Thursday, October 30, 2003

We're prepping for Halloween, doing a little haunted house action for the kiddles in the University Village. As if the rows and rows of townhouses aren't scary enough. I'm thinking it's going to turn out okay, but since I am a natural worrier I have thoughts of the following: what if a kid gets hurt? lawsuit? will this give kids nightmares? will I be burning cruel memories into their tender brains? will angry parents come and find me the day after Halloween to complain? Will the guilt be worth it?
But of course I'm still going through with it. Our buddy Keith is up from LA, a professional in the scary business... he's good at getting you to jump. So far we've hung the lights, done all the shopping and figured out the layout, now we just need to get it up and running.
Brings back memories of Spooky World, a classic white trash Halloween activity. Now, I ain't putting Spooky World down, I'm just saying you have to have a little of the WT (isn't it funny that WT can mean both white trash and wide track?) in your blood to really enjoy the wonder of Spooky World. My uncle used to take me and my sister there, and I admit I found it on the scary side, but mostly because of the patrons. If you're looking to see some fine mullets this is the place to go, my friend. I'm assuming that most folks like to indulge in a little drink or smoke before heading over to this horror theme park, but I found it intoxicating all by itself. From a blacklit haunted house staffed with fluorescent clowns to the Celebrity Barn it says "klass" all the way. The first year we went we were lucky enough to see celebrities Linda Blair and Tiny Tim (God rest his soul). I'm not quite sure why they do the celebrity thing there, because it's not what draws the crowd in... just go to the website and take a gander at who they are calling celebrities this year. That's scary right there. At any rate those memories will always be close to my heart; there's nothing like a guy chasing you with a chainsaw while you're on a hayride, or an alien sneaking up behind you while you're waiting in line for said hayride.
I don't think our haunted house in Albany can ever compare to good ol' Spooky World, but I might have a chance to bring a little WT into this Halloween. Trash bags, check. Black lights, check......

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

what a week... once again overbooked and crazy, but that's better than overworked and crazy, so sign me up for another week.
This past weekend Alex and I had the pleasure of spending the weekend with Max and Julianne. It included such items as a delicious dinner, a trip to Healdsburg, a concert of classical music and a very memorable "lost hour" between the hour of 2am and 2am on Sunday.

Max and I get to meet up with a high school friend of ours, John (or Johnny, as I like to call him) every once in a while. He is part of a string quartet and when he breezes through town we're always lucky to hear from him and get free tickets to his concerts. He met up with us in the East Bay, convenient and close to home .... we all had dinner at Nizza la Bella which will now be one of my favorites, and dangerous, because I can walk to it from my apartment. We then headed over to the Albatross for some drinks and to meet some other folks from high school. It was a more than a little wacky when Matt, a prom date from 1988, came in and said hello. That's just the kind of thing you don't think about everyday, especially when you're all the way across the country from where you grew up. I really don't remember the prom that well, but I do remember that I wore white pumps and a crazy lavender dress that didn't really fit me. I stuffed my bra in an attempt to even things out and while dancing a tissue worked it's way free. I wouldn't have noticed it, but luckily everyone on the dance floor was eager to point it out. Did I mention that I had a short hair and a rat tail that went down to the small of my back? I dressed it up with a little silver bow that night. A class act, all the way. Needless to say it was a little awkward to meet up with people I haven't seen for about 15 years in a loud bar on a Friday night, but I made it, with the awesome assistance of Julianne, who is the best at striking up conversations... I'm the worst at that.

