Finding the Fisher & Diaz Funeral Home

Back in 2009, I became obsessed with the show Six Feet Under. I was late to the party (the show first aired in 2005), which was a good thing for me because I was able to binge-watch the entire series on DVD and wasn’t forced to wait between seasons.

For those unfamiliar, Six Feet Under followed the Fisher family, who owned a funeral home in LA (originally called Fisher & Sons and later changed to Fisher & Diaz). The funeral home also served as the family home, which may seem a bit disturbing to anyone who HASN’T lived directly above a steady parade of dead bodies and funerals, but is something the family and their friends are totally used to.

Although I lived in Southern California at the time, I never thought to find out if the house used in the series as the Fisher funeral home was a real place. When I discovered that it was indeed real and actually was located in LA, I had already moved to Washington and didn’t think I would ever get a chance to see the house in person.

Last September, Bill and I ended up in LA while on our road trip, and I knew I had a chance to finally see the house. As we drove toward the beach one afternoon, we made a detour and found it.

Thanks to the Internet, I was able to find out that the 6,324sf house is located at 2302 W. 25th St. in LA. It was built in 1905 (according to Zillow) and is currently owned by the Filipino Federation of America.

There was no one around when Bill and I arrived at the house (another benefit of being behind the masses in discovering the show was that people weren’t exactly lined up to take photos of the house). We snapped several shots from the sidewalk before I decided I was going to go perch on the front porch for a photo.

Today Might as Well Be the Day 

Last week, I got it all wrong in my blog post.

This happens, because I am human. But I am here to own the fact that I got it all wrong, and to explain where I fell short.

I’ve had a week to re-read my post and mull it over. I so wish I had approached the topic completely differently. I admitted that I had lost my health and fitness passion, and that I had gained weight. I was incredibly negative about it, and I really wish I hadn’t been.

I wish I had said that it doesn’t matter if my old Halloween costumes don’t fit. It doesn’t matter if I’m a little heavier now, because I’m also way happier. I also failed to point out two important things: that while I was thinner, I was also in a spirit-draining and unfulfilling relationship and that I needed Zumba more for its family dynamic and the unconditional love of fellow class-goers than I ever did for weight loss, and that I was also my smallest when I was the least consumed with what I ate.

I’m not saying I don’t need to exercise now that I’ve found a loving and supportive relationship – far from it. What I am saying is that I mistakingly reverted to viewing exercise as a chore. It doesn’t have to be that way. Last week, I noticed myself feeling much more relaxed and energetic, and I know that’s because I started working out again.

I also wonder if I would still be heavier now if I hadn’t had a knee-jerk reaction to a little weight gain and so quickly gone on a diet. I had denounced diets, insisting they didn’t work, but I put on a few pounds and panicked. If I had continued to eat normally, would I have bounced back? I think it’s entirely possible that I started down this path again because I went against what I knew to be true all along and put my body back in diet hell.

I wish I had emphasized that gaining a little weight isn’t such a big deal after all. I’m not a failure because of my size. I’m not less worthy of love because of 15 extra pounds on my body.


The two girls above are both me. I am not less deserving of love now than I was in that photo on the left. That younger me is thinner, sure. Since that photo was taken, I’ve accomplished so many amazing things that you don’t see in photos. But the things that aren’t in the picture are what actually matter. The fact is that the woman on the left is SO much happier, so much braver, so much more in tune with what she wants and who she really is. Imagine what she could do if I quit being so mean to her all the time??

This isn’t the “aha, I’m cured, I love my body now!” post. Wouldn’t it be great if it were that easy? The reality is though, that this is just the start of changing my thoughts about myself. But all great movements have to start somewhere, and today is just as good a day as any.

Starting Over Again 

I think most people who have succeeded at weight loss will agree that one of the scariest thoughts afterwards is “What if I gain it back?”.

For me, that scary thought became reality. I lost weight, felt great, and maintained my new size for a few years, and then put the weight back on. I’ve tried different diets, intuitive eating, programs like Weight Watchers…you name it. Every time I tried something new, I would have some success. And every time, life got in the way and I fell off whatever program I was on. Time and time again over the last four years, I’ve found myself right back in the same old spot, 15 pounds heavier than I was in 2013.

