Saturday, June 25, 2011

I'm Returning

It's taken me a few days to get back to a routine that now includes being in love. I've been floating on landscapes I'd never seen before in my life. Did you know that some clouds aren't just air and atmosphere? You can actually jump on them, and they get softer with every jump.

I've spent the past few days re-learning how to go out, and I miss her every time, but yesterday was easier than the day before. The day before, I couldn't gauge when we would be home, and we were out all day, and I began to get testy in Wal-Mart because I really missed her. Then yesterday, we became Metro PCS customers, the same phone she has, so it's much easier than the Verizon customers we used to be (We've had so many fights with Verizon over the years, and when she mentioned Metro PCS, with unlimited plans and no annual contract, we looked into it), because then we would be charged. So now that I have text messaging, too, I will still miss her when I'm out during the day, but it won't feel like torture when the day gets later and later. I lasted longer yesterday because I had called her before my family and I left for Burbank for the day, and I only began to get slightly testy at CarMax towards 8 p.m.

This new and oh-so-wonderful experience has affected my family in many ways. They're all incredibly happy for me, but for my mom, it's especially important because she wants to see me do well, to be the man she knows that I have been as I grew up, the one who when he cares, he cares so deeply. The one who has endless patience when his mother and sister have to pop into a restroom while we're out (It turns out that all these years have been excellent training for me). The one who makes sure others are taken care of before he gets to his own needs.

Meridith is excited, because she has a potential new sister. When she was young, she hocked Mom for another kid. "Maybe it'll be a girl this time," she always said. But she was also greatly affected by this, worried that she would lose me. She won't. I'm always available for her, no matter where I am, and the wonderful girl who has taken my entire heart agrees.

I've got books to write, a full-time job to seek, all the things that were in my life before, but now I've also got her, the one I want to do everything for. Every writer needs a muse, but you know what else? She's also a writer! Heaven is indeed a place on Earth.

So I'm here again, and I'll be writing like I always did, whenever an idea pops up. But most importantly, I'm also the happiest I've ever been!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dancing on Clouds Previously Unimagined

The Writer Currently Known as Rory can't come to the blog right now. He's in love (and hopes to stay that way), but plans to come down soon to write whatever comes to mind (as usual), and then float back up into love.

Please leave a message at the sound of Barbra Streisand singing "Somewhere" (His potential One is a huge fan, just like he is). If it's urgent, sorry, you're out of luck.

"Some daaaayyyyyyy.....somewherreeeee....we'll find a new way of living...."

Saturday, June 18, 2011

This Girl

This girl plays Keno and video poker at Aliante in North Las Vegas. I've never been interested in poker.

She told me that her grandmother taught her to play when she was 4.

I'm interested.

This girl was born in North Miami. I was born in Plantation. We each spent a very short amount of time in our birth cities as infants. As native Floridians, we connected immediately.

This girl is obsessed with the Casey Anthony murder trial, from a psychological point of view. What she explained to me about the personality of Anthony was more insightful than anything you could get off of Headline News, CNN, and any other talking heads that are just there for the sensationalism rather than real insight.

This girl is a huge Barbra Streisand fan, as I am. I told her that when Barbra Streisand finally directs another film (It's been too long since The Mirror Has Two Faces), I'm waiting like the Star Wars and Harry Potter fans have waited, sleeping bags and all. She said, "My kind of guy....I'll wait with you."

We flirted a little last night online, and my god, I have never felt breathless from flirting until now. I never imagined you could.

This girl is a voracious reader, like I am, but I love the difference between us. I can go between many books. It's like with Medium Raw. I stopped at page 253 at Target the other day, and I'll finish it when we go back to Target. In the meantime, I finished reading On the Boulevard: The Best of John L. Smith yesterday, and also got three-quarters of the way through The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer. On a stack on the right-side arm of the couch is The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History by John Ortved, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, and Harold: The Boy Who Became Mark Twain by Hal Holbrook, the three books I intend to read next.

She doesn't like to start another book until she's finished what she's reading. She's nearly through Her Name is Barbra, a biography of Barbra Streisand by Randall Riese. I could see haunting used bookstores with her.

She's so much fun. We get into a rhythm in our conversations that feels like we've always known each other.

As I've said before, I'm not in 6th grade anymore. I don't ask out girls I barely know but like right away to the December Dance with me (Annie Librach, and I had asked her in September, not even a few weeks after school started. She turned me down on the same day). I'm a lot more patient now, and I want this to work however it might work.

We've seen photos of each other, and we still have to meet in person (Which will come after my family and I move to Las Vegas), though we agree that our strong intellectual connection will make that easier. But, honestly, I think I'm falling in love with this girl.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Day Away from Wal-Mart and Target Is Its Own Spiritual Cleanse

I couldn't do it yesterday. On Monday, we'd gone to two Targets, the only two in this valley. On Tuesday, Wal-Mart Supercenter, and since we headed out there after 1 p.m., I realized while we were out that I had forgotten to Tivo Jeopardy!. I'd had enough.

Mom had to go to Wal-Mart yesterday to get a watch she wanted. Yes, the same Wal-Mart.

No. Not again. I'd seen enough of the inside of that place already, plus, they didn't have a copy of Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain, which I had been reading at both Targets. I don't mind bringing in my own books to read, but it's still a little disheartening to find the differences in demographics and reading preferences between Target and Wal-Mart. Ok, yes, Target does have a bigger space for books, so that must be part of it, but come on, more paperbacks than anything else?

So Mom, Dad and Meridith went out and in celebration of a day away from all of that, I turned on the air conditioning since it was pretty uncomfortable in the house. Yeah, I'm simple when it comes to good times. And I loved it. I read more of Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez by Richard Rodriguez, which I'll probably finish today (The nice thing about not having a library in the area for a while is that reading becomes a calmer venture. You're not bound by due dates and the risk that you might not be able to renew some books. All the books in my room are available to me, whenever I want, and after this one, do I want to read The Sportswriter by Richard Ford or The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines? My choice. No due date), and had yet another fascinating conversation with someone online. All I'll say right now, since I don't want to be presumptuous, is that she's incredibly nice, bright, a lot of fun, and we have so much in common that it's scary, but a good scary, including being native Floridians, having the same favorite tea (Lady Grey), loving old movies, always wary of new movies, equal love of Barbra Streisand, voracious readers, she's a third-generation Days of Our Lives fan (I was a huge fan in 6th grade and a little bit after, and when she caught me up on what had happened with my favorite characters, it was like I had never stopped being one), and whenever we talk, there's always a comfortable rhythm. It just fits. It'll still be some time before we meet in person, since I've still got to move to Las Vegas (she's been there for six months), and I'm just going to take it day by day. I'm not in 6th grade anymore. There's no need to try to rush anything like I used to do. I'm older, and at least a little bit wiser.

Oh yeah, today! My day off from all the errand running was a kind of spiritual cleanse. I truly felt renewed, and I'm ok with going back out to the usual places today. I can get through more of Medium Raw if we go to Target, I can finish Hunger of Memory, and I still have the "Sandwich Issue" of Saveur, and the "Barbecue Nation Issue" came yesterday. And I've got my mp3 player like always, so I'm set. Plus, I could use more spinach, and I'm not sure when Meridith's going to use the baby spinach we got for her masterpiece of a pasta dish that includes chicken breast and sprinkle cheese from Trader Joe's. The way she makes it, no sauce is needed. So whenever she uses it, there'll probably be some left for me, but I want to be sure that I have some when I need it again.

Also, the bananas I have became ripe unusually fast. I'm thinking that maybe it was because I placed so many in that big plastic blue bowl at once, and the pressure of all of it caused it. I don't know, but I'll be more cautious just in case. Nevertheless, I'd like some newer ones because I like them just as the green is about to disappear from the peel, when it's firm and sweet enough without starting to turn mushy.

Today's going to be a nice day.

And a P.S. to whatever forces of fate oversee human matters: Please go easy on me this time. I've been presumptuous before about women, but I've been very cautious this time. I wrote about her now only because she amazes me every day with her personality and what we have in common. That's all. Please, please, please, please, please, please don't take that as a sign to mess with me yet again.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Things Become Clearer

I haven't written anything in the past few days, because I've been mulling over a lot. The pure happiness of soon moving to Henderson has given way to the reality of it. Not that there's a whole lot of difference between the mentally-flying-through-clouds-on-one's-own-power phase and thinking about what has to be done, because this is where we want to be, so it won't be as stressful as the past few times that we've moved. But it's a matter of thinking, "What do I want? This is my future."

I understood more yesterday sitting with Mom and Meridith at the McDonalds inside the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Carl Boyer Drive, right near the Food Center entrance. This was the second day that they were shopping for bras, the previous day spent at two Targets, with me reading Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain, two different copies. And since I'm up to page 144, and there's 320 pages, I don't feel the need to buy it, so I'll just finish it whenever we get to another Target.

I don't have any concern about what we have to do in order to move. It has to be done, just like the previous times, and so it shall be done. We're good at that already. But what do I want to do? What would make me happy? I've indicated my plans before, but process and preferences also factor into it, what you need to make it work for you as you strive to achieve what you want.

At that McDonald's, Meridith and Mom's lunchtime and my slight snack of 6 McNuggets and a medium fry (I had had lunch before we left the house, but I wasn't going to pass up McNuggets), Mom talked again about our future apartment complex, and I remembered that Mom had told us before about the full-size basketball court. For me, it is like going back to Disney World. Las Vegas is an adult Disney World for me, and when we lived in Casselberry at the time we went to Disney World seemingly all the time, I had a basketball hoop next to the driveway. I'm getting that back, and I'm going to live somewhere that will likely fire my imagination often just like Disney World did for all those years. It fits.

But more than that, as Mom talked about many of her and Dad's experiences driving around Henderson, the restaurants they stopped at, the people they talked to, I figured out the perfect time to send my resumes and cover letters to the nearby schools that I hope will hire me: You see, the charter school in Henderson didn't quite work out. They started with a very lowball offer and not only that, but apparently, the computer tech guy is also privy to this information, as he was cc'd in various e-mails to my Dad, and that doesn't smell right. This should be a matter of privacy between the necessary parties. And when Dad wrote back with his request that the salary should be higher, also factoring in his experience, the reply e-mail was cc'd to people that you wouldn't think should be involved in such a decision-making process. So his resumes and cover letters are also going out to other schools now, schools within the Clark County District, too. And once he hooks into something and it's absolutely confirmed that we're on our way, I'm sending my resumes and cover letters. I want to be certain I can go on job interviews without any issue of distance.

