Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Walk with Me: Frogtown: Adam #8

Everybody knows Frogtown is one of the best parts of the river. :) It's path has been there a long time and it is maintained and is scattered with adorable spots. After the highway noise of Glendale...it was practically idyllic in Frogtown. Adam picked me up from Ktown, just like he used to pick me up for work. We had so many lovely chats as we carpooled to work. Adam is an artist that started as a photographer and is now an artist that fits less into a box than he used to. Glitch art is what is thrown around. But what I like about Adam the best is that he is exploring and he doesn't seem to care what you artist box you put him in. I resonate with that feeling too. Artists are artists. Tools are tools. Use all the tools you want. Don't get stuck in categories or boxes.

I drew an orange sun like circle and a green line as my icon for this walk. And it really explains the calm and enjoyment I have with Adam. Everything was a smooth continuation from where we left off. The path was practically empty. We enjoyed this bit of calm in this big city. We may have spotted a spiritual ceremony across the river with a feathered staff and people walking in some meaningful path. That is the thing about Adam there is this mystic feeling to his cyber explorations. A bit trickster. A bit shy man. He looked the part of LA art student in the perfect retro long sleeved shirt and cool glasses.

We walked by so many interesting homes and studios. With chickens. With a man repainting a large metal fence with enamel black paint. The river was the background against a thriving creative neighborhood. There were studios filled with cement statues. A studio or two that looked like movie props. Every backyard held something exciting. It was cloudy but hot as we walked and as we tried to take photos of our walk both of our ailing samsung galaxy threes gave us issues. I had to ask him to take photos as my phone froze, just to have it revive in time for me to snap our faces into memory.

The neighborhood had so many colors of flowers along the path.  Adam had never seen the river though he has been in LA for 4 years. That is the thing about LA. So much to discover and nature seems to take a back seat. Or at least the more momentous nature seems to be where we go. The ocean. Adam loves the coastal towns. Or the mountains. Not this dinky river that runs straight through the city.

What is intresting is right now the river is a rocking river. With all the rains LA has had it is completely different from when Adam and I walked it. I would love to get some photos of what Frogtown looks like right now.

Thinking about this walk. I am filled with hope. Cause I have no doubt that Adam will teach art and continue to be an artist his whole life. It gives me hope that I can manage the same. Adam is just as tired as I was in grad school. Just as "I have no idea where this is taking me." But knowing Adam and his many cities and his awesome art ideas. It makes me hope that we can keep struggling and making decisions based on the need to explore. The need to create. The need to be awesome people. Hope. Adam with his queit ways and his persistant art making and exhibiting is an inspiration to me. And he is cute to boot. :) His wit and humor are unique. He may look hipstery. He though, is the real deal, a genuine person with a heart of gold and creativity to spare. His ideas are his own and though a bit shy has no problem talking to people about art and technology or just about anything at all. Or at least he is that way with me. Ahhhhh what a great late morning with Adam on the river.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Walk with Me: Downtown: Cathy #7

Wow this is my 100th post. I am imagining confetti being popped from confetti guns above me as I hit post.

Things have been crazy in Paige land with my day job getting more stressful and more stressful. I have been working on the lino cut pamphlet book for this project and slacking on posts. As I sit here in Minnesota, I keep hearing the national news about the rains in LA. I must say it fills me with angst as I see all that potable water turning into a polluted mess as it streams into the ocean. I keep thinking CATCH THAT WATER LA. CATCH IT. TAKE ADVANTAGE of what nature is giving you. You were WAITING for water, now you are WASTING it. And it's that the main theme. Waste. The mask or the facade of a city as more important than it's structure.

Well, along came an article about a revitalization of the LA River http://www.kcet.org/socal/departures/lariver/confluence/river-notes/la-river-restoration-plan-unanimously-approved-in-dc.html. And I just thought to myself what would Cathy think of this article? Cathy is one of the people behind Play the River LA. She is one of the founders and of course that made me a little nervous to walk with her. But I had already had two walks that day and I just couldn't be so nervous when I was already so tired. :)

Cathy was nice enough to pick me up form the apartment I was staying in Koreatown. And we went right down town to the 6th St bridge. Walking with mothers, is a great thing for me. Because they never are self conscious. They know the power of hand holding. Cathy was full of inquisitive knowledge. As we talked around concrete, a movie crew, and up urine soaked steps. The conversation was a out a memorial that Cathy was going to. Skirting around the emotion of memory sharing stories. While both of us observing the forces of gentrification on a gritty downtown.

