On the LAPD

I hesitated in writing this post, but I figured that now that there is a two-page typed letter to Congresswoman Roybal-Allard in the mail detailing my complaint, I may as well go ahead.

To say I am indifferent to the LAPD would be an understatement. I have never really gone out of my way to praise our police officers, but I also don’t possess the hatred that some people do. It’s one of those things that I truly believe I can’t be faulted for. If you look at the places I’ve lived and the places I’ve worked, it should make some sense. I don’t think the LAPD is the enemy. I truly don’t. But I also don’t think they are saviors.

Last weekend, I was having dinner with some friends. As we walked back to our car, we heard bone-chilling screams. We identified the screams as coming from a woman who seemed to be in an argument with a male companion. Before we realized what was happening, she ran toward us, crouched behind a car, and said that she “had never been so scared in her life” and that her boyfriend had told her if she told anyone “he would [expletive] kill her.” One of my friends was on the phone with 911 dispatch as she darted across the street. He ran after her and yelled as he passed us, “What did you [expletive] tell them?”

We had noticed LAPD squad cars in the area as we were eating, so I turned to see if I could find one. I ran over to a pair of officers and explained the situation and what we had been told. I pointed down the street to where the two were standing and asked if they could walk down and ask the woman if she was okay. They told me that they had already spoken with the male companion and he “assured” them that she was okay. I asked if they had asked her as well, and they replied, “no.”

When the car dispatched by 911 arrived, my friend walked over to them and pointed out their new location, relaying the same story and asking if they could check on the woman. They drove away, without checking on her, and did not return in the 20 or so minutes that we stood there.
Finally, as we were about to leave, we noticed a County Sheriff’s squad car parked on the street. As a last ditch effort, my friend approached them and asked if they could walk down the block to see how the couple was doing, as they continued to argue on the street. “Well,” one replied. “We’re going to go in there [pointed at a Starbucks] first and if we hear anything when we come out, we’ll check into it.”

On that night, I was absolutely shocked in a strange way. It’s comparable to times I have called dispatch, asked for a squad car, and was told point-blank, “no.” I think the shock came from the face-to-face contact. It’s awful to think that if another human came up to you and asked for help, you would find your coffee to be more important.

Now, it makes me really angry. As a single woman, I rely on things like peace officers to keep me safe and to allow me to live my life as I choose to. I walk alone often. I run errands alone, always. I go to ATM’s, grocery stores, bars….all alone. I have always had the security of knowing that should I need help, I could scream or call 911 and would be assisted. After the events last Saturday, I no longer have that assurance. Instead, I have a fear that I would be interrupting someone’s coffee break or that my fear would be disregarded if a man could explain it away.

Where are they now? Raul Mondesi Version

Rijo’s opponent for the mayoral seat is another former big leaguer, Raul Mondesi.

I guess this post could also start with “Where are they now? Ben Maller Version.” Although, I’m sure he hasn’t disappeared over the past ten years or so. I just remember listening to his radio show faithfully with my brother. Now, I find him on Twitter and a short blurb this morning about Rijo running for major of a Domincan town. Against….Raul Mondesi.

So, of course, I had to Google Mondesi, and I came up with this Washington Post story.

Mondesi is one of those players that I often wonder about. Where did he go? What does he do now? Can he still throw a guy out at home plate from right field?

He was a family favorite. My youngest brother named a pet after him. But, unlike his teammates, he’s been hard to keep track of. I see Eric Karros on sportscasts now. Mike Piazza makes the news from time to time. But Mondesi has pretty much disappeared.

It pretty much made my morning to know that he’s alive and kicking. And could perhaps be the next mayor of San Cristobal. Very, very cool.


I lie when I say I’m not a disciplined person. I’m only undisciplined when it comes to things like chocolate, potato chips and coffee. And even then, if I truly decide to, I can become quite disciplined.

That’s truly the case with anything I do.

It’s been a long time since I’ve studied for anything. And it’s been never since I’ve studied for a standardized test. I never studied for the SAT or the CBEST or the GRE the first time I took it. I bought a book for the GRE the first time around, and I think  I opened it twice. Then, I probably got bored or decided the test was stupid.

Maybe I still think that. Ok, I still do think that. But I also want to break the 90th percentile in the verbal analogy section.  So I have committed to going through each and every word in this nifty book of mine.

I bought index cards for this. Seriously.

I shuffled through the first 100 that I made at the gym this morning. It’s taken me six hours to get through “A.” Oh, how I wish I was kidding. Who knew there were so many words that begin with A that I do not know the meaning for?

