I am in Urgent Care for two things. Neither are causing me pain. But they have the potential to be alarming.
I wait for the doctor as I watch the faucet in the room.
It’s a slow, inconsistent, barely noticeable release. But it’s all I can focus on.
One of the issues seems to be caused by a latent reaction to the antibiotics that wreaked havoc on my system after the infection from my latest round of treatments for Bladder Cancer.
The other issue is my face being a red leather texture. It looks like a sunburn. It could be a reaction to food, or a lotion or the fact that I have been doing a lot of crying.
My cousin (2nd cousin once removed) who I have known all my life passed away in the middle of the night on Saturday.
Shaka and I drove to her house Friday night to say our goodbyes as she got released from the hospital in hospice care. As we drove through South Pasadena to a home I have been to for countless gatherings, I looked at all the old houses in the neighborhood. I thought of the multitude of stories from various generations that were hanging in the wallpaper, stone and beams of these gorgeous old structures. I thought of my cousin and her crazy youthful energy. She was just lucid and celebrating her birthday less than a month ago. less than 5 years ago, she jumped off the Waimea Bay jumping rock during my wedding week surrounded by those much younger than she but who didn’t have even an ounce of her spirit.
And poof, just like that, her journey took a different turn than we ever would have imagined.
She transitioned 2:45am, Saturday morning.
Her story had a period. And I couldn’t fathom that it wasn’t a comma.
I returned the next morning to see how everyone was. All those who had stayed by her side all night long and all week long, actually were walking around in a daze. One cousin was making coffee that no one was drinking. Vegans were eating cream cheese. Ketos were eating carbs. Everyone was waiting for something that had already gone.
The tears flowed.
My face had a strange texture. It looked like high school play makeup face with Raggedy Ann blush circles that couldn’t be covered with concealer.
Saturday evening, I went to Mads’s and ST8’s for dinner. Somehow, I was able to cover the redness on my cheeks. It actually looked like I had perfect skin. I have no idea the wizardry that had taken place, but I was grateful from looking like I had a botched filler procedure. The weather was lovely, and if it hadn’t been for the sadness in my family, it would have been a perfect Spring evening. Mads and ST8 picked up some yummy pho and Shaka and I basked in their hosting and good company.
I watched Elon Musk on SNL when we got home (his presence in the sketches was odd). I fell in and out of sleep on the couch, not remembering what day it was and what had been a dream. The unmistakable voice of Miley Cyrus singing Dolly Parton’s “Light of a Clear Blue Morning,” flowed in and out of my consciousness.
Drip, Drip, Drip.
In the exam room, the minutes slip away imperceptibly.
I wait to see the doctor. I have two issues I want looked at. I have no idea if my background stories will even be necessary.
It takes awhile for her to come in to see me. I actually take a cat nap.
When she walks in, I slowly sit up like I am in my own room. She laughs and says, “Everyone always feels like they should spring up. Take your time.” It wasn’t sarcastic.
It’s Mother’s Day. I ask if she is a mom. She is. I wish her happy Mother’s Day.
She likes my background stories. Not too long but the right amount of information, she says. She is very kind and I am appreciative that nothing is really wrong with me.
She gives me some ointments and meds. The lady at the pharmacy asks if everyone in my family is happy and healthy.
I think, what a strange thing to say in a hospital. But it’s Mother’s Day and the well wishes are flowing from everyone in there.
I smile and say, yes. But I want to say, “NO! I just lost someone. I am here at the hospital for two things that turned out to be nothing but I have spent my afternoon floating through a floaty weekend.”
Drip. Drip. Drip.
I see the afternoon slide into sunset.
I don’t have Sundayitis.
Shaka and I eat a late lunch. He picks up a Thai curry pizza. The flavors go together better than I would have imagined.
I start watching Girls5Eva and it makes me giggle.
So ridiculous, which is what my brain needs.
My brain moves from giggling to gratitude. With this profound loss to our family, it reminds me that all we have is this moment. I am grateful she was surrounded by family in the end.
I am grateful I was able to call my mom on this day.
I was grateful that I was able to enjoy a lovely evening last night with friends,
I was grateful that this morning, I got the chance to read with Faye for her audition. And per usual, we were able to catch each other up on things. Tomorrow is her birthday! Once we are both fully vaxxed, I am taking her out to celebrate!
Drip. Drip. Drip.
Moments, laughs, memories, lives, stories…they all just keep releasing themselves on this journey. Some are beginning, some are ending, some are marked by milestones and some…are just the spaces in between. Nothing to remark on but just as important.
I once read somewhere that a universe exists between every breath.
I wonder if it’s the same between the drips. Those drops, forever held in that moment, lasting for a second, or sometimes longer.
To drop away, to be remembered or forgotten but to be followed by a new drop.
And that new drop circles back in my mind to the Dolly Parton song.
It’s been a long dark night And I’ve been a waitin’ for the morning It’s been a long hard fight But I see a brand new day a dawning I’ve been looking for the sunshine You know I ain’t seen it in so long But everything’s gonna work out just fine And everything’s gonna be all right
Once, on a vacation to Palm Springs with Mads and Jazzy, we didn’t do our usual ritual of renting a midcentury modern home with a pool. I think funds were low or we couldn’t get enough people together. So we stayed at a cute little motel turned hotel with a motel-ish like pool. It was nice. But Mads being Mads said we should head to the Parker Palm Springs and use their pool. Jazzy and I were a little nervous at the idea of being a trespasser and the potential following embarrassment. But Mads assured us this was gonna be great. She was right. No one kicked us out and we enjoyed a nice pool-side afternoon. For me, it was during a lean time where Shaka was between gigs and I hadn’t fully understood how to best use our resources. I found myself being covetous of anyone looking like they were having a good time with money.
