Love it or Leave it

Living in LA with 2 people and 1 car

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T-minus 20 Days

I had forgotten all about my tumblr until today when I remembered that I had a Yelp profile which happened to have a link to this page. And then I had such a great time reading all my past posts that I thought why not give it a go for awhile. 

So since I’m approximately 50 weeks overdue I will skip over most of last year. I never found a Quarter 3 or Quarter 4 goal so the whole idea of splitting up the year into manageable quarters was a bust. I ran two more half marathons in the fall (Long Beach and Las Vegas) and then my first trail half in February at the Rose Bowl. I had a PR at Long Beach because it was flat and free (thanks Team VW!) so there was very little pressure. I raised funds for Team Orange Laces for Las Vegas and had a great time running the strip at night, pretending to be VIP and it was awesome that my 88 year old grandmother got to see me run a race. I fell around mile 3 at the trail half and was just about to give up at the halfway point, but luckily heard my Grandfather in my head telling me to keep going and not be a quitter. I have run only once since February and have switched to other fitness pursuits mainly spin, cardio barre and yoga.

So what happens in 20 days? We are actually headed to the World Cup in Rio. I still can’t believe it’s happening but my dreams are already filled with travel anxiety of not packing, being late and missing flights. It will take 4 flights to get there and 4 to get back and we’ll probably spend close to 3 full days traveling but beggars can’t be choosers. (And in this case beggars equals using only points to buy flights to/from Santiago, Chile.) 

I purchased my last of the trip essentials this weekend after picking up our visas from the Brazilian consulate. I am also trying to brush up on my Portuguese by using an app called Duolingo. Eu nao falo portugues bom. 

Finally in other news, we moved across the street to a bigger place right across from one of our favorite people, the Chony. Although we miss our impeccably well maintained 1 bedroom, we are now enjoying lots of BBQ on our patio, being able to turn on the central A/C (even if it doesn’t work 100%) and having two bathrooms! I’m hoping to make this place more like our home way faster than it took us in the last apartment. I’d hate to spend more than 6 months feeling like we just moved in. So that will be the project for post-Brazil along with enjoying the City of Angels during my favorite time of year- SUMMER!

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Top 30 Best Written TV Shows

I love tv. So much so that cutting off cable was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. But since the invention of Netflix and Hulu I’ve been able to keep up with most of my favorites, with the exception of Mad Men. I’m really excited to get through this list of the 30 Best Written TV shows as determined by the Writers Guild of America.

I’ve seen a lot of old shows like the Twilight Zone, M*A*S*H, I Love Lucy and Cheers from all the reruns on growing up. But two that I’ve NEVER really watched an entire episode of is SNL and the Simpsons!

1. The Sopranos- need to finish; started when I was too young for that much violence.
2. Seinfeld
3. The Twilight Zone
4. All in the Family
5. M*A*S*H
6. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
7. Mad Men
8. Cheers
9. The Wire
10. The West Wing
11. The Simpsons- I’ve never watched!
12. I Love Lucy
13. Breaking Bad
14. The Dick Van Dyke Show
15. Hill Street Blues
16. Arrested Development
17. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
18. Six Feet Under
19. Taxi
20. The Larry Sanders Show
21. 30 Rock- halfway through
22. Friday Night Lights
23. Frasier
24. Friends
25. Saturday Night Live- I’ve never watched!
26. The X-Files
27. Lost- Worst ending EVER!
28. ER- until they started killing EVERYONE off I loved this show.
29. The Cosby Show
30. Curb Your Enthusiasm

One thing I do not like is when my shows start killing all the characters off. I know that it’s because the actors want to move on, but find another way of having them leave besides making them die. And I will forever be mad at Lost for making me obsessed with that show only to have what was in my opinion a HORRIBLE ending. I’m so nervous for Breaking Bad and Mad Men.

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Week 16- Dodgers Disaster & Ciclavia

Going into this baseball season I couldn’t have been more excited or nervous about the 180 games to be played. So far this season it seems like most of my worse fears have become reality. After securing a lovely starting rotation and shelling out big bucks for an ace in Greinke, it looked like Baby Clay would not have to hold up the entire pitching staff. Add to that a group of new bats and we were THE team to beat. Now a mere 3 weeks into the season and the Dodgers have lost three pitchers to injuries, are 4.5 games back in the NL West, got swept by the last place Padres and below .500 on W-L. Luckily nothing really matters until the All Star Break so let’s hope we can get everyone healed and back on their A-game soon. And definitely before Saturday when I have tickets. ;)

This was a short weekend and I spent almost all of Sunday riding around Los Angeles on my bike along with 150,000 others in Ciclavia to the Sea. We made it to the Culver City Hub in about 3 hours which is about 3.7 miles per hour. It was super slow going at times and we did make two pit stops so factoring that in, but it was GREAT people watching. I’m sad I’ll miss the next one, but I’m definitely going to make sure I’m around for the last one in October.

