Monday, August 20, 2012

A Weekend in Zakland

I don't know what a normal person is, but I seem to be one. In this regard, it means I do things that should be familiar to most people who share similar aspects of their lives with me. In my case (in no particular order), I'm a father, a musician, a boyfriend to a lovely lady, a small business owner, and a guy in his early 40s who likes to spend at least a little time each weekend doing things that I can't easily do during the week.

Sometimes those are things that aren't exactly my idea of fun... responsibilities that aren't work related, and so on. But if you're smart, you can sometimes turn even those things into a kind of small adventure. Case in point: my son, like millions of other kids, is heading back to school shortly. Well, in many places across the country including my home of Redondo Beach, CA, kids entering the seventh grade are required to show proof of a Tdap vaccination ("Tdap" being an acronym for tetanus, diptheria, and pertussis, aka whooping cough).

Well, the good news is that my son is well taken care of and quite up to date in his vaccinations. The bad news was that the little form proving this was nowhere to be found. Since school registration is this week (and classes start next week), there was no time to delay. After a call to his pediatrician's office and finding out they'd be closed by noon on Saturday, Kat and I made plans to head over to Torrance, the city just to our east, and pick up his immunization record.

Saturday in the Snark
We slept in on Saturday -- a rare and glorious event -- but made it there with plenty of time to spare (they even had the form pulled and ready in a nice envelope for me... hats off to Children's Medical Group of Torrance). It was a quick stop, but we were already pretty ravenous by then, and I wanted to take Kat to breakfast somewhere out of our usual range of restaurants. Driving aimlessly for awhile, the idea popped into my head to go to CJ's Pantry on Catalina Ave., a little hole-in-the-wall near the beach. I hadn't been there in years, but my dad and I used to go have decadent breakfasts there when I was a kid. Well, it was every bit as delicious as I remembered, and we devoured our omelets with glee.

CJ's Pantry. Yes, that place with the weird statue of a chef who stands outside on Catalina Avenue. Yummy.

Walk on the Ocean
Since we were right there and it was a gorgeous morning, we then cruised down the Esplanade a little ways to Avenue C, and amazingly found a parking spot. Then we walked down the ramp, across the bike path, and onto the sand. Since it was a hot weekend here in the Los Angeles area, the beach was already crowded with sunbathers and families, but we found a nice little spot and kicked back for awhile in the sun before walking down and cooling off in the Pacific Ocean. We didn't stay very long; we hadn't really come prepared with towels or sunscreen or other beach-like stuff.

Down the ramp toward the sand at Avenue C. Yes, this is where I live. Don't hate me.

After heading back home (a 10-minute journey), we hopped into the shower to rinse the sand, tar, and beach bacteria off of ourselves. Then it was time to have some more fun. Since my son was spending the weekend at his mother's place, we borrowed his Wii and played a game of Monopoly on it. Ah, the crazy life of a rock star.

After the game (Kat won handily, by the way), for a short while, we did one of my favorite weekend activities: nothing. Yes, nothing. We browsed around the Internet, talked about recent news stories, and generally sat here like lumps. While I like to stay busy, the fact is that both of us work hard all week, and those few moments of basically shutting down really help the recharge process. We took a brief break from our nothingness to walk across the street to the Bean Counter, our neighborhood coffee house, and got some iced coffees and blended espresso drinks to keep us cool while getting a needed caffeine boost. Then it was back here to chill for awhile longer, but then we were hungry again, and it was really damned hot, so cooking was pretty much out of the picture.

That's me last year, doing a gig at the Bean Counter. We're there so often that owner TK and his wife Christina, and their employees Francesco and Jayna are practically family.

