Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thoughts, Mexico and San Diego

Staring out the window is a London-like gray day in Los Angeles today. Funny enough I don’t feel the heaviness of the gray as I look before me to the things I consistently discover and feel. I sit here playing with my new silver bracelet which holds sentimental value to me now. Now being the key word. Life is ever-changing, people are ever-changing, situations, feelings, circumstances, scenery… and now I realize the meaning of God being consistent. God always being there – God not changing. Though God is not tangible and I cannot wrap my arms around His feet so that I can thank Him (or Her as nature would more readily suggest), I realize the great comfort of consistency. There are very few consistent things in my life – the love of my parents, my love for music, and the fact that when I look up at the night sky Orion is always there for me – that puts a smile on my face. We are living in a time where we are being told it is okay to change all the time – but it makes me wonder if this also adds to the current state of loneliness. Should we have the ability to accept the differences in people and love them just the same? Why is it love changes at all? If it is what I interpret love to be – in that when I love someone it is their inside that I love more than their outside then what is it that changes when people tell you they cannot be there for you anymore? So my question is this….if God is Love…then why does Love change? Is it because it wasn’t love at all? That would be my guess although sometimes it amazes me at how people so readily open themselves up only to withdraw in fear or other psychological burdens that haunt their existence. What I have found is that people seem not to be able to accept unconditional, unearned love. For whatever reason, it seems they have to feel they worked hard for it, that it wasn’t available all the time. They don’t feel worthy of waking up in the morning, looking across the bed and saying “I am so happy that this person realizes that he/she deserves to and is wonderful enough to wake up next to me and vice versa despite the fact that I am not perfect” …

Mexico – Tijuana to be more precise was a wonderful little experience. Stalls and stalls of leather, silver, ceramics, little guitars, religious paraphernalia, paintings, ponchos and sombreros. Mariachi’s just about everywhere, little children running around and truly truly everything I envisioned Tijuana would be like. The people were warm and friendly and although it was a short stay I would like to return and take the drive to Baja to see the heart and soul of Mexico.

San Diego also hit home with me. I felt some sort of higher consciousness towards life down there. It seemed to me that people were more in touch with nature – hiking, biking, rollerblading, having bonfires on the beach and just enjoying life without the materialistic expectations that Los Angeles places upon you. In San Diego you can just about chill with anyone and discuss world politics, you can have breakfast the old fashioned way – something truly American that sometimes you find in a New York City diner. The characters and faces I came across all seemed to have a story and somehow I felt more connected to them. It had sort of a granola Burlington Vermont feel to it. I spent Sunday on a horse (Appaloosa) called Colorado and met my first person from New Mexico – a true cowboy, chewing tobacco, hat, spurs and the whole nine yards. I always thought they only existed in Western movies J Horseriding was peaceful and fun. It was a nice time to reflect on a lot of things once more and it is something I would love to go back to. Escaping my first experience with a mere scrape on my hand due to my horses sudden need to dive down and munch on grass under a tree (with which I became intimate with!), overall it was enjoyable riding through the canyon and being in natural surroundings as opposed to the concrete blocks in Los Angeles.

And so next on the agenda is that search for consistency – somehow, somewhere…starting with myself. Dedication is a powerful tool – and dedication towards anything makes the chances of success so much greater. Sometimes I wish people had as much passion and dedication for building relationships as they did for their careers but I find this not being the case so much. So – head down I will continue on my path until perhaps someone actually convinces me they understand where I am coming from!! Music, music, music,….writing, writing, writing, living, laughing, loving life, succeeding – its all there for me to entertain and so I will.

God Bless

Friday, February 08, 2008

Just some Thursday thoughts....

The sun rose this morning just like every other
Once again you wake to the dream you call reality
You search, you seek to find your answers
Looking for a piece of the universe to claim as your own

You breathe, your mind propels your body once more
Life and love wait for you behind familiar doors
Despite the blessings that you have been given
You crave the need to bleed to know you’re alive

And it is this moment – this very moment
And the moment after this moment
It is however many moments you may survive
That are the very answer to all that you seek

Brace yourself because it is that simple
Embrace yourself because you are that beautiful
Your simple breath itself is a sacred exchange with life
You take in, you give out, you take in, you give out….

The sun will set today just like every other
Pray your anxiety does not clutter your dreams
For your being in this moment is as beautiful as life
And you being in this life is more beautiful than anything.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Cure to Loneliness?

