there’s no bathroom, and there is no sink. the water out of the tap is very hard to drink.

That’s right. Tomorrow. Tomorrow (2/13)  is THE day to tune into Breaking Up To A Beat for an original short piece of fiction by everyone’s favorite blogger. I think it’s probably necessary that I specify that I mean me.

On a side note (there is always a side note), I’m not sure it’s common knowledge that the tap water in San Diego is legitimately hard to drink. It tastes like a cross between an old puddle near a dumpster and chlorinated sour milk. Now, I did grow up in Newington, CT, home of the most delicious water to ever spring forth from a tap. However, I don’t think that my distaste for SoCal water is a form of water elitism. They can hardly keep Brita pitchers on the shelf at Target.

English: Drop of water falling into a glass of...

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tell me baby, what’s your story?

The Red Hot Chili Peppers band members in 2000...

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Gah, I know. Second post in a row with a RHCP title. Can I blame California?? The Red Hot Chili Peppers must hold some sort of record for the most references to the Golden State . . . if not in song/album titles, certainly within the lyrics. With California monopolizing all levels of my consciousness, it only makes sense that I would arrive at RHCP music while using song-related free association (my favorite school bus game of yesteryear btw) to title my posts.

I guess it’s not entirely fair for me to blame California (for this anyway – if you would like a list of the other things I am currently blaming on CA, just ask). My thing for the Red Hot Chili Peppers didn’t start when I moved here . . . nor did it start when Anthony Keidis and Dave Navarro made out in that video (H-O-T). It actually started in 5th grade when I insisted on singing Under The Bridge to an audience of parents at some girl scout event. Yes, that really happened, and nothing I can say right now can possibly encapsulate how monumentally amazing it is that a moment like that actually occurred.

Want more examples? Oh good!! Because I have one more. I also walked down the aisle to a Red Hot Chili Peppers song (an orchestrated version of Soul to Squeeze). *Sigh* I am such a romantic.

Well, I sure am glad I just spent all that time establishing my feelings about something that has nothing to do with the reason I started writing today. My intention for this post is to announce my participation in a very special guest blogging opportunity set up by talented writer and all-around keen dude, Tim Stevens. I was going to explain the particulars, but since I wasted a lot of writing energy on the Red Hot Chili Peppers thing, I will instead direct you to the blog where Tim does a better job of explaining it than I would have anyway (he wasn’t the NHS class of ’99 El Presidente for nothing, folks).

Breaking Up to A Beat <—– click it or ticket

I will admit to being a little nervous here stepping outside my comfort zone. (Do I even have one of those? I am almost always feeling at least slightly awkward.) I’m fairly certain that I have not touched this subject matter since I was an angsty teen, and I’m really not trying to do the angsty teen thing . . . right now. In the end though, I was intrigued by the concept, and the idea of doing something a bit different than the usual for me was the clincher. I encourage everyone to follow along for the month of February, and then vote for your favorite at the end. Your favorite doesn’t have to be my piece, but it would be a lot cooler if it was.

I will post again once I know the date that my story will appear. Then my loyal readership can feel free to flock to the website in droves, overwhelming the server with sheer numbers and also with brute force (because that’s just how my readers roll).

with the birds i’ll share this lonely view

All you have to do to get a job in San Diego County is agree not to get paid for it.

This past Friday, I discovered bird heaven. I am using the word “discovered” in the same way that it is applied to Christopher Columbus. Like, I am positive that a decent amount of people already know of this bird heaven’s existence and have spent a lot of time there, making me in no way the first to encounter its awesomeness. That being said, I still expect some sort of fanfare or a national holiday in response to my “discovery.”

I claim this new land in the name of Rainbow Brite (who comissioned my arduous journey).

Batiquitos Lagoon is a birder’s paradise (not to be confused with a Gangsta’s Paradise . . . because I see how one could have confused the two) due largely to the fact that it is a perfect storm of vegetation and geology, attracting waterfowl, shore birds, birds of prey, and perching birds. Swoon!

While on my hike, I spent a lot of time internally squealing with delight over all the little birdlets hopping around in the brush. The key was to remain as still and as silent as possible (hence the internal squeal). If I was able to do that for just a few beats, sparrows, finches, and phoebes would peak out of their hiding spots and dart through the air and over the path. Once they were out and about, I spoke to them in a voice I generally reserve for psych patients.

Crazy bird lady status: Cemented.

