Why Yesterday I Didn’t Wear Pants

I’ll be honest. Last year wasn’t a great one. 2014, while it didn’t kick my ass across the room like 2013 did, did have more lows than highs, and in general it just wasn’t great.

There were of course, moments of greatness – like getting to spend some time in Paris with a very dear friend who I hadn’t seen in FAR too long. Also, getting to know my newest niece. Cause even at just over a year old, she’s pretty frakking amazing. And a couple of people came into my life or became bigger parts of it, who I now can’t imagine my world without.

But then again, there was the severe lack of employment, leading to a severe lack of funds, leading to a questioning of myself, what I do and my talents for doing it, and just generally putting me in a head space that wasn’t only unhealthy but downright destructive at times. I had a few medical problems, some rather serious, that had to be dealt with. Those weren’t fun. And paying for them isn’t going to be fun for quite some time I imagine.

But that’s all behind me now – at least as much as it can be for the time being. And as the new year started recently, I started looking at the things I wanted to change in my life, my work and my relationships. The news year’s resolutions started to form, though I really hate the term “resolutions.” Resolutions, for me aren’t a thing that you should measure. They are just things you do. And they shouldn’t be started under the pretense of New Year’s or for any other reason that begins with social pressure to “make yourself better.”

Instead, I set myself GOALS at the onset of a new year. Goals are tangible. Goals have a definitive success level that can be measured. When you reach a goal, you can see the result and say “Hey, I did that. That’s good.”

I have five this year. The first four are indeed personal and rather normal. They are the boring ones – paying off of credit cards, going on a specific vacation I’ve been wanting to take for ages, lose the weight I put on due to my medical problems last year… you know, the usual bullshit sorts of things that people talk about. But then there is the last one. And this specific goal is the one that made me take off my pants in public yesterday.

I WILL, AT LEAST ONCE A MONTH, DO SOMETHING NEW THAT IS WELL OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE.

(Honestly, I hope I do these things more than once a month, but I figure once a month is a good starting point.)

So I did it. One down, eleven more to go. Yesterday, along with over 100 other people, I took off my pants and rode around all day on the Los Angeles metro. And I liked it.

I participated for the first time in an annual event simply called the “No Pants Subway Ride.” It is organized one day a year spanning 59 cities in 29 countries and I can tell you, it’s a blast.

I arrived at our meeting point, where there were a varied group of people of all styles and subcultures standing around sort of aimlessly, until we all started asking each other “Are you here for the no pants ride?” At some point, about 15 minutes before we all headed into the actual metro station, someone announced that it was time to de-pants. And we did. Some straight off with no issues, and some of us (I assuming the other newbies like myself) taking an extra beat before pulling off our outerwear.

But then, there it was. A group of mostly total strangers all standing around in our underwear. Some wore costumes, some made outfits out of their underthings, some had themes, and some, like myself, just didn’t have on any pants. Which is sort of the point. The idea of the mission is to act like there is nothing off or wrong or different about not wearing pants. We were instructed to get on the train in small groups. To act as if this was just a normal day on the train.

So we did. Several times, the friends I was with were asked why they weren’t wearing anything below the belt – particularly because they were specifically dressed in Hogwarts uniforms sans pants. One of them just pretended she’d forgotten them. The other blamed his lack of trousers on a spell gone wrong. I just looked at the questioning parties as if I had no idea what they were talking about.

But that was just part of the fun. Now, I’m no prude by any means. I will wear the tiniest of skirts to a nightclub without batting an eyelash. In that environment, I am totally comfortable. But this was not a nightclub. This was not an expected venue for the outfits (and lack of them) that were seen and worn. Which is what I feared would take me out of my comfort zone. And it did. For a little while. But not for as long as I thought it would. The sheer absurdity of being in a group of people all walking around without their pants on in the middle of Los Angeles – at Union Station, on Hollywood Boulevard, was brilliant. And un-surprisingly freeing. To be honest, I lost all self-consciousness in minutes.