The next day was a little bit of relaxing, a little bit of packing and a lot of sweating. I always forget how hot it gets out here in October. We (Alex and I along with Max and Julianne) headed up to Healdsburg around 2:30, had a smooth drive in the Grand Prix (maybe our last weekend with the WideTrack). Our first stop was in Santa Rosa to check into our hotel for the evening. Hey, don't be too harsh in judging the Motel 6, it was cheap. While we were putting our things in the room and taking turns in the bathroom I heard a little bell ringing outside, and apparently so did Alex. Because the next thing I know he's running downstairs while shouting "ice cream man!" Lo and behold there was a dude on a bike with a cart attached, brilliant! Lime popsicles and ice cream sandwiches as hard as a rock from being so cold. mmmmmm. See what I'm sayin' about the Motel 6, it's got some unexpected charm. After our ice cream break it was back on the road to Healdsburg.
We did a little window shopping when we got there, checked out how cheap some of the real estate is up there and then had some dinner. Not a lot of ambiance, but as Max said "when you come into a place like this you know you're in America" With the classic rock playing and the game on in the background I would have to agree. The beer was quite tasty, but the jalapeno poppers could be a lot spicier. As you can tell I'm not a food critic, just a lover of all things fried.
The concert was at a church not too far from where we ate. We got there in enough time to see the preshow discussion and learn a little about the pieces we would be hearing. Johnny, as always, was witty and knew how to get a chuckle out of the crowd. The concert itself was fabulous, and not being a music critic either, I'll just leave it at that. Watching people perform classical music takes it to a whole different level. I highly recommend it.
After the concert we attended a little reception at Seghesio, had some wine, cheese and crackers and got to hang out with Johnny a little bit more. Then it was back to the Motel 6.
We watched a little SNL and then all 4 of us dozed off. At around 2am, the beginning of the "lost hour" of daylight savings time, I heard a little ruckus coming from the room next door... the one closest to the headboard, of course. It was a woman, apparently having a fantastic time. And then it stopped. And then she was having a fantastic time again. And then it stopped. And again. I think I fell asleep between these joyous moments, but there were at least 5 distinct moments of pleasure. After the 5th one I had to wonder if she was alone, because all I could hear was her moaning, perhaps she was some sort of loner. She didn't even shout out a name... Then I was awake, wondering what would happen next. Finally a dude chimes in, I felt a little better knowing she wasn't alone. But it concerned me a little, because this was going on for at least an hour. An hour or more. Could it go on much longer, I hope not. Anyways, once he gets a little louder she shouts out "yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes....." until it finally stops. Now I'm thinking I can finally get to sleep with all this exciting business out of the way. But I can't, because the minute it's over she starts talking, and talking, and talking. In Spanish, so I couldn't understand her, which took all the fun right out for me. She talked for about 45 minutes, I can't imagine about what, and the guy was quiet once more. I see a recurring theme in their relationship, and I don't even know them. Alex turned over (he never woke up during this extravaganza) and put his arm around me and I finally got back to sleep.
The next morning Julianne and I asked each other if we heard the late night lovin'. I didn't realize that she was awake, too. We could have had a good laugh, but alas, the lost hour was indeed lost.
We had breakfast in Healdsburg and then headed to Preston Vineyards for the of wine you can only get on Sundays. Tasted a little wine and then drove over to Cline. Max is a member so he picked up his wine while Julianne, Alex and I looked for turtles in their pond. Then it was home again.
A nice weekend, although hot and I could have used a little more sleep. So mystery couple of Motel 6... kudos to you for making the most of your lost hour, because turning those clocks back only happens once a year.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The thieves knew what they wanted, I like to picture them with a list in hand, something written neatly in cursive on a "from the desk of..." notepad:
Things to get from old Saturn today ~ catalytic converter, pipe, muffler, rear bumper, interior center panel, various and random parts of air filter, battery cover, air filter cover, manual, pennies covered in spilled soda, map of San Francisco and an anti theft club.

And there you have it, they were able to cross everything off their list. Does it exceed the value of the car? But of course! But that's okay, this body shop knows us now and they know what cheap skates we are. Used parts? Bring em on! Hey, here's a little something from the pick and pull down the street, we could use that. And thus a car is reborn.
I have to admit the manual missing hurt my heart a little, because it had Geraldine Ethel's actual signature, but I think I'll be okay.

So things are looking up, it seems as though we'll have the car back soon, and the cable guy actually came on Saturday... and he rocked my world by doing a little something he called "my special trick". My special trick allows me to now watch crap like Trading Spaces, I Love the 80's and Queer Eye (which I've never seen before) for the same low price of cheap-ass cable.

I'm starting to wonder if it's true that for everything the Universe takes from me (I know, I'm dealing with material objects here, but allow me to be shallow this week, it feels good) I get something kind of cool back. Now I'm just waiting for that dream job...

