Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I'll call it a wash

Today was a bust.  I started out late for seminary training because there was an accident on the freeway which caused horrendous traffic.  If you're late at 8 am when there's supposed to be traffic that's one thing but when you're late for something that you had to wake up at 4:45 for, that's an entirely different headache.  The whole way in I kept thinking how much I wish I had been late because I over slept because then at least I would have gotten some extra sleep out of it.

And then the whole day was just off. Nothing particularly bad, I just couldn't get a grip on it. I was lacking my usual energy, enthusiasm, and focus. I tried working out this afternoon and got about 5 sit ups in before bagging it.  I tried reading A Wrinkle In Time because book club is tomorrow and I need to finish it but I didn't go further than a couple of pages. I did manage to put a load of laundry in. And I called Flo to rat out our upstairs neighbors for cutting a hole in their screen, out of which they dump the occasional candy wrapper, cups full of soda, and, I'm almost certain, drug residue. But possibly getting a family evicted because of their idiot son didn't make me feel any better.

And then, just when I was about to throw the towel in and put on some stretchy pants and eat a bowl of cereal for dinner, my friend Kelsie knocked at the door.  She had mint brownies.  Like an angel from heaven.  And then she stayed and talked for a few hours.  And a little while later her husband showed up to visit and installed our Roku box (that's right, we dumped cable.  Because they refused to lower the price. That is until today when Katie called to cancel and then they said, "Oh, but wait, it looks like you're eligible for a discount."  Eat my shorts, Direct TV!) and then he forgave me for beating his team in the Amazing Race (his was the one that came in before us.)  And then he left and more friends showed up to take Katie's old bed off her hands.  And they stayed and visited and everything was feeling right with the world again.  Friends do that. The day was looking up.

And then I went to go get my laundry from the laundry room and found the door locked because it was after 10.  Sigh.

The bulk of this day can also eat my shorts.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Amazing Race!

Oh boy, that was fun!

The Amazing Race with the kids in my ward was exhausting and hilarious. Three very solid days of driving and running and laughing and looking for parking, any parking, we'll pay whatever, just point us in the right direction, please! This is a race, people!

We hit up, in order:  the metrolink, Union Station, Olvera Street, Hollywood, UCLA (the absolute worst of the parking hunt), Santa Monica Pier/beach, the LA Temple (to stay the night in the apartments and then do baptisms the next morning), the Getty Villa, Pepperdine University (that was just my team, we incurred a penalty), Santa Barbara, Nojoqui Falls, Los Osos, Morro Bay (for camping), Hearst Castle, the elephant seal lookout where we saw exactly 3 of them, Morro Rock, Neverland Ranch (yep, Michael Jackson's home.  Well, the gates.), Solvang, and finally, a beach-side park in Ventura and In-n-Out for dinner.  We logged nearly 700 miles.  It was kind of epic.

Some highlights:

1.  While at the beach on the first night one of the men mentioned book club and how he wanted to come but wasn't invited (no boys allowed!) and I said it wouldn't be that interesting because the conversation inevitably comes back around to breast feeding, child birth, our periods, and bras.  Later that night all the girls crammed into one of the temple apartments where we ended up talking for hours about our periods and bras.  We also braided each other's hair.

2.  We all kind of congregated around the picnic table at our camping spot the second night and laughed like loons.  It had been two long days of driving and racing, most of it apart from each other.  So when we all got together it was a great time.  They are the funnest kids.  And the adults that came along were also very good for a laugh.  I also may have been a little slap happy by that point.

3.   I've said it before and I'll say it again, California is the best.  I love, love, love it. It's just so beautiful here.  Our penalty detour to Pepperdine forced us to take Pacific Coast Highway all the way around Malibu to pick up the 101 in Oxnard.  Best penalty ever! Ocean views and rolling hills for miles and miles.

4.  Some of the kids were less than impressed with the Getty Villa.  It's understandable.  It's mostly old statues and ancient relics. But one kid showed his boredom by recording statues and then blowing them up with that app, you know the one, that blows things up?  I could not stop laughing over it.