The only interrupting factors during my own personal bird parade were joggers. Just as I was sure I was about to experience my Snow White moment, complete with birds landing lightly on my out-stretched arms, a runner would bolt around the corner and scare everything back into concealment.

I was so completely happy on this lagoon-y slice of land, that I decided I needed to spend more time there. It is no secret that adjusting to the unemployed life out here has been pretty isolating. Nate works 3 (and sometimes 4) jobs to support his coaching habit, and it leaves me with a LOT of alone time. Since Batiquitos brought me some reprieve from my shit spiral, I figured I would see how I could get involved. I emailed about volunteering to be a docent and have already heard back! Real jobs are for the birds!!

THE FIVE

Woah there, crazypants! What’s with the giant, intimidating capital letters!?! Are you shouting? Are you angry?? Did you forget what the button marked “Caps Lock” does??? *

Observant readers will note that I never use uppercase letters in the titles to my blog posts even though, grammatically, I should. There is just something so visually appealing and aesthetically pleasing about lowercase letters. They’re so small and uniform and delicious . . . I will spare you my love letter to the fairer case (as well as the one I have in the works about the Garamond font) because that is not what this post is about. Really, I just need you to know that I do not take the use of capital letters lightly. If I have made the decision to use all caps, you better believe there is a reason.

5. An Interstate highway on-ramp sign. Scott R...

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Today, that reason is THE FIVE (and yes, I am going to keep referring to it like that throughout the post). THE FIVE is what cool kids ’round these parts call Interstate 5, the massive, parallel-to-the-Pacific-running highway that starts just south of the border (Mexico, pronounced MEH-hee-co) and ends just north of the border (Canada, pronounced EH?). That’s 1381.29 miles, folks – and no, I did not know that off the top of my head. While THE FIVE’s span is impressive, what is more impressive is the amount of vehicles that utilize the highway on a daily basis. I recently read a statistic that the north county corridor (referring only to the section of I-5 that runs through Northern San Diego County) is traveled by 70,000 vehicles A DAY (see what I did again there with the capital letters). I used to live in East Hampton, Connecticut; I don’t think Route 66 saw 70,000 vehicles in a year.

Now, hopefully you are beginning to see why THE FIVE deserves its towering stature. It’s not just a highway – it’s an omnipresent entity, an enigma wrapped in an exhaust cloud, a beast. You know how the road in Cormac McCarthy‘s The Road is more like a character than a setting? Yeah, it’s like that.

As is such, THE FIVE and I have a relationship. I should mention that THE FIVE and I live together. It’s kind of a big deal out here to live west of THE FIVE. In the area of Carlsbad where I dwell, it means you live, at most, 0.85 miles from the beach. For those of us not blessed with trust funds (thanks a lot, Mom and Dad) or six-figure salaries (thanks a lot, art therapy), it means that you live just west of THE FIVE. Some days, THE FIVE is a really bad roommate, loud and emitting toxic fumes. Other times, THE FIVE can be a real pal, drowning out your neighbor’s maximum volume TV and scaring away girl scouts.

The most important part of our interaction, however, is governed by fear. THE FIVE rules by intimidation, and I am definitely the beta in our relationship’s dominance hierarchy. I would like to say that my first experience driving on this roadway was atypical, but I think I know better now. THE FIVE will destroy you if you fall into that kind of complacent thinking. I was driving southbound to La Jolla when I noticed a pick-up truck entering the highway via a somewhat curvacious highway on-ramp. Just as my vehicle moved to parallel with this vehicle, the pick-up lost control, smashed into the sidewall, and flipped into the air, finally landing behind me on its roof. Welcome to THE FIVE, bitches.

Similar to Stockholm Syndrome, I do sympathize with THE FIVE. It’s not THE FIVE’s fault that the drivers in California are bananas. There are way too many people in way more of a rush than anyone needs to be. Californians accelerate as though they are trying to break the sound barrier. There is no gradual, gas-tank conscious build up of speed. The moment they turn their white, luxury SUV onto the highway ramp, they expect to be at highway speed (highway speed, by the way, has nothing to do with the speed limit). What this means for me is a long line of irate looking tan people trying to figure out how best to leave the Focus in their dust while I attempt to coax it above 60. I guess I just thought that Southern Californians would be a bit more relaxed as drivers than they actually are. Like, where exactly are you hurrying off to at 11:30 am on a weekday? Will the beach not be sunny again tomorrow??

