Growing pains

Growing  pains
Dear Patti,
I’m starting college in September and was accepted at several California universities. My dad thought it might be a good idea for me to go away to school but my mom insisted I wasn’t ready to leave home. I decided she was right and enrolled in Cal State LA. Now that all my friends are leaving, I realize I’ve made a mistake. My mom and I have always been close and maybe I’d be homesick at first, but deep inside I’m adventurous, have always dreamt of traveling, and want the experience of being on my own.  
My cousin says the whole family thinks I acquiesce to mom’s wishes too quickly and that I don’t think for myself. I was shocked to hear this, but it really opened my eyes. I’ve always felt fearful, disloyal, ungrateful and guilty whenever I’ve disagreed with my mother because I know she only has my best interests at heart. I suddenly feel angry about being passive and manipulated to do what she wants. I took ballet for five years because she loved it. I let her buy me a beautiful wardrobe instead of the kind of clothes I should be able to pick out for myself. 
For the first time in my life I’m miserable and don’t feel close to her. Instead of feeling happy about starting a new chapter in my life, I feel stuck and resentful. I want to break free, live the way I want to live and go away to school but now it seems too late.
  
— Ana 
Dear Ana,
While I know this is a difficult time for you and that you feel frustrated, stuck and uncomfortable, this is the exact feeling that will encourage you to grow and change. I’m actually very excited for you and see you as less “stuck” than ever before because of your newfound awareness. It sounds like this is the first time you’ve questioned this problem; this indicates you’re more ready to individuate and discover who you are. 
The anger you feel is perfectly understandable, as you feel something precious has been taken away from you. The growing pains and quest for freedom you’re experiencing can’t help but impact and alter existing family dynamics.
I recommend that you see a counselor individually to sort out all these new feelings and thoughts. Initially, you might have a tendency to revert to an enmeshed relationship with your mother or go completely the other way, rebellious and oppositional. After working through your feelings, one of the goals of counseling is to find a grounded self where you can process your anger and keep a close relationship with your mom without losing yourself. Whether she’s misguided and just trying to do what’s best for you, coming from a narcissistic place where’s she’s more concerned about what’s best for her, or a combination of the two, you will learn how to circumvent your mother’s suffocating tendencies and not automatically become emotionally derailed. After you’ve worked on yourself, you might want to have some counseling sessions with your mom, too.
You might also want to explore the possibility that this enmeshed way of being extends even farther than your relationship with your mother. How come it took (1) your father to suggest going away to college, (2) your friends leaving to make you feel you were missing out, and (3) your cousin’s candor to point out the problem? While all that is fine, it may be that this problem goes much deeper. This is an important lesson to learn. Without it, you might angrily separate from your mom and go off to college, only to lose yourself with a roommate or a new boyfriend. If you learn how to firmly and clearly but lovingly set boundaries with your mom, you’ll have that ability with others as well. If you’ve been enmeshed with her and haven’t been thinking for yourself, it’s an advantage to find this out in the beginning of adulthood.
Check with your school counselor and ask when you can transfer to another school. Now when you go away, you’ll be much more ready to do so. 
Patti Carmalt-Vener, a faculty member with the Southern California Society for Intensive Short Term Psychotherapy, has been a psychotherapist in private practice for 23 years and has offices in Pasadena, Santa Monica and Canoga Park. Contact her at (626) 584-8582 or email pcarmalt@aol.com. Visit her Web site, patticarmalt-vener.com.com. 

Growing pains

Growing pains
One doesn’t normally hear them used together, but Andrew C. Revkin, a journalist for The New York Times, uttered the words “puberty” and “environmental” in the same sentence last week. 
 
In his keynote speech on June 9 at a climate and sustainability symposium called Moving By Degrees, Revkin likened human interaction with the earth to a teen going through a species-scale growth spurt. Much like an adolescent, global society is growing, stretching and experimenting. And, just as it is for a teenager on the brink of adulthood, the time is now for humans to decide how we, as a species, want to continue.
 
“We live on a planet which is increasingly what we choose to make it,” said Revkin, who writes daily on a New York Times blog called Dot Earth.
 
Revkin was joined by scientists, other journalists and attendees gathered at the Crawford Family Forum in the KPCC Mohn Broadcast Center on South Raymond Avenue in Pasadena for the daylong interactive event hosted by American Public Media’s “Marketplace” and the Gary Comer Global Agenda. Journalists, including “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal, moderated panels that focused on climate change issues ranging from communication to policy to business to science. 
 
