Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Midwesterner vs. the Beach

I think we all like to think we’re beach types.  Beach types are fun, they know how to relax, how to party, they’re athletic, they’re good swimmers, they have achieved some level of life guard certification.  In short if we’re beach types...we're practically as cool as Baywatch.  
 I'm trying to join the party, act like I love getting sand in my hair and eyes and swimsuit, act like I love lounging around even though I'm roasting....but a person can only keep up the charade for so long.  I’ve been to the beach twice while being out here in lovely California, and both times the event has been underwhelming.
The first time, Katie and I, for some odd reason, decided to go on a Sunday, and leave at noon, aka: THE TIME WHERE EVERYONE GOES.  We spent twenty minutes driving to the beach and another thirty trying to park.  We were meeting up with some of Katie’s intern friends who were “somewhere near a blue tent waiting for us” after another 20 minutes of slogging down the beach, poking around the dozens of blue tents, I was feeling rather cross.  
We set up our blankets and I discovered I had forgotten a book.  Blast!  What’s the point of going to the beach if you don’t have anything to read?!?!  So I lied down, got really warm, got really sandy, waded into the water, felt really cold....repeat process.
Then Katie and I realized we had forgotten to pack any food.  Blast!  What’s the point of going to the beach if you don’t bring a picnic?!?!?!  The expert beachgoers were so smart...they had their coolers and their fruit and their huge pag of Cheetos.  We, inexperienced beachers hiked up to the pier and after waiting through a crowded, serpentine line, we paid $7 a piece for a hotdog.  

The pier hides its overpriced-ness in its beauty.  

We walked past an anti-war demonstration with coffins in the sand to represent the amount of troops who had died that week backed by rows and rows of representative Crosses, Stars of Davids, and Crescents for the troops who had died overall....I'm not really sure how I felt about it.  (Writer fail)

The Santa Monica beach was packed with people.  Not oddly, the majority of the people are Latino.  Oddly, a large majority of the people swimming are all wearing regular day clothes.  Just like when you see people running in just kinda wanna go up to them and ask:  
1.) Is that comfortable?
2.) Are you planning on wearing that the rest of the day?
3.) Don’t you just feel gross?
However, the counterargument is that these people own neither bathing suits nor work out clothes, so I should really be applauding them for unyielding effort rather than thinking them strange.  You be the judge!   
The second beach Katie and I tried along with our new friend Molly, was a beach in Newport.  It was a part of a fun day trip to see my family in Newport Beach.  Molly, who lives with a 65-year-old-hoarder named Shirley, and Katie who lives in the co-op described in an earlier post, and I, who had killed a silverfish in my bed the other night, were all a little wary of our living situations, and were really desperate to be in someone’s home for a while.  Well, my Aunt’s was perfect.  We slept in my cousin’s Monty’s bedroom, Molly and Katie in the twin beds, I on a leaking mattress, and woke up to my Aunt having made breakfast!  Due to the lack of cooking in my family, the only time I ever wake up to a “made” breakfast is when I am at sleepovers.  So the french toast and bacon was really a wonderful start to the day.  My cousin Danny drove us to this tiny island, I think it was called Balboa.  And I was glad I wasn’t driving because I was so bewitched by the small-town store feel and all of the charming houses, nestled next to one another that I probably would have hit something...and I already backed into a parked car of a guy who works at my office this that would have been less than ideal.

My face whilst talking to the insurance company earlier in the week:  

