Visit the blog La Chapstick Fanatique today for my guest post on Tips for Toddler Proofing for your Summer Shindigs!
Visit the blog La Chapstick Fanatique today for my guest post on Tips for Toddler Proofing for your Summer Shindigs!
|Photo Credit: Renee Marchol Homemade Mac and Cheese|
One of my fondest summer memories is from college. I’d go over to my buddy’s apartment, eat contraband cheese, and watch chick flicks.
I don’t admit this to everyone but you fellow SmartyGirls understand that even the smartest of us need to do what’s stupid once in awhile. Disclosure: I have not received any payment to endorse any company, brand, product or blog.
So imagine if you will, closing the blinds and opening a girlfriend’s suitcase with a smuggled wheel of parmesan cheese from Bologna, Italy. This was before strict TSA rules and searches.
The unnamed four of us would use a knife to shave fine pieces of salty hard cheese directly from the leather case. Then we’d watch a movie, a guilty pleasure, Armageddon. Note: I am not endorsing the eating of unregulated, unpasteurized cheese. However enjoying movie cheesiness might create endorphins. If you feel like it, you can get my mac and cheese recipe here.
|Photo Credit: Amazon.com Armageddon with Bruce Willis and Liv Tyler|
In case you haven’t watched it, it’s an action film with Bruce Willis that requires more than the usual suspension of disbelief with an Aerosmith soundrack. Can you imagine Liv Tyler before The Lord of the Rings movies? Here’s your chance to see her without elf-ears from 1999. Her dad, Aerosmith Singer Steven Tyler, you know from the current 2012 American Idol.
What’s your guilty pleasure? Hot Tub Time Machine, Stepbrothers, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, or Pineapple Express? Contact me by commenting below and tell me what you like to eat while watching it.
For me, smuggled cheese was naughty for two reasons: one that it was unpasturized and not sold in the U.S. and two that my body does not make the enzyme to digest dairy at all.
I asked my current Associate Editor what she’d recommend for budget summer entertainment. This is what she recommended.
|Photo Credit: Amazon.com The Crying Game with Forest Whitaker|
|Photo Credit: Amazon.com X-Men First Class with James McAvoy|
1. Create a viewing list with one actor in mind. For instance, Associate Entertainment Editor Erica Tyler suggested “Wanted” and “Shameless” (UK) for ways to watch actor James McAvoy if you already liked him as Dr. Xavier in X-Men First Class.
In another example, if you are curious about Forest Whittaker, borrow “Crying Game” and “The Last King of Scotland” from your library or your friends.
Similarly, for fun, I read an Al Pacino biography that highlighted the actors love of Shakespeare and how he used his Shakespeare study to do his performances as “Scarface”.
Keep in mind that this is a fun summer activity rather than deep study of an actor. This is a recipe for good summer entertainment.
|Photo Credit: Amazon.com Alfred Hitchcock: The Essentials Collection|
I’m not a film buff like Erica, but this seems like an easy way to take a peek at an actor’s range and preferences. For example, I was in awe that Will Ferrel chose short story writer Raymond Carver’s Everything Must Go as one of his movie projects. I re-watch Ferrel in SNL skits, Funny or Die’s “Pearl the Landlord” and Elf for laughs.
|Photo Credit: Amazon.com Everything Must Go with Will Ferrel|
I also believe casting did a great job for the drama Everything Must Go. When I studied a seminar on Raymond Carver while I was an English major, including his short story Everything Must Go, I wondered which actor would be able to capture all the pain and humor of the story if translated to the screen.
I admire my pal, Erica Tyler, because she took film analysis while she was a double major in college. To give an example, she took a college course on dissecting Alfred Hitchcock movies. Ask her anything about Hitchcock.
2. Don’t limit yourself to new releases. If you are willing to explore retro like appreciating vinyl records, you can find that entertainment classics are an inexpensive way to do summer activities. For instance you are unlikely to have to pay much to borrow or wait in line for the “The Crying Game” since it’s from 1992.
