So Close!

Since I found out I could participate in working on TV shows while working in Dallas, not in LA or New York, Food Network has been my endgame. Recently, I got one step closer to that goal. I’ve been editing a new show for Cooking Channel, which is owned by Food Network. The star, Chuck Hughes, has been on Food Network many times – he beat Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America, and he was on Iron Chef All Stars last year. He also has another show on Cooking Channel besides ours.

So far, it’s only 6 episodes, and I was only brought in for the last two, but I had a blast and learned a lot. Last week, Chuck came to Dallas for a screening of episode 3. I got to go to lunch with him and the rest of the team, and I edited a blooper reel for the screening event. Getting to meet a Food Network star was awesome enough – he’s a really nice guy – but the fact that a Food Network star has seen my work (and complimented it! in person!) is just incredible. I feel very lucky to have taken part in this show, which is my sixth series on my third major cable network. I’ve actually just become the lead editor for another show on HGTV, so more news to come soon, but for now, here’s a photo of me and Chuck. Next stop, Food Network!
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2009 Top 10

I’m rather ready for 2009 to be over, but I thought I’d practice a little gratitude for the good that 2009 brought. Here are the highlights!

1. Climbing Enchanted Rock outside of Austin last January was traumatic (we got stuck in a cave! it was a death-defying stunt to get down the steep part! there was blood!), but I had a wonderful time with my dad, sister, and her boyfriend. The weather was perfect – sunny and cool – the company was good, and the scenery was gorgeous. And I only bled a little bit.

2. I joined the Archer Avenue Community Garden! Until the garden, I killed plants almost immediately upon getting them, and my attempts at growing any vegetables from seed were laughable. But then four of us gathered on a small plot of land in an Oak Cliff back yard and made FOOD GROW. I’m still a little amazed. I’m not a member anymore, but I can’t explain how much I enjoyed the months spent here digging, planting, tending, and harvesting. It was deeply restorative, at least for a while, and I gained insight into the food chain in a very tangible way. It’s an experience I will never forget and that I am immensely grateful for.

3. I found a church that I love with my whole heart! Church in the Cliff is the best bunch of people I’ve met in a really long time, probably since college. Actually, probably ever. They are unique, quirky, fun, honest, authentic, loving, open-minded, fiercely intelligent, creative, wonderful people, and I’m so thankful for them. They make me feel more like myself than I have in years. I have found my people.

4. My grandmother moved from her house in Harlingen and has been living with my parents in Grand Prairie. The reason is sad, of course, that she can’t take care of herself well enough to live alone anymore. And her mental decline has been extremely hard on everyone. That said, though, it has been so wonderful to have her around. We plant flowers, chat about her life, sweep the porch, and sure, sometimes she calls me “Norma,” but I love spending time with her. Her mind is so fuzzy that sometimes she says the most random things, and it’s entertaining to say the least. I could view it as depressing (she’s really not the same woman she was), but I choose to just enjoy the time I’ve got with her.

5. Because Grandma lives here now, in July, we took what was probably our last family vacation to South Padre Island, which we have done every year of my entire life. It’s kind of hard to imagine a summer without it, but we are all striking out in many new directions this year, so who knows where we’ll end up this July? As I’ve said before, sometimes my family makes me crazy, but I love them, and I love the chance to get out of our daily lives and just spend time with each other in a beautiful place.

6. In August, Sarah and I took a weekend trip to Wichita, where she grew up. We spent some time with her grandmother, went to a family birthday party, visited the music building at her college, and went to her favorite independent bookstore, Eighth Day Books. The drive through Kansas and Oklahoma was beautiful, and it was nice to have an adventure with my Soul Twin!

7. Also in August, I got to go to Disney World! I had a shoot nearby for work, so I drove in early the day before and checked out Epcot. The food in the World Showcase was surprisingly authentic, and I had fun wandering around. It really is the happiest place on earth. (I also got to go to Kansas City for a shoot and have some of their famous BBQ – and wander through a few casinos – and it was fun, but that’s not *quite* as cool as Disney World.)