It’s frustrating. It’s heartbreaking.

I used to write about my health and fitness journey frequently. When I lost weight, I blogged about my routine and what worked for me. When I started to gain, I talked about my various diets and attempts to get back on track. Eventually I stopped writing about it altogether, because I was ashamed of my failures and grew tired of putting them out there on my blog.

On Friday night, I pulled out my bin of costumes to pick something to wear for Halloween. I love dressing up and have accumulated a pretty sizeable collection of fun costumes over the years. The problem, I quickly realized on Friday night, is that none of them fit anymore. The ones I CAN squeeze into, I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing. I look just awful in them.

I let myself wallow in my self-pity that night, and then Saturday morning Bill and I got up and worked out. I planned out what I would eat in the coming week. I planned my workouts. By Sunday morning I was ridiculously sore, but I sucked it up and worked out again.

Yesterday I had a long day (not bad at all, just busy) and could have easily made that my excuse to skip working out. But I didn’t do it. I went to the gym after work and took a Zumba class.

I’m going to write about health and fitness again, because I need to rediscover my passion for it. Even if I never fit into my costumes again, I need to be healthier. The truth is that I don’t feel good when I don’t exercise, and when I eat junk. It messes me up both physically and mentally and I know I can do better for myself. And I know writing about it will make me feel more accountable for the choices I make.

Writing Again 

I think blogging comes in waves for me. There are times when I feel like I have so much to say and that I need to write, and then other times I can go months without even logging into this site. It’s not that my blog isn’t on my mind, it’s just that I don’t feel like I have anything meaningful to say. I’ve thought more than once about stopping, but that idea just makes me so sad. Writing is a huge part of who I am. From my spiral notebooks filled with journals and stories in high school, to my first blog (on MySpace, of all places) and now to this one, I’ve always had some writing project going. 

Sometimes it’s not about writing something mind blowing and powerful. Sometimes it’s just about getting back into the habit of writing at all. So here I go; here’s what I’ve been up to in the last few weeks. 

In September, Bill and I took a long road trip from Seattle to Las Vegas to attend my sister’s wedding. It was a small ceremony and (in my opinion) rather perfect. Vegas weddings don’t really get enough credit; there are several beautiful venues that definitely don’t fit the stereotype of shotgun weddings performed by Elvis. 

With the Newlyweds


After the wedding, Bill and I spent some time in California before heading home. My parents hosted us for a night, and we spent two nights in Hermosa Beach. 

I never really did tourist-y things when I lived in California, but on this trip I really wanted to find the house that was used for the Fisher Funeral Home in the show Six Feet Under. Bill humored me, and we tracked down the house (it’s located in LA). I thoroughly geeked out and took a ton of pictures (geeked out face on display in the photo below), and even went so far as to queue up “Breathe Me” by Sia as we drove away. 

“You can’t take a picture of this, it’s already gone.”

Back in Washington, I started a new position at work and finished up my fourth college class. Technically, I’ve completed my semester, but I want to keep pushing forward so I enrolled in another class. 

It’s crazy to think that it’s almost November, that soon the holidays will come and go and 2017 will be over. I’m hoping the rest of the year is just as pleasant as the first ten months have been, and that I’ll regain my inspiration to write more often as we finish out the year. 

Why I Stopped Eating Meat

I have always loved animals. My mom has a photo of me as a baby, sitting in the backyard with our cat, dog, and goat. As an adult, I’ve had up to five rescue cats at one time, and they are spoiled and pampered felines. When I still lived in California, I spent nearly every weekend volunteering for a Humane Society. 

A few months ago, a friend introduced me to a charity goat rescue called Goats of Anarchy. Through GOA’s Instagram posts, I fell in love with the goats rescued and cared for. When they got too sick and didn’t make it, I would feel sad (I was particularly attached to one goat, Lawson, and cried at work when I found out he died suddenly). I love the animals at GOA, even though I have never met them. 

