The GGA Project -- Day #294 "Lots of Ways Down a Mountain"

So this is a minor thing, but I swear it blew my mind.

Today my Mom and I were setting out to check out a just-opened Fresh and Easy store by the Target closest to my house.  That makes two of my favorite shopping locales together in one place; they are even connected as part of the same large building.  Dangerous.

Anyway, my Dad was with us because we had to drop him off to pick up his Jeep, which was being repaired.  Letting my Mom (who was driving) know the best way to get there, he told her to take a left by the high school near our house.

I'd only heard him say "turn by the school," so I'd assumed he was talking about at middle school a little ways down the road, and since I wasn't watching the road I missed the turn altogether and was shocked when I looked up only 20 seconds later expecting to see a familiar street and instead saw the large gravestones of a very old cemetery I didn't even know existed.

Today's New Activity: Discovering Fletcher Lane

I'm usually pretty adventurous when it comes to exploring roads of all kinds, most especially the ones near where I live.  But as I mentioned last week, I only recently begun to think of Hayward as my home, so I'd yet to put any energy into finding short cuts or long cuts or interesting cuts to anywhere nearby.  I didn't even know turning left by the high school led to anywhere.  I thought it was a short residential street that ended as soon as it began.

Nope.  It winds past that cemetery, past five or six nice-looking apartment complexes, down to Mission Blvd, and straight into the side street that leads to the freeway.  I felt like I'd just been let in on a major secret, even if the payoff was a minor one.

I love knowing areas well.  I love being able to tell people the quickest or most efficient (German in me speaking there) way to get from A to B.  And though I'd like to have had a more interesting new activity to write about today, my day off no less, I love that I know my hometown just a little bit better for having stayed local :)


The GGA Project -- Day #293 "Not an Upboat"

Fair warning: today's new activity brought me into what are not--to the vast, surfing community probably--the deep, netherworlds of the internet, but about as deep as I'll ever want to go.  It's not that anything weird was going on (not that I saw), but I'm only willing to travel so far along the road of internet terms and subcultures...for now I'm still liking what I can see and whom I can meet in the world of actual, physical things.

It started a few weeks ago when I was chatting with an old high school friend and used a pretty slangy term.  It surprised him, owing (I'd assume) to the fact that I was 17 when we were last close.  A lot can change in (haysoose kristo!) 16 years.  His response to my use of this slang term was "you're the last person on earth I'd expect to say that.  Next you're gonna tell me you're a Redditor."

My response to *that* was, "well zero chance of that, since I had to look up that term on urbandictionary.com just now," and that was the end of that part of the conversation.  And while I did find the meaning of the term, I didn't investigate any further.

Today's New Activity: Trolling the Pages of Reddit.com

Ok.  This is one of those things that apparently everybody else knew about and I was just in the dark on, because I could tell from both the urbandictionary.com and Wikipedia pages on the subject (as well as my own friend's reference to it) that reddit.com fanatics seem to have a special level in hell already reserved for them.  They are those people whom other, non-Redditors seem to love to hate.  But what is all this business about anyway?

So.  Reddit.com is a website where registered users (Redditors) upload links to, well, just about anything you can imagine.  I saw everything from wildlife photography to cartoons to edited-for-humor gifs and links to articles of all variety.  Just anything that has the ability to entertain or inform was represented.

In a certain way it was cool.  I mean I always wonder where those people who are CONSTANTLY posting links to things on Facebook (like all day every day) are getting them.  Maybe they just drop by sites like this one for one-stop shopping.

I'm sure there must be all sorts of history to the site and its users that I'm not aware of and don't care enough about to research, because I came across the term "upboat" (a derogatory term to describe people who give lots of credit to redditors who post stuff that gets ranked highly (don't know the ranking system and don't care)).  And apparently Redditors claimed at least partial credit for launching Stephen Colbert's "Restoring Truthiness" campaign, though the claims to credit weren't exactly echoed by him.

Anyway it was an interesting place to visit, but like most everything on the internet that has fervent followers, it did not captivate me such that I'll be joining the ranks.  As it is I am beginning to feel overwhelmed by all the EVERYthing in my life that I need to do and want to do.  I don't think adding another website to tool around and waste time on would be the best move right now.


The GGA Project -- Day #292 "Musical Exploration"

For a while I've been wanting to introduce Monkey to a piano.  Well, he's actually met one before--at my girlfriend Kelsi's house--but I wasn't sure he'd even remember it.

Last night I was playing music from Pandora on my phone while he took a bath when "Great Balls of Fire" came on.  He went CRAZY.  He was laughing and imitating me pretending to play piano on the edge of the tub.  So I figured today would be a good day.

I remembered there was a piano store across the street from Santana Row in San Jose, and since we were headed down to hang out with Nicole and girls anyway, well...

Today's New Activity: Tickling Ivories with the Boy

So of course he didn't really PLAY the piano.  But he didn't bang on the keys either.  He would press the keys individually and listen to the sound.  That is, until he found the keyboards.  There were just way too many buttons to behold and explore, so he got a little wild during that part.

The employee there--a professional pianist himself--was very helpful and friendly, giving advice about when to start kids on lessons and related stuff.  I told him I recently heard a radio story in which adults were talking about how much they loved music until their parents forced them to learn an instrument.  I mentioned that I'd like to find that balance between encouraging his interest in music and pushing him away from it.

The man made a good point.  He said you have to find some other means, some other way too keep it interesting for them, some way to ignite their passion (according to him, this is the primary job of a good music instructor, which I believe).  "For example," he said, "if your child comes home from school and says "I don't like school.  I want to quit," you'd never just let them stop.  You would find a way to encourage them because you know it's good for him."  I like that analogy.  While I don't think every child needs to learn an instrument, I absolutely believe that most children who grow up playing hate and resent the practice part of it to some extent.  And yet if no parents out there made their kids keep on keepin' on with the lessons, there wouldn't be very many musicians out there.  Don't the majority of the great musicians start pretty young?

So yeah, he had a great time, but it'll be a few more years before I begin contemplating lessons.  I am, however, considering taking back the present I got him for his upcoming 2nd birthday and buying a keyboard instead.  Shhhhh....


The GGA Project -- Day #291 "Huge, Happy Sigh"

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.  What a beautiful lesson learned today.

It's a private thing that I can't go into, but I can not overstate the significance of

Today's New Activity: Outlook 2.0

Meaning MY outlook.  I've found that if I think through something I initially react to emotionally for long enough, I can generally get to a good, rational place and feel better about it.  Sometimes the better feeling is temporary, but sometimes a revelation hits me smack in the face, and it's one I can remember for many years afterward...a little friend in my back pocket I can pull out when I find myself faced with similar circumstances again.

Such was the conclusion I arrived at today: it made me feel better about what happened today, and will help me in many days to come.

Just yay.


The GGA Project -- Day #290 "Wouldn't Have Been *My* First Choice, But..."

As Mamas, especially of children as young and my son, I think we pretty much always think we know what's best for our kids...at least we think we know better than they do, right?  I mean we should.  That's why we're the moms and they're the kids--so that they have somebody around to show them the way, right?