The climate change discussions did not question whether humans are causing those changes. The forum posed the more pressing question: What can we do about them? 
 
Climate scientists Dr. Michael Mann of Penn State University and Dr. Benjamin Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, whose climate science work has thrust them into the limelight in recent years, spoke on a panel moderated by Revkin.
 
“I have no agenda, no environmental agenda, no political agenda, no agenda to alter the world system of governments,” Santer said. “My agenda — and that of 99 percent of the people I work with — is to get the science right.”
 
Online audiences tuned in through Twitter and the event’s Web site, MovingByDegrees.org, until midday, when the Internet went down throughout the newly opened building. Journalists from the live audience wondered how media are supposed to get away from climate science as a political fight and focus on alternative stories to the conflict narrative.
 
History and science studies professor Naomi Oreskes from UC San Diego suggested that the next generation of scientists needs to become “citizen scientists” and reach out to the public.
 
“The work is not done until it is communicated in a way that citizens can understand,” Oreskes said.
 
For Santer, “the important thing is to turn the public into climate scientists. We need to make it clear to ordinary citizens and to policy makers that this is not science fiction. This is not the future. This is now.”
 
—For more about the conference, including video from the event, visit http://marketplace.publicradio.org/features/moving-by-degrees.

Growing Pains

Growing Pains
I come from a long line of great gardeners. My maternal grandmother was raised on a Wisconsin farm, and she taught my mother all the tricks of the trade. Sadly, those skills seem to have skipped my generation. I once killed a Chia Pet.
 
My grandma’s garden was something to behold. It was a huge plot with neat rows of every vegetable imaginable. It had a 10-foot fence to keep out the deer (at least it seemed like it was 10 feet when I was in kindergarten) and a perimeter of crushed eggshells to keep out the snails. Long before it was cool to do so, she had a big compost pile way out back and a coop full of chickens. (You see, kids, Martha Stewart did not invent everything.) I remember walking through a rose garden and a Concord grape–covered arbor, past the pomegranate trees to the garden, where grandma would pull a carrot out of the dirt and rinse it with a hose for me to snack on. I remember her fondly every time I taste a dirty carrot. 
 
My mom is a great gardener too. She taught me the basics of gardening when I was little, and I eagerly helped her tend our own fruitful garden. Being stereotypical California gardeners, we always had way too much zucchini. We made plenty of zucchini bread and ate it grated and sautéed in butter all summer long. We had plenty of artichokes and huge stalks of rhubarb that my friends and I would rip off the plant, douse in sugar and eat raw, daring each other to nibble closer and closer to the poisonous leaves.
 
Tomatoes, peppers, sunflowers and all kinds of herbs made an annual appearance, as did the occasional pumpkin, grown for the local fall pumpkin contest, which I never won. Yep, I have a million great childhood memories in the garden. 
 
Sadly, my poor kid’s childhood garden memories will consist of mom shouting naughty words at the ground, having just discovered — again — that her newly sprouted shoots were nibbled to the quick by someone or something. 
 
It’s not fair! Gardening is a hobby perfectly suited to me. I love all things crafty and homemade, I try hard to eat organic and I can easily follow a recipe (which is practically the same as seed packet instructions). Yet despite what seems like the perfect confluence of skill and passion, I can’t make a garden grow in my yard. 
 
Of course, that doesn’t prevent me from trying year after year. When the temperature begins to warm up and the hardware store moves the rack of seeds close to the register, my heart races like a 13-year-old girl’s at a Twilight convention. Shiny trowels, garden gloves, straw hats and tool totes woo me from every aisle. Back home, seed catalogs call out from the mailbox, teasing me with promises of bounty. 
 
But there are a few seemingly insurmountable obstacles that repeatedly render my garden a failure. The first is my soil. It is nothing but hardened clay and must be constantly amended. Because of this, I have developed a serious passion for composting.
 
Something about sorting garbage plays right into my love of thrift. Oh, the joy of saving vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, grass clippings and dirty paper napkins for months, then watching as it miraculously transforms into a fragrant mound of soil. The fact that the critical element of compost is worm poop makes it seem a little bit dangerous, and all the more enticing. I love my mini–circle of life: Trash becomes soil, which in turn nurtures the plants we consume, the scraps of which we compost and so on. Or so it would be, if I could grow something edible.
 
