Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A question emerges:

How come writing words feels like
but art feels like judgment?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

New #6: Night Ride

Rode my bike at 10:30pm to the Pasadena City Hall building. If you've never seen it, take a look at the gem we have sitting right in the middle of our city: (and don't judge me for getting the photos from google, mine from that night didn't turn out)

It was freezing cold (freezing by a San Diegan's standards, probably picnic weather for a New Yorker).. but I rode there to sketch. I'm not a good drawer I don't believe, but it felt good to circle a couple times admiring the whole of it under moonlight and florescents, a nice contrast to the morning light I typically see it in. I settled myself on the front stoop-like stairs to take it all in.. found some great lines, interesting angles, shapes and textures. Felt like I was doing research on how to appreciate something gorgeous.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

*The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer (a Native American Elder)*

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.

I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day, and if you can source your life from God's presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, "Yes!”

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.

It doesn't interest me who you are, how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself, and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

[passed on to me from a friend. too good not to post]

Friday, February 12, 2010

New #5: Swimsuit Yoga

The other day I had every intention of going to the gym, but it was raining so hard I couldn't bear the thought of bundling up just to get to my car. So inside our cozy warm house from the heater running all morning, I got in my bathing suit for some reason and found my own gym alternative. There's a website that posts a new hour-long yoga workout every week that you can watch for free and follow along. I've always meant to check it out, but until my rainy day sit-in I'd never gotten around to it. But I'm glad I finally did, because swimsuit yoga on a rainy day was just the mid-week refresher I needed

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New #4: The Woods

Went to a new bar called The Woods, it's located in Hollywood a little off the beaten path, and located in a tacky strip mall between a laundromat and a mediterranean food joint. Looks supremely trashy from the outside, but inside it fosters a surprisingly unique vibe and comfortable ambiance. Wood blocks of varying grain and depth line the north wall, and the full bar is backed by a frosted lit glass pane highlighting tree branch silhouettes. Deer antler chandeliers are the cherry on top of this mountain cabin-turned hipster locale, all glazed with a subtle 70's tinge of earthy tones and lighting. Might be worth checking out sometime if you find yourself aimless in the neighborhood..

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New #3: Starting

I started a new project, for a friend to use in a thing he's doing later this month..

{Progress updates to come!}

New #2: Home of the Fry Bread

My neighbors/housemates technically (they live on the bottom unit of the house, we live on top) are an Albanian family of 3, 2 older parents and a middle aged son who moved in last year. The parents are darling, though view of them is limited to the occasional passing in the garden or front yard, as they tend to daily routine activities. They don't speak any English, although their son Maxsim does, but they never fail to wave when we cross paths.

From time to time, my roommates and I are gifted with a plate of food. It typically consists of an unidentifiable dish that Allison has deemed "fry bread-like." Maxsim also happens to be the property manager/quasi-fix it man of the home.. so so kind and exceedingly helpful, he always does what he can to help when something breaks down on us. His accent is thick and sometimes difficult to understand, but he's so genuine and conversational it's hard not to just fake it and act like you know what he's talking about..

But despite our friendly exchanges, our interaction with the family has been limited; our picture of their life has been pieced together only by the bits of information that Maxsim offers as conversational filler space between washing machine repairing and cable installing.

The other day, I locked myself out of the house. Brilliant. I had to call the landlord to let me in, but he was tied up and couldn't make it for half an hour. Maxsim came out and tried to pick the lock, but to no avail. Assuming I'd just wait for the landlord on the stoop in front of my door, I plopped down and pretended to need to make phone calls and texts. Maxsim, standing at his front door right across the foyer left it open and said, "you come in now to wait!" I replied with a cordial but empty "oh thanks!"

With no real intention to take him up on the offer, I remained sitting and fiddled with my phone. I'm sure I subconsciously assumed there would have to be too much intentional conversation and strained formal smiles if I went in and sat awkwardly with Maxsim. But when he offered a second time, I couldn't say no.

Sitting in their living room, I saw his mother peek her small face around the corner of their tiny hallway, smiling briefly and deliberately. His father was watching the Maury show, and I can't deny how intrigued I was at this elderly man who speaks not a single word of English, intently watching Maury administer paternity tests and mediate the slapping and screaming fights between women and their illegitimate "baby-daddys."