Danny escorted the three of us to the beach and then went to join some friends seeing the Dark Knight Rises (something Molly, Katie and I had already done.)  Molly, Katie and I spread out under the overcast sky assuming that it would clear didn’t.  But it was still very warm, and Molly still got very burned, so still a beach success.
The water was unpredictable.  The three of us were nearly asleep on our towels when we heard the whole crowd around us scream.  We opened our eyes to find that the water had washed nearly 20 feet further up the shore than it had been when we arrive and our stuff was in serious danger of getting soaked.  We moved some more feet up the shore to avoid such a problem.  I had brought a book this time, but didn’t feel like pulling it out and getting sandy, so I occupied my time by finding fingernail shaped sea shells and arranging them to look like hands.  
------Possible business idea....sell fake nails designed to look like sea them to people who buy natural chocolate cookies with herbal vanilla bean cream in supermarket instead of Oreos.--------Consider it Copywritten, ya’ll.  
Anyway!!!  My favorite part of beaches are the kids.  They’re hilarious.  The really young toddlers scream in surprise every time the water washes toward them, as though they thought the previous wave was sure to be the last.  The kids at the first beach who were chasing each other around being gorillas.  The ones trying to build sandcastles using a tiny plastic shovel.  The little kids who haven’t decided if walking really is the most efficient way to travel, so they mix it up with sporadic jumps and leaps and dance steps.    The kid who was so proud of his turtle towel that he paraded it around to us.  The ones who stare at you with huge eyes out of their strollers and you just wish you knew what this all looked like to them.
The best part about kids on the beach is that none of them are mine! I can grin at them and think they’re adorable, and unlike the daycamp I worked at the last two years, I don’t have to do anything about them! 
After the beach - we only lasted an hour and a half - we took Danny’s suggestion and went to a place called GreatMex which, true to it’s name...had Great Mexican food.  (Yes, I eat that, disbelieving family and friends).  Then we wandered around looking at the beautiful summer beachfront homes.  
That was a treat for a girl who bought herself a text-book sized “HomeBook” when Borders was going out of business and let myself read it to reward homework efficiency..... 

These houses are absurd.  They all have gorgeously planted patios decorated with couches, grills and tables.  But beyond that, they have almost no common thread.  One house was brown with glass as a full wall joining at a point like the prow of a ship.  One house was a deep jade green surrounded by roses, another was white with bright blue tops like it had been transported from Greece.  Well...I can’t really describe all of them, because we passed dozens, but if you have time Googleimage/earth that stuff...I would. 

The only house I didn’t like was a long brown one with dozens of variously sized bears perched in every window grinning out at us.  A sign said “WARNING! BEAR COLLECTOR!  COLLECTION GONE AWRY!”  The sign was supposed to be a joke, but I took the message seriously.  
Afterward, we took another piece of Danny’s advice and stopped at BJ’s for a Pizookie...which, for NU people, is a sophisticated version of Hot Cookie Bar. 

I thought we should each order our own.... until we saw that the menu listed each one was about 1000 calories.  After seeing that, this happened:

                                                   (ad lib)
                                     OH MY GOD!  WHY? WHY WOULD THEY LIST THAT?                     
                                     DISGUSTING. THAT HAS TO BE LIKE A DETERRING FACTOR?  
                                     WHAT KIND OF MARKETING PLAN IS THIS?
So we ordered a trio instead, mini versions of their classic, red velvet and cookies and cream Pizookies.  A few tables away though, 4 people celebrating their friend’s first Pizookie ever ordered the party size...which is supposed to be feed 18 people and is $24....they polished that thing off.  Shudder.  
We went back to the Millers and to cope with the sad loss of Katie’s new phone, we used the pool and hot tub.  Then we were treated to a delicious meal of grilling and wonderful conversation with the Millers and their family friends, and were very sad we had to leave. 
Katie and I will have to go back, though, mainly because I left clothes there...typical.

So we'll see how frequently I plan to visit the beaches again.  Definitely when Michael gets here.  So let's hope the third time is the charm.

The End.

The making of this blog:
1.) I decided last minute to add sunset picture because I realized, what kind of blog about a beach didn't have a sunset picture at the end?

2.) I considered writing about The Dark Knight Rises, but I figured ya'll would be blogged out.  I might start  second blog reviewing movies and stuff...not that my opinion really matters, and I'm certainly not an expert, but I find myself thinking about them all the time.

3.) I just recently learned how to take screenshots!  How useful are they!  AmIright?
4.)  I really really really really really love pools.  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Home is Where the Heart is, Actually Though

I've learned a lot in the past week.

My brother and I made a mad dash home to say good-bye to my grandfather in the last few days of his life.  He is the first major death I have experienced in my family.  I'm not going to write much about it here, because that's the type of essay that I would write over a week, and then edit for another eight.  But you can read his obituary here, if you're interested: Ken Patterson.

