Posted by: Meandering Memories | June 26, 2012

When I Wasn’t Looking (Part 1)

“Oh please go, and I’ll go with you,” said Helen, eager to attend Doug’s going away party, but not willing to go alone.  She was 50, divorced, manager of the accounting department, and we knew each other through interactions between our two departments.  

Doug was an engineer who was leaving the company to take a position with a larger company in Chicago.  His boss was hosting a party Friday after work at Brennen’s Pub in nearby Marina del Rey.  Brennen’s was the home of the Wednesday night turtle races.

Divorced with four young children I had worked my way from secretary to manager of the export department in my three years at Wangco, a small manufacturer of magnetic tape and disc drives.

It was 1974, and the computer storage devices we manufactured ranged from the size of a microwave to a refrigerator, with their storage capacity expressed in megabytes.  

Bill, Todd, Kortney & Whitney in 1974

“Sorry, Helen, but I need to go home and relieve the sitter and fix dinner for my kids.  Besides, I don’t enjoy going to bars.”

In spite of my answer, the experiences I’d had that week clearly screamed for a night out.  

Monday:   A tooth loaded with old fillings had shattered during lunch, and I learned I needed a root canal and a crown.  With no dental insurance, and my salary of $250 a week soaked up by a mortgage payment and the needs of four kids, how could I swing that?

Tuesday:  My annual physical exam had revealed the need for a hysterectomy by summer, and my doctor said I would need six weeks to recover.  Six weeks with no salary?  The $200 my ‘ex’ sent each month 

wouldn’t be much help.  Would my job wait for me?  Who would take care of my kids while I was recovering? 

Wednesday:  I received a notice from Southern California Edison threatening to turn off our power if I didn’t pay the electric bill in ten days.  I was trying to follow a budget, but my car had needed repairs I hadn’t planned on.  

Thursday:  I was distracted in pouring rain and drove through a red light launching a young fellow on a motorcycle into the air and then watching as he crashed to the pavement.  Panicked, I pulled my car to the edge of the road and raced over to him, yelling to anyone within earshot to call an ambulance. 

The kid got up slowly, waved that he was ok, and said he didn’t need an ambulance.  

He dragged his twisted motorcycle to a nearby gas station, spoke briefly with the attendant, then grabbed his helmet and turned to me.

“Can you take me to Kaiser for an X-ray?”

“You want to ride with me!?”  I was flabbergasted. “Shouldn’t we call the police?”

“The police?  What for?  I just want an X-ray or something to make sure nothing’s broken, and then I’d appreciate a ride to work.  It’s not far.”

He limped over and eased into my car as I got behind the wheel.  

I was shaking so badly that driving wasn’t an option.  I turned to him with tears spilling over.  

“I am SO sorry.  It was all my fault.  I’m glad you don’t seem badly hurt,  but when you get home, your family will convince you to sue me and I can’t even pay my electric bill and I’ll probably end up in jail and who will take care of my kids?”  I was blubbering.

“Looks like the bike’s totaled and my new jeans are ripped, but boy am I lucky!”

Wait, what?  Did I hear him correctly?  Had I suddenly fallen into an episode of the Twilight Zone?  Who was this young man, and what must his life be like if being hit by a car was lucky?  I stared at him, mouth gaping.

“My name’s Jerry, what’s yours?”

“Uh, Marcia”.

“Marcia, I’m ok, really.  Just take a deep breath, calm down and you’ll be fine.  

He was concerned about me?  Was he in shock?

“You gottta understand,” he went on.  “Every day when I leave for work, the helmet my parents got me sits by the front door, and every day I walk right past it.  For some reason, this morning I stopped, looked at it, picked it up and strapped it on.  Look.  See the big dent?  If I hadn’t worn it, that dent would be in my skull.  I’ll never ride my bike without a helmet again.  Don’t you see?  I’m grateful.  My folks will be too.  Now, will you drive me to Kaiser, please?”

Jerry was 19 going on 50.  His X-rays were negative and except for a few bruises, he was fine.  I drove him to his job, and he thanked me, suggesting I take aspirin when I got to my office.  He even called later to check on me.  

(My insurance did pay for a new motorcycle, and a new pair of jeans, and I never heard from him again).  

The sitter had already started dinner when I got home and was available to stay if I wanted her to.   On a whim, I called the office and asked Helen if she still wanted to go to Brennan’s.  

“Absolutely!”  She was excited.

We were surrounded by the guys from engineering when we walked into Brennan’s and the drinks flowed freely.  They considered it a rare 

treat to have us join the party.  One drink, and my troubles began to fade.  Helen and I were having a great time soaking up the attention.

