Archive for the ‘Life’ Category


Blog Swap: Guest Blogging on 2011 Next-Action Steps


While I have less than a year and a half to continue doing so, I’m currently a member of 20 Something Bloggers — a website that I, honestly, rarely find value in that is a community of… yup, twenty-something bloggers.

For whatever reason, though, when I got one of their emails talking about a blog swap, I jumped at the opportunity.  I’m very interested in guest blogging; cross-pollination — collaboration amongst bloggers, where we write posts for each other.  The idea being that we get to post on a forum for an audience that most likely doesn’t know about us yet.  It’s a win-win for both of us.

The topic they offered was nothing exciting, sadly, but it gets the ball rolling: “Action. What will you do next year that you’ve been putting off for too long?”

You can catch my post over at  And here is guest blogger Jenny’s post for the swap:


The new year is coming and there will be lots of people making resolutions for 2011. I on the other hand never really make any kind of resolution to stick to. I probably should though (stick to them I mean). But I have been able to make and keep one from this year and it will continue into the new year. And that is to cut down on the soda and take in more water.

I get bladder infections a lot :( No idea why. It’s probably due to my lack of water intake. I don’t really like water though, since ours is awful and tastes yucky like iron or something. I said once it tasted like blood and people just looked at me funny xD And the whole Crystal Light thing isn’t working out so I have decided to just (possibly) buy the bottled stuff and drink that. Or talk my husband into getting a water filter, which would save money. He likes when we do that ;P

So that’s my resolution. More water. Less bladder infections. Hope I can stick to it. I really do. :)

By Jenny


Driving While Texting Causes Deaths: But, Does Outlawing it Make Us Any Safer?


Many states now have laws that make texting while driving illegal, seeing as people literally take their eyes off the road for several seconds at a time, causing accidents and sometimes deaths.

Such was the case for a 20-year-old woman in Glendale. After a three-month investigation in a fatal accident, it was concluded that the driver was texting when she ran a stop sign, striking and killing an 80-year-old man.

The Glendale Mayor had this to say about the situation:

Mayor Ara Najarian said distracted driving and traffic collisions involving pedestrians had reached “an epidemic point in Glendale.”

The son of the deceased offered this:

Following the crash, the son, Roger Ranjbar, said he hoped “it was an accident, and nothing else like alcohol, or drugs, or like texting or talking on the phone.”

To which I say: what difference does it make?

Not to say that this isn’t tragic.  To be 20-years-old and facing potential manslaughter or murder charges for typing “BRB” to her friend is devastating and life-changing to say the least.  And I know how annoyed I get when someone cuts me off on the road and I see that they have a cell phone up to their ear (which is also illegal in California, but whatever), so to know that your father was killed because of similar behavior would most likely be maddening and infuriating.

But, aside from the emotional fury, what does it matter?  Whether she was texting, chatting, doing her makeup, changing out a CD, changing the radio dial, turning down the volume on the stereo, adjusting her mirrors, eating, or any number of other possible things that people do when they’re behind the wheel, the result is the same: she failed to stop at a stop sign and, now, a man is dead.

Granted, texting is by far one of the the worst activities you can do while driving. With just about everything else, you at least have your eyes up — but texting you’re usually looking down into your lap, especially now in California because you don’t want a cop to see that you’re holding your phone in your hand.  I think it’s beyond stupid to text and drive even though I’m not perfect and I used to text occasionally while I drove — now I make a point of not doing so.  Not because I’m so worried about the ticket but because I don’t want to end up pulling a 20-year-old-texting move like that Glendale girl.

At the same time, I do use my phone as my iPod, so sometimes I glance over-slash-down to change songs.  Is that different?  Is that illegal?  I don’t know how many times I’ve done that and wondered if I got pulled over if I could argue my way out of the ticket since changing the radio dial isn’t illegal, so why should this act be outlawed?  Where do you draw the line?

