May 29, 2007

I Was So Close to Hell, I Could See Sparks!

Yeeeeeeeeehaw!!! I'm so glad to be back!

I spent the better portion of last week out of town for work, and by out of town, I mean out of touch. Literally. I spent 4 days discovering what the greater Northern Nevada area had to offer and I have come to the conclusion that it includes alot of desert, rocks, radio stations that play the karaoke version of songs, and plenty of franchised dining establishments . And did you know in Nevada semi-trucks can pull more than one trailer? Sweet Jesus there is nothing scarier than being passed on the 395 when you are going 70 mph by a semi that is pulling like 3 giant trailers!!!! They have like 72-wheelers up there...sheesh!

Anyway, along with discovering ALL. THE. SIGHTS. that Reno, Carson City, Garndernville, Minden, Fallon, Fernley, Yerington, and Sparks had to offer, I discovered a fellow Woodcock. He was a nice gentlement who coincidentally worked down at Sips, the coffee shop inside the Silver Legacy. Actually the first morning I was there I couldn't really sleep so I stumbled groggily down to the espresso bar in my sweats and ponytail at like 5am, and halfway through the transaction the gentleman who was helping me looked up very seriously and said "Whoa! That's amazing!" and then he just kept staring at me. Actually, you know what, now that I am replaying it in my mind I think had I been more awake I might have been creeped out a little, but since I was still on auto-pilot I just said "huh?" and continued to look very perplexed. He responded in a somewhat hypnotic voice saying, "Your name is my name. My name is your name." And it took me a minute to get it, lucky for me he just kept repeating it....kind of like the way that Grover does on Sesame Street when he is explaining "Near" and "Far" but not quite so cartoon Louis Armstrong-ish, ya know? By the way I just stopped typing and did an impromptu google search in hopes of finding a You Tube clip of that skit for the sake of nostalgia, and not only did I not find it (I think I have finally stumbled upon the only thing thing that CAN'T be found on You Tube - boo!), but I also think I stumbled upon a very sick cross section of adult Grover fan-sites that are so seriously disturbing I almost deleted the entire reference.

Regardless, I'm getting off topic, the point of this story is that I met another Woodcock, and it was kind of cool -- and kind of weird all at the same time. Actually it wasn't that weird until he asked me if I was Mormon, to which I responded "Oh no, I dodged that bullet" and then immediately realized why it is that people shouldn't make jokes before they've had caffeine. But lucky for me he didn't hold it against me really, and for the next 3 days he treated me like we were family, which was kinda cool when you are on a lonely business trip. I mean it's isn't everyday that I meet another person who must have also been tortured with woodpecker jokes in his youth until his peers got old enough to start thinking pornographic jokes were even funnier, right?

May 17, 2007

You could always just say you feel sick...

I am constantly trying to talk to Garrett about the idea that language itself is a barrier when it comes to the way that all people communicate. Isn't that such a fascinating idea? I mean, what you say to me, may not be what you actually mean, and how I interpret it can be affected by the words you choose? HUH! That is such a fascinating idea to me! But I guess I sort of wore out my welcome philosophising about it, because now when I go off on a little tangents to Garrett, he gives me a cute smile and nod and says, "yeah, yeah, babe, I know. Its the 'barrier of language'." (In his defense, I practice my own smile and nod when he talks to me about the Fed).

Most of the time I'm pretty sure he thinks that my fascination with Structuralist philosophies and linguistics are totally over the top, and in all honesty I will be the first to admit that the amount of Saussure and Derrida that I have happily devoured while laying on my bed is not your mama's Danielle Steel -- but I can't help it -- I am fascinated by the ideas of how we derive meaning from language.

Now before you go thinking that I am a pompous idiot, and assume I am trying to spit you some amateur philosophy, let me assure you first that I don't spit (ew! gross!) and second that is totally not the point of this post. I mean, I read books with Hot Pink Covers all the time, and happily admit to doing so, so that should eliminate any smugness right there. Actually, the point of this post is that when you spend alot of time thinking about words, aside from really obliterating the possibility of having a normal social life, you can also have ALOT of fun! YAY! FUN! Repeat after me -- words are fun! Ok nevermind, I guess I'm just going to do my part to cliffs notes a little funny and common word slaughter (Ok, somebody call the dork's getting dire in here).

For instance:

Did you know that the word nauseous is an adjective?
[adjective: a word describing a person, place, or thing (commonly know as a noun)].
Yes, that's right, NAUSEOUS is a descriptive word that means "causing nausea".

