Category: Personal

strawberry picking: perception vs. reality

Last weekend, I decided to go strawberry picking.

pick your own strawberries

I drove through the country side with high ambition: I’d bake a pie, definitely. And I planned to make more awesome granola to top with the freshest strawberries. And maybe throw together a jam, you know, if I just have too many strawberries to deal with. Mmm.

tiny strawberries in a box

I headed into the fields with my giant cardboard crate and began to look for strawberries.

tiny tiny strawberry!

They were all so cute! So tiny! So organic and genetically unmanipulated!

But they were also so close to the ground, and so far apart, and soon I got tired of flipping over the perfect looking ones to find a squishy, bug-laden underside. Plus, I think I like the genetically modified strawberries… sorry, but these just weren’t the greatest.

my haul of freshly picked strawberries

Without shame or regret for my ambitions, I weighed my meager haul and headed back home. No pie, no jams, not even fresh granola, but I did have some great strawberries on my cereal that week :) And it was a good adventure, with fresh air and cool breezes and bright sunshine. I even got the ghost of a tan during those 15 minutes in the fields!

And the trip was fruitful in a different fashion: I found a fabric store! And they had a whale knit – an orange-bellied whale knit. You don’t find that every day.

whale knit fabric - whales with orange bellies!!

Don’t get me wrong – I love picking fresh fruit. But I think I’ll stick to apples and peaches: things that grow on trees.

happy papa day!

guinness soccer toucan

Happy Father’s Day to the best Papa in the whole world!

I hope you get to watch some good soccer and drink a good beer. Wish I could be there!

my favorite place: disneyland

disneyland bridge sign: Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy

Two weekends ago, I got to go to my favorite place.

disneyland train station: main street

Yes, that place.

Also known as Disneyland, the happiest place on earth.

arianna and i in front of sleeping beauty's castle in disneyland!

Arianna, one of my very good friends, goes to school in southern California. Last summer, we bonded over our mutual love for Disneyland and all its magic, and devised a hypothetical visit. Of course, with my love of planes, combined with my love of Disneyland, combined with the fact that I haven’t seen Arianna since summer… I couldn’t pass that up.

The school year progressed, fall semester ended, and all of a sudden it was the middle of February. If this was going to happen, it couldn’t wait. And of course, I couldn’t wait. So I flew to California.

disneyland storybook boats - heart fence

disneyland: sad matterhorn under constructiondisneyland: sleeping beauty castle at nightI arrived on a Friday night and celebrated Engineer’s Week USC-style, with a super fancy banquet where I met a bunch of Arianna’s friends. We still went to bed early (well, not so early to my eastern time self!) so we could get an early start. Not that I was excited or anything.

The park was super crowded since it was a Saturday, but we got to ride a ton of rides. We made it on almost all of my favorites: Indiana Jones (i got driver’s seat in the jeep!), Storybook Boats, Alice, the Tower of Terror, and Pirates. We missed out on Splash Mountain, because for some reason it was closed for most of the day, and the entire Matterhorn was down for ultra-maintenance as you can see on the left. So Sad! The lines were long, but we hadn’t seen each other in a long time, so we had plenty to talk about.

I hadn’t been to Disneyland in nearly four years – probably one of the longest Disney dearths in my lifetime. So for me it was simply magical to walk through the streets, listen to the music, and eat Mickey ice cream bars. And, coming from a Cleveland February, seeing the sun was pretty magical as well.

What amazed me the most, though, is how much love my 22-year-old self has for this place. Disneyland contains a timeless joy, a simple sense of wonder that can be appreciated by both large and small. It is truly an incredible place. And, more than anything, I want to be an intern for them.

Here is a list of 5 things, in no particular order, that I would love my fictional Disneyland boss to say to me:

  1. Sam, Little Japan on the Small World ride has a hole in her sleeve. Can you go stitch that up?
  2. Hey, Monstro needs a new coat of paint. Can you climb up there and take care of that?
  3. We need help designing costumes for the new parade – do you have any ideas, Sam?
  4. There are 1,000 burned out lightbulbs on the Electric Light Parade floats… that’s a good job for an intern!
  5. Sam, program this bird so his mouth moves in time to the music.

I think I have a lot of skills that Disneyland would appreciate. I also think my passion for the place would carry me through jobs as tedious as #4. But I digress.

Monstro the whale - storybook boats ride at disneyland

On Sunday, Arianna gave me a tour of the USC campus – what a fancy place! We ate delicious frozen custard at Manhattan Beach, and, listening to the sounds of the ocean, I got to walk along the waves’ edge as night fell. I had my first ever In-n-Out burger experience, which was awesome, and then it was time to go back to the airport. I waved goodbye, thanked Arianna, and wished her luck for Monday (it was supposed to rain! how terrible.)

manhattan beach at night

And then, standby travel lost a fraction of its glitter. There was no room for me on my 11:30pm flight back to Cleveland, so I spent the night in LAX while maintenance men power drilled screws into every wall near my perch. When morning finally came, I made it onto a 6am flight that connected through Dulles – I even got to go to my house for an hour! Surprise!

But regardless of the miserable night in the airport, and my absence from class and work on Monday – the trip was beyond worthwhile. I saw Arianna, who reminded me that I have a friend all the way across the country who is awesome and hilarious and cares about me. I saw the sun, which reminded me of its cheerful existence in times and places other than Cleveland February. And I went to Disneyland, which reminded me that it is my favorite place of all places.