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Last night Alex and I had a blast! First we had a little visit to the Emeryville police station and then took an exciting trip down memory lane by stopping off at the Richmond police station. That's right, they found Geraldine, the wayward Saturn. She's impounded right now, and will remain so until Monday when the insurance company will set her free. We don't know what she looks like yet and the police report doesn't give away too much information, but she seems to be okay. The only part that worries me a little is the section of paperwork for tire condition says "fair" and the section for hubcaps says "none". Whether that means Saturn hubcaps are insignificant enough to not even count as hubcabs or that the hubcaps are actually missing I'm not sure. And the "fair" tires could go either way. I mean, who really looks at tires? Sure they were new, but I didn't say we paid a lot for them.
Found in Richmond, just like last time, I'm starting to wonder if, in fact, the car is not being stolen, but instead running away. Perhaps it longs to be in Richmond. Maybe she has some friends there that she can't be away from. Maybe I'll start driving over there a few times a week so the car won't feel the need to stray there on her own... at inconvenient times.
I would bet money that the club I should have used to protect the car from the theft will be missing, so I'll buy another one once I get the car back. This will make number 3. Is that enough to learn my lesson? I'll let you know.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Last night I got home (after a smooth ride in the Grand Prix) to find that I had no cable. This happens about 2 times a week, and it's annoying, but when you only pay 13 bucks a month what can you expect? So I get the cable company on the horn and I'm on hold for about 45 minutes. I use the speaker phone feature and while listening to hold music make myself a nice bowl of pasta, special spicy marinara sauce by Alex, melt a little goat cheese on top. I'm just about done with my meal when a (and I use the term loosely) customer service representive comes on the line. Barely able to understand what she's saying, because speaking clearly doesn't seem to be a priorty for her, I try to explain that I have cable on one tv, but not on the other, and this has happened before, blah, blah, blah. She goes through the obligatory "is your tv on channel 3? do you have a cable box? turn your vcr on, now turn it off, anything now?" this process takes about 20 minutes with all my "I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" interruptions, now bringing my time on the phone with ComCast just over an hour. Finally I tell her that I know how to work my cable, but my cable isn't working, so it's her turn to tell me what she can do. She tells me she can have a service tech out to see me on Thursday between 9 and 4. Will that work? ummmmm, lemme think. nah, I should probably go to work. "well, you see, maam, the service techs work in a cycle of 5 days, so if you don't take this appointment tomorrow you'll have to wait 5 days." Now I'm starting to feel the blood pressure rise. Silence. I finally tell her that I'll wait 5 days. Silence. "hello?" Silence. "helloooo?" ahhh, there she is, trying to find a time on the computer. Okay, she can have someone out to see me on October 25, but she can't give me a time, so basically just anytime that day. hmmmmm. lemme think.... I tell her that I will need to speak to a manager. Silence. Continued silence. I hang up.
Then I started thinking about how mad I am about no cable, about the crappy customer service rep, about the car, about my job, about not being able to spend more time with Alex because of school, about missing my family, about the WideTrack. It was at that point I gave my most dramatic performance since the "chicken dinner fling" of '95 (which landed me in therapy for 2 years). I needed a release - stupidly, I gave my bowl (with the rest of my dinner inside) a toss. I know, you're thinking, meh, not so dramatic. Oh, contraire! That toss hit the edge of the couch just right, something about the fork still in there... that bowl burst. Unknown to me before that time, the bowl was glass. It burst into thousands of itty-bitty pieces, sending gemelli into the living room closet from under the door. Sauce somehow made it onto the wall behind me, as high as 9 feet. Small slivers of the bowl were found in the bathroom down the hall.
I like to think that it wasn't because I threw the bowl that it broke, I like to think that all the anger and frustration that I've been harboring for the past 2 years found it's way into the bowl and the bowl just couldn't take the pressure and it exploded. You know, like a sci-fi film.
I looked away when I heard the shattering sound and walked to the other end of the room. Alex was pretty close to the scene of the crime. I turned back to witness the horror that used to be our living room. "It wasn't supposed to do that." Alex and I chuckled, because it was funny and absurd and disgusting.
I spent the next two hours cleaning the couch and rugs and floors and bookshelves and walls and ceiling. It felt good. It was nice to have a problem I could solve. Sure, I can think of a million other ways that I could have blown off some steam. At least half of them would be less messy. But I have no regrets about the bowl. I think it was just what I needed; a bizarre action followed by a tedious consequence that made me really focus on something that was finally in my control.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

and when i feel blue about my car getting stolen i just think to myself... at least i'm not this guy

