Road Entry#23 (Mama's House - La Canada Flintridge - 10:17am - August 27, 2010)

We both had an early morning on Monday. Sam usually gets up for work at six to be out the door by seven. I had to wake up at the same time to clean up my space in Sam's place before heading off to the bus to the airport. Sam gave me a ride down to the bus stop that was walking distance because he is such a great friend. We departed and wished each other a great couple of weeks before the wedding on Labor day weekend.

I got a morning breakfast sandwich at Burger King (disgusting...) before getting on the airport express bus to Charlotte International Airport. The bus ride took about 20-30 minutes. I was riding with mostly airport employees and no travelers. Once I got to the airport, I checked-in the stereotypical way - nothing stimulating and exciting about the security process, right?

I got to the gate with plenty of time where I immediately went to the airline representative to offer up my seat if the flight was sold out. If you don't know, most airlines will overbook a flight in compensation for travelers who are late to the gate. In the scenario when all the travelers show up to the gate, they ask travelers to volunteer their seat (or defer) their flying status for another person who is more of a rush. I was the first person to defer my flight status and get routed through Newark to Los Angeles - putting me in LAX two and a half hours later than I was supposed to get there. Since I have been in no rush to get anywhere, this match-made scenario played out perfectly. The airline companies will give you up to $450 in travel vouchers for giving up your seat. I got a voucher for $200 and a couple of airline drink certificates.

I waited 30 minutes longer to then board my CLT-NWR flight at 9:30am. I texted my father to let him know that I would be arriving later than expected and that I couldn't wait to see him. On the flight over from Newark to LA I wrote in the blog and read my book. I think I slept or at least closed my eyes on the short flight from North Carolina to New Jersey.

Dad (David) picked me up from the airport just before 4pm - right as President Obama was landing in LAX. Dad was extremely excited that both the president and I were landing at the same time. President Obama had some democrat gala and dinner at some hollywood executives house in the hollywood hills. That meant the traffic from LAX back to Dad's house was even more extreme than it usually is at rush hour. We made it back nevertheless, sighting blockades all over the place as the hour and a half passed by.

Dad and I dropped my bag off at his place before heading to Ralph's - the grocery store - for some produce and food for his house. He asked me to show him how I shopped at the market and I couldn't have been more obliged to. He was stunned to see me when he picked me up at the airport - just because I am now down to 205 in weight. That is the reason he wanted me to show me how I shopped at the grocery store. We also talked about 'Powerhouse Gym' and going in the mornings before Dad had to work in the day. It was great to see him - the last time coming when I was in Las Vegas during March Madness and my birthday!

We returned back to the house to put the groceries away before heading off to Sushi Dan to meet Dede for dinner! I had been craving sushi for months, and purposefully didn't eat any on my travels so that I could enjoy a lavish sushi dinner with Dad and Dede!

Dede was already there at the table when Dad and I walked in. I walked with vigor up to the table, Dede said she barely recognized me. Hah! She had already ordered for all the sushi for the night at it was a FEAST! I was soo stuffed by the end I could barely move. I talked for most of the dinner - explaining my stories and adventures throughout the east coast and back to the west coast. It was great to spend time at our favorite sushi restaurant together. The wait was worth it.

Dad and I went back to the house while Dede had to drive over to her friend's house that she was house-sitting for. Dad then gets a call from Dede saying the traffic was so bad because of Obama that she would be turning around and coming back to their house. Obama really put a damper on everyone's driving arrangements and plans this Monday in Los Angeles. Talk about road-rage! We all called it a night once Dede got back home.

In the morning, Dad woke me up to head off to the gym for a morning workout. I love working out in the morning - it is my energy source for the day *(no coffee needed). When I was at the gym, I met Tisto the owner and re-introduced myself to Eric the Trainer who didn't really recognize me as well. I ran at the gym on the treadmill as Dad told me the story of Coco and the time where she bit the neighbor's son. Coco is Dad and Dede's dog - she is a lovely medium sized mutt. She has really grown into her own has a pet and a dog from the first time I met her as a puppy. I love that dog.

The workout lasted almost an hour - with me getting a good sweat in (run, dead-lifts, bench-press, triceps extension, and pull ups). Dad and I returned home to shower and get on the freeway over the hill to his meeting in West Hollywood. He got there a little late and I took my laptop with me so I could work on my DJ-Demo as he discussed his consulting business with some co-workers. He is currently working on a project to find capital venture investors and angel investors for his comic book publishing client - Radical. He is also working to bring in more clients to the consulting agency he is working for. It is exciting stuff.

