VIDEO: Desert + Canon 5D + Five Friends = “Sleepwalking”

Happy Saturday! I’m super honored that the visionary director Machete Bang Bang is letting me world premiere her latest art video on my blog!

We filmed this in 2012, the day after I came home from Bali. Looking back, it was sorta my coming out as a performer. I felt self-assured and sexy after all that time in the jungle. Machete says I left for Bali as Kelly Clarkson (edgy but still family friendly), and came back Beyonce. After six weeks of spiritual awakening, I also just wanted to play in the dirt with my friends.  🙂

Says Machete:

A year and a half ago, my friends and I went to the desert to capture our version of art. Unfortunately, most of the footage was lost, but regardless, I wanted to make something out of what was salvaged. Almost every filmmaker in L.A. goes to the desert to makes an artsy fartsy video. This is ours. Weirdo Camp presents: “Sleep Walking.”

Starring: Randall Yarbrough, Erin Granat, Ben Caro, Sarah Sandin, Machete Bang Bang

Cinematography by John Weselcouch
Directed and edited by Machete Bang Bang
Original music by Modest Mouse

Something amazing that happened to me this summer:

It was late July, and I was on a hike with three friends near Cloverdale, California. The hike was actually the immense backyard of one of the friends, he has a cabin on an incredible piece or property in the mountains, there are blackberry bushes and a giant rope swing and best of all–a grove of redwoods. The air was heavy with heat, the hillsides were that summertime burnt gold. To get in character, I picked up a walking stick and chewed a stalk of grass.

When we arrived at the grove of redwoods, we each fell silent. The trees do that to you. I sat down by a stump, right in the dirt, even rubbed the dirt on my legs. Then I noticed patches of light around the forest floor, that they were shifting as the sun passed overhead. I remembered learning that the redwoods are a rainforest, a temperate rainforest, and those moments of sunlight are all those sections of earth get all day, so dense are the trees. So whatever grows on the forest floor must thrive with mere moments of light a day.

I breathed deeply. I rubbed more dirt on my legs. Then I saw my foot was lit up with sunlight. I froze. Over several long moments, the sunlight began to move up my shin, eventually reaching my thigh, then my lap, then my torso. It was one of these threads of light, making its life-giving daily journey, and I was directly in its path.

I remained still, willing the light to pass over my face. I promised myself if I felt that light full upon my eyes, my lips, I would cast off my self-doubt, my social media sadness and cell phone addiction, my despair at not being able to artistically output everything I see, experience and feel. If the growth on the forest floor could thrive with mere moments of light in a day, think what I could do with all the brightness I have–my healthy body, my loving family, my creative friends, my Chairman Meow.

The light moved over my chest, my heart, my throat, and with my eyes closed and a redwood-size smile on my lips, the light illuminated my whole face. I was a new plant on the forest floor, struggling to grow roots, stretching toward the full force of Ra, Egyptian god of the sun, the very word “ra” meaning “creative power.”

So grateful.

I miss Bali; music videos; moon ceremonies.

I just got home from handing out free novels and music for the guerilla indie art project that’s been my main gig since I arrived in Los Angeles. Back in Koreatown, back pounding the pavement to make a buck, I find it hard to believe just last week I was in a bar in Bali, listening to an Indonesian band singing Pink Floyd, watching the lead singer snuggle his Dutch girlfriend between sets, struck by how lovely his brown skin looked entwined with her very pale skin. I stole glances at them over my watermelon juice, they both chain-smoked between kisses, and when he looked away she’d rearrange her cleavage in her red dress and fluff her hair. She did it every time he looked away. Every time! I’m guilty of doing the same in the company of boys, maybe all girls do, as if somehow every thirty seconds your entire appearance needs a refresh.

That night, in the bar, was one of the only nights I went out during my stay in Bali, and I was struck by how much rock n’ roll has the power to affect me physically. After so many days alone in my hotel room, removed from all things noisy and messy, removed from everything really, it felt good to have the bass thump in my gut and the guitar riff in my soul (or whatever that place is inside me that hears classic rock and has to hold back the desire to scream something, smoke something, smash something, love someone).

The next night I went to a full moon temple ceremony with a few new friends I’d met in the bar, a fun Indian couple and Moss, a tall Canadian who runs the Love Space, a creativity center where I went on to teach a writing workshop. A local had invited us, and he took us by his home to loan us some sarongs so we’d be appropriately dressed for the ceremony. His mom met us (typically most Balinese live in family compounds, each home with its own temple), and she had a few grains of rice pressed into her forehead and chest, a symbolic gesture I would accept myself at the ceremony. We then drove through what seemed like an endless valley of rice paddies, all lit up by the eponymous full moon. The moon then went into hiding, however, perhaps shy from all the attention, and by the time we arrived at the ceremony it was pouring rain (what’s another adjective to describe how rain falls? I’m tired of “pouring”). We were the only non-locals at the ceremony, and were greeted with friendly curiosity. I couldn’t get enough of how beautiful the women looked, no matter how old or how “attractive” they were, they were stunning in their lace blouses and long skirts, dancing barefoot in the rain to the gamelan choir. I thought they couldn’t get enough of me either, when I took refuge from the rain under a sort of tall parasol staked in the ground, out in front of everyone. Several women were gesturing at me, laughing and waving their hands. I waved back, like, Cool! They like me! Then I realized they were pointing at my purse, which wasn’t under the protection of the parasol, but sticking out behind me getting totally soaked. It broke the ice, however, and later a woman offered me a treat wrapped in a banana leaf, and her friends all giggled as I wolfed it down (I love treats!).

