Friday, April 30, 2010

en fuego

So whatever I did to keep my face from sunburning today was a technique I should have more rigorously applied everywhere; my face is still a lovely shade of cream, but most of the other areas of exposed skin are the bitter, angry red of a lobster after meeting his doom. It's not oh so bad, but my knees are burnt enough to hurt, and the prospect of doing it again tomorrow is some cause for concern.

However, do it again tomorrow we shall; despite the sunburn, today was such a great day that I can only hope for more of the same (with perhaps less wind, and perhaps a higher SPF lotion) tomorrow. We got up at a reasonable hour, took our time getting ready (which mostly consisted just of slipping into swimsuits and talking), had breakfast on an outdoor patio overlooking the sea, and then spent the day lazing about in the sun. We started on the beach itself, but the wind was so strong that we were getting sandblasted while laying on the beach chairs, so we relocated to the poolside chairs. We took a break to have an extended lunch, then spent a bit more time in the sun before commandeering on of these 'thai beds' (which were basically big four-poster beds on stilts, with ineffectual canvas curtains waving in the breeze). The thai beds were a totally lovely concept, and would have been absolutely perfect had the gale-force winds not made the thing feel structurally unsound. But we stayed there until the sun angle reached the point that the rays infiltrated the bed, and then we found another set of chairs with an umbrella that provided marginal protection. Despite our best efforts, and copious amounts of sunscreen, the sun clearly won this battle; while we're going into tomorrow wounded already, I'm determined to see it through. Perhaps I'll spent most of tomorrow on my stomach, since I have spent the past two days almost entirely on my back and so will have quite the uneven tan if I don't take drastic measures.

If the biggest worry of my day was how much sun I was getting, that's a really good sign. After we had our fill of the sun, we came back, cleaned up for dinner, and had a drink at one of the bars before going to dinner. The restaurant we chose for dinner was called Azia (sic), and they do teppanyaki-style grill service for eight people at a time. "Celeste" and I were a bit concerned when we were seated, since we didn't realize we were getting into a group dining experience, but we ended up spending almost the entire time talking to a couple from Houston who are in the costume jewelry business (and had some complaints about the customer service offered by my company; I didn't mention how closely I have been involved in that very area of our company, but it was still kind of a crazy to have that conversation over dinner). The food was excellent -- we had some very good sushi, and then the teppanyaki grilled steak and scallops were to die for.

Overall, the food and alcohol have been topnotch; since this place is all-inclusive, they could easily get away with serving slightly more subpar stuff, but dinner tonight easily rivaled other ritzy dinners I've had in San Francisco, and I've had an endless stream of delicious mojitos to fuel my ongoing buzz. I'm actually not really buzzed at all (today was tame from an alcohol standpoint, with one mimosa at brunch, one mojito by the pool, and three mojitos with dinner), but overall Celeste and I are inordinately pleased with our decision to come here.

Now, though, I'm going to go to bed and give my skin a chance to rejuvenate before the morrow. Goodnight!

cuticle massacre

I successfully lived through another day -- I won't blog for long because I'm exhausted and Celeste (that may or may not be a pseudonym to protect the innocent, since Celeste's family doesn't know she's here) and I have stayed up talking for three hours, but I didn't want to leave my fans hanging (although with Celeste here and not reading my blog, my fan base has declined precipitously). I had an extremely relaxing day; I got up late, had breakfast at the delicious breakfast buffet, went down the road approximately 100m to a shopping center to get some facewash and moisturizer, and then came back and got a manicure (hence the cuticle massacre -- the woman was super nice, but she was really aggressive with the cuticles, one of which bled for ten minutes and only seemed to stop bleeding when the woman painted over it). Afterward, I spent the rest of the afternoon drinking mojitos by the pool, eventually falling asleep with the rum and sun (although there wasn't that much sun -- it was mostly overcast, but still strong enough to burn the white strip where my watch usually lives despite the pre-pool sunscreen application).

I spent the evening at the resort's dinner theatre activity; I would have waited for Celeste to show up, but the show was only happening tonight, so I went without her. The food was good and there was plenty of alcohol, although their performance was about as good as the presentation that Katie and I put on for Spanish class back in the day in which we dressed up as the ghosts of the ancient Maya (which met with v. poor reviews from our classmates, although our teacher laughed so hard that she cried). I then came back to the room and finished reading a romance novel; Celeste showed up at 11pm, and we spent the last three hours talking and availing ourselves of the free room service. And now, it's definitely time for bed; we're getting up early tomorrow with the sole goal of lying on the beach and doing nothing, so I need to rest up. Goodnight!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

once upon a time in mexico

Happy 1700th post!

I arrived safely in Cancun and have yet to be killed in any drug-related crossfire (as expected; not only is Cancun thousands of miles from the border violence, but this resort is a gated property within a gated community, which does nothing for getting a feel for Mexico but everything for feeling completely removed from the cares of the world). The worst thing that has happened so far is that I realized that I should have figured out how to get some of my own moisturizer and facewash into my little quarter-sized baggie (nearly impossible, given that I needed to bring other items and refused to check luggage just so I could have some moisturizer). So, I will have to go find a store that doesn't charge $18 for sunscreen like the hotel shop (which I might have paid for moisturizer, but they didn't have any I liked).

But if that's the worst thing, I'll take it. Actually, the worst thing was that the sun didn't shine the entire afternoon, and it was raining when we landed; since I didn't get to the hotel until almost 5pm, this really didn't matter, but hopefully it clears up tomorrow. A close second to the worst thing was having to get up at four a.m. to go to the airport (although this was worse for Adit, since he didn't have a trip to look forward to, and instead just had to turn around and go back to our friends' house to try to sleep for another hour or two).

On the whole, though, the trip was uneventful, the driver who brought me from the airport to the hotel was really nice, and the resort seems to be great. The room is lovely (I'll take pictures if I get ambitious), dinner was good, and they mix some truly excellent margaritas (which is all anyone really cares about). I had dinner in one of the restaurants overlooking the sea, so even though it was still overcast as the sun set, the choppy waves were v. nice to look at.

V. briefly on yesterday, since I basically said nothing last night; I got up at 6:00am so that I could make it to the far reaches of San Jose for a dentist appointment by 8:10am (dropping Adit off on the way, making two unnecessarily early mornings in a row for him). I made it to the dentist, and once again had no cavities (I haven't had one since early high school days, despite drinking more diet coke than is healthy for any human being); the dentist asked me where I grew up, I said "Iowa", and he said "that explains it." I then asked whether Iowa explains my lack of cavities, or the unsightly black fillings for the only two cavities I've ever had, and he said "both". After that enlightening conversation, I went to work and slogged nonstop until 7:20pm (which was the time when I should have picked Adit up - as you can guess, I was late), and just barely managed to finish all the critical stuff before vacation. Adit and I then had dinner with Anton, Amanda, and their sister-in-law who was visiting from out of town (and works for John Deere in Davenport, incidentally); we went to some Japanese fusion place in Cupertino where you can't wear shoes in the restaurant and Adit could eat virtually nothing, so that was fun (I make it sound worse than it was -- some of the stuff was delicious, but I thought it was just a bit hit-or-miss).

And now, after that recap, I'm going to go to bed; as you can probably tell from the length of this post, I brought my laptop with me, but I need to make a concerted effort not to use it during the day unless I'm actively writing on it. Wish me luck with that (I'm like Lindsay Lohan in that regard, only replace a massive addiction to cocaine and a desperate need for attention with "the interent" and "information" respectively). Goodnight!

according to adit, nickelback sounds like they're vomiting instead of singing

Sadly the title is the best content you'll get tonight - I have to go to bed right now so that I can get five hours of sleep tonight. I'll post tomorrow from the road!

