Would You Lie in the Bottom of an Empty Grave?

 

London - The Last Day - Highgate Cemetery

 

I’ve gone and gotten myself hooked on a new-to-me show, “Lodge 49.” It’s a little trippy, a little Cali, a little dude. And for some reason, I freaking love it. I’m not going to try and describe it, because I will flail and fail. That’s not why I’m writing anyway.

 

In one episode, a character is out for a lovely stroll in a cemetery and she falls into a freshly-dug grave. Looking up from the bottom, she says she rather likes the view. Upon seeing this, I said out loud, to no one, “I would do that. I would lie in an empty grave.”

 

And I meant it. I would. It would be a crazy opportunity. I’m a goer. If the chance presented itself, how could I resist?

 

To say that life has been all over the place is an understatement. Up until a couple of days ago, I didn’t know where in the world I’d be living in a few months time. Add to that a litany of philosophical and esoteric quandaries and you’ve got yourself a hodgepodge of fucked-up-ed-ness. I did anyway. And to some degree, still do. Honestly, I haven’t really figured out much of anything. Questions still loom. Uncertainty still hovers. If I’ve managed anything at all, I guess it’s a modicum of relaxation. I’m going with the stream right now. Its waters are twisting and rippling beneath low-hanging branches from nearby banks, mostly shaded and often dark. Even when I can’t see what’s ahead, the water keeps moving. And I’m trying to float.

 

I’m almost caught-up on “Lodge 49.” The second season just started. I’m smitten with its magic, though it may be only imagined. Time will tell. Same for real life. I have no idea what’s coming. But I do know this – if ever someone gives me a go at lying in the bottom of an empty grave, I’m taking it.

Lest We Forget…

 

Flaggie

 

Here in the United States, it’s Independence Day. Some of us are waving our flags. Some are gathered with friends and family, grilling up some fun. Some are watching fireworks, eyes trained toward the heavens in awe.

 

But let’s not forget, friends, that a complete dip-shit is doing his best to behave like a crazed dictator in a narcissistic show of embarrassing jack-assery. Let’s remember that while we enjoy a holiday, somewhere someone’s baby has been kidnapped by our own government and is being held in shameful conditions. Let’s remember that if the fuck-tard gets his way, we may find ourselves in a war that could harm us for all time, if not out-and-out destroy us.

 

Fireworks - Photo by Mister

 

I don’t mean to be so dark, but this is the world we now live in. And for those of us who actually love the beauty of what our country can be, it’s important for us to remember that we are the true patriots. We who believe in the decency of America, in the humanity of the world – we need to remember that the horrible and pitiful people who’ve lost their moral high-ground do not get to take our love of country from us.

 

So I will indeed be putting out my flag today. I will barbeque and enjoy some fireworks. And I will toast the honorable among us, the true Americans. We don’t get much press, but we’re still here. And our patriotism is enviable. It is caring. It is inclusive. It is humane. And not one of us needs a goddamned tank to prove anything.

 

Womens March 2018 - A Patriotic Pink Panther - photo by Mister

I Said Yes

 

Max and Trust

 

So much has been going on, and nothing at all has been going on. That’s how life rolls sometimes. For me, it seems that’s how it rolls most of the time.

 

All the same, my intentions of sharing things with you have been patiently waiting for me to get my ass in gear. As it’s now officially Summer, I feel the day should be treated with a modicum of reverence. To serve those feelings, I give you a glimpse or two into my world…

 

Vidalias

 

I’m making my way through 20 pounds of Vidalia onions. And I’m enjoying every damned one.

 

Tomatoes

 

We’re also starting to get some tomatoes from our little plants. I call them little, but a couple of the plants are at least 8 feet high and still growing. I don’t understand it any more than you. But I’m not complaining, because all the gods know there’s nothing as good as homegrown tomatoes, y’all.

 

Props Only

 

I worked on a film set for the first time in ages. It was a one-day shoot and I ended up dealing mostly with props. I declared myself to be the day’s Ice Cream Wrangler. Someone had to do it. It reminded me of how much goes on behind the scenes, work that will never be shown or seen. I respect the hell out of the professionals who make cinematic art. Because I got to be a part of this particular shoot, with such lovely people, I enjoyed the day more than I can express.

