Downtown to the Northeast

Six weeks ago I posted the following on Facebook with a link to a story about a shooting at the gas station kitty corner to our apartment:

Two years ago if you told me I’d hear more gunshots in Ithaca than I ever heard in 15 years living in LA (Palms) I wouldn’t have believed you. Now, helicopters? Definitely not hearing those here.

I was awake when the shooting happened and the noise woke up Xavi. He asked “what’s that noise?!” before going back to sleep.

I truly wasn’t exaggerating. Palms isn’t the safest area of LA and more than once I saw LAPD on my block. One time they wouldn’t let me back on to my street as they searched for a suspect. I had to sleep somewhere that night, so I crashed at my friend Alfred’s couch. Another time on my way back from a run an officer stopped me and once again I had to wait. I could see and hear the helicopters overhead. I remember the homicide of a teenaged girl walking home from the high school around the corner.

I knew LA, though. I felt safe enough in my neighborhood to go for runs after 10 pm. 

No accidents on this side

But Ithaca threw me for a loop. I should’ve done my homework.

When we were planning our move we didn’t have a chance to visit to look for an apartment. Instead, we relied on some new contacts to share leads and info about the neighborhoods. One guy, P, told us he’d ask his landlord if they had any vacancies coming up and shared info on where he lived. The location was just six blocks from the Commons. It was 1.5 miles away from Cornell and close to several bus lines. It was in our budget, furnished (a plus so we could cut down on the furniture we needed to move and thus save some money), rather newly built, had parking, no snow shoveling required, and best of all P didn’t have any concerns about the apartments or the landlords. 

Sign us up!

It was fine until I realized we were three floors up without an elevator, the windows didn’t have bars and we were at a major intersection near the ambulance dispatch place and the railroad tracks (a plus for Xavi). 

This is a diesel. I want to see a steam engine.

That summer when people asked how we were settling in, I brought up the noise. If it wasn’t the emergency vehicles, it was motorcycles, trucks and speedsters.

Our second year we got used to the noise and kept the windows closed more often. It was cooler that way and they blocked a lot of the noise. That didn’t help the crazy though. There were a couple of shootings, a stabbing and several car accidents. One collision sent an SUV in to the heavy wood planters surrounding the main door. That’s the same door I’d take on my way to the bus stop or to walk the six blocks to the Commons. The people involved in the accidents we heard were all okay.

All this didn’t make us decide to move. I liked living close to all the things. We could easily walk to church, the library, a number of parks, playgrounds, waterfalls, work, and the Commons. But for a family of four, the two bedroom apartment was too small. Plus, I really wanted someplace where the kids could play outside close by. The park a block away was fine for bubbles and kicking around a soccer ball, but it could also be little sketch. I didn’t want Xavi asking “what’s that funny smell?” or “what’s he doing?” if we saw someone smoking weed.

Unsure about all this nature and bugs

A few days ago we traded downtown Ithaca life for what counts as the suburbs of Ithaca. 

Good thing it’s been a few years since I read Into the Woods

We’ve been here three days and have seen two deer, gotten a bunch of mosquito bites from being at the playground and local running/walking path, and met two boys close in age to Xavi. He’s complained about kids playing basketball outside and clamored for a bicycle.

It’s not bedtime yet, is it, daddy?

And you know what? I think it’s the perfect time.

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Leaving Los Angeles

I’d lived in apartment 3 on the 31st block of my street for many years before I called it “home.” I can’t tell you how many years it was. Maybe 7. Could’ve been 10. All I know is that it was well before Sean proposed in my bedroom (10+ years in) right next to the closet. It was before wedding supplies and gifts took over our living room (12 years in). And it was definitely before we brought home a tiny newborn Xavi from the hospital less than two miles away.

I do know that on the day I left it felt like home even though Sean wasn’t there and neither was Xavi.

We spent most of our last two weeks in a clutter of boxes, packing paper and stress. The Mosqueda side of the family came over to help pack, remove furniture we weren’t moving to Ithaca and watch Xavi. Meanwhile Sean worked out the logistics of driving cross country and we confirmed everything for our new apartment. As mentioned before, the movers picked up most of our belongings on June 18th. Our last day at work was the 19th. Over the weekend we rushed to finish packing up the items that would go in the car with Sean and my dad and would go in suitcases with me and Xavi.

Mosqueda Family 2015

We left as a family for the last time on Sunday to attend the Father’s Day/Papá Chepe early 95th birthday party. Sean dropped me and a feverish Xavi off at my mom’s house (home for the next few days) and turned around to finish packing. He didn’t really get to enjoy the party, but we did have time for a big family photo.

But on the Monday I finished packing up the apartment, I felt like I was leaving home. I was by myself as Sean had left early that morning to begin the cross country drive. Xavi stayed at my mom’s house since he wouldn’t be much help cleaning up the apartment.

When I returned to the almost empty apartment I found Sean had left me a note written with Scrabble cards. It read, “I love you Cindy.” I left the cards there while I cleaned out everything we had left for the last minute. Soon a family friend and his kids came to pick up the refrigerator and the kitchen table. Other friends stopped by for wine (still leftover from our wedding, a bookshelf or just to say hi).

