adventures

pretty hippie dress

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August Break, day 12: posing in my current favorite dress at the farmers market in Ashland, Oregon with Giovanna who appears to have already mastered the kissy face, my husband James who was still recovering from the stomach flu, and my dear cousin Faren who was sucking in her pregnant belly quite successfully.

Although it looks like a hippie dress, it’s really not, because it was from Free People and it was pricey; a birthday gift to myself.

The prettiness of the embroidery, the fluidity of the drop waist, the lightness of the fabric, the choppy layers of the skirt, all work together to make me feel on the outside how I am on the inside: a colorful free spirit.

This is the best kind of clothing, the kind that lets us wear our true selves like a tapestry.

[August Break]

grocery carts for children

August Break, day 8: herding little people through the grocery store.

I wonder if other parents loathe these tiny carts as much as I do. They’re a great idea in theory, wonderful to spark make-believe, but the grocery store is a hazardous place, full of bottles to be broken and food to grab and legs to collide into.

But how can I say no when such a small thing makes them so happy?

 

[August Break]

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wild like a dervish

Written for Trifecta

 

I want to be wild like a whirling dervish.

 

Wild because I dance to my own song, listen to my own beat, know my true self.

Wild like a woman who refuses to shave her legs.

Wild like a man who embraces his femininity.

 

Wild because I don’t let fear dictate my decisions.

Wild like a child who paints without judgment, loves without reservation.

Wild like anyone who follows their dreams, no matter how long the journey.

 

Wild because I have faith in the divine.

Wild like a man who jumps out of an airplane with the hopes of landing softly.

Wild like a woman who follows her heart instead of others’ expectations.

 

I am wild. I am free. I am here.

 

This is me. Jumping off a bridge in Jamaica. 

that’s britney spears

The baby took a long nap. Longer and later than usual. I took a nap, too. We woke up and the sun had set and the night was young. We were staying in Beverly Hills, at the Thompson hotel, which we chose for lack of other affordable options for our last night in LA. We’d booked the room that morning, after bidding on Priceline without luck. The location didn’t excite me, I didn’t want to shop, I wanted to be near the beach.

After the nap, we left for dinner. The lobby was compact, but fancy. The halls were long and narrow, but black and laquered. The street lacked charm, but the rooftop pool was warm and you could see the Hollywood sign. It was the size of my pinkie.

James went to request the car from the valet (because that’s how it is in LA) while I determined our destination. In the dim lobby, I noticed another mom. The kind that stands out wherever she is: long-ish bleached blonde hair, trim body, two whining boys. Her kids were pulling on her long sweater, saying, “we wanna stay, mama.” From what I could see, she ignored their pleas, and they stopped. I thought it wasn’t a bad strategy. She had an agenda. She was saying good-bye to a dark-haired woman with a suitcase who was checking out of the hotel.

Meanwhile, I was annoyed that the concierge desk was empty. I was drinking water and giving Giovanna water and using my iPhone to find a restaurant on the Yelp app. I admired my pretty dress in the mirrored wall. I buttoned my baby’s sweater. I found a sushi place around the corner. I stepped outside, where James was still waiting for the valet, and told him that we should walk instead. He agreed.

I  stood behind the curb, stuck in my own universe, watching a Mercedes G-wagon  roll up ever so smoothly. The two whining boys climbed in. I watched them buckle up, thinking that they must be in booster seats because of how high they were sitting in the car. I wondered “who are these people? Does everyone in LA have blonde hair and drive what looks like a cross between a Hummer and a Mercedes, only more expensive?”

I was watching this family scramble into their car, wondering who they were, when I saw her face.

Britney Spears.

She was sitting in the front seat, wearing plenty of black eye make-up, looking paranoid and scared. Would the paparazzi jump out from behind the corner? Would I whip out a camera and start photographing her? Was she going to escape unscathed?

I am a child of the mid-eighties. Britney was in her glory days, living the dream, during my tween years in the nineties. Once upon a time, I may have been a fan. And here she was, in the flesh. The girl who went from mouseketeer to pop princess to sex icon to raving lunatic to a mom just trying to provide a good life for her kids and know love. Here was the girl who was chewed up and spit out by the pop industry, created and destroyed by the same force. A girl people love, and a girl people love to hate.

