Friday, December 19, 2014

NRU mishy and mashy

I love the image of this protest -- lawyers and law students, in suits, having a die-in, in the rain.  Only in LA?  Not sure, but I applaud whoever is staging these mini-protests, expanding the concept of who is protesting using a badge as an excuse for killing.

This is a powerful series ... sometimes it takes me a bit to get through an article, though, because it can be wrenching.  It will (should) make you question all of your purchasing choices.
" Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, bought produce directly or through middlemen from at least three of those farms [of the five that LATimes visited where wages are withheld from the workers], The Times found. " [my insertions for clarification]
It is another shining example of real journalism ... that is a journalist doing the research, crafting the writing and standing by the reporting.  The gorgeous photography comes from the photojournalist who also traveled in Mexico:
" During The Times' 18-month investigation, a reporter and a photographer traveled across nine Mexican states, observing conditions at farm labor camps and interviewing hundreds of workers. "
It is not repackaged, police blotter crap ... I think that the internet should facilitate the spread of this work rather than the spread of the cheap knock offs... but then again, I have lots of thoughts about the internet.

My favorite stretch of the PCH, and my favorite beach, are closed until the first of next year ... maybe longer, depending on how much more rain we get.  Here are some photos ... we need the rain, but it can also be destructive. 

The gloves are off ... or on ... how does that expression go? Anyway, the President, my President, is letting Congress know just how he feels about another Latino issue.  And, of course, the Republicans are wailing and railing... I can't wait to hear what Jon Stewart has to say.  Remember when I watched Meet the Press and This Week? Yeah, now the only political commentary I can stomach is Jon and Co.  I approve of this action ... and I think Barry should go ahead and piss off as many Republicans and Democrats, too, that he can ... if not now, when?!  As those senators and congresspeople try to sack this quarterback, at some point the voters are going to have to notice that one branch of the government is trying to move the ball down the line, right?!

I have no words for this one, except it dislodged some tears that have been meaning to fall.

Alas, Serial has come to the end of the first season ... here is a lovely wrap up/appreciation (with spoilers - so don't say I didn't warn you).  I eagerly await updates and season two -- what story will Sarah bring??

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Rainy Days Poetry Thursday

The pretty Rain from those sweet Eaves
Her unintending Eyes —
Took her own Heart, including ours,
By innocent Surprise —

The wrestle in her simple Throat
To hold the feeling down
That vanquished her — defeated Feat —
Was Fervor's sudden Crown —
Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Skies leaking

...or at least threatening.
Obviously taken while driving ... in real life, it was stunning...
In unrelated news, I have been spending too much time at the cemetery. 
Grave walking ... waiting for a funeral to start...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The sky last night

We were waiting for rain, again.
This is what I saw when I got to my office yesterday afternoon. By 8pm, it was pouring. And my dad was plotting what he would do with buckets of water he hoped to collect. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

NRU mostly education

There is so much "information" floating around about "college" and "loans." Yes all of these words are purposefully in quotation marks because of the lack of definition applied to reporting on these issues.  And, then, I opened a piece in the education section of the NY Times, warily, and within two paragraphs, I was ready to share it.  There are dangers out there about loans ... but they apply to specific situations ... and we should definitely educate students preparing for college about these situations.  It is part of a much larger conversation I have had here about why we need to be careful not to either too quickly defend or damn college for all. 

For all those who do not understand why Black folks (and folks of many other colors) are disturbed by the Ferguson and Staten Island grand juries' decisions, here is something for you to ponder. We live in a country where the so-called justice system routinely metes out punishments soley or inordinately based on race, saving compassion and empathy for white perpetrators.  And, this starts very early, in school.  This is not new, and it will never go away if we are unwilling to admit to it and face it.  And mass demonstrations may not be the most effective measure, but if they move anyone to contemplate, consider or research, then it is worth it.

People frequently ask how algebra or geometry are part of real life -- in an attempt to say that we should not require math for all students, or at least not that much math.  I am not a math fan.  I happily got out of math as often as possible.  However, I understand that math is not only an integral part of life, that it can help us to solve problems, large and small.  This article about how game theory helped the high school application process in New York amplifies this argument. And it is fascinating and fun ... I said that -- about MATH!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Abundance and 12-13-14, long and winding

 It is remarkable the incredible abundance we live in yet feel we are in constant scarcity.

