Posted in Family, Life, Relationships

It’s OK to be Single!

Next month, my younger cousin is getting married and for my paternal side of the family, that means that my sister and I will be the only single female first cousins remaining. Many family members love to point this out to us and bring up the usual slew of questions that all singletons loathe. When are you going to find yourself a good man and settle down? Aren’t you lonely? You aren’t getting any younger. Don’t you want to have babies?

My usual response to the “Don’t you want to settle down and get married?” inquisition is often “Sure. Once I find a man who is willing to marry me in a cemetery on Halloween at sunset and honeymoon in Transylvania, then I will get married and spawn.” The best part is that they think I am joking…those who know me know I am actually telling the truth.

I am 37 years old (turning 38 in October) and I have no problem with my single status. I was raised to be independent. I can bake a cake from scratch and while it is in the oven, I can build bookshelves, install a garbage disposal, fix a toilet, snake a drain and sew an apron or two. I can take care of things myself and I cringe when someone tells me that I need to find a man to take care of me.

Many of my friends went to college for their MRS degree; I went to follow my dreams. Yes, there was a time where I thought I would meet the right guy while at college and we would get married, have kids, etc.–the Midwestern life path. But that didn’t happen for me. I met a lot of Mr. Wrongs. I was trying to figure myself out and many guys came in trying to change me or mold me into what they wanted me to be.

I know who I am and I finally like the person I have become. I won’t change that for any guy. I also won’t go back to hiding certain aspects of my life. If the right guy comes along then he will accept me for me–the light, the dark, the crazy and everything in-between.

He would have to accept that I am very independent–I am a self-rescuing Princess. If he wants a damsel in distress, then I am not the girl he is looking for.

My career is important to me so I would need him to understand the entertainment industry and not flip-out when we attend events with celebrities. Celebrities are just people who make a lot more money than the rest of us.

And I wouldn’t want to be with someone whose only interest in me is my career. I have had to deal with guys trying to use me for my work connections, hoping it will help them with their own careers. But I am now an expert at spotting those guys–and there are so many of them here in LA.

Speaking of LA, I am also a curvy girl. I am not a skinny minnie, “please feed me” supermodel looking kind of woman. I have large breasts–and they are real, not silicone. They actually move and if you ever see me run, I would be holding them so I don’t give myself two black eyes.

And right now, I am not in the best shape. My body has taken a toll from all the grief and stress over the past 15 months. I used to be thin but I have packed on 20 pounds thanks to comfort food. It would be nice to have a guy who would be interested in getting healthy again with me, maybe even encourage me. I used to hike every day and workout 5 times a week plus dancing–I am working on getting back to being that version of myself and would need someone who understands that.

Here in LA there is a pressure to look a certain way and I don’t look like that. I hate wearing make-up. I don’t like that whole “getting ready” process of hair, make-up and dressing all girly. I can do it. Sometimes I have to do it but thank God for my girlie girl friends and my gay guy friends who will help.

I also have cats. I only have two so I haven’t hit crazy cat lady status yet but my cats are my furbabies. If I had a bigger place, I would also have dogs. All my babies come from rescue shelters and I do have to be careful because I would take them all home if I could.

I am also a big GEEK. I have the same birthday as Carrie Fisher (which I have discussed with her several times) and I am a huge Star Wars fan. Not liking Star Wars is a deal breaker for me (they don’t have to love it like I do but they do have to like it enough to watch the movies) and pretending to like Star Wars will definitely not fly with me. He wouldn’t have to attend all the conventions with me but he would have to be able to understand my love for all things Han and Leia.

He would also have to understand and accept my love for Dracula. For me, Dracula links me to my late father. My Dad was a huge Bela Lugosi fan and he always dressed up as Dracula for Halloween when we were kids. He even named our dog Bela. I have also befriended the Lugosi family so my Dracula collection is priceless to me.

