Category Archives: Friends

Sounds of Santa Cruz Island: The Intern Event

The big P&G Oxnard Intern event this year consisted of a full day’s outing at Prisoner’s Island, a section of the larger Santa Cruz Island followed by a dinner back on the mainland with all the interns, Corky and his wife Beth (the “parent” figures of us all), and a few of the interns’ managers.  But I’ll just let your ears experience the rest.  Here’s to a day defined by unforgettable sounds…

Boarding

…of the creaky wooden boards on the dock as 100 or so people lined up to board the boat, which rocked slightly side-to-side in the water.

Ocean Spray

…of the occasional spray of water off the side of the boat as it hopped along the waves, creating a rainbow on the water’s surface glistening in the sunlight.

…of the exclamations of those who were hungry and the slight moaning of those of us who had felt seasick once we reached our section of the island where we were completely alone.  But after Corky took out his magical, bottomless picnic baskets of food, all you could hear was quiet munching. 

…of the rattling of bushes next to us as we hiked up the slopes of the island, sparking conversations about snakes and other unpleasant creatures. 

Island flowers

Ocean View…of the distant rumbling of ocean waves the further we climbed, and the wind that picked up its pace, as did our breaths. 

…of the round, smooth rocks that made up the sandless beach hitting against each other under our feet every time after the waves came in and the water rushed back into the ocean.

Lone Island Walk

Wading on the Beach

…of Ryan’s girlish extremely masculine, high-pitched low guttural shriek roar when he and Boris made the decision to swim out into the freezing water, and he stepped on something (“a shark”) that supposedly shot up past his leg.

Island Fox…of the soft crackle of leaves underneath the feet of the small island fox, in comparison to the loud crunch of our own when we tried to follow it.

…of the pitter-patter of seagulls landing on the tarp roof above Andrea’s Seafood where we ate dinner.

Heading Back

…of the joyful bickering over ice cream at the end of the day by the harbor, when stories of our experiences with each other throughout the summer all came out in full form with unabashed laughter and all of our true colors shining brightly through.

…of the silent anticipation around the table as I sat with my hands hovered above my overturned cup, about to do the “Cups” routine (see this or this).

Island Views

…and of the quiet whispers of the water swishing underneath the docks as we walked back to our cars under the calmly pinkish evening sky.

***

Thank you, Corky and Beth, for arranging such a wonderful, unforgettable day for us!

New Family

Mishaps in Big Bear

On my second weekend on the west coast, I decided to leave Oxnard and spend a relaxing weekend with one of my best friends, Felicia, who lives near LA, in her family’s cabin at Big Bear Lake.  Although some of that definitely happened, a short sequence of events transformed an average weekend into an unforgettable one.  Everything here is a combination of recollections from both Felicia and me, since we seemed to be in and out of sleep for complementary parts of the night.

Sleepy Max.
Sleepy Max.

Adventure #1 involved my first train ride (at least in America), from Oxnard to Fullerton on a Friday after work, where I would be picked up by Felicia and her parents.  Two other individuals who would also be coming with us were Felicia’s dogs, Cuddles and Max, whom I’ve basically adopted as nephews of sorts and can shamelessly spoil with treats whenever I visit.  After almost a two-hour train delay and agonizing that I would get off at the right stop, and sitting outside a slightly sketchy Old Spaghetti Factory, I finally met up with Felicia and her family.  At this point, I figured I could fill my stomach, spoil my Felicia’s dogs, and fall asleep on the 1.5 hour ride up the windy mountain road to Big Bear Lake.

That plan was going pretty well until a little after 11 p.m., after I had fallen asleep.  Felicia’s dad was driving in basically pitch darkness, when suddenly a huge thud and the car simultaneously jumping wakes us all up.  A few minutes later, we pulled over into this little overlook area on the side of the road and as suspected, found a flat tire.  No problem, that’s what spares are for, right?  Of course, for that logic to hold you first have to know where the spare tire is actually located (which we didn’t).  Somehow I thought of looking in the car manual, which I’m not exactly sure how I did considering I had just woken up and anyone who knows me knows just how great my mental state is when I am even remotely sleepy.  The second requirement for the use of the spare tire is possessing the right tools to actually replace the tire (which we didn’t).

