Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Vegas Bowl

I drove with Vic to SLC today. We made it just in time to watch the BYU-UCLA game! My dad, mom, and two brothers joined my grandmother and uncle's family in screaming for a good 2 hours or so. I was torn in my loyalties. I've grown up a BYU football fan my entire life. Both of my parents graduated from there, I was born a BYU baby--for heaven's sake. But let's face it, UCLA writes my paycheck. Do I really want to jinx that while I'm waiting for 2 checks to come through from them? Hmm. I realized I was still a Cougar at heart the minute the game began. We were elated most of the game... until the last couple minutes... and with 3 seconds left, BYU tipped a field goal attempt by UCLA and won the game by one point!

The reactions were priceless. My dad jumped off the couch faster than I did when I realized my house was burning, screamed, and jumped up and down; my grandmother had a slightly delayed reaction—but when she figured out what was going on, she threw her popcorn-brimmed bowl up into the air and onto everyone in the room... which then proceeded into an all-out popcorn fight amongst all the ADULTS in the room; and let's just say I lost my voice after screaming so loud! Yes, it was a Kodak and MasterCard Moment in one... unforgettable and priceless. What a combo.

UCLA wide receiver Dominique Johnson gets hit by BYU defensive back Ben Criddle during the first half of the Las Vegas Bowl football game Saturday, Dec. 22, 2007, in Las Vegas. Johnson dropped the ball after the hit, and the pass was incomplete. (AP Photo/Sam Morris)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Almost Finished!!!

In 16 minutes, my last final will begin. I'm sitting in the classroom, waiting. I don't feel excited, relieved, or anxious. The only thing I can think of is how hungry and tired I am. This entire weekend (sans church and the gingerbread house-making party last night) was spent in agony at my kitchen table, feverishly trying to finish a final project, due at 3:00pm today. I didn't quite make it... I ran into class at 4:00pm. I blame it on my cultural upbringings of Mormon Standard Time. Luckily I was able to present my final project to the class, albeit extremely late! Oh well. I don't even care at this point. Six finals down and one to go!!! YAY!!! After 9:00pm you may call me Bachelor.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Short and sweet

I had been unusually depressed and lonely a couple weeks ago. It was awful. I babysat that night—hoping to distract myself from the all-consuming misery and woe I felt. Nothing particularly special happened as I got the two little boys bathed and ready for bed. The oldest fell asleep quickly, but the two year old needed a little more attention. I laid down near him and he scooted up next to me. I closed my eyes and realized I was still utterly depressed. I wanted to cry. Then a tiny little hand popped out from under his blanket and lovingly rubbed my arm until he fell asleep. It was so sweet and innocent. I immediately thanked my Heavenly Father for such a perfect little tender mercy, while wiping away the tears.

I'm not one to share personal things like that, but for some reason I keep thinking about it. This little experience reminds me of the movie Crash. It's one of only three movies that I can say changed the way I view my life and those around me. I highly recommend watching this film if you haven't done so already. The edited version is regularly shown on FX. Moving at the speed of life, we are bound to collide with each other.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

From my balcony...

When thinking of balconies, I usually picture myself sitting on a lanai, bathing in the perfect Hawaiian sun, reading a good book, and sipping on cold Cranberry Juice. Ok, maybe I lost most of you with the cranberry juice, but even so... balconies always have a nice feeling associated with them for me. Not anymore.

Many interesting things have been happening on my balcony lately. Last night greatly reiterates this point. Let me begin by saying that we, as an apartment, have been overly-aware of the goings-on around our apartment building since the fires. The temperature last night was close to freezing (a rarity here in LA) and I didn't want our homeless man to show up and start another fire to keep warm. Sad, but true... I like my apartment... I'd like to keep it from being reduced to charcoal.

At midnight, Kami came running up the stairs to see what was going on below. She had heard the familiar sound of bottles and cans being sorted (a favorite past-time of our uninvited neighbor). We both walked out onto the balcony, but didn't see anything out of the ordinary in the burned-out garage... when all of the sudden... CRASH! We look across the street and a Ford Explorer totally smashed into the front of a Mazda RX-8. There were no cars around... no stop signs... nothing... obviously drunk or just NOT paying attention to the PARKED car! The Ford Explorer then proceeds to drive forward, but can't... it REVERSES and gets even more STUCK to the side of that poor little car!!! Now, if this were you... wouldn't you stop and get some help? Get out to see how much damage was done before you do MORE?! No. Not this driver. They DRIVE OFF!!! Kami and I look at each other in my all-too-familiar tone, "Is this REALLY happening?"

