Uncategorized

There’s Not Much Hope in Hope

I have immersed myself in my friends’ lives (both past and present) for the span of a week. I am so very honored that they have entrusted me to help edit a book retelling their lives. Lives that have not only survived unimaginable events that could have destroyed (both literally and figuratively) most of us, but lives that have thrived in so many ways and went on to benefit others. I get teary-eyed when I think about it. One is a lawyer, the other is a doctor, both are activists. I am in awe of and love these two very much. Soon you will be able to read about it. “Beauty and Beyond” will be coming online and to a bookstore near you.

It’s Carlsbad where I have arrived after my 27 hours of car, train, and waiting time in between. Since I have a limited time here, I want to take advantage of the time with them as much as I can, so we have been immersed in the writing. It’s also been so very hot outside that it is not the place to be. Carlsbad is home to the Carlsbad Caverns which are beautiful and certainly worth a visit but I’ve been there before so not a good enough excuse to play hooky. But since even God rested on the 7th day, on the 8th day they take me to the mountains where they have a few acres. I am going to be a tourist with local guides!

Frank has left the night before and will be meeting us in Mayhill. So it’s a girl’s road trip for Marta and me. We don’t pack because this is going to be a day trip. From Carlsbad, NM to Mayhill, NM is about two hours. But first how can we not stop in a town named Hope? When Marta mentions it she has a twinkle in her eye. I need not wonder why for we arrive in Hope soon enough. It t is soon apparent that this town should change its name. An old building which housed Alice’s Treasure at some point is the first to great us. undefined It initially makes me yearn for my little antique/collectible stall I had in a mall in Orange, CA but this store ended up like mine, shut down and lonely. The Hope Store also is closed. undefined All that is left are the signs. In the “garden” a tractor that is very much like the ones I saw in my birth country of Paraguay. undefined This one has no more life in it.

And then there’s the washing machine which brings me memories of my grandma. I can almost see her squeezing the clothes through the rollers to then hang them in the sun on the clothesline to dry. She was a strong woman. One that took control of the household and smoked cigars she rolled herself.

Surprisingly, this town has a USPS a post office that is large and new-looking. Even though, across the street is the only Fire Department that itself has burned down. I can’t think of no other with that fate. (I would later find out that the Fire Department in Carlsbad had a hotel construction next to it which burned down even with its firehouse next door.) It may be a New Mexico thing. Before we reach Mayhill, Marta wants us to stop at Tom and Pam Runyan Ranches. undefined She wants the owner to meet me. Unfortunately he was undergoing some medical procedure and I didn’t get to chat with him. There’s a petting zoo here. undefined One where a camel and an Asian water buffalo co-exist and, dare I say, have formed a friendship.

In the pen you will also find pigs and goats and a few other species.

It’s a rescue farm and they re-home as many animals as they can. I have a little kitten who hitched a ride in the engine of the car (TWO rides of 20 minutes each!) that I would love to find a home for. But they don’t take domestic pets. Anyone? I will deliver! Here is a picture taken by master Pet with Human photographer Johanna Siegmann.

Bootsie has the “Stop maaa, it’s my spotlight.” look.

This metal overgrown rooster has yet to find a home as well. A few signs catch my attention.

And we arrive at their town. It’s only a few blocks long.

Then off to their property undefined to drop off a few things.

We arrive only a few minutes later and pick Frank up to go to Cloudcroft which is 9,000 feet up undefined and a ski haven, therefore a more touristy town.

Our main focus is to buy an incredible piece of pie and a really, really good burrito (not eaten in that order but listed in order of importance).

With our bellies nice and full and our sweet tooth more than satisfied we are ready to move on.

And on we go to Shady Pines. The house of a local woman that holds wonderful classical concerts in the summer.

The place is pretty magical. She is super creative and the garden is chockfull of wonderful plants (she gives me a chocolate mint one, whose aroma later permeates the car and makes me hungry once again), of little quaint areas to rest in, and paths where you can channel your Zen.

Everywhere you look there is something to smile about.

And we head back with a pit stop to take a photo of flowers and bees.

The day after comes my own trip back to Los Angeles.

And I wish not to forget that I would close my blogs with a song. Any song that resonates with me or that catches my attention. So here goes… because this is how I may be feeling.

Categories: New Mexico, Uncategorized, United States, United States | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Choo, Choo, Here Go I.

