Archive for So Thankful

Tuesday en Nueva Jork

It was 5am on a mildly cold December evening when we shivered off the minor chill in the air and unlocked the door to the second floor apartment in the walkup on 65th St.  We rented this place from a company called “Ideal Oasis” which is, in my experience, the worst short term apartment rental company ever.  DO NOT RENT FROM THEM.

As I was saying…

My friend Andrea and I had just finished “breakfast” at a diner in the city, accompanied by Jeru the Damaja (a rapper). At first I was put off by his abrasive yet quirky behavior at the bar where we ran into him but he grew on me after he told me how he actually learned to rap from his aunt and was raised around twenty – one females.  “I know females. I’m telling you!” he said to me from across the booth at the diner as we waited on our breakfast faire to arrive and soak up the alcohol in our system.

MySurreaLife Jeru the Damaja Dec 2014

When Andrea and I laid down on crunchy, squeeky mattress on top of the scratchy, once-white sheets, we both laughed at loud at the ridiculous accommodations we were staying. It was 5:30 am when I set my alarm for 11:30 the next day. Fortunately we were a bit drunk and drifted right to sleep but I did not feel rested come 11:30am.

I had a meeting to get to with Universal Attractions Agency, an agency I had been hired by earlier that month to do publicity for surrounding “Get On Up,” the James Brown biopic.  I was meeting with them about Paystr and the meeting could not have gone better. The gentlemen I spoke with understood the software I was bringing to their attention, and even better, understood the many routes they could take to use the software for huge sales growth for them and their clients.

I had brought a bag of materials (& a change of shoes!) for the meeting and now also had to cart it with me to my next stop, which was anywhere I could get some food to prep myself for the next round of drinking in store.  This time, it was to celebrate my little sister’s thirty-third birthday.  She had just moved to the city earlier that summer and had been going non-stop with work ever since.  I could not be more proud of her for her hard work and determination to do a spectacular job.

We ate and ate and ate (and drank and drank and drank) and had a WONDERFUL evening at the David Burke restaurant Kitchen.  Fortunately in my old age, I know enough to drink lots of water while drinking lots of alcohol, so by the time we left, I was barely tipsy.  Ahhh, to be a grown up, and also to know enough to eat lots of greasy food during alcohol consumption.  Below are the wines we drank that night.  The sommelier of Kitchen kindly arranged the labels from the amazing selections of wine we had that night, onto one piece of paper as memorabilia for my sister.  Awesome.com

MySurreaLife What We Drank Tuesday at David Burke Kitchen

When en NYC, eat at the best spots in town, of which, Kitchen is definitely one.

A City So Nice…

It had been just under one year since I was last in New York City. After my father’s December 13, 2013 funeral, I needed to make seriously amazing lemonade out of the terribly sour lemons life had handed by family with my father’s November 30 death. My sister showed our little girl how to make snowballs in the backyard where our father grew up. It is such a bittersweet memory seeing them running and playing where my father grew up when he wasn’t physically there with us to participate or at least watch with us.

Living in LA, I figured if my three year old “Z,” and my husband and I would be across the country in Pennsylvania for my father’s memorial, we should head even further East and take in the sights of the holiday decorations in New York City. As we drove the couple hours from where we were in Pennsylvania to New York, I told our little girl we were on our way to New York City, a place we knew well from the movie, “Buddy the Elf.” As we approached the Lincoln Tunnel, I  asked her, “do you know where we are sweet girl?” “The Lincoln Tunnel. Remember Buddy the Elf walked through here to go see his dad in the Empire State Building?” She beamed with joy and I did as well. Raising a fellow Will Ferrell fan is not difficult, but it makes me proud none the less.

We shared magical memories that trip. We made snow angels in Central Park with “Auntie Kristina,” one of my friends who lives in the city. The snow was damp, but we all made sweet snow angels and even a super cute tiny snowman. We met family from Connecticut in Rockefeller Center & had a delicious dinner with them and another friend from my college days.

Planning my trip back to the city this year, I couldn’t let Z know I was going back without her. I told me husband, and anyone else who I knew might spill the beans, that we were to only speak of me going to “The East Coast.”

I wanted to go to the city this year to spend my beautiful sister’s 33 birthday with her. Talk about outdoing my last trip when I didn’t think it possible!