I got closer to myself in Bali. Especially as an artist. The understanding of slow the hell down, enjoy making your art, working on your craft. There are no lost days in writing, no wasted time. Only improvements made, one word at a time. Gotta keep rising above what I “need” to do daily…..the chores and bills and little details, and keep realizing all I really NEED to do is write, chip away at my art sculpture of text, one page at a time.

Since I’ve been home I’ve gone to the desert to appear in a video performance art piece directed by the visionary Machete Bang Bang, acted as “the girl” in a music video, given away tons of free art for my job, went back out to the desert to start shooting an art book I’m modeling in and writing the text for in collaboration with a landscape photographer, and started spring cleaning my closet.

I am productive. I get things done. I am an AmeriCAN!

 I miss Bali so much my bones hurt.

At the risk of simplifying something incredibly complex, here is what I know: the Balinese know how to live life. They surround themselves with beauty and culture, honor family and spirituality above all else, and create art for the joy of the process, not the product.

This last bit is the essential thing I’m taking away from my month in Bali. I have become way too focused on what my art can give me, rather than what I can give my art.

One afternoon, on my walk home to the Matahari (my hotel) past the pool hall and the green Mercedes and the five massage shops, the rain started pouring (need new adjective!) down. I ducked into the nearest doorway, because when it starts raining in Bali it goes from “sprinkling” to “downpour” in one second. Turns out the shop I took refuge in is a store selling sculptures and masks, and the family who runs it are sitting on the floor, working on their craft. They smiled at me but didn’t say anything. For the next hour, I just stood in their shop, leaning against the counter, watching the man and woman varnish a wooden mirror frame and the boy paint flowers on a mask. They weren’t rushed, weren’t worried about if they were doing it “right”….they weren’t anything really. They were just existing, slowly, steadily working on their task. Simple, I know. But to me, a revelation.

Another day I made jewelry with some locals. I was working on a copper bracelet made of several small rings, but kept getting frustrated at how clumsy I was handling the tools. At one point a boy says to me, and he’s only got like ten words in English total, he puts his hand on my arm and he says: “Don’t panic. Then you won’t finish anything.”

In the last few years, I’ve come to view my writing as a commodity, worried more about what it can give to me than what I can give to it. I get frustrated when I don’t see results fast enough, annoyed when it’s not “just done.” In Bali I witnessed art for the love of making art. The most poignant was the women making daily offerings. The offerings are literally everywhere. They usually appear as palm fronds stapled together to make little baskets, and hold a mixture of flowers, pieces of fruit, bread, and rice. The offerings are placed along with an incense stick both up high, on ledges and sculptures, as offerings to the gods, and down low, on the ground, in the streets, as offering to the demons. I’m told the idea is humans are in the level between the gods and demons, tasked with maintaining a balance between the two. I love that the women get all dressed up to place the offerings. Literally every day, they make these little treasures, then everyday according to some mysterious schedule (doesn’t seem to matter when) they put on their long sarongs and lace blouses, arrange their hair with pearl and gemstone pins, and go around placing the offerings and giving a prayer. Then they take off the fancy dress and go back to what they were doing.

Fun fact: The drummer of Caught A Ghost, the crazy good band I shot the music video for, helped me calculate that if I live to be 100 years old, so for another 73 years, I could spend the rest of my life in Bali for $932, 575. That’s $35/day (living like a queen at $20/lodging, $15/for two meals a daily massage).

I miss Bali, like I miss a new friend I’ve grown to love dearly and know I might not see again for a while. I miss the friends I made, the lady with the pretty plum lipstick who worked at the Matahari and would walk me to my room, linking her arm in mine and asking me in the Balinese way where I’ve been and where I’m going. I miss the Balinese waitress I befriended one night when she messed up my order and gave me a ride home on her motorbike to make up for it. I miss My Friend the Drum Lady. I miss me, the relaxed Balinese version of Erin.

I want so badly to hang onto these hard-earned perspectives, this new way of looking at life. But I always feel like this when I return from a trip, and inevitably the old life will creep back in. The main thing I want to hold onto is conquering the “more” disease. Having a coffee at a cafe and thinking it would be better if I also had a cookie, or had nice company, or was alone. Basically, wanting more than what I have right then. More money, experience, love, insight, talent, connections. More more more. Now, I’m just trying to move slowly. Verrry slowwlllyyy. I’ve realized this is the only way to handle the pace of LA. Deal only with what’s directly in front of me.

