Archive for the ‘my life’ Category

We Got a Tesla!

Yesterday, C came home with the most epic new toy ever.

A new Tesla model S!!


Now, if you haven’t heard of a Tesla before, they are a new motor company that makes electric cars. Tesla Motors is owned by Elon Musk, the guy that is going to put people on Mars with his other endeavor, Space X. He truly is a visionary, and C has a bit of an intellectual crush on him.
When it comes to Tesla, they’ve finally made electric cars sexy. Let’s be honest, the Prius is ugly. The Leaf and the Volt are just geeky looking. In order for cars that run on alternative fuel to really be popular, I think they need to be sexy. And C’s new car is definitely sexy.
They’re also not cheap; it is a luxury car and not a typical family sedan, although it is incredibly spacious inside. This is definitely C’s “I worked my ass off in med school  residency, and fellowship, and now that I have a position that pays well, I am going to have my dream car” vehicle. He had to pay a bit of money to get on a wait list for it last year even, and this is the first year of production for this car.
Everything is customizable and the center console is a touch screen computer. Since there no engine, there is a front trunk (I call it the “frunk”) and a huge back trunk.
The “frunk”

The trunk.
I am still a little afraid of driving his baby, but cruising down PCH in the passenger seat is amazing. It has a thrillingly fast and smooth acceleration, and C got Active Air Suspension included, which makes the ride feel incredibly luxurious. 
What’s even better is that we are having solar panels installed on the roof, and since C works nights, his car will mainly charge during the day, completely on California sunshine! I am telling you, being environmentally responsible and conscientious IS sexy!

Sorry I’m Not Sorry vol. 2

I’ve been in a pretty sassy mood today, which means that it is the perfect time for another edition of:

1. Sorry I’m not sorry for judging girls who wear Uggs. I will admit, I had a pair, back when I was in college. In 2003. When I was rocking the whole “beach bum” (emphasis on bum) look. People told me then that they were hideous, and they were right.

That was 10 years ago. If you are still wearing them today, you truly have no excuse. You look stupid, especially if you wear them with shorts or a skirt. They make your legs look fat even. Don’t tell me they are comfy, because so are house slippers. Just stop.

2. Sorry I’m not sorry for polishing off that bottle of wine on a week night. It was delicious and I needed that.

3. Sorry I’m not sorry for cursing my Fed Ex delivery man this morning. He was long gone and didn’t hear me, but I wish he had.

He was not as nice as the guy in this picture seems. 
Look, if a package requires a signature and you ring the bell, wait a few seconds after ringing it. If I am at home, that means that I am most likely not wearing pants. I want to save you the awkward moment of me answering the door pantless, so I need a few seconds to pull some on before running to the door. I pulled on a pair of scrubs! No buttons, zippers, nothing– it took me like 3 seconds, and then I ran to the door. When I opened it, you were already driving down the street, leaving me with a door sticker that says I have to wait until tomorrow.
Damn you!
4. Sorry I’m not sorry for rolling my eyes at all of this new pope selection drama. I totally respect Catholics and get that this is a big deal, but why all of the black smoke-white smoke nonsense? Why the secretive deliberations?
No one can deny that a lot of the church’s problems stem from clothing in secrecy what goes on behind closed doors, so why don’t they use this opportunity to modernize a little and make the process more transparent? I’d prefer if members of the church had a say in who their leader was, rather than sitting around watching smoke come out of a chimney as others decide for them.
So there. I’m not sorry. A thug never apologizes.

Sweet Charity

I often post about the fashions, recipes, books, and locations that I love, but today I’d like to share with you some of the causes that I love. 
It’s very important to me to recognize how fortunate I am, and that giving even just a small amount of money or time adds up to make a difference.
Here are some causes that I love:
Food on Foot is a non-profit organization that feeds the homeless and hungry in Los Angeles. They not only provide nutritious meals, they offer clothing, blankets, and employment assistance. They are a unique organization in that they also inspire/require hard work, self-reflection, and random acts of kindness. They’re not about just giving food to those without it; they instead look to help those who are struggling to get on their feet and become productive members of society. I’ve been a member since August of 2011, and I wrote about my first experience with them here, back when this blog went by a different name. 
It really is an inspiring and unique organization.

