Friday, September 26, 2008


One of my guilty pleasure returned to TV this week. Why guilty? Because I shouldn’t be sitting around watching TV,. Reality TV, no less. I left that behind to do my own writing and I should be writing. Or reading… or doing something, say, more productive. This is part of my negative talk – the why aren’t you finishing your book proposal or the 9 million other things you promised yourself you would do annihilation talk that somehow doesn’t make me more productive. I have cable TV now, thanks to my landlords, but for some reason we don’t get NBC so I have to watch the show online, sadly with a slow cable connection. But even with the stops and starts I’m riveted. By what? The Biggest Loser. I think I’ve watched every season but one. I laugh. I cry. And I get as furious as the trainers do when they have to yell at the contestants to move their fanny. Oh my god, I say, how can they be that lazy! How did they get that fat?! But I know that I’m not really talking to the contestants. I’m really talking to myself because it is part of the negative talk that I say to myself; and for the love of reality TV, I’m trying to stop.

I’ve always struggled with my weight. Had it not been for a fat camp intervention when I was 12, who knows, I could have ended up being a contestant on the show. As it is, I’m 25 pounds ish past the highest weight I can be for my height. Not big enough to be on the show but feeling enormous is a question of perspective. I’m in the feeling enormous stage. When the show comes on, I feel invigorated to exercise. When the contestants sweat in gym, I do leg lifts. I resolve to get up early in the morning and walk. Then I sleep in.

I’ve done many the deprivation diet. And I’ve lost tons of weight. And I know how to eat right. I know about nutrition and diet. At the core of me, I am a health nut but I can’t be trusted around a chocolate chip cookie. In art class, in high school, I actually painted a picture of chocolate chip cookies with an x over it. But I love them. I would sneak them, as a kid, and savor the sweetness in my mouth. They made me happy, delighted, in brief moments – in those moments I didn’t hate myself for being a chubby kid.

I have many avenues of discipline in my life. I don’t spend a lot on clothes or movies or silly things I don’t need. But I don’t have it with food. If I buy that delicious goat cheese Gouda from Trader Joe’s, I cannot stop at one slice. I run back to the kitchen several times – almost giddy because I’m allowing myself to do it. I’m allowing myself to be decadent. This thought stopped me this week. Allowing myself to be decadent. Is food really the only place where I allow myself to be decadent? In all my not allowing myself fun, spontaneous things, has food only been my only outlet? No wonder I delight in cheese.

I have had this thought before that the only place I’ve allowed abundance to show in my life is through food. I have no problems spending money on food. But abundance in food is clearly not what I need. Ask my waistband! What I need to find are more avenues to express the abundance of life and all its goodness.

So with that knowledge this week, I allowed another decadent behavior. I read a book for most of the morning. It cut into my writing time. I allowed myself to do it. It felt decadent and I enjoyed it. And I did it without a chocolate chip cookie. Next step is viewing exercise, not as a punishment, but as a reward. Last night, walking in the neighborhood, I reveled in the painted sky. It’s a step. (Ok, I couldn’t resist the pun).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Spaced out in L.A.

When I think about what I struggled with living in Los Angeles, the predominant item on the list was space. Space to walk, breathe, live; And just finding the space to BE. It’s a place where people want to be noticed. It’s a place where people can walk all over you. People rumble down the street in giant yellow Hummers so desperate are they to be seen and stand out. You can get runover many ways there; with other’s “bigger” ideas or just louder voices. Everyone vies for space. Everyone wants to matter. For some reason, just being doesn’t matter. You have to prove you’re SOMEBODY. If you’re SOMEBODY, people will stop for you and let you pass in front of them. There’s that SOMEBODY! That SOMEBODY counts somehow more than you do. You want to be that SOMEBODY someday. Maybe that SOMEBODY can help you. You have to do something for that SOMEBODY first. I found coping with this thinking hard, going against my grain. All beings matter or else every one of us wouldn’t be here, living on this planet now. But those are the rules of Los Angeles as they are, especially in Entertainment. Not everyone’s an asshole but we all worry about getting stepped on along our career path as someone tries to jump ahead of us.

A few weeks ago, at the local market in lovely shore-town of Mendocino in Northern California, I apologized to a customer as I interjected a question to the cashier. She was ahead of me in line. This didn’t ruffle her. Instead, looking at the fewer items I had, she insisted I go ahead of her. I declined. “No, no, please,” she said. I told her she was very kind, a phrase I said over and over during my trip there. People were constantly putting my needs first, an experience I haven’t felt in a long time. I didn’t have to fight for it. I didn’t have to do a quid pro quo; I mattered just for being a human being. That isn’t to say I didn’t come across this behavior in L.A. I did. Just not on a consistent basis.

I used to wonder why I was so tired living in Los Angeles. Was it the pollution, the noise, and working crazy hours? Yes, but mostly it was struggling to be in area where I tested my values daily. I acted kindly towards people I thought were pushy and aggressive. One day, I reflected back exactly the behaviors I saw – sad, drawn, aggravated mouths with a bitchy demeanor. I got back exactly what I put out. Not pleasant. But I saw how much effort I put out to remain positive and sane. It’s a lot of work and it’s an effort I’m not going to miss now that I live elsewhere.

In all encounters we have a choice to either think of others or only ourselves… And given the frame of mine we’re in, we do have to act accordingly to our needs. When we live in a people-clogged environment, set on forwarding our career goals, in an area where it’s all about me, you can only adapt or constantly serve others. That’s what I learned in Los Angeles. Now that I'm living in a freer open space, it's easier to let someone ahead. It doesn't matter because we all matter. There's enough space to go around.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sonoma Sunrise

Here I am now living in Sonoma, CA. Two weeks ago, I was still in smog-clogged Los Angeles. And now I’m in a place where you can actually see the stars at night. I’ll take that over the Hollywood stars where Hollywood only looks good at night, basked in a glow that overtakes the dirt and ding that can’t hide in the daylight. I promised, perhaps only to myself, that I would stop dissing L.A. It has its place and its people and it’s full of everything you could want - good and bad. But what I wanted more than anything was open space and I have it. Lots and lots of fields full of vineyards. And a speck of the mess of people that L.A. has. So far, it’s a good, good life.

I knew a girl from Vegas who said she didn’t know when she first came to California where people go to the movies without a casino. Everything in Vegas is through the casinos and if you want to go to the movies, bowling, etc., you go to a casino. It’s a little bit like that here with the wineries. Festivals, parties, etc. seem to be at the wineries or about them. I’m not complaining. I’d much rather have Zinfandel than slot machines. This weekend, in town, the local theater, the Sebastiani Theater, is showing, on the hour, the movie Bottle Shock. Guess what, it’s about the wine business and a lot of the movie was shot in Sonoma with some of the locals. I just missed the last of the summer outdoor movie fest. In L.A., similar screenings take place at the Hollywood Forever cemetery. Classic movies are projected on the side of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.’s mausoleum. Here, it’s at, you guessed it, a winery. I think the bonus is they may provide the wine.

I didn’t think myself much of an L.A. girl but whether I’m a Sonoma girl is yet to be seen (when I figure out what that is). I know that I’m much more of a No. California gal and I'm so glad to be back living up here. I’m started to unwind a bit and have backed off the gas pedal. I admit though I got a little back into my L.A. driving habits yesterday in town when I sped around a car to make sure I’d get through the green arrow. No one honked at me or flipped me off. Driving isn’t a competition here like it is down there. I never really understood that. Who wins when you cut someone off because in two seconds, someone will do that to you… I guess I’m not over dissing L.A… perhaps a few glasses of Chardonnay will help.