On my trip home the final flight of my travel was canceled and I had to stay the night in Tokyo. I spent a nice evening discussing films with a pair of human rights activists, painting my nails, and calling Beth back home to tell her how small and Japanese everything in my room was. At the airport the next day, enjoying some pre-flight sushi, an elderly Chinese man says to me out of the blue: “Don’t be stressed in life. Play more. Talk to God. Then you’ll be happy.” He gave me this unprompted. And what excellent advice.

The frustrating thing is nothing in this blog post comes close to explaining how I’m really feeling. How adrift I feel, maybe always feel. How daunted by this city I am, how right back in the turmoil I am of go go go all day and never get anything done. But at least I wrote a little. At least I wrote these words.

Something I’m chewing on, that I read recently, some words from Anais Nin: “Once we engage with the real people and real circumstances in our lives, we discover our own inner excitement and every day the real caress replaces the ghostly lover.”

Getting *somewhat* hit by a motorbike; monkey trance dance; Eat, Pray, Leave Me Alone

I got *somewhat* hit by a motorbike yesterday. I’ve been on my favorite writing schedule, working from 8pm–4am, and have accomplished more in the last week than I was able to all last month in LA (screenplay draft, almost done, CHECK!). But the night schedule does make me rather bleary when I emerge from my cave for food around 2pm. So I walked into the street and looked left, but not quickly enough to the right, and then BAM!, a motorbike gets personal with my thigh. It didn’t really hurt; the remarkable thing was the motorbike was driven by THREE little Balinese girls. They couldn’t have been older than age ten, and they were all three whizzing along on the same seat, no helmets, disintegrating the macho tradition of Easy Rider and those chopper shows with the guy who wears overalls and was married to Sandy Bullock. The motorbike fell over, they fell over, and I felt like the Big White Evil. We were right next to a pool hall and a bunch of men rushed out. I thought they would yell at me, or at the girls, but they just calmly propped the bike back up, looked around like “No one died, right?,” chuckled, gave the girls some money, and that was that.

Eat, Pray, Leave Me Alone. And thus my mantra for life in Bali has been declared. I apologize for going the obvious and making an EPL reference, but it’s impossible to write about Bali without mentioning the book/movie, someone will say it eventually so it might as well be me. Especially now that I’ve extended my stay and am here by myself, just like E. Gilbert (extra groan for being a writer wandering around Ubud alone).

Many events of note have transpired, in the way that everything seems eventful when you spend a lot of time alone. I’m doing the things single women traveling solo are wont to do, like writing really long blog posts while having beer for dinner and getting misty-eyed over the Indonesian bar band playing my favorite Creedence song.

Confession: I was with a boy these last few weeks. I know this is “I’m-single-for-the-first-time-in-years-self-growth-Erin-time,” but some boys have strong hands and rough beards and wicked senses of humor (this one especially) and so it just seemed silly to refuse a boy’s company. So I didn’t. But he flew home and now I’m Eat, Pray, Leave Me Alone.

The “leave me alone” part is difficult to enforce, as there are many interesting people to meet in Ubud. Like Anna, the yoga instructor, Lana the yoga instructor, Shakti the yoga instructor, TyeZan who does “human design,” Kenny who used to be a hustler and a pimp then had a spiritual revelation in jail and wrote a book about it. But after the last five years of relationships, the last five years of constant togetherness, it’s a revelation to spend time alone. I’m working toward being the person I most want to hang out with.

There’s a large community of Westerners who’ve settled here, it feels like Berkeley or Santa Cruz. I met a lot of these people at a poetry slam the other night, I competed for the first time! I received 8’s and 9’s! Although, perhaps predictably, almost everyone in this “om shanti” crowd got a high score (my fave summary description of this crowd, from a German: “You know, people who eat tofu and wear long, soft pants.”).

I’ve met people at ecstatic dance as well, which is a lot like my ecstatic dance community in LA except here we dance surrounded by jungle and lightning bugs buzz above us and when it rains the whole sweaty mass of us cheers as the tropical heat subsides for the first time all day. In LA, I dance at a Masonic Lodge. So, actually it’s pretty different. I went to an all day 5 Rhythms workshop and a butterfly floated in while we were dancing AND LANDED ON THIS GUY’S HAND LIKE SNOW FUCKING WHITE, then clung to his shorts and stayed there the rest of the day. Yeah, that’s definitely never happened in LA.

I’m also hanging out with My Friend The Drum Lady, who works in the drum store (duh). After looking in vain for some sort of drum lessons here and finally giving up, one day I wandered into My Friend The Drum Lady’s store and started fiddling with a tambourine. She laughs at my fiddling (she has a great laugh, like a bell ringing), offers me tea, then sits down to a djembe and invites me to join her, and suddenly its been an hour and I’ve just had one-on-one instruction in hand drumming. I bought a patica (also known as an asalato, basically two shaker balls on a string) which is rad because it makes not one but two rhythm sounds. I’m practicing while working out writing ideas, and hope to finally become the percussionista of my dreams (Crap. I just remembered Gilbert had a store lady friend in EPL…maybe this is what happens to all Ubud visitors? Actually, the real-life lady from EPL (who in the book turned out to be a trickster, which was conveniently left out of the movie) has her shop next to my hotel. I bet my drum lady would kick her ass if they met in the street, if for some reason they, uh, felt compelled to fight over their American gal pals). I’m going back tomorrow for another lesson.