Something else was also confirmed for me. I went back and forth on it for years, thinking that my life felt complete enough with my books and the ones I plan to write, and the ones I'm doing research for right now, but enough. I want someone to be as integral a part of my life as my books are. I want an avid reader, someone who loves old movies and is wary of current output, and just someone who lights me up emotionally and mentally.

Well, at that McDonald's, Mom described the guy at the apartment complex office in better detail than I had previously known. She said he loves old movies, hates the new ones. He used to be heavily into movies, though not as much as I was (For me, it used to be an all-the-time thing), and isn't as much now, preferring books (as I do). A lot of them; like I do.

He hasn't owned a TV in nine months, which I can't do because Jeopardy! doesn't come in a book.

After Meridith heard all this, she turned to me and said, "It's a shame he's not a girl."

I'm on the right track. My sister knows me all too well. I am not only sure of what I want in a potential mate, but I know that I don't want to spend years upon years looking for her. At 27, I'm still young, but I would like to enjoy that person, hopefully for the rest of my life.

Friday, June 10, 2011

"They Call Him Sheldon at Work."

I was standing in line at Chik-fil-A, waiting to get my sister's sweet tea refilled, not knowing that all you had to do was go over to where the orders are laid out and ask there. We don't go to Chik-fil-A that often, so it's not something I considered.

In line in front of me is a heavyset man with a cap on, and his wife. He was wearing a "Bazinga!" t-shirt with a picture of Sheldon above it. I was wearing a t-shirt that had the Klingon version of "Revenge is a dish best served cold," along with the English translation underneath, and Sheldon between both.

The wife noticed my shirt and said, "Hey, look at that!", and her husband and I talked briefly about our love for The Big Bang Theory. Then his wife told me, "They call him Sheldon at work." I then listened to them deciding what to order, and when he told his wife what he wanted, he sounded exactly like Sheldon sounds when he orders something.

I thought, "Only at work?"

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Run of the House is Over

Mom and Dad came home late yesterday afternoon bearing many most-welcome gifts. Two notepads, a napkin and a cup from Bellagio, for one, the napkin and the cup being from Cafe Gelato, where they spent part of their 29th wedding anniversary. Most important to me were the two bags of newspapers brought home, newspapers I intend to read completely. I started last night with The Henderson Press, and by the first article, I already had a favorite reporter in there, and I hope he's still there by the time I become a resident in August. I've also heard that there's a box containing The Henderson Press near the mailboxes at our future apartment complex. I'll be getting that every Thursday when it comes out. I won't let that one sit.

They brought home the Friday and Sunday editions of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, as I asked, as well as the two most recent issues of Las Vegas Weekly, one touting their awards that they give based on voting in different categories (The Pinball Hall of Fame was named "Best Place to Take Your Kids"), and the other about the burlesque scene in Las Vegas. I liked the burlesque cover for obvious reasons, but I'm equally excited about both because here, I just skim through the L.A. Weekly. I don't relate to much in there. I relate to nearly everything in Las Vegas Weekly. Plus, I get to read Josh Bell, my favorite film critic, regularly. I discovered him in 2007 while reading an issue of Las Vegas Weekly while we waited for a table at Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay, before seeing "Mamma Mia!" downstairs at the Mandalay Bay Theater. Unlike many other film critics, Bell isn't looking to become the next Roger Ebert. He loves movies, he knows movies, and that's enough. Plus, he's as bright as the desert he calls home.

Meridith's happy about the new apartment because within the complex, there's a tennis court. I've been told that there's a full-size basketball court, so I'm set. The last time I had a basketball hoop was next to our driveway when I was a kindergartner in Casselberry, Florida. And being that I consider Las Vegas and the surrounding areas my new Disney World, it's fitting that I have the chance to play basketball regularly again. I consider all of this my new Disney World because going to Walt Disney World every weekend and sometimes during the week just for dinner when I was little always fired my imagination, and partly led to me becoming a writer. Vegas does the same to me all the time, and I've always believed that if you're a writer and you can't find anything to write about in Las Vegas, just quit.

Now the process begins. Now it's time for me to ditch a lot of books and DVDs, taking what is only crucial and necessary to my life. Now it's time to open up boxes we haven't seen since we moved to this apartment six years ago and figure out what we're going to take with us, or not. Now is the time for the anticipation to build, to be happy about what's ahead for us, and then to be so excited when we get there and settle, that we'll have no choice but to burst like Mr. Creosote in Monty Python's Meaning of Life. And then we'll put ourselves back together and figure out where to go out to eat. There's a lot more choice there than there ever has been here. And that's the biggest understatement of my entire life.

For once, Mom's not constantly repeating how much she hates this place, because she knows that there's far better living arrangements ahead. She's talked to us excitedly about everything she experienced there and described the apartment to us many times, as well as the new cable system we'll enjoy, which includes a Tivo that can record four things at once, and whatever's on the Tivo can be sent to any room. Plus, the channel lineup is nice, including Boomerang, Nicktoons (I wish they would show Doug), and I have Turner Classic Movies back, as well as a few sports channels I never had, so I can find basketball more often now.

This will be real living. Not just living and waiting and surviving as it has been these many years. Every single day a new experience. This is going to work.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I'm Going Home!

The charter school that Dad had a job interview at in Henderson called the house and left the message. DAD GOT THE JOB!!! The offer letter is coming by e-mail within a week.

Henderson, Nevada will now be home, and the moving won't seem so stressful this time.

The Run of the House: Day 9 - Homeward Bound

Mom and Dad got the PT Cruiser back yesterday and it's all been repaired properly, but they have to go back to the mechanic today to get the back left brake light adjusted. After that, they're coming home. It'll have been 10 days for them in Las Vegas and Henderson, the same number of days as that second trip to Southern California back in 2003 when they found not only a job for Dad, but an apartment, too; nearly the same as this trip, save for the job, which we're still awaiting word on, but hoping that it comes through.

This also means that the cycle of chores has built itself up again, more urgent than in previous days, though fortunately the list of chores they gave before they left have long been done. This time, I begin with a question: Where do we store the seven full white garbage bags until their contents can be donated? They're sitting near the right wall that faces the dining room table, and are protruding so that when Meridith's sitting at the table with her laptop (The same as Dad does with his laptop in the same spot), I have to do some slight ballet to get through. We're thinking that the garage may be best for now, so long as they eventually disappear.

The day before yesterday, I washed my collection of underwear and socks, so I've got to fold all of that, preferably before they get home, because surely they'll have things of their own to wash (The washing machine at Hawthorne Suites was not kind to all the clothes. The day after they had been done, Dad's pants ripped while he and Mom were out, so they had to go right back there so he could put on another pair). Meridith told me yesterday that we have to dump the litter from the birds' cages today and put in fresh litter. That means not only vacuuming around and through the stands on which their cages sit, but also near Kitty's cage since I still haven't vacuumed what was left after she tore the stuffing and then the padding out of her kennel mat when Meridith and I were out. I'm also thinking about whether to vacuum Mom and Dad's room again, but just a quick run this time. Not as much to clean.

Probably the recycling from the kitchen has to go out to the bin in the garage, so I'll do that. I'm guessing that they'll either leave Vegas in the late morning or the early afternoon after seeing the mechanic again (That's one of the nice things about this trip: We know a few people now for things we might need. People who have lived in the area for years). That gives us plenty of time, since they'll probably stop in Baker on the way back, and then through Victorville. They couldn't go back yesterday since it was close to the evening, and Dad doesn't drive at night anymore. Not great distances, anyway.

I've enjoyed these ten days, the reading I've done, the time spent watching the ice skaters and hockey players at Valencia Ice Station, and the arcade there; the thoughtful walks past the houses of Creekside Valencia, admiring the cookie-cutter patterns (though there is a feeling of home with a few of those balconies and porches), walking the paseo--probably for the last time--that I used to walk when we lived in Valencia, lunch at Five Guys Burgers and Fries, dessert at Menchie's, being awe-inspired by the passion for makeup among the employees at Sephora (and the raw charisma of many of them), and also just walking through a mall that hasn't quite been mine since Waldenbooks closed, but now truly belongs to others. I'm not really a mallrat, but I do love walking through them occasionally, and the malls to be found in Southern Nevada will keep me plenty interested, including that Henderson library branch inside the Henderson Galleria. You cannot find that anywhere else.

If these past few days have turned out to be a farewell to this valley, as I hope they will be, then it was a proper farewell at exactly the right time. I do not feel animosity toward this valley, even with all the frustrations personal and otherwise that I have experienced, but I know that no longer does any part of this valley interest me. Not that much of it did after we moved from the apartment in Valencia to the one in Saugus after that first year, but the views to be seen from the paseo, from the overpass crossing onto the paseo, do not at all compare to the views that can be found in Las Vegas. Finally, I know where I belong, and I intend to get there. This valley belongs to others. I'm going home.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Run of the House: Day 8

If today is the day that Mom and Dad come home, I'm going to miss the free time I used to have. Not only do I have to dump the books and DVDs I absolutely do not need, but every other space of this apartment needs to be just as clean, other things dumped (including old newspaper clippings with my byline that I don't need), loose drawers and cracks fixed, and this apartment sold by the time we leave for Henderson as residents in August. We bought it outright, so we're hoping to get a good price.

I know, I know, the real estate market is in the crapper and it could be a bad time to sell. But there is a chance. We have one of the few units per block with a garage that opens into the apartment. You roll in during the rare times it rains and you don't have to lug your groceries in through the front door, getting soaked. Just close the garage door and rain be gone and you be dry! Secondly, we have a large patio because we overlook one of the community pools. We're the only unit in this particular block that has that. Plus, we have a gate at the front-door walkway. Big white gate with a lock. No other unit here has that. We've got some advantages.

