Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas and Paris

There are some things that get you thinking.  Like when Z and I went over to visit our friends Phil and Amanda the other night, to see their new place and mostly because we’ve magnetized toward each other as people do who love similar things and for whom life is a similar battle but a similar landscape of meaning nonetheless.  They made the sweetest little home down the street from us and brought us in to this warm, this intelligent, this thoughtful evening with them.  And I thought about how I felt like I was finally in Paris with my Hemingway crew that I’ve always dreamed of.  Because they’re interested in things, like art and writing and poems served with martinis and cheese and jazz.  And it just made me think about how do I want to live and who do I want to be and I hope I’m doing this all right and other things like that.  Big questions, but small. The day to day of making sure you actually live the life you get while you’ve got it.

And today it’s Christmas, and Christmas is always a little bit sad. Z and I were just talking about this, how we always get a little bit sad around the holidays. And I suppose it’s because, well, when we were young, it was such pure unabashed joy and it was before all of the worries and when everything was all right all of the time. Jumping off the roof giggling into the deep fluffy snow and hot chocolate and the warm kitchen and records playing and mom and dad and mittens and knowing that everything was ok. And I guess there’s just something a little bit sad about that. And yet, still, everything’s ok. 

Now, every day on my way to work, I pass the muddy green hills of the cemetery, expansive and rolling, and lately the graves are bedecked with Christmas trees and poinsettias and sometimes I see people just sitting out there on the hillside together. And I think of Christmas and love and how we last somehow, anyway, even when we don’t, I guess. And it feels important to live with a certain beauty and delicate concern for the things that you love and the things that are special to you. And to make moments here and there with your friends, pretending you’re in Paris.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Everything That Makes Us Love

There was something so wonderful about this past week, mostly because of friends and how life moves along and all of these beautiful moments. 

Z and I met up the other night at Umami with our friends Chris and Phil and, later, Amanda, and we just ate delicious food, like truffle fries and too tall of burgers, and sat at that round table on the patio laughing and talking and it was so good, just really good to be with these wonderful new friends in this little life here, so far along, link connecting to link, bringing me, bringing me along. 

Then I was nostalgic because that particular Umami used to be a Cobras and Matadors that sprouted up after the first one got so popular and then it got too popular and then it all imploded and now there are no more Cobras and Matadors. But I walked through that restaurant looking around, remembering how many days I’ve lived and how much love there is. 

I made a toast that night, to friends, and also to the fact that Cat Stevens has a new album out. Because I’m so happy about both of those things, especially about the Cat Stevens album. Because he’s my favorite pretty much and reminds me of growing up and experience and loss and bravery and everything about having to go on this long big journey all by yourself and more beautiful things even than that, like the light in the windows and the wind and staying up all night in Chamonix singing along to the Best Of Cat Stevens tape because it was the only tape in that wooden house in the Alps that one summer so long ago with my family.

And then it was Thanksgiving and I went hiking early in the morning and I passed one of the old Polish guys that I’ve always seen walking up the trail with his six friends every morning.  All of these years hiking up there, the Polish group in the mornings. Just yack yack yacking away. And then the two Polish women would always break off and play tennis together on the rickety, broken court in the hills. So happy and active running around on that court with the tree branches poking through the concrete. I love that group of people. And I used to always try and say good morning to them, a long time ago, and they were so wrapped up in each other, they never said hi back, so I finally stopped trying to say hi to them, but they became a real part of the scenery for me.

I hadn’t been up there in a while and then, on Thanksgiving morning, I was walking down the path and just saw that one Polish guy sitting by himself on a bench down near the end of the trail. And I thought about friends and Umami dinners and the old Cobras and Matadors and Cat Stevens and everything that makes us love.  Maybe the rest of the Polish group had just gone home already. Maybe. But, I just thought, in any case, one day, there will just be one Polish guy sitting on a bench. And all of that love trailing behind him. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Quiet Slow World

Sometimes, here in this big city, I’ll stop and think about home in Aspen. About growing up and the mountains. About the windows and the moonlight on the ground.  When I would just sit by the fire circling things I liked in catalogues, like gourmet gift baskets, apple baskets with chocolate covered popcorn, from Harry & David. Or maybe sweaters from Eddie Bauer that I didn’t really want but were the best thing in the catalogue so I circled them anyway, while the quiet snow fell outside.  

