Tuesday, December 11, 2007

You May Not Know That You Think You Might Need This

Ryan just showed up in the chilly bedroom with a skull mug full of Good Earth tea with honey--exactly what I needed after one of the most frustrating days in recent history.

Some of you know already that every time I go to the doctor I seem to have some completely asinine conversation with someone who is apparently a "medical professional."

(And as an aside, the end of my day is now being made more joyous by someone's car alarm going off right outside my apartment for the last 15 or so minutes.)

Anyway, I've had a cold for nearly 3 weeks now and it's all stayed in my sinuses. Now, my sinuses and I are well acquainted so I know this is likely a sinus infection. I finally go in to the doctor today, arriving at 1:55 p.m. for my 2:10 p.m. appointment. My temperature is taken at 2:20, followed by my blood pressure and then....it's 3:05 p.m. and I am still in the front waiting room. So, me being me, I finally go hover in the nurses' station and ask when I'll be taken to a room. They ignore me for a minute and then finally:

Nurse #1: "Are you here to see Dr. S----?"

Me: Yes.

Nurse #2 (shakes head): Dr. S----.... oh... (sighs) she's so backed up; we don't have rooms.

Nurse #1: We don't have a room yet.

Me: You told me that 45 minutes ago.

Nurse #1: Let me check on Room #4.

Nurse #2 (to me): There are no rooms.

Me (in my head): What is this? A hotel?

Nurse #1: Follow me.

So, yay!... a room. And there I sit for another 30 minutes. I nearly walked out, but still feel poorly enough that I feel like a prisoner. Finally, the doctor shows up,
and barely utters an apology and asks me what's wrong with me. I suck down the vitriol I have in my throat and explain. I tell her I also have bad allergies so I wanted to be sure this was something else and not just my "normal" congestion. She looks up my nose and at my throat, "hmmmmm"s to herself and says "Well, you might have a bit of sinusitis. Or maybe not."


Me: "So, is it something other than just normal congestion?"

Her: Well, you say you have tenderness in your sinuses.... (trails off)

Me: Um, yeah. I've had what seems like a cold for 3 weeks.

Her: Oh, well, then, yes, it could be. But you know, it may clear up.

Me: So......?

Her: (types on computer)

Me: SO.... do I need antibiotics?

Her: Well, I will fill out a prescription, but maybe you should wait and see if it gets better.

Me: It's been 3 weeks. I feel out of it and lethargic and congested.

Her: Well, you know, we don't just like to prescribe antibiotics...

Me: I understand...

Her: You know, with that superbug (laughs).

Me: Excuse me? That's a staph infection, right, not sinusitis?

Her: Yes, but if you take too much penicilin...

Me: So are you telling me NOT to take this?

Her: Well, I will write the prescription and you can fill it if you need to.

Yes, it's all a wonder I did not throw myself out the window by this point. Let's tack on 40 extra minutes for going to the pharmacy, and then waiting for them to post my name on the LED board, which they never did, so 30 minutes after it should have been ready I finally braved the huge line and they say "Yes, of course, it's been ready for 20 minutes!"

I left the parking garage at 4:30 p.m., ready to punch anyone who possibly got in my way.

And now I have penicilin. And a fear of the superbug. And hatred for this doctor. And a headache.

Hence the tea that Ryan so sweetly set in front of me. Sometimes it only takes a skull mug to make it all better.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Who's Mortgage Is It, Anyway?

At the risk of sounding... oh, like a Republican (shudder), why is there such a sudden interest by Congress and the White House in helping out people who bought houses at inflated prices with bad credit who knew their mortgages would re-set?

Oh, right... not only is 2008 a Leap Year, it's Election Year.

The best part of all is that once you get past the lame AP headlines of "White House Announces Plan to Aid Those Ailing in the Ailing Housing Market" etc., you get nifty little nuggets like this:

"Bush said that 1.2 million people could be eligible for help under the plan, developed in negotiations with the mortgage industry led by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. But only a small fraction of that number will be subject to the rate freeze."

So this is helping the market how, exactly?

"Also, the aid will only come to those who ask for it, he said. Thousands of borrowers who are falling behind on their payments have been sent letters about the options, and Bush also urged people to call a new hot line: 1-888-995-HOPE."

I see. If I buy a house and know my mortgage is re-setting, then I send out the bat signal, I mean, call a hotline.

"Bush originally gave the wrong number for the hot line; the White House later corrected him."

My guess is Bush couldn't spell H-O-P-E or completely lacks understanding of what the word means, since nothing he's done the last 7 years inspires any in anyone.

In case it wasn't obvious, I am considerably cranky today.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Death to Friendster

I don't know why I didn't do this sooner, but I finally just deleted my Friendster account. Remember Friendster? It was Myspace before Myspace morphed into Facebook...or something like that. It hardly matters; you know what I mean.

I seem to remember being really excited when Friendster first appeared because it seemed so novel--the whole "connect with people online" thing that wasn't about trolling for sex (though you could have used Friendster for that, I suppose; I never got enough profile views for it to matter).

I labored over that profile--trying to make myself sound as eclectic and yet attractive to the general populace in the hopes that I'd somehow be validated by this computer-based socializing. There was a whole "Electric Dreams" element to it, really...as if the computer on which I was creating all of these cheeky, super-cute descriptions might accidentally fall in love with me. And then I'd totally spurn it, of course.

Looking back at my Friendster profile last night, I, too, was underwhelmed. No wonder I never saw any action as a result. "Is that me?" I wondered. Then I looked at Myspace and Facebook and saw a similar profile and wondered if I should just delete all of them... BUT, I like playing Scrabble with Tim and Blaise on Facebook, so I kept that. And Myspace had better pictures of me, so...

Or is the truth that I, too, no longer know how to be alone? (How's that for technologically induced existential angst?) There's something so validating about knowing someone's looking at you online and "interacting" with you and telling you how great you still look--which is a lovely by-product, I admit. And I do genuinely love quasi-reconnecting with folks to whom I may never send a postcard. But how far does that interaction go? I guess only my Scrabble win/lose record will tell me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Clearly Needed A New Obsession

I can be a bit obsessive.

Like the time I had to drink nothing but Crystal Pepsi for a few weeks (and, in tandem, came the magical journeys into Bennington, VT, with Barbie to find it). Then I had to smoke Camel Wides. Then I had to play Addams Family pinball obsessively. Then it was Pin Bot. Then I had to buy everything 4AD Records ever released (well, almost). Then I sat on my knees on the dusty carpet in Amoeba Records and bought tons of movies that I honestly think were never seen by more than 2 other people. Then I went to the beach nearly every weekend this summer. OK, so I have some problems.

I often think of my particular musical obsessions, especially since I no longer work at a magazine and therefore have a hard time justifying spending my time surfing online looking for obscure bands who have upcoming album releases.

But I have so few musical heroes, really. That surfing was me always looking for an album that would give me a chill. I've found a few here and there: The Glee Club, The Places, Corrina Repp--all artists I am sure you have heard about, right? Almost all of them seem to be women who have failed to conform to some kind of model of what the music business wanted them to be. I am sure I could draw the typical correlation between me being a big homo and how my living "outside societal conventions" makes me feel like the long lost brother to these women. Or whatever.

