Saturday, September 29, 2007

Planes, trains, automobiles, Jaegerbombs, bees, flies... Part 2

Just so you know, the key to good story telling is to always leave them wanting more...

Wisconsin was a great time over all. After seeing a goodly portion of it from the window of a car in the middle of the night, and sleeping about 4 1/2 hours with a kitty on the top of my head, we awoke to a sunny Friday morning with plenty to do in preparation for the rest of the weekend's events. Dave went to work, and Marita and I donned serviceable clothing (and a hat for her, she doesn't like leaving the house without a shower if she can help it), and trooped off to one of the two Fond du Lac Starbucks. Shockingly enough, Marita had never actually BEEN to Starbucks (I'll give you all a minute to recover), so we agonized a little over what to get her, something not too coffee-tasting, not too sweet, not too big. Obviously I got a quad-shot venti of some kind or another. She did a good job convincing me she liked it well enough, but I think I can cross off "Starbucks gift card" on her Christmas list this year. One girl's mecca is another one's dentist visit, I guess. Aah diversity!

From there, we swung by Marita's supermarket of choice - the Pick and Save. It's hard to add an "s" to that, don't you think, Liz? The Pick and Saves? Doesn't ring. Nevertheless, there we went, and picked up some somewhat last minute necessities. As it turns out, in Wisconsin, one simply doesn't throw a party without a cheese tray (imagine) so we added one of those to the basket, marvelled over the different brands of the same things we have here in Oregon (or me anyway, for some reason I have a wierd fascination with regional brands), and rounded out the party menu with various dips and crudites. Back to Sammy Jo Circle (after a quick Bun Run - for the brats of course, duh), and we prepared the Jello shots, the ham and cream cheese roll ups, the Twix bars (oh my hell), Marita's famous salsa, and the rest of it. Whoever her friends are, they aren't going to be hungry.

We showered, packed a bag, and at around I don't know 3 maybe, hit the road (east, is it?) to Wisconsin Dells. The Dells is a sort of resort town, famous for its waterparks, souvenir stands and fudge, as well as its bars. I like fudge as much as the next guy, but honestly, you know why we went there. Dave stayed at home because the tent guy and the dj guy (Sparky and Ziggy. I still don't know anyone's real actual name) were coming by to set up and the beer of course had to be tested. We roll into The Dells around 4:30, starving, and grab some Mexican food at a place that was somewhat empty (but for us), but it was early on a Friday. The fact that the "dead" fly that Marita found on the table in front of her finally got up and flew away after she pushed it around a little, with her finger and her menu, should have given us an indication that as it turns out, late September in Wisconsin is Fly Season. The food was good and I stole a Dos Equis beer glass for her, and we got to work off some of the calories consumed by waving our arms and hands around at the zombie fly and his buddies.

After that, we checked into a cheap hotel, dropped off our crap, and hit some bars. This was post season The Dells, and I have no problem with that because I feel it is important to bond with your bartenders. Clearly so does Marita, because seriously EVERY BARTENDER THERE knows her. I'm so proud... We hit the Showboat (I bought a big huge glass mug), that one down the street and over where that one gal works (help me out here, Marita) where the one bartender overheard Marita say she couldn't remember his name, and Nigs. Can I even type that? Nigs is a biker bar that has been there for flipping ever. I bought a T shirt I will simply never be able to wear in public in the Pacific Northwest, but frankly it was the only way I could actually leave the bar having paid for something. We had like 4 shots and maybe 4 beers/drinks each and didn't pay for any of it. God I love places like that.

Back to the Showboat. I was getting pretty hammered, since I was starting to feel the effects of little sleep and post-Oh-My-Hell-the-plane-is-crashing exhaustion earlier at dinner and needed a little boost when we were at the Showboat the first time - so I found it at the bottom of a Jaeger-bomb. You know what those are - bucket of Red Bull and a shot of Jaeger dropped in it, chug down, repeat? I think I ended up finding it at the bottom of about 10 Jaeger-bombs, but who, besides Marita, was counting? I think we ended our evening at around 1:30 maybe, where I over heard Marita talking to Dave on the phone saying, I don't think I've ever SEEN her this drunk, and me yelling after that, It's called FRIDAY NIGHT. Obviously I didn't drink nearly enough while in Cancun.

The Dells kicked ass and we left the next day around 9, stopped for a pancake extravaganza at Mr. Pancake (I think that's what it's called, and have you noticed that a lot of pancake places have a pig in their logo? Hm.) and watched firefighters try to put out a fully flame-engulfed storage building down the street. We were on the road (maybe just a little bit fuzzy from the night before) and headed back toward Fond du Lac.

