Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Super Bloom

Thanks to the wettest season California has seen in a long time, the poppies came out to play at Lake Elsinore. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016


With Istanbul in the news lately, I decided to go through my footage from when I was there in May 2013. Coincidentally, it was the same time as the riots broke out. From the photo roll, you’d never know.

When we travel we’re passing through someone’s home. Trying to get some sense of how the locals coexist, what they eat, what matters to them. Getting lost in a stranger’s everyday – that’s the rush of it all. No matter how long I stay and observe and talk to people, I’ll never know what it’s truly like to be from anywhere other than where I’m from.

But from my perspective, the only one I can speak for, a mere passer througher – Istanbul. Wow.

It’s the old world and new – where Europe meets Asia. The people warm and witty. Serving culinary masterpieces from humble hole in the walls at the intersection of ideologies. Five times a day, the minarets call out for prayer. Putting the city in a trance. Reminding you where you are.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

99¢ Store

Recently, I wandered into the dollar store (the 99 Cents Only Store, if you're nasty.) I just needed to kill some time between a place I was and a place I was headed. Thought I could get paper towels on the cheap. Maybe a bottle of water. I quickly realized this place is not just for killing time. It's for any time. 

For when you're getting your period. 

For when you're on your period. 

For Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.

For when you're feeling like anime. 

For whatever diet you are or aren't on.  

For when Earl has to die.  

For Saturday morning. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Burning Man

It’s not a naked foam party, weeklong brain fry, or rainbow glitter unicorn parade. It’s not sunrise acro yoga, intersubjective meditation, or fire twirling on a tightrope. Burning Man is not one of the clich├ęs you’ve heard. It’s all of them.
Which, for the nonconformist, is part of the appeal. You don’t seek out a Michelin three star restaurant if you’re not a foodie. But there’s more to Burning Man than that. So much more. A million things more.

Once a year, people travel from all over the world to form Black Rock City in the Nevada desert. Population: 70,000. 
To give some perspective – Evanston, IL, Muncie, IN, San Clemente, CA – also cities of about 70,000. BRC is in the shape of a circle with a 7-mile circumference, boasting an all-out organized city structure complete with camp addresses, street names, post office, and hospital. It’s a real city. That exists for 7 days.

I didn't know much going into it. Only what I read online - which doesn't even begin to convey a fraction of what Burning Man really is. (But thanks for reading anyway!) I did come across a lot of recommended packing lists. So I packed for the end of the world. I brought things I didn’t know how to use. Like a Swiss army knife and a collapsible rubber funnel that lets a lady pee while standing up. People said “Bring lights.” So I did. Enough to land a 747. I had blue suspenders that lit up. Flashing buttons. A flaming Hawaiian lei. This sun necklace. Glow in the dark shoelaces. Lights for the front of my bike. Lights for the back of my bike. A mining light helmet (you have to.) And back-up batteries for all of it.

I didn’t use half of it.

That’s ok. Because even though you’re living in a radically altered reality, the harsh elements are very real and the night is very night. There’s peace of mind in knowing you have everything you really need right in your pack. Let's say you’re sitting in a two-story teepee way out on the playa with your new friend, Zed, who’s making up a song about the moth flying around when suddenly you’re extremely parched. The fuckin' Sahara is in your mouth. You don’t need to get up to go to the sink. There are no sinks. There is no plumbing. Your. Water. Source. Is. On. Your. Back. Keep singin’, Zed.

Being stripped of traditional societal expectations, combined with sleeping under the stars and sun for a week, inevitably puts you more in tune with your psyche. There’s an entire city that feeds on spontaneity right at your fingertips, allowing you the freedom and ability to do whatever you want, whenever you want – without Instagram distractions, having to get in a car, or text a friend to plan. Everything is within reach at any given moment. Live how you do in the “default world” or forget you're a human for a week. Be a donkey. Whatever you feel. Go.

It all becomes part of this visceral experience that’s hard to put into words. And it's completely subjective. Since everything that happens at Black Rock City relies on participation, you get out of it what you put in. No two people have the same experience. Even if you’re going with your boo or group of friends, I strongly encourage going off and exploring independently. It allows you to be fully receptive to what’s happening around you and welcomes interactions. Which for me was the most interesting part.

