Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Category: Eating

Joshua Tree Overnight (Part 1)

A few weeks ago we took a few of H’s students out to Joshua Tree for an overnight trip: camping, rock climbing and hiking. The night before was Halloween, where it poured rain and we slept maybe 4 hours. The lack of sleep was no fun, but I knew the rain was going to make the drive to the desert a gorgeous sight.

I was right.

The guides we hired decided we would climb the solarium at Joshua Tree. Most of the kids had never rock climbed before and the weather report that morning was saying cold winds – the solarium is one of the warmer areas to climb at JTree.

The guides spent a lot of time talking about the mechanics of climbing, even demoing a climb, and then got the students up and going.

The routes they set were easy so the kids were having a good time. If they weren’t climbing they were talking, taking photos and eating snacks.

I was able to get on a 5.9+ / 5.10 route later that afternoon. It was really difficult. It took me quite a while, and while the guide belaying me wasn’t the best coach, another guide encouraged me from below, and I made it. There is nothing more thrilling than reaching the top a climb you’ve never done before – and this was a difficulty I’d never climbed outside. Woo.

After climbing all day, we all piled into the 12-person van and H’s car and drove out of the park into town. We went to Pie for the People where H and I split a Caesar salad and sausage, mushroom and ricotta calzone. (This is the same place we ate after our climbing day Memorial Day weekend, which I still have to blog about…) The students all sat at a table together, eating and talking, and being the purely young and self-sustaining people teenagers are. And from the pizza place we were given this awesome sunset.

And that’s just part 1.

Day Alone – Last Bookstore

Since yesterday was Veterans Day (and work was closed) I took Monday off as well, creating a 4-day weekend (after 4 days of travel for work). It was the perfect way to get grounded.

I did a HITT exercise, gave the dog a bath and then ran 2m with him. I met a friend pretty early for breakfast at Paper or Plastik Cafe (where the “no laptop” pic was taken above – Hi Julie!) and then picked up a weaving Jessica O’Brien made and gave away for free via Twitter (heart the Internet).

Some time that morning I thought about The Last Bookstore in downtown LA – I’d never been. Having the entire day to myself seemed like a good enough reason to go.

The drive downtown was pretty easy with the help of GPS and I found a metered spot across the street. #bonus

Inside it is all sorts of used-bookstore-goodness. There are shelves and shelves of books, grouped in the usual categories, but the endcaps had random assortments of new and used volumes. The tables in the middle held art or coffee table books – the themes not entirely obvious at first glance. There were a bunch of very worn, very old chairs strewn around, some with people lounging and reading. And there were PA speakers set up, with a random playlist going, though I caught some Conor Oberst, which made me super happy.

I walked around for over an hour, collecting a few books that I thought were worth owning. And by worth owning, I mean, books whose pages I may want to write in the margins of. I love reading but I don’t buy books often anymore. In the interest of more open space in our apartment, I gave away most of my books in the past few years – getting our living room down to one bookcase and the bookcase upstairs holding other things besides just books.

But that dry, paper smell of stacks of books? That never gets old.

I drove from the bookstore to a Starbucks. I tried writing some, but my brain felt so overwhelmed with ideas, it seemed blank. After an hour of scratching around, I left to pick up groceries.

At home I unpacked the groceries, biked the dog around the neighborhood, cooked Mexican food for dinner, and pulled the 9 of Cups from the tarot deck: It is a sign to enjoy the abundance of life and to feel each of your emotions as if you had never felt any of them before. See the perfection all around you.

Yes, another day alone. Just like my day in Pasadena last month, it was a much needed luxury of spending time with myself, and creating space to just be.

Perfection.

Day Alone In Pasadena

Monday I had the day off and decided to go to Pasadena alone.

I’m not sure why I wanted to visit Old Pasadena, but the idea popped into my head and off I went. Well, first I had to pick up and return tables from a work event. And I had to drive kind of far in mid-day traffic.

But once I found parking, I was off.

To lots of walking around.

I started near a park and wove my way up past Castle Green and then on to the main drag of shops. I’m always surprised how much of a place is generic – the same stores as anywhere else in the country.

It was hot out, the sun beating down on me as I walked with a fabric backpack on. I stopped at The Juice Farm. Sipped on this deliciousness while I walked around The Paper Source store and past a bunch of other places.

I love the old buildings – the brick and fired stone.

My original plan was to go to Intelligentsia (how cooooool does this place look??) and write and read in the cool darkness of a hipster coffee shop while sipping a fancy latte.

But the public restroom gods conspired against me. Or, I guess, the lack of public restroom gods… because it was hot out I drank a lot of water, then I had that smoothie, and then I needed to pee. Really badly, but there didn’t seem to be a public restroom anywhere. I even walked all the way down back down to the park to try some port-a-potties I saw and they were locked. LOCKED. Port-a-potties with big locks on them. WTF.

