The Alchemist

I read it today after it was suggested to me last week. And after I read “Warrior of the Light: A Manual” last night. I am desperately seeking answers. And for one of the first times in my life, I am listening. I see that there are messengers all around me.

I have had a lifelong obsession with the desert. The only person I know who has ever truly understood it is the person who put the obsession there: my father. My mother even laughs and says “you and your father.” Every other person I know, who truly knows me, understands one aspect about the desert that I do. But there’s never been a single person who gets why the very concept of a desert or the presence of the desert on the Earth is so meaningful to me.

Sometimes, I don’t even know that I fully understand it.

Then, every now and again, I read something that speaks so eloquently about the power of the desert. The life in it. The energy. The answers that it holds.

When I first started teaching, the last three months of that first school year were plagued by these dreams. It was the same dream every single night. Just an open desert. There was something there that I did not understand or could not see. So, night after night, it haunted me. I’d wake up in a cold sweat, not knowing exactly what I was supposed to be gathering from these sleepless nights.

So, I took them to a spiritual advisor. And through eight days of meditation and zero talking, except with him, I was able to get some answers. And I returned to Los Angeles by way of the ocean, thinking that I had washed away the desert.

Until it happened again. Another crossroads. And I remember this clearly. I went to my parents’ house, and I said that I was going to pack some things up the next day and go find my soul in the desert.

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All Things "S"

In honor of Saturday…..

SUN: I got plenty of it today! Tanaya and I took her new dog, Bella, to Griffith park for a pretty lengthy hike. It was a cool enough day to just enjoy the warm sun on my skin. It’s always nice to be outdoors!

SIDEWALK: We stopped on the way back for what supposed to be a hamburger for me. (I ended up with a chicken on ciabatta, but that’s not the point.) We ate at I believe it was called The Mustard Seed Cafe. We were able to sit out on the sidewalk with Bella and enjoy some more outdoor air.

SPEED: I took another drive out into the desert. Cabazon, to be exact. There was a lot of traffic getting out of Los Angeles, but it was a nice drive once I hit Beaumont.

SOUL: It was a pretty trying week. I think that’s why I was so excited to take a long drive. It was nice to be alone with my thoughts and loud music and to just let the week go. It gave me a great sense of peace. I think that sometimes, even though I do need to talk about what’s going on, I get to the point where I really don’t want to tell the story again.

SLOTS: I played at Morongo. I lost the least amount of money I’ve ever lost in a casino. That was largely due to the fact that I discovered 2-cent slot machines.

SUNSET: Oh my goodness, the sun was amazing. A huge orange ball in the sky. It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve been able to see it at that point in the sky. I was just about to pull over to take a picture, when I thought to myself that I should just remember. And I will.


-It was nice to read this  morning that Shawn Estes had been cut from the major league roster.

-Me taking joy in Estes being cut does not make me a mean person. Just one who doesn’t forget.

-It was not so nice to read that Chad Billingsley had suffered a groin injury. Argh! That cannot be good.

-I feel kind of “off” right now physically.

-I love that Desperate Housewives is online for free.

-I need to start reading again. I’ve totally blown the 52 books in 52 weeks plan.

-Tanaya and I redid our website for the millionth time (ok not millionth, but it feels that way). I wonder how long we’ll like this version.

-I don’t get why people are mean. I really don’t. It’s tiring.

-I’m happy with the way my first wave of spring cleaning went. I love the space in my living room now.

-I want to paaaaint!

-Going back to teaching is simultaneously exciting and terrifying.

-I have a very strong desire to see stars in the desert sky.

-We devised this plan to circumvent paying the $15 parking fee at Dodger Stadium. It mostly involves Manny Ramirez and his car.

-I appreciate responses to job inquiries.

-I need to stop doing searches on the Century 21 website.

-The pastrami and jalapeno sandwich at the Yardhouse is positively amazing and well worth the gallon of grease I probably consumed.

-I’m on a super high caffeine intake plan right now and still sleepy as heck.

-I can’t wait until the sun is rising at 6 a.m.

-I’m a sneezy mess right now thanks to the wind, but I love the clear days so it’s a pretty fair trade.

-I found out that there’s a “Mary” at the Alameda post office, which is my home one. “Mary” at the Boyle Heights post office is one of my favorite people on the planet.

-I’m excited to get actual prints from Shutterfly.

-I’ve become a little addicted to stretching.

-I have realized that I jaywalk in front of the Hollenbeck police station far too much. It’s a wonder I haven’t been cited.

-I like Chris Matthews a lot more now that the election is over.

-I have a huge desire to get on an airplane and go somewhere. Like now.

-I don’t like falling asleep when I’m cold.

-I’m ready for something electric. Like electric blue.

