Tag Archives: los angeles

Live from Hollywood. . .

Haven’t been here in a while. I hate it. I always forget that until I’m here, and then I’m like, “Why the heck am I in Hollywood?” It’s pretty much the loneliest place ever, I think.

We just finished Week 7 — a really good one, following in the vein of other odd weeks, 3 and 5. We had a big group of like 30 from boone-town Wisconsin; a group of 9 from Logan, Utah; and 5 guys from inner-city Minneapolis who work for YE, the organization that screen-prints all our Youthworks t-shirts. They were a cool bunch, very into serving, very into processing what they saw, trying to put into context. It felt like the majority of them got it, were changed somehow by their experiences, which is fantastic. The Utah group was very interesting — they were a conglomeration of all the churches in their little town, very much a population in the minority with all the LDS churches there. I learned a lot about the LDS church, as one of their youth was about ready to sign up; we talked a lot, my eyes were really opened to that. It isn’t all that different from conservative Christianity, but is growing faster — which is the most scary part. The kids were all children of university professors — little pseudo-hippie intellectuals, into recycling and being vegetarians and long hair and reading the NYT. They got mad when I quoted Napoleon because they said their lives were actually like that and they found the movie offensive. I loved them.

Mom and Dad were here last weekend, and that was pretty much glorious. We spent a lot of time just driving around, “seeing” LA, because that’s pretty much all there is to do here. There aren’t really attractions, just places to go so you can say you went there. We drove through Hollywood, Beverly HIlls, Bel Air, Burbank, etc. It was just so nice to spend time with them, and be happy doing dumb things — it was fun to relax and do things that we enjoy doing, because we enjoy doing the same things. That is very much something I’ve realized I have been taking advantage of for the past few years.

We went to dinner in Chinatown tonight with Randy, the pastor of our church, and his 6-year-old son, Lucas. It was a blast. We spend an inordinate amount of YW! hospitality budget on “slippery shrimp,” green beans and asparagus, chicken with snow peas, mixed vegetables and pork dumplings. Lucas was incredibly entertaining — a smart little guy — and it was nice to spend some time with Randy and hear about all the cool stuff he’s done. We went on a little driving tour of Echo Park and SIlverlake after dinner — Randy took us up (and down) the two steepest streets in LA and showed us their cute 3-story condo that has an amazing view of Downtown. It was the first time in a while that I actually felt affection for this city — I was like, “Yeah, I could live here someday, get a cute little condo with my husband and awesome kid.” It made me homesick to be in a neighborhood with someone who knew all its little quirks, to drive down residential streets and see people on porches and sidewalks, to think of a home. I think I’m ready for my next thing — LA is winding down, I’m getting excited for Prague, and then for my adult life to begin.

I’m getting my post-YW plans in order. I talked to KJ today, and I’m going to hang out with him after my retreat is over next Tuesday. Then I’m going to go to a hostel near the train station in Denver Wednesday night, most likely the lovely Melbourne Hotel & Hostel , so I can catch a $52 train to Albuquerque at 6:00 Thursday morning. Then I’ll spend a few days with Brenna, get a rental car, and drive to Glenwood probably Saturday to greet Jut when he gets out of the woods! I think I’ll fly out sometime the next week, I haven’t decided exactly when. So, I’m excited about that.

We’re going to hang out with our Silverlake friends tomorrow to say goodbye, then probably start packing up what we can, doing paperwork, etc. on Sunday — so it will be a busy but good weekend. We’re trying to arrange a stop at the Grand Canyon on the way back to Denver, so the sooner we can leave next week, the better. So now, this God-forsaken cafe is about to close, I’m getting up at 6:00 tomorrow to run to the top of Mt. Hollywood in an attempt to burn off some of the YW! pudge, and it’s time to go.


Boogie Boarding 3

Originally uploaded by Meg Around The World.

Tyler, Me, Carissa and Ross again before boarding. This is the real OC.

Boogie Boarding 2

Originally uploaded by Meg Around The World.

Tyler, Me, Carissa and Ross getting ready to boogie. . .after I recovered from that first wave that scared me and forced me to get Jamba Juice to console myself.

Boogie Boarding

Originally uploaded by Meg Around The World.

Becky, Me, Ross and Carissa getting ready to boogie board at our Area Retreat in Huntington Beach. (Right after this was taken, I tried to ride the biggest wave I’ve ever seen and it totally dominated me.)

