wild and wacky weather
the night before, i had spent a rockingly sweaty evening at exhale in venice with shiva rea and c.c. white. not in a yoga class, mind you, but in what was dubbed a soul kirtan birthday experience. and what an experience it was, with the packed room chanting and celebrating shiva rea's birthday! c.c. was joined on stage by some of the most amazing kirtan musicians in town -- matt pszonak, cooper madison, richard hardy, bob wisdom, arjuna o'neal, denise kaufman, with sirgun kaur, terra gold, and melanie hersch on vocals -- and, of course, the birthday celebrant herself.
in her own unique gospel way, c.c. chanted the names of the deities -- and even convinced shiva to sing along with her! it was such a lovefest in the room with everyone singing and dancing that even passersby had to stop and peer in the steamed-up windows to see what was going on! we could have gone on all night, if it weren't for the 10pm curfew mandated by the tenants who live upstairs :(
by the time i left exhale, the westside was in the midst of another cold and windy rainstorm. it continued to rain all throughout the night, and all i wanted to do was sleep in and stay wrapped up in warm blankets. but when the sun finally came out later that morning, i knew it was time for me to get out of bed and figure out how to salvage the rest of my day.
as usual, i ended up with a to-do list that could only be achieved through the use of a time machine:
1:30pm - a bike maintenance workshop taught by bikerowave at the santa monica museum of art
5:00pm - a gentle yoga class taught by jenn lucene at the jade apple in north hollywood
7:30pm - a birthday kirtan with daniel stewart and friends at yoga blend in burbank
8:30pm - a CD release party with ena vie at bhakti yoga shala in santa monica
of course, the hardest part was trying to be in burbank AND santa monica at around the same time to catch both kirtans... especially since they're around 25 miles apart!
i left home on my bike for a quick ride to bergamot station for the bike workshop. the sun was out and the roads were dry. the workshop was more of a demonstration session; we were shown how to fix a flat, lube a chain, and do minor brake adjustment. it wasn't anything that i hadn't learned before, and turned out to be a good refresher course. plus a good reason to schmooze with bikey people from bikerowave, C.I.C.L.E., and SMMOA.
once back home to trade in my two-wheeler bike for my four-wheeler car, i did a quick facebook check and found out that the lululemon store in pasadena was going to have a new yoga studio launch party that afternoon, too. another thing to add to my to-do list for the day? perhaps... i was going to be in nearby burbank anyway...
so instead of taking the shorter route through the valley to burbank, i decided to re-route myself through downtown towards pasadena. besides, with rumors that a possible cold front could dust the top of the HOLLYWOOD sign with snow, there was that chance of a rare sighting off the santa monica freeway. but while there ended up being no sign at all of any of the white stuff on the hollywood hills, i was still treated to a glorious view -- clear blue skies, puffy white clouds, lots of snow on the top of the san gabriel mountains, and a freshly-scrubbed downtown skyline.
everyone else must've decided to go for a ride that saturday afternoon because i managed to get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic as i approached the downtown freeway interchange. i checked the clock. i had lost so much time barely moving that i had to scratch the pasadena stop just to make it to class on time. darn. so i transitioned to the golden state freeway and headed towards north hollywood.
by then, the clouds had turned dark and ominous. as i continued to travel north, it got darker and darker. as i veered west on the ventura freeway, it started to rain. and since i couldn't quite remember which exit to take, i exited at buena vista. and right after i did, the rain had turned into tiny ice pellets.
as i sat through a red light at the corner of buena vista and magnolia, the ice pellets started coming down in earnest. the ground had turned white, i had a layer of white slushy stuff on my windshield wipers, and my tires were losing traction. oh my god. it was snowing in burbank!
fearing that this was an accident waiting to happen (after all, how often do LA motorists have to drive in snow?), i immediately turned onto a side street and pulled over. by then, people had come running out with umbrellas to check out what was going on. while they romped around in the streets and on their front lawns, i took handfuls of the slushy stuff that had accumulated on my windshield and had more than enough to make a mini-snowman on the hood of my car. so maybe i missed out on the lulu party, but this was way more fun!
after the squall passed and the sun came back out, i waited for the snow to melt before continuing on to my yoga class a mere mile away in north hollywood. needless to say, since i had arrived half an hour after the class started, it was too late for me to join in. so i ended up driving to porto's in burbank to while away the time. a warm cuban potato sandwich, a guava turnover, and an iced coffee turned out to be even better than any yoga class could ever be (wait, did i just say that?!??!).
strangely enough, there were still icy piles of slush along magnolia boulevard as i made my way to yoga blend for my first of two kirtans for the evening. by then, the sun had set and temperatures started to drop. there were still patches of white on the grass and on ground in the blend's parking lot. i had to keep reminding myself that i was down in the VALLEY, not up in the mountains!
i arrived at yoga blend just as daniel stewart and his band were going through their sound check. by now, everyone was a familiar face to me; besides daniel on harmonium, there was greg klimuck on drums, greg critchley on cajon, cooper madison on tabla, deepak ramapriyan on violin, john tague on bass, jeff harris on guitar, and emily kerns, arielle silver, and shannon baker on vocals.
while daniel and his friends usually perform at their home base at rising lotus yoga in sherman oaks, they were at the blend to help christy and jason marsden celebrate the sixth anniversary of their yoga studio... and the first birthday of their son, clark.
and when the doors opened to the crowd gathered outside, a flood of kirtan enthusiasts streamed in to fill the room... some were regulars from the blend, some from the lotus, and others, like me, had traveled long distances to share in the bhakti bliss.
from the opening 'hare krishna' to the closing 'hare krishna' (is there such a thing as chanting the the maha mantra one too many times? i think not!), daniel and his crew kept the room on its feet! i recorded a small snippet of a chant to sita and ram... click here to experience the energy that rocked the blend that night!
knowing that i still had another kirtan to catch back in santa monica, i made a quick getaway as soon as the band finished its last song... and had to drive through the slush that was still on the ground almost five hours later!
on the other hand, by the time i reached the westside half an hour later, the ground was perfectly dry. i parked my car and ran to bhakti yoga shala to catch what i could of ena vie's new album, "heart of devotion". and as i walked into the room, i managed to catch ena say "... for our last song, i'd like to sing...". since most concerts tend to start and end late at bhakti, i had hoped that this would be no different. but it was not to be that night.
so i sang along with ena and her band and as she led us through "twa meva", an offering to the divine mother. after my wild and wacky day, it seemed like the perfect lullaby to send me gently into the night...