Never Grow Old

It is quite true the axiom that no one could avoid, and that is of course about growing old—a constant, befuddling challenge after another Christmas holiday that at times renders us ageless until January rolls around for a reality check.

Closest model I could find of Tony’s car
I am reminded of Tony, an elderly portly fellow I met ten post-Christmases ago when I was returning a Zipcar. He was emerging from his 1983 Mercedes-Benz coupe and required a hand since the car was built low to the ground. I was at first wary of being drawn into such circumstances with a stranger, especially during the holidays in San Francisco. So I compromised and half-heartedly held out my hand for him to grasp, while giving myself enough space between us, should I need to let go and escape.
We started chatting once we were on level ground, and as we dove deeper into conversation he decided he was selling his impeccably maintained car that survived only one major accident (maybe it’s more like averted), being smacked in the middle of its windshield by flying rebar. Not exactly a muscle car, it is built like a tank. While it seemed like a snap decision, perhaps in his storytelling it was a natural conclusion. I told him I would think on it, but his parting words were “Rachelle, just never grow old.”
I passed on the car and never saw Tony again, but he gave me that impossible truism that nags me into the twilight of another decade. What does it mean, and how does it look like?


UZAD1166 Adjusting to a new job no question takes time. Be that as it may, I am mindful of what I already have in my career and lucky enough to have two I could call mentors from journalism to contracts management. Jason, a former contracts manager at Interior Architects, imparted knowledge and the path forward to leverage in my current career. Rene was my first and only editor in journalism, who taught me to be a better writer. They are both highly-skilled, invariably men in their positions.

The women whom I can say are my mentors are really my peers, which speaks more to the lack of them at a higher level. And those in positions of power, I have observed, are merely surviving, dare I say scheming (although they may call it succeeding), in a stratosphere of male culture that rebuffs equally qualified women who would otherwise be at the table but refuse to play the game in a man’s world.

This month I was honored to have met as well as delight in the gastronomic offerings of Chef Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Restaurant and “Top Chef” fame. She put together a meal featuring her soul food menu for the Macy’s Culinary Council during its Spring Flower Show. Her ability to transcend norms and create more of a life than simply a career resonates with me, and I peppered her with questions in exchanges during her cooking demo as we tucked into her dishes and imbibed in wine and spirit.

I identify with her eclectic background, having also grown up and educated in the East before moving west. She said she loves being her own boss, an entrepreneur who is also interested in empowering her community in the Bay Area and globally. She has a degree in Russian language and literature that later led to being a U.S. culinary ambassador to Kazakhstan for the Third Annual Culinary Diplomacy program in 2015.  While current public discourse has become polarizing, she said, food is instrumental in opening up dialogue and discovering commonalities when sharing a meal.

It’s comforting to know a role model like her exists when I am less than satisfied with how my career is progressing. She reminds me I have more agency over my life than I can imagine, and it keeps my eyes locked on the prize.

At Last

Michael and Hope Steadman: Bend but never break.

There’s a scene in the series finale of “thirtysomething,” one of my touchstone TV shows growing up, with tortured yuppie family man Michael Steadman, upon quitting his stressful corporate job, flinging the windows of his unfinished breakfast nook wide open to let the air in and an evening breeze brush up against his relieved face. It spells a burden being lifted from his shoulders and most of all freedom.

Liberation is a strange yet wonderful thing, especially when feeling chained by circumstances that can no longer be sustained. It eluded me until now with some unexpected yet welcomed time off. I was thinking “transactionally” for so long, and now I’m returning to being human again. Living in this society, I try to balance both. But my true nature wins out. To paraphrase a biblical verse, what good is a person who gains the world but loses her soul?

The Spy Who Loved Me

With these two on screen, sparks and intrigue undeniably fly. (Credit: the Everett Collection)

One of my favorite movies is Alfred Hitchcock’s “Notorious” about a woman who is recruited by the U.S. government to infiltrate a ring of Nazi sympathizers in South America after the war. But it is also a twisty love story between the broken yet alluring Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman) and her dark, cool handler Devlin (Cary Grant). It’s the chemistry between the two leads that ignites the sparks that fly with the suspense exponentially. Without it, there would be no incident in the wine cellar or the impetus to dispose of another victim of a fringe remnant of the Third Reich.
Interestingly enough, I waxed poetic about another movie here.  “The Lake House” alluded to “Notorious” in its own narrative—a movie within a movie—to draw a comparison of two people who come together not only due to physical attraction, but also the gravitational pull toward one another as equals. It’s this force that drives romances and jumpstarts relationships. But it’s not the only thing to hang their hats.
I’ve said before, I’ve learned love has to insinuate itself into a relationship, or else it is a nonstarter. I’m probably not the poster girl for such a sentiment or truism, but I am moving toward it. For any relationship to exist, as a famous Beatle is quoted many times, love is the answer.

She Kicks Butt


My One and Only Alias: No problem too immense or obstacle too insurmountable.

I rocked out Sydney Bristow again this Halloween, perhaps my final appearance ever as the super-duper CIA operative who was brought to the small screen by the now-famous Jennifer Garner in the top show “Alias.”

Just like so many things in life, I learn vicariously through fictional characters.  It’s fun and in some ways safe, avoiding undesirable feelings that may throw a curve that I wouldn’t be able to handle.  But more often than not these past few years, I’ve had to deal with some unexpected and at times aggravating things, which are really par for the course.  Thanks to lessons learned, experience, family support, sound spiritual counseling and sheer  imagination, I was able to shirk them aside and move forward.

I still find myself channeling my inner Sydney Bristow, although “Alias” (which also starred little known at the time Bradley Cooper) has long ended,  when I require a big push out of a problem or a weird funk.  It is as if to say if I must confront some inconvenient truths, then she couldn’t have come at a more opportune hour.

Monuments Men

Two of My Favorite Guys: Bill and Charlie

Two of My Favorite Guys: Bill and Charlie

I seem to reference funny men in my blog, but one in particular holds a rather special place in my heart.  Who would’ve thought I would be saying this about the man who was Dr.  Peter Venkman in “Ghostbusters,”  Tripper in “Meatballs” or John Winger in “Stripes,” but it makes perfect ironic sense.

It wasn’t, however, when actor Bill Murray played Bob Harris in Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation,” which would become one of my all-time favorite films, that he gained a foothold in my consciousness.  “Mr. Harris,” as my friend Salli and I would simply call him, is the older, well-intentioned man who, I believe, teaches young-ish, smart adult women what love is and, most importantly, the twists and turns we should expect from life.  It’s okay not to know everything and especially to stand in one’s own truth, particularly in a relationship.

But Mr. Murray, not only Mr. Harris, is mindful of these things, among others, as he framed them in an hour-long chat with supreme interviewer Charlie Rose.  While it’s said a woman’s first male role model is typically her father, my penchant for men of a certain age is more indicative of how I learned to accept that daddy sometimes does know best.  He has my own interests at heart, despite intuiting it in ways I didn’t completely understand at the time.