The Sonia Show

Writer. Podcaster. Beer drinker. Old movie watcher. Mother. Goober.

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Oh hi, I missed you

Yeah, so, I know. I KNOW! I’ve been so busy podcasting that I’ve been ignoring my first love, this blog. I’m so sorry about that. If it makes you feel any better, I ignore Facebook, too. Does that help?

Other things I ignore: laundry, the books on my nightstand, good advice, red flags – I could go on and on.

So anyway, I’ve got a few podcasting updates …

What a Creep is really catching on, which is super exciting! My podcasting sister from another mister Margo and I just wrapped season one! We covered a lot of creeps, including Lance Armstrong, Elizabeth Holmes, Newt Gingrich, Ted Bundy, OJ Simpson, Rosanne Barr, Mel Gibson, Bill Maher, Chevy Chase and Piers Morgan.

Each episode ends with someone who is not a creep, so you won’t feel like everything is awful when you’re finished listening. We’ve got a bunch of awful creeps lined up for season two, so stay tuned.

Dorking Out is expanding its audience every month. We’ve had some really fun guests, including Dana Buckler, the host of “The Dana Buckler Show,” and Erika Bromley from F This Movie!

We’ve dorked out about “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Sliding Doors,” “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar,” “Creed,” “Speed,” “Do The Right Thing” and “Twister.” Seriously, we’re having a blast! If you’re not listening, you should.

I’ve got other updates for you, too …

My mighty, mighty good boy Calvin is having the best summer ever. He did a few weeks of the extended school year, and now he’s doing a month of summer camps through the Parks & Rec department. Leslie Knope would be proud.

We took a family vacation the week of July 4! We spent a night at the Madonna Inn, which has the best pool ever. It has a massive shallow end and the deep end is only 5 feet. Calvin’s swimming gets better and better every time we go. I really think swimming is going to be his thing. Oh, and the pool has a bar. Duh.

Then we spent a few nights in a house in Cayucos with good buddies Beegs, Sass and Levi, which was supa dupa fun.

Then my mighty, mighty good man David, Calvin and I went to Pismo Beach for a few days. We visited Figueroa Mountain Brewing, Libertine Brewing and. Barrel Works

And, we went to Solvang so Calvin could see the windmills. #FanofFans

AND THEN, we went back to the Madonna Inn on the Fourth of July and stayed in a cave, so we didn’t have to hear fireworks. Calvin doesn’t like the sound of fireworks. And yes, we literally saved in a cave.

So anyway, I will update more often. I promise.

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Buh bye, 2017

Yeah, so, this year hasn’t been awesome.

We have a sexual predator in the White House, and – with the help of an enabling GOP – he is attacking this country’s most vulnerable citizens, including the sick, elderly, disabled and immigrants. It’s disgusting and depressing as fuck. It fills me with rage.

I have donated money to organizations and candidates who are helping people and fighting for what’s right. I’ve been calling my reps, and occasionally reps in other districts since their votes affect me. I do what I can handle, and it makes me feel a little less helpless.

BUT, I wanted to focus on some good things that happened this year in the MansTracy household.

My mighty, mighty good boy Calvin started kindergarten, and he is flourishing. He’s so happy, and he’s learning so much. His language skills have improved by leaps and bounds.

I got a new job … kinda. The big corporate overload moved me from the Oakland office where I was the lone content person from the past 8 years to the San Francisco office to join the content team. And instead of just working on content for one brand, I will be working on the content with the team on all the brands. I’m really excited and nervous. Writing is in my comfort zone. Thinking big picture is outside my comfort zone. But, I’m down to expand my skillset. Plus, I super love being in the SF office. Not only has it cut my commute in half (and I’m taking BART instead of driving), but I absolutely adore my content coworkers. They are fuckin’ rad as hell.

I got on an airplane all by myself for the first time ever. True story. I met up with my mighty, mighty good man David in Portland after his work trip. We had a great time exploring the city, which is swimming in vegan options for me and beer for both of us. Plus, we got to see our friends Caitlin and Kirk, which made the trip even more awesome.

I got to go to Washington, DC to see my good buddy Katie and her husband Nathan. I finally got to see their house, and we spent some awesome time together walking around the Newseum, going to a Nationals game and sitting on the couch watching YouTube videos, because that’s how we roll.

We went to Santa Cruz again this year for our little family vacation, and we had an amazing time. Calvin has been asking to go back pretty much every day since we got back.

I started baking bread this year. I have always wanted to bake my own bread, but I thought it was too difficult and too time consuming. I found a perfect bread baking book: “Bread Illustrated” from America’s Test Kitchen.