Dishes of Fishes
That's a good excuse to have something cool and delicious... like sushi! Our little place directly across the street (next door to the coffee house), Ichiriki, has some really great fish (and is relatively affordable as far as great sushi in Los Angeles goes). At about 5:30, we strolled over and took a seat at the bar where owner and head chef Peter took care of our foodie needs. Word to the wise: don't go out for sushi when you are absolutely starving unless your bank account is in good shape. Despite the financial impact, Kat and I ate insane amounts of hamachi, albacore, and unagi sushi, spicy tuna rolls, rainbow rolls, spider rolls, and those delicious little spicy scallop on the half-shell dishes that Peter hands out to customers at the bar. In a rare moment of adventurousness, Kat and I even drank a Kirin Ichiban... a pretty wild thing, considering neither of us have more than a few drinks per year.

After dinner (and a whole lot of moaning about being too full), we headed home. Lacking anything very exciting to do on our Saturday night, we went back to the Wii for a round of Mario Party 2. I'm proud to say that for the first time, I managed to beat Kat. Sometime around midnight, we headed for bed. As I said, the thrilling life of a rock star will boggle your mind.

Easy Like Sunday Morning
We got up a little earlier on Sunday morning than we did the day before. If anything, it was even hotter, and being stuck in a little box with no air conditioning didn't sound like a good time. So, after some coffee, we puttered around the house for a bit. My phone rang several times but since I'm not too keen on picking up private caller ID numbers, I didn't know for awhile that my ancient landlord (whom I think is about 120 years old) wanted to show off the building to a prospective buyer. I wasn't about to waste my weekend for this cause, especially on such short notice, so I eventually called him back to olet him know I'd be available for a very short time slot between 3:00 and 3:30; his arrival before or after would have me not being here.

Shortly thereafter, my son arrived home, and Kat and I realized that we were hungry. Yes, we eat a lot; food is good, and without it, you die. No apologies. So, she volunteered to make a run to Denny's to pick up some brunch-like meals, and we ate and enjoyed our Sunday relaxation for awhile.

The Clean Scene
But not for long... I'd postponed doing laundry for several days too long, and had hit that crucial point of having run out of underwear. Not good. So, while Kat read a book and cat-napped, I gathered a hamper full of dirty clothes and headed once again across the street to the laundromat. While our complex as its own washer and dryer, they're almost always in use, especially on the weekends. Besides, I had several loads to do, and the laundromat has those great triple-loaders so I could knock them all out at once.

As soon as that was done (and the clothes were folded), there was a knock at the door, and my landlord and his potential buyers arrived. Nice folks. They only spent about 10 minutes looking around the place, and then left.

Remainder of the Day
The rest of Sunday was pretty kick-back, as it should be. We cruised around the Interwebz and watched some DVDs. Early in the evening, Kat and I walked once again across the street (I will tell you, having a mini-mall and a grocery store about 100 yards away has always been a blessing here), and got fixings for sandwiches. I also got an entire custard pie, but we won't speak about such things.

The view from my front porch. Behind me is a little mall that includes a post office, a grocery store, a laundromat, a dry cleaners, a sushi restaurant, a coffee house, a dog washing place, a Chinese restaurant, a cigarette store, and more. Convenience, thy name is Beryl Street.

At 7:00, as we do on almost every Sunday for the past five-plus years, we went into Second Life and joined our friends there for Triana's Music Trivia. Triana is a close friend who will be visiting us in less than two weeks, and we had the usual amount of zany fun there. Afterwards, Kat and I watched an episode of one of the best series that ever was produced for television -- the Sopranos -- and then it was time for the weekend to come to a close. I spent a little while afterwards watching some more videos and chatting with friends on Facebook, and then it was time for bed.

That's All?
Yup. And I consider that a really good weekend. It's not at all uncommon for Kat or I (or both of us) having to work over weekends, or to have other responsibilities that take us away from the simple act of relaxing and spending time together. So this weekend was pretty ideal in that regard. While I may be a relatively well-known musician and a guy who likes to have fun, I find that I get the greatest pleasures from simple things. This weekend, while not seeming very spectacular on the written page, was just fine by me, and now I'm ready to tackle the grueling work week in a much better mood than I'd left it on Friday. That's what weekends are for.

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