Saturday, May 22, 2010

Inspiration Point

Before work on Friday, my friend Caroline and I hiked up to Inspiration Point. Since the fires, white morning glory like flowers have taken over the entire hillsides creating this speckled white look.
The view from Inspiration Point is quite....well....inspiring! 
Those trees are black because they got blasted by flames during the fires. Now, mustard plants and so much more grows all around it creating a great contrast between the darkness of death and the brightness of life. Beautiful.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Another World

Inhale. Exhale.
Inhale. Exhale.
BREATHE! For goodness sake don’t forget to BREATHE!

On land you don’t even think about it. Under water it’s a whole other story. How on earth does one forget to breath?

During my first few dips in the Anacapa Dive Center pool I slowly started to realize that breathing underwater was one of the most amazing things I had every experienced. Being able to be weightless, slowly moving around with only the sound of your breath is a wonderful feeling. There’s no talking, no empty words or phrases, no cell phones ringing, nothing but your inhale and exhale. I laugh now at how scared I was before taking the scuba class and of diving in the pool.

I had the same fear before diving in the ocean for the first time. Back in March I took my first boat trip to Anacapa Island to do my first dives. Leaving at 7am from Ventura Harbor we headed for the islands under a cloudy sky. I spent most of the time outside looking back at the coast and chatting with the cast of characters also on the boat – a bunch of men who have dived hundreds of times. They eased my stress and talked about their adventures diving all over the world and always came back to how amazing diving off our coast is.

Before I knew it, I was all geared up and giant stride out and plouf! into the water I went. Though the weather had become sunny, the water was real chilly, but I was not thinking about how cold I was. The signals were given: Okay? Begin descent. And down the anchor line we went.

A sense of calm enveloped me. My fears were no more. Scuba diving is like going to a different planet. There is a different landscape, animals function totally differently, there is constant movement, light and colors come out different, and so many other things! You are totally engrossed by this new environment. Megan, my instructor, pointed things out to me like neon purple and orange blobs and little creatures that Dr.Seuss must have gotten inspiration from. Before I knew it, it was time for our ascent. With a 3 minute safety stop at 15 feet I then resurfaced totally in awe.

2 more times I dove that day. The 3rd dive was in a nature preserve and let me tell ya, there are way more things to see there. It’s like they know they are protected there. What an amazing feeling to look a Sheephead fish in the eyes and sway, back and forth, with the sea grass and the kelp. Did I mention the Garibaldi fish? Oh, those guys in their bright orange suits. (Photos by Megan O'Meara)

The boat ride back was rough as the wind and the rain picked up. I stood by the door the whole trip, trying to keep fresh air on my face as others slept inside. Back at the harbor, in the rainy darkness, we all lugged our heavy bags and tanks to our cars and went our separate ways.

I was tired and hungry for days afterwards and could hardly find words to describe my adventure for quite some time. It took me a good month to truly digest this experience.

And this morning I did my 4th dive and am now a certified diver! From the shores of Butterfly Beach, my buddy and I waddled into the ocean backwards and clumsily swam out passed the buoys. We did a 30 minute dive at around 20 feet in surprisingly good visibility for that area and saw crazy looking crabs and beautiful lilac colored starfish. All this before going to work!

Come to think of it, focusing on your breath is a good idea on land too…

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lovely sunset after an invigorating run. Gotta love Santa Barbara...

Rock On!

Arriving fashionably late, Jeff and I leisurely walked through the "safety" point, got our hot pink bracelets allowing us to drink alcohol, and hiked up to the Santa Barbara Bowl to see 30 Seconds to Mars. Most of the crowd was dressed in black, many in skinny jeans ripped or zippered, and others in huge sweatshirts. Black dominated the color scheme. My chucks fit right in. The differences in age also struck me. There were kids as young as 5 or 6 and people in their 70's and everything in between.

Beers in hand we found our seats 4 rows back in the first seated section right above the standing area for general admission. A band came on called the Neon...Neon somethings who were loud. Thank goodness for neon earplugs provided to us. As we sat there waiting for the main band we'd come to see, I people watched. Prime spot for it too. Young girls decked out in their skinny jeans, slightly torn shirts and sunglasses. Young guys in baggy sweatshirts and baseball caps. The mothers of the young girls keeping an eye on their innocent daughters. What a wonderful thing though, all those mom's came out and rocked out as if they were totally into the music as well. This was no piano concert.

Sitting in front of us was a mother, father, and their young son who was probably 6 or so. The dad was clearly and still looks like a rocker with his long hair, sweatshirt, and jeans. The mom had sunglasses on and a leather jacket, but seemed like she was once more crazy than she is today. In the middle sat their son with his black skull and bones covered hat. The opening band had a very intense and inspired drummer and this young boy started to imitate the drumming movements, moving his little hands up and down in the air playing air drums with a surprising amount of rhythm. 

After much build up, at last, 30 Seconds to Mars. The crowd cheered and the girls screamed their heads off for just one glimpse of Jared Leto (the singer of 30 Seconds to Mars). For those who don't know, or who may have forgotten as I had, Jared Leto was a big movie and TV star back in the 90's AND that A. I had not realized he was in a rock band and B. I had totally forgotten that I had a total crush on this guy way back when! The man who once was scruffy cute with his innocent face and shy smile was now a skinny pant with zipper below the knees wearing - hot pink mohawked - crazy dancing yelling/singing machine!

The kid in front of me instantly hid his head into his mother's arm as the band blasted their music and yelled into their mics. Dad came to the rescue with earplugs, thank goodness. It took a few songs to get him energized again.

A few songs into it, several of the band members started just playing guitar calmly on stage. People around me started screaming and I didn't realize what they were screaming at till I saw him. There he was, not ten feet away!!! Jared Leto came into the audience and stood between the seats and the pit and from there sang by himself with his guitar, all sorts of favorites. I don't know if he did this because he could since the SB Bowl is small and it was not a sold out show or if he was not able to belt out songs anymore since he had some sort of cold going on. Either way, what a blast! Pink Mohawk shining under the lights, he and the entire audience sang together one of their biggest hits. It's not the most romantic song, well, it's an angry song really. I usually belt it out while in my car. There is something so wonderful about singing with hundreds of people...even a song like this.

After what I would call almost a stand up routine, he asked the pit audience to make a 4 foot tunnel, like Moses spreading the sea apart. He took his guitar off and the band started up again and he just belted out that song we had all sung together and rushed through this said tunnel up to the stage. Technically, he got stuck a bit before it since everyone crowded in, but he still sang his way through it as a true rocker does. Back on stage, he began inviting people up and before he knew it, the stage was packed! Along with the Santa Barbara High School choir who had sung with one song and the SBHS drumline were at least 30 others. He seemed to just feed off this energy and the chaos that this created. Bouncing around the stage, he sang away his voice and the crowd bounced up and down arms flailing. 

When buying the tickets I had no idea what to expect. Seeing the opening band I thought this is going to be a loud evening. And then it all turned out to be a unique experience. Never had I seen such a variety of people all here for different reasons. Some dreaming of Jared Leto of yesteryear and others pumped to see the rock group he sings in and even more others who weren't quite sure what they were getting themselves into. Either way everyone seemed to have a grand old time. And for me, it took me back to long ago and back to the present. Seeing him reminded me of being an impressionable, young girl and also of being at one point a brokenhearted woman belting out their songs in my car. Totally unexpected and totally welcomed. Rock on!