Monday, December 8
I arrived into the city and met our other, surrogate older “sister” Andrea at the terrible VRBO I found online, via IdealOasis, which is anything but. Side note, don’t ever use them. I wasn’t thrilled with my apt find, but I tried not to care much as we had places to be and people to see! We weren’t going to be in the room much anyway, so I could suffer through it, or so I thought.

Andrea and I hopped in a cab and headed to mid-town to one of the restaurants my sister co-manages. We got out of the cab, barely stepped foot into the hotel where the restaurant lives when I was greeted with a football player strength tackle of a hug from my beautiful, sweet little sister Natalie. I was glad she was happy to see me as I was so very happy to finally be with her again too.

We ate like kings that night (& subsequently every night that week, but more on that later.) Lobster BLTs, a Cauliflower steak for our vegan Andrea, various wine pairings; everything was beyond delicious, and exciting. From the moment I walked in to the hotel lobby / restaurant entrance, I saw my sister in her workplace, confident and respected, working, yet loving it and that was what I really came for, to see how she was really doing, in her everyday. It was a sigh of relief for me to see her thriving in her job, and genuinely happy. Tired, but happy.

After our meal, which was one of those extremely lengthy meals because we took our time eating and talking and talking and laughing and eating and drinking, my sister invited us up to Spyglass, the rooftop bar the restaurant group also operated. She told me to walk out of the elevator, go right and just look directly ahead. Thinking nothing of it, I did what she said and was nearly knocked off my feet by the incredible view.

MySurreaLife Empire State from Spyglass Dec 2014

The top of the Empire State Building was so close we could touch it and the lights were doing something I had never seen them do before; they were dancing, in blue, white and red. Prince William and his Kate were in town and we were told the dancing lights were a tribute for them. Andrea, Natalie and I joked that we secretly knew the lights were really for our arrival into the city.

MySurreaLife Underberg at Spyglass

We had drinks at the bar Spyglass and I again watched with such pride as my sister was greeted with such respect by employees she manages. We stayed after closing time, and even after security told my sister they were leaving. I expressed my pride and amazement with her that we were in this beautiful bar with one of the most incredible views in the city, and she is so high up on the food chain that security left, leaving us there after them. My heart and soul just beamed with pride at my baby sister’s career accomplishments here in the great city of New York.

Andrea and I went to a party to meet up with one of her close friends, and my aquaintence through her, Jarobi, who is best know as a member of Tribe Called Quest and he’s also an incredible chef. Being in the city for my sister’s birthday,

I decided to also take the opportunity to schedule some business meetings for a company Andrea and I work with, Paystr. Paystr is a digital sales application for anyone who creates digital content, to sell their content on their own site.   I took the opportunity we had with Jarobi to make sure he knew about Paystr. I’m so glad we spoke to him about it as he has been in the studio recording new music and now he can sell it all by himself. #Boom

Tune in next time for Tuesday’s happenings which include waking up in a bed bug ridden bed, going to a meeting at Universal Attractions Agency, meeting my sister and a party of 6 others for an unbelievable, unforgettable dinner at David Burke Kitchen and moving from the not Ideal Oasis to my thoughtful friend’s apartment one block from Central Park.

New York Sister, Here I Come

I sat on the Virgin America flight for nearly two hours, boucing between sleep and glazed eyes watching the movie previews on the tv in front of me.  I couldn’t believe how much I already missed my four year old who I haven’t been away from for more than three days in the past nineteen months.  I’ll be away from her for six days this trip and I’m sure it will feel like more of an eternity for me than to her.  I worry about her constantly.  Is she ok?  Is she happy?  Has she had enough food?  Is she warm enough?  And these are my worries when I’m in the same city as her!  I am so blessed to have found such a good school for her, a school that can warm a lunch we pack for her daily, a school that sends us daily updates on if she ate her lunch and snacks, and even sends us a photo of her with the updates, which will really come in handy for me, being away.  I’ll get to see how her dad dressed her and if he did her hair or not.  I am laughing to myself just thinking about how much of a tom boy she’ll probably be this week, even though she is such a girly girl.

I am super excited to have a little time away though, to be able to have a drink at night and not have to wake up at the crack of dawn with her for a couple days. I’m relieved to have some adult time with my sister and a few friends I see less and less as the years go by.  I’m thankful to be visiting New York City, a city so magical this time of year.  I’m nervous about keeping warm enough.  I’m excited to have potentially huge meetings with one talent booking agency and one record label about digital sales processing for their digital content.

