Monthly Archives: April 2014

What I will miss, and what I won’t … I think

Well, we’re in the final countdown now … 2 days until I’m on a plane to D.C., and then the day after that, to Tbilisi (by way of Munich). As I’ve been saying goodbye to friends, a question that often comes up (and that I’ve been asking myself as well) is – what will you miss? And, what won’t you miss? I thought it would be sort of fun to make a list, far from exhaustive, and then look at it from the other end in two years and see how accurate or inaccurate I was. So, here goes:

What I will miss:

  • It probably should go without saying, but nonetheless – I’ll miss my son, Eli. I’ll miss my friends.
  • My house – I might not miss it while I’m gone, but I’m sure I’ll miss it when I get back. It was a lovely little home.
  • Driving the car with the radio blasting, singing along in full voice. That’s something I would never inflict on anyone, so I don’t think I’ll be able to do much singing over the next two years. Which is too bad, because I really enjoy it.
  • Driving at night when there’s no traffic, just gliding along, cocooned in my comfortable Prius … along with the radio/singing experience immediately above!
  • Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese food, which there is plenty of here in L.A., and extremely good quality.
  • I’ll miss knowing my way around. I really know my way around L.A.
  • Being in charge/knowing what I’m doing – that was my professional life, and while it was definitely time to make a change (obviously), there are aspects of that life that I will miss.
  • Traveling to San Francisco for business. I like S.F. a lot, and I traveled there so much (and ate at so many good restaurants and went to so many cool places – City Hall for a gala, Golden Gate Park for a bluegrass festival, Alcatraz, museums, bridges, parks …). I was actually quite sad on my last trip home to Burbank Airport a few weeks ago. I figured out that I’ve traveled up there about 350 times over the past 10 years. Not counting work trips to Sacramento, San Jose, Lake Tahoe, Pittsburgh, New York, etc.
  • L.A. weather. I suspect I’ll really appreciate it once I am gone and in, shall we say, a different climate.

What I won’t miss:

  • In spite of my obvious love of driving, I definitely will not miss traffic, especially when it caused me to take 45 minutes to drive the 8 miles home from work. Or an hour and a half to drive cross-town, which I avoided at all costs. The division between eastside/westside (however you define the boundaries) in L.A. is extreme, and traffic is the reason why.
  • I will not miss the huge (and I do not exaggerate) homeless population of downtown L.A. I won’t miss the misery, the mental illness, the drunkenness, the drug selling, the begging, the dirt, the smell of urine and feces, the sores, the violence, the homeless encampments in every park and open space in downtown … L.A. has utterly failed at both a practical and a moral level to deal with this issue.
  • I will not particularly miss the self-important entertainment industry workers, who appear to actually be doing something about 5% of the time, and the rest hanging about the craft tables. Lots of film shoots downtown.
  • The politics of California in general, and L.A. in particular. Once you’ve seen how the sausage is made, you really do lose your taste for it. Nothing can really ever change, due to term limits, Prop 13, the initiative system, and in L.A, a weak mayor system. It’s very dispiriting. I want to live somewhere with real progressive policies in place, not just a bunch of lip service while behind the scenes,  pettiness and dysfunction control everything. There are a few individuals who have surmounted these challenges and made a real difference – Ed Reyes, I salute you – but most just succumb to it, and some revel in it.

That’s it for now! Anyone want to bet on whether I feel the same way 2 years from now?

Another major parting of the ways

So yesterday was my last day at the California State Parks Foundation, a month shy of 13 years. It was a somewhat drawn-out parting of the ways, with two parties (one in L.A, and one in San Francisco), a lot of loops to close, a lot of documents to be drafted and sent out before I left, and a strangely quiet, low-key final day at the L.A. office.

I think for most Peace Corps volunteers, leaving their jobs is no big deal – they are just working somewhere temporarily while waiting to leave. Some really hate their jobs, some may like them but know there’s something better out there. For us older volunteers, many are retired, so they’ve already gone down the path I’m on. For me, leaving CSPF was a huge, major decision that took me a few years of introspection and heavy thought. It wasn’t just the leaving of a career and professional home, but all that came with the decision – selling the house, finding new homes for my pets, financial and professional repercussions – just taking a huge risk. Some days I feel very excited and challenged, other days I question my sanity, honestly. But, as I’ve said in this blog before, hey, the ship has sailed!

So, here are a few images to share of the parting of the ways process. I was very touched by the kind words and gifts shared with me as I leave. In line with my vow to be totally honest in this blog, it was also interesting to see who showed up, as it were. There were some who didn’t. By “showed up” I am not being literal – I just mean made an effort, of any sort, to reach out and make a gesture. In most cases, I wasn’t surprised. There’s a tendency here in L.A. to gush and profess everlasting affection and friendship, but when an actual effort is required, no matter how small, people are just so busy …. you know, the traffic, meetings, obligations ….  I won’t miss it.

Here’s to those who did show up! There were many of you, and I am grateful for your friendship and support.

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New Digs

Well, it’s done. I sold the house, I packed it up, I moved it all into storage, and I left my little home up on the hill. It was emotional, I won’t deny it. There were some waterworks. There was some bucking up on my part. At the end of the day, it was the right thing to do, but … hard.

Enough of that! It’s over now, and I have new, temporary digs in my old neighborhood, Echo Park. This is where my son was born, I lived way up in the hills back then, too. This place is in the lowlands – I used to drive by it every day on my way up to the hills. Though the neighborhood has gentrified quite a bit, a lot of the same places are still here. The laundromat (where I intend to wash my clothes this afternoon), the  cheap Chinese food place next door to the doughnut shop – walking distance, danger! danger! – and the liquor store where Eli’s dad and I bought cigars to take to the hospital where my nephew Jake was born. Sadly, the great Pioneer Market is gone, replaced by a Walgreen’s.The bodegas where I used to stop and buy cigarettes and practice my pathetic Spanish conversational skills, gone, replaced by trendy boutiques and coffee shops.Sigh …

My apartment is cosy and has a little patch of dirt out back with a table, chairs and a tree, plus a hibatchi … can’t ask for too much more than that! Here’s some pics:

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Home sweet home for the next 3 weeks or so … then I’ll be flying to D.C. early the morning of the 26th, there for one day, then … Georgia. Lots to do before then, but next week is my last at the office, and with 2 more weeks after that to get ready, I think I’ll be fine.I think. I hope.