Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Little Dances

I misheard a quote the other day as "You agree to die to live" and it just struck me, like, significant business.  Suddenly, all that I really deeply feel about this life came to me in those words.  I've always said that no matter how hard this is, I would never trade it in for anything else.  If I'd had the choice, before living here as this person in this world having to go through this life, I'd choose it.  Even if I knew that I would never really know anything and just have to live and keep going and persevere because it just seems like you've got to.  Even if I'd been told how rough it is at times and how there's no manual whatsoever and so many systems seem ridiculous and how you just get flung into this place and there's no established goal and it's all pretty bizarre and heart breaking mostly, even the most beautiful things.  I'd do it.  Because, well, you agree to die to live, and in that idea, somewhere, is something I love…I get to be here.  I get this.  I get to wake up and feel sleepy and feel the cool cloudy day outside in the early mornings and make coffee and drive to work and even hate the drive and wonder about things.  I get to hold the hand of my lover on the sidewalks and giggle and cry and burn toast and miss things.  

And I don't know if this is the first place or the last place or the only place, but as far as I really know and can prove, it is the only one, and in that, well, in that, everything is kind of amazing and worth feeling and existing in.  And it's weird and sad and so much confusing and somehow always touching.  And I am grateful.  Because there will always be those little moments, just waiting.  

Like my whole childhood. Like dragging sleeping bags across the dirt road to camp out in the trees with my sister and watching meteor showers and running around in the garden of tulips and watching my dad mow the lawn that was a whole hillside and he made patterns and art out there, just for fun, and just because it was him. 

And coming home to Z and we always do little dances together, because we're just happy to see each other and probably also because we're pretty impressed we made it this far at all here in this world and we're still going and for some reason we still know everything's going to be all right even though neither one of us has any clue at all how we're supposed to do any of this.  

That's reason for a little celebration.  Just a small jig of joy.  Blessed are those who do little dances from time to time.

And we made carrot cake and Thanksgiving in August, just because.  And went to the Hollywood Bowl to see Lyle Lovett and Willie Nelson and then, also, we just have the most fun when we're washing the car, spraying each other and smiling. There are so many things, there are so many parts that I love so much, and everything that's hard.  I kind of love that too, in a way, because it means I'm here.  

Monday, July 22, 2013


Lately, just, everyone seems so mad and sad.  When I'm driving to work.  I see so much.  Every corner of every light, there's someone with a sign asking for money and help.  And then the rest of the way it's just honking and swearing and shaking of fists.  And that's hard for me.  All of it.  Because I just kind of wake up and am in love with the world for no particular reason except for that there are clouds in the sky and I can feel and laugh and, I mean, even get sad, I guess.  I don't know how it goes.  And I don't know what I'm doing either, ultimately.  I don't know.  But trying to be here.  In the best way that I can. 

Because I know it wasn't what we expected it to be.  But, I just wonder, why did we expect it to be any way at all? That's what I wonder.

This world is kind of pretty crazy most of the time.  To live in and to decipher.  I don't know.  

Well, and so I stick to the small parts of it.  Cling, sort of.  Because I don't know how else to do it.  So I stick to the clouds, and to the laughter.  

And there was the most amazing day when Zooey and I went to Pink's for hot dogs.  Well, now that's certainly something you're supposed to do when you live in LA.  And it's kind of amazing in it's own little way.  Standing in that line at Melrose and La Brea, with everyone else.  No one seems to be thinking about the bigger stuff.  Which, thank god, is so nice.  Those are kind of the best moments.  When we stop thinking about all of this craziness and just go and get hot dogs.  

That was a really nice day.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Intrepid Angeleno

Well, thank god I just went up to the Hollywood Bowl to get my tickets for the season!  I'm feeling inspired.  I've been absent from writing for too long now.  And it hasn't been for lack of words or thoughts or adventures, but I think just for lack of routine.  Being without a job for so many moons can really disrupt the structure of the day to day.  But, alas, I'm employed again, happily so, but that's an adjustment too.  

