Valentine’s Day weekend was not the landmark holiday I had been looking forward to as it was previously. It was best to keep myself occupied and avoid Party of One status at any of my favorite spots in Long Beach. Instead, I filled my weekend with a variety of sports-related activities and explore more of California.
Friday: After the office closed, I had enough time to run home and grab a sweatshirt and withdraw a few dollars for some wholesome college fun. Evenings are chilly in Long Beach, sometimes dropping below 60 degrees. I waited in line at the ticket window and made it to my seat inside Blair Field during the top of the first inning for the contest between Michigan and Long Beach State. Friday was the official Opening Day for NCAA Baseball. I had good seats behind home plate and enjoyed the atmosphere with 2000+ fans. Being at a baseball game in person is best for people watching and observation: Michigan families traveled from Ann Arbor to enjoy the long weekend on the coast. Promotional staff crammed activities in between innings to recapture spectators attention. Two students behind me spent the game discussing their favorite super hero movies and whether or not Pete Rose was still alive. It wasn’t a crisply played game as Long Beach coaxed twelve walks from Wolverines pitchers. But it felt good to be back at the ballpark, albeit on the wrong side of the backstop. I do not miss playing February flurry-filled games in the frigid Midwest. The Dirtbags won 3-2 thanks to errant Michigan pitching and an escape from a bases loaded, nobody out jam in the seventh inning.
Saturday: I knew I would have my hands full on this day, beginning with an outdoor practice for my youth basketball team. We had a better turnout, with seven players on hand and a little brother willing to participate throughout practice. Unfortunately, basic drills such as three-man weave and 3-on-2, 2-on-1 were nearly impossible to explain and we instead went back to other familiar concepts.
After practice, I headed north to Westwood and the UCLA campus for the Bruins game against the Oregon Ducks at Pauley Pavillion. The short twenty-five mile drive on the 405 became a 70-minute adventure as drivers hit the brakes to admire the fender bender in the car-pool lane. After beating the back-up and navigating the parking garage, I found my seat at the eight-minute mark of the first half. Thankfully, I was there in time to witness Norman Powell‘s impressive finish through the heart of the Oregon defense. UCLA would go on to win 72-63 in a game between two closely matched Pac-12 teams fighting to make the NCAA Tournament
Sunday: It is an amazing thing to roll out of bed Sunday morning and be greeted by Chicago Blackhawks hockey. Puck-drop was at 9:30am Pacific Time, perfect to transfer from bed to the couch with a yogurt granola parfait. Illinois vs Wisconsin was featured on the national CBS broadcast and helped fill time at intermission.
The afternoon was for my Lakers postseason debut in Whittier against a team from the San Diego area. While details are not yet determined, our team was at the wrong location and did not arrive to the correct gymnasium until the pregame clock expired, forcing us to forfeit the game. It was a rotten feeling to have let the kids and parents down and somehow distributed incorrect information. Perhaps learning the three-man weave is no less difficult than deciphering basketball tournament rules and information.
UPDATED Best Friend List (California Version)
- Christine – Owner/Manager at Bon’s Dry Cleaning; She somehow knows my name and remembers to greet me as “ANDY!” every time I bring an overstuffed bag full of button downs for light starch and press.
- Random Employee at Nekter; First sign that I am converting to Californian is addiction to smoothies and cold-pressed juices. These delicious concoctions are my only method of ingesting fruits and vegetables, and the friendly girls at the Market Place location may be picking up on the fact that I am becoming a regular patron.
- Zoey – Barber at Floyd’s 99; I wasn’t joking when I said I have had my haircut more often than I’ve done the dishes since moving. My (gray) hair grows quickly and most meals are dined-out or upon paper plates at home. And there is that issue of not having a dishwasher and a kitchen faucet with the water pressure of a dollar store squirt gun. Zoey skyrocketed up the rankings thanks to squeezing me into the late day schedule and sharing plenty of food & drink related local knowledge.
- The Handyman – He was covered in an earlier entry. How far the mighty has fallen down the list from original BFF stature after moving to the West Coast. The minor apartment issues have been resolved and those others still remaining are barely noticeable.
- California Sunset(s) – I am a sucker for the California coastline and racing to beat the sun to take a photo before it disappears into the ocean. My Camera Roll is a bunch of sun filled winter photos from Long Beach, Santa Monica, Huntington Beach, etc…
The Bloody History of the Barber Pole
Red and white striped, sometimes with a bit of blue, a barber pole twisting next to a small storefront signifies a place where men can get a haircut, a shave and a bit of masculine bonhomie. But this was not always the case. Back in the day, the red and white we associate with good grooming used to represent blood, bandages, leeches and pain.
(Full Entry HERE via Today I Found Out)