I'm exhausted with the typing right now, and I have a wedding tonight for which I haven't even bought the gift, I have a huge football game to watch, and frankly shit needs to get done. I didn't mean this to be a 3-parter but for God's sake somebody shut me up. Anyway, stay tuned, I should have this knocked out by tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Planes, trains, automobiles, Jaeger-bombs, bees, flies....

Remember how my motto has always been "You should always live life like you are telling a story"? So I went to Wisconsin this last weekend.

I should have known Thursday would be a different kind of day when the Max station ticket kiosk wouldn't take plastic. All I had was a twenty dollar bill and a one dollar bill. The fare from my stop to the airport is $2.05.

I transferred at the Beaverton Transit Center, laden with my one suitcase and $18 in Susan B. Anthony dollars. Nice. The Red Line starts at the BTC, but I guess I didn't realize that it would just be parked there when I got off my train. Sure enough, I am waiting for it to show up for 17 min, and when the sign said "Due", the bell clanged and I turned around and this train that was sitting there the entire time I was standing there pulled out of the station. Nice. Missed it. Dork Girl dutifully sat down and waited another 17 minutes for the next one. I'm not really good at public transportation.

At the airport I had plenty of time for a coffee and for some reason I just had a feeling when I looked at the plane at the end of the jetway. Not sure what it was that made me look at it. The first flight, Portland to Salt Lake, was about an hour and a half, but just as the drink service was in full swing, the flight attendants started sort of wigging out. It was definitely bumpy, but I attribute that to the air over mountains - remember I blew out both eardrums coming back from a trip that travelled over Utah due to extreme turbulance. Apparently it felt different to the flight attendants this time as one of them started yelling that they needed the captain to tell them to get rid of the drink cart so they could sit down. It sounded panicked. They apologized, raced down the aisle and dove into their jumpseats. I generally look to the flight attendants to see if they are panicky when flights get bumpy - they were strapped in so it was hard to see their faces.

So the nose of the plane is now, seriously, pointing downward and we are no where near Salt Lake, and suddenly the plane makes that noise that you hear on cartoons, you know, like when a plane is spiraling downward? Sort of a "NYYYYEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAARRRRRRRRR" and the plane is definitely not going straight, or up, or even over, but down. I am flipping out. But, you know, inside, because you still gotta look cool. After several Acts of Contritions and promises to God, I started taking stock of the things in my life, and figured I have lived a pretty good one so far, and by the time I managed to make some sort of peace, the plane leveled out and we continued on. Drink service resumed (for about another 5 minutes, then they just gave up and handed out water) and ultimately we landed in Salt Lake. I think the pilots were new. There were EMTs at the end of the jetway when we walked through, checking out one of the flight attendants' heart or something. I was shaking like a leaf, but I had about 10 minutes to go three concourses to my connection and frankly I was just happy to be on the ground.

The flight to Milwaukee (okay, Wisconsin) was smooth enough - we were on a smaller plane, no first class, two-and-two, and the guy across the aisle from me was 6'6'' and not comfortable. They mentioned "weather conditions" in Milwaukee, but I wasn't sure what that was about, so I started to read and nap off and on. Fast forward to our approach, as it was - we were circling Madison, and not making much of a move east toward Milwaukee when the pilot advised us that the fog was way too thick to land there. I am no geography major, so I turned to 6'6" Guy and asked, "Fog?" He told me (and the others around us) that it has been cold at night there and the fog was coming off the lake. Nice. The pilot circled a few more times and finally we landed - in Madison. There was a lot of talk of deplaning if you chose to, but not getting luggage anywhere but Milwaukee, and then they were letting some off and others not, and Greg (6'6" Guy) decided to reserve a car at Madison just in case. I phoned Marita and Dave and they considered coming to Madison, an hour's drive, and then we would get the luggage Friday, another hour's drive from Fond du Lac. Pain in the ass.

