Pure Imagination

After a long week, my boyfriend and I thought about cooking dinner for all of a minute before heading to the corner ramen place. While waiting for our order, the topic of conversation eventually landed on family. “He’s just so smart, so intelligent,” I gushed about my nephew in particular, “obsessed with science and facts; he’s just so knowledgeable about it all—“.

“Geez, when will people learn that all of that just comes down to curiosity,” my boyfriend countered.

“But…” I started, then paused, careful to choose my words, letting my brain chew on the idea instead. “I’m sorry, what?”

“Oh, I don’t mean it personally,” he stressed, “it’s just that nearly everyone says that about their kid. Don’t you remember being that age? How easy it was to be obsessed with something? I swear I knew the name of every dinosaur at that age,” he laughed.

He made an interesting point. I did remember being that age. Childhood was an actual thing growing up, not just something on TV. It was a time of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, and playing in the rain with galoshes and oversized umbrellas. From the crossing-guard to the principal, our school community was one of the best there was, contributing to a warmth carried in my heart to this day.  Bicycle rodeos and festivals were held during the fall, holiday pageants during the winter, reading achievement awards each month and student-vs.-teacher kickball games each summer. It was the ideal if not perfect environment for imagination and creativity.

Our waitress set two mugs of Sapporo on the table. My shoulders dropped. I did remember being that age. “But that doesn’t mean he’s not intelligent,” I said, my gaze meeting his, a suppression of mild annoyance.  “You’re totally right. Time will tell,” he remarked, and I perked up a bit. “But look,” he continued, “unless a kid is an actual prodigy — like, dabbling in quantam physics, speaking several languages, or writing symphonies — by hand — chances are they are just like any other kid.”

His brain had digested the notion long ago. After about twenty good chews, my brain was ready to absorb it.

Sinking back into the booth, I could almost hear my mom, “You attended Spanish classes after lunch, completely fluent; even sang in the Spanish-language pageant in first grade. What happened?” I was considered gifted in school, earned money towards a scholarship in second grade, and and worked on the school newspaper after school. What did happen?

My boyfriend checked his email, disappearing from peripheral view. I should be happy, in particular that my nephew exists within an environment that allows for willful pre-pubescent fixations to run wild, especially before pesky hormone-related distractions creep in. I have a niece as well, and wonder if she’ll stare up at the birds in the middle of the playground at recess, aching to be on the other side of the chain link fence. I wondered if there’s anything to be done to keep such fancy afloat through the years. Having been on this side of the fence for longer than I’d care to admit, the wonderment hasn’t vanished, but it’s been more difficult to come by — until recently, this whimsy revival of sorts. I should be happy for the memories. But it makes sense that now, later in life, there’s no different in feeling concerning my ability.

So was I about to admit that my boyfriend was right? Everyone knows that there are only so many opportunities to do so while saving face. But this wasn’t one of those typical Mars-and-Venus situations.

“Yo, knock, knock. You alive in there?” he asked, smirking slightly.

Our food arrived, and I nodded. My brain was full, and my boyfriend was right. I didn’t fully admit it, but he got a punch in the card anyway. The thirteenth one’s for free.

Advertisements

Knowing Where Home Is

I visited my parents the other day, having found myself in the neighborhood following an early morning appointment in Reseda. Instead of making my way back to my little corner of La La Land as I normally do, I thought, why not?

Well, the typical answer to that question, at least on my end, has been, “We work different schedules”, “Traffic is terrible”, “They’re/I’m out of town, indisposed, too tired, etc. “, or “I don’t want to be a bother”, with the latter being an obstacle of the heart than an actuality.

Traffic is a pretty big reason, however, due to time as much as safety. A patchwork quilt of minefield terrain and monstrous vehicular congestion, the LA sprawl is similar to the burroughs of New York sans its most marvellous subway system. Land-lock is kind of a thing here. It is both shocking and liberating when you realize that you can cover double your commute in half the time at midday as opposed to sundown. And so most people just put together a playlist and suck it up.

I pictured it in my head, hoping they’d be home, thinking that I’d stop by a store on the way to grab some flowers for my mom. She’d like that, I thought. My dad would like that I brought my mom flowers. There weren’t many stores on the way so I just headed over. 