We walked down to the concrete river where tourists and LA-ers went to look at the river. She pointed out some beautiful graffiti. We mused on holding hands. Down the river there was a video crew IN the river bed. Cathy told me this is VERY common place that people buy permits to shoot commercials and movies in the concrete area that is the LA "river." Cathy knows a lot about different parts of the river and we chatted about those. Cathy wrote about how the environment downtown has little to do with the river. That you can't really define it has such, "'River' is more like it."

Unfortunately, I can't read what Cathy wrote on her piece of paper easily. But I can decipher that this was a more intimate experience than she was expecting. That holding hands broke through the stark industrial environment she meant to show me. I spoke freely of how hard it is to be a working artist. Cathy thought I still lived in LA. That I was just visiting Minnesota. And well, who knows...maybe I am. :) What is residence? What is it to be owned by a place? Cause in many ways I was owned and still am owned by LA. As a serious observer. As someone who likes to get mixed up in heady complex issues. There is no place like LA. And Cathy represented someone who is making it in that crazy landscape. With a family. A vibrant career. But that sure as hell means she has the same problems that all us struggling artists and creatives have. She and her husband though got lucky and bought property when two working people could buy something without having a million dollars.

Speaking of all that gentrification and fighting for a spot. After crossing over the bridge and coming down a different staircase we walked to a new development that is right downtown. You probably know the one. It is white and blue and HUGE. And it was like walking around a ghost town. It is this little oasis of gentrified "safe." We saw affluent folks driving and parking right by the door. (across the street there is street parking made specifically for the building) A few going out to exercise in the neighborhood. Cathy and I agreed on it's dissonance with the neighborhood. Cathy works with LAPD in Skid Row. (check out their work here http://lapovertydept.org/) A group I am very well acquainted with after living with Barbara T Smith and spending a few holidays or parties with Henriette and John. The work is heartening in a sea of not so heartening initiatives in Skid Row and the city at large. It may sound trite but that is when I knew Cathy was truly concerned and linked to LA. That she was all in, in making change for this big unwieldy city. She is passionate about the environment and about making LA a place that is for everyone. Even now, months later, I was impressed by her connection to a city that spits people out. That had spit me out. And I didn't want her to think me an impostor, just because I had left. I still care deeply about LA. So much so I make a bother of myself on social media about my thoughts on the LA River. I SCREAM about saving water and conserving. I am more connected to the art world there than in Minnesota

I was nervous about walking with Cathy cause I wanted to impress her. Instead, I was heartened to meet a woman living her passion. Finding a way through grants, hard work, and passion to make it work being a LA creative. As I make my life in St Paul, where things sure as hell feel easier, I congratulate Cathy for being an activist, a creative, a mover and shaker, a mother, and a genuinely nice human being. It was a pleasure to get to speak of life so bluntly. Cathy and I learned that maybe it isn't just about the river but the lives that make up the river and the bigger social issues that surround it. In the case of this river possibly choke and kill it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Walk with Me: Ferraro Hills: Walk with Brad #6

So, I had only a few minutes in between my walk with Jonathan and  my walk with Brad. Jonathan gave me a bite of his energy bar so I could be present for another walk. Unbeknownst to me, Ferraro Hills Park hard to get t on a weekend, we think because the zoo is near by. Either way, it was hard to get to and from the park because of some good old fashioned LA traffic. Brad wondered why my last walk Jonathan was still at the park. And it was weird to have the two walks overlap for me. It did feel like to competing boyfriends with how intimate the walks are. And Brad and I did make a joke or two about it being an awkward transition. Both men were a bit territorial, in a good natured way.

I met Brad this January; the last time I was in LA. I had come down a mountain. Cleansed. Having just been in a sweat lodge. I was five pounds lighter and in a very good place. I had sweated out and prayed for my ex. I had lifted myself, my ancestors, my family, and my ex up into the Cosmos. I had let it all go. I had cried, yelled, sweated, let some shaman woman lean on me...cause honey it was 50 degrees hotter in the inner circle. Brad was living with my friend Lara for a few months as he moved downtown later in the year. And Brad had read MY book. Brad had read my "Walk with ME" book. Now I know there are probably a good 50-100 folks that have read it. But the thing is none of them who hadn't been one of the 47 walks had wanted to talk to me about it. Ok, I may be a bit dramatic. But Brad had read the whole darn thing! and he had questions. So after cleansing for 3 nights. Freezing my ass off in a tent. I had a lovely 3 hour conversation about my work with a handsome roommate. We covered lots of ground and talked about some pretty intimate things. Even the book can make that stuff come up. And I felt comfortable talking about my transformation;with running, with the project, with leaving LA. I didn't flirt with Brad because I most definitely consider myself not in the league of the women Brad must date.

