Monday, April 30, 2012

25 Degrees

I really felt like I wasn't going to get out and do anything at all this week because it just went by so fast.  A true blur of a week.  For real.  I sit here now and I feel like I was just sitting here typing yesterday, but it's been a whole week.  I don't know how that happens, but, man, I don't know, slow down, please, life!

Hence, it was no small blessing when my AT&T friend called me up the other day wanting to go discover some more of Hollywood with me.  So, I was super enthused, and we were all set to go to my favorite local mexican spot, The Velvet Margarita.  I haven't been there in forever and, oh, was I excited!  

But as with most plans here, going to Velvet got moved to the wayside when AT&T was running late and we just didn't really have enough time to walk all the way there and make an evening of it.  That place takes some time.  Just you wait, though, I'll let you know about that little gem soon.

So, in lieu, I decided we'd go to 25 Degrees in the Roosevelt Hotel, since it's only two blocks away.  I do love that place as well.  Not for the atmosphere so much, a small, red-boothed, dark diner where, no matter which way you look, you find yourself watching some sporting event on a large screen, but just for the delectable food.  

Although, I will say that wandering into the hotel from the restaurant is always fun.   It's good people watching there because of its happening nightlife, with two popular bars, Tropicana and Teddy's.  Those places have shown some very impressive longevity, I must say, as they're still hot spots, all these years later.  

I did spend many long hours there myself, when Hollywood was all new to me and I was just beginning to explore all that was happening here.  Though, these days, I can't help but look at the scantily clad girls going out for the night and just get all Hamlet in my head saying, "Get thee to a nunnery!"  But then I sort of smile and sigh and appreciate all of the different phases of life.  

And, once, my friend Brooke and I made a sojourn to the Roosevelt to visit the old room that our favorite astrologer, Linda Goodman, stayed in.  Everyone we spoke with thought we were completely nuts and said they'd never gotten that request before.  Most people ask to see the room that Marilyn Monroe slept in, but not us!  We were on a pilgrimage.  And we got there!  And the bellboy who brought us there was so sweet and just let us pay homage and say a few words and be all weird and laugh at ourselves with our signed copy of Star Signs in our hands while he sat by the window.  Ah, me and Brooke and our many missions. That was a memorable one.  

Well, back to the restaurant.  It's a gourmet diner, really.  At breakfast, you can build your own omelette, but with some very unique ingredients and fancy cheeses, and for dinner, you do the same, but with a burger.  The selection of toppings is pretty eclectic, which is so up my alley.  I do adore some fancy toppings.  So AT&T and I decided to get half and half fries, regular and sweet potato (!), and split a veggie burger (bless that guy's heart for branching out like that just because I can't seem to go out for a meal without sharing food from the same plate no matter who I'm with.)  

And it was delicious, as usual.  I was going to let AT&T pick the toppings at first, when we both agreed on avocado, but once he chose American cheese and ketchup from the cheese and sauce lists, I took over and we ordered it with gruyere and spicy aioli instead.  The food there always impresses me.  Especially because they serve their burgers on those really fluffy buns that are browned and crisped by butter (I imagine that's how it's done).  Um, yum.  

I was telling Bethany about the outing yesterday, and she noted all of my strange relationships with such a broad variety of people in my life.  I mean, she thinks they're strange.  All of these friendships that feel so natural to me because I've been that way my whole life.  She also pointed out that I am the only person she knows who is still friends with most of the people I've dated.  It's true.  But it just struck her.  And she doesn't get it.  Which is familiar territory for me, as my whole family's never understood how I do that either.

But here's what I think.  I think if you meet someone you get along with and you hang in there, without hoping for it to be anything in particular, but just what it is, and be your true, most honest self, every relationship will just settle into its very best spot.  Whether that means it fades away, or falls into it's own comfortable, unorthodox nook.

If you let each relationship be what it naturally is, instead of trying to make it fit into an expectation you have or something you want, and are completely yourself, rather than trying to impress someone or say the things you think they want to hear, you may just gain a really good person in your life.  There are some lovely grey areas, and I like finding them with people.  