But the older I get, the more I realize that in general I have a hard time being a good, predictable consumer--and therefore am very much ill at ease with marketing and advertising. Don't get me wrong: I will happily buy an iPod or a pair of New Balance shoes, but I can barely handle watching car commercials, let alone "Extra" or "Entertainment Tonight" or pro sports. There's just no pretending anymore. We're supposed to entertained by Paris Hilton and Evanesence and Carrie Underwood and want to buy people diamonds because we're in love and houses and fat cars and fatter clothes and cute dresses at trendy boutiques--i.e., those Daily Candy.com will write about next month--and slim ties because now they're back.

Music, for me, is particularly prickly. It always seems like a total accident when a smash hit--like Rihanna's "Umbrella"--is something I, too, like. But mostly I just know way too much about the music labels in this town and what it means to be popular. And it doesn't seem to be getting much better. Granted, I am 34 and it's not 1985 anymore. I am much more jaded. But I am also much more aware that there is a ton of music out there that I need to find. Music that will move me. Music that still has the ability to give me a chill.

I was sharply reminded of that tonight, reading something written by Kristin Hersh, who is something of a mini hero to me (mostly because I am amazed by her guitar playing and can't figure out how a mother of four has made something like 20 records in 22 years). Her voice is a "love her or hate her" proposition, I know--something often said about some other women with particularly strong voices, such as Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney... go figure, since Kurt Cobain and Black Francis got away with it.

Anyway, the point of this is that Kristin Hersh can essentially not make any money in the record business model. A woman who should be considered a trailblazer (no one would hate Corin Tucker's voice if they hadn't hated Kristin's first) basically is nearly broke after working for 20 years. Her last CD from early '07 just didn't even blip on the radar and she nearly lost all of her money on tour.

So what does she do? Well, she begins recording music, offering it online (as she's done for years), and sets up a model to basically act as an organic farmer of music-- homegrown, sent directly to the consumer, even going so far as to say you can be named an executive producer of her new CD if you front the money (like many in the business anyway). And yet none of it seems gross. In fact, it seems like all the bones of the music-making process are now laid bare. She even has her Pro Tools stems up online to let people totally remix and re-record the song.

If she was a shitty musician, it would feel embarrassing somehow. But it's simply not. And as much as I like collecting physical albums (yes, vinyl) and CDs, this feels like it's the way it has to be. If you love your music and someone says "Here, you can have this" for a small fee and there's not Warner Bros., no Interscope, no Universal shoving it down your throat, what do you do?

You obsess over it, of course...which is what I've been doing with this:
Krisitn Hersh: Slippershell

And for the record:

The Glee Club

The Places

Corrina Repp

Monday, November 12, 2007

Aloha! Days 7 and 8

So, this picture is actually from the day before this begins, but I forgot it on the last post, so you'll just have to deal with it. Besides, the last day of the trip is really just about me sitting in the airport on Maui wanting to cry and not really about the trip. I realize, however, in looking at this image of Ryan and I, that I have never in my life spent so much time with my shirt off.

The days after our Road to Hana adventure, I was fairly adamant about not really doing much of anything. We did some driving to nearby places like the Up Country to do some shopping in a cute little town...which is where we were warned about speeding:

Ryan kept making Star Wars noises to imitate the PT Cruiser being blasted with laser beams that would keep us in check, should we stray over 50 mph.

Iao Valley was beautiful as well, though slightly overrun with people. Still, you can tell just from this picture that Ryan snapped of the clouds, that there's a reason why it's revered as a holy place:

We started one day with wandering on the lava fields south of Wailea to see where the road ends, as you cannot drive around all of Maui without 4-wheel drive. While tromping around on the lava we did catch sight of some curious signs:

At first I had no idea if this referenced just the lava itself....

I soon learned, however, that the Hawaiians did indeed build on these fields of sharp, sun-baked rock. Amid the strewn about black lava that made this look like a moonscape on a tropical island were remnants of shelters or some other kind of utilitarian structures that had not quite made it to protected status. Hence... the sign, obviosuly.

But I was fairly entrenched in not doing too much more than lazing about on the beach. To that end, Ryan was very accommodating--which was awfully sweet of him, considering he kind of knew the whole area well already. By far the best beach(es), in my mind were Big Beach and Little Beach. They have other names, but it doesn't matter much. After all, Big Beach looks like this:

Can you blame me for just wanting to park my ass on the sand and stay there? Little Beach was actually better for body surfing; Big Beach had insanely large waves breaking right on shore--the kind that kill you. A rock separates the two beaches, so you climb up and over it to to dscend from BB to LB. Little Beach is also the nude beach, which, of course, was not overflowing with beautiful bodies. I mean, it was hardly shocking to see Europeans and hippies and body surfing. What was fascinating to me is that there were strata of people who maybe would have never interacted other than on this strip of sand in this cove on this island in this tiny part of the world.

And there were plenty of locals--even plenty of kids on boogie boards and families surfing. I didn't strip down at first, as I just wasn't sure I wanted to. But after 10-15 minutes, you realize NO ONE cares and then I tossed my trunks on to the towel and we headed into the warm water. There's something really wonderful about being naked in warm sea water. I can't really pin it down, but it was just perfect... and I wasn't afraid of jellyfish this time around.

Our last evening, I asked Ryan to show me a pretty locals beach that was near all the resorts--one that was kind of tucked in between all the Wailea compounds (after all, in Hawaii, no one owns the beach; the resorts have to allow public access). We curved our way into a tiny parking lot and went down some stairs and emerged on to a nice beach, dotted with rocky patches. Near us, groups of resort goers were lounging and waiting for the sun to set. A table was set on the beach where someone would be having dinner....and we just surfed the small waves that came gliding into shore, watching the sun sink lower and lower. After playing around in the tidepools a bit we began walking back to the car, reluctant to leave since it would mean we were officially done--that we'd have to head back to L.A. too soon.

Of course, first we had to snap pictures of each other with the beautiful sky behind us.... Ryan liking the spontaneous "Hey, look here" picture, while I went for the more traditional "act like a deer in headlights" request:

But then we just sat there and watched the sky turn oranger, redder, more and more beautiful. I didn't want to make a move to have to go drive, to eat, to have to pack up shells, sea glass, and rocks. I wanted--as I always do when I am somewhere beautiful--to just stare as long as possible in the hopes that the images would just burn into my brain, stored somewhere, perfectly recollected when I needed them to be.