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I am trying hard to fight the romanticism of what I am about to embark on. I’m going on a train ride. A very long one. 16 hours (and 10 minutes). On Amtrak, which isn’t the Orient Express or anything close to it. Before that I have to take a commuter train (Metrolink),  for an hour and a half. And before that a 45-minute car ride to Riverside, CA train station. In between, a 5 1/2 layover in Los Angeles. Oh, and then a 3-hour car drive from El Paso, TX Depot Station to Carlsbad, New Mexico, my final destination. All in all, about 27 hours of travel. Is it crazy that my enthusiasm and gushiness have not subsided?

After the 45 minute car drive I arrive at the Riverside Amtrak Station. I buy my ticket at the machine on the platform since on the Metrolink commuter train you can only purchase it on the day of.

As I approach Los Angeles the old bridge studded with graffiti seems to ask if I really want to leave. The answer is a rotund yes. I’m due for a road trip even if it is on a train!

At one of my very favorite old train stations, Union Station, I take a seat in their waiting lounge where a friend I haven’t seen in a while agreed to meet with me to make the wait before my next train shorter. It’s 5:00 pm and the rush hour commute is full on as well as a sea of blue that arrives to go to a Dodgers game.

A while back I toured a space in Union Station that housed the Harvey House which closed in the late 60’s. It was a stop to men returning home from war and those going off. It was also famous for its “Harvey Girls” which were the subject of a 1946 Judy Garland film of the same name. I often wondered why such a magnificent space hadn’t been used. Well, about a year ago the Imperial Brewing Company went in and it is there where my friend Jon and I head to. There truly isn’t anything better than a friend to the rescue, good conversation, oysters and beer.

My friend leaves and left alone I walk through “my” station. Union Station is the largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western United States and is widely regarded as “the last of the great train stations.” Inaugurated in 1939 I consider it a Grand Dame and give it the respect that entails. I love everything about it, including the characters in it. This group was singing loudly as they traversed it.

An Amtrak employee befriends me and chats with me until my time to board. Such a nice man, the kind that saves Amtrak from any criticism. He has been with the company for over 20 years. I think his name was Cyro or something like it. Thank you sir. And before I know it the time comes. I’m boarding!

I’m really glad that I checked my baggage because not having had to lug anything through the 5 1/2 hour layover was such a relief. And the storage on the train is minimal. Besides, the stairs going to the second floor on the train are so narrow people with any luggage or disability were having a rough time. I started helping people going up. As a result I was on a first-name basis with a lot of them in my wagon. I became fast friends with a retired gentleman going to Louisiana that was seated in front of me and another young man who had never been on a train, also going to Louisiana (I think they both had about a 2 day ride). The older one takes this trip 3 times a year and knows the train very well. He takes us on a tour. We settled in the observation car and chatted non-stop for hours. I now know what a lot of expressions in Louisiana mean and how to make gumbo from scratch. They were both great cooks.

We stop in Palm Springs and, with the lights, the landscape is eerie.

It’s around 2 am and we all head back to sleep a bit. I sleep soundly and quite comfortably. At 6:30 am Steve is up and looking my way. Want to go to breakfast? I say yes and off we go. He with a steady step, I bumping into the sides of the aisles. My equilibrium has never been good. At breakfast I forget my Keto diet and eat pancakes with syrup. The seating is cafeteria style and I smile inwardly when I think there’s a sense of intimacy to breakfast which I am now sharing with strangers. Train rides have a tendency to make total strangers into friends that tell you their life story.

Then to the observation car again where we claim the same seats we had last night.

As we cross Arizona we can observe the Cochise Head in the Chiricahua Mountains. If you look closely you’ll see his head, nose and chin. He’s face up.

Then we cross New Mexico (where I will backtrack to, once I “land” in Texas).

Train tracks all the way. The landscape is arid but I am most enjoying it.

I can’t believe almost 16 hours have passed since I boarded this train… 27 hours since I left home, but it must be because the conductor announces that our next stop is El Paso. I’m excited to see my friends at the station but I also am sad leaving the train. I kind of want this trip to continue on. Maybe forever. My friend tells me that I should buy burritos from this lady on the platform. They are tasty, really big, he says, and cheap at $2 each. But my friends will be picking me up and I’m sure we will eat on the way, which turns out so. We stop at a local mom and pop restaurant with fantastic service and that has their last name. I have a menudo. No. I am not keeping to a Keto lifestyle.

