Monthly Archives: February 2011

Am I Blue

10:44 am

I am missing Zumba class because I know I need to get this out.

I saw Elizabeth Blue’s one woman show “Am I Blue” last night and I need to write about it ( I hope to link to a video soon but here is her blog for now).  It is no surprise that Blue was a direct catalyst for this blog.  I wondered before, why Blue?   I’ve had so many inspiring encounters.  For me, writing publicly every day was the scariest proposition.  A lot of things could have moved me to do this but they did not.  Blue comes along and in five minutes I am writing every day for forty days, dammit.  I am not discounting other influences who propelled me forward on my path.  I just did not understand how someone can inspire such dramatic results in me as of late.  I did not even see it coming.  The guy with a rainbow umbrella on the Red sand beach in Maui is one thing.

If I map my life in terms of falling in love to life changing activities, it would look like this:

When you fall in love, you get an adrenalin rush that lasts for few weeks or months.  It makes you feel invincible.  This feeling makes you take risks that you would not normally take.  When I met Yury, few weeks later I started GAS (my studio space), a few weeks after that, I went on open call for Henri Bendel and got it.  Last night, I fell in love with Blue.

When I saw Blue’s show, it made sense that she would be the one to help me with this change.  I laughed and laughed.  I was laughing at myself, the way Blue is laughing at herself in her show.  It was not self deprecating laughter or embarrassment and shame.  It was not “I feel sorry for my follies” laughter.  It was not “I am so stupid, I can’t believe I did the same thing” laughter.  It was the heart laughing.  The heart laughs differently than the other parts of the body.  Sometimes the heart is laughing silently.  Sometimes, tears show up in your eyes.  The heart laughs when it feels joy.  It is a joy of falling in love with life.  That is what inspiration is.  This laughter was joy of seeing someone be so authentic and not taking themselves seriously at the same time.  It was the recognition of humor in all of it: the struggle, the doubts, the yearning, the curiosity, the insecurity.  I felt that she was playing out all those parts of my former single life and allowing me to just laugh at all of it.  It was not mocked but delighted, that is mastery.

To be authentic is to be true to my own nature.  If I stop pretending would they think I am crazy?  That was Blue’s experiment.  She proved to me last night that is where the gold lies.  She answered my doubts.  Being true to my own nature is the only way to be, even if the risk is that “they” will think I am crazy.  If I step out of the invisible bounds, I will not fall off the edge.  If I follow my own voice, I will not choke.

Yearning.  Somehow yearning came up in a conversation after the show.  Yearning came up a lot during Blue’s show.  There is yearning as it relates to men.   It was never anyone who I would have a relationship with.  It was strictly yearning.  Yearning feels good and bad.  It is exciting and it is never-ending.  It does not end in a climax, it is just the reach for one.  There are lows and highs within the yearning, upon seeing them, having contact with them and lows when you are getting no attention from them.

There is also yearning as it relates to something you want in life.  I yearn to express myself, to be true to my nature in that expression.  The highs are when I am doing it, the lows are when I am far from myself.  Blue did it last night.  She expressed her nature.  She exposed the yearning.  The yearning for a mate, the yearning to be somebody, the yearning for salvation.  And it was hilarious!

If inspiration is falling in love with life.  Yearning is the hunger for an inspired life.  Blue’s hunger is contagious.

Another Authentic voice.  If you can forward to 4min 13 sec.  I like the second song.



Time, an interlude from my love story


Aging.  Lately I feel like I am racing against time.  I am 33 and I am not where I want to be.  I want to have accomplished more.  What, I do not know.   I am proud of my jewelry business but it does not feel like enough.

Maybe  this is my 7 year itch.  Did I get the bug during my improv class?  Maybe I can be more than a jewelry designer, maybe I could be a writer or a director.  Even saying that, makes me feel unworthy of such titles.  I remember I thought the same about saying “I want to be a jewelry designer.”  The words seemed like I was pretending to be somebody I am not.  I used to force myself to say it.  I am a jewelry designer.  For the first 3 years, I said, “I make jewelry.”  That was as serious as I could take myself.

