Coming to the California Coast

Day 41.  Friday, Dec. 1, 2006. One more day and I’ll be at the “meaning of life” milestone.  Cool.  Friday, we hit bad traffic but still managed to get to the airport in reasonable time to wait in enough lines to make our plane but fly in the “cattle car” portion of the plane.  As we sat in the Airline Club lounge before takeoff, we saw news shows proclaiming ever increasing airport delays: 2 hours and 45 minutes in
Philadelphia.  Up to 3 hours in
Chicago.  One hour 45 minutes at JFK…JFK!  That’s where we are!  But our particular plane left on time.  For awhile, we had a jolting ride but then the pilot flew higher and we got “over” the storm that blanketed the
Midwest from
Oklahoma to
Minnesota.  We arrived in
San Diego to the constant strains of the theme song: COP.  For those not in the know, COP stands for “Change Of Plans.”  Basically, everything is in flux all the time.  So long as one expects this…it is best thought of as a kind of Zen training.  Just as Inspector Clueless-seaux had his housekeeper Kato attack him at the most inopportune and unexpected moments in order to sharpen the inspector’s reflexes….so too, the most elaborately calculated-to-the-last millisecond plans are re-elaborated on the fly making everyone pretty much late to everything.  But, it does keep people from falling asleep in the driver’s seat.  Of course, this is
California, so even if everything were not re-calculated at the last minute, everyone would be late anyway.  Leaving aside the earthquakes, sandstorms, and brush-fires, there is the fact that everyone is always on the road at all hours of the day and night.  4 am?  No problem.  We can find a horde of drivers to accompany you on your parking lot speed journey on the 8-lane “super highway.”  Or, if you prefer, we can put various kinds of highway equipment on the one-lane back roads that you may try to take in your pathetic attempts to avoid the super-highway traffic jams.  It doesn’t matter.  Everyone in
California is in a giant cooperative endeavor to make everyone else late for everything.  But it doesn’t matter because everyone is always already on their mobile phone.  A typical conversation goes like this: “Hey, how are you?  Wait.  Can you hold on?  I’m getting another call.  Hello?  Oh, hi, it’s you!  Can I call you right back?  I’m on a call with…wait.  Can you hold on?  I just got another call.  Hello?  Oh, hi!  I was just going to call you!  Can you hold on?  I need to tell Joan I need to call her back because I’m on the phone with Jean.  Really?  You’re on hold with Jean too?  Wait.  I’m loosing you.  Darn.  I’ll call you back.  You can’t?  Okay.  I’ll call you later.  Jack?  Is that still you?”  Well, you get the picture.

Day 42, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2006. Morning came early and I went for a run which was a long, windy uphill to a view of the Pacific.  A few hours of lunching and munching and then — Party time!  The house (Wendy’s sister Cheryl’s) was beautifully decorated and the food was totally awesome including probably the best quesadillas and tuna sushi appetizers I ever had.  I had plenty of bubbly water and Martinelli’s to keep me happy.  Lots of wine was also had by many, but I don’t think anyone really got “wasted” as they say. There were pictures and videos aplenty.     

The presents for Joanne were finally opened and I wrote down who gave what for later reference to thank-you notes.  As we saw the assorted loot, however, we realized that putting all of that and our suitcases and backpacks and Wendy’s mom’s luggage in the Lexus trunk was going to require some sort of quantum mechanical solution.  We convinced Wendy’s sister Lynda to take some of the presents temporarily because we were to see her in a few days when trunks would be freer.  Unfortunately, when Lynda neared her house, the family was prevented from driving into the complex because of fire.  Seventy mile an hour
Santa Ana winds were spreading fire everywhere.  Five houses in the neighborhood were destroyed, but in the end, Lynda’s house was okay and we are supposed to eat there in a few days.

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