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Maybe We’re Crazy…

Image result for Gnarls barkley Crazy

My Tribute To Gnarles Barkley’s “Crazy” (as it pertains to my journey).

I remember the first time I went to Venice Beach after moving to Los Angeles. At that point, I didn’t know anyone in town, and I was more or less a loner. But this was Los Angeles, pre Covid-19. Anything that I could possibly imagine to do could be done in “The City of Angels“.

Whenever I’d visit Los Angeles, prior to moving here, Venice Beach was always my favorite place . So on this particular day, I decided to go to the beach by myself and spend the day there.

My Lyft dropped me off on Rose Street in Venice. The first thing I saw was the Pacific Ocean. In my opinion, the Pacific Ocean is the most soothing body of water on the planet. Even with all of the beautiful craziness that is found on the boardwalk, Venice Beach is the most beautiful place in the world, to me.

Image result for nathan pino
Nathan Pino

Before visiting the water, I walked along the boardwalk looking for nothing in particular. I saw people on roller skates, bicycles — even one guy on a unicycle! People in costumes (or maybe not costumes), musicians (like Nathan Pino — the Venice Piano Man), artists, poets — it was like a 24-7 carnival. There were people who lived in tents who made their living by selling their artwork, sculptures, jewelry, oils — many things. And each had at least a short line of people who were interested in their work — whether they’d buy anything or not — people were interested. I saw restaurants, boutiques, and marijuana dispensaries. But mostly, I saw smiling faces. Everyone there was happy. They seemed to have that one measure of happiness that most of us either take for granted, or simply don’t count as happiness. It was very pure. I appreciate that about Venice Beach to this day.

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Venice Beach is an entire vibe of its own. I call it the “Hippie Haven”. The people of the beach don’t care about fashion or style. It’s the most “come as you are” place in the world (sans Amsterdam… perhaps…). There is no judgement.

During this visit, I spent hours window shopping while walking up and down the boardwalk and talking with some of the vendors. Now and then, I’d look to my right to see the ocean. The sky, the water and the sun would meet and create the most beautiful shade of blue that I had ever seen. EUPHORIC! I didn’t need anyone to be there with me. In fact, a guest would have only served to be a distraction. I had arrived! I had found my bohemian paradise. To me, these were the “beautiful people”.

I took a seat on a bench and “people watched” for a while. Before long, my mind had wandered to some of the negative feedback that I had gotten about my seemingly impromptu move across the country all by myself. Maybe the term “negative feedback” is a bit extreme for some of the things that were said both to, and about me. I believe, or perhaps would like to believe that some things were said by people who were genuinely concerned for my well being in a place where I’d essentially be all alone. After all, Los Angeles is a big city whose reputation proceeds it. It can be a very dangerous place, and I am a person from a very small town. This was a very big step to take alone. As far those whose concern was authentic and came from a place of love, I am grateful. However, there were also those whose words did not come from a place of love, but rather, a place of condescension. Those people either doubted me completely, or halfway wanted me to fail. This would only fuel my ambition and motivate me to make this move work by any means necessary.

While sitting on that bench on the boardwalk, I decided that the way I felt right then/ right there would always be all the motivation that I would ever need. And anytime that I would doubt my ability to make life in Los Angeles work, I would remember that day, that moment, and that feeling.

Image result for venice beach It's sugar
It’s Sugar, Venice Beach

Eventually, I got up from the bench and continued to walk the boardwalk. I’d soon approach this big loud store on Ocean Front Walk called “It’s Sugar“. “It’s Sugar” is a candy store. I don’t eat candy so I hadn’t planned on going into the store. But from looking through the window, it’s doubtful that there’s any candy in the world that “It’s Sugar” does not carry. Even though I don’t eat candy, I thought it was a pretty cool store.

The best thing (to me) about this store is that there’s always loud music blasting from it. I can’t remember what was playing as I approached the store and gazed through the window. But I remember that I as started to walk past the store, “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley began to play — and I stood there frozen. I had heard this song hundreds of times, and I’ve always loved it. However, I think that was the first time I had ever really LISTENED to the song. I didn’t move a muscle until the song ended. I spent the rest of my beach visit replaying the song in my head, partially in a daze.

