Posted in Family, Life, Relationships

It’s OK to be Single!

Next month, my younger cousin is getting married and for my paternal side of the family, that means that my sister and I will be the only single female first cousins remaining. Many family members love to point this out to us and bring up the usual slew of questions that all singletons loathe. When are you going to find yourself a good man and settle down? Aren’t you lonely? You aren’t getting any younger. Don’t you want to have babies?

My usual response to the “Don’t you want to settle down and get married?” inquisition is often “Sure. Once I find a man who is willing to marry me in a cemetery on Halloween at sunset and honeymoon in Transylvania, then I will get married and spawn.” The best part is that they think I am joking…those who know me know I am actually telling the truth.

I am 37 years old (turning 38 in October) and I have no problem with my single status. I was raised to be independent. I can bake a cake from scratch and while it is in the oven, I can build bookshelves, install a garbage disposal, fix a toilet, snake a drain and sew an apron or two. I can take care of things myself and I cringe when someone tells me that I need to find a man to take care of me.

Many of my friends went to college for their MRS degree; I went to follow my dreams. Yes, there was a time where I thought I would meet the right guy while at college and we would get married, have kids, etc.–the Midwestern life path. But that didn’t happen for me. I met a lot of Mr. Wrongs. I was trying to figure myself out and many guys came in trying to change me or mold me into what they wanted me to be.

I know who I am and I finally like the person I have become. I won’t change that for any guy. I also won’t go back to hiding certain aspects of my life. If the right guy comes along then he will accept me for me–the light, the dark, the crazy and everything in-between.

He would have to accept that I am very independent–I am a self-rescuing Princess. If he wants a damsel in distress, then I am not the girl he is looking for.

My career is important to me so I would need him to understand the entertainment industry and not flip-out when we attend events with celebrities. Celebrities are just people who make a lot more money than the rest of us.

And I wouldn’t want to be with someone whose only interest in me is my career. I have had to deal with guys trying to use me for my work connections, hoping it will help them with their own careers. But I am now an expert at spotting those guys–and there are so many of them here in LA.

Speaking of LA, I am also a curvy girl. I am not a skinny minnie, “please feed me” supermodel looking kind of woman. I have large breasts–and they are real, not silicone. They actually move and if you ever see me run, I would be holding them so I don’t give myself two black eyes.

And right now, I am not in the best shape. My body has taken a toll from all the grief and stress over the past 15 months. I used to be thin but I have packed on 20 pounds thanks to comfort food. It would be nice to have a guy who would be interested in getting healthy again with me, maybe even encourage me. I used to hike every day and workout 5 times a week plus dancing–I am working on getting back to being that version of myself and would need someone who understands that.

Here in LA there is a pressure to look a certain way and I don’t look like that. I hate wearing make-up. I don’t like that whole “getting ready” process of hair, make-up and dressing all girly. I can do it. Sometimes I have to do it but thank God for my girlie girl friends and my gay guy friends who will help.

I also have cats. I only have two so I haven’t hit crazy cat lady status yet but my cats are my furbabies. If I had a bigger place, I would also have dogs. All my babies come from rescue shelters and I do have to be careful because I would take them all home if I could.

I am also a big GEEK. I have the same birthday as Carrie Fisher (which I have discussed with her several times) and I am a huge Star Wars fan. Not liking Star Wars is a deal breaker for me (they don’t have to love it like I do but they do have to like it enough to watch the movies) and pretending to like Star Wars will definitely not fly with me. He wouldn’t have to attend all the conventions with me but he would have to be able to understand my love for all things Han and Leia.

He would also have to understand and accept my love for Dracula. For me, Dracula links me to my late father. My Dad was a huge Bela Lugosi fan and he always dressed up as Dracula for Halloween when we were kids. He even named our dog Bela. I have also befriended the Lugosi family so my Dracula collection is priceless to me.

