Waves and Particles

I have spoken about my meditation journey here a little bit. But what I haven’t mentioned is how I came into a group that is still a very big part of my life, even if we don’t meet as often these days.

Here’s the short-ish version:

Mads worked with a woman she thought I would get along with. The three of us met up for after-work drinks. Another co-worker of theirs joined. I didn’t like her (the newest addition). But she would interrupt something I would be saying and say something like, “your guides want me to tell you this…” and she would proceed to tell me stuff about my life that she couldn’t have known. Apparently, she is a psychic. Shortly thereafter, she quit her “day job” with Mads and did the psychic healing stuff full time. My initial thoughts about her shifted when I went to a class she taught. We were never gonna be friends but I softened on her.

Not everyone makes a good first impression (case in point…I have no idea what the name of the woman Mads wanted to introduce me to was. I doubt she would remember mine either).

So this psychic sent out an email blast that a friend of hers was starting a meditation group. For some reason, even though my meditation skills were pretty rough, I jumped at this chance. I met up with this group of total strangers like 14 years ago. The people in the group have shifted. Some have left, some have passed on, some come and go, and some, stay in your friendship group. The woman who created the group and leads the meditations is still a dear friend.

There was also a couple who joined a few years later. Sula and Moondoggie came from quite a distance to join us to meditate. They are like-minded souls seeking answers like the rest of us, but had it not been for this group, our paths would have never crossed.

Moondoggie is in the wine business and after every meditation, he breaks out a sampling of some really good vino.

He has taught Shaka and me a lot about wines. I can even say, we have a quite a collection these days.

His IG account (which I prompted him to create http://www.instagram.com/itsallvine ) has a nice array of various varietals from affordable to high end. He has great stories too and knows a lot about the different wineries.

Sula is an amazing artist and is in the process of illustrating a children’s book.

We live quite a distance from each other so we only visit twice a year outside the meditation gatherings.

Last night was one of those nights!

A hot July evening was the perfect setting to try Ice Wine, exquisite chardonnay and pinot noir. A BBQ dinner with a seasonal salad paired nicely.  We played catch up with our lives (the highs and the lows) and talked music. We connected on a social level and then also on a very spiritual level. Waves and particles. We come from different worlds, backgrounds and ages, but nonetheless, in these moments, we are quite connected.

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Shaka and I brought desserts (a nice sampling from chocolate to raspberry and passion fruit macaron) from Portos (https://www.portosbakery.com/) which is always a hit. I almost didn’t bring the carrot cake but I am glad I did.

And as the wine kept pouring, things got dancy and singy.

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We ate dessert on the patio with the sounds of crickets and other neighbors having a similar evening. We talked about the cosmos and tv shows. We told off color jokes (mostly the fart variety).

I hate cutting myself off when the wine is so delicious but I know my limits and started to let the water (with lemons, of course, cuz Sula pays attention to those kind of details) be my libation way before it was time to head back home.

It seems random how I came into the mediation group. But after being in this group for so long, I know things aren’t usually random.

The universe is vast. But last night, two couples from different SoCal cities met up to cause a ripple in the time space continuum.

 

It might have been our deep conversations about quantum physics, or our laughter.

Or it might just have been our fart jokes. We are deep like that.

 

Om and Getty It

When I meditate now, I can go deep.

I can release myself to the practice. That wasn’t always the case. I would say things like, “I just can’t turn off my thoughts,” like that was what made me special. I hear it time and again from other people and I try not to laugh cuz, I too, believed it about myself.

Shaka and I have a group we go to 4 times a year or so where we are led in a guided meditation. It is as much social as it is spiritual. And there’s usually really good wine too.

I have also led some smaller groups in mediation.

I think that meditation can cure a lot of what’s ailing us. And voting blue in the next election…but I digress.

So when Zappy and Roni were headed to the Getty for a record release/group meditation and asked if we wanted to join, I was like OM, Yes!

Lest you think that my years of mediation have made calm my natural state, I am actually quite prone to irritation and freak out. Just ask Shaka.

There is a question that you ask yourself in doing this kind of work:  “Do conditions need to be perfect for me to be happy?”

I used to want to say no, but felt that conditions DID need to be perfect.

Now I know better. So even if there is noise, or thoughts or physical issues, I can just release them. Most of the time.

Zappy and Roni had already arrived at the Getty on a beautiful So Cal summer evening and were seated on the lawn with these big pillows that the organizers had handed out. By the time we arrived, all the pillows had all been claimed.

