Girl Time and the Art of Not Getting Mugged in LA

I love to spend time with my girlfriends.  We don’t try to impress one another, we have long, honest conversations, laugh until we pee, and stay up half the night talking about our hopes and  dreams.

I have recently enjoyed a couple of girl-time weekends without my husband.  First I went with a great friend to Jerome, a quaint, artsy town in Northern Arizona.  We signed up for an art class to make a kaleidoscope, we spent seven hours cutting glass, chipping plastic, and arranging polarized film to create absolutely beautiful works of art.

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The inside of my kaleidoscope

Spending time with my friend is always a pleasure.  We know that we can do something creative together and laugh at ourselves while we do it.  The following day we hiked in Sedona, a magical red rock paradise that I don’t get to visit often enough.  My friend is very fit and hiking together is always a bit of a challlenge for me to try to keep up with her, but I did my best. We hiked about seven miles and I forgot to take water.  That’s never a goood idea in the Arizona desert.  She shared her water with me, because that’s what good friends do.

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Capturing some fall colors in Sedona, Arizona

Another very good friend invited me to come to Los Angeles with her for a long weekend.  The first night we walked around her neighborhood picking up magnolia pods.  These were really interesting shaped pods, we were sure that we could create something beautiful with them.  Our only mistake might have been picking them up at night, in strangers’ yards.  Neighborhood dogs barked uncontrollably as we searched with flashlights for these pods.  Luckily, no one called the police on us and we now have a large bag of pods that will undoubtedly be created into a piece of art.

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The coveted magnolia pod

 

The next day we shopped in the LA fashion district, and Santee Alley.  We would be brutally honest as we tried on clothes.  “No, forget that one it makes your ass look huge.”  We love to bargain shop and took in all the ethnic flavor LA has to offer.  We walked EVERYWHERE.  On my last full day in California we made the decision to go back to the fashion district.  We didn’t care that it was raining, so we headed out to take the train to Union Station.  We didn’t expect the rain to continue, which is probably why didn’t bring an umbrella.  It’s a little over two miles to the area we wanted to visit again.  At one point the rain was coming down in sheets, couldn’t even see in front of ourselves.  Surely a street vendor would be selling umbrellas.  Nope, not on this day.  We walked at a quick pace and were occasionally approached by the homeless.  I would just yell “NO!” And we would keep walking.  As we walked down one unfamiliar street after another we both realized Google Maps was not being helpful.  Finally we found an open store and the shopkeeper sold us an umbrella.  Standing on the street corner, as we looked around it was painfully obvious to us both that we needed to get the hell out.  The streets were basically tent cities filled with homeless men.  We called Uber and waited in the rain.  He was only two minutes away, but we could see that he passed our block and would be a few more minutes.  Perhaps it was the appearance of two lost, middle aged white ladies but yet another homeless man approached us.  He asked for money, I told him we had none, our friends had our money, he said he was homeless and needed money to buy an umbrella.  He was a large and intimidating fellow.  I grabbed the umbrella out of my friend’s hand and said “Here’s an umbrella, go!”  He walked away with our umbrella and the Uber driver pulled up.  I was never so happy to get into an Uber in my life.

We were taken Santee Alley, aka Mecca for the shoppers.  We found more bargains we could not live without and decided it would be best to take Uber back to Union Station. That evening we laughed about our adventure.  When we stopped into a Starbucks for a late night cappuccino my friend noticed someone familiar sitting in the window, he had Dr Dre headphones, two Ipad screens and was noshing on a biscuit and a venti Americano.  Could this be the “homeless guy” who hustled us?  He sure did look like him.  Parked outside the Starbucks was our answer.

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A familiar looking umbrella was found in the back of the bike

Jumping Into The Deep End

We recently went to the Grand Canyon.  Its only a few hours from my home in Arizona but as often happens, you sometimes forget to explore what is in your own back yard.  When you consider that the Grand Canyon is one of the seven wonders of the world, it seems a shame that we haven’t been there in over a dozen years. On our way to the Grand Canyon we spent some time shopping and hiking in Sedona.  Sedona is a beautiful, magical place with soaring red rocks that’s only about ninety minutes from our house.  We had breakfast, hiked and took in the spectacular views.  Obviously we need to come hike here more often.

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Sedona’s Fay canyon

Seeing the Grand Canyon again makes you realize how insiginificant you are.  It also made me think about my life and what I want to leave when I am gone.  When I decided to retire one of the things that kept me from fully accepting the idea of retirement was acknowledge that I’m getting older.  I really do not accept my age.  Maybe that is the key to aging slower.  But the idea of being able to set my own schedule each day and make those days count is something that is weighing very heavily on me.

My husband has been retired for over eighteen months and he has figured out how to carve out his day to his satisfaction.  I am still a work in progress.   He is a woodworker who has rekindled his passion and found his inner creativity.  At the end of a week or so he has something tangible and beautiful to show for his work.

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My husband’s project

 

There are some terrific things about retirement.  Travel and time are the two most important ones to me. Time is both my friend and enemy.  Every day I consider a gift, but a gift that has an expectation that i will not waste it.  I have arrived at a time in my life where my value is still uncertain.  When I taught every day, I realized what value and difference I made in my own little corner of the world.  I would get hugs at the end of the day and I knew that I accomplished something important.

I need to look at retirement as a process, and not a destination.  I’m on this train and each desitination I stop at is up to me.  Not since I graduated college have I had so many opportunities open to me, but in reality I need to decide what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.  I’m grateful for the opportunity once again, but I don’t want to squander it.

I enjoy doing crafts, writing and photography but I’m not the artsy fartsy type.  I would much rather buy stuff at a craft fair than make a bunch of it.  I took a cookie decorating class with a friend and after three hours I had a dozen cookies.  It was enjoyable but if I had to make these for a living I would end up charging ten bucks a cookie and gain a hundred pounds. Next,  I thought I might take my dog to hospitals as a therapy dog, but he’s not that well behaved and pees when he’s stressed out, so I think that’s out. I don’t mind subbing in classrooms, but at the end of the day its only temporary.  I love spending time with children, and helping parents advocate for their children’s rights.  I think this is something that I can help others with but I haven’t figured out all of the details.  I love writing, and in some ways writing my blog is my voice, an outlet to the greater world.