Friday, October 9, 2015


Welp, I got robbed.

I didn't get mugged or come home to windows broken with a huge mess to clean up. The thieves were fast, clean and it took me hours to realize it had even happened.

Basically, I took the dog for a quick 15 minute walk and, best I can tell, they watched me leave and snuck in knowing the dog was gone and they had a few minutes to grab whatever they could find.

There is more story that gets you from walking the dog to realizing we'd been robbed - but that's not where the sunshine lives.

Later that night, after I realized what had been taken, it felt like the perpetrator must have known me. Known exactly what to take to break my heart a little: two of my grandmother's rings, a necklace that was a gift from my dad to his mother and my high school ring.

All so personal.

And they left my laptop, my TV...even some not-so-well-hidden cash.

I cried a little as we waited for the police to show up. But the next day, I hit the ground running like a wanna-be private investigator. I gathered what pictures I had of the items and created a document with photos and info. I headed to Staples and made dozens of copies.  I couldn't help but feel a little bit like Helen Hunt in Girls Just Want to Have Fun - and I liked it.

I made a list of every Pawn Shop in Lancaster, Palmdale and Bakersfield and headed out to save the day.

After visiting the first few, turns out there's a lot to learn about Pawn Shops:
  1. Most thieves don't try to sell items for at least a couple weeks.
  2. All pawn shops have to report everything they buy to the police.
  3. Pawn shops are really busy - I waited in line a lot.
  4. In general, pawn shop owners want to help people who've had items stolen, but there's a consistent sigh and head tilt that basically means - "Don't get your hopes up."
Each pawn shop felt pretty much the same - bars on the window or a buzzer to get in, a faint smell of cigarette smoke, jewelry cases, a guitar or two and always a line of people waiting to sell something. But as I entered each one, I realized this was a great research mission for Yelp! reviews - so I started taking notes.

I have officially visited every pawn shop (that has a searchable address) in Lancaster and Palmdale and am working on a massive Yelp! review in case you need to know where to bring your pawnable items.

Just as all the pawn shop owners silently suggested, I'm not keeping my hopes up. Especially because return visits to check for my stolen items just make me sad all over again.

So I may be giving up on the search, but I am now your go-to person for advice on pawn shops in the Antelope Valley. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Look Up

Today, during my lunch break from jury duty, I was sitting in a coffee shop with my head buried in my phone - a position I'm never very proud of.  Mostly because it's not a welcoming invitation for someone to come talk to you.

But today I realized there are generations who know nothing different and perhaps having your head down doesn't necessarily mean "leave me alone."

As I sat there shuffling through work emails (aka: checking Instagram and playing Words With Friends) I could feel someone in my space.

"Do you play chess?"

I looked up and met eyes with a little girl about 10 years old standing in front of me with a wide smile on her face and a portable chess board under her arm.

I slumped my shoulders and said, "Actually, no I don't."

"I can teach you!"

"You know what, I'd love to learn. But I actually have jury duty today and I have to be back in 15 minutes.  Do you know what jury duty is?"

"Sort of. People hate it, right?

I smiled and explained that was mostly true and then tried to explain it was important as a citizen, and wasn't SO bad. She nodded and seemed slightly interested.

"Well, I can teach you a little bit right...," she paused and looked out the window toward an outside table where a 20-something year-old girl - with awesome bright green hair - was reading a book.

"Hey! That's the girl who plays with me sometimes." She leaned over me and knocked on the window repeatedly until the girl looked up.  The green-haired girl smiled, closed her book and gestured for the girl to come sit at her table.

"Well, I'm going to go play with my friend. Maybe I can teach you some other time."

I said thank you and wished her luck on her next game.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

My Mom Would Be Proud

A dog can teach a human a lot of lessons.

For example:
Pick up after yourself. (Or your belongings will be chewed.)
Don't over stay your welcome at a party. (Or your most expensive belongings will be chewed.)
If you have expressive eyebrows and a cute face, forgiveness is easy.

We have a hose in our backyard I have now repaired three times because I haven't learned these important lessons. Ms. June loves the challenge of chewing through what is supposed to be an industrial, indestructible hose.

Today, after I turned the hose on and received an unexpected shower directly in my face, I begrudgingly went to the shed to gather tools to repair it once again.  As I tried to remove the plastic connector from the torn hose, I was impressed with how well I had installed it last time June was left home alone for too long.

No matter how hard I pulled and twisted, I couldn't get it out. I tried cutting little slits in the hose to make it loose so I might be able to pull easier. This seemed to work, but my fingers couldn't quite hold on to the cut pieces to tear them further down. 

So I used my teeth. 

As I started pulling and biting at the hose, I realized there was a thin strip of see-through yellow rubber running the length of the hose and it seemed to be easier to tear than the rest. I caught myself feeling excited about this discovery and started to bite and tug harder, concentrating on the yellow strip.

Then I realized I was pretty much my dog. 

And I had a new appreciation and even acceptance for what she does to entertain herself while I'm gone.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Judging Too Soon

I was standing in line at Target today watching a little girl pick up each individual candy bar at the check out and say to her mom, "What about THIS one?"

Her mom was slightly annoyed and mostly ignored her, saying no or shaking her head at every other one or two. At the same time, mom was head down in her phone -- texting or Facebooking or researching nuclear energy -- who knows.

I caught myself being a little judgmental of the mom for ignoring her daughter and not interacting with the checkout person.

I also am not a mom who has been asked 1, 257 times "Can I have this?" So I tried to mind my own business and wait for my turn.

As mom and daughter walked away, I watched the mom try to squeeze her cart by a man in front of her and as he turned around she was sort of startled and said, "Oh, it's you. Do you run at the Y?"

He was confused, furrowed his brow and said, "Yeah."

The mom smiled and said, "You inspire me. Always running, always working hard. I wish I worked that hard."

She walked away before he could respond and I watched as he tried to hide his smile under his blushing cheeks.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Living in a teeny town in the desert has made finding a local coffee shop difficult.  And on all my trips back down to LA, it's become ritual to stop and grab an iced coffee for the drive down.  I've been going to a Starbucks that's just off the freeway out of ease, but haven't been happy about it.

About a month ago I found a cute shop right off the Rosamond exit called Sister Sister Coffee House and it's been such a great find.

Today, as I pulled up and started to place my order, the girl behind the counter said, "You want your regular iced coffee today?  Splash of soy?"

I couldn't contain my smile.  "Yes, please."

I was surprised how good it felt that she remembered me.  Loved it.  And I let her know she had made my day.