The powers that be, after an hour on the ground in Madison, on the plane, with no food beyond peanut butter crackers that I split with Greg (he's a big guy), decided that we would in fact fly into Milwaukee tonight, so batten down, here we go. We backed up, and stopped, and sat for another hour. By this time, Marita and Dave had been advised to hang out somewhere near the Milwaukee airport, as I was coming soon enough. Greg and I chatted and traded stories and generally didn't realize so much that we were stuck sitting there for another hour, and finally they came back on and said, Yeah, you know, we aren't going anywhere, so we will all deplane and you can even get your luggage. A bus will come and take you to Milwaukee airport and all will be well. It was about 11:30 (my flight was due to arrive at around 8:35). We get off (the flight attendant thanked me for my laughing - that it helped her get through the wait - that was nice, huh?), and race to the rental car desk (it was still open) and Greg tells me I'm in - call your friends and tell them you are coming to them. Flipping NICE people in Wisconsin, I'm telling you. Our luggage comes, I get to smoke a few cigs, and off we race, Greg, Troy (another business traveller from in front of Greg) and myself, off to Milwaukee. He actually dropped me off Moreland Road, not as far as the airport, so that the drive from there to Fond du Lac wouldn't be so harrowing. Where ever he is, the Gods are smiling on him. He was a Godsend and I appreciate having met him.

So Marita, Dave and I arrived in Fond du Lac finally at around 2am. I hadn't eaten at all besides the crackers, so they popped in a pizza and I finally got to bed around 4. Exhausted but happy to be alive.

That was Day One. Imagine what's in store when I have the strength to continue... because this post IS -

to be continued...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bringing my passport anyway

I'm not going to Mexico today, I am going instead to Wisconsin. Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, to be exact. You remember Dave and Marita
Well, they're having a party, and I will be attending. It should be quite a trip, and I am really looking forward to it, having never been to Wisconsin before. Everywhere I go seems to take a full flipping day, but I am no stranger to airports, and I have some good books to read.

Have fun this weekend, kiddies, I will. You never know who might get a drunk-dialing surprise and I promise to take pictures.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Maybe it's time to make a little change

It's been a long time since I made an actual pot of coffee on a Saturday (and/)or Sunday morning, but I did it today. Busy weekend, this one, and I think I deserve a restful Sunday. Truthfully, even if I don't deserve a restful Sunday, I take it anyway, because, you know, I can. Anyway, only two cups into my ever-faithful Saturday Mug* and I feel like I can live without it.

I hit Starbucks regularly in the work week, and I have mentioned I like those canned iced coffees you get at the supermarket. But that was summer and it's turning fallish and I feel like it's time to make the move to hot coffee again. Because I generally end up sleeping on my face, I am frightful to look at in the morning, so most Sundays the odds of me actually leaving the premises first thing in the morning are pretty slim. Today I opted for a pot. I thought I might try going back to the same old same old thing that used to work for me. Turns out, not so much.

It's sort of symbolic of things going on in my life. Having always been a big fan of hurling myself into change, I still like the comfort of those few constants in my life. When I was in Mexico, EVERYTHING was different, at first. But I managed to create routine and order and comfort in my apartment, and knowing that my stuff - my furniture, my sweatshirts, my Saturday Mug - were still safely mine, even if they were miles and miles away from me. Every time I move back to the States (so, you know, the two times I have done it) I manage to fall back into the comfort zone - work in escrow (thank you YET AGAIN to God and my angels), Starbucks and Target, and more or less my group of friends.

It's always been sort of an evolving, churning group, these friends of mine. But I feel like for me, if it isn't changing, it's standing still, and we all know what happens when things stand still - they stagnate. That's good for so many people, still waters run deep, I have no problem with that. For me, however, I feel like still waters need a little churning now and again. So I think that's what I'll do. Take a little break. Step back and assess. See if not being around will make me appreciate the big picture, with all it's flaws, once again.

So it's nothing more than liking spending time with myself, just for the record, and liking waking up on a Saturday or Sunday morning without my head wanting to explode. I trust no one will be offended, and perhaps when I come back up for air they will still be there (that doesn't necessarily always happen, but I have come to terms with the fact that pretty much everyone has their own definition of "friendship"). If not, that's fine, I have lived without them before for no apparent reason. And if so, then maybe Marshy's right about friends for life. I guess it's something we hope for, even if we don't know we'll get it.
* I have had this pink coffee mug since 1989, and it's big and holds a ton of coffee and I always make sure it is only used on the weekend. It's like an old friend. I have other big mugs now, and have gained and lost many mugs over the years, but this one is just a great Saturday mug.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Things I should know by now

Okay it's a "day" today, so while I wait for my curling iron to get hot enough to turn me into the stone fox that I am, I will chronicle.

42 years ago I burst onto the scene, and over those long years I have learned a few things that ultimately formed me into the wise all-knowing person I am today. Things like there is no eating corn-on-the-cob in public without easy access to a small hand mirror and some sort of toothpick-related item. The corner of a business card works, but of course floss is the best choice. I literally never have floss in my purse, but I always have a small mirror. I can't drink water without getting it stuck in my teeth.

