Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hiatus...

Hi gang. I have a lot going on these days. Between regular M-Th classes and labs, my Tuesday afternoon volunteer gig, working out at a break-neck pace in an attempt to lose a final few inches/pounds, and finalizing the details of my wedding to DJC (which happens on October 29th), I am struggling to fit it all in. Hate to say it, but blogging is pretty dang far down the list of things that I need to keep up with.

I might pop in periodically, but if I am being honest with myself, things might be pretty quiet around here until mid November. Hope that everyone is doing well and hanging in there. I'll be back eventually. Promise. =)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Next week...

Monday: Crash 10am anatomy class that is completely full and the waiting list closed. Try my best to get in. I don't have a plan B if I cannot get into this class...and I REALLY need to get in.
Squeeze in a workout at some point. I drank so much damn beer this weekend that I totally derailed my wedding diet. At some point, I will need to call the various schools to see where the hell my transcripts are. I paid for the damn rush processing this time and still, they're not arriving.

Tuesday: 8am statistics class. No need to crash this one...I'm already in. Glide volunteering in the afternoon. Squeeze into yoga pants and squeeze in another workout. Bug the people who have offered to write me letters of rec to actually write them and submit them.

Wednesday: Crash the very same anatomy class in hopes that a few spots have opened up. Later in the afternoon, crash the lab. Hopefully, my persistence will pay off and the professor will let me in. Either that, or he'll be so annoyed me and let me in anyways. In the evening, DJC and I are meeting with our officiant to start planning out how our wedding ceremony will go. Chinese food will be consumed, no workout will happen.

Thursday: Statistics again. Hitting the gym in the early afternoon. In the evening, head out to SF for a Glide HIV Services dinner/drinkfest. I will try to stay away from the beer.

Friday: Aaaaah, no classes. The only thing on the schedule is a fun meetup with BT and LOTS of delicious tapas here, and then possibly some dancing.

Saturday: Second appointment with my wedding dress, this time with the shoes. Alterations begin, and I re-commit to my diet. Submit my PA application to CASPA. Cross fingers. Pray.

So, as you can see, I'm BUSY. I apologize for the upcoming lack of posting. Hopefully, things will settle down soon. But probably not until after the wedding in October. UGH!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I. Can't. Breathe.

On Thursday afternoon, the call that I've been anticipating all summer finally came. My wedding dress had arrived in the store and was ready for me to try on.

I immediately went into a bit of a panic. You see, I purchased my dress in December of 2009. Its been a VERY long time since I've seen it, and even longer since I last tried it on. I was nervous, to say the least. What if I no longer liked the style? Or the color? Or, and this was my biggest fear, what if my body size had increased drastically since I was measured back in December? What if the darn thing didn't fit? What if I looked *gulp* fat? AAAH! The anxiety was literally enough to keep me up at night. Like, I would fall asleep and wake not an hour later and just lie in bed totally stressed out.

Nevertheless, I made an appointment for yesterday afternoon, threw my Spanx in my purse, skipped breakfast and lunch and dragged AG with me to the shop. I was excited, and nervous and I had no idea what I was in for, but I knew I wasn't going to go in with a full stomach!

I'm sure those of you that have been through this ordeal are currently nodding your heads in complete understanding. If not, let me be clear....I was *terrified*. I mean, this is THE DRESS. The one I will wear on the day I become Mrs. DJC. To say I was scared was a gross underestimation of what I was feeling. I parked the car, got out to walk towards the shop, and immediately started to sweat. When I saw my dress hanging in the dressing room, my breathing rate and pulse increased. And then I put it on...

I think the lady helping me offered me some water and a chair. Apparently, I looked ill. I certainly felt ill. I stood there taking short, shallow, rapid breaths while she laced up the corset. I felt cold and clammy and hot and dizzy and faint as I tried to hold it all together. The lacing seemed to take WAY too long and I started to believe that something was wrong with the dress. My god, I had gotten fatter, I thought! How can this be?! NOOOO! I felt vaguely nauseated. All my hard work at the gym hadn't paid off at all.

But then, she started to pull. She warned me to hold on before the yanking began, but I didn't really know what she meant. Then I realized she was pulling so hard that I actually couldn't breathe! I panicked for reals this time. But as quickly as it had started, the panic was gone and I could breathe. Everything was OK. She continued working her way down and when she had finally finished, I walked out into the viewing room with all the crazy mirrors.

And you know what? I was (and still am) TOTALLY happy with my dress. Its gorgeous. And thanks to the corset from hell, I actually have a waist and a really nice shape. AG took endless amounts of pictures to send to my mom in Florida. I'm so excited for the big day. There are some pretty extensive alterations that need to happen (because I'm not a 6' tall model), but I think its going to be absolutely lovely...

...and perfect, minus about ten pounds. ;)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Quick recap

Lately, there's been a lot going on. Here's a brief rundown so that all five of you are up to speed...

1. I'm currently taking a SUPER intensive six day medical terminology course. Its essentially an entire semester's worth of work in six days. The class is scheduled to start at 9am. In reality, the professor shows up at 9:15 or 9:25ish, and because people know he's always late, most come at 9:30 or 9:40. What this means is that the professor will wait to start class until everyone is present. While we're all waiting, he leaves the classroom. Generally the class starts everyday at about 9:45am. The professor has been teaching this class for nineteen years and he's decided that its best to give us all of the exam questions ahead of time and let us hunt and pick through the textbook for the answers. During the time while we're working, the professor leaves the room again. What this amounts to is A LOT of sitting around and playing around with my cell phone. Anyone who's taken anatomy or physiology in the last decade can answer most of the questions without looking in the textbook, but hang on, there's a catch. He wants the definitions regurgitated VERBATIM from the textbook on the exam. When I heard this, I just shook my head in disbelief. Combine this class with the English professor who wanted papers written *just so*, this has become the summer of non-learning. Laaaaaaame. Only two days left, though.

2. I bought two pairs of jeans yesterday that are both one size smaller than what I usually wear. WOOT! I owe that to the repetition of RPM and all of the other classes I take, and how many freaking calories I burn!

3. Wedding, wedding, wedding! AAAAAH! Its less than three months away! We're feverishly trying to tie up all the loose ends and figure out all the little details that I never thought I'd have to deal with. Its just nuts. But I'm super excited and will hopefully have a little more motivation to stick to my diet when my dress comes in this month. Its gonna be a good time!!

4. PA school applications are due September 1st. I've been slowly chipping away at it, but I haven't even started on my narrative yet and need to still get my letters of recommendation in order. I'm getting a little nervous about this. I don't have a plan B if I don't get in. But I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

5. I've had a MONSTER cold lately and don't really feel like doing a damn thing. Studying, working, anything...its just not getting done. I can't even find enough energy to cough properly sometimes.

6. The gig at Glide's HIV Services is still going really well. We've recently set up a Facebook page to help spread the word about what we're doing there. If you haven't already visited and become a fan, this is my shameless plug and request to do so. And don't forget to suggest it to your friends (especially if they live in SF, and are MSMs, IDUs or trans-folk). Thanks!!!

Ok, I've got to head out and do something today. I think the laundry is the big winner. Ugh.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I give up! Uncle! Uncle!

Earlier this morning, I turned in my final paper for possibly the most insanely difficult junior college class I've ever taken. My professor has a PhD in literature from a VERY liberal women's college and I swear, the woman could find a rape scene or rape intentions in ANY piece of written work. Here's a million dollar term that might garner some strange looks if you manage to use in conversation: vagina dentata. On day freaking one of summer session English 1B, she dropped the vagina dentata bomb on us. Imagine the looks of sheer terror on the faces of those who are not native English speakers. Pure. Comedy.

