The very first night I was here, I went for a run down at the beach. At that time I had no idea about neighborhoods, where to park, what was safe, what was not safe. As far as I was concerned, I had done my homework, and my homework said I was moving to one of the safest cities in L.A. County.
I parked my rental car in the underground parking garage at the Redondo Beach Pier. My own car was en route, and being shipped from Wasilla, Alaska, so my company had me in a rental car until it arrived. I paid for parking, and went up the stairs that led to the beach path that I was going to run on. Off I went...
It was a great run. I got back to the pier, and the sun was setting. I decided to take a walk out on the pier, and take it all in. As I was walking back toward the steps to where my car was parked, I turned around to take one last picture of the sunset. A guy was standing over to the side of the walkway, and asked me about my picture. I told him that I was new to the area, and that I hadn't seen the sunset from the pier. And he started to approach me, smiling.
By this time you probably all have the theme song to your favorite slasher movie running through your heads. Keep it there...it gets better, and your musical selection will only add to the excitement of all of this.
So Mr. CuriousAboutMyPhoto approaches me, introduces himself, and holds out his hand for me to shake. I'm new to town. Where I come from, people shake hands and introduce themselves, so I did, and gave him my first name. He didn't look super scary, but he did have a blue diamond tattoo over his left eye. He was also holding a fishing pole, and his bicycle with the other hand.
The conversation went quickly downhill. He asked me if I was interested in smoking weed. I told him I wasn't into that. Then he suggested we get a drink. He told me that he was 32 years old, and had been "looking for the one" for his whole life, and that I might be that girl. Then he started saying how amazing it would be to get me in a Jacuzzi, and "take care of me".
Hmmmm...does that kind of shit fly here in L.A.? Because where I come from we call that, er, super creepy.
I was quickly realizing that I was not in Kansas (or Alaska, or Colorado) anymore. Homeboy continued to whisper sweet (crazy-ass) nothings into my ear. Only this time, he had decided he was going to put his arm around me, and rest it on my shoulder. He still had his bike and his fishing pole in his other hand.
I started to walk at a faster pace. I tried to push his arm off of me, but the more I tried to push it away, the tighter he grabbed me--and now he was up to my neck. I was still trying to loosen his grip as I was rapidly trying to get to my car (like a Toyota Corolla was going to save me--oh the flawed logic you have when someone is trying to sexually assault you). He continued to whisper in my ear about all the things he wanted to do to my body, while essentially having a death grip choke hold on me. He was like a horny boa constrictor.
There were a couple of people in the parking garage a few rows over, so I yelled "STOP IT!!!" and for help, but nobody even batted an eye. I could see my car a short distance away. I was trying to calculate how I was going to get out of this. I was just fortunate that he had his bike and fishing pole in his other hand, or I'm not sure I would have.
As we got closer to my car, his grip around my neck was tighter than ever. I decided that I was going to put all my strength into somehow ripping his arm off from around me, while simultaneously unlocking my car with my key fob, and I was going to make a mad dash to get in.
Somehow, by the grace of God, I was able to force his arm back over my head, shove him away (and he went off balance, and the bike took him the rest of the way) and I jumped in my car, slammed the door, and quickly locked the doors (how I knew where the stupid button was in a rental car, I have no idea, especially in full-on panic mode). He then ran up to the car, started banging on my windows, and was trying to open the door to my driver's seat.
I threw my keys in the ignition, threw the car in reverse, and hit the gas. Then I flipped it into drive, and while I was doing this, he got on his bike, started pedaling, and rammed it into the side of my car. My foot hit the gas pedal again, and I headed for home.
I couldn't process what had just happened to me. My heart was still going a mile a minute, my knuckles were white as they gripped the steering wheel, and my focus was entirely on getting back to my home. I reached home, and I needed an outlet--so I went to Facebook.
I posted what had just happened. The first thing friends said was, "Did you call the police?"
Oh, those guys...I forgot they existed.
Did you push the red panic button on your key fob?
Oh, that thing--that's what that is for...
People gave me all sorts of very sound advice that would've been helpful if my brain hadn't completely shut down after all that had just happened.