Monkey is just shy of his 2nd birthday.  Up until now he's expressed very little in the way of opinion about pretty much anything.

Lately a line has crept into his repertoire and quickly become his favorite.  "I no like it!" he declares.  He'll say it about anything from a song that's just come on the radio to a food he loved just yesterday to a one of the apps within the kids' phone app I installed for him on my phone.  Half the time I really can't tell if he's sincerely disliking something or if he just likes gauging my reactions to his saying it.

So.  Today my Ma and I took the boy shoe shopping.  I was looking to find him some shoes for cooler weather that weren't as complicate to tie as the two pair of high-top Chuck Taylors he's got.  We really struck out with that, but while we were in the aisle I was trying other shoes on him just for fun: a pair of firefighter galoshes, some fake Crocs with a camouflage print.  He liked those okay but he didn't love them.  And he didn't need them either, so that was fine.

But suddenly he looked across the aisle and caught sight of a pair he just HAD TO HAVE.

Today's New Activity: Shoe Shopping, Monkey in Charge

"Monkey new shoes!" he said and he implored me to help him get them on.  "Monkey!  New Shoes!"  He was so excited I just couldn't pass them up.  It helped that they were on sale for $5.  But even more than that, I was just thrilled to see him have an opinion about what he was wearing.  And they were a little dorky but a decent enough choice.  They'll go with enough of his clothes, and if he LOVES them, I mean really....isn't it just the best thing in the world to see your child so happy about anything at all?

So we bought them.  And I was *that* Mom in the store who asks if she can borrow scissors to cut off tags so her child can just leave on the thing they are so excited to be wearing (the shoe store equivalent of letting the kid bust into the cookies before you've paid for them at the grocery store.  Yep.  Guilty of that one, too.  I never ever thought I'd be that Mom).  But you should have seen the look of pride on his face strutting out of the store.  It was the story of the day.  Everywhere we went he made mention of his new shoes.  And he was a super sweetheart all day, too.  So I was happy to have indulged him in a decent fashion choice.


The GGA Project -- Day #289 "Local Touristing (Again)"

This is another one of those things that I just can't believe I've lived here all this time and never done!

Today I was up in the city and decided, finally, to go check out what "that big dome thing is."

Today's New Activity: Meandering Around the Palace of Fine Arts

I was uncharacteristically without a camera or even my phone for this outing, so I had to yank this stock photo from the almighty Interweb:

What a beautiful place!  It was no surprise to me that we saw two wedding parties having photographs taken.  The fall light was gorgeous and everything about it ideal for making memories.  A family asked me to take their picture with the dome in the background, and after two photos I had to resist the urge to start posing them and making a whole session of it.  I was laughing and thinking about how funny it would be to spend a whole day there that way, volunteering to photograph various groups and families: "Okay now I'd like to have Mom lean her head on sister and Dad stand behind everyone..."  I'd LOVE to send tourists home with super awesome memory shots, just for fun :)

I didn't even really check out what all happens at this place, though I did wander into the Exploratorium, which is also right there, and grab a pamphlet so I can know what's up when I take Monkey there one day.  Everyone I know who grew up around here has great memories of going there for field trips when they were in school, so I'm sure it's super cool.

I thought it was supposed to rain today, so it was a very pleasant surprise that the sun came out and the afternoon was perfect for a day outdoors.  Very nice day all the way around.


The GGA Project -- Day #288 "Rice Rocket"

If you know me in person, you likely know that I've had my motorcycle license for a good decade now, and that I haven't ridden a motorcycle in a good, oh, decade or so.  In fact I never owned one and had only rented bikes on a couple of occasions, for a day at at time.

Six months ago I was considering getting a bike but decided against it on account of the danger factor.  What may have been acceptable risk-taking in my early 20's just seems irresponsible, now that I have a dependent.  Still, my friend Kenneth has been offering to take me for a ride and I was finally in the mood today (it also helped that I had worn jeans and boots to work so I was already outfitted for it the moment the mood struck).  He had an extra leather jacket, helmet and gloves, so we were all set.

Only thing is, though I'd spent all of my time as a motorcycle passenger on the back of a bike that was certainly moving fast, it wasn't designed specifically to do so.  It was a Harley.  Kenneth has a Ninja, which is definitely made for speed.  Eeeeeeeeee....

Today's New Activity:  Slowest Speed Ride Ever

So even though the bike is meant to go fast, I told Kenneth I was not in the market for that sort of thing.  In fact we only went out for about 10 minutes, maximum, and probably never got over 45 MPH.  And still I was practically terrified.  It's crazy to me to feel this change.  Just as I was pretty terrified for the first half of the river rafting trip, I spent most of that 10-minute bike ride thinking about how little it would take for me to end up as road kill.  I felt so vulnerable and exposed, and I couldn't believe I ever went all the way over the Rocky Mountains and to Denver on the back of a bike.  Ridiculous.

But again, I feel like that's what my 20's were for...doing stuff that scares the hell out of me now because I've been touched by death more, have a child who depends on me, and realize how very much I want to do whatever I can to stay alive :)

I relaxed a wee bit toward the end of our ride and could see myself enjoying riding again at some point, though I'd probably still prefer the option to sit up straight on a cruiser.  For now, I'll just say thanks for the safe little outing, KK.


The GGA Project -- Day #287 "On Home"

The other day I was talking to one of the only two friends I've made up here in the East Bay when it occurred to me that it's criminal I haven't made more friends in this place where I've now lived for a year and a half.  I put all my energy and put much of my time into maintaining relationships with all the people I know in the South Bay, and the overall effect that has is to keep me thinking that my living here in Hayward is somehow temporary.

When I think about it rationally, however, I can't see any likely change in circumstances so dramatic as to allow me to move any time soon.  To move out of my parents' home would mean taking a very well-paying full-time job only so that I could either pay thousands of dollars a month in child care or still live close enough to my parents that I could drive my son to their house every day before I go to work. What would be the point of that?!

While I've known all this in the back of my mind somewhere, I think I've been living in denial about it.  And it's not like my life is bad or even uncomfortable here.  On the contrary, living with the folks has been surprisingly manageable and easy when considering the fact that I'd been officially out of their house for 15 years at the time I moved in.  They are wonderful with my son, amazingly supportive of me and (for the most part :P) have refrained from straying into my personal life.  My situation here is blessed.  It is good.  And I consider Monkey LUCKY to have the chance to live with three of the people who love him most in the world all under one roof.

Wherein lies the issue, then?  That's a very good question.

I think I've felt that if I invested much of myself into this new place, it meant the reality of my change in life circumstances and direction would be finalized.  I can't believe it's taken me this long to realize this.  When my ex and I first moved in with the folks it was supposed to be for a 6-month period in advance of buying a home.  The stay was always supposed to be temporary.  So it is I continued to think of it as such.

Only everything is different now.  Everything is changed.

That finally hit me yesterday.  And so I started searching my company's job listings to see if there was a chance I could transfer to a branch closer to where I live.  Closer to what I've finally come to see is more than "where I live."  It is my Home.

