September 2009

I feel a little sheepish for not having posted about my cousin Jennifer’s bridal shower and bachelorette outing a couple of weekends ago, when her wedding is already this coming Saturday. Posting has become more inflexible with my new camera. When the photos were taken from my cameraphone, I’d just email them to myself and I’d have them online to post from wherever I am. Now that the photos are taken from a “real” camera and need to be downloaded to a computer first, they’re downloaded to the PC at home and I can’t access them from any other computer. So I move on, for now, to my travels last weekend.

I had a lot of airport and plane hopping, taking two flights to get to Florida and two flights to come back. The shuttle picking me up from home to take me to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) 50 miles away was half an hour early. I was still getting ready in the house when phone calls started coming in to my cell phone. I didn’t get to the phone in time, and that’s when the driver started honking. It was still dark out at 5:15 a.m. and Mr. W ran out in his shorts to tell the driver I was on my way, so that the jerk would quit waking up my neighbors. There was only one other passenger and we got to the airport before 6:30 a.m. for my 9 a.m. flight. The security line was INSANE. People coiled through the ropes indoors, spilled outdoors, lined up down the block into the next building. Good thing I had no baggage to check and was able to get straight into this line. It wasn’t until I was inside when I realized the Los Angeles Kings (hockey team) and their cheerleaders were ahead of me. I didn’t even know hockey HAD cheerleaders. Do they skidaddle onto the ice, slipping and sliding, to cheer? Cuz otherwise, who could see them? Anyway, FOX Sports was there with them and they set up a DJ booth at their gate, monopolizing the flight, I’d imagine.

I killed time by doing makeup in the bathroom and texting friends, sitting behind large Southerners in cowboy boots and gallon hats speaking to each other in cool-sounding drawls.

Southwest Airlines doesn’t assign seating, so after receiving a boarding sequence order after check-in (which I’d done online), the seats are first-come, first-served. As I walked into the cabin, I noted all the large people seated in the window and aisle seats of the same 3-seat row, leaving only a half-seat-sized slot in between them. Who’s gonna sit between them?! I kept moving farther and farther back in the plane. People looked up at me as I passed, some pensively, some hopefully (cuz I’m comparatively small), and I got lucky and found an open aisle seat next to two middle-aged women. They were friendly through the entire flight, telling me they were going home to Tennessee, and the woman next to me told me she’d moved there from Minnesota, where it snowed all the time so she was more than happy to give away her nearly-new snowblower to be in better weather. I fell asleep at some point, and when I awoke, I discovered the two of them had been needing to use the restroom but didn’t want to wake me. When we all returned from our bio breaks, we chatted again, and I told them that my final destination was not Nashville, but that I would enjoy the Nashville layover by redeeming a drink bet from a friend. The woman at the window wanted to see the book I was reading, ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier’s “Thrive: The Vegan Nutritional Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life.” The woman next to me wanted to see my wedding rings. A flight attendant came by and copied down the title of my book, which she’d been peering at as I’d slept on it, to buy for her triathlete boyfriend. I in turn took a gander at a friendly man’s textbooks from across the aisle, as he was learning Mandarin Chinese, a language I speak mostly-fluently. We arrived Nashville airport smoothly and early.

I ran off to meet Bat, who was there early to send off another friend and was now sitting at an airport bar having a beer. (Turned out the other friend didn’t make it before me, as originally planned.) It’s kind of funny meeting someone for only the second time ever when the friendship itself had progressed in the interim. You kind of see them differently. The first time (a few years ago when we happened to be in Vegas at the same time), it was a careful and polite appraisal and some small talk. This time, we were sincerely looking forward to spending some time chatting with a friend. He suggested I spend 15 minutes of my 70-minute layover having a drink with him, I waved it off and said I had more time than that. When I finally got up and went to the gate, 40 minutes had passed, and with a delay going back through security screening by the time I rushed to the gate they were already calling my name over the intercom. How embarrassing.

