Stuck on the couch...Here...apartment review.

I've got a foot surgery booked on the calendar, so I know that I'll be spending more time on the couch.  Maybe I can make up for 10 years of light blogging.

As you know, Alex and I have lived in DTLA since 2008.  We've lived in a couple of places, and we will be forever renters.  We've toured a TON of apartments - some we can afford, and more that we cannot.  Nevertheless, we know apartments, amenities, and assholes.  LOL.  Not a lot of assholes, just Art the Ass.  #neverforget

With so many apartment buildings, check this out...here's what I think...

We currently live at Wren, and there's a lot of things to like about this place.  The community amenities are on the 2nd floor, the rooftop is understated and totally practical.  The apartments feel very sturdy, and practical.  The business center is practical.  And, the Lease-Up team did a great job attracting people who actually want to be neighbors, and not just the quiet unknown people you share walls with.  There's regular events, hosted by management.  The building crew are invested in the building, don't know how, but they care.  Maintenance requests are handled promptly and correctly.  The restaurant on the ground floor just opened.

There are a couple of buildings that are opening up.  I'm not interested in moving, but I wanted to write something about these new places....

La Plaza Village: next to the Gold Line's Chinatown station...the 2B&B description includes "Barn Door"...say no more, I'm curious to see what that's all about.  Check out the pool layout.  Heads up...big pools lead to big parties.  You probably don't remember this article that (hopefully) gave property managers the heebie-geebies. Small pools are boring.  Nothing good comes of large open spaces in apartment buildings. 

Hey, look...while looking for the Heebie-Geebie article, I found this VRBO touting the pool at the rental property.

OliveDTLA is right across from Wren, and there's silly rivalry. The building looks like there's younger-ish residents, the two story apartments look like they have gatherings with interesting programming for lights.  I've seen the stairway doors opened to let in a group of friends.  That says the building is happily busy.  It's nice to have a healthy building rivalry...that means we are all watching each other. Their ground floor will soon have the doggie-day care.  The pool is not on the rooftop, and is a good size to avoid lalaPOOLooza, and is close to the Expo & Blue lines' Pico stop. For those who don't want to drive anymore, it's a no-car friendly neighborhood.

Another close to us property - Axis...there's one on 11th and 12th.  Because there's an Axis on 11th, and and an Axis on 12th - the website is confusing, and you cannot multitask when viewing the website.  Like all these properties, make a list, look at a map, and then make some appointments.  Getting to know property managers AND leasing agents will always be the way to go in DTLA.  Some of my most favorite people in DTLA have been leasing agents who we've followed from Santee Court to PE Lofts.  AND, property managers who started off as leasing agents and now run their own building.  Following lease-ups is really the secret sauce in DTLA.

Circa Hashtag: so pretty but no way can we afford this.  It's got everything you need - Metro bus and rail stops.  Across the street from LA Live, there's bike lanes. Ralphs and Smart and Final. There's restaurants.  I'm sure they'll have a fancy coffee machine in the lobby.  (All the lobbies should have fancy coffee machines in the lobbies when paying more than $2K/month.)

Grace on Spring uses an old AF photo to describe their location.  That's sad.  Another bummer, those with kids...you'll have to talk about what to do with the non-master bedroom...as that's the one with the balcony. But, given how they've lined up their website...they look to pack in a bunch of 30 somethings with dogs.   For reals, look at what I've become.

Okay, fine.  I'm stuck on the couch, and I'm grumpy.  Let me tell you about two places that I've watched and like.  Wakaba and 1000Grand are great options for two different reasons:

Wakaba is in Little Tokyo, and is P E R F E C T for foodies.  There's always going to be a new place nearby, and there's always going to be old standards.  Yes, the neighborhood is currently running down the checklist of how a neighborhood is gentrified.  Nevertheless, you don't need a car, there's transit, scooters, and bikes all over the place. Grand Park is nearby, there's a local library.  The Double Tree is there, stores, Little Tokyo has everything you need. Keep an eye on the floor plans, as one plan has the non-master balcony thing going on.  (On that front, Little Tokyo is home to most of the daycares and preschools in all of DTLA).

1000Grand, I've toured.  We tried to get in, and Wren took us first.  1000Grand has **THE** best rental property closest I've ever seen.  The lobby feels like a brand new Embassy Suite, and the community amenity layout creates a great atmosphere for your tribe's dinner (Small groups, not a 20+gathering).  And, the closet...if you organize your closet, look here first, and then compare this to the rest of your appointments. The balcony is off the living room, so the grownup can rest easy, knowing that your kid won't be able to access the balcony while playing in their room.  Silently.

Wrapping it up.  Another thing I really like about Wren...big huge windows.  Jackie Brown is all about watching the pigeons sitting on the roof next door.  In fact, I think it's driving her crazy that she can't reach out and swipe at one. 

Welcome to DTLA. Let's talk about your car.

Right?  LOL.
Someone new to DTLA isn't going to read this. I don't know how many people read this blog in the first place, let along keep reading it.  Alex and I have been here for a while, but definitely not the longest - however...being that I'm a busy bee, nosy-neighbor type....it makes sense that at some point, I'd write this entry.

When Alex and I first moved to DTLA, we lived at 7th/Los Angeles at Santee Court. The move in was delayed a bunch of times because of rain.  Ley-Jit.  Rain. We moved in, and another winter of rain.  And, it was Bad.   Once it stopped raining, some of the apartments had fuzzy walls.  We were young and stupid.  We didn't realize it was mold.  Whatevs.  That year, Alex and I each had our own car. We were on first name basis with all our neighbors, because we were all new together.

K.  This wasn't the point of this post.  This was...the building that you are moving into ...it was a part of a big lift.  It took a whileProof....  And, you are here now, so welcome! 

And, you need to get rid of your car. 

Please.

