Whoa, time is flying by! I can’t believe the second week of my internship is almost over.
Things are getting really busy at work, so to be honest, I didn’t really feel like blogging at all. After a 8-9 hour’s day of work, I just want to come home and watch a 30 Rock marathon.
But I feel like I have to blog today, because so many thoughts have been piling up in my head like the stacks of case histories I have piled on my desk, and I need an outlet.
One of the biggest responsibilities in my job is to publicize the L.A. Times Summer Camp Campaign. It’s kind of a unique feature thing to raise funds to send underprivileged and impoverished kids between ages 7-17 to summer camps.
That means I have to shift through pages and pages of case histories that different non-profit organizations send me and determine who will make a great story and who to interview for my twice-weekly stories.
These case histories are brief profile and histories of these kids that need funding for summer camps. And none of them are pretty.
For example, today, I interviewed a Salvadorian mother and her adorable, spunky 12-year-old daughter, Jennifer. The mother speaks little English, so we had a translator beside us. But even with the language barrier, I found the woman so charming and likeable. She is like 5 feet tall and always smiling, the kind of jolly woman you want to hug.
All I really knew about the Jennifer’s history is that her parents had a nasty divorce. I really didn’t mean to probe too much into this personal detail; I just asked the mother why she moved to America, and she started crying!
Holy shit. I was freaked out. I sat frozen, not really knowing what to do, so I just softened my voice a bit and tried to give the woman some respect by not mentioning the tears; I just went on with my questions. Thankfully, she stopped crying after a while and we got to finish our interview in smiles and warm hand shakes again.
I still don’t know the exact details of Jennifer and her mother’s story, but I know it has to be rough. And Jennifer’s case history was the milder version of the others.
Last week I interview another 10-year-old boy, who lives with his step-father. His mother is incarcerated because of drug problems. Just a year ago, he was sent to foster care with his two younger siblings because his step-father got arrested as well.
There’s another boy I will be interviewing next week, and his older brother got shot because he got involved in gangs. Another girl I’m about to interview soon lost her dad to cancer, lived in a bad community, and got sexually assaulted. She’s 14.
Remember my “Privileged” post on Homeboy Industries, a rehabilitation center for ex-gang members? These summer camp stories brought back that same heart-gripping sensation.
Goddangit, these are kids. They’re supposed to be drinking Kool-aid and playing hopscotch or killing aliens on videogames! They’re at least a decade younger than me, yet they’ve experienced things I hope I never experience in my lifetime.
I know they’re a lot younger than me, but I can’t help feeling respect and admiration for them, because none of these kids I have met have yet to utter a “woe is me, the world is sick!” kind of lamentations. Every time after I talk to them, they will thank me and thank the L.A. Times for the opportunity to go to summer camp and be real kids.
But I want to thank them. For humbling and teaching me life lessons no expensive, prestigious college degree can. These kids? They’re the real Superstars.
If you have been catching up on my sappy family vacation posts, you already know how spoiled I am. Things weren’t always the best between my parents and me and I have bullied and smacked my brother countless of times, but still, there was never a moment when I doubted our love for each other.
This picture is as sappy as it can get, my friends. And I think everyone deserves a real-life moment like this, whether it’s with your mama, your papa, your sister, your brother, your dog, or your high school sweetheart.
This will be the last post on this summer’s family vacation, and it shall end at the most iconic place in Los Angles:
HOLLYWOOD!!! And guess what?! I drove! In Los Angeles traffic! Into the congested streets of Hollywood!
Come on now. We have to end our time together with a big sparkly bang, and Hollywood is perfect for that.
I’m a city girl, so this is the kind of stuff I like. I love walking on firm pavement next to the bustle of traffic, be jostled by kooky characters and occasionally get the finger from a passer-by.
My parents like the calmer (and boring) pleasures like mountains, but you don’t come to Los Angeles for the mountains. Unless it’s the Griffith Park, home of the Hollywood sign. By the way, if you look closely at the above picture, you’ll spot the Hollywood sign. Let’s see how detailed your eyes are.
I have a confession. I’ve never really been here before, even though I’ve lived in Los Angeles for two years. The only time I was here, I was here with Eden to review “Hair” at the Pantages. It was a chilly night and I took the bus back, so I really wasn’t enjoying the atmosphere at all.