This time I found a man sitting in the middle of an otherwise empty row, and asked if I could sit with him. He moved over to the window and I took the aisle. He watched me text Jordan and Bat to say that I was safely on the flight to Orlando, it was leaving on time. He watched as I received prompt texts in response. (He also stayed politely mute as a flight attendant admonished me to turn my phone off so that we could take off early.) Then he asked me about how text messaging works, and the leaps and bounds (and to an extent, the unnecessities) of technological advancements. I learned that he’s a retired man who is now a writer and poet as his retirement pursuit. His writings center around metaphysical theories and experiences, and he’s had what sounded to me like an existential breakthrough from a rather sheltered childhood into the realities of a hard life. His journey sounded very interesting, and I’m not just referring to his visit to Nashville to visit his son. At the end of the flight, we exchanged web addresses — the “keeping-in-touch” method of the 21st century — and I learned his name is Jack Shinholser, of Since he lives in Florida, he likely wouldn’t be doing one of his usual meet-the-author booksignings at a Borders or Barnes & Noble near me, so I’ll have to make sure I look for his works on my own. When we disembarked he was nice enough to walk me through the large airport to street level, and gave me a friendly hug as we separated and I waited for Jordan.

I’ll address my actual stay in Florida in a future post with photos.

Flat Coke & Flies, along with her new s.o., drove me to the Tampa Bay airport on my return home Sunday. We hugged goodbye curbside, snapped some photos, and I breezed through security to arrive at my gate just as they were about to board. Shortly before walking into the boarding chute, I handed the flight attendant my boarding pass, which she held under the computerized scanner. Instead of the “ding” of passengers entering before me, my boarding pass caused the computer to emit a buzz. “Uh-oh,” the flight attendant said, calling me back. What? Have I been chosen by random to be strip-searched? “You’re not on this flight, your flight is boarding here at this gate after this one,” she explained, returning my boarding pass. They were running late and this flight was going elsewhere, and my flight was lined up behind it for the gate. Thank goodness for computers! I settled back to wait and behind me, I heard someone else’s boarding pass buzz and the same explanation given to that passenger. Soon, someone decided it was easier to simply change gates and let my flight board immediately from another gate instead of wait for this gate to be freed up, so we all walked two gates down and boarded, departing 15 minutes later than scheduled to Denver, Colorado.

Feeling again like I was being appraised by already-seated passengers, I made my way through the cabin. Once more, I sat in an aisle seat, a man having taken the window seat in that row before me. Soon a rather corpulent woman made her way in and asked to sit between us, so I got out to let her in. She initially made efforts to contain her arms within the invisible borders of her seating area, but soon she discovered that she gained two inches on either side of her if she lifted the arm rests up and out of the way, so she made our three seats into a long bench seat. I was surprised she did that without checking with either of us, but the extra room was nice, I suppose. Not that I needed it. She was rather in-your-face friendly and overly helpful, and talkative. At one point she asked to see my wedding rings, also, admiring them. “It seems to get a lot of women’s attention,” I told her half-laughing. I had been asked to see the rings all weekend. “Probably because there’s so much bling,” she said. Funny how no one in California, unless they were my friends, seem to notice or think the rings were anything unusual. I live in a superficial spoiled region of designer accessory owners. She asked about my trip and destination, another flight attendant noticed and asked me about my “Thrive” book, offered to let me run up and down the aisle for exercise, I took a nap, was nudged on two occasions by the woman into awakening to let the guy on the inside use the restroom, and soon we were in Denver. An infant had screamed in my ear earlier at takeoff but had gone instantly silent after her mother did something. I now turned around and smiled at the new mother, asking her what she did to calm her baby down so quickly. She said, “I just held her against my chest, really tightly.”
“That’s all it took?” I asked in surprise.
“Well, it worked,” she smiled. Wow, gotta remember that one. It seemed like there was a baby screaming behind me on all the other flights and this was the first parent that was able to anything about it.

