Ifly … skydiving for those of us who are scared of heights!

Ifly away...

After a day at Universal Studios we decided to try our hand at Ifly at CityWalk … essentially a jet engine or some other generator of wind blows from the bottom of a large glass funnel, strong enough to hold you off the ground.  It was about $228 for 4 people to take 2 trips each, plus DVD of the experience, and required a 30-minute wait and 4 minutes of instruction, then getting dressed in skydiving jumpsuit, goggles, earplugs and helmet.  It was a blast — my kids thought it was the favorite part of the entire day.  I would never, ever skydive — way too afraid of heights — so this was a nice compromise.  The first “trip” you experiment with the right body position — lay horizontally, with your arms like a goalpost at eye level and legs slightly bent, chin up, so you are slightly bowed.  The second trip, assuming you’ve learned generally how to do it, the instructor (who is with you the entire time inside the tunnel) grabs hold of you by part of your jumpsuit and they up the air power and up you go!  I’d say you go 15 feet high or so, and then turn in circles and sometimes dip down to the ground and then back up — that is a blast.  Then because that second trip with the instructor taking you up is so much fun, the kids and Jack decided to pay an extra $20 each for a third time in the wind tunnel.  That time is more like the first — they didn’t get to go as high, and the instructor didn’t grab them, but it was still fun.  The guy operating the wind machine is taking pictures during the flight, and you can buy those at $4 each afterwards.

Here is the link to their website  for all the scoop — Indoor Skydiving / Vertical Wind Tunnel – iFLY SF Bay

Not sure why the helmets, doesn’t seem the least bit dangerous to me.  And it was fun … kind of comes under the category of what will they think of next, as I would never have thought I’d be suspended by gusts of air in a glass funnel while crowds of people stood and watched.

We celebrated our successful flights with dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant at CityWalk, and the pizza and wine were both excellent.  Then, headed to Santa Monica for a night at Casa del Mar hotel on the beach, next to Shutters.  It’s a gorgeous hotel and we thoroughly enjoyed our very short trip there.  The next morning after breakfast we rented beach cruisers and cruised down the boardwalk, spending some time watching an amazing little kid — couldn’t have been more than 5 — catch air at the skateboard park.  Then, back home to sunny San Diego!


Memoir Quandary

Quandary — n pl -ries: a situation or circumstance that presents problems difficult to solve; predicament; dilemma [of uncertain origin; perhaps related to Latin quandō when]  http://www.thefreedictionary.com/quandary

Do I write a memoir, a book about my great grandmother’s “Life On The Prairie” in 1890s Oklahoma interspersed with tales of her great-great-great grandmother’s march across three states in January during the Revolutionary War, after the Tories burned down her house?  Or try my hand at a novel?  I’m torn and keep going back and forth between all three.  And, if a memoir, then one about my childhood, my hometown, my 20s in the living large 1980s, my Big Law firm experience as a new mom, post-divorce dating experiences, something else?  I want to pick one and start going … need some sort of start on a manuscript by November, b/c I’ve optimistically already signed up for a “critique and read” at that time, to motivate myself to Just Get It Done.  If I had one overwhelmingly horrific or exciting or exotic experience in my life it seems the choice would be easier — of course I would write about that.  But my life seems very ordinary so I have to make the ordinary universal, and interesting.

Weekend activities

Friday night we enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love (which I always want to call Eat Love Pray … just seems to flow better).  We both enjoyed it, especially my husband, because it reminds him of the journey he’s been on this year.  His has been an inner journey of exploration of traditional Christian prayer, Buddhist chanting, and mediation.  He’s also spent significant time in Indonesia, including a year teaching English to some Indonesian medical students, and this past year we made two trips to Rome.

