My Secret Love Affair with the City of Angels ~ Downtown

Japanese Garden in Little Tokyo

As a child, going to Downtown Los Angeles meant going to eat Chinese food. As I got older, it meant going bead shopping. As a working 20-something, it meant going to Caltrans and METRO for meetings and workshops. Now, married with kids and living on the northwest edge of the “Orange Curtain” with better freeway access than the 5, I’ve found myself secretly in love with a city I never truly appreciated until now.

My love for beads, and the coincidence that my dad was going there for work frequently enough, meant there was ample opportunity for perusing around Bead District (8th Street and Maple Avenue). Mom and I would drop him off then quickly scurry away for some quick shopping. Once my oldest sister started working in the Downtown area as well, it was exciting for her to come home with a bundle of new treasures after work. We mostly trekked out there for reasonably priced Swarovski crystal, but it also started my love of stones in the form of chip beads.  If you’re ever in the area, check out Bohemian Crystal, not only for their beads, but for their extensive selection of Eastern European glassware that takes you back into a bygone era.  Jesse’s taste is much less gilded than mine or else I would have more pieces from there.

My family’s favorite Chinese restaurant has recently closed after 30 years, which means excursions to Downtown require finding a new watering hole for lunch. Jesse and I went to the old Clifton’s cafeteria during one of our first explorations of the inner city. He wants to visit the construction site of what is supposed to be the tallest skyscraper in the Western US once they start . Once Hui.1 is a better walker (he waddles well enough but still prefers crawling), it’ll be a good time to go to the zoo and maybe the Tar Pits. My friends have formed a “Trip of the Month” party again and one of the trips on the list is Griffith Observatory. And maybe this year we’ll finally get a chance to go to JPL’s annual Open House if it doesn’t coincide with Hui.2’s arrival.

Another hidden Los Angeles gem is XCVI. Anyone who reads my blog knows how much I love their clothing and I am one of their featured artists in their Fashion Island Pop Up Shop. Well, did you know they manufacture their clothes in the heart of Downtown LA? How ironic considering I was buying most of their clothes in Hawaii and later on whatever I could find on the Internet. Knowing that I am supporting a local business I truly love (their clothes in larger sizes make great maternity wear) just makes my heart sing.  Hopefully I can make it to their summer warehouse sale, but I doubt it because it’s so close to my due date.  The winter warehouse sale was beyond amazing.  It makes me think I never have to shop in between sales ever again.  As I’ve said before, their clothes fit the aesthetic of my more recent jewelry designs, especially the new collection that’s scheduled to debut by March.

I think we’re past due for another trip Downtown…

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