Funny life.  I had forgotten how it feels to work every day and learn the lives of new people and introduce who I am and sometimes get anxiety in the mornings and other times just want to break down and cry because I mostly don't understand the world too much and then sometimes feel so very blessed to have gotten the one job I actually wanted and come home and feel like I'm really doing this all right in my own sensitive and loving way.  And, for the most part, what I've been thinking about is how this very life of mine is like one of those choose your own adventure books that are most certainly not around any more, only I can't go back and try all of the different options like I used to when I was young and just reading.  Sigh.

But this morning!  It was the rainstorm of the century and, oh, is there nothing more beautiful to me than a good solid rainstorm!  Knowing the delicate disposition of my comrades here in LA, I decided it would probably be the perfect day to walk up to the Hollywood Bowl and procure my tickets without having to wait in line.  So, with boots on and umbrella in hand I ventured up to the box office.  And the only things I was worried about were getting splashed by cars driving through the puddles and getting smashed by a hydroplaning vehicle.  Other than that, I was humming "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" just about the whole walk there.  

Then, there, reunited with my happy place, in the rain, I just felt good.  No line, as speculated, and at the box office I did what I have now realized is my annual goofball routine because I just get so excited and giddy and am kind of jumping for joy and clapping as the tickets are being secured for none other than yours truly and that person on the other side of the window tends to be quite amused.  And this time, I think that person was really quite amused and appreciated my enthusiasm and told me I came on a great day because most Angelenos are not so intrepid when it rains and I said, "Well, mister, this Angeleno is intrepid when just about anything."  And when all was said and done, he handed me two vouchers, because I braved the rain, for two free tickets to certain other shows (which is four free tickets!) and I was clapping and jumping for joy again.  

On the walk back, I was just about the happiest girl ever.  And I thought of my life.  And the paths I choose, and those I don't but get flung down anyhow.  You kinda gotta be intrepid. 

I breathed in the rain and I felt lucky, for everything.  

I felt lucky that I got a break from working for four whole months, because I never would have chosen that path, and it was a true gift in so many ways.  I got to dig in to the city and in to life even more.  I learned to love Rothko with darling Zooey and explored this bookstore downtown called The Last Bookstore that is just filled to the brim and thankfully exists and we spent a long afternoon at El Cid with family and friends on the hidden patio in the sunshine and there were game nights and the Yamashiro farmer's market started up again and there have been days doing absolutely nothing and a lot of contemplation and reading and cooking and I am just thankful, I guess.  By what grace was I given that time?  

I do not know how this works.  That's something I do know.  And I know that I love it.  For all its confusion, I love it.  The worries and heartbreak and giddy ticket window dances and the rain and all of the mundane moments that somehow feel so holy sometimes, just for being.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hollywood Boulevard

What a funny day, the other day, with Bethany.  We decided that we were due for an afternoon together over here in Hollywood.  Pop into a few stores, go to L'Oteria happy hour, just chill for the afternoon together.  Oh, whoops!  We forgot it was Saturday.  What a mess!

I'm pretty used to Hollywood by now.  Eight years will definitely toughen your skin. There's always bound to be some sort of mayhem or other, but, I can safely deduce, there's more on weekends.  I realized that day that no matter how long I've been here, there is nothing that can quite prepare you for a foray into Hollywood being Hollywood, blazing and baring itself in all of its scuzzy glory.

First, we were walking down the block toward Hollywood Boulevard and I saw that the streets were blocked off by a bunch of cops and it was really loud and there was a huge mass off people in the distance walking down the street and I saw flags in the air or something (a marching band?) and I said to Bethany, "No way, it's a parade!"  Which I was pretty excited about.  I figured this was our lucky day.  What are the chances we'd just stumble on a parade at random?  

None, apparently.

Yeah.  It wasn't a parade at all.  It was a really loud march with signage and megaphones protesting against the abuse of women.  Which is all well and good, but, no parade.  

