Archive for October, 2007

After making public my love of kickball, a friend of mine tipped me off about a league in Austin. Despite the fact that I’m not going to be in town for long, I got in touch with a team captain. He encouraged me to play because they always need girls, regardless of their level of committment. Sounds right up my alley!

So, on Friday night I found myself standing awkwardly on the baseball diamond near Zilker Park, praying to any diety who might listen that I don’t fuck up too bad. To ask for an error-free game would have been like asking for a private shuttle to Jupiter. But here, I wasn’t asking for much. I just hoped I didn’t do anything too memorable to mess up the game that this nice, unknowing team of people invited me to play with them.

Although I run to stay in shape, I am by no means an athlete. I can’t catch, I can’t throw, I can’t hit… and that’s okay. High school is over and the real world has confirmed what I already knew: Athletic ability is nearly worthless when your financial and social status is defined primarily by your career. Ninety-nine percent of the kids who play sports in school don’t go on to be professional athletes; they hold regular jobs in regular places and do regular things because they’re regular people.

But since sports are fun (they are?), many adults still get together and play them for health and fellowship. Since I like those two things, I convince myself to go out and play every few years, once I’ve forgotten the expectation and competitive personalities that accompany such activities.

No matter how cool and laid-back any team is, there’s always one person who is overly competitive. He puts in 110 percent, and is noticeably annoyed when other people don’t possess the skills he does. Although he can play the game well and knows all the rules, he’s usually not the best player on the team. He often concentrates so hard on what other people should be doing, he makes his own mistakes because his expectations are clouding his judgment. These are the people that whip the rose-colored “health and fellowship” rug out from under me and replace it the hollow memories of high school gym class.

Thus, much like the last time I formally played a sport as an adult with other adults circa 2003 (pickup games involving children, dogs, and make-shift bases don’t count), I finished the game with mixed feelings.

Unlike the kickball game I played earlier, this game involved basic strategies in the outfield that I was not aware of. In the first inning, the team captain directed me to play first base. I gave him an out, asking, “Are you sure?” He was affirmative, and despite my inability to catch and throw, I played first base.

Very quickly, my ignorance of organized kickball and plain lack of skill shined through. If I wasn’t botching a catch or throwing short, I was throwing the ball to the wrong person or standing in the wrong place.

Hence, very quickly, the overly competitive team member’s over-competitiveness shined through. Standing over on third base, he complained about my plays, complained that I was on first base, complained about my very existence… The complaints were directed at the guys around him, but this guy wasn’t exactly shy about his opinions.

The next inning, I offered to play something else, but the team leaders confirmed that I was fine where I was. I didn’t really care how important (or unimportant) my role was, I just came out to play. But I also wanted to minimize the tension. It would have been fun to watch competitive-guy’s head asplode, but he was only peeved enough to be a jerk, so I just wanted to do what I could to end it.

Even when we were at bat, he was working hard but not smart, overrunning bases and getting tagged out. If he had just thought more about what he was doing instead of how other people were doing something wrong, that might not have happened.

As a young adult with her late 20’s dauntingly laughing at her from the horizon, I take this kind of nastiness in stride. People who are hell-bent on calling out their teammates and spreading negativity are putting only themselves on a path to heart failure. They’re not even really upset with my specific actions or me as a person, they’re just upset in general.

Those negative, nasty people don’t control the game or how much fun I have playing it, but regardless, I still don’t want to be around it. Thus concludes my sport-playing for now. Maybe I’ll check back in another four years to see if anything has improved.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRuNxHqwazs]

And they spelled “lightning” wrong.

(Just sayin’…)

Saw 4, that is. I loved the first three, and wasn’t expecting a fourth when Jigsaw and Amanda died in the third one. Of course, the trailer gives nothing away regarding the story or characters, but that’s fine. I’d rather not know and be pleasantly surprised as I’m screaming at the top of my lungs.

Most people know how hard it is to get me to drag my ass out to a dark room full of rude strangers to sit still for two hours, but I make exceptions for stuff like this. I’ll probably end up watching it at home a few times as soon as it comes out on DVD anyway. The extras on the SAW 2 DVD were really cool. I’d say the same thing about SAW 1, but it had this incredibly cheesy metal video that would probably be worth disassociating myself from liking the entire movie if I were any less mature. Really, it was bad.

Anyway, since I’m incredibly enthusiastic about Halloween this year, this movie should be the perfect primer!

I spent the day at Zilker Park attending a fabulous SGI picnic. There was food of all types (sushi and dumplings on one plate, pork sausage and tater salad on another—you know how I do!). A cover band played a plethora of Johnny Cash songs. African drummers and dancers inspired a couple dozen of us to stand up and dance along. A small, middle-aged Asian woman sang an acoustic version of Rianna’s “Umbrella” impressively well.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, there was kickball.

