Archive for August, 2009

Well, the worst thing this week… as far as alcoholic beverages are concerned.

Being the human trash compactor that I am, I decided to perform cleanup duty in the fridge the other night. This involves eating or drinking stuff that would otherwise be left there to rot. I had noticed an oddly-shapen shiny pink box in the back, but hadn’t bothered to look in it until that fateful night.

It read SOFIA Blanc de Blancs California and I knew I was going to have problems. Besides being a Coppola wine, it’s a sparkling wine, and I find those are hit-or-miss, heavy on the miss. The hexagonal box contained four small aluminum cans with straws attached, as with a juice box. Anything that needs bright, tacky packaging and an unorthodox delivery method suggests they may be trying to unload a bad batch on the fools who will pay for gimmicks.

I don’t know what I was expecting. Having visited the Coppola vineyard several years ago, I can say with confidence that everything about it is overrated but the grounds. The wealthy film family may provide a relaxing spot to enjoy a nice day in Napa Valley, but the fact remains that every Coppola wine I’ve tasted has left something to be desired.

So yeah. Had I not already been a couple of drinks in, I don’t think I could have consumed this stuff without a markedly sour expression. I’m hoping this was a gift. From someone I will never have to meet.

Today I got a massage and a facial at a local salon, since my man wasn’t around to do it himself. (Hurr.)

The massage was surprisingly helpful. For the first time in awhile, my masseur spoke English as a first language, so we talked about problem areas and I mentioned the tightness in my right side. It has been at least one year that I’ve been experiencing this. I’ve seen a few doctors, a handful of massage therapists, and an acupuncturist, and no one can say for sure what’s going on. I’ve had an ultrasound taken to ensure it isn’t coming from a vital organ, so the best guess is a muscular issue.

So what the hell am I supposed to do about it? The problem is starting to have a distinct outward appearance around my midsection and I’m sick of worrying about this.

I didn’t expect my masseur to offer tips on easing this pain, but after he worked on me for an hour, he gave himself license to advise me of his thoughts on my problem: There’s tension in my iliacus muscle, which is causing a strain that goes down my right leg. My pain is manifesting on the right side of my abdomen because the muscles in my right leg aren’t properly supporting it. The best thing to do is stretch my hamstrings and thighs more often to strengthen them.

Is that good advice in general? Yes. Will I remember to follow it? Maybe.

The facial was weird. It was also my first one, so I have no basis for comparison. Still, it made me remember every reason I hate leaving the house and putting the day’s fate in the hands of strangers.

I had to undress for it, which wasn’t a big deal because I’d just gotten a massage. But if the facial were the only service I was receiving, I’d be annoyed about having to make the effort.

Wearing a smock that bared everything above chest-level, I was laid flat on a table. A humidifier pumped steam toward me while the esthetician applied a series of masks, each ending with a towel-down and a spritz of water. She made some “extractions,” which was about as painful as popping zits, although I had no zits (a huge accomplishment, considering the relative lack of dermatologists in my life right now). I gathered from her vague language that she was tracking down and clearing out clogged pores. Sounds good. Would’ve been nice if she had stuck to talking about what she’s doing rather than trying to get me to discuss my life with her, particularly while she was picking away at my face.

I can deal with your basic run-of-the-mill questions like “Are you new in town?”, “How long have you lived here?”, and “Where are you from?” Follow-up questions and conversation is fine. But hers led to Texas and the tech industry, two things she knew very little about. That’s okay with me. We didn’t have to talk about anything, and in a perfect world, we wouldn’t have. But she wanted to make the shit last, so she asked me a lot of questions about the job market, where I’ve worked, what I do, etc. I made the mistake of letting slip a piece of information about myself that caused the unraveling of the rest of my session.

Me: “I’m a contractor, I move a lot.”

She: “It must be difficult moving around all the time!”

Me: “Yeah, it’s fine.”

She: “Always changing jobs, having to start over a new place.”

Me: “Yeah.”

She: “I bet it takes its toll on your love-life!”

Me: “Mmmhm.”