The one thing I will say, is that I told my family my vision of "heaven" or what's above and waiting for us.  For the past few years, I have genuinely pictured the afterlife to be a series of TedTalks.  There'd be tons of lectures and demonstrations: hear Newton talk about his theories in Cloud Conference Room 3! Amelia Earhart revels what really happened! A painting demonstration with Picasso!  And at 12, Martin Luther King Jr. performs "I Have a Dream" for your viewing pleasure!  My grandfather growing up on an farm in Iowa, I picture him discussing with John Deere what made his tractor so damn good.  

Going home, even for such a reason, was overall comforting.  It was nice to be with my family.  It was amazing how quickly I fell back into the habits of home with the five of us there.  Group Bananagrams before bed, cheese sticks before lunch, and group hugs when the time called for it.  Yes, we do that.  And I visited Northwestern while I was home as well, it's hard to ignore the boyfriend waiting in the town 40 minutes away.

I am a little ashamed to admit how quickly I had forgotten about those achey Illinois summers.  And I've spent 19 years in them: spending 30 hours a week at the wave pool as a kid, spending 35 hours a week on the blacktop in marching band, and then two years of 40 hours of kid-wrangling a week until I got to LA.

(If you've got 10 minutes, you should check out what intense marching band is all about:
and if you don't have 10 minutes, just start at 3:48.  Prospect Marching Knights, Shall We Dance Marching Band was easily one of the two best things I did in high school.  The other was speech.  Anyway!  )

But just four weeks in the lovely Los Angeles and I had forgotten what a difference 20 degrees, and 80% humidity really is.  Back at Northwestern, Michael and I walked to meet up with other friends living in a soon-to-be-condemned frat house, clouds of bugs clung to each lamppost, and we could only hold hands for a few seconds before we decided it just wasn't worth it.

Then after a few short days, I returned back to L.A.  I slept on both flights back here.  I keep starting to write the word "home" and then erasing it and replacing it with "L.A" and "Here" and I'm not sure why, because that's the whole point of this blogpost.  I think that feeling of independence people describe when they get at study abroad, or move anywhere new, or go to college even, is the further self-development of home being self-contained.  I don't have to reject one Mt. Prospect or Evanston or L.A. to embrace the others.

No doubt, it can feel strange, a little sneaky even, gallivanting from one place to the other and sinking right back into the habits established there without thought to the other two places, but I think it's essential to do more than "get by" in any new place we find ourselves.  Every run I go on, every yogurt store Katie drags me to, every new highway that catches me in traffic, L.A. and I infuse one another with something more to hold on to.  I feel like a modern day cartographer, mapping memories onto this state so I can one day return and not have to start from scratch again.

And returning was like starting new.  I've got two new internships, so that brings me up to 3, and I've learned a ton from all of them.  Although I'll have to make a much more comprehensive list at the end of the summer, one thing that I've learned is that you have to shamelessly use the web for self-promotion and interaction.  Therefore, I am (trying not to be shameful! aaahh hard) announcing myself fully caught up. You can now find me on Facebook, twitter, tumblr, LinkedIn pinterest, stumbleupon and a blog.  I guess the next step is a YouTube channel.  Sigh.

You may ask: Laura? Why all of this need for social media?  Because! If I want to be an actress/singer/song-writer/stand-up/novelist/blogger/rapper/sell-out-pop-star/fashion designer/cartoonist/feminist activist/founder of my own school

 ....well, I've got a lot of networking to do.

Love Always,


Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Trip to Corporate Disney

My Uncle's business connections landed me with a tour at Disney studios in Burbank.  I originally entered at the wrong gate and the security guard's kind instruction to the proper gate was my first taste of what seems to be a Disney standard of politeness.

A few right turns and I was at the right entrance.  Another friendly security guard asked for my i.d. and then gave me a Disney Company visitor pass to wear and one for my car.  After parking I found the elevators.  Brave posters were displayed on a billboard in the vestibule holding the elevators.  And so it began.

I met two more security guards.  "Hello...I'm supposed to be meeting someone in a building being held up by the seven dwarves?"

