This is what it looks like to celebrate your 34th birthday in Paso Robles, if you’re me. The area is as magical today as it was when we got married there about two and a half years ago, though it has become very popular. Thankfully, despite the region’s exposure locals are still as friendly and chill as ever. I can’t wait to return again - we won’t wait so long between visits - but in the meantime have plenty of delicious Paso wines to drink at home in Los Angeles. Here’s to a great year ahead!
Ray is back. With his buddy Dan. I am thrilled.
My birthday is right around the corner so naturally I turned directly to February 22nd in the Year of the Horse calendar we got as a parting gift from our waitress at the new fraiche Vietnamese restaurant near our home in Culver City. I’m not sure if this is a ‘fortune’ for those born on 2/22, but sheesh, what a message:
Ardently doing one’s duty today for - who knows? - tomorrow death may come. There is no bargaining with Death and his mighty horde.
I’ve already been pondering death a lot more lately - since isn’t understanding death really about learning how to live a full, satisfying life? - so this seems right on target for me personally, but it is a bit more doom and gloom than one want to consider as a birthday message.
Happy (almost) birthday to me!
The Point: A Collage of “The Entrance” to Cheviot Hills
What is this a photo of?
If you said a three-story apartment building being upgraded to new low water waste toilets you are correct!
It has recently been suggested that I should work on the way I present myself. I come across as, well, negative. Because one rarely gets constructive criticism presented directly to their face, especially the kind you know is being imparted from a well-meaning source, it is important to seriously consider.
As the wise words on the paperweight above suggest, you should always be yourself. One should really focus on finding success as themselves because, as the Oscar Wilde saying goes, everyone else is taken. But is there a place between being your authentic self and presenting that self in a way which is palatable to others, as a means to an end?
In thinking about my alleged negativity, I returned to my childhood dinner table where in order to stand out you needed to share one heck of a story. I recall crafting my news of the day as the tale of an underdog success. After a challenging time studying for a Spanish test, tons of other work (who assigns three chapters of Moby Dick in one night?!) and spending hours at an away basketball game we didn’t even win, I still achieved a C+ on that evil Spanish test: my best grade yet that semester. My C+ news would never compete with the achievements of my siblings sharing the table, so I spun a truth highlighting my triumph against adversity. This was hardly necessary all the time (I had my own successes), but wasn’t good news that much better when it came after an explanation of obstacles overcome?!
I wonder if it was then that I got in the bad habit of making my actions look better by contrasting them against the potential disaster that might have been. Over time maybe I felt my successes, which did not come as a result of pulling off a feat as amazing as leaping tall buildings while being chased by Godzilla, but rather genuine skills I acquired from hard work and practice, still could not stand on it’s own. I wanted the situation to almost fall apart only to rise again from the ashes to great success - giving chapters of my life the arc of a movie. It makes sense that someone as obsessed with movies as I am would unconsciously link her own life to a typical film structure.
Or maybe I’m over thinking it all. Maybe I just need to learn to read the room better and not be so jibber-jabbery (as my husband accurately describes me sometimes). Maybe there’s a way to focus on the positive and let the negative go, releasing the qualifiers. Maybe in doing that I will reveal a more authentic me.
Today we made a quick visit to the Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City to see the current exhibit called "The Power of Photography". Comprised entirely of brilliant images pulled from the pages of National Geographic magazine, the exhibit reminded me of my love of photography and the strength of an image.
Though I hadn’t thought about it in years, upon stepping into the exhibit I recalled reading my grandmother’s issues of National Geographic as a kid. Specifically, an issue where African women had massive plates stretching their lips and earlobes. The pictures scared me because the subject matter was so foreign and I assumed the woman was in pain. But it was a bright, cheerful photograph and the entire article was dedicated to documenting and understanding a tribe’s traditions. In a world before the Internet that magazine was as close as I came to a teleportation device into worlds very different from my own.
Today’s photographs, along with a wonderful video documentary highlighting the work of six photographers, including Joel Sartore and Lynsey Addario, moved me. Their passion for storytelling, authentic and honest storytelling, was inspiring and admirable. Their work can save lives, change political policy, expose hidden truths and educate, but it all takes heart and dedication. It was a pleasure to not only see a retrospective of National Geographic’s best work, but to better understand the passionate people contributing to its long term success.
I recommend a visit before it wraps on April 27th and suggest you allot no less than 90 minutes. The documentary is 30 minutes and after you see it you’ll want to experience the whole exhibit over again with fresh eyes. Remember that Annenberg exhibits are always free. I’m not sure how they do it, but I’m so very thankful they do!
Part of my job is being responsible for maintaining the weekly food deliveries for employees. Monday Bagels, Tuesday Fruit and Friday Donuts. Not one to eat donuts a lot, I figured I could easily avoid the weekly temptation. But I hadn’t counted on the magic that is a Stan’s donut.
Stan and his lovely wife Ina have been providing the people of Los Angeles with top notch donuts since 1965. The city of Westwood doesn’t just give any old donut guy the role of Grand Marshall in their 4th of July parade. That’s left to a special person who brings joy to the world - like Stan.
Sure, he offers up traditional bear claws, glazed donuts, apple fritters and an array of donut holes but the real magic is inside of the "World Famous" peanut butter filled chocolate glazed donut with mini chocolate chips on top. I fell in love with this donut. And anyone who loves peanut butter will too.
Having lived in LA for more than a decade I was shocked I didn’t know about Stan’s so I was relieved to learn that others did know about this jewel of our fair city. One friend told me her love of Stan’s was well known at work so one birthday her assistant brought a different type of donut into her office on the hour, every hour, throughout her special day. While not a super healthy gift, I can hardly think of a more delicious one.
Locals - Check it out if you haven’t already. Visitors - Put Stan’s on your LA “To Eat” List for sure. Everyone - You’re welcome, and enjoy!
*Photo courtesy of Thursday Night Baking Blog.
This was the second, and best, dog in a sidecar wearing sunglasses that I saw today. I always come across something wonderful on my Sunday walks to the Mar Vista Farmer’s Market.