Looking at it on a map, the San Fernando Valley’s residential infrastructure is an extensive grid. My parents live at the most west point of said grid, right before the mountains leading to Bell Canyon and Calabasas. The neighborhoods tend to blend into each other, with each strip mall, apartment complex, and cluster of homes looking the same as the next. Anyone else, even myself for a time, would have difficulty telling the difference between street corners, but any street heading west will get you there eventually. I still knew how to get there after not living there for 13 years.

Pulling up, I saw both of their cars were in the driveway and was relieved that I’d not only get to see my mom, but my dad before he left for work. Walking up the drive, I knocked our secret knock on the door, one reserved for family. My dad answered the door, smiling brightly, wearing comfy clothes reserved for weekends. “I thought that was you through the peephole! How are you, baby girl?” My mom followed in to the front room, meeting both of us in embrace.

And we had a great time — catching up, looking at photos of their recent cruise through the Panama Canal, talking about plans for the near future and hopeful trips planned a little further on.  The more time I spend, with anyone,  doing anything, the more I appreciate such low-key times. I promised I wouldn’t stay long, but my folks wouldn’t have that. Two hours went by so quickly, and we found ourselves saying third and fourth goodbyes, as my family is known to do. 

While driving away, I couldn’t help but think how important it is to go home, wherever that is. Somewhere that you know how to get to without referring to a map. A place where you want to be, where someone is happy to see you and you them. A place with or without physical, geographical space. Somewhere where things make sense, and where the heart is safe. 

It’s important to know where home is, to make it possible for others, and to keep it close. Otherwise we’re all just drifting.

It’s Been a While…

… but I’m here now. Actually, I’ve been here on and off for the past month, writing behind the scenes, mostly hoarding drafts with a social relevance that passes long before I’ve the nerve to publish them. 

It all got me thinking, though, about how the hot topic, buzz-worthy style of writing or ingesting information really isn’t my bag. I mean, there’s a reason why not everyone loves every new film, television show, or single that drops — a fair amount of it is garbage (and you know it’s true).

That said, there are topics that I and others find to be socially relevant as respects the times in which we currently live, including the reactions, interactions, and overall absorption of ideas and information experienced on a daily basis. An account of life experienced nearly 18 years in to a new century is pretty freaking socially relevant, and will likely be considered as much as it eventually becomes a historical point of reference. 

So what exactly have I been up to? I’ve been figuring out my story, checking off a laundry list of weighty personal concerns — friendship, family, mortality, anxiety, financial security, life potential, the future — ever-revolving topics that don’t really fly well in polite conversation. Honestly, I haven’t been too fun to hang out with.

But I have been learning a lot in taking a good look at my life and where exactly I want to take it — which has involved reminders to think outside of myself. It hasn’t been easy; it’s in our biological make up to be selfish, if merely out of the need for self-preservation. Yet, for the sake of friendships and relationships of all kinds, it’s kind of a hard requirement to find that delicate  balance between being a self-respecting, free-thinking agent and doing whatever it takes to not die alone.

Is it brave to do so? I don’t know — perhaps. Shifting perspective, addressing emotions and not squelching them, showing up; that’s just living life, isn’t it? Brave, I don’t know. It just is what it is.

What else is going on? I’ve taken some time to make more room to read, listen, and reference a word’s etymology about 10 times a day. I’ve also been spinning Tove Lo’s latest album Blue Lips non-stop since its November 17th release, which may or may not be healthy. Been having some bizarre, ultraviolent dreams that take at least 10 minutes at a time to transfer to paper. And currently, I’m a few steps across the bridge between Thanksgiving and Christmas where it’s a little too early to be holly jolly and a little too late to still be eating leftovers.

So yes, it has been quite a while. I’m here now, though.

Photo via opensourceway.com

Short Horror Stories About Adulting (Happy Halloween)

If you want to be scarred for life, read on. Imagine this if you dare:

  • Leaving the house without the following: (a) driver’s license, (b) shoes, (c) eyebrow pencil, (d) enough gas in the tank, or (e) all the above.
  • Waking up happy it’s Friday but it’s only Tuesday.
  • Relieved that it’s payday but nope, that’s next week.
  • Neglecting to clean out the coffeemaker from three weeks ago and discovering a scene not unlike a science project.
  • Having to make three Target runs in a week.
  • Losing a contact lens in your eye socket while driving.
  • Having your only ponytail holder snap in the middle of the work day.
  • Chucking your cell phone and building access badge in the mail chute instead of the mail.
  • Forgetting to take your birth control pills for three days, thereby throwing your figure, complexion, mood and digestive system into the pits of hormonal hell.
  • Falling into the toilet at Gold Coast Bar.
  • Getting into an elevator when you’re late for work to have someone jam their arm between the closing doors and let 10 people on who — naturally — select a minimum of five stops between the lobby and your floor.
  • When the server at Sunday brunch takes 15 minutes to get your check, and another 15 minutes to process your payment, when all you want to do is go home and nap off a hangover.

