You can check out but you can never leave...


My life, your life, our lives inside and outside of Los Angeles and its angels.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Yoko Japanese Antiques Needs Our Support - South Pasadena, CA

Japanese Antiques & Fabrics
1018 Mission Street, #2
South Pasadena, CA 91030
(626) 840-1284
Closed Mondays

Yoko Japanese Antiques is an enchanting Old School shop with a friendly, chatty, knowledgeable owner (Lisa) who runs it now that the former co-owner and her mother, Yoko, has passed away. Lisa wears a mask and keeps social distance while telling lively, entertaining stories and overseeing the mass of jewelry, vintage kimono fabrics, Japanese books & DVDS, miniature dolls, and gorgeous carved pieces.

Prices run from a couple dollars on up.

I bought two lovely pins for $8 each.  And plan to return to buy more of these one-of-a-kind treasures.

Twenty-five years ago, I commissioned Yoko to make me a "noren" (Japanese door curtains). She let me pick the fabric, and made it for me. It was on the recommendation of Amy at Ai Restaurant, who had several beautiful noren by Yoko.

Now, more than ever, this lovely shop needs shoppers!

I hope we can keep this South Pasadena gem going.


Yoko's is closed on Mondays.

I went back last week and took more pictures. The place is sooo photogenic!

#YokoPhotos #JapaneseAntiques

Sorry for the blurry picture!Plenty of vintage kimonos!

Thursday, April 8, 2021



The online arts and culture magazine “The Artifa[ctuals]” is currently running an excerpt from Adam Novak’s upcoming hallucinogenic Hollywood novel, Rat Park (slated for release in 2022 by Red Giant Books). Novak is also the acclaimed author of Take Fountain, The Non–Pro, and Freaks of the Industry through Sunday, April 11 (after which, you can read it in the archives).

On Monday, April 12, the magazine will feature an excerpt from Marlan Warren’s upcoming novel, Tales of Sushi. The story focuses on the attraction between a lonely Caucasian American divorcee and a charming Japanese chef, who forge a cross-cultural friendship amid a lively sushi bar scene in the L.A. area.

“The story is based on my diaries from when I frequented this Cheers-type sushi bar in Pasadena in the nineties,” says Warren, who is also the author of the novel Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged [All’s Not Fair in Love or War].

Editor Aris Janigian created “The Artifa[ctuals]” in the spirit of the Large Hadron Collider: “Our aim is to create a collision space for critical thought and artistic expression, and we welcome fellow travelers on our ever-evolving journey towards ‘a more perfect Union.’”

 Janigian is an author in his own right. His novels include Waiting for Lipchitz at Chateau Marmont, (17 weeks on the Los Angeles Times best-seller list), This Angelic Land, and Waiting for Sophia at Shutters on the Beach.

Artifa[ctuals] Website:


Friday, April 2, 2021

"SAFETY FOR ALL!" INTERVIEW with Desireh "Des" Sedaghat, Candidate for Los Feliz Neighborhood Council Rep ("District B")


Four years ago, I contacted management of Center for Inquiry, the quaint building that was located at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Berendo Street, across from Barnsdall Park in Los Feliz, and asked about their theater rental rates. "They're tearing this place down!" said the guy who answered the phone. "Forget it!" And tear it down, they did. However, only a bare, neglected patch of land was left in its place. In recent months, this formerly sedate and upscale residential L.A. neighborhood has seen tents and squalor take root all around this corner, and gangs have moved in.

There may be some homeless in those tents, but neighbors posting on Next Door have increasingly reported a terrifying situation in which taxpaying, law abiding families are now confronted with gangs who have set up headquarters under cover of the tents, and now stoke residents' fears with gunfire, threats, burglaries, tagging...and now a gang war over turf.

Desireh "Des" Sedaghat is running for a seat on the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council (LFNC) for District "B" on the "SAFETY FOR ALL" platform. The following interview delves into her motivations and her goals. 

The fact that these residents' pleas with law enforcement and city officials has so far gotten them nowhere could mean that criminals will see this inaction as a Green Light to spread out and continue harming innocent citizens in a wider radius of Los Feliz.