And of course, Halloween is my all-time favorite holiday. I was born on October 21st so Halloween is a part of me. I once had a Halloween themed bathroom just so I could keep the decorations out all year round (I also had a Bates Motel bathroom in my Reno apt). I have an entire storage space housing all of my Halloween decorations–and I like the scary decor, not the cutesy crap.

But even if a guy could handle the independence, the career, the curvy body, the anti-girly girl, the animal lover, the geekiness, and the love for Dracula, Halloween & the like, there is an aspect of my life that most men can’t get passed and some friends have trouble dealing with it as well. I descend from a long line of gypsies that left Italy and settled in West Virginia. I have inherited the familial “gifts,” along with several other family members. I have been able to see and hear spirits since I was a child. I have taken classes to hone and control these “gifts”–though my ability to know when people will die feels more like a curse than a gift. I guess you could label me as an empathic intuitive medium. Someone even called me a lightworker and a natural healer. I have also studied shamanism. The geek girl in me likes to say that I am Force sensitive–the Force is strong in my family.

So, as you can see there is a lot going on and I haven’t found a guy who can handle me–all of me. Maybe I will find him, maybe I won’t. I am good with being alone. Yes, it would be nice to have an understanding partner-in-crime that I could drag to work events, movie screenings and comic conventions but I have friends and an awesome intern/assistant that often step in as my plus one. I would rather remain single instead of settling into a life with the wrong person.

I would hope that if my family truly wants me to be happy then they will just accept that this is the life that I have chosen for myself and whatever will happen will happen. They see me as “37” but I see myself as “only 37.” I still have a lot of life ahead of me and I still have so much to do. I am trying not to focus on what I don’t have. I am grateful for what I do have. I am OK as I am so there really is no need to continue the inquisition. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Thank you and good night!

Advertisements
Posted in Family, Life, Relationships, Spirituality

Something Strange Happened: Signs From My Dad

I spent most of yesterday bedridden, recovering from an allergic reaction to food contaminated with black pepper (yes, I am allergic to black pepper), and I opted to binge watch shows on Netflix. At some point in the evening a close friend texted me asking for advice. During our text conversation, I opted to pull a tarot card for her. I grabbed the deck I use most often and took out the major arcana cards, leaving the minor arcana in their pouch. I proceeded with a one card reading for her then placed them face d20160407_210740.jpgown on my bed. After a few minutes, I decided I should make myself some tummy tea and headed into the kitchen. I noticed that both my cats were in the living room, fast asleep with one on the couch and the other on a cat bed (resting up for their nightly 3am crazy house run). When I returned to my bedroom with my cup of tea in hand, I noticed that the minor arcana cards had slipped out of their pouch, perhaps when I climbed out of bed, and only one card was flipped over. I set my tea on the night stand and leaned over to see that it was the Ace of Cups trying to get my attention. I sat down on the bed just in time for my youngest cat, Elvira, to spring onto the bed, landing amongst the tarot cards before jumping to the top of her cat tree. Another tarot card flipped over, this time it was the Three of Pentacles. From previous tarot classes, I know that the Ace of Cups represents a new relationship and that the Three of Pentacles represents two lovers coming together to design/plan their future (often a marriage card). Considering I am single, the obvious conclusion is that someone is trying to tell me it is time to stop focusing on my career and start focusing on my love life. That someone would be my father.

Back in September, I went to my clairvoyance teacher, mentor and friend Adela Lavine for a medium reading with my Dad. Usually my Dad wants to talk about my brother, sister and my Mom. For the first time, he focused on his plans for me. “I raised you to be independent but not that independent.” He said that he was gifting me a man. He wanted me to have a family. He said that I had the career, now I needed the love.

My reaction to the reading…I pitched my first article to the magazine. I decided to continue working on my career. But my article just hit news stands this month so I guess my Dad is finding ways of reminding me of his plans for me. So my reaction to these strange new signs…I am heading to a production studio for a set visit for a possible story idea to pitch for my second article.

Posted in Life, Spirituality, Universe

I’m Free!!

