Emotional Weekend

This song says it all…get your tissue box:  7 Years Old

Going to blame total exhaustion for part of it.  This past few weeks I’ve been all over the place – Tahoe, Seattle, back to Manhattan Beach, now finally home in Walnut Creek.  MB is bittersweet for me, I have some really great childhood memories there and of course some not so great teenage memories.  That’s everyone, except maybe my brother who was best looking, homecoming king or whatever else they award you for looking like a Ken doll.  Me?  I wasn’t even in the game.  Somehow I pieced together some friends out of that I’ve been friends with for life who I share some great memories with.

I bring this up because we had gone down to a memorial for a friends mom, running into other friends who have lost their parent(s) too.  Yes, it’s that time of life for me, my IL’s are both gone too.  The memorial was for a single mom of two boys, who somehow was able to move them from Venice, CA to Manhattan Beach on a teacher salary.  Those days are long gone down there.  The reason I even bring it up is because it was just a flood of memories of different times of my life.  One of them being how sweet she was about my writing, she had read something I wrote years ago and said I needed to be a writer.  When we were in Seattle, where our friend lives, he said the same thing.  It was so touching for me, coming from writers themselves.  Biggest compliment ever!  To become anything you really have to know how to toot your own horn, I’ve never been able to do that.  I’m good just writing my little blog with just a few readers.  Or they could just be being nice? Regardless, I really appreciated it.

The other son still lives in MB where the memorial was held.  It was a small group, was honored to be invited to it.  Within that group were people I have the greatest memories of, even in HS.  These guys saved me, a select crowd who always had my back.  I set up D-1 with his wife in our early 20’s, D-2 I’ve known as long as I can remember.  When I was 18, D-2 and I had a tanning contest on D-1’s front porch until we finally had to call it because one of us got a job.  D-1 lived on the Strand, his parents have both passed away and they’re forced to sell the house because it’s worth so much the siblings can’t buy each other out.  That’s the problem with MB now, the gentrification getting rid of us bitter middle class.

I’m kidding, not about the real estate vultures, but it is the end of an era and time to finally admit we’re adults.  We stumbled into it without realizing it, until you see each other and really see the passage of time or recall an incident that happened 40 years ago.  We thought we were unique, I thought I was a problem teen and now I look back to see that it was really stressful to be a teen with your parents staying together “for the sake of the kids” until they thankfully split up when I was 17.

The now adult boys who lost their mom, C & M, moved to MB later.  My first memory of C was at a HS party when I was 15 and he asked me to dance.  I’ll never forget his dance move to David Bowie’s “Rebel, Rebel” that night.  Years later, when my a-hole of an ex BF booted me from a party where my girlfriends didn’t want to leave, C saw me crying on the sidewalk with no ride home.  He came out and sat with me, went to find us a ride home (he lived close to me).  His mom let us take her car and gave us money to go to the Kettle, a 24 hour restaurant, then gave me a ride home.  A horrible night turned fine, no thanks to my girlfriends.

M was the hot surfer boy who got on the radar because my GF’s were all fighting over him.  I always had an ability to be friends with the hot surfer/v-ball guys due to the fact my first thought would be “out of my league.”  I never tried to date them, I’ve always thought of myself as one of the guys.  There was one night I was driving a bunch of us home in my mom’s VW van, M was the last drop off since he lived closest.  He came in for the kiss and I said, “What are you doing?  You don’t even like me!”  His world at that time was so full of groupies, he probably thought it was just what you did with last girl standing.  I kicked him out, I’m sure he doesn’t even remember.  Having a single mom made those guys more respectful of a “no” than most of the guys there.

Later D-2 and M had a band, I got them their first paid gig where I met my H.  M then moved to Berkeley as a returning student, he was our only attendant at our wedding.  He did it all, photographer, best man, maid of honor, gave me away.  I couldn’t afford a wedding, saving that expense helped me choose to stay home with Gus when he was born.

