Monday, June 25, 2007

Mini-Post From Juneau

Please take a momentary break from the Test Pattern, as I'm blogging from Alaska! Very exciting. I'm in the lobby of the extravagant Goldbelt Hotel. When I say "extravagant", I'm "extra-exaggerating", but it was fine and comfy for one-night's sleep.

And just so you know, it is very very gray here. I can't post any photos yet, but you can trust me. I never lie about the weather.

So I'll just continue to wander around the kitchy little Gold Rush town, eating fudge (I do love that about touristy towns - the fudge), and taking photos of big bears carved out of a Spruce log. You'll all benefit from this, I promise.

Until next week, then. Please return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Out of Blog Response

Hello, and thanks for stopping by! I am currently on a 9-day small-ship cruise in Alaska, and will be unable to post. I will return July 2

Should you require immediate blog-entertainment, please see the left-hand side of this page for links to other blogs.


I will respond to all requests for posting topics when I return. If you have a specific request, please leave it in the "comments" section.


Warm regards,


TravelGretta



Friday, June 22, 2007

Special Ops

I don't mean "operations", like a Navy Seal unit, but rather "opinions". As in the Op Ed section of any newspaper. People who write the Op Ed column are actually paid just to have opinions. I love that, and think it is also crazy. Who voted those people Emperor or Empress of Opinions? I want that job. I have all sorts of opinions, on just about everything. Just ask any one of my friends, who promptly ignore me whenever I open my mouth. Come on! Everyone deserves to know my feelings on pressing issues such as overly-chatty grocery store checkers; or my proposed city garbage pick-up schedules; or what is REALLY the New Black.

I have been accused of being judgmental, which - on occasion - is true. I do think it is unfortunate that you have put on some weight, but sheesh, have you seen what you've been eating lately? I mean, put the shovel down - it's supposed to be used for gardening, not bread pudding... But, honestly, most of the time it is just me, having an opinion. I would love to be paid for having opinions, particularly if you are paid per opinion. I figure, I would probably make one squillion dollars per year. And that is a lot of dollars - at least in my opinion.

The flip side of the Op Ed section, is all the rest of the news, which is supposed to be un-biased. Yecccch. Un-biased is just so wishy-washy. Take a stand, for crying out loud. Okay, okay, being unbiased and presenting the facts allows the masses to take up their own discussions regarding their opinions, which is nice, and provides fodder for cocktail parties. And those loud shows on MSNBC and CNN.

Various regions of the U.S. voice their Ops in differing ways. I am going to make a few gross generalizations here, so have your Grain of Salt ready:

East coasters are very direct, sometimes frighteningly so, and a complete stranger will tell you that you should run a flatiron over that mop of frizz before stepping out the door in the morning. I call these "Aggressive Ops".

Midwest people are straightforward enough, but still intend every comment to be useful, and may offer suggestions in the form of a question like "did you realize how much those pants had shrunk up? I mean, I guess they are almost capris..."- "Standard Ops".

Southern folk will smile widely and nod at you, while thinking "did she get that frosted lipstick out of the 1983 time capsule that we buried in the back yard?", and as soon as you are out of earshot, they will share these insights with the neighborhood. They are well versed in "Secret Ops".

West coast people tend to just keep their opinions to themselves, and no matter how much they think that purse does not go with those shoes, they will not let it be known, but it may fester a bit in their brain. I call these "Inside Ops".

Again - Grains of Salt - there are exceptions to every rule. And I find that it is best to get your Grain of Salt off of the margarita glass. That is my Mandatory Op.

Lions & Tigers & Bears!

Except not lions & tigers. I'm going to Alaska on Sunday. Do I sound excited? No. No I do not. Which is good, in a way; since my expectations are fairly low, maybe I will really love this trip. I DO love me some good wildlife. I am just so antsy to go on a TRIP trip, like to somewhere that has completely different surroundings from the Pacific Northwest, without the fir trees and the cool temperatures, and the...yep, Alaska is pretty similar. Except that I usually don't see this when I look out my bedroom window


I have no idea if I'll actually see that on this trip, but fingers crossed! Otherwise it will probably just be a lot of this:









Which will just make me feel like this:

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Carnival of Shopping

Doesn't a Carnival of Shopping almost sound like too much fun to bear? I am proud to say my post about my Brazilian shopping mishaps is featured in Become's pocket change section. I love being associated with fun shopping, since I try to associate everything else with fun shopping.