My Death Arrow
My Death Arrow

Seven weeks ago, I started taking a level one Peruvian Shamanism course at The Green Man Store in North Hollywood. I have always been fascinated by Native American traditions and knowing that my Great Grandmother went to extremes in order to go to Peru (and possibly died there), Peruvian Shamanism just seemed like the appropriate next step in my spiritual journey.

But something was wrong. I didn’t feel like I was really connecting and I wasn’t sure why. Actually, it felt like my life was continually getting worse over the course of the class. My depression was coming back–it had been over a year since I had been in such a funk. My family on the other side of the country was taking turns in the hospital. My worry nerves were in overload. I try to be a fixer for my loved ones. It was hard facing the fact that there was nothing that I could do to make things better. Even worse, I was faced with learning that someone I cared deeply for didn’t want my help, he just wanted me to go away and let him be alone and depressed. Then this week culminated in a clusterfuck that just pushed me to the very edge. But tonight, I finally understood why.

The last seven weeks were so magical that I wasn’t even aware of the transformation that was happening in my life. I thought I was depressed and detached but I was actually healing. All of my issues were coming to the surface–one right after the other until they were all before me in this dark, massive mountain of denial. Then just two days ago, an Opossum literally forced me to see the light.

The apartment building next to mine has a motion light right by their dumpster. It shines right in my window whenever anyone throws out their trash. I was sitting on my couch when I noticed the light come on but I didn’t hear the sound of the dumpster. Maybe it wasn’t the light after all. Maybe it was someone using a flashlight and shining it outside my apartment. I grabbed my baseball bat and swung open the door–I was not going to allow someone to steal my gnomes again (whole other story). To my surprise, there was no one there but a rather large opossum sitting on the fence, staring at me. There was no hissing or running away. He just looked me in the eye. I greeted him and he appeared to acknowledge me with a nod before he switched directions on the fence and scurried off–heading West (which actually has meaning to me now).

I looked up the meaning of an opossum spirit animal and it talked about needing to come up with a strategy. Opossums are great actors–playing whatever part needed for survival. I finally realized that I have been doing that for a very long time. As I read more and more, I realized this was actually perfect and made complete sense in accordance to my current life status of chaos.

The following day, after the encounter with Mr. Opossum, I went to Hahamongna Watershed Park (where Devil’s Gate Dam is located). I was on my way home from work and I needed to get sticks to make death arrows for my final shamanism class. Once I found the perfect specimens, I decided to walk over to Devil’s Gate Dam, since I was there. On the power lines over what used to be a water filled dam (drought), I saw two crows looking at me. One stayed and the other flew away. I instantly thought, just like the two men in my life–one just left. So I looked up the meanings of the crow totem and for this particular situation, I would say I was being told to focus on my intuition and sight. I also believe the one crow leaving represents the loss of the male “friend; ” a loss that turned into a life-changing moment for me.

It was at this time that I noticed the sun had set and I better get back to my car. The park closes at sunset. I ran back just in time to see the police leave, locking the gates behind them. Yep, I was locked inside “Devil’s Gate Dam.” Just as I was about to lose it, this kind jogger came up to me and said that the officer knew he was jogging and had put the lock on the gate but it wasn’t actually locked. He kindly opened the gates for me so I could escape my imaginary park prison.

For me, that was the cherry on top of my mountain of denial. Little did I know, it was the last bit I needed to finally make my real “death arrow.” A death arrow is a representation of your need to bring death to certain parts of your life or your past to make way for new beginnings. So when I got home, I pulled out my yarn, matching the chakra colors, and took all my frustrations out on the making of my death arrow for our fire ceremony on the last day of class. I took the picture I had of myself and my former friend, wrapping it around the arrow. I used blue and green yarn to secure it as well as marking the love and communication problems that occurred throughout that relationship. It was finally time to let it all go.

I carefully chose each color and the order, wanting to make sure I dealt with everything that had surfaced over the last seven weeks. There it was, my real “death arrow.” I was so proud and beyond ready to let go. Bring on the new beginnings.

