Greetings from Portland, Oregon. I just cruised into this city last night and am excited to check it out. So far, the road trip has been an absolute joy. The only negative – and it’s hardly a negative – is that it’s taking longer than I anticipated. This is partly because I’m traveling with a dog and need to stop to let her do her business (and run around). And partly because there’s so much beauty that I keep stopping to take pictures.
Slowing down isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, this is one of many differences between this road trip and the one I did in the opposite direction 19 years ago. Back then, I had to be in LA by a certain date for the beginning of grad school. Today, I have no such deadline. My schedule is completely up to me. Which is not to say that I want to be on the road forever, or arrive at my destination a month from now. I simply don’t have to rush.
For example, when I saw a sign for Lagoon Lake north of Eureka, California, I pulled off the road and drove down a hill to discover this practically empty beach.
In Redwood National Park, I drove 34 miles in and out of the park just to see this view.
I pulled over again for this beach, which took my breath away when I saw it from the road.
Several people told me I couldn’t leave Oregon without seeing Crater Lake, so I drove a few hours roundtrip to check it out. It was created thousands (millions?) of years ago when the volcano erupted, blowing the top of the mountain off. Over time, the crater filled with water from rain and snow melt. The little island you see in the middle is apparently a new mini-volcano growing within the old one. One day, maybe millions of years from now, it, too, will blow.
Someone also suggested I check out Florence, a tiny fishing village on the Oregon coast, and the nearby dunes. This is what we did just before driving to Portland.
So, yeah, I’m slowing down and soaking it in. I know there is much more ahead, and many unknowns at my final destination, but I’m trying to stay focused on the here and now. I want to always remember this trip, these images, the sounds, the energy of each place I visit.
It feels like a luxury to slow down, but really, it’s simple. You don’t even have to leave home to do it.
Well, this is it. Within minutes of ‘publishing’ this post, Ruby and I are leaving the Bay area, where we’ve been for three days, and heading north for our cross-country adventure (which is starting out more like up-country). I’m both excited and nervous to begin this journey into unchartered territory, literally and figuratively. As I face these huge unknowns, I wanted to take a moment to look back at all the things, places and people that I’m leaving behind (in no particular order).
My apartment. Kaz’s apartment. He lived there for many years before he met me. The place where we fell in love. Where we lived together. Where he died, and where I grieved him. I still remember the first time I stepped into that apartment, I had butterflies in my stomach.
My neighborhood. One mile east of Mann’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in an area called “Little Armenia,” which is adjacent to “Thai Town.” Unlike much of Los Angeles, in this neighborhood everything you need is in walking distance: café, cheap tacos, cheap Thai food, dog supply store, dog washing, dry cleaning, bank, grocery stores (the small mom-and-pop kind and the large chains), gas station, 7/11, post office and so on. Many of these establishments knew me. The mom-and-pop grocery store once let me walk out with a $50 I.O.U. because I didn’t have cash and their credit card machine was down and it was 10 minutes to closing time. I came back the next day with the money. It was such a wonderful interaction. “That’s what it means to be a regular,” a friend told me.
My neighbors. Believe it or not, I never knew any of my neighbors before getting a dog. But in the past two years, I’ve made some very dear friends on the block, mostly other dog owners. We’ve spent hundreds of hours walking our dogs together, having play dates, drinking vodka and juice on hot summer nights, having heated discussions about all kinds of subjects, and laughing until we cried. My neighbors helped me so much with the move, I honestly don’t know how I would have managed without them. Meeting these folks enriched my life, and I’m very grateful.
My dog’s friends. The summer of ’14 will always be known as the summer Ruby met her first love. His name was Capone. They were exactly the same age, born in the same year, just three days apart. They would run around and wrestle in Capone’s yard for hours. To a stranger’s eye, their rough-and-tumble play might have looked scary. But despite the bared teeth, growls, body slams and neck grips neither ever got hurt. On the contrary, they were perfectly matched in size, stamina, strength and love. Capone’s father Ivan said Capone now has two “tear drop” markings under his left eye and sent me the before and after pics. It’s true. They’re there. That’s love for ya.