This year, the only way to vote for candidates on LFNC is by requesting a ballot from the City Clerk, and mailing your filled out ballot by Tuesday, April 6. You'll find Ms. Sedaghat's name at the bottom of the list of candidates under the heading "District B") and she's listed as "Des" (not Desireh).


What is your background and experience that you feel qualifies you for this position on the LFNC? 

I grew up in the middle of a war torn country. My family and I fled to the US because we had been oppressed and our lives endangered due to our religion. Furthermore, my parents couldn't bear raising two daughters in a country where we had less rights just for being girls and not boys.

Ever since I arrived in the US at 8 years old, I have never had a day where I took for granted the sense of community, freedom and safety that this country had provided us. I have lived in LA since I was 9, and have lived in Los Feliz for 8 years and love the diversity and community that exists here.

However, for over a year, I have seen firsthand the community be torn apart and threatened due to crime, gangs, violence, sales of drugs & vandalism. I dedicated the last 1+ year of my life to doing anything and everything I can to help restore safety for all in our community. I have dealt with the Mayor's office, CD4, LFNC, LFIA, LAPD, LAHSA, PATH as well as countless neighbors in an effort to help.

As an elected official on the LFNC, I will have more direct access and opportunity to make a positive difference in our community and will be an ear for anyone in need in the neighborhood.

I am also a founding member of the Berendo/Lyman/Rodney Safety AdHoc Committee. I've attended every LFNC meeting that I can and am also a member of the Public/Health & Safety and Homelessness Committees.

What, if anything, have you personally experienced as a threat to your safety since these "homeless encampments" have had an influx of gang activity?

First of all, I'd like to address one thing in this question: This is not a homelessness issue - it's a safety issue. I am very compassionate and have reached out to CD4 regarding the true unhoused individuals I see nearby on Hollywood Boulevard. The Berendo encampment is a gang encampment. Nothing more, nothing less.

My car tires were stabbed on 2 different occasions when members of the Berendo encampment saw me speaking to the LAPD. My home has been vandalized on 2 different occasions with gang tagging. I was followed on foot while walking down Hollywood Blvd to pick up Thai food and had to call my husband for a ride home.

Gunshots were fired at the Berendo Encampment right outside my living room window on January 27 -- it was a gang-related shooting over a stolen Mercedes Benz.

My neighbor had a knife pulled on him. 

My 9 year old niece witnessed an assault. 

We have had members of the encampment ring our doorbell and pretend they're beheading us by running their finger across their neck. And they have gestured with their hand that they're going to shoot us.

Need I say more?

How do you know for certain the violence, home invasions, and drug selling are attributable to gangs who have "moved in."

For anyone doubting what's really going on, I urge you to get in touch with Senior Lead Officer Leo Rey at LAPD Northeast, SLO Lenny Davis & and Neighborhood Prosecutor Gabby Taylor.

What would you say is the biggest frustration the surrounding neighborhood of Berendo and Hollywood Blvd. has faced and still faces?

The biggest frustration is getting help from the Los Angeles City Council, District 4 (CD4) office. They are well aware of the situation and are proactively choosing outreach as the only solution to this problem. Well, I think outreach is great and I'm glad they are taking steps in helping our unhoused neighbors, however, in the specific case of the LML encampment on Berendo, outreach has been doing and will continue to do zero good.

The neighbors have also been demanding a meeting with Councilwoman Raman for MONTHS. She lives just a few minutes away in Silver Lake, and yet she's too busy to face us and hear our traumas firsthand, but somehow has the time to go to the Echo Park Closure protest which isn't even in her District. Frustrating doesn't even scratch the surface.

What specific actions toward resolving this situation would you take if elected? And what would you anticipate as the greatest challenges?

The greatest challenge will be to have the city care enough to keep all residents safe -- not the housed at the cost of the unhoused and vice versa. Safety shouldn't be an either/or.

I will also try my hardest to hold the owners of the empty lot of Berendo/Hollywood responsible for their negligence in keeping the lot unsecure.



Monday, January 4, 2021

Who makes sure the homeless get their stimulus money?