*Travel? Fun shopping and supporting the local economies

*Road trip to the parents' house? Fun on-the-way outlet shopping

*Gas station fill-up? Fun food mart shopping

*Dentist Appointment? Fun dental hygiene accessories shopping

*Party at house of distant acquaintance? Fun secret closet shoe shopping

Okay, that last one? Not really. You can still invite me to those parties. Seriously. I mean it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Vicarious Trip to China

When not traveling, it is very easy to become complacent, and satisfied with watching vapid reality tv, and discussing it at length with anyone who will listen. Or writing about it on your blog... But then, your friends Alissa and Boris return from a trip to China and share their fantastic photos with you, via your favorite website, Ofoto. So you just decided to take a little vicarious vacation with them, while sitting at your desk at work. This vacation was fun for several reasons:

1) I did not have to pack

2) I did not have to take that long flight to China

3) I could remain seated while "climbing" the Great Wall

I have been to China a few times, three times to Hong Kong (which wasn't super China-ish, but is now technically China), and once to Beijing (super China-ish and awesome). Alissa and Boris had photos from Hong Kong of some great cultural sites, that for whatever reason (shopping) I had neglected on my tours there. My stops in Hong Kong were very brief - the longest was a 3-day weekend - so I must have thought "I only have a few days - I really need to go back to Stanley Market, where I've been twice already, because they may have gotten some new Cheongsam dresses that I need".


Stanley Market is really one of my happy places, and not just because the shopping rocks. I love taking the red double-decker #6 (or 6A) from Kowloon

and riding up the winding roads, and along the cliffs next to Repulse Bay. Repulse Bay is the Mother of All Misnomers (except for a previous surly, stoney-faced co-worker of mine, named "Dulce"), as it is an absolutely gorgeous spot.

Wikipedia says: In 1841 the bay was used as a base by pirates and caused serious concern to foreign merchant ships trading with China. The pirates were subsequently repulsed by the British Fleet; hence the name. Another theory holds that the bay was named after the HMS Repulse which was stationed at the bay at one point.


That makes more sense. It is not repulsive in the least. Now, Puno, Peru is a different story...

But, back to China! Hong Kong is vastly different from Beijing, but I enjoyed both equally. Hong Kong indulged my frenetic cosmopolitan commercial/shopping side, and Beijing allowed a rare appearance from my less-shallow, culture-curious side. Beijing was giant and sprawling and chock-full of the culture, not to mention the rich and romantic history. AND we got to ride bikes. That was my favorite part, as it brought me slightly closer to immersing myself in the Beijing lifestyle. The bicycle lanes take up half of the streets, so it is actually enjoyable to pedal around the city, as opposed to biking on Seattle streets, where you're scrunched over to the curb by the spacey, attention-challenged drivers. Although, to be fair, there are a lot of Seattle bikers who are ridiculously inconsiderate and deem the entire road built just for them. Driving behind an Armstrong-wannabe, at 15 miles per hour, gets a little old after 8 miles.

Beijing was a dream, to be sure, but occasionally in the dream I would be confounded at the meal selections, as I did not read Chinese script, and found myself terrified at the possibility of ordering something like monkey brains. The Lonely Planet said that was a dish there. I am not proud to say that I spent many meals at McDonalds and the Beijing Hard Rock Cafe, eating totally American food - Diet Coke and all. But I did go next door to this really funny dumpy bar, where we sat outside and drank CHINESE beer. See? I can assimilate.

I think Boris and Alissa probably did better than I, with their cultural immersion, if only making that deduction based on this photo.



My dad is the proud owner of that same green communist hat. I think I got it at Stanley Market...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"I'm excited to take this journey"

The veritable slogan on every reality dating show. It has nothing to do with travel, and everything to do with over-sentimental, contrived schmaltz. I love it.