We have 3 hours to get to Carlsbad and as we drive we pass a checkpoint that brings back memories of 9 years ago when doing a cross country from Los Angeles to Orlando I was stopped and was questioned about my nationality and status. But that’s a long story that will be told another time.

We pass Diablo Rock where it is said that people have died on its trail from heat exhaustion. It does look quite imposing.

The sun sets, my eyes can barely stay open. Guess it was a long trip after all.

I have said that I would end my blogs with a song. One that reminded me of something or one that touches my heart in some way. I haven’t done so but I do want to, so this one ends with a video of a forever friend that just happened to have written a “little” song that Pat Benatar made famous and that forms part of many lives: We Belong. This song is one of my favorites of his, Arrows, of maybe a relationship lost but friendship gained. Dan Navarro is truly a folk legend.

Categories: California, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The “Broad” is not a Female

Definition by online Your Dictionary (yes, there is such a thing): slanga woman: sometimes considered offensive. So this Broad is not female and it is The Broad: a contemporary art museum in Los Angles, California.

I confess: though I thoroughly enjoy contemporary art, I am not quite well-versed in it. This homage to it comes to us free of charge (all you have to do is get a ticket online –gratis) thanks to Mr. and Mrs. philanthropists and collectors, the Broads, – pronounced in a completely different way than the female kind. I did not take pictures of the Broad’s exterior (criticized and exalted – striking nonetheless) so I take some of the entrance and windows from the inside. The windows in the building designed to let light in, yet not damage the art.

Visiting the most famous works first.  You certainly can’t avoid Jeff Koons’ -the world’s most expensive living artist- Tulips. I believe this is the same one I once saw in Steve Wynn’s Bellagio in Vegas, who bought the sculpture in 2013 for a cool $33.7 million.

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I photograph away as usual but this time I bring you me doing so, acquiescing to requests from readers that I include myself in photos.

Just as impressive as his Tulips is his Balloon Dog.  Koons is a master craftsman for sure.  An orange balloon dog sold for a record $58.4 Million in 2013. It was the first of a litter of five. I wonder how much this blue puppy fetched.

P1480343  In case you are thinking that he only has dogs in his menagerie, he also has bunnies.

Another of Koons’ favorite, most well-known works (part of his Banality series) is his life-sized Michael Jackson and Bubbles sculpture.

Before we leave Jeff (we’re on a first-name basis) I bring you Koons’ Jim Beam, J.B. Turner train (part of his Luxury and Degradation series) which has a super interesting story (it’s a decanter, so it involves liquor) of how it came to be. Click here. Worth the watch. It reminds me of a friend that not only loves trains but makes miniature ones. His, however, I am sure don’t cost near the $33.8 this one sold for in 2014.

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Oh no! Honey, did I shrink the tourists? What I like about contemporary art is the humor classical art lacks. The way it makes us look at common things in a new way. Robert Therrien presents us with everyday objects offering a different perspective.

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To prove that there is humor (even though I’m sure there is other intent in the work) here is something from a conceptual, performance, German artist. (His is the name on the plaque.)

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The above is probably the only lifting that I don’t need! I sometimes feel like this monumental painting by English painter Jenny Saville, Strategy.

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I am in downtown Los Angeles but whenever you mention my city Hollywood is the first thing that comes to people’s mind. Did you know that Hollywood is a verb? The artist Ruscha says so.

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A bit narcissistically, I like what I can connect with in some way.  A few months ago, I came back from five months in Spain, a country that I hold a passport to, so this collage from the above-mentioned artist, had my eye.

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Though I don’t quite understand what one has to do with the other, I like that this one (same artist) includes a flashback to my childhood with Cracker Jack. P1480378

To continue let me get rid of the paparazzi…P1480388

So kind of Barbara Kruger to tell me I’m a very special person (photographic silkscreen on vinyl). She’s an American artist that works with pictures, which automatically makes me like her.

