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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Urth Caffe Downtown

So besides walking around the limited area that I know in downtown, a friend of mine suggested that we go to the Urth caffe. Now I'm quite familiar with this place on Melrose with the many directors, producers, writers and celebrities who stop by to schmooze and relax, but I had never been to the one in downtown.

Urth Caffe Downtown is interesting. Of course my brother always makes fun of me when I say interesting. He says okay, whenever you don't like something, you say it's interesting. That is so not true, I often protest. Interesting simply means that it's a different and new experience for me and in time, I may like it or not like it, but I don't want to make a quick judgment without trying it out a bunch of times. And by the way, the interesting has now turned into, I love it. I'm glad I gave it a chance.
The first time my friend drove from one street to another. We passed through not so likeable areas into areas where people lived in warehouses. I looked with wide eyes, thinking that can't be safe. We also saw business warehouses inside of each were probably fish, meat, clothes and other stuff kept to be sold wholesale. The area reminded me of the scene in the movie Rocky where Sylvester Stallone would go into a warehouse to punch the meat. Anyhow, my friend then turned into 5th street and into an alley as I looked around with apprehension. He parked in front of some warehouse as I watched like a tourist, noticing a nice brand new apartment building across the street with a parking lot next to it. I saw police cars driving around and a security guard stood in front of the Urth caffe.
To most people, it's strange to see police and security guards around. It's usually an indication that something is wrong. But this Urth cafe was no different than the Urth caffe on Melrose -- there is a lot of security there as well. I'm thinking perhaps a lot of important people patron it and they need protection. Once we sat down, I didn't give it much thought. I felt very safe and liked the crowd. Here are some more photos. The first two are pix of people I do not know.
  My friend was starving here. I told him don't touch your food. I want to take a photo. He said hurry up then; I'm famished.
By the time i got to take a picture of our desert, he had already taken a bite out of his. He's like a kid who can't control himself. geeze....


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Years of childhood memories

The View from our home

I wish that I could say that the past four years have been the best years of my life, but they haven’t. I’m still waiting for better days. With my mom getting sick about four years ago, to getting diagnosed with cancer and the both of us fighting for her life and losing at the end, to not knowing what to do with the house I grew up in to selling it, it has been nothing short of a nightmare. I kept saying one morning I will wake up and the nightmare would be over. Well, it is finally over. Not all of the process was bitter, but unfortunately, the bitter people and events in our lives often take over our pleasant experiences.
My Mom and Dad’s favorite tree, in front of our kitchen

To realtors, a house is nothing but a commission. To rich buyers, a house is nothing but another way to show off their new possession. To me, a house is not just an object to be traded as a commodity nor is it a possession to be displayed in public. It is a home I have to connect with.  

Anyhow, during this whole selling process, I learned a lot about reading people - the smooth charming ones who can cut you like a sharp knife when you speak up your mind, the arrogant ones who walk into your house with their nose up in the air as though they are better than you with their over the top clothes, watches and cars that have been bought with borrowed money and the downright rude ones with tongues that should be used to clean toilet bowls. Of course, I also met a handful of nice people but they were the exception to the rule. I guess this is what happens when you are selling a high-end property to those not so high-end buyers because people with old money do not behave this way.

My family and I had many pool parties [wish I had more photos of us, but it's all in storage :( ]

I learned not to put much value in what most people say because they say whatever it takes to get you to do what they want. It’s a shame really, but human beings never fail to disappoint me. Again, there are good people in the world, but the percentage is very low. During this process, there were times when I just couldn’t take it anymore and at one point I escaped to a nearby hotel - Ma Maison Sofitel.

The View from my hotel

With the exception of a few friends, everyone else thought I was crazy. “You already live in a nice home, why would you spend so much money and not even be on vacation, save your money, don’t spend, if you have extra money, give it to me,” were some of the comments people made. Well, let me tell you, you cannot put a price on saving your sanity. Staying at Sofitel was one of the best money I ever spent and if I had to do it all over again, I would do the same thing except this time, I would stay at the Ritz because as the old clichĂ© goes, I am worth it. Here is another photo from my room at Sofitel:
No one understood why this entire selling process was so difficult for me, no one and that includes my realtors, my brother and my father. Interestingly enough, the first producer who filmed the house and me got it right away even before I could understand it myself as she pointed out, this is your childhood home, show how you feel. Of course at the time she was filming me, I was numb. It was not until months later when I understood what she was trying to say to me, but the film had already been done and over with – no second takes the same way as there are no second takes in life.
My mother's orchids. She had 4 of these and they were amazing. She had a green thumb which I did not inherit.

The second person who understood me when this deal closed was my real estate attorney. He said congrats, this deal closed, but I know this deal was not just about the house, it was about emotions. I will always remember this and I will always remember these two people who hardly knew me, but understood me so deeply. Well, I guess it is now time to say goodbye. I had some great memories there, but it is time for me to close that chapter of my life and start a new one. Below are some more photos of my childhood home.

The view of the street overlooking our neighbor’s house. They too have put their home up for sale. They have been living in their home before we had moved into ours.

 Our Pond and my mother’s flowers

View of the room where I did most of my writing

  The front gate

By the way, it took forever to empty out this house. Years of childhood memories are impossible to wipe out in a matter of days. Thanks to two of my good friends whom I have known for a longtime and several devoted employees, I managed to get out of this deal alive. Now I live in a high-rise in downtown – again one of the best decisions I have ever made even when those around me thought I was nuts. I’ll be living here temporarily until I decide where exactly it is I want to live. Right now, I may not be sure of many things in my life, but there is one thing I am certain of and that is I will now have the time to work on my third book and get back into social media. I miss my virtual friends :)) And alas, years of childhood memories have been reduced to a pile of stuff sitting in a storage space until I’m ready to get rid of most of them too.