I had a good day! – An Accumulation of Positive Tidbits

I’ve been generally getting back into step after Spring Break (self-imposed, but also, serendipitous). 

What have I learned after having spent quality time with mom, dad, brother and brother’s gf? Mmmmm. .. Definitely that there is quality; Such high quality. Quality of experience, and of connection. So what do I do now that I’m back to my usual without their guiding influence? Here’s goes some notes to self.

***

I was up early. Incredible drive up the PCH. Eventually winding our way up the the Hindu temple. The large windows framed views of the mountainous valley while we sat in still calm for fifteen minutes taking in the experience of going to temple as well as doing it for the first time (myself) on the West Coast. Clusters of clouds rolled over the mountains that at their deepest distance shone a shadowed and saturated blue-violet where they mingled with the mountain’s peaks. We sat on the red and gold rugs covering the entire floor. The smell was familiar, like that of used agarbathi, hot coconut oil and other natural accompaniments. It was a morning to go up to this somewhat remote location and just feel gratitude for being alive and for what life has so far made of us.

We visited the farmer’s market down at the base of the mountain before zooming past the vast Pacific Ocean shimmering a blue I had never ever seen before as light rippled a billion melodies simultaneously off of crisp, crashing waves. It was the start to a day that declared its unequivocal intensity of perfected-dom with each wave of its own unfolding.

My boss was glowing, certainly not because I was twenty minutes late, but because I was twenty minutes late and was coming from temple, this signifying a new fold in what can safely be said from her perspective is my sheer and utter mysterious quality of developing. She has always been of the position in favor of people who have grown up with a religious upbringing. Very old school. Very school indeed. It seems she feels that people who practice religion are morally superior. As offensive as this has always been to me, I cast that aside for now and can say I don’t even know how I feel about religion personally. I would say though, that the sound of Sanskrit chants being performed in temple, when done well, have the potential to bring out something fundamental about myself- as if I become witness to an ancient tomb of heredity experience unspooling from within me into my cultural past. It is something mysterious, like I must be to Lydia: A true curious specimen.

We packed my mom’s paintings up. Over the last two days, Lydia and I have been clearing out the storage area. We have done this in stages over the last seven years. You can’t even imagine how impossible it was to move around in that place. After this morning, it was a work of art in and of itself, something to be exquisitely proud of. But more so, this pride of accomplishment is the first we have shared in seven years. It was like, all of those seemingly lost years of hating each other, hating life and generally being miserable had somehow reversed its momentum, halted periodically, and now we found ourselves deep into the sixth or seventh iteration of this storage war—I had been the gopher, wheeling out stacks of overstuffed and yellowed boxes that looked more like gnarly and epic sandwiches in another world—For while she more easily moved about this time around, I caught her becoming decisive and sure to let go of that that had bore its administrative weight on her through both the ugly, the gloried and the dark years of her non-profit organization. I piled the boxes on top of the dolly and eventually filled the newly-emptied dumpster well above its brim. Sometimes, it’s sad to see the entirety of one’s life being thrown out as surely as that, but noticing Lydia’s effulgent disposition, I couldn’t help but see someone who at eighty-four years old, was looking toward the future or at least, letting go of the past to some degree. Is it possible that the unknown, the end of your life, can also be a new beginning?

The Thai artists arrived with their works of art in suitcases. I had had the walls freshly spackled, sanded and painted as I do before the beginning of a show that is about to be hung. We hung the show easily, but only because I sensed a certain shift in my attitude that in recent times had become one of letting go also. Moving forward was the key now to which the root of this actual moving forward begins consciously, with the breath, and letting go of it. Though the conditions are most of the times never ideal, learning to breathe (something my yoga teachers have been repeating forever now) is the key to operating out of love rather than out of selfishness. So that when the day is ideal as this one today, operating on this basis transforms it into a killer song.

