[A Reflection] We Are All Acorns

“Just because sandcastles are ephemeral and doomed to be washed away, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t build them, for they are still beautiful and fun to build. Life itself is not very different.”

The caveat of growing older, is understanding that as cyclical as we might imagine life to be – life also comes with an expiration date.  For as superhuman as we can feel, we’re also exceptionally fragile, like a basket of fresh egg on a Spring day,a newborn baby seeing the world with fresh eyes and your great grandmother’s China that you only use for special occasions.  As much as we prance, pounce and push our way to the top of our own proverbial mountain, it’s often in disregard that the quality of our time on this wonderful planet is also quantifiable.  Life is the synthesis of years, months, weeks, hours, seconds, and fleeting moments that have the weight of the world on their shoulders; and yet, it can be taken away all too soon. The irony of maturing is recognizing that the beauty around you, as minute or magnanimous at it stands, is ephemeral.

This year especially has been an emotional rollercoaster of losses for the Entertainment community.  More often than not, what I’ve found is that while mourning comes from the best of intentions, it eventually becomes a self serving reminder of our own mortality and accomplishments – or, usually, the lack thereof.  But this weekend, the dance community was shattered by the unfortunate passing of a man known for making the most of the moment, finding beauty in breakdowns and providing an uplifting reprieve from the world we live in. 

Sunday of my first Lightning in a Bottle, my dancing feet were failing me and all I wanted to do after three days at kittens first camping festival was take a serious snooze on the lush green grass.   As we sat near the Woogie, collecting our final marbles and exchanging hearty laughs, a slow beat started moving my whole body and I couldn’t help but bop in place to the infectious intonations. Donned in pastel technicolor parasols and androgynously amazing apparel, what started as a sleepy morning manifested into a  musical menagerie and what felt like the soundtrack of my life.  Eclectic and electric, I marinated into a moment that I never wanted to leave as Pumpkin delivered feel good hit after feel good hit.

It was music that transported us across generations and genres, initiating an evolution from unique, individual snowflakes into a haphazard but uniform snowstorm of happiness. A warmth filled my body as the music cascaded from expertly mixed oldies to emotionally driven four to the floor beats, from Jackson 5 to Fleetwood Mac, into Feed Me & Crystal Fighters ‘Love is All I Got’.  It as only later once I had time to refer to the lineup that I realized that it was Pumpkin, who I’d later revere as a West Coast Festival favorite.

Pumpkin was always an artist that my crew and I vehemently looked forward to, regardless of whatever nonsensical residual feelings echoed in the background – he brought us together. Whether we were mainstage waiting for the next act or blissfully taking in the sunshowers from every direction, Pumpkin had a smile and a song for all of us. From Sea of Dreams and Shambhala, to Lightning in a Bottle and Woogie Weekend – the one common denominator was how much the community was looking forward to his set.

One of those few individuals that was more than the sum of his parts, Pumpkin was more than a man and his music, he was a movement – a love train where he was the conductor, a sunshine soaked cruise with Pumpkin proudly at the helm; Pumpkin was a pastor, preaching love, kindness, happiness and warmth at every chance he could. Pumpkin was a humanist, believing the best in the world around him and instilling the world with an effervescent heartbeat that will unequivocally live on. His passing is more than a tragedy, it’s a communal travesty – a man revered for distilling vast amounts of happiness, he will be sorely missed. Pumpkin’s musical legacy will live in pride on the dance floor even though his heartbeat is missing from the soundtrack of our lives

There’s no way around it, it’s sad….I’m sad, what’s forever missing from our community is sad….but it doesn’t have to be.  Dance with joy and hug with love, be one with the world and don’t let one second go that you don’t exclaim to yourself, the world and the people you share it with how much you love them.

 

In memorial, friends of Pumpkin have set up a GoFundMe to provide for his family in this trying time, any little bit helps – and is a small price to personally pay for the amazing legacy that he’s left.

Pumpkin’s Go Fund Me

“Initial funds will go towards memorial costs and all the rest will be put towards some sort of charity involving music and children, to be specified by Nick’s family. As time goes on it’s our hope that Nick can continue to support the charity of their choosing, as we’re sure his big heart would have wanted.”

 

 

Saying Goodbye to Sake

 Over the past few weeks, my heart has been slowly breaking. It’s been trying, difficult and frustrating to wrap my fingers around the idea that a piece of my life is missing; there’s a definitive void – not just within me, but surrounding me. Words have failed me, and at every turn I feel like I’m going to crumble to the ground, overcome by emotion and struck by reality.