Monday, April 26, 2010

rubix cubans

I have nothing of interest to blog about tonight. I worked from home today, which allowed me to do laundry and take care of other tings around the house while slogging and getting ready for vacation. After a day of such endeavors, I got through quite a bit of work stuff, a lot of laundry, all packing necessary for the trip, and some edits on zee romance novel. Now Adit and I are indulging in some family time by watching part of last night's episode of "60 Minutes" -- and then I really must go to bed so that I can get up early and make it down to Los Gatos for an 8am dental appointment. I'm sorry that this is lame, but you'll have to forgive me. Goodnight!

mr. and mrs. man, to you, a son: ice!

I'm falling asleep over my keyboard, so this will necessarily be brief; but the highlight of the day was that Vidya came over and finally succeeded in making me watch "In the Loop". It's ostensibly a satire about the lead-up to the Iraq war -- but it was also the funniest movie I've seen in months, if not years. The British humor was perfectly done, and there were some extremely memorable characters (the violently angry Scotsman and his little angry-Scots assistant, for example). You can also expect that the blog titles for the next few nights will be quotes from the movie -- I'm in love!

I rest of the day was v. lazy; I did drag myself out of bed at 8:30, cleaned up, took the muni (which was experiencing ridiculous delays) to the mall, had a latte to wake myself up, and then checked in for a massage and a facial at the place I went to in February. It was perfectly relaxing and I like that masseuse -- I've had her twice now, and she's excellent even if I do feel bruised afterward. The facial appears to have helped my skin, but oddly enough the aesthetician spent two-thirds of her time massaging me rather than cleaning my skin (even though she knew that I had just gotten at legit massage from someone else).

Anyway, after the spa, I went to Borders in the mall and picked up a couple of paragraphs (plus an introductory history of the Crusades), and then had a leisurely lunch at the cafe inside Nordstrom. I eventually made it home, where I talked to my parents for quite awhile. Then I spent some time doing research for my book before Vidya came over -- and now I'm going to bed! I'm working out of the city tomorrow, so getting up early isn't totally vital, but I do have a lot to get done if I'm going to make it to Cancun. Goodnight!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

the songmaker says it ain't so bad

I feel that I can't do justice toward today by recording it in standard blog-style prose. Quite simply, while it ended in a slow downward spiral, it was one of the nicest days I've had in awhile, and it's a good memory to sustain me through the initial shock of relocating to the suburbs.

After I went to bed last night, I slept for a couple of hours before being awoken by Adit bringing home some friend of his. They were both drunk, and they v. drunkenly (and v. loudly) made food and talked about business strategies until three a.m., at which point I passive aggressively went to the bathroom and said "no" in a small voice when Adit asked if they were keeping me up. I've done a lot of hard work to try to make myself less passive aggressive, but there are moments when I fail, and three a.m. is a time when I'm particularly susceptible to falling into my own wyas.

I was able to fall back asleep, but when I walked out the bedroom door at eight a.m. to use the bathroom, the first thing I saw was the random dude coming out of the bathroom wearing nothing but an ill-fitting pair of grey boxer-briefs. This was v. unexpected, since Adit is quite modest, but I survived nonetheless.

Upon second though, today was totally ridiculous. It was still nice, but I perhaps talked it up too much at the beginning. After I finally got properly woken up, I did the dishes while Adit cleaned up after his departed friend, and then I took a quick shower and got myself prettied up. Adit is in the process of selling his furniture, and so in quick succession we were visited by Sergio (who looks absolutely nothing like Sergio in the SNL sketch, unfortunately), and this woman who bought the coffee table. She was a classic Craigslist experience -- while she took the table and paid cash (good), she immediately asked to use the bathroom, then came out and asked me to come into the bathroom with her. It turns out she had gotten her period (fine), but the smell of whatever had happened before that was almost enough to make me throw up, and then she quite cheerfully announced to Adit when she came out that she's going through menopause and this can happen at any time, and if he's getting married he should get used to it. Then she ended up getting Vidya (who had arrived between Sergio and the woman) to carry her half of the table. Classico!

But after all that got sorted out, things went on a definite upswing. Vidya and I walked down to Mission Beach Cafe to put our names in while Adit showered; we waited for over an hour, but it was well worth it in the end. My department gave us each $100 that we could expense for a meal with a friend or family member, so I decided to use mine to take Adit and Vidya out for an expensive brunch. We succeeded in spending exactly $100 (although I put in an extra $3 in cash to round out the tip) -- we had two giant mimosas (equivalent of a bottle of champagne), a small quiche as a starter, three entrees (dungeness crab benedict for me, wild mushroom benedict and some version of huevos rancheros for Vidya and Adit), a slice of strawberry rhubarb pie, three coffees, an orange juice, and a glass of milk. Everything was delicious, and we stayed for at least a couple of hours -- long enough to properly enjoy ourselves, and long enough that I feel a little less sad that I'm missing Adit's last weekend here because I'm going to Cancun next week.

By the time we got home, it was around 3:30pm (long/late brunch, right?), and Vidya decided to go home while Adit and I watched the season finale of "Project Runway" (my favorite designer won!). Adit then took a nap while I began working on my book; I'm debating cleaning up the first three chapters for a contest, so I'm doing some historical research to see if I can fill in the blanks by the context deadline on Tuesday. We rallied to go out for dinner organized by Lily in honor of Adit's departure; I wasn't really feeling the going out (and particularly not the being hungover tomorrow), so I only had a glass and a half of wine, but everyone else (except Vidya, who also didn't have much) did this ridiculous all-you-can-drink wine dinner, which resulted in them all getting completely wasted. It was fun to hang out, but I realized that I didn't really want to go to another bar after that, particularly since I'm getting a massage and a facial tomorrow and I would like to be in good, well-hydrated shape for that.

This guy named Caca (not his real name, but I'll spare the real name to protect his identify) showed up at dinner late and visibly drunk already; with the all-you-can-drink dinner, he got beyond wasted, to the point that he could no longer figure out how to stand up or stay standing without assistance. So, Omar, Vidya and I managed to get him into a cab, and Omar got out with him at his street to try to get him back inside. Omar has not been heard from again, even though he was supposed to call me when he was ready for a ride, so hopefully Adit tracked him down instead. I did manage to take Vidya someplace more fun than my apartment, and then I came back here to curl up and get some sleep.

I'm hoping that tomorrow will be a good blend of productivity and relaxation; I want to write for awhile, get boxes, get some milk, and possibly do laundry (if not tomorrow, definitely Monday - it's getting desperate), but I'm also getting the aforementioned massage and facial, I want to check out the latest shoes (of course), I will talk to my parents, and Vidya intends to come over and watch a movie tomorrow night. So hopefully the combination of most of those things will happen tomorrow. Regardless, I think it's definitely time for bed -- goodnight!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

i'm gonna destroy my ego

Today was perfectly lovely, but I'm utterly exhausted, and so you're not going to get as much out of me as you deserve. I took Adit down to the glorious south bay this morning due to some issues he's having with his car, and so I spent the commute sipping my tea while Adit lived in fear of what terrible song might emanate from my iPod next. After dropping him off at work, I made my way back to my own office, where I slogged all day. One of my projects was filming a v. brief talk by the big boss, which went well. But now she's "out of pocket", as the consultants say, since she's going on vacation -- and in only a few days, I'll be leaving for Cancun!

After work, I met up with Heather (aka dear respected madam) at a nail salon near our office; she wanted to get a manicure, and I decided to go for a pedicure. It was a v. relaxing event, even though the salon was absolutely overrun by teenagers preparing for tomorrow's area proms, and now my feet are smooth and my toenails are a perfect shade of fuchsia. After the salon, we attempted to go Vive Sol, but discovered the parking lot was a disaster; so, we went to Fiesta del Mar, where we ended up waiting half an hour for a table. The food was well worth it, and I had half a margarita (even though one of the waiters always tries to convince me to order a second one). We had a lovely time together; I'm v. glad that Heather and Salim have moved back to the area, and I'm also glad that we're going to all be living in the glorious south bay in the near future.

