They say you always learn from your experiences. I was thinking about that while we were driving around Southern California this week. Here are some thoughts and lessons I took away from that time:
1. I think the time has passed where I can drive in the LA area. I can barely ride in So. California traffic any more without heart failure, unless I keep my eyes closed all the time. Someone expressed anger at my first entry last week, when I wrote about being stuck in traffic on the 405. The comment was that this is what happens when people refuse to use public transportation. No...this is what happens when the work area spans many, many miles and public transportation is so poor. Too many people have to rely on their cars to get from the valley to the ocean, essentially, where no public transportation goes. As for all that traffic darting in and out, freeways branching off to the left, when you expect them to go to the right and you are 4 lanes over on the right, and all the other problems of driving in LA -- which I used to handle with aplomb...I'm just too out of practice and not nearly as brave as I used to be.
2. If you have to meet a deadline anywhere in the LA area, allow an hour more than you think you will need--and bring a book in case, by some miracle, you actually get there early (you probably won't).
3. Sony takes itself entirely too seriously. This is not NASA and taking a picture of the top of a GATE from the outside doesn't rise to the level that the screaming at me would warrant.
4. If you are going to steal a bit of hash browns off of your husband's plate, don't take the bit that has an orangish dot on it. This is not a bit of potato crust. This is tobasco sauce and it will burn your friggin' tongue off!
5. If your tongue is burning from sneaking a bit of your husband's hash browns at the breakfast table, a spoonful of maple syrup will cool it. Seriously. Plan ahead and order pancakes. (Or just don't try to sneak a bite)
6. Expensive hotels are not worth the price, unless you are on expense account. Our Comfort Inn on Tuesday was (a) larger, (b) had free wi-fi and free parking, (c) came with all the toiletries and you didn't have to call down for them, and (d) its restaurant was Dennys, which, while not as fancy as the Hilton's, at least didn't charge $4.50 for a cup of coffee and the food came faster than it did at the Hilton. Also, the price per night was significantly less.
7. Texting with friends in another car or at the destination where you are headed is a fun way to pass the time when you are stuck in traffic. It's even more fun if you both have memorized lines to iconic movies.
8. Whoopie Goldberg is right -- pads are great for that unexpected spritz or a bit of leakage.
9. Dr. Hogly Wogly's Tyler Texas BBQ is much nicer than you would think from the name, the neighborhood and the look of the outside. (Get the brisket. It's amazing. And they have the very best homemade bread!)
10. Hotels, even fancy ones, no longer give you free stationery and free postcards, nor can you even buy them there. Bummer for people who are into snail mail.
11. Jeopardy audiences look remarkably normal ... not at all like Says You audiences, who are definitely nerds.
12. It is now confirmed that my presence at Cal games really does guarantee a loss. I haven't attended a Cal game in decades, but when I did, they usually lost. They were expected to win the game with UCLA, but I was there, and they lost. Gloriously. They played as well as Notre Dame did against USC.
13. If I ever do attend another Cal game, I must learn the chants, hand signals, growls, shouts and other things that apparently you're supposed to do while sitting in the stands. Must also get a Cal t-shirt.
14. It really is more fun being a grandparent than a parent.
15. Old friends are still the best, even when you disagree vehemently with each other's beliefs. You can manage to avoid all the hot button issues and enjoy tales of each other's parents, children, grandchildren, various internal organs, mutual friends, past shared adventures and travel experiences and be back in your respective cars before any touchy subject threatens to pop up.
16. It is OK to flush if the person in the bathroom stall next to you is talking on the telephone.
17. It's wonderful that we all now have DVRs which will help ensure that we don't miss any of our regular TV programs while we are gone, and it's nice to come home to a stack of letters and cards, but trying to catch up feels like real work!