I'm in San Diego at the Paradise Point Resort and Spa. I really love this place, despite the hassles and cost. It's crazy, hectic, filled with kids and ducks and I love it for that. I think the rooms are overpriced and most people wouldn't be too happy about spending this kind of money only to end up standing in a long check-in line, (we're talking amusement park ride or Hertz rental car length here), and then be told that the resort is overbooked, your room isn't ready, and you'll have to give them your cell phone number and wait in your car for them to call and let you know when you can finally get into your room.
I didn't mind that much because I got a great room at half price and I wanted to feed the ducks anyway. One of the first things I do when I get here is go to the gift shop and buy bags and bags of duck food. I bought about ten bags and went over to the lagoon, sat down, and started feeding ducks. There are always kids around who want to feed the ducks too, so the extra bags come in handy, and the little kids I gave extra bags of food to yesterday were so sweet and grateful.
I'm here because I dropped Beau off at his rock band camp yesterday. This is his first time going to a sleep-away camp and I was so happy for him that he's finally willing and able to take a risk like this, and at the same time I'm a little wistful about his growing up. The funny thing about yesterday was that I realized I must be in the minority of parents who would actually take comfort in the fact that the people running this camp all look like alternative minded rock folk -- comrades. As soon as I saw that the woman checking us in had purple hair and piercings, instead of a suit and pantyhose, I felt at ease. The next people we met, two of Beau's counselors, had the coolest looking tattoos. The guy had weird aliens and monsters all over his arms and legs in the best colors and we just had to stop to check them out -- they were so cool. He was happy because he said that most parents are a little afraid of his body art. The woman he was with had piercings and was rocking a mohawk. The next camp counselor we met was in the elevator, on the way to Beau's room. He jumped in to help us and was so nice. He was a white guy with the longest blonde dreads I have ever seen, real dreads, not the kind I get every year for Burning Man, and they were waist length in a ponytail. He must have been working on these his entire adult life -- cool guy too.
After I got Beau settled in his dorm we headed off to the orientation and I guess it should not have come as a surprise that Beau had certainly picked the right camp for him. No cabins and kayaks for him, nope, just a room full of kids who looked just like him; everyone in black with long messy hair or mohawks. We met a cute little gal from Sacramento who had arrived by limousine with a chauffeur, so we helped her out and took her with us to the orientation. She was soooo cute, African American, curly dark hair pulled up into a high, puffy ponytail, wearing a jean jacket covered with punky rock patches held on by safety pins, lugging a guitar and an amp just like Beau. She was so pretty she looked like a little doll, I liked her immediately and would have picked her up and hugged her if I could.
I stayed just long enough at the orientation to hear this, "We're not using the elevators any more because previous campers have messed with them and lost us the privilege, so you have to take the stairs. Now, last session we had some smart ass campers who thought it was a good idea to try to jump the stairs from one landing to the next. That isn't gonna happen this time around. Am I clear on this? My room backs up to the stairwell and I promise you I can hear everything that goes on in there. I know what it sounds like when you try to jump the stairs and I can be there before you can run away, and everyone I catch doing this is going to end up running sets of stairs. If you break a bone, if you sprain or break an ankle or a wrist, I swear I'm going to duct tape it back together, and that's not gonna feel too good. Don't jump the stairs! Got it?" I thought, "Woah, this isn't your usual camp pep talk." I leaned over to Beau and whispered, "Don't worry honey, if you break a bone here they won't just duct tape it together, they'll take you to the hospital," and he said, "I know Mom, they're just trying to scare us." Suddenly another cool looking counselor was standing beside us saying, "You really don't need to be here for this, you and Beau can finish getting his stuff out of the car and his counselor can fill him in on what he's missed."
I'm guessing most parents don't want to hear that their kids may end up with broken bones put back together with tape, and since I was the only parent there, someone might have thought this would be a good time to ask me to leave. Beau and I got the rest of his stuff and I told him to use his own instinct as a guide, that he had everything he needed to be safe, make the right decisions, and have a good time. We hugged and said we love each other and then I left and came here. I forget the name of the "mystery band" that will playing for the kids tonight, but they're pretty big and they're with Geffen. Each session they have a performance from an established, successful band followed by a Q&A session with the kids and I think this is really great. I just wish I could remember their name. Oh well, I'll fill you in later.
I'm so grateful that Beau is relatively easy compared to some of his friends. One in particular is having a really hard time now. He and his volatile, but well meaning and overstressed, Mother were calling us on my cellphone over and over again yesterday and it was particularly hard to field their calls, listening to their fighting and try to be helpful, while at the same time try to drive here and find the campus and Beau's dorm with the bad directions we'd been given. At one point I just finally had to hang up on them because I couldn't think and drive and listen to the screaming at the same time. Poor S. (I've used his name here before, but I want to protect his privacy), he's in so much trouble and is so unhappy. He's just fourteen but he's only one more troubled event away from being snatched up and put in juvenile detention. He's been caught skipping school, smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, smoking pot and tagging. He doesn't get along with his Mom, he doesn't listen to her or do the things she asks, and then that makes her come down harder on him, and the angrier and stricter she gets, the more he wants to retreat by smoking pot, or run away to friends houses where he is not allowed to be. We seem to be one of the few families she will allow her son to go to because Beau and I don't smoke pot or let S. go wild.
