Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Danny and Steph's Wild West Adventure

We’re back from our west coast wanderings, a little lighter in the wallet, heavier in the gut, and out of spinal alignment (I’ll explain later). It was a super fun trip that had us planning our next one before we even boarded the plane home. Here are some of my favorite moments.

1. A common enemy
She came in the form of a US airways flight attendant who smiled sweetly while she chided us about coming late. “Do not check passenger in! It REALLY says that!” Then, still smiling, made an example of Danny for not removing his baggage tags from a previous trip. “Everyone! Please remove any past tags from your luggage!” She turns to us, “If these were left on here guess what the chances are they wind up in Vegas?” She stopped, honestly waiting for an answer. “Ummm,” Danny mumbled, “50/50?” I was pretty steamed at Danny too, until she called me “difficult” for boarding in Zone 4 when my ticket says zone 5 (I’ll mention here that it’s a twelve row plane). And so we began our trip on a good note, bitching about our common enemy.

2. Cirque du Soleil
I’m not a gambler. I don’t get it. This is possibly because I have never won anything and even if I did I would take it and run before I had the chance to amass a huge pile of it. I’m that family member on Deal or No Deal who BEGS the person to Take the Money!!! No matter what the amount is. So, Cirque du Soleil is what makes Vegas worth it for me. We saw Ka and O, both of which were amazing and left me wishing I could fly.

3. The Bellagio Spa
This was by far my most decadent splurge (remember this trip was replacing Japan folks). After trekking a mile to Slots of Fun in the desert heat, which feels exactly like a hairdryer blowing in your eye, and scarfing down a .99 cent hot dog over a dirty trough, the Bellagio Spa was like a dream. I felt like a C-list celebrity at an A-list resort. I hung out for a bit on posh couches with a glass of champagne, then I was led back into a low lit slate hallway that felt more like an ancient temple than a hotel on the Vegas strip. Wall sconces lit floor to ceiling fountains and Koi swam in pools tucked into corners. I got a soothing facial treatment and a hand and foot massage all to the magical pipings of a pan flute.

4. Six Flags Magic Mountain--this park is clear

We were on a mission. Ride every single roller coaster in the park. It was a pilgrimage really. If you’re a roller coaster junkie, it doesn’t get much better than Magic Mountain. I know every place says their ride is the tallest, fastest blah blah blah on earth. But after riding the ones at Magic Mountain, I really believe them. The newest one, the X2, features seats that rotate 360 degrees for a head-first, face-down drop. The Déjà Vu dangles you from ski-lift style chairs for a 20-story dive then through a vertical loop, a 110-foot butterfly and up the second tower to repeat it all—backwards. We accomplished our mission and then some. We threw in a Log Jam ride for good measure and rode the Tatsu twice. However, soon after our victory we realized we are 30 and not 18 and are still suffering the neck and spinal consequences of excersizing every demon at Six Flags.

5. The Santa Monica Pier

It somehow escaped me that Los Angeles would have mountains. I’m not sure how I didn’t know that, but seeing the sun set over them in Santa Monica was among the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life. Throw in Pacific Park on the pier and you have a favorite vacation moment. Danny and I, despite our fear, got on the Ferris Wheel, mostly for the view. I know what you’re thinking (okay I don’t but just go with it.) The same Danny and Steph who willingly jumped out of an airplane and rode twelve terrifying rollercoasters in so many hours are scared of a…Ferris Wheel? Yes. Jumping out of a plane is not as scary as a roller coaster. A rollercoaster is not as scary as a Ferris Wheel. Discuss.

6. Soap Plant Wacko La Luz de Jesus
I could have spent all day and all my money in this place. Here are a few of the things I bought there: A cat butt magnet set, a Chicken Chucker that launches rubber chickens up to 15 feet, a “Lookin’ Good for Jesus” coin purse, and Liberace post cards.

7. The Hogwarts Express.
We got to take this on a green screen as part of our WB studio tour which in my opinion made the entire thing totally worth it. We also got to see tons of Harry Potter movie props. I practically drooled on the Marauder’s Map and nearly passed out by the Skiving Snackboxes. AND I got to put on the sorting hat (!!!) I was Slytherin. I know, I was disappointed. All my friends are in Gryffindor.

