The Sharks Were a No-Show

13 08 2012

It’s the time of year when the leopard sharks come to San Diego’s shores. I’ve always wanted to go and now I have an underwater camera so I pretty much have to go. Also, I think it’s good therapy fodder for when my kids are grown: “And this one summer? She made us SWIM. WITH. SHARKS.”


Only the sharks didn’t show up (my kids may or may not have been somewhat relieved). So instead we had to, like, just enjoy the beach or whatever. Meh.


Kidding. It was lovely. A tiny beach with clear water, a sunny day, excellent parking provided by the parking gods, and the water wasn’t even as frigid as usual (it was only slightly frigid). At one point I forced the kids to sit with my purse safely away from the waves while I took a short turn swimming by myself. It was either win or child neglect. One of those.

and then i made the kids sit with my stuff while i went to swim.

Days like this make me remember that I don’t hate the beach. Days like this even make me wish I owned a house on a beach. Days like this? Are totally weird. But wonderful.

goofy kids


In which Indiana Jones saves me from ritzy people.

4 08 2012

The day that I took Orangey the Orange Camera to the beach, I happened to be just around the corner from the Cave Store, so called because it has a cave. (La Jolla is not known for their creativity. They name all their streets La Jolla – I suspect to keep the ghetto people too confused to be there.)

I haven’t been to the Cave Store since I was in 5th or 6th grade and my mom took some of my friends and me there. And I have never been IN the cave because, dudes? Caves are scary. As a child I was convinced it was going to collapse on my head. As an adult I’m still pretty much convinced of that, but I’m better at distracting myself. Despite the fact that I’d been in the cave store, I’d all but forgotten about that cave until Bethany blogged about it.

True story – the first time I rode Indiana Jones and the Temple of DON’T LOOK MARA IN THE EYES OH MY GOD SOMEONE LOOKED MARA IN THE EYES WE’RE ALL FUCKED NOW, I was pretty much terrified of the queue. And it’s not even a real cave. It’s made with, like, engineering. And DISNEY engineering at that, so you KNOW it’s not going to collapse on you or that the booby traps are totally not actually going to hurt you. But I didn’t really believe that. Repeated exposure and the fact that sometimes the booby traps don’t even work anymore have gotten me to a point where I’m not scared at all in the queue for that ride anymore. Go me!

me, in a cave, not dying

So I figured I was brave enough to go in the Cave Store’s cave. And I was. With minimal anxiety. But I kept having this nagging feeling that I really wished Indiana Jones was there to save me. Just in case. Frankly, that could be a general rule in my life, actually. In the grocery store? “I wish Indiana Jones was here to save me. Just in case.” At park day? “I wish Indiana Jones was here to save me. Just in case.” In scary caves tucked away in impossibly ritzy beach neighborhoods? ESPECIALLY. It’s like Xanax, but way sexier.

sunny jim

All this to say that I took this picture from inside the cave, to compliment the picture I took a few years ago from outside the cave.

sunny jim from the outside

So, if you see Indiana Jones, can you tell him I need him? Kthx.

Dancing with Matt

3 07 2011

About a year ago Summer and I went to a Cake Wrecks books signing and met Jen and John. Yesterday we went to the beach and danced with Matt. We’ve decided that our new goal is to meet every internet celebrity, one by one. Which, now that I type it out, sounds really unlikely. But fun!

Quick digression: As we were walking all the damn way across Coronado (because the Fourth of July weekend + a hot day + the beach = no parking anywhere anywhere) and trying to corral two kids and also me across busy streets we naturally got to talking about Paris. It is a little scary to try to cross Parisian streets, and Summer recently accomplished this feat with 20 8th graders and survived (and so did the 8th graders). This conversation naturally led me to comment (again) on one of the things I was most struck by while watching Sherlock – I mean besides the fact that Sherlock Holmes and I totally have the same pillow. There is a scene (more than one, actually) in which someone hops in a cab that’s parked on the right side of the road and the cab darts between traffic all crazy-like onto the left side where it belongs and drives off like nothing unusual happened at all. I remember Douglas Adams writing about this once, and how he was shocked to get a ticket in the US for parking on the wrong side of the road. So I was relaying this to Summer with exaggerated emoting for humorous effect when a lady next to us piped up in an English accent and asked, “And what’s wrong with that?” My feet? Are DELICIOUS. She went on to accuse us Americans of crazy shit like making right turns on red lights so I guess we’re even, but note to self: never mock other cultures in public again. I mean, except for this paragraph. And a quick note to my English readers, I do not actually judge your culture for your parking habits. In truth, I merely poke affectionate fun at you. Feel free to return the gesture if that floats your boat.