I took a break to eat and go to my neighborhood Trader Joe’s (for the last time — the nearest one is an hour away) for a snack and some plants/flowers for the neighbors I’d miss the most and Xavi’s former babysitter. In the many years I lived in the building, there were only three neighbors who lived there longer than me. They all became friendly especially after Xavi was born. The lady upstairs was especially sweet. I swept through the apartment one more time making sure I didn’t forget anything [I did, I left the comal sitting in it’s usual spot on the stove], locked up and then turned in the keys.

Leaving LA

I took pictures after loading up the last things in my dad’s Jeep. It was nice to see the sun setting in a lovely way and reminding me of how it would look on those summer evenings when I would go for a run or Sean and Xavi would walk out to meet me at the bus stop.

I managed not to cry as I left my LA apartment, but I sure felt like it. I knew I probably wouldn’t be going back there, even if I keep in touch with some of our neighbors. When I go back to LA, I’ll be visiting family or friends who mainly live 20-40 minutes away from my old neighborhood.

Leaving LA

I think the best way to write a tribute to my first/only apartment is a by the numbers:

1 marriage proposal
2 former residents who were teachers (1 became a teacher after living there)
3 days, Xavi’s age when he came home from the hospital
4 original inhabitants, aka the Roomies (all still good friends I saw either shortly before moving or earlier in the spring)
5 years the longest roommate (besides me) stayed
6 the number of neighbor kids who regularly played in the driveway
7 former roommates I got along with
8 total former roommates
9 races I trained for by starting my run down this street;
10 minute walk to Downtown Culver City for a movie or a beer
15 (well 14.8) years living there
249 the difference between the original and final rent

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Moving questions

I’ve answered the questions below a lot over the past few weeks.

Are you driving?
No, but Sean is driving. We’ve never been on a short road trip with Xavi. I can’t imagine making him sit in his car seat for 3-5 hour stretches and keeping him entertained.

When do you leave?
Sean leaves on Sunday night or Monday morning. [We opted for the latter with my dad as a second driver.]

Last day in the office

I fly out on Thursday with Xavi. Sean will pick us up at the airport.

Are you all packed up?
No. Depending on the point in the week this was anywhere from 30% to 95%. Sean is already on the road and I’m staying with my mom but I still need to finish clearing our stuff out of the apartment. (Note: I finished Monday evening and said goodbye to my neighbors.)

Boxes!

All our stuff is on this truck

Most of our stuff went on this truck and is currently somewhere between LA and Ithaca.

If I move again, I won’t make my last week at work coincide with the craziness of packing. That was dumb.

Are you excited? Nervous? Scared?
Yes. I hope Sean and my dad to have a safe drive. I also am worried because Xavi’s been feverish since Saturday. It’s been high enough to bother him and affect his behavior but not scary must rush to the hospital high.

Does Xavi know what’s going on?

Something's different here...

I’m not sure, but he definitely knows something is different. As the apartment emptied out, he liked all the open space and the echo.

Ithaca, New York? You know it snows, right?
Really?! I had no clue.

Do you have a place to live?
Yes. We move in on July 1st. We will be hotel and AirBnb hopping from our arrival in upstate NY on the 25th until we can move in. We found a furnished apartment from a friend of a friend. A grad school friend introduced me to some of her fellow professors who teach at Ithaca College. One gave me his landlord’s info and I found out they had a vacancy that fit our needs and was within our price range. Plus it was furnished so we could leave some stuff behind and cut down moving costs. Although I didn’t visit before move in, I felt okay signing a lease since our contact was quite happy with his living situation and it’s <2 miles to my job.

When will you be back?
Not sure of the first date, but I know I’ll definitely be back for Adrian and Alexis’s wedding festivities. That’s in about 11 months.

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Los Angeles Marathon tips

Inspired by the LA marathon

Early last fall, I harbored hopes of running the Los Angeles Marathon. I knew I’d have to do a lot of work to rebuild my endurance, but it was still on my mind especially as my family mourned tío Johnny’s passing in early November.

Modeling our medals and race blankets at Shoreline Village

I never talked about it with Lori, but I thought it might be nice for Team Mosqueda to run LA in remembrance of our uncle. As kids, we were both awed each time he completed another LA marathon. The memory of tío Johnny running definitely inspired us through our training/races many years later. His triumphant finish line photo was even displayed in his casket during the wake.

A few weeks after tío Johnny passed away, I found out we were expecting and all hopes of long distance running went out the window. Honestly, I was a little bummed but mainly relieved. The thought of getting back in to marathon running shape was making my head and legs hurt.

The only runner that matters to me

At least I have wonderful memories of the LA Marathon. It’s been good to me even if the weather hasn’t cooperated in the past. Part of the reason I went for (and met!) the sub-4 reach goal last year was because I knew that with the wedding and plans to start a family soon after, LA ’12 could be my last marathon training cycle for a year or two.

