Sunday, October 27, 2013


I've read --- and often said myself --- that a diamond is just a piece of coal that's done very well under great pressure. I'm vertical and breathing, and being seen and not viewed, so I guess I've done "well"; so if the saying is true, the almost-72-year-old lump of coal named Don Young should eclipse the Hope Diamond! Saturday, October 26, 2013, was easily one of the most stressful, frustrating days I've ever spent.

Saturday, October 26. That date stands out for me, because I had three very important, but mutually exclusive, commitments for the evening of that day. As it turns out, I wasn't able to keep any of them; neither. None. Not even ONE. Arghhh...! 

NOTICE: This post isn't going to be of interest to anyone; I'm doing this for purely selfish reasons. I often suggest that friends who're going through a lot of...well, stuff...should write about it, and that's what I'm doing here. So, from the beginning...

Actually, I think that the root of  my October 26 problems is weeks before that date, back when I lost my keys. On my ring were not only the keys to my building and apartment, but also to my mailbox, and to a hall where a meeting I attend weekly is held. Fortunately, there's absolutely nothing on that ring to identify the locations of the locks which the keys fit. At any rate, as I said, one of the keys was to the mailbox in my apartment building, so I've not had access to that box since I lost the keys. I'm having my mail held at the post office until I can afford to replace the lock and key, but the mail that's already been delivered and is in the box won't be diverted to the post office.

One of the pieces of mail which I missed was, apparently, an invitation to a celebration of one of my friends' 70th birthday. I didn't know a thing about that until she emailed me, asking for my response to the invitation. In the meantime, on the previous Sunday, at church, I'd committed to attending another grand event in the beautiful garden area of my church. Dinners for those events were being catered, so accurate counts of the number of attendees was very important. A third commitment I'd made for that very same evening was that I'd arranged for a friend of mine that I hadn't seen for well over a year to speak at a meeting I attend every week; I'd looked forward to seeing and hearing David (not his real name) again.

Three commitments/obligations, all at the same time!  What to do? How could I decide which to attend? Well, here's how I reasoned:

  1. I could get out of attending the weekly recovery meeting; yes, I'm secretary of the group, but there are other guys I could get to sub for me that night. And, since I'm now back in touch by phone with my friend the speaker, I could re-schedule him. Not good, but not disastrous.
  2. A little more difficult was deciding not to attend the church function, since it really was an important event, and only days before I had promised two members of the planning committee that I would definitely be there, and they had probably included me in the number of parishioners that were expected to attend, and for whom food would be provided. Sticky, yes; disastrous, no.
  3. A person only turns 70 once, so celebrating the third event, the birthday party, would be A Big Deal. Avie (her real name, or a contraction of it, anyway) has turned out to be a truly amazing church and Facebook friend, and I looked forward to helping her celebrate this milestone, and to meeting others of her friends and family, people with whom I'd made passing acquaintance on Facebook (there's probably some vestige of surprise that a...well, let's just say, melanin-deficient --- New Orleans native such as she and so many of her friends and relatives would even want me at one of her important social events; it's not at all likely that Back In The Day when we were kids, her friends and even some of her relatives would have been  comfortable with socializing with someone as dark as I am!). So, attending that event was almost a given. Besides, others from church --- including a warden (co-head of the vestry, the parish council) --- would be attending both events 2 & 3; maybe I could get a ride from the church event to the birthday bash.

So it was settled. I got someone to sub for me at Event #1; I advised the two friends who had approached me about Event #2 that, unfortunately, I could not attend 
despite what I'd promised the preceding Sunday; and I promised Avie I would be at her party, Event #3. Then I emailed the manager of the agency for which I volunteer that I couldn't be at my station on October 26, although I later decided that I could be there.