My dog’s daycare. A dedicated bunch of super professionals who loved Ruby as if she were their own (and whom she loved just as much). Whenever I left her there, I knew she was in good hands. On her last day, they gave her an entire bag of dog treats for free.
My dog’s vet. Though across town and a little pricey, the level of service was excellent. Again, she was in good hands.
My dentist. Remember when I came back from Vermont with a loose front tooth? My dentist gave me a brand new smile and didn’t charge me an arm and a leg. He was kind, patient, gentle, thorough and professional. As a bonus, he was also young and handsome. He was my favorite dentist thus far in life. And, as we all know, a good dentist is hard to find.
My mechanic. In a city like Los Angeles, your mechanic is almost as important as your dentist. I had the same mechanic for 19 years. He was a handsome, middle-aged, white-haired, Persian Israeli man named Eddie. He was like a second father figure, helping me maintain the four cars I’ve owned since moving here. He would always shake his head when I would bring in my ailing vehicle, “Why don’t you bring it to me sooner?” Of course, I brought my car to him before the road trip for a total tune-up and new front brakes. He hugged me goodbye, “Please call me when you arrive. I want to know you got there safely.” That’s a good mechanic.
My therapist. I changed therapists this year and really liked the new one. I liked the old one too. In any case, I’ll miss them both.
My friends. I have the best friends in the world. The only thing that makes leaving slightly less painful is that a few of my closest friends have also left L.A. in the past few years (one just the other week). But I still have close friends in the city, and I will miss them dearly. The good news is a few have promised to visit, and now with social media and Skype, it’s not as difficult to keep in touch. But still.
No list would be complete without mentioning the weather, which is so consistently sunny and pleasant that it’s almost the only thing you can count on in L.A. (other than the traffic). As a friend recently told me, “There is more to life than sunshine.” She’s right. But when I’m shoveling snow in sub-zero degrees I can almost guarantee I’ll be thinking of balmy L.A.
Finally, I will miss my father, who didn’t live in Los Angeles but six hours away. Even though we didn’t see each other more than once or twice a year, it was reassuring knowing he was fairly close. Now, I will be joining my siblings on the east coast.
I’m sure I’ll miss more things and people, but these are the first things that come to mind.
As our former governor cum action hero once famously said, “I’LL BE BACK.”
After three weeks of packing, sorting, moving and saying goodbye, Ruby and I are FINALLY on the road. The last time I moved across country was exactly 19 years ago (August 1995). I remember it being hectic, but not quite as massive as this current move from Los Angeles to upstate New York. This moving process has been nothing short of revelatory.
In sorting through journals, letters, cards and photos (many of which pre-date my move to Los Angeles), I revisited past loves, relationships, friendships, as well as periods of grief, mourning, anticipation, travel, professional highs and lows, new beginnings, family milestones and family strife. Some of my friends suggested getting rid of these mementos. “Who needs them? They’re your past! You’re embracing your future!” Another friend reminded me, “There is only now.”
I did throw out a lot, but none of the journals and only a fraction of the letters, cards and photos. As a writer, especially one attempting to write a memoir, I feel like these touchstones are important, like little flash cards of life. This is when you did this. This is how you felt about that. This person loved/hurt/confused/helped you. When I get to NY, I plan to organize some of these items into chronological order. This way I can easily access my original recollections of specific time periods, people and events.
Other things I kept: favorite books, artwork, coffee mugs, office supplies, paperweights, notebooks, DVDs and clothing. I also kept several items of Kaz’s. Some things I plan to give to his family. Other things I plan to hold onto as long as it feels right.
I’m proud to say that I got rid of much, much more — over half of my belongings. Whatever I couldn’t sell, I either donated to a local church or threw down the trash shoot. It felt like a great purge.
Not ironically, within an hour of driving out of Los Angeles I started experiencing body aches, exhaustion, fever and nausea. Was it psychosomatic or something more serious? “Patient checked for Ebola in Sacramento!” a friend texted me. I told myself it was food poisoning. In any case, I couldn’t keep driving. I pulled over in Lost Hills, a tiny, dusty town off the 5 Freeway, and checked into a Motel 6. I slept for 14 hours, waking only once to walk Ruby and puke my guts out.