This class was ridiculous, though, because of suggestions like this (I know this is a lot to read, but trust me, it'll give you great insight into what I was up against):

Take the following quote from The Merchant of Venice: “…Renowned suitors, and her sunny locks hang on her temples like a golden fleece…” (citation). After the quote, you’d have to explain what “renowned” means. What does it signify? Then you’d unpack the puns. “Locks” means hair and padlocks. We only lock up items that are valuable, but it is also a form of punishment; such as being locked away for life. Lock also suggests unity or a union, as in marriage, such as in the phrase: lip-lock. You’d also have to entertain the word sunny. I’d say that it relates to golden and golden means monetary value and aesthetic value, as in a golden tan. Then we have golden fleece. Gold by itself = wealth and beauty but golden fleece is an allusion to a Greek myth. The golden fleece gives Jason the power of invisibility and he uses this power to kill Medusa, a powerful woman. Medusa can turn men to stone, which is interesting because of the phrase “blinded by beauty.” Instead of being blinded by beauty, one is turned to stone from her ugliness and the hero must triumph over her. Mankind either suffers from woman’s beauty or suffers from her ugliness and thus mankind must be saved.

Oh my GOD, fuck me in the goat-ass! Unpack the puns?! Are you kidding me?! I thought I was a decent writer, but I never stood a chance against this woman. I could take a trillion English classes and never think the way she does. To me, the above "suggestion" qualifies as reading into ONE LINE of a very long play WAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much. She said that if we couldn't get all of that out of one line, we weren't being very sophisticated. If that's the case, I'm as barbaric as they come. Sadly, to get a decent grade on any of the fourteen (yes, fourteen) papers that she had us write in a mere six weeks, you had to think exactly like she did. If she didn't agree with what you wrote, your grade would suffer.

For me, what this lead to was finding abstract inspiration from an episode of Oprah that featured Jessica Simpson, for crying out loud. I also managed to contort and twist and completely mutilate a Dave Matthews song...not surprisingly, she loved these two papers. Also not surprising was that these were the two papers I was the least proud of. I didn't believe in a single word I wrote and felt that I was handing in an absolute pile of shit, and yet she raved about my creativity.

Bottom line here is that I just couldn't win. If I wrote about things that I believed in, I got C's (C's!!). If I vomited baloney onto sheets of paper that lacked any sort of coherent idea, she was pleased, but still not in the mood to hand out an A. I've honestly never had so much trouble figuring out what a professor wanted before! Even when I got my papers back and read through the pages of comments, I still didn't get it...nothing was clarified, nothing was made easier to understand.

With the final paper handed in, I can't do anything but just hope that she sees some improvement in my ability to give her something that she agrees with. Because otherwise, I just earned myself another C in an English class.

I also apologize for the lack of posting around here lately, but Professor Vagina Dentata Rape Scene really killed my desire to write for fun. Now that I'm finished with her class, I will hopefully get back to enjoying the mindless blather that takes place here...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hi honey, how was your day at the office?

Things I never knew existed, but have since learned come in VERY handy during an HIV counseling session at Glide (and because I'm a total demure prude, I'll let you either Google the terms yourself, or ask me in the comments for the definitions):

1. Booty bump
2. Gummy gobbler
3. Gaffle pussy
4. The location of the sole tranny-only needle exchange in the city
5. Banana hand job
6. PNP, JO, DDF, MSM, IDU
7. Bottom or vers
8. Poppers

During a session today, a sex worker said, "My coochie don't do nothin' but make me money." If that's not in a rap song, it needs to be. You got that, Lil' Wayne? She. Was. Comedy.

The things that come up in sessions astonish me sometimes. I swear, I am the prudest, squarest white girl around. I wonder if the people I counsel secretly think I am too square to be doing this (and the funny thing is that I'm not all that square!). Seriously, I have so much to learn.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fat cat on a little fence



Remember Professor Socks and Nitten? Sometimes when we drive by in the mornings, he is sitting on the fence. DJC speculates that it is because the ground is cold and he doesn't like it. Whatever the reason, its hilarious to see such a fat cat balancing on a tiny little fence. His rolls are literally spilling over the sides! I love this cat. The owners probably think I've totally gone nuts...I'm always driving by the house in hopes of catching a glimpse of their spellbindingly fat cat and then stopping to snap a few pics when he is out.

Yeah, I'm definitely heading down that road...

But seriously, how effing cute are these pics?!?!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Phoney Baloney

Dear Chris Brown,

You know that performance at the BET Awards that everyone's talking about from last night? Yeah, that one:


(for those who like MJ, he actually does a pretty cool impersonation...but for everyone else, let the thing load and then skip to about 1:55)

You're full of shit and no one believes that those crocodile tears were genuine. The only thing you're crying about is that you single-handedly destroyed your own career when you beat up Rihanna.

Now, move along. Ain't nobody buyin' what you're sellin', you little whack-ass busta. That's all.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Adventures in literature

Today was the first day of my 7:30am summer class, English 1B. I took English 1A in 1994 during my undergraduate years when I cared only about sleeping, partying, dancing, drinking and springboard diving...in that order. Note that academics didn't even make the top 5. Hence, my grade was an abysmal C+. I completely missed the point of the class and really didn't care to get it, either.

Now, I know that a C+ won't get me too far in the graduate world, nursing or otherwise. So, I awoke WAY before my alarm this morning and rolled begrudgingly out of bed, cursing my lack of academic focus back when I was 18. I made myself a large cup of Starbucks Via (which is actually pretty decent), and headed out the door to rectify my C+. Once I arrived on campus, everything went to hell in a handbag. Quickly.

I couldn't remember where the class was supposed to meet. I tried going to the administration office to look at a class schedule, but they didn't open until 8am. I tried finding the class on my phone, but as much as I LOVE my Palm, the web browser blows. Big time. I wandered aimlessly until the bookstore opened at 7:45 and I was able to figure out where the hell I was supposed to go. I hoofed it over to the portable classrooms, took a seat in the back and tried not to call too much attention to the fact that I was nearly twenty minutes late.

The professor sent us all an email on Saturday that included 29 pages of poetry to review before the first class today. TWENTY NINE pages of poetry. I can think of nothing I would like to read LESS that twenty nine pages of poetry (I will tackle my feelings on poetry in a different post). She also gave us a two page handout of literary terms to be discussed in class. While she was trying to come up with an example of alliteration in rap music, I foolishly raised my hand and offered my two cents, courtesy of Notorious BIG:

"Birthdays was the worst days
Now we sip chamgpagne when we thirstaaaaay"

As soon as I finished, the class became very quiet. Everyone looked at me like I had lobsters coming out of my nose. I turned about nine shades of red and immediately made a mental note to pipe down and not speak again. People began to snicker and the professor said, "We're all really excited about what you just said...on the inside." I've never felt so lame and embarrassed. Ugh.

Later in the class, though, the professor attempted to make up for it by using the Yin Yang Twins lyric "Like Short said, 'Let Bruce Bruce hit it'" as an example of allusion. I felt less lame, but only a little. I mean, at least I quoted a decent hip hop song so I had that going for me, but I still felt like a major idiot.

If today is any indication of how the rest of the summer is going to go, it's gonna be a loooooooong six weeks, ya'll. "Let Bruce Bruce hit it"....eff me.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday celebration

For the past couple weeks, I've been volunteering one day a week at Glide Memorial in their HIV drop-in testing center. I've been shadowing certified HIV counselors so that I can learn the skills necessary to conduct my own counseling sessions once I attend the formal training. Its been an infinitely interesting time thus far. I've learned so much. And I'm genuinely happy to be there and to help out however I can. I haven't felt truly happy about a line of "work" since my athletic training days.

About two weeks ago, the parish pastors came up to the clinic to get HIV tests and take a few pictures that would be shown on the big screen at Celebration (their word for Sunday "mass" or "service"). The idea was to talk about testing and how easy and painless it is in front of the whole congregation...to let everyone know that Glide offers more than a great church experience and a free meal. We would then offer the rapid tests right after Celebration to whomever wanted one. The pastors figured that it would be a good way to show people that the tests aren't scary and that knowing one's HIV status is important.

You see, Glide isn't like any regular church. They don't care what your religious affiliation is, who you share your bed with, if you've had substance abuse issues, if you've got no place to call home, if you've had a shower in the last month, or what gender you identify with. Everyone is welcome with open arms and without judgment. Their message of radical inclusiveness is evident in every program they offer, not just in the church side of things. The message is spiritual and non-denominational. Its really an amazing place.

