Monkee-Walking

 

Happy New Year, y’all. Sorry to have missed saying that in a timely fashion. My attention has been elsewhere.

 

Like thinking about how this is a Leap Year. And how the last Leap Year sucked syphilitic donkey wieners. And how this one isn’t starting off too well, if you pay attention to the bastards trying to kill us all.

 

And there’s a creative collaboration I’m working on. It’s amazing and terrifying and outside the realms of anything I’ve ever done before. That realization could paralyze me into giving up.

 

And then there’s the book I’ve been writing. I’ve cried, I’ve laughed, I’ve gotten stuck. I’ve workshopped it and gotten feedback from trusted sources.

 

All those things (and about a million-billion-godzillion others) are keeping me busy. Distracted. Scattered. And that’s good! Mostly. The thing is – I can handle it. I can tackle my own projects and work on my issues. I can shut out the assholes who choose to focus on hate and despair. I can create.

 

Yes – there’s a good chance the Fucktard-in-Chief will get me killed. But until that happens, I’m a vital, positive force in my little world. The bastards can’t do a damn thing to change that.

 

The collaboration I’m involved in is new and exciting and although it’s so much bigger than me or anything I’ve ever done, I’m game. I’m throwing multi-colored spaghetti at so many walls, there’s no telling what might stick or what might happen.

 

And the book? I had given myself until Christmas to finish the first draft. Two weeks before Christmas, I hit save and the first draft was finished. Printing it made it incredibly real…

 

First Draft of My Book

 

Rewrites await, as do editing sessions. For now, I’m starting to get more feedback and, well, I’ve already had a crying jag from that. I don’t mind telling you – the tears were happy and grateful.

 

The world may not know it, but this is our year. We can live it fully, with zeal and passion. We can grow beyond the confines of our skin. We can leap. My tribe and I are linking arms and Monkee-walking toward the future. Toward our brightest selves. Toward whatever we want to accomplish. You’re welcome to join in. Or get the hell out of our way. Your choice, your life.

Happy Christmas

 

WEXMAS 2015

 

For reals.

Once Upon a Time in a New York Elevator…

 

Mikki in the Nineties at an MIT Party

 

A couple of days ago I read that the lead singer of Roxette, Marie Fredriksson, had died. I wasn’t much of a Roxette fan, truth be told. But I knew of them. Reading about Fredriksson’s death didn’t tug at my heartstrings, but it did trigger a memory. And it’s a doozy…

 

About a jillion years ago – in the 90s – I was a flight attendant on a layover in New York. Our crew arrived at a Manhattan hotel late on a Saturday night. While checking in, I looked across the lobby and spotted another arriving flight crew. One of their flight attendants had gone through training with me and I was tickled pink to see her. Anne and I hadn’t seen one another for a few years and after our happy hugs and greetings, we agreed to get our asses to our rooms, change and meet in the lobby in a few minutes.

 

It was summer so the New York night was warm and electric. Anne and I walked to a bar and had a drink while catching up. Then we had another drink and caught up some more. Before we knew what was happening, the bar was closing. We weren’t yet ready to part, so when we encountered a hansom cab outside the bar we gave a listen to the driver’s pitch. He was really pushing for a sale and when he offered to drive us around for an hour for $25 and a stop for beer, we took him up on it.

 

His name was Eli and he was as amused by us as we were of him. Now would be a good time for me to tell you an important detail about that night. I was speaking in a Cockney accent. At least I think that’s what it sounded like. Why? I have no idea. From the moment we encountered Eli on the street outside the bar, my voice went Cockney and that was that. Once I’d gotten going with the ruse, I kind of felt like I had to keep at it. So for the entirety of that carriage ride, I was a Cockney. Go figure.

 

Eli was a man of his word, so he stopped right away for a couple of tall boys at a liquor store while Anne and I waited in the hansom cab. He dashed out and our tour commenced. He led us through Central Park and pointed out various sights along the way. The few times we passed other carriages, Eli addressed each driver by name. He was darling. At one point, we were passing a dark and busy street corner in the city. There were several ladies of the evening standing about and Eli pointed them out to us, saying they were “working girls.” In my most pitiful and astonished Cockney accent I asked, “Eli, do you mean to say they’re prostitutes?” He laughed and said, “Yeah. That’s right. Man! I just love that accent of yours!” Anne and I nearly cracked our ribs from laughter. The entire carriage ride was a hoot. It lasted two hours and at its end Eli dropped us off at our hotel. We thanked him for the awesome tour and fine company and went inside. It was pretty late in the night (or early in the morning, depending on your perspective), so Anne and I hugged and said our farewells before going to our respective rooms and crashing. Hard.