7. The Earthquake
We were in town just long enough to get rumbled around by faults deep in the earth. We were in the airport food court enjoying our California Pizza when it happened. It took us a second to even figure out what was going on. I thought the booth was being shaken and moved by the hyper kids on the other side and I was about to turn around in a huff when I realized it wasn’t just the bench shaking but the GROUND. I got the sensation of sliding a bit, like we were all on ice. And then it was done. I was surprised later when it was all over the news because it was such a small moment. Most people just looked around and said, “was that an earthquake?” and kept eating, including us.

Disasters natural and otherwise are par for the course on a Seguin-Gimenez vacation. Danny loses everything from cameras to cash, reads airline tickets wrong causing us to miss flights. (This time I got off easy, he only lost the credit card twice and left all his clean shirts at the Bellagio.) If Danny doesn't lose anything, it will rain the entire time and everything will be closed. But we like it that way, makes it more memorable.

So where to next???? Maybe a white water rafting adventure? Nah, too scary.

Quick Vacation quiz....

Which of the following activities fill Danny and Steph with a paralyzing fear?

A. Skydiving

B. Hang gliding

C. Rollercoasters

D. Earthquakes

E. The Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel

Look for the answer in this week's exciting vacation blog...

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Real Problem with the Health Care System

I hate hospitals, seriously. And not just because they're cold, smell faintly of vomit and more often than not I'm there to do something decidedly un-fun (like get strapped to a board and shoved in a tunnel for an hour).

I hate them because they MAKE NO SENSE. I think the layout of hospitals are designed specifically to baffle and annoy those of us not wearing scrubs. This morning after my scan I still needed to get bloodwork done, and the woman at the lab informed me I needed to walk to Siberia to register (again) before doing so.

She did her best to give me directions. (Left, Right, Elevators, whatever). I don't blame her, it's not her fault she works in the bermuda fucking triangle. It's not her fault that all the hallways look the same and are filled with windowless doors and unhelpful little signs with unhelpful little arrows pointing me towards words that mean nothing to me.

Observation Unit --->


Decontamination --->

<---Hall of Mirrors

Once I finally found the place I was looking for I regretted not dropping bread crumbs so I could find my way back. I sat in another waiting room for another 25 minutes and thought that by the time I got out of there it would be time to start all over again next year.

Luckily though, another stranger mispronounced my name, copied my insurance card and directed my sore ass to the next waiting room, which was, by some miracle, directly across the hall.

Monday, July 14, 2008

One Hell of an Ass

This morning, as my doctor crouched behind me, jiggling my bare ass fat with his fingers, I was thinking about small talk--as in, I couldn't think of any.

It's time again for my yearly cancer scans which means a few days of injections, a dash of radioactivity and an hour of relaxing in a narrow tunnel whose top is inches from my face. Sounds fun right? Not as fun as trying to make conversation when there's a man behind you staring intently at your crack.

I mean, what do you say when a man is mere inches from your twin moons, concentrating intently on the syringe he's about to stick in it?

A wise person would say nothing and let him concentrate on the task at hand. Me on the other hand, hoping to direct the attention away from my butt cheeks, said, "So, seen any good movies lately?"

He didn't take the bait. I contmeplated whether or not to go on anyway, telling him about the movies I've seen lately, since those movies don't include a needle plunging into my ass. But, in a rare moment of discretion, I stopped myself.

The most recent movie I've seen is Hellboy. And when I think about commenting on it, the thing that comes immediately to mind is that I found the bad guy incredibly hot and for the entire movie was considering this: If the evil prince asked me to come down to his sewer lair and spend all of eternity with him, would I go? I'll have to think about it.

I did not think this was appropriate conversation to have with my doctor while he plunged potent chemicals into my glutes. But it's true, the bad guy in Hellboy was hot, in a pale, evil way.

He wasn't all bad really either. I felt he did TRY to convince the tree people to see things his way before killing them. And he had a good point about the giant plant that was destroying a cityblock, it was very beautiful and the last of it's kind. He wasn't totally unreasonable.

And even the super creepy Tooth Fairy critters he unleashed to eat a roomful of well-off New Yorkers, were cute in their own destructive way.

My reverie was broken by my doctor saying I could pull my pants back up and to remember which cheek we did so we can do the other side tomorrow.

I'm going to think of some really good small talk before then.

Any ideas, shoot em my way.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

You had me at felt tip pen...