The metaphor of the impromptu drum lesson: What you seek will find you, when you stop looking so damn hard, also happened with a cat (you know I can’t blog abroad without mentioning a feline). There’s a kitty I can hear meowing across the river from my room at night. It’s either lonely, or mating, and although I’m neither, it’s been weeks since I had a proper kitty hug. So I’ve been going out on the patio at night and calling “Here pretty kitty, here kitty,” and even meowing back, but alas I haven’t seen its furry face. Then on Friday I’m at YogaBarn and sit near a black-and-white cat hoping it won’t attack me, and it climbs right into my lap! I proceeded to hold her captive for the next twenty minutes as I forced my love upon her. At one point she looked right in my eyes and made the exact sound Chairman Meow makes in the morning and I just know it was him wailing at me across Sumatra and Borneo and Papua New Guinea to come home already (this not accurate geography, but I might never again be in Indonesia and thus have a reason to name drop such fabulous sounding places). Not yet, my meow. Not yet.

Bali just might be the hardest place on earth to leave. It’s both intoxicating and incredibly gentle. It’s humid in a cradling way, that womb feeling you only get near the equator. Most nights thunder storms gather around the volcanoes, and the sky is illuminated with flashes of lightning. It’s almost as if the Gods in the sky are taking pictures of their creation, flash photography allowed. At every turn, I see an image my mind associates with “exotic foreign land,” women carrying towers of fruit on their heads, kids drinking out of whole coconuts, plants as big as small cars and monkeys in the trees. One girl I met who’s been living her several years (she’s a yoga instructor) said it’s “Bali Mama,” the spirit energy who sucks you in. I can feel that. I can also feel that I don’t want to leave because for $15/day I can have two delicious meals and a massage.

I went to a Kecak dance the other night, the Balinese fire trance dance, which is an incredible performance where the only music is made by dozens of men chanting in a circle around a fire while the mesmerizing dancers act out the story of Ramayana, the Hindu epic. The dancers are choreographed to unbelievable precision, every hand and foot movement extremely precise and meaningful to the story (I didn’t want to video during the dance, but you can check out the Kecak scene in the mind-blowing 1992 movie “Baraka,” should be required cultural viewing).

Toward the end, the character of the white monkey appears, and at this particular Kecak I saw, the man playing the white monkey got a little out of control. At first, he leaped over the flaming coconut husks in the center of the circle—lots of ooh’s and ahh’s. Then he started walking right into the fire and kicking the husks. Kinda intense. Then something in him switched, maybe from the chanting and the heat, and he starts kicking the husks at will, several fly into the audience. The tourists are alarmed, and clutch their digital SLR cameras close their bodies. When a flaming coconut landed in the lap of one of the chanting Balinese men the white monkey was finally tackled to the ground. I watched him take off his monkey mask, wide-eyed and breathless, completely outside himself.

I wondered if it was all part of the show, until I’m told he had “run amok,” a common phrase we use in English, that I learn for the first time is a word of Indonesian origin. Says my pal Wikipedia: “Amok is rooted in a deep spiritual belief, and is caused by the hantu belian, a tiger spirit that enters one’s body…Running amok would thus be a way of escaping the world.”

Did I “run amok” out of America and straight to this island of rainy days and hot nights, the smell of incense and the taste of lemongrass, crickets and my own peace of mind ringing in my ears?

Going to have to be with that tiger spirit a little longer to get the answer. Just a little longer.

Bali! Volcanoes, poop coffee, Nevada in my heart, jungle in my ears.

Golden light through paradise windows. Spiritual offerings by women in lace. Motorbikes to ride, nasi goreng to eat. Smell of petrol, of seaweed, of burning trash. Sand, yoga, tourists. My nails are painted yellow. My nose is burned red.

Bali was a very good idea.

The guy at customs on Bali saw California on my passport and told me he won a trip to Universal Studios when he was a kid. He’d won a worldwide competition that was a promo for the movie “Space Jam,” winning a 5 night stay in L.A. for him and his whole family. I asked him how it went. He smiled the glorious Balinese smile. “L.A. was paradise.” Funny. I left L.A. for his island in search of the same thing.

This is my first trip to Indonesia, or Asia in general, and I’m fascinated by everything. Driving on the roads is a unique experience. The code is that you drive only looking forward, it is agreed that no driver will ever look behind them. This works in theory, as it means each driver is only responsible for what’s happening right in front of them. To change lanes, the custom is to slowly drift over, no checking your blind spot and making an assertive move. If a driver is drifting into your lane up ahead, you simply lay on your horn until they drift back–again, because no one will ever look back.

