30 June 2017

happy place

Still from my film, "The Call of the Running Tide."
Still from my film, "The Call of the Running Tide."  
Set photo from "The Call of the Running Tide."

I have two true happy places: under the surface and the big comfy chair.

The big comfy chair is where I'm writing this. It's 00:13. My brain is a riot, and I'm missing my other happy space.

It was discovered on accident. I was at a Girl Scout pool party at the Perry's, and a friend (J.?) asked how long I could hold my breath in the jacuzzi. Curious, competitive, eager to please, I took a big gulp of air and went below the surface. I spider-manned against the bench walls, holding myself under. After settling flat underneath, my back to the cement, I listened. Bubbles whirled around me but it silenced my mind, giving me one thing to focus on, one task––internal breath. With this ability to relax under water –– to find comfort in it –– I did pretty well in this non-competition. I hit the surface with a big intake of air and slouched against the chipping tiles.  We spent the rest of the time talking about skin tags and third nipples before it was time to get out of the water. Our leaders (my mom and Mrs. P) sat us on the itchy grass for a discussion regarding cookie sales and the upcoming gift wrapping paper season.

This discovery of underwater clarity did not hit me consciously until a few years later. One particularly hot summer in the SGV, I went for a swim. I found a pair of goggles some friends left behind, and reveled in this crisp and pain-free view of our chlorine-tinted pool. Bored, slightly tired, and a little weird, I rested my calves on the rim of the pool. My fingers plugged my nose and backwards I peddled, as my one free arm maneuvered my oxygenated body down, parallel to the pool wall. I still see it in my head when I think about it: the world upside-down, the surface reflecting the sky above like unset jell-o. From down below, I could hear nothing but my blood pumping in my ears. My full focus was on the pair of birds playing tag on the wavering telephone wire above. I watched this until my lungs ached with desperation, and I finally tore my legs off their awkward resting place.

I find a sense of calm in the water. I've taken naps out on the ocean turbulence, where the waves don't crash and the sun beats down warmly on my eyelids. I've taken laps underwater, riding the pool floor until my eyesight begins to dim. I still hold myself in the nook of the hot-tub, listening to the cacophony of the jets as they whirl around me, swishing my hair in every direction.

From the back seat of my car, my cousin asked earlier today what place is most ideal for me. I answered in a laundry list of memory: laying on carpeted floor listening to music, sitting by a fire with a book, watching lightning erupt across the sky, a cuppa and the quiet company of my dogs. While these moments are serene, none of these hold a flame to the calm I find in the deep blue.

22 June 2017


do i live a life worth telling stories about?

I was just at this concert and my little sister got to talking about being on a tv show, going into detail about all the crazy stuff she had to do. the guy talking to us turns to me and asks, "She was on tv , what about you? What crazy stuff have you done?"

My mind went blank. I've done a lot of cool stuff... I'm justifying all this now, but I haven't lived all too boring of a life –– I've eaten a free Michelin meal in Erfurt, I've ridden around Paris at midnight on the back of a motorcycle, I've taken a jet ski deep into a sandstone crevice with walls 50 feet up on both sides –– these are moments that make me feel alive. What did I tell this stranger? I told him that i took my pants off for a film, once. A student film. Why? Was I tying to be edgy, to relate to my little sister who excels in front of the camera?

See the arrows? That's my dad and his boarding school friends
When i'm 50, am i going to have stories to tell my kids? My dad's prime performance is warming up dinner guests with stories about his adventures as a    r e b e l l i o u s   y o u t h     in Pakistan. He jumped ditches with his motorcycle, he backpacked along the mountains with his friends (where he stumbled upon mounds of heroin and men with big guns), he was an all around varsity player, a defender of the nerds. What will I say?

I've traveled a lot of places, taken a lot of pictures, been on a lot of sets - yet constantly I am always behind the camera. I capture other people living a life worth talking about, worth photographing. when am i ever telling mine? Maybe I should be in front of the lens more often.

Woman turns her gaze to the streets of Riga

I think about this on the drive home from the concert. As my ears ring from being close to the stage, my head fills with these thoughts of being lesser-than, boring, forgettable. I passed under orange lights on the freeway, my mind adrift in a state of bad news.

I can list off things I've done, or know how to do. My go-to is the time I went couchsurfing in paris, where I rode on the back of my host's motorcycle while we cruised around the city at midnight. I did a lot when I studied abroad: 
I experienced so many firsts in terms of adventure and independence, however it's hitting me now that all of this is in the past. It's memory. I don't want stories of when I'm 21 to be the only stories I tell.

What have I done since then? I've travelled a lot. Held some glow-in-the-dark algae in my cupped hand. I went camping for the first time. I worked on a feature film (hey, leena). I took up rock climbing and yoga. I'm going surfing on saturday.... all this yet I feel inadequate. I feel like I need to one-up my little sister to these strangers at a concert in Echo Park.

Marty got Cooper halfway through his fight against cancer

I could write a book on all the things that strangers have told me in coffee shops or bookstores around los angeles. Therapy dogs, mothers dying, long-term marriage advice, restarting a career in graphic design, driving across the continental US the day after getting hitched. How many pages would a book about me take up? If all these people combined forces, if they all wrote down a take-away from our conversation, would it hold any substance?

01 June 2017

Itchy Feet

Wander azure streets as an auburn sun sets shadows down worn down cobblestones, set in place generations before in a nation of ever changing tides, where viewpoints crashed like pitchforks against blades of grass that, when piled high, acted as beds for napping boys. Each step you walk on unfamiliar land carries the weight of thousands before you, feet marching in the same direction but hands never greeting in a shake. 

23:12 May 23, 2017. 

Missing getting lost in unfamiliar lands. Here's a throwback to May 2016, Puerto Rico.