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What’s a nine letter word for true love?

March 25, 2018

From an early age I have always been drawn to word play. In continuing to remember my late Aunt Lily, as well as her wonderful husband, my Uncle Victor, I recall how incredibly adept they were at crossword puzzles. They would rip through the daily puzzles in the Chicago Tribune in mere minutes, all while maintaining their beautiful penmanship reminiscent of a pseudo Sanksrit font.

I, too, adopted this skill at a fairly young age, tiring quickly of the three panel cartoons, Dear Abby (for those of you who remember), and lousy horoscope predictions offered on the funny pages of the Trib or Sun Times. Nothing drove me more insane than finding the puzzle had been done by an older sister before I got to it. Only when Aunt Lily came for an extended stay with us, I marveled at watching her blast through the puzzle, and happily deferred to her to have the first crack at it. (three letter word for expert*)
 
By college I graduated to the NY Times daily puzzles which all aficionados knew grew increasingly difficult from Monday’s puzzle to Friday’s. At The Surf, an old diner where we Theatre School kids lunched, several of us would huddle around the puzzle over a typical lunch of french fries, coffee, and cigarettes. A painfully handsome and equally quiet fellow classmate showed himself to be a match for my skills, and soon we teamed up (“You do Down, I’ll do Across”) during those lunch breaks, which eventually lead to more than lunch- unfinished puzzles on the train ride home, then one last round at the bar.. equally puzzling, incomparably passionate as young love often is. Still, the crosswords remained, during hungover breakfasts, over drinks, and after the painful messy breakup, in a final meeting over dinner. When everything else fell apart, the crosswords proved to be a common uniting bond, the black and white tapestry in the sky of my life. (seven letter word for musical expression of love in the ’90’s*) 

When the social media dating scene started cracking open in the early 2000’s, I refused to be a part of it. I hated the idea of putting myself out in that way, vulnerable to anyone and everyone desperately  looking to connect. It felt inauthentic and forced. For fun, I joined the now defunct FRIENDSTER, and eventually was contacted by a man I didn’t know. He said, “HI.”

I said, “HI YOURSELF.” After a brief exchange, noting our common interests in books and music, we met for a friendly lunch. After a few of these meetings, wouldn’t you know it—the crossword puzzles began to appear at our lunch table. Not just the NYTimes puzzles, but the Sunday Magazine version. The Big One. Themed. That which was a gateway to many other challenging themes we took on—team work, relinquishing control, and in the end, gratitude, trust, and for God’s sake, a little sense of humor. Sensing the pattern, I knew that whenever a crossword appeared to me, it signaled love. That Man would later become my Husband, Father to my child, and lifelong partner in solving puzzles. (seven letter word for spouse*) 

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The satisfaction of completing a crossword remains, to me, unmatched by any other pleasure for the wordsmith or problem solver. It serves as an opiate, an innocent addiction, a balm for the sin sick soul, a straight shot to the vein for those who are at their best responding to crisis.Sometimes it can even act as a badge of honor and flexed set of muscles, such as on plane rides when I pride myself in blazing through the crossword in the airline magazine before takeoff while onlookers give me the side eye. It’s more than knowing the answer. It’s part secret language/inside joke for the enthusiast. The formulas and patterns are a very special kind of diversion for those literate enough to know who Will Shortz is. Ask me if you don’t. I’ll  give you a hint. (six letter word for proofreader*)

Answers:
(pro)  (mixtape) (husband) (editor)

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Pinky was a delight to work with...

Pinky was a delight to work with from start to finish. There were innumerable occasions that she went so far above and beyond what one would expect from an agent it is impossible to list them all here. Suffice it to say ours was not an “easy sell”. We had a very unique historical home on the Westlake/Echo Park border that required just the right agent and just the right buyer. Due to a family emergency, we moved from Los Angeles very quickly and our house was left empty while we tried to sell it the property from out of state. From the onset, Pinky handled everything like a dream...from stopping by to deal with a skunk that decided to take up residence, to managing the cleaners and painters, to attending local city council meetings to keep us updated on neighborhood improvements and shifting property values, to helping us deal with storm damage that brought down part of a retaining wall.