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Some ambient music started playing, so we just assumed the meditation had started. We lay down on the lawn and listened to the sounds of the music, Getty patrons and others like us who were there to get their spirituality on. A slight breeze became a little cooler though the sun was still shining in a blue sky with a few clouds.

I closed my eyes. I let the natural waves of sound blend into a rhythm with my breath.

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And then…

She started talking. She, the woman behind us. She, the woman who decided it was a good time to chat with other blanket owners. She, who was mentioning she was an influencer (I was getting as curious as I was heated).  I was proud of myself for letting her sharp tones and jabbery ways sink into the background noise. UNTIL…

She stood over Zappy (whose eyes were shut) with a piping hot coffee (I was as much in love with the smell of her coffee drink as I was pissed at her audacity) and said, “Excuse me. Where did you get those pillow things?” Zappy opened her eyes and told her the Getty passed them out earlier.

“Cool cool cool, so are they like, gone?”

“I would imagine,” Zappy said, friendlier than I would have.

“Cool cool cool, okay so there are like no more?”

“Guess not”

She went back to her blanket right behind us.

I was fighting my own demons of impatience and at how conditions don’t need to be perfect for me to be happy. But they could be a lot less rude. We are at a meditation. SHE is at the same meditation. What in Gaia’s name is this madness????

Stewing stewing stewing, I sat up. I tried to relax into breath.

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And then, just as I was getting back into a good rhythm, a voice came on the mic.

“Hi, everyone, thank you for coming to my record release. We will begin the GUIDED meditation in a few moments. I would like to thank ____[ambient musician recording we just heard]___ for opening for me today.

I looked at Zappy and Shaka and started laughing. The meditation hadn’t even begun yet.

We were so anxious to relax, we found ourselves in knots at “rudeness” (I still stand by the fact she was rude…but more your average “bother someone while their eyes are shut rude” and not “interrupt a mediation rude”).

The guided meditation was great. Decompression at the Getty. How LA is that?

I don’t think it lasted longer than a half hour. Maybe it did. Time is slippery like that when you breathe into moments. The sun was starting to set and the lovely weather made all of LA shine below us.

After we made our way walking down the hill, we met up on Fairfax for some Ethiopian food at Messob. It was delicious and a perfect way to end the evening.

 

My take away from the Getty Medi, was a chance to see where I can still improve when pushed into my irritation zone.  I have heard that there is a universe between every breath.  If that is true, mine went from a universe of anger to a universe of savoring good food with good friends on a very LA night. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Follow the Martini

How do you know if someone is Vegan?

A: Don’t worry, they’ll tell you within the first 2 minutes of meeting them

That is how I used to think too. I have never been a huge meat eater, but I do eat turkey and chicken and until recently, would gobble up cheese and drink milk in my lattes. I still partake of some chicken and turkey (and sometimes eggs), but have really started limiting my dairy intake (HELLO Oat Milk!). So although I am not a vegan, I try and eat a more plant based diet when I can.

My friends are foodies. And not at all vegetarian or vegan. So when they go out to a steak house for dinner, they usually wouldn’t call me.

But recently, Shaka mentioned he had never been to Musso and Frank’s.

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He suggested we go. It had been awhile for me too. We didn’t have reservations but decided to take our chances at the bar. We invited Zappy and her hubs (Roni) and Mads and her hubs (who I think wants to be referred to as “Sweet Tush 45 (ST45)”). To our surprise, all were available and ready to join us. Zappy and Roni were already there. Everyone laughed when I said there was a smell of wealth in the air (starting with Zappy’s awesome fragrance), but I wasn’t trying to be funny. There is just something that happens in certain moments on certain nights with certain people. And this was one of them. Quentin Tarantino’s new film “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” was starting to preview, but I don’t think that is why this place is hopping. It’s an institution that could have gone the way of the Derby but it didn’t. And it was full. Full of people who were all there for different reasons.

Zappy ordered a shrimp cocktail and martini. I love vodka. But strange as this sounds, I had never had a martini. Not sure why. So when in Rome and all that…I ordered one.

Zappy looked at me and smiled, “You’re about to have an amazing night,” she said in a tone, reminiscent of a hippie turning a square onto LSD. She wasn’t lying.

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Our bartender, Sonny, kept calling me Bella. “He’s calling everyone Bella,” Zappy says in a tone reminiscent of Bea Arthur on the Golden Girls talking to Rose.

I AM Rose. I am drinking my first martini. And I am happy.

