Three Minutes Is All It Takes

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IMG_4804Breathing is so easy.  We do it all day long without thinking about it.  Look at us go!  We can even do it in our sleep – unless we have sleep apnea and require one of those crazy masks that drives our sleeping partner crazy with its wheezy noise.

The reality is WE SUCK AT BREATHING.  We take shallow breaths that barely keep us alive.  You know who doesn’t suck and takes long, deep, relaxing breaths several times a day?  A smoker.  Well, at least until they develop emphysema…from smoking.  Think about the smokers you know at work.  They go outside often for a break which the rest of never take because we (a) are not addicted to poison and (b) prefer to suffer all day under the crushing weight of our workloads.  Smokers inhale and exhale deeply several times, maybe shoot the breeze with another smoker, and stand in the sunshine to soak up some vitamin D.  You’d probably be called a slacker instead of an addict for standing outside without a cigarette; I mean, who just stands there and breathes deeply?  OK, maybe that guy with the ponytail from accounting, but he also sports a brown leather fringed vest on Casual Fridays.

Yesterday, one of my coworkers turned me on to an app called Breathe.  It’s free and it’s awesome.  He and I and two other coworkers tried the guided three minute mindful breathing mediation and it blew my mind (into relaxing).  In a soothing voice, the app lady starts you off by asking you to relax certain muscles in your body, like your face muscles.  Relax yours right now.  Were they tense?  Don’t lie, I know they were.  My entire body was so tense and I had no idea I was walking around like that all day.  She asks you to breath deep, then breath normally, then it’s over.  Three minutes later we were all feeling good.  And we didn’t have to wash our hands and pop a mint afterwards (although I probably should have gone for a mint because that Baja salsa I had for lunch was still kicking around).

Try breathing y’all.  And report back.

Happy New Year!

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According to a friend I had lunch with today, whatever you do on the first day of the new year sets the tone for the rest of it.  I’m not one to brag…but: I walked a mile to a restaurant, ate a healthy and delicious meal whilst enjoying the company of a fabulous friend, walked a mile home, did some DIY home decorating, and am now about to binge-watch the rest of Marco Polo and drink a bloody mary.  Not bad, right?  Although I did get scolded for walking in LA, which is apparently a crime.

I hope your first day was filled with laughter and friends and love.  May your path be filled with light.IMG_4493

 

Go Here, Now

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I have been going to the Central Coast of California since I was a wee fetus.  The trip there in the family station wagon was long for both kids and adults, but as soon as we rose out of the piping hot valley and smelled the cool salty air, we all perked up.

While living in NYC, visits to the sleepy beach towns that dot the central coast were few and far between.  Now that Monkey and I live in Los Angeles, we plan on taking every opportunity to enjoy long weekends by the seaside.  We have, in fact, spent the last two weekends there!

My favorite towns are Morro Bay and Cayucos.  Morro Bay has a touristy strip of shops and seafood joints along the bay, but still maintains its fishing village charm.  Cayucos is a quiet surfer town, with beach cottages (most available for vacation rental) that have yet to be torn down and mega-sized.  The main street is about 1,000 feet long with no street lights, only one bar, and one gas station.  I know a lot of people like Pismo Beach but to me it always seems a little rundown and weary.

Here are some pics from my last two visits – with more to come in the future.

P.S.  I am leaving out the pictures of the dead fish head and the gross potato bug that was sunning itself on the rocks.  You’re welcome.

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Sunshine & Rainbows

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Monkey and I have settled into our new home in Los Angeles and are enjoying every moment of the balmy November weather.  Have I been judge-y of Angelenos who wear puffy vests and Uggs when the temperature turns a frigid 65 degrees?  Maybe.  But then a ray of warm sunshine hits my face and I forget all about those people with thin blood.  (Is that a real thing?  Does your blood actually thin if you live in warmer climates?  Must use interwebs to find out.)

Enough about the weather – let’s focus on some of the other things that make LA such a liveable place: Trader Joe’s found everywhere with no ungodly long lines; hiking trails here, there and everywhere; driving apps that figure out the quickest route so you can avoid road raging; friendly neighbors who verge on nosy but hey, they’ll know if someone is breaking into your apartment to steal your underwear (this has actually occurred before, in a bizarre land known as Burbank); farmers markets are year-round; CVS and Walgreens sell booze; Monkey has become friends with a Pekingese named Tina; I can finally buy in bulk y’all!

