Oops...In my Thanksgiving foodie haze, Friday quickly turned into Saturday. I spent Thanksgiving morning in the most beautiful place in the world, well, one of them. Trinidad, California. My mom and I woke up, and since yoga was cancelled, at both studios, for the day (this made me very grateful to live in a city where everything is available pretty much at all times), we decided to walk Trinidad Head. We took my mom's dog and went up the hill. The top of Trinidad Head is one of my favorite places in the world. It is still, quiet, and very healing for the soul.
As we sat on the top of the mountain I wished we didn't have to leave. Looking out over the Pacific Ocean, with the sun shining down, I felt as though I could see forever and everything was peaceful and still. This was definitely yoga!
Alas, it was a holiday and we had people to cook for. The day before we had gone to the farm share my mom buys into. It's called Deepseeded Farm and it is just outside of Arcata, California. Everything is simpler here. The food, the people, the life. It is an ode back to a time past where the food is local and the people all know one another. The air is clean. The trees breathe deep injecting the atmosphere with a deep sense of healing calm and the farm carries that energy.
We walked into the room where you pick out your food. The amount of each vegetable you are supposed to take is written on the board. You are on the honor system. This would never happen in NYC. The food is fresh, beautiful, and pure.
When my mom and I returned to the house on Thanksgiving afternoon we spent the rest of it cooking the food we got from the farm, plus some other, but it felt amazing to know that much of our Thanksgiving feast was sourced from a farm that lives, breathes, and grows in the very town we were cooking it in.
The vegetables were roasted as was the turkey, and much of them, the Brussels Sprouts, the sweet potatoes, and the cauliflower, came from the farm.
For dessert, I whipped up some coconut milk and topped my vegan pumpkin pie and my mom's homemade apple crisp, made from the apple trees in her backyard, with it. the coconut milk whipped cream significantly decreased my post eating guilt...:)
All in all a beautiful and simple Thanksgiving. Life functions best when it is pure, simple, and clean. The food we eat is a sure indicator of what is happening in out bodies, minds, and hearts. When we eat real, whole food, from a source we know our bodies just breathe and function better.
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday filled with lots of love...
If you are just now joining this blog, this is Meditation Mondays: A weekly series chronicling my prescription drug free journey out of Anxiety and OCD and into a more spiritually connected way of being.
I stepped into my first Bikram class on a Monday night at 8 pm. My friend had been telling me about it for some time and, with my swollen ankle, the timing seemed perfect. That friend and I walked into the hot room and the 90 minutes flew by. I don't remember a thing about it, except that I LOVED it!!! Needless to say, I never went back to another kickboxing class.
Now, wouldn't it be wonderful to say, "I went to my first Bikram class and magically all of my anxiety melted away. I was cured."
Yeah...that's not really how it works.
Actually, stepping into that room was like learning how to be-- from scratch. It's like being an infant and through your practice you grow into a more connected and grounded adult. When I stepped into that room, I was about five years old with the rebellious tongue and actions of a teenager.
My first few months I only practiced two or three times a week. I was working in an office and would go after work. I rarely went on the weekends. I was still raving too much. Dancing and the Devil dominated my weekends while I cried my way through my office job during the week. Yoga became my weekday savior. I was connecting so deeply to it. I would rush from the office to class. Class was a blur. I wasn't breathing. I wasn't still, not at all. I was the opposite of still. They called me Ms. Fidgets. I spent much of the time looking at the teacher expecting, seeking, really pleading, for attention from them. I needed it, begged for it with my eyes. And again, I wasn't still.
I didn't even know that I was supposed to be still. I didn't understand the concept. My heart raced. My breath was always in my chest. I don't think I ever, in my life, breathed properly. Maybe when I was dancing, but it was when I was on the dance floor that I had felt the most connected. I was still hiding away in the Devil and since sex had been had I was more attached than before. The sex was AMAZING! Truly, like a drug, but one where I felt nothing except pure love. We melted into each other and shared something beautiful. In the aftermath, all I wanted was to get my next fix. It really was a drug, but I maintained my own life. I kept my friends. I didn't let him own me in everyday life, only when I was intimate with him, but that control ran over.
