Our Holiday Season

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know that we got and lost Ferb (the cat) in a very short amount of time.  We were not expecting to have to explain "death" to our child quite so soon.  It's like that last bit of innocence before she becomes a real human being, who has learned how to love someone and then to lose them...and to have it happen during the holiday season.  Oh, man.  Take a deep breath, do a gut check, and just be thankful that the month is nearly over.

For as quick as this year went, this holiday season dragged on.  Not in a bad way, but it seemed like the holiday season started as soon as the Halloween candy went stale.  No wait...the Halloween candy is still here and isn't stale yet.  I hope that our house sticks to the Nordstrom approach of not talking about Christmas until after Thanksgiving.  Thank God for Nordstrom.

In any case, Ferb...We are pretty sure that he had FIP.  He had all the symptoms, and thanks to friends...and a very supportive team at the Eagle Rock Emergency Pet Clinic, everyone was able to put Ferb's needs and feelings first. The EREPC staff was just so warm to Ferb, myself, and my need to text back and forth with my husband, my friend in AZ, and tweet my absolute anguish. 

Ferb was Iolani's cat. For the rare moments he felt well, he would sleep with Iolani.  When they would end up going "Number 2" at the same time, Iolani would howl about who made the larger stink.  I think we were all under the impression that Ferb just really liked being around us.  

Having to explain why the cat would not be coming home from the emergency room was daunting.  Answering the questions of why? Was it the Christmas Tree water? When will he come back? Then came the ultimate tearjerk "Who will be my best friend now?"

Oh my God.  If your eyes haven't welled up yet...then give me a call and you can hear my voice.  

It has been two days since Ferb's passing.  She asked again this morning for the exact location of Ferb.  My response has become steady and direct: Ferb got sick, the doctor couldn't fix him, we found out that he was sick even before he came to live with us, he's up in heaven.  

She asked if she could have a dog, noting "dogs don't get sick and die".  I quickly broke the news to her that dogs get sick and die too.  Then, she asked for a white cat.  (I'm thinking to myself...a white short-haired cat will be so hard to find!).  After I didn't respond to her, she said "And take him to the doctor to make sure he doesn't have Ferb Flu".

I replied: "Yes - I promise that if we get another cat, I will have it checked for Ferb Flu".  A $300+ test

We headed out to Pasadena for her to ride her bike.  Over at Central Park she had long stretches where she could be a good distance from me, and yet I could have full view of her.  She was just looking up at the sky, taking in the moment.  Going as fast as she could on her little bike.  Historically, she will ride for 10-15 minutes and call it a day.  We were gone for over 4 hours, with a quick stop for lunch.  She just wanted to ride her bike.  

see you

GH&T readers know that at the end of the year I tend to do these “lookbacks” to the highs and lows from the year.  I was thinking about needing to write this entry, and I’ve decided to not look back.  The year was what it was. It was a year of “It will get better”.  

I spent this year shoulder deep in work, relationships, and not a lot of baseball.  I spent a lot of this year unintentionally reconnecting with people who add a tremendous amount to my life, while at the same recognizing the love and value of the people around me.  

Without a doubt, I can say that I have a great life.  It isn’t perfect, and it shouldn’t be.  Perfect is something nice to strive for, but for some reason it seems to be just too much to reach for. Like you, I have days of rainbows, glitter, and puffy clouds.  And, like you...I have days of fuck, shit, argh, damnit, and something I would describe as  a “momentary emotional outburst that involve tears”.   At the conclusion of said “momentary emotional outbursts” I think to myself “It will get better”, dust myself off and get on with it.

(I swear on a stack of bibles, this is going somewhere)

You know, I walk through Union Station at least two times a day.  I have the opportunity to pass at least 50 people every time.  I often think to myself that I should put my phone away and look up, make eye contact with as many people as possible...because I want people to know that I see them.  I see you.  Not like a security, creepy kind of thing, but when you consider how many people you might pass in a day and not say hello...but just pass them in the hall...I can’t help but think about how many people go through their day and only get their recognition as a human being one or two times a day.  

And, that’s it...that is my point.  The project of “it gets better” was just a start.  The next step literally must be “You are not alone”

My friends...You Are Not Alone, and further - you are not invisible.  You might be stuck behind the big espresso machine, commuting, in the midst of crossing the street...you’ll see me...and I’ll look to make eye contact with you so that you know that I see you.

2012 Video Yearbook

2012 - it has been real.  :-)
This is the mobile version of the video.  If you want the real think, check out Facebook.

No more Nice Mommy

It has been quite the weekend.  I had high hopes on Friday, when Iolani made the Union Station Pilgrimage without the use of the stroller. She wanted to be seen wearing her backpack, she was full of conversation about what she was expecting of the day.  When I picked her up that evenings, we traveled home - sans stroller.  I'm thinking we are dee Ohhh Ennnn EEEE with the stroller.  Let's see how Monday morning goes.

Saturday afternoon, Alex and I found ourselves knee deep in the discussion about Discipline.  We are a no-spank house, we haven't really been successful in using timeouts.  We have been good about just saying "go to your room".  In fact, when she thinks she's done something wrong, often times she will just go to her room on her own.

So, when her attitude blatantly ignores Alex - and I'm supplied with "But but but but but...Mommy...." I think we were both at a loss of what to do.