Meg & Becky – Jaws

Originally uploaded by Meg Around The World.

Becky and me in front of the actual backdrop used in Jaws at my favorite Hollywood destination, Grosh Scenic Rentals.

Safe and Warm in LA.

I should be going to bed, but I want to try to squeeze an update in tonight. I’m not journaling this summer, so my letters to Justin and my blog entries are really the only mementos I will have when all this is said and done. I told Justin that if he decides to break up with me, I’d really like to have the letters I’ve written him in these past few weeks.

Today was a really good day. I went to the Midnight Mission and had a really great time — it felt very Haight-ish today, mostly I think because I ended up hanging around there way longer than I needed to, just to be there and be with everyone, like I always used to do. We had a great tour from David, a 50-year-old former artist/marketing design professional who has lived in Santa Monica for the past 30 years, but developed a severe alcohol problem in the last 10 and checked himself into the Midnight Mission five months ago. I’ve talked with him a lot but never really heard his story, so it was cool that he opened up to us. Some of the grueling details he told us, like drinking beer from a straw because he couldn’t stop shaking long enough to hold the can anymore, were horrifying. I also found out that Moses, a guy who has become somewhat of a Midnight Mission legend for our kids, is from Youngstown! So I’m excited for Mom & Dad to meet some of those guys Saturday morning when we serve breakfast and see a place like that in action.

I also go to go to this amazing place called Alegria where we just started working — it is an apartment complex/community center run by the Salvation Army for families living with HIV/AIDS. So you go there and there are these kids playing and having fun like normal kids, and then you remember that any of them could be HIV positive, any of their moms or dads or sisters or brothers could be currently dying of AIDS. It is pretty nutty, but really awesome at the same time, just that there is a place for them where they can be in community. And our kids were being really incredible with them, just engaged and playing and loving.

Week 5 ended really well. The kids were just amazing — I connected more with them than I have any group all summer. Their eyes were really opened, and they got really emotional Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights after Club, some crazy, borderline hysterical crying, wailing, falling to the ground. But they were fun to hang out with, and really for the first time this summer, I was sad to see them go.

We had a good weekend, even though I was stressing about it a bit being too structured and not enough relaxed. We went up to Newhall again, this time for the whole weekend, and with the San Francisco and San Diego staffs, as well, for our “Area Retreat.” We hung out at Heather’s house Friday night — basically planted ourselves on her couch and sat in front of the TV for the evening, getting up only to get more delicious homemade food. Becky, Nadine and I stayed at Don’s house, one of the adult leaders from their trip. He and his wife, Sue, were amazing to us — they cooked us these really good cornmeal pancakes and bacon one morning for breakfast, and the next morning they set out bowls of granola and yogurt with blueberries, peaches and bananas all cut up for us. We spent Saturday at Huntington Beach, laying on the sand and playing in the ocean. It had been a long time since I played in the waves, and once I got over my initial shock when the first huge one took me under and spun me around and made me think I was going to drown, I had a good time boogie boarding and splashing around. We went to their church again Sunday morning, for an interesting, thought-provoking sermon. It has been a while, as well, since I have heard a sermon from an overbearing, preachy pastor, and I definitely got an earful on Sunday. There were numerous times during it when I just had to stop listening and start praying — listening to it it was one of those experiences that makes me ashamed to be a Christian. But on the way home, Becky, Nadine and I hashed through it and shared some thoughts and reflections — fortunately, we were all in agreement that a lot of what he said was way off, and my true worship that morning came from our time together in the car. So, it all ultimately worked out for good.

Week 6 has really been great, too. We have 61 here: one group from Long Prairie, Minnesota, one from Stillwater, Minnesota, and one from Hammond, Indiana — who, incidentally, came to San Francisco two years ago during Week 8! I definitely remembered their adult leaders, so it has been fun (but somewhat intimidating and creepy to think about them knowing my two-years-ago, Week-8-San-Francisco-summer self) to hang out with them again. I feel like I’m connecting with the kids well this week, especially compared to how I felt about the last big group we had. I think I’ve finally found my balance, the pendulum has swung back to the middle (personally, spiritually, emotionally, work-relatedly), and I’ve gotten into the groove of this — just in time for there to be two weeks left.

