The Worst Part About California

Don’t believe anything the tourist ads, or the hipsters with their million dollar trust funds, tell you. California has a lot of downsides.

Sure, the weather is typically pretty nice; although, there are even some bad parts to that. For one, you no longer have much change to the seasons, which is sort of depressing. There is something very beautiful about the fall of leaves; about the first snowfall; and, about the beginning of spring and of summer. You don’t get that in California. But it also rains a lot here during the winter, and California is entirely ill-prepared for it. We don’t have proper drainage, no matter how many floods there are. Despite all the landslides of mud and water, which kill people every year, we do nothing to put up proper drainage walls. And don’t get me started on the lack of fire protection.

The bad things about California go well beyond that, though. There’s the cost of living, which is exponentially higher than most of the country. The $27 cake at Whole Foods down the street from our apartment is only $8 at the Whole Foods just outside Chicago. Our electric bills are higher. Our water bills are through the roof (despite the fact that we live right along a body of water). And our rents are almost double what they would be in other, equally as nice, areas of the country.

The hipsters are overruling California, making the environment a terribly narcissistic and pretentious place to live. Every weekend there are local, hippy fests wreaking havoc on traffic and the peace and quiet some of us enjoy – crappy music festivals, art walks where people sell paintings of local scenery, farmer’s markets with absolutely no health standards at all. The last time we went to the farmer’s market, I bought strawberries and the guy put down his macaroni salad and licked his fingers, then grabbed my bushel of strawberries and got macaroni and mayonnaise all over the bag.

Then there is the overwhelming hillbilly population, leftover from all the Okies that came over during the Great Depression to pick fruit. They have racetracks in almost every city it seems. Every county has a fair, and it isn’t a classy fair; it’s an “eat fried butter and wrestle with pigs” kind of event. The streets are lined with trucks covered in mud from their most recent four-bying excursion. Guns are big. Overalls are big. Beating you wife is huge.

Everyone is trying to break into the film industry, which is an awful industry (to say the least). It uses people for everything it can, and then spits them out quicker than you can say “this was a mistake.” The people that actually keep a job for a while are expected to sacrifice everything. My husband is one of them, who sacrifices lunch breaks, weekends with his family, and night after night after night of just a little bit of quality time to satisfy his bosses. He doesn’t even know how many personal days he gets every year, it’s been so long since he took them. And when confronted with the low wages and high demands, the only response is: “most people in the film industry don’t have families.”

The lifestyle in California – even if you are not in the film industry – is so ridiculously fast-paced and high stress, everyone is always rushing. Everyone is always on the go. No one has time to be nice, or to say “hello” to a stranger. That’s considered rude. People cut you off, flip you off, and feel entitled to take your place in line because they are in a hurry. At the grocery store the other day, a woman cut in line in front of us at the deli because she said her daughter was waiting for her. Really bitch? The grocery workers just let it happen, because in California it isn’t what is fair or what is common courtesy, it’s who has the biggest voice.

It isn’t just all this, though, that is the worst part about California. And there are other miscellaneous nuances that make the place miserable. The traffic. The cost of doing anything besides breathe. The horrible public transportation. The jobs. The education. The public schools. The corrupt politicians. The union stranglehold. The homeless. The way people treat the homeless. The beaches with warnings that hypodermic needles could be buried in the sand.

All this and more is not, and never will be, the worst part about California.

No, faihtful blog followers. No there is a much different thing that is the worst part about California. None of this will ever top it, either. “What in God’s name could be so awful, so heinous, to top all of that?” I’m sure you are asking yourself.

Simple answer: the ghetto trash.

Yesterday I went to pick up some soup, because we’re all sick and I wanted something spicy to clear out my sinuses. I parked my car, went in to get my soup, and came out to find that a car had been parked next to mine, and it was completely blocking me from getting into my car.

The drivers of said car were standing outside of it, two of them making out and one of them smoking a cigarette. Clearly a gang bang was about to happen.