So, we pushed our way through the crowd and noise, crazy stuttered needing pulse of Hollywood, just trying to get into the safe enclave of a store.  When we finally made it through the doors and I was about to jump up and down in relief that we'd arrived in the holy land of peace I calmed down for a second and took stock of where we stood and it was not peaceful, it was amongst a mob of shoppers and clothes sprawling everywhere, not even in the places they were supposed to be at all, just flung like a bachelor's laundry all around us, and the music was so loud we could hardly hear each other. 

Which was funny too, actually, because from the outset of our journey we had been trying to catch up and we had all of these great things to share with each other and thoughts and deep insights as usual and what we've been up to since the last time we hung out and we were just laughing at every turn because I'd try to talk, "So I was thinking…", and she'd just be like, "What?", and then she'd make an attempt, "You know, it makes sense that…", and I'd be like, "What?", and then I'd try again, "I finally figured out…", "What?", and then we'd just laugh and laugh but, still, by the time we had made one lap of the store and gotten nowhere whatsoever with our conversation or anything at all, we were both clearly over it and a bit frazzled and I just looked at her and said, "L'Oteria, now!"

So, she didn't hear me, but she read my mouth. 

We clutched each other for comfort and bolted from that store and began the obstacle course that was Hollywood that day.  We were both teetering between laughing and overwhelmed and annoyed and amused and ready to pull out our best self defense moves.  Then, a few blocks later, someone was acting/was super crazy in the middle of the street, and about a million cop cars and cops were surrounding him and a huge crowd was assembled and Bethany nodded toward the crazy guy and said to me, "You wanna go say hi to your friend?"  That was a good one, because she knows me.  I flee just as fast as my little legs can carry me from any sort of confrontation, or crazy, or cop.  So I gave her the look, but, still, we laughed some more because that was pretty funny to come up with that when we could hardly even think and finally, I mean, by the skin of our teeth, I swear, we made it to L'Oteria.

Blessed sanctuary.  By now that is such a regular spot for me that I am finally recognized there and it's a very comforting place.  I take the same seats, always, so that we can watch the person making the tortillas and griddle cheese.  And also, they recently started offering a happy hour, so we can just relax and it's not busy and, well, appetizers and drinks are half price, so it's kind of the ideal time to go.  And we got our moment to share stories after all, by the grill, under that extremely massive piƱata, figuring out the details of our lives, like we always do.  The only thing it seems we kind of have any control over.

Then, on the way back home, oh man, you should've seen us!  It was like we were walking with bayonets and machetes fighting off everything that came our way.  The guy sitting on a carpet trying to sell us flowers made from palm fronds, the guys asking us to take tours every few yards, bands and bums and peddlers.  Just a barrage of pandemonium for blocks.

The last and final onslaught before we were out of the mob was a guy on a podium with a loudspeaker saying, "…so, embrace God and God will embrace you...(silence…silence)…soooooo…(silence)…" and we just started laughing again and I was like, "Nice oration skills." 

When I came back home, though, I felt so happy.  In a way, to the core of me.  I walked into my apartment and instantly decompressed when the breeze came through the windows and all of that craziness fell away and I felt blessed to have L'Oteria and Bethany and to have made my way into the heart of somewhere so weird in my life at all and to really have seen so much and learned so much and figured out how to take it on with composure and to love it still, just for being what it is.  Even if I don't understand much any of it.

Then again, I'm not really trying to figure it out but just trying to live it as it is.  There's something in that for me that I actually do understand.  Like traveling, but through the whole world, through the whole of whatever life is.  Taking it all as it comes and trying to flex with it and remain upright and curious and somehow to really enjoy it in whatever ways I can that make sense to me.  Usually laughing.

And also, when I came home, the whole apartment smelled of jasmine because there's a huge jasmine tree across the street and every year it blossoms bright white and pastel pink and fills every inch of the air on these few blocks with the most fragrant beautiful scent. So I just stood in my apartment and breathed in the jasmine room and the cool air coming in off the hill and the birds chirping spring and thought of this battle that is life.

Here's what we do. We're on this planet and we invent things, we create things, we feel things, we respond, we try, we rebel, we have protests, we find ways to get through it.  And express ourselves.  However that may be.  All of that commotion out there on that street is just people trying to get through this life in this world that doesn't make much sense and, honestly, is really difficult.  It's a battle for everyone.  

