Whatever Lola Wants: Vine & Bone Blog on Food, Art and Photography

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A somewhat mythic presence in the the Sacramento art community, Lola Mo (or Lola Magnolia, as I have dubbed her) quietly absorbs, watches, tastes, documents and describes all things delicious and daring.  Not only does the woman make her own gin, she gives historic walking tours in Midtown and is a veritable fount of artful facts.

Wherever Lola goes, she leaves a faint spell in the air; people need to know who she is and what she does.  Her photographs are often poetic traces of her primal impressions.  I don’t know her very well, but I am always impressed by her vision, her painstaking aesthetic and her ravenous appetite for new concoctions.  Her blog is a litany of interesting discoveries and awakenings.  This particular page is about the creative process and feeling somewhat bogged down creatively, I took quite a bit of inspiration from it.  However, I recommend following her since she always has something beautiful to offer.  And I should warn you, I almost always come away hungry.

Vine & Bone: http://vinebone.com/2014/06/blog-tour-monday-the-creative-process/

The Big Event: a Social Media Wedding Story and the Limitations of Self-published Storytelling

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In publishing my latest short story collection, I encountered what I imagine are very common problems with formatting.  Kindle demands a sort of “one-size-fits-all” format from the text so that it is highly malleable.  It is exasperating to format in word only to put it in the Amazon Previewer and have it completely distort the text.  And then even when you think it looks great in the Previewer, once it is actually up on Kindle, it changes again.  I’m sure this has exposed me as a rank amateur.

From a creative writer’s perspective, a big advantage to self-publishing is that it potentially offers all kinds of alternative forms for storytelling.

One of the stories in my collection, entitled The Big Event, is about a grandiose wedding experienced entirely through the lens of social media.  I experimented with Facebook, Twitter and email style formatting.

What I found in trying to include this story with the rest, was that Amazon simply was not having it.  Knowing very little about #self-publishing, I looked around at other possible self-pub options, but most forums said the same thing: that if you wanted any success at all, you were eventually going to have to put it on Amazon.

So I got around it by setting up a Google doc that could be publicly shared and included a link.  As far as I know, when you get to this section of the text, you can click on the link and it will take you to the doc.  I am so curious if this worked for people and what their experience was trying to read a narrative in this medium. We are so used to absorbing information in this way, but we never think of it as a “story”.  If you did, I would really like to hear from you.  If you are similarly experimenting with different forms and styles and have found a platform that works better, please hit me up.

And if you really don’t have the patience to buy my shorts for a whopping 3 bucks, I am going to give you #theBigEvent for free.  You can read it right here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7xWw0hHvDc2alFodGIyeGNHTE0/edit?usp=sharing

Please note that this material is copyrighted and may not be reprinted without my consent.  Enjoy.

To check out my collection of short stories, The Brunt, visit: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MN2QRTG

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

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“I Left My Heart in San Francisco,

high on a hill, it calls to me.

Little cable cars, they climb half way to the stars

the morning fog may fill the air, but I don’t care…”- George Cory

It’s been almost seven years since I moved away from San Francisco.  And yet, I still dream, just like this morning, that I am there.  It’s usually the mayhem of Chinatown or the Mission and I am with a group of people desperately trying to coordinate an outing of some kind.  Or I am looking for housing. This morning, I was trying to talk my other single mom friend into moving in together.

I get an article in my FB feed once a week about a beloved venue, an old school restaurant or some other pivotal cultural institution coming down to make way for more upscale housing and wine bars.  The most heartbreaking so-longs recently have been Elbo Room and Cafe du Nord.

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Like many of my friends, I feel like the San Francisco I loved is no longer.  Most of my artist friends have made the exodus to Oakland or Berkeley. On the scale, I don’t think I am terribly sentimental, but the great architecture, the dive bars, the magic hole in the wall cafes and most of all the live music, all seem to be evaporating.