I’m currently hanging out on the island of Nusa Lembongan, where the locals work either in tourism or seaweed farming. The seaweed is harvested in plots in the ocean, and you can see the farmers out there at night, the sea calm, their headlights sweeping the dark. The tallest volcano in Bali, called Agung, watches over Lembongan from across the sea. The people do their daily prayers in the direction of Agung, because it’s believed the volcano is where the spirits reside.

I’ve learned about a great new moneymaking venture! It almost stinks like a scam, literally in this case, but it’s very real, and anyway I’m always looking to add to my repetoire of rackets. It’s called Kopi Luwak, and it’s a type of coffee made here in Indonesia, the most expensive coffee in the world, to be exact.

The remarkable thing about Kopi Luwak is how it is made. The coffee berries are first eaten by the Asian Palm Civet, a small furry creature that looks like a rat. Then the civet poops out the berry, and something in the way the civet’s digestive tract works keeps the actual coffee bean intact inside the berry, but with loads of yummy enzymes now coating it. Farmers then go around collecting the  civet poop, then pick the berries/beans out, give ’em a roasting and a brewing, and hati hati whatdoyouknow the most delicious coffee apparently known to man is ready for your espresso machine–if you’re prepared to spend $600/pound for it.

You’ve probably guessed I’m now considering how to develop my own brand of Koreatown Kopi Luwak, if Chairman Meow doesn’t object to the commodification of his litter box.

Finally, I’ve realized that no matter where I go in the world, there’s something about riding along a country road, wearing a tank top and shorts and breathing in fresh cut grass that always takes me to hot summer nights growing up in Gardnerville. I might be riding on a motorbike in Bali, my eyes taking in temples and beaches, but my heart is feeling sixteen again, bumping along in someone’s pick-up truck down to the river, drinking a Mickey’s hand grenade, the cows mooing in the Nevada night.

Yet, the jungle has it’s own intoxicating night chorus, as you’ll see in this video:

Yes, Bali was a very good idea, though it took me an extra day to get here, missed my flight and had to spend another night in the Bangkok airport. Here’s a video message to the cause of those 24 extra airport hours:

I’m staying in Ubud now. More to come!

I’m en route to Bali!

After many days of deliberation, much ceremonial asking my gut what it wants (other than scrambled eggs), trying to listen to my heart rather than my mind, and in the end flipping a coin: the results are in….I’m going to Bali!

Expenses thus far: $3.50 at LAX for my final Starbucks (considering cutting coffee altogether while I’m in Bali…prob won’t accomplish this), $27 (!!!) for the best damn sushi of my life in the Tokyo airport (not ashamed to share I ordered a California roll), $4 for an hour of internet here in Bangkok (should I venture out into the night? I have ten hours til my next flight…).

By 2:30pm tomorrow, after 46 hours of travel, I will arrive in Bali.

Bali!

I’m single for the first time in 5 years–Bali here I come? And, getting stoned with my shaman and my uncle.

I might go to Bali for a while.

My various L.A. jobs haven’t started back up yet, I have enough air miles for a free ticket anywhere in the world thanks to years of compulsive traveling, and hey, it’s Bali! I don’t know all that much about the little Indonesian island, other than it has seven volcanoes and deeply spiritual people. What I DO know is it’s on the other side of the world, and I feel the only reasonable use of all those air miles is to go as far away as possible…and it’s freaking far. From LAX to Japan it’s 11 hours, then another 8 hours to Singapore, then 3 more hours to Bali.

Know what all that time crunched into an airplane seat is? Golden writing time. There’s something about being forced to stay in my seat and the angle of the tray in my lap that makes for some of the happiest writing I’ve ever done. I wrote most of my  senior Honors thesis on a plane to Fiji. I wrote some of my favorite passages of my novel on the plane to Brazil. I sorta want the trip just for the air time. Of course, I could just do that writing here in L.A., but far-flung international travel is an excellent procrastination method.

Travel I can’t afford, I should add.

I’m a broke broken record, even to myself. I know I need to get a job more stable than the indie art project thing, the occasional spokesmodel thing, the clipping my grandma’s toenails thing. But that can wait, right? I’ve got a check coming from the CES gig, and yeah I could put it towards bills in L.A….but Bali has monkeys, and big flowers, and rice paddies. Better to be broke in Bali than fiscally responsible in Los Angeles, I always say (actually that’s the first time I’ve ever said that).

Another plus: I had an honest conversation with myself to examine if this Bali notion is me running away from something, or running to something. I am pleased to report it is neither. I’ve grown to love my life in Los Angeles, and I’ve finally gotten it through my skull that “making it” won’t equate happiness. I need to be happy now, or I’ll be all out of practice by the time success comes (BTW, what I consider “success” is up for revision—used to be “my name in lights,” now it’s “my name cleared from collections”).

One of the things that’s really blowing my hair back these days is ecstatic dance. I started going last November after a particularly bleak stretch of anxiety and self-loathing. Ecstatic dance is basically a bunch of people getting together and rocking the fuck out. It’s not a club scene—there’s no drinking or drugs or denim boners grinding against you. It’s just nice, cool people being happy and healthy together, working their emotional shit out through sacred movement.