Now it’s so fast all the time. And loud. Traffic and subway stations where there’s a guy behind my shoulder asking me to help him because he just got out of jail, while I’m the only human being in the whole subway station just trying to buy my fare at the machine and that’s just not the right way to ask me to help you, by saying you just got out of jail and hovering over my shoulder too close. And then I take the slightly wrong train in my panic so I have to get off and wait for the next one and I’m mostly alone again at a stop I don’t know and somewhat worried but keeping myself together because you sort of have to all the time and it’s just the subway even though no one seems to ride it here at night except me and the two people waiting with me.  

I just miss it sometimes. I miss the quiet snow and the fireplace and not having the world beating down on you and your job grading your performance and too many horns honking for no understandable reason and politics and waking up to go make money and being grown up and everything you have to think about. 

Except that it was pretty funny the other morning when the toilet wouldn’t stop flushing and I tried to fix it and it started spraying on me out of the pipes and I woke up Z, not because he would know how to fix it or anything but just to join me in the hullaballoo because it was funny and maybe he would know how to fix it anyway. He didn’t. He just got sprayed too.

I know there’s a lot of beauty in this. And humor. And I do love it, this whole thing. But still, I miss the quiet slow world sometimes. Curled up with catalogues, circling things.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Gathering a Picnic

Z and I went on a trip to Colorado recently. Leaving LA on that early morning looking out of the airplane windows, I told Z that I always get a little bit sad whenever I take off in a plane. It just always makes me think of my whole life. And then I get some distant perspective on where I am, like here, watching LA sink away far below, stretching out. And I think about all that led me there, to that place below, to that one place, and where I came from, everything. 

And then Denver that first night! We wandered out of our wonderful strange decrepit hotel that was pretending to be fancy but wasn’t anymore to go explore the evening streets. It was so beautiful on our walk around the city that Z and I just kept stopping to feel it and take it all in and look at the sky and the buildings. It was the longest walk, getting lost, enamored.  The wind started to blow as we were walking around gathering a picnic to bring back to the hotel. Sweeping leaves up in circles. And then it lightly rained on us out there, in the middle of that city, and half of the clouds were dark and half were in the clutch of a rainbow and then it all turned pink and soft hazy yellow and orange and purple in different spaces between the illuminated buildings. 

My god, world. 

I don’t think I will forget that.

It was a real spectacle out there that night, and we were just so happy, I guess, which is just not something you can say all the time because there’s always something no matter how happy you are. But we were just there, on vacation, delighting in some sort of unencumbered wonder, stopping at intersections and popping into restaurants and little fancy markets and take-out shish kabob in that light, that weather, just us, gathering a picnic to bring back to that funny hotel room.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

And So It Is

The other day I found myself driving along, accidentally thinking about everything that could possibly go wrong with anything (oops), my new job, the future, parking garages, the freeways, merging, crashing (etc. ad nauseam), and after a while I just had to laugh a little and say to myself out loud, “God, you can’t be afraid of everything.” 

And for me, after the laughter dies down over how ridiculous I am because I’m always afraid and panicking all the time, I have to remember something. I don’t want to miss out on any of this. Because everything feels like it has some sacred value for being just what it’s been. And somehow, I feel like I need to welcome and protect even the most painful pieces and hold them tight somewhere because they are some integral part of the total beauty. 

So I hold on to it all by finding ways to keep going forward into this world and moving, moving. 

Like last week, Z and I went downtown and got egg sandwiches at Grand Central Market and walked around and took pictures of the buildings and dreamed of buying one of the defunct ones with broken windows that was so beautiful and had lion parapets or some thing or another and we sat out on the sidewalk drinking iced coffees in the sweltering heat.  And I was not afraid of anything.