Anyway, today was the day for the pictures to be shown and for testing. I arrived not knowing what to expect, but was quickly pulled into the positive feeling of the people I spoke with. I attended Celebration, which is the first time I've stepped foot in a church in probably seven or eight years. I'm not exactly what you'd call a church-going kind of gal. But that's probably because I'd never been to this particular church.

Imagine a full band, a choir of about 30 people front and center on the stage and pews packed with smiling faces. Then, the singing started. There was SO. MUCH. SINGING. And clapping. And dancing. And joy...180 degrees from the regimented, terribly stoic Catholic church services I've attended previously. I've honestly never had so much fun at church.

The pastors kept the talking and preaching to a minimum. They'd say a few sentences that were inspiring without being all "Praise Jesus!!", and then the choir, composed of ALL kinds of people, would start again. And then the congregation would stand and the clapping, dancing, and singing would start up again as well. Even though I didn't know the songs, I clapped and shifted my weight from side to side in time with the beat just the same. I'd say more than 75% of the Celebration consisted of singing and dancing.

There were technical issues that prevented the pictures we'd taken previously from being shown, but the director of HIV services conducted a rapid test on one of the pastors stage instead. The Celebration finished with a sermon from a trans-gender pastor and a few announcements from drag queens about the Glide float for next weekend's Pride Parade.

All told, we tested about fifteen people today. But hundreds heard the announcement that Glide offers free confidential testing five days a week. Hopefully, the numbers at the walk-in clinic will increase next week. I shook lots of hands, gave lots of hugs and smiled more than I have in a long time. The positivity was absolutely contagious.

From what I understand, I'm very lucky to have scored a volunteer position here as there are always a TON of people wanting to help. I am also hoping to help out in the medical part of the clinic soon, as the skills I already possess could be put to immediate use with minimal training. We'll see, though. For now, I'm just happy to be there learning and doing whatever I can...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In Living Color

Arvay posed an interesting question today via Gmail chat:

"Why did I say "Homey don't play that" the other day? What does it refer to? I can't even remember. My younger friends had never heard it."

Ummm, that's because younger kids never had the pleasure of watching the AWESOMEST TV show ever, In Living Color. Its really a shame that TV shows like this don't exist anymore. Variety type shows have been replaced by inane reality TV or reality competitions (So You Think You Can Dance and Project Runway excepted) and sitcoms are as lame as they've ever been.

So, younger kids, here's Homey D. Clown in all his glory:



I honestly laughed out loud like five times. This is just as funny today as it was when it originally came out. Love it! Thanks to Arvay for the reminder. Laughing is so much fun and who couldn't use more laughter in their lives?!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Neighborhood cats

I grew up having cats as pets. I loved how my calico cat would curl up on my lap on a rainy day and keep me warm and entertained with her hilarious personality. Alas, DJC is horribly allergic (like, more than you, BT) and can't even stand to be in the same car with a coworker who frequently has cat hair on his clothes. So, the idea of us getting a cat is out. Sad face.

I still love cats, though, and enjoy seeing various cats around the neighborhood. I sometimes take pictures of the felines that I encounter on walks or while driving somewhere. I email them to DJC because he actually likes cats, too...he just can't be around them at all. Anyways, here are some of our favorite neighborhood cats, with the names that we've given them...because we don't actually know their real names. Yes, we're those people....we rename other people's pets.

This is Neighborcat. Today was the first time we'd ever seen him, but he was super cute and meowed a lot. He seemed interested in us, but not enough to come over and allow me to pet him.

This is Paws. He is VERY skittish and doesn't like us, but hangs out in our backyard and under our cars pretty frequently. He has four white paws, hence the name.

We took a different route home today on our walk in hopes of seeing more cats. And we did. This orange one didn't even bother looking at us as we walked by, so there was no chance for me to pet it.

The first time we saw this little guy, he was up on his back paws, reaching up to a girl's hand so that she would continue petting him. We instantly called him Small Jumping Gray Cat. Today, I got to experience the jump for myself. This little guy couldn't get enough and would literally get up on his hind legs to get to my hand. He was so sweet and allowed me to pet him for about five minutes before he had enough and walked away. So sweet...and so like a cat to just walk away on his terms.

We like all of these cats just fine, but our favorites are the tortoiseshell cats that live down the street from the Small Jumping Gray Cat. At first, we only saw the super fat one, but then one day I saw TWO of them!! I had a minor freak-out and immediately stopped to take pictures. The one with the white bib is much smaller, but equally as unique and CUTE! I sometimes fantasize about stealing them. Really. DJC and I will text each other when we've seen them because we adore them so much. We're weird, I know, but just look at how cute they are:

What did we name these little cats? The fat one is Professor Socks and Nitten. Yeah, don't ask because I simply don't have an answer...I was going for Socks and MITTENS and got "nitten" instead. LOL. The name stuck. The smaller one is the white-bibbed nitten. *shrug*


video

Lastly, we have the black and white drooling cat. This friendly gal lives across the street from AG and sometimes I will arrive several minutes early at her house just so I can visit with this cat. If you listen closely, you can hear the purring. The drooling grosses DJC out, but my calico cat used to drool, too. I think its strangely cute.

I miss having a pet but with all these cool cats all over the neighborhood, its almost just as good. Almost...

A minor facelift

Nothing unusual to see here...

Continue to read as infrequently as I decide to post...

That said, hope you like the new look. Go Blogger!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

No comparison



Yes indeed, ya'll...this IS Lady Gaga before she went off the deep end and started channeling the hell out of Madonna and Roisin Murphy. THIS is talent. THIS would have sold plenty of records on its own merits, without all the insane costumes and eccentricity. But people like a spectacle, and Lady Gaga is nothing if not exactly that. Too bad all that musical talent had to fall victim to her image...

P.S. I HATE when people compare her work to Madonna. Madonna did stuff like this. And this:



No one can touch that shit. Lady Gaga is good, but I just finished watching her new video for "Alejandro" (yeah, I put eight whole minutes in!), and she might need to take a different angle. Madonna's schtick was successful because no one had ever done it before. Lady Gaga's vids are a good attempt at originality, but when I can recognize elements from at least four of Madonna's videos, she can't be considered on the same level.

No one can touch Madonna. Period.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Colores

From L to R: Dim Sum Plum, Chopsticking to My Story, the little one is What's With the Cattitude, Jade is the New Black, You Don't Know Jacques. All colors are matte.

BT can attest to the fact that I'm a bona fide nail polish junkie. My dismal academic performance during my sophomore (and possibly my junior) year of college can probably be attributed to my constant nail polishing and grooming. The colors pictured above are some of my spring/summer favorites. I'm currently sporting the green on my both my toes and fingernails. Its very different for me, but kinda cool. Dim Sum Plum is adorable on my toes. You Don't Know Jacques is a little too trendy right now and when more than two people in a day can identify it by name, I'm not likely to be using it too frequently. The green, though...its unexpected and fun.

That's all. No real point to this post. Just wanted to show off some pretty colors on a sunny day...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Minor annoyances

I got an email from my nutrition professor this morning informing me that her Excel program had made an error in calculating my final grade and she only caught it after grades had been submitted. So, instead of the A that I had earned by accumulating the highest scores on three exams and completing the extra credit assignment, my final grade in the LAMEST class I have ever taken is currently a B. NOT OK. She did say that she's working on fixing it with the college administration, but she's also going out of town for the entire summer and knowing how long things generally take to get done at this school, I better stay on top of it. Lovely.

I did manage to nail down an A in pathophysiology, though. And that's nice!

On my volunteer application for Planned Parenthood, I found this question: "What does pro-choice mean to you?" And then, there was literally ONE LINE to tackle that very complex question. Dude, can I attach additional pages? I could write lots about that deceptively simple question. Like the Oxford One-Word Admission essays...except this is one question.

Parents, WHY do some of you purchase the ear piercing squeaky shoes for your special little snowflakes (credit for that goes to Miss Plumcake) and then let them run out of control in a quiet office? Its just mind boggling, really. Look, I'm sure Aiden and Alannah will be JUUUUUUUUUST fine without you having to hear their every little precious step. And if you can't locate your children by sight and have to listen for their squeaky whereabouts, well, you're just not cut out for this whole parent thing.

