Monday, August 30, 2010

The End!

So what more can I say? Tuesday was hot. Like 115 degrees hot. It was mostly pool time but seriously when you are that hot, you can't really lay out. We tried (in vane) to get floatie rafts for the pool one morning (Sunday? Or was it Monday?) and hit the Target and the Walmarts, and the only thing we could find were noodles. Which were fine, but I didn't have the balls to do that spider-looking thing that Cece did with them, and we only bought one each because we thought they were $10 but they ended up only being like $3. $6 I can leave behind, but $20? I'm too much of a tightwad these days. Silly me. We made it to about 2:30 or so in that kind of heat then went to clean up and hit the outlet mall in Cabazon.

It's this superfantastic high end one (though it did have the regular outlet mall stores in it too) and it was huge. It was sixteen miles away (I know this) and though we hit quite a bit of it, my heart wasn't in it and all I purchased was lotions from L'Occitaine. After the mall we decided to check out the other desert cities, beginning at Palm Desert and working our way back to Palm Springs, googling things like The Betty Ford Clinic along the way. We almost found it, too, but apparently it's not as easy to find as it used to be back in the day. We put a lot of miles on that Versa, mostly because I have no sense of direction and get lost and turned around easily, but the whole area is beautiful. It was dark when we made it up the 111 back into our home turf, but we stopped at a shop or two before heading back to the casita to pack up.

We had to be out of the unit by 11ish, and I thought it might be a good idea to get out of the desert and back closer to the ocean before it got all shitty on the 91, so we laid out first thing Wednesday for a couple of hours and then went back to clear out. We drove west(ish) and hit Newport Beach for a little bit, chatted with a lady about a beach front rental, and then headed up PCH to Huntington. Wow has that area changed! I realize it's been something like 20 years since I've been there but for Pete's sake. There's a Duke's there, for crying out loud. I bought a sweatshirt.

Made it to the airport relatively unscathed (except for almost getting killed in the glorieta that came out of no where and then not being able to find a gas station) and in plenty of time, and got back to Portland around 9pm. I was home by 10. It was really a great trip and now that I am back and have worked a full day my mind has been completely drained of anything vacation-like.

But I'll go back. I may not be that tan, but for under $500 per person, August in the desert is the only way to go.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

More Palm Springs

Is my head in it today? I think so. I have grand intentions of doing a bunch of stuff today so let's see how long that lasts. I'm completely out of creamer and sugar so the coffee will last me exactly this cup, no danger of getting amped on caffeine and then needing to take a nap at 12n. Like yesterday. But I digress.

Seriously I'm not going day by day on this thing. I'm already starting to forget stuff.

So Sunday we moved to a different pool because the Santa Monica girls just wanted to challenge Cece politically and apparently stupid people irritate her. I can dig it. We started the morning tradition of getting up at 6 and getting coffee at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf downtown. Since it was a chilly 86 degrees most mornings, this was a pleasant way to spend the morning, chatting with locals and cooing over the gay men's dogs. There isn't a lot of tourist activity in August, being as how it's in the 100s by noon, so we had a lot of opportunity to drill the locals about the whats and whys of Palm Springs.

We talked about doing the tram at some point, and since we are both afraid of heights we decided Sunday was the day to do it. Our condo was conveniently located across the 111 from the tram entrance (who knew from the signage that it was 4 miles up from the 111? And who knew that in extreme heat there would be highway signs advising you to turn off the air conditioner? Thank God it was a rental car, because I never would have punished my own car the same way I did going up that dang hill). After getting some supplies (fruit, soda, water, styrofoam coolers) at the Stater Bros and the Dollar store, we finally headed out to the (other) pool. HOT. We pretty much had the pool to ourselves the whole time, except in the early afternoon when that VERY good looking, tan, built, Boston-accented guy came out to swim. We never did catch his name but he was fun. And not hard on the eyes. At all.

Our agenda pretty much entailed "try to get to the pool by like 8:30 or so, lay out til around 2:30 or 3, and then do something". For the most part we did that. Sunday was tram day, and we had found out earlier that if you take it after 3pm you save like $3. Perfect. Cece had purchased a book about the tram and was busy throwing out fast facts to pretty much anyone at the pool (meaning me and the Boston guy). That whole tram thing is pretty spectacular, just so you know, and is worth the trip. Down.

