Walking in L.A. (Notes on That One Time I Didn’t Die) Also, GIVEAWAY: Grand Taxonomy of Rap Names Print

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I’ve been feeling unwell lately, and I really thought it was because my body missed smoking so much (Today is my 50th day of being cigarette-free. Cold turkey after 18 years.), but I went to the doctor this morning, and now I have to go get a scan or some shit. Also, they told me I can’t eat or drink anything until then, and as I have shared on multiple occasions, one of my biggest fears in life is dehydrating to death. I’m trying not to engage in conversation because I don’t want to open my mouth and allow air to touch what little moisture I have in there.

I really wanted to make this an extremely long, self-congratulatory post about how I walked the streets of L.A. and didn’t die, but I’m thirsty and I just want to use what little brain power I have left to think about my favorite beverages (Cactus Cooler: #1).

Water is wonderful. I love it. Please drink some. I am so thirsty.
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Even though I’ve moved more than 20 times, I’ve never lived in a city that required a lot of walking except for Boston. Walking requires a basic level of caution. Balance. Agility. Attention. It seems like a pretty difficult activity once you break it down like that, but a lot of people do it and do it well. I don’t. That’s why I live in L.A.

A few weeks ago, I dropped Cal off at school and then headed to a service center because my car was making a “noise.” When asked to describe the noise, I was not able to provide a satisfactory response, so I had to leave the car. It seemed like more of a hassle to get a loaner for just a few hours than to get a ride home.

It’s so hard to get into a home without a garage opener or house keys. :( That sounds like an excuse because burglars do it all of the time, but I’ve never robbed a home before. Did I ever think that not violating CA Penal Code 459 would one day come back to bite me in the ass? No, I did not. I don’t fuck with felonies. Once you become a parent, you can’t really go beyond misdemeanors. Think about your kids.

I also did not have my wallet. Or any loose change. My phone was about to die. Luckily, I had an unopened package of Pez and several high-end lip balms in my purse.

My first priority was charging my phone since the service center would call when my car was ready. My garage opener is programmed into my car, so that phone call would set everything right. I decided to walk to Best Buy, where I could use one of the phone chargers they already had out for the display models.

Have you ever tried walking the streets of Los Angeles? I probably walked, like, 12 miles. I don’t know. Is one average-length block about one mile? Maybe I walked 17 miles. I never knew that the walkman/stophand sign made little tweeting noises. Is that noise for the visually-challenged? I don’t think you should be walking the streets of Hell Ay if you’re blind. I’m not blind, but if I took out my contact lenses, I would not walk down Wilshire or San Vicente because I don’t want to die right now. I have too much unfinished business. I just ordered so many things from Etsy, and I want to at least see those items in person before I go meet the Lord.

Anyways, I walked about 35 miles to the closest Best Buy. It was a good day for my FitBit. One important aside: If you drive a Bentley, stoplights still apply to you. Even though my phone was dead and I had no money and I was temporarily homeless, I felt really good about myself for coming up with a solution, deciding on a course of action, and following through with it.

I couldn’t get into Best Buy. It was still closed. For 57 more minutes.

I sat on the curb but I didn’t cry because I had no way of buying water to replenish the fluids I lost. I never let my stupid emotions fuck with the delicate balance of my body’s hydration. I closed my eyes and thought about the younger me and how she always wanted to be an adult because adults had it so, so easy. That younger me was very stupid, and I wish there was a way to go back in time and tell her to sit down and shut up.

I heard someone call my name in the distance. My immediate reaction was “this is how I’m going to die,” but then I opened my eyes and looked towards the voice because most murderers would not have that level of affection or sincerity in their voice. It was one of my best homegirls, Trace, who lives NOWHERE NEAR me or that Best Buy. She just happened to be in that parking lot at that exact moment because….this is for real….she was meeting a friend who had her phone charger.

I’ve thought about that moment every day since then. Sometimes, what we need most is to hear the beloved and familiar voice of a friend. And also, her phone charger.

GIVEAWAY: Grand Taxonomy of Rap Names Print

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Even though my little “I’ll just pack up some junk” office project has somehow turned into a whole room makeover, Harv has been patient and supportive. I’ve been eyeing this Pop Chart Lab Grand Taxonomy of Rap Names print for a long time, and after we spent nearly a week glittering the fuck out of some walls, he gave me the print “for my new Thug Office.”  Due to a shipping mix-up, we ended up receiving two of these posters. When I hollered at Pop Chart Lab about the extra poster, they very kindly told me to keep it. So I’m giving one away. This sensational and extremely educational 18″ x 24″ print is perfect for a Thug Office/ Thuglet Nursery/ Gangster Living Room….basically, any room that is important to you is the perfect place for it.

To enter: Leave a comment below with your favorite lyrics from a rap song. Only comments left on this post qualify. Giveaway closes Sunday, February 23, 11:59 p.m. PT. I’ll announce a winner in next week’s post.

My favorite lyrics:

Cop lights, flash lights
Spot lights, strobe lights
Street lights
Fast life, drug life 
Thug life, rock life
Every night

Kanye West- “All of the Lights”

Inhale the good shit. Exhale the bullshit.

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I tend to discount advice from friends, because honestly, if they’ve chosen to be friends with me, then what exactly does that say about their ability to make solid life choices? Hm?

Eventually, “Shalinda” might repeat something that several other people have opined, and if those several other people and this “Shalinda” aren’t associated with each other (Always a giveaway in my mind that it’s a joint venture intervention and Goddammit I’m onto you.), then I might consider it as a possibility. Very rarely do I ever complete the thought process and make a decision as to whether the statement is actually right or wrong. When I’m forced to perform difficult tasks like thinking, especially if it’s for more than a nine or ten seconds, I become emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally drained for days. By the time I recover, I have to use my brain again for a completely different thought. Life is hard.