 

View From LACMA - Deathstar

 

I attended a crazy-cool happening at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Throughout the exhibit space of Robert Rauschenberg’s 1/4 Mile, various musicians roamed about, improvising and collaborating to create soundscapes based on the work and the moment. It was trippy and, in some instances, inspired. Once I’d absorbed as much of the evening as I could, I walked outside and spotted work on the adjacent Death Star. It’s not really the Death Star. It’s architect Renzo Piano’s ambitious new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. It’s sure to be astounding, once it’s finished. But I have no doubt it will always be called the Death Star. As it should be.

 

Drinking Cask Ale Makes Me...

 

I also went to the kick-off event for L.A. Beer Week. I was a fish, I was. And I was happy about it, too. (Baker Jen is responsible for the sticker I’m wearing in the above photo. She’s cool like dat.)

 

Baby Hummingbirds

 

Baby hummingbirds got hatched, grew and have already flown away. Little Mama had built the nest and was keeping it warm before we even realized what was going on. Once those babies made their debut, they were in high-gear. They were only there a couple of weeks and then they were gone. Nature. Who knew?

 

Michael Watkins, Director of JPL & Me

 

I got my geek on at JPL‘s open house. When I spotted the dude shown above, I didn’t hesitate to embarrass myself. That’s Dr. Michael Watkins, the director of JPL and a rock star of the science world. Yes – I am that person. I do indeed nerd out for brains.

 

The Liza Minnelli Room at Feinstein's at Vitello's

 

And then there was this week. I was getting some exercise and passed by a place I’ve been many times. It’s a restaurant with an upstairs club. (The restaurant played into Robert Blake’s wife’s infamous murder. Yeah.) I walked past and doubled back. The upstairs club had a new name: Feinstein’s at Vitello’s. As in Michael Feinstein. I wasn’t sure when that had happened, so when I got home I looked on the interwebz and saw that last weekend was the official grand opening of the supper club. I also saw that Michael Feinstein himself had provided the entertainment during the grand opening, with a little help from his friend, Miss Liza Minnelli. Da fuh? I missed that show, which was a shame. But I saw that Melissa Manchester was set to perform during the week, and tickets were still available. I grew up loving that gal. As I sat at my computer, thinking about whether or not I could justify laying out the dough for a ticket, I realized I was singing her songs. I remembered the lyrics, I remembered the tunes. I bit the bullet and bought myself a seat for the show.

 

As I was flying solo that night, I had no idea where I’d be seated or with whom. When I checked in with the hostess, she asked if I was meeting anyone and I told her no. She asked for my name, which I provided, and she said, “Well Mikki – you’re about to make some friends.” Then she led me to a table where 3 men were already seated and engaged in conversation. The hostess said, “Gentlemen – this is Mikki. Mikki – this is Troy, Steven and Max.” She walked away, I sat down, and the 4 of us commenced to talking.

 

I’m a friendly gal and I’m generally a pretty good gauge of people’s decency. But I don’t rush into getting to know people and I don’t give out my digits all willy-nilly. I’m a fairly private person and I’m okay with that. So it was rather surprising to find myself having a mature, honest and soulful conversation with those 3 guys. And it wasn’t just me. They seemed to recognize that something unique was happening as well. The 4 of us were engaging in the manner of old friends. It was lovely. It was refreshing. It was crazy.

 

And the show? I don’t know what to tell you. Melissa Manchester took the stage, began her first song of the evening, and I started crying. (Gentle, happy tears, mind you.) And I smiled and cried right through to the end of the show. Her voice is as resonant and sonorous as ever. She is a beautiful performer. She kind of blew my mind.

 

Miss Liza Minnelli

 

It turned out that Michael Feinstein was also in the audience. So was Miss Liza Minnelli. That’s her in the hat, barely visible in the center of the above photo. Though you can’t tell from this pic, she was as cute as a fucking button. For reals.