I wanted to spend my lunch money somewhere I’ve never been, but the need for a bathroom became the priority. When I did a loop through the coffee shop I didn’t see a restroom at all. I wasn’t that hungry yet so I felt frustrated – here I was trekking all over, trying to figure out where to eat lunch just to use a restroom.

Did I mention it was very, very hot?

With time running out, I stepped into Crepes de Paris, saw they had a restroom, and ordered food immediately. It was pretty much empty, so I had my pick of tables. Ate my egg and cheese crepe with a latte that was unbelievably strong and not worth drinking. I read a book and sat in the quiet.

It was magnificent.

I don’t know why people feel uncomfortable eating alone in restaurants. I find it relaxing and super enjoyable. I read more of The Highly Sensitive Person, stared into space, jotted some notes in my journal and enjoyed the a/c when the main door to the patio wasn’t open.

It started to get late and I was worried about traffic (was about 25m away from home, but in LA that could mean a 2hr drive). And I had one more stop to make…

Vroman’s Bookstore.

Come on, you didn’t think my day alone would include walking, eating alone, coffee, reading and writing and not include a stop in a bookstore??

I kind of wish I’d gone here first – I could’ve just eaten in their bakery and I found a little mall on my walk over that had public restrooms. At least now I know for the next time I visit where everything is.

The store was large and pretty noisy. People talking, telephones ringing and kids roaming around. I felt jittery and uncomfortable from the latte and the heat. I was pretty tired by this point and had a mile walk back to my car.

But I tried to enjoy wandering the stacks, reading the little tags that employees had written recommendations on, and basically satiating myself with books. I was overwhelmed and inspired – I wanted to go home and read and write forever. There were so many books, how could I even get to a small portion of them in my lifetime? I thought about taking notes on the ones that jumped out at me, creating a To Read Later list. I wanted to buy a few but also wanted to save money. It made me miss tangible, paper books in a really deep way.

On the walk back to the car, I enjoyed the late afternoon light, even though it was still hot out. I figured out where my car was and cranked the a/c while I drove home. I didn’t hit any traffic and the rest of the evening was relaxing.

After the chaos last week, I’m really glad I had a chance to travel alone for a day, even though I didn’t leave LA.

When I first read Mae Cheverette’s blog, and how she travels alone, I was so intrigued, her posts pulled at my heartstrings. Then there’s The Noisy Plume’s travels and my own day trip around SF 2 years ago now that I remember so fondly, and the deep pull Alaska had on me.

There is something about being in a new place, walking a lot, observing and experiencing without really having to talk to anyone, that opens my heart up. It feels so luxurious, so new, so silly that it can have that affect on me, but it does. It also feels selfish, but in a really indulgent, put-myself-first way. It’s exactly what Julia Cameron calls an artist date – “assigned play”.

I needed this break from routine, from my neighborhood and from the emotional turmoil I felt all last week. I’m so glad I went. xo

I See Your Dunkin’ Donuts and I Raise You Rita’s

Holy heatwave, Los Angeles.

We’ve officially turned our a/c on and let it run all night while we slept, then all day for the dog while we worked. It hit a record high of 106* F in the Valley today. It is disgusting.

You would see my tears if they weren’t evaporating immediately into the incinerating air.

Recently, Los Angeles got its first Dunkin’ Donuts. Being originally from the east coast, this is a pretty big deal in our house. We’re looking forward to getting our iced coffees and breakfast sandwiches with a side of nostalgia, but the line has been wrapped around the block since it opened. Um, it’s good, but not that good.

And yes, working-class iced coffees the size of your head are a hot commodity during a heatwave, but there is no limit to my excitement for the fact that we now have Rita’s.

Which means I get to eat GELATI!

Let me explain

Take mango water ice, which is the consistency of a thick slurpee or a very melty italian ice and top it with a swirl of thick, delicious vanilla custard to create the gelati. My preferred method is to eat it with a spoon, taking a bit of custard and a bit of ice in each bite.

So if you’re trying to stay cool, LA, go do yourself a favor and get to Rita’s. But don’t worry about rushing there, we probably have another 4 weeks of this hell. #toohotforpumpkinanything

Fire Crags & Tri-Tip

During the wedding weekend, we had all Saturday free. H thought it would be cool to meet his colleague B for a climb in Santa Barbara. B suggested Fire Crags on Painted Cave road off Highway 154. We looked it up online and gave a thumbs up via text. Our plans were set.

We arrived around 9:30am with the sun was already blazing, flies buzzing around our ears. We parked the two cars in a pull off on Painted Cave road and got out to look for the trail. We couldn’t find it at first and thought maybe it was further back down the road. Back into the car, and rolling slowing down the steep road, we looked for a possible “hairpin turn with a pull-out on the left”.

