Tag Archive | Santa Monica

Opening My Eyes to the Good

Santa Monica recently implemented pedestrian-exclusive traffic lights throughout the downtown area. That means that both directions have red lights for vehicles, while pedestrians are given the green light to cross diagonally or otherwise, totally free from traffic. It was done with the intention of strengthening pedestrian safety and to relieve traffic congestion—the logic being that if cars turning right and left don’t have to wait for pedestrians to cross on a green light, they will move through the intersection quicker and traffic will back-up less. The logic makes sense and it works, but only if everyone participates. If just one person ignores the signs that say “Cross on WALK signal ONLY,” then the cars have to wait anyway and traffic is now actually going to be worse because they are back to waiting for pedestrians on their light and they still have to wait through the thirty-second pedestrian signal where no cars can move. It only works if we all participate.

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I don’t understand people who don’t get this. The truth is, I think they get it; the problem is they just don’t care. Their needs as an individual to get to their destination literally thirty seconds earlier, outweigh the needs of their community, which is trying to make walking safer and driving easier. Awesome. Well done, asshats. This seemingly trivial instance makes me burn with a shocking rage. Shocking. Red hot.

Since I’ve worked in Santa Monica this has enraged me daily, because it happens with regularity. Pedestrians ignore the signs, ignore the rules, and the system fails. Then one day I decided to look at things differently, mostly for my own sanity but also sort of as a test. I stood at the intersection, waiting for the pedestrian green light, watching a numbskull cross on the traffic light, making the oncoming cars wait, and instead of cursing that person, I looked around me. There was one person breaking the rule, but there were thirty people following it.

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At all four corners of the intersection of Broadway and 2nd, at least thirty to forty people did not cross on the green traffic light; they waited for the walk signal. Even when the dipstick outlier broke the law, most did not follow. They made the choice that was better for everyone. They did the right thing.

This shift in perspective—choosing how I look at a situation—brought me immeasurable relief. It is a mundane example of a larger truth. Most people are good. Most people do the right thing, and if I only focus on those who don’t then I let those jerks win. Most people care about their neighbor, their community, and the greater good. Becky, you have been so focused on the one negative individual that you failed to see the dozens who actually do care about walking more safely and helping alleviate traffic congestion for their neighbor. Or even if they don’t think about those things as much as you do, they know how to follow the frickin’ law and that’s something. There are more of us than there are selfish nutwipes halting progress.

There will always be that one clown walking into the intersection. We’ll always see that one bastard who cares more about himself no matter the cost to everyone else. Sometimes that intersection is a big one—a national stage. But there are more of us.

Open your eyes, look around, and say hello. So many good ones. Thank God.

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Day of the Cubs

Exactly one month ago, on October 2, Brad and I wandered into the Marion Davies beach house in Santa Monica. One of my favorite things about L.A. is how often one can stumble upon a historic gem without even trying; like reading a book that has those peek-a-boo windows that each reveal a surprise.

The Marion Davies beach house was built by William Randolph Hearst for his lady love, Ms. Davies, and is watched over by a team of volunteers who lure passersby in to the house for tours. As Brad and I peeked through the windows, we were greeted by a lovely retiree who offered to show us around the house and tell us about its history. Reluctantly (we like to do things on our own time), we agreed.

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But this is not a story about the Marion Davies beach house.

I can’t remember our tour guide’s name so let’s call her Cathy. Cathy, a blonde-haired woman of about 65, started out with niceties about where we were from.

“We live just up the beach in Venice, but I’m from Sacramento originally.”

“Yeah, and I’m from Chicago,” said Brad.

“Oh! I’m from Chicago too,” Cathy smiled, her eyes twinkling with that Chicago friendliness.

“Nice,” Brad returned the twinkly smile.

Then Cathy sighed.

“The Cubs . . .”

“They’re looking pretty good this year. Maybe they’ll finally go all the way,” I chimed in.

“Oh, I know.”

Cathy’s face washed over with a melancholy resolve.

“My dad passed away three months ago. He spent his entire life waiting for the Cubs to win the World Series. I know he would’ve liked to see them this year.”

“I’m so sorry for your loss,” Brad said as we walked into an art-deco bathroom on the second floor.

“Yeah, he loved the Cubs.”

We finished the tour and made our way back to our bikes outside, peddling toward Venice. I never stopped thinking about Cathy and her father this entire postseason, and hoped I would be able to write down this story with a sweet ending.

Cathy, I bet last night was bittersweet. The Cubs won the World Series, and I know you were thinking about your father, gone so close to seeing his team win. With 108 years of loss, your story is not unique. Generations of devoted Cubs fans have passed through this world, waiting to see victory for their team and the soil they called home.

November 2 is Dia de los Muertos—a day to honor the dead. Through our remembrances and devotion we bring the spirits of our loved ones back to earth for a visit. The Cubs won the World Series on Dia de los Muertos, and let this give you comfort, Cathy. Fate lends a hand. Thank you Cubbies, for bringing home victory on the day of the year when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest. You have generations of Cubs fans, including Cathy’s father, hovering in the ether over Wrigley Field, cheering for their team.

What a ballgame.

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running with dolphins

I firmly believe that a great run leads to a great day. That’s just one more reason why I prefer to run in the morning. It sets the tone for everything that’s to come. This morning’s run gives evidence to this claim. 

I woke up feeling groggy and frustrated. My alarm clock didn’t go off because my stupid phone decides to turn off for absolutely no reason every once in awhile and won’t start again unless you physically remove and replace the battery, so my alarm didn’t go off when it should have. This meant I could still run, but not early enough that I would be able to take the bus to work, which meant I would have to drive and lose my fantastic parking spot for the weekend. These are the concerns you think about when you live in a Los Angeles beach community during the summer. Parking is everything.