DJC and I recently watched Food Inc. for the aforementioned nutrition class and I have to say, DAMN, that movie has me a little more than messed up diet-wise. And when I say "diet", I don't mean a reduction of calories or cutting out this or that in hopes of losing weight. Diet, in this case, is simply the things that I eat on a daily basis. Because of that movie (and partially due to my nutrition professor's semi-Nazi stance on minimally processed foods), DJC and I are really re-evaluating what and more importantly, HOW we eat. What does this mean in practical terms? More local, organic veggies from small farms. More farmers' markets. Less red meat. NO fast food (I still love you Taco Bell!). NO foods with HFCS. Knowing where our chicken has come from. More fiber. More natural vitamins and minerals.

I think that everyone should see this movie. Its 100% disturbing but also factual. Food, instead of remaining a source of nourishment for humans, has become a big business controlled by a bunch of mulitnational nightmare corporations who have little to no concern for animals, their own workers and least of all, consumers. I shouldn't have been surprised by anything I saw in this movie, but I really was. I had no idea just how out of hand things have gotten. Yes, getting through the whole movie will suck, but I think everyone needs to see just what's behind what we eat.

I miss you Crunchwrap Supreme...but it's for the best.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bits and bobs

Yesterday, a woman in the bathroom of the downtown SF Hyatt asked me, totally seriously, if I was a plus-sized model. Them's fightin' words, ya'll. Like, srsly. But I brushed it off, because damn it, I DID look good last night. WORD. Today, a lady at the grocery store motioned to me and called me "that skinny bitch over there". Hmmm. Yesterday I was plus-sized. Today, I'm skinny, and apparently, a bitch. Well, at least she got part of it right. I guess whether I'm fat or thin very much depends on geography and the nationality of the person complimenting/insulting me. The lady who thought I was fat was white, and the one who saw me as skinny was African-American. I'm not trying to say anything here, it was just interesting...

Ummm, finals are next week. This week, I have a pathophysiology research paper to start/ finish, a schematic map of a disease process complete with drawings to start/ finish (and for those who didn't know, I can't draw for SHIT!), and a patho take-home final consisting of eleven essay questions to finish. Several of us decided we would split up the questions to make it easier on everyone, but when I read one of my classmate's answers stating that glucose gets converted into fructose in the cell (FRUCTOSE!!! Bloody hell!), I pretty much realized I'd have to do it all myself. Fuck group projects. Ugh. I have so much work to do, I'm scared to even start. Tick tock...

The rings. I picked them up from the jeweler last week. Here they are, complete with my dry, non-moisturized, wrinkly hands:


Not gonna lie, I can't stop thinking about them. When I walk by the box, I take them out, put them on and admire how damn sparkly they are. The fact that I have to wait until October to officially wear them will make it all the more special when DJC finally puts them on my finger. I'd like to think that my grandma would be pleased.

Been across the Bay Bridge lately? The "rumble strips" might be an even lamer idea than the S-curve itself. My god, Cal Trans. EPIC fail on that one!

A friend who sells Boheme wines gave us a bottle of their chardonnay to try in hopes that we might have it at our wedding. I'm not really into chards, but DAMN, this one was really good. We both loved it. Then DJC and I Googled the price. $38/ bottle. No wonder we liked it! Sheesh! That's easily the most expensive bottle of wine we've had all year. Despite the fact that its absolutely delicious, I think its safe to say that we won't be offering this to people who regularly drink Riuinite on Ice (Riunite so nice!) and wouldn't know the difference anyways.

I'm volunteering at Glide Memorial Church in SF these days. So far, I've only met with their clinic director and handed out hygiene kits on one occasion, but I'm hoping that he'll have more for me to do very soon. Its an amazing program!

That's all. Bed is calling. Like, now....

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hilarity lately

Do yourself a favor:

Go to the nearest bookstore, carve out roughly thirty minutes (you'll understand why in a sec), find Chelsea Handler's latest book called Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang and go straight to the chapter entitled "Black on Black Crime".

You'll get through it in less than the allotted thirty minutes, but you'll need that extra time to catch your breath, re-read it and thoroughly appreciate the pictures. Yes, there are pictures. The whole chapter is literally laugh-out-loud hilarious and is possibly the funniest thing I have read in a long time. If there wasn't photographic proof, I might have accused her of making it up. But, it was real. And its incredibly funny.

You can thank me later...when you can breathe again. =)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Wedding Updates

I checked in on my dress today. You know, the dress I ordered back in December. Because DJC and I aren't tying the knot until October, the manufacturer hasn't even begun to make my gorgeous frock. Its due in the store in August. I want to try it on before August, but I totally understand the store not wanting to hold it for months and months. Sigh.

We've got a tasting scheduled at our caterer's on Wednesday. Hells to the Yeah for free food! And damn tasty food at that. Word.

And now, on to the most exciting thing....

My mom recently sent me a package that included two of my grandmother's buttons from her wedding dress (that will be sewn onto my dress) and three rings: one from my maternal grandmother and two from my paternal grandmother, who just recently passed on after 96 years of hilariously ornery one-liners. My aunt had sent them to my mother because she has two sons, both of whom are already married, and had no idea what to do with the rings. My mother gladly accepted them and mailed them over to me, stating that I could probably use the stones to make my own ring.

Well, the band on my maternal grandmother's ring was worn clean through. It was her original engagement ring that she wore for over seventy years. It was delicate and in serious need of some TLC. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it. But my paternal grandmother's rings were a different story. They were both in very good condition and both beautiful. Upon seeing them, I instantly decided that I would have the band of diamonds re-sized and that I would wear it as my wedding band. But, I figured I'd just take the stones from the other ring to use in a custom design. That is, until I spoke with the jewelry maker and owner of 14 Karats in Berkeley.

He convinced me that I would be foolish to destroy the rings for the stones. He said that the ring was unique, ornate, and a very beautiful heirloom. I would regret it if I did anything but have it cleaned up and re-sized so that I could wear both rings together. And after a nanosecond of thought, that's exactly what I am going to do.

I called my aunt today to tell her about my plans. She was so pleased and overwhelmed that she began to cry, which, of course, made me cry, too. She told me that my grandmother had asked that she take good care of her rings after she passed and she was so happy that I would be wearing them. I loved my grandma very much and am very proud to be wearing such memorable pieces as a symbol of my commitment and love for DJC.

As for my maternal grandma's ring, I have decided to have it rebuilt and will give it as a peace offering to my sister. She was pissed about the fact that I got all three rings, so hopefully this will put out the fire. The guys at 14 Karats promised me that they could make the ring look new again. Kerry and his father John were so nice and helpful. They even cleaned up my engagement ring free of charge and offered AG and I cold beer and anything else we wanted from the "bar". DJC loves the idea of a "bar" in a jewelry store...he'll be back to try their scotch soon.

So, that's all on the wedding front for now. We're chugging along. We're both trying to lose weight. We're crossing things off the list. Slowly, it's all getting done and coming together....

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Just another day in paradise

I awoke to a VERY sunny morning today. After discovering that a bird had stepped in mud (where the hell is there mud around here these days?) and then walked his little bird feet all over my car's hood, I knew that I would have to wash the car. No biggie, though. It was gorgeous and warm. I threw on a tank top, and a pair of running shorts and got down to business.

But, the sun felt so good, I didn't want to go inside. So, I laced up my running shoes and went for a walk/run. Thanks to the awesome camera on my new phone, I was able to snap some pretty cool shots across the street from our house:


I was only outside for about an hour and a half total (including the car wash), but the sun was so strong that I still managed to get a pretty decent sunburn. I didn't even think about sunscreen, but now I'm wishing I would have.

Oh well, it was still a lovely day and I'm happy that the sun seems to be here to stay...at least for this week.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, I love you and hate you all at the same time

Yes, this is a picture of a floor. Whoop-dee-doo, right? Well, look a little closer and you'll see why I'm blogging about a floor. Notice any lighter, more clean tiles? Yeah, so do I every time I walk into the room. Here's how it all went down...