I have been struggling for a long time now with the fact that I love animals and yet that I eat meat. Animal abuse makes me absolutely sick. I could never bring myself to harm a sweet creature just so I could eat it; and yet, I would eat animals killed by other people. I tried to tell myself that it wasn’t that bad, because I tried to get my meat from small local farms that treated their animals kindly for the duration of their lives. It was a flawed argument and I knew it, but something still held me back from formally cutting all meat from my diet. 

Over the last few months, I’ve been opting for vegetarian dishes more and more, trying different things to see what I like. Living in Seattle, this is incredibly easy to do: all of my favorite restaurants offer delicious veggie options that I am entirely happy to eat. I still ate meat, though, even though I increasingly felt like I was doing something I didn’t think was right. 

A lot of the time, people need that “Aha” moment to finally decide to make a major life change. For me, that moment was yesterday, when Leanne from GOA went to a local livestock auction in New Jersey to try and save some of the animals being sent to slaughter. The pictures she shared of that awful place sickened me: sick animals packed closely together, stepping over dead bodies and crying. They looked so afraid and defeated. It was hell, utter hell, and that any creature should suffer such torture before ultimately being killed for food just broke me. These were animals that came from small farms, they were living breathing feeling creatures. I cannot believe any human being could actually treat animals this way and still sleep at night. 

I can’t go along with this any longer. 

Yesterday I finally made the decision that I will never eat meat again. I will not support an industry capable of such cruelty. I will never again be the reason that an innocent animal was killed. 

I am not asking that anyone change with me. I am making a decision for myself based on what I believe is right. I just wish I hadn’t taken so long to decide to align my behavior with my beliefs. 

Reflecting on My First 2 Months at WGU

It’s been almost two months since I went back to school, and today I submitted my final paper for a class. If the paper scores highly enough, I’ll have completed my third class since going back to school.

When I first enrolled, I set myself a goal of earning my Bachelor’s degree by December 2018. It seemed like a manageable goal when I was first starting out, but after completing three classes in two months I really want to finish by next June. It’s a very aggressive timeline for completion, but my student mentor agrees that it’s obtainable if I keep working hard.

In a lot of ways, the course work is a lot easier than I was anticipating. I love that all my classes are directly geared toward my course of study, and each one builds on the concepts learned in the previous one. So far, I’ve taken Intro to HR, Employment Law, and Workforce Planning. I can easily apply the concepts I’m learning in school to things that are done where I work. There’s a LOT of reading, but I can do it while sipping my coffee in the morning before work or lounging in the living room on a Sunday. And while the final exams require at least a score of 80% to pass, I haven’t really struggled with any of them. The first time I took one, it did throw me a bit – the exam consists of situational questions rather than memorizing definitions of terms or anything like that, which was not a format I was expecting – but now that I know what to expect, I get through them pretty easily.

I was VERY nervous about submitting my first paper, because I had read about other students’ experiences and it sounded as if it was going to be a somewhat nightmarish process where I had to rewrite my paper dozens of times before earning a passing grade. My first two classes only required a final exam, so I was rather intimidated when my Workforce Planning test had a final exam and two assigned papers to complete. To my surprise and relief, I got the paper back with a passing grade on the first try!

I’m going to give myself a little break from school after this class, but I’ll start back up again with my next one the weekend after Labor Day. I’m especially excited to take the next one, as it’s a Project Management class and I’ll be able to directly use the new information I’ll be learning at work. I recently realized that I had a gap in my resume when it comes to Project Management, so taking an entire class on the subject came at the perfect time!

Overall, I really like the course structure at WGU and school is fitting into my life a lot more seamlessly than I was expecting. It’s really true that with this program, you’ll get out of it what you put into it. I’m really happy that I made the choice to go back and even happier that I decided to study at WGU.

 

A Little Hole in the Wall Place

Ahhh, Saturday morning. I love weekends, especially when they start off with me sleeping in (or, me getting up at 5am, feeding the cats, and immediately going back to bed – those spoiled animals do NOT wait for their meals).