So, Nate and I have a deal worked out. I drive if we are staying local and not spending too much time on the highway. He drives if we will be doing the majority of our driving on THE FIVE. While he drives, I attempt not to hyperventilate or scream when I see brake lights. Nate appreciates my efforts, but would probably prefer that I take my anxiety and hang out in the trunk. Some might say that I am avoiding, letting fear run my life, and in doing so, I am missing out on what could be a positive and meaningful relationship with THE FIVE. To those people I say, eat shit.

* In case you’re still plagued with wonder regarding those questions in the first paragraph that I asked myself while pretending to be you: 1.) Nope, singing.  2.) Always.  3.) No, but I honestly have no idea what F1 – F12 are good for.

all my life i’ve been searching for something . . .

If I had a nickel for every time my blog views spiked over 20, well, I’d have roughly 15 cents. I don’t post everyday or even every week, so the reason I check my Site Stats on the daily has nothing to do with any sort of unrealistic viral expectation. The reason I check is to see the wacky terms people plug into internet search engines. It works like this:

Curious about whether or not Odwalla smoothies can be frozen, you (internet crusader) google the following logical question, “can you freeze odwalla.” Lucky ducky, you happen upon my blog post about participating in just such an experimentation. Yaaayyy for you – frozen Odwalla for everyone!! What you don’t know is that WordPress site stats records your search term and reports it to me so that I can see how those who view my blog are finding it amongst all the interwebs’ clutter. Big Brother-ific!!

For those creepers who just choked on their Cheetos, there is no reporting of WHO views my blog or IP addresses or anything like that, so please, continue to lurk about in a troll-like manner. (Really, I mean that, you are at least half my viewing audience.)

Surprisingly, some people who happen upon my blog are actually looking for it. I have seen a few variations of “california vernacular” or “california curls” combined with my name or word press. However, the vast majority of those who come across my blog from an internet search were clearly not intending to find what they did. Below is a summarized version of the search terms that have led people to california vernacular since its conception.

Search intent: Comfy Animal-Themed Footwear

By far the most popular search that leads to my blog, those seeking owl slippers make up the lion share of my accidental readership. Whether it is just plain “owl slippers,” the more specific “ladies owl slippers” and “barn owl slippers,” or even the mysterious “night slipper,” it seems that posting a picture of my bird-inspired footwear has been the wisest of all marketing moves.

like, a lot of people give a hoot.

Search intent: Bring Me The Horizon merchandise

The second most searchable thing I ever wrote about was also a part of the owl slippers post (apparently, I was on some sort of unintentional roll that day). One should never underestimate how many tweens ferociously rack cyberspace looking for hoodies and t-shirts emblazoned with Bring Me The Horizon lyrics. If my blog sold owl slippers and BMTH gear instead of sarcasm and alliteration, I’d be a riotously rich writer.

Search intent: Urine

I wish I was making this up, but if you were to type, say, “dog pee,” “pissing on car,” or “pee anymore” into the ol’ search bar (never you mind WHY someone would be looking up those things), guess where you would end up?? Hopefully, my blog is at least on page 3 of this type of search.

Search intent: Porn

What a disappointment to those who searched for the following: “girls from New England,” “vip girls,” “pool whipping,” and “whipping tube.” I don’t pretend to understand why some of these terms are pornographic, it’s just a feeling I get. Imagine what kinds of searches will find my blog now that I have included this porn-titled section – awesome!

Search intent: WTF

Lastly, here are a few very special search terms that have defied all categorization and reason: “yellow ferrari bananaz license plate,” “kia green cars pie charts,” “dragon eating its tail,” . . . . . and the grand daddy of them all, brace yourselves . . . . “heather gos up to 120f dgree” (authentic typos included). Perhaps that one belongs in the porn category, too??

the wedding post to end all wedding posts.

a.k.a. the wedding post to start AND end all wedding posts

(Because, as it turns out, I have never blogged about my wedding.)

So, you know how on airplanes during the flight attendant’s safety monologue they always emphasize that, if you are traveling with a small child, you are to secure your oxygen mask before securing the child’s?

