Category Archives: Top 10 List

10 Reasons Why I Am Grateful This Thanksgiving

I live in the East Fernando Valley. The rest of my family resides in various pockets of the Inland Empire – an hour away without traffic, and a slow multi-hour freeway crawl on a holiday like Thanksgiving. As Spock would say, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,” so most holidays I’m the one checking Sigalert and making a pit stop at the In-N-Out drive thru to tide myself over before the big meal.

The last time I hosted Thanksgiving dinner at my home was in 1993. This was pre-kids, and my ex-husband and I prepared a turkey dinner for my mom, siblings, nieces and nephews at the home we rented in Toluca Lake.

Notice that I say: “prepared.”

Sometime mid-morning our oven broke and we finished cooking the turkey in the microwave. The ceremonial slicing of the bird occurred around noon so we could divide it into pieces small enough to fit into the microwave. You didn’t have the option of white meat or dark meat. Instead, it was your choice of “dry as a bone” or “pink enough to cause e coli.”

Besides the long drive and the rising price of gas, the microwaved turkey dinner was probably a good reason for my family to take nearly two decades before allowing me to host another Thanksgiving dinner.

As I write this post, my family will be arriving here in just under an hour to give me another shot. And since my current husband will be doing all the cooking this year (another reason why I think this one’s a keeper), I’m taking a moment to reflect upon the 10 Reasons Why I Am Grateful This Thanksgiving:

1. I am grateful that I get to enjoy a long visit with my Family of Origin, but that they’ll all leave before I remember why I couldn’t wait to move out the second I turned 18.

2. I am grateful that I didn’t have to kill my own turkey.

3. I am grateful that I decided against being cheap enough to make a pumpkin pie out of our leftover Halloween jack-o-lanterns.

4. I am grateful that my family will be so hungry that they won’t notice that we do not own a dining table.

5. I am grateful that that most Americans and I share the belief that Thanksgiving calories don’t count.

6. I am grateful that I am not invited to any social engagements this coming weekend where I would need to try and hide the 5 lbs. I gained on this single day.

7. I am grateful that the turkey’s tryptophane will keep me from waking up early enough to partake in the Black Friday Sales that I can’t afford.

8. I am grateful that there will be a variety of vegetables, but I don’t have to eat any of them.

9. I am grateful that since I am destined to become a football widow today, I’ll have two dozen family members here to entertain me.

10. I am grateful that we had new sewage pipes installed this year, just in case any of my family members have become closet bulimics.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and I hope that your hearts are overflowing with gratitude instead of bad cholesterol.

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Filed under Family, Holidays, Humor, Husband, Kids, Top 10 List

13 Suggested Tasks for a 13-year Old’s Rite of Passage into Adulthood

To see my vlog (video blog) of this post, click here.

Last month a woman wrote an article in England’s The Guardian about her son who rented the 1977 tv miniseries Roots and decided that he was old enough for manhood training like young Kunta Kinte – without having his foot cut off. Because he was nearing his 13th birthday and was looking for more freedom and independence, the mom decided to create a series of 13 tests as his rite of passage into adulthood. They included tasks like cooking a 3-course family dinner, taking a train by himself, and learning a piano piece and performing it in public.

I know this magical 13 years of age is a big moment in the Jewish tradition in the form of a Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah, just as it was I made my Confirmation. I was now an adult in the eyes of the Catholic Church, which meant that I was really going to hell instead of just purgatory. The adulthood milestone backfired when my brother was old enough to make his Confirmation.

“If I’m old enough to be an adult in the church, then I’m old enough to refuse to go to church,” he confessed to my mother.

Other than weddings and funerals, I think that’s the last time my brother ever went to mass.

There a lot of difficult tasks that adults are expected to perform, so if an adolescent wants a later bedtime or to convince his parents that he should have a supersize rather than a Happy Meal, here are my 13 suggestions that are sure to make him a man:

Note that all these tasks must be done without an iPod, iPhone, Gameboy, or any other device 13-year olds have their noses buried in these days.

