Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Leaving on Vacation Meltdown

Does this just happen to me or does your mind go completely bonkers right before you depart on a vacation? How is it possible that every other day runs smoothly--work wrinkles get ironed out by the end of the day, laundry gets done on the weekends and I swear my purse doesn't always weigh 100 pounds.

I left my house this morning at 7 a.m.--so much for sleeping in on my first day of vacay! So far I have taken the mutt to the vet to get her vaccines updated (how is it possible that vaccinations coincide with EVERY vacation I take?), dropped the mutt off at "camp." (For the next five days she will play with her doggy friends by day and pass out in her kennel by night and judging by how quickly she forgot I existed once we set foot in the place, will probably not miss me for one second.) I swung by and had coffee with a friend for an hour, went to Target for q-tips (and left with a new pair of jeans, jacket and eye cream before dropping an F bomb and going back for q-tips). And then I drove by Borders.

I shouldn't, I thought to myself. I'm on a budget and have a ton of books and magazines at home. But I diiiid need reading material for the plane and haaaaave had that gift card burning a hole in my pocket since Christmas. So I peeled into the parking lot and was able to get out of there for less than $50 with some trashy magazines (for the plane!) and a couple of books on Provence. 12 guidebooks on Paris, and none on Provence. So I totally needed them!

Somehow I manage to lug all my wares into the house and wonder what could possibly be making my purse so heavy. I pull out no less than THREE books, a planner and a notebook. It's a wonder I don't throw my shoulder out! Good lawd!!

So I leave today for a quick Northern California adventure that will include a tour of Dig's new 'hood (she just bought a new condo and moved from San Francisco to Walnut Creek), a pass by Spleen's parents cattle ranch (affectionately called "Beef Camp") and then three days in Yosemite. And the only thing that stands between me and my flight later this afternoon? A total meltdown.

Why is it that all of a sudden right before I'm supposed to leave I feel like the house needs a massive cleaning, that the car could probably use one too and that there is no way I have enough clothes (or shoes!) to wear for four days away from Portland?

So I should probably go and tend to that laundry ... the packing ... the cleaning ... the whole going insane business ... but not without first saying goodbye for now!

Thanks for popping in for this meltdown already in progress ...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

East India Co.

When I was younger I used to watch I Dream of Jeannie when I would stay home sick. I loved Jeannie's ponytail, the 60's music and the Major's uniform but I especially loved Jeannie's bottle. It was so girly, so pink and full of pillows and glamour. I could imagine myself in that bottle, lounging around on the couches all day and pretending to file my nails while giving "Major" the silent treatment. Oh how I wanted to be an adult, if I was an adult I'd sleep in until noon and eat cookies for dinner.

So not surprisingly, I've spent the past couple of nights eating Girl Scout Thin Mints for dinner (who says dreams don't come true?). You can probably imagine my stomach's reaction when the mere mention of lunch came up. "Lunch? Indian? What do we need to do to make this happen? Do I need to pay? Hire a sherpa? Get a camel? What, I'll do anything, I'm STARVING." Luckily all I had to do was walk up to 11th Avenue.

East India Co. just opened a couple of months ago and is located between Yamhill and Taylor. We (the geek squad) sat in a booth surrounded by a filmy curtain with gorgeous pillows strewn about and a lit star hovering above us on the ceiling. It was just like Jeannie's bottle and I half expected to disappear into a poof of pink smoke before coming face to face with Larry Hagman. But that thought quickly left when I was presented with the menu.

East India Co. offers three prix fixe menus for lunch. I had The Viceroy's Lunch and for $12.95 had a lovely salad of bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes and herbs in a light vinegrette to start. The salad was followed by Samosa Chaat--perfectly cooked potatoes in a crispy shell over garbanzo beans with a spicy chutney. Then the kebabs had to jump in and make me ooh and aah over their moist, charred flavor. By that time I was stuffed. But when our server rolled arond with Naan and the day's curry with basmati rice thoughts of fullness left my mind as quickly as Larry Hagman had earlier. I dove in with 1960's spirit and almost said "yeah baby" aloud before stopping myself (actually my mouth was too full). Could I really have room for one more course?

Now is probably a good time to talk about my philosophy on the human stomach. I believe that our stomachs are made up of buckets and that each bucket is reserved for one type of food. So in this case, after polishing off salad, samosas, kebabs, Naan and almost all of my curry most of my buckets were stuffed. But then dessert came around and who wants dessert? "Oh yes! I'll have some please." See, dessert bucket, completely empty. Doesn't it explain so much? I know!

So dessert was a soft blend of carrots that had been cooked in a saffron butter with golden raisins. It made the table actually go quiet, that's how good it was. Well, either that or the food coma was kicking in. Regardless, we don't get quiet very often.

It's probably not the place you'd want to go to lunch at every day (if anything just for sheer volume's sake) we were in there for over an hour. Our waitress apologized profusely and said they were a bit short staffed. But we didn't mind, it was actually nice to be tucked away in East India for a while. If you're looking for something a little quicker try their happy hour, the drinks sounded delicious and they run specials on food Monday through Saturday from 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.

