January 30, 2010

G G Bridge

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Jax and Tara

So, I'm more than a bit taken with Sons of Anarchy. Here are my two favorite characters - Tara Knowles played by Maggie Smith and Jax Teller played by Charlie Hunnam.

On a Mission

Amazing how much freedom I now feel with four wheels! Suddenly the whole State of California is open to me again. After watching the final episodes of Sons of Anarchy season 2 I have the travel bug. The show takes place in NorCal (Northern California) and much of the beautiful, varied landscape is featured in the scenes. Well, I don't ride a motorcycle but I do have the freedom to drive to these breath-taking vistas.

A travel photography idea I've had for at least fifteen years has been to travel to the California Missions. There are 21 in total and each is unique. This year, my photography goal is to travel to all 21 of the missions and document my journeys both in words in images.

My fantastic Career Development students are further inspiring me to pursue my photography dream. This semester I have three guys in the film/photography major and seeing their work has encouraged me to do more of my own. The class is spectacular - everyone is a unique character and each is living their artistic dreams. Now that this is the Year of Living Your Dreams I am going to do the same.

Stay tuned for my adventures over the next 12 months. I may even begin with the San Francisco Mission, one I have never visited. My favorite is Mission Nuesetro Senora de la Soledad. Certainly each will provide me with surprises. 

This map is from the California Missions website. 

January 29, 2010

Free Coffee

The free coffee monster in our faculty lounge at the Art Institute. Going for decaf. Yummy.
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January 28, 2010

I Peep You

Featured Recipe - PEEPS® "I Luv U" Cake

1. Prepare cake mixes according to package directions and combine batter.
2. Fill a 4" mini heart-shaped cake pan 3/4 full with batter. Fill two 8" round cake pans 3/4 full with batter. Discard any remaining batter.
3. Bake cakes according to package directions, or until toothpick comes out clean, and let cool.
4. Cut a thin slice off the top of each cake to make them level.
5. Place one round cake on a plate or cake stand and top with vanilla frosting. Place the second round cake on top of frosting. Frost entire cake with vanilla frosting.
6. Mix red food coloring with remaining vanilla frosting to make a desired shade of pink.
7. Frost heart-shaped cake with pink frosting and place on top of round cakes.
8. Press PEEPS® Marshmallow "I Luv U" shapes firmly into frosting around outside of round cakes. Place a PEEPS® Strawberry Crème Flavored Marshmallow Heart standing up on top of the heart-shaped cake.
9. If desired, pipe red decorating icing around the base of the heart-shaped cake and garnish top of round cakes with sliced strawberries.

12-15 servings

Warning: Pans removed from oven will be extremely hot. Please use heat resistant oven mitts. Parental supervision is advised.

SF City Hall

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Are You Having Mission Drift Just to Survive?

I'm at a San Francisco conference called Dynamic Adaptability: new thinking and new strategies for the arts. One of my favorite artists/administrators is now speaking, Jaime Cortez. We sat together on an Oakland Cultural Arts grant panel last year and I was so inspired by everything he has to offer.

Jaime just stated that his art is now blending with his consulting work. Like me, he cobbles together many projects to make a living. He is constantly learning and trying new things and making an impact with meaningful work. The challenge, he states, is making sure that you are clear about your mission and not letting it drift just to survive. Words of wisdom.
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January 25, 2010

New Used Car

Thanks to my friend Jeff and his neighbor Joe I am now the happy owner of a 2001 Mercury Sable that is in excellent condition, drives really well and makes me feel all grown up. What a beautiful car! I'm very happy. It hasn't sunk in yet but I know my life will be a lot easier. However, I do plan on keeping up with biking and walking.

Now to get a parking sticker because I have to move it every two hours during the day when I park in my neighborhood. Actually, I was in the City today so my mom, who is visiting, had to move it every two hours. How's that for making your guests work for their stay?

