-driven and interdisciplinary art spans a range of mediums, including photography, drawing and painting. Landau regularly uses her art and words as a platform to raise consciousness about both global and meta issues.

You can find more of her work on her own blog,, as well as the women’s section of
Finally, her new monthly column for iPinion will debut this Sunday! 


Monday, December 10, 2012

Missing Loehmann's

The good Loehmann's used to be in Huntington, a solid half hour west from my parents' house, where I grew up in Smithtown.

If you don't know Loehmann's, you are not a Jewish girl from Long Island.

If you don't know Loehmann's, you are not your Jewish-from-Long-Island mother's daughter.

Loehmann's was a dream maker: the place you could spend hours trying on, crying, laughing, until you found that perfect item or six that made you feel pretty, presentable, ready to face the world with your new wardrobe. The place you shopped for something to wear on your first date. The place you wept over braces, glasses, thunder thighs, too-big-boobs, unruly shopping hair, or the dilemma of finding something that would nicely mask the mild curvature in your spine that would require you to wear a scoliosis brace.

Loehmann's was the place that patient men -- fathers, husbands, unwitting boyfriends -- sat waiting, lined up and uncomfortable, in the hard plastic penalty chairs by the door, as the women they "represented" disappeared for painful hours into the bowels of the dressing room, only to reappear occasionally wearing the same item in a different color, or a size up or down, to ask the dreaded questions, "What do you think? This one, or this one? Does this look good on me?"
mom and me, undoubtably that sweat suit was my
80s idea of high fashion, but the sneakers are cute, no?

Remember, these were the days before iPhones and iPads. How my heart bleeds for those men...

Now, I say there was a good Loehmann's. . .

Several years after we started frequenting the far west (wonderful, wish-fulfilling) Loehmann's, a new Loehmann's opened east of us, a mere ten minutes or so from my mom's.

We were excited at first, but it quickly became evident that there was no comparison between the old Loehmann's (good!) and the new one: Bad. It was as if they were two different stores.

Disappointment, but no matter. We were troopers.
We would just have to continue to travel a half hour in the wrong direction to the good one.

There was this one time, however. . .

I was home for the weekend visiting (I was fresh out of college and, well, did I mention I could be an uber-bitch when I was younger?)

My mom and I donned proper shopping attire and off we went.

To the good Loehmann's.

The usual excitement popped and crackled in the air.

Our brains swam with images of hand knit sweaters.

That new-tag smell permeated the air.

Three-quarters of the way there, we got in an argument. Who remembers about what? Something stupid, don't ask me.

(total lie, I remember. . . oh, how I remember!)

Suffice it to say, things quickly decompensated. I mean things in the car got ugly.

My mother veered off the road into some other shopping center, and turned the car around.

We drove in silence toward home. Which was better than the prior screaming.

At the exit to our house, my mother kept going, the tension still thick in the car.

Tentative, afraid (was she dropping me off far from home where I'd have to hitch a ride back to the city?), I whispered, "where are we going?"

She turned and glared at me, the fury shining in her eyes.

"The bad Loehmann's," my mother spat at me.

And so we did.

We bought nothing.

A fine punishment, indeed.

This Sunday morning, driving home from dropping my son at Driver's Ed, I passed the old good Loehmann's, a sense of intense longing permeating my soul.

I mean, I know the store has been long empty. . .

But this time, as I passed, it had suddenly morphed into a mega Tool store.

A mega-fucking tool store.

Don't the Gods of all things good know that tools are the farthest thing from fashion?

There was something so bracing about seeing that tool store there. It left me feeling lost and old and forlorn.

I miss Loehmann's.

I love my mother.

Thank goodness for Annie Sez.

email exchange with my mom this a.m.
- gae