Cat Lady

April is pretty packed, Arizona this weekend then back to Manhattan Beach the next.  But first, I write…

There’s a house in Bend, Oregon that is within reach and is absolutely beautiful.  Whenever I go through a town I like, I obsessively Zillow it to death to see if it’s feasible.  Bend seemed great, until I looked at ways to get there.  The only way is to drive, flights are $800 round trip with 2 stops making it an 8 hour trip.  That really puts a damper on getting anywhere quickly or anyone ever coming to see me.  It was a nice thought while it lasted.

My husband keeps saying I should go back to Manhattan Beach, especially because of my mom needing me soon.  Being a full time caregiver doesn’t thrill me, the time is coming pretty soon though.  This weekend is her 1st cousin’s 84th birthday, he’s been touch & go for the last year at least.  He gave me a big hug last time I saw him and said, “I will see you again.”  Yes he will, for his birthday after a year of being in & out of hospitals.  Death doesn’t come at a specific time, it could be 5 min. or 5 years, you just don’t know?  That’s the case with my mom, am I signing up for 5 years or 15?  Some of my friends parents are well into their 90’s.  Our former neighbors have both sets of parents living, all in their mid-late 90’s.  My mom does great still, the vultures are circling though and she needs help.

I put up a picture on Instagram of a embroidery design I made then had digitized, an old friend of mine commented then said he just moved to MB!  Lengthy story, we met in our late teens through my college BF.  My college BF went to my HS, his dad was a teacher there, he was actually from West LA and would commute with his dad.  We’re not in touch, I always stayed in touch with his best friend who was from 90210.  Not in touch more than decade check ins, still it was always good to catch up.  I was so excited when he said that he lived there now!  PM’d my cell, told him we’d be down in a few weeks…crickets.  Txt’d my BIL we’d be down for my H bday, the same.  Hard to make dinner reservations when no one gets back to you??

Being a woman can be such a curse.  I go right back to being 19 yrs old when I get that kind of news and almost 40 years of life has moved on since then.  Do I want to move back to a town where I have childhood/teenage memories and am coming back as a 56 year old to take care of my mom (maybe get a few cats??).  Ugh.  Last time I went to the beach I got about 10 points of volleyball in before I had to call for a sub, everyone else else still looks smok’in hot in a bikini at my age.  I recognize it’s LA and there’s probably some surgery (& eating disorders) involved, there’s just not a chance in hell I’m playing v-ball in a bikini ever again.

On that thought, I’m going for a baby shower of a pro volleyball player and that part makes me smile.  When I could play without a sub, her mom & I would play at the pier and put our kids in cribs on the beach.  Our boys played for Golden West and were roommates there.  We raised the kids as cousins practically, so this is really exciting!!

There’s some relief in being older that I’m not expected to partake in the bikini contest anymore.  I’ve already missed a lot, I like the idea of being there and helping my friend become grandma then watching the baby on the beach while they play vball, like I did with the soon to be mommy.  Maybe it’s all good and I can go back as an adult and not a teenager?  One thing’s for sure, no more HS alumni events.  Our last one we were the only ones not announced at the football game, then cropped out of the group selfie.  Whatever 🙂

Stuck on a Train

It’s been pouring in LA all week, with no plans to get back to NorCal on my journey I figured the best thing to do is have an adventure and take the train back.  I love trains, a friend of mine took 13 hours getting back over the Grapevine on I-5 – normally a 5 to 6 hour drive.

I scheduled an  Uber driver last night to pick me up, giving me plenty of time for rain and traffic to Union Station in downtown LA.  All went well, got to the station dry despite the rain.

My business class tix got me into the 1st class lounge where there were drinks and snacks before we got on…then the delay.  NBD, an hour for a new engine.  Now I’m sitting in Burbank while the new engine conked out, I would say for almost an hour now?  Well, I wanted adventure!!  We’ll see if that’s going to include a night in Burbank at a Motel 6 or something?

This is just a shame, I was really hoping it would be a rainy day train ride up the coast.  Now I have no idea what’s going to happen?

While I was in Manhattan Beach, I went to the new marine lab at the end of the pier for donor day.  My mom was involved with the original lab, it was nice they had a special day for the previous volunteers.  Got a few good shots when I was down there at least before the rain.

