Cartouche's Blog

Writing My Way Out of Something


Someplace, somewhere else, USA
February 09
Mind My Own Business
Artist, former newspaper columnist and restaurant critic. Award-winning author of "In Pursuit of Excellence". In my spare minute I can be found blogging here, on Huffington Post and other places that don't pay and (more often) writing for some places that do. Occasionally I tweet random thoughts and observations as @nonconfromist. I keep the really good ones to myself.


JULY 11, 2011 5:01PM

Six Months to Life

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Once every decade, my life undergoes some sort of major metamorphosis. This time around, things happened about a year later than usual. Boy did I make up for that delay. For the past six months, I’ve been doing a lot of this:


Which has left me little time at all to do this:


 As matter of fact, the very last piece I painted was this:



                                                          "Chef's Shoes"  36 x 24 Mixed Media

It’s a pair of two-star Michelin chef Josiah Citrin’s chef shoes.  The irony is not lost on me that while painting this piece, I ended up spending a lot of time here in his kitchen:



As a matter of fact, I spent about 33 days straight in the kitchen of Melisse Restaurant, observing, absorbing and soaking up the following:

A15      A20

















I  barely saw daylight.  Believe it or not, this left very little time to enjoy something like this:




In the midst of all this, I was presented with a life-changing opportunity that gave me two minutes to make a decision.  In less than four days I went from this:









To this:




It required some quick thinking and action. This decision brought me to  the other side of the country.  This sunny little apartment just blocks from the beach had my name written all over it:




It took me a few weeks to realize I was missing a lot of these:




As for O’Really?  She came along, but was put on a temporary leave of absence.  For those who suspect otherwise, here is proof of her existence:




She did manage to escape get out one night and do something she hadn’t done in years:




Her opponent was a very gracious sore  loser:




Back to the movies.  Life was getting extremely stressful as deadlines loomed for:




17-hour days became the norm.

I have lived, breathed, eaten and slept this project since January.  After six grueling months, it finally went from this:





To this:




Which means that next week when we sign off with the publisher, I can finally do this:




To think this journey all began with one chance meeting in the Louvre Museum in Paris back in 1987.   

“In Pursuit of Excellence” will be released in October 2011.

If somebody would have told me my first book would be a cookbook, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.  This has been the toughest, most challenging, exciting, demanding, exhausting and rewarding six months of my life. 

There were plenty of times I thought I was going to lose my mind or my cool (or both).  The moral of the story:



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First?! Yippeee! back to read now and good to see your name in my blog feed P. Really excellent.
I have to say I thought I was dreaming when I saw your name over in the feed. I have really missed you.
But WOW! WOW! WOW! Congratulations! ~r
Ha!! I made that comment before even looking at your post - prophetic, huh? I thought you were going to say you'd been taken on as an apprentice shoe painter in a Michelin restaurant but SURPRISE! - you got me!!!! congrats and all that good stuff. Well done.
Well look who the cat dragged in!? Glad to hear from you. Congratulations on your project.
(By the way, were you aware that your toes are on the wrong feet?)
A cookbook!

Maybe Rachael Ray will interview you!

Seriously, congrats.
Very proud of you, but I miss having you close. Can't wait to see your new "baby" in October!
Really, really nice toes....

Good for you and glad to see you. Sounds like you have been living life fully. Congrats...
How exciting! Congratulations! Does this mean you'll be writing here again from time to time?
Well, you warned me that you weren't going to be around, but you didn't say why. Well, yes, you did, but you weren't specific about it. A cook book? Well, why not? I suspect people will still want hard cover cook books....not wanting to get sauce on their kindles. Satya is painting again, but I am aggrieved to learn that you've moved to the left coast. We never had that second dinner. Well, we've all been busy. Gracious congratulations on breaking into the bigs.

Speaking of which I have to run off now and make dinner.
I needed that!

thankyou so much
Well you made us wait (!) but it was a wow of a reason (!!!!!!!!!). I will be buying the book the very second it is published. Thank you for coming back to this ghost town to tell those of us who love and miss you. (P.S. Do you know that your feet are backwards?)

I am proud to know you.
Thanks for sharing the news in such a fun way. Nice to share your activities again! They sound and look delicious. Wow I put my feet up too on my latest post. Cheers and have a great rest of the summer !
What a wonderfully entertaining entry to celebrate your return. Many congratuations on your book and I hope it brings the success you deserve.

