TARA SHAW AND BROTHER LUCCA AT HER NEW ORLEANS WAREHOUSE. PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRENDA COFFEE ©1010PARKPLACE, 2018
For the last 25 years antique importer and designer, Tara Shaw, has walked through one open door after another. She calls it her spiritual journey. When a book agent told Tara, ‘I know you have a book in you,’ Tara said, “I sure do. I’ve been working on it since 2004.” Instead of sending the agent a book about design, Tara sent the memoir she’d been working on, The Coat Your Father Gave You. “I feel each person has a coat from God,” Tara said. “It’s very unique. Authentic. We listen to our heart, and it’s our calling. We go through the doors. That book was my spiritual stories from 20-something years of traveling in Europe and working in China and India.”
When her agent told Tara she didn’t want an Eat, Pray, Love book, Tara wrote the design book. It will be finished in 2019 and published by Abrams in 2020.
PHOTOGRAPHY ©BRENDA COFFEE, 1010PARKPLACE, LLC, 2018
The best thing about New Orleans isn’t the food, although it is fabulous, or the live music on the street. It is the people, most notably the women I met this week.
Would you believe I went to New Orleans to have lunch with women I know from Instagram?
When I was in my 20’s, a hand lettered sign on the checkout desk of an Austin, Texas, motel made a big impression on me. It’s always cracked me up, but now when I think about it, the words on the sign are as telling about the people who stayed there as they are about the owners.
NO CHECKS, NO DANCE BANDS, NO UNMARRIED COUPLES
ME AND MY FIRST HUSBAND ON A TRAIN IN SWITZERLAND. I WAS 22.
So many of you have left comments on my blog, Instagram and Facebook and even sent me emails, telling me how much you like my writing and urging me to write my story… a memoir. Thank you, sweet friends, for supporting what are sometimes difficult things to write, but that’s what I do. I’m a writer, and our stories are not always pretty. While I haven’t decided whether writing a book is something I want to do, you’ve made me think about it. In the meantime I found a piece I wrote 20 years ago for a writer’s workshop. The assignment was to write the first page of your memoir. For your consideration… xoxox, Brenda
I’ve often wondered if he liked to possess me just as some men like to own fast cars. “This week she landed on an aircraft carrier, cooked a gourmet dinner for 12 and won a race at Texas World Speedway.”
I was fast and sleek and hung my ass out over the edge. A risk taker. A reflection of him.
I’ve been chased out of two stores—on two different continents—by store owners, wielding meat cleavers. The first time was in San Francisco’s Chinatown when the owner nodded at my camera and screamed, “Not in store! Not in store!” then proceeded to run out from behind the counter and chase me down Stockton Street.
From what I could surmise, I’d insulted the dignity of a row of headless ducks in the window.
We all need competent, compassionate doctors who listen and then give us thoughtful answers and next steps. Most doctors are great about writing down complicated medical terms or drawing diagrams of things like the hypothalamus, although we’ve all had doctors who, at the very least, were arrogant jerks.
Like the doctor who, before introducing himself, slipped my x-ray into the light box and said, “This will probably result in the amputation of your right foot.”
PEOPLE MET HIM FOR A SECOND, AND YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE HIS BEST FRIEND. HE HAD THAT EFFECT ON EVERYBODY.
If you read my Fashion Friday post last month about the delightful Carol Dietz then you know how fun and fabulous she is, and she’s Diane Keaton’s doppelgänger. As former Art Director for the New York Times, Carol worked with the late Bill Cunningham, legendary photographer and eccentric chronicler of street style fashion, on his “On the Street” and “Evening Hours” columns. As Carol told me, “Bill was a mentor, a father, an uncle… He was everything.”
Carol Dietz and Bill Cunningham… I can only imagine what these two originals were like, together.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JENNIFER DENTON, ©1010PARKPLACE
There’s only so long you can complain about an issue without doing something about it. For several years I’ve been bemoaning the ever-widening landing strips on my scalp. My hair’s so thin, even the invisible man couldn’t hide in there. When I point out the vast shiny spots, my girlfriends put on their sunglasses to block the glare and say, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Your hair looks great.”
I finally decided to take my thin, receding hairline by the roots and find a solution.
Fear dictates our feelings about a great many things, especially death and dying. Death is something we try to outrun our entire lives, but because we don’t keep our end time in sight, many of us don’t live our best lives.
I’ve already realized my biggest fears—my two husbands died and I’ve had cancer—so death holds no fear for me.
PHOTOGRAPH ©BRENDA COFFEE, 2018
Over margaritas and quesadillas my girlfriends and I reflected on some of the difficult times in our lives. Referring to a particularly stressful time one of my friends matter-of-factly stated she’d “lost her glue,” to which I replied, “I can identify. My glue died,” referring to my husband, James. While our individual stories prompt serious conversation, the real question for all of us—at one time or another—is how do we change what’s not working in our lives?
How do we get our mojo back? More importantly, how do we become our own glue?