 

The next morning, Sunday, I wasn’t able to sleep in as much as I would have liked after such a boisterous evening, as I had an appointment in the city. As it happened, my mother-in-law was also in Manhattan that weekend and she had invited me to join her and a friend for brunch. I was hungover and dragging, but I was also a poor flight attendant. So a free meal wasn’t going to be denied. (And come on – I didn’t get to see the MIL very often. Of course I was gonna go.) I put on the nicest clothes I had with me: short black boots, a black vest and a denim mini-skirt with a tattered hem. Oh – and sunglasses, because, you know, the night before. I went downstairs and asked a doorman how to get where I was going and I took off.

 

When I arrived at the friggin’ Waldorf Astoria, I walked into the dining room to meet the MIL and her buddy. The “captain” of the facilities came over to me right away and said, “We do not allow denim in the Waldorf dining area!” Before I could even blink, I looked across the way and saw my MIL. She was dressed to the nines, I tell ya. She looked fabulous. With a lowered, bedraggled voice, I said to the captain, “Actually – I’m here to meet these ladies” and I gestured in my MIL’s direction. The captain looked over, then said, “But of course.” I went over, greeted my MIL and sat with her and her friend at their table. They were drinking champagne and I would have liked to have joined them. But as I was due to work that day and not allowed to drink within 12 hours of reporting for duty, I abstained. Plus – the hangover and all. I mean, I never once took off my sunglasses.

 

After a few minutes of catching up at the table, the three of us got up and went to the buffet. Can I just tell you something? The Waldorf Astoria buffet was the most extraordinary I have ever seen. It was beautiful, decadent and delicious. Of all the free meals I’ve been privileged to consume, that one may be at the top of my list. But I digress… With my full plate in hand, I began walking back to our table. After only a few steps, the captain appeared at my side. He reached for my plate, took it from my hands and leaned close to me and whispered, “I am so sorry I did not recognize you earlier. Please forgive me.” I whispered back, “No problem.” He carried my plate to the table, asked if we needed anything else, and left us to our brunching. I never knew who I was thought to be.

 

The fantastic brunch ended, I thanked my MIL for the eats and said my goodbyes. As it was a nice day and I felt I needed to walk off some of the hang, I didn’t take the subway. I pushed myself to stay in the sun and took my time moseying back to the hotel. When I got there, I went straight to the elevator and entered a vacant lift. Just as the doors were about to slide closed, a woman and her daughter stepped in. The girl appeared to be about 10 or so. She looked up at me, with my very Mikki-attire, sunglasses and spiky blonde hair (Did I forget to tell you I had spiky platinum hair? I did.), and she nearly lost it. She was visibly excited and pulling on her mother’s hand. Her mom leaned down and I heard the little girl whisper “Roxette!” I fought back a smile. The elevator stopped at my floor, I stepped off, turned to look at the girl and flashed her a peace sign. She actually squealed with delight. The elevator doors closed and I went to my room to ready for my work shift. My hangover lingered, but I swear – it was lessened by the encounter with that little girl.

 

No – I wasn’t a Roxette fan, nor am I now. But on that day, in that elevator in New York, I was. It must have been love, but it’s over now. Godspeed Marie Fredriksson. Thank you for one of the fondest memories in my satchel.

Great L.A. Walk 2019

 

A lot has been going on of late. I’m going to share some, in a backwards fashion. Deal with it.

 

This past Saturday was the Great L.A. Walk (GLAW). This year marked my fourth go and it was the longest yet – almost 19 miles. It was a departure from my past participation in that it started in the Valley instead of Downtown L.A. There was one more difference, too – I didn’t know anyone. I was walking solo.

 

I considered backing out. That would certainly have been easy. But there were two reasons I decided to go. I wanted to feel the sense of satisfaction after completing the walk and I wanted to see the city up close. So I showed up.

 

GLAW 2019 Arcadia Park

 

When I woke that morning, I had been having a lovely dream about hiking through the countryside with a group of people. In the dream, one fellow hiker was pointing out a Peahen along the path. I woke soon after spotting the bird and got ready to go. When I arrived at the starting point in Arcadia County Park, what do you think I spied with my little eye? Yes – a Peacock.