Yesterday was Mom and Dad's 29th wedding anniversary, so they spent part of it back at our future apartment complex, faxing applications for Meridith and I to fill out, with speakerphone guidance by Mom on what parts to fill out. We didn't need to fill out everything since we're all still going to live together, at least for right now.

Later in the day, into the evening, they went to the Bellagio to see the water show outside the hotel, then had gelato at Cafe Gelato there, and then to Blueberry Hill off the Strip for a snack. I think this was one of the better wedding anniversaries they have, not only because they've been where they had never been before, but because it seems like there was a real sense of celebration to it. That has not always been apparent in past years.

As for Meridith and I, she spent the entire day on her laptop transferring photos from her cell phone to her computer. The phone's memory card is too small for any slot on her laptop and so the process is taking a lot longer than it would with an external drive with that capacity. I think she still has more to do today.

I spent part of yesterday morning blog surfing as I always do, as I will do after this. And that was pretty much the major part of yesterday. Not much reading but I think I'll finish Rick Lax's book today.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Run of the House: Day 7

The books have changed.

I decided last night that I wasn't as interested right then in Bottom of the 33rd as I thought. I'm now reading Fool Me Once: Hustlers, Hookers, Headliners, and How Not to Get Swindled in Vegas by Rick Lax, and I'm blasting through it like I've been unjustly starved of books for a year. But then, when you're going to love where you live and you want to know everything about it, more than you know already, lots more, you're going to take to these kinds of books. Actually, that's not entirely true, because Lax is a rare breed. He doesn't resort to catchphrases in writing about Las Vegas or possesses an over-caffeinated mind that's spent too much time on the Strip. That is part of his job as a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly, but his mind goes beyond the immediate Strip, to the people who live and work in its proximity, to the places you don't see automatically like you do the Luxor pyramid, the faux skyline of New York-New York, the castle spires at Excalibur. In fact, he wrote an article last month about things to see beyond the Strip ( I'm already on page 50. I think I'll be done with this one by mid-afternoon and then crave more, which is why I hope my order from Powell's Books containing four books about Las Vegas, including a collection of columns by Las Vegas Review-Journal writer John L. Smith, arrives today.

The week has changed.

It is Monday yet again, a new week yet again. Meridith finished cleaning the front part of her room yesterday, and you can actually walk through it instead of stepping over what has been sitting on the floor for months and possibly years. I consider it indicative of a new start in our lives, though I still have more to do, as Mom told us last night over the phone that we'd have to move basically bare-bones, since there is not a great deal of room in this new apartment. There's more than we have right now, but to make it comfortable, I'm going to have to dump a lot of books, which I don't have a problem with since 80% of those books aren't in my personal collection. I'll only take those I want to read badly, such as H. Paul Jeffers' biography of Diamond Jim Brady, the rest of the Cornbread Nation anthologies (If I haven't read them yet), all of Tessa Hadley's books, and I'll see what else when I sift through the stacks.

And yet, even in a new week, there are a few things that haven't changed. For one, I talked to Dad about 10 minutes ago and he said they're going to have to stay another day, because the mechanic hasn't fully repaired the car yet. He has the parts, but it's been a waiting game with the warranty company and AAA. I told Dad that I hope he and Mom at least do something special for their 29th wedding anniversary. It's today.

What's most interesting about having the run of the house for an entire week is the cycle of chores. The last of last week's tasks was Meridith cleaning the front part of her room. And now the cycle begins again. I have to gather the garbage pails from each of the rooms to put in the kitchen garbage and take out that bag to the garbage bin in the garage, gather the recyclables, dump those into the recycling bin, and roll both bins out to the curb for pickup tomorrow. Because of Memorial Day last Monday, the bins were picked up on Wednesday, but I still rolled them out that Monday just in case the garbage company still decided to do our route on Tuesday, because even with what they tell you on the phone, you can never be sure.

I know I need a shower, but there's one thing already crossed off the list, since I just shaved. I will never, ever, ever, EVER get used to a beard. I tried it when I was in high school and it didn't work then, doesn't work now. I hate that scratchy feeling as the hairs protrude more. It's more bearable after a shave, because at least that fades.

I was thinking about vacuuming around the birds' cages again and near Kitty's cage, because while we were out on Friday and Saturday, she first ripped the stuffing out of her kennel mat (Friday) and then tore out some of the padding (Saturday). It was difficult for the dogs that Mom and Dad have been gone this long, but they've gotten used to it, though because Kitty had been abandoned in the Alaska cold when she was found, she probably thought we weren't coming back, and it was bad enough that Mom and Dad were away, too. We told her every time that we would be back. And of course we came back. And she acted like she hadn't done anything to her mat and just wanted to have someone throw her tennis ball. An angel again. As to the vacuuming, I'll hold off until Tuesday, because it would be best to have it vacuumed close to when Mom and Dad are supposed to get home.

I don't think the chores will be as heavy this week since they'll need some recovery time after the first week that any of us have spent in Las Vegas. It's been 2-3 days at a shot; never this long. As long as they're sufficiently recovered by Friday, because I need the PT Cruiser trunk to bring the rest of my books back to the library, all 36. It's doubtful that we'll be living here much longer (Therefore making it over 7 and nearly 3/4 years and no more), but god forbid we end up here a little longer, I'm switching my library card and the other library cards over to the Stevenson Ranch Express branch, which is either a bookmobile or a small building, based on what I've heard. I am not signing up for a new card in the new system. I will not support such a disappointing venture.

Anyway, this whole experience reminds me of the second time that Mom and Dad flew to Southern California from South Florida, without us that time. They were there for another 10 days, though as Meridith reminded me, that's all the time they had intended to be there. There were no extensions like there had been now. Yet, on that trip, they had found an apartment that Meridith and I only first saw when we had moved there, and Dad had had a job interview at La Mesa Junior High that turned into a job. Same as now. Well, not the job part yet, but as Dad said on the phone this morning, maybe the charter school will call today, decision made, and ask him to come down to sign the contract. Now wouldn't that be a way to celebrate a wedding anniversary!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Money Down and Looking Up

Mom was on the phone with us for over an hour, way past when I wanted to have dinner, though I had it just the same after. We had come home fairly late each evening, as late as nearly 7 p.m. can be, for the past two days, usually eating at about 7:30, and I wanted to try for earlier this time since we spent the day at home. No dice, not with all Mom had to tell us and sometimes repeat, but I understand, since she's genuinely happy about the apartment she and Dad found, so much so that we also learned that they put some money down on it to express their seriousness to the manager about soon moving there.

She described to us everything that's nearby, including Walgreens, Food 4 Less, and I hope Smith's is just as close. Everything will be open to us, she said. We can go anywhere, do anything; after we get jobs and establish ourselves, we can even get our own apartment if we want, since the monthly rent is so cheap in this complex. For now, I just want to follow the first two things. I want to get settled, find a decent job with a decent salary and decent benefits, and finally feel good about where I am, knowing it's where I belong. I know I've repeated that sentiment many times already, but I'm still turning it over again and again in my mind, amazed at this good fortune.

Mom did say that there's not a great deal of room in this apartment, so a large amount of books would have to go into a storage facility. I don't intend to do that. Whereas now I've bought books that I really want to read, my personal collection will remain small and will likely be the only collection I keep. And I don't come upon books for that collection very often. I hope bookshelves will still be a possibility. There's plenty of time to work that out, years in fact. With all that there will be to experience, I'm patient.

Muddy Waters

For dinner last night, Mom and Dad went to Lucille's Smokehouse BBQ at The District at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson. I crave going there again, for their cheese grits, real grits.

Mom ordered an Arnold Palmer, which is half iced tea, half lemonade. The waitress said that in the west, that's called "muddy waters."

It's not just at the Lucille's chain that that holds true, but also at the M &M Soul Food Cafe on West Charleston in Las Vegas.

With everything I'm hearing about our potential new apartment complex, that it has a full-size pool table in the front office, an indoor and outdoor jacuzzi, a sauna, a tennis court, two basketball hoops, and a pool, I'm ready to adopt new terms for this new life. I used to call that concoction an Arnold Palmer, but I'm fine with changing it. After all, moving to Las Vegas and the surrounding areas is all about reinvention. You have the rare chance to remember who you are and live however you want to live. This is my kind of start to that.

The Run of the House: Day 6 - I've Never Seen a Library So Serious and Forbidding

Because of the County of Los Angeles library system, I discovered Charles Bukowski, and spent a Saturday in our apartment in Valencia that first year reading Notes of a Dirty Old Man by mid-afternoon sunlight filtered through my dusty blinds slightly above my bed. Because of it, I discovered Quentin Crisp, who became one of my heroes, and taught me through his writings that to be yourself is the only way to live and any other way is wasteful. I discovered The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Music of Your Life by John Rowell, and This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes, and all affected me so deeply that they all eventually became part of my collection.

The one book I am proud to have as a memento of the County of Los Angeles library system, not only in light of the loss to come from the City of Santa Clarita taking control of the Valencia library and the three other branches within city limits but also after we move to Nevada, is Subways are for Sleeping by Edmund G. Love, a chronicle from 1957 about resourceful homeless people living in New York City who make their day-to-day lives work. I had this book all throughout my time at College of the Canyons, checking it out constantly, shunning math homework in the cafeteria at a table in the back in favor of reading it again. I think I got more out of those two-and-a-half years of education from that book than from any class, though I did have some decent teachers. This book had come from the Norwalk branch of the County system, and when it came time to return it yet again, I didn't. It had been with me all throughout my time at COC. It belonged with me. So I told them that I had found out after we had gotten back to Santa Clarita from Las Vegas that it must have dropped out of the car at a rest stop on the way back (Not true), and I gladly paid $34: $29 for the book and a $5 processing fee. It will be an honor when I finally have bookshelves, and can place it among the other books I love.

Meridith and I went to the library yesterday to return a few books, ahead of returning the rest next week. Well, mine, actually. She returned every book on her card except one by Meg Cabot. It's appropriate that the last book on her card should be that, since she's a huge Meg Cabot fan. I returned 14 books, and still have 36 to return.