On the other hand, did you know that the word nauseated is a verb? [verb: a word expressing action or occurence] And when used without an object (don't worry about that part, I won't even elaborate), it means "to become affected with nausea".

So what does all this grammatic inundation mean to you, you say?
Well, its simple really. Anytime you say "I feel so nauseous right now" you are inadvertantly letting your conversational partner know that you are currently causing nausea. That's right, you are saying that YOU are making other people sick. Instead, my word obsession and I are going to suggest saying "I feel so nauseated right now," because this more clearly communicates the fact that you have become affected by a sick feeling.

Now, does anyone care about this besides myself and of course my dear friend Sarah (hi Sarah!) who has chatted with me about this fact on numerous occasions? Probably not. But I'm putting it out there for what it's worth, and to also give you the same smug chuckle that I get when I hear someone misusing it.

That's right, the next time your annoying co-worker (you know, the one who is always feigning illness and begging for sympathy or just being lazy) tells you they are "really nauseous" you can look at them empathetically and say "WOW, YOU REALLY ARE!"

May 15, 2007

Restaurant Rules

Whenever I go out to eat I try to follow a few simple rules, whether it is some fancy schmancy restaurant, or whether it's just the Olive Garden. Wait, who am I kidding, I don't eat at Olive Garden. Ok, Ok, whether it's fancy, or whether it's Hot Rods on a rowdy Friday night:

1. Order something you wouldn't make at home.
Now I don't religiously follow this, obviously, because I do cook a lot at home, but for the most part I think that if you have to go through the inconvenience of finding parking, waiting to be seated/waiting in line, and waiting to pay, I think the end result should be something fun, or new, or full of expensive ingredients I don't have in my pantry. I mean otherwise, really what's the point? Why go through all the hassle to pay someone else to chop your lettuce for you? Unless of course that lettuce is covered with Gorgonzola Vinaigrette from Jack's Urban Eats, which -- MY GOD -- can somebody get me that recipe? Mmm, it's delish!

2. Don't bite the hand that feeds you.
After working in a coffee shop for years, it never ceased to amaze me how rude people could be to those handling their food. Didn't they realize that the only thing standing in the way of their delicious handcrafted beverage, and a passable-but-seriously-tampered-with concoction that just looked liked a delicious handcrafted beverage, was the way they treated the person behind the counter? I'm not saying everyone should have kissed my feet, but it sort of went without saying that if you were a jerk, instead of typing your name above your drink when I took your order, I typed BGD (Bitch Gets Decaf). Here's your $4 afternoon pick me up, dick! (said with a smile, of course). Now certainly, everyone is not as spiteful as I was after working in retail for almost 9 years, but just in case, I'm quite nice to my food server, even if my order does come out wrong.

3. Oh yeah, and be a good tipper. Enough Said.

4. If I hate it -- I give it one more chance -- then if I still hate it, I just don't go back.
But seriously, there is nothing worse than someone going off on a blanket tirade about how terrible some restaurant is when they have only been there one time. Maybe it was an off night? Chefs are human. Maybe you didn't order their best dish? Maybe their concept just isn't for you? But might I suggest trying it one more time, and seeing how it goes? If you continue to dislike it, fine. Go ahead and scratch that off your list of places to make a Friday night reservation. But for god's sake, whatever you do, don't keep going back there and reiterating to the wait staff how terrible everything they serve is everytime you go there, and how you hope it doesn't happen again this time. Ugh! I'm doing the full body eye roll right this minute. Maybe this is also residual baggage from working at Peet's for way too long, but as far as I'm concerned - if you don't like a restaurant -- DON'T GO THERE. I know, novel concept, eh?

So none of this is rocket science, I suppose, or really revolutionary in any way, but I got to thinking about it while reading this article by Ann Patchett that gives 7 Reasons the Food is Better at Home. I'm all for eating out, but I thought it was cute...and so true! Although unfortunately at my house, there is a man that jumps out of the pantry and offers me dessert when I'm already full. That must be why I still eat it, right?

Do you have any rules when you dine out?

May 11, 2007

Hot Shots

I almost don't even know where to begin.

