Where I am Now (Or Hollywood Isn’t Done With Me Yet)

I have been sick of my neighborhood since 2011. I can’t rationalize a move at the moment financially, so I’ve stayed in Hollywood despite a strong desire to flee. The problem is that I have been so frustrated by my fiscally responsible choice that it has been clouding my enjoyment of my neighborhood. I’ve shut myself off from seeing the good things it has to offer because I’m mad at myself for staying. Inspired by my Saturday wandering in the South Bay, I decided it was long past time to look for inspiration in my own backyard — time to stop looking for the reasons to hate Hollywood and find the reasons to love it instead.

So this morning I went for a walk. A long walk in my own neighborhood.

I started taking pictures of the things that caught my eye.

Like this entryway.

Hollywood Hilly entryway on Dogs Dishes and Decor

The contrast of black and white makes me happy. I envision tall ceilings, a grand piano, and dramatic pinks behind these doors.

The amazing thing about my neighborhood is that a chic, sophisticated sort of place like that is across the street from this.

Hollywood Hills architecture on Dogs Dishes and Decor

This place reminds me of my houses in Ann Arbor. Only there’s no sofa on the porch, the paint’s not peeling, and no one is sitting on the roof.

And those structures? Are just down the street from this.

Mid century Hollywood architecture on Dogs Dishes and Decor

These steps make me want to sip a martini. They’re all kinds of mid-centuruy amazing. Also? That wacky ceramic cat climbing the side of the building makes me laugh a little.

And check out this Knights of the Round Table action a little further up.

Camelot inspired feature on Dogs Dishes and Decor

This is some bold stuff here, guys. Bold. It makes me want to watch Monty Python.

I’m not so sure Palm Springs Meghan is entirely at home with this eclectic mess coexisting on one street.

photo-413

She wears whale sweaters from J. Crew and takes golf lessons.

It might be OK for Halloween Anika.

photo-414

She thinks it’s OK to bring an owl puppet out in public.

But what do I think about it all?

I think it’s where I live for now. And it has been a good place for this guy.

photo-418

We’ve had a lot of amazing hikes here.

photo-417

And I’ve had a lot of epiphanies here.

photo-419

So the thing is? I accept that it’s where I live now.

It’s not done with me yet.

I haven’t learned all it has to teach me. And when our time is over, I will move on to the next place… and be open to the changes it makes in me.

Advertisements

Is It My Birthday YET? (Or Meghan and I Plan ANOTHER Party)

In case you don’t remember, I went a little mental before my birthday last year. I was having this meltdown because I felt like many of my best friends were gone, and I was trying to have the PERFECT Peter Pan party. I was freaking out I didn’t have Danielle to do my flowers, Nicole to make me cocktails, and you should have seen the panic I had over the melting mascarpone frosting on my strawberry cupcakes! If you missed that mess, consider yourself lucky.

See, I sort of lost sight of what was actually important as I’m wont to do. I often get so wrapped up in perfection that I take all of the pleasure out of the process. I have always loved my birthday, but not for the reasons you might think. It’s not about people celebrating me. It’s about having all of the people I love in one place.

This year I caught myself complicating matters again. I was devising a plan that involved ocean kayaking, a beach potluck, and a Sunday brunch at Shutters. I was trying to pick out the perfect Paperless Post invite for the occasion and realized I couldn’t even explain the weekend without multiple invites, linking it all to eventbrite, etc.

When your party is too complicated for Paperless Post?

It’s a problem.

So, I put a pin in the plan and put everything on hold until something less complicated inspired me. Saturday I was feeling like I needed a change of scenery so I headed down to the South Bay. I’m trying to write something that has been hard to make sense of because it comes to me in pieces. I knew I was trying too hard to force it, so I figured I’d head to the beach and wander without a plan. I decided to let life unfold and just inspire me.

And that’s when I had this lovely, magical day. I started taking pictures of things that moved me.

Like chalk drawings.

photo-401

And houses.

South Bay architecture on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I love the New England look of this house. I imagine eating lobster rolls and clam chowder on the patio of this place.

South Bay architecture on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I love the stone work on this house. It almost feels like it belongs in Texas. Like you could host amazing football parties here, complete with some serious barbecue.

I wandered all of the way up to Manhattan from Hermosa taking photos and thinking. I even got a pic of the original Beverly Hills, 90210 beach pad.

Beverly Hills 90210 House on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Like, Donna Martin lost her virginity here and stuff.

The wandering continued for a long time until I came upon an absolutely massive house that caught my eye. It wasn’t the size of it I loved so much as the lines — and the stone work.

I had to keep backing up to get the entire house in the frame. I kicked off my flip flops and kept taking steps backward, trying to get it to fit.

South Bay architecture on Dogs Dishes and Decor

All I could think when I saw this house was, “This place is perfect for massive family dinners with friends, complete with dart tournaments and impromptu dance parties on the patio!”

I heard a voice behind me say, “Sure, take a picture of my house.”