And of course, Halloween is my all-time favorite holiday. I was born on October 21st so Halloween is a part of me. I once had a Halloween themed bathroom just so I could keep the decorations out all year round (I also had a Bates Motel bathroom in my Reno apt). I have an entire storage space housing all of my Halloween decorations–and I like the scary decor, not the cutesy crap.

But even if a guy could handle the independence, the career, the curvy body, the anti-girly girl, the animal lover, the geekiness, and the love for Dracula, Halloween & the like, there is an aspect of my life that most men can’t get passed and some friends have trouble dealing with it as well. I descend from a long line of gypsies that left Italy and settled in West Virginia. I have inherited the familial “gifts,” along with several other family members. I have been able to see and hear spirits since I was a child. I have taken classes to hone and control these “gifts”–though my ability to know when people will die feels more like a curse than a gift. I guess you could label me as an empathic intuitive medium. Someone even called me a lightworker and a natural healer. I have also studied shamanism. The geek girl in me likes to say that I am Force sensitive–the Force is strong in my family.

So, as you can see there is a lot going on and I haven’t found a guy who can handle me–all of me. Maybe I will find him, maybe I won’t. I am good with being alone. Yes, it would be nice to have an understanding partner-in-crime that I could drag to work events, movie screenings and comic conventions but I have friends and an awesome intern/assistant that often step in as my plus one. I would rather remain single instead of settling into a life with the wrong person.

I would hope that if my family truly wants me to be happy then they will just accept that this is the life that I have chosen for myself and whatever will happen will happen. They see me as “37” but I see myself as “only 37.” I still have a lot of life ahead of me and I still have so much to do. I am trying not to focus on what I don’t have. I am grateful for what I do have. I am OK as I am so there really is no need to continue the inquisition. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Thank you and good night!

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Posted in Exploration, Life, Personal Challenge, Southern California, Tourism, Travel, Universe

I’ve Still Got A Ticket To Ride . . . For 2.5 Hours: Personal Challenge, Day 24 (10.10.12)

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.

Cheapest gas prices in La Crescenta, CA

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.

Posted in Exploration, Life, Personal Challenge, Southern California, Spirituality, Tourism, Travel, Universe

I’ve Got A Ticket To Ride: Personal Challenge, Day 23 (10.9.12)

Today started off great.  The weather cooled down and it finally felt like Fall.  I actually wore a sweatshirt this morning.  I was in a good mood despite my sore body.

But then the sun came out and my mood got worse (it must be opposite day).  I had a freak out about finances and rising gas prices.  Since my paycut this year (they changed my schedule so I can no longer make extra money doing supervision), I am struggling to keep up with the rising gas prices.  I do have to admit that I have spent more money than I planned on this personal challenge–most of the money spent on food and gas.  But over $5.00 a gallon for gas is ridiculous.  So I did what I always do when I get into panic mode, I went to see my therapist.

After a grounding 45 minute session, I had a new outlook on things, new solutions to my problems, and a smile on my face when I noticed that the clouds had returned.

And my perspective returned.  I am the queen of stretching a dollar.  So I had to look at what I have at my disposal.  I have the free Metro TAP card that I received, offering me the chance to try out the Metro for 5 consecutive days.  I first used it on Sunday and it is good until the 11th.  So I am going to use this pass as often as I can.  I tried to find a good route via the Metro to get to work but all routes point to an hour and a half commute.  Since I am not a morning person, that isn’t going to work for me.  (But I am going to try it out tomorrow to see if it is really possible).  So I will just use my car to go back and forth to work.  I can ride my bike down to the grocery store and use the Metro to go anywhere else.  A monthly pass on the Metro is $75–the current price of one tank of gas for my Cavalier.  This will eliminate the gas I waste driving to all my new adventures as well as the gas wasted trying to find parking spaces.  It will also eliminate the fees for parking.  But the best part, it will help me lose the weight I gained after my car accident.  Hopefully, I will work my way up to riding my bike to and from the different places as well.  (I really have to work on going uphill).