My sister Michelle and my sister from another mister, Amanda, did a spa day at the Sonoma Mission Inn. We got massages and lounged by the pool with drinks. It was heaven.

I went to Bourbon & Branch for David’s birthday, and I discovered that I like gin. That’s a good thing.



My 15-year-old (!) niece Lorelei came out for the weekend, and we saw “IT” at the Alamo Drafthouse. Lorelei is a Tiny Sonia, so I knew she would love the Alamo Drafthouse. We had so much fun hanging out together. I was scared to see “IT.” I thought it was really fuck me up, but it turns out that I loved being scared about something other than the news.

After our weekend together, I went on a scary movie watching spree. It turns out I love horror movies! Funny enough, I’ve been listening to F This Movie for years, and the host Patrick Bromley is always taking about horror movies. Now I have the courage to actually watch all those movies he’s talking about.

Speaking of podcasts, Dorking Out with Chris & Sonia is still going strong. We recorded a podcast every week, except for one week. Even dorks need a week off once in a while. Super-big, mad props to my co-host Smith for keeping us on schedule, and all the work he does recording the podcast. Oh, and we got this amazing new logo by Jeff Heerman.

I’ll end this post with what everyone wants to see: Dog and cat cuddling action!

Happy New Year, you guys! Let’s hope that 2018 is chrome and shiny.

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Beach Talk

Yeah, so, we are back from our annual family trip to Santa Cruz.

In the past there was a big group of us, but this year it was just the three of us – just us MansTracys. The truth is we always end up doing our own thing anyway. My mighty, mighty good boy Calvin usually has his own autistic agenda, and it involves finding all the ceiling fans in the area. It definitely doesn’t involve going on roller coasters at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which is fine by me. I don’t want to ride that stuff, either.

We started our trip with a stop at the Roaring Camp Railroads to ride the steam train. If you have a kid who loves trains, this is a must-do. The steam train winds its way through a redwood forest and stops by Bear Mountain, where everyone can get out and do some exploring.

Come on, ride the train.

Two bumps on a log.

When in Santa Cruz we like to stay at the Dream Inn, because we’re so fuckin’ fancy. Actually, I’m pretty sure we’re the opposite of fancy, but we do love staying there. It’s right on the beach, and it’s got a heated swimming pool. Every morning we order room service for breakfast and eat on the balcony.


After breakfast, we usually walk the wharf, stopping into every shop and restaurant that has a ceiling fan. We usually tell the hostess, cashier, etc., what we’re doing and why. “He’s autistic, and he loves ceiling fans.” I realize that we don’t have to tell them, but I think it’s a good idea. This way, if another autistic person comes in, they will recognize it. Maybe it’s a silly thing to do, but I think it helps raise awareness.

We walked the wharf a few times a day, so all the employees in the shops and restaurants started to recognize us, and they always had a smile for Calvin. He’s really into naming shapes right now, so we walked the wharf and listed shapes: “square, circle, oval, rectangle, parallelogram, rhombus, star, arrow, heart.”

After we walked the wharf, we would go to the beach. We had a great time just playing in the waves and walking along the beach. During one trip to the beach, Calvin and I held hands and walked along the water until we ran out of beach. I got a little teary. The two of us have faced a lot of challenges in the past few years. Calvin received his autism diagnosis about the same time I was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. But here we were, walking on the beach together – healthy and happy.

Beach boy.

After the beach, we would head to the pool. Calvin loves to be in the water, and he’s getting braver and braver. He’s been working on his dog paddle, which he calls “dog piddle.” The Dream Inn has a nice pool. It’s packed with families, and there’s a bar (beer!) and a taco stand.

Pool boys.

One afternoon, we were in the pool, and employees came around and told us that we needed to get out because they had to clean the pool. It turned out someone dropped a turd off at the pool.

“Hmm, maybe setting up a taco stand next to the swimming pool wasn’t the Dream Inn’s smartest decision,” I told David.

“Mr. Hanky decided to go for a swim, too,” David replied. “Howdy ho!

Some folks nearby overheard David, and they started cracking up and talking about Mr. Hanky. It wasn’t long until we could hear the Mr. Hanky impressions going around the pool.

So, yeah, that was pretty gross. And I was so, so, SO thankful our kid wasn’t responsible.

We did walk through the Beach Boardwalk one day, but Calvin didn’t like it. He thought it was too loud, which was a change from last year. He loved walking through the boardwalk last summer, looking at the lights and watching (but never riding) the rides.

This year, he was more interested in watching the boardwalk from the comfort of our room. He referred to the boardwalk as “hockey island.” “Hockey Island is too loud.” “Oh, Hockey Island is closed.” Pretty impressive “Inside Out” reference.

