Almost there...

Thursday, August 28, 2003

I've never been one to put much stock in astrology, but if I were, I'd start believing now. With Mars closest approach, I think the influence of the God of War has been heavy on me these last two days. Battles with friends have all been losing ones, no matter who is right or wrong or just opinionated. It's all just pain and heartbreak.

Brezny has this to say to me today:
"Do you think you'd enjoy being able to focus all your ambitions in one overarching dream? Can you imagine what it might be like not to feel your desires split in five different directions? While your predilection for versatility and vacillation isn't necessarily a bad thing, Gemini, it might be interesting at some point in your life to explore the ferocious pleasures of single-mindedness. It so happens that now is a perfect moment to launch such an exploration. Mars, the planet that rules willpower and determination, is currently expressing tremendous force in your astrological House of Total Commitment. There has rarely been a better time for you to stabilize your purpose and steel your resolve."

And that just about perfectly jives with how I'm feeling right now. Last night I found myself wishing more than anything that I had a real mentor to look up to and to guide me. I lost that from my life in 1990 when Lee died, and haven't found it again. Driving home last night I was actually wondering if putting an ad in a campus paper for a mentor might be useful. I'm not certain that's how I want to go about it, but we'll see. What I do know is that my multi-faceted priorties are starting to distill into focus on one driving priority. I'm doing a lot of psychological housekeeping this week and deciding what and who is really important to me in life and how that fits with my main priority. And I think I'm going to start work on a second degree. I just hope that I make the right choices. I've been living in a semi-contented state for the last few years, just dancing and working and watching television. Contentment has never suited me. I can't just relax and enjoy it. It's time for me to remember myself and pursue some higher good in the world. My personal desire has always been to achieve basic comfort for myself, and then to use the rest of my time and energy to make the world a better place. I think I've neglected the second half of that for too long. Time to work on it for a while.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Oh, and then once we got back, life started back into it's normal swing. Rick and I spent Sunday doing laundry, then when it got unbearably hot, we headed for coffee and to share a little Harry Potter. We're about half way through now. We also tried the new Pick Up Stix on El Monte for dinner. It's not bad. Anne and Heraldo had a dance party at the Lucie Stern Sunday night. I headed over after dropping Rick at home since he had mussed his shirt at dinner and wasn't feeling particularly social.

I tried going back to the Plough again last night. Unfortunately, my right knee has been bothing me lately, and I just don't think I feel welcome there anymore. For years, I've brought my own water to the Plough, preferring purified water to the spring water they sell there or the tap water they provide for free. It's always seemed better to me to bring my own rather than using their cups to drink the tap water. However, the bartender was in one of her moods last night, and came around screaming about people bringing in water. She demanded to know who it belonged to. I said it was mine. She said, "Well how fucking cheap can you be. This is a bar you know." I said that as I've mentioned many times before I would happily buy from the bar if they offered purified water rather than spring water, but that since they sell Crystal Geyser, I won't buy it. Crystal Geyser has been recalled repeatedly for contamination. If I were really "fucking cheap" as accused, then I would just drink the tap water. But I'm not. I'm picky, not cheap. She ordered me to remove it, and for the sake of ending the episode, I decided to comply. Over and over again, I've said that the Plough could make so much more money by providing a better menu and faster friendlier service. The owner of the bar was there and witnessing all this, so I assume that it's okay with her for her employees to speak to her customers like that. The one thing it did guarantee was that I would not be purchasing anything that evening, or from that bartender ever ever again. That sort of attitude will not be rewarded with my cash. This was followed up later by the call for four hand jigs. When those sets seemed to be forming slowly and without enthusiasm, I said, "Hey, anyone for a Trip to the Cottage?" A few folks expressed interest, and a set started forming, but not without Patrick's scolding. He apparently felt compelled to have what he wanted called done by all. We formed our set and danced anyway. But again, it was enough to remind me that the Plough is no longer a fun place, at least for me. And that's a real shame. The ten year meter has apparently run out. Guess it's time to start my own Irish dance night somewhere and see if I can get something to bloom and grow closer to home.

As we were leaving, Kevin was having some sort of drama. I'm not sure of the details, but I think it has a lot to do with pissing Dawn off thoroughly by being 3 1/2 hours late to a four hour event on Sunday. As Paul, Rick, and I drove home, we were treated to a spectacular lightening storm. There were more lightening strikes than I've ever seen in the Bay Area. This was the weather I expected in Oklahoma, but found it at home instead. As we approached Milpitas, the smell of rain and ozone was thick in the air. Thankfully, the storm was still a little south of us. Yep, life is back to normal. A little electric. A little agitated. A little excitement when you're not expecting it. And so it goes.

