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Life Love Friendship and Death

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Happy Birthday sweet friend. Keri would of been 41 today. I am sure she is dancing with David Bowie teaching him how to hula hoop.

This is one of my favorite photos of Keri and I taken by my friend Scott Witter on her birthday in 2012 as part of his portrait series on fans of the band The Cure. Although Keri and I had grown up going to the same Catholic grade school she was a year older then me and we never had the chance to connect until I was put in an 11th grade history class in my 10th grade year. So, I took my history backwards. No one seemed to care. I think it was all part of a bigger plan. One day we had to draw papers to write, out of a hat, and I happen to get the coolest one. The Punk Rock Phenomenon. A few of my other classmates were very envious, including Keri, and it was that day that we discovered that we both loved The Cure and we have been besties ever since.

I moved to CA in 1999 and Keri moved out here a few years after me. At age 30 she developed breast cancer and had a double mastectomy as well as chemo. That was really hard on her as well as getting implants but she beat it and came out a stronger person. 5 years later she got lymph cancer, had some removed, and later found out she had bone cancer. She refused to do radiation or chemo again and instead treated it with juicing, eating organic and doing all sorts of natural cleansing of her system which I believe kept her alive a lot longer. Through all of this I saw the beauty and strength of my friend and I supported all of her decisions.

Over the last couple of years Keri’s health began to slowly decline and she was in pain a lot. She got Hospice care and my husband and I stepped in to help her more and more. Her friend Ron started coming down from Seattle for weeks at a time to help out and keep her company as well. All along I assured her that if anything were to happen that I would find good homes for her cats and things but I had never thought of what that would actually be like.

Keri was such a strong person and such a fighter that even as she began to lose more and more weight and sleep a lot more I wasn’t expecting her to pass when she did. We were planning Xmas Eve dinner for her, Ron and my in-laws and she was really looking forward to it. The Sunday before Xmas she took a turn for the worse and by Monday night she was on oxygen and pretty much unconscious. Ron came down and we were all by her side all week. She hung on until Xmas Eve morning and passed around 8:45am. When she took her last breath I heard a bunch of birds begin to chirp outside of her apartment which I had never heard before. It was beautiful and comforting. Keri had chosen to donate her body to Science Care and they promptly came and wrapped her in a black sheet with gold moons all over it (which she would of loved) and respectfully took her away. The 3 of us were left standing in front of her apartment looking at each other in disbelief. It was all so surreal.

The next few weeks were spent in a fog cleaning out her apartment, notifying friends, taking care of her cats while trying to find homes for them (her friend Amy stepped up and is temporarily housing all 4…we still need homes for the sisters Black and Sabbath) and closing out accounts. I have never been in this situation before. It was totally overwhelming especially while trying to grieve. I am so thankful for the strength and love of my husband and my family and friends.

Going through all of this has greatly changed my perspective on life, whats important to me, and how little “stuff” means after your dead. I have been completely drained and have only had the energy to put into work, yoga and spending quality time with friends. Work feels good and familiar, meaningful and purposeful. Yoga has given me peace and mental clarity and seeing friends gives me a charge of positive energy and love.

Science Care cremated what they didn’t use and sent me her ashes. They tried to deliver them Friday but I wasn’t home and I had to go pick them up at the Post Office first thing Monday morning. I hadn’t thought about how this might feel. My only concern was actually getting her out of the DT Long Beach Post Office as they have lost packages of mine before. When they finally located the box and handed it to me there was a big sticker on it that said CREMATED. My stomach sank. I carried the box over to the mailing station as I had some other things to do and placed it on top thinking how surreal it was that my best friend was in there. Then I took it to my car and placed it on the passenger seat where she used to sit. Nothing could of prepared me for this. When I got home I opened the box to find a big, black plastic box inside and a little crystal pyramid with a nice saying on it. The ashes are a lot heavier then I expected. She probably only weighed about 80lbs when she passed. I couldn’t bear to look at them any longer and packed them back up in the box and put it in the closet next to my bed until Ron can come back down and we can form a plan to scatter them in one of her favorite places like Joshua Tree of Big Sur.