Here is a shot of our street, one morning after a rainstorm.  Double rainbow!

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What’s So Great About New York Anyway?

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Oh, everything.

This week, Monkey and I say sayonara to NYC and konnichiwa to Los Angeles – Santa Monica, to be exact.  We are trading freezing winters and icy salted sidewalks for palm trees and warm ocean breezes; reliable public transportation for butt-numbing commutes; an all black wardrobe for…well, an all black wardrobe.

The neighborhood we are moving to is residential, so it’s very quiet.  Everyone is fit – it’s near the famous kill-your-glutes-stairs – so it’s a requirement that I get in tip-top shape or be kicked out of the neighborhood for bringing down home prices with my muffin top.

New York is a very special place.  I will miss my friends, my coworkers, the leaves turning, the first snow, opera singing buskers in the Columbus Circle station, wild thunder & lightning storms, trips upstate, Naya (best restaurant in NYC, go there), street art, bottomless brunches, my barbershop, and a thousand other things that make this place unique.

Once wifi gets hooked up in the new place, I will be sharing my California adventures with y’all.

This is the last photo I took from my apartment.  Love. This. Place.

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Creepy Mannequin Party

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This past weekend, Monkey and I took a Metro North train out to the north shore of Long Island to visit a friend.  Normally, I spend part of the two-hour journey passing judgement on other passengers: loud cell phone “tawkers;” parents who let their offspring terrorize other travelers while simultaneously spreading animal cracker debris over a ten foot radius; a group of guys in their mid-twenties heading out to a friend’s wedding, each trying to outdo the other with tales of female conquests, gross out stories that involve liquor and vomiting, or debating whose boss is the bigger douche bag.  Sadly, this train ride was rather dull.  Monkey and I shared some apple slices, then she napped in her carrier whilst I dove into the new Veronica Mars novel on my iPad.

My friend decided to take me to Old Westbury Gardens, which is a stately old mansion sitting on a shitload of land.  I wish I could tell you more about its history but, to be honest, I was not paying attention.  Why, you ask?  Because I was distracted by the weird mannequins they had set up in some of the rooms.  This is the first historic home tour I’ve taken where they used fake people to set the scene along with the antique furniture and decorations.  We giggled nervously when we first saw them because they were simultaneously wacky and spooky.  We both immediately sensed that they came to life at night and threw creepy mannequin parties.  See for yourself:

IMG_4078IMG_4079 IMG_4080Told you.

The grounds were lovely though and we spent a fair amount of time strolling around snapping photos of everything. And then we saw it – a small sign along a dirt path: Dog Cemetery.  WHAT.  Of course the first thing that came to mind was Stephen King’s Pet Cemetery, which scared the living daylights out of me when I was younger, but this pet cemetery turned out to be very sweet.  There were seven or so small headstones, some with multiple dog names (not sure what that was about…a puppy flu, perhaps?).

IMG_4114And last, but not least, we saw a mustached monkey:

IMG_4088P.S.  Do not eat at the Garden Cafe.  Trust me.

I Dig Cemeteries

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Wait.  Not literally.

In my younger days I avoided cemeteries, believing that if you walked through a graveyard you would be able to feel all the regrets and unfulfilled desires of those who passed, floating around you like gnats.  Yeah, I’m weird.  Nowadays I appreciate the peacefulness and serenity of cemeteries.  I always wonder as I make my way between the large mausoleums and ornate headstones if the people lying in or beneath them were just wealthy and vain, or truly cherished and memorialized in grand style to reflect how much they were valued by loved ones.

My friend Jill, who also digs cemeteries, suggested we visit Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.  It is the largest and most beautiful graveyard I have ever seen.  After entering through a gorgeous Gothic revival archway you are greeted by a park-like setting with rolling hills, shady trees, ponds and chapels.  I actually thought for the first time that this is where I’d like to rest my cremated bones, right next to the koi pond.  Jill and I ended up driving around a good portion of it (they offer maps, which you’ll need to navigate all the streets – yes, it is so large it has streets and avenues).  There are many famous people buried here, like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Leonard Bernstein.  If you don’t have a car and don’t feel like hoofing it, they have trolley tours on Wednesdays and Sundays.  Believe it or not, on the day we visited, a wedding was taking place in one of the chapels.

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