Every couple of years I get a new crazy cowlick in my hair, generally near my forehead, that takes a few weeks to get used to and learn to sort of style around. I look at this as a new twist to the same haircut that I have had since I was twelve.

The longer I am here the more I realize that sensationalism in the news is here to stay and only going to get worse. And that in Portland, beyond murder, so little happens that weather is a big, huge deal. And really all we get is sunshine (sometimes) and rain.

On that note, bet on no matter what month it is, the first time you haul out that fun new fall sweater it will be freakishly hot that day.

Smoking cigarettes was just a really bad idea way back when I started in my youth, and even worse when I started AGAIN a couple years ago.

Humor generally can get you through just about anything. Having a sense of humor can be one of the greatest things a person can possess. Being witty, or even funny, is a great personality trait, and it has managed to sustain my not falling off the deep end into complete insanity by now.

I'm not allergic to bees, I just don't like them.

Friends are a privelege, not a right. Sometimes they do things that are just wrong, whether they are aware of it or not. Sadly most of the time they are aware of it, and do it anyway. So many repercussions can come from what might seem like the slightest wrong, so I think it's important to think things through when it comes to relationships. Expecting the worst as a result of tentative actions is probably a good way to go, and if you think you can live with that worst case scenario, then go for it I guess. But don't expect people to forget it, because people don't. They might let it go, after a period of time, but it will always be there, hanging around. Nobody wants to be old alone, with no one to laugh with.

If I could, I would find a job that would allow me to get out of bed at 6:30 and still have time to dick around in the morning before facing traffic. So far, I haven't found that job. 6:30 is my body's natural wake-up time. 5:30 is not.

Houses don't clean themselves, so if you just can't find the strength to do it yourself, find someone to pay to do it. Because no matter what, someone will pop by when there is shit all over the living room floor that flew off the coffee table when you accidentally turned the ceiling fan to super-high instead of off before you went to bed last night. Frankly I am not picking that shit up. Not right now.

I'm sure there are more things I have learned, but right now I need to go get some clothes on and go to work. I can't think of a better way to start my day than to fight traffic in Beaverton.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Living the dream, 12 minutes at a time

I think the first time I ever went to a tanning salon was in 1982 - it was at a place called The Tan Machine in Hillsdale. Jeri T. (now P.) and I were in our senior year at Beaverton and though she had a pool, we didn't spend a ton of time in it in the summer, and frankly until I met the tropical sun, I wasn't ever able to actually retain any color. We made the decision to check this out based on the fact that Barbie had been going to one and it was working for her. Back then you laid in these flat hard plastic beds and the top wasn't hinged to come over you like they are now. They had this remote control type button and the whole thing came down from the ceiling and sort of sat over you like one of those grilled cheese sandwich presses. Thirty five minutes, unless you were in with the owners, as we were, and then they'd let us go for an hour.

Over the years I have been tanning on and off (mostly on) as the winter starts to get long or if I am getting ready for a trip. Tanning beds just don't make me tan like the real sun does, and I think I do it more for the "fake sun" effect than anything else. Though it IS nice to have some color on my face.

Beds now are contoured, high powered, aromatherapy coffin-like monstrosities and a lot of salons now offer spray on tan (what we used to do with QT in the 70s and 80s you can now do standing up in a machine with no vigorous hand washing afterward). I have simple needs - I need to get in and out, no waiting, no $50 bottles of accelerator and no real need for soft music from a boom box sitting on a folding chair in the corner. I prefer the quickest, most efficient path to keeping the dream alive.

My current tanning salon is over by where I used to live, and I bought a one year package about a year and a half ago and they still take it out of my account. It's not much money a month, and though they have gotten MUCH more out of it than I have, it's nice to know that on a Saturday morning, pre-Duck game and post-Tic Tacs at the Golden Crown (good Lord), I can race over there and feel the warmth of the hard plastic and hear the roar of the lamps that canNOT be healthy and feel like I am tan again.

No Olly Girls and no Hollywood hype. I don't look like a Southern California fake-and-baker, I simply don't look dead. That's all I need. I think I really like your idea, Elizabeth. I think if I were in your position, I would totally go for it.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Morning means a dull post

I swear not being able to blog at work will be the death of me. I think of all kinds of things throughout the day and end up forgetting them later. I suppose I could draft one and then post it later, but isn't spontaneity the mother of all good posts? I think so. So I end up blogging in the morning before work, and frankly I don't have a lot of time. I do have the TV news on while I am getting ready, so I will throw out another really annoying commercial that only you local Portlanders will get: that Sleep Country commercial with the lady in it that just on her own bugs the crap out of me. But what REALLY irritates me is the way she says "best". The end of her spiel is "best selection, best prices" and best something else but I can't remember what it is because just after she says "best" the first time the blood is rushing up to my head and by the end of it my ears are ringing and I am usually mocking her out loud. She says "beSSSSSSt". It's a really pronounced "s" and a really hard "t". I can't stand it.