One of the things I noticed at the Parker pool that day was watching room service being delivered to the guests. Men and women in crisp uniforms bringing coffee in silver French presses to rooms just beyond my view. I was so envious that this wasn’t my life. I have since learned how to harness every moment as “my life.” Because it is. I mean, there I was at the Parker swimming among the people drinking their cocktails, looking no different than they were. Maybe they were interlopers too!!!
My thought patterns have changed from those days. I went through the Katification process where I started to shift my thinking. I even bought a silver French press to have at home.
Which is a long way to lead me into this past weekend. Of being grateful of the moments of luxury, of privilege, of health, of safety, of friendships and…well, just being grateful for all that is working.
During Quarantine, Shaka and I have been good about staying home, masking up and social distancing. For a very socially busy gal, this has had some challenges. But having lost a few people in my life to Covid and knowing I am very lucky to be able to WFH, I have weathered the tougher moments.
Shaka and I have had our first doses and are excited that we can start to do more things in the world like we used to very soon.
My hair hadn’t been cut since September 2019. I tried to do some DIY cutting but it…well…it wasn’t good.
Like many stylists, my usual hair woman, had to open and close as the state determined it. Once she was able to open for a longer stint, her appts booked up. I really needed my hair cut and it looked like it would be awhile before I could get in to see her.
In the back of my head, whenever I would look at pictures from 10 years ago, I would notice how I LOVED my cuts from a woman named Nikki. She worked in a mall hair place and she was masterful. I went to her several times. And then, poof, just like that, she moved to San Francisco. I never knew her last name.
When I saw that my usual cutter was so booked up, I tried to locate Nikki. I deep dove. I finally FINALLY found a woman who looked like it could be her but there was no mention of the mall salon so I wasn’t sure.
I DM’d her. I waited.
I got a response back and it was the Nikki I had been looking for!!!!!! Happy dance happy dance!!!
I finally got an appointment! She owns a salon with 2 other stylists in West Hollywood. Her prices had gone way up from when I had seen her 10 years ago but she should have charged more back then because she gave the kind of cuts that always had people stopping me to compliment my hair.
I didn’t care. I was going to pay it. I had thought about this for so long.
So this past weekend, I woke up and made my silver French press coffee and was excited for my day.
Without having gone to any kind of salon or nail place or facial place or massage place this past year, I dipped my toe into the world and saw Nikki!
Her salon is located near the iconic (not sure why it’s a number one tourist spot) Paul Smith pink wall.
The result: I loved reconnecting with her! I loved the cut! I loved the salon!!! I loved being out in the world again (even with a mask)!
I couldn’t resist and took a selfie in front of a wall on a side street after my appointment (you can see the Paul Smith wall in the reflection of my sunglasses).
Later that evening, Mads and ST8 had Zappy, Roni and Shaka and me over for the first time in a long time. Half the group is fully vaccinated and the other half is partially but we work from home. We ordered Lala’s take out and had a really nice evening of catching up, good food and good company on Mads’s patio. The weather felt like summer was upon us and the night blooming jasmine filled our noses. Our social skills, or at least mine, need a little bit of a refresh because there are moments when I seem like an awkward clod. But if the others noticed, they didn’t point it out. The only thing they made fun of was me trying to photograph Mads and her puppy in low light. And even though the pup wasn’t moving, he was blurry in every shot! But Mads wasn’t. ST8 finally said, “just stop…you’re embarrassing yourself,” which only made me want to keep doing it.
The next morning, I got up early to read some audition sides with Faye. She has had numerous auditions and when she needs to read on camera in her apartment, she asks a handful of people to read the other lines via the phone.
This particular morning, there were 4 auditions! And we did it in an hour!!!! I was so happy to help and to get to chat with her. She’s so good at her craft and me, well, I enjoy exercising that muscle memory of a long gone career choice.
After we hung up, Leigh called. We had tentatively planned to go to the beach. But this particular Sunday, the skies were gray and it felt a little chilly.
She still wanted to go. I debated about wearing a swimsuit under my clothes but decided in favor of it, even if I probably wouldn’t put more than my feet in the April cold ocean.
I drove separately from them to Santa Monica. I went into one parking lot by accident and happened upon a crazy scene of masked couples doing group yoga and modern dance with no music. I wondered if I was high. I wasn’t. But I was in the wrong lot, so I made my way to where I was to meet up with Leigh and her family.
Crazily, the weather was better at the beach. The skies were blue and there was a slight breeze.
Her daughters donned their wet suits and went into the water. Leigh and AJ and I lounged on the sand and chatted about life, movies and bitcoins. Leigh said that many of the people in her company are in landlocked parts of the country. For them, this would be a vacation. For us, it’s Sunday. I soaked in the gratitude along with the vitamin D.
Finally, I decided to see how the water was. Her daughters were thrilled. It took awhile but I finally was playing in the water dunked head and all. Leigh and AJ were napping side by side on the blankets. Her daughters and I had really cool conversations. I told them about how an actor on a show we all like was in a play with Faye and that I met him. I actually DM’d him on IG and he responded with the nicest message back. Leigh’s 9 year old screamed out to the ocean, “He DM’d YOU? That is so cool! I wanna DM SOMEONE!!!!” and we laughed.
