Thursday, June 26, 2008

Goodbye to the Ghetto (and LA)

I bid farewell (scoop and wave) to Los Angeles and my unforgettable ghetto apartment as I hit the road for my annual summer trip to Utah. Only this time I'm not sure where I'll be headed when summer is done. I'm sure it will be difficult to live without the helicopter searchlights every other night and the musical vendors selling everything from tamales and strangely colored pastries, to ice cream and pork rinds. I'll miss the 20 minute morning walks to my car, and gallery of graffiti art that seems to change weekly. But all good things must come to an end. Time to say goodbye to Los Angeles. I've been standing at this crossroads for a little while now, feeling the need for a change ever since I returned from Europe last fall. My wandering spirit has grown a little weary and needs a rest (I wish I knew where my Rivendell was). I guess I need to root down my imagination. It has been 3 years of diverse experiences, adventures, and growth that I'll never forget and is difficult to quantify. I'm already anticipating the questions when I get back home of what I was doing here, what I accomplished, how I furthered my career, social standing, measure of economical status in the world, blah...blah...blah. I don't think I'll have very much to show those people. But I guess it doesn't matter because it's really not about them and I have to remind myself that I don't have to prove myself to anyone else but myself. I am so grateful for the time I have been here. It has been so valuable to me and meaningful to my life. I decided to make a brief list of some of the personal things I've been able to accomplish and enjoy while here in LA (that way when people ask me I can just refer them to my blog and move on.) Here they are, in no particular order:

- Wrote 2 feature-length screenplays and continued work on a children's novel
- Completed a writing course with the Institute of Children's Literature
- Volunteered with WriteGirl, a non-profit organization that mentors teenage girls and helps them find their creative voices through writing
- Volunteered at the Los Angeles temple
- Survived as a substitute teacher for 3 years (and never had anything thrown at me)
- Traveled to Europe
- Learned to play the guitar and am writing my own songs (I'm up to four now)
- Co-wrote and directed a documentary
- Fell in love and got my heart broken
- Dated a guy with a porsche and a Swedish accent (not the same guy as the above)
- Got a $350.00 haircut for free from a guy named Ramses III (but that was a while ago, my hair doesn't look that good anymore)
- Saw the Sequoias
- Worked as a pastry chef for a day at a restaurant in Beverly Hills
- Tried out for Tinker Bell (funny story)
- Damaged my perfect driving record
- Ran a 1/2 marathon
- Met several kindred spirits
- Played the saxophone with the Italian Saxophone Quartet (or some famous group)
- Saw Hollywood for what it was and realized I didn't want it
- Made enough money to take every summer off (nothing illegal involved)
- Gained a greater understanding of, and capacity for, tolerance, empathy, and love
- Gained a greater appreciation for family and relationships with others
- Gained greater balance and perspective and formed new dreams from that

It's been a dynamic and dense chapter in my life, a lot of processing going on and I look forward to the next chapter whatever it may be.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Together Again

You have to hear Kermit the Frog singing that (the above title). It's from the Muppet movie when all the muppets have been on various life adventures and are reunited again - much like my entire family finally being all together after at least 2+ years, and re-enacting our own little muppet show. It was just as fun and so fun having my two nieces, Erin and Abby, and nephew Vinny there. I like being the slightly crazy aunt. We rented a beach house in Huntington Beach (not the most exotic place for me since I used to live there but sure was nice to save so much on gas), and as cliche as it may sound it's true - the best part was just being all together. I did double duty this weekend and went to a Christian church Saturday evening and I just have to say I was tempted to switch teams. They have donuts and a coffee bar downstairs for those who want to go to church in their pajamas, exceptional play areas for the kids (I'd probably hang out there), and it was only an hour and a half. If that isn't enough you also get to wear jeans and flip-flops. The friend that took us explained that Jesus dressed casual so they did too. Makes sense to me. Jim Caviezel was a guest and spoke about his experience playing Christ in the Passion and his insights into Christianity and what it means to him. I found it very uplifting and am glad I went. But I also didn't mind putting on my dress and going to my church the next day (even if there were no donuts).

On Monday we went to Long Beach to tour the Queen Mary, the sister ship of the Queen Elizabeth that carried my mom and her family from Switzerland in 1950. We reenacted a picture with some extended family members that were around the same ages the immigrant family would have been at the time. The smallest one, my niece Abby, is standing in as my mom.

The other days we just hung out and went to the beach to get sunburned (I foolishly thought I was immune since I've been a California girl for more than 3 years now. Apparently that does not override being a redhead.) I also brought my guitar (my current boyfriend)and played my new heartbreak song for my family. I think that was the quietest any room had been the whole trip. It was a sweet sting. The guy in the beach house next door, who happened to like redheads (it's good to know some people out there do) heard me practicing on the patio one day and came out with his guitar. We strummed and philosophized about relationships til the mailman passed by and asked if he could play a song he wrote about the post office on my guitar. Everybody's got a song of some kind. We had some family talks about my dad's Parkinson's and how we can support each other better. We even re-kindled our old family song from when we were kids: "We Are Stuck Together, a happy family..." We used to sing it as my dad held up a framed bottle of Elmer's glue. I love my dad. Obviously, he's big on themes, so this year he brought us all kites we were to paint our dreams on and then we could go out and fly them all week. I love the metaphor and am still thinking of those new dreams I will fly on my orange kite. I am so thankful for my family and firmly believe that the most important relationships in the world are the ones with family and close friends you adopt as family. It was a great trip, and though there are a lot of things that are changing and will continue to change, we'll always pull together as family and I'll always love them.