You live in DTLA now, and I....as your busy bee, nosy-neighbor have a responsibility to tell you - turn in your car way before the lease is up.  You don't need it any more.  The neighborhood you've moved into...has 1) cars to share, 2) grocery stores all over the place, 3) restaurants all over the place, 4) you've lost all your friends from the westside or valley...and in order to make new friends, you have got to walk around your building, walk around your neighborhood and meet new people.

Having a car will prevent you from building your new neighbor relationships.

I don't want to be the person who just says "do this"....I'll provide you with a walking road map.

1) skim some SoPa history.  You need to know that you are not in The South Park, but rather the South Park neighborhood.

2) Meet the next door neighbors.  When we moved into our second DTLA building...I couldn't figure out how to work the HVAC.  Also, getting to know your neighbors, building a friendly relationship can help to determine what your lease renewal may look like. My example: Art the Ass. Man...that dude was an ass.

3) Your neighborhood has pre-existing conditions.  We are a "wee" short on public restrooms.  We've known if for a while, and there's been efforts to add toilets.  With the number of people coming in, additional public restrooms are needed.

4) You need a tap card. 

5) Read all the news and blogs.  Just google DTLA and start reading.  Do I miss some Eric Richardson and Ed Fuentes reporting on Blogdowntown.  This is pretty much all that's left.

5.1) Don't forget about the Facebook Groups (bonkers.) and twitter.

5.5) The Downtown News Restaurant Guide is something to keep a hard copy of. 

6) That each BID has "clean & safe" teams, and you can tell which neighborhood you are in by the color of the shirts warn.  You'll know you've adopted your neighborhood when you realize that calling the Purple Shirts leads to a faster response (or one at all) from LAPD. 

And, that DTLA has two LAPDs.  If you don't know...man...dang.  Back to #5 you go.

7) There's brunch on Saturday AND Sunday.  And, there's churches in DTLA.  There's also kids.  It's a thing.

8) If you are new to LA...you know that car chases are our "thing"

9) We have two neighborhood councils in DTLA.  There's actually more, but DTLA gets a little insular, and snotty about the DTLA boundaries. 

10) Off the wall things happen in DTLA.  Anime Convention.  Art shows.  Parades (ya dude...there's parades)  Protests, and gatherings of friends who have "one thing led to another" and there's an impromptu gathering of 56,876 bicyclists at 11p on a weeknight. Live in their joy.

All that to say, this blog post went way differently than expected.  Here I was all trying to scare you away from driving your car in DTLA, I hope I've casually convinced you just to turn in that car...and walk on the sidewalk.



Cats, 3 things, and my Eagle Creek bag.


I may have accidentally caused myself to have three different blog entries. One:  I’ve come to a realization that mean people are actually just like cats.  Two: There are three things one needs to be able to do, and if they can do those three things, they should never be without a job.  Three: I’ve lost my Eagle Creek guide bag. 

Number one: Mean people are like cats.  I love Scooter and Jackie Brown, but they have asshole tendencies.  Consider this: inanimate objects in their way are simply pushed off the shelf, without regard to the safety or others around them.  Cats will take a bird, mouse, baby duckling – some other animal –attempt to nearly kill it, and then just create a joyful moment for themselves –as they relish in the pain of another. Finally, cats will fart (silently) waft it about the room, and not care one bit about how you respond to it.  I’m on to you mean people.  I am arming myself with catnip.

Three things: I’ve got a gaggle of interns right now.  I’ve been trying to impress upon them the importance of three things:

>Check the printer before you start work, every morning.  And, top off the paper trays.  You can be that person who pays attention to this detail.  You can be the person who is known at the office who is the team player (because you are filling the paper tray even when you don’t have a computer connected to the printer).  Additionally – you can read all the left behind materials that some person (referenced above) was too careless and left behind. You are schooling yourself on the ins and outs of what people are up to. 

>Know how to send a meeting request to a person.  Six to ten times a week, I decline calendar items because I’m already booked.  Had the person simply known how to check my calendar for availability, we could have meet for 15 minutes today, rather than 15 minutes 8 working days from now.  Know how to send a calendar item, know how to check someone else’s calendar for availability, and get a conference room!  Master your messaging by controlling how the meeting comes together.

>Mail Merge. You say “Ginny, printing letters are so 2005”.  Yes, maybe.  However the fine art of mail merge still is needed.  Knowing how to link your address book to a piece of documentation is still needed.  Added bonus: you can do an email merge with add-ins for Gmail and Outlook.  Again, master the communication path, and you can free yourself to master the actual communication.

My Eagle Creek guide bag went missing on Tuesday. It was a busy day.  I started in my cube, and put the bag on. I went down to the 4th floor – getting the interns settled in for the day.  Had a quick meeting on the 5th floor, ran up to the 19th floor, and back down to the 4th floor.  Then, realized that I had a meeting on the 25th floor.  I’m starting to think I may have left my bag in the East LA room, on the 25th floor.  But then…maybe not.
After the 25th floor, got in the elevator, down to 15.  Ran in to Yvette and traveled with her back to 25.  Then, back to 15th, then 13th floor.  I know I had my bag at lunch. As I remember keeping my work ID and cell phone in the bag.  Plush, I showed Alex that I was carrying the bag again. I got back to the building, headed up to 13, back to 4, then to 13, then 14.  Rounded out my day – 14, 15, 25, 13, 19, 4, 13.  (Note to all: This is why my feet hurt all freaking day)

Then, I realized the next morning that my bag was missing.  In it: a power strip, phone charging cable, and 23 years of memories.  It’s gotta be in the building somewhere. I've been retracing all the conference rooms I've been in, looking around...but maybe I've just passed over it again.  As soon as I find it, I'll attach a Tile to it.

Head Cold

I knew that I was going to get sick during the CRM project. The whole team (with likely the exception of Super Steve) has picked up a head cold.  Of course, I went all extra, and had an allergic reaction to thousands of pieces of fresh printed materials left in my cube.  Added bonus - my IUD was replaced on Friday.  Man.  Being a grown up sucks.

