Archive | March, 2017

City Mouse in Suburbia

28 Mar

There were days living in West Hollywood when I longed for the helicopters to cease circling and just let me have a peaceful night at home. I never thought I would miss the sound of those beasts crossing through the air above my various apartments but now that I am firmly planted in suburbia I find it to be a bit too quiet. I’ve been here about two years and live in a small apartment building that’s one little curved block in the midst of single family homes. If I come home any time after the sun goes down I’m probably going to have to park near the homes around the corner from me. I came home from trivia tonight just after 9:00 PM and I noticed most of the houses I was walking past were dark. Cars in the driveway but everyone had gone to bed! The streets in LA shut down but never that early. There was always someone out skateboarding, walking a dog, fighting with a roomie, making some shady handoff or just blaring out their favorite tune. Sure it was annoying at times but it was the sound of the city and I miss it. I found myself clutching my keys in my hand tonight as I walked by these dark residences so the little jangle wouldn’t disturb anyone.

So what do you get in the suburbs? You get the sound of birds waking you up in the morning, actual birds! It’s quiet enough here that if it’s a nice warm morning you will hear little birds chirping in the trees nearby. When I lived off of Wilshire there was a hummingbird that lived near my window but it didn’t make any noise and was always hanging about when my then boyfriend would sit by the window with his awful cloves cigarettes. You get neighbors that want to know who you are and will take packages in for you or bring by some random baked good they made. There are also pets just roaming free like Patches here that are super chill and let you just come up and pet them.

Patches

As much as I like abundant parking and friendly street creatures I still don’t feel at home here. My apartment feels like home, it should – it’s where I keep my stuff but I still long for a sound of the choppers flying by or some crazy event breaking out on Melrose Ave. Maybe I’ll get to go “home” to the city again one day but for now I’ll remain in the land of slow drivers, coffee shops and school run ‘traffic jams’.

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Terminal 3

23 Mar

Just a shade over 10 years ago I walked away from a job I loved because it was getting too painful to watch what we had built up start to crumble around us. I was offered an opportunity to work with a friend and I jumped at the chance. That company didn’t work out but before a year had passed I found myself at a small family run company that would put me on the road a few times a month to Northern California. I was new to sales and was excited about the possibility of all of the free Southwest flights I was going to rack up. Ahhh yes back in the day when 10 or so trips to Sacramento would equal a free flight to see my friends in Nashville. Before long my trips started to take me to San Francisco which made me very happy because I could take Virgin America! New on the scene and with routes to San Jose and San Francisco I would take them whenever I could to spend some time with the brand.  With mood lighting and unexpected treats like these sweet pinback buttons they had a very loyal customer.

Virgin America Pins

Last year Virgin America was sold to Alaska Airlines and this morning I woke up to the news that this lovely airline would soon be gone. As most of my travels take me overseas now I haven’t flown VA in quite some time but I was looking forward to their new Nashville route. I’ll have to try to take one last trip before it’s all gone and bask in the soft purple mood lighting and think about all of those mad dashes made through security when running late for the flights, the fog delays, Pringles on demand, flirty chats with other passengers using the seat messaging system and so much more.

It all comes back to Manchester

20 Mar

This weekend I left sunny Los Angeles to visit my friend Darryl in Toronto. I met Darryl a few years ago while he was working on Pride in Travel (available on Amazon here and features yours truly in chapter 5). It was a chance to head to Opera Bob’s and meet the other members of the Toronto Supporters Club. The global City community can seem small at times and we all seem to know someone in every city. This feeling of camaraderie reminds me of the early 90s Morrissey crowd that followed those early solo tours around the states. There are a few worlds that overlap but this is one case when they did spectacularly. What follows is one of the greatest stories I’ve been a part of in the last few years.