I'm embarking on the journey of "Age of Love" (NBC Mondays 9PM, Pacific), and this is going to be hilarious. In the first 10 minutes of the show, they highlight interview video of the "Bachelor", 30-yr old tennis-pro Mark Phillippoussis, talking about how he is looking forward to meeting all the "attractive, young women". The first round of women who are brought out to be introduced to sweet Mark, are all in their 40s. Each woman tells him her age, and the resulting looks of barely-disguised shock and slight discomfort on Mark's face are enough to keep me glued to the TV for the next 6 weeks (or however long this takes). He has notoriously dated only younger women in the past, and he admitted that his last relationship was with a 20-yr old. I am in absolute hysterics.


It is such a shame, the show involves the inevitable twist, and they bring in a group of women in their 20s, and the trailer clips look, sadly, similar to the typical catty backstabbing girls from "The Bachelor", or any of the other standard MTV-generation dating shows. Although, I am looking forward to many conversations about "making a connection", and "taking things to the next level". I really am excited to take this journey.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Gray, Grey, Gone

Thankfully, Seattle has some schizophrenic tendencies, and, 5 hours after my last post, it now looks like this outside.

Gray, Grey, Go Away

It is still Allegedly June, and the weather still looks like this:


It is no wonder that they named the TV show "Grey's Anatomy". Gray, grey, whatever, it is not sunny and happy here. If they moved the setting of the show to Santa Fe, they would have to rename it "Red's Anatomy", due to all the red clay and such. And then the focus could be on Dr. Addison Shepherd:

You know, because of the red hair. Although, she is already set to be the focus of the "Grey's" spinoff show, so I digress.

They could move the show to any location now, as I stopped watching it after they moved it to Thursday nights. It was such a perfect Sunday night show.


So, I'm still crabby about "Grey's" on Thursday nights, and still crabby about Gray Seattle in Allegedly June.


I am wanting ANY kind of diversion of a different color. I watched "Shrek 2" over the weekend, just for the technicolor setting, and "Pirates of the Caribbean 2" for, you know, the Caribbean.

With a job in travel, you might be asking yourself: Doesn't this girl get to go anywhere? The answer is "yes". I am leaving Sunday for a cruise in Alaska. I saw this recent footage on YouTube





Apparently it is Allegedly June in Alaska as well. This is how I feel about that:

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Saturday Night Armchair Traveling

Is it scary that this was the one thing that made me smile this weekend?

Ahhh the good old days of my childhood, when Debbie Herboldt would babysit us on Saturday nights, and let us watch Love Boat. And so was born my love for ship-board travel.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Uni-lingual in Korea

Okay, that post about being pretend bilingual reminded me of my miserable attempt to learn Korean.
I lived in Seoul, South Korea in 1996, and thought "if you're going to be living there, you should learn the language". Hmph. My dad bought me this elaborate collection of Barron's Korean tapes, which I dutifully listened to for the few weeks before I flew to Seoul, and it was hard! I applaud anyone who can speak English AND any of the Asian languages - they are so different! If you learned both languages before the age of 5, though, it doesn't really count, since learning anything at that age is easy.


If only Cookie taught Learning About Korean... Although I wasn't learning much Korean, I was learning that my Korean co-workers were terribly unconcerned as to whether or not I ever spoke their language. They could already speak mine, and since we were working at an English language school, that was all that mattered, apparently. They thought it was cute that I was making an effort, but would giggle behind their hands whenever I tried to say anything more complicated than "hello". This was not Learning in the Trust Tree, and mocking is never an effective teaching tool, believe me.


I learned Survival Korean instead. Survival Korean, for me, consisted of taxi directions from the bars back to my apartment (so I also spoke Drunk Korean), food ordering, and currency and numbers - for shopping. The Koreans have three different ways of counting - so that part was actually kind of an accomplishment.

And to round out my education, my Korean students also taught me two phrases to assist me on the Subway:

Hajima - "Stop it"

Nonun aju bodishi upda - "You are very rude"

I'm totally bilingual.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Speaking of Africa - Southern Sudan Wildlife


Paul Elkan and J. Michael Fay / National Geographic / WCS
An aerial photograph shows a herd of oryx traveling through Southern Sudan's Boma National Park, as well as the shadow of the Wildlife Conservation Society airplane tracking the animals.
Click here for story:
GREAT stuff, except for the final paragraph which reads:
"Because of the peace accord, Southern Sudan is a geographically and politically region from northern Sudan, where the tumultuous Darfur region is located."
Does that sound wrong to anyone else? "...a geographically and politically region..."? I confuse.

