Slow is the New Fast – part 2.

9 Jun

So I pretty much DID wear my new vow-breaking tshirt every day right after I got it.

  • I wore it to lunch with my ex-work husband, who was completely perplexed by it — I promised him I’d explain everything in the blog eventually. (You’re welcome, Joe!)
  • I wore it on a date with a dude who completely failed to understand it and tried to go with the “faster is better” approach — he did not get a second date
  • I wore it to my bike shop, where I received a mix of high-5s and quizzically raised eyebrows — the eyebrow raisers are all notorious douchebag snobs
  • I did NOT wear it when I really, really wanted to, though, because it was in the laundry after so many repeat wearings…

Where did I fail to wear this treasure?

At the place most people deem to be The Second Happiest On Earth (and I generally deem to be my own personal hell): Disney’s California Adventure.

Last year, my sister had the good idea that we should allow everyone to choose whether they wanted to receive actual, physical Christmas presents or “excursions” from/with the gift-giver instead. Her kids chose excursions from me, as did my mom. I gave the kids a book of 1,000 things to do in LA and Orange Counties, which included several dozen yellow stickies indicating places I’d be willing to take them. They get to choose, but I get some control (i.e., I can –and specifically did— exclude Disneyland and all other theme parks). Everybody wins! Ultimately they chose (somewhat inexplicably) Exposition Park. Huh. Ok. A park in the  ‘hood. Whatever you want, kids!

For my mom, I drew a picture of us and wrote a poem that riffed on ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, which basically said: I know you love Disneyland more than anything in the entire world and even though it is my own deep personal hell, I will go there with you. She immediately broke into tears (of joy, naturally) and I emphatically “won” family gift giving for the year. haha! Sorry, sisters!

Anyhow … last weekend we did a double whammy. I took the kids to Expo Park all day on Saturday (highlights included: the butterfly pavilion, “swimming with dolphins” in a simulator ride, riding a bike on a high-wire ~4 stories up in the air, sharing a giant pickle in the rose garden, watching the IMAX Hubble 3D movie, eating astronaut ice cream, and stopping by my bike shop to pick up bags of bacon jerky — yes, the kids love bacon, too).IMG_7889

By the time we got to mom’s on Saturday night, we were pretty tuckered out, but we were up-and-at-’em first thing on Sunday because we were going to Disneyland!

Or, really, its step-sister park: California Adventure. Mom’s “excursion” gift to the kids was to take them to BOTH parks (crazy, I know. What I *don’t* know is how we are related…) and although my excursion gift to mom was to go with her to Disneyland, proper, she asked if I’d be willing to help her with California Adventure, instead, because she was less confident about her ability to handle the kids on all of the rides (she’s got bum knees, uses a cane, and has a hard time getting into and out of various vehicles). I reminded her that I’m not allowed to ride roller coasters. She assured me that no one would be interested in riding California Screamin’ and then she reminded me that California Adventure sells beer.

Count me in for a family excursion to California Adventure!

I knew that the day would be full of challenges for me — cacophonous noises, ignorant people, maddening crowds, massive and unpredictable sensory inputs, etc. These things were all super highly annoying even BEFORE my brain bashing. Post-brain bashing, however, such things weren’t merely “annoying,” they were (are) extreme visceral challenges with real physiological impacts. Luckily (?) I’d learned several attention focus, deep breathing, and mindfulness techniques during my neuro-therapy courses and I began practicing them as soon as we got in the car.

By the time we arrived to the park, I had managed to put myself into a very zen-like, blissed-out, inwardly focused, non-perturbable state. As if from afar, I observed that we were surrounded by clawing, cloying, clueless crowds of crazies, but I did not actually perceive them — they were distant from me. I was the eye of the storm. They swirled around me, but they did not affect me. If I hadn’t taken pictures of them (to prove to myself that they did, in fact, exist — in mind boggling numbers) I would’ve sworn to you that the park was virtually empty that day.

How can that be, Z? I’m sure you had to wait for at least a couple hours for the Cars® ride, right? That thing is always packed…. 

Indeed it was, dear Reader. Indeed, it was…


But, my mom has even more magic than that which comes from my mindfulness meditation powers (which are, in fact, quite magical, if I do say so myself).

My mom’s magic is derived from her cane, Charlie (yes, mom named her cane, just like I name my bikes. What can I say? We love our conveyance devices!). You can see Charlie featured here with me, the nieces, and Doc McStuffins:

Charlie, CZ, Doc & the niecesI honestly have no idea why Charlie is with me instead of mom. Maybe I traded my camera to mom for him?

I DO know why I wanted this picture though: (1) Doc McStuffins is far-and-away my favorite Disney character, (2) there was only a very short line to be photographed with her, (3) that line was in the shade, (4) waiting in a photo line seemed like a good way to forestall waiting in a ride line, and (5) I thought that the colors of all our clothes/costumes would look nice against the background.

Turns out, I was right on 4 out of 5 of those reasons. What I failed to appreciate is that our line-up for the Doc McStuffins photo op, which clocked in at something like 9 minutes, was actually THE LONGEST LINE we’d wait in all day, despite the fact that the park was “officially packed” that day.

Why? How? and Wha’ tha? You ask…

It’s Charlie. Charlie is magic.

Mom totters like a turtle and wobbles like a weeble, but Charlie holds her steady AND he allows us to bypass the lines. We’d walk (slowly) to a green “guest services” umbrella and say what ride we’d like to go on. The attendant would say: “The current wait time is 105 minutes.” Clearly, mom cannot stand in line for 105 minutes, but the kids REALLY want to go on the Cars® ride, so Mom hands over her Charlie pass, the attendant writes down a time that is 105 minutes from now and when that time arrives, we present the Charlie pass to the ride attendant and wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, we are directly escorted to our ride conveyance device with full credit for “waiting” for 105 minutes! Yes!

Sometimes we’d use those 105 minutes to grab lunch. Sometimes we go see a show, or futz around in the Animation Academy. Sometimes we’d jam through a line/ride that had a <10-min wait. Sometimes we would just sit in the shade and enjoy an ice cream (or a beer, as the case may be). Whatever. It didn’t matter. We just couldn’t get on our Charlie pass ride until after the 105 minutes had elapsed and we could only have one Charlie pass item “open” at a time, so we couldn’t really exploit the system, but we sure were able to be maximally efficient within it! And —more importantly from my perspective— we generally avoided being trapped within the teeming throngs.

Three Cheers for Charlie!

Three Wahoos for Weeble-Wobble Mom!

She totters like a turtle and we LOVE her for it.

Take your time, mom.

Slow is the new fast…

Parting Thought: You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you. ~Walt Disney

One Response to “Slow is the New Fast – part 2.”

  1. Nicole June 10, 2014 at 3:49 am #

    What a great story of making through a theme park–slowly and enjoyably!

    Why is Doc McStuffins your favorite? 🙂

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