Nothing works quite that easily, I know. But what helped in watching this last sunset on Maui was knowing that I was lucky enought to get to do something I'd always wanted to do--and share it with someone I wanted by my side the entire time.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Aloha! Days 5 and 6

No, it's not me wondering what that black spot is doing floating next to me. It's ... well, I'm not entirely sure. I'm channeling my father a bit here, I think. But it's definitely me in Oahu on a beach that had lots of jellyfish washed up on shore (and therefore we weren't swimming... unlike the image below of what quickly became my favorite beach):

But it was now about time to say goodbye to island #1, which I was feeling kind of happy about simply because I really wanted to get my butt to Maui and just not have to return to Waikiki. That's not to say that Oahu wasn't great, of course. I mean, after all, I'd swam with sea turtles and Ryan picked beautiful, sweet-smelling flowers to put in the rental car as we drove the hills above the city to get a bird's eye view of the southern part of the island:

We also spent time at the tourist spot of Hanauma Bay, which is a popular place for everyone who comes here to snorkel and, as Jessica says, "find Nemo" over and over again. Sadly, the wind was a bit intense, which made the snorkeling a bit difficult. Still, what a gorgeous place:

I have to admit, though, that Maui was *much* more my speed--fewer people, a bit more dramatic in its landscape, with a combination of fantastic beaches and volcanos, cliffs, and lush landscape. After getting our car at the Kahului airport (a PT Cruiser--the stupidest car around. Apparently, you can't get much smaller when you rent from Thrifty!) and checking in to the Sunseeker, a gay-owned small motel in Kihei, we made a bee line for the nearby beach and jumped in the water and watched the sun set through the clouds. But first Ryan did the quintessential Hawaii pose:

The water was much more gentle here, with Kihei being slightly less overrun by resorts and faux luaus that you'd find further up the west end of the island near Lahaina, etc. Ryan had lived here for a while about 10 years ago, so he knew where to go--and exactly what I would find appealing--namely, fewer screaming children and horrible tourists.

We made a plan to make a full-day adventure the next day by getting up early and driving the road to Hana. Anyone who's done this (or even heard of it), knows it takes hours to drive the winding, two lane highway across the north end of Maui to get to the wet side of the island--which becomes more and more like a jungle the further along you go. Ideally, of course, one would stay the night over there and explore to his or her heart's content, but the lodging options if you're not camping are very limited. Still, I wanted to see all of the waterfalls (not to mention all of the otherr PT Cruisers), as well as the black and red sand beaches, which have held my fascination for the nearly 25 years I've been reading about them).

We stopped in Haiku at a hippie vegetarian restaurant to get sandwiches and were on our way pretty early.... the road putting even California's Highway 1 between Cambria and Big Sur to shame. It was impossible to do more than 20 miles an hour most of the time. Still, the views along the way were sometimes breathtaking.

Once we finally made it to the Hana side, the skies were gray and rainy, but it hardly mattered. This was wild, volcanic jungle, dotted with the aforementioned exotic beaches, which, in person, were nearly mystical.

Rayn at the black sand beach (where the water was really kind of out of control... we didn't dare go in (esp me, given all the "Danger: Portugese Man-O-War" signs)

Me in the water at the red sand beach, which you can only really access by trespassing on land owned by the Hotel Hana Maui--which we didn't feel so bad about. Only a few people were there, and it was like a volcanic grotto/cove:

I wished we could have stayed here and enjoyed a sunny day and overnight, but the rain came down in sheets soon after we stopped swimming and collecting shells and sea glass (of course). We waited it out in the "general store," which reminded me of awesome out-of-the-way places we used to stop at on road trips in Oregon and Wshington.

I didn't get to see nearly enough of this part of Maui, so all the better for me to come back, right?

When the rain cleared we turned and headed back west, me determined to make it to Kahului before it was completely dark. The last thing I wanted was to be on that road in the pitch black. I mean memories are all well and good, but me in a PT Cruiser on the Hana Highway at night. Um, no thanks!

Happily, we made it back to the dry side before it was too treacherous. Just enough time to find food, hit the beach, and go to sleep.

p.s. some pics were scanned by Krista for me... though I guess the scanner was a tad, um, dusty... ;)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Well, It's About Time


Lesley's blog is up (and linked on the right). I keep telling her: "One-woman show. One-woman show," but of course she ignores me.

More on Hawaii soon!


Friday, October 19, 2007

Two Minutes Later....

Now Lesley says she'll send the URL to me, but reads the previous post and decides she WON'T send it to me after all. Is this what abusive relationships are like?

Lesley Is Withholding Valuable Information


Lesley finally lets slip that she's starting a blog and won't give me the URL because it's apparently "not done."

Hurry up. I have to read it and listen to you edit it obsessively.

Stay tuned for the link.... I'm sure her blog will be awesome. If anyone read her "Hey there, Yaz fans!" piece that I reposted here, then you know what I mean.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Aloha! Days 3-4

The joy of Oahu is being able to see anything outside of Honolulu. Once I'd put Band-Aids on my toes after being slashed open by the coral at Queen's Beach near Waikiki I felt more than ready to see the rest of the island. Since Ryan's friend Leslie had lived here and he'd spent some time visiting her, we hit several beaches he knew on the Windward Coast, exploring different little stretches of usually deserted sand (a lot of tourists simply don't come here, even though it's all of 30-40 minutes from the city). Even on the not so spectacular beaches (which means it's still beautiful), we found lots to stare at and I took "arty" pictures of coconuts.

As we got closer to the North Shore, Ryan essentially started salivating because he knew that we were getting closer to his favorite shrimp truck, so I watched as he devoured garlic shrimp in about 5 minutes. I should have gotten a picture of the paper plate loaded with shrimp and giant chunks of garlic, but for some reason I left the camera in the car, so I settled getting a shot of the truck, which clearly illustrates just how beloved this thing is:

The North Shore is, of course, as gorgeous as I thought it would be. But it was also less populated than I imagined. For such a famous surf spot, I assumed there would be a ton more resorts and houses, but really, aside from the inlfux of daytrippers like us, it's fairly quiet. And at this time of year, before the giant waves start crashing on the reefs offshore, the beaches are actually quite gentle. Sunset Beach, in fact, barely had any waves at all, which was great in one respect, because we could take turns strapping on my goggles and diving down to the sandy bottom near the shore and collecting shells (one of which, of course, I learned later, was so pretty because it usually is home to a highly poisonous creature that, had it been home when I grabbed it, probably would have fucked me up big time; leave it to me!). Of course, we both ended up getting stung by tiny jellyfish that you can't even see. It felt like a bee sting, and poor Ryan got one stuck in the leg of his swimsuit, lashing his skin a few times before moving on.

Nursing our stings/bites we jumped back in the car to grab food and eat at Waimea Bay and watch the sun go down, which was beautiful, natch. And the next day we came back up here to get shaved ice at Matsumoto's (so worth it) and swim some more, this time getting to watch as a giant sea turtle swam right underneath us, very very close to shore. The turtles are absolutely beautful and awe-inspiring. It's no wonder Hawaiians afford them a place of honor in their culture.

Heading further out toward the Northwest point of the island, Ryan took me to a favorit beach of his, which, at first, was windy and almost cold, but, as the day wore on, became much more hospitable, and we wandered the sand, combing for sea glass and watching eight different sea turtles come in close to shore to look for food and rub their shells on the coral and rocks. And again, we saw maybe four other people on the beach. Apparently, it's a locals spot, so tourists don't make it out there often.

Where the road ends here, however, the landscpe becomes more rugged, with the rocks running down from the mountains out to the ocean. Obviously a big party spot, it was a bit trashed, which was too bad, but the coastline views made up for it.

