This Beautiful Ride Called Living

 

Christmas Cheer!

 

How the hell did it get to be December already?

 

I’m not complaining, mind you. I’m just surprised. And honestly, I enjoyed November so much I wasn’t quite ready to see it go. I didn’t enjoy all of it. The fires were terribly awful. And then there was that one crazy thing that happened, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  Mostly, it was a pretty good month.

 

The Broad Mikki Outside

 

A couple of weeks ago, Mister and I spent an afternoon at The Broad and it was aces. For some reason, I thought there was a new Ed Ruscha exhibit and I was all hopped up about it. Only we got to the museum and I was hopping for no reason. There were a few new-to-me pieces on view, and those pieces were awesome, but my expectations were not met. Not by Ruscha. But then we wandered into an installation of Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors and I no longer wanted to hop, as I was floating. If you’re in L.A. and get the chance, please go. I cried through a smile so big, my cheeks still ache.

 

Ed Ruscha Works at The Broad

 

After the museum visit, we walked toward the train and found this young man on the sidewalk…

 

The Broad Poems for Sale

 

I immediately started digging in my pockets for cash, as there was no way I was gonna pass by a guy with a typewriter, selling poems, and not make a purchase. I didn’t get the feeling Jacob was one for talking too much, so our interaction was mostly limited to transaction…

 

The Broad I Bought a Poem

 

The very next day, I walked from DTLA…

 

DTLA_11.17.2018

 

 

to Santa Monica.

 

Wendy and Mikki at Sunset

 

Because I can. And because why the hell not? And because I had two friends along and one of them is a freaking light in the universe and the other was celebrating her actual birthday.

 

Route 66 Wendy and Amy

 

Hey – there’s nothing like a 17-mile stroll to make you feel young. This was my 3rd time participating in The Great L.A. Walk (GLAW) and I have to say – it was my personal best. No blisters or crazy soreness after. I felt pretty damned good, in fact. It was a beautiful day, the walk was smooth and the company couldn’t be beat. There was also that moment when we crossed paths with Bono (for reals). This is L.A. Shit like that happens.

 

The Broad - Metro Station

 

Before I tell you this next part, I’d like you to remember that I am fine and safe. I mean – I’m typing this and all is well. Um-kay? Okay. After the walk and subsequent GLAW celebrations had ended, when I took the train home from Santa Monica, there was … an incident. A young woman on the train was being harassed by a dude and it was one of those moments when you have to decide if you’re gonna be a stand-up person or not and all I could hope was that if I had to stand up for the woman that others would stand with me. The train was crowded and a whole lot of us were all too aware of the situation and again, I just hoped decency would prevail.

 

This particular young woman was seated directly in front of me, as our seats were in an L-shaped arrangement. Next to her was a young dude who, for whatever reason, decided to lean against and talk to the young woman. Never mind the fact that she was wearing gi-normous headphones and clearly not interested in talking to him. She tried pointing at the headphones, as if to indicate she couldn’t hear him. He was not deterred. After leaning against her for a bit, the dude stood up and – no shit – took off his shirt. Like that was in any way attractive. Or normal. Then he began leaning against her again.

 

Someone seated next to me moved and the young woman immediately asked if she could sit beside me. I nodded and she moved to my side. I leaned slightly toward her and removed one side of my headphones. She removed one side of hers. I said, “I’ve got your back.” She said, “Thank you.” We put our headphones in place and tried to act as if nothing was going on, all the while keeping watch on the dude three feet in front of us.

 

He began shuffling things around in the bags he had brought on the train, and that’s when he pulled out a knife. He held it in his hands and looked it over, turning it to admire the blade. That blade appeared to be around 8 to 10 inches. The dude just held it, studying it, and the young woman turned to me, terror on her face and I said to her, “Okay. You go.” She moved between people, ending up somewhere behind me on the train. I had already looked for the car’s emergency call switch and located it – behind the dude with the knife. That was out, as it would have put me in direct contact with him. I was holding my phone and as the train was still above ground and I had service, I called 911. I cupped my hand over the phone, to try and make myself audible over the train’s noise. I smiled and laughed a bit while talking with the emergency operator, trying to appear as if all was right in my little world. I gave as much information as I could and was told police would be boarding at the next stop. I told myself to breathe deeply.