Back in the real world, I usually have a few highlights each week. The Universe hands me these little gifts with a note that says 'Hey, you're alive!' Things like an awesome live show. A fulfilling catch-up with an old friend. Not getting a parking ticket when I know I should've. At Burning Man, these happy highs happen every few minutes. Dozens of unexpected adventures a day. They just find you. It’s like Sunday Funday on crack. The gifting economy has a little to do with it. It just feels good when someone ties a handmade bracelet on your wrist and pours free vodka into your mouth. But the gifts that had a lasting impression on me were the simple, kind interactions I had with strangers.

Our camp was short on bikes one day so I set out on foot. Wandered into an inviting theme camp with a knitted panda art car. “Hi! What happens here?” This tiny woman, Fefe, grabbed my arm and said normally tons of fun shenanigans do, but at this very moment they’re all heading to a burlesque show and I’m coming with them. I explained how I didn’t have wheels. Without hesitation, she woke up her sleeping boyfriend and told him I was borrowing his bike. We rode like a peace-loving biker gang through the dirty streets. We watched burlesque, then danced, then went down a giant carnival slide on the Esplanade. We got caught in a dust storm and somehow I lost my mask. My new friend, J-Rod, gave me his spare to keep. It was sturdier than mine and smelled better. I gave them the aromatherapy vials my camp and I were gifting. Then we danced some more.

Later, I ended up talking for hours with a couple in a bar. It was her first Burn, his 5th. He said he dreamt about Burning Man every night for 9 months afterwards. Sometimes I think about him and wonder what’s happening in his dreams. Is it heaven? A cosmic, colorful wonderland of weirdos - one big party. A Baz Luhrman movie. Like Moulin Rouge. Or is it hell? A dismal three hour dust storm - the apocalypse. A Baz Luhrman movie. Like Australia.

Later later, I met a guy named Zack out on the playa, turned out he lived down the block from me in L.A. It was golden hour and he didn’t have a camera on him. I took a photo of him and emailed it.

And then there was Zed. And that moth.   

Burning Man is a ride. You're living at the edge of the world, absolutely exhausted, and there's a fat layer of dust at the bottom of your tent, in your hair, and in your lungs. On top of the insane conditions, there's those little big moments of introspection sprinkled with existential questioning. Full spectrum of emotions, from the lightest to the darkest. Even amongst the altruistic energy, it could be easy to get in a funk, start bitching, and want out. I’m so grateful to have been in a camp with some amazing people who stayed nothing but positive and supportive for each other from beginning to end. I only knew one person in my camp prior, which to think about now is crazy. To be completely off the grid in this strange, transcendent otherworld and form these genuine connections really puts things in perspective. Something not fully understood until decompressing back in the real world. Since the trip a year ago, we’ve celebrated engagements and birthdays, sang karaoke and dressed up at Halloween, laid on the beach and talked for hours - just like at camp. Truly invested in what’s happening in one another’s lives.

When people ask what Burning Man is, I have trouble explaining. "No, it's not a music festival. Or any kind of festival. It's a social experiment in a pop-up city to celebrate what humans are capable of." They don't really get it. And understandably so. How do you explain it all in an elevator pitch? The human connection. That more.

“The Playa will provide” is a popular Burning Man phrase. It’s a way of saying “Let go and see what happens.” The first time I heard it, I thought it was hippie-dippie gospel. But after having an unexpected somewhat transformative experience, walking away with true friends, I understand now that it’s a healthy approach to life everyday: Struggle is fleeting. People are loving. We’ll get through it together. Let’s celebrate.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Over Rio

As long as I’m running off a cliff and hoping for the best,
I might as well do it in one of the most beautiful cities in the world - Rio de Janeiro.

Certain destinations are known for offering a superior adventure experience over anywhere else. If you’ve made the trek to Cappadocia, hot air ballooning was probably the draw. If you’re on the eastern coast of Australia, you’d most likely regret it if you didn’t snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef. And if you find yourself in Rio, chug a caipirinha and hope for good wind, you’re going hang gliding.  