Scarcity was on my nephew's "spelling" list this week -- I hope it was really called a vocabulary list, but I am not sure if it was.  He had an assignment but had not brought the list with the definitions.  So, I was making up sentences for him with each word, reaching for other vocabulary that would give them the right context clues.

I noted that abundance was not on his list ... we are quick to teach scarcity, but seldom remember to demonstrate it through its opposite.

-----------

Yesterday I was malenting quietly to myself while I was not writing my paper, and my phone rang.

A good friend is in terrible straits due to a break up -- one of those long, tortuous goodbyes, or maybe nots.  There are too many ugly twists and turns, but the most important piece is that it is all a horrible playing out of insecurities. 

This screams scarcity/abundance to me.

There is love (and longing) all around us ... so many people looking for love (abundance).  Unfortunately we mix up looking for love with looking for a missing piece, affirmation and validation (scarcity).

We are walking past each other with lists of qualities and characteristics and looks that are "acceptable" or "required" -- and we don't see the abundance of love seeking maybe because of our own yearning.  I don't know... and then when we get close, we muddle, obfuscate and accuse.

Are we too scared to be vulnerable or afraid to fully surrender to another?

Are we just looking for others to do something for us that we are unwilling to do for ourselves?

The other half of the couple is not supposed to make you better, lovable, or redeemable.  Love doesn't fix you or anyone else.

And true love only comes through self love and compassion.

These are truths I believe ... even though I am uncoupled.  Perhaps you could say that I have endured enough bad coupling to understand and feel (viscerally) that these statements are true.

I want to believe in love ... true love ... and in healthy couples.

Watching people tear each other (and themselves) down makes my eye twitch; but when it is someone that I love, then it makes me crazy.  As in, I want to go over there and punch him. 

Ok, really, I just want to sit him down and make him see that this is just insecurity, fear of surrender.  I just want to tell him that it is alright to be vulnerable.

I want to tell him that nothing is promised ... nothing... but that doesn't mean we should not give of ourselves with abandon.

I want to remind him about abundance... to open his eyes to it and to turn his eyes from our unfounded fears of scarcity.

There is enough love ... but we have to start with ourselves.  We have to believe in our intrinsic value -- we are enough, we are lovable, we don't need to be redeemed, validated or affirmed.  We are enough in our imperfection.  We are just right ... right now, and we might be better tomorrow, or worse, and even then we will be just right.

I am rambling, so it is a good thing that I am not going over there to tell him (I have never met him and he is another state, so it is not even a remote possibility) nothing (nuffin as my niece would say and she would mean it, too).

Really, though, it reminds me about abundance.

This provides me with perspective I have been sorely missing for several days.
----------
Today is 12-13-14... an auspicious day.  It is the end of the sequence for these years... the last of the magical numbers for awhile (the next sequence magic will come in twenty years 1-2-34).

I set a reminder for myself -- so that I could remember to think about how I could "celebrate" this special day.

I am not going to buy a lottery ticket, though I wouldn't mind winning the lottery ... and I hear you can't win if you don't play.

I thought long and hard ... a nice dinner, a day off, a walk on the beach ... all good ideas.

I decided as I struggled getting dressed (a sure sign of feeling depressed for me) that what I really need is to recommit to myself ... my meditation, my metta exercise, my belief in abundance.

Sometimes this meditation stuff kicks me in the ass really hard and it feels like a not so friendly best friend.

And sometimes, it provides just the right jump start to remember to breathe in and out... to focus on that which I can count on ... breathing in and out... and to let the other stuff pass, in its own time, in its own way. 

So...


May I acknowledge abundance.
May I allow love to flow to and from me.
May I embrace my gifts and talents.
May I feel beautiful and strong.

May I see myself with love and compassion.
May I love myself in failure and in triumph.
May I express my tender, whimsical self.
May I open to all the love around me.

These are my wishes for all beings ... but I need to start with me.
May I forgive myself when I forget ... may I remember.

Blessings to all on this very special day.

Friday, December 12, 2014

NRU, California Sights

Apparently there is a caretaker at Ormond Beach ... clearly many people know this, especially those who take Walter food and cash... but it was a fascinating gem to read about.  I am particularly enamored of his history with birding.  It is a wonderful hobby for both solitary and group enjoyment.

This is a fascinating piece on what the LA Times is calling the Latino Urbanism influencing the taming of Los Angeles' streets.  And there are some beautiful pictures included with the piece.

