venus retrograde diaries [#StarsAndSymbols]

one way of differentiating a retrograde planet from a planet moving in its regular direct motion is to consider the ‘re’ prefix. words such as review, revisit, and revise come to mind. different planets, when retrograde, might warrant different ‘re’ verbs. for example, the energy of venus revolves around individual values, so we may find ourselves forced to re-evaluate some aspect of our lives when venus is retrograde.

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venus happens to be retrograde now, actually, and i can attest to this cosmic re-evaluation, as I am experiencing my own version of it. most noticeably i am re-evaluating my own home. now that i think about it, this particular venus retrograde [from the mid degrees of aries back to the last few degrees of pisces] is traversing my 4th house, which is related to home and the innermost private life away from the public eye, so it is no wonder i looking at my living space with new eyes.

long story short, i love where i live now. it took me about 2 years, give or take a few months, to arrive at this conclusion, but i am enamored with altadena. for those who have never heard of it, or know little about it, altadena is just north of pasadena in los angeles county, right outside the city. located  in the foothills of the san gabriel mountains, altadena is like a quaint, green, mountainous refuge high up and away from the rest of the city of angels. initially, when i first moved here from the suburbs of atlantic city, new jersey, this distance i speak of was the exact problem i perceived.

altadena was too far removed for me to feel like i was getting the true LA experience. people familiar with the area were quick to correct me if i made the mistake of saying i lived in LA (“that’s not LA”), and i know it’s not (technically), but it’s easier sometimes to say LA and keep it casual in superficial “small talk”-type conversations. as someone who is drawn to big cities, i wanted desperately to be in the thick of things, especially since my job is in the middle of hollywood. since i have no car here, my commute from altadena to hollywood (which warrants its own article) is what some would call a “super-commute”, and it took a lot of time to get used to it. speaking of having no car, it can be tedious to enjoy a social life in a city that is as sprawling and widespread as los angeles. nightlife, in particular, has been a hassle, because the metro is virtually nonexistent after midnight, and uber/lyft rides add up if used immoderately. these are some of the reasons i wasn’t completely satisfied living in altadena. until now, that is.

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i don’t know quite what elicited the shift, but i know that i appreciate altadena so much more than i used to, especially since venus has been retrograde. here are 8 of my favorite things (in no particular order) about this small town, which i am now referring to as my LA safe haven:

  1. racial diversity
    i love the fact that i see black and latino families walking out of these big, beautiful homes to tend to their lawns, sit on their porches, etc. as young person of color, this is both inspirational and aspirational.
  2. real estate
    speaking of big, beautiful homes… there are some big, beautiful homes here. i often find myself walking paths that i wouldn’t normally walk because i’ve spotted a gorgeous piece of property.
  3. nature
    LA is notorious for its smog, but the air up in altadena seems fresher than the rest of the city. maybe it’s all the trees, this town is located directly below the angeles national forest. my street in particular (santa rosa ave) is lined with hundreds of cedar deodar trees.
  4. christmas tree lane
    so my street, with all the cedar trees, is nicknamed christmas tree lane, and since 1920, it has been a popular holiday destination. every december, the trees are decorated with christmas lights, and people drive from all over to see it with their families. it goes until the new year, and i can see it all from my kitchen window/front yard.
  5. hiking trails
    thanks to some of the aforementioned treasures, i take regular walks around my neighborhood, and if i walked far enough uphill, i run into some cool trails, most recently the altadena crest trail, which i found by accident last time my curiosity drove me from my house to the northernmost edge of my path. there’s also eaton canyon to the east of me, and that trail is distinguished by oasis-like waterfall that you will meet at the finish line.11109022_1613614442231154_7239981195780805647_n.jpg
  6. local eats
    my appetite is surprisingly big for such a skinny guy, and thankfully, i don’t have to go too far for good food. around the corner from me, just above the intersection of lake & mariposa, are two of my go-to eateries: park bench grill (an intimate black-owned soul food establishment with especially good sandwiches) and el patron (a small, but solid Mexican restaurant with affordable ways to get drunk).
  7. altadena library district
    i live directly across from the altadena library, which means i have access to a wealth of information, not to mention a wealth of people circulating in and out of my immediate environment. when i’m not reading/writing/loitering on the computer inside of the library (especially since my laptop stopped working), i am sitting on my front porch, observing the locals with whom i share this area.
  8. theosophical society
    right up the street from my house, on the corner of santa rosa and mariposa, is the theosophical society international headquarters. i know very little of theosophy, but i know it’s occult-oriented, and i’m sure they chose altadena for a reason. i just wonder what it is…

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#ThreeFictionalCharacters: An Essay of Indecision

I’m sure you’ve heard of the latest Twitter trending tropic/challenge/meme called Three Fictional Characters. I’m sure this isn’t any sort of PATRIOT ACT trap [couldn’t be], so I’ve decided to go ahead and volunteer this [potentially incriminating] personal information with the good people of the internet [and the CIA… the whole thing]. I’m sure, very.

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Okay, so I’m being extra, but it was too hard to choose + plus it was really fun to look back at some of my favorite characters from television shows that came on when I was growing up. I decided instead of doing just three fictional characters that describe my personality, I would list six – three fictional men and three fictional women.

The Men:

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Kyle Barker [Living Single] was the perfect balance of Classic Man and Hotep Hipster. His locs were hair goals and his wardrobe was pre-fleek. Plus, he was shady AF, but like… so smoov. This man taught me more than I know, and he is the reason why I know as an adult that I don’t have to compromise the rich vibrancy of my culture to be taken seriously as a professional. Continue reading

traveling mercies: saturn in sagittarius [#StarsAndSymbols]

Since I’ve moved cross-country to LA, making genuine connections seems at times like mission impossible. I just remembered Saturn [the planet of obstacles], is in Sagittarius [the sign of long distance travel]. May explain why I haven’t effortlessly acquired a whole slew of BFF’s.

In other words, anyone who has journeyed long distance, whether it’s long-term or for a quick getaway, is susceptible to some sort of setback with Saturn in Sagittarius. I send you all traveling mercies 🙂

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On the plus side, Saturn’s delays and difficulties are just a reminder that real rewards do not come overnight. We’ve got to work and make an effort and leap over hurdles and learn lessons if we want long-lasting, substantial results. Where we find Sagittarius, we always find opportunities, but Saturn makes sure they are well earned. Dues must be paid.

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February Playlist & Black Music in Post-Millenial America [#MonthlyPlaylist]

i’ve been making monthly playlists since september 2009. it’s a form of stress relief when i’m feeling anxious. after making a few of them, i found playlisting [yes, it’s a verb] was a way to capture the zeitgeist by strategically stringing together about an hour’s worth of new-ish songs so that they make a statement, a document of the collective unconscious if you will.

Diaspora

the new playlist i just arranged is a tribute to the creative versatility and fierce spirit that lives within african diasporic peoples, as well as our ability to thrive in the midst of adversity. every song represents a specific region, a particular sound, and a unique expression of melanin-imbued brilliance. one could say the range of this mix is disparate, and on one hand that is true. on the other hand, my goal is to both celebrate and stimulate the afro-geographic conversation by connecting each sound in a way that conveys a more comprehensive experience of African descendants living in the American twenty-first century. this is my perception of what’s like to be black in the new world, illustrated sonically for your listening pleasure.

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