Also of note, I have had some recent readers (well, visitors, they don't look like they are reading) who have found me by googling "Toyota Lots on the Lot commercial music". Oh my hell. Why do you care? Why would you want to know where that music comes from? It's not a particularly catchy tune. But it is really amazing when you see how many people have googled it and then found my blog as a result. Crazy. You people. Jeesh.

So I am receptionist-ing for Christine this week and it's slow and I sort of hang out and smile at everyone and realize how much Christine does all day and the abuse she has to put up with. I can only say that I am glad that I don't have to hand calls off to ME, because I was wretched to her. You know, I always apologized after, but good Lord. This is called karma, and a learning exercise. Two more days. I can do it.

Okay, gotta run. See what I mean?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Down the gridiron urge the heroes of our Mighty Oregon

So now that football is pretty much in full swing again, I am back to judging my weekends based on my successes - in this particular instance, a phenomenal weekend is upon us because my Browns beat the Bears on Thursday (suh-WEET) and my Ducks beat Houston yesterday. Great game (and the only one I was able to watch) yesterday - it had all the makings of a typical Duck game in my life: emotional, nerve-wracking, nail-biting, ups, downs, highs, lows... I don't need to actually drink beer when I watch Duck football simply because by the end of any game I am spent, and it is generally time for a nap. I find it's best to watch Duck football with other Duck fans, and yesterday was no exception - Tom had the game on at his apartment, and Lori, Scott, Rachel and her boyfriend Ben were there to watch it. The problem with having people there that don't know me (in this case, Ben, because I don't really know him) is that they often view my emotional outbursts as some sort of symptom of craziness. I assure you I am not crazy - I am merely a Duck for life.

And I do mean life. I often say (okay, always say) I have been a Duck fan since I shot out of the womb. And it's true. When I was 5 years old on the first day of first grade at St. Cecilia's in Beaverton (have I told you this story before?), I spent my first recess running around the playground asking if the other first graders were Ducks or Beavers - it's important to start out establishing your social circle early on. Of course, most of the other kids didn't know what the heck I was talking about, which frustrated 5-year-old me, but I never gave up, and ultimately alienated all the Beavers and hung with the Ducks. Or probably convinced them to BE Ducks, ultimately, because while popular in my grade school, I was also pretty manipulative.

Being a Duck fan for life has had its share of ups and downs of course, but I almost prefer the times when for years we weren't even on the map. You knew pretty much where you stood when you were a so-so organization. Though you looked forward to the weekend with the same anticipation, you knew deep down that the odds of winning probably were not as strong as they should be now. I remember moving to Cleveland and having to beg Gonzo, owner of Gonzo's Party Bar in Strongsville, to search the satelite stations to find my game. And the tradition for calling Taylor's in Eugene every Civil War game that I lived outside of Oregon is legendary (one year I phoned from Ohio and they asked, hey, didn't you call last year from California?). But back then it was next to impossible to get any kind of score - the internet was just starting and in my opinion too geek-related for me to even bother. Not to mention computers were really expensive. Then came the Rose Bowl, and finally, living in greater Cleveland, I had a little respect.

We Duck fans have had our extreme highs in the last, oh, 12 years or so, but I think sometimes it makes a lot of us forget the lean years - the years that we were at the bottom of the bowl, when Phil Knight wasn't dumping cash into the organization and Autzen Stadium was just a football field. I find myself reminding Office Boy John that as disappointed as he might feel from the results of a Duck football weekend (end of last season, well, as far as I'm concerned it might as well have been sometime in the 1980s), he must ALWAYS REMEMBER that we are Duck fans, and we are used to this. It doesn't change the way we feel, it's just a part of being a Duck fan. We are used to getting our asses kicked emotionally, getting our hopes up just to have them dashed to the ground within a 3 1/2 hour period of time. It's what makes us strong and dedicated and true. Sometimes I get so fired up when I am giving him variations of this speech, I find him looking at me with awe (well. Probably not awe. Probably fear, or concern. Yeah, probably concern).

So though I could go on and on, I will just end with this: Go Ducks. GO DUCKS. Fall is coming, and that can only mean pull out the sweatshirts and long pants, stock up on soup, and go buy a big fat bottle of Tums.