This is not him. But similar. ©Photo Marlan Warren

Today I took a long walk through my hood early this morning, and as I passed the unopened Starbucks an old Black man, who was swaddled in a blanket and crumpled in a corner between the building and the sidewalk, muttered something that sounded like an ask. I stopped several feet away (he was unmasked, I wasn't) and looked in my wallet. It's been a long time since I handed a street person money. I used to automatically do it in San Francisco. A counselor whom I was seeing at the time told me that my spontaneous generosity inspired her to try it out. But I have stopped. For various reasons. It hasn't felt right for a long time.

So I reached out to him with a dollar in my hand and he didn't reach out to take it, so I placed it on his tattered knee. He growled:

"I don't need money! I NEED FOOD!"

I was in a hurry to get to my destination (the home of a stranger in the Facebook Buy Nothing group who had specified a time for me to pick up some free nails), and unsure what to do (the Starbucks appeared closed, as did the taco stand across the street).

I mumbled something about being sorry and hurried on. But my head was chattering the rest of the time about what to do. In this upscale, shuttered area it's not that easy to grab a bite for a homeless stranger in need at that early hour. I thought wistfully of McDonalds. So cheap. So accessible. And rather a long walk for me.

In my mind's eye, I saw myself stopping at a nice takeout place and getting him something, bringing it back after my nail pickup. But what did he want? There was a Chinese takeout joint, a donut shop, a gourmet Mexican takeout grill...

The IRS dropped the $600 Stimulus money into my account yesterday. Why not help out someone in need with a bit of it? Or was I taking excessive responsibility? No. This man clearly needed help. And clearly needed to eat!

Or maybe he'd already gotten someone else to help.

About 30 minutes later, I returned and saw his spot was vacant. I looked around. So he's ambulatory. Maybe off to a more lucrative area. But then I saw him—sitting on a bench in a bus shelter looking exhausted and dejected—across the street.

The shelter is in front of the Bank of America where a very long line of customers were patiently waiting, doing their best efforts to socially distance. Perhaps to retrieve their $600?

I approached him and casually asked: "Do you still want food?"

He nodded yes.

"Okay, what would you like? I'll get it for you."

"I want a burger," he said. Now I could see his only teeth - two on the bottom of his mouth. And that mouth was shaking hard when he tried to form words. "And a bag of chips and a soft drink."

He indicated the Fatburger that was a few blocks away.

"They have fries, not chips."

"They got chips..." He nodded in the direction of the gas station quickie mart, even farther than the burger joint.

"Okay, and what kind of drink?"

"Orange Crush."

"And what do you want on your burger?"

"Tomatoes and cheese."

"Mayo? Mustard?" He shook his head no.

I have to say I admire his specificity.

So I'd made this commitment. Now all I had to do was see it through. We were in the exact spot of East Hollywood (aka "Los Feliz") where Hollywood Boulevard, Vermont Avenue, and Prospect Avenue intersect in a rush of heavy traffic and lights that take eons to change. It was 10:30 a.m. and folks were starting to buzz about—including the ones in the tents that have sprung up on a traffic island nearby.

Thanks to the long waits for the lights, the whole mission took about 20 minutes. The quickie mart was quick. And Fatburger was surprising devoid of customers. (YAY!) It was the first time I'd been in there for a couple years. And the only time I've been inside any eating establishment in about a year. The sign on the door claimed:


There wasn't even a line for the drive-by window. What luck!

Staff had changed since I was last there. I hoped it might be efficient. I ordered his burger...and one for me. The couple hamburgers I'd eaten there before were not great. But it was 10:30 a.m. and I was getting hungry. Why not live dangerously?

A few minutes later, the place filled up with masked, agitated men who looked on a lunch break. I counted 12. Behind the counter, the manager was on the phone taking an order -- with his mask hanging under his nose. I saw a customer note this and adjust his own mask more tightly. (L.A. has lost over 1,256 people to Covid-19 as of today, and 26,000 are known to be or have been infected.)

I went to the door and opened it and just stayed there with it open, far from the action and letting fresh air inside (or as fresh as L.A. air can be). Another customer exited and waited outside, not making eye contact.