I had been apprehensive about the flight times, since we’d left late and I only had a 40-minute layover this time, so given 30 minutes for preboarding, I was glad there was no Bat here to miss out on playing with. The flight made up its late start in the air and we arrived early. I walked off the plane, went to the restroom, walked by a gate that happened to be for my next flight, and saw that they were preparing to board. Holy cow. That’s cutting it close. We boarded my final flight to good ol’ Orange County in Southern California, and this time I walked farther back into the plane, toward some empty rows, determined get away from the noise at the engines and wings which is where I seemed to always end up. I scooted all the way in to make it easier for still-coming passengers and noted that there are people seated in the midde seat of their row to take up as much room as possible, hopeful that people wouldn’t sit with them. How rude. It was a full flight and soon I had two people next to me. “If these two flights are like the first two, then that was the friendly people flight, and this one should be the bonding with someone flight.” I was wrong, this was just a normal flight with minimal conversation. Gotta love Southern Californians. None of that Southern comfort.

When we were getting ready to leave for the airport, Flat Coke had asked me whether I was regretful of having to leave beautiful Clearwater Beach, Florida to go back home. I didn’t have to even think about it as I told her that no, I am ready to be home. She looked surprised. Three days is about tops for me on vacation before I got homesick, and in this case, I felt my first twinge of missing home on the second flight to Florida before vacation had even started. I just missed Mr. W. He texts now and the iPhone can finally send/receive photos and videos, so we kept in touch over the weekend, but it’s not the same as having him physically there, within touching distance. Despite the fact that he was irritated picking me up upon arrival, as I’d exited the airport onto the “wrong” street level, it was still nice coming home to him and we went to sushi immediately. When we got home, I hugged his half-asleep form tightly and thought about how nice it is to be in a relationship in which I could ask, “So what’d you do all weekend?” and not have an immediate nausea reflex, dreading activities that would devastate me, or dreading the lies I would hear so much that I simply wouldn’t ask at all. I enjoyed my weekend with my girlies and new friends very much, but one of my favorite parts was still coming home.

I thought I’d drop a post before I disappeared again, but I doubt at the rate I’ve been (not) blogging, that anyone would notice.

Anywho, I just checked in online for my flight tomorrow morning. I’ve got a 9am flight to Nashville, Tennessee! I’ve never been there before, so I’m very looking forward to exploring the, uh, Nashville airport for 70 minutes before my next flight takes off again from there. I hope that’s enough time to collect my free drink from Bat, who had so much faith in his beloved Tennessee Vols that when UCLA went over there to play a few weeks ago, he bet against my alma mater. He’s man enough to make good on his loss at this rare and earliest of opportunities, even if it means driving to the airport and throwing a drink at me across an airport bar before I have to take off running to catch my flight to…

…sunny Orlando, Florida! Helloooo, Jordan! She’ll pick me up when I land at 7pm (or as soon thereafter as likely for lovely Jordanabanana) and we’re going to meet up with “everybody” for dinner and drinks at 8p. “Everybody” is defined as Flat Coke & Flies, Jordan’s friends Darryl and Darren, and a few new significant others I have yet to meet. Everyone except Darren would be coming from a fun day of Universal Studios, and Darren is coming because he ALSO lost the same bet to me, calling a win for the Vols over the Bruins, and he now owes me my second free drink thanks to that game.

Saturday will be spent at Clearwater Beach with Jordan, Flat Coke, and their respective significant others (I’m stagette). I’d been there before with Jordan and James, it’s Jordan’s favorite beach. The last time I was there, I’d texted Flat Coke & Flies and asked for a restaurant recommendation. She insisted on Cooters, a casual seafood restaurant a short walk from the shore, and James and I fell in love. With the FOOD, I mean. Grouper cheeks…amazing! Raw oysters…a dozen for less than $10! I’m used to half a dozen for $15 or so.

