And I come full circle.

It happens every day on the DTLA streets.  You are walking down Broadway or around Pershing Square and there is someone having a very intense and sometimes rather boisterous conversation…with themselves.  Those are the people that I generally avoid.  Not because I’m afraid of them, but because you never want to be too close just in case.  Self-preservation.

In fact, it happened this very morning.  I was walking along my normal route between home and office when someone was having a fairly serious debate with themselves.  It took me a few moments to realize that person was me.

Yes, on this very day, DTLA has finally caught up to me. It is true that generally I have a running dialogue going on in my head about the day’s tasks, work that needs to be done, or thinking through whatever shenanigans I found myself involved in the night before. But it seems with several topics and necessary decisions to be made, my mind was overflowing with confused and jumbled thoughts that made no sense at all and required some serious sorting.  Unfortunately, that sorting took place on the streets of the city and in earshot of many of my fellow pedestrians.

Well, my dear DTLA, you have finally and wholeheartedly won me over.  Now I may never be able to leave…

Advertisements

With a little help from my friends…

I’ve been rather busy over the past couple of months.  Not busy with work or travel, but trying to keep up with changing schedules and changing routines.  While I’ve had a lot of fun, a bit of drama, and some heartbreak, I’ve also experienced a lot more of DTLA and beyond.  My more recent experiences made me a true believer in fate, destiny and signs from above.

As some of you know, or have seen me write about in the past, my dad passed away July 2010.  Before that, in June 2010, I lost a mentor – a guy larger than life who gave me direction when I was a wee baby of 23 and believed in my abilities far beyond anything I saw possible for myself.  Suffice it to say, losing two of the people I relied on and trusted most in this world left me a little lost.  Who was going to give me advice about what to do next?  Who would be there when I needed help and support in the future?

More than a year has passed and I still find myself asking my dad and my mentor questions, but I was always hit with silence in return.  What was I expecting to hear, right?  I’m just some girl shouting at the sky asking for a sign.

Then I took a trip to Coffee Bean on 5thand Grand with a very good friend.  We were talking while waiting for our caffeinated beverages when a woman turned around and said

Which way?!

to my friend, “You’re a very attractive man.”  My friend blushed from head to toe.  “You have a good soul and aura surrounding you,” she continued.  My friend seemed a little taken aback by the statements, so I stepped in and said, “he is a good soul, that’s why I keep him around.”  The conversation progressed to include her experiences in the Vietnam War, her beliefs in the cycles from life to death and back, and finally an edict to me to do yoga every day.  I asked if she could tell I was stressed out.  She said, “honey, I am 68 years old and I’ve learned that yoga every day eases the mind and the soul.”  I’m sorry to say I have not taken this advice yet.

I left the Coffee Bean thinking I was really happy I met this woman.

A week later I was making one of my regular trips to Culver City to see my roommate and other friends at a restaurant there.  I make it a point to go visit on Sundays when the patron traffic is low and I can sit at the corner of the bar while people rotate in to talk.  I was running late leaving my apartment and missed the first Rapid Transit 733 heading west.  I decided not to grab the local connection opting to wait on the next Rapid Transit thinking I could get there faster.  When I got onto the 733, I took a seat near the back.  Three stops later, who gets on but the same woman I met in Coffee Bean.  I thought “what a small world we are both on the same bus.”  Forty-five minutes later my stop was approaching.  Someone else already pulled the chord to light the “Stop Requested” sign, so I sat quietly and waited.  When the doors opened, I headed to the exit only to see that this woman was exiting the bus too.  As we got off I smiled and said, “Have a good night.”  She smiled and said, “Why you have a blessed night, too.”

A week after that, things happened that had me asking my dad and mentor for some guidance.  It was the Thursday before Halloween.  It began as any other day but ended in emotional upheaval.  So Saturday I did the only thing I thought I could do.  LAX CarShare became my escape hatch and I decided to leave DTLA for a while.

I was crossing the light at Broadway and 5th heading to Pershing Square to pick up the car when I saw the woman again.  We both looked at each other and stopped.  “I’ve seen you before many times, haven’t I,” she said.  I smiled and looked down at my feet, “Yes, in fact this is the third time we’ve run into each other.”  “You were on the bus to Culver City, weren’t you,” she asked.  “Oh yes, that was me,” I responded.  She laughed a little and said “that night I wanted to turn around and tell you how lovely you are.  You have this ability to make people feel welcome and safe, did you know that?”  “No, I mean I try to be friendly, but I’ve never thought of it that way,” I said.  “Why do you do that?  Why are you so amiable?” she asked.  “I guess if my options are to ignore you and be rude or say hello, I’m going to say hello.  You never know who you’ll meet or what they will be in your life if you are closed off all the time,” I said.