Well we're back.

Zumanity was interesting. On our way into the theater, we noticed Guy Laliberte, founder and CEO of Cirque du Soleil, sitting at a table at one of the little cafes. Rick and I couldn't contain ourselves and had to go thank him. I wrote a quick postcard so as to interrupt as little as possible. We scurried out of the theater and waited for a break in their conversation. Guy paused to light a cigarette and we took the opportunity to introduce ourselves and thank him for so thoroughly transforming the circus from a collection of acts to an art form. He introduced us to the rest of the table, and asked if we'd seen Zumanity yet. We said we were just on our way in to see it now. He said, "It's a very fragile baby." Clearly they were busy discussing the direction of the show right there. I said that in fact the reason we were seeing it now was just so that we could see how it evolves over the next year or two. We let them get back to work, and headed into the theater. Guy was quite accurate. Zumanity is trying to find it's stride. All of the early website information suggested that it was to have a fashion show/catwalk sort of theme. That theming is almost completely disappeared. In it's place, a show about the range of sexuality is emerging. Starting from the playful exploratory sexuality of innocence into bondage, domination, and a range of other fetishes. It's also trying to work in other ranges of sexuality, from fat to thin, short to tall, male, female, transgendered, midgets, old to young, and generally trying to say that sex is beautiful and should be celebrated rather than hidden. It's a theme I could get behind, and it was a very erotic, if somewhat uneven show.

O is still the masterpiece of Cirque du Soleil. As the hordes in the gift shop after the show attest, you just want to capture a piece of it to take home. I stumble out thinking, "That was amazing. Can I give you more money?" I restrained myself in the gift shop this time, consoling myself only that I will get out and see that show again. Maybe after the third time I'll be able to retain enough of it in my mind's eye to satisfy me. O is just perfect. Kevin said, "It's the best show/performance of any kind I've ever seen." I would agree. Pay any price they ask, but go see O. Zumanity and O make a great two evening double feature, especially in that order, especially with someone you want to have a lot of sex with after the show. But if you can only afford one, go see O.

As for the rest of the trip, it went well. We caught up to Shawna and Sherman in Sedona, which was surprisingly lovely for all of us. I would happily go visit Sedona again, and the canyon between it and Flagstaff. That's my kind of terrain. Windy mountain roads lined with soaring pine trees. The earlier part of the day was spent in the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest, which, though beautiful, were a painfully sunny desert. Even with the liberal application of sunscreen, I was still slightly crispy after about 1 mile of walking outdoor time. No wonder the Indians gave up on it back in the 13-1400s. The next day was spent in the Grand Canyon, getting a tour with a geologist and hiking up to a lovely spot for the sunset. Pictures were taken. From there to Las Vegas was an easy trip, with a stop in Kingman for the last Cracker Barrel, and a stop at the Hoover Dam. The Hoover Dam doesn't allow big rigs after 9/11, but it does allow passenger vehicles to cross until they finish the bypass. About five miles before the dam, there was a checkpoint to inspect cars. It was a pretty weak excuse for a checkpoint, consisting mainly of one cop waving us through. In his head I imagined him saying to himself, "You're white. You're white. You're white." as he waved each of us by. Rick met us at the hotel in Vegas. I was very happy to see him. Luckily, we stopped in Vegas just in time to completely miss the flash floods and other thunderstorm related drama that was on the road ahead of Vegas. The bad weather chased us for the entire trip, and yet no place we went had particularly bad weather while we were there. On the entire trip, I think I logged less than 300 miles of our 3500 mile total. Kev was loathe to give up the driver's seat unless he was actually falling asleep at the wheel. In LA, we had dinner with his family, and then drove up the next afternoon, arriving back in Mountain View around 7:30. With a little bit of unloading, I was home. And my sofa never looked so good. Rick showed me the end of the Osbournes series that I'd missed, and I made gorgonzola/garlic raviolis with brown butter sage sauce for dinner with sage from my yard. Home again at last.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

8/13/03

We've decided that I'm never allowed to help Kevin move ever again. It always ends up taking a day longer than planned when I help, and clearly I must be the cause. ;-)

