Today’s the first and only day of this week that I don’t have a meeting!

I was especially delighted this morning when I realized I could wear jeans, a t-shirt (literally), and sandals because I’ll mostly be sitting in the office all day.

I woke up late(r) than usual. Bought a vanilla latte. Have KROQ livestreaming on my computer. And am currently sloshing through grant guidelines.

I’m looking forward to lunch with one of my first DM friends in a little while and cooking dinner for GHP (our homeless project) this afternoon. It’s spaghetti night on the plaza!

Have I mentioned how lucky I am?

OJ (and why I'm such a lucky sister)

When Ruben was 4, he decided that he wanted to give me a Christmas gift (or so my mom told me after). So, he asked her to take him to the store to pick out a gift for me.

What he picked out is something that I still have 12 years later. OJ is his name. He’s a little stuffed dog. He’s bright orange, and his stuffing is starting to fall out because he’s moved with me now about four times and overall just been around.

I love OJ and will probably have him for my entire life for one simple reason: He reminds me of how absolutely awesome it is to be a big sister!


Travel Thoughts: Hertz

I have to admit that I was somewhat nervous about renting from Hertz. For whatever reason, every car I have ever rented has been from Budget Rent-a-Car. I like their prices. I like their salespeople, and I like their cars. I even like their understanding in not so wonderful situations. And, their insurance is amazing.

I was holding out for Budget on this DC trip, but it just seemed that it wasn’t in the cards for this journey. So, Hertz it was.

First off, their shuttle service at Dulles was awesome. We didn’t wait more than 5 minutes either way, and in a chilling cold (at least for a girl from Los Angeles) that was pretty awesome.

The first thing that impressed me is that upon check-in, I found out that the prevailing rate was lower than the rate I had reserved online. I’m somewhat accustomed to the “oh well, that’s what you get” approach of travel vendors, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was given the lower rate. Not only that, they offered a full tank of gas pre-paid for less than the rate at the pump in DC.

Two major points for Hertz.

The car was a Chevy Impala. I am very partial to American made cars (and yes, I know 90% of the parts were probably shipped from overseas), but Chevy is still an American brand. So, I was happy to see both Chevy’s and Ford’s on their lot.

That’s not even the best part!

The icing on the cake was the “Fast Pass” pre-installed in the car for use on the toll roads. Being from Los Angeles, toll roads annoy me. They just cause me to slow down, and more importantly I’m not accustomed to carrying exact change for tolls roads in the car with me. So, presto! Use their Fast Pass and have it automatically charged to my credit card. That saved a lot of time and a lot of heartache in trying to find quarters all over DC.

As for the basics: the car was in excellent shape. It was clean. The trunk was huge. All four passengers (myself included) fit quite nicely. It was fully-loaded.

All in all, Hertz just contributed to an overall great travel experience.

On Blogging

I have this internal struggle with blogging.

On one hand, I like having my words disseminated. I like them in “print”, and I like the ease with which I can modify, adapt and configure my thoughts. I actually do like the thought that somewhere out there, someone is reading this.

On the other hand, I feel like I’m exposing my soul to the world. I do that in some ways in my non-computer life, but I control the filters. In this way, I can’t control any of the filters. I can’t control which of my thoughts and ideas people get to read. Presumably, anyone can read any of them.

That’s hard. So when people ask me about my inauguration experience, I feel compelled to give them the link to this blog. It’s the only way that I can truly share what it meant to me. Words fail badly. I just can’t seem to express the feelings when I talk about it. I can describe the events, but to share what went on my head? That only exists in type. It’s a funny thing.

Then, this morning, I received a lovely comment from someone on my “Meanings” page. It meant a lot. Not only because it was positive, but also because someone out there “got it,” and, in essence, “got me.” That’s a pretty good feeling!

And I go back to the reason I really started to enjoy writing and know that I had some amount of talent. Somewhere around 14 or 15 years old, I realized that I could make people cry with my writing. Those tears made me see that I could bring someone so far into my world that they could actually feel what I was feeling.