I couldn't get the license plate number from where we were, so I grabbed a paper and pen and we literally booked it down to the garage, jumped into the Batmobile and sped off after the felon! Can you believe us?! Someone should be paying us to be the neighborhood watch. Seriously.

We found her, about 2 blocks down, checking out the damage to her SUV. I quickly wrote down the plates as Kami pretended to be looking for a parking spot. We heroically drove back home. Just as we were getting out of the car, the guy who owns the Mazda walked out of the apartment building. He was in shock as we reiterated what we had just witnessed and done! I handed him the paper and we went back upstairs. We're such good Samaritans. Goodness... what a night!

Oh, don't worry, it only gets better.

The reason I was mildly paranoid about another fire being started last night, not just because I really love my bed, but that our Renter's Insurance wouldn't go into effect until the next day. Thus, at 3:20am, after a full day of awful finals and chasing hit-and-run criminals, I finished up my homework and I was heading to bed when I heard the chain link fence being messed with. I peered out the blinds—the same blinds used to discover the two fires and car accident. It wasn't Mr. Homeless Man. No, it was three men this time... dressed in black, their pick-up truck parked next to the abandoned house and burnt garage, sneaking through the chain-link fence that was "conveniently" laying on its side, sprinting into the back of the house, grabbing boxes, tables, chairs, lamps, and more boxes... anything they could carry and chucking it into the back of their truck! (They even had a "look out guy"!)

NO WAY!! NOT ANOTHER "Is this seriously happening to me?" MOMENT!

I was actually watching a burglary in progress. HOLY CRAP! I immediately called the police (who took their sweet time in arriving, btw). The robbers were kind enough to wait around a few minutes for the police to show up as they were forced to jump-start their get-away vehicle! But alas, they got away, free and clean. A minute later, two LAPD helicopters were overhead, spotlights on, searching for the bandits. I was still on the phone with the dispatcher as the the cops arrived. They wanted to chat with me. So I headed downstairs, chatted for a while (he remembered me from our last late-night fire experience a week ago), and went back up to my nice warm apartment. Why do all the hot cops work at night?! Share the wealth! "Come On!" ( GOB-esque style, for you Arrested Development fans.)

Where do I live?! What is going on with this place? We laughed about it over dinner tonight as we celebrated Jenny's birthday at PF Chang's. It was a fabulous night. I'll post pictures later.

Then it happened. Kami ran upstairs after going to bed, saying she heard the chain-link fence again. Déja vu? I wish. No... I heard it too. We peaked through the blinds, again, and beheld a work-truck, filled to the brim with junk. It had backed into the fence, which knocked it completely over. Pony-tail haired man parked his truck and dashed off down the street, still backed into the fence. WHAT THE HECK?! Can we say suspicious?! After deliberation, Yes. I called the police, again. I gave the dispatcher the history of all the weird things that have been going and told her, as we laughed, that I really don't ever call 911, but in the past two weeks, I've gotten my money's worth. A couple minutes later the guy quickly slipped back into the truck and took off.

I didn't pay much attention to the cops this time. I was busy adding old HS friends on Facebook, and too involved in a debate about being happy vs. being content as singles. But that's another story.

Is it wrong to admit that I'm a little exhausted from all the, "Is this seriously happening to me?" moments in my life lately? I told Gero Student I thought the property next door was cursed. He called me Mrs. Kravitz. He's probably right.

At least we have renter's insurance... charred balconies and all.

Friday, December 7, 2007

City Girl Aprons

I received an email tonight from an old friend in the LA 1st ward. She just designed her first line of super chic City Girl Aprons and they're now on sale! I LOVE THEM, they're just adorable. What a great, untapped market! These will make fantastic Christmas presents for my mom and grandmother. (Let's hope they're not reading this! If so, Merry Christmas! Which one would you like?!)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Stop, Drop, and Roll!!!

We had a new neighbor move into the abandoned single-car garage just below our townhouse balcony 2 months ago. The homeless man was no longer homeless... good for him! Not so good for us. It really didn't bother me until he began sorting glass and aluminum bottles from 2:00am-5:30am practically every night! Courtney and Kami and I all have bedroom windows—large windows—that open up to his little oasis of noise. Uhh. It was annoying, but we dealt with it.