So! Matt. We trudged across the sand to a giant crowd of people who’d gathered in the designated spot and who were murmuring things like “Matt” and “dance” and who were also wearing random strange headgear (presumably to spot themselves in the video easier). Matt was not there. But! He had kindly shared some notes with us regarding this gathering:

When you get to the spot, look for the guy who looks like the guy in the dancing video. Just come on over, say hello, and ask if I am Matt. If I’m not Matt, I will let you know.

Wearing distinctive clothing will make it easier to spot yourself in the video, but please do not dress as a licensed character (Mario, Spider-Man, Sarah Palin) or I will have to blur you and that will make everyone think you showed up naked or something. Also, please do not show up naked.

I did not notice anyone there naked, so this was clearly a group who followed directions very well. After a short wait, a dark-haired guy in sunglasses ran up to the crowd to a large round of applause. Speaking of mob mentality (because Summer was, actually), all it takes is for a few people to assume that every dark-haired guy in sunglasses is Matt for the rest of us to assume the first people know what they are talking about. They didn’t. But, true to his word, Matt informed us that he was not Matt. Only a moment later, another dark-haired guy in sunglasses, struggling with a large cooler, walked up to the crowd to very little applause. I guess we were jaded and suspicious by that point. Poor Matt.

And so we gathered into a big mob. There was a girl there with the most awesome bright orange hair I’d ever seen, two guys who Matt dubbed “Shirtless Guys”, and a bunch of goofy kids who bossed Matt around a lot. Well, and a bunch of other people, too. Matt set up the shot, made us give thumbs-up to the disclaimer, squeezed in to join us and we danced.

First we did Matt’s dance, and then we did a bunch of others. Turns out I fail at dancing. I mean, this really shouldn’t be a surprise to me, but it turns out even simple dances like The Swim are beyond me when you are supposed to do it in some kind of rhythm. I predict being fully embarrassed when this video is finished. Or possibly that the entire San Diego sequence will be cut because of me and I will become Hated.

The kids in the front row all took turns making up dances for us to do. Matt was seriously so awesome with all the kids. At one point a tiny two year old ran up and grabbed onto his leg and just held there – that’s pretty much how all the kids felt, I think. Elliott showed Matt how do do a “dance contest” which ended, unexpectedly, with falling down rather than a prize. But then most things Elliott does end with falling down. He is a big fan of the physical comedy.

Happy Thing: My Son Teaching Matt From the Internets How to Dance Contest

It was such an awesome afternoon, as are most when you meet internet-famous people. But the sun was shiny and we were within view of the Hotel Del and we were dancing and we were with a group of people who were just awesome (as you’d have to be to show up to dance for the internet). And the traffic off the “island” (because Coronado likes to call themselves an island but it is clearly a peninsula) wasn’t nearly as scary as it looked. Win!

So. Who should we meet next?

UPDATE! We didn’t make it into the actual video because we were upstaged by a stupid sea lion (and maybe because I danced so terribly that we got upstaged by a stupid sea lion), but you can catch bits and pieces of us in the outtakes.


7 01 2011

On New Year’s Eve, we tried that whole Haunted Limo thing again. This time it worked! Hooray! The only hitch was that originally we had a group of seven people, which would fit perfectly in the seven person limo they ordered for us, but then two more joined us late. Which made for a very crowded haunted limo. Luckily, after the first stop, the two young couples decided to lap-sit which made everything a lot more comfy for us, if not for them.

The Whaley House was closed that night (so was all of Old Town, it was very strange) so we didn’t go inside, but to make up for that, we got to attend a seance at some awesome old historic home. But we did stand on the porch of the Most Haunted House in San Diego and listen to some stories. And there I spied the shadow of a ghost on the door frame! Just kidding, it was the tour guide’s shadow.


Really the best part of this tour was the history. I had no idea that Wyatt Earp was linked to San Diego. Normally I have a strong aversion to cowboy-westerny things but now I’m curious to learn more about him. Our second stop was the hotel he used to stay in. This hotel, and another, were moved several blocks and combined into what is today known as the Horton Grand Hotel. Presumably formerly the Horton and the Grand, but I have a short attention span and kept forgetting to listen.

wyatt earp's room

hanuted rooms

It was here that I photographed a ghost. Apparently this is the ghost of Ida Bailey, San Diego’s most famous madam, who had her brothel in this spot before the hotels were moved here.  We were told she often hangs out on the stairs and that we should try snapping some photos. That’s not why I took the pictures, though – the staircase is just plain photo-worthy. As soon as I took the third one (and the only one relatively in focus) I saw the spot there on the stairs. She looks more blue and blobular now than in her photographs.  I did not notice the spots in the other two photos until I got home. While these might be simply light orbs, I’m choosing to go with the supernatural because it’s more exciting that way.