Here is another piece about the drought and the farming in the Central Valley.  This is my favorite quote:  "'I've seen so much stupid in my years that I can't remember all of it. But pumping the earth dry? We're killing ourselves, plain and simple.'" Just priceless.  Mr. Turner, the protagonist of this piece, is full of gems, and the journalist who captured those gems clearly enjoyed this assignment.  Here's another one, speaking of his wife who passed away in 2008:  "'She wasn't one to let people walk over her, but she could make a man look forward instead of back," he said. "I miss her.'"  I have never met Ernestine, but I miss her too!

I wanted to see if there were any reports on the funeral on Wednesday, so I checked back to the LATimes.com coverage of the unclaimed.  I found this piece I had missed on how the searchable database came to be.  I had no idea.  I thought I had just missed the database last time I read about the burial because I had read a paper copy.  I might be the only one who claimed the remains, or I might be the 100th.  But I am truly grateful to these two reporters for staying with this story.



Not sure if you can make it out, but I took this picture of the courthouse entrance (employees only at this point) because it has this inscription:
"Righteousness exalteth a people.  Solomon"


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Poetry Thursday

The sages do not consider
that making no mistakes is a blessing.
They believe, rather, that the great virtue of man
has in his ability to correct mistakes
and continually make a new man of himself.

~W. Yang-Ming

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Monie

Many years ago, about ninety, a little girl was born to my great uncle (my father's mother's brother) and my great aunt (my father's father's niece).  This was way before there was even a twinkle in my grandfather's eye as he and my grandmother had not yet met.  Several years later, when my grandfather and grandmother married and had children, that little girl would be my father's first cousin -- the only one he had on my grandmother's side though there were many, many others on his father's side.  She was his double cousin and one of his earliest playmates.

She had a hard life, and that is only the part we know about.  That is probably the understatement of the century.

Monie's mom, Dora, died in childbirth with her second child.  My great uncle Pete, a young widower who was orphaned himself at the age of 12, understood too well the pain his child would feel.  Eventually, he made his way to California with his little toddler in tow.  I am sure he loved her as best he could.  I am not sure what he remembered of his mother or father's care.

I can't say I got to know him too well.  We visited him often.  Though my father had many paternal uncles who he loved, he was especially attached to his maternal uncle.  I was afraid of Uncle Pete.  He was a quiet man who had lost an eye at some point in his life.  Everyone who knew him remembers him as a teddy bear of man.  I remember him as cautious, quiet and stoic.  I probably read stoic as stern as a child.


When he remarried in California, I am sure he thought he was doing the best thing for Monie, giving her a mother.  And maybe that woman tried, it should have been in her genes to be sweet and lovable.  (Of course, in the tangle of my family tree, she is also related by marriage to my father's paternal side -- her brother was married to my grandfather's youngest sister.)  Her brother, my tio Mariano, was one of the sweetest people I have ever known.  I loved him like a grandfather.

But she was odd, nervous, fast talking and unfailingly fake.  You just never knew what to believe about what she said, that is if you could understand it.  My Spanish was not so good at that time, there is little of her rapid-fire, mumbled Spanish that I understood.  She was my aunt, but I never really cared for her.  

By the time there was a me, there wasn't a Monie around, just her children.  I knew them, and I sort of understood that they were Uncle Pete's grandchildren.  Her daughter, Tuti, was a bit of a recluse, but I remember her as sweet and stout with long black hair in a braid.  It is odd to have such a clear memory of her since she passed away when I was three years old.  Monie's son was a handsome guy whose children were my playmates.

My mom and dad kept Monie's memory alive by always insisting on calling those two her children even though my great aunt acted like they were her children.  He still refers to my great aunt as his mom, though she was no relation to him except by marriage.

To make my family tree all that more complicated, my mom's family is implicated in this story, too.  My grandfathers had been great friends when they were alive, so my parents have known each other since they were about seven or eight (maybe earlier).  They grew up together.  When my mother's father died, my father's father took her under her wing.  When she wanted to work in the city, her family allowed her to stay at my uncle Pete's house during the week.

We visited my great aunt long after my uncle Pete was gone because my father is faithful in that way.  She sank slowly into dementia.   My dad even visited her at the rest home long after she could remember who he or anyone else was.  My mother, who knows as much as my dad about his side of the family, probably would claim that my great aunt's dementia was karma for all she had done to Monie. 