That was the day before yesterday. I’m feeling better now, and currently in San Francisco visiting my father for his 85th birthday. The road trip officially begins when we leave here this weekend.
I decided to take the Northern route: Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York. I’ll be visiting Redwood National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Badlands National Park, Mt. Rushmore, and many more places. If you have any other suggestions, please chime in. I’ll be blogging the entire trip, and meeting some bloggers along the way.
One more update: the Vegas production gig has been postponed (for the third time). I’m not going to mention it again until they send me a ticket. 🙂
I’m trying to figure out which route to take on the cross-country trip in August. There are so many sights I’d like to see. On the Southern route, I’d love to swing through the Grand Canyon (which I’ve seen once before) and Monument Valley in Arizona, White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, Austin, TX, New Orleans, and take a river tour on the Mississippi (if they allow dogs). I have friends in Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida. On the Northern Route, I’d love to see Yosemite National Park, visit friends in Southern Oregon, maybe see Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. I also have friends in Minnesota, Chicago, and Pittsburgh.
The move is probably going to be temporary, so I’ll be driving there and back (with several months in between). I would love to meet some fellow bloggers along the way if possible. Would you be interested in meeting me and Ruby? I know that DSWidow is in Wisconsin, LB is in Virginia, and Caitlin Kelly is in New York. Where are the rest of you? Not asking for street addresses, just city and/or state. If you’re not in the U.S., I’d still love to know where you are, but I won’t be able to meet you on the road trip. 🙂
Have you ever driven across the U.S.? Would you recommend I see any particular town or sight?
This is a great big country! I can’t wait to see more of it, and meet some of you.
I don’t know how to say this in a non-shocking way, so I’m just going to say it. I’ve given notice at my job. Those of you who’ve been following the blog for a while, or know me in ‘real’ life, shouldn’t be completely surprised. I have wanted to do this – been talking and writing about doing this – for years. It was only a question of when. Now, that question is answered. My last day at work will be July 3. (Yes, I timed it to coincide with Independence Day.)
Remember when I wrote about my rural fantasy? Well, I’m finally doing it. After I leave the job, I’ll spend a few weeks preparing to leave Los Angeles, then driving across country with Ruby to upstate New York (Northern Catskills). I plan to arrive in late August.
This move is not forever, but for now. There’s a good chance I could wind up back in California. I just don’t know right now. In fact, there are a lot of unknowns.
For one, I’ve never actually been to the Catskills. I’ve heard it described and seen pictures of the area and apartment I’m going to be renting. I know it’s rural, beautiful and conservative. I could go and check it out first, but I don’t want to spend the money, time and energy. I’d rather just go.
I also don’t know anyone in the Catskills except for the woman who’s renting me the apartment (she’s a friend of the family). When I moved to Los Angeles, I didn’t know anyone and had never been here before either. I drove out here from Philadelphia alone with a 10-day old license because I had just learned how to drive. Granted, I was heading to film school, but I didn’t know a single person or street when I arrived exactly 19 years ago.
Can you imagine trying to navigate all of this without GPS?
One of the bigger unknowns is how I’m going to make money. I can’t rely on finding work locally, so will have to work from home, or in nearby cities like Albany or Hudson. I do have some savings and a rough plan for work, but nothing set in stone yet (more about this in another post).
Lastly, the closest I’ve come to the kind of rural environment and brutal winters they have in the Catskills is the month I spent in Vermont last year. I suspect that where I’m going to be is even more rural and more brutally cold, so this is another obstacle to overcome. The good news is I’ll have wi-fi, my car and my dog. Also, if/when I get completely stir crazy, NYC is three hours away.
I know that a few people are scared for me, and I understand. It IS scary, and I’m not going to say I have all the answers right now because I don’t. All I can say is that I’m following an instinct I’ve had for a long time. My heart has been yearning for a change and, for better or worse, I’ve decided to give my heart what it wants. I’m doing it now because life is short, and there is no perfect time. I also don’t want to move in the winter, nor do I want to wait another year.