Here we go –

1. Work for a week as a customer service representative for a boss who’s a complete jerk.

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2. Put together a desk from IKEA without having any unexplained spare parts.

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3. Call a medical insurance company and try to get reimbursed for a payment.____________________________________________________________

4. Attend a large university graduation ceremony on a really hot day.

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5. Stand outside the Reagan Library and try to get people to register as Democrats.

____________________________________________________________6. 6. Answer the front door to a Jehovah’s Witness without converting.

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7. Go to the DMV without an appointment. Wait and wait and wait until you reach the front desk and ask if they’ll give you a driver’s license if your mom tells them it’s ok with her.

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8. Serve one week of jury duty. More if you get an allowance and your mom & dad compensate you for it.

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9. Take a bus from Union Station to the Santa Monica pier and deliberately sit next to the smelliest guy you can find.

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10. Clean up a frat house after a wild Cinco de Mayo party. Score more manhood points if the tequila was really cheap.

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11. Make a dinner using only vegetables, then eat the entire meal without saying “yuck” or plugging your nose.

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12. Talk to a telemarketer for five minutes, then refuse to buy anything.

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13. Stall your car for ten minutes on a freeway off ramp right next to a man with a homemade sign and cup in his hand. Keep eye contact with him for the entire duration.

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Odds are your child will give up before he or she reaches 13 and instead return to being an obsessed Facebook and Nickelodeon fanatic.

That’s the bad news.

And the worse news:

After this ordeal, he’ll probably never leave home.

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Filed under Humor, Kids, Parenting, Top 10 List

The Mom Olympics

Pumping up for the Mom Olympics

I’ve never really been into spectator sports, unless of course it involves watching my 5-year old son in Toluca Baseball and praying that he stops playing in the dirt. I love going to see the Dodgers, but if they suddenly closed the concessions stands and I couldn’t wolf down a Dodger Dog, I probably wouldn’t fork out the 50 bucks. And although I love his enthusiasm, I just don’t see my husband’s attraction of yelling at our tv on Sundays at a bunch of helmet heads who obviously can’t hear him all the way in Florida. Are these big guys really going to move faster with my husband is calling them a tool?

This week he’s is trying to lure the whole family into watching the Summer Olympics. Tom is gushing about his respect and amazement over the physical feats of these athletes who have been training for their sport even before they grunted their way through the birth canal. I’m enjoying bits and pieces, while my daughter Mary is learning the lingo about gymnastics (They didn’t stick it!) and coaching me on the athletes’ names, countries and probable endorsement deals.

All this hype has persuaded the YouTube MomPulse channel to ask the question: “What would be in the Mom Olympics?” So in honor of the 2012 Summer Olympics, I have proposed:

12 Categories for the Mom Olympics:

#1 Fastest sun block application

#1 Fastest sun block application

You earn extra points if your kid is crying, but lose points if he’s crying because you squirted sunblock in his eyes.

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#2 Shotput toys from the living room back into the bedroom

#2 Shotput toys from the living room back into the bedroom

You lose points if you happen to hit a kid or dog walking by.

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#3 Synchronized teeth brushing

#3 Synchronized teeth brushing

SpongeBob toothpaste is allowed.

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#4 Fastest sprint to save your child from entering the street

#4 Fastest sprint to save your child from entering the street

Most moms would beat any Olympiad’s Gold Medal record in this competition.

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#5 Hosting the largest slumber party without committing homicide or suicide

#5 Hosting the largest slumber party without committing homicide or suicide

Extra points if your guests are particularly high maintenance.

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#6 Judged by distance, time and amount, how many groceries can you carry from the minivan to the house?

#6 Judged by distance, time and amount, how many groceries can you carry from the minivan to the house?

Extra points for using your own reusable bags. Not because it’s a more difficult skill; Mom Olympics should be environmentally friendly.

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#7 Hurdling over dogs to answer the phone

#7 Hurdling over dogs to answer the phone

Don’t you hate when you waste all that energy just to get a telemarketer?