 

Melissa Manchester and Troy

 

After the show, my new pals and I stayed for a meet and greet. That’s Troy with Melissa Manchester.

 

Melissa Manchester and Me

 

And that’s me with her. When you meet an idol, your glee just about cracks your face.

 

So many things that pop up in life require an answer. A lot of the time I say No. And let’s be honest – No is often the correct answer. But not always. Sometimes life invites me to say Yes. And sometimes I do. When I decided to go to that Melissa Manchester show, I didn’t know what the night might hold. I only knew that the kid in me really wanted to see one of my vocal heroes. I didn’t know she would be amazing. I didn’t know I was going to experience a sincere connection with 3 strangers. I didn’t know the 4 of us would be texting one another and trying to plan a get-together in a few months time. I didn’t know I would come away from the night as a better version of myself. Someone whose skin fit a little more than it did the day before.

 

The Stalkers

 

But that’s exactly what I got. Magic. All because I said Yes.

Pop-Up Art in Los Angeles

 

There’s a pop-up art show going on near downtown Los Angeles, installed by “The Art Department,” an anonymous art collective working in and around L.A. I went today, but be warned: the show will only be open 2 more days (Saturday and Sunday). A link to the show’s info is here. And if you’re planning to attend and want to be surprised, stop reading this post, dammit!

 

Dandelions: One Dandelion Per Person

 

Actually, I’m not sure if this is an art show or not. I think it may be something altogether different. It may be performance. It may be magic. Or maybe my experience was atypical. It certainly got off on the right foot…

 

I was driving (to the address I’d received in an email) when my phone rang. It was my sweet friend Cate Graves, who’s now living in Nashville. She was just checking in, but talking with Cate is never just anything. She’s a freaking light in the world and I adore her. Our conversation meandered, insights were shared, spiritual guidance was gifted. By the time we said our good-byes, I was in the designated parking lot and ready to get my art on. I’m telling you this bit because I want you to understand my frame of mind at that time. I was in a warm, gooey joy bubble after talking with my friend. And because I speak openly with her, I was a wee bit vulnerable. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just, well, it’s just where I was.

 

Anyhoo – “The Art Department” had provided certain guidelines for their pop-up, so I checked in with the folks tasked with readying visitors and was given a ticket…

 

Dandelions: Magic Ticket

 

Well that was intriguing! After a few minutes, our group was instructed to walk the short distance to the installation. I was still going over thoughts and ideas my friend had sprinkled around me, so I didn’t really talk to anyone in the group. But my head wasn’t down, either. I was terribly moved by a fence of bougainvillea I passed along the way. It was worth slowing down to really see it…

 

Dandelions: On The Walk to The Experience

 

Once we’d arrived at the installation site – a live electrical substation-  some last-minute instructions were given. I listened and walked toward the building. I realized I was tightly gripping the ticket I’d received only a few minutes before.

 

Dandelions: Outside the Electrical Substation Building

 

I knew the word Dandelions was associated with this pop-up. I did not know anything beyond that. So when I climbed the external stairs to enter the building, I had no idea what waited behind the wooden door…

 

Dandelions: Indoor Garden

 

The indoor garden took me by surprise and took me to joy. I started smiling and slowly walking through the living greenery, stopping here and there to study the scene.

 

Dandelions: Indoor Garden - So Many Wishes

 

The space wasn’t pretending to be anything other than itself, but it didn’t need to pretend. It was beautiful. It was engaging. It was alive.

 

Dandelions: Indoor Garden and Electric Substation Beyond

 

By the time I reached the end of the path, I really thought that might have been the whole she-bang. I had no idea how trippy-cool my experience was about to become.

 

I sat down with a uniformed gentleman who looked at me and asked, “Do you have your wish ready?” Y’all – I hadn’t prepared anything! But in that instant, I knew I did have a wish. And I was ready. So I answered in the affirmative and the gentleman drew something and asked if my wish resembled the drawing. I told him the truth, “I’ve never thought about how my wish might appear on paper. I suppose that’s as good an interpretation as any.” He asked if I was certain and I said I was. He then instructed me to go to the next station: The Wish-Tek 2000.

