SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA: The Three Things I Like Best About That City

My favorite image of the town I grew up in and lived for 22 years….

 

Everybody has a hometown.

Technically, I have two…

Riverside, CA, fifty miles east of Los Angeles, where I was born, spent the first nine years of my life, and have idyllic memories of as I lived with loving grandparents in a rural community outside of that city.

The other place I consider my hometown?

Santa Monica, CA, fifteen miles west of downtown Los Angeles, a town famous for its beach and pier.

It’s in Santa Monica where I lived for 22 and a half years, eighteen in one house.

It’s in Santa Monica where I spent my pubescence, adolescence, and young adulthood.

And it’s in Santa Monica where I did the milestone/rites of passage; play little league,  get my first  (unrequited) crushes on girls,  graduate high school, work at my first jobs, things like that.

Though it’s approaching twenty years since I lived there, moving to Culver City at the end of 1998, there are three things about that seaside town that provide fond memories.

I won’t waste any time with listing those three things:

 

1.  THE AFTERNOON SEA BREEZES

Being that it borders the Pacific Ocean (or technically, Santa Monica Bay), Santa Monicans have been blessed with what I call God’s air conditioning, as starting at roughly 3:00 p.m. winds from the ocean cool that city – and neighboring ones like Venice, Pacific Palisades, and Marina Del Rey – and make it very desirable while starting at between five to ten miles inland the temperature significantly rises.

On hot days, that means that while people in Santa Monica and other beach cities are reveling in those cool breezes, folks living inland are suffering.

Why else does the beach in Santa Monica, Venice, Malibu, and other places get crowded with wall-to-wall people during heat waves?

 

 

A VERY nice view of the Santa Monica Mountains, Malibu, and Point Dume at sunset. Photo courtesy of shuttlestock.com

 

2. THE VIEW OF MALIBU AND THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS ON A CLEAR DAY

On a clear day, particularly after it rains, I always loved looking north and viewing the Santa Monica Mountains and various places like Pacific Palisades, Malibu, and Point Dume.

The views of those area is especially spectacular from the Santa Monica Pier, which I took some time to do on Christmas morning in 1998, just a few days before I moved away as I wanted to set my eyes on that incredible view one last time.

I unfortunately haven’t been able to see that sight due to the pier being crowded with tourists and life’s obligations in general, but rest assured that view is something about Santa Monica that I’ve always appreciated.

 

 

My all-time favorite place to eat – sorry that the picture is so small! Photo courtesy of camposfamousburritos.com

 

3. CAMPOS FAMOUS BURRITOS, ON 20TH STREET AND PICO BOULEVARD

There has been no other place where I’ve preferred to eat in my lifetime.

Since age eight, I have been enjoying the tacos, nachos, and burritos from what was originally called Las Palmas until it was renamed Campos around the late 1970s.

Having lived two blocks from Campos for 18 years, I have had a long history with that place…

I remember taking field trips with my junior high school Spanish class to that Mexican eatery for lunch, taking dares to drink the hot green salsa.

Though I was a bit too much of a goody-goody to do so, many of my friends have ditched school to enjoy Campos food.

I can recall taking dates there during my early 20’s.

And my latest enjoyable memory of Campos?

Going there on my 50th birthday to buy avocado burritos, which incredibly enough I had never tried as I always preferred ground beef tacos in my youth and chicken tacos and burritos in later years.

I don’t have to tell you the waves of nostalgia that passed through me that day.

In fact, if someone asked me what my number one memory of living in Santa Monica is, Campos would be it.

I thank God that there’s a branch about a block and a half from where I live in Culver City; their tacos was the first meal I had upon moving there.

I’m quite proud and blessed that I’ve been eating and enjoying Campos food for over forty years, and will continue to.

 

So there they are – my three fondest memories of my twenty-two and a half years in Santa Monica.

Hopefully these descriptions make anyone from that town who may be reading this smile.

 

 

The inside of the Original Campos on 20th & Pico in Santa Monica, which is so successful there are several branches all over Los Angeles’ Westside. Photo courtesy of tripadvasor.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TURNING FIFTY: Personal Musings About A Milestone Birthday

 

 

THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS FROM AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN WITH ASPERGER’S AS I APPROACH MY 50th BIRTHDAY

18, 263 days old – at least as of this coming Sunday.

I’ll be honest, as I usually am…

Anytime anyone reaches fifty years of life, it needs to be celebrated.

Particularly – considering the sometimes extreme tension and polarization that we are currently in – those who are Black males in America.

And on the Autism Spectrum to boot.

Which is why I’m celebrating my 50th birthday this weekend with something that I haven’t done in decades and won’t do again…

Throw a big party.

I can’t imagine being fifty years old, and I probably won’t be able to imagine it even after the fact as when I was a kid – and throughout my life, really – I saw fifty as being, for lack of a better way to describe it, on the border between regular adulthood and senior citizen status.

