Jun 24

SC StimulusIt’s 7:30 on Thursday morning.  Exactly 24 hours later from the last time I wrote.  I’m sitting in the same place, too…those wicker teardrop chairs overlooking the pool, funky music raining down on me.  Coffee four inches to the left of my hand.

On my way down here I caught a glimpse of the complimentary USA Today copies in front of people’s rooms.  A lot of news going on and I haven’t thought about much of it.  The Governor of South Carolina disappeared for four days in a state car.  Someone finally saw him coming back into the country by way of Atlanta.  Several hours later he was making a public statement that he’s been cheating on his wife.  What an idiot.  Politicians kill me.  Such little kids.

tn_nedaThen there is everything going on in Iran.  They had an election last week and (seemingly) re-elected their President, who is a real jackass.  The public over there isn’t buying the election results however and there have been protests that have turned violent.  In response, the Iranian government has put the squeeze on public communications coming out of Iran; they’ve kicked out reporters, shut down internet bandwidth to make it impossible to transfer pictures and video out of the country.  Some people are still doing it via their cell phones.  In fact, someone captured a girl being shot by the military for peacefully protesting and now that’s all over the tv and newspapers.  A bullet hit her in the midsection and it took only seconds for blood to spill out of her mouth and chest and then die in the street.  Powerful images that have everyone up in arms.

tn_Iraq JAM fighters BasraNow the big question…what do we do about it?  It’s interesting how many people I know who are criticizing our President for staying out of it and are the same people who have wanted us out of Iraq for years.  Ironic.  I think they’re the people who just want all good and no bad.  Doesn’t apply during war.  We have to stay away, that’s what I say.  We can provide a safe haven to people that are being persecuted, as we always have, but we can’t afford to get involved in the politics of Iran.  Aside from our military being spread too thin across the middle east (and world for that matter) already…Iran is a different beast.  I don’t believe they would hold themselves to the same rules of conduct that we would and I’m also not convinced they wouldn’t use nuclear weapons.  Iran and the United States don’t have a great history either…goes back 30 years.  Anyway…what the fuck am I writing about this for?

tn_DSC03049This morning I have just a little lump in my belly.  Just a little one.  Vacation is winding down and I don’t want it to.  Also maybe re-thinking the $400 dinner tab I picked up last night.  Heh heh heh…made sense at the time.  Thank God we brought our own wine.  Actually, I bought that too so I guess that isn’t much of a savings.  Solid wine though…a good California Pinot.  Two of Rhonda’s girlfriends live out here.  They brought their husbands and kids to hang with us yesterday and then came back to the hotel to swim and eat dinner.  The last time we hung out with these guys, we were the only ones that had kids.  We ate dinner in Huntington Beach at a place right on the coast and someone else picked up the tab.  I keep close tabs on who pays for me and make sure and reciprocate.  (That dinner was two years ago).  The kid’s menu was perfect for our kids.  Salmon, specialty pasta, etc.  Maybe kids in California are a little less picky than in the Midwest.  I’d like to believe that’s true because then it means that my kids’ pallet is more similar to the kids out here.  Or maybe the restaurant wants to dissuade people from bringing their kids.  Who knows.  All I know is I tore that menu apart…oysters, ahi, scallops, halibut, filet mignon with a fat lobster ravioli on top.  The place was Acqua and I highly recommend it.

tn_DSC02769After I finished writing yesterday, I went down to the beach and priced out jetskis, boats, paddle boats, etc.  I want to take the girls out on something today.  After that, I got Rhonda a vanilla latte and the girls a big yogurt, granola and fruit parfait to split and went back to the room for breakfast.  Not only did the girls eat their yogurt treat, but they had a peanut butter sandwich and cold pizza (with their dad).  Those kids are cracking me up lately.  Sometimes they won’t be hungry for awhile and other times they are just ready to tear up anything you put in front of them.

tn_DSC02835After that, we packed up and went to SeaWorld.  Let me just say…SeaWorld is about 500 times cooler than Disneyland…at least for our family it is.  for one, it was less crowded.  Now that isn’t to say it was not crowded, it was.  But the crowds were completely manageable and there weren’t any lines for anything we wanted to do.  Add to that that the food was completely decent.  We went to a place called the Calypso Smoke House for lunch.  I couldn’t stand it.  It smelled so good.  Everything inside me was saying ‘Don’t so it.  There’s only disappointment in trying to get good barbecue at Seaworld.’  But…I buckled and racked up a $75 lunch tab sampling their brisket, beef ribs, baby backs and chicken.  Very solid, all of it.  Oh, know why else SeaWorld kicks Disney’s ass?  They serve beer.

