SO SAD SEAU

I remember walking home from an evening class. My path brought me past the gym that only the elite USC athletes used and I remember falling in step behind this huge figure with curly brown hair.  As he turned a corner to head to his destination I instantly identified him and thought, “WOW, I was just walking behind Junior Seau!”  He was only one year ahead of me but already his presence and reputation on the playing field made him a legend in my mind.

Returning to our shared hometown after college, his presence on the San Diego Chargers inspired my transition from Bandwagon Fan to True Fan!  We ate at his restaurant Seau’s admiring the memorabilia, proud to have a Trojan family member in San Diego.  We vowed to next time order Mama Seau’s Samoan slow-roasted dish that it was rumored she traditionally fed the team before games.  We haven’t been back though since I don’t live there now.

I loved how much he contributed to the town bringing such a positive spin on a professional football career and showing the good that one can do with celebrity.  His warm image helped re-shine the walls and trophies of Heritage Hall after OJ’s outburst had temporarily tarnished it.  Even friends of mine who weren’t Trojans spoke excitedly when they’d see Seau or his family out and the words “He was so warm and friendly!” always described the encounter. I lost track of him for a when he retired then resurfaced on a pro team elsewhere.

I’m saddened to learn of his death today as a Trojan, a San Diegan, and as someone the same age feeling like life just started revving up.  We don’t know for sure yet how or why it happened, but if it was self-inflicted I’m sad if he didn’t feel how much joy he brought others. I hope the fans’ love for him heals his family.

After the frenzy dies down, I will take my kids down to Seau’s and admire the jerseys again and order Mama Seau’s dish.  I am positive that his lifetime achievements and continued contributions of his Foundation will outshine any negativity surrounding his death.  Fight On!

MY SECRET GARDEN

My favorite house to live in was my first home in Baltimore, MD.  It was the last house in a group of row houses with front and back stairways, basements, stacks of floors, seemingly endless closets and my favorite childhood place, the sun porch! Although we only had a sun porch until I was 8, it made such an impression on me that I have a Pinterest board featuring things I would have in my dream sun porch.

Not exactly our house but same neighborhood, same awesome sunporch!

SECURE SANCTUARY
My large sun porch was all glass (from my youthful perspective) bordered on all 3 sides by the side yard – part of the yard I rarely explored and something our neighbors didn’t have.  When I played or read at my activity table, the view made me feel like I was in the middle of a protected castle courtyard in the hidden corner of the green and manicured but unexplored garden.  I didn’t have to worry about the busy street in front of our house, the neighbor’s big dogs, or my other neighbor’s invasive daughter.  I was safe and sound. I waited for the Velveteen Rabbit to hop by and peek in curiously.

WARMTH
I regularly felt like a green sprout inside a greenhouse. I’ve always been a sun lover and feeling warmed to my bones!  On the rainy or snowy days, the furnace, or the fireplace in the adjacent rooms heated the room and seeing the chill outside made me appreciate how warm I felt inside.

GOOD PEOPLE
Formal guests made it to the living room, right off of the foyer.  Good friends and family busted through the formalities and hung out in the sun porch.  Eventually we had a pool table out there to add more flavor. This was a room for hanging out and bonding over billiards, not just keeping up appearances

SPECIAL OCCASIONS
Many years we gathered around our Christmas tree, conducted Easter egg hunts and took photos in the porch.  As mentioned, any visiting family hung out there, so this added to the magic.

We Californians don’t know how to do basements or sun porches like the east coast.  I’m determined to share the plans for my secret garden with others!

LOS ANGELES RIOTS – WHAT I LEARNED

After getting out of Dodger town, Los Angeles, we watched from San Diego, as Angelenos lost it – their buildings, minds, even their humanity.  We tried to make sense of an irrational situation and learned a few new things that aren’t found in textbooks.

FIRES – Glued to our TVs, we learned to identify new fires (black smoke) from extinguished fires (white smoke). It hurt to see places we frequented go up in flames then burn to the ground. The riots covered over 30 square miles and fire crews couldn’t respond without police escorts.

MARTIAL LAW – In response to people becoming animals and slow response times, victims took laws into their own hands.  When I heard “Marshal Law” I thought we’d digressed back to the cowboy gun-slinging days.  I think it really meant that when 4,000 National Guardsmen arrived the morning after the riots ignited, they became the authority and local law enforcement answered to them.  It was surreal seeing humvee tanks patrolling the neighborhoods enforcing curfew (a parents dream, really). Eventually 10,000 National Guardsmen and almost 4,000 soldiers worked together.

NOT EVEN THE CITY BURNING DOWN CANCELS FINALS – The following Monday, business reopened, classes started again and some, but not all, finals were cancelled.  Proudly, the school was completely unscathed! Having the National Guard’s operations at the center of campus helped.

