Exactly 1 year ago today I decided it was time to get back to my dreams of being a writer. I spent 15 years working as a photographer to pay the bills but deep down, I always wanted to get back to being a writer. The opportunity was there, I just had to take it.
I work for the oldest Entertainment magazine–American Cinematographer started in 1920. Yes, I am the photo editor but I do write the news portion of the magazine. After my father died, all I could think about was writing. In fact, all I could think about was writing about the paranormal investigation docu-series Ghost Adventures. All I had to do was pitch my story idea. What was the worst that could happen? If they said no, I would just go right back to the day-to-day of being the photo editor.
It seemed simple but I am an over-thinker. I had to have the perfect pitch. After all, I was basically asking the magazine permission to cover a reality series; we don’t cover reality shows. Being who I am, never doing things the easy way, I wasn’t even planning on pitching a normal reality series. I was pitching a paranormal investigation reality series.
My friends were actually shocked that I didn’t pitch something Star Wars related. But I couldn’t fully explain it without sounding like a crazy person (though my closest friends are used to my crazy ideas). Months prior, I had read Zak Bagans book, “I am Haunted: Living Life Through the Dead” but I was the one who wound up haunted; haunted with the idea of writing a story about this show. It had to be this show and it had to be at the right time. (Divine timing at its finest).
I searched through our magazine schedule and noticed that April 2016 was set as the digital issue. The Ghost Adventures guys use digital cameras. We had Batman v. Superman planned as the main feature. They were currently filming in Detroit. Zak went to film school in Detroit. I am from Detroit. Plus this was our NAB issue. The NAB show is held in Las Vegas. Three out of four of the Ghost Adventures guys live in Las Vegas. With all these synchronicities, it was clear that this was the perfect issue for my story.
So after weeks of pep talks from my friends and trying to get ahold of the show’s publicist, I was finally ready to make my pitch. I would talk about the evolution of their camera equipment from their documentary through twelve seasons of the show. My stomach was in knots. I was so nervous. I had convinced myself of all the reasons as to why they would say no but I had to do this for myself. So I walked into my managing editor’s office, I pitched my story and he said yes!!!
Yesterday, I was back at my Alma Mater, the University of Southern California. The School of Cinematic Arts (it was cinema-television 20 years ago when I was a freshman there) was holding a ceremony for the Haskell Wexler Endowed Chair in Documentary. I had the privilege of knowing Haskell and was honored to be there supporting his wife Rita as well as representing his ASC family along with other members and AC staff. When I went to check in, they had stacks of the American Cinematographer April Issue (which later became a tribute issue to Haskell and fellow ASC member Vilmos Zsigmond) sitting on the table for attendees. I saw some of my former professors and former classmates reading a magazine that contained my Ghost Adventures article.
It was so surreal to be standing there on the campus where 20 years ago I was a freshman who dreamed of becoming a writer and I was holding in my hands my published article. 20 years ago I was writing essays about cinematography and now I have published articles about cinematography.
I have yet to fully understand exactly why I had to write about Ghost Adventures but I am so glad that I overcame my fears, quieted my mind and pitched that story to my editor a year ago.
On Instagram, there is a feature that has suggestions for people you might want to follow. The other day, a guy from my past popped up in the suggestions. I haven’t seen or spoken to him in years so I clicked on it to see how he was doing and wound up clicking the “follow” button. Crap (actually, I used a different word)!
I knew he would get a notification that I was now following his feed so I couldn’t immediately unfollow, that would be mean, or so I thought. He didn’t have a lot of followers so I decided to just leave it.
But then I started to think that what I viewed as a nostalgic “let’s just see how he is doing” kind of gesture might be taken the wrong way. My thoughts of making peace with this man from my past and the unrealistic hope that we could someday be friends again might not come across when he sees the new follower notification.
I have no idea what he thinks of me or if he is still upset over things that were said and done in the past. For me, I have let go of any negative feelings toward him. I will forever care about him and wish him the best but I now realize that he is in my past and that is where he needs to stay. I am not the same person I was and neither is he.
I don’t want to go back and relive a time where, in reaction to how he treated me, I was ashamed of the things I said and did. I didn’t like the person I turned into when I was dealing with the insecurities of being ignored and treated poorly by a man I thought I loved.
