Archive for October, 2011

Chick fight

By
October 19th, 2011



We had just boarded this very full flight, and my head was already filling up with mucus. I was drinking lots of water to stay hydrated.

As soon as we reached altitude and the seat belt sign was off, I got up to use the bathroom. There was already a line.

I blew my nose while waiting because I was super stuffed up. I was also tired from waking up early in the morning to catch the airport shuttle.

Mid-blow, I heard a voice complaining, "You mind? Geez!" It was a rough looking woman in her 50's, and her slightly younger girlfriend, in the seats in front of the bathroom.

"What? Me?" I asked, surprised since I was minding my own business, and unsure what I was doing that was so offensive.

"You're blowing your nose right in my EAR!" growled the woman. For a visual: think Roseanne Barr on a bad day.

"I'm sorry!" I stuttered. "Where am I supposed to go?"

"To your seat! I don't want your disgusting germs near me!" spat back the woman, with an echo from her girlfriend, "Yeah!"

"But I'm in line for the bathroom too. What should I do?" I asked, confused.

They had gotten tired of wasting their superior time on me and now gave me the cold shoulder. I apologized to the air and warned that I had to finish blowing my nose.

I was still waiting and then got angry thinking about it. I said to them, "I hope you don't mind that I have to stand here. Can I breathe your air?"

The woman glared and me and snarled, "You better drop it."

Just then, my turn came up. "You guys are mean," I retorted, and left.

On my way back to my seat, I had to pass them again. I had the luck of accidentally bumping her. Those aisles are small, and there was turbulence.

I made it back to my row, which was three seats in front of theirs, when I heard her actually yelling at me. Mind you, my head is stuffed and I can't hear that well, and I'm tired. All I want to do after this trip is curl in the fetal position and suck my thumb to sleep.

"You! Get back here! You bumped me!" she howled.

I walked back to her. "What?" I said. "It was an accident."

"First you blow your nose in my ear. Then you bump me. You want to start something with me? You watch it! YOU START IT AND I WILL FINISH IT!" she hollered, with passengers now turning to look. Even her yes-man girlfriend was now embarrassed and trying to calm her down, tell her to drop it.

I repeated that I must have bad balance from this cold.

"YOU DO NOT! DO YOU WANT ME TO REPORT YOU TO THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT?" she screamed. My head cold/fatigue helped buffer and dull the impact of her rage. It felt like those dream sequences where you see the action in slightly slow motion. I also felt like I had ear muffs on.

"Yes," I said, wondering how a runny nose might qualify as a crime.

She stood up out of her seat, her face coming into mine like a WWE wrestler. I thought she was planning to push me on her way out of her chair.

At that moment, a flight attendant rushed up, a six-foot-something, 200-pound-something man. In my Sudafed-fogged memory, he gestured us apart with his arms, at which point I returned to my seat.

Claus had heard the commotion and asked me what was going on. I could only shake my head and chuckle that the most ridiculous thing happened. As I was sliding into my row and saying this, I heard the woman saying to the attendant, "Now she's laughing at me!"

Shortly thereafter I turned around to look and see if the attendant was still there. The woman somehow noticed me doing that and did the Meet the Parents "I'm watching you" eye gesture. Seriously??

I had to pass them many more times on the flight and there was no further eye contact or incident.

Much later, the flight attendant saw me in the kitchen and told me not to take it personally, because she and her girlfriend had also had fights with two other people near them. He had told them they need to be more tolerant and reasonable.

Look, I had a difficult week, too, and air travel is frustrating nowadays, but I'm not snapping at the people around me. People need to be more patient. Or in this lady's case, meds.

Have you had/ witnessed a fight on a plane?

***

Also reach me via DianeAko.com

Disneyland, second day

By
October 17th, 2011



Ask, and ye shall receive. I had just wondered the night before how this trip could get worse. Sadly, a storm had arrived in Southern California, and it was pouring all day without much of a break.

We purchased ponchos and were determined to make the best of it. We spent so much energy and time getting here, there's no way some rain was going to chase us off that easily. (Hundreds of other diehards share this attitude, so don't expect rain to mean no lines.)

I hate when I have to buy something that I have a lot of at home. We all have rain jackets, ponchos and waterproof shoes. I even have Patagonia waterproof pants left over from my reporting days. But so be it. And yes, I checked the weather report before I left home, and it didn't indicate rain.

