On the drive home tonight, the son asked that we stop at our alma mater. So we drove down into Los Angeles, parked and commenced a brief trip down memory lane.
The spouse and I didn't really know each other well when we were in college, but we bumped into one another because of mutual friends. He is older than I am, so graduated before me, and I lived off campus most of my academic career, so was less involved in campus life and happily, didn't ever visit the dining hall after freshman year. Nonetheless, we met again a few years after I'd graduated, and eventually, we married in the campus chapel.
I worked in the library, and the spouse spent most of his college life in the building that housed the science labs, but for us both, every corner of campus carries a remembrance of things past. We peeked in windows and laughed about shows we'd seen in the college theater. Reminisced about seeing Patrick Stewart in the audience when we went to see a Gilbert & Sullivan production in the outdoor amphitheater. I pointed out the building where I was got stuck in an elevator, and we went to the place where I fell down a flight of stairs. The stairs are gone now, weirdly, erased from the hillside, though they are marked indelibly on my spine.
We took the kids past various residence halls in which we'd resided, and told stories. And we laughed.
For the most part, I enjoyed my college years. They weren't easy by any stretch. I came from a poor family, so I worked many hours while taking a full class load, which didn't particularly bother me. On the contrary, I was really proud of what I accomplished. But when college was done, I was ready to move on.
Even while we walked around campus, and I remembered the moments when I was flooded with that curious sense of "You Are Here," I felt a strange disconnect and the certainty that I really had moved on, decades ago. It's a recognizable piece of my past, a place that motivated me tremendously, but it is, quite firmly, in the past.
It flooded about two minutes into this downpour. The rain was coming down so hard, harder than I've seen in years.
I was happy.
Granted, we could have used a slightly less violent version of this (seriously, I emptied four inches of water out of one of my garbage cans about an hour later), and I'm sure the people in the burn areas would have been content with four inches over the course of four days.
This isn't without precedent. When we were living in La Canada in the mid-1990s, we essentially got an entire season's worth of rain in four days one lovely March. That won't happen with this storm system, but I certainly hope we get a few more storms as spring approaches.
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4. Seasonal rainfall is about 12 inches--10 on the low end of the spectrum and 15 on the higher end, and every few years, we get about 45 inches. No really, that's an actual figure. I'm sure it doesn't sound like much in some places, but here in the desert, that's a lot.
Santa Ana, California
15 February 2014
The daughter belongs to a Spanish language honor society (as did, rather bizarrely, I in high school). Of the various annual requirements of the chapter, she must attend two field trips annually that in some way reflect the culture.
So, off they went to Olvera Street in Los Angeles. It was going to be an adventure. First, Olvera Street! Second, they were taking the train.
I said I would go. I did not offer to chaperone. But no sooner had I set foot on the sidewalk in front of the station than I was required to start buying tickets for minors. Amtrak, as it turns out will not sell tickets to those under the age of 18.
(I said I would go because Olvera Street has some stalls with very good taquitos. The spouse and his family have been dragging me off to get taquitos for decades. Totally worth it. The buying tickets for minors? Agh.)
Anyway, the whole thing wasn't very well organized, though I will say that the girl who tried to organize it tried very hard. Given that she's in high school, hats off to her, truly. It just would have helped if an adult had done a reality check on the whole thing because there was actually an easier way to go about it all. So it goes, live and learn, etc.
The trip up was nice, and our conductor was very sweet. Obviously used to the whole thing because he didn't bat an eyelash when I pointed out the five people on my ticket.
And let's face it, it beats hell out of trying to drive up there. More to the point, it beats hell out of trying to park up there.
Olvera Street was Olvera Street. The leather goods have a very particular smell that hearken back to childhood trips to Nogales. I don't know how the stuff can smell exactly the same 40 years later but it does. Even the little tooled leather purses look exactly the same with their blue and red flowers, the same ones I wanted so badly as a kid. Velvet sombreros. Seriously evil marionettes.
(My brother and I did have a pair of those. I actually got quite good at wielding the rolling pin mine was holding.)
Taquitos, of course, and on to the candy kiosk. The daughter and spouse nibbled jamoncillo while I searched out tamarind balls.
"Sweet or spicy?" the vendor asked me when I found them.
"Spicy!" I replied.
"Ooooh," she chortled. "Spicy lady!"
We visited a gallery, museums and artwork. Watched the dancers; listened to a musician.
The daughter bought an accordion. Allegedly because I will not buy her a drum kit.
(When, I ask, would she have time to learn how to play it?)
But I did buy her a little ring with a devil on it. She's worn it every day.
Hollywood, California (and then some)
11 February 2014
Yesterday, I ended up going to Hollywood, which when all was said and done, was good and bad.
Sadly, the media was out in force on Hollywood Boulevard, covering the death of Shirley Temple Black. A memorial wreath stood on the corner of Hollywood and Vine.
I hiked up into the hills a bit. The air wasn't clear, but it cleared my head.
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4. Of course, I ended the day with an epic migraine, probably a result of the hiking. I really don't understand why it is that my body must take such exception to my desire to stay fit.
I suppose complaining about the dry weather wasn't a bad thing. We got a little (very little) rain this afternoon, and as I waited for the daughter, the next front was moving in. By the time she arrived at the car, clouds covered the sky.
Last night, I had to start up the daughter's old Windows 7 laptop so that she could run a simulation for her AP Bio class. I won't let Java run on any of my computers, so I had to install that, too.
It was fairly late by the time she'd finished her other homework, and I was babysitting the laptop and reading the newspaper. There was a story about George Clooney, with the highly amusing note that you could buy what was essentially a raffle ticket (benefitting a charity) for $10 and spend an evening (sort of) with Mr. Clooney. And I laughed and read it to the daughter because we have a long-standing joke about George revolving around the central conceit that when the daughter receives her first Academy Award nomination, I get to sit next to him at the show.
(We have MANY long-standing jokes about George, actually, and don't worry, they are all nice.)
We are fond of Mr. Clooney around here, and not for the reason you might think. Yes, he is a handsome man, suave and debonair and all that good stuff, but more importantly, he is interesting. And he makes interesting choices in the projects he pursues. And he works with interesting people. That interests me. So the daughter and I were discussing all the things we might ask him.
(And anyway, he bears a little too close a resemblance to one of my brothers-in-law, so crushing on Clooney would just be weird. Also, I only have one celebrity crush, and I gave my heart away on that one decades ago, and I'm nothing if not faithful, even in fantasy.)
While we both acknowledge that it would never happen (though in my life weirder things have), the daughter said, "Wouldn't it just be crazy?'
And it certainly would.
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4. So maybe next academic year, I will do nothing but publish photos from where I'm sitting on the street in Santa Ana, waiting. And the word you're searching for? LAZY. Okay, not really. Busy, very busy. Also, lazy.
Well, that's sort of tragically out of focus (damn phone camera. Damn operator error).
So probably this isn't the place to announce that I've entered my first photo competition in a really, really, really (like decades) long time.
No, it isn't.
We'll just concentrate on how wonderful it is that the light lasts longer in the afternoon these days.
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4. And no, I didn't not submit iPhone photos. And the last time I entered a photo contest, I actually won a ribbon. I do not expect to win anything this time. The act of entering was what counted.