I’m now in a coffee shop, sitting across from the communications crew from the Grammy Museum. They look like they’re having a lot more fun than me. They’re proofing their monthly newsletter. Lucky.

And as I sit here, I realize that I have bad study habits. I always have. I blame my parents (seriously). At the same time, I thank them because I never missed anything fun because I had to study. Music. Baseball games. Conversations. Had them all and still was a pretty good student.

So, I have an iPod, am answering email, stopping to write cover letters and submit resumes and then resuming my studies.

On to….the “B”s….

You can tell how good my summer is by how dark my skin is…

I’m happy to report that upon visiting my mom this weekend, my skin has matched her gorgeous brown perfectly. I attribute it to awesome hikes, a fabulous train trip, a drive down the coast and five weeks of watching kids play in the sun (okay, I joined in some of the time).

On Saturday, we headed up into the Hollywood Hills to watch the sunset. We made it to the top, overlooking the Griffith Observatory just as the sun was setting. It was a very hazy day so the sunset wasn’t as brilliant as it could have been, but this was by far my favorite picture:


Reflections on 4 1/2 Weeks

Since I planned to sit here and write out the report cards that I was magically able to finish during the special movie hour today, I thought I would use the time instead to reflect on what I have learned in the past 4 1/2 weeks teaching summer school.

I’m going to be totally honest and say it has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

It’s been a physical challenge as I have never had to spend so much time not only standing each day, but keeping up a high amount of energy and enthusiasm for math. The days of bland lectures about angle postulates were nowhere to be found. Instead, I cut out figures, colored, glued things, and all the while smiled and laughed and was more animated than I’ve probably ever been in my life.

It’s been a mental challenge as I have had to completely redesign my methods of teaching for students who were 6-9 years younger than students I have taught in the past. Not only did lessons need to be simplified, but my entire manner of speaking to students and creating relationships with them was completely turned on its head. Not to mention, we’re also talking about pre-teen girls instead of teen-aged boys.

Because of these two challenges, I was particularly thrilled to meet parents last night. I heard such positive comments about myself and the coursework that I had the students do, that I was pretty happy to know that I hadn’t completely over-shot the teaching or traumatized the students with my somewhat dry personality. I left with the feeling of genuine accomplishment because it was a challenge.

So, I’m going to admit that is what I have missed most about teaching. It’s like the ultimate puzzle. You never know how 20 students are going to react to you or what you’re doing that day. You never know if your expectations are going to be too high or too low. And usually, you have about 15 seconds to assess and alter your plans, your attitude, and your expectations. And, you need to make this as seamless as possible. If you don’t, the kids know. And the second they know, you’ve lost them.

I can look back to two lessons that I know were completely over-ambitious. I think I was able to bring them (the lessons, not the kids) to reality very quickly and the “moral of the story”, so to speak, was still accomplished.

I can also look back to a lesson that was so painfully elementary that the students must have thought I was nuts for even putting it before them. Fortunately, that’s an easy save and everything can be instantly modified to make it more difficult for students who need it.

I listened to students last night describe to their parents the different between perimeter and area; the way they can identify diameter and circumference; and, the three types of triangles we learned about. It was a very satisfying moment. In a less-structured summer atmosphere, I did not formally test the students on these concepts. I asked questions and designed art projects, so I was thrilled to hear them re-cap the class lessons for their parents.

Other highlights:

  • I learned that I am actually too old to play double dutch. I actually hurt myself pretty badly doing this. I can laugh about it now, but wow, who’d have thought there was an age limit for those things.
  • I learned that my teaching methods were very transferable or, perhaps, adaptable is a better word.
  • I learned that little girls can be quite sweet, that their interests are inspiring, and that their desire for perfection is very recognizable.
  • I was genuinely impressed with the love of tree climbing, the knowledge of Santana, and the deep interests in things like chickens, crocheting, and math. All of the above made me very pleased and happy about the education that girls receive.
  • I learned that I can be extremely patient and extremely chipper. I also learned that I can be “on” for a good 8 hours a day.

But the most important thing I think I “learned” is that I am most at home being a teacher. I’d hate to say that I hated the last two years of my life, but I can see now that I was definitely not myself. Teaching has a way of fulfilling me in ways that I can’t even describe, and it’s in all of these moments of the past four and a half weeks that I was able to feel fully alive.

I Love My Family

There are really eighty million reasons I love them, but this really made me smile tonight. They adopted this little guy:

100_0105_1If that weren’t reason enough to love them, they narrowed down the name choices to “Draco” or “Tehachapi”. Personally, I would choose Tehachapi, but I don’t think I get a vote. As a side note, it’s sad that there are 7 of us, living in 3 different homes, 4 dogs, and none of them live with me. Boo.

