Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: los angeles

#30daysofdresses – day 7

Or where we finally get to the new Dunkin’ Donuts…

Sunday I woke up and mentioned donuts. H responded with us going to the new (and only) Dunkin’ Donuts in Santa Monica.

Done.

While H waited in the line – out the door and about 20min total – I walked Carter around the block. I decided to wear my new Jimmy Eat World t-shirt from the show the other night and a jean skirt. I know this is technically not a dress, but like I mentioned, the heat is making wearing a dress really unappealing.

The shirt is awesome because it’s navy (my fav), has constellation-like writing (also fav), and it’s of my favorite Jimmy Eat World album.

I never wear this skirt, and wanted to ditch it when Jess and I met up last year. Apparently, every girl should have a jean skirt, especially those that live in sunny SoCal like me. But it always felt like it was riding up and not sitting right.

Solution – tuck in a shirt and wear a belt. Ta-da. Plus the belt and tucked-in action up the put-together-ness action of the outfit, so even though I’m technically just wearing a shorts + t-short combo, I look way more like I care than normal Sunday coffee-run outfits.

 

Winning all around.

With our Dunkin’ Donuts food in hand, we drove down to the beach path above the ocean, found a bench in the shade, and hung out. H was all excited for his fantasy hockey league draft and Carter checked out the squirrels and other dogs. The view was a pristine blue – possibly the only benefit from an LA heat wave.

I can’t wait for it to cool off…

Skirt is Gap, from a long time ago, per usual. Shirt is merch from Jimmy Eat World. Belt is originally from this dress. Flip-flops from Kohl’s.

PS – Happy birthday to my dad!

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#30daysofdresses – day 4

Or the plight of this little black dress…

I’m realizing quickly that 30 days of my own outfits is starting to feel a little… self-indulgent. It would be silly to think that anyone wants to read about dresses when they come from stores like Kohl’s or H&M, or see 30 pictures of me.

I snapped this on Thursday – it was a helluva day at work. I ended up taking the afternoon off because, like all first world white girls, I COULD NOT EVEN.

So the combo of needing a boost of creative time in between meetings, and the self-consciousness of not wanting to post 30 selfies, produced this photo. And I thought about my friend Nina who takes these awesome self-portraits and a whole world of options expanded before me.

Yes – it’s #30daysofdresses – but more importantly, it’s 30 days of sharing my creativity, my story, of me inside and out.

So that’s where I was at when I took this photo.

I’ve owned this dress for a very long time… definitely before I moved to LA.

When I first moved here and started working at my internship, I had a boatload of new business clothes (thanks mom!) from Ann Taylor Loft and was basically terribly overdressed for the occasion. One day, a coworker said “You wear a lot of black” as if this wasn’t a good thing. “Well, I’m from New York,” I said, because in New York everyone wears black (just look at my Google search). It’s classic, powerful and creates a good silhouette. Plus, people are hardworking, driven, serious – any pop of color, like the crazy teals and neons LA-ers wear – could be seen as not taking things seriously enough. 

And who the f-has time to be all bright and happy when it’s 30* outside and you’re working a 10hr day?

But, I digress.

As I shopped for myself and tried the SoCal style on for size, I started pulling navy, instead of black as my base neutral. I didn’t realize this until Jess pointed it out. Awesome. So what do I do with this black dress I didn’t care much about? Jess suggested I keep it, since it was cute, light-weight and versatile.

Then another 18 months went by and I didn’t wear it.

It wasn’t because it didn’t fit right, or it was black, or that I don’t own black boots (working on that).

It was because the last time I wore this dress, I wore it to a funeral.

It was July 2011 and we had plans to be on the east coast for our two engagement parties (long story). One in PA and one in NY. A few days before our departure, we woke up to a slew of calls on H’s cellphone saying that his granddad had passed away overnight.

I don’t remember the actual timeline of things, if we flew in early or traveled back and forth from PA to NY a few times, but it was such a huge blow to H’s mom’s side of the family – completely unexpected.

His grandfather was quiet, but super warm and friendly, and so kind-hearted. He really was the nicest. He always treated me like I was part of the family, long before H and I were engaged.

And this is the dress I wore to his funeral – the only part of which I remember being in a room where people were giving speeches about him – and we were all laughing and crying. There was music. I hung out with H’s little sister who seemed to know that I needed the company more than she needed me – mostly b/c this wasn’t my family. I felt a little out of place. And I just remember, as everyone wrapped up the speeches and went to move on to the restaurant, people picking up purses and organizing carpools, I started to cry. H hugged me and I remember saying into his chest, “It’s just so sad” because it was.

We’d lost a really good person. I could cry writing this.

Some time later, I remember his daughter, H’s aunt, saying that now when she sees monarchs, she thinks it’s her dad visiting her. And our LA neighborhood is full of monarchs, so now I always think of him too. And of course, when I wear this dress.

