I'm a huge Hamilton fan. I've not seen it on Broadway, but I'm DEEP into the soundtrack and have read the book written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter. I just can't get enough. I have a whole blog post coming up about wanting to be Pen Pals with Lin-Manuel Miranda.
So every time I see this (which I see almost every day):
I hear this:
"Everyone give it up for America's favorite fighting Frenchman! LAFAYETTE!"
(Daveed Diggs earned every bit of the Tony he won.)
Living in LA requires a car. Two problems with that:
1) Not everyone who lives here can afford a car and they rely on mass transit, which, in modern times, had been almost entirely made up of buses until 1990. That's when the Blue Line train opened, followed over the next 26 years by the Red, Green, Gold, Purple and now the Expo Line. But still, mostly buses.
2) Because there are so many cars and the majority of mass transit is buses, the roads are crowded.
LA had a history of great rail transit with it's Red and Yellow car system, but due to high costs, they were phased out for buses, the last rail lines dismantled by 1963. So to build subway and surface rail lines in a city that for decades relied on vehicles on surface streets is no easy feat, I'll grant you. And LA is big. Let's look at a map (click on it for a bigger image).
The five boroughs of NYC are large. The greater LA area is also very large. This map incorporates other cities that live within LA (Long Beach, Santa Monica, Culver City, etc) and starts to touch on Orange County ("WHICH IS NOT LA OMG!"). Just to reiterate that restarting rail lines is not easy after all those years. And not just geographically. The amount of people who are against mass transit is astonishing.
I went to a few of the planning meetings for the EXPO line (as it is two blocks away from our house). I met many neighbors who were vehemently opposed to having it near us. "Crime will go up!" There is plenty of crime in our part of town already, trains or no trains, sorry to say. "We don't want those people come to our neighborhood!" Who are *those* people? People who want to use mass transit, like me?? "Our property values will go down!" In fact, property values generally increase. "The noise of above ground trains will be unbearable!" This part I can't judge because we live two blocks away from the train, not across the street from it. However, we do live three houses away from the 10 freeway and that sucker is LOUD. I doubt people can hear the train over the sound of the rushing freeway!
I couldn't wait for the train to get here and all this preamble to say: THE TRAIN FINALLY OPENED ON MAY 20!!
They had free rides on Friday the 20th and all day Saturday the 21st. We hopped on after work on Friday and went to Santa Monica to have dinner. What a blast!
On Saturday the trains were PACKED. But we went again, meeting friends in Culver City and taking the train down to Santa Monica for lunch. While we had to stand the whole way, both ways, it was still a pleasure.
I'm currently working in Culver City and made it my goal to take the train at least once a week. It actually takes less time to drive, but I love have a little walk, a little ride, then another little walk. And after being on so manyother city transit systems in my travels, it's almost surreal to use a train to get around in my neighborhood in LOS ANGELES! It's almost like living in a modern city.
Dynamo belonged to Kurt's mom, Dot. He was born in Texas in 2001 and we met him when he was a teenage kitty, all legs and a ball of energy, hence his name. He grew into a large handsome tomcat and eventually grew out of his name as he mellowed. Every visit to Texas was made more enjoyable by this big lug of a cat who would come in and plop down on his back so you could rub his belly.
When Dot moved to Los Angeles, Dynamo was in the car with she and Kurt, a big road trip to mark the new beginning. Dynamo rode out the long miles on the floor of the Buick, not happy, but never complaining.
Dynamo adjusted to being an indoor cat, chill dude that he was, after years of roaming the neighborhoods in Texas. He grew fat and lazy, but always loving and sweet. He was such a comfort to Dot and was with her when she died.
He moved in with us a few days after Dot's death and adjusted well. We called him Big Mo. Willoughby was not happy, hissing and batting at him all the time. Dynamo let Willoughby do her thing, even though he outweighed her by a good eight pounds and could have really put her in her place. The best part was, he could go outside again and he loved it. With all the backyard roaming and different cat food, he soon lost his bowling ball like looks and became the sleek cat he had been, strong and regal.