Last night began in a most innocuous fashion. Garrett and I were getting together with Jeremy and Hilary to have some drinks and play some pool because, heck -- it was almost Friday -- which in my opinion demands a weekly celebration, and besides we always have so much damn fun with them! Do you have those kind of friends? You know, the ones who you could call on a Friday night if you wanted to have an evening of intelligent conversation over a glass of Cabernet, but who you could also call the following night and invite over to have a pitcher of PBR and spend the whole night telling fart jokes and listening to New Edition all the while waxing philosophical about American Idol? God, I love those kinds of friends! They're just so great! And Jeremy and Hilary seriously live up to that kinda hype, so consequently we force them to hang out with us as much as humanly possible.

(By the way, if you guys are reading this, sorry I just outed you guys for liking fart jokes. Or PBR. Whichever is more offensive.)

Anyway, a week or two earlier they had discovered this dive by their house that advertised pool and "entertainment", and since Garrett and I had just recently brushed up on our billiards at the Lost Coast Brewery last weekend, we thought it would be fun to exercise our mediocre pool skills, and of course our very above average shit talking skills. So we get to this place, and despite the fact that it is in a strip mall, and all patrons are required to screw in their own lightbulbs over the table if they want an illuminated game, it looked like it was going to be a pretty fun time. I mean they sold Hot Pockets and Costco Chicken Bakes at the snack bar, for god's sake, nothing says "classy" like meaty, cheesy, bready pouches of saturated fat -- frozen in single servings for your convenience.

So being that it was relatively early, it seemed we had our pick of the pool tables. Unfortunately though, we were informed that the table that we had chosen was unavailable because shortly it would be used as the karaoke stage. That's right, KARAOKE. STAGE. Ohmagod, this night was about to get even better. So Hilary and I blew a fiver at the juke box playing some clutch "oldies" like November Rain (how much do I miss Guns'n'Roses?) and some LL Cool J from his days of better judgment (LL, seriously? A duet with J.Lo? What were you thinking?) and we all just generally enjoyed each others company and the frosty beer mugs for a good hour. And then, dear reader, the craziness began.

So somewhere in that timespan, a young lady (and by the way I'm using that term loosely) arrived wearing quite the striking ensemble which consisted of a denim ultra-mini-skirt and a turquoise ruffley tube top. Now, as we all know it's getting hot out, and I realize that when this happens, inevitably the "night-out-on-the-town" outfits get smaller and smaller. That being said, I feel fairly safe asserting that if your gross body weight exceeds 400 lbs, a mini-skirt and tube combo is not the most flattering of options. I think you would agree with me, no? Now I'm not one to hate on the voluptuous figures, being that my own definitely doesn't qualify me for any Miss Fitness USA contests, but come on...use some common sense! Needless to say she was attracting quite a bit of attention, and I think she was kind of liking it. This only increased when she decided to kickoff the night of karaoke by doing her rendition of Adina Howard's vulgar 90s hit "Freak Like Me", to which the bartender promptly responded to by letting us know that it would take a lot more than "a roughneck brother" to satisfy her. Fret not though, because she immediately followed up this assertion of freakiness by escorting a gentleman friend (whose status as a "roughneck brother" had yet to be determined, for the record) into the single stall bathrooms right next to our pool table. And to think we were initially bummed that our first choice table was being turned into karaoke headquarters. Huh.

So while our lady and gentleman friends were busy in the loo doing -- well, whatever it is people do inside public bathrooms at pool halls that sell Hot Pockets -- the karaoke continued. We were treated to a cheeky rendition of the Commodores uber-smash "Night Shift", and something else fairly unmemorable before Hilary finally decided to get up and basically show everyone who was boss by singing "What a Feeling!". By this time, lady and gentleman had left the bathroom (and fairly quickly I might add, for what its worth) and were chasing each other around swearing. I wasn't really sure how to interpret that, except to maybe assume that their idea of a pre-party had involved prescription drugs mixed with some milder form of PCP, but at that point I was kind of bored with them and had moved onto being fascinated by the MIDGET. SINGING. JANIS. JOPLIN.

You think I'm joking.

I almost wish I was.

But alas, there she sang in all her 4 feet of glory, and it was at that point that I had a major realization. Up until that exact moment, it had never occured to me that a good karaoke singer must not only have the hard to find combination of drunken fearlessness, great pipes, and a lively stage presence -- but that on top of all that, a major factor that apparently lends itself to awe-inspiring performances (or not for that matter) is LITERACY! I mean really, who knew? It was a lightbulb moment for me, kinda like when I was 18 and went away to college and I realized that when you live alone and you leave dishes in the sink, no one does them for you. Profound, I tell you. So later on in the evening the midget again practiced her phonics skills to the beat of Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart", and while I would say that it was by far her best performance of the night, I wasn't quite comfortable betting that she could read the streets signs outside, or find her way home without a chaperone.