The good news? I got a lot smarter after that little episode. OH! And I didn't get raped!!! YAY ME!!! The bad news, he never got caught because I didn't report it to the police in time.
Being a single woman in L.A.is no joke.
WELCOME TO CALIFORNIA, BLONDIE!!!
I took off from the Long Beach Airport, and headed up to Torrance, CA. I had never seen the hospital that I was transferring to, except in pictures. As a matter of fact, I had never heard of Torrance, California.
I had been living in Wasilla, Alaska for the past two years. In 2013, I moved to Wasilla to work in Anchorage, Alaska. That was the year that labor and delivery nursing became super unreliable, I was on call, nearly every week, and marijuana became legal in Colorado. After 6 months of watching my bank account hemorrhage, and watching the influx of people to CO who were interested in living life in "greener pastures", I was forced to make a huge decision about my family, and career.
When pot became legal in CO it caused a mass migration of people to the state. Housing prices went through the roof. I had friends bidding on houses and having to go 30-100K over asking price to win bidding wars. All housing went through the roof.
I have 4 kiddos--two of which are out on their own, but I have my twin teenagers, and that requires space to live, and breathing room. When I left CO, I was in a beautiful 4-bedroom, 3 bath house. That same house now rents for $800 more per month than what I was paying. It went up $800 in one year; and nursing wages in Colorado did not increase to compensate. I was going to be forced to downsize my world to shoebox magnitude, and living with two teenage wolverines living on top of one another, and constantly at one another's jugulars did not sound appealing. I made the decision to start looking for work in other states.
I had nursing licenses in both Alaska, and California. I decided to place applications in both states--both of which have some of the highest nursing wages in the United States. Alaska called me immediately, and with an amazing relocation offer, and sign-on bonus, so north I went (and I signed a two-year agreement that I would stay for a minimum of 2 years because of the relocation and bonus).
My ex-husband was very understanding, and so were the kids. We were not going to uproot the kids just because my work was less than ideal. They would stay with him in Lakewood, CO, and I would start traveling home as often as possible, and the twins would come my way as often as possible.
The Alaskan struggle was real. I spent that first year in a lot of tears. I missed my home. The twins were up in Alaska for holidays, and spent the summer in Alaska with me. That part of things was fun, and was a great experience for them. Most people only dream of seeing Alaska in a lifetime. My kids had the chance to live it.
The second year in Alaska went a little better for me. I made some great friends at work, and out hiking, etc. I made some great memories in Alaska during the second year I was there. However, work had kind of gone south. Management on my unit had changed, and new practices and people had been implemented, and placed in positions that made work a pretty miserable place to be. There was a lot of power tripping from the charge staff, and higher ups, and I no longer wanted any part of it. It was sad to see, because it literally divided a unit that used to be fun to work for--but it was no longer. A lot of my coworkers were unhappy. I was unhappy. By the time I got out, I felt like I was one of the lucky ones who got a life raft and escaped from a sinking ship.
I was also traveling a lot to see my family--as often as every three weeks. The flights out of Alaska are always overnight down to Denver. I was at the point where I was literally either working, or flying to Denver. It was hard on me. It was worth it, but difficult.
One night I was out on the OB Triage unit in Alaska. There were no patients. I was trying to figure out what direction to take next. My two year contract was getting close to ending, so I got on the intranet at work, called up all of the hospitals within my hospital system, and chose Torrance, CA.
Torrance, CA, is located in L.A. County. However, it is the southernmost point of L.A. County--called South Bay. It is close to the beach, and in some cases, right on the beach. The average annual temperature is 72F. This is the area that is known for smog-free, clean beaches, and is one of the safest areas in the L.A. area (minus my friend in the parking garage). Torrance is a predominantly Asian, and very affluent community. There are a lot of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese in the area.
I started work at my new hospital, and it was good. It was different, but good. Every labor and delivery unit operates differently, so you have to be able to adjust. There were some really good things about the hospital, and some things it took some time to get used to.