I am not sure how many days, if any, I have not randomly burst into tears since Keri passed on Xmas Eve. I know she is in a better place and is not suffering anymore and that makes me happy but the last month has been the hardest I have ever been through in my life. She was such a beautiful soul and touched so many peoples lives. I am grateful for our friendship and loved her like a sister. Maybe one day I will have the energy write about all the wonderful things she did and all of our crazy, fun times together. In the meantime I will leave you with a few words Ron, Wade and I put together to honor her.

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Kerilyn Marie Hendrickson
January 30,1975 – December 24, 2015
Keri passed away peacefully on Christmas Eve in her home with friends. She is deeply missed. She fought 3 types of cancer (breast, lymph and bone) over the last 10 years. She is survived by her four cats Pico, Black, Sabbath, and Wednesday (who are in need of a new home.) Keri touched our hearts with her kindness, humility and humor. She was a magical soul. She LOVED dancing, was an expert hula hooper, a taxidermy enthusiast, a punk rock hair/fashion model, musician, lover of music and quite possibly Lou Barlow’s biggest fan. She was strong, intelligent, independent and free spirited. Keri was a personal chef, developed raw vegan recipes for Mother’s Market, learned to cook exotic meats and developed recipes for Cafe La Rhonde in Florida, ran her own housekeeping business, obtained her motorcycle license at the age of 36 and graduated from IIN while she was battling cancer in order to help others as a health coach. Most of all Keri was a true friend.
In accordance with her wishes her body was donated to science. There will not be a service held because she disliked the idea of a memorial. You are invited to share photos, stories or messages here on her wall. Keri’s spirit lives on in all of us. We love you Keri!

 

Down The Rabbit Hole

When I moved to California in 1999 my cousin Bonnie was pursuing her acting career and attending all of the wild parties at The Playboy Mansion. I was fascinated by her tales of the glitz and glamour, celebrities and over-the-top themed costumes. As intrigued as I was I never tried to tag along because I felt my hair was too short, my boobs were too small and frankly, at the time, I felt I was just “too punk rock” for that scene. I was content living vicariously through Bonnie.

When The Girls Next Door first aired it became my guilty pleasure. At the time I lived in a ground level apartment and we had a TV that projected onto a giant wall in our living room. There was a huge window that looked onto the street as well as one behind the couch that faced my neighbors. I would always make sure my blinds and curtains were closed so no one could see what I was watching.

When Holly came into the picture on The Girls Next Door I became an instant fan. I felt like I could really relate to her in some strange way. I was thrilled when Down The Rabbit Hole came out and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I actually listened to the audio version which is read by Holly herself. It was a fascinating look into what life was really like behind the mansion doors. It starts out with Holly describing attending her first Playboy party and the excitement she felt as the bus drove her up the long driveway. She described it exactly as my cousin did 15 years ago.

If you are a Holly Madison fan or just curious about the life of a former “girlfriend” I would highly recommend this book. Along with revealing the mystery behind the gates its a story of strength, courage and fight.

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Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny

Description
The shocking, never-before-told story of the bizarre world inside the legendary Playboy Mansion—and, finally, the secret truth about the man who holds the key—from one of the few people who truly knows: Hef’s former #1 girlfriend and star of The Girls Next Door

A spontaneous decision at age twenty-one transformed small-town Oregon girl Holly Sue Cullen into Holly Madison, Hugh Hefner’s #1 girlfriend. But like Alice’s journey into Wonderland, after Holly plunged down the rabbit hole, what seemed like a fairytale life inside the Playboy Mansion—including A-list celebrity parties and her own #1-rated television show for four years—quickly devolved into an oppressive routine of strict rules, manipulation, and battles with ambitious, backstabbing bunnies. Life inside the notorious Mansion wasn’t a dream at all—and quickly became her nightmare. After losing her identity, her sense of self-worth, and her hope for the future, Holly found herself sitting alone in a bathtub contemplating suicide.

But instead of ending her life, Holly chose to take charge of it.

In this shockingly candid and surprisingly moving memoir, this thoughtful and introspective woman opens up about life inside the Mansion, the drugs, the sex, the abuse, the infamous parties, and her real behind-the-scenes life with Bridget, Kendra, and, of course, Mr. Playboy himself.

With great courage, Holly shares the details of her subsequent troubled relationship, landing her own successful television series, and the hard work of healing, including her turn on Dancing with the Stars. A cautionary tale and a celebration of personal empowerment, Down the Rabbit Hole reminds us of the importance of fighting for our dreams—and finding the life we deserve.