And, then...this afternoon while we were at the theater watching Nutcracker...imagine our horror...ABSOLUTE HORROR...when our child no only is antsy at the theater, but then begins a meltdown/tantrum in the middle of the theater. At least 40 other people didn't have to imagine it - they lived it.  We had to leave.  We LEFT the theater.  We had a talk outside the theater about how Daddy was really looking forward to the movie, that it was something nice he wanted to do for us, and further - that Daddy was going to be very sad that Iolani had to cry during the Nutcracker.  Her reason: she claimed to miss the cat.

As we made our way out the door, I remembered the other reason for our trip to the area: Santa Claus. The dilemma became - Do we go straight home, or do we visit Santa and go home.  Once we decided that Santa was going to get a visit, I had to get cash from the ATM to pay for the Santa visit.  Another tantrum ensued...right in front of Santa Claus.  So, of course - once we did get up there, Santa so graciously mentioned that Iolani needed to start listening to her parents.

That lasted all of one Alley.

So, here we are.  Figuring out that if she doesn't get enough time to play outside she is going to be like this.  If she doesn't get enough mommy/daddy time, she's going to be like this.  I say this with a smile, I wouldn't trade her for anything in the world - but OMG...the girl needs constant nurturing.  LOL.

So - raise your sippy cup to constant nurturing.

How did they do?

Well - I missed voting in the neighborhood council elections.  I got wrapped up in the evacuation of Iolani's daycare and missed it. 

In any case - how did the unofficial votes turn out?  First...HCNC.

I had a friendly bet going with a fellow stakeholder that the Arts District would experience "UNPRECEDENTED" participation, and boy was I wrong.  5 people turned out to vote for Angie. 

To those five people...thanks, but why not drag your neighbor with you? 

The Unofficial Results are here: http://empowerla.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Historic-Cultural-NC-Canvass-of-Votes.pdf

Not the "Holy crap, make more copies of the ballot" turnout I hoped for...but hey....bring on the friendly snark:

Patti wiped the floor with Edgar. Edgar ran a good race...he's a good guy.
Hal - always brings the voters to the yard...heeeeeey.
Tina Pellegrino - word on the street...she might be good at community organizing. Yes!
David Hurtando and Travis Kasper took my advice and voted for themselves.  :-)

The race I knew that would be: Jessyka and General Jeff.   I didn't even try to hide it - General Jeff always had my support for his reelection.   It is unfortunate that Jessyka said in an email to me that she was listed under the wrong category...only for me to hear from others that she fully intended to run for the resident seat.  That made me sad.

Scott Bytof won without a coin toss, and by two votes.  I won't hide my ongoing disappointment with the residents of South Park not to get engaged.  But, maybe they are all too busy working to pay for those monster mortgages they all must have.

The ACE seats...daaaang...isn't that like three new faces on the council.  Snap. 

Well, then you bring in Joe Moeller...not only did he vote for himself, but he got 53 OTHER people to do the same.  (Pssst: David and Travis...that's what's supposed to happen)

The SSP - another turnout masterpiece...Hats off to Adam Anglin for voting for himself. 

So - now...for those candidates who didn't win...please note that you can still (or maybe this will be your first time) participate during DLANC activities.  Go get em!

DLANC Ballot S.N.A.F.U. Unfortunately.

DLANC election
Tonight I enveloped with my DLANC ballot.  I'd like to tell you that I've been saving it for tonight…except…that Alex asked about my ballot last week, and I got busy and just forgot it (and lost it for a moment…but I found it tonight).  

Okay, I'm beyond disgusted, disappointed, and just almost…alllllllllllmmmmmmoooooooossssssst just this shy of seeking some level of disengagement.  I'm sure there is someone sitting over at DONE just dreading my upcoming paragraphs.  Trust me…I'm dreading it too.

The Envelope:

  1. I provided my entire mailing address on my vote-by-mail application.  Look how my envelope with my ballot arrived. Maybe I'm the only DLANC voter in the apartment complex of 272 apartments.  Thank you to the mailman for delivering my ballot.
  2. My pink ballot says I'm voting for the social services provider ballot.  The only social services I provide…revolve around serving wine at dinner parties.  I registered to be an at-large stakeholder.  I do not live in the DLANC boundaries (I'm in HCNC's district), I go to church in South Park, and I feel like I'm just an all-around DLANC stakeholder.

My ballot:

Okay, I'm trying my best to remain calm and not stick on ALL CAPS. BUT SWEET RICE KRISPIES, DONE sent me the wrong ballot to an incomplete address, and now I am gonna have to figure out how to get to the DTLA Exchange on the day of a very important work-related meeting.  I registered for a mail-in ballot because I sincerely VALUE this election, what it means to my community…and if DONE can't do some kind of cross check and quality control…maybe the neighborhood council needs to use some of their money to use the City Clerk's office to run the election.  Although…when the clerk ran it…there were problems too.

So, okay…what do we do.  It is a "royal" WE thing…if the neighborhood councils are going to be seen as a bunch of neighborhood wahoo advocates, fine…let the councils run their own elections, because this kind of mess (IT IS THE WRONG BALLOT!!!) is something I know many of the neighborhood council's that I've come in contact with would never stand for.  But…if the City sees neighborhood councils as a legitimate act of representative government…then both the neighborhood councils and City Departments and the Council need to fold these elections into the City elections.  

Meanwhile, I'll make my way to DTLA exchange on Thursday to get the right ballot and cast my votes.  Argh…so frustrated and disappointed.  And...just in case you forgot..here's the listing of candidates that may or may not be accurate.  (Oh geesh...I'm starting to sound like Militant Angeleno...sorry dude)

The Bike!