THE SAFEST GRADUATION IN HISTORY – I don’t remember much about graduation day. Supposedly Kirk Douglas received an honorary degree.  I remember sitting on the huge lawn in my cap and gown, looking up at the grand library, then farther up at the helicopter with machine guns hanging from both sides, circling overhead.  I could not hear a word over the engines.

For a long time I was angry. It made the transition from college to “real-life” a fast one. I didn’t see how people could do this to their homes and other humans. I’d felt they’d set their town back decades because any major business that could help build up the area would never return.

Fortunately, heroes have helped rebuild Los Angeles.  I prefer to end this with a story of heroism from the day it started… the man who helped save Reginald Denny’s life.

LOS ANGELES RIOTS – OUTSIDER PERSPECTIVE FROM INSIDE

20 years ago, with college finals drawing near, we’d been drawn outdoors by the sunshine in-between studies. Driving back to college in South Central LA, we heard news updates that the verdict for four police officers accused of beating Rodney King would be read any moment. When I turned on the TV, I learned they were found not-guilty. I am sure I felt shock, but, the feelings that came as the rest exploded blew away earlier emotions.

REGINALD DENNY – When I first saw the craziness around his truck at the intersection of Florence and Normandie – I can’t say one street without the other now – I thought I was watching COPS. When I realized that I witnessed an innocent man pulled from his truck and beaten severely, I couldn’t comprehend it. I know now, fortunately some gentlemen, pretending they were part of the melee, put him back in his truck and drove him to a hospital.

LOOTING – Immediately, the looting began. My friends lived closer to USC campus where, despite current events, one felt safer under the wing of campus security. I spent the night concerned as the chaos south of where I lived, at the lower edge of downtown, and the craziness to the north threatened crash in the middle. We decided to leave early the next morning to seek refuge at my folks’ house in San Diego. We drove towards the freeway and fixated anxiously on the ramp to safety. We saw a crowd of people feverishly stampeding down the sidewalk in our direction. As they grew closer, many turned and literally jumped through the walls into a store. We didn’t see the rest as we blew through the last red light out of town.

Although I was Korean living in downtown LA, going to school within gang territory, I was an outsider, a visitor. Many commuter classmates dropped in from the freeways, attended class, hopped back on and drove home without knowing what boiled under the surface.

Loyola Marymount University conducted an ongoing, in-depth study diving into the reasons for the riots, and what, if anything, changed since then. One photo gallery shows great then and now. Tonight, I’ll share what I learned.

THUNDEROUS FLASHBACK

Dark and doomy!
Photo by Jason A. Samfield

Last week, I thought it odd that my body got strangely calm when I gouged a chunk out of my pinky. I seemingly slowed down bodily functions, keeping my finger from bleeding until after I retrieved the ball from the rooftop, returned the broom to its owner, then raced to the bathroom to wash it. I consider myself someone who can stay calm when faced with tense situations or individuals. As a Mom, I have to be the confident rock as we navigate life and its challenges.

Yesterday morning, I thought it odd that I froze and lost track of what task I held when I heard the thunder rumbling through town. I didn’t get tense, but the pounding scrambled my focus and functionality. I rationalized that because it was daytime, I couldn’t see the lightening first to warn me, so I was caught off guard.

Yesterday afternoon, I thought it odd that I seriously wanted my mom, well not really, but enough to tell her that I thought I did, when the crashing clouds gathered directly above my head! Being on the third floor, highest on the hill, one is closer to God and the elements. These thunderous outbursts crashed louder and longer than any others I’ve heard in my life. I was escaping to the second floor when one blast set off such an ongoing racket that I was convinced the third floor had caved in. Later, I watched through the window, following the sound passing through the clouds like Pendleton tanks practicing explosive drills.

As a child, I thought it amazing that my mom controlled the uncontrollable when we sat by the window watching the lightning and counting the seconds until the thunder spoke, and the gaps drew smaller as the storm approached, as she said it would. I still remember the smell of the rain and the swirling humidity breezing through my chiffon babydoll nightgown, not knowing if the chill on my skin was the breeze or fear.

Last night, I thought it heart warming that I had a new comfort level and fondness of one of the scariest most impactful childhood occasions in memory, when I gained a new perspective.

Sunnier Sights!
Photo by mediafury

TITANIC OBSESSION

Call me weird, old, whatever, but I saw Titanic 3-D BEFORE The Hunger Games. My obsession started well before I met Rose DeWitt Bukater and Jack Dawson. The hunger for Titanic was insatiable!

The fever started in fourth grade, as I dutifully worked through the SRA box.

What color did you get up to?

I found the tragic story of the Titanic and felt my first heartbreak learning that really bad things happen. I was immediately taken by the hope everyone held for this unsinkable ship’s maiden voyage that ended in a devastating irony. The SRAs taught more about catastrophic numbers of people than individual stories of those onboard the ship that disappeared.