For those who maintain that poker is not a sport, fine, my favorite sport is kickball. I played the shit out of some kickball back on the Westwind cul-de-sac back in my younger days. Since the onset of adulthood, it’s been hard to find enough willing people to get a game together. I’m not exaggerating at all when I say that I was elated to participate in the SGI pickup game.

About five minutes into the game, as I ran to first base, I got nailed with the ball and fell over. Being hit with the ball didn’t really hurt, but I was stunned and fell flat on my back. And of course, I exhibited the involuntary reaction of sticking my arm out behind me in attempt to break my fall.

Now I have a giant gash on my right palm, much like the one from two months ago that had just finished healing. That one happened when Curtis offered to carry me back to the Fourth Street parking garage after we had already walked back to Prague from Mugshots on Gus’s 30th Birthday. (For non-Austinites, that’s a long way, especially when you’re wearing heels.) Although it was kind of Curtis to offer, he didn’t quite have the strength (or sobriety?) to make good on it because he stumbled forward and dropped me after walking only a few feet.

I actually remember looking at my hand this morning, thinking, “Boy, I sure am glad I don’t have a bloody gash on my hand anymore.”

Oh well, I couldn’t think of a better way to reopen the wound than with a great game of kickball. (Sorry Curtis, as much as I know you’d like to drop me again…)

Instead of counting bums to the smell of fish, I’ve been running around Oak Hill for the last week. The rolling hills that fill the neighborhood have been taking their toll on my shins, but seeing all the houses decked out for Halloween makes it worth the pain. (Did I mention I love Halloween?) In addition, I’ve been gettin’ in touch with nature an’ sheeit.

I saw a grasshopper FLY from the middle of the sidewalk into a tree across the street a few yards past the curb. I remember seeing grasshoppers that could jump far enough to give the appearance of flying, but daaaamn, this one’s been on the juice or something. Yes, I’m sure it was a grasshopper. He let me examine him for a few seconds before he took off. Nice moves, bug.

I also got lost in the trailer park section of the neighborhood that serves as a buffer between 290 and the “nice” houses. In one of the shady pockets of concrete off the highway, I ran to what I was pretty sure was a dead end with every intention of turning around and running back the way I came once I reached the end.

Before I could make it that far, two giant husky/german shepard/crazy ass dogs came running at me from the last home on the street. My first thought: “Oh fuck, am I going to have to beat these dogs shitless Resident Evil-style?” I stopped dead in my tracks when I realized their speed and purpose. The dumbest thing you can do when confronted by an animal is turn around and run away.

I stood there until they reached me. Once they were close enough to do some damage, they simply stopped and continued barking. Then one of them retreated, so I followed suit. Great way to get your adrenaline flowing three miles into your run.

Having two giant dogs protect your house in that area makes sense though. If you called the cops, your house would be empty and your family would be dead before they ever found the place. I guess a fallen jogger would just be a casualty of circumstance.

Today, a situation was resolved. A 900-dollar situation. It only took almost two months and a thousand emails. But now that everything has been cleared up, it’s time to take my money and run. More tales of snarking to come… once the cash is safely in my bank account.

My sexy ride is coming back in 2009. Perfect timing, since that’s probably the soonest I’ll gather the gumption and desired sizeable down payment to buy a car that suits me. Most people know what kind of car I really want next, but until it actually materializes…

I don’t want racing stripes though. I may be homeless, but I ain’t no trailer trash!

Also, the Sidekick LX will be out in a couple of days… and I have absolutely no desire to carry a phone that is the color of shit nor the color of unwashed Dickies. So I guess I’ll wait till T-Mobile releases a special edition phone. I’ve been using a Nokia that was crapped out of a dodo bird since my Sidekick 2 broke in March. I need a new contract. And phone. And everything else.

Okay, there have definitely been worse… I’ve actually had worse. But this is the most notable in awhile. People may think I’m a real jerk unless they’re food-people. It’s a risk I’m willing to take if it means preventing others from having to deal with this.

Claire and I went to Kerbey Lane with Miranda and her daughter when we got into Austin. (Of course it happened at Kerbey Lane!)

I ordered a Berkley Salad, which I’ve been ordering since I started eating there seven years ago. The description: Vine-ripened tomatoes, seasonal fresh fruit, avocado, purple onions, mushrooms, marinated garbanzo beans and mozzarella on a bed of crisp mixed greens. So the salad comes… drenched in oil. Apparently, that’s what “marinated” means now. I’ve noticed they’ve been playing with their menu a little more in the last few years, but this was nuts.

