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C / A Year

ne and yen

Photo by Tiffany Tsang

It’s been a year and some change since I left Cambodia. I had a thousand reasons to leave, and I am so glad I did, but when September 3rd passed last week, I felt sad. Like a weird kind of empty sad, that caught me by surprise. I didn’t really get it, I had made those choices for myself, I had pushed hard in the right direction, and threw myself willingly into the relative free-fall of the last year. I am happier than I have been in a very long time, and yet, there was sadness?

With the help of an ugly cry and a very understanding set of ears to listen to me work through it, I realized that change, no matter what size or direction, is an adjustment. My life looks completely different now than it did a year ago, and I wouldn’t have ever imagined the amount of luck, love, and understanding that has come my way in the last year. But there is still something that feels like a mourning, for the past life, and a community that I miss dearly.

I am under the impression that change is a good thing, which I realize isn’t a particularly unique point of view. But because it leads itself so well to cliche, I often forget the gravity of change, and how long it takes my brain to catch up with my body. This time last year I was bouncing from couch to couch across the US, and I would’t be in my now-house for another 3 months. Change is weird and awkward and painful, but always, always important.

It’s nearly impossible for me avoid dipping into some version of self-help prose after a year of meditation, therapy, yoga, Brene Brown, and green juice, so I won’t even try. My impatience with the impact of change is the only thing about it that doesn’t surprise me. In true form, I just want to get through it and get on with things, but I am doing my best to quiet that spazzy voice just a little bit, and let those feelings come and go.

Overshare complete.

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C / Malibu on a Wednesday

becca beach

I had never been to Malibu before last Wednesday. My impressions of the place have, up to this point, been footage from Point Break, transitional scenes from The Hills, and that new Miley Cyrus song that I can’t figure out if I like. In my head, it is fancy, expensive, and full of plastic people. Turns out, all of that is true, but there is more.

As a pre-birthday celebration (I really dragged it out this year) my lovely and amazing friend, Becca, offered to take me to Malibu for the day. Due to my current status of semi-employment, a weekday field trip worked out nicely.

Becca picked me up at 7:30am from Echo Park and we got to Malibu around 9am. It turns out LA is really big and there is traffic, surprised nobody ever talks about it.

The Hike

We went to an area called Solstice Canyon, and the hike itself took about 2 hours and about 3.5 miles. There are a few trails in that particular canyon, and we took the one called something like sunset trail, sky view trail, eagle view something, ocean mist, eastern block… I don’t know the name of the trail. There are signs, you’ll be ok. The trail is gorgeous, with amazing views of the mountains, the ocean, and the wildflowers that are currently blowing everyone’s mind. Also fun, we only saw five people and two dogs the whole time we were there.

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The Food

Neptune’s Net! This place goes immediately into my LA hall of fame. I love it here, I love it so much I could marry it. It’s a seafood spot with few other options, and there are two counters to go to, one for the fresh stuff, and one for the perfectly fried baskets of sea creature heaven. Because we are smart, hungry women, we ordered a pound of steamed peel and eat shrimp, 1/2 dozen oysters, a clam chowder, and the combo basket with clam strips, calamari, fried shrimp, and fries. Thirty minutes and 4 buckets of cocktail sauce later, we made our way back to the road.

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*Note: That is an oyster shell full of melted butter, salt, lemon juice, and leftover oyster/sea water. I know it doesn’t photograph well, and I don’t care, its the most delicious thing in the world and I was dipping fries in it by the end of lunch because I am a goddamn adult and I can. 

The Beach

I am under strict orders not to tell you what beach we went to, because it was quiet and peaceful and a little bit secret, and I am not sure how much that happens around those parts. But, if you want to go to Malibu and take me with you, I will totally tell you. We walked past a number of my future homes and a flock of seagulls. Sadly, not the band. (If it were the band, this whole post would be about that.)

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The Drinks

Because we are grown ups and it was a Wednesday, we decided that 2pm was the right time for beers. Becca knows everything, so we went to Paradise Cove, a throwback spot that reminded me of the set from Saved by the Bell, when they ALL went to work at Malibu Sands Beach Club. You know where Zach has a thing with Stacy Carosi? The club owners daughter? Oh Zach, you are so basic, and SO lucky that Leah Remini (who played Stacy Carosi) gave you the time of day. Realizing now, that I know too much about this. Anyway, we had a few Modelos on the beach, watched a come college girls taking selfies get knocked over by waves (very satisfying), sent a few questionable text messages, and earned my first successful California sunburn.