"Well, good.  You're in it!"

"Oh.  Thanks."  The building was made of clay-red pillars and walls, the spaces with offices connected by partially outdoor walkways, the first atrium circular, the second rectangular.

I peered out the other direction to see a miniature and classier version of what appears at the Chinese Theater, a courtyard of bronzed placards with handprints of "Disney Legends" creating a perimeter around three statues: Walt Disney with Mickey, Walt Disney with Minnie and a giant conducting hand over a castle and wave, a symbol for Fantasia, I believe.

I stepped farther out to view the building and saw the seven dwarves, huge facades built into the design of the building to appear as to they're holding up the top.  I wasn't sure if I was impressed or a little turned off.  

I must make the confession here that I have never been a Disney fanatic.  I loved the Princesses, and Pixar has been responsible for some of my greatest crying sessions, but as a child I was always oddly disengaged by personification.  I found Whinnie the Pooh dull, Peter Pan generic (and I certainly despised Wendy for agreeing to be the mother of kids who didn't want her to have fun with them) and Pinnochio and Aladin too boy-intense. I actually haven't seen a lot of movies too, Dumbo, Bambi, the Fox and the Hound, the Lady and the Tramp.  But I was at Disney, damn it, and I was going to put that all of that aside and let myself be swept up into the Wonderful World of Disney.

"Laura?" I turn to see my guide, a young blonde woman with sunglasses, a bright top and jeans.  I curse myself for forgetting my sunglasses and my hat, because we spend most of the tour outside.  But first!  There was lunch.

The cafeteria, just like everywhere else on the Disney-Burbank campus, felt like an upscale college campus.  Most people wore California business casual: some combination of pants, ties, vests, sunglasses perched on top of heads, boat shoes, button-down shirts.  The different stations were neatly labeled and Anne and I went for salads, filling our biodegradable containers with food from the Disney Ranch, somewhere else in California.

Anne works for the creative marketing division, she helps design the posters for movies that come out, usually flipping through the photoshoot and deciding which images would look best on a poster.  "It's hard to complain about your job when you have to look through photos of Jonny Depp all day."  True that.  Anne also identifies as a photographer and an auditioning actress "Still hoping for something to happen."

We chatted about the movies we'd seen, what Disney does now, all the things it acquires.  I told her about my discovery of MoviePhone interviews on YouTube, and how I had spent ten sad minutes watching  the following video:

An interview with the horses who played Seabiscuit would have been more engaging that Kristen, Robert and Stephanie.

We finished our delicious salads and headed off on broad sidewalks marked by black posts "Mickey Street" or "Dopey Drive".  We walked by the buildings that housed lawyers, CEOs, Walt's office, animators, the painters, the large Disney store all decked out for Brave.  As the sun beat down, we weaved our way through prop storage, building docks, studios and lots.  "They used to film Alias in here.  We would always see Jennifer riding around on her pink bike.  All the stars have bikes they ride around beween lots."  There are no huge studio tours at Disney like at Universal, just a few guests like me, grinning from ear to ear on the inside, but trying to keep calm on the outside.  "Oh yeah, having a bike makes total sense."

She showed me some building facades.  "I was in an episode of Ellen here!  We had to wear pink and red, and we were all grouped like gay couples.  I stood right on this corner and Ellen walked by me."

Elllen!!!!!! ahhhhhhhh!!! I LOVE ELLEN!!!1

"Oh, that must have been fun."

We took a break from the heat in the Disney archives room.  There was a very small tour there, and they were all taking turns holding an Oscar that had been removed from its usual black velvet case. I stood glued to the outer rim of the crowd...maybe the tour organizer wouldn't realize I wasn't with them....maybe he would hand the Oscar to me....maybe he would realize I wasn't with them and say "Hey, would you want to hold this anyway?"....maybe I just should have grabbed Oscar and bolted.....none of these things happened, and the tour guide slipped Oscar back into his quiet place.  I tried to stop drooling.  I convinced myself that not holding an Oscar, but getting so close to it was a good thing, it would just make winning one all the more rewarding.....whatever a girl can do to stay motivated.

