The End of the Earth

Did you know that in California when you have an old beat up car fail the smog test, the state will buy it from you for $1,000? Neither did I. But when Brendan's jeep failed the smog test after an endless cycle of repair visits, he somehow discovered this little known piece of information. Brendan, who will be in the wedding party next year, asked me to pick from the state sanctioned drop-off site.

Located wholy within the city limits of Los Angeles, the approach to Pick Your Part was how I would imagine life would be like driving around a post-apocolyptic world. From the freeway, deep within the sweltering 100 degree mid-day sun of the San Fernando valley, I turned onto what seemed no different than the thousand other blue color mixed-ethnicity psuedo suburban areas of the city. But then with two left turns, I entered another world. There were trucks everywhere--every single one kicking up dirt to form a massive dust cloud. I pulled over and quickly raised the convertible top to avoid being overtaken by the yellow gritty air. If you've ever seen the movie, Traffic, you may remember what the scenes set in Mexico looked like. This was no different.

On one side of the road was a cement plant, on another was a massive landfill. Just past the landfill was--well, I don't know what it was, but there was a gigantic pile of dirt, lots of rusting equipment and more dump trucks than I could count. I almost drove past Pick Your Part, as it's walled in like a fortress, but I found my way in and saw a very exausted, but excited Brendan standing in the sweltering heat outside of a small office in a trailer. I was late. Maybe an hour late. But it didn't matter because his check still wasn't ready. He ran up to me and the first thing he said was, "This place is innnnnnnnsaaaaane." I parked the car.

This was the place cars went to die. And not just a few cars...it felt like the cemetary for every car in Southern California. All you could see were cars with the back drop of hazy mountains in the distance. There was nothing else--anywhere. Brendan said it felt like Tatooine and I agreed. I was half expecting a Jawa to peek it's head out from behind a smashed up BMW and try to sell me something.

As we waited a bit longer for Brendan's check, a neverending line of towtrucks brought in car after car after car. Some were practically destroyed while others the others that seemed perfectly fine on the outside likely didn't have what you would call a grade-a engine. I began to wonder what happens when they run out of space. I didn't see any cars leaving, but there was a huge crushing machine. But where did all that metal go? Some mysteries in this world will never be fully understood by mere mortals like myself. Eventually, Brendan got his check and we did the best we could to get back to the civilization we know on the other side of the hills--where there's ocean breezes, the temperature rarely goes above 85, and there aren't places like Pick Your Part.

Oh, and Brendan's check had the company's logo that you see below. If someone could explain to me what an octopus and the largest salvage yard on earth have in common, just go ahead and let me know.


first post--finally!!

Okay, I’m finally here posting something. James has been after me to write SOMETHING for this blog for ages, and I’ve avoided it. I don’t exactly know why. I guess I’ve just been busy with mundane things. “Today I sat in traffic for 2 hours on the way to school, sat through a boring class, and then sat in traffic for an hour and a half on the way home.” Somehow I just don’t think those kinds of details about my life are interesting to anyone else, haha. Well anyway, I’m finally posting something, as promised.

To satisfy the licensing requirements of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), as part of my master’s program at Cal State Northridge, I have to complete 400 supervised clinical hours, with at least 50 hours at 3 different sites. So consequently, I began an externship at Torrance Memorial three days ago. I’ve been a little freaked out about this experience since my first phone interview for the job, when I apparently impressed my supervisor so much, that she accepted me as an intern over the phone. Don’t ask me what the heck I said that was so brilliant, because well, I just don’t know. But anyway, once we worked out the nitty grittys of me working 4 days a week for 5-6 weeks as unpaid slave labor, we discussed the specifics—what I should wear, what I should bring, etc.. My supervisor, told me I should wear scrubs and a lab coat. She further explained how she used to wear her own clothes to work under her lab coat, but said that at the end of the day, she went home covered in “drool and fluids,” and would never want to wear her own clothes again. Uhm, can you say EW?! Cause that’s what I said the second I hung up the phone. And all I could wonder was “why is drool listed in a separate category as other fluids?”

So anyway, I went about the business of finishing my summer school class, and awaited my start date at the hospital. I went shopping for scrubs and a lab coat, and bought the cutest ones I could find. And although James made fun of me for buying so many (5) different colored scrub pants (pink, light blue, navy blue, purple, and black), I don’t care--fashion always matters to me, even in a hospital, haha.