When I got back to the evil city, I went straight to Vidya's to watch a movie with her. However, the combination of too many chips and half a margarita rendered me almost comatose; we looked through Netflix Streaming Video (let me tell you, it's not a YouTube killer -- the content was terrible), but when we decided that the best possible thing we could see was a movie called "Samoan Wedding", we decided to utilize the service to watch a few episodes of the British version of "The Office". I made it through one episode, but just barely, and so I decided to part ways with Vidya before I fell asleep on her cough.

Tomorrow I need to get up and write before my brunch plans begin; I had the horrifying realization on the way home (an extension of the week-by-week-planning that I divulged last night) that there is only one weekend in the next seven in which I'm home. That means I need to unpack quickly so that I can come home from all of my voyages to a relatively ordered apartment.

Now, though, my eyes are rolling back in my head, which I always take as a sign that perhaps I should sign off. Goodnight!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

imma be rockin' that good life

My day was fantastic until I suddenly had an awful headache while driving home -- I occasionally get these weird tension things where it seems impossible to relax my forehead, which makes me tempted to pull a Nicole Kidman and get enough botox to permanently erase all signs of emotion. Tonight was one of thoese nights, which was unfortunate; when I talked to Adit earlier, I was intrigued by the possibility of going to a wine bar, but I'm going to go to bed instead.

As I said, though, today was quite good; I was v. productive at work, with a break for lunch with Rico (one of my former teammates whom I haven't seen in awhile). Today was take your child to work day, which was totally ridiculous; there were over 2000 kids on campus (yes, two thousand, that's not a typo), which meant there were kids absolutely everywhere, adding a substantially strange element to the day. Also strangely, the cafe in my building served tacos in the grown up line and halibut in the kiddie line, which seemed to make no sense (although I was thrilled, since I would much rather eat tacos than halibut). Luckily, I had my headphones on, and so I rocked out all day to the sound of Lady Gaga rather than children screaming.

So I was at the office from 8am to 6:30pm (I don't think I'm returning to my former wicked ways, but since the big boss is out all next week and I'm out for three days, I have a lot to get through before then). I then left the office and dragged myself over to Cafe Borrone, where I wrote six pages of Madeleine and Ferguson's story before tossing in the towel. In retrospect, with the amount of staring at a computer and thinking/writing I did today, perhaps it's little wonder that my headache is so awful.

On that note, I really really need to sign off and go to bed -- goodnight!

may you have a peaceful wedding

Today was quite the day. I made it to the big boss's staff meeting right on time (shockingly, since I left later than I should have and was sure I was going to be late), and managed to rock my 4" heels all day without breaking my ankle (although I did walk like a bound-foot Chinese concubine). I slogged quite productively all day, with a break for lunch with Gyre; it was good to catch up and tell him that I signed a lease on a place in Palo Alto, since our last two lunches I was alternating between quitting/moving to the woods and staying forever/buying a house. At least now I'm back to some sort of relatively sane middle ground, right?

I slogged some more after lunch, preparing for a one-on-one with the big boss, in which we briefly discussed my career. It would be easier to do something else if I didn't have it so good here; I love working for the big boss, I get to travel, I get a lot of insight into the business, I can basically set my own schedule, and my boss said today that if I start getting bored, we can just rewrite my job description. That is all basically an embarrassment of riches -- so I think some of my dissatisfaction right now is just with myself and the fact that I'm not writing quickly outside of work, but hopefully not having a commute will help with that.

Of course, the next two months aren't going to be good for getting into a writing routine; the big boss confirmed today that I'm going to Tokyo for a week in June, so I bought my tickets this afternoon. So I'm basically out of town four weeks in the next eight, and moving during one of those remaining weeks. Yay. I'm super psyched about going to Tokyo, though; I won't have a lot of time to sightsee since I'm going for a conference, but it will still be fun nonetheless.

I didn't leave the office until almost seven, and then I drove to the evil city to go to an event hosted by this organization that Vidya is part of. I only went because she needed to sell tickets to this thing, but it was good to hang out anyway. After the event, Adit, Vidya and I had "Adit's bachelor party" -- we were going to drink, but instead we ended up at the crepe place near Vidya's, which was pretty much the worst bachelor party that someone could have. It smelled like India (not in a good way), the avocado in my crepe was the same color as the mushrooms, and there was this incredibly loud, very obnoxious guy with an unclear relationship with the crepemaker (and of course was the only guy tonight to hit on me, not counting the homeless dude who told Adit he was a lucky man for getting to hang out with so many girls). So, congratulations on your wedding, Adit!

And now, I really must go to sleep, as I have to go to work by eight a.m. tomorrow. Goodnight!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

imma be, imma be, imma imma imma be

I was remarkably productive today, particularly considering that I got up late and drove down to work late to avoid the worst of the rain-soaked commute. Once I got there, though, I got a lot done; I slogged all day, with a break for lunch with Regina-madam, one of the expats from the old India crew. It was great to catch up with her, and hopefully I'll see her sooner than the amount of time between this lunch and our last lunch. Then, I slogged the rest of the afternoon, but I managed to get out of there a little before six to do some writing.

I don't know why, but I've had multiple conversations in the last week (none initiated by me, I assure you) about what was going on with my dating life and when I might get married so that I can start popping out children. Apparently I'm suddenly hitting the age where these questions are logical and somewhat urgent. Rather than confronting the dating issue, I ordered several different trial eye moisturizers from, in the hopes that if I reduce the dark circles under my eyes, I will suddenly look twenty-five again and these conversations will stop happening with such frightening regularity. I'll let you know how that strategy works out for me.

Anyway, after being thwarted by Cafe Borrone last night, I wanted to give it another shot, so after work I went over there and had a sandwich and a mocha while writing about four pages of zee romance novel. I finally threw in the towel around eight p.m., drove back to the evil city, and did about an hour of work for the day job (the big boss is in town this week, hence the slightly longer hours -- but I also went in late, so this was totally fine). Then I typed up the work that I had done at Borrone, and now it's time to go to bed so that I can get to work in time for big boss's staff meeting. Goodnight!

Monday, April 19, 2010

everyone deserves a chance to fly

I was just realizing that it's a minor miracle that I didn't somehow get caught up in this volcanic ash mess. You might think that I'm much too far away from Iceland to realistically be affected -- but I did end up flying a day after the plot that resulted in a temporary/total liquids ban (flying 24hrs to India without toothpaste or contact lens solution was not fun), staying in Ireland an extra day due to a bomb scare in Dublin that made me miss my flight, going to London and riding all over the underground days after the 2005 tube bombings, etc., etc. And actually, a month ago I was planning to go to Dublin last week until my boss and I decided I should delay until May. So either my luck is turning, or I will end up going to Ireland in May just in time for an even more massive volcanic eruption that shuts down air travel for months.

I was pretty productive at work today; now that I've passed my exam and recovered from the intense cramming, I'm trying to plow through all the things that piled up on my to-do list. Since the big boss somehow made it out of Dublin on Friday (unlike the many other people in my company who were at the event that I almost went to, many of whom are now on a combination of ferries and buses on their way to the open airport in Madrid, poor suckers), she's in town this week -- and since I'm going to Cancun next week, I need to get a lot done. However, my productivity promptly ended as soon as I left the office. I tried to go to Cafe Borrone to write, but when I got there I discovered that they now close at five p.m. on Mondays (disaster!) I was starving at this point, and I ended up driving back south to have a burrito at Baja Fresh before coming back to the evil city. I intended to write when I got here, but instead I did some more work for the day job. And now, even though it's not even ten o'clock, I'm going to go to bed; I'm in a bit of a burrito coma, it's supposed to rain tonight (rendering my commute disastrous), and my new plan is to get up early and write in the morning before work since I failed to do it tonight. Goodnight!

desh is dead (again)

So I've watched part of "Ocean's Thirteen", most of "The Bourne Identity", and 1.5 of "The Bourne Ultimatum" twice tonight -- I haven't been paying close attention to the second viewing of "Ultimatum", but I love these movies. Bourne is just so completely badass -- I would love to be 1/100th as competent as he is, even though I have no plans to flip out and kill anybody. But even if I could just have his spatial skills so that I could navigate through unfamiliar buildings with ease, I would be thrilled.

