Kancer with a “K”

I take turmeric daily. I thought the odds of me getting cancer were slimmer than say, me getting a heart attack or dying in a car crash involving a rideshare.

I have always had a tiny bladder. “Hold me closer tiny bladder,” I would hear in my head as I would tell people I had to pee. Their eye-rolls and sighs of “not again” would only spear me on to think…this is me – take it or leave it. But seriously, don’t leave…you’re my ride and I really have to pee. BRB.

Last year, my husband and I were in Hawaii. Only two years before, we were getting married on Oahu and it was a fun, exciting, chaotic time. So visiting again last year was like taking all the best moments of our wedding week and expanding and treasuring them, just for the two of us. Our last day, we had an evening flight so the day was going to be filled with wandering, lunch, drinks, more wandering and sitting by the beach. The morning of our last day, I woke up with a terrible burning sensation. I felt like every time I peed, I still needed to. And the pain!!!!!

I called my doctor and asked if she could prescribe me something to make the pain ease up. I had never had a UTI, but I figured this was one. The doc wouldn’t prescribe me anything until I came in to get tested (damn ethical doctor! j/k I love her). I finally went to the drug store to see if there was an OTC remedy which there was. It helped. But our last day in paradise was kind of a mess since I had to be near a toilet and seated.

Upon returning home, I got tested. The results were negative for UTI.

Weird.

There was still pain. But it came and went.

When I talked to the doctor, she said that it was possible that my body was changing and maybe this was part of aging for my body. She said that some medicines for bladder issues made people feel worse than the thing they were trying to cure.

We waited.

It continued.

I went back.

Got tested again.

I told her I needed to see a urologist since this waiting game was yielding no winners.

I meet with the urologist. The conclusion is there is some kind of blockage in my bladder. I assume it’s a cyst that will need to come out eventually. This is good news.

We schedule a cystoscopy for November 7 (a year ago TODAY), where he goes in with a camera to see what the block is and its size.

My appt is in the morning. That same night, I will be heading to LACMA for an event with Shaka, Mads, Jazzy and JRo. I head to the appt. I even have the strangest thought: I am not a person that will ever get cancer. Weird, right? And cocky. But more weird. And cocky.

The nurse numbs me and tells me this is not gonna hurt. She swabs iodine and lots of fluid down there. Doc comes in. Guess what…that camera going up my hoo hoo…it hurts. A lot! He is showing me the live version on a monitor. “There it is…that’s the tumor.”

“What? But but like a benign tumor, right” I laugh

“No, that’s cancerous. And it’s half a golf ball size.”

Those words float in the air as I deal with the pain of the actual camera and the new news of my bladder having a cancerous tumor.

I go to clean up. I use the toilet and out of habit, I put a seat cover down. I am not aware that my whole ass is wet from the fluids they pumped in me. As I stand up from the toilet, I have wet seat cover sticking to my iodine stained butt. I would laugh but I am trying to get dressed to meet with the doctor. But I can NOT figure out how to be an adult at this moment AND get my skin paper-free. I finally work it out and meet with the doctor.

“I didn’t expect THAT news,” I say.

“I didn’t either. Your symptoms weren’t indicating that it was that large or that it was a cancerous tumor.”

He went over the next steps we would take. I would not need radiation or chemo.

We will, instead, do immunotherapy with BCG treatments. It’s a form of TB that when coating the bladder (after they do surgery to remove the tumor), helps the bladder keep any cancerous tumors from recurring. Who was the person who was like, let’s see what happens when I shoot a TB strain into the bladder? Sick person. But I am glad they tried it. Success rate is supposed to be good. Also, bladder tumors happen for the most part, in older men. Who smoke. Or who are around a lot of toxic fumes. I am wondering…how did I get this? Last I checked…I am none of those things. Do toxic people count? Ha, I kid. But seriously…how did I get this?

We schedule the surgery (I will have another doctor since I want it done sooner and mine isn’t available). I have never had surgery. I have never even been under.

After meeting with the doctor, I call Shaka and break into sobs. It’s hitting me in fits and starts. I tell him I still want to go to the LACMA event.

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, the only thing different right now is that I know what’s wrong with me.”

We head there. I tell Mads and Jazzy. Their reaction is confusion, like mine was when the doctor announced it to me. Only theirs has the added bonus of me saying it as if I am telling them about my new hair cut. Like that scene from “The Room” (go to :30), I just slip it in nonchalantly while I stand up to get more tacos and wine.