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The next piece seems just right for this town.  From the Broad’s website: Untitled (If you’re so successful, why do you feel like a fake?), 1987, is a direct interrogation of the motivations of contemporary society—career building, money, and the appearance of success and good living. Kruger’s assertive display demands an answer from viewers. Unlike in advertising, which may ask a question to compel a purchase, Kruger’s work uses the same techniques to compel ethical change and reflection.  Getting to understand this type of art better thanks to it. Will not delve why I like the”Hug Me” piece further than that that hugging is one of my favorite things. 🙂

I’m a Taurus so I connected with this collage Beef Ribs Longhorn by Jean-Michel Basquiat.P1480404

Before I even read the caption, this mixed media collage reminded me of Manhattan, a city I called home for over 11 years. Good work by Mark Bradford. Per the sign on its side: “Across 110th Street gets its title from the eponymous 1072 Blaxploitation film as well as from the social and physical dividing line between Harlem and the rest of Manhattan.”

America (the U.S.A. in this case) is represented in a grand way.  Firstly by Jasper John, known for this oversized, gigantic flag. P1480393

And in duplicate by Glenn Ligon.P1480336

Also represented, curiously, with a tribute by Jeff Koons to actor/film director Buster Keaton.P1480344

A good segue to an Andy Warhol silkscreen P1480397 (this a self-portrait) and of his Two Marilyn Monroes that impressed me, even more, when I read that this one was number #27 in the silkscreening process. “The silkscreened image deteriorates with each printing, acting as a physical metaphor for the waning of fame and the fading of memory. Warhol’s diptych of Monroe is of an icon losing her essence, becoming distorted by time and saturated retelling.” Per the Broad as well: “Marilyn Monroe died in the early hours of August 5, 1962. A few weeks later, Andy Warhol began silkscreening Monroe’s face onto canvases. Using a portrait of the celebrated star taken from a publicity still, Warhol cropped tight around the edges of Monroe’s face and hair with a grease pencil. Warhol had only learned how to silkscreen a few months earlier, but already he was able to achieve his desired effect with the medium.”

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I reached a painting so big, in five panels, that I could not photograph it complete so I do it in pieces. Initially, I thought that it was by a female painter for some reason; the painter, Lari Pittman, has said he is gay and a feminist so I guess I wasn’t too far off.

I have a wish, a P1480371 (Desire, painting by Edward Ruscha), that I have not bored you. That you have learned something and that you will want to return to the museum by my hand or without me.

If you have not enjoyed visiting with me,  P1480365 (I’m Sorry by Roy Lichtenstein).

We are going to get literary on our next trip.

Categories: Los Angeles, The Broad, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Road to Hollywood Forever is a Lifetime

I walk, drawn to side streets by colors of street art. I have stopped often but as Bill Murray’s character would say “It just doesn’t matter!” I am in Hollywood.  p1480001

Continuing on the color theme (not for long, I promise) there’s a building that just can’t help but catch my attention. It’s pink and garish and pretentious to call itself Hollywood Dream Suites. I suspect that they are not. I later find out that it’s a hotel and from the reviews I read, I may have been right.

I pass Raleigh Studios where I once filmed an episode of Castle.

Across the street is Paramount Studios.

I wasn’t specifically meaning to go to where it all ends for some, but the end of the year was approaching and there was some poetry into visiting a cemetery.  I had visited before but it was at night and my attention was held by a projection of an old movie on one of its mausoleums. A bit heretical perhaps but in Hollywood there is little that seems inappropriate.

I am greeted by a creature that is very much alive and quite interested in the chips I’m chomping down on.

 

p1480004 Near the entrance here is a little section that seems straight out of Southeast Asia. Possibly Thailand. I reminisce and long to be back.

p1480005  The niches of some are still decorated for Christmas. Very much a Latino/Mexican culture tradition.

I walk into some mausoleums. It is peaceful but cold inside. They draw you to whisper rather than hear your voice bounce back to you in an loud echo.

It is in one of them, a smaller one, where Judy Garland rests.

I go outside and enjoy the day and the greenery and flowers which abound.

This cemetery, dare I say, amuses me. There are people with sense of humor recorded forever in the engravings they commission on their tombs.

A graphic artist has his tomb shaped as a rocket. I believed that it was his way to ensure a direct flight to heaven. But engraved is “The atlas, pioneer in space, symbolizes the lifetime activities of Carl Morgan Bigsby, a recognized leader in many phases of the graphic arts, he too was a pioneer.”  The atlas, an exact scale of the original missile The Pioneer Atlas.  His tomb reads Carl Morgan Bigsby 1898 – 1959… RETIRED BY GOD.  Sad that he would not be able to see the smiles generated from that line.

And of course, it’s Hollywood so a film camera portrayed in granite adorns the tomb of a foreign director. p1480016

And what is film without music? Johnny Ramone still plays on his grave next to the film director.

