Monday, October 15, 2012

Experiantial Traveler

I am not someone who has ever been good at the “relaxing” vacation. Somehow, sitting on a beach, drinking Mai Tais and just letting the world slip away has never appealed to me. Sure, for a day, maybe 2, but a week? No. I need to spend my vacation learning something, experiencing something new,  and growing as a person. If I were to go and stay in one of those fancy resorts in Bora Bora, I’d probably end up spending more time with the people who worked there and making them show me what living in paradise is really like and teaching me about their culture. Therefore, when I travel, while I enjoy relaxing and doing nothing for one day, I need more.

This past weekend, my friend Caitlin and I were supposed to go to Vegas. In Vegas, you may not realize it, but they do have some culturally enlightening things. Last time, we saw the Bodies exhibit at the Luxor, which, while making me reconsider eating anything for the rest of my life, was incredible. I also learned that women do not typically donate their bodies to science, hence the reason all the bodies in the exhibit were men. See? Fun facts!

In the process of preparing for this Vegas trip, life struck and we both found ourselves too broke to go. Between hotel and food and cultural enlightenment and the sociological experiments of typical Vegas traditions (If you don’t know what I mean, you are not old enough to be reading this and should stop now), Caitlin and I both realized it was just not the mature, responsible adult thing to do.

So what do we, as mature, responsible adults do? Why, go to visit her parents of course!

While on this trip, I did a lot of learning and experiencing, more so that I ever thought I would.  Here are som of the interesting things I learned:

Bunko is a game played with dice that is great for groups and is very easy to play and gossip at the same time.

It turns out that once I couldn’t win, I then tried to lose so I can take home the “Most Loses” prize, yet my competitiveness in the moment overshadowed the possibility of a later win, and I lost the losers prize.

I am still somewhat big and scary to children at first, but they warm up to me eventually.

Then promptly forget about me in their sleep and then have to be re-warmed the next morning.

My boots that I have been very comfortable in are not made for wearing for long periods of time that include walking from one end of a mall and back, then standing while wine tasting, totalling 13 hours of wear.

My feet, however, will quickly recover from the pain as long as sneakers are worn the next day.

Wine is delicious. (Ok, that I already knew.)

Red wine is preferable to white. (Ok, again, I already knew that.)

Sangiovese is my new favorite type of wine.

Rosè is wine made from red grapes that have had their skin removed.

My favorite wine of the whole day was a Rosè of Sangiovese.  

Wine tastings are incredibly informative and educational, not all about getting wine-drunk.

You stand a lot at wine tastings. And the ones that let you sit down are not as informative as the ones where you stand up, unless you pull up a chair for yourself after you’ve been at the winery for an hour and half but are still thoroughly enjoying what the winemaker has to say.

Old men tell the best stories, especially if they are old men telling you about wine.

If you are middle-aged and still in a band that sounds like a high school garage band, you will annoy me to the point of possible violence.

I should definitely read the full cocktail description before ordering a drink.

Not all pink drinks are fruity, girly, and low in alcohol content.

Sleeping in a twin bed is not the best idea after said pink drink.

I am allergic to cats and it will cause me to sneeze uncontrollably and have incredibly watery eyes until I escape to the outside, or take an antihistamine.

Manicures can be nice every once in awhile.

Beware of any double-decker buses going through wine country, especially ones with “Red Bull” all over it. A girl will inevitably think it is Vegas or Mardi Gras and lean out of the second story and begin flashing while her other “friend” takes pictures or video tapes it. And you will be in the car behind feeling embarrassed for women everywhere.

I really like chile relleno and, much like spinach, it’s just that I don’t like the way they have been made for me my whole life.

Caitlin’s parents are the best people ever for letting me come and stay. (I already knew they were awesome)

Caitlin and I can have fun anywhere.

Riverside is somewhere that I will never live, no matter how much someone pays me. If someone did offer me a billion dollars to live there, I would promptly use my billion dollars to get the heck out.

Not exercising for 3 days and drinking a lot of wine makes my Monday workout exceptionally difficult.

I am very thankful for the friends I have in my life and for my life in general. (Ok, again, that I already knew, but sometimes it takes a weekend to be reminded.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Little Bit Country

I know I am going to regret putting this out there, but sometimes you need to admit embarrassing things about yourself in order to grow…or at least that’s what the mature people tell me.

I really love line dancing.

There. I said it.

Maybe I should go back a little bit.

One of my oldest friends (as in time we’ve known each other, not age. Although she does enjoy pointing out that she is 2 days older than me) asked me if I’d like to take a Country Line Dancing class at the park and rec center. Normally, I would laugh and make a sarcastic remark, but in the spirit of living, I said ok. Or possibly “Heck Yes!,” just to get in the spirit.