Today's New Activity: Finally, Finally, Finding My Way Home

Today I talked to the manager of a branch in the East Bay, 15 minutes from my house (as opposed to the 45 min - 1 hour I spend commuting southward these days).  It seems there's a good chance I could make that transition.  And I surprised myself by feeling immediately open to the idea.  I realized that if I worked opening hours at this branch I could stop at the gym on the way home and make home in time for Monkey to wake up from his nap, and I'd still have hours to spend with him before bed.  I could take a road to work (a ROAD, no freeway necessary at all!) and be home before dark even in the dead of winter.  My Mom could bring my son by the branch during my lunch.

This also would mean giving up the convenience of an easy after-work commute down to San Jose on the days Monkey's not with me.  It would mean making fewer plans with my friends down that way and beginning to put down some roots up here.  It would mean calling Hayward home.

It would mean acceptance.

I see now that this is at the heart of everything.  As much as I thought I had, I really hadn't yet fully accept my life in its changed state.  Funny, given that I used to be so good with change.  Maybe I just hadn't ever been faced with change quite so profound until now.

It is a good thing, this acceptance.  I think my son will be better off--he'll be more relaxed and comfortable in his life without his Mama always having her heart and her thoughts and her friendships in a somewhere else where he wouldn't likely be living any time soon.  We are here and we shall be fully here.  And in that, we will know that our life is rich and beautiful and exactly as it should be in this moment.  As cliche as it is, this moment is really all we know we have.  I am finally ready to embrace that and open my eyes to all that is right here in front of me.

Now for that pesky transfer paperwork...

The GGA Project -- Day #286 "Food Science"

I don't know how they do it.  Really, I don't know what's going on in food laboratories these days, and I suspect it is pretty creepy.  Much of the time I try to avoid eating foods that come in boxes or seem heavily preserved, but in the interest of trying to save money on lunches I've ventured lately into areas heretofore unknown.  And yes, that means this is a dullsville post again.

Today's New Activity: Sampling Simply [Creepily] Asia

That is the name of the boxed, off-the-shelf heat-n-eat meal I had for lunch today.

I really have to stop with this food-as-new-thing business.  I admit that, while I've gleaned a lot from all my new experiences, and while my project has indeed instilled in me an instinctive desire to avoid always reaching for the familiar, my attentions have strayed of late.  I have three more months left of new things, and I think that when day 365 arrives in December I will be more-than-ready to focus on all the other stuff that has come up since.  Still, continuing with it has and remains a test of my commitment, and lately I gravitate toward such things.  So a humdrum month of new food sampling?  I'll take it if it means I will finish this year having accomplished a goal.  :)

Back to food science:

The box showed a picture of a pretty decent looking Kung Pao noodle dish, which it promised would be ready in just a couple of minutes.  When you open the outside box, there is a plastic bowl inside with a vacuum-sealed package of noodles, and two metallic envelopes, one containing peanuts and the other freeze-dried diced peppers and something else that was rendered unrecognizable.  Underneath all that was a miniature fork that I suppose you were meant to mix it all with.  After combining all the elements you are supposed to add two tablespoons of water, heat for 2 minutes, and voila!  Honestly, I find it a little weird: how can you just have soft noodles out of a box off the shelf.  What the hell have they done to this "food" to preserve it in this way.

Even so, it tasted pretty good, so I'm not going to stay up here on this high horse pretending I only eat things that are good for me.  I'm just honestly appalled sometimes at my own ability to ignore all the shoulds and shouldn'ts and be happy with the creepy, engineered convenient.


The GGA Project -- Day #285 "On Connectedness"

Today I woke up hungover from an emotional night.  There was nothing in particular that sparked it...just the feeling of having been distracted so well of late that I'd neglected to feel all the emotions that were all there just below the surface.  I had the day off work, which was good, because as it turned out I spent much of the day either teary or on the verge of tears.  I'm not sure why I'm emotionally vulnerable (I don't believe it was just PMS at work), but I try not to fight those feelings when I have them; I see them as necessary to understanding why feeling good feels so, well, good.

Midday I left my house to run some errands, and took the back way down from where we live toward Dublin, where Target awaited me.  On the way there I noticed a substantial memorial on the side of the frontage road that I'd never noticed before, and I made a mental note of that for the trip back.

The first thing I saw when I walked into Target was a little boy in tears, talking to his dad.  The dad was being nice and listening to the boy, but I'm telling you it took every ounce of restraint in me to keep from kneeling down and scooping that boy into my arms for a big Mama hug.  Never mind that I'm not his Mama.  I was still feeling pretty raw myself, and I'm not sure if the instinct came from a desire to comfort the boy, or the simple thought: this little dude feels me.  We could have a nice cry together :)

I restrained myself.

I don't believe I've ever wandered and browsed as professionally as I did today.  I didn't have anywhere to be, and I was in just the mood to look at all the lookable things and take my time picking up what I needed, namely food and a few incidentals for Monkey.  It was relaxing and probably just what my heart was seeking in that moment: solitude and peace--even the fluorescent-lit variety.

On the way home I found a place to pull off the road so I could pay my respects where I'd seen the memorial.  This is not something I've ever done, though it wasn't the first time curiosity and sadness-for-the-unknown-loss have instructed the inclination, which I've heretofore ignored.

Today's New Activity: Pausing to Remember

What caught my eye about this memorial was the large photo collage.  When I drove by I thought, 'this person was loved.'  Of course any roadside memorial, by virtue of its existence, belongs to somebody who is survived by people who loved him or her.  But this was a lot of love.

I was especially surprised to see that the teenager in the photos actually died three years ago.  The cards, flowers, and photos seem to have been left recently, on the 3rd anniversary of her death.  That made me simultaneously happy and sad for this girl--happy she was so loved that even teenagers (with their short attention spans) would put the effort forth to remember her after all that time, sad that she was plucked from their lives so soon, just shortly after her 17th birthday.

Some research revealed that the young woman, Sarah, died in a car being driven by a young man named Clark, her friend and co-worker.  Witnesses said the car was seen racing another car shortly before the crash.  Ugh.  The driver had lost control and the car flipped onto its roof.  Both teens were pronounced dead at the scene.

I found this story heartbreaking.  Clark had just graduated from high school two months prior, and Sarah was about to start her senior year.  It sickens me to think how tragic the seemingly mundane poor choices young people make can turn out to be.  And when I think about these kids' parents....I can't even think about that for very long.  As a mom, my biggest fear will likely always be to lose my child.  I really don't know how people ever recover from that experience.

I guess what I really came away with today was the feeling that my own struggles, while significant to me, can sometimes pale in comparison to the pain others have suffered.  At the same time, I also feel that my pain is connected to the pain of everyone else in this world, whether or not our lives meet.  That's a lot of pain to bear for everyone involved, but it's also the promise that we are never alone, any of us.  

And so, somehow, I found today uniquely beautiful.


The GGA Project -- Day #284 "______________"

I told myself I would allow one day for this...

Today's New Activity: NO NEW ACTIVITY

When I think about it, it really is a change for me, given that doing something new has been on my mind every day for the past 283 days.  It's become the norm.  So I told myself that on the day I made this change, it would be with intention, not out of oversite.