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#8 Most patience while teaching your teenager to drive

#8 Most patience while teaching your teenager to drive

See #5 above. The homicide or suicide rule applies to this event as well.

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#9 Standing high jump while trying to dust the top book shelf

#9 Standing high jump while trying to dust the top book shelf

For the Dad Olympics, they use a footstool. Or rather, they tell their wife to use a footstool.

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#10 Driving the most stressful car pool without flipping anyone off or using the wrong 4-letter words

#10 Driving the most stressful car pool without flipping anyone off or using the wrong 4-letter words

Extra points if you have to listen to the same Glee song over and over.

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#11 Creating the cheapest edible meal for a family of 5

#11 Creating the cheapest edible meal for a family of 5

I wanted to post a picture of an off-brand macaroni and cheese made with nonfat dry milk and Butterbuds, but then I’d have to eat it, which would violate the second part of Rule #5. It would be inedible and might create inadvertent suicide.

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#12 Triple jump homework help

#12 Triple jump homework help

This is harder as your kids get older and start taking calculus. Unless you majored in math, which is unlikely for most moms. What a shame.

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It’s too bad I didn’t have time to book a flight to London this year, but I hope to see you all in 4 years in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Mom Olympics.

“Adeus!”

That’s “Cheerio!” in Portuguese.

To view my Mom Olympics vlog click the link below:

MomPulse Vlog: What Would Be in the Mom Olympics?

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20 Predictions for Season 2 of “Once Upon a Time”

The networks’ fall lineup has just been announced, and it was no surprise to anyone that Once Upon a Time, this year’s #1 new drama, has been picked up for Season 2.

In this week’s season finale, all the townspeople of Storybrooke have just been struck by a virtual bolt of lightning and now remember who they truly are – Fairy Tale Land characters. Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin) has poured true love – the most powerful potion in all the realms – into the magical well that can “return that which is lost.” Suddenly a huge wave of pink smoke reminiscent of something you’d find in a Victoria’s Secret ad starts rolling through Storybrooke, terrifying all the townspeople with the exception of Mayor Regina Mills (The Evil Queen) who slowly starts to smile.

Why is she smiling?

We won’t know that answer until sometime in September when Once Upon a Time returns.

As the dialogue editor of Once Upon a Time, my job is the second to the last step before the show airs, so I am definitely not privy to the story lines that are created by the above-the-line mucky mucks many months before. However, being a huge big fan of the show, I enjoy speculating what might happen during Season 2.

Here are my predictions:

Regina Mills – Mayor of Storybrooke

1. In the Season 2 opener, we find that Regina (The Evil Queen) now inhabits the body of Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase CEO and Chairman of the Board, who received a $23 million pay package, lost $2 billion and still remains untouchable. (Isn’t it amazing when truth is stranger than fiction?).

Jamie Dimon – King of JPMorgan Chase

2. Mr. Gold’s (Rumplestiltskin) gets his wish to have his son Baelfire returned to him, prompting his 20-something-year old to live in true present-day style by moving in with his dad and spending his days playing video games, watching raunchy reality shows, and filling Mr. Gold’s home with empty beer cans and Dominoes Pizza boxes.

3. Belle marries Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin), but after a week living with his prodigal slacker son, she hightails it back to the loony bin where she had been imprisoned for the previous 28 years.

4. Mary Margaret (Snow White) and David (Prince Charming) seek relationship advice from therapist Archie (Jiminy Cricket) when she’s laid off from her teaching job due to school budget cuts and he starts bringing home stray mutts and feral cats from his job at the animal shelter.

5. For season 2, Emma finally trades in her boots for some practical running shoes. She also has a fling with Ruby (Red Riding Hood) and Once Upon a Time’s ratings explode with a loyal lesbian fan base.

6. Real life actor Jared Gilmore (Henry) has a growth spurt over the summer and his voice changes. In an effort to keep him short and cute, he is recast and replaced by one of the background dwarfs.