My favorite thing about The Big Mo was his cold wet nose that he would smoosh into yours at night, followed immediately by a big head-butt. He pile-drived his love to you. He was an under-the-covers sleeper, like Bunny was, mostly attaching himself to Kurt's side, usually having walked over my head/pillow to get there.
Willoughby eventually mellowed out around him, though they still never were pals. More like indifferent roommates.
We thought he'd be around for a few more years, Kurt and I both having had 18 and 19 year old cats in our lives. Fifteen is old for a cat, but not nearly old enough for us. Dynamo suffered from kidney disease, which is treatable and we were doing the IV fluids routine for the past few months, then his heart gave out, poor sweet thing.
We are fortunate to be able to call in a vet and do what needed to be done at home. No cold sterile room with dogs howling in the back. Harper was at preschool when it all happened. Easier to tell her after the fact.
Bringing a pet into your life comes with the knowledge that you will need to escort them out of their lives at some point. You are their caretaker and have to make the tough choice. Even when you know it's the right thing to do to avoid suffering and distress on their part, it's so hard.
Dynamo died in his favorite kitty bed in Kurt's lap, with lots of petting from me. After he was gone, the vet left us alone with him for a little while and we just talked about his long life with Dot, remembering when we first met him and his long road trip and his short time with us. We both were so glad he could have his outdoor life again before he died. The picture above at left was taken the day before he died, outside in the sun. We have been in a rental while we remodel our house and haven't let the cats out in our temporary neighborhood. When Kurt texted me this when I was at work, I burst into tears. Dynamo hadn't been outside for 3 months and I was so glad he could do a bit of basking again.
Our house has a hole in it again. I wonder how long it will take me to stop checking under the covers for Big Mo before I put things down on the bed. I miss his wet nose and his concussive head hits. I'm so glad we got to care him, knowing how he cared for Dot. When we told Harper about his death, she thought for a moment then said, "Well, is he going to come back as a shadow?" I hope so, Harper, I hope so.
The four year old conversations are pretty awesome. For example:
Us: Harper, do you want to learn how to play an instrument?
H: I want a fire guitar that sings rock and roll.
That's a done deal in my mind.
H: Mama, I want to go to drawing school.
Me: You do?
H: Yeah because I'm getting good at drawing.
Harper mispronounces words, as kids do. My favorite that she has said for a while now is "Darth Gator". If I were an artist of any kind, I would whip up a sketch of Darth Gator to frame on her wall. She says the classic: Lellow instead of Yellow. Charming.
She tried to copy me (most likely) saying "Damn it" but instead hers came out "Dame it". (This will never be as good as the month she spent saying "Fuck it" when she was two. That was awesome.)
For a while she would say "What the world?!" She doesn't say it any more, but I do - all the time.
The other thing that amazes me is her memory. A few weeks ago she said, out of the blue, "Mama, remember when we had the Spiderman ball at the fireworks?" It took me a few seconds to realize she was talking about LAST SUMMER's 4th of July fireworks. I had brought a Spiderman beach ball to play with while we picnicked before the fireworks. Or we drove by a friend's house in our neighborhood (this was a few months ago) and she said, "That's where we went swimming." Yes Harper, WHEN YOU WERE 18 MONTHS OLD! How in the world...maybe we talked about it recently and that is what she is remembering? Because we only swam in that pool one time and then our friend moved.
My theory is that her 4 year old brain has so much open space in it, the memories just waft around, easy to pick out and discuss.
The other day I wore these half boots that Kurt bought for me. My colleague and I were walking down some stairs and I was off balance and mentioned I was not used to wearing these boots. He looked at my feet and said, "Oh yeah, ropers heels."
Dang! Someone who knows about cowboys and rodeo! If you saw him you'd think: "LA hipster" but in that instant I remembered that he grew up in Calgary, home of one of the biggest rodeos in the world. I'm guessing he wasn't really involved with rodeo as a kid, but you can't live in a city like Calgary and not know about rodeo. That would be like living in LA and not knowing about Hollywood.