8. In November, I got to help out on a cooking show pilot, which, if you’ve known me for more than a minute, you know is a very big deal. It was awesome to watch the shooting breakdown process, watch the Food Network Dude direct, and eat some seriously good food made by the show’s host. It was pro bono, but I so don’t even care. It was fantabulous.

9. At long last, Jamie moved to Dallas when her job transferred her to a different territory. We’ve been having so much fun, and it’s so nice to have her around for the first time since high school. We’ve kept up rather well over the years, but she’s always lived in the far reaches of Texas (Abilene, Lubbock, Waco). We’ve become professional concert-goers since she got here and seen every movie ever made, although we haven’t cooked or played tennis yet. Don’t know what’s up with that.

10. Also in November, I moved into the CUTEST house with the CUTEST roommate who has the CUTEST son and the CUTEST puppy. Home is serious cute overload for me these days, and I’m extremely happy there. And someday, when we’re fiiiiiiiinally finished painting, it will be even cuter.

Bonus #11. I GOT A NEW CAR! She is still unnamed.

As I said, I’m quite ready to hit the reset button and start 2010, but 2009 wasn’t all bad. In fact, parts of it were pretty darn great. Here’s to a better year for all of us.

Cooking Show Pilot!

So I’m a total Food Network dork – it’s one of the only things I watch. So when I got an chance to work as an unpaid intern/PA on a cooking show pilot this week, I JUMPED at the chance. I’ve always wanted to work on a food shoot, and I convinced the boss to let me take the day off to do this.  There was an actual Food Network producer/host there directing (!), although right now it’s only a pilot that will hopefully get picked up. It’s a good concept (manly food for bachelors who don’t know how to cook but want to eat well, with a sporty slant), so we’ll see where it goes, if anywhere. I ended up being the head PA and script supervisor (since I was the only “intern” over 23), so I spent most of my time at the little video village with the director (Food Network dude!). It was a monster day at 16 hours, and it was unpaid, but I had a total blast, and I’m so very thankful to have had the opportunity. Here are some photos from the set. We shot at a Sam’s Club and the host’s place near the Dallas Farmer’s Market.

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The food part was fascinating – all the cooking time issues, the continuity of how food was laid out on a sheet, the measurements and ingredient prep, the taste and texture descriptions…I’m a total food dork, and I just soaked it all up! 🙂 We shot in an area with a metal table/prep area right next to the kitchen. Former NHL hockey player Brent Severyn was the co-host/guest, and he was great on camera. Very personable, and a nice guy.

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Yeah, and the food was AWESOME. DC, our host, actually cooked for the crew what he made on screen, which was beef tenderloin with a cajun rub, butter potatoes, and broccoli salad. This dude can COOK. It looks so plain, but my goodness, it was seriously awesome. Oh, and there was Mama’s Banana Pudding, but we didn’t get to eat that.

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It was an awesome, awesome day. I had a great time and met some fun new folks. For the last shot, DC strained spaghetti through a tennis racket, a bachelor trick. After a 16-hour day at 11:00 p.m., it was hilarious. I hope Food Network picks it up – I’d love to put them on my client list!

30

A lot has happened these last few months,  not the least of which was that I turned 30. Quite a milestone, and one that too many people seem to freak out over. There was a whole FRIENDS episode devoted to the stupid things people do when they turn 30, one that I’ve often thought about pensively regarding my own 30th birthday. Beth and Sarah and I went out tonight for Beth’s 30th, and we had a great time, so I thought I post some of the fun that we had for mine.

A poet friend of mine from college now living in CA wrote this: “There’s something priceless and dear about having so many people who bring you joy in one room. It is a gift of temporality that shimmers.” For my 30th, I got two SUVfuls of my family and best friends in the world together, and we made the trek to Choctaw Casino, just over the Oklahoma border. On the way there, I looked in the rear-view mirror to see all these wonderful faces from different areas of my life all in one giant car, chatting with each other, there because they loved me, and it was most definitely a shimmery gift.

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We had lunch out by the pool, and then cake and presents. It was also my sister-in-law Gina’s birthday party – that’s us down there with the cupcakes. And below that, the candle glasses I’m wearing are from Frank – they’ve been passed around in our group of friends over the last several years, and they made an appearance at Choctaw.