Then Sunday, I’m flying out of Tampa Bay airport (which Flat Coke generously offered to drive me to, so I will compensate her with alcohol when I see her) to…Denver, Colorado! Woohooo! The last time I was there was for a scuba diving tradeshow. I was in college, working for Ocean Master, did the show all weekend before midterms, and had scheduled the flight to make it back in time for an evening and overnight cram for my two midterm exams the next day. I also had an essay due the next afternoon. Construction on Denver International Airport had only recently been completed, and the airport now bragged that its technological advancements would allow planes to take off even in a snowstorm. Turned out that planes still couldn’t LAND there in a snowstorm, and since that Sunday delivered the first snowstorm of the year, I was stranded at the airport overnight. If planes couldn’t land there, there weren’t enough planes to take off from there. My study material were in my checked in luggage and gone. Needless to say I didn’t perform well in a couple of exams and the essay situation was a nightmare that I still cringe over when I think back to it. But I’m sure THIS Denver stay would be different. THIS Denver stay is during hot weather AND only 40 minutes long, which gives me 10 minutes between arriving and subsequent boarding to get off the arriving plane and run to the departing plane’s gate. And then it’s HELLO, John Wayne Airport and Hello, Hubby at 8:45p. Bedtime before having to get up for work the next morning.

I’d like to thank my flight sponsor, Christi, for making this weekend possible!

I received the official decision letter regarding my parking ticket hearing the other day. The best part of the 2-page findings and quotes of relevant statutes:

While there appears to be a sign posted indicating a DASH bus stop, the sign is not in conformity with The California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (CAMUTCD), which are the uniform standards and specifications for all traffic control devices adopted by the state in compliance with California Vehicle Code Section 21400. The DASH sign that is posted is meant for pedestrians rather than motorists. At minimum a red border is required, and without curb paint, a bus stop sign needs to set for the area where it applies so that vehicles know where they can and cannot park. There apparently was no paint or stencil on the curb to indicate that the area was a bus stop, and there still is no stencil on the curb. I therefore find the Respondent Not Liable for the citation. A refund shall issue in the amount set forth above within 30 days of this decision letter.

I received my $278 refund check from the City of Los Angeles only days later and no, it’s not an I.O.U. I’m surprised by the negativity from some that I got after my win, belittling comments like “How did you get a refund, did you prove you weren’t the person that parked your car illegally?” and “Cool, next time I park in downtown and get a ticket I can use a camera to fight the parking ticket.” Please, like I had no grounds to create my “well-presented case,” which was how the hearing officer described my argument, exhibits and declaration! Even Mr. W had little faith in me, suggesting before the hearing that I change my defense to claiming I wasn’t there, period, that the ticket was erroneous in identifying my vehicle, and saying that “ignorance of the law is not an excuse.” I wasn’t ignorant of the LAW, the LAW was not posted! My defense wasn’t that I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to park at a bus stop, it was that it was the most invisible bus stop, ever! And the City eventually agreed with me, so there.

Last Saturday, my cousin Diana had her baby shower. She’s due in November, and…

…it’s a GIRL!
There was food…

…and presents.

Lots and lots of presents.

Useful practical presents, too. When her husband Doug came at the end to help clean up, he looked with satisfaction at the pile of loot, hands on his hips, and then turned to Diana and gave her a “Nice job!” with accompanying high-five. Haha!

Diana looked like she enjoyed herself.

My nieces were there, too.

Congrats to the soon-to-be mommy!

My mother has been bugging me for the web address of my image hosting site, saying when her laptop had to be restored that she’d lost the internet history. Considering I never gave her the address of this blog’s image hosting site (I can only guess I was careless and left the address on her browser history when I used her laptop while visiting sometime), and considering the photos my loyal readers know I have posted, I’m relieved she lost access. I told her dismissively that it’s not a public share site as she kept saying it was, and that I don’t use it anymore. Now I can post photos again. I have a bit to catch up on.

On Labor Day weekend, Mr. W and I invited my parents to San Diego with us for Sunday champagne brunch at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse followed by a stroll at the beach and a visit to the Hotel del Coronado, where I’d always wanted to explore. I also got to play with my new digital SLR camera. I got the Nikon D5000. (Rest mouse pointer over photos for captions.)

Mom looks optimistic, Dad looks like he’s trying not to get overexcited. He loves seafood and my mom rarely lets him eat it because she’s protecting his compromised blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Despite the tilted orientation, I like this shot for what’s refracted in the stem of the glass.