January 23, 2010

Romantic Evening in the Mission

Applaud my parents and Grammie on their venturing into the Mission. Here we are at the Roosevelt Tamale Parlor. Good times with Dad getting weird as usual.
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San francisco at Sunset from Twin Peaks

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A Full House

My apartment easily converts from a one person abode into a four person hotel. Grammie, Mom and Dad are visiting and I've set my folks up in the living room. Some of my friends think that this is outrageous, but we are very Kweskin which means we like to be cheap and cheerful - or what we call, casual.

Grammie and I are actually sharing a bed. It is a little bit weird, I suppose, but not really. When I asked Grammie if this would be OK with her she said, "I haven't shared a bed with someone in years, I wonder how it will be." Well, I think it is turning out fine. She sleeps soundly and I'm getting use to sharing my bet with someone since it has been years for me as well.

We had numerous cousins over for dinner last night and now know that my place can seat at least nine for dinner. However, this requires that the bedroom be loaded with all other extra furniture and you have to pass through that tornado zone to get to the bathroom. Never a dull moment in the Kweskin household.

January 21, 2010

Multiplatform Mania

With this Interim Director of Operations and Communications job I now have an iPhone....and my Blackberry. If I had a hard enough time holding on to my iPhone before, now I have to juggle two devices. Getting the new iPhone I instantly felt more civilized. Difficult to believe, but in just a month I've forgotten how to use iPhone. It is the same challenge as moving between Mac and PC, which I'm also doing with this job. Add to that moving between yahoo mail, google mail and microsoft exchange server email. My brain is melting.

January 19, 2010

Four Wheels Keep on Turning

Amazing news! I'm just days away from getting a car. Sorry Andy, but it won't be a Honda - however the vehicle is a good deal. Just waiting to get it checked out and make sure all is healthy. I've already named it Freddy as my last car was George.

Having my cousin Ben's car has been a reminder of how much time I save with having four wheels. Yesterday I was able to drive into San Francisco in the pouring rain and save an hour of BART commuting and then I drove to a meeting across the city. The cost savings of driving vs BARTing aren't that much different either. Using City Car Share is the most expensive option of all.

I'll be honest, I'm worried about the lifestyle change. Walking and bike riding keep me in super shape. So, the challenge will be making sure I still walk and ride as much as possible and don't become a car potato.

January 17, 2010

Fostering Leadership in Partnership

Something I've learned about myself, over the past few years, is that I am loyal to partnership - specifically romantic partners. Not sure why but I hold on tight, even if it hurts me, even if the person is the wrong fit. In the rest of my world I'm all about self preservation, protection, privacy - the three "p's". That is why watching shows like Sons of Anarchy and Mafia films pulls me in - I'm so interested in that cross-over of loyalty to self, to the partnership and to the "pack".

Recently I've been spending time with dogs. Growing up we had a dog but it wasn't integrated into our family, shamefully. The dog craved our attention, needed our interaction yet we pushed him away. Unfortunately, I was the one who found him at the end of his life. Over the years I have had dreams of this dog speaking to me, he is a lion, he is strong, glowing, and loving.

I'm learning that dogs look up to a pack leader. They need a power above them in order to stay sane. This is yet another lesson I learned from TV - watching The Dog Whisperer. For me, following a leader always feels like selling out or bowing to religion. I don't do those things. But dogs need that order, and perhaps people do as well.

This balance of leader and follower has always been a challenge for me. Yet it is different when I'm in a one-to-one relationship. I wouldn't say I'm a follower, just loyal to my partner. Being on my own has been an interesting challenge as I am now a bit of a drifter, a floater, unattached. My inclination is to be attached so that I have that balance, that greater meaning. This loyalty is indescribable and insurmountable, a gravity to which I am pulled.