For the first time in weeks, I am happy and bubbly. I have high amounts of energy and I feel reconnected with my sight. Tonight, when I threw my death arrow into the fire during our ceremony, I got my fresh start. The heaviness, the depression, the self-doubt–it is all gone. I feel like a new person. I feel like I have a new outlook on life. I suddenly feel the need to dance around to “Disco Inferno.” I also have a clear mind as I begin creating a strategy to fix the other problems in my life. No more denial or “acting.” I know what I want and I am going after it because I’m free. I don’t have the past holding me back any longer. I am a phoenix rising from the ashes and I am ready to soar!

Posted in Endometriosis, Exploration, Life, Personal Challenge, Southern California, Spirituality

Learning Self-Awareness Through Yoga: Personal Challenge, Day 108 (1.2.13)

A while back, my acupuncturist, Dawna Ara, mentioned I should check out The Awareness Center in Pasadena during my personal challenge to try something new every day.  She mentioned that they practice Kundalini Yoga and that it could help me with the effects of Endometriosis.

A year and a half ago, my doctor realized that I was compensating for my Endo pain on my left side by favoring my right side.  My balance was off and over time, my right side became so much stronger than my left.  In fact, I couldn’t even balance on my left leg any longer and I was even walking differently.  I had started physical therapy but it was too costly.  Plus, my physical therapist had me doing the majority of the exercises on my own.  I was actually using my Wii and Yoga training through the Wii Fit.  But after my car accident last May, I stopped working on my Endo pain therapy and had to spend months focusing on recovering from my injuries on my neck and back.  Now that my neck and back are doing better, I can go back to focusing on my Endo management.  (I also need to work on losing the weight I gained from the depression following my accident).  Since Yoga was helping before, I figured I could start doing it again.  But this time, instead of only using my Wii and at home Yoga DVDs, I decided I would try out some classes.

Following Dawna’s advice, I went to The Awareness Center website to learn more about the Kundalini style of yoga.  According to the site, the history of this particular type of yoga is as follows:

Kundalini yoga is considered the most comprehensive system of yoga at is combines meditation, prayer, asana (physical postures), and pranayama (breathing exercises). “Kundalini” literally means “the curl of the lock of hair of the beloved.” This poetic metaphor refers to the flow of energy and consciousness that exists within each of us, enabling us to merge with the Universal Self. Yoga, literally translated as “divine union”, happens when the individual and universal consciousness are merged. The Upanishads, the sacred scriptures of Hinduism that date back to the fifth century B.C., provided a written description of Kundalini, although the oral tradition dates back even further. For thousands of years, this sacred science and technology was veiled in secrecy, passed along in the oral tradition from master to chosen disciple.

Kundalini Yoga was never taught publicly until Yogi Bhajan, Ph. D. challenged the age-old tradition of secrecy. In his compassionate wisdom, Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini Yoga to the United States in 1969. Since then, it has spread all over the world. He wrote, “I am sharing these teachings to create a science of the total self…It is the birthright of every human being to be healthy, happy and holy.” The master of Kundalini Yoga, and head of the Sikh faith for the Western Hemisphere, Yogi Bhajan also founded 3HO (The Healthy, Happy, and Holy Organization), a worldwide non-profit foundation that offers classes in Kundalini Yoga, meditation, vegetarian nutrition, and healthy life choices.

Kundalini Yoga was designed for the householder: those who live in the world, who have families and jobs, and who want to balance the inner and outer world. Kundalini Yoga fits the busy lives that most of us lead. It is effective, efficient and easy. People who practice Kundalini Yoga say they can feel changes in the body and psyche within a few minutes, and experience even deeper changes through regular practice. Although it can be practiced religiously each day, yoga is not a religion. A more accurate description of yoga would be to say that it is an ancient science.

The Awareness Center
Our mission is to provide you with a practice and technology to feel comfortable in your
body, connected and expressed in relationships, fulfilled in your life’s work and at
peace with yourself. Through Kundalini yoga and meditation as well as many other transformational practices, we are here to inspire, uplift and empower you.