All my life, my mom has insisted that my great aunt drove Monie crazy.  I know that she spent a long time in the state hospital, and that the family lost track of her after Reagan shut down those institutions.  Those are the facts, she was sent away and never came back.  My father remembers a visit with her at my grandmother's house, but my mother swears it never happened.  I never knew Monie; if I ever met her, I don't have any memory of it.

What really happened to Monie will forever remain a mystery now.  Among the papers my father found in the garage from uncle Pete were commitment papers.  It says that she was afraid that someone was trying to hurt her.  It does not list a diagnosis, but it says that her parents called to have the police get her.  And another letter says that my uncle had to pay for her care in the institution.

My heart breaks for both of them.  I cannot imagine what my uncle went through not being able to help her, having to have her committed.  And I cannot imagine the betrayal she must have felt at being sent away.  Did she feel like an orphan again.  According to the papers, she was only 18 years old when this happened.

It is one thing to hear that she was at the state hospital, and another to read it in the commitment papers.

Maybe she really was mentally ill.  I have no idea what she was like.  Maybe it was just postpartum depression.  What did they know about such things at that time?  If she was so ill, how could they have let her out of the hospital?  Where did she go?  How did she live?  Maybe they got her on the right cocktail of meds at some point so that she could have normalcy.  Why didn't she ever come back to the family or look for her children?  Maybe she did.

My father asked me to look for her several times since I turned 18.  It hits me now that I was the same age as she was... and I had very few resources.  I didn't know how to find her case worker.  I didn't even know which agency to go to.

About six month ago, my dad asked me again to look for her.

I found a friend of his on the internet many years ago -- he had a very unique name, and the phone number and address listed for him was right.  It was a great reunion, and they continue to keep in touch.  Consequently, my dad thinks I can find anything on the internet.

I am an excellent internet sleuth, that is true.  But there are some searches that don't work.

When I sat down to look for her, with all the resources I have now from many years of family tree searching, I found her.  That is to say, I found out that she died in 2011.  We assumed that her son had buried her somewhere and not told us.  We talked about requesting a death certificate for her.  My dad wanted to know where she was buried so he could visit her.  In all the other crises and chaos, that request fell by the way side.


About a month ago, I was reading the newspaper online and I found this story.  It is not the first time I had read about the burying of the unclaimed souls.  But this time, the date struck me.  I wondered, what if R. didn't claim her body?  As I continued to read about these abandoned souls, those searching for their lost loved ones, and those who could not claim the bodies, I found the link to the searchable database.  Here was a search asking to be done. So I entered her name and sure enough, there she was.

I decided I needed to tell my dad, and see if he wanted to claim her ashes.  It was an extremely sad and uncomfortable conversation.  It was a loss we had already assimilated, or so it seemed.  In a few years of so much loss, this one had come and gone in an instant, in the quick search of the social security database. But faced with her being consigned to a mass grave with no marker than the unclaimed souls of 2011, the wound reopened -- not just of her death, but of her loss to the family as a young woman, of her pain at the separation and god knows what other horrors.

At first, my dad wondered how we could know it was really her.  I had wondered that, too, and if they would let me claim her ashes -- not a next of kin.  My dad, he seems so small when he is sad, told me to go ahead and find out how to claim her ashes.  The twists and turns of that process were not easy, but I was finally able to get it done the Monday before Thanksgiving.

Now her ashes are sitting on the altar, with the bit of ashes of my sister that my mom kept, as we decide whether to scatter them at sea, in the mountains or to buy her a burial plot.  There will be more twists and turns -- do we tell her son?  And how will we honor her memory? Does anyone have a picture of her?


Today, at 9:30am, the unclaimed souls will be buried in Los Angeles, minus Monie.  Say a prayer for them, and their loved ones, near and far, and may they all rest in peace.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The line

From the plane:
I have been thinking about blogging but not writing, anything. 

I will be back tomorrow. And maybe writing other stuff, too, finally. 

I loved this view of the mountains because it shows where the foliage changes. On one side the trees and the other only arid land. It is hard to believe that the dry side is the San Joaquin Valley where so much agriculture is grown. 

Of course, mostly what I see here are the dinos hiding from Chevron. 

Friday, December 05, 2014

Beach walk

The beach is returning a little more every week. 

Today at low tide we found starfish, mussels and crabs on the pier's pilings. 

We even found live sandollars. We watched their pelitos (it's a technical term) moving in the water. 