For a moment, it was Baltimore

Things were getting hectic tonight. I hadn’t left the house all day. I had a headache that clouded over it. It hit me like an onslaught in the middle of the night. I had to readjust in bed over and over for the sinus pain to divert or just dull into the background. When I woke up, I decided to make coffee to take the edge off (which it usually does). I worked on a drawing and did little else besides make eggs, toast and leftover pasta from the night before, for lunch. The day was looking pretty deadlocked and looked like it was going to end strangely and without even a feint purpose, save for the fact that I had drawn and that made me feel almost alright. Then, slowly, my roommates trickled in. First Wisarut came in, set his stuff down and took a seat on the chair with a sigh in the dark. Something wasn’t right with him. Then Kiem came in. I set up Skype on my computer. We all lightly conversed for a few minutes. Wisarut went into his room and strummed his guitar while Kiem started preparing dinner. Then I noticed a message from Ms. Vicki Sun. It had been a long time since we caught up. We messaged hardily. She is one of the few tough and knowledgable people who can really get to the heart of any, matter of the heart. The conversation was uplifting. Suddenly, emotion overcame the living room. What was with the world today? Why were things so unexplainable? I was starting to get cabin fever and now it was peaking. I wanted to lighten the load. After Kiem retired for the evening, I asked Wisarut if he wanted to go on a nighttime walk. He obliged. Time to get some fresh air and fresh air we did. It was dewey. It was finally Spring.

We walked down to Los Angeles Street before turning right. There was a rare, majestic stillness in the air, in the lack of sounds, people or much of anything except the distant hum of a bus or gentle wheeze of an old Japanese car. Because it was so quiet, every little thing was audible. You could pick up on isolated sounds. The city was turned off, as if in its own form of heaving, vacated slumber. It left empty calm in its wake and tiny creatures to nominally rustle about. Wisarut took pictures along the way. I was also egging him on. This was a walk in its truest sense. The kind where there is no goal except to discover shit along the way. As we got up to Broadway, things started becoming ever so desolate. Abandon buildings for sale: humongous megalithic tombs of a time long forgotten. The ruins. As we crept down Broadway even further, there were no more tall buildings at all. The night sky opened wide in plain view with the lone three-quarter’s full moon dangling over the night sky’s edge. There in this stretch, I felt overcome. An innocence I had forgotten about that echoed in the old forgotten buildings on the strip. Though mostly abandoned, it was clear this strip had not bore the blows of a developer’s whims. On the contrary, there was a feeling that everything here had been left as it was since maybe around the 60’s, had seen populations rise and fall in them, and had merely and amicably faded – their untouched histories quietly alive pouring forth and miraculously intact. The sky at this point was opened in its full scope. The small, milky moon was bright and untethered. Redwoods sprouted up like pointing fingers out of the crumbling sidewalks, their outlines looking cartoon against the moon’s light. This was it! I thought. I wasn’t expecting to see this expanse, here, in this desolate part of Downtown. Far from that. I felt at once that the time was unclear and that at any moment, we might see a lightened blue break at the horizon’s edge in what would be a virgin sunrise, one that I hadn’t experienced – in the sense in which this could happen anywhere in the world, a state of mind – since living in the dorms in Baltimore, freshman year. There and then, we were on the top story, Western edge facing South toward the inner harbor. The sunrises there were brilliant and shot through the windows with astonishing purpose or urgency. The orange break, a musty, darkened ochre orange followed by all of the rest of it ensuing drama bespoke the innocent yellow splash of light that sailed inside, prying my tired eyes open as I sat at a computer in the vestibule along with a cup of coffee listening to songs off of my roommate Nick’s Napster. The yellow sharpened along with the sharp cold air. Because all-nighters were altogether common that year in particular, those memories of sunrise are particularly etched into my memory, triggered now by standing on a desolate, industrial strip here at night; one that I thought I’d never revisit when I left Baltimore. But here I was in Los Angeles, shedding myself of signifiers, and plainly inhaling the fresh, moist air in an industrial landscape in the still of the night. I had come back full circle in some way, to something I had missed and didn’t know it. Once in a while, I am reminded of the need of a life much more simple that reminds me of a home I once had, where the only thing in my thoughts, was nothing whatsoever.

Walk Photos by Wisarut Wattanachote

Swinging

Swinging

It was narrow and long.