Another emotional flood of memories came when we went to check out a house our friends are building in the tree section in MB.  I was so freaked out, that’s where I lived when I was really little, from K-5th grade.  I ran down that street and fell, still have the scar on my nose.  The other side of that hill used to be a dirt road that leveled on one of the street crossings.  My babysitter would pick us up from school in her VW Van (we all had them) and at that flat part we’d go flying off of it to the next part of the hill.  The park down the street was where I was the queen of the hula-hoop at 5 yrs old.  I’d go to the beach after school growing up, then run down the Sand Dune park hill to get home.

Now we’re making adult memories – playing v-ball with our kids, golf, bowling tournaments and sadly memorials.  It’s a voyage I haven’t taken with my parents yet, they’re both still alive.  My mom and I talked about the house and her future while I was there, I just started crying and saying I could come down whenever or she could come and live with us.  I don’t want her to think assisted living is her only option, she insists her surviving friends love it.  Been teary eyed ever since, an interesting time of life.  I looked into that same bathroom mirror at my mom’s to get ready for all the parties, the tanning contest, the night I met my H.  Glad my ride thus far has been with some great people.

Seattle

Got to be a tourist this past week while my husband had an engineering conference up there.  I’ve been there a few times for work related things, have never really checked it out.  It’s booming!  That’s either good or bad, depending on the companies that are creating that boom with rising housing prices.  Here in San Francisco, low income has been literally kicked to the curb.  We have all the top tech with Monopoly money, no sense of reality of what anything actually costs.  It looks like all that tech has gone to Seattle, after destroying San Francisco.

We stayed downtown at a very small condo AirB&B.  It was a super modern place, really convenient and close to everything including the convention center.  The first night of the conference they had a dinner at the Space Needle.  I’d been in it before for dinner almost 20 years ago, it’s nothing like that now.  The surrounding buildings are so tall, it almost dwarfs the Space Needle, including the roof of the place we were staying.  It’s still cool to go on the rotating floor, plus construction started on my husband’s birthday and finished in my year, I’m the same age as the Space Needle – probably in need of renovation too??

The roof of our AirB&B

Other than that, I walked A TON!!  Going on little tours, the Duck Boat was a fun one.  I did one in Boston and loved it, this was a good way to see parts of the city I would never see otherwise and get a few laughs in.  We spent a few lunches at Pike’s Market, if I could cook I would have bought some fish to fry up in the condo.  We’re on the go so much this week that I couldn’t even send it home.

LRG_DSC03808LRG_DSC03822

I brought my keyboard, the forecast was for rain the whole time so I thought I’d be stuck indoors.  It didn’t rain at all, one of the things I got to do was go sailing for a little over an hour.  That was really nice, always like to see a town from the water.  The keyboard limited what I could bring home, another reason I didn’t pack a cooler from Pike’s.

 

From the “Let’s Go Sailing” boat pier 55

 

Just a heads up about our AirB&B, this seems to be a booming industry as well everywhere.  On the upside, it really was an amazing location and a cool place WAY too small to live.  Not to hip on the hospitality, it sucked.  We paid high rates, got a 10 page instruction sheet on how we have to tip-toe through the concierge so as not to let anyone know it’s an AirB&B, no noise, no nothing.  Our first morning we woke up to find the coffee left for us was decaf, poor form but not a major infraction.  I have headphones for my keyboard, we didn’t make a peep.

All went well, until we asked for either a late check out or baggage storage.  We weren’t supposed to be there, the concierge scowled at us every time we walked by, we knew from our instruction booklet not to bother them for anything.  The answer from our “hosts” was “We cannot accommodate your request.”  They suggested we leave our bags at Nordstrom??  Really??  You buy a place right next to a convention center and no clue on where we can leave our bags until the conference is over?  I panicked, thinking I might have to lug my keyboard around all day.

It turns out there are Bag B&B’s, a separate entity start up requiring it’s own app…genius.   My husband ended up putting our luggage behind the check in curtain at the conference, all but my 50 lb backpack.  Off I went to the water to get on it.