We take pictures and check out the cool exhibit and cough at the prices of wine! GASP!!!!

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It is exactly the kind of LA night I love and the kind of outing I need to remind myself I am more than this news.

SKIP SKIP SKIP

I go in for the surgery. I am told by friends and relatives that I will wake up and be amazed that it’s over and that I will feel dreamy. My pre-op nurse is a jokester and keeps saying things like, “I don’t know how to put an IV in…just kidding. I DO!” I love a good joking nurse, but am all but looking like I belong on a fainting couch with requisite wrist to my forehead as I see the IV needle out of the corner of my eye. On the upside…I am in a toasty gurney with cute socks and I feel comfortable. They give me something (they equate to a cocktail) so I will relax as I am wheeled to the OR where they will do the countdown. But as it turns out…I was out before we left the pre-op room. I only vaguely remember them wheeling me and me seeing fuzzy figures around me as I try and lift the oxygen mask and yell, “Is this an oxygen mask????”

The next thing I remember is waking up with a lot of pain and a calmer post-op nurse. And Shaka there with all my meds. The doctor comes and tells me it all went well and we will find out the results of if it reached the walls of my bladder later that week and I will have the catheter in for several days. SEVERAL DAYS!!!!! This is almost as horrific to me as the news about the cancerous tumor.

Thanksgiving was 2 days after the surgery, where I will binge-watch episodes of “The Office”, while perusing everyone’s holiday photos on social media. The catheter is making me so nervous. I also worry because my cat, Buster, likes to chew cords and I am a heavy sleeper. I imagine waking up with the catheter all chewed to bits and me having to get another one!!! But Buster behaved and that didn’t happen.

10 days later, the catheter comes out and the doc says they got all of the tumor. It was a pretty aggressive tumor but still contained (which he found unusual). It hadn’t spread to the bladder walls. I ask the doctor, “so I had a cancerous tumor but going forward, what should I tell people or list on forms? Like, what would you say I had?”

“You had cancer”

“Oh”

I wasn’t trying to be stoopid. I was trying NOT to overthink it.

A co-worker of mine says, “what did you think you had? Cancer with a “K”?

I guess I kind of did.

In the new year (this year), I have to go through the treatments. They insert a catheter into the bladder to administer the medicine. The first nurse (whom I adore), says, your urethra is easy to find. This shouldn’t hurt. Though I love this nurse, I realize she is a LIAR! It hurt so badly. I will say, that was the last time my urethra was easy to find cause I tense that shit up from the pain, every subsequent appt. The next 5 treatments have varied results. Crying, calming meditation, calming medication, me yelling OW OW OW! I must have a mark by name that I am difficult but it might also be that I announce it if I get a new nurse. Finally the 6 weeks are up.

In my naiveté, I assume the pumpkin bread I made them to apologize for my behavior was all I would need to part ways.

But the doctor informs me (and maybe he had before and I hadn’t realized it), I will need a regular cystoscopy every 3-4 months (remember iodine-butt) and then BCG treatments every 3 months and then it moves to every 6 months (3 sessions only instead of 6) and this will happen for 3 YEARS!!!

I almost cry again. But that same day,  I hear the news that a healthy friend of mine who had gotten out of a bad marriage and had found the love of his life and was thriving had been working out, felt weird, went home, felt weirder, called 911 and died on the way to the hospital (I think an undiagnosed heart condition). I mean, tomorrow is not promised to anyone, but DAMN!

So, I turned my  idea of feeling sorry for myself into self care and gratitude that I had a doctor who wanted me to get better. And that I was surrounded by so much love and family and friends. And yeah, tomorrow isn’t promised, so I better like today. I better like this moment. Every moment.

So the second round of 3 treatments happens and on the second one, I get a new nurse. I go through my usual, “I am a bad patient, so you will want to make sure I am blah blah blah and yadda yadda yadda…” I see her eyes get big with concern.

I feel her poking around down there and I think, Damn it, she is new at this.

I ask, “have you found the urethra yet?”

And she says, get this, she says, “We are almost done!” WHAT!?!?!?!?!

There was absolutely no pain.

The next and final treatment of that session, I have her again. I wonder if that pain-free session had been a one off.