It is times like these that I reflect on MySurreaLife.  How blessed I am to literally have everything I’ve ever wanted.  I have a beautiful little girl who could not be more fun to be around, I have a great family, an amazing group of friends who are essentially family.

Big Rob Little Lady Jeepin

Big Rob, Little Lady

I am so blessed to have been friends for the past decade with one of the most incredible men, a man who has become my big brother.  I was introduced to “Big Rob”, as much of the world knows him, back when I was just a twenty something child (over a decade ago).  Ever since then he and I have kept in touch and in doing so, we became the best of buddies.  A time came when Big Rob needed a place to stay and I just happened to have a vacant room and so we became roommates, off and on, for the next seven years.

Big Rob is awesome, for many reasons, but mostly because he takes the time to see people in his life who matter to him.  Last year, he was in LA for work, and we planned a night of he, me and our little lady.  Ever since then, our little lady now considers Big Rob her buddy, as evidenced by the photos here.  I love that I’m able to introduce her to, and have her understand that people I introduce her to, are safe and that it is safe for her to be kind to them.

Thanks Big Rob for being the best Big Brother to me and such a wonderful Uncle to her!!!

 

Big Rob Little Lady poolside

 

 

Big Rob Little Lady Jeepin

Big Rob Little Lady

Big Rob Little Lady My SurreaLife

Beyond thankful the lives of my family were spared and I am so eternally saddened for those who cannot say the same

Every year when I’m reminded of the events thirteen years ago today, my only thought is how thankful I am for guardian angels. My mother had just been in the city, helping my sister move into her dorm (apt building) and get her ready for her sophomore year at NYU. The dorm (apt building) is in the financial district of the city, blocks from the Trade Center. My sister, mom & friends ate at Windows Of The World, atop the Trade Center the week prior to the attack . My mother stayed at a hotel that week that ended up being reconstructed from all the damage. My mom left NYC the day (?) before the attack.

My sister and her colleagues were homeless for two weeks after September 11. When they arrived back to their place, their things were covered in ash. When they left their place for classes that day, they had left their windows open. I am so thankful, everyday, but especially today, that the lives of my family were spared and I am so eternally saddened for those who cannot say the same.

After ten years of living in other states in this great country, my sister moved back to the one and only New York City.  Not a day goes by that I don’t worry about her.  Not a day goes by that I don’t forget how proud I am of her overcoming many difficult challenges in her life, including this hard time in her life.  She has moved her career to new heights, and seems incredibly happy doing what she does.  Not a day goes by that I don’t stop to think how thankful I am for my siblings, my family, my family of friends and to be grateful for how important each day is.

‪#‎Remember‬ ‪#‎September11th‬  ‪#‎MySurreaLife‬ ‪#‎SoThankful‬

MySurreaLife TBT Sept 11 didn't take them

Since September 11 happens to fall on a Thursday this year, I am posting this #TBT photo to accompany my written portion of the post. #SoThankfulThisDayDidntTakeThem

 

Growing Older Does Not Suck, and Other Inevitable Realizations

There was a point in time, not so very long ago, when i was really having a hard time with the realization that I was in my mid-thirties and not getting any younger.  I was a bit mad coming to realize that my body couldn’t recover from drinking alcohol like I could in my twenties.  I was not terribly joyous when we were on the hunt for a single family home. I loved the condo we lived in for the past few years, a condo I bought as a single person seven years ago and I wasn’t yet ready to move.

Our daughter’s school had offered to stay open, for extra money of course, late the Friday night before mothers day. So sweet & so something we jumped at. My man and I went to dinner and a movie. We saw the Seth Rogan film, “The Neighbors.”  It was raunchy, hysterical and actually really sweet. I felt like their dilemma was on course with mine; new house, new parents seeing young people partying & being slightly sad and mad about the fact that they could no longer be living that lifestyle.  The end was a scene with the two new parents in bed together. Seth Rogan’s character said something to his wife the effect of enjoying their private party in their house and how that’s the party he’d rather be at. It really struck a chord with me.

MySurreaLife Mother's Day delivery

Plants received at my door for Mother’s Day, from my mom and siblings. Thanks guys!