I just finished watching Hell's Kitchen. Just as the climax of the show was about to take place I started hearing these loud explosions echoing off of the buildings across the bay -- KABOOM...kaboom...KABOOM...kaboom. It sounded like fireworks. I love fireworks, so I waited for a commercial and ran outside. I'm right on the beach and I could see that all of the people who have been hanging around in front of my bungalow all afternoon were standing a little ways away from their fire pit looking east towards Sea World, so I looked up and caught the end of Sea World's nightly firework display; green, red, blue and yellow, lighting up the foggy night sky, so pretty, and what a nice treat.
Earlier I went into PB, the local beach town, went to the bank and did a little marketing. The hotel, or the friendly front desk manager of the hotel, gave me a free extra night here, so I'm staying for the night. I'll head back home late tomorrow. Their Internet service has been down for a couple of days so I probably won't be able to post this until tomorrow night, although I'll try again tomorrow morning.
As always, I've been having fun feeding the ducks and the seagulls here. There are three ducks who've figured me for a duck feeding sucker and come waddling over to my bungalow every time I open the door. They're soooo adorable. I sit down on my porch, or on the lawn nearby, and bliss out on interacting with them. At one point I had to go back inside to get more food and I heard this loud ducky commotion going on outside. It sounded like someone was attacking my duck friends so I ran back outside to see what was going on and found that an aggressive white male duck had just flown in for a quickie and was standing on top of the lightest brown duck pecking at her neck and flapping his wings. When he saw me standing in the doorway he flew off just as fast as he'd come, leaving poor Miss Duck looking kind of surprised and overwhelmed. She shook herself off, looked over at me, and then fluffed up her feathers and started grooming herself. Her frightened friends, (a bigger duck and a smaller duck with shiny green feathers on their heads and white rings around their necks), who'd run for the bushes to avoid being mounted by the big white guy, came back out shyly quacking at her and wiggling their tails. Thank God sex isn't like this for us. But I guess this is how all of these little baby ducks get made around here : )
Later, I took some of my leftovers out to the beach to feed the seagulls. There was one in particular who I wanted to get some food to. He, (he felt like a he to me), was missing his foot and part of one leg and was having trouble balancing, poor guy. I just wanted to scoop him up and take care of him, but there was no way that was going to happen, so I just sat on the little wall by my bungalow tossing food towards him, patiently waiting, hoping he'd work up the nerve to fly on over and check it out. He would think about it, then hop a little closer, stop, watch me, and think about it some more. I could have left but then the other more aggressive seagulls would have swooped in and grabbed the food so I waited and he'd hop a little closer. He kept working his one stubby leg, flexing and moving what was left of it up and down for balance, and this made me feel so sorry for him. Then just as I thought he was going to trust me enough to come over for some food, this girl and her mother started walking towards us. I just assumed they'd see what I was doing and try not to scare the birds, but instead, the daughter broke away from her mother and ran straight for my bird, careening her arms in great big circles to scare him, and of course he flew away.
Ohhh I so wanted to yell at her. I wanted to say, "Hey, YOU, stupid, insensitive girl. Can't you see I've been sitting here for a half hour trying to win the trust of this poor, one-legged bird so that I could get some food to him? Didn't you even notice that he was trying to stand on one leg? Didn't your parents teach you that all living creatures have feelings and deserve respect?" But I know that she didn't know any better, that she was just doing what a lot of kids do, enjoying her power -- the cause and affect of chasing the birds -- and that it was her Mother's, and all the other Mother's and Father's, (who don't bother to teach kids not to chase birds and step on snails), fault. And if that makes me seem like an oversensitive hippie chick, well, then, good. I just want to create a kinder world where other creature's lives -- their comfort, their health, and their suffering matter to us.
Speaking of snails, when I went out to give these fruit bars I didn't want to my three favorite duck pals, (I try to give them only healthy things, and these were fruit sweetened grain and dried fruit bars, I hope that's okay to give them), I noticed a small snail blocking my path. She'd come over to eat some of the corn chip crumbs the ducks had left behind. Have you ever taken the time to really look at a snail? They're not yucky or slimy or scary or whatever it is that people think about them. They're wonderful, the way they move their antennae, stretching and reaching them out before moving ahead, is so unique and cool. How can people not appreciate this? I even like to put my finger in front of them and watch them recoil at first and then eventually try to kind of chew/bite me. It doesn't hurt, but you can actually feel the muscles in their snaily little mouths trying to bite down. I like it. If you leave a piece of black construction paper out at night, near an area where you know there are snails, they'll leave pretty sparkly trails on the paper, which is a fun thing to let a child discover in the morning.
On a more upbeat note, it's been fun just sitting on my porch looking out at the bay. I've been watching water-skiers, a mini fleet of blue sail boats, outrigger teams practicing, a happy guy with a speed boat who drove back and forth in front of us a few times blasting his music and giving everyone the Hawaiian shaka bra sign. Tonight I enjoyed watching a white, two story, paddle boat with strings of white lights draped all around it's rails, slowly paddling around the bay.
I'm beat, I think I'll check and see if the Internet is back up, and then head for bed.
Big hugs from your friend,
PS: Howie -- San Diego makes me think of you.