So here we are, 2 weeks in, and I have discovered that I really enjoy it. I’ve always loved to dance, but my appreciation for country music usually ends when the guys singing “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” starts singing a sad song about how said girl broke his heart. So, when a class is titled “Country Line Dancing,” I’m a bit torn…

However, as it turns out, the “Country Line Dancing” class isn’t all country. The first dance we learned was “Stray Cat Strut,” which, yes, it to the song you think it goes to. Not to say there has been no country music, but the fact that we are doing a mixture of genres keeps me from possibly walking out or going crazy for 2 hours.

I also have to mention that the instructor adds to my enjoyment. He is an older gentleman, with a big beer belly and muttonchops.  He wears jeans and cowboy boots and plaid shirts, but his belt buckle is really what really makes the outfit. Not only is it a big dollar sign, but it’s totally blinged out. I mean, if these were real diamonds, every rapper would be envious. It is a little out of place, but what what would an outfit be without a little bling?

Overall, it may not be so far out of the box, but at least I can feel good about learning a new skill and finding a new hobby. Who knows? One of these days I may even buy a cowboy hat and some boots and head to one of the country bars the instructor suggested and get my groove on. (Turns out, there are some bars in the area I’ve never been to!)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Oh Dear Lord, What Am I Getting Myself Into...

In my everlasting search for living and not just existing, I have decided to participate in something that every single friend of mine who knows how much I love to write has (and knows what this month-long event is) has encouraged me to do. I have always made excuses, ranging from “It’s too hard” to “It’s the beginning of the holiday season! Do you know what that means to anyone that is a manager in the retail/food industry?!” (Insert a shrill sound of panic for that last one.)

However, this year, I have decided to not only do it, but to commit to it openly and to talk about it. I usually keep what I consider to be personal commitments to myself. Partially because of my intense fear of failure, but mostly because as soon as you admit to committing to something others may not understand, all the negativity comes out. “Well why would you want to do that?” “It just sounds hard and you probably won’t finish.” “Aren’t you just adding a lot of unnecessary stress to an already incredibly stressful time?” (Again, shrill sound of panic.)

So, in the effort of not only committing to something openly and putting my possible failure out there for all to see, I am also jumping ahead of the negative people who will hear what I am doing and say: “Go share your Haterade with someone else.” (Or possibly something with some expletives, depending on the level of pessimism.)

I will not let anyone’s negativity or questioning of my ability to do this deter me from what I am going to do. If I can’t finish, then that’s ok because getting out there and trying is half the battle. Therefore, if I die in battle, at least I will have gone down with some dignity!

Ok, I know, the suspense must be killing you. What is this great thing I am doing that I am committing to so openly and vehemently?


AKA: Novel November

AKA: Write 50,000 words of a novel from November 1 to November 30.

AKA: Write almost 2,000 words per day…

AKA: Write almost 2,000 words per day in a genre in which I am not completely comfortable nor have any idea for a plot or characters or theme or setting or…

AKA: I AM ALREADY STARTING TO FEEL THE STRESS!! (Just kidding. It’s more like excitement…I think…)

 Ok, I need to breathe.

Why, you may ask, am I going to do this?

Well, mostly because I want to do something that will push me mentally and creatively. I spend a lot of my time supporting my friends in their creative endeavors, but rarely do I ever push myself to do the same. I am always encouraging others to do the things they love and go after their dreams, but I have noticed recently that I have trouble doing the same thing for myself. This is the first big step to doing this.

I also have to say that I am making an effort to do things that are outside of my comfort zone. I am taking a Country Line Dancing class (don’t worry, there is a post forthcoming about that) and trying out some new classes at the gym, but mentally there is very little that I have done since college to push the boundaries and see what I am truly capable of.

The best part? This costs me nothing but time. It may mean that my DVR will be working on overtime (Wait? I can’t watch as much TV??? I may need to back out now…) or that I can’t spend every evening off at karaoke (Ok…now I’m really rethinking this whole bit…), but as long as I make a plan and stick to it, I know that, at the end of November, whether I hit the goal of 50,000 words or not, at least I gave it my all.

However, if How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, Two Broke Girls, Law and Order: SVU, or any other of my favorite shows gets cancelled, I’m never going out of my comfort zone again!

Now I have one month to figure out what the hell I’m going to write about for 30 days, 2,000 words a day.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Some Advice from My Elders

There are so many reasons I enjoy spending time with my grandparents. They have the best stories and somehow we always get into a heated (but healthy) debate. Plus, there are these chairs that I have been begging for since I was a kid…but that’s another story.