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Mads and ST45 show up. They are exhausted and are in hospice care for their dog. This is the first night out for them in awhile and they won’t be out too long so they can rush back to tend to their pooch. I look at ST45 and say, “this is my first martini!” He is used to my nonsense but is not in the mood. “I can’t tell if you’re kidding,” he says eyeing the bar. Cue eye roll when I tell him I am not. I don’t feel the shame he intends and I give him a hug. He needs a drink and a good night. As does Mads.

After trying to get a seat for dinner (and being laughed at by the hosts for such a question this late in the evening), we head down the street to dinner.

A few weeks later, Shaka and I want to take our friend Faye out to Musso and Frank’s. She is newer to LA and is soaking it all up with excitement. We head there for drinks. The parking attendant warns us that there may not be room at the bar either. We take our chance. It works out (as it always does with Faye and me combining our wonder twin powers).

Sonny is our bartender again. He calls us Bella (I guess Zappy wasn’t wrong) and I eat it up.

Or drink it up as I am now excited to order another martini. Shaka and Faye opt for gin and I stick with vodka. We are asking Sonny about people he may have served. He is cryptic but charming and has us laughing. He tells us he’s a poet. He comes back to us a few minutes later reciting some of his work. I ask him where we can get a copy. He comes back a few minutes later with his book.

We buy it. He signs it to all three of us. He is a character and we are here for it!

The martinis are perfect! We hate to leave but we have reservations down the street at Lono. Happy birthday, Faye! See ya soon, Sonny!

A few weeks later, Shaka and are car pooling home and he says he’s craving a martini (what has happened to us???). We head to Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks. Different vibe but delicious food and tasty drink!!!!

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Even though I love wine, I learned awhile ago to have a drink other than vino when you go to a bar. My choice was always vodka and soda.

What have I been doing NOT ordering martinis all these years?

Now in the going out mode with our hard-to-wrangle-schedules friends, we attempt another Hollywood night. We head to Sunset and Vinyl (a little hidden bar upstairs from a pizza joint).  Guess what I order? Guess! Guess!

Yup.

And it’s good.

Mads says, “why do you think I always order them? It is a great drink and you only need one.”  She’s right. Zappy and Roni show up and we head to dinner somewhere nearby.

A few weeks ago, Zappy and Roni invited Shaka and me to Taylor’s

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It had been so long since I had been to any of these places cuz…I don’t eat steak (and contrary to the joke I started this with, I actually applaud vegans, even if I only dabble). But my goal has changed to follow the martini. I don’t eat sushi either but I go for the sake. Same theory here.

A co-worker has told me about Colombo’s in Eagle Rock. She said the drinks are good and strong and the ambiance is dark and red, which I seem to be drawn to these days.

Guess where I will be heading next?

I love a good martini chase!

Long live vermouth! Cheers!

 

 

 

 

PS I LOVE YOU

After taking a hard look at my diet and debt practices, it was time to face reality. I had been doing a lot of “investing” in me, ha! But I wasn’t yet getting a return on that investment other than in hiking poundage and interest rates. I used to live much cheaper, but I also wasn’t happy. I wrote about how I shifted into happiness through a process I called Katification. https://poppeacock.com/2014/07/14/katification-of-me/ The miraculous thing to me was that it had nothing to do with making more money or cutting costs. It had everything to do with shifting focus on what I wanted and what I felt I deserved. It worked. But as with anything, if you stop paying attention to your life, you can slip, even if it’s in too much “self-care.” So here I was, knowing that summer spending was upon me, Zappy wanted to do our annual girl’s trip to Palm Springs. It was going to to be a little tight financially. But Zappy is about to go back to school and we never see Jazzy anymore since she is always on the go go go with work and her man. So this felt like an important trip we just HAD to to take. My dad once said to me that you won’t remember the bad stuff around getting to a fun trip…you will only remember the fun experience. So I said yes!

It was exactly what I needed. I think it was what we all needed. Even though the film, “Wine Trip” was a bust (though I love all the actresses in it), it’s that kind of reunion with your friends that needs to be fostered and happen as often as schedules and your wallet will allow.

Every year, we rent a mid-century modern home with a pool. This year’s was perhaps our favorite (that bar is pretty high already). 

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Because I had been doing a LOT of spending on myself, I forgot that I needed to be being good to myself. And that meant living on purpose. Being present. And I found it was quite easy to be just that. It was absolutely fantastic!

Our friend J has a condo in PS and happened to be there as well that weekend. His place was just a mile away, so it was like the best of all worlds! Visits and instagram-worthy dinners and late night swimming conversations but not having to double up on accommodations.

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His place was a dream as well!