Image result for venice beach muscle beach

Finally, I had made it past Muscle Beach (of course, I had to walk past Muscle Beach) and found a place by the water. I sat in the damp sand, close enough to get my feet wet. I pulled my phone out, opened Apple Music, put my earbuds in, and played Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”. I read the lyrics as I listened to the song, and I felt myself smiling. As the song played, my smile grew. CONFIRMATION! CeeLo Green was talking to me. He was telling me about myself, as well as those who were against me. He was arming me with my truth, and giving a testimony of my own bravery. He sang a high five, a fist bump, and a “right on” to me. CeeLo had explained me to myself better than anyone else ever had — therapists, family, friends, or even myself. He described some of the people in my life as though he had known them.

This was indeed a moment of clarity for me. Etymologizing this song empowered me.

My Interpretation of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”, As It Pertains To My Move To Los Angeles

Verse 1:

I remember when
I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that place
Even your emotions have an echo in so much space
And when you’re out there without care
Yeah, I was out of touch
But it wasn’t because I didn’t know enough
I just knew too much

Does that make me crazy
Does that make me crazy
Does that make me crazy

One day in June of 2019, I purchased a oneway plane ticket from Nashville, Tennessee (BNA) to Los Angeles, California (LAX). I had been planning on making this move at some point in 2019 for several months. However, I had not set an affirmative date. I didn’t have much money — definitely not enough to move to one of the most expensive cities in the country. But I did have enough to purchase a plane ticket. I didn’t insure the ticket, and by not doing that, I ensured that I was really going to do this. This was my insurance that I would follow my dream of living on the West Coast.

I had been living in middle Tennessee for almost ten years, and I never liked living there. Even though I had most of the things that is necessary to provide a comfortable life for my family and myself. I had a nice apartment, a relatively good job with options for upward mobility, a decent vehicle — it was certainly a comfortable life as far things appearing to be the way they’re supposed to be. Anyone who’d look at my situation would have assumed that things were “alright”, and they were. But for me personally, it wasn’t enough. I was unhappy. It was never that I couldn’t force myself to fit into the conformity of The South, and make that life work for me. It was that I knew better. Even when I’d try to convince myself otherwise, something inside of me kept telling me that I’d never be happy in Tennessee. So I left… with pretty much nothing. Thus far, I don’t regret it.

Q: Does leaving everything that I worked to acquire, as well as the people that I love the most, and starting over in a place where it would be extremely difficult to reacquire that which I had left behind, simply because I believed that I would be happier make me crazy?

A: Possibly…

Image result for venice beach roller skaters

Verse 2:

And I hope that you are having the time of your life
But think twice, that’s my only advice
Come on now, who do you, who do you, who do you
Who do you think you are
Ha ha ha, bless your soul
You really think you’re in control

I think you’re crazy
I think you’re crazy
I think you’re crazy
Just like me

Many people couldn’t fathom how I could make a knee jerk decision and throw caution to the wind, and move across the country without a real plan. They couldn’t understand why I didn’t at least try to transfer my job. When I’ d say that I didn’t want to go to California with Tennessee dirt on my shoes, those people couldn’t understand that it really meant that I wanted a completely fresh start. This move was a hard reset for me. It was imperative that I did not bring anything to Los Angeles that made me unhappy in Tennessee. I knew it would be difficult, but I felt that it would be worth any of the obstacles that could present themselves.

Plenty of people expected me to fall on my face and come running back to Tennessee. Most likely, those are the same people who suggested that I wait until I had more [money] to work with, or at least able to secure better accommodations. I’m not saying that those are bad suggestions. In fact, it made sense to me then as well as now. However, I knew that if I had waited, I would never have made the trek.

While I definitely understand and respect the idea of being “safe”, having life’s essentials, and working to support that measure of comfort, it’s very easy to become complacent in that role. And before you know it, wanting more, or following a dream — even a perhaps foolish dream, takes a backseat to reality; eventually becoming a dream deferred. I didn’t want that for myself. I knew better. I felt that my personal happiness was worth taking a chance on failure.

