Girls Trip 2016

Hello, world!

It’s been awhile.  I’ve been absent from my blog for almost two months now, in part because life is so busy and requires my complete and total attention, and also because for a while there I just didn’t have anything interesting to share with you.

However, I’ve recently returned from my annual high school girls trip and that is definitely worth sharing! Every year in the spring I go on a girls only trip with three of my great friends from high school.  Last year we went to Charleston, SC.   This year, my girls came here to Los Angeles.

LA is a big city, and for most of the vacay we wanted the feel of paradise.  Originally, we had planned to go to Catalina Island, but El Nino is an asshole and we couldn’t predict whether or not the weather would hold up for us.    So we opted to stay at a resort in Palos Verdes called Terranea.  It’s one of the most beautiful properties I’ve ever seen, and spending four days there was absolute heaven.  We hiked the trails around the cliffs of the resort, took a whale watching tour out on the ocean, laid by the pool and drank fun cocktails in the sun overlooking the Pacific.  We laughed, cackled at each other, talked and caught up on everything that’s happened over the past year.  Yeah, we know how to girls trip!

 

The view from our room!

The view from our room!

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From the pool, looking out over the Pacific ocean.

From the pool, looking out over the Pacific ocean.

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A Sea Cave!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hiking trails

Whale watching!

Whale watching!

 

Sea Lions!

Sea Lions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There were, shall we say, moments that weren’t so perfect.  But my annual girls trip wouldn’t be what it is without some mayhem and madness along the way.  As usual, each of my friends has elected to use the name of their alter ego to protect their privacy and what’s left of their reputations.  We come from a small town, so….you know.

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The first night at the resort was the most intense.  And by intense I mean absolutely, fucking, bat-shit crazy.  Belinda lives a very responsible life of dedication to her family and her community.  So during girls trip she likes to let go.  With us, it’s a safe zone.  Jasmine is slightly more tame than Belinda, but only just.  Piper is  far more restrained and likes to relax and rest during girls trip.  I’m somewhere in the middle.  I enjoy going out and having fun but I don’t want to feel like death for three days, so I try to balance my alcohol intake and late nights in a way that allows me to enjoy the entire weekend.

10346188_10204729490055839_5592960337039461547_n[1]After an afternoon of drinking by the pool, and then drinking at dinner, Piper went to bed to read her book while Belinda, Jasmine and I went down to the lobby bar for some live music and more drinks.  I was tired, so I knew I wouldn’t stay out long but wanted to experience the hotel and I love live music.  After one drink in the lobby I went back up to the room, leaving Jasmine and Belinda behind to no doubt wreak havoc on the other guests and each other.  (I later heard some stories about a male, Armenian ballet dancer???)

An hour and a half later, the girls staggered into the room.  I have no idea what Jasmine promised Belinda to get her to go upstairs, but  I have no doubt bribery was involved.  When intoxicated, it takes an act of God to get Belinda to leave a party.  Regardless, they had the brilliant idea to turn our spa-style bathtub into a “hot tub.”  Piper was sound asleep.  I wasn’t.  I laid there listening to them filling the tub with scalding hot water, sloshing water all over our luxury hotel bathroom.  The conversation was as you’d expect.  Drunk, nonsensical hilarity.  They didn’t have a candle for the ambience so they put Vick’s Vapor Rub in the “hot tub” water to make it smell like a spa.  And do you know what happens when you’re drunk and you get into really hot water, which then thins your blood even more?  That’s right, it heightens the sensation of being drunk, makes you dizzy and disoriented.  And do you know what happens when you’re drunk and become disoriented?

11889619_872407892795412_4534014423081678605_n[1]I heard Belinda say, “I’m not feeling so well.”  Annnnnd, here it comes.  I was actually glad she got sick.  That way she could expel all the alcohol from her stomach and she could just pass out and sleep it off.  A little while later she stumbled to the bed and fell asleep next to me.  I got up to use the restroom and spent the next twenty minutes cleaning up the bathroom.  Water and vomit.  Good times.

