Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My brush with Mitt

I somehow found myself at presidential candidate Mitt Romney's La Jolla beach house last week. 

I can't really explain how it happened. I get this baby shower invite in the mail a while ago for a girl whose name I don't recognize. Facebook sleuthing revealed it was a nice, beautiful, pregnant girl from my ward with whom I've had one actual conversation. I assumed it was a hey-let's-make-the-newish-girl-feel-welcome gesture, and I was happy to take the bait. I got a little gift and couldn't find an attractive box  to wrap it in, so I ended up sticking it an empty garbage bag box before wrapping it up with paper and ribbon, figuring it would do the job and get a laugh when she unwrapped it. The day of the shower I looked up the address on Google Earth, figuring it would be somewhere in the ward boundaries. The satellite image revealed a mansion in a neighborhood full of mansions with the La Jolla beach as its backyard. I start feeling like maybe I should've gone with the empty Cheerios box instead.

I park the car a few blocks away thinking I'll be able to navigate the narrow streets better on foot. As the sound of the ocean crashing into the beach gets louder, the houses get bigger, and I'm seeing other girls with gifts approaching. Really beautiful girls. In dresses. And I'm starting to sweat pretty bad in my battered canvas Airwalks and wishing I'd gotten a haircut so that my do was less reminiscent of a 13-year-old boy miscreant, which is coincidentally also sort of how I had dressed for the affair. 

I walk in with one of the beautiful guests and tuck my trash bag box gift way back behind all of these adorably wrapped gifts that undoubtedly contain the most en vogue onesies anyone has ever beheld. The house is spacious, though not the enormous mansion you might expect, and lovely and filled with family photos I don't take much notice of. What I do take notice of are the millions of beautiful girls that I do not know. Finally I spot a familiar face, another girl from the ward who whispers to me, "Do you know whose house this is?" Suddenly the patriarch's face in all the family photos jumps out. Sure enough. It's our pal, Mitt. And let me tell you, this guy's got a sensational view from his back patio. But the faucet in his guest bathroom is a little tough to figure out. 

In case you don't believe me, as I expected you might, I took a couple of sneaky photos with my phone. 

You always wonder how you will react to a brush with fame. Turns out I'm one of those creepy people who takes sneaky photos and posts them on the Internet. Did we expect anything more from me? Mitt's two super-chic daughters-in-law who were hosting the shindig probably saw me take them and thought, "Ugh. Why did we have to invite these plebeians? She probably wrapped her present in a trash bag box."

Isn't it great when stereotypes are right?


A good time was had by all

My folks came to visit. 

They left miserable, pouring rain weather in Idaho Falls and found us happily basking in the California sun surrounded by these beautiful purple flowering trees that are all over the place and decided it would be OK if we stayed here and converted our garage into an apartment for them. 

To honor my parents' 29th anniversary we went to the USS Midway again. Because nothing will make two people fall in love all over again like a flight simulation of a fighter plane dogfight that flips you upside down and stuff.

We discovered Coronado, glorious Coronado, together and enjoyed it immensely. This isthmus (say that five times fast), which I mistakenly thought was an island because we drove over this gigantic bridge over the ocean to get to it, has earned many illustrious honors, such as the second best beach in the United States, the Great American MainStreet Award, home to Scott Weiland and also that lady bassist for the Talking Heads, and, U.S. News and World Report named it one of the most expensive places to reside in the U.S. 
I don't know what the No. 1 beach in the United States is, but it must be pretty phenomenal because Coronado beach is essentially perfect — clean, soft sand, nice water, fun waves, surfers. Jethro, who is afraid of more things than he isn't afraid of (washing his hair, the tree by our front door, stray cornflakes that stick to the corner of his mouth, etc.) surprised me by running, screaming and laughing, headlong into waves that were taller than he was. I believe he had the time of his short life. We actually went back the next day after Sea World was a bust. (We payed the $12 for parking and after 20 minutes of crawling through the totally full parking lot with about 400,000 other spot-seeking vehicles, decided that endeavor would only end in misery and exited the parking lot. Our example was immediately followed by at least five other vehicles.) Our second time to the Coronado beach we were better prepared with our swimming suits. Dad and Jake shed their shirts and dove into the waves like beautiful, glistening, albino dolphins. It was breathtaking. No photos of it, unfortunately. I had my hands full trying to keep Jethro from joining them. 

