The Vacation I Have No Proof Of

So here’s what I learned on this roadtrip: digital cameras can’t take pictures when your memory card is at home, still popped into the hard drive. …


I was so frustrated: Angels spring training. With NO camera. I snapped several pictures of Mike Scioscia talking to the crowd; my kids getting autographs from Brandon Wood, Sean Rodriguez and Rob Quinlan; my kids and their cousin playing catch in the parking lot; my husband and his brother in their caps and jerseys … THEN I saw the note. A little message to me in the viewfinder that the memory card was missing. (I have to admit, my vision had been pretty fuzzy up until then, with the desert sun, Transition lenses, glare and whatnot.) Anyway, needless to say, I was frustrated. I guess you only do that once, right? I bought an extra memory card that night and vowed to keep an extra one in the camera case at all times.

Aside from my memory fiasco (in more ways than one), the trip was fantastic. The roadtrip playlist ended up being ’70s music. (“My name is Michael; I’ve got a nickel” always makes me smile.) I didn’t have time to pull together any roadtrip snacks, but that just forced us into gas station marts where we were able to select outrageous treats like Ho-Ho’s and Dibs ice cream nuggets. And spring training is an amazing experience for any baseball fan — you really get up-close and personal to your favorite players. The players are relaxed; they’ll stop and sign autographs; and every seat is field-box level. Sure I didn’t get any pics, but my husband took a few “back ups” with his camera phone. And it just made us realize we’d have to go back next year.

Have you taken a trip that seemed desperate to go wrong, but you refused to let it? Were you (like me) so happy to be on vacation that nothing could have ruined it?

Why Do Girls Go for ‘Bad Boys’?

In comments the other day, Bill Q. brought up a topic that tends to slide its way into my family’s dinner conversation from time to time:

Unfortunately, what I recall in my high-school days is that many of the girls seemed to go for the good-looking guys who treated them like dirt.

Hmmm … yes, unfortunately, I remember that, too, Bill. And my 15-year-old son brings it up a lot.

My son considers himself one of the “nice guys.” He bemoans this sad truth and simply shakes his head at the fact that many of the girls he likes tend to gravitate, instead, toward the boys who are the troublemakers, the attention-getters. The boys who shrug off authority and any kind of … well … learning.

I told him that this won’t go on forever. I passed the salt and pepper shakers and said eventually girls will see “his type” as the more desirable. (I believe he gave me that “yeah, sure, Mom” look.)

But in the meantime I was faced with the question he posed to me and my tween daughter: Why do girls go for the “bad boys”? And why has that been true for generations?

At the time neither of us had an answer. (In fact, I think we both denied it.) But later, I thought about it again and remembered some discussions I’ve participated in on romance-writing blogs, where the “bad boy” is still alive and well in many a fiction setting (usually with boxing gloves, tatoos, a motorcycle and a mysterious past).  Continue reading

Do You Have a Roadtrip Playlist?

 Road trip! This weekend. I’m excited. It’ll be nice to get away, and road trips are the best kind of getting away — there’s all that open road, good music, and your own thoughts to keep you company. While I’m packing the Pringles chips and Jack Links beef jerky, my husband works on oil changes and the all-important playlist.

We’ve come to realize how critical the playlists are to our trips. Whatever songs we choose seem to become the soundtrack for that moment – the background to all our memories of that certain stretch of road – so we choose wisely.

To this day, Van Morrison’s “Madame George” instantly brings me back to a certain curvy road (and heavy pine scent) of Tahoe. James Taylor’s “Carolina on My Mind” flashes me right to the highway near Oak Glen, and coming back with bagloads of fresh-picked apples, saltwater taffies, and three wiped-out kids in the back seat.

Some of the memories aren’t so great – Jason Mraz’s first album, unfortunately, now makes me think of the bridge and harbor leading to the oceanside hospital where I took my mother-in-law for chemo treatments for a year. But, on a brighter note, the Black Crowes make me think of her and my husband’s second-youngest brother when we caravanned to Vegas; my young brother-in-law had had a lucky winning streak at the blackjack tables, and whenever I hear “She Talks to Angels” I can see him slouched in the back seat with a big grin on his face, that desert horizon zipping past. …

So take me on a road trip down your memory lane – what songs do you associate with certain roads?

Twilight: Impossible Standard for Romance?

So I guess the Twilight DVD comes out tomorrow. I have one teen in my house, at least, who’s dreading it.


Well, because he’s a boy. And if Twilight has done nothing else, it’s ruined life for boys. At least according to my son.


Now if you ask your daughters, they will say that Twilight is the greatest thing since Cover Girl Lash Blast. Every girl I know under the age of 15 has read the book at least four times, and most have read the entire series at least twice. They pine for Edward; they sigh over Jacob; they psychoanalyze the “sparkly” scene and bend their heads to deconstruct the conversation in the biology lab. They have pens, calendars, posters, folders, purses, buttons and necklaces. They proclaim their allegiance to “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob” with rhinestone-studded T-shirts.


But where does this leave the boys? Continue reading

Sunday Drives

100_36632Ah, Sunday drives. If you can find two words in the English language that more abruptly call to mind gargantuan Cadillacs, clean-cut hair styles, and slow cruising, let me know.


Sunday drives were a big part of my growing up. I spent countless weekends in the backseat of some Pontiac or another, sliding around with my brothers on the vinyl upholstery, listening to Karen Carpenter on the radio and smelling my mother’s Jean Nate.


My parents were both from Ohio. They grew up there, trudging through the snow (uphill, both ways, of course) and working at various gas stations and five-and-dimes throughout their teens. But about a year after they got married, my dad jumped at a great job offer in the aerospace industry and they moved to California. They drove the 2,500-or-so miles when I was 6 weeks old – two young 23-year-olds, eyes open wide, amazed that they were permanently in a land of squawking seagulls and 70-degree temps. And their amazement at the west coast ultimately resulted in regular weekend awe: every chance they got, they’d get out their maps and explore.


All through the late 60s and early 70s, we drove. My parents and I, then later my two brothers, would drive to Newport Beach in a Pontiac Catalina and watch the waves crash on the jetty. Continue reading

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