I was learning, growing. He wasn't my boyfriend and he was teaching me about myself. I couldn't own him or try to control him the way I had with the other boys in my life and that drove me crazy. He pointed that out to me, my need to control and it was something I wanted to change. I knew it was unhealthy. It was a learned behavior, one I had adopted. I didn't realize it was an unhealthy way to be until he showed me. By controlling the people in my life I thought I was helping them be better. But, really I wasn't letting them be their self and I wasn't finding myself. I didn't know myself and it was easier to control others than to look into my own heart.
I was on the path to knowing myself and had had glimpses of that woman on the dance floor, but soon after, the anxiety would set in and I'd lose that image becoming a slave to the ticks and fidgets and fear of losing. I hated my job. I hated being in an office. My monkey brain ran rampant. It controlled the show, spun me in circles until I landed in bed with The Devil once more. With him my brain stopped, I didn't think, I didn't worry, all I felt was pleasure and love. In his absence, the cycle began again.
On my yoga mat I was dying, getting my butt kicked, but I wasn't yet having epiphanies. I was just dying. I wanted it hotter and harder and hotter and harder. I couldn't get enough heat. I sought out the hottest and the hardest teachers and I died.
I needed the heat to sweat. I was so flexible and not strong AT ALL! I'd work as hard as I knew how and sweat as much as I could and afterwards I'd lay on the mat covered in it. I'd feel wrung out as though I had birthed a new person. That feeling was almost what I felt on the dance floor, or when I ate acid, or when I had sex with The Devil. I could feel the connection, the peace. It was there and I knew I wanted more of it. It was connection I wanted, true connection, to myself, to God, the universe. I wanted the calm that came with trusting the universe. It was the connection I felt to the ocean when I was young. Connection, that's what I wanted. I wanted to feel that connection to my spirit, to myself, to be sure and confident about who I was and what I wanted.
In my job, I was buying advertising for the modeling school. I hated it. I had moments of exhilaration, but my heart wasn't in it. They were telling young kids that they could be models when, in fact, it was a bit of a scam. The probability that they would land in a modeling job from Barbizon modeling school was slim to none. I hated the deception...
Then something amazing happened. Barbizon had a high school outreach program where we gave high school lectures about knowing yourself. I had been scheduling the lectures, but not giving them, and then my boss asked me to give those lectures. He introduced me to the guy who was our head lecturer. He was this amazing actor who had a beautiful wife and two children. His energy was infectious. He and I went on a road trip down the Pacific Coast, starting in Watsonville and ending in Santa Barbara. We went to a number of high schools and we told them our stories.
And, though I didn't know exactly who I was and what I wanted to do, I was on the precipice of knowing. I kept practicing. I kept connecting. I was getting there, closer to where I needed to be and I'd found a platform where I could tell that story, which only furthered my journey...
My lecture started with, "When I was in high school I had a .06 GPA..."
Happy Monday!!! I'm off to California for the next nine days...xoxoxo
We are sitting on the precipice of Thanksgiving. On Monday, I will leave my cats to their own (and my pet-sitter's) devices and fly to California where I will spend the holiday.
Thanksgiving with my stepfather was most often a cook at home event. There were a couple of times that we went to the city, the city being San Francisco, but mostly we spent them at home.
As I mentioned, I used to basically live on all foods that were fluffy and white. Thanksgiving provided me with the perfect opportunity to gorge on these foods. Rolls and mashed potatoes. I didn't care about anything else. I would eat some turkey and cranberry sauce as well, but it was the rolls and mashed potatoes that I devoured like a feral cat who hasn't seen food for weeks.
One Thanksgiving, when I was seventeen, my mom and my stepfather left me home to cook the turkey. They had something to attend to. I have no idea what. I never asked questions when it came to them. I was way too cool and too selfish to care about where they were and what they were doing.
My mom and I got it ready to put in the oven. It was 13 lbs. There were only three of us who would be eating it. Who knows why we needed such a large turkey?!?
We were living in Trinidad, California at the time. Trinidad is this amazing little town that overlooks the ocean. There is a small mountain that extends into the ocean called Trinidad head. The top of Trinidad head is where the United States measures the cleanest air for North America. It is the place that all other air quality is measured against. We were living in a house that sat on a hill just opposite Trinidad head. Well, I wasn't living there. I was in my first year of college and living in the dorms, but I loved escaping to my mom's house. Plus, a boy who would later be the boyfriend who taught me to study worked at the grocery store and I loved walking over to flirt with him.