In the fall of 1992 Morrissey came through Los Angeles with his Your Arsenal tour. That was also a monumental year in my life in which I turned 18, had left home to move in to the dorms at UCLA. My friends and I made plans to attend the Hollywood Bowl shows then follow the tour to the Del Mar show because it was a general admission show and you could get to the front if you arrived early enough. We camped out for two days in an unusually rainy Del Mar while rotating out trips for naps and showers at a nearby Motel 6 that we were sharing with no less than eight other fans.  Our efforts paid off and we were rewarded with a few hours smashed up against the barriers while Moz tore through his set. Somewhere during the show someone tossed a flag on stage that Morrissey whipped around for a few seconds before he threw it to the side of the stage. Any rabid fan knows that after the show your main goal is to get whatever you can from the Roadies tearing down the stage. I was the lucky one that grabbed the flag from the stage with a little help from my friends helping me plead to get it thrown down to us. It was a cross of St. George flag – a nice one as well that wasn’t just screen printed but stitched together pieces of nylon. I went skipping back to our car to head home with this new treasure firmly in my grasp.

I hung this flag in my dorm room for a few weeks until the morning I left for New York to catch the last few nights of the tour. I had a free ticket to fly anywhere in the US thanks to my newly acquired AmEx and I could think of no better destination. I traveled with two friends to the city where we had no hotel room booked or tickets to any of the shows! These were no ordinary shows on the tour they were three small club sized shows around New York City and ending the week in Philadelphia at the Tower theatre. That trip is a tale for another time but in the midst of these shows was Thanksgiving when no show would be played and we took our chance to try to meet Moz at his hotel to get a few things signed one of these items being my flag. After hours of waiting at The Mark we were rewarded with a few moments of his time and were told to wait in the lobby. Linder Sterling came back to the lobby to gather up what we had and took it to Morrissey’s room to get signed, she returned 20 minutes later with everything bagged up for us and we ran back though the cold streets to our derelict hotel off of Times Square giddy with our interaction.

I’ve held on to this flag and kept it as the ultimate Morrissey souvenir sure to win all arguments of who has the best object from the era. I haven’t displayed it in many years because I’ve been worried about the flag becoming worn and the autograph fading so it’s been tucked safely inside a box for the last 5 years. Flash to October of last year when I was selling my beloved Vespa LXV to my friend Andy to make room for my Primavera. Andy is also a City fan, member of the supporters club and a MASSIVE Morrissey fan. He had never been to my home and had a bit of a nose around at my memorabilia covering the walls. We got to talking about various items we had and I knew I had to bring out the flag. I couldn’t find it at first and just told him about how great it was. He asked some questions about where I got it and pretty specific details about the flag itself and quickly realized this was the flag he had thrown on stage that Halloween night! I knew I had to find it. A few moments of opening nearly every box in my office I found the folded flag and presented it to Andy. He marveled at seeing this flag he last had in his hands 25 years ago now with the oil crayon inscription of “Bernadette Hoist It High – Morrissey” in the distinctive Moz scrawl across a panel. I was a bit worried he would ask for it back but instead wanted a photo with it and put up a post about it.

Andy Flag 2

There are certain people in my life I feel I was always meant to be friends with but had never been brought together until recently. We all moved in the same circles, knew many of the same people and have shared experiences. It wasn’t until something like your team pulling an impossible victory out in overtime spawning the need to form an official club that you meet these people.

International Women’s Day

8 Mar

I didn’t start this day thinking I should write a post about International Women’s Day but as the day grew on I knew I had to write about one very special woman who was a massive influence on who I became. I just went digging through my boxes of photos and unfortunately this is the only one I could find of her but everyone – meet my grandmother Dolores Ojeda.

Grandma

It wasn’t until I was much older that I began to appreciate just what an incredible woman she was. This photo was taken on the day of my high school graduation, my Dad reserved the private room of one of the nicest places in all of Montebello to celebrate this grand event. She’s wearing her go to dress, I’m sure somewhere on the booth is her white sweater she would wear with this. She’s there with my two cousins and another in the booth behind, all of the little girls in this photo are now grown up with children of their own.