Feeling a little ridiculous that I was having this conversation with a stranger I made a move to leave, but she held strong.  She gave me her name and I gave her mine.  We stood there for a long time talking about spirituality and life.

Then she said something that left me speechless.  “I have something to tell you, no I have something I have to tell you.”  Initially, I was a little wary.  But then she continued, “Do you know what happens in relationships between men and women?  Their physical attractions bring them together and create a connection.  Eventually people think it’s a strong bond or even love, but it’s just an attachment to the other person.  There is nothing wrong with that.  But, do you know what the opposite of attachment is for you right now?  Pain.  You are going to feel pain.  But don’t worry you’re not alone.  There are people surrounding you who love you.  I know you don’t see them right now, but they are there.”

I thanked her for her words and said I really had to go.  I told her I looked forward to the next time we would run into each other.  I haven’t seen her since that day.

Why do I believe in fate, destiny and signs from above?  Because I got one.

Thanks for the message.

What’s in a name?

Cheerleader, hipster-lover, yuppie, suit, country, nerd, jock.  These are merely a few of the labels that have been placed on me during my lifetime.  There have been plenty of names that have disparaged my race, gender, and general appearance over the years, but I’ve learned to push those aside and keep going.

There is little I dislike more than being labeled, but only because I often think a single label cannot completely embody all of who I am.  And while I decry the use of labels, I use them every day to describe people, too.  I am not above it.  It seems to be ingrained in us.  We compartmentalize people.

Last night I made a trip to LAX, my second this week and hopefully my last for awhile, to pick a friend from out of town.  In the car on the way back to downtown she began looking at the scenery that is LA with a bit of awe.  “When I say something that makes me look like I’m a country girl visiting the big city for the first time, just tell them ‘she’s from Oklahoma,'” she said at one point when she stopped our conversation all together after being somewhat overwhelmed by the traffic.  It reminded me of my first night in Los Angeles.  I wasn’t even staying in Los Angeles proper, but in the Inland Empire near the Ontario Airport.  I was eighteen years old setting out for the first time on my own.  Though I was nervous and unsure about what was going to happen next, I was ready to see what the world had in store for me.  I thought I’m a city girl.  I can handle this place.

Then I watched the evening news and nearly caught a plane right back to Texas.  I had a very similar thought as my Oklahoma friend.  Instead of looking naïve or completely out of my element I’m just going to say “come on, I’m a Texas girl.”  An attempt to label myself before someone else thought of something worse to call me.

Fast forward to 11:37 p.m. on Thursday, September 8, 2011.  We made it back to downtown Los Angeles with minimal swearing on my part about how much I dislike traffic and cars and being in a car in traffic.  It was Art Walk, and so we meandered to Rocket Pizza for a midnight snack and drink.  The place was packed with people.  When we sat down I took stock in the people around us.  Young, old, frat boy, punk, college girl, hipster, cyclist…me.

I actually had a cinematic music playing in the background as the world around me continues to go along as normal internal dialogue moment last night.  Looking at all those people around me thinking how amazing it is that we are all in the same place at the same time doing the same thing…enjoying life in that instant.  Ah, downtown, I do love you so.

So, if you have to label me, then please call me DTLA-freak.

Courtesy of Facebook Images

Pedestrian-Bike Balance

The Internet is a scary and wonderful thing all at the same time.  So much information at your fingertips waiting for you to use the right search terms to find what you’re looking for.

Awhile back I started to think about how I wanted a better method of transportation to get to more areas of the city where buses or the metro might not be as efficient.  And no, buying a car again was not in my list of options.  I love being car-free, and I will strive to never go back to being a car owner again.

At one point I convinced myself I could learn to ride a skateboard.  Then, I happened to meet a skateboarder at a book sale in DTLA.  We started talking, and I eventually asked him if he would ever teach someone how to skateboard.  He smiled and replied, “No way.”  Something about not wanting to be the cause of broken bones or bruised ribs.  Understandable.

Though, that ended my dreams of skateboarding.

Around the same time, someone suggested I get one of those razors to scoot along the sidewalks as a way to get around.  Tempting, but no.

So, finally I realized, I’m going to have to get back on a bike.  It’s been several years since I’ve been on a bike, let alone ridden one in the streets during rush hour.  But, I’m never one to shy away from challenges. Though for someone who was not directly connected to the cyclist culture, I had no idea where to start.

