Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dispatch 2: San Francisco

So, Day Three of our San Francisco vacation, we got up early and went to prison.

(I just like saying that. I would not actually like LIVING in a prison. I'm pretty clear on that.)

We headed down to catch the ferry to Alcatraz, where we miraculously found parking in a lot and ended up with time to grab a little coffee at a cafe.  This is noteworthy because of the pigeons.

Any one else think of Ernie from Sesame Street when she sees pigeons?
These pigeons had learned to totally work the doorway of this restaurant.  They would fly in through the door, walk around on the floor eating crumbs, and then, periodically, a worker would come out from behind the counter and shoo them and they'd fly right back out the door.  One by one, they'd come back in and the cycle would begin again.   It reminded me of this video:

I digress.  (Shocker.)

Anyway, we boarded the ferry and headed to the Rock.

I'd like to go on record as saying that THIS is as close as I would ever like to be to visiting my children in jail.

We took a great and kind of creepy audio tour of the prison and we walked all OVER that island, including down into the recreation area where I took some pictures of the girls with this idea in the back of my mind that the photos would make funny holiday cards.

Yeah, I don't know either.  "This holiday season, we hope you're not a felon! And if you ARE, hope the recreation yard is awesome! MWAH!"
So then we took the Ferry back and had lunch in the Ferry Building which also had a lot of shopping.  Including THIS store:

Which, for the record, did NOT sell bacon.  Go figure.

We headed home, rested a little, and then took a cab to Chinatown for dinner. I forgot to take pictures but basically, the restaurant looked like any other Chinese restaurant. And the fortunes were GREAT.  Mine said, "You will soon have something you have always desired."  See? That's a strong fortune.  Promises me something.  Makes me think about what that might be. (A clean house? A book deal? A dog who doesn't sleep on the sofa?)

Then we came home and rented "Escape from Alcatraz."

On Wednesday, we had a slow morning due to having stayed up too late watching Clint Eastwood.  I took a yoga class at a local place, which went surprisingly well. The we drove to Stanford University, which is currently Ana's first choice in colleges.

And it occurred to me that she'll be leaving for college in four-and-a-half years, after which I had to put my head between my knees and breathe into a paper bag and stuff. Lordy, if it goes as fast as the past 13 years, she'll be leaving tomorrow.
It was actually a beautiful day, but I edited this picture so you could see their faces. That's the campus behind them.  
So then we drove back along the coast and took a detour to go see the Mavericks. We walked out to the point, where the wind assaulted us like it was armed. It was really beautiful, though. I took pictures until my people refused to stand still anymore, and then I took pictures without them.
(She looks pretty good in that hoodie, huh?) (Sob.)

Thus ended Day Four.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dispatch 1: San Francisco

So, we're on vacation in San Francisco.

I meant to tell y'all about it before we left, but the effort involved in finding a house sitter and then spoiling my pets rotten and lining the house with plastic sheeting in case one orange fur-ball chooses to express his displeasure at my absence in a manner unbecoming to one who really DOES know how to use the litter box sucked all of my bloggy words right out of me.

My husband had a business trip out here the week of Thanksgiving. We decided that we'd ALL come and spend Thanksgiving soaking up some culture on the other coast.

It's an almost seven-hour flight out here.  We flew Virgin America, an airline I'd never flown before.  The airplane seemed new-ish and was equipped with all the new-fangled gizmos one could ask for.  We ordered and paid for our meals via a computer system. When I wanted a class of water, I ordered it the same way! We had wifi and satellite radio and movies.  I totally reminded me of this clip, which I searched for and posted on Facebook from 35,000 feet in the air.  Gosh, we live in amazing times!

I did some serious knitting. The plane was full of parents with two-year-olds, and at one point, the father in the row in front of me was so desperate for entertainment for his daughter, he sat on the armrest of the chair in front of me, holding the little girl, and they watched me knit for about 20 minutes.  Which was a little odd, but I was glad to help.

(But y'all, seriously?  I had forgotten all about diapers. Specifically, I had forgotten about Toddler Diapers.  After about the third time, when my eyes were watering and I looked over at my gorgeous, tall, self-sufficient daughters (who were, of all things, utterly consumed by their good old-fashioned books,) I realized that I had to add something else to my long list of things for which I am thankful this year.)

