heather goes tropical: the shangri-la series – part toot

I have discovered the secret (not The Secret . . . calm down, Rhonda Byrne).  What I have discovered is the secret to why everyone in California is in such good shape.  No one works.  Without a pesky job getting in the way, there is ample time to pursue physical fitness and toned SoCal perfection.  My current unemployment actually gives me something in common with these tall, tan wonder women.  Serendipity!  But clearly, I am not trying hard enough.

Feeling the need to fully embrace my (temporary) status as a Real Housewife of San Diego County, I wanted to do what the Romans were doing.  Last week, the Romans were doing Bikram Yoga (well, they probably do that every week).  Yes, Bikram Yoga would certainly cement my elite California status.  I already have the no working thing DOWN . . . I “live” in a mansion . . . the only missing piece to my lifestyle is overpriced exercise classes.  A light bulb went off, and I saw the error of my “jogging by the beach” ways.  Why exercise out in nature for freesies when you can pony up cash to do yoga in a simulated jungle?!?

So, you don’t just go to Bikram Yoga, someone invites you there.  Luckily for me, Nate’s friend (let’s make his blog name Conrad because that sounds regal) gave me the golden ticket.  Now, I am a pretty fair-weather yoga-er . . . which means, I bought my yoga mat at Target and my Rodney Yee DVD’s gather a lot of dust between uses.  That being said, I have always enjoyed yoga as a simultaneously taxing and relaxing venture.  For those who don’t know, Bikram Yoga is also called “hot yoga” because (get this) you do yoga in a *hot* room.  Despite not having any experience in this type of yoga, I was confident that it would be just like riding a bicycle (funny for those of you who know how well I ride bikes).  I was hydrated.  I had my sweat-catching towels.  I felt good.

Conrad and I entered the class, and it was already obvious that I was way out of my league.  First of all, there were several very serious yoga-teers already preparing for class.  By “preparing” I mean, demonstrating feats of yoga strength while looking awesome.  Secondly, it was hot as freakin’ balls in that room!  Have you ever walked into a room that was 105 degrees and not on fire??  I mean, I knew it would be hot (duh), but I don’t think I had a practical idea of what that really meant.  It took all of 10 seconds for my face to turn beet red and glistening . . . I was certain I was going to suffocate . . . and that was just from rolling out my mat.

Despite my best attempts to blend in, I was quickly singled out by the instructor as a newbie.  Hmmm, how on earth did she know??  Was it my complete lack of body temperature regulation?  My Spiderman towel?  The fact that Conrad and I were just lounging on our mats staring at the yoga-teers and giggling??  Either way, I knew this meant I could not melt away into hot yoga anonymity.  I was keenly aware of my special spot on the instructor’s radar.  As class began, I thought I was striking my very best child’s pose, really I did.  You know who did not agree with me?  The yoga instructor (and the yoga-teers most likely).  Within 30 seconds, she was on me like a hot glue gun, adjusting my hips and standing on my feet.  The whole thing made me so nervous, I couldn’t even contemplate her motivation for touching her feet to mine nor could I let my brain wander to the idea that she is probably one of those crunchy types that shuns footwear in favor of barefooting it through the grocery store.

Once the instructor, ya know, got off my feet, I was able to fully focus on how much I was sweating.  I am quite a sweater in my regular, daily existence.  This is always magnified by exercise and is something I have come to accept about myself.  However, this sweating was other level sweating.  It was the self-actualization of sweating on Maslow’s Hierarchy.  My shins were sweating.  My ears were sweating.  At one point, due to the position we were in, I sweated into my own nostrils and eyeballs.  I could have drowned.  Meanwhile (and I can’t make this shit up), there was a women 2 mats down wearing a FLEECE.

Clearly, I survived to write this blog post.  I have heard people say, “all is well that ends well.”  (I think they are the same people who say, “it is what it is.”)  That phrase probably does apply here considering that survival alone is to be commended.  And it wasn’t all bad . . . there was a hilarious moment when I did not understand the pose that were supposed to do and decided to follow Conrad out of the corner of my eye.  Everything was fine until we looked around at the rest of the class and found them doing pretty much the exact opposite of what we were doing.  If only someone had been standing on my feet, that would have made it all better.