Everyone comes into your life for a reason. This man was a long, hard and often painful lesson. By having him pop-up in my Instagram suggestions, I think the Universe was trying to tell me that he is fine. I don’t have to worry about him anymore. It is OK to leave him in the past where he belongs. I can finally let go.
So I clicked the unfollow button and he returned the favor by making his account private. So there it was. A book I started when I met this man over 19 years ago was finally closed. Time to focus on a new book.
This weekend felt like my own personal birthday gift from the heavens–they gave me rain! It finally cooled down and felt like October. It would have been better to see the leaves change color but I will take what I can get.
For my birthday, I decided to hang out with my friend Ida in Old Town Pasadena. I had a craving for my staple comfort food–mashed potatoes and gravy. So I searched Yelp for a diner in Old Town Pasadena. The search mentioned Russell’s on Fair Oaks. The reviews described it as being a diner type establishment that was always crowded. So I was imagining a 50’s style diner or even something like Denny’s but Russel’s was neither. Russel’s felt like a very fancy restaurant, a perfect place for a first date. Yes, there were booths but they were more elegant than a typical diner. There were lamps instead of cheesy light fixtures. There were classic paintings by Masters like Picasso and Van Gogh covering the walls; it almost felt like an art gallery. There was classic music playing and a fancy looking menu. However the food was similar to a diner menu, but again a more upscale diner.
We both ordered a Bellini, even though it didn’t really seem to go with my meatloaf and mashed potatoes dinner but I liked it nonetheless. Ida ordered the Chicken Breast dinner. We were both pleased with our meals and I do have to say, the mashed potatoes were amazing. But we both agreed that the Yelp reviews did not do this place justice. It wasn’t what we expected . . . it was better.
After dinner, we decided to check out the Old Town Haunt on Raymond and Colorado. I have done the Knott’s Scary Farms and the Universal Halloween Horror Nights. I am the kind of person who laughs through a Haunted House. I am usually laughing at the girly girls who are screaming. It takes a lot to scare me. But I read a lot of good reviews for the Old Town Haunt and the actual Haunted History of the building where the haunt occurs.
When we first arrived and got into line, we were excited about possibly being scared. Unfortunately, my excitement turned sour when the group of inconsiderate 20-something a**holes started smoking in line, breaking a whole bunch of city ordinances. They didn’t even care when I was vocal about my allergy to smoke and started coughing. In fact, they all decided to light up so I had to excuse myself from the line. Being the good friend that she is, Ida braved standing near the IAs.
Personally, I will never understand the selfishness of smokers. There are so many people in a small area waiting to go into the haunt, many were children. If you want to smoke and kill yourself, that is your prerogative but why force the rest of us to choke on your second-hand smoke just because you have a sad, pathetic addiction that will lead you to an early grave. I like my life and I have seen too many people die from lung cancer–some never smoked a day in their lives but their family members did. OK, that is my rant for the day.
Thankfully, Ida and I were put with a group far away from the smoking IAs. And from the minute we took our first step down the staircase into the basement of the Old Town Haunt, all our grievances were forgotten. The decor was amazing. Our experience started with a tour guide (who is also the organizer of the event). We asked him if we could work for him and he said all we had to do was talk to the ticket taker on our way out. From that moment on, our excitement grew and our adventure began.
We did spend most of our time laughing at the people in our group–even the guys were screaming and freaking out. I got three hugs from the different characters throughout the maze. The decor was so authentic. The costumes were freakishly good and we were even startled a few times. The area where it was pitch black and we had to feel our way through–then crawl our way through–was pretty awesome. This was by far the best haunted maze I have ever been through. Universal and Knott’s have nothing on the Old Town Haunt. And the best part, starting on Thursday, Ida and I will get the chance to haunt the maze and cue up a little scares of our own.
After the Haunt, our adrenaline was pumping so we decided to try yet another place in Old Town Pasadena. We headed over to Lucky Baldwins for drinks. The 21st was the last day of their Oktoberfest specials so I decided I would partake in the festivities with the t-shirt, glass and German beer special. Finally, good German Oktoberfest beer to redeem the disappointment from the Montrose Oktoberfest.