Back in college, I was going through a transitionary period. Becoming a fifth year senior isn’t usually commendable but at an institution like UCSB – it also wasn’t uncommon. It was the Summer of 2007 and I had just moved out of Isla Vista to the Mesa – a wonderful area near downtown Santa Barbara, surrounded by a stunning almost 360 view of the Pacific Ocean. My best friend at the time, a wonderful, warmhearted gal with an affinity for furry friends, moved in with me and between the five housemates we had two cats – Ssleman, a beautiful grey and white cat with a warm heart and a little black kitty that hid every chance it could; and then there was Roxy, a Golden Retriever / Yellow Lab puppy with more energy than I’d ever seen. After living there for a few months and going through a few mental moments of manifest destiny, I decided it was time – time for me to get a cat. I needed something to love beyond myself, to remind me that I was worthy of love; I needed to care about something to remind myself of the circular motion of life.


Arriving at the shelter, I gallivanted into the cat room and immediately felt at home. Throughout middle school and high school, I’d volunteered at cat shelters and there’s nothing like some kitty cuddles to brighten your mood and cultivate altruism. I glanced at an 8 month old Siamese that I immediately wanted to bring home, and a litter of orange tabby kittens not more than 2 weeks old. After getting to know me a bit, the young man working this room had a visceral lightbulb moment…“There’s a cat over here that I think will be perfect for you; he’s a little trickster and a lover.”  As we walked over to the carrier, a beautiful blue-grey cat sat poised in the back of the cage. “No…” I mused “…what about the playful girl next to him?” The man smiled back “Why don’t you guys go into the play room, and if it’s not a good fit we can keep looking.”

As Maguro was plucked from his perching position and was handed to me, his front paws reached out around my neck and he looked at me like I was home.  From the moment we were in the play area, he flopped and stretched ten ways to Sunday, purring, prancing and pawing at me. Looking up with a glimmer of gratitude in my eyes, I laughed “Ok, you guys got me…I’ll take him!”

As it turned out, I couldn’t bring him home immediately – upper respiratory infections are incredibly common in shelter cats and he’d just come down with one. Instead of bringing him home, I played with his sister – Saba – and it felt like she knew I was taking her brother away. I whispered that I would take good care of him and she purred in response.

Eight years later, I can say that without a doubt – he’s actually taken care of me.  From Santa Barbara to now four different homes in Los Angeles, Sake has been my confidant, my best friend, my furry little man and the light of my life. He’s gotten me through heartbreak and deaths, losing friends and losing my mind. 

 

My little Sake bomb. Sir Saks a Lot. He was the most playful, loving creature I’ve ever known. He would wake me up by pouncing on my chest and announcing his hunger with a miniature roar, he would zoom around the apartment with gusto and cuddle-hug you like he was a person. Sake converted friends that had sworn they were solely dog people, and made cat lovers rejoice. He was the best thing that has happened to me in my 30 years of existence. And now, he’s gone.

We only noticed the symptoms a few weeks ago and it wrenches my soul to think if we could’ve saved him. The last two weekends were full of friends that I consider family, doting their love and happiness on him and he loved back in kind – curling up and lapping up attention like it was his job. But in the back of my mind, I was scared, sad and confused. It felt like just yesterday, he was running around in the Santa Barbara sunshine, lounging in the flowers and running to my car from down the street whenever I returned from campus. And now, I was feeding him by hand, cradling him like he was my child, wishing for a better tomorrow. But that better tomorrow never came.

Yesterday, Sake lost his battle against lymphoma. The last thing he ever did in his life was jump into my arms, almost in parallel to the way he came in. We held his paws, wiped his eyes and sang with him until his final curtain call. I’ve never been so conflicted and overrun with emotion; I don’t know if I’ve even ever been this uncontrollably sad. I miss my dapper little man but I know he’s in a better place, cathartically chasing mice and lapping up love in the great beyond.

Because of Sake, I know what it means to love, to care, to be a friend and just listen; I know the true meaning of life, to love and be loved. When you get home tonight, hug your pets…hug your loved ones, life is too short to be anything but blissful. RIP Sake, I only hope that I can have half the effect on the world that you did.

              

[Let’s Celebrate] Friendsgiving

‘Tis the season for festive candles, home cooked meals, holiday cards and spending time with the ones you love; sure, Thanksgiving is right around the corner – but Friendsgiving? That simply never goes out of style. Living in Los Angeles, as in many big cities, there are twice as many transplants as locals.  A good proportion of which stay around for the holidays and end up below the radar for Thanksgiving, if they’re not flying solo.  Not that you need an excuse to get the gang together or have an ‘orphan’ dinner, but I couldn’t think of a better one than this family infused time of year.