After many hours of beach time, we went our separate ways. Leigh and her family to Porto’s, and I back to Shaka. It was the opposite of Sundayitis. I felt invigorated! I felt grateful! I felt so happy.
My nose and cheeks, despite having had sunscreen on, started to show a rouge I didn’t expect. I was exhausted. It had been quite a weekend. Not just from the actual socializing and activities, but also all the mental excitement of living a life that felt familiar but still not quite mine.
Just like the afternoon at the Parker Hotel pool, I felt like I had interloped into another person’s life.
Like, a lot of dramatic energy, a lot of positive energy, a lot of pushiness, a lot of love, a lot of impatience and a lot of, well…me.
I bring a lot to a party. I have also been known to dampen it with my energy if I am in a mood or sad.
Shaka is my counterbalance. He has an awesome, warm, patient, calm energy. Our differences work for us.
But when we first started dating, I took his “let’s wait and see” approach to be something that needed my “umph.”
It didn’t. Well, sometimes it did, cuz, let’s face it, things get done around me. But there is a lot to be said for things getting DONE in their own time and not on my agenda.
During quarantine, I have had to come to many realizations.
I wrote in my previous post about how being stuck in an apartment affected my body.
One of the issues that arose from sitting so much was an irritation of the facet joint near my tail bone.
I went to PT and he gave me some exercises. I tell ya, these didn’t feel like they were doing anything. ANYTHING!
It didn’t seem to get better, it didn’t seem to get worse. It just…stayed the same. But diligently, I did my series of exercises, morning and evening. The PT said, they are micro movements but have a big effect after awhile.
One morning, the pain was just gone. GONE!!!!!
Micro movements seemed to be the key I had never known I needed. But I guess it makes sense. You don’t usually go into debt overnight. It’s a trickle, then a flood. You don’t usually gain weight overnight either. It’s from a series of small choices that end up taking over in the long run.
This past weekend, Shaka and I had a zoom call with another couple (Cor and Sar) who are into healing and meditation like we are.
We discussed a lot of things like, what makes something valuable to you. And how quarantine made us look at the hamster wheel we were on before the shut down. Now, as things open up, we had become more judicious with our time and our choices. It’s more deliberate.
The other thing we talked about is how Sar and I have big personalities. We both like to push the envelope and MAKE things happen. Whereas Shaka and Cor are much more measured and chill.
Sar and I, perhaps adopting some of our husbands’ traits, have noticed some positive changes from sitting back a bit. That sometimes, doing nothing while still maintaining a vibration of action, can be quite effective. It’s letting go and replacing “efforting” with downstream thinking.
These past three weeks have been some of the most painful physically for me. But in the midst of that, there were a number of things that I really really wanted to put my energy towards. And then I released it.
The result has been almost magical. I got MORE than I could have asked for.
Situations ended up being better than I could have imagined!
I realized, it’s not that I stopped caring about what I wanted. I just stopped trying to control how I got it.
Micro movements were at hand. I had already done the work, and now it was time to let the puzzle pieces fall into place without me micro managing.
And for someone who thinks, moves and acts big, this sudden excitement over anything micro was a surprise.
It’s hard for me to wrap my head around trying to achieve something without feeling the pressure.
Sometimes you NEED to feel that pressure.
And sometimes, as I am learning, success comes with a series of small acts, moments, movements that if done correctly, can feel so good in a macro way!
I know that Body dysmorphic disorder is a real thing for many people.
I don’t have it.
But I have something like it…in reverse.
Recently, I had my blood work done and though all the numbers were great, I have high cholesterol. It’s been creeping up over the past decade, but in general, it doesn’t run in my family and I eat a diet that they usually give people to lower their numbers. I do eat sugar even though my sugar numbers were looking good in my lab work. But I am overweight. Slightly chubby. Always have been. Perhaps a little heavier than I used to be.
My docs wanted me to go on medication for the cholesterol. I said no. I know that it is because I have not had a lot of movement in my life this past year. Being able to work from home, there were days I never went outside. My apartment isn’t big, so mathematically speaking, I didn’t get a lot of activity.
When I saw the high numbers, I agreed with the docs that I would start walking and working out regularly and get retested.
So a-walking I went.
Every day. Almost. But pretty consistently. Most days, I was logging 10,000 steps. But because of the lack of movement from this past year, I also had some back issues from my WFH set up. Boy, it was a perfect storm of feeling like my body wasn’t working with me.
But I persevered through the PT exercises and kept at the walking.
I haven’t been retested yet, but I am hoping that the numbers will be different when I do.
In the process, I have started to lose inches and a little bit of weight.
Shaka noticed it first. Then my friend, Christia noticed it when she saw me. A co-worker mentioned that she had noticed it on our last zoom call.
In fact, when I looked in the mirror, all I saw was how far I still had to go to look like I thought I currently looked!!!
I was walking with Faye and telling her about this. She laughed and said that it must be a great place to be. She knew too many people who actually had body dysmorphic disorder and that it’s a really dark mindset to have. I told her that my mindset was troubling too. I blamed the way I looked on the dryer shrinking my clothes or someone not knowing the right angle when photographing me. Even selfies I blamed on the angle or the lighting, etc.
It was disturbing to not be aware that I had gotten so large.
How had I missed this? I wasn’t leveling with myself.
The brain is a funny mistress. She will convince you of whatever you want her to.
