Friday – Memorial Day Weekend (part one)

To say that I needed that extra day off would be both cliche and true.

I was looking forward to a 3Day weekend of lazing around (let’s be honest, I still multi-task my lazing by doing other things while at the same time doing nothing) and finishing binge-watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. But poor Chachi, as it usually goes, I sprinkled little jaunts here and there, leaving us with nary a laze.

All good problems to have.

Friday, Chachi had mentioned he wanted margaritas after work. We both each got off work early and were running a few errands when Mads called. After shifting a few plans, the three of us found ourselves at Mexicali for happy hour! I was the first one there and showed remarkable restraint that I didn’t down an entire basket of chips all on my own.

As we were winding down, I see that downtown Edgar (the man who used to throw the most amazing garden parties/after-art-walk parties at his loft) posted that he was going to a Miles Davis themed whiskey/jazz (I am still not clear what it was) thingy. I don’t like jazz. But Chachi does. And Mads, well, she likes a good time and seeing where the night will take her.

So we decided that we would reconvene at Mads’s and take an Uber downtown.

Mr. Mads even joined us and off we went.

The upside to Uber/Lyft is that you don’t have to park. The downside is that if the place you are heading isn’t what you expected (it wasn’t), then you are left feeling abandoned. Unless you’re with Mads and then you are in for an adventure of spontaneity.

We started at Guisados (yum) in this really cool passage where I once had gelato at Uli’s (side note – back in the late-early days of the Art Walk – this space was empty. But there was music playing and one lone light shining on a Jesus impersonator (are they called impersonators if it’s Jesus?)).

IMG_0041

I was still full from the happy hour but I still was able to sample some deliciousness.

Now it was time for a drink. We made our way to the El Dorado (a bar downstairs from Le Petit Paris).

el dorado2

el dorado

art deco wallpaper at El Dorado

The smell of new wood, leather and liquor were intoxicating. The space was pretty big and not yet filled at this early hour. We chat/yelled (noisy) about who knows what (nude painting from another time, how Mr. Mads isn’t meant for outside (his words), people watching groups of co-workers trying to outshine their peers).

Then it was time to visit the Association. I hadn’t been here in awhile. Very velvet ropey. And you could definitely feel that the bars all have competition from the development boom and millennials who like drinking. I love seeing downtown thrive like it is, but the preciousness/instagramable feel is definitely alive.

Hop, skip and a jump in our uber back to our hood.

It’s hard to believe I worked today, considering the traversing we did tonight.

I don’t even feel tir-    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

(More to come)

Baby, I’m AMAZED

Years ago, I read a famous book on spirituality. The person in the book went to a metaphysical bookstore in LA and while she was browsing, a book jumped off the shelf and into her hands. Without a creative impulse, I decided that because I was reading this, I too needed to get to the same bookstore so magic could land in my hands.

I was a copycat trying to lighten my darkness of depression, unemployment and feeling victimized by the world.

After an obstacle course in getting there, I arrive at the book store. A woman approaches me in the self-help aisle. She asks me for money. I tell her that I don’t have anything for her. I leave incensed. This was not what I came here for. I feel like I took a wrong turn. Then another. I wasn’t looking to help. I was looking to BE helped. Gawd!

As I return home and park, a homeless woman approaches me and screams how she has lost her car, her family and her job and that I NEED to help her. She is scary. But I am scarier at this point. I scream back that I don’t have anything for her and I huff away. Another wrong turn towards…well not towards what I want. Double Gawd!

Stoopid book on spirituality. Nothing magical happened. ONCE AGAIN, I am overlooked! No empathy coming my way *pout pout pout*

A few years later, a co-worker of mine (I was working at this point, but I wasn’t much happier), and I went up to the Mt. Washington home of guru Paramahansa Yogananda. It was lovely.

I had been raised around new agey-ness and meditation, but I was never really good at the sitting still with my thoughts. So although I could get on-board with the teachings and the philosophies, I couldn’t put meditation into practice effectively. Still, the location was serene and quiet.

I no longer carry that darkness with me. I know how to be happy, live in gratitude and be more empathetic towards those who are suffering. I have even learned how to meditate to a point where I can almost feel my body exude light.

That doesn’t mean I don’t succumb to negative energy. I do. But I can usually change course as it’s happening.

This past week, however, I found that I was working double-time to get back on the feel-good-train. It was exhausting. I came home Friday night and told Shaka about it. He said, “Maybe you’re not supposed to fight it so much. Employ the downstream thinking you usually practice.” He was right. But I didn’t hear him finish his sentence since I was stuffing my face with chocolate covered pretzels and then I fell dead asleep like some tired, weird, cartoon bear.

The next day, after watching a documentary on Paramahansa Yogananda, I exclaim to Shaka, (with the same desperate fervor that prompted me to go to the metaphysical bookstore many years ago), “I must take you to do the labyrinth at the Mt. Washington location. It’s beautiful and serene but there is this labyrinth that you HAVE to do! it’s really cool!”

“A maze?”