That connection is what I enjoy. My written words are probably the only real way to get to know me. They unmask all that I try to hide and get right into the very core of what I feel.

A Cold Medicine for Any Occasion

So, I give in. I have a cold. A sneezy, watery-eyes, sore throat cold. Dumb, is what I think about that. Even dumber that my denial of the situation didn’t cause it to go away. And triply dumb that my good spirits all day didn’t will it away.

So, I give in. I give in to my medicine cabinet.

I just asked my dad what I should take for those three specific symptoms. Well, he replied, what do you have?

Hmm….DayQuil, Nyquil, Theraflu (2 kinds), Zicam, Flonase, Zicam tablets, Coldeeze, Tylonel Cold, Cepacol, GermMD, EmergenC, plain old Vitamin C, Organic Throat Coat (a tea) and two generic types of allergy medicine that I can’t really spell off the top of my head.

It may seem extreme, but I really do get sick quite often. So, this stash of cold remedies has become a necessity. I kind of enjoy collecting them. It’s like tapping into a secret. Maybe, just maybe, this time I’ll come across the magical remedy.

It never turns out that way though because every cold is different. A month ago my cold was accompanied by a fever. This one is pretty mild.

So the verdict?

Tylonel Cold and Coldeeze.

Glad I had both. ūüėČ

My One Complaint about Virgin America

The  Virgin America flight experience was an amazing experience. The plane was comfortable and clean. The flight tracker was amazing. The flight attendants were friendly and the pilot was personable. The entire experience aboard the flight ranked up there as one of the best flights I have ever had.

The downside? And the side that makes me hesitate in thinking about booking another flight with them….

I had originally had flight plans for myself and a friend. My friend called Virgin a few days before the flight in an attempt to get information about either changing his flight or cancelling it. As a result of that conversation, he was given a new confirmation number for his flight alone.

Four days before the flight, he found out he would be unable to use the ticket and told me to go ahead and give it to someone else or cancel it. I attempted to transfer the name to another person, but was told it was impossible.

So, I went online with his confirmation number, clicked his name and presumably cancelled his flight.

The only problem was when I went back to check in for myself, my ticket was gone. It appeared to me that there was some sort of crossing of the wires. My friend’s ticket was still intact and mine was gone.

I called customer service about 2 minutes after this occurred and was told that I had in fact canceled my own flight. I still don’t understand how that was possible considering he had a separate confirmation number and his name was the only name listed on the flight that I canceled. I explained all of this to the woman on the other end of the phone, and she said the best that she could do was not charge me the cancellation fee on my own ticket.

That meant I lost $75 for the cancelling of my friend’s ticket and had to re-book my own flight which now cost $50 more than I had paid for my and my friend’s flight combined.

I later called Virgin America’s corporate headquarters and went through a directory of choices before leaving a message about my complaint. I have yet to hear from them….and I will be waiting to hear from them before I ever book a flight with them again.

Too bad.

Inauguration: My Reflection

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

This was my favorite line of Obama’s inauguration speech. It struck me on Tuesday morning, and I repeated it in my head over and over throughout that day and the days that followed in Washington DC.

Now, as I read the speech again, I am struck again by the words. Putting away childish things seems like a big endeavor, but there is also a childlike simplicity to the idea. It is such a simple thought‚ÄĒthat all are free and deserve a chance to pursue happiness. It is repeated over and over again throughout our history. Sometimes‚ÄĒmany times, it seems‚ÄĒwe have failed. But there are brief, brief moments when we can see that ideal come to fruition.

20060101-inauguration-98-of-1701I feel so overwhelmingly fortunate to have been there to witness it–the peaceful transfer of power, the outright joy over our new leader, and the words ringing through a silent crowd of almost two million people.

As I have recounted the events of that day—the hours waiting for the metro, the long walk to the Washington Mall, the hours standing in the cold, and the couple million people—I have said again and again how joyful everyone was. I was absolutely delighted that there were no major incidents. People were kind. Strangers were talking to each other. People exhibited patience.

