Thursday, August 30, 2012

Broken Shells at the Dali Museum

Posing with my photograph on display at The Dali Museum.

Two of my hobbies I have yet to turn into careers are collecting seashells and taking photographs.  I would come to guess that very few people know that I am happiest combing the shore at sunset looking for whelks, shark eyes, tulips and conch shells.  Then photographing them and throwing them back into the sea because most of the beautiful shells are still living and deserve to keep living.  My name in Hawaiian means ‘Defender of the Sea,’ so that is what I try to do - preserve our beaches and sea life.

It is therefore such a thrill that I am able to share with all of you that one of my photographs is on display as part of the “Treasures of Your Town” exhibit at The Dali Museum here in St. Petersburg, FL.  The Dali!  I spent a lot of my childhood at the Dali Museum staring at ‘The Hallucinogenic Toreador’ trying to see all of the double images within the main image.  Are those just flies or a bull drinking water?  I always liked Salvador Dali as a painter because he combined his technical skills with such a vivid imagination that no matter how many times you might see the work, you would still find more discoveries.  I learned the lesson of perspective from Dali because everybody sees different things in the same painting.

For my photograph, entitled ‘Broken Shells at the Long Pier,’ I wanted to show the beauty in broken things.  Most of the time when I am on one of my sunset beach walks looking for shells, I am also looking for something else.  Peace within myself.  I usually approach the beach angry, frustrated, and heartbroken, but it is there on the shore within minutes of hearing the waves crash, seeing the birds fly, and feeling the cool water on my feet where I am reminded that being broken doesn’t mean you are beyond repair.

When I first found the scallop shell that is featured in the photo, I thought it was cute, even though it was broken, not perfect.  Then when I held it up to the sunset, I realized the broken piece actually resembled a palm tree.  It was through that bright light that another image began to grow!  If I had to explain the image further, I would say that the seashell represents the human shell and how so many of us have been broken due to unemployment, relationships, and life in general just not working out like we expected it to. 

Like Dali, I think this image is also about perspective.  Do you see a broken shell or do you see the bright light within?  Personally, I may have a broken shell but no matter what, I will always let my inner light shine.  So the next time you feel down, lost or broken, take a walk on the beach or go to an art museum.  Life is full of broken things…but that is where the true beauty is.

Should anybody want to see my photograph & the rest of the "Treasures of Your Town" exhibit at The Dali Museum, it will be on display in the Raymond James room August 24th - Sept 9th.  It is free to see this exhibit.  

For more information on The Dali, visit

Part of my 'dead' shell collection on display in my home.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Madonna!

My show art from 2003 spoofing the Like a Virgin album cover.
If there is one birthday I celebrate more than my own, it is Madonna.  She's inspired me in so many ways over the years, and continues to do so. "Don't go for second best, baby....Express Yourself."  It began with a performance of "Papa Don't Preach" in Girl Scouts to doing "Vogue" in high school to eventually building a whole one-woman show around her in 2003.  My latest, the "Girl Gone Wild" librarian parody in 2012, was probably my favorite of them all.  An example that age most certainly does not slow us down, it makes us better.  Maybe one of these days I'll actually meet her so I can thank her in person for being the soundtrack of my life.

Happy Birthday Madonna! 

And once again, here are those "Girl Gone Wild" parody videos:

Monday, August 13, 2012

Back to School with Olympic Spirit

Just a few of the awards I won in high school that now collect dust in a storage unit. It's your spirit that moves you forward in life, not the awards.

The kids start going back to school this week so I guess that means I should finally return to this blog.  It has been a nice month and a half off.  Sort of. 

As a former athlete, I have been consumed with the Olympics and like a lot of you, been inspired by the dedication, determination, and discipline of these remarkable people representing our country – especially the ones that don’t get a chance to stand on that medal podium.  It is a constant reminder to me that there is no guarantee that any of our hard work will pay off with awards and “Today Show” interviews.  However, even with the small goals I have set and some later accomplished, I know firsthand that if you are doing what you love and giving it your best, it will most certainly reflect in your heart.

It will hurt often.  The fact that it continues to beat means you are still in the game.  Congrats.  My heart was just broken again.  A lesson that I should stop writing ‘Celebration’ blog posts because it seems the party only lasts so long in my world. 

Yep, I was fired again.  This time the job lasted a whole three weeks.

What did I do? 

I left a job off of my resume.  If you follow my adventures, I’m sure you can guess which one.  I wanted a fresh start and thought my references and numerous other jobs would be enough to get me the job.  And you know what?  It was.  Until somebody thought they were uncovering a huge mystery in finding that LA Times article.  You mean the one linked here on my blog?  Yep, the woman firing me actually handed me a print out of the article as proof of my employment there and asked if I had seen it.  This being the same woman who asked me on my first day of work if I would tell her a joke while I was getting a glass of water in the kitchen.  I guess she didn’t like the punch line.