We also hit a few Santa Cruz breweries, including Seabright Brewery, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing and Humble Sea Brewing Company.  We got the Easy Money IPA and Blur IPA from Seabright. Very drinkable and perfect for the beach. I had the Devout Stout, because I’ve been drinking a lot of IPA lately, and I was ready for something dark. It was delicious, but the real winner was David’s Dread Brown Ale. We got a couple of growler-cans to go. On our way out of Santa Cruz, we stopped at Humble Sea. I got a stout based on Girl Scout thin mint cookies, and David got a northeast-style IPA, and both were pretty good. I was really impressed with all three places. They were terrific, comfortable spaces that were all dog and kid friendly. I’m always surprised by how kid-friendly other restaurants and breweries are outside of San Francisco. Other cities recognize that human beings have children, and that’s a part of life. San Francisco would prefer you get a sitter. Personally, I think some of the breweries in San Francisco could learn something from the ones in the East Bay and beyond. Children are a part of life. Get with the program.

So anyway, we had an awesome time on our trip, but it was nice to come home. We missed our animals. Toby spent the week with my mom. She told me that he really missed me, and he spent a lot of time staring longingly out the window. Our neighbor took care of Kubo for us. She said she’s not really a cat person, but Kubo has won her over. Kubo did the same thing with David. I think it’s her super power.

One of the smart things we planned with this vacation is we got back on Thursday, so we have Friday, Saturday and Sunday to recover. Most of the time, after a vacation, we feel like we need another vacation to recover from our vacation.

I’m so glad my double chin decided to photobomb our nice family pic.

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The Sonia Show Goes To Washington

Yeah, so, I went to Washington, D.C., to see two of my favorite people, Katie and Nathan.

Sadly, the second I walked off the plane I lost my voice, because of course I did. I fly across the country to visit one of my best friends so we can catch up, and I lose my voice. Figures.

I think being that close to Predator Trump; that much evil; my body just couldn’t deal with it. Maybe my body was trying to save me. “Oh no! She’s in the same city as that piece of shit. She’s going to say something and get us all killed, so let’s shut it down. Shut the whole thing down!”

Of course, we didn’t let my lack of voice stop us from catching up, and Katie and Nathan are awesome hosts. If you’re ever in DC, I highly recommend you stay with them. They are way better than some hotel or Air BnB.

We went to a Nationals vs. Reds game on Friday night, which was my first-ever visit to a ballpark that wasn’t A’s or Giants. I wore my Giants hat and booed Bryce Harper the best I could considering I had no voice. I also ran into some other Giants fans there, which – once again – was just me pointing at my hat and their hats and giving the thumbs up, because no voice.

On Saturday, Katie and I spent the entire day at the Newseum, because it’s my favorite. I could have spent an entire second day in the Newseum. There is so much to read, watch and listen to. There’s a really terrific exhibit now called “Louder Than Words,” which is about music, activism and politics. The Newseum doesn’t appear to be a big fan of Predator Fake News. There are a lot of stories and photos about President Obama. I think that Newseum is preaching to the choir, though. I seriously doubt Predator Trump voters are going to the Newseum anyway. Yeah. I said it.

Also, while in DC, we had lunch at a yummy vegan restaurant, Fare Well. I got the vegan Reuben and a cookie dough milkshake, and it was heaven.

We also got some beer, because – duh – of course we did. These are MY FRIENDS we’re talking about. We went to Brookland Pint, which had a great selection of local beer on tap, so I could taste them all.

It was so great to see Katie and Nathan. They are such awesome, smart people. I wish we at least lived in the same state. That would be awesome.

By the way, it’s hot as fuck in DC, and humid. Here’s actual footage of me in DC.


So, at the end of my trip, I filmed a little video so you guys could hear how awful my voice was.


BUT, here’s the thing: It actually got worse. I got sicker and sicker on the flight home. By the time I got home I had no voice at all (it was just a whisper). I was coughing and congested, and I had a fever. Wheeee. I’ve been sick for three days! I’ve been so sick that I haven’t even been back to work yet. I wasn’t even well enough to work from home, because that would have involved sitting up. Writing this blog post is the longest I’ve sat up in a while, and as you can tell by how well it is written, that wasn’t very long.

So yeah, I had a really great trip. This was my first big trip away from my mighty, mighty good man David and my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin. I’ve had an overnight trip once or twice away from both of them, and David and I have gone on trips together while Calvin stays with my mom. But, this was the first trip in which David and Calvin were on their own for four days. Unsurprisingly, they had a great time, but Calvin did come into our bedroom in the middle of the night and cry, and ask to sleep with David. He missed me.

