Monday, July 23, 2012

Gas Station Weed

One sunny Saturday in 2004, my then boyfriend and I pulled into a Chevron in Mission Viejo. When he was pumping gas, I looked to my left and noticed a sizeable bag of weed on the ground in the middle of the crowded station. People milled around it obliviously. My boyfriend noticed it at the same time I did, and walked toward the gallon Ziploc slowly with a perplexed look, like the leafy contents were going to blow up in his face.

“Is that what I think it is?” I yell-whispered from the truck. He glared at me, as if to tell me to shut the hell up and stop drawing attention to us.

He stood over the bag trying to decide what to do. He picked it up carefully and held it in the palm of his hand for me to see, with scrunched eyebrows and an open mouth.

What a bizarre place to find drugs! I swear I could smell it from fifteen feet away. Who the hell dumped a bag of marijuana this big in the middle of the gas station? I thought.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Night I ‘Played’ Professional Hockey

In terms of embarrassing moments, this one is up there with tripping up the stairs onto my face in high school and crying in front of a college writing class, but it’s funnier because hundreds of mean kids are involved. Oh wait, no, that just makes it worse. Darn.

It was 1995, back when the Ducks were still “Mighty”, the Honda Center was still the Pond, and the hockey rink itself was covered in a haze of pixie dust, courtesy of Disney ownership.

I was at the venue to see a Bullfrogs’ roller hockey game. (Does anyone even play roller hockey anymore?) I was with three other people, who all have puck-handling and ice skating experience. Me? I haven’t even walked on ice. I’m an armchair hockey fan. (Go Kings!)

We were in the nosebleed seats, and the stadium was filled to about 3/4 its capacity, mostly with 10-year-old boys and their fathers. When we got to our seats, my cousin asked me the question that would define the rest of the evening: “Do you want to switch seats with me, so you can sit next to Amy?”

I should have said, “No, I’m good.” Come to think of it, many questionable incidents in my life would have been prevented if I would have just uttered those three words. Instead I said, “Sure.” The kiss of death.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Health Insurance and My Self-Employed Parents

When my parents moved to the beach in 1969, they could not have foreseen the issues they’d face with health insurance in 2012. This month they shelled out $3,120 for their quarterly bill (that has an $8,000 deductible and covers almost nothing). It reminds me how broken our system still is. This was the first July 4th I actually thought, “What exactly are we celebrating?”

My parents come from hardworking fathers who ran small businesses. (The American Dream, right?) My maternal grandfather ran a janitorial service. When he died in 2005 in a nursing home in Anaheim, he did not own a house or have money to leave to my mother. My paternal grandfather ran a service station after serving in the Navy in WWII. When the property was sold on which his gas station resided, he worked as a mechanic nearby, and labored well into his 70s. He and my grandmother bought their house when my father was in middle school for less than my current Honda, and they both still live there. At 88 and 86, they now live on a meager income from Social Security and a minimum IRA payment, and can’t afford to renovate their 19th century home that is in dire need.

My father graduated from CSULB the day I was born. He then started his career as an architectural illustrator and fine art painter. In times when the housing market is booming, my dad works every day, including weekends. He is excellent at what he does, and has had some of his architecture clients for more than 30 years.

My mom, also college educated, became a court reporter, but after tendinitis kept her from doing her job, she changed careers and now has a professional photography business and provides household tech support.

They became self-employed to be home while my sister and I grew up, which I have always appreciated. In addition, they have had time to exercise, make nutritious meals, and read the daily newspaper.