I did say this was a seafood buffet, right?

Wanna see boys play with their food?

“Happy 1-Year!” Mr. W told me.
The problem with continuously talking about how great and fresh the crustaceans taste, is that you get yoinked, as Dad learned.

Unabashed, Dad continues to play with his claws.

It’s cool to finally have significant zoom.

In the lobby of the Hotel del Coronado…

Let me show you the difference between 34 years of marriage and 1 year of marriage.


Isn’t it cuuute how everyone in the photo happens to be squatting? It’s like I caught a shot of the rice paddies.

Wet-n-wild animals:

Poor hermit crab’s wondering, “How’d I end up in the jungle? Where’s the water?”

The universe works fast to keep its equilibrium of experiences. To that, I say a very emphatic “HMMPH!”

In addition to being told by the hearing officer yesterday that I “likely won’t be held responsible” for the invisibility of the bus zone that is the subject of my $300 parking ticket, over the weekend I also received a $40 check from Dentist Andy. It was an office check, and I was confused as to why I deserved it. So I sent him a quick message on the social network site we’re both on, asking about it. He wrote back that my insurance had paid more than they’d estimated, so here is my refund, enjoy. Who does that?! I would’ve never known about the overpayment, and I’ve never known a busy doctor’s office to issue refunds on things like this. The best they’d do is give a credit on the next visit, and even that is rare. Talk about honest business!

To offset the happy karma of getting my $340 back, I felt that I was given some offensive inconsideration last nite. That yielded a bad night, and naturally not a great morning. That not-great morning continued with the normally 40-minute drive to work taking an hour and a half, during which this happened, AGAIN. Same shit, different toilet — while stuck unmoving on the freeway, I dialed immediately but got a message that said to check the number and dial again. I looked down at the phone; I’d misdialed and punched an 8 instead of a 0. I redialed, and after that, it was all busy. Turned out some chick named Lashenka from Lancaster was the first caller with a June birthday, so she immediately gets $102. Then, for $10,000, is her birthday…June…29? NO. OF COURSE NOT. CUZ THAT’S *MY* FREAKING BIRTHDAY!! Another bitch stole my money! The only thing to make this morning worse fast, I thought, would be if we got a jury trial today. When I’d left work on Friday we weren’t in trial. But I comforted myself thinking that if we do get a trial today, we’ll need a day to order jurors so it’ll start tomorrow, so I still get today to sit and calm down and be antisocial at work. So of course I walked into the courtroom, late because of the crazy traffic conditions, and found that my department was given a trial YESTERDAY while I was off arguing my ticket, and today it’s in full-swing, 40 jurors on the way, 4 attorneys, and I had to hurry and catch up to set up the pretrial paperwork. *throwing up hands*

To offset today’s bad day, thankfully tomorrow is our third furlough day. Maybe I just won’t even go home after work tonight.

It really seemed like a magical special-treatment day starting from my drive to Downtown Los Angeles, which I normally avoid like I dodge kiwi (which, if you know me, is an impressive amount of dodging). The weather was great, not too hot, bright but overcast, and the 50 mile drive which I gave myself almost 2 hours to do, knowing the infamy of LA traffic, only took an hour. The information letter told me the hearing office is located in the Los Angeles Mall underground, which was completely unfamiliar to me. I pulled into an underground parking lot labeled “Los Angeles Mall” despite the navigation system telling me I was a block too early for my destination address. I didn’t find parking and accidentally circled back out to the exit, which presented another problem as I read the sign saying that cash payment was required upon exit. I asked the guy manning the exit booth very nicely if this is the correct parking lot for where I was going, and he said it was and to go one floor up once I park. I then said I’d exited accidentally, how do I get back into the parking area? He said he’d help me out, walked out of the booth and across to the other side of my car, and unchained a roped off part of the parking lot. He waved me in. Wow! I felt so VIP as I waved, thanking him.