Calvin was already asleep when I got home Sunday night, but the next morning I went into his room to say, “Good morning,” and he immediately shot up in his bed. “You’re back! You’re here! I missed you!” I almost cried. It’s nice to be missed.



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Weekend Getaway: Portland

Yeah, so, we went to Portland.

My mighty, mighty good man David had to go to Portland for work, so I flew up on Friday to meet him for a little weekend away. I left Calvin in the car in the parking lot at the airport. Don’t worry, I left the window cracked. I’m not a monster.

I kid. He stayed with my mom and had the best time ever. Grandma is his best friend.

So, yeah, I flew up to Portland, and I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but it was my first-time ever flying on a plane by myself. Also, I’m 46. I know, I know. It’s pretty ridiculous.

Look, Mom! I’m going to fly on the plane like a big girl.

I downloaded the new “Mystery Science Theater 3000” on my Kindle, and it turns out it was the perfect length for the flight. It ended right as we were landing. I was completely entertained and distracted the entire time.

We had an awesome time in Portland. It’s a great city. There was a ton of tasty beer and everywhere I went there was a variety of vegan options. And not just the “I guess I’ll get the fries and the salad” variety, but full-on vegan options. Even a divey bar would have nachos with a vegan cheese option. Heaven!

Our friend Caitlin showed us around on Friday, and we went to a vegetarian restaurant Harlow, where I discovered jalapeno cashew cheese that I will absolutely be trying to make myself. We also went to Breakside Brewery, where I had a couple of really good IPAs, Rainbows & Unicorns IPA and Lunch Break ISA. I also bought this rad hat, which David is modeling in this photo.

We also had dinner at a vegan restaurant, Blossoming Lotus, because David and Caitlin are nice people. I got the chickpea chana masala curry, because curry is one of my faves, and it was delicious. We ended the night with drinks at Horse Brass Pub with David’s friends Collin and Siri.

On Saturday, we went to Blue Star Donuts. Voodoo Doughnuts is super famous, but we were told repeatedly that Blue Star Donuts is a local favorite. We were not disappointed. David got the creme brulee donut, and I got a vegan blueberry one. Yummers!

After that, we went to 10 Barrel Brewing, and I had the milk stout, which was pretty darn good.

We had evening drinks with our friend Kirk and his girlfriend Emily at the White Owl Social Club, which is such an awesome place we didn’t really want to leave for our dinner reservations. But we’re so glad we did, because we had an amazing dinner at La Moule. As you can tell by the name, mussels are kinda their thing, so I decided to be a bad, BAD vegan for a meal and get the Korean mussels, which had miso, ginger, kimchi, garlic and sesame oil. It was good stuff. Honestly, I could have just eaten a loaf of crusty bread and dripped into the broth.

I can see why so many San Franciscans have moved to Portland. It’s very San Francisco-ish, except cleaner. Maybe that’s because of the rain?

We had such a good time. Big thanks to Caitlin for giving up her Friday to show us around, Collin and Siri for meeting us at Horse Brass, and Kirk and Emily for introducing us to the White Owl. Thanks, you guys!




Viva Las Vegas

Yeah, so, last year when I was doing chemo, I kept dreaming about a vacation. Not a big vacation. Just a little getaway. I could lounge by a pool, read magazines and sip a cool drink. Maybe I could get a massage, doing a little shopping. Fun stuff. It was my happy place that I would go to when things felt shitty.

Well, it’s finally happening! We’re leaving for Vegas on today.


My mighty, mighty good man David is traveling to Las Vegas for a work event, and I’m tagging along. He will have to work during the day, but our evenings will be open for some fun. During the day, I can relax. I’m so excited. We’re going to leave Calvin at home. He’s 5 now. I’m sure he can handle it. We will fill up the water bowls and leave out a couple of dishes with a lot of food – enough for five days. I kid. We’re going to drop Calvin and Toby off with my mom on Sunday, and we got a neighbor to watch the cat.

I haven’t been to Vegas in a really long time. The last time I went I think it was 2002. I won a “free cruise” at The Examiner holiday party. The “free cruise” was actually a $500 travel voucher, which I used to buy a two-night stay at Caesar’s Palace, which included two tickets to Elton John. It’s OK to be jealous. I was working at The Examiner, so I was super poor. I’m looking forward to going back as an adult with some spending cash (not that much, but more than the like $40 I gave myself to gamble with in 2002).

I also went to Vegas in 2000 or 2001 as part of a bachelorette party. I have two stories about that trip.

