Saturday, January 31, 2015

Childhood Reminiscing Session #6: Grounded

My parents had specifically told us that day not to leave the safety of Stillwater Court.  Most of the time we were content to ride our bikes up and down the street and hang out with the numerous children that shared the cul-de-sac with us.  But since we had been expressly forbidden not to venture outside of our street's boundaries, curiosity overcame us and we crossed the threshold into the unknown. 

The next street over really wasn't that exciting.  My brother had an early morning paper route that we occasionally helped with and we found that the scenery was far less mysterious in the sunlight than it was during the wee hours of the morning.  After doing our due diligence exploring, we returned to the familiar sights of Stillwater Court only to find that during that seemingly short time we had been away, Mom had, of course, noticed we were not where we had promised we would be. 

We were immediately ushered into the house and told we were grounded.  We were not to go outside and play but to spend the rest of the afternoon in our room. We protested.  We tried to explain that the next street over was boring and that there were no scary people about.  But Mom and Dad were deaf to our explanations.  They simply stated that our innocent fun could have resulted in one or all of us getting lost or stolen away.  We needed to learn that when we break the rules, we have to accept the consequences that come with our actions.

So we grumbled.  We stared wistfully out the window into the sun-filled backyard.  We heard the sounds of our neighbors splashing away in their pool next-door.  We felt the full weight of our actions.  We were sorry that we had given up our freedom for a few moments of fun.

As our eyes adjusted to the dim light of the bedroom, we began to look at our surroundings a little more.  Our blankets were strewn across our beds.  Our dolls were on the floor.  Brittany picked up one of the blankets, Brigitte found some hair things, I found some heavy books, and brilliant ideas began pouring into our minds.  An hour later, we finished building our three-room fort, fully equipped with beds (made out of towels) for our dolls and fake furniture made out of whatever random objects we could find.  We had made the ultimate doll house and we had a ridiculous amount of fun playing inside of it.

We had discovered how to make the most of a difficult situation.  Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say. Though we missed the warmth of the sunlight and the opportunity to see our friends that day, being cooped up indoors gave way to ingenuity and creativity.  We learned that with a brain, a little hard work, and determination we could turn the darkness into light.  Our punishment turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  And Mom realized she might need to change her methods of punishment for the future ;).

(DISCLAIMER:  I write my Childhood Reminiscing Sessions in a lighthearted, slightly sarcastic tone but I actually just realized after finishing this that there are some gospel parallels and life lessons to be gleaned from this story.  Feel free to make whatever allegorical assumptions you so choose ;).)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The City by the Bay

Living near San Francisco makes for some fun weekends.  My friend Jen, who was my roommate for two years in college, came to visit me this past weekend which gave me another opportunity to explore the city a little more.

Day 1: Since there were protests planned for Friday morning that would disrupt BART, Mom and I drove to the San Francisco Airport to pick Jen up.  We then went to Town's End Restaurant and Bakery.  I had never been there before but I wanted eat at a place that was near our first stop, AT&T Park.  It was a really good breakfast!  I would definitely go there again to try their waffles! Mom drove back to Walnut Creek for work and we walked over to AT&T Park where we took a tour of the Giants' stadium.  My junior-year history class toured the stadium for a field trip in high school but I thought it would be fun for Jen to see it since she loves baseball.
Obviously I throw just like Willie Mays.

The view from the Tony Bennett suite.
The view from the Tony Bennett suite.
The visitor's dug out.
Getting the call.

On the field.
On the field.

Charlie Brown is a Giants fan. :)
After the tour, we started the LONG walk along the Embarcadero to Pier 39.  My feet are still recovering from that walk but it was worth it.  We ate at the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch/dinner and bought a necessary bag of salt water taffy.
We got a good view of the Bay Bridge on our walk.
Alcatraz looking eerie through the fog.
Sea lions at Pier 39!
Part of the plan was to go to Ghirardelli Square but we were kind of tuckered out from our long walk and felt our efforts would be best exerted in the walk to the BART station (which, luckily, had reopened by the time we got to it).

Day 2: A couple of weeks ago, I got tickets for us to go see Alcatraz!  Even though I have lived in the Bay Area all of my life (except for my college years, of course), I had never actually been there before.  We got to the boarding zone a little early so we had some time to kill before we got on the ferry.  We went into the arcade where a scene from the movie the Princess Diaries was filmed.

"He looks like Rupert's cousin from Liechtenstein."
Then we meandered on over to the pier where you board for Alcatraz Cruises.  It was really fun and interesting to get to know the history of the island and to visit the place where the likes of Al Capone and the Birdman were imprisoned.
On the ferry.  The Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz are in the distance.
Arriving at Alcatraz!
Getting ready to start our tour!
If I remember correctly, this was kind of the recreation building for workers at the prison and their families.

Alcatraz went through a period called the "Indian Occupation" following the closure of the island as a prison.  The graffiti on the water tower is from that period.
The first corridor of prison cells.
It would have been insane to be locked up in one of these for any space of time!
The recreation area.
Alcatraz has great views of the San Francisco Bay.  One of the prisoners said it was awful to feel so close yet still so far from regular society.
Some of the famous prisoners.  Al Capone is on the far left.  The Birdman is the third from the right.

View of the San Francisco skyline from Alcatraz.
One of the paper-mache heads that three prisoners who escaped Alcatraz used to fool prison guards into thinking they were in their cells.  The prisoners' bodies were never found so they either made it to shore and to freedom or they drowned.  The case is still under investigation.

We then boarded the ferry to get back to the mainland.  Our next order of business was Lombard Street.
Driving down Lombard Street.
We then headed up the steep streets of San Francisco to Grandview Park.  I love that place!
My friend Katy suggested we go see the vintage paper fair in Golden Gate Park.  There were a lot of really cool vintage advertisements.  This one reminded me of you, Shelley!
We made it to the Sutro Baths just as the sun was setting.  The cave and waves coming up through the rocks are just as cool in the dark!
We went across the Golden Gate Bridge on the way back.  I tried to take pictures but my camera doesn't take great pictures at night.  We ate at Pieology in Berkeley and then got dessert at the Cream in Walnut Creek.  It was a good but exhausting day.

Day 3 and Day 4: The next couple of days were a little more low key.  We went to church in the morning on Sunday and then the linger longer afterward.  We drove down to Saratoga to attend an Alex Boye fireside.  It was...rowdier than some other firesides I've attended, that's for sure.  We rounded out Jen's trip the next day with some shopping and lunch in Downtown Walnut Creek.  I got a couple of new books (I can't resist sales at Barnes&Noble) and Jen got a couple of really cute shirts at H&M.  It was a fun weekend!

Thanks for coming, Jen, so I could have the opportunity to explore the city some more!