5.  I listened to a lot of loud rap.  Bleh.

6.  Most of the kids had never been inside the LA temple (we belong to the Redlands temple district).  So that was a sweet experience. 

7.  Remember that one time I went to Hearst Castle during the Whim Weekend many years ago?  I mentioned that they don't let you loiter.  But guess what they let you do now?  Loiter!  Not on the actual tour but afterwards they invite you to stroll around the gardens and pools and soak up all the luxury.  If only that had been the case when I wasn't gunning for a prize.

8.  There was no prize.  But the victory felt sweet because we won!  Okay, if was by default.  The team that beat us by 5 minutes cheated.  But a victory is a victory and we celebrated by leaping up and down and high fiving each other.

9.  Since the race was done in Ventura we could all caravan home.  We would pass each other and honk and wave and press notes up to the windows (you would not believe the finger prints and mouth prints and nose prints (I barely stopped them before there were butt prints) that will have to be scraped off the windows.) It felt like a 2 hour party across several California freeways.  I bet this is exactly how the pioneers felt when they crossed the plains together.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Phone, races, crepes, running

1.  I caved today and got a smart phone.  I already feel maybe too connected.  When I went into the store to check it out the guy was first astounded that I didn't have one and then really, really astounded at how little I use my phone.  "Well you only have 600 minutes on your...oh, I see that you only used 34 minutes last month."  That's right!  But I see the benefit of having that kind of technology and was planning on buying one this summer anyway.  And there was no better time than now because...

2.  The youth in my ward are doing a mini Amazing Race this weekend and I'm on the team.  I'll be a driver and we'll be going all over Southern California and I'm kind of super excited about it. I only know certain places we'll be stopping but for the most part I'll be participating in figuring out the clues and getting us all there.  I bought really good snacks for my car. And, of course, I have my secret weapon, Ruby St. Germaine, fallen lounge singer, scorned woman, cup holder inhabitant. You know I'm going to make every kid who gets in my car take a picture with her.  And she will be accompanying us at every road block. This could be just what she needs to get her out of this funk.

3.  Katie, Heather, and I went out last night for dinner because Heather is moving to Utah (I'm not kidding Utah, I'm going to toilet paper your front yard if you don't stop taking every person I love away.)  We started out at Honolulu Harry's and when we were done there and kind of wanting dessert we went to Le Creperie. It is not a bad evening when you start out with sweet potato stacks and end with a crème brulee crepe.

4.  On the flip side of gluttony, for the first time maybe ever I ran for 5 solid minutes.  Okay, typing that looks kind of lame but you have to remember who we're dealing with.  Against my better judgment, and truly, against the laws of physics, I have convinced myself to run. But it's HARD.  I still feel really awkward and I can't get enough air into my lungs and my legs are comically short so I run at a speed that most people would describe as a leisurely stroll but from my point of view I'm really hustling, in a lumbering sort of way. And, I know that you're all super fit and can run 30 miles without passing out but that has never been me.  Ever.  But tonight it was me for 5 whole minutes.  And I wasn't even gasping when I was done.  It feels like a victory.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Can someone teach me how to juggle?

My parents took me to the circus last night.  How adorable is that?  And also...


I'm serious.  How can we make this happen? I'm not that great with animals and I'm not big into doing high wire stunts and I'm afraid that clown makeup would make me break out.  But maybe I could help out back stage?  Sewing on sequins or securing trapeze rigging?  I'm kind of handy. Oh, who am I kidding.  I totally want to be in the circus.  I'll start practicing my juggling routine right away.

Wouldn't it just be fascinating to live that kind of life? There was a documentary on PBS about circus life and it was amazing - all about these people from all over the world who mostly have grown up in circus families and have developed acts of their own.  They get hired on for a season and they travel around from town to town and their kids come along with them and get to play with lions.  And did you know that they still travel by train?  Well, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus does.  You get to be with the circus and travel the US in a train!!  Ugh. This needs to be my life!