As a family we were invested in who the next owners were going to be. We wanted a great price but were not willing to sell to developers. Pinky had incredible patience as we turned down several offers from “not the right buyer”. She had a real understanding of not only the financial value of a classic home but also the emotional value in a property steeped in Los Angeles history. In the end both us (the seller) and the buyers were happy. I couldn’t have asked for more.

I interviewed many agents and even turned down working with several personal friends to work with Pinky because she put our minds at ease right from the start. We put our trust in her and she delivered 100%. In the end we walked away with not only a seamless transaction, but also a great friend!
— Pascha Solomon

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The Spider and the Rose

February 13, 2018

The year was 1978. I was 10 years old, and my sister Lynn, then in her sophomore year of high school, was assigned to create and complete a rug design using a 2’x3’ burlap grid and yarn, latch hook style. In class she had used an overhead projector to trace a pattern onto the grid in order to work on it at home.

Being the bratty youngest kid, hung up about being left out and forgotten, I despised anything around me that took the attention from me. I remember my folks complementing her endlessly about her stamina and perseverance, while I sulked in the shadows, despising that dumb rug. Lynn had chosen a rose motif and she worked painstakingly to ensure all her latches were hooked in the right direction, and that all the colors lined up perfectly with the guide she had created. She attended to every unfolding petal and curling leaf on that rose, all the while being oohed and ahhed by our parents.

Then came the day she ran out of red yarn. Our mom, who worked full time, picked up some red yarn quickly for her on the way home from the local Woolworth’s on Fullerton so the assignment, whose deadline was approaching, could be completed and turned in. To my sister’s chagrin, the red shades did not match. She finished it anyway, and the discrepancy was hard to ignore. She was terribly disappointed by it, and quietly, I grew remorseful watching her eyes scan the once lovely work, flawed by a hasty but well meaning mother’s purchase. 
 

The year is now 2018. One of my Christmas presents to my daughter was a latch hook kit of her own with a fox motif on it. While she is still mastering her own technique and building up her dexterity,  I have been stepping in and taking over to add some push to the progress. What began as tedious and tiresome evolved quickly as I was transported to a meditative, and what I can only describe as an ancient state of mind. Not being a very girly one to begin with, the thought of knitting or weaving or embroidery has always repelled me. But on our recent drive to and from Mammoth, seeing the little fox face emerge brought me to a surprising, arachnoid state of quiet stillness, reminding me of Lynn and that hateful rose, and I was 10 years old again—except this time, very sorry that her red yarns didn’t match. 

It may be too late, but I will ooh and ahh for her, staring at this terribly imperfect fox rug, wondering how many other opportunities for fulfillment and simplicity I had turned my nose up at over the decades. 

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I SEE YOU or A New Hope

December 22, 2017

Miss Cathy, also known simply as “SIS” to many at school and in the neighborhood where we do volunteer work, is sailing through her 70’s like a boss.  She has the moxie of a senior in high school, the reliability of a spirited pick-up truck, and the energy of a 2-year-old chocolate lab. Her granddaughter Sofia and our daughter Olivia are classmates, and she has saved me much heartache and stress on certain days when ending client conversations hasn’t been so easy, and Olivia might have be waiting outside of the schoolyard for me. Texting Miss Cathy and asking for her help with Olivia until I arrive 15 minutes later is always effortless. 
 
On October 1, Miss Cathy was one of the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. With a bullet injury sustained at the shoulder, Miss Cathy was fighting for her life in the ICU among many, many others. Do you know a Grandma who has been shot? The horror.
 
Just recently, our beloved friend Joe, a comrade of my husband’s since Grad School at CalArts and a highly respected photographer and passionate location scout, was on a job in Argentina. While crossing the street in the town of Boca, he was viciously attacked by a gang of hoodlums who repeatedly stabbed him, a man who has often been referred to as “the nicest guy you’ll ever know”. His wife Lena flew to be at his side in the ICU where he laid, in a coma.
 
And just last week, our long-time fellow community activist, fellow Realtor, and family friend Chris, landed on the front pages of the Los Feliz Ledger and the LA Times, wrongly and preposterously accused of “harassment”. 
 
Shot. Stabbed. Accused. 
 