That past week was nonstop, 12 hour days of hard work. Monday and Tuesday I worked with the talent flow team at the Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon. Those were long, hot days working with talent including Jason Derulo, Jordin Sparks, Fallout Boy, Kevin Frazier, American Authors and others.  The talent were all super easy and nice to work with but it was a television production, and those all have so many facets to make sure work together; they were long days of work.

MySurreaLife Jason Derulo Jordin Sparks MDA Telethon 2014

Jordin Sparks and Jason Derulo doing an interview with an MDA ambassador at the 2014 MDA Telethon at the Hollywood Palladium

We had scheduled movers to come Wednesday to move us out of our condo to our new house a few miles away. There was a heat wave rolling through Los Angeles that week, and it was 100 degrees that day.  Not that I was moving heavy furniture or anything, but doors were open, heat was everywhere, was directing traffic, and it was another long, hot, productive day.

Thursday was spent working my “main job” as a house manager readying two homes for arrivals. Another long day of work, I came home to a house filled with boxes to unpack & a child to feed and bathe. Im not complaining at all, in fact I am very aware of how blessed I am to have a house, food and a beautiful child to raise. However, it is all exhausting to this thirty something me.

Friday morning I headed to the fantastically small Bob Hope Burbank airport to catch an equally fantastically short hour long flight to Las Vegas to work with talent flow for the Billboard Music Awards. I had never worked this show and i had always wanted to attend the show growing up. I was excited to go to Vegas and excited to be around my work colleagues, not have to drive, not have to cook and not have to worry about unpacking for a couple of days.

While in line to board the flight, I stood behind a group of twenty somethings en route to Vegas for one of their bachelorette party. They were talking about what they were all wearing and how to drink to be able to keep drinking and not pass out. Their plans were clearly so much different than mine, but our excitement was likely quite parallel and that was when it hit me how much I love my life in my mid-thirties.  When I was their age I loved doing all the things they were pumped to do.

MySurreaLife Tom Green Southwest Airlines

Tom Green, asleep on the Southwest Airlines flight we were on from Las Vegas to Burbank. Creepy to take a picture of someone asleep, I know, but I couldn’t resist. “Your bum is on my lips.”

Right now, I am thrilled to be on a plane back home from Vegas, not in the slightest bit hungover, on the flight with Tom Green, some of my colleagues at the show, and the dancers of the Michael Jackson hologram performance.

MySurreaLife Carrie Underwood Miranda Lambert

Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert hanging out after the 2014 Billboard Music Awards

MySurreaLife Miranda Lambert Wanda the Wanderer Airstream

The interior of “Wanda the Wanderer,” Miranda Lambert’s airstream tour trailer

I am excited to have stood around the day before, after the Billboard Music Awards show, amidst Miranda Lambert and her airstream Wanda the Wanderer, Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan.  

MySurreaLife Wanda the Wanderer Miranda Lambert

Wanda the Wanderer and her awesome gynormous tiara

MySurreaLife Wanda the wanderer Miranda Lambert Blake Shelton Luke Bryan

Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan and Miranda Lambert standing around after the 2014 Billboard Music Awards by “Wanda the Wanderer,” the tour trailer of Miranda Lambert.

Of all of that, I was most excited at how gorgeous the sky looked that evening.

MySurreaLife Las Vegas Skies

The gorgeous sky in Las Vegas, May 2014

I am excited to go unpack more boxes and get our new house together.  I cannot wait to go pick up our little girl from school and take her to the park. This is totally the party I want to be at right now. I’m so thankful to have been to the other parties, the drinking parties and I’m so thankful to be at the party that is my mid-thirties life.

Adventures in Aspen

When you have the time and money to go to Aspen, I STRONGLY recommend doing it.  Make sure you bring extra money just for the food and drinks in that town.  I have not consistently eaten as  well as I ate in Aspen the four days I was there.  Wow wow wow.  Can’t say enough good things about the food & beverage industry there.

My sister has lived in Aspen and worked in the restaurant industry for the past seven years.  She has been a sommelier for the past four years and she really kicks ass at what she does.  I went with her when she went to test for one of her sommelier tests and that process seemed completely brutal to me.  It’s a three day long test, covering more information that I could ever hope to make time to read about, much less study and retain.  It makes sense everything they study; their educated opinions on the selections they chose have never been less that extraordinary to my meagerly educated self.  When I went with her to this test, it was held in Vegas.  That night we ate at Jean Georges, which, in and of itself, is an amazing restaurant, but we ate with three of her colleagues who had also just taken the test and the wines and champagnes they ordered to accompany the food we had was beyond incredible.  I am a lightweight in the drink department, and I drank 4-5 glasses of various wines and champagnes which would typically make me sick, but the next day I was not the slightest bit hungover.  #Score. I digress.

