Olvera Street

olvera_1 olvera_2 olvera_3 olvera_4 olvera_5 olvera_7 olvera_8 olvera_9 olvera_10 olvera_11 olvera_12 olvera_13 olvera_15 olvera_16 olvera_20 olvera_21Aw, it’s been a few weeks since I last looked through these photos of a morning spent on Olvera Street in Los Angeles. Flipping through them now, I feel all warm and fuzzy and a pull to fly south again and spend many more mornings with one of my very best soul sisters and her darling family. On this morning – my last morning in Long Beach – I woke up in my bed in the loft that hung over the living room below, where my adopted nieces were playing with their kitten in their pajamas. After a lingering and slow morning, we loaded the family into the car and headed to Olvera Street, a colorful Mexican-inspired tourist area in one of LA’s historic districts. It was this little family I visited several years ago when they were living in Mexico City. It’s funny to walk through Americanized Mexican markets with Rodrigo because he likes to roll his eyes at the prices Sheryl and I are willing to pay for clay pottery and hand-crafted silver rings when we know perfectly well we could get it all cheaper in his native country. “But I’m not going to Mexico anytime soon,” we tell him as we hand over too much cash to the store owner. So this is Olvera. It’s a tradition that will continue with every visit to the south land – I can only hope. 

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The other day in Venice Beach

venice_1 Venice Beach. When I was a college student in Long Beach, driving a half hour up to Venice Beach was one of my favorite things to do. I loved the freedom and quirkiness and color of this world. So when I visited Long Beach a few weeks ago, my friend Sheryl and I went because, we, like, had to (we also had to eat at our fave restaurant C&O Trattoria).  But it was so weird, friends. I stilled loved Venice, but it made me sad, too. This time, I really felt the heaviness of a seemingly free city. I felt sad for many who are obviously tormented by mental illnesses. Sad for those so lost to drugs. Sad for the young, young and old folks who live on the streets and have been doing  it so long they’ve lost all hope. There was anger and hatred on the strip and it was an overwhelming and unexpected thing that afternoon. It reminded me that I sometimes live in a bubble, bubble  wrapped with my loving friends and family and my biggest worries are basically based on just having more. More money. More in my career. More home. More time to do Lauren stuff. Venice Beach, of all places, reminded me it’s not all about me. And that while I work hard, I need give back more. Not just with stuff and money. But with love and prayer and my thoughts.venice_2 venice_2a venice_2b venice_3 venice_4 venice_5 venice_6 venice_7 venice_8 venice_9 venice_10 venice_11 venice_12 venice_13 venice_14

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Long Beach’s Retro Row

thrift_1When you need a dose of retro retail therapy, there’s a little street in Long Beach that does just the trick. I used to live in the ‘hood, and I was all nostalgic wandering around this street. Where in the world makes you feel that way?  thrift_2 thrift_3 thrift_3a thrift_4 thrift_5 thrift_7 thrift_8 thrift_9 thrift_10 thrift_11 thrift_12 thrift_13 thrift_15 thrift_17 thrift_18 thrift_21

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Back to Long Beach

lb_1It was only and hour in the air, and there I was. Why, then, has it taken me nine years to return to that not-so-little city that holds a huge piece of my heart and still gives my tummy butterfly flutters when the words “come back” is whispered in my imagination?

I took off early from work last Thursday, and hopped on a flight to Long Beach, the southern California city that always felt homey and warm when I lived there nine years ago. I was nervous flying in. Nervous that I would find everything I once loved to be different — or gone completely. Nervous to feel that nostalgia or maybe some regrets, too. So excited to, for a few days, share a home with a best friend, but nervous of what it would be like now that she’s a wife and momma to two babies, quite different from the do-anything-anytime single college student who shared my apartment when we were adventurous 20-somethings.

I wondered if I’d leave with an ache to return permanently. In a way, yes — I miss my friend, as well as those that even Facebook hasn’t helped me stay in touch with. I miss the culture that I sometimes don’t feel living in a quiet town. I miss the opportunity that always seemed to knock, but maybe that was just part of being young.

I wandered Long Beach alone on Friday while my friends worked. Some thought that was strange, but it was how I had planned the trip, so that I could have time, on my own, to explore all of the places that have just been memories in my head for nearly a decade. I woke up early and left the house early. I took Uber for the first time — and would do it three more times that day. I wandered Belmont Shore hours before shop owners unlocked their doors, and found an iced coffee at Coffee Bean, a chain – yes – but one I loved back in those days. I walked several blocks through beach bungalows with decorated porches until I was at the beach, where girls were already sunning themselves on beach blankets at the water’s edge. It was just after 8, and I chose the obvious heat wave weekend to visit.

After a walk in the sand, I looped through more homes and over to Naples, where tourists ride gondola’s through the Vanice-inspired canals. I strolled. I daydreamed. I walked to breakfast, where I had a chicken salad sandwich and a blueberry mimosa while I watched two young friends share a mountain of whipped cream waffles as they silently editing their pictures for Instagram. I smiled because I was doing the same.

I took Uber to my favorite coffeehouse, where I would read and study and Internet loaf for hours as a college student. At first, I was sad they’d remodeled and become modern. But after a second visit, I decided it was still a great place. I walked Retro Row, partially browsed thrift store racks and stood at the entrance of the Art theater. I walked a few blocks of my old neighborhood, and made my way to downtown, where I walked all of Pine, two or three times, and waited a half hour for a free bus before seeing the tiny sign that my bus stop was no longer a legit bus stop. So, I started walking. I crossed Ocean and wandered through the Pike to Shoreline Village, where I snuck out of the sun at an Irish pub where I ordered some sort of fruity mojito and watched the passersby. It was nearing quitting time, and the pubs and restaurant’s were filling with people, and that was my sign to return home, where my friend would be arriving any time.