 

The next stop came and went, y’all. No police. The dude was still one seat away. I thought maybe the next stop would bring help. Or the next one. Or the next. When the train moved beneath the city, I knew I could no longer call anyone for help as my phone service had ended. I was the closest person to the dude now and I was just trying to keep it together, hoping we’d pull into that last station without something going terribly wrong. All I could do was wait. That was all any of us could do.

 

When we reached the final stop, passengers were hustling to get the hell out of there. I stood calmly, picked up my pack and walked to the exit. Once I stepped off the train, I saw around 15 uniformed officers. I made eye contact with one and pointed toward the dude. About 3 of the officers nodded and headed into the train car.

 

Now – I needed to transfer to a different line to get home, but fear had caused me to just about pee myself. So I walked upstairs to a fabulous, familiar restaurant. The first person I saw was a busboy. I walked up to him, in my sweaty walking clothes and said, “I’m not here to order anything. I have been here many times and I love this place. But I just had a terrifying moment on a train and I really need to calm down in your ladies room.” That guy sweetly smiled and said, “Sure! Right this way…” and he walked me back to the loos. I think I peed for twenty minutes, then splashed some water on my face. I headed back downstairs to catch my train.

 

As I was walking down the escalator, my phone rang. It was one of the on-scene officers. He asked me some follow-up questions and I answered. I told him I was coming back to board a train and could talk in-person if he wanted. He acknowledged seeing me and suggested we keep it on the phone, so that I wouldn’t be identified during the arrest taking place nearby. I didn’t argue. I told the officer I had seen the dude place the knife in one particular bag. He said, “Oh – we found the knife and everything else.” Da fuh? Our conversation ended and I got on the next train headed my way.

 

I can’t tell you how fast my brain was processing everything around me that night. Where were my exits? Where was the emergency call button? What was the train car ID number? The upcoming stop? Why the fuck was this happening at all? And why was it happening after I’d walked 18 miles and needed some friggin’ sleep? But my brain did process. And I somehow stayed calm. I wasn’t called upon to fight anyone or to put out a fire or to be a hero. I was simply being a human in this city. My city. I did my part.

 

I didn’t see the young woman again, the one who’d been subjected to harassment and terror. I hoped she would be okay. As for me, I rode that second train to my stop, where Mister was waiting to pick me up and drive me home. I was safe. Tired and frazzled, too, but definitely safe.

 

Some of you reading this will admonish me for ever taking the train at all. Some of you will tell me to avoid crowded places, to shelter and hide from the dangers of the world. I get where you’re coming from. I do. But I’m not ready to give up this beautiful ride called Living. Not yet. I’m not ready to miss out on unexpected art. Or an introverted poet on the street. Or Bono, for cry-eye. I’m also not ready to give up being there for someone who’s decided to accomplish something on her birthday. Or someone who needs a stranger to have her back. Or Bono, for cry-eye. I mean – come on.

 

The world can be crazy. And parts of it have gone bat-shit mad, I admit. But in my city, the good still outweighs the bad. And I intend to do all I can to maintain that balance. That includes Living my Life. For as long as I’m able. God knows, I love being alive.

 

Yes.

 

Love

S-L-O-W

 

 

I can’t tell you how many times I am out in the world and something interesting catches my eye. I can tell you, however, that most of those times I simply go about my way, never once slowing down to have a good look at whatever eye-candy I’ve happened upon.