Now when I think about writing, I feel the same. An unworthy impostor.  I talk to people who say “I am a writer” and I want to kneel before them in awe.  Fist for saying that, and second for doing it.  Maybe I have a voice, like them, to share with more than just my friends.  Maybe I want to reach more people.  I think of this and instantly I think, why?  Do I have something more to say than other people?  Do I want to make a difference?  How could I make a difference through writing or doing comedy?  Is it because I do not like what is going on with TV?  Or is it that I want to be “somebody”.  I am somebody.

Some days I wake up and I think, I should just stay home with Isaiah.  I should raise him myself, no nanny, just mom.  This is the ultimate purpose.  But the reality is I need my time to be sane and to do projects I want to do.  What if my projects do not amount to anything?  Oh yes, it is the process that is rewarding, right?

That is what the books say.  When I think about why I am writing and what I am writing, I do not want to write.  I do not know where it is going or why I am doing it?  Do I want to be famous?  That makes me not want to write anymore.  What would I do with fame.  If I do it for money, it makes me nervous.  I may never get a penny for this work and the pressure makes me confused about the whole thing.  Do it to help people?  With what?  How can my scribbling help anyone?  What if I do it just to do it.  The doing it, that is good.  No goal, no mission statement, just the process.  But what about the accomplishments?  In the book Happier, the author talks about our accomplishment driven society.  He talks about accomplishing goals and only moments after feeling bad.  I relate to that feeling.  You want something, ahh ahh ahh like a baby, and then you get it, and you are on to the next goal.  The process is the key.  But how can I just waste my life away without a goal?

I was told by Avraham, the Kabalist artist in Tzefat, that my hebrew name Zahavah holds a challenge.  The word means Gold.  I have to overcome physical gold and to come into the spiritual gold.  In the beginning of the year, I thought that meant, overcoming physical gold of jewelry and coming into the spiritual gold of writing.  I was taking the words literally.  Now I am in the unknown.  I do not know what my spiritual gold is.  The books say, it is helping other people.  When I try to help other people, it does not help.  I come on too strong, so now I keep my opinions to myself, unless someone is really asking for it.  Anyway the idea of helping other people is always daunting.  How do you help others?   How can I help myself?  I know, you help yourself by following your dreams but what if you do not know what your dream is?

I was working at the Coop yesterday.  An older lady next to me said that her son who is 27 keeps coming home to live.  They want him to move out already.  She said that his generation is the one that takes from 20s to 30s to find themselves.  Is it narcissism?  Or is it evolution?  Was the previous generation still in survival mode and now that we are thriving, we are confused by our choices.  We see that there are more choices and more possibilities.  When I worked on Wall St., I thought that the world was limited.  I thought I had to work there forever to survive.  When I started my business, the possibilities opened up.  I started to see that there is more.  If I can start a business without any formal jewelry education and make it successful, I can do anything.  But lately, I became concerned with time.

Do I have time?  Time for what?

9:14 pm


Yury (Part II)

10:48 pm, 9:10 pm

We went on a date.  It was a nice date but it was on a Monday.  To me Monday said either “I want to be friends” or “I could not wait to go on a date with you.”  Since these are polar opposites, I did not read into it.  I did not want to wait to be chosen by a man, I wanted to choose.  I was observing.

We were eating fish tacos at Bonita on Bedford in South Williamsburg and talking.  At one point, Yury asked me what my sign was.  This was cute. The girl is the one to secretly get the sign out of a man.  This is done to see if the man is compatible.  It is our test kit.  He told me his sign was Leo.  Another Ace.  I did not even have to be an Astrology expert to know that two fire signs is a good thing.  Come and set the night on fire.