 

 

I was reminded that so much of what gives me fulfillment is connecting with my friends. They have such great taste, personalities, stories and love, that just hanging out with them made me feel a certain level of wellness that I had lost.

 

 

I also love these trips because we drink, eat and partake of the merry herb with no place to be but at the house. We burn palo santo and set intentions. We sing karaoke and play games. We watch cheezy movies like, “Always Be My Maybe” which will now remind me forever of PS even though it doesn’t take place there. And it turns out Randall Park is a crush of one of the ladies (I won’t say who, but just know, we ran with it, since he is nothing like anyone she has ever dated or her husband).always be my

We share summer beauty products (I mean…self care, right?) like hydrating hair cremes or (not sponsored) Supergoop Sunscreen oil. It smells amazing and works.

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Before leaving LA, I got my first spray tan. It was probably my last too because I can’t be trusted to maintain that kind of beauty treatment. Plus, I couldn’t tell that I had missed certain areas of sunscreen and came home with a nice red sunburn when the spray tan wore off. But that first night…I looked super tan and rested!

Zappy made an amazing orzo salad and Mads made a rice noodle salad both with fresh mint and fresh basil. We drank refreshing cocktails and sampled delicious, homemade romesco.

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The next day, J left back for LA and our other friends Roo and Col were in town celebrating their anniversary sans enfants. They stopped by for a cocktail and we all almost forgot this is not our normal lives. Bossa Nova played on the speakers and we cranked the A/C as we shared more stories and connected as you only can on vacation.

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The next morning, Jazzy had to leave back for LA before we did.

We bid adieu to the house.

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Zappy, Mads and I were not ready to call the vacation done and headed downtown for breakfast. Where to go? So many options, but not wanting to have a crazy wait, Mads brought out her superpower. She can find THE perfect place in ANY situation. Though I am prone to hyperbole, this is not an overstatement. She really is that good.

We were getting hangry.

And *poof* out of nowhere and very casually, she’s like, oh, let’s go to the Purple Palm. So we did. And no regrets. In fact, I want to go back with Shaka. If our weekend had a more 60’s mid century vibe, this breakfast locale (part of the Colony Palms Hotel) had an old California, adobe, bougainvillea vibe.

 

 

It was the perfect way to end a pretty perfect weekend!

Like a retreat from another time, I was in the best head space to conquer the real world with the diet/debt situation that was still waiting.  Stay present. Stay connected.  And find the fun, meaningful moments in between the obligations.

 

 

Lake AroHay – Memorial Day Weekend (Part 3)

The Sunday of Memorial Day weekend (no need to shame me that we just passed the 4th of July weekend – that’s coming – probably right in time for Labor Day – HA!) we planned to head to my cousin’s mountain home in Lake Arrowhead. Chachi said that his mom (who was from Japan) would pronounce it Lake Aro Hay. We kept calling it that all the way up there. It made it feel like she was still with us.

The last time we went to A’s place was Thanksgiving weekend a few years ago. It was moody, rainy, inclement and my car was having transmission smells. But it was around the time that Chachi had just gotten his Contractor position at the Mouse House and we were happy for it!

This time, it was summer and my car’s transmission was a-ok, so we were good to go!

We weren’t staying the night, though there is room. We thought we would be hanging with A, L (A’s hubby) and PinkyStrong (her 8 year old daughter you never want to find yourself in a pinky war with. She will win. And you will cry).

But when we got there, we saw A’s bro and his fiancee out front with L.

We walked inside and found 2 other families: children and animals!

If we had wanted to stay, room was looking slim. But A, being the kind of hostess like my mom, would have just made it work.

A’s friend wanted to go for a hike, so A, Chachi and I all invited ourselves along.

It is so pretty up there. A is kind of a fitness beast and says she runs this trail back and forth sometimes just to alleviate some of her energy. I got tired just listening to her, let alone ACTUALLY hiking. Chachi was impressed I was doing so well since when we hike, I take way more breaks. That’s what public shame will do when you are vain like I am – you suck it up!

On our hike/walk, A got a call from some friends of hers who live near her in the city but who also have a place up there. They were having their own little Memorial Day soiree and wanted to know if she could come.

She did, with the caveat that her 11 guests could come. No problem, said the hostess! We would just have to bring a little extra food.

These friends of A’s are very unique: genius, friendly and generous, but odd.

Chachi and I looked at each other and thought, we will stay for maybe a half hour and then head back. We got our hike in. We got our family time in. We got our mountain adventure in. We could leave the party and take a gander at the lake before the sun went down. That was the plan anyway.