I had a pretty good day; I got plenty of sleep, took my time getting ready this morning, went to Samovar and did some writing (in the midst of the most gorgeous day in recent memory), came home, talked to my parents, and painted my toenails a luscious red while watching TV and sitting in front of the fan with Adit. Omar randomly showed up, and we watched some of "Ultimatum" with him (up until the point where Bourne killed Desh in Tangiers). Then, we went to Chow for dinner, which was entertaining. Omar left after dinner to go to a concert, and Adit and I came home and watched the rest of "Ultimatum" and last week's episode of "Project Runway". Adit then left to go to the glorious south bay, and I sort of inadvertently ended up watching "Ultimatum" again because it was playing again when I stopped watching the recorded programs.

Anyway, this post was totally boring and useless -- I'm sorry. Clearly, watching 5+ hours of TV did terrible things for my memory (unless it's still suffering the after-effects of my journey to Tuscany). So, I'm going to go to bed and hope for the best tomorrow. Goodnight!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

what a fantastic tuscan voyage!

Sincere apologies for not blogging last night; I intended to blog, and then intended to let Vidius Chandicus guest blog, but I threw up as much red wine as I could get out of my stomach and went to bed instead.

So yesterday was quite good, and today would have been lovely if I wasn't in so much pain from yesterday. I managed to go to three Starbucks yesterday -- I had a doctor's appointment in Palo Alto in the morning, so I went to Starbucks near Secret Safeway and wrote for an hour; later, I met up with the owner of the house I'm renting to sign the lease at the Starbucks on Charleston; and I ended the day by having coffee with Natasha (later joined by Kim and Terry) at the Starbucks on Shoreline. It was quite a Starbucks overload, and no doubt contributed to the disaster that was my evening because I drank a lot of caffeine but really didn't eat much of anything throughout the day (always a bad idea when drinking later).

The owner of the house was quite nice; he's a semi-retired real estate agent who has this property as an investment. When I met him at the open house we were both in a rush and I didn't feel like we really clicked, but we had a nice conversation about the tech industry before signing the lease, and so it's nice to feel like I have some sort of tenuous connection with him (and that he seems put together and sane, which is always good in a landlord). I'm likely going to move the 9th or 10th, which means I'm going to have to pack the week after I get back from Cancun -- sooner than I had planned to move, but it will save money in the long run, and I'm also super super psyched about the place. This means that I only have to commute to the peninsula for twelve more work days before I move -- isn't it insane how fast this has moved?

Anyway, you don't care about that -- you likely just want to hear about the alcohol. When I got home, I had a few minutes to change and talk to Adit before Vidya and Peder (aka Timmy Timer) showed up. We opened a bottle of v. nice wine and sat around talking for an hour. When the time came to decide where to eat, Adit suggested the Olive Garden in Stonestown Galleria (inconveniently located on the other side of town, but conveniently located right on a MUNI line that goes past our place). This was clearly a joke, although the seed had been planted awhile ago because I kept saying that Adit and I should have a roommate dinner there -- but we essentially all dared each other into going, and no one backed down. It's funny; I used to like Olive Garden and think it was special (and celebrated my seventeenth birthday there with my high school friends and a waiter we nicknamed Al Fredo), but now that I've been exposed to genuine, delicious food of all varieties, Olive Garden is never high on the list of places to go.

ssssanyway, after deciding to go to the Olive Garden, we decided to go big, and we quickly drank another bottle of (vastly inferior) wine before catching the train. Adit also insisted that we take "roadies", which meant that Adit and Timmy had bottles of beer with them and Vidya and I each had mini bottles of champagne that I had been keeping in the fridge. Unfortunately, Vidya didn't want to finish hers, so I drank all of mine and half of hers, which is where things started to go downhill for me.

By the time we got over to Stonestown (likening it to a trip to Tuscany), we were all quite cheerfully drunk, and the waiter tolerated us quite well even though they sat us in a back corner of the restaurant. Adit promptly ordered two more bottles of wine, which we proceeded to drink while our conversation turned ever more absurd (and I kept dipping my breadsticks in Vidya's soup). One of the best moments was when Adit toasted us with "Prego!", the traditional Italian toast, and Timmy toasted back "Classico!", thinking that we were toasting with pasta sauce names. Ha.

Anyway, I was so focused on drinking wine and talking with my friends that I somehow forgot to eat most of my entree, and so I really didn't have dinner even though I picked at it (helping to ensure that I stayed wildly drunk). Katrina showed up at some point, and since she couldn't drink she offered to drive us home (which was v. much appreciated). Once home, Adit promptly passed out, and the rest of us watched some Craig Ferguson before I decided to throw up the contents of my stomach. Vidya left after that (note, I did make it into the bathroom and aimed properly -- I wasn't super sick, just aware that there was no good reason to leave that much wine sloshing around in my belly), and I somehow managed to inflate the air mattress and find some blankets for Timmy Timer before stumbling off to bed myself.

Needless to say, this morning was quite painful in that dizzy, spinny, dehydrated sort of way that my hangovers often are. I was not sick to my stomach this morning (another trait of my hangovers), but there was a very real risk that I was going to have to cancel my brunch plans. I somehow rallied, though, and cleaned myself up so that I could drive over to Pine and Laguna and meet up with Terry, Fred and Jamie (I just realized that Terry and Jamie are both gender-neutral names -- in this case, they're both women, as I'm sure you know about Terry because she was a regular on the blog before she went off to business school). I haven't seen Fred and Jamie since Terry left for school, but they recently bought a really cute apartment in a Victorian building over near the Fillmore area, which was adorable. We walked over to Fillmore and had brunch at a place that miraculously didn't have a line; I had a Coke and huevos rancheros in an attempt to get sugar and grease into my system to jumpstart my recovery. I was only moderately successful, and still felt like crap when we parted ways (on a high note, after discussing my plans for twin children named Mason and Dixon), but at least I was on the upswing.

After leaving them, I met up with Vidya, and we went a few blocks away from her place to have a latte (for her) and an iced tea (for me) at a place called farm:table. It only has one table inside, a communal affair that can seat 6-8, but we managed to get the corner by the open window, and so we spent some quality time catching up over delicious drinks, with sunshine streaming in through the windows. Eventually, though, we had to part ways, and I came home, talked to Adit, decided to throw in the towel on any attempt to repair the ravages of last night (there are still wineglasses all over the living room and an utter mess in the kitchen), and took a nap instead.

I'll try to be brief and wrap this up -- suffice it to say that after my nap, I freshened myself up, drove down to Palo Alto, and had coffee/dinner/coffee with Terry. I was v. glad that I got to see her by herself; the other two times I saw her this weekend were fun, but it's always nice to get some quality alone-time with friends. We met up at Coupa Cafe, where I had a tiger spice chai and she had a Chardonnay, and then we walked down University to the oddly-named Pasta?, where we had pasta, of course. It's quite funny that I managed to go to Olive Garden and Pasta? in the same weekend -- but the food was good, and of course the company was nice too.

We browsed around Borders for a bit after dinner, then went back to Coupa Cafe, where I attempted to write while Terry worked on a business school assignment. We talked for another hour or so after we both threw in the towel, and then I made the very boring drive back to the evil city.

So, it's been an action-packed couple of days! Tomorrow will be substantially less action packed; other than cleaning the apartment, the only other plan I have is to hide out and do some serious writing. Wish me luck -- and now, it's time for bed.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

uh, forgot to post photos

These are the photos from the Craigslist posting for the place I'm renting...

The view towards the kitchen from the living room

The living room (sorry, no pics of the bedroom)

The patio/back yard...hopefully I won't kill the flowers!

make a circle in the sand, make a halo with your hands

I'm going to go to bed early again tonight; instead of overdosing on wine, I overdosed on chicken pot pie at Marie Callendar's. Yes, I'm geriatric.