This time the drama came in the form of belligerent movers. It began Monday morning with the movers being an hour and a half late. When they arrived, Kevin and Rachel met them downstairs. After initial greetings, the movers immediately started speaking about additional charges. There was the long carry charge, because there was someone parked directly in front of the house rather and they'd have to park one house over or across the (very narrow) street. Then the climbed up the stairs and said started talking about there being extra charges for the stairs. Kevin argued that the stairs had been included in the price originally quoted. They said that there were four flights of stairs instead of the two quoted. It was about this point that things started degenerating. Kevin started to look for the original contract, and the movers were telling him to sign the new contract. While all this was going on, I asked the mover, "So why were you so late?" He said, "Why don't you answer your phone?" I said that we would've if he'd called, but we've all three been here the whole time, and the phone records all incoming calls, and none were received. In fact, we'd tried calling him several times starting at 10am to see what the trouble was, and kept getting a message that his phone was disconnected. He said, "Why don't you just go back to reading your book." He said it in a brusque, dismissive manner. Kevin looked up at that point and said, "Look, it's not okay for you to come into my home and insult my guests." The mover said, "Yeah? What are you going to do about it." We all looked at each other, trying to decide whether to salvage the situation or get these people the hell out. I said, "How dare you." He said, "I told you to read your book." Kevin said, "I'm sorry. I'm going to have to ask you to leave." The mover clearly didn't think he was serious. He slowly started gathering papers. Kevin went to grab the phone. When he came back he said, "You need to leave now." The guy said something I didn't quite hear while stepping into the stairwell where he stopped. Kevin said, "No, seriously, you need to leave or I'm calling the cops." Kevin then started dialing 911. Then he started talking to the 911 dispatcher saying, "I have two movers here who have threatened me and my house guests and refuse to leave my home." Then the movers started to head downstairs. The dispatcher was asking about whether to send a squad car. Kev asked her to hang on for just a moment as they were starting to leave. The movers headed out to the truck and sat across the street, waiting.

Kev called off the cops, but they drove by about 15 minutes later anyway, just passing through. We all sat around trying to figure out if that was really as weird as it seemed. It was. Rachel called the moving company and asked them to send someone else. They argued with her saying they'd never had any problems with those guys before and that they're very nice really. She said, "Well there's a problem now and they're not welcome to move our stuff. Please send someone else." She then called her original sales agent. The agent agreed that the scenario was very bad and actually started trying to help her. But by then, we were already working on plan B.

Kevin started researching online. Rachel called the Extra Storage we'd been to for boxes yesterday. The guy there was really nice and recommended some movers the storage place had worked with for the last 14 years - the Grogan Brothers. We mobilized, trying to find a moving company that could pick up the stuff in the next 24 hours, because not only was all of this delaying our trip, the bigger problem was that the new tenant was moving in Tuesday. Kev had to be out by the end of the day, or the next morning at the latest.

We got calls from several moving companies - Viking, Northwestern, etc. - and got a few quotes. It came down to Viking, or the local Grogan Brothers. Then Kev started reading MovingScam.com. Then we decided that the best plan was to go with the locals unless they couldn't help out.

But Ron Grogan is a savior. He got his guys to come in on their day off. They were there at 10am and done by noon, with all of Kevin's stuff tucked neatly into the storage unit. It was amazing. They were all very friendly, easy-going folks. Looks like his cousin is going to be the one to drive Kev's stuff across country when he gets a full load, but in the meantime, it's gonna live for 3-5 weeks in the little storage unit at Extra Storage. If only we'd known Ron in the first place, things would've been much better, but at least this was a highly satisfactory ending to an extremely stressful 24 hour period.

Last night after moving was arranged, we headed out to Cracker Barrel for dinner, and saw Tomb Raider 2, and then stopped by Rachel's place and met her cat Nym, and her roommates cats Lisa and Paul. Nym is a cutie little brendle cat. Paul is the alpha male of the house, and would really be much happier as a single cat, but he was very nice boy with seven toes on one paw and six on another. He's a talker too. He had to tell me all about how hard it was to live with all these girl-cats. Or some thing. I only know a smattering of meow, and Paul had a yinzer accent.

So now we're finally on the road, currently driving through Kentucky, which is beautiful actually. Very lush and green with smooth roads. And the sun is setting, as a glowing pink orb in the sky, bathing Louisville in a warm glow. We're going to drive by the Louisville Slugger museum now. They've got a huge bat out front. Gotta see it.





8/16/03

Greetings from Albuquerque! First the bathroom, then the coffee, then the left turn. We stopped here at Napoli Coffee Company because Rick called to find out what I needed for Vegas and told us that there was free wireless access at this coffee shop. This place is the perfect little coffee shop like I remember from the days before the Starbucks overthrow. The very friendly owner reminds me a bit of Dave. He's the perfect coffee guy. We're seated in overstuffed armchairs, next to the fireplace. This place is just the sort of oasis I love and wish I could find in the bay. More welcoming with less attitude. The coffee guy actually used to live in Campbell, so he knows the area well.