After getting The Wall Street Journal Weekend from Pavilions, and smoothies from Jamba Juice (I got a PB&J one with banana; Meridith got Blue Gummy Bear), we decided we were not going to go anywhere else until we dropped off these books. Heavy bags do not make for an enjoyable day, and so we started walking from the heart of Valencia to the library, past the mall, and fortunately, our shoulders remained where they should be after we were finally able to put down the bags and get the books checked in.

It was a sorry sight at the library. They had called on Friday and left a message to say that the two books I had put on hold would be available until 6 p.m. that day. Normally, when I had a huge number of books on hold, even those holds that I cancelled remained on the shelf not only because they were so many, but because they figured that I would eventually take care of it. Or they just didn't care to look because of the 34 books waiting for me on those shelves (34's just one number at one time. It's sometimes slightly higher). Because of the transfer of these libraries to the City of Santa Clarita, I knew they had to be serious about that deadline, but I figured that since they knew me, maybe they would let those books sit there, knowing that I would be there on Saturday. I couldn't get there on Friday because there was no car and we weren't in Valencia. Our radius was the Ralphs and McDonald's in the shopping center on McBean Parkway, extending out past Meridith's old high school, to the Ice Station, then to the Italian sub place and back. We weren't going to go to the library twice.

Walking into the library, I saw that they were serious. All the holds had been cleared from the shelves, sent back. Such a sad sight seeing so many empty shelves. That's not what a library should be, but that's what this library is, coupled with the self-checkout machines having been turned off. LSSI, the corporate outfit that's going to run these libraries for the City of Santa Clarita, has to do inventory, put new barcodes on the books, and are they going to buy these self-checkout machines from the County of Los Angeles, too? Not only that, but are they at work on a new online library catalog? LSSI is an outsourcing company for those within a city who can't do their own work to make a library function. I don't care what their intentions are, but being that this is an outfit primarily based on the east coast, they cannot know this valley as well as the librarians who had been in place already do. But this is how it is, being that no member of the City Council has a library card. They just want to save money by isolating this valley even further. I care less and less as the weeks go on, being that I'll eventually be living where people remain connected, where there's no such isolation. Henderson may have its own library system comprised of five branches, but at least it's run by the city. It's not been outsourced like this. Boulder City may be all the way in the back, but that one library is part of the Clark County system.

Even so, books should not be treated like this. A library should not look this barren. Months before, the option to buy books gradually faded. The books from those shelves and the turnstile shelves lessened, and soon enough, there was nothing left. Most of the books weren't worth it for me, but at least there was the opportunity to see what your fellow residents read by what they donated. Not anymore.

These three Santa Clarita libraries will close from June 18 to July 1, or so they claim, but one of the librarians said that they'll probably open back up after July 4th. That long without a library? I have no problem with that since I've built up a partial library with all the books I've bought online to read, though not in anticipation of this. But for others, this is inexcusable. A library should be always be accessible, not susceptible to the whims of an inept City Council and certainly not a for-profit company. Certainly checking out books free of charge remains, but libraries should never be monetized. I found an article just now about LSSI:

To me, this sounds like an instance of the City Council not wanting to figure out how to save the libraries on their own, and fobbing it off on a company that does not even know this valley, so they don't have to think about it any further. I wish my years with the Valencia library had not ended this way. I will keep track of what's going on with these libraries after I've become a resident of (likely) Henderson, Nevada, but only this aspect of the Santa Clarita Valley will continue to interest me. Nothing else. I say that now, but then once I have my Henderson library card and my Clark County library card, I may forget about all else after I've spotted the Nevada and Las Vegas history sections, learning what I really want to learn.

Ok, rant over.

Meridith and I left the library after returning the books and making our canvas tote bags significantly lighter, and walked the paseo paths that go past the car dealerships and to where the bike paths and walking paths are, to look out at all the trees that sit on the land that used to be a river. A lot of it is dry and cracked, but a lot more has grown there since we last saw it.

Then back through the paseo paths, to the Valencia Town Center Mall, from the food court to the second floor, past the Disney Store, outside to where the relatively new shops are, including Williams-Sonoma, which we tackled after lunch, because lunch was very necessary, especially lunch at Five Guys. Meridith had a bacon and cheese hot dog, and I had a cheese veggie sandwich, with mushrooms, grilled onions, pickles, tomatoes, mustard, and barbecue sauce. And of course their fries. You cannot eat at Five Guys without having their fries. It should be a law. And I want to know where they get their peanuts because I'd like to find the unsalted kind. The ones I got from Ralphs about a month ago were disappointing.

After Five Guys, where I also noticed that there's a publication called Florida Monthly that I unfortunately never knew about even with all the years I lived in Florida (The clip from the magazine they put up on the wall says "Since 1981")--though I did find the website after we got home--we went to Menchi's, where I found only two decent frozen yogurt flavors in peanut butter cup and pistachio. The red velvet flavor didn't taste close to red velvet and they really need to improve the vanilla and chocolate flavors. While we were eating our frozen yogurt, weighed down by all the toppings we had put on, I joked with Meridith that with all the sample cups we had had, we could have just left afterward.

Then we went to Sephora, where Meridith wanted to find a certain nail polish that you paint over the nail polish you have on, and it gives it a cracked look. She had wanted it ever since she saw it at the Disney store next to the El Capitan Theatre after seeing Pirates 4, and found it there. If you ever want to see one store where the employees have a great love for makeup of all kinds, that's where you go.

Williams-Sonoma was next, and the one thing I find disappointing is that despite the love they promote for cooking, they never stock any culinary memoirs. It's probably not the place to find Anthony Bourdain's books, but there are so many other good ones that should be on shelves next to the cookbooks. I understand that the point of Williams-Sonoma is to find different gadgets and pans and sauces and anything else you want to cook what you want, but reading about the experiences of cooking is equally interesting. However, at $24.95 for some books, I probably wouldn't buy those books there anyway, which may be why they don't stock them.

We walked back through the mall, with a stop at the restrooms near the food court, and then out to where the Edwards Valencia 12 is, to see what was left of Borders. Nothing. The sign was taken down, the inside windows were boarded up, and that was it. I've no sadness for it going out of business because they sold books entirely the wrong way. Barnes & Noble is all about books, and the feeling you get inside is one of wanting to read, to explore everything you can find. Borders just happens to sell books.

We also stopped in at the arcade next to the movie theater, played air hockey, and tried to win a plush Pac-Man from one of the claw machines. The claw on that one never goes down where you position it. It stretches to the side. Two dollars gone, but thankfully it was only two dollars. Meridith wanted to keep trying, but I told her, "That's how Las Vegas makes money," and we left.

Back to our old apartment to peek through the windows and see that it was empty, with stuff left by the previous owners (including two floor fans), and that was it. We got on the bus at the stop in front of Target and eventually, we were home and thoroughly worn out because this was the second day in a row that we had done more walking than we do even in a week. Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune were the order of the evening, along with a smaller dinner since we had eaten so much during the day. I had thought about beginning to read The Wall Street Journal Weekend, but I decided to save it until today. We're staying home today, it's quiet all around, and it's the perfect time for it.

Out in Henderson, I just got the news from Mom that the job listing Dad had responded to from the charter school on the Las Vegas Review-Journal website was taken down, so Dad may very well get a call soon. They're also looking at apartments again today and found some very nice ones. The one they're looking at again today is two bedrooms with two bathrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. I'm not sure if there is a dining room, too, but the plan for that one is to turn the living room into another bedroom for me, since Mom said she'd never make me and Meridith share a room. Or maybe it was the dining room. I hope so, because we need a living room. The apartment complex they were at also has a fitness center, a tennis court (Meridith's psyched about that), and lots of grass and trees for the dogs. She doesn't want them doing their business on rocks, and Tigger hated that during our first trip to Las Vegas when we stayed at America's Best Value Inn. Having grass for them is the biggest concern. We'll work through the rest.

It's possible that they may leave Nevada tomorrow, although they should spend a bit of time somewhere, since it will be their wedding anniversary. But as it stands, this will be the longest time any of us have been there, and from what we can see, it wil have been the most beneficial because we're so much closer to a true home, the kind that will make me proud to say that Nevada is my home state, and (probably) Henderson my home town. Life as it should be lived.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

It Doesn't Feel Like a Coincidence

Normally, I'd save details like these for the next morning, as has been the case the past few mornings (Except for tomorrow morning, since I may post later than usual, being that I got a movie called "Jolene" from Netflix that I've been curious about for a while, and since a movie this morning wasn't possible because of the dogs being picked up to be groomed, tomorrow morning will be it, also because I just got in the mail from Amazon Auntie Mame and Sweeney Todd, starring Angela Lansbury and George Hearn), but this should be known now. Three times in one day cannot be just a coincidence.

The plan today was for Meridith and I to go to the library, but first to stop at Pavilions to see if they had my Wall Street Journal Weekend, and then to Jamba Juice for smoothies to have on the long walk to the library from that part of Valencia. We found my newspaper at Pavilions. $2.19 there, 19 cents tax, instead of $2.20, 20 cents tax at the newsstand. No big difference, and when I can get there, I like the newsstand more anyway.

I looked at the stories above the fold as always, and also finding out that the Off Duty section had a write-up and recipes about the best burgers. Below the fold, I was stunned at the article at the bottom. The headline is "Residents of Old Mining Town Want Gold to Star in Them Thar Hills." The sub-heading says, "In a Nevada Historic District, Tourism Prospectors Don't Dig Plans for a Real Open Pit". The dateline is "VIRGINIA CITY, Nev." At the time we were at Pavilions, Mom and Dad were looking for viable apartments. No news yet on the result of the job interview, but it will take some time. And if it does happen, we want to make sure we have pinpointed where we would want to live, what's good for Mom and Dad. Better now than rushing through it like we used to and ending up where we didn't benefit, like here, right now.

About 20 minutes ago, we got home and there was a box from Amazon at the door, containing those aforementioned DVDs. The return address is Fernley, Nevada.

When I started writing this entry, I looked again at the paper, and pulled out the Off Duty section to see what burgers and recipes were profiled. On page D2, one of the burgers is called "House-Ground Steak Burger". The introduction to the recipe begins: "Chef Bradley Ogden of the namesake restaurant in Las Vegas..."