A friend recently told me, “Being compulsive is one of your best and worst traits.” Yes, and once I put my mind to something, come Hell or high water, I get it done. Of course, now I have a million and one things to get done. But I’m ready. To coin one of my favorite phrases, it’s “balls to the wall” time. 🙂
It’s been a while. I won’t use the excuse that I’ve been busy because you’re all busy too and keep blogging. I will say that I took a freelance writing seminar in late March that sort of rocked my world, in a good way. In no particular order, these are some changes I’ve made in the past six weeks since the seminar (and last blog post):
I now wake up at 6:00 or 5:30 a.m. and write until 7:00 a.m, every week day. I don’t always write, sometimes I just stare at the computer and think about writing. But things I definitely do NOT do are: 1) check my email or get on the internet, 2) clean the apartment, 3) pay bills or do anything administrative, 4) wash the dishes, 5) check my phone. This time in the morning is my sacred hour, when everyone, including the dog, is asleep and quiet. I love it.
Another change is that I no longer sleep with the phone (and alarm clock) next to my bed. The phone sleeps in the kitchen, so when the alarm goes off at dawn, I have to get out of bed to turn it off. There have been a few mornings when I’ve stumbled back to bed. But after staring at the ceiling for a few minutes, I got up to write.
Besides more/better writing time, I naturally wake up earlier now, even on days off. I’m more punctual to work. I feel more satisfied with my day because, even if I get nothing else creative done, at least I’ve had this hour. I watch less television and go out less during the week. On more than one occasion I’ve used “I have to be in bed by a certain hour” as a reason to decline evening invitations.
At the writing seminar, I was asked to choose “a personal experiment I’d like to try for 30 to 365 days.” I chose not drinking, not spending money, and not over-eating.The day after the seminar, I quit drinking alcohol.
I honestly didn’t know if I could do it. I’d been drinking either a few beers or half a bottle of wine almost every night. I’m not exagerating when I say that not having alcohol in the house used to make me antsy. The thought of not drinking really scared me, and the first week was tough. Tougher still are social engagements like going out to dinner or a party. The thought of going to brunch this weekend and not having a mimosa makes me sad. I miss drinking socially more than anything. On the other hand, I like being more present and less groggy. I think it’s made waking up early a little easier. Originally, I’d given myself a 30 day limit. It’s been 37 days now. I’m not saying I’ll never drink again, but for now, I’m going to keep refraining.
As an experiment, I also decided to cut out sugar, and more recently wheat, dairy and caffeine. Again, very scary (especially caffeine). I’m now eating mostly protein, vegetables, fruits and nuts and drinking water or tea, occasionally a non-alcoholic beer. Like alcohol, I thought I couldn’t live without caffeine, but the weird thing is I actually feel more awake and energetic. I’m also less moody. I’ve heard people say these things before, but when you start feeling them yourself, it’s a bit of a revelation.
Oh, one last benefit of not drinking alcohol: it saves money.
New Social Media
Not as important as routine and diet, but still relevant – I’ve started to be more active on Twitter (@nivaladiva) and less active on Facebook. Twitter was a challenge to figure out (I’m still figuring it out), but what I’ve learned so far is that engagement is key, as is providing information and not being afraid to voice your opinions about things that matter to you. You can learn a lot from the news feeds and other people, including job opportunities. I know people who have landed jobs that they learned about on Twitter. It’s not all about following celebrities.
I bought a Suzuki s40 Boulevard motorcycle. More on that in another post.
No, I haven’t quit my job (yet), but I am revving up the freelance writing. Just this week I sent out my very first pitches to two publications. Working on the next set of pitches now. Feels both scary and exciting to put myself out there, but I’m determined to forge a writing career in more markets than just film & television.
I took a few days off from work around Easter to visit family in the Bay area. Good practice for road tripping with Ruby at a later date. One thing about traveling with a dog, you end up spending a lot more time outdoors.