We saw another dirt spot and parked again. H and B headed down what looked like a trail going west to see if they could find the actual rock wall.

After about 5 min of hiking, they came to a crag with a view, and bolts in the face. This was the spot we were hoping for. I could see them off in the distance from where I waited near the road (in the shade, shaking my hair to deter the flies). They came back out, we parked both cars, and started unpacking the gear to carry back down the trail.

The trail was pretty clear, if narrow, and we made it back to the crag in good time. The trail leads to the top of the routes and then you hike down a bit more to drop your stuff and climb. You can set some of the routes from the top, no lead climbing needed.

B set the ropes, explaining his plans to H. Recently, H bought us a rope, so we’re starting to learn how to set up our own top-rope climbs. But this is nothing to mess around with – it’ll take time and practice to learn and stay safe.

Luckily, the rock face blocked the sun. We climbed for over 2 hrs before the shade disappeared. It was a gorgeous, hot day to be out in the woods climbing rock.

The climbs were challenging, especially for me. The sandstone wasn’t as sticky as other rock I’ve climbed. The height of the route wasn’t too bad – all of them are pretty short (maybe 50 feet or less). But the view out towards the ocean was disorienting. It made me feel like I was up much higher than I actually was.

The heat + lack of sleep + poor nutrition (aka not enough food / water and drinking the night before) pretty much ruined my endurance. It took me a long while to get up the first route, which was the easiest to climb for the day. At the top I was shaking so badly, either from exhaustion or adrenaline (from the perceived height) that I couldn’t walk backwards off the ledge to come back down. It took me a few minutes to be calm myself enough to be lowered.

H had a better time of the routes, though he also felt pretty exhausted. With more experience B was able to climb the routes with minimal struggle.

I did pull a cool move on one route, trying to get up and out of a “cave”. I ended up working this problem for a bit, trying different combinations of hand-holds and foot positions. This was super fun, and the most I’ve worked a route in an outdoor setting.

Climbing is a physical sport, but I love the mental challenge of it – being on a route and not knowing where your next move is going to be. In the gym I tend to climb routes I understand before I’m even on them, but when you’re outside, you don’t know until you’re up there.

Two days before, we climbed Point Dume, and we were pretty spoiled to climb outside 2x in one week.

Being out in the woods, working my body and sweating in the sun, is such an amazing break from the day-to-day drama of work and household crap. Even though we were exhausted afterwards, it was so worth going.

We topped the afternoon off with trip-tip sandwiches at the iconic Cold Spring Tavern, just down the road from Fire Crags. Talk about a time warp. Established in 1865 during the stagecoach era, the property has a few buildings, all of which look like they’ve never been renovated. There was no a/c in the bar, where we ordered from a few of the beers on tap, and received a ticket for the trip-tip, which we then took to a BBQ outside. It’s popular in the central coast to have salsa on your tri-tip – this is the Santa Maria-style BBQ.

We ate our sandwiches in the shade, at a picnic table, with cold beer in plastic cups, and a blues band of 50-something year old men playing out front. Motorcycles lined the dirt parking area and kids ran around parents eating at their own tables.

It felt like a mini-vacation and the perfect way to break up the more social, busy parts of the wedding weekend. H drove us back down Hwy 154, and we switched drivers at the 101 north on-ramp. He slept while I drove us back up to Santa Margarita, listening to the college radio station play The Weepies and Joan Baez.

Piqued

This week was rough. Some combination of exhaustion + pms + work events left me napping almost every afternoon, relying on friends, and in tears a few of the days. (Yes, even though I don’t feel like I’m being punched anymore, I still have bad days). Still, I stumbled upon some cool, share-worthy items out in the internets, and I post them below for your reading pleasure.

Happy solstice!

Each body mitten is hand-knitted by celibate Virgos using hypo-allergenic squirrel wool inter-woven with strands of unicorn hair that were marinated in lavender oil infused with emerald powder.

Hahaha. So funny.

You may know Mercury is retrograde (and if you have felt completely crazy the past 2+ weeks, this could be why). The Mercury Retrograde Body Mitten could be just the answer! This tongue-in-cheek post went viral and the author writes a response to its popularity here – Smitten By The Mitten.

I don’t watch The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon but H found the Ragtime Gals, Jimmy’s barbershop quartet segments (I know, I know. I’m always late to the barbershop quartet parties) and I about died laughing. I love that Fallon loves music and brings it into so much of his comedy. Watch him sing Talk Dirty To Me with Kevin Spacey. His show also features these epic lip-syncing battles – see Emma Stone win here.

I love the Internet, and this link is exactly why – Know Your Meme, y’know, just in case you didn’t.

There’s this literary map to end all literary maps. And a guide to Literary L.A.

