WEST LOS ANGELES TO EAST SARATOGA SPRINGS NY


A metallic sky is blowing the cotton ball clouds with the force of a lawn blower, a collage of sunflower leaves brush beauty in the windows of my home, and the act of observation becomes my pastime, here in the Northeast.


The Village of Ballston Spa.

When I used to sit on the stoop in front of my Westwood studio, it was the dogwalkers and gardeners, visitors and residents that my eyes laid on, with a backdrop of high rise two million dollar condominiums, with concrete terraces, usually vacant, that formed the view and from that, thoughts randomly trapped, wish I owned that, wish I had that car, wish I had that man. It is amusing, how one’s view can determine one’s thoughts.
West Los Angeles.

On the street where I live now, homes are two hundred years old, or newly built to imitate the Victorian era. The automobile is sturdy, practical, and unwaxed. The way of this wonderment brings simplicity into my life. No need to dress up and fit in, it’s the opposite here, dress down to fit in, or like me, a combination. You are not watched, observed, questioned or complimented, because, well I don’t know the answer, not yet. This is the day after a storm. Half of a tree collapsed in my front yard.

 

The Polar Freeze had to arrive with me, and the test was not so much about the snow outdoors, it was how to stay warm indoors without running up my gas bill to five hundred a month. Luckily, I found my Irish wool sweater in the basement, that is so large I can wear three sweaters under it, then the leggings, knee-high woolen socks, hats, and gloves even indoors. My activity was limited to bringing the furniture from the attic, basement and unloading the UBox from Los Angeles. Boxes of books and china, photographs, records, and bric a brack from so much antiquing. Three months later the house was staged. I was left with a fractured elbow, but the scenery indoors plays a critical part in your emotional health, because it is too cold to play outdoors.

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Most of my conversations came in Nomads, where I’d have a Cortado and some eggs, and talk with the owners who were also my tenants. I begged myself to interview them properly with a recorder, but I never did. They astounded my fictional idea of a millennial, not being general but based on what I observed in Los Angeles. In LA they don’t talk to adults unless you have a common bond; a tattoo or a protest sign. Nick and Alex have the play stations, all the tech knowledge of a Microsoft department, but, instead, they talked about literature, foreign films, and psychology. These are my subjects so if we began the conversation at eleven am, we finished at noon, minus the interruption of a customer. Many times, I’d ask for an explanation, and they’d answer without snickering or amusement. I recall one time I asked, ” Don’t you get tired of hearing adults say, you’ll understand when you get older (they are both nineteen years old) and Nick answered within a second, ‘No, because I know a lot they don’t. ‘Don’t forget I used the internet when I was five years old.’

The customers, mostly local residents, come solo or in large groups, families with toddlers, mothers and daughters, uncles, and nephews, everyone here that I met has a huge amount of family, which caused me some hesitation when asked, ‘you have family here, don’t you?’ After that question dozens of times, I thought maybe I should make one up. I’m not and never have been a believable liar.

The volume of their voices is another adjustment, not in a bad way, just a curiosity, they do not contain their vocal strength. Maybe it is a part of the heritage, just the New York way of conversing, but it is self-effacing genuine. I never detected a play on pretense or arrogance. Imagine how refreshing, like a gulp of spring water from a waterfall, after the playacting that overrides conversation in Los Angeles. To be continued.

Saratoga Spa Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AN ADOLESCENT ADULT


Remember when you opened the door to your own car and took hold of the steering wheel without any parental supervision.

As a teen, my Chevrolet Impala was a haven away from my father. I rolled all the windows down, turned the volume up on the radio, and smoked. My secret joy was hoping the driver next to me would hear the music and notice me. If he was a suitable face I turned around and bobbed my head. Then, just as he looked over at me, I turned away, and looked in the rearview mirror, or sang my heart out to show off brazen behavior, the kind I couldn’t express at home.
There was a sense of freedom from examination and explanation. When I drove my spinning Impala that leaped over road bumps in three waves, I was going somewhere alone.
 It was the only self-contained space my father wasn’t attached to, and he didn’t like driving with me, because he didn’t like me being in control. That is the sensation that life brings to us in volumes as teens; explosions of discovery. Today I don’t experience that sweat of discovery; my life is deodorized.

Remembering the sensations I felt as a teenager, reminds me to intertwine more challenges, sports, mental and academic thought into emotional adventures. If I’m lucky to break through all the percentages of disease, that the late night commercials warn me off, the edge of my rhythm is asking me to make a commitment; to put the Bo’ Jangles back in my steps. I heard the voice yesterday, almost a whisper, asking me why I exclude long term commitments: joining groups, classes, associations, serving on committees, planning ahead, even magazine subscriptions are not worth the trouble because I am always planning on moving.

