Sunday, August 24, 2008

A (Karaoke) Star Is Born!

Friday night Guy and I went to karaoke with a bunch of work buddies and did we have a blast! It had been so long since my last karaoke excursion I had forgotten how much fun it is to get all liquored up and make a fool of myself in public! We sang (and I use the term loosely) "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" and we brought down the house. Well, that might've been the beer talking...either way, what we lacked in talent we more than made up for in boundless enthusiasm.

Karaoke is a great equalizer--few people are very good at it, most of us really suck, but what we all share is the nerve to get up in front of a room full of people and draw a great deal of attention to ourselves and manage to have an absolutely fabulous time doing it. I'm an exhibitionist at heart, I think, because I love being the centre of attention and karaoke is a great way to achieve that. The crowd will clap for you no matter how bad you are as long as you're really trying and put on a good show. Besides, if they don't clap for you, you won't clap for them.

Another reason I keep doing it is karaoke is strangely addictive. I remember how much nerve it took for me to do it for the first time and immediately afterward wanting more than anything to get right back up there and do it again. I've heard the same is true to bungee jumping and skydiving, but I probably won't be doing either of those anytime soon. I guess what these things have in common is the rush--the exhilaration you feel, the release of endorphins in your blood stream--you're taking a risk. Mind you bungee jumping and skydiving have a different type of risk than karaoke, but the risk is there all the same. Emotional pain can be just as damaging as physical pain, and the effects can be even longer lasting.

Having said that, I don't think I'll be taking up any extreme sports. After all, I've never heard of somebody dying in a karaoke accident.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Can you get Repetitive Stress Injury in your thumbs?

I've finally been dragged kicking and screaming into the late twentieth century--I broke down and got a cell phone. I know what you're all thinking; "So what?" Well, it was a big deal for me. I had pretty much decided I'd never really need one when I found myself driving on unfamiliar highways in the dead of night on a semi-regular basis in the name of keeping my long-distance relationship alive. Funny how that makes you rethink your irrational hatred of portable communication devices...

Anyway, now I've got one and I've already become something I never thought it possible for me to become--a text messager. I saw people typing feverishly with their thumbs into their tiny little cell phones and I thought to myself, "Why don't you just call the damn person already!?" Then I got a cell phone and I understood why--sometimes it's just not appropriate to call someone.

For instance, my friend Kiki is off in wine country with her mother. To call her would mean long distance charges (which I want to avoid) so I text her instead to see how the trip is going. Another example: one of my friends from work left early today as she was feeling sick. Instead of calling her (which might disturb her from sleeping or whatever) I texted her to ask how she was feeling. She can respond (or not respond) at her leisure.

It's like email with less wait, more instant gratification and no computer. I totally get it now.

Maybe I should get a Blackberry...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Everybody's Getting Hitched!

I'm surrounded by wedding madness. Friends Mindy and Chris are getting married in, like, two months and at least 3 people I work with either just got married or are planning pending nuptials. Even Kiki and Randy have decided to tie the knot (much to the surprise of a few in our circle). Inevitably I'm finding myself swept up in the enthusiasm, offering to help Kiki with handmade invitations, emailing pictures of wedding dresses and looking forward to shopping for shower gifts, even perhaps throwing said shower...

I am often asked why my Honey and I haven't gotten married. I usually look at the person asking the question like they've grown a second head, but I guess it's not a completely ridiculous notion since we have been together for almost 9 years. We did have a purely academic discussion of the concept of marriage early on in our relationship, and we both seemed to agree that while it might be nice for many people it just wasn't something either of us was interested in. The idea of planning a wedding fills me with dread and I'm firmly of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" school of thought when it comes to relationship status.

To be honest though, if he were to pop the question I wouldn't hesitate to say "yes" (this is not a hint, Honey). I'd like to think I'd stick to my guns and keep it a small, unconventionally informal and non-traditional affair, but that's the problem with weddings--everybody has an expectation of what they think you should do and it's hard not to just go ahead and do what's been done before because it's easiest that way. It takes a really strong (or stubborn) person to stand up and say they don't want to wear white, they don't want a bouquet or "attendants", no tuxes or speeches or thousands of dollars on photography--just two people declaring their abiding love and fidelity to each other in the company of their closest friends and family.

Preferably with good food and an open bar.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I Would Buy Them in a Boat

While meandering through Sausalito, my Honey and I came across the Fingerhut Gallery. In it we discovered many talented artists including this one that my Honey really liked and this one which was my favourite (you might recognize her). However, the one we both agreed was the best was Dr. Seuss.

I loved his books as a child and of course that also meant I loved the illustrations with the cute little people and animals that were drawn in a style completely unique to him. You could always tell a Dr. Seuss book a mile away just by the cover art. Well now you can own full-sized canvases like this one for just $1695! My Honey's favourite was this one, but I'm rather partial to this one and this one.

I guess I'll have to start saving my shekels (as my Mother would say) if I'm ever gonna be the proud owner of one of these pieces of childhood nostalgia. Frankly, I think the prices are more than reasonable so who knows when one might show up on my wall...

