Sunday, February 27, 2011

"Even though we ain't got money, I'm so in love with you honey"

Let's take a walk down memory lane in my old stomping ground of Toronto.

First, I took a stroll near the Don Valley Parkway...



And then went on to Allan Gardens, my old stomping ground...



Toronto has been good to me.

Destination 2: Toronto, Canada

So I ended up in Toronto as my first destination for a myriad of reasons, but mostly for the friends and snow.




"I'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again"

Maple Leaf Lounge action at LAX. 

Have you ever felt like you are in the exact right place at the exact right time?

I felt like that when I was sitting at the Los Angeles airport in the Maple Leaf Lounge with my travel bosom buddy Aine. She was attending a conference in Santa Barbara and just so happened to have been on the same flight as me to sit with me . The same freaking flight!


Couldn't have planned it if I tried.

Talk about angels letting me know I'm on the right track.

I had a slew of goodbyes leading up to my flight. My friends were sad but encouraging. I held myself together largely by distracting myself with the tasks at hand, of which there were many. But sadness would rise in quiet moments of my days, like when I was doing dishes... or walking away.

Then there were the people I just couldn't fit in to see before I left, so I apologize to them about that.

Sometimes you just have to let yourself go.

So I did.

See you on the flip side.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Janice & Aine's (sort of) annual egg toss

Another fun-filled egg toss with my friend Aine...




Read about our previous egg toss when we were in Italy on the Amalfi Coast.

Good times.

A letter to Betty

One of the best gifts I ever received was a bunch of yummy books from a yard sale. Inside one of the books was this delicious letter. It was written in 1959. I hope the receiver won't mind me sharing it here with you. Click on the photos to read what they say.






Saturday, February 19, 2011

Yours is a quiet strength


Yours is a quiet strength
In a sea of loud weakness
You float along
With the peace of sunset
And the glow, too

I think it's because of the veggies
Or water
Or meditation
Yoga
Or genes

Or perhaps it's just you
A person who knows who she is
Is there anything more beautiful?

Friday, February 18, 2011

"Playing solitaire till dawn with a deck of 51..."


Today, I met My Fight to Write for lunch.

He arrived from Australia in the nick of time.

The other night I went out for dinner with Rotation and Balance.

I'm trying to arrange a dinner with LA Nuts.

And in a few weeks, though she won't know it until she reads this right now, I'm going to hunt down in person An Undertaker's Diaries (who recently became A True Undertaking).

Oh, and I spoke with Bentlily on the phone yesterday.

And if I haven't heard from Life According to Mel Heth in awhile, I start to get concerned.

What all this means is that without realizing it until now, I have managed to created a little blog community for myself. A group of people that I can chat with about writing and creativity or ask deep questions like "WTF am I going to blog about today?!" These are the people who come to my site to check in with what I'm doing with my day, to check my state of mental health and to just leave a comment or two because they can and they care.

Bloggers understand that comments are the fuel that keeps this machine running. Otherwise we'd be like midnight DJs asking out to the world, "Is anybody out there?"

Back in the old days, writers would congregate in bookstores like Shakespeare and Company:

This bookstore is smack dab in the middle of Paris and was once the gathering place for literary big wigs like Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and Ezra Pound. I like to imagine them sitting outside on the benches smoking cigarettes, talking trash about their agents and commiserating about much the publishing company is not doing to promote their latest work.

Cut to today. We aren't smoking or sitting outside bookstores. We are sitting in solitude in front of our computers drinking legal addictive stimulants and wishing we had agents and problems with publishing companies.

But at least, thanks to the Information Super Highway, we are sitting in solitude together. 

And that's a nice thought.



Thursday, February 17, 2011

In bed with Joe Dungan


If you've been following along, you know that I quit my job as an advertising copywriter in December 2010. Since then, people have asked what I do with my time. For awhile, the best answer was that I just wasn't working and it didn't matter what I did as long as I wasn't schlepping my arse over the hill to the San Fernando Valley to write highly-effective advertising for A-list clients.

