Christmastime in San Francisco

Well, I made it back from my week long trip on Christmas afternoon. I have spent every Christmas ever in Texas, so this was certainly new for me. Turns out, I had a blast. Traditions are fun, but so are new adventures.

Day 1-3: on the road. If you’ve read my previous few posts, you can see how excited I was about the prospect of doing some long cycling trips at various stops along the way from L.A. to San Francisco. What I didn’t prepare for was that the one storm of the year would last the entire week I was on vacation. I thought about not taking the bike–but I couldn’t risk that the forecasters may have gotten it ALL WRONG–only to wake up & have it be completely sunny outside. So, I loaded the bike in the trunk–made it through my classes Friday & left L.A. that afternoon. I checked into Solvang, CA. Since the rain continued the next day…and the next, I wandered around and “shopped” (I have no patience for shopping, so these trips were short) & then drove & checked into the next hotel–spending lots of time on the internet & reading. Once I got into this laziness mode, it was actually quite relaxing. And at this point, I changed course and said “I’m giving my body a break.” It IS the end of off season, so why not go out with a bang?

Monday: I got to stop by Oakland to see my former work buddy Brenda & have an amazing breakfast & some laughs. Next stop, the airport–where me and my mom and dad somehow got all the luggage in the car, a brand new bike rack on the trunk & my $2,000 bike in place (though I was having a panic attack seeing it hang from the back of my car). We checked into our hotel–beautiful! Eventually met up with Grandma (who took a ferry in from Napa), went to Top of the Mark for some martinis & finished the evening wandering around the city–eating Italian in North Beach, City Lights Bookstore, Chinatown, and a giant HILL. We had to hail a cab for the last couple of blocks, but good effort team!

Tuesday: We woke up early to head to Mama’s, a breakfast institution (otherwise, me and Dad don’t have patience for lines). Breakfast is by far my favorite meal, so I always love going out for it. I can’t stop thinking about the raspberry jam–so homemade, so tasty, I need some right now! After that, we found our double decker tour bus & roamed around downtown. It is a great way to see the city, even if you feel like a cheesy tourist–get over it! You learn so much & get some amazing views. Later on, we stopped by Fisherman’s Wharf & gulped down some chowder. That evening, I got to open Christmas presents & we ended the evening right back up on the top floor, for some food and drinks at Top of the Mark. I’m a big proponent of taking an elevator up to dinner whenever possible.

Wednesday: Our last full day in San Francisco–but a rainy morning. We take the bus out to Golden Gate park–so beautiful and green out there. We end up at the Science Center for hours & also walked around outside & looked at art and such. The bus ride back was gorgeous–the sun was peaking through. We made it to Union Square & booked it to the movie theatre nearby for the newest Little Fockers. How are those movies still funny to me? I’m not sure–but they are. We caught some dinner after the movie & then hailed a cab back to the hotel. I am a mostly pleasant person who rarely loses her cool (if I had any ‘cool’ to begin with), but it appeared to me like a couple of hoodlums were stealing the cab I hailed. I couldn’t take it, so I said something like “Really, you’re going to take the cab?! Thanks!”–The two guys rolled down the window and flipped me off!–and I shouted, sarcastically (of course) “Have a Merry Christmas!” My parents found the whole exchange to be very funny, as did I (when did I become a New Yorker?)–and later told me that they had been waiting in front of me trying to hail a cab before me.

Thursday: We packed up our stuff & headed out to Golden Gate bridge for some great views and photos. Then–to Napa to meet Grandma & have some lunch at Iron Chef Morimoto’s Napa restaurant. We all had sushi–so hip! Grandma took us on a driving tour of Napa & we relaxed back at her place a bit before meeting more family at a restaurant called Fish Story (never can have too much fish in one day). My dad ordered a drink called Bliss. So, that’s what we’re calling him from now on.

Friday: Sunshine, finally!!! I hopped on my bike early that morning & headed out on a road called the Silverado Trail. It goes past tons of wineries & is amazing scenery for miles (it could be a 60 mile ride if you wanted–I didn’t quite have it in me). I’m not exaggerating when I say it was the best ride I’ve ever been on. It was just my style–mostly flat, with a few inclines to keep you working–tons of sights along the way, extremely wide shoulders/bike lane & not too much traffic. I was out for about 2 hours & I completely needed this outdoor adventure. I forget how much I count on them until I have several days stuck inside. We then went to a winery–did the whole tour/tasting thing, which was very fun & then off to Cliff and Neva’s for Christmas Eve dinner. What I will take with me were the board games that followed, though–I was laughing so hard there were TEARS (and I wasn’t the only one).

