Sunday, June 15, 2008

Aerobics and Tissue Engineering in a Coast Guard Hangar... Hiking with Cows... Oysters!... Accepting Official Shiny Happy Status.


Today started bright and early. Even though I woke up cursing my Office-Themed ringtone alarm, something about the California sunlight streaming in through my window didn't let me stay angry long (I bet you thought those raisins were just on crazy drugs. It's the sun, I tell you, the sun!) But waking up ridiculously early was most definitely worth it- I got to go to a Sunday morning aerobics class with my older cousin. What makes this class so amazing you ask? Let me count the ways: First off, the YMCA is located at his workplace, which, if you remember, is actually just a redecorated World War II hangar (saweeeet!) This means I got to pretend that I was training to be an secret agent sniper marine pilot as I liquefied my major muscle groups (double saweeeet!). Secondly, my 24 yr old cousin and I were the only people under the age of 50. It was almost surreal, as if I was acting out some cheesy movie scene: punch-jab-hook-ing invisible assailants while completely surrounded by little old asian ladies.
Oh, but then it gets better!

After the class, my cousin took me on a tour of his office. In case I haven't mentioned it yet, he works for a tissue engineering company that focuses on making blood vessels. As a mechie, his job is to build the reactors that hold media for the growing the tissues (triple saweeeet!) I got to see his cubicle, the labs where they work with the tissues and the fridges that hold the cultures. Surreal moment of the day #2: the overwhelming sense that I was walking through a Michael Crichton novel (I can die happy now.) I wanted to take more pictures, but a man in a nice pressed suit stepped out of the shadows and informed me it was against company policy. Too bad. But no matter, I was soon hit with yet another wowmylifeisamovie moment when I saw that the glass walls of his boss's office were covered complicated dry erase markings- equations, notes, diagrams etc. (Ok, it's official. This whole thing is a sham. The office is too desperately modeling the stereotypical bioengineering lab, I don't buy it. I wonder how long they spent trying to make the dry erase markings on the glass walls of his boss's office look sincere... Seriously guys, you're not fooling anyone.)
All memories of events that followed the return to cousin's apartment have been repressed for my own sanity's sake. Wait... I think it might be coming back to me.... something about how I will always love my Rice Baseball team even if they lose 17-5 to Fresno State and I drink myself into a stupor to numb the pain... No, that can't be right. I probably just fell asleep or something.

Next on the itinerary was a quaint little hike through a cow pasture. Don't worry, it was a real and intentional tourist site, we didn't just hope a barbed wire fence and wander around on someone's private land (*cough*.) The weather was thisclose to being perfect, but the wind had the terrible tendency of blowing away all of the warm sun rays. Blast you, wind! (I think I have to give in and buy a pair of pants. To wear. During the summer. Yuck.) Something interesting about hanging out with my grandma & cousins the past few days: now that we're all adults it's a completely different dynamic. It's very.... comfortable. I like it.
After our little bonding-wandering session, we set up a little picnic by the bay. We bought 50 oysters, 1lb of clams and 1lb of mussels to grill. I've never been a big fan of shellfish, but I have to say, I'm a convert. Maybe it's because everything was so fresh, or because we grilled it ourselves. No matter. It was quite the experience.
Did this day really happen?
An aerobics class, hiking in happy cow pastures, and the grilling oysters on the bay? This has been the most stereotypically authentic California experience ever. (Tomorrow I'm getting a nose-job and overdosing on my inattentive mother's antidepressants!)
Actually, I have a confession to make.
Try as I might, lately it's been hard to be cynical. No matter how much I want to write scathingly critical posts revealing the shallow wasteland that is Ellis' California, I can't help but just sit back and just enjoy its shiny happy surface (It's the sun, I tell you, the sun!). This trip has been nothing but wonderful so far. I guess even my inner nihilist is taking a temporary vacay. And I can't blame all negativity on Houston's heat, humidity, pollution, traffic, or mosquitos, because I know that this is what vacations are for, right? Throwing obligations and responsibilities to the wind and existing for awhile. As gorgeous/friendly/organic as California is, I don't think it's actually the catalyst in temporarily melting my cold heart (besides, it's fucking freezing here. 60 degrees is NOT okay for June). It's just summertime in general. *happy sigh* I'm lovin' it.

To add to the cheesy perfection of it all, we listened to Beck's "Mutations" in the car ride to the hike and bay. If you ignore the tone of the lyrics for a moment and just appreciate the mellow flow of music, it fits perfectly. (AH! LAME LIFE METAPHOR, you should have known you couldn't hide for long!) Anyway, the true essence of the day (and light) is captured by this song:

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