In light of all the freaking beer we had in the fridge and to celebrate our neighbors finally moving out, DJC and I invited a few people over last weekend. This meant some serious cleaning ahead of time. DJC spotted some scuff marks on the floor of one of our rooms where people usually congregate. He asked me if the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser could take care of them. I crouched down on the floor and began scrubbing. Sure enough, the scuffs came right up...along with god only knows how many years of dirt and grime. And then, it happened.

Once I saw the clean tiles, I couldn't stop. I scrubbed until my arm was totally fatigued and cleaned up quite a bit of schmutz. But the bad thing is that I eventually did have to stop well before I had a chance to do the whole floor. Reason 1: My arm was literally shaking. Reason 2: I completely used up the entire Magic Eraser. Reason 3: People were due any minute.

Now, our floor looks splotchier than Michael Jackson's once-black skin and face (forgive me, MJ!). I recently brought home six Magic Erasers to finish the job. I figure if I can knock out several tiles at a time over a period of a few days, I won't get burned out. But, it does have to happen. The splotchiness is killin' me! Thanks, Magic Eraser. Thanks a pantload.

My life these days

Get out of bed, despite how nice and warm I am. Drag self to the gym on Monday and Wednesday mornings. Drag self to nutrition and pathophysiology classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, despite the fact that the nursing schools that require these classes have already had their lotteries for their 2010 classes. Guess who didn't get in. Some days, I'll do laundry in the afternoons. Sometimes, I'll go to the gym in the evenings instead of the mornings. Most days, I need to figure out what DJC and I will be eating for dinner. Have hour-long conversation with my mother about cupcake liners, cupcake trays, flower arrangements, invitations and various other wedding things. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Honestly, I just don't have anything to blog about lately. I'm trying to figure out where the hell I'm going to go from here in terms of my schooling. I seriously looked into Heald College's Medical Assistant program, but when I got to the financial aid step, I tromped on the emergency brake. Hard. Even though all of my previous classwork would only make my education commitment 12 months as opposed to 18, I couldn't see shelling out nearly $16K for the possibility of getting myself a $20/hr (max!!) job.

I did look at another school in Berkeley whose program was only 5 months long and roughly $4,500. I spent all of five minutes at this place before bolting for the door. The "admissions counselor" didn't even have an office to take me to, and there were four (count 'em, FOUR) armed security guards at the entrance to the school. The place is located right across the street from Berkeley High School and apparently, they've experienced a few violent crimes inside the school. Great. Clearly, this was not a place that encouraged learning. I was out the door and still had 40 minutes on my parking meter.

Recently, at the urging of a friend in the program, I've started to look into UC Davis's Physician Assistant program. I've previously applied to various other PA programs and didn't even get an interview. My GPA isn't the greatest and PA programs are traditionally very competitive. After my previous disappointment, I ruled this out as an option. But since I've been taking classes towards fulfilling nursing requirements, my GPA has risen a bit. I've been reading about Davis's program and I'm seriously considering giving it a shot. I will have to take three classes this summer (one English class, one math class and I'll have to re-do anatomy because its been more than five years since I last took it), and start volunteering at various free clinics that offer medical services to underserved populations.

I'm going to Glide Memorial Church on Monday to see what I can do there. And I will be volunteering for the Shanti Project in August. I'm really looking forward to actually doing something with my time. And hopefully, my volunteer experience will help set me apart from other PA applicants. Hell, I have all the time in the world right now. I might as well do something worthwhile that may help me in the future.

So, there you have it. This is what I've been up to lately. Boring. So very boring. If you need a nap after reading this or feel asleep in the middle, I totally understand.

Monday, April 19, 2010

In the fridge currently...

5 cans of Moose Drool Brown Ale (Note: Icky name. Decent beer)
2 cans of Ten Fidy Russian Imperial Stout from Oskar Blues
4 cans of Big Swell IPA from Maui Brewing Company
1 can of Siamese Twin Ale from Uncommon Brewers
1 12oz bottle of Aprihop from Dogfish Head
2 12 oz bottle of Mission Street IPA from Trader Joe's.
1 24 oz bottle of Bear Republic XP Pale Ale
1 24 oz bottle of Wilco Tango Foxtrot Ale from Lagunitas
1 24 oz bottle of Green Flash Imperial IPA
Half a bottle of Chalone Vineyard Chardonnay- probably should be thrown out.
Half a bottle of Spinyback Sauvignon Blanc- Ditto here. Didn't even know we had this as it was in the WAY back.

This is after I polished off a 4 pack of Allagash White Ale this weekend and DJC drank various bottles of his swill of choice. Rumor has it that there are at least 12 bottles of Session Black Lager from Full Sail on their way to the fridge later today. Damn ya'll...that's A LOT of alcohol. After I came home from the grocery store today and could barely fit a bag of salad in there, I knew I had to take stock of what was occupying all the space.

And yes, I sat in front of the open fridge while I cataloged its contents and didn't care how much energy I was wasting. My dad would be so disappointed. Hee-hee!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

True life

DJC and I have been sitting on our butts, hour after hour, engrossed in the Life series airing on the Discovery Channel (Careful, the video on the site will play automatically. You can watch all of the episodes there, though, and that's nice.) Animals are so freaking cool, ya'll. Despite the fact that Oprah Winfrey narrates the whole damn thing and the ever-present condescending tone in her voice can be heard even when she's just reading a script, the cinematography is some of the best ever.

In that same amazing vein, check out this video that was brought to my attention by a Facebook friend. This is an awfully curious little critter:



I know that videos don't replace actual content. I've got several new posts in the works, but for now, this should keep all five of you entertained. =)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I bow



All the things I've wanted to say at various times, but have never had the eloquent means to do so. I love this man. Like, lots.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I joined the current century!!

I finally broke down and bought a new phone. It was time. In a sea of uber-connected Twitter, Gmail, and Facebook mobile freaks, I believe I was the lone hold-out. My old phone was good for two things: Making actual phone calls and sending old school text messages. No music. No Youtube. No tweeting. It had a camera, but I can't say I used it all that frequently. I was, as my sister kindly put it, living in the stone age. Not that I was terribly bothered, though. For whatever reason, I just could never pull the trigger on a new smartphone.

But this past weekend, in a drunken, no-neighbors-in-site, euphoric haze, I gave in and upgraded. My carrier, Verizon, offers a "new every two" program, where they give you a $50 credit towards a new phone every two years. I had not upgraded in nearly three years. I checked the available phones online and found that they were offering the Palm Pre Plus for the bargain price of $49.99. With my credit, the phone was free. WOOT! Free is good, especially when you're hesitant to buy a new phone in the first place.

(A tip to Verizon folks...if you're in the market for a new phone, NEVER buy one in the store. Whatever you're looking for is almost always cheaper if you buy online. Verizon sometimes offers ludicrous online discounts of $100 or more for some phones. Yes, the instant gratification of holding new things in your hands is hard to resist, but if you can wait a day to have it shipped overnight, which they'll do for free, its always a better deal to buy online. My new Palm would have set me back $150 even after the discount had I purchased it in-store. You're welcome!)

Anyways, my gorgeous little phone arrived today. Ever since I picked it up, I've been confused. After spending nearly 40 minutes on the phone with customer support trying to get the thing programmed, I then had to set up a Palm profile, and sit through a five minute video demo/intro. There's nothing like outdated technology (and the Palm is outdated already) to make you feel like a total moron! Thank goodness for DJC who has managed to figure out more about my phone's inner workings in 30 minutes than I was able to work out all day. Awesome.

All in all, though, I'm very happy. I've got 16GB of flash memory to fill with all kinds of stuff, a Facebook app, Gmail, Google Maps and a bunch of other cool things to play with. In time, I will get more comfortable and feel less technically inept. Wonder if they have a Blogger app...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Shhhh...you hear that?

That's right...there's nothing to hear! That's because our ass-tastic neighbors have FINALLY moved out. Actually, to be more exact, they were evicted. It only took months and months and MONTHS of complaining from myself, DJC and the landlord's own brother (who lives on the ground floor) to get their disruptive asses out. But no matter...they're finally gone. Holy shit.