Saturday: Christmas morning & up early to get the parents to the airport. Cliff gave me bunches of leftovers to take back to the roommates & I had a really easy/quick drive back to L.A. Me, Chuck, Greg, & Wayne sat around watching Christmas movies, playing games, & eating leftovers. It was awesome to have some great friends to come home to!

The whole trip itself was pretty amazing. I’m always reminded of how lucky I am to have the family I have, to do the things I get to do. I will never ever take that stuff for granted. Yes, my 2 brothers have 2 amazing women that they will spend the rest of their lives with & apparently that means spending Xmas with the in-laws every other year–so of course I miss them. And I could sit around and feel sorry for myself as the poor single daughter who hasn’t yet found her man & so is spending the holidays with her parents–but wait, stop, are you kidding me? My parents treated me to a week long vacation & I got to see family I don’t see enough & made memories that are incredibly special! We already started talking about 2 years from now, when we are “alone” again for Christmas…Nashville? Hawaii? Now I’ll only date men whose families are dead or estranged, just so I can keep up these Xmas trips with my parents. Gotta go update my online dating profiles!

I’m happy to be back in L.A. for a full week of NO WORK! I am always usually out of town, but I’m glad to have time to focus on my business, getting my house clean (or more accurately, meeting the cleaning lady tomorrow who I’m paying to clean my house), having some fun times with friends, getting outdoors & preparing for my favorite time of year—triathlon season starting!!! I’m planning out my season this week, which is always such a thrill for me. I had an amazing coached swim workout at UCLA right before my vacation, and it got the ‘bug’ going again. I was huffing and puffing, but I made it through an hour swim with not too much difficulty. I can do this!

New Year’s Eve is coming up, and I’m at a loss. I really have to be honest and admit: I prefer going to bed early sober, so I can do a New Year’s Day bike ride the next morning. I absolutely will not be hitting the town, because the town is overpriced, crowded, and full of drunk drivers. But if there is a house party that my friends can crash, or if we just celebrate here at home–I’ll be happy. I DO love a New Year (and all the symbolism that comes with it)–and it’s also my 10th anniversary of! What what?!?! I know. I’m so glad I’ve changed formats so much & erased all the stuff that was on here 10 years ago. Who knows what I was blabbering on about back then (most likely the same stuff I’m saying right now). But thanks for either sticking with me for 10 years–or joining me on my journey whenever you did. Being sentimental about a website is corny, even for me, but I am completely grateful that it has allowed to share my thoughts through writing. I hope you stick with me another 10 years, if websites even exist then & if some nuclear explosion hasn’t destroyed us all.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year & I’ll talk to you in 2011!

I Haven’t Decorated for Christmas. Have you?

Last year, we had about a dozen strings of lights outside & a Christmas tree in the living room & lots of holiday goodness all around. I think we were 1/2 way motivated because we hosted a Christmas party. This year, we are kind of behind. December does this to me. I can’t even tell you where this last week went. I was sick for 1/2 of it, so all of my energy went into making it through the day without crawling into bed. There were the 12 hour work days that seem to happen more often this month. There was the big Saturday class performance by my students yesterday, who were fabulous (let’s not talk about how I had to step in for one of the actors that didn’t show–playing a dog puppet…”woof”). There was Friday–when I lost an autistic kid at the end of theatre class…let’s just say I’m glad a new week is beginning. Today really feels like the first day off I’ve had in awhile, so I’m getting as much laundry done as I can & planning for my trip that happens this FRIDAY! I’m not sure where Christmas decor fits into all of this.

I am crazy excited about my holiday plans! Starting Friday, I spend a full weekend cycling through Central California wine country–amazing roads I’ve only read about. I’ve already mapped out routes and everything. , wondering why I’ve waited this long to do this. I’m meeting up with my parents on Monday in San Francisco & then with more family mid-week & back in L.A. on Christmas (or later if I’m still enjoying hotel living). I’m imagining I’ll discover cute one-of-a-kind holiday gifts at quaint shops along the California coast–that I’ll sip hot cocoa as I listen to carolers perform in the evening at the Apple Farm hotel I’m staying at. Even that I’m staying at a place with APPLE in the title is really all I need.