This past Saturday, I woke up around nine feeling incredibly refreshed. It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten to sleep in like that and it was amazing. I got up and set about making a pitcher of iced tea for the weekend, thinking that it would be nice to have tea for the warm days. It’s been a minute since I’ve pulled out my iced tea maker, and I had to fish around in the pantry to find the tea bags. When I opened the cupboard, I found that there was water on the shelf. Not a lot, just enough for me to say, “Huh, there’s water in here” and look down at the floor to see if there was water anywhere else.

There was no water, but there were ants on the floor.

ANTS.

I have not had ants in my kitchen since moving to the Northwest and had (falsely, I now know) believed that ants don’t attempt to take up residence in kitchens around here. In California, they’d make their way in every summer, usually dining on cat food before drowning in the water bowl. I would wake up to a little trail of them going across my living room more often than I care to think about, and I got very good at being careful not to leave anything out that would attract the little bastards. Here in Edmonds, I never worried about it, and to be fair there wasn’t much around that ants would like besides the cats’ breakfast.

My zen totally shattered, I set about removing the ants from the kitchen by way of spraying everything down with Windex and then cleaning up the carnage. Sorry, creatures, we have enough freeloading animals in this house already – we have no room for more. I will not go out of my way to kill bugs and things when I’m outside, but they come in my kitchen and they’re toast.

Once I finished de-bugging my kitchen, I went about my day, forgetting about the water in the cabinet that started the whole debacle. Well, forgetting for a couple more hours anyway, until I heard something dripping in the kitchen. I went to investigate, and found water dripping out of the wall and down the pantry. Although it undeniably created an ambiance, water definitely should NOT have been cascading down my pantry door.

As much as I yearn to be a homeowner again, I cannot deny the luxury of calling property management as a renter when things in my home are broken. We are incredibly spoiled where we live, as our manager and maintenance are beyond kind and responsive whenever we need anything. As the developing situation in my kitchen was one of the more immediate problems we’ve had, maintenance was out within the hour to investigate.

The maintenance fellow was very nice and jumped right in to attempt to locate the source of the leak. He went upstairs to the apartment above ours and turned on the bathtub faucet, but couldn’t duplicate the problem (we did take a video of the dripping water when we noticed it, which came in very handy since by the time maintenance arrived, the leak had stopped for a time). Apologetically, he turned to me and said, “I’m going to have to cut open your wall.” Since I was not going to be paying for the creation or subsequent patching of said hole, I was not too concerned, and set to leaning on my counter and watching this unfold.

Adds a certain something to the decor, n’jes?

Once we had a good-sized hole in the wall, it was apparent that our pantry cabinet was totally waterlogged, and that there must have been a previous water leak in the pipe above the cabinet because there was putty that has now fallen away. The maintenance man was hopeful that the water we were experiencing in our kitchen had been trapped previously by the putty and that there was no current leak, but I was skeptical. After giving us instructions on what to do should water come gushing out of the newly-exposed pipes, our new friend left with the promise to follow up with our property manager.

Of course, on Sunday while we were sitting in the living room the pipe began leaking again, confirming our suspicions that the water from the day before was not from an old problem but from an existing one. We stuck a towel underneath to catch the water, knowing that nothing much more could be done until a plumber could be called on Monday. This morning I was assured that the problem would be fixed in a day or two, but I’m bracing myself to wait this one out for awhile until all repair efforts have been coordinated. In the meantime, I will be amusing myself by telling anyone unfortunate enough to come in contact with me that my kitchen is just a “little hole in the wall place” and laughing at my own joke.

V Goes to College (Again)

This week is a big one for me, as I re-join the academic world as a full-time undergraduate student yet again. I’m no stranger to the full-time student/full-time employment combo, so it’s not new territory for me. I do remember how much work it is, but I’m ready for this new journey. Finishing my degree is something I’ve always wanted for myself, so here I go!