What’s more, it’s hard to imagine the people I knew as kids, who I went to school and grew up with, turning fifty.

Yes, I know what people say:

“50 is the new 40 (or 30 or whatever)”,

“Age ain’t nothing but a number”,

And I don’t disagree with those sentiments as save for a gout condition and the hypertension that I’m controlling quite nicely with medication, changing my diet and exercise as well as playing pick-up softball on a regular basis for over twenty years, I think I’m in pretty good shape.

 

 

I like this mug – shows the year I was born and the fact that yes, my parts are original! Photo courtesy of amazon.com

 

 

However,

It’s still weird to think of myself as a fifty-something.

Especially when I look back on my life, as I reckon folks commonly do when they reach a milestone birthday.

When I think about it, although there have been some struggles in my social and emotional development due to having Asperger’s as I was bullied and shunned as a young guy in school and have had troubles working for someone else in subsequent years, not being able to hold a job for longer for three years,

Which is the reason why I became a writer and online blogger with a book describing my experiences as an Aspie, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, nearly done with a target date for (self) publication at the end of the summer,

And although I have missed out on some of the stages of life considered normal in American society such as marriage and opposite sex relationships as my behavior has for the most part rendered me as “not boyfriend/husband material” – which I have accepted as marriage is not for everyone,

I can honestly say that I have had a blessed life to this point, a life for which I am grateful.

I have a family, friends, and particularly a mother that has loved, understood and supported me, which considering my place on the Autism Spectrum hasn’t always been the easiest thing to do,

Grandparents who gave me an idyllic childhood, who I’ll always love and, as they are no longer with us, dearly miss,

And have enjoyed a relatively middle class life.

In other words, I have been quite lucky and fortunate that God has blessed me this way.

Especially since there are SO many people whose lot in life hasn’t been close to being how they would like as living in the Los Angeles area, the nation’s homeless capital, I see plenty of the less fortunate.

 

 

This is really cool; a list of things that happened the year I was born, including celebrities who will like wise be celebrating their 50th birthdays – though they spelled Kurt Cobain’s (RIP) name wrong. Image courtesy of Pinterest.com

 

 

My Biggest Birthday Wish (Besides the usual good time at my big shindig):

I want to spend Sunday – my actual birthday – in the place where I was born and spent my early childhood…

Riverside, CA, as that was where my grandparents gave me my idyllic childhood, living in a rural area (more suburban today) outside of town where my neighbors had horses and I had cows for a time; there’s even a picture of me at eight years old feeding one.

As there’s a heat wave approaching the area this weekend and my tolerance for 90 to 100 degree-plus weather has waned in recent years, I won’t be devastated if I don’t get to be there as I’ll do something else special.

But it would be fitting if I was in the town where I spent my early formative years fifty years to the day that I was born.

Outside of that, I just want to have an enjoyable weekend.

And if someone came up to me and said that I could have one wish, I would say to be in good health as a friend of mine puts it quite well,

“The best wealth is health.”

 

Summing Things Up As My Big Day Approaches:

The first thing I’m going to do when I wake up the morning of June 18th is say a big prayer of thanks to God for letting me see my 50th birthday.

I see it as a gift a there’s quite a few people I knew and grew up with who are tragically unable to have a 50th birthday as they are no longer here.

That’s why my overall feelings are those of appreciation and gratitude.

I won’t take this birthday, or any subsequent birthdays, for granted as being an African-American with Asperger’s, I am very thankful that my life has gone the way it has.

I hope that I feel the same way, and be able to say the same things I’m saying now, in the next three decades.

 

 

I certainly hope this birthday is a happy one for me. Photo courtesy of monicahswe.wordpress.com

 

 

 

ADDING ANOTHER YEAR: Thoughts Regarding My Birthday

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March Air Force Base in Riverside, CA – where I was born and in a full-circle way would very much like to visit next year on my 50th birthday. Photo courtesy of pinterest.com

 

WHAT’S GOING ON IN AND THROUGH MY HEAD AS I ADD ANOTHER YEAR TO MY LIFE SPAN

Not intending to sound pompous, but…

Roughly 36 hours from this writing, I will officially enter the last year of my forties.

Meaning – if I have done the simple math correctly – I will officially be one year away from the ultimate middle-age milestone:

The big five-zero.

Most of my thoughts, as my birthday approaches, is not unlike others in the same situation.

Of course it should go without saying that I’m very grateful and blessed to be able to add another candle on my birthday cake.

Especially since the list of people I’ve known throughout my life, folks I grew up with and others,  who have not made it to 49 (my age as of the 18th of this month) has been growing due to various factors like disease; I can think of several people I knew well who have succumbed to cancer off the top of my head.

Quite sad – again, that goes without saying.