I took in the peculiar scent wafting from the kitchen, and chatted with Maxsim about, oh ya know.. the usual stuff. Like how hard it is to meet "good American woman in bar." Despite the empty moments of slightly uncomfortable silence, I learned a great deal during those 20 minutes. I saw pictures of Maxsim's new wife he 'acquired' while visiting his home country, of his young son, and of his extended family. I learned how different the basis for marriage is in Albania, and what the appropriate grounds are for forming that union.

So it was nothing big. I simply sat with my neighbor for a short while, looked through his photo albums, and chatted. But it was new for me to extend more energy than just a quick hand wave or "hello" in effort to connect. I stepped outside the ease of faking phone calls to evade social interaction (don't hate, you know you've done it before) and chose to sit with another human instead, learning some things I didn't know before.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It's been far too long.. Time for a comeback (!)

All this New Year's Resolution business is funny. I used to be a mega-resolution maker with lengthy, elaborate lists of things to change or improve, ranging from superficial physicalities, to deeply-rooted character adjustments, to habit changes in daily living. Then I became anti-all of that because I just wasn’t real impressed efforts to change that were initiated solely because it was time to buy new calendars. Don't get me wrong, I'll be the first to say there are things I'd like to change about my life, and I also think the end of year/holiday season is a natural time to reflect and reassess. But I also think that if I truly desire to change, I should be pro-active regardless of convenient societal phases of 'newness.'

To reach goals, some like to establish tight parameters boxing in their behavior, keeping the path to success on the straight and narrow. But ultimately, perfect adherence to stringent rules and schedules is not necessarily life-enriching in itself, nor is it change-yielding. Like a kid in a school class- perfect attendance would matter very little if not accompanied by participation and engaging the curriculum.

It's funny because 'attendace' in the context of life would probably just refer to being physically present, simply breathing, heart beating... real inspiring huh? So while showing up for the job consistently is commendable, it won't necessarily incite growth.


So as I contemplated setting a new year's resolution for 2010, January 1st came and went with little inspiration, and I still wasn't sure if I wanted to sign up for some lofty goal. Then late-night January 5th came, my 24th birthday-eve. That night I lay on my floor, a little perplexed and mildly overwhelmed about the thought of entering what I suppose to be my ‘mid-twenties.’ Mind unclear, I naturally took out a fat marker and a disassembled Trader Joe's paper bag and I wrote, and wrote furiously. Quick blurbs of thought lightened up some deep personal analyses; the overarching theme of it all seemed to be born of some lavish desire for newness.

So I responded to the evident urge of this 24th year- I made a ‘New Life-Year’s Resolution:’


It’s just so frighteningly easy to pass through an entire day lazily, carrying on as steady as possible to accommodate comfort and ease above all. How many times have I gone from sun up to sundown without stepping once outside my daily muscle memory long enough to realize how many opportunities there were to move through time uniquely? I think most of the time we have a choice, an equal opportunity- either to slip through a moment passively, ineffectually, OR to participate in your own life affectively, and open to being affected.
So this little endeavor of mine could entail making something I've never made before- creating of any kind (because creating inherently ushers newness), trying a new recipe or restaurant, changing a habitual routine, taking part in a new activity... etc etc etc. Sounds easy enough, right? At the inception of this whole thing, I was flooded with ideas of things to try.. but as a realist I know it's difficult to label anything consistent these days. So even the smallest of tasks could present quite a challenge to keep up.

What’s most important in all this though, is that my commitment lies in trying, not in perfection.

Because I will inevitably fail some days, and the self-deprecation and discouragement that would typically ensue won’t be of any use. So when I miss a day of newness- I’ll simply acknowledge my imperfection, yet recognize I’m still worth enough to keep trying.

So New #1 for me was snowboarding @ Snow Summit with family, a huge log cabin, late night poker, junk food... Who could ask for more? And yes, my tailbone was bruised for over a week, but through all the falling I found it fun enough to want to go again :)

From here on, I'll try to check back in regularly to share my New’s, as I'll call them. I've no idea what will come of all this, maybe great things maybe not.. but I feel good about finding out..