The archives had little trinkets from the tiny sketches of Mickey from the company's conception all the way up to the Wardrobe from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  Through open doors, I could see vintage posters hanging on the walls and labeled bicycles on top of shelves.

Eventually Anne had to go back to work, but she said as long as I had my "guest pass" on I was free to wander.  I went back to the store, but determined it was not different than the one at my local mall, and left.  I then wandered through the animation building.  That was much more exciting.  The hallway had beautiful examples of the different steps of animation, and used some of the most iconic movies to do so.  I read a lot of the placards, but I would feel like a fake trying to actually explain what goes into creating these, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

It was excited to be at Disney, to feel the energy of a successful label with staff that were regularly recognized for their work.  Anne and I seemed to share a similar love of movies, and movie soundtracks, and my journey at Disney was magical in that it was one of the first times I could really see myself in L.A.  If I don't make it as an actress, I could easily picture myself in Corporate California, tryna catch a glimpse of the day's star on her bicycle and pretending like I don't care. :-)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Katie and I ate ourselves a big Italian meal and then decided to look at UCLA's sorority houses.  They all sit on one stretch or road that wraps around UCLA, making it a very convenient place to live, I'm sure.  The sorority houses are huge, decorating the hilltops with their pillars and porches.  Most of them are impressive enough from the front, but combine that with how deep set in the lost they are and these things look like mansions.   Most of their narrow driveways are painted with the house names.  
We landed in front of Katie's house right as the house mom was entering!  The woman with dyed blonde hair moved slowly and blinked heavily.  She was carrying a bouquet of flowers and had a completely unplaceable dialect, some moments it seemed Southern, and others it seemed British, others Northern.  After Katie introduced herself as a Michigan State Sister the woman let out a rehearsed, "Well, I know you wanna see the house.  I'll give you five minutes."

 The main entrance was large but only had one piece of furniture: a glass case full of pictures and achievements of the women in the chapter from over the decades.   The ground floor had many rooms: a huge new kitchen with granite countertops tucked next to two large dining areas connected by french doors.  There were two parlors that were perfectly designed for recruitment, chairs, couches, and tables all in the same light, rustic coloring.  One had a piano in it, the other a large fireplace, table and more french doors that led to the front patio, they both had rugs to warm the hardwood floors.  There was a smaller room opposite the dining rooms decorated in dark colors with a T.V. pinned to the tall walls.  
The upstairs rooms each had their own furniture and sizes, some rooms fit for 2 women, others for 8.  The room for eight people had a room with four bunk beds and chairs around a table, and a second room holding dressers and closets.  The house mom told us that things got "quite full."
Katie was practically drooling over the house, as she said it was way bigger than her house at Michigan state, but we eventually left and continued our walk.

Tuesday rolled around and it was definitely time for a Ralph’s trip.  And unlike Evanston, because the city of Westwood understands college kids and their needs, Ralphs is open 24/7!  After going at 10 p.m though, we have decided never to go so late again.  I wore my yoga shorts a t-shirt, cowgirl boots and a big chunky sweater.  Katie was in shorts and a t-shirt, and apparently it was all just too much for the night crew at Ralph’s to handle.  I walked past a 60 year old black man in a beret. 
“Ohhh  missy.  Those are some nice legs there.”

Answer in my mind: 
They’re not for you. a Ralph’s?  
Interesting pick-up strategy.  Just creepily whisper things to young girls as they’re trying to pick some fresh carrots.  What’s your success rate on this one?
Lengthy feminist rant that I won’t put here because I wrote about Brave just a few posts ago.  

Answer that I went with:
Silence.  Hopeful implications of silence: general abhorrence for you makes it impossible for me to vocalize in your presence.

I told Katie what had happened and we hurried to a different part of the store.  Some 1950’s classic came on the air and Katie called for a “triple time step!”  Which we both did. Some 20-something year old came up to us. 
“Um, excuse you two know where the salt is?”
Well, I of course didn’t, and said “no” before Katie directed him to the right area of the store.  Damn that girl knows where everything is, everywhere!  We continued our grocery shopping until another guy walked by us, same age as the first guy.  
“Hey.  Excuse me....could you help me find the salt?”  *facepalm* Katie directs him, I roll my eyes.  Right before we can talk about the incident, the black man in the beret passes behind us, “Do you take numbers little missy?” he whispers.  

