Traveling 3,000 miles from Savannah, GA, to Los Angeles, CA, is no easy feat when you have Lupus. In fact, I am sitting in an aisle seat as I write this, thinking I must have lost my damn mind to be flying yet again, when I hadn’t even “healed” from the last trip 2 months before. Hell, I hadn’t even unpacked!
I typically fly out to California every 2 months for a variety of important reasons, from seeing my doctor, to visiting old friends. This trip had me headed me for a doctor visit, and then to Southern California to volunteer as host of a scholarship based Singer/Songwriter bootcamp called ArtistMax.org. which I helped create and schedule alongside my partner Jess. It’s also an excuse to get some “hang” time around some of my favorite places with some of my favorite people.
The day I left for California, it was 5 am and I was flying from one of the smallest airports in the country to one of the largest. I hadn’t even left Savannah yet and I was booking my flights for the next trip. With driving time and layovers, I seemed to manage the impossible every time by making a 12-hour trip to Los Angeles look like 7 and feel like 20. Thank you, time difference. Making a 12-hour trip with layovers feel like a week. While I love to travel, those kinds of quick turn-arounds can be killer on my body and I am finding to be JUST not worth it.
After working for 5 years as the Campus President for music and multi-media colleges, my passion has always been in preparing students, and especially women, for the realities they will face in the music industry. ArtistMax has given me that opportunity to share my knowledge of not only surviving but thriving as a woman in a male-dominated industry. With over 17 years in the music industry I have done it all. From a college Campus President, to a Recording studio manager, to being a singer/songwriter myself, I’ve managed to be every seat around the whole industry table. And not a single one of them has been easy.
The bootcamp itself is fast paced with long hours and grueling work. The girls go from songwriting in a group with greats like 16x Grammy Award winner David Foster and Fleetwood Macs producer, Ken Caillat. That alone would be worth the visit, but along with the other 30 guest speakers at our event, over half are close friends of mine. In truth, going out to the shows are pretty much the only time I get to see those friends. For those that aren’t scheduled for my panels or deeply involved in the industry, I try and spend a little bit of time before and after the event whenever possible. Literally drinking in the memories along the beaten path of what used to be my life in California. From Margarita Wednesday with my old friends at Universal music to attending a cocktail party as VP of Industry relations with LA Women in Music.
There’s something so wonderfully sad and hauntingly beautiful about Hollywood itself. Cities have personalities, a feeling you get when you walk through the streets and that is mine when I walk through Hollywood. It will always remain home to me, even though I float through it as a ghost at times. Our studio was located on Sunset BLVD along a pathway of some of the world’s major recording studios. Places where the World’s Greatest Albums EVER were recorded and made. The Village, East West Studios, Ocean Way, Siren, Record Plant, Capital Studios. Then you have the movie lots, 6 miles and 45 minutes over into the valley.
The event was amazing and more than I could have even hoped for. Stepping outside to catch my breath between panels, I could see the colossal silver giant Emerson college across the street. Truly a work of art and in the beginning stages of being built when I lived in LA last.
Our hotel, The Redbury was located off of Hollywood and Vine. The Capital Records building and the Hollywood sign were both visible from our private balcony. Talk about a classic Hollywood experience! The halls of the places have this glorious smell that they pump through the ventilation and each room has a record player with a stack of 5-6 records. There’s just nothing like drinking Moet and eating strawberries, while people watching the Hollywood club goers from above at 2 am.
I was able to get away twice while I was there to see two of my favorite places in Hollywood/Southern CA. One was a trip from Thousand Oaks to Hollywood, along the infamous PCH. If you’ve never driven that stretch of road, I highly recommend it. I had to stop 3 times just to stare in awe at the powerful waves and the beauty of the Malibu beaches. The second place was driving up Mullholland Dr and through the Hollywood Hills. Some of the most amazing homes are intertwined in those mountains but more spectacular than that, are the views that you can pull over and see just about every ¼ mile. They are breathtaking and reflective of Hollywood itself. Massive sprawling concrete jungle below, with homes barely visible through the tangle of trees and professional landscaping. It’s a place where you can dream for just 5 minutes, that you are the one that owns a home up in those hills.
Going to CA lets me pretend for just a minute, that I am not sick and I have my old life back and all of the pain lupus has caused is eradicated as I walk down Hollywood BLVD with a green juice in hand, reading the names aloud from the brass stars. Having a disability such as Lupus means that when I am tired, I need to rest now. When I need my meds, I need them now. When I am hungry, I need to eat now. There is no compromise, no negotiation of any sort. There is no changing the mind of this army of terrorists that attacks my immune system on a daily basis. Because this army has a mind of its own all together. But just like when I am on the plane, I breathe, meditate, and enjoy the journey.
Southern California has so much to do and will always have a special place in my heart. With everything from writing bootcamps to literally hiking around the Hollywood sign, I have a great time, every time I go to Hollywood. Having Lupus may have slowed me down a bit, but it hasn’t stopped me from being me. And there is still way too much of this world that I have not seen!