I am happy for the experience, but I think the next time the yoga bug bites, I’ll just pop in a DVD, open all the windows, and aim a fan right at my face.

now for a random picture of a dragon-y thinger from the lower deck at shangri-la!

and one from the upper deck . . . it's been so hazy over the Pacific for the last couple weeks which is completely interfering with my blue whale watching.

heather & nate sample the high life: the shangri-la series – part uno

Welcome to how the other half lives (and by “half,” I mean roughly 5% of the US, but 75% of California).  Now, this picture has a couple strikes against it: 1) It’s cloudy, which I no longer have any patience for because it has only taken me a month to become weather spoiled and 2) The waterfall chose not to waterfall when I wanted to take a picture of it.  Everything that has to do with the outside of this house runs itself.  The water decides when and with what level of force it will fall.  The lights decide when they will turn on and off.  A little robot vacuums the pool.  Even the plants seem to prune themselves.  Upon arrival this morning, I thought that maybe the inside of the house also had a self-cleaning function.  The trash had been taken out, our towels laundered, dishes put away, pillows fluffed, and there were significantly less dried dog pee spots on the floor (more on that later).  A quick check of the extensive, wall-sized, Pottery Barn, white-board monthly schedule in the kitchen, however, dashed my hopes of a self-cleaning house and confirmed the existence of a cleaning lady.  Trust me when I say, THIS is the life . . . the life you are leading that you think is THE life is, in fact, not.

Bah, I am getting ahead of myself.  I haven’t even explained the circumstances that would allow for me to come within 20 feet of a house like this without my ski mask and the cover of night.  What started out as house sitting for a family while they enjoy an Italian vacation somehow became house sitting plus dog sitting for a family while they enjoy an Italian vacation.  Allow me to introduce to you the little reasons why this job went from cake to ummmm, not cake.

Blog Name: Auglet Doglet (a.k.a. Turdlet Ferglet)

Modus Operandi: bogarting any and all food while crying and begging for more food, falling over and not being able to get up without assistance, once took a bold dump in the middle of the stairs.

Blog Name: Smella (a.k.a. Notorious P.E.E.)

Modus Operandi: incessant indoor peeing, peeing on her own tail, shaking said tail in order to golden shower those within a 5 foot radius, once fought nearly to the death over a stuffed toy meant to resemble a hot dog.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking . . . “Awwwww, look at those cute bundles of adorable dog-ness with their sweet faces and funny ears. How could they possibly be any trouble?  Unless you hate love and animals, Heather.  Do you hate love and animals??”  Freaking Suckers.  That is exactly how they lull you into thinking that they aren’t barking, fighting, chewing, shitting, pissing pieces of dog douche bags.  And for the record, I love love and animals.

When I am not pretending to be one of the Real Housewives of San Diego County, I am obsessing over this.

Nooooooo, that is not beer (come on, you people know me better than that) . . . it is amazingly delicious honey from the Carlsbad Farmers Market, and I have done nothing but try to figure out how to incorporate it into everything I eat.  Honey on oatmeal, good.  Honey on whole wheat pasta, bad.

shout out Max's Honey House.

siiiiiick . . . as a dog

Ha! I have NOT abandoned my original blog theme in favor of song titles and references.  Really, I think the idea of “California Vernacular” has just grown and broadened a bit . . . with the realization that my adjustments here are not so literal and don’t always have a language connection.  At least that’s what I tell myself so that I can sleep at night.