“A labyrinth. Not a maze. There are no walls or anything. I used to do this with my co-worker. We went a few times.”

“Cool!” (he’s so easygoing)

So I call the place and find out they will be open Sunday. I ask about the labyrinth.

The woman on the phone doesn’t recall there being one. I hang up, knowing there IS one, but we will have to find it on our own when we go.

After the past week of exhaustion and frustration,  I was slowly turning my weekend around 180 degrees. Life was good!

So after voting for our friend and his slate (United Progressives) as delegates for  of AD 46 (which was exciting to be a part of – and he won!),

votingimg_8054

we got a text from Mads that there was a soft opening for Groundworks Coffee in North Hollywood.

gwimg_8055

It’s in an old train station, right by the Metro. We loved it!

Time was running tighter than I wanted. We had reservations for an early dinner at Lucques (a generous Christmas gift from Shaka’s sister), so I was getting nervous that there wouldn’t be time to go to the labyrinth. Shaka, the zen master he is, assures me that downstream thinking is our friend and we will make it on time to do it all.

The twisty-turny roads towards the SRF on Mt. Washington are more windy than I remember. Shaka is questioning whether I have actually ever been here.

“It’s been awhile,” I tell him. Which it has, but the terrain is not familiar. My co-worker drove us there before so who knows how much I was paying attention (a little not at all).

We arrive! It’s breathtaking! The sky was a clean, just-rained kind of clear that you see in movies.

We find parking pretty quickly. Then, we look for the labyrinth.

The grounds are gorgeous, but I am not seeing what I remember in my head. We come upon the sundial. “This is where it was!” I screech.

srfimg_8065

“This is beautiful. Does it matter if we find the maze?”

“It’s a labyrinth! And it was here! Where did it go? Come on! Let’s see if it got moved.”

We walk to an open space of green, surrounded by palm trees and foliage whose look and smell lies deep in my childhood memories of Pasadena.

srfimg_8057

We sit on a bench. My gaze darts around the open space like I am looking for a late uber driver. Shaka sits quietly.

“I am feeling something here I haven’t felt in a long time.”

“Yeah, it’s peaceful,” I say unpeacefully.

“Let’s just sit quietly. Listen to the sounds you normally wouldn’t be able to hear.”

He is in meditation with his eyes open and is quite still. I frantically look at my phone to search labyrinth, mt. washington, self-realization fellowship, where-the-f-is-it?

After a few moments, I look at Shaka. “Want to walk around?”

“I want to stay here a little longer.”

“OK.” I close my eyes and try and feel what he is sensing. But I can’t. I am chasing a memory that doesn’t exist and I am frustrated. This was not what I came here for.

At the same time, we look at each other and he agrees to walk to the Visitor Center with me.

Shaka, still in a calm state, looks around the store and is breathing in the incense as two women who work there are talking. They turn to help us. I ask about the labyrinth. I tell them I came around 12 years ago and I walked it. The one woman snarkily says, “Well, if there was one, it must have been before I was here and I have been here 41 years.”

I bristle. We thank them and walk out.

Shaka asks if I am okay.

“How did you know I was not okay with her answer?”

“I know you.”

We wander around the main house and find a path that leads to a beautiful fountain and a view of the other side of the mountain.

I sit. And all of a sudden, a wave of energy hits me.

 srfimg_8072

I tell Shaka that I am now feeling something and that I would like to sit here for a bit.

And then apparently (according to Shaka), I took a selfie.

But then….I meditated.

Like a flash, I felt the words come into my brain.

The labyrinth isn’t here (echos of Westworld ring in my head, but I digress).

And then the location of where it is, comes to me.

EUREKA!

I come out of my stillness quickly and say, “The maze isn’t here!” I grab my phone and look it up.

“I thought it was a labyrinth.”

“It is! The maz  labyrinth is at Forest Lawn. I went there with my co-worker too! Now, it’s all coming back.”

Shaka, is laughing and shaking his head at me. “You almost missed this entire experience looking for something that wasn’t here. And I am still not sure you have actually been HERE!”

I am reminded at how I was waiting for a book to jump off a shelf and missed the message that was ready to bite me, so long ago. The message that others were worse off. The message that my life was pretty good. The message of being in the moment. That message had evaded me then.

I was doing the same thing now. But why? Wasn’t I better now?

Hadn’t I improved?

Well, yeah, I mean, I guess, now I was able to laugh about it as Shaka gently makes fun of me. Fun of me for thinking that lady was dumb and mean (though I still stand by the fact, her snarky response was NOT necessary), fun of me for not recognizing the gift of finding something unexpectedly great in place of what I was seeking, fun of me for being so anti-zen even though my mission was to get my zen on in this spiritual place.

Driving to our dinner reservations, we were both still laughing about it.

I was just happy that my memory hadn’t failed me entirely.

There was a labyrinth, or rather there is one. Somewhere else.

And I can’t wait to show Shaka some time. We can go there and meditate.

Because, you know it’s just so hard to find the right place to do that if you are already in a maze where you are waiting for books to fall off shelves.