MySurreaLife Snow Piled High in Aspen

Back to Aspen.  It was cold.  The snow was PILED high (see above) but it was beautiful; sunny skies and beautiful scenery. My sister, being so connected in the restaurant scene in Aspen, was able to get us reservations to accommodate our times and the number of people in our relatively small parties this past February.  The first night we went to an amazing steakhouse, whose street address is 316, and is therefore aptly named Steakhouse 316.  My sister had worked there two weeks prior to us going so when she walked in, it was like she came home to a living room full of family happy to see her.  We got a great table right by the door, albeit a bit too large for our party of 5.  We sat down at a table where my back was facing the entrance.  We got settled and placed our drink orders.  My brother was seated facing the door.  When I saw the look of complete joy and surprise on his face, I nearly broke my neck to see what he saw.  To my siblings and my surprise, my mother, being the master planner of surprises, had one of our uncles and one of our cousins surprise us by coming up to Aspen from Grand Junction.

The table for seven made sense now.  Needless to say, the company was outstanding, the service and ambiance incredible and the food?  It really was everything and more.  I have a few food intolerance issues and am “that person” at the table who needs to make sure things are cooked in this and not that. Not only did the chef and the servers know exactly what my food intolerances are, the food tasted incredible, even the food I could eat!  It is not the easiest task to cook tasty food that is also gluten and dairy free.

MySurreaLife Kickin it in Aspen MySurreaLife Dog Days in Aspen

The next day we toodled around town.  I saw a dog thoroughly enjoying being outside and a cute “artsy” statue in a window of an art gallery.  My mom’s super fun friend who was walking with me named the masterpiece “kickin it.”  I burst into laughter.  Right on Sharlee, right on.

MySurreaLife shopping at JCrew in Aspen

Trying on a shirt at JCrew that I ended up buying (& loving!)

 

I bought a shirt for my husband, and a few things for myself and on the way to catch the free bus back to my sister’s cute little apartment, I saw this amazing sunset.  I am so thankful I was able to snap a photo of how gorgeous those colors were.  Two minutes later it was gone.

MySurreaLife Sunset in Aspen

That night, we went to eat at another restaurant that my sister used to work at. Again, incredible food, amazing service and the most fun, HUGE, square ice cubes I’ve ever seen!

MySurreaLife Ice Cube at Jimmy's

The next day I was due to leave to go home to LA.  I checked the local Aspen tv station with the flight information and saw that my flight status was “on-time.”  I got to the tiny airport, sat at the gate and sat at the gate for the next four hours while other flights continued to arrive and depart.  The incoming flight that was due to be our outbound flight was having too much trouble landing in the wind of the Valley.  Understandable. Better safe than sorry.  They finally cancelled our flight, I called my mother and her friend who were still in town and they picked me up and we all went to dinner with my sister and our cousin at another amazing restaurant, one that my sister has not worked at, not yet at least! Matsuhisa is a Japanese restaurant that is outstanding, but I had only ever eaten there before I knew I was gluten intolerant which was why my mother and sister had planned to go there after I left.

Being in the service industry in as small of a town that Aspen is, my sister knows everyone, almost literally.  We sat down, she and our server greeted each other with friendly hugs and she explained to him my food intolerances.  He responded that they had many options available that I could eat, and I began to invision a plate of sashimi, chopped vegetables and a salad with no dressing.  That is typically what I have to order at Japanese restaurants.  Boy was I WRONG.  I don’t believe I have EVER eaten such amazingly tasty, melt in your mouth food that was free of gluten, dairy, yeast and pork.  The food and beverage industry in Aspen is absolutely incredible.

At the end of the night, as we were getting up to leave, my cousin’s necklace got caught in the fancy table.  Funny ending to a great night.

MySurreaLife Dinner in Aspen

The next day I went back to the airport, alongside Robert Wagner.  This is not the first time I’ve been on an Aspen to LAX flight with him.  My sister is coincidentally named after Natalie Wood.  Serendipitous or just a grand coincidence for me to have just spent a lovely week with his “love’s” namesake and BAM, there he is, Mr. Number 2.