I have now been at my job here in Torrance for one year. It has been good. Work is not as reliable as it was in Alaska, but I have to say, I LOVE MY COWORKERS!!!!! I work on one of the most cohesive units I have ever worked on. We all have such different backgrounds, but we all get along, there is no power tripping, and everyone has one another's backs. IT. IS. AWESOME.
The one thing I'm not such a huge fan of in Cali is my doctor friends. They are super hit-or-miss. I either love them or I hate them, and that can change on any given day. You have to take the good with the bad, though, and I'll take amazing coworkers over well-behaved doctors any day of the week. I want to be able to enjoy working around the people I spend the most time with, and I have found those people here in Cali.
HOUSING IN CALI
I had flown down from Alaska to California last July to find housing. Originally, I was going to rent "sight unseen", and roll the dice. My friend in Alaska, who was from San Diego, highly discouraged this. She said, "You can be in a nice neighborhood, and go two blocks, and hear gunshots." Awesome. That sounds fabulous. Sounds a lot like Alaska, only people were out shooting fuzzy beasts, or inanimate objects with riffles.
Off to Cali I went. I made a quick 3-day trip to South Bay, L.A. I stayed at the beautiful Portofino Inn and Suites that is right on the water in Redondo Beach.
I arrived a little early--before I could check in. The girl at the front desk was SO nice! I told her that I was in town to look for housing, and that I would be moving here, and working at the local hospital. She asked what unit I worked on. I told her labor and delivery. She told me that she had just had a baby at my soon-to-be hospital, that it was the most amazing experience, the staff was wonderful, and then she upgraded my room to one of the best, and RIGHT ON THE WATER! She also gave me a discount to the local restaurant so I could go have a glass of wine, and appetizers while I waited to check in.I was so happy to hear that she had a good experience there, because these were my new people!!!
I finally checked in. I had the BEST room. The sliding door in the room opened onto the deck, and right off the deck was the waterway for the boats to the marina. I saw every size boat pass through, and off in the distance was a wooden platform that was COVERED in sea lions. Their barks were so loud, but it was so fun to hear them. As a matter of fact, the hotel decor is inspired by them.
I wish my housing search had been as successful. I had a list of places I wanted to see when I arrived, but housing supply and demand is crazy in South Bay. The moment something hits the market, it's gone. I made multiple phone calls, and received only a few in return. One in particular was the most welcome.
I had contacted the gal I am renting from while I was in Alaska. I told her I was flying down to look at housing, and only had a 3-day window in which to do so. She called me when I got to town. She was the ONLY person who called me when I got to town.
I knew I would be downsizing moving to CA. Everything is smaller in Cali, and more expensive. I had a budget I wanted to stick to. There were things I desired--a second room for the twins when they were out, a pool, and A REFRIGERATOR!!! I don't know what is up with rentals here, but NONE OF THEM HAD REFRIGERATORS!!! It was so weird. The last thing I wanted to buy, and haul around with me was a fridge.
I went to see the place in Torrance. It was 2 (good size) bedrooms, a pool, and a FRIDGE!!! It truly is the little things in life sometimes. It was better than anything I had looked at. Some places were so small that I don't even think I could've fit my couch in the living room.
This place is a gated community. It has gated parking. It's still smaller than anywhere I've lived since 1996. However, I have the pool right off my balcony, I'm 15 minutes from the beach, there are upgrades throughout (granite, etc.), and I didn't have to buy any appliances. AND...I'm only 4 miles from work! I spent two years in Wasilla, Alaska, commuting 1.5 hours to work each day. It is SO nice to get the extra sleep, and not spend much time in my car!
Speaking of cars--mine finally arrived from Alaska!!! The surf mobile had made it to Cali!
The twins flew out to California for their thirteenth birthday last September. We spent some time at the beach. They got a new surfboard. Then they found out how different it is to surf Cali.
We had only ever surfed Hanalei Bay in Kauai. Granted, we go on family surf trips nearly annually, but the waves in Hanalei Bay are very different. The beach here often times has an impact zone that is harder to get past, and the waves can literally be one right on top of the other--so it's easy to get pounded. Regardless, they started to adapt, and it was a ton of fun.