Our party caravaned it to the other party.

We all got out, with mouths agape at the size of this “cabin.” It was HUGE!

The minute we walked in, we were noticed someone playing the piano (the host’s brother-in-law – also a genius intellectual) and some delicious food being prepared by the hostess. Homemade pesto filled our nostrils and wine started pouring. On the grill, the host was making grilled fish with a marinade. I don’t eat fish, but it looked like it would be good. This party, like my cousin’s was filled with more children and more dogs. Both groups were awesome! The kids later put on a dog show for all the adults. I swear some of the dogs looked at us like, “Thank god you arrived. These kids are making us jump and sit and stay – and they can barely do that for themselves!”

The other guests were just as interesting and just as nice! It was the kind of party that felt cinematic! Awesome stories, unique adventures and lots of generosity, all surrounded by high ceilings and a lit fireplace.

We stayed much longer than intended, but it was worth it. Chachi’s philosophy is to say yes to as much as he can. He figures that better things happen when you do that. He wasn’t wrong.

Regretfully, we finally peeled ourselves away and drove to see the lake just after sunset.

We pulled the car over and took it in.

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Down below, amidst the lighted homes, you could hear the sounds of people having a good time and the smells of bbqs.

Lake Aro Hay hadn’t disappointed at all. If fact, with all the planning we had done the entire weekend, we hadn’t planned on feeling as content, blissed out and surprised as we did.

With a slice of the various adventures feeling like mini vacays in our pockets, we smiled and drove back to the city.

 

 

 

 

 

Guess…who has a museum – Memorial Day Weekend (Part 2)

As we quickly approach 4th of July, it is apparent that I am behind. I wanted to do a 3-parter, if you will, about Memorial day weekend. It was quite packed and unexpected.

Saturday, after tripping the town fantastic with Mads and Mr. Mads, Chachi and I had a relaxing morning. There is a facebook friend and real life acquaintance who is in the art world. Lately, whenever he posts anything, I tend to pay attention because it is usually awesome. He had been at the 14th Factory right as it opened (we followed suit and loved it!)

 

He had also posted about the Marciano Art Foundation which had just opened (yes, Marciano as in Guess jeans). After seeing that online tickets weren’t available until June for July entry, I somehow was able to get in (persistence and distrust of being told NO- pays off). Chachi and I made our way through town to the looming building (former Scottish Rite Freemasons building). We loved it! If you know Chachi and me, you know that we have a lot in common. We also are VERY different. I am fast and intense. He is more deliberate and chill. So it was in our best interests to separate at our own speeds to savor the exhibits.

When the Marcianos bought the building from the Freemasons, a lot of things were left behind. Like wigs the men would wear in performances. So, naturally, there was a wig museum

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There is an area that is a library or a relic space, where they exhibit all the other left-behind Freemason stuff (photos, documents, outlines, rules, awards, etc). That is one, weird cult. Think Eyes Wide Shut with wigs for men. Wait—were there wigs for men in Eyes Wide Shut? It’s been awhile – I digress).

One of the guys working there told me that some of the most illegal stuff happened here. Whoa! What does that even mean. What makes something more illegal than something else? Sinister? Twisted? My mind was reeling and it made the photos of this closed fraternal organization leap out with even more bizarre chills.

And the signage from some of those meetings and performances were kind of WTF-ish.

There were several levels to the museum. Some interactive, some visually stunning and large.

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Hollywood is backwards

Hollywood is backwards

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Some were small, but gave quite a punch.IMG_0067

Farts and nose-picking make me laugh. Unless I am trapped in a car when you are doing either. Then I will scream, “this is why i can’t have nice things!”

Some of the items and artists have work at the Broad downtown, so it was slightly familiar but nothing that I don’t mind seeing again.

There was one film that really moved us. It was by artist  Yael Bartana called “Inferno.” The music in it stayed with me long after we left.

There was a sign/art that I was drawn to.

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But I tend not to tell jokes, I tell truths that make you laugh. Boom!

At least I hope you are laughing. Are you laughing? Please laugh. I need you to laugh! Who needs you anyway.

Maybe the joke is on me. Shit.

Perhaps I am too sensitive for the sign/art.

It was a gorgeous day, and from a balcony that looks out on LA, you almost feel as if you are in LA from another decade. Or maybe that was what it looked like when we were there. Or with the filter I used.

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With all these museum trips, you might think Chachi and I are cultured and shit.

Well, you would be right. We are cultured AF!

You can tell by our language. Lol.

 

 

 

 

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?)).

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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).

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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!),

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

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.