While, I won’t be running from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica this Sunday, I’ll still be out on the course. I’ll be cheering somewhere in Beverly Hills, Century City or Westwood (where the course comes closest to my home). I have some friends and family running the marathon and want to be out there to cheer for them as well as thousands of other runners. I love making race signs and have already thought up a couple motivating signs for Alexis (brother’s girlfriend), Jorge, Claudia, Marlene and her Students Run LA cohorts from the high school nearby.

I do have some tips from my limited experience on the course. (Past recaps: 2011: Rain!; 2012: the perfect race day; 2012 post-script)

Starting line!

1. Start slow! I know this isn’t easy due to excitement, adrenaline and the downhill start. However, try to reign it in. Remember that this is the easy part. Avoid stressing out and weaving too much around slower runners. Don’t worry, you’ll pass them up at the hills on First Street up to Disney Hall and out of Downtown LA in to Echo Park.

Strategizing

2. Develop a smart pacing strategy. Don’t try to run all the miles at/near the same pace. Instead, plan to run the first 10K at slower than goal pace and speed every 5-6 miles or so until you get to the end. This is a great course to negative split given than the last 4 miles are downhill. I used My Marathon Pace bands which allow you to personalize a plan for the current LA Marathon course. In making my plan, I set it for a slower start, negative split and slower effort on hills. With all this said, be flexible. Bad race days happen, unfortunately.

Chomps... they have electrolytes!

3. Stick to your fueling strategy and get water at all the aid stations. They’ll be crowded on a warm and sunny day so pass up the first few tables and grab water at the end. Don’t forget your sunblock!

Our Signs For Cindy

4. Draw energy from the spectators and check out their signs. The good/funny ones distract from any pain or even boredom on the course. If you elected to have your name printed on your bib, thank those who are cheering for you. Hopefully there’s a great turnout for spectators this year since it’ll be warm and sunny rather than cold and rainy.

Our Signs For Cindy

5. If you’ll have friends cheering for you on the course, think about having them at a place where you know you might struggle. Sean, my sister and parents cheered for me in Beverly Hills around mile 16/17. Seeing them always gave me a boost when I needed it mentally. Also, make sure they know what you’re wearing so they can spot you easier. Avoid wearing the official race shirt because you’ll look like every 10th runner. Last, a bonus of coming up with a detailed pacing plan is that you can give your friends/family pretty accurate times for when you’ll be at a certain point — that is, if you stick to the plan. (ETA: Have your relatives sign up for race day tracking. You can sign up for it yourself and have your splits posted to Twitter or Facebook. Last year it was every 10K and includes an expected finish time based on your pace to that point. It feels kinda awesome to see your friends cheering you on from afar.)

Cindy's Dad Starts Handing Out Coconut Water

6. Thank the volunteers. They’re awesome. Enough said.

Long run collage

7. Enjoy the course and the LA landmarks as you zoom by. It’s rare that you get to stroll down Hollywood Blvd or the Sunset Strip without any cars.

My new favorite t-shirt

8. Load up some LA-centric songs on your iPod. I know it’s cheesy, but Randy Newman’s “I Love LA” is fitting when you’re kicking ass through LA streets. Save your phone battery for when you finish and need to meet up with friends and family in Santa Monica. It’ll be hectic.

okiloveyoubyebye

9. Come up with a mantra that you know will help get you through the tough miles. I like “Sí se puede.”

I hope so!

10. Let the adrenaline take over and give it all you have left on San Vicente in the last 4 miles.

¡Suerte!

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Morning becomes offensive

The first present for blackface Christmas — what my play cousins at PostBourgie call the season shortly before Halloween and through Thanksgiving — comes from KCRW’s Instagram account.

Not cool, KCRW

I voiced my disappointment via Twitter and on Instagram.

I checked back a little later to find a flippant response from the person behind the Instagram account.

Not cool, KCRW

Oh right, I should just chill since it’s Halloween. I forgot that makes it okay. Not really.

Earlier this week I receive a mailer asking me to resubscribe to KCRW. Over the past ten years I’ve subscribed on and off as I enjoy the music and news programming. I was likely going to renew my subscription, but now am reconsidering.

I follow KCRW’s social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram. I was extremely disappointed, offended and saddened to see one of my favorite cultural institutions in Los Angeles feature one of it’s deejays (Anne Litt) in a Native American costume during the Masquerade Ball (10/27/12). While I respect an individual’s First Amendment right to wear what he/she wants, I do not support institutions that feature a prominent member in what is the Native American equivalent of blackface. I also do not appreciate the belittling response: “Hey y’all. No disrespect .. It’s Halloween. !!” (Screenshots can be found here: [link] and [link])

Dismissing valid concerns is not a suitable response for a public radio station.

Sincerely,

Cindy Mosqueda

For those not in LA, KCRW is a public radio station based out of Santa Monica College. They carry NPR as well as locally produced programming. Their music programming is highly regarded. I’ve always enjoyed the diversity on Morning Becomes Eclectic, especially when Nic Harcourt was at the helm. Harcourt featured some of the best bands in Latin America even though the primary audience is not Spanish speaking. I first subscribed in 2002 after starting my first full-time job. I subscribe on and off, mainly because I’m lazy about renewing my subscription or funds were tight in grad school.

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