Since I was so early, I wandered in the grungy open-air mall and looked for an ATM so that I could withdraw cash to pay for parking upon my exit. I eventually wandered into a drugstore and bought a travel-sized contact lens solution kit, which I will need for my upcoming weekend in Florida, anyway. I then used my ATM card and got cashback. Then I checked in for my hearing at the ticket hearing office, tucked between a storefront and a restaurant, 20 minutes early.

The lady behind the counter in the lobby seemed accustomed to dealing with rude idiots. This was a ticket dispute office, after all. I walked up and started writing my name on the sign-in board. She walked to the window and I smiled at her. She didn’t smile back as she demanded, “You got an appointment?”
“Yes, for 11 o’clock,” I said pleasantly.
“Do you have your appointment letter?” I handed it to her from the manila folder I held in my hands, which contained a copy of all documents I sent and received involving this ticket, plus a new 13-page declaration with 19 photos showing the unpainted curb before and the painted curb now. Without looking at the page I handed her, she simply flipped it over and shoved it back at me, saying flatly, “Sign and date at the bottom.”
I looked down at my signature and date on the bottom, a little confused. Could she not see that? I handed it back to her and she made no motion to take it. I think she may have repeated herself. I said politely, “I already did.”
“Oh!” she looked down finally. “Oh, I’m sorry!” she said. She was a lot nicer after that. I guess unlike most people she deals with on the job, I can read and follow written instructions.

Alone in the lobby/waiting room, I flipped through a magazine until soon, the door opened and a very normal-looking, unintimidating man in his 40s in a dress shirt, slacks and a tie stepped out, calling my name. I smiled and stood, he waved me in, and I followed him to a uniformed officer who did a security check on me with a metal wand and a manual weapons check in my purse. He then pointed me into a small office where the first man sat behind a desk which took up half the closet-sized space.

The man introduced himself, pointed out that this hearing is being tape-recorded and gestured to the old-fashioned cassette tape player on his desk, and I was comforted by the smile I saw in his pleasant eyes. He recited the ticket number and pertinent ticket information, then told me that he’s read the documentation I’d sent in previously, reviewed the attached photos, and it seems like there isn’t much for me to say here, that the issue is simply whether the bus sign is sufficient enough to indicate that this is a no-parking bus zone. I wasn’t sure what he meant by that, but I took it as, he’s announcing I have an uphill battle.
I started by telling him that I have additional evidence to support my point. I’d returned to the scene of the ticket yesterday to take better photos, ones that depicted the exact intersection with street names shown, in case there was any doubt I was photographing a different area. He seemed unconcerned about that. I pulled out my 13-page declaration with new photos attached, and told him that I saw yesterday that the curb is now painted red. His eyes widened just for a second in surprise as he said, “Oh!” I took the opportunity to give my interpretation of the change, which is that this is the City’s acknowledgment of fault, that they knew the bus stop as it was at the time I received the ticket was insufficiently marked to tell people they can’t park there. I went through my new photos, organized into corresponding groups of befores-and-afters, pointed out the photo numbers as I explained what was depicted and what I think it all meant. He looked carefully at the photos I’d pointed to, murmured how thorough I was, and I thought I caught a hint of distaste in his voice as he noted that even with the new curb, no “stencils” were done on the curb. I said that as it is, I may still never know that it’s a bus stop, but at least I would know not to park there, and pointed out all the cars unwittingly parked along the curb in my “before” photos and how the entire street is now clear in the “after” photos.
As I finished my 3-minute presentation, he smiled at me and said, “I was leaning toward you, anyway — the sign ‘Dash’ doesn’t say anything about a bus and like you said, no marked curb, no stencils, no bus bench.”
I said I would’ve been fine if the acronym “Dash” were even spelled out so that I’d know it was referring to a bus. I didn’t think people who didn’t live in this city, and I live in deep south Orange County (he laughed), would know instinctively what “Dash” referred to.
“I don’t think it’s an acronym, is it? I don’t believe it stands for anything that has to do with public transportation.” I was surprised at this, but heck, it makes my point even better. “I’m not in the habit of proclaiming my decisions at the hearings, you’re to get your results in the mail, and this isn’t guaranteed because we’ll need to review your evidence afterwards, but basically, you had me at hello.”
I smiled gratefully and he smiled back.
He continued, “Very well-presented evidence, clean, clear, good presentation, it looks like you put in a lot of work, but it’s always better to be more prepared than not prepared enough. I’m sorry you had to come all the way down here, unless you work in this area and you’re going right back to work.”
“I don’t work in the area, but I took the entire day off because LA traffic is unpredictable.”
He nodded in agreement and approval, and took my new declaration and photos and placed them in my file. I thanked him for his time, shook his hand, and he told me to look for good news in the mail. 😀