And how come I had no idea that the circus was so much fun?  I mean, I wasn't surprised because I think everything is fun.  I am easily entertained and amazed.  But I know loads of people who've been and do you know what I've heard a lot of?  "Oh, the circus is alright." I'm not hanging out with those people anymore.  This is a line in the sand. Because the circus is amazing.

There are guys playing basket ball on unicycles:

And tigers forming a kick line

And tightrope walkers

And a woman was shot out of a cannon

Dancing poodles!

Elephant conga line!

There was also a cool trampoline act, some acrobats, lots of clowns, a few aerialists, and a mediocre trapeze team that did one impressive trick.  It would have been a perfect night if I had been able to find some freshly spun cotton candy but they were only selling it in bags.  I have my standards.

To sum up:  the circus is my new favorite thing.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mock Turtleneck Guy

Mock Turtleneck Guy was back at the sing-along on Friday night - this time in a purple one.  I can't even handle how awesome this is.  I mean, if you're going to chose a uniform, something that you can wear every day to any event because it is casual but with just a hint of sophistication (for 1991), and something that looks great with pleated slacks, you cannot go wrong with a short-sleeved mock turtleneck.  We chatted with him and his wife after the show and I almost asked them their names but decided against it.  It would ruin the magic if I knew too many personal details.  Although they are big into making out during the slower songs, which is plenty personal if you ask me. The west side of the amphitheater starts to resemble the SNL hot tub luv-ahs skit, minus the facial hair.

Besides, I'm developing a very elaborate story for them in my mind.  So far I have that they live in Glendale with their two kids (we've seen the kids, they are adorable in that awkward pre-teen phase of life.), she teaches art at the senior center, he teaches choir at a private middle school. They met in Berlin where they were both doing study abroad.  He's working on a cantata that he hopes to premier at the 1st Presbyterian Church at Christmas time but the church is going through a rather heated ministerial change that may foil the whole thing, that is, if he actually finishes it.  She's working on her PhD in 16th century German folk art but her fervor for the subject is waning and now she just wants to get it done so she can focus on her real passion, the recorder.  She's in a recorder ensemble at the church, which is also threatening to disband because the soon-to-be ousted minister's wife leads it.  They host regular block parties but get annoyed when Francis from down the street brings bread pudding when she knows full well they are all gluten intolerant.  Their children are involved in Tai Kwon Do, community theater, and foklorico dance. They went to Washington D.C. on vacation.  He only got sunburned on his forearms and the top half of his neck.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Toilet rats

1.  Seminary training started this morning.  At 6am.  I have given up on the idea that I will ever be a morning person.  It's just not going to happen.  I'm never going to leap out of bed.  Or be enthusiastic about it when I eventually get up.  I missed my exit on the drive out to the training.  And then I missed it again after I turned around because my brain hadn't caught up with me yet. But, I have a magic on/off switch that as soon as I need to start interacting with people I can do it.  This was helpful this morning, especially when I had to play the piano first thing. 

2.  I have been swimming so much these last few weeks that I actually have tan lines.  Well, more like lines from a layering of minor sun burns.  And the color variation is like albino white to egg shell white.  But it's definitely there. This is a first for me.

3.  I read the Most Horrifying Article Ever Written In the Entire History of Horrifying Articles.  I will not link to it. But I will tell you that it was about how rats can climb up your drain pipe and come out of your toilet.  Even if you're on a top floor apartment!!! The helpful suggestion they gave was that if you see one coming up you should shut the toilet lid and put something heavy on top because there are probably more coming.  And then you should pour dish soap on them because it will prevent them from floating and then you should flush the toilet.  I have a few things to say about this.  1.  If I see a rat coming at me from the toilet I will die. I mean dead as a dead thing.  2.  If I manage to survive the initial shock I will certainly shut the lid but I will not have time to put something heavy on top because I will be too busy running for my life.  3.  If I manage to make it through the initial shock and close the lid and put something on top there is no possible way that I would ever, ever open the lid to put dish soap in there. That's just insane. Like I want to open the lid to a bunch of angry wet rats who specifically crawled up my drain pipe to kill me.  Please excuse me while I go hyperventilate in a corner.