Which is what makes me feel so lucky when I pull up a stool in my same spot at the counter of one of my favorite restaurants with one of my best friends after fighting off the world's angst like champions, blessed to find respite in a Mexican restaurant and talking and old friendship and laughing, and then come back to the little home I've created to find that the air is filled with the sweet scent of jasmine. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Malo, and Space too

Oh, Malo Malo Malo!  Thank the lord I found ye!  I don't know why it took me so long either, because after my very favorite restaurant Cobras and Matadors closed, I was absolutely intent on checking it out since it's the same owners, but for some reason it just didn't happen until one fated night.  

Zooey was in town again, thank the lucky stars, and when we were invited out to dinner there, I was basically jumping for joy.  

I do that sometimes. 

First off, the atmosphere is perfect.  Dim reddish lighting, wooden tables.  To me, it felt like a bigger Cobras and Matadors, like they may have used the same tables and chairs and everything.  Which is just an interpretation based on distant cloudy foggy memories, from the corners of my mind, but I loved feeling that way, in any case.  I can get sentimental about pretty much anything, though, even chairs.

As to dinner, we started off with the creamy Habanero salsa and soft chips. Wow!  That was something else!  I think they have a variety of salsas to choose from, but I really can't imagine there being a better salsa in the universe, so I'd be hard pressed to try a different one next time.  And soft chips.  Well, now, those things are just a little bit of heaven in a handbasket.  I could have dined on those alone and been one happy girl.  

But, then, all of dinner was amazing.  Mine, squash blossom tacos.  Theirs, some spectacular looking carnitas.  And I was one happy girl.  And we were one happy crew.  And I'm real glad I finally found that place.

Plus, it's just good to get out, in this, the era of my unemployment.  Lest I forget how you don't wear sweatpants all the time.

Then it was a glorious Sunday afternoon and Zooey and I decided to venture up to the Observatory.  I've long loved that place, and usually hike up to it, but this time we drove and, incidentally, still sort of had to hike up to it anyway since the parking lot was overflowing about a mile down the hill.  So we walked up there in that crisp air, the hills and city spanning out around us.

We wandered into the Observatory and did some observing.  There's so much to see in there and it overwhelmed me at times because, well, I think too much is the main reason.  We checked out the panel of existence.  I mean, that's the only way I can think to title it.  Just a long walkway with a small model of time along the wall, the Big Bang and the almost 14 billion years that passed before we people arrived here.  Insane.  Insane.  This universe.

Me, being existence, contemplating its magnificence. And what it is.  It's magnificence, and so are we.  

And then we walked outside and the sun was about to set and the half moon was floating above us.  And we were in space there.  Zooey and I, standing on the earth, circling around the sun, the moon overhead.  I couldn't quite get my mind around it all.  Naturally, I suppose.  That's some serious business to consider.  Where are we?  What is this?  How did this come from an explosion in the middle of nothing?  But in those questions, there was sincere awe.  And my heart so full of gratitude that it could just about break.  And somehow, I knew that it all had meaning.

The hills were spanning off from dark and close to pale and distant and the sky was orange and bright and then the sun just crept lower and lower softly behind those hills and became an enormous red ball in the brightest golden sky and, for a split second, there was silence.  Just everywhere.  All of LA.  It was quiet.  And then the sun disappeared as we rotated and spun around it.  And there we were, side by side, just standing on planet Earth.  
14 billion years to get here.  

And all I could think was, we're in space.  And, also, this is the best Observatory ever!  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Grand Park

Another beautiful detour, just the other day. My friend Brad and I went Downtown to go see an art show at the Convention Center, but it happened to be on a Sunday when there was a Lakers' game so that whole area was bustling like Downtown only bustles when there's a Lakers' game.  We drove around for a while trying to decide if we wanted to see the art show that much, to brave the mayhem and pay $30 to park, and came to the conclusion that we did not.  More than that, we decided we could find something just as fun to do on that clear winter day in a different Downtown area.  So it was decided.  We were off to explore with no particular plan or destination.  And I think we both felt relieved with that verdict. 