We did a handful of rides in Disneyland, though many were closed due to the rain. The one I really enjoyed was Haunted Mansion Holiday, which was decorated in the theme of A Night Before Christmas. It's a seasonal overlay, and I've never been in the park during the months it's offered, so it was refreshingly new to me. Again, I tip my cap to the creativity of Disney.

Splash Mountain was open also, though my parents opted to watch it from the minimal shelter of a scrawny tree, rather than ride it. "We have all the conditions that are warned about," they said.

Surprisingly, there was no line for this. Do people think they'll get more wet? By this point, it was heavy rain, and we were soaked from the knees down, where the poncho ended.

When we got out of the ride, my dad had fallen asleep on his scooter in the pouring rain. Poor guy.

We all decided to eat and leave. We were leaving in the morning and, being unsure of the LA traffic, I had us checking out of Grand Californian and into a hotel airport that afternoon.

However, we were all wet, cold, and trying not to be miserable, and I suddenly missed the warm comfort of the familiar. I wanted to return to Uncle Tootie's.

They were home and they took us in. Auntie Olive became a gracious receptacle for our varied and cavernous needs: wet, cold, tired, hungry, stuffy head, want to dry clothes. We sure are lucky to have them.

There was more Chinese food for dinner and then a parting of the ways as we went to the airport hotel.

***
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Disneyland, first day

By
October 14th, 2011



We spent the following two days at Disneyland, which I like a teensy bit more than the other park, purely for sentimental reasons. I have a lot of memories of being at Disneyland from around age seven through my early twenties.

First, the health issues. My head cold is slowly improving, and Claus' is slowly worsening. My dad also got a late morning appointment with Dr. Kevin Tanaka, so Claus kindly offered to drive him to Orange, while we girls stayed at the park. This trip is about Olivia, and no sense in all of us having to alter our day.

After another slow start to the day, my mom, Olivia, and I made it into the park at noon. It was slightly drizzling in the morning but became a comfortable, partly cloudy day, which meant it wasn't hot. Perfect.

Fantasyland

We went to Fantasyland first, and to my dismay, the lines were longer than they were at the other park. It was a Tuesday, so I attribute this to the popularity of Disneyland, rather than the timing. The wait was about 20-30 minutes, as opposed to 0-5 minutes at California Adventure.

At our third ride, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, this wonderful attendant noticed that my mother had a wrist bracelet with the electric wheelchair key on it. "We have an auxiliary entrance for guests with wheelchairs and electric convenience vehicles," she informed us. "Stand near the exit and wave your wrist, and we'll take you next."

I had read and forgotten about this. There's a lot that falls out of my head now, because I have to think for more and more people.

This cast member was so warm and caring, it really touched me. All the employees we met were professional and gracious, but now and then- in any organization, really- a few will stand out above the rest. That was this woman. I didn't note her name because I was too busy helping my mom limp around, while trying to keep track of Olivia at the same time.

She saw us at Peter Pan's Flight later and gave us another great tip - that the arms go up on some carts. Most rides, she says, have chairs like that, and it really helps people with mobility issues.

Around 2 pm, Claus and my dad returned from the dentist, and with some painkillers and antibiotics, Dad was feeling better. Mom and I decided to return to the hotel so we could all eat lunch together.

Monorail

After lunch, we were ready to return and tackle more rides. We decided to try a different route to Disneyland. We'd been walking through Downtown Disney, but I wanted to try the monorail.

We got ourselves to the monorail when we noticed a sign up saying the park would close at 6 p.m. for an event. Just two hours from now!

The cast member at the deck said only one scooter at a time is allowed, but we could try to fit them in at the same time if one person drove in and one person reversed in. The vehicles are triangle shaped and in that manner, they would take up less room.

This took ten minutes to achieve, making us "those" people who do the annoying things that hold up the line.

My mother, after the previous day's scooter mishaps, was afraid to execute such a skilled maneuver, so she asked me to take over.

I think Danica Patrick should watch out. I drove that baby in so smoothly it was like a hot knife in butter. I think I'm going to borrow the electric scooters in Safeway so I can practice in between Disney trips.

