The Year In Woods – 2013

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Happy New Year good friends near and far! Reflecting on this past year has been quite difficult, actually I’d say the second hardest year of my life next to Dad’s murder arrest. I have shed more tears and felt such loss, but as they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. So here I am to prove it. But I have to ask, who the fuck are these THEY people?

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January I hit the ground running as Mom’s breast cancer was a bit more serious than originally expected. At first her treatment post-surgery was radiation. I like to call this “cancer-lite.” But then her doctor prescribed 4 rounds of chemo and that’s when it got real. City of Hope is the best hospital ever and she got rockstar treatment. Now cancer-free 6 months, cheers to that!

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In February I flew to Los Angeles to help Mom with her chemo treatment. As I landed at LAX on February 11th, I got that phone call where you’re asked if you’re sitting down. My best friend BFF Anne Hurley suffered an aneurysm and was in the hospital already brain dead, being kept alive on life support. It is still shocking to even write this. The amount of sadness I experienced from this loss has been at times unbearable and I’m just now coming to peace with not having her in my life everyday. Anne and I always said if we were gay we’d get married. I’ve been in love before but so far nothing’s worked out. I can safely say that Anne Hurley has been the (hetero) love of my life. My heart is broken but I was lucky to have you, pumpkin.

Tunisia

March not surprisingly, was not a very good month for me. THEY say that grief attacks the lungs and once again, THEY are right. I got pneumonia, then bronchitis. I tried coming into work and was sent home immediately after coughing up a lung on my boss. Oopsy.

shellhammerweddingI was able to end the month on a high note as I went to the most lavish gay wedding ever for my friend Bradford Shellhammer and his partner Georgi at the Russian Tea Room in NYC, with Sandra Bernhard as the officiator. It was a black and white masquerade ball a la Truman Capote’s masquerade ball in the 60’s. People watching mecca.

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Then April came as I finished 3 rounds of antibiotics for pneumonia and the cherry blossoms bloomed. I realized how each friendship is a gift and I gave serious thought to who my close friends were vs. the acquaintances I felt obligated to get together with. You know what I mean. I love my friend Ferris (upper left) he is an Aussie doll, he always checks up on me. I came back out to Los Angeles to take Mom to her last chemo appointment where she received a medal, and to visit Dad at his new prison in Chino. I also popped into Westlake High School quickly, my alma mater, and gave an impromptu talk at my dear friend Christina’s poly-sci class on the meaning of life and happiness after graduation. I was a huge hit! Strip clubs was the big topic of course.

MayAnne’s parents organized a memorial for her in May at her Lutheran Church in Thousand Oaks. Lots of friends and family that couldn’t make her funeral came out for this and it was a great celebration. We started by drinking airline bottles of alcohol in the church parking lot. Then onto the amazing Mark Anderson’s house where he served lots of barbecue and red wine. We all told stories and reminisced. Christina drove me home later that night where I puked up purple barbecue into Mom’s bath tub. Anne would be so proud. I also took Mom to her radiation appointment. Oh and went to prison too.

ViequesIn June my friend Jill and I decided to hit Vieques Puerto Rico. I met Jill 20 years ago when she and Anne lived together in Sausalito. Jill’s another American Airlines flight attendant and I realized I needed to be around people that knew Anne. We had such a great time just cruising the island and hanging out. It was my first month of 2013 without a hospital, prison or funeral involved. Jill is so positive and inspiring and I felt great being in her company. And now I have a new travel buddy!

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In July I had my third foot surgery, THIRD! And my fourth time on crutches in NYC. I don’t know how I was so blessed with fucked up feet. But can I just tell you how awful foot surgery is? Imagine not being able to leave your apartment for a whole month, hobbling around. Oh did I happen to mention I had also fallen over a trash can in Wales, Great Britain 2 weeks prior and fractured my right wrist and elbow? So crutches were an extra chore this time around.

auntmarthaAugust was a month of being a post-foot surgery prisoner to my apartment. You think you’ll do all these things and be so productive with the time off. Instead I cried, felt incredibly lonely and sorry for myself. A huge thanks to everyone who stopped by with goodies to make me feel better, especially Anne’s Aunt Martha who made me both Star Wars pancakes and cupcakes! Woo hoo!

I also contracted a severe bacterial infection from the hospital so was in extraordinary pain. My only saving grace? Binge watching Sopranos. I took notes, LOTS of notes.

SeptemberSeptember is always a big month as I turn another year older, 45 this year WTF?? I get very introspective this month each year, especially now that Anne’s gone, and I see even more clearly the need to make every day, every effort, every relationship count. Oh and every pickle back YO!

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By October I had finally been cleared by my doctor to fly so off I went to visit Anne’s husband Jim and her son Connor in NoCal. The thing about your BFF’s spouse is that he knows everything about you, NO I MEAN EVERYTHING. It was kind of refreshing because I now know I can call Jim up with all my cray cray stories because he already knows the history! Connor was proudly showing me his Legos and hamming it up for the camera. He is truly his mother’s son and I can’t wait to take him on his first adventure trip, and share stories about his mom. I’ll keep it clean SWEARIES!

ladies

 I had been planning my trip to Madagascar in November for about a year and a half. I always look forward to trips like this to developing countries. It is such a humbling experience and beautiful at the same time. The way people are able to live still so simply in life. 40% of Madagascar people don’t have running water or electricity. My travel companions are the best and I learn so much from them. Coming back to NYC, the land of over-indulgence, is such a shock. A visit to Starbucks and watching people have their half-cap foam meltdowns takes the cake.

