Posted in Life

I Just Want A Home

Have you ever gone through a difficult period in your life and you can’t help but ask why?  Why is this happening?  Why can’t I ever catch a break?  Everything is supposed to happen for a reason.  There are life lessons that come out of all difficult situations but will there ever be a break between lessons–kinda like a summer vacation?

Recently, I have found myself in yet another difficult living situation.  All of my problems from my previous rentals have gathered up and taken form in my current apartment (I still have 9 more months on my lease).  Cockroaches–like I had in my North Hollywood apartment but not as bad since I have only seen three thus far.  The thin walls with the noisy guy living next door who likes to clean, vacuum and build things at 2am–just like my La Crescenta apartment.  Again the thin walls with a neighbor who likes to blare their TV really loud and loud neighbors in the next apartment building who like to throw parties every night (but this time they are Hispanic instead of Armenian)–just like my Tujunga apartment.  The old, stubborn landlord who refuses to compromise on anything, blames all plumbing problems on you (cause he never had that kind of problem in 40 years…) and tries to bully & threaten you any chance he gets–just like my Altadena haunted house.

I just can’t help but think, how nice it is for the universe to bring all these issues together in one and make me aware of everything right after I sign the lease and I am trapped.  Seriously?  Didn’t I learn these lessons already?  Am I ever going to find a place that will feel like a home and not make me want to move the minute my lease is up?  This is my 5th place in 5 years and I am wishing I could move on to number 6.  What am I doing wrong?  Will I ever find a place that I will be able to call home?

Posted in Life, movies, Personal Challenge

Burn Movie Premiere: Personal Challenge, Day 43 (10.29.12)

Tonight was the LA Premiere of a film that is very near and dear to my heart.  The film was made by two of my friends and it is about my hometown of Detroit.  This film is called Burn: A Year on the Front Lines of the Battle to Save Detroit.

This is a documentary on the lives of the firefighters in Detroit.  It will make you laugh, it will make you cry and it will open your eyes to what is really going on in our own country in terms of budget cuts made by politicians and how those cuts affect the working class.  I cried several times throughout the film.  It also made me a little homesick–with everyone drinking Vernors and talking about going to eat at National Coney Island.

At the premiere, I had the chance to spend some time with the firefighters who are featured in the film.  They flew out to LA just to be there for the Grauman’s Egyptian Theater premiere.  We all reveled in what a small world it is.  One firefighter, “Doogie,” went to school in the same school district and graduated a year after me.  It turns out that we used to hang out at the same places and were probably there at the same time.  Another firefighter, Dave Miller, lives fairly close to my older brother.  After seeing this film, I feel like I know them, like they are family.  I received several hugs from Dave Parnell, a retired Detroit firefighter, that evening, just because I am a Detroit native and I support this film.

It opens this Friday in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Noho 7 in North Hollywood.  This film will change your lives and it may even just change the way you vote next Tuesday.  Check out the Burn website for more information, to see the movie trailer, or to find out if it is going to be playing in any theaters near you.

Posted in Family, Life, movies

BURN: One Year on the Front Lines of the Battle to Save Detroit

Please check out this trailer for a documentary called Burn: One Year on the Front Lines of the Battle to Save Detroit, made by two of my very talented friends.  This film is very near and dear to my heart, not just because my friends made it but because it is about my home town.  This is an amazing film that my own sister-in-law said was life-changing.  If you live in the Los Angeles area, the film is premiering on October 29th at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.  You can check out the Burn website to see if it will be screened in your area, if it is not, please donate to the film so it can reach more theaters across the country.  And to my friends back home, Burn opens in Sterling Heights at the AMC Forum 30 on December 30th–so if you missed the Detroit Premiere, you can check it out then.

So please, help support my hometown and the heroes trying to save it.

Posted in Exploration, Life, Personal Challenge, Photography, Southern California, Tourism, Travel, Writing

A Day Filled With History: Personal Challenge, Day 14 (9.30.12)

With the unseasonably warm weather reaching 100 degrees today, I opted for something indoors.  When you live in a city rich with history, a museum is a great place to visit to beat the heat.  For today, I chose the Pasadena Museum of History.

The Pasadena Museum of History, located at the corner of Orange Grove and Walnut, was founded in 1924.  If you want to know anything about the history of Pasadena and the surrounding areas, this is the place to go.  Admission is $7 for adults and there are annual memberships available starting at $50.  On their website, I found an application for an Educator membership which is free for the first year.  Of course, that is the membership I chose.