I got up early today and made it down to the office in time to cram like mad for my exam. Other than my meeting from 8:30-9, and a quick lunch from 12:40 to 1, I studied the entire rest of the morning, watching a ton of webinars, taking eight pages of notes, rereading the notes I'd already taken yesterday, etc., etc., etc. The topic was Analytics + Website Optimizer + Conversion Optimizer -- all of which I find quite interesting, and I actually use Analytics for the romance novel blog, but unfortunately those products all launched after I stopped having any interaction with clients, and so I never really bothered to learn much about the stuff.

The exam itself is rather intense (it's proctored, and we have to take it via a special browser that locks out access to the rest of your computer during the exam). However, I managed to score an 85 (passing was 75), which was totally fine with me. Ironically, I tied with Gyre, who was sitting next to me; it would have been better if one of us beat the other one, but I'm claiming it as a partial victory because he still meets with clients all the time, and so theoretically should know more than someone who just sits around and writes emails and blogs all day.

After finishing the exam, I was pretty wiped out (and strangely euphoric), so Joy and I snuck out of the office to see a movie. We ended up watching "How to Train Your Dragon" -- my verdict is that I liked the animation, Craig Ferguson's voice was nice (as was Gerard Butler's), and while the storyline was mostly predictable (in fact, it exactly follows the story structure we analyzed in the class I took last weekend), it was still enjoyable enough. It wasn't the best movie I've ever seen, but it was a good way to get out of the office for a couple of hours.

I dropped Joy off at the office when the movie was over, and went back to my desk for awhile before meeting up with Heather (aka dear respected madam) for supper. We decided to go to Marie Callendar's, where we spent an hour and a half catching up over chicken pot pies. I took her home, then drove back to the city of sin, where I should have written for an hour; instead, I'm going to go to bed now and attempt to get up early so that I can write before work.

However, the commute will not continue for much longer -- I got the place that I was so excited about, and I'm meeting the rental agent tomorrow afternoon to sign the lease and give him my deposit. The place is totally adorable (see below for what it looks like with the current occupant's furniture), and I'm v. excited about the shorter commute. However, I'm not excited by the fact that I'm suddenly moving in about three weeks (targeting May 10), which means I'm going to have to pack at some point after I get back from Cancun and before I go to Adit's wedding + Europe. My only saving grace is that while I have a lot of stuff here, most of my stuff is already packed and sitting in storage, and so the amount that I have to do to move is a fraction of what I had to do at Vidya's. Granted, it's still going to be a lot of work, but it could be a lot worse.

Now, though, it's time for bed -- enjoy the pics of my new place below. Goodnight!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

why must you always dress in black

I'm worried that I'm going to fail this test that I'm taking at work tomorrow; luckily I've used the portion of the product that the test is covering tomorrow, but I haven't used another feature the is a prominent part of the test, and I didn't study nearly enough over the past couple of days. I have about four hours to study tomorrow before the test, so I'm going to have to hope that's enough; by all accounts I should be okay (particularly since I'm just aiming to pass, not aiming to be one of the best scores in the group), but I don't like failure, and so I'm going to have to get up early tomorrow to get some studying in as early as possible.

I would study now, but I just got home from a three-hour dinner at Little Star with Jenni and James; it only involved two glasses of wine, but that was just enough to make me feel less than capable of retaining anything I read right now. Today was in general quite good; I went to work for an eight a.m. meeting, picked up the new fountain pen sitting on my desk (it's gorgeous - more on that some other day, perhaps), wrote a blog post for the big boss, studied a bit, grabbed lunch, then drove home to study this afternoon. I got distracted this afternoon because I got a call from the rental agent for the place I saw yesterday; barring a sudden change of heart on his part, he should be sending me the rental agreement tomorrow. I can't express how excited I am about this; the place is lovely, and while I will miss the city of sin, I'm eager to have a shorter commute and more space.

After I calmed down from the excitement of feeling like I knew where I would be living next, I studied for a couple more hours, then met up with Jenni and James at Little Star. And now, you know the rest. I'm eager for this test to be over with, since it's been hanging over my head for awhile, and I want to be productive Friday so that I can spend the weekend writing Madeleine and Ferguson's story. Now, though, I should really sleep -- goodnight!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

dreaming of suburbia

I was supposed to stay in the city all day today, but as I mentioned yesterday, I wanted to see an apartment in Palo Alto this afternoon, and so I drove down despite lacking any desire to go into the office. So, I worked from home this morning until traffic died down, got to the office a little after eleven, did some tings and had lunch with Heather (aka dear respected madam), attended the only meeting I had today, and then got out of the office in time to go to the apartment showing.

I fell in love with it immediately; granted, I may have swayed by how quickly I was able to get there from the office, but I was also swayed by the fact that it's a cute standalone house with hardwood floors, beam ceilings, a patio, etc. I'm worried that I'm destined to be heartbroken; there were several other people at the showing (an indication of how rare this type of place is on the rental market, since the guy just listed it yesterday and was doing a showing at 2pm on a Tuesday), so I just have to hope that I got my application in fast enough and that it sways the agent. I basically looked around, sped straight back to the city, filled out the application, and emailed him immediately (with a copy of a credit report and a paystub, hoping that would encourage him to take me right off the bat without checking out the others). We'll see -- if I don't get it, it's not the end of the world, but I will be v. sad about it for a day or two.

Anyway, after I took care of the application, I worked the rest of the afternoon (mostly studying for this annoyingly difficult exam I have to take at work on Thursday, to the detriment of the other things I should have done). I went to the grocery store and stocked up on milk and Amy's, then made myself a chai and wrote for a couple of hours. I'm working through the beginning of my story again; I really hate writing opening chapters, since they have to get a lot of info across (but not too much!), set the proper tone, engage the reader immediately, etc., etc. -- in other words, a lot of pressure. But, I'm pretty happy with what I wrote tonight, even if I procrastinated forever before starting, and hopefully I'll carve out some time to write tomorrow as well. Now, though, I need to go to bed; I wasn't going to go to Mountain View tomorrow, but I think I will anyway because I need to print a bunch of stuff and wouldn't mind sitting in my $800 ergonomic desk chair for awhile rather than slouching on my couch and straining my back. Goodnight!

Monday, April 12, 2010

the calliope crashed to the ground

Strangely, I don't feel like blogging tonight. Maybe it's because I've spent about fifteen hours on my computer, most of it drafting emails, making slides, etc. Perhaps fifteen hours is an exaggeration; I've only been up for 13.5, which would be the first clue, and I did shower, take a break for lunch (at Duboce Park Cafe, with a yummy turkey and pesto sandwich), and clean my desk (unearthing the surface and dusting it so that I could work at it for the first time since I got back from India almost two months ago). But still, it was a lot of time spent writing and typing, and I'm a little tired of staring at the screen.

I worked from home today, as you might have guessed from the chain of events outlined above; this saved me from the waterlogged commute, and was also good for my productivity (sort of -- I wasn't really in the mood to get back into the day job since it felt like I didn't have a weekend, so productivity was hard to find today). I'm going down to the office tomorrow despite my original plans because I want to look at an apartment down there, but I'm going to try to go down early to write and then leave early to avoid traffic on the way home, so hopefully my plans all work out.

It wasn't all completely dull and cheerless in here, though; I watched an episode of Craig from last week (in which he made fun of the blind guy who climbed Everest by saying that his friends just put him in a freezer on a Stairmaster and told him he had climbed Everest -- mean, but I laughed because I actually saw that guy give a motivational speech to my team two years in a row, and he seemed jealous that an amputee or some shit who also climbed Everest was starting to horn in on his motivational speaking gigs), and then I watched tonight's "Big Bang Theory" (another fine CBS show!), so that was all good. And now, after painting perhaps a sadder portrait of my life than I meant to (did I tell you I ate a frozen pizza while watching Craig?), it's time for bed!

drifting, falling, floating weightless

I wasn't as productive as I should have been today; I had a lot of ideas floating through my head as a result of the workshop that I took yesterday, so I only wrote a couple of pages of my manuscript because I spent most of the day analyzing my scenes and plot structure and figuring out where things should go and what's missing. I also should have gotten up when I originally woke up at 8am, but instead I went back to bed and slept until almost ten -- probably necessary, but I could have used the extra hours.