 

Dandelions: Wish-Tek 2000

 

The retro-cool of the moment wasn’t lost on me. The questions, though simple, made me really think about my wish. I continued to smile as I entered answers for each question. I may have laughed a few times, too. Once I’d completed my run-through of the program, I was instructed to go to the next station. There I found another uniformed  person, asking to see my hand stamp and ticket. After the lady processed my entry, I was sent into a room with a large map of L.A. County. There was also a printer there, continuously spitting out lines of prose.

 

Dandelions: It Was the City That Held You

 

The uniformed gentleman in that room handed me a small clipboard and instructed me to write my wish. He told me to then use a pin to attach my wish to the map, anywhere I wanted. I wrote the wish and after a moment of serious consideration, I chose a specific place to pin my wish. I moved on.

 

Dandelions: Wishes on the L.A. County Map

 

The next stop was really the culmination of the journey: setting my wish upon the air. The uniformed lady in that small space carefully chose a dandelion from a wall that contained about a jillion of the billowy orbs. She gave it to me and pointed to a wall, telling me to choose where my wish best fit…

 

Dandelions: Qualifying One's Wish

 

After blowing the dandelion seeds away and into the universe, I passed a window and looked through to the two-story high space occupying the same building. There were so many dandelion seeds moving through the air, it was magical. All I could think was how beautiful it was to see all those wishes floating about. All those dreams.

 

Dandelions: Wishes in the Air

 

I knew it was time for my experience to come to a close, so I walked toward the Seed Sorting Department…

 

Dandelions: Seed Sorting Department

 

I was astounded by the tremendous piles of seeds, practically filling the whole room. I took a few photos but realized the best pic was the one showing the seed sorter at work…

 

Dandelions: Seed Sorter at Work

 

I walked down a flight of stairs and made my way outside. I wasn’t caught off-guard by my constant smile. In the right frame of mind, I’m a pretty smiley chick. But I was surprised at the way I seemed to cry throughout the experience. I think the first tear fell when I entered the living garden and honestly, I didn’t stop crying until I was back in my car. That’s okay. Tears of joy are a gift. Having an unexpected artful experience is a gift. Living is a gift.

 

If you’re in L.A. and looking for something to do this weekend, consider going to the Dandelions installation. It’s quirky, it’s cool, it’s performance, it’s art. I don’t know how or why I was sent information about this pop-up. But I’m grateful to have seen it. And that wish I made? I’ll never tell…

 

Dandelions: Indoor Garden - One Final Glance

World Press Freedom Day

 

The Old Art Studio - Random Shelf

 

I just watched something on the Beeb News site that caused me to catch my breath and to tear up a bit. It’s here and it’s amazing. It’s a brief video about Zehra Dogan. Two minutes and forty two seconds.

 

To see the lengths a person is willing to go to for her truth, for her art – I am astounded. To see how brave someone can be in the face of oppression and inhumanity is inspiring.

 

Our world is pretty fucked up, friends. I don’t know why. I really don’t. But I do know that seeing others stand up to those who would destroy us is fuel for the decent, for the just. I needed this little boost today. And I am grateful.

“Privileged”

 

The Container Yard Outside Art by Sek

 

Kyle Korver is an NBA player for the Utah Jazz, a white player. He recently wrote a piece for The Players’ Tribune, titled “Privileged.” If you’ve not read it, the link is here. And yes – I think you should read it.

 

I could go on and on about the piece, about my thoughts and feelings on the subject matter, but I won’t. Korver’s thoughts and feelings are expressed honestly. The man speaks truth.

 

May we all learn to listen.

You Can’t Make Everyone Happy

 

You're Not a Taco

 

New month. Same me.

 

That’s okay. Today I’m meditating on the fact that I can’t make everyone happy. Sometimes that may mean I can’t quite make me happy. At my best, I can ride out those times until a different day comes along and I am able to cajole myself to joy. Those days truly are the best.