I know one thing, really, and one thing only.  I have this one precious life.  As far as I know, it's all I've got.  And it does go by too fast, each day, each week, the years.  And I want to be there with it, discovering, the whole time.  In every way.  Connecting.  And for me, every little detail, every relationship, is fascinating.  And all of life, watching it unfold without resistance, and being there with it, well, that is truly, and perpetually, magnificent.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Yamashiro Farmer's Market

Oh, what a joy!  One of my very favorite things to do in LA has begun again!  Well, it's tied for second.  The Yamashiro Farmer's Market is back for another summer!  It cropped up two summers ago and it's been my love ever since.  It's an evening farmer's market up at Yamashiro's and it couldn't be more perfect.  Someone's absolutely genius brainchild.  God, that was a good idea!  I can't even get over it.  

It always feels to me like a gypsy caravan came through town and set up for the night.  My dream!  Only it's every week and I feel like the luckiest girl because it's right up the hill from me.  I am the luckiest girl.  There's music and wine and food and crafts and people are dancing and everyone is joyous.  The stands are lined up on a driveway that winds around the hill overlooking the whole sparkling city.  It's just the best view.  

Basically, there's one of every type of stand: arts, crafts, jewelry, food, wine, beer, fruits, vegetables, cheese, pastries, popcorn, middle eastern dips, and the trail mix stand where you seriously can try everything all night long with no shame because they're so eager to share every single little spicy peanut and lemon almond and pepita and cranberry and granola and just everything.  I do always leave bearing some sort of trail mix, so the tactic works.   

At this point, it seems that anyone who knows me has to go to that farmer's market with me at some point or another.  It's just so me.  It's like part of the required reading for my friendship.  Which makes sense.  If you're going to know me, you're going to know the things I love the best.  Lucky you.  I love some good things! 

I went to the opening night by myself, which was lovely and romantic.  I was so excited walking up there, and then, as I approached, I heard the music filtering down the hillside and smiled and was just like, welcome back, old friend.  I perused the stands, and took it all in and left with a bag full of goodies, as usual.  

Then, I took my AT&T friend up there this past week. How I love introducing it to people!  We went around tasting everything, then got some food and sat on a curb to eat and enjoy the music and conversation and the rotund hubbub of that dreamlike gypsy paradise.  

I'm so glad it's back again, but I will say, I felt some changes this year.  Some were obvious, and others, they're subtle, but noticeable to me because I've just gone there so many times.  And because I was there from the start of it.  But, it seems like, because it got so popular, they had to start placing restrictions and rules on the whole event.  Which is just what happens in time.  

The best example is that back in the good old days, the stand that served wine and beer served the big bottles of Singha, so everyone was walking around with these big bottles of beer like we were all Alice in Wonderland.  Well, AT&T and I went to get a beer, and this year, they're serving little plastic cups of tap beer.  I understand.  Someone probably dropped a bottle last summer and the broken glass seemed like too much of a liability and plastic cups are just safer and you can charge the same for less.  But I did like the old way better.  

Everyone's always making life just a little bit too tidy for my tastes.  I like it ramshackle and boundless.  That's my favorite way.

But that's just a general complaint about the world.  I will love the Yamashiro Farmer's Market still, rules and all, to the depth of me.  I'm going back this week with my usual crew, as a matter of fact.  It really is one of my favorite things to do here.  

I will admit, though, that all of the changes got me reminiscing.  There was that small window of time that I will remember fondly, when it was pure and magical and unhinged and not as restricted and not as calculated.  I do believe it's like that with a lot in life.  Like, there are glory days for everything, when an experience is unbound and free.  Before too much thought is put in to it.  Before it settles into the confines of the world.  

But if nothing changed, I just don't know if we'd be as excited to experience it all.  Because that's what drives us.  Knowing that things are not forever.  I've always felt that way.  My happiness and enthusiasm are born of my understanding that I cannot hold on to anything.  It all passes and changes.  So I enjoy and find ways to love it while I can.

Sometimes, I think I seem like an endless bundle of optimism, because so many little things excite and amaze me.  But, I will tell you right now, with conviction, it is all held up by the precious and fragile undercurrent of sorrow in life.  I am forever aware of the ceaseless changes.  I want desperately to hold on to everything tightly as exactly what I've loved it for being, but I know that I can't.  Because it is all rapidly passing and forever continuing.  So I loosen my grip.

I've always been hyper aware that I have to fluctuate and stay with the current and not resist.  Everything's moving, always, continually, ceaselessly.   