Since the decision to hang glide was an automatic “hell yes” and one made from the comfort & safety of my couch weeks prior to the trip, I didn’t actually process what it would entail until after a 30-minute jeep ride up Pedra Bonita Mountain to arrive at the takeoff ramp – a wooden board at the edge of a cliff, above the clouds. 

Puking would be an appropriate reaction. Especially because at this point I’m 4 days deep into a gnarly bout of food poisoning. Puking’s been my response to just about everything. But I’m too excited/anxious/terrified to puke. I don’t feel my body, including pain.

Looking down at Tijuca Forest and the city below, adrenaline kicks in. My breaths are short, my heart is racing, and the fear of what happens after voluntarily running off this mountain into a whole bunch of sky is paralyzing. “This is stupid. Why am I doing this? Because I’m an idiot. Because I’ve come this far. Because if I do I’ll have an experience. Those clouds…we’re flying through them? This is awesome!” All of the high and low emotions cancel each other out and I stabilize at a numb, neutral state of foggy brain syndrome.

The energy is high and awkward as all the first-timers nervously study the current guinea pig getting strapped in, with a constipated “you’re f*cking kidding me” expression plastered on their faces.

I’m flying with Ricardo from Delta Flight. He’s been gliding everyday for 16 years and has traveled the world doing it. After harnessing me in, he doesn’t give much instruction other than 1.) Run when he runs 2.) Don’t touch the control bar, that’s his.


Six giant steps off the wooden plank and…we’re flying? It’s an unexpected sensation. That may sound dumb considering I’m doing exactly what I signed up to do. But even though I saw the guy before me sail away into the sky, the fact that I didn’t fall quickly into a dirt nap below feels bizarre. Humans aren’t supposed to fly like a bird. It feels really unnatural and takes a few seconds to adjust, but after I do getting around any other way seems super lame.  

Ricardo and I are right up here chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool. Ya know, floatin.’ Not exerting any energy. Just flying. Like a flippin’ flying thing. This whole coasting on a kite above the jungles and beaches of Brazil checking out ant mansions over the Malibu of Rio with panoramic views of Sugarloaf Mountain in the Atlantic Ocean thing is not surreal at all. Not. At. All.

The wind is usually so perfect at this spot that if you wanted to you could stay up all day, but because Ricardo has a business to run, we fly for twenty-five minutes. Twenty-five peaceful, yet exhilarating minutes before a surprisingly soft landing on Pepino Beach. Walking again feels so weird. It’s so hard. Never realized how much gravity spited me. With every step my cement feet take, my body returns to its normal state. And I’m off to find a plastic bag.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

PORTLAND in some words. With some pics.

The thrill of scoring a dozen unique finds at the southeast Buffalo Exchange for the cost of one American Apparel sweater. Plus no sales tax! Beards. Bikes. Beards on bikes. Finding absolutely anything under one roof at Fred Meyer. DIY. Street art. Stumptown iced coffee. Everyday. Twice a day.

Exploring McMenamins Kennedy School – an old school turned adult playground. The boiler room’s a bar, detention hall is a cigar den – there’s a movie theater, restaurant, and hotel inside. Just do it. Oh, Wieden and Kennedy.

Grateful homeless. Rampant tweakers. Shingle style houses. Theme park lines for quality food. Organic’s a given. Sweet corn ice cream from Salt & Straw. Bacon maple donuts from VooDoo. Having foodgasms in the Grilled Cheese Grill school bus. Eating Kaeng Hang Leh from Pok Pok on a stranger’s stoop.

Escaping to Powell’s Books. Community. International Rose Garden. And the sweaty trek up the hill in skirts to get to it. This adorbs lil’ house on Airbnb. Poles lost to concert flyers. Kick ass food carts. Tatts. $7 beer flights at Bailey’s Tap Room. Nature loving. Urban living. Natives. Transplants. Nowhere to be. No judgments.