Sometimes I get into the mood to reflect on my day to day experiences in life and express outside of the world of my music, my Armenia, and my day to day activities which are nothing less than stimulating, thought provoking and sometimes just plain fun.
I think the older I get the more I seem to understand human psychology – and maybe even though the hardest thing of all is to change yourself – perhaps it is a blessing that we can understand ourselves in the big picture and learn to understand others better.
The more experience I have the more I realize that communication is the key to success. Whether it be to a significant other, a family member, a friend, or even a boss – the outcome of a situation is so much better when things are left unassumed, clarified, explained. Truth can be hurtful, some of us cannot handle hearing what impression we might make on someone else but ultimately understanding that we might be interpreted in certain ways is better than being rejected and never understanding why. I should clarify that rejection is never solely the result of one persons behaviour but rather a misunderstanding or lack of communication in the expectations and feelings between people.
In the past weeks I almost lost someone I considered a best friend and through all that I realized that I underestimated some of the other friends I had who were there for me during some difficult days. The older I get, the more I value friendship over suddenly romantic and often unrealistic relationships. The older I get the more I realize that there is a great beauty in being able to tell someone exactly how you feel (kindly and openly) and that being true to yourself is in fact something that is more admirable. I have also come to realize that relationships simply cannot last unless people are willing to deal with the fact that sometimes life changes our situations and feelings – the pressures in our daily lives can surmount to tensions that we take out on our loved ones because we assume that they will always be there for us. I often wonder why people are so quick to walk away at the first sign of stress or displeasure – and of course society calls these people selfish – selfish that they should only think of their immediate happiness. In some ways I am in agreement but the word I would like to use is not selfish – but rather short-sighted. Selfish is a good word in some ways – because without embracing yourself, loving yourself and being true to who you are you cannot possibly share yourself in a healthy manner with someone else. Selfish and self-centered are very different words. The self-centered person will be completely oblivious to the feelings and needs of someone they are supposed to care about. For instance – everything and every conversation will revolve around them – their achievements, their losses, their feelings, what they want, etc…. The selfish person will be sympathetic, empathetic, and patient with the person that they care about – but ultimately they will not go out of their way to do something that is not true to themselves – that is done out of guilt. They will simply be there without sacrificing themselves. In my beliefs, if there is love in a relationship, if there is communication in a relationship, moments of misunderstanding pass with time, with honesty, with self-love, and patience. Part of that is the need to be selfish (self-loving) but not self-centered. The self-centered person thinks only of their own immediate happiness and has no patience to truly empathise with others emotions, nor the ability to realize that in their obsession to perfect and hone themselves to the standards they deem acceptable, they often sabotage their friendships and complain about being alone. And so – I call it short sightedness. Something it seems my generation suffers from greatly. The ability to stick something out and work through it because it actually takes a bit of work and a bit of patience. Whether it be romantic or non-romantic is not important – what is important is the realization that the meaning of relationships is an exchange. Furthermore, in my opinion, what constitutes long term love is the ability to know that you have worked through the rough times and the happy times with someone - like a team – trusting and knowing that sometimes things will seem impossible but always remembering the reasons you were there in the first place.
Life is a series of valleys and peaks – it is what makes life so interesting, ever-changing, unpredictable, wise and wonderful and always teaching us its lessons if we care to notice. I am grateful for the people I have in my life that have these values and I feel that I do my best to be the kind of person I describe. Perhaps one day by chance I will meet someone that is able to understand the meaning of a relationship even in a romantic setting – and then life will once again surprise and astound me.
I praise God for the lessons He teaches me and I ask that we all have the courage to be selfish in the right ways, with the ability to communicate, to be patient with the ones we love, to be kind to ourselves and not always critical because often we hurt the ones who love us in that self-centeredness, and mostly to not be short-sighted. To realize that love is something that gets stronger when it stands the tests thrown before it – when within it lies tenderness and kindness. Perhaps then I will look around me and see that all the wonderful friends I have will not feel so alone – for the disease of my generation is the loneliness they face – the difficulty of finding partners who are not self-centered or who realize that real values are more important than financial success (albeit this is a good thing too). But it takes more than nice cars and houses to build something real. Probably I am a romantic forever – but a house can burn down and a car can get stolen but true love is intangible to others outside of that relationship. It is in your hands to nurture and grow it and it is those two people who see on that wavelength than can truly create an exciting partnership for their future – because although it changes, its strength increases – I always love the verse in I Corinthians about love: - Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
And so Peace and love to all and a genuine hope that you either have or will find this kind of love in your lives.