Pleasant dreams!!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Call in the detective!

Summer has offered me a bounty of free time and I've been using some of it to catch up on the enormous DVR list.  Lately it's been Masterpiece Mystery.  Specifically Inspector Lewis.  He's a cranky detective in Oxford and his partner is a former priest and they solve crimes usually involving murdered academics. I crochet doilies when I watch them.  I'm 80!

So I've been watching a lot of them which may account for how I ended up searching for footprints this morning.  I got to work and went about unlocking things and noticed that 1.)  the game room door was closed but it was open last night when I left, 2.) the front gate has been pushed against the lock, and 3.) the metal curtain on the outdoor fireplace was rumpled. Suspicious!

A few theories:  1.)  A homeless person jumped the gate and slept in the fireplace (it's large enough.)  But, there were no footprints on the very dusty hearth. Likelihood:  low.  2.)  Hoodlums were trying to break in.  Likelihood:  high.  Hoodlums abound in these parts.  3.)  Ninjas. Likelihood:  Nil.  It would explain the lack of footprints but they're not so shoddy as to leave the gate, the curtain, and the door in such a state. 4.) Wizards.  Maybe we're in some kind of Order of the Phoenix, 12 Grimmauld Place (I had to look that address up.  I'm not that obsessed.) situation.  Likelihood:  See Ninjas.  5.) Someone did pull on the gate, possibly a distraught student over the place being closed (it's summer!  Get a life!), the curtain was always like that and I'm just not that observant, and that giant cockroach I saw the other day was playing some air hockey with his buddies and shut the door when they were done.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tales from the produce aisle

There was a traffic jam in the produce department at Sprouts this afternoon because a man was busy taking a picture of his wife holding two cantaloupes up to her chest.  She seemed mildly humiliated and he kept insisting that she look happy about it.  And then after the fourth attempt to get just the right angle he turned around and noticed all of us watching him and he looked a little sheepish.  Like he had completely forgotten that he was standing in a public grocery store.

In other news, I've discovered that they sell chocolate covered cinnamon bears at Sprouts.  I practically started my own traffic jam from the solo dance party I was having.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Warrior Owls

My friend Becky and her family are moving  this weekend (Boo!!!!!  Seriously, friends, stop leaving! It has been a mass exodus from the Upland 1st Ward.) so I took her boys this afternoon so she could have some solid packing time.

Which is how I found myself watching Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hool, a movie about warrior owls who have to learn how to trust their gizzards.  Trevor says the books are as good as Harry Potter.  I'm...skeptical. I don't know, I'm having a hard time with fighting owls.  You know how I feel about birds in general. 

But we also watched Coraline and ate pizza and swam for hours and hours. They asked if they could come over every day.  I would be up for that.  Swimming, pizza, and movies feels like every summer birthday party I've ever been to.

Monday, July 8, 2013

We Got the Right Stuff

You know when you're super excited about something and then something makes it even more awesome?  Like, for example, you're going to a New Kids on the Block/Boyz II Men/98 Degrees concert with some of your favorite friends and then Stub Hub upgrades your cheapo nose-bleed seats to a luxury box?  And then you die?  That's how great Friday was.

A rundown of the evening:

1.) There was an anime convention going on next door.  Oh man, anime people are THE BEST!  Everyone was dressed up with cat ears and neon pink wigs and school girl uniforms and there were wizards and, um, okay, it was mostly creatures I would never be able to recognize because I don't understand the obsession with anime AT ALL.  But these kids were so fun to look at. And who am I to judge.  I was seeing a boy band who peaked 25 years ago. We're all a little crazy.

2.) We had dinner at El Cholo.  And I ate my weight in chips and salsa.  And then enchiladas.  My grandma worked at El Cholo (not the LA one, a different one, but same family.) for like a million years.  She was a widow with 6 kids and they took good care of her (like sending her to Jerusalem for one of her milestone anniversaries with them. I'm not even kidding.) so I have a special place in my heart for them.  It helps that their food is awesome.