I made a promise to myself that I would focus on "getting better" this year.  Not quite a new years resolution, but a goal to get to the doctor(s),  There's been the dentist, ...you know...I'm not going to recount all of this.  You'll just need to take my word for it.  As a result, there's been a downturn in the total number of times we've been able to go camping, I'm missing Girl Scout meetings.  I'm missing Church things, meetings, and stuff.  I'm working hard to get beyond myself.  So - there's the good and the bad.

Long story short - this is what a functioning person with anxiety and depression looks like.  I snicker, but it's real.  I'm working on myself, and I feel like a lot of people are spending a little bit of their time helping me to work on myself, and I really appreciate it. 

#dtlalove


DTLA is either your favorite ex-girlfriend or your soulmate (sometimes both).  
Alex and I moved to the Fashion District, Memorial Day weekend in 2004. Hal did it.  It was the housing tour. We came because Alex was familiar from his filming crew days, and me...from all the 2000 election protests.

Due to an error in the leasing office, we were given an incorrect move in date, and we lived in the building for a week before the rest of our neighbors moved in.  We spent the week using the model units shower, as the water in the building wouldn’t be turned on until then.  And, I started blogging at Ginny Here and There.

Our first Christmas in DTLA was one to remember.  As we received no gifts from our out of town family and friends.  We soon realized that our mailman was leaving boxes “at the door”, as in the corner of 7th and Los Angeles.  Skid Row enjoyed fresh jams, jellies, canned peas, carrots from my dad’s backyard in Washington State.  No regrets.

Then came the night we found Golden Gopher. I don’t know if that was before or after we decided to partner up with the neighbors and have a big huge multi-loft housewarming.  Then, there was that time we all sat in the courtyard, playing a serious game of pattycake, and Parker Posie and I became BFF for all of 5 minutes.

At the same time, Alex and I switched churches from Santa Monica to DTLA. Our non-DTLA friends, who promised to visit...never came.  And, our world got smaller, and fuller.

We lived on the same street as the Midnight Mission.  I would tell people that I wasn’t upset about the streetlights not working, as the crack pipes light my way.  I have had this long time comfort that since I’m not in DTLA to sell drugs, that I wouldn’t be a target for any crime.  So, I’ve used this unreal and sincere sense that anyone, everyone who calls DTLA home...is my neighbor.

So, imagine my pollyanna sense of bewilderment when I see little kids peeing on the street.  Old men, peeing in the shadows.  Then, watching and old woman pooping on the sidewalk.  I couldn’t imagine having to poop or pee while people just walked by me.  I can’t poop if I know someone could be waiting for my stall.  I heard about toilets getting installed around the City.  Then I heard that a Westside Councilwoman was holding up the install in her district, and as a result - NONE of the Automatic Public Toilets (APTs) would be installed in any of the other districts.  

There was this blog - BlogDowntown.  Eric and Ed...they were the hot beat reporters.  Man..these were the days.

And, then we moved to PE Lofts.  Mostly because back then (like again now) you could hop from place to place, taking advantage of lease-up opportunities.  We followed the “lease up” team to PE Lofts, met MORE people who would become lifelong neighbors (cough...Alexandra, Alexie, Hanna, , the punk-ass kid who stole my favorite white towels, and the all important Art The Ass). I ran for neighborhood council, on two planks… Work to get “Dash after dark” and these dang APTs.  

I got onto DLANC, I met Don Garza, TK, Bytof, Celia, Jim, Ben, and tons more. Rocco, Jessica,  DLANC...Frank, Coach Ron, Russ, Russell,  Anastasia, , Neal, Amanda, Ken, Michael, Brady, Victor, Leslie Taplin, General Jeff, OG, and omg.  So Many more people. 

Then, I was working on this project - Regional Connector...and I met EVEN MORE people.  And then, all the sudden I was 6 months pregnant, had to move to a new apartment...our first time into the infamous Barry Shy property.  

Alex and I found ourselves very much feeling all alone in DTLA...Until I realized that another group of people would be joining our world...parents.  Hat tip to Chinmaya, Simon, Amany, Alisa, and more.

Then, Rotary...and who can forget the time Dearden’s asked us to visit, and provide feedback on what the new “lofters” wanted.  I hate that word.  Lofters...the misconception that all these people moving into DTLA only lived in lofts. 

And, there we were...a kid...in a loft.  In DTLA.  People kept asking if we were moving. Almost as often as when they’d ask if I was going to have more children.  (No on both). Sure, we’ve moved a couple more times (Financial District, Union Station adjacent, and now in South Park).  We’ll be forever renters (thanks Student Loans), and this is just where we belong.

The challenge with having a child in DTLA isn’t so much the location of a school, access to childcare, or where does she play outside.  The challenge with having a child in DTLA is that my family is often described like a novelty.  Like we are something unexpected in DTLA.  We love DTLA more than she loves us.  And, I’m just fine with that. Sure, there’s real inequities in how we treat each other. There’s a stigma attached to those who appear to be too well off, or live on the street.  Our neighborhood is quick to judge, and slow to appreciate.

And, in all of this, there’s a glory. (Watch out, here comes the soapbox). DTLA is a small town, in a big city.  We find a way to rely on each other - it may be through a boozy-brunch, coffee time, a stroll...or in a serious time of reflection.  The cranky offsets the beauty.  The horrors of mental illness can make way for a bright spot of relief.

DTLA - this is the neighborhood that just keeps taking it in.  This is a neighborhood of yes.  Yes, density, yes - to more people.  Yes - to people who care, who want to build a community of Yes.  A community of open hearts, minds, and souls.  This neighborhood loves me, and this neighborhood has the capacity to love you even more.



How it started.

1) I asked for this.  So, none of this is complaining.

We've been rolling out the CRM project. The whole effort started when my department started reviewing their current CRM to find out they were X#versions behind.  Through a couple of short conversations, we started the task to figure out what's next.  We did a long list of options, then a short list of options.  Then...the WHOLE Department was included in the effort.  I went from finding a CRM for 50 people, to finding something that would fit the needs of 200+ people.

