9/15/10

9/14/10

Commuting Is Not For Sissies..

In just a couple of weeks I will be marking my 8th year of living in Los Angeles.
And for that entire time I have worked in the same area of the City, which is across town from where we live, so yes, I commute to work everyday.

At first I only took the freeways since I did not know any other way around LA back then. And anyone who has read my blog for very long knows how much I hate the freeways, so after a couple of months of freeway driving, with Patrick's help I found a new way to work.....surface streets!! Even though it would be ideal if I worked on the same side of town that I lived on, I don't, so I just go with it. As someone told me a long time ago, you have to deal with things in life as they are, not as you wished they were.

For the most part I really don't mind my drive, it is 14 miles one way and usually takes me an hour each way. Since I am on surface streets, each day I get to drive through some really nice areas of LA. In that short 14 miles I pass through Lincoln Height, Chinatown, Echo Park Silverlake,West Hollywood and end up in Beverly Hills.
Some of these areas are part of the older parts of Los Angeles and so the neighborhoods I get to see everyday have some beautiful old homes and I am finding in my studies of LA, there is so much history in these areas.

But I must tell those of you who have no idea what it is like to commute to work... commuting is not for sissies!! Take this past Friday for instance. I had
just started my drive home that Friday afternoon and I could already tell the traffic was not going to be too bad.I had just turned on Melrose Ave, which makes up 5 miles of my drive and had only gone a few blocks when all the sudden the traffic in front of me started slowing down.Usually I drive with my windows down because I prefer the outside air to AC. Just as I was coming up to the traffic I started hear this sound that I can honestly say I will never forget. I was a cross between a scream and a loud sorrowful moan. It is really had to describe it but it literally gave me chills, and I did not even know what it was yet. I kept looking around trying to see what direction it was coming from. There were people crossing the intersection just up ahead and they kept looking back over their shoulder and when they got to the other side of the street they just stood on the corner and looked back in the direction they had come from. Then suddenly the car in front of me pulled up enough I could get a look at what everyone was looking at...and I found the source of the sound I kept hearing...it was a woman lying face down in the street....she and her bike had been hit by an SUV...her bike had been broken in two and the front part was laying close to the middle of the intersection and the back part was laying at least 8 feet in the other direction. It really was a horrible thing to see and what made it even more horrible was...NO ONE was trying to help her!! Every one was just standing there or sitting in their cars looking at her laying there in the street but none of them was trying to see about her. I could not
believe it. The way the cars were parked on my right and how slowly the traffic was moving at that point there was no where for me to park my car. By the time I did
reach the side street where I could pull out of traffic, the police and an ambulance pulled up. At least someone had called the police! The entire weekend,the image of the woman laying in the street and the sound she was making would not leave my mind. And the fact that no one was helping her made it even worse to me.

Now fast forward a couple of days to yesterday, Monday. After a really fun weekend
I had just dropped the nephew off at the High School, it was the first day of school, and I had started heading for work. I had reached the Lincoln Heights part of my journey and traffic was busy but moving along really nice. On this part of my commute,the traffic is 2 lanes both ways winding through an old neighborhood of homes and store front businesses. The light up head turned red so both the lanes
going my direction started slowing down. As we started stopping I could see
I was going to be in the middle of an intersection with the road I was on and a side street so I stopped just before I got to the intersection so I would not be blocking it. To my right there was a woman in a large black car waiting on the side street to
make a turn onto the street I was on. Since I had stopped she had plenty of room
to come from the side street into the traffic.She pulled out where she was directly in front of my car(I was in the right lane)and I could tell she needed to go
in the opposite direction as we were going so she would be turning left into the
traffic going in the opposite direction. She had taken so long to do what she needed to do that the light had turned green and my traffic was starting to move again, except she was blocking my lane. And all the sudden like I was sitting there watching a 3D movie, she hit the gas and plowed into the car that had just passed me on my left that was going the same direction as I was. He never saw her, she was in a large car and he was driving a smaller car. He was traveling probably 25 miles
an hours or so and she slammed into him right beind his rear passenger door. When she hit him,his car immediately swerved to the right and hit the car that had been traveling in front of me before we stopped at the light, his car pushed her car aside andhe kept going and slammed into one of the store front businesses.I sat there and truly could not believe what I had just witnessed. The lady in the black car ended up across the street blocking traffic that was coming toward us. There were literally car parts everywhere, large car parts!! I immediately pulled on the
side street and got out to make sure everyone was ok. People who had been standing
there waiting to cross at the light was already running toward the guy she had hit and the lady he had struck before the hit the store front. As I ran toward the intersection,the first thing I noticed was that the traffic was not stopping. People were driving right through the intersection, swerving to miss the car that was blocking everything and they were driving over all the parts of the cars that
were laying in the street like they were not even there.