And then we had to drive over the bridge. On New Year’s Eve when the streets are simply teeming with drunk people and I had no easy way to jump out of the limo in case it flew off the bridge. Hello, anxieties! You will be happy to know I lived (or maybe you’d think it would be cooler if I was a ghost writing this. Sorry to disappoint you. Asshole).

But at the end of the bridge lies the Hotel Del which is possibly my favorite place in San Diego. I am no stranger to wandering the halls there and, in fact, as a teenager I’d lead my friends on my own haunted tours of the place, telling the story of Kate Morgan and showing off her room. There were no limos involved in my tours, although we did sometimes steal toiletries. On this tour we were not, technically, allowed to go exploring the hotel, but we were given a free fifteen minutes and the room number just in case we, er, were into breaking laws. And we totally were. Well, Summer and I were. I don’t honestly think anyone else left the lobby. Chickens.

ghost of the del

haunted room

Back across the bridge (picture a sped-up scene like that of the boys racing to and from the bullies in A Christmas Story), and to the seance. This was weird. There were candles on the table and we all held hands and invited spirits to join us. The candles flickered to answer, “yes.”  I’m not clear as to how they could do that, but I’m also not really buying it. I tried breathing hard to see if I’d make the candles flicker. It was unclear. Some random child ghost tried contacting Summer for no reason. Real helpful, child ghost.  Thanks.  The people across the table from me had lots of activity. Maybe they breathed heavier than I did.

seance candles

And then we drove up to Presidio Park, had some champagne to welcome in the New Year, and climbed to the top of a little building that has a pentagram tiled into the roof. There are no ghosts here, as far as I can remember, but we were told that witches (both “black and white” – and it took me a full minute to understand that he wasn’t talking about race) hold circles there. Indeed there were stumps of wax in the center. I was, at least, happy to hear him speak nicely of the “white” witches, and to clarify that they work in love only. I don’t really feel I fit into Wicca, but, being Pagan, I do feel related to them somehow and get defensive when people misunderstand. I am still having a hard time believing “black” witches exist in any form other than annoying teenagers.

new year's champagne

limo & the presidio

We crossed the street to the edge of the hill and were told a story of how Charlie the rainmaker came to San Diego in 1916 and gave more rain than was bargained for. Awesome. I mean. Not the flood and destruction part, but the fact that the city hired a rainmaker. Awesome. Apparently this flood was so powerful that all of Mission Valley – – was under water. And this caused the bank of the hill we were standing on to erode. And that hill? Happened to be a graveyard. Awkward.

Our last stop was the graveyard in Old Town where I tried once again to photograph orbs, but did not succeed. We did get a photo with the tour guide, though.

us & the tour guide

Happy New Year, Ghosts of San Diego!

Look at Me, I Am on a Boat

12 09 2010


Last night we took the kids on the Bahia Belle thanks to a Groupon. We’d been on this boat before, after prom. FTR, he took someone else and I went stag because I am just that awesome (that’s not sarcasm, that’s pride at my mad feminist skillz). Unfortunately, it turns out that being stuck on a boat for 3 hours in the middle of the cold night with about 30 other students who are mostly annoying is not really fun, so when I first proposed this trip to The Husband, he was dubious. But in this case, we were not stuck on the boat, it was only a one-hour trip, and there were no irritating classmates with unusual numbers of earlobes to ruin things. So we went and – yes! – it was fun. Because I am always right. (And humble.)

leaving the other boat behind

one boy


night falls



Bethany, Day 2

2 09 2010

In which I actually get only one photo of Bethany and none of Annalie. I think I must have a crush on Sonja and Noah or something.

sonja the photobomber

(Actually, after reviewing this photo, I KNOW I have a crush on Sonja.)

bethany and noah take pictures

Yesterday we met Bethany, Brenda, Sonja and their respective offspring in Old Town for lunch. I love Old Town. I don’t think I’ve ever had bad food in Old Town. I always love carne asada, but when I have it in Old Town, I wonder WTF I ever eat at Robertos. I also love the art and architecture and music in Old Town, and back in my gluteny days, I loved buying fresh tortillas handmade while you watch.

brenda & bug get pennies

After lunch the kids all got free candy and we wandered down into what Bethany refers to as Old Town Proper. I had to have her explain the meaning of that to me because, at least as far as I am aware, it’s not a term used in San Diego. I’ve heard it before, but thought it had to do with the East Coast or maybe Old Timey Times. San Diego is really boring when it comes to things like that. We could do with some more Fancy. So Old Town Proper it is. And while I’m at it, I don’t know what a Sound is, but I think it has to do with water. We have water. We want a Sound.

my boy climbed a tree!