I picked up some beautiful stones too. 


Thursday, December 04, 2014

Poetry Thursday, for Uncle Sal

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightening they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

~Dylan Thomas 

Since my other computer made a mad dash for the junkyard, I am without many of my pics.  But I found this one.  Here is Uncle Sal looking hale.  As we prepare to say goodbye to his body, I am remembering the many times he told me how proud he was of me.  Maybe he said it to everyone, but he was one of few who always made a point to tell me.  We all need to hear those words as much as we need to hear I love you.  And Uncle Sal, human and flawed like all of us, was really good at sharing love and pride.  I hope you are driving around in heaven, eating whatever you like, riding horses and dancing a jig.  Now you are free of the body that was limiting you... and I know your spirit is soaring.



Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Hurry up and wait

After several twists and turns, I am back in SoCal but still not "home".

So it was a good thing to get to the airport early. I caught that plane that was theoretically full into the airport of my choice. I am just two hours early. 

Now I wait in the airport til the train from LA is coming down the tracks to stay out of the elements. 

Good thing I always travel with plenty of work. 

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Rain...

And wind and pretty leaves and petals on the street in Emeryville

Monday, December 01, 2014

This...

...is what is wrong with so much of what happened in Ferguson and happens in so many other cities and towns around the United States:
"I know that there are those that will say that these players are simply exercising their 1st Amendment rights," Roorda said in the statement. "Well I've got news for people who think that way, cops have 1st Amendment rights too, and we plan to exercise ours. I'd remind the NFL and their players that it is not the violent thugs burning down buildings that buy their advertiser's products. It's cops and the good people of St. Louis and other NFL towns that do."
 [You can find the rest of the article here.]

Where to start?
Let's see, the fact that the St. Louis Police Assn believes that the first amendment rights of the organization or its constituent members is more important than the first amendment rights of anyone else.

Second, that they believe that the players on the Rams are their sovereign subjects.  Has the SLPA noticed that many of those players are Black?  Does this mean that the SLPA believes that the city of St. Louise OWNS those players?  YIKES!

Third, that the SLPA believes that white, non-protesting dollars have more rights than Black, protesting dollars.

Yeah, there is so much here, but the bottom line is for all of you who do not understand what we call "white privilege" looks like, here is a textbook definition.  Anyone who believes that they can come forward to say whose rights are inherently more important, who intimates that Black athletes are the property of a city or anyone else, or that suggest that white dollars are more valuable than those spent by anyone else.

Someone should get them a media consultant.  I hope that people around the country will jump on this statement instead of trying to shame some people who were merely expressing their horror at a series of events.  Raising your hands in protest is hardly like looting ... and can we ever have a conversation about the "narrative" that the police were trying to convey when they didn't use the national guard to protect businesses after the power that be decided to wait until the evening to release the grand jury findings.

All of these actions have reactions ... all actions have reactions ... and none of these actions are blameless... none. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Pink morning

On the platform at station stop Moorpark.
I have seen a few too many 2am starry skies and sunrises in the past few days. 
Since it could not be helped I tried to at least appreciate the beauty.

NRU super mish mash

Jailing (and killing) innocent people is not only immoral, it's expensive.  Not all of those who were wrongly imprisoned will get compensated ... but the costs to society as well as to the person are undeniable.  I wish that prosecutors (and law enforcement) would learn to be as careful with all suspects as they are when the suspect is someone well-known.

If you still haven't tuned in to Serial, you should ... and I am not the only one that thinks so... apparently they are being streamed by millions.  I sure do enjoy it ... and yes, I have questions that haven't been answered yet.  But as a long-time fan of the serial drama, I enjoy the suspense and the weaving.  I am sad that it is a true story that affects the lives of real people, but I am glad that the issues about evidence, witnesses and lawyering are getting air time.  I like it so much, I even donated when asked this week.  I know... I love free things on the internet, and I haven't donated to my local NPR since I have been in graduate school. I couldn't resist.  Call it my impulse buy for the holiday season.

Just to prove that this news round up is truly mishy and mashy and not about Thanksgiving at all... here is a story about some countries banning entry to a crazy asshole who has been making money all over by claiming he can teach men how to be Don Juan rapists ... there is the side of me that thinks, wow, good for them for banning his ass; then there is the side of me that thinks, in what way is this better than talking about one of those girls whose last names start with a K?  Honestly, I say actually put the ass in jail, let him rot there and don't talk about it.  And somebody get those K girls some self respect or meds that can help them with their need to be the center of prurient attention.