Established in 1974, the Awareness Center began as a 3HO ashram in Altadena, run by founders Dr. Santokh and Suraj Khalsa. Everyone remembers the big white house on the top of New York Drive. It has been through many changes over the years, but the one thing that has remained constant is the offering of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation to the Pasadena community. Anyone who has visited the center knows that The Awareness Center is a family. It still evokes a comfortable feeling of “home”, a feeling that leads students to deeper states of relaxation and renewal. The Awareness Center affirms that by using the body and mind through exercise, breath, and meditation, you can balance and revitalize your nerves and glands, clear past blocks, and bring harmony and peace to your life.

The Awareness Center is now owned and operated by Wahe Guru Kaur/Gisela Powell. She is committed to honoring the wisdom and teachings from the past and to expanding our Kundalini Yoga family well into the future.

The Awareness Center is located on Foothill Blvd, just east of Daisy.  I actually passed the building when I first arrived and then struggled to find parking, making me late for my first class.  But now I know, for the future, that there is two-hour free parking on Daisy and the neighborhood streets just north of Foothill.

Class had already begun when I arrived but I was escorted into the Yoga room and quickly set up my mat, trying my best not to disturb anyone.  I was able to step right into the warm-up exercises.  During the relaxation time before exercises, the Instructor, Helen, came over to welcome me and give me a quick introduction.  She told me that Kundalini Yoga isn’t about perfection or competition.  It is very loving and forgiving, you just do your personal best.  There is no judgement, just a chance to relax and get to know yourself better.  The class represented all levels of yoga and we could adjust it to meet our own needs.

This particular class had a lot of abdominal work.  During some of the floor exercises, I became very aware that my left side is still incredibly weak compared to my right side.  I struggled with some of the leg lifts, realizing I really need to get back to my Endo therapy.  This class definitely helped.

When class ended, Helen came over again to talk with me and tell me more about her classes.  She said that every class is different.  There are so many different poses, stretches, and exercises in Kundalini Yoga that no class is ever exactly the same.  Being a Libra who easily gets bored doing the same thing over and over again, I really liked the fact that each class would be different.  I also liked the whole non-judgemental vibe.  You didn’t have to worry if you couldn’t stretch as far as the others or that you were struggling when others were not.  Everyone was focused on their own exercises.  It was a very relaxing and welcoming environment.

I am definitely going to return and continue taking yoga classes at The Awareness Center.

Posted in Exploration, Life, Personal Challenge, Photography, Southern California, Tourism, Travel, Universe, Writing

Kicking Off Pasadena Art Weekend with ArtNight: Personal Challenge, Day 26 (10.12.12)

Friday night started Pasadena’s Art Weekend with ArtNight, a night where the local museums are open to the public with free admission.  There are free shuttles to take patrons to and from the participating museums.  Food trucks and live performances would also be available to the ArtNight participants at specific locations.  I read all about Art Weekend in the Pasadena Weekly and I was excited to check out some of the exhibits–specifically the Pages exhibit at the Art Center College of Design’s Williamson Gallery.

Pasadena City Hall

According to the ArtNight website, Pasadena City Hall would be the transportation hub where patrons could catch the free shuttles that would transport them to any gallery of their choosing.  There would also be live entertainment and food at the City Hall hub.  So I decided that I would begin my night there.  I took the Metro Gold Line to the Memorial Park station, located near City Hall.  Pasadena City Hall is a work of architectural art.  It is a stunning sight to see, especially at night.  Once I arrived, I was greeted by an ArtNight volunteer who gave me a map of the museums and shuttle routes.  I was also given the official Art Night sticker, proof of my participation in the nightly event.