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Then we headed inside for the main event – the GAMBLING. Lindsey did pretty well! She gambles like me – timidly enough to keep from spending too much. Mom and Dad and a whole slew of folks gave me gambling money, so I was set – I even gave some of it back the next day, since I didn’t need it all.

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My family got a hotel room there, and we made it Party Central for the excursion. These are a few pictures of a brief respite from the slot machines. Lest you think I am selfishly inviting all my unemployed and poor friends to spend money they don’t have, my mother gave away $10 bills to everyone as party favors for them to gamble with. Mary there, in the middle between Mom and Frank, used it and won $100 on a 50-cent machine! She was the the big winner of the evening! Her birthday party was gambling, too, at Lone Star Park, right after a bunch of us lost our jobs when our company closed. I thought it was an awesome time to gamble just a few dollars away and have a good time, and I followed suit!

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Although I love my friends, they are not the consummate gamblers that my mother and I – and recently my sister – are. WE stayed up until about 3 a.m., flitting from machine to machine, and we went back for more at about 9 a.m. the next morning.

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I may not have it all together at 30.  In fact, I’m facing quite a bit of uncertainty and some of the biggest decisions of my life, and I cannot say that I am fearless. But I am joyful, and more importantly, I am hopeful. So for those of you not there yet, don’t let them scare you. This is face of 30. And it rocks.

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Thankful:)

Things I am currently thankful for:

1. A grandfatherly firefighter I worked with a couple of times in Nevada called to check on me yesterday, to see how I was post-job-collapse and see how my Thanksgiving was going. He said, among other things, that they had been having an unusual rash of suicides in the county since October, and although he didn’t say it, I’m sure he just wanted to check on me to make sure I was doing alright after recent events. I thought that was so sweet. I told him how soft my landing had been after the company closed, with finding great work so quickly, and he said that in the People’s Republic of Berkeley, where he grew up, that was called karma, and that I deserved it for what I had been doing for the fire service. It was an out-of-the-blue phone call, and one I am thankful for.

2. I’m going to see my grandmother in Harlingen this week. I love my Arlington grandmother, who we have always spent Thanksgiving with, but the last couple of years we’ve gone to Harlingen instead, and I have to say that I’m glad for the change. I get to see MiMi all the time, but I only get to see Grandma a couple of times a year. She has been forgetting a lot lately, and that is going to be hard to be around, but I’m glad to get to spend some time listening to her stories. The ones she can remember, anyway;)

3. We had an early Thanksgiving at my parents’ house on Sunday, because in Harlingen, we will be patronizing Luby’s. I got to see my aunt, uncle and cousins, who I really wish I saw more often. It’s so interesting to see my genetics at work in another nuclear family.

4. Hearing the words “President-elect Obama” and “the Obama administration” peppering conversations these days is so fabulous. I have absolute faith in no politician, but I have much more peace these days knowing someone will at least be trying to help clean up our air and food supply and inspiring others to do the same.

5. Handy sewing-machine-wielding friends who fix my broken stuff.

6. I went to the Prop 8 protest with Beth and Deanna last weekend (pictures on that to come), and it was nice to be around intelligent, passionate people making their voices heard for something they believe in. I went, above all, because it was a peaceful protest, not done out of anger but to simply make those in power – and those in the communities around them – aware of the displeasure over the outcome of and scare/purposeful-misinformation tactics used during California’s recent election. It was an honor to be among them for a little while. I see people in other countries with views that differ from the ruling party suppressed forcefully by those in power, and it was lovely to see people able to speak their mind in a peaceful way. I even thought the counter-protest was great, in the sense that they were able to speak their mind as well, even if I don’t agree with them. And the Dallas police stood surrounding us, not as a threat, they said, but to protect and stand with us. I think that’s just great.