There was just one young Latina working the grill by herself. Eventually she was joined by another. This felt like the longest wait of my life.

But I had time to think. His meal would total $11.00. Why was this man unable to even buy food? What happened to his IRS deposit? Is he on S.S.I.? Would it have been dropped into his bank account somewhere? Or is there nothing like that for the disenfranchised of our fair city? A social worker who could help him gain access to his rightful government money? He could even qualify for EBT.

Just buying someone without a mask a meal seemed to stretch my limits. After all, I'm one of those "at risk" folks who needs to be locked down, and I am usually in my apartment nursing whatever latest physical ailment has decided to visit me. This is the first time that I've been outside for a good length of time.

I can't get involved with a maskless homeless man in trouble.

Or can I?

"Maria! Mary!" one of Fatburger workers shouted. That was the name I'd given them. I grabbed both bags and headed back.

Of course he'd moved.

I walked inside the bus shelter. Looked across the street at Starbucks. Looked at the B of A parking lot. And I was about to give up when I saw that he was lying in his blanket on the top of the cement barrier of the parking lot, several feet away from me.

Was he sleeping? But he recognized me as I moved towards him, and he sat up, a long line of drool falling out of his mouth (lack of teeth can do that).

I handed him the bag and set the chips & soda next to him.

He said: "Thank you very much."

Then I wished him well and moved on. I walked home, munching my burger with pickles and lettuce, which was hot and tasty. The best one I've ever had.

But that one nagging question remains:

Who is making sure these American citizens, these "street people," get their government money?

Thursday, December 24, 2020

A Christmas Rags to Riches Tale of One Turtle with a Happy Hollywood Ending

Photo ©Tom Tsuji

Who doesn’t like a heartwarming, spiritually uplifting Christmas story of rags to riches? After a year of suffering cold-blooded Reptilian Brains, it’s only fitting that I wrapped up the year with an Amphibian Rescue Operation that gave Oliver Twist a run for his money. So sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…a tale of a fateful trip…

It began last Wednesday, Dec. 17, when my friend Tom, the building manager, and my no-English Armenian neighbor (whom I’ll call Armin) knocked on my door. Armin was standing in the hallway holding a tank of water with a turtle that was continuously swimming in it. After 10 years, Armin’s daughter had tired of her pet and dumped it on him.

Clueless and frantic, Armin kept saying: “Here! You take! Take now!”

Afraid that my cat might relieve her boredom with this unfortunate turtle, I told him to hang on to it until I could find a worthy taker.

I was hopeful that I could re-home any animal through social media. I’ve been giving and receiving unwanted stuff via a great Buy Nothing Facebook Group in my neighborhood. They make things happen.

I’m not a Do-Gooder “Save All Animals” type. I love animals, but I’m usually focused on helping other humans and myself. They say that the Road to Hell is paved with Good Intentions. And that is how this Turtle Odyssey unfolded for the next 48 hours.

Photo ©Tom Tsuji


1. I send out a “Save This Turtle” cry for help on Buy Nothing.

2. I also post on an “Anything Goes” neighborhood Facebook group that attracts a “different” crowd. It can get a little rowdy.

3. On both sites, the responses range from sympathetic to judgmental:

“That turtle is in trouble! It can’t keep swimming in cold water!”

“Who the hell are these monsters who want to dump a turtle?”

“How has it survived 10 years? It should be much bigger! Didn’t they ever feed it?”

“That father and daughter are disgusting people! They should rot in hell!”

“That turtle needs heated water and a rock to sit on!”

“DO NOT dump it in Echo Park Lake with all the other turtles that have been dumped there! It upsets the ecological balance!”

4. Then come the private messages. The first sounds like a slam dunk: “I’ve been looking for a friend for my turtle!” I write back. A few times. No response.

“How much do you want for it?” (So people sell turtles? Now I’m on alert for unsavory Christmas turtle scalpers who might be more interested in turning a buck than keeping a turtle well fed and happy.)

“I can come get it, but I just gave blood.” (I don’t have a car, so this would have to be Pick Up & Carry.) But a few hours later: “My husband says it might eat the fish in our aquarium so…Sorry.”

