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Marissa Flaxbart
Going to the movies and writing are my two favorite pastimes. Watching TV is up there, too. I also love sitting someplace for hours having a long conversation. Preferably Europe.
Interests: comedy, movies, writing, books, singing, performing
Recent Activity
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Are you expecting people to read your mind? Let me put that another way: Am I expecting people to read my mind? It happens all the time. I'll be sad that so-and-so made other plans for the weekend, because didn't... Continue reading
Posted 6 hours ago at Popular Sentiment
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I was driving down Silver Lake Blvd. toward three quick errands I would knock out bam bam bam so I could get to the next thing. But then I saw the reservoir, and I pulled over. I found a pen... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Popular Sentiment
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n my second childhood home – the one I know best, where we moved after leaving the city apartment that's probably much smaller than I recall – we had a huge yard. In the back of the house, there was a fenced in portion of the yard where the dogs ran around, and that was where Mom's garden was. Accordingly, it was also where you could fine Dad's compost heap. Separated from the garden by a chickenwire fence was this huge pile of rich, decaying soil and he had to stand in it and turn it with a gardening shovel. It was hard, dirty work and I never really understood why he went to the trouble. Our garden looked great. The landscaping he'd done looked great. We didn't need more dirt, did we? When I sat down today, I wasn't planning to write about compost. I was planning to write about writer-painter Maira Kalman, who is my newfound philosophical soul mate and creative...muse? No. Mentor? Can someone be a mentor without knowing you or talking to you? Let's go with "hero." I listened to her interview on Krista Tippett's resplendent On Being and hearing her snapped me right out of my last-day-before-Monday funk. It wasn't that what she was saying moved me or soothed me, exactly. it was that everything she seemed to say about her outlook on storytelling, humanity, the world around us, and creativity was so precisely in tune with my deepest held feelings on those most-mattering of all matters Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Popular Sentiment
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The weekend before I left for England, I went to the beach with my close family friends. Their little son, now a year and half old, hadn’t been to the ocean since he was an infant, and he was immediately fascinated by the expanse of it, then frightened as his toes touched the surf, and then fascinated all over again. And no wonder — this little boy loves water, and whether it’s raining or he’s thirsty or a plant is covered with dew, he’ll point at it and say, “agua! agua!” as he happened to learn this particular word in Spanish. The Spanish word for “water” rolls so much more easily off a baby’s tongue, and he delights in the way we react, both tickled by his early bilingualism and able to understand just what he’s talking about. I can relate to my little nephew’s fascination with water. I realized in my twenties that just being near the water soothes my nerves and lifts my spirits. I lived within a couple of miles of Lake Michigan, which has sandy beaches of its own, for all of my pre-California life, and the Chicago River is still my favorite thing about visiting home. I now live about ten miles from the Pacific Ocean, and that distance is about as great as I can stand; my first year in California, autoless and 15 miles inland, I would pay $30 to borrow a car and drive to Newport Beach for an hour or two just to stick my toes in the sea. In all my fascination and reverence for water, though, I never really stopped to consider its sacred significance. Sure, there’s “holy water,” but I never drew the line between this consecrated bowlful of liquid and the vast bodies of water that dominate this planet. But in our trip to England, the connection was impossible to miss: there was holy water everywhere you went, and it was coming out of the ground. Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
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Yesterday, I took myself to see Ingrid Goes West, a movie I knew little about, except that it starred Aubrey Plaza and was a comedy, possibly of the trenchant variety. It turned out to be a terrific little film, but... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
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It’s the start of a new month, and a new season of life and work for me. Knowing I had this big trip to England coming up, I turned it into a kind of mile-marker, a dividing line between summer and fall, between creative brainstorm time and get-down-to-brass-tacks time. I’ve been working on a play, a podcast, and a side-hustle. I just got a new screenwriting job. So much to be excited about. I returned from my mystical journey grateful for a fresh start and raring to go, as soon as my body caught up to itself in the Pacific Time zone. Last week, in the days following my return home, I set goals, made gameplans, and scheduled my (metaphorical) grand re-opening for today, Tuesday morning, September 5. I cooked up an elaborate and detailed new work schedule for myself, complete with breaks, opportunities to evaluate my “assignment” for the day, and commute agendas. I was going to have my feet on the floor at 7:30am. I was going to have my butt in my office chair by 8:30, dressed, made-up, caffeinated. My painstakingly selected word for the month is “vitality.” I’m annoying myself just writing it down, contemplating the go-gettery bushytailedness of it all. I woke up at 7:30am today, as I have the past few days in fact, a nice side effect of getting to sleep early. Only today, I felt a bit like I’d been hit by a truck. My body was sore, my brain was foggy, and no amount of contemplation on the word “vitality” was going to pep up my step. Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
