Flying Through the Caribbean Breeze

A little video of me clinging to some sort of wind swing thing that whips me around like a rag doll off the coast of the Riviera Maya (Cancun, MX, spring 2010):

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Here’s one where we cruised around the inlets in little toy speedboats before spilling out into the sea and jumping overboard to snorkel:

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The Itch, The Fever Call It What You May But I’ve Got to Go Far and Away & The Truth About L.A.

Yesterday marked my 6th month anniversary in Los Angeles… already? That was fast…

I woke today with a familiar energy; eyes popping wide open. I’ve been logging deep sleep but not long hours. Too much buzz coursing through my body. In fact, the past three mornings have been the same. Getting to bed around 1 a.m. Flashing awake by 7 a.m.

The last time I felt so much energy was while I was living in Playa del Carmen, MX…

Huh. A good sign, I mused to myself… noting the new boost. Exited, I thought: Okay, perhaps LA is really going to come together for me. Perhaps this IS where I’m supposed to be.

HA!

Okay. Prepare yourself now. I’ll be pouring the “wine” for the next few paragraphs. So do yourself a favor and go grab some cheese.

I’ve already mentioned my dissatisfaction with L.A. My nickname for the “city of angels” is “the slum of smoke and mirrors.” In all honesty, there are gems here. But you really have to dig to find them. At least, that’s my experience. And, I certainly love digging up the treasure buried amidst the trash, but the absolute truth is… I’m negligibly inspired here. That’s a far cry from my norm. Usually, I’m brimming over with inspiration, adventure, discovery, joy, love… the list of sappy, fairytale wonderland adjectives goes on. But here? There’s something here… beyond the surface even… that, more alarming than leaving me uninspired, downright disturbs me. I can’t quite put into words what it is, but if I did I would have to borrow the lyrics from the Big Yellow Taxi from the Counting Crow Hard Candy album (and really they borrowed the lyrics from Joni Mitchell):

“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. With a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot… They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. They took all the trees and put em up in a tree museum. And they charged the people a dollar and a half just to see them.”

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What’s worse… it seems like everyone believes it’s paradise. The black top of tar is what everyone exclaims is paradise. “They” all squabble over the slightest centimeter of it… charging a millionaire’s salary for one little sq cm. You, ahem, may think I’m exaggerating… I’m not. I just passed a complex on my walk home from the semi-ritzy neighborhood of Brentwood to the partially-ritzy, partially student, partially Asian neighborhood of Westwood, where I now “live” (getting to why I was walking not biking in a minute). A two-bedroom loft in an ‘eh decent enough’ building choked by cement blocks on all sides goes for… drum roll please… not $300,000, not $400,000… can we get a $550,000 dollars please!! Oh yes, centimeters here are damn expensive. Please, pardon my French…
Continue reading “The Itch, The Fever Call It What You May But I’ve Got to Go Far and Away & The Truth About L.A.”

Fig Jam: The Key to Life

Brimming.

Precisely how I would describe today.

First, false courtesy from she who has offered me a roof. She and a friend leave for brunch with no invitation or inclination to include me. An obvious move to make an obvious statement. Certainly not the first time I’ve experienced this, so the disturbance is measured in ripples that spread through the shallows. But, beyond the surface, the calculated move bears no real penetration. Just merely skips off the periphery. My only concern is, after so many years of developing an intuition to avoid such superficial relationships, how did I let this one develop? How did I let this one slip through the cracks? Is it a weakness in my foundation? Or, was meeting me a necessity in the development of hers? My hunch is a little of both…

Moving on. The Italian-American takes me to the Beverly Hills farmers market. He collects blood “red” oranges, imported cheeses, cilantro basil pesto and a small purple orchid, which he gives to me. I love orchids. They are exquisite in their feminine delicacy. This one is petite, yet lavish with blossoms. Ten blossoms blushing with pink, speckled with a richer plum. Five more blossoms on the way. For me, her beauty is yet more striking in this realm thirsting for authentic refinement. Quickly, I find myself attached, jumping at her every shimmer and sway…. fussing over her blossoms like a mother fusses over a newborn.

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The Doheny Mansion. He’s right. Only tourists with guide books delight in this peaceful escape. Would be an ideal location for lifestyle photography. Too bad you need a license to shoot anywhere in this city. It seems everything is marked with bureaucratic, bourgeois tape. Basically, anything worth anything has already been pissed on, marked by the dogs, 100 times over. Common grounds for the public? Dream on. The smell of rain-soaked lavender, so refreshing and soothing, softens my edge and lulls me to a calm…

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A hidden trail finally leads up back to where we started, a small Coy pond…

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Next we pass the Beverly Hills witch house. It looks as if it’s straight out of a Brother’s Grimm tale.