The working group was formed.  At least one person from each of the business units.  (Imagine scheduling these meetings).

I'm a huge believer in small meetings that last no longer than 30 minutes.  The working group was easily over 15 people, and scheduled for 60 minutes.  #notmycomfortlevel.

Poolside Blogging

We continued emptying boxes this weekend.  And, my favorite inlaws came all the way from Santa Monica to go to church, eat brunch, see our new place, and hang out on the Metro with us.  The weekend moved fast.  Yesterday there was a BBQ over at the long-time kinda-neighbors, but now we are in the same mini-neighborhood.  This was a very social weekend.  In the course of my recovering depression, it was a very full weekend, and I think I came out unscathed.  If anything, Alex and Iolani have a renewed taste for getting out of the house more.  Yikes.  They want to get out of the house more.  Okay.  Fine. We can get out of the house more.

At this moment (8:49p.m.) we are sitting poolside.  Alex and Iolani are on the large cabana couch, and I'm sitting next to them.  I told Alex I didn't want to sit on the cabana couch, as I was blogging.  Iolani replied..."Vlogging?".  No - Blogging.  "It's what people did before video blogging".

The important thing is that I'm sitting outside the house, after a really busy weekend of seeing people, being around people, and I'm just full of deep, unaffected sighs.  No, really.  I'm fine.  I'm just reminding myself to take a breath.  Breathe.

My goals this week (Outside of that million dollar project I'm working on) are focused on finding the power cord for the roomba.  The extra cord and stylus for the surface. And, getting Iolani's closet set up.  Inside work...this weekend was the end of a big sprint. This coming sprint is the end of the "Hurry up and get the email distribution system in place" sprint.  May and June are big H U G E months for the CRM.  And, for the first time, this past week - I felt like we-all are in the same book, reading at different speeds...looking to get onto the same page. 

So, back to explaining blogs to the kid....

The Sixth Time

Before Iolani, Alex and I moved on a very regular basis.  So regular, that we had unpacked boxes from one AND two previous moves.  Those who’ve followed us through the years know that we’ve been in the Fashion District (Santee Court), Historic Core “lite” (Pacific Electric), Historic Core “hard” (SB Manhattan, Financial District (Pegasus), Olvera/Historic Cultural (Mozaic), and now, South Park (Wren). For as much as this is one downtown, there are bunch of mini communities in each, and they each have a distinct personality. 

Will we ever make it to Chinatown, Bunker Hill, Little Tokyo, Arts District, City West? Eh, dunno.  This isn’t really the intent behind each of these moves.  Most of the time, these moves are out of necessity.  As renters, we are dependent on the economy’s breath.  Deep breath in, makes everything tight.  The incentives for moving or renewing are nil. Deep breath out, and you’ll see the silliness of three months free, gift cards, and 18-month leases.  Oh, how I long lease terms.

Here we are. I didn’t think we’d ever move to South Park.  There’s a perception that South Park is the wealthier part of town. I never considered it as an option.  When all the rents in DTLA are bonkers, South Park makes the list.  Until a week ago, I’d never walked around much, not familiar with the stores, food places, and all important liquor stores.

I’ve never lived in a neighborhood where the growth is so pronounced.  When you get off the Pico station, walk to the house – the buildings you pass by are like this: 2 story w/ Liquor store, 6 story new apartment building, 2 story w/ Liquor store, 6 story new apartment building, 2 story w/ Liquor store, 6 story new apartment building.  I might have too many of something in there, but it’s either more liquor store who survived previous attempts to build out the are – or more apartments that are in various stages of their first lease-up.

The big difference for me – which I see as a celebration…trees!  The variety  of trees in South Park is amazingly refreshing. Then, you have the swales. Who doesn’t like a solid swale. 

I’ll get use to this. 



tap tap. Is this thing on?

Looks like the last post was in January. Like every year, plenty has happened.  Iolani has grown into preteen world.  Alex and I realized that we've been together for over 15 years, seems like a bat of an eye.  

There's been a lot of hiking, camping, and a new venture....RVing.  I didn't think I'd be the RVing kind of person.  But, as I get older (and creakier) and do more camping with the girl scout troop, RVing seems like a huge luxury.  So, we tried it...loved it.  

The part of RVing that I love the most?  Done right, the moment you are off work, you are done!  You toss the city to the side (or rather, leave behind in your mirror) and you are done.  At the campground.  

Work has been busy, as it should.  There's been plenty of small transitions, new programs, new ways to manage a moment, and everyone's tossing what they can against the wall to see what sticks. I feel like we are making significant headway towards managing the message, rather than trying to manage a moment.  There's no part of me that's not optimistic that we are working together to the same thing.

Outside of work, it's been a huge year of up-ups, and down-downs.  The up, is the arrival of Pastor Mandy (!!!), which embodies a significant expenditure on my part.  I didn't realize it until her arrival, but the moment she arrived, I was able to exhale.  

And then, Grandpa Bob passed away.  Alex Milton Chi passed away.  Others have passed away.  I've been preparing for Grandpa Bob's passage, but then once it happened, I found myself not prepared, and rocked beyond belief.  And, I've found myself grieving in a way that has caused me to just hide.  It takes a lot to get me out of the house, around people, even to the grocery store.  I'm still trying every day, and I'm pretty sure outside of this blog post, only Alex sees what this has done, and how I'm struggling to get my center back.

But, I'm fighting to get there.  And, I feel like I have a world of supporters at every turn.

My growth this year can be described as the first year I've felt like others around me can "handle it". It sounds condescending, and as if I didn't think the world around me could withstand what I've been going through in my head and heart.  And, here I am. It's easy to say and hear "Let me know what I can do to help" or "what can I do to help", and I'm at the point where I trust every bit of humanity around me to be able to do this.  And, I am so thankful, grateful, and warmed in my heart - that I believe it.  