I’ve always believed that my self-image comes from no one else but me. This is so far from the truth that I am totally embarrassed to admit it. In eight grade, I found out that Achilles is actually pronounced “a kill eez” and not “a chill eez” in front of the entire class, and that was pretty rough. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but my recent revelation was even worse than that time in eight grade. Sometimes you need a point of reference to understand the gravity of a situation.

I came to the realization that the way I view myself is largely comprised of other people’s opinions and not my own during lunch with a good friend. I wished out loud to be more like my family. Harv and Cal are so brilliant. I’m just the odd thug out.

“Elizabeth, you’re smart,” she said.

Out of habit, I immediately launched into a list of reasons backed by actual events and a few fun factoids that discredited her kindness.

She replied in a no-nonsense tone, “I can’t be friends with dumb people. It’s exhausting.”

I let myself consider the possibility for more than nine or ten seconds. It blew my fucking mind. Like, forrealz.

Since kindergarten, when I repeatedly peed in my pants because I couldn’t remember enough English to request a hall pass, I believed that I was dumb. After lunch, I sat in my car and thought about being stupid and other “truths” which shaped my self-image. They were so deeply rooted and long-standing that I had just assumed they were true.

The passing comments and direct criticism I heard as a kid shaped my Me View. Because the majority of those early comments were negative, I learned to discount any positive statements. And worse still, any time I heard negativity that fed those early seeds, I welcomed it because I thought that person was seeing my core.

I find it ironic that it was yet another person’s opinion that lifted the curtain and propelled me to examine the wasteland I held as Core Truths. I’ve always regarded kindness with suspicion, but I was wrong as fuck. It’s actually cooler than shit to have people in your life who can tell you the truth and be kind too. It may not always happen at the same time, but these people help you see the truth about yourself…if you let them. THANK YOU, L.

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My homegirl, Shannon Bindler, wrote this: “I Am Beautiful” Are Not Dirty Words. I love it. I’m so grateful to have people in my life like Shannon who keep kindness king.

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I experimented with my new work method: One Game Of Candy Crush Per Paragraph. Are there some design flaws? Yes. However, I am not a quitter and will continue to modify aforementioned method. You can “like” the Flourish in Progress Facebook page or follow along on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress) to get updates on my exhaustive research and for other (t)hug life happenings like snapshots from my past weekend at Rock the Bells aka Gangsters Paradise. Thank you for your support.

Monday Dare (& Some News): Ugly People

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Every week, I challenge myself to a Monday Dare. Click on the link to see the complete list of Monday Dares or to learn about its origin.

This week: Trust others less. Trust myself more. 

I set aside a few hours each week to work on rap lyrics. Cal is going off to college in 4.5 years. Instead of feeling forlorn and displaced with my new empty-nester status, I plan to use that time to build my rap career. It’ll be an excellent way for me to stay in touch with Cal because I could do a college tour, and I’m pretty sure she would want her school to be one of the stops. Maybe she could bring her friends. I’d give them a once-over to be certain she’s not hanging out with a bunch of hooligans, and also, that would be more people at my show. Two birds + One stone = Winning at this crazy thing called life.

I’ve been reading a lot of self-improvement books lately because I don’t want my rhymes to be about just bitches and tricks and Bentleys. Sure, that might work for the young bucks, but when you come to the Rap Game as an Asian female in her mid-thirties, your lyrics have to offer something more. I want to be insightful and inspirational, and the best way to do that is to work on myself and become a solid person. When you rap from a place of truth, the sky is the limit.

There seems to be a trend with these self-improvement books. It doesn’t even matter what broader issue they’re trying to address. Nestled in each is a browbeating about being less judgmental.

I’m always pressuring myself to be less judgey because, come on, who knows the real back story of why the balding man standing in front of me at the Burger King in Barstow with the Papa Smurf tattoo near his left eye and extremely clogged nose pores is wearing an ankle bracelet? Maybe the crowbar really DID slip out of his hand 17 times. Maybe no one’s ever taken the time to show him the benefits of a Clarisonic face brush. He’s an imperfect person. I’m an imperfect person. Should I judge?

YES.

I’ve spent some time surveying the people I’ve let into my life over the past decade. I decided not to look at the years before I was 21 because everyone is really stupid before they are 21. A lot of people are still stupid afterwards, but for the sake of my exercise, I had to draw the line somewhere.

I have allowed too many Ugly People to pass through my life. It’s probably because I lack the ability to pick up on things quickly. Ugly People are hard to spot sometimes because the most Hideous of the bunch are often the most skilled at hiding their true nature. They pretend to care about your well-being. They send you thoughtful text messages and emails because they haven’t heard from you in a minute. They invite you places and introduce you to people and laugh at your jokes and stroke your ego. Everything around them seems shinier. This is not an accident.

Everyone’s true character comes out…eventually. When I start to see the cracks and inconsistencies, I usually doubt myself. There I go, being all judgey again, I think. I let one injury slide, and then it becomes seven jabs, and before I know it, I’ve allotted years of my life to friendships that were never a “real thing” in the first place. It’s not a “real thing” when the other party is incapable of giving.

When I think of all the time I wasted on fuckjobs because I trusted our friendship more than I trusted myself…I ain’t gonna lie, I get pissed. But to operate out of spite and piss-offedness (that’s a word, yes?) would make me an even bigger loser.

The next time I read about being less judgmental, I will cross that nonsense out with my large-tip Sharpie. I may not be all that smart, but my instincts deserve to be trusted. You too. Follow your heart. That shit is legit, yo.