First things first, you need someone that’s willing to both offer up their home for the night and then deal with the mess the next day; sure, guests will help but as the drinks keep flowing – you might want people to keep away from glassware and plates and enjoy simpler, less chaotic activities that won’t result in broken dishware. And remember, crystal is nice – but it’s less nice when it’s shattered on the ground; this is an opportune time to get some plastic plates and forgo dishes for the evening.  Get a group e-mail chain going and confirm what everyone’s bringing to ensure everyone leaves with a happy heart and a full stomach, and to avoid appetizer overlap.  If you’re hosting, the turkey is on you – and if you’re attending, don’t forget to bring a little somethin’ somethin’ for the entourage beyond your appetizer and or dessert like spiked eggnog, homemade candles, a magnum of wine, or the like.  Reserve your status as host(ess) with the most(ess) by creating room for plenty of beer, ice for any coolers and Cards Against Humanity is a must.   – . Oh, and don’t forget a camera and a kickass sound system!

Last weekend was my first Friendsgiving since college, so that’s almost ten years. And it’s really taken me that long to come back into my own skin.  It’s been a while since I’ve had a group of individuals that I’ve felt this at home and in touch with, and each and every day I’m infinitely thankful that they’re in my life.  We all combined culinary forces for a night that went down in infamy, fully equipped with beer pong, dance parties and Polaroid pictures.

[Self Discovery] The 10 Things Great Minds Do For Each Other

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
– Albert Schweitzer 

Our twenties is a time of self-exploration and discovery. It’s a  rite of passage and mental manifest destiny we’re all forced to come to terms with once we enter “the real world” and figure out what it means to be a contributing member of the community, or on a more global scale – a contributing member of the human race. These are the years that we change jobs, cities, significant others, interests and musical taste as frequently as we change socks.  Just like there are laws of physics, there are also laws in the physics of our mentality: external change catalyzes internal change and propagates our growth as individual.  We need to remember that it’s not selfish to take an adjustment period to get reacquainted with your life, it’s honest; because if you can’t take a moment’s appreciation for your newly acquired situation – was there really a point?

As we work our way back into the folds of life, back into social circles and bar scenes – you have a unique opportunity to look at things with a fresh perspective. Sometimes, that perspective pulls you out of prior relationships as it pulls you into new ones – and it’s helpful to know what qualities to keep around in a person, and what to avoid.  I’ve seen (and read) a heaping dose of articles on toxic friendships lately, and just like a regular friendship – that’s a two way street, too. Whether it’s actively toxic, or passively toxic (read: enabling).For a toxic friendship to persist, both parties have to be engaging in toxic behavior.  If you’re an emotional hypochondriac and sit there using those traits as a litmus test, solemnly and discretely analyzing your relationships – you’ll probably think there’s at least one person in your world that’s ‘detrimental to your existence‘.  Instead of trying to find the negative, I want to look at the positive; if small minds tear each other down, great minds should build each other up. So, I’ve come up with a little list of qualities that you should both look for in others and manifest in yourself.

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The 10 Things Great Minds Do For Each Other

1. Encourage Growth

A good friend not only accepts you for who you are but challenges you to become the person you want to be (not the person that they want you to be) by allowing you to challenge the limits of  your comfort zone.

2. Focus on the Positive

Life follows a stereotypical pattern of twists and turns that translate into a sine curve of highs and lows. We need to both celebrate our victories and acknowledge when things aren’t up to par – but unless you’re actively working on improving something in yourself, marinating on the negative isn’t going to get you anywhere but stuck in a negative feedback cycle.  And they’re as equally detrimental to ourselves as the people around us.  Humans aren’t magnets. Negative doesn’t attract positive; positive attracts positive; you’ll get back from the universe exactly what you put into it.

3. Allow You to be Wrong

As a species, we don’t have all the answers yet – so it’s silly to think that any one individual does, either. We need to allow ourselves to be wrong in the pursuit of what is right – through empirical evidence and healthy, intelligent debate with our peers.

4. Laugh With You, Not at You

First things first, your friends should have a sense of humor.  If they don’t, there actually might be something wrong with them and you should probably should just stop talking to them all together.  Anyways, I digress. Funny happens all the time and I’ve actually laughed out loud at myself before, but when a friend actively pursues a facet of your life for their enjoyment, it might be time to cut them loose.  A good friend can find humor in the moment, but knows how to let it go and not project the humor onto you.

5. Emotionally Supportive

When life turns sour, it helps having people around that bring over vodka when all you have are lemons.  But, depending on the situation – some friends might become Negative Nancy and have nothing nice to say, a few will turn the conversation to their life and their problems (which of course, still matter – but this isn’t the time or place for it) and others will simply dip out of your life.  The positive influences in your life will find a way to give – whether its their ear, a shoulder to cry on or a couch to sleep on and silence is golden, especially when someone is at their most vulnerable.