I have been sick as a California dog these past few days.  I am not entirely sure what a California dog is, but I imagine it is sicker than, say, a non-California dog.  What started as a sneaky little, entry-level sore throat managed to work its way up the ladder, right through the glass ceiling (no man was going to hold this bitch back), and into a top executive head cold.  Nothing like a cold to remind one how important it is to be able to breathe.  There are a few things in life that make me really irrational (this is actually a very long list, but I will edit to 3 for space): people being mean to animals, people being stupid while driving, and not being able to breathe.  So, add to this respiratory irrationality a fever and what you have is a recipe for disaster . . . or, in my case, a recipe for punching myself in the face.  No, that is not a metaphor.  I genuinely, 100% punched myself in the face (the nose to be more precise).  Friday night found me in such dire straights on my quest for air that the only logical way was to fight my own nose.  I remember it like this:

* Heather suddenly awakens, gasping for air, unable to get any oxygen to her brain. *

Heather: Nose, I oughta kick your ass!

Nose: Don’t write a check your butt can’t cash.

Heather: Why don’t you say that to my face!?!

Nose: Pretty sure I just did.

* Heather, enraged and spewing obscenities in languages she doesn’t know, hauls off and teaches her nose a lesson or two. *

Let me tell you, my delirium did nothing to ease the pain . . . or stop the bruising.

In addition to schooling my nose, I used my sick time to compile a list of interesting things about my current Californian environment.  It seemed easier than coming up with an actual blog topic.

1. California dude fashion

I know I have previously mentioned man tanks, but I don’t think I did justice to how ubiquitous the man tank is out here.  The man tank is a universal fashion item.  It cuts across all racial, religious, and ideological boundaries.  It does not matter how old you are, what kind of music you like, if you are in good shape, or if you have a job.  If you’re a man, you rock a man tank.

Secondly, all the teens out here wear old man tube socks.  Nate has told me (via his swimmers) that the kids justify this by calling them “compression socks” and spouting science about how it helps their circulation.  Riiiiight, but worrying about your circulation at 13 is a pretty old man kind of concern, no?  Also, it’s 75 degrees out, but if you’re cold, how about you just put on some pants??  I’ll admit, I dissolved into a fit of laughter when the first kid skated by in his board shorts and Vans and old man tube socks.  It became less funny (and more disturbing) over time.

2. California supermarkets

Not only do the grocery baggers feel the need to make small talk while I am hawk-eyeing the register to make sure my coupons are ringing up properly, but they also ask if you “need help out.”  The first time I was asked, I did not understand the question at all . . . which must have read on my face . . . causing the woman to add, “out to the parking lot with your groceries.”  I was honestly caught so off-guard that I made a weird snort and laughed instead of politely declining.  I probably ruined that woman’s day, but really?  I had, maybe, 7 items.

3. California Mexican restaurants

Southern California has more Mexican restaurants than Mexico.  I have never been to Mexico, but I am convinced this is the truth.  Mexican restaurants are like Starbucks with beans and rice and delicious melty cheese.

4. California train tracks

California is the only place I have ever been where it is actually AWESOME to be from the other side of the tracks.  Southern California has a coastal train system which places the tracks in prime real estate.  Of course, this makes for a delightfully scenic train ride, but I can’t imagine spending my multi-millions on property with a view only to have it abut the train tracks.  It is not just these bajillionaires that have to put up with the trains and their associated noise.  Anyone living within a mile or so of the beach gets treated to train whistles, the clang of railroad crossings, and chugga chugga.  If one is lucky enough to actually live on the other side of those tracks??  Well, let’s just say these people are not your Dylan McKay bad boys, riding motorcycles, and visiting Dad in prison.  If the crash of the waves doesn’t drown out the train in the backyard, well then they can just shove money in their ears.

5. La Cucaracha

Someone in my neighborhood has a La Cucaracha car horn.  They use it liberally.  I can’t even get mad because it’s so amazing.

OK, and for those of you who feel there was too much text in this post and not enough pictures, I will leave you with a picture of my new favorite California bird: the Black Phoebe.  Ack!!! He is so cute!!!!!

Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)

Image via Wikipedia

we will never sleep, ’cause sleep is for the weak.