All and all, it was a great birthday (spent with a great friend). It’s funny how sometimes everything just seems to fall into place. Originally I had wanted to go to a play but we opted for the Old Town Haunt instead. That slight change in plans led to an opportunity I wouldn’t have had if we hadn’t decided to go to the Old Town Haunt and ask if we could volunteer. Now I have my plans set for Thursday where I will get the chance to do something I have always wanted to do, work in a haunted house. I can’t wait for Thursday!!
Friday night started Pasadena’s Art Weekend with ArtNight, a night where the local museums are open to the public with free admission. There are free shuttles to take patrons to and from the participating museums. Food trucks and live performances would also be available to the ArtNight participants at specific locations. I read all about Art Weekend in the Pasadena Weekly and I was excited to check out some of the exhibits–specifically the Pages exhibit at the Art Center College of Design’s Williamson Gallery.
According to the ArtNight website, Pasadena City Hall would be the transportation hub where patrons could catch the free shuttles that would transport them to any gallery of their choosing. There would also be live entertainment and food at the City Hall hub. So I decided that I would begin my night there. I took the Metro Gold Line to the Memorial Park station, located near City Hall. Pasadena City Hall is a work of architectural art. It is a stunning sight to see, especially at night. Once I arrived, I was greeted by an ArtNight volunteer who gave me a map of the museums and shuttle routes. I was also given the official Art Night sticker, proof of my participation in the nightly event.
I looked at the ArtNight brochure and noticed that I needed the North shuttle to reach my destination, Art Center College of Design. So I sat on the steps of City Hall, enjoying the live music as I waited for my bus to arrive. Many shuttles showed up and many shuttles left. I saw the East shuttles, West shuttles and Central shuttles go past me, many times. I didn’t see a single North shuttle. I kept looking at the brochure but it was too dark to really see the map of the routes–I couldn’t make out one route from the other. I saw several others waiting around, waiting for the North shuttle as well. There were ArtNight volunteers roaming around but they didn’t seem to notice all the people standing around looking confused. No one seemed to understand which shuttle went where or how to locate the North shuttle. Finally, a woman (perhaps one of the event organizers) stepped forward to assist with the buses. Several people asked her when the North bus would arrive. Her reply. “The North bus doesn’t come here. It leaves from the Pasadena Museum of History. That is the only place where you can catch the North shuttle.” Seriously? I had wasted all this time waiting for a shuttle that was never going to arrive.
I quickly hopped on the first shuttle that would take me to the Pasadena Museum of History. I managed to catch the West bus, a bus that actually traveled very close to Art Center (when it stopped at KidSpace) but backtracked to the Museum of History. I end up chatting with a family that was just as frustrated as I was. But they had actually started the evening right at 6pm–I waited until 7pm). They managed to stop at the Pacific Asia Museum first. So we all arrived at the Museum of History and had to wait in line for the North shuttle. Thankfully this area was well-organized. They had signs for each bus so you knew where to wait to catch the appropriate bus (they should have done that at City Hall). After three shuttle loads, we were finally on the North shuttle headed up to the Art Center gallery. (This was not a short shuttle ride).
I was so excited when I finally arrived at the Art Center’s Williamson Gallery. I made my way past the student work and into the new Pages exhibit (this was the opening night for the exhibit). At first, I was in heaven with an exhibit focused on books. There were some beautiful photographs of books and a floor to ceiling sculpture of stacked books (I wasn’t allowed to take photos of the artwork).
As you made your way toward the center of the exhibit, you had the opportunity to view books and book pages on loan from the Huntington Library, USC Special Library, and Caltech. For me, this is where I started to feel like the Universe was playing a cruel joke on me. Many of the books on exhibit were books I had seen before, when I went to the Huntington Library. It was January of 2011 and I was at the Huntington Library on a date with Big. However it was the manuscript poem, entitled “Beer” by Charles Bukowski, on loan from the USC Special Library Collection that led to my “Mr. Big” freak out. When Big and I went to the Huntington, we were going for the Charles Bukowski exhibit. Big and I are both book lovers, the book exhibit was our agreed favorite part of the Huntington (I hadn’t yet explored the gardens when I went with him). Big and I met when we were at USC so the whole Charles Bukowski (and Beer, another story I won’t mention), Huntington and USC connection was more than I could handle. It was too weird of a coincidence–the Universe is trying to tell me something, in my opinion. Plus, as a lover of books, I don’t like to see books being destroyed, especially in the name of art. Cutting up books or whiting out the majority of the words just feels like a crime to me. So I was done.
