Friday, September 21, 2012


The business trip to Philadelphia was quite lively.  There's too much, really, to tell, but leaving LA and the rainstorm and the early mornings in the city were the parts I liked the best.

First, I started off with an unexpected vow to myself as I was boarding the plane.  It was inspired by this woman a couple of people ahead of me who was complaining to her husband a few people behind me.  She was just obnoxious and what she was saying is of no import except that it went something like this, "Profanity profanity expletive profanity pejorative expletive."  It was not pleasant.  And I turned to my friend behind me and we were both actually laughing because there is just no reason to be that way ever.  Especially when traveling because, as far as I know, that is when you should be the most prepared for things not to go as planned.  It's almost guaranteed.  And I, for one, find that to be part of the whole joy of traveling.  In any case, I was amused that someone could really be taking it that seriously and proclaimed, quietly, but aloud, "I promise I will never be that way."  So that was settled.

One of the most breathtaking parts of the whole journey was actually leaving LA.  It was sunrise and there was LA below me in its sea of pink.  And there was the ocean, golden and quiet, but brewing.  And there were the mountains in their bright bronze and iridescent glow.  And there was my LA far below, strange home that I never would have envisioned.  And there I felt in my heart a sigh, recalling the journey that led me to that vast place.

During the flight, we hit an extreme bout of turbulence when we were over Colorado, which I was happy about on one level because I would not have known that we were passing over Colorado otherwise.  It happened while I was learning, thanks to the free seat-back magazine, that Port is traditionally pressed by bare feet.  And that the grapes are better macerated when the treaders are dancing.  They're even accompanied by musicians! So making Port becomes a small party.  

So, there I was picturing some old Portuguese villa when the guy sitting behind me got up to stand in the aisle.  I looked over and, the strangest thing, there stood a true and proper friar.  I could be wrong, but I think that's what he was.  And it seemed like he had just stepped out of my old world Portugal vision.  Standing there in the full regalia.  The black draping robe, rosaries hanging from the rope belt slung low at his waist.  I felt like I needed to hail Mary or something.  Hustle and save my own soul really fast.  But I didn't.  I think I'm doing all right.

I can say, however, that when we hit even more extreme turbulence upon our approach to Philadelphia, probably the longest and most severe I've ever experienced, in that moment, surprising even to me, I was comforted by the presence of a holy man at my back.

It was grey and cold when we arrived in Philadelphia, but I was excited for that too, for the gloomy weather, for Philadelphia itself, but also for other things.  Three days on the turf of the founding fathers, the Radisson, expense reports.  Things of that nature.

When we finally settled in, some of my coworkers and I decided to explore a little bit.  We made our way to an Irish pub on that fine evening and about halfway through our pints, it started to rain this insane doomsday rain and we all ran outside and got drenched because that's just not something you get in LA.  Oh, it was amazing, too!  Sheets of warm rain being hurled by the wind off the sides of the buildings.  It took us about one minute to get soaked and we were all laughing and smiling and it really might have been my favorite part of the whole trip.

That and waking up early to go explore the city by myself.  I loved that, too.  Walking around in the chill of the morning with my warm coffee in an old city.  Watching the old brick buildings welcome the sun as it crawled from their rooftops down their sides to the streets.  Those mornings were good for me.  Quiet, pensive interruptions to the long days of meetings.  Which were good too.  It was all just really good.

And then it was all over and I was on the plane again, approaching LA.  No complaining wives, thank god.  But no friars, either, God be with him.  Just me and my happiness. About returning to a place that I have grown to love so much.  But more about being in the world.  And about everything I have done and everything else I get to do.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Again, Hollywood Bowl

I went to the Hollywood Bowl again this last week and, this time, well, this was the show of the summer for me.  That's kind of what I'd been waiting for.  It was my ultimate Bowl-going that I know and love.  Where everything falls into place and it's somehow spontaneously perfect. 

I always kind of wait until the last minute to invite someone to any given show throughout the summer.  This time, my friend Maddy was my date.  We used to work together, and I remembered her saying that she wanted to go to this show back when I bought my tickets.  So she was stoked for the invite.  And it magically turned out that our friend Marcos and his boyfriend were able to scrounge up tickets as well.  So the crew was assembled.

Obviously, we didn't have tickets anywhere near each other.  But the Bowl is my turf, so I told them to stick with me and all would be well.  I did what I always do, which is never sit in the seats I purchased, which is pretty much what every Bowl veteran does unless you have box seats, which is part of the charm of the Hollywood Bowl that has stayed intact over the years.  Which makes me happy, because, as you know, I like life a little bit more free and haphazard than the next guy.

So I led our group toward the perfect little cluster of seats.  The trick is picking out the right row.  Because you have to know it won't fill up with late-comers.  And, more than that, you have to pick the right section so that if you do get kicked out, you can easily act like you accidentally sat in the row right behind yours and casually move up.  

I'm quite proud of my acumen at it.  There was definitely a learning curve.   Once, years ago, I ended up sitting in no seats and having to stand by the bushes in the aisles.  I've got my formula now, though, or some Bowl intuition gained over the years.  