Inside of the shell of “doing what we have to do” to support the life that we have (not necessarily want), we are not in control of our lives — we’re actually BEING controlled. Albeit, I’ve chosen the path with the most obstacles, I’ve been holding the reins for the entire ride.

Maybe it really is crazy to make a giant leap without really knowing what I’d land in. But so is settling and never giving that which your heart truly desires a chance. If that’s you, then you’re crazy… just like me.

Verse 3:

My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on the limb
And all I remember is thinking I want to be like them
Ever since I was little
Ever since I was little it looked like fun
And it’s no coincidence I’ve come
And I can die when I’m done

I’ve always looked up to people who walk against traffic. I’ve been called “weirdo”, “strange”, “off”, “nerd”, and the like for as long as I can remember. I’m not offended by it because it takes an amazing amount of bravery to be any of those things. It takes virtually no bravery to fit in with society.. So, people like: Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Assata Shakur, Prince, James Brown, Erykah Badu, Betty Davis, & Amy Winehouse have always been my heroes. They accomplished their goals by creating molds rather than putting energy into fitting into molds. They’d rather fail — or even die — than conform to that which they did/do not believe in. Even at the risk of being criticized, ostracized, ignored, or assassinated.

As I discussed in “Feeling Good About You“, I went through a phase where I thought I needed to fit in. That phase was nearly detrimental. Having heroes who were trendsetters (so to speak) rather than followers of trends have had a tremendous impact on me.

The idea of risking everything to achieve this goal was damn near erotic to me — and it still is. When I’m taking a run and I see the “Hollywood Sign“, or when I run through a row of palm trees, when I go to the beach to digress, or see an amazing sunset, I feel great! I feel liberated. The risk was worth the reward.

Image result for hollywood sign

I didn’t come to Los Angeles with dreams of stardom. I came to LA as a 44 year old grandmother with the heart of a high school senior. I had no idea of what would be next for me here. I only knew that I wanted to be like my heroes. I knew that I wanted to be someone else’s hero. I wanted to be that person of reference when the next person decides to become “crazy” enough to follow their heart and do that one thing that they thought was a pipe dream.

Everyone has a childhood dream, and most people never realize said dream. I remember sitting at Mama Doll and Granddaddy’s (my paternal grandparents) kitchen table, eating oatmeal and watching “The Price Is Right” . During the station break, the announcer , Rod Roddy, would extend an invitation for viewers to come to Los Angeles and see the show, or become a contestant. Whenever he’d state the address, I’d say to myself, “I’m gonna live there one day” (side note: I live about two miles from where the show was shot, at Fairfax and Beverly! I jog past CBS studio often). It took me somewhere within the realm of 40 years, but I live here. And I’ve never been happier!

It’s not a coincidence, it’s a manifestation. Regardless of what happens thus and forward — even if I’ve “lost my life out on a limb”, I took a chance. I accomplished a goal, and no one can ever take that away. Most importantly, I’m pleased with myself. I’m having a ball! And if I were to die during this journey, I’d find solace in knowing that I was “crazy” enough to accomplish what most are too afraid, or close minded to even try. My life would be a testimony — not a dream deferred, or a cautionary tale. I could certainly rest in peace.

In Conclusion…

Your dream might differ from mine. Maybe it’s more strenuous, maybe it’s less strenuous. Whatever it is, don’t give up on it!

Before I purchased that oneway ticket to Los Angeles, I had a conversation with an elderly woman. I’ll never forget the last thing that she said to me:

“You don’t want to be on your deathbed thinking about all of the things that you wanted to do but didn’t. Because by then, it’s too late”.

That sentence prompted me to take action.

But maybe I’m crazy
Maybe you’re crazy
Maybe we’re crazy

A dream deferred is a dream denied.”
~Langston Hughes

4 thoughts on “Maybe We’re Crazy…

  1. I’m so glad you are back posting your writing. I enjoy reading what’s in your mind and thoughts. When I was reading I felted like I was walking on the Broad walk. Thanks for sharing. Be blessed..

    Liked by 1 person

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