Posted by: Christine L. | February 24, 2010


I went to Kaiser yesterday to get my bad self diagnosed and after a long bout of waiting room sitting, punctuated by brief bouts of actual doctorin’, was officially diagnosed with Acute Bronchitis.

And since I’ve had it before, it’s also technically Chronic Bronchitis.

What really annoys me about having this as my chronic illness (and everyone has one, physical or mental, wouldn’t you agree?), is that the most common cause for it is smoking.

Well, guess what?  I NEVER smoked.  Never, not a day in my life.

I did, however, spend almost a quarter of a century walking through, in, and around downtown Los Angeles – inhaling all those lovely bus and train fumes.  (Not to mention OTHER people’s smoke.)   See, until last December, I worked up on Bunker Hill.

And silly me, I always thought it would be healthier to get off the bus or the train as soon as possible and  walk the rest of the way to work.

You know – because I’m fat.  And walking is supposed to be really good for you.  Right?  It’s supposed to make you healthy.

Well, guess what?  After 25 years of lots of long walks in downtown L.A., I’m still fat – and now I have Chronic Bronchitis.

And yet – the funny thing is – knowing that – if I had it all to do over again, I would STILL have done the walking.

Because it did clear my head (mentally, if not physically!) in so many ways.

It got me connected with the past.  You can learn quite a bit about the history of the city in which you live, just by putting your boots on the ground there.

It connected me with the vibrant, exciting present.  For example, remember the (in)famous O.J. Simpson trial?  Like most people, I did watch a lot of it on TV, read about it in the papers, etc.

But I learned even more about it from walking past the courthouse every morning on my way from Union Station to Bunker Hill.

I especially remember – and dammit! if I’d only had a camera with me – the parking lot behind the courthouse, which had been taken over by the media. They camped out there, for months.  They called it “O.J. City”.

And I remember walking by one morning, peering over the back fence, and seeing a stepladder on the other side, to which someone had affixed a hand-lettered sign reading “OJ Getaway”.  It always made me laugh.

And you know what?  I never saw a picture of that on the news or read about it in the paper.  I only SAW it, and only because I happened to be walking past that particular corner of the parking lot at that particular time.

And a few days later, the ladder and the sign were gone.  They exist now only in my memory, and in the memory of whatever wit put it there.  I’ll probably never find out who it was, and it wasn’t really that big a deal.

But I smile when I remember it.  And I’m glad I saw it.

Not sure if it’s worth a lifetime of bronchitis, but combined with all the other wonderful things I’ve seen over the past quarter of a century, well … I’d have to say it’s close to being a fair deal.


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