Anyway, she put the turkey in the oven. I was all of 100 lbs at the time and had absolutely no strength. My spirit was strong, but my physical body was not! After she left, I was in charge of tending to it. In sweatpants and sweatshirt, while watching The Basketball Diaries, my favorite movie at the time, I babysat the turkey.
Every ten minutes or so I basted it. I watched it carmelize and bake while I kept it covered in its own liquid. I basted and basted and watched The Basketball Diaries and basted and stared out the window at the beauty of the ocean churning under the grey November sky and I basted some more.
The ocean has always had a calming affect on me. That time was not a calming time, but, being in my mom's house with the ocean so close to me, while I tended to the cooking of a beautiful turkey, I felt calm and happy. I was in my happy and safe place. Watching movies I love, cooking my mom's house, in my sweats and a sweatshirt. At a time when life hadn't been wholesome for a long time, the purity of that moment filled my heart and made me feel whole.
I basted the turkey until the turkey could be basted no more and when we sat down to eat it my stepfather said to me, "This is the best turkey I've ever had. It's so tender."
And, though I must admit, my turkey was very juicy and tender, there is a piece of me that thinks he was merely complimenting me so that I felt good about my accomplishment. That was not a time filled with accomplishments for me. Through his praise I believe he hoped to inspire me to receive more praise.
It worked. Not far after that, I was getting straight A's and debating him at the dinner table until my face was about to burst with excitement and conviction. Our debates always drove my mom insane. She thought we were arguing, but we were merely discussing and conversing...
I hope you all have a beautiful holiday. Thanksgiving has a sketchy foundation and background, but remember it is ultimately about thanks. Be thankful, give love, and enjoy the ones you're with...It's easy to forget to be grateful. This is a day that gives us an opportunity to really give thanks for the gifts in our life because I guarantee, if you are reading this blog, you have sooooo much to be thankful for. I know I do!
Oh, the Devil. He revealed himself to me slowly. Peeling back layers and letting me into his world one piece at a time. It was his way with all of his "new" girls. He was a master manipulator. First, he got to know them. Then, based on how accepting and open he believed them to be, he let them into the truth about his world, which was basically that he had a harem.
His harem consisted of a range of girls--some had been in his life for almost ten years, some for less than a year, but all of them were in love with him, or at least, they believed they were. He had this amazing way of channeling your feelings and using them to manipulate you into believing that no one else in the world could make you feel as good as he did. The girls rotated. They'd come and go. Sometimes, they'd leave his lair for years and them, when they broke up with a guy or were feeling weak, they'd come back again.
He always said to me, "One day you will just get tired of my shit and walk away. I'll never hear from you again. You're too pretty and pretty girls are high-maintenance."
But, that was in the beginning, before either of us were attached. I never asked him how he felt when I did exactly that. For that was two years later, our relationship had progressed and we had traveled through many of the most interesting experiences of my life and when I was done, I didn't care how he felt because I was truly done. My relationship with the Devil was a once in a lifetime, stranger than fiction time. A time, I would never want to relive, but one that I am incredibly grateful for because it cracked me open and helped to form who I am today.
It started very innocently, we had a date. A short dinner and then went back to his house just outside of the town Mill valley in Marin County, Ca. We chatted and listened to ambient trance. He delved in and I felt connected immediately. I should have known how bad he was when his ex, the one girl he claimed to have been "in love" with, stopped by during that first date. She walked in, saw me, and went storming out of the house screaming at him. That was pretty much the last time they saw each other. She had had enough.
In the rave scene, I had heard tales of the one girl who could tame the Devil and that was her. She wasn't what I expected. I had watched him come and go with various girls over the years, was even acquaintance friends with some of those girls, but I was young and strong spirited. I thought they threw themselves at him. I wasn't totally aware of his ways.
He had ways, many of them. In fact, he had made a career out of creating his ways. And, as I lay on his couch with his arms around me, while ambient trance music played and he went in to kiss me, I had no control I was his for the taking...