Also, not surprising, was the friendliness with which everyone greeted each other. It’s hard to throw attitude when your junk is on display, unprotected by nothing by thin cotton panties, teeny tiny briefs or form hugging shorts. If that’s all it takes to break down cultural strata, maybe we should all go pants-less more often.

I could try to wax on about the day and how life changing it was, but the truth is that it wasn’t that. It was just exactly what it was supposed to be – a brilliantly fun day, and after the subway riding portion of the day ended, my friends and I adjourned to the Pig-n-Whistle for some beers and burgers until it was time to put our pants back on and head home. And I did accomplish what I had set out to do – I did something new that took me out of my comfort zone. I highly suggest that everyone try to do that more often.

With this goal in mind, already I feel like even if this year isn’t overall better than last, at least it’s going to be a hell of a lot more fun.

Me with the No Pants representatives from Hogwarts.

Me with the No Pants representatives from Hogwarts.

IMG_5552

Part of my favorite no pants clan – a Star Wars group. A Stormtrooper, an Ewok, Han Solo, Darth Vader and even a Wampa – all without pants.

IMG_5553

The crowd with no pants heads up to Hollywood Boulevard.

IMG_5533

Just a normal day on the metro… without pants.

Good Saturdays (Also Called: I Want to Play on a Giant Hamster Wheel Too!!!)

Lately, I’ve been limiting myself to one good blow-out go out day per week as financially I’m not entirely secure at the moment. (My career is definitely in flux at the moment and it’s showing in my bank account balance, but more on that later.)  This past Saturday, the outing was more than perfect.

My good friend B came into town Saturday morning for the day and we’d planned a great day out. I took her up to the Getty Center to go look at arts. It was an amazingly beautiful day and the Getty was crowded but we’d gotten there early enough to see it all just about. (We skipped most of the section of French Antiquities – which I tend to refer to as the Rooms of Ugly Old Gaudy Crap.) But the rest was fantastic – like the photographs by Felice Beato – classic images of India and China as well as the rest of 1800’s Europe – amazing images of places that have been since changed and lost – and in some cases (Constantinople) don’t exist any longer as they were then. B was particularly impressed by the classic paintings – Van Gogh’s Irises amongst others. In a particularly accurate description, she said that seeing these paintings – the ones that are so completely ingrained in our consciousness, the ones we have grown up looking at in books and movies – that seeing them in person was like realizing there was a rock star sitting next to you. I get that. Particularly when I wander into that one room at the Getty Center. It’s a small room. It’s in the corner of the top floor of the west building and most of the rest of the room is taken up by it’s star attraction – which is a mural of some sort that takes up one side of the room entirely. Honestly, it’s such a trivial painting to me that I have never even noticed what it is or who it’s by. But opposite that wall, is a smaller painting that takes up the lesser side of that opposite wall. But it is my favourite painting of all time. (Edvard Munch’s Starry Night.) Every time I see it, it makes me happy.

The other thing that made me happy on Saturday afternoon at the Getty was the most innocent and spontaneous and gorgeous thing I think I’ve seen in a long time. B and I grabbed a sandwich to split and wandered outside in the garden to sit in the sun and relax for a bit in the midst of our art infusion. We weren’t the only people out there with that idea and the lawn under the building was filled with families and people picnicking. And kids. Lots of kids. Two of these kids, a brother and sister team, who I think were about 8 or 9 years old took it upon themselves to run to the top of the lawn and roll back down it. You know, that perfect kid’s activity when you would lie down in the grass sideways and just roll down a hill wrecklessly? The two of them started it. Then another kid joined in, then another. Pretty soon there was a swarm of kids all rolling down the hill in waves. It was AWESOME. I would have joined them, but I think their parents would probably have thought I was nuts and made them stop.

After a day of wandering around getting cultured, B and I drove out to Echo Park to pick up another friend, G for dinner and a show. And what a show it was.