7. August Wayne Booth (grown Pinocchio) is reanimated as a real man with the exception of one body part that makes him very popular with the small town girls. I’ll give you a hint on that particular body part: his new nickname is “Woody.”

8. Storybrooke therapist Archie Hopper (Jiminy Cricket) vanishes into thin air when Regina (The Evil Queen) returns to Fairy Tale Land with a can of Raid.

9. Present Day Snow White, Belle, and Cinderella nearly kill each other in a catfight when they are all featured as contestants in Storybrooke’s version of The Bachelor.

10.  After the Blue Fairy has trouble flying due to the excess weight caused by her ginormous boobs, she inhabits her Storybrooke Mother Superior body to have a breast reduction. However, once in Storybrooke, she changes her mind and leaves the convent after realizing that her breast endowment makes her extremely popular among the men in town, most notably the more plentiful than average population of short men in Storybrooke whose faces are directly at eye level with her chest.

11. An evil clown arrives in Storybrooke, forces Granny out of her diner and installs a pair of Golden Arches over the entrance.

12. We find out how Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin) got his limp. As OUAT fans know, Rumplestiltskin’s favorite line is “All magic comes with a price.” Apparently he tried to sneak into a David Copperfield show at a Mafia-run night club without paying, and the boss’s thugs broke Mr. Gold’s kneecap. Hence as retribution, Mr. Gold has made himself the Godfather of Storybrooke.

13. Jefferson (The Mad Hatter) gets his tween daughter Grace/Paige back, but returns her to her Storybrooke parents after he’s disgusted to realize that she’s addicted to The Disney Channel and spends all day texting.

14. We find that Dr. Whale is actually Monstro, the giant whale that swallowed Geppetto (Marco) and Pinocchio (August) in Fairy Tale Land.

He starts having regular therapy sessions with Archie (Jiminy Cricket) when it is revealed that after upchucking the old Italian guy and his wooden puppet, Dr. Whale now suffers from bulimia.

15. Kathryn Nolan (Abigail – Prince Charming’s intended wife and his Present Day actual wife) remembers that her true love is Frederick, who is now the Storybrooke High School head coach. She takes a job beside him coaching the Storybrooke cheerleaders who were Fairy Tale Land Fairies, and they all end up in a zany 2013-2014 season spinoff called Once Up On a Grind.

16. In the season finale, when the pink cloud rolls in, former Daily Mirror editor Sidney Glass is reverted to his Fairy Tale form (the Evil Queen’s Mirror). Regina sells him at an auction to the highest bidder – Oprah Winfrey – and Sidney spends his days telling her how thin she is.

17. It is revealed that the Once Upon a Time book was actually penned by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob of Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous fame. When Regina (The Evil Queen) sets out to destroy the true authors, instead of whipping up a sleeping potion, she gives them each a bottle of Colt 45 malt liquor.

18. We find out that Henry’s father is the rabbit from The Tortoise and the Hare.

Like any true rabbit, he reproduced at will, then scurried away as soon as he found out Emma was pregnant. When we meet Baby Daddy sometime in season 4 we’ll know he’s changed because he’ll be bald (hare-less).

19. Leroy (Grumpy) and perpetually-pleasant Sister Astrid (Nova the Fairy)

get married and have a slew of bi-polar children.

20. Love-stuck female fans start an email campaign to return deceased Sheriff Graham (Huntsman) whose heart was ripped out from his chest by Regina (The Evil Queen).

Once Upon a Time’s parent company ABC Television holds a contest offering to bring back the hunky Irishman if 100 fans decide to donate their own body parts to charity.

If you have no clue what I’m talking about, catch “Once Upon a Time” in reruns this summer and you’ll be up to date when the show returns this fall.

