Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Just Another Day

Today, on my 39th birthday, I am not doing much of anything.

I haven't turned down any offers.

I'm not missing out on anything.

I just have nothing to do.

And on a day like today, I'd like to avoid disappointment.

Disappointment has plagued me worse than regret anyway.

Today, on my birthday....

...I woke up too early.

...I burned my breakfast.

...I have no plan.

I'll spend the day alone. I'll try to protect myself from the world. I'll try to find joy in little things. I'll wait for it to be over.

I thought I was finally going to have a date on my birthday, but that didn't work out as planned.

And there's no one else here to throw the party for me.

So after a day like any other, a day far less exciting than many of my other days, tonight I'll sit myself at my favorite bar with a glass of cheap red wine, and I'll wonder if anyone I invited will join me.

And if they don't, at least I'll know I tried. I've been afraid of no one showing up to the party for the last four birthdays, so I haven't invited anyone until now.

But if I don't invite anyone, surely no one will come.

Related Posts:
Disappointments, I've had a few...
The End of My 30s
My First Birthday Alone in LA

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The End of My 30s

I started my 30s off with a bang – or, rather, a flying leap out of a small plane 13,000 feet off the ground. But while I tried to kick off this fourth decade of my life with a healthy dose of excitement and adventure, as I embark on my last year of it, it feels like I'm going out with a whimper.

In like a lion, out like a lamb.

I've been so strong most of my life, despite all the adversity I've faced. And now I feel so weak.

I don't want to be 39.

I don't want to be single.

And I certainly don't want to be 39 and single.

To be honest, I thought I'd be married by now. 

When I turned 30, every woman older than me told me to look forward to the years to come – that I would stop worrying, that I would learn acceptance, that I would calm down, that I would settle down.

That hasn't happened yet. I am as lonely as ever. And as I get older, I have increasingly less opportunity to remedy that – especially now that I live in LA, and am never the most beautiful, interesting, or successful woman in the room. 

I am facing a life in decline.

I feel like I'm approaching some imminent expiration date stamped on my soul.

I am souring, curdling, fermenting, spoiling, decomposing.

Things have not gotten better for me. The last six years have been the manifestation of a full-blown crisis. And somehow, though I never thought it possible, the last six months have gotten even worse.

I am not working

I am not needed, despite my frequent attempts to be helpful, and to repay my karmic debt. 

Though I receive the occasional brief respite, I am often unnoticed.

I have little to look forward to.

But my 30s have one more year to prove themselves to me – to show me that things can turn around, that there is a reason to celebrate another year on this earth.

Is it possible that one day, I could live life so happily, I'll finally have something to be nostalgic about?

Related Post:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Photo Essay: Exploring Schindler at the MAK Center

Austrian architect Rudolph Schindler was first sent to LA by Frank Lloyd Wright to oversee his Hollyhock House project (in Barnsdall Art Park, now named after oil heiress Aline Barnsdall).

But instead of moving back to Vienna, he stayed in Southern California and designed 500 projects, 150 of which were actually built.

Two of them are easily accessible for visiting (and sometimes for sound and video installations and other art projects) via the MAK Center.

The MAK Center is headquartered at Schindler's house and studio (now known simply as the Schindler House) in West Hollywood...

...on Kings Road, where Schindler and his wife lived.

Built in 1922, it's an example of early modern architecture...

...conceived as an experiment in communal living...

...where two couples (four individuals) were meant to cohabit.

Like many of the modernist homes that followed later (like the Schaffer House, the Stahl House)...

...the Schindler House seamlessly integrates the inside with the outside...

...letting plenty of light in...

...and giving a generous view of the outdoors.

Similarly, the Mackey Apartments complex (located about four miles away in Mid-City)...

...was also split into four sections...

...each its own unique unit...

...(probably designed for more than one person each).

The building has since been split into five units...

...each with their own unique character – including patios, gardens and balconies...

...built-in furniture...

...and complex design.

The Republic of Austria purchased the building in 1995...

...and the Central Office of Architecture began restoration work that same year.

The complex also features a new addition...

...called the Garage Top...

...which features a box cantilevered over five renovated garages on the ground floor, no longer used as a car park but instead for special exhibitions and artist spaces, particularly for those artists and architects completing their six month residencies there.

The MAK Center also operates a third site, the Fitzpatrick-Leland House in the Hollywood Hills (1936), also available for tours but used primarily as an event space. Photos forthcoming (I hope).

Related Post:
Photo Essay: Barnsdall Art Park's Hollyhock House, Closed for Renovations

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Photo Essay: Landing on Another Planet, An Hour Outside of LA

You don't have to go far from LA in order to leave this planet.

I mean, sure, we are surrounded by the intellectual exploration of the skies and of space – from Mt. Wilson Observatory to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory – but I mean actually walk on terrain that's other-worldly enough to make you think you've been transported to another planet.

Just go to Vasquez Rocks.

After all, it was interplanetary enough for Star Trek to use it to depict several different planets.

The jagged rock formations – pushed up by activity along the San Andreas Fault –

...have also provided shelter for notorious bandits in real life...

...and have masqueraded as Tibet, India, the Old West...