When I drove out of the parking lot, I was so happy that I didn’t even care it cost me $10 to park there for an hour. I was getting my $300 back! The parking attendant very nicely greeted me, asked if I’d like a receipt, wished me a great day, gave me a big smile. I thanked him and smiled back.

I think makeup, dressing respectably and respectfully (to show that I take this seriously) helps, as does an unassuming attitude. I’m sure plenty of people walk in with a chip on their shoulders and already swinging their arsenal; I work in public service, too and most people aren’t happy to be in court, either. I was careful to not even disclose I work in the public sector, and I was happy I didn’t even need to throw names of judges and sheriffs around to get special treatment.

I have a hearing in Downtown LA on Monday morning to dispute my stupid parking ticket. They want $300 for my parking in a “bus zone,” which is ridiculous because there was nothing there that told me it was a bus zone. There was no bus bench, the curb wasn’t painted red, no bus schedule was posted, the only sign regarding parking said no parking between specific hours on weekdays excluding Sundays (and I was parked there on Sunday, specifically excluded from the no-parking hours), and there was some obscure sign with an acronym I’d never heard of with no description or even a graphic depiciting what it was in reference to. Apparently the acronym is the magic indicator that a specific bus stops there. That’s just ridiculous. If they want to keep people from parking there, they need to make it clear that you CAN’T park there. This would be the equivalent to if I were to drive through another state, see a sign with a squiggle on it, shrug and keep going, and then some cop pulls out and gives me a ticket for going over 15 mph in a duck-billed platypus crossing zone. “WHAT duck-billed platypus crossing zone?” I’d ask.
He’d point to the sign with a squiggle and say, “See there? That them there sign tells y’all it’s a duck-billed platypus crossin’ zone, and ain’t nobody drivin’ more ‘an 15 miles an hour here on MY watch, endangerin’ all our duck-billed platypuses.”
I’d argue it’s a regional sign that didn’t have the speed limit or rules posted, and he’d say, “Everybody ’round these here parts know that’s a duck-billed platypus crossin’ sign, and ain’t no goin’ faster ‘an 15 ’round them duck-billed platypuses! Pay up, that’ll be $300.”
Total bullcrap.

That’s the exact analogy I’m gonna give at the hearing on Monday.

The time has come when offspring have moved from my peripheral awareness into directly touching my life. Yet unexisting children put their tiny fingers on me questioningly, unintrusively but unmistakeably. I suppose it’s inevitable; all those weddings we’d attended the past few years have to yield something, somewhere. The first baby in my close circle is due to arrive in November, borne to my cousin Diana and her husband Doug, who got married only months behind us. Her mother is giddy with anticipation of her first grandchild, and my mother is excited and envious. Mom treads carefully on the baby issue, so as not to annoy me, but she did ask a few weeks ago whether we’d given any more consideration to making some pretty Eurasian kidlets for her to play with. I don’t remember my response, but I’m sure it was something noncommital and uninformative, because no further conversation on the topic followed. Soon after that, Mr. W’s daughter (who’d moved in with us to start her first year in a local college) brought up at the dinner table, “So have you guys talked any more about having a baby?” She looked at the both of us, her eyes hopeful.
I laughed it off. “You really want to babysit.”
She said, not letting me off the hook, “Yeah, I really do! So have you?”
“Well, not really…” I looked to her dad for help.
He said, struggling a bit, “Well, we’ve sort of talked about it…”
“Nothing serious,” I added. She nodded and dropped it.

