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 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 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 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 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 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 in...he didn't even vote for himself.  >sigh<
And no...I am not running for DLANC.