How does one reclaim their power and avoid the pitfalls of such trauma? As with grief, are there seven levels of surviving being unjustly %&*#’ed with? First the shock, then the rage, then the frustration, followed by the vengefulness, then the self-pity and denial including over eating, over drinking, over intercoursing..….? And how, as a friend, a family member, source of support, can WE be the stand for the survival and ultimate triumph of others? So many of us are all about our own triumphs, and glories, and pomp and posturing—is it the nature of the soulless dimensions and isolated creations of our cyber world that invites such a desperation for real connection and longing for being adored? Is this the shortest distance to feeling alive? 

I have no answers. In fact, I’m still at the peripheral stage of rage on behalf of these loved ones. Perhaps the “how” exists in a humbler solar system. After all, as one story goes, could any of the players in the chaos ever guess what would come from a baby being born in a barn and cradled in a cattle trough? Has the world always been this unruly? 

 
I saw Miss Cathy for the first time since the shooting last week- beaming and badder than ever. “I feel great!” she proclaimed while her granddaughter, oblivious at the irony, tugged at  her sleeve to get going. I choked back tears and said “You’re my hero.” 
 
Word has it that Joe, less than a week after his attack, opened his eyes, smiled, and in a few days, took several steps on his own. Unstoppable and undefeated, though the memory of the incident remains fresh in his recall. 
 
As for Chris, despite the phony lynching and laughable accusations of inappropriate touching (the “victim” and he shared a mutual hug at a community potluck when a third person claimed he touched said victim inappropriately with his paper plate) and potentially humiliating news items, is still in his own ICU, taking to an out-of-town respite to minimize the attention. Ironically, the outpouring of support on behalf of his character and integrity, in my opinion, has bulldozed any negative suspicions or comments that some may still have.
 
I believe it’s safe to say—the world is still a good place, filled with beautiful people, kind souls, abundance, and joy. This is what I choose. And this is my wish for you. Even as bullets and lies and violence fly all around us, may you find your greatest power through peace. “If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.” —Obi Wan Kenobi to Darth Vader

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OLIVIA and friends a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away

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The Other Sister or WWHD?

November 25, 2017

Leah was vivacious, athletic, spunky, confident, and bold. Hazel was sweet, somewhat introverted, a tad top heavy, observant and precise. An aunt of theirs was once quoted as saying, “Hazel is the coffee, Leah is the cream.” We all grew up together during the  ’70’s/’80’s—going to Sunday School, camping, movies, beach days, roller skate dates—calling each other cousins.

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As a proper Filipino teen, you also attended folk dance class to continue the tradition of storytelling handed down as rites of passage and comings of age. Depending on the dancers’ height, ability or age, they were assigned dancing roles accordingly—the warrior, the farmer, the princess, the courtesans. A girl like Leah was easily cast to learn the role of the princess or maiden while sturdy types like Hazel and I could be counted on for the more agile or brute performances. 

I remember the first time I was partnered with Hazel for specific choreography—a women’s tribal war dance depicting the use of fighting sticks as weaponry. I wished it had been Leah—sure to bring fun and excellence to the partnership just cuz she was so cool—maybe being her partner would make me cool too.

Now, looking back, Hazel NEVER missed a step. Her dance space was exquisitely precise, easy and unassuming. I noticed she had a Mona Lisa smile—never brash or exaggerated for effect, but well timed and polished. Her laugh was hearty and her spirit gentle. She NEVER missed a step or struck me accidentally with her sticks as many other pairs experienced during rehearsals. 

I learned last week that after a decades-long battle with diabetes and a nail-biting wait for a kidney donor, Hazel passed away leaving behind three children. I’m told her struggle never found her any less graceful or optimistic.The lesson may be that true beauty reveals itself as a triumphant weapon, not in the absence of struggle but in spite of it.

While it smarts especially to lose someone from your childhood, it brings to the surface memories like the one above, finding clarity and completion in my teen broken-ness, adding yet another item to the thousands on my gratitude list. 

RIP Hazel “Haley” “Ethel” Noble.