Last week I went to an ecstatic dance in Santa Monica. There was a live DJ, live drumming, and a really rad shaman who did a sound healing after the dance, running between us with palm fronds soaked in essential oils, healing the energy in the room with percussions instruments and gongs and singing bowls. This shaman had an body like a sculpture, a thick beard, and dreadlocks woven with shells and stones.

After the dance he asked if anyone had jumper cables, his car was dead (he drove a dope black Range Rover, I might add—the shaman biz is thriving!). I happened to have put cables in my car that day, and offered to help him out. As his car was charging, he asked if I wanted to smoke some of his sacred after-shaman-ritual herb with him. The answer: YES.

So we hang out, and smoke this incredible blunt he rolls, that’s got hash in it, marijuana, holy basil, lavender, and some other stuff I can’t remember. We end up hanging out until three in the morning, trading ideas, discussing how to be warriors of love. I asked him about my Bali idea. He said, “You get self-realization when you look at nature, if you’re not in nature enough here, then you should go there.” I told him I couldn’t seem to focus in this city, that all the “stuff” I have to do makes me feel so anxious I can’t do anything. He told me if you’re not inspired, you have no will power. That I needed a big hit of inspiration. Then he told me used to be the red Power Ranger, and showed me a photo to prove it. I figure this guy must know what he’s talking about.

Bali—One point.

The next night I went to my Uncle Jimmy’s 74th birthday dinner. Jimmy is one of my favorite human beings. He’s actually not really my uncle, he was my real uncle Ricky’s partner, who died when I was a baby so I’ve grown up knowing Jimmy as my uncle. Jimmy has had the coolest life—he was in the original L.A. cast of “Hair,” he and Ricky had a super successful comedy act in the 70’s (Robin Williams opened for them), and he traveled the entire world as a cruise director in the 80s and 90s.

After the birthday dinner I joined Jimmy at his North Hollywood apartment and we did what we always do—smoke a joint and look at photos from his life. I brought up the Bali idea. He told me the answer to travel should always be yes, but to be careful of my heart, it needs safe-keeping. I told him I don’t really have the money for the trip, well, I don’t not have the money, but a more responsible decision might be to use it towards bills.

“But if you don’t go to Bali, it could be your Woodstock!”

“What do you mean?”

“Your uncle and I were supposed to go to Woodstock, but we got offered a gig at Rodney Dangerfield’s club in Brooklyn the same weekend. It paid $30, so we took it. Can you imagine?! I missed Woodstock to earn $30!!! I can’t tell you how often I’ve regretted that.”

Bali—Two points.

I also want to go to Bali because it sounds ridiculous: “Once I went to Bali for a month with no money and no idea what I was getting myself into.” It also sounds brave. It sounds like something Erin would do, or at least the Erin I want to be.

Thoughts?

Light reflections deep in Nevada.

This year kicked my ass. Had many moments of the awful/wonderful realization that no outer experience, person or thing will bring me contentment. It comes from deep satisfaction with myself, but how the fuck do I accomplish that? I met so many amazing new souls this year, especially at the ecstatic dance gatherings I’ve been attending, where I experienced the previously impossible: sustained moments of a quiet and calm mind. I finished writing my novel. It’s not done, but it’s finished. Agents etc. think it needs another revision. I agree, but am finding it hard to write when I can barely keep my head above water (I’m looking at you, Kaiser and rent and inconsistent payroll and the $350 speeding ticket). I am single for the first time in 5 years. “Did you meet someone else?” “Yeah–myself.”

I’m considering buying two golden rings, one for each hand, and marrying myself to my art.

I’m trying to be a warrior of love. The first soldier to recruit is m-y-s-e-l-f.

“Highchair” by Autolux might be the best song ever.

Next year I really want to: wake up at the same time everyday, get better at drumming, start a webseries with my roommates, brush Chairman Meow and King Alobar more often, explore more of Koreatown, go see Beva in Greece, manifest someone giving me a camper for creative retreats, be more diligent about backing up my laptop, build my photography portfolio, drink less wine and more water, eat more of the delightful magic mushrooms I’ve been enjoying since October, be a better listener, stay in more, kiss more, stretch more.

And pick more flowers.

Breakdowns–auto and otherwise–smashed glass and new dreamcatchers on a HWY 395 drive.