I also have a sunlight problem. Each time I think I have the perfect plot, my trees grow another foot and my once sunny plot is now shrouded in shade. Either that or my dogs decide that, because of the sunlight, my garden bed will now be their actual bed.
 
And then there is the neighborhood wildlife. Someone is routinely eating my sprouting vegetables. I have narrowed it down to either the Edison meter reader guy or one of our frequent backyard visitors. We have raccoons, possums, skunks, coyotes and a colony of squirrels; an Audubonian array of birds, including feral parrots, peacocks and giant red-tailed hawks (which is one reason I chose large dogs over small ones that look tasty from 50 feet in the air); and various rodents, which I am pretty sure are not perfecting ratatouille or sewing ball gowns while we humans sleep. 
 
But my biggest agricultural obstacle is me. Sometimes I kinda forget about my garden. I realize this is not a nurturing attitude. Imagine if I did that with my kids: “Sure, I’ll give you water, but as far as your day-to-day activities go, you’re on your own.” I admit that by the time I remember to check in on its progress, the bird-proof netting or dog-proof fence has been breached. I suppose there are a number of Monsanto products I could apply to solve many of these obstacles, but I am striving to set a healthy, organic example. If I want to poison my family, I’ll just hit Mickey D’s drive-thru. 
 
I did have a good garden once. It was in the yard of a small house we rented when the kids were babies. It had great soil and no critters, which was probably due to its location on the corner of a busy intersection, with no open space for miles, unless you count the Carrow’s parking lot. 
 
So here I go again. Another year, another plot, another raised-bed design and the latest technology in eco-friendly ultrasonic critter defense. It really irks me to know that any bubbleheaded college kid can grow plants in a dorm room closet, but I, a somewhat intelligent and clear-minded adult, can’t do it in a Southern Californian garden. Will the indignity never end?  

Growing pains

Growing pains

The San Gabriel Valley’s only medical marijuana dispensary is under fire from LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich and Pasadena police who say the operation is out of compliance with recently passed laws banning new dispensaries.

Paul Novak, planning and land use deputy for Antonovich, said the supervisor “has directed our staff, regional planning, the sheriff, and county counsel to pursue code enforcement and take action against the property.

“He has directed our attorney to investigate what legal options are available to close them down. It’s a very high priority because this clinic did not apply for any permit from the county despite being legally required to do so,” Novak said.

Pasadena Police Chief Bernard Melekian had expressed frustration because he said the county didn’t notify local police when the dispensary first opened in the last week of October, but Assistant County Counsel Richard Weiss said it happened the other way around. The county was first made aware of it by the Pasadena police.

One patient who works near the dispensary expressed disappointment at the prospect of the club shutting down. “It’s just so convenient and the next closest dispensary is in Silver Lake. Where am I supposed to go?” said Ryan Gerlin, who declined to say what illness he treats with medical marijuana.

After clubs were closed down in nearby Monrovia and Monterey Park, advocates and patients were closely watching how authorities would handle California Compassionate Caregivers, located at 3682 E. Colorado Blvd., just outside Pasadena city limits in unincorporated East Pasadena.

In order to comply with county regulations, the owners of the dispensary were supposed to file for a business license and a conditional use permit, which is a month-long process that requires notice, a staff report, an environmental review and a public hearing, said Weiss.

Weiss also said he doesn’t think there’s anything the operators of the dispensary can do to stay open and that they may ultimately face criminal prosecution.

“It’s our position that they are subject to this requirement and they have no legal authority to operate right now,” he told the Weekly. “I don’t believe the county’s inclined to allow them to operate. If they want to apply for a CUP, they have a right to do that, but I don’t think they can bootstrap their operation by shooting first and asking questions later.”

On Wednesday, the dispensary appeared to be closed. Although it’s not within city limits, the Pasadena police have jurisdiction if it affects the quality of life of people within city limits, according to department spokeswoman Janet Pope-Givens.

“We tend to work together with surrounding agencies on a myriad of issues all the time if it’s an interest to all of us and concerns the quality of life in our communities. Chief Melekian is on record as being adamantly opposed to medical marijuana dispensaries. He has contacted the LA County Board of Supervisors who are looking into the legitimacy of this operation,” she said.

“We only found out about this late last week and we’re evaluating it,” said Weiss. “One thing’s for sure; we will be vigorously pursuing them. Somebody who violates our zoning code like this is subject to both criminal prosecution and civil court proceedings.”

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