Being the age generally considered middle-aged in general society, besides my health issues that have already been written about, there’s another thing that I’ve been experiencing for a while that has me concerned…

Forgetfulness.

Actually, I have had a habit of forgetting important things since childhood; I remember being locked out of my house more than once as a kid and a young adult because I forgot my keys.

And what’s worse, I wouldn’t realize that I’d forgotten them until I arrived home from school or work or whatever.

This absent-mindedness reared its head again recently, when after arriving home I realized that I had left the hard drive that the book I’m working on, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, at the library.

Which, as you could imagine, would have been devastating to the point of considering abandonment of the whole endeavor if it weren’t for the fact that when I went back to the library, the good people there had it in their lost and found.

I was relieved as I left the place, but couldn’t help feeling a tiny bit frustrated over this continuing habit of forgetting things and not finding out until much later that I had forgotten them.

There have been times when I would wonder if this was an early sign of Alzheimer’s or Dementia, or merely a “senior moment”.

I obviously hope not, as the best thing I can do is wait and see.

One thing’s for certain as I advance in age…

While I’m physically feeling the effects of middle age in the form of not only hypertension – for which I’ve been taking medication – exercising, and changing my diet to combat this issue for the past year and a half,

But also in the form of pain in my upper back (when I’ve been on my feet for a period of time), left Achilles tendon, and particularly my right knee as since early spring, whenever I have done cardio, walked long distances, or played softball, I’d wake up the next morning with my knee hurting fairly badly, which would go away after putting ointment on it and/or spraying it,

Emotionally speaking, I don’t feel like a 49 year-old, at least the way American society says 49 ought to feel like.

Without going into detail – I’ll save that for the book – I don’t always behave the way people on the verge of fifty years old ought to behave according to American norms, as I always feel like I’m “walking on eggshells” (hence the reason why I renamed my book) to fit my square peg of an Asperger’s person into the neurotypical round hole.

Having said all of this…

It is NOT my intention to whine about how crappy my life is; I know full well how blessed and loved I am.

Even if, in my aspieness, I don’t always see it.

As for birthday plans, they’ll be relatively modest, the big highlight being playing softball as it will be the third time I will have played the game I’ve played nearly my whole life on the anniversary of the day I was born.

It should be fun.

Outside of having food from my favorite Mexican restaurant, a place where I’ve eaten for over forty years – if you’re from Santa Monica, you should know what that restaurant is – and cake, that’s basically it.

It’s next year when, like so many other folks turning 50, my birthday will be a relatively big affair.

But for now, I’ll give much thanks to God when I wake up on the 18th, as I always do,

And enjoy this personal holiday.

 

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Where I spent my early childhood – Woodcrest, CA, a suburb of Riverside which to me was most idyllic. Photo courtesy of activerain.com

 

 

MY ASPIE LIFE: The Latest Update

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Riverside, CA, my early childhood home town as I spent my first nine years and nearly every school vacation until age 18 there; with all due respect to Santa Monica, thoughts of this place has always induced a sense of “home” in me because of the memories I have about it and the sense that I’ve always seemed to have fitted in better there.

 

 

This won’t take too long; at least I hope it won’t…

I’ll be honest: because of other various commitments, most notably working on growing my sports fan blog site, SoCal Sports Annals (click on the link to check out the site) as there are projects in the works appearing on that site in the next couple of weeks,

I haven’t had time to work on my book, “MY ASPIE LIFE: Living With Asperger’s Syndrome In A Neuroypical World” .

I know this makes it seem like I am lazy, particularly since I had finished the first draft of the last chapter, but what I stated about being busy with other things is the truth.

Not that I have any plans for this non-action to continue as after some thought, I have realized that I have much to rewrite, edit, and cut before it can be (self) published and unleashed upon the world.

Actually, I’ve always known that would be the case.

Which is why I must admit I’ve made mistakes in saying that “MY ASPIE LIFE” would be done by now, or by the end of the year as I have told some people.

If I want this book of mine to be of some true quality, to be considered good, I can’t impose any personal etched-in-stone deadlines.

Else I would feel pressured and anxiety would kick in, two things that I do not need.

Having said that, I don’t want years to go by before the book is done, either.

What it all comes down to is this:

It would be better to wait a while and publish a book of good quality than to do a cursory skimming of the manuscript, publish the book sooner rather than later, and not feel 100% happy and content with my work.

Especially since I consider“MY ASPIE LIFE”  the one thing in the world that is truly mine and that I want to be remembered by.

For all those who have expressed a desire and interest in reading this work-in-progress tome, I could post some small excerpts in the near future, since I’ll be busy on SoCal Sports Annals with pieces having to do with the opening of college football season and the climax of baseball season among other things, which will take quite a bit of time.

If excerpts are something that people would like to see, please let me know in the comments on this page or on Facebook or Twitter when this gets posted on those two sites.

I hope there are folks out here who are interested; it would be kind of cool to post some little previews.