But nope. Same thing! No pain!

I think, she must be a witch and has put a spell on me to make this easier. Whatever, I will take it!!!!

So with my gratitude and my summer plans, I enjoy my life.

In September, I go back in for another follow up cystoscopy (iodine-butt).

He says, “Hmmmm, there’s a tiny growth there. It’s not anything serious but it wasn’t there before, so I want to remove it.”

I have to go in for ANOTHER surgery.  I am happy it’s benign but I am not happy that I have to go through this again.

I have the surgery. It goes well. The first 4 days after, I am pain free and feeling amazing (no at-home catheter this time – YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!)

Then the 5th day, the pain starts up. OUCH.

In fact, I am just NOW, nearly 6 weeks later, just feeling the pain subsiding.

A few weeks after the surgery, I have a post-op appt with the doc.

He tells me that they biopsied my tiny little growth and it was indeed, CANCER (FUCK! Again!). It was a different kind than the last one. This one is the more aggressive kind (apparently there are various KINDS that get to invade my bladder like some messed-up video game with Bladder Monsters). The doc is shocked since, like with the first one, this growth wasn’t acting like the usual kind of aggressive tumor.

But now I have to start all the treatments again. Like from the beginning.

My first session of 6 starts next Friday.

I am not happy about it. In fact, I have been feeling very uneasy that I don’t know what’s to come, since my poor bladder has been through the ringer already. I write this today and can’t believe it’s only been a year since I got the news of the diagnosis. I had been planning on writing this post for awhile, but that was before the second diagnosis.

On this day, 4 years ago, our kittens came home with us (after they had almost died due to an infection)

That is a good memory of this day. And my sister told me today is the day my teenage niece came home from the hospital 2 years ago after being very sick for like 2 months. So it’s a strange day of highs and lows in my family, I guess.

The other thought I had was that since my tumors (gosh, plural) have not acted or behaved like NORMAL bladder tumors and since these have been caught early and I have a good team, I will take it, that perhaps, I do have Cancer with a K.

Maybe it’s the imitation kind of cancer.

Wish me luck that I get the witch nurse again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Contact Highs and Lows

“I can’t believe you have never been to the Annenberg Space for Photography,” Mads said while sipping a very large vodka soda. It was Friday night and I was exhausted and feeling like the day had its stank on me. Mads texted, do you and Shaka want to go out tonight? I wanted to. But, I also knew I was pooped from a really strange week.

Shaka agreed we should go and there was no looking back on that decision. A night out with Mads and ST8 is always fun, if not funny. Plus it’s good when you’re feeling low, to make contact with people who will bring up your energy.

We met at Mucho Mas (“full bar and old El Coyote drink prices” her text promised).

We had old people conversation (health talk) and hip people conversation (film and music schtuff). I mentioned we were going to the Annenberg to see the exhibit “Contact High: A Visual History of Hip Hop” but that I had never been to the Annenberg before. Mads and ST8 had already seen the exhibit but recommended it. It is strange that I had never been before but there’s a first time for everything.

Saturday, I picked up my new glasses. I must have been drinking when I picked them out a few weeks ago. I don’t remember choosing THESE. I mean. I like them, but I actually had no memory of saying, “Yes, these are my next pair!” But they are…soooo. I love them…now.

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Crosseyed AF

 

Then I headed to get my haircut. Kristen used to work at a salon near me but has her own place now in Woodland Hills. I hadn’t gone to her in over a year and she can shape up this mane like nobody’s business. (https://kristenscurltherapy.com/)

Loved her new place and we chatted about a myriad of topics. Mostly politics (we are on the same page – phew), meditation, spirituality, travel, etc. It was great reconnecting with her and I love my new cut!!!

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New glasses, new cut (and after today, new color) – ohhhhh somebody STOP ME!

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When I got home, Shaka and I started to catch up on Mindhunter first season. I wasn’t in a particularly bingey mood but Netflix has a way of making that happen even if you didn’t plan on it. *Shakes fist to the Streaming Gods!* We are liking the series…that sounds weird since it’s about serial killers.

Today, Shaka and I headed to Century City to see the exhibit which has been extended until next week, I believe.

We decided to go to Eataly in Century City and nosh on some yummy pasta.

With our bellies full of Italian food goodness, we made our way down the street to the Annenberg.