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December is welcoming change. Thanks to the help of my life coach and dear friend Keisha, I quit my job and boarded my cats. I’m taking a break from my rockstar lifestyle in NYC to find my roots once again in California. I want to get back to the simplicity of life – family, friends, nature, laughter. I want to be bored. I’m taking a walk on the beach today and then who knows? I just wish Anne was here with me to share this day.

I hope you all enjoyed this, and I hope you all take some time out of your busy lives, to stop and breath, and realize what a gift life is. Happy New Year everyone!

Et Voila Madagascar!

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Madagascar_baobabs

I recently came back from traveling through Madagascar. It is an amazing country with an amazing history. Some tidbits:

  • Madagascar is the 4th largest island in the world, and separated from the African continent about 135 million years ago
  • Over 40% of the population does not have running water or electricity, and 69% of the population lives below the national poverty level of 1 dollar a day
  • Once colonized by the French, there is still a huge French influence there and most of the population speaks both Malagasy and French, c’est super, non?
  • They have 103 species of lemurs and are home to over two-thirds of the world’s chameleon species, I mean if you can find them! And 6 of the 8 world baobab species are there too

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Citroens are their taxi vehicle of choice! Et voila!

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The Shame Shack

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In May 1999 I took part in a volunteer mission with a non-profit organization called Airline Ambassadors. My BFF Anne was a flight attendant for American Airlines. She signed us up with three other friends, making up a total group of 26 flight attendants and friends to trek through the Himalayan region of Nepal, delivering medical and school supplies to orphanages. Being an over-preparer for trips, I went trail running twice daily to ensure that I was in the best shape possible. I also bought extensive camping supplies, including iodine tablets for water, to prevent any type of water-born illnesses.

I’d be damned if I was going to get sick on this trek. Anne and I put the iodine tablets in our Nalgene bottles daily, making sure to only use that special water to drink and brush our teeth with. The porters even assured us that all the water they cooked with was boiled for purification, guaranteeing us further safety. But what we did notice, was that the porters washed our dishes in stream water, which was not filtered. Continue reading

The Side Effects of Binge-Watching TV Shows

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battlestar-galactica

I didn’t even know binge-watching was a term. I thought I was just blazing the trail by being super productive and watching entire seasons of a popular show on Netflix in a few sittings. I kept thinking about those poor saps who watched one episode a week with commercials, then left with a cliffhanger.

My first victim was Battlestar Galactica. My good friend Ferris told me for two years how great this show was but I didn’t believe him. Out of sheer boredom I gave it a shot and boy was I hooked. I was staying up until 3am during the week, watching five episodes a night, with red wine of course. But the next night I always had to rewatch the last episode because I’d fallen asleep. I heard cylons flying above my apartment at night. I downloaded the BSG soundtrack for my gym playlist. I used the word frakking. I wanted to be buff like the rest of the fleet. I wanted to wear dark khakis, be Starbuck’s bff and save the universe together. Continue reading

How I Acquired Carrie Fisher’s Pillowcase

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Wrote this story in 2010, and now that my BFF has passed away, the truth can come out…

bffflightattendantA long long time ago…well actually a little over three years ago, I’m minding my own business at home, folding my newly laundered Star Wars sheets when my cell phone rings. It’s my BFF! (Can be seen in above photo on the left…)

“Hey how’s it going?” I ask. I always pick up when it’s her. Let’s just call her Ham (Her initials mixed up) so I don’t accidentally implicate her in this story.

Oh you’ll see. Continue reading

Saying Goodbye To My Best Friend – Anne Hurley Obot

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Last Wednesday February thirteenth, my very best friend in the world, my BFF, my Anne, suffered an aneurysm and died. She left behind a loving husband, a precious three year old son, an incredibly loving family of Hurleys, and a slew of amazing friends from around the globe. I’ve known Anne for thirty years since we were classmates at Westlake High School. We used to say we were hetero life partners and even had to convince our neighbors when we lived together that we weren’t gay. We loved each other that much. She was beautiful, she was a ham. She stole Carrie Fisher’s pillow case on a flight and gave it to me for my birthday.

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We hiked Half Dome in Yosemite on our birthdays one September. We stayed up a bit late the night before polishing off some serious wine, and celebrated afterwards with more wine, and pizza.

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The Year In Woods – 2012

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Happy New Year everyone! I selfishly had so much fun writing last year’s Woodsy recap that I thought I’d sit down, have a tasty beverage,  and reflect on all the events that took place, or I took place in, “wink wink” this last year. I also welcome the challenge of only being able to pick a few select nuggets out of all that excitement! And away we go….

Instragram

So in January, I rediscovered Instagram. I signed up for it when it first launched a couple of years ago and just didn’t get it. Facebook, Hipstamatic, Tumblr, Flickr – it’s all too much!! But I decided to give IG another chance and was instantly hooked! I felt like an amateur photographer – I looked at everything around me differently, imagining different filters, angles, and wondered “Is this IG worthy?” I spent this year capturing moments, places, people, thoughts. I followed friends and others who’s lives I admired, dogs I adored, cars I coveted. My friends became annoyed with me constantly on my iphone like a teenager. Instagram is like a window into your world that you’re willing to share with others. I think it can be amazing. Facebook for me became a thing of the past until they bought Instagram – that was a bummer #bigtime. Continue reading