Another Beverly Hills oddity… this one a house inspired by Gaudi:

Quickly, we breeze through Santa Monica just after the rains, strolling along the broad boulevard as the sun begins to break through the clouds…

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Venice… Despite six months in this city, this is the first time I’ve explored her charm. Wow… so there is hope. A far cry from so many of the hidden escapes I’ve come to adore, yet finally some true character! Bohemian flair, a few small canals that survived the city-wide larson, eclectic shops, sophisticated galleries. I will have to find a haven here if I shall make it for any length of time in this city. It’s so wonderful to breathe in the salty sea air… always she calls to me, the sea.

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Ducking into the Ritz Carlton, we seek a quick reprieve from the rainy weather and sip a glass of wine before the crackling fire.

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Winding upwards to the tip top of the Pacific Palisades. We pass clearance and an automatic gate lets us into the clifftop mansion, home to the inventor of Sony PlayStation’s Crash Bandicoot. Fine wine. Homemade pizza after homemade pizza spill from the outside oven, barely hitting the granite counter top before we scarf them down. Imported cheeses, truffle oil, a bountiful selection of savory sauces, fig jam… the list of toppings seems endless. I hand toss, hand roll my first ever homemade pizza. Pesto sauce, chunky slices of Parmesan cheese imported from Italy, red onion, gobs of rictotta, drizzle of honey, crushed black pepper all sent to the outdoor oven. We dress the pizza with buffala, balsamic must and top quality olive oil before serving. The general consensus: mmmMMMMM. The pink panther is my friend’s creation. Can’t remember all the ingredients but wine saturated Manchego cheese, dates and fig jam were key ingredients. He has discovered that fig jam is the key to life.

Gelato to finish us off. Pistachio mixed with chocolate my favorite.

Throughout the night, my friend’s stories, impersonations and jokes carried the delightful evening and roused bouts of laughter. He, as well, a refreshing encounter with true character.

With simple ease, he revealed many of LA’s gems…

Inspiration in the City of Angels

Excerpts from articles I’ve written about a few of the compelling stories I’ve encountered here in Los Angeles:

‘Gifted’ Musician Rocks ‘Social Harmony’

He boasts a four-octave vocal range and has written more than 300 original songs. In just one year, he has led his band through nearly 60 performances in more than 30 venues. When he holds his15-second falsetto note, one wonders if he just might one day soon rival the long note of soul great Bill Wither in “Lovely Day.” Yet, there is one more reason they call this young musician “gifted.” Twenty-five year-old Scott Siegel lives with autism…

Filmmaker Leads Grassroots Campaign to Bring OCD to the Big Screen

It is a film about extreme paranoia and debilitating fear. It is a story of illusion and immobilizing dread. No, this is not a horror movie. It is a narrative drama meant to illuminate the disturbing realities of the fourth largest mental illness plaguing millions of Americans today. Machine Man, a feature film about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), is a story meant to save lives.

“I didn’t know that it’s so common and that people have these thoughts that are called ‘harming thoughts,’” Kellie Madison said. “They walk around in life worried that they’re going to hurt another human being and the anxiety is so great it debilitates them… it was so heart-breaking learning about what these people are going through. I knew I had to make a movie on it.”

Neighbor Goods Leads the Borrow Lend Movement

Why buy when you can borrow? That’s the idea behind 32-year-old Micki Krimmel’s new project – a website that facilitates lending and sharing within local communities. In an age where neighbors seem more like strangers, NeighborGoods.net encourages people to again borrow and lend as friends. “NeighborGoods is a service that connects friends and neighbors to save money and resources by sharing stuff they already own instead of purchasing new stuff,” Krimmel explained.

Flickers Glinting through the L.A. Brume

I was “completely love struck.”

As my eyes briefly flutter over the prose that was written by a most smitten soul in A Rare Soul Indeed, a slight chuckle escapes from my lips.

Oh, Laurita. What a romantic you are!

And proudly so. This fairytale romance has come to an end. Much quicker than I had hoped. Yet the fruit of it was sweet, but for an ever so slightly bitter bite to its aftertaste. As always, I have learned and I have grown… and I am grateful for yet another magical experience.

Here I am in L.A: the city of illusion, the slum of smoke and mirrors. Three months with him. Three months without him.

Admittedly, I still haven’t recovered from the “culture shock.” Everyday the waves of nostalgia for foreign lands wash over my heart. I long to leave this “labyrinth of madness” and return to the journey. But, a small voice inside me insists not yet.

Why not? my heart forlornly whispers back. The answer remains hidden in the smoggy haze that envelopes this city. Not many understand my silent mourning as I search for the straggling gems in a land stripped of its natural beauty. Stripped for a manufactured glamour that, in reality, hardly even exists.

I, the hopeless romantic and the eternally smitten, feel less than charmed by this famed Hollywood seductress.