I have blogged many times about Oren and his battle with lung cancer, but I thought I would share this article he was featured in last weekend to remind us to be more aware of our blessings.  May we all acknowledge abundance.

It seems like loss is all around me these days.  As I struggle to come to terms with it, I have been drawn to stories of others doing just that.  This is a bittersweet piece about a young basketball fan connecting with his idol and celebrating the mother who he lost to cancer this year.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Poetry Thursday

Might have already used this one... but I thought it was apt for Thanksgiving -- or any holiday at this point in my life.

The soul is nourished
by living and loving
without defensive armor
and by approaching death and loss
with openness, courage
and compassion.

~Froma Walsh

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Loaded for Bear and Being Nice


I have been told more than once that you can get more bees with honey than vinegar.  It’s not that I doubt that might be true for some, but it has not always worked for me, especially in the most tense situations.  Perhaps the issue is that I am not looking to attract bees, just to tame them.


Full disclosure:  I use what I call “little girl voice” whenever necessary to get what I need.  It works with those who want to “save” you – or those who are susceptible to helping.  And, to be honest, it works with those who need to be the stronger, more powerful one.  It is not exactly “baby bird” who behaves as though she were completely defenseless.  Of course, if I tried to do baby bird with anyone who already knows me, I would be laughed off the planet.  It is not a huge difference, but little girl just admits her needs, not that she needs all.

So, there I was in the second IEP with the usual suspects plus the regular teachers who had been put on notice that I wasn’t letting them off the hook.  I was nice - to a point, that is to say, nice but firm.  I wasn’t impolite – just direct, attentive and relentless.
 
I would feel bad about holding their feet to the fire if 1) the psychologist had bothered to learn my niece’s name; and 2) she had not brought the photocopy of “the law” complete with yellow highlights to back up her defense of the school district’s fuck up so many years ago.  MAYBE ... that is, maybe I would feel bad if...

Yeah, I’m not afraid to be strong and smart and if that means not nice, so be it.

Vinegar forever.

I am loaded for bear, so they are on notice.

[In case you didn't notice, these photos are largely unrelated.  I took them while walking around downtown LA, that's the only tie in.  But I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the news headlines with the evangelizing headlines!]

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Just Another Day, Commuting Adventure


Union Station, November 10th
On my way to Q’s second IEP battle, I thought I would have brunch with a friend and run some errands (more on that later) in downtown Los Angeles, traveling by train, so I also had a lot of work with me. 

As it turns out, that was a key move because at the second stop the conductor informed us that there had been “an incident.” She went on to say “if you are a regular, you know that means we’ll be here for a while.”

Incident, in this case, means someone had been struck by a train, probably due to jumping in front of it.  When the train hits something, it is a collision, but when someone/something hits the train, it’s an incident.

I was clear that it was most likely suicide that caused this delay.  However, I found myself making up stories that would make it an accident.  It is not unheard of for someone with headphones on to not hear a train coming down the track.  My new friend, Max, from Holland looked at me incredulously, but then he played along.  He suggested that it was odd that the train only sounded its horn when it was very close to a crossing.

The sign on the platform, that I got to stare at for an hour, initially reported the incident as a person hit struck by the train.  Later it was strictly referred to as “incident” perhaps in deference to the deceased. 

We waited.  Max and I chatted.  For some reason, all the folks on the train thought that I had some secret answers, and asked me what was happening, how long we might be there, etc.  People who were trying to get to the airport called a taxi.  The conductor made an announcement looking for a third person to share the taxi.  Some people called others to get picked up.  Some people changed plans and went back to their cars. 

We were stuck, first in Moorpark for an hour and then in Simi Valley for another.  No buses to take, no people to call.  The meeting I was going to wouldn’t start until 2:30pm and we would be there in plenty of time.

Max asked me if he could get a refund. I laughed.

I fretted some for the new forever family I had met on the platform in Oxnard.  They were on their way to Legoland to celebrate the adoption.  They even invited me to come along.  They seemed in good spirits as I departed the train in Los Angeles. 

I had just enough time to rush to Grand Central Market for a pastrami sandwich.  I don’t know if it was an off day for them, or if I was just not in the right mood, but it was not as tasty as the first time.

Brunch and errands would have to wait as I prepared for battle…