Saturday, September 22, 2007

Back in the USA

It's a rainy day in the valley, and they come so rarely, that I'm marking the occasion by taking a nap, reading, and marking things off my to do list. One of which was, update the blog.

I was home in Oregon for two days to recover from being abroad. I divvied out massive amounts of chocolate for the family, visited with everyone, and went on a hike up Chinidere Mt. with Mom. It was a lovely hike -- and luckily we ran into a friendly park ranger who could direct us on the right trails. From the summit (which is covered in small flat rocks) we could see all the surrounding mountains (from Jefferson to Rainier), which revived again my appreciation of our local scenes. And we found the seal of the Menlo Park Geological Survey up there -- strange. I ate many a wild blueberry/huckleberry. Waded a bit back at the lake. At home, I walked the ditch. Picked blackberries. Climbed the little hill above Aubert's bridge. Ate venison roast. Ate out of the garden.

Mom and I spent a day (unintentionally) in Portland, at the Olive Garden for lunch, along the scenic highway for views and coffee, to Ikea for wandering and dinner (chocolate cake...). I missed Merrie's arrival from Namibia by, literally, minutes. My flight took off at 7:25, hers landed at 7:26. I don't want to talk about it. Delta can go to the devil.

I had an *interesting* trip back from SFO. I got in the Super Shuttle, and noticed a couple of dachshunds up on the front seat floor. The driver assured us that he'd gone to a leash free park earlier, so they were good to go. And then I listened to him talk for *twenty minutes* about the whole food diet he feeds the damn dogs. I felt like mentioning that many Americans, and their children, can't afford grain-fed meat from Whole Foods for themselves, let alone for their pets. He punctuated every sentence with "you know?" "Dogs can tell the difference between grain fed, you know?" "Dogs need vitamin D, you know?" Etc. etc. When he let me off in Escondido Village, he told me that I should eat vegetables with vitamin K, some fat, butter, olive oil. And that he was telling me this because I'm a student. I thanked him, was thankful to be in my quiet studio. Only in California.

The next morning I had CA training. Then I had to repack for our weekend beach retreat at Pajaro Dunes. Which was awesome -- the training gets so much better when we escape the Stanford-enforced training (fire lady, party rules, etc.) and spend more time with the CA program, planning events. Our neighborhood committee is perfect. During free time, I walked with Dinah along the beach... and we discovered that we were both reading Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone, and were within 50 pages of each other. It was incredibly creepy. We read on the beach a while, then retreated to the main beach house's turret room. Then I hung out in my own house for a bit. Dinner, then a bonfire on the beach (yay for getting to stick around for tons of s'mores and beer and wine this year). Then I slept in the living room of this basically beach front house, listening to the ocean. We had a beautiful view from the living room windows, from which I saw two dolphins the first morning, rolling down the coastline. On the way home, we got a tad bit lost and took the scenic route. Stopped at a random gas station for Mexican food, and I had some of their fresh squeezed carrot juice. Again, only in California.

Finally went grocery shopping. Always makes me feel like I'm back home.

Monday & Tuesday I helped with practice exams for the (newly!) second years. Spent Monday evening with my committee, going to Costco, stuffing welcome bags for our residents, and eating tons of lasagna.

Weds. I brought sunflowers to the TA lounge for the quals survivors. Celebrated with Meredith at 11 am. Went for lunch & shopping with M. & Whitney. Went to the grad student bbq with the studio crew. So windy! Then back home to greet Sarah, hang out with her, Jill, and Sara over tea and peanut butter cups.

Thurs. we had a dept. memorial service, followed (strangely) by my neighborhood's Psycho movie night.

Friday was errand day on campus, followed by a lovely lunch at Brioche with Sarah & Jill. Then BevMo shopping for the Garden Party on Sunday.

Then unexpected evening plans (the best kind) with Meredith -- we saw LCD Soundsystem & Arcade Fire at the Shoreline Amp., then hung out till midnight at In & Out.

But here's the thing about concerts, that I re-realize at *every* concert. If they lowered the volume a tad (I'm not arguing for anything revolutionary, just take it down a couple notches), we might actually be able to hear the different instruments, distinguish between different elements, decipher the lyrics, and, in general, hear something more complex than Noise. Or at *least* venues should offer ear plugs to those of us who haven't ruined our hearing yet to the extent of needing the volume up that high. At least. At one point during LCD Soundsystem, I swear I could feel my cheeks vibrate with the base.

Enjoyed it, nonetheless.


Ricki said...

Beckers! Your blog spurred me into posting mine. Love your photo from Chinidere...someday will need to get them on this mac. wish you were here to help photo library is a bit screwed up....hope I can get it in order!! so much to learn, and time consuming. the photo from "your" beach looks lovely. Sounds like you're back into the groove. Love you!

Lindsey said...

I'm insanely jealous that you went to that show! It was actually at an LCD Soundsystem show a few years ago that I saw a kid dancing his heart out. At the end of the evening I noticed him removing his earplugs... at that moment I decided that I could be cool and still preserve my hearing. :)