3. Mix heavy subjects with lighter fare. One of my acquaintance friends from Fedex retail shop told me that her weekend plans include watching “Nightmare on Elm Street” with her friends at the Hollywood Forever screening cemetery. I think that’s cool and it is part of Los Angeles culture. However, if don’t have have to do budget entertainment near tombstones. How about hosting a potluck at your apartment and watching heavy “Hotel Rwanda” at your home. Follow that up with lighter fare such as “Fun with Dick and Jane”. You can watch the Jane Fonda version or the Tea Leoni version. Both aren’t new releases so see tip#2.
Why mix light with heavy and vice versa? Because I believe heavy films need a chaser so you don’t feel lousy after viewing it and fluffy entertainment cries out for an anchor to keep the mind from floating away.
Since summer is less structured with changes in work hours and school, you create your own “mind diet” with books and movies. Seek balance and protect your budget with the above suggestions.
For example, whenever I watch “My Name is Earl”, I allow myself bites of “30 Rock”. Both are comedies but the first one can feel a bit weightier like the 1990’s t.v. serious “Wonder Years”.
What do you think? What are your summer budget entertainment suggestions? Comment below, Smartygirls.
|Photo Credit: Renee Marchol and Socal Culture|
My two-year experiment has concluded. I am returning to Norcal after living in Socal. This means that my two-year adventure immersing myself in Socal culture is at an end.
The justification for moving to Los Angeles was my husband’s two year schooling program. This gave me the opportunity to accept Socal jobs and live the Socal culture.
Before I became an MBA and English major, I was an anthropology student. I spent time living with the Akha and Karen hill tribes in Thailand as an undergrad. To reflect on my Socal experience I decided to go back to this perspective and examine my Los Angeles journey as an ethnography assignment.
Two years in Socal culture have given me new perspective and healthier habits as a leader.
I also learned that I don’t have to lead all the time. Instead I have permission to chill, be nourished by friendship, listen, enjoy art, laugh at myself and just be.
Here are 7 valuable life lessons from Socal:
1. Be chill.
3.Be a friend.
4.Make art part of your weekly routine.
5.Let your guard down.
6. Recognize fails as funny.
7. Hang out just because.
|Photo Credit: Renee Marchol Hammer Museum Ping Pong Table for Vistors Socal Culture|
1. Be chill. I noticed that Socal residents are the most productive and most tranquil people I have met.
Some might credit the Socal habits of vegetarianism, pilates, and yoga. I did become a fan of Tender Greens’s Happy Vegan Salad with Edamame Hummus but I think it’s more than the diet and exercise. I will say that it was awesome sparring at the world headquarters of Krav Maga and eating low-fat Spinach bolani at Westwood’s Thursday Farmers Market.
I compare this to Norcal where I lived for three decades. In Norcal, it’s fair to say that the culture promotes a demonstration of worry. In fact, if you don’t look worried it is assumed that you don’t care. I’ve concluded that this is a false belief that harms health and productivity.
After working as a company home decor blogger and research copywriter, I’ve also concluded that Shabby Chic style is a great illustration of Socal culture. It originated in Malibu.
A bit of peeling paint. Sandy bare feet. No problem. Just decorate with white, beachy slipcovers.
In contrast to Norcal, Socal jobs are a blend of high productivity and a healthy mindset. This does not seem to be set by employers but by the workers themselves. For example, I was in charge of a team of 20 copywriters as production manager.
My job was to track and report productivity of writers for article marketing. The team of writers were fast, creative and smart. They also laughed more while working than at any writing job I’ve witnessed over my working years in Norcal. I believe it’s the “whistle while you work” idea that lubricates the gears of productivity.
So crack a joke. Make a pop culture reference. My previous supervisors of the writing team modeled this by playing video game music from Mortal Kombat or comedy from The Lonely Island to move the day along.
Create inside jokes and a culture that encourages a less anxious attitude. The work will get done and more quickly with fewer sick days by employees.