I was introduced to Xela Aid by one of my mentors in grad school (now my boss!). Xela Aid works with a village in Guatemala, to help the people of the village break through the cycle of poverty by providing health care and education opportunities, among other things. I have gone on volunteer trips twice, and plan to go again next summer. It truly is a life changing experience, and you can read a little bit about my experience here. 
Kiva works on the concept of a microfinance– or lending to low-income people or those without access to banking.  When you give money to Kiva, you’re technically an investor, since those who receive the loans pay them back. You could keep the returned cash, or (preferably) reinvest it in another cause. You get updates about the person you are investing in, and you can see how your loan, no matter how small, helps him or her to climb out of poverty and become financially independent. Many of the loans go to impoverished nations and to small businesses; for example, I just reinvested my balance to a Georgian woman who is starting a bakery; before that a woman in Ghana who makes Kenkey borrowed money for dough, and before that, I lent to a Ugandan woman who was opening a pub. It is so easy to give to, and I really love the idea of supporting women in their business ventures around the world.
If you’re interested, here’s an invite code– they say you and I will both get an extra $25 to invest!
Now, this cause isn’t about helping the less fortunate; in fact, most of their listeners are fairly comfortable Los Angelinos. KCRW is one of our NPR affiliates, and I really love NPR. It’s important to me that we have quality journalism, and I especially love what KCRW does for the community. Their music programming is excellent–as in not just good, but seriously influential and eclectic, and just wonderful. Even if you’re not in the Los Angeles area, you can listen online. I promise that it makes for great office music. 
Also, the local reporting on KCRW is unparalleled. And the book clubs, film screenings, art walks, and concerts that they produce are so cool that I almost feel unworthy. That station is where I turn to for all things news and culture, and it’s listener supported. 
I love it so much that I accidentally made two ongoing donations during a pledge drive!
I’d love to hear about the organizations that you are involved with, or how you like to give back, in your community or internationally!

Scenes From a Weekend: Downtown Fullerton

Before I moved to Huntington Beach to live with my man, I lived in Downtown Fullerton. I still work in Fullerton, but it’s been awhile since I’ve roamed around my old neighborhood downtown.

So today I drove in to unpack all of the books that have been in a storage unit for the past 4 years. There will be more on that later, I promise.

I decided to make a day of it, to have lunch at one of my favorite places, check out some of the great shops, and stroll down the tree lined streets that I once called home.

I don’t know of another town quite like Fullerton. With CSUF, a large community college, and a smaller private college, you could call it a bit of a college town in a north corner of Orange County. But it’s also a sweet suburb and artsy enclave.

Hearts like this one are painted by local artist and are planted throughout the city.

Many older buildings have been preserved so that colonial revival and art decco buildings from the 1930’s are next to modern strip malls; residential streets are lined with Craftsman bungalows, though a few blocks away you might find a McMansion or two.

That’s the museum that houses a lot of local history, including history of the Fender guitar (created in Fullerton).

You’ll probably see some homeless folks napping on a bench. The downtown area is known for its bars and restaurants, so if you’re unfortunate enough to make it out on a weekend night, you’ll run into the trashy Inland Empire crowd who come in on lifted trucks and fill the streets with cigarette butts and vomit.

But on a Friday afternoon, it is absolutely lovely.

I stopped in for lunch at one of my all time favorites, Les Amis. It’s a Lebanese restaurant that taught me to really enjoy Lebanese pickles, and it’s where I go when I am craving Zaatar (it’s hard to find!).

I like how they bring silverware to each table in a vintage tin.


The decor of the cafe is exotic, chic, and dreamy.

I wandered around some of my favorite spots, like the Villa Del Sol courtyard.

I hear they’re converting the top floors of this building across the street to lofts; how lovely would that be?!

I popped into this new shop on Harbor called Oh Hello Friend.

