Friday, March 23, 2007

I love Cali in the Springtime

March 20, 2007

Day six of my California Adventure© finds me in Grover Beach at Leslie’s new casa. She bought her castle two short weeks ago and although I had my concerns about her buying property and committing herself to all that entails, I have to say that it seems she made a fabulous decision. Her house is a three-bedroom, newly renovated, stylishly detailed domicile with fruit trees, a terracotta patio, and room for her dog Sarge to roam out back. It seems like an awesome investment and she seems so happy here. Her roommates, Nicole and Erika, are a lot of fun too (ever played Nintendo Wii?!) .

But let me rewind. Past L.A. and all the way back to Boston. I got a job. Well, it’s technically an internship, but since it’s paid, I’ll call it real employment. I am working for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee on a campaign they launched in January called DRUMBEAT FOR DARFUR. Instead of whining and complaining about the genocide in Sudan or making ya’ll sign my petitions, etc, I feel like I’m using my extra time to do something. Besides bugging politicians and informing people, one of the main tactics of our campaign is “divestment”. This is the concept of pulling money away from countries and companies that invest in Sudan and effectively prop up a government that arms the perpetrators of staggering violence and displacement. One of the headline companies that we’re encouraging people to divest from is Fidelity (who invest heavily in PetroChina, an oil company that is deeply entrenched in Sudan). If you want to learn more about these things and what you can do, check out and

So, yeah, I work 10.5 hours per week at DRUMBEAT and, so far, find my experience there very fulfilling- both for the cause and for me to be productive. Coincidentally, Jaci and I both had our first days of work a couple weeks ago. However, she’s decided to look for greener pastures and paychecks. For those of you to whom I have not yet boasted, Jackson has heard from all of the grad schools to which she applied and has decided to attend Columbia University’s School of Social Work in New York City in the fall.

Before Spring Break, Fletcher held its annual “Faculty Waits on You Dinner”, where our esteemed profs don aprons, refill our water glasses, and schlep plates to and from the kitchen. It was special to me because last year’s event’s auction’s proceeds went to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in my honor. Jaci attended but I was still in the hospital. It was amazing to be there with fresh tufts of hair and strength in my limbs one year hence. So many elements of Fletcher have been so supportive over this past year, so I took the opportunity to thank the dinner’s attendees.

Midterms have come and gone; I think I overstressed when I didn’t really need to. My International Trade and Finance exam went really well and my research paper was in on time, though I certainly cannot say I would submit it to any Global Health journals. Does anyone consult graduate school GPAs when all is said and done? Why do I worry; is it even possible to fail a class?

Anyway, after flying back to California, my friend Peter and I went and had what he alleged and I then condoned are “the best pancakes in the world.” Then we went and saw Uma, who was sitting up in a wheelchair! Of course, John was there and Erik arrived not too long after. I have to say, and I just told John this, that the way he writes his updates makes my heart flutter and my stomach clench- he is such a captivating and amazing writer. And, more important than that, I cannot express how joyful I am at the milestones he so artfully describes (like how she kissed him yesterday) and how knowing that Uma has him honestly makes me feel like there is a divine force of GOOD in the world.

Later we met Jamie and Michelle- finally I’ve met the famous Michelle- for Caribbean food in Santa Monica. The next day I spent at Michelle’s finishing up my paper for school and then stopped by the Alumni House at Occidental. Barb had made a banner saying “Welcome Back ERICA” almost causing me to burst into tears at arrival. So sweet. I realized that it has been almost two years since I’d been in L.A. flashing around my engagement ring and my big plans for a Caribbean life… sigh. Life is so funny, isn’t it.

Jamie and I took roost at the Ritz Carlton in Pasadena; the girl has got to be the sweetest most generous person I have ever known. She gets a wicked discount at that hotel but still would not accept a penny from me to contribute.

The commitment ceremony between Eddie and Jason was beautiful in every way. We gathered on Branca Patio at Oxy and just let the tears of happiness and emotion pour down our cheeks. The vows that they had written couldn’t have been sweeter; Jason promising to love and cherish Eddie in this life and beyond en espanol and Eddie thanking Jason for all that he is and joking that “everyone should have a Jason—just not his”. Then we all dined and danced the night away. I realized that I have only been to a handful of weddings in my life (Adrian & Megan, Robby & Emi, Kevin & Elena, Bess & Ben, Uma & Erik) and they have ALL been incredibly fun and touching. I look forward to this chapter of life that supposedly will be ripe with nuptials.

Speaking of weddings! Today is Wednesday- Anna’s wedding day. Yes, you read that correctly. She is getting hitched at the courthouse to the lucky Robert, her boyfriend she met at kung fu and is completely head over heels for. They hope to have a “real wedding” in the future, but have decided to get married immediately before some rules for non-citizens marrying citizens get tighter. Love you sweetie and wish I could be there. Mazal tov!

So that’s about it for now. I went to my first yoga class (since struck by cancer) this morning and need to leave this coffee shop and head back to Leslie’s for a shower. By the way, this was the first trip I’ve taken out of a wheelchair in a year as well. Thank you, Dr. Sirulnik and Adriana, for making it possible for me to take my Wednesday intravenous chemo in pill form instead of going into a hospital out here (although I have to take twenty-three pills today!). I am really enjoying the natural beauty of California on this trip and have to say that I cannot wait to move back to this state after grad school and treatment are over. I did not go with a biased attitude to Boston but have decided, through reason and experience, that it doesn’t even hold a candle to San Fran, L.A., or San Diego. In a life where things seem so unclear and my future relatively uncertain, it feels great to have a sense of “home” here in Cali and a place where I can really nestle in with my friends and family for a lifetime.

(this last pic is just a random roadside vista in San Luis Obispo. i made Ambur stop so i could take pictures.)


Anna said...

Hi darling! Last week was a CRAZY week, but it's all over now, and I'm feeling really GOOD! I hope the rest of your California adventure went smoothly...let's talk soon!

artineh said...

A few months ago, I started looking into vendors through which I could start a 403B account through work. One of the two best choices seemed to be Fidelity. Fortunately, I procrastinated and got lazy and didn't pursue it (and still don't have a 403B account open... thinking about retirement for the first time in my adult life). I'm happy to announce that I will be going with the second choice. Thanks for the heads up.

It was so nice to see you when you were here. Take care of yourself. I always want to see you that happy and healthy!


Ardit said...

Yeah. SF > Boston by a far margin.