Also it creates just a welcoming work atmosphere that even if the tasks are neck-breakingly fast-paced and difficult, an individual will want to come to work because Socal culture coworkers are fun to work with. That is what I experienced as manager and copywriter in Los Angeles.
|Photo Credit: Renee Marchol Gift Bag Art from Socal friend in Westwood|
|Photo Credit: Renee Marchol Greystone Mansion Courtyard in Beverly Hills|
2. Listen. Socal culture encourages listening rather than Norcal’s “ritual sparring”. This means that I was unlikely to be interrupted in Socal whereas in Norcal, it is custom to interject, interrupt and disagree while the speaker is mid-sentence.
|Photo Credit: Amazon.com I Don’t Have To Make Everything All Better by Lundberg|
Socal culture excels in what is called validation communication. I noticed this as a manager and in my social circles in Los Angeles. It is most similar to the communication style in I Don’t Have to Make Everything All Better by Gary and Joy Lundberg.
My conclusion is the the Socal culture of communication through listening creates greater trust, productivity and general good health of the workplace.
|Photo Culture: Renee Marchol Socal Culture Baby Shower Flowers in Santa Monica|
For instance, three friends in Socal may have conflicting worldviews (i.e. a Protestant Christian, an atheist, and a Catholic). Each one listens and does not bully the other two into accepting his/her philosophy. Then the three treat each other as “normal” and go have fun together. No hard feelings and no agendas to convert.
In Norcal, whether it is a religious or apolitical idea you can expect a “hard sell” technique that makes it uncomfortable. Socal culture promotes co-existence and friendship of people with differing ideas.
So listen without interrupting. Don’t be forceful in arguing so that people become clones of you. Instead enjoy their company, chill and find areas of common interest. I recommend The Griddle of Hollywood as a great place to go afterwards. Three hours of pancake eating and joking is perfect after a non-intense round of listening to different views.
|Photo Credit: Renee Marchol at Point Dume in Malibu|
3. Be a friend. Yes, Los Angeles is the city where most people seek out therapists, gurus and professional mentors. However, it’s also the place where people let down their guard and admit what they don’t know. For instance, those who make appointments with therapists want a healthier way to think. Those who are seeking a spiritual leader want to be a better person. Individuals who follow a mentor trust that they are teachable.
Therefore, when you spend time with someone in Socal culture you are unlikely to be “adopted” as a protegee. What do I mean? Because he/she already has a role they are unlikely to behave as your “superior”. They are also unlikely to give you unsolicited advice. The first reason is because advice isn’t free in Los Angeles. Secondly, being recipients of coaching, he/she is humble and does not presume to teach.
This is different from Norcal where people who meet you for 60 seconds assume you need a mentor and that he/she is the one. This connects to #2 about listening versus interrupting. In Norcal, I’ve experienced that before the other party hears what you care about, how you see life and what your goals are he/she has an agenda to convert and “clone”.
This is in no way meant to condemn Norcal culture. I understand the Norcal point of view. It greatly fears chaos and the appearance of idleness so people are “kidnapped” as protegees and taught to demonstrate with their worry to prove he/she is on task. Socal jobs and grocery stores promote “organic”. This means that Socal culture is comfortable with natural rather than systematic or contrived growth and change.
So just enjoy the company of another person. Avoid looking for ways to “help”. Recognize yourself as a peer rather than a mentor on-the-hunt for a protegee. You’ll enjoy your own Socal job and journey of professional development better this way.
|Photo Credit: Photo by Renee Marchol of Latrec’s Painting of a Dog at UCLA Hammer Museum|
4. Make art part of weekly routine. Just as in Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, most comedians are musicians and most musicians want to make people laugh.
Likewise, in Los Angeles most people have a creative outlet in addition to a day job. This includes those who are not aspiring actors. I’ve met coworkers and friends who played in bands after work, added chapters to his/her novel, did theater productions on weekends, and stand up on weeknights.
Socal custom encourages pursuing music after the 9-5. It encourages reading during lunch break and talking about art as a spectator. In Norcal, art is something you experience during summer vacation, when attending a gala, or it’s something that is outside of your social circle. In contrast, those who have Socal jobs outside the entertainment industry are also performers or spectators.
You’ll hear violin, keyboard, piano and drum playing from apartments in Los Angeles though you know that the tenant’s job title may not be musician.
