Sunday, July 31, 2011

Was it Easy Being Picasso?

The other night Kim and I took a walk over to Glendale Blvd for the last Atwater Village Summer Nights on the Boulevard of the summer. It's not much of an event but it's nice. You can wander through little stores that display, in their windows, the very soul and dreams of the shop owner. Many are suffering through the realities of business and you can feel the self doubt as you spot corners being cut in product and displays. Most will be gone within a year, and new dreamers will then take their places, chasing their passion for knitted cell phone covers. It's inspiring and heart breaking at the same time.

All these thoughts were in my head while recently talking to a longtime and dear friend who has followed her passions all the way to Spain in search of the ultimate dream—not an entrepreneurial endeavour, but a higher goal—Love. Much like my own experience with 5 Boroughs Ice Cream and those "Dear Diary" businesses along the boulevard, my friend is struggling. Plopped down in the middle of a foreign country, with a minimal grasp of the language, hard financial stresses, and renegotiating a lifelong contract with epilepsy—she's keeping her chin up—but barely.

All of this makes me ask why. Why does anyone ever chose to open a small business or attempt a relationship when every card is stacked against you and the fail rate is so high? The only reason I can think of is because we cannot not do it. It is in us to do. When given the chance at starting my ice cream company I could not have said no, even though the numbers clearly made no sense. And I've read interviews of successful artists, athletes, and the like who when asked what made them do it answer simply, "I couldn't not do it. It's who I am, successful or not." This makes me believe that this is what we are all doing. These decisions lead to experiences we are compelled to do and to not do them would leave a hole in ourselves so large as too never be filled.

However, these experiences are fraught with the voices of naysayers and self-doubt, "Why have I done this to myself? What was I thinking? Why me?" But surely the greats have had these same thoughts. Surely, the Picaso's, Julia Childs, and the Barishnikovs of the world have thought, "This was foolish, I should have stayed home watching Raymond re-runs." They too had to struggle through the writer's blocks, the absence of clear direction, and the poverty of living a life they can't help but live—and so must we. Each one of those big-dream, small businesses on the boulevard, each person sacrificing for a chance at love, each and every one of us struggling to get a stifling 9-5 job are living the life we cannot not live. And much like the Picasos of the world, each one of us gets up everyday to live that life that only we can live, making art of our lives just by living and feeling it—for there can be no art without suffering, and no success without failures

Monday, July 11, 2011


Although I have taken a few walks since my last post, I have obviously not been back here to write anything. Reasons? Well, there are the usual: I'm tired, don't have time, uninspired, what to write about, and the idea that I have absolutely nothing worthwhile to actually write.

BUT, last night as I dwindled off to sleep, I succumbed to my wife's habit of ending the day by reading a book. I looked through the stack that she keeps, and saw some old favorites as well as some new library offerings. I thumbed through several different synopsis and pages only to ultimately land on one of my all-time-best-books-of-the-world titles, Travels with Charlie, by Steinbeck. I've read this book several times, but due to my incredibly sieve-like memory, it always seems new to me. Sometimes I only get a few chapters in and then lose interest, other times I am sad to have to finish it.

Last night it was like an ice cold glass of water after a hot day of yard work! Instantly I was thinking and wishing that I was Steinbeck and could tell my small journeys'  thoughts as adequately as the legend himself did his longer trek. sadly, I'm no Steinbeck. But obviously it motivated me enough to at least write this small ode of inspiration. Sometimes the right inspiration is what is needed to keep the ball rolling, or set it in a new direction.

Also, to anyone who sees life as a journey, I cannot recommend this book enough. It so eloquently sums up  the traveler's urges that plague us seekers of something and somewhere new, as well as drilling to the deep satisfaction we feel when on the move or nestled in a nook along the way.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Locally Grown

Total milage: approx 3.5 miles

Yesterday Kim and I kept it local by just wandering around the neighborhood to some of our favorite places, and checking out some new stuff: We checked out the new record shop, the farmers market, the corner farmers market, and grabbed a burrito at the bodega with one outside table. 

The beauty of buying in an up-and-coming neighborhood is watching it actually come up. Glendale Blvd is where its all happening which is the street that Kim and I first stopped for lunch at 3 years ago while apartment searching. It was that lunch that sealed the deal for us on Atwater Village. To us it felt like a beach town without the sand, fog, and traffic-perfect. 

Sometimes its just really nice to enjoy the few blocks that surround you, no driving, no planning, no matter how often you've see them.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Home Stretch

Distance: .72 miles (out and back)

Was home sick all day yesterday, but I'd have to say the the short walk to the caldasac and back with the dog (Ollie) was a highlight. I've been sick for days now. Not bad enough to miss work, and since I get paid by the hour that is a good thing; but, sick enough to make each day drag on and on and on. So finally I had a day off and spent it inside with the exception of this walk.

The highlight of Ollie's days are his walks-as is with many dogs. He has a yard, which he uses to sun himself with but as far as exercise goes it's all about walks. He doesn't chase balls and he rarely wants a tug-of-war, all he usually wants is to be out and about smelling the news on each tree and "writing" his own over it. Although he does enjoy the exercise, I believe that for him the walks are more about staying connected to his surroundings. He doesn't like long walks, he never has a destination in mind, and as Tucan Sam advised, he truly follows his nose-it always knows.