Dad and I then went over to Teddy's restaurant for lunch where Dad raved about the turkey sandwich. It was good! We had more conversation as we ate lunch. The drive back to North Hollywood was filled with more discussions with my dad about life, work, working out, friends, girls, family, plans, Benjamin (my brother), and other things of that nature.

There was more time to work on the DJ stuff when I got back to Dad's house as he worked from the office-room. The time flew-by until 6pm when I had to leave to meet Mom at her place before going to the Armory for the Arts in Pasadena with her. We were both going to this speaker series on Haiti and the aftermath. It has been 6 months since the earthquake in Haiti and there were three people speaking on their experiences in Haiti.

The first speaker was Dr. Michael Budincich. He is a Pasadena chiropractor who made a huge personal contribution to Haitian relief efforts. He took action by flying his private plane to Ft. Lauderdale to load up medical supplies and a couple people to get over to Haiti. He had never been to Haiti and this was his first time making it to the country. He spent 14 days ferrying these supplies and medical personnel to Haiti and providing basic first aid and radiologic assistance himself. He talked about how Haitians need basic food and shelter first before anything else. The most essential piece of equipment they need right now is just blue tarps - to protect them from the rains. They are all living in these shanty tents with bed sheets for roofs. It is impossible to stay dry and protected from the elements right now in Haiti - especially with Hurricane season coming up. Dr. Bud said that the most basic way to help right now was send your spare blue tarp to Ft. Lauderdale or Haiti.

The second speaker was Karl Holtsnider. He is a founder of Hands together at the Holy Family Church in South Pasadena. He has been working on the ground, providing relief to the people of Haiti for over 7 years. Most of his experience relates to the work and progress he and his church made prior to the earthquake. He had a great video on the church's efforts in Haiti and spoke of all the work of Father Tom who has been living in Haiti for 15 years. They have established schools, homes, agriculture projects, and sustainable efforts in the past 15 years there. Most of it was obliterated with the hurricanes of 2008 and the earthquake 6 months ago.

The third speaker was Dr. Andrea Capachietti. She is a humanitarian aid consultant who lectures nationally on refugee resettlement issues, with a particular focus on women's rights, child protection, public policy, and health. She teaches undergraduate courses at Harvard where she is also in her postdoctoral studies on the completion of the Harvard Refugee Trauma Global Mental Health Program. She travels to Haiti all the time and was last there 2 months ago. She is going again next month. She spoke to us about the long term and short term needs of Haiti - siting sustainability concerns because of too many NGO operations and trying to enable the Haitian people to lead the charge for change themselves. Her lecture was passionate and heart-felt, almost daunting in terms of information and conceptualization of how we as an audience could actually help.

The best part of the night came when I actually got to speak with Karl Holtsnider. At the end of the question and answer portion, I introduced myself and spoke with him on how I might be able to get involved. He then simply asked me if I spoke Creole or French. He then suggested that I find my own niche of humanitarian efforts and work in a Spanish speaking country so that I could communicate with the locals. He said that my help, generosity, faith, and good-will would be better served in a country where the dialogue was efficient and credible. This has now brought me to a cross-roads of finding a work/volunteer program in Central or South America that I could start in September or October. Haiti needs people that can significantly make a difference in their relief efforts - for the long-haul. My niche won't come with Haiti, but I am glad I went to this speaker series to understand that I will be better utilized somewhere else.

Mom and I left the Haiti meeting to go over to meet up with Letty in Pasadena. Letty was like my second mother growing up as a baby. She took care of me when my Mom and Dad worked from birth until I was 12 or 13 years old. Letty is now working for a family in Pasadena in a huge mansion with a single child that has cerebral-palsy. She hadn't seen me since I was 15 years old (9 years ago) at my brothers Bar-Mitzvah. It was great to spend time with her, her daughters - Karla and Sadie, and my mom. We reminisced of most of the good times we all had together and learned about each other and what we have been doing in the past 9 years. Karla is now engaged and pregnant with her first baby. Sadie is in high school and 15 years old. Letty has been working for this Pasadena family for more than 4 years and still lives in their same house in Panorama City. I had a blast seeing them and talking with them. It was wonderful. From there, I went back to Dad's house after dropping Mom off at her house in La Canada.

The next morning started with a workout at Powerhouse Gym with Dad at 8am. There was nothing special about this workout - just standard physical fitness activity. Dad and I got back to his place to eat breakfast and shower before booting up our respective computers. We both worked independently with our screens and keyboards until lunch time. I was working on collecting and organizing my music for the demo I was making for DJ work. Dad has been and still is working on getting new clients and trying to find investors for one of his clients. We went to lunch at Quizno's later in the afternoon. After lunch was uneventful as well as we continued working.