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You know it's gonna be alright

October 28, 2017

In the early ’60’s, the Philippines experienced a massive cultural revolution, when The Beatles snubbed Pres. Marcos’ First Lady Imelda’s invitation to Malacanang Palace. It was a quiet coup for the likes of scholarly, folksy academics, by way of the study of Scripture, no less—peaceful, tiger-in-the-grass type resistance was alive and well.
      A young Pastor was known for being a champion diver in his village, an academic, unbeatable chess player and theologian. I learned later from a few of his compatriots in ministry, his name had been included on several of Marcos’ lists of so-called “resisters” and “dissenters”. He had a beautiful wife and three growing daughters, whose added revolution around him made for unsettling and restless times in a household. (Note: it’s said that the day his youngest girl was born, he closed a lucrative commercial real estate deal, working while he completed his Seminary studies.) 

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In a short time he earned a respected position as an ordained Reverend with his own flock to lead and inspire. Resisting what felt safe, but dangerously complacent in a turbulent society, this lover of adventure made the ultimate sacrifice and left his family behind to pursue a Masters in Divinity at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. in the United States of America, an entire world away. Consider that this was decades before cell phones and Internet. Hell—even the mail service was a precious expense and much mystified, leading to cultures of exquisite, tiny, perfect penmanship, letters wrapped in onion skin envelopes with the words “via air mail” written on the front, which could take weeks to come. Everyone said he shouldn’t, that he couldn’t... yet what’s a Resister to do?
      This choicefulness also came with immense sacrifice. His spirituality was not a case of martyrdom but of simple faith keeping. Not a stand for right or wrong, but a promise to BE better in a world that may never be what you want it to be. 
      In the decades to follow, again, he resisted what should have been a simple career trajectory, and he sought neither American ordination nor licensure, instead opting for a mission in social work with families and youth in crisis intervention for the City of Chicago. He never made his goals about profit. Yet today, he is a very, very rich man, whose spirit remains restless, albeit gentler. 
      WITH A LOVE LIKE THAT, YOU KNOW YOU SHOULD BE GLAD.
      Happy birthday, Pastor Ernie.

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Returning home

August 4, 2017

It’s always a good time to go to Chicago, and this was an exceptionally perfect weekend to visit my beautiful home town. Food and music festivals closed up intersections as revelers caroused on the sidewalks, enjoying the bliss of the long hot summer days filled with music in the air. Downtown bustled with the influx of summer tourists flocking to their moored vessels in the harbors of Lake Michigan. There’s never enough time to get it all in, even with plans best laid. It’s a  humble honor to call such a vibrant and architecturally and culturally significant town my home. Arriving becomes meditative, deeply nostalgic, and unavoidably I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

Yet, I still am who I am—aging, slower, not nearly the wild child of yesteryear who could be out the door by 9pm, to a late night Theatre by 10, to the bar by midnight, whether it be beer and argument or dancing our guts out, and to breakfast by 4am (because Chicago bars are civilized like that). It was all I could do to stay awake to Lyft over to the Daily Bar on Lincoln to see my old pal Carol B., and on another night, to CORK on Addison to gabgabgab with my dearest Jen P. Time flies like a thief in the night, and always did, in their company. 

Opting to miss my sweet cousin Joseph’s band playing at Elbo Room was a heartbreaker. It wasn’t just that they were headlining and probably not starting until midnight. It was the realization that I simply can’t manage the simple joys that were once a standard in my routine. So, I dedicate this monthly post to this talented, kind, intelligent, and absolute shredder on the guitar and vocals. His energy and youthful vitality, musical genius, and carefree sensitive spirit embody so much of what the city is for me. 

On one of the last days there, I drove down Aldine in Boys Town, thinking of all the beautiful ones once in my life, now relegated to relationships on social media. Keeping those unions alive and accessible in this way is strange and new, but I’ll take it for now. We’ll always have Chicago.

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ON MY WAY!

July 6, 2017

Unbelievably, it had been over 20 years since one by one this group of gals migrated from the Windy City to LaLaLand. A reunion lunch was to take place in Atwater Village, which was fitting in perfectly, right after my inspections in Hollywood. Little did I know how grueling the traffic would be due to the Carnavale Parade - Crawling down Franklin from Western to Vermont took over an hour. 

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What could I do - there would be no honking in perfect jazz B-minor arpeggio. The ability to be patient and content while chaos swirls is a constant practice - but what else, if not patience, would create the clearing for me? Practice. Practice it now, I breathed deeply to myself. Patience and Victory is mine. All is well. All is well.

 A unique bond is formed in College, especially in Theatre school. A certain level of intimacy becomes the symptom of the fever one runs when creating with others.
 