I wish I could say I enjoyed it more--the mental freedom from thinking about it.  But I was at work and then came home to a house empty of my son's vibrant energy and went to bed feeling sadder than I've felt in a very long time.  It was a lot of everything having caught up with me.  And it involved tears, yes.  But that is necessary sometimes.  It is the acknowledgment that all is not perfect in my life, the reminder that I am still very much alive and sentient, and--on the horizon--the promise of rebirth and renewal.

It was the perfect day to focus on the whole of all that.


The GGA Project -- Day #283 "Desperation Dinner"

Having found a good table at a crowded Starbucks and already having undone everything I'd brought along, I was loathe to pick up and leave when I decided I should have some dinner. 

I'd long eyed the sandwiches and bistro boxes sold there but had never been in quite the state of unavailable alternates it would seem making that choice would require.  Until tonight that is.

Today's New Activity: Dinner at Starbucks

Super dull, I know.

I chose this one just because it was the only vegetarian option

It was okay.  I never like lettuce that's been separated from its head for a while already and packed up into a sandwich.  The texture is always a little too floppy for me.  Eww, it grosses me out just thinking about it.  But it did just fine for a quickie dinner.

The real takeaway from the night came when I looked up from my computer and realized the reason for the unnatural quiet in such a large coffee shop.  Each table was populated by a single person on his or her own laptop.  At the only table where two people were seated, one was playing with her phone and one was studying.  I got kind of sad, thinking that other cultures would look at this and think we were an incredibly lonely and isolated people.

I do not subscribe, necessarily, to the fear that social networking and cell phones and all that have rendered us less social human beings and further disconnected, but I do think it's the case sometimes.  I used to meet friends at coffee shops.  Now I chat with friends online from coffee shops.  Part of this has to do with my relative distance from my friends since moving to the East Bay, but in the old days I would have made new friends in my own area and spent time with them.

Therein lies a resolution within my new-thing-a-day resolution: for every time I visit a coffee shop alone (and actually hang out there), I will match it by meeting a friend for coffee.  I miss in person coffee visits!  Nicole and I already have a date set for later this week :)


The GGA Project -- Day #282 "Not Lost...On an Adventure"

My parents' friend Stacy is visiting from Colorado, so we headed up to San Francisco for a day of touristy stuff.  And while we were at Fisherman's Wharf, caught sight of something perfect for

Today's New Activity: Getting Lost in the Infinite Mirror Maze

When you walk into the Infinite Mirror Maze and pay five dollars (free for kids), you are handed a pair of gloves and sent on your way.  The gloves are so you won't smear whatever's on your hands all over the mirrors, thereby ruining the optical illusion for everyone else.  And you would if they didn't issue those gloves, because the maze is impossible, and you are touching those mirrors constantly.  The only clue you can possibly go on to even get you moving anywhere but right into a mirror is in checking out the carpet.  You can just barely tell if the seem at the edge of every triangle of carpet meets a mirror or another triangle of carpet.  You can't tell beyond the very next triangle, so it's still incredibly slow going.

When we first set out (Monkey and me), there were a few other sets of Mamas with their kids, but after about 5 minutes in the maze, everyone else disappeared and at every turn all I saw were dozens of Monkeys and mes in the mirrors.  I have to admit I was a little claustrophobic at that point, wondering how long we'd be in there.  The man who admitted us had wisely advised me to hold Monkey's hand.  He said the little ones tend to run off and get lost.  I'm pretty sure that's my new worst nightmare, so I held on tight.

And I realized in that moment of semi-panic on my part that I had no room to waiver or freak out.  In Monkey's eyes I knew exactly what we were doing (isn't that a Mama's job?).  And I had no idea.  So this was definitely a case of "fake it til you make it."  And after a little while, we found the way out.  And my son emerged into the light as though we wander through impossible mazes all the time, like this was just an every day part of our lives.

When we caught up with everyone, we visited Zoltar, who informed us that Monkey had a lot of relaxation in his near future (read: naptime!).  Monkey loved him.

Just as he loved the huge fishies in the tank at Rainforest Cafe.  The animatronic gorilla and elephants?  Not so much.

That's pretty much it.  Just a fun day out with the folks and Stacy.  Yay!!


The GGA Project -- Day #281 "Just So You Know..."

Tonight my family and I were flipping through the channels and we happened to come across the end of a pretty cheesy movie called Enough, starring Jennifer Lopez.  The story is that she's escaped from her physically abusive husband and returns to get revenge.  The plot was outrageously far-fetched, but there was one scene that gave me pause.  While JLo is training for the ass kicking at the movie's end, her trainer shows her how to escape from a strangle hold.  I had to give it a try.

Today's New Activity: Useful Self Defense Practice

I think most women are terrified at the thought of being strangled.  Most people.  But apparently there is hope out there.  Just check this out (the escape move comes about 1:02):

Now again, this is a super cheesy montage.  And you can't really see how the move is used until later in the movie.  The part you're missing is that after she grabs the hands of her attacker, she uses her elbow to smack him in the face and get him away.

My Mom and I both asked my Dad to fake strangle us so we could practice.  Watching my Mom and Dad do this made me laugh so hard I almost peed.  Of course he refused to actually close his hands around our necks, so I asked him to just make fists on the sides.  And of course I couldn't actually try the defense since the goal would be to hurt the attacker.  Still, it seemed like it would be effective when we were going through the motions.  It's bound to be better than just standing there getting strangled, right?



The GGA Project -- Day #280 "C'mon Mama!"

Monkey loves to dance.  He is a true music lover, and it thrills me to watch him as he truly listens to different kinds of music and--in his own Monkey way--dances in a way that's fitting to the rhythm and type of song.

Some time ago I took Monkey to a couple of library story times.  He was a little too young at that point to listen or pay attention, and shortly after that I started working full time and never thought to take him back.  So when we woke up this morning I decided to see if there was a story time today.  There wasn't, but there was something that sounded even better: Music and Movement group.  The description said there would be dancing and singing and all manner of thing that's right up his alley.

So then.

Today's New Activity: Music & Movement at the Library

Here's the thing though.  The group was short on movement and long on dorky.  Dorky evil.  Not dorky endearing.  The lazy leader just plopped into her chair and reached over to start a CD playing "If you're happy and you know it..."  Then she led us through 4 different rhymes in which the end result is the Mama tickling the child.  Though the small group of kids seemed to be 2-3 years old (pretty freaking young), the little bit of music there was still seemed somehow immature for them.  Nobody was all that into it, and Monkey definitely was not digging the dork fest.  Not one bit.

After less than 10 minutes, he grabbed my hand and very vehemently led me to the door with these two words: "C'mon Mama."

It wasn't stated with a question mark at the end like it typically is when he implores me to go somewhere.  It was a directive, and in there was definitely the unspoken sentiment: let's get real Mama.  Give us both a break.

And you know what?  He was right.  I'd tried in vain to get myself into the group, but it was just too much.  Or too little.