The reality is that driving is inherently dangerous.  Way more than most of us acknowledge.  Living in Los Angeles, it’s commonplace to hear talk about a “fatal accident” on the radio when they give the frequent traffic update on the drive into work in the morning.  Think about that: people driving to work will die every single week, just commuting, an everyday activity for most of us — for any number of reasons. So often that it’s not even shocking when I hear it from the morning shows.

My point is this: don’t trust anyone else behind the wheel. If you’re driving, be aware of everyone around you and don’t trust a soul to obey traffic laws.  No texting ban or cell phone ban or eating ban or whatever they impose will make us any safer — people will still be idiots when driving.  It’s up there with death and taxes.

Case in point: just this morning as I was driving through an intersection because the light turned green, I noticed a woman on a bike riding down an alleyway headed toward the street.  I assumed she was going to stop since, well, there was a line of on-coming traffic headed her way with the right-of-way — but, I left off the gas anyway.  Sure enough, without even bothering to glance to either side, she just kept on riding – slowly – across the street right in front of me as I slammed on my brakes.  Oblivious, completely.  Or suicidal.

The only thing you have control over is yourself, and defensive driving is your best way to stay safe.

(H/T LAist)

Image courtesy of mrJasonWeaver’s Flickr Photostream.


A Venice Beach Thanksgiving


Sunset at Venice BeachSince it’s Thanksgiving week, one of the best holidays around, where there’s no pressure to do anything other than eat a ton of food, nap, watch football, nap, watch movies, eat then nap, and hang out with friends and family, I figured it would be good to offer up some thanks of my own.

I’ll say it’s a given that I’m beyond thankful for my love, my family, my friends, my health, and my job.  Words in this blog could never capture just how lost I’d be without you all in my life.

So here are my thanks to people that I don’t know would ever know from our interactions that I’m grateful for them and what they do:

  • Friendly People at Lunch. I go to La Salsa about once every 10 days, 2 weeks or so, when I get so tired of my turkey sandwiches that I have to mix it up with a burrito (sans beans, of course).  It’s almost the same people working, too, so we recognize each other and say hello.  When I leave, I always make a point of saying goodbye — they always wave back and thank me for coming in with genuine smiles on their faces.  It’s just a simple gesture of kindness and warmth that, when I went there yesterday, made my day.  I’m not sure that I’ll go back to tell them to their faces that I appreciate them, so hopefully that by my recognizing them to the universe here in this blog, it will get back to them by way of karma.

  • The Office Building Staff. I have to say, it’s odd that this one lady cleans the men’s bathroom in the middle of the day and just knocks quickly and then immediately opens the door to come inside regardless of whether or not any men are in there.  But she truly means nothing by it: she’s just doing her job and she’s quick to walk out if she sees that there’s anyone inside.  Despite the fact that despite the bathroom is on the third floor of a nice office building in Brentwood, men still can’t keep those stalls clean — seriously, it’s rather pathetic to see how people just become total animals in public restrooms, even when it’s their workplace.  So, I’m thankful that woman keeps that space tolerable.

    And another thanks: the lady who runs the parking lot ticket booth on the way out of the lot.  She’s there when I get in at 8:30am and she’s still there when I leave at 6:00pm — I think she stays until 7, every night.  She’s always friendly, always quick to say “goodnight” no matter how bored she must be in that little booth all by herself or how long she’s been on her feet.

  • My Blog Readers. It might be cliche for me to thank my readers, but it’s necessary because I truly am thankful to each and everyone one of you who reads the outpourings of my brain that happen to coalesce into this blog.  Some of you are silent readers while others comment frequently on the posts they feel most passionate about and others share my posts with their own group of friends and followers.  To each and every single one of you: my humble thanks for caring enough about what I have to say to make me part of your day.  You make this all worthwhile.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


Proud Mary vs. Bad English: Which Version of “Missing You” is Better?