These are not coincidences. These are strong signs. It's going to take a little more time, but the good and the great that we have waited for in our lives is going to come. I'm ready for true happiness.

The Run of the House: Day 5

In and near Las Vegas, within a day or two, fantasy gives way to reality. If you gamble big, you might lose big. Or your vacation ends and you have to go back to wherever your house is. Or, in my case, time to get to know another potential place to put my stuff.

Mom and Dad decided not to pursue that condo (house, I know) in Boulder City for three reasons: First, there are some cracks they saw that we would likely have to have repaired. Secondly, the walls of the house have some kind of design we have in Florida that Mom apparently didn't like, though I don't know what kind, since I wasn't really paying attention during that part of the conversation with her on the phone, though Meridith was listening. I was really tired at that point in the evening, having not stopped moving the entire day. Third: condo. That means that whatever might have to be repaired there, we shoulder the cost. That's the same as here in Saugus. Mom and Dad don't want that anymore because we had enough of that experience mostly with the plumbing and though part of it was covered by dint of using whomever was in the home warranty plan (All useless because they didn't actually fix the problem and we had to go to someone else and hope that they would do the work required), we still had to pay. There was enough hassle with that, and an apartment would be better because whatever needs to be fixed, there's no cost. I liked the condo, the balcony, the space that would have allowed me to finally put in bookshelves. But there's also another consideration: It was right near the highway in Boulder City. There were no supermarkets, no daily-living stores around that we would need. To get there, we'd have to drive some. We do that already from Saugus to Valencia, and we want to be connected to somewhere, not isolated.

I wasn't as broken up about losing that porch-like balcony and that space, because of where Meridith and I had been yesterday. My plans had been simply to put Mom and Dad's bedsheets in the wash, shower, and wash the dog's bowls. I figured we would stay home yesterday because we planned to go out today. One day would seem to be enough. But Mom was on the phone with us in the late morning, telling us that we should do something. And considering the dust I encountered with sweeping out the garage, and the usual crud that gets tracked into the house that was sucked up into the vacuum when I did Mom and Dad's room and the hallway that connects my room and Meridith's room, I could have used some fresher air. And that's what I got after Mom said that we should go to that Italian sub sandwich place to get two of them for later, especially since the free sub that she was to get would still stand. They had made four sandwiches for us last time, but one of them was the wrong one. Not that they made it wrong, but someone else had ordered it for us and they put it into our bag, so Mom called them the next day and was told that we'd get a free small sub next time because of it.

We started out at 11:50, since the bus would come at around 12:01 p.m. I brought the anthology Man with a Pan with me, but ended up not reading a lot of it throughout the day. I still like to have a book with me, and it'll be easier today when we go to the library, because I'll have my bag with me, so I can put it in there.

Our first stop was the bank, because we had an assortment of nickels, dimes, and quarters to be turned into $31.50, and I had to deposit my latest paycheck into the ATM machine. Meridith also had to get some cash out of there from her and Mom's account.

Next was lunch at McDonald's. I had forgotten that it was Friday, thought that it was Thursday, and tried to order the 20-piece Chicken McNugget special, which came with two medium drinks and two medium fries. I figured that if I wanted more fries after that, my brain would pipe up with, "You've had enough. Get up and start walking, fatass." The two medium drinks would have been useful because Meridith needed one, so that was taken care of without having to order another one.

But since it was Friday, after we had ordered what I thought was the special and a Quarter Pounder with cheese and bacon for Meridith, I had to order two medium drinks and a large fry, which we both shared, and which was enough. Later, I was keen on part of the peach pie they have now (It's a lot better than their apple pie), and Meridith wanted to try a Rolo McFlurry. So I split the peach pie with Meridith and ended up finishing off the McFlurry. Nothing to worry about, since we had a lot of walking ahead of us.

We started at the intersection near the Ralphs we were going to later and passed the senior housing, 1 and 2 bedrooms available, as the sign says. Then we crossed another intersection because we'd get right to the intersection near Meridith's old high school, Valencia High, and we wouldn't have to cross the street a second time. But I was taken by rows of houses, collectively called Creekside Valencia, and I was entranced, and wondering why we didn't move here. There was a pattern to the houses, you'd see the same design of a balcony railing three or four times, but it was so peaceful, and there was an out-in-the-country feeling about it, away from the traffic in Valencia, away from what usually frustrates people about this kind of life, what wouldn't be healthy for any other creature but one residing in Southern California who doesn't notice it all that much. I was miffed by the number of SUVs that passed us as we walked by these houses, looking at those porches, imagining rocking chairs of our choosing there, of just looking out at the scenery, relaxing, reading, whatever we'd want to do that would contribute to the peacefulness of the area for us. SUVs and soccer moms, I get that for reasons of temporary storage and how many kids can be stacked into it, but all the time? Some choice.

On our way out, we found a cluster of benches surrounded by plants, including a big round pot on a square pedestal and the dirt seemed to have a mix of sand. It was nicer than the benches that were near our old apartment behind the shopping center that includes Pavilions and Peet's Coffee and Tea.

As we passed Meridith's old high school, I pointed out the auditorium we had seen her perform at with the orchestra and she said she had pretty much faked her way through the entire performance, since she wasn't entirely sure of the notes for the music they played. I told her that she would make a perfect Southern Californian then, if we had stayed any longer, like years longer, and thank god that's not happening.

Past the parking lot that faces the various sports fields on the campus, I noticed the building across the street from the school that contains ice skating rinks and hockey rinks. It's called Ice Station, and I figured that here we were, and we should take advantage of it, see what's going on. I thought we would have to pay to get in, but that's not the case, only when games are going on. The most you'd have to pay for is skate rentals on days like that one. But we had no intention of doing that.

We went in, not so much winded from the walk, but pretty warm from it with the slight heat during the day and the wind that had been blowing steadily, and went upstairs where they have an arcade. We first went to where hockey players were practicing, and then to the ice skating rink where many people were skating. It wasn't that cold for us because of the walk, but in an ice skating rink, you definitely notice the temperature change, but it was a relief, and I imagine that Ice Station will have a lot of visitors during the summer, or whatever's left of the summer when the temperature decides to go up because it's not as hot as previous Junes have been.

I loved the arcade. There was an air hockey table, so Meridith and I had to do that (It has become her favorite air hockey table, because there's multi-colored lights that spin on the top whenever someone scores a goal, and she scored nearly all the goals and won), and they had a machine with Ms. Pac Man and Galaga, but Galaga only for me. It's not played that much because I finished with a score of 56,000+ and I ended up in 2nd place on the "Galactic Heroes" high score board. Meridith took a picture on her phone.

The restrooms are the nicest-smelling and the cleanest in all of Santa Clarita. And the faucets, when you push the top down, actually remain on for a few seconds. It's not like you push it down and then a second later, it shuts off. That's not easily found around here.

Then the Italian sub place, a cold cut sub for Meridith and a vegetarian sub for me, and then back to Ralphs, but not before stopping at Creekside Valencia for a second time, and sitting on one of those benches and just taking in that blessed peace. Rare are those moments in Santa Clarita when you feel completely at peace. That was one of them.

Ralphs was a great pleasure because Dad wasn't with us. He strives to rush us through the store every single time, questioning what we need, and usually with a look that says he wants to leave already, even though we just got into the store and we need a few things. This time, I only needed bananas because I had run out, we needed another gallon of water for the dogs because the only one we had was running low, and I wanted to see if Blue Diamond almond milk in that aseptic container was still available. It was, at 2 for $4, but I settled on one, and decided to try the original this time, though I'm very much attached to the vanilla flavor.

Then back to McDonald's to get a plain double cheeseburger and a small fry for Tigger and Kitty for later, but since we had gotten to McDonald's at 4:40, and the bus wasn't coming until 5:56, we had some time. So I ordered a frozen strawberry lemonade for Meridith, heavy on the strawberry syrup, and a Reese's McFlurry for me. That's my once-in-a-while McFlurry, because once in a while is enough. I had some time to read as well, so I skimmed through the Southern California Gaming Guide that I had picked up at Ralphs and read a bit of my book.

We got home, and I was bushed. But we had more to contend with because Kitty, not happy at us having gone out and certainly not with Mom and Dad still not home, ripped all the stuffing out of the kennel mat we keep in her cage. I didn't know there was that much Shamrock Shake-colored stuffing inside that mat. It filled up most of the white garbage bag I put it in.

The mat is completely flat now, but we're putting it back in because she needs something in there (The only other option is that nothing goes in there), and we're hoping that she doesn't do anything else to it.

There was some time on the phone with Mom afterward that led right into dinner, since we had put the sandwiches from the Italian sub place in the fridge to get colder, and then in went the bedsheets and the pillows into the wash, and I decided to wash the dog's bowls. Better then, after they had had their cheeseburger and fries.

After all that, I didn't quite feel like a zombie, but I think I was getting there. I started Bottom of the 33rd by Dan Barry, but didn't get too far into it yet, and TV was limited to that evening's episodes of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. I didn't have the desire for anything else.

Right now, the dogs are being groomed by Shannon, who picks them up and brings them back. I've got to figure out what library books I'm going to return today, enough so that I have less to return during the week, and I've also got to write a list of those books so I can look for them after we move to Vegas and I sign up for library cards in Henderson and with the Clark County system. Those are the ones I want to start with, as a link from Santa Clarita to Las Vegas, and then I can burn that bridge with each book.

Oh! One more thing that didn't really fit with anything here: Mom and Dad had quite a busy day yesterday, going to Chinatown, driving the Strip, keeping tabs on the PT Cruiser, but while they were on the Strip, just before the Wynn Hotel, Steve Wynn's Rolls-Royce cut them off. They weren't sure if Steve Wynn himself was in it, but his driver sure was, and it was definitely Wynn's Rolls-Royce, because the license plate said "WYNN1". Mom tried to get a picture, but her cell phone wasn't acting right in that moment. Even so, only in Vegas. And more evidence that that's where I want to be.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Wall Street Journal Weekend: Maybe, Maybe Not.

