Monthly Archives: February 2010

thoughts: being californian

today I was mistaken for a true, blue californian.  in all my pale minnesotan glory, the man trying to sign up voters at the farmers’ market was taken aback when I said, “sorry, I’m not a california resident.”  and he said, “well, you sure look like a california girl.”

I vividly remember the first time I was mistaken for a real new yorker.  someone asked me for directions on the subway platform.  I’d finally mastered the non-tourist swagger.  I got the same thrill from this man’s comment.  and it’s probably as close to the nyc experience as I’ll get seeing as the metro subway is quite a secret in la.

maybe it’s the blonde thing that fooled him?  but I have the real blonde thing going on, not the la bottle blonde.  these are minnesota roots, thank you very much.  however, I have come up with a short list of things that will make you fit right in with the fake blondes, muscle beach men, yoga junkies, health nuts, and hollywood party animals.

step 1.  wear sunglasses.  always.  inside, outside, day or night.  sunny, cloudy, or raining.  wear sunglasses.  (big ones are particularly effective.)

step 2.  in the winter months, regardless of actual temperatures, wear a parka.  and snow boots.  you never know when the great blizzard of la may hit.  it was 70 yesterday, but at the park I encountered many people wearing puffy down jackets and clunky boots.  why?  because they’re californians.  and apparently real californians create their own winter.

step 3.  appear unaffected by celebrity sightings.  today I saw curtis stone at the farmers’ market.  of course, I was dying to walk up to him and say, “can I take you home?!”  (if you’ve never seen his show, take home chef, that line would seem very forward.)  instead I very cooly walked past him.  4 times.

step 4.  your car is your second home.  keep it clean, treat it well, and drive it fast.

step 5.  BYOB.  bring your own bags to the farmers’ market.  in fact, bring them everywhere.  extra points for you if you fill them with local, organic produce.

step 6.  appear unfazed by earthquakes.  “oh, it’s just another one of those times…” WHEN THE EARTH MOVES.  as you can tell, I have not yet mastered this step.

of course, after playing it cool with my shades on, sans parka, canvas bags in hand, not worrying about earthquakes at the market, I’m sitting here wishing I’d asked for a picture with curtis.  you better believe if I’d seen him in mn, I’d have a photo to show for it.  and I would have had a good reason to be wearing a parka.


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thoughts: minnesota nice?

today while looking for a parking spot at the library, I overheard a couple of pedestrians through my open car window:

“that car is from minnesota!  wouldn’t it be crazy if I knew that person?”

he looks at me as I drive by, and says:

“oh thank god I don’t!”


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thoughts: oh I took the four-oh-five

oh yes I did.  to the airport.  AND back.  you can tell it’s been an eventful week when I’m talking about my traffic routes.  in honor of a very special lady, and thanks to the handy traffic tracker sigalert, I successfully made it to the airport on the 405 in the amount of time that google maps actually predicts.  amazing.

my college roommate was in town for a med school interview.  having not seen her in a year prompted many “I can’t believe you’re in my car,” “I can’t believe you’re in my kitchen,” and so on and so forth.  she wanted the official car tour, which included the ocean, the smog, playa del mar, marina del ray, venice, santa monica, shops, dining areas, whole foods, a d-list celebrity sighting, tsunami evacuation routes, and short lesson on earthquake survival.  (you may know that I’m of the “prepare for the worst” mindset.)

we talked about our families, life, work, school, food, yoga, health, etc.  chels commented that our conversation over wine and appetizers felt like one of our many college study breaks (probably minus the wine when we were truly studying).  and we asked ourselves, “did we really graduate from college?”  sometimes it seems like a moment frozen in time.  so many hours spent at a desk, reading, remembering, sometimes to only later forget.  so many tests, papers, and presentations, now long gone or archived as digital code on a hard drive.

we survived a mouse (well, more than one).  I was terrified of it, but to chels it may as well have been an ant.  I found it necessary to report each sighting to her, even when she was studying abroad in spain.  because, of course, that’s what she should be caring about.  our tiny kitchen produced many tasty meals and a few smoke alarms.  my mom bought us wine glasses at ikea, primarily because she needed a glass of wine after moving up all of those stairs, and chels had broken almost all of them by the time we left.  I’ve always needed fairly frequent study breaks, and chels was always there to let me crash on her bed and complain, when she probably should have been the one complaining about me constantly distracting her from her own studies.

simmons gave me 4 years of school and a degree, but chels was the one who made it fun.  when we aced our first organic chemistry tests freshmen year after endless hours of studying, we looked at each other and said, “we better keep studying together!”  and I’m so glad that we did.  (and I’m especially glad that she took care of all the mice.)

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thoughts: broken heart

I broke my own heart on valentine’s day.  yes, I did.

burton w. chace park has been on my to do list since june.  if you’ve seen any national weather reports lately, you’d know that “it never rains in southern california” is a blatant lie.  this weekend we finally got a break from all the rain, which was the perfect reason to spend the day in a park.  (it was also the perfect reason to compete in and WIN the los angeles amazing race, but that’s another story all together.)

what I haven’t told you about chace park is that it’s situated on a point, surrounded by marinas.  marinas filled with beautiful boats.  if you know anything about me, you probably know that my family was deeply entranced by boating for many years.  the “sara smile” was our getaway, our pride and joy, our escape.  some of the best times we’ve had as a family were spent aboard our moving cabin.  but we didn’t just have the boat.  we had the boating shoes, the nautical outfits, the gadgets, the doggy life vests, and even the maritime-themed dishes in the galley.  when schedules got too busy and river gas prices went through the roof, sara smile was sold.  away at college when the transaction was completed, I cried in my dorm room.

in retrospect, we all understand that despite our heartache, the timing was right.  soon after we exited the boating world, boats followed the same course as houses and other markets as the economy turned downward.  it was practically sound.  and anyone who knows my dad knows he’s a practical man.  (aside from certain home shopping gadgets and kmart christmas lawn ornaments.)

despite no longer having the actual boat, we’re all still boaters at heart.  (cheesy, I know.)  for this reason, we all still enjoy admiring boats, reading boating magazines, and planning for our next boat.  as such, I figured nothing could be better than watching boats pass through the harbor into the marinas on a sunny valentine’s day.  I watched them pass, accurately naming the make, model, and even size of many of the passing powerboats.  and my heart ached.  it felt like looking at your home, but not being allowed inside.  not unlike driving past a childhood house that you know has new owners and new insides, but in your mind is still your own.  just the way you left it.  containing the memories of your past.

because as much as we loved the boat itself, and as much as we longed for the bigger, better boat, it was really nothing more than memories.  a vessel (pun intended) to bring us closer.  yes, the passing boats in chace park broke my heart.  but the memories put it back together.

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reads: HeLa

In college biology we often worked with HeLa cells.  Amazingly, these cells originated in a woman who had long since passed away and never knew of the magnitude of her impact on science worldwide.  I was fortunate enough to have a professor who taught us a bit of her history.  Now her whole story is being told in a new book:

A Woman’s Undying Gift to Science

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photo: survivor

I got these flowers from the farmers’ market about a week ago.  However, after only a couple days, all but one of the flowers sadly folded down.  I thought about throwing them out, but oddly they were still alive, albeit their limp appearance.  So until yesterday they stayed put, an odd piece of art and nature.

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