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Summer reigns unrivaled as Santa Clarita's grossest season. At the end of each day, Claritans one and all are covered in a film of sweat, smog and varying parts barbecue and wildfire ash. Even worse, this is the time of year when we are expected to assemble in crowds for a host of ungodly reasons. Tourists throng SoCal destinations and locals mass at park concerts and pools. It's no wonder that tempers flare and tensions boil over. All that friction, both literal and figurative, makes trouble in summer crowds. Where people gather, you're bound to feel the heat.
Being human, a big part of the day-to-day job description is watching other humans do stuff. We watch our kids to make sure they're safe, our co-workers to make sure they're accountable and our exes to make sure they're not too happy. With all of this real-life watching, it's a wonder that one of our favorite things to do with our free time is yet more watching. Sure, there are great fictional shows to binge, but there's an undeniable appeal to watching video of even more real life - sports, news, what have you. Cameras are everywhere, we are capturing everything. The question isn't availability, but whether we want to watch what all those cameras capture.
Santa Clarita's elementary school teachers may be the only force keeping the sticker industry alive. The coming summer months exist mostly for them to re-stock their supply of happy faces and gold stars. There's a particular sticker I've seen only used for math tests, but it's one that should be plastered everywhere. It says "Show your work!" Don't just give an answer, but explain the steps that got you there. If only we could slap that sticker on current events that left us scratching our head in want of some explanation.
Spring fever isn't something we Claritans usually get to experience. This year was different. As rain, cold and wind intruded on weekends, many started to feel antsy and anxious to get out and enjoy the sunshine. (How lucky we've been to grow tired of rain.). Now, everyone seems to be making up for lost time, synthesizing vitamin D and de-pastifying in short sleeves. Why fight it? In the spirit of springtime, this month's local news roundup is all of the outdoors variety. Outdoor reading is recommended, though a sunny window will suffice.
Everyone knows about "Which Rachel?" situations. Santa Clarita, like America at large, is so saturated with 20- and 30-something Rachels that you need to ask which Rachel is the Rachel being talked about to preserve some sense of order in the universe. Based on contemporary child-naming practices, this will soon become a "Which Emma?" problem, but for now, we need clarity on Rachels. The same phenomenon has been playing out in the news, too. There's a strange sense of having seen the headline before, even though the timestamp shows it's mere hours old. Amidst all the overlap and deja vu, let's sort out which news story is which.
The annoying forward-march of time continues: Santa Clarita, meet 2019. If I've learned one thing about this time of year, it's that we're supposed to pause, take stock and reflect. Subjecting yourself to such an examination sounds terrible. Instead, let's focus Santa Clarita. The City turned 31 on December 15. True to form, the lines are beginning to show and life decisions are starting to be questioned. A lot has changed over the last year, but it's not clear if we're seeing the "new normal" or merely normal wobbles from the status quo.
Many people hold centuries-old, deeply-rooted religious beliefs that instill Christmas, Hanukah and other holidays with a profound sense of meaning. But even the most thoughtful and devout of these often have holiday traditions that just don't make sense if you start asking too many questions.
Election season has finally arrived. I hear that there are races involving districts and counties and states, but for many Claritans, there is no more glorious office than the Santa Clarita City Council. How else can we explain why Mayor Laurene Weste - who first served in 1998 - is running yet again? How else can we explain why TimBen Boydston - who has been variously appointed, victorious and defeated in past bids for a seat - is trying to make a comeback? It's always the same handful of people in local politics, but their convoluted journeys and relationships typify how complicated life can get in Santa Clarita.
Halloween is approaching, but this summer has been scary enough. Three different stories of recovered human remains ran the same week in our local news. All of California seemed to be on fire. Particularly upsetting was the Big Oaks Lodge Fire, an apparently accidental inferno that gutted the legendary biker bar on Bouquet Canyon Road. Death and disaster are terrifying in their own rights, but the fact that we can't see them coming is what elevates them to nightmarish status. As you pick out costumes and plan parties this October, just remember how frightfully unpredictable life in the SCV can be.
The worst part of summer isn't the heat. It's the local news reporting on the heat. Temperatures climb above normal and, without fail, reporters are dispatched to local pools, parks, and "cooling centers" to report on the painfully obvious. Perhaps it's Santa Clarita's lack of storms, snow or other real weather that inspires such an enthusiasm to report that summer is indeed hot. Whatever the reason, these reports have a pattern of closing with a chastening reminder to keep an eye on any neighbors who might be particularly sensitive to the heat. Even this is unnecessary; Claritans are already watching all the time.