I made my way back to the shuttles. One was leaving and the other still had space. I boarded the shuttle, watched as it filled up and watched as we all just sat there. The shuttle driver was on break. It was 9:25 pm when the shuttle driver finally decided to return and begin our journey back to the Museum of History. Once we arrived at the Museum, then we had to catch another shuttle back to downtown Pasadena, were the majority of the museums live. The event ended at 10 pm so there wasn’t any point in trying to make it to another museum when the shuttle I was on had just departed the Pasadena Museum of History at 9:40 pm.
I arrived back at Pasadena City Hall at 9:59 pm. I wasted the ArtNight experience on the Art Center–and shuttle experience. (And the whole Big connection didn’t help matters). Once again, the Pasadena “bus” service did not work in my favor. At least now I know that next year, I should arrive at 6 pm and stick to the Museums closest to downtown. Or as my California sister advised, “stick to the food trucks.”
My body is on strike from all of the activity. My sore muscles and tired limbs want a day off from walking around so my quest today will be simple–try a new food. With tons of local restaurants in Altadena and Pasadena, this is not an easy task so I needed to narrow down my search to a simple quest for a really good burger.
I searched Yelp and found a burger place with decent ratings, located very close to home. The place, Super Burger, is located on Altadena drive. I made my way over to the burger stand, parked and started to walk toward Super Burger when I noticed the lights were off. I checked Yelp and discovered that Super Burger closes at 7:30 pm. It was 7:31 pm. Crap.
So now I was in search of something else. I decided to drive down foothill and see if anything jumped out at me. As I approached a red light at Foothill and Halstead, I noticed on the corner a restaurant called Hook Burger. Perfect. I pulled into the parking lot and checked out the ratings on Yelp. There were several raves for the Bistro Burger and their fries (and beer but I wasn’t in a beer mood).
So I walked in and was happily greeted by the cashier. I placed my order for the Bistro Burger and took the cashier’s recommendation for the regular fries, as opposed to the sweet potato fries. She inquired about my Hook Burger status. I revealed I was in fact a Hook Burger virgin. She welcomed me and explained how the Hook Burger experience plays out. Basically, I just needed to place my order and have a seat. The Hook Burger staff would cater to my every need (involving my meal only). I sat down with my drink and waited as my meal was prepared then served.
The Bistro Burger was awesome! I instantly had to text my California sister and tell her that I found the perfect burger place for us. In my opinion, Hook Burger is better than Habit and even better than Umami (opening another location soon in Pasadena, by the way). I am so glad the Universe intervened when I had tried to go to Super Burger but fate sent me to what I would now call my new favorite burger joint, HOOK BURGER.
Even though it was a hellish experience taking the bus to work, it was easy and relaxing taking it home–mainly because there was no rush to be somewhere at a specific time.
I decided I would stop off in Old Town Pasadena and have dinner. I texted my friend who works in the area to let her know I could come by and visit with her. I arrived at Fair Oaks and Colorado in Pasadena. I noticed a restaurant called Saladish from the bus. I thought I should try something healthy so I stopped in to check out the menu. The young man working there was extremely helpful. I told him that I had never been there before and asked for his recommendations. He suggested the Thai Chicken wrap. Sounded good to me so I ordered a wrap and a cheese and broccoli baked potato. I took my food over to the gallery where my friend works so we could eat together. It turns out that the baked potato alone was an entire meal. I didn’t mind. The wrap would be my lunch for the following day (and it was so good, even a day later).