At 6:15am yesterday, the ruckus, hooting and hollering began. And I won't lie about wanting to stomp down the stairs and beat some serious fat kid ass. But, in my sleepy haze, I realized what was happening. They were MOVING. They'd recruited everyone in a five mile radius with a crappy, run-down minivan to help and were schlepping their second hand Ikea furniture out in waves. Could this really be happening? I thought it was all a dream. It was WELL before 7am, after all. I might very well have been dreaming. Seeing them haul their possessions out of the house is a dream I've had many times, naturally.

But as I saw them drive the first load of shit away, I realized that yes indeed, they were leaving. HOLY SHIT. But because it was all of 7:30am, I went back to sleep. They came back at least two more times before I got out of bed for good at around 10am (so obviously they're not moving that far away), and then it got really quiet around here. Like the kind of quiet we haven't experienced for over a year and a half. It was totally amazing. Peaceful. Blissful, even.

In light of the human trash dump that was happening downstairs, DJC and I decided that our place could use a little cleaning, too. So we promptly packed up six garbage bags full of old clothes and shoes and dropped them off at the Salvation Army. Then we spent the rest of the day cleaning, de-clutterizing, and organizing. It's quiet AND clean in here. I freaking love it.

Never again will we have to endure the orangutan hooting and body slamming at 7am on a Sunday. Never again will we be subjected to Big-Tobacco's nasty habit (The other day, DJC actually saw him bend over and allow a finished cigarette to simply fall out of his mouth. He immediately replaced it with another one. Ick x1000) and smell his two day old nicotine funk everywhere he's been. Never again will we have to deal with the fat kids playing video games at ridiculous volumes (hooting like animals all the while) and throwing their processed food trash all around the property. We'll never have to listen to them shouting anymore. We don't have to put up with the whole family's uncooperative, holier than thou attitude. We'll no longer wake to the five car alarm warning beeps every time a semi-loud vehicle goes by or to their front door being slammed when Big Tobacco comes home from whatever he does until midnight every night.

Dear lord, they're gone. I can't tell you how nice this feels. Our place is again somewhere we feel comfortable and at home. Especially today when its raining and blustery outside. We can curl up together and actually hear the rain without the downstairs bullshit too. And because I'm sure they absolutely trashed the place (I've seen in the kitchen and Big Tobacco regularly smoked inside), its going to take quite a while for the landlord to have it ready to rent again. We've got at least two, maybe three months of QUIET in the mornings!!!! AAAAAAH!! Its like a dream.

All is right in the world....finally. =)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Plan B...and C...and maybe D

Nursing schools, prerequisites, the lottery system, impossible odds of getting selected. All of this stuff has really been on my mind lately. Mostly because this year's applicant pool is more impacted than ever. Hundreds of us are vying for, like, 20 spots at each school. Its depressing when you really sit down and think about it. My chances of getting in are about as great as if I woke up one morning to find that I'd been reborn as a supermodel. See what I mean? Depressing.

In light of this fact, I realized need a backup plan. I've started looking into LVN programs in the Bay Area (LVN stands for Licensed Vocational Nurse...not quite an RN, but still employable). Problem here is that most of the schools want the anatomy requirement to have been fulfilled in the last five years, which means I will have to take yet another semester of effing prerequisites. Most RN programs, by comparison, don't have a time limit on when that class was taken. I checked my transcript...I took anatomy in 1996. Eeek.

Then there's the Western Career College problem. They offer an LVN program which, by all outward appearances, looked attractive. I went to the informational meeting, where the presenter glossed over the cost of the 16 month course of study, but it did not escape me. Mostly because my mouth was literally hanging open. They spend an extensive amount of time on financial aid in this presentation because tuition there will set you back nearly $45,000. FORTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS for the privilege of take classes at a vocational college that's located inside a mall. That's right. During your lunch break, in theory, you could go out and buy a pair of jeans and grab lunch at the Chili's all without walking outside. That is, if you could afford jeans or food after being raped for a cool $45K.

So, Plan B is out. Next, I've started to look at Medical Assistant programs. They're short (about 8 months), not prerequisite heavy, not terribly impacted, and MAs are fairly employable in all types of medical settings. See, the goal here is to gain medical experience and continue to support myself while waiting for my name to get drawn in the nursing school lottery. This, kids, is plan C. I am going to check out two such schools next week to see what the story is. The cool thing about the two I've chosen is that they offer a phlebotomy certification along with your MA license, which makes graduates instantly more employable. Bonus! Hopefully, they won't be outrageously expensive.

If neither of those schools work out, plan D involves finding an office job. Easier said than done right now, though. I've sent in some resumes, but I don't really expect to hear back from anyone. Those looking for jobs right now run into the same problem that nursing school hopefuls already know all too well...tons of applicants, one or two spots.

Plan B, C and D = one big FML.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Big-O debacle

My car eats tires for breakfast...and then snacks on them again later in the day...and then feasts on them for dinner. The funny thing is that my alignment is fine and always has been. Mechanics are frequently surprised to see the condition of my tires after the see that the alignment is cool. Yeah, me too. Anyways, recently DJC convinced me that I needed at least two new tires. So, I high-tailed it over to the Alameda Big-O. Upon walking in the door, things immediately went south.

The first person to talk to me was Brian. He informed me that the computer said that there were two tires in my size in stock, but upon trying to verify that, he was able to actually locate only one. He said that he would have to order one from the Fremont store and that it wouldn't be delivered until the next day. OK, I thought, I'll just come back. But Brian said, "WHOAAA. We have to ask you to pay for them now...you know, to reserve them." Ummm, OK. So I coughed up $120 for nothing and went home.

The next day, I returned only to find that my tires, you know, the ones I had paid for to "reserve" had been put on another car. This might have been the closest I've been to really hauling off and punching someone in a long time. To rectify the situation, Brian upgraded my tires to the next ones up for free. Whatever, I thought. Just as long as they were round, and would allow my car to move forward and back, I didn't really care. I was steaming mad.

Well, between the "technicians" taking countless cigarette and cell phone breaks, the tires somehow got mounted onto my car. I drove away two hours later. This is where things really went to hell in a handbag, though.

At speeds over 50mph my car shook violently. My freaking teeth rattled in my head. I vowed to take the car back the next day and have this whole shaking thing sorted.

The "technician" I spoke with during my second visit told me, in no uncertain terms, that they had done everything correctly the first time and that if there was a problem now, it was my fault. My car sure as hell didn't shake like that before the tires were replaced, dude! Clearly, it was my fault. Ass. Anyway, he said they'd take the tires off, re-balance them and all would be well. Two hours later, I drove off, steaming mad again.

Everything worked out this time, right? Except not so much. If anything, after the second round of balancing, the shaking and rattling and vibrations at high speeds were WORSE. I was livid. There was no way I was going to take my car back to the Alameda Big-O, so I decided to drive all the way out to Danville to have the guys there take a look. I'd had good luck with service there before and the Alameda ass-clowns were clearly entirely too busy to properly assess what was causing the shaking. Too busy or too lazy...I can't tell which.

Here's what the Danville folks found: During the first trip in to the Alamdea store, the new tires had been put on the rear (pretty standard), and the rear tires moved to the front. Well, those tires had not worn evenly and were wobbling all over the place. Apparently, a bracket had been broken during the process of the installation as well (nice). The Danville guys took the new back tires and swapped them to the front, putting the old ones back on the rear axles. And here's the cool part....they test drove it to make sure that everything was fine. Well, it wasn't. The car still shook and wobbled. They then took a look at the new tires themselves and found that one wasn't completely round (?!?!). Mind you, these are the tires I purchased less than a week ago!

The Danville guys agreed to provide a new, perfectly round tire to me at no cost, which is what is being installed currently. So, here I sit at the local Chargebucks, killing time. I'm just glad they were able to figure out what was wrong. They put in the extra effort that Alameda wasn't willing to do. Eff those turkeys. Never going back there again. Danville Big-O FO' EVA!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

iPole...Part Deux

After Coby's pole dancing bachelorette party, I was really excited to take another class a little closer to home. I called Sedusa Studios in Campbell and made a reservation for myself and AG about two weeks ago. Today, we headed down to the South Bay, met BL for a quick lunch and a drink, and then hustled over to the studio to make the 3pm class. We were almost late because, of course, BL offered us a shot of vodka that we couldn't turn down. A little social lubrication certainly couldn't hurt...