An update, we’re back at Union Station in LA awaiting????  Ugh.  Made a quick field trip to grab lunch & possibly a latte, the bathrooms at the station were full of homeless.  I went back to the 1st class lounge at the train station to use those bathrooms, then tried to hit Starbucks but the line was too long.  Grabbed a Wetzel Pretzel hot dog to come hang out on the train some more.  It’s actually more comfortable on the train than in the station.

At least I grabbed some food, I had made a 2p dining car appointment that of course didn’t happen.  If we ever get moving, I’ll keep writing.  Right now I’m just a tad worried I’ll be on this train for 2 days before I get back.  When the train took off the 1st time, I was like a little kid taking pictures.  Now I’m just kinda blah and over it.

2 Days later:  That turned out to be a 7 hour delay, we left at 5p instead of 10a – getting in at 5am to Martinez.  The coastline was totally dark, pitch black actually, didn’t get to see a thing past Van Nuys when it got dark.  I didn’t write the rest of the ride because I was like a zombie.  The good news is, when I finally got home and re-woke up to call Amtrak gave me a trip voucher.  When the train started rolling I grabbed dinner from the dining car then just vegged out the rest of the ride.  I didn’t even read or watch a movie, just tried to enjoy the ride.  I must have slept a little?  I kept waking myself up snoring 🙂  Sorry to the rest of my car-mates.

Planes, trains & automobiles January.  Drove to New Mexico, flew to LA then the train back – reverse order – also lengthy.

While in Manhattan Beach I got to spend the week with my mom for her birthday.   Got a few pics I’ll post from that and some others of my LA time.  It rained most of the time, I did get to have some much needed GF time.

I also had an interesting FB exchange (I gotta get off FB!!).  While it rained I was checking out Zillow in Carlsbad and noticed what I thought were vacation trailers close to the water.  I have a few FB friends in Carlsbad, did a shout out to see what those were?  When I looked into it more I saw it was a over 55 retirement community (which I qualify for but not ready to go there just yet).  The dirt rental was about $1,500 when I looked it up a little more.

In the meantime, a friend’s wife who just became a real estate agent started posting pictures of trailer homes on my FB page.  When I said I wasn’t ready for a retirement community, she started posting pics of a trailer park in Hermosa Beach.  So now my “friends” think I’m looking into trailer homes??  Haha, I’m sorry but I don’t see a $500k trailer in Hermosa Beach as a smart investment.  I don’t see anything down there as a smart investment right now, it’s crazy expensive.  She most likely thought I was trying to get my foot in the door down there, I can’t imagine inviting my childhood friends over to my trailer for dinner?

I’m leaving the post up though, for some reason I think it’s hysterical!!  We played golf with some guy about 20 years ago who lived in the tree section and I said, “I grew up in the tree section!”  He said, “It must be hard to not be able to afford to live where you grew up?”  My husband & I laughed on the way home, we don’t live there because we’d have A-holes like him for neighbors.  People spend so much time thinking others are jealous of them they don’t realize they’re coming off as pricks.

I had a good time down there with my mom and a few GF’s though, it was really nice.  I can always go “home” and spend the time with my mom.  I’m so glad Amtrak gave me a voucher, I really want to take that train trip during the day to see that coast route!!  Thought I’d spend a rainy day, clinking glasses in the dining car watching the sunset in someplace other than Van Nuys.

These are finally leaving Union Station, where the train was on the coast and my view from there 😦

& yeah, I’m still a little grouchy from my trip – I actually did have a great time despite the FB trailer park incident.

Emotional Weekend

This song says it all…get your tissue box:  7 Years Old

Going to blame total exhaustion for part of it.  This past few weeks I’ve been all over the place – Tahoe, Seattle, back to Manhattan Beach, now finally home in Walnut Creek.  MB is bittersweet for me, I have some really great childhood memories there and of course some not so great teenage memories.  That’s everyone, except maybe my brother who was best looking, homecoming king or whatever else they award you for looking like a Ken doll.  Me?  I wasn’t even in the game.  Somehow I pieced together some friends out of that I’ve been friends with for life who I share some great memories with.

I bring this up because we had gone down to a memorial for a friends mom, running into other friends who have lost their parent(s) too.  Yes, it’s that time of life for me, my IL’s are both gone too.  The memorial was for a single mom of two boys, who somehow was able to move them from Venice, CA to Manhattan Beach on a teacher salary.  Those days are long gone down there.  The reason I even bring it up is because it was just a flood of memories of different times of my life.  One of them being how sweet she was about my writing, she had read something I wrote years ago and said I needed to be a writer.  When we were in Seattle, where our friend lives, he said the same thing.  It was so touching for me, coming from writers themselves.  Biggest compliment ever!  To become anything you really have to know how to toot your own horn, I’ve never been able to do that.  I’m good just writing my little blog with just a few readers.  Or they could just be being nice? Regardless, I really appreciated it.

