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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Weekend

Wet legs. Sandy feet. Salty hair. Unplug. Drive west. Breathe deep. Get burned. Sit in traffic. $20 to park. Watch the longboard competition. Calm down. Another deep breath. 83 degrees. Cool breeze, salty air. Sunday. Enjoy. If you enjoy these posts, please follow Smagik.com and please comment and share.

The Beauty

    Today I planned to write something about how, after the past week’s worth of insane news stories, I want to fight fascism by using every ounce of my energy and resources to find beauty in the everyday and to remind others to do the same. Those who can find beauty in life, don’t have time for hate.
    But, as I sat down to my computer to think of a thesis, a friend texted that there was an active shooter at the Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake, less than a mile from my home and where I spend roughly 94% of my Saturday afternoons. Today I was tired and it was hot and I didn’t feel like driving there. Customers and employees are currently escaping through a window at the back, down a ladder thrown up by LAPD, and are running away from the entrance. And instead of writing, I am watching this through a live feed on my computer.
    You think you know which way is up until, as you compare the price of Cheddar to Swiss, a car robbery gone wrong crashes in front of the store and a desperate man with a gun enters.
    You think you know which way is up, until the President if the United States takes the side of Vladimir Putin over that of his own Intelligence Agencies, then denies he did that, though you know you saw it and heard it yourself, and then denies that he denied it, until you don’t know what happened and begin to doubt your own sanity. Or you scream.
    I was shushed on set this week, something that doesn’t happen often. “You’re so quiet” is a comment I often hear, though maybe not when with my mother, sister, or a few choice friends. Normally I don’t get shushed. But, Helsinki made me scream. While reading the news on my phone in the dark coolness of a soundstage, I had to go outside, have a sip of water, and calm down before I ruined the take.
    I still hear helicopters circling outside. The sirens have subsided for now, though most of my neighborhood directly north is surrounded by LAPD.
    Another reminder that we never really know which way is up. I’m about to pick up a friend and go to a photography show. There might be food or wine. If there is, I will eat it and drink it. When I make eye contact with someone, I will smile. I will support the artists, the writers, the thinkers, the comedians, the journalists, and all those who seek beauty and truth.  I will continue to believe that there is more goodness than evil and more love than fear around us. And as the world spins and up is down and down is up, if there is music, I’ll dance.
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    Photo taken by me of a photo taken by Rebekah Potter.

India Permeates

Back from India for almost four months and I am surprised daily by the ways in which it sneaks up on me and permeates my life in Silver Lake, a million miles away. Before leaving for my trip, I ran into a friend who hugged me and said “this is the last time I’ll ever hug you. You’ll be a different person when you return. No one comes back from India the same.” I thought he was being dramatic.

Ganesha, god of auspicious beginnings, remover of obstacles, patron of the arts, sciences, and writing, watches as I open my notebook, sipping hipster matcha, and begin to write.

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While there I became addicted to their creamy, homemade yogurt and learned that it is one’s neighborly obligation to lend starter to anyone in need. I buy a yogurt maker upon  return and begin experimenting with coconut milk recipes. Bring the milk of your choice to just under boiling, about 200 degrees. Cool until warm to the touch, about 115 degrees. Mix in starter ( being without a yogurt making neighbor, I buy starter at the health food store, though just adding already made, unsweetened yogurt will do the trick as well). Place in the yogurt maker, or slow cooker, or (if you live in a hot climate, like India, on your counter) and let sit undisturbed for anywhere between 4-12 hours. Cool and, voila, enjoy.

A man we met in Bundi, a healer in the guise of a skirt salesman, crosses my mind frequently. Karma, shakras, energy, numerology- he knew things about me I’d never told anyone.

Baby Krishna looks out over my books from his place on the shelf and reminds me to open my heart. Love. It’s the reason we are here, he whispers, the only reason. Love in all its forms.

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Family is the most important thing, says our driver, Lokesh. I agree and, now 800 miles away from mine, miss them terribly.

Feed the dogs on Saturday. It will bring you good karma.