Story #1: We went to the Ghost Bar in the then-very cool Palms Hotel. We got in because we had a friend who worked for the hotel. The bar was filled with the beautiful people. I hated it there. I went up to the bar to order a drink, and the most gorgeous man tried to chat me up. I looked around the hidden cameras, because I was sure it was a joke. I even told him that before I practically ran away with my drink. Confidence: I didn’t have it.

Which leads to Story #2: We all felt uncomfortable at that bar. So we went to the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton (which I believe no longer exists and that’s just fuckin’ wrong!). There was a Star Trek-themed bar, and it was THE BEST. We had the best time. We were with our people.

I went to Vegas another time before that in maybe 1998 or 1999 with a bunch of dudes. There were two other girls on that trip: A girlfriend of one of my guy friends, and her friend. They graciously shared a room with me, because I was a lowly reporter for the Martinez News-Gazette and made (no joke) $213 a week. One night, the ladies said they were going to see the Cirque du Soleil show, O.

Me: “How much are the tickets?”
Them: “$100.”
Me: “What are you doing, guys?”
Them: “We’re going to a strip club. You can probably get in for free and drink for free.”
Me: “Looks like I’m going to the strip club.”

It was awkward. All the strippers wanted to dance for me. Probably because I’m not some gross dude that wants to grab them by the pussy. At one point I went to the restroom, but the restroom was also the strippers’ dressing room. They were in there getting dressed (or undressed) and doing cocaine. I said howdy to them and used the toilet. After I washed my hands, and one of them offer me a line.

“No, thank you,” I replied.

Stripper: “Would you like to use our lotion?”
Me: “Sure. Thank you very much.”

It was the sweetest smelling body lotion, and I think it had glitter in it. I went back to the guys and let them know that I smelled like a stripper.

So anyway, I know a lot of folks think Vegas is gross, but I think it’s going to be just what I need. I’ve been so depressed and angry about the election results. I think it will be really nice to unplug for five days and just relax. I’ll be sharing some photos, but I’m really going to try to stay off the social media channels. Don’t worry, though. I’ll come back relaxed and ready to fight the power or rage against the machine, or whatever.

In the meantime, I suggest you listen to the latest episode of “Dorking Out.” We share our top movie picks for the rest of the year in our Winter Movie Preview. We review “Arrival,” which I SUPER LOVE. And we even answer some listeners’ questions. Then we end the podcast with a really good discussion about the election. We talk about why it’s difficult to talk about politics and how we are all struggling with listening to each other. The discussion really helped me, and I think it might help other people, too. You should liste.

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Beach bums

Yeah, so, last weekend we went to Santa Cruz for some much-deserved fun.

My sister and her family go to Santa Cruz every year for three or four days. They’ve been going for years. They stay at a hotel near the boardwalk, and they just ride the rides, hit the beach and all that fun stuff. Other friends and family join them for a few days, but for years we didn’t go. We had other things going on or whatever. Last year, we went for a day trip, and we had a great time. This time, we decided to go for a few days.

But first, on our way to Santa Cruz, we visited Roaring Camp Railroad, which has a steam train. Apparently, for a few weeks out of the year, they dress up the train like Thomas the Tank Engine, and kids lose the fuckin’ shit for it, and it’s crowded as hell. We didn’t bother with that. Calvin just loves trains. It doesn’t matter if it’s Thomas or not. And when the steam train rolled up, Calvin’s mouth dropped. He was shaking he was so excited. It wasn’t a BART train. It wasn’t some little train at the zoo. It was a real train!


All of the really good photos are by mighty, mighty good man David


We booked a room at the Dream Inn in Santa Cruz because we’re so fancy. Also, David had points he could use to make it affordable. I love being near the water, and I love going to sleep to the sound of the ocean. This room had an ocean view and a heated pool (Calvin’s favorite). Calvin would wake in the morning and immediately ask, “Go to the pool?” It was Calvin heaven. It had an ocean view and room service, so it was my idea of heaven, too.


A view!

When we weren’t lounging in our fancy hotel room, swimming in the heated pool or ordering room service for breakfast (because we’re not animals, you guys), we were walking the boardwalk or hanging out on the beach with our family and friends.

She's my best friend and my sister.

She’s my best friend and my sister.

I don’t want to brag, but it was super fun. I thought Calvin might be overwhelmed by the boardwalk. It can be crowded and loud. There’s a lot going on, but he really liked looking around.


He had no interest in partaking of the rides, which is fine by me, because I don’t want to ride them either. I’m too old for roller coasters. They make me wanna puke. Also, I’m afraid they will cause me to die. But, Calvin loved walking up and down the boardwalk, especially at night with all the lights.