Fast forward to dinner time where Mark Harris and David Landsberg came over for the dinner I was preparing for everyone. Dede was there with Dad and from the kitchen I assembled a delicious Strawberry, Walnut, Feta, Chicken, Baby Spinach Salad. Dad used the grill to cook the chicken and we had a scrumptious dinner - all 5 of us. The conversation changed direction several times and I got to tell Mark and David a lot of information of my travels over the past 2 months - they hadn't been reading the blog. I shared the story of traveling to Vermont with them and they proceeded to entertain each other with comedic relief at the expense of my unique Vermont experience - (I think I was the only one not amused with the light-joking and poking-fun).

Dinner ended around 9pm with all of the salad being gobbled up by the dinner-party. I am glad they were so happy with the food and the taste of it. David and Mark left about the same time I was leaving to go over to Ben Tucker's house in Silver Lake. I had called Ben - a long-time friend from Hebrew school and growing up - and he had invited me over to the house for Tom Dodson's 25th birthday celebration. Tom is another fellow high school graduate. In fact, almost every man at this party was a fellow high school friend or graduate. Ben lives in Silver Lake with Aaron Hayos and Kevin Corti. Ryan Velasco and Bryan Hayos were there as well. On the other end of the spectrum, none of the women there were from high school - a totally new complexion of females that I was in a struggle to get to know as I was there. I was in this struggle because it had been so long since I had seen these guys and I was sincerely interested in what they were doing with their lives now. I was also excited to tell them about the adventures and travels I had been on for the past 2 month - and how my life has totally changed. This meant that I only got to truly meet to a couple ladies - Janell (Tom's sister in-law) and Rose (Bryan's girlfriend).

The night was magnificent in Silver Lake. Ben, Aaron, and Kevin's house is situated at the top of Mitcheltorena Ave. It has an amazing view of downtown LA and the Los Angeles basin. The lights of the city quaintly fluttered in the background of Ben and his specially marinated chicken on the barbeque. It seemed like there was 13-16 people there for the cutting of the red-velvet cake and the birthday song for Tom at the later-end of the evening. Once people started to leave, that is when Ben and I got to really talk.

Ben and I caught up, talked, shared, and reconnected for a couple hours - all the way until 1am. I found out the trials and tribulations of his HBO to BuckTV career changed and what he is doing for work. I shared my thoughts on my family and life ambitions with him for a good 30 minutes to an hour. We embraced multiple times as I was thoroughly happy to see him and where his life has taken him. Ben is and will always be one of my great friends because of all the time we spent together growing up - I'll never forget him.

My slumber was interrupted by Dad at 8am Thursday morning. He wanted me to go with him to the gym again and "get the day started!" I didn't go to bed until 2am - so I was pretty tired. I woke up 30 minutes later to the voice in my head saying that I should go to the gym for health and happiness. I ran out the door to try and catch Dad as he drove off - but it was too later. I then turned back inside to my room and threw on my running shoes and clothes - I ran the 3.1 miles to the gym. It was a good run as I listened to the Moth podcast and another life-story on relationship issues between this man and his girlfriend that he got pregnant by accident when he was still in college. It was a remarkable story. I encourage you to listen to these podcasts from the Moth stage because they are spectacularly entertaining.

I got to the gym and did some quick lifting for my shoulders and did some core-abdominals work. I wasn't really done working out when Dad got done with his workout/yoga session and said he was leaving. I didn't really want to run back as well - so I cut my workout short. I took and shower and ate some breakfast at Dad's before getting on the computer again. This time I used the computer time to research English-teaching opportunities in South America - specifically Chile and Argentina.

The programs in these countries actually start in late March and April - the beginning of the school year in these countries. I have been interested in teaching english in any of these spanish speaking countries as a teaching assistant for at least a year. The interest has actually only been limited interest and talking about it - not actually doing it. If I want to go down there, I am going to have to put my words, thoughts, and intentions into action. My plan as of now is to travel in the United States for another month and then start working HARD to save money in Los Angeles before heading to one of these South American countries. I have been looking at many opportunities - some of them include teaching english while others involve working at a hostel in exchange for room and board. The goal is to get paid for work and use the majority of my free-time to volunteer in the community - helping others and learning from their culture and way-of-life. Expect me to be in South America starting December 25th.

I then took a quick power-nap until lunch time with dad.

