Rut-free

It was as if I was asleep and an alarm went off.

This year started off nicely.  Quietly.  Patiently.  That is not how my schedule usually works.  But Shaka had gotten a great gig in December to last for awhile and we could exhale financially.  Which also means emotionally. So we relaxed and enjoyed the pacing.

With the exception of a whirlwind, fabulous trip to Vegas to celebrate Monet’s birthday, the year was still unfolding in slow motion.

But the pacing made me wonder if I was happy or depressed. Mads would invite me to dinners and events and I would turn them down.  We finally talked about it.  She was a little worried.  It wasn’t like me.

Was I depressed?  Was I nervous?  Was I becoming a hermit?

Actually, I was nesting, it turns out. So many art projects and pinterest ideas left me feeling slightly insane. Which made me exhausted.

And then…whoosh! My usual, self-chosen break-neck pace had resumed.

Snapshots of the past month:

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For Valentine’s Day, I made an art piece for Shaka.  It taxed my brain to figure out the best way to get my idea across.  I visited all the craft stores armed with coupons and questions.  The workers there must have wondered if I had partaken in cocaine, red bull or both.  I was a woman with an unquiet mind.  Obvi, meditation was not part of my schedule.  Too peaceful.  I finally finished it.  It is the lyrics from one of Shaka’s songs (his favorite of his creations) deconstructed and combined with hardware for an industrial feel.

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Also, Shaka’s gifts were everything I wanted.  We stayed home in lieu of joining the vday masses and ate pizza and drank the Dom that Shaka’s bro had given us a few years ago.

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My birthday was similar.  I was bathed in love and gifts from everyone.  Also chose to stay home for dinner and watch movies.

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Birthday Brunch was supposed to be held at an outdoor spot in Pasadena.  But as February is wont to do, rain was on the menu.  I had 12 people and the option to eat inside at a place we had never been and whose indoor space was limited, with no reservations was too much for my tender nerves.  I confabbed with Mads to find a place that was affordable, could accommodate, had good yelp reviews, was ambient, and had mimosas.  Found it!  Camilo’s Bistro was a gem!  It was the best way to celebrate with everyone AND the best way to usher in what is becoming a busy spring.

http://www.camilosbistro.com/Camilos_California_Bistro/Home.html

bday

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My cousin Donnie, whose art brings out emotions from all who gaze upon her work, held a cocktail party at her digs for a visiting curator at a museum in Michigan.  It was fun, and interesting and very chill.

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Shaka pulled the gang together for a Little Tokyo adventure. On a Friday night, we met up for Japanese tapas at Fuga Izakaya http://izakayafu-ga.com/.  Zappy got there first and was in a little private area behind a shimmery curtain.  She said since she was sitting there all by herself and was all lit up behind the curtain, she felt like she was a psychic waiting for clients to read their futures in her crystal ball.

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A meeting of the minds with Jazzy and Tamanda to watch the Bachelor finale  discuss our creative plans for the future.  I went kind of off the rails with my calorie counting but it was worth it.

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Reb hosted an Oscar party that was a nice reunion of folks I hadn’t seen in awhile.  Food, per usual, was delicious.  And like last year, I came in second in the Oscar pool.  *shakes fist into the air – so close

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Celebrated BY’s bday down in the Orange Curtain.  The road to get there, however hit a big of a snag. Jazzy, Reb, Shaka and I met at Mads’ to drive down there together.  We made a necessary stop at Starbucks for some fuel.  Jazzy was driving Mads’ car.  Except when she started it up for us to head out on our way, the car wouldn’t start.  It actually did sort of start but took on a life of its own.  We were half-in, half-out of a parking space blocking the already congested, tiny lot.  Tensions were running hotter as the guy in the car parked next to us, sat there with his windows open playing a flute along to the music on the radio.  He wouldn’t help us cuz he said he was better at watching a situation.  CLEARLY flute playing to the radio has made him think life is a film and he is creating the soundtrack.  Jerk floutist. Several people did help though and it turns out that Mads’ car only needed a new battery.  After some reshuffling, we all ended up at BY and Helou’s new place.  Shaka and I were obsessed with getting their dog Cooper to love us. She’s a beautiful Aussie Shepherd and I just love her!  Food was divine and the wine was a-flowing.  Helou is such a fantastic host!  I would hire him always to host any party, though it’s not what he actually does for living.

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I had yet to meet the beautiful baby Marlon.  His parents are the coolest and always throw great fetes.  It was Marlon’s first birthday and Shaka and I were not going to miss meeting this little smiling boy.  It was pirate-themed and Marlon-dad had made a drink that is supposed to be the first written-down cocktail recipe ever (from Pirate times I guess).  It’s called Dark ‘n Stormy and it was delicious.  I am not a rum person, but I could become one if all rum-tails tasted like this.  Marlon-dad couldn’t believe how fast it went.  He underestimated how many “thirsty” people were attending.  It was a hot day, but it was a fun celebration!  This is us after a few Dark ‘n Stormys.

C&K

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The Wrecking Crew (a nickname for a group of studio and session musicians that played anonymously on many records in LA during the 1960s.) is being honored in a documentary.  Shaka and I went to check out a screening and met Jazzy and her date.

It was bean bag seating which we had missed out on, so it was SRO for us.  But it was worth it.  Well, I must confess to sitting on the ground between two couches.   If you have a chance to see this film, you should!  It’s kind of amazing what this group of musicians accomplished.  I was amazed at the filmmaker’s music clearance aptitude, cuz there’s a lot of music up in there.

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Shaka and I took Leigh and Aubs to the screening of DreamWorks Animation “Home.”  Based on reviews and word of mouth, I didn’t have high hopes, but was happy to take 7 year old Aubs to a screening and explore downtown.  Well, color me surprised!  I absolutely loved loved loved this film!  The Jim Parsons’-voiced “Oh” is such an adorable little character.

