Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Stress and darkness and bedbugs, oh my

It has been a shake-up crazy week at work and in life. Turns out I may have needed the retreat in Santa Barbara more than I thought because of what has come to me this week... It has been an overwhelming week at work, starting with the smell and discovery of rotting watermelons after five days of being gone and between registration for our Thanksgiving give away, more clients in a single day than I've ever seen, free flu shots at the pantry and rain making everyone grumpy. It was a good test for me of my own will power, ability to breathe and smile at the clients as they approached me and my volunteers skills.

We also don't have electricity in our apartment right now. It's been more than 36 hours at this point and it won't be on all night long tonight. The city of Glendale is doing some work in our building, and we get a generator for a few hours each night to turn on the fridge again and have a lamp on. It was supposed to be done today, but it's going to be off for another night. The first night it was kind of fun and romantic to go out for dinner together, sit around and read by candle light and blow out the candles at the end of the evening. Tonight I feel like I'll be more aware of the cold shower, the inability to make food, the rotting food in the fridge and the lack of internet and TV. (Which is why I'm still at work an hour after I could go home).

Also, we have bedbugs. I don't want to even begin to get into THIS story and journey, but they are in the house. I am currently not being bitten, and we have an inspector coming tomorrow to give us a clue of what to do next.

In the end, I'm very glad I went out for coffee and had great conversation and insight with a new friend last night, and that tonight I get to go to yoga. I'm making the roots that hold me down and steady in a way I know I was not just about three months ago, when all of this would have made me curl up in a ball and cry. And for that, I am thankful. I am working very hard to develop gratitude where gratitude is due.

Monday, October 24, 2011


One of the reasons I chose the Episcopal Urban Intern Program - even when we lost our AmeriCorps funding and I may or may not be getting any sort of stipend towards my college loans at the end of the year - was that we are so focused on personal development and community building within our group throughout the year. Not only am I given housing with others who are choosing to live in intentional community with me, but I'm also taken on amazing retreats, at least three throughout the year, for reflection, vacation and downtime.

So finally, after two official months of living here (well today marks that anniversary. I can't believe it, honestly!) I finally got out of Los Angeles to see more of Southern California, namely the 101 highway up to Santa Barbara. That means lots of brown desert mountains and the ocean. We stayed at a retreat center in the mountains almost out of the city. It was within a monastery, which was absolutely perfect. The downtime, reflection and spiritual focus was something I really needed right now, something I've been working on doing a lot of these last few months in general, but getting the space and quiet time to really do it was incredible. I really did some true realignment and focusing in on myself, my needs and my goals for this point in my life.

Where I've put myself now: centering on keeping balance between being very present to the journey I'm on right now and the life I'm living here, while also focusing on my larger life goals and the things I want to do next year and beyond. Looking at the ways and options I have moving forth, while staying focused on what is happening today.

Here's St Mary's, the retreat center and monastery. My camera actually broke this week, so I can't take credit for the pictures. They are from my friend Allison's blog. (

Here's a view from the back porch. You can just barely see the mountains beyond the houses in the hills the deck looks upon.

This is Allison, me, Casey and Valerie at the end of the retreat.

The retreat was good in so many ways. The weather cooled way down, so I felt like fall was coming in around me (I miss it!! I really do!) I didn't bring my wool socks, but I had a sweatshirt and scarf and got to read and drink tea for a few hours which was amazing. I got a lot of work done on the book. Also, they had a small labyrinth at the monastery. I have not gotten to walk one since I was at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco with Lauren in December of 2008 and I have loved that experience each time I've been able to do it. I also got to spend more quality time with the great interns that are in my program. We go out on the weekends quite a bit, but I function so well one-on-one and after I've developed a relationship with someone so it was good to have the chance to keep doing this.

All in all, I really felt good there, quieting down and focusing inwards. Made me think a lot about what I need to do right now with my life this year and what I could be doing next year. Once again, I'm focusing on letting go and being opened to whatever is supposed to come next. The rest is rumblings stewing in the back of my mind. I'll keep everyone posted if they begin to form something more tangible.

We came back in LA right as the Friday afternoon traffic was picking up. It took us an hour and a half longer to get home than it took to get to Santa Barbara. I had a very relaxing weekend at home, staying in on Friday, doing yoga and going to a showing of the cult zombie and alien movie Plan 9 From Outer Space with a special appearance by one of the actors on Saturday night. It was the worst movie ever made. No question. Please watch it if you ever can, especially on a big screen. It is very much worth your time.

Today its back to work, but I'm very rejuvenated and ready to face the holiday season and all that will be coming with that.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tour De Fat LA

Every year the New Belgium Brewing Company (the makers of Fat Tire and other great beers) does a summer tour of bikes, music and beer in cities all across the country. I was drinking a Fat Tire in the middle of the summer and casually noticed that the Tour De Fat as it's called would be coming to LA in October. This weekend I met up with my friend Joey and we went. It was an AWESOME day. First, there was a mile bike parade through downtown Los Angeles. About 150 of us were there, enjoying the warm beautiful day and gaining several photographs from tourists and city workers lined up along the streets, as well as glares from car drivers. We also passed by Occupy LA and rang out bike bells and waved madly. 

After the bike ride, there was an afternoon of beer, music, entertainment and bike festival awesomeness. I got signed up for the LA County Bike Collation. It was great to be surrounded by the type of people who are like me and into the same things as me. After sitting in the sun, drinking and dancing all day, I was exhausted and went right home to rest for the night. It was honestly good to do something other than going out to the bars at night. Plus I got to spend time with Joey from my program one on one, which means a lot to me. I get to know people so much better in that sense, and it's been nice to get to do that more and more now that we're all falling into our patterns and grooves within the group.

So: photos! To show how awesome and beautiful the day was!

If you gave them money you got a cool little TDF 2011 licence plate for your bike.  Too bad I'm super broke this year.

Before we started. Everyone was lining up and getting ready to head out.

Me and Joey! Being safe in our matching helmets!

The group of us in downtown LA, at a stoplight.

Occupy LA! We wanted to stop by at the end of the day, but we were both exhausted. Maybe this coming weekend... I want to spend some time and talk to some people if I can.

A truck full of beer.

This is a "park" in LA, I guess. I was not impressed. And I got very very sunburnt in all the unsexy ways possible: aka, farmers tan, purse strap tan, watch tan and sunglasses tan. I guess I could have been wearing socks to make it that much worse.

The main music stage.

The event finale!

Bike valet.

This is how awful my sunburn was at the end of the day around my watch. Luckily it fades pretty fast on my skin.

This if from my apartment when I came home: a beautiful end to a beautiful day.