Monday, November 22, 2004


On Friday night I left work and didn’t stop going until Saturday about 10:30pm. I did have a brief lay down between 1am and 5:30am, but I don’t really count that as rest because it was wakeful sleep, as in I could’ve sworn I was awake the whole time.

Friday began with a little extreme wine tasting. This is a super fun event that my friend Liz has at her club The Echo, once a month. The master of ceremonies is an English gentleman named Julian Davies who knows a lot about wine and ties it all up with facts and fictions most amusingly. Friday night’s event was tied into the 77 Songs of John Berryman, but the people around me were talking so loudly I never really got the connection.

We tasted a Viognier (too sweet for me, but nonetheless tasty) and a Roussane (I have no idea if that’s how you spell it, but it could just called the super oaky white that we did not like). Then it was three Zinfandels and a Syrah. There was a secret seventh wine that was also a Zin and damn, it was good, but I can’t say much beyond that. This is extreme wine tasting because it is a bottomless pour, e.g. you can taste, oh, about 3 glasses of each wine if you like. And get extremely drunk. I did that the first time I went and now I know better.

And since I was going to go to Disneyland the next day for Emily’s 9th birthday celebration I figured I should proceed with caution. I ate a full meal before departing and I didn’t actually finish a taste, except for the #4 Zinfandel, I had 3 glasses of that because it was really yummy. Didn’t yet know about the #7, or I would’ve saved some of my alcohol quotient for more of that.

We were supposed to be tasting downstairs in the basement, but at the very last minute the ABC wouldn’t give a permit to serve liquor down there, so we were out on the Aimee Semple MacPherson memorial terrace, so named because the back patio of the Echo sits directly below the glowing blue cross atop the spire of her historic church. The patio is festively bedecked with christmas lights, but my friend April says it reminds her of the yard at a penitentiary. And it kind of does, but that’s why I like it. When the police helicopter with it’s blinding white searchlight began circling overhead it just added to the surreal ambience of the whole wingding.

This ain’t no Weststide wine tasting.

The Echo is mostly a place to go see bands, and a lot of the shows are 18+. Indeed the crowd who came to hear music was definitely in high school or just out. And I think they were all on drugs. I was returning from one trip to the bathroom when a little boy in front of me turned around quickly and almost walked into me. His eyes were wide in his white face which glowed under his Peruvian hat, the kind that are so popular with snowboarders. Alex said she thought he was on drugs. I thought he was scared because he thought I was his mother.

Later on as we were walking through the club to leave, her claim that he was on drugs gained more credence when we walked through the throng amassed around the stage all swaying back and forth to the muted sounds that this guy was pounding out of his synthesizer. It sounded like trance polka music since the only instrument we could identify was a xylophone. I couldn’t help but wonder if there’s some new drug that kids are taking that would make that music sound... like something... or even loud. I don’t know if I’ve just gotten really old, or if it was just really bad and all those kids were extremely high – because I didn’t get it. We walked out of there with a wha....? look on our faces and the bouncer at the door said as we passed, “Thank you! You look exactly like I feel.” So I wasn’t the only one who didn’t get it.

Got to bed about 1am and I don’t know if I was just so excited to get to Disneyland, or scared I wouldn’t wake up in time, but I don’t think I ever achieved REM sleep. Consequently I woke up in the morning and had, what I thought was a tiny little hangover. Just a slight dull throbbing in my left temple. I got out the door about 8am and arrived at Disneyland by 9 – just in time to head out for our character breakfast and the Paradise Pier. Emily and Madeline had autograph books and special pens, that no doubt cost $15 each, so that they could collect Lilo, Sitch, Minnie and Pluto’s autographs.

The girls were so excited to hug the characters and get their pictures taken with them. The night before Madeline had said, “only babies do that,” as they were on their way to dinner at Goofy’s kitchen. Ten minutes later she was up on stage doing the Macarena with Mickey Mouse. There were three grown women at a table near ours and they were getting even more excited than the kids were. I was fearing for the life of the guy in the Sitch outfit – they were all over him. At first I thought perhaps they were “special” but when I put on my glasses I realized that they were Japanese tourists.

