A mellow yellow two-fer! My step-dad took these pictures in April 2011, near Randsburg, CA, at the western edge of the Mojave Desert, literally in the middle of nowhere.
6:15 am: Wake up against my will. I refuse to acknowledge that I’m awake. I go back to sleep.
8:45 am: Much better. Shall I do the Reyn for breakfast? I’m not awake enough to make a decision. I turn on the computer and conduct morning house-sitting duties.
9:00 am: Check email, catch up on blogs, and pretend to ignore the nearly-empty Famous Amos cookie bag, that devil.
9:45 am: Edit “Noncation, Day 3.” I read about my leftover veggie burger and remember that I have leftovers from last night in the fridge! Score! Maybe I’ll do the Reyn for lunch, if I feel up to eating out alone.
12:30 pm: Really want the Reyn; really don’t want to eat alone. I used to have a friend I’d lunch with all the time, but I had to cut her loose. It would be nice to call her today. Then I remember why I fired her and the feeling passes. I think my former sister-in-law (FSIL) might be home today, so I text her and ask if she’s free. She’s currently waiting for her husband (HH) to pick her up from work, otherwise she’s available. I invite them both to lunch. Yay!
1:00 pm: Meet FSIL & HH at the Reyn. We have a most enjoyable lunch. They’re adorable.
2:00 pm: HH goes to work, which is only a few blocks away. He’ll pick up FSIL at my parents’ house after work. FSIL asks for help with a quick school paper. I happily oblige.
3:30 pm: Chat for several hours with FSIL. I’ve known her since she was 4; she is now 26. She’s been married for a year and is expecting her first child in January. She works part-time at a preschool and attends Pacific Oaks College, a very prestigious private teaching college. I’m so proud of her.
My favorite part of our chat starts with, “If I have a girl you’ll have to teach me how to braid!” I had the same dilemma with my first pregnancy. The fanciest thing I did with my hair was pull it into a ponytail, and I was having a biracial child: what was I going to do if I had a girl? FSIL isn’t exactly a hair wizard either. Fortunately I did have a girl, and I’ve learned a few tricks in the 19 years since she was born. Plus there are plenty of other women in FSIL’s life who can help. She’ll know for sure if she needs hair-wrangling lessons next month when she has her ultrasound. It’s scheduled for the day of her first wedding anniversary. How precious is that!
5:00 pm: Mom calls. They are in Chowchilla, CA, about 275 miles away. They’ll be home tonight around 11pm, so I can go home whenever I’m ready. Are you kidding me?! They’re going to drive 6 hours after a full day of driving and walking and sight-seeing? I strongly urge them to reconsider, and assure Mom I won’t leave until they’re home. FSIL shakes her head and laughs at my parents, the intrepid road warriors.
8:00 pm: I bring home dinner from Bobby’s, a small burger stand a few blocks away. Their tacos and fries are amazing. FSIL, HH, Joe, and I watch the Olympic opening ceremonies together. Mom calls again. Rob says they’ll stay another night if I’m willing to stay another night. Of course! Please don’t drive home tonight!
11:30 pm: Opening ceremonies are over. Everyone is gone. Nighttime house-sitting chores are done. Kitchen light is on. Nightie-night!
7:00 am: Wake up against my will. No one has called. It’s freezing! These mornings sure are cold for summer. The weatherman assures me temperatures will be up in the 100’s (Fahrenheit, upper 30’s Celsius) by next week. Yuck. I’d rather have the cold mornings.
8:30 am: Actually get out of bed. I need to eat and take supplements before I get dopey again. I remember some multicolored eggs in the fridge that I purchased at a farmer’s market last week.
Waffles sound good, too, but cleaning a waffle iron does not. Thin crepe-like pancakes it is. I use a 1/4 cup scoop because I can’t find the 1/2 cup scoop. I open the box of pancake mix and find the 1/2 cup scoop. Oh look! Some small moths found it first! Clever little turds So much for pancakes. Fortunately I also bought a loaf of garlic sourdough bread from the farmer’s market. Toast it is!