I did manage to drag myself out of bed then, shower, and catch a MUNI to downtown. I spent a couple of hours at Samovar considering how things were going with my book and attempting to write, and then I went to Nordstrom and looked at swimsuits, ultimately buying one for my upcoming trip to Cancun. I cannot wait to go -- it has been raining like mad here today, and looks set to continue tomorrow, which seems cruel considering how gorgeous and almost-summery the weather was a couple of weeks ago. So, some sunshine and an opportunity to get a tan (or, more likely, a sunburn) will be very welcome. The waiter at Samovar who usually talks with me is from Cancun, and he promised to give me a list of things I should see when I'm down there if I come in again before I go, which was nice. Then again, he's the same one who asked if Tammy and Shedletsky were my parents, so he may not be the most observant guy ever and could unintentionally send us to a crack den that he thinks is a nice family establishment, so we'll see.

After I got home, I did the dishes, took care of a few things around the house, and called my parents; they were making supper (which sounded amazing), so our conversation was relatively short. Then, I spent the rest of the evening working on the book while watching some fine CBS programming. Adit turned on "60 Minutes" when he got home, but he fell asleep with the remote, and I was quite happy to watch "The Amazing Race" and "Undercover Boss" while he slept. He ultimately woke up and decided to drive south tonight to avoid the waterlogged commute tomorrow morning (smart kid), so I switched to Food Network and continued to work on my novel structure until now.

At this point, I think I'm just procrastinating by working on the structure; it's as close as it's likely to get for awhile, and I just need to write the damn thing (and write it quickly). This week should be good for that; the big boss is overseas, so while I have a lot of work to get done (and a work exam to study for), I'm going to work from the city for the first three days of the week, which eliminates three days' worth of commuting. So, I should be able to make some good progress -- I leave for Cancun in two and a half weeks, and while the goal seems somewhat crazy, I'd like to be really close to a complete first draft by then. We shall see, we shall see. Now, though, I really need to sleep -- goodnight! And happy birthday to Aunt Becky!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

kiss me goodbye, i'm defying gravity

I want to blog all about the workshop that I attended today - I spent eight hours learning about using screenwriting techniques in fiction, and I also met a lot of v. nice women who may actually suck me into joining a local chapter of romance writers. However, I had to get up at six a.m. to make it up to Santa Rosa for the retreat, and when I got home, I spent some time procrastinating with Adit (some people call him the cat) before doing work for the day job for a couple of hours. Yes, it's ridiculous that I stayed in on a Saturday night to work, but since I had to get this stuff to the big boss before she gets on a plane tomorrow morning, and since I want to devote all day tomorrow to writing, I didn't have much choice.

Now, though, I'm going to go to sleep so that I can get up and write tomorrow - goodnight! And happy (slightly early - although I guess it started an hour and a half ago in Iowa) to Aunt Becky!

Friday, April 09, 2010

and the girls, and the boys, and the drums

I need to go to sleep immediately; between the Turkish coffee I had with Vidya last night and the insane stress I was feeling over getting things done at work today, I didn't sleep well last night (and only could have slept 5.5 hours anyway). And, since I'm doing this writing workshop that starts in Sonoma at 8:30am, I have to get up tomorrow like I'm going to work. So even though it's only 10:22 on a Friday night, I'm going to go to bed like a good girl so that I don't fall asleep in the middle of this workshop tomorrow.

I should have gone to bed half an hour ago, but I didn't get home from work until 7:30, and then I made the mistake of watching "Project Runway" and painting my nails a deep, luscious purple ("Lincoln Park at Midnight"). I should have started painting sooner, but I was trying to spare Adit the smell of my nail polish; ultimately, he wasn't leaving (just sitting on the coach watching some version of Gollum from "Lord of the Rings" dubbed over in Spanish, which, admittedly, was pretty hilarious), so I had to subject him to the smell of polish (or "varnish", as I wish we still called it).

Anyway, work ended up being fine; I was able to secure a camera, the taping was successful, and it only took two hours of sitting around for me + an actual legitimate videographer-type to figure out how to get the seven-minute footage off the camera and onto my laptop (ugh). I also got some other things done, although not enough -- I may have to work tomorrow night after the class to get some stuff to the big boss before she gets on a plane at 10am on Sunday. At least she's traveling next week, which means it will be slower for me, so hopefully I'll be able to write. Now, though, I desperately need to sleep -- goodnight!


Today wasn't bad, but I just spent the past couple of hours wrestling with the issue of how to get video off of my videocamera (which I haven't used in a couple of years...and I lost the proprietary software disk...and my MacBook doesn't have a firewire cable despite the fact that Apple was a big proponent of firewire...and my old Sony Vaio doesn't register the camera being connected to it even though it's a Sony Handycam). I intended to use the camera to film a video for the big boss tomorrow, but now I'm going to have to scramble a plan b sometime tomorrow morning because I appear to be in an intractable disaster.

sssanyway. I slogged excessively most of the day, although I was hampered in the slogging by taking a long lunch at Fiesta del Mar with Heather, where I had a margarita that made me sleepy. Then, I came home with the intention of getting a lot of stuff done, which I started on -- but then I took an unscheduled break to have dinner and coffee with Vidya (aka Vidius Chandicus) in her neck of the woods. We had a lovely time discussing work, friendship, and Sean Connery, but I couldn't stay out late because I really did have work to do. So, I left her after dinner and came home, where I took care of some work and played around with my camera until absurdly late in the evening. And now, completely and utterly thwarted, it's time for me to go to bed!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

some bloodshot forget-me-not says daddy's within earshot, save the buckshot, turn up the band

I'm exhausted; it feels a lot later than 9:18pm, and so I'm going to go to bed as soon as I'm done with this post. I think my brain is fried from writing so much today -- not that I wrote anything for zee romance novel, but my agenda document for my one-on-one with the big boss stretched to four pages (single spaced), and there were several other documents, emails, etc. attached to it that we had to review. I came back from vacation and walked straight into a minefield of communications that need to be delivered in the next week, which means I'm thinking through communication strategies nonstop at work...

...and then I come home and try to write a completely different set of communications. Tonight I left the office, got home in time to do a load of laundry (vital if I didn't want to wear a skirt tomorrow -- which I didn't, since I wore my killer 4" heels today, which I adore even if they make me walk like a Chinese concubine in the early stages of foot-binding), ate some Amy's enchiladas, and then worked like a fiend for several more hours. The biggest nonwork task was editing and polishing the blog post that I wrote for the romance blog that I'm a part of with my other fellow romance contest finalists (linked to from my Sara Ramsey blog above); editing blog posts when you're trying to make them coherent and not just the random stream-of-consciousness crap that I produce here nightly takes way more time than you would think.

Anyway, even though I have no real reason to be this tired, I always get to this stage when my brain has been going nonstop all day. Since I have to be in the office at 8am again tomorrow, I think some extra sleep tonight would go a long way toward restoring me so that I can do it all again in the morning. Goodnight!

i take the blue ones every time

This is a four-minute post. I think I'm written out for the day, so this is going to be v. brief. I spent the day at the day job finishing with the catchup on all the emails that I got over vacation, finishing edits for an email the big boss was sending out, and coming up with talking points for a couple of her upcoming presentations. I was at the office until 6:30 because I had a meeting with someone in China (yes, China), but I managed to make it home before collapsing from hunger, and I made myself a big plate of cucumbers, tomatoes, pita, and hummus (mmm - clearly I'm going to the opposite extreme of my Midwestern diet from last week). I ate my deliciously snacky dinner while catching up on the last two episodes of "Project Runway" -- this is the first time in several years that I've followed a reality show from start to finish (the last one, embarrassingly, was the season of "Big Brother" that was on while I was home on leave in spring of 2008). Actually, I take that back -- I followed most of last fall's "The Next Iron Chef" as well. But, I've enjoyed "Project Runway" thus far, and I'll be sad to see it end.