I started flying back to CO every couple of weeks to be with them. I was back for Thanksgiving, too. We had a great time with family during that time. We also found out that ex-hubs and his beautiful wife were expecting a new baby in May.
Thanksgiving 2015, Lakewood, CO
Then came Christmas. I flew home in December for Chloe's figure skating performance. She brought down the house. I was so proud of her. That was also my fist time bedazzling a figure skating outfit. I was pretty proud of myself. Click the link below to see a clip from her show.
We spent some fun days in Colorado prior to Christmas, including decorating big sister Paige's house for the holidays. Paige crochets, and the Santa hat (on Emma) was the favorite this past holiday season.
The twins then flew out to Cali for the rest of Christmas break. I had to work Christmas, so they were able to spend that with their dad, and we had a late Christmas here in CA. Part of their Christmas present--season passes to Disneyland.
We spent some fun days at Disneyland over the Christmas holiday. It was so much fun to see the parks decorated for Christmas. Disneyland continues to be a favorite of ours. They were back out for spring break, and also this summer, and we were either surfing, or at Disneyland during those days. Every once in a while we break it up with a day at the pool.
Chloe (LoLo) at the beach in Cali.
Twin mermaids and the water.
January came, and with it came me landing back in the hospital. I had a few episodes when I was in Colorado where I had some crushing abdominal pain. Some of you know I've had pretty extensive GI surgery. Well, the fun wasn't over yet, apparently.
I had 4 days off of work. I went running at the beach. After, I had gone out to one of my favorite restaurants, and I had a grilled chicken salad. I had also ordered a side of onion rings (I like to eat a couple--just to be a little naughty). While I was eating, I started hurting. Pain started in my right side, and radiated to my back. It was indescribable. Because of the GI surgery I've had, I had though it might be a paralytic ileus, or maybe an obstruction in my upper GI tract of some sort. Why I didn't think gallbladder, I have no idea. It was such the obvious winner.
I ended up going through two surgeries. I had stones that were so bad that they had gotten into my common bile duct, completely obstructed that, and gave me rebound pancreatitis. They had to do one surgery to clear the bile duct, and another for the cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) Fun times.
Because I am a nurse, I don't go to the ER unless I am dying. I fought going to the hospital. I went 4 days without eating, and stayed on clear fluids in an effort to flush out my system. I had to go back to work, so I finally had to eat something--and it about killed me. I drove myself to the ER in tears, and was then in the hospital for the next 2.5 days. The GI doc told me that gallstones were one of the common risk factors of the original GI surgery that I had back in 2009. I was pissed, and asked him if there was anything else inside of me that I didn't really need that he could take out while he was at it--we might as well clean house, right?
I had two weeks off of work to recover (and I was compliant, and took time to heal). I was supposed to work Super Bowl weekend, but got out of it due to my organ removal. I had a good excuse. Even though I am a Philadelphia Eagles fan, it was fun to watch the Denver Broncos win the Super Bowl.
The twins came out to Cali during two different weeks for spring break, and only shared one common weekend with me. Chloe decided mid-year to finish junior high at Notre Dame Catholic School. I think she was tired of the drama, and needed a change of scenery. It was, however, the start of my twins not attending school together anymore. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but even next month, the twins will be attending different highschools.
Emma has made it into the International Baccalaureate Program at Lakewood Highschool, and Chloe will attend Green Mountain. Emma has known since she was about 7 years old that she wants to be an attorney, and she wants to attend Harvard Law School. She is very focused, to the point where she's had a bad day in gym class, and calls me in tears to ask if it ruined her chances of getting into Harvard. She's so cute.
We are all hoping that she can realize her dream. Her grandfather, Garth Sr., was an internal medicine physician, and he attended Harvard, and Yale. It would be amazing if we could be a "legacy" of sorts with respect to that--GO EMMA!
Both girls continue to play softball. They are both pitchers for their competitive team, they both have varsity softball hopes at the age of 13. They are the youngest in their class because of their September birthday, but they are sports powerhouses. Both take private pitching lessons weekly, and they are incredible to watch. I've been on the receiving end of a misguided pitch to the shin (58mph; and I can honestly say--it hurt like a MoFo).