I loved it there, it was clean and safe.  If the Winter weather wasn’t miserable, it would be a place I could see myself.  The times I’ve been there I’ve hit some decent weather.  Seems the time to go is during the summer before that kicks in.  Lots of building going on, lots of tech is already there.

I have to bring up an incident in the airport as just an aside.  After carrying 50lbs around with hours before our flight, I splurged for a 15min neck and shoulders massage.  This woman sat down in the area, very disoriented.  At first I thought she was cutting in front of me in line waiting.  The guy asked if she was waiting for a massage and she said “no.”  He said it was the waiting area, that’s when I noticed she was completely out of it.

I sat next to her and then noticed a smell, she lost her bowels as well as looked totally lost.  She started trying to pick up her backpack and I said, “Do you need some help?  Are you here with someone?”  She said “yes” she was there with someone (she wasn’t) and that she didn’t need help.  She stood up, then collapsed hitting her head right out of my reach.  People rushed over, a Dr. & nurse traveling (separately) were first on the scene.  I saw a motorcycle in Santa Fe, thank God these professionals are first to pull over.  I know CPR, that’s about it.  The only input from me, besides saying what happened before the fall, was that she needs to go to the hospital.

The medics came, they figured out who she was by getting her cell & ID.  An Alaska airlines rep was there for info on where she was traveling from…Palm Springs to San Jose??  How did she get re-routed through Seattle for a 9pm flight making an hour flight into an all day nightmare??  Even I might be disoriented and shit my pants after that!!

My mom is 81, I haven’t let her travel alone for years.  I suck it up, get on her flight through L.A. and make sure she gets home OK.  Sometimes I just stay at her house on either end of the flights so I’m with her the whole time.  We were stuck in a 3 hour TSA line in Newark once, I’ve slept in airports and zig-zagged across the US to get home due to weather.  Anything can happen when you travel, apparently winding up in a hospital in Seattle is on that list.  I hope she’s OK 😦

I just write this as a warning to myself that there will be a time when I’m too old to travel, coming in at midnight with a keyboard and 50 lb backpack at 55 years old is no cake walk either.  Speaking of, if I ever did move to Seattle you will find me at Royal Cupcake with my latte and fig/honey cupcake every afternoon.

Horoscope for Today

9.4.18: Let your mind wander, and make sure to write down the peaks and valleys of your journey. You are exploring new mental territories, and they demand being recorded and shared. Take heart if you experience writer’s block. Slow down and pace yourself through your cerebral landscape. The words may not come quickly, but they will be worth their weight in gold when they finally arrive. You are crafting a powerful message that the entire world needs to hear.

It’s right about one thing, the peaks and valleys!  Every day has been a “what now?” since the kids graduated from high school about four years ago.  You really never think they’ll grow up when you’re in the middle of it, or that you’ll grow up.  Never picture getting out of that sleepless baby time, grade school, the sports, the milestones, the awards that are all now a blur in time.  It’s like someone played 52 pick up with your life and the cards are all supposed to stack back up when it’s over (and you end up being 52 somewhere along the way).

That’s where I’ve been, finding some footing.  In the meantime, I’m still a “mom,” as well as a wife and daughter.  The first thing I did when I was close to 50 was to quit my job at the golf course to reinvent myself, I did not want to age in front of everyone.  I worked in the pro shop, it was the perfect job for my schedule, my hobby, my co-workers were great.  We did get a new GM that made my work life hell.  He was the wrong kind of good ol’ boy, never stepping in to help only to criticize.  That made my decision a lot easier.

When my youngest graduated from high school I thought I could find my dream job which was going to be flying for a regional airline.  Mandatory retirement is 62 for pilots, I still had ten years in me.  My husband wanted me to start the drone company for his business with my pilot’s license instead, so that’s the direction I headed with it.  Now we have 2, 25 year olds replacing me.  The drones were fun, it’s just that the physical part of the job sites were getting hard for me (think bathrooms).  I also lost a drone in Costa Rica following my friend surfing while my spotter wasn’t spotting.  It was kind of a humiliating experience all the way around, they all treated me like I didn’t know what I was doing after that.  I left with broken ribs and no Hal 3, my purpose for being there was nil.