“It has such great lines!” I replied excitedly without looking back. I got the shot and finally turned to face a group of men sitting on towels and drinking beer. One of them brought his phone over and asked me to take a picture of the group for his daughter. “She’s in New Hampshire this weekend. I want to send her a picture of the guys.”

“That’s sweet,” I said as he handed me his iPhone.

I took a few photos and they invited me to sit with them. They offered me a beer — and a chair. It was draped in a navy and yellow striped towel with the name, “Caitlin” embroidered on it.

“I’ll be Caitlin today,” I said as I sat down.

“That’s my daughter’s towel,” the man with the iPhone told me.

“Yesterday I was Meghan.” I said as I took a sip of my Pilsner Urquell.

We talked for a long time about architecture, writing, economics, my complicated feelings about Ayn Rand, and everything else. “Meghan, what do you do?” One asked. “My name’s not really Meghan,” I said. “It’s actually Anika.” This led to jokes about how I didn’t look like an “Anika.”

“My mom wanted to name me Meghan,” I explained. “I use it at coffee shops when I don’t feel like spelling my name. I actually went by Ana for a while in college because I got sick of being different. Then I realized I wasn’t me without a weird name, so I went back.'”

See, in some ways I am Meghan. She wears Ralph Lauren, serves on the advisory committee for a sorority, and she likes pearls. She wants to sell real estate and join a country club. And in others, I’m Anika. She goes to Furthur concerts, studies Ayurveda, and has been know to lay on the floor listening to Purple Rain on repeat while trying to write really gut-wrenching stuff. I mean, I have had my nose pierced since I was 19 and I still can’t decide if it’s really ME or not. I’ll take it out for years at a time and then just put it back in for no reason.

At my 25th birthday party, one of my more sensitive and artistic friends from college was taking in the chaos all around. There were former football player/frat boys doing shots from an ice luge and a super drunk reality TV personality eating dip straight out of the bowl with her hands. He turned to me and asked, “How can you be friends with people like that and someone like me?”

I shrugged, but he continued.

“I mean, who are you more yourself with?”

“I’m myself with everyone,” I replied.

It’s true. I am. And as I make my birthday list this year, I’m thinking about the great diversity among my friends. The only thing some of them have in common is me.

And yet?

What they also share, what I can say without a doubt, is that they are all people who have done what they said they were going to do more often than not. People who listened. People who cared. People who stepped up for me when I needed it. People for whom I have done the same.

So, I’m going to bring them together this year for whatever unfolds. I’m getting a hotel room in Hermosa and inviting everyone to come down and hang out when they can. My friends with kids can bring them in the afternoon. My single friends can come later and hit up a few pier bars with me. Anyone who doesn’t feel safe to drive can crash on my floor. It’s going to be SIMPLE.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t created a Pinterest Board for my birthday. I mean, I’m still ME.

And I love my friends. For who THEY are.

By the way? That big house did not belong to the guys. Some billionaire owns it, and it’s sitting empty in the wake of his divorce. It makes me really sad it isn’t filled with fun-loving people coming together for a really good time.

This House Needs a Hug (Or I Want to Fix Everything)

You know that scene in Dirty Dancing where Johnny says to Baby, “I’ve never known anyone like you before. You think you can make the world better. Somebody’s lost, you find them. Somebody’s bleeding…”

“And I go get my daddy.”

That’s kinda how I am about my friends. I want everyone I love to be shining, and smiling, and stuffed to the gills with fancy cupcakes. Sometimes I even call my daddy when I don’t know what to do….

And it’s not just my friends. I’m also like that about architecture. I see a house in need of help and my mind starts racing with ways to give it a hug with a hammer and some nails.

I want to make it better. I want it to have a family.

Don’t you?

Spanish style home

Hang on, sweet Spanish style home. There’s hope for you yet.

You could look more like this:

Home by Koffka Phakos Design on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Koffka Phakos Design. Source

All it would take is a little paint, some love, and a whole lotta landscaping. I mean, a little grass and some color contrast go a long way.

Don’t you agree?

Crimes Against Architecture (Or Someone Needs to Renovate Now)

I wanted to be an architect when I was young. I’m not saying the world would be a better place if I had followed that dream, but two film degrees later, I still can’t shake my obsession with structures. I can’t look at a building without envisioning ways to improve it.

Whether it’s just a facelift to improve the curb appeal, a sketch for an addition, or full on fantasies about jackhammers, crowbars, and drywall, my mind never stops working — particularly as I’m walking my dogs around the neighborhood.

Maybe it’s because there are so many buildings in Hollywood that are in need of my enthusiasm and my arsenal of power tools. Or Maybe it’s just an unsatisfied dream. I’m not sure, but either way, I can’t stop dreaming about making Hollywood a prettier place, one dump at a time.

Here are my nominations for places in need of a little love. And Imagination.

I mean, these places represent some serious crimes against architecture presently.

Never mind that this place looks like a frat house. It has potential!

Obviously, it needs a new roof and new paint, among other improvements, but there is a lot to love here.

Just a few houses down, is another structure in need.

The things I could do to this place….

Forget about the plywood in the windows for a second and the peeling paint and just look at the potential.

Do you fantasize about renovating things or is it just me?