 

Why is this? Why do we rush about as if our very lives depend on it? Speaking for myself, there certainly have been a couple of instances where my life (or that of another) did depend on expediency. But those occurrences have been few and far between (thank the gods). The rest of the time? I’m just rushing. No explanation. No reason.

 

Last week while doing The Great L.A. Walk, my buddy Aniela pointed out to me that I walk fast. And she’s right. I do. If exercise is the point, that’s a good thing. But I swear – I struggle to mosey, y’all. Taking a leisurely stroll for no reason other than to stretch one’s legs and look around is downright difficult for me. And that’s a shame. Because there’s a lot to see in the world. There’s a lot to take in. And sometimes the smallest detail warrants slowing down, if only for a moment, to get a really good look at life.

 

Let’s face it. Life is so worth seeing.

 

The Great L.A. Walk – 2015

 

 

My intentions were true. So when I got a scratchy throat last Thursday night, I was surprised. Was I coming down with something? Really? And then on Friday morning, I woke with a fever. Not good, y’all. So I emailed my buddies to let them know I might not make it. And I waited…

 

A few months ago, I decided I would once again participate in The Great L.A. Walk (or GLAW). Each year GLAW goes down on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The route changes from year to year, so I was looking forward to seeing what was in store. When I did the walk 3 years ago, we traveled across the city on Melrose and that made for some good eye-candy. Hearing this year’s walk would be along Olympic Boulevard was exciting. I barely ever drive that road. I certainly haven’t walked it. So I reached out to some friends and enlisted a few to join me. I started preparing by walking more and hoping I’d survive. Getting a fever the day before the walk threw me for a loop. But I decided that if I did indeed have a fever the morning of the walk, I’d bail and take care of myself. I knew I’d be sad, but I’m a big fan of health and I don’t want to knowingly disrupt mine. When Saturday morning rolled around, I checked myself and I was fine. No fever!

 

 

So I dressed and loaded my backpack with way too many supplies, then got Mister to drop me off at the train station. I made my way downtown to meet my friends and to get it going on.

 

 

GLAW began at Clifton’s Cafeteria, in downtown Los Angeles. This historic joint recently re-opened, after a massive renovation. It’s very cool and kitschy and it’s been on my list of places to see. Bonus!

 

 

I walked around and checked it out, then I headed to the service line for some protein and coffee. I won’t lie – Clifton’s ain’t cheap. And it’s a cafeteria, for cry-eye. But the greatest disappointment was the lack of anything resembling an actual dairy product for one’s coffee. That’s a travesty in my book. But I’m a goer, so I made do. By the time I’d finished breakfast, the emails and texts started coming in. Most of my buddies were on their way and would indeed be walking the route. That made me happy and I chugged my fake-creamed-coffee.

 

 

As this is the 10th anniversary of GLAW, the organizers chose Olympic Boulevard as the route. Turns out, Olympic used to be known as 10th Avenue, but its name was changed in honor of the 1932 Summer Olympics Games that were held in Los Angeles. I never knew that, so already this walk had taught me something.

 

 

 

I began the route with my friend Aniela and her buddy Josh. We weren’t racing about or anything, as the walk is supposed to be leisurely. It’s a chance to get to know our city, up close and personal. So we walked and talked and looked around. We also stopped for coffee. I mean really. That first cup of the day didn’t count, what with fake cream and all. Besides – this one came with Love.

 

 

As we continued to walk along Olympic Boulevard, Josh pointed out the Hollywood sign in the distance.

 

 

The GLAW organizers had made it known to a few restaurants that some of us would be stopping in for lunch. But I had my own visions of meal time: Top Round Roast Beef.

 

 

I’ve written about this joint before and it’s super awesome. Neither Aniela nor Josh had been, so it was a great new stop for them.

 

 

For some reason, I had to make myself eat lunch. I thought I should have been hungry, what with walking and all, but I wasn’t. So I ate my delicious roast beef sandwich out of duty. By the time we’d finished lunch, other friends had caught up and decided to nosh there, too. I wanted to wait for them to finish, so that we could all walk together, but my body was ready to go. And I feared that if I sat for too long, I wouldn’t want to get moving again. So I told my friends I’d see them down the line, then Aniela, Josh and I started walking.