Hatie McDaniels has a surprisingly humble tombstone. She was the “mammy” figure in the film Gone with the Wind.  In 1940 she got an Academy Award for best supporting actress. She was the first African American to receive an Oscar. p1480020

The grave of Irene Guadagno “Mama Irene” caught my attention because she had my middle name -which I never liked so please forget I mentioned it- and because it was pretty cool to me the posture with raised arms with which she was immortalized. Since then I learned that was an Italian entrepreneur mother of Pasquale Rotella (who was married to Holly Madison of Playboy fame). p1480022

Anton Yelchin, an actor, who was killed at 27, in a freak accident when his car crushed him against a security fence is looking on to the cemetery lake. His grave is marked 3-11-89 – Forever. p1480025

And then there’s Toto, who is not buried here but has a granite statue of him in remembrance.

Mickey Rooney is here.

Entering another mausoleum before they close all at 5:00 pm. It almost feels like going into a European museum hall.

More smiles as I exit and encounter another tombstone of an English actor that only has the date of death and not of birth. So like an actor to never reveal his/her age.p1480039

Marzie Harris was a Loving Mother, Sister, Daughter… and occasional wife. I wonder if that engraving was her idea. p1480052

There’s a lake that has a small island with a huge mausoleum. It belongs to William Andrews Clark Jr. a philanthropist and a lawyer who founded the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The lake is tranquil and full of life.

On the peripheral of the cemetery there is more life. There’s a group of cats, all white and black, that consider this their home as well as some peacocks that make any visiting car wait for long minutes until they cross the path.

On the way out an angel makes me sad. p1480059

I leave and roam the streets some more, searching for color. I don’t walk long before encountering it.

Can’t resist the urge to end the day with a sweet treat. A YumYum Donut with fresh icing on it. Life continues. p1480072

 

 

Categories: Hollywood Forever, Los Angeles, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

No Canals Today

I’m in Venice but it’s not Italy. It has canals but I won’t visit today.  It’s around 8:30 and I hurry to put my warm-ups on and head out to the beach before the Saturday crowds arrive. VeniceBeach  I like encountering people along the way that take it as a fact that only a local could be out and about early morn. A commonality, real or assumed, that brings out the most cordial in people. I get many good mornings along the way.

I love the vibe and the creativity this town emanates. Apparent even on the sidewalk. I stop so often, my walk may be sabotaged by it.

A brief look up to be puzzled by people forming a line for an Adidas sale at a local store: 9

Then there are the murals which are everywhere and unavoidable. 

On empty lots: 10

On a house’s fence:   11

I found it of note that the wall chosen by a homeless was one devote of any: 12

Another with a burst of color: 13

As I walk by, a memory comes of a meal at a restaurant I like, The Butcher’s Daughter, where I said goodbye to a friend heading north. 14

Venice makes me smile, even with its requests: 15

Back to the murals. This one always makes me stop and ponder a bit. She looks so sad and introspective. 16

And very apropos, the next thing that catches my eye is this one of  TrustyScribe of a subject that is so misunderstood and so few of those affected (the one with it and those around them) know how to handle. 17

More murals, this one with French. 18

Oh, and if your breakfast wasn’t dope… here’s a food truck (their proliferation competing with the murals) who is “making breakfast dope again”. 🙂 19

Some murals are pretty intricate. 20

Art is everywhere. Some exulting your civic duty along with your emotional one. 21

I love the beach cottage/bungalow construction but I really like Victorian houses as well and this one stands out. 22

I’m getting hungry… yes, I’d love some but am on this Keto diet (a very low carb thing) and still have pounds to go. A confession… I’ve been off it so mayyyybe…

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I pass the Ellison Suites  24 with its super cool murals. 24A It amuses me that they also had to write on it: “This is not a hotel.” probably from the myriad of inquiries they get. 25

I think this quote by Lana del Rey defines Los Angeles… “Singing in the old bars, swinging with the old stars, living for the fame…”

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And then there’s Jim.

Instructing us to “Try to set the night on fire” 29

Murals with depth and little stencil animals abound.

I am now on the beach. A VW bus bursting in color and nostalgia… and merchandising. 32

The people in this town as colorful as the murals.

 

I LOVE hugging and what this mural means.    35

Mural competing with the architecture. 36

This time, it’s mosaic tiles: 37

Can’t walk my bike (I don’t have one and never learned to ride!). 