When you first arrive at the museum, go to the Museum Store, located to the left of the entrance.  You pay the admission fee there or you can purchase a membership.  The ladies who work there are extremely helpful.  I told them about my personal challenge to go to a different place every day for a year.  Inside the store, there are numerous history and tour books about Pasadena, Mount Lowe, Mount Wilson and the surrounding areas.  I personally found several books to aid me in my quest, including the book “Hometown Pasadena.”

After spending way too much time in the Museum store, I finally headed over to the exhibit hall.  There are currently two exhibits.  When you walk in, there is a docent to provide you with additional information about each exhibit.  To the right, there is an exhibit on the Doo Dah Parade.  I had never heard of the Doo Dah Parade before but the flamboyant costumes on display caught my eye and I decided I would explore this exhibit first.

The Doo Dah Parade is an annual parade in Pasadena that is the opposite of the formal Rose Parade.  While walking through the exhibit and viewing the costumes and pictures, I started to think that this is a parade where the West Hollywood Halloween Parade and Burning Man converge.  The first official Doo Dah Parade occurred on Sunday January 1, 1978.  It is tradition that the Rose Parade always takes place on January 1st but they won’t march on a Sunday.  So a group of friends gathered together for this alternative parade that has spanned similar Doo Dah Parades in Ohio and New Jersey.

The Pasadena Doo Dah parade no longer takes place in January.  It has now moved to the first weekend before May Day.  The next Pasadena Doo Dah parade will take place on April 27, 2013.  I  definitely plan on attending and seeing all this alternative parade has to offer first hand.

On the left side of the Pasadena Museum of History exhibit hall, there is a look back at the old Pacific Electric Railway.  This exhibit consists mostly of historical photographs of the old railway cars seen throughout the Los Angeles area with pictures of what those areas look like today.  As a photographer, I found this exhibit to be absolutely fascinating.  It is hard to imagine a time in Los Angeles where it cost $.60 for a round trip ticket on the rail system and it only took 20 minutes to get anywhere in Los Angeles.  Today, Metro fares start at $1.80 one way.  But the majority of people in Los Angeles drive at a current price of $4.25 per gallon of gas and it could take you only 20 minutes to drive anywhere in Los Angeles, if you were on the freeways at 3am.  During rush hour traffic, all freeways do a great impression of a parking lot and it can take around an hour and a half just to drive 20 miles.

I actually found this exhibit inspiring.  I love the idea of looking at the historical photographs of Los Angeles (and this museum houses thousands of them) and going to those areas today to see how much they have changed or perhaps stayed the same with preservation efforts.  This exhibit had quite an impact on me–I bought the book, Pacific Electric Railways: Then and Now, with the displayed photographs and many others.

There is a historical mansion located on the property of the Pasadena Museum of History, the Feynes Mansion.  Unfortunately, the mansion was closed for restoration efforts and will reopen for tours in December.  There are members only “First Peek” tours in November.  I will have to return to explore the mansion then.

As I was leaving the museum, my stomach started to growl.  I thought this would be the perfect time to check out the Pie N’ Burger restaurant that I have heard numerous people, specifically yesterday at the Archery Range, rave about.

Pie N’ Burger is located on California just east of Lake.  There is no parking lot but plenty of street parking on California and Lake.  When I walked in, I felt like I stepped back in time.  This 60s Diner style restaurant had what had to be its original cash register and Hamilton Beach shake mixer.  Pie N’ Burger first opened in 1963 and it remains at its original location with the original decor and one of the original waitresses.  Just be warned that they are a CASH ONLY establishment.  As one patron told me, “they didn’t have credit cards or debit cards in the 60s.”

Now as for the food, I was impressed.  I ordered the original hamburger with cheese (minus Thousand Island dressing), a side of fries and a slice of Boysenberry pie (recommended by my waitress).  I ordered a diet coke and watched as my waitress hand mixed the syrup with soda water.  I asked and it is even the same menu, with the addition of a few items like a vegetarian burger, and of course an increase in prices.  I wish I would have ordered an ice cream soda instead of a diet coke.  I think it would have been interesting to have an authentic Ice Cream Soda.  Even though this is a little pricey for me (kinda of close in price to the Johnny Rocket’s prices, maybe a little cheaper), it was worth it and I will definitely go back.  (I can guarantee my Mom will want to go here when she comes to visit).

All and all, I would say this was a very successful day.  Actually, a successful weekend to make up for what I thought was a disappointing Friday trip.

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Posted in Family, Life

When Tragedy Strikes!