I tried to go to sleep.  It wasn’t happening.  I was so tired and I had Puky-McPukerson on one side of me and Snory-McSnorerson on the other side of the room.  Jasmine was sick with a chest cold, wasted and passed out, snoring like a damn freight train.  Somehow Piper slept through the cluster-fuck.  I laid there, forever, pissed off and contemplating the purpose of this nightmare.  Why was I awake and unable to fall asleep while everyone else caused havoc and then slept peacefully, unaware of how much I was hating the whole world in that moment?

Then it happened.

10570476_10152232302186751_7149028096365490249_n[1]I heard Belinda making a weird noise next to me and realized she had begun to get sick in her sleep.  I jumped up, rolled her over and ran to the bathroom to get a towel.  At one point Piper woke up, saw me standing there with a towel in one hand and a pillow covered in puke in the other.  Our eyes met and she registered what was happening.  She smiled a smile that said, “better you than me,” and she rolled over and went back to sleep.   Bitches.

I cleaned her up, made sure she was turned on her side, and tried to go to sleep.  I’d like to think I was awake all night because I was meant to save Belinda from an ugly, Jimi Hendrix style death.  But there was nothing I could do to stop Jasmine from snoring all night.  So I laid there in my expensive, fancy hotel room.  Hating the world.

I think I finally fell asleep sometime after 4am.  The last time I looked at the clock it was 3:45am.  Then at 6am, Jasmine gets out of bed and starts moving around the room.  She slams the bathroom door, twice.  She opens the heavy draped curtains and let’s a flood of light into the dark room that blinds me, even with my eyes closed.  She staggers to the phone next to me and starts randomly punching numbers in the dark, trying to call for room service.  Then she stage whispers as loud as she can, “I’m so sorry.  Did I wake you up?  I’m still drunk and I feel like shit.”  Then she says to the person on the phone, “I need a spoon!  Can you bring me a spoon?  I need a spoon for my yogurt.  Does this room have coffee in it?”

Are you kidding me?!  Awake….at 6am….for a spoon.

5430_1117012754976571_6374602042068399513_n[1]Much later in the day I was able to laugh about it.  After I had taken an afternoon nap and stopped hating everyone.  Belinda felt really bad.  She thanked me for taking care of her.  That’s what friends are for.  You should never worry about drowning in sick while in the company of life long friends.  And I know that if I was at my worst they would take care of me.  Probably.  If they weren’t all passed out drunk.  Except they wouldn’t write about it and tell my sad tale for the whole world to read, which actually makes them better friends than me.

Sorry, not sorry.   😉

Kill Shot! (A Ladies Night Out)

20546329_s (1)This past year I was invited to join a charity based women’s group.  Once a month a member of the group is responsible for organizing a fun, something-out-of-the-ordinary group event.  That member also picks a charity/fundraiser for the group to support each month.  We learn something new and also do a community service at the same time.  It’s a win-win.

For the month of November, the group event was a beginner’s gun safety class that included time in the firing range with instructors, learning how to use several different types of hand guns.  Considering the recent world events, hot-button topics around gun control and politics, this seemed like a very timely activity.

I grew up in rural Michigan, for the most part, and firearms are common in many households.  Most of my male friends and family members from back home are hunters and I was not raised to fear guns.  Respect them, yes, but fear them…no.  Despite growing up around guns, I myself never actually fired one before.  I had no interest in learning how to shoot as a teenager.  I was more interested in scoring NKOTB tickets and curling my hair.  And I just took it for granted that if shit went down, someone around me would know how to handle the situation.

Now, as an adult living with my family is southern California, my perspective has changed somewhat.  I do not own a gun, nor have I ever owned a gun.  Neither has my husband.  But it’s something we’ve been talking about.  The world is changing, and Dan and I both agree that we can’t afford to be ignorant about what it might take to protect our home and family.  Every day I turn on the news and listen to stories about home invasions, burglaries, sexual assaults and murder in the LA area.  Granted, LA is a very large, densely populated city, which could explain the seemingly high crime rate, but violent crime is a regular occurrence here, nonetheless.  Although my neighborhood and community is typically very safe and family friendly, that can’t be my excuse for being uneducated and unprepared in a time of crisis.  So when the opportunity to participate in this gun class came up, I jumped at it.   The group also agreed to allow our husbands to participate in this event, so Dan and one other husband joined us for the class.