As for Quarter 2 goals I haven’t come up with a big one so I’ve decided to just kind of throw in a bunch and see what sticks. So far I have three: 1. volunteering (already applied to 2 places)
2. doing more creative stuff (i.e. crafts)
3. fixing up the apartment (replacing living room chairs, sprucing up the bedroom)

And the Bearded Man and I have a joint goal of working out a lot more to the point where it might finally become just part of the daily routine.

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Weeks 10 through 15- Too much good stuff

I could not keep up my promise to provide weekly updates, or even biweekly updates. I don’t really have an excuse except that finishing the marathon took a big piece of me emotionally and I don’t think I’ve quite recovered. Yesterday’s Boston Marathon bombings really shook me, because it never occurred to me that a sporting event like a marathon would be a target but then again no one ever thinks something bad will happen until it does. That being said I wish there is more that I could do other than my plan to go donate some blood soon at my local Red Cross.

Here’s the big stuff from the past 6 weeks-

03/07- Oxy (my alma mater) had their annual SpringFest concert and invited alums to attend. Macklemore was performing and although I only knew the Thrift Shop song I thought it might be fun to check out and the price was right (FREE). My sis-in-law came along and helped me gain some street cred as I was surely one of the oldest alums in the crowd. Macklemore was an AMAZING performer and turned me into a huge fan. By the end of the night I knew I had to download the album and put a few key songs on my marathon playlist. It was THAT good.

03/13- Went to listen to Jose James play in a tiny speakeasy-ish bar in Venice. I was super sick with a cold and nervous that I wouldn’t feel better before the marathon, and kept falling asleep while standing. It was hot and uncomfortable and between my snoozing I can’t really say I gave the show a fair shake. I was mostly glad when it was time to go home. I was a bit annoyed that he didn’t come on stage until really late (at least after 10pm) and we had to beg the restaurant next door to give us the last of their coffee in an attempt to stay awake.

03/16- My Dad really wanted me to attend the Blessing of the Marathoners at the Cathedral the day before the race so after a yummy breakfast at Nick’s Cafe we headed over. The service was short and sweet and I appreciated taking the time to recognize what an impressive feat running 26.2 miles is and how I should be thankful that I’m able to run that far. It was also my first visit to the Taj Mahoney and it is very a impressive building and much prettier than some of the other modern cathedrals.

03/17- THE MARATHON! I couldn’t really sleep and gave up trying around 4am. Rather than waiting I decided to give in and take the first Gold Line train to Union Station. It was nice to see all of the other runners up so early and ready to go. We were all kind of nervously quiet and I kept to myself. The shuttle to Dodger Stadium was uneventful. I really appreciated all the Tweets and Instagram posts from other runners. It was encouraging to see so many people getting ready and excited. I found my running group for stretches after braving the line for the restroom and turning in my bag at gear check.

I was emotional a few times during the race, singing “I Love LA” on repeat at the starting line, the first time I saw the Bearded Man and my mother-in-law, the first time I saw my mom, seeing my Aunt and Uncle in Hollywood by surprise, seeing my two Uncles and Cousin at Mile 20, passing my running group tent with high-fives, running past good friends who surprised me at Mile 22 and of course crossing that finish line. It was an emotionally and physically draining day.

It was probably one of the few days in my life where I felt like I was living an out of body experience. You knew it was happening, but you couldn’t quite believe it. I hit the wall just before Mile 23 and luckily saw a coach from my running group with 2 other first time marathoners. He kept us going for the last 3 miles and I ran the last 1/2 mile on my own. My knees really started to hurt, but I’m glad I managed to run the last of it in and didn’t resort to only walking (although that would have been okay). I finished in 5:20. I was overwhelmed both my supporters on course, and all of my virtual cheerleaders on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It really made me love social media. I don’t know that I’ll ever run a full marathon again, but I am glad I did it and still can’t believe it some days.

03/20- Went to listen to Lianne LaHavas play the El Rey and was glad to be in an well ventilated building with seats on the side and a performer who goes on at a decent hour. Also, realized this means I might be old.