I'm driving around in a Pontiac Grand Prix now. It's the most guido thing I've ever been a part of. I'm not a Pontiac fan and I've always had this joke that Pontiacs are for tacky girls from Florida who wear their clothes too tight. This might prove my theory. Although Alex has a good time driving it (maybe too good of a time) I would have to pass it up if it were offered to me again. Not that I'm saying I would rather have a Ford Escort or a Geo Metro, I'm just saying I'm not sure if wider really is better. I'm a little unnerved by the "WideTrack", which the display eagerly reminds me is the coolest feature of the automobile every time I put the key in. The WideTrack makes me feel like I might hit the car next to me, the WideTrack makes it nearly impossible to fit in a parking spot, the WideTrack disables me from picking up items dropped on the passengers side while driving. I was in the zone with the Saturn. With an hour commute (each way) everyday I've started a little game called "what can I do while I'm driving to distract me from the traffic so when it actually starts moving is when I get mad". I would do things like reprogram my radio stations, so they were in order, from talk to pop. Or see if I could actually use my lipliner effectively and look fabulous. One time I put 6 new numbers in my cell phone. I wasn't an unsafe driver, just managing my time. Now due to WideTrack the game is off. I can't do anything but look at the road and hope I don't hit the jersey barrier. God forbid I'm flanked by cars, that requires concentration I haven't used since the SATs. Greg and I carpooled today and I had the challenge of conversation while WideTracking. I did okay, but there were a few times I got the sweaty palm.
The automatic door locks and window might make up for it in the long run, and seeing that it is fully covered by our insurance I really shouldn't complain. and did I mention the bonus? Alex asked me if I wanted to check out the trunk, cause you gotta see how big it is... and he pops it open and there are all these bags. At first I thought they were surprises for me, but as it turns out it's just stuff left over from the last renter. Things like sneaker boots with 3 inch spiked heels, a curling iron and a bag full of underwear that smells like smoke. mmmmmm. Surprise! the Saturn was never this exciting.

Monday, October 13, 2003

having your car stolen a second time rocks even more!

it's been awhile, and although I could write about a lot of things that have happened in the past 2 weeks I would much rather whine about my car being stolen.

That's right, it's the second time this year, and to tell you the truth, it feels just about as bad as the first time it was stolen. Last time it was El Cerrito, a parking lot outside of Albertsons. Please, take my car, I'll be in the store for 22 minutes. Sure it's only worth 2000 bucks and will completely inconvience me for the next year it takes to save for another car and deal with the insurance company. But let me tell you, it comes complete with dry cleaning in the trunk and birthday presents in the back seat. oh, no, no, I insist, you must take the 2 maglights and those earrings, too. Spare change, it's all yours. If I could just get the car back with some minimal damage in 4-6 weeks that would be swell.

I learned my lesson after that. Keep a clean car, and always use the club. Unless I forget to use the club and go in Barnes and Noble in Emeryville for 45 minutes. So at least this time along with a car with over 103000 on it all they got was a 9 dollar cellphone charger and a FasTrak. Well, screw you, theify, I cancelled the FasTrak... try to cross that bridge for free now, ya bastard. The shame of it all is the four brand new tires, so young at only 3 days old, and the new brakes.

I try to put a positive spin on it, like "well, at least they'll be safe when they peel out of the parking lot!" or "I hope they get a good price on those tires like we did!" but lets face it... I'm pretty pissed off.

The Bay Area has not been kind to me when it comes to cars, or jobs, or living situations. Sometimes I feel pretty sad about my luck, but I am thankful that Alex and I have friends like Greg who will pick us up at midnight when a police officer (I won't mention any names, but his initials are Dante Diotalevi) didn't offer us poor, helpless victims a ride home. I'm happy that Alex and I can get a little aggro about how much this sucks one minute and then laugh our asses off when we think about how the security officers in the mall asked me if the car was stolen because of the stereo, or perhaps my custom rims.

I have a feeling that we won't be seeing the car again this time. Getting it back once was wacky enough, but I think we're pushing our luck now. So I won't bid a fond farwell to Geraldine Ethel just yet, but I have a feeling in my heart that it's time to let go. I'll begin my 3 weeks of mourning today; those memories of your stained, low seats, the front right speaker to the factory issue radio that's always been blown, the whining sound you made when I started you up in the morning...
I can't go on, I think I have something in my eye. please excuse me.