Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Am a Rock - Simon & Garfunkel

I heard this song on XM radio today on the drive home. It's a song I've heard dozens of times before, and only today did I really listen and relate to the lyrics.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Good Day with my Dad

I've written previously (here) that my dad was diagnosed with dementia and it continues to get progressively worse. It's a sad topic that fills me with dread, and so I don't talk about it much.

The summer of 2007, I was able to spend a lot of time with my dad since I wasn't working, and it was important to me that my daughter bond with her grandfather and have memories of him, and vice versa. The firm that I work for now generously offered me the opportunity to work remotely on Mondays so I can continue to see my father. Monday are important because it's the one day of the week that he sometimes remembers I'm coming to see him.

We started to notice that it was getting bad and wasn't the usual "I forgot where I left my keys or wallet" type forgetfulness, when he couldn't remember if he had eaten or not. Nor could he remember the food that he had just eaten 10 minutes before. So he could have eaten 5 times or not at all and he would have no memory of it. That includes taking his medication. So now my mother makes sure he takes his medication in the morning, prepares meals for him when she's at work by attaching a note saying what time to eat it and to call her.

It has been so sad to see my dad who used to read every inch of the newspaper, and who was in the newspaper business for over 16 years, not bother anymore, and the LA Times piling up outside his house unopened. And my dad the All-American who lettered in football, baseball, basketball, wrestling, track and field, and was even co-captain of his high school football team, no longer caring about any sport. I have many fond memories of falling asleep on the couch watching a ball game with my dad, the avid sports fan. Now he doesn't even know what sport is in season.

There have been days that he has not wanted to leave the house. Others where he has been completely confused. When we are at a restaurant, he cannot remember where we are seated, so if he uses the restroom, or gets some food at the buffet, he gets lost. I also know there have been days he cannot remember my daughter's name, and calls her "the girl". And he'll ask the same questions over and over again, forgetting that he just asked it 5 minutes ago. This used to upset me immensely, but now it's so common that I've come to expect it.

When I share the latest sign of dementia with my mother, she laughs. I guess it's either that or cry right? She's seen it all, and lives with it everyday, whereas I'm the visitor who goes home at the end of the day.

So today, we went to a Chinese buffet restaurant that he loves. I spotted him sitting at another table, but he immediately got up and walked back with us to our table. And I kept an eye out for him when he went to use the restroom, so as soon as he came back out my daughter ran over to him to show him the way back to where we were sitting. We even had a nice conversation at lunch which has been missing for awhile.

Then my dad says to me, "Look at that water buffalo over there." I turn to look hoping he's talking about a painting. No such luck. Now I have a 3 year old who does the same thing, "Why is she so big mom?" A 3 year old doesn't know better. A man in his 70's does, but it's one of those things that dementia does - it takes away the filter. And it can be downright embarrassing as he has no understanding that he's being rude or that others can hear him.

After lunch we normally go to the park and sit on a bench together and watch her play with other neighborhood children. But today it was too cold to sit outside, so we played indoors instead. It was sweet to see my Grandpa and Granddaughter playing together.

I know there will come a day when he won't remember who she is, and that at a later date he'll no longer remember who I am, but I do cherish the remaining good days that he has. I know he loves me and my child. There's never a question about a lot of love being there. It just pains me to know that the man I know, my father is disappearing. I was always daddy's little girl, so that probably makes it even more difficult, as no matter how much we butt heads in the past, we always respected and loved one another. It's hard as hell to say good-bye in your own way to someone who is still living and who you love very much.

All day today, my dad was pretty clear headed, and as I was getting ready to leave and drive home, he said, "Do you still live in that house with the view of the city?"

"Yes, dad. I still live there," I answered. (What a funny thing to ask I thought, since I never moved.)