Three days of driving has gotten us this far. We stopped by the bat in Louisville. What a bat! And it's right next to the actual bat factory. After that, we headed down Bardstown road and grabbed a bite of dinner at the local pub - Molly Malones. We sat on their patio outside, enjoying the warm evening, watching the world go by. I had yummy bangers and mash and a half pint of Woodpecker cider. Yummy. Then we drove on to Cave City and crashed at the local Howard Johnsons for the night. The next morning we rose and headed over to Mammoth Caves and took the 10:15 Frozen Niagra tour. After finishing the tour, we headed back to the surface where my glasses thoroughly steamed up from the humidity. Packing those away, we got back on the road and stopped at the Kentucky Action Park to ride the Alpine Slide. Basically, it's a luge that runs down a concrete slide. So we hopped the lift to the top of the mountain and floated leisurely up, and then came down at a screaming pace. It was so cool. I wished we could've done it again. On the way back to the parking lot, the guy running the lift commented on my ankh. He said, "Oh just like mine, only I forgot to put it on today." I told him mine never comes off, and he says his tarnishes too much if he wears it all night. I mentioned that mine always stays polished just by rubbing my clothes and he said he has to wear his under his clothes just so no one gets freaked out. I said, "I don't have to worry about that 'cause I live in California." He asked what part, and I said San Francisco for easy reference sake, and he shook his head and said, "Yeah, it's a lot different from here." Then we hopped the lift to ride back out to the parking lot and off towards California where pagan symbols need not be worn secretly.

Next stop was Nashville to see the Parthenon. I've seen the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum, and I've studied Greek architecture, but there's nothing like walking up to the (intact) temple, seeing the giant Athena Parthenos holding her little Nike in person. Very cool.

Back in the car and on to Nashville, where it turns out it was Elvis Week '03. Our first stop was Graceland, and wow, I say wow, sir. There was an Elvis show in the parking lot. And an Elvis contest in the Heartbreak Hotel. And there was Graceland. It was closed for the night, but since it was Elvis Week, there was still plenty of folks around. I wondered aloud to Kevin, "Will they lynch us if they find out there's no Elvis music in our car?" We grabbed a copy of the Elvis Week paper, got the tackiest souvenir I could find for Elizabeth's collection (a tough call between the "Love Me Tender" conditioning shampoo and the pink Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich recipe potholder), and headed on before our heads exploded. Elvis overload was fast approaching. The Elvis Week paper had directions to several other points of interest around town, like the Peabody Hotel and such, but not to the National Civil Right Museum where the Lorraine Motel is fully preserved just as it was after Martin Luther Kind Jr. was shot on the balcony there, save for replacing the bloodied piece of concrete where he died.

We stopped by the Peabody Hotel to see if we could find an explanation for the whole duck thing. Turns out that back in the thirties, the owner of the hotel returned from a hunting trip with his live duck decoys, and being rather liquored up, thought it would be funny to put the ducks in the lobby fountain. The guests loved it and the ducks became a Peabody Hotel tradition. They have their own penthouse, and march out to the fountain every morning at 11 and retire nightly at 5. And crowds of people come to watch them march daily. People like us. We spent the night at the Howard Johnson's in West Memphis, and came back in the morning to see the National Civil Rights Museum and wrapped things up there at 10:45 so we could race over and see the ducks march. And march they did. From the elevator to the fountain in 2 seconds flat, five little ducks boogied their way across the lobby, knowing exactly where they belonged. Memphis is an odd little town.

From there we headed towards Little Rock, finally deciding that it was worth a detour to Hot Springs. We tried as hard as we could to find the Educated Animals, but the address didn't exist. We thought perhaps it's like Platform 9 3/4 or something, but went on without success. We did find a bizarre little witch shop, full of herbs and scrying mirrors and swords and crystals. It was also inhabited by the geekiest guy I've met in ages. He was much enamored with a very tacky Athena statue they had, not to mention the Excalibur sword they had there. Wog. The actual owner came out at some point, looking every bit the part of Gandalf or Dumbledore in a hippie wrapper. He must have the patience of a saint, or a deep ability to ignore the younger guy. Next we toured the historic bathhouses, particularly the Fordyce. Amazing place. Truly Kiva of a different age. The Buckstaff was already closed for the day, so we headed to another place a little off the main row of historic bathhouses. Tubbing and massages came to $37 apiece, truly a bargain. and my massage was blissful. After that we headed back to Little Rock for a nice dinner at Macaroni Grill and then on to Conway for sleep.