While I was there, Grandma offered to take me to lunch if I would drive her on some errands. Since I always love a free lunch, I obliged. While we were at lunch, Grandma decided to give me some advice about dating. To be more specific, how to “hook a strong, supportive man.” She told me that the reason I always find the men that I do is because I am a strong, independent woman. “Too strong and independent,” she said. “You are so good at taking care of yourself and being dependable, these men think that you’re going to just care of them too. So, you need to work on being weaker. “

I busted up laughing. She started laughing also, but she kept going. She said that I didn’t need to ACTUALLY be helpless, but men just want to feel needed, so if I do things like asking for a ride or for a man to pick up something heavy, then he’ll feel needed. Then, after we spend time together and he falls in love with me, then I could start to slowly show him how independent I really am. He then would feel good about himself by thinking he helped me grow. I would have a man who was strong enough to handle and support me, and I would still be my same strong, independent self.

The conversation ended with a lot more laughter, most of it on my end. Grandma did laugh and see how ridiculous this sounded, despite sticking to her guns and thinking that this advice was sound.

Later that day, I went to the pool with Grandpa.  I told him about Grandma’s advice, and he found it incredibly funny just like I had. But, after a few moments of silence, he said, “Well. Maybe your grandma has a point. You should get a cane.”

The entire population of the pool stopped their conversation, tanning and swimming to turn and stare at the crazy woman laughing so hysterically with an old man in the shallow end.

“You would be surprised how great people are when you have a cane,” Grandpa continued above my laughter. “They open doors for you, offer to carry your bags, help you down stairs and out of your seat. They usually like to talk to you while they are helping you, so if you had a cane, you could find some nice man who helps you.”

“Sure, Grandpa. And then if he turns out to be not such a nice guy, I have a weapon to beat him off with, right?”


Grandma didn’t quite support the idea when we told her over dinner, but she did appreciate his attempt to help her in fixing my love life.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Abnormally Normal Living

I have never had a normal schedule. Some days I start work at 4 am; some days I work until 1 am. I don't get traditional weekends off. Sometimes my "weekend" is Tuesday and Wednesday. However, one recent "traditional" weekend, my friend Meaghan and I decided to make a list and see how many of the “normal” weekend things we could accomplish. We didn’t have Saturday off, but we did have Saturday night and all day Sunday to see how normal we could be. However, like with everything I do, nothing is ever normal.

Normal Activity #1: Go to a bar with a friend.

Normal activity #1 Turned Abnormal: We go to a tiki bar. No, I do not live in Hawaii nor was this some retro-chic place in Hollywood that charges $15 for a cocktail. It’s a dive tiki bar in North Hollywood that Meaghan described as like “being inside of a coconut. With puffer fish!” To add to the abnormality, there is a DJ spinning not the hottest Tiki-themed music, but spinning the typical dance/hip hop music you would hear at any other place on a Saturday night. Who else could have found a place that looks like a coconut with puffer fish hanging from the ceiling yet plays seemingly normal music?

Normal Activity #2: Dance with strangers in said bar.

Normal Activity #2 Turned Abnormal: On any given Saturday night, there will be a female getting drunk in celebration of her birthday. However, how often is the drunk, birthday girl a woman turning 40 who likes to grind on everyone while they are bellying-up to the bar? Normally, when a young lady has someone grinding on her from behind, it’s some creepy guy who usually smells like a mixture of body odor and too much Drakkar Noir. To top it off, who else can say that they joined a conga line that went throughout the bar?

Normal Activity #3: Use a restroom with a questionable level of cleanliness.

Normal Activity #3 Turned Abnormal: When a girl walks out of the restroom and says, “Don’t flush the toilet paper down the toilet because it won’t flush,” you know you’re in for a ride. However, when you walk into a restroom where a toilet has obviously overflowed recently and is in the process of doing so again, you do the only thinkable thing: plunge the toilet. Who else can say they plunged a toilet in a public restroom? (And may or may not have used the urinal later in the night when the women’s room finally broke beyond repair…)

Normal Activity #4: Make plans for Sunday brunch.

Normal Activity #4 Turned Abnormal: Originally brunch plans were for 10 am…then 1030 am…then kept getting later as the night went on which ended up being set for noon…Ok maybe that’s not that abnormal…

Normal Activity #5: Sleep late on Sunday morning. (Bet you thought I was going to say “go to church” huh?)