I arrived “home” before my friend, but I was greeted by her husband, his neighbor and their children with a plate of fancy cheeses, salamis and a glass of sparkling raspberry wine. So perfect. When my friend came home, we ate steak and chicken her husband prepared — “the secret to good steak: Use garlic olive oil,” he taught me. Then, we ended the Friday with sunset in the pool and good chat while the girls watched a movie.

It was a wonderful, wonderful Friday. It definitely won’t be nine years before I do it again.

Here are some photos from the weekend. I have several posts from this weekend that I will share in the next few days.

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Reggae Festival on the River

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I’m not a particularly good dancer. Basically, I don’t know how to dance. At all. I just never learned. And because I have this weird fear of — what’s the term? — “shaking what my momma gave me,” I tend to avoid dance floors. But there’s something about this one evening in the summertime, when the sun has set and the music is right and maybe I’ve had a little too much free-flowing rum punch, that I just really enjoy that dance floor. A few weekends ago, my sister, niece and cousins hit Reggae on the Delta, a teeny tiny music festival on a point on the Delta. Here’s how it went for us. reggae_3 reggae_4 reggae_5 reggae_6 reggae_7 reggae_8 reggae_9 reggae_10 reggae_11 reggae_12 reggae_13 reggae_14 reggae_15 reggae_16 reggae_16a reggae_17 reggae_18 reggae_19 reggae_20 reggae_21 reggae_22 reggae_22a reggae_23 reggae_24 reggae_25 reggae_26 reggae_27 reggae_28 reggae_29 reggae_30 reggae_31 reggae_32

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Thoughts for a Tuesday

5-4^ Raiding my dad’s garden. 5-10
^ Kitschy dream catchers.5-9a
^ Almond latte.5-9
^ A morning in Midtown Sacramento with Maggie.5-85-6
^ Pie + TV debate. Go Merica.5-5
^ Mmm, homegrown breakfast.

Thoughts for a Tuesday

  • I deleted 46,000 photos from my MacBook today, and it feels so good. They were all stashed in iPhoto, even though I back them up weekly on an external hard drive (because I’m the worst tech faker, ever, and don’t like the Cloud or the idea that I have to pay for more storage and really just don’t feel like dealing with it).
  • You know that feeling when you can almost breathe? My dad is out of the hospital now; I managed to finish and turn in five freelance stories; and I’m sooo close to finishing up the website that’s launching on Friday for a local business. Now my mantras are: “No more side jobs for an indefinite amount of time” and “Let’s buy all the plane tickets now.”
  • Speaking of planes, I booked a flight for a long weekend in Long Beach, my college stomping grounds. I’m super excited and anxious to go, but worried my favorite jaunts are going to be all modernized.
  • I started watching “Playing House” while creating aforementioned website. Oh my gosh – how has it been on for two seasons and I’ve never heard of it?! It’s just the right amount of “me” that I’ve been craving in a binge-worthy show.
  • And, guys, can we just talk about garden tomatoes and my addiction? I literally had to ask a doctor this week if I was ruining my stomach lining with them. But nope, it’s all good (she did recommend sleep, though).

That’s all, folks. What’s going on our there in your worlds? xoxox

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Five Senses Monday

1 Despite the fact that it’s nearing 2 a.m. and I’ve been waiting in the emergency room with my dad (he’s ok, btw) for 8 hours, this weekend was pretty sweet. It started off sort of straining. I stayed up late Friday and woke up early Saturday to work on side projects that have been stressing me out a little. But then I got out, and did a little photoshoot of a local biz person who needed some pretty pictures. And then I met up with one of my favorite humans, and we just had an afternoon to do whatever the heck we wanted. Turns out, I really needed to get out of my head and out of my projects and do something completely different for just a few hours. Do you ever have to do that?

I have pics of a lot of those hours, naturally. But first, let’s do this:

Five Senses Monday
(Play along! This is where I reflect on the last few days through the five senses)

Tasting: Buttered popcorn in the movie theater, where I felt like I hadn’t been in years and years. Homemade banana bread and fresh fruit at the farm stand restaurant; the best. So many tomatoes … I try for homegrown, but if I can’t, the organic farmer at the market has ones that are just as good.

Hearing: Oh ya know, some Adele, because I felt like belting it out to myself in the car. A little saxophone on the patio.

Smelling: That same buttered popcorn in the theater. Vinegar on my caprese salads.

Feeling: Exhausted right now and anxious to go home; obviously not inspired. Freezing  toes (though I’m glad I had a pair of long pants stuffed in my office desk drawer because I changed into shorts before leaving on Friday). Excited for deadlines to be over and weekend trips to commence!

Seeing: So many screens. At the theater. The interactive touchscreen I’m programming at work. The ones I’m writing stories. The phone I stared at for six hours in the waiting room a little bit ago.

And now, the photos:

Live music on a Saturday afternoon:
2Wandering downtown:3Wining and listening to the sounds:4
We started the afternoon in the pool, then wined-and-dined, saw a movie and then went back home and crashed. And then there is breakfast. Always breakfast.5This afternoon, I went to my dad’s house after he called and wasn’t feeling so hot. Summer was happening there:6
I got my tomatoes. 87a
And tasted garden cantaloupe, too:
9And this. Right now:
Thanks for reading, friends!

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