While my husband hosted a working group for TedX San Diego at our house Sat., I used the free time to gather all my childhood/teen diaries, along with several “how to write memoirs” books and spent the morning in my comfy cushioned chair on our master deck, under the oak tree, using a boulder for my ottoman.  I had wanted to write for 6 hours straight, but having to make a lunch run to feed myself and the Gardener, and drive my son to his Dad’s house, interrupted that plan.  I did enjoy the 3 hours I was able to spend on it, though, although it’s always hard to choose between reading the “how to” books and spending the time writing.  Sat. night we had a wonderful dinner with some new friends who are experimenting with a system for growing fish in special tanks that enable you to recycle the used fish water to use in the garden, and the fish to go through their growth cycle and then serve as fresh food for the dinner table.  It’s an exciting concept and the veggies they are growing are beautiful and healthy and taste wonderful. 

Sunday was not near as enjoyable … had hours of timesheets for August to complete, and the whole month of emails to go through (archiving, acting upon, deleting, etc.).  So after a nice Sunday breakfast at The Original Pancake House (they’ve expanded their menu and the Mediterranean omelette was delicious!) I settled in at the computer from 10 ’til 5 while my husband and his daughter enjoyed listening to Blues music at a Jolla cove.  Envious, I jumped into my swimsuit, grabbed the book I’m reading (Passages) and relaxed for an hour, which was great.  All in all, a productive and enjoyable weekend was had by all!


Work today started with an ex parte to argue over a proposed judgment at 8:15 this morning.  Short and sweet it had me back in the office by 9, so that I could finally try out my  new Echo Livescribe electronic pen  — unfortunately before I could use the brand new pen I had to update the software (shouldn’t a new pen come with the most up-to-date software?)  But, once that glitch was fixed I was able to test out the pen at my afternoon meeting and it worked like a charm.  I simply press the “record” circle on the special paper, start writing, then press stop when I’m done.  Dock my pen and the notes are uploaded into my computer, along with audio from the discussion that took place at the meeting.  I’m hoping this will be my solution to organizing all my notes.  Too much to hope for?  I”ll let you know in a few months.

After a few hours editing a document, another 3 hours meeting to determine the best approach to drafting of an initiative for the 2012 ballot, and miscellaneous phone calls I rushed home for a quick dinner and now am heading out for my How To Write A Novel class.

PS … my daughter called to announce she passed her driving test with flying colors, missing only one item (left on her blinker while backing out of a space).  I knew she could do it!

Getting Your Drivers’ License

It is a day to remember — my 16-year-old daughter is taking her driving test even as I write this.  She is a better driver than I was at that age, careful to obey the speed limits, turn on her blinker before every turn or lane change, adjusts the mirrors and seat before starting the car … wonder how long all of that will last?  She’s petrified that she won’t pass — one of her friends is already on her third try — so she’s consumed with stress.  I have to keep reminding her to breathe.  If she doesn’t pass it will be solely caused by her stress and fear of failing.  It is a scary thing for a parent to let their teen climb into the drivers’ seat and pilot that big hunk of metal that so many teens die in each year.  I wish there was a big flashing sign we could install on the rooftop for at least the first year, warning everyone else on the road that we have a Beginning Driver, Watch Out!  Or that I could build huge rubber bumpers all around the car and/or my child that could protect them in case of an accident.  My daughter wouldn’t let me help her practice driving for the first 6 months after obtaining her learner’s permit, because she’d seen how panicked I was with my now 19-year-old son during this days of learning.  At least once on those trips I was sure to be found gripping the seatbelt with white knuckles while practically hyperventilating because I was certain we were going to wind up dead.  Like everything else, it gets easier with the second child, so now that I’ve finally been allowed in the car I am able to stay calm and have more confidence that she’ll come through alright.  Her test is in an hour … wish her luck!


Inspired by others’ blogs, I’ve decided to spend some time each day writing about Our Life — that is, the daily life of myself, my second husband, J., my just-turned-19-year-old son, A, 16-year-old daughter, C., 24-year-old stepdaughter, B., and 26-year-old stepson, D.  And our two dogs — Fee, our female German Shepherd, and Mongo, our Yorkshire Terrier, along with Casper, the cat.  Enjoy the ride!