You know I bought a bike.  I've been trying my best not to be like "I HAVE A BIKE!!!!".  It isn't a "special" bike, the tires are big, it's a something-speed, there's no aerodynamics involved...it is just a bike.  I've been using the bike to get to church, but I have to admit...I'm having to fight the urge to ride this thing everywhere.  Maybe it is because I haven't had a near-miss...or because the weather has been so nice...but now...I'm excited...it is time for the next step...a ride to work.

It's a whopping 7.1 miles.  I got this.

Alex and Iolani will stay home tomorrow, and I can ride my bike to work.  It is a good day to do it...a holiday for most...I will be in the office for the day.  And...to get home (because it will be dark and I don't feel confident to make the ride in the dark) I'll hop the Metrolink for $5.50.

It feels good to ride through town, waving to people as I go by thinking "Hey, I could be walking and talking with friends...or zoom zoom zoom!!!"  I spend the ride strategizing the approach to the hill, timing my pedaling with the light...not really focused on the four million things waiting for me at either point A or point B.

The Dark Anniversary

Of course there's not a year that goes by that this date doesn't burn on my heart, my brain, or in my eyes.  On this day in 1994, our mother and her boyfriend did not wake up.  I don't think I've ever described it this way, but it seems to be a much peaceful picture when compared to the horrible thing that happened.

On this day in 1994, our mother and her boyfriend became a statistic...murdered by someone they knew. The circumstances around it have always confused me - how could someone you know take your life? How could his son and nephew do this to him? Why would they do this to our  mother? 

These are questions I could ask, but why?  What closure or resolution would it bring me?  It brings me nothing. 

So, this is where it sits - every year on her birthday and the day that she died, I get to ask myself these questions.  I get to remind people that she's gone, and how she left - all in hopes that people will lock up their guns?  

Or, I can "chin up" and remind myself of the trials and tribulations that we all experience as human beings, recognize that this is "My Path", and get our little girl ready for school.  

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of her, but you knew that already.  

Bonding Over Shoes

Last night we ventured out to the far eastern reaches of Pasadena for the Nordstrom Rack. The upside is that we arrived about an hour before closing time, so I had some confidence that we wouldn't walk out the door with something that would cause us heartache in the next 30 days.

Iolani played along with the "idea" that our goal was to find Alex a new workbag.  She was able to convince me of this until we got to the second floor.  At that  point she asked if she could go back downstairs and sit next to this boy that was sitting at the front door.

At first I was thinking...OMG...why does she want to sit next to this boy?!?!?!?! But then it dawned on me, this kid was sitting all alone, by the front door, waiting for his mom to finish shopping.  He had something Iolani didn't have at this moment: Complete Freedom of Movement.  Still - our answer to her was "No".

As Alex went about trying to find a back, Iolani and I went over to a rack with clothes in her size.  First she was asking "Is this my area? Are these my size?"

Once I confirmed these were 4...she started to thumb through the rack, found two very glittery dresses and proudly announced "I NEED THESE"

"For what?  When will you wear these?", I ask.

"At home, I will wear them at home", she says.

"You could wear them out to dinner", I say.

She continues "But I can't wear them in my car seat, they will get wrinkly, so we have to take the train".

So, although they were great dresses...she didn't think she would have enough opportunities to wear the dresses.  And great...they were $40 a piece.

Next..she found the shoes.  She was asking me what her size was...and I have to admit I don't know because she would never put her foot in that measure thingee.  Until last night!  She's an almost 8!!!

We went to the 8 aisle, and because she knows what the number 8 looks like, she started pulling down shoes that she wanted to try on.  She took her shoes and socks off...started putting on shoes.  I would hear "yes" or "no", as she made quick mincemeat of the Nordstrom kids shoe rack.  The glittery shoes would get an extra "Ohhhhhhh....sparkle!!!!" and the drab-and-dreary would get the "these are ugly, right mom" once over.

She narrowed it down to three pairs of shoes.  At that point I realized that Alex had texted, not once...twice...but three times "WHERE ARE YOU GUYS!??!?!?!".  I replied with a picture of her trying on pink crocs.    He came over, saw the madness of shoes.  She quickly picked out the one pair, although she tried with the "I need three" approach.

We were left unattended again.  I gave into the idea that she really needed to see the boy downstairs.  Thank goodness he wasn't there, because as she was starting to wimper about missing the boy, she spotted PINK GLITTERY NAIL POLISH...like a bug to a light...all was right in the world.

But wait...there's more.

I asked that since we were downstairs, I wanted to make a trip over the purses.  To get to the purses, you have to get through the accessories.  Iolani loves accessories.  She picked up a necklace that was full of eclectic big bobbly beads (Betsey Johnson)...that was $80 on clearance.  OMG - I was so happy when she found a $12 necklace that I could trade with her.  Although the Betsey Johnson necklace was better for her.

It was so fun to watch her try on necklaces, and gently put them back.  She would walk over to the mirror, gently try on the necklace and look at the necklace from different angles.  We tried on hats, I tried clutches.  She went back and forth, trying on just a bunch of necklaces.  There was a nice comment from the sales clerk, implying that Iolani was being very thoughtful in how she would put everything back as she finished.

This was the first not-stressful shopping event, ever.  She was calm..enjoying the art of the jewelry.  Alex was again sending us frantic text messages to come back upstairs to see some shoes.  Soon thereafter, the store announced it was closed, and we came home...with a necklace, pair of shoes, and I think...some nail polish.