Most people don't have a pool of their own. But with so many pools out there, one might think that the quest to find a place to float through summer is easy here in Santa Clarita. This is not the case. The price for admission to a public pool can be pink eye, and when friends let your family share their pool, there is a palpable sense that you owe them more than merely tolerating their boring chatter. And if you want to buy a home with its own pool, good luck. All around the SCV are reminders that the summer housing game is fierce, brutal and expensive.
When is not-news, news? In the SCV, pretty often. This isn't fake news, which is at least usually interesting. It's news that just wouldn't pass muster in most other metropolises of a quarter-million people. Journalists need to write stories about something and people need to talk about something, even when that something is nothing. This phenomenon goes hand in hand with blowing things out of proportion, because Claritans excel at overreacting to whatever the news of the day happens to be. We take our lack of news very seriously indeed.
It's time for high school graduation, which means SCV seniors are now just 10 or 15 years away from leaving home and entering the workforce. When that fateful day does come, they'll discover that working for a large company means having multiple bosses who all tell them to do different things. It's impossible to please everyone and sometimes you can't even split the difference. That's the situation that Santa Clarita finds herself in these days, except her bosses are different levels of government. Deciding which of many masters to obey is one of the challenges of adulthood and it makes the business of running a city more fraught than ever.
A chorus of sneezes heralds the arrival of spring in Santa Clarita. Pollen is the price we pay for having beautiful flowers to look at. And I, for one, am more than willing to take that deal, because I'm on team carbon-based biological life forms. I make this rather unusual statement because Santa Clarita is rapidly moving towards a more silicon-based lifestyle. It's robots, robots everywhere. The cold, unfeeling, inhuman creations are spreading through the valley, and alarmingly, we're welcoming them with open arms.
They say that there are 50 Eskimo words for snow - it's just the world they live in. By that logic, there should be at least 50 Claritan words for waiting. There's the helpless waiting of traffic; the anxious waiting at a stoplight next to someone you cut off; the aggressive waiting to find a parking spot at Westfield; and the nervous waiting to get across the street once you find a spot. And that's just for driving. In the SCV, you get used to wondering why it takes so long for things to get done.
With unemployment low and the economy growing, employers are wise to offer perks that keep employees' eyes from wandering towards greener pastures. Sure, we'll all be replaced by algorithms and robots in a few years, but for now, it's nice to feel appreciated and well compensated. Maybe it's a day to work from home instead of commute, a solid health insurance plan or matching retirement contributions. That's all fairly standard. But in some professions, the perks are far more surprising.
With Valentine's Day not so far away, you might start thinking about that special someone. But just because you find them unique and one-of-a-kind doesn't mean the rest of us do. Lots of people are good partners, tell corny jokes, have adorable dimples and share your fondness for '80s music. The world is lousy with overrated soulmates. To really stand out in a crowd the size of Santa Clarita, it takes more. You don't necessarily have to be the best at something, but you do have to have taken a path followed by few others.
30 Very Specific Things You Heart (or Hearted) about SCV
You've probably noticed the number "30" creeping into all the mail, posters and postings put out by the City of Santa Clarita. Now, the drumbeat of thirty-fication is reaching a crescendo. It's not to advertise that we're in the TMZ (thirty-mile zone), nor is it our ranking among LA's best cities, nor is it a memorial of the infamous Saugus Skirmish three decades ago. Rather, it's there to mark the fact that on December 15, 2017, the City of Santa Clarita will turn 30 years old. We've come a long way, Claritans, and it's worth pondering whether we are indeed acting our age.
Family members visiting for Thanksgiving usually have a to-do list, especially if it's their first time. Magic Mountain is open the whole week, so that's one easy stop, but all the rest require you to spend the holiday on a southbound freeway: Disneyland, trendy restaurants, the Hollywood sign, Venice Beach, big museums, Rodeo Drive, the Santa Monica Pier. No matter the destination, sitting in a car will be the main activity, which is actually about right for an authentic Southern California experience. But after all the running around, it's nice to have this dull, quiet place to return to. Santa Clarita is home to many - and people are looking to make it welcome even more.
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