 

GLAW 2019 Santa Anita Park

 

The walk began and I was alone. (Don’t feel bad. I was good.) The first mile passed Santa Anita Park. You may have heard of this race track. A lot of horses have died there of late. Something ain’t right, y’all. But I didn’t come for the ponies. I walked on by.

 

GLAW 2019 Marching Band Competition

 

It was at this early juncture that I took a slightly wrong turn. Whereas everyone else was cutting through the Santa Anita parking lot, I meandered around it. Yes – this added about a half mile to my route, but it also allowed me to see some marching bands and flag corps getting ready for a big competition. I’m good with the extra steps. Those kids were better to look at than a parking lot.

 

GLAW 2019 Los Angeles Arboretum

 

The next big site was the Los Angeles County Arboretum. I won’t lie. I’ve never been. But it was danged cute from the outside. And there was another Peacock.

 

Pretty soon after I found myself chatting with a lovely gentleman who has walked 13 of the 14 GLAWs to date. Let’s call him David, as that was his name. We walked and chatted for a few miles. David was perfectly friendly, but at some point he was outpacing me and I decided I wouldn’t keep up. I told him I was gonna hang back a bit and I bid him farewell.

 

The next couple of miles weren’t anything to write home about. That stretch was all about getting into Pasadena. I did spot some pretty good sidewalk graffiti, however…

 

GLAW 2019 Sidewalk Graffiti

 

By the time I hit Colorado Boulevard, I had begun chatting with another GLAW walker. I’ll call him Eddie, because, you know, that was his name. Eddie was alright. Turned out he appreciated a nice beer, so when we hit Old Town Pasadena, we opted to stop for lunch at a familiar pub and our conversation continued. We spent an hour there and then we hit the road again. 8 miles down.

 

After we got through Old Town, it was time to cross the Colorado Street Bridge.

 

GLAW 2019 Colorado Street Bridge Pasadena

 

Now – I’ve seen this bridge for decades, as it’s visible from the 134 freeway. It’s beautiful and I have wanted to walk across it for ages. I finally got my chance.

 

It’s known as “Suicide Bridge” and a lot of souls have ended their lives there. I can’t speak to that, but I can tell you that when I’d crossed and looked back, it was even more beautiful than I thought…

 

GLAW 2019 Colorado Street Bridge Pasadena Looking Back

 

After a few more miles, we entered Highland Park. This area reminded me why I do this crazy walk. I’ve driven through Highland Park more times than I can count. But until I walked it, I had never really seen it.

 

GLAW 2019 Highland Park Knitted Phone Booth

 

Had I been in a car, I never would have seen how someone knitted around an old phone booth.

 

GLAW 2019 Highland Park Street Mural

 

Each corner along Figueroa Street has a cool inlaid mosaic. They’re all different and they’re all lovely. This one happens to mark where Chicken Boy resides.

 

GLAW 2019 Highland Park Chicken Man

 

Chicken Boy was first erected in the 1960s and lived Downtown at the Grand Central Market until the mid-80s. Now he’s found his forever home and he’s much-loved.

 

During this stretch, Eddie and I were starting to feel the miles. We knew we had about 6 more to go and we were committed to finishing. I don’t know why, but we never checked the time. We just kept going.

 

GLAW 2019 Broadway Bridge Los Angleles in the Distance

 

By the time we crossed the Broadway Bridge, we realized we were close. There was Los Angeles. It was beautiful. We kept walking.

 

GLAW 2019 Chinatown

 

When we entered Chinatown, we checked the itinerary. 17 miles down.

 

I started to get excited, but not like years past. I have literally jumped for joy when nearing the end of past GLAW walks. On this day, I was just happy to be finishing.

 

Eddie and I talked about some of the people we passed on the sidewalk and how they were just out for a good time. It would have been beyond their comprehension to hear we’d walked from freaking Arcadia. We didn’t tell anyone or anything, we just kind of marveled at how you can be in a public place, and no one has a clue about you. Of course, the converse was true as well. We didn’t know a damn thing about any of the folks we passed. Frankly, I was too tired to care.

 

When we reached the end of the walk – Los Angeles City Hall – Eddie checked the time. Not counting our lunch stop, we had covered the nearly 19 miles in 6 hours. Pretty good, if I say so myself.