I have no idea what I was doing when Ryan took this picture by the way (but at least I look better in the one following):

And of course, I had to get this shot, because even in paradise, who doesn't love their own bottle of Black Velvet?

We didn't drink it, for the record.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Get Up (Everybody)

It's 8 am on a rainy morning in San Francisco, where I've been working for almost 2 weeks. I am kind of cranky, maybe slightly hungover from gimlets last night. I spent 30 minutes walking back to my hotel last night on the phone with Susan, making her listen to me as I bought Ryan a beer cozy at Walgreen's (because what shows your love for someone more than that?). On the phone with her, I remember why I adore her so much, and what a shame it is that we do not see each other more.

So, today, at 8 am I inexplicably hear in the elevator at my hotel Salt N Pepa's "Get Up (Everybody)," which is now almost 20 years old, and which Susan and I can probably rap to in tandem with them we know it so well, and it made me laugh. Four women in their 60s were in the elevator with me and looked kind of horrified, which made me laugh harder. The day has started well....

More Hawaii pics when I finally get back to L.A.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Aloha!: Days 1 and 2

When we landed in Hawaii (and boy is the flight great when you only bring carry on luggage), I was prepared for Honolulu to be kind of gross, and it was, but it was also exotic in a way--like a Southeast Asian city in the U.S. somehow. Laundry is strewn from apartment building balconies, but the ocean is so pretty and the air smells like flowers for a moment... Picking up the car in a weird back alley near the airport we saw lesbians getting ready to go on cruises, a Sonny Bono look-alike in an aloha shirt with what appeared to be a Malaysian transsexual from Las Vegas, and lots and lots of fat people. I was not encouraged by this, but I kept looking at the distant mountains, knowing something beautiful was out there.

As we drove into Honolulu proper, I finally saw the beach and Diamond Head and got kind of excited. After all, I'd watched Magnum P.I. and the Brady Bunch Goes to Hawaii, and I admit I had those images seared into my brain...and really, they're not far off the mark. Waikiki is kind of like Disneyland and a high-end mall slash hotel rolled into one--fascinatingly horrid.

It was warm but not too humid; the sun was hot, but the water beckoned. It's like the island was simply made to be enjoyed with the idea of throwing yourself in the water. After we dropped our bags at the hotel, ate lunch at a Mexican place (really!) and then got to our room (gee, it was cheap for a reason), Ryan and I high tailed it to Queen's Beach, which is adjacent to Waikiki, and.... the water is so warm, so clear, and SO FULL OF CORAL. Literally, thousands of coral pieces floating everywhere, so I get scraped and blood drawn on 3 toes. "Is this what Hawaii will be like?" I wonder as I nurse my poor toes.

Luckily, no... the next day, we drive up the Windward Coast, aka the wet side of Oahu, and I get to see some spectacular sights, including the pali (aka the cliffs) and the Hygienic Store:

Even better is the beautiful stretch of beach Ryan shows me. It's literally only 10 minutes up the coast from some of the most visited parts of the island, but it was completely empty, save some tents and homeless people camps here and there in the brush between the road and water. But just seeing the color of the water was enough for me. (The self-portrait wasn't supposed to be me sneering, but the sun made me squint!)

Ryan in the water:

Me not looking as excited as I was:

As we drove further up the east side of Oahu, the scenery got more beautiful and dramatic, as the cliffs often just seemed to thrust up out of nowhere. We also stopped at fruit stands on the side of the road to get pineapple cut up by a machete and for me to drink water from a coconut (delish!) and then attempt to eat it with a plastic spoon (not as delish).

There was more to enjoy though, since the coconut didn't do the trick, and as we continued toward the North Shore, Oahu got more and more beautiful.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


How can you want to leave a place that looks like this?

Answer: You can't.

More on Hawaii soon....

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The State I'm In ... I Mean, Am

Who knew you could take a state quiz to find out which state you "are"?

And yet, here's me... I'm not sure I understand, but I kinda like it all the same!

You're Alaska!
You're big, bulky, and extremely wild. At the same time, you're rather cold and standoffish, even a loner of sorts. Taming you may be one of the last great quests of the people who do manage to find you or even seek you out. So many of them just want to plunder you for what you have of value, but there are a few, the ones who will stick with you, that truly value your rugged remoteness. As long as no one is spilling stuff on you, you are truly beautiful.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Gimme More... of What?

I am so weak. I totally admit it. After spending all day with my head firmly planted in front of Microsoft Outlook and apartment rental listings on Craigslist, I finally gave in and watched the Britney Spears "performance" (I am not sure there was performing involved) of her, I mean someone else's, "Gimme More" at the VMAs last night.

I'd really love to say everything you might think I'd say: it was pathetic, kind of gross, and just representative of how sad the state of the music business is...even how sad Britney is. C'mon, she looked drugged, disoriented, and disinterested. It made me think that a more daring comeback would have been for her to just really embrace her heritage and do some kind of commercial for Wal-Mart. Except she's just so darn addicted to that Hollywood lifestyle, so Bentonville, Ark., doesn't want her...

It was like the final nail in my youth coffin, these fucking VMAs. But I don't think it's that I am getting too old to appreciate pop (hey, I own that Rihanna CD and like it very much, thanks). It's just that who cares about half the shit the VMAs and MTV are trying so hard to celebrate. Do I give a shit that Kanye West and 50 Cent have some kind of "beef"? Um, no. Could I care less that Kid Rock (who?) got in a fight with Tommy Lee (at least he's a bona fide rock star)? Um, not so much.

I casually perused these tidbits of news, and then thought about how some of my favorite musicians--people who actually know how to play instruments--are going broke and may not even be able to tour or make a living anymore while we get Britney teetering around on her stilettos shoved down our throats. That's not new. People used to talk about how Madonna and Wham were destroying music. OK, so maybe Wham kind of did (oh, wait, that was Andrew Ridgeley's solo album). But it just seems that where TV, radio, and retail could at some point operate independent of major corporations there was always an element of surprise.

The music "business" would like to say that illegal downloading is taking away profits and destroying artists, but if people really wanted to create art, they'd do it anyway, without Sony/Interscope/EMI behind it. When you think that only a few men control these companies, these radio stations, these supposed music television channels (Why do the VMAs even exist anymore? Does MTV actually play videos?), it's all too clear that the mass produced music forced on us is often just junk food for the ears. They let some real talent slip through now and then, but when Clive Davis kicks the bucket, who's going to be able to promote real artists in these parameters laid out by shows like the VMAs. I can't wait to see.

Meanwhile, I've been listening to stuff that almost no one will ever listen to, and marveling that it's even been laid down and recorded. It's not all good, of course. But it feels more honest than anything I saw from Vegas last night.

It's also hard to care much about the fluff right now, with the anniversary of my father's death having passed, knowing Barbie's grandmother passed away yesterday, thinking of my own mortality as I struggle with quitting smoking--what a stupid fucking addiction!--and feeling glad to be rid of it again.