I dropped out of community college after only one full semester, and ultimately earned my Associate’s degree online while working full-time. It ended up being a good thing for me, because I was able to use my company’s tuition assistance program and graduated debt-free in 2010. Since then, I’ve stopped and started a few times as I worked toward my Bachelor’s degree. I tried University of Phoenix, but didn’t like the group-work format (why on earth an online school requires so much group collaboration is beyond me). After taking some time off I enrolled at Washington State University, only to find that it’s really difficult to be an online-only student at a school that is really designed for full-time students who can attend classes. At most, I was able to manage two classes at a time, and ultimately it just felt like I’d never graduate and I tabled the whole idea.

The idea of finishing my degree never really left my mind. Last year, after being with my current company for a year, I became eligible for their tuition assistance program. It would have probably been a good idea to jump back into school right away, but I was busy planning a wedding and taking classes was NOT in my plans. Now that the wedding is over, I feel like I can handle balancing work and school, and I’m ready to try yet again to finish college.

Since my real goal is to just be DONE already, I decided to enroll at Western Governor’s University. The courses are online, the classes are individual and completing them is based on a competency assessment, and there are no traditional class schedules. I can take as many courses as I’m able to per semester, and each semester’s tuition rate is flat – meaning that the more classes I complete, the less I pay (or my company pays) for school in the long run.

The enrollment process at WGU wasn’t a walk in the park, I admit. When I decided to move forward, I applied online and was accepted, but never heard anything further. I did some research online about next steps, and proactively ordered transcripts from my previous schools to be sent to WGU. I could see online that they’d been received, so when I still hadn’t been contacted I reached out and spoke with an enrollment counselor. Although he was very nice, he wasn’t a lot of help in the subsequent enrollment process; I did a lot of researching online until I figured out what I needed to do.

Financial aid is no picnic, either. In the past, I’ve always had company tuition assistance programs that issued Letters of Credit to the university I was attending, so I never had to pay. This time, the program is tuition reimbursement, so I have to pay upfront and then seek reimbursement after the semester ends and I pass my classes. Not wanting to drain my savings to pay upfront, I decided to apply for student loans, knowing that they will come due six months after I graduate and that I can simply use my tuition reimbursement money to pay them off. While this sounds simple enough, you can’t just apply for loans – you have to apply for financial aid first. I knew this was going to be a waste of time; my husband and I make far too much money for me to qualify for assistance. Still, the rules are the rules, so I filled out my required FAFSA and got my reply that I qualified for $0 assistance, then was finally able to move on and apply for my loans.

Once I got through all the admissions requirements, things got a lot easier. Yay! I was paired up with my Student Mentor, a former student who has successfully completed the program herself and who will check in with me weekly throughout this process. She got me set up with my orientation, and helped me with a road map for what my degree program is going to look like. She gave me a bit of an overview of what I could expect in the next year and a half (hopefully I can be done by then!). I completed the online orientation, and I’m all set to start my first class. Whew!

I really want to finish this time. Wish me luck!

 

My Tips for Great Hair

Ever since chopping off my long locks three years ago, I have become very particular about my hair care. Now that I’m currently in yet another phase of trying to grow out my pixie cut (I’ve made it to bob length twice, only to chop it again after seeing one too many perfect pixie cuts on Pinterest), I’m especially careful to be kind to my hair as I coax it to grow.

Whether you have the shortest of pixies or waist-length strands, there are things you can do to keep your hair looking great….and bad habits that can harm it. Here is my comprehensive list of tips to keep your hair looking amazing.

Do bring photos with you when you get your hair done. Anyone remember that episode of Friends when Monica asks for Demi Moore’s haircut, but Phoebe gives her Dudley Moore’s instead? Don’t let yourself fall victim to a mistake like that; bring photos of the haircut and color you want. Even better, bring photos of both styles you love AND hate…it’ll give your stylist a better idea of what will make you happy (and help them avoid what will make you cry).