For a brief second I thought about trying to squeeze in, but when I saw that their mirror had been smashed down by my driver’s side door, I decided to just politely ask them to move the car.

I was very nice. They were kids – clearly teenagers, driving their parent’s car. I was very, very nice.

“Is this your car?”

The girl making out put her gum back into her mouth, looked me up and down and said “yeah, what’s it to you?”

Really?

“Ok, well I can’t get into my car without scratching up yours … do you think you could move your car just a little?”

The guy smoking said “sure, sorry about that ma’am.” Then the girl piped up again, “you don’t have to be such a bitch about it.”

The guy had already moved his car by then. I got in my car and drove off.

This is the worst part of California. It’s the medical assistant who acts like you’ve morally offended her because you called to schedule an appointment with your doctor. It’s the cashier at Starbucks who gives you attitude because you point out that she gave you the wrong change. It’s the waitress that acts like she’s doing you a favor to let you pay to eat in her establishment. It’s the girls in the bathroom at Target that tell you you’d better “watch your back” wearing clothing that people don’t like. It’s the trashy kids sitting on cars in the parking lot, making out and dressing like total skanks. It’s the people that are constantly on guard, totally abrassive, and ready to call people out for something they have not even done.

California is filled with it. It’s in even the nicest of communities – which ours is fabled to be. This ghetto trash, these bottom-feeders, are what make California intolerable. Because while the weather issues are annoying, the cost of living sucks, and the hipsters and film industry get under your skin, they don’t get in your face like ghetto trash does.

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My Threesome With Pancho and Jesus; or, the Most Humiliating Day of My Life

I couldn’t decide what to title this blog post. I already wrote one early this morning, but then I experienced perhaps the most humiliating and simultaneously hilarious day of my entire life. Mostly humiliating.

Think about the most humiliating thing that has ever happened to you. Maybe on your wedding day a bird flew over and laid waste to the back of your dress. Or you were gossiping about a family member, only for your preschooler to repeat every word of it at the Christmas dinnertable. Think hard. We’re talking most humiliating here.

Now read on and you will no longer feel shame. For this morning, I had something of a threesome with my hotel’s maintenance men: Pancho and Jesus.

5:00 am I post a blog about how I can’t sleep and am ready to head back home from my mental health retreat to Solvang, CA – the faux Danish town nestled in the middle of California’s wine country. I’m awake because around 3 o’clock I woke up from a party going on in the room above mine, only to look outside and see a sea of Modello and Bud Light beer cans in the parking lot, with someone looking for his keys in the midst of them. While I had a great time the last few days eating, drinking, shopping, and relaxing, this marked the point when I was ready to leave.

5:30 am I debate for a few minutes with myself: get up and just get ready to go? Or go back to sleep? My eyes get droopy and I go back to sleep.

9:30 am I wake up. I stumble around to get all of my things together. My shopping bags, backpack, purse, and suitcase are by the door. All that’s left out are my makeup bag and clothes, sitting on the bed.

9:40 am I disrobe and throw my dirty pajamas into the suitcase too. I’m so groggy and ready to go home at this point I just want to leave so think about skipping a shower until I get back. I have a few hours of driving, though, so decide to shower to help wake me up. And, as I mentioned a few days ago, Aunt Flo’s in town (this will be important in a minute). I realize while heading to the bathroom that all I ever do is debate with myself about what to do.

9:42 am I set my clothes on the counter in the bathroom and pee. Very little pee, very little paper (this will also be important in a moment, only if you wish to assess blame).

9:42 and 30 seconds am I flush the toilet and hop in the shower. I start to wash my hair.

9:43 am I’m washing my hair. Washing, washing. Thinking about the things I want to add to my list of things to do before I am no longer kidless and fancy free on Monday. Washing a little more.

9:45 am I start to rinse my hair and think I hear a door slam open. ‘Must be someone upstairs’ I think to myself and then a guy in a maintenance uniform comes running into the bathroom. I scream.