However, I continued to do similar tasks tonight as what I do for the day job, only without getting paid for them; I spent some time editing a friend's grad school application, and then I spent even more time drafting a blog post for the group romance blog that I'm part of (just realized that 'group romance blog' sounds vaguely pornographic; to clarify, it is a group that writes about romance, not a blog devoted to orgies). And now, I need to go to bed so that I can get up in six hours and make it to work on time for the only important meeting of the week. Goodnight!

Monday, April 05, 2010

one shining moment

I know that I promised a longer post tonight, but it's slightly later than I intended, and I need to get to bed if I'm going to fulfill my goal of getting up early to write before work tomorrow. That may be overkill, given the sheer volume of work-related things I have to write tomorrow -- there are times when doing communications as my day job seems like it might burn out my word-production capabilities. But, if I'm going to finish the book by June, it has to happen.

So to briefly recap yesterday -- it was a lovely way to end my Midwestern sojourn, even if the bitter end (my delayed flight back to San Francisco) put a slight damper on it. I managed to drag myself out of bed, pack, shower, and get out of the house while only delaying the rest of my family by fifteen minutes (which wouldn't have happened if I had either not hit snooze twice, or rinsed out my fountain pens the night before). We went up to Uncle Mark's house for the traditional Easter dinner; they live north of Des Moines on an acreage out in the country, which is nice, and also conducive to doing an Easter egg hunt with minimal embarrassment. Uncle Mark, Aunt Kathy, and my cousin Drewbaby were there (of course, since it's their house), as were Aunt Becky and Uncle Brian (aka the scandalous uncle), Gram Wampler, Kathy's parents, brother, and nephew, and my parents and brother. Michael, Drew and I forced Uncle Brian to sit with us at the kids' table, which has gotten substantially more fun now that Drew is old enough to have a dry sense of humor but still young enough to embarrass easily over teasing remarks about his girlfriend. We had a delicious dinner -- ham, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, apple/snickers salad (not sure how this qualifies as salad, but whatevs), sweet potatoes, and rolls. Then, we all sat around for awhile before the real fun began -- as usual, we had an Easter egg hunt, despite the fact that the 'kids' now range in age from 16 to 28. Michael, Drew and I all managed to win $2 from the scratch-off lotto tickets hidden inside the eggs, and we had the fun of carrying on our family tradition for yet another year.

We hung out for awhile longer, and eventually left to take me to the airport (with stops at some car dealerships along the way -- just another typical Sunday afternoon activity in my family). As you know, my flight in Minneapolis was delayed, but I managed to sleep almost six hours last night (not counting the sleep I got on the plane and the inadvertent nap I took at Uncle Mark's), so today wasn't as painful as it could have been. Tomorrow will be worse, though; today I was just catching up, but I finally made a list of all the shit I have to do this week, and so I have to stop avoiding it tomorrow.

But, I left the office in time to come home, grab some groceries, and watch the second half of the NCAA championship game. I wish Butler would have won, since that would have been the ultimate fairy tale, but at least it was an excellent game and they didn't get trounced by Duke. After the game was over and I wiped away my customary tears after the "One Shining Moment" montage, I did some work, and now it's time for bed!

the long and winding road

No blogging tonight - while I have many wondrous things to report of Easter with the family, my flight back to California was delayed and it's now two am here, so sleep is imperative. I shall blog extra tomorrow to make up for it!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

shut up and put your money where your mouth is

I suppose that I should go to sleep; I meant to pack tonight, but I failed to do anything about the fact that I'm departing tomorrow (other than checking in for my flight), so I'll have to get up early tomorrow to do all of that stuff. We're going up to Uncle Mark's for the annual Easter dinner before going to the airport, which means we're leaving the house by 9:30am for a 7:25pm departure. It will be good to see the family, though; if we weren't going up there, I wouldn't have seen Uncle Mark on this trip, which would have been too bad since I'm not sure yet when I'm coming back. I should be coming back for my oldest niece's high school graduation in May, but I can't due to Adit's wedding and a planned trip to Dublin; there's a 90th birthday party for one of my great aunts in June, but with the possibility of a trip to Tokyo and a definite need to move apartments, it looks like June is out as well. I decided tonight that I'm definitely going to the Romance Writers of America convention in Nashville at the end of the earliest I can come home again is August, pending my boss's vacation schedule and what I can swing.

Anyway, today was good, if more slothful than it should have been; I tried to write, but got bogged down in the latest scene and only wrote <500 words. I spent some quality time with my mother this afternoon, watched the Butler/Michigan State game, and then enjoyed a v. delicious heartland supper (my dad grilled bratwurst, my mom made homemade mac and cheese, and we ate the rest of last night's chocolate meringue pie for dessert). Then, I messed around on the internet while desultorily watching the Duke/West Virginia game; I was cheering for West Virginia, so was disheartened at the end. But, if you were watching the game, wasn't Bob Huggins trying to comfort his injured player on the floor one of the most moving things you've seen in sports recently?

The only other item of interest is that I retinseled my hair -- I'm back to purple, which I think is the best option for my hair color, and the St Patricks-inspired green and gold is gone. And now, I am going to go to bed and attempt to sleep on my hair lightly so as not to dislodge the tinsel. Goodnight!

Friday, April 02, 2010

i hate to see her go, but i love to watch her leave

I desperately need to sleep; I just spent the last hour typing up 15+ pages of the first draft of my romance novel (which I've been writing by hand, per my new process), and I still have to type up the pages that I wrote today, but I need to throw in the towel.

Today was quite nice; I woke up in time to experience a quick, lovely thunderstorm that illuminated the sky very oddly before dropping 0.3" of rain in a few minutes. I spent the rest of the day alternating between hanging out with the family, doing a couple of small things for the day job, eating, painting my fingernails and toenails, spending too much time on the internet, and writing. All of those things went well (although the internet is an addiction I really need to curb -- why I feel the need to read every single section in the New York Times fashion section is beyond me); my nails are a lovely glittery pink, the family is good, and I wrote six pages -- somewhat shy of my goal to write 3000+ words/day on vacation, but it was over 1500, which was still good (and 1500 more than I had when I woke up this morning).

My parents had to go to a visitation tonight, so I volunteered to pick up pizza for dinner at Casey's (an Iowa convenience store chain that makes pizza that rivals any pizza anywhere). Ultimately, my dad had to take me into town in his huge truck to retrieve the pizza because the brief downpour this morning turned the gravel roads (many of which are v. lightly graveled due to budget issues) into pure mud, and the Sunfire could have gotten buried in some of the ruts. But, the pizza was worth the drama; I never have taco pizza in California, but this one was particularly good, as was the supreme pizza we got to go along with it. Dessert was another type of pie -- this time, chocolate meringue. My mother is a saint and made my favorite pie this afternoon, and this version was particularly winning, so we were all in heaven.

After dinner (and after several minutes of rescuing with technology before ultimately calling my brother up to sort out the three-remote situation with my parents' TV/DVD/surround sound tuner system), my parents showed me the short montage of the Moving Wall event at the Round Barn last year (they brought in a traveling version of the Vietnam Wall war memorial for a weekend, which brought in 5000 visitors in three days -- pretty impressive, considering our whole county is only 7000 people). The video was quite moving, particularly since it ended with a reading of our county's Vietnam losses -- all in all, it looks like it was a very worthwhile event.