3.) Let's talk about this luxury suite.  I don't know that I can ever go back to cheap seats again.  I've spent my life in the cheap seats and have been quite content.  But now that I have tasted this kind of life, how can I be happy with anything else?  And Stub Hub was RAD about everything.  We had a hostess the whole time who was great. There was tons of food and drinks.  The seats was really comfy and you're not squished up against your sweaty neighbor. There were couches to lounge around on during 98 Degrees because who cares about them.  We got gift bags.  They provided binoculars. Near the end cake was past around.  During intermission we had an impromptu dance party simply because there was so much room. It was a blast.  Luxury suites for EVERYONE!

4.)  Boyz II Men were great.  Especially when they sang Motown Phillie.  Now that was a party.  I know exactly two 98 degree songs.  And New Kids on the Block...well what can be said.  13 Year Old Rachel was dying inside.  Because oh my gosh it's Donnie Wahlberg!!!  But Old Lady Rachel was also dying because oh my gosh is Donnie Wahlberg frenching that grandma? And can he please stop taking off his shirt?  Is he even wearing underwear because his pants are really low and I'm seeing a whole lot of area that should be covered.  Seriously, Donnie (and Jordan to an extent) you were kind of grossing me out. I mean, I get it.  It's the crowd you're singing to.  Middle-aged women who have to go home to their husbands and kids.  Give them a show.  But, ew.   There's no denying, however, that singing and dancing along to Hangin' Tough was hilarious fun.

To sum up:  GOOD TIMES!

The gang in our Stub Hub sun glasses.

Our view.  If you look at the top of the picture and go up a few inches, that's where our original seats were. Thanks Stub Hub (and Holly's husband Steven who purchased our seats through them.  We're all uniting our prayers so that this happens again to you but for a Dodger Game and not your wife's boy band concert.)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The United Steaks of Themerica

Tonight at the Numbered Streets Fireworks Extravaganza:  A Very Ghetto 4th! we paused the show so 5 year old Reed could say the Pledge of Allegiance.  Hands down the most adorable and patriotic thing I've seen in ages.  It started out with "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United Steaks of Themerica." and ended with a  song.

Also, if true patriotism is measured in the number of really expensive illegal fireworks that are shot off then the numbered streets of Chino wins!  We are so America!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Toss your cares and curls away

Camille posted this picture on her blog from our trip to New York:

And when I saw it I thought, "Hey, I have that shirt," and then, "Holy Cats! That's me," followed by, "When did my hair get that long?!" and then, "I have to cut it immediately!" Because that hair does not belong on me.  It's lovely, but it is not my hair.
So it's gone.  I chopped it today.  It just barely brushes the tops of my shoulders. Is there anything more liberating than cutting a bunch of your hair off? It feels so great. Hair cuts for everyone!
Let's hear what Millie has to say about it. (Note, I did not go that short.  I wish, but it is a losing battle against fine hair and cowlicks. I've tried.)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Squatting Servers

What are your thoughts on servers who squat next to your table as they're taking your order?  I am decidedly against it. It's just a little too casual.  And also icky.  Maybe if I was ordering fish tacos at some dive at the beach that would be more acceptable.  But if there isn't the possibility of having sand in your food then I'd prefer my servers stand upright. 

I once had a server sit in the booth beside me.  I didn't leave him a tip.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Summer You

Don't you love the summer version of yourself?  You're more relaxed, right?  You have all this time because there's so much daylight.  You can watch all the TV you want, but you don't necessarily want to because summer is for reading.  You don't feel like rushing.  The urge to throw things at people on the freeway has disappeared. Even in the heat you still feel like a better person.  I'm mean, sure, it's oppressive, and those puddles of sweat that formed on your arm as you were working out were alarming, but then you get to drive home from the gym with the windows down and there was stuff for root beer floats waiting for you. There are never root beer floats in January. Summer You is so awesome.