I’ve been saying for a while that this whole “agree to disagree” theme of my opinionated blog doesn’t have to only speak about politics.  In fact, there’s plenty to have opinions about that doesn’t involve the economy, elections, and policy.

So, I’m going to start tackling other polarizing topics.  Starting this week with music.

Yes, music.  Everyone has an opinion on this one.  Just ask someone: Beatles or Stones?  That person will most likely answer nearly instantaneously one or the other… unless you’re like me and you respond with, “Metallica?”

But that’s not what I’m arguing today, nor most likely ever in the future because that’s just a pointless discussion for me as I don’t really care either way on that one.  No, today I’m arguing something much more pertinent in our lives: the better version of the timeless classic: “Missing You.”

In one corner we have John (The Babys, Bad English) Waite who wrote and originally performed the tune as a bitter, heartbroken anthem in the 80s about a jilted lover determined to put on a face of being over his ex despite being a total mess inside.

In the other corner we have Tina (Tina Turner) Turner‘s cover from 1996, which was a literal take on the main lyric “I ain’t missing you at all,” and became more of a female empowerment F-you to the idiot who dumped her (Ike?).

Perhaps this isn’t as big of a deal as I think it is, but I’ve had numerous conversations (yes, seriously) with people who seem to prefer the Tina Turner version.  What!?  First off, most people don’t know who John Waite is or that he did the song originally.  (C’mon, people.)  Second, his version is empirically better — as in most art, it’s better to use not hit things directly on the nose, to let the listener develop his own feelings and interpretation of the song.  In Turner’s version, there’s no gray area — she seriously ain’t missing you at all.  But the way that Waite’s bitter, quick tongue snaps off the lyric, you know that he’s hiding behind a shell of bitterness and is determined to come across strong while inside, he’s a melted, weeping sack of heartache.

And lastly: the 80s just ruled. Sorry, 90s, but when it comes to cheesy love songs, the 80s has you beat.

Look — Tina Turner rocks.  I will forever love “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” because my dad would play her record (yup, vinyl) on Saturday mornings.  Plus, she was in Beyond Thunderdome.  But, sorry, Proud Mary, John Waite’s version is more layered and, therefore, more affecting than yours.

Winner: Waite.

Photo courtesy of rwoan’s Flickr Photostream.


LA Lifestyle: Autumn Arrives Early in the Southland


Unemployed for Over a Year: A Light at the End of the Tunnel?


My mom has been unemployed for over a year.

In that span, she has applied to hundreds of jobs — some she’s possibly qualified for; most others that she was beyond qualified for even a decade ago.  From those countless applications and resumes sent out to all those different hiring managers, she has only had six interviews.  And of those six, only three weren’t total jokes — what 50-something can afford to live on 12 bucks an hour?

She’s run the gamut of emotions.  Originally, she felt shame.  She avoided the topic when it came up in conversation with friends, offered up other excuses, anything she could to dull the humiliation of having to say that she didn’t have a job, that she couldn’t find a job, that she couldn’t even get an interview.  She felt unemployable.

Then the realization hit that she wasn’t the only one.  Many others were in the same boat as her.  While that helped ease the shame, it didn’t help the feelings anger or frustration, or helplessness.  The worst coming last winter when she was contacted by a recruiter for a coveted position in metro Detroit that promised a high salary, benefits, and other perks.

The preparation was intense.  It started off with regional phone calls and hours of studying for interviews, which she aced.  And then it was on to the big round, down in Detroit, where dozens of others were all going to try to win the precious few regional positions they had available in the state.  She spent hours studying material, doing mock interviews to prepare for anything that the hiring manager would throw at her.  She knew exact dates and times for all of her major accomplishments as well as her struggles and what she had done to overcome them throughout the past ten years of her job, and she was ready with specific work-related events and projects that she had done that would answer any and all of the possible questions they could throw at her.

By the time she drove the two hours down a few weeks later, she was ready.