The trip up sucked (for me). The operator was good but holy mother of Christ I don't like heights and there was just no where to look that didn't scare the crap out of me. It's like a 10 minute trip and sometimes it's bumpy and it's really really high and it seemed that any time I opened my eyes we were flying straight into the sheer rock wall of Mt. San Jacinto. Neat! By the time we got to the top I was a wreck. Thank God everywhere in Palm Springs (including there) serves Stella Artois on tap.

It's pretty high up there.
It was roughly 30 degrees cooler up there too, which was nice. We took some photos and then hung out for a bit having beer and chatting (again) with some broad and her nephew and friend who gave us some good dinner ideas. The trip DOWN, after a little over an hour, was much easier. In the same way that I prefer landing to taking off in an airplane, going down the tram was awesome.

We had some dinner at a great Italian place I can't remember the name of (Calura? I don't know), and were in for the night.

That's the theme, I guess. Pool til 3ish, shower, go do something. Monday we were joined by Boston Guy and another fellow, not sure if he was Cheech or Chong (I'm going with Chong), who was full of deep insight and existential points of interest (no, up til now, never thought about the earth's core..), and a working knowledge of where Elvis's Palm Springs estate was. Cece's sort of a pop culture junkie so after cleaning up, we headed up another hill in search of the King. Thank God for the iPhones (kinda) because Boston Guy and Chong's directions were a little bit off. After some driving around and u-turns (I'm not the best driver), we made it.

I know he's dead but apparently he lives on in the form of chimney art.
From there we found Liberace's house and then drove down to the Ingleside Inn for a cocktail at Melvyn's (a must-do per Chong and Boston Guy).

So glad we did that! Not only did I sit in the very bar stool that Tony Curtis sat in not 2 weeks ago, we were charmed by the very eccentric and polished Maitre d'Hotel Sir Michael Campbell, who does not, in fact, go on cruises, but rather, travels by ocean liner, and Scotty the gay bartender who had spent one year in the Pacific NW and ran screaming back to the desert. How can you blame him? This flipping place was the shit. Seriously. It was oozing old Hollywood. We had a blast and three martinis each there, and finally went back to the condo feeling like stars.

Okay. It looks like this is going to be a three-parter. I might be back later today because vacation is over and I won't want to write about it past today, I'm sure. And it's just not fair to any of you to leave you hanging.. I know it was a long one today but hey, I threw some pictures in so that had to be worth it, right?

Okay. On to my productive Sunday.

Friday, August 27, 2010

So I went to Palm Springs on Saturday

It's really hard for me to come back from vacation and give a rundown because it begins to sound all "trip-report"-y and nobody does trip reporting like Janie. So I won't give too much of a blow by blow, but we'll see if we can't hit some of the key moments.

First off, yeah. Palm Springs in August? Awesome. It's somewhat dead on account of the heat, and for someone who doesn't like crowds (people), it worked out pretty well. Cece was on time for the pickup and we didn't have much waiting around for the flight. That's another huge plus - 2 hour flight. Dig it. I flipping hate taking off, and only having to do it twice in five days was pretty awesome.

So right out of the gate (so to speak) things were looking good. Long Beach Airport is tiny, so the only real wait we had that morning was for the rental car, a spiffy little Nissan Versa (I've never heard of one either) for a steal of a deal on Priceline. I'd do that again. We hit Lakewood Blvd to the 91 (after having to flip the first bitch of the vacation pretty much almost immediately - one could argue that I shouldn't be the one behind the wheel since I have zero sense of direction and am easily distracted), then took the 91 to the 60/215/60 to the 10 to the 111. Take a left on San Rafael. Boom.

I can't remember who it was that told Cece to make sure she tried In-n-Out Burger, but since it was like 11am on Saturday morning we decided to make that the first stop. I can't remember what possessed me to find that In-n-Out in Yorba Linda, but this is how fate works. So since I haven't lived in Southern California in something like 17 years (seriously, I can't believe how old I am), I figured I'd stop in the areas that were more familiar. Taking the 91, Yorba Linda seemed to fit the bill. My brother Chris and his family live there, and I've been there within the last five years. I put Cece to work on finding the In-n-Out on her phone but we were having some challenges (she hadn't added the "Around Me" app yet) so I took an exit (Weir Canyon? I think) thinking maybe it was over in that super gigantic strip mall that has the Target and the Pavillions and all that. It wasn't there so I parked for a bit to try to find the thing on MY phone (all this matters). I said, You know, I COULD call Jill (Chris's wife) and ask her, but then she'll make us stop and I don't want to, we're on a mission. We were within blocks of their house and it was just not a part of the original agenda - in theory we wanted to be poolside by noonish (but we were already behind that schedule. Still...).