And the other day we went up to the Getty for a long time letting the art flood into us like it does when it just speaks to you and feeling all of the things there are to feel about the world and life and existence and just being here. And I was not afraid.

And one night it started to rain on our way back from a comedy show and we got home and ran upstairs. And we stood on the rooftop barefoot in the warm summer rain, quiet and happy, just looking around at the city and breathing it all in, and I just thought, here we are, and so it is. And I was not afraid.

Here’s what I think sometimes: I want to remember everything. Palpably. Especially the ache of experience. Because every time, in the moments when I feel so much peace and beauty and happiness, it’s only because I know more than that, it’s because I know the ache of life. In some strange way I don’t want to forget about that the most. And in some way, I’m lucky, because I can’t.  

And here we are, and so it is.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Brunch and Everything

Well, another day, and I still don’t have the answers to the big questions. (So don’t go getting all excited).  Mostly, I just look around and watch everything and I’m pretty baffled still.

Now the park is covered in cotton from the big tree.  And I think about all of these days.  The different mornings and the chapters.  Everything moving by.  What I’ve done.  What I will do.

Sometimes I’ll be wondering what this is, all of this, and then I start thinking so much that I start to miss just about everything. Everything I’ve ever done and everything I’ve ever been and then I start thinking about everything I'm going to have to do but I don’t know how I can possibly manage it all. Well, now, that sure is the kind of thinking that can get you into trouble. How am I gonna pull the rest of this off?  Oh, boy.  

The flower shop next to my store moved.  That’s kind of sad for me.  Even though it’s not really a big deal.  It’s just that, kind of the only two people I've really connected with over in Venice work at that shop and they give me flowers and we chat on our breaks and it’s been nice.  And I don’t even know their names.  And there they go.  And that was that.  Their stories marching on.  All of these lives crossing paths and all of these things.  And you just can’t hold on to any of it, I guess.  I don't know.  

Well, I know a few things. Like, I know there’s kind of nothing like going to brunch. Z and I have decided: More brunch! Here’s our favorite places to go:  Stella.  Blu Jam.  Chateau Marmot. In no particular order, except: Favorite. Second favorite. Special occasion because a little too pricey favorite.

It’s just so peaceful having a nice long brunch.  And then all of my worries are gone and I’m smiling and just enjoying whatever this is and even if I am thinking, at least it feels productive or worth while or something because it’s not bad to think, it’s just that you can overthink sometimes.  Or, well, it’s just that I can overthink.

But brunch.  It feels like something really good carved out of this strange ordeal and all of the little ordeals.  And at brunch we tell stories and contemplate and wonder but mostly just enjoy it.  It’s quiet and close and savored.  And there’s eggs and stuff.  And, for me at least, it’s like you just sort of feel life and being in life, just sitting there, time kind of stopping for a little while and you don’t worry about aging and money and what if you get MERS and where are all the ambulii going and if that one beggar at the corner is going to throw something at you because he’s always throwing things at people or if the overpass is going to collapse when you’re under it waiting for the light to change.  

It’s good, brunch. Just being in the world like that.  Where it’s all pretty nice all of a sudden.  

So that’s something.

What is all of this? I have no idea.  No idea at all.  But I know it’s a small part of this big humungous thing.  And even though we’re a small part of that, we are a part of it.  That’s like scientifically proven.  And it’s a pretty great thing.  

And we meet and interact and we are everything we’ve been and everything we will be and everything we’ve done and everything we will do.  And, for now, I guess, we tell stories at brunch and keep moving and find moments to be still. Me, the flower shop guys.  We just keep doing this.  

So there’s something too. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Waking up Laughing

The other day was kind of the best day.  Mostly because I woke up laughing and then Z and I were kind of just laughing all day.  And we didn’t really do anything but go to the market and stuff, but still.  It’s just that I woke Z up by telling him about how I used to pass Bob Barker and his dog in the mornings when I went hiking and then I said, “Do you know what Bob Barker’s dog’s name is?…It’s Dog Barker!” only I was laughing hysterically halfway through the joke and could barely make it to the punchline because it was so funny and Z started laughing at me for laughing so much at my own joke and also because it was a really good joke, if you ask me.

