Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Not long after I arrived at USC in the summer of 1988, my new urban planning colleagues were abuzz over the just-released plans from our regional transportation agency to develop a subway/light rail system in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Along with the buzz was the lament that LA had perfectly good "red car" and "yellow car" systems which was declined in the 1950s as cars started to dominate.  On many weekends while he was at Caltech, my dad took the red car and buses from Pasadena to Orange County to help with matters on his family's farm.  I actually remember as a child taking what must have been among the last remaining yellow streetcars with my mother, going from my grandmother's apartment in Boyle Heights into Little Tokyo as my mother ran her Saturday errands in the early 1960s.  In my five-year-old view of the world, crossing the Fourth Street bridge over the Los Angeles River was a big journey. My mother let me push the button to ring for a stop once we got to First Street.

Once my urban planning colleagues got past the red and yellow car lament, they were particularly excited that at some in the distant future, funding gods being willing, one could take the subway from Pasadena to the USC campus.  That seemed unimaginable to me.  "Really, Susan, look at the plan!" exclaimed Dowell, who had just taken up residence in neighboring Altadena.  He pointed out the kaleidoscope of colored lines representing corridors proposed to be built over, oh, the next 25 years. 

Slowly, almost unbelievably, the LA subway lines have been built, and have worked up ridership.  The Gold Line which opened in 2003 changed our view of the world, linking Pasadena to downtown LA.  Take the Gold Line from Pasadena into Chinatown for dim sum!  Pasadena area USC students and employees started taking the Gold Line to Union Station and university shuttles to campus.  Then the Exposition Line opened last summer with stops at the main USC campus, 24 years after Dowell showed me the draft regional plan.  One could say LA beat projections.  So it truly is now possible to go from Pasadena on Gold Line, to the Red Line, to the Purple Line, to the Expo Line to campus.  Got all that?

Last summer with the opening of the Expo Line, I resolved to give LA public transit a chance.  The weak link, though, was getting from my house to a Gold Line station car-free.  I tried walking to a Pasadena shuttle bus stop; I tried buses to various Gold Line stations.  I gave up when it was averaging two hours one way, no matter what.

I've just regrouped on this resolve, deciding just to drive to the Del Mar station.  In peak hours, I've gotten the timing down to one hour each way, door-to-door.  Considering it takes 45 - 50 minutes door-to-door to drive, the time trade-off now doesn't seem so bad. I figure I am actually gaining an hour a day to read or do e-mails which I wouldn't have driving.

I'm trying to "go Metro" at least one day a week, two or three days if I can, when I don't have to stay on campus into the evenings with my MLS program.  It's a start.  And if anything, it feels great to be living the transportation dream that seemed fantastical in 1988.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

Many times I have felt blessed to have a studious, cautious child, yet never more so than today to know that Akemi is concentrating on school work and following the directions of law enforcement and university officials to stay indoors while the manhunt for the second marathon bombing suspect continues in her Boston suburb on the Cambridge side of the river.

Hearing the ambulance sirens on Monday afternoon while in class at NEC, not far from the explosion sites, brought home the reality of the situation to her and her classmates at the beginning of this week.   A colleague said to me yesterday that she has been almost obsessively refreshing her web browser for the latest updates from Boston throughout this week.  I’m finding myself doing the same thing today, in between praying for a safe resolution as quickly as possible, to put to rest the trauma of this week.  

A few weeks ago, I saw these crocuses which were just making their appearances in Akemi’s Medford neighborhood, the first heralds of spring.  I imagine that by now other flowers and trees must be blooming beautifully, in the midst of a city which today is under siege.  I look at this photo now as a reminder to remain hopeful, while petitioning for tender mercies to flow to those who have been grievously afflicted, and for protection for all.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday, April 7, 2013

When an e-mail starts out, "Not to alarm you, but. . .", you can be sure what follows will be alarming.

Wayne and Pam had been taking care of Figaro last week while I was first in Orlando speaking at a conference, and then in Boston for Akemi's recital.  Easter Sunday morning, as I was getting ready to fly out, I saw Pam's Saturday night e-mail in which she reported Figaro's head was "twisted" and his walking stilted.  She described seeing him as “startling” and later told me Fig looked like Linda Blair in "The Exorcist."

The entire flight home I worried about the condition in which I would find him.  A stray we took in (or rather, who insisted we take him in), we’re not really sure how old he is, but figure he must be at least 13 or 14 by now.  Although he has gotten clean bills of health in recent check-ups, we’ve noticed he’s definitely slowed down and has shown signs of being a “mature citizen.”

As I walked in the door, I was relieved when he came trotting up to greet me.  Thanks to Pam’s alert, I was prepared to be clinical.  Although it was nearly 1 am east coast time, I started Googling his symptoms. 

“Head tilt,” I learned, is not an uncommon phenomenon in older cats, but not without its underlying causes.  The good news scenario would be an ear infection; the not-so-good scenarios ranged from various metabolic, neurological, or immunological diseases.  I was hoping for an ear infection, but the way this household’s medical odds go, I was bracing for worse.  That night, it seemed we were both glad that he was curled up next to me under the covers.

He already was better by the time I got him to the vet, and she was able to quickly assess that he in fact has a bad ear infection.  After his battery of tests, the vet said I could take “my kid” home now.  A week later with some feline antibiotics and low-dose steroids in his system, he is acting much better, if not downright fine.  I’ve gotten quicker and neater at squirting the syringe of liquid amoxicillin into his mouth, and he seems none the wiser eating his tiny prednisone pill tucked into some kitty treats. 

Besides worrying about Figaro, I came home to the guest bathroom renovation underway and Herculean projects at the office to push forward.  This past week, I hardly had the chance to savor Akemi’s triumphal recital and being in springtime Boston. 

How like life, that the adrenaline of the current emergency pushes aside the good feelings to treasure.   Today, on a quiet, restful Sunday, I’m grateful that both of my “kids” have come through their gauntlets, and hope to get through this next week without any further alarming news.