9:00 am: Check Facebook and email while I eat. The garlic sourdough is strong. Good thing I’m alone.
10:00 am: Post “Noncation, Day 2” blog. I try to fix the glaring hot spot in the picture of my parents. It doesn’t work. I search the internet for a picture of my laptop skin. No luck. I manage to take a decent one myself for the first time ever.
Pictures from John’s prom and cherry picking last month distract me. I have the prom photos edited and saved,
but not cherry picking. It must be done immediately. There is no good reason for this but I give in to my ADOS anyway and work on the pictures.
ADOS – Attention Deficit Ooo Shiny
12:20 pm: Memory card is cleared. All pictures have been edited and saved elsewhere. I feel better now.
1:20 pm: Famous Amos cookies and milk for lunch. I find an email from Esther about a guy who needs editors for an on-line literary review he’s launching, called the museum of americana. He’s looking for slave labor. I’m so on it.
2:30 pm: Sahara is sitting on the chair in front of my computer. She meows at me when I approach. I lift her up and put her on the floor. She jumps on the table and walks on my laptop keys, trying to destroy my latest blog post, still meowing. I put her on the floor again. She jumps on my lap, still meowing. I’ve never seen her so vocal. I start to stand up, but she refuses to jump down. What is wrong with this cat? She finally jumps down, only to spring right back up onto my newly vacated chair and start meow again. Okay okay, I know when I’m beat. I clean off another chair containing my purse and laptop case to pull up to the table, but no sooner is the chair clear than Sahara jumps from her chair to this one and proceeds to bathe herself, purring away, completely satisfied. Unbelievable. I text Shelly: “Your crazy cat just asked me for a chair!”
3:00 pm: Succumb to a sugar coma.
6:30 pm: Wake up from my sugar coma. I flip on the computer and read an article about how sugar ages your skin. I swear off sugar.
7:25 pm: Realize I forgot to feed Shelly’s fish. It’s the first thing on my list of morning house-sitting duties. Fail!
7:27 pm: Find a spelling mistake on yesterday’s blog post. Epic fail!
7:30pm: Talk Joe into taking me to a restaurant called The Only Place in Town for dinner. I call Drew to ask if he’s eaten. He says he has. I don’t believe him. He’ll live on popcorn and birthday cake if I let him. He says he had popcorn (see!) and Wing Stop (chicken…okay, that’s better). Now if I would please excuse him, he’s in the middle of taking out the trash. I think I might faint.
8:30 pm: Shelly calls. They are in South Lake Tahoe, which is the California side of Lake Tahoe. (Nevada is on the other side.) Not too long before she called, she and Mom were laying on a bed in their hotel room watching TV. Mom was propped up on pillows at the top, Shelly was laying cross-wise at the foot. Mom got up, and the whole matress flipped up like a backwards murphy bed: the head of the mattress was near the ceiling and Shelly was at the bottom clinging on for dear life! They’re both still giggling as Shelly tells me the story.
I talk to Mom and ask about the rest of their day yesterday. She says by the time the car was done they’d had just about all they could take of Reno They headed to Virginia City, NV, an old silver mining boom town from the 1800s. It was hot. Uphill. Miserable. They walked through town, then hightailed it back their hotel in Carson City, NV, to recover in their air-conditioned room. They spent today at Lake Tahoe, which is much cooler and beyond beautiful. Tomorrow they’ll head to Columbia, CA, an old gold mining boom town turned tourist trap…I mean, tourist “destination.” Sarcasm aside, it’s really a nice place to visit.
9:00 pm: Feed Sahara. She’s waiting for me. She now understands that I’m here to serve her.
10:00 pm: Joe sends me a text from home. Drew has indeed taken out the trash AND fed the cat. He must want something.
12:00 am: Conduct my nightly house-sitting duties. Leave a kitchen light on. Go to sleep.
1:00 am: Sahara is trying to hog the bed. I remember a trick Rob taught me to make her go away: pretend to sneeze. I literally say the word, “Ah-choo!” and she bolts out of the room like a bat out of hell. I have the room to myself for the rest of the night.