After three weeks, I was ready to return to the familiarity of traffic lanes and avocado toast. But, little did I know that India had already burrowed into my soul and that within a few months I would feel the urge to return, to plan another trip, and that I had been changed forever. My friend was right.

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Good morning, sunshine!

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It’s been a while! I keep waiting for something to want to be written,  but feel that one month after returning from India and one week before returning to work, I might need to force the issue.

I have been a hermit. Not a depressed hermit, nor a sad or lonely one. Just one who is totally content to rearrange the furniture before decluttering the bookshelf and then cooking dinner or taking a walk and happily crawling into bed at 9 o’clock. The past couple of weeks have been chilly in LA and I am happy to blame the dampness, the need to wear a sweater, and the desire to drink tea all day for my lack of blogging, but really that all adds up to perfect writing weather. So, what’s up?

I returned from India just in time to celebrate the Lunar New Year of the Earth Dog in Downtown LA’s Chinatown, something which, as a March born Aries, always sets me up for my own personal, fast approaching new year. With the first part of 2018 under my belt, where are things flowing and where do adjustments need to be made?

Something clicked in India and I have had a hard time writing about it and summing it up into words. Hence the lack of blogging? It wasn’t conscious or literally related to India and no experience there was directly responsible, but I returned to my life feeling and seeing clearer than I can remember ever feeling or seeing.

Midlife; when the Universe grabs your shoulders and tells you “I’m not f-ing around, use the gifts you were given.”

-Brené Brown

This clarity led to a couple of weeks of real physical and mental discomfort as patterns, habits, relationships, and ideas that no longer served me were illuminated and then removed. I can only describe it as feeling like the birth canal we all must go through to get to the light. Within this period, which came between the eclipses of January 31 and February 15, I was woken in the middle of the night by a literal earthquake centered in Silver Lake, (only 2.9, but that is strong enough when it’s under your house!), a necklace I haven’t taken off for over two years literally detached itself from my neck and fell off while I was standing still (I’ve always heard that when you break a necklace or a mirror it is the end  and beginning of a seven year cycle of karma), I broke a pitcher and my tea kettle on the same day, and the list goes on and on.

And then I woke up one morning and it was all clear. Things I have been working on or trying to “figure out” (ha, when has that ever happened?!) suddenly  became clear. Puzzle pieces clicked into place. Words I’d said or thoughts I’d thought suddenly had the power of knowing in my gut to back them up.

Was it India with its ingrained spirituality which, even if that’s not why you go there or what you are seeking, permeates the air, water, and people and gets into your bones? Was it being away from everything familiar and therefore seeing that which can so easily be overlooked? Was it just time? Was it grace? Or the eclipses? Who knows?! Some combination of all of the above. All I know is that it’s all good and that there is no escaping your wake up call when the Universe deems you ready. So, get ready!

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Chapter 5- Unexpected Answer.

Since returning to LA, several friends have asked what about India made the biggest impression. Favorite places, experiences, or memories… My answer surprised both them and me.

The animals. I miss the way in which animals were just a part of everything. They weren’t anyone’s, but they were everyone’s, more like neighbors than pets. The ubiquitous holy cow really was everywhere, as were the monkeys (who admittedly totally freaked me out! They steal glasses off of heads and jump around unexpectedly), dogs, birds (many of prey), and occasional pigs.

I call this an unexpected answer because I am not known as a huge animal lover. Not that I don’t like them, there are some that I really, really love. But, there are many that I can take or leave, especially in the bizarre dog culture of an upper middle class, childless pet owners metropolis like Los Angeles, where the untrained emotional support dog reigns supreme. My aunt still makes fun of me for being the only child she ever met who preferred old dogs to puppies (too hyper).

So, the fact that I would miss the animals of India was not a given.

Feed the dogs, people in India say, it brings good karma. On numerous occasions, I watched as those with not much to eat themselves, fed packages of biscuits to dogs. I watched a woman brush this cow’s neck, as monkeys looked on.

Unlike pet culture in the US, these animals are a part of everyone’s life. Whether you choose to interact or not is up to you, like the weird neighbor you either ignore or befriend, but who is in your life regardless.

It is hard to describe how different a city feels when it is full of animals, of the non human variety.

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