MAY 2016--WELCOME TO THE WORLD, MARGO!
May of 2016 came, and with it, a new sister for the twins. Margo Ilona Graham was born to my ex-husband, Garth, and his beautiful wife, Katha. My ex is half German, and his wife is from Germany. This is their little German babe. She is so sweet.
I coincidentally flew into Denver the day Katha went into labor. It worked out perfectly. Garth was able to spend all day with her during labor, and Margo was born that night. It has been a bit of an adjustment for the twins to have a baby sister, but like any good mother, I hope it's awesome birth control.
The end of May, and into the beginning of June brought something I could not foresee. Anyone who knows me know how much I love Hawaii. I dream about Hawaii. I want to live there one day. But something happened that was both beautiful and horrible during my trip to Hawaii. It quickly became the best and worst trip of my life.
I flew to Lihue, Kauai the end of May to be a bridesmaid for my best friend, Lindsey. Lindsey and I have been best friends for nearly 20 years. We were roommates at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and became best friends in the process. I've hated every boyfriend Lindsey ever had--until she met Ed.
Ed quickly stole my best friend's heart. He is older than she is, and she calls him her "silver fox". We always joke around that Ed is necessary when we are together because we need adult supervision. But I truly can say that he is an amazing man--and he LOVES my best friend, and she loves him. They are one of those couples who are going to make it. I can't say that about too many people these days, but these two will be alright.
Lindsey was one of my bridesmaids in 2000 when I married Garth. I could not anticipate how I would feel going into all of this wedding hoopla. It blindsided me, and I had a panic attack of sorts, and a bit of a meltdown.
There has always been drama in my past with my parents. They reluctantly attended my wedding in 2000, and it was not an experience I ever care to relive. I've only been to a couple of weddings since that time, and each time it has been very traumatic for me. This wedding was no different. I panicked, and I actually said that I didn't know if I could ever get married again. This will come into play later.
I survived, and with the help of my girl, Kelly, here, and my best friend, we all managed to hold it together, and get Lindsey married off in Poipu, Kauai. It was a beautiful backdrop for a beautiful wedding.
It was a very different trip to Kauai for me. Normally, I take my kids surfing there every year. This was the first time I was there, and staying on the north shore, AND THERE WERE NO WAVES. None. Nothing to surf. The bad news--this was depressing. The good news--it forced me to get out and explore the rest of the island. The other good news--I live in California now, and can surf whenever I want.
There were sweet sea turtles to see.
There were giant sea turtles to see.
There were deadly cliffs to be jumped off of, and swells waiting at the bottom to try to kill you again. I ended up getting caught in a swell here. I also ended up breaking my tailbone--which was super fun, especially on the 5.5 hour flight back to the Mainland.
But there was still beauty in the moment.
My tailbone was also not the only thing that came back broken from Kauai.
JUNE 2016--THE FINAL DEMISE TO THE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CUTE ALASKAN MAN
I had been reluctant to bring anything up about my ongoing on-again-off-again relationship with my boyfriend, Tristan. We were broken up around the beginning of the year, I got hospitalized with my surgeries, and he entered back into the picture at that time. I had told him I was tired of going in circles, and that I needed a commitment out of the deal--not only because I needed something I could rely on, but I am someone who needs to have that sense of security in a relationship. I remember going back and forth with banter with him. I remember all the promises he made that "things would be different this time"--that they would "finally move forward". We have a set of complicated circumstances, and for both of us to get what we need with our unique circumstances, there were going to have to be some compromises, and they were going to have to be big.
Tristan was my best friend in college. I never dated him. He always liked me, but he settled for being my best friend. This is a man who spent a lot of his time in college hanging out with me and my girlfriends at our crazy apartment. I didn't have a car up in Alaska, and he took time out to take me to the grocery store every week, and we always had friendly "dinner dates" where we would go out, just the two of us, and catch up on life.
