Hi, I’m Kat

Oct 8, 2012

I’m sitting at my computer as the clock strikes 1 a.m. My street is quiet—TVs are turned off, interior lights have been extinguished, and my daughter (her headphones having fallen finally out of her ears) is “passed out,” as she would put it.

Our one remaining cat is meowing relentlessly, trying to annoy me enough so that I’ll go to bed—so she can go to sleep herself. I tune her out and regard my list, counting the check marks next to the “to-be-published” posts. My day’s quota has been achieved. I ignore the other five pages of lists that have nothing to do with writing (which is fun!), but entail the necessities of business (not so fun). I ignore the cat’s cries and walk outside into the middle of my street and look up past the overhanging tree branches and smile at the moon.

I’ve been smiling for over a year.

I’ve been smiling ever since Colleen Dunn Bates (out of desperation, I’m sure she’d admit) asked me if I would like to write for her local website Hometown Pasadena, which is based on her brilliant guidebook of the same name. It would be on a trial basis, she emphasized, no shekels involved. Up until this point, I was hanging in there with my headshot photography business, had almost finished editing a friend’s self-help workbook, and was trying to complete my novel before it became a decade in the making (I was under the gun).

I emailed Colleen. Two words. “Hell, yeah!”

Luckily, my writing passed the test and within a matter of weeks Colleen offered me a part-time position and I smiled, savoring the fact that I’d secured my first paid writing gig. I don’t believe my feet touched the ground for a week, which was brilliant because I’ve always regarded being 5’5” as a tad too short for me.

Moving to South Pasadena in February, 2011 was a game changer. I had formerly been a resident of Hollywood (20 years total in Los Angeles, though originally I’m from Connecticut). My daughter and I had been living one block from a police station and a fire house, a few blocks south of Sunset Boulevard and Amoeba Music, and I felt as though I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in a decade. I mean this literally. Between being mother to my wee little girl (“I can’t go to sleep”, “Read me another story”, nightmares, 2 a.m. ear infections and trips to Kaiser’s ER, 4 a.m. vomiting sessions, endless days of chicken pox, etc.); as well as the neighbor with whom I shared a wall—my bedroom, his kitchen—who washed his dishes, made his blended smoothies, and popped his popcorn at 11 p.m.; the nightly dumpster divers; and the raucous party-goers, a solid night’s sleep was no longer an experience with which I had familiarity.

In South Pas, the nights were deliciously pitch black and blissfully silent; even the wild parrots jolting me awake on recurrent mornings couldn’t disturb my euphoria. Additionally, my then 12-year-old daughter could roam her new neighborhood by herself or with her friends, something I would not allow in the heart of Hollywood, no matter how much I loved the area. Lastly, since were had been commuters—Hollywood to the Sequoyah School, five days a week—the time I spent in my car plummeted from 2 hours a day to 40 minutes. I still smile thinking about it.

Then my new, wonderful world screeched to a halt. Colleen announced that she had to let Hometown Pasadena go so that she could fully focus on ramping up the number of books her company Prospect Park published. A few tense months (for me) ensued before I could present myself as a possible buyer. My proposal was accepted. I will be grateful to Colleen forever for giving me my start, for bringing me onto her team, and for now having the faith in me to continue what she has so conscientiously and beautifully built in Hometown Pasadena.

Writing for HP has given me the perfect opportunity to get to know my new surroundings. The sheer number of cultural events, activities, independent shops, and restaurants still amazes me. I’m eating it up and never feel full.

Which brings me to you, the HP reader. What is it that brings you to Hometown Pasadena? What motivates you to read it? What brings you back? How do you use the site (as a reference or a resource) in comparison to other sources available? What don’t you see on HP that you would like to see? Are there art, musical, charitable, or other events that you’d like us to cover? Do you have a favorite or new restaurant that you think deserves a review? Is there maybe a new shop that’s opened or a place that’s been around for decades that you believe should get a second look?

I would love your feedback. Feel free to leave a comment or email me at kat(at)

As a crew of one (and also being a single mom), I can’t always go to the events about which HP posts, though I did manage to get to El Portal’s annual tequila tasting night (natch!) and to photograph chef Claud Beltran’s Gumbo Fest. In addition to providing information about upcoming events, I would like to show readers what they were actually like, in case someone’s inspired to attend the next time. So, I want to reach out to you and say, if you go to an event and take some good, fun pictures, capturing the ambience, the flavor of the crowd, the food, the music, or whatever the details may be—as well as a picture of yourself and/or with friends—please feel free to email the images to me with the details. I can only offer a photo credit as payment, but if that is good enough, I’ll pick the best ones and post them.

I would like Hometown Pasadena to be a place that honestly reflects your hometown. I want it to be a place in which you feel a part. I want you to feel that not only are these posts, articles and stories for you, but that these pages are your pages, the residents of Pasadena, Altadena, South Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge, Montrose, Eagle Rock, Highland Park, San Marino, Alhambra, Arcadia, Sierra Madre, and Glendale.

The cultural, ethnic, artistic, literary, architectural, academic, and technological wealth in these cities provides me with a constant adrenalin rush. Whether it’s the Doo Dah Parade, Pasadena Arts Weekend, Bungalow Heaven, a lecture at Cal Poly, a concert in Farnsworth Park, or a landing on Mars, this area is inspiring. I look forward to uncovering more unique, creative, silly, informative, delicious, and worthy experiences—and sharing them with you, the readers of Hometown Pasadena.





7 Responses for “Hi, I’m Kat”

  1. Oh, the places you’ll go!

  2. Kat Ward says:

    Thanks, Petrea. I’m really excited about so many things, including upcoming new contributors!

  3. Colleen says:

    It couldn’t have happened to a better, more committed person. Thank you, Kat!

  4. Kat Ward says:

    Thanks to you, Colleen, my favorite former boss!

  5. Susie Beifuss says:

    Hi Kat,


    Hometown-Pasadena has been one of my favorite links to my childhood since I discovered it and bought the book!!

    Having just read this article, it finally occurred to me to place H-P on my Favorites Bar!!!!

    I’ve been severely nostalgic for everything Pasadena/SierraMadre/ChapmanWoods for about five years now (was a resident ages 5 to 18, 1952-1965) and think I may have to live in the area again one day…hopefully, soon!

    Best of the best to you and your new ADVENTURE/VENTURE!!

    Susie Beifuss (currently of Capistrano Beach, CA)

  6. Kat Ward says:

    Hi, Susie: What a great story. It’s been nice hearing how people use HP as a link to their former hometown; we feel so honored! So, you haven’t lived in the area for some time; do you get up here at all? Haven’t been down to Capistrano Beach in over a decade, if the memory is working correctly. Say “Hello” to lovely Capistrano Beach and many thanks for the warm wishes.

  7. Susie Beifuss says:

    Hi Kat,

    Thanks for writing back! I moved to OC after PHS graduation 1965m and have lived in WA, Northern CA, Big Bear and around the beaches, but am forever seeking mature shade trees and fabulous landscapes and architecture, and lots of other “pasadena” memories…. I’ve reconnected with a lot of childhood Pasadena friends on FB, and lots of them are also homesick in lots of ways….

    I get up there occaisionally, not enough really…. maybe this year.

    Congratulations…..I’ll be seeing you on!




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