The other son still lives in MB where the memorial was held.  It was a small group, was honored to be invited to it.  Within that group were people I have the greatest memories of, even in HS.  These guys saved me, a select crowd who always had my back.  I set up D-1 with his wife in our early 20’s, D-2 I’ve known as long as I can remember.  When I was 18, D-2 and I had a tanning contest on D-1’s front porch until we finally had to call it because one of us got a job.  D-1 lived on the Strand, his parents have both passed away and they’re forced to sell the house because it’s worth so much the siblings can’t buy each other out.  That’s the problem with MB now, the gentrification getting rid of us bitter middle class.

I’m kidding, not about the real estate vultures, but it is the end of an era and time to finally admit we’re adults.  We stumbled into it without realizing it, until you see each other and really see the passage of time or recall an incident that happened 40 years ago.  We thought we were unique, I thought I was a problem teen and now I look back to see that it was really stressful to be a teen with your parents staying together “for the sake of the kids” until they thankfully split up when I was 17.

The now adult boys who lost their mom, C & M, moved to MB later.  My first memory of C was at a HS party when I was 15 and he asked me to dance.  I’ll never forget his dance move to David Bowie’s “Rebel, Rebel” that night.  Years later, when my a-hole of an ex BF booted me from a party where my girlfriends didn’t want to leave, C saw me crying on the sidewalk with no ride home.  He came out and sat with me, went to find us a ride home (he lived close to me).  His mom let us take her car and gave us money to go to the Kettle, a 24 hour restaurant, then gave me a ride home.  A horrible night turned fine, no thanks to my girlfriends.

M was the hot surfer boy who got on the radar because my GF’s were all fighting over him.  I always had an ability to be friends with the hot surfer/v-ball guys due to the fact my first thought would be “out of my league.”  I never tried to date them, I’ve always thought of myself as one of the guys.  There was one night I was driving a bunch of us home in my mom’s VW van, M was the last drop off since he lived closest.  He came in for the kiss and I said, “What are you doing?  You don’t even like me!”  His world at that time was so full of groupies, he probably thought it was just what you did with last girl standing.  I kicked him out, I’m sure he doesn’t even remember.  Having a single mom made those guys more respectful of a “no” than most of the guys there.

Later D-2 and M had a band, I got them their first paid gig where I met my H.  M then moved to Berkeley as a returning student, he was our only attendant at our wedding.  He did it all, photographer, best man, maid of honor, gave me away.  I couldn’t afford a wedding, saving that expense helped me choose to stay home with Gus when he was born.

Another emotional flood of memories came when we went to check out a house our friends are building in the tree section in MB.  I was so freaked out, that’s where I lived when I was really little, from K-5th grade.  I ran down that street and fell, still have the scar on my nose.  The other side of that hill used to be a dirt road that leveled on one of the street crossings.  My babysitter would pick us up from school in her VW Van (we all had them) and at that flat part we’d go flying off of it to the next part of the hill.  The park down the street was where I was the queen of the hula-hoop at 5 yrs old.  I’d go to the beach after school growing up, then run down the Sand Dune park hill to get home.

Now we’re making adult memories – playing v-ball with our kids, golf, bowling tournaments and sadly memorials.  It’s a voyage I haven’t taken with my parents yet, they’re both still alive.  My mom and I talked about the house and her future while I was there, I just started crying and saying I could come down whenever or she could come and live with us.  I don’t want her to think assisted living is her only option, she insists her surviving friends love it.  Been teary eyed ever since, an interesting time of life.  I looked into that same bathroom mirror at my mom’s to get ready for all the parties, the tanning contest, the night I met my H.  Glad my ride thus far has been with some great people.

LA Tourist

With a few days free because my son is working in Napa, his wife and I headed to my Mom’s house so I could show her LA and my home town.  Usually during the summer it’s pretty cold and foggy by the beach, we’ve hit a heat wave like no other (since there’s no global warming).  It’s fine if it’s just to hop in the water, it’s another thing if you’re a tourist in your own ‘hood.