DLANC Election Crash Course

It is time again for the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council elections!  Just as confusing as a round of referendums, ordinances, and propositions… here are my tips....
  1. Register to vote in the DLANC election.  Your voter registration for this coming presidential election isn’t the same registration you need for the DLANC election.  Just head on over to the webpage and register to vote…after you read Tip #2
  2. Take a look at the stakeholder groups, located in the DLANC bylaws.  For the ease of the GH&T reader, here's the quick sheet:
There are 28 board members.  11 must be residents, 8 from businesses, 3 from Arts, 2 from Social Service Proivders, 2 from "workforce", and 1 At-large director who can claim to represent any kind of stakeholder in Downtown.  I think somewhere along the lines of life, I started referring this representative at the "At-Large At-Large"
Because the 11 resident directors are broken down into 11 distinct groups, including an at-large resident.  The directors represent the neigborhoods of Downtown, and you really have to pay attention to the district, because some of them are kind of wonky.  The Fashion District resident area comes all the way up to 7th and Spring.  Resident directors also include Resident Artist, Homeless, and the at-large. 
On the business side, again - broken up into 8 director positions, separated by neighborhood, and an at-large.
The three remaining postiions, include the "Arts, Cultural, and Educational Interests", "Social service Provider" and "Workforce"  Pay particular attention to the "workforce" position...You cannot LIVE downtown in order to run for this position.
Before you register to vote, you need to think about what "kind" of stakeholder you are.  Many of us wear different hats, or even more appropriately - one might want to vote for their friend, or someone within a specific stakeholder group.  I'm not suggesting that you game the system, I just want you to be aware of the system as a whole.
The way you register to vote in this election pre-determines which ballot you will have access to.  If for instance, you live at PE Lofts, but own a shop in the Fashion District...you will need to make a decision on whether or not to reigster as a resident...and have the opportunity to vote for the Historic Downtown resident rep, the At-Large Resident, and the At-Large At-Large.  If you register as a business owner, you'll vote for the Fashion District business rep, the At-Large Business rep, and the At-Large At-Large.
I'm registered as an At-Large stakeholder.  I do not live or work within DLANC's boundaries.  I live in the Historic Cultural Neighborhood Council, and I work in the Atwater Village Neighborhood Council.  But...I go to church in South Park, and I'm a member of the Rotary Club of Downtown Los Angeles.  Plus, my daughter plays at Grand Hope park, Grand Park, and places in between.  I consider myself a DLANC Stakeholder.  Therefore, I registered as an At-Large stakeholder, and I will only be able to vote for the At-Large At-Large representative. 
And, get yourself a reminder that DLANC election day is November 14, 2012.
NOW...for those who are seeking a seat on DLANC...
Before you choose what seat you are going to run for...consider who you plan to represent.  For those in the area that are both residents and business owners - you have a distinct advantage of having all these options.  However...I believe the rules have been updated so that you can only run for one position at a time. 
Once you've registered to vote and be a candidate - now comes the most difficult part of seeking this position: Getting people to vote for you.  You need to become a one-person-GOTV machine.
I did this, it was quite frankly - one of the most challenging things I've ever done.  And...I've birthed a child.
Getting people registered to vote in a way they can legally vote for you is a bit of a bear, but you have to do it.  You need to make sure that if you are running for the business position, that you get other business stakeholders to vote for you.
So, if you've registered to run for the Central City East resident position...you need to go and find other Central City East residents, get them to register to vote, get them to remember to vote, and get them to vote for you. 
If you are running for the Historic Downtown business position...you have to get people who've registered as other Historic Downtown businesses to participate in the vote for you. 
You start to see the challenge?  It is relatively easy to "get people to vote for you" but when you have to really drill into the segment of the population, it becomes a real challenge.  And I haven't even mentioned what to do when there's a competitor in the race.
Back when I ran, even though I hosted candidate events, I had flyers, I bugged my neighbors...I got all of 20 votes.  My competitor secured 8.  It was a horse race.  That was the year Russ Brown won with 60-something votes...and he was the highest vote getter.
Turn out has always been painful...just look:
2008 (the one that ended with the coin toss, and Stanley had the headscratching top turnout)
2010 (Valerie really turned it out with 300+ votes, when she ran for the At-Large At-Large)
Needless to say - this election (like all Neighborhood Council elections) are undoubtedly dependent on candidates to secure the turnout. And, in the area...between now and the end of the year there are three elections: Presidential, DLANC, and the Streetcar.  DLANC Candidates will need to find a way to rise above the fray, get out their message, and help voters stay engaged. 
Good luck to both the candidates and voters...you need it. And- also...if you are a candidate...please do not forget to vote for yourself.  There was one year the guy appeared on the ballot and didn't get a single vote...as in...he didn't even vote for himself.  >sigh<
And no...I am not running for DLANC. 


Out of Town for those who don't "do" text message speak.  And, as I've settled into my role at "Mommy" - I wanted to convey a couple of ground rules for everyone as we are going to be OOT for the next couple of days:

  1. You cannot park in our parking spot.  Unless your mommy's name is Celeste, and your daddy's name is Travis.
  2. Unless your name is Mark, or an employee of Mark - you cannot come in the house.  
  3. No one can play with Iolani's toys while we are gone.  That includes any of her dress-up clothes, tea sets, or her tool box.
  4. The pool, for as much as I've tried to convince Iolani...is for our neighbors.  It is not ours, we share it.
  5. Please do not make a mess of the Facebook Groups we administer.  This is not the time to take great pictures of you photobombing potholing locations. Take those pictures from afar and post.
  6. Please do not crank call the office. Do not fill up my voicemail box with your renditions of "Call Me Maybe" or anything by The Beibs.
  7. Avoid any large protests, marches, or throwing things at windows.  Please leave the newspaper stands attached to their pedestal. 
  8. Do not camp out at the house waiting for our return.  I promise, we will come home and we will have meatloaf soon.