Of course there are plenty of times when I talk about rodeos and people would say "Wait, you grew up in Hawaii, how do you know about rodeo?!" Clearly all they imagine are beaches and hula girls. Well, that and Diamond Head. Hawaii is a big cattle state, having one of the biggest cattle ranches in the country. It's on the island called "The Big Island." Big being the operative word.
My dad had a career as a sportscaster in Hawaii. When they moved to the Big Island, he started to work with the cattle ranchers and became the announcer at all the rodeos they had in Waikoloa. (He also had a big hand in bringing polo back to the Big Island, but that's a different story.) As a kid I spent summers in Waikoloa and when there were rodeos at Waikoloa Stables Arena, I ran around with all the other kids, punching cattle through chutes, hoping to get ahold of one of the coveted cattle prods. How old were we? 8? 9? 10? We used cattle prods with no supervision (I don't remember any) but no one got hurt (other than the cattle).
At my job I have the pleasure of working with a talented and relaxed VFX Supervisor. (Two things you MUST have in a VFX partner to retain your sanity.) He and I have had a few big picture what do you want to do in life outside of this job type conversations. In the course of a conversation we had with a third party yesterday, I discovered that my colleague is a fantastic painter. His work really impressed me. In the same conversation he lamented that he didn't have the time he wished he had to paint more.
Later, we were in my office going over work stuff and I mentioned how impressed I was with his paintings. He humbly said thanks and then got wistful and said, "Some day, Julia, someday we'll be able to do what we really want." I looked at him square in the eyes and said, "No, sir, not 'Some day' - October of this year. October I'll be [doing the thing I want to do]!!"
Hearing that sad "Some day" only redoubled my passion to get one of my personal projects done this year. Hell or highwater, I will be doing it.
You have to know, all of you, there is no "some day." You have to pick a date and make it happen. Some day you'll be dead. But other than that, there are specific days on a calendar and you have to pick one and go make stuff.
Remember back in the (ahem) 70's when we were both swimming laps, day in, day out? You waking up before dawn to make the haul up the hill to Kamuela to swim lap after lap at HPA, me after school, being driven by Jen or Mom to the Kahului Pool for my practices. Remember? Man, we did our time in the water. And while I got a bit tired of the repetition of those back and forths, back and forths, I can say I am grateful to be skilled at swimming.
Remember also there was a Geritol commercial back then? A woman who tells us she takes care of herself by eating right, exercising and taking Geritol every day? The kicker to that commercial was when she says "I swim ten laps every day" - you and I would scoff, SCOFF! Hilarious that for regular people, ten laps was something tough. "Ten laps? Ha! We do that as a minor warm up!"
Well here we are in 2016 and I started swimming for exercise the other day. Haven't done laps in a good 8-10 years. I knew it was going to be tough, but O. M. G. And how many laps did I do? I could barely squeak out ten. TEN! I do give myself the tiniest bit of credit - the pool was set to a long course. (For you non-swimmers, that's 50 meters one way, the long way on an olympic sized pool. Short course is the short way across the pool, 25m one way. That pool in the picture is only a short course pool.) Thank god I know how to swim backstroke so I didn't have to hold my breath at all. Winded much?
As mentioned in my two previous posts, I spent a chunk of time in Mexico City working on a movie. There is a volcano just outside Mexico City called Popocatepetl and we would see and work hard to remember how to pronounce it. When we drove to Puebla, we saw both Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl along the way. Iztaccihuatl always makes me giggle because Paddy and I referred to it as "It's a sea wattle" so that we would remember how to say it close to correctly.
The wacky connection is that in Harper's preschool they learn about other countries and a recent one was Mexico. The craft for one of those lessons was to build a volcano and what a lovely surprise that she built Popocatepetl!
I live in Los Angeles. In the summer of 2006 I worked in Mexico City. Instead of sending out giant emails full of photos to friends and families, I started this blog. The summer turned out to be a crazy one and this blog and my camera kept me sane. I didn't want to stop observing and writing when I got home to LA, so I kept the blog going.