August 26, 2009

(ten) days of claudia

i do believe a trip recap is in order!

Claudia arrived in L.A. at 1:30ish in the afternoon (Friday, the 14th, if you're keeping track), after a day under Delta airlines watchful eye. i still can't believe Mom let her fly alone, but am glad she did! We celebrated her arrival by sitting in traffic for two hours..... and therefore missing the nerf war my friends were holding in Anaheim (an hour or more traffic-y hours from home). We decided to see "(500) Days of Summer" at the local movie theater instead. Verdict: good movie, but not as thrilling as the hype... typical. But the soundtrack is awesome and i'm actually listening to it right now.

The goal for the day was rest and relaxation, in true vacation fashion. After all, we had a busy week ahead! We introduced Claudia to the joys of Jamba Juice and Fresh and Easy market as we prepared for a campfire at night with some of Sophia's relatives. Browsing the 99-cent store led to the purchase of two badminton racquets, and inspired us to drag out our almost-forgotten badminton set. This led to a game that reminded us all how we lacked badminton talent.... but made up for it with our sense of humor. The night ended with everyone circled around the fire, smelling that cozy burnt smell, and eating goodies like smores and the corn on the cob that i actually made in the fire and didn't burn (i count it a culinary victory).

Sunday's still mean church and Masquer rehearsal! Claudia got to meet a zillion people, then had her first meal at Panda Express. We continued our relaxation theme by checking out the new "Reality Hell" tv show (trashy, with guilty pleasure potential), and watching "Young Frankenstein".

Our designated beach day started out with a haze that never really burned off. We tried to pass the cool morning hours at Redondo Pier, then headed down the beach for some boogie boarding and sun-bathing that would later produce the usual sunburn. Dinner at Joe's Crab Shack continued the tradition of celebrating Claudia's birthday any day of the year. She was a good sport about dressing up as a lifeguard and running around the restaurant. Pity they didn't give her a free dessert.

We stopped by my workplace to show Claudia around the radio station and introduce her to my coworkers (think she's met enough people by now?). Then we did a favor for a friend, which involved driving through Toluca Lake, past some celebrity homes. It was only fitting that we spent the afternoon walking around Hollywood (which seems like it's even more seedy/less exciting than normal.... blame the recession? or jadedness?). We both tried Beard Papa's for the first time (tasty, but way way way too sugary to really enjoy it), and Stefano's pizza place. I LOVED LOVED LOVED this little hole-in-the-wall, with inexpensive prices, pinball machines, music, comfy booths and brick walls, and GREAT TASTING slices of of pizza. It's on Hollywood Blvd, so go there. I intend to return asap.
The main event was "Legally Blonde: The Musical" at Pantages Theater. It was fun, cute, and silly, and followed the movie pretty closely. I loved the few parts with the live dogs (it could've used more of that and less of the lead actress' attempts at channeling Kristen Chenoweth's Galinda). But it was fun, and it's always a good time at Pantages. One of these days, i want season tickets....

We happily slept in after a late night, and headed to Maria's in Glendora for some authentic Mexican food, followed by Claudia's introduction to Pinkberry. You may have noticed that a lot of this trip was about showing her things So Cal has but Ohio does not. You might think I'm trying to lure her here or something. You would be correct.
She helped me prepare the evening's kid's kingdom lesson, but we ended up spending literally four times the amount of time on prep than the actual class time, due to crazy disorganization at church that night(but that's for another discussion). But first, we spent our afternoon at Golfland in El Monte, and used our arcade tickets to score plastic bling.