So that day, Brad said he would come on a walk with me. Brad, got there on time even with the traffic. Brad is effervescent and yelled out "You ready for the best walk yet?" or something to that effect. Which speaks volumes because within minutes Brad was telling me about how he wanted this to be my best walk. Could I just tell him that it would be the best walk. Brad works in marketing. I work in marketing. I am sure he makes double what I do. since he works in the for profit world. But it means that there are similarities to our personality. We both could move planets if we so chose to do. Brad pulls you in. And he could make many a person do things they never thought they would do with his smile and charm. Much like me that masks a large desire to be liked and desired. I get Brad and I get that we are both learning the blessing and curse of being so god damn charming.

Brad and I walked along the loud Hwy 5 path. Talking about intimacy. This walk was a huge stretch for Brad. He does not hold hands much. And he told me. This walk terrified him. This was a place Brad did not go. Well isn't that the greatest of things. To push someone to open up and be present with themselves even if it fucking hurt. I wanted to tell Brad it was the best walk ever. One because he is super handsome and makes me nervous. But two, because as he was letting go of his charms they still made me want to fulfill his needs.

As for me, we talked about me letting go of what I thought I needed to do and figure out what I WANT to do. Brad called these Big Boy Thoughts. And indeed they are.

Brad calmed down and we had a lovely walk along the river. I let go of my needing to impress Brad and Brad did the same. Brad is trying out some big changes in his life. And there is a part of me that feels like I met him to encourage him to grow as a person. He is such a god damned shining light. And I don't think he knows it yet. But I feel it and see it. And well it makes me realize that maybe I shine that bright for others too. That maybe Brad and I can turn down the charm and just let people in. Even if we are not the best. Even if it isn't perfect. Even if it hurts. Brad and I are going to stop pleasing you and start figuring out what pleases us.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Walk with Me: Ferrero Hills:Walk with Jonathan #5

Well, it seems right that I will try to write my blog about Jonathan and I's walk while being a bit ruffled under the feathers. A little bit stirred up in my soul. Cause that is how Jonathan met me. While I was a little bit stirred up in my soul. I was in LA, living with a woman that Jonathan had emailed through an online dating site. We all ended up at a local eagle rock restaurant with communal seating and Jonathan was ballsy enough to ask Jess if she indeed was the Jess he had met online. It led to the most lovely hour and half long conversation with strangers I had had in a long time. We all really clicked his friend, Jess, himself, and I. And Jonathan ended up helping with my resume and chatting on the phone and through facebook chat to support me through in the end deciding to go home. Since then many a heart to heart has happened through facebook and a few times Jonathan has had to stop me from spiralling by telling me he doesn't have time to talk. I am a worrier by nature and sometimes I need to drag somebody down there with me. Luckily, I know the signs and so do my friends so the worry spiral happens less and less.

ANYWAY, what I am saying is Jonathan is a very spiritual person who also deals with issues of codependency. He is committed to helping others, supporting them, and is interested in the pursuit of a spiritual existence here on earth. Yeah. Jonathan and I are two VERY INTENSE people. Who most definitely vibrate on a similar wavelength.

Truthfully, I was exhausted by the time my morning walk with Jonathan rolled around. I was dehydrated from the day of walking the day before and I had to push myself thinking about how great the walks with Jonathan and Brad would be this morning. Allison dropped me off and I waited for Jonathan to arrive. Slowly eating and drinking water. Jonathan rode up on his motorcycle and I had to smirk. It is so Jonathan to get a motorcycle to express his joy for life. It seems calculated on his part. His idea of freedom.

It has now been awhile since we walked. But it doesn't take away the main feeling. Love. Pretty much open and unadulterated love. We opened up and walked with love. The wind was a bit cool at this time of day but Highway 5 roared by us on this path. But we made the most of it. I could lean into J and feel comfortable. We switched to a more intimate hand holding position. We spoke about Jonathan's latest trips to Deer Park. We spoke of attachments that maybe aren't appropriate. And I mused that that is why we spend so much time on them. Because it is easier to beat yourself up over a love you can't have. Than one that you can have and have to work day to day to have. J and I are romantics. It is much easier to be a romantic over the course of a walk then to be a romantic every day.

I mentioned I had met someone that might be someone new. And overall it felt comfortable to talk about anything. J wanted to know about my new life and I got to tell him how well it was going. With or without a new beau.

We walked incredibly far to a bridge where we took our hand pics. Ironically, the pics of our faces were too close up to catch either of our faces fully. And maybe that is saying something about Jonathan and I. We are so close up. So allowed into each other's space. I can't see him fully and I lose myself too. It isn't good. It isn't bad. But with Jonathan I can let go and just not form my complete self.