Big ship, big dreams!
Photo thanks to TitanicUniverse.com

In my teenage years, I felt my way around life leading with my heart. Despite the distraction of horses and boys, when National Geographic shared that Titanic was found in recognizable pieces, I was fascinated by not just the discovery, but the spaceship-like pods that located the wreck. That may have been the first time I let my mind wander to the bottom of the ocean.

National Geographic has the best photos, then and now.
Check out http://www.nationalgeographic.com

More than 10 years later, the movie premiered. Say what you want about James Cameron creating two false characters when so many amazing true stories were on board, but Rose and Jack served the purpose of seamlessly traveling to all parts of the ship so you intimately got to know the Titanic and were just as unwilling to let go of the ship as you were Jack and Rose. Through their interactions with other characters, we received many more amazing and heart-wrenching stories from that trip.

When my ex suggested that perhaps I was so obsessed because I’d possibly been a reincarnated passenger, I stopped talking about my obsession out loud. I broke my silence when my son asked to have a Titanic birthday party for his 7th birthday after seeing a chilling exhibit about the Titanic on board the Queen Mary.

Captain on his ship

I revisited Titanic in 3D and although I could tell you all the scenes by heart, with costumes, I still worried that Jack wouldn’t be able to pull Rose in from the back of the boat starting their fateful journey. Now I can’t wait to see it again with my son.

White Star Line flag

27. DO YOU REMEMBER THAT TIME 5 YEARS AGO WHEN YOU WERE EXTREMELY UPSET? DOES IT REALLY MATTER NOW?

Image

Back then, I prepared to downsize homes for the 2nd time in 2 years. I LOVED moving a lot when younger – exploring new neighborhoods and setting up a new home.  While married, I accumulated a household and dragged around our baggage. Feeling the divorce “forced” the downsize, I stubbornly held onto stuff thinking when I’d proved that I survived, I’d have a full house to show it.  Hindsight reminds me that sending volumes of negativity into the universe, attracts negativity.

I’d hired movers that I used before (different franchise), scheduled for an afternoon start.  The hours-late movers were not starving, nor students, and debated putting it off until morning. I had to be out that day and I’d made it clear how much stuff on how many floors when I called. They asked if I’d be paying cash or credit card (shady) then conferred and began.  I calculated a few hours to load, drive 2 miles and a few more to unload.

7 hours later at 11pm – 2 hours after my ex calmed me down due to damage they caused to the place and my furniture – they finished loading.  They offered to store my furniture in their “warehouse” overnight to start fresh.  “Hell no, Continue!”

Flash-forward to 1am, I was in my new yard talking the police out of ticketing me because the truck parked on the wrong side of the road. Recognizing my un-neighborly first impression, I pleaded, “Single lady…don’t feel comfortable…” They relented, “Ma’am. Please put on the flashing blinkers.”

Looking back, the movers took the insult I felt from moving and added injury to everything I owned, even my independence prize – the first non-hand-me-down NEW couch I bought.  It sucked the wind from my sails.  Fortunately healing began with saint of an old landlord. Since he planned large fix-ups to prep for sale, the mover’s butt busted through his drywall became a minor patch job.  Starbucks cards to my neighbors allowed us to earn a new first impression.

Looking back, things don’t matter.  Sometimes it bothers me that the couch isn’t perfect on one arm.  It pleases me more how many “Big bed nights” the kids enjoyed with friends.  Those are invaluable!

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What about you?
Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset? Does it really matter now?
If you answer, drop your links in the comments!
This question came from Marc & Angel’s 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind

SCHOOLGIRL CRUSH ON SPAIN

My desire for everything Spanish grew to such proportions that I thought my ethnic other half might be Spanish. I didn’t know how else to explain the strong pull that the country had on me. I curiously sifted through my youth to see what I could explain it.

BOOKS: The story of Ferdinand the Bull, a bull who doesn’t realize his own strength and who prefers loving over fighting, taught me the lessons about towns uniting over traditions and being true to yourself, following your passion. Through the black and white drawings, I saw colorful flags flying at the bullfight, smelled the flowers in the lady’s hair, and felt shiny metal swords and even buttons on the matador’s coats.

One of my kids and my favorite books – to this day!

MUSIC: Bugs Bunny first introduced me to the Barber of Seville with humor, but the fact that Bugs took on such a strong presence while massaging the scalp of Elmer Fudd made an impression. The powerful exchange and pace of the music coupled with their large antics made it my immediate favorite – and I watched hours of Bugs Bunny on Saturday mornings, probably hoping to re-live one favorite clip.

I can’t pick a favorite part of this cartoon symphony!