Knott's Berry Farm! Our longest line was for Ghostrider, only to be reminded that we don't really like jerky wooden coasters, haha. But winners included Silver Bullet, Pony Express, and Supreme Scream. Notes to remember next time: ride the raft one where you all sit in a circle instead of Perilous Plunge, as the latter has a long line for a fairly short ride that leaves you excessively wet and was not designed for those of us with long legs (my knees still have painful evidence of the screws that hold the boat together); also, Sidewinder is fun and twisty, but not quite worth the long wait.
Crazy highlight of the day: While searching for the entrance to the aforementioned Sidewinder, i stumbled across a couple park security guys. I assumed there had been an incident (fighting, line jumping, the usual), and continued my search as they told me to "keep moving along". I turned around, and was face to face with a sitting Shaquille O'Neal. In my mind i thought, "Hey, there's Shaq" and kept looking for the ride entrance (am I jaded?). Meanwhile, Soph and family were excited, and weaseled my camera out of me for pictures. I felt bad about disturbing his day with his family. Once I discovered he posted his whereabouts on Twitter, i only felt slightly intrusive. Regardless, we assumed he was sitting by the ride entrance while his family enjoyed the ride, and that they probably shut the ride down for security until they were off. We opted to hang close for a couple minutes so we could get in line as soon as they were done. A minute later, Shaq and crew headed passed us. Shaq noticed Soph's stepdad's Steelers jersey, and momentarily stopped to talk to us about a Steelers player and shake his hand.
So there you go, Claudia has a celebrity story to take back with her. And gee, that man was tall.

We meant to go to the Holocaust museum and hiking in the canyon, but thought the day would be a bit to crazy. So we just spent the day in the trees, stream, and graffiti covered rocks. And trash. Sigh. How are people so disrespectful?? We discovered a few more things that the West Fork of the San Gabriel Mountains above Azusa has to offer, and made tentative plans to camp there in the very near future. I love going up there... it's beautiful and quiet and happily nature-y. We lazily watched rented videos to finish the evening ("Push" and "Coraline", if you wondered. The first was eh, the second was cute).

Claudia's last real day. :( Sophia's family had a reunion at the park, and welcomed us, as well. So Claudia experienced the joys of taco man. :) We played volleyball and tennis, and generally enjoyed the lovely day. After a farewell jamba juice, we decorated mugs to commemorate the week.

The day began at 3:30am. Well, i say the day begins when the sun comes up, but WE began at 3:30am. By the time we reached the airport at five, it was already a zoo. Oh, LAX..... fortunately, Claudia's unaccompianed minor status sent us to the front of most of the lines. Security was reasonable (except i forgot to leave my water bottle in the car. oops), and her gate was right at the front of the terminal. The worst part was that she had to board the plane and fly away. :(

She potentially could be back as early as next summer, if that's what she wants to do. I'm still holding out for the possibility that she will attend college here. She could definitely fit in well as a California girl.

In the mean time, I am settling back into the routine of work/church/masquer and everything in between. There's a lot on my mind as I evaluate the elements of my life in some sort of quarter-life-crisis fashion. I'm ironing out the details this week, and will unveil my new plan and goals in September.

Also, my happy canyon is currently on fire, and i am most sad about it. It started burning yesterday, up the road near a dam we pass on our way to hike. Yesterday, it was a big cloud of smoke, and twenty-one hours, 820 firefighters, and 750 acres later, it is only 10% contained and blazing. Thankfully, it's wilderness burning, and not homes.... but i am sad as one of my happy places- and camping dreams- go up in literal smoke.

August 12, 2009


The following is an attempt to respark creativity in order to complete the writing of a spot....

Besides, you deserve a follow-up on the car drama.

As I walked out the door, headed to the mechanic's on Tuesday morning, Soph's mom's husband's sister (yup, that complicated) said, "I'll pray for your car!" And i drove away my check-engine-lit vehicle hoping for the best.

I arrived at the shop and handed over my keys, explaining my current car ailment. The mechanic went to investigate the issue, and i settled into the lawn chair in front of the building with my book. Ten minutes later, my car arrives right in front of me. Mr. Mechanic steps out and says,

"When I got in, the check engine light went off. The computer isn't giving me any codes. I've checked everything, and nothing's wrong. There's nothing I can do for you. Take it away!" And with a smile, he returned my keys.

And it's still running smoothly. THANK GOD!! I almost couldn't believe it, due to the high level of too-good-to-be-trueness. But considering all factors, it is the beyond what I had hoped.

Meanwhile, as I have been irritated at politics lately, I've avoided the headlines. This is probably why I didn't realize that we were having a meteor shower last night. I guess that would explain the amazing shooting star i saw when i was in the backyard last week.... But on a whim, i recruited Sophia and her mom's husband's sister (ok, her name is Missy. That's less to type. But you'll have to remember who she is if i mention her again) and headed away from the city lights.... to the canyon in the mountains up the street.