This studio was VERY well hidden and difficult to find. Once we walked in the door, we were greeted by the skinniest lady I have seen in a long time. She had us sign release forms and handed us 5" clear stripper heels. Yeah, these:

The Manolo would SO not approve of these. They are so tacky it hurts. AG wanted flashing lights in the soles of hers. Flashing lights could have only improved their look. The funny thing was that AG and I agreed that we were both waaaay too comfortable in these things. Scary. And, BONUS, I didn't roll an ankle or stumble in any way! WOOT!

The class itself was a bit of a disappointment. It really was geared to beginners in every sense of the word, and for coordinated folks like AG and I, it moved a little too slowly. Despite the fact that each of us had our own pole, we only learned one move on that pole, and the "combination" that Skinny Lady taught us was ridiculously short. I would have liked to learn a few more moves and spend less time working on hip circles. But then again, it was just an introductory class. Apparently, participants work all the way up to flipping upside down on the pole in the actual 5 week series (which will set you back $200), but for $25, I guess what we learned in the intro class was OK.

I managed not to injure myself at all during this class, which is a plus. But on the downside, we barely did anything but walk really slowly, touch ourselves in sexy ways, and do lots and lots of hip circles. There wasn't really a whole lot of opportunity for injury.

I think the next place AG and I are going to hit up is S-Factor in San Francisco. I have it on good word that their method is pretty tough and traditional. I'll report back if and when we give it a go.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Vai love

Ok, so we all know that I have a serious thing for Steve Vai. True, most of what I listen to these days is heavily influenced by DJC's taste in drum n' bass, dubstep and other electronic genres (not that I'm complaining), but I will never give up or get over my ridiculous love for the simple sound of the guitar. Or in Steve Vai's case, the FUCKING AMAZING things he can do with a guitar. The man is, simply put, a guitar god (I've raved about him before here). If I were stranded on a desert island and could only take five CDs with me, "Fire Garden" would be one of them, for sure.

A few nights ago while looking for something to watch on TV, I cam across a Steve Vai concert. JACKPOT! It was ninety minutes of some of the awesomest live music ever. I've seen him live only once (the G3 tour) and I was totally blown away. While I was watching his most recent show on TV, I realized how little post-production work goes into his music. He has some seriously talented musicians in his band and they execute his vision without the help of studio tools. He writes the music for every single instrument, he arranges it, and he sometimes even sings. The man is nothing short of incredible. His sounds are lush and different and no matter what he does, you can be sure that he's always pushing things as far as he can.

Here is my favorite song from the recent TV concert:



The solo in the middle is normally performed by Vai on the guitar, but the fact that he chose to have his violinist do it instead was a genius move. Its a show-stopper. I honestly got chills. I love that his music can still do that to me.

Enjoy, peeps. =)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fitness fanatics

The gym I give my heart and soul to on a daily basis, the Bladium, teaches Les Mills classes. I think I've raved about them before on my blog in various forms (RPM, BodyJam, BodyPump, BodyFlow, etc), but here's a closer look. You'll understand why in a sec...

Basically, the Les Mills programs, which also include step, kickboxing, and good old fashioned high-low 80's aerobics, were developed in New Zealand and have since become VERY popular around the world. The choreography and music are updated quarterly. Each new "release" is sent out to instructors world-wide and for a period of time, everyone around the world does the same stuff in their classes. For example, my good friend R is currently in Beirut and he and I have talked about the releases for RPM and BodyCombat. Its pretty cool that we're taking the same classes even though he's on the other side of the world. When he comes back to the US, he'll be able to jump right in without missing a beat.

Its impossible to take a class from any of the Bladium's high-energy instructors without getting sucked into the Les Mills world. The classes and choreography are so well designed that you can't help but feel motivated and excited to come back for more. Yes, they're a hell of a workout, but what makes it so easy to get hooked is that they're FUN. I honestly never thought I'd really enjoy the BodyStep class, but I don't even realize that I'm kicking my own ass because I'm having such a good time. Same goes for BodyCombat and BodyJam. It also helps that the music and choreo change so frequently. Les Mills makes it easy to have a good time while working out. Crazy, I know.

Anyways, on to the point of this post....Every four months, Les Mills holds a Quarterly Conference in various cities to celebrate the release of their new material. One of these conferences just took place in Santa Clara, CA last weekend. Originally, they were only for instructors to get a sneak peak of the new releases, but recently, members were included as well. A large group of ladies from the Bladium all decided to go, and when Brent, one of the Step instructors, egged me on, I joined in as well.

I had no idea what to expect. I knew that it was an entire day of fitness, with classes running back to back from 7am until 6pm, but what exactly did that mean? Well, lemme tell you, this was like nothing I've ever seen in my life! A full stage. Lighting effects. Participants dressed up for their favorite class (like wearing hip-hop clothes for Jam or wearing cammo stuff for Combat). It was nuts! It was like a concert/rave/cardio-fest complete with the rock star program directors (some from New Zealand who had flown in just for the event) presenting the new stuff to about 250 crazed Les Mills fanatics fans.


The guy in the blue shirt is Brent, one of the Step and Attack instructors at the Bladium. Although you can't tell from this pic, he is about 5'8" of pure muscle and cheerleading energy. His classes are insanely fun and sometimes silly and he has quite a following world-wide. He is bubbly and sweats sunshine and he's everything you'd expect a former cheerleader to be. I luf him and his gorgeous wife Michelle. The other two instructors in the pic are from New Zealand. I couldn't understand a word either of them said despite the fact that they were speaking English. They were awesome.

So, the rest of the ballroom was totally dark and the only reason this picture came out kinda OK is because the people in it were literally inches away from the stage and the lights. Not sure if you can tell, but try to see how far back the group goes. These pics were taken during Attack, which was the second-to-last class of the day (there were eight in total). A large number of people had already left, and there were STILL this many people there. The Les Mills machine can almost be described as a cult. People were SO into it. Like, they-had-Les-Mills-tattoos-on-their-arms into it.

Oh yeah, did I mention I had a horrid cold on this day? Well, I did. After coughing my way through Step, an hour-long educational session, Flow, and Jam, I couldn't quite handle Attack. Hell, Combat was still to come! I opted to sit out and take pictures instead. About 10 people saw me and immediately shoved their cameras at me so I could capture the class for them as well. Instructors posed for pictures with everyone after the class ended. People were sweaty and not looking their best, but it didn't matter. They wanted pictures with their fitness idols.

All in all, this was the single most wild, crazy, painful, sweaty, and amazing day of fitness I've ever experienced. I'm as sore and as tired as I've ever been, and I think its safe to say I am forever hooked. Wherever I go in the world, I will always have to be near a gym that offers the Les Mills programs. The classes, the instructors, the choreography, the feeling I get from doing them...I have to have it all. I've finally found something I can stick with for life. Now, if only I could get my diet in order...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

iPole...kinda

The occasion: BT's little sis's bachelorette party.

The scene: A yoga/pole dancing studio for an introduction to sluttin' it up on the pole. The dim red lights inside the studio in place of overhead fluorescents were a nice touch.

The crew: Eighteen of us in various workout outfits, sans stripper heels or shoes of any kind, feeling a little timid.

The instructor: A 40-ish lady with a ridiculously SLAMMIN' body and insane control of her hips. I envied this woman instantly.

The class: We learned that we all possess something called a "naughty squat". This was news to me (and my knees). We also learned that when approaching the pole, the ONLY acceptable walk was a sexy one. This proved difficult for some, but everyone gave it their best shot. We were taught a short combination, which included a back bend to the floor, a front twirl, and a back hook twirl. While I managed to look OK doing most of the moves, I royally SUCKED at the back hook twirl. I just couldn't get it. Despite several tries and special attention from Ms. 40 Year Old Perfect Ass, I couldn't figure out what to do with my free leg. As BT so eloquently phrased it, "There were moments of 'sexy', and moments of 'awkward'." I think in my case, the awkward moments were really, really awkward.