“That poor turtle! I’ll take it!” (I ask if they know how to care for it? No reply.)


A lovely member of Buy Nothing whom I’ll call “David” messages me that he’s researched red-eared slider turtles and they require a clean tank with an appropriate water level, proper food, a rock or floating platform to rest on from time to time…and possibly a heat lamp if it’s indoors in the winter.

My tension mounts as my attempts to arrange a floating platform and heat lamp prove too complicated. If I had wheels and wasn’t mostly in quarantine, it might have been possible to hurry down to a pet store even after sundown. But for not for this lone ranger.

By now 100 people are following this saga online.

One admin from another Buy Nothing group, Kerin, responds to my need for assistance. She sends an email to a local reptile rescue center. No answer.

Should I take the turtle in for the night? Put it on a high shelf or on the balcony? No. That could be the road to Bigger Hell if I can’t get it adopted.

Later that evening, I receive several Facebook messages from two animal rescue zealots. One saw my distress signal on the “Anything Goes” site and contacted her friend who wants to take it to a turtle preserve in Temecula — well, halfway there (“I’ll have other turtles in the car and I’m meeting the woman with the pond halfway between here and there…”).


At 6 a.m., I get a message from The Drive-By Rescuer. Then a phone call. The more rapidly she talks, the more complicated and convoluted her plan sounds. But with no other options, I say okay. Then she says:

“I can’t do it today.” I hang up.

Now she pounds me with texts, ignoring my NO’s. Then her friend starts sending me insistent messages. Surrender the turtle! When I resist, she threatens: “I’m going to report you to the Admin as a scammer!”

A scammer. What would be the benefit in pretending to have an abused turtle that needs help? 

My attempts to block them fail. Tension mounts. 

By this time, about 100 people are following and commenting on online groups. I also posted on Next Door. When I check back…there’s a ray of hope. Someone sends me a picture of a handwritten sign in front of a house in Hollywood, offering to take in wayward turtles, fish and frogs. It even has a phone number on it.

Photo ©DavidDavid

I call. The guy picks up right away. Great voice. Sounds grounded and very nice. He says his car's in the shop or he'd come right away and pick it up. If I can wait until late afternoon, maybe he can drive over. But I feel it's best not to delay. Armin is impulsive, crazy, and emotional. I fear for this turtle's safety.

The Turtle Man advises me to pick up the turtle and put it into a dry box. Just for the 20 minute ride. "They sometimes bite, so pick it up by its sides." Then I ask Kerin if she can transport. She says yes until we get to the "may bite" part.

So now Mr. Turtle has a destination, but needs transport. What if Armin goes out for errands? I need that turtle here. But he doesn't pick up when I call. So I call Tom because he has a key to his tenants' apartments, but he gets really upset ("It's HIS problem!"). I lose it. I start shouting:


Normally, Tom would explode if I cursed at him, but exhausted, he says: "Okay." A few minutes later, he calls and says: "Arthur is bringing it down in a shopping cart.'"

Arthur arrives with the still-swimming turtle and the still unopened bag of "Turtle Topper" which he calls food.

"Did you feed it in the past 2 days?"


I see red. I don't remember anything after that. I don't know what he said or did that made me start screaming at him. I remember him putting the tank on the floor next to my desk and I remember shouting: "GET THE OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!" and shoving him out the door into the hallway.

So now I'm looking at this poor little creature in the water. I get some little pieces of lettuce leaves and toss them in, but it expresses no interest. I open the bag and toss a few petals in, but again, nothing.

David, the genial turtle researcher, had messaged me that he would help in any way. I decide to stop second guessing and just call him. He responds right away: "I can be there in 15 minutes."

I call Turtle Man and he says: "That's great. So he'll be here in 20 minutes."

David shows up. We're both masked and keeping distance. He swiftly and gently lifts the turtle and puts it into a box.  And they are off.

Photo ©DavidDavid

Photo ©DavidDavid

I'm still not sure if I've done the right thing. But I feel relieved. A few minutes later, I research this Turtle Man's name and find his FB page where he has a lot of posts about the Zen-type Garden he's made in his backyard. Including a gorgeous video of happy turtles enjoying themselves in their own private area. His name is Dante Rusciolelli. A well-known comedian.

