Stories From California

Sometimes I want to write more than just journalistically about my experiences as a reporter. That is why I started to write down my thoughts, observations and emotions beyond scripts for radio, print and TV. This experiment is a lot of fun and scary at the same time. But, as they say, you have to get out of your comfort zone.

Orange Tree, Backyard - del Rey, CA

"One mustn't ask apple trees for oranges, France for sun, women for love, life for happiness."
Gustave Flaubert

I am not entirely sure what Gustave Flaubert wanted to say here. I would never ask an orange tree for apples, but have seen plenty of sun in France, know many loving women and have a happy life. Maybe the point is, not to ask for any of this? 

My Dad planted an apple tree in our front yard. My sister later put an apple tree for him in her family's garden. Apples for me are part of life in Germany. I like them crunchy and a bit sour.

The orange tree in our back yard stands for my life in California. Sweet and juicy! Never ever did I imagine ...

Ceola "Dice" Waddle - Downtown Los Angeles, CA

A Skid Row Hustle - From a Pack of Cigaretts To Bed and Breakfast on the Streets

While volunters are counting the homeless in Los Angeles County and will again arrive at a number unfathomably high, I was thinking of one of the men who talked with me about their life on Skid Row: Ceola "Dice" Waddle.

He stood out. Between camps made from tents, tarp, card board and rags he wore an ironed suit, a white apron, leather shoes and a cream colored fedora. He also had sizzling pots and pans on an improvised stove in front of him. Ceola was easy to approach, which cannot be said of most of the people I passed. He had a friendly smile, and something in his eyes told me he was ready to tell me his story. Or at least A story ...

Dentist Assistant - Santa Monica, CA

Today at the dentist, while he was digging into my jaw with his precision instruments making all kinds of disconcerting sounds (not he, the instruments), his assistant apparently was going on a dream vacation to Bavaria.

At least that's what she said while guiding me towards a 3-D-X-ray machine. Three dimensional pictures had to be taken of my lower skull because one of the three root canals in the molar with infection kept bending the precision instruments and the dentist could not figure out why.

Anyway, walking towards the X-Ray room, the assitant asked me. "Where do you come from?" My accent had once again given me away as an immigrant ...

Ramón, San Diego, CA

"It is like having chocolate right in front of you and not being allowed to eat it."

Ramon and wife

Ramón came to the United States from Michoácan, Mexico 20 years ago. He left his family behind to work, to give his wife and kids back home a roof over their heads, a good education, shoes and clothes to wear. The first three years it was easy for him to cross the border back and forth to visit. Stricter controls made it too dangerous and too expensive. He stopped the crossings and did not see his family for 17 years.

Until he came to friendship park at the US-Mexican border. I saw him there standing at the fence, looking through the tight mesh, speaking softly with his wife, then his daughters who brought husbands he never met and children he never saw. "The tears speak for themselves," daughter Priscilla said.