Over the weekend I met a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and was blown away by this dog's brilliance, loyalty and affection. He was eager to meet me, so different from the barking dogs that immediately go into defense mode. As my visit to his home extended he began to guard me and by the time I was ready to go home he was cuddling on me with his had on my neck. It was such a surprising interaction, especially from a pit bull. It reflected on the relationship he has with his "pack leader" who clearly provides stability, continuity and strength. A very safe feeling.

My life doesn't feel unsafe but I am drifting, place holding, looking. This is such a difficult dilemma as a woman of nearly 41. I never thought I would be on my own and although it is good to be strong and independent it is incomplete. Out here in CA I have my peeps, my friends, family, career...I work with artists who form their own packs, with Boards of Directors that are also packs. Perhaps in the classroom I am the "pack leader" and I am embracing that role as well.

But in my personal life I crave that partnership, union. All these other roles are merely foster relationships in which I overindulge to fill in that empty space. Striking a balance is oh so difficult.

January 14, 2010

What Goes Around Comes Around

Well, I just got a $75 parking ticket in my neighborhood for "double parking" my cousin Ben's car. I have had it all of one hour and there goes enough money to cover my gas and electric and wireless bills for the month. I've seen cars park in this space before, but nope, it wasn't legal.

At first I was furious and said a few good f-ing words. Then I decided that the money I was going to use for an Oakland business license has just been realocated to their parking fund. That may still hold true. But now I'm seeing it differently and believe that this money is going to come back to me in some way because I'm a good person doing good work on behalf of Oakland. I'll even put out there that I see this $75 investment coming back to me in the form of a very affordable car for purchase. Not a $75 car but one that is within my budget.

I know, back and forth I go on buying a car. But it hit me over the holidays when I was sitting here in Oakland and only able to go as far as BART could take me. I need further access! I live in one of the most beautiful, if most debt-ridden states. The bike works great. City Car Share is fine for short runs. Now I'm ready for wheels - four of them.

Okay parking Karma gods - I know this is going to come back to me in good ways. Let's just say, I set this as your challenge for an opportunity.

January 13, 2010

Sons of Anarchy

Okay, so I enjoy Mafia dramas. Wanna make somethin' of it?

First Goodfellas, then The Sopranos and now Sons of Anarchy on FX This one is Mafia on wheels, a motorcycle club based in Northern California running the town of Charming, which is anything but delightful. I suppose what I enjoy best about these shows are the conflicts between values, beliefs and behaviors. Family values overlap at "work" and "home"and play out in the intense, conflicting drama of good and evil where loyalty begins and ends. Suddenly it all makes sense, and then not.

Some of the acting is superb. Katey Segal, formerly of Married with Children is a knock out. Her fictional son Jax, played by British actor, Charlie Hunnam, carries the show with his humor, energy and strength of character (good looks too).

Living in the urban Bay Area you forget that just a few miles away life is quite different from the rainbow of people and beliefs we're submerged in every day. Reminds me of when I lived in Salinas.

Warning: Violence in this video:

January 10, 2010


Dates like these are fun. I remember 8.8.88. That was the summer when I waitressed at Brock's Restaurant in Stamford. We always wrote the date on the top of our food order checks and we had a good laugh about 8/8/88. What a fantastic summer of waiting tables, making oodles of cash and smelling like burgers. Too bad the restaurant is gone and now a soulless Cosi stands in its place. Brock's was dark and dungeness, and believe me the subterranean prep kitchen, walk-in fridge and manager's office were like a dungeon, but they had fantastic burgers and fries, and the staff were like family, fully dysfunctional in their own loving way.

3.3.3 I photographed a wedding in San Francisco City Hall at 3:33pm. That was when I was thinking of going into wedding photography as a business. Liz, who I met by way of my job at the Business Arts Council, told me she and her fiancé were eloping on 3.3.3. I immediately offered to photograph the ceremony for free. It was so much fun shadowing the two of them and their two guests through city hall. The images came out beautifully. People thought that she had been married in Europe because the inside of City Hall is so old world and her dress so elegant. March 3 is also my dad's birthday so that was a fun double-cool memory.