Yet, something unknown is keeping me here. And, just now, thanks to TweetDeck… a hint flashes in the bottom left corner of my screen:

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. ~Proverb (@AinBelton)

And again, with an ever so slight smile, I admit that I do spy soft flickers of light, glinting through the brume that permeates the city of angles…

Evening soirees. Waterslide waterfalls. Mystic lairs of enchantment. Eclectic expression. Scraps of nature stolidly resisting concrete vanity.

Below the kindling I’ve begun gathering for the great bonfire:

Girls Night In Art Experience
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Flying from LA to Camarillo
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Love Letter From La Bruja

La Bruja sent me this late last month. But, I didn’t have the chance to really read it until now. When she sent me this, Ryan and I were just beginning to go through our break up and my grandfather had just passed away.

Here is my English translation (below you’ll find the original in Spanish):

This night she was particularly sensitive. Her grandfather had passed to form a part of the stars of the firmament and, furthermore, she had to transform the love meant for her lover, into a love meant for the world. God wanted to console her heart, giving her a gift… He guided her flight to the foot of a mountain where there was a peaceful river fed by a waterfall. There, spread a light, golden frost that illuminated this beautiful place. Little by little, it revealed a field covered with the most beautiful flowers; the ground was a kaleidoscope of figures and colors and in the air flew hummingbirds, butterflies and little turtledoves that were manifested to form a part of this act of love.

She decided to climb to the height of the mountain to see the spectacular sight from a better perspective. Surprisingly, her senses were sharpened… the colors, the smells and the sounds reached the highest vibration (reminds me of my experience in Playa del Carmen). Laura could understand the songs of the birds… she could see everything around her as twinkling lights of energy that flickered in perfect synchronization and all of her surroundings had a smell sweetened from the nectar of the flowers and trees, which were planted marks, offering the protection of the wise sages and strong ancient.

Little by little her entire being heard, first as a whisper and after as a beautiful melody, the message that God was sending to her through those creatures of the forest: “Dear Laura, I love you. Thank you for being a part of me and for being a part of the miracle of life.”

Laura swelled with love! Her being was a fast-flowing mix of all those creatures together: the trees, flowers, river, sky and all the rest running through her veins giving her the best of themselves. She did her part, giving her soul to the entire universe. She decided to give herself to the flow of the river, the smell of the flower, the gleam of the stars. All of her being danced in unison with the creatures!!!!

And every day, and every night, Laura punctually arrived to replenish herself with love, to transmit love and to make the love that moves the world. Continue reading “Love Letter From La Bruja”

Jeremy Rifkin: Empathic Sociability

Just discovered Jeremy Rifkin today. His ideas and wisdom speak to my own heart. Watch the video below!

“Empathic sociability… rethink the institutions of society and prepare the groundwork for empathic civilization.”

Never has the world seemed so completely united-in the form of communication, commerce, and culture-and so savagely torn apart-in the form of war, financial meltdown, global warming, and even the migration of diseases.

No matter how much we put our minds to the task of meeting the challenges of a rapidly globalizing world, the human race seems to continually come up short, unable to muster the collective mental resources to truly “think globally and act locally.” In his most ambitious book to date, bestselling social critic Jeremy Rifkin shows that this disconnect between our vision for the world and our ability to realize that vision lies in the current state of human consciousness. The very way our brains are structured disposes us to a way of feeling, thinking, and acting in the world that is no longer entirely relevant to the new environments we have created for ourselves.

The human-made environment is rapidly morphing into a global space, yet our existing modes of consciousness are structured for earlier eras of history, which are just as quickly fading away. Humanity, Rifkin argues, finds itself on the cusp of its greatest experiment to date: refashioning human consciousness so that human beings can mutually live and flourish in the new globalizing society…

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Kahlil Gibran on Love

Kahlil Gibran on Love

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

Foto Flashback: The Ancient Artists of Angkor Wat

Daybreak at the Angkor Wat ruins. Awe.

The shifting hues of morning silhouetting an ancient world. The Khmer reigned this exotic kingdom 1700 years ago. Can you fathom that?

As the light slowly crept into the intricate crevices of this ancient realm, sweet memories of childhood came flooding back to me.

Sea. Sand. Beach. Drizzly sand-castles.

I chuckled as I thought how, from afar, these Tomb Raider ruins reminded me of the drizzly sand-castles my mom taught me to make at the sea’s edge.

Creeping closer to the ruins though, I gasped. It seemed as if every centimeter of the ruins was covered in delicate, hand-carved detail. A far cry from a drizzly sand-castle, this was a masterpiece of epic scale. Not only an expression of order and civilization, but also one of art and expression. The walls of this ancient kingdom really could speak. They told of the seductive Aspara, the ancient Khmer goddesses. Warriors reenacted great battles.

The tales of the Khmer were spun with rock.

Such an intricately ornate creation is lost to our modern world of towering skyscrapers. A quiet melancholy washed over me as I knew that the humans of our fast-paced world would never dedicate such time and expertise to their own walls of civilization. And to think these now dilapidated chambers and crumbling halls were carved by slaves. They should be remembered as artists.

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