It's not the right time for me to care about Britney, Paris, Lindsay, even Nicole, Tom, Posh, and Becks. Ultimately, I like seeing them dress poorly and then feel grossed out by thinking of how much so many of these people waste in the name of feeling loved and still never finding it. Gimme more, indeed.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Does This Even Need a Title With This as the Lead Image? (See Below)

I don't listen to the Scorpions all that often, and yet today, this album is hitting the spot, I have to admit. OK, there, I said it. And yes, I actually own "Blackout." I'm not just pretending.

I grew up in a neighborhood that was split along many lines--but most notably music. You had two choices for music, most often: rock or rap. Most of the older kids in my neighborhood were total metal heads. Name your late '70s or early '80s band of choice, and I am sure I heard their albums--several times each.

But among the noise of Iron Maiden, Motley Crue, Dio, even Molly Hatchet, I had a soft spot in my little gay heart for the Scorpions. Don't ask me why. I am not sure I'll ever understand why myself. It's not exactly heavy metal.... it's more melodic, anthemic rock. But I was drawn to it, inexplicably, yes, but all the same.

In particular, I loved "Blackout." I was only 9 years old when this album came out, but everyone around me was 13-17 and so it was their perfect summer soundtrack. How can you not remember "No One Like You"? It was a radio and MTV staple, and I ate it up.

What simultaneously scares me and makes me laugh is that I still know most of the words to this album--and I still love it. Granted, I am listening to it in the privacy of my room at the moment, but it still gives me a rush. It reminds me of being young, days and nights free in the hot summer to hang out in neighbors' houses, watch people drink, get high, take off in their first cars, feeling like adults, blaring their music as loud as it will go.

What's even funnier is that a few of the songs on "Blackout" are actually political. The 7-minute "China White," for example, always sounded like a riff on Led Zeppelin to me, but re-reading the lyrics, it says, among other things: "How long will it take/To make the world a flaming star?/How long will it take/Till they stop their senseless wars?"


Who knew I was responding to a screaming German man named Klaus who was singing about "filling our hearts with love again"? I didn't at the time.

It's always amazing what a sensory experience music can be. I marvel at remembering songs like "No One Like You" that are nearly 30 years old--that were such integral parts to a very specific moment in my life.

I suspect the Scorpions started my love of a master guitar player. Granted, I respond more to kick-ass women playing it these days, but listening now, I can't help but marvel at how good the playing on "Blackout" actually is.

Plus, I was feeling kind of aggro today and needed a soundtrack. Now I know what to play when I feel like this.

Now, excuse me while I go back to paying bills and singing along to "Dynamite."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Life Made Easier?

I made the mistake of turning on the TV last night.

Unless it's 6 or 7:30 p.m. and I know The Simpsons has already begun, I rarely do this. If I had The Weather Channel, all bets would be off, because I could watch Doppler radar images for 36 hours straight and make everyone crazy.

But the unfortunate eyeball-searing spectacle was Miss Teen USA, which I knew Lesley had attended because her step-niece was crowned last summer in Palm Springs and there she was taking her "final walk" and then Mario Lopez was squawking about something stupid, and then the 5 finalists were whittled down and voila...Ms. Colorado was crowned! She was innocuous, and so was everything else. And then I saw the set, which looked like a Lichtenstein painting--which just seemed like some gross postmodern irony. If you had no idea who he was and were, oh, 15, and then saw a painting, you'd think he had cribbed it from Miss Teen USA. I clearly have little optimism about the intellectual prowess of Generation Z or whatever we're calling them now.

Turning off that fresh horror, I wandered aimlessly about my apt., fidgety because I am not smoking, and it was day 4 and I felt like I could strangle someone and then I'd feel great, and then I'd want to punch the wall. It's testament to how horrible this addiction is, I suppose. And I remembered how awful it was to quit in 1999. But also how much better I felt. And best of all, how much money I saved.

I thought about trying to write, but I feel so ADD right now. I can usually sit down and pound out a diatribe, essay, story about any number of subjects. I think it may be the fear of finishing something that keeps me scattered. I had this odd epiphany in the midst of taking the GRE for the second time last weekend. It was the analytical writing section and I hadn't prepared for it at all, really, but the two types of essay I was being forced to write just seemed so simple to me. The words could only be ordered in one way. I wondered about the "bigger" pieces of writing that I have been trying to gain forward momentum on and thought just in that moment that I may never finish, because if I did, I'd have to come up with another idea. And it just seemed so exhausting. (By the way, I got the SAME lackluster scores both times I took the GRE and gave up; I can't take it again, and, at 34, feel like I just don't care that much about this stupid test. I'll find a way to do what I want somehow. I doubt algebra and analogies will determine my fate.)

Granted, a lot of that has to do with spending every minute of free time in the last several weeks either traveling for work or studying for the GRE. This is the first weekend in 2 or 3 months where this isn't hanging over me and I feel adrift--like I have too many options.

I had been tackling this essay about my father's death and it was stinging me and I had to let it go for a minute. I'd not had that sensation from writing something in a long time. I think I'd been able to steel myself against the pain of his death for a long time, and 21 years later, something else has to be worked out. I don't know how Joan Didion did it exactly, writing about her husband's death so acutely. In interviewing people in my family again, it opens up sores that some of them have never let heal. And, by turn, it brings back to me the feeling of having just turned 13 and spending an entire summer in the hospital wondering what was happening to my dad and to my own childhood.

Needless to say, I am approaching this essay with more trepidation right now, circling it, in a sense, before I feel ready to dive back in.

I've been wanting life to slow down a little bit, and so far it's bending to my will. I think the last big hurdle is this apartment hunt. You know it's bad when you have dreams about exacting some kind of revenge on your neighbor and wake up feeling RELAXED. Geesh.

My chores today? To drop off stuff at a thrift store, go to Amoeba, and drive around parts of the city to apartment hunt. Oh, and to buy file boxes so I can start packing books in my house--a way to force myself to really go out there and find an apartment How exciting is that? To most, not very, I imagine, but it feels like bliss right now. And the best part is that it's August 25 and only 78 degrees. Damn, I just realized that in 3 days I will have been here 9 years. Maybe that means by next August I have to move.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

They Say If You Put It Out Into the Universe....

....well, then, someone/something will hear you.

So I am putting it out there: I need a new apartment! :)

Oct. 1 or Nov. 1 move-in is ideal. If you know me: I need 4 things:

1) Built before 1950 preferably (i.e., hardwood floors, tiled bathroom)

2) Quiet

3) Parking

4) Upstairs --unless we're talking some detached/weirdly layed out patio unit or treehouse or something.

I reiterate that the housing market in LA SUCKS. Not that y'all didn't know that but I just had to say it again.

End communication.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Blogging Black Hole

I've been swept up into "life stuff," and the moment it stops, I go to the beach and throw myself in the ocean and watch the dolphins. Really. Two weekends ago, I was in the water and there were dolphins jumping and playing about 50 feet away. That's one of those "Oh, yeah, this is why I live here" moments.