So I decide (I'm not sure why) to drive back out of the gigantic strip mall and get back on Weir Canyon and we have to turn left at a light that had two left turn lanes and sure as shit, there, next to me in the other turn lane, is my brother Chris. Busted. I yelled for him and he looked, shocked, since nobody REALLY knew I was around, and then I yelled, Where's the In-n-Out Burger? He pointed toward Imperial Hwy and yelled stuff I couldn't hear, but in the end, Jill phoned and gave me directions and then DEMANDED we swing by. I caved. We did. Cece got her burger and fries and also got to see Chris's pool and we spent an hour chit-chatting.

It bears noting that once we got back on the freeway again there was another In-n-Out about two exits away.

But it was fun and in true Jill fashion, we walked away with a whole bunch of stuff that she markets.

We made it to Palm Springs at around 3pm I think, I can't really remember. The unit (the $49-per-night condo that everyone was convinced would be a dump) was great. We changed clothes and headed out downtown to get some water and beer and chippage to just have, and stopped at a bar for a couple of Stellas. It was hot. We made it back to the pool by around 5:30 or so, past sun time, but with time to swim a bit and cool off and chat with two women who were out from Santa Monica for the weekend.

So in my attempt to be brief, we're only at day one. I can't believe I've written THIS much, frankly, so I might have to actually extend this. For those of you that hang on my every word, this is fantastic news. For those of you who just have me on your Reader and don't really linger over the words, sorry. You're stuck with another couple of posts before we're through this one.

Until later...

Friday, August 20, 2010


Did you know I have 821 posts on this blog? Well, after this one, 822. I'm stunned you people don't go back and read EVERY SINGLE ONE of them when you stumble upon this thing. That was sarcasm, in case you were wondering.

I'm procrastinating. I have to get up at like 3am (seriously), shower, make sure I have everything, chase after the kitties to give them extra love, empty the dishwasher, take out the trash, remember something(s) I forgot, and then Cece will be by at around 4:45 to pick me up.

Tomorrow at this time I will be one or all of the following:

- slightly sunburned
- crazy tired
- thrilled with the fabulousness of my thrifty vacation-planning
- hammered
- realizing I forgot something important

I guess at this point I'm pretty much packed except for the bathroom-related items, most of which are packed but some of which you can't pack until the very end. Like the toothbrush, the hairdryer and the curling iron. I have definitely over-packed but it fits in the middle-sized suitcase so I'm feeling pretty good about things. I really should be going to bed soon.

So let's hear it for adventure, and I'll be back in five days or so to give you the lowdown. That is, of course, if there is anything to tell.

Let's face it, there will be.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It doesn't have to make sense

I haven't heard this song on the radio or anywhere else in years, so it should have surprised me that when I woke up this morning this song was stuck in my head.

It should have, but it doesn't. God only knows where my mind goes when I fall asleep.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


So I was chit chatting with my friend and coworker Annette yesterday at the circus. She seemed pretty stressed out. Work has been busy, and to top it off she is one woman living in a house with a husband and two teenaged sons. She calls them all pigs (which is pretty normal, I think, I mean, my brothers were in charge of the yard, and the girls of the housecleaning - in Oregon, yard work really happens for maybe 3 months out of the year if you play your cards right). Anyway, she told me one day she was completely fed up and gave them an assignment - write your own obituary. She meant it so that they would realize what, if any, impact they had made on the world, but deep inside it was self-serving: once she killed them, she'd still have to figure out how to eulogize them. Don't worry, Annette isn't a psycho killer disguising as an escrow officer, but let's be honest - the job is enough to want to make you go postal. Coming home to a house full of non-productive boys can't make it any better.

She asked me if I thought she was a terrible person. I told her no, that I thought it was a great idea. I don't think teenage boys with little motivation would find it a challenge, but for someone like me, staring down the barrel of 45? Great idea.