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The Plants

Know what is better than being a little tipsy at 3pm and buying a whole lotta plants for your tiny apartment? I don’t. Cosentino’s is a wholesale nursery right off the highway in Malibu. The place in enormous, and they have a billion gorgeous succulents and plants that are ready for their close up. This slightly over-eager customer MAY HAVE purchased 30 of them, all of which are still sitting on the kitchen table.

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The Ice Cream

Grom, in Malibu Country Market square, is fancy and delicious. I highly recommend the seasonal cherry and dark chocolate combo, and there are chairs outside to watch a 19-year-old in a fur jacket vest, trying to steal from a dry cleaner and get CAUGHT. This is obviously something that happened, and provided quite a bit of entertainment while enjoying out gelato and pretending to talk about other things.

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The entire purpose of this post is to get Tiff to come back to LA. If it worked on anyone else, that’s nice too.

Fin.

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C/ TIFF IS COMING TO LA!

lady time.jpgI can’t really focus on anything today because I am so excited that Tiff lands in LA tomorrow morning! I could barely sleep last night. We are going to be very busy eating things, walking to things, looking at things, and talking about the things that we ate. There are going to be a lot of photos of tacos, and a lot of selfies in the next few days, so if you follow us on social media, get ready to be bored of us.

Mostly, I am so thrilled that Tiff is coming across the planet to see me. I miss my friend and I can’t wait to make a big embarrassing show about it at the airport in the morning.

OK SEE YOU TOMORROW! SORRY FOR THE YELLY CAPS.

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C / how not to see the superblooms

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If you live anywhere near Los Angeles, you are probably tired of hearing people talk about the superblooms. If you don’t have any idea what I am talking about, the superblooms are the wild flowers that are currently in full bloom in the California desert because of the crazy rain the state has had in the past few months. It has been potentially over-documented on social media, and there are just under fifty thousand photos with the #superbloom hashtag on Instagram. As the kids say, it’s a thing.

My LA Yoda, Lila, suggested to drive out to an area, just near Riverside to see the blooms a few Sundays ago. The adventure went as follows.

We had decided early in the week that Sunday morning would be the perfect time to head out. Most people are not early risers, so we figured we might be able to creep in before the thousands of girls in flowy dresses descended upon the fields to look just slightly away from the camera. As it turns out, we aren’t exactly morning people either, so we decided to go a little later, after coffee.

We each had coffee and around 10am, realized that we should probably go to the 11am pilates class, since we both bought the month unlimited class plan, and we are sort of losing money of we don’t go. So we went to pilates.

After toning our cores and lengthening our spines, we had to get ready, and have lunch. By about 1pm, I walked over to Lilas house, because I am always down for some lazy cardio, and figured we would get out of there by 2pm. Well, when I got there, she had the AMAZING idea of going to IKEA, since it’s on the way. It’s not everyday that someone willingly offers to take you to IKEA, so I sat on her floor with that catalog and got to circling things I cannot pronounce. We left her place about 3pm.

We decided on an hour in IKEA, which might be the most ridiculous thing I have ever typed. We spent an hour running through the showroom death maze, and then we were hungry, so we had to have dinner. Why would I even go to IKEA if I’m not having meatballs? By the time we got out of the cave of wonders, it was 6pm, I had $200 less than I came in with, and it was starting to get dark.

We checked the time of sunset, and with 30 min to spare, I drove quickly out to where ever the hell we went. The turnoff was promising, as there were tons of cars and a few ice cream trucks, preying on the weak.

We had a choice of two trails, the one that most people were walking up, or the one that you had to climb over barbed wire to get to, that had some trash on the side. Because I don’t want a bunch of randoms in the wistful photos of myself I planned on putting on the internet, we took the sketchy-looking way. This was not the right choice.

It got dark pretty quickly, and there was about as much trash as there were flowers on our special trail, so we made the best of it by using our “Instagram voices” and being idiots. We stayed for a solid 15 minutes, took some shitty photos, found the spotwhere a bunch of people had clearly laid down to selfie with six flowers, and took off when it got too dark to see anything. What a magical day, nature is truly amazing.

Here are some professional photos of the #superblooms.