She's Fierce, She's Four

Here we are…four years ago Iolani made her grand entrance in to the world. But more importantly – Alex and I have been successful in nurturing and growing this child.  So far, so good.  Although, I think we battle with balancing our desire to “give her everything” with helping her to understand that you have to “work for everything”.  I think every parent has that battle.  Regardless, she’s sharp, sassy, and tuned in to the world around her.

Watching her over the last couple of weeks, she’s changed. It used to be I could just set clothes out and she’d wear them.  Now, she wants to pick them out AND put them on by herself. I suppose that means I can start focusing on me again in the morning.  For example, I think the first thing I will start doing again is brushing my hair and teeth.  J

Because I’ve never done this before, I look at Babycenter.com for a lot of advice for those things I don’t want to ask my friends about.  Babycenter’s email today talks about how “she’s four now” and reminds me that I should quietly go through her toys and hand them off to Goodwill.  That is a very good idea.  She’s got a lot of baby toys tucked in there, but for the most part she’s all crayons, markers, stamps, and paint.  Maybe it is time to upgrade her watercolor brushes. 

Holy crap…I need to schedule that 4-year old well child visit.  I wonder if she will need any shots?

>calling now<

Holy crap!  They can’t see her until the end of October.  Well…That will teach me.  Lesson learned.  Iolani’s well child visits should be scheduled in June.  Which is probably a good idea moving forward anyways because in August there’s always the rush for back to school physicals.

Trips to the ER in the last year: Oh, when was that Bead up the nose  incident?
Toilet trained: Oh hell yea!  Bonus question: No bed wetting!
What does she like to eat: chicken, cotton candy, hotdogs, broccoli off of other people’s plates, cookies, and pasta
Can she ride a tricycle: outgrew it.  She’s on a bike with training wheels
Preschool: Yup.
Fluoride in the water: Yes.
Games does she like: “Catch your bootie”, swimming, tea party (the good kind), and restaurant.
The Safety Talk: We’ve had it.  However, it will never sound right hearing her say “We live at Union Station” And, if you ask me…for a child who is never in trouble and for perfectly law-abiding parents…she knows a lot of Sheriff Deputies and LAPD officers.

Solano Elementary is looking for your vote...

Remember how I virtually banged on every facebook door in order for us to draw attention to the Curbed Cup?  Well...this time, make your clicks matter! Solano Elementary needs your click desperately. The top school currently has over 1K clicks, and Solano has only 181 clicks.  Stop playing Farmville for one moment, or debating the next restaurant, or figuring out what to do with Escondite...and go click.



I'd like to thank everyone who has visit GH&T over the years.  I just noticed that I'm at 35,089 hits on the site.  Pretty good for a little girl from the sticks.  :-)

The Appropriate Armageddon?

The Occupy Movement began as this admirable movement, you know.  It was initially seen as this "unemployed kids, sleeping in the park, protesting against corporate greed" kind of thing.  Then, all the sudden there's some traction, and it wasn't just unemployed kids...it was fully employed working folks who are underwater on their home loans or unable to buy homes because of the heavy weight of student loans...still protesting against corporate greed.  The movement became A Movement, and Occupy Wall Street started popping up in cities throughout the United States. 

Here in LA, Occupy was welcomed...at first.  The timing was right, Los Angeles was able to squeak out some accountability measures, you would see banks start to make small good-faith efforts to address home loans, and the dire straights homeowners had place themselves in after being sold on the idea that homeownership was the gateway drug, (or just a gateway) to being a real American.

Same time, we've got Downtown Los Angeles...continuing on her continual journey of community justification.  What a term...but for those of us surrounded by a freeway, you know what I mean.  "You live in Downtown? Wow! How does that work?"  said in the tone that for whatever reason means that you need to justify your neighborhood, or justify that you life in a legitimate neighborhood that has industrial, retail, wholesale, and residential all built into one...and that through the grace of Grace - they co-exist. 

So, here we are...Occupy and DTLA...both on their quests to justify their existence, each with their organic (in more ways than one) hopes, dreams and fears.  But, here's the challenge...Artwalk.

Artwalk is a form to itself.  For months, if not years...Artwalk has become a party, a way to make rent, an inexpensive venue for new, up and coming artists, and a social gathering opportunity that doesn't have a cover charge, and doesn't care which river, freeway, or subway line you had to take to get here.  Artwalk has groups of people who have different roles, but there's not a single person in charge of it, and how could there be...this is an organic element.  To put structure around this bit of social energy...it would have to change in such a dramatic way...you'd change the face of Artwalk, and it would likely cease being the event that it is now.

Except, even before Occupy came to town...Artwalk was using increased police presence, had disorderly artwalkers.  There's certain corners you don't go to, certain bars and restaraunts you don't go to because it was Artwalk.  So, if you really wanted to get into trouble and you didn't want to have to work very hard at it...just come one down to Artwalk and have yourself a good time.

Do you remember, a year ago...a 2 month old baby died while enjoying an evening out at Artwalk? Even before that, google Artwalk fights, or Artwalk drunks, or Artwalk arrests...check the time stamp...

I don't say this to point fingers at Artwalk, really...because there's no fingers to point to.  And, the City, property owners, restaraunts, businesses...those who benefit and who don't benefit from Artwalk have at least have the wherewithall to continue the dialogue. 