Camelback Park

In some very odd way, I consider myself to be a baseball purist.


I like fields that point to the South. I like real grass. I like simplicity. No luxury boxes. I don’t like ads in the outfield, at least not tacky ones. (The “hit this sign for a suit” that hung in Ebbets Field doesn’t count.)

During the entire drive out to Camelback, I kept saying in my head “Holman Stadium.” I couldn’t let it go, and then I wanted to call it Vero Beach. Old habits die hard.

And, honestly when we turned into the dirt parking lot (very cool, by the way, and only $5), I was suddenly nervous. I feared that I was going to be walking into some Petco-Chase Field hybrid that would make me want to run and pray that the Dodgers would move back to Florida.

I was so pleasantly surprised to walk along a winding path that was both concrete and dirt. The feel of walking across the desert definitely came to mind and that made me happy. We walked along a “lake” of reclaimed sewer water that a park usher said the next day someone jumped into. I could see the appeal, minus the fact that it had once been in a sewer.

The practice fields were stunning, and it was evident that the sod was freshly lain, which is also one of those thingsspring-trainingb-1-of-1 that makes me happy without knowing why.

Entering through the gates was somewhat of a relief. I think I described it as an “amusement park for a baseball fan.” The food vendors would discretely un-discrete, yelling out their wares and hoping for customers. The structures blended in with desert colors and it almost made the green grass an “oops” moment, as though a baseball diamond just dropped out of the sky into this desert oasis.

The accessibility of the field made this Dodger fan’s day as I was three feet from Matt Kemp, was able to lean over the “wall” to have my picture taken with Jeff Weaver, and I think I could literally smell the grass. (But that could have been my overactive, giddy imagination.)

Ambiance aside, the logistics were equally impressive. The outfield “berm” was magnificent. We spread out a blanket and enjoyed the game from left field. On our second day, our seats 10 rows behind the Dodger dugout were spacious and comfortable. Our telephoto lenses were more than enough to capture up-close pictures of our favorite players. Even more importantly, the usher at the Dodger dugout was more than happy to let us lean over the fence and snap more pictures.

I was able to see a very awesome moment when James McDonald and Clayton Kershaw were in a laughing fit, both with towels wrapped over their respective pitching arms. For a brief moment, I remembered years of watching the Dodger dugout on TV and my joy in seeing that the players actually do have fun playing a game.

The ambiance of the stadium was absolutely amazing, and I was not disappointed at all. The only things I would change are the hot dogs and the scoreboard. Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times wrote about the fact that Farmer John did not want part of this, so it was Hoffy Dogs. It was too much of a disappointment, I’m afraid. The other issue I was having as I was sitting on the edge of my seat over Kershaw’s too-high pitches was the lack of the radar gun reading and a full scoreboard with pitch counts. I think spring training of all times is the time for those things. So, those would be my two minor critiques.

All in all, I give kudos to both the Dodgers and the White Sox for a job well-done with the design and layout. It truly made this baseball purist a very happy person.

Knees, Hearts, and Soul Twists

I hurt my knee.

I first noticed the slight twinge when I returned home from New Mexico. I’m not sure exactly what I did to it there. I don’t think anything special. It stiffens up so I was a little worried to drive (but it’s my left knee, thank goodness!). Then, there was the whole being on the highway on my elbows and knees. My scampering to get out of the way out of a car kind of hurt it too.

So, now it clicks. And hurts when I walk downstairs.

I ran a mile today. Quite easily. So, I’m relieved about that. It just means I can’t curl up my legs right now, which makes me kind of sad….

I’ve been thinking about what’s been filling my heart lately.

The desert.

It sounds funny, and I wasn’t going to give much credence to it, except that I remembered something that I learned a couple of years ago. To me, the desert symbolizes something inside of me. It’s dry, but it’s beautiful. It’s just about where I feel like everything is complete.

When I woke up in Las Cruces on the second morning, I remember what my thought was…”the desert is why I believe in God and why I believe that He loves me.”

It’s as simple as that. I know it’s strange to go toward it so often, but it fills something that is often not filled in other ways. Maybe it’s just filling my heart with what makes sense to me and that’s my truest self. But I also think it has a lot to do with my faith in God, and I can live with that.

I had the thought today that perhaps I should stop being so nice to people who aren’t always so nice to me. The very next thing that I thought was that it would suck to live like that. So, oh well.

The Los Lobos have this obscure recording called “Soul Twist.” I’ve only heard it on a live recording, and it has no lyrics.

I absolutely love it.

I like to think about the ways that our souls get twisted up. I think mine looks like a Twizzler. And that makes me smile because it’s twisted exactly to the shape that I want it to be twisted in. Fast and slow. Happy and sad. Bright and dark.

It’s my soul. Twisted.