All four of us check our phones– no signal, though we are now aware that it is 11:45 p.m.).  There is no choice but to go the old-fashioned, ask-random-stranger-for-help route.  After ten minutes of keeping the emergency lights on and seeing cars with owners who are (rightfully) too suspicious to help out a random car on the side of a mountain road, Felicia’s dad decides to try and flag down cars.  Finally, a car stops, and Felicia and her parents step out to talk to them, while I stay inside, drifting in and out of sleep, with the dogs who are now hyper-alert mode.  I could see a man and woman in the car, and later found out that although they couldn’t drive Felicia’s dad further up the road to a restaurant where there would be phone signal because they had kids in the back and no room, they offered to drive up themselves and call AAA for us.  We thanked them and sat in the car for a while, having no idea how long it would take or whether they would actually call.  My faith in human empathy was restored, however, when fifteen minutes later, they drove back down to let us know that they called and AAA should be there in an hour, an unexpected gesture of kindness.

I fall asleep several times, and pretty soon Felicia took the back seat so that we could at least wait in comfort.  At around 12:15 when I was completely knocked out, it turned out that another car saw our emergency lights and stopped to ask what happened.  Felicia’s parents told him that we called Triple-AAA and asked if he had any phone signal.  Meanwhile, another car also came up the road and stopped on the side of the road next to us.  The guy in Car #2 sees the guy in Car #1 and our car, and suddenly turns around and starts driving back down the mountain.  Car #1 guy now tells us that he’s sorry he can’t help us, but instead of continuing up the mountain, now turns back around just like Car #2.  

Of course this freaked everyone out (did they know each other, were they supposed to meet there, what on earth for, etc.) and the lights were immediately turned off, leaving us again in pitch darkness.  I woke up pretty frequently in the next hour because it was pretty cold, car seats are not the most comfortable thing in the world, and the seat belt kept jabbing at my side.  For once Felicia was the one passed out in the back.

Middle-of-the-night tow truck: AAA to the rescue
Middle-of-the-night tow truck: AAA to the rescue

Finally two hours after the original call, at 1:50 a.m., AAA showed up.  In this time, Felicia’s dad had stepped out again to try and find a spot with signal, only to discover that we actually had not one punctured tire, but two.  The spare tire wouldn’t have been enough anyway.  With the side car doors open and blowing in cold air, I forced a sleepy Felicia to get my shawl from the trunk, and after some half-hearted attempts she finally threw it at me.  But I was still too cold and decided to awkwardly jump into the back seat for body warmth– though then they just opened the trunk, so that became pretty pointless anyway.

With the car loaded on the ramp, we all got into the Triple-AAA truck to begin towing the car back down the mountain, while Felicia’s mom called some friends to pick us up.  Everyone, that is, except Cuddles and Max, who looked at us with frantically terrified eyes from the front seat of the van since they weren’t allowed in the truck.  Returning to them when we reached the tire shop pretty much played out like a 10-year reunion as far as the dogs were concerned.  In fact, when Felicia’s dad left to pay the AAA guy, Cuddles got so upset at the thought of him leaving again that he began to bark and jumped up on the steering wheel, pushing it so hard that he actually honked the horn a few times.

An hour later, the family friends picked us up and drove us back to Felicia’s house, where we finally crashed on the bed at 5 a.m.  I fell asleep hugging Max.

Dinner by the LakeWe did end up driving back up the mountain to Big Bear in the morning and having some of that weekend we originally planned for.  Italian restaurants, a sunset dinner by the lake, watching movies, playing pool, and walking among the trees all still happened.  Plus I now had a great story to tell my co-workers when I got back.