But then I remember, it’s not a maze. It’s a labyrinth.

Slippery

This year has been an example of highs and lows.

Highs being that I am truly my most content with who I am, who I am with and what I am about.  I am planning a wedding (it’s as much a high as it is a low – ha – can you say CHILL WEDDINGS ARE STILL STRESSFUL? at least if you are moi). I am marrying my best friend and someone who makes me laugh and laugh at myself.

The lows being all the icons who are departing this plane.  David Bowie hit me hard.  So did Garry Shandling, to name a few.  So early in the year, the reaper started tending.  Last week, Shaka and I were discussing who the next big icon would be to rock our world if they were to die.  I said, Madonna and Prince.  And today, as if the Universe heard my hypothetical chat, we lost another. Prince, I didn’t think you were done with creating and rocking our world with your world.

The thing with these icons isn’t just that we are losing people who have made us think, or laugh or who inspire us, but we are truly losing magic.  We are losing people who shine a little brighter than the rest of us, as if to show us how the stars work.

It’s a little dimmer for sure in this reality, but it really showcases how we need to harness the stardust they have provided and live a life truer to our creative natures.  What moves you, should MOVE you, get it?  MOVE you to create, inspire and shine.

I went looking through old emails to find the photos I took at the Prince concert at the Forum back in 2011.  PRINCE.jpg

The treasure trove I uncovered of old writings, musings, blogs, emails, etc. was kind of like a time capsule.

This is a piece I wrote ages ago after meeting a kindred soul one night.  He and I remained friends and I forgot that I wrote it. But today, when realizing all we have is our creativity to capture our stardust, I thought I would share it.  I really like it.

Slippery

  A birthday party in March on a rainy Hollywood night.  I sat down at the empty end of the table not knowing that it would become the cool end of the table.

 You showed up late and sat across from me.  You had friendly eyes and your rapier wit was able to keep up with my repartee.  You had my attention.

 I was nursing a bruised knee with some ice.  Earlier, I had slipped on Hollywood Blvd., outside Musso and Frank’s.  You asked me which star I had fallen on.  I couldn’t recall since at the time, I was more concerned with regaining my footing in front of the audience of pimps, winos and hookers.  I told you I would go back and look when the rain stopped.  I never did.

 You seemed embarrassed that you were the only one at the table who smoked but repeatedly departed to alleviate your craving.  I drank to alleviate the pain in my knee.

 Something in your humility outshined your confidence and something in your confidence cast a shadow on your humility.  I doubt I was really aware of the duality at the time.  You made me laugh.  Really laugh.  Not the polite-I-want-you-to-like-me-so-I-will-laugh-so-you-think-I-get-you-sort of laugh, but really laugh.  You had a clever way of wording things.  You made me think.

 We left as a group and the air outside brushed our faces with a reprieve of rain and a brief breeze.  We walked as a group down the streets of Hollywood to a bar.  We entered as a group and stood as a group and tried to converse and figure out what the next plan of action was.  Were we staying?  Going?  Going somewhere else?  We stayed as a group who was losing its excitement.  The night was wearing thin and voices were raised and ears were deafening in the din of the music behind where we stood.  We exited as a group back into the night air, now ripe with the scent of rain, exhaust, and endings.

 And like a train dropping off passengers at their cars, we fell off in the groups we had come with.  We looked up at an abandoned building and said to Mark who was being forced to move, “Hey Mark, if you lived here, you’d be home right now.”  I think we laughed.  Who knows, it was funny.  Who cares?

We dropped you off at your car.  The rain started again and I wondered if I would take another spill on the sidewalk.    This time, however, I looked forward to seeing which star I would land on.

Shake Shake Shake Sonora

Seeing the weight start to slowly come off, I do know that I want to continue to eat this no-carby way for as long as I can. You know, before I allow my craving for chocolate to totally derail me.

For me, I need to have some sense of a treat.  Yes, like a dog.  Whatevs…I like dogs.

But treats usually look and taste like chocolate chip cookies or ice cream.

Not really on the menu plan.

What’s a sugar-addict  girl to do?

I could make a smoothie.

BUT, the thing about smoothies is that they usually have bananas in them.

Now bananas on their own are like, Yeah, you’re good.

But mix them in bread, pudding, fruit salad, smoothies or that disgusting gum flavor, and it’s like, whoa banana, why are you such a bully, taking over the flavor?

Well,  I found a shake recipe on againstallgrain.com that curbs that craving for chocolate. It’s not that sweet but the chocolate taste is in full force when you use cacao powder.  AND I substituted 1/3 of a pear for the banana.  Go pears!

FullSizeRender[4]

Here’s my take on the recipe.  Sure, the honey and pear have some sugar.  And the almond butter has fat. But if you are about to take the walk of shame down oreo-alley or smear nutella on your face, this is a filling treat that can satisfy a wicked choco craving, but allow you to look yourself in the mirror the next morning.

  • 4 ounces almond milk
  • ½ cup crushed ice
  • 1/3 of a pear
  • 1/4 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter

Enjoy!

FullSizeRender[2]