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In an effort to get into the spirit for my England trip (or maybe just to tamp down my intense longing for the English countryside), I decided to read a book set in England in the weeks before I left.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
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I have returned to these United States, back to a grisly heatwave in beautiful, sunny Los Angeles, back to the traffic in my sprawling, diverse adopted home. In case it’s not clear from all those conflicting descriptors, I am teetering... Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
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Note that I began the below while I was still in Salisbury; I'm now in London, but I hadn't made time to finish/proof/post it until now. What a delightful whirlwind it's been! Last Wednesday, after a week and a half... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
Here's the second of my two travelogue posts for the Music at All Saints Facebook page It’s kind of ironic, really: back home, Thursdays are rehearsal nights for the All Saints Choir — the one day a week (other than... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
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Earlier today I wrote about how arriving in Salisbury was bittersweet. Then I left the hotel during daylight hours and walked a few blocks further into town than I had last night. All I can say is, it's a good... Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
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You've probably heard that smell is the sense most closely tied to memory. And you've probably experienced it too -- walking into an unexpected cloud of scent and being transported back to a place (the smoky incense of Northern New... Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
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I wrote the following post yesterday (Thursday, August 17) for the daily travelogue being shared on the Music at All Saints' Beverly Hills Facebook page. Take a look at the page for more updates and perspectives on the trip from... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
As my time abroad continues, I am feeling called to resist the urge to check my phone for messages, emails, and updates. I have very limited data to use while in England, so I’ve turned it off entirely, and I can only get internet access when I’m back at the hotel, where there is a reliable (if molasses-slow) WiFi connection. I have to admit: it’s shaping up to be a really great time to be far away from America, unplugged from the headline deluge and tweetstorm feedback loop. That being said, even in this sacred, quiet place, the troubles of home are on my mind. This is supposed to be a travelogue, however, so let’s talk about something from my travels: We have breakfast included at our hotel — hot and/or cold food, coffee and/or tea, butter and/or jam, the works. It’s a small place — 15 rooms in all — and it’s almost entirely filled with choristers from All Saints Beverly Hills like myself. Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
Considering Wells is such a small town, and our purpose here is a pretty singular one -- we came to sing, and we're doing so several times every day -- I'm surprised by how very much I am compelled to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
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First full day in Wells. I'm determined to enjoy and fully embrace this occasion I've awaited for so long, but there's a wrinkle in the plan that's impossible to deny: my body has revolted. The issue isn't jet leg or food poisoning or even a cold; ever since the last few hours of the 10-hour airplane ride, I've been having an intense allergic reaction to breathing the air. Any air. Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
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On Friday evening, I hopped on a plane at LAX. 10 hours later, I was at London Heathrow, and it was 11am on Saturday. I'm here with the All Saints Beverly Hills, and while we'll spend some time in London... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
Several months ago, I started a VERY silly Instagram project called Limited Endeavor. About once a week, I set up an artistically grandiose photograph of a weird limited edition snack (most often candy). My motivation was threefold: (1) I'd heard... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
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So, tomorrow (TOMORROW TOMORROW TOMORROW TOMORROW!) I am heading to England for several magical weeks of choral cathedral singing. I am in pretty good shape prep-wise (I've been mostly packed since Saturday, because I'm just that excited), but I'm trying to keep things simple today. In that spirit, here are three little...oh, let's call them "gems" in place of one longer post. Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