Normal Activity  #5 Turned Abnormal: So I guess it’s not that abnormal but I used to be able to sleep until 11 am and still wish I was sleeping more. But this particular Sunday, when all I wanted to do was sleep, I could not keep my eyes shut past 7:30am. I did force myself to stay in bed, but it’s just not the same as waking up with the sun already high in the sky. Hmm...maybe I should have gone and seen what this whole "church" thing is all about...I was up early enough for it, right?

Normal Activity #6: Enjoy brunch.

Normal Activity #6 Turned Abnormal: Oh man, it looks like my abnormally normal weekend is beginning to look totally normal.

Normal Activity #7: Run errands to prepare for the week.

Normal Activity #7 Turned Abnormal: It was beginning to look like we were turning into totally normal weekenders. By the time we got to the supermarket, it was almost complete. Almost.  After deciding half way through the trip that we needed a cart, Meaghan somehow found one that not only didn’t work properly, but almost took me over into the cart when it locked right outside the market. Normal people would have attempted to get the cart out of way or get it to the car. Not me. I told Meg to grab some bags and leave it right where it was, totally blocking the entrance. The whole way to the car the two of us laughed hysterically about how when things seems to be getting normal, something nearly sends me ass over end to remind us that “normal” is just not how we live.

Friday, December 2, 2011

When Travelling Lightly Backfires

Every time I fly, there is always one person in the airport security line who doesn’t know what he/she is doing. There’s the, “What do you mean I have to take my shoes off?” girl and the, “Since when do I have to take out my laptop out of the bag” guy and, my personal favorite, the woman who says, “But that moisturizer is $100 a bottle! What do you mean I have to throw it out?!” Usually, I am the one stuck behind this person and get very irritated at these ignorant and unobservant people and end up angry because their delay means I have to choose between my pre-boarding bathroom break or getting coffee. (You can guess which one wins.)
Well, the last time I flew, I was that person.
I usually don’t pack lightly, and when I fly Southwest, I don’t really care. If I don’t have to pay a fee for a bag, who cares if I check it? But, after all the times I’ve travelled with a large suitcase and then had to battle on public transportation, I decided if I can fit it all into my carry-on sized bag, I would do it. Then I thought about all the times I have a panic attack at baggage claim because my bags aren’t the first out, and I realized if I can fit in all in the carry-on, then why the bother checking it?
I went out and bought a few “TSA Approved” size bottles for my shampoo and conditioner and came to terms with the fact I would have to use whatever hairspray my cousin had at her place. I only brought the curling iron instead of the usual hair dryer-flat iron-curling iron combo I typically take with me everywhere. I cut down the amount of shoes from 6 pairs to just 3. I even pulled out all the liquids from my makeup bag and put them into the one quart Ziploc baggie. I thought I was so prepared.
Until I went through security and they had to open my bag because there were not only tweezers in my makeup bag but also scissors.
In all my careful planning, I hadn’t thought to take the stupid fracking tweezers out of my makeup bag. I honestly had forgotten about the little travel scissors that I stuck in my makeup bag a few months ago while furiously cleaning my bathroom before a guest came over and realized how incredibly vain I am with all of my products and tools. I stood there,  not arguing at all with the TSA agents who are all looking at me like I’m crazy. I think most of the crazy looks were not because I had forgotten to take out these “weapons” from my bags, but because I wasn’t arguing. I was well aware that I had done and was owning up to it. I even let them throw out my tweezers and scissors without protest. The poor TSA didn’t know what to do with someone who was being cooperative.
In the end, I got through security and made it to San Francisco.  Not, however, without a few angry looks from the passengers who got stuck in security behind the dumb girl who couldn’t remember that scissors and tweezers in a makeup bag makes you a possible terrorist instead of just a high maintenance woman didn’t think to check her makeup bag for heavy artillery. I did, however, make it in time for my pre-boarding bathroom visit AND coffee.

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Charlotte Woes Continue...

I have said before how much I love pomegranates and, being fall, they’re baaccck! Nothing makes me happier than walking through my local farmer’s market and seeing those lovely red fruits at every stall! I bought two and am already ready for more!
What got me even more excited was when, on a walk with my friend Meaghan, I saw that an apartment building on my street had some of these wonderful treats growing over the sidewalk.
I have been told before that it is not considered stealing if the fruit is hanging over the sidewalk, so, naturally, I reached up to pluck one and take it home with me. I was twisting the fruit to make sure it wasn’t rotted or anything and there was huge spider covering the entire backside!
Needless to say there was some screaming and running down the street on my part and lots of laughing and mocking on Meaghan’s part.
I believe it was karma for trying to take the fruit off of someone else’s tree. I think I’ll stick to purchasing mine from the fine farmers who get rid of the spiders for me first.