Last night/this morning, I was up until 1:00 am.  If you are handy with the maths, then you have already surmised that 1:00 am PST is the equivalent of 4:00 am EST.  (If you are less than handy with the maths, don’t trouble yourself trying to figure it out.  It is a complex time zone conversion formula best left to eggheads.)  And for those of you who think that this boring post about bedtimes is going nowhere, never fear . . . I am illustrating a point.

OK, I’m going to admit something that will shock and possibly horrify the majority of you.  When I moved out here, I had every intention of staying on east coast time.  I know; I can hear you all now: “WHAT?!? Whyyyyy would someone want to do that??  It’s nonsensical, blasphemous to the idea of starting a new life, and (most importantly) weird – Where are our torches and pitchforks!?!”  Hold your ponies people, and allow a girl to explain . . .

The attachment to my former chunk of the world clock is part nostalgia, part biology, and part jealousy.  I don’t really like being on a different schedule than my family and friends.  So, east coasting it on the west side made me feel closer to them, and I may have been clinging to that like a security blanket (not that I have one of those . . . nor do I have a bear named Bloopy).  Then, of course, there is the simple science of my body acting how it is used to acting.  It was certainly going to take more than a week for my internal clock to recognize that noon is the new 3:00.  Going to bed early (read 9:00 pm) and getting up early (read 6:30 am), made me feel like a new version of my 2nd shift self.  I was up and at ’em (as my mother would say) instead of forcing myself out of bed before 11.  The only real problem with this schedule (aside from my early acceptance into AARP) was that I was missing out on my nighttime TV show line-ups.  Here is where the jealousy comes in . . . It’s bad enough the east coast watches everything first, but I was yawning so hard by 8:30 pm that the idea of staying up for Jersey Shore was more laughable than Mike actually “twinning.”  I guess part of me knew I would have to shape up, if not immediately, then definitely by September 6th (SOA).

Anyway, without my even noticing it, California has managed to sneakily seep into my circadian rhythm . . . and BAM all of the sudden I’m up until 1:00 am like a freakin’ night owl.

And in a totally unplanned and not at all awkward segue . . . look at these owl slippers I got downtown last night!!!

just the right amount of slipper for chilly San Diego nights.

Believe it or not, my night got even better than owl slippers.  The reason Nate and I were downtown was to attend a Bring Me The Horizon show (well, that was the reason I was there – Nate was there because I made him).  I refuse to stand at shows anymore because I am just too old for that shit, so I had purchased us seats in the balcony.  About a week ago, I received a phone call telling me that they had closed the balcony for the show but would be able to accommodate us “elsewhere.”  Once we got there and after the security guard GRILLED my Connecticut ID, we ended up in VIP seating.  No one blocking my view AND a special gold wristband?  Not too shabby for my first San Diego show.  The best part was that it took Nate and I all of 2 seconds to start acting like VIPs.  We would have been all-stars in that blue eyes/brown eyes social experiment.  With very little convincing, we knew we were leagues better than anyone else at that show (oozing superiority while making sure to apply just the right amount of condescending pity to all of our interactions with non-VIPs . . . it’s not their fault after all).

Kidding aside, I find it hard to keep up with all the changes my music scene has seen over the course of the last few years.  Remember when shows were full of kids in black hoodies?  Remember when a dude sporting a man-tank and a girl hair cut would have gotten “his” ass kicked?  Remember when I didn’t have to wear ear plugs to ensure that I could hear the next day??  Yeah, never mind my VIP mentality, I’m just old.

check out my arm hair!! i mean, special VIP wristband!!!

crazy lil peons going all bananas

Finally (and I mean that, this post has become epic in length), my stuff arrived (unscathed) which was surprising considering the condition of most of the boxes.  Seriously, they looked like multiple dinosaurs had taken multiples bites out of them while making this noise: RRAAAAWWWWRRRR!!!!!  So, here is our living room after many, many days of unpacking and cleaning – still need to get the art hung on the walls, but it sure is nice to have a place to sit.

extra long tablecloths are all the rage here on the west coast.