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.

Anne_Bangkok

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….

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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

The Year In Woods – 2011

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I find every year to be full of so many events, I really need start writing them all down. Some funny, some sad, many shameful but never any regrets. I started off the year strong, my 2011 resolution was to get back into shape after eating and boozing my way through the Big Apple these last few years.

So in January off I went to Park City, Utah with friends for a ski trip. My second run of the second day I skied past the Glory Hole run with my friend Tim, who said he was “gonna hit that.” He made me laugh hard and took off ahead of me. I turned to the right, still laughing, caught an edge and fell hard down the hill. Why I always fall underneath the busiest ski lift I’ll never understand, so I had quite an audience.

As I tumbled, I could feel my left ski turning one way and my left leg turning the other until I heard a loud snap, like the world’s largest rubber band. I was lovingly taken care of by hottie ski patrolmen–one was named Tinker, no really. In the end I tore my ACL completely but the experience led me to discover my new favorite drink, the pickle back.  We went to the Sundance Lodge, I had to hobble in my crutches and knee brace. Tim ordered us a round of pickle backs – a shot of Jameson followed by a shot of pickle juice. Initially disgusted, I was quickly proven wrong. Tell me what you think. Continue reading

Text In The City

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Last winter I joined the ranks of countless skiers when I tore my left ACL on the slopes of Park City, Utah. Two months later I had ACL replacement surgery where I received a cadaver ligament and 3 screws in my left knee, followed by four and a half months of  extremely intensive physical (and arguably psycho-) therapy.

I waited in the physical therapy waiting room until a man looking twenty-five with a slight build, brown eyes and hair, and the chunky black leather old-man therapeutic shoes worn by all non-doctor health care workers arrived with my chart. “Hi I’m Ned, follow me please,” he said. I crutched it over to a table, where he took off my brace and examined my knee. My leg was hairy, black and blue, and covered in surgical tape to prevent the stitches from opening. A sharp pain shot through my leg. “Ouch, that’s tight.”
“I know it is. I’m stretching it,” he said. “I’m aggressive, so this may hurt.” I took a closer look at him. “Do you ever get Jimmy Fallon?”
“Yeah, I’ve gotten that a few times,” he said sheepishly.

Normally I make a great first impression and people naturally open up to me, but Ned – generic, gray-sweatered, aggressive, yet listless – wasn’t having it. I thought about switching therapists but figured it would look too suspicious.

He explained the whole physical therapy process, guided me through some BOSU ball balancing exercises, and then I was done. I would have physical therapy three times a week for the next two months. As I was leaving, another patient said goodbye to him and called him Nenad.

“Nenad, that’s your name?”
“Yes it is.”
“I’ve been calling you Ned this whole time.”
“Yes, you have.”
“How embarrassing. What type of name is Nenad?”
“I’m Bosnian.”

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How I Helped The LAPD And Sheriffs Capture a Crips Gang Member

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Last week I went home to my precious motherland of Los Angeles to visit family, friends and pops in prison. I was looking forward to palm trees, beautiful weather, driving and my staple Chin Chin Chinese chicken salad. I arrived Wednesday evening and on Thursday spent a day of relaxation at my new-found gem Korean spa. I partook in an hour-long body scrub, a milk massage and dipped into the hot, medium and cold jacuzzis – refreshing. The next day I continued my spa week by getting a facial. My facial went longer than expected and I had a meeting at 3pm. I looked at the clock and decided I could either squeeze in a quickie mani-pedi or get my favorite Chinese chicken salad and Chin Chin’s on Sunset. 20 years ago, I used to work at Playboy on Sunset Boulevard. It was my first job after college. I used to eat that damn Chinese chicken salad about three times a week and I still craved it after all these years.