What is in store for today?

January 7, 2010

You Know You're Busy When...

This is what your dinner setup looks like. What you can't see is that I am checking six email accounts at once and am running both a Mac and PC.
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January 6, 2010

Taking it a Step Higher

Yesterday I reached two career goals that are taking me to the next level in my leadership evolution. These accomplishments seem sudden on one hand, but they've been years in development. Or, I've been years in development.

The first is that I have been elected as President of the Board of Pro Arts, an artist service and exhibition organization based here in Oakland. I've been involved in the organization for years - acting as a Board consultant and also as an Artist-Member. Over the past six months in particular the organization has found its footing by taking over a gallery space on the Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in Oakland's City Center. Their level of professionalism has increased and I'm impressed. Being involved in a leadership role, that is steeped in accountability, has me jazzed. I know that under the direction of Executive Director, Margo Dunlap, the organization is in good hands. We're going to make a great team - taking it to the next level.

The second is being hired on as the Interim Director of Operations and Communications for an Education Foundation based in San Francisco. This organization, which I'll identify in later a post, provides amazing college-prep programs for High School students. I've had the opportunity to participate as a volunteer over the past year. Several of my colleagues are involved in the organization and I trust them and clearly they trust me.

Both of these roles take me to the next level in my career. Now is my opportunity to utilize my leadership teaching and put it into practice. Stepping into my stretch zone in 2010 and living my dreams. Now to work on my art!

January 4, 2010

On the Edge of the Unknown

This evening I took a yoga class at Piedmont Yoga Studio, located conveniently a street away from my apartment, with instructor Vickie Russell Bell. Vickie has such a wonderful way about her - strong, clear, funny and grounding. During her class I feel stronger as we progress through poses and find a relaxing bliss in savasana pose.

Throughout the practice she had us reflect on 2009 by asking us to consider four questions.
1) What surprised you in 2009?
2) What went well?
3) What didn't go well?
4) What did you learn?
Contemplating these questions throughout the practice was a powerful way to close-out the year. To conclude the class Vickie read us an excerpt from a Joseph Campbell writing. I've always thought he was New-Agey-Flaky but I don't think I've ever previously heard his work. I wish that I could recall the book she read from so that I could access the exact quote but it went something like this...

Being on the edge of darkness in the forest, we do not know the path. If there is a path we take, it is someone else's path we follow and not our own. To be truly inspired you must take your own path.

This reminded me of one of my favorite poems, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.

Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

For the past couple of years I've been taking my own path, without any road map or instruction. It is very scary at times and that makes sense, this path has never been forged before, at least by me. I have to assess the markers and determine if each step I take is safe. Often they are not, but being strong and brave, I find my way. Sometimes it feels like I'm pushing way past my comfort zone and dip into panic. Yoga and meditation are allowing me to find that calm that is often so fleeting.

January 2, 2010

Take Art Home

SFMOMA has permission to endlessly reprint an untitled image by Felix Gonzalez-Torres and so there is a giant pile on the gallery floor. It is fun to watch people figure out they can take one... Or two.
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Angels in America

I've watched the perfect series/film for launching 2010 - Angels in America. It is interesting to note that so many of my favorite films feature Meryl Streep - Mama Mia, Julie and Julia were two that impacted me in the past year or so. Well, she's done it again with this film - although it is really the entire ensemble that made this film fly, literally.

Even more than the actors, it was the relationships that touched me so deeply. I have so much more clarity as to what I lived through for seven years. But in the end, it is your friends who help you see through the clutter and reach reality - whatever that may be.

In the film, Prior, the protagonist,  has a favorite angel - Bethesda - Angel of the Waters. Angels are weightless, yet grounded, delicate yet firm, animate yet unreal. In the photo above the film ends in front of this inspirational fountain. Over the past couple of weeks I've been exploring my local Angels. Perhaps I will find one who inspires me as well.