Wednesday, October 31, 2012

People Who Live In Glass Houses

Around this time last year, I put on a happy face trying to make light of a scary situation-- Burglaries in my neighborhood, in THIS POST.  At that point in time, 15 house had suffered "smash and grab" robberies and I was pretty freaked out about it.  So, for peace of mind, I wore and literally carried around with me my most cherished jewelry and possessions for SEVEN months.

I did my due diligence as well to ensure our home was as safe as possible, and I talked with my security alarm company, the Homeowners Association, our Councilman's office, the police Watch Commander and all of my neighbors.  In short-- I was obsessed about making sure robberies in my 'hood did not happen again.

But they did happen, despite our living in a "safe neighborhood".  One house after another was robbed with the same actions--  Smash a back door or window for entry, grab as much loot as time allows, then run to the corner and get picked up by a waiting vehicle.  Despite so many people's best efforts the "robbery ring" continued. 

Friday it was our turn.

Very shortly after I turned our alarm on and left our home, our glass back door was broken-- the exterior door leading to our bedroom-- the 1/4 inch, super thick, glass door we had to take advantage of the beautiful view from our yard...

...was shattered to smithereens leaving our home wide open to robbers.  And rob they did.

The bedroom was methodically ransacked until they found the "mother load of loot" then it appears, they decided to leave the bedroom to explore other areas of our home.  That's when our so called "state of the art" motion sensor burglar system kicked in and the alarm blasted them right back out the broken bedroom door to disappear into the infamous LA traffic.

Our bedroom door.  Gulp.   The one place we thought we were the absolute safest in our home turned out to be the most vulnerable.  If the robbers had actually opened the door an alarm would have sounded but glass isn't "alarmable" and so they removed it.

Days later the sick feeling in my stomach is still very present.  The bedroom door is still boarded up awaiting the replacement glass and is a stark reminder of the destruction and angst caused by a very organized and skillful group of @#$%&! gang members.

I have since learned of newer, more modern "shatter detectors" for glass and, since the entire back of our home is floor to ceiling windows, they will be promptly installed.  Once again, I have made the rounds through our neighborhood distributing information and literally begging homeowners to use their alarm system (the other two houses robbed the same day did not have their alarms on).

Our alarm company representative has been to our home to review our system for recommendations on how best to "arm" our home (short of a gun which I do not want).  And I just spent an hour with the police fingerprint officer-- his black and white police car parked in front of our home brought a momentary calmness to my racing mind.

I see the horrible destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy on the television and know that millions of people are in a much, much worse place.  I'm ashamed to be so upset over a situation that clearly is minor in the scheme of things.  But still, sleep is hard to come by and I am shaken to my core.

Tonight I will be the Halloween Scrooge and not pass out candy-- The thought of opening my door to strangers is too frightening.  And, the knowledge that neighbors will ask if I heard about the burglaries means explaining I not only heard but I SAW--  I love Halloween but my yard full of decorations have been removed and the front of our house will be dark.  The window-filled back of my house will, however, be lite up like a Christmas tree so there is no doubt we are home.

My sweet husband will hold down the fort here, and tomorrow I'm running away from home-- to my first home-- in Ohio.  I.  Want.  My.  Mommy!  Soon I will be eating the worst homemade meatloaf you ever tasted but it will be my Mother's meatloaf.  As odd as it may sound, I find great comfort in that. 

Stay safe, my friends.  xo jj

Monday, October 22, 2012

Vodka, Please


For nearly four years I've been hanging out in Blogland and met, through their writing, photography and artwork, some pretty amazing folks.  I never dreamed how meaningful these connections would become and I'm blessed to call so many of you friends.

I'm guessing you also know VodkaMom-- She's pretty much a legend in these parts and she has a heart of gold.  VM blogs about life and her amazing first graders.  Over the years, she's left me snorting orange juice up my nose, turning blue from laughing so hard, and on occasion, crying a river from her stories.

Today VodkaMom had hip replacement surgery!  (You can hear about how this come to be HERE.)

I yiyi!!!!  That cannot be fun and I'm hoping you'll help me cheer her on. 

Please stop by HERE and wish VodkaMom well.  And, if you don't know her already-- scroll around her blog and read a little-- or a lot.  You'll be glad you did.

Thanks a million.

