Archive for February, 2006

This deserves top placement in my “E-mails I Never Thought I’d Have to Write” list. No one other than Gus knows who I’m referring to, so I’m posting this purely for entertainment purposes.

To: XXX

If you’re going to sneak booze from my liquor cabinet, please don’t insult my intelligence by opening a brand new bottle of drambuie, draining half of it, and leaving the broken seal on my living room floor. Also, I would have preferred that you had not left a can of half-frozen concentrated limeade on top of my refrigerator. Most importantly, I could have done without waking up this morning to the smell of gas from our stove, which you failed to turn off after you attempted to heat the can of frozen limeade to accompany your smuggled drink.

I don’t want to hear excuses or apologies, just please go back to AA and get some help.

Thanks,
Kat

You know the situation is dire when I’m recommending AA. Normally, I’m not fazed by a visitor downing a bottle of my liquor and doing something weird, but this happened at a Sunday night book club meeting.

When I was in Colorado, I was driving back from my company’s development office to my hotel. I remember looking to my right and noticing a familiar store: “Oh, they have a Denver Mattress here too.”

Maybe it’s because I was in DENVER.

I keep trying to call my grandparents to tell them that I’m going to Chicago for work next week and would like to visit them. Every time I call I get a loud, blaring busy signal that sounds almost foreign in this age of call-waiting and cell phones, and I’m like, “Who the fuck are you talking to?”

In other news, I’m going to Chicago. Hahahaha!

Well… it is February, so I guess the joke is on me.

This time work took me to a few small towns by way of San Angelo. The city isn’t very big, but I’m told its growing. I don’t know very much about San Angelo, just that when I was in college, some douche-weasel I met online went to Angelo State University and needed a place to stay for a journalism convention at UT. I agreed to let him sleep on my couch and I showed him around Austin. He reminded me of a caged animal that had been let loose for the first time. He referred to driving around Austin as “big city driving” and was visibly nervous about being around a lot of people he didn’t know. He was a douche-weasel for other, more important reasons that I will not explain here.

Anyway, the landscape up TX-29 and US-87 was more beautiful than I expected it to be. After all, the road to Amarillo is barren (north), and to El Paso is nearly miserable (west), so how could the route to San Angelo (northwest) be pretty? But I won’t question it too much… the rolling hills made the drive pleasant and interesting. There was a surprising amount of greenery, which I’m sure the little animals in the area found pleasing, with the exception of those dead and bloody on the side of the road.

The two-lane roads also had some twists and turns. I was listening to Towa Tei’s Sound Museum just as I’d hit some good curves and had to consciously remind myself that although my car is red and fast, and I have the proper soundtrack, I cannot drive as though I was starring in my own racing videogame. There weren’t any opponents around anyway.

When I got to San Angelo, I shopped some at the little block of stores near my hotel. Cute. Unfortunately, I didn’t know where to go for a good meal, so I settled on Chilis. I was served a giant pile of lettuce with some chicken and mandarin oranges on top of it, and I spent the remainder of my dinner trying to scale this mountain without causing an avalanche. It is absolutely ridiculous, the mass of food these chain restaurants serve when the taste and quality just keeps going down. The watered-down peanut dressing and tiny chunks of miscellaneous vegetables didn’t offset the huge clumps of lettuce, so I ended my meal feeling under-satisfied.

I also didn’t sleep terribly well, as my bed was extremely uncomfortable. At this point, I began to wonder how much of this mess of an evening is due to its actual schlockiness, or if it’s just me being a princess. I certainly wasn’t raised to enjoy the finer things in life. Since reaching adulthood (or pretending to have done so), I’ve been able to eat at nice restaurants and buy a comfortable bed for Gus and me to sleep in. I suppose its all relative. When I started seeing it all as it was and not what I could compare it to, things got better.

The next day, I drove to Sterling City at sunrise while listening to Bjork’s Vespertine. It was appropriately chilly outside, and I’ve always associated that album with winter. (And not just because there’s a song on it called “Frosti”. Really, listen to it.)

I took 158 to Robert Lee, passing a lot of farms and some more hills. I scared away a vulture as it noshed on some rhodent parts, but didn’t feel as bad about it as when I hit a bird on the way to Sterling. Somehow, I’ve mananged to avoid hitting any animal in my entire life with the exception of birds. You’d think they’d be at the greatest advantage being able to fly. Dumb things.

The afternoon was sunny and much warmer. I had lunch at a restaurant called the Cracker Barrel. Not the one you see outside of town on major highways (which people find odd that I like), but some local joint with the same name. In much need of a more filling meal, I got a patty melt and it was delicious. Inventor of the patty melt, I’d like to shake your hand. What a brilliant dish. The restaurant filled up as I ate, mostly with older, local men who all knew each other and made small talk. A few people about my age came in and sat together…

Other people at work who have been sent to small towns like this one have talked of being in a local restaurant and getting The Stare from everyone in it. So far, it hasn’t happened to me and I wonder what I’m doing wrong. I’m being facitious, of course. No one likes to be gawked at. And I’m uncomfortable enough having to wear nice clothes with my shirt tucked in when I go out on these trips. I know that’s hardly a discomfort to mention, I’m just still getting used to it.