I'm Bi-Lingual!

My Blog Archive is, for some reason, listing the months in French. This makes me look bi-lingual and cosmopolitan! But, again, I only speak Junior High French, and have failed miserably at the upkeep of my Central/South American-language-program Spanish. So I'm really just uni-lingual, and only cosmopolitan if I'm wearing fancy shoes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Haters

Don't be hatin'!

The Vanity Fair Africa issue has brought out the haters. I've been reading blogs about it, and some of the comments just make me want to start slapping. Slapping isn't nice, but neither are some of the comments. Now, for this example, I had to poach a comment from someone else's blog, as there are only 5 people who read mine - two of whom are my parents, and my dad is too confused by the internet to post his comments.

From http://spicyshoes.blogspot.com/ Anonymous (of course) said:

"I am so sick of these celebrities screaming from the covers of magazines about how special they are, and how they are going to save Africa. Well, good for them….but really, how does a photographer flying around the world shooting celebrities for a magazine that will not be seen by a majority of Africans going to help them? Is the west as a whole and rich nations specifically supposed to keep pumping money to Africa? How about Africa taking a stand against corruption, war, violence, and saving itself. How about stopping all its wealth flowing out into the west (diamonds, gold, oil) and keeping it for the people and stemming the flow of billions into the pockets of the greedy corrupt dictators and warlords. How about that, Mr. Bono?"

Buh and Pfft. How about this Mr. Anonymous: do you think it might be a step in the right direction for Vanity Fair to appeal to it's typically wealthy, well-educated audience, and possibly try to shed some light on issues that may not have enough attention? Mr. Anonymous, please tell us what you love; tell us what you want to promote, tell us what makes you happy. Take off those cranky-pants. I will paraphrase Anonymous with my own whining: wannnhh wanhhh I am so sick of these anonymous commentors, wannhh, screaming from behind the safe shelter of cyberspace, waaannnhh, about how much they hate this or that, waannhh and how everyone else is doing it wrong.

Do they have useful suggestions? No. Do they offer charitable assistance? No. Do they get on my nerves? Yes. And that makes ME a Hater. I'm a Hater-Hater. And the more energy I devote to complaining about them, the less energy I have for the really important things...


Like art:

And Music:


And literature:
And my current love affair:

Wow, I'm in a better mood already. Now, haters, your turn. Dig deep (preferably deeper than just wanting to talk about shoes, you shallow half-wits), and think about 3 things that you love, that make you giddily happy. If you can't think of 3, see Julia's blog: http://3for365.blogspot.com/ (one of these days I'm going to get techy, and figure out how to do links without typing them out like that, but for now, this is what we are working with). Now, focus on those things. Is it a book you've read? Is it a movie that made you laugh? Is it your kids? Is it a friendship? Is it a memory of a trip you've taken? Come on, there must be something. Or, if you can't think of positive things to focus on, try coming up with an idea that solves the problems you enjoy complaining about.
Here is an example: I have been complaining about the haters, um, complaining. Is there something I could do to solve the hater-problem...hmmm...stop people from spreading their negativity...hmmm...how about ice cream?

Sheesh, with all that energy I wasted on hatin the haters, I could have been telling you about the new Haagen Dazs Light ice cream that is 1/2 the fat, but STILL all natural. And THAT is something to love.
Except that I hate Cherry Fudge Truffle. I just couldn't find a photo of the Dulce de Leche. Those damned Vanity Fair celebrities are just trying to promote the Cherry Fudge Truffle, since it is RED, and matches their GAP ad campaign!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Vanity Fair goes to Africa

My July issue of Vanity Fair arrived today - just in time to balance out the ridiculousness of the inTouch issue that I just had to buy to see photos of celebrities without their make-up on. My issue had George Clooney & Oprah on the cover, and no offense to the dashing Mr. Clooney & monstrously influential Ms. Winfrey, but I wanted this one:


Two of my FAVORITE people - as in, when people ask that "who are three famous people you would have to a dinner party, blah blah" - Chris Rock and Warren Buffett would be two of my dream guests. The third would be one of those girls from "Sunset Tan". Just kidding. I LOVE Warren Buffett, for his down-home Nebraska sensibilities, which practically eclipse his explosive wealth (2nd wealthiest in the world, and lives fairly simply in Omaha, and no I'm not stalking him, but isn't he adorable?) And Chris Rock just makes the world a funnier place to be. I freely admit that I paged through the issue, setting mental reminders to go back and read the serious stuff later, but stopped and read Rock's "The Ugly African-American" (page 152). Everything in my life needs to be tempered with a little humor. Humor makes the other crap bearable. Thank you Chris Rock!

I have been saying, for the past 6 years, that if I ever get married (I know, I know, I'm supposed to be saying "WHEN", "WHEN I get married"), I want to go on my honeymoon in South Africa. I got to spend 4 days in and around Cape Town in March 2001, and just lu-huuuuved it. What a fantastic place: gorgeous coastline, great hiking, stunning wine country, it has everything. This Africa issue brings me back to the contradictions there. I am skillfully adept at shining my Miss Mary Sunshine rays on the treasure chest full of dubloons, and avoiding the decrepit skeletons that litter the surrounding space of the metaphorical cave, (and no, I haven't seen the 3rd Pirates of the Caribbean movie yet). Sunshine and lollipops dammit! Shoe-shopping and ice cream parties! Puppies! Pizza! Movies! Red Carpet Fashions!

This issue had it's intended impact, in that it highlighted the fact that the world is in crisis, and I am sitting in my living room, snickering at photos of the unbelievably spoiled Paris Hilton sobbing in the back seat of a car. I'm going to go register and donate here (as long as I'm going to be shopping...):

http://www.joinred.com/register/

So that I can still feel okay about enjoying this:

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Enough about Travel - this is awesome:

My newfound guilty pleasure:


Havana

When you are unable to travel to far-away places, you should just select bars and restaurants in your town that are named after far-away places. That way, when you're telling someone what you did on Saturday night, you can say stuff like "Oh, I went to Havana".

What did I do Saturday night? Oh, I went to Havana.
I've also been to the actual city of Havana,
and the two experiences were surprisingly similar.



Havana the city: kind of a challenge to get to from the U.S.
Havana the club: kind of a challenge to find from the street.
********************
Havana the city: I had to go through customs and show my passport.

Havana the club: I had to go through the door and show my driver's license.
********************
Havana the city: They served mojitos.


Havana the club: They served mojitos.
********************
Havana the city: the U.S. dollar was widely accepted.
Havana the club: many U.S. dollars were accepted.
********************
Havana the city: since my Spanish is halting, communicating was slightly difficult. Que?
Havana the club: since the music was so loud, communicating was very difficult. What?
********************
Havana the city: there was dancing.
Havana the club: there was dancing after several mojitos.


Havana the city: Walking around the streets of Havana afforded ample opportunity to photograph the local life, like groups of schoolchildren.

Havana the club: Hanging out on the dancefloor of Havana afforded ample opportunity to photograph my friends, acting like schoolchildren.

Next weekend I might go to Kabul, or Bombay, or Kyoto.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

TravelGretta - 007. Or 00something

I was feeling very uninspired today - mainly due to the 58 and drizzly "June" weather. I'm going to continue to tell people that it is ALLEGEDLY June. Anyway, when I'm bored and uninspired, I like to browse some of my favorite blogs, or other sites, for entertainment. Martha Kimes site - www.TheRandomMuse.com is one I love. She is hilarious. And today she was blocked, and posted a big photo of a giraffe. So I'll talk about my stealth mission in Africa.

On the Semester at Sea ship, the next port-of-call was Kenya. Being a Very Important member of the travel office on the ship ("very important" meaning "one of three people"), I was occasionally called upon for Very Important Assignments. Well, not really, except that this one actually was pretty important. I was the assigned trip leader for a 5-day safari in Tanzania, and since we were docking in Kenya, this meant a big, fun border crossing for the 50 of us who were going to Tanzania.