I ended up spending the entire evening hanging out with my friend. Her roommate came by on his way home from work and we agreed to go to dinner with him. I wasn’t hungry but I figured I could just order dessert. We decided on Green Earth Vegan Cuisine on Fair Oaks. I tried going there on Tuesday but it was closed. Since this was a new restaurant for all of us, we decided to order different items on the menu, sharing family style so we could all try the food. I, of course, chose a dessert item–Thai Banana Rolls with Ice Cream–and a fresh juice, not on the menu but suggested by our waiter–carrot, apple and ginger juice. My friends picked the Groovy Green Smoothie, the Penne Tirrene, the Spinach Asparagus soup and Quinoa Sushi.
I think we were all surprised by how good the food was, especially the Spinach Asparagus soup. Everything we ordered was Vegan and flavorful–two things I never thought would go together. The only thing that I would refrain from ordering again was my carrot, apple and ginger juice. It was good but the ginger was overpowering. In a small quantity, it isn’t bad but a large glass full was too much for my taste buds to handle.
Overall, the food successes for the day made me forget (or at least let go) of the stress from my morning metro experiment disaster.
After a few days of using the Metro to get around Pasadena and Downtown LA, I contemplated taking the bus to and from work. I used the Metro Trip Planner but because of JPL and the Arroyo Seco’s placement between my home in Altadena and my workplace in La Crescenta, there was no real easy way to get to work. The shortest trip would be 1 hour and 40 minutes. I would have to get up super early in order to get to work on time. Considering I am not a morning person, I figured I could survive with the 20 minute car ride back and forth to work. Yes, gas prices here in California are the highest in the country but I figured if I just used my car to commute to work and my bike and the Metro for traveling elsewhere, I wouldn’t go bankrupt trying to fill my gas tank.
But the Universe intervened. I think someone somewhere really, really wanted me to attempt taking the bus to work on the 10th. I woke up late and when I discovered a few issues with my car, I figured I would just take the bus. The 1st period of the day was my prep period so if I left right away, I would make it to work with 30 minutes to spare before my next class. I had no clue as to what the Universe really had in store for me.
I printed out the trip planner route to get myself to work. It was a 1 hour and 40 minute trip that had me going south into Pasadena, West through Pasadena, Eagle Rock and Glendale then North from Glendale to La Crescenta. Then I would have to just hike up the hill to school. My first group of students wouldn’t be in my classroom until 9:50am so if I left at 7:30am I could make this work. It is really funny looking back at how optimistic and naive it was to think that the trip planner was accurate and everything would go according to plan.
I didn’t really take into consideration as to how long it would take me to actually walk to the bus stop. I was walking down the street with the bus stop in sight. I managed to watch as my bus pulled up and left exactly one minute before I arrived at the stop. (I was too sore to run from my 3 mile hikes home from the train). But I remained calm. I remember when I lived by USC in downtown Los Angeles that the buses would show up every 15 minutes during the morning and evening rush hours. So I pulled out my phone and clicked on my handy dandy “Go Metro” app. The next bus would be arriving at 8am. I started to panic then reminded myself that it was only a 1 hour and 40 minute trip so I would arrive in La Crescenta at 9:40am and I would still have 10 minutes to hike up the hill. Everything would be fine.
The bus arrived at the stop at 8am. I watched as the passengers departed but when I tried to board, they told me it wasn’t time yet and they pointed to the sign that said “Layover.” What?! They closed the doors and for 15 minutes, the bus driver and a co-worker sat on the bus chatting for 15 minutes. At 8:15am, they finally opened the doors and let us board. OK, I was getting stressed now. As soon as I was on board the bus, I used my phone to email the secretaries at work, telling them about my situation and that I might be a few minutes late. I would need someone to let the students in the classroom and wait for them until I hiked up the hill. One of the secretaries told me to just call when my bus arrived on foothill in La Crescenta and she would send someone down to pick me up so I wouldn’t be too late. So I started to feel a little bit better and of course my Libra optimism kicked in. Maybe the trip planner was over compensating for time. When I took the bus the other day, they didn’t have to stop at all of the stops so we arrived early. So maybe the odds will be in my favor again and everything will work out just fine. (Famous last mental words to self).