Taking the GRE again on Saturday. I can't seem to learn more math. I keep getting the SAME score on every practice test. I think my brain is in revolt. Even though I "get" how it all works, I can't properly execute it. Honestly, deep down inside I just don't care enough about proportions, slopes, percentages, and factoring. Just one of my shortcomings, I guess.

Apartment hunting is a horrible thing in LA these days, too. How does anyone afford living alone, anyway? I make OK money and still the prices are outrageous, and make no sense: a 1-bedroom in Eagle Rock for $1210 on Craigslist; a 1-bedroom for $1180 in Santa Monica right below it. Huh? Not that I want to live in either neighborhood, but you catch my drift.

Back to the grind. I will hopefully get some pics of New Mexico and details on that trip soon!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

When Something Becomes "Official"

As in, I officially have nothing wrong with me, thanks to a very unpleasant medical procedure.

As in, I officially suck at taking tests, as evidenced last weekend. And I've officially signed up for the GRE again because I like being tortured apparently.

As in, I officially transition into a new "job" as of September 1st, though at my same company.

As in, I officially am tired of my current living situation and have begun to look for possible new apartments.

As in, I officially am 34 and feel pretty good about it.

As in, I officially have a boyfriend, and I feel pretty damn good about that too.

As in, my sister has officially moved to Portland, and I feel a small hole in my heart about it, even though I know I am 34, have a job, friends, a life, and she's only a 2-hour plane ride away.

As in, I officially have a set a date for when I will quit smoking (Aug. 20).

As in, I officially have tickets to Hawaii with Ryan for Sept. 16-24 and I am so friggin' excited about it that I could scream.

As in, I officially have a glass ashtray full of sea glass collected from all my trips to the beach so far this summer.

As in, I officially leave for New Mexico in 36 hours to go to The Lightning Field--a gigantic land art piece about 3.5 hours SW of Albuquerque.

As in, I have officially been a lazy blogger and have nothing better to do than think up smart-ass ways of writing entries.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Fucking Math

No, the title cannot be more creative, thanks. My creativity is sapped at the moment.
I am having a fucker of a time re-learning the stupidest arithmetic--namely decimals, percentages, and fractions. Funny, I can easily recall how to calculate the area of a cylinder, triangle, or circle, and I know how to factor and unfactor quadratic equations, and I can maybe even remember how to calculate the slope of a line on an x and y axis, but give me a percentage conversion problem and I feel like a fucking idiot.

Wow, that's a lot of "fuck" in one paragraph.

What an insane transitional time, with medical tests (clean bill of health!), my sister moving to Portland next week (bummed--big time), and this giant test looming over me. My brain feels so scrambled. BUT-- I booked my tickets to Hawaii! I am so excited I could scream. I cannot believe I am finally going after 30 years of staring at maps and wondering how my own eyes would see these islands. 8 days on Oahu and Maui in September. Escaping the worst month in LA is a bonus, too.

Now, back to the flashcards and re-learning absolute values, factorials, and converting mixed numbers.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Who's Johnny? Indeed.

I can't even explain how this happened, but "thanks" to Lesley for unearthing in my consciousness the fact that there is a whole Web site message board dedicated to fans of "Short Circuit"--specifically to #5, aka Johnny.

If you want to sear your eyeballs feel free at:

But after reading the most recent post on the message board, I feel a whole lot better about myself. It's kind of mean, and yet it's true. Someone had the time, energy, and thought power to put behind this. And to answer this guy's (I am assuming of course this is a guy) question: Yeah, things changed. Why? BECAUSE IT'S 2007, for one. Secondly, #5 IS NOT ALIVE. And lastly, Steve Guttenberg and Ally Sheedy are no longer stars.

This has been your Hollywood update, now enjoy the musings of a movie-robot lover:

"Do you remember last year when there would be people regularly posting on here?
It seems that in the past 12 months, the whole forum has died.

Apart from the few new members who make no more than 10 posts, there's not much happening.

Even with the rumors of a Short Circuit remake being made, no one seems to really care.

If i'm being quite honest, I have gone off of short circuit a bit. I used to check back here every day, but thats changed to about once every two weeks.

All the members that were around last year seem like they hae left.

I know that theres only so much you can say about something that pretty much ended in the 80s (apart from the fans) but it doesn't seem like it did last year.

we were all excited about the website update and the 20th anniversary of Short Circuit.

Seriously guys, what has happened?

Am I wrong or has things changed."

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Missing Eyes and Growing Older--All in One Month!

It's been a blur of non-activity around here lately. I guess I've been too busy celebrating our country's independence from those Commie English bastards. Oh, wait, no, the real issue is that Mercury is in retrograde, so it feels like everything happens in slo-mo, as if dripping with molasses--and you're constantly misunderstood when you try to speak.

OK, OK, not really. I won't ascribe all my issues to a tiny planet that orbits too close to the sun. But good lord there were some moments where it seemed easier to blame everything on that astrological event--especially the day at Trader Joe's when I saw a woman bite it big time on the linoleum floor. Really--face first down on the tile as if some force felled her like a two-by-four clattering to the ground. Then she got up, unharmed, and proceeded to drop her keys three more times. THEN, when I finally got to the parking lot to leave, a woman missing an eye drove past me. Yes, drove past me. All she had was what looked like an extra long eyelid where her eye used to prop it up.

It's just been a peculiar start to the month. The last couple of days were delightful--finally getting to spend some real time with Ryan alone for the first time in a month, enjoying the 4th between the beach, a pool, and a barbecue at my sister's house. She's leaving in less than a month to move to Portland, which I am in total denial about. More on that another time. It was a marked contrast to spending half of Sunday with heat exhaustion, 4 hours at Kaiser's Urgent Care center getting poked, prodded, and having blood drawn to learn that there was nothing much to learn.I had indeed been in the sun too long and it coincided with some other lovely ailments. I'll spare you that story too. Let's just say that I have to have a certain procedure (love that word; don't you?) done that none other than Katie Couric had televised. I LOVE hitting my mid-30s! Wooo!

Oh, yeah, then there's that: The birthday.

I honestly don't care that I am turning 34. In fact, I get to play on the beach for that too, and I couldn't be happier. But damn, when your body revolts on you it's hard not to have a moment where you think "Really? Is this what it's gonna be like?"
Plus, when you have a bunch of people in your family die throughout the years and you used to be a hypochondriac--well, it's the perfect storm sometimes. But you know what? In general, this is the best I've felt in a while. I'm done traveling for a little while, too. Which means I get time to study, turn 34, have some quality boy time, and make a run for the beach.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Your Silverglo Stays on My Mind

Dear Silverglo:

How it can be that we have so many treasured memories from our short time together in Aspen? It seems like I shouldn't feel this way; in fact, I am not sure if I ever have. But those 4 1/2 days at your condominium complex really touched me in a special way. How could I sit back here in smoggy Los Angeles and not think of your alluring pillows:

And when I came home dehydrated and semi-drunk, you were there with your comforting objets d'art:

In an unfamiliar room where I lay my head every night, you offered comforting decorative touches, including what I think might be the most beautiful man purses I've ever seen:

I was impressed, too, with how our breakfast area immediately felt so warm and inviting:

Even Beth couldn't help but be charmed by your joie de vivre and irrepressible whimsy (that is what it was, right?):

Without you I would not have felt quite so at home. Even now, I can't believe it actually happened. It's all like a dream. I just can't wait for the next time we meet.



