Monday, January 27, 2014

Leaving Los Angeles

I recently saw a buzzfeed-ish article going around Facebook about what it's like to move away from Southern California. Some of it rang true and some of it made me laugh. But I thought I could do one better. Maybe it won't be as universal, but it will be much more therapeutic for me, as I face another week of sub-zero temperatures.

Ten Things You'll Miss When You Leave L.A. 

1. Mexican Food

Tacos de Lenga. Que delicioso!
Finding a good mexican restaurant became my obsession when we first moved to Brooklyn. We lived in a latino neighborhood, but every restaurant we tried was very disappointing. We were especially confused by all the ones that claimed to serve Chinese AND Mexican food. (Chimichungas that taste like egg rolls, our friends discovered.) I'll never forget the day we were driving to IKEA and we passed the ball fields near the projects in Red Hook and I saw . . . taco trucks! Taco trucks! I made Adam pull over and we got huaraches and pupusas. Oh happy day! It was like being home.

2. Espanol

I used Spanish in the workplace all the time when I lived in the west. Sometimes the Hispanoblantes would be a little surprised, but in So Cal, you have to know a little Spanish to get by. When we moved to Brooklyn, every time I'd try speaking Spanish to my vecinos, they would look at me like I was loco in the cabeza and then answer back in English. Even Angelinos who didn't take four years of high school Spanish (the fools), throw in words here and there. And the rest of the country would be wise to catch up. Salsa has ousted ketchup as the #1 condiment in America. Espanish is here to estay. 

3. Smog

Okay, you won't miss it, but you will miss whining about it. Someone was complaining to me once about the bad air quality in New Jersey. I just looked at them like they were crazy. I mean loco.

4. Freeways

It's a freeway, right?

When we first moved to the East Coast, I called everything "freeways" and, of course, used the ubiquitous "the" in front of all numbered roads. It got pretty confusing. Because nothing in the East Coast can be simple or relaxing, especially not driving anywhere. There are expressways. There are highways. There are beltways. There are routes. And, the most horrible thing of all, some of them have STOP LIGHTS. You think you're on a freeway. There are multiple lanes going in each direction. The speed limit is 55 mph. And all of a sudden, a stop light. 

5. Free Freeways

TOLL ROADS. Hate them. Hate them. Use them and have an EZ Pass cuz I'm not dumb but still. HATE THEM.

6. The Real Ocean. 

The Hollister store in Midtown Manhattan. It's live feed of Huntington Beach mocks me.
You will miss the pacific ocean like a lost limb. The first time we went to the beach on the East Coast, I kept waiting to feel that beach feeling, the drop in temperature, the increase in humidity, the scent of the sea in the air. I kept waiting as we parked the car, walked across the hot-as-fiery-coals sand, and I waded into the water. I can't tell you how bitter my disappointment was when I stood knee deep in lukewarm water as the sun beat down on me when I realized this was as beachy as it was going to get. I'm sweating. I'm in the ocean. I'm sweating and I'm in the ocean. What the blazes is wrong with this ocean?!?! 

7. Quality produce at a decent price

Every time I pay through the nose for avocados, I cry a little inside. If I find navel oranges for 2/$1.00, I'm thrilled. And then I eat them and they have no taste. 

8. Dry Air. 
Yup. That's what it feels like.
Everyone knows the East has terrible humidity. But what they don't explain is that the East also has a lot of really old houses and apartment buildings. And old houses and apartment buildings don't have central air. So not only are you living where it's hot as hell even when you're in the shade, you're also living where the only place you'll find relief is right in front of your window unit when it's turned all the way up, or Target. 

9. People Who Talk Normal

Man at grocery store: "Excuse me, miss, you left your pocket book in your carriage." 
Me: Miss? Am I a miss? What is a pocket book? Is he talking about my purse? Did he just call the grocery cart a carriage?? Oh. Thank you. 

Of course, even my husband, East-Coaster that he is, makes fun of me for slurring my consonants and overly-emphasizing vowels, like in this SNL skit. "Whaaudoinere?" And sometimes I overdo it with "dude." Okay, to be honest, I find the different accents fascinating. And I've gotten to the point where I use "shmutz" without feeling like a poser.

10. In-N-Out

Five guys, overpriced. Shake Shack, decent. But nothing can replace quality you can taste. It's the first place I go when I go home and the last place I eat before I leave. I find it infuriating that they opened restaurants in Utah AFTER I left BYU. Rude. But it's been TWO YEARS since I've been home, guys. TWO YEARS. Who wants to overnight me a double double?

So there you have it. Did I forget anything? Maybe next time I'll do ten things I'll miss if we ever leave the NYC metro area. Maybe.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Adam's Book of Love

Monday, January 20th was Adam's 32nd birthday. This year, I decided to do something a little different. Christmas was somewhat of a disappointment for him; I think I put too much thought and effort into the kids' gifts and Adam felt like mine weren't very thoughtful. Plus, I basically bought myself a bunch of gifts and had him wrap them and give them to me from him. But that's just making it easy for him, right? Anyway, I wanted to do something a bit more meaningful, so about a month before his big day, I started contacting all of Adam's family and friends that I could find info for. I asked everyone to send something personal, a note or a letter, an mp3 or some photos, anything that would make Adam feel loved, and I'd put it all in a book for him. I was very pleased with the results. 

I had Elizabeth decorate the cover. She's pretty amazing when it comes to arts and crafts, if I do say so myself.

I just put the letters and pics in sheet protectors. The kids each colored a portrait of Adam (Elizabeth's is showing). 

Other people got creative, too. Two of the former missionaries that served in our ward when Adam was the Ward Mission Leader made these. I love them.
A tribute to Adam by Skyler Thiot

Our family illustrated by Crys Kevan Lee

Aren't they amazing? 

Hernan, who stayed with Adam a few years ago while the kids and I were in California for a few months, sent him a huge CD of songs and this photo collage.

I also received a lot of awesome pictures from Adam's earlier years, like this gem:

as well as this pic that I'd never seen before, sent from my aunt:

Just having the digital copies of so many old pictures was a great blessing. There was even a hand-crafted card and a Oscar Meyer Weiner whistle awaiting Adam in his Book of Love. I think he was also really touched by all the heartfelt letters people wrote. All in all, it was a lot of fun to put together, as I hope it was for everyone who contributed. So here's to Adam and all the 32 years he's blessed our lives. Happy birthday!