 

Top 35 Sushi Restaurants in America

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The Daily Meal just put out their list of the top 35 sushi restaurants in America and I have been to 2 of them! #18 Matsuhisa in LA is where I discovered my love for sashimi. My friend Mary and I had the Yellowtail Jalapeño and the Tuna Tataki with cilantro dressing and both were melt-in-your-mouth delicious! We also loved the Lobster Ceviche, King Crab Tempura, and the Fish N Chips Matsihisa Style. #34 Sansei has several locations in Hawaii and I just had the pleasure of eating at one last month. The Fresh Hawaiian Ahi Carpacciov Garnished with cilantro & chopped peanuts in a Thai chili vinaigrette blew my mind along with the Crab Ramen with Asian Truffle Broth with cilantro, Thai basil and mild jalapeños. Several Nobu’s made the list but not the Malibu location which is the only one I have been to. Wade and I went there for our 7 year wedding anniversary and did the Chef’s Tasting Menu and shared a bottle of Champagne. It was an amazing meal in a beautiful location right on the water. My local, go-to sushi spot in Long Beach is Sushi Kinoya. I could just eat the cilantro hand rolls all night long! Have you been to any of these spots and what do you love?

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Population Wars

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I have been a fan of the band Bad Religion for over 20 years and couldn’t wait to dive into this book, written by lead singer Greg Graffin. After seeing them in concert for the first time in high school and being the typical rebellious teenager, I couldn’t wait to wear my new concert t-shirt to school that said Fuck Religion on it. I was really going to make a statement right? Well, not if my mom had anything to do with it. She quickly whipped out a Sharpie marker and insisted on filling in the lines on the “F” so the shirt said “luck” Religion before I made my way out the door. It’s a memory I will forever cherish. Here I sit, all these years later, still a little rebel with a fire inside of me to question everything and continue to learn and challenge myself. I am only halfway through the book but have loved every minute of it. Greg Graffin you are one smart dude. Thank you for continuing to open my mind to new ideas.

In POPULATION WARS: A New Perspective on Competition and Coexistence (Thomas Dunne Books; September 15, 2015; $27.99), Greg Graffin, lead singer of Bad Religion and author of Anarchy Evolution, offers a fresh argument on the biological roots of competition. A paradigm- shifting book about why humans behave the way they do and the ancient history that explains that behavior, Graffin argues that we need to rethink the reasons for war, not only the human military kind, but also Darwin’s ‘war of nature,’ and find hope for a less violent future for mankind.

GREG GRAFFIN is the lead singer and a songwriter in Bad Religion. He obtained his PhD in zoology at Cornell University, and has lectured at UCLA and Cornell. He is the coauthor of Anarchy Evolution, with Steve Olson. He travels regularly between the cities he considers home, Ithaca, New York, and Los Angeles, California.

To mark the release of “POPULATION WARS,” Graffin will embark on a series of special live appearances. These unique events will offer an unprecedented perspective into the longstanding relationship between Graffin’s academic and musical spheres, examining the correlation between song lyrics and topics expressed in his new book. The events will feature some live acoustic performances of songs related to the book interspersed with spoken word and followed with a question and answer segment. These are the last remaining dates:
Wed 9/23/15 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theater
Fri 9/25/15 – Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg
Sun 9/27/15 – Santa Ana, CA – Constellation

 

Start Where You Are

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This beautiful little paperback, Start Where You Are, is a magical, meaningful journal for self-exploration. It is full of colorful hand-lettered watercolor illustrations by Meera Lee Patel that will spark reflection and inspiration. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t get something out of this.

The first exercise says, “You must always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder” and it asks that you list 5 things that always and immediately bring a smile to your face. I didn’t write on the page right away. A ton of things came to mind but I have been thinking about the question for the last few days and really pondering what makes my heart sing. Here are some things that immediately put a smile on my face:

Champagne*a smile from a stranger*rainbows*my husband/family*new shoes*waking up in our tent*baby animals*surprises in my mailbox*standing ovations*compliments*thank you notes*clean sheets*waking up and realizing it’s Sunday*elderly couples holding hands*truffles*pizza*a massage from my husband*seeing a friend*hearing a favorite song in public*great style

How about you? Leave a comment with 1 thing that immediately puts a smile on your face and pick up a copy of Start Where You Are!

 

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