...and, of course, Bedrock (for the live-action movie version of The Flintstones).

Although people do hike there...

...it's a good spot for a meander...

...where it's difficult to get lost...

...and there's lots to see along the various pathways...

...including the easy and scenic Geology Trail.

In the spring, you'll even find some wildflowers there...

...though the arid landscape and craggy terrain is more reminiscent of the Mojave Desert to the north...

...than to the Angeles National Forest to the south.

However, when most people arrive to Vasquez Rocks, they do not walk –

...they climb.

The peaks beckon...

...and their scrambling limbs disappear among them.

 I stand below, on solid ground, listening for screams of terror and calls for help, scanning the geology for tumbling bodies and any other signs of those in need of rescue.

But those that can climb, do.

And those that can't, observe and document.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Garden of the Gods
Photo Essay: Stoney Point, at the Santa Susana Pass
Photo Essay: Red Rock Canyon, Mojave Desert
Photo Essay: Another Red Rock
Photo Essay: Painted Rocks at Fort Irwin

Monday, September 22, 2014

Left Behind

Up until now, I was always the one to leave.

Sure, my parents abandoned me emotionally, but they were always there physically. When we became estranged, they kicked me out of their house. They made me leave. I had to find somewhere else to sleep.

I was the one who went away to college.

I was the one who left her first boyfriend behind to study abroad in London.

I was the one who quit her favorite job ever to move to New York City.

I was the one who left all of her friends back in New York to move across the country and start a new life in LA.

I didn't know what it was like to be left behind. I was always moving forward.

Until now.

Sure, I've been left before – my affections spurned, romantic advances rejected – but now I find myself holding down the fort in LA while someone I love is gone for two months. And he wasn't exactly mine anymore when he left. And I don't know if I'll be his when he returns.

Two months is a long time.

I remember I'd only been dating my first boyfriend Seth for a month and a half, maybe two months when I had to leave for London in the Summer of 1995. Our relationship was so new that we knew we'd have to break up before I left, but we spent so much time together right before my departure, at the last minute we both kind of looked at each other and said, "We don't have to break up, do we?" That August day I left, he dropped me off at the train station to say goodbye, and I sobbed as I tried to hoist my luggage full of four months' supplies onto the overhead rack.

I was a mess when I arrived in Hudson, NY to join my future roommate on the way down to JFK for our flight to London. It was my first flight ever, and I was anxious, nervous, and most of all, heartbroken.

But then I arrived at Heathrow, took a black cab to pick up the keys to our new flat, arrived in Kilburn Park, and started to settle in. I met my new flatmates and classmates that lived across the courtyard. I started drinking and forgetting. I moved on more quickly than I ever expected.

Right away I started receiving letters and phone calls from Seth. I didn't always answer the phone. The distance from him was too great, and after such a short period of time dating, I started to doubt everything we'd experienced together. I grew cold to his affections. Even though he sent me flowers on my birthday and wrote the most loving things to me, I didn't believe him.

I recently recovered a couple of those letters from storage boxes, and, in reading them, terribly regret how I treated him. He always considered our breakup temporary. He wrote that he would only consider himself complete with my hand in his. That my competition was none. That I remained in the future. That he was mine without question.

I don't know why those words didn't make my heart melt back then. I don't know why I didn't believe him.

No one has ever said anything like that to me since. I don't think anyone has ever felt that way about me since.

Instead of writing him back, talking with him and reassuring him, I had sex with other people, even though I knew that was the last thing he wanted me to do. After I'd been gone for two months and acting increasingly distant, his letters began to express his worry. He asked if everything was OK. He tried to make me jealous by talking about other girls.

When I finally got home in December, I didn't call him right away, though I knew he expected me to. When we finally did talk on the phone, he admitted that his ex-girlfriend (the one with whom I likely overlapped when I started dating him) wanted to get back together with him.

"Maybe you should go do that," I said. And that was it. We were really broken up. I didn't want to come home to him. I'd lived a whole lifetime in four months in London, and I was a different person than the virgin girl he'd taken out dancing the summer before. I was hardened by city life, and by the world. I'd experienced other men, and women.

Granted, I was only 19 years old when I left, and turned 20 while I was away. I didn't know anything. When I came back, Seth said that he had been in love with me, but I didn't believe that, either. After all, although I'd liked him very much, and I'd loved having a boyfriend, I didn't love him. I couldn't imagine him loving me.

And now I do love someone, and I'm the one who's been left behind. I thought my heart would grow cold again – I looked forward to the separation, so I could move on – but my heart still beats hot and hard. I'm not moving on. I'm waiting for the days to pass. I'm hoping to wake up from a coma two months from now so I don't have to wait the entire time out.

I don't know what's going to happen when he comes back. Considering what I did to my first boyfriend when I was the one to leave, I probably deserve however he treats me, having lost whatever love he once had for me in the time since. Maybe he'll meet another girl. Maybe he'll remember things differently. Maybe he'll want something new and unfamiliar when he gets back to LA.

There's no way I can know. All I can do is wait it out.

Related Post:
To Leave, and Not Be Left Behind
These Unavoidable Regrets