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.