They say that people crack open their car window because it can get so hot in the valley that the window can shatter. But really, it's so that the real self you leave in the car can breath while the rest of you heads into the office.

But I digress.

So, what have I really been up to?

Generally, I get up in the morning and go to my favorite coffee shop to hang out with Santa Monica's finest caffeine addicts. Then I come home and putter around online. I read my blog comments (thank you!!!), I check stocks (with exclaims of either cha-ching! or oh s*#t) and I troll Facebook.

Troll: 
1. to move around
2. to fish by trailing a lure or baited hook from a moving boat
3. to be a prick on the internet because you can, typically unleashing one or more cynical or sarcastic remarks on an innocent by-stander, because it's the internet and, hey, you can.

All of the above.

After trolling for an hour or so, I wonder if I should write in my journal... try to write those three morning pages. I generally opt out of that and go hiking or to yoga instead. Afterward, I shower, have lunch and have a nap. Then I deal with cleaning out my apartment for when I begin my travels (soon).

It's a good life. 

Today though, I did none of these things. I made coffee at home and crawled back into bed and read L.A. Nuts by Joe Dungan. This delightful little read is part insight, part wit and part venom... my favorite prose trifecta. In it, Joe describes the colorful inhabitants and quirks of Los Angeles. To get a gist of what I'm talking about, here are a few of his chapter titles:
  • This is what it's like to park your car here
  • This is what it's like to buy houses—or not buy them
  • This is how we celebrate Christmas in public
  • This is how our TV news programs cover our weather
  • Meet people who've interacted with famous people
  • This is how we deal with earthquakes
  • Meet our religious people
If you live in Los Angeles, you already understand what you'll find in this book. Everyone has an opinion about the crazy parking signs (especially in Beverly Hills), the real estate market (we're all waiting for a cute bungalow with minimal earthquake damage), Christmas (or should I say non-Christmas), the non-news about the weather, the overly-beaded-hemp-wearing-judgmental-green-tea-drinkers that spew their own flavor of spirituality in every direction, etc (seems they are as fanatic about the Middle East as they are about not eating sugar).

And as for our interactions with famous people, we've all had our internal conflict about name dropping and how we shouldn't do it but we want to but we don't want to be that guy but we are. So instead of gushing to our local friends, we call our family back home and say, "Michael Keaton talked to me in line at the coffee shop! Batman! Bat-frickin'-MAN!"

It happened to me. But you didn't hear it here.

Joe's book is a great read for anyone who has spent any amount of time in LA. You'll be laughing out loud, saying "That's so true!" or "Been there" or "I think I know that guy he's writing about."

Alright. Now that the sun is setting, I should get out of my pajamas and get on with another nutty day in LA.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I've sewn a pocket of you


I've sewn a pocket of you

I've sewn a pocket of you
On the inside of my skin
I've embroidered your initials
Because you are my designated issue
You get to have all the glory
Lucky you

Inside the pocket
I place all the pain
And things that never worked out
The way I thought they should
Because of something to do with me
But I made because of you

You are the emblem of my angst
The hero of my heartache
The knight that could never rescue
Not that I ever asked

Perhaps one day
The stitches will dissolve
Or loosen
Or be grown over
With thicker skin

But for now, my dear
I wear this pocket of you
That no one can see
Because it's sewn 
On the inside of my skin
And it's filled
With a little bit of pain
That I carry along
And I don't know how to handle
As I skip through my day





Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Shrimp: Vile

I'd eat these if I knew what they were. 
I wouldn't call myself a picky eater.

Others would beg to differ.

In 2010, I did the vegan thing, which immediately puts one into the Picky Eater category... or in LA, it just makes you normal. These days, I'd call myself mostly vegan, which makes me only mostly a picky eater.

I was recently asked if I would be vegan when I soon start travels. (Ooh the anticipation is building!!!)

The short answer is "No. Yes. No. Yes. I don't know."