Life is the river that Heraclitus knew.  You can stay put, but you will never be in exactly the same place.  It's always changing, it's always new.  And so, the farmer's market changes, and I, as with every small push and pull of life, I will stay amazed and engaged and always find new details to fall in love with.  

Monday, April 16, 2012


I didn't have to work last Sunday, since it was Easter, which is very rare, me not having to work on Sundays, and, well, resurrection, too, I suppose.  So Brad and I decided to brave brunch together.  We had no idea where to go, or how it's done (reservations?), but we figured we'd play it by ear, and at the very least, we'd get a nice tour of fine L.A..

Well, after taking our lovely driving tour around the neighborhoods of Los Angeles, seeing line after line of people waiting to dine at all of the popular brunch spots, we figured we'd venture a different direction, to the Hasidic neighborhood.  I give us major credit for figuring that one out.  We finally landed ourselves at BLD.  It's a place I have passed and considered many times before, but never gone to because it just seemed pretty standard, by the looks of it.  Or, at least, not quirky.  And I'm always looking for quirky.

But, there was hardly any wait there, which was a good thing, but also made me suspicious at first.  However, once I looked at the menu, I was absolutely sold!  Seriously, once I saw the words "house smoked tofu bacon", I was completely on board.  Because it was by no means a vegetarian or healthy sort of place.  Thank god!  I wanted serious decadent brunch!  Still, I instantly held the chef in much higher esteem.

With that one option, I came to the conclusion that she was a conscientious and open person, my favorite kind.  Like she just truly loves the artistry of cooking and wants to find ways to get creative and cater, in some small way, to everyone, like a true host.  That's very sweet of her.  She didn't have to.  It really made me think she was cool.   Because she must have asked herself one day, how can I make something vegan and still keep my personal style? And created tofu bacon. That's awesome.  

In any case, I was, at that point, super excited to try the place.  

And it was the best breakfast!!!!  Just really different and artistic.  I ordered the Eggs Florentine and it was a fantastic little presentation.  A miniature cast iron pot (my favorite! mini! sold again! before even trying it!) with potatoes, eggs and spinach layered inside.  And a homemade english muffin on the side.  I could tell, too, because, I'm no spring chicken when it comes to making homemade english muffins.

Well, now, as much as I loved that mini cast iron pot with all of my heart, I'm not one for casserole style eating, so I pulled the different parts out and placed them side by side on my plate.  I've always liked my food components separate so that I can choose what combinations I make.  But that's just my thing about freedom and choice and variety, parlaying itself into my dining habits.  

Don't get me wrong, though, I would not have wanted the dish presented any other way!  I loved that I got to take the different elements out of a mini cast iron pot.  It really would not have been the same for me without that mini cast iron pot.  But enough about that thing (I want one!).  

Brad said that, no matter what, we just had to order a single blueberry ricotta pancake, knowing that I am generally not interested in sweets and pastries, but he was adamant.  Oh my god!  That pancake!  My palette remembers it still.  Maybe because the ricotta made it less sweet and lighter (fluffier, like it could float away) than a regular pancake.  Maybe that was the secret.  But whatever it was, we nearly devoured that whole thing along with our respective meals.  Thank you metabolism, thank you metabolism.

When we were pretty much done, it was quite amusing.  Because we sat there talking for so long, nibbling on the remaining pancake, I swear about 25 different servers came to ask us if they could clear our plates.  Seriously, it felt like a movie montage of auditions.  A choosing-the-busboy sort of montage.  So the latter portion of our time there was interrupted continually by an array of faces asking us, "May I take your plates?", "Are you done?", "Shall I clear your plates?", "Are you guys finished?", "Can I take these away?".  We stood our ground. I don't think they were in a hurry to get us out of there, because there were several free tables. I just think they were on top of it.  

Also, maybe they're just used to people being ready to flee the place immediately after their forks make their final clink upon the plate.  I did notice that when the majority of the other patrons finished their meals, that was their cue to leave.  Which to me is funny, perhaps because I grew up in the restaurant business.  And having long dinners.  That's what I love about sharing meals with good friends, the lingering.  It's not just about satiating one's hunger of the stomach, but about satisfying one's appetite for new insights and the lovely, meandering tangents of conversation and company and laughter and complex discussions and life analysis.  The long conversations after meals are usually the very best of them all.  And we just wanted to keep the option of having one more bite of that ricotta pancake while we loitered in conversation.