As it turns out, Brad had heard of this park that was recently built and we had really been wanting to check it out.  It was supposedly constructed to be like the Central Park of Downtown LA to accommodate, I suppose, the burgeoning, ever so slowly, I might add, populace of successful artsy sorts.  So we got Siri on the mission, circling around looking for Grand Park.  

Once located, we parked near Grand Central Market.  We popped in there for a minute, just so I could show it to Brad.  I've always been fond of that bizarre bazaar.  That's another place I hear rumor is going to be getting a multimillion dollar makeover, which, on the one hand, I'm sure I'll love.  On the other, I've always found a certain appeal and charm in how grubby and strange that place is.  So, I imagine, where once you could get a bottle of tequila, a cheap plastic toy and a slab of beef tongue, you'll be able to get a microbrew and a yoga mat. 

Anyway, after that short stop at one of my favorite little downtown treasures, we walked over to see what that park was all about.  Hm.  Um.  Well.

First, I think I need to look up the definition of park, maybe.  I mean, it's possibly the weirdest park in the world.  It takes up four blocks and is mostly patches of grass in concrete, nary a tree to be seen, and a bunch of fuchsia benches, metal benches, not even wooden, and a fountain.  It was just about the furthest thing from nature that I could imagine.  It might actually be what I would imagine if someone asked me to imagine the furthest thing from nature.  I'm still kind of registering that place.  Maybe it's not done.  That's what I'm hoping.  Because Grand it was not.

But, as we stood there in that peculiar desolation, the clouds and the light and the world were all so perfect that it hardly mattered.  Looking up, we found our nature.  The sky was incredible that day. It really was.  Bright and serene with abnormally puffy clouds perched just so over the Civic Center. And the park was empty, all four blocks of it, and it was quite peaceful then.

After that, we decided to see how much ticket prices were at the MOCA.  We walked over there and up to the ticket booth and for some reason it was free that day so we got to go in and look at all of this modern art that I don't understand (yet? ever?) and it was all really quite beautiful, in its strange way.  The MOCA suddenly being free.  We got our art show after all.  And we whispered a lot.  And giggled.  But every so often, we stopped and were silent.  So, there's always something that gets you.  

And then coming back home, the sky was that quintessential LA sky color.  For me at least.  All golden and white and bright and vast.  And when we were at my door, it began to rain and when I got out of the car and felt the raindrops hit my face, I felt so happy.  So happy for all of the years here and that I have found that I truly love this place and that every day is an exploration.  And I love it for being that.  Sincerely.  

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Small Case for the Magical World

So, I'm testing my theory on how life works.  Unemployed for a month and believing that the right thing will magically come my way because the right thing always comes my way and it is always magical when it does.  I might be a downright proper fool for this theory, but I'm sticking with it. 

I mean, realistically, though, it's pretty incredible how all of this is running and operating and going on along with no conceivable power source, no plug and no batteries.  To me, that means there's obviously something mystical occurring.  How this is here at all.  How we stay moving and think.  So, in my opinion, it's no far cry to assume that mostly everything is working in some mysterious way that I don't understand but kind of have to believe in and acknowledge, in some sort of way.  And the way I do that is trust.  And bravery.  Or, really, being brave enough to trust it.  And to just say, I have no idea how this works, but it's goddamn astounding.  And so my own small life is too.  That's what makes the most sense to me, anyway.  It always has.

Also, I'll have you know, it's no unfounded theory, either.  For me, at least, life has a proven track record of not steering me wrong when I just throw the reins into its hands and say, "Ok, here you go.  Lead the way. I'm at your mercy and, well, I always have been anyway, whether I want to be or not. So do what you will."  

And then I say, "Surprise me!"  Out loud, too.  Just to really drive the point home.  

