How was your weekend? Did you cook anything delicious? Did you go anywhere exciting? Did you have a nice cat nap with a book and an afghan?
I enjoyed my Saturday at Olvera Street, wandering the souvenir stalls and drinking jalapeno margaritas. We also made our way to Chinatown where I bought incense in a little shop and had fun looking at live fish in the fish market.
Today, I had plans with some friends I enjoy, but I was also kind of tempted to blow them off.
#90, Say yes to three social invitations that I’d prefer to decline, 1/3
Before you think I’m terribly rude, know this about me: I’m not big on large social gatherings with strangers. I knew three of the ladies that were going tonight, but there were another 25 school moms whom I didn’t know that were also attending the event. In these circles, more often than not, the conversation consists of something along the likes of, “What does your husband do?” And then it bounces back and forth, while each person compares their haves to your have-nots. Or vice versa. These are my least favorite kind of interactions in life.
Instead, I want to ask people what inspires them. I want to know what they love to do, what they ate for breakfast, what they read, and what makes them laugh. I don’t care how big their diamonds are and whether they are bored with their vacation homes- unless these are the beginnings to interesting and human stories where no one is perfect.
But I also realize that things and people change, including myself. I have met some great people at similar kinds of events, and I firmly believe that rigidity in thinking and the avoidance of things that might be uncomfortable, are the surest and quickest ways to become old.
So I said yes to a Painting Party at Sagebrush Cantina and showed up there at 5:00 pm this evening. There was a sea of Harley Davidson motorcycles in the parking lot, as there often is on the weekend. I was ushered into a back room, away from the bikers and music, and there were tables already set up with canvasses and paint.
My friends were already there and margaritas arrived shortly afterwards. We had a buffet of appetizers, including quesadillas, taquitos, and nachos. I enjoyed chatting with the girls and only had to report my husbands earnings once before the painting started.
Our able instructor showed us a painting and then gave us step-by-step instructions on how to re-create it. It felt a little like kindergarten- we mixed paints and dipped our brushes in water and raised our hands when we needed something.
It was interesting that everyone’s paintings were different despite the fact that we were all painting the same thing. (I snatched the photo below before the rest of the group assembled and I was promptly strong-armed by an eighty pound ex-cheerleader and told through clenched teeth to get my ass in the photo.) At least that’s how I heard it.
When we were done, we compared our paintings and opened our goodie bags. My bag had a bottle of tequila and some shot glasses in it. Perfect. I paused for a moment to appreciate how well the event had been organized.
I don’t think I’ll attend another painting party, but I’m glad I tried it and I’m grateful my friends included me.
#21, Try a New Restaurant Each Week, 8/52
The only new restaurant that I tried this week was El Paseo at Olvera Street. We shared a plate of chicken nachos and we had jalapeno margaritas. Usually when I visit Olvera Street, I buy taquitos from Cielito Lindo and eat them right out of the paper tray on a brick bench, but this was good too.
#211, Listen to a Weekly Podcast, 8/52
This week I listened to Unfictional, a podcast from the live show, subtitled “Don’t Judge Me: Stories of Bad Decisions, Dark Sides, and Guilty Pleasures”. You will love the story about Benjamin the Bunny.
#127, Perform a Weekly Random Act of Kindness, 8/52
I was a bit cranky this week. I can’t really explain it, but the first thing that came to my mind when I was trying to remember if I was kind, was the behavior that I spared people by employing a certain restraint in the face of rampant cluelessness.
To the CVS employee who decided to use her line as an opportunity to catch up with an old friend and take her time cooing over said friend’s pictures of her new puppy, I did not pelt you with candy bars from the shelves near your register. You’re welcome.
To the Chinese woman in the incense shop who would not let me take pictures in her shop, and treated me like a foolish rube, hiking up prices while looking at the quality of my watch, I still smiled and bought incense from you. You’re welcome.
To the gardener who disconnected our automatic sprinkler system when he couldn’t break into the locked box, and therefore setting it to pre-drought factory settings. I did not fire you. Even though I had to endure the water shaming stares of my neighbors while standing in a puddle on my driveway, I still let you eat lunch on my front steps and siesta under my palm trees. You’re welcome.
To the friend, who said he followed the link to my blog and then replied with, “It’ll never work. Any list over 20 items is impossible.” I will forgive you. I did remind you that I was on the 51st day of the “impossible” list, but I did not drive the point home that your criticism was poorly timed. I also took the hapless after-the-fact praise you muttered of, “oh, nice blog,” in stride and did not lecture you on the merits of thinking before speaking. You’re welcome.
To turn Edmund Burke’s famous phrase, I will say instead that sometimes the only thing necessary for the triumph of kindness is for good people to say nothing.
#14, Watch one Annenberg Iris Series Lecture each week, 8/52
This week I watched a lecture by Monica Nouwens. It wasn’t the usual lecture that inspires me. I found her work unsettling and I didn’t completely understand it. Both her work and her subjects seemed to be on the lunatic fringe. She showed two videos that, for me, were about ten times too long, and reminded me of the fabled emperor and his “new clothes.”
She showed a photographic installation which was narrated with spoken word that was both incoherent and profane. This is not the kind of art that generally appeals to me, but even so, I could see its value. I could see that her use of light and the intimacy with which she portrays her subjects, were both enviable and well-honed skills.
When I was younger I might have thought perhaps, I just don’t know enough to “get it” yet. But I’ve come to trust my visceral reaction to things, and I know I that I if I don’t love something, I will probably never grow to love it. I may grow to appreciate it, but it will never rock me.
Oh no, this is one of those moments in life when I think I am not voicing an original thought, but instead reiterating classic movie dialogue. <Insert internet search here>. Yes, here it is-
From Pretty Woman, when Edward takes Vivian to the opera, he says:
“People’s reactions to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic; they either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.”
Well, original or not, that’s what I meant.
#364, Do a Weekly Photo Shoot, 8/52
Compared to last week where I took hundreds of pictures, this week there were far fewer photos taken and a few technical difficulties I had to work through. I did take some photos at Olvera Street and in Chinatown, but the pressing crowds and the fact that I was visiting with family, made things challenging.
#119, Attempt a new recipe each week, 8/52
This week I made Amy Tan’s pork dumplings from Grace Young’s book, Breath of a Wok. It was great to make something new and very lovely that Grace herself took the time to lend a word to the conversation.
I also made mozzarella from a kit. I had no idea it would be so easy.
313 days to go!
Have a great week. : )