      I think that’s it. Happy Halloween, everyone!

      I’m a Size Queen

      I was in the stationary and notebook aisle at Target yesterday and decided that I needed yet another notebook to write in. Because I’m usually on the go and prefer the convenience of taking down ideas at a moment’s notice, I figured opting for the 4″ x 6″ ruled and spiraled assignment book would be the easy solution.

      But I’ve been down this road. Too many times have I purchased something compact for convenience only to feel claustrophobic and choked out on each page after page. My psychological reflex doesn’t allow me to see the forest for the trees as a result.

      Plus, in all honestly, I get bored. Experience has shown me that if something doesn’t work, then go with your gut and try something else. So I moved on to the 7.5″ x 10.5″ college ruled notebook and decided to go with that. My reasoning is that the wider plain of paper that I write on, hopefully the better I will see ideas, characters, and environments take form.

      All this to say that I didn’t end up buying either, because I remembered that I’ve plenty of notebooks from college begging to be used. The plan this weekend is to dig them out and make more than friendly with them.

      Save a tree, save a life.

      Writing 101 in a Digital World

      Sometimes I forget that you don’t need an internet connection to write.

      Yesterday I had some time to write before meeting a friend for dinner, and conveniently had my laptop with me. However, I experienced slight panic for a moment when I realized that there wasn’t a WiFi connection to hook up to.

      That’s pretty bad.

      I grew up in the late 80s, early 90s. My family had a telephone attached to the wall. We didn’t even have a TV for a time. I know that one doesn’t need a computer or smartphone to write — a pencil or pen and paper will more than do the job (even a brow pencil… true story.)

      Yet lately I’ve found writing sessions to be fueled in part by the need to immediately publish something — in line with the philosophy of a tree falling in the forest, I guess you could say. However unintentional, having such a mindset — a reflex of powering up to write down — has definitely impacted how often I write, greatly inhibiting my range of artistic motion.

      In my defense, technological convenience is something we’ve so grown used being there to the point that the physical act of writing can feel like supplementary behavior until one can get to the perfect moment in which to fully flesh out an idea.

      But if our world was to enter apocalyptic status today, right now, there’d be nothing to connect to, no immediate spread of ideas. All works online would cease to exist. If we were lucky, some publications would have survived any fires, floods, blasts. But we’d truly have to rebuild and create a future on a physical, tangible foundation with our selves doing the thinking, not our beloved machines.

      I used to think that being in front of a computer was my perfect sit-down moment — and it still is, in most ways. However, it might be time to redefine the line in the sand, with a pencil or pen and paper, and whatever’s swimming inside. No tabs open, and nothing to reference except for, perhaps, a physical thesaurus, encyclopedia, or other source of study. Back to basics, in the interest of preservation.

      LA Weekly’s Best of L.A. 2017 — West Hollywood Re-Deux

      Screenshot_20171010-112938

      LA Weekly just came out with their annual Best of L.A. issue, which I picked up by happenstance on Friday night. As a native of this awesomely diverse and sprawling city,  I can’t wait to flip through even more, as there are some really interesting places profiled: a Romanian restaurant in Highland Park, a body-positive gym in Mount Washington, late-night Thai food in East Hollywood (as well as a magic-themed bar), veggie soul food in Leimert Park, a history museum in the west Valley, and countless others.

      I was, however, quite thrown off when I reached the section for West Hollywood — a literal half-page-and-a-column about the following: a boxing gym, a marijuana dispensary, a new restaurant, and The Chapel aka The Abbey lite. Also included was a brief note from an expert that mentioned the aquatic center and mural on the back of the library, but nothing that really stood out.

      West Hollywood featured in LA Weekly’s “Best of LA 2017”.

      Hmm.

      Like… really? That’s all that LA Weekly could come up with?

      Thanks to the Sunset Strip, I’ve never really been a stranger to Weho — any time between 2006 and 2010, you could find me taking the 218 over the long and windy Laurel Canyon pass then the 2 west, just to get lost in a show at the Viper Room or the Roxy. My diminutive, reserved Lake Balboan self was eyeballs deep in dreamland every time, and I just loved it.