Sure enough, the mountains mostly blocked out the city light, minus the pink glow over their ridges and the light of the half moon. And we weren't the only ones who thought it would make for prime meteor viewing.... each turn-off on the dark, winding mountain road was occupied by stargazers (and at least one pair of lovers, judging by the car with the fogged up windows). But luckily we found a spot of our own, and crawled on the roof of my (now perfectly functioning) car for the best view of the sky.

We saw two beautiful meteors in the first minute. After that, they were small and infrequent. Of course, there was a good bit of passing traffic headlights to distract us. Then we heard a shower of rocks falling from the mountainside next to us. We couldn't identify the source, but wondered what could be large enough to cause that much of a racket. I half-jokingly suspected mountain lion, and tried not to envision a horrible mauling and the morning's headlines about our untimely demise. Instead, we caught quick glimpses of a few more meteors before heading home an hour later. It was a work night, after all.

August 10, 2009

when did i become boring?

i truly feel like i have nothing to say. Not as in "at this very moment", but this entire month. What's the point of typing random words just for the sake of saying "i blog"?

I used to have something to say. Freshly-penned song lyrics, the newest idea for the stage, a word about God's hand in my/our lives, the latest silly story.... Now it seems as if the well has dried up, leaving parched, dry stones of sameness.

I suppose I could talk about our random company holiday. The plan was a morning of car maintenance followed by an afternoon of groovy friend time. The oil change and "please check out this random noise" became "we're sorry, but you have a big problem with your brakes". This also meant double the cost, which cut into the funds for Claudia's trip. As a bonus, the whole ordeal lasted until six o'clock, preventing groovy friend time altogether. I've since dealt with the disappointment, and reminded myself that a) at least i had the money, b) there are plenty of things to do with Claudia on a budget, and c) better to discover it now than break down somewhere. All this would be more acceptable if my "check engine" light didn't come on twenty-four hours after leaving the mechanic....

At least there was Saturday- the family trip to the beach. Nothing much to report there... the usual sun, sand, and waves. At this point, uneventful is appreciated.

Sunday was happy rehearsal (i no longer believe there's such thing as a bad rehearsal), followed by a "quiet" evening at home. Too many people in one house is never dull- like it or not. I won't bore you with the unnecessarily dramatic details.

That leaves us here in the second week of August. I have decided that, no matter what happens, i love August 2009. Part of this is due to Claudia's arrival on Friday. The rest is thanks to the jumbled routine. Tomorrow, I will grudgingly use sick time to take my car back to the mechanic's (you'd think we have joint custody or something). Then i work a couple days, which should move quickly as i try to get things in order for my week off! A week filled with fun Claudia things. When I do return, it should move quickly with all the necessary catching up. Then before you know it, it will be Labor Day. See how these things work out?

And hopefully, if my dream plans work out, there shall be some life-changing in September. THAT should make for more interesting blog entries, no?

August 06, 2009

a holiday where there is none

i think declaring holidays is a good idea.

i also think remembering to celebrate them regularly is swell, too.

We don’t have work tomorrow. It’s a work-wide “holiday”… a random day off as a consolation prize for the pay cuts that went into effect awhile back. This means I have a three-day weekend! :) And i am very ready for some time off. I shall spend my days getting my car repaired, relaxing and hanging out, and going to the beach.

Of course, i’ll be off early next Friday, to pick Claudia up from the airport. And i won’t work all the following week and I thoroughly enjoy every minute with my sister.

I’m feeling quite optimistic about August, so far.

We celebrated another new holiday recently. Well, sort of celebrated. My sisters and i decided to declare a holiday that only we would observe. This, being the first year, was quite low key…. and, in true-to-us fashion, will be slowly celebrated as we get around to sending things to each other. It wouldn’t be authentic if it were any other way!

i know i whine about work a lot, but it’s such a relief to not have to be there. The cliché weight is lifted from my shoulders… and i could not be more content than in a few moments, when i close my eyes and know i don’t have to get up and go back to my desk yet again. :)