After my eyes adjusted, and my brain accepted the image it was perceiving, I tried to look the other way. A man was climbing into the front seat of the car (later identified as her fiance) and he looked at me before closing the door. By then, James had re-joined Giovanna and I and was steering us towards the street.

“Let’s go,” he said.

“That’s Britney Spears,” I whispered.

“I know. She ran into me.”

And so it was.

because that’s how it is in LA

I’ve loved Southern California since before I was born. Because both sets of my beloved grandparents lived and loved in Southern California. Because my parents grew up there, and somehow, it felt like home. Because it was always sunny in my childhood. Because the sand was white and the waves were rowdy. Because the palm trees were exotic. Because it represented vacation.

I couldn’t figure out why my parents moved away from such a haven.

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Today, I’m still living in the region my parents chose when fleeing LA: the Pacific Northwest. I love it here, in spite of the rain and the gray skies. And I still love Southern California, in spite of the smog and the crowds. I traveled to LA last week with my family, marking the first flight after Giovanna’s second birthday, the first flight where we had to buy her a seat (this was a good idea), and I remembered why I fall in love with California, over and over again.

It wasn’t perfect. The traffic was horrendous. One night, I tweeted: If I can sit on a crowded bus for 1.5+ hours w/2 yr old on my lap (during dinner time), I can do anything. James was working, so I had to fend for myself. In spite of being sunny, it was often chilly, and it rained on our first day, which I couldn’t believe. My cousin was the silver lining. James booked the hotel through work and it just happened to be a few blocks from where she lives. As a doting mother to a nursing toddler, I don’t get out much. And while I don’t derive the same pleasure from bars and clubs as I once did, I still have fun. I still enjoy the scene. I still love to dance.

My cousin took me out to The Roxbury in Hollywood where we happened to share a table with Mischa Barton. The club throbbed with a heady energy, the kind that makes you shake your booty with ease and grace. Or so you think. It took me a good half hour to acclimate to the club, to rediscover my inner party girl, but she’s still in there, albeit subdued.

Another night, my cousin and I sat in the lounge at The Standard in West Hollywood and watched two intimate acoustic performances. We giggled and whispered in the corner, catching up and having too much fun. We tried to pay attention, but it wasn’t until the next artist took the room, Shane Alexander, someone whose performance made me want to lie on the cold ground and stare in awe at the sky, that we actually stopped talking and started listening.

Determined to live as if it was summer and not winter, and because the sun was warm in certain spots, I took Giovanna swimming in the hotel pool and frolicking on the Santa Monica beach.

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We were often on the go, which meant she occasionally napped in the front pack. She weighs 25 pounds now, but I handled it. For her.

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Once James had a day off, we visited the Getty, together with our baby, marveling at the paintings and the views, and for a moment, I was transported to Europe, perhaps Florence or Paris, where the art inspires reverence and the history revives learning, and each exhibit leaves you itching for more knowledge.

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We ate out a lot, which translated into countless spills and messes and fusses. (Reminding me why I like to cook at home, especially for dinner when little ones tend to be tired.) At one of our many meals, we saw Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, dining with his family. Because that’s how it is in LA.

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We stayed at three different hotels. The Standard in West Hollywood, where design meets swank, and every night from 8 pm to midnight a girl sits in a glass box behind the front desk (think fishbowl), just living her life. Meditating. Napping. Reading. iPhone-ing. They call her the box girl.

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We stayed at the Roosevelt where old Hollywood meets new Hollywood and the dim, tufted lobby is a quiet refuge from the crazies loitering on the Walk of Fame.Photobucket

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At the Roosevelt pool, which was a place to be seen, she flirted like crazy.

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And on the last night, we stayed at the Thompson in Beverly Hills, where modern meets wealth (think rooftop pool with panoramic views and black lacquered halls). I don’t have any photos from this one, but I do have a story. Neither a TV star like Mischa nor an internet tycoon like Jeff could even begin to compare to the starlet we ran into at the Thompson.

Until next time. (Because this post is getting long.)

 

a blanket of snow

A blanket of snow covered the Pacific Northwest last week. I wandered into it, camera in hand, completely shocked, overwhelmed, awestruck by the beauty that had befallen us. As if I’d never seen snow before.