Aside from all the horrid singing, or rather the "kinda pitchy" vocals that would have made Randy Jackson shake his head and say "I don't know, dawg" we were treated to a few gems of the country persuation when a delightful young whippersnapper belted out Reba McIntyre's "The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia", but then she had to ruin it when she got up with all her drunk friends and sang AfroMan's "Because I Got High", which, although a revolutionary anthem for some segment of the population, I'm sure, is just kinda boring to watch drunk co-eds sing.

Meanwhile back at the bathroom, our lady and gentleman had reconvened. I think they were maybe going back there to hold hands and tell Bible stories or something, but they were rudely interupted by another woman opening the bathroom door that [shocker] they had forgotten to lock. I think they were right in the middle of talking about the serpent and the tree of knowledge, but I can't be sure. Unfortunately for our gentleman friend, his pants were sadly around his ankles, and something about the gust of fresh air had knocked some sense into our lady friend, and she was out the door. Slowly and lamely, the gentleman pulled up his pants and grabbed his belongings that he had temporarily been storing on the FLOOR OF THE PUBLIC BATHROOM -- and then quickly he rushed off to find his Princess Charming, who had run outside to answer a very pressing cell phone call and sip on a Smirnoff Raspberry Ice (give the girl a break, she was probably thirsty after all that "storytelling"). Oh, and did I mention that as he walked by, the gentleman accidentally dropped his boxer shorts right at Garrett's feet as he was taking a shot? I'd like to think he was leaving as a good luck charm, or as some cheer of male-billiard-solidarity, but alas I think I might have just been seeing the situation through rose colored glasses.

Basically the night was all around awesome. It was the kind of night you couldn't script, because no one would believe it actually happened. Especially at the end, when Jeremy ceremoniously sank the 8-ball at the exact moment that Slash's guitar riff ended "Welcome to the Jungle". Just too much fun! And I decided after last night, if every Thursday has the potential to be full of this much mid-week madness, I might just start acquiring a taste for Hot Pockets.

May 09, 2007

You Are What You Drink

I know, I know -- I'm an ass! :) You thought it was funny for a second though, right???

May 02, 2007


Don't you just love when that category comes up on Jeopardy? It just makes me feel excited like I have a chance. You know, don't you tally up the possibilities at the beginning of the show when Alex Trebek reads off all the category names? "British Literature"(check!) "Chemistry" (mmm...maybe) "Historical Figures" (I'm out) "U.S. Presidents" (shit!) "Crossword Clues 'L' " (check!) and the final category "Hodgepodge" (wooo hooo...millions of possibilities). No? You don't do that? Hmmm, embarrassed once again, am I. Whatever, well I just love it! And I love the word Hodgepodge. It's a good word. Say it -- Hodgepodge. It just sounds like fun, doesn't it? I like it almost as much as I like "Potent Potables" but that's probably an entirely seperate blog.

Anyway a few random updates:

First, I decided to save you from my whiny conclusions that I came up with while thinking about Kurt Vonnegut. I realize this makes me look like a lazy douche, telling you that I came up with some "deep thoughts", promising them for later, and then sweeping it under the rug only to talk briefly about grammar tees, but seriously, it just got me feeling kinda down -- so I veto'd the whole post. It looked alot like a very wordy version of "Hi self, don't be so hard on yourself. You are nice, self. You work hard, self. Enjoy your life. You have many things to be grateful for." And then it got list-y. It had a lot more melody from the world's smallest violin though, and I really do hate it when I get caught up in those feeling sorry for myself moments. It's boring.

Second, Garrett and I went on this crazy, amazing hike up in the Oroville area to Feather Falls. Sweet baby Jesus, that place was beautiful! Now, I'm not really a hiker, but I really wish I was. I so desperately want to be one of those people who goes out and enjoys nature and talks nonchalantly about how easy it is climb rocks, and eat worms, drink water from a rubber bladder (ick!), but alas I'm just really not. It's not that I don't like nature (I love it actually, although my sinuses may tell you a different story) I think it's that my choice of nature-to-love just usually tends to be that of beautiful beaches where I can relax (and perhaps consume a frosty beverage), snow covered mountains that I can see from the window of a quaint cabin while sitting fireside (of course while consuming minty-hot grasshoppers), or kicking back camping in the gorgeous redwoods of Northern California (roasting marshmallows and again consuming a frosty beverage). Basically I tend to enjoy the lazier aspects of the commune with nature. I like to observe nature, not necessarily run right out and get all covered in it!
Now that being said, I am also somewhat of a challenge seeker. My stubbornness definitely lends itself to seeking out things that I don't think I will be able to do in really any arena. I do this solely because I enjoy proving that little voice in my head wrong, and because even at the ripe age of 28 I'm still a fan of sticking my tongue out smugly. Even if only metaphorically. Hence, the Feather Falls adventure.