It has never been my intention to have accomplished certain things by certain ages in my life. I have always just sort of gone where the wind takes me. Considering I am still in this apartment after two years, which is pretty much the longest I've lived anywhere since 2004, and the fact that I have pets, well, I feel myself sort of ... stopping. Slowing down, anyway. Grounding myself, but that implies that I'm trying to ground myself, and I'm not sure that I am. I have a sort of resistance to the security that staying in one place for too long brings. If I didn't have a general mistrust of doctors I might have that looked at, but alas..

So what will someone say about me when they stand up in front of the handful of people that might attend my funeral (this sounds sort of morbid, doesn't it? But death is a part of the circle of life, my friends. Everything is inevitable.)? What have I done? Have I made an impact on anybody besides making people laugh? Is there anything more tangible than just trying to pull somebody out of a crappy mood or helping someone work up a file? Surely someone's life is better out there because of me, right? But whose? And what have I done? (By the way, these are rhetorical questions; I'm not fishing for answers.)

I guess the ultimate goal should be to walk away from my own obituary thinking, That was a good person. This is an exercise I have to put some thought into, and who knows, I might even publish the result for the 14 of you that are left reading. For now, think about Annette's idea and consider the impact you have made on your world. And then consider there is still time to change anything that doesn't sound so good.

(Fairly deep for a Saturday morning, yeah?)

Monday, August 09, 2010

Here's why I'm a sucker for marketing

This is not my bedroom. I wish it was, but it's not. Currently my bedroom has a bed on a frame with no headboard or footboard, two mismatched antique chests of drawers, two comforters and four pillows, all with mismatched textiles. There are shoes on the floor in front of the smaller chest, which holds a dusty fan and several tshirts, a pair of jeans and some cotton shorts. There is a mirror on one of the walls and a TV on the other chest. It could be described at the very least as functional. But it's not the bedroom in the picture.

I like simple, almost stark, clean, pure lines. I like big fluffy comforters with duvets in rich tones. I like a bed that screams out to the living room, "Come on in and lay down!" For some reason I have never actually had that kind of bedroom.

I got the Ikea catalog in the mail today, and I love Ikea because Ikea for some reason knows exactly the life I want to live. Or at least the place I come home to after having lived it. I want every one of the duvet sets and all but a few of the beds. I want throws and big comfy sofas and wicker chests with big brass buckles that I'd use as a coffee table. I want simple prints in silver frames lined up along one wall. I want soft linen panels that hang from a cafe rod over my slider and softly billow in the breeze. For some reason I want a dining room table that's already set with earth-toned plates and bowls and napkins in wooden rings. I want something at least marginally more attractive than what I currently have to set my old-school tube TV on. I want rugs, and throw pillows, and hooks to hang my coat on when I come in the door. I want to walk in to the bedroom and toss my sweater on to the bed and have it LOOK like it's supposed to be there.

The people who live in the Ikea catalog do not have cats whose claws have absolutely and irreversibly ruined their sofa. They do not have to vacuum constantly to get the hair up, and do not find stuffed mice in their shoes. You never see kibble on the kitchen floor or little splashes of water next to the bowl. They don't wear houseclothes, or if they do, they are certainly nothing like mine. They dust (or someone does it for them). They lounge, they eat whole wheat pasta with feta and quinoa salad and sip red wine. They watch public broadcasting and are working on their next novel. They don't realize they have to take the trash out the minute the bra is off, the make up removed and the hair is pulled on top of the head. They prefer bicycles to cars and are responsible enough to phone the Beaverton Honda to schedule their rear brake repair. They balance their checkbooks and have ironing boards and like to knit. I'd never make it in the Ikea catalog world.

But I think I want a bed, at least a bed, that looks like this one. It's time I had one, don't you think? Maybe if I start with a bed, it will inspire me to build the life I've always supposed I should have. The life the Ikea catalog says I should have.

Saturday, August 07, 2010


To drink or not to drink... that was the question.

I woke up this morning thinking about all I had to do today and promptly spent the next three hours on the internet and the phone. Why am I surprised? It's like any other Saturday. It's past noon and all I have done is gone to the mall for some necessities. I still have to tan, hit the supermarket, clean, hit the Target, hit the Petsmart, and find time to relax.