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Did I mention it was Christmas?  

I think this mural confused even the birds. 40

This mannequin fits right in with the crowd. I think it had on too many. 41

I put my feet on the beach just in case you doubt that there any water and sand in my walk.  I take the obligatory shots. 

The sea is rough today attracting many surfers.

 

Who said you can’t stand on water?  

 

Californians can do it all because Cali is gold…  P1470796

I remind myself that I am still on a diet and manage to avoid two of my favorite things: funnel cakes and soft ice cream. 

It helps to remind myself that I am in Venice a town where most are a size 2 (though I’ll never be that again). And those that aren’t, are working at getting as buff and in shape as possible. The guy playing paddle had only one arm and was playing harder than the others. Gives me little excuse. Muscle Beach is deserted probably because it is a bit too early for them to show off. 

Not too early for a photo shoot.

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But I digress, so back to the murals where I am a voyeur as bunnies get some action. 🙂 P1470813

I have to detour because the alley I took was blocked off and I encounter so many more murals. Some advertising stores, food trucks, restaurants, some on private homes, some just as adornment. All pretty cool, coloring my path.

A bit of colorful history.: when Mr. Abbot Kinney built Venice of America, Main Street was a canal. Guess that technically means I can walk on water. 

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Nearing home I realize that I really am a Venice fan. 

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Knock, knock… where will I go next? 

Categories: Uncategorized, Venice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Very Strange Unillustrated Morning

As I make my way on the side streets towards the freeway, I have to avoid going over a tabby cat that must have been killed last night. (Yes, it was definitely dead when I saw him). Not a good start to the day.

I could of taken it as an omen. It is Friday the 13th after all, but I choose to see life’s fragility and nurture a determination to live every moment well.

As I crank up my music, I ease myself into the “fast” lane of the freeway, which is bumper to bumper. A Prius catches my attention, a dark electric blue I had wanted mine to be. And I smile because the driver shakes with laughter, covering her mouth with her arm raised in a “v”. I am almost side-by-side to her now. Though she is in fact shaking she’s not laughing, but crying. She brushes the tears forcefully from her eyes. I almost hit the car in front of me. She is oblivious of anything around her . Her signal light goes on. She can’t possibly do this safely in her condition so I slow down significantly, giving her space. She is now in front of me. Her signal light still on. So I help her maneuver lanes by opening some space changing lanes along with her. She’s getting off. Without knowing why, I follow as she exits.

She parks, as do I behind her. I get out of my car and approach hers. I startle her. She lowers her window about an inch, an inquisitive look on her tear-streaked face. She’s a mix, as am I, I don’t much know of what. A thought that everyone should have their DNA test done to possibly eliminate discrimination pops into my head. Her hair, long and semi-straight is not combed. “Are you alright?” What a stupid question I pose. Of course she is not. Her already small eyes recede into her face, her mouth quivers and shapes itself into a grimace. She sobs. I wonder what I’m doing here. “I have a bottle of water in my car. Wait here.” I bring it back and hand it over as she brings the window down. Her naked left hand is placed on my wrist as she grabs the bottle with her right hand, which I notice has huge rings on every finger making her physically as unbalanced as she probably is emotionally. I don’t know what to say. She is looking ahead now, still crying. Stupidly I blurt: “Promise me you won’t drive until you are better”, knowing that it may take a long time and that, in fact, it may never be so. I hold the hand that had held my wrist. I pat it. I ask if she wants me to stay. She briefly and fastly shakes her head no. I go back to my car. I realize that she has not said a word.

I drive two blocks, take a turn and park on a side street. I take a deep breath. I think of how completely useless I have been. I haven’t comforted her, resolved any of her issues, angst, or even know what brought on her crying. I only know that she was in enough pain that she didn’t care that a total stranger saw her breakdown. And though clueless as to the whys of her wallowing in so much sorrow I believe she had a broken heart. Being young, she may not realize there are many more ahead. I drive on.

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I have decided to end my blogs with a song or two. Sometimes related to the blog, sometimes not. For this one, two songs come to mind from an Irish singer, songwriter, musician who displays much empathy and understanding of life. Jamie Lawson was the first act signed to Ed Sheeran’s recording label, Gigerbread Man Records. He became well known by a song that related a lifelong love story: “Wasn’t Expecting That“.