I miss Blogging

I've said it before - Facebook and Twitter killed my blog.  But, I feel like I'm coming full circle.  I'm back to talking in more than 140 characters.  I don't want to be full of "Articles I read".  I want to pull back the curtain on what appears to be a very full life.

Not Busy.  But, very full.

I'm at a point in my life where people are with me for 15 to 30 minutes at a time - face to face - and then go back to being an email address or some social media handle.  I've been struggling with how to be in the moment, but also how can I extend the moment to make this moment live on just a little longer.

I might not be able to update as regularly as I want.  But - I don't want GH&T to cease.  I miss my blog.  Let's give it a breath.

On The Edge

I’ve been at the California-Pacific Conference - the Annual Conference at the University of Redlands.  It’s the conference that I felt that FUMCLA needed to have a presence if we wanted to convince the Conference that our church was viable.  And, this is what I’ve figured out: Not only are we viable, but we are vibrant.  We are a growing congregation, and are twitchy with excitement.

I’ve been upset, distraught, angry, sad, and then I’m here now. Two days ago I felt like I had to force the feeling that our Church was going to be okay.  But, now I have a much better sense that FUMCLA will continue to grow.  

We’ve spent years (even before the Brideaus arrived in DTLA in 2004) on congregation building, working with church-growth consultants offered by the district to make sure we were welcoming, that we could be confident in asking people to come to church on Sunday. We spent years counteracting nature: older congregants just up and died, and we couldn’t replace members with new members fast enough.  

So here we are.  Many of us have sacrificed spiritual growth for the sake of building actual walls of our own that would support our spiritual growth. And, I’m tired.  

Whatever our path forward will be needs to honor the history and the intent of FUMCLA.  Our doors can't close, but we might not be the big huge suburban-like church. It probably won't have much of a parking lot. And, we likely won't be alone in our space. That's fine. As long as the Urban Foundation, Kid City, and all the ministries of FUMCLA are intact, I will sleep soundly.

Bishop and Superintendent Making The DTLA Trip

Tomorrow night, our church will be visited by the Bishop and Superintendent to discuss the upcoming change in status of our church.  I’ve been a member of FUMCLA ever since Alex and I moved to Santee Court way back in 2004.  I remember when he told me we should try out the church, especially since it was the church his grandmother was a longtime member.  It was much smaller than Santa Monica FUMC, but there was a draw.

I grew up without a church.  It just wasn’t a thing we did, we celebrated Christmas and Easter - but I didn’t know really what we were celebrating.  When we visited Grandpa Bob and Marian, we’d attend church with them.  But, it wasn’t a thing. Only after living and pushing myself through a bunch of things 20-year olds often do, did I realize that I didn’t have go through life alone.  Even after baptism, I didn’t have a church - Until Alex took me to his church of Santa Monica FUMC.  It was instant!  Being so far away from my family, I felt like I could see again what all kinds of stages of life could look like.  

When we moved into Downtown Los Angeles,  we just figured we’d continue attending Santa Monica FUMC.  The drive on Sunday wasn’t that bad.  But then came that one morning...Alex went to FUMCLA, and I stayed home.  (I likely went over to the Flower Market, since it was right behind the building)  He came home and talked about the pastor, and the diversity of people.  I went the next week with him, and he was right.  Santa Monica UMC is diverse, but FUMCLA had something that I’d never seen before.  Sure, families from other continents, countries, cultures, and I mean everything.  No two people (even family members) had a similar life story.  Everyone was at different points in their life, different experiences with their church, relationship with God, just everything was different.

Hooked.  But Hooked too late?

The church was in transition.  Having torn down their building, they were meeting in a multipurpose room.  The talking tone made it seem that our location was very temporary, and that a new building was imminent.  Like a woman just moments about to deliver a baby...kind of imminent.  This has been the longest labor.

We’ve had reboots, Messy Church, open invitations, invitations and invitations, and engagement.  We’ve lost pastors who’ve dedicated their entire being to helping us to rebuild our congregation. The excitement when someone walks in the door - every single time - is still there.  Not because we’ve hung our hat on thinking maybe this will be the person to save our church, but rather “What will this person add to our story”.

That’s where we’ve failed to grow our church, we got caught up on the value of each individual person. We were caught in the emotion of every single person, which meant that we were too slow. We value the quality of the individual relationship, not the quantity of relationship.  My friends and family - I want you to know that regardless of our church’s definition - we failed to grow our church in numbers.  We grew hearts and minds. 

We failed to put people in church on Sunday morning.  We failed to maintain the status quo on the long-held tradition that “Church” only happens on Sunday.

But, you know where we did not fail… we have not failed in our love for one another, we have not failed to love every single person who’s crossed our threshold of our vision of church.  We have not failed in showing God’s love for anyone.  We have not failed in spreading the Good Words, we have not failed in opening our doors and opening our hearts.  We have not failed those who’ve questioned, cried, or were angry over God’s treatment. We have not failed Kid City, Girl Scouts, our friends at Villa Flores or Hope Village.  We have not failed the food bank, and we have not failed those who use the food bank.  We have not failed DTLA, and we won’t ever have to fail our brothers and sisters.  

I’m broken hearted right now.  I’m welling up with tears every time I think that I won’t see some of these people ever again.  But, then I’m reminded...Church...my friends...does not ONLY happen on Sunday.  I’m just stuck on the decades old tradition that FUMCLA has, the stories of our lives, the stories the walls could tell.  

Long Day

It was very odd NOT to be working the Gold Line opening today.  Almost everyone (with the exception of a couple people...more on that in a moment) from Metro worked the Gold Line opening today (they are likely still working it because the activities don't end until 4p). Here's my day:

6A: Woke up.  It's a nature thing.  I can't sleep in.  I try all the time, but 6A comes, and I'm ready to go.

6:05A: Jackie and Scooter realize that I'm awake.  They aggressively begin to wonder why I haven't fed them yet.

6:06A: Fine.  Out of bed, feed the cats.  Scurry back to bed and begin reading news and email.