"It's funny how just now I could remember that," he said. And I could see him picturing my house and the view from my balcony in his mind. And it made me smile.

dineLA Restaurant week 2009

dineLA Restaurant Week is back!

dineLA.com is the place to preview the hundreds of mouth-watering, prix-fixe menus from a spectacular list of Southland restaurants participating in the second annual dineLA Restaurant Week taking place January 25 – 30 and February 1 – 6, 2009. dineLA Restaurant Week has registered more than 150 restaurants throughout Los Angeles County, from Pasadena to the Westside, Long Beach to Woodland Hills and beyond.

For the entire list of participating restaurants and their menus and to make reservations go to dineLA.com/restaurantweek.

Dining experiences during the event will be available in three price categories: Deluxe Dining is $16 for lunch and $26 for dinner; Premier Dining is $22 for lunch and $34 for dinner, and Fine Dining is $28 for lunch and $44 for dinner (beverages, tax and gratuity are not included; participating meal periods vary by restaurant).

The dineLA Restaurant Week restaurant list, searchable by location, encompasses a wide variety of Zagat rated restaurants, including Patina, Valentino, and Water Grill, and a host of newcomers sure to make the “A” list including Gordon Ramsay at The London West Hollywood, The Bazaar by Jose Andres at The SLS Hotel, and Akasha. There are old favorites such as Chinois on Main, Campanile and Chaya Brasserie, but also many newcomers including Ivan Kane's Cafe Wa s, Royal/T Cafe and Katsuya Glendale.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

LOST Premier - Season 5

And just like that...I get sucked back in to watching yet another season of Lost.

The beginning was a complete waste of time with the people involved in the series talking about how great the show is and why everyone likes it. But what I did get from all that talking was that the series has aired for 4 seasons already. Wow...4 years. I can't believe it's been on for that long. I wikied it and found this piece of trivia: "The pilot episode was first broadcast on September 22, 2004."

It's one of the best shows on regular TV which is quite painful at times to watch, considering all of the really cheesy sitcoms, some TV shows that you never liked and yet won't seem to go away (ER anyone?), or bad reality TV. I mostly tune out network TV, or go to one of the cable channels for their shows (i.e., HBO, Showtime). I even stopped watching Lost for awhile, but then the writing started to get better, and I rented the DVD's to get caught up for Season 5.

This year I keep hearing that they focus on Sawyer. That would be great since they've placed him on the back burner and given him crumby lines - although his character is fascinating. The bad guy who you love to love, and who isn't really all that bad you think. Those episodes with him and Kate were the best. Okay I have to stop now, because it sounds like I'm caught up in a soap opera. Which I don't watch for the record. But everyone knows how great it is to watch a miniseries/drama and you really get into the characters and even forgive the writers when they write cheesy dialogue, and you just go with the story. That's how it feels with Lost. I'm just going with the story because it's so darn entertaining and sucks me in every time.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama our nation turns it's lonely eyes to you

The 44th President of the United States of America -
Barack Hussein Obama II.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Doo-Dah Parade 2009

"The Pasadena Doo-Dah Parade, started in 1976, is a popular farcical and flamboyant parade held in Pasadena, California about once a year, usually in the fall or winter. Conceived in 1976 by several friends, in Pasadena, as a response to the traditional formality of the Rose Parade, which is also held in Pasadena."
A parade of Dachshunds. The parade also had Basset Hounds and Boston Terriers.

Unicycle with mime holding a parasol.
Jets flying overhead.
A bunch of mascot animal characters. The Coyote was giving out high fives.Islamic cheerleaders wearing burkas.
The parade was fun to watch and very kid friendly. People in the parade passed out necklaces and Astrid even got a pirate rubber ducky from a guy dressed as a pirate.
For Star Wars fans.
Man with a pot leaf on his hat directing the parade traffic.
Darth Vader and his stormship troopers.
Marching behind their spaceship.These BBQ'ers wore Kingsford charcoal bags as hats and grilled as they marched along with the parade.

U.'s only criticism was that it wasn't as outrageous as he'd expected. We'll definitely try and make it next year, as it was fun for the whole family.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Martin Luther King Parade & Festivities on Mon. 1/19/09

4395 Leimert Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90008

This year we're making it a family event to see the MLK parade in Los Angeles and to participate in the festivities. It's a little slice of history, especially with Obama's inauguration the next day.