Unlike last year, in which he spent all his time sitting in a tide pool (or what I refer to as the seagull’s toilet), Calvin actually enjoyed playing in the sand this time. He loved smashing other people’s sand castles (bully!), and digging and filling up holes.


We even had some good luck getting him to sit down in a restaurant – after we bribed him with things like chocolate milk or ice cream. Plus, he was really hungry from all the sand castle smashing.


We had such an awesome time hanging out with everyone. And I love seeing Calvin playing with his cousins. After everything we went through last year, I know how much these moments mean to all of us. And Calvin is old enough know that he is going to start remembering these trips. He will say, “My family used to go to Santa Cruz every year. It was rad.” OK, maybe he won’t say “rad” but you get the idea.

I know Calvin had a good time, because within hours of being home Calvin said to us, “I want to go back to the beach.” And the next morning, he said, “I want to go to the pool.”

Same here, kid.


Life’s a beach or whatever

Yeah, so, every year my sister and her family go to Santa Cruz for a week.

I think they’ve been making the trip for nine years. Every year they ask me to join them, and every year I say no for various reasons (I don’t have the PTO at work; it’s too much work with a baby; I have cancer; I don’t want to). This year, even though I am undergoing chemotherapy, and that’s a perfectly acceptable reason to say no, I decided I was down for a day trip. Tuesday was Michelle’s birthday, and I really wanted to spend the day with her and her family, and I am tired of saying no to things. I’m ready to start saying yes again. Plus, I knew Calvin would have a really good time in the water.

So, we all slathered on so much sunblock we looked like a family of juggalos and drove to Santa Cruz. Unsurprisingly, Calvin found the Santa Cruz Boardwalk to be a little overwhelming and headed right toward the beach. Before we even got near the ocean, there was this large, well, puddle, I guess. It’s a really big puddle, long and wide – probably leftover from high tide. There were a lot of little kids playing it. It was almost like a kiddie ocean. Calvin ran right into it and plopped down with a great view of the roller coaster. He sat there for almost two hours. No joke. Two hours.


He played with the wet sand, splashed any seagulls that came near him and talked about how cool the roller coaster was. He was having a great time, so we put out a blanket nearby and hung out. Mighty, mighty good man David grabbed us some food and drinks, and we just chilled on the blanket for the afternoon. Michelle, Tony and the girls would leave to hit the rides and get food, and they would come back and see that Calvin was still just hanging out in the puddle.

Me and the birthday girl.

Me and the birthday girl.

Here’s the thing about that ginormous puddle. It was kinda gross. There were seagulls hanging out in it, and every once in a while the seagulls would take flight and take a dump in the water. I couldn’t stop thinking about this The Onion headline and laughing about it.



Ha ha! It’s funny because it’s true.

Calvin was just sitting the water and playing with the sand. But, there were other kids who was face down in that water and probably drinking it. So gross. Every once in a while I would go into the water and talk to Calvin, and I realized that – thanks to my lower while blood cell count – I was probably risking some nasty bacterial infection that I would have to explain to Kaiser.

“So, I was walking through this giant puddle of water and bird shit, and I got this nasty infection …”

Eventually, Lucy was able to lure Calvin out of the puddle to chase some birds.

Get those birds!

Get those birds! Tell them to stop shitting in the water.

So anyway, we had a really great time in Santa Cruz. We didn’t go into the ocean or spend a lot of time on the boardwalk, but maybe next year.

Oh, by the way, three more chemo treatments to go. Let’s dance!




Yeah, so, and now for the important stuff … the beer we drank on our vacation.

Our first brewery stop on our drive down the coast was El Toro Brewing Company in Morgan Hill. It wasn’t really part of our plan to check out this brewery. It just happened to be lunchtime, and we were near Morgan Hill, and I remembered there was a brewery in Morgan Hill.

El Toro has a really spicy beer on the beer list, but I was too afraid to try it, and I regret being such a pussy. Sorry. Instead, I had an oatmeal stout, because everyone knows an oatmeal stout in like 90-degree weather is awesome. Also, I didn’t take a photo of it, but I’m sure you can guess what a pint of oatmeal stout looks like.

Our next stop on our beer quest was Central Coast Brewing in San Luis Obispo. It was my birthday, so beer was required. It’s a smallish brewery. We can’t get their beer here in San Francisco, which is a bummer. We did a tasting flight, and as you can see from the photo, their tasting flight was a lot of beer.


We’ll have all the beer. Thanks, Central Coast Brewing in San Luis Obispo.