At the destination, Tomorrowland, we had the same scooter issues. The wheel was a little stuck in the tight space of the monorail cabin so Claus had to fight with it a little to straighten out.

There was a somewhat narrow and curvy lane to get to the elevator, and then the hassle of getting two vehicles and five people in one elevator car. I'm not sure why we didn't just do it one at a time, but we were all tired and not thinking well.

At this point, it was near 5 p.m. In the last hour, we were able to squeeze in some great rides, including Gadget's Go Coaster presented by Sparkle at Mickey's Toontown.

Olivia rode some small rollercoasters last year, but this time she was more able to appreciate it. Claus taught her to put her hands up in the air and scream. She loved it and asked to go again after the first ride.

My mother was a different story. My parents went on the ride, but my mom found it too fast for her tastes. She enjoyed it but decided that would be her one and only fast ride.

What next?

I thought I had the brilliant idea of heading to California Adventure when Disneyland closed, but apparently, so did 1,000 other brilliant people. There was a huge diaspora when the clock struck 6.

We went on one ride, but it was getting late and the lines were quite long (45 minutes) so after Jumpin' Jellyfish, we went back to have dinner and relax.

Midnight run

As I mentioned, my head cold was improving, while Claus' was worsening. For days, he's had this sinus headache. It developed to the point where he was tossing and turning in bed on this night. Finally, at midnight, he exclaimed, "I feel like my head's going to explode!"

Worried, I got up and started tending to the situation. I had a sinus infection for the first time in my life last fall, and I know how horrible it feels. I also recognized the symptoms.

I called his doctor in Hawaii and arranged for an antibiotics prescription. I went to the Front Desk to get help finding the nearest 24 hour pharmacy and directions.

I didn't want to drag Claus with me when he was so sick, but I also didn't want to drive around Anaheim at what was now 1 a.m. and possibly get lost in a bad area. I don't know Southern California at all.

We got him the meds, and we made it back to the room. By the time we took care of all his needs, and turned off the lights, it was 3 a.m.

I have no idea how this trip can get any more difficult.

***
Also reach me via DianeAko.com

California Adventure

By
October 12th, 2011



I love Disneyland. I also really like Disney's California Adventure, right next door. Since we went last year I've been eager to return.

Olivia and me with Chip and Dale

Olivia and me with Chip and Dale

I enjoyed the parks when I was a child, but seeing them through the eyes of my own child is fun in a different way. I find myself watching her face and her reactions half the time, and taking joy in that.

We checked in at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which is located right inside California Adventure- bordered on three sides by the park. It was crazy convenient to pop back into the room for a midday rest or nap. A lot of my rooming decision was based on my parents' limited mobility, and I wanted them to be as close to the parks as possible.

It's a two minute walk from the hotel to California Adventure, and a 13 minute walk (I timed it) to Disneyland, via Downtown Disney (a retail area open to the public, between the two parks).

Olivia and Pluto

Olivia and Pluto

Day 1

We spent the first day at California Adventure, since our first stop was a character breakfast at Ariel's Grotto. There, we paid for a prie fixe breakfast and the privilege of having four live princesses come out and take photos/ sign autographs at your table. There was also a photo opp with Ariel as soon as you walk in, which kind of warms the kids up for the whole experience. The princesses spend 30 seconds at each table, so if you want them to hang around longer, bring an autograph book. Olivia loved it all.

Early October is a great time of year to go because it was sunny but not too hot, and there were no lines. If we waited, it was on average five minutes. In a couple hours we canvassed the section of the park called "a bug's land," which is most appropriate for kids Olivia's age. She enjoyed it.

Though I felt a little better with the head cold, Claus actually started feeling worse. He had a sinus headache. My dad had a toothache that started on the plane ride. The task fell to me to be the group leader. My mother was preoccupied with driving her electric wheelchair on the road and not into people or things.

Still, we were tired after a full morning, so we all opted to return to the room for a nap midday. Man, this is such a different trip. Last year with the cousins, we were up at 7 am and out the door by 7:30, and we stayed in the park for 12 hours. This year, I'm on the AARP agenda.

In the afternoon, we toured "Hollywood Pictures Backlot," which has a lot of musicals. We enjoyed a performance of Disney Junior- Live on Stage!, which was a HUGE hit with our kid. She danced along with the actor and pointed gleefully as the various puppets made an appearance. We watch this on TV at home, so she recognized everyone. She sings the theme song.