She: “I bet it’s hard to leave your pets too.”

Me: (Silence.)

She: “But I guess you can just bring them with you…”

Me: (Silence.)

Doing anything more than being quiet would negate my argument for wanting quiet, but I would have liked to have told her that I’m getting a goddamn facial in a goddamn salon. I don’t want to talk about the fact that I haven’t worked in awhile, that there’s no place for me with my last employer and that I’ve moved to a city that may have no place for me either. I don’t want to talk about being far away from my friends and family, or having to once again make new contacts in a new city. I definitely don’t want to talk about my love-life, particularly as it relates to traveling. In fact, with all the traveling I’ve done in the last few years, especially the last eight months, coupled with the toll it has taken on friends and loved ones, I don’t want to talk about anything I’ve been doing at all. And I really, really don’t want to talk about my pets (especially when I didn’t even mention having any). I miss my dog Zoey a lot, but pulling her back into my care right now would be bad for both of us.

Yeah, I realize I’m talking about a bunch of things I said I don’t want to talk about, but it’s not a contradiction. I don’t want to talk about personal stuff with a stranger while I’m getting a facial. In fact, I don’t want to talk about anything with anyone while I’m getting a facial. I thought it was common practice for everyone to shut up and enjoy.

And that philosophy is what makes my moneyshots great. (Okay, I’m done.)

There’s a gym at my new abode, so I started going a few times a week. I’m still having some back pain, so I’ve been slowly reintroducing the running portion of my workout routine. After about 40 minutes on the elliptical, I can do about a mile on the treadmill before I start to feel the impact on my lower back. Play me off, keyboard cat!

Do you hate words? Do you hate words even when accompanied by pictures? Do you like pictures accompanied by a few words so you know WTF you’re looking at? Check out my updated Picasa Web Album.

Alhambra
I finished off my epic three-week stint in Alhambra late last month. In addition to acupuncture and transformer-purchasing, I took a walk in the park and hung out with some geese.

San Francisco
My short weekend in San Francisco consisted mostly of reuniting with my long-time friend, Damon, for a double-date at my favorite SF institution, the Stinking Rose. Their slogan is “We like some food with our garlic” and should go on to say, “But our garlic hates being photographed.”

Sorry, dude.

After a delicious dinner of garlic-saturated crab, we headed over to Jonell’s in the Tenderloin area. Surrounded by rambunctious Koreans, beer-slamming bums, and free-styling meth heads, we were easily the most normal people in the joint. Then another long-lost buddy, Aaron, showed up with some friends and… yeah, still the most normal people there. It was good.

We ate breakfast at another of my favorite restaurants, the Pork Store on 16th and Valencia. After spending an hour driving circles around the 1600 block of Valencia looking for the “giant pig right outside” a few years ago, the location of this establishment is burned fully into my brain. I ordered Eggs in a Tasty Nest. It is one of few dishes I have ever ordered where the deerishusness of the food outweighs the dorkiness of its name. Then it was off to Golden Gate Park to let our food and the comfortably relaxed oddness of our surroundings digest.

Boise
After NoCal, it was time for the big rafting trip that has been planned since the beginning of time. I hadn’t seen Daun and Steve since last year, so it was fantastic to be able to hang out with them. At this point, I was starting to get tired of traveling as often as I do, so I could have done without the other zillion people involved in this trip.

After a night at Steve’s house with six other people, we all drove out to a friend’s cabin near the lake. Around two dozen people were staying there. It was a big cabin, but dayum. I usually get a hotel when I anticipate quarters being this close, but given the spread-out nature of rural towns, it would have been an inconvenience to my friends. The food and fellowship were all good, but my favorite part of the trip was going to the lake with Daun and the cabin-owner’s giant standard poodle.

Dinner on the deck was delightful:

And the rapids a tad bit frightful:

But as long as you love me so… IT’S SUMMER DAMMIT.

Seattle
The next stop was last year’s transitional hometown. My plan was to move all my stuff out of Todd’s storage shed and find a centrally-located place to live while I wait for my car to be finished. Neither of those happened. As they say, “Don’t tell God your plans.”