So tonight, I decided to give this new plan a try.  I parked my car in the driveway and headed to the closest bus stop.  I downloaded the Metro app on my phone and used that to track the local buses.  I hopped on the bus that took me to the Gold Line train station and I took the Gold Line to Old Town Pasadena (Memorial Park station).

Once again, I pulled out my phone and used my Pasadena app (and eventually Yelp) to find a place to eat.  I decided I was going to try this Vegan restaurant called Green Earth Vegan cuisine on Fair Oaks.  I am not a Vegan or a Vegetarian by any means but I have some friends who are hardcore vegetarians.  So I thought I would check out a place where I could possibly take them when they visit.

I made my way over to Fair Oaks and found Green Earth Vegan just south of Colorado on Fair Oaks.  I also discovered that it was closed.  Yep, it is closed on Tuesdays.  So I pulled out my phone and went to Yelp for assistance.  There are tons of restaurants on Old Town but they are too pricey for my taste.  So I filtered my search for a restaurant with a good rating and only one dollar sign.  It turns out that the number one choice is right next to Green Earth Vegan–El Toreo.  Mexican sounded good to me.

So I walked in and instantly I felt like I was walking into someone’s home for dinner.  Everyone in the restaurant seemed to know each other.  There was a group of guys at the first table watching a ball game, playing dominoes, and enjoying their tacos and cervezas.  I sat down in a booth, placed my drink order and started to browse through the menu.  I ordered the carnitas dinner and enjoyed my complementary chips and salsa.  I looked over at the TV and noticed that the baseball game playing just happened to feature my hometown team, the Detroit Tigers.  The Universe is so funny sometimes.

As for my meal, it was really good but it can’t beat the carnitas tacos at El Patron in Altadena.  But I would happily return to El Toreo to try some of the other items on their menu.

So with a very full belly, I made my way back to the Memorial Park Metro Station and hopped on the Gold Line train back to Allen.  But according to my Metro app, I had a 30 minute wait for the next bus.  I decided to just walk home, just like I did on Sunday.  It was a nice cool night and to my delight, as I approached my neighborhood, it started to sprinkle.  The drizzle felt nice and cool after the walk home.

Obviously, the travel time is longer than driving but overall, I found the bus and train experience to be so much more relaxing.  And it almost felt like the Universe was telling me that I made the right decision (about using the Metro) by giving me the gift rain in the last leg of my journey tonight.

As for my Metro adventure tomorrow, I am going to try out the suggested routes and see how if taking the Metro to and from work is a possibility.  Stay tuned.

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Posted in Exploration, Life, Personal Challenge, Spirituality, Tourism, Travel, Universe

Gallery of Inspiration: Personal Challenge, Day 17 (10.3.12)

Have you ever had one of those days where it becomes so clear that the Universe has plans for your life?  Well, I had one of those days.  I spent some time after work going through Pasadena View’s website and their page, 365 things to do in Pasadena page.  I printed out the listed, crossed off the places I had already visited and started to do some research on some of the events.  Then it just became a chain of events.  Google led me to Pasadena View’s website, the 365 Things to Do page led me to the Old Pasadena website and the Events page led me to a Gallery and Bookstore that I had never heard of before, Flower Pepper Gallery & Bookstore.  The name alone caught my attention.  But the events page mentioned that this particular gallery currently had a group show in exhibition entitled “The Color Blue.”  I clicked on the more info page and the show advertisement caught my eye.  I found the image intriguing and wanted to see more.  The title of the exhibit could mean so many different things (I started to think of Picaso’s Blue period) so the best way to satisfy my curiousity was to head over to Flower Pepper and check it out.

When I arrived in Old Town, I immediately found a paking spot right in front of the gallery (that never happens to me).  The Flower Pepper Gallery & Bookstore is literally right on the corner of Union and N. Arroyo Parkway.  When I first walked in, I was greeted by the extremely nice and courteous staff.  I probably could have stood there talking for hours, but I had only put 45 minutes worth of coins in the meter and of course the gallery would eventually have to close.