After that, we marveled at the excellent production value of Disney's Aladdin- A Musical Spectacular. This was actually a musical, and it was fabulous. The singing, the dancing - wow.

It was here in the Hyperion Theater that my mother had her first scooter mishap. The usher put us in the ambulatory row, so she could park her vehicle next to the seats and watch the show next to us. She doesn't like parking in small, tight spaces, so she nervously edged forward, her scooter stuttering along due to inability to smoothly use the controls. Then she drove into the back of the seat.

She reversed, and there was a man standing nearby. She rolled over his foot and stopped on it. It went like this:

"My foot."

"What?"

"My foot!"

"What?"

"My FOOT!"

"OH!" Quick pressure on the forward lever, which resulted in her driving into the theater seats a second time.

Everyone was OK, except me, because my stomach hurt from laughing so hard.

"Lady, where's your driver's license?" I asked.

We finished up the afternoon with a nearby ride at Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sully to the Rescue! and headed to the hotel for dinner.

At dinner, my dad deemed his tooth increasingly achy, so I insisted he find a dentist. I'm very wary about airplane rides and cabin pressure now, after my horrible ride over.

The concierge did not have a list of dentists, so my dad was just going to look in the phone book. I had an idea to call my own dentist and see if he had a referral.

Luckily, he did, and we left him a message that evening.

We returned back to our rooms quite exhausted from lingering jet lag, assorted health ailments, and general fatigue, hoping for a better day tomorrow.

***
Also reach me via DianeAko.com

Tootie

By
October 10th, 2011



The second day of the trip was spent with Uncle Tootie (short for Toothpick, because he's skinny) hanging out at his house in Montebello and eating Chinese food.

They've lived in this same house for 50 years and it's a very comfortable, welcoming house. I remember coming here occasionally since I was a kid. I haven't seen them for 15 years but it was as if nothing had changed.

It's warming to see my mom laughing so much. She laughs, but it's different with your old buddies, I guess. The two couples ended up hanging around the kitchen table talking, and I walked in at the instant when someone said, "That's why you have to take your glasses off during sex!" Oh, geez. Immediate U turn back out of the kitchen.

This group of friends is comprised of Chinese-Americans, many with Hawaii ties. Uncle Tootie grew up in Kalihi before moving to LA in his twenties.

It's interesting to hear them gossiping because it cements the impression of 1950's Honolulu as a very small town. Everyone knew everyone by several degrees of separation.

There's also a strong ethnic loyalty with this generation. Thinking back to what was happening at that time in history, it makes sense that Chinese would stick together with Chinese. It still happens today with other ethnic groups.

All of this proved an interesting portal into another era.

Uncle Tootie actually speaks Cantonese with his wife, and then was shocked that I didn't understand anything except restaurant Chinese. (Hey, food is important!) Apparently, as with my mom, he only likes Chinese food, so that's where we went for all meals.

Which is fine, I love Chinese. I will happily eat it, but 99% of the time, I will not actually seek it out. I like Italian, American, or local foods more.

It always puzzles me that in a Chinese restaurant, there will be 90% Chinese diners. I mean, you walk into Baci Bistro and there's all kinds of colors. You go into some restaurant on Kapahulu Avenue and it's a mix of diners. But in a Chinese restaurant, it's mostly Chinese.

We went into Capitol Seafood in Montebello. It was a huge restaurant, maybe 200 people noshing while dim sum carts weaved around. The hostess was calling out seat assignments in Chinese.

We were standing in the lobby waiting for a seat, so I held Claus' hand and leaned on his shoulder. "Good," he quipped. "I'm glad you're standing very near me so people know who I belong to." He really was the whitest person in the entire room, what with his blonde hair and light eyes.

I left for the bathroom, but told my mom, "I wrote my cell number on his arm in case he gets lost, so he can be returned to our party."

It took a long time to be seated. It was just that the restaurant was very busy, but Husband joked, "Should I leave so you guys can get service?"

Of course, once seated, Uncle Tootie knew all the waiters, and ordered a feast for us. We did this for lunch, went home for a nap, and did it again for dinner at a different Chinese restaurant. I could make an entire vacation out of this.

***
Also reach me via DianeAko.com

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