David and I split the flight, thankfully, because it was a lot of beer. David really loved the Catch 23, which is dark rye IPA, and Lucky Day, which is an IPA. My favorites were the Chai Ale, which is exactly what you think it is, and the bourbon barrel-aged oatmeal stout, because I am a complete sucker for those barrel-aged beers.

Oh, and be warned, they serve a big tasting flight, but there’s no food. Just bags of chips and stuff like that. So, if you go to the tasting room and you’re hoping to throw back some beer and eat, that’s not going to happen. However, there is a really good taqueria about a block up from the tasting room. We were pleased.

The next day we hit Firestone Walker Brewing. We were really excited to taste all their beer and watch the Giants game, BUT, they didn’t get FOX Sports 1, so there was no Giants game on. I know they don’t get FOX Sports 1, because it’s the first thing they told us when we walked through the door, because I was wearing my lucky Giants hat. Bummer.

It didn’t stop us from trying all the beer, though.


Firestone Walker Brewing – The Paso Robles Taproom & Restaurant

We started in the Firestone Walker Taproom Restaurant. I had a lot of favorites. I loved the Agrestic, which is a sour beer, and barrel-aged Velvet Merkin, because as I already mentioned, I’m a damn fool for barrel-aged beer. David loves their IPA, so their Double Jack was right up his alley.

After lunch, we moved to the tasting room next door, where I had the the Belgian quad Stickee Monkee. It reminds me of the Straffe Hendrik Quad I had in Belgium, which is one of my all-time favorite beers. I also had more the barrel-aged beer, because duh.

On Saturday, we went to Firestone Walker’s madlab, Barrelworks, which is where they create their experimental beers. In other words, it was a barrel-aged beer and sour beer. Sonia heaven!

Cool photo by David

Cool photo by David

We loved this place so much. I wanted to pack my bags and move in. There wasn’t a bad beer on the list. They were all complex and interesting and delicious. They had sour beer. They had bourbon barrel-aged beer. They had beer and wine blends. They had beer aged in wine barrels, beer aged in oak barrels. You guys, they had a tequila barrel-aged beer! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Tequila and I used to be really good friends, but we don’t talk anymore, because it always ended badly for me. The beer is called Velvet Añejo, and it’s amazing. Stupid tequila … I can’t stay mind at you.


Dark and light at Barrelworks.

David’s favorite at Barrelworks was probably the Bretta Weisse, a Berliner-style wheat beer. It was so light and refreshing. He was super disappointed that there were no bottles to buy.

So, Barrelworks was so great, which made Figueroa Mountain Brewing, our next stop, kind of a disappointment. We went from these complicated, tasty beers to just regular ol’ beer. David and I each got a tasting flight. David did the IPAs, and I went to the dark side. The IPAs were good, but the stouts and porters were a letdown. The Danish Red Lager was pretty OK, and coincidentally, that’s the beer that had just won the Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival that very day.


Figueroa Mountain Brewing.


I was disappointed in the beer, but the brewery seemed nice, and they had the Giants game on. Still, we didn’t stick around very long. Plus, it turned out at the Giants were playing the game that would never end. The game went 18 innings, and we watched and listened to it all day long.

So, that’s all the beer we drank on our vacation. Seems like a downer way to end this post, so I’ll just put this photo of me in my happy place here.


They don’t call it the Barrelworks for nothing.

If you want to read about all the other stuff we did on our vacation, click riiiight here. And if you can’t get enough of beer talk, you can follow me and mighty, mighty good man David on Untappd, where we rate all our beer all the time.


Everything you wanted to know about my vacation but were afraid to ask

Yeah, so, sleeping in was everything I remembered.

Mighty, mighty good man David and I have returned from our four-day vacation to San Luis Obispo, which is surrounded by lovely beaches and fabulous wineries – none of which we visited. So, if you were hoping for a blog post about wineries and sunburns, this isn’t the blog post for you. Instead, all we did was eat, drink beer and check our MLB apps to find out the score of the Giants games. Oh, and we spent quality time together and talked about our feelings blah blah blah.

OK, so, since I think everything in my life is so fascinating, and that you guys are just aching to know every detail, I’m breaking my vacation blog summary into two posts. This first post will be all food, the hotel and touchy-feely crap about how much I missed my Spawn. The second post will be the one about beer (i.e. the one you probably really care about). Sequels are always better than the originals, folks.

The first order of business for our vacation was to ditch The Kid, so we dropped him off with my mom. I was expecting tears, but instead he gave us a good-bye wave as he took Homer for walk with Grandma. My mom would later report to me that Calvin didn’t cry at all and that he didn’t ask about us. Umm, thanks? I didn’t cry like the last time I was away from Calvin for more than a day. I did, however, text my mom twice a day, and check Facebook more than I should in the hopes that she would post photos. And she did.