Welcome to Big Bear
Welcome to Big Bear
A cabin at Big Bear
A cabin at Big Bear
Cuddles and Max awaiting our return to the cabin after our walk.
Cuddles and Max awaiting our return to the cabin after our walk.
Watching the sunset at Big Bear Lake
Watching the sunset at Big Bear Lake

Boats on the Lake Post-Sunset Calm

 

But my favorite part of this story happened on Saturday morning before we left again for Big Bear.  I was sitting at Felicia’s breakfast table, munching away on Special K, when the phone rang and Felicia’s dad picked it up.  It was the couple who had offered to call AAA for us and driven back down to let us know they had done so.  They wanted to make sure we had come back safely and had thought to call us the next morning to check on us.  I didn’t know people still did that, and I also realized how much I underestimated the effect that a personal touch like that had on the receiving end.  Interestingly, they also said they wanted to especially make sure because they had seen “children” in the car (aka 20-year-old me).  Though the sleep-deprived-me is like a three-year-old anyway so that isn’t too far from the truth.

It’s amazing how much a simple gesture like a phone call can show how much you care.  And whether that’s from a complete stranger or from your best friend, there’s nothing stronger and more comforting than the  reassurance of a human connection.

If All the Raindrops Were Lemondrops and Gumdrops…

…oh what a rain that would be.”  Or so the song goes.  I actually beg to differ because that would be pretty painful, and it’s only really profitable if one falls right into your mouth.  (Question: How many of you actually know where that song is from?)

Okay first things first.  I love rain.  That’s probably an understatement, and I would have bolded it or something, except that if I “love” rain, then I LOVE thunderstorms (so obviously using the font modifiers on rain would make thunderstorms indescribable on the word scale).  Though I think my high school English teacher would put his head down in shame, knowing that I resorted to bolding and capitalizing my letters instead of “capitalizing” (see what I did there?) on my skills in diction.  I love rain, but I adore thunderstorms… relish thunderstorms…cherish, venerate, worship, idolize thunderstorms.  Oh thesaurus.com

Anyways, I’m not quite sure what it is about rain.  Now that I’m on the English train of thought, I immediately thought of the metaphor of a rebirth, like a baptism or something… but that’s not quite it.  It’s just refreshing.  The best kind of rain is on a hot summer day, when you can feel the sky wanting to burst open, and suddenly this cool, amazing, goodness somehow seems to wash away everything– every concern, every worry, every confusion.  I defy anyone with a personality to not want to spin and dance around.  And when it starts to absolutely pour, to the point where the drops are so hard they almost hurt, but not quite there yet– that’s when you want to just stand perfectly still with your face up to the sky, your eyes scrunched closed, and your arms spread out to catch every drop.

This is what happened yesterday.  When: 6:30pm.  Where: National University of Singapore (NUS) tennis courts.  What: Getting completely drenched in the middle of a tennis workout.  Now if this was high school and I was with my high school doubles partner/best friend, we would have just continued playing, priding ourselves over our inclination toward “danger,” as everyone else ran off the courts.  I mean, we even played through tornado sirens once (to be fair, we thought they were thunderstorm warnings 😀 ) This time I was with people who are definitely more adept at tennis than either of us, and refused to let me do this for my personal safety and the safety of my racket. (But I mean, it’s a thunderstorm, how can you possibly refuse?!)  So instead, I just stood there.  I spun.  I twirled.  I laughed.  (side note: Yahoo Answers to the question, “Have you ever played tennis in the rain?” says “Yes, but I stopped when I discovered that a smile makes a lousy umbrella!”  To which I say, who needs an umbrella when you have a smile?)

Now I could spend the next paragraph discussing the larger-than-life realizations I made in those twenty minutes while the rain poured down on me.  I could talk about how the rain was a turning-point in the development of my character (typical college-essay material).  And I could spend a not-insignificant amount of your brainpower trying to draw a variety of analogies, metaphors, allusions (where is that literary handbook…) relating the rain to a spiritual force that interacted with my soul or something.  I could.  But I think it’s simpler than all of that.  Sometimes it’s just standing outside in the rain.  It’s just having a childish carelessness about whether or not you’re going to get sick as long as you have some fun.  That’s what it is.  Fun.