Dress is Old Navy. Boots are Kohl’s. Necklace is the shape of an arrow.

 

Climbing Stoney Point

This weekend, we spent both Saturday and Sunday at Stoney Point Park. It is as awesome and as ghetto as the reviews online say.

It’s a rock-cropping right along a freeway, with tons of bouldering, rock walls, trails and caves. But it’s also covered in broken glass, dust and spray-paint. H said it was considered the original climbing gym of LA climbers back in the 70s, y’know, before there were actual fancy indoor gyms.

Lately, H is climbing Point Dume once a week and learning to secure his own top ropes. He was excited to climb outdoors this weekend on his own. We went to Stoney Point Saturday on a whim, on what we joked was a recon mission, just to check it out.

It was hot, dusty and busy. We saw a few teams of people climbing and a few single people bouldering. We took Carter with us so he’d have some exercise as we’d been out late the night before and had plans that evening. He was not too pleased with our plan, but it turns out, he’s so adorable, that people are willing to chat with us just to pet our dog. That worked out really well b/c we spoke to two different guides who told us the routes they were on and other info about the walls.

Sunday we got up early, packed up our stuff (new rope, cooler, water, shoes and harnesses) and drove up again. We picked up our friend T who wanted to join.

When we got there, we totally lucked out b/c the main wall we wanted to climb, Mozart’s Wall, had two groups on it, but only 6 people total, 4 of which were just learning to climb outdoors. It was the perfect opportunity for us to practice outside and for H to practice setting top rope anchors.

I was able to climb the Far-Left route, which is listed as a 5.8 in Urban Rock and H was able to get up Center Route, a 5.9 with guidance from one of the other climbers. We didn’t get a ton of climbing in, we each did about 1.5 routes, but it was a successful day.

It’s been 7 months of climbing for us. H really needs to climb outside now as he’s hit a plateau at the gym. For me, each day I climb anything, I get better.

I’m so addicted.

You really can not beat this life. 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

Scale and Space

Something that I didn’t consider when dreaming about Alaska was scale.

This shouldn’t be a surprise since I have no spacial relation sense – no idea how big or how far away something is, if this piece of furniture in the store will fit on the wall we plan to set it against, or how much smaller I am than the average woman.

But the vastness of Alaska – the height of the mountains, breadth of the rivers, massive muscle of moose, and gleaming stark white blaze that is Mount McKinley – all took my breath away.

As we traveled, listening to endless tour guide commentary, I couldn’t translate numbers into forms.

I couldn’t comprehend how the peak of Mount McKinley was actually 20,320 ft above sea level. Or how the bear we saw was probably 250 lbs. Or how Denali National Park is 6 million acres (I just Googled it again to be sure because that number seems unbelievable to me). Or that the whale tails we saw slinking into the ocean’s smooth surface, going for a deep dive, were as large as a truck. From the cruise ship balcony they looked like a pleated party favor fan, something to wave and cool you off in the mid-day sun.

Bald eagles looked like giant kites. Otters looked like fish. Helicopters looked like horseflies.

Many of our tour guides hoped for a Texan in the group so they could make the joke that everything actually *is* bigger in Alaska.

Just because I was thrown off continuously by scale and distance, doesn’t mean I didn’t love it. No. If anything, I wanted to sink into it, or I guess, more appropriately, be absorbed by it.

I wanted to dissolve into the space that is the Alaskan wilderness.

———-

Since returning, life is LA feels more bleached and burnt out than tropical and lovely. The sun is too strong, the plants all bone dry and dying from the drought, the line of traffic on our street ridiculous. I can’t shake the smell of engine exhaust and fertilizer.

I didn’t notice at the time if Alaska smelled sweet or fresh in the way you’d imagine all that open space would, all of the trees and rain rinsing and washing the air. But I can say now that it was fresh enough to not have a scent, some kind of pureness I accepted immediately, absorbing the oxygen like a plant inhales the sun.

———-

We traveled from windy, chilly Anchorage up through temperate Denali, and back down through the Inside Passage, where the cold from the Hubbard Glacier swept across our cruise balcony like a chill from ghosts. I only felt freezing on two days, and those involved glaciers and rain. I drank tea, hot chocolate, lattes. One morning I had a “molten glacier”, some concoction involving hot chocolate, chocolate liqueur and Brogans Irish Cream.

I lived in my SmartWool socks. I wore the hat my colleague knitted for me.

———-

Some areas are only accessible by sea plane, some only by train. Other areas people use snow mobiles, sled dogs or ATVs to get around. There is a gravel trail that runs parallel to the Parks Highway (Alaska Route 3) specifically for people to ride ATVs and snow mobiles. Boats get locked in frozen in overnight frosts in early September. Trucks fall into ice where a lake thawed out. Moose use the plowed highway as a more accessible path during winter months when the snow is too deep for them to walk comfortably in the woods. The moose-to-car ratio is not in anyone’s favor.