Left L.A. last Thursday, heading home to Reno-Tahoe-Gardnerville….had money on my mind, my job with the guerilla art project is back, and for every hour I spend handing out free music I am paid $16…it’s never enough at the end of the month, but surely it would be “enough” to someone else, like the girl on the side of the road heading north on the 5 with a sign that reads “homeless and pregnant”…got a ticket for speeding outside Mojave, then my car wouldn’t turn back on so I spent the night in a Mojave motel, where I smoked 2 joints, watched 6 hours of HBO, and had a beautiful “what does it all mean???” emotional breakdown (Will I ever own who I truly am? Why can you be truly in love but still not right for each other? Will it backfire how honest I am on my blog,…or can I just trust that complete vulnerability is always the best choice?)…next day got a rental car then tried to order balsamic vinegar on my salad with a side of hummus and met only a blank stare, which lead me to realize that despite my best efforts I have become an “L.A. person”….ate about 1,000 sunflower seeds in Death Valley and 1 dry sandwich in Bishop and took photos of cows in Bridgeport…stopped at a yard sale in Big Pine and bought a whimsical stick dream-catcher thing….arrived Reno 11pm, straight to a party, then out til 4am, so happy to be with old friends, went to 5 Star Saloon and danced on a pole, nice to see genuinely drunk people, in L.A. people only get “tipsy”…..for the first time feel like a tourist in my own hometown…..it’s a good feeling, but disconcerting….next day go to lovely wedding in Tahoe, after the reception play blackjack for many hours with fellow wedding guests, I drank a white russian and we all fell a little in love with the dealer, Oksana from Ukraine….next day, alone again, roamed around a shopping center in my pajamas, hungover and happy to be breathing Tahoe air, spent a long time touching ornaments in a holiday store, then tried on a kimono in a crystals-and-wizards sort of store….then drank a coffee on the beach at Edgewood, a golf/lodge/restaurant and the site of my high school prom and where I once worked as a ball girl for a Playboy golf tournament….then to my dad’s house in Genoa, where I observed he and his wife Melissa’s new honeybee colony, took a nap, and researched earth-based religions…next day stopped to visit with Netti, the original goddess, where we discussed men, my mom, and astral projection, then she gave me a box of gypsy pillows and I hit the road….sometime around midnight I screamed out the window at the night sky “You’re beautiful!!!!”….arrived at a motel in Lone Pine and tried to open a Heineken with a lighter like I’ve seen so many guys do, ended up with a busted knuckle and a tiny cup of beer froth….next day early breakfast and purchased a made-in Lone Pine coffee mug and “spirit string” that’s rainbow colored and stands for Freedom….drove out toward Mt. Whitney and took some photos, then smashed the Heineken bottle to SMASH away my anxieties, then scooped up the broken glass to tie to my new whimsical stick dream-catcher thing….reluctantly traded my rental car for the old Escape, and made it back to L.A. in time for my grandma’s 96th birthday party.

A video from the road…with a cool song and a closing thought:

Epiphanies and pictures.

I’m in the airport in Sao Paolo, waiting to fly home after 30+ days in South America. I’m looking forward to my Chairman Meow, summer weather, salads. I’m sad to leave dulce de leche, super friendly locals, adventure. I feel invigorated to return to Los Angeles, which is saying something because I was at maximum L.A. burnout level. I want to go to the LACMA, spend time in Venice, reach out to new girlfriends. And, as always, finish my damn novel. I had an epiphany in an elevator in Uruguay yesterday: A person can’t “find” happiness, because happiness isn’t something to be “lost” in the first place….human beings are engineers, the inherent restlessness of our souls is what’s led us to discovering new continents, going to the moon, creating the Internet. I’m always trying to quench that restlessness. I never enjoy what I’ve already accomplished. Travel has been my favorite antidote, the perfect way to so distract myself with the now I don’t have to face what’s really going on in my head. But even on the other side of the world, on a gorgeous beach in Brazil eating a lunch made for me by an Indian woman, served in her kitchen, somewhere in my brain the same annoying record plays: “Am I doing everything I can to further my career? Do I look okay? What will happen next in my life, I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!” This is insanity, no? Conclusion: I’m done trying to find happiness. I’m embracing that sometimes I’m sad, grumpy, petty, spiteful, bloated, annoyed and annoying. Let it rip! Because what will happen next is already happening. And when it all becomes too much, there’s always music, memories, and marijuana.

Here are some of my favorite photos from the trip. Enjoy.  🙂

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A day in Buenos Aires to remember the kitties I’ve met in South America.

In a cab in Buenos Aires, I stick my head out in the smoky air and am free to dream.

My heart is fireworks for this city!

The buildings look like Paris, the Spanish sounds like a song, the city runs on Erin Granat time: wake-up at 11am, start your day at 3pm, eat dinner at 11pm, stay up dancing, pontificating til 6am. Love!

I arrive at the Botanical Gardens, very leafy/green, stylized statues all around. I sit in the grass, in the sun. Next to me is a cat, a calico cat of black and gold (Theta colors!). I instantly am in love with this kitty and name him Palmito. I pet him and scratch his ears, hoping on the other side of the world in Los Angeles my fat fluff Chairman Meow isn’t jealous. Hopefully, Palmito won’t update his status in the international cat registry (Meowbook?) “Met an American writer. She had nice paws.” (Weird? Yes!)