So, my panic ensued. How could I walk around a hospital dressed in a lab coat? I thought only doctors wore lab coats. What if someone coded while I was treating them? Would I remember my CPR certification lessons? Would I catch MRSA? What if I recommended a patient for an oral diet, and it wasn’t really safe? A patient could aspirate. Develop aspiration pneumonia. Choke. Need to be put on a ventilator. Maybe even die. AAAAAAAAAH! It’s a helluva a lot of responsibility, and I found myself wondering if I am really cut out for medical speech language pathology.

Okay, so on my first day, I put on what I like to think of as my “doctor costume,” and went to Torrance Memorial. I felt a little bit like an imposter wandering around the halls of the hospital, hoping no one would ask me anything that I didn’t know the answer to. Okay, and as much as I kept telling myself that it wouldn’t be anything like Scrubs, it kind of is. There is a really mean, abrasive doctor that everyone seems to kiss up to even though they hate. There is a doctor who is veeeeeery sarcastic but still caring. Doctors and other professionals really don’t give nurses the respect they deserve. There is a creepy custodian guy who, when I met him on my third day, flat-out told me he was going to “give me a lot of trouble.” And I do have weird daydreams where I imagine patients and staff members acting in bizarre, comical ways.

I’m sure I will post about this job again when I have had more experience working there. Thankfully, now that I’ve started actually seeing patients at the hospital, I am not as scared. Medical speech language pathology is unlike anything I’ve ever done before, and so far, I’m liking the challenge and the change.


A blurry Hollywood Bowl

This was the best my cellphone could do at the Hollywood Bowl--one of the best venues anywhere for outdoor concerts. We saw Basement Jaxx, Royksopp, Bossacucanova, and Jason Bentley. ( I know, most of you probably haven't heard of any of them).


Liz is being eaten by a cow!

Yes, that is a cartoon cow eating Liz's head. We ended up on Saturday night at one of two diners in Los Angeles called Swingers. There's one in West Hollywood on the fringe of Beverly Hills and the one we went to is in Santa Monica. Oddly enough, the two Swingers don't share decor or the exact same menu. The Beverly Hills location is in an old hotel diner while the Santa Monica location is newer with a funky modern feel. The purple cows on the wall are a staple of the Santa Monica spot and this picture seemed too perfect to miss. We were at Swingers for a late night snack after going to the Basquiat opening party at MOCA. I know I ate a turkey patty melt and we ordered wine. I don't remember what Liz got to eat.

We're members of MOCA, and we had been to opening parties before and they're always busy, but when we arrived about an hour after the event started we were stunned by the line to get in. As we approached the entrance, we could hear the funky old school beats from Grandmaster Flash, the event's entertainment. There was a short line for people joining to become new members and another line that extended into the distance for members who had a printed invite. We had an invite and were instructed to join the long line. As we walked away, I overheard an overzealous self-important yahoo plead with the door guy that he was on Grandmaster Flash's guestlist. The doorguy replied, "Here at MOCA, we don't do guestlists." Telling someone there's no guestlist in LA is like telling an Eskimo there's no longer ice. With that amusing exchange in the back of my head we tracked down the end of the line. One block....two blocks...we passed art snobs for the show....three blocks...we passed beatboys and girls for the music....four blocks...it was an eclectic group and here we were four blocks from the door. It was creeping towards 9PM now and we were a good hour away from getting into this event that ended at 11.

When we got to the end we started chatting with a guy in front of us who had come alone and a couple in line behind us. (I forget their names, so lets call the single guy Loner and the couple Jack and Jane.) Loner commented about how he's never seen a MOCA opening this crowded. He was definitely a regular--there more for the art, but he seemed nice enough and didn't have the art snob aura. Jane suggested that maybe it was Grandmaster Flash drawing the crowd. Loner seemed astounded at the possibility but reluctantly agreed. Some time passed and we learned that Jack forgot to bring his invite. Liz told him that he would have to check in at the entrance and then come back to the line. I agreed. So as we sent Jack walking the four blocks back to the door, Liz whispered into my ear that she really hoped she didn't make him walk for nothing. Again, I agreed. About ten minutes later, Jane got a phone call and walked away. Loner, Liz, and I started to wonder what happened to Jack and Jill. It felt like the line was moving forward three steps every ten minutes so we decided that Liz would go check. (Liz has a special power about talking her way past long lines...more on that later.)