Oh right. Old Town. I almost forgot. So we wandered briefly through the free museum in the center of the park and out into the grassy Square (which is more of a rectangle, so maybe that’s something Fancy I never even noticed?) where the kids climbed in trees, played ring around the rosy in a covered wagon (what? that’s normal.), and took turns twirling Annalie’s parasol (which I don’t actually have a picture of. It’s bright orange. You can imagine it).

ring around the rosey

And just like that we’d spent more than our alloted 2 hours in the parking garage under the cafe so we took a quick group photo (also do not have evidence of this, stay tuned to Bethany’s photostream for that) and said goodbye for a few days until our last visit this time around.


PS. If you ever leave me in charge of your toddler and he puts a bunch of sticks off the ground into his mouth, I will very helpfully take photos. Luckily for me, when I related this to his mama, she only briefly grimaced before confirming with me that I grabbed a snapshot. So she can bribe him as a teenager, I presume.

noah boosting his immune system

Actually, I’d Think it Would be Obvious to You.

27 08 2010

What? You want more than two entries this month? Picky people. Well, you’re lucky, then, that Bethany came to town! And by “town” I mean “two hours away.” But she did come down here yesterday, along with Sonja. We spent four years trying to meet up without it happening, and now here we are hanging out twice in one month? Cool.

friends :)

We met Elaine, Summer, and the two aforementioned bloggers in Zoro Garden in Balboa Park. Zoro Garden is, of course, the nudist colony. Or it was 75 years ago. Whatever. Now it’s a lovely, quiet, shady butterfly garden buried in a little nook near the Science Center. I was praised for choosing such a cool spot on such a hot day by everyone except Sonja who was cursing me as her two-year-old scaled six-foot 90-year-old rocky walls.

sliding down dirt hills

After the kids spent two hours sliding down dirt hills we decided to throw them into the fountain to wash off. I mean. We didn’t bathe them or anything. Just their feet.

washing in the fountain

And then we drove across town to Snail Mountain. I’ve clearly not been there enough since I took the wrong turn twice. My sweet daughter told me, helpfully, from the back seat, “Mom, you get lost EVERY TIME we come here. *rolls eyes*” And yet, she is right. On this particular day, we were heading up a road too narrow for two cars to pass side-by-side, and at one time, I came upon a large truck towing a trailer, so I was forced to back up into some rich person’s driveway (thank you, Rich Person), and after the truck passed, the car which had been behind me gave me a friendly wave as it passed. So I followed it. Cause it probably knew where I was going. The driver turned out to be Elaine who knew where I was going just about as well as I did, but we figured it out somehow and made it to the top to meet our friends.

five kids

elaine and her girls on the edge of the world

Up there the kids stood on the edge of the world and took a small hike. Mostly I took deep breaths and tried not to pass out at the thought of one kid or another falling. It would have only been a four-foot fall, but I’m afraid of heights. So there.

painting with friends

As if all that wasn’t busy enough, we went over to the mall to paint pottery. This was the first time my son was really interested in it, and once I’d talked him out of his first choice (a creepy alien head I simply could not bear to have in my house) he worked really hard painting a cup which he will use for, “Only Juice.”

elliott's cup

My daughter worked on a moose. Or a reindeer. Or something. All the other moms agreed that they make their kids paint useful things like dishes at least half the time they go. So I used peer pressure to my advantage and next time she promises to paint a plate.

margie's...  moose?  reindeer?

I decided I wanted to do something small so I could focus on the kids and camera (all but one of my pictures came out SUPER crappy, though, so it was pointless, I guess) and I grabbed a little disc that will become a necklace. I don’t remember now how I came to the conclusion, but I decided to paint a double rainbow on it and have Bethany do the lettering for me. This makes me either a cool geek, or a loser geek, but I’m pretty sure I’m a geek either way.

what does it mean???

After a quick dinner in the food court, we came home and crashed (after hosing the rest of the dirt off the kids). It was such a lovely day, I spent the whole evening smiling. We’ll see more of Bethany before she leaves town, so be prepared for at least one more entry this month. Yay you!

PS. The words of the day were, “actually” and “obviously.” Hence the entry title.