MySurreaLife Robert Wagner

I got to the tiny boarding area and went to buy a ridiculously expensive bottle of water when I saw the cover of that month’s Vanity Fair magazine.  There they were, some the people I was about to be around when I got back to LA.  Thank-you life/universe for prepping me for what was about to come; more of MySurreality.

MySurreaLife February Vanity Fair cover Aspen Airport

#ForeverThankful & #Grateful

Leaving A Legacy

Aspen is one of those places that cannot be mimicked by anywhere else, regardless the effort.  It is a tiny town, sporadically but consistently filled with hugely inflated egos of the wealthy who were there scattered between the incredible, humble, fun loving, kind, tight knit community of locals that keep the place running.

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Due to Aspen’s 11,000 ft elevation and geography of being in a mountain valley, it is difficult to get to and difficult to leave. Due to my history there over the course of my life, it has also been difficult for me to go there and more recently, difficult for me to leave.

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Our family lived full time in Phoenix for my sister and my childhoods.  We annually escaped the summer heat of Phoenix that is comparable to living on the sweet face of the sun.  As soon as school was out for the summer, we would pack a van full of children, pets and luggage and drive the 16 hour treck to Aspen. I’m fairly certain my mother was always drawn to Aspen for the memories there with my biological father who died when I was four.  She re-married and had my sister by the time I was five and in the three and a half decades of my life experiencing my mother and step father’s toxic relationship, maybe six times do I remember them ever getting along for an extended period of time, like really getting along. This made for extremely stressful family time and consequently, stressful times in Aspen.

Family time was often spent in Aspen hence my anxious relationship with the small mining turned celebrity/uber wealthy town. Having to go to Aspen with my family, my siblings and I, and anyone else who were with us and knew our family well were all always on edge waiting for one of our parents to freak out over god knows what.  It was a toxic environment to be around.  Having celebrities in our midst made it a somehow easier Aspen pill to swallow. It also gave me something not as depressing to talk about when people asked how my time in Aspen was.

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The duality of Aspen to me, full and rich according to the looks of most people there, like the trees on the left while also bare and cold like the trees on the right

This past November, my father passed away. He was technically my step father but I never considered him a step father, probably mostly because I don’t remember my biological father but also because my step father never ever treated me like anything but his daughter. He took care of me in every way a father should care for his daughter. He played with us, he took us to amusement parks, he financially took care of our every want and need.

He was my dad.

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Our father was a brilliant man. He started what is now the largest opthalmology practice in Arizona. He was a notable Opthalmologist, literally known the world over, in that field, for his contributions to opthalmology, of which include founding an annual opthalmology meeting in Aspen. For the past thirty years, doctors and opthalmology business owners from across the country, maybe even the world, have come to continue their education in the field of opthalmology, while also enjoying a week in the beauty and luxury of winter in Aspen.

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My younger brother and sister and I were asked to present the annual award given out to a recipient that the board of the meeting feels best contributed to the field of opthalmology and also to the annual meeting over the past year.

We were asked to briefly speak about our father. We did, emotionally.  We also compiled a six minute video presentation, a very condensed look back at his life in pictures. The 6 minute version was mostly of his professional past, photos from his college graduation and lifelong achievements that include incredible feats such as winning back to back NCAA tumbling championships, being an opthalmologist to the stars and a revered medical business owner.  There was not a dry eye in the room once the presentation concluded.  It had clearly struck a nerve with the two hundred people in attendance.

We three children and our mother talked about the crowd’s response later and we all agree it made us feel good to have shown his business colleagues a bit of his personal life. It was painful for me to see all of his colleagues there and know I would never again see him there.  It is a painful reality I will carry for awhile.

We thanked everyone for keeping our father’s vision (haha) of this meeting so alive and so strong by continuing to attend. He would be so proud to see what it has evolved into.

Not having him around to talk to anymore, reflecting on his life so much these past few months and coming to the opening night of the annual meeting he founded has really made me realize that in the midst of all of our trials and tribulations, we can still create our dream careers and leave long lasting legacies.

I have always been so inspired by his many accomplishments and I never let an opportunity go by that I didn’t tell him so. I am so thankful for all he did for me, and for the example he set with his generosity and belief in people. He gave a lot of people, including me, lots of chances to follow their dreams, whatever they were.  I will be forever grateful for the positive contributions he made to so many people’s lives.  I wanted to stay and attend a few of the seminars at the annual meeting, but I didn’t. It is a torn feeling, trying to keep a loved ones legacy alive while working to find closure with their passing.

