LA

Ten years ago I packed my car and made the first of what would be dozens of drives from Albuquerque to Los Angeles, and back.

The 4th of July, 2008, and 119 degrees in the Mojave desert. I stopped outside of Needles, California, to get gas and a chocolate dipped cone at Dairy Queen and had to eat it in one bite to prevent vanilla from melting down my arm. That night I made it to my then boyfriend’s apartment, overlooking the lake in Echo Park, in time to watch East LA explode in an illegal frenzy of fireworks. Though I’d visited periodically in the year we’d been dating, I remember feeling like a country mouse in the city. That night I lay in bed as police helicopters circled the park outside the window, shining their searchlight inside, looking for someone. It was hot out. I didn’t sleep.

In the years that followed, I became comfortable in LA, joined their costumer’s union, and created a routine between the two cities, mixing slow and fast paced, laid back with competitive.

And then, two years ago, I became tired of that routine and wanted to shake it up, develop a new one, have an adventure, try something new. LA seemed the safest way to do that. The truth is that even in my need to break free I was practical and conservative.

Recently a friend asked me if I thought of myself as a romantic. Yes, I replied. Though a practical one. She laughed. I’m the same, she said.

I make lists but they go something like this-

Watch sunsets.

Learn to make bread and yogurt.

Get a dog. Name her Pearl. If a girl.

Dig in the dirt.

Open a little shop.

Etc.

You get the idea.

And then one day, a few months ago, one of my many lists became one of pros and cons. LA/NM. Uh oh. As soon as I started writing, I knew another move was in my future.

LA Pros-

Fun, exciting, interesting, creative, accessible, museums, concerts, stores, classes, friends, The Moth, live theater, earn more money, inspiring…

NM Pros-

My cute/inexpensive house, family, friends, quality of life, low overhead, dog yard is ready, garden, air quality, commute times, mountains, spend less money…

LA Cons-

Expensive, hate paying rent, need a roommate or boyfriend just to afford renting a house with a yard, much less ever buying one, traffic, air, have to work too much…

NM Cons…

Slow paced.

I groaned. Do I really have to move my stuff down 60 stairs again, less than two years after my dad helped me move it up in a blinding rainstorm with no electricity?

Yup.

A friend asked me today if I will miss LA? I love LA! I will miss it. But, the truth is that my ego will miss it more than my soul.

I also know that it is here, hopefully not falling into the ocean anytime soon, and I will return to work and play, just not to live.

And so the adventure continues. And, yet again, the only constant is change.

Stay tuned…

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One year later.

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It’s been just over a year since I signed the lease on my apartment in LA and just under one since I first saw it empty, before it had been painted or cleaned, on December 1st. I started to cry when I entered the sad looking kitchen to pick up the keys and wondered “what on earth have I done?” One week earlier I had seen potential; good windows with a lot of light, dark wood floors, high ceilings, and a killer location. My gut told me it was a good landing pad and had enough of what I was looking for to jump in and commit. Now, holding the keys, I wasn’t so sure.

My gut was right.

And it’s already been a year. Wow!

The parrot who whistles in an oddly human way and lives downstairs is now part of my soundtrack. The neighbors next door let me pick pomegranates from their tree. I walk in the Silver Lake hills for cardio. I made new friends, as an adult, living in LA!

Over the past year I have kept the “what on earth are you doing?” voices at bay by answering with a simple “it’s all an adventure.” There is no big plan, no grand vision that I will check off a list and be done with. But, rather, there are many small visions that continuously guide me in one direction, periodically overlapping and mingling. If there is a grand plan it is happiness and presence and authenticity, to feel that I am actively participating in and creating my life with each of my decisions and no longer passively coasting.

While talking to a friend about my interests in tarot and improv and writing, I said “I’m just getting weirder and weirder,” to which she replied, “no, you’re just getting you-er and you-er.”

I was so afraid to let go of my comfortable life in New Mexico but knew on a gut level that comfort was not my friend, at least not now, maybe not ever. I needed to know what I was capable of and to push myself. The ironic and unforeseen part was that when I chose to uproot and take myself away from that external comfort, a new internal one took its place. I have confidence in myself, my gut, my voice, and in my ability to make a home wherever I am, that I didn’t have before.

What I could never have predicted was that, at the same time I chose adventure over fear, the world was asked to choose as well. It is fascinating to watch how that choice, the way in which we all view change, has split our country and our world over the past year.  Will it be expansion, love, trust, and progress, as we move forward into an unknown? Or fear and constriction as we futilely cling to what once was?

May you live in interesting times.  – Chinese curse.

It has been interesting! Exhausting. Fascinating.

And, the truth is that, for all of us, there is no going back. There is no “oh I’ll just go have a little revolution, personal or otherwise, and then fit nicely back into this hole I have been in!” Nope. We are in it now and all we can do is continue to move in the direction of love and faith, always choosing to see the adventure side of the coin.

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Home

I’m sitting in an airport for the third time this month, reading my horoscope. Home, home, home. My fourth house is all lit up, hitting the domestic vibes/homefront notes for the next month, just in time to be outside of Atlanta, for work, living in a hotel.  So, how to avoid going crazy and give myself those homey vibes, while on the road? What does home mean? Where is my home? 

I recently had a reassuring realization while in Northern California for a couple of weeks, again for work and again living in a hotel. I missed LA. Having only lived there for six months, after repeatedly trying  to adapt for ten years and but always eventually fleeing for the clean air and calm of my previous home, New Mexico, this was a huge shift. And a welcome one. I missed the assortment of healthy food, the mass of stuff to do on weekends, the hipster adventuror spirit which can be both annoying and awesome,  my classes, friends, apartment, stuff and my morning routine. I was officially homesick for my new city. So, that’s a good thing! 