After the screening, we wandered downtown.  I wanted to show them the Last Bookstore, but Aubs had to use the restroom.  Try finding a restroom downtown and everyone will direct you to the Starbucks.  F-that!  I wanted to show her that the world is full of options and locales you won’t find in a strip mall.

We found an indoor-outdoor space that years ago, I had seen with a Jesus-performance-art installation thing happening.

Nowadays, it housed a few cool restaurants and a gelato place – Gelateria Uli. Continue reading

The Challengers

On the walls of the day
In the shade of the sun
We wrote down
Another vision of us
We were the challengers of
The unknown     (lyrics from “The Challengers”)

I have been on vacation for two weeks.  Though it’s not the first time I have taken such an extended time off (people asked at work, “What are you?  French???” If only! Mais oui!), It feels like it might as well be since the change in me is profound.

The first week was spent with my sister visiting from Europe along with her kids and husband.  We rented a beach house near Ventura and Shaka and my dad joined as well.  Normally family vacations though well-intended can feel like a pressure-cooker of past grievances.  But it was such an enjoyable time (aside from my sister almost choking on rice and me panic-stricken in the ocean way past my depth trying to rescue my nephew, but I digress) and I even worked on my video projects.  First one is soon to come!  It was awesome to see dolphins and sea lions every day, as we surfed and chatted and fell down and laughed.  The sunsets seemed more vibrant while not having a rush-hour steering wheel clenched in my fists.

vacation

As if time with the family wasn’t enough of an identity reminder, the next week, as Shaka went back to work, my dad went back home and my sis and fam headed back across the pond, I found myself in a staycation of the best sort.  I converted my old audio cassettes to mp3s and I got another shot in the arm of my past (I also realized how annoying I was in these old recordings – but bygones : )

And it comes out to this… I like where I came from (I never thought I would say that).  I like where I am today even more.  I feel more empowered by excavating my memories and putting them in appropriate mental files (as well as actual Windows files – ha).

So with all this blissed-out, love-fest, vacation-girl time, I wondered why I still felt a sense of panic.  A feeling that the other shoe was going to drop.  The internal dialogue sometimes sounded like an external dialogue of theatrical proportions as I was driving around town, working out my worries.

I decided I was going to put old fears in a suitcase that gets lost in a transatlantic flight.  And then dropped in a fire pit.  And doused with forget-me-nots…uh, I wanted it gone.

Progress was underway.  I was driving around, not realizing how hot it was getting and how exhausted I was.  That night, Shaka came home and noticed I seemed listless.  I had a headache and neck ache and felt like I had lost all strength.  Then, right after dinner (with black rice – sooo healthy – sooo hard to find), I threw up.  Shaka looked up signs of a female heart attack – I had most of them.  I scoffed.  It was just hot.  It was just a tiring day.  But I promised him that the next day, I would call the doctor.

I awoke very refreshed but keeping my promise, I called.  The on call nurse wanted me to come into the ER.  WHAT?

Now I was nervous and started to imagine that I was having a heart attack right THEN.

6 hours later, EKGs, Xrays, all kinds of lab work and consultations and a Dr. Oz episode with a segment of women under 55 who have heart attacks (naturally I assumed this was a sign that I was never leaving that hospital bed) – it turns out, I had just experienced a vacation-induced Panic Attack.  Drama much?  If my old cassettes had proven anything, I hadn’t changed all that much.

hospital me

A clean slate feels pretty good (see happy face above – No Pain)

This weekend, Shaka and I headed to our friends’ place in Corona to celebrate birthdays, anniversary, last days of summer (tell that to the weather) and to ground ourselves with a meditation.

Plus there was wine and lots of it.; yummy food, good friends and pool time.  We all felt a bit like we had been tumble-dried this summer with life events.  Many of us had been awakened by physical problems to shift our thinking.  It was very comforting to know that we were not alone with some of what we had been experiencing.  I mean, just turn on the news or sports and you’ll know – the world is crazy lately!

What a balm, a salve, a healing, a …you get it.  It was good.

I made a mixed cd for the hostess.  One of the songs was an older one from the New Pornographers called, The Challengers.

I love the tune. But there is something even more powerful about the lyrics – like we are cutting a swath through this strange plain of existence.

In the end, all these details, all these emotions don’t really matter.  We only have to exist from cradle to grave and experience it all – for good or bad.  But I am grateful for my family, for my relationship, for my friends, for the adventures of the past two weeks.  Grateful for the challenges of what it means to be human and for all these emotions and all these details because they are what make us unique in our common experience.  To be challenged is natural.  How we handle it, is how we learn.

“Until I see you around
Until we clear the accounts
Leave it there
Leave it to us
We are the challengers of
The unknown”

ZENsday Wednesday – Abstaining from Complaining

I forgot to post yesterday for Zensday Wednesday, but thought it could help a little with all the tension everyone is feeling with all the bad news in the world recently.

Try going 24 hours without complaining even once (even in your head). Start now…okay now. Well, whenever you start it, replace gratitude where a complaint would be. Even if you only last a half a day or an hour…it’s a start.

UPDATE:  I started this around 8:30am today and I must say that it’s like when you put a rubberband on your wrist that you snap whenever you have a craving for whatever you’re trying to abstain from.  Every time I wanted to complain, SNAP, I remembered to be grateful.  Okay, I remembered to not complain and THEN I tried to slip in gratitude.

It’s a work in progress, but I think I may have already changed my aura…wait, that might just be light reflecting off my glasses…whatevs, I will take it!  OMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

Let me know how your results turn out