9:46 am I’m still in the shower and the maintenance man takes the top off the toilet and shoves his hand in. He apologizes and explains that my toilet is flooding the hotel room, which was noticed by the maid outside the hotel room door. I peek out the curtain of the shower and see there is water now rising on the bathroom floor too.

9:47 am Pancho officially introduces himself and says to stay put while he gets the valve closed. The shower is still going. There is nothing but a thin, vinyl shower curtain between Pancho and me. I quickly debate with myself over what I should do and decide Pancho knows best. So I stay and decide while there I may as well finish my shower.

9:48 am I shave my arm pits. Pancho is calling for back up: the other maintenance guy, Jesus.

9:50 am I grab my loofa and body wash, and wash. Pancho is still on the other side of the vinyl shower curtain. Jesus is now standing just outside the bathroom door and I can hear him shouting as water continues to pour out of the walls, the toilet, and in from the hotel room.

9:52 am “Pancho? I’d really like to turn off the water and cover myself with a towel now.” Here’s where shit gets real. Pancho says “OK” and I turn off the water. He still has one hand in the toilet tank. His other hand grabs a towel and hands it through the open space between the vinyl shower curtain and the shower wall.

9:53 am Jesus yells to Pancho that he got the water shut off. Pancho stands up and says I should get out of the shower. I open the shower curtain. Pancho and Jesus look down and help me step out of the tub and into about four inches of water.

9:55 am Pancho and Jesus have taken all of my things out of the room, except for my clothes and my makeup bag. They say they will leave so I can get dressed in the only dry corner of the room. Jesus notices my things on the counter in bathroom, so slushes through the water to get them for me. Remember how I said Aunt Flo was in town? I hear Jesus in the bathroom say “oh boy” and then he shouts to me “Ma’am are you OK with me carrying your garments and lady products to you?”

 

9:55 and 30 seconds am “Sure, why not … there doesn’t seem to be anything between the three of us at this point” I say and we all laugh.

9:56 am Pancho and Jesus leave the room and I get dressed. Fortunately, in the dry area of the room there is a mirror, so after they come back in to begin cleaning up the mess and repairing the toilet, I use the mirror to put on my makeup and brush my hair.

10:05 am I ask Pancho and Jesus if they’d mind if I took a few photographs so people would believe me when I tell them the story. They nod, laugh some more, and keep working. I snap photos.

10:10 am Pancho and Jesus have left the room to get their remaining equipment, or leave the mess for someone else, or something. I load my car and drive to the front of the hotel to check out, half expecting a bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates, and a note that reads “had an early meeting, but thanks for the good times.” There are no flowers or chocolates, and I wonder if I am the one who should leave behind the “thank you.”

10:30 am I get some breakfast at the restaurant next to the hotel to try and recover my dignity before embarking on my drive. There is a maintenance man in the restaurant eating too and I wonder if Pablo and Jesus know him and have told him about our threesome. When I finish eating I pay the bill and hit the road.

Now I am home and have taken another shower. No maintenance men burst in this time.

So did that make you faithful blog followers feel a little better about your own humiliating experiences? Like one of my friends said this morning when I (of course) immediately posted it on my Facebook page, this could only happen to me.

And I bet right now you are all thinking one of two things: either you want to know more details about where I was staying so that you too can have such an experience. Or you want to share this, but are hemming and hawing about it in an effort to spare the last remaining shred of dignity I may or may not have. Well don’t you worry, there is no dignity left (that was left behind in Solvang). And quite frankly the more I tell people this story to, the less weird I feel about Pancho and Jesus. Should I call? Will they call? What will my husband think?

So share away. And tell me your most humiliating experience too in the comments. I may have come home still feeling in a funk and pretty depressed. But at least I can laugh again.

Did Somebody Say “Get Me Away From These Douchey Danes!”?