That was the greatness of that day. It gave me a glimpse into the better parts of humanity. These qualities of community and hope and joy have been evoked in the American people by this man. It has been a slow movement over the past few years. People coming together against what could be seen as a common enemy—not so much George W. Bush, but the American “way” that was so badly off course.

For that one moment, that one day, the entire world saw a glimpse of just how great our country can be, not because of its wealth or its government, but because of the innate goodness of its people.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed ‚ÄĒ why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

I cried on inauguration day. And many times in the few days I spent in Washington DC, not because I was sad, but because I was witnessing the fulfillment of a dream. The power of the stories I have heard over my lifetime, the stories I have witnessed during my lifetime, and the incredible day I had seen, washed over me through the images and sights I saw.

cimg4632Walking along the Vietnam Memorial Wall, I broke down somewhere along the middle as the names seemed to just continue and continue. I thought about lies and deceit and young people. I saw the faces of all the young men I have taught and my brothers. Suddenly a wave of terror came over me as I realized how badly history repeats itself and how much we have yet to learn about sacrificing our children for things we don’t all believe in.

Just past the wall, we made our way to the Lincoln Memorial. My awe over the size of the statue was quickly replace by awe over the words of Lincoln’s second inaugural address. As a stark contrast to the Wall, I was deeply moved by the greatness of that history. Later on, at the American History Museum, the words, the letters of Lincoln throughout the Civil War were so incredibly stirring. As I stood and read a letter to James Conkling, a woman next to me said, “That’s just dope.” I nodded at her, my eyes wet again with tears.

20060101-inauguration-78-of-170One of the most moving displays at the museum was the Woolworth’s counter from Greensboro, NC. The pastel-colored chairs made me think of the innocence of youth. I could picture kids spinning around with their legs dangling off the chairs, and then I could picture coffee being poured on the young people. My mind drifted back to the words of Obama’s speech.¬† Simultaneously I thought about how that wasn’t so long ago and how the actions of that day were simply four young people saying “enough is enough.” Quietly they stood up for that “enough.” Again, it was a such a testament to what has happened today. Quietly, through our votes and our organizing and our Internet we have said “enough.”

I have been thinking about the Inauguration of Barack Obama and its significance to our country and to myself for the past few days. I didn’t know exactly what I thought. All I knew is that the emotion was incredibly overwhelming. I have spent an entire lifetime crying over the stories of the civil rights movement. I remember so clearly taking a coloring sheet home from kindergarten and my father re-telling stories about Martin Luther King and the Little Rock Nine, and I cried at 5 years old. In high school, I developed an interest in the Kennedy’s. I read and read everything I could. I cried over the death of Jackie Kennedy because she was my living tie to the stories my parents told me. In college, I focused my investigative research on the trial of Mississippi burning. I read pages and pages of FBI documents. I still hold the date of the death of Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney in my head.

I was born 14 years after the “end” of the civil rights movement.¬† I am a daughter of this movement. It is has underwritten the beliefs of my entire lifetime. It has shaped what I have studied, who I have become and what I have done. I have lived with the remnants and–even worse–traces of a racist society. I have seen the remnants in both jobs I have had as adult. I have worked in neighborhoods tarnished by the traces of racism, knowing that much, much work is still be done.

This Inauguration was not the simple story of race. It was much, much more. It is a stand against war, against poverty, against racism, and against everything that has kept us from being our most free selves.

And Tuesday, I stood on the Washington Mall with 2 million other people, and finally, finally saw that our “ENOUGH” was loud enough that this government of ours finally heard.

Santa Monica

I am still living with your ghost, lonely and dreaming of the West coast.

It seemed like this was the appropriate song for the return home. I think and have said that one of the greatest joys of traveling is missing Los Angeles and getting to go back home.

I am genuinely excited for 70 degrees and my walks and palm trees and the downtown skyline outside of my window.

I feel like I gained something on this trip that I don’t quite understand yet. It was an extremely emotional and fulfilling experience, almost like the completion of something–a success of sorts for the things I believe in and the beliefs my parents have given me.

And I’m excited for what awaits at home. It should be interesting—decision time of sorts.