Monday, January 28, 2008

2 Months and a Concert Later

So life is going by in a flash and I am convinced it is because I am enjoying it. December was spent feasting on scrumptious meals and taking in the holiday season with friends and family. There were evenings at art gallery's, film screenings, new restaurants and cultural events. I had friends from NY visiting at New Year so it was a nice opportunity to explore Santa Monica and have a meal at Duke's in Malibu where the fish is lovely and the view of the ocean is even better!

The more I spend time in LA, the more I realise just how many Armenians there are here - and how many different types of Armenians there are. I suppose when raised as a diasporan Armenian you believe that the commonality of culture ought to bind you together like blood brothers but the reality is that there are so many varieties within. I've met Armenians who could have been African Americans , Armenians from Armenia or Jewish or American....I suppose due to our assimiliation we are a varied people and nowhere seems to make it more evident than here in LA. With such a large concentration of Armenians in one place which consists of a melting pot of this culture from the homeland to all other unimaginable corners of the earth, I feel on my skin what it means to be dispersed to other parts of the world from your mother country. And so, the differences are many - but still when I managed to get a flat tire in the pouring rain up on Mullholland Drive, and the AAA came to change it for me, despite not having my cousin's membership number, one look at my drivers liscense and he said "My sister, why on earth did you not tell me you are Armenian"? That seemed to be enough to get the car fixed without any further questioning!
So whether or not I am in Yerevan or in Los Angeles, it seems if I cannot experience the Armenian Navy Band at the very least I can hear Arto play. Several weeks ago we had the priviledge of seeing him play at a club called "LaVeLee' with one of his current bands called "Kinsey" with a nice group of 12 people or so. I had Artyom the cellist on my right and Arto on stage and then my friend Hasmik from the Naregatsi Art Institute in Armenia on my left - I felt as if I was back in Yerevan at the Avante Garde Folk Club - it was a wonderful feeling and an evening of incredible jazz. I hope to make it there again.
So leading up to Mosaic II I did a few spots on Armenian television which were fun and also got some attention in the press. I also started freelance writing for the Armenian Reporter which is now available on the West coast. It can be viewed online at One of my recent articles was about Daniel Kevorkian the photographer from Florence that I mentioned in my last blog. It can be seen in the January 19th edition in the Arts & Culture section (page C14). He is also responsible for the photos above (makeup Talar Saboundjian) and many other fantastic ones that he took that evening can be seen in the February 4th issue where the top photo in this blog is on the front page. I was also personally featured in the Arts & Culture section (January 26th) where once again the photographs were taken by Daniel Kevorkian and the make-up was done by Talar Saboundjian. The article is a wonderfully comprehensive one by James Martin and the issues are viewable in PDF format once the site is accessed online.
So January 26th was also the Mosaic Performance at the Alex Theatre in Glendale that I was so looking forward to. I lucked out that Artyom (cellist and bass player of the Armenian Navy Band) was here in Los Angeles and agreed to work with me. I also had the massive talent and priveledge of having John Bilezikjian who plays oud and mandolin agree to join us. Greg Hosharian - also a musician with a lot of experience and wonderful taste played keyboards, and Mher Vahakn Ajamian joined us with percussion and some wonderful rhythms - including a great solo during the performance.
The bands of the evening were all very good. The opening band Cantus Capella left many in awe. The rock melodies were tight, clean, and full of energy. Accompanied by a powerful drummer, the singers strong dark and severe image in line with his incredible vocal ability truly made them one of the most enjoyable acts of the evening. Also along for the ride were popular local band Visa with their mix of Arabic, Greek, Turkish, Armenian rhythms and heavy use of the duduk, Zulal with their signature acapella folk songs and narrations, and Areni & Ochion who played some beautiful jazz compositions with Areni's angelic vocals that caused goosebumps. We were the closing act to a concert that lasted almost 4 hours and I am incredibly grateful to the audience that actually stuck it out and waited to hear us in the end. The response was phenomenal, the energy the audience gave to us was wonderful, and we enjoyed ourselves incredibly on the stage despite the fact that the time was getting late. It was nice to finish the show with the audience clapping along and actually wanting an encore! A great big thank you to my family in LA that finally got the opportunity to see me live - aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews but also a warm thank you to the local Armenians in LA who received us so positively. Also to the Hamazkayin Mosaic Committee and to all the organisers involved. Here's hoping we have another opportunity to play in LA very soon.
And so next on the cultural agenda is Vahe Berberian's play Baron Garbis which is playing at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks. A review of the play can be seen in the same issue as my writeup. I look forward to getting out and experiencing more of this wonderful culture that seems to be thriving here in LA.
Until next time - enjoy the pictures and may this blog find you well and happy!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

LA LA Land!