However, just as a counterpoint, I just finished reading #FrogMusic by Emma Donoghue, which is about an unsolved murder that happened in the City during a heat wave in the 1870s.  A bigger-than-life character named Jenny Bonnet was renowned city-wide for wearing men’s clothes, riding a boneshaker bicycle and generally causing a disturbance. The story is about her unlikely relationship with a lady of the stage, Blanche Beunon, and Jenny’s mysterious murder. http://www.sfchronicle.com/entertainment/books/item/Frog-map-28408.php

At one point, Jenny is in the as of yet undisturbed edge of town called San Miguel Station (known to you San Franciscans San Jose Ave and Alemeny Blvd) when a construction crew suddenly emerges to dam a pond and Jenny rants about how the whole city is changing.  So it ain’t new news.

There is another line in the story when the investigating officer sniffs at Blanche’s french origins and makes a cutting remark about how her kind flooded into the city around the Rush, threatening the City’s dignity.  The French, for godsakes.

San Francisco has always walked the line of defining civilized society and opportunity while hosting the shadiest of markets; it has always lauded it’s reputation for bohemian inclusion while cordoning off whole segments of its population.  Like any other American city that has prospered, it is a crystaline reflection of how the system fails most of its people.

I am far from defending the tech influx that has driven working people, retired people, disabled people out of their homes.  Where the charge of the City used to excite me, it now makes me acutely claustrophobic; the traffic is a nightmarish sea of cars at any time of day and the sidewalks are the same, just with people instead of cars.  Every good idea you have: “hey, let’s go to the De Young” is exhaustive with time/money/logistics because everyone else had that same idea, and a latte is like, ten dollars now.  If I’m going to live in New York, I want to actually live in New York.

I will not spoil the end of Frog Music for you, since it is a wild romp, truly delicious with details of a San Francisco of yore, but I relished the fact that Sacramento is the greener pasture, in the story anyway.  That is not to say that we don’t have our own version of gentrification here, but we still have reasonably priced housing and a middle class.  For now.

When I was an 11 year-old girl, my parents used to take us on family vacations driving up the length of California.  San Francisco was always my favorite and I would look out at the wild dips and dives of the streets and see myself at 21: long-legged, stylishly dressed, on my way to a gig singing jazz in some smoky dive bar.  I really believed San Francisco would be my forever home.  And while I have no urge to return again, not even in my older, billionaire fantasies, there is still a way in which “it calls to me.”

#SanFrancisco, #SiliconValley, #Emma Donaghue, #Bay Area, #SFmusicians

Teaching Yoga at Sutter Center for Psychiatry through the Yoga Seed Collective

I am lucky enough to be one of the teachers in on the ground floor of a project that provides #yoga to the patients at Sutter Center for Psychiatry.  It has been an enormous challenge and a third eye-opening experience.  The #YogaSeedCollective, the non-profit that organizes the outreach effort, is a quietly powerful force in the community, offering classes at the local prisons, drug rehabilitation centers and now at Sutter.  Getting involved with this community of hardworking, no-nonsense yogis is one of the best things that has happened to me since arriving in #Sacramento.  I feel inexpressible gratitude to them, on my own behalf and on behalf of all the people they serve.  

I wrote a short piece about my experience at Sutter, you can read it here in the Yoga Seed’s Outreach update:

http://www.theyogaseed.org/outreach-article1/?utm_source=Copy+of+Newsletter+for+9%2F10&utm_campaign=Constant+Contact+Newsletter&utm_medium=email

Also, I want to say, of my own volition, how impressed I am with Sutter’s facility.  The dedication and level of understanding I see every day with the staff is awe inspiring.  I recently lost someone in my life to suicide, and while that person was not part of this community, I wonder if his situation would have changed had he access to care like Sutter provides.  If you or someone you know is suffering from mental illness, I would strongly urge you to seek help and based on my limited experience, I would not hesitate to recommend SCP.  (I have not been paid or am in any way affiliated with Sutter; I am an independent contractor through the Yoga Seed.)

To visit Sutter’s website, vist: http://www.suttermedicalcenter.org/psychiatry

#mentalhealth #mentalillness #psychiatry