Monday, June 25, 2007

Oh, yeah, writing...

Isn't that what I am supposed to be doing here? I forgot. I really meant to just post pictures of the condo I stayed in with 6 of my colleagues in Aspen in mid-June, but I've not been home much and I keep forgetting to download them. I took to calling it "'70s Native American Chic," if that gives you any idea. And it was part of the "Silverglo" complex--if that gives you any MORE idea...

By the time I got back to L.A. last week, I was pretty much spent. I think I was exhausted by 10 pm every night. It wasn't until yesterday that it did not feel like every little thing was a huge project to be completed.

Now I just have to solve the mystery of the weird black stains that showed up on all of my white clothes and my recently washed sheets. How annoying. Of all the things to want to expend mental energy on, locating a rogue pen or something that splattered black stuff all over my clothes is not one of them.

I owe Carly a sample of writing in 2 days. She gave me this deadline (or, rather, I offered it) weeks ago, and I am completely stuck. If I got stoned on any regular basis maybe I'd use it as an excuse, but I hardly ever do so I only have my own two hands and brain to blame. The chapter that has to be written (it's crammed in my head in jumbled ways; it has to be the one to come out next) is about my father dying. In theory this sounds maudlin and horrible to write. In truth, it's just confusing. There are so many ways to go about it. I even thought about a timeline of the year before and after his death that actually avoids talking about him, to illustrate how someone's death punctuates your daily life. But that would be like creating a sculpture of negative space or something. I don't know. She'll have something in hand unless I have a nervous breakdown, but I can't promise it will be good.

And then there's the saga of my neighbor, whom I'll dub "The Abuser," for his lovely way of flying off the handle about the noise in Steve's room and the sound of the dogs jumping off the bed, and then apologizing for it afterward. He's truly upsetting and makes it very hard to want to be home when he spends the 8 am hour slamming what sounds like a hammer against the wall for 30 seconds, goes away for 10 minutes, and then comes back and does it again. Seriously. The whole apt. was shaking last week. He literally told Steve he was going to make his life "a living hell." Yes, we complained to the landlord. No, nothing's happened yet.

I like my apt. a lot, but I don't like it THAT much. In fact, I very much despise this person at the moment for the way he's acting, and it's got nothing to do with me and yet I live with the crazy uncertainty every day of what he might do. I really fucking hate that. And now I remember clearly why I loved living alone. It's been 6 years since I last did. I think it's time to reconsider that again. Well, it's time to keep considering it. As much as I hate moving and as much as the rents in this city suck and make me think about leaving, for the time being, it may be the best option.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"Fuck, Yeah!" and "Hey There, Yaz Fans"

I couldn't resist this title for a post, despite the fact it will mean nothing to almost everyone. Before dinner last night, I taught Jessica how to do the "Fuck, yeah!" sign that Ryan taught me, but she one-upped it as we ate, pointing to something she was eating with both hands as if she were flashing gang signs, doubling me over in hysterics and then she started and then our dinner companions were laughing, unsure why, as we cackled through the rest of the meal.

But then I truly made myself sick on the phone with Lesley at midnight as she tried to pick songs for her myspace page and was debating a Yaz song. To which I said she should change her profile so every part of it referred back to Yaz; examples:

About me: I heart Yaz.
Hobbies: All Yaz all the time.
Favorite Books: Anything written on the Web about Yaz.
Heroes: Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet.
Favorite Movies: A Brief History of Yaz and Yazoo.

But then she just pretended to be greeting all of the page viewers with saying "Hey there, Yaz fans..." and between the wine I'd had and my delirious state, I wheezed like an old man on the steps to my apartment.

God, I'm easy.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Oh, and...

Since I'll be in Aspen and not blogging...
Happy Flag Day!

Anyone who knows me well enough is cringing right now, I just know it. Don't worry, you escape (yet again) my threats to have a red, white, and blue party and make Flag Cake.

Counting the Miles (and Days)

I used to think traveling for work would be a blast, until I realized it meant hundreds of emails to catch up on and general disorientation...not to mention jet lag, muscle cramps in my legs, and dehydration. Don't get me wrong; I like leaving town. I just realize I need the balance of traveling for myself vs. my clients.

I was just in New York to do meetings, media lunches, and attend a taping of the Today Show, which was surreal enough... with Anna Kournikova in the green room with kids from the Boys and Girls Club of America to promote Anna's newest DVD about "getting fit with kids" or something... and Stacy from "What Not to Wear" being kinda bitchy and then leaving the room dressed in a rugby shirt and track pants. Speaking of what not to wear... A producer told me she loved my shoes, though, so I guess I did something right. Or wrong. Depends on how you look at it.

NYC is much as I remember it. It's hard to be there for more than 4 days without feeling a tad suffocated. I really do need the open air, ocean, mountains, and sky nearby. Still, I fled Midtown on Friday for Brooklyn and hung out with Megan and drank rose (roh-zay, that is) wine on her fire escape and saw Keith, Darren, Larry, and others for drinks as well. I was happy to kick off dress shoes that were killing me and slip on the ol' flip flops. I only miss Brooklyn when I go to NYC now. And the art. I guess most of that is still in Manhattan.

And now I am off again--to Aspen, Colo., for 4 1/2 days of work trailing a chef around the Food & Wine Classic. Luckily, he's awesome, but 4 days of running around at 8000 feet and trying to stay hydrated should be interesting... I can't wait for next Tuesday, honestly. I am running out of steam.

Plus, I admit it, finally, in "print": I'm enjoying Ryan's company too much to want to be gone so often. I'd much prefer to lounge on the beach with him, as I did Sunday in Malibu, looking for sea glass and eating delicious sandwiches. I don't know what to call what's happening right now, but, as we both said: "I like it, whatever it is." And in fact, I have planned the trip I said I wanted to. It's preliminary, but looks like we'll head to Frankfurt, Berlin, and Amsterdam in Sept. I am going to suck it up and just go for it. I've never been; I've always wanted to go; I have a hot guy to go with, to boot. If we can plan 3 months in advance, something is going right, huh? And neither one of us seems to be panicking about committing to doing this. Even better.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Random Picture of the Day

I shot this picture at a hostel near McCarthy, Alaska, in August of 2005.

Let's be clear: McCarthy is a town that is 60 miles or so up a dirt road that had partially washed out when we were driving up to it. We almost did not get through. It took 3 hours to drive that distance, ending up in this tiny Western hamlet of about 40 year round residents, where, apparently many years ago someone in town went crazy during the long, cold winter and killed a bunch of people. Nice.

Still, it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever been and the saloon in town was even run by a gay couple (oh, another note: I was on a gay trip: 8 gay men tromping around Southeastern Alaska together; I was writing about it for Frontiers even though I'd quit by then).

To get to the main part of town you had to cross a foot bridge over a river that, at the time, was swollen with silty, glacial runoff. Why? Well, the road simply ended at the river. (OK, you could drive a car across, but it was on a separate bridge that looked more rickity than the one we were on.)