Take a look at the blog and shop! As I looked around, I wanted to buy ALL THE THINGS! Everything in there was lovely and adorable.Since I am trying to save money (my tax bill is obscene this year!) I settled on only buying an ancient copy of Emereson’s essays and a stop watch necklace, seen here.

 I bought that pair of Seven for all Mankind jeans across the street at Buffalo Exchange, too!

After waving to my old apartment, it was time to fill the car up with books and head down the 57 back home.
I rented a room in the unit on the top right, where there is a For Rent sign.

Luckily for me, I couldn’t fit all of the boxes in my car, so I will have to make another trip tomorrow. 😉

Downton Abbey versus The Walking Dead

Last night I finally got around to watching the most recent episode of Downton Abbey. That means I spent three days of having to interrupt people with “No no no! I haven’t seen it yet! Stop!” to avoid spoilers. (BTW, thanks a lot, New York Times. You’d think they’d avoid giving spoilers in a headline in the Monday edition!)

You see, the real problem is that when it comes to good television, I am over-committed on Sunday nights. I don’t even watch that much T.V., but now my two obsessions, Downton Abbey and The Walking Dead are both airing new episodes on Sundays. And you have to know that when I say obsessed, I mean it– watching an episode means no phone, no laptop or tablet, lights dimmed, wrapped in a blankie with snacks and drinks within reach. When I watch an episode, it is one of the few moments of the week when I am not multi-tasking. So amen for DVR, because I would not want to have to make a choice between the two.

But when it comes to choosing between The Walking Dead and Downton Abbey, I’d bet that most people could pick a side rather quickly and easily– shooting zombies or debating the financial future of your estate? Scavenging for food, or having your servant dress you for dinner?  I mean, you couldn’t get further from the zombie apocalypse than a British period drama set in Yorkshire, right?

Hmmm.

I admit that I have eclectic taste, but maybe in some ways, the shows aren’t all that different from each other…

You Can’t Get Too Attached to the Characters

Both shows are in their third season, and in both, the writers are not afraid to kill off main characters. Remember the last two episodes of season 2 of The Walking Dead? I still miss Dale. And just when you thought the gang had mastered their skull crushing skills and could clear the prison of zombies, No! As Chris Hardwick says, “Noo, nootttt T-Dog!!!”
The same thing goes in Merry ol’ England. Cybill pulled through the labor and the baby was beautiful and we all breathed a sigh of relief, until nope, Eclampsia. The village doctor was right, and like that, she dies in front of everyone.
You thought things were turning around in Downton, with Mary’s pregnancy and the new plans to modernize? Too bad, Matthew’s gone now.

The producers of both shows are not at all afraid to change the opening credits. You can become attached to characters all you want, but there’s a good chance that they will die in the next episodes. Even though this leaves me cursing my TV, I have to admit that it increases the drama and keeps me coming back for more.

It’s a Very Different World Out There, and Characters are Trying to Find Where They Fit Into It.
To say that Georgia is now a different place post Zombie Apocalypse is a stupid understatement, but as far as world changing events go (real or hypothetical) I think it’s fair to say that World War I was a close second.
During the war, the characters of Downton found themselves having to quickly adapt and even reinvent themselves; a footman becomes a medic on the front lines, a daughter of a lord becomes a nurse, and Downton Abbey even becomes a convalescent home. Men who had once never mingled with one another because of class find themselves fighting together on the front lines, and characters at home struggle with finding ways to contribute and prove their patriotism. And the war was just the beginning of things; once that’s over, the world markets fall into turmoil and noble estates find themselves in financial ruin. The characters all ask of themselves and others, should we accept change or should we resist and uphold tradition? Can Cybill really marry a chauffeur?! Overhaul the business model of Downton?! With telephones and electricity, it’s a confusing new world, and no one is quite certain where they fit in.

Now obviously the changes are more stark in Georgia, and characters are just hoping to survive one day to the next there. But the Zombie apocalypse means that characters get to virtually reinvent themselves, and their contributions to the group define who they are. They have serious roles to fill within the group, whether it is standing guard or preparing food for everyone. It doesn’t matter how squeamish or weak a character was pre-apocalypse; even little Beth (Hershel’s daughter) is now a pretty good shot. Maggie has no problem  stabbing a zombie in the skull. The wimpy pizza guy is now a man who kills zombies with their own bones. And the little kid shot his mother for christ’s sake! Every character discovers a time and a place when they need to step up, whether they are prepared to or not.