I spent most of my college days not dating men. I was focused on school. Tristan was a mechanical engineering major. Math wasn't my strongest subject, but he always helped me through it, and it WAS one of his strongest subjects. There were many nights spent crunching numbers with him around my dining room table at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
We hung out together, went hiking together. We spent a lot of time together in college. I'm not sure why we never ended up dating back then. Not sure where my line of logic was with that. I think I was such a strong personality, and he was so quiet, and kind, and loving--I worried I would crush him, and damage him beyond all recognition.
In 1999 I started dating Garth. In 2000, I married him. Tristan was happy for me, but disappointed at the same time. But he was still there for me--and he even DJ'd at my wedding.
I saw my best friends (Lindsey and Rhonda) in Fairbanks, Alaska in 2006. Tristan was there for part of that. He had his life at that time. He finished his Masters Degree at UAF, had been working in Portland for a while, and then moved up to Alaska and took over the robotics program in the engineering department at UAF.
I went back home to Colorado, In May of 2008, my husband and I separated. By December 2008, the divorce was final. In January 2009, I decided that I wasn't going to close that door on Tristan anymore, and we started dating.
I don't think I could've anticipated this relationship. If I could have, I'm not sure I would've gone forward with it. In the end, friends should maybe just stay friends, because if they don't, sometimes the friendship dies and burns up with the relationship.
I know people are probably tired of the Tristan and Whitney saga, but I can guarantee you one thing--you are not nearly as tired as I am, Not to mention broken. As painful as it has perhaps been to watch, it has been exponentially more painful to go through. It may be a self-inflicted wound that you all shake your heads at, but it was a journey.
It is because of our unique friendship and history that things have not been easy to let go of. I can't tell you how many times people have said "get over it" or "move on" or "there are billions of men out there--find one less complicated!"
Although all of those things are sound advice, when you're in the middle of it, it's not that easy.
Tristan was also good friends with my best friend, Lindsey (by default, because where there was a Whitney in college, there was a Lindsey, and vice versa). I had agreed to give our relationship another chance after my surgery in January. I was still exhausted, and only partially optimistic this time--the man had 7 years to commit to me, and never could. Why would something miraculously change now?
We went to Hawaii to get Lindsey married off. From the start, it was a trip we had looked forward to. It would be our first time to Hawaii since 2010 that we had a trip that was just the two of us. The years that preceded that were all surf trips with the kids. We arrived in Lihue on May 26th, 2016, and we headed up to the condo on the North Shore in Princeville.
The trip was strange. Something was off. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I had a sixth sense that something was going on. We were both fairly distant the whole time. We were able to get through the wedding. He saw my struggle with my post-traumatic wedding disorder that I suffer from, and he became even more distant.
The trip was not fun--except for the part with Lindsey. As a matter of fact, I didn't know I could enjoy a trip to Hawaii less. But it happened.
I still couldn't put my finger on what was going on, but something was definitely up. We arrived back home (me in Cali and him in Alaska). A few phone calls and text messages later, it was all over. He told me he was ready to move on.
He then contacted me a couple of months later via email. He told me he had started seeing someone when he got home to Palmer, Alaska, and pretty much right after his return home. What I came to find out was that we weren't the only two people on that trip to Hawaii--we had a text messaging guest who was quite disappointed that he was in Hawaii with his girlfriend.
I've had some conversations with Tristan since then--and they have been some of the hardest conversations I've had in my life. There have been a lot of tears. There's feelings there that I won't ever be able to erase. I spent the vast majority of the 7.5 years in a long distance relationship with this man which included many trips between multiple states, and never had such a sinking feeling come in and taint my relationship as I did with his new girlfriend.
Tristan told me that he figured if we hadn't figured out a way to move forward by the time we got home from Hawaii that he was determined to move on. There was never a time that he even brought up the subject in Hawaii, and I'm sure my wedding meltdown and insecurities did not help, but the truth was, he already had one flip flop out the door, and pointed back to what would soon become his new future of uber domesticated bliss in Palmer, Alaska--and I would be in California, and there would be nothing to do but listen to him tell me the details of how it all materialized.