Monday, August 4, 2008

California: Part Deux

Monday my Honey was working so I spent the morning wandering around downtown Mountain View window shopping and not-so-window shopping. I went to Target and Mervyn's for some things that are way more expensive back home in Canada than they are here. I brought a gift for my Honey of 3 black and white, 8x10 prints from the drive we took down the Pacific Coast highway on my last trip here and I was able to find 3 matching frames at Target for them.

We met for lunch at an Irish pub called St. Stephens Green (which appears to be one of the few--and possibly only--nightlife venues in Mountain View) for delicious roasted chicken sandwiches and thick-cut chips. I had a beer called Fat Tire. It was quite nice, very hop-y. I spent the afternoon napping and flipping through my Honey's new IKEA catalogue. I was looking forward to going back to the terrific Mexican place we went to on my last visit, but after all the rich food I'd been eating over the last 2 days I ended up skipping dinner altogether Monday night. It's probably a good thing--far too many calories consumed already this trip!

On Tuesday, my Honey and I took off to Santa Cruz for the day. We started off having lunch at an amazing Greek place which was tiny but had the best lamb Gyros I think I've ever had. The tzatziki was so garlic-y, we stank for the next two days. After that we worked it off walking around the University of California Santa Cruz campus gawking at all the big trees. Holy crap those things are huge! And they're not even the really big ones!

After wandering around UCSC for an hour or so, we headed into downtown Santa Cruz and visited the Museum of Art and History which was pretty cool. We drove a while down at the waterfront past the Surfing Museum (which we didn't visit--maybe next time) to a lookout where we saw a large rock jutting out of the ocean that was completely covered in pelicans!

The trip home was a fun, twisty-turny drive up and over the Santa Cruz Mountains at breakneck speeds with transport trucks barreling down on us, and to top it all off we got home just in time to have a wonderful meal at the Mexian place. All in all a very satisfying day.

Sadly on Wedneday I had to fly back home and go back to the realities of feeding my cat, doing my laundry and earning a living. But I did have a fabulous little vacation to hold me over for the next little while and I managed to bring back a lovely pair of earrings and this gorgeous purse to add to my collection, so I'd say it was a worthwhile trip. Oh, and it was great to see my Honey, too.


Greetings from Sunny California!

Here I am again! I enjoyed myself so much last time that I was afraid that I had raised my expectations for this visit to such a level that I would almost certainly be disappointed. Happily, that has not been the case!

My flight from Buffalo left at 5:50am (yes, that's morning) so I got up and left by 2:15am (btw, not doing that again) to get to the airport on time. After taking the cut-off for the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, I saw a sign telling me there was a 30-60 minute wait. Fortunately the Erie crossing had no wait--unfortunately you don't see the sign until after you exit the highway, so I had to wait until I came to the next exit and turn around to get back on the highway to get to Erie. By the time I got to the airport, parked, took the shuttle, checked in, cleared security and trotted to my gate I ended up being about the 5th last person to board. It all turned out in my favour though, because another man wanted my seat so he could sit next to his son and I ended up having the whole row to myself!

The only bonus to taking such an insanely early flight was that I was scheduled to get into SFO at 9:30 in the morning. However, my flight from Chicago was delayed so I ended up arriving at more like 10:30, but it was still early enough for my Honey and I to have the whole day together. Having said that, the day wasn't particularly productive but it was nice to just relax, hang out and enjoy each other's company. We had breakfast/lunch of burgers and fries at In and Out and took a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond to look for acrylic glasses and we ended up buying a set of dishes instead. After that I needed a nap (that's what happens when you only get 3 1-2 hours of sleep) and later we played Wii, ordered pizza for dinner and then played pool in the apartment complex's party room. I hit the wall shortly after 9pm and passed out until 7-something the next day.

Sunday we drove into San Francisco right downtown to the Mission district and had lunch at a great crepe place called Ti Couz which is an authentic creperie Bretonne. They use buckwheat flour and the crepes are giant squares on your plate instead of little rolled up tubes. They were fabulous! We shared two "savoury" crepes--one with tomato, sausage and cheese and one with mushroom, carmelized onions and cheese--and one "sweet" crepe for dessert--apples, caramel, whipped cream and a scoop of delicious homemade vanilla icecream. They were all divine and I was so full I pretty much waddled back to the car.

The rest of the day was spent in Sausalito, a small touristy town on the other side of the famous Golden Gate bridge from San Francisco. Sausalito is right on the water, has tonnes of shops, restaurants and art galleries but very little parking. We found a spot up in a residential area off Princess Street which we could only park in for 2 hours. After that we had to move to another spot. We had fun browsing in stores and galleries and at the end of the day we had dinner at a great seafood place called Scoma's. We shared a massive appetizer of calamari dusted with flour and sauted with tomato and mushrooms which was fantastic and then I had scallops served with very rich and delicious buttery sauce, green beans and buttermilk mashed potatoes that my Honey loved! He had fish and chips that were also very well prepared with a very light batter that didn't overwhelm the fish and crispy shoe-string fries. The meal was so massive we sadly didn't have room for dessert, but I couldn't have eaten another bite.

I enjoyed Sausalito very much--it's a pretty town with lots of fun shops and beautiful views. There is a lot of money in that town, too! I nearly gave myself whiplash looking at all the hot cars. I looked like a major country bumpkin, but I don't care. Where else have I been where you see two Rolls Royce's inside of 30 seconds?