So I stood there with Loner and more time passed. Eventually my phone rang. It was Liz telling me to join her. I glanced to Loner and he was looking towards the back of the line. I should have felt guilty for not telling him, but I didn't. What if it turned out to be a bust? So I huff it back to the entrance and find Liz waiting with Jack and Jill in the short new member line. As it turned out, if you forgot your invite, you could get checked in here, and then walk directly into the event. The whole thing was a case of left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing. So I stuffed my invite into a pocket, bypassed the line of 700 people, and walked right in. And once again, Liz worked her magic to avoid a long line. She has a gift I say. She's made it happen everywhere from airport security, to nightclubs, to outdoor movies. If engaged people lined up hours early for wedding ceremonies, I'd feel confident with Liz on our team we could arrive at 2 and somehow arrange to be married at 2:15. (Despite her abilities, I'm glad it doesn't work that way)

As for the exhibit, it was great. We debated for hours whether we thought Basquiat was a genius or just a crazy drug addict. I'm leaning towards addict, but I'm not fully decided yet. The music was really fun too.

Next up on our LA summer art adventures is the return of King Tut to LACMA...more on that when it happens.


Crabs in Maryland

This past weekend I went home for the first time since Christmas. Obviously a lot of the conversation centered on the upcoming wedding--but hey, that's to be expected when your mother is having her first child married in under a year. A highlight of the trip was going to a restaurant called the Crab Shack Deck, in Kent Narrows, which is just east of Annapolis across the Bay Bridge. After mom's white-knuckled drive across the three-mile long bridge, we stumbled upon this popular spot located within a small marina before crossing the last bridge to Maryland's Eastern Shore. It was the type of place where crabs should be eaten--concrete floor, picnic tables, and paper coverings for easy shell clean up. It had been well over a year since I last had them, so when a dozen steaming large size crabs smothered in Old Bay were dumped on our table it was like heaven. They tasted like they were pulled out of the water mere hours earlier and they were cooked just right. The sky was blue and the sun was warm, it was a good time.

As is the case in the yin and yang of life, the next night we had crabs again, only now at an all-you-can eat event at an American Legion in Laurel, Maryland. The event was filled with a treasure trove of blue hairs and red necks but that's not to say it wasn't fun. The crabs, while not as good as what we had the night before, were never ending, and how many times in one's life do you have the opportunity to drink a cold brew poured from a beer branded crayon tub? ---Maybe we should use that serving method as a Maryland regional nod at the wedding reception. In the end it was still fun, although my sister and I bolted the second the lights dimmed and the country/western/rock/folk singer took the stage causing a crab-filled local to take the first spot on the dance floor.

This was the conversation overheard from an older woman and her daughter as I left the place with my sister.

Mom-"I think one of those frogs cut me"


Mom-"One of those frogs, it cut my finger"

Daughter-"We didn't eat frogs"

Mom-"You know, one of the shells, it cut me"

Daughter-"You mean crab shell"

Mom-"Frog, crab, same thing"

Daughter-"They're not the same, mom"

Mom-"They're both, you know, amphibians or something"

Daughter-"Crabs are crustaceans"

Mom-"Well they're the same to me, and it whatever it's called, it cut me"

Folks, I couldn't make this stuff up.


Test from liz



Just linked to a picture set from our engagement trip--how long ago was that now? :)

We'll update that section to include more pictures throughout this journey as we go.

There will also be a link to all information for guests--hotel, schedule, driving directions, local restaurants, etc. etc. etc.

Wow! Technology!

Just set up to post pictures and entries from my cellphone. Liz should do the same in the coming days. We'll start posting soon. Even if the design isn't complete.


A Picture Share!

Sending picture from cellphone test

Test from cellphone

Creating a wedding blog

It's been a process, but we're getting there. Hopefully I'll have this thing fully operational in the next few weeks. There's already been a lot happening. From the big hotel fiasco to trying to settle on the afternoon ceremony with a big break and lots of time for pictures or the early evening ceremony with little break and no time for pictures. Decisions, decisions, decisions.....and we're under a year away now!