On our flight back to San Diego from Connecticut, we had a real over-achieving flight attendant.  By over-achieving, I do not mean that she inserted funny jokes or choreographed dance moves into the safety monologue.  No, I mean, that this person takes her job of imparting in-case-of-emergency-information very seriously.  I have no qualms with this, really.  I am generally the first person to say something like, “it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye!” or to shout “no horseplay, tomfoolery, shenanigans, rough-housing, kerfuffles, or hullabaloo!” just to cover all safety bases.  However, this flight attendant, so serious she was about making sure that all the adults accompanied by children fully understood that under no circumstances should they secure their child’s oxygen mask before their own, actually did a lap around the plane, gesturing to each parent and/or guardian and giving them a stern warning.  For those of you who haven’t yet guessed where this is going, the flight attendant’s tour included a stop at our row where she told Nate (all the while holding the prop oxygen mask aloft over her head with the elastic backing expanded), “Make sure you affix your mask before hers.”  Needless to say, my reply of, “We were recently married!” was met with some strange looks.

*Just as a disclaimer on the (very) off chance anyone that I do not know personally is reading this blog: Nate and I are both consenting adults, well above the legal marrying age.  In fact, I am 1.5 years older than Nate in life years, but easily 10 years younger in visible years. (Nate zing!!!)

Anyhoot, it is official (very official – we just received our marriage license by pony express today) – I am a married lady!  With this newly married status comes all of the awkwardness of referring to each other as husband and wife that you would expect.  If someone says, Mrs. C, I turn around in search of Nate’s mom.  In a message to a friend (Hiiiiiiii, Kira!) earlier this week, I actually put the word husband in quotes . . . like Nate is allegedly my husband.  But really it is all kind of cool, and I plan to enjoy this time thoroughly.  Because I figure we have only about a year until people start grilling us about children.

OK, now I said this post would be about the wedding, and I really want this post to be about the wedding.  The problem I am having is trying to make sense out of the crazy jumble that exists in my head.  I know I was happy; I know the day was a sock rockin’ good time . . . but what I don’t know is how to suss the details out of the whirlwindy blurry-ness that is my recollection.  You know what??  Screw a normal blog post with sensical storyline and chronology, and instead, welcome to my brain.  Here are some of my favorite wedding snippets from 11/18/11:

  • Gasping in disbelief over how dry my elbows were 10 minutes before walking down the aisle, and not having any moisturizer.  Being reassured by my ever-patient wedding party that no one would be looking at my elbows.  Deciding to use Burt’s Bees chapstick on them after my brother reminded me that I had once used chapstick on my face in an act of SPF desperation.
  • Cursing the school bus that ended up in front of the ladies’ limo on the way to the venue.
  • Trying desperately not to cry while walking down the aisle with my dad. Failing.
  • Being helped out of my picture taking spot before the ceremony by all the dudes in my bridal party, each one holding a different piece of my dress.
  • Catching Nate’s eye as I turned the corner.
  • Walking in to see how the venue looked all decorated, and freaking out because it looked so good.
  • The Hiding Room
  • Running so unbelievably late from hair and make-up that I had to tell my parents to head to the hotel without me.
  • Hoping against hope that none of my bridal party gals tipped over on the soft, not-level ground during photo time.
  • Trying desperately not to cry while reading my vows. Failing.
  • Changing into my wedding Converse and losing 5 inches of height.
  • Dancing with my Dad who knew all the words to every single song.
  • Turning in dither-y circles in the hotel room while wearing flesh-colored shorts (although not the color of my flesh) and trying to figure out how to do the most basic of tasks.
  • Eating the following: bite of salad, 3 butternut squash ravioli, bite of fish, bite of cupcake, 3 bites of ice cream.  But drinking a bathtub’s worth of water.
  • Forgetting my bouquet as I set out to walk down the aisle.
  • The interesting segue between our metal reception intro and our first dance song. (A7X to Alexi Murdoch if you’re curious.)
  • My mom (looking hot to trot) getting jiggy with our wedding crasher, and then being really mad that no one told her he was a wedding crasher.
  • Not knowing how to thank my brother for the absolutely awesome speech he gave.
  • Standing in complete darkness with Nate in the Troll Hole, trusting our photographer’s vision.
  • Seeing how seamlessly our two sides of the family came together and celebrated.
  • Laughing.
  • Being so unbelievably thankful for my amazing family and wedding party.
  • Taking one quiet moment to look around me. Literally one quiet moment.  But I got it.

There are so many more, so many truly special moments, so many little conversations . . . all together they make up my (scattered) memory of one of the most important days I’ll ever know.  This is big time, folks, the real stuffing of life – totally surreal and every bit as awesome as I had imagined it to be.