The carnage: I kinda tweaked my left wrist, both of my forearms were screaming, I sustained minor floor burn on both tops of my feet (which would turn into bruises the next day), bruises on both insides of my knees, and damn near every muscle in my upper back and shoulders was sore the next day.

The verdict: I had a great time. Despite being the biggest girl there, I really enjoyed myself and felt pretty hot at some points. I never realized how much core strength is involved in pole dancing. I have an all new respect for the girls that can hoist themselves high up on the pole, flip upside down, spin around and not land in a heap on the floor the way I'm sure I would if I were to ever try something like that.

I've decided that I must take another class. There's a great studio in the South Bay where an old athlete of mine teaches classes. I signed AG and I up for one of their introductory classes in two weeks. The difference: this studio lends its participants 5" clear stripper heels for the class. All tackiness aside, if I ended up with as many injuries as I did from doing the class barefoot, just imagine the list I'm gonna come home with after trying to dance, let alone walk, in 5" clear stripper heels. Talk about awkward!

I can't wait. =)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pretty things for your Wednesday...almost Thursday

There's been way too much bellyaching on this blog lately. Can't have that. So, to cheer things up a little, here are some pictures I took earlier this afternoon at Anthropologie on 4th Street in Berkeley:

Love these little guys! I kinda have a thing for owls and I am totally in love with cookies, so these adorable cookie jars combine the best of both worlds. Although I think they are both so cute, I like the white and green one better. Something about those big eyes that just speaks to me.

I also thought this newspaper bird was super interesting and creative. There were all sorts of little critters throughout the store today, but clearly, this one took a lot of time to create. Its very sweet. Be sure to click to see the larger version and all the detail.

These beautifully colored plastic things were hanging from the ceiling by the windows. Since it was a wonderfully sunny day, the colors were extra bright. I mean, clearly, they're just old colored water bottles all cut up and splayed out, but they still reminded me of the extraordinary glass flowered ceiling of the Bellagio's lobby in Las Vegas. Of course, that whole installation was done by Dale Chihuly and is an incredible, multi-million dollar work of art. Antropologie's version...well, they're sort of the poor man's Bellagio. But I still appreciated the colors and the textures as the sun shined through.

Aaaaah, there. I feel a little cheerier already. The sunshine definitely helped my mood today. Fingers crossed for more sun tomorrow....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Olympics water-works

What IS it with this year's abundance of incredibly touching, tear- jerking Olympic stories?! I don't know why this Olympics has been so emotionally different for me as compared with past years, but I CANNOT stop crying! Alexandre Bilodeau opened the flood gates and since then, tears have been a regular occurrence as I sit and watch on my couch. I'm so moved by all the stories, you'd think my icy heart has defrosted.

Since these stories are nothing short of amazing, here are the ones that have really made me lose it:

Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette's mother died unexpectedly in Vancouver after traveling from Montreal to watch her daughter fulfill her Olympic dream. Rochette skated a clean short program before letting the tears start to flow, and let me say that I doubt if there was a dry eye in that building. My god, I can't even imagine what this poor girl is going through right now. I don't know how she has managed to summon the courage to hold it together and continue to compete. Rochette is currently in third place going into the free skate. I hope she nails it and takes home a medal of some sort. To be able to execute any sort of performance under those circumstances deserves some sort of recognition. Needless to say, I cried like a little kid watching her performance tonight.

I'd seen snowboarders sporting stickers that read, "I ride for Kevin" in the X-Games and in Vancouver. I had no idea what they meant until last night. Back in 2009, things looked good for snowboarder Kevin Pearce. He was in line to make the Olympic team and possibly upset the ubeatable Shaun White. Then, he sustained a terrible head injury in a training run on December 31st. Since regaining consciousness, Kevin's had to re-learn how to talk and walk. Slowly, he's making progress, but its his relationship with his mentally disabled older brother that started my water works a-flowin'. Tom Brokaw did an excellent piece on the family last night and if you really want to be inspired to be the best you can be, click and watch. I challenge you not to cry or at least tear up a little.

Dear lord, I need to toughen up a bit. I don't know what the hell is going on with my emotions when watching sports! I used to not get this sappy. I used to be able to watch competitions without the hard lump in my throat and my eyes welling up. Well, there was that one time where BT and I sat together on the couch (much too closely) and got choked up over a McDonald's commercial during the Summer Games one year, but that was a freak occurrence that I can fully blame on the fact that we had gotten too much sun that day. Yep, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it. These days I really have no excuse. I'm getting soft. More evidence that its the beginning of the end for me. First, I've given up on fashion, and now I can't hide the fact that I can and do get all gushy inside. Good lord. Someone put my out of my misery.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Olympics Update

First off, I am loving snowboard phenom Shaun White. For years, no one has been able to touch this 23 year old in competition, and yet he remains totally grounded and humble. He took home the top honor in the men's snowboard half-pipe in 2006 and again this year with some of the biggest tricks the sport has ever seen. He's pretty much unstoppable. He knew before his second and final run on Wednesday night that he had won the gold medal. As he stood poised to take his final run anyway, his coach told him to do whatever he wanted. I assume his coach meant whatever tricks he wanted, because when Shaun said that he just wanted to ride down the middle of the half pipe, his coach said "No." White could have opted to essentially give his coach the middle finger and gone ahead with whatever he felt like doing and no one would have questioned him, because, ummmm HELLO, he's Shaun White, ruler of the half pipe kingdom. But at 23, the kid possesses something that other stand-out athletes his age lack...respect for those who know better and humility. He nodded his wild red locks, gave his coach a fist bump and proceeded to throw down the most ridiculous run of the Games.

With his last run, he showed the world that he deserved that gold medal. In a competition where he probably would have won just based on his reputation, Shaun White proved that he's actually really fucking damn good at what he does and that when he's at the top of his game, no one can even come close. Sure, he probably could have expected the IOC to hand him the gold based on who he is and that would have been OK , but nothing is further from the truth with this kid. Regarding his win, he was flat-out stoked. He reacted like he wasn't the favorite, like he didn't have a chance in hell. It was really touching and incredibly endearing. I love that as dominant as he is, he doesn't really know it. A LOT of athletes could take a page of the Shaun White book of how to win graciously and how not to be a dick and let your head get too big (*cough* the entire NBA *cough). I dig him and his style. Lots.

Evan Lysachek and Evgeny Plushenko...hmmm. Instead of tackling the Cold War of men's figure skating, I want to talk about what went wrong with places three through six. Third place and the bronze medal went to Daisuke Takahashi of Japan. Fourth was Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland, fifth place was Patrick Chan of Canada and sixth was Johnny Weir from the US. Takahashi fell during his long program. Lambiel fell during his long program. Chan fell during his long program. Johnny Weir skated cleanly and beautifully. But because he's probably become more famous for the outlandish antics and quotes he regularly gives to anyone holding a press pass than he is for his skating, he was judged VERY harshly on his program. Love him or hate him, the crazy fur-wearing queen can skate. Well. And he was robbed of a bronze medal on Thursday night. The look on Takahashi's face said it all. He was scared for his third place spot after Johnny's program. But that's the thing about sports where winners and losers are chosen by judges; if you turn them off by saying insane things in the press, they will fuck you. Its just a shame that it had to be done so blatantly at such a large competition.

Lindsey Vonn wins the latest award for making me tear up. Her reaction to winning her first ever gold medal in the women's downhill was something that all athletes who REALLY want it have felt. I couldn't not get emotional while watching. SO great for her.

USA vs Canada in men's hockey on Sunday. Since I'm sure to be hungover, I'll be camped on the couch ready to cheer on...well, that's the thing. I'm not quite sure. Five San Jose Sharks play for Team Canada, while only one plays for the US. The US are the underdogs here and everyone loves to see the favorites get toppled, but I'd kinda like to see Canada win it all on Canadian soil. *shrug*

That's all for now. I have things to say about Tiger Woods, too, but I need to crash. Check back soon for more sports and heated opinions from me.