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We did a terrible job seeing the super blooms, so please don’t follow my lead if you are into flowers. If you are into being an idiot on a Sunday, this is a very good game plan.

caitsig

 


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C / a little Disney magic

castle.JPGI have had “A Whole New World” stuck in my head for days. You know, super normal adult stuff.

It all started last week when a friend came to town for her birthday, and we went to see the new Beauty and the Beast, followed by a trip to Disneyland, on a Monday. It was a lot of Disney, all at once. The movie was honestly pretty fantastic, but I like Emma Watson and am super into talking appliances, so don’t trust my opinion.

At Disneyland, we went on all the fun rides, got fast passes, inhaled churros, and impatiently waited in the never-ending lines. It was so much fun. Fun is great.

I am writing about it because for a while there, I had sort of forgotten about fun. It’s not that I have been living in a deep sadness all by myself or that I don’t smile or laugh or anything, I just sort of lost track of the things that make me feel like me. It’s easy to get lost in the constant mind spaghetti of “figuring it out,” which has sort of been my life the last year. Figuring it out blows, and constantly working on myself and through issues that I don’t really want to deal with is exhausting. Disneyland snapped me out of it.

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both normal faces

I giggled. I screamed on Space Mountain and ducked on the Indiana Jones ride when it felt like there were arrows being shot out of the wall. (It’s apparently just air.) I screamed and laughed and tried really hard to keep my arms up on Thunder Mountain. I insisted we go on the Teacups, because they RULE, and I may have gone a little crazy with the spinning and made everyone sick. Sorry guys!

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tea cups

Disney is problematic, obviously, especially in the 90’s when most of the movies they put out seemed to be in competition with each other for “most racist and anatomically unreasonable.” (I think Pocahontas won.) I will forever have bizarrely unrealistic expectations for love and cleavage, but those stories are a part of my childhood, and screaming my face off on rides inspired by them was the most fun I have had in a long time.

So thanks for that, Disneyland, and the rest of the Disney movies I have seen this week. It doesn’t matter what they are, mind your business.

PS, I am really proud of myself for not using the phrase “inner child” once in this post.

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C / two things I learned yesterday

I have been taking meditation classes for the past few months. It’s been helpful to have a class every week that helps me be less of a spaz while I am going through a bunch of transitions in life. (Note: transitions take a damn long time.) I am taking a mindfulness series at The Den, which is a little haven of beautiful things and nice people, right near Mood fabrics on LaBrea. The class is taught by Heather Prete, who is the kind of wonderful that people pretend to be. If she started a cult, I would be first in line to drink the Koolaid.

Anyway, the classes are wonderful, and though I rarely feel like I am “doing it right” I am loving it, and the practice has brought a lot of good stuff into my bouncy brain. We just started a new series last night, and the class focus was on equanimity.

I am going to be honest here, I didn’t really know what equanimity was until last night. It’s basically the ability to keep a balanced state of mind, despite the conditions around you. You are able to accept what is, but not in a way that you ignore it, or avoid it. You can still have a discerning mind, and have opinions on the issue at hand, but you keep it together. It’s the ability to accept the situation without adding more layers of stress to it. This definition is clearly from my class notes.

This is kind of a hard one for me, because I love to judge my judgements, and I pile all kinds of stuff on top of seemingly simple issues. It’s my favorite. During the class, Heather said something that really works for me.

“Everything is perfect, just as it is, and it could use a lot of improvement.”

This was said by someone, whose name I forgot to write down.
I constantly feel like I am behind on my life. Switching careers in your 30’s is not a great way to feel “caught up.” When I think about it, and I am feeling rational, I know that there is nothing to catch up on, and there is no place that I am “supposed” to be. When I am NOT feeling logical, I compare myself to others, feel like I have wasted my life making other people happy and now I am looking for work at 33 and everyone else is like 5 and went to art school and is better than me and they have a thigh gap and I maybe this haircut wasn’t the best idea and how the hell do you write a cover letter and this is what a spiral looks like. Ta-da!
I like this quote because its a linear way of resetting my brain, that I am where I am supposed to be, that I am not running late on my life, that I’m not doing it wrong.
The other thing that was said that really stuck with me was this:

“When we lose our equanimity and become deregulated, it means something needs attention.”
Heather said this, and it’s basically a way of saying “THANK YOU,  FOR THE POWER TO LOSE MY SHIT.” That’s how I took it, at least. When we become deregulated and feel overwhelmed, it’s our brain poking us in the face and saying “Hey, dummy. Stop it, I don’t like that.” Then your balanced, chill brain can be like “Oh hi, spaz brain, I see you there. I smell what you are stepping in, and I am going to take care of it.” So while I can try to stay equanimous (new word, 5 points!), listening to how you feel is also super important and your emotions are sort of a warning system for physical or emotional danger.
I am not totally sure if that all made sense or not, but it was super helpful to me.
Love, California Cait, who has totally buried herself in every cliché and is going to do pilates and drink green juice now. Maybe yoga later, who knows?
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C / Los Angeles Office

los-angeles-office

I had friends visiting last week, and because I am a fantastic host, I took them to hip and gorgeous places that I can’t really afford. One of those beautiful shops is Mohawk General Store.  It’s one of the most beautifully curated shops I have seen and is filled to the brim with standout pieces from high-end designers, like these Dries Van Noten stunners that I almost traded my apartment for. Sadly, since having an appreciation for beautiful things doesn’t pay very well (yet), I did not go home with the Cinderella footwear. What I did find, was a little pad of paper that makes me strangely happy.

The notepad says simply “Los Angeles Office.” When I saw it I sort of giggled, because I thought of Christina Applegate’s character, Swell, in Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. Let me explain. First, if you haven’t seen that movie, please stop reading this and don’t come back until you do. Honestly, what are you even doing with your life?

If you are at work and reading this blog and can’t watch the full movie right now (I see you, Nitika) I will break it down. Swell, a high school student and my style hero, has to pretend that she is grown up to get a job at a fashion company in LA. Her mom has taken off to Australia with her boyfriend, and has left the 5 kids with a very old babysitter, who, in fact, dies. Swell has to make money so the kids can eat, because they refuse to tell their mother. It’s a fantastic family movie.

Anyway, the notepad reminded me of this because Swell is trying to convince people she is a grown up so that she can work in a fashion company, and so am I! I feel like this notepad is something that she would have on her desk, if only to prove she has an office.

Did that make sense to you? It’s fine if it didn’t, either way you should really watch the movie.

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C / LA top 5 for February

la-old

Photo by Barry Feinstein 

When I moved to LA, I promised myself I would take advantage of all the cool stuff it has to offer. I was going to go see art, go to live music, and really get involved in the neighborhood. Instead, I know a lot about Netflix and have really enjoyed the view of the park from my window.

In an effort to get out of this ridiculous, wasteful rut, I have signed up for yoga, become a member at a museum, and I am making friends with the nice ladies at the juice shop. I am starting to carve out my little life here, and it’s important to me that this little life is filled with the things that I was (constantly) complaining about missing in Cambodia.

My favorite things in February are:

  1. The basics class at Urth Yoga, with Ivette. I love yoga, and have been doing it pretty regularly since college. This class has me making my schedule around it, because of the amazing teacher. For each class, there is a specific message/intention/vibe that she focuses on, and weaves in throughout the practice. It ends up feeling a little bit like stretchy therapy.
  2. Cool Haus ice cream sandwiches. You know when people find out about something delicious but unhealthy, and then they say they wish they didn’t know about it? That does not apply here. These are so delicious, and make me so happy, that the endorphins released into my body while I am eating them, actually sword fight the sugar, fat, and whatever else makes these little bitches so amazing. It also happens to be a woman-owned company and they started their empire out of a truck.
  3. Echo Park lake. Every third photo on my phone is of the lake. I spend most of my mornings walking around it, and trying to figure out which dogs I want to steal legally adopt in the future. It’s full of every kind of person, and at night the taco trucks a vendors line the park and the whole neighborhood shows up.
  4. LACMA. I have a membership here (super cool holiday gift) and I have been trying to go as often as possible. It’s a massive space, with a number of different building and all kinds of art. They rotate the exhibitions pretty regularly, and recently took down the “spaghetti” which is actually the Jesús Rafael Soto piece,”Penetrable.” When they were taking it down last week, they gave pieces of the spaghetti away, and I got one! Now I have a dirty yellow tube in my kitchen, and it counts as art.
  5. The Den MeditationSo, I have never been able to meditate, and I don’t think I have ever really been in the place to try. When I arrived in LA, my brain was the equivalent of emotional scrambled eggs. There has been a lot going on in my brain and heart, and when these classes were suggested to me, I was like, “okay, hippie.” But then I started going, and it turns out, carving out time to be kind to yourself and fully address things that stress you out, is healthy. I am doing classes on mindfulness and self compassion and it feels pretty good to be slightly less of an asshole to myself. Who knew?