What is it about buying office supplies and paper products that makes me weak in the knees? I'm giddy just thinking about peeling the cardboard backing off a shiny new set of pens, neatly stacking crisp thank you cards in a drawer, or fanning my fingers over pages and pages of paper filled only with the promise of what's to come.

The thing is though, the magic has a short shelf life. No matter how hard I try, I simply cannot get excited about the office supplies I already have, even my good ones (like pink spiral shaped paperclips).

It's a problem. Yesterday, while making copies for work at Office Depot, I saw a display for new Sharpie pens. "Won't bleed through paper!" Good enough for me. The pens could have been twenty five dollars, it wouldn't have mattered, I would not have been able to leave the store without them.

I can't stop. I have more journals than I could fill in five lifetimes. I have enough thank you notes to send one to everyone who has ever blessed me after a sneeze or passed me the salt. Yet I still want more. More. More. MORE!

Today, while shopping with Alisa for wedding decorations, we found ourselves trapped inside Wal-Mart due to a monsoon style downpour. Of course, we soon found ourselves strolling the school supply aisle.

I controlled myself, I really really did. But there were a few must have items I could not be expected to pass up.

1. adorable neon mini post-its

2. mechanical pencils decorated with skulls.

3. comically colassal push pins

4. a sparkly red hologram folder

There's no end in sight really. I'd say I'll try to quit, but I know that won't happen. So I won't bother, I'll just put these things away next to their counterparts, multi-colored paperclips, unused mini index cards and gel pens that made my heart race mere days ago.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Girl with the Amber Necklace

So I’m driving around town with my boss on a Monday afternoon, looking for a place to buy gin, and contemplating the meaning of my existence on this planet.

We’d spent the afternoon in the nursing home where her friend, the great Marxist feminist writer Marlene Dixon, had just died. We collected her possessions into boxes and carried them through the rain to the car. En route to my boss’s house, where we’d sort through everything, she wanted to get some gin, and have a drink before we got started. I can’t say I blame her.

It wasn’t the first time I’d been pegged for the task of going through all the stuff someone leaves behind. When my grandfather died, I cleaned out his trailer with my grandmother. Piles of clothes and little trinkets that may or may not have held value to him, were now being tossed in a bag headed for the nearest thrift store. Every once in awhile, you come across something that reveals meaning about the person, like his bedside drawer, empty except for a picture of each of us grandkids and a prayer asking the lord to accept him into heaven when his time came.

My grandfather I felt some connection to, but Marlene I’d only met on my few recent visits to the nursing home to fill her bird feeder and bring her chocolate shakes. My boss and I sat under a carport sorting through boxes that represented everything Marlene possessed at the end of her life. Among the stack of family photo albums was a book of poems by high school kids.

“She probably has one published in there,” my boss said.

I searched for it. And found a poem about a piece of brocade that once belonged to a Chinese princess, and then to a French pompadour, and now to a young girl writing a poem who wonders, who will have it when I am gone?

And now I wonder about the myriad things lying around my own house. It occurred to me that at the end we’re all reduced to a big pile of stuff that someone has to go through and figure out to do with.

In my case, a person would have to sort through items such as: a pink wig, a Disney Princess collection CD, a plastic Jesus pencil topper, a mini newsletter about a feisty goat that I got in a carton of eggs once, ungodly amounts of wrapping paper and drawers full of bows and trimmings, silver elephant earrings my grandma bought me that I can’t get rid of or bring myself to wear for fear people will think I’m a republican, a Groucho Marx disguise kit, skull and cross bones band-aids and Antiques Roadshow: The Board Game.

Even the things that have real meaning to me, would they mean something to anyone else? The pearl flowers I wore in my hair to get married, that are carefully wrapped in plastic and in a box with the cards we received on our wedding. The black and white picture of my mom when she was in second grade or my grandparents on their wedding day. My kindergarten artwork and Care Bears carefully preserved by my grandmother. The tiny hospital bracelet I wore when I was born.

Eventually, whether it’s tomorrow, or 100 years from now, all of it will be thrown away. (Unless it’s in a museum somewhere because I accidentally made some great scientific discovery or made first contact with aliens.)

I’m sitting here typing wearing a big beautiful amber necklace that belonged to Marlene and thinking that the best we can hope for is that our family and friends keep some of the trinkets, either to remember us by, or because, like the amber necklace, they simply find them beautiful and so they will filter out into the world, bring happiness to others and add to someone else’s pile.