We introduced the folks to "Toy Story 3", the ending of which always makes Jethro get teary-eyed when Andy drives away, which, in turn always makes us teary-eyed. I would've thought 2.5 years is too young to be emotionally moved by film, but my child is more sensitive and perceptive than any other child that ever lived probably.  

Other highlights:
I got us lost an average of two times each day. Dad broke one of my guitar strings, bought me new strings, then broke one of my bridge pins trying to change them, so he bought me new bridge pins, too, and then changed the strings with my new *black* bridge pins, which look very sleek and stealthy. He also adjusted the action on the neck of the guitar and it plays very well, Dad, thank you. And Grandma made it the best few days Jethro's ever had in his life by being his constant enthusiastic playmate. Seriously, though, sitting through church with those two I felt like I had two 2-year-olds to reign in. And Mom was the worse-behaved of the two. 

The boys head to the pool.
Balboa Park.
I unfortunately didn't get any pictures, but we also hit up the sort of creepy Kobey's Swap Meet held every weekend in the Sports Arena parking lot. An odd crowd, but I guess you assume that going into any swap meet. Mom and I both had our astrological signs involuntarily analyzed by an awfully talkative older gentleman, who abruptly left when my dad walked over. My biggest regret of the outing: not purchasing the life-sized cardboard Jean-Luc Picard we spotted leaning against a chain link fence. Dad bought me a very nice straw hat there:
Jake said it made me look a little like Chuck Mangione.
But I keep insisting that it's more Neil Young.

Thanks Mom and Pop. We loved having you. You should come back just as soon as your backs recover from sleeping on our futon. 


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Birch Aquarium

The morning before Mother's Day we're eating banana muffins prepared by Jethro and yours truly in our pajamas, and Jake's like, "How would you guys like to go to the aquarium today?" and I said, "Hells yeah!" And that was the last bad word I'll ever say in front of Jethro because I want to raise my children in the same profanity-free environment I was raised in. (Harharhar.) But seriously, I'm really trying, so don't anybody suggest an activity as awesome as the Birch Aquarium to me if my son is within earshot.

When I was a child I really wanted to be a marine biologist, which is so d*** funny to me now. I can scarce imagine a career I'd be worse at, as evidenced by me screaming in the tidepool exhibit when I reached in the water to touch a sea urchin and a single one of its tiny tentacles stuck to my fingertip. I blame "The Little Mermaid" and "Splash" entirely for my several-years-long obsession with making my future livelihood unduh duh sea.
A seahorse (they mate for life, did you know that?) and a startling disembodied human arm cleaning the sand.
Although I am pretty certain that if I someday become a kajillionaire I will have installed in my kick-a** mansion a blacklight jellyfish aquarium. You're all invited to the unveiling.
Jethro has in the last few months adopted his mother's tendency to gasp really dramatically when encountering anything he finds exciting. For him these things range from stop signs and fire hydrants to the following:
For me, this lionfish was gasp-worthy:
Because do you remember who else has a lionfish? That's right. Captain Jean-Luc Picard in his office.

Q and Picard's lionfish, Livingstone.
Then there was this fish-less exhibit all about how you're killing the environment pretty much just by being alive. As evidenced by Jake's expression we were sobered and disgusted with ourselves.
Jethro and I delivered a sobering newscast on wildfires or something.
And Jethro found this sobering learning device more exciting than seahorses. KNOBS AND BUTTONS!!! OMG!!!!
But I loved you, seahorses, with your good posture and your curly tails and your mating for life and your males-having-the-babies. I hope to visit you again. Almost certainly before Jethro's third birthday so that we don't have to spend $8.50 on a ticket for him. Yikes.