After a tough Friday the 13th — the Superior Court ruled against my client in a CEQA case (California Environmental Quality Act), then later that day the Court of Appeal denied a writ in another client’s case … although writs are only granted about 5% of the time, I felt we had a better-than-typical chance of prevailing, so getting the denial was a big disappointment.   I was very down by the end of the day, and bone- tired.  But my husband had wanted to take a weekend mini-vacation and had already arranged for someone to keep the dogs, so I hurried home and, with no time for a glass of wine I so wanted to enjoy, threw some clothes in a carry-on and headed with my 16 & 19-year old kids and my husband for a weekend in LA.  We spent Friday night at the Hilton across from Universal Studios then drove literally across the street the next morning for our VIP Experience at Universal Studios (the VIP experience includes valet parking).  I hadn’t been to Universal Studios since the early 1990s when I first moved to CA, and I’d heard how crowded it was, so we decided to splurge since we hadn’t really taken a vacation this summer and buy the VIP Experience.  It was well worth it if you can afford it.  The “experience” starts at 9:30 and ends around 4:15.  Our tour guide covered the Upper Lot with our group of 15 in the morning, going to the front of the Line with no wait for The Simpsons, Shrek 3D, and the Waterworld and Animal Actors shows, then the Jurassic Park ride (complete with poncho to keep us semi-dry) and the Mummy (the Guide held our oversized backpacks).  Next it was a great buffet lunch with at least 15 options, all of them tasty, and then an afternoon Studio  Tour.  Our small group could stop and walk the sets, including the set of Parenthood and Wisteria Lane, as well as the plane crash from War of the Worlds.  We toured the Prop Shop with literally thousands of every-day and out-of-the-ordinary items that set designers can shop in for ensuring their set is period-perfect.  One aisle consisted only of every type of telephone you can imagine, while others held weaponry from medieval times through machine guns that would be at home in Iraq.

Afterwards we headed to Citywalk for a Family IFly experience, which my kids thought was the highlight of the day.  More on that tomorrow!

Writing Seminar in City of Light

June 27, 2010 and I’m in Paris again… think I’ll make this an annual event!  I love visiting at this time of year, as it isn’t yet crowded with tourists.  The weather has been warm, especially sweltering on the Luxembourg-bound RER B yesterday when the packed train for some reason was not taking off and, my high-school french notwithstanding, I couldn’t understand the announcements being made.  So I walked up from the bowels of the Chatelet metro station and set off on foot for the area near the Luxembourg Gardens, in search of a copy center to print out my 8-page manuscript due today for my first (and possibly only, ever) writing seminar.

It was a long walk, and copies were expensive (50 euros for 10 copies of a 9-page document) but I guess that is my punishment for not getting the thing written and copied before I left the States.  10 copies of manuscript in hand, I headed off, again on foot, to what I thought was a short walk to Forum 404 to meet and greet my fellow seminar attendees and teacher.  It was not a short walk.  And it was hot.  Sor I arrived, 1-1/2 hours late, sweat dripping from me (excuse me, not sweat.  As a good Southern Woman, I do not sweat, I merely “glow.”  But I was glowing quite brightly!)

I was hoping that my fears of the class would be unfounded.  There were not.  There was a great foundation for them, in fact.  I’m the only student in my classes that is new to writing, and to writing seminars.  It was intimidating, to say the least.

First I met a woman who writes grants for a State university …and who is a regular at writing seminars.  Next I met a woman who has her own blog promoting her writings, then a college professor who teaches Creative Writing.  Needless to say they intimidated me, but it turned out that the professor was helpful to have in class, as we had the benefit of a second teacher in many respects.

The most important take-away from the week was the most important thing I can do to become a writer is to write.  Of course I didn’t have to go to Paris for that, but it was a wonderful setting to re-engage and focus my energies into putting effort into a long-held goal.  Wish me luck!

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