Well, not totally, I knew he was bad and, even though our chemistry was amazing!!!, I couldn't let myself have sex with him. I was afraid what might happen if I did. The following weekend he took me to L.A. for one of his DJ gigs. I was smitten, obsessed, really. I was not in love. I never felt in love with him, but I was definitely infatuated, deeply infatuated and, to use one of his favorite phrases, "I had love for him." He was opening me up sexually in ways that I didn't think possible and I hadn't even had sex with him yet.
I was in my last semester of my senior year of college and all I wanted to do was psychologically analyze this egomaniac DJ and his harem of women. My best friend couldn't believe it! She was pissed and hated anything that had to do with him, but what he was giving to me I couldn't explain to her.
I was slowly being cracked open and rooted in a spiritual way like I never had been before. One of the ways he manipulated women was by extracted their deepest issues, exposing them, and using them to make the girl feel insecure. This tactic didn't work on me. I am always looking to be a better version of me, so, when he told me about my "issues" I examined them and changed them. Sometimes, he was right and, sometimes, he was simply trying to gain control. I was able to discern between the two. Control was his ultimate goal. Power. Control. Manipulation. And love. There really was love...
He loved to tell me that I was spoiled. He loved to point out that he wasn't going to adore me the way all of the boys in my past had. And they had, adored me. And he didn't. It became my mission to get him to adore me and to love me. I wasn't the kind of girl he was used to dealing with. He liked his girls without a support network so that he became their support network. I had a built in one of my own, one that I refused to give up for him. And, I wasn't insecure. I didn't think the world began and ended with him.
However, my OCD and anxiety was off the charts. It was taking me at least 30 extra minutes to get out of my house. So many ticks, fidgets, thoughts, uncertainties, worries. Just so much of it all...
I was on the precipice of graduating college. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. And all I wanted to do was dance and hide in the euphoria of the Devil. He was an easy escape. When I was with him I wasn't faced with my anxious realities of what I was going to do with my life after college.
I started seeing him in February and by the time May came around I still hadn't had sex with him. I just couldn't. The intimacy I felt with him when we weren't having sex was too much. The thought of having sex with him frightened the living hell into me. After all, he was the Devil.
May brought graduation day. It was on that day that I made a very important decision in regards to my relationship with the Devil. This moment determined how closely involved in my life he would be. I had to decide between inviting him and inviting my beautiful ex-bf to my graduation.
I couldn't invite both of them and so I had to choose one. My mom was so proud of me for graduating college (and with honors!). I mean, after I dropped out of high school I can see why she would be. I wanted the day to be perfect. I wanted it to be filled with love and light and only people who cared for me. That did not include the Devil. And, so, I chose to invite my ex-bf instead.
The Devil never said anything about it, as he liked to maintain a level of nonchalance and aloofness, but I knew he was pissed and it was the decision that kept a level of distance between us. It was that level of distance that quite possibly saved my life (figuratively, of course)...
His girls were either primary of periphery and I became a periphery girl. I danced along the edges, but didn't get so close that I got burned.
Graduating college happened in a blur. All of that work and time and then I was done. I had no FUCKING idea what I was going to do with myself. I had a job, but that didn't mean I knew what I was doing.
A week after graduation, I started working for Barbizon Modeling School as their Marketing and Public Relations manager. It seemed fitting, you know, with my dreams of being a supermodel and all. I hated working in an office and often cried on the bus on the way home. I felt disheartened and I missed the freedom of school, but I was grateful to have a job just out of college. Not everyone was so lucky. My lack of interest and intellectual stimulation in my job allowed me to indulge in my relationship with the Devil much more than was acceptable or healthy.
I was spending my weekdays in the office and my weekends at raves where I danced to the Devil's music and ran free with my best friend. My anxiety was the worst it had ever been. I was sober. Completely sober! (the Devil liked it that way) And, after my hallucinogen summer, I was getting deeper into my spiritual self. I wanted to be connected. The Devil made me feel connected, but I wanted that all the time, without him, I wanted to know and feel calm and be at peace. I wanted that grounding. I wanted to be...
But, I wasn't that connected and nothing was anesthetizing the ticks, fidgets, worries, fears, and angst. I couldn't be still. I was in agony. I was searching and fretting and worrying and the only two acts that made it better were dancing and being near the Devil.
