A family of Mennonites sat quietly in Los Angeles Union station awaiting their departure.  As I looked on, it occurred to me that I’d never met or seen Mennonites.   As the hour passed, one person after another approached them and asked absurd questions, like, “Why do you dress like that?”, “What are you doing here?”, and “Where are you going?”  I wish they’d replied with a direct “none of your business!”, but they are too gentle-natured for that.  I didn’t ask them anything, but I was intrigued by their time-warp essence and dewy skin.  There’s a  romantic element to their lifestyle and the way they adhere to past (and now present) traditions.  How could these “foreign” visitors live only seven states away in the middle of all of our chaos and remain completely unaffected by any of the world’s problems? From what I’ve read, these self-sustaining communities are all over America (and the world).  They live without electricity, build their own homes, grow their own food, including some of the most amazing cheeses I’ve tasted!  All I can say is that I probably wouldn’t last two hours there,  and I’m pretty handy!  I had a newfound respect.

Amtrak boarding began, and snapped me out of my daydream.  As we all rushed toward the gate, I overheard the wife ask where they were going.  Her husband, the patriarch, responded with a nervous, “I, I don’t know where to go.”   I had to help.  Perhaps it was to show others not to be jerks, or even because I had my own guilt for being a passive gawker.  Whatever the initial reasons were, my desire to prevent this man from failing to guide his family into uncharted territory safely became my new objective.  I led them to their train and the entire family refused to board.  Paralyzed by fear of ending up in the wrong place, they stood at the door of the train and waited for the conductor.  When no Amtrak employees came, I assured them  they were on the right train.  Sometimes the employees never show, an announcement is made; and the train just departs.  It took some coaxing, but they finally boarded the train.  They went to the top of the stairs and found seating enough for all of them right in front of a digital sign that read, “en route to San Diego.”   They were relieved and began to settle in and relax.  The entire family was gracious beyond belief and I could tell by their reactions, they hadn’t met many kind strangers on their journey.  For that I was ashamed -ashamed for my communities outside of theirs.  My own prejudice shone down on me like a spotlight, and I was quickly humbled.

For that I thanked them.



As an amateur photographer, I’m always interested in learning about the latest technology, whether I end up using it, or not.  I spent way too much time on the computer Googling Canon 5D camera courses.  I didn’t find one for less than $1500, so I closed up the computer and hopped on the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus.  I was gazing hypnotically out of the window as a girl sat next to me and ate her sandwich.  Faint sounds of squeaky bus brakes pulled me out of my trance, and  I turned to the girl.  In a foreign accent and radiant smile, she pardoned her ravishing appetite.  I asked where she was from, and she went on to tell me about her journey travelling from South Africa to Los Angeles.  We spoke a bit longer, and before her West Hollywood stop, she told me she’d been sitting as a model for lighting in a Canon 5D workshop!  I was both shocked and overjoyed, because this was exactly what I was seeking!  As a model, she was also able to study the camera and keep the worksheet.  There hasn’t been another workshop yet, but I’m keeping my eyes open for an opportunity to sit in as a lighting model without paying the $1500.


First, I’d like to back-track.  My car was repossessed a few months ago, which ended up being a huge blessing once I let go of my “automotive conditioning” (that’s what I call it).  My initial intention was to get another car, but after riding mass transit for a few weeks, I began to rethink purchasing another car -at least for now.
I had a stiffness in my neck and tightness in my hip that began to disappear after a about two weeks of not driving, and I wanted to read again!  I hadn’t had the time or desire to read in almost two years, because I was too busy driving (sitting in traffic, rather) the equivalent of a second job!
I decided the perfect book to start would be “Travels With Charley” by John Steinbeck.  In the book, he travels across country with his dog Charley (I don’t have a dog) to places he has never been, not knowing what to expect, but open to just about anything.  It was amazing, by the way.
I have discovered that I love trains -they’re so natural, organic.  As I hear the clanking sounds (the amtrak/metrolink travels partially on a freight line-it’s not a smooth subway ride w/ just the hum/roar), I can feel the generations of laborers that laid the tracks by hand. It feels good, and even gives me comfort and relaxes me.

Los Angeles Union Station is reminiscent of a romantic bygone era when trains were the main mode of transport.  It’s early 1900’s style architecture (Dutch Colonial Revival, Mission Revival, and Streamline Moderne) is stunning, and should be seen by anyone who has the opportunity.  There, you will see people commuting to and from work, traveling locally, lounging, and taking the Amtrak for a national destination -each person on their own journey.  I watched them while waiting for my train, and felt the desire to connect with these strangers and share my experience.  I decided to clean out my bookcase and leave books with the word “free” written on post-it notes in random benches for anyone to find -books I thought would make great “train station finds” to enhance any journey!  I left classics like Jane Austen‘s “Emma“, Charlotte Bronte‘s “Jane Eyre“, a textbook on Black Chicago, George Orwell‘s “1984“, Ram Das‘ “Be Here Now“, C.S. Lewis’The Chronicles of Narnia,” Alice Walker, a book on the history of radio, philosophy, humor, and about 20 more.  I hope each found a good home with a weary/eager traveler.  I believe they did.

This is where my journey began..

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