8:20 am: Wake up against my will. First the house phone rings, now my cell phone is ringing. It’s Shelly. Shocker. “Dad wants to know if you felt the earthquake?”
“When was it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, okay then, I’ll let you go back to sleep.”
I drag myself out of bed and turn on the computer. There was a 3.0 magnitude earthquake in Marina del Rey around 3am this morning. Can you even feel a 3.0 magnitude? Apparently so, because my friend and former coworker, Kelly, is complaining on Facebook about all the stupid phone calls she got at work. Better you than me, my friend!
8:30 am: Notice a new voice mail message from Jess. She and John left for their fishing trip today. She just called to say good-bye and she loves me, and she can’t say more because she’ll start crying. Oh brother.
8:35 am: Perform my morning house-sitting duties. I unblock and unlock the cat door, then check Sahara’s water. The food is gone. You’ll recall that she didn’t show up when I fed her last night, nor did she come in for the night…where the hell did her food go?! Maybe a window upstairs is open where she can sneak in.
9:00 am: Can’t decide if I want to walk down to the Reyn this morning or not. I’m hungry now, so I heat up half of a veggie burger leftover from last night. I read through my email, check Facebook, and catch up on blogs that I follow. I notice my toes are frozen, which is strange because my feet are never cold. I don’t even remember the last time I wore socks, but I happen to have a pair so I pull them on. I can’t walk across the kitchen floor in them.
9:10 am: Shelly calls on the house phone again. They’re at a Nissan dealership in Reno, NV, because their fuel pump died. It’s difficult to get to: their whole back seat has been removed and all of their luggage and assorted trunk crap are piled next to the car. They have at least two hours to kill until the car is ready. This isn’t the first time they’ve had to take their car in for work on vacation. It might not even be the second.
I tell Mom about the cat food. She asks Rob if there’s a window open upstairs. Yes, he says, but there’s a screen on it. I check it myself. The screen’s intact. What manner of rabid critter came in and ate the cat’s food? And how? Am I lucky to be alive? It’s too much for my brain to comprehend right now.
9:30 am: The veggie burger was insufficient. I need to go to the Reyn. Since it’s so close I really should walk. I even have new sneakers. And socks!
I can’t convincing myself to walk. I’m can’t even convince myself to go, really. I should take a shower. I can’t convince myself to take a shower. WTH is going on with me this morning? It’s too cold for a shower. There’s a heater in the bathroom. I need my laptop. I need water. Walking back-and-forth through the house has me warmed up. I finally take a shower.
10:30 am: Can’t seem to organize my thoughts. Should I go to the Reyn or not? Should I walk or not? Of course I should walk, duh. Should I wear a dress today? A dress would be nice, but then oh then I can’t…I can’t…shoes. I can’t wear sneakers. If I wear a dress. Jeans. I can wear sneakers with jeans and walk. Yes, I should walk. Why do I feel so dopey? Do I even
11:00 am: want to go to the Reyn? Yeahhhh theyhavewi-fi. Laptop! I should charge it. Lay down a sec. Gotta finish getting dressedooh I forgot to send someone my blog address walkin’ ‘cross the housez me winded…
Wait a minute…why am I winded? Iron! Good grief, I’ve let myself get anemic again. No wonder I’m having issues.
11:30 am: Drive to the Reyn for a proper breakfast. Vitamins and supplements come with me. The eggs today remind me of my grandmother’s. Even my coffee cup looks like something out of her house.
12:00 pm: Publish “Noncation, Day 1.” Compose “Noncation, Day 2.” I wonder if I should be drinking coffee, seeing as it might block my iron absorption. Psh! I’m at a coffee shop; how can I not have coffee?
Something o’clock pm: Still feeling funky, though not as bad as this morning. I can form complete thoughts in the present, but the past looks like this:
I remind myself to keep taking iron until my body says stop, which it will eventually, but has not yet. At some point Jess texts me that John is already being an ass. By the time I respond he’s treating her like a princess. Gotta love young adults. She leaves one more voice mail just before they set sail. Joe and I have dinner at Daphne’s (Greek-ish, healthy-ish). I catch the tail end of my favorite show, So You Think You Can Dance. I feed the cat. She looks startled. Joe leaves. House-sitting duties happen. I crash into bed.
