Category Archives: Experiences

My City of Sins

Photo by Judd Weiss.

I live in the notorious Las Vegas, Nevada. I first visited this city in 2010 on my way to Los Angeles. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with it over the past three years. I began working here in 2011, and moved here in January of 2012. As of February of 2013, I’m about ready to leave.

People ask me what I think of Las Vegas. When people diss it, I rush to defend it, and when people gush about loving it, I shrug and add my negative pieces. I’m leaving, right? I must hate it here; but that’s not true. It’s an awesome city and I love it, but I can’t stay here. This isn’t home. Continue reading My City of Sins

Ink #5: Serotonin

Serotonin, or 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) is a monoamine neurotransmitter.

It regulates a number of functions within the body, but my largest interest in it is how approximately 10% of serotonin in the body is synthesized in serotonergic neurons of the central nervous system, where it regulates mood, appetite and sleep, as well as affecting cognitive functions of memory & learning.

Popularly, serotonin is thought to contribute to feelings of happiness.

A dear friend of mine (of nearly 20 years) has the above image tattooed on her forearm. She and many other friends of mine have struggled with depression. I’m immensely thankful in my life that I have always seemed to have enough serotonin, even in the days when I would experiment with various chemicals which would cause my body to release more (and can be problematic for those who do not produce enough).

I spend a lot of time around people who are taking substances which affect their serotonin receptors.

As my dear friend went to a tattoo shop here in Las Vegas to get a new tattoo following a tremendous heartbreak (in October of this year), I began speaking with the other artist in the shop that day, and within a few hours had decided to get my own serotonin molecule, for a variety of the reasons I’ve mentioned above.

In December I was in Los Angeles, and Judd Weiss and I did a photo shoot, which included a number of shots of my ink.

Photo by Judd Weiss.
Photo by Judd Weiss.

Tattoo #5. Done by Brett at Redemption Tattoo in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Eventually each tattoo I have will be explained and pictured on this blog. Today was the day for serotonin.

Ender

There’s a draft post here in my account on WordPress from the day I took Ender home. I never finished it. He deserved a post in life. He truly was amazing.

Ender was my baby birdie. He was hatched in late March, a yellow-sided green cheek conure (read: colorful little birdie!), and I took him home on May 21st of 2012 at eight weeks old. I named him after the protagonist of Ender’s Game, because I’m that much of a geek.

Ender, the day I took him home.

Conures have notorious personalities, and Ender was no exception. He had to be with me all of the time, constantly exploring whatever it was I was doing or cuddling on me or actively engaging in his surroundings. He was pretty quiet, especially compared to my Quakers, but he loved to make odd little noises and laugh at me. The only word I ever heard him say was “baby”. Continue reading Ender

The Place in My Heart for San Francisco

Half-written blog posts litter my “drafts” folder. It’s not like I don’t write, I just never write enough on one subject to feel it deserves to be posted on my blog, so it ends up being a post on Facebook or a comment. This habit needs to stop, this blog is a place for my collected thoughts, but it’s not collecting anything but dust lately. Virtual dust.

I just spent the Thanksgiving holiday in Boston and New Hampshire with my family and friends back East. After eight days, I flew from the East coast back to the West, but instead of my residence of Las Vegas or my home-of-the-heart, Los Angeles, I came to San Francisco for a little vacation from my vacation. I’m being hosted by a sweet-hearted lover and am enjoying the city by way of Vespa and BART.

It’s funny – I’ve been to this city a number of times over the past several years, and also visited as a child, and I’ve always liked it, but I’ve never loved it. Continue reading The Place in My Heart for San Francisco

Autumnal Equinox

I feel like an awkward conversation between two people is about to occur – why? Because I’m going to talk about the weather now.

The Autumnal Equinox happened this weekend. One of two days of the year where the day is the same length as the night: this one marks the coming of winter.

It’s funny though, to think about the seasons changing. I grew up in New England, and one of the perks of our location, my mother always told me, was “four distinctive seasons”. We had a cold, snowy, icy winter followed by a rainy and warming spring full of green, turning to a hot, humid, sunny summer and finally a crisp, cooling, leaf-turning autumn. In retrospect, it was picturesque, and I recall hoping for snow on Christmas day, loving the color of the leaves of autumn on my birthday. I remember the hot days and begging to go to the city pool in the summer, and the first hints of springtime, when the snow finally stopped and my mother’s garden would begin to green.

When I prepared to move to Los Angeles from Boston, I was looking forward to leaving the cold of winter and the humidity of summer behind. Everyone was always telling me it was 70° (fahrenheit) and sunny every day in West LA and oh, I couldn’t wait. Continue reading Autumnal Equinox

Burning Man 2012

I left Black Rock City exactly two weeks ago. That’s enough decompression for now, time to share some of the experience. This is by no means all-encompassing – so much occurred that I have no words for, so much exists only there, and everybody’s experience is completely different. This was mine.

