“I just retired recently, and I just moved here to Pasadena a few months ago. I’m 68. My daughter lives here in San Marino, and I’m living in her condo that she had rented for 3 or 4 years. But the couple had to move to New York, so it became available. It all worked out very well. Yeah, I think it was meant to be. It was just closer, ’cause I was travelling out from the Valley just to come see her. But I had the job, and I didn’t want to leave that.
I worked as a general contracting office receptionist. Clerical receptionist – nothing really major. I was there for a long time: 13 years. I’d had enough. It was time to go. I’m going to go back to work, but I’m going to take a break right now. I’ll probably just do the same sort of thing. Just get a simple job. I don’t need much to supplement my social security.
Well, I don’t have great computer skills, okay? I never learned it in school. So I had to learn things as I went along. Each job, they would teach me what I needed to know. But, then you don’t get to use what you learned at the last job at the new job. So, you forget stuff. I’m not that proficient on a computer, so I couldn’t really advance out of that. And I – I guess I didn’t really want to.
I worked in a dental office. I think I want to go back and try to get something in that, rather than a business office. Because you do connect more with people. I just liked it more. It was more personal than a business office. I just would prefer to work in that atmosphere – not a doctor’s office. Kind of spooked by all kinds of crap that goes – germs and whatnot.
I’m from New York, originally. Actually, Long Island. I moved because I wanted to. My parents had come out here, and I visited them – but that was up north. San Mateo, I think it was. Long time ago, my God. So I just fell in love with California. I wanted to come back. I was a hairdresser at the time. I decided I wanted to move here, so I saved up. However, I couldn’t work as a hairdresser here. You need a license in every state. And I had’t been a hairdresser long enough, so I needed to go back to school and take a test after a certain amount of hours, which is much more here than it is on the East Coast. So, never thought about that before I took off. ‘I’ll be fine – No!’ It don’t work that way.
I came here to LA because I knew someone from New York that lived here. So I stayed with her ’til I kind of got my bearings and decided what I wanted to do. I wanted to go back to school. But I had, in the meantime, gone up north to see some friends there and decided that’s where I really wanted to live. I didn’t like LA. We were in West Hollywood. New Yorkers are very direct. Here, I mean, everybody was a producer or – they were so full of shit. That was what I found.
I still had to waitress while I was still in school. That’s what I did, but I never finished. I was a teacher’s assistant for a while and realized, ‘This is not what I want to do.’ I don’t have the patience. Some of these kids can be … and I could get away with that with my brothers, but I couldn’t get away with it with other people’s children. You know, I just thought that wasn’t for me.
I never trained in anything specific. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do other than be a hairdresser. But I wanted to try something else. I wanted to expand. That’s why I went back to school, and I realized, no, I’m not cut out for this either. I just kind of floated, pretty much. But I did okay. Had my daughter. I enjoy doing different things.
I want to travel. Done a lot of moving, but not a lot of travelling. Spain, where my grandmother’s from. My dad’s mom was from Puerto Rico, and my dad’s dad was from Spain. Never been there. I feel bad that I never got to go with my mom. She passed a couple years ago. I was raised Catholic, but we weren’t all that – I mean, I went to a Catholic boarding school. I wasn’t crazy about the experience, I’ll tell you. I would not recommend it. Nuns can be very mean. I was always in trouble. The nuns were French. We couldn’t speak Spanish, so I lost whatever little bit that I had. And when I was home, most of the times with my grandmother – because my mother was dating my stepfather at the time – and she wanted to learn English!
I had a couple of kind of scary experiences but not horrible. My dad was supposed to pick me up from Grand Central, and he didn’t show up. This policeman saw that I had been alone all the time, and I was falling asleep on the bench. It was already late and dark. They took me to what turned out to be an orphanage for overnight until someone from the school could come and get me the next day. So, it was dark and quiet, and I go to bed. And I wake up the next day, and happened the whole school was black kids. I mean, I’ve seen them, but I’d never interacted with them at all. I had the best time. And finally, they did send someone – one of the caretakers from the school – to come and get me.”
Excerpt may be edited for clarity.