7. You. Happy Thanksgiving!

Top Ten Fabulous Things of the Week 11.8.08

1. Barack Obama is the next President of the United States! I’m so excited, for many reasons. I’ve never been a bumper sticker fan (just my Apple sticker), but several months ago, I added an Obama ’08 one to the back of the Blazer, along with a “COEXIST” sticker, with the letters made up of the symbols of the major world religions (I’m a Christian, but I’m quite convinced if Jesus were here, he’d be promoting a bit of peaceful co-existence right about now!). All of a sudden I look like a raging liberal, although I’m really quite moderate. I’ve gotten a lot of grief for both stickers in recent months, and it’s so nice to feel vindicated – I might be a minority in Texas, but the country is with me, and I have never been more proud of my country.

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2. My roommate broke out the old-school Nintendo this week and has been playing Mario Brothers 2, and it is fabulous! What those early game designers could do with 8 bits. No blood, no gore, no gangsters. Just 8-bit mushrooms and a pair of overalls. Gaming simplicity at its finest.

3. I’ve been having some back and leg pain recently, so at the behest of my doctor, I bought a pair of Mary-Jane Clarks to wear to work instead of my low heels. And OH MY GOSH, they are like walking on clouds. They’re more comfortable than flip flops. Heck, they’re more comfortable than FEET. When I bought them, the salesman said, “It is so nice to see women buying comfortable shoes.”

4. Seeing Jesse Jackson and Oprah crying as Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech on Tuesday night in Chicago’s Grant Park.

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5. I went to dinner with some old work friends last night, and an army showed up. There must have been at least 40 of us there, some from years before me that I had never met. We filled up the entire back room, stayed for 3 1/2 hours, and had a great time. And the best part is that I actually have a job to tell people about when they ask what I’m doing! One woman said that they were lucky to have gotten me, and I thought that was sweet. That company was kind of like Hotel California – you could check out, but no one ever really left. It seems to be a large network of people who have filed in and out over the years, but most of them stay in touch, and that will be nice over the coming years, to be part of a large network of people in the business.

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6. I went to see the Impressionists exhibit at the Kimball in Fort Worth last weekend, and it was great. The Monet haystack series was there, as well as some water lilies and the foot bridge. Van Gogh’s self-portrait and the bedroom in Arles were wonderful. I didn’t realize it, but he painted that second version of the bedroom that was there from an asylum, right before he died. My sister and I stayed in Arles on our Europe trip last year, so that was really neat to see. “Paris Street; Rainy Day” was there, and it is gigantic! There were gobs of Renoirs, and of all of them, his still-lifes were the most amazing for me in person. That man could make a grape look absolutely luminescent without making it seem unreal. All of them were so much more luminous in person than you can see in prints – all those short brushstrokes in all those colors. Amazing.

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7. I just learned that Starbucks doubled their orders of Fair Trade coffee, which is great news for the Fair Trade industry and poor coffee farmers all over the world.

8. I’m kind of an Internet Petition Warrior. I may not have a lot of money to donate to the organizations I want to support, but I sign a lot of petitions to get things done over a range of issues. As a result, I get a LOT of e-mail newsletters – the ACLU, Organic Consumers Association, Center for Biological Diversity, etc. There are so many battles to be fought that reading them can be a bit depressing sometimes. After the election, though, they were all so positive and celebratory, because we now have a President-Elect with a decent environmental record, one who understand the importance of the organic family farm, the threat of climate change, and the preservation of citizens’ rights under the Constitution. Who knows how much he’ll get done in office in reality, but it is SO NICE to know that he will at least try, and I finally feel like I’m on the winning team, for once.

9. I’ve been asking Herb Mart for months to please carry the flavor of Kombucha I buy most often (at least 4 per week). It’s cheaper there, but Central Market is the only place I could find the mango flavor. Finally, after months of telling them I’d buy it from them if they’d stock it, they finally did! Such a teeny, tiny level, but it’s nice to actually affect change.

10. “Every aspect of our lives is, in a sense, a vote for the kind of world we want to live in.” – Frances Moore Lappe

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I am employed!

I was offered a full-time position at the small company I’ve been freelancing with today, and I accepted! (What a great birthday present!) That’s all for now – just wanted to share:) More soon on the Komen Race for the Cure and the New Kids on the Block concert. That’s right. I said New Kids on the Block.