      After making the move in 2012, I can truly say that it’s one of those unique cities where everyone can be who they want to be. It’s also very walkable– it isn’t out of the ordinary for me to park my car after work on  Friday evening and not get back into until Monday morning. It’s a small town in a big city, a real community of people from all walks and income brackets — real folks who work, live, volunteer, and create here.

      It really is a special place, full of culture, color, flavor, life, and pride, with something most always going on, and someone most always glad to see or get to know you.

      So I’ve decided to do my own “Best of West Hollywood” feature –not from the perspective from a trust-fund hipster, but from a former Valley girl and aspiring writer who works a 9:30-to-7 near LAX.

      Best Ramen Place: Daikokuya
      Not that I’m complaining, but I used to have to drive all the way to Little Tokyo, then Little Osaka on Sawtelle to get my spicy miso ramen fix. So now having Daikokuya available within walking distance just makes life all sorts of shiny (especially following a night of 2-for-1 drink specials on Santa Monica Blvd). Not only ramen, but they serve up some awesome rice bowls — shredded pork with ginger, teriyaki chicken, eel, oh my — with miso soup and cabbage salad with a dressing worth the caloric indiscretion. Every time.

      Best Sit-Down Pizzeria: Dough
      The name says it all — the dough makes the pizza. There really is something that just makes it taste so damned good. Do they fly in cases of Poland Spring water from New York, or utilize a water filtration process similar to Brooklyn Water Bagel Co.? I don’t know but what I do know is that it is so delicious every single time. Single slices are priced from $2.50 (cheese) to $3.99 (BLT), and there are innovative menu selections and  specials every day of the week. My personal favorite special is Monday’s buy one get one pizza special, and $0.99 pizza slices with the purchase of a drink on Wednesdays.

      Best Happy Hour: Cecconi’s (Tuesday to Saturday from 4 to 7pm, enjoy food and cocktails priced from $4 to $7!) and St. Felix (daily from 4 to 8pm; Sundays start at 2! Just. So. Good. Just go. Go.)

      Best Frozen Yogurt: Yogurt Stop
      The prospect if dessert is worthy of a smile in itself, but throw in flavor names such as Bottoms Up Banana, Salted Caramel Booty, Milk My Harvey Chocolate, and Original Weho Tart John Duran, and you’ll be guaranteed at least a yelp of amusement. Plus, their vegan flavors — including coconut, almond; watermelon sorbet — actually taste like and have a non-imitation consistency.

      Best Car Wash: Santa Palm Car Wash
      I could go to the gas station closer to my office, or anywhere on the way home from wherever I may be headed — but I always end up at the local car wash on the corner of Palm and Santa Monica Blvd. You just feel where your dollar is going — into local business versus dime-a-dozen machinery. Newly remodeled and located across the street from Yogurt Stop and sharing geographical real estate with LA Buns hot dog and hamburger stand, its service with a smile is in actuality.

      Best Disco FriesKitchen 24
      Somewhere in between poutine and heaven falls an order of disco fries. Fun story: one night I was attempting to make my way back home after a liquor-ish maiden voyage to FUBAR and I had the drunken munchies. I walked by Kitchen 24 and dropped in to request the K24 Breakfast Sandwich and disco fries, the former of which I devoured on the rest of the walk home. The latter, however, my boyfriend ate the following morning as I slept off the booze. I forgave him eventually.

      Best Gay Bar: Flaming Saddles 
      Now, I personally can get into regular old country, but this isn’t regular old country. It is West Hollywood country, honey — a.k.a. attractive men in tight denim, boots, and hats, sometimes dancing on tables. Not that there’s anything wrong with a posh, scene-y vibe, but if you’re going for hella fun, go for the cowboy. Always the cowboy. (Runner-up: Micky’s.)

      Honorable mentions —
      Best Bottomless Mimosa Brunch: Jack n’ Jill’s Too, Marco’s Trattoria
      Best New Place for Alternative Tacos: Tocaya Organica
      Best Pet Supply Store: Collar & Leash
      Best Tucked-Away Hotels:  Le Montrose, Le Petit Ermitage
      Best Restaurants (That I’ve Been To): The Granville, Sandbox on Melrose
      And finally, Restaurants/Shops/Places That I Hope to Visit Soon: Pono Kitchen + Bar, The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker, Salt & Straw

      Ah… see? Much better.