What I Learned While Floating Down The LA River

Jasmine in a bright orange kayak holding a double-sided oar and floating down the LA River

 

I ventured out on to the actual LA River this past weekend with the group, Black Girls Trekkin, and had fun kayaking and meeting our tour guide and four-time Naked and Afraid contestant from LA River Expeditions, Gary Golding. He took his time instructing everyone on how to navigate our watercraft and he really made the outing fun. However, my favorite part of the entire kayaking trip was the time he took to speak about the river’s history and how it wasn’t even considered a river at first.

 

I had briefly heard about the documentary that he mentioned before, Rock the Boat, where local satirical writer, George Wolfe, boated down the fenced-in waterway, hoping to have the EPA declare the river navigable. Wolfe was hoping that it could gain protection under the Clean Water Act if he took the time to film himself kayaking down the river. He was, obviously, successful and I also enjoyed floating down the river as a result of his environmentalism, but I also couldn’t help but notice that there was still trash in the river.

 

I wrote a poem with the LA River in mind, but I also drew parallels between the river and the highways that weave in and around Los Angeles. This week alone, I witnessed three people on three separate highways throw trash out onto the road. Cups, a whole take away bag from In-n-Out, and— cigarettes. I’ve witnessed so many cigarettes thrown out of the window that I no longer find it surprising why California has so many brush fires along the side of the roads. I thought about how hard people, including me, work to clean hiking trails and the LA River, but it pains me to see people throwing their trash out on the road.

 

Yes, the river still needs a little more cleaning, but I also know that we can aid in the cleanup by first reducing the amount of trash that ends up outside in the first place. It’s not one person’s job or responsibility to do this, but as a group of mindful people, if we all at least make sure we throw away our own trash in designated trash receptacles, then we can make Los Angeles and California a better place.

 

 

The LA River

 

I was floating down the LA River

in a boat that weighed a ton

and I couldn’t help but notice

all the trash that lined the wet highway.

Rusted shopping carts

and plastic bags

clogged the pathways

and rising smog

sat between me

and the LA skyline.

There were people causing traffic

and accidents along the way,

and traveling several feet ahead

took what seemed like a lifetime.

 

We traveled with the current

and didn’t move very far

and I swear that 20 miles

shouldn’t seem that long.

Tent cities lined the river

and clothes hung off of bushes.

A man smoking a cigarette

nodded in my direction as I drifted by

and I couldn’t help but notice

the trash near his living space

while I floated down the LA River

in a boat that weighed a ton.

Poetry For The 21st Century | The Ocean’s Greetings

I was greeted by the warm rays that rained down from the summer sun
And felt the cool kisses quickly land on my cheek from the ocean’s salty breeze.
I looked for the usual crowd of people relaxing on the sand but found none
And left the quiet beach alone to do as she pleased.

I wandered off into town and stumbled on to the Spanish Father’s mission,
An old building for church service long before there stood a town.
I walked along the waterway listening to the sound of rushing water in repetition
And walked across the wooden bridge while trying to avoid looking down. Continue reading “Poetry For The 21st Century | The Ocean’s Greetings”

The Coldest Spring In Chicago

IMG_1939Chilling gusts of air blew in from Lake Michigan into the “Windy City” of Chicago as my good friend from college, my sister, and I made our way from the architecture tour boat to the shops along Navy Pier. It was then that I had heard, for the tenth time, that I had picked a terrible weekend to visit Chicago, Illinois—and I definitely realized that.

Temperatures dropped into the low 40’s, and at one point, when we were waiting on a platform to take the “L” across the city, it even began to snow. I quickly learned that the best time to visit the third largest city in the United States are not April through May due to the unpredictability of the weather, but actually in May or June and between September and October.

What I also learned was that Chicago is a beautiful and a fantastic city full of wonderful people, delicious food, gorgeous architecture, and several old and brand new friends that I hold dear to my heart. Continue reading “The Coldest Spring In Chicago”

Our Trip to Ontario, Canada

Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 6.47.36 AM“So, why on earth are you in Canada if you’re from California?” The young man was standing just outside the Toronto Eaton Centre passing out flyers for something or other when he struck up a conversation between my sister and myself. We were heading toward the crosswalk and on our way to grab a couple of Canadian beers and pizza.

My sister turned to the guy with the flyers again. “We just wanted to visit for fun.”

The real reason falls somewhere between my sister’s weird obsessions with the Great White North and my desire to travel the entire globe. Canada was not my first choice, but I was curious to see how America’s hat actually lived. Continue reading “Our Trip to Ontario, Canada”

The Journey to the Center of California’s Coast

IMG_8324Within the span of four hours in the car that had carried us up and over hills and traveled beside the ocean, we had driven under a sky that had gone from a murky brown to a clear bright blue, to a cool misty gray. My sister and I had decided to visit my dad at his new place in San Luis Obispo for the weekend. We planned on leaving early that morning from Orange County and meeting up for lunch on the Central Coast.

We ended up spending the rest of the day getting a tour of the college town from our dad, sampling the local coffee, and walking along the various piers that gave beautiful views of the ocean. Continue reading “The Journey to the Center of California’s Coast”

A Run Through MOCA In LA And The Standard

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Instagram | jasminedlowe

There’s something about getting lost in the rows of paint, clay, and metal that are hung on the walls and that populate the formerly empty spaces of an art gallery or museum. Within a glance, I can feel the emotions that had flowed through the bodies of artists and can learn the histories of other eras through the stories those artists tell through various mediums.

I spent one of the past weekends, as I usually do, in a half-filled Southern Californian art museum. It was during this time that I was able to hear the stories of African Americans spanning nearly half a century from artist Kerry James Marshall’s exhibition, Mastry.

Continue reading “A Run Through MOCA In LA And The Standard”

My Mothers Day Stalker

Happy-Mothers-day-Images“Jasmine!” My sister was making her way into my mother’s house where we had been visiting during Mother’s Day weekend. “Jasmine, I found this wedged in between the windshield wipers of you car!”

I took the envelope with my name written on it and proceeded to turn it over. “What is this?”

“I don’t know. I found it on your car.”

I opened it. “It’s a Mother’s Day card—for me?” I felt lost in a sea of confusion. “It’s an anonymous card addressed to me congratulating me on my first Mother’s Day.”

My sister was laughing as she ran to get her phone. She came back snap several photos for Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook posts. “Oh my goodness, this is great,” she said while attempting to stifle laughs. “You really don’t know who it’s from?”

As far as I know I have never had children. I didn’t remember adopting anyone and I couldn’t find a normal reason why I would be receiving a Mother’s Day card. “No, someone is just really confused.”

Continue reading “My Mothers Day Stalker”

The End of A Journey (Part 2 of 2)

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Along the U.S. Northwestern Coast

The last five days before my best friend and I started new full-time jobs, and receiving talks about promotions, were the days we used to travel up and then back down along America’s west coast. We took to the highways, side roads, and freeways like a drop of water takes shape in a rushing stream. It was as if we forgot the world where we both had to go to our jobs, water our plants, and take out the trash, and lived, for a moment, as traveling gypsies hugging the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

We traveled from Southern California, up the 5 and along the 101 Redwood Hwy. We stopped to gaze up at the epic wooden splendor and slept at the foot of nature’s long-living giants. Continue reading “The End of A Journey (Part 2 of 2)”

The Awkward Intern

Go to 4:14 to see my awkward self…