We parked in a pretty amazing spot. And headed to the stairwell.

We followed a man up the stairs. Shaka asked, “Is this the way to the museum?” The man nodded. We followed him. Up a flight of stairs. Then another. Then down the stairs. The man looked at us and said, “Where is it?” and we realized we had been following a red herring irl. Ugh. Then there was another couple and the man followed them. But they were lost TOO! The five of us rambling up and down the stairs like that scene in Spinal Tap where they can’t find the stage.

We finally make it to a long hallway and to the outside world. We almost followed the group as they headed the wrong way AGAIN! We stood back and watched them go one direction and then come back our way. The man in the couple looked at me after returning and said, “that’s the wrong way. That’s CAA…it’s an agency. A really big agency.” I politely nodded while simultaneously unpolitely saying, “I know.” I can’t fault him though…we were a group unable to find our way out of a stairwell…he probably assumes I am a stoopid.

But the direction gods got us to the right place.

 

The exhibit was really cool. There was a short film too. I absolutely adore photography about pop culture and music.

It was cool to see actual proof sheets too. There was a series of shots with Aaliyah where she had marked big Xs on the proof sheets on the ones she didn’t like (many) and Os on the ones she liked. Throughout the exhibit, even though they were photographs, there was something so visceral and alive about many of the shots.

 

As we left, the line to get in had gotten longer. We decided to try an elevator back to our car which ALMOST didn’t turn out well. But the direction gods were back with us after momentarily tying one on and we found our car.

We drove home over the canyons and past the palm trees.

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After a crazy week of highs and lows, it was nice to end it on an such a high note.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

 

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!

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hollywood is backwards

Hollywood is backwards

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Some were small, but gave quite a punch.IMG_0067

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe the joke is on me. Shit.

Perhaps I am too sensitive for the sign/art.

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

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

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

You can tell by our language. Lol.

 

 

 

 

Friday – Memorial Day Weekend (part one)

To say that I needed that extra day off would be both cliche and true.

I was looking forward to a 3Day weekend of lazing around (let’s be honest, I still multi-task my lazing by doing other things while at the same time doing nothing) and finishing binge-watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. But poor Chachi, as it usually goes, I sprinkled little jaunts here and there, leaving us with nary a laze.

All good problems to have.

Friday, Chachi had mentioned he wanted margaritas after work. We both each got off work early and were running a few errands when Mads called. After shifting a few plans, the three of us found ourselves at Mexicali for happy hour! I was the first one there and showed remarkable restraint that I didn’t down an entire basket of chips all on my own.

As we were winding down, I see that downtown Edgar (the man who used to throw the most amazing garden parties/after-art-walk parties at his loft) posted that he was going to a Miles Davis themed whiskey/jazz (I am still not clear what it was) thingy. I don’t like jazz. But Chachi does. And Mads, well, she likes a good time and seeing where the night will take her.

So we decided that we would reconvene at Mads’s and take an Uber downtown.

Mr. Mads even joined us and off we went.

The upside to Uber/Lyft is that you don’t have to park. The downside is that if the place you are heading isn’t what you expected (it wasn’t), then you are left feeling abandoned. Unless you’re with Mads and then you are in for an adventure of spontaneity.

We started at Guisados (yum) in this really cool passage where I once had gelato at Uli’s (side note – back in the late-early days of the Art Walk – this space was empty. But there was music playing and one lone light shining on a Jesus impersonator (are they called impersonators if it’s Jesus?)).

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I was still full from the happy hour but I still was able to sample some deliciousness.

Now it was time for a drink. We made our way to the El Dorado (a bar downstairs from Le Petit Paris).

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art deco wallpaper at El Dorado

The smell of new wood, leather and liquor were intoxicating. The space was pretty big and not yet filled at this early hour. We chat/yelled (noisy) about who knows what (nude painting from another time, how Mr. Mads isn’t meant for outside (his words), people watching groups of co-workers trying to outshine their peers).

Then it was time to visit the Association. I hadn’t been here in awhile. Very velvet ropey. And you could definitely feel that the bars all have competition from the development boom and millennials who like drinking. I love seeing downtown thrive like it is, but the preciousness/instagramable feel is definitely alive.

Hop, skip and a jump in our uber back to our hood.

It’s hard to believe I worked today, considering the traversing we did tonight.

I don’t even feel tir-    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

(More to come)