I looked at the ArtNight brochure and noticed that I needed the North shuttle to reach my destination, Art Center College of Design.  So I sat on the steps of City Hall, enjoying the live music as I waited for my bus to arrive.  Many shuttles showed up and many shuttles left.  I saw the East shuttles, West shuttles and Central shuttles go past me, many times.  I didn’t see a single North shuttle.  I kept looking at the brochure but it was too dark to really see the map of the routes–I couldn’t make out one route from the other.  I saw several others waiting around, waiting for the North shuttle as well.  There were ArtNight volunteers roaming around but they didn’t seem to notice all the people standing around looking confused.  No one seemed to understand which shuttle went where or how to locate the North shuttle.  Finally, a woman (perhaps one of the event organizers) stepped forward to assist with the buses.  Several people asked her when the North bus would arrive.  Her reply. “The North bus doesn’t come here.  It leaves from the Pasadena Museum of History.  That is the only place where you can catch the North shuttle.”  Seriously?  I had wasted all this time waiting for a shuttle that was never going to arrive.

Live music at Pasadena City Hall

I quickly hopped on the first shuttle that would take me to the Pasadena Museum of History.  I managed to catch the West bus, a bus that actually traveled very close to Art Center (when it stopped at KidSpace) but backtracked to the Museum of History.  I end up chatting with a family that was just as frustrated as I was.  But they had actually started the evening right at 6pm–I waited until 7pm).  They managed to stop at the Pacific Asia Museum first.  So we all arrived at the Museum of History and had to wait in line for the North shuttle.  Thankfully this area was well-organized.  They had signs for each bus so you knew where to wait to catch the appropriate bus (they should have done that at City Hall).  After three shuttle loads, we were finally on the North shuttle headed up to the Art Center gallery.  (This was not a short shuttle ride).

I was so excited when I finally arrived at the Art Center’s Williamson Gallery.  I made my way past the student work and into the new Pages exhibit (this was the opening night for the exhibit).  At first, I was in heaven with an exhibit focused on books.  There were some beautiful photographs of books and a floor to ceiling sculpture of stacked books (I wasn’t allowed to take photos of the artwork).

As you made your way toward the center of the exhibit, you had the opportunity to view books and book pages on loan from the Huntington Library, USC Special Library, and Caltech.  For me, this is where I started to feel like the Universe was playing a cruel joke on me.  Many of the books on exhibit were books I had seen before, when I went to the Huntington Library.  It was January of 2011 and I was at the Huntington Library on a date with Big.  However it was the manuscript poem, entitled “Beer” by Charles Bukowski, on loan from the USC Special Library Collection that led to my “Mr. Big” freak out.  When Big and I went to the Huntington, we were going for the Charles Bukowski exhibit.  Big and I are both book lovers, the book exhibit was our agreed favorite part of the Huntington (I hadn’t yet explored the gardens when I went with him).  Big and I met when we were at USC so the whole Charles Bukowski (and Beer, another story I won’t mention), Huntington and USC connection was more than I could handle.  It was too weird of a coincidence–the Universe is trying to tell me something, in my opinion.  Plus, as a lover of books, I don’t like to see books being destroyed, especially in the name of art.  Cutting up books or whiting out the majority of the words just feels like a crime to me.  So I was done.

Drawing of a typewriter at Pasadena City Hall

I made my way back to the shuttles.  One was leaving and the other still had space.  I boarded the shuttle, watched as it filled up and watched as we all just sat there.  The shuttle driver was on break.  It was 9:25 pm when the shuttle driver finally decided to return and begin our journey back to the Museum of History.  Once we arrived at the Museum, then we had to catch another shuttle back to downtown Pasadena, were the majority of the museums live.  The event ended at 10 pm so there wasn’t any point in trying to make it to another museum when the shuttle I was on had just departed the Pasadena Museum of History at 9:40 pm.

Pasadena City Hall

I arrived back at Pasadena City Hall at 9:59 pm.  I wasted the ArtNight experience on the Art Center–and shuttle experience.  (And the whole Big connection didn’t help matters).  Once again, the Pasadena “bus” service did not work in my favor.  At least now I know that next year, I should arrive at 6 pm and stick to the Museums closest to downtown.  Or as my California sister advised, “stick to the food trucks.”