After that delectable brunch, Brad spontaneously took me up to a spot in Griffith Park to go for a walk.  He asked if I'd been to the bat caves, and I said no, but that I've always wanted to go.  So we walked up there, me in a dress and sandals, him in his driving shoes, while everyone we passed was in trail running gear, which is what's so sweet about spontaneity, the unplanned predicaments that make you smile.  

And when we got to the bat caves, some people were filming something, and I tried to stay positive and told Brad that it was ok, I've already seen bat caves in my life, on the North Shore of Kauai.  Well, he gave me the funniest look, but not too funny, because my friends have come to expect these comments from me.  He smiled and had to inform me that they were called the bat caves because Batman had been filmed there.  Oh, obviously.  Of course I wouldn't know that!  I come from fairy land!  That was a funny moment, and we managed to go around to the back entrance so that I could go inside anyway. So it worked out, except there were no bats.  Also no Batman. 

And when we came out of the caves, I looked up and the Hollywood sign was directly in my field of vision.  I mean, I've always seen it from far away, or right on top of it, but I've never just seen it as a huge word, like the H on the very left border of my line of direct sight and the D on the very right border.  Just that one word, right there, on the hills, and nothing else.  That was beautiful to me.  How has Hollywood so entangled itself with my heart?  How has this become my home?

In writing this, the day sounds so romantic.  But Brad and I are just the closest of friends and we really cherish how solid our friendship is, because that's not always easy between men and women, I think especially for Brad. Someone usually makes it complicated.

I guess, though, the day was romantic.  We got to soak in the romance of life and experience.  The whole day, our surroundings.  It's romantic to embrace the world and appreciate it and feel it so deeply.  These beautiful vignettes, the breeze and soft sunlight and the cool of the caves and the sweetness of old friendship and the Hollywood sign. Life is romantic.   

Leaving those hills and ending that day, I just thought to myself, can one love this world too much?  Will it think I cling to it too tightly, and just send me packing someday?  Oh, yeah, well, I guess it will.  But not from too much love.  There's no way.  Because even just in saying how much I love the world, I want to go downstairs to the park and lie in the grass and dig my toes into the dirt and look up at my old friend the mushroom tree and squint when the sun peeks through the branches and giggle and breathe and thank this place, just thank it for being what it is.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cafe Gratitude

After hearing about Cafe Gratitude from two different strangers this past month, I just had to check it out.  It was the second recommendation that really got me, because he told me that the dishes on the menu were named with affirmations, of sorts.  Each item was called something along the lines of "I am Blessed", or what have you.  Now, that really piqued my interest, because a unique concept like that must have some serious thought behind it.  

However, it could really go either way.  That sort of concept could also turn into a pretentious type of place, in it's own right, if they took themselves too seriously.  Or it could be well-executed and down to earth.  

I asked Bethany if she'd go with me and, once I explained it to her, she was just like, no way.

Needless to say, it took me a while to pull Bethany's arm enough to convince her to go just to see.  I mean, the total pragmatist, going to a place that poses itself as such an emotional place!  Yeah,  that took some convincing.  But I got her once we looked at all of the Yelp reviews.  Basically, no matter what else they had to say, every review had a very high recommendation of the food.  Especially the BLT made with coconut bacon (huh?).  Sold. 

Also, I think Bethany was especially curious to see if they could keep it real when it all came down to business.  Like, I might lavishly express my feelings to the waiter in ordering my dish and she'd just say, "ditto".  Would she get a dirty look?  So, she finally signed up, for curiosity's sake, and we got Jessica on board too, because, well, Jessica will try just about anything in the interest of fun or experience.

So off to the restaurant we went, with high hopes for something, however it panned out.  We had our expectations.  I mean, I guess we pictured it feeling rather hippie-ish (yes!) and were actually anticipating the weird affirmations, even.  Like, I think, at that point, we really wanted it to be what we thought it was supposed to be.  A bizarre and sensitive dining experience.

I wanted it to be good, I really did.  I thought we might encounter some interesting people, too, like someone wearing swami pants and maybe a turban, or at least some guys rocking beads and birkenstocks.  And I was hoping it would be a space that felt cared for and run by elevated people who really wanted to make people think and be grateful and feel blessed.  