With the high gas prices, it seems that everyone is trying to save money and take the Metro to work. We stopped at every single bus stop. I kept checking my Metro app and it kept adding more and more time to my trip. But I tried to stay calm. I was doing my best to pay attention to the streets (some buses announce each stop and others do not, this was a bus that didn’t announce the stops). At each stop, I noticed that my next bus that would take me into Glendale (780 Rapid Metro) had the same stops as my current bus so I really could get off at any of these stops and just catch my next bus there. But I thought it would be best to follow the directions given to me by the Metro Trip Planner. (I should have listened to my own gut instinct).
I was just concentrating on getting off at Colorado and Fair Oaks to catch the 780 there–just like Trip Planner said. Of course, this was my first trip on my current bus 686 so I had no idea that it actually turned down Fair Oaks and I would have to walk back to Colorado to catch the 780. The 686 bus got into the left turn lane. I could see my bus stop on the Northwest corner of Fair Oaks and Colorado. I could see the 780 drive past us, stop to pick up passengers and head off toward Glendale all the while the 686 bus was still in the left turn lane. AHHHHHHHH!
The 780 bus had been right behind us. If I had gotten off at the previous stop, I would have made my connection but alas, that was not in the cards for me that day.
So I got off the bus, pulled out my phone and checked the Metro app. The next 780 bus wouldn’t arrive for another 20 minutes. AHHHHHH! There was nothing I could do. I sat on the bench, pulled out my ipod, set it for shuffle and hoped the music would calm me. But no, the Universe wanted to mess with me a bit more. Of all the songs on my ipod, the shuffle had to pick the triad of songs that the Universe used a year ago to remind me of Big (Adele “Rolling in the Deep,” Justin Timberlake “What Goes Around,” and Linkin Park “Waiting for the End”). REALLY?! REALLY?! The guy on the bench next to be decided to get up and stand as far away from me as he could. I was really shouting “Really?!” instead of saying it in my head, like I thought I was doing. I scared him.
So the bus finally arrives and for some reason, I kept telling myself that I had to get off at the Colorado and Broadway stop. But when we reached Colorado and Broadway and I requested the next stop, the bus didn’t stop. It kept going until it reached Glendale High School. So I started to think that maybe I requested the stop too late so that is why the bus driver didn’t stop. But I also didn’t notice an actual stop either. So I got off at Glendale High School and looked at the sign. I didn’t see any indication that I could catch my next bus in this area. I needed to catch the 90 to La Crescenta. So again, I pulled out my phone and checked the Metro app. I was supposed to get off at Broadway and Glendale Ave, not Broadway and Colorado. CRAP!
There was a young girl sitting there and I asked her if the 180 bus stopped at Glendale Ave. She said yes. I looked at the Metro app and it said it would be another 15 minutes before the 180 bus arrived. I figured I could just walk Glendale in that time and once again I was saying out loud what I was thinking. She told me I should just wait because the bus was right behind me. Thank God!
So now I was on the 180 bus (Thank God for my all day Metro TAP pass). I got off at Glendale Avenue and found the stop for the 90 bus. I sat down on the bench and emailed the secretaries to give them an update. It was now after 9am and according to the Metro app, I had another 50 minutes until I reached La Crescenta. The weather was finally cooler but I was sweating from all the confusion that I had endured over the past hour and a half.
The 90 finally arrived and I just sat back, succumbing to my circumstances. There was nothing I could do but just sit back and wait until I reached my final stop.
I called the school secretary as soon as I got off the bus. She was coming down to pick me up. I decided I would just start to make my way up the hill anyways. But my legs were sore from previous adventures and hikes. The hill up to my school is steep and my calves were on fire with each step. But I urge myself to keep moving. The secretary finally pulled up and drove me to the front of the school. I had another small hill to conquer before reaching my classroom. It was 10:10am (again, cosmic joke on me) when I finally walked into my classroom.
So if I had actually made it in time for the first bus, (and the other connections), I would have arrived at work at 9:10am. But no, my first trip via Metro bus had me arriving an hour later. With our school’s block scheduling and my prep period being the first block on even days, I only missed 20 minutes of my 4th period class. But if I want to take the Metro on an odd day (and factoring in time for any mishaps), I would have to take the 5:30am bus to make it to work by 7:30am. That is never going to happen so I guess it is safe to say that this was my first and last trip to work using the Metro as my mode of transportation.