Then I said, in defiance of all responsibility, “I’m not doing anything until I go on vacation!”  Even though there is no vacation planned any time at all.  And then we laughed some more.

Then we decided, as we sometimes do, that we were going on strike from everything, especially work.  But sometimes when Z goes on strike by himself, he ends up working anyway, since he’s his own boss and he doesn’t want to throw tomatoes at himself when he crosses the picket line the next day.  When I go on strike, it just means I have a day off.  But that day, we woke up and we were both on strike, which we also refer to as a snow day because we can do whatever we want.  Which means we sometimes just order pizza and watch movies.  Which I guess is kind of just a regular day off. If you're not always thinking about trying to do something important all the time.

But I guess, it’s just really nice to not have to do anything.  Because we’re always asking ourselves such big questions and trying to do so much and life is so heavy sometimes and we think too much and why are we here and how do we do this and what’s it all about and how can I do something that matters and when can we go on a vacation?  And then we start sounding like Woody Allen monologues with all of our existentialist problems and we can get pretty brooding and forlorn so it’s good to just laugh about things sometimes.

And then, another day, we went up to his sister’s new place on a hill.  It was a small gathering in the afternoon and when it got darker and colder I made a fire in the fire pit on the hillside and it was nice to remember how to build a fire and everyone seemed happy and then we went inside and played piano in the living room.  And it feels like there’s so much meaning in days like that.

And then I think, everything’s important. We’re all doing different things and none of us knows what we’re doing. 

And we laugh in the morning, and we play piano in living rooms.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Went up to the Getty today.  Which is always kind of the best place.  The grounds, for one, but there’s that one room.  That’s what gets me.  And there was a new Degas. It was so peaceful looking at that, and I felt all of the things I hope to feel.  

Like about all of life and how these things happen and mean so much.  Seeing one of my very best childhood friends the other week and just getting to sit with her, and when we’re together it’s like my life is with me, and something really deeply understanding, and it makes sense, and how Bethany came over to Venice to visit me at work the other day and we went to Gjelina for lunch which is the place to go and it’s no wonder, that was just too good, like how do you make cauliflower make me melt and food nourishes the soul type of good.  Even though I always feel a little bit like I’m-in-sixth-grade-and-not-quite-cool-enough-because-there’s-something-I-don’t-know-but-I-can’t-figure-out-what whenever I go anywhere in Venice.  

And it was just good to go out and eat with Bethany again.  Explorer friend.  

Sometimes, I think, we just don’t have enough time for all of this.  Like, practically speaking, maybe eight times of ten, eighty years.  And then, so, we’re very young until ten.  That’s the first part.  Just being very young.  And that’s the best time.  Pretty much.  Well, for me, because you’re just not thinking about it all so much.  Running around in the yard and trips to Illinois on the train to my grandparents' with that funny basement with a pool table and stationary bike and some big dead fish on the wall with a really sharp pointy long nose sword thing.  Maybe a swordfish?  And the summers in Corona del Mar, beaches and relatives and mom laughing and boardwalks and dancing to jazz with dad.  And ice cream bars melting and falling in love with running around. 

And then the next ten. They go to twenty.  All of the ten to twenty years that are probably the most confusing (you think. Oh lord, but you don’t know.) and pretty beautiful and activity and trees and snow and summers and falls and winters and jumping in the rivers and dancing and birthday parties on the hillside and books and tears and parents and falling asleep by the fireplace and wondering about everything (like stars) and middle school and high school and pizza and running around still and college and stuff.  And thinking you know, somewhere toward the end of it.

And then twenty to thirty.  Thinking you know by now and not knowing anything still, really.  And love.  And everything.  Then just everything.  And questions and sadness and loss and beauty, still beauty, maybe more, because it means more, because you recognize it.  Beauty just to live.  Chomping at all of these things and work and gathering living and I don’t know.

And then it”s cloudy and the little green parrots are chirping in the trees. 

Then it’s another morning and it’s one more day behind me and it’s I get scared again at how fast it's going.