Alas, it was not.  We walked into the place, and it just felt like any other trendy restaurant where the waitpeople are probably aspiring actors and think they're too good for their jobs, which I'm sure they are, but, I mean, it's a job.  Do it?  And the crowd was stuffy and it didn't feel like a room full of gratitude at all.  And I pictured us sitting on the floor or something and it was just normal tables and normal staff and a normal space.  

We ordered our food with little to no fanfare.  And they served it to us in the same manner.  I got the I am Extraordinary, which I tried to order dramatically, to no reaction.   We kept trying to instill some depth into it, but everything kept falling flat.  I mean, when the server set down our plates, he was just like, "I've got a you are extraordinary, you are rich, and a you are trusting, enjoy your meal."  No connection, no looking into the eyes and really meaning it.  And the food.  I ordered the much praised BLT.  Um, I didn't get why so many people loved it.  It was a coconut sandwich.  Which was not making any sense to my palette, so I stopped trying to understand it after a couple of bites.  And I tried Jessica's veggie burger and it was kind of gross.  Well, gross enough that she didn't eat it.  Bethany got the tamales, and we all gave up on our meals and shared hers.  The tamales were fine.  

It wasn't a bad experience, exactly.  I learned some things.  Like, I learned that I don't like coconut sandwiches and that a lot of Yelpers do.  And that, when in doubt, get the tamales.  Apparently, you can't really go wrong with tamales.  And I learned, too, that my friends are real troopers.  Joining me on any adventure, no matter how it turns out, and enjoying it just the same.   

So, it's hard to say whether it was a good experience or bad.  Because, like I said to my friends at the end of it all, it wasn't a waste of time, it was just a waste of money.  I got to be with my friends having the strangest meal ever.  And really disliking it, but bonding over it too.  So it was at once quality time, but a horrible time.  

Which is funny, because my AT&T friend stopped by the other night for a quick catch-up on life.  And it was right on par with my sentiments, because he told me he'd just gone to Disneyland and said that is was the worst experience.  They just waited in lines and he was angry inside about the whole situation.

And that got me thinking of the last time I went to Disneyland with my best soul-mate of a friend Brooke, back when we were having our quarter life crises.  We thought it would bring some happiness into our lives.  Because, hey, it's the happiest place on the planet.  And it was a total flop.  Yes, the lines, for one, and, also, it's just not that great after you've gone there starry eyed a hundred times as a child, as we both had.  And, well, I don't know why we were thinking that Disneyland could solve the woes of being in our mid-twenties, anyway.

But, still, it was a great time explicitly because it was the flop that it was.  And we remember it and refer to that funny outing to this very day.  Because we relished in the flop of it.  I mean, we have so many ridiculous memories because of that desperate attempt to bring happiness into our lives!  Just the whole goofy experience (pun not intended, but heck, I'm taking credit for it anyway).  It did bring us joy.  We laughed at it all while we were there, and we laugh about it to this day.  Especially about when we were on the tram and at every stop the loudspeaker said, "When exiting, please lower your head", and we added aloud, "and walk away in shame".  We use that line even still, and sort of all the time, actually.   

So, it's like, it's not the place, and it's not what's happening.  It's who you're with, or how you take it.  

I was telling AT&T about that theory, or philosophy, or whatever.  I mean, that you could do anything, and it could be the worst or the best,  and the whole experience depends on how you handle it.  You can make so much good of the bad simply by allowing it to be just what it is and reveling in for that. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hollywood Farmer's Market Round Two

So, this past week, my friend Brad called me up and said he wanted to go to the Hollywood Farmer's Market with me.  He's never been!  Well, now, do I just love nothing better than sharing the things I love with the people I love!

We met early, and cruised over there.  He was surprised by how busy it was, being so early and all.  But, farmer's markets tend to close early too, so you've just got to get there early to really be able to spend time there and get the good stuff and bask in it all.  

And bask we did.  Well, actually, I mostly basked.  Brad was feeling a slight sickness coming on, so he did not join me for all of the glorious food tastings.  I managed to taste just about everything anyone offered!  The first thing I indulged in was "the best cream cheese ever", which, I must say, was very good and I considered buying it even though I don't think I've ever bought cream cheese in my life.  The next stand that got me was a bagel stand, and I was sold when I saw the mini bagels!  It's safe to say that I have loved miniature versions of things my whole life.  So I just decided then and there to buy the mini bagels and go back and get the best cream cheese in the world and call it meant to be.  I was very excited about that little combine working out.  Like the bagels just popped up so that I had a reason to get the cream cheese.  Simple things, my dears, simple things.