It was a trip of planes, trains, automobiles, boats, helicopters and buses. We had three bus rides over 2hrs, a 9hr train ride, and we cruised a total of 1,500 nautical miles. All of that and we didn’t cover even a quarter of the state.

———-

The Hubbard Glacier is 350 feet tall above the Yakutat Bay. It calves (breaks off) 10-story-building sized ice bergs. The blue is the most intense blue-sky-blue you will ever see. It seems so crystal clear you can hear it ringing.

———-

Somehow all of this has me craving more space, less city. I mean, I knew I wasn’t cut out for the walking-hawking-chaos that is New York City, but I thought I’d found a groove here in LA. Now it seems I’ve had a taste of wide open spaces (insert Dixie Chicks song here) and I want more.

More of less.

More space, less people. More quiet, less noise. More color, less concrete.

Vast and wild, scale and space

Flow: Month Five

 

Like I wrote here about my jury duty experience, May was a befitting challenge to my OWL ~flow~ because I spent two weeks in a situation I did not want to be in.

It was all about giving in to reality, like how H told me to float on my back that time we were caught in a rip current, but I didn’t know it, and the waves kept crashing over my head, and my body went into full panic.

Give in to the fact that the house feels like a disaster between moving everything around for the new floors, not being home and not cleaning. It will all eventually get done.

Give in to the fact that some nights it felt too hot to sleep, that the heat wave made us all cranky, that even after jury duty, I had stressful dreams for a while. Turn on the a/c even if it makes us feel like bad people, and get some rest.

Give in to the fact that I couldn’t go see my therapist. Up the self-care & be my own supportive voice.

Give in to the fact that I couldn’t get work done, or didn’t have the energy, or things were taking forever. If it absolutely needs to get done, it’ll get done. If it doesn’t, it won’t.

Give in to the fact that I had to tell people “no” and deal with their reactions. Can’t please them all.

Give in to the fact that I had a ton of energy and wasn’t sure where to put it. Go out for more runs.

And while it seemed the month went by in a blink, I did get two long posts out – one, a blog hop Jill invited me to, and another about climbing outdoors (for the first time). I ran more miles in May than any other month so far this year (and for the past 12 months, only rivaling November 2013. Both months ran for a total of over 40miles). I printed pictures and bought an Instax camera and drank a lot of coffee (which made me happy).

We are deep into binge-watching Game of Thrones (which started me on a Kit Harington/Jon Snow bender) and finally visited with some friends who had a baby. We celebrated H’s 30th birthday. We went to an observatory and I looked into the night sky through a big-deal telescope, and then looked for the light. And I finally got to Joshua Tree, to the desert.

Even when life is stressful, we find our days resemble some sense of vacation because we have the luxury of living in SoCal. Just the other day, as I biked home from a coffee date with a friend, I felt pretty lucky to be where I’m at, jury duty, work, messy house and all. To remind myself, I checked in and refocused.

All of that pent up frustration of having to sit still in a spot I didn’t want to be, seemed to create enough pressure to spring me into an idea-creating frenzy. I am excited to follow that thread. It’s scary how fast May flew by, but lately June is my favorite, so I’m pretty happy to be right here again. Flowing through 2014.

How’s your one little word for the year going?

You can see all of my OLW ~flow~ posts here.

p.s. Mercury, the messenger of the Gods, goes retrograde tomorrow. If there was ever a good time to back-up your files, double-check your work, go with the flow and enjoy the journey, now until July 1st would be a good time.

A Symbol, A Gesture

I never forget, but it’s hard to remember.

Was caught of guard last night when I saw the date was September 10th. Here in Los Angeles, where “your feelings change but seasons never do” (Sherwood) it’s difficult for me to feel the date. Is it August or March? It’s hard to tell. I grew up on the east coast, where that one week of shifting sun in August leads to the brisk breeze of September. You can feel it, in the sun, in the wind, in the noises at night.

Even after 7 years here in LA – I don’t.

But this morning I was reminded of the importance of the date when I saw this flag hanging from a neighbor’s balcony. Didn’t take her as a political person, but then again, neither am I. And I appreciate the symbol, the gesture, the recognition.

So, I send love to those who lost someone on that day, and I send thanks to those who rescued, rallied and held vigil. I am so grateful for this life here in SoCal, and I’ll always be a New Yorker at heart.

day 7: skyline

Up at 5am EDT for a shower and another stop at Wawa before we headed to the airport. Crazily enough, 13 hours later, I am back in Los Angeles, sitting at my kitchen table, writing this.

