#murderoustrain

November 19, 2014 § 1 Comment

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A few Saturdays ago, Paul and I went to our first black tie gala for my job.  I straightened my hair, he wore his wedding suit…it was so fancy.

image (1)If someone ever wants to teach me how to look normal in pictures, please feel free.

We left Tiniest with my parents.

The event was downtown.  I suggested taking Uber.  “No!” says Paul, “Why waste money on Uber when we can just take the train?!”

So the train we take.  And we’re a little out of place, but whatever.

Halfway there the train comes to a SCREECHING halt.  “Hope we didn’t just hit somebody,” I say to Paul under my breath.

After about 3 minutes of sitting there, the conductor comes over the loudspeaker: “There has been an incident, please do not try to exit the train.”

“Oooooh no, that is not good,” I tell Paul.  “If the train really hit someone, we are going to be here a long time.”

People start to get irritated.

Suddenly a dude sitting across the aisle from us with a cane starts going, “What the…what…”, gets up, and limps to the front of the car.  And starts yelling.

Our train had hit someone.  And our car stopped right in front of the dude it hit.

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I didn’t look.  My new friend in pink and I stayed in our seats.

“Is he dead?”
“He’s breathing, but there’s blood.”
“His pants!  Did they get knocked off?”
“Oooooh shiit that m****f**** was hiiiiigh!”
“He’s definitely breathing though.”
“It doesn’t really look like he got hit by a train…except that blood on his head.”
“We’re never getting out of here.”
“So what do we do?  This is a crime scene!  Do we need to stay here until they finish the crime scene?”
“We can’t do anything, we can’t get out of the car.”

The first of the firetrucks arrive.

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A police officer comes into our car, yells at everyone to PUT THEIR PHONES AWAY AND GET BACK IN THEIR SEATS, pulls down the front window shade (which blocks exactly nothing), and tells everyone to be patient, there is a rescue train on the way.  AND NO MORE FILMING!

A rescue train!

As soon as he leaves everyone is back at the window again.  Cane Man keeps on filming, narrating the whole thing: “SO the police just came by and told us NOT to film…but that’s some bullshit, I have my rights, I’m still filming.”

Someone starts tweeting #murderoustrain.

Someone else in another car forces the doors open and sets off an alarm.  I watch him jump the fence around the rails and take off running down the street. Conductor comes over the loudspeaker again reminding everyone to NOT exit the train, that there is a rescue train coming.

The rescue train!  How exactly, I start wondering, would that work?  Where would it come from?  I’m picturing the rescue bus in Speed, where they put a plank in between the two buses, and we all have to walk across it to board the rescue train.

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The girl sitting in front of us is on her way to work the night shift at Vons in Pasadena, calls her boss to tell her she has no idea when she’ll get there.  I email my (new) boss that we are meeting at the dinner to let him know that we are stuck on a train, not sure if we’ll be there any time soon.

Cane Man keeps on filming.

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About 45 min in they finally load the guy onto the ambulance.  About 20 min after that, the train starts moving.

MOVING!

The rescue train was a lie.  This whole time.

The train moves us to the next stop, opens the doors, and instructs everyone to get out, this train is done for the night.  Doors close, train drives away.  No trains running.

I try to find the number for a cab but instead find that….my phone is dead.  Of course it is.

A lot of people just start walking.  Given that we’re in South Central and dressed like we’re going to prom, I veto that option.

Paul tries to get an Uber, but every time he finds one the driver cancels.  We can’t figure out why, until Paul takes a look and realizes for some reason his phone thinks we’re in Afghanistan.  And it won’t let itself be corrected.

The cab companies aren’t answering.

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And that is how Paul and I got stranded, in Crenshaw, in formal wear, at sunset.

(About half an hour later the train started running again along the second half of the route, and got us to the event about 2 hours late.)

We Ubered home.

Solar Biking

November 15, 2014 § 1 Comment

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This week two different companies introduced two different uses of solar power on bike paths in the Netherlands: one for harvesting energy, one using tiny, twinkling, solar-powered stones to light up the path at night (inspired by Starry Night, as the bike path runs through the city where Van Gogh used to live).  As somebody who used to bike out to the bars on a bike path with NO LIGHTS at all, I can’t even tell you how many wrecks this would have prevented.

Get on it, USA.

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LA Hiking

November 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Someone got a new backpack this weekend.

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Though you can’t tell from the picture, she’s a huge fan.

To test it out, we headed out to Griffith Park Sunday morning.

Last week I was listening to an interview with Josh Spector who came in 18th at Badwater this year.  He lives in north Hollywood and was talking about all of the great hill/trail running in LA.  Now I see what he’s talking about.  Miles and miles of trails and roads with only foot traffic.

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It is gorgeous.  Crowded on a beautiful Sunday morning, but gorgeous.  And once you get off the main trail onto one of the many smaller trails it’s a lot less crowded.  When (if) I ever train for a marathon again, that is where I am heading (though with a partner…just saw this…)

Time to get exploring.

Immobile

November 3, 2014 § 4 Comments

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A friend of mine from Kentucky was recently in a bike wreck.  She broke her neck and back and sternum in several places (just writing that makes me cringe). This friend is incredibly active, an accomplished triathlete and cyclist, and this setback seriously blows.

Since she is more or less immobilized, she’s started to write (and knit).  And of course, because I am a blog whore, I am totally subscribed to her blog.

