11 March 2007

the simple life.

Something about living out here has helped me to really, really appreciate time spent in other people's homes. For example, I work one day a week at a home-based office. The pay is ok, the work is easy, but what keeps me coming back is working from Karen's house. I love the feeling of walking into the house, I love the feeling of working in the house. It's soothing somehow, comforting to be inside a real, actual home (as opposed to the apartments, studios, houses of friends, which are temporary and merely functional). It's an interesting contrast. I didn't particularly feel this way in Minneapolis, but then I suppose there were more homes to visit on a more frequent basis, so I failed to realize the loveliness of a real, actual home.

Today is another case in point.

My dearest aunt Annette was in Anaheim for a few nights at the end of last week, and so we planned to spend a day together meandering. After a craaaaaaaaaaaaazy busy week of work and school (midterms/finals are mere days away!), I drove into the greater LA area Friday evening. As with leaving anywhere I've been a bit too long without break or respite, it felt glorious to drive away from my life in SB. Drinks and dinner Friday night with aunty and co-workers; a walk, breakfast and beach-cruiser bike riding at Huntington Beach on Saturday, then a mad dash to get to the airport on time. Initially I'd planned to continue south from the airport to visit a friend in La Jolla from Saturday evening until Sunday, but when the plans fell through, I headed back to the beach until sunset. I didn't leave then to come back to SB though, as I had one more task to attend to before heading home.

Earlier in the week, I mentioned having had a really amazing day, which I'll expand on now. Tuesday was our first boat dive for my scuba class. The school has a small boat, something like a 23' whaler, looking a bit like this:

The school's has an enclosed cabin though, an inboard engine, and a relatively small backup outboard, but the size and dimensions are about right in the picture (the school's is a bit roomier than this, though not much). Keep this image in your head, but now imagine that boat with 12 students, scuba gear, and 2 instructors. Needless to say, it was a tight fit. Regardless, we headed out to Mohawk Reef to do a navigation pattern and a short fun (read: no real objective other than to dive) dive. The conditions were better this day than our previous dive at Leadbetter, and we had around 10 feet of visibility, and the weather was bright and warm and sunny. After the diving, preparing to head back to the dock, we found the engine batteries had been completely and inexplicably drained. We fired up the outboard, transferred some juice from one to the other, and were soon on our merry way.

Earlier in the week, I'd received a message from Cousin Chris, who is not my own cousin, but rather the cousin of my dear friend Michaela. I met Chris several years ago in San Francisco, when he was first transitioning from flight attendant to pilot, and we've kept in touch sporadically over the years, but, despite a handful of attempts, have never seen each other in person since that weekend. He now lives in Laguna Beach, mere hours from SB. He'd sent a message saying he'd be in SB Tuesday, and wondered if I'd be around. I responded in the affirmative, but sort of blew it off, not really thinking we'd be able to connect. When I returned from the dive, however, there was a message from Chris, and when I called him back, his first question was to ask if I wanted to go flying. I told him I'd leave immediately.

One thing that most people know about diving is that it's not safe to fly immediately after diving, due to the decrease in ambient pressure and the possibility of getting bent. And while this is a valid concern, there are ways to determine the limits of flying based on one's dive profile. Practically before I'd hung up the phone, I ran to inquire of my instructor if I was safe to fly below 8,000 ft. After checking the charts together, I was off and speeding to the airport. Chris is now an instructor, and let me steer the plane on the runway (I sucked at this), let me control a little bit of the takeoff, let me bank the plane 30 degrees to the left and right in a full circle, and just generally let me control the plane every now and then. I can't remember what he did, but one point we experienced zero Gs, which was mildly disturbing for me, but kind of fun in retrospect (basically we were in free fall, or more, I don't know. I was too busy screaming and trying not to totally lose my stomach), it was an amazing adrenaline rush, one that left me gasping and sweating.

After the flight we hung out in SB for a while, until he had to head back home. It wasn't until later that evening that I realized I'd left my hoody in his plane, so this weekend, knowing I'd be in the general area, I arranged to stop by to pick it up. It was a lovely coincidence that he was house-sitting at a lovely condo in San Juan Capistrano, and invited me to crash for the night. With no better plans, and not wanting to head back to SB quite so soon, I accepted.

So here's what my day has been like: Chris left for work at 9:30, allowing me full access and free range of the place. I've been sitting around all day, drinking coffee, and writing, and reading, and playing with the cat. There's television, and music, and a giant comfy couch and chair set. There's a little enclosed outdoor area (I'm referring to it as the *loggia, though I know it's not really. There's something faintly Italian about the enclosure, and I feel like I should be eating gelato and sipping chianti, or something.) with lots of chairs and a few tables to choose from. The place is cozy beyond belief. I never want to leave.

I will leave eventually though, because I've created another errand for myself before heading north today, and it's probably the only errand that could get me excited enough to drag myself from a day rife with sloth. I've plotted my course to the local shops, and soon I'll be off to look for some shiny new scuba gear.

07 March 2007

accentuate the positive.

It's amazing how debilitating internet service outages can feel. I love to boast to anyone who'll listen that I don't have a television, but I fail to mention how much time I spend on my computer researching, browsing, postulating, organizing, reading, shopping, et cetera, et cetera. So as you might imagine, when the internet mysteriously disappears over the course of several days, I'm a bit put out. Though it has actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it helps to put time spent on computer into perspective. I'll chalk it up to the behavioral residue of my former lame office job, but go forward knowing that a person certainly does not need to spend hours of her time comparing and contrasting dive gear bags (Akona roller backpack is ginormous and amazing), for instance, or looking for the best deal on a 5-disc yoga intensive in Estes Park, CO (I'm still a sucker for anything Iyengar yoga-related). I've yet to find comfortable surroundings for writing my blog away from home, but today (being the exception), I'm at the library, and preferred writing to studying.

Apparently, what little winter we get here in SB is winding down. This has been the driest year since sometime in the 30's, I seem to remember hearing. The temps are in the 60s and the nights are still cool, but there's little rain, and lots of sunshine. Which I sort of like, but it can't be good ecologically, I suppose.

Midterms/ MDT class finals are just around the corner. I have 2 tests next week for my classes: a written and practical application one for my commercial diving equipment class, and a day of diving at one of the Channel Islands. I'm preparing in earnest for both: diligently studying/practicing skills for commercial diving equipment, and shopping for diving necessities (so, actually, the dive bag shopping is sort of necessary!).

I think yesterday was about the coolest day I've had since arriving in SB, but I'll save that for when time isn't short and I don't have mounds of studying staring at me cross-eyed from across the table.