As for the show itself, it was amazing.  I brought sangria and gouda and Marcos brought two other delectable cheeses that I must ask him about and a variety of crackers and we were all very pleased with the piquant picnic combination.  Delicious and simple.  The night was glorious.  Our favorite act, hands down, was Passion Pit.  The music filled the sky with that Hollywood Bowl majesty that compares to nothing.  

For me, it gets me every time at the right show there, that whole sky, filled with music, holds me and surrounds me and any worries completely disappear and I know how good life is to me and I smile with gratitude.  

And I couldn't have asked for better company.  Because it felt like we were all appreciating it just as much.  And we were carefree and happy.

I thought of something again too.  I've noticed that as I get older I seem to gather younger friends, and only every so often realize it, like that night.   But I guess it's because we tend to attract people with a similar outlook and perspective on life more than just people of the same age.  Or somehow there's just a connection.  I mean, it really doesn't matter how many years you've lived here or not to me, but how you're living here.  

I know I've always had the mystified child's outlook, though, even more than my younger friends, who are already being trained to take life too seriously.  And I'm idealistic to the core of me.  Most people tend to drift from that and buckle down in the world as adults.  But my wonder remains.  

I think people might forget, but what we were we ever are.  Remember, we are all just a child, too.  Some just seem to abandon the child they were and some, I guess, like me, keep it right there with the rest of who they've become.

Anyway, I've never had this big plot construed about becoming an adult, but only a plot to watch the bright days unfold and experience it as it comes and be just me and hopefully gain some wisdom to extol and engage with it all as much as possible.  I'd rather do that than have a plan that doesn't work out.  

Like this woman I often encounter in Brentwood when I'm on my lunch break.  She's always just enjoyed talking to me and the other day she was grumbling about how hard it is to be in her 50s and divorced and I was just thinking that the only reason that was hard is that she never found her happiness alone.  But all I said was that I don't think life was meant to be easy anyway and that knowing that can allow us to just experience this crazy place for all that it is.  She seemed to take that to heart.  At least, she repeated it out loud to herself before we parted, in any case. There's a child in her too.

Ultimately, to me, your life is its days.  So it's the days that matter.  Which is why I love when I have one that is so full and complete, like that one that ended at the Hollywood Bowl with my sweet friends and the music holding me on the hillside.

Alas, I have no more time to ponder on this fine day, for I must go and prepare for a business trip with adult people. What fun for this child heart of mine!  I'm looking upon that prospect with sparkles in my eyes too, because, I mean, it's very serious, and that amuses me to no end.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I swung by my old place of employ the other day, just to pick up Bethany for lunch, but I got there a little early and, begrudgingly, decided to go inside.  Nothing like a visit to the past, I suppose, to show you where you are.  

It was a mixture of feelings being in there.  I mean, on the one hand, it felt so familiar still.  After having spent so many years there, I suppose it would.  It was like revisiting an old school or apartment and sort of thinking, hello, old chap, you haven't changed a bit.  And realizing that I have.  Leaps and bounds in such a short time.  Quintessentially, I guess I'm pretty much the same girl that graced that old room, but in some very minute, but dare I say, profound, ways, I am quite changed.  And I am ever thankful for that.

On the other hand, I felt so far removed from that place.  Like it was another lifetime.  And I had one moment of dread when I thought, "What if the last three months have been a dream and I really still work here?"  And for a second, I seriously felt like it could be true and panicked.  That was a weird moment.

There were some new people and a few old familiars, which was comforting.  All excited to see me and hear about my new life.  Oh, and how good it felt to have so much to tell and to be so genuinely happy about it!  And somewhere in the back of my mind or heart or wherever, while I was talking, I suddenly knew something.  I went in there for a reason.  I needed that visit to show me how far I've come and how much I've learned and how good it feels to be just where I am in life and that however overwhelming it's been at times it's only getting better and better and I wouldn't go back to my life before for the world.  It was good to solidify that.  There was some real joy in that unforeseen confirmation. 

So it was an unexpected and truly happy visit for me.  When I left, they told me that they miss their sunshine.  Which is the best thing I could ever ask for, to be thought of as sunshine.  I always had this thought, actually, that I want to greet people like the sunrise and leave them like the sunset.  And yes, I get poetic with my life in my thoughts, but I've always been that way.

But really, I do want that.  I want for everyone I encounter to feel warmed and welcomed and illuminated and awake and aware and then, when I walk away, to feel whatever it is you feel when you watch the sunset.  And I know everyone feels something when they watch the sunset, pretty deeply, you can tell when you watch people watching the sunset.  

I'm sure it's a different feeling for everyone, of course, but to me it's the beautiful sweet sorrow of life and also the wonder of the day that has been and of the magic of creation and thankful for what was and of the day that is to come and of how much we don't know but how crazy and strange it is to say good bye to a day and know that it is forever gone and then know too that there is another one to welcome and we don't know what it will bring and time just keeps passing and you can't even pause it for one second but it is just so amazing to be here at all even though it's sad too.  

In any case, after my poignant life moment, Bethany and I went to lunch at the Fat Dog, which was one of our old favorites to go to on our lunch breaks together.  That is something I miss.  Lunches with Bethany.  However, not enough to wish for what was.  I know now, with certainty, that I am meant to shine my light on new horizons.  

And for that I remain, life, your humble student.  Thank you for always finding creative ways of speaking to me.  Truly.  I thank you.