Enter Occupy LA (OLA) at Pershing Square. 
1) I'm still not clear on why moving over to 626 Wilshire to the CCA offices is a OLA thing.  If you look at 7th Street...you aren't seeing corporate franchises, but what you are seeing are businesses that benefitted from CCA's program to assist new businesses weave through the permitting process, tours given to prospective business owners to encourage them to locate in DTLA.  Yes - there are plenty of large corporate and financial partners, but the majority of the CCA membership are small, locally owned businesses that are in DTLA to do business with other DTLA businesses. 

2) Pershing Square was a rough place before OLA.  There's the Farmers Market, but the rest of the time Pershing is a bit of a respite for those who call 5th/San Julian home.  Pershing is a step up, a quiet spot to get away from the loud chatter of Skid Row.  During the day, it might be the only quiet place for our neighbors who call the streets home aka The Homeless...to be.  And, OLA - you've taken that from them. There, I've said it: OLA...your presence is gentrifying Pershing Square...you are pushinig out legitimately our underserved, underhoused, and dearly beloved neighbors to places unknown to them.  And, that is sad.  Because any normal person can look at Skid Row and think "this is not normal, how could a City do this to her residents?".  In Downtown - this is our normal.  We have homeless people, they are our neighbors! We have those who don't want to be housed...they have addictions, mental illnesses, or for some other reason - are now in a position where Pershing Square was a safe place for them to congregate during the day...and now that is lost.

And, if you aren't usually in DTLA, you'd never notice the shift.

The people who've left the park did not ask to be a part of OLA, for those who are now sleeping in the crevases of 7th Street, moved up to the underpasses at 4th...they did not ask to be a part of your revolution.  They just are trying to get through the next 4 minutes.  These are individuals who have no level of comfort in dealing with others.  It's like putting someone who has terrible stage fright on live network, with a studio audience of 100. 

OLA, I miss the days of the Occupy Message - fight corporate greed, work for loan reform, expect accountability from our financial institutions.  I hope you can get back on track, but you really need to do it quickly.

Acknowledge and keep moving

Yes - it's here again.  Three days from now would have been my mother's 60th birthday.  Since 1995 we've had to say "she would have been...".  I have a busy week, the kind where I really can't deal with a day of "she would have been" or wonder what would she look like at this age.  I don't ever wonder what she would sound like, or what would she say - after she became "her" again, she was very predictably unpredictable.

Here's what I can say about mom turning 60...even though she was a life-long smoker, liked her boxed wine...she likely wouldn't have looked a day over 40.  She liked her hair color, her makeup, her moisturizer...I'm pretty sure the woman just wouldn't age.

I don't ever remember doing anything special outside of a birthday cake and spaghetti for dinner on her birthday. I do remember her annual reminder that she was pregnant...very pregnant on her 24th birthday, as I was born just a couple of days later.

Funny thing is that I was very pregnant with Iolani on my 32nd birthday.  I remember that miserable feeling of being fat, not fitting into pajamas, only wanting to eat drum stick ice creams.  And then a month later there was Iolani. I didn't really ever think about that until now.

So of course - now I've all teared up.  :-)

Needless to say - I miss my mom, even though we had this tumultuous relationship.  Someone once told me when I was not speaking to her that I'd regret the day I told my mom to go away.  I no longer regret the feeling, but it is a good reminder to take life just serious enough to pay attention to utility bills that come in colored envelopes.

Gotta go...Iolani wants her pink toothbrush to brush her Barbie's hair.

Twitter reports decline in use

For those who follow me on Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter - You probably (or haven't) noticed a bit of a drop off.  Well...I'm a little technically challenged lately.  First - I lost my iPhone so I've been downsized to the old iPhone Iolani's been using.  Second - I'm back to using a PC at work, and I'm just not as fast as I used to be.  Maybe because I'm getting older, but my RSS feeds didn't import over a nicely as the Internet said it would. Lying internet bastards.... Thank God (and Chris) for the iPad!

If you don't know what an RSS feed is, then clearly you are not a bastard.  :-) If you do know what an RSS feed is and know how to get them out of Mac Mail and into Outlook...hook a girl up will ya?

Dance Class!

Iolani has been taking dance classes for the last couple of months. She's come home humming "sock-hop" songs, twirling around, and things that seem normal for 3 year olds to do. Finally - today arrived: Dance Recital!

At previous school performances, she's shy-ed up and was unable to participate in the performances. So, we didn't have any real expectations (honest to God) that she would actually get onto stage and dance.  But, she did.  Oh...yes...she did!

Alex has the video, do stalk his Facebook page.

She danced, got distracted, danced again, and repeated this a couple of times.  And now... I cannot get her out of her little unitard dance top.  The girl's on fire!  She's a dancing queen!

The Fight Among Us

I doubt any of these writers care to ask me if "I have it all"  - nor do I expect someone to text me the question.  Here's my response…I'm sure you will sense some sarcasm.

I do have it all.  ALL of it.  I have laundry, email, and dinner to make.  I have a daughter who knows the names of the people in my work world better than she knows her extended family. I have a husband who's keeps a calendar to know when I'm home for dinner, and when it's his turn to cook.  I have student loans, bills, a car that got a really bad car wash, and a stinky bear that I had to "pull some strings" in order to rescue him from daycare at 11 at night.  I "have it all" for a couple of people. 

I see the point of these writers - theres's an inequity in our worlds.  Have your babies too young and you endanger your educational opportunities, which then impact your income-making prospects.  Have your babies too old and you endanger professional advancement, which then impact your income-making prospects.  And - if you forego (either by choice or force) babies, there's this unspoken implication that you do not see the value in childrearing. 