The first baby among my peer group of friends is due to arrive in about a month. I’m excited for them, and the mother is someone whom I’ve always admired. She’s smart, grounded, practical, kind, and has a strong sense of judgment without being closed-minded or inflexible. I think she’d be a great mom. Her pregnancy so far, described in her own words, has been “uneventful.” The classic symptoms of nausea, pain, and severe weight gain all seem to have evaded her. Aside from feeling big and more sluggish than usual, she’s handling her first pregnancy like a breeze. My cousin’s pregnancy has been uncomplicated, as well, and when I had dinner with her some months ago, she’d said she didn’t feel much different. No crazy mood swings, either. This makes me feel better about being pregnant. Of course, I have yet to hear the labor stories. The only immediate labor commentary I’d ever gotten was from my friend Erin, whom I’d met after she was already pretty far along her pregnancy. She’d called me the afternoon of her first baby’s birth — I was out in Huntington Beach with friends after I’d just gotten through a 5K race — and told me the good news, saying, “Labor’s no joke, Cindy.”

And now, a coworker approximately my age is pregnant. She had been trying with her husband without success for years. They visited a reputable local-ish reproductive clinic, fertilized a bunch of her eggs with his sperm, and selected one for implantation. Her uterus is too small for the usual 3-egg implantation, her doctor said about the very petite coworker. They didn’t want to risk complications if she were to have 3 successful fetuses. So they did the one…and the egg split on its own. She’s having identical twins anyway! How cute is that story? She’s being carefully monitored so she’ll be fine.

My reporter’s sister-in-law also went through the same clinic with her husband, my reporter’s brother. They’re both slightly older for having their first child — she being in her late 30s or early 40s, his being in his mid-to-late 40s. Standard impregnation methods (how clinical am *I*?) have not worked, but after only months of “treatment” with this clinic, she is now pregnant, too.

I’ll get to hear lots of stories of people’s experiences before I make up my mind. It’s the best way to make an educated decision, and to take the best courses of action given my personal rather difficult circumstances. It just seems like it’s not a “convenient” time to be pregnant, though. There’s still some traveling we want to do in the very near future, and I’d like to stay active. But let’s face it — none of us are getting any younger. I suppose a child isn’t a matter of convenience anyway, it’s an act of love. Or carelessness.

I was involved in a text-message conversation with a faraway friend earlier when the judge walked in to hand me some mail (yes, the judge gets my mail instead of the other way around, haha; he likes checking mail for goodies). As he sifted through the mail in front of me, he looked up and said, “Are you tweeting?!”
“No, I’m responding to a text message. I absolutely refuse to get on Twitter,” I replied.
“Good. You’re in the old-fashioned world, like me,” he said with smug satisfaction, the man who only recently learned how to get the screensaver to allow his work to magically reappear, and still has not grasped the concept of being able to have more than one program open at one time in different windows. It’s endearing, and I like running back to chambers to “rescue” him when his work disappears, which is usually caused by a pop-up window from another program blocking the original window. He’s a genius in all the traditional scholarly respects. I wonder, though, what his exposure to Twitter is. Maybe it was something like what happened at the last Lake concert we went to.

The lead singer of No More Kings paused in between songs to smile at cheering crowd lounging on blankets and beach chairs drinking wine in front of the sparkling lake at sunset. “It’s really beautiful here,” he observed. “Wait, hold on, I gotta get a picture of you guys.” He whipped out a cell phone from his pocket, lined it up with the audience in front of him. We laughed and some people in the front posed. “This is great, I don’t usually get photos of a really good-looking crowd, ya know? We have some beautiful people here.” He was tapping away on his phone. Without looking up, he explained into the microphone as he pushed buttons, “I’m tweeting this right now. This photo is going up on my Twitter…there it goes…okay, it’s up.” And THEN he continued the concert. That’s the first time I felt like I missed out on something. But not enough to sign onto Twitter.