 

For now, for today, I will do my best to simply be. To try to enjoy friends and loved ones. To see art and to let it wash over me. And maybe, just maybe, to have a taco. Tacos really are pretty freaking perfect.

Don’t Change

 

Mikki - Blurred

 

In 1983 or ’84 – I don’t remember which – I was in an elevator, riding to the top of the Sears Tower in Chicago. How I wound up there is basic: family vacation. I was a teenager in high school and family vay-cays were part of the drill. (I may or may not have been wasted. I honestly don’t remember.)

 

But I digress… Those elevators were freaking fast, even then. But I still had time to read the back of the t-shirt of one of my fellow Sears Tower elevator riders. It was from a concert tour: INXS. And there were the full lyrics (or so I assumed), to “Don’t Change.” Despite the lift’s speed, I was able to read all the text on that t-shirt’s back, the complete lyrics to a song I’d never heard by a band I didn’t know.

 

Cut to last night. I was watching “120 Minutes” on the MTV and the video for “Don’t Change” came on. (I may or may have been wasted. I honestly don’t care to tell you.) In the video, those baby-faced INXS mates looked as young as I probably did when I stood in that elevator reading the back of that stranger’s shirt, all those years ago. And the lyrics were as fabulous last night as they were then .

 

I think I’m molting, friends. At least that’s the pleasant way I’m choosing to see it. And shedding one’s skin to make way for growth is absolutely wonderful. But don’t kid yourself. There will always be parts of you that remain. And those parts are a gift from all the gods. Maybe it’s watching the end of “Romper Room” and waiting in vain to hear your name called as the sweet lady host looks in her mirror and announces the names of all she can see. Maybe it’s running to secure a seat during your very first concert at a general admission venue (Blondie, by the way), and your best friend losing one of her shoes and you yelling, “Leave it!” while tugging at her hand. Or maybe it’s an elevator ride, and liquid poetry that stays with you for all time, since before you heard its tune. There are parts of us that endure, no matter what.

 

And honestly, would you really want to change those parts of yourself?

 

Me, neither.

 

Mikki in Party Mode

Her Story Began…

 

G is For Girl

 

Once upon a time there was a gal who loved living. She loved the world. She loved seeing what might happen next.

 

She also felt things quite deeply. Sometimes she felt too much. At her best, she was able to process her feelings and all the resulting colors that filled her soul. At her best.

 

Other times, the world was too much for her. And she swayed beneath the weight. During those times, she drew inside her skin and tried to keep the darkness to herself. Whether or not this was a good idea never crossed her mind. The girl simply didn’t want that part of her to be shared.

 

There came a day when the girl realized she needed help. She needed her friends, yes, but she also needed to reach out beyond her circle for guidance. For better or worse (for better, surely), the girl recognized she could no longer muddle through her darkness. Her friends looked her in the eye and were there for her. Her doctor hugged her and said he would help. And she said thank you to each and every one of them.

 

She knew finding her footing would be work. She knew it wouldn’t be easy to get back to fitting in her skin. She knew the road would be long and that she would sometimes be traveling in darkness. She also knew she was strong. She knew she would eventually find the light. She knew her soul was worth saving.

 

And so her story began…

Sorry We’re So Sorry

 

Historic Chinese Theatre - View From the Owners Box

 

Sorry to hit you with this on a Friday. I’m sorry to hit you with it any time, really. It’s that pitiful. It is also that important.

 

The other night I attended a documentary screening. (It was powerful, lovely, and it’s called “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” and I’ll be thinking about it for some time.) Before the feature documentary was shown, a documentary short appeared on the screen. It was all of seven minutes and it left a full theatre silently stunned.

 

A Night at the Garden” is terrifying, heartbreaking, ominous. Unfortunately, it is also real. And I think it should be seen. That’s why I’ve given you the link to its site, where the short can be viewed in its entirety. It is only seven minutes – promise.

 

Like I said, I’m sorry to hit you with this. I’m also sorry we’re so sorry. We are, you know. And I’m afraid that owning it is the only way we’re likely to become better. Dear god – may my hope not be in vain.