Now it’s time for new goals I guess.  Scratch the regional pilot, now I’m too old.  The one goal I did achieve was to get all my sailing certifications and buy a boat, so it’s not like I’ve been doing nothing in the meantime.  Really, it’s time to re-group for sunset goals (gulp).

  1. Where do I eventually want to live?
  2. Logistically, where do I need to be for my mom?
  3. Do I even have anymore “hopes & dreams” in me?

Those are the top 3 right now…not to say I’ve been sitting around either, last week I had my 1st piano lesson in about 15 years hoping for my musical breakthrough.  There still might be time for me to be a rock star?  Haha.   I skipped a Half Moon Bay sailing trip for a relaxing day on Angel Island hiking instead and was glad I did, it looked foggy and hectic.  One of the things that’s for sure not on my bucket list is living on a boat to sail around the world and 5 knots.  Love the boat, love sailing, love my bathtub when I’m done.

 

Piano Lessons

Next stop, Bingo.  Really though, I’m totally unmotivated and stuck with piano let alone not getting any better.  It could be the pieces I’m playing are just way too hard for me?  Lately I’ve been hacking away at Phantom of the Opera.  When I was at my mom’s house I thought I’d bring my book and practice on her small piano with broken keys.  That wasn’t working at all, I went to go get a keyboard for her house and she wanted to come along.

What a disaster!  She thought I was better than I am 😦  While I was checking the weight of the keyboards with my Phantom music, I could tell how dissapointed she was in my playing ability after playing for so frigg’in long.  Taking my family to a store with me has always been taking the spending police along, saves me a bunch of money but it’s totally annoying when I’m on a mission to actually get something.

In this case, my ability made my mom question why I pick such hard pieces?  OK, so I suck, but the whole purpose is to keep my brain working and be able to focus for an hour.  I’m in a piano group that meets every few months, just the fact I can get through a piece without my fingers shaking is a miracle.

I took piano lessons as a kid for several years, my parents rented a piano for me.  The highlight of my career was accompanying the choir at my 8th grade graduation.  What people don’t understand is that when you’re practicing, it doesn’t sound like anything yet.  You’re just trying to get the fingers working, I’m always screwing up what key I’m actually in the first couple go arounds.

My piano went back to the shop after my dad heard me practicing one day and told me I sucked after years of playing.  As an adult, I realize the $15 a month was taking from the beer money.  Adulthood also brings with it the fact that you can enjoy things without having to be a concert pianist, not all roads lead to fame and fortune.

My great aunt Maggie (Grandma’s sister) gave my brother and I her coin collection about 20 years ago.  She had gone to UC Santa Barbara music school, most likely one of the first to graduate in the 1940’s?  She played the violin, then became a teacher.  One of the coins was worth the price of my piano, almost to the sales tax…I went for it.  It’s below a mirror in my living room that had been in my grandparents house my whole life.  Although I didn’t inherit any music ability, it’s kind of my time with my aunt and grandma when I sit down at the piano.

If I were to live by the rule of not doing something because I’m not good at it, I’d never do anything.

I’ll have to see how this goes with the lessons, it’s been about 15 years since I’ve had one. Life happens, getting in the way of practice time.  The years I missed my piano group was from not having any time to practice and not wanting to torture the group without it.  I’m one who has to practice, it’s not natural at all for me.

The little ditty above is from Midnight Cowboy, a piece I played for a recital as a kid.  Leave it to me to play that as a kid, not knowing that movie was about a gigalo who caters to women my age now…haha.

Slowing Down

Came back to my hometown of Manhattan Beach again, thinking there would be some actual beach time involved.  It’s hard to get down there, dive in the water, then come dripping back.  The window was yesterday, I felt like crap though so I didn’t do it.  The fog rolled in today, when I’m feeling a little better.

Spending time with my mom is good though, especially when my friends are all losing their parents.  I’d like to be that beach girl again, it’s just that it requires effort by me to get down there for my sunburn.  Maybe I’m just not feeling that great?