[Enter stage left – the Internet.]

Flight Vs. Bike was really the start of it all.  A couple of weeks later, I contacted Joe Anthony of Bike Commute News and asked for some help.  “I’m a super short girl in need of a kid’s bike, can you point me in the right direction?”  Strangers helping strangers.  Lo and behold, a week later I had a new bike.

Bike riding is addictive.  My first attempt was funny, at best, and I made sure no one was around to actually see it.  Luckily, the saying “it’s just like riding a bike” really does apply to bikes.  It only took a few trips around my neighborhood to get comfortable again.  Now, I want to go fast and far.  I’m ready to go explore the remaining areas of Los Angeles that I’ve avoided simply because access was difficult.

I love riding, and I’m definitely looking forward to new adventures around Los Angeles by bike.

However, I realized yesterday how much I miss walking to work in the mornings.  I no longer say hello to the guys along my route, I don’t get to listen to my iPod on days when I really need a little music therapy, and sometimes a nice stroll through DTLA is just what the doctor ordered.

I have a lot of friends trying to figure out a work-life balance for their lives.  Well I’m now in search of a pedestrian-bike balance in mine.

As the world turns.

Some of you may have noticed, and by that I’m referring specifically to the two people who asked me recently when my next post will be, that I was rather quiet this week.  I took an unintentional break from writing, because sometimes life gets in the way.

Summary of my week:

Work, figure out what’s wrong with Napoleon (arthritis in both back legs, awful), work, bicker with a friend, work, lose a friend, work, gain a couple of new friends, work, buy a bike, work, learn how to ride a bike again, work, nearly get hit by an SUV, work, contemplate the meaning of life, work, wage war and plan the final attack on some grain beetles that found their way into our flour in the cupboard (the final battle will take place on Sunday after days of research), work, try to spend time with friends, and finally work.

I’ll be back next week.  Upcoming posts will include my push for ending the current practice of allowing right turns on red in Los Angeles proper, the article posted by @LACityNerd about perceptions of LA transit, responding to questions about fear and safety walking around DTLA, and my transition from pedestrian to pedestrian/biker (and that bicycles not motorcycles).  From what I’m told I need to get a helmet, lights, locks, and maybe some tacos before I can start to really ride around the city.

Stay tuned…

Karma and the Fist Bump

If you watch baseball at all, you will notice the guys on the team congratulate each other after making a good play.  Sometimes it’s a tap on the backside, other times it’s the high five, but more often than not these days it’s the fist bump.  And no, there is no blowup afterwards, though one of my friends tried very hard for about a year to get that to catch on.

In my everyday life it seems that several of my friends have incorporated this move into their normal greeting.

[Exterior:  Outside of a loft in DTLA where two guys are seeing each other for the first time in a week]

Guy1: “Hey, man, how have you been?”  [Guy1 and Guy2 each makes a fist and tap them together in greeting instead of a handshake.]

I’ve always thought of this is as a greeting between friends.  I’ve rarely engaged in the fist bump myself, but unlike some people I don’t find it vulgar or unseemly.  It’s just not in my repertoire of greetings.  Though, I do wonder if National Fist Bump Day has ever happened again.  I would reconstitute the fist bumping celebration just to annoy Ms. Sara Smith who claims to have only engaged in such an activity while on Ambien.  Seriously Sara?  You hate it that much that you called for a boycott? Continue reading

CWBY LMO

Have you ever felt like a zoo animal?  You know, everyone is staring at you but you don’t know why.  You start to think: did I put my shirt on backwards this morning?  Is my fly down?  Wait, I’m in a skirt.  Crap, is my skirt see-through?

Courtesy of LAX CarShare website

Oh, what’s that?  I’m not what’s peaked your interest.  I see, you’re pointing at the lovely Nissan Versa with the LAX CarShare logo on its side.  You want to talk about it?  Sure, I’ll talk to anyone.  Just waive me down.

To my chagrin – alright, that’s not true because I’m very proud and excited for Melissa at LAX CarShare – on Sunday night all of the cars in my regular pickup area were checked out.  It was amazing to see.  The only car available for the time I needed was at Union Station.  Now you must all realize that I was checking the schedule about an hour before I needed to leave as my super hero procrastination abilities had reached a whole new level.  So an hour before and I’m still able to grab a car is pretty amazing.

Well, no problem, I’ll make my way to Union Station and find the car there.  How hard could it be. Continue reading