I’ll start with the basics: Burning Man is a week-long annual event held in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada. For event details, I’d refer you to Wikipedia or the official website. I was attending for the first time, with a number of veteran Burners. My camp was primarily friends of mine from Los Angeles, and we were a registered theme camp called Steampunk Saloon. We had a pretty badass promotional flyer designed by the even more badass Art Lazaro.

steampunksaloon

Now, as one of my favorite first-burn blog entries already tells it: Civilization as we know it has ended and 50,000 survivors came out to the desert to throw the biggest party the world has ever seen. This is the Black Rock Desert. There was nothing here. Hundreds of people showed up pre-event to start making the skeleton of the city, complete with road signs, greeter booths, Center Camp and lots and lots of Porta-Potties.  By the way, dear people, some of whom I actually know, THANK YOU, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Continue reading Burning Man 2012

The Birds

I have two small parrots in the passenger seat of my car for this trip across the country.  When I tell people that, they tend to look at me like I’m crazy.  Where will I keep them when I stop on the trip?  Aren’t they loud?  Won’t they fly away? Who the hell brings two parrots on a cross-country drive?

A bird-mama does.

I have given up custody of these dear children of mine once since I’ve had them.  A painful nine months where I simply could not have them due to my housing situation.  It was hard.  I didn’t see them the entire time because I didn’t want to feel guilty saying good-bye every time.  They were in good, capable hands.

Since I got them back – fourteen days has been my limit.  The longest I will tolerate being away from them.

When I was a kid, I wanted a pet, and my mother told me I was allergic to cats and dogs (not true, different story).  So we got me a pair of budgerigars.  Small birds, colloquially known as “parakeets”.  Two turned into four, and my interest in birds grew, so I slowly acquired more – bigger each time. Continue reading The Birds

Evolving

The other night, I decided to listen to two of my favorite albums by Fiona Apple. She was one of my favorite musicians throughout my teenage years. Her turns of phrase, melodies and contralto composed a soundtrack to my development into adulthood – the arrogance of adolescence, the catapult of indignation, the soap-boxing, and that threatening but necessary lurch into realizing you fight for independence only to find you’re not quite sure what to do with it. Listening to the songs I loved tremendously – still do – brought back all those emotions and ideas that permeated my thought-processes from ages 12 to 20.

I’ve been keeping blogs for more than 10 years. Looking back, I want to hit myself sometimes, realizing my ideals, my half-formed concepts, my passions and my pains have been posted publicly in a place that doesn’t really have an erase-all option. Even if I went back in, deleting where I could, Google’s got some unforgiving caches, and in the arena of wish-I-hadn’t-said-that, I’m pretty screwed.

My generation, and the ones following us, have this to worry about. My parents might’ve had some wild ideas in the ’60s and ’70s, and a few regrettable Letters to the Editor might be located if one were to dig. The fact remains, however, that the witnesses to those developmental years of paranoia, self-importance, confusion, rationalization and opinion-forming are generally human, anecdotal, and aging. I don’t mean to pick on my parents specifically. Both of them may read this and send me indignant e-mails expressing their certainty that they never had bullshit theories or ideals that would come back to haunt them if they’d been armed with a blog address and an internet connection. I already know they did – they named my brothers after characters in epic sagas of idealistic political philosophy. It’s okay.

The fact remains that young people today are growing up in a world where, by the time they’ve hit college, they’ve already been exposed to political opinions and social ideals that may run contrary to their own. Chances are, through Facebook, message boards, Twitter, or a blog platform, they’ve already had a few things to say right back. They aren’t just reading the newspaper and crafting a carefully worded Letter To The Editor – which may or may not be published. They’re capable of quick-posting everything from “First comment!” to “[the writer] is an [inflammatory remark]!” to “the media is biased!” to “legalize weed” or, well, anything.

I’m not saying that isn’t awesome sometimes. There’s not much that is more satisfying than seeing an intelligent 16-year-old lay down the facts on some idiot online, by giving a well-reasoned reply to a inflammatory comment. But it’s still tough when I see my own commentary from age 15 regarding [insert pretty much ANY political issue here]. Though I’m happy to report I was generally using correct spelling, grammar and a thesaurus, I was also full of a whole lot of bullshit. Not to say I’m completely clean-and-sober of the bullshit now – I just try to cut out the logical fallacies, mass generalizations, and character attacks I used back then.

But, here I am, 23 years old, and thus far reasonably unscathed by the very public and sometimes obnoxious diatribes of my less humble youth. Although, it’d be interesting to run for President some day and see how much of it comes back to haunt me.

Over the past few years, this realization has made me a less active blogger. My 12- to 20-year-old self had a lot of dramatic ideas, especially philosophies of the religious, romantic, and political kind. Heck, I wrote a lot of bad poetry that is still lingering around on the Internet.

I’ve become convinced that no matter how thoughtful I attempt to be in my writing, I’m going to look back at it in five years and think, “Who gave that girl a blog?”

Despite my self-doubt, I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on me, and where I am in the world now.  If I were to compose a letter to my fourteen year old self (which I’m certain 14-year-old me would scoff at and ignore), it’d warn firstly that I will encounter love, loss, heartbreak and lies between then and now.  Secondly, that nothing can indicate exactly what my response to these events will be, just to maybe save my most passionate reactions for the paper-journal, not the digital one.  And thirdly, it’d remind me that I am small, the world is big, and the world revolves around this thing called the sun, not myself nor my generation.  There’s a lot of notes I’d leave myself.  And 10 years from now I’ll be telling my 23 year old self the same thing differently.

But here goes.