When I was 19 I was in an accident where I broke a bunch of stuff, including 6 bones in my back, and took a good thump on the head (of which my mother is convinced I never recovered).  I was in and out of the hospital/ICU for over a month.  Reading her blog of course reminds me.

It reminds me how tough things can get once the initial shock wears off.  When things settle down after a few weeks, when the drama has mellowed out, when the number of visitors starts to drop, when people get back to their normal lives and you can’t…the mental battle begins.  The isolation and frustration. Being so ready for it to be over.  And time ticking by ever. so. slowly.

It reminds me how little you can do to expedite the process.  You can’t push harder or work longer or train smarter…the best thing you can do, in fact, is not rush it.  That is hard.

It reminds me of the day, about 2 months in, when I got maniacally happy because I tied my shoes by myself.  I was on the way out the door to get breakfast with some friends (who, for the record, along with my parents, had loved me and babied me and carried me through this entire episode) when I sat up and announced, arms in the air, “EVERYONE, LISTEN UP!!  I JUST TIED MY SHOE!  BY MYSELF!” expecting some sort of ovation.  Everyone was like, “Whoop…let’s go eat.”  But I smiled through breakfast, my sense of accomplishment so real that the feeling lingers 13 years later.

Because it’s not going to happen in one day, or one month, or even one year.  It will happen in baby steps.  Baby steps that nobody else will notice or care about.  But recognizing those for what they are, representative of you moving in the right direction, is important.

I try to remember these things.  That celebrating the small steps in life is important.  That setbacks are not the end.  That adjustments to your life plan is not always a bad thing.  That being forced to slow down is hard, but sometimes necessary.  That every boring, ordinary day really is a gift.

But sometimes I need a reminder.  A reminder that if today is just another boring day to take a second, tie my own shoes, and enjoy the ordinary.

This is Halloween

October 31, 2014 § Leave a comment

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When it comes to Halloween decorations, the neighborhoods on my running route do not mess around.

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That is not a movie set, it’s a house around the corner.

We have our pumpkin and some fake cobwebs that are still sitting in the package…though we have a real, live, fist-sized spider living in the garden, so there’s something terrifying for you.

Bag of candy for me to eat by myself before the kids show up the trick-or-treaters is sitting by the front door, today when I went to see what podcasts were available for my run, there was a new (appropriately morbid) Serial episode waiting for me, chocolate chip pumpkin bread is baking in the oven, and tonight after trick-or-treating going to finish up my seasonal novel:

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And since I don’t have a picture of our tasmanian devil in her costume yet, here she is at the doctor’s office in a Looney Tunes gown that looks like a kimono.

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That pretty much sums it up here.  Have a spooky night.

Plants

October 30, 2014 § 1 Comment

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Late October no longer means harvesting every last possible green thing before the frost hits.  Things here are growing and growing and growing, and they don’t seem to be slowing down.

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Our tomato plants are approaching 6 feet.  We’ve got baby straightneck squashes making their way into the world, some huge anaheim peppers ready to be picked, our red bell peppers are finally turning red…

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The basil, dill, tarragon, cilantro, and parsley can’t be stopped.  The rosemary hasn’t grown much but doesn’t seem to be hurting at all.

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Some of the wildflower seeds that I threw into the barrels are sprouting.

And finally….wait for it…

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straight eight in the houuuuuuuuse!

The lemon tree out front is about to topple over there are so many lemons on it.  Our green beans, early girl tomatoes, and zucchini plant didn’t quite make it.  But you can’t win em all.

Maybe it’s because the heat finally died down, maybe it’s the organic soil I used, maybe it’s our magic coffee grounds that get dumped on the garden weekly.  I don’t know.  But I honestly don’t feel like I’ve given the garden enough love to deserve this kind of output (not that I’m not complaining).  California gardening is awesome.

Bring on fall.

Goodnight Noises Everywhere

October 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

I hadn’t read Goodnight Moon in about 20 years before this happened:

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She loves books.  LOOOOOVES books.  So there’s been a good amount Goodnight Moon up in these parts for the past year or so.  And upon reading it again for the first time, I was surprised.

I was surprised by how completely random and creepy Goodnight Moon is.

The lines and pictures from this book reside in the same eerie, dream-like haze as early childhood memories.  There is a ghostly familiarity to them.  But when my grown-up mind saw the pictures with grown-up eyes and heard the words for the first time in many, many years, my initial thought was, “HOW is this book so popular??”

There is no story.  The rhymes aren’t super fun or clever.  And take, for instance, the mush.  We wish it goodnight, as it sits, cold and colorless, next to a blank page that says “Goodnight Nobody.”

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So…bleak.

There is the picture on the wall across from the three bears sitting in chairs of a big rabbit fishing for a little rabbit with a carrot on a string.  What.

And then, of course, the quiet old lady whispering “hush”:

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Nightmare material like woah.  Case in point:

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Tell me there’s no resemblance.

And yet, despite the objective weirdness, Goodnight Moon is soothing.  And warm.  And because it lacks the typical structure and singsongy-ness, as you read it the second (or third, or fourth) time, it doesn’t grate.  It is simple and familiar and calming.  And the glowing light of the stars and the dollhouse windows on the last page…I love the last page.

So, like every other parent and grandparent, we’ll keep a few copies around, reading it over and over and over again, burying the same strange story with the same strange pictures deep into someone else’s childhood memory, to be rediscovered later.

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