Turtle in Paradise
Photo ©DavidDavid

 A half hour later, David messages me that Operation Turtle is a success. I let Tom know and he apologizes with a text that says: "We can never rescue an animal again!"

David fills me in. Dante and his wife are sweet and funny. They leave the back door open so the turtles wander inside and hang with the dogs whenever they want to. Plus Dante regularly bathes the turtles by hand in special temperature water. And the sanctuary keeps the creatures separated according to species. The turtles have a hiding place so raccoons can't get to them.

Turtle and Savior, Dante Rusciolelli
Photo ©DavidDavid

L.A. can be a tough place to navigate. When I came back 10 years ago, I had my rose-tinted glasses on. Kissing the ground. My good memories of good friends pulled me back. Time helped to dissolve most of those connections until I found myself isolated and down. Gradually, 2020 turned out to be surprisingly the "worst of times and the best of times" for me as I found new people of like minds on social media that revolve around my own neighborhood during this horrible Pandemic. That synergy has renewed my faith in others as well as myself. 

May your holidays bring you what you need. And if you're lucky, what you really want.

God bless us, every one! 


David created a pictorial odyssey that follows the turtle's first steps into Turtle Heaven. Here are a few of my favorite moments with his narrative:

David's Intro: 

Not since P-22 was found in the basement of a Los Feliz house has the world been so transfixed with an outcome of an animal rescue. None of this would have been possible without the kindness of Marlan Warren. I just went along for the ride.

All the following photos are by David David, copyright protected. Dante Rusciolelli gave me permission to use his name, likeness, and contact info. He sent me this message:

"The turtle is loving his new life. I don’t think he had ever seen other turtles before, he’s so excited. Every day he looks like he’s having the time of his life. He’s been in basically a cage his whole life until now."


WHAT? Are you kidding me? I get to live here?

Meeting a new friend: "He seems nice!"

"Hey, wait for me!"

Home at last













Tuesday, November 3, 2020



                                                      - Marlan Warren, November 3, 2020, Los Angeles, CA

This poem jumped out of me after listening to an automated voice repeat "PLEASE HOLD THROUGH THE SILENCE" as I paid my utility bill via phone. I happily voted days ago at a Los Angeles Vote Center at the Hollywood Hotel where I found cheerful masked young female volunteers and only one person ahead of me, as we handed in our mail-in ballots. Great to hear the satisfying whir of the machine as my ballot went through. The next day I received confirmation from Ballot Trax that my ballot was received and will be counted. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged - #Audiobook Installment (Chapter 2, Part 4)

Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged #Audiobook Installment


"Rainbow showed up with a black eye and a book titled The Verbally Abusive Mate."

Yes! It's the next installment of "Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged"! If you're an author with a knack for reading your own work, I highly recommend you launch your own audiobook. Here's Chapter 2 (Part 4): "Intentional Households."

Elevator Pitch

On the run from her marriage of 10 years, Carrie has taken a room in a house full of people a couple generations younger in Venice, CA. Take this trip down the Yellow Brick Road of one woman's divorce odyssey, through a tangle of L.A. subcultures and biracial dating experiences -- set against the backdrop of the 1994 O.J. Simpson trial.

This fictionalized memoir is available on #Amazon #Kindle at

For more info & reviews:  http://roadmapsforthesexuallychallenged.blogspot.com

View on YouTube

Monday, October 5, 2020

New #Audiobook of L.A. Stories: "Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged" by Marlan Warren - Chapter 2 (3)

I'm excited to share with you my #Audiobook: Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged - Chapter 2 (Part 3) -- now up and running on YouTube.

In this episode of Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged: All's Not Fair in Love or War, the newly separated and longtime married Carrie finds herself living with 90s Gen X roomies in Venice, CA -- a couple decades younger. Chapter 2:

"Intentional Households"

"Roadmaps" is available on #AmazonKindle.

