Residue from the Cult-of-Personality

I was a little surprised to be getting a call from Faye the day before we were gonna meet for brunch. We usually text.

I was out running errands and took the call.

“Do you know who Caroline Calloway or Natalie Beach are,” she asks.

I don’t.

She begins to tell me about them.

Caroline Calloway  is an Instagram influencer who has also been accused of scamming her followers for a “Creativity Workshop” that failed. She has been compared to the likes of Billy McFarland (Fyre Festival CEO), but I wouldn’t go that far. Caroline seems to take her critics to the bank as she turns their insults into merchandise. She became Insta-famous for writing longer (bloggish) captions on her IG posts before anyone else was doing that. She had a college friend who was like her invisible, talented, ghost-writer side- kick, named Natalie, who helped write some of those captions. Things were sort of good. Then they weren’t. And the friendship ended. Now Natalie has written an article for “The Cut” and before it came out, Caroline was giving it press in her anxiety of what was to be written.

It did come out. And now, Natalie has a deal with Ryan Murphy for the rights.

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Faye wanted me to read up on it for our brunch the next day so that we could discuss, since we both love all things pop culture, real housewives and social media. It also touched a nerve with regard to fame, friendship and that elusive quality of being IT.

We met at Faye’s and walked to   Loupiotte Kitchen   in Los Feliz. It was HOT outside. Not cool, global warming! (ha literally). These temps lately have been making my eyebrows sweat off. Actually, just one eyebrow. Which is worse, because it looks like I gave 1/2 a shit. It never looks like I put the effort into it that I did. And it definitely never looks like the cool, no make-up/make-up, effortless look the French girls have like   Camille Rowe.

I used to live in Los Feliz but it’s been awhile since I have walked to brunch there. So much has changed (she said with the sort of awe of a person who has been gone from her hometown for ages). Loupiotte was a perfect choice! If I can’t have French style, I can have French brunch. We sat down and ordered our food with a side of the pastries sampling (can you say petit pain au chocolat? YUM) The food came fast and the oat milk latte (you heard me) I ordered was fantastic!

So Faye and I discussed the whole Caroline/Natalie saga as if it were our jobs.

But it began to turn into something much more. We discussed why the story touched a nerve. How, when you’re young (though it’s not only reserved for the young), you are trying to figure out who you are and you find people in your life that spark you. So much of the time, those sparking people are incredibly toxic. Which is why your friends and family scratch their heads wondering what you see in that person.

We pondered are we more a Natalie or a Caroline? Or both? And Faye pointed out that your answer of who you think the villain is depends on your own experience. Were you an alpha or a beta in those relationships? I have been both. I never think of myself as the villain, however I told her that in high school, I wrote so many papers sympathizing with the antagonists that my teachers started to worry for me.

Caroline is pretty. But she’s not the most gorgeous woman you will see. And Natalie describes herself in more understated adjectives, however, from the rare photos, she isn’t unattractive. What makes someone like a Caroline shine, while someone like a Natalie feels sidelined? Privilege plays a role, as do certain influences and experiences from a young age. But really, a lot of it is how you see yourself and value your own worth. We both agreed that neither of us saw either as the villain. But that Natalie’s article almost birthed Caroline into a literary character. Maybe she already was and Natalie captured it. We love messy, complex women. And we also don’t.

Our discussion continued as we talked About how society is training young girls to be strong and speak their minds but that there is always a limit. Who decides that limit? Why do people love an underdog but only to a point? Why do people love to hate/watch social media posts about the wealthy/successful/clever/narcissistic? Schadenfreude is a component, for sure, but I think there are more layers. We opened the vaults to our own experiences with these situations. About giving our power away to people so easily. About our own culpability in those moments. About the lessons we now can say we learned.

Loupiotte was busy. But we seemed to fade into our own world. No one pushed us to leave or hurry up. The vibe in there was lovely. Our discussion rambled into various phases of hypotheticals about social media and devil’s advocate stances to oppose. I hadn’t had that kind of marathon philosophical/social/real world kind of discussion since post-college, I would imagine. Or perhaps when I was high in Palm Springs on one of my many girls’ trips (but who can remember? ah weed).