The dinner flew in fun conversation.  After dinner, he asked me to go have a drink.  (I think that is the first and last time we had dinner and then went to have a drink to talk more)  We decided to go to Supercore (the Japanese cafe where we met few days before). It was close by.  To me this was funny for two reasons.  The first was that we were coming back to the place we met as if  we were already celebrating our meeting, on our first date.  The second was that I had an identical first date with the guy before Costa Rica.  Only few months prior, we went to the same two places for dinner and drinks.  I could not tell Yura that at the time but the parallel was hilarious.  They were asking to be compared.  I was amazed how uncomfortable the same two places could be one night with one person and how fun and easy the same place could be with another person.

At the end of the date, we lingered outside.  I thought he might try to kiss me but he did not.  I walked home happy.  Maybe he has a girlfriend and he just wanted to make a Russian friend in the neighborhood.  I decided not to worry.  We lived exactly two blocks from each other.  He lived middle of the same block on South 2nd and I lived on South 4th.  A month later, I moved two blocks in the other direction.   I could see his building from my building.  We even had walkie-talkies.

The day after the date, he did not call me.  Another day came and no call.  Then another.  Over the weekend, I got sad.  So it was not a date, just a friendly dinner and drinks.  I tried to keep myself composed and keep my Costa Rican “I choose a partner” attitude alive.  One day, I cracked and started crying.  My tears were, “Why is life unfair?”  This is my usual reason for crying.  My roommate Stuart just happened to walk into the apartment and catch me.  I hated to be caught so weak and by another boy.  If I was going to show this weakness, I wanted it to be in front of another woman.  Stuart was sweet.  He told me that I was beautiful and if a guy does not see it, he does not deserve me.  The typical, but it made me feel better.  I give the same advice to my friends.  It takes a special person to recognize another special person.  Not everybody can see everybody.  In college, I was sad when jerky guys did not like me.  Later, I understood why.  They were jerks.  Jerks like other jerks.

to be continued…

11:09, 9:46 pm


8:47 pm

On February 15th, six years ago, I met my husband and the father of my son.  It was a random encounter.  I had just come back from a journey to Costa Rica a week before. I was alone for the second two weeks of my trip.  I was twenty-seven and ready to find a life partner.  My time in Costa Rica I spent traveling and writing in my journal.  I  did not want to make any friends on this trip because I knew that new friends would tear me away from my task.

My task was to redefine my views of love.  I did not know how to meditate at the time.  My meditation came in the form of sitting in the shade on the beach and writing.  My writing was not going to be read.  I wrote my dreams, my fears, and anything that came to mind but most importantly, my first vision of my true mate.

I came back to NY, refreshed and full of life.  Before I left, I made sure to break up with the guy I did not like. I knew it was not going anywhere and I wanted to leave for my trip with no ties.  He did not understand.  He said, well why don’t we just see what happens when you come back, I insisted.  I knew what would happen when I came back.

When I came back, Valentine’s day happened.  The dooms day for all the singles.  After a nice trip to Costa Rica, it did not feel depressing.  I went out with two single lady friends and we had a lovely Valentine’s day dinner in the sea of couples.

The next day, I did something that was out of the ordinary.  I worked from home at the time.  Other then my trips, I was a homebody.  My dear friend Kristianne was staying with me.  She finished law school in New Orleans and wanted to move to NY.  She was living in my apartment and was sharing my bed.  Every day she took her laptop to a cute Japanese cafe, Supercore, nearby to look for jobs.  She did it like a job.  On this day, I decided to join her.  I was preparing a drawing for an FIT class so I took my giant pad with me.  All the tables at the cafe were small, except for one table by the window.  I asked the boy, if it was ok for me to sit there.  He said yes.  I did not notice him until I sat down.

He had a stack of papers and a white iBook.  He was looking at his computer screen and his papers.  I was looking at my drawing and at him.  He was positioned directly by the window so to look at the window I had to look at him.  I liked his face.  A thought flashed in my head of our wedding together.  The next thought was, I am crazy.  I walk out of the house and instantly, I am picking out husbands?  I could not believe how unfocused I was.  I went back to drawing but I could not stop my mind.