Then I was asked why I was vegan in the first place, especially if I'm willing to be willy nilly about it on the road. Where are my principles? My ethics? My beliefs?

All good questions.

Here's a run down of what I eat and why.

Beef: No. Carbon footprint is too high.

Chicken: No. Repulsive factory farming. The chicken are actually dipped in feces-filled water to be "cleaned." Oh gawd no.

Pork: No. This animal is so intelligent that I suspect it senses when it's about to be slaughtered. With all that fear running through it's system, I could be ingested it into my system when I eat it, which isn't cool no matter how good bacon tastes. Mmmm bacon.

Rabbit: No. Once my dad was driving my sister and I to work in the morning. There was a huge jackrabbit standing in the middle of the road. Dad stopped the truck. We thought it was nice of him to let the rabbit cross the road unharmed. Wrong. He reached for his shotgun.

Goose: No. Once there was a beautiful snow goose hanging out in our backyard. We made the mistake of telling our dad.

Shrimp: Vile.

Lobster: No. They mate for life. I feel like I'm eating a widowers spouse.

Crab: In a California roll? Yes. But if I've got to crack open legs and have crab juice squirt out all over my face and fancy dress. Absolutely not. No frigging way.

Salmon: No. Tastes too much like salmon.

White fish: Ya, white fish is okay. But I went snorkeling once and had a spiritual connection with a fish that I can't get out of my mind... unless there is a lot of butter involved.

Salami: Not after my nauseating bus trip up the Amalfi coast.

Peppers: Nope. Make me burpy. As do raw onions and garlic. And green apples. And sometimes cucumbers.

Eggplant: Blech. Mushy. Vile. No.

Watermelon: No. Tragically, I'm allergic. If I eat even one little bite, my body goes into a panic frenzy. My mouth gets itchy, my throat gets angry and my stomach feels like I ate a handful of mini-putt pencils. More on this particular allergy, courtesy of the Livestrong foundation.

Other than that? I'll eat pretty much anything. Me? A picky eater? No way.

Will I eat some of these food items on the road so I can partake in the culinary delights of the regions I visit?

Yes. No. Yes. No. I don't know.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My nipples were scrubbed by an old Korean lady

... as well as the crack of my ass.

I'm not even joking. This happened to me. This happened. To. Me.

I just returned from Olympic Spa, a lovely Korean Day Spa for the ladies.

I ordered myself up a body scrub and this is how it went down:

First, you go into the bath area where there are a slew of showers. You must shower immediately, not unlike if you had ordered up a lady for the evening. Then you take a dip in one of the three hot tubs. One is hot, one is insanely hot and one is insanely cold.

Nudie ladies are everywhere.

Checking out other ladies really boosts my body image. I can go on about my thighs and my wee Buddha belly but when I go to the spa, I'm fine. Everyone has thighs. Everyone has Buddha bellies. Everyone has cellulite, scars and hair in the wrong places.

It's really quite pretty. And sexy. And sensual.

I'm not even kidding.

It's nice to see women that look like women and not 12-year-old boys like they do in magazines. In fact, there was ONE woman who had a magazine's version of a perfect body. ONE.

Why do we measure our self worth against ONE kind of body? It's preposterous. It's ludicrous. It's also just plain inaccurate. The math is off. Way off.

But, back to the old Korean lady.

So we are given a bracelet with our locker key. It has a number on it. I was #20. While we are soaking in one of the hot tubs, a lady dressed in a black bra and undies comes around and screams, "Numba 20!" I raise my hand and follow her to a table in a long line of other tables.

On the other tables are other nudie ladies getting their scrubs.

"Lay down on yo belly. Head he-ya."

I lay down with my head where she points. Then she takes what can only be described as a Brillo pad and proceeds to scrub the bageezus out of my skin. She starts at my feet, goes up my thigh, zips up to my butt (all of it), onto my back and even scrubs the back of my ears. Then she heads down the other side.