I cried for a couple of hours afterwards, mostly out of the frustration and exhaustion at my own life, (and having to tell my parents the news.  Isn’t that always the hardest part?  Feeling like you are disappointing…them?)  I thought about how stupid so many of my firings have been over the years (because there have been more than just two.)  Then I got angry about the seven years I have invested in this library field and the things I gave up for it, the friends I didn’t listen to, the money that has been spent.  It also irritated me that on the day that everyone else across the country was mourning the lives lost at a movie theater in Aurora, I was being fired for not mentioning I had a part-time job pushing a book cart for a couple of weeks.  I had left off my valet attendant job too.  And my job serving sushi.  Oh, and my appearance on “Californication” as a hooker.

I stopped being angry because I was laughing so damn hard at just how many jobs I had forgotten to put on that application!  All the adventures I’d had and people I have met.  The lessons I had learned.  The research skills I had acquired in order to do all of those things, not to mention my love for sharing those experiences online in blog essays, videos, and comedy bits - which also meant those jobs weren’t exactly a secret. 

But not a single librarian or HR representative at that library knew about them before they hired me?  And they were firing ME?  Had I known they were so bad at their jobs as information specialists, I would have applied at Google. 

What a waste of time. 

And that’s what it is really about, right?  We don’t want to waste our time without getting something for it.  My time was wasted working for people who can’t see the bigger picture of life and that interesting, fun people usually have more than one job on their resumes; and now they have to waste their time (and tax dollars) in finding someone else to scan those books into the library every morning.  I wasn’t even a librarian, folks, I was a part-time library assistant.  I actually made more money on unemployment than I did in this position, but I loved the library, so I felt it was worth my time.  I just wasn’t worth theirs.

However, unlike those killed so horrifically in Aurora, I still have more time.  So do any of those Olympic athletes who didn’t get medals in London this year.  Then why are we crying, Lolo?  There will be other races, other jobs!  And it wasn't like they were questioning my strong work ethic and passion about libraries, so why am I sad?  Instead it was yet another reminder that my time is better spent other places, doing other things.  Maybe bigger things that are going to make a real difference in this field…in this world…or even to just a few people who appreciate who I am and what I bring to the table.

This experience was also an example of how truly special I am. 

I did leave that job off the application, in addition to numerous other positions and titles I have held over the past fifteen years, (which is the time period I was supposed to showcase on this application), and shame on me for doing so.  I should shout those job experiences from the mountain tops because I survived them!  Because it wasn't always easy.  While I am not always proud of how certain jobs ended, I sure am thankful for learning where NOT to spend another moment of life’s precious time.  So thank you Debra, thank you Margaret.  I’ve also learned what NOT to do with my life because if success makes you this miserable Nancy, I should rethink that whole career in PR.  And how NOT to treat the people that work beneath you, right John?  And finally, how when you give up on your dreams, you can always fall back on being a restaurant manager and hate it every single day like Joe and Gina. 

So I'm done complaining about how much time I have wasted and instead focusing on how much time I have saved.  If you look at it that way, being fired is more of a compliment than a put down.  It's like those people mentioned above cared enough about me to give me an out so I could have a better life than the ones they had chosen for themselves and clearly given up on.  Each in their own way showed me that what I thought I wanted in working with them wasn’t what I actually needed to succeed. 

And I have succeeded in so many ways - especially in having patience with these job applications - but let’s be honest, my skills and experiences are never going to fit in the confining boxes of a few sheets of paper.  Nor will interviews, background and reference checks ever truly offer anybody insight into the person I am and whether I am a good candidate for a company, and certainly not that LA Times article, that yes, lady, I have read.  Once.

But you know what will?  My book.

I may have taken some time away from this blog to think about how I wanted to move forward, but I have never stopped writing.  Like an Olympic athlete, I have been in training as a writer and trying to finish the book I started years ago.  Every single day, I get up at dawn to sit in front of my computer to live my life again, from the beginning.  I try to do at least a couple of hours each day but hope to eventually get up to eight hours but have found I need to pace myself so I don’t quit or give up when certain topics get tough.  Like the moments in life when I did do things wrong and deserved to be fired.  Like the time I walked out of that restaurant still in my apron to apply at a better restaurant across the street that had actual people dining in it.  Or being fired for eating too many sundaes at that frozen yogurt shop.  

I am also so thankful to have an old writer friend back in my life, offering me encouragement via helpful and insightful emails that assure me that I am on the right path and not alone in this difficult process of writing one’s life.  I am also grateful to Stephen King and Augusten Burroughs, who thanks to their books On Writing (King) and This is How (Burroughs), I have a firm grasp on the therapy of writing and the importance of telling the truth in it.

I may not get a gold medal or guaranteed a publishing deal when I finish this race (or another job offer for that matter), but you can bet your ass I will reach the finish line because my heart is still beating and my spirit free.  Now that should be on a job application!

For three weeks, I spent my time working the circulation desk...
...and emptying the book drop.
A patron's message to library staff left in the book drop.
Ironically, this DVD was overdue.