7:30 am: Wake up against my will: Shelly is calling on the house phone. They are at a rest stop outside of Mammoth Lakes, CA. Their car won’t go more than 30 mph uphill, so Rob is replacing the coils.
8:00 am: Might as well start my day. Shelly’s shower has a neat “mist” setting, but I can’t figure out the hot water. (Bathroom renovations were a DIY project, so the hot water situation is tricky.) I head to my parents’ bathroom for a normal shower. I count 4 bottles of shampoo, 3 bottles of conditioner, and a bottle of men’s 3 in 1 body wash/ shampoo/ conditioner, or /moisturizer, or /whatever. Mom’s hair is buzz-cut and Rob’s isn’t much longer, so why they need so many wet-hair products is beyond me.
9:00 am: Head out to breakfast with my laptop. I try to pull yesterday’s pictures off my camera’s memory card, but I freeze my beloved computer. I imagine that it’s saying, in a very robotic voice, “Does not compute…does not compute…”
10:00 am: Start chatting with a friend.
1:00 pm: Finish chatting with a friend.
2:00 pm: Arrive at my own home to check on my offspring. I take Jess and John to pick up some last-minute odds and ends for the fishing trip. I invite them to dinner. We call Drew to invite him, too. He’ll come, but Jess and John didn’t tell him they were leaving and now he’s upset. Normally, that would make him happy. Looks like PMS today.
PMS: Pre-Manhood Syndrome. It’s the same as female pre-menstrual syndrome only cheaper, cramp-free, and less predictable.
3:00 pm: Meet with my coach, Claire. Coaching is hard to summarize, but I’d say Claire is a mentor who helps me move forward when my life feels stuck. An early session went something like this:
Claire – If you didn’t have any worries and could do anything in the world, what would you do?
Me – I’d go back to school and become a writer.
Claire – Go back to school. Become a writer.
It wasn’t that simple, but you get the idea.
4:30 pm: Compose “Noncation, Day 1” blog post. I resolve the problem with the photos. I realize I haven’t taken any new ones today. Bummer.
6:30 pm. Arrive back at my parents’ house. Shelly sends me a picture of the folks from her phone:
I text back, “They’re still smiling! Good job, Shell!”
7:30 pm. Dinner at Robin’s BBQ. The food is marginal and the service is worse. I remember thinking the same thing last time we ate here. I decide not to eat here again. Someone at another table orders the Big Messy Sundae. It’s a huge dessert goblet dunked in hot fudge, rolled in pecans, and filled with a half quart of ice cream, more fudge, and whipped cream. John’s jaw drops to the floor. I decide I might come back, but only for dessert.
9:45 pm: Braid Jess’s hair into two tight French braids so she won’t have to bother with it on the trip. I haven’t fed the cat yet. Usually she’s at her dish crying by now.
10:30 pm: Joe takes everyone home. Peace and quiet at last!
11:30 pm: Put wet food in Sahara’s dish. I bang on it hard with the spoon so she can hear it wherever she is, but she’s a no-show.
12:00 am: Conduct my pre-bedtime duties. I see Sahara outside, so I try to coax her in. She stares at me like I’m a monkey, then gracefully ducks under Rob’s car. My instructions are to lock the cat door and block it with a huge rice container whether Sahara is in or out. I guess she’s out tonight.
12:30 am: Crawl into bed. I only leave one kitchen light on this time, but I fall asleep with the TV on.
My parents and sister are on vacation for a few days, so I’m house-sitting. I’m happy to do it because this is as close as I’ll get to a vacation of my own. Sadly, I’m here 6 days a week anyway, so it’s not even close to a vacation, or even a stay-cation for that matter: this is a “non-cation.”
If I was on vacation, I would keep a journal. So this week, while they are out having fun, I’m documenting my Noncation.