03/23-03/30- The Bearded Man and I headed off to Utah for Spring Break 2013. We visited three National Parks- Zion, Bryce and Arches. We spent a lot of time in the car driving but hiked every day. Everywhere you looked the scenery was just beautiful and I must have exclaimed “oh how pretty” about 1,000 times. It was a very relaxing vacation without the internet/makeup/TV and I really enjoyed seeing a new part of the U.S.

04/01- Opening Day for the Dodgers and a 10 hour non-stop event. Super excited that we got tickets, all sat together, loved the new restrooms, happy it wasn’t super hot and managed to get in Phillipe’s and ramen in the same day.

04/04-04/06- Chicago for a work conference, but the Bearded Man joined me and we had a great time taking in a new to us city. It was the exact opposite of the National Parks which made it nice. Spent a lot of time on the L and visited all of the big spots including Wrigley Field, Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Girl and the Goat, a Rick Bayless restaurant, jazz at the Green Mill Lounge and an architectural tour of the City.

Last week I really enjoyed going home every night and getting back into the routine, but am now really bummed that I have not decided on any Quarter 2 goals. After spending 6 months preparing for the marathon, I really need something new to occupy my free time and help me feel personally productive. Nothing is really jumping out at me, but I hope to have a vague idea of what I’d like to accomplish by June soon, as April is already halfway over!

All suggestions welcome.

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Week 8 and 9- Goodbye February, Hello March!

I was a bad blogger and skipped a whole week, but I don’t want to give up on my promise to write weekly so here’s 14 days condensed as much as possible.

Wed-Listening to Forro at the Center for Eagle Rock Arts was awesome. Not only did it remind me of Brasil, it got me super excited to start real planning for World Cup 2014. Unfortunately for us, the bearded man and I turned into old people pumpkins right and went home RIGHT before SEU JORGE randomly showed up!

Thurs- So with that disappointment behind me, I got ready for learning how to make paella, which I decided I still don’t like enough for me to go through all the work in making it. Good to know.

Fri- We hit up Disneyland on our super cheap Annual Passes and enjoyed the relatively short lines for most of the rides. 

Sat- My last 10 miler was slow and painful. I can’t decide if its residual overuse from the long run or because I didn’t do anything this past week. Moving onward though we managed to score Russian River’s annual one-time release of Pliny the Younger at Verdugo Bar and the weather was beautiful.

Sun- Breakfast, the Oscars and finished Downton Abbey. Thanks for nothing UK!!!

Mon- Nothing fun.

Tues- We went to a KCRW dinner date at Mohawk Bend which is a cool event in theory. The idea is that you pay a flat rate for a set menu and drinks are on your own. Cool, except for that at MB they had us sit with other randoms and the food came out family style. Which would not have been that big of a deal except for that the food didn’t get served for over 45 minutes after the event started (including soup/salad!). It’s not like they a) didn’t know how many people would be there and b) what they were ordering. So I might think twice before doing this in the future.

Thurs- Another cooking class this time Winter Cocktails! I can now officially make mulled wine and dark and stormys. Yum.

Fri- First Fridays was amazing as always. Despite Metro’s HORRIBLE service that made a trip from South Pasadena to USC/Exposition Park take over an hour! FYI- Trains only come every 20 minutes on Expo even before 8pm.

We had drinks downtown after, but made a mistake to go to Dublin’s because its affordable and forgetting that part of the main reason I like to go out is for the ambiance. Plus Downtown bars have gotten super young, either that or I’m getting old.

Sat- Looking for a new apartment was not fruitful as all of the available places in non-sketch neighborhoods are smaller than our current place with less amenities (i.e. no parking or washer/dryer).

At night we headed to Beer Belly in Koreatown. The food is SUPER spicy so bring your tums if you can’t handle heat like me. The beer selection was very nice and I appreciated the easy pricing of $6,7 or 8 depending on the alcohol content/specialness etc.

Sun- After getting over the heartbreak of Downton Abbey last week I chose to binge watch Game of Thrones season 2 because at least I’ve read those books and know exactly what’s going to happen. I’m surprised by the show’s obsession with certain events and making non-issue of others. Plus the nudity is OOC.

Mon- Nothing cool, but did make the most amazing dinner of salmon on a bed of arugula that was easy to make and I would have actually paid money to eat.

This week is just tapering for the marathon and coming to grips that it’s only 11 days away. I’m so ready for Quarter 2 of 2013.