I had time to process things, look back on conversations, and try to take into consideration the "spin" he put on things in order to justify the suspicious timeline of events, and to justify things. However, if it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, it must be a fucking duck. I can't wrap my head around putting unilateral, undefined parameters on a 7.5 year relationship without telling the other person your intentions (the..."Oh, BTW, if you don't figure all of this out in Hawaii by yourself, we're done"). Not once did he mention that Hawaii was the trip that would declare the outcome of our relationship--but then again, he was already a little distracted.
I wish there hadn't been 7.5 years lost in the process. I wish that I still had a best friend, and not ill feelings toward someone that I used to have multiple feelings for. I wish I didn't feel the way I do about someone I thought was sweet, and kind, and loving. This was not the fairytale ending I wanted.
RANDOM TAYLOR SWIFT MOMENT
I liken my blog to how Taylor Swift writes songs. She dates men, and then the men of her successful/failed relationships end up the subject of her new music. If you don't want to end up on my blog, don't date me. Or if you do date me, make sure you do it properly so you don't end up in a predicament on my blog. Just sayin'.
CLEAN UP SOUTH BAY: A PROJECT THAT IS NEAR AND DEAR TO MY SURFER/EARTH LOVING HEART
I took on a project in the recent months. I started an independent cleanup project inspired by the World Surf League, Columbia University, and Lamont Earth. The cause? Clean up our world so we can keep our oceans clean. As a surfer, mermaid, and ocean lover, I have so much respect for our oceans, and the beauty therein. It is such a high to be able to get into the waves, and experience, what I consider to be, another world. The ocean and the earth have a symbiotic relationship, The more we trash our oceans, the more we are harming ourselves.
I hike the cliffs at Palos Verdes, often. There are tide pools down there.There is some amazing Waikiki-esque surfing in the cove (nice rolling waves that are widely spaced apart, and you can catch super long rides if you can man-up to the lengthy paddle out. The cove has many areas where people hike down, and have bonfires. All of that is awesome--until they don't clean up their garbage.
This picture shows an entangled lobster that I found on one of my cleanup days. The lobster had gone in the bag for food, and could not get back out. It became part of the trash that I hauled back out of the cove that day.
I go to the cove a couple of times per month now--not to hike, but to clean it up. I clean up trash, old food, beer cans, bottles, broken glass, fishing line, clothing, fishing tackle, buckets, barrels, boxes--you name it, people crap up the beach with it. It is truly heartbreaking.
There was a fire pit that was filled over 3.5 feet high with GARBAGE. There were people fishing off the rocks. Kids running around with sticks who were playing on the rocks. They kept coming over by the fire pit, but the smell was so bad, and their mothers kept yelling at them to stay away from it.
I took trash bags out of my backpack. I had gloves on. I started taking each piece of trash out of the pit. I didn't stop until it was empty. The smell was horrible (but I'm a nurse, so I'm used to some stuff). I ended up loading up two 13 gallon trash bags from the fire pit alone. As soon as I finished, I started hiking the trash back up the back up the cliffs. When I came back down to go to the next rock section of the cove, those same kids were still running around with sticks, only this time, they were pretending to roast marshmallows at the fire pit--and the moms were OK with it. They were allowed to play.
The picture above has my most recent "haul" from the cove. I hauled all of this garbage back up the cliffs, and to a spot where trash is collected by L.A. County. While I was collecting it, an older couple (in their 70s) was hiking the rocks by the shore where I happened to be cleaning. They came up to me, and talked about how frustrating it was that people trash the cove. They said there have been times they go for walks there, and they can't get past the bottles, and garbage to enjoy the beauty. Then, they thanked me.
As I was hiking around the area collecting trash that they were still in, the gentleman started grabbing trash, and drink cups, and all sorts of other trash. Then he brought an armload over to me, placed it in my trash bag, and said, "Thanks, kid. This really means a lot."
THIS WAS THE MOMENT--THIS IS WHAT I WANTED. This is where you show others how easy, and rewarding it is to do the same thing--and you INSPIRE people. It is PRICELESS.