May we all live our dreams and leave lasting contributions to the world we love.

Thanks for reading this :)

Being *only minorly* Affected By the Shooting at LAX

After months of planning, the time was upon us to pack our bags and get ready to go to Maui.  I had arranged for my supermely capable aunt to fly into LA the day before we left to see how a day in our life operates and to implement the consistency for our three year old in the coming few days we would be gone.

At the nail salon getting my nails done the day before we left, I overhead one of the nail techs talking about how LAX was closed because of a shooting.

“Great,” I thought to myself as I came to start worrying about how this turn of events would likely affect the majority of the rest of my day, and possibly my entire week ahead. The flight my aunt was on was supposed to land at LAX in just under an hour from when I heard the news. Her flight was scheduled to land not 2 hours after the incident. There I sat waiting, debating if I should still have these last few nails polished or if i should immediately race out the door and down to what was sure to be quite a scene at LAX.

I waited for the rest of my nails to be polished, paid and got in my car. Before getting on the road I called a colleague I work with who is also a former LAX police officer. I explained my situation and asked him if he could ask anyone he still knows there if my aunt’s flight would be landing and if I would be able to get to my aunt once at LAX. He told me he would call around and call me back.

I started my car and made my way down the 405 to LAX.  My colleague called me back and said the airport was closed, flights weren’t arriving or departing and that no one was allowed into the airport. I thanked him but stayed en route, hoping somehow his colleagues were wrong.

I then got on the phone with United airlines to see if her flight had been diverted. After ten minutes of menus and selections, I was able to speak with someone in reservations who told me her flight was on time. I asked if i would be able to pick her up from the airport. The person on the other line was definitely in a call centee overseas. I ground my teeth as she read from her script and again told me how the flight was on time to arrive at LAX.

Too nervous to be much nicer, I told her there was a shooting, I heard the airport was closed and asked her to check with her supervisor to see if people were able to pick up arriving passengers at the airport. She placed me on hold for a couple minutes at most and assured me her flight was due to arrive on time and that I would be able to pick her up.

Sure enough, in the miles before the exits to the airport, there were signs stating, “airport closed.”

“What am I supposed to do?!” I thought in a minor panic. “If I can’t get my aunt today, we can’t leave tomorrow and all our plans we’ve been working on for months will be all for not. How and why would someone waltz into an airport and start shooting people? Why can’t we all just be happy and not hurt each other?!” Sigh. These were my thoughts as I pulled off the freeway, onto Sepulveda and put my foot on the brakes.

MySurreaLife Sirius Satellite Navigation LAX gridlock LAX shooting

There were red taillights everywhere; stopped cars as far as I could see. People were waiting everywhere for someone to have any sort of information about arriving & departing passengers and how we were supposed to get them and if people’s flights would be leaving that day. While in the line of stopped cars, I called the LAX airport information line but after two rings it said, “all circuits busy,” and dropped the call. I called again to see if I might get a different response. I didn’t.

MySurreaLife Sepulveda closed LAX shooting

As I inched closer to the airport, the scene was surreal in a very unsettling way. Of the ten minutes I had been in the vicinity of LAX, I had only seen one plane land, and five helicopters hovering over the typically otherwise restriced airspace. I sat in the line of traffic on Sepulveda, in front of In-N-Out burger and saw, on the grassy area between the burger joint and the road, about 50 people with luggage, sitting around talking, pointing, scratching their heads, literally and figuratively.

MySurreaLife LAX shooting grassy area

I saw about 10 flight attendants grouped together in their pressed white shirts, blue pants and uniform scarves. I saw a couple take towels out of their suitcase and use it for a makeshift picnic area. The man laid down & put on his shades. The woman sat cross legged and took out a magazine.  Everyone was so calm, even with the handful of news trucks in the background and the helicopters buzzing overhead.

I called my aunt, hoping she’d landed somewhere by now. The call went directly to voice mail so I sent her a text asking her to call me when she lands so we can figure out what to do from there. Not too long after I sent her the text, I drove away towards Marina Del Rey, just to escape the other, many confused people almost on top of each other for lack of information about where else we should all go.