I propose a music group in which the kids just listen to real music.  I mean grown up music.  Just general music that adults and kids can both enjoy moving to.  The songs Monkey likes best on the Pandora toddler channel aren't kids songs at all.  They are just enjoyable songs with good beats.  Forget the library music group.  We'll just dance in the living room for now.  I was actually relieved he was the one to bolt and I could just follow him under the auspices of keeping track of my son :)

Instead, we went to the nearby park and had a great time.  Monkey was in great, adventurous spirits, once we escaped from the library.  And don't get me wrong.  I love the library.  But they should probably stick to books :)


The GGA Project -- Day #279 "Laughs on Demand"

Ugh.  Traffic coming home lately has been atrocious.  It has to do with the ongoing construction at the offramp to my house, which tends to create a terrible bottleneck that can sometimes extend 10 miles back.  Ten miles isn't far, ut it can take me up to an hour sometimes to get home through all that madness, a trip that takes 20-25 minutes otherwise.

Today I couldn't stand the thought of sitting in it.  So although it probably took me just as long, I decided to take the surface streets once I'd traveled half the distance I needed to go by freeway.  And there was absolutely nothing on the radio to offer me reprieve.  To Pandora, at once!

What a perfect opportunity to embark on

Today's New Activity: 2000s Comedy Station

Who knew Pandora had a variety of comedy stations?  I freakin' LOVE Pandora....all that variety and all for free.  The other day I discovered a toddler music that Monkey went crazy for!  So to help ease the torture of all that traffic, I listened to snippets lasting from 1-10 minutes each.  I heard a bunch of comedians I'd never heard before (I'm not all that familiar with comedians, obviously), and I didn't end up minding the dozens of stoplights all that much.

It's an awesome new trick to have up my sleeve :)


The GGA Project -- Day #278 "Plane Monsters"

For years now I've wondered where I could park to get the best view of the planes coming into land at Mineta International Airport in San Jose.  I even asked if anybody knew of a place in an online forum once.  One thing I never thought about is the fact that the Target down the street from there is just about as close as you can get without being on the grounds of the airport itself.  Well, not exactly true.  There is a park across the street from the Target parking lot that is juuuuuust a wee bit closer.  Nicole suggested we go there after picking up Maya from a class at that park.  That's just what we did for 

Today's New Activity: Plane Belly Watching at Guadalupe River Park

Monkey loves airplanes, so I thought he'd be ALL OVER lying in the grass to watch the planes fly overhead.  The commercial ones look huge from that close (pictures can't accurately show how close they seem).

Here's a little one.  I just like the way it looks like Nicole thought it up. 

Turns out Monkey was content to jut follow his little girlfriends around, and indulge Maya in her game of "house only without a Mommy or Daddy."  She also had them referring to the planes as "monsters," though I'm not sure what all there was to that part of the game.

Nicole was nice enough to let Monkey help her with her journaling pages.   He had so much fun choosing where to put down the cute little colored tapes.

Even though there are no toys, sand, or water fixtures in this park, I thought it was one of the best park experiences we've had.  There was sooooo much space for the kids to run, and we weren't close to any roads or anything at all that we had to worry about their getting into.  I'd say it was the first time I've ever truly relaxed while out in public with my son when he wasn't safely strapped into his stroller :)

One other thing: what a treat to let the kids run free in this lush and bee-free grass!

I can't wait to go back.


The GGA Project -- Day #277 " "Chicken" "

Damnit!  I had this whole post typed out and then Chrome crashed (without a draft having saved...highly un-Google-like!) :(

So I'll just do real quick here:

Today's New Activity: Eating the Following:

against my normal instincts against both frozen meals and fake meat.

It wasn't a horrible idea, but it wasn't an amazing one either.  I won't do it again.

The end.


The GGA Project -- Day #276 "The Terrific (Pre-) Twos"

Omg, parenthood.


I'd been warned these days were on the horizon, the ones most people refer to as the "terrible twos."  My Mom has chosen to call them the "terrific twos" instead, in an effort to bring about the best possible outcome through a positive outlook (spin) on things.  So far, disciplining the Monkey has been only very marginally challenging.  When I see some of the behavioral issues other parents are faced with, I've thanked my lucky stars for my son's good nature and mellow temperament.  But I was also acutely aware that the fabled worst toddler years still lie ahead.  And while I did expect to see some change in my son (testing boundaries, exercising his will to say "no"), I wasn't prepared for

Today's New Activity: Mama Hand Forced

I'm a big fan of the Super Nanny.  I like her methods of discipline because they are firm and yet completely non-violent.  As much as I applaud their effectiveness, I consider spanking and even the smacking of hands to be violent acts, neither of which I can imagine inflicting on my son.  I have never had the desire to strike a child, and I fail to see how it can be seen as a loving act.  It seems to me unpleasant for everybody involved.  The Super Nanny demonstrates effective methods of discipline using a combination of time out punishment and congratulatory reward.  While I fully planned to employ both, only the latter has been necessary so far.  In all his life, Monkey has experienced something in the neighborhood of 3 time outs.

That was, of course, until today.

Today he was on quite the tear, blatantly ignoring requests, then directives, then forbiddings-not-to.  By early afternoon he'd had 3 timeouts (which, I have to say, I was happy about in one regard: after the first time he got up and tried to escape his tiny time out chair and I sat him back down, he didn't keep getting up.  He would sit there and do this super fake cry and, after 10 seconds or so of that, turn around to look at me with the hugest, cutest smile on his face and sing out, "hiiiiiii."  It took a lot for me not to laugh out loud and rescue him from even that one minute of time out and snuggle him in my arms.  For the most part, I was able to resist his formidable charms until the minute was up and we'd review the rule broken, apologize, exchanged "I love yous" and hugged).

In the afternoon I'd been telling him we were going to the library and then to the park.  He started disobeying again just before we left, and I told him that if he did what he was doing one more time, I wasn't going to take him to the park.  And you know what?  He did it ANYway!  I wasn't all that shocked, since kids do this sort of dare-your-to-keep-your-word-on-that testing of boundaries all the time.  But this was the first time he's ever called my bluff on something like that.  Good thing I wasn't bluffing.  After the library we headed straight to the grocery store and then home.

There were two factors that I know made today more challenging on its own.  First was that he didn't fall asleep during his nap time, as he usually does for 1-3 hours.  Second, he'd just returned from his first ever two-consecutive-night stay at his Dad's house.  I know that such a change in routine has the possibility of being challenging for even the most mild-mannered and easy-to-transition children.  Hopefully he will become accustomed to the new change in schedule in a few weeks' time, and I'll see the return of my Monkey-go-lucky bundle of joy.

Something tells me, however, that the coming year is bound to see more of his tests of my will.  And though it's tiring as hell, I'm ready to face it.  As much as I hate to see him upset, and as doubly hard as it is to discipline him when he's being suuuuuuuper cute, as he typically is, the thought of raising a bratty child overrides all other challenges.  As difficult as today was, it worked to make me that much more committed to the idea of holding strong and raising a child who knows the limits and respects them.  I think it will make him a more pleasant adolescent, teenager, and adult to be around.

Deep breaths, deep breaths.