So Garrett has been wanting to get outside more, and we have both been looking for fun ways to get a little bit more exercise, so when I ran across this article in the Sac Bee, I thought this would be a perfect way to get outside, get a little exercise, and also it would be a great challenge since I'm not really "outdoorsy". I am coincidentally also not the world's most experienced hiker, so traversing about 9 miles of dirt on any given afternoon is just a little out of my comfort zone. BUT -- at the top of this cozy little hike appeared to be some pretty beautiful waterfalls -- or so the Sac Bee promised, so we went! And despite the fact that the Bee had a penchant for leaving out integral parts of the directions, we found it, and hiked up to the top, and was totally worth it! So pretty! The waterfalls, of course, definitely not me when I got to the top. Whoa! Unless of course your version of pretty involves sweaty matted hair, and no makeup -- and you know what, I've seen some of those Vogue pictorals, so maybe on this day Andre Leon Talley would have thought I was pretty, but that's not the point. The point is, the view at the top was spectacular! And it was even spectacular going up and back. I took lots of pretty pictures, and I've been wanting to share, but my version of iPhoto has been behaving a little more dramatically than usual as of late, and I just haven't had the time to feed it some cookies, and rub its belly, and find out what the problem is. But let me tell you...when I do...Touche Vogue!

Thirdly, I'm going on a baby-vacay this weekend and I can't FREAKIN' wait! The fact that I have been juggling multiple projects at work, along with applying for a new position, along with trying to do my regular work, along with trying to, I don't know, HAVE A LIFE -- has caused me to feel a bit overextended. So I am delighted that Monday is Garrett's birthday, and we are taking a long weekend and heading up to the north coast. It is a trip with multiple agendas, but first and foremost we are just getting the heck outta dodge and celebrating! The second agenda is a bit of a sightseeing, nostalgic, somewhat emotional family history tour that I'm really excited to be sharing with Garrett. Alot of my dad's side of the family hails from (and still resides) up in Humboldt County, and last year, the whole gang took a trip up there for a little reunion or sorts. We stayed in Eureka, and enjoyed the town and saw the houses our family members lived in. We dined down by Woodley Island and enjoyed incredible seafood on Humboldt Bay. We hung out in Arcata, saw the Humboldt State campus, and just kind of played tourist a bit. We then revisited the adorable town of Samoa, where my Grandmother grew up, and learned a bit about its history, and her life while living there. Samoa is an incredibly tiny town that was basically established by the Hammond Lumber Company, and just about everyone living there at the time had something to do with it. Such a different time! We got to check out the Mansion (yes, there is only one), the Women's Club, the adorable tiny houses where she lived and where my dad's family lived for a brief time before migrating down to the bay area where most of us kids grew up, and of course, knowing my family, we hit up the Samoa Cookhouse. In the end we headed out to the dunes, to really complete the trip, and that experience was by far the best part. We had gathered as a family to finally lay my grandmother and my father to rest. We scattered their ashes together in a place that was really meaningful to both of them, and now even more meaningful to all of us. It was a really emotional experience, and ever since I have really wanted to take Garrett there and share that part of my life and history with him.

Oh, don't seem so depressed! The family and I also did a lot of other super fun things in the neighboring area of Trinidad (where Garrett and I are actually going to be staying), Patrick's Point, and hit up some breweries and of course another old stomping ground that I also plan to show Garrett. My whole family used to take an annual camping trip up to Richardson's Grove State Park where we would have some crazy good times that I know Garrett is probably tired of hearing about, so I am finally going to get to show him the gigantic redwoods of my childhood, the Old Eel River, and of course dispel the myth of "Elmer!" I truly can't wait, it is going to be such a great trip! And I promise, I will bring home enough milk and cookies to talk some sense into my iPhoto so I can share the good times.



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