8A: Iolani begins to stir. Twenty seconds later she's up, seeking breakfast and Saturday cartoons.

9A: Iolani begins meltdown over clothes, socks, and shoes.  Takes a breath and continues meltdown over shoes.  The issue: She doesn't want any of her shoes to get dirty.

10A: We are to be at the Spring Street Community Garden.  We are still at the house, arguing over shoes.  Ultimatum given: Get your shoes on, or I will put your shoes on you.

10:01A: Shoes on.  Uber on the way.

10:15A: Arrive SSCG.  Meet up with Cadettes and two other Brownies, and attached grown-ups.  The ground was leveled, there was dirty dancing, giggling.  But, we got hungry.

Noon: We walked down to Koraku for lunch.  We inhaled food.  Then, magically a co-worker from the Regional Connector team appears.  Fine...I texted her to let her know we were eating lunch.

1:15P: We rolled into the Little Tokyo Library to crash the TBM workshop that the Regional Connector team was hosting.  How much fun!  The girls get tired of me saying "Oh, a station here!  A station there!" It's nice for them to hear it from someone else.

2P: Depart library.  We are all going our separate ways. Iolani and I head off to the JPV, buy a Hello Kitty thing, and head off to the grocery store.  We need to make a fruit salad for church tomorrow.

Oh, and I bought a can of coffee.

>please hold while I get that can of coffee<

Ah.  Coffee.

We finished at the grocery store, hopped the shuttle from Little Tokyo back to Union Station.  I attempted small talk with a couple of older folks who were obviously on their way back to one of the new Gold Line stations.

4P: Back at the house. I bribe Iolani with a bottle of soda that I bought, in exchange for her putting away the 567,987 pairs of shoes she dragged out of her room earlier in the day. I succeed.  She's also conned me into making her toast.  She knows that I bought white bread at Japanese grocery store.  She's got a soft spot for this bread.

I've got a night of fruit cutting and prepping for Girl Scout Sunday.  It's been a long cookie season, we have a couple of cases left over, which I'm not stressing about.

Obviously, I'm not stressed about cookies.  I mean, I haven't posted a blog entry since last May.

Daisy to Brownie...

This week our little girl goes from Daisy to Brownie.  Eh, any girl going from 1st to 2nd grade can do that...that's true. But, we are talking about Iolani!  :-)

From the first time she put on that little blue uniform, I hoped that she would be as excited as I was to get back into Girl Scouts.  Aaaaaaaaaaaand - she wasn't.  We spent most of last year toughing it out through meetings.  She'd cry in the corner, so upset that she had to share her mom with A LOT (A LOT) of girls. Then, her friend Melissa joined and it was starting to click.

Of course, the weekend came when I went camping with the Brownies and Juniors and she couldn't go.  "Girl Scout Cheating" she said.

Iolani's getting older, and the change from blue to brown is an amazing thing. Iolani has LDS (Leader's Daughter Syndrome), and she is figuring out how to cope with it. I'm going to cry at the ceremony on Thursday.  No Doubt.

I'm gonna cry because all these girls are getting older, bigger, smarter, stronger....  And, being selfish for just a moment...I'm going to cry because had I not started 16155, I've never would have met all these parents, with all these kids, and have done all the awesome things we've done.  I'm so very proud of all the things every one of the girls has accomplished in the last three "Girl Scout" years.


Urban Hike Wrap Up

You know it was a long day if...as soon as we get home, Iolani makes a bee-line for her bed. I look up and she's fussing with her sheets.  The Girl is O. U. T. Out.

It started last year with me wanting the Juniors to take the Daisies on a hike. Not knowing if the Daisies were ready for a hike in the woods (or more like the Juniors ready for the woods), I opted to have them lead an "urban hike" from Pershing Square to Grand Park. The hike was a wild success, and I vowed to do it again. I set the date back in October, the Girl Scout Council ended up scheduling their big volunteer appreciation and property vote on top of it.  Can't win them all.

So, I started to talk it up, pulled together a map, and did the whole Facebook event thing. Crossposting on the DTLA and Girl Scout groups. I had about 15 RSVPs.

It happened today.

We had over 50 people (mostly the under 18 crowd) show up. It was perfect.  We met at Fig@7th, picked because there is parking, clean restrooms and a food court.  The Downtown Center BID provided us with beautiful maps, and it allowed me to show off where we were going, not going, and what to do if they got lost.  The girls were really taken with the maps, as it showed off the Fashion District, Toy District, Little Tokyo, and Chinatown. (For next year - maybe we can venture to the other parts of DTLA over a series of spring weekends!?!?)

We made our way to Pershing Square, Spring Street Park, and then to Gelateria Uli.

Yes. We took the whole group for Gelato! The girls were awesome. We may have set the bar for other large groups to visit Uli's shop.  Huge hat tip to Uli...we showed up about an hour before the usual opening time.  That woman has a heart of gold....

We ended up running late and missed out on the Grand Central Market (although I think a troop broke off and got the GCM food without us. >wink<)

Next stop!  Biddy Mason Park. By this point the girls were hot, tired, and ready for Grand Park.  But there's always time for a little big of Los Angeles history about an amazing African American Woman who is still a stellar example for what it means to use resources wisely and to help others.

Then came the scramble up 2nd Street to Disney Hall, with the amount of sidewalk available that's free of automobile traffic, the girls had a chance to race up (UP) the hill.  We met at the intersection of the Colburn School of Music, The Broad, and Disney Music Hall. What an amazing corner!

We went around the backside of Disney Hall, to arrive at Grand Park. The girls made wise use of the water fountain, had lunch down at the PicnicDTLA, and then began to peel off to go home.  We had troops who took the Metrolink'd in, traveled by Metro, car, and walked.  It was just so much fun, and I thank everyone...sincerely for making this happen.

It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it's true:

"How many girls does it take to start a Girl Scout Troop?"