Then another week off after that–I want to watch movies, maybe snowboard, definitely work on my new business. I’ve just got to make it through the next 5 days–two more performances (including 2 amazingly choreographed holiday songs that will have the audience jumping out of their seats…hopefully in jubilation, not running for the door in horror). One swim workshop at UCLA, one bike rack I’ve gotta learn how to install on my car (my mustang is so excited not to have me shove my bike in the trunk anymore), 2 gym workouts. One work potluck (the closest we ever come to a true holiday party), one more meeting…let’s do this!

Thanksgiving report and Holiday hunt

Let me start by say I’m writing this from bed with a cold that I pretended I didn’t have Friday and Saturday. Today I will admit defeat by drinking tea and watching TV this morning. I’m sure this won’t last all day because I’m restless (and I have no groceries), but I’m good for a few hours.

Thanksgiving (and Christmas) in Texas was a blast. I love that we can come home to a place that’s so cozy we hardly ever leave. I was there for 5 days, and I left the house maybe 3 times. Me and Kristen ran a 5k Thanksgiving morning (I’ve learned my lesson: no matter how many races you’ve run in the past, if you haven’t really run in the few weeks prior to the race–you should not attempt a PR. Needless to say, I was walking during the final mile because I started out way too fast. But still burned enough calories for the carrot cake greeting me later on during the day). The kids came out and ran a 1/4 of a mile (I ran with them…even more calories!). Other than that, the day is a blur. I mashed some potatoes, we ate the best stuffing ever (thanks Mom!), and then I think there were naps and the sound of people watching football upstairs.

We celebrated Christmas on Friday, but sadly, I had done NONE of my Christmas shopping prior to arriving in Texas. My plan was maybe to hit the outlets which opened at midnight. I was asleep by 10:30, so that didn’t work. My second plan was to wake up at like 5 or 6 & get out there early for some door-busters. Except that I slept in until like 7:30. But at 8 am, I was dressed and ready to join the masses. One small problem: I hate crowds, shopping, and shopping displays that overwhelm me. But somehow I managed to hit 5 stores in 3 hours & finish the shopping. I only started melting during the final store, and I think the greeters in the front could sense this from my demeanor: “Are you OK? Do you need help?” I think I managed to get some deals, but who knows.

We opened presents that night, & I was so excited for all of my gifts. Leather jacket, over the knee boots, H20 audio (it allows me to listen to music in the pool=finally!), an umbrella (I haven’t owned won for years even though it DOES rain in sunny California) & a cute sweater. A major plus was that all this fit in my carry on bag.

So a fun way to spend the holiday, but like everyone, coming back from Thanksgiving I feel a little impatient about the next BIGGER holiday (for me, anyway, I’ll be off for 2 weeks). And there’s that collision of everything that suddenly must happen during the holiday season (performances, end of classes, special events, parties, etc). TWO MORE WEEKS! I’m very excited about the week before Christmas this year–the road trip, San Francisco, Napa…it’s gonna be amazing & then I’m back on Christmas– very cool to spend some time in L.A. when I’m not working (I usually take any free minute off to go somewhere). I won’t have to do the New Year’s Eve flight where I’m desperately trying to get in by midnight.

Holiday hunt: yesterday afternoon I invited my friends to come celebrate the launch of my new business. It was a great crowd of like 20 or so, and I felt so grateful to have people there & offering their support, contacts, ideas, and enthusiasm. The best part was that many of the players (it was a scavenger-type hunt) saw Helen HUNT during the hunt & she even cheered players on. I’m looking forward to continuing to get this thing started, and really–it’s good to have all my friends to answer to. So when I see them next time, and they go, “How’s the business?”–I will have something to say.

Now let’s get back to the off-season. One more month of it, and I’m slowly losing my mind. First off, I made a deal with myself that I would REALLY ease up on the knee (after I ran that 5k!), and so the past week–I really have stuck to swimming and weights. That would be fine, except for those are my two least favorite workouts. And I’ve taken more days off–mostly because not working out sounds more appealing than climbing into a freezing, tiny pool at Bally’s for a long swim. My trainer (who I pretend is my coach) helped put things in perspective, though, during a moment of frustration (I am not good at injuries…): “You have just finished your racing season. You had a tough season & then you had that spider bite & came back quickly from that. Of course your body is going to have some aches & will need to recover.” Now, I know all this–but it’s good to hear someone else say it. And it’s obvious that stopping the biking/running drastically speeds my knee recovery–I can FEEL it in my everyday moving around. So let’s just hope I continue to be smart about this, because I am SO excited about starting another season in January!

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!