Dad and I went to lunch at Panera in North Hollywood where I had a half-sandwich and salad. Panera is probably the best fast-food/quick dining experience there is. It is healthier than all of your fast-food restaurants combined and seems much more fresh - not to mention they have some really cute ladies working there. After lunch, dad and I went to Target to get dad some new Dri-Fit shirts and shorts for comfort wear and working out. He was envious of my Nike dri-fit shirts and shorts meaning he had to buy some for himself. We spent 30 minutes or so getting him those clothes before getting back to his place. He was kind enough to buy me a casual dress-shirt at Target (something I had but left in Montreal on accident). When we got back to dad's house, I watched some Sportscenter as dad worked a bit before the Dodger game.

Dad and I got invited to the Dodger game with Morris and Debbie Kessler. Debbie and my dad have been friends for many years - a friendship former when Debbie and Gary Toby were married. Debbie and Morris married 10+ years ago going to thousands of Dodger games over the years. Morris and his family have owned the same seats in Dodger stadium since it opened in 1961 or 1962. The seats are remarkable - third row from the Dodgers dugout. I was so excited to go to my 6th different professional baseball game in less that 2 months! Especially because dad had told me about these seats and that Ted Lilly was pitching. Ted was 4-0 since being traded to the Dodgers from the Cubs and was on fire!

We got to the stadium before the first-pitch and talked while waiting for Morris and Debbie. They got to the park on time but without the tickets. They said it was the first time they had ever forgotten the tickets at home! There was no major dilemma because Morris got some replacement tickets from the season ticket holder window - courtesy of a $20 reprinting fee. We all got the seats and started watching a masterful performance on the mound by Ted Lilly. I would say that we all had a great time watching the Dodgers win and Ted pitch a complete game shutout. What a night!

The next morning I worked on the DJ demo after sleeping in until 10am. I uploaded my pictures from the Dodger game to the computer as well. I was doing these two things as mom made her way down from La Canada to Costco to dad's house to pick me up. The transition from dad's house to mom's house was in-place. I settled in at the La Canada home and then went on some errands for myself and mom. I went to the bank and the grocery store. When I got back to the house, Paul was there and the three of us sat down to talk and eat and talk for hours. Mom made a fantastic dinner as always and there was a ton of discussion about Ben Goldsmith (my brother), my travels, work, money, life, and many other things.

David Weaver, Justin Martin, and Paris were downtown when I got in touch with them about meeting up together (Friday night). They told me to meet them at a lounge/bar downtown. I drove the 15-20 minutes down from La Canada to Los Angeles in mom's PT Cruiser. On the way down the accelerator got stuck inside the engine, making the car act as if where on cruise control when driving and accelerating the engine constantly when I dropped my foot on the clutch to change gears. I was somewhat worried when I parked the car - thinking I might not be able to make it back to La Canada after the night ended.

In the past, I probably would have been extremely worried and over-concerned with the issues the car was having, but I didn't let it bother me and made a calculated projection based on what I felt driving that the car would be fine. I locked the car up and walked into this overly-dark lounge to meet David, Justin, and Paris. Based on David's texts, it sounded like they were already there. I came to find out while entering that they were in a taxi about to arrive. I hung out for a couple of minutes, surveying the 2,000 sq. ft. rectangle bar/lounge before meeting them outside next to the bouncer and an ID check.

It had been 5 months since I had seen them - the last time in Las Vegas. They were taken aback with my weight loss just as my brother and father were. It is always a flattering comment when someone recognizes the progress you make in achieving your goals. I thanked them and turned their attention to the women that were in the bar - or the illusion of the lack-there of women. It was so dark inside this bar that you couldn't see anyone's faces. I made a decision that night that I prefer illuminated night life locations to the murky/dark locations.

David bought a round of drinks for the group as we talked amongst each other and to strangers of the opposite sex. There were some entertaining moments as Justin talked to almost every female there - transforming the suds he consumed into an uncensored dialogue about life, weather, sex, fun, locale, and drinking. We decided as a group we would bar-hop over to a dive on the corner up the road. It was a relaxing hang out spot with a couple of DJ's in the corner and a very open dance floor. The dancing commenced after some more beverages were consumed - with me being the only one not drinking as I was reminded by busted PT Cruiser across the street before we entered the place.

I left at 1:00am on my own to drive back to La Canada. I had to wake up early to ride with dad to Lake Arrowhead the next morning to see Benjamin! My only blood-brother. It would be the first time I had seen him since Las Vegas, 5 months previous.

A beautiful dreamscape engulfed my slumber in preparation for a weekend on the mountain and the lake.