He had a Jewish face, I thought.  His face was interesting, he was attractive but not boring attractive, interesting attractive.  I decided to do an experiment.  If I thought “Talk to me” long enough, would he talk to me?  Talk to me, talk to me, talk to me.  He did not talk to me.

My phone rang, I picked it up.  The voice said, “Privet!” (hi in Russian).  Privet, I said, kak dela?  I did not know who it was at first.  It was Coco, a girl from my FIT class who I was supposed to meet later that afternoon.  She wanted to buy jewelry from me.  She told me before that she studied Russian in High School, but I never heard her speak until that day when she called me.

I do not know how long we sat there.  Talk to me, Talk to me, talk to me.  He started packing up his stuff.  Oh well, I guess he is not going to talk to me.  That got me focused on my work again.  The thought of talking to him first did not even cross my mind.  I guess I was not as brave as I am now.  Now I think, I would talk to him.

As he walked by me with his back pack in hand, he said,

“Are you a graphic designer?”

“No, I am a jewelry designer.”

Our conversation was easy.  I do not remember it.  We jumped through few topics.  We landed on studio spaces.  I was looking for one and he was working at one that had space.  This was a good excuse to exchange information.  He wrote down his email address and phone number and handed it to me.  Until then, I did not know his name.  I looked down and it said, “Yury”.

“Yury?” I said, laughing.  Your name is Yury?

My name is Olia.

That sealed it.  He knew I was Russian, he heard me on the phone with my American friend, of all people. He told me later, that he was collecting his cards but he was not going to show them.  The last one, was an Ace –Yury.

… bo be continued

9:27 pm, 9:13 pm

Dirty Shame

8:37 pm & 9:15 pm

I figured it out.  I will write half an hour a day and since it takes me at least an hour to write a post I will split it in to two days.  I was wallowing in the inability and lack of time and the defeat of being a quitter when my sister’s quiet voice of encouragement started echoing in my mind.  It was whispering, write every other day if you can’t write every day, empty the vessel so that it can be full again, you will feel better, you can think of solutions, you have options.

The sounds were faint when I was underwater of my sickness but now I hear them.  I must have given the same advice to friends before myself.  When I am down, I do not follow my own advice.  I need some time.  Today(and yesterday) time came.

On writing, I have learned a lot.  On a practical level, I learned that there is writing and there is editing.  It is like inhaling and exhaling or vice versa.   I can write but only when I look back with fresh eyes can I make sense of it.  That is why two days is better than one.

Second thing I learned.  The stories that people reacted to the most were my most naked moments.   A hard break up moment, a bad boss, a terrible first grade teacher.  Why?  Hidden shame.  No matter how many movies they make about this subject, it will not be enough?  It took me years to be able to tell the story of being and immigrant and how bad my clothes were.  At the time it was embarrassing.  It was not easy to live everyday feeling insecure of how different I was from all the other kids in school.  I was not feeling sexy ethnic Russian yet.  I was feeling awkward poor immigrant.  Everyone has their own.  One felt fat, one skinny, one too rich, one too ugly, one too smart, too stupid, it is endless.  Maturity is in letting go of these things and see them as them not as shame but as something else.  Maturity is at any age.

These movies and stories are processing that shame for the world that cannot come out with it.  I may have held  on to that moment when something “unspeakable”  happened to me.  But there is no moment like that if I do not internalize it as such.

That is where writing is even more powerful than talking. Instead of sharing with close friends my childhood or even present time “shame”.  By writing it into a story, it is elevated into a celebration of my “journey”.  If life was painless, I would have no material, no one would have material.  I want to write a screen play but sometimes I think my life is boring.  What could possibly be there to write about.

Life is stranger than movies.  I could not make up the characters around me.  I could not make up myself.  Life is a stage, and we are all actors.  Shakespeare, we have no script, so we are all improvisers.  Improvising on life all life long, how could that be boring.

9:03 pm & 9:58 pm