 

The group was slated to meet at a bar for some celebratory hang time and I intended to go. I really did. But I looked up from City Hall and the Metro stop was right there. The pull proved too much for me. I hugged Eddie goodbye and thanked him for the fine company, then I walked to the train station and headed underground. There was still daylight when I made it home.

 

My muscles fared fine. I did have some joint pain that night and the next day, but it cleared up by Monday. I had exactly one blister, but that was it. I did alright. That sense of accomplishment? It showed up in spades. Seeing the city up close and personal? Yep and yep. It’s a crazy thing to do, I know. I just dig it. It makes me feel alive and reminds me that I’m part of this town. A big old dorky part of Los Angeles. I’ll take it.

 

GLAW 2019 Los Angeles City Hall

Gutsy Women

 

A few nights ago I was privileged to attend a discussion about a new book. It was held at the 125-year-old Ebell Women’s Club, a place I’m pretty used to visiting. I was there with all kinds of chicks I love (another privilege), so I knew I’d have a good time. What I got was much more.

 

Maria Shriver

 

Maria Shriver led the conversation with the book’s authors. When she came out, she said she intended to steer the conversation in a positive direction, to stay away from ugliness and hate. She’s pretty damned sharp. She’s also a humanitarian. She would have been enough of a draw, but we got more.

 

Maria Shriver, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton in Conversation

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton have written The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience and when they walked out on stage, it was amazing. The theatre roared and I was on my feet in an instant. There was so much positive energy. It was really beautiful.

 

Speaking about the book, the authors told of important women and the impacts they’ve had in our world. Unfortunately, history has often refused to acknowledge these women, history mostly recorded by men. My curiosity was piqued and I can hardly wait to read the book. I fully expect to learn a great deal and to be inspired. That was certainly my experience last night.

 

Chelsea Clinton

 

I have to tell you – I expected Mrs. Clinton’s speech and demeanor to be intelligent and confident. I didn’t know what to expect from Chelsea Clinton, however, and I could not have been happier. She was brilliant, personable, witty and assertive. Maria Shriver did an excellent job of keeping the conversation moving and she asked some pointed questions. The three women on that stage were amazing.

 

As I drove one of my friends home, she and I talked about the night. We both felt it had been a bit surreal, that we were amazed to have been there, to have witnessed the conversation. We were so impressed with what we saw and heard. And we were grateful.

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton

 

Before entering the theatre, attendees were given an opportunity to write questions for Mrs. Clinton and Chelsea Clinton. I thought about it a bit, and realized the only question I had was this: Can you imagine how quiet our country’s political front would be had my fellow Americans done the right thing and voted for the betterment of our country, how much more safe the entire world would be, how fewer service members lives would have been lost, how much lower our national debt would be, how much better our reputation in the world would be, how much more respectable our supreme court would be without a seated sexual predator, how downright boring our day-to-day government functions could have been? I know – it was a lot. In the end, I decided I wouldn’t write my question, that I would just listen. I made the right call.

 

Shriver’s intention of a positive conversation had been achieved. There were gutsy women on the stage and in the theatre. It was a love-fest, and I got to see it. From the front row.

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton - a Gutsy Woman

Passion Follows

 

Big Bear Clouds, Too

 

I’m knee-deep in getting a show ready for the stage, but took a breather to attend a writers’ retreat this past weekend. It took place at Big Bear in the San Bernardino Mountains. It was cold, y’all (by Los Angeles standards) and there was an abundance of nature (again – by Los Angeles standards). I was pretty happy about all that.

 

The retreat was led by Pete Goldfinger who is, well, how do I describe him? We only just met and I am already singing the guy’s praises. He is a successful screenwriter, yes, but he is also a natural when it comes to teaching. I learned so much from him and came away with a hunger to learn more. To dig deeper into the process of creating. He touched on aspects of writing that I hadn’t ever considered. My mind felt like a kid discovering the 64-box of crayons after only knowing about the 8-box. So much color! I was overwhelmed, in the best way, and couldn’t wait to use what I was learning – to create, to envision, to dream.

 

Big Bear Clouds

 

And I can’t begin to describe the other attendees. Their projects are exciting, varied and creative times eleven-ty. Being around them was a privilege. Picking their brains was informative. And they were fun. I hope I see them again. I want to hear their stories. I want to be challenged by their ideas and intelligence. I want to hang out with them.

 

Once I got home, I watched an interview with Jeff Bridges and he spoke about a TEDx talk given by Terri Trespicio and how it inspired him. In the video, she gives her take on passion and how we are too often told to figure out what we’re passionate about and to follow that. She posits that this particular course can be limiting or worse. To butcher her words, she says we should get after life. Take care of business. Hustle. Make those ends. If we are busy with the business of living, we won’t have to follow our passion. Our passion will follow us. As someone who’s barely keeping her head above water while spinning various plates and juggling multiple commitments, I can tell you that Ms. Trespicio may be right. Yes – I’m overwhelmed with all that’s going on. But I’m still here. I’m still going for it. And if I look over my shoulder, I can see the shadow of passion just behind me. And I can’t stop smiling.

 

Mikki Writing at Big Bear - Photo by Yeni

Baby Power

 

I saw this headline while perusing the news on my phone:

 

Baby Power

 

And I thought, it’s about time. Babies have held too much power for far too long in this world. Thank goodness Johnson & Johnson is taking it back!

 

Then Mister pointed out the error, which sent me into a tizzy as those sorts of blatant errors are like fingernails on a chalkboard for me, and I rescinded my rant. Okay. Whatever. Babies. Am I right?

I Don’t Need a Boat.

 

When discussing something or other, I often say, “I don’t need a boat. I need a friend with a boat.” This is terribly true. I neither want the responsibility nor the burden of owning a boat, y’all. But if a friend has taken on all that accompanies possessing a water craft, then I am more than happy to appreciate that person’s kindness in allowing me to enjoy their boat. Of course this extends to all sorts of things. And I am grateful for the blessings of my friends’ lives, and for their generosity. So much of what I get to do in this world is due to various friends and their willingness to share their blessings with me. Yes – I am a lucky gal.

 

A couple of nights ago I was invited to a screening of “Judy” and while I thought it might be okay, I had no idea what I was in for. The film is just lovely and heartbreaking and informative and beautiful and powerful and… I could go on, but I won’t, except to add this: When every single person around you – female and male – is crying because of how good a film is, you have won. Period.

 

Renee Zellweger

 

The friend who invited me out for the screening is a member of the SAG Nominating Committee. The Screen Actors Guild is responsible for the SAG Awards, which will be in January of 2020. The Nominating Committee, as I understand it, will, well, nominate individuals and groups of actors for the SAG Awards. Because this was an industry thing, Renee Zellweger, who stars in “Judy,” was on-hand for a Q&A after the film. And she was pretty cool. Down-to-earth, honest – she made quite the impression on me and I find myself with a newfound respect for her as an actor.

 

I got to enjoy that night out because a friend shared her privilege with me. I don’t need a boat. I’ve got friends. So yeah – I really am a lucky gal.

A Reader

 

Mikki at a New Orleans Book Store - 2012

 

More than one friend has told me about reading a really good book, and parsing out the last few chapters, to make the read last. And each time I’ve heard this, I’ve marveled. Whenever I’m reading a great book, I want nothing more than to zip right through it. It’s all I can do to function properly within the parameters of the rest of my life when I’m in the middle of a page-turner.

 

But now, I don’t know, things have changed. These days, when I read a book I’m super-into I get a dark feeling as I near its end. And when the last page has been read and the book is closed, I actually experience a bit of mourning.

 

I’m going through that right now, as I just finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls. I had gotten comfortable with “Vivian” and her New York City life. I liked my time with her. I liked her. And now that I’m done with the book, I miss her. I miss her wit and her insight. I miss her unique-to-her skills and sense of adventure. I miss that book’s world.

 

For some time I’ve been aware of the fact that I will never live long enough to read all the books I’d like. That’s heavy enough. Couple that with the aching that accompanies the finishing of a lovely tome and I find it’s a bit much.

 

But I am a reader. No denying it. And that’s why Graham Swift’s Waterland is at my side, ready to introduce me to a new world, to new characters. I have no idea what’s coming, as this book is on loan from my friend Lorinda. No matter – I’m ready.

Nope.

 

The Container Yard Tour_Hell No

 

I stopped in the grocery store yesterday and nearly tripped over the Thanksgiving displays by the entrance. Nope.

 

I ran into a department store, looking for something or other, and an entire section had been taken over by Christmas decorations. Nope.

 

And don’t even get me started on the repugnant, amoral, racist pig in the White House. Double nope.

 

Y’all – can’t we just have the here and now? Can’t we just find our own moral compasses and follow the damned things? Can’t we just do better? Be better?

 

These are the days when I wish I had a cave to hide in.