HBD, Smagik!

Six years ago I created this blog as an exercise to find beauty in the everyday. It was a dreary, February day and I needed a self induced push and reason to get off the couch. By creating the goal of finding or eating or going to or doing something beautiful, delicious, fun, and joyful everyday, my life began to take on these same qualities. Small, everyday, easy to take for granted moments took on a new significance simply by being noticed and appreciated.

Thank you for joining me on the journey! And here’s to many more years of Adventure, Joy, Connection, and to finding the beauty in all of our everydays!

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@smagikstudio

Detached.

Back in LA for the first time since I moved and ever having lived here feels like a dream.

Back to staying in friend’s guest rooms and houses while here for work. Back to making the 12 hour drive across the desert, to looking forward to seeing and being near the ocean, to making lists of favorite restaurants where I must remember to eat while in town, to being homesick, and to seeing this city from a detached perspective. Back to seeing it as a temporary adventure rather than a chosen home. Back to the existential question “what am I doing here?” that follows me here in ways I can’t answer. Back to my favorite used clothing store, Crossroads, in Silver Lake, to the best lamb sandwich, eaten while sitting at the Bowery Bungalow bar, to traffic, to the smell of jasmine literally blowing in the wind, like a perfume Albuquerque can’t imagine, and back to work.

I like LA. Love might be too strong, but like very much. But, being back reminds me of how totally ungrounded and unanchored I felt living here. The connection I craved always just out of reach.

Family, home, dirt, love…

Drinking a beer after a long week back at work, watching others do the same, I feel nothing but gratitude for all of the twists and turns of the last few years. I’m happy to have learned to navigate this city, to feel comfortable and confident working and being here. But, I’m most grateful to the little interior voice that, upon learning all it needed to, called me home.

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Buen Provecho

In early December I came across a post on Volunteermatch.org by the non-profit usimmigrantcafe.org looking for volunteers who like food and to write. Um, yes, please! They describe themselves as “A nationwide non-profit platform showcasing immigrant restaurateurs in pursuit of their American Dream.”

Just that week, I’d spoken with a friend about my desire to become involved within the immigrant community. I wanted to do what I could to help and express gratitude to those who I believe make this country stronger and who, at various points in the distant and not too distant past, every member of my entire family had been a part of.

I responded to the ad and learned that the site was looking for people around the country to interview and tell the stories of immigrant restaurateurs within their communities. Writing and food?! Me, me, pick me!

It was up to the writers to choose the restaurant and the interview subject. I asked a few friends for suggestions and ended up interviewing Kattia Rojas at Albuquerque’s Buen Provecho Restaurant. She makes a great Costa Rican tamale, among other dishes, and recently opened a restaurant in the newly remodeled El Vado Motel. I wanted to know more.

Here’s her story.

Buen Provecho!

http://usimmigrantcafe.org/2019/01/26/buen-provecho/

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Water Birds

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There is a preciousness to water in the desert that the birds seem to understand. Instead of heading to the beach every weekend, which I still miss, I now make almost daily trips to walk along the banks of  the Rio Grande. I’m slowly making friends with its ducks, geese, and cranes.

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Next week I’ll make a quick trip back to LA for the first time since moving home. Besides earning a paycheck, I am most excited to walk in the waves and say hello to my old friends, the gulls, pipers, and pelicans.

It will be good to say a quick hello, before heading home to the cranes.

 

 

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Frozen Desert

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Iced over ponds and rivers, the smell of piƱon smoke in the air, snow packed hiking trails; New Mexico is having a real winter, reminiscent of those I remember as a child. Back then, my dad would flood the yard on the north side of our house and create an ice skating rink. At night, I would tie on a pair of dull, too big skates and help him sweep snow off the ice. For the first time in 25 years, he flooded his yard last week.

img_0039There is piercing clarity to the cold light. Ducks honk overhead before landing in the Rio Grande.

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I opened a cookbook last night, “Jerusalem” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, and made lamb meatballs with roasted sweet potatoes and cauliflower. It was gooooood. And by 8 o’clock wondered aloud, is it too early for bed? I missed these dark days when I lived in LA, with its unending sunshine and great weather. Time to reset the internal clock, rest, rejuvenate, and contemplate. By the time daffodils appear sometime in late February, I will be ready for bike rides, sandals, and outdoor patios, but for now I am happy to hibernate and soak up the cold.

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Connection vs. Consumption

img_0017I am currently in the midst of that classic first Monday in January activity…sorting last year’s receipts. In a strange trip down memory lane, my desk is covered with piles of small white pieces of paper which recount all of the groceries, car repairs, restaurant meals, home improvements, dates, shopping trips, hairstyles, and donations made in 2018. Looking at the piles, as I tally up totals, I can’t help but realize how much of the money was spent out of a desire for connection rather than for whatever it was I was purchasing.

Upon my return to LA from India at the end of January, I began what would become a year of work, jumping from one film set to another, with little time for anything else. As my 60, 70, 80 hour weeks and wages increased, so did my spending. As my sleep dwindled, so did my energy and with it my desire to cook, to make, and to create. Consumption filled the void. I ate out more, shopped more, and generally spent more money as I looked for anything to fill the hole left by not having time to blog, to sleep, to exercise, and to be.

These realizations lead me to look towards 2019 with a new set of goals and resolutions. Connection! To keep that word and all that it entails at the forefront of each decision, job offer, and purchase I make. The reality is that when I am connected to my life, I probably need about half as much money as when I am not.  I sleep well and exercise so therefor don’t need to go to the doctor. I rotate my closet through a network of consignment shops which quickly turns into a fun hobby/treasure hunt. I am able to stay up to date with maintenance of car and electronics which keeps them from being neglected and therefor needing more repairs. I eat out less because I have the time and energy to cook. And I am around for when a friend calls and wants to get together, which leads to what I really want. Connection.

And, for those purchases that do still need to be made in 2019, I plan to

  1. Buy the best version, thereby hopefully having it forever. Think heirloom quality.
  2. Buy only what can be recycled and accepted back into the earth.
  3. Avoid plastic. Buy the cardboard, glass, wood, aluminum alternative whenever possible.
  4. Buy with cash, not credit.
  5. Fix, mend, tend, and repair whenever possible.

So far, 2019 is off to a fantastic start. As I look toward the future, I pledge to stop going to the hardware store for milk, as the saying goes. Rather than seek connection through consumption, I will show up where it can actually be found; in personal and professional relationships, laughter, eye contact, nature, kitchens, dancing, travels, gardens, exercise, dinner parties, hikes, couches, kisses, and creativity.

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