We went to see a showing of Cirque Berzerk – a darker and more alternative show not unlike the wholesome and family oriented Cirque du Soleil; not that the two have anything to do with each other really, other than a similar style of acrobatics and aerialists. Amongst the aerialists and trampoline acrobats, contortionists and tumblers, the singers, fire breathing, fire dancers and one slightly psychotic stilt-walking clown (who strangely didn’t bother me in the least though I am absolutely terrified of the more traditional clowns – you know the ones with the false noses and bad orange wigs?) there was one other act that got my attention. The apparatus is called the Roue Cyr and is what looks like a giant hula hoop that the acrobat stands inside and on and rolls around spinning and twisting. I kept calling it a giant hamster wheel (actually until about 3 minutes ago while I was writing this and I decided to actually look at my program from Saturday night and figure out what the hell it was called). OHMIGOD it looks like fun!!!

Saturday’s activities took me back to my initial beginning of the year blog post about resolutions and the coming year. After the day I had, I want to add a new one to the list. It’s simple and probably the most easy one to do. Just have more FUN. Whether it’s rolling down a hill in the sun or spinning around on a giant hamster wheel, isn’t that what it’s about – spending time with friends and generally just having fun. Or shouldn’t it be?

Is It Real or Is It the Internet?

Lately I’ve been pondering the real world versus the online world.

Over the last year I have made – from all over the world – a huge pile of new friends thanks to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and DailyBooth. At first I started using Twitter as a marketing tool. I started using DailyBooth to keep up with one old friend who lives half way around the world. But thanks to that, I now have a core group of really good friends who I have not yet met in person and only have talked to via emails, chats and in one case, Skype. Since I work from home a lot of the time, my online life lets me still remain social, even though I’m working and stuck in my apartment. It’s very much like you would have at any office. Case in point today – when 3 of my friends and I happened to be online at the same time and we started a back & forth that lead to my nearly spitting coffee on my monitor I laughed so hard.

How is that any different from those moments with your closer coworkers when you get on that same track and the hilarity ensues?

Last night I went out with several girlfriends for a birthday dinner. The conversation rambled from the ridiculous to the silly to the serious – the same way my conversations with my online friends do.

And considering my new year’s resolution of getting out and balancing my online life with my real life – I think the last few days have been a complete success. So there it is… Social Networking is the new coffee break. And that’s a good thing.

New Year’s Eve

It’s New Year’s Eve today. Tomorrow begins a new year and for some reason, which I have never quite understood, everyone seems to feel like it’s the beginning of something. I would say that I feel the same, but the honest truth is that it’s the beginning of nothing but a new calendar. All the spaces that had been filled in before are free and open to possibility again. But what does that really mean?

If your life isn’t what you want it to be, tomorrow morning, you’re not likely going to wake up to a better anything. Your life will be the same, the only thing that will have changed is that you and the world around you will be a bit older, a bit less shiny and very probably hung over. If your life is good, it will most likely continue to be good. Things are really rather on their path and they tend to stay that way. So why is it that we give this day and the one following it so much power?

And because of that everyone expects that we should all go out and do something fantastic, but really it’s just a turn of a calendar page. Nothing more, nothing less.

Still, I can’t help but feel that sudden overwhelming sense of possibility. As bored with my life as I am and as dissatisfied with the way this year has turned out, I am a sucker for the romanticism of the day and I too will fall helplessly asleep tonight (hopefully not too drunk either) thinking that maybe, just maybe, this year will be different. I will figure out what I want, how to get there and fix the things I see wrong with my life.

I’ve made my list of resolutions. I have to admit that sadly they look very much like the ones I made last year. They look like the ones I’d made two years ago in fact. So I suppose that this coming year is one to play catch up with myself a bit. There are the normal ones that everyone makes; you know, lose weight, find true love, improve my life in general. There are the more specific ones that apply only to me; to get back to the stable and play with the ponies more often, sort out my debts, etc… And then there is the one that is mine and mine alone. And that is the one that matters most. It’s one thing. One very small thing that to anyone else would be just a wish. Or a dream. But to me, it’s a need.

And no, I’m not telling you what it is.

But I will say this.

I hope everyone does the same. Find the one thing on that list which is within your power to change and change it. Maybe if we all focus on that one small thing – then next year, things won’t seem as bleak as the year before and we can all look back on 2011 as the year we accomplished something. No matter how small it seems.

Happy New Year.