Because Mom and Dad are in Las Vegas, if Meridith and I want to go anywhere, we have to take the bus. This morning, Mom suggested that we go to Ralphs if we need anything (I ran out of bananas, and I want to see if that aseptic carton of almond milk is still on sale), and to that Italian sub place that's right by Meridith's old high school, and to pick up a cheesburger (regular) and a small french fry for Tigger and Kitty from McDonald's.

My plans were different. I was going to wash the dog's bowls and the tray they sit on, take a shower, and put Mom and Dad's bedsheets and pillowcases in the wash and then with Meridith, put them back on the bed. That was it. I have books. I'm fine. In fact, ahead of having to return all my library books next week, I've pinpointed three books I want so badly to read before that horrid day happens: Fool Me Once: Hustlers, Hookers, Headliners and How Not to Get Screwed in Vegas by Rick Lax; Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball's Longest Game by Dan Barry; and Miles: The Autobiography by Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe. These three are going straight to the top of my immediate reading list. These will be my weekend reading, or as much as I can read tomorrow when we're off to the library to return some books so we don't have as much to return by next Friday (the absolute deadline to return everything), Jamba Juice, the Valencia Town Center mall, Sprouts, Pavilions, and whatever else we can think of while we're there.

I've no objection to today's plans. After the dogs have their cheeseburger and french fries with some of their usual dinner, I'll wash the bowls then. And I'll put Mom and Dad's linens in the wash on Sunday. That's simple enough. Plus, I just took a shower. So I'm covered.

But one part of my Saturday routine might or might not be, my copy of The Wall Street Journal Weekend. We're taking the bus down to Valencia tomorrow and our first stop will be Pavilions, because Meridith suggested that they might have it there. I usually go to the newsstand near Kmart, because they not only have it, but what looks like nearly every magazine ever published, and I like to browse when I'm there. It's not as important anymore because the magazines I used to look at I now subscribe to.

So if Pavilions doesn't have it, then we have to do some thinking. We'll go to the library, but it's a little bit of a hike to get the newsstand. Yet, we parked at the now-shuttered Do-It Center (It was a much smaller Home Depot without the trappings of a chain) when the Food Truck Festival was going on and walked almost that length to get to the first car dealership where three food trucks were parked (It was going on to celebrate the revitalized Auto Row (what I call it), which had been refurbished, with plants at the curb, cleaner sidewalks, etc. This is the big happening in this valley. Now you see why I'm craving Las Vegas more and more).

It didn't take me long to read last week's Wall Street Journal Weekend and circle the book titles that interested me in the "Review" section. About an hour, I'd say. It usually takes longer. Do I really need it this weekend? I'd like it this weekend, just like every other weekend, and we won't be hauling any books from the library, the first time since we moved here seven years ago, but it depends on what else we do, if we buy anything that would have to be refrigerated (unlikely), and where we are physically by the time we get to that point (There's going to be a lot of walking). I think I'd be a little disappointed if I didn't have it, but not broken up, because when they do finally come home, Mom and Dad will have with them last week's issue of Las Vegas Weekly and this week's, and a few editions of the Las Vegas Review-Journal for me. That's all I wanted from Vegas. I wanted real reading material from my future hometown, and I'm getting it. I think that makes up for possibly not having The Wall Street Journal Weekend this weekend a million times over. Like I've said before, I only skim through the L.A. Weekly and The Signal because there's nothing that interests me, and the writing in The Signal is reliably atrocious. To read the Las Vegas Weekly cover to cover and read nearly everything in the Review-Journal (I skip the AP articles)? I'll take it!

The Run of the House: Day 4 - I Understand Now

To the right of the dining room table, we've got a white stand which has a black box on top of it, a Grace Wireless Internet Radio. You can get any station you want, anything that interests you when you're not on a computer. Over the past three, four years that we've had it (Time becomes distorted enough in Southern California that what you think may have happened four years ago may actually have happened two years ago, and vice-versa), we've had only Las Vegas stations on, in anticipation of some day moving there, and the hope faded as they years went on, up until now.

The station that's been on the most has been KJUL 104.7. During the school year, with Dad and Meridith at work, Mom and I have had it on during lunch, and for some hours after lunch. They've got the Beatles, Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow, Tom Jones, Elvis Presley, Paul Anka, Sammy Davis, Jr., Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra, The Carpenters, Anne Murray, Linda Ronstadt, Glen Campbell, and others. A good line-up. But imagine hearing those same songs every single day. Some are my favorites, such as "Wichita Lineman," but Sammy Davis Jr.'s "I've Gotta Be Me" for the 24th day in a row? Please; anything else but that! Haven't they got "The Candy Man" in their computers? I could handle that for a bit longer.

For Mom, KJUL has helped her keep hope that we'll become residents of Las Vegas one day. For me, I wanted to find any other station that had never heard of any of these singers. Sunny 106.5 in Vegas would be fine, except that what KJUL does in repeating those songs, Sunny does the same thing. And I don't need to hear "I Don't Want to Wait" by Paula Cole twice in one day.

Yesterday, I understood Mom's need to hope for that better day. I have the same hope, but up until their trip to Vegas, I didn't have the same flame. Mine was set lower. Sure, I wanted to be there, I wanted to live as I should, but I needed to do my research for my next books, to read, to keep my sanity while I lived in Santa Clarita. Living just to survive.

Every late Thursday afternoon, into the early evening, from 5-7 p.m., KJUL's morning host, Scott Gentry, presides over Table for Two, a dining deal in which you order off their menu wherever they are, and Gentry and KJUL pays for your guests. "You buy one, I'll buy one; you buy two, I'll buy two," Gentry always says over the radio during the week and on the day.

Gentry was at the re-opening of the Grand Cafe at Sunset Station, and for the rest of June, that's where he'll be. The menu for the deal has meatloaf, Philly cheese steak, roasted lemon herb chicken, and turkey dinner. Only the Philly cheese steak comes with fries; the rest have mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. Mom had the roasted lemon herb chicken, exactly what I would have ordered if I had been there. Dad had the Philly cheese steak.

For Mom, it was a lot more than she could ever have imagined. Even more than the hope she always had. She said it was the first time in years that she had had decent chicken (Santa Clarita's not well known for good meat of any kind in the supermarkets, though sometimes you can find it at Sprouts, but not often, because of the prices they push), but the highlight for her was meeting Scott Gentry. Meridith showed me the pictures Mom sent to her cell phone, and I saw the one Dad sent me by e-mail. Gentry looks exactly as he sounds. He's a tall, permanently amiable man, the voice and soul of the Las Vegas that belongs to residents. He told Mom and Dad that on their radio board in the studio, they can see where people are listening from, and they see us often on there. It's been so long since I've heard Mom that happy, but when you finally get away from the Santa Clarita Valley for a time, your happiness explodes into outer space. She and Dad drove through the Strip later that evening, and she was taking pictures like she was a brand-new tourist. She told Meridith that they have a Checkers, just like the ones we had in Florida, and that the chocolate milk we like so much that we found at the Wal-Mart Supercenter here (I've forgotten the name right now, but it tasted a lot more natural and richer than what we've always had) is there in half-gallon containers. We've always gotten it in the pint bottles because that's all they've had.

The inspector that's supposed to assess how much the insurance company will pay for the car repairs still hasn't shown up, so there's a chance they may still be in Vegas until Monday if he or she doesn't appear today. Yet it gives Mom and Dad more time to explore, and they've got a decent rental, a blue Kia Soul. The last time we had one, in orange, when our PT Cruiser was being repaired by that lack of a mechanic next to Kmart, Dad liked driving it, and they found it at Enterprise, and the guy told Mom and Dad to have a look at it. They like it a lot better than the jeep's bastard child that they had driven the other day. And it's a lot cleaner.

Mom got teary over the phone last night, though, when she realized that had we boarded the dogs and Meridith and I had gone with them, we wouldn't have been home right now to take care of the birds (Mr. Chips and Gizmo) and their food might have run out. Because of this, we'll have to find someone to take care of the birds, too, when we're in Vegas next, just as a precaution. But other than that, she's been very happy, completely satisfied, and I would be as well if I was there, but better that she has it right now. She's needed that more than I do.

Yesterday was the busiest day for me, moreso than when I swept the entire patio. It started with vacuuming Mom and Dad's bedroom and bathroom, the hallway that connects my room and Meridith's room, and our bathroom. Both bathrooms here are carpeted, and I had intended to vacuum Mom and Dad's room, as Dad had asked, after we had put new litter in Mr. Chips and Gizmo's cages, but we had to get to that Ocean Nails Spa in enough time before it closed for the evening so Meridith could get her nails done.

After the vacuuming, my jackets and Meridith's jackets went in the laundry. Then all those were hung up (For about a year and a half now, maybe two years, they've established residency on the back of our chairs in the dining room. All of them), and bedsheets and pillowcases went into the laundry. We figured that Mom and Dad had clean bedsheets at Hawthorne Suites, so we should have some, too. It was funny when we were on the phone with Mom last night, and she said that we should do the linens, because she and Dad did not want to think about that when they got home. Meridith and I looked at each other, because that's exactly what we did, but our own, because we did not want to wash the linens from Mom and Dad's bed, being that their bed is a lot bigger than ours. But later, Meridith said that she'll help me put those linens back on. That's one of today's tasks.

But before the laundry, I swept the garage. I hate the dust and the particles in there that have built up all these years, but as another parental request, it had to be done. And I finally finished reading White House Diary by Jimmy Carter. I can't do much more research for my books with the books I've checked out from the library, being that I've got to return a majority of them this weekend, or at least what I can carry, since nothing else can be checked out from the Valencia library on Saturday, and everything has to go back by next Friday. I did learn of an "express library" that opened in Stevenson Ranch, that has shorter hours, a limited selection of books and DVDs, but they do allow you to pick up holds, so I could switch my County of Los Angeles library card to that branch. But we'll see what happens in the next few weeks, because I might not need that library card anymore. I could be applying for a Henderson library card in due time.

I don't mind returning these books. I have a three-volume biography of Richard Nixon that I bought, in fact, many books pertaining to the Nixon administration; one volume of a Bill Clinton biography; My Life, Bill Clinton's autobiography, books about post-presidential lives, one book entirely containing presidential anecdotes, and I'll have to see what else is in that stack of books. That'll suit me until we move.

