California, company, and corrections

Well, I have had a very hectic week since I last posted. It all started about 11 days ago, when Indie Boy came home and indicated that his maternal grandmother, who lives in California just outside of L.A., was ill and, from reports, near death. His mother had been fairly estranged from that side of the family (having not seen her mother in two decades and not talked to her in almost as long), but was spurred to go see her and make amends with her and her sister. So the IB and his brother were taking her there, and I went along as moral support, as apparently there is a lot of drama on this side of the family. Luckily, when we got there, we discovered that reports of the grandmother’s imminent demise were slightly overstated (in fact, they moved her from the hospital into a nursing home two days ago), but apparently amends were made and it was still a good trip. Although the IB and I were a little by the wayside for a lot of the family rekindling and dealing with hospital stuff, we did still keep ourselves occupied. And here’s a list of my most memorable moments on the trip:

1) While hanging out in the hospital, I head my head on the IB’s shoulder, and peered at his face from over the top of my glasses. Specifically, I peered at his stubble, as he had just shaved his cheeks and head the day before (nearly making us late for the airport in the process). From my perspective, the stubble looked very akin to poppy seeds, so I dubbed him Poppy Seed Head for the remainder of the trip. Of course, he hasn’t shaved since, and it has gotten longer and no longer resembles poppy seeds, so I had to replace that with Prickley Head, which isn’t nearly as much fun as Poppy Seed Head.

2) As it seems that, when picturing overweight Americans, people seem to think of the midwest more than the coasts, I was surprised at the sheer number of doughnut restaurants lining the city. It seemed that every few blocks we’d see a doughnut place, particularly Yum Yum Donuts, and many of these places appeared to be open 24 hours! Out here, there are very few doughnut specific restaurants, and those tend to close around 2 pm. If you want a doughnut after that time, you have to hope that the grocery store hasn’t boxed theirs up yet or that one of the convenience stores with a Krispy Kreme kiosk aren’t sold out, so it was very strange to see so many doughnut possibilities at all hours of the day and night. We did try some Yum Yum Donuts (14 to a dozen!), and while they were tasty (especially the buttermilk ones), they certainly weren’t LaMar’s, where you can feel your arteries clogging as you eat, but you don’t care because they’re so damn good. Seriously, the creme filled long johns are like shooting sugar directly into your veins.

3) Good lord, I would hate to have to drive on the L.A. freeways on a daily basis. The IB and I both declared that people would be shot if we had to deal with that traffic regularly. Of course, considering what an aggressive driver IB can be, he might be the one being shot. (While he claims to simply be “keeping pace with traffic,” he was, in actuality, passing 90% of the traffic, and thus not so much “keeping pace” as “driving like a crazy man.”)

4) Hot Dog on a Stick. Wow. I had actually thought that was just part of a MadTV sketch until I saw if for myself in the Westfields Mall in West Covina. I’m not sure what’s more amusing – the concept or the horrible, horrible, horrible outfits worn by their staff.

5) Our first morning there was last Sunday, and the IB’s mom and brother had gotten up earlier than us, and gone out to some local pawn shops (since they knew we would not be interested). While they were gone, we started hearing some chanting, and realized that one of the residences in back of our hotel had pitched a tent in the backyard, and a group of Hari Krishnas was holding a service. It was quite fun to hear them, although it kind of made me want to go over there and start singing songs from Hair.

6) That same morning, while manually flipping channels (as the remote didn’t work), we were kind of struck by the number of channels – both English and Spanish – that apparently devote their mornings to selling cars. It was just one car spot after another, and most of them had a fast talking, greasy guy in the foreground with a skimpily-attired skank showing off the car in the background. However, one of them featured just the guy (no chick in the background) singing about his car prices to the tune of “It’s Now Or Never.” That’s quality TV.

7) Speaking of quality TV, did you know that Erik Estrada is now pitching real estate in Texas? Yeah, I didn’t either until I stumbled across his infomercial. Wow, his career’s gone pretty far downhill. Of course, the fact that he badly acted his way through stinkers such as this suggests that perhaps his continued fall is warranted. (And why yes, I am still bitter that Evan made me watch that piece of crap one Halloween – especially since he bitched about my choice of the far superior Susperia.)

8) Stop trying to revive legwarmers! They were ridiculous in the ’80s and they’re ridiculous now. Especially when worn over jeans, with heels, in warm weather. Dumb asses.

9) I have read many a blog entry about IKEA. There would be much bitching about how difficult their items are to assemble, about how such items are often missing pieces, and about how they are just a general pain in the ass. But then these people would buy more IKEA items. And I was like, well why do they do that? Then we decided to kill time by wandering around a store. Wow. They have some nifty stuff. Their furniture is very modern and fun (although pretty much everything we sat on was uncomfortable), and some of their shelving ideas would be perfect for us and our media collections. Better yet was their textile section, as I found a pair of curtains I may simply have to purchase and base a room around, and I found a bedspread which, while not at all matching the purple color scheme in my own bedroom, could find a nice place in the spare room. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to sleep under a lime green body outline? If I would have had a bigger suitcase and/or would have been driving home instead of flying? I would have purchased a ton o’ stuff there.

10) While I enjoy visiting California, I would really never want to live there, especially in one of the metropolitan areas. The only advantage to being there? On Tuesday afternoon, I was on the beach with my feet in the water. On Wednesday, we landed in Omaha to below freezing temperatures and snow. God, I hate winter. But yet I’m still here, so what does that say.

We flew back into Nebraska on Wednesday evening, and I ended up taking Thursday off as well just to recuperate (the motel beds were extraordinarily uncomfortable, so sleeping was not very restful, I have motion sickness which makes flying a joy, I had been having headaches for most of the week from the stuffy car and the stuffy hospital, and we didn’t actually walk into the house until 1:30 on Thursday morning – I would have been fairly useless at work). My dad then came into town on Friday for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, which was a great performance. We bummed around a little bit on Saturday during the day, hitting Homer’s and Target, then he left in the early afternoon. And shortly after he left, I had more company, as my old college friend Chuck was in town with his band, and they were crashing at my place. I hadn’t seen him in around nine years, so it was very fun to get toge
ther. His band mates seem very nice as well. We went to their show, and luckily they played first, because the IB’s mom and brother stayed a few extra days and he had to pick them up at the airport, so he left right after their set. They took off this morning, but he’s planning to come up for another show in April. While I was glad to see him and my dad, I’m also glad that I’ll have a little downtime now after that hectic week. And, thanks to Martin Luther King and his dream, I have tomorrow off as well, so I should have adequate time to regroup.

And, finally, while we were tooling around California listening to KROQ (which was playing a much better selection of music than when we had been in the area for Coachella last year), Modest Mouse’s “Dashboard” came on the radio, and I went “Goddammit! I meant to put that album on my Best of 2007 list! Dammit, dammit, dammit!” So, feel free to insert “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank” in the list, we’ll say around number 5. (I know! I forgot an album that was that high in my ranking! Well, I guess I did the same last year too…).

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