 

 

The answer always comes in the photographs that bring back that moment in time, and the immediate recollection of the internal places I moved from venturing into the unknown.
Many years ago, I was in therapy, and in one discussion, this discourse occurred that I considered an awakening then.
“I think you jump into unknown places, and situations, to test yourself, and you do that because that is what your father did most of his life.”
That is what adolescent behavior is meant for, to learn by experiment, to see how far our strength of character will take us.  We each have a different set of alarms and temptations. Why compare what one has to the other? My path is familiar to me, I am a born mistress of unfamiliarity; the quest for discovery keeps me moving.

 

 

As a teenager, I remember the most remarkable configuration of images, that passed by while I was driving, the faces of shopping mothers walking the streets of Beverly Hills and Westwood, the prostitutes positioned along one section of Sunset Boulevard, and their counterpart degenerate gin-soaked soul mates inched up against abandoned buildings, the Ocean Park joggers, and walkers, and picnickers, waving to each other, as they slapped together hard boiled egg and tuna sandwiches. Like a playroom without walls for Europeans’ and senior citizens to elope with each other. I didn’t favor one street life over another, they all made sense to me.

Living in the Northeast calls your pragmatic and sensible strings. I’m still learning how to tame my lust for unpreparedness; like going out without an umbrella, leaving delicate brick a brac on the porch, driving with caution for deer, rabbits, and turtles, maintaining a close eye on water in the basement,and dressing down so I don’t look like I’m from Los Angeles.  Every day is experimental in some way.  I don’t know how long I’ll be here, maybe that is how I like it. With every intention on writing about living in a village of five thousand, surrounded by forests and fields, my pen of expression is a bit too wobbly to publish. I’ve had this post up for editing all week, and it’s not a new one. Most of it was published in 2011. Is that cheating?     

   

THE FOLLIES HOUSE

ADVENTURES IN LIVINGNESS- LA.


  • The exhilaration and expectations of stepping out of one grid, of eighty thousand people in Santa Fe, NM  to one million people in Los Angeles is something I didn’t really think out, it was more like, I’m going home, to Tara. 20180914_130708.jpg

Santa Fe slow as a rippling stream manifests when I’m at a yellow light, and I think the driver behind me is going to have a heart attack if he doesn’t get through before it turns red. How serious, overly stimulated, exhausted and determined the Angels of Angeles evolved.  Either you are so rich you don’t have time to say hello, or you are struggling with loneliness and can’t wait to say hello. When I lived here in the eighties and early nineties, the vibe felt in social arenas; Hollywood, technology, the arts, and real estate were promising ventures of investment. People in the know were opening shops in ungentrified neighborhoods, warehouse space was scraping the horizon downtown,  real estate was affordable, and technology wasn’t the flag we saluted, it was more like we’re in real time paradise.

Century City, very close to my front door, is a memory. My father lived on Century Park East in the last few years of his life. He didn’t like it because it was all concrete, newly built, it didn’t have a history.  Now when I drive into the satellite of  HIGH RISES,  mall music, billboards, shops, and cafes, I know what he means. It is changed, rushing executives, employees, shoppers, a pace that makes one slower feel extradited.    20180704_140814(1).jpg

Then the parking, you will need a ticket to park, a parking pass, or you will have to circle the block four times before you find a parking space.  The line outside the restaurant is too long, or not long enough, the business of dining here is a mouthful of expectation. The business owner of a shop sells me what I did not come in to buy, and the sales pitch is like a Hollywood script, and I’ don’t know the language.  The wait for the Doctor is two months, and that’s if he takes your insurance, which I found out in California has very few Medicare physicians.  If someone does speak to you, you can’t hear them because there is so much construction noise, pulsating bass music in surround sound, you find yourself shouting.

Flip the coin. The day after I landed a woman walked up to me and said, ” Oh, you just moved in, I’m Barbara, I’m at 1203 welcome to the neighborhood.”

We walked together with her little Boo dog.  She asked questions, and I answered because she was that kind of person you want to talk to, she soothes, applauds, and comforts all in tune with your admissions.  The next few days as I awaited my furniture, she glided by, and we continued our life stories, some from the past, some of the moment. My first friend materialized, like a new moon in a new city. 20180805_183912.jpg

IN LA, because of the immeasurable density, people are always close by, not a foot between us. It’s the life here, it’s not the LA I remember, but it is home.  So, like family, I am learning to accept and stay individual.

 

ADVENTURES IN LIVINGNESS- SUICIDE


I feel like a butterfly wing, trying to fly without my twin.  Hang on, we have  to fly solo.  The world feels harsher, the obstacles immense, one wing is better than none.    e4ef93000387449b61736ab73c004536

 

One winged flight with breath of fright, just a step I have to take to the next destination.

330px-WLANL_-_MicheleLovesArt_-_Museum_Boijmans_Van_Beuningen_-_Eva_na_de_zondeval,_RodinIn a week of famous iconic people who’ve committed suicide, my heart breaks and my mind asks, why is everyone shocked? Chronic depression, anxiety, and loss of a life view are not particularly inviting topics of conversation. I know, the last two years of my life these disturbing emotions tried to get a noose around my neck… NO WAY. Enemies cannot win, whether they are in your head your heart or at your doorstep.