But, what to do to create home when away? My yoga mat, many books, music, a big bag of food and tea, journal, and tarot cards are traveling with. I’m heading out with an open attitude and belief that seeing different parts of the country and world will give me some good stories to tell and a greater appreciation of my own city when I return next month. 

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Smudge

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Six weeks ago, I came to LA with a prayer; if this is the right move for me, please let it be obvious. And if it isn’t, please let that be obvious too.  I didn’t know what I expected to happen once I arrived, but as a dear friend put it “it’s not a big deal, you’re just going to eat and sleep and work and drive and breathe and laugh somewhere else for a while.” But in some way it felt like a huge deal.  I had spent months of my life, years if you added them all up, in LA previously, but somehow I was always the passive passenger, along for the ride, but never investing or committing too much.  This time it felt deliberate and decisive.

It has only been seven months since I was driving down the 110 from Pasadena towards the transformational training workshop I was taking in a hotel ballroom near LAX, that I had the sudden flash that I should and would move back to LA.  As the proverbial lightening bolt tends to do, I knew that my comfortable but stagnant life was not serving me and that in order to become the woman I envisioned, things had to change.  One week earlier I had thought of my low overhead, inexpensive city, beautiful home, and plateaued career as assets and now all I saw was an under stimulating comfort zone.

And then November happened.  How to even sum up the insanity that was November 2016? Well, you know, you were there! I arrived just in time to attend Día de los Muertos at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, watch the Cubs win the World Series, and to then witness America go to hell in a hand basket and take the the planet with her. And that was just the first week. “What am I doing?” I wondered, as I jostled duffle bags between two different  housesitting gigs.  It felt like the world and I were spinning and I wasn’t sure which way was up and which was down.

In the midst of the crazy, I came back to my prayer. Please help the Yeses to be clear.  And please help the Noes to be even clearer.  And LA just kept being one, big yes. I loved the idea of living in something that I had previously been unaware of, a sanctuary city.  I saw an ad for an apartment on craigslist and, though I’d been planning on waiting  another month to decide if I was going to sign a lease or not,  I went to look at it. It was a yes.  My friend invited me to a dance class at the exact kind of studio I’ve spent the past couple of years searching for in Albuquerque.  I had as much film work as I wanted, if I wanted it.  I had dinner with different friends frequently.  I drove north for an improv workshop at the Esalen Institute, in Big Sur, remembered how much I love improv, and signed up for a longer class in LA, starting in January.  I enrolled in a nonfiction writing class.  And just like that, the life I had started to envision in April, began to take shape.

That isn’t to say my ego hasn’t done its fair share of fear based kicking and screaming over the past month.  We’re 37, why are we starting over? Our house is so much nicer than this apartment, why did we sign a lease? What if we never figure it out and just keep starting over? Oh great, now we are one of a bajillion people living in a huge, smoggy metropolis far from our family and green chile.  Why can’t we just be happy with our job, our house, and our routine and keep it all the same, it is so comfortable.  At which point I have to kindly tell myself to shut up.

Once I am able to quiet the fearful chatter, my gut reassures me that it knows what it’s doing and to keep going,  not having to know where, but trusting that it will be awesome.  It already is.

 

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LA LA Land

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If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

-Dr. Wayne Dyer

There could not be a more perfect example of this in my life than the city of Los Angeles.  Off and on, for over a decade, I have lived there, dated people from there, worked there, and, for any number of reasons, have repeatedly fled for the safety and space of New Mexico.

Last week, while staying with a friend in Los Feliz, we went for a hike in Griffith Park.  I couldn’t help but think of all the times I’d hiked those trails and how different it felt this time, though the trails, air quality, views, perfectly outfitted Angelenos, and full parking lots were more or less the same.  I was different.  I was present and happy and good with it all being as it was.  It didn’t have to be clear, with perfectly blue skies, empty parking lots, and sparse hikers, as I am used to in New Mexico.  The misty, overcast air felt wonderful against my skin, even if it was slightly smoggy! While in LA, I gave myself enough time to get places, anticipating traffic, rather than expecting it to be something it wouldn’t be and then resenting it.  I saw creative people carrying out their visions everywhere I looked. And, I knew I was ready for LA in a way I never had been before.

LA. I remember feeling so lost within its freeways, strip malls, and sprawl and it is only now that I realize what a perfect metaphor it was for how lost I felt in my life. I was overwhelmed by the emphasis I thought it placed on status and appearance and too insecure and unsure about my own values, contributions, and worth to navigate it.

Over my last several trips to LA, it is as if I have made peace with the city, forgiven it for what it will never be, and realized all that it has to offer.  Years ago, my astrologer told me that Venus, the planet of love, art, and beauty, sits directly over LA in my chart.  Love, art, and beauty basically sum up all that I value and want to cultivate and create more of in my life. And, to be less philosophical, I am just ready for a change! And I have to keep reminding myself that, as someone who has spent much of her life trying to avoid it, that is a perfectly legit reason to move.  I am giddy at the thought of decorating a new apartment, exploring a new neighborhood, meeting new people, going on new day trips, and switching it all up, knowing that I am strong enough to handle all that that might bring.  LA hasn’t changed, but I have.

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Zuma

There is nothing I love more than getting in my car and heading out of town with only the vaguest of plans and my camera…Except maybe hopping on public transportation in a new city and doing the same. Where will I eat? What will I see? What adventure awaits? 

Today it was Malibu and the PCH’s turn to inspire. Bird watching and wave walking on Zuma…

   
   
Followed by fish tacos at Neptune’s Net, where I highly recommend going on a Tuesday in April, you get a whole oceanside picnic table to yourself!

  
68 degrees and because of recent rains, the hills are greener than I’ve seen them in years. A fantastic set of music on KCRW. Surfers, birds, salty wind. Heaven.