This video was made and narrated by the book's author, Marlan

More info and reviews at http://roadmapsforthesexuallychallenged.blogspot.com

The story navigates through the wilds of 90s L.A. with interracial dating scenarios and loads of Tao.

Available on Amazon Kindle

Wednesday, August 26, 2020


"All Knowing Owl" Bracelet Made For Joyce Rankin By Lillian Todaro

Celebrating my friend Joyce Rankin's great news that she got an "All Clear" a few days ago from her doctor on the recent scans and tests! As everyone by now knows, we have enough anxieties and struggles going on in 2020 with the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic Crisis and its effects that range from Death to Economic Disaster, without adding on a separate life threatening situation, but that's what happened to Joyce several months ago.

And there's nothing more stressful than worrying about a loved one who is very ill.

Joyce and I grew up together in Fort Myers, Florida, and after she graduated FSU with her degree in Biochemistry, she asked if I'd like to head off to Canada with her in the car that her father gave her as a graduation present. Our first night in Ottawa, Joyce crashed it against a telephone pole backing out of an alley. And we simply had to stay, get jobs -- in her case get married (!) -- and a year later, I moved to Chicago (after performing in a couple plays).

We've kept in touch over the decades, sometimes lucky enough to catch an in-person glimpse whenever Joyce is in "The States" (she has dual citizenship now). And still corresponding whenever the spirit moves us.

Joyce lost her mother when she was 8 years old, shortly before we met in the Fourth Grade. When I showed her our Fourth Grade Classroom picture, she said: "Oh my gosh! I don't know how I survived that year!"

Fourth Grade - I'm the kid with the tight curls and Joyce behind me.

Marlan Warren (L) Joyce Rankin (R) - Ottawa, Ont. CANADA

Joyce (L) Marlan (R) - Ottawa, Ontario

After I got the worrying news that Joyce was facing surgeries and Immunotherapy, I tried to stay upbeat whenever we talked. Joyce has the biggest, most laughter-filled laugh in the world, so I joked a lot when we talked on the phone.

Right after her first surgery, I offered to give her "Long Distance Energy Healing" (Reiki) and she accepted. Every night for a week. I'm a Reiki Master/Teacher who was first certified in 1984.

It's rare for me to offer Reiki that isn't in person because even though it "works" every time, I'm always a bit anxious that maybe the receiver won't feel any effects. Joyce did. And she got some good sleep during that recovery period.

I envy Joyce's many friends in Victoria, B.C. because they can actually be with her in person.

It's a helpless feeling when someone is far away -- and during this Pandemic Restriction, there's no way that I can travel to Canada from L.A.

So I decided to ask my L.A. friend, the award-winning master bead jewelry artist, Lillian Todaro, to please create a custom bracelet for Joyce. That's a BIG ask. Lillian Todaro designs are coveted by collectors internationally, and her one-of-a-kind creations are a huge deal to make as well as receive.

A champion survivor herself, the compassionate Lillian put her heart and a lot of soul into this "All Knowing Owl" bracelet. And I sweated out the long, long time it took to move through our U.S. postal system, Border Customs, and Canada.

When it did arrive, Joyce was thrilled and says she just loves it!


Bead Bracelet Map by Lillian Todaro

For me, it's been a journey of linked friendships -- one longtime and one new.

I'm self-quarantining 99 percent of the time at home with my cat Savannah. So the warm and fuzzy stuff has to happen in Time and Cyberspace. And occasionally the Telephone (remember those?).

Not only did Lillian intuitively select each bead (she looks over her massive collection and asks "Are you the one for this creation?" or words to that effect, and she says the beads practically jump on by themselves), but she included a hand drawn diagram (above) to explain every carefully chosen element. She signs both the map and the bracelet!

I'm grateful to Lilly for listening to my fears and comforting me these past months.

And I love her response when I told her that Joyce got an "All Clear" (for the time being):

FANTASTIC!!! So glad to hear another deserving human being won the battle. We must all stay positive for her & not even speak its name into the universe. And just think win, win!!! Win, win, and she won!!! Tell her I send love & positive thoughts of strength and perseverance. I would like to see a pic of her if you have one for my mind's eye. I can only see her bracelet now.

