Summertime in October

NOTE: This is the first of hopefully 28 other posts as I hopefully blog 50,000 words in the next 30 days, in honor of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I don’t like writing novels, but I like writing about me, so I’m calling it my personal NaNoWriBlog.

I needed my summer. Especially after the lousy summer we had here in Seattle. Summer didn’t show up in any sort of fashion until mid-August, but Fall was right on schedule on Sept. 22. Any chance I had of maintaining my sanity and not driving my wife nuts revolved on me getting some summer. I got it. I didn’t get it until October, and I had to leave Washington, but I got it.

“Hey, you should come down and visit me in San Diego.” Salvation in the form of Kathryn Dean.

Four days of uninterrupted sunshine and warmth? Don’t have to ask me twice.

From the moment I stepped off the plane, I started soaking it in, a comfy 72 degrees according to my iPhone. At just 9am, it was predicted to hit in the 80s sometime in the afternoon. I couldn’t wait to get into some shorts. 

Katie, on the other hand, did not share my enthusiasm. As I climbed in her car, I felt warm air on me. I looked, and she had the heat on. 

“Sorry,” she said, “I’m cold.”

She turned the heat off, rolled down the windows, and we cruised to her new apartment in Coronado. 

While we drove, I thought about my first trip to San Diego. It was almost five years ago. I had just started working for Freeman, and I was dispatched to my very first on-site show in March 2007. I stayed at the Omni Hotel, with a view of Petco Park. I could expense my room service. It was 72 degrees outside. I was fairly certain I was going to spend the rest of my life with this company. Hell, I was fairly certain I wasn’t going to leave San Diego.

“Melissa, I’m not coming back,” I informed my then girlfriend of six months. “I mean, you can come with me, but I’m staying.” 

She was already used to my hyperbole. “Shut up. And besides, what are you going to do without your TV?” She had a point. 

But I spent a week in the city, and despite my iPod being stolen-which the Omni helpfully replaced-I had a great time in San Diego, and looked forward to going back. It took five years, but now we were rolling through the quiet streets of Coronado.

Katie’s apartment, unsurprisingly, was immaculately decorated. For someone who proclaims herself to to be a stuffy, nerdy, engineer, she has a lot of style. I’d imagine she’d probably be an interior decorator in a different life. Her place was also huge. Or it seemed that way. It might have been about the same square footage as my place, but was definitely laid out better and actually had storage. And she’s paying only a tiny bit more than what Melissa and I are paying for our tiny, cramped townhome! I bristled a bit at this news-people had been telling me for years that housing prices in California were ridiculous. And I’m sure they are, but compared to Seattle, they’re really not that bad. 

I quickly changed into some shorts and sandals, and we headed off to the mall. I came to San Diego with no plans, but Katie had been invited to a Halloween party at the last minute, and I was now tagging along with her. I’m not a Halloween guy. Neither is Katie. I don’t have many logical and rational parts of my brain, but one of them highly objects to spending hundreds of dollars on a costume that you’re going to wear once, and then sit in your trunk for three years. I just threw away the last remnants of my Halloween costume-my Lil’ Jon wig-from two years ago. It’s part of the reason why I chose this weekend to come down-there would be almost no chance we would be going to a costume party. Oh well. 

By the time we walked into Party City, it looked like the aftermath of a Zombie outbreak. Not because anyone was dressed up like a zombie, but because the shelves were picked completely clean, and everyone was shuffling around in a daze either trying to pick up a costume, or piece together something from the remnants. While Katie went off in search of a pre-made getup, I went digging through the isles. At one point, I considered being a heavy metal rapper pimp from the swinging 1920s, but by that point, Katie had found me. 

“I found a costume, and they actually had it in my size! But then I had to wait in a line to pick up the thing, and by the time I got to the front of the line, they informed me that they did, in fact, NOT have my size.” She was clearly irritated.

“So what do you want to do?” I asked.

“Eh. I’m over it. We tried,” she shrugged. 

“Okay. No costume it is!” We high-fived. This is why we are friends.

We made our way over to Mission Beach for the party later that evening, she and I more dressed for a club than a Halloween party. I don’t think we even tried to come up with an excuse for our costumes. That’s just how we roll. Her friend Angela, on the other hand, was less forgiving. 

“Where is your costume?” this woman who I had just met demanded.

“I didn’t know about this!” I begged. “It caught me off guard!”

“Caught you off guard?! This is HALLOWEEN!” she said excitedly. Then after a beat, said, “Oh well. Want a beer?”

With the situation defused, I proceeded to have a great evening with Katie and her new friends, Angela (as 80’s era Madonna), Michele (nerd), Stephanie (rocker chick-turned Amy Winehouse after my suggestion and subsequent whirlwind of makeup changes). Later, a few more of Angela’s friends showed up, and we made our way to the party.