Fast forward to Monday, November 26th, at about 1:30pm. I was getting ready to go to school when I heard this strange noise. I looked for Meg (the cat), thinking she was playing with some type of crinkly-plastic stuff or something. I didn't see her. Then I realized it was coming from outside. I parted the blinds to find HUGE FLAMES about an arms-length away from me... and I was on the 4th floor!!! It took a few seconds to process. HOLY CRAP!

For the second time in less than a month, I was having a "NO WAY... THIS IS NOT HAPPENING MOMENT"!!! The nerd that I am, I have a "fire drawer" (where I keep my passport, journals, birth certificate, etc. all in one place). I literally hurled all of it (and my iPod and computer) into an empty laundry basket, ran down the stairs from my bedroom, forgot I wasn't wearing shoes, grabbed the first pair I saw (Kami's really comfy sandals from Kauai), screamed like bloody murder for Jenny (who I thought was downstairs, but wasn't), and looked under the couch for the cat (still didn't see her) all within about 20 seconds. Not kidding.

By the time I opened the front door to the hallway, my entire apartment was filled with light gray smoke. I opened the door to the fire escape staircase (I was on the third floor at this point) and it was even smokier and thick in there. AHH! I looked down the hallway and it was perfectly clear down by the elevator. So I did exactly what I've always been told NOT to do!

Yes, call me an idiot, but I took the elevator down to the lobby and ran outside! Just then the fire alarms in our building started going off. GREAT. Those are helpful!!! By the time I got outside, three large firetrucks were already putting out the blaze on my new neighbor's "house" (aka- abandoned garage). I leerily put my laundry basket of valuables down and walked over to the firemen. They assured me they'd put the fire out before it penetrated inside my apartment. By that point our two balconies on the 3rd and 4th floors were burned... not ruined, but definitely blackened.

As I walked back, I noticed someone familiar across the street. He was hiding behind some bushes, watching the flames burn down his "home". I was enraged. I ran over to the closest fireman and police officer and told them the situation. As soon as my nice little neighbor saw me talking with them, he bolted... roller-suitcase and all! The police officer turned and sprinted after him. Thank heavens. He was questioned, but eventually released.

My poor roommates. I called each of them, frantically telling them what was going on. Kami drove up about 15 minutes later, just in time to see the firemen climbing onto her bedroom balcony from their cool firetruck ladder and prying open her sliding door to make sure everything was ok inside our place. I told them to find the cat too... poor thing. (Thinking back on this experience, it's oo bad Max and Miles weren't around to see the firemen in real action! They would have LOVED it!)

After an hour of getting to know our actual neighbors VERY well, we were able to go back inside and begin the airing-out process. Yuck. I feel completely indebted to all the firemen who saved our apartment!!! Honestly... if they had been even 1-2 minutes later in arriving, apartment 304 would have been the first to go. Crazy, huh?

Fast forward again 5 days. It's 1:15am after an exhausting ward Christmas Party. The roar of fire engines grabs our attention as they get louder and louder. Oh yes... they've again stopped right out front. I cautiously walk out on the balcony to find the firemen investigating THE SAME GARAGE! Kami and I ran outside (in our hot pajamas) to see what all the commotion was about. A woman walking her dogs witnessed the same homeless man setting a fire underneath the charred (former) vintage car that was parked inside. The side of the garage was again on fire, but easily put-out. The police arrived and we had a nice little talk with them as they interrogated the guy. Oh yes folks... he was still standing there, sorting bottles and cans! UH!

To make this VERY long story shorter:

1. we are getting renter's insurance ASAP
2. chain-link fences have never looked more beautiful (just put-up yesterday!)
3. homeless man still comes by to sort bottles--on the sidewalk--
but now we call the police each time we see him (per the hot cop we chatted with)
4. the certified letter sent to our landlord made them quite nervous.
I have a feeling that things will be a little safer and look a little nicer
around here VERY soon...

Let's hope this is the end of our Fire Saga!

From this view, you can see the 3rd, 4th, and 5th floors of our townhouse... with the two burned balconies. Oh, and did you notice the blanket laid over the top of the charred car? These photos were taken just after the first big fire. The "resident" was already back and marking his territory. Craziness!!!