I decided to run nonetheless. What started out as a sluggish first 2 miles was made bearable by the gorgeous morning weather and the cheery disposition of my running partner. I really couldn’t complain. Then things really turned around completely when we looked out at the sea and saw a huge pod of dolphins running right next to us very close to shore. I see dolphins practically every time we walk out to the beach yet it’s still always a magical sight to behold. There’s just something about dolphins; knowing how smart they are, and the types of communities they build together and live in. They are crazy cool animals. I always want to swim out and join them. I didn’t however. This morning I was satisfied with running beside them.

The video doesn’t do them justice. There were many more and they were much closer than they appear. Sorry for the shakiness. I forgot to stop running while taking the video 🙂

With luck from the dolphins, it’s been a great day. Big relief came through on a project at work. Success! Sold some more items in my Etsy store. Yay! AND, I finally got my new wallet that I ordered a couple of weeks ago. I really adored my last wallet that I got in the Land a few years ago. I’ve tried for weeks to find an exact replacement but they just don’t make these anymore. I held onto it for too long methinks:

a little worn out, don’t you think?

It’s just so darn cute. Though I will miss my Mad Tea Party, I’m quite fond of my new one. It’s sophisticated, yet whimsical.

classic alice

Now I’m heading off to the theatre to kick off closing weekend of The Crucible. Just an all-around great great day. I don’t usually write “this is what happened to me today” posts. Generally I find them rather uninteresting. Today, however, compels me to write. Today was a relatively insignificant day full of significantly lovely moments. Nothing huge happened. I didn’t win the lottery, get married, or get pregnant. But I’ll remember today nonetheless. Days like this make up a good life.  

Amazing what running with the dolphins can do.

the joys of a low tide

When it’s low tide out on the sand, it’s my favorite place to run. I have not fully embraced the barefoot running trend, but I do enjoy it quite a bit from time to time. Especially through the surf. When I get a little warm in the middle of the workout, I let the waves wash over my feet for instant coolness. It’s heaven.

We just completed our 4 mile run. How about you?

i am not afraid to run you over with my bicycle

I have pet peeves. I do. I am a fan of rules that are rules for a reason, and when people break those rules because they are idiots or just don’t care, I have a problem with it. Especially if a rule is in place for safety. To blatantly ignore that rule is selfish, inane, dangerous, and just plain annoying. I can’t help but think that the world would be a better place if everyone followed the frickin’ rules. If people actually followed the laws of merging and sharing the road, we would have considerably less traffic and traffic accidents. If people with more than 15 items didn’t sneak into the Express Line at the grocery store, it would actually function to its purpose. If assholes didn’t steal the disabled parking for “just a couple of minutes” then folks with real disabilities would not have their days ruined. And if people on foot did not somehow feel it was acceptable to walk or run in the bike lane, then I wouldn’t be compelled to run you over with my bicycle.

Don’t get me wrong, some rules are meant to be broken. There are plenty of laws and regulations out there put in place by some useless governing body, seemingly just for the purpose of giving people tickets to bring in more revenue, or just because they don’t have anything better to do. Those are not the types of rules I want to talk about today. Today, let’s focus on guidelines and regulations that are in place for good reason. Now that that’s clear, let’s get on with it.

When it comes to fitness, first and foremost I am a runner. I am an outdoor runner. Judging from the fact that I am running to Tahiti, I think it’s safe to say that I LOVE running. I have sympathies for runners and the challenges we face against the elements. Recently, however, I’ve quite enjoyed a spin on the old bicycle every now and again. Brad got me a beautiful new bike for Christmas. We live in a very bicycle friendly part of Venice/Santa Monica so naturally we try to cruise from place to place as often as possible. It’s so wonderful to have even less of a need to get in my car. I now ride my bike to the gym, to the grocery store, to my friend’s houses who live in the area, it’s simply awesome. I wish all of L.A. was as bike friendly as the beach cities. Today I’d like to talk about a little thing called the bike trail. Did you hear what I said? The BIKE trail. I just wanted to make sure you didn’t think I said the running trail or the walking trail, or the sit down and watch the sunset trail. It’s called the bicycle trail, people.

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I run in Venice all the time. I get it. Like I said, I have sympathy. There is not an ideal running route down Venice beach. Your options are the stinky, crazy, strand, or the beach itself on the sand. I’m sorry but those are your options. If you don’t like them, run in Santa Monica. The bike lane is NOT AN OPTION so get off of it! This is such a huge pet peeve of mine. It’s a narrow two-lane route and when you, obnoxious person walking hand in hand with your sweetheart and stopping every few feet to stare at the ocean, clog it up, please do not get upset when I clip your ankles with my Schwinn, perhaps intentionally.

maybe people just can't read?

The kicker is when the pedestrian walkway isn’t even crowded, and it’s literally five feet to the east, and people STILL choose to walk and run on the BIKE trail. I really don’t get it? Can someone explain this to me? And hey, local police enforcement, where are you? I thought the city was broke? Don’t you need revenue? Why don’t you stop giving people tickets for going over the speed limit by 2 miles and start nailing these jerks who are essentially making bicycle transportation impossible in Venice. Please friends, if you find yourselves visiting Venice beach this summer, do not let me catch you walking or running on the bike trail. Brad calls me his little meter maid for a reason. I will so go vigilante bike cop on you and I will not feel bad about it.