8:30 am: Wake up completely against my will. My sister, Shelly, is already texting me. “The list is on the fridge.” My instructions for the coming week: feed the fish in the morning, feed the cat at night, feed the turtle someday.
“Ok. You guys gone?” Of course they are. My step-dad, Rob, insists on leaving for any vacation at the crack of dawn.
“Yeah, we are near Tuna Canyon.” Only 20-30 minutes away. Rob must be getting soft in his old age.
“Oh you just left. Have Fun! Remember to be mature!” I won’t put Shelly’s business on the Internet, but trust me, this last instruction is crucial.
9:30 am: Jess stumbles out of bed. “Mom, I’m hungry!” Me, too, so we get dressed and head to The Reyn Coffee Shop for our favorite cheap breakfast.
I want to take more pictures but I feel rude. I wish I had my notebook with me, so I can take notes on what I’m thinking and observing right now. OMG, I’m a real writer!
The new owner chats with us about recent problems he’s having with the kitchen staff. The chef doesn’t want to make any of the changes he proposes. He needs a new server and would like to promote the dishwasher, but she wants nothing to do with it. I tell him Jess needs a job. He smiles and suddenly no hablas Ingles. Esta bien, por que no hablo Español either. I love this little coffee shop. It’s one of my happy places.
11:00 am: Take Jess and her laundry to her boyfriend John’s house. They are preparing for a 3-day tuna fishing trip in San Diego, a gift from John’s grandpa. It’s an opportunity she may never get again. I hope she doesn’t kill John. That would be so rude.
12:00 pm: Go home. Jess is taking her brother, Drew, to see a movie at 6:00, so I will bide my time until she calls for my taxi services again.
5:00 pm: No word from Jess. I call; she’s not taking Drew to the movies. He’s decided to go by himself at 10:30 pm. Like hell. I tell him so. He’s not happy. I don’t care.
5:30 pm: Pick up a basket of laundry & its owner from John’s house. I drop them off at home and make sure Jess and Drew are set for the night.
6:00 pm: Arrive at my parents’ house. Let the noncation begin!
7:30 pm: Swanky dinner at Sizzler with my roommate, Joe. Phillip the cashier compliments my strawberry toes. Says his grandma would love them.
9:30 pm: Start my own laundry and plop down in front of a computer.
I grew up in this house, and it always scared me to be alone in it at night. It’s over 100 years old, creaky and crumbly. When I was young my bedroom was on the 2nd floor, and when everyone else was asleep I’d imagine an axe murderer wandering around downstairs. Even as a teenager and young adult, I always worried that someone was trying to break in somewhere. I had to turn on every light in the house, and conduct frequent window and door checks. I’m almost 40 now. Every light is on. Window and door checks are conducted frequently.
9:31 pm: Kids call to tell me they miss me. They are 19 and 14. Joe is home now. I am only 15 minutes away. They’re ridiculous.
11:00 pm: Kids call again to tell me they miss me.
12:30 am: Finally too sleepy to care about burglars and axe murderers. I drag myself around for one last window and door check, perform evening house-sitting chores, and decide which lights to leave on all night. I chose the laundry room and kitchen.
12:45 am: Kids call again to tell me they miss me.
1:00 am: Finally fall asleep, despite interference from Shelly’s cat, Sahara.
This is a display of Dire Wolf skulls at the George C. Page Museum, part of the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, CA. I took this about a year ago during a family day trip.
My parents are famous for their road-tripping adventures. We grew up driving to far-flung places at least an hour off the beaten path. It might have been a plant nursery that sold unusual succulents. It might have been a small-town park hosting a pow-wow or craft fair. Maybe it was a place that should’ve been a ghost town, but was still surviving somehow. It was usually dusty, even if we never left the pavement. However long it took to get to our dusty destination, it always took several hours to get home, often via Route 66.
In comparison, our day in Hancock Park was quite cosmopolitan. We perused the Page Museum, strolled the tarry park, had a very international lunch from the trucks lining Wilshire Blvd., meandered through public art exhibits, and generally enjoyed a perfect Southern California day. Dust-free.