Rewind to this morning at 6am when Lava convinced me to get up (I slept in): I have this party tonight and I wasn't sure about drinking at it.

Isn't that funny? What a decision! Like anything I wrap my head around, I become almost obsessed with the consequences. I had a ride, so I didn't have to worry about driving, and that's one of the reasons I don't drink so much anymore (only on vacations - it used to be "only when I'm out of the country" but I'm going to Palm Springs and I fully intend to drink while there). I started thinking about Sunday morning, and how I would feel, and even if I didn't drink that much I might psychosomatically feel more hungover than I really would be and would spend all day on the sofa when I should be doing something productive like cleaning the cat box or vacuuming. Then I went on to Monday morning, and how I was sure that I'd be bitter going in to work feeling completely cheated out of a weekend day, which would make me cranky and not fun to be around. For God's sake it's just beer.

But then Lori sent an email with regard to directions to my house, and I replied, you know... why don't I just drive? Because I won't miss the drinking part and it's probably better all around. Was I hoping she'd say, No no no it's fine, we'll drive, to give me an excuse to have a beer (or 13)? Kinda. But she jumped on it and I'm happy about it because in the end I am really not going to do any major cleaning today and I'll need tomorrow to finish up the shit I won't get done today.

So there it is. Now you know the battle that wages in my head any time there is an opportunity to drink socially. It's not so much that I think I'll get hammered and wrap my car around a telephone pole, it's more the fear of driving period. The Nordstrom girl said to me, well, you can have ONE beer, to which I replied, Yeah.. no I can't.

I really don't miss it that much. I don't like crave it or anything. Sometimes it would be nice to have a couple of beers and chill. But I haven't been able to stop at a couple since I was about 16, so really it's better this way. And if the Nordstrom girl knows about it now, then it's not like I won't have a problem being chatty tonight, right?

It'll be fun and tomorrow will be productive, and that's the way I like it.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

They're the luckiest people in the world

You can't say that I don't get out much. I get out. I just sometimes prefer to be home. I have a job that can be at times very frustrating, very busy, very draining, and after a long day I mostly just want to put on my houseclothes and be in for the evening.

When I do go out, however, I have a really good time, and wonder why I don't go out more often. The first Wednesday of every month I meet for dinner with a group whose common denominator is my colorist. It's not a huge commitment and I get to go to places I wouldn't otherwise go (meaning I cross the river. I rarely cross the river). It's a diverse group (though there are two in the escrow biz like me) and the conversation is great.

But I'm a creature of habit - or should I say I'm somewhat chained to my routines? I like to be in bed by 10pm and I like to get up around 4:45am. Change these up a little and I feel like a wrench has been thrown into my whole day. I'm getting better, but I still find myself checking my watch at 8:15, wrapping it up by 8:30, and then racing like the wind across town before I have to turn on my headlights (have I mentioned I HATE that I have to turn on my headlights now at 8:45pm? I hate it when summer goes). I find myself a little bit rushed, patterns off, and though I go to bed at mere minutes past 10, I wake up the next day tired and feeling a little hung over (it's important to mention I haven't had alcohol since Dec 12..). There is no question it's all in my head. The real question is how do you make it get OUT of there?

Saturday I am meeting a couple of high school friends and heading over to another high school friend's house for a mini-reunion. We did this last year, though the players may change this time around. Seems like it will be smaller. I think I'm looking forward to seeing a couple of people and then calling it good, but again, it's something different. Getting out. Being social. Un crazy-cat-ladying myself. Maybe.

The good news is the Palm Springs trip is on (major clusterfuck on that one - I booked the wrong week. It's worked itself out though) and soon I will be laying out in 110 degree heat for the tan of the year. I've also priced out Cancun, and it's doable. But at the same time my rear brakes are out now, my front brakes will be done in 5000 miles, and I'll need new tires before winter. So it's a good thing I'm flat ass broke or I'd have a hard time deciding what to pay for first.

Things are mel, it's summer, I've got some potential worries but I'm not letting them get me down. I'm looking forward to being social and needing people around me again. For a little while, anyway.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Wish list

I wish that I could wake up in the morning and not have to clean up cat vomit.

I also wish that I could remove this plumbing and not have to deal with this crap every month. There's a big trend of that going on in my offices these days. Why can't I get in on that? What did my uterus ever do for me?

I'm bitter and sick of cat vomit.