6. Give Space When Necessary

When Galileo discovered that there was a flaw in the geocentric model, there was an uproar.  Sometimes, when people come to the realization that the world is about more than just them, they react the same way.  Everyone has a personal universe to deal with that we simply can’t know everything about.it.  We have to learn to respect boundaries and allow the people in our lives to cultivate their own worlds.

7.  Brainstorm Solutions

One of the greatest things about having a group of peers is that you get to constantly crowdsource solutions. Is your boss being too hard on you? How do you train for a marathon? Should you move to a new city?  These are all things we deal with in our life and we should feel confident that we can reach out to the people in our lives in search of our own answers.  A good friend will engage you and play devil’s advocate to get down to the root of your question.

8. Constructive Criticism

It’s okay to have an standpoint on a person, and often there’s a time and place to voice it – but unless you can find a proactive way to express it, you should probably keep it to yourself.  If you’re forming a negative opinion on someone’s life, make sure it’s not a mirror that you’re holding to your own.  Instead, take a step back from the friendship and really examine what’s bothering you.

9. Value Time

Time is valuable, and other people’s time – doubly so.  A good friend understands that everyone has their own time table and own rate of life, we simply don’t all move at the same pace in life.  So, when it comes to hanging out and getting together – they’ll let you know when they’re running late and are conscious that your time matters, too.

10. Inspire Greatness

We’re all made of stardust, and I truly believe that within each of us – there’s something amazing.  When a beautiful soul meets another, they burn brighter together – just like when two candles meet.  They listen to your ambitions, goals and lofty visions. Instead of diminishing you, or them, they’ll encourage you to chase down your dreams and convert them to reality.

I hope you guys all have friends in your life like this, because I know I do.

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art….
It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.
– C.S. Lewis –

[Shifting Seasons and New Adventures]

Sometimes I feel that life is passing me by, not slowly either, but with ropes of steam and spark-spattered wheels and a hoarse roar of power or terror.  It’s passing, yet I’m the one who’s doing all the moving.

[Martin Amis]

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Bye, bye Mid-Wilshire!

For almost four years now – it’s just been my and my fur babies, Sake and Stella; we’ve been living near The Grove, enjoying leisurely walks and the menagerie of urban art the area has to offer.  Living alone was exhilarating, liberating, freeing …. and lonely. As a social creature, I thrive when I’m surrounded by a supportive community – and doubly so when that community is comprised of close and dear friends.  And don’t get me wrong, because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my independence; but, life has a funny way of letting you know that you deserve so, so much more.  I’ve never lived with a significant other – or even an insignificant one; so when my boyfriend and I started whimsically discussing moving in together – my heart skipped a beat, and then another…and then I found myself in a strange inexorable state somewhere between pure elation and an anxiety attack.  But without a question, was going to be the easiest decision I’d ever made; yes, yes and a thousand more times yes! Though we’ve only been together for a little over a year, we’ve been friends for four years and have the most amazing connection and to boot, he’s the easiest person to be around – and my best friend. So, for the past few weeks, I’ve been sorting, packing, unpacking, resorting, throwing away and donating almost 60% of my belongings (and, ignoring my blog…); granted, lots of it was either from college and severely run down, or from my first year of Los Angeles and incredibly inexpensive – but regardless, it’s all gone!  And what’s more, is that I’m 99.5% moved into the new place already – and I’ve never, ever been this happy.

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That new ish!

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Don’t think we have enough pilllows… #cohabitationproblems

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The last graffiti at my old apartment


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The kitties all getting along =)

 

That said, it’s been a strange hiatus from writing but now that I’m settled in, expect to see much more from this Bouncy Kitty; including knocking out more Bucket List items – I just canceled cable (so thank goodness for HBO Go and my addiction to Game of Thrones!) and I’ll be able to develop more time to reading, yoga and exploring the East Side of LA.  So stay tuned and stay weird my friends =)

[Friday Fun]

Laughter, wonder, shock, awe – there all parts of our everyday lives and sometimes, I feel like these slip to the wayside during the week because we’re so engulfed in the 9-5, corporate world.  This section is my way of celebrating the world around me and preparing my brain, heart and soul to let it all go at 5pm today so I can enjoy this wonderful Los Angeles Winter weather (yes, it’s 70 – and yes, I am bragging).

“Every year for a few days in the month of February, the sun’s angle is such, that it lights up Horsetail Falls in Yosemite, as if it were on fire.”

Fun With Graffiti

Mindy-kaling

“The Piano House is located in An Hui Province, China and there’s an escalator into the building in the transparent violin.”

“Hong Kong Apts from the Ground Up”