The other day, I actually thought I looked thinner and was kind of afraid to ask Shaka in case it’s my brain rewiring how I see things.
I didn’t ask him.
Out of the blue he mentioned that he noticed it.
I am so far from where I want to be. But at the moment, the actual reward isn’t being thinner because that wasn’t the goal. It’s to get my muscles back in action and to be healthy.
Mads and ST8 asked if I wanted to join them on one of their walks in the hills. I was like, YEAH, cuz I knew I would be able to handle it better than say, 5 months ago.
Um…so word to the wise…hills are different than flat ground!
It didn’t matter how much I had been walking prior to this, cuz if you aren’t adding in levels, you will plateau pretty quickly.
I felt like a 400 pound man trying to lug my limbs up their hills. Mads said, “We can walk slower. Take your time.” And we did, but I was huffing and puffing and they weren’t breaking a sweat or a hitch in their breathing. ST8 does this walk daily. My fitbit counted it as 45 flights of stairs. Mads asked, “how many flights do you normally do in a day?”
“4”, I wheezed.
She giggled. I would have joined her, but I needed to focus on the new pains in my legs. Oh and to keep breathing.
Faye walks this kind of hilly climb daily as well. When she and I went walking (on flattish ground), I knew that hills or…levels, were going to be the next hurdle for me.
Then my next round of treatments for the bladder kancer happened.
The first session was perfect. No pain with the catheter and minimal pain after.
The second and third week, however, oof. I mean, I am barely able to leave the house from the pain at the moment.
All I am dreaming about now, is the walks.
The main thing I am coming to terms with is that every day is a new chance to work on improvement.
Or just to take a rest when I need to. To stay aware of what my body is really doing. I thought I was getting arthritis at some point last year, but it turns out…now that I have been working out more, I think it was just my muscles pretending we weren’t on speaking terms.
I have introduced my brain and my body back together. It’s not like they are getting along, but they at least say hi to each other.
Once the pain from this round of treatments subsides, I will be out there again in the gorgeous LA spring air, smelling the night blooming jasmine and feeling the strength come back to my limbs. And I will try and get the courage to attack those levels…er hills.
I am heavier and older than I used to be. But I am definitely more content.
I think Faye is right. It is a much happier place to be thinking I look good than bad.
But it has to come with a conscious thought and not delusion. Leveling out my perceptions and the realities has been a welcome change.
Ha, I truly didn’t mean to make you wait to see what happened.
I was going to write about my phone call with Debbie. And how it was so comforting to reconnect with her. She is truly marvelous and funny and smart and savvy.
But what I was also going to write about was that this same weekend, I had had a deep, connecting phone call with Faye. She and I can always get philosophical in no time flat. We just get each other. But this particular call stood out. I don’t know if COVID shut downs are making me reevaluate my relationships differently or if it was just one of those amazing calls.
But it turned out, it was an amazing weekend of calls.
Cuz after that call, that same weekend, I had the same kind of conversation with Mads. And with SG. SG and I had a zoom call and I got to see her cool apartment in Portland. She is another from my past that has come into my present. And it was really great to catch up.
I was going to write about it all in more detail.
But time got away from me.
And then there was the election. A week of stress, wondering if we would stay in this situation with a baby-man president. A week of stress realizing that the differences I share with some family members is no longer about different ideas on policies but that there are actual differences about ethics. And can I live with that? Can I live knowing these friends and family members are a$$holes? Many claiming to be religious too. Ugh.
And even though the party I voted for won and is now in the White House, the idea that it was that close really hurt my heart.
But I digress a bit. Sorry, I meant to be catching you up.
Shaka, Faye and I were supposed to be on a game show. That was going to be a whole story in and of itself. But after multiple zoom auditions and filling out more forms than I do at tax time, we went to shoot. Except we never got on. We sat in a cold sound stage watching everyone else get picked for the team. And there we were, three pathetic figures asking if we could go home. And then getting defiant about it. Plus, my face shield fogged up the ENTIRE day so in addition to having to stay 6 feet apart from my husband and friend, I couldn’t hear them AND I couldn’t see them. AND we didn’t get on the show. I like to think there is a good reason, but sometimes, you just don’t get picked. But we did get free covid tests where we didn’t have to wait in the usual long lines, so there’s that.
And Leigh had a birthday. I asked her what she wanted to do. She told me she wanted to go to the beach. I hadn’t been in a car this entire year with anyone other than Shaka. So Leigh and I talked about it, and we decided we would double up on masks and then drive with the windows down.
It was her birthday, but I felt like it was mine. It was a magical day of cold, clear skies. There were very few people out at the Ventura pier. She and I sat on the beach for hours watching the waves and having the kind of conversations you do with someone you have known since you were 5.
We watched a dog live his best life in the surf chasing birds and waves for an hour, while the owner sat on the sand with a poop bag and a tennis ball.
And then the holidays were upon us. I must say, it was actually an enjoyable holiday season for me because I am usually running everywhere, saying yes to every invitation and baking and cooking a lot. But everything was paced nicely. I dropped off pumpkin bread and gifts to any of my friends who were accepting baked goods. I met up for social distanced walks with a few others. And Shaka and I joined his sister and her husband with masks in their back yard for an afternoon of socially distanced gift exchange and mulled wine.
It was quite calm. And very fulfilling.