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10 Exciting Things I Can Now Do After Being Featured on “Freshly Pressed”

Imagine opening up your email and instead of just the standard Groupons, spammers, and loads of subjects starting with “Re:” (even though you were sick of reading the original email the first time around), you – Joe Shmoe – see page after page of:

[Joe Shmoe] everybody likes you…

[Joe Shmoe] everybody wants to follow you…

[Joe Shmoe] everybody is commenting about you you YOU…

This exact thing happened to me last Friday. Well, the exact same thing except that instead of “Joe Shmoe” it was for my blog very VERY busy mom. And of course it didn’t actually say “everybody.” I just said that to provide myself a little ego boost.

But I kid you not. I was getting a new email practically every minute.

Apparently a post I wrote last month about obsessing over the high price of gas entitled “($ ÷ Gallon) x (Miles ÷ Gallon) = LA Gasoline Anxiety” was featured on WordPress.com’s Freshly Pressed, a Webpage that offers between 11 and 19 picks of the day chosen from their nearly half a million bloggers.

Typically I’ll get 80 to 160 hits when I post a new blog, and then it’ll dwindle down to about 20 to 50 hits until I post another new one the next week.

But after appearing on Freshly Pressed’s hit list, I had an astounding 1757 hits!

Let me repeat that: 1757 hits!

I don’t even know 1757 people. Even virtual people.

More readers visited in subsequent days. 1647 on Saturday. 1438 on Sunday. 1443 on Monday. By Tuesday it dropped down to just 442, which was still more than double my all-time record of 174 hits in one day.

I received 181 comments on that article alone, mostly from people reprimanding me for driving my pokey 5-year old son 1300 feet to school in the morning. I guess you can’t explain the humiliation of a tardy slip to people who want to save the planet from greenhouse gases.

I must have logged onto my blog a hundred times between Friday and Monday just to watch my hits graph move up. And to answer the obvious question… no, it wasn’t just me visiting my own site 1757, 1647, 1438, and 1443 times in four days. WordPress actually counts unique visitor per day. And if I am anything, I am certainly unique.

So, to celebrate my good fortune, I now present:

10 Exciting Things I Can Now Do After Being Featured on Freshly Pressed

1. I can wear a sash in the Valley Village 4th of July Parade that says “Miss Freshly Pressed.” Or maybe not, since I hate ironing.

2. I’ll have virtual conversations with well-known bloggers, and they still won’t know or care who the heck I am, but I have the opportunity to feel smug anyway.

3. I’m finally getting more regular comments from people besides my mom and my husband.

4. I get to experience what it’s like to have 5 minutes of fame without claiming to be impregnated by a pop star.

5. Because I now have more Twitter followers, I’d better start posting more newsworthy tweets than “Another Wednesday. Another Humpday.”

6. I now have readers in countries I not only have never heard of, I also can’t pronounce their names. (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya… anyone?)

7. My Klout score has risen to an impressive 46! I still don’t really know what a Klout score is, or if 46 really is impressive, but it sounds good, and most of my readers probably don’t know the difference.

8. I can brag that both Indians (Native Americans) and Indians (from Asia) read my blog, except at opposite times of the day.

9. I now know a lot of people in Europe who want to move to LA for the cheap gas.

10. I have to figure out who at Freshly Pressed I need to bribe to get featured again. This has been fun!

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10 Reasons I’m Glad I Didn’t Win the $656 Million Mega Millions Jackpot

Like half of all the other desperate souls in America, I was dreaming of what I would do if I won $656 million in the Mega Millions Jackpot. I bought not one, but two lotto tickets, which is a very big deal since it meant that due to the astronomical gas prices I’d have to drive four fewer miles this week. Good timing since it’s spring break and I get a break from middle school car pool.

In my fantasy, I would pay off the house just enough to have 20% equity, then do a na-na-na-na-na-na dance to the half dozen loan officers who have turned us down for a refi this past year.

I would pay off the student loans my husband and I have accumulated to the tune of $185,000, and then have plenty left over to put our three kids through the college of their choice. What the heck… we could probably buy our own college.

We could fly first class to Florida and spend a week at Disneyworld while Emily is still young enough to enjoy it and Jake is old enough to avoid the dreaded naptime.