So that’s my top five for the month. Because I am such a newb in town, I wouldn’t dream of doing a city guide or anything like that. But I will be doing this little top 5 every month to share what is going on in my world.

Big hugs!

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C / art helps

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Look who’s blogging again. I took a break because I really needed it, and now I’m back.

For a while there, I couldn’t think of anything real to say. This is technically a design/fashion/storytelling blog, and the only thing coming from my brain the last few weeks was a string of expletives and blank stares. It’s hard for me to talk about fashion and design thingies when I am worried about the absurd and hateful things happening in my country.

I went to The Broad museum this morning to look at art and get inspired. I also really wanted to take a photo in the Infinity room I had heard so much about. I showed up a few minutes late, got in the wrong line, and my outfit wasn’t cool enough. The cattle herders outside took pity on my confused face and let me in anyway.

When you go into the Broad, it feels like you are going into a giant, square, alien brain that happens to be full of Jeff Koons bubble art and some pretty dark cartoons. The long escalator ride up into the main exhibition hall added all the drama I wanted and I landed at the foot of what looked like giant candy dipped in liquid glitter. (Clearly an art critic here.)

As I walked around more, I saw a gold and white statue of Michael Jackson with a monkey, a few Warhols, some badass sculptures, and a photo of Batman from 1955 which I am pretty sure proves he is real. I also saw revolution in the art. I saw a lot of pain, struggles with oppression, silencing, slavery, racism, and a big ass collage of white dudes in hats that scared the bejesus out of me. Most of the art in the museum is older than I am, but the themes still ring true, and in a way, seeing these pieces made me feel better. Not better in the “everything is ok” way, but like when you would get in trouble but all of your friends did too. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it’s how I feel.

This is a little bit of what I saw, with my own reactions an no proper citations.

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Puppiessssss!

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It’s so true, for all of us, but mostly you. 

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Misleading rainbow vibes on fatalist prose. 

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Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions

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Ugh, I know. 

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The caption next to this says something like “the bird is angry because it’s plaster.” Yeah man, I would be angry too if you gave me plaster snacks. 

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In my head, this woman was one of Elvis’s girlfriends back in the day. I also want her hair. The Warhol is cool too. 

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Most original photo in the history of the world that I really love. Wish I wore something cooler. 

Art made me feel alright today, and it made me want to write again, which I haven’t wanted to do for a while. See art if you can, and if you can’t go see it, make it. Then make your friends look at it and pretend they get it.

caitsig

 


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C / dream weaver

Maybe it’s the slightly cool air, the thought of October in America, or the fact that you buy buy “pumpkin spice” ANYTHING, but I am feeling cozy right now. I’m in DC for about 20 minutes and heading back to Tucson, and am all curled up in a sweater at the airport.

For those of you who do not live in tropical climates, this is probably uninteresting, and at best, borderline boring. That’s fine, you’re excused. For the Cambodia/Myanmar/Thailand kids, OHMYGODYOUGUYSSSSSSS. Yesterday, it was straight up crisp after dinner, and I had to pull my sweater sleeves over my hands. Most other people were dressed in t-shirts and shorts, but they all probably died of hypothermia last night.

Anyway. I got into thinking about wooly, cozy, sweater-y things last night and decided that I need to learn how to weave. I have never weaved, unless you count friendship bracelets in Girls Scouts and the sweet hemp necklaces that me and my freshman year roomie made in 2001. (HI THEA!) My aunt is an incredible weaver and I had the priviledge of drooling over her loom when I was in Cape Cod a few days ago.* Her stuff is gorgeous and she does it to relax. I will do it, almost certainly, to become frustrated, threaten to quit, pout, and probably hurt myself, but I’m excited . I looked up weaving classes in Los Angeles, and lo and behold, the universe provides. Next Thursday night, Makers Mess is hosting a Weaving for Beginners class with Kellee, and I already have a world of faith in her. Two “L’s” and two “E’s”? I trust her.

Until then, I will be filling my life with photos of things I want to wrap myself in. Like this.

 

Have a cozy night.

caitsig

*I love everything about this sentence.