CALIFORNIA FAMILY PERKS
I was born in California. My parents moved away from Cali when I was a month or two old. Most of my family resides in California. I have not been in touch with them since I was a child, but it is a fact.
My sister has also been bit by the Cali bug. She is also a nurse, and told her boyfriend in Colorado this year that she needed to start "wintering" in Cali. She came out for a 13-week travel nurse assignment, and was in San Diego. During that time, we were able to meet up for drinks and apps in Orange County, and little while longer, we spent a day together at Disneyland (which we both are in LOVE with).
I love this girl. We have also had a love/hate relationship since we were kids, but the older I get, I don't know how I function as well as I do without her. I love her sass. I love her perspective. I am an emotionally charged person, and she grounds me. She reels me back in when the emotions shoot out like a torpedo. She benefits from me, too. She has the Vulcan gene. She take exorbitant amounts of times to process emotions, and periodically I am the light that goes off, or acts like her trigger. We are a good balance for one another.
It was so good to see her in Cali. She also plans to come back this winter. One of my favorite things she said to me while we were waiting in line at Disneyland was, "Why did mom and dad ever move from here? Can't they see that we belong here?!" LOL! She is right.
My sis is pictured here with my nephew who just got out of Army bootcamp. Our poor sons are often mistaken for our spouses. Sorry boys. We love you--just not in a creepy way. Thanks for putting up with us!!!! XOXO
My original reason for moving to California was to be closer to my family, yet financially stable enough to be able to provide "the best of both worlds" for them. It just so happened to be that one of the states that actually pays their nurses what they are worth, also borders the Pacific Ocean.
Moving here has been pretty incredible. Although I live in an affluent area, I also live in a beach town. I can go to the grocery store with no makeup on, in a bikini with a cover up thrown over, flip flops, surf hair, and whatever else I want--and I still fit in.
Don't get me wrong, I love getting all "girled" up. However, I also love my beach downtime, and my fresh face, and my surf hair.
See this crazy beach hair??? This is now a big part of my life. ;)
I have enjoyed the challenge of learning to surf in California. My kids have also learned that this isn't as easy as some of the "easy roller" waves in Kauai--you can't BS your way through them. But the twins have both powered through, continued to persevere, and learn to enjoy, and get better at surfing in Cali.
When we aren't laughing, and playing in the waves, we are just truly enjoying life, and one another. I am so thankful to the sport of surfing, and for the family bond it has created between me and my girls. We are ridiculous. Sometimes we get tossed, or look completely stupid, but it is the epitome of true love--all the way around.
I gave the twins the option of going to Disneyland recently, or going surfing. They both yelled, "SURFING!!!" They are being raised correctly. ;)
Surfing is my love. It brings love, fun, and so much to my life. Hopefully someday I'll be better at it. Until then--I'll just keep chargin'!!!!
We have a weird family. We are not conventional. There's nothing typical, or standard, or super domesticated about us. It's a giant cluster of crazy that somehow fits together--like a giant jigsaw puzzle.
The one thing we all have is LOVE, and FORGIVENESS, and SUPPORT. Granted, since we are atypical, people who see us from the outside might think that we are crazy, which is OK. Then we fit in well with the rest of the world. The only time crazy becomes a problem is when it doesn't function. However, crazy is our baseline, so we are thriving.
We love each other.
(Me with my son, Beau)
We cheese it up.
(Me with my daughter, Emma)
We think very highly of ourselves.
(Me with my daughter, Paige)
We consider it a team effort to look ridiculous.
(Me with Em, and Paiger)
I have 4 years until my babes go to college. I want to spend as much time as possible with them before they get there.
I am also moving to Hawaii. I have decided that after the twins graduate, and move on, that I am moving on, too. I am going to stay focused, and make it happen. There will be nothing in my way (which is why dating seems stupid at this point).
All each one of us can do each day is breathe, process, pray, breathe some more, and pray.
I look forward to the next year here in Cali. Sorry this blog is SO FRICKIN' LONG!!!! But I've been a bad blogger for a while. I'll try to break it up over the next year.
:) CHEERS. :)