And here we are again…the value of a woman has been boiled down to our willingness to have children.  Not our desire to have children, but our willingness.  How nice.  

So, here's the deal.  Clearly, I sense a conspiracy here.  There's a distraction at play, and the ladies are all being fooled into forming a circle to start shooting at each other.  There's the stay-at-home mom, the attachment mom, tiger mom, working mom, the no-children lady, the infertile, the all or nothing, the bitch, the pushover, the liberal, the conservative….  I didn't even get the chance to talk about the economic inequities of women - within womanhoodland.

Don't get distracted, there's a political war that is separating and compartmentalizing women.  I have this horrible gut feeling that we are losing this war.  Our menstral cycles are clearly not lined up, and we are not on the same page. Maybe once scientists find the cure for male-pattern baldness before a cure for breast or uterine cancer...we will start to feel that sense of urgency.

Can I borrow your OCD?

I’m about to describe something that might be considered offensive.  Not like blood and guts offensive, and maybe “insensitive” offensive.
I need someone who truly has that “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” - aka OCD.  I need someone who’s gone to the doctor and the doctor says to them - “why, it’s just OCD...here’s a prescription”.  I need someone who has been told by their doctor to avoid stressful situations that would trigger an OCD episode.
Why?  Because my house is an unmitigatable unorganized disaster.  (Just a side note - the dictionary says that “unmitigatable” isn’t a word.  Welcome to my world.)
The situation just happened. Our last move was a pretty fast move.  For all intents and purposes we packed and unpacked in about three days. Iolani’s room has four small buckets of separated puzzles, train tracks, legos, and other bits and pieces of sets of things.  Her closet has a little bit of her clothes, but it also unfortunately serves as the catch-all.  Our bedroom is a hot mess.  
But the worst of it is the kitchen.  I had some vague idea of what I wanted the kitchen to look like, and then came the reality of Monday morning.  Iolani’s foods are down low.  Alex’s foods are up high.  Everything is everywhere else.  I open a drawer and there’s parts of a sippy cup that we haven’t used in a year and I don’t even have all the pieces for it.  Storage containers are housed in almost every part of the kitchen...and yet I struggle to find a matching set.
I know where the coffee’s at.  There’s like an unspoken cosmic law that I always know where the coffee’s at.  The coffeemaker on the other hand...sigh.  Who cares - you all know I’ll chew the grounds.
I would love to have my kitchen organized.  However, I lack the luxury of uninterrupted time to organize the damn thing.  I am willing to give up my coffee budget for a month ($75 believe it or not) if there’s an OCD person who would like to benefit from their affliction.  $75 bucks is all yours if you can organize my kitchen.  I feel that if you truly have OCD you will be able to effectively, efficiently, and accurately organize my kitchen. 
Some ground rules:
You’ll need three people who can vouch for your level of “OCD”ism. Even better if I know you or one of your references already.  (And meeting at a transit meeting doesn’t count)(Sorry!)
You are only organizing the kitchen.  Anything outside of the kitchen is totally off limits  
You’ll have three hours to accomplish this feat. (not including the necessary 2 or 3 minute breaks)
If you finish before the end of 3 hours  and we agree that the kitchen has been satisfactory organized - it’s still $75 in your pocket.
You’ll have a box to place items that are for redistribution - you’ll leave that behind.  So like storage containers that lack a lid, the hand mixer I don’t use, sippy cups missing pieces...can all move on to their next life.
I am not going to stand over your shoulder and provide any direction.  I likely will be on the phone, working on email, or just popping in and out of the apartment. But, if we agree that you can do this - I will have placed my faith in you that you know what a good kitchen is supposed to look like.
Finally - no cleaning. My kitchen is clean, not like “clean but dirty”, but like clean and unorganized.  We have a preschooler who brings home every cold, flu, bug, and whatever - so we wipe things down on a regular basis.  The dishwasher is run all the time.  The garbage and recycling don’t sit in the house.  Our composter is well fed and smells like that pretty lady in front of you at the coffeeshop.  So - keep your OCD hands off the sponge and spray bottle and get to organizing those spices.
If this sounds like something you’d want to do, or your OCD roommate is driving you bonkers...you know how to find me.  Again - I only want to take advantage of someone’s “misfortune” of OCD.  But how can getting $75 be considered a misfortune?

Where'd they go?

@Pantlessalley sent me a tweet tonight, asking why I though DTLA bloggers left town.  They were responding to a previous post of mine.

Why do people leave DT? There's a whole host of reasons.  It almost seems like most Angelenos are transients...we move from apartment to apartment based on our lease agreements.  You could say it is the nature of living in Los Angeles that you'll need or want to move soon.

When people move out of Downtown, we get weird.  When we moved from the Financial District to El Pueblo - I admit it...I relied on Hal to tell me that I wasn't being moved out of Downtown.  I needed to know I was still in the Neighborhood.  Whew.

So, without any real emotion - here is the list of reasons people have given me as to why they moved out of Downtown:

  • They bought a house, with a yard
  • Their job made them move
  • They "went back home"
  • Their rent was increased
  • They broke up with their partner and needed to find something on their own
  • Accosted on the street
  • Grew tired of panhandlers
  • They got a kid
  • They want a kid
  • Tired of their noisy neighbor
I've never had anyone tell me they've moved out of the neighborhood because a particular store is missing. I'll probably be here forever.  I grew up with a big yard, it required a lot of maintenance.  Outside of Southern California- professionally - I'm highly useless.  If we "went back home" we'd go to Alex's parents in Santa Monica.  Rent...is what it is.... The kid came to us and clearly...she wouldn't know what to do with a backyard.  She'd likely breakdown the fence and start inviting random people over for dinner.