The GGA Project -- Day #275 "Seaside Village"

My best gal Nicole is looking to move soon.  For some reason, though if I remember right she'd never been there, she's considering a move a town just south of San Francisco.  It's on the beach, it's small and cute, and it's much much closer to the city, where her man Raul works.  We decided to do some inspecting.

Today's New Activity: Visiting Pacifica

Sometimes it floors and shames me to think of all the cool spots within and hour's drive that I'd never visited until I started this project.  Pacifica is just 12 miles north of Half Moon Bay and just a wee bit off the 101, yet I'd never even considered giving it a looksie.  Look what we found:

A beautiful and uncrowded beach, despite the fact that the weather was perfect,

Super cool looking, windblown trees,

Tucked away homes climbing all the way up this cliff overlooking the sea,

one of which featured the cutest treehouse ever, a mini-version of the main house on the property, complete with a window, painted trim, and a knocker on the door.  I was beyond belief charmed by that.

We drove up and down the hills and all through the neighborhoods, trying to picture Nicole and family in the area.  I can definitely see her there, although the next test would be actually making some appointments to see rentals.

We did our goofball gal exploring and then finished up the visit at what is perhaps the only genuinely beautiful Taco Bell in existence.  It sits quite literally on the beach and features a walk-up window where the surfers can order without even having to peel themselves out of their wetsuits.  The last picture is the view from our table on the patio.

I liked Pacifica, but I didn't love it.  The housing there wasn't as cute as the little bungalows of Santa Cruz.  I think Nicole was correct in guessing the area was developed primarily in the 70's and 80's, which everyone knows were the worst decades of the century where architecture was concerned.  Still, if they can find a house that suits them, I know Nika and family will LOVE having the beach so nearby.  I can TOTALLY see Sureya growing up as a little surfer chick :)


The GGA Project -- Day #274 "New Twist on Two Old Favorites"

All day long I'd planned to go home immediately after work and just work on a bunch of loose ends I needed to tie up in, oh, just about every area of my life.  But when 4:35 rolled around and I stepped out of the bank, I knew I couldn't spend the evening that way.  I was still feeling the loneliness of the night before (which I know had to do with this being the first weekend my son would be spending two consecutive nights with his dad and away from my home), and I knew that if I went home I would just feel Monkey's absence that much more intensely.  Kenneth and Dave had invited friends over and even promised vegetarian chili.  That sounded like a much better idea.

It was a small gathering tonight, which was kind of a nice change of pace.  I got to see my gal Nessa, which was nice because some recent events in her life had her heavy in my thoughts of late.  I was happy for the opportunity to give her a great big hug.

In a space between songs on the karaoke machine, our friend Kurt decided to present squares of paper he'd prepared for 

Today's New Activity: Pictionary Telephone

So everyone knows Pictionary.  And surely you'll remember the game Telephone from your childhood (meant to show the evil of rumors, you start by whispering a secret into the ear of a kid on one side of the classroom and, one by one, each kid in turn whispers to the kid next to him or her, until the last kid is asked to say aloud what he heard, which of course is nothing close to the original secret.  It's actual a pretty salient lesson if you ask me).  Well this game combines the two.  Maybe it's a well-known game but I'd never played it before tonight.  For those of you similarly unfamiliar, here's how it works:

So if you have 7 people playing, as we did tonight, you distribute a stack of 7 squares each to them.  Each person is asked to think of a common phrase or movie title or anything that everyone else is likely to know (big fail in that department on a few counts tonight) and to write it on the top paper.

Each person passes the whole stack to the person beside them.

The next person reads that phrase, flips to the next, blank square, and tries to draw a representation of that phrase.

Everyone passes their stacks again, and the next person looks at the drawing, flips to the blank square and writes down the phrase they think the drawing was meant to depict.

Pass stacks and repeat until each person has the phrase they'd come up with in front of him or her.

Then you just take turns showing everyone the (de)evolution of your phrase.

Most were altered beyond recognition tonight, though a few managed to stay relatively close and one I started--"I'm a lover not a fighter"--ended how it started, despite having briefly changed to "Make Love Not War" somewhere in the middle.  I thought that was pretty cool!  It was late by the time we started the game, so we only played two rounds, but this is definitely one I will be revisiting.  I loved that, unlike real Pictionary or Telephone, each person is always participating at every moment.  There's none of that boring time spent sitting around.  And the worse the drawers are, the more entertaining the outcome!  Hip Hip Hooray for choosing fun, innocent games over lonely brooding tonight :)


The GGA Project -- Day #273 "Artsy (not so) Fartsy"

My friend Laura Calling Bennett is a gifted artist.  I've mentioned her here before because it always seems if there's some cool art event I've found myself at, it had something to do with her.  So it was with

Today's New Activity: Exhibit Opening at Firehouse North

The Firehouse North, in Berkeley, is a very small gallery.  That's kind of what I liked about it.  Check out the musicians up top!

I was there because Laura had a few paintings featured in this showing of the Silicon Valley Artists Collaborative, of which she is a member.

I arrived just in time to hear the introduction from Tom Franco, the gallery's director, who looks like he could indeed be related to everyone's favorite modern-day renaissance man, James Franco.  He was friendly and appreciative for the support, and generous in inviting the featured artists who were present to talk a bit about their collaborative and their mission.

I was glad I made it out tonight.  I kind of had to force myself into it since by the time evening rolled around I was tired and starting to feel a little bit lonely.  Going to this opening, at a gallery I'd never been to before and by myself, seemed to only have the chance of highlighting that lonely feeling coming on.  And it did just that.  I was heavy with a kind of sadness I rarely feel, and being out among people in pairs and groups caused me to feel, at times, awkward and self conscious.  But those are feelings I tend to be able to talk myself out of, on good days.  And though I didn't feel comfortable enough sticking around to try and mingle and make conversation, I left the gallery feeling better than I'd felt when I got there.  I considered that a success of sorts.  And I was feeling content enough to spend the next two hours writing at Starbucks before heading home.

One other reason I was grateful for having attended tonight (as I have been grateful for many of these new activities) was that it dispelled a myth for me; this time around it happened to be about artists/gallery openings.  I was honestly a little worried I would be dressed all wrong for the event and surrounded by super cosmopolitan people who knew loads of stuff about art and would make me feel like the newb/n00b (a word that is relatively new to me (thanks for breaking it down, Brian, but that is the perfect, perfect word.  I almost feel like it could be an onomatopoeia, representing the sound of humiliation your brain makes when you realize you are totally unqualified for, just, everything) that I am in that department.  But no such thing happened.  It seems people who attend gallery openings are just people after all.  And they weren't dressed any special way or holding their wine cups (humble plastic ones) in some especially sophisticated way.  I won't have second thoughts about attending another one in the future.  :)


The GGA Project -- Day #272 "Muggles Among Us"

So I normally wouldn't consider watching a movie I've never seen before qualified for this project, but this isn't just any movie; it's more of a movement, or a cultural phenomenon at the very least.