Posted in Exploration, Life, Personal Challenge, Southern California, Spirituality, Tourism, Travel, Universe

I’ve Got A Ticket To Ride: Personal Challenge, Day 23 (10.9.12)

Today started off great.  The weather cooled down and it finally felt like Fall.  I actually wore a sweatshirt this morning.  I was in a good mood despite my sore body.

But then the sun came out and my mood got worse (it must be opposite day).  I had a freak out about finances and rising gas prices.  Since my paycut this year (they changed my schedule so I can no longer make extra money doing supervision), I am struggling to keep up with the rising gas prices.  I do have to admit that I have spent more money than I planned on this personal challenge–most of the money spent on food and gas.  But over $5.00 a gallon for gas is ridiculous.  So I did what I always do when I get into panic mode, I went to see my therapist.

After a grounding 45 minute session, I had a new outlook on things, new solutions to my problems, and a smile on my face when I noticed that the clouds had returned.

And my perspective returned.  I am the queen of stretching a dollar.  So I had to look at what I have at my disposal.  I have the free Metro TAP card that I received, offering me the chance to try out the Metro for 5 consecutive days.  I first used it on Sunday and it is good until the 11th.  So I am going to use this pass as often as I can.  I tried to find a good route via the Metro to get to work but all routes point to an hour and a half commute.  Since I am not a morning person, that isn’t going to work for me.  (But I am going to try it out tomorrow to see if it is really possible).  So I will just use my car to go back and forth to work.  I can ride my bike down to the grocery store and use the Metro to go anywhere else.  A monthly pass on the Metro is $75–the current price of one tank of gas for my Cavalier.  This will eliminate the gas I waste driving to all my new adventures as well as the gas wasted trying to find parking spaces.  It will also eliminate the fees for parking.  But the best part, it will help me lose the weight I gained after my car accident.  Hopefully, I will work my way up to riding my bike to and from the different places as well.  (I really have to work on going uphill).

So tonight, I decided to give this new plan a try.  I parked my car in the driveway and headed to the closest bus stop.  I downloaded the Metro app on my phone and used that to track the local buses.  I hopped on the bus that took me to the Gold Line train station and I took the Gold Line to Old Town Pasadena (Memorial Park station).

Once again, I pulled out my phone and used my Pasadena app (and eventually Yelp) to find a place to eat.  I decided I was going to try this Vegan restaurant called Green Earth Vegan cuisine on Fair Oaks.  I am not a Vegan or a Vegetarian by any means but I have some friends who are hardcore vegetarians.  So I thought I would check out a place where I could possibly take them when they visit.

I made my way over to Fair Oaks and found Green Earth Vegan just south of Colorado on Fair Oaks.  I also discovered that it was closed.  Yep, it is closed on Tuesdays.  So I pulled out my phone and went to Yelp for assistance.  There are tons of restaurants on Old Town but they are too pricey for my taste.  So I filtered my search for a restaurant with a good rating and only one dollar sign.  It turns out that the number one choice is right next to Green Earth Vegan–El Toreo.  Mexican sounded good to me.

So I walked in and instantly I felt like I was walking into someone’s home for dinner.  Everyone in the restaurant seemed to know each other.  There was a group of guys at the first table watching a ball game, playing dominoes, and enjoying their tacos and cervezas.  I sat down in a booth, placed my drink order and started to browse through the menu.  I ordered the carnitas dinner and enjoyed my complementary chips and salsa.  I looked over at the TV and noticed that the baseball game playing just happened to feature my hometown team, the Detroit Tigers.  The Universe is so funny sometimes.

As for my meal, it was really good but it can’t beat the carnitas tacos at El Patron in Altadena.  But I would happily return to El Toreo to try some of the other items on their menu.

So with a very full belly, I made my way back to the Memorial Park Metro Station and hopped on the Gold Line train back to Allen.  But according to my Metro app, I had a 30 minute wait for the next bus.  I decided to just walk home, just like I did on Sunday.  It was a nice cool night and to my delight, as I approached my neighborhood, it started to sprinkle.  The drizzle felt nice and cool after the walk home.