Interpreted implication of my silence:  You just weren’t loud enough the first time!  Say something else creepy to the girl in the Ralph’s and you’ll have a much better chance!!! 
Well, I ignored him again, and Katie buries herself in the rice dying of laughter. At this point, Katie and I decide to increase our shopping speed, the whole time on the look out for the third guy to ask us where the salt is.  When there is no third guy, we are even further annoyed with them because they can’t even pull off a properly-structured prank.  Idiots.  

That night we made Oreo Balls whilst watching Game of Thrones and eating fresh grapes.  It was an epic combination.  Here’s a more fancy way to make the things we made:  We basically just melted chocolate chips, instead of using expensive baker’s bark.  

Game of Thrones took over our lives.  Katie and I would watch an episode, and when the screen would cut to black and  turn to the credits, we both turn to each other, identical helpless grins spreading over our faces: “Another one?”
It’s just one of those shows where everyone is so ridiculously attractive.  Katie and I are constantly IMDBing pictures whilst watching. Best treat yet was finding out the guy who plays Khal Drogo is actually way more attractive in real life than in his make-uped GoT attire.  
 Jason Momoa swoon.

4th of July
In the morning, Katie and I woke up (she slept over, as usual) and she made pancakes!  To make it more patriotic, I played John Phillip Sousa marches from youtube.  We then...watched more Game of Thrones and then showered and went to a nice barbecue with some Northwestern people.  We had a lot of fun, met a new friend, and couldn’t see any fireworks from where we were, but found that we didn’t really care.  We stayed for 5 hours, but the whole time we were thinking about Game of Thrones, and trying not to speak in British accents which would have been a little less than patriotic.  We finished the series that night, and I don’t want to exaggerate too much...but it was a little like that numbing feeling after finishing Harry Potter.  Unlike sitcoms or dramas where you come back for the people and the plots, fantasies have the added excitement of seeing the sets and the costumes.  I find them holistically more engrossing, which is why it’s so disappointing when it ends.   

Random ..... childish Gambino features Tina Fey in a rap!  She's so funny.  She starts at 4:56...the song is kinda crude fyi, until Tina comes in, that is.  

Katie's sister is in town this week, and it's Katie's birthday this Saturday, so I'm sure there are lot more fun things to come :-)  Thanks for reading!   

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Running around L.A.

Running around L.A.

As anyone who has travelled with me can tell you, I have no sense of direction.  I rely on everything and everyone around me: Peg my GPS, my sister, my boyfriend, my parents.  But in LA all I have is my brand new and obnoxiously shotty GPS who I do not respect enough yet to name, and thankfully the ultimate crutch, Katie Nopar.  Girl is a beast.  She knows all of the important information like "this street runs north-south" and "you can take 101 to 110 to the 405" and "'re not in Hollywood, you're in Silverlake."

This lack of awareness is the main reason I shy away from running outside; I am terrified I am going to get lost.  My routes are completely unimaginative.  Even in the neighborhood I lived in for 18 years, my usual run was one mile up the left side of the street and one mile down the right side.

Ridiculously (or usefully?) the other reason I don't like running outside, is because I always believe I'm about to be attacked.  It's a feeling born of protective family members and an overactive imagination.  I can pick out all the places on a road someone might be lurking, overgrown shrubbery, underneath cars.  Unfortunately for my exercise, it doesn't make me run any faster, I just shift my eyes a lot more, and sometimes if I'm feeling particularly paranoid, turn in a circle as I ran.  I also run with my keys to use as a weapon in one hand and my phone in the other, and I don't run with music, so I can hear a possible attacker.  

If I had to pick anywhere to simultaneously run and be ready to fight though, it'd be Westwood.  It looks like every house is trying to compete for a home/garden prize, and that any judge would have a hard time choosing.  Unlike the suburbs I grew up in, every house has it's own personality, even if most of them are of the same influence.  They are mostly different colors of dirt or clay, some with small turrets, others with courtyards jutting out in front or tucked behind walls.  Potted flowers waterfall toward the ground and everyone has tiny sprinklers purposefully placed and running on timers.

