Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Oh California

The weather in California has apparently been newsworthy. "Storms!" the reporters say breathlessly. "More torrential rains coming our way," they promise. "Stay tuned." And then out of nowhere we see a car floating in several feet of water.

I don't wish to disrespect the ominous floating vehicle, but truly, the crazy Riverside weather has finally peaked out after three days of drizzle. When I moved here six months ago, my apartment began rattling and continued rattling for nearly a minute. California's reaction: a state wide shoulder shrug. I had to google "earthquake" and "Riverside" to confirm that there had indeed been one.

I finally--and this is embarrassing to admit--swooped down on a local beach. Please don't judge me. I loath the traffic. Nevertheless, I printed out my mapquest directions, grabbed my camera and left all my grading for another day. A Minnesota writing buddy of mine was visiting Newport Beach. Actually, we were first Prague writing buddies. We met at the writing workshop there, and most notably, spent a weekend (along with another Minnesota friend) at "Uncle Harry's Hostel" in the middle of the Czech Republic. "Uncle Harry's" turned out to be a house and the owner--who was not named Harry--loathed tourists. This was not a careless conjecture on our part. About his job he said, "I hate tourists," and he said it without a light laugh or twinkle in his eye. He proceeded to stomp about the house for the next two days. My favorite moment was when he walked into the kitchen where I was reading, turned out the light--it was night--and then walked out. The three of us with our Minnesota Nice retreated to whatever room he wasn't in, giggling passive aggressively.

When Lorissa said she was coming to the LA area, I was excited to meet her for lunch. California is no Uncle Harry's Hostel, but we do have some mighty fine strip malls, not to mention lovely beaches. Turns out, I adore Newport Beach. It's one of those shaggy, seaweedy, wild beaches. The sky was grey and deliciously gloomy. It was perfect weather for poking around on the rocks and looking at the water and talking seriously about writing (or in my case, not writing).

The beach was so lovely that I promised myself I would return soon. It had only taken me about 45 minutes to drive to Newport and with a little more nerve, I might even make it in 30. I was brimming with self promises--to write more, to drive more, to see more, to be a better, fuller, more interesting me. The beach can do that to you.

And then I hit mid-day-no-reason-for-a-jam-but-but-hey-why-not traffic.

It took two hours to get home. Oh California. When will I learn to carry a good book on tape?


K said...

We hit one of those traffic jams in San Diego, going up to La Jolla which I pronounced for a while with a hard J and the "O" from Jolly." We also encountered the "winter storms" which meant overcast and a little misty. Wimps. But then they shrug off earthquakes and fires.

American_in_Cairo said...

I love that guy who turned off the light on you. That sounds like a Keri story. Except he would have then shot a rubber band at you or something.
Hey, what does writing sisu mean?

Bryan said...

What I want to know is what did the light guy do with the real Uncle Harry?

I love the way that the gull in the photo seems to be consciously turning away from you in disgust, like, "Gross. Midwesterners."

Writing Sisu said...

Intriguing question, Bryan. (Quiz: Amanda, who am I quoting?)

The "owner" claimed that Uncle Harry was some drunk guy in town. And what's more bizarre, there was a guest book filled with entries praising the hostel's warmth and hospitality. Hm . . . Curious.

The others thought it might be sarcastic. But you never know.

American in Cairo: Another intriguing question.

I wanted to name the blog "Sisu" but that was already taken. Then I thought of California Sisu, but that was just weird. (And it sounded like California Sushi.)

"Sisu" is Finnish and doesn't have a great English translation. It's kind of a Finnish Can-Do spirit. If you think someone's a tough cookie--you can tell them they have a lot of sisu.

American_in_Cairo said...

Yeah, you've got sisu.
It's Haas. do I get an A?
After the gull said, "Gross. Midwesterners," he then turned to his little friend and said, "I only FLY over that."