We met the owner (an effortless French woman) and paid our bill. We continued our discussion walking up Vermont Ave, peering into shops. Once back at Faye’s, we began to talk about other things that were equally important but which we hadn’t given enough time. Then, her cell rang; her mom. My cell rang; my dad. It was strange that we had been talking about youthful experiences and behaviors, only to have our parents tell us it was time to go home and get ready for the week.

Faye looked at her phone to see her IG showed a post of Caroline at Glossier here in LA. We laughed. We have no idea why this girl is interesting. But we follow her anyway. I guess we will continue to try and find the answers. Maybe youtube has a video on it. Don’t mind me while I do some research.

 

And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.

Hello Lovelies!!!! So glad to see you again!

The last week of August, I spent with my family at the beach. It was as serene as it sounds. We saw dolphins and sea lions daily and went into the surf sometimes multiple times a day.

My sister and I would go the roof of the house and watch the sunrise every morning.

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And we would sit on the beach to check out the sunsets at night.

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We promised ourselves this year, we would eat healthier than past years. Maybe we did. But probably not. Shaka and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary with many friends and family coming to join us for a beach day.

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The whole trip was special and time moved slower. I even sat on the beach for probably an hour after everyone had gone back to the house just to watch the waves. It was so healing and personal that even when I wanted to walk back to join everyone, my body just wouldn’t. So I sat. And I let my mind wander.

I did a photo shoot with my niece and sister by these really cool murals at the end of the beach.

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Then on our last day, it was like Benny Hill music as we all scrambled to get everything cleared out and packed. My sister and family headed to LAX for their international flight, my dad and his wife headed back to AZ and Shaka and I headed back to Los Angeles.

It’s not the heat…it’s the humidity…and the fricking heat! GAH!

So many activities happened the next week. Summer heat was still there, but the vacation was over.

So much hot. So much sweat. So much laundry.

But you do what you gotta do. And if I am reapplying makeup and deodorant and bringing day to night outfits, then that’s what’s gotta happen.

Christia invited me to an Emmy’s rooftop party in Hollywood. She and I are working on a project that tbh is taking a little nap at the moment. We decided that this was going to be the night, the project gets reignited. We would socialize and make connections and see where the night takes us.

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It was…and I hope I am not overstating this…a BRILLIANT night!

We met so many incredible people. Publicists, managers, actors, creators, agents, writers…the list goes on. As the sun set on sunset and the market lights turned on, the drinks were flowing and the laughter continued.

One of the people we met mentioned this building used to be CBS Radio where they recorded Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”

My dad had just told the story while were at the beach that when he was 7 years old, he got to be on the radio show. For years, there was a vinyl recording of my dad talking to the host about how his parents (my grandparents) met. Years later, a jilted lover of my dad’s broke the vinyl record in half. (she really was a BISH). But the story when he was on the show was that before the recording, the kids were given a tour of the studios. My dad was anxious because he thought the tour would make them miss the show (THEY WERE THE SHOW – lol) so he was not really paying attention.

The lobby of where the Emmy’s party was held was the same lobby that my dad had gone through to go to the recording.

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It was like a weird time warp.

A couple days later, I was invited to DreamWorks Animation’s wrap party for their new, upcoming release, “Abominable” and I LOVED IT!

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It was a great film and a fantastic party!

Saturday, I wanted to sleep in, but I had scheduled a long overdue facial (a Christmas gift from Shaka) for 9am, so off I went to European Secret Skin.

Usually, I look like I have measles after I have been for a facial (extractions + sensitive skin = no good look for me) but this facialist was great. I added on an oxygen treatment and voila…no measles look!

I get back home and Shaka says he is craving Pink’s hot dogs. I was like, “ugh…do you know how hot it is out there?”

And he replies, “I called and they have vegan hot dogs.”

I sat for a moment and thought…this heat indicates that summer ain’t over, so let’s have an adventure!

It had been awhile since I had been to Pink’s, and once I had agreed to go, I got a little tourist thrill.

We met some Kiwis in line behind us and our wait to order wasn’t too long.

The vegan dog was pretty good too!

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Here we were, two crazy kids with nowhere to be…the afternoon was ours. We were going to grab an afternoon margarita at either El Coyote or El Compadre, but found ourselves at Guitar Center. I checked out the mics and podcast setups, while Shaka played drums, electric guitar and acoustic guitar. We had tentative plans with Mads and ST8, so we headed back home.

Those plans fell through.

But the next day, I called Mads to see if she wanted to grab lunch, and she instead (in Mads magic fashion) invited me to join her to go to Universal Studios.

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It was late in the afternoon when we headed there. It was the perfect amount of time to wait in line for amusement (ha!).

We hit a couple of fun rides and ate linner (dunch?) in Simpson’s Land.

I got my steps in, for sure.

ST8 hates theme parks but was a good sport. Mads, MamaMads and I got our picture taken with Beetlejuice. He was just as creepy as Michael Keaton.

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As I left Mads’ to head back home and prepare for the week ahead, it hit me that summer wasn’t over at all. I was still enjoying events, friends, activities and the warm summer days (sure, we can call it warm, rather than satan’s breath) like anyone still experiencing vacation.

I know people are starting to go crazy for pumpkin-spiced items and for Halloween decorations and technically, the calendar would say it’s true that fall is upon us.

But maybe summer is a state of mind.

A state of mind, I will keep as long as my weird burn/tan lasts on my shoulders.

 

Time passes slowly when you’re lost in a dream

Bear with me…this is gonna be tricky.

At work, I am currently seated with some early 20-somethings in what we call “The Quad.” I am not 20-something. I am like the person in college who keeps taking classes and is quite a bit older than my peers and can buy them liquor.

One of the Quad members is Nira. She is a bubbly, open-minded networker. We find ourselves talking conspiracy theories regarding the Mandela Effect or about ghosts.

One day, we were talking about the concept of time. I truly can get woo-woo spiritual regarding other dimensions and parallel universes and dreams and such. Naturally, I don’t open with that side of myself when I meet people, but Quad Life has a way of dispensing your personal truths.

So Nira says, “I have a book I think you would like. It’s a quick read. It’s called ‘Einstein’s Dreams’ and it’s about the concept of time.”

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I am not gonna lie, the part about it being a quick read, was what got my attention.  I borrowed it and intended to read it now for a couple of weeks. But hadn’t yet.

Friday, Nira was saying how she had some plans that sounded amazing but there was something that wasn’t squaring as she continued talking. It turns out, she was feeling possibly sidelined by her friends. I (and another co-worker who is quite a master of riding these waters) told Nira that no one can take away her peace of mind or her weekend. If she didn’t feel like going out with them, she could always go to a cool farmer’s market, or dress up in brunch-wear and grab her most mysterious sunglasses and order a drink at the Chateau Marmont and read a cool book while sitting among celebrities. Her weekend was unwritten and it was all up to her how she wanted to experience it. Her time was her own. She left work with a pep in her step.

Last night, I was talking on the phone (I know! The phone!!!! I was just as shocked – who does that these days?) with Mads.

I was telling her about Nira and her plans. And then we started talking about various things. She mentioned an article in the NY Times about these Argentinian bankers in their 20s who have parties in this carriage house in NY (a block from Gramercy Park). She said it reminded her of the parties we used to throw when we were single.  We had the best parties. But it wasn’t just the big blow outs. It was also the little soirees or the spontaneous get-togethers. Or the nights checking out cool restaurants or strangers’ parties.

I told her how Shutterfly sent me a reminder of certain photos and I was taking a trip down memory lane as well. I joked that it seemed like we went out almost every night. And she said, “I think we did.” Which sounds about right.

 

 

 

 

Zappy seems to have a different feeling about those times vs. the present. She has a line of demarcation where that was then and this is now. Mads and I both see it more like part of the same stream but a different landscape. I don’t look at how our parties were a “back then” kind of thing. Yes, we were all single. Yes, we were broker. But it still feels like part of the whole. As Mads mentioned, we just had Shaka’s bday party at her house this summer and that kind of lush summer fete doesn’t feel that different from other nights we used to have. I agree with her.

Maybe that’s what keeps us thinking young. Or maybe it’s delusion. Time is a funny thing. And it’s all perspective, isn’t it?

We started talking about how there are certain people we know who are older than we are, but who keep grabbing life by the balls (er, horns?) and living the hell out of it.

She said that at her job, the summer brings “special guest stars.” Those guest stars range from art repair people, to the construction workers fixing up areas of the buildings. At lunch, they all gather and tell fascinating stories of their travels or their lives or their experiences. Mads has always been a magnet for cool shit. But she is also very open to it. There are always people in the world who could meet those same guest stars, and be like, “meh” and miss out on that kind of connecting. Hearing her stories ignited something in me. I love those kind of moments. Plus, I had just come back from visiting Luce, a beautiful, spiritual soul who reads coffee grounds. I hadn’t seen her since last year and it was such a wonderful afternoon. My coffee ground reading was great (as was the strong coffee – nom nom), but we also connect on a truly deep level. She has lived all over the world and has had such unique experiences. I left there with a pep in my own damn step.

So today, after working out, I decided to begin the quick read of “Einstein’s Dreams.”

It was quite funny how the timing of all that I experienced this weekend seemed to line up with the book. There are various scenarios about how societies perceive time. In one scenario, people age in reverse. In another, you live your entire life in one day; one sunrise and one sunset. At first, it felt like sort of random little stories, but as I kept going, I could feel something in my brain rewiring. And the even stranger thing was the stoppage of time that occurred as I was reading. I didn’t feel rushed or like I was wasting time or have any kind of Sunday-itis. I felt calm. And like the world had just opened a hallway of more opportunities.

Or maybe that is how I perceived it.

“Each time is true, but the truths are not the same.”
― Alan Lightman, Einstein’s Dreams

I am glad that I have people in my life that I feel connected to, even if our truths aren’t the same.

These bonds endure, regardless of time.

 

 

Fairy Tale of Hollywood

My expectation and excitement for “Once Upon A Time…in Hollywood” was off the charts! The trailer! The cast! The iconic filming locations! And Quentin!

A facebook friend, (I have met in person more than a few times) a curmudgeon journalist (CJ), was RAVING about the film. And he rarely raves about anything unless it’s about obscure musicians.

So Friday night, I bounced my energy into a request to Shaka that we go see the film.

“I don’t know how long it’s been that I have seen a movie on opening night,” he says.

“YES!!!!!”

But CJ had mentioned seeing the film in 35mm. So Shaka, taking CJ’s recommendation seriously says his only request is that we see it in 35 mm.

Well, the Arclight was showing a LOT of screenings but the next 35mm version was at 11pm on Friday. It’s a 2 hour 40 min flick. Um…

So we buy tickets for Saturday, happy with our decision.

Saturday morning, we wake up to find out that Mads and ST8 had gone to the opening night 7pm show in 70mm! Shaka was like, “Aw man! We should have seen it in 70mm!”

I had no retort because I would have seen the film projected on a sheet at this point. Then we see photos of Zappy and Roni who went to the screening AFTER Mads and St8!!!!! We really should have rallied.

But regrets aside, we went to the Saturday matinee to see it in 35mm. And it that kind of timing was fine by me.

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I will not spoil anything, but I will say, my expectations were not exactly met.

BUT BUT BUT I loved it!!!!

AND, it stayed with me for the next week.

A friend of mine’s daughter is in it and is fantastic!

Another friend’s brother is in it! So many cameos.

So many layers.

Mads, Zappy and Jazzy and I are regulars (well not as much lately) at El Coyote. In the film, Sharon Tate and her friends are seen in El Coyote (where Sharon had her last meal). I was under the assumption I knew where the booth they sat was. In the film, Sharon and her friends are ushered to a different table.

With Quentin’s attention to detail, I was wondering if he was wrong…or I was.

I was a little uneasy typing Sharon Tate El Coyote last meal booth

But I did. And every result said that it was the correct booth in the film.

Mads and Zappy and I were texting how much we all loved the film and wanted to meet up to go over our thoughts on it.

Musso and Frank’s or El Coyote. I voted for El Coyote cuz…chips.

So we gathered in a booth and caught up on our weeks. I mentioned something about someone I met being good good looking and Zappy sighed, “Talk about good looking…BRAD PITT!”

And just like that, we were on the topic that brought us together to drink margaritas.

Two of my co-workers did not like the film. Like, at all. When I told Shaka, he thought it was because they are too young to understand the tapestry of the culture at that time. I mean, we are too, but we are still closer to that time than my co-workers. Zappy thought it was because younger people are used to the idea of crazy groups rather than just crazy individuals. And back in 1969, the stakes were pretty high for letting go of your innocence to understand that dark group-think was present. Mads added that it’s quite a polarizing film for these various reasons.

I asked Mads if she knew where the actual booth was. She thought it was where I had thought it was. She tried to nudge me into asking the waiter. If I felt weird typing that shit, I sure as bubs wasn’t going to say it out loud to someone. Plus, I kind of liked knowing I may be wrong. I never wanted to sit in the booth I thought it was. I don’t need any ghost encounters or weird vibes with my guacamole. But if I didn’t know, then all booths were safe. A sort of bastardized Schrödinger’s cat experiment.

The CJ was deleting people on social media who were trashing the film before they had seen it. Shaka supported that. I get that it’s not just a movie for some. It’s more about what the movie represents.

I found it intriguing how the Manson story was always in the background, weaving its way through the film, building tension when you see the world of the past, intersecting with the world of the future.

Mads, Zappy and I decided we definitely wanted to see it again.

One of my favorite visuals in the film was watching a dusk shot of neon signs all over LA turning on to welcome evening. Its significance felt like the end of the line for some of the characters, the end of the literal day, the end of a summer of innocence and the end of an era. Also it felt like it was signalling the end of the film (which was fine since I needed to pee).

As we left El Coyote and headed to the parking lot to get our cars (under one of those flickering neon signs), we waited in a longer line than I had EVER seen. We surmised it was due to the film’s release.

How meta.

I drove back home with warm summer evening air, barely breezing my skin as I drove past the Hollywood Blvd, and then passing the crowds at the Hollywood Bowl.

I love this town.

I love its history – both the roses and thorns.

I love the industry.

I love films ABOUT this town.

I love good storytelling.

I love fairy tales, even this  Tarantino-esque form of one.

And although my expectations were not met in some ways, I loved this film for things I never expected! That a movie like this can spur on conversations that lead me to a night like this.

A weird happily ever after.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unboxing a Friendship

At a job that is in the industry, but isn’t that creative, I met Christia. It was friend love at first sight!

We have the same birthday and the same ideas on spirituality, creativity, positivity and productivity (all the ty words – lol).

Her sweetness is juxtaposed with her silent toughness. She laughs a lot even though her job is challenging. Most people would be happy to have accomplished the work she has. But she isn’t most people. She doesn’t brag and she doesn’t rest on her laurels.

She is also a fire spinner, a dancer, a singer, a producer, a writer and an actress.
She is many more things but I don’t want to make you think she is super human, though I believe she just may be.

This year, we celebrated our birthdays over high tea and she told me that the song she had recorded was finally getting made into a video. She was producing it and gathering her team.

She asked if I wanted to be a part. OF COURSE!

Not sure how I could help, but I wanted to just absorb it all.

I told her I could be as useful or as invisible as she needed me to be.

In May, on the day of the shoot, she picked me up at the crack of dawn, perky and looking fresher than a person who was about to be the producer and the star of a long shoot day would normally be.  Her car was packed in tetris form with craft services (some store bought food and some home made by her) and costumes.

A mutual friend of ours who is in the industry said to me, “you are going to learn so much.” I had worked on sets, both in front of the camera and behind and had even produced a few things, so I was a little taken aback by that comment, but egos are a funny thing.

I wasn’t planning on NOT learning. But I wasn’t in it for the lesson, if you dig.

I won’t get into too many details of the shoot other than Christia brought the energy, the organization, the fun, the creativity and the love to the set. She gathered a top notch team of people. Her make-up artist had created lashes that Lady Gaga had just worn to the Met Gala.

The downtown LA loft space was stunning. My mouth was either agape or smiling.

I put out the food Christia had prepared and was dubbed Crafty since everyone assumed I was the caterer, managing craft services (I wasn’t). But I  did make the coffee strong (no complaints) and I did somehow sense when to shift from breakfast food and then put out the lunch food and then snacks as there wasn’t a clear distinction of a “lunch break.” Maybe I was crafty – ha. Some of the crew, I respected from afar but would never warm to, while a few others, I was instantly drawn to. There was such a level of creative talent, that it was overwhelming in the best way.

There were lots of costume, hair and make up changes. The set and art direction were fantastic!

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It was a long shoot day but it ended with Christia taking Shaka and me to dinner and us recollecting all the adventures.

Our mutual friend had been correct. I learned a ton that day! Some lessons were production based. Some were personality based. And some were just knowing how far I have come in my own personal growth as a friend and as a creator. Witnessing how Christia handled this day and her own personal journey was quite rewarding.

Today, her video dropped and I stayed up last night to watch the premiere. I am so excited and proud of her for who she is and what she accomplished and what she will still create.

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Piñata Lady Geeks

My mom has a lot of opinions.

And two opinions she had about me are these: 1) she likes my writing (more than my singing, comedy or acting) and 2) she thinks I should be an eyeglasses model.

I used to have better than 20/20 vision, but things have changed.

I used to be vain about my excellent vision, but things have changed.

I now wear glasses for reading.

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These days, I lean into the vision challenge I face when I am trying to read something in tiny print or in low light.

One such place was dinner the other night. Zappy, Mads, Jazzy and I reconvened to sip margaritas and celebrate. I hadn’t seen Jazzy since Palm Springs. Both she and Zappy had had birthdays in the interim.

Happy birthday, ladies!

All three women had experienced a week of highs and lows.

Like an exhausting roller coaster.

Uncharacteristically,  my week had just been a little tiring, but not turbulent.

So I just listened.

At one point, Mads and Jazzy were talking among themselves. Zappy, with a little margarita verbosity, turns to me to ponder deep thoughts. Her comments felt like they were seeking an answer. To clarify, I asked, “do you want me to weigh in? Do you want to know what I think?”

She did. So I told her what I thought. When I was done, she looked at me and said, “You’re good.” Aw.

As the dinner was coming to a close, we had gone back to laughing and gabbing and celebrating their birthdays. All their troubles seemed far away from this moment. Zappy pulled out her glasses, and I don’t know how or why it happened, but we all took turns wearing them. And then we took headshots with them.

Mads said, “it’s the Sisterhood of the traveling computer glasses.”

I almost peed my pants I was laughing so hard at all our expressions. Especially Zappy’s. And they were HER glasses!

Jazzy sent us a collage of all the shots the next day and told us her co-worker called us: a Piñata of Lady Geeks.

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Kind of true. IF our faces were a piñata, like Dora the Explorer or Nemo.

I think I will send the shot to my mom, in case she gets the inclination to send my photo in to an eyeglasses modeling agency.

Or just on her fridge so she can tell people who come visit her how I could have been a contender. Or a piñata.

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.