I drove towards MDR and turned around at the first stop light.  I didn’t want to go too far in case she made it in and in case we would be allowed to go into the airport to pick up arriving passengers.

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As I waited, my phone chirped.  My aunt texted back saying they had arrived into LAX but were waiting for a gate. I had no idea if the passengers were given information about what had happened. I asked her to call me if and when should could.

She called. I told her what had happened and told her how the airport was completely closed and that it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to drive onto the property to pick her up. I told her I would wait at one of the parking lots hoping that the police might be allowing shuttle buses to bring people out. Then I saw a shuttle bus driver who confirmed that even they couldn’t go in or out.

My aunt called back when she had her luggage and said there were no cars or busses anywhere in the airport. I tried to imagine the scene. It seemed too unreal to believe. She said she would start walking towards Sepulveda and that if they started allowing cars inside or at least along Sepulveda that she would look for my car & hop in if she saw me. I told her I was going to leave the parking area and go stay at in-n-out and wait for her. I had to pay $6.00 for the 20 minutes I was in the parking area. It drives me crazy that in times of crisis business owners can’t lend the smallest hand and give people a pass.

Miraculously I found a parking space at In-N-Out so I parked, grabbed my phone and started walking towards the airport. The weather had reached the low 80s. I didn’t want my aunt to have to pull her suitcase any longer than she already had. As I crossed the crosswalk onto an eerily empty Sepulveda, my phone rang. My aunt was in the parking lot at In-N-Out! I turned around, crossed the street again and was offered a bottle of cold Arrowhead water from a young man with cases full. A news reporter came up and said, “ok, i’ll take one. How much?”  “Oh, these are free,” he said, grabbing as many as he could and handing them out as fast as he could.  I didn’t ask who they were provided by, I just took one for my aunt, thanked him and kept heading back towards where she was waiting.

I’m always happy to see this aunt but I have never been more relieved to see her face standing with her suitcase in the parking lot at In-N-Out. We gave each other huge, sweaty hugs, I gave her the bottle of cold water and we made our way to my car and back to the Valley.

Before going to sleep that night my fiance had the brilliant idea to try to check us in and see if we would be able to or if our flight was somehow delayed due to the incident at LAX.  I was able to check us in online without a problem, but I called the airline just to be sure we wouldn’t have any surprises at the airport.  Sure enough, the airline assured us we could check in as we would have any other day, but to get there a bit early, just to be sure.

We arrived early and drove by the eerie scene of terminal 3.  The windows were covered and there were police cars lined up, about 10-12 deep. I was very thankful we weren’t departing out of terminal 3, that our flight was able to leave without delay only one day after the entire airport was shut down and mostly, I was thankful that my aunt was able to get into and out of the airport without major incident.  I feel truly blessed that, although we were minorly affected by the incident, it was only a convenience of time factor and nothing more.

My aunt and I have a great joke about walking to and from LAX now. When I took her back she asked if I could take her all the way to the terminal and not drop her at In-N-Out, even though she knew she could walk that distance with a suitcase.

I love all parts of my surreal life, even the nerve wracking parts!  Being able to remember the nerve wracking times in my life truly makes the easy parts that much more enjoyable for me.  So thankful, for everything.

Serendipity Is Super Surreal

Putting it off for months, last week I finally decided to get in gear and find something to wear for my very fast approaching wedding. It’s not really a wedding, more of a marriage ceremony; just the two of us.  We have everything lined up; the officiant, the photographer and the location but neither of us have any idea what we are going to wear…until today!

I went shopping last week, to no avail.  Today I was worried the same would happen, but voila…I found what I will be wearing and there is such a huge weight lifted off my shoulders because of it!  When I got to the store today, randomly (not randomly?) they set me in front of dressing room 28, which just so happens to be the date of my birth.  I tried a few things on, none of which really were striking my fancy and I started to get frustrated, especially when a song came on the store’s sound system, a song that my fiance’s boss sings.

A mere 3 hours later, my outfit was purchased and pinned to be altered to fit me juuuust right, like a soft, beautiful bear bed for Goldilocks.  Upon arriving home not long after the successful trip to the store, a box had been delivered outside our front door.  OMG!  Our wedding bands!!! The bands custom ordered for us through an out of state connection had arrived.  Outfit, check. Wedding bands, check check.  Same day, check check check.  Feels soo good to have these boxes getting all checked off with time to spare!

I LOVE when breathing comes easier.