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Week 7- Run Baby Run

So this past week all energy was focused on the fact that I would be completing my last long run before the L.A. marathon, 22 miles broken in to two parts. The first was a 9 mile solo run at 4:30am followed up by the Pasadena Rock and Roll 1/2 marathon at 7:30am. 

The first 9 miles were easy and entertaining because of listening to Ira Glass tell me stories on this This American Life. It would have been perfect except for when I ate it at around mile 7. The half marathon was also pretty interesting, and I enjoyed running with my prego friend for the 2nd time. She is such a rockstar, running with both her kids in utero. The most inspiring part was watching the elites run past me at their Mile 8 when I was just about finishing Mile 3. They’re SO fast. Everything was working great until we headed in to the Rose Bowl for the last 3 miles and my body and mind were OVER it. All I kept thinking was how I would get through 4.1 more miles on March 17th, but before I could finish working that out in my head it was time to cross the finish line.

Earlier in the week I had tried to semi-carbo load with dinner at Bestia the newish Italian restaurant in the Arts District for early Valentine’s Dinner and ramen to celebrate a friend moving back to the City of Angels. I’ve decided my ramen obsession has moved from weekly to an almost every 3-4 day occurrence. If they ever come out with the nutritional content for a bowl and it turns out to be 1100 calories per serving I will be devastated.

All that running has left me incapable of motivating myself to do anything athletic this week other than a short 20 minute yoga stretch session to help my back after sitting at the cube all day. I need a full body massage and some time off before I get back on the saddle again, but there’s no rest for the weary (or in this case marathon training) as 10 miles is on the schedule for this Saturday.

I did have a few fun transit outings this week to the City of LA Central Library to pick up a “real” book (as opposed to downloading it) complemented with lunch at Mendocino Farms. And before Gin headed on her Eat Pray Love part 3 we hit up Cork Bar in South Park and got a great deal with our KCRW Fringe Benefits card.

Tonight I’m headed to learn how to dance Brazilian Forro and tomorrow cook paella. Lots of fun for a short week!

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Week 6- Winter Fun and Working It

Last week was relatively chill until the weekend when we headed to the mountains (despite the manhunt) for some skiing/snowboarding with the Bearded Man’s family. It was the first time we’ve ever had to put chains on a vehicle and I can fully understand why people are willing to pay $40 to have them installed. It is stressful! Luckily we got them on and were on our way to the cabin only to find our street and parking completely covered in 3 feet of pristine snow. We toughed it out and dragged all of our stuff through about 2 blocks of it and kept a tough upper lip while trying to find the water on/off valve. But the cabin was clean, warm and eventually had running water so nothing to worry about. 

It was my first time skiing in super fresh powder and what a difference it made. We’ve tried to go skiing every year since 2008 and have managed to keep up the tradition. My mom was nice enough to teach me how to ski back when I was a fearless kid. I’m definitely a LOT more cautious now (I blame Sonny Bono), and after trying to ski down twice in a full white out (little to no visibility) we called it a day. If there’s been a recent storm, I would recommend trying Snow Valley in Arrowhead over Bear Mountain/Snow Summit because not only is it half the price, there’s almost no lines and the runs are great for beginner/intermediate skiers/snowboarders.

After getting back in record time without chains it was time to celebrate Mom and Dad’s birthday and watch Downton Abbey. This season has pushed the show solidly in British telenovela category, but I still love to hate everyone except Granny. Too bad the Dowager Countess would want nothing to do with a plebe like me, but I’d really love to be her bestie.

As for my running escapades, I took a week off (again), but I’m back in the saddle. I’m doing something everyday this week in order to gear up for Sunday’s last long run. I can’t wait to show off my customized running shirt for the LA marathon. 

Something I need to write more about is why I firmly believe that this is a city you either have to love it or leave it. If you haven’t already guessed I’m firmly in the love it camp, but for different and evolving reasons all the time. This past week’s has been about the local access to winter recreation (less than 2 hours) and the opportunity to be surrounded by really smart people who also love this city. Thanks LA!

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Week 5- High highs and Low lows

This past week was jam packed with so many fun outings and events that it made coming back to regular life a tough pill to swallow.