This means that people write two hours a day, compose, and practice their musical instrument frequently because they have made art a priority. In contrast, in Norcal, unless it’s in your official job title people will question why you “dabble” in art/music if it does not contribute to your income. Also most Norcal residents will complain of the noise such a neighbor would create whereas in Socal such noise is tolerated.
For instance, I’ve met Socal residents who salsa dance weekly while working on his/her doctorate. In another example, someone who is a nanny sings daily and teaches herself the guitar.
|Photo Credit: Renee Marchol Fowler Museum Courtyard|
I’ve agree with Kaiser Permanente and conclude that integrating art into the workweek creates a healthier body and mind.
So attend that free concert, go to someone’s kid’s school rehearsal of “Hairspray”, and listen to a band warm up. Art is portable and you can get nourishing bites of it Monday through Friday whether you are the artist or spectator.
|Photo Credit: Renee Marchol Hydrangeas in a Teapot as Art|
5. Let your guard down. This relates to #2 communication again. I’ve noticed individuals with Socal jobs are less sensitive than those outside of Socal culture. For example, you’re more likely to hear, “You might be right” in Los Angeles. I call this letting your guard down because Socal people are comfortable with you not seeing things their way. They’ll concede that you might have a valid point and move on to finishing their vegan cookie and soy matcha tea latte without becoming riled. I conclude that this is confidence. Socal culture is confident without being riddled with the anxiety to convert or defend.
So know that you are not somehow less if the other is not a clone of you. Shrug and continue to do what you are doing. You’ll feel more rested if you do not perceive disagreement as a challenge to your character.
|Photo Credit: Renee Marchol Paper Art to Practice Matching|
As an analogy, the retort “I guess we don’t have the same taste in clothes” suggested by American Girl’s A Smart Girl’s Guide to Style by Sharon Cindrich is a similar non-defensive concession.
I mention this because I wanted to add the disclaimer that though Socal has many virtues its culture is fashion-obsessed. So if your value system does not allow you to make designer brands a priority, treat the study of fashion as art that is part of your week. That’s why I borrowed Cindrich’s book from the library to learn about the science of matching.
6. Recognize fails as funny. Socal residents laugh at themselves at a frequency that I have not witnessed in Norcal. I notice that although Socal has the reputation of being occupied with status, individuals confess to the indignity of life and allow others to laugh too. For instance, I’ve met several single twentysomethings who could laugh at their tough circumstances of being temporarily homeless or down to their last $300. They said, “Things will work out. Right now this is funny. Don’t you think so?”
If someone is confident he/she has hope. I’ve met individuals in fashion, writing, acting and academics who invite others to laugh about their tough spots. This is Socal culture positive thinking. It surpasses understanding but I like it. I conclude it is healthy. Psychologists encourage this as resilience, to be able to laugh at one’s circumstances.
So check out baking fails, newscasting fails, proposal fails and laugh. When it’s your turn to tuck your skirt into your pantyhose, laugh too.
7. Hang out just because. This is a radically different concept from what I’ve witnessed in Norcal. Socal culture teaches that sometimes it’s okay to be unprepared. Relaxation and recreation is not 100% scheduled.
|Photo Credit: Renee Marchol Yarn Doll made during hang out|
Socal residents trust that friends will bring refreshments. Socal individuals create an open house window of 4 to 8 hours to let guests drop in and leave whenever.
Though Socal is active in fundraisers, environmental projects and entertainment individuals make time to just hang out without a work project, without a deadline and without a checklist.
For instance, I’ve been to an autumn Socal event where new actors review Marvin’s Room over ebelskivvers and non-dairy pumpkin pie in an apartment. Spontaneous group trips to Natural History Museum and Tar Pits in the winter and impromptu frisbee on the beach in spring were also common. No pressure.
I’ve concluded that this is restorative and fosters community rather than competition. In Norcal, you are likely to discover that such an invite turns out that he/she is selling something such as a pedicure product. Since Socal is a “conversion-free” zone a social invite really is a social invite not customer recruitment.
So when you make new friends just enjoy their company. Don’t worry about impressing. Don’t be overly concerned about networking with the “right” people. Be content with just breathing the same air.
As a fun note, during my two-years in Los Angeles, I also saw: