Bloom

 

Sometimes when I’m out walking, I look around and marvel at how great Los Angeles can be. Our sweet neighborhoods hold every type of house and mostly good people. I love seeing what folks have done to their homes and how they deal with drought in their landscaping. Mostly, I enjoy this city when I’m out walking. I lay claim to it, and it lays claim to me.

 

Road Closed

 

But not always. Los Angeles, like a lot of the country, is injured. And I’m not talking about nature, with her drought and fire damage. I’m referring to our staggering homeless population and city policies that have contributed to it. Rubber-stamping high-priced developments continues to diminish affordable housing here. Hell – the bunkers going up by our home wiped out the character-filled, affordable homes that once added to our neighborhood. The ugly-ass structures now towering over our street leave me wondering which hideous box will serve as the local fall-out shelter. (They really are that heinous, y’all.) And the unprofessional, callous behavior of the developers themselves is appalling. But I guess they donate to the right campaigns, as they continue to enjoy free rein in this town, regardless of their conduct or product.

 

It’s “development” like what’s taking place in our neighborhood that is tarnishing my adopted hometown. Now, when I walk around, I see the cracks. I see the failures of our leaders and the trickle-down effect. The photo above captures this perfectly. When the powers that be dump on their constituents, the constituents dump on their surroundings. It ain’t right and I don’t like it. But there’s no denying it’s happening. And no matter how sweet the neighborhood, no one is immune.

 

I’m trying hard to remember to bloom where I’m planted. And I am definitely planted, y’all. Today – like every day – will find a busload of arriving souls, starry-eyed and hopeful for dreams of L.A. And for her part, Los Angeles will deliver what she can. But she’s not perfect, and those who govern her are as flawed as anyone can be. So while those of us who choose to plant ourselves here get great weather, we also get the weight of the city. And for as long as we remain, we must carry it. That isn’t new. I’ve known that since day 1. It’s just that sometimes, well, it’s hard to bloom where you’re planted when the bloom is off the rose.

L.A.

 

 

Yesterday it rained. For reals. And now we’re expecting a heatwave. That’s L.A., folks. It makes no sense.

 

When I woke yesterday morning, it was from a dream. In the dream, I was swimming. I knew the pool’s water was too cold, but I was swimming anyway. And I loved it. At some point (in the dream), I wondered if I could simply stay in the pool forever…

 

The rain, the dream – I’m sure it all ties together somehow. Maybe the impending heat, too. But I don’t need to figure it out. It doesn’t matter.

 

Sometimes living here gets to be too much. Generally, I handle it okay. This may simply be one of those times. All that means is that I’ll ride out whatever it is I’m feeling and hopefully get back to me soon. Hopefully.

 

In the meantime, it is what it is. And what it is, is L.A., folks. It makes  no sense.

Fall on Me. Please!

 

 

It’s been hot and muggy and if I lived some other place, I’d swear we were in for a tornado or something creepy like that.

 

But I don’t live some other place. I live in L.A. and summer has been holding on for dear life, desperately trying to keep autumn at bay. That hasn’t worked, of course, as today is the first day of autumn, no matter how hot it is.

 

Part of my soul struggles a bit this time of year. I expect signs of fall. Like crisp days and yellow leaves. I expect to need a sweater now and then. I expect these things and I miss them, as they’re simply not part of my Los Angeles experience. I’ve spoken to folks who grew up here, and they’re mostly fine with what passes for autumn in these parts. Sure – it’s warmer than it used to be, but L.A. natives never knew football weather growing up. For them, all is well.

 

Mister and I have lived here for decades now, and I suppose I should try to let go of my childhood dependency on season changes. If that’s even possible, I mean. Because maybe I’ll always feel a bit out of place when autumn rolls around. Maybe I’ll always feel out of step with nature.

 

Maybe I should just learn to love the damned palm trees. I can try, but I’m not making any promises.

My Just Reward

 

 

Earlier this week I had some errands to run over in another part of town. You know – away from home. So I started mentally planning my trip and realized I could turn it into a bike ride. I mean – I have baskets for cry-eye – why not? So on the appointed day, I kicked the tires and took off.

 

The round trip was only about 15 miles, but that was a nice bit of exercise and I checked something off my to-do list. Right smack dab in the middle of the ride, I started getting hungry. So I began looking around for a little restaurant and a bike rack.

 

I found plenty of places to eat, but bike racks? Not so much. I couldn’t understand that, but hey – this is L.A. We love our cars, people. So I kept riding. I passed place after place, good food after good food, but no bike racks. Finally, I remembered a craft beer joint nearby. I also remembered how the owner is a biker and had bike racks installed out front for his customers. I rode to the bar, secured my wheels, went in and found a spot at the jam-packed counter and placed my order. The ‘tender asked if I wanted to run a tab or close out my order. I looked and him and said, “Dude! I can’t ride drunk! Close that bitch!” He laughed and brought me my check.

 

Now you’d think I was most looking forward to my food – a smoked duck and bacon sausage lunch special. And I was hungry and the food was good. But my just reward for all that biking? A beautiful wild ale.

 

 

I figured that beer would last me through my food and then some, but I started talking with the chick seated beside me and my food took a little longer than expected and before you knew it, I signaled the ‘tender and said, “Dude! Open that bitch! I need another drink!” We all had a good laugh and easy conversation continued. Before long, it was time to go. The ‘tender high-fived me on my way out and the counter chick and I exchanged our good-byes. I walked outside, unlocked my bike and headed home.

 

It was a good day. It really was.

Joy Personified

 

 

While out in the world this week, I witnessed more than a few folks who seemed to be quite frazzled by the holidays. A couple of them were certainly over-stressed, and on the verge of blowing a gasket. A few others were keeping it together, but the effort to achieve that looked something like “Frank Costanza” screaming “Serenity now!” Not good, folks.

 

In the face of all that, I decided I wanted to maintain my own sense of calm and to that end, I actively chose to embody Joy. I couldn’t have made a better decision for myself. People wearing stressful grimaces saw me and smiled, most of them saying something nice and friendly. Hell – the parking attendant at Whole Paycheck had the driver in front of me circle around the lot so that I could have the primo spot by the door. (This is L.A., so yes – we have parking attendants at our overpriced grocers.) And for me – all of that was great!

 

But maybe the best feeling was reserved for the few moments when I didn’t have a conniption fit over someone else’s bad driving. Instead, I smiled at the person and made nice. Never mind the smile being fake. It kept me calm, and it kept me centered.

 

By the time I was pulling into the driveway of the new pad, I was beaming and saying, “I AM Joy!” And I meant it. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying my little experiment will work for you, but it sure was nice for me.

La-La Land – A-Rambling I Shall Go

 

 

This photo was snapped on a June morning, as Betro and I made our way downtown to volunteer at Rock Camp. It was a little warm that week, but not unreasonable.

 

It is definitely unreasonable now, and that has me drooping. I know I go on and on about the weather, but it seems the older I get, the more it affects me. Or maybe it’s just timing. A lot of life is swirling (like always) and many of us are caught up in the funnel. We twist and turn and do the best we can and some days that’s enough. Others, not so much. Add ridiculous heat to the mix and you’ve got yourself some genuine discomfort.

 

For my part, I’m keeping busy and have more meetings scheduled than I can accommodate. And that ain’t good. So what do I do? I tell the truth and something has to give. I prioritize. I deal. We all do. That’s life.

 

But lately I’ve been working on my attitude about this circus ride, and I do believe it’s making a difference. I ascribe to the Jedi Philosophy of the force being inherent in all living things. When I remember this, I am more congruent with my surroundings. And that’s awesome. When I forget, not so much. And that sucks. But like I said, I’ve been working on it and choosing a positive attitude has been most helpful.

 

Recently a friend said to me that L.A. isn’t so bad. (She was giving our town props, instead of bashing it – which is what a lot of us usually do.) I said I think L.A. is pretty much like most other places, in that we get out of it as much as we choose. And I truly believe that. I guess I truly believe that in general. About life.

 

Occasionally we are slammed against a wall by the lives we hold so dear. It happens. But right now, within myself, I am visualizing joy. And laughter. And peace. And I am doing so in conditioned air. Thank the gods.

You Get What You Need

 

 

L.A. can be hard. She teases and she tortures. She promises and she robs. She doesn’t always see your worth, and she sure as hell doesn’t always give you what you want.

 

 

But every now and then, in spite of herself, L.A. gives you what you need. And so it was the other day, as Mister and I strolled around a part of the city not everyone gets to see: DreamWorks Animation studio. We were there, writing welcome letters to athletes participating in the upcoming Special Olympics Games. After we’d dropped off our letters, we strolled around the grounds and got ourselves an eyeful of nature. It really was beautiful and I felt wonderfully calm after our walk. Nature will do that to you.

 

 

Living in Los Angeles, I don’t always get what I want. But more often than not, I do get what I need. This week’s dose of nature fit that bill perfectly.

La-La Land Shopping

 

 

One of the amazing perks of living in Los Angeles is the availability of goods from shows, movies and studios.

 

Want some clothes from a beloved show? Try “It’s a Wrap.” This shop (with 2 locations) sells clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories from about a jillion shows and movies. If a studio is cleaning house, their wearable items may end up here as well. One can score super-cheap items, or one can shop their couture collection for major beans. Personally, I still have a swimsuit cover-up from years ago. Its origins? “Melrose Place.” I also have a leather jacket from the movie, “The House Bunny.” I’ve never seen the movie, but I do love the jacket.

 

If you’re looking for household items, try “Reel Appeal.” (I don’t think they have a website.) This warehouse (!) is loaded to the ceiling with furniture (every conceivable quality and style), housewares, art and just about everything else imaginable – all of it from shows and films. Right now, they’re selling off mucho stuff from “Desperate Housewives.” And it’s moving fast, y’all. If you’re in L.A. and interested, let me know and I’ll tell you how to get there.

 

As for my own score, I got a piece of “One Live to Live” memorabilia, as shown above. I’m super-fond of it already. It reminds me of being a kid and watching the show. Though I haven’t watched a soap opera in years, I appreciate having used to. And this sign will serve as a cool reminder of memories from a made-up place – Llanview, PA. I still recall “Viki” and her split-personality persona, “Niki.” And there was the time “Viki” was taken aboard a spaceship by aliens, or was that an out-of-body-experience? Who cares! Good times…