Our favorite diner, Pepy’s Galley, is closing. ::hysterically crying emoji:: They’re being kicked out by new building owners who plan to renovate the attached bowling alley – but all our neighborhood sees is the loss of a 40 year old west LA landmark. The (breakfast) food is delish, it’s the best coffee I’ve ever had, the staff is speedy and it’s cash only. H and I love to eat at the bar and watch the bustle of the back counter… it’s part of our weekending, where we usually get into our longest conversation-sans-electronics in a week. While there are petitions to save or relocate the restaurant, it doesn’t look good.

I listened to The Lively Show podcast featuring Esme Wang while I walked 3m around Boston last week. I love Esme’s idea of radical sincerity, and even though I read her book, it wasn’t until I heard her speak about it on the podcast that I truly understood what she meant. Radical sincerity is NOT radical honesty, but instead “a conversation about authenticity and vulnerability”. Take a listen and/or peruse around her site – it’s gorgeous & full of elegant, powerful writing.

And, even though I am sooooooo not following the World Cup, this longer read by my Stef’s boyfriend, Carlos Foglia, delighted me. My Father is My Most Unforgettable World Cup Memory.

Visit my other Piqued posts here.

Remnants

It’s been a busy busy busy two weeks.

Tonight is the last night of work for both H and I for a while. Of course, I fly to Boston Saturday, but at least after tonight we get to settled back into a somewhat normal schedule for the week.

Noticing that rock climbing gives purpose to things like drinking juice (above), getting enough water, making healthy food choices and strength training. It even makes ab workouts worthwhile. Climbing for smaller ladies like myself requires mucho core strength. I’m getting stronger and that’s awesome.

I spent last week at the CaseSMC and yesterday at the YouTube Space LA. I am bursting with ideas. With all of the events I’m running and attending, there doesn’t seem enough time to think though. Hoping to get some time soon to jot down everything and sketch out plans.

I love feeling like this. Energized, excited, with objectives to focus on. It seems like a waste to go spend the evening hosting an event, but that’s what’s on my schedule.

Hope your weekend is feeling lovely. Feel free to share what you’re up to in the comments. xo

 

Sundays Are For (Week 31)

 

Yesterday, I told H that, even if he hasn’t meant to do it on purpose, I see that he’s making our home life (and his personal time) as much of a priority as he can. Work is crazy this year for him – he’s teaching multiple classes, one of which he’s never taught before. He’s planning on the fly, during prep periods and before school starts, and also still attending grad school classes one night a week. While he’s super Type-B, you could not find a more diligent and organized teacher, so this whole schedule is a major upheaval for him.

I see his exhaustion and his determination to just grade one.more.class… and I’m doing what I can to help. So far, I think this is the best back-to-school transition we’ve had, but that may have more to do with my own self-care and less to do with how it’s really going for H.

But I also think it’s his intention to, as he put it, “have a real life” that is creating a bit of relationship reserve for us to draw on as the busy weekdays go by. Last week he brought the vacuum in to be fixed, helped me clean the apartment and continues to cook a few meals (omelets on the weekends and that delish chicken dinner this evening – above) I appreciate the attention and support, and I make sure to tell him so.

This morning we took the dog down to the beach path, grabbed hot drinks and sat on the sand for a bit. H graded and I journaled. It was H’s idea, and I know it’s because he’s trying to include me in his time, and make sure we’re relaxing some, even though he’s so busy.

H is grading yet another stack of papers with Carter Cash laying in his lap, and I’m here writing to you. I think we plan on splitting a small apple pie and watching some Breaking Bad before an early bedtime. (No BB spoilers, we just started Season 1!)

Hope you had a good weekend and will get some sleep too xo

Steak

 

This is not a great photo, but it captures our oh-so-close success of grilling a good steak. H is getting better and better, though he’ll tell you since we change our approach every single time, there’s no comparing each steak to the next. And I mean, we’ve probably grilled less than 10 in 3 summers. Still – we hardly eat red meat, but being able to grill some makes it so much easier.

These were NY-style strip steaks from Trader Joe’s. I saved half of mine for a salad the next day. Awesomeness.

Checking another item off the Summer Manifesto.

day 9: taste

Missed the opportunity to photograph all I ate today – smoothie, Wahoo’s Fish Taco lunch, Peet’s Coffee and Tea chai latte, a soft pretzel and a coke. Written all down, what a terrible day of eating, but not as bad as the crazy East Coast eating we did on vacation.

I mentioned our love of Wawa but I’m not sure I mentioned that we ate there 3x in 24 hours. A new record perhaps?

Breakfast two times and lunch once. I actually consumed a sausage, egg and cheese on a biscuit – like the big fluffy southern biscuits that you eat with gravy. What a fatty, but so delicious. (It was good I did too because it held me over through our entire 10hr trip home. Also, isn’t it nuts that we can get from a suburb of Philly back to our apartment in Los Angeles in less than 12 hrs?!)

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See all of my August Break 2013 posts here