We stayed in a hotel the first night, and got up on Saturday to have such a great breakfast that we almost stayed another night. But we are actually house-sitting for a colleague of my husband, so we checked out, dropped our luggage at the house, and set off to explore.  We drove down Lombard Street, the curviest street in the world:
(It was raining, and we were dodging a busload of Tourists who were standing in the middle of the street. This image courtesy of Google.)
And then we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge,

through the Marin Headlands (where we saw people surfing. Because this is California, and people take their surfing VERY seriously.)

People surfing.  Terrible picture because, HELLO, IT WAS A MONSOON and I didn't want to get out of the car.
See?  People are nutty even about WATCHING surfing here.
 and then we drove into Sausalito. (Where a small bit of shopping happened. Shhh.)

Then we went to see some redwoods in the Muir Woods.

And, wow.

Then we ate lunch at another fabulous restaurant and during the hour we were there, watched the fog roll in and completely shroud San Francisco across the bay and then roll back out.  It was like some sort of beautiful performance art.

We came home, had a bit of a nap and went out for Sushi.  (I should warn you that there is something about the food in San Francisco that requires one to take pictures of it.  Really, I don't make the rules.)
Ana's cucumber rolls --the best she's ever eaten.
We ordered something and there was a communication breakdown and THIS came instead.  We did NOT send it back.

This is the face of a girl who is happy with her dinner.
On Monday, Coop had to actually go into work, so the girls and I went out for breakfast
My morning coffee, with bottle cap for size comparison.
bummed around the Russian Hill area of San Francisco, found a bookstore, and even walked to a yarn store.  (Some small bit of shopping happened. Shhh.)

Then we had lunch in a Chinese restaurant.

and this fish in a tank became transfixed with Ana. He was just staring at her and staring at her.  Naturally, this was creepy and hilarious.

That's a fortune?
We spent the afternoon at the California Academy of Sciences, where we visited rain forests, an aquarium, and space.  I cannot overstate the coolness.

Can you find the frog?  Hint: it's NOT green!
Then we went to dinner at a Cuban restaurant near Amoeba Records, which is a music store that defies description.  Some shopping DEFINITELY happened.

And then, we went to Whole Foods to buy supplies for our Thanksgiving dinner, as well as homeopathic remedies for the epic head cold poor Ana (13 and such a good sport) was rapidly developing. 

The next day, we went to prison.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

A Meaningful Day for Me

(You don't have to watch that video. I couldn't find one of Shawn Colvin performing the song on her own.)

One small year
It's been an eternity
It's taken all of me to get here
Through this one small year

Today is a very meaningful day for me.  One year ago, I took my first yoga class at Chris Gates Tae Kwon Do Health Center, which turned out to be the first step down the road that finally ended my chronic pain experience, and began a new journey into regaining my health and well-being.

One year.

In the past year, I've learned to walk again without pain. I've lost 25 pounds, gone off of my lobotomizing anti-depressants, stopped drinking alcohol, revived my freelance writing career, and not had a single migraine headache. Best of all, I've regained my former active role in our family.

If it were only that one thing alone, I would be inexpressibly grateful. To have all of this other bounty is just...humbling and exalting and uplifting and seems to require a larger response than just feeling this enormous gratitude in every fiber of my being.

I try not to take it for granted. When I pulled into the parking lot at the girls' school for their Halloween parade on Monday, I parked as far away as I could and I breathed a sincere prayer of thanks for the ability to walk into the school to see my kids. It was such a short time ago that I couldn't do that.

When I get ready for bed at night, if it has been a pain-free day (and I have more of them now than I have days with pain,) I try to recognize it and to acknowledge the millions of people out there who have no end to their suffering.  I wish I could convey to them that I know how hopeless they feel.  I wish I could give them hope that it will get better.

Today, as you go about your day, will you do me a favor? Will you notice some of the steps you take without thinking? Will you take a moment to appreciate the things you can do by virtue of your mobility? Will you spare some mindful sympathy for those who are denied this privilege, and send some healing thoughts to those who live with chronic pain?

Namaste, y'all.