Then we wandered down the long, long street of farm stands.  Vegetables and berries and honey and spices.  I assume that asparagus, artichokes and avocados are really happening right now, which is to say that they must be in season.  Those were just everywhere!  I have been wanting to make avocado toast lately so I bought three avocados and a few lemons and I still haven't made avocado toast, but it's looming.

It's one of the biggest farmer's markets I know of, which I really appreciate, because I love having choices and variety.  There are always about six different musical acts spread throughout the span of it, too.  And I was so excited that my favorite bizarre Asian guitarist was out, so that Brad could share that with me, that we had to pause and just listen for a while and appreciate the weirdness and we tipped him a dollar because he's sort of just always made me happy.  

My other favorite musical act is the jazz band.  Obviously, because I love jazz.  But we stopped and I just gazed at the snare drum and got a bit lost in memories and I told Brad that I've always had a connection with the snare drum because we had a snare drum in my home growing up and we'd play it, but when dad played it, he managed to create an entire symphony with that thing and I always admired him for his drumming talents.  He could make a symphony tapping on the counter, though, that's just the way he was.  Some angelic genius, and could make something of nothing, no matter what it was. 

I told Brad that my dad had been a big band drummer at one point in his life, and that in his early days in Aspen ended up drumming for this cabaret/dinner show.  It was actually because one night the drummer was sick and my dad was working in the kitchen and someone was asking if anyone knew how to play the drums and my dad humbly said that he sort of did, which is just so him to completely underplay his talents because he just didn't need to show off,  and then he was so good and they were completely amazed, so after that he got to drum in the show a lot.  God, how I loved hearing his stories!  

And then Brad told me that he grew up playing the drums, and I had no idea!  There's always something new to discover, even with old friends.  We keep finding out so much about each other that we didn't know even after so many years of being friends.  That's the thing about going out on unusual adventures with people.   Even if you've known them forever and feel like you really know them.  Something presents itself that just brings something else to light.  That you never expected.  And you are drawn closer.  Friendships are so lovely.  

And, at the Afghan food stand, I finally experienced my first successful bargaining!  I mean, I did it once, accidentally, buying a hat at the flea market one time.  I asked how much a hat was and the vendor told me it was $15 and I told her I just had to go get money from my friend (I didn't have enough cash) and as I walked away, she was just like, "ok, ten dollars, ten dollars!"  So basically she bargained for me because I was totally going to pay fifteen, but honestly needed to get cash.  That was a funny one.  

But my Afghani guy.  I could tell I had a shot.  He really seemed to dig me.  I asked him how much each item was and he said $6 apiece, but he'd work out anything for me.  That was a big burden, that vagary, because I had no idea what that meant or how low I could go with it or what the modus operandi was for such an offer.  So I basically just became extremely indecisive and told him I only had a ten, but wished I could get three items, but that I guess I just had to pick two, but I didn't know which two, oh, so tough, I love them all, and I lingered and lingered, and he finally said, pick two and I'll surprise you with the third.  So I got three $6 items for $10!  Amazing!  And while I was deliberating, I watched him charge many people $6 for each item.  So I was rather proud.  We learn the ways of the world.  We most certainly do.  If we practice and pay attention and keep on being good. 

I also played the lottery last week, with all of my other countrymen.  And, because I never play the lottery, it all got me thinking.  Maybe it wouldn't be good to win that much.  Because, in trying to make it out in the world, I seem to be granted the best lessons, the most lessons.  Trying to figure life out sometimes seems like the whole point.  Like, if you had it all, you might just lose the drive to understand it.  

I don't know if I would go to the farmer's market and learn new things about an old friend and discover that I can, in fact, bargain and be proud of myself for doing so and connect so much with the Afghani kid who just seemed to adore my presence if I knew I could just simply throw down six bucks a million times over.

And I'm happy to say, I did, in fact, win the lottery.  When I cashed in my ticket, I won $7!  That's $7 given to me to continue living this life of mine.  And to keep going, and enjoy all the gifts of this beautiful, beautiful world.