Answer: none.  It takes three adults.  There are hundreds of girls waiting to join a Girl Scout Troop, but can't because the grown-ups won't step forward. Sure, it takes a couple of hours a month, but it can be incorporated into your day.  

20% Chance of rain

Weather broadcasters have the life.  I know I'm not the first one to say this.  

We woke up in our tent on Saturday morning to the start of rain.  I figured it would just be a quick morning sprinkle, enough to clean the tent. 

Nope, we had a full 24 hours of rain.  The tent is currently all mud.  Along with a tarp, rain fly, and footprint. 

And, I forgot the pots, pans, plates, and spoons. 

But...the tent never leaked, and we found paper plates and reusable forks and spoons.  My work water bottle (steel) was great for boiling water.  Saturday's dinner was salmon..grilled.  

The weekend was ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhesome!

Ginny Here and There is TEN YEARS OLD!!!


I started this blog ten years ago.  I wasn’t on Facebook or Twitter, Myspace was boring, and I had a solid job in Pasadena.  I used the blog to push out my ideas, articles I found interesting, and documented our move to Downtown Los Angeles.  Ten years…dang.  Ten years seems like such a long time, and when I think about what the last ten years has been like…it really has been a long trip.

Look back and see what the last ten years of my life has been.  Giggle all you want, but it is all very real.















FTW...Sorry.

People think I'm sooooo internet savvy.  I don't claim it, it just happened.  For a long time I thought "FTW" meant "For The Win!", mostly because I confirmed it via the internet.

However, as I was delivering @msiolani to school the other day, I passed by a new construction sign.

And as I got  closer to the sign, I realized that FTW in this case...was a different "W".

Closer:

So - for the first time in a long time...I'm really sorry for any of the "FTW"s I've posted in the past.  100% of the time I really meant "For The Win" and not "Eff the World".



The bittersweet of it


Gerry and Mom

Facebook is a humbling experience for me. At my fingertips and mouse clicks, I have curated a series of moments of joy, sadness, gratefulness, spite, anger, and sheer heartbreak. It is an amazing feat.  Post after post, even when it is just a simple sharing of another article, there’s a momentary connection with someone.

My mother and her partner died 20 years ago.  I’ve long accepted her death, but I’ve never accepted that her spirit is gone.  I’ve never accepted that this aura of my mom is just “poof, gone”.  I’m humbled when in the moments when I think she would have enjoyed seeing what the world is today.  

Twenty is a big number.  Two decades.  Twenty years ago,  I was fresh out of high school, just into college.  All the things I’ve seen and done in the years since, I’m thankful I don’t have to explain. I continue to have my entire future to decide on whether or not that is a good thing. 

For those of us who have lost their mothers, and they’ve been told the pain never goes away, it just gets easier to deal with.  Twenty years, and if I’m having an off day…my tears can still run as if I’ve just been told of her passing moments ago. It isn’t pain that I feel, I feel the loss, a missed opportunity to have something I might have wanted. 

My mom was a hot mess, but she was the hot mess for three kids. She was our hot mess. 

Sometimes these blog entries get personal.  I’ve long since been good with that, mostly because I’ve already been comforted by others, having been told they feel the loss as well.  No use in hiding the emotion in the loss that I feel.


Circling back to Facebook. Through my updates, pictures, posts by others, I see how life is just amazing.  Watching Alex and Iolani hike (and going back to the pictures at the end of the day), Troop meetings, REI trips, ground breakings, construction updates…here is the testament on how to move forward, but not necessary moving on.

1st Grade

Of course @MsIolani starts 1st grade tomorrow.  Every time I get a little "Time Hop" update, I'm reduced to quick little tears - and I can't say "where has the time gone".  I know where the time has gone.  I understand why there are weepy parents out there, but I also understand the joys of sending the kid back to school after a summer of juggling childcare, lunches, sunburns, and the savior Netflix.

"Mom, don't you wish you had my life?" she says to me.  And, while we were standing in Disneyland for the 10th time this year, I realized that I don't have her life, and I wouldn't want her life. 

Don't get me wrong, she has a wonderful life.  She gets to do a lot of fun things, she gets to see things that most kids don't get to see until they bounce the nest and head off to college.  

But the other side to this life is what I loathe.  She  knows that Mom or Dad will pick her up, but she doesn't know which one. She doesn't know if dinner will be at home tonight, or out because I might have an evening meeting. I might come home in a rush, hop on one last conference call, or answer a slew of emails before I can give her my full attention.

It isn't a pity party.  It is her life, it isn't mine.  And, I admire her greatly for living it. 

Thank You!

About a year ago I set out to form a Daisy troop for my daughter.  We hosted an information night and had a couple people turn out.  The second information night we hosted, we netted about 50 sign ups.  Our first meeting…we had nearly 60 girls - from Kindergarten to High School.  The troop split into a second troop, but Girl Scout Troop 16155 remains in Downtown.
We just finished our first season of cookie sales.  Our goal was just to sell cookies, and we really didn’t know how many boxes of cookies our neighbors would eat.  Cookie preorders totaled nearly FOUR THOUSAND boxes of cookies.  During boothing, you purchased nearly THREE THOUSAND boxes of cookies.  And, amazingly enough…some of you were told that we ran out of cookies.  And we did.  

So - my heartfelt “THANK YOU!!!” on behalf of myself, our troop goes out to all of you, especially Amanda Leon, Miguel Vargas, Patrice Hopper, Vivian Um, Rich Jesmer, Blair Besten, Ace Hotel, Escondite, Ralphs, to the many I forgot to call specific attention to, and to the parents of the Girl Scouts of Troop 16155.  

With everyone’s hard work and dedication to their sweet tooth, 21 girls (because the Daisies can’t camp yet) will have the opportunity to go camping in May…many for the first time. Further to that, many of the girls secured additional cookie awards that provide them with summer camp scholarships.  

Again, Thank You so very much for supporting Girl Scout Troop 16155. 