I wish I could have shared “A Little Mercy” and “Sometimes It’s Hard” with the girl:

A Little Mercy

“…There’s no shame in sharing how you’re feeling
There’s no gain in keeping your pain inside

If your sorrows have been left unspoken
Like broken bells, they no longer chime
If you’re coming undone
You won’t be the only one
We all need a little mercy sometimes

Hold on, you’re only a heartbeat away
From turning your world around
Hold on, nothing’s ever over
No matter how far you fall down
All that once was lost can be found…”

Sometimes It’s Hard

“Sometimes it’s hard to get through your working day
And find the words to say
Everything’s okay
When you feel differently inside
You feel you’re gonna break…

“Rest assured this will not last,
Rain that falls it has to pass,
And the sun, it will shine again…”

 

 

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A Day Late of the Day of Thanks

P1400031 (1)I am grateful for, as Violeta Parra’s song “Gracias a La Vida” says: Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto. Me dio dos luceros que cuando los abro perfecto distingo lo negro del blanco. (Thanks to life, which has given me so much. It gave me two beams of light, that when opened, can perfectly distinguish black from white). P1090656

20171123_113241   I am grateful for my legs with which I have walked, gotten lost, discovered and have found my way again.

I am grateful to have led a life that has been enriched by many cultures.

I am fortunate to have traveled to many corners of our globe and been able to immerse myself in other people’s worlds.P1170385

So fortunate to have never lost that child in me that marvels at everything she encounters.   20170608_083434

P1000255To have the ability to link words to relay what I feel and see, has given me such joy, for it creates an avenue in which others can share in my experiences. I wish that with them I’ve been able to weave a shawl in which my readers can cocoon themselves, if only for a brief time, from anything that may ail them.

I am grateful that with the passage of time I have learned to accept myself with all flaws and that though I don’t always like them -seldom in fact- I have learned that if you wish me to be better or different, you should not accompany me in this journey called life. That if you cannot accept my dark days you then don’t deserve to share my good ones. Guess that means that I have learned to love myself and am extremely fortunate, that when I did not, I have had friends that have loved me more than I was capable of at the time.

I so very much treasure that hug, that call, that post, the shared coffee/drink/meal which has saved me in more ways than one. LoveHence I am grateful for your presence in my life, no matter how brief. It has left a mark and taught me much. No real way to thank those who lent me their hand, their ear, their warmth on a more permanent way.

I am grateful to have accepted and dealt with the storms along the way and to have been able to enjoy the clarity that inevitably follows.  P1260629 (2)

I am grateful that I am having a hard time condensing the list of that which I am grateful for and that they far outweigh the bad.

I am grateful to be. I hope that I have, even in the slightest of ways, graced your list of what you are thankful for.20171123_112505

What are you grateful for?

 

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About last night…

I get home and play with Viola and Falstaff, my fur-babies niece and nephew, for a while. I stop, make sure their cat flap is on lockdown, put on the alarm and head out. Nothing out of the ordinary. Going to get a bite to eat and come back.

I have a bloody mary and fries at Zinqué which satisfies my nostalgia for France since I think the owner is French and it is spoken all around me, but it leaves me feeling guilty for the calories I inhaled. So I walk for a bit.

I am walking away from the house towards the beach, where I walk every day, with no intention of actually reaching the beach. Ah, but I look up and the allure of a sky that predicts a truly glorious sunset cannot be ignored. 20170801_195348

So I go, already feeling the sand between my toes.

There is some hesitation in my step for I won’t be able to share this one with anyone. 20170801_194918All hesitation vanishes when I direct my sight to this sky with its fading light, and color show. 20170801_195601   20170801_195135_001Tonight the sky is all mine. And the embrace I receive is from life itself reassuring me that all will be alright. 20170801_195408

My mind and body slow down and I take it all in. Though I’ll never be a beach bum, a beach girl I am. Fitting, for it is Yemanyá, the goddess of the sea and moon, who is my mother orishá.

A reminder to write along the way.  20170801_200152  20170801_200139

 

 

And another that my gender rocks.

 

And another…. 20170801_200237 (1)

 

And I reach home content.

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A Face in a Pasadena Hop

I have learned to live with myself and my aloneness. I even like it. Yet, on this Sunday brunch day –my ears on sound overload with the cacophony of adult laughter and little kids’ high pitched voices infused with an enthusiasm only they can muster in whine and wonder– the word “alone” acquires a connotation I dislike.