A New World Means New Rules
As the characters try to negotiate their changing worlds, their ethics come into question in ways they never thought possible. Before the zombie apocalypse, it was pretty clear that one should never kill another human. Then the walkers came about, and their humanity was questioned, but it became pretty clear that the only acceptable course of action was to destroy by any means possible the brain of the walking dead. Gross, but understandable. Crushing a skull might feel wrong at first, but you get used to it. But then when the living become problematic, that’s when it gets tricky. Those strange guys in the bar looking for a place to stay, do you help them out or kill them? That injured kid, do you kill him or set him free and risk others finding you? Your best friend trying to usurp your power, does he deserve to live? Is it okay to shoot your mom after a messy emergency c-section? In the zombie apocalypse, the dead are easy to kill (again); it’s the living that really make you question what’s right and wrong.
Things aren’t as bloody in Downton Abbey, but morality can still be a little messy. A former prostitute working as a house maid for Mrs. Crawley?! We can’t allow that, can we? Or if we do, what then? And to christen the first granddaughter as catholic? And house a political refugee from Ireland? The Crawleys find themselves having to make all kinds of allowances that a few years prior would have been unthinkable, but things are changing…
Class is Everything and Nothing
This is a central theme in Downton Abbey; the upstairs/downstairs dichotomy is the most striking feature to a 21st century audience. And yet, those class lines aren’t always as solid as first glance would have you think. Think of Lord Grantham and Mister Bates; comrades in the South African war who trust each other with their lives; because of class Bates serves as Grantham’s valet rather than dinner guest. But they are more intimate with one another than dinner companions. They confide in and give each other advice, and the Crawleys are far more invested in Bates’ conviction and sentence than one would expect of an employer/ employee relationship. Mary listens to and confides in Ana more than any of her sisters. Then there is Tom Branson, the chauffeur who marries Cybill and becomes part of the family, rather than their staff. Serving him may be weird at first, but even Mrs. Hughes remarks on the way that he has transitioned so nicely into his new position. Class is there, but its arbitrary nature becomes more and more apparent to all involved. 
Zombies, however, are the great equalizer. They are equal opportunity biters and attack indiscriminately on the poor and the rich. Characters who may have never interacted before the outbreak now rely on one another to stay alive. Think of Andrea, the attorney, and Derryl, the redneck. Unless she was defending him in court, she would have no interaction with him. For all we know, the Governor was a high school gym teacher before the outbreak, and now he runs Woodbury with an iron fist. The longer they have been in the new world, the less anyone cares about what position any others had before the outbreak; if you are good with weapons, that is all that matters.
Beware of Outsiders, and Above All, Protect the Family
In both shows, the core families are very suspicious and guarded of outsiders attempting to infiltrate. Matthew and Isabel Crawley were only welcomed at arm’s length into the family thanks to law, and it took the family quite some time to warm up to them. Branson has only barely earned acceptance into the family. The Dowager countess (and Mary too, for that matter) let all outsiders know that they are under scrutiny and not yet welcome. Even downstairs, the staff, though friendly, are not quick to warm up to new comers. Newcomers upstairs and downstairs have to await approval before being officially welcomed. 
Now, earning the dowager countess’s approval is NOT a position I would ever want to be in, and to be honest, I don’t know who is scarier to an outsider, her or Rick Grimes. But Rick is not about to let anyone just walk up and join the group either. People have died trying to do so. Those who have been let in, like Michonne, are not trusted and only permitted to stay on a temporary basis. Even the governor doesn’t let people just wander into Woodbury. Outsiders are the biggest security risk.
But.
In both families, once in, you have the full protection of the others. You might even find the Dowager Countess sticking up for you. The Crawleys will do anything to make sure that no scandal or gossip falls on any member of their household. In The Walking Dead,  your family will put their lives on the line to come rescue you. They will shoot anyone who tries to hurt you. The families in both shows are not big, but they stick together and defend the honor and safety of all.
Also. Oddly enough, several actors on The Walking Dead are British, so, maybe that’s the real common thread here.
So for some the choice between one show or the other is clear, but if you’re a strange one like me who enjoys both equally, it’s for good reason. Shows that put morality into question, while reaffirming what is most important–family– are few and far between. It’s only unfortunate that they happen to air on Sunday nights. And could the characters of Downton survive a zombie apocalypse? I think the downstairs crew would get on just fine, and the dowager countess’s walking stick may become very useful…