The first person I got to was the kid driving the car that had ended up in the store front. He had gotten out of his car and was trying to talk on his cell phone. He was not speaking English but he did when I started talking to him. You could tell he was in shock. I looked him over good and made sure he was not bleeding or hurt. He told me he was ok. I then headed over to the lady who had been driving the car in front of me. She was shaken up but fine. The lady who had cause the accidentwas standing next to her car with a group of people and she appeared to be ok too. I stood there and looked around and thought how amazing things had changedfor us who were sitting in traffic on our way to work that morning. In just a brief instant, everything changed.Thankfully, this time,it was the carsthat were messed up.

Everyday Patrick and I both commute to work, in different directions. Everyday when
we both get home safely I always say a little prayer of thanksgiving that we both made it home ok. For those of you who live close to where you work, be thankful and don't take it for granted.For the rest of who who commute everyday,be careful. And all those who do commute,I am sure you will agree with me that commuting is not of sissies!!

later.

9/11/10

We Have a Football Player In The House!!!!....


Growing up in Southeast Texas, High School football games were not simply something you attended, they were a part of your life!! Second only to deer season, High School football season is a MAJOR part of the year for the whole town, not just for people who have kids on the team. There are Friday afternoon pep rallies before every game. Half the town will pack up and go the away games,and you sure better get their early if you want to sit in the stands to watch a home game.

I attended school in Silsbee, Texas, Home of the TIGER football team. We even had a large replica of a Tiger getting reading to leap that was mounted on a platform with wheels so it could be moved up and down the sideline when Silsbee made a touchdown.
I have so many great memories of attending football games with my Mom and Dad and little brother. I am serious when I tell you the WHOLE town turned out for the game on Friday night. During my JR year in High School, we were district champions and when we played the semifinal State game in a town a couple of hours away...all the stores closed early..I mean every single store in downtown Silsbee, close at 3pm so everyone could be at the game.

I was really surprised to find out how different it was here in California. Out here, unless you have a kid on the team or are friends with someone who has a kid on the team, you probably never think about going to a game. For a couple of years I did attend the home games for a town close to Palm Springs. I had a close friend at work,Kathy, who was a single Mom and she had 2 great kids. The youngest was Brian.
Since I hung out with them quiet often, Brian and I got to be buddies. Since there was not a Dad around, he and I really bonded and did a ton of stuff together. Me being Gay was not a big deal to him at all. So when he got into High School he asked me if I would go to football games with him, I was pretty surprised but of course I said yes. So every home game there we were, and we both had a blast. Never once did I embarrass him by cheering for the wrong team!! After a while I had not only Brian to go with but about 5 or 6 of his school friends whose Dads would not come with them to the games. I had my own little entourage! The thing that was really wonderful
to me was,all of his friends knew I was Gay and it was not a big deal to any of them, no more than I had brown hair and wore glasses. To them, I was their friend Jaymes and we all had a blast on Friday night when we all attended their football game and then went out for ice cream after the game. It really gave me hope for a brighter future for these guys.

Now fast forward a few years, now I live here in good old Los Angeles and we have a
football player in the house!! The nephew is playing on the Jr Varsity football
team at his High School, Woodrow Wilson. He is living his dream... he has said he was going to play High School football since he was in Elementary School and here he is on the Jr Varsity team.

Since last March or April, he has practiced every afternoon after school. Every weekday during the Summer he was at practice from 3-6pm and never missed a practice.
Now that school has started he is a practice every afternoon till about 7pm.
I am so proud of him, we all are. I pick him up everyday after on my home from work and for me that is a great thing.

So today he had his first game. Patrick and I dropped him off at the High School around 1pm so he could ride the bus over with the team. Since the game was not until 4pm, we had some time to kill. So at 4pm there we were, Patrick, Miss Anna (patrick's mom)and the niece and Patrick's sister all ready to cheer for the team.

Now I need to stop for a second and explain something to you. Like I said before,
in my hometown, we are the Fighting Tigers...here at this school....they are the Mules. Mules...I asked Patrick who would name their High School football team the Mules? So I guess I have gone from a Fighting Tiger....to a Mule. I have been practicing but I have not been able to shout " GO MULES" at a game yet...I am trying
but it may take me a little time on this one...

So the first game was really exciting and his team did really well...I was surprised how well the team really worked together.. I was jumping and down
and shouting and having a blast, almost like I was back in Texas at a Tiger game.
The nephew is # 77, he was a starter for the first game and even recovered a
fumble! We are very proud. They actually won their first game, 26 to 6.
We are very very proud of our very own in house football player..our own
little Mule!!!

later