BUT, the city of lights and the desert winds sent us all in separate directions. Coming together for a check in becomes a much needed pit stop on our cycles of life. The last thing I wanted was to be late.

Finally arriving, nobody needed an apology or explanation. The confabulation was at a level of part hen house and part “This is Your Life” as we talked over each other, finished each others' sentences, hysterically reliving memories from the past and sharing our current heartbreaks, challenges and triumphs. Maybe it’s the profound gift of time that provides the perspective - but man, was I proud to be sitting there with such powerful, hard working, bad ass women. Ever changing & blossoming, some of us Mothers, some of us Wives, all of us Creators who were no longer dazzled by the idea of celebrity status but still committed to our self expression and artistry. The years gave me clear vision. As I regarded my old pals, I realized I was in the company of unquestionable fantastic talent, and absolute unstoppable warriors.

We said our goodbyes and roughly planned for the next visit, and as I drove away and back into the sea of traffic, a quiet confidence whispered silently to me - Keep practicing. Keep practicing. You got this. 

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CHECK OUT THIS CRAFTSMAN

June 3, 2017

During the Jazz Age, it is said that Josephine Baker, Count Basie, and other luminaries in the Arts movement were regular guests of the original owners of this incredible Craftsman Fixer. We're going to some of that fun into this ol' beauty on Sunday, 2:00 to 5:00 PM. Come and bring a friend to our Open House.

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Built in Hollywood in 1910 and moved to its present location in 1920, this 5bed/1.75ba home in the Westlake/Historic Filipinotown District retains many original features including coffered ceilings, pocket doors, stairwell ball finial, wood floor and beautiful leaded glass built-ins in the formal dining room and library. A large basement bonus room perfect for art or music studio offers plenty of additional storage. Additional unfinished space in attic area where another 1000+ square feet could be transformed into a multi-purpose loft space. While some systems have been updated, the home vamps patiently while awaiting the full re-imaginings of its next visionary owner, who not only grasps the value of this incredibly potent location, but respects the natural season that a timeless beauty that is this home commands.

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Minutes to Downtown/The Music Center, Echo Park Lake & Boathouse, Silver Lake and the Wilshire Corridor. Still not sure where you are? Just say Crawford’s Fried Chicken & Beer, Taix French Restaurant, Bar 1642, Bootleg Theatre, and the recently announced second location of Vaca Burger on Beverly. Welcome to 202 N. Westlake!

OPEN HOUSE

Come and bring a friend to enjoy seeing this classic
Echo Park / Historic Filipinotown Jazz Age Craftsman
202 North Westlake Avenue
Sunday, June 4, 2:00 to 5:00 PM

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Link to Slideshow and Details for Listing

Music video filmed at 202 N. Westlake, Filipinotown 90026

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SICK OF THIS #@%!

May 31, 2017

The great George Carlin used to say, “Did you ever notice your stuff is your STUFF, while other people’s stuff is their &*#$  ? It’s like, Hey don’t move my stuff, put your &%*@ over there.” That couldn’t be truer for me lately, as I have battled the feral cats who still believe my backyard is their litter box, suckered into paying good money for coyote urine crystals and dried blood / red pepper concoctions (all pretty much more *#$@). While I have started to get the upper hand on the cat battle, another $%^@# show has entered my daily life: DOG OWNERS refusing to pick up after their pets! Leaving me to clean it up! Total bull%&#*! People totally full of $%#@! Classic #$%@ for brains.

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Nothing irks me more than the mindless irresponsibility and blatant disrespect for the health, pride and well being of a diverse community of families, artists and creatives, small children on scooters and skateboards, pedestrians, and the elderly taking their gracious strolls each morning and evening. Behind my complaint is my commitment to having an environment that is healthy and pleasant.

On the contrary, the great Gary Keller has said time and again “What you focus on expands.” So I give great props and grateful acknowledgement to the thousands of dog owners who bring along poop bags and take their #$%@, er, their STUFF, with them. We all have $#%@ in our lives, whether it is dog related or not , and it is no question that the way we handle the small #$%@ is most definitely the way we show up everywhere and handle the more important *#$@ in our lives. 

If you haven’t already had enough of my #$%@ storm, write me back with any suggestions. 

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