20306058_sI will admit that when I first heard the group was organizing this event I got super excited.  I thought it would be so badass!  I hoped I would be good at it!  Don’t most of us secretly imagine ourselves as some supreme badass super-hero at some point?  Even if it’s completely unrealistic?  Have you ever imagined yourself as the hero or heroine in your favorite action movie or book?  Well, I have, and all my favorite heroines know how to kick-ass and take names.  I admire men and women who know how to handle themselves, intellectually as well as physically, and I will be honest and say that I was looking for a little validation that there might be some steel beneath the magnolia.  Plus, no one wants to look like a candy-ass at a firing range!

True story.

True story.

But surprisingly, excitement is not what I felt during the class.  The class was taught by the manager of the firing range and it was very informative and safety oriented.  It was also very sobering.  To hold that cold, hard steel in my hands and know that it’s an instrument to both protect myself but also hurt another person left me feeling very heavy.  I could feel the weight of that responsibility across my entire body, not just in my hands.  And this was just while I was practicing how to load a semi-automatic hand gun with fake bullets.  It was a bit terrifying to realize that once I got into that range, if I screwed up, someone could get hurt.

24959021_sWhen the time came to move into the firing range, I was so nervous.  Even with head-gear on, it was incredibly loud and the smell of gun powder was thick in the air.  I became very uncomfortable with the idea of shooting in mixed company.  I didn’t know any of these other people sharing the range with our group.  What if one of them lost their shit, turned around and just open fired?  There was one squirrelly little man who made most of us nervous.  He was using a wicked looking rifle with high-caliber ammunition.  He kept hopping around with this delighted smile on his face while squeezing off rapid fire shots at his target.  Even the staff at the range had to keep asking him to slow his roll.   A staff member would come over the speaker system and say, “Hey Rambo, settle down in there.  No more than one round per second.”  Really?  Because that’s a lot of fucking rounds!!!

As for our group, we had three bays with two handguns situated at each bay.  We also had two instructors assisting us and providing verbal directions.  The first gun I used was a Beretta, and the first shot I fired was not at all what I expected.  It wasn’t sexy.  It wasn’t exciting.   It was stressful.  It was much harder than I thought it would be, and it took a great deal of physical and mental concentration.  While the kick-back wasn’t too bad, I found my entire body tensing with each shot.  I had to take deep breaths to calm myself in order to line up my shot accurately and the shells kept flying back and bouncing off the side of my head and shoulder.  After loading my second weapon, my shoulders and arms began to ache from the strain.  At the second bay, I used a Glock 17 for my target practice and I found it to be more comfortable than the Beretta.  My aim improved significantly, and one of the instructors kept narrating the anatomical injuries of the target with each shot I took.  This definitely added some levity to the moment and helped me to relax.  The more I relaxed, the better I did.

My target practice

My target practice

“Oh, bulls eye!   That’s a kill shot baby!”

“Left lung!  He’s a goner!”

“You got him in the throat!  That’ll do it!”

When I was done he said, “Everyone one of those is a kill shot, honey.  You did good.”

Although there were six different hand guns for us to try, I found I had hit my physical limit after three.  So much for my secret super-hero status!  I do regret not taking my turn with the 357 Revolver, as everyone else said this one was much easier to use.  Overall, the night turned out well and we had a great time, but I find myself to be completely conflicted over it.   I wanted to do well, and I did.  I wanted to like it, and I didn’t.  I’ve been trying to tell myself that’s a good thing.

The San Bernardino shooting took place two days after my gun class, and two hours away from where I live.  The world is changing.  And realizing how much we might have to change with it breaks my heart a little more each day.

PS–this is not meant to be a political post of any kind.  I am not advocating for or against gun control.  I’m simply sharing my experience with you.  And because I hate ending this post on such a somber note, I’ll leave you with this….

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