FASHION: I’ve long been obsessed with the colors, fluidity and movement of Flamenco dresses, and matador fashions. Having the men show up for their national pastime in beautifully embroidered shoulder pads, with tailored silhouettes presents a whole new sport than the NFL shoulder pads I was accustomed to. The women’s intentional dance steps emphasized by flashes of color and flowing rich fabrics raised my heartbeat!

The ultimate, multi-level twirling skirts!

MEN:In college, a last minute fix-up to go to a concert, pinned me against the wall with one arm, looked deep into my eyes and in his amazingly seductive accent whispered “So… do you want to make luffff?!” For a split second I was transported to Spain imagining that the chill I felt up my spine was from new romance born against the ancient bricks of a medieval castle, not me scraping my back down cheap cinderblock trying to escape. In a different time and place, new doors of opportunity may open!

Is it the spicy food or something else, I feel a little flustered!

Thanks for wandering with me through my ultimate destination. What tops your list of the places you must visit?

GRATITUDE SUNDAYS: DO OVERS

Everyone’s said “If I knew then what I know now…” While one can’t “refresh” life’s events, life often presents second chances! So, again, I seized the silent moment – between the finish line of the weekend, and the starting line for the next one – to reflect on the gifts thrown in my path.

TOP OF MY HEAD GRATITUDE LIST:

1) High School – Facebook reconnected me with many early friends that I’d lost touch with. It also put me in touch with others that I wish I’d known better, even a high school crush – we now tease each other with it. Social media provides the opportunity to set up mini reunions and return to High School with new appreciation for what we all experienced and stronger interest in who we became!

2) Family Dinners – I suspect I’m not the only one whose kids’ come home from their other parent’s or grandparents’ homes and need time to transition. My kids don’t get blatantly disrespectful; they’re just grouchy and tired, which leads to weepy. After too much whining over games, I sent one to shower, one to clean up, and I immediately cleared our dinner table. We’d eaten in front of the TV the last 2 busy weeks because I spread our taxes across the table. By the end of the meal we were laughing over Lauren’s faces, or Carson’s Chewbacca’s sounds or jokes at my expense.

3) Memories – When I first got divorced, filing away the past 16 years of memories challenged me. I was determined to get to a place where I could own the path I traveled and not feel like I must steer around certain neighborhoods. Obviously time and distance helped, but working at a university helps too – being able to share my experiences from that dividing point in my life and career helps me remember my path.

4) Perspective. Don’t beat yourself up if you think of the perfect line after you leave the conversation. There’s a good chance your paths will cross again.

Again, this merely scratched the surface and I’m grateful for many more Sundays to continue to call out those moments that I’m most grateful for. What are you grateful for?

GONNA GO BACK IN TIME

Today being my baby sister’s birthday, when my other sister and I think of her aging, it reminds us that we do too – a bit. We instantly return to the decades of our youth remembering the crazy times we shared together or with our friends. The 80s still regularly weave their way into my world.

MIX MP3s – Before the digital age of music, we created mixed tapes as a sign of love, hate, lust – complex feelings best reflected in the angst-filled lyrics of the 80s. Newer cars don’t have cassette players so we load up music on our iPods. Between Adam Levine and One Direction you’ll find Boingo, Missing Persons, and Adam Ant recapturing my wild youth.

Pouring our heart and souls into bad recordings off the radio!

I still have a tangible response to “If You Were Here” which leads me to…

FAVORITE MOVIES – Who hasn’t spend their 20’s and 30’s (heck I’m into my 40’s) wishing for the last scene in Sixteen Candles to happen to them?

My favorite movie moment of all time!
Thanks to Faunboy for finding this photo!

I’ve loved reliving some of the “classic” films like Ferris Bueller with my kids – many will premiere in our home years from now because there were too many boobs flying around in the 80s. Right now I’m in hot pursuit of Weekend at Bernies for the comedy and the two leading men!

CLASSIC STYLES – Remember the original skinny jeans – your Jordaches? Who made a quilt out of your team jerseys? Whose high school uniform consisted of black ¾ sleeved baseball style concert jerseys and 501s?

It can be yours on eBAY! What is the value of our childhood?

Who still keeps these in the back of your closet waiting for the day that you can button the jeans again or that your jersey won’t look like a half-shirt over your belly?

NEVER BORING BOARD GAMES – I used to know a guy with the goal to purchase all of his favorite childhood board games. He hadn’t anticipated that many games stopped production so internet purchases became costly. I will only hunt for Walt Disney World’s Haunted Mansion game! With its vertical backdrop and spinning track, this game felt like a take-home version of the attraction!

For years I couldn’t find it anywhere, I thought I’d dreamed it up! FINALLY, someone has it!

Now, we must go Back to the Future so get your Flux Capacitor calibrated and take it to 88 mph.

Wait, did we figure this out correctly?

See you on the other side!

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