She also asked me to post all this on her FB Timeline so it could be celebrated by others and our combined good wishes and happiness for someone else's wellness could reinforce Joyce's current healing.


Stay safe, everyone! Hug your loved ones tight and be blessed!

Joyce Rankin in the 21st Century

Wouldn't you love to know more about Lillian Todaro's Designs? Check out my interview with Lilly and see the Goddess Bracelet that she made for my birthday:

Lillian Todaro's Pandemic Panic Survival Plan

Do you deserve a Goddess Bracelet?

Click here to go to Lillian Todaro Designs Website

#Survival #Survivor #Hope #LillianTodaro #LillianTodaroDesigns #LillianTodaroCollection #LifetimeFriendships #BeadJewelry #LosAngelesBeadSociety #JoyceRankin

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Annual Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference Pivots to Zoom (8/7 - 8/15/2020)

Event: Annual Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference
When: Friday, Aug. 7 - Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020
Where: ZOOM
Registration/Info: L.A. Writers Conference Website
Program: http://www.wcwriters.com/aglawc/program.html

Executive Director of the Annual Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference (AGLAWC), Tony Todaro, has announced that this educational and networking event will celebrate its 26th year with a pivot from its pre-pandemic originally slated venue at the Culver City Doubletree by Hilton Hotel to Zoom, starting Friday, Aug. 7, and running through Saturday, Aug. 15.

"When it comes to virtual writers conferences, one major plus is that writers are able to interact with agents, writing experts, and publishing professionals who might otherwise not be able to attend in person," says Todaro. "Nobody is limited by geographical location anymore."

"The schedule is daily and linear, so writers won't have to choose between two workshops or panels happening simultaneously," Todaro says. "We'll have more than 40 literary agents, professional editors, and publishers on hand to give guidance on the craft and business of writing fiction and nonfiction."

Keith Ogorek, President of the Author Learning Center, will kick off opening day with a webinar titled "7 Things Every Writer Needs to Become an Author."

Speaker event topics include how-to's for pitching agents or publishers; writing a memoir; self-editing; ghostwriting; screenwriting. Writers may have their writing read and critiqued by publishing professionals. 

"Our faculty is not 'sheltering in place,'" says Todaro. "With this new technology, we consider them our Writers in Residence."

He assures attendees there will be ways to network, share your contact info, etc. And yes, they will still receive goody bags!

Tony N. Todaro
Photo ©Ester Benjamin Shifren

For the past 26 years, Todaro, aided and abetted by his wife, Lillian, have organized these writers conferences. Although the learning curve for transposing this massive event to the virtual realm is steep, Tony Todaro is a veteran at staying focused.

He quotes from a t-shirt that he owns:

"Being an Executive Director is as easy as riding a bicycle, except you're on fire, the bike is on fire, and everything else is on fire."

(Sounds just a little bit like writing, doesn't it?)


Friday, July 10, 2020

Have you earned the right to a Goddess Bracelet? #LillianTodaro #BeadJewelry

For my birthday, Award-Winning Los Angeles Bead Artist Lillian Todaro gifted me with this custom made bracelet. Each bead and charm has a symbolic meaning, and Lilly included a diagram of what they mean and what they are. Sorry, you can't buy this one. But you can check out the rest of her amazingly spiritual collection at http://lilliantodaro.com.

For my interview with Lilly and to view the mouth-watering pics of her gorgeous creations, click here: Lillian Todaro's Pandemic Panic Survival Plan.

"Of course if someone wants to have a Goddess Bracelet made for someone they feel has earned it," says Lilly. "I am open to that."

And below are some photos of what it looks like draped over my crystal ball:

Why the butterfly?
"May you be surrounded by Blue Skies and Butterflies!"

Why the kitty?

Lilly knows I love cats. I didn't tell her that my Chinese astrological symbol was once known as "The Cat." But for me, no Goddess Bracelet would be complete without a feline!

My power colors! I didn't tell her. Lilly just knew.

Thank you so much, Lillian Todaro, for this great gift during this globally challenging period.

I will treasure it always. (Should I add "And hope to be worthy?" or is that too gag inducing?)

Search This Blog