This year the parade will begin at 10:30 AM at the corner of Western Avenue and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in Los Angeles. The route goes west to Crenshaw and south to Vernon, and the entire processional should last about two and a half hours. This year’s parade will feature 18 marching bands, floats, and celebrity guests including Tyler Perry, Tony Grant, and Orlando Brown. The recommendation I'm seeing for parking is at the parade’s end near Leimert Park, where an all-day “Presidential Dreams” Fest and Gospel Celebration will be taking place with live music and food vendors.

(Previously we had planned to attend the inauguration in DC in person, but after haggling with the hotel that we reserved in November, that now wants to charge us $900 a night for a single room, that's not going to happen. Disappointing. But we all know DC is completely sold out and I've even heard people are renting tents on their property. On a positive note, it's great to see an outpouring of support for Obama and to see that it's a real movement that millions of people want to be a part of. Plus, attending the parade with our daughter on a sunny day in Los Angeles rather than in the cold - gives me something to look forward to.)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Straight from the heart

When it comes to emotions of the heart, it's rare that I show uninhibited emotion, but other times I'm caught completely off guard by emotion. A lump in my throat and slow tears, or a sudden gush of tears. It could be a story I hear on the radio, something I see on the news, or in a movie, or even a song. Just bam! - right smack in the face I'm bawling like a baby. And I'm always shocked. Why am I crying and getting caught up in this? Obviously it helps when you're alone, or in a dark movie theatre where no one can see you. But it's also happened when I was driving, listening to a story on the radio and either I continue driving with a huge goofy grin on my face or tears streaming down my face ("This American Life" radio program comes to mind)- and others driving by - if they bother to look over are probably wondering "What's going on with that lady?"

Now if I was a complete cry baby it'd be one thing. But I'm not. In fact my upbringing was the complete opposite. I was taught you just don't show emotion. Even when you laugh - in the Korean culture - you're expected to put your hand over your mouth and not show pure joy - or be deemed a moron who lacks manners and a brain. "Who laughs with their mouth wide open like that?" I've heard my mom say. Or to be chided, "Don't laugh so hard." Control your emotions is what I was taught to do. My husband has remarked on occasion, "It's your Korean side coming out. You never complain or feel sorry for yourself - you just deal with it and work with what you've got." And in a test of pain endurance my husband thinks I would win.

And it's not just my Korean upbringing, it also comes from my father. He was in the Air Force for 20 years and also was born during the depression in the United States. I remember he needed stitches above his eye from a deep gash and told the doctor not to give him anything for the pain, but to just stitch him up. My father respected me for being "tough" so I was tough. I've been emotionally tough my whole life, so when something hits that soft part of my heart and gets me to emote like that it's a wonderful thing that I don't even understand myself.

For example, I was watching the movie, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" and there's a scene where they're driving in a convertible with the top down, the sun is shining, and all you see is the back of his girlfriend's hair whipping around in the wind, and there's a U2 song blaring. I immediately burst into tears. Um excuse me, but where the hell did that come from? It just touched me so deeply. (The director Julian Schnabel is also a painter, and every scene was brilliantly crafted like a painting.)

Recently I read a book, "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy and I wept for the characters. I was there watching them, rooting for them, and hoping to keep them safe. It was such a beautifully written story that moved me and I found myself in that book for hours and days afterward. (The Road won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007, and McCarthy also wrote the novel No Country for Old Men. I read the book in one sitting by the way - and highly recommend it.)

Today I thought about my daughter and what a beautiful little artist she is becoming (I was e-mailing a photo of her most recent artwork to my husband), and thinking how proud I am to be her mother and what do you ya know - lump in my throat, warm tears in my eyes. What a sap! It's embarrassing but at the same time it makes me human. It's a human condition.

Have you had a similar experience? What things have made you burst into tears, weep, laugh out loud for prolonged periods of time forgetting everything around you? What has moved you to emote like this?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year 2009!

Pershing Square - Downtown LA on Ice