Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Nine One Once Upon A Time...

The other day I was driving East on the 10 freeway here in Los Angeles when I noticed some commotion up ahead. Cars were changing lanes rapidly and suddenly, thirty, forty, fifty of them.  I moved to the farthest left lane to stay out of the melee. As I approached the area, a white car was completely stopped in the middle lane, her hazards blinking. A woman was in the driver's seat, just sitting there; her hood was dramatically dented and it was obvious she'd just been in an accident.

It was alarming seeing her there in the middle of the freeway, not even trying to pull over or get off at the nearest exit. As I drove past, I thought surely someone had called 911 already. I kept driving, and a few seconds later I thought. Wait, what if everyone assumes that someone else is calling?

I dialed my cell.
The operator picked up.
"911. What is your emergency?"

I started with, "I'm sure you've received a hundred calls about this, but..." and explained the situation. She asked for details I hadn't noticed, the make of the car, the license plate, the severity of the accident. And then I could hear typing in the background.

"Ma'am," she said. "You're our first call about this. We're sending police now."

The first call? Wow. Hundreds of cars had whizzed past her, and I'm sure hundreds more were about to. What if every single person thought someone else was surely going to call 911?

This was such a lesson on actively engaging instead of passively assuming. Hopefully the woman is okay.

I have been blogging over at my website: MelissaClarkWrites.com

I'm not sure how much longer I'll be contributing to this Connections Clark blog, there are just so many things to keep up with. Thank you for following me here for all these years. This blog started as a way to chronicle my involvement in the Obama campaign so many years ago. It's hard to believe that his Presidency is nearing its end.

Please find and follow me at my new(ish) website, and of course on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Back to Blog/Back to Boston

Seems I have been cheating on this blog with my MelissaClarkWrites website. But now that it's up and running, the affair is over and I'm back to this blog.
Emerson Building on Boylston
I had a soulful and active trip to Boston last week. It helps that my friend is a professor at my Alma Mater, Emerson College. She was able to negotiate a speaking engagement for me -- on writing and creativity. It was really fun preparing it, and even more fun delivering it. The current Emerson students are still very creative and ambitious. I loved meeting with various kids to talk about life after Emerson. I was interviewed by a bunch of them, and then filmed for a documentary. I believe when I was there the school was about 2,500 people, but it has now swelled to over 6,000. To add to the fun, thanks to Fbook, I connected with a bunch of friends from my past who were able to come to the talk as well. I can't express the joy I felt at seeing everyone - Andrea, from elementary school (she claims I marched right up to her on the first day of school, introduced myself and invited her over to play. Was I that bold as a child? I remember myself as a super shy kid - like, painfully so), Julie from my first college, Liz, from college, and Margaret from graduate school. And of course, Miranda, who hosted me and organized the whole event.

Had a blast later in the week, visiting the studios of WGBH and meeting Marco Werman, host of The World (Produced by friend Andrea Crossan), eating a great meal with Miranda at Alden & Harlow, discovering a fantastic art show at a gallery at Harvard, breakfasting with old friend Leslie-Anne Copes, seeing Howard Jones in concert in Natick, MA in a hotel lobby, and marveling at the fluffy, white snowflakes as they fell from the sky.
It meant the world to visit The World

Lovely ladies of Boston

Boston will always have my heart.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Practice Makes...Practice

I learned a new word in yoga over the weekend: Santosha. Maybe I'd heard it before, but I never connected with it the way I did the other night. Santosha is Sanskrit for  contentment.  I have been experiencing santosha on a deep level lately. Perhaps it is knowing that practice doesn't make perfect - that 'perfect' is an illusion - practice breeds practice - in all disciplines - for me, in yoga, and writing, and keeping gratitude lists, and valued time spent in therapy. These practices have slowly, but certainly, lead me to a place of santosha. It is a place "between effort and ease", as the yogi's say - a sweet spot. Not joy, not elation, certainly not sadness or depression. Whatever it is, however one explains it, I am there - breathing in, breathing out, in the moment, and open to all possibilities.

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Little Zumba, A Little Writing...

I had such a great time speaking at The Oaks Spa over the weekend.  My memories of The Oaks date back to when I was 16 or so and my mom took me for a weekend getaway. I've written about it before. After the first lunch I escaped the premises and ran across to grab a burrito - i.e. normal food. Now, I treasure the meals there - all super duper healthy and measured out calorically. (is that a word?) They are not drool-inducing, but they are very, very good. 

I gave a talk, and conducted three writing exercises, my favorites from the various courses I teach. They yielded excellent writing samples, and unlike the college students, the spa students were anxious to read out loud. 

Speaking at the spa (there really were people there, I swear)

My mom and our new friend, Frances
When I wasn't speaking, I was dancing, yogaing, hula-hooping, zumba-ing, stretching and sleeping. Happily, I'll be back at the end of March, doing it all over again.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Follow the Paper

Once, many, many moons ago, I had a seasonal job at The Christmas Store, which used to be in the Century City mall. Today we would call it a "pop-up shop", but back then it was merely a "seasonal store." I think I was only in 9th grade when my friend Jen and I both applied for and got the job. Because I had neat handwriting, they put me on engraving duty, that is to say I personally engraved names onto ornaments with some super slim power tool. Is that even legal? The tool shook in my hand as I practiced my cursive on scraps of recycled metal. When a customer approached with his or her bauble, I'd plug in the tool and scratch out whatever name they requested, usually, but not always, to satisfied customers. In my down time, I was put on "wrapping duty", which was much less exotic and required me to wrap gifts. Boy did I suck. I always underestimated the amount of paper, and often found myself taping paper to the box and covering up my botched job with extra paper, and then a bow on top to try and hide the screw-up.  Once, upon watching me struggle, a co-worker or a boss, or maybe even Jen, said to me, "Sometimes you just need to follow the paper. It'll always tell you where to go." How zen! How reasonable! When the paper folded a certain way, I let it, instead of fighting to make it conform to my wishes. "Follow the paper" became my mantra in the store, and still is now when I find myself wrapping gifts for friends, parents, nephews, Hanukkah, Christmas, parties and the like. "Follow the paper" - isn't it a nice metaphor? 

Friday, November 14, 2014


I am having a wonderful semester at the college where I teach, with engaged and talented students. I taught a section in my Memoir class about the graphic novel. We read Persepolis and then I had them draw, in graphic novel form, a scene from one of their essays. Below: students hard at work, and a few of the end results. So impressive!

In my other course, photographer Amy Tierney joined us last week as a guest speaker and told us what it was really like choosing to live a creative life. She's so creative that she insisted we take a class picture.

Look at those cool kids!