Today's New Activity: Intro to Harry Potter

A few weeks ago my parents decided they wanted to see the Harry Potter series in its entirety.  Originally I didn't want to do so until I'd read the books, but knowing realistically I wouldn't be doing that any time soon, so I decided to join them.  Last week the first one came, and, unfortunately I fell asleep 5 minutes in. It wasn't because the movie wasn't interesting; it's just what happens 75% of the time when I'm lying down to watch a movie.  Thankfully that movie was based on the only book in the series I *did* manage to read. It was years ago, and it certainly doesn't make up for seeing the action on screen, but it's something.

Tonight we watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, second in the series.  Although I found some of the events to be a little awkwardly transitioned and the child acting of the boys to be a wee bit obnoxious, it was still pretty entertaining.  All I kept thinking about was how lucky were the children who grew up (literally grew up with Daniel Radcliffe and the rest of the movie's actors) with this series were.  I'm sure that if I'd been a child when the first book came out I would have been obsessed with the series and hoped against all hope that a real Hogwart's school would be built, and that I could attend.  I can definitely see how the release of the final installment this past summer was heartbreaking for the fans out there.

Monkey watched with us for the first half of the movie.  He was enthralled most of the time and a bit spooked at others.  When the spiders became prominent I decided it was a good time to sing some songs and then put him to sleep in the interest of preventing nightmares.  And a good thing because the scenes that followed saw the spiders growing even larger, more plentiful, and super duper creepy.  He was sawing logs by then, so all worked out.

I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the films, but I'm even more excited to introduce the books to my son once he starts reading and is old enough for the subject matter.  If all the tales I'm told are to be believed, he'll be flying through them and begging for more.  Parent's dream come true, where books are concerned :)


The GGA Project -- Day #271 "Toes in...Water's Nice so Far"

I wish I could write about this.  Really I do.  And maybe I can...elsewhere, or just...some day.  But for now, just suffice it to say:

Today's New Activity: Shaking the Dust Off

Thank you and good night.


The GGA Project -- Day #270 "Ahhhhhh"

Seeking some refreshment and a little bit of something sweet after lunch, I wandered over to Panera to see what was good to drink.  I'm leery of Quickly ever since rumor around the shopping center had it that a roach was found floating in somebody's pearl tea.  Though reason tell me that even if that's true, the chances of my finding one are very slim, I've still been too grossed out to go back.

Today's New Activity: Iced Green Tea Drinkin'

This was a nice little afternoon treat.  It was sweet without being overly so, and absent all the heaviness of Coke.  This first won't be a last.


The GGA Project -- Day #269 "Gens X and Y: 1, Baby Boomers: 0"

Today we had a late afternoon meal out in the backyard, my parents, the Monkey and me.  It was a beautiful, mild day.  The perfect day to be out doing something amazing, but also the perfect day for doing absolutely nothing.  I did next to that today.  It was a very nice change of pace.

After we'd eaten, there was a whole lot of sunlight left to enjoy.  What else to do but pull out Monkey's favorite thing--the t-ball tee I mentioned in yesterday's post--and play?

My folks had invented a game a week or so ago.  It wasn't really a game so much as a goal.  I got a crack at it today.

Today's New Activity: Backyard Tourney

The goal, seemingly simple enough, was to hit a ball into the nearby birdbath.  It wasn't going so well for anybody, so my Mom decided to up the ante.  "We need to make this interesting," she said (or something to that effect).  We made teams: Monkey and me on one and the folks on the other.  The first person to get the ball into the birdbath would win.  What?  We settled on winning the right to choose an outing for the four of us and exemption from driving to the chosen outing.  Deal.

And I won.  That simple.  Everyone got pretty close during the second round.  But I won :)  Man, it's been a while since I won anything.  And now I've been brainstorming what I'll take us all to do.  So many options.  The chances are good that whatever it turns out to be, you'll be reading about it someday soon.

What a great, lazy way to spend Labor Day :)

The GGA Project -- Day #268 "Take Me Out to the Ballgame..."

For as long as I can remember having memories of anything at all, I remember baseball.  I remember watching my brother play down at the fields next to what would one day be my elementary school.  I remember running to the concession stands for Bottlecaps and red ropes, Otter Pops and nachos.  I remember little league, and I remember the Major Leagues...long weekend summer afternoons spent in the bleachers at the Dodgers games, cracking open peanut shells and waiting for The Wave to come our way.

I've been waiting for today for some time now.  It's not that it couldn't have happened at any time, it's just that I wanted my son to be able to enjoy it at least in some sense.  And since he can now hit a ball off a tee (this isn't something I've been grooming him for, btw.  I'm not one of those crazy parents.  I just saw the little t-ball set at Target and thought he may like it, my Dad showed him how to stand and to swing, and he took it from there.  Whacking those brightly colored whiffle balls is one of his favorite things to do), knows the tune and some of the words to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," and can properly distinguish baseballs from footballs and soccer balls, it was time for

Today's New Activity: Introducing Monkey to Major League Baseball

Although I will forever be a Dodgers fan, I like having a local team to root for, and since supporting the Giants is out of the question, I've adopted the Oakland A's.  It's great because the Coliseum is just 3 BART stops north of where I live, and since the A's are still a blue collar (er, green collar) team with reasonable ticket prices, I can afford to make it to games here and there.  Even better, though, is when free tickets magically appear, as they did for today's game.  My Dad was able to get tickets through a woman who works for the A's and was trying to sell my Dad's company season tickets.  It turns out that when selling season tickets is your goal, you make sure those freebies are good ones:

We were 8 rows behind home plate.  Best seats I've ever had!

This was the scene before the game started:

It was Breast Cancer Awareness day at the game, and they'd invited woman who'd faced and beaten breast cancer to celebrate on the field.  Another survivor sang the Star Spangled Banner, and for the first time ever in my life, hearing that song brought tears to my eyes.  It was the combination of the woman's beautiful voice, the strength and courage of all the women on the field, the idea "survivor," and the fact that I was sharing this beautiful day with my parents and my son.  He was held rapt by the song too, listening intently and watching with curiosity when the song ended and the women released hundreds of balloons into the air (I'm sure he was wondering why on earth, if you had a balloon, you would ever let it go!)

When the Seattle Mariners came up to bat at the top of the first inning, Monkey was seated in his own seat between my Mom and me.  She said, "Monkey look!  Batter up!" (that's a phrase he's learned by now), and with that he saw his very first pitch.  First ever.  I was so happy to be there for it.  I was so happy it was a strike :)  And the whole game was great.  There were lots of strikeouts but also lots of hits.  He saw a homerun, some flubbed catches, wild pitches, tons of foul balls heading our way into the bleachers, and some great fan catches.