Love yours (and Winston's) moral.
Glad it's almost maybe I'll get some paintypants. :-P
i don't want paintypants, just another lunch like the last one, only with more wine. can't wait to see the cookbook. huge hugs and congrats to josiah and you. squeeeeee! now you're in LA for good!
congratulations on the Cook Book
and your change of direction
it's cool to know
you are
the success story
i knew you to be
- congratulation... and welcome back!
BIG Congrats and hugs (and Boo kisses)

I'm so happy for you--way to go. BTW: I really, really, really like the chef's shoes painting.
Yea, never give up, flee into the thorn bushes, okay, but never give up!! :D

~waves~ Hi!! Welcome back from the edge!! You've missed a lot, drunken monkeys have taken over Open!! :D
Many congrats on your book.
Far out! Lots of returns this week.

How I wish I had your motivation, or dedication maybe. Connections too. There are no chance meetings though in my estimation.
Congratulations to you on the book. I know already that it's phenomenal.
Hi cartouche!
I've been wondering how you and O'Really are doing --
It all sounds pretty good : )
Your bio still says Florida, did you really pick up and move across country?? Wow!
Nice to see you here, welcome back, and congrats on the cookbook!!
can't wait to read the book, cartouche
I wondered where they hell you went. I'm relieved.
I just mentioned you in a comment today with the letters "MIA" after them. So glad to see your avatar in the feed again, so glad to know your absence was for professional reasons, and so glad to have your sparkling artistic sensibility back on these pages.
first of all.....the moving industry continues to be grateful for your never seem to move "down the block". It is great to see you happy in la la land and hopefully you will be sending us all coupons to the through? Hopefully, you will continue your own personal saga in writing.
I wondered what happened to you. Glad to hear you are out and about as they say.
Congratulations Missy!!! Such terrific news. Such welcome news, when all news seems like poisonous crappity crap. Good to see you again too!
I have missed your presence here but I am overjoyed that you have managed to publish your cookbook....congratulations!
Loved this re-entry post! Creative and fun. Good luck on the cookbook!
Fantastic story and a book to look forward to
Stopped in to look for something my brother wanted me to see and, instead, saw this first. Congrats. Loved the chef's shoes, too.
Your back!!! Both of you! How very cool all that you have accomplished while missing from here. I cannot wait to read more of your great adventure..
What a thrill. I enjoyed reading this. And those are neat dogs!
What a wonderful whirlwind to be swept away in! Congratulations!
I cannot wait to hold your culinary masterpiece in my hot little hands:) Now, Exhale.......:))
I think that sound was the blogging world righting itself after six months awry. I couldn't be happier for you. Hugs.
Congrats on all.
Congrats! Must feel so good to know it's now in production and soon to be "real" and public after all that hard work.
Hard work meets opportunity. You are a "real" writer. Thank you for this post.
Good to see you again and congratulations on the book. Those galleys look real pretty.
Congratulations cool is that? Very few people would have the self-discipline (and talent, and confidence) to pull something like this off. You inspire me.
You are the bomb ms. lady! Great to see you again. Oh, and nice feet.
You are such and inspiration!!! All that and a great pedicure too!!!
Wishing your book the success it deserves!
Glad to see you loaded photos..
congratulations on your life, your move, your book, and all the fun you are gonna have when you sign off with the publisher.
I'm SO happy to see you here and I cannot wait for your book. Welcome back. You and your talents have been missed. RRRR
Wow! I was just thinking about you this morning and wondering when you were going to be back from your project. Nice to see you! Can't wait to see the book. :)
Yay! VERY exciting news! All best wishes for every success! Hurrah!
I've been wondering where you've been. Congrats on getting there! Looking forward to seeing your book in print. And no doubt you have many stories to share about how you got from this to that. -V
I love the unique style of your post, but I hope your legs are crossed in that photo!
Congrats on your book~
It's about time you cooked us up a blog post! I can't wait to read the cookbook and I bless you for saving the lives of so many brothers who will not be poured onto lobsters after all!!!!