The art work in the exhibit, created by several local artists, truly fits the theme of “The Color Blue.”  The image titled “Baby Blue” by Dustin Myers was the first to catch my eye.  If I only had large quantities of money to spend on artwork, this would be the first added to my art collection.  And the image “The Comfort of Apathy” by Ryan Myers would be the perfect gift for my college roommate; this is an image that I think many from my generation would want hanging in their homes, reminding us of our own childhood (and Pee Wee Herman).

Every image in the exhibit had great depth and detail, leaving the true meanings of the work open for multiple interpretations.  The images are displayed on the Flower Pepper Gallery Bookstore website but I highly suggest heading down to Old Town Pasadena (if you are in the LA area) and checking them out in person.  They will be on display until October 19th and a new exhibit opens on the 20th (stop by and meet the artists opening night–contact the Gallery for more details).

This is definitely an art gallery that I would definitely want to check out every time they have a new exhibit.  Like I said, I think the Universe wanted me to go there today.  I made a new friend and hopefully a new partnership that will help me with one of my goals on my bucket list: to make a difference in the lives of others.  So stay tuned.  I think I will be writing more about the Flower Pepper in the future.

Posted in Exploration, Life, Personal Challenge, Tourism, Travel, Writing

Third Times The Charm: Personal Challenge, Day 16 (10.2.12)

By Eureka, I found one. I found a library in Los Angeles that is actually quiet. I was feeling really discouraged after visiting the San Gabriel and Altadena Public Libraries. But I figured I would give it one more try and visit one more public library.

Well, when it comes to the Sierre Madre Public Library, I will simply say that third times the charm. This small and quiet library is located on Sierre Madre Blvd in what seems like a quaint little community deemed as “the gateway to the mountains.”

Up until Saturday, I didn’t even know this town existed. I drive past Sierre Madre Blvd. practically every day but never knew it led to an area that reminds me of the quiet little mountain towns you would expect in Colorado or see in the movies. On Saturday, my California sister took me here to have lunch with her friends and family. As we drove to our lunch destination, I made a mental note to return to this area to explore. But with the heat still in the triple digits here in Southern California, I opted to just check out the Library first. I can wander around the town when the weather cools.

The library itself is smaller than the Altadena branch but there are no children running around, screaming or throwing tantrums. I felt like I walked into a real library, not a daycare. There are plenty of kids here but they are actually reading or doing homework. There are comfortable little maroon chairs with attached swivel tables, an ideal spot for studying or writing. There are several tables with four chairs surrounding each, an excellent space for study groups. There are computer stations and little cubby spaces for privacy. There are even counters along the windows to allow several people the chance to have a workspace with a view. Now there is a kid section but the best thing about this library is that the kid’s section is separated from the rest of the library through placement of a room in the back of the library. I was so excited to be in a real library, not a daycare pretending to be a library. I would definitely come back here to work on my writing.

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

A Tale of Two Bookstores … and a Library: Personal Challenge, Day 15 (10.1.12)

Apparently Mother Nature forgot to inform California that it is the first day of October.  It should not be 105 degrees in Los Angeles in the fall.  I know I am a Midwestern transplant but I think even native Angelenos would admit that this weather is ridiculous.

So today, the only option is to beat the heat and I thought the best way to do that would be to stop at a bookstore/coffeehouse and then head off to library to do some writing.

Since I am loving the local Mom and Pop stores and restaurants all over Los Angeles, I decided that I would stop by the Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse.  When I walked in, my first impression is that this is a smaller version of Vroman’s Bookstores in Pasadena.  But Vroman’s doesn’t have an Espresso Book Machine where you can publish your own books.  I stood, in awe, watching as this machine printed and bound books created by local authors or books selected from their “On Demand” printing service.  I had never seen anything like this before and it instantly got me thinking about publishing my own book.  How cool would it be to create your own paperback novel or memoir?