"Turn ova."

I turn over. She starts at the tops of my feet and heads up one side and down the other. When she got to my super sensitive boobies, I wasn't sure what was going to go down. But, she scrubbed at them just like she scrubbed everything else... with a brute force I haven't felt since my mother scrubbed me down after playing in the muddy field by my house when I was six.

She didn't scrub one area. But she scrubbed right up to it. Zoiks.

Then she took a big pail of water and threw it over me. The water splashed to the ground, taking my top layer of epidermis with it.

"All done."

Thank Christ.

As I spit and sputter, she handed me an envelope that I can use to give her a tip later when I'm not dripping wet and naked. Then she heads off to call out "Numba 21!"

But now that I'm home, my skin feels so soft that I want to go out to the sidewalk and tell people to touch me. Go on, I'd say. Just touch my skin. Do it. It's so soft.

It might even be worth another trip to the spa... but not until I grow another layer of skin for her to scrub off.

Friday, February 11, 2011

How to have a happy childhood

Yep, this is cheery ol' me.

I was hiking with my friend (and rad co-author of not just one, but two books) Marni today. She was explaining how she was healing moments of her childhood with what she learned from Harry Potter.

Explain.

There is a scene in Harry Potter when he goes into the pensieve to view Dumbledore's memories. The pensieve is kinda like a cauldron of thoughts... like backup for your computer... wizard-style cloud computing, if you will. He can walk through memories but the people in the memories can't see him, nor can he participate in the memories. He's an invisible observer of the scene.

Borrowed indefinitely from filmonic.com.

So how does Harry Potter heal Marni's childhood memories? 

Well, Marni imagined hopping into the pensieve and zipping back back to a time in high school that was less than stellar. She sat with her teenage self, put her arm around her and held her lovingly. Even though the teenage version didn't know the older version was there, she felt comforted. Older Marni also imagined leaving a part of her loving self with the teenage self when she stepped out of the pensieve.

This sounds too woo hoo to me. 

Ya, but hey, it worked! Marni says she feels more calm and has sited all around more happiness.

Just like that? 


Just like that.

And all this healing work happens in the comfort of our own minds. We're our own consenting adults. What could it hurt? Wouldn't you like happier memories of less-than-stellar times?

So I tried it, too. I imagined jumping into my own pensieve and heading back to a few moments that were less than stellar. Since I'm decluttering my apartment, I figured I should declutter my mind, too. Sweep it clean. Not take it with me on my journey. Or, at least take a better memory than what's sitting in my noggin right now.
  1. I sat in a comfortable position like all the meditation teachers advise. If your meditation teacher asks you to sit in an uncomfortable position, I'd be concerned.
  2. I asked for the clearing. This is a wee opening prayer like the one taken from Spiritual Psychology: "I ask for the clearing. I ask to be surrounded, protected and guided by the clear white light of the Holy Spirit. I ask for only that which is for my highest good and the highest good of all concerned to be brought forth in service to the evolution of my consciousness. For this, and so much more, I am so grateful. And so it is." Feel free to use this prayer and edit at will.
  3. I went back in memory and walked beside that version of me. I sent her love. I sent love to the other person in the relationship, too. I walked along as a silent invisible angel emitting love to each of them in each scene.
  4. At the end, I did a forgiveness prayer. I imagined reciting this prayer to the person with whom I was in the scene:
    "I forgive you and set you free. Your actions no longer have power over me. I acknowledge that you are doing the best that you can, and honor you in your process of unfoldment. You are free and I am free. All is well between us. Peace is the order of the day" -- Spiritual Liberation, Michael Bernard Beckwith
  5. I imagined the other person acknowledging being heard by having them recite this prayer to me:
    "I know that within you there is an energy of forgiveness that forgives me and sets me free. My words and actions have no power over you. You are free and I am free. All is well between our spirits. Peace is the order of the day." -- Spiritual Liberation, Michael Bernard Beckwith
  6. Then voila! Healed. Well, not necessarily. I feel calmer now and I hope it took. That's the thing with all this new age spiritual healing stuff. It's sometimes tough to tell if the work worked. There are people who pop up and scream "I'm healed!" whether they are or aren't. I think true healing takes it's time. Like a bruise. Slowly the blue goes away. We don't see it go, but one day, it's gone.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

3 steps to becoming the best nomadic blogger ever

Looky-loo. Look who decided to come back and post something.