And then came the interview.  She got stuck with one of the last interviews of the day, which didn’t bode well — after eight hours of interviewing, even the most seasoned interviewer would be tired and drained.  But she wasn’t deterred.  She sat down in front of the unsmiling man, ready for anything.  She had done her part, and expected him to do his.

“Okay, how about you walk me through your resume, starting with high school,” he said.

That just wasn’t what she had had in mind.  For all of her preparation, all her hard work, the manager simply wanted her to walk him through her resume, which he had no doubt had in his possession for weeks prior.  She abided, hoping that it would give way to some juicy interaction, but nothing ever did.  That was it.  They brought her in to just read through her resume, a well-prepared guide to be sure, but only meant as the Cliff’s Notes of her professional career to entice someone to bring you in for an interview to get to know the human being behind the collection of jobs on a piece of thick paper.

It was over before it even began.  They had no intention of ever hiring her, yet put her through the ringer as if she had a chance.  And it was months before she got another interview anywhere.

After that came the feeling of acceptance.  It wasn’t a lack of skills or experience.  It was just the state of everything right now.  Being in Michigan with its highest unemployment rate in the nation sure didn’t help things.  Neither did being over 50 years old battling with all of the recent graduates just entering the job market and asking for much lower wages than she.  Deciding that she might as well enjoy the time off – all the while continuing to search and send out resume after resume after resume – she picked up yoga, read more books for pleasure (which she rarely had had time for in the recent past), and finally found some relief for her excruciating and debilitating migraines that only got worse from the stress — being unemployed allowed her to check into an in-patient headache facility where they were able to get her pain under control and much more manageable, making her even more primed for getting back into the workforce.

Perhaps all of this contributed to the events of this week.  After having barely more interviews in one year than fingers on your hand, she’s now had nearly as many scheduled in the month of July.  She’s excited – for one in particular – but she’s trying to keep her expectations tempered.  It’s an optimistic trend, though, no matter how you look at it.  To go 12 months with nary an acknowledgment of applying for a job to actually getting called in for a face-to-face is quite the step in the right direction.

I’m feeling optimistic for her: based on what she’s told me, these job opportunities have legs.  They’re not piddly $25,000 a year jobs that don’t even bother utilizing her strengths and expertise.  They’re well-paying, solid positions for companies with room to grow.  After over a year of looking and hoping, and now with the unemployment extension being blocked in Congress, this turn of events couldn’t have come a moment too soon.

And I hope that this also bodes well for the American economy in general.  Too much of the news I hear and read is about deficits, balancing the budget, unemployment benefits, the way the stock market reacts to the European markets.  While all of those are important, they divert us to the big picture, the intangible, the ethereal.  Most of us can’t comprehend what owing trillions of dollars really means for anyone, let alone the federal government.  When money is simply a promissory note with a stamp of approval from the federal government declaring that this piece of paper is, in fact, money, how do the rules even apply to the entity that itself decides what is and is not money?

We’ve been going into debt for ten years, paying for these two wars on credit, and now it’s a huge problem that needs fixing immediately, without regard for those who are currently unemployed, scraping by, trying to make ends meet.  Now it’s vital to fix at this very instant.  Now it’s a matter of our grandchildren dealing with… what we’re dealing with now?  I don’t even know.  And whose grandchildren?  Mine?  I’m 28.  I don’t even have kids yet, but assuming that I did, I won’t have grandchildren who will even know how to pronounce the words “budget” or “economy” for another 30-plus years, at least.  Who knows what will be going on then?  Who knows what wars we will or won’t be fighting?  Who knows what the Euro will be doing or how strong the Zone will be at that point?

The news talks about falling unemployment rates, but says that’s actually a bad thing because that means that people are just giving up.  It’s not that they’ve actually found work, they’re just no longer collecting benefits from the state anymore; they’ve lost hope that they’ll find a job anytime soon.  They’ve stopped looking for work because there’s no work to be found.