When Productivity Fails: Laugh

I wrote this last night, but the horrific internet monster in our apartment decided it didn’t want me to connect to the outside world, so I couldn’t post it.  Here it is!  

When I opened my computer just now, the intention was to blog about my weekend in Thailand.  Only then, my roommate, Felicia, decided to finally act on my earlier request to push the beds against the wall and despite putting all of her body weight (which is like nothing) into moving the bed, it didn’t budge.  So then I got up to help her.  Distraction #1.  Felicia got a splinter.  So guess who ended up moving the beds?  (it was me by the way, in case you couldn’t guess).  (also, fyi, I speak parenthetically a lot.)  Back to the computer.  Only then two more of our roommates came into the room to listen to music.  Distraction #2.  You don’t want to be with the Tiong Bahru girls if you want to get anything done. (Side note: at first we called ourselves the “Girls of Tiong Bahru” but then we decided that sounded… well, you know…)  (another side note:  in the time it took me to write this last side note, I was distracted 3 times.)  Something was bound to happen.

And it did.  In an attempt to help Felicia with the splinter, our premed roommate, Elana, hovered over her with this indescribable mad scientist/surgeon face, which of course set us off.  Distraction #3 (or 6 depending on how you’re counting).  So of course our other friend, Preeti, (holder of an unofficial master’s degree in creeper camera usage) convinced Elana that she was going to take a picture, so would she kindly make this face again.

If only I could actually take credit for this awesome picture…

After the 4th or 5th time of telling Elana to please repeat the face because she “didn’t get it on camera” I finally decided to enlighten her of the fact that the camera had actually been recording video.  Distraction #4 (yes this one was my fault).   If our neighbors hadn’t heard our laughter before, it was now a certain fact that the entire block did, because we were LOUD.  Like if laughter actually extends your life, we might actually live forever.  And when Felicia mentioned the words “pillow fight,” I couldn’t resist (I mean, really, who can?).  Note:  being ticklish is not a good asset to have in a pillow fight.

This is the story of what happens in the hours of night while Anisha tries to blog and fails miserably because she has amazing friends who love to laugh.  And I guess laughter doesn’t always have the right words.  Phuket, you will just have to wait.

On my own.

I have to say, buying plane tickets and booking hotels is extremely gratifying.  A huge pain in the butt, yes.  But still, amazingly powerful.  There’s something just incredibly empowering about the fact that my friends and I can simply look up a flight online in a matter of minutes (by that I mean, long hours of flight price comparisons, splitting migraines, and frustrating conversations with parents), type in a few numbers (from my parents’ credit card), repeat the process for hotels (yup, parentheses repeat too), and soon we’re ready to travel to an entirely different country.  To become *ahem* citizens of the world (cue in booming, echoey voice).

Okay, I’m not doing a great job of convincing anyone, but still, this life is just…different.  The other day when we came back from work and picked up dinner, we plopped down on the sofa in front of the tv and just channel-surfed.  I tried to remember the last time I had done that, but failed miserably.  And I said something unsophisticated like “Guys, this is the young working person’s life!”  I know, I know– we’re not paying rent, filing taxes, or any such scary adult nonsense.  But maybe it just starts with that pasta I made last night for us (yes, I, sworn enemy of the kitchen and anything in it, made REAL EDIBLE FOOD, THAT’S RIGHT MOM).  Or the fact that at the ungodly hour of 4:30am, tomorrow morning I will be on my way to the airport to experience Phuket, Thailand, a trip that my friends and I planned ourselves, only one week after our trip to Bintan, Indonesia, and three weeks before our trip to Cambodia.  And yes on top of that, we are actually getting work done, contrary to popular belief.  Speaking of which, I should get back to that… Lunch hour is almost over!  Back to climate model analysis and more attempts to understand a world that refuses to make itself intelligible for me.