Yesterday, I felt like I never stopped moving. That broom kept moving in the garage, and I used the happy-face dust pan to sweep up into a white garbage bag leaves and rock particles and lint. The jackets went into the laundry and were eventually hung up. The bedsheets and pillow cases went in, and I hopped about both sides of my bed, making sure those sheets were in tight. I finished White House Diary and I transcribed what I needed to into that Word file. Actually, by the time I began to transcribe from my notes, I was dead tired. I didn't think I could get through it, but I pushed myself and then finally went to bed at my usual time, between 11:05 and 11:20. When I woke up this morning, my clock confirmed that I had been more tired than usual. Wednesday morning, I woke up at 7:01. Yesterday morning, 7:05. This morning, 7:45.

Most important to me was that I felt my own sense of satisfaction. The chores that were done were part of it, but the majority was from also finishing Cornbread Nation 1: The Best of Southern Food Writing. I've moved on to Man with a Pan, an anthology of essays about men who cook for their families, including Stephen King. And after that, probably Cornbread Nation 2: The United States of Barbecue. I'll take it for now, but just like Mom being excited to meet Scott Gentry and to really see Las Vegas from a truly future resident's point of view, I can't wait to do the same, in combining my love for reading and writing with my love for Las Vegas. That will be life worth living.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Run of the House: Day 3

Dad told us part of the full story yesterday before he went for part two of his job interview at the charter school: It would be three to five days before the PT Cruiser is repaired, I'm guessing because the parts aren't as readily available, being that Chrysler doesn't make the car anymore.

Mom told us the rest of the story last night: AAA wanted to leave them at the side of the road to make their own way back after the PT Cruiser was towed. The tow truck driver did not agree, and drove them back to Fiesta Henderson. Neither did the woman at AAA, who said she would consult with her boss about that. We now have a contact at AAA there, and Meridith and I learned that the guidebooks you get from AAA are in a vending machine there. Inside, there's guidebooks for the states surrounding Nevada, and a large map of the United States.

It's been an eventful stay for them thus far. At Fiesta Henderson, Mom had to call downstairs again to get someone to fix the toilet and the showerhead. The former keeps running, and the latter drips for a long time after Dad gets out of the shower at night, and that makes it hard for Mom to sleep. But, there have been some decent things that have happened to them that have built up their faith that this trip has been worth it. For one, the second part of Dad's job interview went well. The kids were impressed, and so were the higher-ups. The highest higher-up at that school is going to speak to the head honcho at the school in Reno about Dad. It's going to take some more time, which means he won't be signing a contract while he's there. The school understands that because of our distance from Las Vegas in Santa Clarita, Dad can't go back for nothing, so hopefully the next phone call or e-mail from them after he gets back will be the one we've wanted for so long. The head of the school also introduced Dad to the other teachers at lunch and left him to talk to them and ask any questions he wanted.

The owner of the repair shop where the car is being fixed is from Paramus, New Jersey, just like Dad. He said to Mom and Dad that a lot of people living in Henderson are from the East. I like that, because we take our sensibilities from wherever we're from over on that side of the country, and we combine it with the day-to-day experiences of living in a true desert. The physical aspects of the desert, I mean, not emotional ones, because for me, Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City, they have everything I could possibly want. There's a writers' group in Henderson, there's the Henderson JCC, the Pinball Hall of Fame is fairly close by, and the libraries in Henderson and Boulder City are so accessible! I don't have to worry that my local library is going to cut itself off from one big system at the whim of a City Council and isolate itself as one tinier branch. Henderson operates on its own, separate from the Clark County system, but at least it has an incredible number of books, and five branches to boot, not just three, as it will be in Santa Clarita.

So we also have a contact at that repair shop whenever our car has any problems. And we have a contact at Hawthorne Suites in Henderson, which was spurred on by the Fiesta Henderson raising its rate for Mom and Dad's room after three days. They can't afford $110 a night, nor the $70 the manager said they could do. Having money for moving is optimal.

Hawthorn Suites is close to Fiesta Henderson, but has many more advantages that are necessary for Mom and Dad, and then for us. For one, you don't have to walk through a casino to get to your room. That's standard for hotels with casinos, especially on the Strip. I know. But for us, future residents, we need our room immediately after a long day of doing whatever will have to be done on the next trip. It has a complimentary breakfast buffet every morning, free local and long-distance calls, free Internet, a free gym, and crucial to us: Pets are allowed. Plus, there's washers and dryers there, and Mom said she's going to use a lot of quarters when they get there, because there's much laundry to be done after these three days. And each room has a microwave, refrigerator, a flat-screen TV, and a DVD player. We should just live there. No doubt we will until Mom and Dad have signed for wherever we live next. We hope it'll be that house in Boulder City.

After that half-hour conversation that lasted until 9:15 (I kept an eye on the clock because I still had to finish my work on the computer), Mom called after 10 and said that she and Dad were back from downstairs at the casino and hadn't won any big jackpots. I told her that the big jackpot for us would be Dad being hired at that school and us taking ownership of that house. That's all we need. She also told us that the manager at the car repair place said that he hopes to be done with the PT Cruiser by Saturday. They have a rental from Enterprise that Mom says is the dirtiest car she's ever seen. It looks like the bastard child of a jeep because the grille mimics the front of a jeep. It has Utah plates, so I had Meridith text them earlier in the evening: "How many wives does it hold?" After they check into Hawthorne Suites, they're going back to Enterprise to get another car.

For Meridith and I, it was a quiet day. She woke up a little after 10 because she had stayed up until 1 a.m. peeling glue from her fingers. I forgot what she had been gluing. It might have been more things in her scrapbook, but I didn't notice.

She spent most of the day folding her huge load of laundry, including four t-shirts I had slipped into the second load, to wear on the weekend. It took her a while because she had other things to do during it, like checking on Tigger, as well as a break for a snack. That load comprised 3/4 of her closet, and for most of the shirts, it had been a long time.

I hate seasons 5 and 6 of The West Wing with a passion. After Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme left the show at the end of season 4, it never got stable under the direction of executive producer John Wells. The characters were no longer how we always knew them, exhibiting traits that were completely foreign to who they were. However, I have found the season 5 episodes with John Goodman as the Acting President, and the episode of the funeral of a former president, and the episode about potential Supreme Court nominees (guest-starring Glenn Close and William Fichtner) fascinating, moreso lately the funeral episode because of my research, and the setting for that fictional presidential library looking exactly like the kind of presidential library I'd like to be at all the time.

I wanted to see The Stormy Present (the funeral episode) again, but didn't want to have to Netflix the third disc of season 5 again. And then I found an e-mail from Amazon touting a massive sale of Warner Bros. DVDs, which I took advantage of, paying $5.49 for Auntie Mame and about a dollar less for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, starring Angela Lansbury and George Hearn. I've never seen it, but it is Sondheim, and that's the automatic attraction.

Seasons of The West Wing were going for $15.99 and a little more up (The priciest are the sixth and seven seasons at $22.99 each), and I thought to myself, "Do I really need season 5, despite my vehement hatred?" No, I don't. I love seasons 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7 and that's all I need in my collection. But I wanted those particular episodes. Ah, Amazon Instant Video, how I love thee at $1.99 per episode. And that's exactly what I did, and spent most of my day watching those episodes, and certain scenes of The Stormy Present over and over again. I loathe some of the dialogue, I wish that Presidents Bartlet, Newman (James Cromwell) and Walken (Goodman) had more scenes together discussing the weight of the office, however temporary (in Walken's case), but I love the plot and the setting, as it also reminds me of watching Reagan's funeral on TV, and the history of that day.

Reading Cornbread Nation 1: The Best of Southern Food Writing while waiting for Meridith to get her nails done was truly one of the greatest pleasures I've had in Santa Clarita, and there are very few. It may very well be the greatest pleasure because of how peaceful it was. I didn't bring my watch with me, I didn't need to know what time it was, I just wanted to wade in the words that were in front of me. That's all I needed. I'm a simple soul. A good book is my big jackpot.

Dinner was an interesting experience. While sitting on that bench, reading, I had a notion about chicken breast and rice. Chicken breast whole on the plate with rice on the side? Then I thought about the chicken breast cut up and put on top of the rice. The catalyst for this was the bottle of Iron Chef Thai sweet pepper and garlic sauce that had been in the cabinet for months and was reaching its expiration date. Sounds good on chicken and rice, emphasis on "sounds."

Meridith made the dinner, but admitted that she had put in too much sauce after we kept getting major whiffs of heat and then hot, because of the seeds in the sauce. I didn't mind, since the chicken and rice were exactly as I had hoped, though it was brown rice. I don't mind brown rice, but I had thought about white rice, and we didn't have any. It was still good. Meridith struggled to get through the rest in her bowl and I told her not to force herself, to finish what she could and then dump the rest. And she did.

After the phone call from Mom, the rest of the evening was pretty nice. I had Tivo'd The Great Muppet Caper off of Showtime, and we watched some of that up until it was time for bed.

Today is a bigger day for Mom and Dad than it is for us. After checking into Hawthorne Suites and then getting another car from Enterprise, they've got the opportunity explore whatever they want, though I'm sure it'll be the washing machines and dryers at Hawthorne first. We're planning laundry here, too, jackets that haven't been washed in quite a while, and our bedsheets. We figure that since they get fresh sheets at Hawthorne, we should have clean sheets, too.

I still have to vacuum around the house, since Dad asked me to vacuum his and Mom's room after we put new litter in the birds' cages. We did that late yesterday, and all I had time for was to vacuum around the birds' cages since Meridith had to get to that nail salon (called "Ocean Nails Spa") before it closed. Better that she had some time there and didn't have to be rushed, so we left right after we were done.

I also still have to sweep the garage. I prefer sweeping the patio. At least I know what I'm sweeping there. But I'll do it. Mom and Dad asked before they left.

Oh, one more thing. Mom also told me last night that they got me a Las Vegas Weekly, exactly what I wanted and I'm psyched to read it. I also requested the Friday edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal since the weekend Neon section is in there and I want to finally spend some time reading a local paper, not the barely-two minutes I spend skimming through The Signal since there's never anything interesting to read in there. According to the Hawthorne Suites website, one of the amenities is a "daily complimentary newspaper." I hope that's the Review-Journal. It would save Dad a few coins. We'll definitely subscribe to it after we move here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Just a Bench, the Words, and the Wind

Reading is an even more heavenly pleasure when there's nothing technological surrounding you, when you have nothing to do.

Before she left with Dad for Las Vegas, Mom told Meridith to go to one of the two nail salons near our neighborhood and get her cuticles cleaned. Mom got her nails done at a salon at the Henderson Galleria mall.

Meridith chose the Ocean Nails Spa, near the Grand Panda Chinese restaurant, a Starbucks, and a Subway. I don't like the fumes in those places, so I took a bench at the far end of that chunk of commerce building (There's also a dentist's office, and a dry cleaners) and opened to where I had left off in Cornbread Nation 1: The Best of Southern Food Writing. I brought along some tape flags with me since I usually copy down titles and authors on a yellow legal notepad on a small clipboard, and I didn't want to bring all that with me.

There was only the sounds of traffic and a hydraulic hiss from inside the dry cleaners, what sounded like a "tee", and then a scant few seconds later, a "tah," and a noticeable cool wind which made me glad, after about 10 minutes, that I had brought my jacket. I looked up occasionally to see if Meridith had come out, but I was deep into reading about southern food and food culture. I was gone. Solid gone. I loved that I was in this one spot in the entire world, doing exactly what I wanted to do. That's all I needed.

The Run of the House: Day 2

Mom and Dad found a condo in Boulder City, and a comparison to living in Santa Clarita.

It turns out that there's more to Boulder City than just its main street area, which is small enough to truly be called a small town. There's no casinos, no bars, and it feels so relaxed, not faux-relaxed like big cities sometimes try to do with small spaces. It is genuinely quiet, with that peaceful feeling everywhere. The bowling alley, with four or five lanes, is only open for a few hours in the afternoon. There's the Historic Boulder Dam Hotel, which feels like the Dragonfly Inn on Gilmore Girls. Really.

And there's a museum on the second floor of the Boulder Dam Hotel called the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum that covers the history of the city and the dam, since they're both interconnected. Boulder City was begun by the federal government to house the workers building the Hoover Dam. The nearby Hacienda Hotel and Casino (outside city limits, naturally) has a small screening room where they run the government film about the Hoover Dam on a loop, and looking at the website for the museum reminded me that I want to see that film again, besides the actual Hoover Dam itself of course, more than we've seen in the past by just standing at the side. Especially the new bridge that goes over Hoover Dam, right into Arizona, into another time zone.

We knew all this about Boulder City (except for the museum. I don't think we went far enough into the building to find it, or maybe it was closed that day), but not about how far Boulder City stretched in housing, which is more than just the immediate area surrounding the town heart and joints and skeleton.

So, this condo. It's two floors, with relatively steep stairs, as Mom tells us. There's a game room, an office for Dad, and a balcony on the second floor, with enough room for me to claim it as my new reading and writing space. This Saugus apartment has been so small that I've had to use the left side of the couch in the living room and the arm of that side as my reading and writing space when I'm not using the computer for book writing or blog entries. I'm thinking of a small bookcase on that balcony.

It's three bedrooms, three-and-a-half bathrooms. Mom said that there's either one bedroom downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs, or two bedrooms downstairs and one bedroom upstairs. I'll get it right later.

The garage is a four-car garage, and there's a small room in the garage. Mom excitedly told us that the garage is bigger than our entire apartment. Well then, I'm ready right now! All I've got to do is see if I can get away with taking a few more books than I had intended. My 50-book collection is going, but as to the rest, only what I want to read so badly but haven't yet.

Dad had the job interview yesterday, and this morning at 10, they want him to come back and teach a lesson in Microsoft Word to 6th graders for 10 minutes. This is a big test for Dad, because for the past seven years, he's taught only 7th and 8th graders. But he can do it. Mom got him a proper shirt for the occasion from Kohl's at the Henderson Galleria mall. It was intended to be a Father's Day present, but Mom told us that Father's Day has been covered, since he didn't bring a shirt with him that would be appropriate for this. He didn't know that it was going to happen, so luckily he has Mom there.

They went to the house last night (I should say "condo", but considering how big it is, I'm calling it a house) and talked with the 89-year-old man who owns it, and is hard of hearing. He's selling it because his wife died not too long ago. She loved living in Las Vegas, and died four months after they moved to Boulder City. It's sad, but 89 years old, and however old his wife was, I attribute long living to Las Vegas. I feel happy about this great chance, nothing physically bothering me, and I know I'll flourish there.

Now here's where the comparison to living in Santa Clarita comes in: Mom and Dad left the house and not far out, the PT Cruiser started gushing coolant. We don't have a proper mechanic in Santa Clarita, certainly not the one Dad's used for all this time, and now realizes that he has to find a better one, who knows exactly what he or she is doing. Fortunately, the car started again, and since they were close enough, they went back to the house and asked the man if they could use his phone to call AAA. He agreed, and at the same time, his neighbor from across the street was making him dinner.

In Santa Clarita, no one would be that gracious to let you inside their house to use the phone. Here, you'd better be carrying your cell phone. And a neighbor making dinner for another neighbor? You mean, we have neighbors in this area? I thought those were just empty houses with lights that come on automatically at dusk and click off before midnight comes.

You will never find a neighbor making dinner for another neighbor like that, certainly not an elderly one. If they're old, there's the Santa Clarita Senior Center and a few senior living facilities around. Never will you find it like that here. And that kind, gentle act shows that we're finally moving to the right place.

So not only does Dad have the big teaching test this morning, but they're probably up right now to take the shuttle that Fiesta Henderson (where they're staying) provides to the nearest car rental facility, only a few blocks away. They'll tell me which one it is later. I keep thinking Hertz. I might be right. It sounds familiar.

(Addendum: I just talked to Mom. It's an Enterprise shuttle from Fiesta Henderson. We've used them before when the PT Cruiser has undergone repairs at that lack of a mechanic.)

This necessitates staying another night. With that test, and the car rental, and whatever else might transpire after the test, Mom doesn't want Dad driving back here today. We're fine. When we went food shopping on Friday and Saturday of last week, we made sure we got enough just in case this happened.

For Meridith and I, yesterday was quiet. Meridith cleaned out her closet, filled two bags with clothes she wants to donate to Goodwill, gave me a huge load and a half of laundry to put in the machine for her (I added to the second load the shirts I intend to wear this weekend), and then went to the other side of her room and began putting what she wanted to throw out into a black garbage bag and what she wanted to donate into a white garbage bag, which became three full white garbage bags. At the same time, she had 1220 AM on her radio, which is the "Hometown Station", as they call themselves, in Santa Clarita. Decent music in the afternoon, news often, and it kept up the quiet rhythm of her working in her room.

Meanwhile, I wandered between couch and computer. Right now is exactly how I started yesterday morning, with webcomics, with writing on my blog, with seeing if there's Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) of books on which interest me. Nothing lately. I'm hoping there'll be ARCs of It's Classified by Nicolle Wallace, the sequel to her "Eighteen Acres" some time soon. It's coming out in September, which means it should be available as an ARC soon enough, if one of the sellers of ARCs that I like picks it up. Recently, I snatched up Harold: The Boy Who Became Mark Twain by Hal Holbrook, and that's being published in September, too. I was hoping that I'd find It's Classified soon enough, and have it to read on one of our future road trips to Las Vegas. I've already got one book ready to go for that purpose called On the Volcano by James Nelson, the author of The Trouble with Gumballs, which I loved, and you can see how much I love it ( It's Nelson's first novel and holding it yesterday, it felt like I should read it on the way first to the Grewal Travel Center rest stop in Baker, and then to Las Vegas. I'm also thinking that the biography I have of Diamond Jim Brady by H. Paul Jeffers. And I've also got all of Tessa Hadley's novels and short stories (I became hooked on her writing after reading a short story of hers in an issue of The New Yorker), so it's going to be a lot less difficult to figure out what to bring with me to read on a road trip. I used to bring a 20-pound bag of books with me on those trips. No more. I've become more efficient.

The arm of the couch holds White House Diary by Jimmy Carter, which I still have to finish, Cornbread Nation 1: The Best of Southern Food Writing, Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times, a January/February 2011 issue of Saveur called "100: Chefs' Edition" in which chefs reveal their favorite things, foods, restaurants, ingredients, tips, etc. etc., and In Nevada: The Land, the People, God, and Chance by David Thomson. I still have the books I mentioned in a previous entry for that crash course ("The Final Library Holds"), and I might start on that today. There's still time. Not as much as years ago when the Valencia library was still fully connected to the County of Los Angeles system, but I'll make sure that I'll at least read The Sagebrush State: Nevada's History, Government, and Politics: Third Edition by Michael W. Bowers, to learn about the state's Constitution, and The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America 1947-2000 by Sally Denton and Roger Morris, which I've wanted to read so badly ever since Las Vegas became a possibility, but never found the space for it in my immediate reading list. It has that space now.

Meridith worked on her room with breaks for lunch and dinner. Yep, all day yesterday. I was assigned to take the full white bags to the living room and the black garbage bag to our garbage bin at the curb. That arrangement worked for me.

Mom's insistent that Meridith get her nails done, especially to get her cuticles fully cleaned out, and there's a nail place that's a short walk from us, so she might do that today. I think I'll go with her, not to sit inside with all those fumes, but just to take a walk. I'll bring a book with me and wait outside, since it's supposed to be relatively warm today at 73 degrees. As to what else, I don't know. Reading is obvious, and I'm happy that Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune are on tonight, since they were pre-empted last night for game 1 of the NBA Finals, which I'm not watching very closely.

For me, it's enough that I have this time, which may be all I get before the militaristic regimen of moving begins. We've still got more things to throw away, to donate, and I've got to figure out exactly what I want to bring with me and get rid of, which will likely involve a few more DVDs.

This is the first time I've felt at peace with this apartment. I don't feel like I'm fighting it, like I used to, and I'm ready to let it go, because I never felt anything for it in the first place. Let it go to someone or a few people who can give it more than I ever could.