Palmito and me--Botanical Gardens, Buenos Aires

I tell Palmito about his fellow cat brethren I’ve met on this tour of South America. There was Chino in Brazil, a severely cross-eyes Siamese I communed with at a nature retreat while drinking wine by a fire. I had confided in Chino how different Brazil was from my expectations, how nice the cars were, how much you could feel the economy on a boom. I told him how much I loved the juice in Brazil–watermelon with mint with honey and ginger.

Chino and me--Southern Brazil

Back to Palmito. I tell about the kitty committee I met in Montevideo. I was on a run by a lighthouse and was taking in the deceptively big skyline of this capital of Uruguay when I spotted two, no three, no DOZENS of meows living amongst the rocks below the lighthouse! There were too many to name so I sat silently instead, hoping they’d come say hello. They weren’t interested in me, sadly, so instead I took up a handful of pebbles and meditated on one at a time, letting each one represent something I felt bad about and needed to exorcise from my life (mucho mucho), then threw each pebble into the River Plata that separates Montevideo from Buenos Aires, willing my despair to sink with the pebble into the murky water. Then the lighthouse attendant arrived in a yellow rain slicker and asked me if I wanted to help feed the kitties and I said yes and they were adorable with milk all over their little meow faces and I was able to pet a few and was so happy!

Palmito goes off to chase a butterfly and I head to the Museo de Evita, because I like learning about powerful women. I admire her gowns and ponder why the museum goes from her childhood straight to her years with Peron, and learn later the beginning of their romance was shrouded in scandal so es posible que the museum conveniently skipped those years. But I smoked a joint before I left for the day so maybe I just missed a room.

Up to something--Evita and her man

Next I walk around Palermo, the hip/trendy/expensive part of Buenos Aires that’s even separated into a “Palermo Soho” and “Palermo Hollywood.” I buy many pretty things. It’s an unbelievable fact that this super cool stylish city is so inexpensive. I order a pancake in a cafe, it comes with layers of jamon y queso y cinco fried eggs! The waiter is blonde and tells me he loves me. I make a note to ask Chairman if he’d like to be an Argentine kitty meow.

Love my gypsy patterns--Palermo

I leave the cafe and find a cab within seconds. A mundane details, perhaps, but if you’ve ever spent ages trying to hail a cab in a big city you’d be pleased to learn Buenos Aires seems to have an abundance of available cabs. And these amazing cookies called Havannas! And Malbec! And dulce de leche! This trip has happily been a Tour de Fat. And with Palmito and Chino at the helm, a Tour de Cat. And word by word, pushing pebbles to make a mountain, I’ve been writing. And inchingcloseclosecloser to finishing my novel.

Tonight, tango!

 

 

Suddenly, I’m in Brazil.

A few months ago I went to a live jazz night in Hollywood with Beth. Sitting there in the dark brick club, Hollywood hipsters all around, I remembered something: I don’t like jazz. I like the idea of jazz, or rather, the idea that I like jazz, but I just don’t like jazz. I don’t get it. It’s chaotic and I can never find a rhythm and if you can’t shake your noodle to it what’s the point? On that particular night, jazz didn’t stand a chance, because the jumble of notes was like the chaos in my head, a particularly manic breed of discombobulation.

Let me explain.

The months since my 27th birthday have been tumultous. Actually, I wish there was a word like “tumultous” that also meant “emotionally hysteric” and “happycrazysad.” And in times of stress, I clam up. I don’t want to talk. Definitely, I don’t want to b-l-o-g. But, I find that I miss you, I need you as an outlet. So here I am, and I will try to give an account of what has transpired, ending with me writing this from a hotel suite in Brazil.

The bad/sad: My relationship of the last three years ended, a beautiful, deeply supportive relationship that had a lot of love and a lot of respect. It seems a sad, sad fact of life that all good things must end.

The amazing/incredible: Numero uno wonderful event…I have a literary manager and agent! The first major hurdles accomplished! I’d like to write more about how this came to be, but I’m hesitant to let the steam out of the proverbial pot….don’t want to blab too much too early….but point is I’m now writing writing writing to finish my novel and so the agent can get it to publishers and hopefully/finally/fingers crossed–make my mark and make my livelihood.

The other special/happy event I’m also reticent to reveal….a beautiful new relationship with a brilliant man who’s an accomplished director who has brought me to Brazil with him for a month while he’s on a shoot. Also don’t want to talk about it too much too soon, so instead here are a few observations of Brazil: with the upcoming World Cup and Olympic Games you can feel the economy booming….Brazilians have so many different faces, not one specific look or coloring…..the theatrics of a film crew are as entertaining as the actual actors….and something that distinguishes 5-star hotels from the 0-stars I’m used to is this: the towels are much more absorbent.

As for my writing….it’s rather a shit sandwich right now….the tedious revision process where every day is dealing with my bad writing from the past. Dealing with cliches. Sometimes it’s fun. Yesterday the cliche “voice cut me like a knife” became “voice stung me like a thousand inebriated jellyfish.” But in general, revision is facing how much your writing can suck.

And so….there you have it. A blog to get back into the blog. Heading to a small town in northern Brazil for a few beach days, then Buenos Aires, then Uruguay.

Thank you for your time and attention.