Obviously, the travel time is longer than driving but overall, I found the bus and train experience to be so much more relaxing.  And it almost felt like the Universe was telling me that I made the right decision (about using the Metro) by giving me the gift rain in the last leg of my journey tonight.

As for my Metro adventure tomorrow, I am going to try out the suggested routes and see how if taking the Metro to and from work is a possibility.  Stay tuned.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Exploration, Life, Personal Challenge, Photography, Southern California, Spirituality, Tourism, Travel

Free Admission Friday: Personal Challenge, Day 19 (10.5.12)

On the first Friday of the month, the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena offers free admission during the hours of 6-9 pm.  I haven’t been to the Norton Simon since I took a museum class at USC in 1998.  This was my first experience with the free Friday admission.  Even though this wasn’t my first trip to the museum, it has been so long that it felt like my first trip.  I do remember the Monet gardens and a few of the art pieces (by Renoir, Manet and Degas)but I don’t remember the theater or downstairs area for new exhibits.

So I started the exhibit with my grandfather’s rule for exploring new places–stick to the right.  And to my right resides the Asian Art exhibit.  This was Buddha heaven.  I walked through looking at every piece and reading the story of each.  I made my way downstairs to the main portion of the Asian Art Exhibit.  There was also a new exhibit on Still Life (no photographs allowed in this area).  But I was more interested in the Asian Art and all the Hindu and Buddhist artifacts on display.  I could go back to this exhibit over and over again.  Like I said before, it is Buddha heaven.

Afterwards, I went upstairs and stopped off at the Garden Cafe.  I ordered the Veggie Panini (I was sold when I saw it had Butternut Squash in it).  It was a pricey meal but very tasty.

While sitting in the Garden, enjoying my meal, I had the opportunity to people watch.  I’m not sure if it was because of “Free Friday” but I was in shock by the behavior of some of the patrons.  I saw a woman in pajama bottoms and a t-shirt sitting at a table while her young kids ran around the gardens, climbing on the statues and throwing things at the ducks in the pond.  I was actually surprised by how many toddlers were at the museum.  I can understand taking elementary aged children to a museum for an appreciation of art and culture, but infants and toddlers?  If I were a parent, I would not want to take my toddler to a museum filled with priceless artifacts.  And why wasn’t anyone saying anything when these children were climbing on the statues?  I got a phone call from my California sister and was asked to go outside yet some of these children were running, screaming through the museum.  I guess I will have to go back on another day to see if this is just something that happens on “Free Fridays.”

When I finished my meal and people watching session, I returned to the museum and headed off into the art collection areas where works by the old masters reside.  You can see works by Van Gogh, Manet, Renoir, Degas and Picasso.

It is said that art is subjective and the meanings are up for interpretation by the observer.  Well, if the observer is anything like me, you see the “dirty” interpretation of the art work.  I was surprised, at times, to read on the plaque besides the pieces that I was often right.

Another thing that I like to do when walking through looking at art, I like to come up with my own captions.  I’m sure if someone were observing me, seeing me giggle to myself, they would think I was crazy.  I heard people talking about the brush strokes, the lighting, the techniques, etc while I was thinking, “It looks like the angel wants to suckle her breast.”  I am an art teacher and I should be talking about the techniques, lighting, brush strokes, texture, composition, etc.  But I was here alone, on a Friday night.  I wasn’t in teacher mode.  I was being myself–my goofy, dirty-minded self and I was having fun.  And I didn’t say what I was thinking out loud.  I would stand in front of the paintings, think of a funny caption in my mind, smile and move onto the next.  On the outside, I played the part of a thoughtful art observer while in my mind, I was a 12-year-old mentally giggling at all the dirty, provocative art.

Overall, I would go back to the Norton Simon Museum.  The Asian Art exhibit alone might even convince me to get a membership.  But I think I do need to return during regular hours to see how the patrons differ to those who arrive on the Free Fridays.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.