I embraced the New Year tentatively (cuz last year’s cries of “2020! Woo hoo!!!! Year of perfect Vision!!!!” didn’t age well). It was nice. A zoom call with Zappy and Mads where we dressed in sparkles and toasted our health and our friendship and to beginnings (and endings).
We didn’t want to put too much pressure on 2021. Or Biden. But we toasted to hope.
And then Leigh called to tell me her mom hadn’t been feeling well. That she was having trouble breathing.
So Leigh took her in to the ER where they admitted her. I was surprised they got in so fast since many of the hospitals at this point were full.
They gave her oxygen and she was feeling better. She even told Leigh that she thought she would be released soon. Leigh’s mom is a strong woman with crazy determination, so Leigh wanted to make sure the Doc didn’t release her based on her mom’s will. The doc told Leigh he didn’t plan to.
I made a concerted effort to start walking daily with Shaka. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to find my groove, my routine. But you meet yourself where you are. And I was in a place of gratitude for my health and my life and my relationships.
Then the Insurrection at the Capitol happened. And I knew that my feelings of unease at how close the election was was coming to fruition. I felt very saddened. And enraged. How much more damage could happen before the Inauguration?
Then I checked in on the group text for Leigh’s mom. One person asked how she was feeling.
I kept blinking at the phone as I read the words that her mom had passed away.
It was like that moment in a movie where the world becomes separated from you and you are just standing there alone. I called Leigh. The sobs shook our call. I called her sister and her niece.
I made a tribute on facebook with all the photos I could find. She called herself Dolphin Di. She was nearly 37 years sober, she scuba dove all over the world, she taught art, she delivered Meals on Wheels, she cared deeply for her family. She was complex, though. She was impatient and could snap and feel wounded. When I was a kid, she didn’t know what to make of me. She thought I talked too fast, too loud and too much. True true true. But as I got older, I think she liked my light and my fun. She had an elfin grin. You had to be careful when looking through her photos of her dive trips because there would be naked boobie shots in the mix from when she would flash the camera. She swam weekly in the ocean with a group of women. After she passed, a few of them gathered in her honor and when they reached the buoy, a pod of dolphins swam by. Dolphin Di was there. Was with them. It’s her laugh I will truly miss. So full. So lusty. So charming.
We are so close to the vaccine being available to everyone. So close.
And yet, death is all around us. Rage is all around us. Sadness is too.
In general, I tend to cry pretty easily.
But I will say that during this past year of COVID shut downs, I was pretty stoic. I was also very hopeful and determined. Determined that I would come out of this time stronger.
The daily walks have now become my salve. I need them. I love feeling the sun on my face. I love looking at the houses in my neighborhood. I love spending this time with Shaka. Our conversations get deeper and deeper. Sometimes, it’s the edibles. Sometimes, it’s just us.
This weekend, I watched, “The White Tiger” and “In and Of Itself”. Last weekend, I watched Promising Young Woman. I adored all three films. All were dark and funny, but they left a lasting impression on me. All three are in some way about how you are labeled in life. Is your life created by your identity? Or does your identity create your life? And can you change your identity? And how beholden are you to how you are seen by others? Strange questions to try and answer when you are quarantined or adhering to stay at home orders. Sometimes I wonder if Shaka and I are the only people around. Sometimes, our bubble is very quiet.
All of this…the films, the talks, the connections, the loss, the changes, the deaths, the beauty, the humor…it’s all been A LOT.
I have been stoic during COVID. I try and be the calming effect for friends who are having a hard time. Or I try and realize this time will end and what did I do with myself during it. I have a made a few epic birthday videos for family members. I am working on other creative projects. I continue to laugh daily and am grateful for life.
But this week, a dam has broken in me.
The tears have been coming and coming. And the pain rocks my soul and my heart so fiercely, that I stutter my words.
I keep saying there has never been a better time to be in a pandemic. We can do so much virtually than we ever would have at any other time. We can have things delivered. We can live in our homes with so many streaming options, it feels weird to complain.
But…maybe it’s because it’s so close to feeling normal that we feel so disconnected. I mean, if we really couldn’t see each other virtually or order food or see anyone, we would really notice the difference. But because it’s like house arrest but not really but kind of…the feelings get messy. Where do you put them? The feelings?
For me, I put them in photography. Or in words. I put them here.
I catch you up.
On my life. On my joys. And my sorrows.
I sing. I dance. I laugh with Shaka at his jokes.
Daily, I time my showers against the food truck in my neighborhood playing “La Cucaracha.” If I have showered before I hear it, I know I am on track.
And “on track” changes daily.
Some days, it’s making sure I don’t lose my mind from a few of my co-workers and other days, it’s making sure I don’t kill my cats while I am working. Some days, it’s making sure I take my walks and other days, it’s making sure I call my family members.
And other days, being on track is just being grateful.
Unless I hear La Cucaracha wafting in the air on a Saturday…then I just laugh.
Cuz there isn’t any way, I am racing to shower on the weekends to the schedule of a food truck.
I thought I was doing well, despite, well, you know…covid.
But after many months of being home and living more in our bubble than many around us, I was craving a home refresh.
But any new furniture or home decor must be able to be delivered, or not too heavy or large if I buy it somewhere and it must be in my budget.
Too many constraints on my wild need to redecorate our space. This refresh would bring me some adventure and change in a time when spring melts into summer into fall and I barely wear pants.
Shaka keeps saying we have outgrown the space. I keep saying, we just need to reorganize.
So I looked around our space to see what I could redo.
