My Own Zoo / Mi Propio Zoológico

La versión español está después de la versión inglés.

MY LAST JOB in the USA was managing major accounts for a technology company specializing in the hospitality industry. To say I was miserable would be an understatement. It was my final employment hell from which I couldn’t wait to escape. In the midst of it I began my own company based on the doodles I had done my entire life, doodling images out of words. The spark for a business was a doodle I had done a few years earlier when I worked for a publishing company. While sitting in an editorial meeting, I doodled a tribal-looking image constructed of the letters of the words “FUCK YOU” (no, I never DID like working for someone else). One of the artists commented — having no idea what it signified — “That is totally cool, dude.” I called the company “ToldemArt,” which was supposed to be a play on the word “totem” and the idea that I was telling you something with the art — like FUCK YOU — without being obvious. My tagline was “Tell ’em you told ’em.”

After a difficult rollout of the business due to an emergency with My Mother The Dowager Duchess, which I‘ll tell you about another time, I created a gambling collection for MGM Mirage Corporation. The collection was carried in the gift shops at MGM Grand and Bellagio hotels in Las Vegas. I was off and running. The shops sold 100 items in the first week.

And then the bottom dropped out of the economy. Businesses died all over the country (and the world) and almost nothing sold in the next month. Great timing. We moved back to Southern California for San Geraldo’s work, so although I couldn’t afford to, I finally quit that awful job and focused full time on ToldemArt. I managed to get other jewelry into some boutiques in New Orleans and, although they sold, it certainly wasn’t a living. I next created “The Zoo,” a collection of animal designs that were sold online and at the Cleveland Zoo and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Items sold but the economy by then was so weak that it was impossible to take root. By that time, San Geraldo and I decided we were moving to Spain. And, since we applied for retirement visas, I was not allowed to work for the first five years, so that was the end of ToldemArt. It seemed like a great idea at the time!


MI ÚLTIMO TRABAJO en los EEUU gestionaba las principales cuentas de una empresa de tecnología especializada en la industria de la hospitalidad. Decir que era miserable sería una subestimación. Fue mi último trabajo en el infierno del que no podía esperar para escapar. En medio de eso, comencé mi propio negocio basada en los garabatos que había hecho toda mi vida, garabateando imágenes con palabras. La chispa para un negocio era un garabato que había hecho unos años antes cuando trabajaba para una editorial. Mientras estaba sentado en una reunión editorial, dibujé una imagen de aspecto tribal construida con las letras “FUCK YOU” (no, nunca me gustó trabajar para otra persona). Uno de los artistas comentó, sin tener idea de lo que significaba: “Eso es totalmente genial, dude”. Llamé a la compañía “ToldemArt”, que se suponía que era una obra de teatro con la palabra “tótem” y la idea que estaba diciendo algo con el arte, como FUCK YOU, sin ser obvio.

Después de una difícil implementación del negocio debido a una emergencia con Mi Madre La Duquesa Viuda, que les contaré en otra ocasión, creé una colección de los juegos de Las Vegas para MGM Mirage Corporacion. La colección se realizó en las tiendas de regalos de los hoteles MGM Grand y Bellagio en Las Vegas. ¡Exito! Las tiendas vendieron 100 artículos en la primera semana.

Y luego el fondo cayó de la economía. Las empresas murieron en todo el país (y en el mundo) y casi nada se vendió en el mes siguiente. Regresamos al sur de California por el trabajo de San Geraldo, así que, aunque no podía costearlo, finalmente renuncié a ese trabajo horrible y me concentré a tiempo completo en ToldemArt. Me las arreglé para conseguir otras joyas en algunas boutiques en Nueva Orleans y, aunque se vendieron, ciertamente no era un medio de vida. A continuación, creé “The Zoo” (el zoo), una colección de diseños de animales que se vendieron en línea y en el Zoológico de Cleveland y la Academia de Ciencias de California en San Francisco. Los artículos se vendieron, pero la economía para entonces era tan débil que era imposible echar raíces. Para entonces, San Geraldo y yo decidimos que nos mudábamos a España. Y, como solicitamos visas de jubilación, no se me permitió trabajar durante los primeros cinco años en España, por lo que ese fue el final de ToldemArt. ¡Parecía una gran idea en ese momento!

I’ll share more ToldemArt very soon.
Voy a compartir más ToldemArt muy pronto.

Sweater Weather… Dammit

I’ve just got to say I’m pretty disgusted with “the weather man.” “He” said it was going to be sunny and in the 50sF (10–15C) for almost our entire visit. Well, we haven’t seen much sun. And, although we’ve seen the 50s a couple of times, we haven’t felt it. The wind-chill (we didn’t have windchill in Southern California and we don’t have windchill on the Mediterranean) has been below 40F (4.5C).

But are we complaining? Well, yes, actually. Every chance we get. We were well-prepared, however. We have our sweatshirts, winter jackets, scarves, gloves, layers. No problem really. I just wish I still had my father’s sweaters made by the Dowager Duchess (who was just a Duchess at the time). I’d be a lot more “stylin’.” While scanning old photos yesterday, I came across this shot of another one of my favorite sweaters made by the Duchess. This argyle cardigan was made for my father in 1948. I inherited it in 1969 and wore it until I outgrew it in the late ’80s. It was still in perfect condition. I wonder who’s enjoying it now.


First Things First

I move often.  It could be that I’m always running away from something or that I’m always running to something.  But, since I’ve been with my partner (now husband) Jerry for 29 years, and we have been running away from or to something together for all that time,  I suppose it doesn’t really matter.  We move often and we like to move.

Of course, that’s not to say we don’t find moving stressful.  We just find staying in one place worse.

So, we’re getting ready for another move.  A big one this time.  In the spring of 2011, we will leave Southern California and head to Southern Spain.

And, although we’ve done lots of homework, planning, and 16-page spreadsheets in preparation for the big move, this post is another first step for me on that trip.