On the way down it was REALLY smokey from all the fires in NorCal, people were wearing masks in their cars at the rest stops.  I just stopped for dinner at my favorite, Harris Ranch, for clean bathrooms and a Diet Coke to get me going again.  That was a mistake (the Diet Coke).  I’ve stopped drinking them, then started again last week at dinner.  It’s really done a number on me, giving me a pinching pain and totally bloated.

Not to complain about all my ailments, just took me down yesterday.  Being a cyber-chondriac, all roads lead to cancer for my symptoms.  It’s an if/then thing, any symptoms for anything could be cancer on google searches.  After looking up all worst case scenarios, I went for a walk to push through the weird pain.

The Manhattan Mall opened in 1980, the year I was out of high school, with only a few stores.  It’s across from my mom’s house, decided to take an air conditioned stroll through there first.  Walking through the mall wasn’t really memory lane for me, it’s never had the best stores.  I can get the same crap in Las Cruces, it’s a higher end mini-mall.  When I was little, it was Standard Oil tank farm, we cut a hole in the fence to play in it.

As I write, my mom has her computer in my old room and is reading her emails out loud to me.  This is the thing about being with her, I must delete hundreds of emails a day and yet if I’m here she reads them all to me, or laughs as if it’s the best email she’s ever gotten and I have to hear about it.

Back to the Mall…my mom’s piano sucks and I’m going to take piano lessons again when I get back.  On the other side of the mall there’s a Fry’s where I thought I could pick up a cheap keyboard to practice while I’m down here.  The whole section to get there is blocked off due to a new parking lot construction, so I climbed through a broken part of a fence to get there.  Now THAT brought back memories!!  I had to walk close to Hobo Bridge, my childhood biggest fear.  We never went past that bridge, it was wilderness (possibly the East Coast?) There were railroad tracks underneath that were close to our old house.  We could walk down to the bridge, we’d never go under it for fear of the Hobo’s, or as Stephen King so perfectly  wrote about “IT.”

Now I’m 55, I see it as a bridge.  Everything is built up on that side now, there’s no mystery on the other side.  The only mystery is what’s going on with my body.  Sometimes when I’m down here I feel I’m walking with ghosts, a lot of my childhood friends are already gone.  When I think of a memory or who I was with at the time, I realize they have passed away.  Seems young to have lost a bunch of people at 55, we did grow up next to a tank farm and all the hazardous waste.  I’m also starting to think being a Diet Coke generation didn’t do anyone any favors either.  I hear the Siren’s calling sometimes when I’m here, telling me I’m not immune after living a really healthy life.

The walk helped get my body somewhat back to normal, the pain is gone.  I might be down here more and more for my mom, not a lot of time to myself though or time to write.  The mom stuff seems unique to me, then I watch Sienfeld re-runs and laugh at how it’s just aging parents.

Excuse me, I have to read a newsletter my mom just printed out for some reason?

LA Tourist

With a few days free because my son is working in Napa, his wife and I headed to my Mom’s house so I could show her LA and my home town.  Usually during the summer it’s pretty cold and foggy by the beach, we’ve hit a heat wave like no other (since there’s no global warming).  It’s fine if it’s just to hop in the water, it’s another thing if you’re a tourist in your own ‘hood.

Of course I had to go in the water first off, might do that today before we head back up an incredibly smokey I-5 back to my real home.  Most of the time when I come down here, that’s the extent of my visit…a day at the beach.  Really, just a few hours to swim then dry off, don’t lay out anymore.

From there, we decided on dinner in Marina Del Rey – a place my DIL from Turkey has never heard of so we wandered up to Venice instead.  Venice is not my favorite, it was crowded, hot, smelled like pot and to me is like a poorly run carnival.  As soon as my DIL figured it out, we were free to leave.

Instead of MDR for dinner, we then headed up to Gladstones on Sunset & PCH in Malibu, which was surprisingly not very crowded.  I’m used to “back in the day” where it was tough to get seated it was so popular.  It was a Tuesday night though, not like a weekend.