The house party was your run-of-the-mill college house party, completely with a drained keg within an hour of us showing up. Despite that, it was great time, aided by the following two encounters:

1) The following conversation that I had with a girl in her early twenties about early 80’s video games:

“Why is that girl wearing a “M” on her hat and carrying a plunger around?” she asked me.

I looked. “Her? She’s Mario.”

“Who?”

“Mario. From the Mario Bros. games.”

“Yeah, I know Mario, but why is she carrying a plunger?”

“Because Mario is a plumber! That’s his job, when he’s not saving his princess that is in another castle, of course.” I had a hunch she wouldn’t get that reference. She didn’t.

Another guy standing next to me jumped in to help. “Yeah, in the original Mario Bros. game, they were plumbers. I think that game came out in the seventies.”

Sigh. Kids these days.

2) Almost immediately after that conversation, two drunk guys stumble out of a bedroom. I don’t remember what the one guy was wearing, but the other guy was Jules from Pulp Fiction. Of course, he was white, but had helpfully smeared black makeup over his face, in case you didn’t get it. He looked at me, and stopped in his tracks with a look of terror on his face. I cocked my head to the side, as if to process what was going on. 

He looked at his buddy, jammed his thumb in my direction, and whispered something in his ear. His buddy turned pale, and they both scurried back into the bedroom. I, of course, thought this was hilarious, but then I felt bad, because I never saw him again, and wanted to explain that I wasn’t offended or pissed off, because he clearly wasn’t trying to be offensive, and his makeup was so poorly applied, that he looked like Samuel L. Jackson with vitiligo. 

After the party, we headed to another bar. Zach, the Long Beach grad who wrote me over the summer, came down from Long Beach to meet me for the evening, and we finally got a chance to talk. When I decided to come down, I shot him an email and told him I’d like to meet him if we made it up to LA during the weekend. Instead, he said he’d come down, since he has a friend in the area, and he wanted to meet me an pick my brain. Yikes. We  about his career, and his frustrations, and what he needed to do next in his career. I felt bad that I didn’t really get a chance to give him my total attention, and then I felt worse when his car broke down and he was stuck in San Diego for an extra day. Zach, if you’re ever up in Seattle, you have my brain’s full attention, and drinks are on me.

Sunday, Katie and I drove out to North Park to check out Tiger Tiger. We were meeting up with my college friend Amanda, and her husband, Jeremy. Some of you may know Amanda as Local Radio Personality Amanda Thorne, former host of the Chill Side on KMTT The Mountain (103.7 on your radio dial, #1 in your heart). Four years ago, she finally escaped the rainy miserableness of Seattle, moved to the foggy miserableness of San Francisco, and finally settled in San Diego. In the meantime, she’d left radio, and started her own business, Thorne Artistry (check her out on Facebook too: www.facebook.com/thorneartistry) that was becoming quite successful. People tell me how much they respect me for going on this path of doing what makes me happy-Amanda is kicking ass at it, and she’s truly happy. And her husband is awesome. 

Tiger Tiger, as was becoming a theme for the weekend, was also awesome. I had a chocolate coconut stout thing that tasted exactly like would you’d imagine a Mounds candy bar would taste if it was a beer instead of a candy bar. Unfortunately, they were in their soft opening period, so I didn’t get to try the menu. But we did get to peek at it, and it looks delicious. It will definitely be a stop on the next visit.

We also met Amanda’s friends, a Canadian couple named Jasmine and Scott. Jasmine is a designer and photographer, who also is following her dream a bit by building a photography business on the side of her day job as a graphic designer. And judging by her work, her future looks very bright. 

I was surprised by the number of friendly and super creative people I met in San Diego-I never would have thought there would have been such an open creative community here. Much better than trying to crack shells here in Seattle. What’s that thing called? The Seattle Freeze? I was thawing out like a mofo.

The rest of my weekend was a blur. We had dinner with Katie’s parents at Sizzler Saturday night, and I gained a new appreciation for the Dean’s favorite family restaurant. We went to Pacific Beach on Monday, walked the beach, then went to Balboa Park and checked out the museums and botanical gardens. Monday, we had dinner at Amanda and Jeremy’s beautiful home, and got drunk off Jeremy’s homebrewed beer while watching the Chargers on Monday Night Football. The perfect end to the perfect weekend. I had fallen in love with this city. 

Tuesday came, and it was time to come back to Seattle. It was hazy, grey and cool out, almost as if to prepare me for my homecoming. After talking my way into a first-class upgrade, I settled into my seat, and waited for the plane to take off. 

“We’ll be taking off shortly,” the pilot announced. “The temperature in Seattle is 37 degrees.” 

The entire plane groaned.

Word Count: 1,976
Total Word Count: 2,401