With this new wave of inspiration flowing over me, I decided to grab an ice blended coffee from the Flintridge Coffeehouse and head home to grab my laptop.  Then it would be off to the Altadena Library.  I had never been there before but it was close to my house, it has air-conditioning and free wi-fi.  Also, the book “Hometown Pasadena” described it as an ideal place for writing that is “quieter and less crowded than the Pasadena Central Library” and it has a reading area with armchairs.  It sounded like the perfect place to create a novel.

When I arrived at the Altadena Public Library, located on the corner of Mariposa and Santa Rosa, I noticed the large area in the center set aside for reading and writing (via laptop).  But I also noticed the noise coming from the kids area.  I walked around, looking for a place to sit that would be as far as possible from the kids area. The library isn’t that big so there really was no escaping the kids section.  Ironically, the area furthest away from the kids section is an area reserved for teens and young adults.  Seriously?  So the “Adults” are sandwiched between chatty teenagers and obnoxious kids who were never informed by their “bad parents” that you are supposed to be quiet in a library.  I guess that explains why so many adults trying to work or read in the middle section were wearing noise-cancelling headphones.

I was grateful that I remembered to bring my ear buds but cursing myself for not thinking to bring my own noise-cancelling headphones.  It was so hard to concentrate, even with my iPod at full blast (I could still hear the children).  Kids were screaming, throwing tantrums and one little girl was even singing as loud as her voice would allow her.  It was just like the kids running around the San Gabriel Library (I only noticed one girl running around and dancing between the book stacks at the Altadena Library).  “Hometown Pasadena” said it was quieter and less crowded at this library than the Pasadena Central Library so I guess there is no need for me to ever go there.  I tried my best to tune out the noise and concentrate but I couldn’t.  I have trained teacher ears that can hear the tapping of a teenagers fingertips on an iPhone’s touch screen from across a classroom.  I just couldn’t take it so I packed up and left.

The most peaceful spot in the whole library, located on the benches outside. Too bad it was 105 degrees.

Now I don’t blame the children for being obnoxious little brats.  I blame the parents for not teaching them manners.  When I was a kid, I loved the library.  I loved all the places I could go in my imagination while turning the pages of the different books that lived there.  My Mom used to take me to so many different libraries and she always told me that I had to be quiet.  It was common courtesy and common sense to be quiet in a library.  And if you were not obeying the silence rule, there was always a scary librarian who would enforce it and make you leave if you were bothering others.  What happened?  Why are parents letting their kids behave in such a rude manner and why are the library officials allowing this to happen.  I can honestly say that I won’t be returning to the Altadena Library and I am rethinking possible visits to other libraries.  I have been to two public libraries within the past week and they didn’t feel like a peaceful learning institution; they were Chuck E Cheese bounce house playrooms from hell.

So I decided to head down to Vroman’s bookstore on Colorado in Pasadena.  It is a strange, strange world when a bookstore is a quiet, peaceful alternative to a library.

But it was a good thing that I showed up at Vroman’s when I did.  There was a poetry reading and book signing going on upstairs.  My last book signing occurred when I was in college and listened to the late great Ray Bradbury during one of his many visits to USC.  I had never been to a poetry reading so I thought I would check it out.

The author was Dana Gioia reading poems from his new book “Pity The Beautiful: Poems.”  I arrived at the upstairs meeting area just in time to hear a poem about the past.  I didn’t get a chance to hear the title of the poem but the words reminded me of my own past and seemed to describe feelings that I once felt with a man from my past, my own Mr. Big.  I listened a bit longer but left before the crowd started to line-up for the book signing.  (I noticed his website has a link to an article, written by Carol Muske-Dukes for the Huffington Post, that mentions his new book, “Pity the Beautiful.” While I was at USC, Carol Muske-Dukes was my poetry professor in the English/Creative Writing Department).

So my lessons learned today: I am very disappointed in the local public library system but I am in love with the local independent bookstores.  I don’t think I could ever go back to the chain stores like Barnes and Noble.  And I don’t think I will return to another public library (to actually work on my writing) until parents learn how to be parents–or the librarians start to stand up to these obnoxious familes and maintain a peaceful working environment for all.

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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