Not sure what this is, but looks like a huge “N” to me (San Francisco, CA)
Ruby meeting the Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco, CA)
Meadow in Redwood Regional Park (Oakland, CA)
Redwoods in Redwood Regional Park (Oakland, CA)
Bench in Cesar Chavez Park (Berkeley, CA)
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature. Life is a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller
Lately, the activity that brings me the most joy is hiking with my dog Ruby. During the week we spend so much time cooped up in the car/office/daycare/apartment, that on the weekends we both crave the freedom of being outside. The goal is to eventually hike every other day, but for the moment, we are weekend warriors. We do a regular Sunday morning hike with a friend, and, on Saturdays, we venture out just the two of us.
I have many friends who won’t let their dog off the leash except in an enclosed area like a yard or dog park, the fear being that the dog will run off – either after another animal (like a squirrel), into a nearby road, or just run off out of curiosity and end up lost. People also worry about their dogs reacting to other dogs and people. All valid concerns.
If you want to hike with your dog off-leash, your dog MUST:
– be friendly with other dogs and people
– be obedient (i.e. come, sit, stay and leave it on command)
– be in good physical shape
If any of these things is a concern, then hiking off-leash might not be for you, at least not right away. You can socialize your dog to be friendly with other dogs and people, and train it to be obedient. You can also put your dog on a diet and condition it to take longer walks, unless it’s too old or sick.
If these things are NOT an issue, then I highly recommend taking your dog out on the trail when and wherever possible. Not only is it great exercise for both of you, but it’s also a wonderful way to bond with your canine companion.
Someone once told me that hiking off-leash enforces the “pack leader” mentality, which I can’t prove but tend to believe. When Ruby is on the leash, she instinctively wants to go ahead. But when she is off-leash, she walks right beside me or right behind me, like my shadow.
She also runs off at intervals, but she A) regularly stops to wait for me, B) stops the minute I call her name, and C) always comes back when I tell her to. More often than not, she comes back on her own after she’s finished exploring.
Other things to keep in mind when hiking with a dog, on or off the leash:
– Bring plenty of water for both you and the dog. I once encountered a man carrying his dog down the trail because it was dehydrated (and it was a hot summer day). I offered him some of our water, and they made it the rest of the way down okay. It goes without saying, don’t hike in the hottest hours.
– Bring an extra leash. I once lost Ruby’s leash on a trail and had to face the prospect of carrying her several blocks from the trail’s entrance to my car. Luckily, another hiker offered to double leash her dog with Ruby, so for a few blocks the dogs walked side by side.
– If it’s a long hike, I recommend bringing snacks but only giving them once you stop for a rest. I once gave Ruby treats while we were actually hiking, and she threw them all up when we reached the summit. Other dogs also kept coming over to us because they smelled the treats in my hand. What works better is keeping treats in your bag until you get to the summit (or the mid-way point). I don’t bring treats on every hike, but definitely the long/difficult ones.
– After a hike, check your dog’s body for ticks, cuts or burrs. A few weeks ago, Ruby got a large, bloody scratch on her arm and a tick on her left paw from running through brush. I removed the tick in the car, and treated her scratch when we got home.
– Bring a first aid kit. I actually need to get one of my own. Right now, our Sunday hiking friend always brings one.
– Bring poop bags. I pick up after Ruby even when we’re out in the wilderness, and yes, have trekked for over an hour with her stinky poop in my backpack. I had never been so happy to see a trashcan.
– Have a charged phone and your vet’s number in it, just in case something happens.
– Be aware of the local wild life (snakes, bears, mountain lions, coyotes, hawks, etc.). Personally, I wouldn’t hike off-leash with a small dog in Los Angeles. I’ve heard of hawks snatching Chihuahuas right in front of their owners (!). We’ve also encountered horses on the trail, and I immediately put Ruby on the leash. When the rider said his horses don’t mind dogs, I let her off. Both the horses and Ruby were totally calm.
When in doubt, approach hiking with your dog like you would hiking with a child. You want to balance the fun with common sense. Your dog will thank you for the fresh air, the exercise and especially the freedom to just be a dog and sniff, run and play to its heart’s content. She will also sleep for the rest of the day. 🙂
Here are some other sites with advice on hiking with dogs:
When I first arrived in Los Angeles, an eager 24 year old film student, my life fantasy was to make meaningful, financially successful movies that would be nominated for awards and win little gold statues. (Yes, I used to fantasize about my acceptance speech. Every film student does.) These days I have a different fantasy.
