Best Car Repair Ever

Sunday night I went out to Karaoke-In-A-Box with Sean and Stephanie, to be joined later by Snoo, Colin, and Alex. Before karaoke I went to my first Japanese grocery store, and let me tell you: I could live there. The one I went to made these delicious triangles of rice with seaweed or salmon or tuna inside, and they were delicious. You know those grilled cheese gadgets that make crustless grilled cheese sandwiches? It was like that, except the cheese was fish and the toast was rice. Trust me, you’d like it. Karaoke was a blast, but then I got totally lost trying to get back to Colin’s house because apparently 42st St and 41st Ave are very different things. So are the cities of Oakland and Emeryville. Who knew Mapquest could be so picky? You know what, Mapquest? … I got nothin’. I coulda used some help, is all.

The next day, the weather felt like Mary Poppins was about to drop in from the next cloud. I had a wonderful morning with Colin. We ate toasted banana soy nut butter and honey sandwiches. He showed me new music, I showed him new music, it was great. If you haven’t seen Matt and Kim’s video, “Lessons Learned,” you should. And you can find it here.

Then, at about 11 am I set off for LA. By Colin’s recommendation, I took 99 south through Modesto until it joined up with the 5 just outside LA. This was… not the best plan, although 99 upside-down is 66, which seemed to bode well. All the towns looked the same. Chowchilla was not as exciting as the name would seem to imply, although it was the beginning of a string of Number-and-a-half Avenues, which was hilarious considering there were about 3 miles between avenues, populated entirely by AG fields and rusty farm equipment. To pass 34 1/2 Avenue, drive for ten minutes, and then pass 35th Avenue almost made me wonder if I’d missed 34 5/8 Avenue, 34 7/10 Avenue, etc. I saw signs for an AG museum and a national historic site, but every time I pulled off to investigate, a second sign would inform me that the point of interest was just a short 15-mile drive from where I was already, and I said no thank you to that. Seven hours is long enough on the road. I almost got suckered into going to the Raisin Museum as well, but luckily realized it was a total sham apparently bought out by the Hilton Corporation. Thanks, Paris, but I’ve had enough of your raisins. No offense.

I have to say, I do love Visalia. It’s like the world gets pretty right before you get there, and it don’t quit ’til you’re past. It’s not the kind of place I’d like to live, though. It’s the kind of place where my Nana would live. I should suggest that to her. Nana was telling us over the holidays that, “You can’t get pork like that anymore,” meaning that pork now tastes more like chicken by design, thanks to genetic engineering and selective breeding. She reminisced about how good that pork would taste, cooked special for Christmas dinner. I’m pretty sure pork still tastes like pork in Visalia.

On Tuesday, I spent the morning in a beautiful neighborhood on Ravenswood in West Hollywood. Such amazing architecture! There was an art deco apartment I wanted, but I’d have to swear over the rest of my life’s income for a six-month lease. Taryn and I walked the walk of stars, which was a wonderful and laid-back way to spend the day. Quixo got to see his idol’s star:

Quixo and his hero

Taryn and I shopped at the crazy, Burning-Man-Mart stores down Hollywood Boulevard, and then got respectively a chili cheese dog and a cheese steak at Skooby’s Hot Dogs.

Ah, on to today. Today’s mission was to get Kaiser to transfer my prescriptions to Southern California so I can use up the last of my insurance. Yay! Three hours later, they said I should be able to pick them up tomorrow. Phew. Next mission: oil change and service for the car. I went to the Car Talk Mechanics Files website and found some rave-reviewed place, but I couldn’t find out if they had a free appointment until noon, so I called my first choice (but slightly lower rated): Wabbit Wepair: Independent V.W. Specialists. Who could resist a name like that? I called, Kent (the owner) said bring ‘er over, so I tooled off to Ventura. Cute place. Cute shops. Streets named after presidents and universities. Really, really cute girls on cruisers and skateboards. Mecca. Anyway, I mentioned that I was a musician, and Kent invited me to watch his daughter’s senior recital – she’s a jazz vocal performance major at Sacramento State. (I left with a copy of her DVD!) Then, Kent’s next client walked in. He happened to be the man who owns, and he had brought a bagel-crust pizza. If you haven’t had one, you should find one (if you can). The crust was treated like an everything bagel, and it was amazing. Kent gave us all glass-bottled cokes. Kent spent the first eleven years of his life in Brazil, and is currently letting a homeless man (“It isn’t drugs or alcohol,” Kent said. “It’s all in the head.”) live in an old VW microbus in the back of his shopyard. He rotated the tires, changed the oil, checked all the hoses and plugs, gave me his daughter’s DVD, and charged me $120. I consider it an amazing deal, given that it was my best mechanic shop experience so far. I told him I’d spread the word.

Now Taryn and I are off to the Santa Monica pier, or some sort of beachy ocean adventure, and my mom flies in tomorrow!