Oh, and how I've loved the surprises so far, the detours I've been taken on that have led me to things better than anything I could have expected.  It's like that with everything, though, the detours and unplanned are the best, life unfolding in ways that are quite remarkable.  And we could never have crafted it so well ourselves.

Like when Zooey was in town for a week and two of our days were more incredible because of what was unplanned than planned.  First, the day we went to breakfast in Silverlake and decided to walk back to Hollywood, five glorious miles that took us all day long, but it was the most perfect crisp winter day and the best company I've ever had.  And we found ourselves stopping in little shops, getting educated on tea by the most pleasant young English chap, climbing the wall of El Cid, because I've never been there and it was closed but we just had to see what was down there, popping into bookstores and browsing our hearts out, stopping for a Bloody Mary by the Koi pond at Home and learning ever more about each other.  

And then the next day, we had bookend plans, but nothing in between, and we started out at the LACMA for the Stanley Kubrick exhibit, which was amazing and breathtaking and so much of what I expect of the LACMA, and then decided to walk a few blocks and discovered the craziest most jam packed antique store I've ever been to and there was so much to see and we just looked around and played in there together with all of these interesting artifacts and paintings and swords and masks and sculptures and I don't even know and then I remembered that there was this little wine bar called Sheddy's in the area and we found it and crept in and sat in the tiny beautiful red room and got sangria and the strangest appetizer of chips and manchego and jalepenos and avocado and it was all just delectable.  The ambiance of that place, the whole day.  Feeling how much I love this life and that there are so many wonderful things and unexpected moments and how good it is to find someone whose hand you could take and just walk through the world with forever.

And so it is that I've found the wonderful little hidden secret of just seeing where life takes me.  And so it is that I have learned to say to myself, wait for it.  Something beautiful is going to emerge. Something real.  The right thing.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


ph. by k. fatehi

What a day it was, the other day!  Just when you think you've got it all under control, holding your head high, stepping forward, conscientiously, bravely, determined, to whatever end.  Well, that's when it gets you.  Just because, I guess, sometimes it has to.  I do know that you've just got to be sad sometimes.  And not understand. And be confused and overwhelmed.  

I was making a quesadilla for lunch, and a slight panic was setting in and I was trying to avoid its presence, and  then I sliced myself on the can of beans and my finger was bleeding and I went to get a band aid and there was one, just one, left.  So that was good, I suppose, I only needed one.  But, still, that already made me sad.  Why don't I have band aids? And then I was eating carrots with ranch waiting for the quesadilla to cook and somehow at some point a carrot slipped or something and flew into the air and ranch splattered all over me, down the front of my shirt and all over my face even, which was kind of funny, just because, it was like, seriously, I can't even eat carrots? So I was standing there in my kitchen with a ranch splattered shirt and face and a bleeding finger and I just, little by little, crumbled.  I peeled off my shirt and washed my face and climbed into my bed and curled up freezing and just cried and cried for the better part of an hour.  And I fell asleep, all curled up and not knowing anything.

The next morning I gently nudged myself out of bed.  And delicately, ever so delicately, went to the window and looked out to the blue crisp day.  The sky was bright and life was continuing out there.  It was still chilly and the birds were chirping all around the park.  And I was a part of it still, looking out at it. And I made the hot chocolate and marshmallows that my sister sent to me just because and poured some strong coffee into it and sat at my table.  And I was quiet. 

And then it was Christmas Eve and Bethany and Johnny and I decided to go to the Roosevelt.  We went to 25 Degrees for burgers first, sitting all cozy together in a red booth, burgers stacked high, talking about life and laughing on Christmas Eve in Hollywood. 

Afterwards, we wandered over to the Library Bar for a cocktail which was fun but funny because the mixologist was just a little too arrogant and young to win us over and though we were slightly repelled, we enjoyed it more because of how bad it was than how good.  That seems to be how it goes sometimes.  And we laughed some more.

At the end of the night, we sat in the old lobby together, in the big leather couches and chairs, the lights dim and warm, sharing gross drinks and stories and that sweet and lovely Christmas Eve and it seemed, somehow, sacred and holy, and, I don't know, but I felt blessed beyond measure.