I was told that I would be the first one off the ship, when we docked, and would be saddled up with 50 United States passports for a little drive to the Kenya/Tanzania border. The rest of the group would be several hours behind me. They wanted to make sure all the passports were stamped and ready to go when the group arrived.

"Whaaasssat?" Erm, that sounds, um...fine and all...and not at all dangerous? But whatever, the program wouldn't have me doing anything dangerous...

I'm glad I didn't think about it too much.

So I disembarked the ship with a big bag o' passports, and climbed into a van with Patrick, the Kenyan guide who was part of the tour operator we worked with, and another Kenyan driver. They were nice - I felt fine and safe - I took a nap.

I was jolted awake by one of the bumps on the dirt road we were on, looked out my window and saw a giant giraffe slowly moseying along through the brush. Grinning like a total idiot, I tried not to squeal, as the Kenyan driver and guide would most likely not share my enthusiasm. The same way I would probably not appreciate their squeals, had I been driving them through my neighborhood and passed a squirrel holding an acorn. It's all about perspective. So I giddily passed the next hour just watching the scenery pass by, sans the squealing.



The border ordeal, rather than eliciting delighted squeals, brought forth a great deal of eye-rolling on my part. Patrick, while nice enough, was not the brightest of fellows, and also not terribly assertive. The border official was a ridiculous charicature of someone in one of those Sigourney Weaver/gorillas in the mist-type movies. He took himself way too seriously, which was not a good match for me, as I barely take anything seriously. I couldn't understand what they were saying, but I got the basic gist of it, and the border official probably wanted a bribe from Patrick, who was kow-towing and making a complete kiss-ass of himself. What is Swahili for "suck up"? That is probably just how it's done there, but it was annoying. I sat on a small wooden chair for a good hour, watching Patrick make quick little bows, and subservient hand gestures, while the border official sat, with arms folded, and mouth pursed, shaking his head every 5 minutes or so. As a female, I was very unimportant, and therefore ignored. Which was good, since eye-rolling is pretty much a universal sign of distaste and annoyance, and had Border Official looked in my direction, I may have added another universal sign of distaste and annoyance. My own hand gesture, if you will.

Every once in a while, I'd interrupt Patrick's "pretty please" dance with a "WHAT IS HE SAYING?", and Patrick would turn around and shake both open palms at me. If I'd been in the mood, I may have joined him in the palm-wagging and turned it into Tanzania Border Dance Party, just for a diversion, but I was getting hungry and cranky and had to use the bathroom.

The rest of the group arrived and we STILL had to wait another half hour, while Patrick must have been modifying his dance - possibly to include some "special man-favors", but I'm really speculating at this point.

We finally managed to get through the border and into Tanzania, which is one of the most spectacularly beautiful countries. The colors all just seemed so sharp: the blue sky, the green grass, the black skin of the Masai tribe, and the bright red of their shawls. Truly stunning. We weren't allowed to photograph the Masai, as the Masai believe that having their photograph taken allows their souls to be stolen.


There may be some truth to that...

So I just have a mental picture of two beautiful Masai women, wearing the shawls, walking along the road with their little munchkins strapped to their backs. They heard the safari truck coming and both turned around to look, in unison. I was like "OH there's the shot". Mental click.

I was, however, permitted to photograph the many, many, many giraffes that we saw over the next 4 days. We all had so many photos of giraffes, that we got to the point of pooh-poohing when someone said "Hey - giraffe!" Whatever. They're as common as squirrels there.

Anywhere but Here

It is June. June should mean 80 degrees, birds chirping, butterflies flitting around. Right now it is 58 degrees, and drizzly. 58 degrees and drizzly is not June. Hmph.

Other places I would like to be right now:

The Dalmatian Coast of Croatia

Or

BelizeOr

Greece

Or

Hawaii


I have never been to any of these places, and want to go. Right now. 58 and drizzly. Pfft.

Monday, June 4, 2007

My Next Trip! Er...Portland...


My parents live in Portland. My sister and her fiancee live in Portland. I drive down to Portland roughly once every three months. Ergo: not a vacation destination.