I yearn for a life with fewer distractions and more opportunities to dig deep into the things most important to me, and I also yearn for a life with a lower cost of living and a lower need to earn a mountain of money.A rural environment provides all of these things. – http://www.thesimpledollar.com/why-i-prefer-living-rural/
Ever since living/writing in Vermont in January of this year, I have fantasized about moving there. If not Vermont, then some other rural environment where there are seasons, real people, animals, open skies, long stretches of road without stop signs or lights, less traffic, and less noise. And not forever, for a year or so. Enough time to detox from 18+ years of living/working in Hollywood, finish writing my memoir (and a couple of other projects), and reacquaint myself with Me.
It could actually happen.
A friend has a spacious, sun-filled, second floor apartment for rent in a big, old house located in the Catskills area of New York State. Two bedrooms, large eat-in kitchen, plus a living room. There’s so much space, I could rollerblade from room to room. There’s so much light, there might be too much light (a problem I’d love to have). It’s 30 minutes from Albany, and 2.5 hours from New York City.
The rent is cheaper than what I pay now and includes utilities. Forget about the cost of moving there for a moment. The cost of living there would be far cheaper than living in Los Angeles. Plus my friend/possible landlord lives in NYC and only comes to the house every other weekend. So most of the time I would be alone (with my dog), ideal for someone who wants to write all day.
So what’s stopping me? Well, money and fear.
The whole point of the move would be to focus on writing, not to spend ten hours of my day in some office, or in my car commuting to work. If I were to take a year off to go live in a small town, I would live off savings for a few months, then look for part-time work. How realistic this is, I’m not sure. When I was young, I used to do all kinds of work – shovel snow, clean yards, babysit. I even worked as a horse carriage driver, where I had to clean and tack up my horse and carriage before and after a 10-hour shift. (You know you’ve been working an office job for too long when you start reminiscing about shovelling horse manure.)
Horse and Carriage [queenvictoria.com]
But I wouldn’t mind doing something completely different than what I do now (executive legal assistant), or what I’ve done in the past (production manager, assistant editor, writer/director/producer). Maybe I could be a part-time farmhand, helping to pick crops and/or take care of animals. Or I could run the cash register at a local coffee shop. Or help paint a barn. Or find a way to make money writing (gasp!).
Then there is Fear. What if I get there and hate it? What if I get cabin fever and go crazy? What if the house is haunted? What if I don’t like being alone all the time? What if I still find it hard to concentrate because now it’s too quiet? What if I can’t find any work anywhere, use up all my savings and end up homeless in the Catskills?!
I recently shared my rural fantasy with a friend who’s leaving Los Angeles soon for her hometown of Pittsburgh (for the much more noble reason of being closer to her ailing parents). She thought it sounded like a great idea, “As long as you’re not running away from something. Because if you are, whatever it is will be coming with you.”
Wise words. Obviously, if I were to really do this, I would have to think it through very carefully and come up with a ship-tight plan. Right now I’m still in fantasy mode.
You don’t get suspicious when people are nice to you. People say hello and “how are you” and generally mean it. You go to the grocery store and have a decent chance of seeing at least someone you know. Your doctor actually calls you back the same day you call with a concern. People don’t size you up constantly based upon your job, social status or income. Volunteer work isn’t something you do for your resume. You feel a part of a genuine community, not just one peon out of millions.
Jessica’s reason #3 to move to the city:
The entire world is (almost) on your doorstep. I don’t know about you, but it would be a shame to die on the way to the hospital – or give birth on the side of a road. Which probably won’t happen in the city. You can order anything from online stores and – miracle! – receive it the next day. Museums, galleries, libraries are easily accessible, a lot of them free. And food: enough said. Who likes to have the choice only between a grim pub serving dismal burgers or fish-and-chips and the local Subway branch at the back of a derelict mall?
Have you ever moved from city to country or vice-versa?