 

 

We didn’t stop again until we were in Beverly Hills. That’s when I decided an iced tea was in order. Did I mention it was hot here on Saturday? Well it was. High 80s. So iced tea was definitely called for. We got our refresher on, then kept walking west.

 

As it turned out, Olympic Boulevard wasn’t as interesting as I’d imagined. Sure – we saw some cool stuff along the way, but not nearly as much as I’d hoped.

 

 

That didn’t ruin the walk or anything, it just meant there was less to see. Oh well. We get what we get.

 

 

Along the way, I found myself getting excited when we’d reach a known street. Honestly – I was downright giddy! Once the 405 was in the rearview, I couldn’t stop smiling. It was then, at mile 12, that Josh decided he’d had enough. He and Aniela made arrangements for a ride and I bid them farewell.

 

 

Let me be clear about something here. The idea behind this walk is fun. Not competition. Not completion. If a person isn’t feeling it, she should stop. And as we are all grown-ass people, responsible for our own well-being, it is up to us to monitor when we’ve had enough. With these thoughts in mind, I encouraged my walking buddies to care for themselves and to choose wisely. Heck – they’d gone 12 miles! I’d say that was pretty cool.

 

 

After Aniela and Josh rode away, I considered waiting for my friends who were just over a mile behind. And I really wanted to. But I could feel my legs thinking that if I stopped walking, they could tense up and not go any farther. So I got back on Olympic and started hustling toward the coast.

 

 

The last 4 miles were rather quiet. The walk was lovely, but again, not particularly interesting. I did spend a couple of miles walking with a woman and her grown son, and they were cool. But the son was having a little trouble keeping up, so I eventually took my leave and booked on.

 

 

By the time I was in Santa Monica, the giddy was out of control. I met up with other GLAW walkers at the designated finish and we took in the ocean view. After a short wait, the organizers arrived and took group photos. Then I headed to a local restaurant to meet up with my friends and Mister, who had driven down to give us all a lift home.

 

 

Much the same as at lunch, I struggled to eat dinner. I just wasn’t hungry. But I did mack on a beer and then there were some amazing house-made potato chips. I guess my body knew it wanted salt. And beer. What can I say? I yam what I yam.

 

Once home, I hobbled in and took a shower. I put on some jampers and kicked back with another beer. When taking an assessment, I realized I had a single blister on my left foot, but that was about it. I had fared pretty danged well and I had done it.

 

I’m so glad I didn’t have a fever and was able to participate this year. I’m glad I packed my CamelBak full of water, so that I could hydrate all day long without stopping to buy water. I’m glad I put some granola bars in my pack. Though I didn’t eat any, I was able to give one to a homeless gentleman and another to the kid I walked with near the end. (I say “kid” even though he was 26.) I’m glad I sort of trained for the walk. I had intended to do one 8 to 10-mile walk each week, as well as several shorter walks in preparation for GLAW. I think the longest walk I accomplished was 7 miles, and all the rest were much shorter. But my body was ready and not at all surprised. That really helped.

 

 

And finally – I’m glad I’m a goer. It’s fun! And I think some part of me really needed to know I could complete this walk. As I watched seemingly healthy people dropping out all around me, I felt pretty bad-ass. I felt strong. I felt capable. I felt that I’m a pretty grand version of myself.

 

Because I am.

Mercy, Mercy Me

 

 

Yesterday I did the Great L.A. Walk and I’m paying for it today.

 

Actually, I’m okay. It was only 16 miles and the pace was quite leisurely. I’ll try to get a wrap-up post ready for you, so that you can see the sights of L.A. as I did.

 

Meanwhile, forgive me for being still. It’s about all I can muster. True story.