To be total tourists, we had to go to Hollywood and Universal Studios on the hottest day of the year with what looked like 58% humidity.  I brought a water bottle or I would have never made it through the 2+ hour line (90 minutes on the board, which must have meant 90 minutes to get to the indoor line).  It was for the Harry Potter ride, which was actually a lot of fun once we got on it without heat stroke.

The other ride was the tram tour I remember as a kid.  I’ve only been there once, it was after Jaws came out.  My fading memory is the fake shark coming at us, then going from set to set and seeing the “I Love Lucy” & “Bewitched” sets.  They weren’t still shows, the Bewitched set was showing us the magic of Hollywood and how they made her disappear to show up somewhere else though the editing.  WAY before cell phones!!  Now you can do everything on you phone, that’s pretty much magic.

One thing Universal did that was amazing on the rides was the 3D and that Harry Potter ride.  Even going to sit down in that Kung Fu Panda theater (not something I’d ever planned to see, I needed a short line and to sit down) puts you right in there.  Those rides were amazing, didn’t anticipate that at all.

We stayed until around 9p, I time everything around LA traffic.  My usual route here is the 405 S. through West LA and LAX airport.  The downtown LA route through the 101 to 105 at night was spectacular, don’t think I’ve done that since my friends were at USC?  Even then, I didn’t pay any attention or those buildings weren’t lit up like that.  Downtown LA is someplace I never go, thought it was just office buildings with some hospitals and a whole lot of traffic.

Going to be a tough drive back through all the smoke in the central valley.  Take my dive in the ocean and head back for the long drive.  Thinking about asking the NBA players a few doors down from my mom to help me put my bike back in the car 🙂

 

 

 

 

Heading “Home”

I haven’t been to Manhattan Beach all summer, not that that’s a big loss or I haven’t been busy with other things.  If I don’t get out on the water sailing once a week, it’s twice.  MB seems like it’s not “my town” anymore.  I see all the FB pictures of people still looking awesome in bikini’s in their 50’s. The one thing I wish I hadn’t missed is the English Beat, that would have been fun!  I might have been creepy Heller showing up by myself.

I head down today w/ my new electric folding bike, a Pedego.  There are a few hills I avoid or walk my bike up when I’m down there, be nice for that jump start up the hills.  When you fold it up, it kinda looks like a wheelchair?  The cover of the brochure looks like a senior citizen demographic (which is me?).  I’m still fully capable of riding a bike!!  I rode it without the battery about half way home from the store and then tried it out when I got to some hills to get used to it.

There are two places I could use the bump start, those beach hills and getting up to the Golden Gate Bridge.  When I was a teen I had a moped to park at the beach to avoid parking.  Uber has been convenient getting around, the extra traffic is very noticeable now.   I have a love/hate with Uber, it’s starting to remind me of the traffic and cab drivers in Ciaro – they drive like crap.

The other great thing about it is it’s a folding bike, it can go in the boat or plane for transportation when I get someplace.  The hard part is, I can’t lift  it.  I did it at the store and felt it for 2 days afterward.  That part of getting older is really hard for me, I used to be so strong.  When I dock, pull the plane out, now with the bike I always need help.  Because I’m older too, it’s not like I’m the hot girl asking for help.  Last week I was waiting for someone to walk by to help me getting the boat out and a guy said, “Sorry, I’m in a hurry and can’t help.”  Late to sail?  There’s really no such thing.  I told him I didn’t need help and waited for anyone else helpful to walk by.  I got Cap’t Ron with a cig hanging out of his mouth, still better than banging the boat into the side of the dock.

Excited to just dive in the water again, can’t do that here it’s too cold.  It’s weird, lately when I do things it really reminds me of being a kid.  That fog yesterday while we were sailing with sort of choppy waters always reminds me of going out on boats when I was in grade school.  Going in the water in MB reminds me of heading down for a dip after school that was a few blocks from the beach.  Nice to relive some good memories, now I can finally ride my bike up that beach hill!!