Instead, I stayed with my friend Matt, who is long-term baby-sitting my furniture (all three pieces of it). His apartment has a fantastic view and his cat is much less evil than regular cats.

Unfortunately, it was at least 10 degrees hotter than the already record high temperatures Seattle was experiencing during the time I was there. It was really nice of everyone to remind me that I’m from Austin and should be accustomed to 104-degree weather, and I am. I’m also accustomed to air-conditioning in every building I enter. Seattle doesn’t have that. Thus, frequent trips to Starbucks and other AC-friendly outfits were made. Since it’s noticeably cooler by the water, Matt and I went to Alki Beach for a Coast Guard party one day.

Matt went to Vegas over the weekend, so I hung out at Mose’s house in Tacoma. We simultaneously went on a drinking rampage and hung out at Laura’s flower shop while she prepared a large order.

The weather cooled off just in time for me to head off to the next place, which is seemingly in a constant state of super-cool.

Tahoe
It was time to mix it up again and visit a new place. I booked a room at the Embassy Suites on the state line near the Heavenly Gondola, which I totally took advantage of and rode like my trip depended on it. Embassy ended up being a good choice because the rooms were big, we could park for free in the Harrah’s lot just a few yards away, and they had a free happy hour from 5:30 to 7:30 every evening.

Our healthy dinner:

Oh yeah, did I mention it was right by Harrah’s? We may have spent a few minutes there. When I wasn’t downstairs drinking and gambling, I was upstairs at the cigar bar. I don’t remember whose idea it was to go there, but it was a good one. The living room setting was comfortable, the crowd was nice and not too big, the drinks were great, and the bartender was cute, friendly, and amply knowledgeable on cigars. Not that I’m not the best judge, but I appreciate that she put on the appearance of being very helpful.

On the last night, we had sushi at Naked Fish down the street. Good music, good service, and probably as good as sushi gets for where we were (by a lake, not an ocean). This is also where the babies are hung.

No better picture of the South Lake Tahoe sunset has ever before been taken.

Glendale
Sadly, not all my travels can be fun and games. I had to go to Glendale to look at my car and sue someone. Before the anticlimactic magic happened, I wandered around the newish downtown Glendale and saw some frogs.

Sacramento
Looks like I’ve found a new place to settle for awhile. Please, hold your applause. For those thinking, “Why Sacramento?” …well, why the hell else?

After a few weekends of blissful vacationing, my new person and I have decided to try living together. Long-distance relationships are a bitch, especially when they’re not even necessary. So far, we’re putting the “fun” in “functional living arrangement.”

Last night we went ice skating. We’ve been frequenting Family Skate Night lately for a relaxing, yet aerobic change from the usual parties and wining and dining. The night boasts a wide array of games, but the only one that ever interested me was Red Light Green Light.

Unfortunately, the integrity of the game was challenged when the caller said, “Green lighthouse,” and forced all moving skaters to return to the starting line. My partner and I both maintain that she technically said the words, “Green light,” and therefore skaters should be admitted to move forward to claim one of the five pins placed at the far end of the rink. We became further disenfranchised upon learning that only two of the pins (colored florescent orange) were available to skaters who brought their own skates rather than renting them at the rink. This posed a difficult challenge to my partner who brought his own goalie skates, which are a hindrance to speed skating.

Therefore, we participated in Name that Disney Movie, in which a clip from a Disney movie is played for skaters to guess. He happened to have been paying attention while watching “The Aristocats” 20 years ago, guessed the movie within the allotted time, and won me a prize.

This is not the prize, by the way. This is the thing that you win so you can exchange it for a prize. The prize is something from the snack bar, but I was not hungry or thirsty. We are holding this plastic bowling pin for ransom in the car until the rink meets our late demands for chicken fingers and cola.

BBBLLLLLLLEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Yeah, I know, I haven’t posted in a month and now I’m coming out with this crap. I’ll get to the point one of these days.