He was getting deeper inside of me and in the month of June two very important events occurred. First, I had sex with the Devil (more on that later). And, second, I sprained my ankle in a kickboxing class. I had recently come to the realization that exercise tamed my anxiety and I knew that I couldn't be still for very long.
When I told this to the Devil, he said to me, "Kickboxing is angry chick exercise. You should go to yoga..."
And, as the Devil had just been inside of me, I listened. Besides, yoga was in line with my desire to connect spiritually and yoga would be low impact on my totally swollen ankle! The following Monday at 8 p.m., a friend and I walked into my very first Bikram yoga class at Funky Door yoga in San Francisco, the Waller Street location...and my life was changed forever!!!
We've all been taught that chicken needs to be cooked and cooked well. But, in Japan, such is not the case. My first weekend in NYC I met some friends at a yakitori place in midtown. It was okay. My BF at the time, a chef, didn't like it. It was touted to us as the place to go. I left unimpressed.
A summer and a break-up later my friend came to visit me from San Francisco. She stayed with me for two weeks in December, the warmest December I have known since I moved away from California. I had a crush on a guy who loved the same midtown yakitori place I had been to my first week in NYC, I took my friend there. We both left, unimpressed and, actually, a little nauseated. She, being an acquirer of information and a researcher of the best places to go, found us a different yakitori restaurant to try, you know, just for comparison.
Yakitori Tori Shin, Tori Shin= True Chicken (my Nana would have loved it!), is a Michelin starred yakitori restaurant on the border of the Upper East Side and Mid-Town East. Now, first, as taken from Yakitori Tori Shn's website, "Yakitori, literally “grilled chicken”, is a Japanese Style Skewered
Chicken. Today Yakitori is made of several bite-sized pieces of chicken
meat and giblets, threaded on a bamboo skewer and grilled, usually over
Binchotan charcoal. The word “Yakitori” was first seen in a cookbook
written in 1643, using other kinds of birds such as duck, quail or
pheasant. Yakitori became very popular around 1955, when broiler
chickens became a common ingredient for the Japanese. Yakitori was often
served by street vendors and at Izakaya (Japanese Style Tapas Bar) as a
casual food. Now some Yakitori restaurants are becoming sophisticated
and offer choice quality types of chicken such as Jidori (organically
As I was not in love with my first two yakitori experiences, I didn't expect much when I stepped into the tiny restaurant, but I love all things Japanese, so I was excited, the same as I am about all elements from that culture. My friend had recently spent a good chunk of time in Japan and was much more adept at their true culture (true chicken...ha!) than I was.
We sat at the bar, which makes up the bulk of the seating in the restaurant. We ordered sake and looked at the menu. Deciding on the the Chef's Omasake menu the server, a tiny and beautiful Japanese girl, asked, "Are you okay with medium-rare?"
I looked at my friend and she said, "Yes."
I was hesitant, but then she said, "In Japan they serve chicken medium-rare all the time."
I trusted her and, when it comes to food preparation, I trust the Japanese. (Now, when it comes to nuclear reactors that's an entirely different story!)
With the order placed and the sake poured, we sat back to enjoy the plethora of skewers and it was a plethora. Kidney, main artery, crispy neck skin, chicken oyster (one of my faves!), melting tender belly skin, crispy neck skin, root of wing...just to name a few...
And then there was the heart. It's strange to think about eating the heart of another animal. The heart carries so much meaning. And so much, well, heart. It begs the question, what did the chicken feel in its tiny beating heart?
This, of course did not stop me from eating it, After all, the heart of anything is the best part. And this was no exception. It truly was amazing--tender, flavorful, juicy....amazing!
After the skewers comes a beautiful rice dish; I chose Oyako Don (chicken and egg over rice), but there are three others to choose from. And the meal is finished with green tea ice cream or shiso sorbet. I chose the shiso. I LOVE shiso. Light, refreshing, perfect...
As the meal came to a close I turned to my friend and said, "This might be one of the best meals I have ever had."
She only nodded.
As you, a reader of this blog know, for me to say that about a meal is kind of amazing. And I truly was amazed. After my first two sub par yakitori experiences, this one, was being ranked in my best meals EVER category, not a small feat, but Tori Shin is worthy of that.
After dinner we ran off to a Tori Amos concert where we held hands and cried the way girls should at one of her shows. Tori Amos and Tori Shin made for an excellent night!!!
And, btw, medium-rare chicken, when prepared by the right place, is AMAZING!!!
Also, I have been back one other time, not choosing the Omasake menu (mistake), but it was still amazing!!! If you live in NYC, go, just go...and do the Chef's Omasake menu.
After my gel tab acid trip, that summer became known as the lost summer, at least that's what my mom calls it. I spent the remainder of the summer bouncing between raves in San Francisco and eating hallucinogens in Santa Cruz, primarily mushrooms. My friend whose house I stayed at in Santa Cruz fell for a girl and he introduced her to me. She and I hit it off immediately. To this day, I still consider her one of my best friends.
We danced our way through that summer. We'd go to a party and dance, drive to Santa Cruz and eat mushrooms while we danced along the road that overlooks the ocean. It was one of the most beautiful and eye opening summers of my life. Different from the summer when I first started going to raves. The rave summer I danced and danced and danced until I cracked open to a new person or really started to recognize who I am. The lost summer was all about taking the next step as that person. And I was forging the relationships that would walk me there.
As the summer faded into school, my senior year in college, I was still running free. My mom was afraid I was never coming back from my lost summer on hallucinogens, but I did. I settled back into my routine, except I had a new friend in my life. She and I spent the weekends together, still dancing, driving to Santa Cruz together etc...It was one of those friendships that women have when they are both young, single, and free where they thrive creatively together and feel free being a unit. We talked for hours, so many talks into the wee hours of morning in my car watching the sun rise while staring at the Pacific. It was truly beautiful. We listened to trance and we talked, that whole first year of our friendship was spent dancing and talking...
She had graduated from high school the year before and was taking time off before college. So she was free to hang and spent most of her time at my apartment. We would eat mushrooms, drive back to San Francisco, take a nap and I'd get up and do homework. One morning, after doing mushrooms, I woke up at 11 a.m, made myself some tea, and went to my desk to study. She opened her eyes, looked at me and said, "Yarrow, this is why you are allowed to do drugs, cause you wake up the next morning and go straight to work." Then she closed her eyes and went back to sleep.
I was excited about my life at that moment because it was the first time I had ended a relationship and I didn't totally lose my mind. Instead, I went deeper into myself and kept my sanity, my balance, and my ambition in tact. Actually, I strengthened it.
But, I was still lost. I was running on this burning anxiety that propelled me forward and straight into the arms of a man that I would later come to call the modern day Charles Manson without the killing. He was the other half of the biggest DJ duo in the San Francisco trance music scene, the "Love The Music Not The Drugs," duo. I had seen him around for years and had felt drawn to him, but I had my boyfriend and I knew he was the devil, but sometimes, when the devil calls you answer and it might be the best thing for you.
I'll never forget the night he got my phone number. My friend and I went to a rave in Oakland where I knew he was playing. He and I had been flirting for a number of weeks prior to this night and I just knew where we were headed. Sometimes, you just know. The force is stronger than you and it is as though the universe pulls you towards the other person for no particular reason, but, regardless of any other circumstance, you know it is a union you must explore.
After his set had finished, I went over to say hi. He didn't waste any time. He got out his phone and put my number in it. I was elated, really, floating on a cloud. I couldn't wait for the moment I got to spend time with him. I knew the bad about him. He was manipulative, a womanizer, etc... But, I also knew he had this intensely spiritual side. After all, he had been a part of the driving force that brought me the music that had spiritually freed my mind. I knew I needed to be with him, needed it!
On our way home, my friend said to me, "Maybe you two will get married!"
I laughed and replied, "We will never get married. This is going to be VERY bad for me, but I'm going to do it anyway."
When she and I got home we sat in my car and talked, as we always did. It always felt as though if we moved from the car to the house the conversation would stop. So we stayed, in the car, listening to music, usually trance, and talking about EVEYTHING!!! Usually about our families, our past, our relationships from times past, our lives, what we wanted, where we were going, our feelings while on the dance floor, really, everything...
That night, mid in-depth conversation, my cell phone rang. Being that it was 4:00 a.m. there was really only one person it could be. I looked at the face of my phone, didn't recognize the number and I knew who it was. And, even though it went against my better judgment, I didn't have a choice, for my heart wouldn't have it any other way, and I answered the call from the Devil...