Our office/guest room has a tv/vcr combo that is taking up some space. As is the shelf of VHS tapes. I bought some hardware and software to convert them with the tv/vcr combo. I tried it but it didn’t work.
My sister said when she was doing the conversion, she used OBS Studio. I tried it but it didn’t work.
I ended up getting a new computer. It didn’t work.
I got another capture device. It didn’t work.
I sent out an inquiry to work people on our intranet.
First guy said his dad was moving and had a vcr/dvd combo I could have but he wasn’t sure it worked.
Another guy at work had a working vcr but needed to get it back from someone who had borrowed it.
The vcr/dvd combo ended up working like a charm.
Then it stopped working.
Thank goodness the guy with the working vcr was able to get it back and was willing to still loan it to me.
Then…that one started working ONLY with the OBS studio but no sound.
I went to bed racking my brain for solutions but I am not tech minded.
I then bought a head cleaner to see if that would do the trick
Shaka smirked from the couch, “In for a penny, in for a pound.”
It’s true! It’s expensive to send them to be converted but I was on my way to spending more if this didn’t work soon.
I became fixated on making this work. It HAD to work! And it had to work soon. I couldn’t finalize my plans until this first row of dominos fell. I didn’t want to live in a half completed project. I am already living in a half reality as it is.
It reminded me of my friends and relatives who are Trumpers. They are not the 1% but they still believe somehow that he is their savior. It’s quite gross. And distressing. They believe in his cult of personality. They believe his lies. They too, are in for a penny, in for a pound. They double down with vigor and anger as they tell me I am the snowflake or that they won’t live their lives with fear. Though their very tone is quite fearful. I am afraid.
But unlike them, my obsession isn’t based in misogyny or lies or straight out thievery. Mine is all about finishing this damn project. By myself. The only lie I am believing is that I can do it.
I went to Youtube University to learn a new trade (fixing vcrs), but alas, it confirmed what I already suspected. And it’s that I stop paying attention when there are more than 8 steps involved in the first 2 minutes of the tutorial.
Then, I went back to the vcr/dvd combo that had stopped working. It ate a tape. I took off the top of the vcr and started to blow on the inner workings (you might want to take notes, pupils…this here is the technical portion of the lesson – hahahaha). Shaka walks into the living room to see me with an exposed vcr playing and me holding down the tape with my finger.
“Who did I marry???” he laughs
“It’s working,” I cry out like I discovered gold in them thar hills, “It’s FINALLY working!!!!”
I am now nearing the end of the project. Many vhs tapes down. Many hours of watching stuff I didn’t need to digitize like old Bill Mahr or David Letterman or Dharma and Greg promos, Everybody Loves Raymond, Mad TV or other shows I can’t remember. The pile is but a wee stack.
I am finally feeling a win. Once we move the tapes and donate the tv/vcr combo, we can move some furniture around and rearrange things. Move your stuff…change your life!!! My life will be on track!!!!! Okay, that’s a stretch, but it will be some movement.
But during this laborious process, I was finding a time capsule into my past.
I was able to digitize old commercials and old films I was in.
She has been sober for a long time. This tape was made before then and right before her world drastically changed. She filmed her life on her last day (and night) in SF before moving to Ojai.
The label read: To Ginsu Girl from Beecharmer.
I digitized it.
Early in the shutdown, I got back in touch with Debbie. It was like no time had passed, but for sure…multiple lives and experiences had existed in the interim. It was like feeling some movement in a finger that had gone numb.
After I digitized a film we had both been in (actually she was the one who got me the role), I emailed her to let her know that I had a digital version of the film and the SF tape she made for me and did she want it.
The time between hearing back from her was a strange pause because I didn’t want to send her anything that was triggering to her sobriety.
I was in a certain headspace of archiving my memories and projects but that didn’t mean she was.
Currently, there is a comet passing by earth. Shaka and I drove out Saturday night to see if we could catch a glimpse of it. Try and avoid a lot of light, face NNW and make sure it’s right after sunset. But of course, it could be an hour and a half after sunset. Or it could be the middle of the night. You might see it if you are in the mountains or better if you are looking towards the horizon. If you miss it, you will have to wait another 6800 years and I just don’t think I have that kind of patience. We didn’t see it Saturday. We will go again tonight. And if we still fail, we will go again tomorrow.
I feel like this pandemic is like trying to chase this comet. You keep doing things right, do what you’re told, hope for an outcome, but you don’t really know if you’re doing it right. You have to hope.
So day after day, in this pandemic, I buckle down in my new normal. Some days feel easy and then others, I cry at a stoopid commercial that isn’t even meant to be sad.
I am fortunate that I still have a job and CAN work from home. The learning curve of making my dining room table and my slow computer do what my work computer can do was quite arduous. I still haven’t exactly found my groove. Work has been crazy, so I don’t feel like AHHHHH I get to chill and go for walks all day long. It’s actually been a bit of a process trying to figure out a routine that keeps me sane and keeps the dead butt syndrome away.
I can’t believe how much time has passed living in this strange new reality. At first, I was like, I will lose weight, learn a language and also become famous with some amazing viral thing I do. But I gained, lost and gained and plateaued. I didn’t learn a new language. And as for being famous, my friends Faye and Leigh separately laughed like, well, what have you done to BE virally famous? And I was like, I dont know…I thought I would have found it by now. I refuse to get tik-tok, so I watch from the sidelines as hilarious Sarah Cooper gains comedic steam. That isn’t to say she wouldn’t have been famous otherwise or take away from her genius, but her timing with both her rise and her imitations are to be respected.