Of course I had to go in the water first off, might do that today before we head back up an incredibly smokey I-5 back to my real home.  Most of the time when I come down here, that’s the extent of my visit…a day at the beach.  Really, just a few hours to swim then dry off, don’t lay out anymore.

From there, we decided on dinner in Marina Del Rey – a place my DIL from Turkey has never heard of so we wandered up to Venice instead.  Venice is not my favorite, it was crowded, hot, smelled like pot and to me is like a poorly run carnival.  As soon as my DIL figured it out, we were free to leave.

Instead of MDR for dinner, we then headed up to Gladstones on Sunset & PCH in Malibu, which was surprisingly not very crowded.  I’m used to “back in the day” where it was tough to get seated it was so popular.  It was a Tuesday night though, not like a weekend.

To be total tourists, we had to go to Hollywood and Universal Studios on the hottest day of the year with what looked like 58% humidity.  I brought a water bottle or I would have never made it through the 2+ hour line (90 minutes on the board, which must have meant 90 minutes to get to the indoor line).  It was for the Harry Potter ride, which was actually a lot of fun once we got on it without heat stroke.

The other ride was the tram tour I remember as a kid.  I’ve only been there once, it was after Jaws came out.  My fading memory is the fake shark coming at us, then going from set to set and seeing the “I Love Lucy” & “Bewitched” sets.  They weren’t still shows, the Bewitched set was showing us the magic of Hollywood and how they made her disappear to show up somewhere else though the editing.  WAY before cell phones!!  Now you can do everything on you phone, that’s pretty much magic.

One thing Universal did that was amazing on the rides was the 3D and that Harry Potter ride.  Even going to sit down in that Kung Fu Panda theater (not something I’d ever planned to see, I needed a short line and to sit down) puts you right in there.  Those rides were amazing, didn’t anticipate that at all.

We stayed until around 9p, I time everything around LA traffic.  My usual route here is the 405 S. through West LA and LAX airport.  The downtown LA route through the 101 to 105 at night was spectacular, don’t think I’ve done that since my friends were at USC?  Even then, I didn’t pay any attention or those buildings weren’t lit up like that.  Downtown LA is someplace I never go, thought it was just office buildings with some hospitals and a whole lot of traffic.

Going to be a tough drive back through all the smoke in the central valley.  Take my dive in the ocean and head back for the long drive.  Thinking about asking the NBA players a few doors down from my mom to help me put my bike back in the car 🙂





I used to be Heller

Aging is a humbling experience, you feel the same and yet your body and mind is telling you that’s not the case.  When I turned 50, I gained 10 pounds that have never gone away no matter what I do.  I’ve rowed, ran, swam, rode my bike, eaten only salads yet it is stuck there.  In a way, I finally have a woman’s body instead of the bikini bod I got to have for almost 50 years (you’d think I’d be grateful?).  Instead of throwing on a pair of shorts and seeing muscle I used to see, I see elephant knees.

As much as I love the beach and really am grateful I got to grow up in a beach town, moving to NorCal saved my skin.  Never one to just sit around and lay out for a tan anyway, my life was the beach.  In my teens, I would roller skate that mile to the beach every day to play volleyball and swim.  If I laid out, it was to read a book or to dry off.  As a kid, I’d ride my bike with $1 for lunch tucked in the corner of my towel for Zeppy’s pizza.

All this was coming to me on my swim yesterday, where a woman was in the lane next to me with her teenage daughter…smoking me in laps.  It’s not like I’m fast at anything, there are times I just want to cry at what I used to be.  I’m fast and in shape for my age?? I remember going in for my physical at 50 where the nurse said, “You’re 50 years young?” like I was 100.

It’s one thing to have the physical decline, barely able to pull myself out of the pool.  Twice my legs have gone out from underneath me, once getting on the boat and another time where my cousin & I were jumping off a small stage while we were dancing.  I paid for that for months afterward, it was worth it.  That’s excluding the fact I’ve been injured almost all year with broken ribs (from surfing)/bad back knocking me out for 6 mos.  Lucky I’m able to even attempt to get back in shape at all.

One of the hardest things is my memory recall.  This weekend is the 6-man volleyball tournament in Manhattan Beach I was considering going to.  Besides the elephant knees & extra weight, I look similar to how I did growing up and people recognize me.  Since I haven’t lived there for a long time, if I see someone I recognize I immediately say, “I’m Heller” to take that awkward moment of scrambling for a name out of the equation.

