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Whenever I flew during college, my ticket was always flagged. I would try to do the self check-in and was invariably directed to the ticket counter, where people would have to type in codes or call supervisors. Being neither a drug runner, terrorist, felon - nor any combination thereof - I found this perplexing. I'm a pro-SCV extremist, but since when is that a crime?
Those of us who live in the 'burbs are rarely shown in our best light. Suburbanites on TV dramas or real-housewife-esque reality shows are usually portrayed as conformity-loving, materialistic, petty and superficial - as if the rest of humanity wasn't. But it's the conformity that people fixate on. Neighborhoods are a collection of the same houses filled with the same sorts of people who have the same interests and run in the same crowds.
We all have ideas about the way the world should work. But others have ideas, too, and they're different than ours, and thus, we have the world as we know it. For many, this is simply unacceptable. Political types especially are always pushing to make places, laws and society align more closely with their ideas of perfection. Witness the race for California senator or governor - any political race, for that matter. Each candidate is selling a vision for a brighter future; each wants a chance to make their ideals our reality. Though we don't have any major local races this Election Day, Santa Clarita's leaders are showing the same ambition and idealism found on the campaign trail. The trouble is that different, at times opposing, ideas for a more perfect SCV are now colliding.
"Trick or treat?" makes for a rather nasty greeting. It's an ultimatum. Either treats will be given by the homeowner or the snubbed children will get their revenge with trickery. But growing up, I was more worried about tricks that might be played on me. It probably had a lot to do with my mom's insistence on checking every piece of Halloween candy.
We are told that global warming threatens our notion of winter, turning ice to slush and menacing frosts to mere chills. At least winter's on notice, courtesy of climate scientists and environmentalists. Far more insidious are the threats to summer. Traditionally, summer ended on the Autumnal Equinox - September 23 this year, a date marked by few outside of Santa Clarita's pagan circles. Or it ended on Labor Day, which isn't too outrageous. Then schools began chipping away at summer's trailing edge, moving the first day of class from early September to early August.
Santa Clarita needs a little help. (A lot, some might say.) While the city is quite adept at wooing business, building parks and fixing potholes, it cannot do everything. To accomplish the really big stuff, Santa Clarita usually relies on the federal government.
Laws can be just as petty and irritating as the people who craft them. Since they're rarely repealed, normal people tend to just overlook those laws and rules that make life unnecessarily annoying. When that doesn't work, we stand ready to heap scorn and ridicule upon those who insist on following the letter of the law too closely with their frivolous lawsuits or enforcement of obscure codes.
I miss "goodbye." With great clarity, it signaled that two or more people were parting ways. It has fallen largely out of favor, replaced by "later" or "seeya," greetings that promise that things aren't yet over. Conversations sent via electronic channels also defy conclusion; the texts and comments will continue piling up whether you acknowledge them or not. The last holdouts are reality TV shows, where "pack your knives and go" or "you're fired" still impart a welcome sense of finality. But even here, the dismissals are just words, and the stars will be back for a reunion special, another season, or their own spin-off.
Santa Clarita should be a City utterly devoid of surprises. Everything is planned, usually about three years in advance by means of a series of spectacularly boring meetings. But lately, life and business in the SCV have been proceeding in defiance of what was planned for them. The trouble with getting more than we bargained for is that the "more" isn't often good.
Saving is a pastime favored by many Claritans. We have groups that are saving open space, some who are saving arts programs, while still others are saving historic places. There are even those who try to protect decidedly non-historic places, like the loose coalition that sprang up to not-so-successfully save Bristol Farms supermarket from closing. While the indigenous people and early settlers of Santa Clarita had little to save - there were no historic buildings, much less supermarkets - we moderns have ever more to worry about preserving and protecting.

This month, it's saving and safety that's on the agenda.
It's not hard to get noticed in Santa Clarita. Standing in the middle of McBean during rush hour, painting one's house a shade forbidden by the HOA, or driving a car made before 2007 are all viable options for those craving attention. Getting noticed is certainly something on the minds of the 11 candidates vying for election to City Council. The SCV Press Club will be giving notice to those worth talking about at the Newsmakers Awards Gala Dinner on March 19.
Santa Clarita rarely tops the list of romantic getaways. Castaic Lake's waters are not quite as warm and crystal clear as those of the Bahamas, the Six Flags Sky Tower makes a poor substitute for Paris's Eiffel, and the Travelodge on Sierra Highway lacks some of the charm of a New Hampshire B&B. So when it comes to February 14 trips booked on those travel websites, you can be sure that Santa Clarita will be entered in the "Departing From" box, not the "Destination."
Unlike alchemy and bloodletting, geography is a medieval discipline that still holds sway in modern times. No amount of cross-continent Skype-ing or international jet-setting can eliminate the importance of place, the particular patch of earth on which we dwell.
Holiday update letters are de rigueur for the suburban family. How else are far-flung friends and family members to know about Madison's stunning performance at the art fair and Braden's acceptance to law school? If the City of Santa Clarita was to draft such a letter, things would be a little different; something like this:
At a mere 21 years and 11 months old, the City of Santa Clarita hasn't had a lot of time to develop meaningful traditions. (The Fourth of July Parade and Buck McKeon's annual attempt to pass CEMEX legislation are notable exceptions). This lack of tradition is felt keenly during Thanksgiving when other cities flaunt their delightful array of customs. New York City has the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Plymouth has historical reenactments complete with pilgrims, pirates, and soldiers. Football towns have tailgating with turkeys on the grill. Buffalo holds the dubious honor of hosting "The World's Largest Disco" the Saturday after Thanksgiving - but hey, it's still a tradition.
In Santa Clarita, it's not really October until a few thousand acres have been ravaged by a Santa-Ana-wind-driven, Super-Scooper-doused blaze. What's interesting - and annoying - is how these fires always seem to make us turn against the very substance that helped us extinguish them, namely water.
It's surprisingly easy to ignore 99 percent of the things that happen in SCV, even when we live here. To get by, many just need to know a few places to eat and shop and directions to the nearest freeway on ramp. Those with children tend to be slightly better acquainted with the community. Their attention has shifted from escaping Santa Clarita to finding its best schools, signing up for sports and figuring out if the shifty guy down the street who wears sleeveless flannel shirts is registered on the Megan's Law website.
Judith Larner Lowry, one of California's finest nature writers, divides the year into five parts. There's fall, winter, spring, summer and then, a fifth season comprising August and October. She calls it "the quiet time" when all is parched and still: "That long luxurious warm spell with no rain."
Santa Clarita is a terrifyingly predictable place. Every election, local politicians will promise to improve traffic and keep children safe. You can walk into any restaurant and order a chicken Caesar salad - menu unseen - knowing that it will cost $9.99 and taste pretty good. SCOPE will always find something wrong about every development.
Graduations from high school and college mean it's time for many a fresh, eager young Claritan to begin the always-arduous task of job hunting. After spending nearly two decades in school being told that their education would help them get a good job, these people will finally have the opportunity to put a paycheck where their diploma is.
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