Thursday, November 17, 2005

California here we come

right back where we started from
Californiaaaaaaaa here we coooooooome

Yeah, anyway.

Sit back, kiddies, while I sip my tea and tell you of a tale, a tale of traffic, toddlers, thai, and tokens.

Wednesday, I arrived at about 12:30 to a very rainy Los Angeles. It hadn't rained in a month in Mississippi, but it's raining in sunny Southern California. Wonderful. Everyone, of course, blamed this fully on me. We went out to eat lunch at Hana Haru in El Segundo with our old friend Matt. Matt was one of our roommates when we all lived in Hawthorne back in the day. Alyson met us at about 2:03, tried to order, and was promptly shot down by the waitress, who told her that lunch ended at 2. When the entire staff started sitting down at the table next to us to eat their lunch, we got the hint and left. I headed to Leslie's office, picked her up, coveted her sweet ride, and went to Target to buy a few of the various presents the goddaughters have demanded of me. After Leslie and I got our fill of each other (I swear, it's like we're in highschool when we're together), I went back to the hotel to grab a much needed, rousing shower. Drew and I headed out to Lakewood to surprise the church people - you never know when those we'll show up. It unfortunately was a business meeting, which did nothing to help the fact that I had effectively been up since 1 that morning. I didn't wind up going to sleep until about 10, because In&Out Burger called. Yawn.

Thursday, I ate one of the worst breakfast buffets known to man. I then went and picked up my rental car and headed back to the hotel to get myself all gussied up to go out to lunch (Hana Haru again - YUM) with Drew and two of his old co-worker boys. A little after lunch, I started my trek out to Yucaipa. I spent 2 and a half hours in traffic, an hour of which was spent going no faster than 20, a huge reminder of why I hated living in Southern California. Just too many people. Of course, I was rewarded by the three reminders that I loved living in Southern California, my sweet goddaughters. I spent the rest of the night hugging them. Drew was able to take Friday off, so he came out Thursday night and spent a good while hugging them, too.

We woke up Friday to Ashley bursting into the room saying "Morning time!!" Any time is morning time when you're being awoken by a little blonde angel. We cuddled her for a little while, until 2 more little bleary-eyed girls showed up and started jumping on us. We slowly got up and it was decided that we were going to Chuck-E-Cheese's that day. It takes a while to get 2 adults and 3 little girls ready, so we were up and running at around 11:30. We got a huge pizza, drink, and token package. I didn't think it'd take very long for these three to spend 35 tokens, so intent were they on playing every game known to Chuck-E-Cheese's, but when 3pm rolled around, we were all pretty much ready for a nap. Except, unfortunately, we had to cash our tickets in... Now that was good times. Dani said she wanted something, then changed her mind, and cried when she couldn't get it... Nay, SCREAMED... Ashley was a massive grump fest... Ahh, bygones. They all slept on the way home.

Friday was so great, I think I'll devote 2 paragraphs to it. We got the girls home and played with them for a little while longer, and finally left them to Grandma so the adults could go out and have a good time. We all met at this little Mexican place in Redlands - we being yours truly and the best husband ever, Terri, Billy, and a 17-year-old friend of theirs. We had an awesome time, naturally reverting to the one topic of conversation that we've never been able to avoid, poop. All I have to say is that some people just should NOT have camera phones. After a delicious and cultured supper, we headed to the movies to see Jarhead. Great movie, but DO NOT TAKE THE KIDS. Like, at all. If you have children, I don't care how old they are, don't take them to that movie. That R rating ain't for violence. Hoo-wee. Drew left after the movie and headed back to L.A. and caught his flight home Saturday morning.

Musical interlude:
One day up near Salinas Lord, I let him slip away
He's looking for that home and I hope he finds it
But I'd trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday
To be holding Bobby's body next to mine

Saturday morning was spent at a garage sale at Billy and Terri's house. Their church group decided to have a sale to raise money to benefit One Life Revolution. Megan came in to the bathroom as I was getting ready and told me how much she wanted to sell something to help the kids... and she and her sisters spent the rest of the morning trying to buy stuff. You know, benefiting the kids and all. Afterwards, Terri and I loaded Grandma and the younguns into the car to head out to Cabazon to the outlet mall. I wanted a hoodie and a jacket something fierce and thought for sure that I'd find it there. I was wrong about that, but I did find a sweet belt for Drew (who has been wearing... dare I say it... a black belt with brown shoes ohmygosh) and some Moose Munch from Harry and David. After eating at Bob's Big Boy, we headed back to the homestead, where I fulfilled a promise to the girls to bake cookies with them. They're actually not too shabby in the baking department. After they went to bed, Terri and I watched Monster In Law. I've never nodded so much in my life.

Up early Sunday, had to be at church for 9:30, had to leave for 8. Didn't work out that way... s'alright. I said goodbye to the girls, which wasn't easy. I hugged them for a good while... I love them so much. It's very seriously amazing to look at Megan now and see a little girl, a 6-year-old, when all I want to see is a 1-year-old walking down the aisle at my wedding. They are, with no bias and all honesty, the most beautiful children walking this earth. I mean that. Anyway, I headed out to church about 45 minutes late, stopping for a decaf gingerbread latte and a pumpkin scone on the way. Oh heavens, do I love Starbucks. Church was awesome, as usual. I really, really miss having the community of a church. I really miss the people in that church. After lunch, I went to Don and Joyce's house. I didn't see them last time I was in town, and I'd missed them. Don reminds me so much of my dad. We hung out for a while and went out to California Pizza Kitchen. It was awesome. I miss the thai pizza. YUM.

Okay, I'm getting totally tired of typing now. And I am willing to bet a dollar that nobody has read this far.

Monday morning was my flight out. I discovered that Californians have come up with the genius idea to put little buffers on the gas nozzles to reduce emissions. I can't find a picture of the blasted things... it looks like they put a little collapsible tube with a rubber buffer on the end of it over the nozzle of the gas pump. This stupid thing kept me from filling up my tank and I was mighty grumpy about it. Let me ask you something... How in the world is this thing supposed to reduce emissions? Sure, with these stupid things on the end of the gas nozzle, the emissions are safely locked in the space just above your gas tank, but when you take the buffer off, don't the vapors escape then? Hello? Anyway, I got back to Mississippi, home of the traffic-free freeways and smog-free air, even without the vapor control buffers.

Anyway, I had a great time. I'm not feeling very writer-y right now so this might not have been the most enthralling or informative account of my stay in California, but I am incredibly happy and fulfilled to have gone. Thanks for reading.

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