Obviously, people don’t have the same memory loss I do while I look at a face I haven’t seen for 20 years to try and recall a name.   It’s worse when they’re drunk with a hat and sunglasses, I had 2 guys come up to me at the last Hometown Fair I went to and were pissed I couldn’t recall their names.  One of them, for the life of me, I don’t remember at all even when he told me what his name was.

My memory used to be spot on, now I might as well be standing in front of someone peeing my pants is how humiliated I feel when put on the spot.

There was a guy at the golf course who had the same car I did.  When it was time for a smog, mine wouldn’t pass without going to a rescue smog because of a computer glitch.  The next time I saw him, I told him about it and he looked at me totally blank like he had no idea what I was talking about.  A few months later, he asked me to look up his handicap and told me he had alzheimers.  I watched his decline, finally coming out with a nurse so he could still play until he passed away.  His handicap was a 10, even with alzheimers.  A woman who guided his alzheimers group came in and wondered about bringing some of the group to play and I told her that he was really good, not your average golfer.

I think about him as I age, not that I’m anywhere near that right now.  I do skip a beat from time to time, like if someone asks what I did last weekend I’d really have to think about it instead of automatically recalling.  The physical is still automatic, similar to that guy playing golf.  Still, it’s declining probably proportional to my age which makes going to my hometown events almost painful.  That, and I’m genetically screwed in the memory department.

Back in the Day

This has been the windiest year I ever remember, it’s grounding me.  It’s overcast at the coast, meaning heavy fogs in the Bay.  Not sure what to do?? I lied, I’m not in any kind of routine right now besides writing in the mornings.  Not a solid routine anyway, I don’t have a rudder.

Someone on FB from my hometown is writing his childhood memories and people are soaking it up.  Maybe that’s the kind of writing I should do?  Instead of writing a blog about my boring days, write about “back in the day.”  If I even remember anything, my childhood memories are fading, they’re black & white memories now where I’m pretty detached.  I’d end up bashing people too, I don’t really want to do that.  There were a lot of assholes in Manhattan Beach growing up.

Let me see if I can recount a story here?  We were raised Catholic, the church has the prime real estate there on top of the hill with a killer view from Palos Verdes to Malibu.  Even the parking lot is a gold mine now.  People complain that Skechers (the shoes) own a lot of Manhattan Beach, it’s the church.  There were always wealthy families there, they just weren’t as in your face.  It wasn’t material items, although a few of the girls got VW bug convertibles when they turned 16.

My parents didn’t buy a house until I was in 6th grade, we rented in various parts of town.  We always lived in a house, we just rented and I always felt like a temporary resident not knowing where I was going to go to school the next year.  By the time they bought a house, it was East of Sepulveda on a busy street.  It was a big house for  the time, I was thrown into a whole new area of kids I didn’t know at all in the dreaded “East of Sepulveda.”

There was always CCD, the Catholic version of mean girl torture to me.  I knew all the girls, we had grown up together through CCD and soccer.  I had gone to their grade schools at one point or another, so we all knew each other.  We must have been freshman in high school when the popular, wealthy girls of the 70’s tried to enlist me in a little bit of pot smoking after our God training.  I declined, not because I was a prude and against it at all – I didn’t trust these girls and felt like it was a major set up.

I was probably right, our CCD sessions were always at a house after the initial meetings at the school classrooms when we were in grade school.  One of the guys was kind of an odd kid, I don’t remember his name.  I wouldn’t remember him at all if these girls hadn’t told him I liked him and he was acting like an idiot around me, armed with the knowledge I was into him.  It was brutal on so many levels, mostly to him.  When I found out what happened, I’m really not sure how I had to let him down?  I know I did though, his face just dropped, it was awful.  He’s probably writing his own blog about the traumatic experience in CCD where I was the bitch.  Who knows how his memory of that was?  Worse than mine I’m sure.

Not that I was the nicest girl either, I presented a tough exterior at every new school I went to.  When my kids were on swim team I was chatting with a woman who stopped our conversation to say, “My daughter was sick last week, I’m going to go help her get back in the group.  You remember how hard it was to be out and then re-connect?”  I thought about that, no I really don’t.  At some point I stopped trying and just started doing my own thing.

I still don’t get girl/women dynamics, I do feel like my experiences really helped me coach high school girls for 5 years.  I might not have been the greatest coach, my gift was guiding the girls through that mean girls period of life isn’t unique to MB.  That’s what all my childhood Catholic training taught me.