Dogs alone don't make a community

Every time I get a new antibiotic prescription, I get this stern warning from the doctor to slow down. While I appreciate her concern, I cant imagine what slowing down look like, let alone feel like. All that said, this April has been one for the books. I think our April's will always be crazy. April 2008: Iolani announced herself. April 2009: wedding and honeymoon. April 2010: we were overwhelmed with daycare and a trip to Washington. April 2011: a trip to Washington to celebrate Grandpa Bob's birthday mixed in with a bit of little sister drama. April 2012, we had a move, and on the work front..some environmental documents that were yearning for approval.

Now that we have this new lease, that puts us in a better position in the future to take advantage of "pre summer" leasing rates. What a pain. 11 months from now we will have to subject our household to looking for a different apartment, packing up again....

You know...I wonder if anyone who leases apartments considered what kind of money could be made if 18, 24, or 36 month leases were available. Imagine what kind of friendly apartment community one could have if such an option would be available.

The Mommy Post: Beds

Iolani is still sleeping in her toddler bed.  Her legs aren't reaching the other end of the bed, but she is getting close.  It has been a consistent conversation in our house.  It's difficult for us to decide on furniture.  On one hand, there's someone in the house who's very "design" oriented, and then there's someone else in the house who's got the keen eye on how something is supposed to be kept clean.

In any case, here's what we've been looking at:

Ikea's Reversible Bed:
Like everything else in our house - it is Ikea, practical, easy to build...and the likely purchase.

Wow Girl Bed:
My personal favorite.  The ladder has a handrail.  The slide is good for a quick dismount.

Pocono Bookcase/Storage Bed:
Don't get excited, I'm not suggesting the whole set - just the bed and headboard.  This seems to be very flexible for whatever apartment we move to.  I can't imagine us staying in one apartment for more than three years.  It is really up to the rental market.

Where are the Bloggiests?

Can I sound like an old woman for a moment?  Way back in 2007, when Eric Richardson used to run BlogDowntown - he posted an article about DTLA being the 3rd most "bloogiest" neighborhoods in the country.  We were probably outdone by some SF neighborhood.  But, let's not brood on the past.  

 Except, for those who know me, know that I'm a brooder.  I got to wondering this morning about those blogs linked at the bottom of the BlogDowntown Page.  Take a peek.... you can do two things, click the link to see the websites lined or just read my narrative on "where are they now".

http://viewfromaloft.typepad.com/ continues to post, and Ed also writes for KCET.  He is a well known and prolific writer on anything having to do with the Arts District.  If it includes a spray can or a mural - Ed's your guy.  

http://5thandspring.blogspot.com/ still posting and filmmaking.  She's one of the owners of RAW Materials, a brilliant art supply shop located on Main Street.  

http://angelenic.com/ was a blog I used to see as a prime competitor to BlogDowntown.  Rich has since closed up shop on the blog, moved out of DTLA (but is still spotted in the neighborhood from time to time), and is working in a non-blogging world.  I'll always think of him as an awesome neighbor. 

http://bgfa.blogspot.com/ up and moved to CHICAGO, CHICAGO...

http://centralcitye.blogspot.com/ made the switch from blogging to micro-blogging to Facebook.  Don's still around, enjoying SkidRokyo, Skid Row Heights and other DT words.  Don's very much still Downtown.  

http://dnaonbroadway.blogspot.com/ isn't on Broadway anymore...They are SoPa's, or South Parkians, or South Park residents.  

http://www.downtownchick.com/ is still there.  

http://eecue.com/ moved from the HC to LT to AD.  

www.ginnycase.com is till there, annoying as ever.  However, she's moved from the Fashion District to the Historic Core, to the Financial District to Chinatown.  OMG.

http://inlaonla.blogspot.com/ hasn't updated since 2009.  Eric was generous in linking to someone who had posted all of 18 times.

http://lacowboy.blogspot.com/ is Brady's home.  Brady's not really one for Facebook or Twitter.  This blog is likely the most structurally sound thing in his life.  :-)

http://blog.littletokyounplugged.org/ doesn't post that often.  For LT information - you really have to piece is all together from Rafu, Kizuna, FB, and the LTCC website, like http://littletokyola.org/

http://pamelameekorouse.blogspot.com/ was "Meeko on Main" who is now in Emeryville.  

http://www.scribeskidrow.blogspot.com/, as I understand - moved up and out of town.

http://trainedmonkey.com/ is still in the neighborhood.  He's also one of the owners of RAW Materials.  

http://www.talesofdowntown.com/ also moved DTLA, but continues to talk DTLA.

http://underthealexandria.blogspot.com/ is still around, and is active on the FB groups. Their kid is a little older than ours, so I stalk them to see what they do with school stuff.

http://urbanmemo.blogspot.com/ stopped posting in 2010.

http://cartersblog.wordpress.com/ stopped posting so long ago that WordPress gave them the total F-U.

http://skidrowdude.com/ is up in Sacramento.  I'm sure it's a move out, but it's Sacramento.

So, with all that said - I can now admit that I am not a big fan for the direction BlogDowntown has taken.  It used to be that our hyper-local projects could get the "mainstream media" treatment.  The blog is still looked at by potential investors, and rather than the "DTLA is Open and Ready" for your business, they are met with a confusing message of cautious optimism on Monday, and total pessimism come Friday.  

So, where do we look?  Who covers DTLA with wild abandon?  

These are the sites that I see as complete alternatives to the turn BlogDowntown has taken: