Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kaitlin and Daniel do the West Coast: 25 May 2009.

Daniel showed up right when he said he would, before 8:30 am, and I took longer than I said I was going to because the files on my computer took way longer than I thought they would to back up, but we were stocked up with Henry's bulk bins goods and on the road by 9. What had begun as a mere thought during the last month of school had shifted into actual possibility by finals week and cemented itself that last Friday morning of school, when I checked the registration window one last time and discovered an empty spot in the class I had been trying to get into for a week. With Daniel's deft planning, we had an itinerary, places to stay, and a nice long drive ahead of us.

We started out in Daniel's family Mustang, and as we drove through LA we watched the spedometer flip over to 60,000. Good times.

Even though it was Memorial Day, the roads were clear for the most part. We sailed right on through Ventura.

We saw a beach just off the 101 and decided to stop, just because we could.

After we tried to take pictures of ourselves with the ocean in the background, Daniel said we should turn around and actually look at the scenery.

And what did we see as soon as we did? Dolphins!

I hadn't seen dolphins off the shore since my 19th birthday, when my family and I were visiting La Jolla. I was super excited as always; dolphins in the wild never get old.

We discovered that a portion of the 1 paralleled the 101 closer to the water, so we continued on it until it merged with the 101. Our next random stop was this bridge to seemingly nowhere; apparently it's called the Richfield Pier and is used for pumping oil. I discovered this just now as I googled it.

We were disappointed we couldn't walk out on it but amazed at the views we found.

Me snapping a picture of Daniel snapping a picture of me. There was just so much picture-taking going on throughout this trip.

As we attempted to get back onto the 101 after this stop, though, we were a little derailed. What we found out later was the catalytic converter stopped working. All we knew then was that the car suddenly sounded like a giant Harley-Davidson, but was still running fine. We pulled off into a neighborhood and as Daniel was checking under the hood, a guy walked by to see if he could help. "Were you guys hot-rodding?" he asked. Daniel assured him we were just trying to merge back on to the highway.

He called his dad, who insisted he would drive down and meet us halfway to exchange cars. We drove back the way we came, slightly deflated but so happy that we would be able to continue our trip. We gratefully met his dad in Pasadena, unloaded and reloaded quickly, and altered our plans to make up for the lost time.

Since we lost a couple of hours, we couldn't take the most scenic route 1. Instead, we hopped on the 5 and started making really good time. Once we passed Valencia, home of Six Flags, we were officially the furthest north in California that I had ever been. We stopped by Pyramid Lake for a quick rest and a view.

The bright side of switching to the Saturn was that I could drive, since it was automatic. Daniel was non-plussed at the route since he'd driven it so many times, but everything was new to me. I was super excited to drive the Grapevine of my favorite Death Cab for Cutie song, and even the random oil pump things were interesting. All the central agricultural land was fascinating in its neverendingness. The soil was a rich chocolate brown, something I, used to the dusky sandy desert, never imagined I'd see in the same state. For a change of scenery, we took the 46 from Lost Hills back to the 101 and continued up through Santa Cruz. We had sunlight until we reached Salinas, and made it to Daniel's cousin's in Santa Cruz just in time for bed.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lots of nice things to look at. And I'm not even talking about Shannon and me.

Shannon's taking intro to art at MSJC, so we went to the San Diego Museum of Art to fulfill her field trip requirement.

I was more than happy to be her bus driver/chaperone.

She had to do a write-up of what we saw, so we listened to a docent's presentation of "Quince, Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber" by Juan Sanchez Cotan to a group of kids.

Apparently, it's the second most notable piece in the museum, after a portrait by Giorgione, which we also spent some time with. Cotan's still life was hundreds of years ahead of its time; vegetables were a weird subject for a monk who was supposed to be painting crucifixions and madonnas. The angles of the shadows, the mathematical curve of the arrangement, the location of the depiction, just the purpose and meaning of the composition, are all mysteries.

The museum had a room that encouraged visitors to relax and create some art of their own. The soft orb seats were spectacular.

A famous self-portrait hung on the wall next to an exhortation for us to sketch ones of our own with the cute little mirror.

Here's my brilliant effort. It took me back to my late childhood-early adolescence, when I used to draw self-portraits constantly. I'm pretty sure there are periods of my life from which more drawings than photographs of myself exist. That I wasn't much to take a picture of probably has a lot to do with that. Drawings are a lot more flattering, especially when you do them yourself.

While Shannon drew, I took self-timed pictures of myself. There are a lot more of these; be glad few of them turned out.

Shannon's museum contribution.

We toured every gallery and "just had the best time," as my high school art history teacher used to say.

Since we still had some before we'd have to head up to Escondido to pick Mom up, we went next door to the botanical garden.

Shannon looked at this flower and said, "It looks like a flamingo!" I pointed to the sign and said, "That must be why it's called a flamingo flower." She took this picture (she likes to be credited with her photographic efforts; she took the masthead photo for the Driftwood site, though I didn't credit her with it).

There are a lot of these, too. I tried to pick out the cutest ones.

Aww, so pretty.

Really, there's nothing better than a warm late-spring day in San Diego and a trip to the art museum with a sister.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What I say to people who comment on my glasses:

"I hate them."
"Looking in the mirror is not as fun as it used to be."
"What I really want is a beaded chain to go with them. Then the librarian thing will be complete."
"It's ironic that to see the world better, I have to look so much worse."
"Thank you."

Saturday, May 9, 2009


I was thinking about why I have a compulsion (sadly left unfulfilled these days) to chronicle the miniscule events of my life. I want it all recorded, every passing thought, every pleasant moment, every little story arc that stretches itself into my life. And I thought about the lecture my Continental Authors professor gave us last week about existentialism. Existentialism, he said, asks the individual, what do you have when you get to the end of your life? The existential mandate is to live responsibly—all we have are memories, so it is vital that we accumulate good ones. Life is nothing more than a collection of experiences.

I was packing things that I won't need this week, like the stacks and stacks of journals that I compiled from age 10 onward. Why did I keep such a meticulous record of the mundane happenings of my life? There was the idea that I, as a nascent novelist, was doing research for the future, so that when I wanted to capture a 12-year-old or 14-year-old or whatever, I could just go back and see what I thought at that age (because hey, I was never going to be this age again, so I might as well take advantage of it). But I wonder if it wasn't also a vague intuition of this concept, that a compilation of memories would somehow prove that I had had a good life, that I had lived and that it was good.

And maybe I want to do that still. Who else cares about what I write? I write for myself. I have always written for myself. I like trying on philosophies; I have all these ideas floating around caught from all the classes and books and people; I want to settle on something eventually. I want to assume a community understanding of personhood, to know that I am who I am in relation to others, to realize that I think therefore I am is just not true. But I am just so ingrained in the individual, so naturally existential, born knowing that existence precedes essence, that I am alone in a chaotic and absurd world, that I have the choice, the choice is mine, that it is my responsibility to make meaning out of my life. I wonder if these narratives can be reconciled.