I told the waitress my salad was drenched in oil. She said it was because of the garbanzo beans. I concurred, but my salad was still drenched in oil and I did not want it to be. I kind of laughed at the absurdity of oiling a perfectly healthy salad, for which I had requested dressing on the side. Why would you serve a salad with dressing at all if you were going to add four tablespoons of oil to it initially? She said that’s how it comes. Well, I wanted it to go.

She took the salad back and got a manager. Fixing it / Making another salad = Too difficult. Gotta call management. The manager comes over… just a hair older than me, retired club-kid-looking. He brings the salad with him. He explains the process of marination and how that transfers to the rest of the salad. I say once again that I do not want to eat an oily salad. This particular desire must make me very stupid because he proceeded to explain this transfer of matter again. But he rushed through his speech, realizing he was being a complete dick, and assured me that he’d fix it. He went back and put the beans in a bowl and served me a new salad.

The waitress comes back. “Did he explain to you how we do the salad?” and continued with the redundant talking.

“I think we’re done talking about it and would just like to eat,” said Claire.

Poor waitress’s ego must have sunk to the floor. It was a little mean. But I was also very tired of listening to their rationale for serving something so fundamentally wrong.

I wanted to ask them, “Do you eat here? Have you eaten a salad like this? Did it taste good? How did you feel afterward?”

It was a ridiculous menu move, and probably none of their faults. But the amount of time they spent trying to justify it as if I should change my mind and like it was ridiculous. I know I can be kind of a food-snob, and I often leave it at the door if I’m paying less than $20 a plate, but this was just fucking absurd. It’s like serving a meatball sub covered in mustard or something. Maybe someone out there likes it, but not enough to serve it that way by default and expect no one to say something.

Therefore, today’s “What the FUCK?” was brought to you by Kat Taylor, her sister, and the letter R.

Twenty-four hours ago, I was in Manhattan walking down Third Avenue with a friend… and millions more acquaintances. After passing several dozen storefronts in the few short blocks between my apartment and our destination, we arrived at Josie’s, an upscale fusion bistro with a completely organic menu. We had a nice dinner. Thievery Corporation tunes played as we dined. We talked about movies and Hawaii. I wore mostly black, complementing my black studded wedge-heeled boots. My feet hurt, but I was comfortable.

One day later, I’m bouncily shifting gears in my best friend’s manual transmission pickup truck in Baton Rouge’s infamous afternoon humidity… sans air conditioning. I turn on Highland Road, passing an army of one polo-and-khakis guy cloned eight thousand times. Black Sabbath‘s “Iron Man” plays on the radio. I turn it up and sing along. I reach a stoplight and shove my hair into a messy ponytail, which goes perfectly with my rubber sandals and last night’s jeans. As I continue down the shady street, I compare this to that and don’t know what to make of it.

Twenty-four, twenty-four… hours ago… I want to be think I was sedated…

Last week, I came across a thread for a New York Fark party. Since the party was at the Crocodile Lounge, which is literally 20 blocks from my place, I said I’d go. I had been there before and enjoyed the free pizza and skee ball, but these happy memories did little to conjure up the exact location of the place, causing me to be a little late. (I had also spent some time getting ready, which caused the other hour-and-a-half of my lateness.)

It’s funny to think I almost backed out that night, but while browsing Fark, I found the party thread had been updated to confirm my presence so I sucked it up and got dressed (in a black dress and orange fishnets–because I’m excited about Halloween!). I’m really glad I did because I met some nice people (and Drew!) and we ended up having another impromptu Fark party at my apartment two days later.

The original plan was to take one of the Farkers out for drinks because he got mugged on his way home from the last party. That’s right, NY Farkers are so hardcore, we risk our very lives to hang out with each other. Anyway, I offered my place as a starting point, but none of us wanted to leave. Works for me!

There was hair-eating…

Rooftop drinking…

A sword fight…

And someone said something funny.

A very well-meaning individual left my house with my camera that night, and then posted the entire set of pics on his Flickr page. It’s probably better I don’t share those, for your eye safety and to protect his privacy. If the members of TotalFark were any sort of screening panel, the general consensus was that picture-taking that night led to massive amounts of FAIL. Sober people got drunk just by viewing these pictures. And honestly, I don’t look so hot in most of them.

At any rate, this was a better send-off than I ever could have hoped for, given my isolated situation in New York. I guess it’s inevitable that as soon as you know you’re going to be leaving somewhere, you make a bunch of friends that you find out you could have been hanging out with all along.

But I’ll be back. My shoe collection isn’t going to move itself!