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Today I was rushing around all point of town, trying to squeeze in all the things, little and big, that I both want and need to do. I am realizing more and more how driven I am by (1) a desire not to let anyone down, (2) a desire to do EVERYTHING always, and (3) a desire not to be late to appointments that borders on neurosis. At about noon, I'd fumbled the ball slightly on points one and two, and point three was a total loss. I'd run two office errands since parking my car, but they'd taken me longer than I expected (despite literal running) and I was cutting personal to-dos off my list, thinking about what date or time I could move them to, and if such a rescheduling were even possible before I leave the country for nearly three weeks on Friday afternoon. I had a heavy purse full of notebooks on my right shoulder, a bag full of lunches in my left hand, and my phone in my right hand. I started to compose an apology text for the conference call I'd missed, but I only got one word in before the light changed and it was time to walk again. And then I fell down in the street. Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
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There’s a podcast I’ve been devouring (you know, with my ears) since it was recommended to me in July: “Harry Potter & the Sacred Text.” I could (and may) write a whole post about that show. But for now I want to focus on a word it put into my consciousness, “florilegia.” Florilegia is a variation of a practice that I (and maybe you) have been doing in one way or another my whole life: collecting and noting down phrases that sparkle for me as I read. Though this practice dates back to medieval times, it holds something new for me: it asks that we take these little plucked flowers from the text and replant them beside one another. Reading them this way, separated from the original source, they can offer us new insights, spurring us to find unseen depth through a newly contextualized examination. Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
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Since Friday, I’ve had the unexpected bonanza of three separate, entirely unrelated, and long-overdue conversations with people I’ve known for a very long time who live very far away from me. It’s got me thinking about time, energy, and how we spend both. You know that feeling when your phone starts buzzing, and you think it’s a text message? But then it keeps buzzing, and you realize that you are being called -- actually CALLED? On the PHONE?! For most of us — more and more as our lives get busier and the ways we “ping” each other, as my programmer father puts it, become more and more numerous — that feeling is annoyance. Implicit in a phone call is a demand for your time, asking you to drop everything and engage or else miss your chance. But sometimes, you’re holding your phone in your hand, doing something frustrating or boring or brainless, and suddenly your screen is overtaken by a name and a picture of someone you weren’t expecting to hear from, someone you really want to talk to. And any annoyance you might feel at having your google search or your game of Two Dots interrupted is swept swiftly away by the pleasantness of the surprise. Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
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Every Friday night, a little wine shop in Pasadena called Monopole puts an item on their menu called "Friday Blind." The game is simple: taste four wines – two white, two red – and if you can name three out... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
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Last night at about 10pm I found myself in a completely new place: strolling down the sidewalks of Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, heading east from what I believe is technically Hollywood. Regardless of the heat of the day, nights in L.A. are typically cool and faintly moist, a city in a desert by the sea. But it was an unusually warm last night, and unusually humid all day, and the streetlights shimmered a few foot candles brighter in the thickened air. I hadn't intended to walk at all, but the warm night was so welcoming, I'd left my car at home, and the bus wasn't coming for at least half an hour. So off I went on foot, and oh what wonders did I behold. Night-blooming cactus! A sleeping bulldozer! A late-night baker preparing for the morning rush. Street after residential street lit by quaint yellow lamps, short and warm and movie-set bright. It was honestly pretty magical. Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2017 at Popular Sentiment
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Regardless of where you live (in America at least), “What do you do?” is likely among the first few conversation ice breakers. And it’s harmless enough a question, though I’m sure a great many people would prefer to talk about almost anything else. But Los Angeles is a city where, for so many hustlers and dreamers and hustler/dreamer hyphenates, it’s hard to decide whether to name the job that pays your bills or the thing you’re striving with all your free time to finally be paid for. Am I a dancer or a barista? Am I a comedian or a Lyft driver? Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2017 at Popular Sentiment