Then of course there's the hills.  According to others, Westwood isn't a particularly hilly area, but I'm used to land so flat you could lay a level on it.  The first day I tried running in Westwood -1.5 miles on the left side of the street, 1.5 miles back on the right, I pulled my inner thigh trying to figure out how best to run up a hill - and apparently not figuring it out.  Slightly embarrassing, but not as much as the time I pulled my thigh jazz running at band camp.  So there's that.  The houses don't fight the hills like I do; they seem to enjoy a symbiotic relationship, at least ascetically.  Steps with tunnel vision cut straight through the hill no-nonsense toward the house, or the daydreaming steps laze their way up, turning a bit here and there before they reach the landing.  Garages are set at all sorts of odd places.  Sometimes the houses are behind and above the garages, reminding me of boat houses on Lake Michigan.  

The second time I tried running in Westwood...I did get lost.  I thought I'd be a bit adventurous (I'm in LA what the hell!) and try a different way back, when I wound up on a street that I thought was going to be parallell that went perpendicular, and had to use a lot of street smart skills that I don't necessarily have.  Things like : "Okay...wait....which side of me was the sun on when I started?"  "Hmm...are the numbers going up or down?"  "Ashton, Ashton, why do I recognize this street name? Oh!  It's the one right before mine!"  Eventually, I figured it out, and I was home. But I walked a lot on that outing, there's something that makes me panicky about running in what might be the wrong direction.  Walking in the wrong direction seems fixable....I recognize that this doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  

Lately though, to be more efficient with my time, I go for a run around Silverlake Reservoir after work.  Instead of trying to battle the traffic home at 6 p.m with everyone else, it just makes more sense to work out for an hour, then take only 25 minutes to get home.  It's been quite nice.  The few times I've been there, Silverlake has about 200 people running around it.  Seventy percent of them have dogs, and there are even two dog parks for dogs of different sizes.  

There are always fascinating people running.  A lot of moms walking with babies strapped to their fronts, today a man in an "Army" t-shirt lapped me twice around the 2.5 mile track (that's how long it is according to at least.  At the exact same times I'm there, so is this 40-year-old Latino man who I always recognize, and he is killing it, let me tell you.  He's shorter than I am, but he is always hustling.  I've started smiling at him as we pass.  There are people who run in jeans and t-shirts, and people in work-out outfits that cost well-over $200.   There was a small Asian girl walking in booty shorts and a tank top and heeled boots walking her dog around and around.  Today as I started my run, I thought I heard a dog bark.  I looked up and saw a man hanging out of a truck staring at me....which is just unexplainable.  In my navy blue shirt, black IHSA shorts, hair pulled into a bun on the top of my head, and shoelaces that won't stay tied, I am neither trying to be attractive, nor achieving it.  

I know you're all eager to hear more things about cars and car here they are:

1.) there are actually less deaths on the road during the winter, because people are actually driving cautiously.  More deaths occur in the summer.

2.) For every foot wider they make lanes, people drive 3 miles faster.

3.) When the lanes are more clearly painted, people drive more recklessly.

4.) Looking at the data side by side, people in light cars are twice as likely to die as those in heavy cars.

5.) Comparing the two in the crash, if a heavy car hits a light car, the person in the light car is 13 times more likely to die.

6.) Crash dummies are usually only designed in two sizes: average male height and small female.  University of Michigan is using a lot of cool laser imaging stuff to create more accurate computer crash tests to see why elderly people get hurt more in car crashes.

Thanks to research I'm doing for work, I spent part of the day trying to find some New York based Native American talent.  Because of this quest, I have a gmail conversation between myself and "Kinfewing".  Cool.

Tonight, one of my roommates, Katie and I watched 4 hours of Game of Thrones....gotta love having cable for the first time in your life.  Did we have it in the dorms?  Who has time to find out!  We all particularly love when Khal Drogo calls what's her name "My little moon." Darling.

Well, I'm off to read Katie's screenplay, she's finished by the way (big deal big deal big deal).

Until later,