It takes a certain mindset and a heck of a lot of lust for life to enjoy Los Angeles. LA has everything to offer - when you want it, how you want it, how much of it you want. All you need is the desire and of course - like everywhere else in the world connections always help!

Its been 3 months of not a dull moment and the only thing slowing me down is a nasty cold to remind me that its been go go go! I've met about 60 new people (averaging a new face every other day) and have been invited to many many events (something that was an annual happening in London and even more so in Leeds)! Its paradise for the extrovert that I am and frankly I think I am thoroughly convinced I am still 26 although another birthday went by this last November...Halloween in America was a weekend of the usual festivities. I went as a belly dancer with my cousins to a party and the next day swapped costumes with my cousin Natalie and went as a pirate to a fabulous party in Hollywood. (You can see I am pictured with the President).

From magicians to musicians, models to mothers, photographers, painters, commercial brokers, bakers, the nouveau riche to the hippies LA is a place that accepts just about everyone and everything - of course it does help to look beautiful or at least trendy while you are going about your business. I experienced my first paparazzi blast as I was leaving Mirabelle Restaurant on sunset...just when I thought the Armenian press had found out I was in town I looked over and saw Britney entering the restaurant beside me...I've never seen anything like it - these people can easily kill for a photograph. Madness....

Since I have been here a young woman decided to walk down Hollywood Boulevard in nothing but stilettos in the middle of the day. I've seen enormously large women giggling at dinner tables being fed by their lovers, I've seen plastic surgery that redefines the texture of plastic, cars and houses that one could only imagine, traffic at 6am on the 405 freeway, food that is made for the Gods, and mostly such an abundance of Armenians that I am convinced we should rename the state of Calfornia - Armenia - and that't that.

This year I attended AFFMA (The Armenian Film Festival) at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. It started with a wonderful opening open air party with lots of mingling. I met some wonderful people including a lovely Italian Armenian Daniel Kevork from Florence who was photographing the event. (See picture where i am wedged between two goatees - Daniel is the one on the right). The pictures are wonderful and since then I have gone with him to one of his jobs and saw the quality of his work. It was a beautiful day in Mount Olympus followed by some shots in Malibu (see photo of pier). He is a true talent in the type of photography he does (mainly product) and I have a feeling he is going to be the next best thing in LA although he is back and forth to Florence. To see some of his work do visit He also had the opportunity to take some photos of me - some of which I will post with this blog. AFFMA is a very well organised event that was done extremely professionally with a lot of high quality talent involved and high profile people. I think this event will get better each year especially with the young Armenian talent and passion that lies behind it - and the team of people who really made it happen.

So I also had the pleasure of participating in this years Armenia Fund Telethon where over 15 million was raised. Bravo to everyone who participated - from those in the background, the organisers, the kids answering phones, the stuffed cow in the foreground (nice touch), the performers, and of course best of all the donors - what a fantastic thing we achieved!

Thanksgiving day consisted of a table set for 40 with all of the scrumptious things possible. What a feast we had with about 40 cousins dancing and singing into the night. Harout Pamboukjian did his usual job of getting us out of our seats and two of our cousins (18 and 21) did a great job at bartending to the rest of the family. It was a bit worrying at how good they actually were at making the Margarita's and all the other scrupmtious drinks to get the family dancing. I must hire them at my next party.... :)

And finally...the Armenian Music Awards....I did not receive the award for Best Alternative Album but the whole experience was unforgettable in a way in which wetting your pants the first day of school is unforgettable. It was great fun to meet all the popular artists from Armenia like Andre, Sirusho, Arminka, Hay Tghek, Armenoids, to name a few...but the highlight of my evening was meeting my favourite trance artist/DJ C-Rouge who happened to stumble into our limo. After being "kept" in the limousine for an hour (this is after we traipsed around the parking lot looking for Purple Parking which was some sort of imaginary instruction to stupefy the artists), we walked the red carpet - or shall I say I toured the red carpet? Up and down, across, over, back, left right, down again, smiling, posing, chatting, oh yes - interviewing once even!! The sound was fabulous - given that everything was lipsynced in the evening. A nomination envelope disappeared with the presenters having to run backstage to look for it, one of the tracks cut out in the end while the performers were still singing - and best of all - we don't even know who the judges are!!! But overall - great effort - it was an amusing show to say the least and I felt right back at home in Yerevan. It was thrilling to see some of my old acquaintances like Kohar who was a presenter on Rubicon but has now moved on to a different tv station. She did a great job at presenting that evening and really added an element of class to the whole event.