And then came the big crossing, putting as many miles behind us as we could muster. Kev vetoed my suggestion of going through Dallas to Carlsbad and Roswell, so we headed across Oklahoma for the day instead. Oklahoma is a whole lotta nothing, with Oklahoma City in the middle. It's not much of a city, even compared to Louisville or Memphis or Nashville. We stopped by the Murrah Federal Building Memorial site. They really covered their bases with that memorial. But Oklahoma City was both blazingly hot and excessively humid. Staying longer than necessary was out of the question. So back in the car and on the road, into Amarillo for dinner. We stopped at the Cracker Barrel to return our book on tape (Minority Report and other Phillip K. Dick stories), and decided to have dinner as well. Still yummy.

Which brings us to today. Albuquerque. We're not quite sure how today and tomorrow will play out, but Monday is the Grand Canyon and Tuesday and Wednesday are Vegas to see Zumanity and O. Then L.A., then Mountain View. We're better than half way home. And we're full of good coffee and ready to hit the road again.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Well, I finally lightened my hair last night with a great deal of help from Athena. My hair was darkened significantly for Dickens Fair last year, and unlike previous years, it didn't really wash out this year. It stayed very dark. So, we started to put some mild highlights in. The first round did almost nothing. So then we got more aggressive. Now my hair is a lot lighter, and oddly reminiscent of my original natural hair color, though actually still a bit lighter than that even. It's going to take some getting used to. Still, in the course of the bleaching process, we decided it was truly time to make this into the high school flashback that it was. We put on some Depeche Mode and gossiped about our boyfriends to make the experience complete.

I don't think Rick really likes the new look. I'm not 100% certain about it myself, but it's good enough for right now and it will make overlaying a new color easier next time when the grey starts poking through again. For now, I'm closer to blonde than I've ever been. It's very odd. Still, perhaps more odd is that absolutely no one at work even noticed. Well, or they didn't say anything.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Almost time for the road trip. And I still have fingernails, like actual longish ones. They're definitely the longest nails I've ever had. I'm discovering that part of my desire to bite my nails is that they're very thin flimsy nails. I'm keeping a nail thickener painted over them most of the time, but when that start flaking off is when I'm most likely to be tempted to bite my nails. All in all, it's the weirdest experience. I always figured nail biting would be a curse for the rest of my days, but now I've got four nails that are longer than the end of my finger and four more nearly as long, and then my two pinky fingers, with the thinnest nails, have been the victim of some unconcious nibbling, so they're lagging behind. The only thing is that it has led to a new self-maintenance issue. Now I have to repaint goo on my nails ever 2-3 days. Luckily that takes about 5-10 minutes and can easily be done while watching tv. The other thing I discovered this weekend, is that the nail goo does not like hours in the pool. I fixed my nails on Saturday afternoon, then spent about four hours lounging/swimming/playing in the pool at Fred's parent's place in Sonoma, and the nail goo was all messed up. I ended up having to fix them again the next morning.

Speaking of Sonoma, what a lovely trip. Fred's folks have a place near Nun's Canyon that is just so lovely. The pool baked in the sun with a cover all week and so when we hopped in in the evening breeze, the pool was 92 degrees. After four hours in there watching the stars, telling stories, playing games, the only thing that finally drove me out was that I had to pee and that my fingers and toes had achieved a new level of wrinkle. All in all, it was a lovely day. We carpooled in Rick's car and had Cy, Athena, Emily and I all in the Saturn wagon with far more stuff than we needed. We stopped in Sonoma for lunch at the Basque Bakery. We picked up some cheese at the Sonoma Jack store before heading on up the hill. Upon arriving, we found a surprise guest - Fred's friend Noelle and her daughter Galen. Galen is as adorable as advertised. She's not even remotely shy, crawling up in Rick's lap moments after meeting him. We all headed out on a little hike up the hill to the end of the road, and for better or worse, Galen crashed out for the night on the way back. The rest of us made dinner of buffalo burgers and corn and then stripped down and jumped in the pool. Four hours of floating around concluded with everyone gathered around the outdoor fireplace. We rose the next morning, and headed to the Garden Court in Glen Ellen for breakfast. It's a different pace of life up there. The hostess came out and chatted with us for a while. Her dog, Blue, was tied up out back, reveling in the attention from the breakfast crowd. He's half Dalmation, half black Lab, all sweetheart. He got the mellow temperment of the lab, but the white coat with black spots of the Dalmation. Breakfast was great and I'd recommend it to anyone. I had a sante fe scramble with turkey chorizo, but the specialty of the house really is a variety of Eggs Bendict. They all come with poached eggs, an english muffin and hollandaise, but the other accompanyments are widely varying.

Anyhow, it was a nice weekend I hope to repeat again before winter, but if not, it's something to look forward to next year.