When my aunt and cousin arrived on Saturday afternoon, I gave them a brief tour of my apartment (it doesn’t take long to tour 1,200 square feet) and helped them unload their bicycles from the car. While they set out to explore Santa Monica on their bikes, I, Ebenezer, stayed home to catch up on some work for Notre Dame. It was my first week attempting to work remotely for the University, and I was already about three days behind schedule. I knew that if I didn’t get some files completed, I would be plagued with worry all weekend and unable to enjoy the time with my visitors. It was actually a very productive afternoon, and it was nice to work on something that was so familiar to me, as opposed to the previous five days which I had spent trying to understand how to properly amortize film costs. Jealous? Didn’t think so.
When my cousin and aunt returned from their adventure, they were singing a song that went something like, “Help the homeless, clap, clap, clap-clap-clap.” Ah...they had met the neighbors living outside of my apartment. (Disclaimer: That's a song that someone on the street sings, not a song that my relatives made up!) Santa Monica has a reputation for being a humane, liberal city with a propensity to help homeless people, which is a reputation that I would like to squash. I jest. But it does make for some pretty interesting encounters when walking back to my apartment at night. Most of the homeless people on my street tend to leave me alone, but one woman has offered to sing to me for a quarter on multiple occassions. While this does seem like a bargain (I can’t find anything on iTunes for less than ninety-nine cents), I can’t justify paying a quarter to be serenaded during the thirty seconds it takes me to walk from the car to my apartment. I occasionally give an elderly woman who wanders up and down my street a few dollars, but I have my own expenses to cover (and I like nice things), so I’ve got to be thrifty with my handouts!
After my aunt and cousin cleaned up, I took them to my favorite Italian restaurant in Santa Monica, Fritto Misto. It never dawned on me that most of the runners would want to load up on carbs the night before the marathon, so we had to wait an hour for an available table. Everyone was being a good sport about the wait, and we were able to stroll around the Promenade, allowing us to walk off a tiny portion of the massive amount of calories that we were about to consume. Dinner was ok, but not great. I could tell that my aunt wasn’t blown away with the cuisine, but she was very polite about it. She didn’t seem to care for the portions and thought that the sauces were a little too heavy. Those were actually the aspects of the meal that I enjoyed! I should have predicted that she wouldn't enjoy eating at a restaurant that specializes in hearty Italian dishes. After all, the last time that we were in LA together, she took me to her favorite vegan restaurant, and I spent the rest of the evening picking shredded kale out of my teeth. From now on, I think I'll reserve Fritto Misto for my comfort food-loving visitors from the Midwest.
After dinner, my aunt and cousin invited me to spend the night with them on the boat. I opted to stay on land because I wanted to do a little more work for ND before turning in. I received another unwanted surprise that night – I read online that we would be losing an hour due to Daylight Savings Time. How was this going to help me get caught up on my work?! Regardless, I plugged along until I finally passed out, face down on my Ten Key.
The next morning, my aunt texted that she had signed us up for a tour of the Queen Mary at noon, so I raced to Long Beach to meet up with them. I had never been on a ship before, and this one looked strikingly similar to the Titanic, so you can only imagine how many references to the film my aunt and I made throughout the day. As we wandered around the ship, we covered everything from “I’m king of the world!” to “You’re so stupid, Rose!” to “I’ll never let go.” We were quite amused, even if no one else was. The tour proved to be very educational. I learned that 1.5 Titanics could fit on the Queen Mary, that it took over four days for the Queen Mary to travel from England to New York, and that the third class cabin looked nicer than any hotels that I’ve stayed at in recent memory. But above all, I learned that I prefer air travel to ocean liner travel, without ever needing to experience liner travel first-hand. After three hours on this boat, I was ready to be back on land. It didn’t help matters that my cousin had somehow convinced my aunt to buy him a Metropolitan whistle, which he continued to blow about every five minutes at the conclusion of our tour. I hadn’t eaten all day, and between the constant whistling and the rumble of my stomach, there was about to be a “Boy Overboard!” situation.
After our tour, we drove into Long Beach to grab a bite to eat. With a little help from Yelp, I found a restaurant called Pier 76 that looked delicious. Amy and I decided to split a few things, but we couldn’t narrow our choices down to just 2. Fortunately for us, my 11-year-old cousin has quite the sophisticated palate. He wanted mussels, so that helped our dilemma (he rarely eats his entire meal). Amy and I split the Lobster Roll and the grilled Barramundi with a side of fries. Let me just say that if Long Beach weren’t so far away, I’d eat there every day. Perhaps I’ll start recommending the Queen Mary to any future visitors so that I have an excuse to go back to Pier 76!
Before calling it a day, we ventured over to the Restoration Hardware Factory Store, and I found a desk chair for my apartment. I loaded the chair into my trunk, said goodbye to my aunt and cousin, and headed back to Santa Monica so that I could do more work (I imagine that it will go quicker now that I have a chair to sit on!). Overall, I’m sure that I had more than enough work to keep me busy all weekend, but it was nice to take a break and enjoy the California sun with my family. What’s the point of living in such a beautiful place if I never take any time to appreciate my surroundings? That being said, seeing all of these homeless people all over Santa Monica is a good motivator for staying on top of my work. I'd much rather spend my late nights sitting in my Restoration Hardware chair working on files than crooning to strangers for a quarter! Here are a few more pictures of our weekend fun.