Then I changed my mind;  big mistake! Instead of closing my booth at 6 as I usually do on Saturdays, I would close at 5, go home, take a shower, pick up Avie's gift, and head to the party. Cocktails were going to be served from 7 - 8, and since I no longer drink, I figured that it wouldn't hurt for me to arrive at 7:30 or 7:45. Even though I spend 25 - 30 hours every week dispensing transit information, I wanted to be sure that I had the right info, so I went online to planner rather than rely on my own trip planning.

That was the second Big Mistake. I am very unfamiliar with the part of the city where the event was being held, and only had an address from the picture of the invitation which my friend emailed me (actually, it wasn't "email," but I don't know what you call how she sent me the picture online). Armed with  my directions, off I went. I should have known better, I really should have. I remember one morning seeing where some people had printed out instructions from that website, directions for traveling from Union Station to LACMA that sent them eastward --- eastward! --- on Cesar Chavez to Soto, then down to Whittier Blvd., and westward from there on bus #720, instead of the much simpler and almost infintely more obvious Red or Purple Line westward to Wilshire/Vermont, and the #720 going west on Wilshire to LACMA. So, I don't know why I decided to go with for directions to this extremely important event. Maybe it was the fact that I considered it "extremely important," and didn't want to take chances; I don't know. All I do know is that I should have mapped it out myself.

After I got home and started out, the downward swing of the evening began. I got a phone call from Oklahoma while I was at home, so I fell behind on my already-tight schedule. Once I was off the phone, I grabbed Avie's gift and ran out to catch the first of my three buses --- and promptly left the gift at the bus stop! As soon as I remembered, I jumped off the bus and backtracked, but of course, the package was gone!

So, I stopped and bought her a small live plant, which I have to admit looked as forlorn as I felt right then --- and feel right now, to be honest. Better that than nothing, and I just simply couldn't afford to replace the gift I'd lost (I'm not saying what it is, because I want to give her a replacement, and I want it to be a surprise).

Off again, to Wilshire/Westwood Blvd. (yes, that's where told me to transfer to a Culver City bus, I kid you not). The 720 came, and I took it to Sepulveda/LaGrange (don't ask; remember, I'm following directions), which wasn't even close to the 11300 block on Olympic, where the event was being held. Finally got there (by now, it was after 8, and dinner/dancing was supposed to start at 8!), but then I had to walk down to Olympic, and then west, maybe 1/2 mile, to the location.

The location. The Olympic Collection isn't really a big place, but my Lord, I've never seen so many nooks and crannies in one building in my life. By the time I got there, it was after 8:30, but I consoled myself by thinking that it was 8 CFT (no, I won't explain what "CFT" means; if you don't know, you don't need to know, trust me!). And not an employee in sight; no doormen, no valets, no nothing. Several events were going on, and I peeped or wandered into three of them (and got strange and/or dirty looks!); there were two or three churches (one, I remember, was City of Angels Church), and even a "House-flipping Boot Camp." But no Aveline Kimball birthday celebration that anyone knew about. I went up and down on elevators and winding, twisting stairwells --- but no Kimball Birthday Bash. Reluctantly, well after 9, I slunk northward on, I think, Sawtelle, toward Santa Monica Blvd. --- which is much farther away from Olympic at that point than it was on Sepulveda. But I did see a host of nice little restaurants that I would never have seen if I hadn't gotten lost. Not that I'd ever be able to afford any of them, not these days.

But I missed Avie's birthday party. And the garden party at church. And even hearing David speak at my Saturday night meeting. Then, with my splitting headache, I couldn't sleep. Tossed and turned; got up and took a nice, long bath; tossed and turned some more. Finally, a couple of hours ago, just gave up, got up and put on some coffee, and started writing this tripe.

I don't think I'll go to church today. I know I should go --- its probably exactly what I need, but I don't think I'll go. I think I'll try again to sleep, then get up and eat some breakfast, then get ready to go downtown to my volunteer gig. And hope that Sunday, October 27, is nowhere near a repeat of Saturday, October 26.

Anyway: Happy Birthday, Avie! You don't know how sorry I am that I missed your celebration.