While I've not been here, I've been in training. I'm in training to become the best nomadic blogger ever. In 3 simple steps, you too can become the best nomadic blogger ever. Here's how...

3 steps to becoming the best nomadic blogger ever:
  1. Release material possessions. I've been tossing and selling off everything. I'm astounded at how the piles that have grown around me. Learnings...
    • I've got a new hate for Craigslist. Not the site, but the lame visitors who say they will show up to buy your stuff and then they don't show. Madness!
    • I will never buy stupid shit ever again. This process of decluttering has made me realize just how much time and money I spent on stupid shit. I wish I would have realized this earlier. I would have been able to quit my job earlier.
    • Every item I've ever brought into my house must now be dealt with. I know I purchased some items just for the merriment of doing so. I was so unhappy in corporate life that buying pretty trinkets was a way to placate my mood. Now those trinkets are sitting in a heap out by the recycle bin. 
    • My alley is picked over all day long. I take a load of thrift store items to the alley and whoosh the vultures swooped in and take it away. One less errand. Sure, I miss out on the tax write-off, but I'm not making an income this year anyway.

    2. Take a few test runs. I've become a tourist of my own town this month (See below). I've went to the skate park in Venice, the Fashion District downtown, hiking and to yoga. I've tried out my travel wardrobe and chucked what didn't work. Sadly, my Converse will not make the final cut.

    3. Do drastic things. Well, sort of drastic. Drastic-ish.
    • I told my housekeeper of eight years that I was leaving. It didn't go over well.
    • Toss photos. Even cute ones. If I have it electronically, I have it. No need to schlep it. Thank God for cloud computing.
    • Let my friend have my guitar until I come back. My guitar alone in a new house?! Ugh.
    • Say goodbye for good. When someone says, "We'll have to get together again before you leave" I say, "No. I'm good." We're done here. I don't exactly say that but sometimes I wish I could.
    • Buy the plane tickets. Holy frig.
A few highlights of me being a tourist of my own town:

 The skate park on Venice Beach.

 Dinner with friends at local haunts.

 Sunset near the Santa Monica pier. 

 Santa Monica farmers market. On a weekday. Weeee!!!

A quick stop off at Venice Ale House for a little something to calm the nerves.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I stopped writing morning pages

It happened.

I stopped writing morning pages.

It could have something to do with the barfing.

And I think that had something to do with the burrito.

Which I think had something to do with the salsa.

Whatever it was, it stopped me doing morning pages.

I've spent (some of) the last three days with my journal open, pen poised above the page and nothing.

Nothing? 

Nothing.

Nadda. Zip. Nothing.

All I could think to write was, "I want matzo ball soup" for three pages. What is it with being sick and craving broth?

I'm sure there is something I want to avoid by not writing them. Or perhaps, there is some inner wisdom that will come out that I just don't want to hear right now. Or perhaps I just get sick of writing morning pages and even sicker of writing them when I'm actually sick.

While I was deliberately not writing morning pages or laying in a sick stupor, I cleaned out drawers and closets (slowly) in order to get my life down to one suitcase so I can traipse around the world and live the life of a nomadic blogger.

Cleaning out my drawers and closets was like walking down an artist's memory lane.