Scenes From A Weekend: Chinatown

I have lived my whole life in Southern California, and until yesterday, I had never visited the famed Chinatown. I’ve seen the movie and driven past it, but never walked around the neighborhood.

So when Cliff’s cousin suggested we all make a day of it for Saturday’s Chinese New Year parade, I was completely on board.

We started the day by meeting up at Union Station.

 It really is one of the world’s most beautiful train stations, and if you ever get the chance to, I  suggest dining at Traxx, or at least having a drink in the famous bar. We stopped into the bar for a scotch, then set out for lunch and the parade.

Since Olvera street is also so close by, we decided to stop in for some Mexican food. If fajitas and margaritas on a patio on a balmy February afternoon in L.A. isn’t your idea of a great Saturday afternoon, then… I don’t know what to tell you. Because it was wonderful.

We figured at some point we should catch the parade, so we walked a couple of blocks over to where the parade route ends.

While scurrying across the street after the light changed, I caught the edge of my foot on a crack in the pavement and twisted my ankle sharply. Maybe it had something to do with the margaritas? All I know is that it hurt, but I limped along the rest of the day and refused to hold the group back.

Since we were in the middle of Chinatown, we thought it was the only time appropriate to buy hats and parasols. Now, I know the hats are technically Vietnamese and not Chinese (a woman at the beer garden made this very clear to Cliff. He asked if they were offensive. “Offensive? Yes.” Was her reply. D’oh. But they did protect us from the sun, and they were selling them on every corner, so…).

We ended up finding a beer garden (I had to bow out of the drinking by that point) where local bands were playing.

We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Chinatown, sampling some of what the food trucks had to offer, dancing with little girls with parasols.

When we got home, I discovered that my ankle was in worse shape than I let on; it was swollen the size of a softball, and I soon wasn’t able to put much weight on it. 

It doesn’t look to be a sprain, but unfortunately it looks like it might set me back about a week in my marathon training. D’oh!

Nonetheless, Chinatown did not disappoint. I may be biased, but Los Angeles really is one of the most unique, eclectic, exciting, wonderful cities in the world.

Also, you can now Follow my blog with Bloglovin !

Also linking up here!
Photobucket

That Time I Was Spoiled on Valentine’s Day

So Valentine’s Day.

 For most of my 31 years, the holiday has been about silly cartoon cards and conversation heart candies. The last time I had an actual romantic Valentine’s Day, it was really stupid –having to pretend that I like a cheap stuffed bear from the drug store is not fun, and I’d rather not celebrate it than pretend that I like an ugly, generic stuffed animal. This may make me sound like less of a woman, but I don’t like boxes of chocolates either. So Valentine’s Day is usually more about eating pizza and downing a bottle of wine while watching tv.
And I wonder why I was single for so long.
But this year I finally got to see what it is like to feel loved and spoiled on Valentine’s Day.
While my man has to work tonight, we did get a couple of hours together this afternoon, when he surprised me with a BEAUTIFUL necklace and earring set.
Now, normally I am apprehensive about someone else buying me jewelry, but my man has some good taste. 
Both images via Nordstrom Jewelry 
I love how elegant, simple, and unique they are. They really look better on, though these pics don’t do much justice since I am in my kitchen…
He totally won Valentine’s Day. I did at least get him a card, and more importantly, some
Meat Candy!
I hope everyone had a splendid Valentine’s Day. And don’t worry, now that he’s at work, I will be joining the many who will spend the night on the couch with cheap wine and bad television…
XO, Rachel