Overall, it was a good trip. I was wary of having to drive since I don’t like being in the car by myself, but I managed to stay entertained and awake. One of my poor coworkers, unfortunately, could not do that on her way to McCullough and fell asleep at the wheel. She was awakened by the rumble bars on the opposite side of the highway and thankfully was not hurt. Fortunately, she had no racing opponents and caused no accidents… perhaps I should lend her my Towa Tei cd.

I’ve been pretty much out of commission for the last two weeks traveling for work. Denver was pretty cool, and so was the northern panhandle… in its own way. While Barbara and I were driving around Amarillo, we saw a lot of random road signs that were painted over, like this:

“We called him Count Dracula”… B and I weren’t sure of the sign’s origin or purpose, but we saw a bunch of other like-shaped signs with different sayings/drawings on them, so there must be something behind it.

Most of the panhandle was barren and strange. Each time we visited a new county further away from civilization*, I felt more and more like we’d driven onto the set of To Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. Every tiny place had an innocent quaintness to it, a complete lack of regard for what the outside world was doing. It was apparent right down to the steakhouse waitresses in Pampa, TX, whose attempts to keep up with the latest fashions while working within the confines of their limited shopping choices had left them looking slightly off base with their ostentatiously large plastic earrings, faded no-name jeans, and too-skinny “chunky” belts.

After the panhandle, I went to Houston suburbs with another coworker. In Conroe, we came across this bar:

That lone mustache hastily tacked on the wall, floating in midair struck me as particularly funny. If it could talk, it would say with the utmost seriousness, “I’m here, I’m queer, and yes, your creepy uncle molested you. Press charges.”

Too bad the mustache isn’t actually a handlebar. I guess you can’t have it all. Maybe they could rename the bar “Your Creepy Uncle”.

*We flew into Amarillo, stayed in Canyon (semi-normal), drove to Hereford, the beef capital of the world (stin-KAY), and did some work in Canyon before we drove out to Pampa (tiny) and then Lipscomb. Lipscomb was especially interesting because we had no idea which building we’d be using for training; we just saw two cars turn onto a main road off the highway and pull into a makeshift parking lot outside a nameless building, which we correctly assumed was the right place.

It’s an SUV
I hate SUVs. They’re bad for the environment, and everyone who has one drives like their head is stuck in their ass. It’s far worse in Texas (I am in Colorado at the moment), but it’s clearly not practical to have an SUV anywhere with tight spaces (the parking garage), city streets (smaller lanes, lots of turns, etc.), or a confusing highway system (they call the junction I braved through this morning “the mousetrap”). Or pretty much anywhere that has other people driving in motor vehicles at all.

It was designed with midgets in mind
I have nothing against our little friends, but measuring in at 5’9″, there’s no reason I should be driving their cars. Based on the location and upper curve of the steering wheel and its alignment with the dash, someone very small needs to be driving this car in order to see the full dash display. I find myself having to “duck” to look at some of the gauges. It seems like some people buy SUVs because they have a superiority complex where they think they should be bigger and taller than everyone else. But with all this ducking, I look like a meek, pathetic individual who’s trying to hide my loser-ass behind the facade of a large, unnecessary motor vehicle.

No visibility in the rear view mirror
The top part of the mirror is reflecting the assortment of buttons that control the sun/moon/interstellar planetary moon roof. Most of the bottom half is covered by the headrests of the ridiculously inaccessible third row of seats. Which brings me to my next point…

The ridiculously inaccessible third row of seats
Who sits in these seats? “Beam me into the third row of seats, Scotty.” There is no third set of doors that allow one to directly sit in the seats, nor is there any floor space near the second row of seats where one can slide into the very back of the SUV/small apartment on wheels. I would assume the seats are removable, but how often is the average person going to mess with that? I’m sure they aren’t light, and the trophy wives to whom this car is marketed do not want to break their nails on sliding and pulling and lifting things. Their stupid kids can sit in a Tahoe, right?

Hard-to-find interior lighting
So I finally get my car and it’s late at night. I’m in Denver and I have no idea where the fuck I’m going. I might want to look at a map and find out where to go, right? And I might need light because my super-fancy-and-painful eye surgery didn’t come with night vision, right? My hand hits the roof, searching for a button or switch of some type. Hey, a moveable roof. That rules out having the lights anywhere useful and intuitive. Let’s continue searching to see if they exist at all. Hey, all the buttons controlling the moveable roof. Super. Hey, a small storage compartment. Great. Hey… nothing. Okay, so eventually I found some lights (after first using the lights by the vanity mirror in my visor, which I pushed as far back into the windshield as it could go), but it would have been nice to be able to get to those before all the superfluous features that I doubt I’ll ever use.

Anyway, I’ve been driving this short bus for a day, and it’s been the worst day of my life. I will probably find many more flaws as my trip continues. Before I get a zillion comments (ha) asking why I rented this car in the first place, I can only say that Hertz offered me an “upgrade” (ha again), I didn’t know what a Freestyle was, it was 10 at night (felt like 11), and I just wanted to go to bed. And I’ll admit, that could be a final reason I think the Freestyle sucks so hard: I need a nap. Good bloody night!