So I was just as touristy as my parents, stumbling about in wonder. By the way, here’s another case of “Where’s Waldo?” Do you spot a certain green ogre in the above picture?
How about this? Or this?
Charlie Chaplin comes to live! (The woman with the fantastic silver hair is not a character). Be careful though. If you want a picture with them, you need to tip. A couple of guys tried to walk away after a picture with Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, and arrr…Shiver me thimbers! Jack Sparrow was not happy!
Anyway, the whole sidewalk around this area was the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which is a 1.3 miles strip of public monuments bearing the names of famous actors, musicians, directors, producers, musical and theatrical groups, fictional characters.
I had to look it up, but each star is made of a coral-pink terrazzo five-point star rimmed with brass, with the name of the honoree and an emblem that symbolizes their field of contributions. Here’s what they mean:
I stole this from Wikipedia.
One day, my name is going up there. But I’ll have a special emblem representing: “All-Around Superstar!”
We also stopped by Grauman’s Chinese Theater, home to many significant movie premieres such as Star Wars. By the way, I never watched that film before. Is it really that good?
Anyway, the creater, Sid Grauman, this theater is home to a number of foot and hand prints of numerous celebrities. I took a picture of the Harry Potter one for my Potter-obsessed friend Jane:
Look at the baby hands and feet! All of the prints were dedicated to “Sid” and my dad spent a good amount of time trying to guess what “sid” means.
By the way, where are you supposed to park at Hollywood Boulevard? We parked at Hollywood and Highlands, a posh entertainment complex and shopping mall.
We reimbursed our parking ticket by getting an iced mocha at Nestle Toll House Cafe. Nice.
After that we went to Malibu.
But I already posted about that. Beautiful sunset, amazing view.
But the problem was, there doesn’t seem to be many good (and moderately priced) restaurants around Malibu. After cruising around for a bit and refusing to succumb to Subways for our final meal together, we settled on a pricey Italian restaurant.
We went to Tra Di Noi. Yelp on my iPhone gave it two dollar signs. LIAR! It was at least four dollar signs.
But we were hungry and cold, and no amount of money is enough to fix that.
We all asked for hot water, which they served in individual teapots (love that!). I really want to buy a tea pot now.
And then they served the BEST BREAD I’ve ever gotten at a restaurant:
Maybe I was hungry, but I felt like they were just manna from heaven. The focaccia was warm and incredibly flavorful, especially soaked in an herby olive oil dip, and the ciabatta was crusty and chewy. Perfetto!!! Delizioso! Squisito!!
The prices of the food made me gasp a bit, but by then I was sort of in a “Que sera” mood; I just wanted to indulge! Or at least, I thought I could. I still ordered the cheaper item on the menu, the Brushcetta di Tonno:
Grilled bread topped with tuna tartare, arugula, tomatoes, and drizzle of spicy olive oil.
Not a speck of crumb left after I was done with this. So fresh and vibrant, and the crusty oil-basted bread soaked up all the savory juices from the tuna.
My dad finished this is 15 seconds. Thankfully, I reached over with my fork early enough for a decent bite.
My mother got the Fusilli del Funghi:
Assortment of mushrooms, leek, goat cheese, white truffle in white wine sauce.
It was SUPER fantastico. Sorry about the crappy pictures, it was pitch dark in that fancy restaurant.
My brother ordered the Fettuccine All’Astice:
Lobster tail, shrimp and scallops and shaved zucchini in a white wine and lobster sauce.
Sigh. So luxurious. My brother may order the most expensive dish all the time, but he’s generous with his food.
I got a succulent piece of lobster and a good slurpful of fresh, slippery noodles.
Ah, what a night. What a week! A superstar meal to end a superstar week for a superstar family.
It’s been two weeks since my family left, and suddenly my apartment just felt so big and empty. I think it was a good thing that my internship began right away, or I might have gotten sad and lonely.
What did I do to have such a lovely family? Nothing much. It makes me feel a bit guilty when I see broken families, but the noblest thing I can do is enjoy the blessings I have now, and appreciate my family’s love and presence.
Question of the Day: Have you ever been to Hollywood? If you could have your own Hollywood star…what emblem would you want? Whose name (besides yours) would you like to see on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?