Home of the Turtle Races – Marina del Rey, CA

After a while I noticed a tall bearded man on the other side of the horseshoe shaped bar looking at me.  He looked away quickly when our eyes met.   A few moments later he did the same thing, only this time he had moved a few bar stools closer.  He wasn’t part of our group, and even in my mellow state, I wasn’t in the mood.  

(to be continued)

Marcia Orland, Afterglow Media  310.918.0577

Posted by: Meandering Memories | June 5, 2012

When Life Changes

Our lives are full of big moves, turning points, changes and “ah ha” moments.  Each impacts us in a different way, and I will use Meandering Memories to record my observations, musings and moments which have shaped and continue to shape my life, triggering memories and reflections as I go.  I’ll begin with a recent move. A year and a half ago, after nearly 40 years in West Los Angeles, John and I sold our home in West Los Angeles and relocated an hour and a half north to Summerland, just south of Montecito and Santa Barbara.  It’s perfect.  Small town, on the ocean, with mountain views, and easy freeway, train and air access to the big city and beyond.  For months after moving here, I arrived half an hour early for every coffee date or lunch meeting, planning for traffic that didn’t exist, a hangover from years of gridlock in Los Angeles.  It took that long for me to lose the tension in my shoulders, the furrow in my brow, the visceral response to traffic, noise, concrete, rushing and the stress of living in a city bulging with a combination of too many people and failing enterprises; empty buildings and hoards of homeless people; greed and despair.  All out of whack.  Like Verde meets Ice Cube.  Summerland doesn’t change the challenges of everyday living we all have, but it provides a lovely environment where we can refresh and restore,  breathe clean air, see and touch the beauty of nature surrounding us, and wake up every day to go about life in a more healthy, restorative way.  Summerland is a friendly, walkable town.  I start many mornings with a walk to Cafe Luna, where locals gather around the stone fireplace to share avocados and lemons from their trees, enjoy a latte and croissant, and swap stories.  The food and coffee drinks are the best, owners Dan and Jeanette are lovely, and pets are welcome outside.

My husband John is a motion picture producer and writer, passionate from an early age and still proud to be in the industry, even though it doesn’t always love back.  Shortly after our move to Summerland, he began work as Post Production Producer  on “Atlas Shrugged – Part 1” which kept him in Los Angeles during the week, and here only on weekends.  Go figure.  But what a wonderful place to come home to!  Now he is working on “Atlas Shrugged – Part 2.”

I found my passion in 2003, walked away from my career in corporate financial services and founded Afterglow Media.  I was inspired and determined to help people recall and record memories and share stories of their journey through life.  The video interviews are edited into a professional documentary which becomes a legacy for current and future generations.  There is no greater gift a person can give, and I am passionate about helping people do it, while there is still time.  I relocated my studio/office to Coast Village Road in Montecito, just 3 miles from our new home. Here is a link to an online book that describes the services we provide,, and highlights some of the projects we have completed. Memory Trigger:  Our move to Summerland reminds me when my children and I moved from Rochester, NY to Los Angeles in 1971.  Following a divorce after 12 years and 4 children, ages 6 – 11, I was given an opportunity to explore job opportunities in Los Angeles.  I had never strayed far from Warsaw, NY where I was born and raised.  After graduating from Green Mt. College in Vermont, I spent a few months in Washington, DC working for a Congressman in 1958.  But I returned to familiar territory and married my first husband, Bob, settling 18 miles from Warsaw.  Five years and 4 kids later, it seemed my role was clear. However, I did work full time  as a secretary and office manager in between children, juggling all the duties of wife and mother, Cub Scout den mother, etc., and never felt taxed for time or energy.  I longed for personal and career growth, and while Bob and I had no animosity in our relationship, we did grow apart, wanting different things.  A year after our divorce, my 2 sons and 2 daughters and I moved to West Los Angeles, where I obtained a personal assistant/secretarial position with Wangco, Inc., in Santa Monica.

This photo was taken at Niagara Falls in 1971 just before our kids and I moved to Los Angeles (Bob took the picture).   Bill (11) is in the back, Todd (9) is in front.  Kortney (7-1/2) is in pigtails and Whitney (6) is in red.  People said we reminded them of the Brady Bunch.  I was 32.

With my Dad’s assistance, I purchased a 3-bedroom, 2-bath home in West Los Angeles for $32,000.  Big move.  The kids enrolled in a new school, made new friends, and adjusted to the many cultural differences.  I had to adjust to the fact there was no basement!  We made the transition together, and thrived.  And of course we enjoyed the  climate, especially in the winter time when we were accustomed to long, cold, snow and sleet-filled months.  The only time we missed snow was during the Christmas season.

Think about your own turning points, and how they have impacted your life.  Write them down, record them, and contact me when you are ready to assemble them, and other memories, into your own personal life story documentary.  There is no greater gift for your family now, and in the years to come.

Marcia Orland, Afterglow Media;  310.918.0577;