Gone somewhere hot yet???
it's old home week! Bout your return in such a splendid way makes me happy to the nth degree, cartoochee.
I wondered where You have been.
To hop in a swimming pond is wise.
It's the lazy-hot days of summertime.
I met an 85- year young nun yesterday.
Catholics from Natra Dame are so cool.
I may debate what Jesus film is the best.
I wonder what Jesus was thee most cool.
She was cute, petite, and prays for peace.
&= that means comment get sticky-stuck
I wondered where You have been.
To hop in a swimming pond is wise.
It's the lazy-hot days of summertime.
I met an 85- year young nun yesterday.
Catholics from Natra Dame are so cool.
I may debate what Jesus film is the best.
I wonder what Jesus was thee most cool.
She was cute, petite, and prays for peace.
Congrats. Will your book talk 'bout the chance meeting in the Louvre Museum in Paris back in 1987 ?
Aren't you just full of surprises! And living by the beach.... I am so jealousing! Congrats on your new book!!
Looks like six difficult and rewarding months--congrats!
Admirable and so very COOL! You should be proud...
Yeah, what Joan said. I thought OS was burping flashbacks in a final burst of weirdness before the ultimate cataclysm. This is a delight. Congratulations. Have you sold the movie rights yet?
Let me know about the book tour. Glad to see you.nice post too.
Thank god your toes haven't changed ;-)
The STRANGEST thing happened when I tried to sign on to OS! It stalled. And stalled. Then it stalled again. So I couldn't leave a comment...well, I'll be damned. Must be a little glitch on their end. Nah! Couldn't be them. It must be MY computer. OS certainly must have gotten their act together after 2 years of the same effin' problem, right? Right? [Okay, my sarcasm tires. She sleeps.] Patricia, I'm very proud of you. You seize life and seized an opportunity. And the layout of this blog entry was brilliant. High props. [After ten minutes of trying, I could finally leave a comment. Go OS! Ten minutes is a very reasonable load time.]
Wow! It's great to see you back on OS...and totally understandable why you've been away! Congratulations on the book, and on all these exciting changes that have taken place in your life!
Betm Mann. If you moan and groan You can bet a Sweet Onion it can even get worse. No stub toe.
I always stub thee big toe.
I agree with Nikki Stern
I pray to cosmic nudniks.
Be nice to Open S's sraff.

If Nikki married Mr Cool?
Cool as in suave Mr. Disney?
Nikki would be Nikki Disney.
I may get a new Dental Degree.
In lieu of kisses I'd tongue depressor.
In lieu of bubble gum I'd requst folks`
Say Ay, ah, and stick out your tongue?
It would be fun to use pop-cycle sticks.
They can be recycled for dental clerks.
It's fun to look at folks blue tongues.
Everybody has unique different ones.
Not only did the server not explode, it brought up the main course right away! Congratulations, Ms. Cartouche!
Wonderful pictorial. Gives hope to all who might want to publish a book some day. Thanks.
I recognize those toes, Missy. Nice work! Till later.
Cooking books is almost as bad as burning them.
Bravo and Mazel Tov! The cookbook won't be full of strikethroughs, right? heh

Very happy for you, P, especially for how happy you sound.
Wow! That's amazing news. Congratulations! When is the book due? Nice pedicure, by the way!
That's soooo wonderful! Amazing!! I've been thinking about you. Good to know you've been putting your skills to work. I can't wait to read the cookbook.
Congrats and glad to see you back cartouche. Sounds like a hell of a lot of work but good on you that you saw it through.
Well, this is a hell of a lot sexier excuse than my recent announcement. I had to stop in and welcome you back; then I see I have to send mucho congratulations! Wow!

glad to hear. i wonder what happened to u.
What a delightful way to let OS know what's going it is time to get painting again!

See you soon! Life is such a funny thing.
Late but sincere.
Congratulations! I'm envious of your move... one is coming on in my life... we'll see where it takes me... good to read your blog again!
Hope by "other" coast you are not referring to LA. Although the "beach" mentioned in a positive way (not foggy) probably means SOCAL.
Hope you enjoy your next new life in this timezone.
What fabulous news! This is well deserved. I am so happy for you.
Wonderful, exciting news! And it's always a treat to see you here (although I'm a bit lax about coming around lately, hence the reason for my belated comment.)
Late to this as with almost everything lately. But!!! How I have missed your voice! And how I love this piece!!!! If I were still teaching seniors, I would take this piece and show it to them and ask them to relate it to all and everything they think they might one day do! So late I am but so glad to hear your news. Congratulations on all of this good news!!!! So lovely to hear you voice ... here ... again ... where all of us ... can see.

How I love the way you have shared all of this and how I love your having time to dream, take chances and make your dreams come true!!!
congratulations! the whirl wind excitement of your life is a breath of fresh air - enjoy the well earned feet up time.