Anyway, that is all to report. It has been hot here — in the 100s. I haven’t seen rain in two months. Mom and Dad will be here Friday — I’m excited beyond belief about that. Then two more weeks, a drive back to Denver, a few days with KJ (hopefully!), a train ride to Albuquerque (I found one for $65!), a few days with Brenna, a drive in a rental car to Glenwood (with the new FM transmitter I just bought for my Pod — mmmmm, consumption), and a week of wonderful with Jut in the desert. I am so very, very blessed.

“Think I’ll Pack it in and Buy a Pickup / Take it Down to LA. . .”

Sitting at the Coffee Table on Rowena, enjoying some shade, a strong iced coffee, and a quiet room that is empty except for a queer-looking guy eating a salad and doing charcoal sketches. I am enjoying my official, sanctioned “afternoon off” — the first I have had since I’ve been here, really.

We are now in the middle of Week 5, and I consider the week to be pretty much over on Tuesday. That means there are only three more to go.

Week 4 was a pretty good one. We had 61 people, comprised of 5 small groups from Silverdale, Washington; Olympia, Washington; San Diego; Rochester, MInnesota; and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. They were good, they enjoyed serving for the most part, didn’t give us any problems. It was definitely the hump week for me — I had very little energy, had trouble connecting with the kids, felt like I didn’t really get to know any of them. We were just so busy, and things seemed more stressful than normal, with everything from ministry sites to Club to evening activities to staff meetings. The 4th of July threw me off, because it made our schedule weird — most of our ministries were closed, so we kind of just hung out at the ArtsCorp and at a BBQ the Midnight Mission had in Eagle Rock Park, and watched 360-degrees of fireworks from the Glendale/Hyperion Bridge.

But the week was over, and we were done with our Friday duties by 1:00, so we went to Burbank to shower and enjoyed delicious Chipotle for lunch. Friday night, Jennifer wanted us to come to dinner with her, but I was really feeling crazy and stressed out and ready to flip and like I hadn’t had a chance to sit down in about 3 weeks (which I kind of hadn’t). So I declined, and sat at the church instead; talked to my parents, talked to Justin, relaxed, and felt about 110% better in about an hour. So after dinner, Jennifer, Tyler, Ricardo and Becky came back with Hotel Rwanda, and we watched that together. Definitely a good film to think about, to put things in perspective, to reconnect with the real world. And then, just to continue in that vein. . .we went to Disneyland on Saturday! Yeah, I know. I wasn’t too excited about it at first, but a guy from our church works at Disney Imagineering and got us all free tickets to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure (the new park they built on the old parking lot when they put in the “Mickey and Friends’ Parking Structure” that holds 10,000 cars) — each a $75 value. So we went, we rode Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain and Thunder Canyon Railroad and the Star Wars ride and the only real coaster in the complex, California Screamin’ at the other park. And it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I ate a $4.50 ice cream cone for lunch that was delicious, and we stopped at In-n-Out on the way back for dinner. Then we went to Borders in Glendale, where I read trashy magazines and wrote some long-due email correspondence. Sunday morning we got up and went to Newhall, where one of the groups from Early Bird in San Francisco is from, because they were having a report-about-the-mission-trip service and wanted to “interview” us. Again, I wasn’t too excited about this, but once we got there it was really fun, really good to see and hear how they were processing their trip, 3 weeks later, and we ate a delicious potluck lunch. So although it was an extremely busy and scheduled weekend, it turned out pretty well, and especially after my afternoon off today, I definitely feel rested.

We have Week 6 here now — a small group, 9 from Phoenix and 20 from Moorhead, Minnesota, right near the North Dakota border. They’re good kids, good leaders, real get-er-done folk. They’re just kind of chill, are into serving, are into Club, like hanging with us. It’s nice because there are so few of them — I feel like I can connect with them, spend time hanging out, but not be drained, and have the chance to catch my breath a little bit, too. A nice easy week to break up the summer.

We are now on the downhill slide. . .3 weeks left and I can do it. Justin and I worked out some end-of-summer visitation plans, and I think I’m going to ride a train from Denver to Albuquerque after I spend a few days with KJ at the end of my closing retreat. Hopefully will get to hang with Brenna a bit (she doesn’t know this yet because she’s in Guatamala!) and then drive down to Glenwood for a few much-needed days of Jut time in the desert. Mom and Dad are coming to visit in a little over a week, so that is my current goal to shoot for — make it to that, and I’m golden.

Well, about time for Taco Tuesday preparation to begin, so I better suck down this coffee and put my game face back on. This afternoon has been glorious, though. Yay, God.