An Imperfectly Charmed Life in Perceived Paradise

As a mother of two and wife of one living for the last thirteen years in Malibu, California - "the 'Bu" as I never actually call it, but as many affectionately refer to it - I spend my days driving up and down the coast highway to and from school, ballet, violin, soccer and cartooning classes, with food market, public library, state beach and park visits sprinkled in.

I have two littles that are by my side for what seems like 99% of my day; and although I love them fiercely in spite of myself, I have an ever present desire to escape from the encompassing chaos they have brought to my formerly organized and efficient life.

I earned a degree in Film Studies and worked both amateurishly and professionally in the Hollywood film and television industry for ten years. I traded the insane hours and surrealistic existence of film sets and working in the vacuum of the studio environment for the cool coastal breezes and flip-flop mentality of beach living, a surfer husband, and the unique opportunity to help launch a surf/lifestyle company. My life and career made another drastic shift as I took on motherhood (enter the chaos), and I realized that parenting is a challenge that made my years as a single, career woman in the male-dominated film industry seem like a cake walk.

Born in Hollywood, California, I was raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles County, the daughter of a notable musical entertainer of the 1960's and 70's, spending most of my time in the swimming pool to escape the blistering heat of the San Fernando Valley, riding my bike, and running around our ranch property barefoot. I traveled to Las Vegas as a child as often as the members of the Rat Pack did in their heyday. My father headlined the main showrooms of all the major casinos along the Vegas Strip, and my siblings and I spent our time there swimming in the hotel pools, playing carnival games at Circus Circus, and wreaking havoc backstage in the halls and green rooms before the show. Making our own Shirley Temple cocktails and collecting autographs of the revolving acts of comedians and lounge singers opening for my dad's group, we were certainly a unique sight. A kid in Vegas in the 70's was like a nonsmoker in Vegas in the 70's - you didn't see many. It made for a memorable childhood; one ripe with drama and dysfunction juxtaposed with glitter and glamour... and sequins.

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In my youth while back in LA, I recall driving along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in Malibu on long treks in the family station wagon from the valley over the canyon through the mountain tunnels to spend the day making sand castles at Paradise Cove or playing in the waves at Zuma Beach. For me, then and now, the drive along thisPCH was and is a wholly sensory experience, with sights, smells, and sounds that only the coast offers... the sharp horizon where vivid blues of clear sky and glistening water meet, the salt water scent in the air, and the seagulls cawing in the ocean breezes.

For many, the idea of Malibu sparks visions of palm trees, movie stars, and lazy days by the pool of a sprawling mansion, martini in hand... long sessions down at the beach, surfing the waves and lying in the sun... everyone here just "living the dream" in paradise.

This artwork, "Along the Malibu", by retro-realism artist Kerne Erickson, seems to perpetuate this concept of Malibu as a place of carefree amusement, breathtaking views, and extravagant luxury. In it, an elegant woman and her dog on the back patio of the historic Adamson House in Malibu is depicted in the foreground, and surfers at the world famous Surfrider Beach alongside the Malibu Pier can be seen in the distance.

This general perception, or shall I say misconception, of what Malibu unequivocally is like, isn't the whole story, especially not for this small beach community's year-round, non-gazillionaire residents.

It is also not what this blog is, or will be, mostly about. I don't live on a large estate, I haven't had any plastic surgery, and I don't regularily dine at Nobu with Sting (although I wish that last one was true).

These days, as I drive along PCH, I am not a young girl wearing a swimsuit and coverup (usually a ball cap and Uggs) blasting tunes on the radio (unless it's the kids' "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" music), or anticipating a fun, coconut suntan lotion-scented day on the sand (let's just say the scents in my kid-filled life are not of the tropical variety).

Instead, I am a woman who lives and travels daily along the 27-mile winding strip of Malibu coastline between the mountains and the sea, running errands, shuttling kids around, and doing my best to survive an imperfectly charmed life in a place perceived as "paradise" by those from the outside looking in. 

My life is, and has always been, far from perfect, despite how it may appear to others. We all have our challenges to surmount and certain circumstances to cope with; and the hope is to somehow find the grace, fortitude, and strength to take them on every day without giving up or cracking up.

Trying to create or keep up with the illusion of a "perfect" life is something that I have no interest in doing. So, I don't. Not in my life, and not in my writing. I had a big helping of that "need to be and look perfect" ideology thrust upon me in my childhood, as I often felt as if I lived in a fish bowl, and had to play a part that made me often feel seen but not heard; so much so that I perpetuated my perfectionist tendencies into young adulthood.

It took a while for me to finally learn that this way of life does not serve me well. But thankfully, I learned.

This is only my fifth post on this blog so far, so as I write, and as you read, I aim to always be as authentic, candid, and real as I can. It's the me that I am these days, for better or worse; and so that's what you're gonna get.