Sincerely, 

Ginny Brideau
Troop Leader

Girl Scout Troop 16155  

How To Join The Girl Scout Troop

One thing about Girl Scout cookies that I really like, the parents who approach the cookie booth NOT (just) to buy cookies, but to ask how their daughters can join DTLA Girl Scout Troop 16155, and now you have a way!  Visit https://www.facebook.com/Gs16155, download the registration form, fill it out, and email it back. We'll call you to follow up!

SCAG Listening Session

Notice of Public Listening Session:
Southern California Association of Governments Federal Certification Review
A Public Listening Session is scheduled for Wednesday, February 5, 2014 to receive input on how to improve the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) region’s transportation planning process.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will be conducting the certification review and evaluation of the region’s transportation planning process carried out by SCAG and its partners. Every four years the FHWA and FTA jointly conduct this review. As part of the review, the public is invited to comment on the transportation planning process at the following public meeting:
February 5, 2014, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. 
SCAG 
818 West 7th Street, 12th Floor
Policy Committee Room B 
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Oral and written comments may be presented at the meeting. Written comments may also be sent via e-mail to cert.review@dot.gov, or by regular mail to:
Mr. Michael Morris 
FHWA Cal-South Office 
888 S. Figueroa, Suite 750, Los Angeles, CA 90017

OR
Mr. Ted Matley 
FTA Region IX 
201 Mission Street, Suite 1650, San Francisco, CA 94105
Public written comments will be accepted through Friday, February 21, 2014. For additional information about the SCAG federal certification process, or the February 5, 2014 public listening session, please dial 213-894-4014.

We Went Camping!

Growing up we used to spend a lot of time at Twanoh State Park, a lot of time.  It was about 20 minutes away from the house.  The three of us kids had our own tent, we ran around the campground, to the beach, and back again.  I loved camping growing up.

This past weekend we went camping for the first time!  We went to Sycamore Canyon, spent two nights and three days taking in the days. Highlights of the trip:

  • Making a bow from a tent guide line and a big bendy twig Iolani located
  • Making the arrow for the bow, and showing Iolani how to use a pocket knife
  • Watching Alex light the campfire
  • Coffee in the morning
  • Spending Saturday night in the tent with Iolani, singing quiet camp songs
  • Only cell service was by The PCH and not in the campground
  • The saturday day hike up, up, and some more up
  • Meeting our camping neighbors
  • Tent Envy!
  • Coming home smelling like campfire

Not the highlight of the trip:
  • Burning myself on a hot pot (WTF Ginny)
  • Cold nights in our 40 degree sleeping bag
  • The first 15 minutes of the up up up hike, with Iolani complaining her legs her.  But then she saw the view, and all was right with the world
  • The car battery died
  • Losing **All** of the pictures off the camera
Yes - all the pictures off the camera.  Which means...we have to do the trip again so I can be extra careful when making the transfer.

Thank you very much Container Store Guy

Over the weekend Alex decided that we needed a new approach to managing our laundry.  We would need to go to The Container Store, specifically the one in Pasadena.  We headed to Pasadena at about fish, with Iolani opting not to take an afternoon nap.  So - she's tired.  She's cranky....  Not ideal for going outside the house.

At TCS, Alex is split between two floors.  Iolani is a hot mess wanting to touch e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g., driving me bonkers.  I mention to her that Afloat Sushi is right around the corner, and that if she can get a hold of herself, that maybe we could eat dinner out, rather than heading home to turkey pot pies.

And then, SUDDENLY - a well-meaning TCS employee shows her at $15 pair of joke glasses. Glasses with little fake windshield wipers. Fifteen dollars. (Please keep in mind that we *might* have just dropped about $50 at Urban Outfitters and in Little Tokyo on Hello Kitty stickers).  As she and I are wondering around the store, I'm trying to lose the wiper glasses.  I was successful in leaving the wiper glasses somewhere on the second floor when she was distracted with pink laundry baskets.

When it came time to check out, Iolani was starting to whine and then she remembered her wiping glasses.  And, like water in the desert...the clerk ringing us up asked if we had their customer card.

Of course we don't.  But - one uses the iPad to sign up.  And - who could be distracted with the iPad so that we don't have to witness a meltdown AND we didn't have to buy the wiper glasses. 

IOLANI!!!!!!

So - Iolani was sitting on the counter three days before Christmas...typing in her first name, last name, email address, phone number, zip code...and then I entered in just the street address, city, and state.  It took a little bit, and I kept apologizing to the clerk...and he was not just okay with our little debacle...he was all smiles.  It seem so sincere, he was seriously all smiles and calm, cool, and was just so supportive of the "good lesson" we were teaching.

We finished up, I turned back to thank everyone for their patience...and there was not a happy face in the whole line.  But, the guy who checked us out...man....oh man...you saved our night.  Thank you.

From: SAN ZeroWasteLA [mailto:zerowastela@lacity.org]
Sent: Monday, December 09, 2013 3:37 PM
To: undisclosed-recipients
Subject: Zero Waste LA Franchise System Survey

The City of Los Angeles is transitioning to a new waste and recycling system for all businesses and large multifamily dwellings (including apartment complexes and condos). The goals of our new system – a franchise program called Zero Waste LA – include:

·         Higher Recycling (90% diversion from landfills by 2025)

·         Reduced Street Impacts and Cleaner Air

·         Fair Customer Rates

·         Superior Customer Service

Zero Waste LA will not affect single family home residents – or those currently serviced by the City of LA. 

You can help the Bureau of Sanitation gather information as to what we should expect and require of participating waste haulers.  Your input is vital to make sure the system best meets customer and neighborhood needs.  Please help by completing the online survey, simply select from the following links or visit our website at www.san.lacity.org





The City has provided a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).  Please visit our website at www.san.lacity.org for updates to the FAQs

You may also visit our website at www.san.lacity.org for more information. Please e-mail us at zerowastela@lacity.org or call (213) 485-2260 with any questions.



 

--

Thank you for contacting

Solid Resources Citywide Recycling Division
Bureau of Sanitation
City of Los Angeles



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