Let me start by refreshing everyone’s memory:

My husband freaked out a little bit because I was sitting around crying being so kidless and fancy free, the Pookies being gone for this 12 day trip away from me. For the record, I was not crying because I had free time, but rather I realized how much of a grave mistake it was to allow such a trip to happen. I wasn’t ready for it. Neither was anybody else it would seem, for when I finally was given the dignity of some contact yesterday, I learned that the cell phone has – in fact – been uncharged and off for the whole week, the allergy medicine has been ignored, and teeth have not even been brushed. I’m also pretty down in the funks because I have been wanting to move home to Chicago for about 7 years now to be closer to my family and it’s just not happening, although that is another story altogether. In any event, I was a little loose around the edges, so Poor Nick did what any husband would do: he sent me away.

I’m going home today, and you’ll all see that it’s about 5 o’clock in the morning, and I’m up: blogging and listening to Tom Jones. You’d think that is a sign that this little mental health retreat isn’t working, when really it’s that the people staying upstairs were having a party. Around 3 o’clock I woke up to the sound of people wading through beer cans outside in the parking lot: yes, you heard what I said. There were about 50 Modelo and Bud Light cans strewn in the parking lot and someone was wading through them, looking for his keys.

Classy establishment, hubs.

In any event, I think I’m ready to head home. I realized that, while Solvang is the place for a mental health retreat, it’s also the place for overindulgence, douchey yuppies, and losing all your money to tourism and more tourism.

Last night my wine walk got cut short

I decided yesterday to do the Wednesday Wine Walk that the local-yolcals host to try and inspire business. For $20 you get a glass, a map, and five tickets for wine tasting at the participating wineries. Each ticket gets you two tastes.

I got through two places that were on the list, plus one next door that I had to pay separate for. All of them had (for the most part) the shittiest wine I have ever tasted in my life, coupled with a crowd full of douche bags and dogs walking around sniffing people’s assholes. When I got to the fourth, the fifth, and the sixth, I learned that the wine tasting event was being hosted by wine tasting rooms that did not even intend on being open until said event was over.

That’s right. I bought tickets that said “good for tasting until 7” and the last three places participating closed at 6. The most egregious was that the one I bought my tickets at earlier in the day was one of them.

Just yesterday I was thinking to myself that these people drink a lot. I mean, a lot. I know that in Europe people drink a lot more, but I’m really a “glass a day is good for me” kind of gal. Possibly they keep the alcoholism under control by never fulfilling what they actually sell.

So I went to get some dinner instead, and was too tired to cruise all the way to Santa Ynez as my plan was, so I just decided on this local brewery/restaurant that seemed pretty popular since people were crowded all around and inside it.

And then I realized something else.

All of the food here tastes like a fucking pancake

And I don’t mean a good pancake. I just mean some weird, fucked up pancake that is like the cross between powdered sugar and my Trailer Trash Mom’s asshole. Some of the food I had was good, like the ham and cheese croissant I had for breakfast yesterday, and the turkey sandwich I had the first night into town. But for the most part, everything tasted like that shitty pancake.

There are some things that should not have shitty pancake flavor. The chicken and mashed potatoes I had for dinner at that supposedly good brewery/restaurant is one thing that should not have tasted like shitty pancake, yet did. The salad I had for lunch yesterday too … probably shouldn’t have tasted like pancake. And that was like a spicy pancake, which just boggles my mind to even think about right now. At the time I was eating it I thought it was good, but then two hours later – as the taste of spicy pancake lingered in my mouth – I realized that something was wrong with that shit.

Everyone here thinks they are actually living in Denmark

I’m all for upholding your family heritage and everything, but for Christ’s fucking sakes people!

* Wearing those ridiculous Danish Maid costumes when it’s 100 fucking degrees outside just makes me hot.

* Slapping a Norwegian flag on everything from t-shirts to iPad cases does not justify marking up the price 190%.

* Speaking in Danish when you say you grew up in fucking Orange County is not authentic. Ever skede lederhosen your ass back to Anaheim!

So yeah, I’m about over this place. I’m ready to go home and return to my carefully crafted life of laundry, dishes, cleaning house, homeschooling, and wiping asses (literally, figuratively … you decide). Before the return of the Pookies on Monday, I have a few more things to catch up on anyway. As I sit here, with pancake taste in my mouth, shitty wine burning my gut, and every drunken wanna-be Dane outside wading through piles of aluminum beer can trash, I realize that depressed or not, in a funk or otherwise, it’s about time I ever skede lederhosen my own ass back to Camarillo.