tn_DSC02873We went slightly before everyone else because our kids are older and we thought they’d want to see some things that the others wouldn’t care about.  First we checked out the otters, which they both always like.  After that we watched the dolphins swim around for awhile and eventually made our way over to the dolphin show, making sure to sit in the splash zone.  That wife of mine…she’s a thinker.  She put the girls’ swimsuits on under their clothes.  While other people were trying to hide their cameras and keep their only change of clothes dry, our kids sat there in matching blue bikinis.

tn_DSC03043At least a dozen times I have floated out of my body and just watched each of the girls in their own space, processing information, deciding if the like something…and I see what might make their lips curl up in a smile.  I used to wonder how actors can make themselves cry on cue.  I can do it in a second just watching Ava or Lily.  The other night, before bed time, Rhonda and I shared how often we have overwhelming fear take over our thoughts.  When we were walking back to the room and I had to get the food out of the car, I watched her and Lily’s silhouette make their way up the stairs to the second floor where our room was.  I glanced around, seeing the shadows of others walking around the grounds.  What if something happens to them? I thought.  Then I squeezed Ava’s hand and she looked up at me.  What if something happened to us? It was weird to hear that inside Rhonda’s head, similar things were scrolling across her forehead.  What if this is the last time we see each other?

tn_DSC02917After spending sometime running through the water playground, Lily tuckered out and fell asleep underneath her blanket.  Bird and I peeled off and went to see the sharks, per her request.  Even though the shark attraction looked like every other aquarium we’ve been to when I checked it out online, this was a different deal.  Perhaps the biggest difference is that they had a shit ton more sharks than I’ve ever seen.  Big ones too!  Big ones with big sharp teeth!  You start out looking down on them in a lagoon.  I lifted Ava up so she could see them and a massive shark swim right by and scared her!  After that you go down below and look at the same lagoon from beneath the water, then take a moving walkway through a tunnel where they swim all around you.  It was an impressive attraction.  Ava kept saying “This is so cool!”

tn_DSC02826Of course the walkway leads right into a retail section where you can purchase all things that are shark.  Bird ran right up to a shark’s tooth necklace and said “Dad I want this so I can remember this trip always!”  How do you say no to that?  Right, you don’t.  It was kind of bittersweet because what I had wanted to do was find a shark’s tooth that was authentic looking and give it to her later, telling her that I woke up in the morning and swam out in the ocean and got it for her, right out of a shark’s mouth!  That’s what my dad did to me and that folklore lived on for a long time with me!  But…she picked a big tooth – painted blue – that was more ornament than it was scary and sharp.  My plan will never hatch.  So sad.  Something funny about that shark’s tooth.  Being the forever good big sister, she wanted to get one for Lily too.

“This one dad,” she said holding up another blue one.

“Well, we should get another color so we can tell them apart.  Don’t you want pink?”

“No.  I want this blue one.  So does Lily.”

“Ok, well if you’re getting blue, pick out a different color for her because I don’t want you guys fighting.  You already can’t tell your Shamu’s apart.”

“Ok,” she said. “This yellow one then.”

Now…flash forward an hour when Lily wakes up and sees Ava’s tooth.

“What’s that Ava?”

“It’s a shark’s tooth Lil.  I got you one too.  A yellow one.”

“I want a blue one.”

“I know.  I tried to tell Dad but you got a yellow one.”

tn_3134648Tonight after dinner everyone scattered because our kids melted down at the same time.  Lily was particularly tired, but Ava wanted to go for a walk on the beach so she and I decided to take the long way back to the room.  When we got to the beach, I remembered that SeaWorld does nightly fireworks.  According to my watch, they were scheduled to start any minute.  I quickly called the room and told Rhonda and Lily that we were going to watch them.  Ava and I had staked out the perfect place on a desolate beach…right on top of a square piece of wood.  Mommy and Lily were there within seconds, right as the fireworks started. It was so perfect…but Bird didn’t watch them.  She was intent on building a sand castle.  It was a funny intersection of intent.   I was feeling like we all had to be watching the fireworks for this to be a perfect moment and kept trying to get her to watch them.  She kept not caring.  Lily, on the other hand, sat quietly between Rhonda and I and watched every colorful burst.  And it was in one of those bursts, a red and green one that exploded then left a trail of stardust as it feel to the earth, that I saw my family sitting on the beach, moonlight bouncing off our skin…Ava digging in the sand at our feet.  It actually was…completely…perfect.

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