Now to shamelessly plug all the people and places that made it happen on the professional end.  Go to their websites, drink their kool-aid, use their services!!

The Angry Chair (or as I like to call it: The Happy Chair . . . I kid, I don’t call it that.)

FACE by Julia (If she can make me look hot, she’ll work wonders with your ugly mugs, too.)

Carrie Draghi Photography (The calm eye of my storm all day. She is so freakishly good at what she does, it honestly scares small children.)

The Barns at Wesleyan Hills (The staff here are unparalleled.  Seriously.  You can email them with some wacky bridezilla question at, like, midnight and get an answer.)

Kim’s Cottage Confections (Ace of Cakes, who??)

Mike Connolly Sound Productions (The ring master of wedding circuses! Infinitely better than an IPOD on shuffle.)

Darlene Rice, JOP (Perfectly in tune with what we wanted for our ceremony, and pulled it off brilliantly!)

Sharon Elizabeth (So blown away by how they brought my vision to life. I think they could turn a dank cellar into a hot wedding venue . . . I mean, if that’s your thing.)

Steph Kexel Jewelry (Made the most beautiful bracelets for the ladies in our wedding party!)

I would have hated to have a wedding without the following Etsy Sellers: Green Doxie Events, Bleu de Toi, dapper dean, Alex Bridal, Route 4 Glassblowing Studio, Baroque and Roll, Lara Lewis, sj engraving, Wedding Crashers, and Timeless Paper.  Yayyy small business and handmade goods!!

Thank you so much to everyone who had a part in our day, and thank you to all our friends and family who shared it with us!! We love you!

photo credit goes to the incomparable J. Granville Chandler

counting white cars

I have never been so obsessed with cars as I have been out here.  This is likely because I can’t drive two miles without having to rub my eyes to make sure I am not seeing things.  People drive the kinds of cars I thought were reserved for royalty and plastic surgeons.  These are the kinds of cars that eat Ford Foci for breakfast . . . no wait, breakfast is the most important meal of the day . . . these cars eat Ford Foci for that snack at 3:00 pm when it has been too long since lunch, but it is way too early for dinner.

BMW 5 series and Mercedes C-class are like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accords of the west coast.  In other words, they are ubiquitous and no one in California is impressed by your ability to own one.  If you really want to get noticed (and everyone out here does . . . Eep! Did that sound jaded?), you are going to have to look outside of Japan for your vehicles.

You are going to want to look in Italy.  Maserati, Lamborghini, Ferrari . . . basically anything that ends in an “i” will get you noticed.  If you need to, make your car yellow.  This ensures that not even the sun will be able to compete with your automobile.  But what if you just need something small and good on gas mileage – for meeting the girls for lunch, going to spa appointments, or bringing Pretty Pretty Princess Glitter McSparkle Puppypants to the groomer?  Italy has you covered there, too.  Just pick yourself up a Fiat with your pocket change.  It’s so adorable for when you want to slum it, and if you happen to ding it parallel parking in front of Starbucks – who cares!?!  Throw it out, and get a new one!!

If you are looking for a little bit more prestige/snobbery in your vehicle, you should definitely check out England.  Bentley, Rolls Royce, Jaguar . . . These cars are designed with a haughty British accent and are meant to make on-lookers feel like vile losers.

pardon me, but could you please move your Kia with the Maine license plate? my Bentley doesn't like being down wind of it.

Beyond all the Luxury (with a capital “L”) cars, my other major car-related observation is that everyone drives white cars.  Seriously, I have never seen so many white cars.  If I were to add up all the white cars I witnessed in 29 years and 10 months on the east coast, it would not total the amount of white cars I have seen here in only 2 months.  Wanting to make this observation more than just a hunch, I decided to pursue my hypothesis through scientific research.

While driving the same 2 mile stretch of road everyday for 4 consecutive days at roughly the same time, I counted cars (one color per day).  Now, before you get all loony about the sheer number of cars I saw within 2 miles, I need to tell you that Carlsbad High School uses said street as auxiliary parking for students.  Below is a complex chart that reveals my findings.

Red Cars: 19

Blue Cars: 26*

Black Cars: 21

White Cars: 60

* I did not count my own blue 2001 Ford Focus mainly because it is so dirty it’s really more brown than blue.

I think these results speak for themselves, but for some reason I really want to include a pie chart.  You’ll notice that, with the exception of black, the colors on the pie chart have no relation to the colors of the cars.  I like green, and I don’t care who knows it.

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