Standing on that small bridge, you could look up at the brown ribbon of water and see, in the distance, triangular volcanic mountains still covered in snow, a huge glacier snaking down into the valley as well, covered in silty sand, looking like some kind of cold desert landscape.

We had been camping in the cold and rain--as well as kayaking in a glacial bay near Valdez--and staying at this hostel provided us with our first hot showers in 3 days. After nearly scalding myself, and happily so, we tromped into the main kitchen area to prepare for dinner. That is where I found this painting hanging on the wall.

Bear in mind, this was essentially a log cabin A-frame building, and since we were in the middle of nowhere, literally, surrounded by forests that were home to several beautiful bald eagles--and boy are the beautiful when you see them fly--the painting seemed a propos. Still, the cheap, thrift-store sheen it had is likely what made me want it even more. I don't think Brad, the eccentric owner who kept a bench press in the makeshift dirt driveway near his room, would have handed it over willingly.

Standing there in wool socks on a cold August evening, drinking wine and watching the rain drizzle down and obscure the dramatic surroundings, I contemplated how I could stealthily sneak in to the kitchen in the dead of the short summer night, wrap the eagle up in my coat, and put it in my suitcase. But I didn't, or else I'd have posted a picture of me standing next to the painting in my apartment.

So, is this a post about a missed opportunity art heist? I'm not sure. I just saw the picture tonight and the whole scene popped into my head, complete with details from the next day when I strapped on crampons and hiked the Kennicott Glacier:

But that's another story.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Photographic Memory

I think it's tomorrow. Still. At least, that's how my body feels. I pop awake at 5 a.m., hungry. Breakfast comes and I do not want to eat. I couldn't have dinner until 9 p.m. tonight. The jetlag is slowly ebbing away, but damn if I only remember slivers of Friday night after I got home--except that Lesley, Ryan, and I downed my souvenir bottle of sparkling Shiraz/Pinot in no time flat and then yelled things at the TV as I caught up on the last three episodes of "America's Next Top Model"--who is a Latina drag queen! God bless this country.

Thankfully, instead of coming home feeling like I'd been beat up, I thought back on this trip and realized it was actually incredibly enjoyable. It was not too much time in a car; we were near Adelaide most of the time, and we had tours from people who were so good natured. I really do love Australians--even when they can be as trashy as Americans.

The trip began in Adelaide, with tours of the city and the Central Market, another of my new favorite places. It's where you can by frog cakes (I can't even get into it), tacky souvenirs, and the best produce around, which is saying something in a state of Australia renowned for its food.

Of course, you can also buy lots of GAME MEAT. Yum. 'Roo!

I could go on and on about a Saturday night spent out with some lovely gay guys who organize Feast, the local LGBT festival, but the other side of that story concerns drunken behavior by a few others along for the ride that sent two of the writers I was with into a bit of a panic (and rightfully so). Let's just say that we nicknamed certain offenders Creepy and Grotesque and leave it at that. Still, getting drunk and enjoying the local color is always fun--esp. when you are walking back to your hotel at 2 am and getting text messages from writers that are cracking you up and making the few homeless people on the street look at you funny.

We took off the next day for the Barossa Valley, where some of the world's best wines are made. We stopped off at Penfolds to mix our own blend of wine. Mine was 60% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, and 20% Shiraz, and I was awfully proud of my tasty libation.

Of course, we all felt like we were in some kind of night school adult education chemistry class (or maybe it was just me)...

But at the end of the day, we got to walk out with cute little bottles of wine. They were supposed to keep 5 days. When we opened mine 2 days later, it was utterly nasty and had the taste of a tire about it--nothing like those other romantic tasting notes like "cut grass" and "cherry."

Still, staying in the Barossa Valley when it's actually rained is gorgeous. It helped that we were lucky enough to score rooms at a 16-room luxury resort with outdoor showers and views of some of the most amazing expanse of sky. I'd not seen the Milky Way in so long. It almost makes me cry when I see it. But then I woke up at 7 am with the sunrise and saw the vineyards:

So of course I sat outside and took photos of myself reflected in the window on my terrace. Because you can't spoil a good sunrise with self-portraits:

Luckily the weather held, and the next day we headed up into the Adelaide Hills and visited more wineries. It rained as we gorged at lunch on local cheese and coffee and watched the leaves on the maple trees in the town of Hahndorf turn yellow (it's fall there, don't ya know). But then the rain cleared and at the last winery of the day, this was the view from where we did our tastings:

More wine tasting the next day in the McClaren Vale, another renowned wine region, where I even got to see where some of my fave sparkling Shiraz is produced (Vixen), and laughed as Larry screamed at a Huntsman spider--a hulking, jumping thing that is totally harmless...which he kept running toward to snap a picture and then, every time it moved, he screamed and ran away. All for the good of the story of course.

By the time we may it to the beach to eat at a Greek cafe I was partially drunk, my stomach unhappy, and I could only stare at the ocean. Of course, that's when Larry got this shot:

We combed the beach after lunch, looking for cool rocks and cuttlefish skeletons. I could have easily just slept on the beach for a few days.

But there was no sleeping. It was off to the city to catch a 30-seat plane to Kangaroo Island, a 25-minute flight from Adelaide and easily one of my favorite places on earth. Granted, I have not been THAT many places, but it's a pastoral country with rolling beaches and rocky inlets where you can see so much wildlife it's kind of ridiculous. We saw tiger snakes, an echidna (egg-laying mammal that kind of looks like a porcupine), not to mention kangaroos, and, at Seal Bay, a baby seal that came within about four feet of me when he wandered down from the sand dunes on his way to the ocean, barking like a dog:

The southwestern corner of KI is a desolate wild place that's pretty stunning, and as we walked around Remarkable Rocks and Admiral's Arch trying to contemplate how the ocean stretched forever until it finally hit Antarctica, I of course found time to be totally geeky and take pictures of lichen--as well as some more self-portraits halfway inside the rocks:

The last full day on the island was at my new favorite place, Lifetime Private Retreats, where I swear I will spend a month at some point just learning to garden and doing yoga overlooking the ocean. The "resort" is simply three houses near a small beach on the north shore of the island, where you can eat dinner under a fig tree or in an old shearing shed. Trust me, the 22 hours of travel to get there is worth it. And of course, I for some reason have no pics from this trip when the hills were so brilliantly green and lush. But I was a lucky enough son of a bitch to be there last December too:

I made it back at 6:40 am Friday May 18 after leaving Adelaide at 6:40 am on Friday May 18. Wrap yer head around that one.

To tell you the whole story would take me years and you would be bored, no doubt. But I was more than happy to be back. I needed to find the perfect place to put my new small boomerang carved from a tree in the Simpson Desert, give Ryan his Barossa Valley beer cozy (why on earth do they have beer cozies in the most famous wine region of Australia?), and Lesley her chocolate-dipped honeycomb with honey from the last pure strain of Ligurian bees on earth.

Because what good is going to Australia if you don't come back with the weirdest shit you can find... I mean, short of trapping an echidna?