A few highlights on my artistic path: 
  • Bookbinding: I found bookbinding supplies for that time I was into bookbinding.
Erin Zam, inspired this brief but lovely bookbinding fascination.
  • Scrapbooking: I found a ton of expensive and cheesy scrapbooking material.
 Crap booking. And what is with my hand? 
My hand doesn't look like that in real life.
  • Photography: I found old cameras and their electric cord accoutrements. 
 Why oh WHY did I print my photos? Now I have to deal with them.
  • Collage art: I found collage making supplies AKA bits of paper scraps that I thought would make for a great art piece one day. Newsflash: they didn't. 
 Except for this one. It turned out nice. Want it? It's yours. Email me.
  • Painting: I found a slew of painting supplies. I stuck to painting longer than most of my artistic pursuits. And I managed to sell a lot of them, which is pretty groovy. But now I'm left with a big pile of art supplies that simply won't fit in my suitcase. Shit.
My fave.
  • Writing: I found books on creativity, journal and pens galore. I settled on these two beauts: 

Find out why these rock here.
After all this searching for my artistic calling, I found it on July 26, 2010...
"This blog. This little online space I created is where I find my true artistic bliss. I write in my journal to figure out what to write here. I take photos to post here. I create videos to share them here. I find links and YouTube bits and pieces to add color to my posts. In my year-long project to discover my calling and blog about it, it's the blog that became my calling."
It's weird to quote yourself. 

Pah-lease.

Now I've realized that all I need to pursue my true artistic calling is:
  1. my journal
  2. a pen
  3. a camera
  4. a laptop
  5. an internet connection
Five items that will easily fit in my suitcase. And once I get rid of the rest I can high-tail it out of here to begin my nomadic blogging lifestyle... hopefully by then I'll feel like writing morning pages again.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Decide what to be and go be it

 Where do I begin? 

Sometimes I just don't know where to begin. The blog post, my travels, my day.

I guess that's the fun of it all. Figuring it out.

Up until recently, I had two places to begin my world travels:
  1. I go east on my own. I go wherever I want, whenever I want and stay as long as I want. 
  2. I go west with a friend. I told him I was traveling. He cut me off at the pass and invited me to travel with him on a worldwide project in which he was involved.
In option 2, the project depended on a few other people on this end and a few people on that end. And in the end, the project was either delayed, canceled or in need of a revamp. And that means option 2 is no longer an option.

"Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God." 
--Kurt Vonnegut

In my dancing lessons, I seriously considered stepping in one direction with him, but instead I'm stepping in another direction on my own.

And I feel like I lost my dancing partner.

The partner with whom I'd figure out the train schedule and eat breakfast. The one I'd sit with on the plane/bus/park bench. The one who would take a photo of me in front of (insert city icons here). The one I could lean on if I lost my sense of direction/wallet/scarf.

After he told me the news, I thought, Shit, I have to do all this alone?!

...which was actually Option 1 anyway.

Plus, I don't have to do any of it at all. I can do exactly what I'm doing right now, which is to sit in my Santa Monica apartment and blog about life.

Of course, that's not why I quit my job. I quit my job for Option 1... but Option 2 was what made me enthused to go.

A part of me gets huffy and asks Why did you even ask in the first place? But the whys are never important. And they certainly don't matter now.

A part of me is scared to travel alone. I wanted someone to yank me out of the line of a speeding scooter in (insert city here). He qualified.

A part of me just wanted to observe his life. I admire him. Admiration is potent stuff. I wanted to watch him do his work, to listen to him talk about it, to see him teach others. To be on the front lines of a creative shift in how we build up the world around us.

Traveling with him would have been like going to a TED conference everyday.

And now I look at the world I'm about to explore on my own and say, C'mon. Can you really beat that?

Of course, the world is up for the challenge.

I know that crossing Option 2 off the list is definitely a dancing lesson from God. Something beyond both of our control shifted our direction. He is staying here. I will go east. Perhaps I'm not meant to be a cheerleader for him on this journey. Perhaps what I'm meant to do will reveal itself when I get there. Wherever that might be. 

And in the wise words of the song, Head full of doubt by the wonderful Avett Brothers...

"Decide what to be and go be it." 

So that's what I'm going to do.

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