Monday, April 19, 2010

I've been mixing it up these past few days, playing poker, studying hands and strategies on pokerxfactor and SitnGo Strategies, and also revising my query and reading three books for my upcoming writing workshop in May.

I'm about a third into Cuckoo's Nest right now. I've never read it. McMurphy's dialogue is so electrifying. I'm really enjoying it. I hadn't read Gatsby in many years, but it sure holds up nicely. I can see why it's considered one of the best novels every written. I've always loved it and still do. Miss Lonelyhearts is certainly fun to read and funny in parts, but it doesn't hold my interest as well. It's just too much, too cynical and emotionally distanced.

I'm hoping to accomplish a lot this week. Lots of reading and prepping for my writing class in May. Preparation is the key to everything. The weather is finally consistently nice, though I heard there's another rain storm coming. I'm so done with the rain.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Arends Arrive during Spring Break

I was a tourist in my own neighborhood this past week. The Arends from Olympia spent their Spring Break in the Bay Area, and for five days we lived up to our own hype as travel/game/eating maniacs.

Who knew there was a limit to the number of Oreos an adult can eat within a 48-hour period. I reached my Oreo threshold Wednesday night when the thought of eating another one made my head spin.

Our Bay Area adventure began Sunday afternoon when the Arends traveled through blizzard conditions to reach Oakland.

It was a long drive and the natives were getting restless.

It was raining and Zachery's Pizza was closed, so we camped out at Erie St., ordered Yang Chow and played an afternoon and evening of games: Set, Ten Days in Asia, Guesstures, and Wits & Wagers. Emily is the Ten Days in Asia master, and my mission was very simple: beat Emily.

Easier said than done, considering how badly she destroyed me last August when she first introduced me to the game. I think I won one game out of ten, so to adequately prepare, I bought my own Ten Days board game and studied it like a college geography course. I dug deep and used all of my game-playing abilities.

We played two games on Sunday while watching Iron Chef, and that's when I discovered that Emily plays the game using a very imaginative set of rules. So we played two versions of Ten Days, the actual rules and Emily's rules. I beat her twice using the actual rules, but didn't win a game using Emily's rules. On the Guesstures front, the boys demonstrated their dominance of the game with a five-point victory over the girls. Thomas was our anchor, and he rocked. Amanda handily won the second game of Wits & Wagers, after which we called it a night. All of us practiced Set. Emily is a natural at the game.

Monday began with smoothies,

followed quickly by a trip to Arizmendi.

We then visited the Chapel of the Chimes where my book takes place.

Thomas found the place amazing.

And it is!

We had lunch in Piedmont,

then drove to Berkeley and walked around the UC Campus.

It turned out to be a very nice day. We were worried our baseball game would rain out, but the skies stayed clear and we watched the Mariners beat the As in the season opener, 5-3.

Tuesday was bridge day. We took the Bay Bridge into San Francisco, played arcade games at the Musee Mechanique,

ate In-n-Out burgers for lunch,

walked the Golden Gate Bridge,

drove back to Oakland via the Richmond Bridge, hung out at Starbuck's where I had my first double chocolate chip frapuccino (which was delicious),

then had dinner and played games at the Youngs.

Wednesday was our busy tourist day. We started our day at 7, took BART into San Francisco,

caught the F line to Pier 33 and boarded a boat for Alcatraz.

We toured the prison for three hours, then had lunch at Pier 39.

After lunch, we took a cable car to Powell Street,

walked to Grant St. and Chinatown,

then had dinner at House of Nanking.

I hadn't been to Nanking in years, but the food was just as fantastic as I'd remembered. We took BART back home

and crashed on the couch (at least I crashed),

sleeping through Fantastic Mr. Fox and playing a few more games of Kahuna with Emily.

The next day we headed back to Arizmendi before the Arends left the Bay Area for home. What a fantastic Spring Break!