Welcome to  -  Joanna Jenkins

Monday, October 8, 2012

Four Hours

I spent four hours today sorting through my closet in an effort to find three days worth of cool weather clothes to pack for an upcoming trip back East where it's about 25 degrees cooler than it is in Los Angeles.  Three.  Full.  Hours.

It seemed like a simple task when I started, especially since I have a jammed packed closet of clothes, but after trying everything on for an hour and a half, I started from scratch and out on two pair of Spanx--  That helped considerably.

All I need are three daytime outfits (one jeans and two for "nicer" lunches in the city with friends) and three evening outfits (for the theater, a swank dinner and a black tie wedding).  Finding six outfits wore me down!

I realized that when it comes to cold/Fall/rainy/East Coast weather I'm pretty limited in my selection of not only clothes but shoes-- as in closed toe shoes (not sandals), especially for a lot of daytime walking in something other than sneakers.  And as far as clothes go--  Black, black and black are my color only options.

Seriously, everything I own that's remotely warm enough for the trip, other than a couple of white long sleeves tee shirts, is black.

Yawn.  I've really got to work on that.

I was at my wits end, so I Skyped my favorite fashion expert for advice.....

My Great Niece E - age 2 years 4 months.
She suggested I wear an outfit just like hers-- All day, every day.... Glowing magic wand optional.

Dress Happy!

Welcome to  -  Joanna Jenkins

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Every now and then something happens that feels like a sucker punch to the face causing me to stop and be so present in the moment that it takes my breath away.  I hope that feeling has never, or does not ever, happen to you.  This week it happened to me again.

I was reminded how fragile life is when I walked into our favorite deli-- like my husband and I do every weekend morning for breakfast, and asked to sit in our favorite waitress' station.  The look on the young hosts face gave me pause, then a busboy rushed over followed by another waitress to tell me that Terri, a 20 year veteran of the deli, had passed away in the night from a massive heart attack.  Terri was only 53 years old.

The weekend prior she was out sick because of bronchitis.  Terri actually called my cell phone when she knew we'd be at the deli so I wouldn't worry about her.  She said she was okay but not feeling great.  She was seeing the doctor the next day.

Beyond being a fave waitress, Terri and I developed a friendship outside the restaurant that included emails and phone calls to catch up with each other on family and life in general.  Together we shared the loss of her mother ten years and my step-day last year, the joyful births of our numerous nieces and nephews, health issues, and new stores and restaurants in our neighborhood.  We had sort of woven ourselves into each other's lives over the years and considered ours a meaningful friendship.

Terri called me from the doctor's office to say she was on the way to the hospital because her bronchitis was far more than that.  She'd actually suffered a heart attack and was being whisked away.  We talked briefly so I could take down phone numbers of people she wanted me to call and promised to call me later.

We talked from her Intensive Care Unit bed for the next four days as doctors worked to stabilize her bronchitis that had rapidly progressed into pneumonia and to find a solution to her heart issues.  Wednesday night she started to sound better and a bit stronger when we talked and was optimistic but frustrated with the endless paperwork and social workers because she did not have any medical insurance.

Thursday multiple phone calls to Terri's hospital room and cell phone went unanswered.  Thursday evening she had a massive heart attack and was gone.

As my husband and I were finally seated after hearing the news on Friday, numerous wait staff members stopped by our table to share their sadness.  They'd only learned of Terri's passing a few hours earlier and were all still in shock.  Terri was a sweetheart and loved by so many that I wasn't surprised that the "old timers" who'd worked with her for countless years would be devastated.  But an interesting thing happened around the restaurant...

There was clearly a different vibe in the deli that morning and even if you didn't know Terri or what had happened, you knew something was up.  As regular patrons and "Terri's customers" continued to arrive and learn the sad news, sobs and words of shock could be heard around the dining room.

Terri had, purely by her smile, thoughtfulness, kind words and great service, touched the lives of so many people who were genuinely sadden by her passing.  The thing is, I think that Terri would be surprised by how many people miss her.  I don't think she realized what a difference she made in people's lives.

I know in the coming weeks more and more deli patrons will ask for Terri and hear of her passing. Many will cry as I continue to do.  And, I think many will pause for just a moment and remember her kindness.  I hope they take a moment-- we all take a moment-- to remember the people we see on a regular basis that touch our lives, even with something as simple as delivering eggs and a bagel with a smile and a few kind words.  Terri has reminded me to stay present and to take a moment to appreciate life's little things.

Big sigh.

Welcome to  -  Joanna Jenkins
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