I sense a weird stillness next to me. I turn my head as much as I can, trying to not be too conspicuous. Her head is bent slightly. Her short, jet-black hair pulled back with a slickness no gel could possibly achieve. A headband placed there for pure adornment, for no strand moves. She looks sprung out of one of those Japanese anime. Her food is lined up in front of her: brioche toast floating in a lake of maple syrup, followed by a plate of scrambled eggs, and a little further a bowl of fresh fruit, and coffee, on the far edge of the table, too far for her to reach. She picks up her fork and starts playing with her scrambled eggs. Not a bit of it reaching her mouth. She shakes her head slightly and turns it towards me. Though fascinated, I turn mine away.

From the corner of my eye I see her shove the brioche plate away from her, placing it to facilitate its removal by the waitress. She brings the scrambled eggs plate closer to her, still playing with it. She takes a bite.

My food arrives and I salt it, spilling some of it on the table. I gather the spillage in a little mound, take a pinch of it and, in a move I hope nobody notices, I flick it over my left shoulder. The myth is that if you spill salt it’s bad luck and if you throw it over your left shoulder, where the devil supposedly waits, you will blind him and thwart his evil ways. I’m not superstitious but just in case… I feel a stare and meet her eyes. My behavior probably as strange to her as hers is to mine. She is blazingly staring at me but there is no life in her eyes. I doubt she actually even sees me.

She returns to her eggs and moves it to where she had left her now gone brioche plate. Seems like it all is perfectly choreographed. She brings the fruit bowl closer. Lowering her head she lets it meet her hands and cups it for a moment. I’m not sure if she’s praying or mourning. Picking up her fork she puts piece by piece into her mouth in an almost frenzied pace. And then she stops. Breathes. Lifts herself up a bit from her chair, reaches for her probably now cold coffee and holding it in two hands she takes little sips until there is no more.

At this point I make no attempt to make believe I’m not staring. She doesn’t seem to mind, care or acknowledge me.

Our checks arrive at the same time. I asked for mine. Hers just seemed to magically appear. Our change came in unison as well and I become part of this dance she has choreographed. Fitting that the only two lone diners were placed side by side.

As I am mentally thanking her for entertaining me through my breakfast she looks up as we exit and gives me one of the most disconsolate smiles that I have ever seen. It seems that her alone is not as welcomed or accepted as mine. It saddens me.

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Letting Go and Feeling Naked Once Again…

Two years ago I wrote a blog, On Feeling Naked…, that revealed more of me than I really wanted to.   A lot has happened since.  This post, is a bit of a continuation on a tradition that I started back then.    It won’t deal with travel, Travel as most of you are used to from me, and neither will it have photos that may delight or appeal.  It won’t be long, or at least I don’t mean it for it to be so.  It’s a bit of a stream of consciousness so I perfectly understand if you – just about now – decide to leave.  Monks, kids, leaving

 

I twist it around my finger.  It is loose.  I slowly, very slowly start sliding it off.  My movement is fluid but comes to an abrupt halt as it reaches the nail bed.  Wedding Band, Gold Band I twist the band once again, close my eyes and, in one swift move, slide it into my right hand gripping it and surrounding it.  Three years ago my movements were reversed and I was sliding my mom’s wedding band on.  It took me almost two years  to be able to take it off.   I lost track of where it was after that and assumed I lost it.  In the first days of January of this year it surfaced unexpectedly.  I took it as a sign and decided that I would wear the simple gold band the first two months of the year as a tribute to the union that gave birth to me and made me who I am. Both my parents passed in 2010.  My mom in January and my father in February.  Today, the last day of February, it is time to take it off once again.

Pouting  I hate goodbyes. Goodbye Looking back a few years, it seems that I have been bidding farewell to so very much.  To places.  To life as I know it.  To sentimental bonds.  Every one of those separations, be they physical or emotional has brought me a greeting of some sort that has made me happy, Happy changed me and enriched me but I still am not fond of them.

The band is still ensconced in my hand.   I open my fist and am certain that I will not wear it again.  This time I must really let go.  The song from Disney’s Frozen, Let It Go, comes to mind and am grateful that it does,: for one line says: “Let it go, let it go and I’ll rise like the break of dawn…”

You will always be with me Mom and Dad MaandPa and I will forever be grateful for so much that you have given me.  You can let go of my hand now.  I need to take the rest of the journey alone.  I'll Be Fine

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