This snow fall was different somehow. Perhaps more severe, and more serene. The skies were ominous, the sunset blurry, the roads peaceful, the air quiet yet biting, the gnarly branches naked and desperate for reprieve. I thought for a moment I’d stepped into another realm, and maybe I had.

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dance like no one’s watching

Most of us have heard the wildly popular quote: dance like no one’s watching.

But how many adults actually have this kind of freedom? How many of us let loose at a concert or rock out in our cars during traffic? There are too many people watching, too many reasons to be embarrassed, too much insecurity and not enough dancing.

I wish we all broke into dance like children do.

If you want inspiration, scroll to the bottom and watch the (very short) video. Emile will show you how it’s done.

where pumpkins grow

I’ve already told you about my love for pumpkins, vibrant orange globes symbolizing autumn, perfect for savory dishes, sweet treats, and decoration. Is there a plant more diverse than the pumpkin?

The pumpkin patch is a hallowed place, a place where anything can happen.

Where the earth produces fruit larger than one’s head.

And a fairy godmother is waiting to grant your heart’s desire, whether it be a hay ride or a face painting or turning a pumpkin into a pie.

 

 

The pumpkin patch is where families come together, where hundreds of orange globes light up our faces, where we commune in the spirit of seeking autumn.

Welcome to November, possibly the best month for eating pumpkins.

a new york lesson: “making it” is overrated

I spent a week in New York City, on a bustling adventure in the city that never sleeps, with my toddler as my travel companion. Together, we flew across the country in one seat to explore the neighborhoods of Manhattan.

My daughter and I enjoyed afternoon tea on the Upper East Side, perhaps the wealthiest neighborhood in the world. We ate vegan food on the Upper West Side. We sought out the prettiest brownstones and the grandest architecture.

We took the subway and taxi cabs, but mostly, I walked, pushing a stroller or carrying a 23 pound baby on my back. I walked so much that I returned with blisters on both feet and tendonitis in one foot.

On the streets, I was awestruck by random displays of art.

In Times Square, I was dwarfed by consumerism.

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was intrigued by statues of the Buddha and paintings depicting Jesus Christ acting like a real human baby. (In case you were wondering: he didn’t cry, but he did nurse.)

In Central Park, I played with my girl.

From the top of the Empire State Building, I peered across the heads of millions and marveled at how vast the world is, how small each person is. And yet we all matter. No matter how miniscule one person’s efforts are in the grand scheme of things, together, we can build a skyscraper. Our collective power is without limits.

There are billions of people out there. People suffering, people laughing, people loving, people hating. People writing, people blogging, people reading. People following dreams, just trying to make it. I woke up this morning in an introspective place, wondering about this life, where I am headed and how I should spend each precious day. I wonder if I am doing everything, or anything, right. I don’t want to waste time. The universe is eternal, yet my time here is short.

Cast into foreign surroundings, I learn a little more about the world around me, and about myself. My trip to New York City, a place obsessed with “making it,” further demonstrated something I’ve been turning around in my head for a while now: my life is simultaneously inconsequential and momentous. If no one reads this blog today, I will go on, it will make no difference to that which matters most to me: the happiness of my family. If someone reads this blog and they’re struck by my words, inspired by my thoughts or photographs, a light could go on and a life could change forever.

Perhaps there is no such thing as success or failure, there is only fate.

living in awe

Watching my children observe the animals at the zoo, awestruck by a slithering snake and wrestling bears and an orangutang playing peekaboo, I begin to ponder the miracle of life. A kangaroo hops across the grass and an elephant swings his trunk and the humans wander aimlessly around the zoo, pointing and talking and taking pictures. Every living being is utterly unique. We are incomparable, yet we’re all powered by the same force, we’ve all got the same spark of life beating our hearts.

After a few decades on this planet, many of us stop seeing the miracles, we no longer bask in awe when we feed an animal or hold a newborn baby. It’s not our fault, we’re just busy and preoccupied. We’ve been there and done that.

But if we can preserve the awe and notice the miracles, I believe we can find deeper satisfaction in every day. Apathy really has no place in the human condition.