Do invest in good styling tools and products. It blows my mind when someone spends upwards of $150 on getting their hair cut and colored, only to stop at the dollar store on the way home to buy shampoo. Even though high-end products are more expensive, the good news is that they’re also more concentrated, so you don’t need to use a ton of product every time you style your hair. I recently made the change from traditional shampoo and conditioner to New Wash by Hairstory. It doesn’t contain detergents and is much gentler on my hair, eliminating my need for conditioners, masks, and detanglers.  When my hair is wet, I protect it from heat styling with TGI Bed Head After Party, and I like to finish my style with Ion Styling Solutions Texture Spray Wax to give it a bit of a piece-y look.

Along with using quality product, I upgraded my heat styling tools so that they are easier on my hair when I do need to blow dry/flatiron it. I recently scored the Bio Ionic GoldPro Speed Dryer for 50% off at Ulta, and I like to style my bangs with my LumaBella Dual Touch straightener (I also use this great tool when I curl my pixie cut!).

Don’t lie to your stylist. When your stylist asks you questions about your hair care routine, ESPECIALLY when you’re getting your hair colored, be honest. It’s okay if you’ve only used box dyes up until now; a good stylist isn’t asking you these questions to judge you, they’re asking because different dyes and chemicals will react differently, and they don’t want to inadvertently turn your black hair green. Being upfront about your hair’s history will help you get the look you want, without having to endure any unpleasant hiccups along the way.

Don’t cheat on your stylist. Once you’ve found a stylist you love, who makes your hair dreams come true, don’t ditch them just because of scheduling issues. A good indication that your stylist rocks is that his or her calendar books up quickly. It’s always a good idea to schedule your next appointment as you’re leaving the salon to ensure that you can get in when you need to. Schedule changes definitely happen – I recently had to move a cut/color appointment so that I could attend a family gathering – but be prepared to wait a few weeks with some root grow-out if you do reschedule. Trust me, it’s always worth the wait. Going to a different salon just because your regular stylist can’t see you, like, yesterday, is probably going to end up with you getting a cut you’re not in love with. I would much rather veer into sheepdog territory for a week or two than have my hair butchered.

Do get regular trims. Even though I’m trying to grow my hair out currently, I still get my hair trimmed regularly. Your hair will look much healthier and will hold its shape much better if you go for regular cuts.

 

Red Hot Dance

Seven years ago, a coworker invited me to her favorite Zumba class, led by her good friend Nancy. It was a life-changing night for both of us; for her, it was the night she officially weighed 100lbs less than she had nine months before, and for me, it was the night I discovered a passion for dance.

I loved Zumba, and attended three to five classes a week. I would rearrange my work schedule to make sure I could go. I brought friends with me and got them hooked too.  In 2013, my friend Kate and I even got certified to be Zumba instructors and led a class together (she went on to be a favorite instructor alongside Nancy).

After moving out of the area, I did still attend Nancy’s Zumba class every now and then, but it was ultimately too far to drive. I found Beachbody On Demand, which I love, and it was a great tool for keeping me consistent in my workouts. Still, I missed Zumba terribly.

A few weeks ago, my friend Kelly was telling me about Harbor Square Athletic Club, the new gym she and her husband had just joined. She encouraged me to get a six-day pass to check it out, and I’m glad I did. I love working out with her, and I cannot say enough nice things about Harbor Square. Everything is so modern and clean, the studios for group classes are spacious, and the women’s locker room was recently remodeled and is absolutely beautiful. There’s a smoothie bar, tennis courts, and a pool for lap swim (and you can reserve lanes for swimming!). I loved it instantly, and after taking Husband with me to check it out we ultimately became members.

When I looked at the group class schedule, I was a little bummed that there were only a couple of weekday morning Zumba classes, but I was intrigued when I saw an evening class called Red Hot Dance. The schedule described RHD as a “fun, exhilarating, calorie-burning dance party”.

Kelly and I went, and I was instantly hooked. The class was SO much fun! The dance steps were similar to the ones I loved at Nancy’s Zumba classes, the songs were fun to dance to, and I felt so happy dancing again. Some of the moves were pretty challenging (my body is 15lbs heavier now, and let me know it all through class) but I’m hoping that with time and practice I’ll get my former groove back. I am so happy to have dance in my life again!