It was hard for both of us to let go of the walk. But I had a walk right after. It felt a little awkward. Like going from one boyfriend to another. And it felt strange the Jonathan was still at the park when I finished my next walk. Someone too close. But that is where I want Jonathan. Too close. Someone to hug. Someone I know will not walk away from me because I have too passionate of thoughts or fall out of line. Jonathan understands my desire for closeness. Jonathan thinks too much and gets caught in his mind much like I do. And I love him for it. I love that if he is someone I love. Then there are men out there who are going to love me. Jonathan is an open loving person. And if I can see that in him. He sees it me. Thank God he sees it in  me. (Yes. I have teared up.)

This was a hard blog to right. Cause what I have been learning is to not share these SO wide open feelings with everyone. I learned that on this walk. I stayed in my center and gave what felt ok to give Jonathan. And here I am telling you all these intimate thoughts on how boundless and contracted Jonathan and I are. How we give immensely but deep down I think we want something in return from everyone we give it to....I think that is what Jonathan and I are trying to let go of as we search for a deeper level of the spiritual in the everyday.

I drew a circular form with a canoe like form underneath it for this walk. And that is what Jonathan is for me. A life boat. That sounds like such a demanding all consuming job but the thing is most of the time we are gliding along and we don't even notice each other. That is how good we are at our jobs. But yes, when times get rough...that canoe, the support is noted, and essential.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Walk with Me #4 with Carol, Downtown from Union Station To Men Oh Ramen

As per usual, I am always trying to jam too much into a day. I am a woman of extremes. One day, I go has fast as I can and then I hit reset by hardly moving. Well on this trip, a trip people call vacation but what artists called "working on our project," i really had packed in the walks. After two walks, I was pretty exhausted but Carol is an artist I have known and really wanted to work with. The thing is we didn't really have to get to the river. It would be sunset soon and I was starving. I decided to walk with Carol anyway. Why? Because it could highlight that two transit users have a hard time getting to the river. I had already had an uber driver look at me funny for getting picked up on Humbolt and 19th after going to the Ed P Reyes Greenway. And the thought of busing or training to a spot on the river so Carol and I could rush through a walk drove me a bit batty. So we just walked to the ramen place Carol was taking me to.

We met at Union Station. A place I had been through so many times as a transit user in LA. It is not a calm place. Carol was in the Starbucks waiting for me. She let me know she had met a new friend in the Starbucks. And we both got looks as we walked out of the station. It makes me made that men are so blatantly...rude. Like Carol's shorts were an invitation. When they so obviously are not. I don't understand why people think it is ok to gawk. Carol walked on without noticing or without giving them the satisfaction to react to their gazes.

The wind had picked up and the sun was going down and it the wind was gloriously cool on my face and shoulders. Carol and I spoke of her future as she finishes school. And ironically we walked right past the detention center downtown. Carol has been doing a lot of protesting and she reminisced about the incarcerated who had shown lights to show solidarity for those protesting the death of Mike Brown.

Carol is a passionate, so bright star of a woman. It was lovely to hold her hand and connect. She tries to live her ideals. Which has led to a great job opportunity in Dallas after school. Dallas is where Carol is from and having myself moved back from where I am from. We have a bit of camaraderie on that also. We inspired a couple to hold hands as we traipsed through the granite pylons that surround the detention center. She mentioned silence in her writings about the walk. That it was like air between or steps. It was really intense for me to be in the noise of LA and to also feel still and understand what Carol means by the silent parts of the walk. LA is so LOUD but the breeze, the cool, and the calm we had between us created a sort of silence in downtown LA.

We reached the amazing Men Oh ramen place and I hydrated up. And caught up with Carol more. I then got dehydrated and was sort of useless when we met up with our mutual friend Hataya. The thing was...getting these three walks done made me feel so accomplished and that I was doing what I said I would do when I came here. Though I am doing so much better not doing work that is about proving that I am an artist. There is still the drive to not let people I work with down. And to strive to be great even if it is just about holding hands along the LA River.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Walk with Me #3 with Lisa Along the LA River/Elysian Valley/Fletcher Drive

So I had made it through my first walk with a stranger. And another one was on it's way. After walking with Liz and getting cool by taking a nap. Lisa, a woman who knew a friend of mine, and signed up for the project through the facebook event I had made. I knew Lisa was an artist. I knew Lisa was my friend's landlord.

The Elysian Valley is a gorgeous part of the river. We started at Fletcher Drive and we made our way up(?) the river. Passing Marsh Park. It was the lovely time of day around 5pm where the light is perfect for photos and walks. Lisa jumped in to holding my hand and we spoke about art and the river. She hopes to project some of her videos on one of the amazing underpasses along this stretch or a few other choice stretches of the river.