Did Somebody Say Aebleskiver Asylum?

Okay, I didn’t really have any aebleskivers; yet, of course. And I’m not in an asylum. But yesterday I started off my three day tour of this strange Danish town by sharing with everyone the story of how my husband sent me to Solvang, CA, on a little bit of a “mental health retreat” since I’m Pookie-less and in a bit of a funk these days.

Yesterday we established that if you have a case of the funks, Solvang can provide a fix through: (1) the eating and drinking; (2) weird, bizarro-shit; and (3) shopping.

Today the trip continued into this faux Danish town and all it’s glories.

#4 If the fix for a case of the funks is shopping (which we all know it is, and already established Solvang is good for), Solvang is the place for it.

I won’t go into the entire list of things that I purchased; although, I will say this: the majority of it was not for me. It was for my family. I got food, I got souvenirs, I got rosemary olive oil that may as well be gold for what it cost. And while just about everything in Solvang is overpriced, I am happy to say I found some pretty good deals regardless.

The one thing I got for myself that I must discuss at length, though, is something that I never thought I would find up here: a zebra-printed apron. I almost screamed in the middle of the shop when I saw it.

#5 If the fix for a case of the funks is bizarro tourism crap, Solvang is the place for it.

I originally planned on hitting up the miniature pony farm to see the cute 34 inch ponies, but that got scratched after 15 minutes of driving around looking for it to no avail. Instead, I returned to the downtown area of Solvang and went to the Hans Christian Andersen museum.

The museum, itself, was a little drab. It’s a little larger than a room and has a bunch of old copies of the guy’s books, plus a doll house and a head bust of Andersen, himself. Below the museum, though, is the Book Loft – which had tons of amazing books I spent about an hour looking through. I could have spent more, but I was getting hungry.

Later in the day, I went to the Old Mission Santa Inez. The mission nearby where we live sits on a busy street, and is always noisy. There is a garden in the center of it, but “peaceful” is never something I envision it to be. Old Mission Santa Inez on the other hand, is a quiet gem nestled above rolling hills and vineyards. There is an awesome outdoors Stations of the Cross installation; and there are benches that you can sit on to just relax.

Clearly this mental health thing is working, because while I was sitting in the quiet outside the mission, I realized that this is the first time of true quiet I’ve had since my vacation almost six months ago, to Chicago. What is wrong with that picture? Everyone’s lives are busy. When you have kids, there is always noise (except when the kids are in bed). But I think in our house, we go beyond that. Something is always on – be it a radio, a cd player, a computer, or a TV. We never just sit and enjoy the quiet together.

This has got to change or I will for sure be admitted to Aebleskiver Asylum, and for longer than just a few days.

#6 If the fix for a case of the funks is gambling away all your life’s savings, then Solvang is the place for it.

I didn’t actually gamble away all our life’s savings. I only gambled thirty bucks. And I lost it all.

There is an Indian Casino just a few miles North of Solvang, and I’m familiar with it because my mother used to come up here all the time to gamble in the middle of the night with her boyfriend; and also because on my birthday this year I came up and won about 300 dollars on Keno.

No such luck this time. At 30 I gave up. During the day, the place is also filled with tons of old people smoking cigarettes, so 30 minutes and 30 bucks was about it for me.

So now I’m heading out again – for some more of #1 (the eating and the drinking). The credit cards are going to have to rest now, and my liver will pick up the slack. On the third Wednesday of the month, Solvang has a Wine Walk – $20 for a glass and 5 tasting room tickets. After the Wine Walk I’m going to venture up to Santa Ynez (the town) to eat dinner. Much like Solvang, Santa Ynez has it’s own theme – only rather than Danish, it’s the Old West. Who knew in the middle of wine country you could find so much weirdness?