Peg and I both grew up in SoCal and had both been to Disneyland numerous times when we were Emily’s age, or even younger. Things were always expensive but now they’ve found even more ways to get money out of moms and dads. And there were lots of them there on Saturday! The park is celebrating Christmas already so people were out in force, thousands and thousands of them. And they all had kids and strollers. They have that new “Fast Pass” deal so you don’t have to stand in line, but if you put your ticket in for fast pass at say noon, you can’t come back until between 2:30 and 3:30, and you can’t go get a fast pass for anything else. So what do you do? You spend A LOT more time in the retail shops spending money on crap. As the day progressed the little throb over my left eye started to get worse. Thinking I was possibly having a sinus headache I took some Tylenol Sinus.

We climbed up into Tarzan’s Treehouse (used to be Swiss Family Robinson treehouse back in the day) and I decided to use the numerous flight of stairs as an opportunity to work out so I took them two at a time. I wasn’t really thinking about the fact that I had done a fairly heavy workout on my legs the day before. I also hadn’t really had any water to drink and it was now after noon. Consequently by the time I was climbing down the stairs on the other side I was having severe leg cramps.

The rest of the day was an increasing chorus of pain. We went to a place called Build-A-Bear on the Disney City Walk. Here one takes an empty stuffed animal, which is filled for you at a machine full of stuffing, and then you pick out clothes and go to a computer and name it and register that name. Next up is the cash register where you fork over about $40 for your stuffed animal. Apparently kids love this. And so do Japanese tourists.

I got to see the Grand California Hotel which is pretty damn grand. It’s the hotel that they built around California land, or whatever theme park #2 is called. The whole thing is done Mission style a la Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s reminiscent of the Biltmore in Phoenix, which is absolutely beautiful. It’s as expensive as the Biltmore too. After cruising around Disney city walk and California land et al., we went to dinner.

I thought food would make me feel better, but it didn’t. Still I persevered and headed to the rocket ships with Emily, Madeline and Peggy. The little girls wanted to go together so Peg and I decided to share a rocket. And maybe 10 years ago that might’ve worked but our butts are bigger now. As we struggled to wedge ourselves in, the 17 year old cast member who was running the ride came over to tell us that he had an empty rocket right behind and maybe we’d like our own rockets. At this point we were howling with laughter and he had to help us get unwedged.

I turned to watch Peg get into her rocket and noticed that right behind her our intrepid ride operator was now helping an old Indonesion woman, who looked to be about 95, her face was completely impassive her mouth turned down so that it looked like an ancient mask. She was wearing a light blue scarf that was tied under her chin and her passenger was most likely her daughter who was 75 if she was a day. The kid was trying to explain to them how to make the rocket go up and down as they struggled to get settled. At this point Peggy and I have tears streaming down our faces we’re laughing so hard. As the ride took off we were both turned around watching these women, neither of whom cracked a smile as they rode the rocket around and around in a circle, never going up or down, the blue head scarf snapping in the wind.

We were gasping by the time we got off the rockets and headed over to Small World. They were setting up for the Christmas Parade so of course we got trapped in Fantasy land. Not the land I want to be trapped in with, what I was starting to realize was a migraine. We rode on small world which looks so old and tired now although the dolls all had clean outfits on. The cardboard flowers and snowflakes all looked so hokey although I do remember being about 5 and thinking that it was all so amazing. There was a little tiny girl behind us, who was about 2 and it was fun to watch her face. We all sang and Emily was mortified.

After small world we hung out by the wishing well where the waterfall of turquoise water tumbles over fake boulders. Or rather I did. By myself. At this point I was starting to get nauseated and all the people and the smells and that song that they play over and over again as the parade passes by, it was all starting to get to me. So I parked it on the bench by the wishing well and ignored the couple that was having an emotional moment over by the waterfall. I swear to God, I think this guy proposed to his girlfriend, and I think I probably ruined their private, intimate moment by flopping down right in the middle of it. I was somewhat mortified, not for interrupting, I mean there were literally hundreds of people standing around, but because it’s freaking Disneyland! Who proposes at Disneyland?

After the parade we were heading back to Tomorrowland so everyone could drive the cars on Autopia and when the smell of whatever fuel they’ve got those things running on hit me I knew I was going to puke. So I had to say a quick goodnight and find a trashcan in an out of the way place. I jumped on the monorail and made my way back to the Disneyland Hotel where my car was parked and barely made it home before it started to pour.

I woke up yesterday morning to smell of woodsmoke and since I had just turned my heat on I got a brief adrenaline rush thinking that my house was on fire. But it wasn’t mine it was someone around the corner. I jumped out of bed and my leg muscles shrieked and my head throbbed.

I was extremely wiped out.

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