After the first course this beautiful woman walked into the room. I say beautiful to describe her essence not conventional good looks, though she is a total babe. I believe an expansive definition of beauty liberates us from what the media tells us is beautiful. Lili, our host for the evening, was robust in her generosity of spirit and it glowed from within her.
It was pretty bananas trying to herd animals with a bunch of people you only just met. Our strategy was to create a semi-circle and move the herd that way. It kind of worked, we were ultimately successful. I only got hit by a ram in my leg a couple of times and only got scratched up by Biblical thorny plants a little bit, but I barely noticed because it was so thrilling to get to hang out with animals.
Being fat on an airplane is a nightmare. There are plenty of places fat people go that remind us that the world is built for people who are small, even though in the US the average size is 14 and considered “fat.” Those tiny airplane seats with the arm rests are awful. The leg room doesn't allow for tall people and the seat belts are not at all consistently sized. I can be on the same airline with two legs to a flight and one flight the seatbelt will fit me fine and on another I’ll need an extender. Same exact body, inconsistent seat belts.
The trip itself was a fifty-person tour group made up mostly of participants, who came from many walks of life. There were way more Christians with no ties to Judaism on the trip than I thought there would be. (I would be considered “strong ties to Judaism” because of my partner and my Grandfather.) Maybe it was roughly third Jewish folks, a third strong ties and a third no ties? The Storytellers were from all types of Storytelling, political speechwriters, broadway performers, actors, social media managers, TV and movie producers, journalists, novelists and more.
Our schedule was packed early morning to late night with activities. Sometimes lectures at the hotel but more often out and about seeing things and hearing about them from our tour guide. We had a panel of journalists, tons of leadership development activities, tours of villages and went all over Israel from the Golan Heights to the Dead Sea, a big ol’ crater in the desert to Jerusalem, Jaffa and Tel Aviv.
I feel like I got a Master’s degree level immersive coursework about Israel, the conflict with the Palestinians, the war in Syria. Old and New Testament Bible stories come to life. Israel was nothing like I expected and the trip completely blew me away, creatively, emotionally, politically, and left me more curious than ever.
My friend recently said to me, “Hey Bevin, I have a lover meeting me in LA for a laycation. Where should we stay?”
I immediately thought of our trip to Ojai and wrote this up for her. Enjoy.
Book a room at the Capri Hotel. OMG the design of the hotel is Mid-Century Modern Barbie Dreamhouse with more masculine style and Ikea stuff. The rock wall on the side of the lobby is a mid-century modern classic detail.
The Capri rules both because it is cute and it’s such a great party room. We got a free upgrade to an upstairs unit with a balcony (worth it, it’s cuter up there). It also has hella cute LED lighting outside on each balcony and on the walls so your whole room can glow pink for ambiance. Perfect for a laycation or just fun selfies. Or both!
Pro-tip: if you know someone going through an intense cross-country move, text them "How can I help?" Pro-tip: if you are going through a cross-country move and someone asks how they can help, take them up on it. I have had to work through some intense "I'm an independent babe, I need to appear perfect" in order to be in a place to receive help. I'm so glad I have done that work because we really needed that help. If I had said, "No, we're okay!" I would have lost out on hanging out with Victoria AND likely devolved into sobbing and fighting with Dara.
When we were driving to Northern CA for my partner to have a work meeting in San Francisco during our post-chemo road trip last Fall, she made the mistake of confusing my hometown of Castro Valley, CA with the famous district of The Castro in San Francisco. The two places are only a 30 minute drive apart, but could not be further from one another in many ways.
I wasn't so excited to show Dara my hometown, but it was very important for me to dispel any confusing thoughts she had about the two places. I share below some of the highlights.
All of the locals we interacted with were fantastic and super weird. Whether weird in appearance or not, upon interacting with them they were definitely not what I would call "normals" and were lively, fun folks.* It was the tourists who had me on guard. (Unbeknownst to us, it was Spring Break.)
That first day we wandered Key West I noticed the tourist crowd, but quickly ignored it to enjoy the beauty of the old wooden houses and taking our wander through the town. It was so lovely.
My second favorite thing we did on our trip to the Florida Keys was curating the sunset. I absolutely love doing this. By curating the sunset I mean, finding out when the sunset is going to start and finish in my vicinity and setting aside the time and effort to go enjoy it. This means not just noticing that the sunset is happening but finding the exact right place to watch it happen.
I call things like sunsets “God TV.” If it’s something naturally occurring that is interesting to watch, I call it “God TV.” I like watching the sky turn all the different colors, notice the changing shadows around me and finding a spot to watch it that affords a lot of great ambiance.
The Keys are ALL ABOUT THIS.
We had such a great time in this magical little cabin! I am glad we stayed somewhere unusual rather than in a motel or resort because I love having an adventure.
It was really a cross between glamping and a hotel room, as it is a room with walls, windows and a comfy queen size bed. But the sink, shower and toilet were all outside.
Key Deer are about the size of a small big dog. Smaller than a Great Dane, taller than a Golden Retriever. But SO cute. The first one I met followed me around the cabin as I took photos. Another one (although hard to tell if they were the same Doe or a different Doe) licked Dara's pajamas.