For the past 2 weeks LA has been celebrating the semi-annual dineLA event where several restaurants put together special fixed-price menus to encourage people to try new things and places. I only managed to go to one lunch at Bar & Kitchen at the O hotel in DTLA and one dinner at Cliff’s Edge in Silverlake. Both were a big departure from what I normally order as I tried chicken confit and chicken pate for the first time. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of both spots and hope to return soon. LA has become such a foodie destination that it’s impossible to keep up with all the new spots, ever changing menus, rotating chefs and bartenders, etc. I look to trusted bloggers like the Minty and Midtown Lunch to provide me with recommendations on what’s worth my time and $.

On Thursday I was able to volunteer with a few of my colleagues in the bi-annual LA Homeless Count. This is a census of sorts where a concerted effort is made over a few days to count all persons living in Los Angeles County without a permanent home. We canvassed two census tracts in El Sereno and tallied a total of 4 RVs that were being lived in and clearly not headed camping anytime soon. Part of the reason I love data is because you can’t develop solutions if you don’t know where the problem is and its magnitude.

Friday was the return of one of my all-time favorite LA things to do- First Fridays at the Natural History Museum. I have my friend Gin to thank because she won tickets on Twitter two years ago and brought me along to witness the magic that is listening to live music while hanging out with dinosaur bones. For once we even made it to the talk which was with Mary Roach, a very funny writer whose work I’ll have to see is available for digital download at the library.

Saturday was what I’ve been dreading for a few weeks- 20 miles! It actually went better than expected. I woke up at 5:00am to run the first eight miles on my own and followed it up with 12 miles with my running group. I might actually make it to owning the title: Marathoner!

Later that night I even managed to get all dressed up for dinner at Le Ka and to see/hear Stravinksy’s Rite of Spring with the Bearded Man. The food at Le Ka was delicious. We tried the house-cured salmon, pork chop and cavatelli pasta with rabbit. The cocktails were just okay. The ballet was three separate pieces all very different, but I was still surprised to find how mild the Rite of Spring is compared to what we consider avant garde 100 years later.

All this fun was capped off by having friends and family over to watch the end of another NFL season and an awesome concert by Beyonce followed by 30 minutes of blather aka the SuperBowl. Which is no wonder I hit a wall of low yesterday- who wouldn’t after non-stop action and fun for 6 full days. Luckily the Bearded Man and I headed to the one place that makes me happy no matter what- In-N-Out! 

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Week 4- Recovery & Relief

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This past week was a return to work and a two day weekend aka back to the norm. Wednesday evening was quiet and was spent watching non-other than Magic Mike. That movie is just almost all bad with very little redeeming qualities. I had forced it on the Netflix queue after hearing the buzz that Matthew McConaughey could have possibly received an Oscar nod for the role. Umm…if the Academy had nominated that performance, then Ah-nold/Nick Cage and any number of other now-typecasted actors should have been up in arms, because that was classic Matt being Matt.

Next up was my new favorite free hobby, assisting at HipCooks. This was my fourth class assisting and by far my favorite both in terms of delicious food and everyday use. I learned how to make pasta from scratch using none other than the attachment for my KitchenAid mixer that I have had for over a year and not used once. We made four different kinds of pasta and all of it was delicious. I highly recommend HipCooks with locations on both the east and west side as an affordable way to connect with your inner chef while having a great meal as well. 

The weekend was packed with events starting most importantly with a visit to Blue Heaven on Earth also known in most parts as Dodger Stadium early Saturday morning. The blue crew was en force as single game tickets including Opening Day went on sale. The number chosen is random and out of the 1,799 wristbands distributed we ended up being #1,154, and about 400 shy of purchasing tickets before they sold out. So I used my mobile technology to quickly jet to StubHub and purchase the 10 tickets we needed before the price went up to meet demand. This will be my fifth Opening Day at Dodger Stadium and it is probably up there as one of my favorite days of the year after my birthday. It’s always beautiful weather and nothing makes me happier than a fresh season of baseball with 180 games to go.

After we ventured to Eagle Rock Brewery's 3rd year anniversary party at the old favorite Verdugo Bar. I am so jealous of current Occidental College students, because NONE of these cool spots were around when I went there, but I’m lucky to be able to partake now as an adult who can afford and enjoy pricey beer. Every single one of their brews they’ve produced over the past 3 years was available and it was a super affordable tasting party with $15 buying you two pours and a souvenir glass.

The rest of the week was consumed with a belated birthday dinner party courtesy of friends, finishing up with my January Apartment Cure and of course more soup! This time Carrot Ginger and Lentil with chard and sausage. 

I’m looking forward to having people over for the first time in 2013 to watch the SuperBowl and completing my 2nd to last long run for the marathon, 20 miles! eek!

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