No. No to the Bruins.

27 04 2009

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

That’s what “vacation” sounds like. As for what “vacation” looks like, it goes a little something like this…

Mark

Well, sort of. That’s little-brother-Mark on the mound at Jackie Robinson Stadium at UCLA! Friday night’s game was a bit on the chilly side – I suppose my blood has gotten south-of-the-Mason-Dixon-line thin in the past couple years – but Saturday dawned sunny, breezy, and warm! PERFECT baseball-watching weather! And very “southern California.” But despite the fact that I took in two baseball game in 2-1/2 days, baseball was NOT the only theme of the weekend.

Thursday night my First Friend and her fantastic husband (and their little Pierce-baby-to-be!) picked Cousin-Katie and me up at LAX (a place I would visit on EVERY single day of my short trip… NOT what “vacation” looks like). We picked up some quick-casual tacos and went on to the Sicking homestead. We all stayed up too late (especially Carie and Steve who had to catch a flight to St. Louis at 6:30 a.m.) chatting and laughing and guessing about Baby Pierce and Baby Sicking, both of whom will debut late this summer!

On Friday morning, I woke up early (stupid East Coast time) and took my coffee outside on the patio while I worked on my homework for writing class. We did a drive-by at Carie and Steve’s house, which is just wonderful! And coincidentally has Kristen’s Perfect Yard: big patio, narrow (about lawn-mower width!) strip of grass along the fence, orange tree smack in the middle. Nice. Then Cousin-Katie and I took of to LAX: Part Deux in the least expensive rental car ever (aka: Carie’s car). We picked up Mom and Dad and after a 45-minute detour the wrong way on Sepulveda (which apparently holds the Guinness World Record for being the longest municipal street in the world – 43 miles long) and a stop-off at the wrong hotel (sigh) we got down to the purpose of our weekend: 1) see Mark, 2) In-N-Out Burger, 3) UCLA Bookstore!!! Those of you who know me well, will understand the joyous glee I get from visiting college bookstores. Of course my Duck pride prohibited me from purchasing anything in that sickly baby-blue color – *shudder* – a distaste that is not exclusive to me, and prompted the Quote of the Day, courtesy of Aunt Dona (also a U of O alum – Go Ducks!) via text message: “No. No to the Bruins.”

Then on to the baseball field – very much an afterthought to the UCLA campus. (semi-unrelated sidenote: What incredible medical facilities they have… right there on main campus! Wow.) We had to leave campus, cruise a-ways on Wilshire Blvd, turn onto (yet again) Sepulveda Blvd, pass the Los Angeles National Cemetery, under the (insanely and continuously traffic-y) San Diego freeway (I-405) and down an alley-esque partially-gravelled road until – BAM! There’s the baseball field. It was a chilly evening, and an icy final score for OSU, too. Luckily we hit up a liquor store on the way back to the house for reinforcements for the evening of story-telling and more fun with old friends.

Mark 7Saturday. The epitome of what a Southern California day should look/feel/be like. We had a delectable breakfast out on the sunny patio. (Probably THE BEST thing about California… there are NO BUGS… Anywhere… Of any kind… It’s truly amazing.) Cousin-Katie and I did a drive-by the old house on Kiowa Lane, and of course to gawk at “The Castle” on the corner. Yikes. As we turned left onto Magnolia Ave, I told Katie to start counting and stop when she saw ocean… she got to about “4.” Uh-huh. That’s how close I might still be living to the ocean, had we never left Huntington Beach. Still a little hard to get over!

Mark 3

Saturday night’s baseball game was INFINITELY better than Friday’s. For one thing, OSU won! But even more important and more significant was that Mark pitched great! And he had quite a fan-base pulling for him out there: Kristen, Cousin-Katie, Katie’s friend Kelly, Mom, Dad, Jan, Paul, Danny, Kaitie, and Baby-Sicking-to-be! Not too shabby!

After the game, we went BACK to LAX (trip #3 in 3 days) to drop Dad off at the rental car lot before heading “home” to Fountain Valley for a dinner party with the old crew. Old photos, new stories, delicious tamales and homemade salsas… it just doesn’t get much better than this.

Sunday morning brought bagels and OJ – wait for it – on the patiooooo! Mom and Dad would leave me at the airport on their way to the rubbermatch game. For being such a busy airport, LAX is kind of an old, fairly grimy place. But the rest of my long California weekend more than makes up for the aesthetics of its initial welcome and farewell.

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Doing Something

12 04 2009

The time has come for me to “do something” about writing. It was recently brought to my attention (by my brilliant and sometimes frustratingly omniscient Mother!) that I need to do something other than PT. Well, something in ADDITION to PT… because naturally, National City Mortgage, Verizon and Comcast aren’t particularly keen on not being paid every month. The educational system is quite different in Atlanta in that there is no Portland Community College class catalog mailed to the house every quarter. It took some online searching and researching to locate something similar. It’s Emory University’s Center for Lifetime Learning. There is a multitude of educational opportunities, from a one-day home-staging seminar to 6-week sailing classes. And I’m very interested in only about 73 of their offered classes!

I narrowed my focus to those classes that run for 4-6 weeks… with my ultimate reasoning being almost purely financial: $140 for a one-day seminar, or $140 for four or six weeks of classes? Easy decision. Except that 61 of my favorite-sounding 73 classes run for 4-6 weeks.

My Top Five: Travel Writing, Beginning Guitar, Sailing, Freelance Writing, and French I.

As I pondered and weighed out pros and cons of the various classes, my list was further depleted by “Class Full” notifications on the website. I’m reminded of the old adage about the early bird… While French I would be very interesting, it’s not exactly an every-day-use sort of skill. (but maybe someday, fingers crossed!) Travel writing and Guitar were full (DRAT!) and I sort of chickened out on Sailing. So, on Monday evening I will be on the Emory campus, back in a classroom, sitting in my Freelance Writing class!!!

*Completely unrelated and random side note: OH HOLY HELL – THESE ARE THE EAR-PIERCINGLY WHINIEST TRIO OF CHILDREN IN THE HISTORY OF THE NATURAL WORLD! And they all have the EXACT same high-pitched shrieking voice. All three of them. Triplets? Close enough. And wow, Dad has commanded incredible respect and authority over his children. “Emmett, stay here please.” As the child (Emmett, one would assume) makes a beeline across the Starbucks toward Mom, who has taken Bridget (who happens to be wearing yellow Belle Disney Princess dress-up high-heel shoes, which immediately makes her my favorite!) to the bathroom. I don’t think there was a single request, command, instruction with which any one of those kids complied. Though apparently the third child is the best behaved because I can’t recall hearing either parent calling his name, or telling him to stop, or reminding him which drink is his. That was the longest 20 minutes in Starbucks that I think any of us in here have ever spent.*

Back to my exciting prospects! The course description reads as follows: “Magazine and newspaper articles, ads, speeches, even greeting cards – variety is the essence and joy of freelancing. Learn writing tips that catch an editor’s eye, survival techniques, and the mysteries of marketing. Classes include shake-loose exercises and assignments.” It will be very interesting to see how it goes. I’m excited and a little bit nervous, but above all, very hopeful that this will be the first step toward finding my personal bliss!