My mom took Calvin to visit his Great Grandma, and he decided her little garden pond is a great pool.

My mom took Calvin to visit his Great Grandma, and he decided her little garden pond is a great pool. FYI: He does not appear to have the West Nile virus … yet.

In San Luis Obispo, we stayed at the Madonna Inn, which is known for uniquely decorated rooms. For example, there’s a Caveman room. No, really, there’s a Caveman room. Since we were staying four nights, they recommended splitting up our stay, so we did two nights in the Barrel of Fun room, and two nights in the Old World room.

The Barrel of Fun room is big with a lot of natural light. It isn’t very wacky. There is a rock shower, and the walls are glittery. Also, that room boasts a heated toilet seat. Oh la la. Plus, it is a little more removed from the other rooms, so it was very quiet. It was a nice way to start our vacation.

Barrel of Fun room.

Nothing screams “Barrel of Fun room” like a lady sitting on a couch quietly reading “Gone Girl” on her Kindle while a lone balloon lingers above her head.

The Old World room is dark, and it’s mostly rock. There was a lot more noise. We could hear the people around us, but it wasn’t too bad. The room is so dark that I had no trouble sleeping. In fact, it was the room I slept best in, and I was able to sleep in, and it was heaven.

Old World room.

Old World room.

The Old World room has a waterfall rock shower, meaning the water trickles down the rocks for you to shower. I thought it was pretty cool, but I know the novelty would wear off pretty quick, and I’d crave a regular shower with modern-day water pressure after a few days. Still, it’s pretty nifty.

Both rooms are really nice, and it’s a comfortable hotel with excellent service, but I think I prefer the Old World room. Probably because it’s more wacky, and if you’re doing to stay at the Madonna Inn, you might as well go full wacky.

For my birthday on Thursday, we had got massages and then had dinner at the hotel steakhouse, because David knows how to spoil me.

Birthday dinner date!

Birthday dinner date!

The dinner was just OK, but the dessert was delicious. Everyone told me that I had to try the pink champagne cake. That’s the thing to get. Everyone was not wrong. It’s really, really good. In fact, all the baked goods are kind of amazing. We ate bear claws and cinnamon rolls every morning. One afternoon we ordered cake to-go and sat in the Old World room and stuff our faces listening to the Giants game on the MLB app, because we really know how to live.

The pink champagne cake is 3,457 Weight Watchers Points.

The pink champagne cake is 3,457 Weight Watchers Points.

We did a sunset tour of Heart Castle on Friday, which I highly recommend. I have never been to Hearst Castle, so I cannot compare the evening tours with the regular tours, but getting to see this mansion and its beautiful views at sunset was pretty damn awesome.

Amazing photo by mighty, mighty good man David.

Amazing photo by mighty, mighty good man David.

FYI: The evening tour features actors dressed in vintage clothing pretending to be guests – and sometimes they interact with you. Wheeee! Honestly, I tried to avoid eye contact, because I’m a socially awkward weirdo, but they really wanted to interact with me. With my red hair and glasses, I look like I’m wearing a costume, too. A woman in maid outfit told me that my dress from Paris arrived and asked if she should lay it out on my bed. I thought about acting like a diva: “Don’t touch my dress from Paris!” and then I’d slap her face. Instead I went for the “That would be lovely – thank you” because I’m all dignified and polite and shit.

Oh, and there is a really important detail I must share with you: They sell snow globes in the Heart Castle gift shop. You’re welcome.



We visited Solvang on Saturday, which is a Danish village in California. Sure why? Anyway, it’s all bakeries and cute, little shops. Also, it was 101 degrees, so we walked through the downtown, and then I was over it. Hot weather is not my bag, baby, so we drove to Pismo Beach, where it was much cooler. We walked along the pier just in time for the sunset. Not-so-interesting side note: Whenever I stop to look at a sunset, I say to myself, “It’s the sunset, stupid.” I also say “It’s the sunset, stupid” to myself whenever I sense there is a moment that I’m ignoring that I should be enjoying.

It's the sunset, stupid.

It’s the sunset, stupid.

So anyway, I figured that after four days of being away from me, Calvin would really miss me. David travels for work all the time, but I never leave. I was thinking I’m was going to get the big welcome that David gets when he gets from a business trip. How silly. Instead, The Kid ran right by me like I wasn’t even there to get to David. Figures. Don’t mind me, kid. I’m just the one that totally ruined my body to give you life, but that’s cool. After we got home, he gave me the cold shoulder for a few hours, but later he snuggled up on the couch with me. I guess that was his way of telling me I was forgiven for going on vacation without him.