We came home to our apartment cleaned and flowers on the table thanks to my AWESOME sister. The pup is very tired, and may be sick. We walked him, ate burritos, and food shopped. Laundry is in the dryer. We still have to unpack. H is napping before grad school tonight and I’m trying my best to get organized and run with the energy this little break gave me, while trying to avoid a nap myself.

Just made a list of everyone’s birthdays. I want to get better at sending snail mail…

Vacation (and the Sun in Virgo) makes me want to get better about everything family and household related, down to the tiniest details.

Guess we’ll see how long that lasts.

The 4th

 

 

Happy 4th of July weekend.

The 4th holds many memories for me: driving from Long Island to Philly in traffic after our engagement party. That could’ve been the year H’s grandpa passed away suddenly. Another visit to Philly had us laid out on blankets in a park, in walking distance from his other grandparents’ home, watching fireworks. One year H went back East and I stayed here at this same apartment, walking miles with a friend to see the same firework show I saw tonight. Some years we didn’t see fireworks at all, like when my cousin got married and it was pouring rain. Or last year before our wedding, when the fireworks were scheduled for a day that wasn’t the 4th.

Back in high school, we’d all go down to Pirate’s Cove and camp… dragging supplies of grills, tents, beer and food in backpacks and via little boats. Walking, we had to beat the tide or else we wouldn’t be able to get around. I remember someone had a portable grill with a griddle and was frying eggs the next morning. I don’t remember sleeping, ever. It seems like a dream now, those nights. Walking the dunes, making out with a boyfriend, peeing in bushes…

There was one 4th that I fell hard for a guy that was all wrong for me. It’s so long ago, sometimes it feels like it didn’t happen. But it did.

And yesterday was the most normal July 4th I’ve had in forever. We slept in, took the dog to the park. We went out to our favorite breakfast place and ate pancakes and french toast and sipped coffee that was mostly creamer. We cleaned up and packed up and drove to the beach. Somehow received a parking miracle and found a patch of sand. It was crowded. We met my sister and some friends, but for a while, it was just H and I. He surfed. I read a book. Friends arrived and there were drinks. We left to go back home to feed and walk the dog, shower, and then biked back. It felt so good to be flying through the streets on my cruiser. We hung out in a bar, walked a ways to the firework show, and made it just in time.

They were huge, and magical, and loud. H kissed me with excitement. At the prettiest ones, the big golden ones that seem to shimmer and wave into the darkness, I would hear a small sound come out of my mouth – an actual “ohh” or “ahh”. They are so wonderful. I wish we had them at other times in the year. Checking that off the summer manifesto list.

I love fireworks. And I love July for all of its summer loving.

xo.

Wrote this very early this morning, up with a sick pup. It’s working out though, since I’m not very tired anyways. 

Ode To SoCal

 

When I first moved to LA, things were cool. Newly graduated and living 3,000 miles from my family and boyfriend, I basically was freaking out. But the city was huge and I did what I could to explore, meet people, find a job.

Once the job was secured, life calmed down a bit. Kind of. The sublet I lived in was perfect, romantic even, and I started running to fill my free time. But as is habit, I put way too much pressure on myself. I had yet to learn the SoCal way of living – which is, just live.

A job and apartment change found me working and living alone. This could’ve been the perfect time to dig down into what I really wanted to do, to lounge and relax and pursue personal goals of anything I wanted. But I was paralyzed. I didn’t allow myself to do much of anything.

Then H moved to LA, we moved in together, and things moved along. I decided to get a therapist and focus on myself. This was an immense move, one that I thank my past self for. I wouldn’t be where I am today if she hadn’t hung onto that idea with both fists.

Soon after, we moved to a different part of the city, one where it was was cooler, our apartment was nicer and I could ride a bike to the beach. I tried giving myself some space, and a break. We adopted Carter. I took up photography for the first time in years. I started this blog. Somehow, all of this personal work influenced my professional career and I was promoted into a brand-new position created for me. Then, Henry proposed and we were on to that whirlwind.

And all the while, Los Angeles in all it’s entertainment industry, hippy-beach-culture, sunny days and warm nights was growing on me.

When we were on our honeymoon, and people asked where we were from, I wanted to say Los Angeles like I’d grown up here. It felt like home. So much of the east coast work-is-your-worth-must-not-stop culture was fading into the background.

Now I know much of this has to do with me growing up, taking responsibility for my life, and the beautiful leveling out of things that happens as one nears their late twenties… but I think I would be ignoring a major factor if I didn’t point to Los Angeles as a supporting character in all of this.

And now that my sister lives here, I can see that change happening for her too. She’s brighter, happier, more active. That’s us in the photo above, on a hike, right near her apartment. She’s got the mountains, I have the ocean.

Something about this city allows us to be ourselves and enjoy life deeply. And I am so grateful for that.