I could dream forever and keep going on about my fantasies, but the fact is, I didn’t win. Obviously, or my blog hit numbers would be through the roof. So since I try to be a glass half full kind of gal, I have come up with the…

10 Reasons I’m Glad I Didn’t Win the $656 Million Mega Millions Jackpot

1. Taxes. Right now I earn and pay a pittance – just enough to contribute a little something to our under-funded public schools. If I was paying millions in taxes it would all go to big ticket items like politicians’ pet projects such as funding studies on whether cockroaches prefer Cocoa Krispies or Cocoa Pebbles.

2. All the kindergartners would be knocking out their own teeth during sleepovers at our home since it would be rumored that we have a very generous Tooth Fairy.

3. My credit union building is just not big enough to deposit all those dollars

4. I really don’t want to be featured in supermarket tabloids under the headings “She’s just like us! She buys her own deodorant!” and “Lotto Winner Caught Picking Her Butt!”

5. I’d have to scrape off my “Other 99%” bumper sticker.

6. I’m afraid someone will kidnap my dogs and hold them for ransom. Then I’d have the dilemma of whether or not to pay the criminals or let the mutts just annoy them as much as they annoy me.

7. I’d probably have to start paying my kids an allowance.

8. Every third cousin in my family tree would be hightailing it to LA for a piece of the pie, and then race back again every month when their stash ran out.

9. I would have to spend all my free time rejecting new Facebook friend requests.

10. I would be invited to fancy shmancy parties that Mitt Romney is also invited to and then I’d have to keep repeating the awkward conversation that I am a Democrat and would plan to outspend his Super PAC.

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Filed under Anxiety, Debt, Financial Insecurity, Humor, Kids, Parenting, Public Schools, Top 10 List

8 Reasons Why I’m Happy That Valley Village Will Not Be Split Into Two Congressional Districts

For the past ten years, Valley Village has been split into two congressional districts. The boundary was split down Laurel Canyon Boulevard rather

Current Council District map

than the Tujunga Wash, which is the natural boundary for both Neighborhood Council Valley Village and the Valley Village Homeowners Association. But with the new census comes new maps that need to be redrawn, and there have been many loud and persistent voices in the community urging the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission to make Valley Village whole.

Valley Village section to be split

Just three weeks ago the commission presented a 2012 draft that had Valley Village again split into two districts, this time with a boundary down Whitsett Avenue.  Those loud and persistent voices grew even louder and more persistent.

The cacophony paid off. In the final draft presented last week, the commission moved the boundary west to the wash, so for the next ten years our community will be represented by just one congressman (or woman, should she choose to throw her bonnet into the ring).

So with tremendous celebratory fanfare akin to when the south rejoined the north and the United States of America was again made whole, I offer:

8 Reasons Why I’m Happy That Valley Village Will Not Be Split Into Two Congressional Districts:

1. Because there will be only one congressional field office representative reporting at the Neighborhood Council meeting, it should now wrap up before 9:00 pm in time for board members to see Modern Family.

2. There will only be one politician to blame (or butt kiss, depending on the need) which saves postage when mailing either cookies or anthrax (again, depending on the need).

3. Val Surf will be in the same district as the Tujunga Wash to make it easier for surfing to the Pacific Ocean.

4. The new boundary includes Rite Aid and Edwin’s Pharmacy for those who want a legitimate drug alternative to the half dozen pot shops.

5. Since the Valley Village area west of Whitsett will not be swallowed by the area of Sherman Oaks known as Sherman Village, it avoids the embarrassing nickname Shirley Village.

6. We gain a liquor store and three bars to help balance Valley Village’s numerous AA meetings.

7. St. Patrick’s Day is next week and now we can celebrate the big day within Valley Village by shopping at Shamrock Imports rather than venturing to neighboring communities for a McDonalds green milkshake.

8. Now we won’t have to get into a turf war with Sherman Oaks over ignoring the teeny tiny plot of land south of Riverside between Whitsett and the Tujunga Wash. It’s theirs. And it’s just the right size for another pot shop.

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