I could take a page from his book, as could most of LA. Too often I sit on the couch rather than getting out there because I tell myself a walk to the corner and back is not worth it. No, the only thing that would make prying my butt off the couch would be a long hike! Nonsense. A long hike in nature is great to mix things up, but what could be more important than getting neighborhood news first hand as you talk to neighbors, watch local businesses opening and closing, or as I like to do, keep tabs on the "secret" dialogue of local gangs via their tagging. A simple walk to the corer and back gives me all this info and more if I let myself be aware of it.

Sometimes it takes my best friend to remind me that its always worth a walk to the corner, if just to get a look at my house from the sidewalk, as we return to the couch within.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lunch Time

Ran out for a quick walk at lunch today. Around 2 miles. Blissfully empty head today. It's a relief to not have anything really on my mind. The day could not be nicer, a perfect SoCal day. I enjoy the industrial surroundings at my work for walks-with exception of the fumes that emanate from the painting/printing/resurfacing work going on around the hood. But the freedom of open sidewalks, junk dumped where it should not be, and little clues to the underside of society that lives around here at night all make an interesting picture of a place most (including myself) would not go out of my way to see.

Here's a pic of my route.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Individual Paths

I didn't make time for a walk today. I was tired  from being awake half the night with insomnia, fighting nightmares where literally our house was haunted and trying to kill us. We were deciding whether to sell it without telling anyone, or wondering if we demolished it and built a new house on the same property if the deadly spirits would return with the new digs. I'm sure this nightmare is to be continued, so I'll try to keep my two followers up to date on that.

This dream was simple to decipher: we are currently in danger of losing our house. The house has been a crushing financial burden since buying it after my wife lost her job at the same time all my freelance work dried up. This house has felt like it has been trying to kill me since we bought it-even when I'm awake. Scary times. Which makes me think quite a bit about how we got to this point? We are two educated, smart, and creative people who have put our dreams out there, only to have them handed back to us. We've done things the right way, more or less, but here we are, facing very hard decisions.

At age 39 going on 50 I can see clearer than before where I have made my mistakes, if you want to call them that, and where I have found my strengths, if you want to call them that. It feels very much like we chose to live out our own self proficies, we actually choose our own paths. I personally never thought I could pull off making 5B Ice Cream a success-in my mind it was a farce, no matter what success it brought. The farther it got, the more I convinced myself it would never work. Each step of the way I could see how impossible it was, and how wrong I was doing things. Ultimately, I proved myself right.

 Tonight my wife told me of how her own actions had determined her diminishing TV career, how she was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. Each moment of success was tainted by a cloud of doubt and a need to hold on to each moment (not enjoy it-just hold on to it) for fear they would be all over tomorrow. And she did not enjoy it, and much of the momentum is over.

I see friends facing divorce because they chose to turn a blind eye to who their spouse really is-they "always knew it would end this way". I see other friends "trapped" in jobs they "hate" but are who are unable to see themselves in any other role. I see others married to the love of their lives, but drowning themselves in a sea of disconect and miscommunication, so therefore they do not communicate or connect.

It feels to me in this very moment that we are all in more control of our own destinies than we want to think we are. Sure, we cannot control everything and everyone around us, and why would we want to; but, we are all living the stories we have told ourselves in one way shape or form.

Of course the problem is that you cannot just flip a switch and tell yourself a new story of how successsful you are suddenly going to be. Positive thinking is a start, but ultimatly the new script must be real. That's the only way they work. And perhaps this is where the control of our destinies ultimately breaks down? Perhaps this is where we are forced to face the shortcomings and the successses of our self-fulfilling prophecies-because we are doomed to continue writing the same story for ourselves until we are exhausted by them-and this we cannot control. One can hope that eventually we tire of living the same story over and over, and at some point start crafting a new one.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

First Steps

When thinking about what my dream job would look like for about the millionth time, I came up with walking. I love to walk. I'm not sure if this is even possible, but why not try? What else am I doing (aside from everything). But I figure in today's modern world where sex tapes make you famous, there are professional life coaches, and gas costs over $4.00 a gallon, anything is possible.

Walking for me is meditation. I walk off stress, I walk to explore my surroundings, and I walk for exercise. Some of my most enduring memories are of family hikes in the woods of central NJ, getting blissfully lost in foreign cities, and even watching the events of 9/11 happening in front of my eyes while walking into work and into a new reality for America.

This blog is an experiment on many levels. Since moving from NYC to LA three years ago, I have found it challenging to incorporate walking into my life as it was in New York. This car culture was a shock to my system resulting in weight gain, increased stress, and growing back issues. It's hard to believe that I was healthier in New York City than I've ever been since moving to sunny California, but there it is.

This blog will chronicle my efforts to exercise my physical well being, my mental attitude, and my writing abilities. I make no promises on any of these, but each journey starts with that first step, and this is mine.