A Goal

Four years ago this month, I went on a silent retreat. It was the first retreat I had ever done silently, and it was the first I had done for 6 days. It turned into 8 days as I made my way slowly down the California Coast alone.

On the first day of the retreat, I was asked to set a goal for myself.

I was  painfully grandiose in my goal as I said to my adviser, “I don’t want to want to understand anymore. I just want to accept.”

I remember his reaction very clearly. “That’s a major goal,” he said.

“I know,” I said to him shaking my head. I had driven up to Los Altos very empty. I was very confused and in a lot of pain. I had spent life from 14 till that moment trying to understand why things happened, to force meaning onto them, and to create plans.

Somewhere inside me, I knew something wasn’t working right. It was stifling.

So I started the six days with that simple and major goal.

I let a lot go on that trip. It made me a lot free-r in some ways. It definitely wasn’t a night and day difference. I didn’t come home magically able to not care why things were happening or to analyze them. Nope.

But I can see the difference now. I can even see the transformation. I can pinpoint certain moments where I surprised people. I can pinpoint fights with friends. I can pinpoint moments where I wanted to end friendships because I was being questioned. And I can pinpoint other moments where friendships actually did end.

It’s only been in the last three months that I think I’ve made the most major of changes.  At a time when things have gone colossally wrong in a lot of different ways, I feel that I don’t have a worry in the world. In fact, I rarely worry now. I know that bugs the daylights out of people. I try to be considerate of that, but sometimes I can’t even care about that. I hate to sound callous about it, but the certain freedom that I found would be destroyed even with the simple act of truly caring about other people’s worry.

I make new “plans” every few weeks. I think it’s funny in a lot of ways. I like the idea of infinite possibility. I like the idea of making my own decisions.

The one thing I didn’t let go of was looking for meaning. The difference now is that I don’t force it. Years ago when dreams and nightmares would plague me, I would suffer with them. Now, I just wait them out. I enjoy that moment of inspiration where it becomes clear. It’s that much sweeter than trying to force the meaning or the answer.

The best part of making that goal is I have been free to make decisions. I have had three jobs now. I have had amazing trips, alone and with others. I have seen awe-inspiring things. It takes me back to one of my favorite lines from Janis Joplin: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” I always took it quite literally, but I realize now that it has a much deeper meaning. Freedom to me is not needing to understand.

It also allowed me to find people who have such amazing spirits that I can’t help but want to be around them and feel their energy. That life-giving force makes me sure that everything is going to be all right.

I think about these things a lot during the summer time. It’s the time I feel most alive. Maybe it’s because of the sun. Or maybe it’s because of all of the happy memories. Whatever it is, it’s the time that I feel most like myself. It’s when I can run away (and not tell people). It’s when I can feel the sun most warmly on my skin. And when I can see a lot more clearly.

A Lesson Learned

Anyone who knows me really well could tell you that my outward appearance of organization is somewhat a facade. I rarely know what day it is. It’s even more rare that I can tell you what I’m doing two days from now.

This causes an interesting situation where I tend to overbook myself, to agree to things without really knowing what’s going on the day before or the day after, and to forget how many days it’s been since I’ve really rested.


It’s been 27 days since I’ve spent a day being lazy. I went into teaching in a summer program the week before we participated in our first bridal show. The following weekend we took the train to Santa Barbara, I went with my brothers to San Diego, and then spent a really long day in the sun wandering downtown. The weekend after that, Tanaya and I spent a long day of work and walking around, and followed it with an epic hike along the coast.

Sprinkled within the weeks of those adventures have been baseball games, dinners out, movies, hanging out with various people, and running errand after errand.

So, it’s no small wonder that at the completion of day 26, I wasn’t feeling so great. Simple tiredness, I told myself and sent myself to bed semi-early only to find that waking up yesterday was a horrific chore. Yet, I still pushed on. I had a fabulous day marred only slightly by the physical pain I was in.

Onto the 28th day (t0day) to find that waking up was beyond a horrific chore this morning. I didn’t even bother forcing myself out of bed until after 11. And at that point, I ran one quick errand and came home to sleep some more.

It’s funny because I feared that my exhaustion was due to the fact that I’m getting old. Oh, silly me.

Instead, I have learned a valuable lesson (again) about the necessity of slowing down or at least taking a break every 14 days or so.

And I laugh even as I write that because it wasn’t the first time, and probably won’t be the last.