The answer is to get involved in someone’s mental decay, agony, and hopelessness is a risk most people are not willing to take. I suggest the simplest of remedies; accessibility by way of  phone calls and drop-ins.

Suicides have increased thirty-percent since 1999 and according to Suicide Statistics one hundred and twenty-three each day.

Who do you know that needs attention?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DON’T DO IT ALONE


ADVENTURES IN LIVINGNESS FALL ON… moving without a new address. This is the pinnacle of the If Girl, an identify that suits me.  I’ve met dozens of men and women who are transitioning from one local to another, one partner to another, one pet to another, the if is the true arch of our character.  If we reach to high we may end up with  a knock on the head, if we reach to low  we disappoint ourselves.  If you are not moving internally, well, I guess you are happy where you are. I’ve never known that.  Maybe its the writer in me, without conflict what to write about?

Direction is a choice; move back home, move near your children, move for a job, but in my case I move because my act in Santa Fe has closed. I’m like a space between two paragraphs; a blank slate sounds romantic, no commitments or tangible responsibilities my home is rented and so like a nomad, I’m searching for a new beginning. Some say its an adventure, some say the answer will come in time,  as I lay my head down on a hotel pillow, the interim is asking me to be peaceful, as my belongings are reduced to a partial wardrobe,  my cat, three books, and my coffee maker.

Its like when I went off to college,  a liberating extension of those early days when belonging to things didn’t matter, life mattered.  If you are single and without children this is the knife that we  must slice into a piece we accept, or no peace at all.  hopscotch-bristol-1050x700

MADNESS


 “YOU NEED A LITTLE MADNESS IN YOUR LIFE.”       ZORBA THE GREEK

November 10, 2017

Is it my aging, the world struggling, the politics punishing, the climate destroying, or is it because all of the above feels personal. Every day is a recovery from the disasters, deaths and destruction of the previous day. I can’t decide if my thinking process is changing or the world really is bubbling over the edge of horror. Today the fires in Sonoma hit a personal note; I went to Sonoma State University and lived two years wandering the hills, rivers, towns, farms, and vineyards. I have to remember all the places I lived in:   a dorm in Cotati, then Rio Nido along side the Russian River, it was too far to hitch to Sonoma so I moved to Petaluma, then I spent a few months in a hippie house in Glen Ellen and then… I dropped out of college and moved to Mill Valley.  Northern California shocked the Beverly Hills plushness off my shoulder and I smothered myself in the outdoors. I used to walk or bike everywhere, I don’t know how I managed without a car. Did you?

My heart and mind turn to the images on the TV news: twenty two fires burning, five hundred unaccounted for and now forty dead.

My family home burnt down in the Bel Air fire on November 5,1961. It rearranged my life as suddenly as it happened, and I discovered growing up wasn’t so bad.

 

I need a movie to watch that resonates life’s invasive  tragedy and triumph; Zorba the Greek.  As a young girl that movie moved me in a way so unfamiliar. The writer and Zorba the teacher, the French debutante unzipped, and the widow, whose life was taken because of unreturned passion. Last night, Zorba came to me and said, “You need a little madness in your life.”  I listened, and found myself at El Farol on the dance floor.  Tuesday Blues Jam used to be a weekly routine. It’s been two years since I went on my own. Dance is always alive in me, moving really fast to great music.

I sat down at the newly restored bar, and looked around, a few familiar faces, and then I looked at the man next to me. He smiled informally, the way someone does when they recognize you. I hadn’t seen Dancing Dennis in years.

” Hi,” he said in a sort of chuckle.

” Do I know you?” I asked.

” Dennis.”

” Oh Dennis!  I didn’t recognize you. You’ve lost weight or something, you look so different.” He chuckled and let me talk.

“How are you? How funny to run into you, I  haven’t been here in years.” Dennis and I met on the dance floor at El Farol, and I asked him to marry me! I guess that’s why he just listens to me, he knows I’m a grab bag of surprises.  I thanked him for reading my book and writing a beautiful review and then he said,

” I liked your hair short but I like this too. “I don’t recall what I said, but I remember feeling at ease sitting next to him, and trying to recall who he reminded me of, I thought it was Michael Caine, but today I remember, its Oscar Werner, when he played the Captain in Ship of Fools.  When the band started I jumped, without even asking Dennis, and darted for the dance floor before it got crowed. I took off like a wild bird and let my Zorba dance.  I knew Dennis and I would dance later but I needed to let my madness out.

When I returned to my seat, he looked left out, and so we talked about the past times we danced, and moments later, without any discussion of our personal lives, we danced, and danced and danced. I asked the band to play “Honky Tonk Woman,” and the floor regaled with dancers. Every time I looked at Dennis he was smiling or laughing.

November 15,2017

Today I am in a religious mood, not in the sense of Jewish or Catholic, just feeling like  I am waiting for God to stop the tragedy.