It was narrow and long.

This one was slanted

This one was slanted

At the Edge

At the Edge

Love..

I have taken a liking/longing to my new parking lot, though it took me a little while to get used to it. I used to enjoy the transition of mobility between my house, the walk over to the lot and the 5 min. drive, usually through Skid Row to work. (San Pedro is way more cruise-able than the kitsch-pitsch Los Angeles St. (In Hindi, kitsch-pitsch is an expression of “rubbish”, which is exactly how Los Angeles St. is, in its total (mis)conception.)

The old lot was a few blocks away and it got me into a rhythm of you know, waking up, and at least getting some 3 blocks of sunshine/air on the walk to the car. I know it’s a small thing, but it actually made my transition from house to vehicle to work very full(filling).

However, when I realized what a shady operation the parking lot was, I had to – on principle – GTFO! I was sorry to leave this open-air spot because it’s spaciousness gave my mind a lot of room to stretch out and be in. It is always better when things flow.

The new lot looked totally shady, but was recommended by my building’s manager. I am realizing it is better to take people I know on their word of mouth these days. It strengthens an ever-strengthening social fabric. I should learn to trust people more. When I first arrived, the middle-aged (but not from the Middle Ages) blonde lady took one look at me and made an exception. Space is extremely strained Downtown. A good parking space is something to covet. The new lot was and is an unusual operation, but I didn’t know how entertaining and comical it would be! The lady has definite matron-hood over this joint! She runs the tightest ship. She keeps a golf cart around and cruises up and down floors! Lol! She has three younger, core workers who know if your car is being blocked, or where your keys are if you give them up (you give them up if you are going to be blocking someone). And, they are all incredibly sweet, honest and knowledgeable. They all look like they could be siblings. But I somehow don’t they actually are. That is just to say that there is a seriously familial vibe happening up in this biatch!

The building itself is like a funhouse from the 70’s. It reminds me of places like Fantastic Nathan’s (it was an indoor amusement park at Cinderella City Mall in Englewood, Colorado  full of mazes, inflatable castles, dank caves, glow in the dark rooms and much much more.) because of the awesomely trippy paint job. (But I think it won’t be that way for long)

You have to be SO careful because if you’re literally a couple inches off, you’ll wreck your car! That is because there are pillars every 10 feet to navigate through. And they’re painted an acidic forest green, while the walls are painted a bright turquoise and acidic blue! Hahaha!!! All of this though, is, of course become its charm. A super-narrow and super steep, spiraling ramp takes you up to the second and third floors. I run up and down this thing because it is superior to the rather straightforward stairwell. Both second and third floors are equally cramped and precarious to maneuver. But you know what? All of this dissipates because it is all managed well enough. When you are comfortable with people, everything changes and even tight spaces like this begin to feel….roomy. They are always moving cars, making more room and never losing their cool, though I imagine she definitely knows how to negotiate high-pressure situations.

In recent weeks, I became impressed by this Lego-like structure and the owners. A major overhaul/renovation overtook the outside lot and inside structure. little by little, workers appeared in teams. And just like that, my trips up to my car were highlighted by little improvements and additions. A resurfaced wall here and a newly-paved landing there. Next, they unfolded scaffolding throughout the building inside the structure and outside in the lot. Then, they mounted wire mesh screen throughout. Finally, over the course of just a day or two, resurfaced the whole thing in freshly-applied mortar. Awesome! I have a very primal response to this kind of activity. It reminds me of how they do things in India. It’s like when you lack modern equipment, you just go with other tried-and-true methods. Weirdly though, it feels like a home. Weirdly! To be a part of something where people are actually doing something good and doing good by others, is simply a loving environment. You go the extra miles when you love.

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Enter A Drawing

Image

The jacket interested me because I knew eventually that I would need to devise a decisive and sensible strategy to make it flow: There are a lot of creases and folds. Eventually, I learned to map the largest creases until they created an overall picture. Then I worked in. But it is not that factual, nor that cold. After all, I am making a drawing. I am not making an object.

or —>

Untitled Drawing

Graphite on paper, 2012