We saw so many birds. One black crane like bird doing his mating dance sticks out in my mind. It was glorious to watch him follow us along the river. Doing his opened winged mating dance. A dance of stillness. Which is interesting to me.

Lisa and I spoke about illness. My mother as an autoimmune disease and so does Lisa. We spoke about how the body demands balance when a disease is involved. This part of my childhood is something I don't talk about. A high school friend just learned my mother has RA this past month I never spoke of it as a kid. Lisa talked about her own balance with an autoimmune disease. What I am amazed at is how strong Lisa and my mother are. To have pain be a daily part of your life and live such full lives. And it reminds me that challenges sure do make us stronger, more unique, awesome individuals.

Water did come up in our walk. The NASA study was spoken about. Lisa has an attitude I see with a lot of LA natives. To paraphrase, yes it is scary what is going on but it will get sorted out. We can fly in water. There is water somewhere that we can bring in. I find this frightening. In any other city in the world, I feel, major rations would have happened years ago. In LA, people don't even follow the rules about watering lawns. Now, Lisa, doesn't have a lawn and I am not saying Lisa is not worried. Cause she is. That is why we talked about it. But the ending clause of, oh we'll ship it in our something. Is what makes me nervous. Esp with the pollution of the La River and other waterways. No one is taking responsibility for the river.

I was getting pretty tired by the end of the walk. I tend to not eat enough to handle the emotional aspect of these walks. Lisa and I saw so much beauty. I pointed out corn stalks in the middle of the river. We past small river rapids. The breeze was cool and refreshing and as I tired the air cooled my shoulders.

Lisa and I got back to the car and entered back into the world of cars and left behind the walkers, biker, and fisher folks we saw on the river walk path.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

LA River Walk #2 with Liz

After a night with the Glass family, which included Orange Chicken. And many glasses over water. I got up early and caught the Metrolink back to LA. I cabbed home and landed back in Koreatown in time to see my dearest friend, Lara for lunch. We talked boys. How I hoped that a break dancer who has amazing taste in books and movies would want to smooch me when I got back. :) And I met Tiny Taco Lara's new dog. Lara walked with me in LA and we spoke about the project and how I would like to travel the project to Europe.

I was nervous for my second walk. I was nervous because I was walking with someone I didn't know. Liz, an attorney, who works with the Waterkeeper Alliance http://waterkeeper.org/ . And because it was going to be in the middle of the afternoon and I don't handle heat well.

So I met Liz at the Ed P Reyes Greenway. http://www.kcet.org/socal/departures/lariver/confluence/river-notes/ed-p-reyes-river-greenway-is-open-sort-of.html
Lara dropped me off there. I wasn't sure where to enter as I saw a huge green fence. I then realized the side door was open. There is a mulching area across the street that was active with people making mulch and picking up mulch. Otherwise the area is industrial and pretty quiet. Liz arrived. I nervously explained that we would hold hands. She said no problem but she is sick. I jumped in and thought I would just make sure to wash my hands afterwards.

Reyes Greenway is not very large but it is a really interesting. This park is a Stormwater Park. Water is naturally filtered through the plants and land here before going into the LA River. Just days before an article about California only having a year's worth of water left. I was looking at a way that LA can at least clean the little water they get before it goes into the ocean. The thing is this is the only natural water filtration system on the river. There are 17 other storm drains that could become natural filtration systems. I sure hope they do become them.

Liz' words were succinct. Not so much about the walk itself but about her feelings about the river:
"Walking around the ed Reyes Stormwater Park-where pollution from industry and streets is naturally treated before meeting the Los Angeles River- if only we could green our community more extensively- we could change the landscape, protect the river, and transform our neighborhoods."

Which I will add from my notes,
"Big dreams start one storm drain at a time."

Liz is a passionate kind person and it was nice to hold her hand and hear her talk about water and LA. Her plans to go to Palm Springs right after our walk. She then spoke about how she had been a part of Play the LA River but she wasn't an "artist." That this project was a way to do something creative with the river. That made me so happy and proves my point when I say Liz is an artist. She is a creative person thinking about solutions for the LA River and for her own life. I hope she continues to find her creative voice. Cause she was super brave to come hold my hand. At the end she asked "How did you find me?" She wasn't even sure how I had gotten her email and she had come down to the river and held my hand!
Wonderful walk. We took the loop twice because it was so short. We wrote in the sun and then Liz dashed off to the desert and I dashed off to K-town to rest before Lisa would come pick me up. Though I sure was sweaty and tired afterwards.