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Shakespeare, Strip Clubs and Sex

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The first time I went to a strip club I was eight. Dad started managing it the year before and took my sister and me for a day of babysitting.  We walked into a cold dark bar, like a movie theatre during the day. It smelled like Windex and stale smoke. He let us dance on the dance floor to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack with the disco lights on, but once the club opened we were shuffled upstairs to the manager’s office. We caught a glimpse of the naked women dancing on stage, holding the pole and swinging around.  Dad called them girls.  They were adult women to me and had beautiful bodies, all different shapes. I was excited and wanted to see more.  I was ashamed yet aroused.  My sister and I watched the surveillance videos even though we were told not to.  I saw men sitting down around the stage, tucking dollar bills into the dancers’ costumes.  The dancers opened their legs wide, swinging their stilettos in the air. I tried to look away but couldn’t. They seemed so happy. Continue reading

Why I Hate Brunch

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When I was a child, after Sunday church my parents would take my sister and me to IHOP, dressed in our Sunday best. I was so excited, it made church worth going to. The thought of having dessert for breakfast was fabulous and I couldn’t believe that my parents actually let us get away with it. But every time we went to IHOP I ordered the same thing, waffles with strawberries and Cool Whip on top. I mostly ate the strawberries and cool whip and left the rest on the plate. Pretty soon my parents picked up on it and said if I didn’t eat the waffle part, they wouldn’t let me order it again.

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My Recording Session for KCRW’s Radio Show UnFictional

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Thanks both to Gemma Dempsey and Bob Carlson, I was featured on Bob’s radio show UnFictional yesterday, airing Tuesdays at 2:30pm pst and Fridays at 7:30pm pst on KCRW.com/ 89.9FM in Los Angeles. It was an awesome piece and the folks at KCRW are just fantastic. I got teary-eyed listening to myself talk about my story.

You can listen to it here:

KCRW Unfictional – Welcome To The Metal

Father Figure

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Seeing my dad in prison is like seeing a different person. My once powerful father that I looked up to for everything, now dressed in double denim, sometimes shackled and occasionally strip searched. Our visits and phone calls center around his case, the trial, the appeal. Our last family photo of him in his own clothing was taken in early 2000. He has aged significantly since then; we all have. Where there was once a family unit, there’s now four disparate individuals related by blood. I feel like an adult orphan and I blame my father for this. He knows I’m angry with him–for my family’s tenuous situation, his selfishness, and the countless hours spent in jail and prison–but he dismisses my feelings, calling them, in his words, “bitterness.”

However, having now lived through his eleventh year of incarceration, I realize the importance of remembering and preserving the good times and memories I have with my father before his arrest. Amid the feelings of loss and a lack of control over my life, I do still have a father, and the fact that he’s serving a life sentence doesn’t alter that truth. When I see him now, it’s like seeing a shell of his former self with a new personality; as if he was body snatched and replaced with a clone. In these times of frustration, there’s an ever-present yearning to escape–through travel, through isolation, or by acting on self-destructive impulses. So as a means of self-preservation, it’s essential to occasionally honor and give life to the brighter childhood memories, and remind myself that I’m a daughter, a daughter with a father who loves me.

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I Don’t Have Ebola, I’m Just Single

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Twenty years ago Natalie, a close friend growing up, got married one month after college graduation.  At the bridal shower, her mom said, “One day soon, Laurel, we’ll be throwing one of these for you!”  It feels like this happened only yesterday, and it could have.

I spent my twenties working, partying, and sowing wild oats, my thirties were about achievement, self-actualization and coming into my own.

Friends got engaged or married along the way, but I always maintained a fairly large circle of single friends. We had each other and nothing about our lives seemed out of the ordinary.

But still, even in this day and post-feminist age, lurking when I least expect, someone will come out with, “You can only wait so long, Laurel, before you’ll need to settle down, get married and have kids.”

My mom has an entire drawer full of baby clothes for my unborn baby, but I’ve never once been pregnant. Whenever a girlfriend of mine has a baby, mom pulls out a baby outfit with the tags still on, and says, “This was supposed to be for my grandchild.”

Dad calls from prison and tells me, “You really need to think about settling down.”

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