It’s been a busy couple of weeks, including a motorcycle ride with my old Harley Davidson instructor and a trip to New York City for the Labor Day weekend. I’ll replay the highlights here as best I can.
My first moto ride, almost a year ago
To the right is a pic of the first time I rode a motorcycle on my own (not in class), in October 2012. Since it had been so long, I was pretty nervous about getting back on two wheels.
Turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Everything came back to me easily, and I remembered why I love this new sport. Riding a motorcycle makes me feel more alive than anything else. It is definitely scary, but in a way that exhilerates and keeps me on my toes. It reminds me of Kaz in a visceral way, the closest I can get to his tough but sweet energy. I used to love sitting behind him on a motorcycle. It boosts my energy and confidence through the roof. I am now ready for the next step – buying my first bike. More about that later.
After that, I went to New York for the weekend, leaving Ruby behind for the first time and miraculously not feeling guilty about it. She stayed with a friend whom she loves, near the beach, in a house with a yard and another older, female pit. No classes, no training, she could sleep and/or play all day. She was on vacation too! And frankly, it was nice to get a break and another reminder: I am more than just this dog’s mom.
To celebrate my first few moments of freedom, I had dinner at Encounter, the spaceship-shaped restaurant at Los Angeles International Airport. If you ever have some time to kill at LAX, this place is worth checking out just for fun.
You can watch planes take off from inside
I flew the red-eye, so the next morning I saw my father, who had driven across country from San Francisco to NYC in his now infamous, new Porsche. At first, he said he wouldn’t let me drive it because he didn’t trust my driving. I was actually prepared to accept this, but about half an hour later, he changed his mind!
Words cannot express how nervous I was behind the wheel. Not only is this car less than a month old and (as I was reminded repeatedly) worth A LOT of money, but it’s also REALLY powerful and loud. I don’t think I ever got over 30 miles per hour. But what a smooth ride. I definitely have to go visit him in SF soon to take it for another spin. Preferrably on a highway.
Once my father left, I spent the rest of the time with my sister and her family in and around Brooklyn. I was there for the re-opening block party of Sunny’s Bar, a dive bar in Red Hook that dates all the way back to the 1890s and was almost destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
I saw a performance by Syrian musician Omar Souleyman in Pioneer Works, a large gallery space in Red Hook owned by artist Dustin Yellin. I haven’t danced that hard in a long time, and am definitely now a fan of Mr. Souleyman’s.
Omar Souleyman in Central Park, 2011 [photo source: David Andrako]
Below are two pics I took of the large Dustin Yellin piece that was standing in the lobby of Pioneer Works. From the front it looks like a 3D statue, but from the side you see that it’s actually a multi-layered glass structure.
Dustin Yellin piece (front view)
Dustin Yellin piece (side view)
I had drinks in the Red Hook Bait &Tackle bar, which looks like this:
And brunch with fellow blogger Caitlin Kelly of Broadside at the Spice Market in Manhattan, which looks like this:
I was both excited and nervous to meet Caitlin. A) I’d never left the matrix to meet another blogger before, and had no idea what to expect from a real, live person. B) Right before our scheduled time, I discovered that I’d left both my ATM card and my driver’s license in a different purse. Yes, I had driven to the meeting, in my brother-in-law’s car.
Again, turns out I had nothing to fear. Caitlin and I ate, drank and gabbed for a total of 8 hours; the one credit card I did have covered my share of the bill; and I didn’t get stopped by the police on the way home. Very lucky indeed, since I ended up taking pictures on and around the Brooklyn Bridge.
One screening of The Butler and marathon session of Project Runway (all of Season 7) with my 11 year old niece later, and it was time to go home.
Unfortunately, that IS where the excitetment ends, as Los Angeles does in no way compare to NYC. Still, it’s good to be back with Ruby and back in our routine. Here’s hoping I can ride the momentum of this trip for another few months, or at least until I get a motorcycle.
[in response to the Daily Post: Tell us about the last thing you got excited about — butterflies-in-the-stomach, giggling, can’t-wait excited]
What was the last thing that got you can’t-wait excited?