So what made “Fat Grandma” the greatest? Well first she let us call her “Fat Grandma”, she was carrying a bit of weight on her and well our other grandmother weighed about 90 pounds soaking wet and holding a brick. She grew up in Bakersfield during the great migration from the dust bowl and family lore has it that she was being groomed to be married off to someone with a bit of money but luckily for us she hopped the fence one day and ran away to start a life with our grandfather. With that man she would have three children the first one being my Dad. Their life together was cut short after an accident in Mexico took him away far too soon and she was left a single mother in 1960. So what did Dolores do? She went to work! Some of my earliest memories of her are visiting her at the Thrifty’s Coffee Shop where she was a waitress until they closed the restaurant. My tea kettle I use today is one that she swiped from the shop and I think of her each time I use it.

Somewhere in the early 80’s my Dad took full time custody of me and my two siblings and when we needed a place to live grandma moved out and let my Dad move in to the home she had been in for decades. Her sacrifice enabled us to have some stability and get back to growing up. She would often stop by to clean the house or visit with her sister who lived on the opposite corner. Sometimes she would comment on the neighbors my favorite was her annoyance at the house across the way that had a few teenage daughters who had boys coming to honk their horns when they came to pick them up for dates. She taught us that you should never go out with a man that won’t come to the door to pick you up.

We would also go on adventures to Downtown LA, she loved the bustle of a city or to the Golden Gate theater to see movies. She taught us how to ride the bus and not to take any crap from anyone even if that meant you had to swing around a sock full of nickels to scare them away. You would always get at least $10 to run to the concession stand to get her a cup of ice or candy and she would never ask for change back.

Dolores was a strong independent woman that was bound by a few ideals that I wish she didn’t feel the need to live by. She had this man in her life that she said you had to have someone or people would think you’re ‘funny’. He didn’t seem to really add much to her life and really wish she could have just been allowed to be single and not have to worry about what everyone thought. I also wish she had believed in her abilities a bit more, she was smart but there were things she never did like learn to drive. When I was 16 I went to pick up my grandmother for my brother’s graduation and she sat in the passenger seat just smiling at me and a little tear rolled down her cheek. I asked her why she was crying and she said she was just happy I was driving. I can’t help but wonder where she would have gone if she knew how to drive, I can picture her now just winding her way all over California going where she wanted to.

So that’s it readers – your inspiration doesn’t have to come from some grand woman in history. It could be anyone! I know I wouldn’t be a fraction of the woman I am today without this woman who also let me know it’s ok to be the kind of woman that would receive a holiday card from the local bar. I wish the Wagon Wheel was still open so I could go there and hold a glass aloft in toast to you grandma, I hope you’ve got a beer with you somewhere and are watching the sights.

Mistakes were made

4 Mar

I’ve never been one of those women that can justify spending more than say $30 on a haircut. I have straight hair and a simple cut so I’ve always just popped in to whatever discount chain stylist I was near when I need a clean up. I did try last year to find a “stylist” that I would go to and have a quality cut and color but it didn’t look that much better than the strip mall places and left a giant hole in my account so I abandoned that notion after two visits.  I had a lot of errands to run today and at the end of it all I decided to get my bangs trimmed because I was full on sheep dog status with the hair more than half covering my face. I asked the stylist to just trim about an inch and have them still go past my eyebrows so I could put off having to go get those done.  Well this is what I wound up with.

fringe

As you can see it’s well above my untamed brows also what’s with the strays?! So what did I do? I did nothing. You just have to accept that this is done, it can’t be undone and just accept it and move on. I’ll be saving myself $6 on not having to get them trimmed again so soon so there’s that. Today it was stopping by the wrong shop on the way home but it could have been anything. In life there are so many mistakes that get made – sending off a snippy text to someone, accepting a date with that guy you know isn’t right, leaving the house without a coat knowing full well you’ll be out after dark or forgetting you had tickets to that amazing show that all of your friends are posting about.

I’m not one of those 24/7, vision board, positive thinking rules the world people but if we all just learned to accept mistakes happen and just move on with our lives we’d all be happier people. I know too many people that are hanging on to regret and anger from years ago and hope one day they can just accept we don’t have time machines and learn to move past things.