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.

Natalie’s side of things

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.

 

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.

little box christia black hat

 

Big Little Expectations

This season of HBO’s “Big Little Lies” has left me feeling a little cold (and not in that Monterey fog kind of sit on your deck with a glass of wine cold). The first season held such beautiful imagery and mystique of a No Cal beach community. Paired with the amazing soundtrack, I, like every other fan, was hooked and was excited for this season. Meh. But every Sunday, I still tuned in.

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I was tepid about tonight’s finale. That’s only because I had such high expectations for it. I am not a believer in keeping expectations low and you won’t be disappointed, though I understand that line of reasoning works.

I am more of a “let’s aim for the moon and land among the stars” kinda gal.

A long work week for both Shaka and me, made us exhausted and ready for Friday evening in the biggest way. That isn’t to say it was a bad week. It was just very long.

Heading into this weekend, though, I realize, my expectations were high. I had big plans…HUGE PLANS! But I detest Sundayitis when the realization hits that all wasn’t accomplished before you begin a new work week.

But I am ahead of myself.

Every Friday, my department at work begins the weekend off with a bar. I haven’t gone in some time, but was happy to join in last Friday. We even secured a little turntable and were ready to play some cool vinyl that has been inherited or procured by Sutton, my cool co-worker whose stories are really cinematic and true! oxnard paakIt was a great way to make my way to Shaka. After a little deliberation of where to go for dinner (how come you have so many ideas of where to eat until the moment it’s time to eat?), we headed to Hugos (https://www.yelp.com/biz/hugos-studio-city-4). I hadn’t been there in awhile and it was delicious!

Saturday morning, while getting ready for a friend’s epic bday celebration at their newly renovated house, I began watching some season 4 Queer Eye. queer eye

I was in it for every emotional heart tug. I love those guys. Jonathan’s comments give me life!!!! I wish I showed some restraint to savor and not binge, but I know who I am. And well…by the end of the weekend, I am finished.

Sorry not sorry.

Then we headed to our friend’s pool party. The house is amazing! And there were kids everywhere. The last time we went to their house for a party, the house was a quarter of the size and many of the children weren’t even born. It was so much fun seeing Coll and Roo! And then Mads and (and correction here…her husband wanted to be called Sugar Tush 8 and not Sweet Tush 45. So his new moniker is “ST8”) ST8 arrived and we savored the tacos being served and marveled at the spaciousness of the house.

Nice people, fun times, happy birthday Roo!

In the evening, Shaka and I saw Awkwafina’s new film, “The Farewell.” farewellI really enjoyed it. I am still processing parts of it and will most likely discuss with my walking partner, Zam tomorrow.

My dreams were filled with Queer Eye moments mixed with The Farewell. I am sooooo on the nose sometimes. Even in slumber.

Today, was pretty chill. Shaka has been re-recording the first song he ever wrote and getting it just right, so it’s on repeat in the background. Even when it’s not playing, it’s STILL in my head. It’s really good! I can’t wait to share it here once it’s finished.

After running a few errands, I came home to Shaka sauteeing mushrooms in garlic and onions and it smelled heavenly. Even though I had been milquetoast on the BLL season, I was still invested and ready to watch. The vibe of wanting to drink a glass of wine, while watching the waves as the weather turns moody was alive in me. Though, the weather at the moment, is hot hot hot and there are no waves nearby, I decided to open one of Moondoggie’s wines.

modus wine

Sipping this delicious vino, eating good pasta with my honey, I was in the right head space to watch Nicole Kidman go head to head with Meryl. And you know what? I LOVED that finale!!!! Loved it! And I don’t think it was the wine mellowing me into saying that. It checked all the boxes for me of mostly what I loved about the first season. Was there a lot unanswered? Sure. But that last song with the montage of the last few minutes got me in my heart meat. And was there for it!

As I clinked my second glass with Shaka, I had to admit, I had met my expectations for this weekend. And there is no Sundayitis in sight. Only dreams of all I watched, accomplished and wanted mixed with what I hope to see play out this coming week. Clink!

 

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.