And so - preparations for Christmas and then the Mosaic concert and other little bits and bobs in is good! Seems LA is a popular destination and already this past week I have seen my friend Andrea from NY that I haven't seen in 7 years and it was an excuse to go to Long Beach and have a nice meal followed by a nice dinner at the Spanish Kitchen in Hollywood last night where I met up with my friend Ron from Germany that I hadn't seen in 4 years. What could be better than all of this? Yorkshire moors? I think not.

It's 80 degrees farenheit as I type this and the sun is shining. Looking forward to what this great city has in store next! Peace and love from the sunshine state and God Bless as always.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Concerts, Birthdays, Blazing California, and Malarchy in General

Where does the time go? Two months of LA and I am still discovering an utterly new universe complete with gale force winds, burning mountains, and gridlock...What an amazing state and amazing state of affairs to find yourself in. Two small concerts later (Festival and a gig for the AGBU) I am gearing up to play the Telethon next month but more importantly I find myself writing again. The characters that surround me are enough inspiration to write an entire symphony - so here I go...
With Halloween around the corner I bought myself a harem girl costume today complete with gold bangles and earrings. The inflatable genie lamp was tempting but I decided to give it a miss.
Last Sunday I was in Santa Barbara for lunch. What a beautiful little place complete with outdoor cafe's, boutiques, artsy fartsy stuff and a beach! I didn't realise how close I was as we drove through what appeared to be the center of hell as fires blazed all over LA. Escape from LA? Yes definitely. It was a nice trip up North but passing by Malibu you could see a completely yellow sky and red was surreal. I had family that was evacuated from their home because of the fire but God is great and the house and garden are standing although less than half a mile away was burned to nothing.
So far I have had a jam session with my cousin Vinni (Yes I really have a cousin named Vinni/Vahan) and attended two birthday parties - one in which I discovered the largest pie of pizza I had ever seen in my entire life. When people say things in LA are bigger than in NY they are serious. This monster of a pizza pie was actually devoured by some 40 people and even was a breakfast afterthought for some. My friend Karen who is a magician (see photo) and is an incredible character had his birthday last week too - a very random party with incredible tacos which ended with one of his dogs dying. The poor thing had departed once before and come back to life - this time it seemed doggie heaven was on the cards. It was a cute little roly poly chihuahua which I likened to Anthony Hopkins because of its facial expression (sort of like in Legends of the Fall). I also managed to see the Dirty Diamond perform again (which is quite a good band)! and catch up with Kohar who had arrived here with all 170 people from Armenia. A successful performance at the Gibson Ampitheatre with a whole tour ahead of them makes it an exciting time for them. I wish them every success as they share history, culture and art with us. They are now in San Francisco and will also be heading to Montreal, New York, and Boston to name a few. Don't miss the opportunity to see them. The picture above of the boys sleeping was taken at intermission. Obviously they weren't as excited as I was.

On a day to day basis I look for work which seems more difficult than I thought. Hence I try and refrain from going to shopping malls, Target, TJMaxx and anything else which might be hazardous to my health. Ocassional trips to Vrej pastry for Armenian goodies is however excusable.
I am discovering Hollywood and Downtown LA which seem more my style than the suburbia I am in. I like the idea of walking everywhere which is an old Yerevan pastime but LA is not very forgiving and it seems you need a motor vehicle so therefore my only form of excersize has been turning a steering wheel from left to right and occasionally pressing and releasing a foot pedal. I have fantastically toned calves and forearms as a result...

This weeks discovery of humans behaving badly was the amount of junk everyone receives in the mail. Every day there are about 4 paper booklets of coupons, savings, advertising from local supermarkets and businesses. I cannot believe we don't have the power to stop it. With modern day email can't we think about saving the trees?

So that's it for now - I am off to yet another birthday this eve where I am sure I will get acquainted with a few more faces. Its a tiny little Armenian world we are living in. I recently met Krikor Satamian (comedian/actor) and Raffi Hamparian (mover and shaker on the political arena). How about the Resolution 106 getting passed by the House?? Its about time is all I can say. Each of us makes a difference (this is confirmed by Raffi) and so it is important we stand for the truth. Truth does set one free - definitely.
So onwards and forwards. Not looking for love, not looking for joy, not looking for anything but to make the here and the now worthwhile which means that I am even breathing with passion, sleeping with passion, eating with passion, singing with passion, and I guess writing with passion eh?

Peace and love

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Celebrating Life with Good Friends (Montreal)