He also saw something I've never even seen in all the hundreds of baseball games I've watched: A batter had to end his at-bat prematurely because he was injured, but he hadn't been hit by a pitch.  He'd simply overextended when swinging and missing, and it must have been really bad because he was writhing in pain as if he'd just been beamed in the elbow (another thing Monkey did see with an earlier batter).  The whole stadium sat there wondering what happens in that case.  It didn't seem fair to let a DH in for him, since that would kind of encourage fake injuries for that very purpose toward the end of the game when the starters are getting tired.  But that's exactly what they did.  And then, after the 10 minute delay of game, that guy struck out.  Good thing: he was a Mariner :)

I'd been excited all day for the 7th Inning Stretch and a chance for my son to hear a whole stadium full of people singing the song we learned.  When the moment came, he was like a deer in the headlights.  My Mom joked that it was like he thought we'd talked all these people into singing just for him, and he was so thrilled he didn't know what to do.  Rather than singing along, he just swayed with me with a frozen smile on his face, trying to understand what had happened.

He was, of course, introduced to ball park food in the form of a pretzel, nachos, peanuts, and Minute Maid frozen lemonade.  No complaints in that area.

We got to see a few good rallies.  That's always exciting...the chance to feel the stadium come alive.

Over all it was a wonderful day.  And witnessing a rare A's win was the icing on the cake.  Or was the icing this scarf giveaway in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness?

Maybe there was just a lot of icing to go around.  Next year I'm going to enroll Monkey in the A's Kids Club, which will get him a hat, a bunch of coupons, and the assurance that we'll be spending a lot more time watching baseball and eating...omygosh, that reminds me!  We never got him Crackerjack!  There's always next season...


The GGA Project -- Day #267 "Grody"

Real quick.  Real simple.

I went to Rubio's on my lunch today, and for no good reason whatsoever, decided this would be a good idea:

Today's New Activity: Trying Coke Zero

Disgusting.  I don't know what the difference in makeup is between Diet Coke and Coke Zero, but the taste was the same.  And the taste was terrible.

First and a last.

Thank you and good night.


The GGA Project -- Day #265 "Not Yer Mama's Exercise Regimen"

I've been wanting to dance.  Like really really wanting to dance.  Wanting to lose my mind in dance kind of dance.  Forget about everyone and everything for a spell dance.

It's been a while.

I posted an open question on Facebook looking for recommendations for a club in the south bay; I'd be going with Raul (Nicole's man and my friend of 13 years now), and it wouldn't make sense for us to go up to SF, logistically.  And old coworker from Barnes and Noble suggested a once a month electro-house DJ party hosted by a friend of his to coincide with downtown San Jose's SOFA district 1st Fridays art walk.  It sounded pretty promising.

Raul agreed, as did my friends Kenneth and Dave and new friend Jen.  Kenneth brought John, his longtime friend who is visiting from Fresno, and we made a group of it for

Today's New Activity: The Workout

I'm not sure why this monthly dance party is called The Workout.  I guess the idea is that it does turn out to be quite the cardio routine, if you're doing it right that is.

I was super excited about tonight until I visited the photos on The Workout's Facebook page and noticed that nobody in the crowd looked a day over 23.  I started to get all self-conscious, thinking I'd be too old, be dressed wong, look spastic on the dance floor, etc, etc.  But Raul's and Kenneth's insistence that they didn't care about the demographic gave me the little push I needed, and when we got there I saw that it didn't matter anyway.  Not only were there plenty of, ahem, slightly older folks there, the place was so dark that a lot went undetermined, and there was a wide range of attire.

Anyway, who CARES about all that stuff, right?  We were there to dance, so the details didn't really seem to matter once we got there.

I was a bit shy at first, given that when we got there there was exactly one man--one very high man--dancing all by himself.  Raul was game to be next out there, but I needed just a *bit* more of a crowd to be wooed.  Three people later, I said what the hell, let's go.

And two and a half hours later, sweaty and exhausted, we stepped back in to the cool night air and straight over to La Victoria, the only possible place to go.  What happened in between there was nothing more or less than a lot of moving to music.  Feeling not thinking, moving not thinking, letting go and not thinking, for once.

I highly recommend it.

Raul and I plan to make a habit of getting to this little shindig whenever we can.  Every time I dance like that I'm appalled to think of all the time I've wasted NOT dancing like that.  It is so very good for my soul and state of mind.  A good release and an energizer, all rolled into one.  If only the gym could be this much fun...


The GGA Project -- Day #264 "How to Win Friends and Fatten-Up People"

Today a partner from a local branch treated everyone in our branch to a thank you for some good work we've done recently.  The thank you came in the sweet sweet form of

Today's New Activity: Savoring Cupcakes From Sprinkles

I admit I'm a bit underwhelmed by most of my experience with the recent cupcake craze.  I usually find them overpriced and lacking in wow factor.  But it seems maybe I haven't 1) been to the right places or 2) chosen the right flavors.

Since we were given the option, I went with cinnamon sugar, a departure from my normal red velvet.  And yummmmmmmmyyyyy!

It was super moist and all the way around wonderful.

And what a kind-hearted gesture on the part of the loan officer who thanked us with them.  Now THAT is how to make somebody's day, and how to make them want to do good work for you again.  :)

The GGA Project -- Day #263 "Much Funnier on the Inside"

Before my wee friend Nessa took off for Burning Man, she did the good deed of inviting a bunch of friends to have a smidge bit of fun while she was off having whole gobs of it.  She let us in on an event her boyfriend's friend from high school had put together.  It was

Today's New Activity: Comedy Show at the Grand Dell Saloon

Upon first observation, The Grand Dell Saloon does not exactly look like a place where great times are had.  From the looks of the flesh colored, windowless rectangular exterior at the end of a small, industrial street, it seems more likely a place to get murdered or to smoke crack.  Or both.  And for an idea of how long the joint's been around, just look at what I found in the bathroom:

Who can remember *belted* feminine napkins, first of all, and when was the last time you were able to buy anything of worth or utility for 10 cents?!

Anyway, the place was obviously a dive, and not the kind that hipsters visit to be ironic.  A true, true, kind of sad dive.  3 out of the 5 comedians made jokes about the geriatric demographic (though it was teeming with young folks tonight, solely because of the show).  But anyway, the show itself was hilarious.  I was very surprised.  When I thought about a free (no less!) comedy show featuring all local acts, I thought for sure it'd be a somewhat uncomfortable, laugh to be polite type of thing.

Turns out San Jose is full of funny folks.  Well, to be accurate, ONE of the guys was from San Francisco, and one of the girls was from L.A.  But she was the only one I didn't find so funny :)

The show was well-attended, so they're gonna shoot to do it once every two months or so.  I'm excited about that, too.  I never, ever think to go see live comedy, but it was great.  It's amazing, the random stuff comedians think up to talk about.  Of course all of my favorite material of the night cannot be talked about here, but it wouldn't be funny if I retold it in a blog anyway.  Delivery and timing are, of course, the bulk of what makes the stuff funny in the first place.

The only thing I didn't like about the night was observing how the other comedians there didn't laugh at each others' stuff.  Maybe because they are so funny they just have a higher standard for what makes them laugh, but that doesn't make sense because their own stuff was making them laugh, and in terms of funniness, they were pretty evenly matched.  I felt like it was a jealousy/hater type of thing, which is unfortunate (see quote at the bottom of this page :), but other than that slight downer, which is just a personal thing for me, a good time was had by all.

Don't think I'd ever be back to the venue unless there were another of these shows happening, but for tonight's purposes, it was perfect.