However, Kerry has corraled our girls for a Girlie Weekend right after the 4th of July. At a charity auction, Kerry bid on a Portland Weekend Extravaganza. If you've ever been to Portland, you'll know that "extravaganza" is a slight misnomer. It is a beautiful city, but vibrant, exciting? Notsomuch. If it helps you to understand where I'm coming from, Gus Van Sant is frequently associated with Portland. Who saw "Drugstore Cowboy"? But it IS very close to Seattle, and it's nice to get out of town with the girls, and spend some time in a different city. Even if that city has precisely the same crappy weather that your city has.



The offer for the free hotel room was quickly snatched up by the vultur...Card, Sally and Alissa. So I ask my mom if it's okay if me, Hi Five and Allison stay at the house for that weekend. "SURE!" she replies, with the genuine enthusiasm of a doting, loving mother.



Relieved that we will have a free place to stay for the weekend, I then confirm with Kerry that we'll be in Portland for the festivities.

So I'm in Portland over Memorial Day Weekend (like I said, once every three months), and in the middle of a tantalizing mouthful of Nut Loaf Dinner (my vegetarian sister was also visiting), my mom says "Oh, by the way, Ellie and Pete might have to stay here that same weekend, so you can't". Ellie and Pete are my sister & her fiancee who live in Portland.

"What?"

"Well, they have to be out of their house by July 6th, for the new buyers to move in". Um hmmm. I see. "But you already told me that my friends and I could stay here".

"I know, but that was before I knew that Ellie and Pete would need to stay - do YOU want to pay for their hotel room?" Erm, well, no, but now I am going to have to pay for MY OWN hotel room, so what is the difference exactly...I mean other than the fact that I am very clearly not the favorite here?

I, like anyone else when faced with an ethical dilemma, revert to the tried and tested behavior of grade school.

"I asked first, and that should be all there is to it." I say this to no one in particular, and no one in particular hears me as I am back at my apartment, complaining, loudly, to myself.

I understand, now, that every favor granted will only be valid, as long as Ellie doesn't need the exact same favor at the same time.

It's a little like requesting a table at the Ivy in L.A.


Guess which one I am in this scenario.

So I am taking a vacation in Portland. Where I go every three months. But this time I actually have to PAY for lodging there.

Although, it will be with my fun girls, and we will not be eating Nut Loaf.


Sunday, June 3, 2007

Take me out to the Ballgame

Today, I took a virtual trip to Chicago, courtesy of TBS. The Atlanta Braves were playing my Cubbies at Wrigley.

I spent a homesick afternoon wishing I could be at the ballpark, cultivating a sunburn and a Bud Light buzz, but instead sitting in my living room having to listen to TBS sports commentators wax philosophical about Sonic Root Beer Floats...

Joe: I think those might just be the best root beer floats - in the world.

Chip: Well...we haven't tried the root beer floats in, uh, Ethiopia yet...

Joe: Um...well, I don't know about Ethiopian root beer floats...I was thinking more of maybe, compared to Des Moines...

Chip: Well, you SAID "in the world"

Joe: Oh. Yeah.

I am not making this up. One of them also commented, when Ryan Theriot was at the plate: "that's a good-looking ball player". I could do their job. I DO their job, from the comfort of my living room. SADLY, the one of the announcers is none other than Chip Caray - grandson to our beloved Harry.

Harry Caray is undoubtedly rolling over in his grave. Not only in reaction to the root beer float dialogue, but also in order to reach for the cup of ACTUAL beer (Budweiser) that he was buried with.

Harry, we miss you! I love Wrigley Field. I love that the scoreboard is still manually-operated. I love that the stadium music is all-organ - that is almost as good as all-cowbell. I love that there is actually a rivalry between the Left Field and Right Field bleachers.

Right Field does Suck, and another thing that sucks is that, when you have to watch the games on TBS, the Braves are always the preferred team, and you have to listen to the less-inspired, sober Caray's saying things like "well, it's a tough day out there - the Cubs are up 9 runs in the top of the 6th". I should maybe just mute the TV, but then I can't hear the fans cheering. All the more incentive for me to get a plane ticket to O'Hare, hitch a ride down to Clark & Addison, and get out to Left.