Others who have jobs aren’t in much better positions: they’re finding that the only way they can keep their jobs is to take a 40 percent drop in salary and loss of all benefits just to stay employed.  But that’s not really working, is it?  You can’t buy a house on $12 an hour, not even here in Michigan.  You can’t build a savings.  You can’t invest.  You can’t pay for your children’s or grandchildren’s college tuition.

Some industries will never recover from this recession.  And what that really means is that the skills and training that many people have spent their whole lives honing may never again be profitable or marketable.  And that’s the real casualty of this entire mess, for which there’s no real remedy.

But, while the news is understandably bleak, there are pockets of hope if you skip over the broad strokes that make the airwaves and delve into the lives of those who are experiencing it right now.  I hope my mom gets one of these jobs.  I know she’ll flourish and succeed out of the gate.  She’s resilient and courageous.  And when she does finally join the workforce again, I hope that means that many others are also joining the ranks of the employed.  I hope it’s a sign.

Things have to get better eventually.  Might as well be now.

Photo by Ryan Mason.  Midland, MI, 2010.


Trying to Make Sense of the Afghanistan Quagmire


I just finished reading Jon Krakauer’s Where Men Win Glory, the story of Pat Tillman’s odyssey from New Almaden, California to his glory days playing in the NFL to his tragic death by friendly fire as an Army Ranger fighting in Afghanistan.

It’s phenomenal.

I can’t convey all of the emotions that I feel after having read the book.  I thought that I would be angrier, actually, given the lengths at which the Bush Administration covered-up the fratricide – lying to not only the country but to Tillman’s mother, father, brother, and wife – in order to use Tillman’s devastating demise to prop up support for the unpopular war.

But, I wasn’t.

Perhaps I’m too far removed from Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld now to feel more disgust at their actions than I already do.  Instead this narrative simply added more evidence to those feelings of shame that we called that man “President” for eight years.  It just wasn’t shocking to read about multiple levels of complete disregard for rules and regulations that not only led to the propaganda in the aftermath, but also that led to Tillman’s accidental death at the hands of his own comrades.  Perhaps that’s shocking in and of itself.

Mostly I just felt heartbroken.  Like with all good stories, you hate to see them end.  You’re inclined to rush to the finale to find out how everything works out and then you’re sad to have to say goodbye.  This was no different.  Only there’s no happy ending here.  And it’s not just a tale; this really happened.  Corporal Patrick Tillman is really gone.

There were times when I thought I would truly connect with Tillman had we had the chance to meet in real life.  And other times when I felt he’d be the kind of guy that I’d be sure to avoid had we crossed paths.  But, I loved his complexity, his depth, and his unabashed sense of self.  And even though Krakauer made sure to remind us frequently that Tillman was a large man, much more muscular than his fellow soldiers, his personality and his emotional range always made me picture someone more average.

I don’t mean that to diminish his stature; only that, Tillman’s physical prowess wasn’t what made him a hero.  No doubt he was an athletic specimen of the highest caliber.  But he was more than that.  The core of his person felt true and authentic, which I found to be the true source of his heroism.

While Tillman’s story was magnetic, I was thoroughly engrossed in Krakauer’s back story on the Afghanistan quagmire that started in the late-1970s when the Soviets were embroiled in an unwinnable war against the very people in Afghanistan that we supported then yet are now currently fighting.  It’s a stark reminder of how important it is for our leaders to be humble and intimately knowledgeable on world events.  And it’s equally mind-blowing how infrequently we learn from history.


Two days from now marks the third anniversary of Pfc. Levi Hoover’s death in Iraq.  He was my brother’s best friend.  He was family.  And his death still haunts and debilitates my brother to this very day.

I hope that one day I can stop saying this but as every year goes past, it remains the same: we’re still in the desert.

Image courtesy of SmileDarling