There is a lot going on right now. Lots of emotions, tension, ridiculous political stances about not wearing a mask (yeah, I said it – wear a f&*king mask, you dolts!), protests for civil rights (YES), militia kidnapping people in Portland (WTF?), family members getting sick from Covid, arguments with other family members who I believe are on the wrong side of history and health, weird medical stuff for me, Shaka and the cats, missing going out with my friends, missing travel (we were supposed to have gone to Europe this past Spring), missing cocktails being made by someone who isn’t me or Shaka, etc. I know others have it much worse and I sound like a brat throwing a tantrum.
So instead of focusing on what I am missing out on, I wanted to write about the things that have been keeping my spirits and energy up (let’s be honest – it’s mostly media).
– TV/FILM —- There are a lot of options at the moment for tv/films what with all the various streaming platforms. Here are some we have enjoyed during this quarantine (links provided).
We got a month of Disney+ to watch Hamilton (we had seen it live at the Pantages in Hollywood a few years ago). I loved it so much! Even though I love Jonathan Groff…what was with the spitting? It grossed me out so much. I wonder if others had to use a different mic from him after he would record for Frozen or Frozen 2. In this time of Covid, all germy things seem more apparent.
We also enjoyed “The Mandalorian.”
And then Shaka made me watch “The Shaggy Dog”, which was actually kind of fun. Though I was like, we are NOT watching old Disney stuff.
Which led us to “The Imagineering Story” which was pretty much OLD Disney stuff. But it was so interesting. Keep in mind, it’s told about Disney BY Disney
We have been binge watching “Community” which has made me very happy. As the seasons go on, I highly recommend taking edibles, cuz I am pretty sure the writers did.
“Palm Springs” on Hulu! Oh man, I was truly missing my girls trip to PS this year, so I would have watched this even if it didn’t have Andy Samberg or wasn’t a comedy or even good. But thankfully, I loved it!!!!!! It doesn’t replace the trip, but it’s a pretty good consolation. Zappy said that when she watched it, it was really hot here in LA and made her NOT want to be in an even hotter desert. If you watch it and want to re-watch it, I highly recommend taking edibles cuz I am pretty sure the writers did.
Of course, “Insecure”, “Better Things”, and “Killing Eve” which have nothing to do with one another except that I love them, they are all shot gorgeously and have amazing casts and interesting story lines. Honorable mention is “Dead to Me”
There are more but I can’t for the life of me remember cuz my brain is melting…or too many edibles.
– MUSIC —– Mads, Shaka, ST8 and I have been randomly texting each other our music finds. When I finally create one of my shows, I want Mads and Shaka’s friend Shawn to be the music supervisors on them. But ST8 is a one-man show of knowing good music and knowing the stories behind them. He is also an Angelino and has a long history with music here. He definitely needs a podcast, and when he starts one, you definitely need to listen. Stuff we have shared back and forth
You can kind of feel the nostalgic, vacation vibe we have all been going for.
– BEAUTY (I have been buying various beauty items. No need for as much lipstick when you put on a mask but I have bought some pretty colors anyway. I also have a lot of great hair and skincare purchases. If you’re interested, let me know. Otherwise, I am only listing the following)
Static Nails – I can’t paint my nails well at all. So I finally gave in and decided to try the press-on nails from Static Nails. My nails look AMAZING! I just wish I had somewhere to go because Shaka is sick of telling me “they look great” and I am not sick of asking how they look. hahahaha. Lowkey, I am still shit at doing my nails because I think I glued some of my skin to the nails underneath but trial and error. hahahahaha. ouch.
– SOCIAL MEDIA – here are some of my fave vlogs and IG sites
Alia – so this is a convergence of different things. My (former) belly dance teacher, Eshta makes gorgeous dance costumes and various items (also face masks I get so many compliments on this). She made a costume for this dancer Alia and mentioned it on fb because Alia was featured in Vogue. I looked her up. She is not only stunning and a captivating dancer, but she is also such a luscious skater. I reached out to my friend, Christia. I am co-directing a music video for her that had to be put on hold but which we will resume another time post quarantine. It features a lot of roller skating. I told Christia to check out Alia. Turns out that Christia (a dancer) was also wanting to get into belly dancing and after watching Alia’s skating footage, I now want to start skating. If you happen to see two Pisces skating and/or belly dancing, you will know it’s us. I just need to find cute skates for these big feet of mine. When I told my sister, she said, “do you remember that Dad broke his hip trying to impress a woman by roller blading? Nothing says youth like a hip replacement.” I will not be deterred. The cool thing is that Alia films and is filmed by another skater Neon Keon and their footage is lovely and fluid cuz they are filming WHILE skating. And I love their music choices too!
So that’s a smidge of things that have been keeping my happiness flowing.
It’s hard, you know? A huge part of who I am is being social. I love seeing the world and interacting in it. I love connecting with my friends and family. I just have to stay in touch as much as I can with people and keep a routine that doesn’t feel so cave-persony.
It’s tiring when every day feels the same, but my goal (besides being virally famous), is to try and make every day have a moment that has never happened before. Kind of like chasing a comet. Even if you don’t actually see it, the trek will be a little outing that you can tell stories about. But I hope we see it so I can tell you about THAT.
I was going to write about this when it happened. And then my birthday extravaganza took place. And then the Stay in Place orders came.
So, today, I will write about it, though it feels like a lifetime ago.