Today an accident occurred in my home leaving two injured and another with critical life threatening injuries.  It is a sad day today.

The morning started off fairly normal, for Spring Break.  I was excited when the mail arrived and I received the packages that my parents sent me from Detroit.  I have been waiting for these boxes that contained Thomas the Train bedroom decor for my honorary nephew, Lex.  The other box contained Pirates of the Caribbean decor for my real nephew’s bedroom in my house.

My mother had mentioned that she sent some of my Christmas presents that I had left behind.  So as I started unpacking the boxes, I realized that she had included my 7 Michigan Gnomes.  My heart started to pound when I noticed that they were not bubble-wrapped.  They were simply rolled up in plastic grocery bags.  This is where the horror began.

I opened the Detroit Lions Gnome first.  I heard something rattling in his hollow body and after further inspection, I noticed that he was missing the point off his head.  (A Detroit Lion losing points, interesting).  Then I reached for the next Gnome, my Michigan Football Gnome.  Again, I heard the rattling.  This time he was missing part of his hand, arm and the bottom of the football.  A Michigan Gnome without his football is devastating.  I was too afraid to continue.  Each Gnome was looking worse and worse.  But I realized I had to push through it, I was strong enough to survive this Ginormous devastation.

Instantly my heart sank when I heard rattling as I lifted the bag.  I peeked in and gasped.  The Red Wings Gnome had sustained the worst penalty known to a Gnome.  His pointy hat was destroyed.  He was amputated at the knees.  And worst of all, his hockey stick was ripped from his hands.  The Lions Gnome and Michigan Gnome have a chance of surviving–with a few parts missing–but I don’t think I have enough Gorilla glue to put the Red Wings Gnome back together again.

But I won’t give up on my Gnome.  Snow White had her seven dwarfs and with God as my witness, I will have my seven Gnomes.  I will do everything in my power to piece them back together, no matter how long it takes or how much glue I have to buy.  And so what if they are not perfect in the end.  Everyone has flaws, no one is perfect.  Their scars show their strength and give them character.  Like I always say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

Viva La Gnomes!

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Posted in Astrology, Life, Relationships, Spirituality, Universe

The Libra Moon

Last night’s full moon was the Libra moon, a time to strive for peace and harmony.  As a Libra myself, I found last night’s moon mesmerizing.  There was just a little bit of haze in the Southern California sky that created a halo around the moon.  It was absolutely beautiful.  I tried my best to capture the moment but a camera can only do so much.

In Asian cultures, this full moon is known as the peaceful Crane Moon.  One should fold 1,000 origami cranes and their dreams will come true.  For many, they dream of peace and harmony.  In Japan, the crane is one of their mystical creatures, like dragons, that are said to live for a thousand years.  So when you make 1,000 origami cranes and string them together, the crane will grant you a wish, such as long life or recovery from illness.  This is traditionally given to special friends or family members, often on their wedding day representing a wish for a long happy marriage.  I once worked with a guy when I lived in Florida who spent a month making 1,000 paper cranes for his girlfriend, which he presented to her on her birthday when he proposed marriage.  She said yes so I guess he got his wish.

Either way, the crane is supposed to bring health and happiness, peace and harmony–just like the Libra scales.  I didn’t have time to make 1,000 paper cranes last night (I do have Tibetan prayers flags hanging all over my house, does that count?)  But I did read about a Druid peace prayer and ritual that could be done instead of making 1,000 paper cranes on this full moon.  Here is what you do:

“Draw a rough outline of a crane in salt on a plate, pouring into the salt all your beliefs about finding inner peace or witnessing world peace.  Allow the salt’s bitterness to soak up your fears and doubts.  Pour the salt into a bowl of water.  As you watch those beliefs and emotions dissolve, recite the Druid’s Peace Prayer: Deep within the still center of my being, may I find peace. Silently within the quiet of the Grove, may I share peace. Gently and powerfully, within the greater circle of mankind, may I radiate peace.” ~Kristin Madden, Llewellyn’s Witches Datebook 2012.

Personally, I like to take a long hot bath during the Full Moon–a literal cleansing to coincide with a spiritual one.  Then I like to go outside with a hot cup of tea, and stare up at the stars.  This is my own personal version of a Full Moon Meditation.  I do this on every full moon.  But like I said before, I am a Libra.  I am always in search of peace and harmony.

And in that spirit, I would suggest that one should try to make peace with their past (or a troubled relationship/friendship) in order to feel a sense of inner peace.  Use this as a time to let go–think of it as a form of Spring Cleaning.