And now, after spending a lot of time typing, I need to sleep -- tomorrow is my last full day at home, and I will need to pack and get some stuff done and spend some quality time with the family, so I should get to sleep. Goodnight!

call me mister flintstone, i can make your bed rock

Because I've been driving ye olde Pontiac Sunfire, which does not allow for a connection to my iPod, and because I no longer have any CDs here (and the CD player is likely filled with gravel dust anyway - driving on gravel destroys the electronics in your vehicles pretty quickly, rendering power windows dicey and dangerous), I have been catching up on what the kids are listening to these days by listening to the radio.

Apparently there's this kid named Justin Bieber who's pretty popular or something? I mean, I've heard of him (I am an avid gossip blog reader, after all) -- but does no one else find it just the slightest bit disturbing to hear a kid who sounds like he's twelve singing about true love in a song called "Baby"? In which the chorus is "And I was like, baby, baby, baby, oooh"? WTF is that all about.

I also heard this song called "Tic Toc" by Ke$ha. I will admit that it's extremely catchy and stuck in my head, and I would have brushed my teeth with a bottle of Jack tonight if I hated myself a little bit more. However, she says that she kicks guys to the curb "unless they look like Mick Jagger". Mick Jagger in which decade? I mean, I would let Sean Connery hit it even though he's turning eighty in August, but seriously, Mick Jagger? Let this be a lesson to all would-be poets not to keep a line just because it sounds cool to rhyme "Jagger" and "swagger".

Anyway, I will stop critiquing the radio, and perhaps I'll even start listening to it a bit more during my interminable commutes. Today was lovely; I slept in, managed to get up in time to tour my mother's gardens (she has planted quite a bit of stuff, all of which she seems to recognize as old friends even though their shoots are barely above the ground -- and yet it's a drop in the ocean of the eighty acres surrounding the house), and then had a sandwich. My parents went to Des Moines, and so I successfully wrote four pages of zee romance novel this afternoon before getting ready to vacate the house.

I met up with my old high school friend Hannah, who used to work for the zoo in Phoenix but recently moved back here to work as a naturalist for a state park resort in the next county to our east. It took an hour to get there (exactly like my commute, only filled with homicidal deer), but it was well worth it; I hadn't seen Hannah in years, and it was wonderful to catch up. She gave me a tour of the resort (it was all built recently, and I had never been there, but after seeing the rooms and cabins, it's now a prime candidate to host the wedding that may never happen), and then we had an extended dinner in the restaurant. She seems to be doing well here; she just started her new job in early March, but it sounds like a great fit (getting guests outside, teaching them to kayak, taking them on nature walks, and designing activities for kids). The resort is on Lake Rathbun ("Iowa's Ocean"), which is this massive lake near us that I never spent much time on as a kid (except for at age seventeen when I had a rather random jetskiing adventure with the owner of the convenience store I worked at, as well as his lawyer friend, which may have been frowned upon in theory even though nothing untoward happened), but I can only imagine how nice the place will be this summer.

So it was great to see Hannah, and hopefully I'll see her the next time I'm in the area (although I haven't made any upcoming plans to return). I drove home in the friscalating dusklight, which made it difficult to watch for deer, but I survived. I also didn't get burned to a crisp by the out-of-control brush fire that had reached the edge of the grader ditch and was on the verge of jumping the road. I then met the entire fire department for the town of Mystic (one truck, a couple of cop cars, and a string of five or six private cars of volunteer firefighters with makeshift flashing lights), so hopefully they put it out.

And now, I have rambled on far too long; I need to sleep so that I can write tomorrow. Goodnight!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

i sleep just to dream her

Sincere apologies for not blogging last night; our internet provider chose last night to take our internet away for six and a half hours of maintenance, which affected my insomniac brother and father much worse than it affected me. But, as a result, you're now forced to get two days' worth of activities mushed into one post -- and because I stayed up way too late reading a romance novel, I don't have the energy to give the events the attention they deserve.

Yesterday, I took my mother's car (which used to be my car -- the lovely silver Pontiac Sunfire that so many people suffered in during long trips to Tahoe, Coachella, etc., although I adored it) to Des Moines to write and run errands. My first errand will perhaps admit to too much of my latent dorkiness -- I met up with a guy who sells fountain pens and ink, and chatted with him about such issues for over an hour. I order ink from an online distributor, and when I placed my last order (two hard-to-find inks imported from Germany), I said that I would pick it up in Iowa because then I didn't have to pay for shipping. He runs the business out of his basement, so rather than go to his house, we met at the cafe at Borders West Des Moines (side note: for those of you who care about Borders, you'll be happy to know that despite continued sales declines, they secured financing for another couple of years, so they may survive yet). He brought the two inks with him (both of which are gorgeous and have catapulted into my top faves), as well as a sample of a special ink that one of my favorite ink companies (J Herbin, based in France) is releasing in honor of their 340th anniversary. He also had several pens with him, and I wrote with all of them -- and realized that there is a level of obsession well beyond mine, and that I am currently on the very normal end of the pen obsession spectrum. I could be convinced to veer closer to mania, though; the pens with the gold nibs were wonderful to write with, and he let me write with a vintage pen from the 1920s that put all my modern pens to shame.

Anyway, it was nice to meet him and chat with him about a subject that interests me but that I haven't gotten too deep into. After he left, I successfully wrote six or seven pages (with one of my new inks, naturally) before meeting up with Aunt Becky. We went to the mall and looked at shoes and swimsuits (I struck out on both, but I did pick up some stuff at Sephora), and then rendezvoused with Brian (the scandalous husband) and had dinner downtown at a restaurant called Centro. It proved to me beyond a doubt that Des Moines's culinary scene has expanded far beyond the Long John Silvers of my youth -- I had a dish of scallops served over polenta, and the polenta was mixed with goat cheese, artichokes, and pine nuts. It was absolutely perfect, easily rivaling similar meals in San Francisco, and I didn't have to brave any hipsters to get to it. Seeing Aunt Becky and Uncle Brian was nice, and happily I'll see them again on Sunday when we go to Uncle Mark's for Easter before I go to the airport.

I made it home last night after seeing only eight deer on the way home, got eight hours of sleep, and woke up this morning to spend some quality time with my mom. On a whim, we decided to go to Centerville (the next town over) so that I could get the battery in my watch replaced and she could pick up a few things. We took care of the watch at Walmart, had lunch at a pizza place, looked at shoes in the town's shoe stores (I struck out again -- unfortunately, as it's going to be 80+ degrees tomorrow and I didn't bring any sandals), and bought groceries. On the way home, we stopped at the cemetery and hung out with Gram Holder for a few minutes; my mother wanted to check the flowers on the stone, and I was quite happy to go along. For whatever reason, I find most cemeteries quite peaceful and oddly comforting, and I happen to like that one despite the number of people on my mother's side buried there. Maybe it's the wonderful stones in the older part of the cemetery, or the interesting names, or making up little stories in my head about who these people were and how they lived and died. Or maybe I'm just weird and morbid, and my interest in cemeteries and fountain pens is a sign of an incurable strangeness.

When we got home, I inadvertently slept for almost two hours, but I woke up in time for supper. Gram Wampler came out to eat with us, and I had a rather melancholy time fielding questions she should know the answers to. But, supper was delicious; my mother outdid herself, as usual, and we had a beef roast with excellent mashed potatoes and gravy. I could eat potatoes at every meal (good thing, since my mother makes them at almost every meal), and I never have roast beef in California (or gravy, for that matter), so it was all quite nice. Then, after Gram left, I watched an episode of "Criminal Minds" with my parents, then read a whole romance novel (Madeline Hunter's "Ravishing in Red") before deciding it was time for bed.

And now, after this absurdly long post, I really need to sleep. I have plans again tomorrow (shocking, I know) -- Hannah, my old friend from high school whom I've shamefully lost touch with over the years, recently moved back to the area to work as a naturalist for a state park in the next county east of us, and so I'm going over there to meet her for dinner and catch up. We're also something like fourth or fifth cousins, although that wasn't why we were friends (but our grandmothers did have the vaguest resemblance, both being very short women with white hair by the time we were born). So anyway, I want to get some writing done tomorrow before I go, which means I need to go to bed immediately. Goodnight!