My dad sometimes drives these senior tour groups and on this particular week, the group was in Los Angeles.
They were going to be at the Griffith Observatory one evening. It had been awhile since I had been up there at night. One memory of the sort was when I spent the day with a friend’s kids (twin boy and girl) who were around 10 years old. We explored Hollywood and had lunch and then found ourselves at the Observatory at dusk. On this particular evening, the twins and I saw a line for the Zeiss Telescope. We joined the line and weren’t too far from the front but the line wasn’t moving. The telescope would be open soon, they assured us. This was good, since I hadn’t planned to have the twins out so late on a Sunday. But we waited and waited. Whispers among the adults. Apparently, there are only a handful of people in the world who know how to operate this telescope.
The guy that whose shift was about to begin wasn’t there. And he wasn’t answering his phone. And he seemed to have disappeared. His back up lived kind of far, but they were trying to get him there. The kids were restless but not enough so to want to leave. FINALLY, someone arrived (not sure if it was Operator #1 or his back up) and we took our turn at stargazing through the giant telescope.
As we were leaving, there were several people on the lawn who had their own, personal telescopes out for the public to look through. We wandered up to one guy.
“What is is your telescoped aimed at,” I asked.
In a voice like the comic book store dude on the Simpsons, he replied, “Star Cluster.”
Twin Girl asks, “What’s a star cluster?”
But he heard, “Which Star Cluster?” and proceeded to tell us the numerical name with a manic smugness.
Twin Girl confused by his answer, asked, “What’s that?”
Telescope guy replied, “It’s a STAR CLUSTER!” and proceeded to laugh at his own humor. Twin Girl looks at me. I look back at her with an expression that says, I don’t get it either. We look through the lens at the star cluster. It’s a cluster of stars. It’s pretty cool. As we get in the car, we can’t stop laughing.
We make fun of this interaction for years. FOR YEARS!
Back to current day (pre-Covid Shut Down).
Shaka and I arrive at the Observatory before my dad and his group do. I am shocked that you have to pay for parking up there now. And not just in the lot, but along the road, even if you are quite away down the hill. Parking went from being free to $10/hour. It threw me. So much so, that when I am putting my money into the meter and choosing how long we want to be there, I promptly forget how much it is per hour and I put in 3 hours. Oh well…I mean, I don’t love that I did that, but what’s done is done. I take the parking slip and put it on the dashboard.
We wander up to the lawn where we see several people with their telescopes set up for the public to look through. That part hasn’t changed. What is different, is that each telescope has a little e-board letting you know what they are aimed at.
I gasp. I grab Shaka’s shoulder. There is a little e-board that says, “Star Cluster” and I start laughing. I get in line. I can’t tell if it’s the same guy or not. A woman in front of me asks him about something bright in the sky. “What is that?”
And in that same voice we have been imitating for nearly a decade, he says, “what do YOU think it is?”
She guesses. He says, No
Another person guesses. He says, No.
And yet, another person guesses. He says, No.
As he slightly giggles to himself like Rumpelstiltskin, I blurt out (not sure if I am correct or not), “That’s Venus,” and I take my turn at the lens and look at the Star Cluster.
“Well, yes…that is Venus.” I feel a little bad, but not not a lot bad. I ask him why he loves the Star Cluster.
He says, “My friends make fun of me since I go on about them, but I mean…how can you not? It’s a CLUSTER…of STARS!”
I guess he’s right. When you think of how many of our suns would make up a cluster, it’s pretty cool. I think of the synchronicity of things coming together and joining up to create that experience.
My dad shows up and we wander around the inside and the outside of the Observatory. It is busier than I would imagine. Its not a holiday. It’s the middle of the week and the parking is $$$$. But the crowds are here. I start snapping the evening skyline below us with my dad’s phone (at that point, I was having phone envy with everyone’s newer devices).
My dad was trying to wrangle his group who had already had a tour-filled day. They were heading back to their hotel. Shaka and I decided we would head out too.
My dad’s bus wasn’t too far from ours. He hadn’t paid for his parking and in typical fashion for him, no ticket.
We get in our car with a good amount of time remaining on our parking pass. Up ahead, I see my dad’s bus pull away and another large van park where he had been. We see the driver of the van get out and look at the signs. I could almost feel his disappointment at the prices, as I watched his shoulders slump with a sigh. We pull up next to him.
We ask if he’s planning to be there awhile. His foreign accent is thick and he tells us that his job brought him down here from Seattle and all he wanted to do was see the Observatory but hadn’t had time all week. He was leaving in the morning.
“Not sure how long you wanted to be here, but here’s our parking pass with an hour and a half left on it. Hopefully, you will get to see something you wanted tonight,” Shaka says.
His face lights up!
“Thank you so much! I hadn’t gotten paid on the job yet. Bless you both!!!!”
He fist bumps Shaka as we drive away.
I never felt so good to overpay for parking.
As the city twinkled below us and the stars twinkled above us, we made our way back home.
Obviously, everything’s not alright. But since we are in unfamiliar territory, we need to keep our spirits high even when things are scary and tense. Money, jobs, health, food, supplies, childcare…these are all real issues facing us. Please don’t lose hope. I am trying to keep my spirit up by writing, connecting to family and friends via facetime and whatsapp as well as meditating and playing with the cats. I also felt like singing this song and sharing it with you (please excuse off key moments). Good luck with wherever you are physically and mentally today. We are in this together. And wash your hands.