And keep your eye out for Jeannie, I swear she's around there somewhere.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Glen Hansard, The Ladies and a Hungarian

Glen Hansard won the Oscar last night for best song. I have a bone to pick with Mr. Hansard. I was first introduced to him by "The Ladies" (or "ladieth" after we've had a few). The ladies were my college roommates who callously left me to live in Dublin for six months after we graduated college. Granted I was living in Seattle at the time, but that's not the point. The point is they ran off and had a bunch of fun without me (Yes, their story might be different than mine. They might tell you that they asked me over and over again to go but I decided that I couldn't because I'm a total jackass. Their story is probably closer to the truth.) So the ladies sent me a CD of this great band they had found while living in Dublin. Turns out the band is The Frames, an Irish band, whose front man is none other than Glen Hansard. The Frames are awesome, and if you haven't listened to them get thee over to I-Tunes and download Dance the Devil, you won't be sorry. My favorite song is #5 (you can thank me later).

So anywhooo, I listened to the CD over and over again. The only problem was, I listened to it during a break up. Now you know what a train wreck you can be when you're breaking up with someone. Especially if you're in your early 20's and the person you're breaking up with is the person you think you're going to marry. I was a mess and The Frames were there for me every step of the way. I finally got over the guy, but what I didn't realize had happened was that my heart was put back together with a little wrinkle. That little wrinkle was that I thought all Irish guys were as nice and as soulful as Glen Hansard. It was a little wrinkle I didn't realize existed until last year when I finally went to Dublin with the ladies for a vistit.

We went to see Michele, a friend Digs had made while she worked for a bank in Dublin. Michele had gotten engaged and was having a big party and what the hell, we'll cross the Atlantic for a party. Michele immediately put us to work and made us run around to get ice. Easy enough, right? Uh no. Apparently ice that comes in massive bags at the local grocery store for $1.59 is a U.S. phenomenon. The only way to get loads of ice in Ireland is to send your American girlfriends into the local pubs to smile pretty and say "um hi, our friend is having a party tonight and um, we said we'd buy some ice but we didn't realize we couldn't and well ... could you help us out?" To which we'd inevitably get asked "where's the party?" while the cute Irish bartenders would load us up with bags of ice. See, they're so nice (and Michele is so smart)! So lots of flirting with the local boys, yes. But quality time, no. Not until my last night in Ireland.

We were out in Temple Bar (read: tourist mecca) bar hopping and having a grand time when Spleen's cousin and I spied a cute bartender. He filled me up with Club Lemon and Vodka (oh Club Lemon, how I miss you) and we proceed to chat. He advised us when some drunk guys from Scotland started to swarm "you don't want those guys" he said in his cute Irish accent then winked. Hmmm ... I decided he was right. I wanted him, my very own version of sweet Glen Hansard. So cute boy's other bartender friend hangs out with us while cute boy has to go pour drinks and he asks us if we want to meet up after they get off work. Spleen's cousin says "yeah, we like Irish guys!" or something equally flirtatious. "Bummer," cute bartender's friend says, "I'm Hungarian." From the other side of the bar cute bartender looks over his shoulder at me and gives me a cute little smile.

We decide to meet upstairs at a bar down the street about a half hour later. But you know how time goes when it's 3 a.m. and you're in a foreign country. So we MADE it to the bar, but didn't actually make it upstairs. So another hour or so goes by and I see the Hungarian, but no cute bartender. Hungarian yells at me and says "we waited for you guys for over an hour!" I say innocently, "I've been sitting right here." To which he yells "We said UPSTAIRS, this is CLEARLY downstairs." I decided I didn't like the Hungarian. An Irish guy would never talk to me like that! "Where's your friend?" I asked looking to be saved and maybe groped a little by the cute bartender. "He left, and I'm leaving too!" "Okay," I calmly replied turning back to my friends. He paused, halfway out the door and said "unless, you want to come with me?"

"WHAT?!" I almost spit out my Guinness. "You said you liked Irish guys." he replied, anger gone completely out of his tone and probably directly to his wanger. "You're not Irish, you said you're Hungarian." was all I could think of to say. "No, I said I'm HUNG like an ARIAN." After laughing hysterically for a couple of minutes and saying no to promises that he could take me to the airport the next morning, I realized Glen Hansard every Irish guy was not. They were just like guys in every other part of the world--some incredible, some assholes and some apparently hung like Arians. The Arian went home alone.

So it was fitting that Glen Hansard's song last night was called "Falling Slowly" (or in my case add "if ever"). And of course because he's lovely and soulful he wrote and sang it onstage with his costar from Once. And then he had to go and be all Glen Hansard like and sweep her off her feet in real life too. Fair play to you both.

On a more joyful (and less envious) note a special shout out to my ladies, I will see you guys Wednesday!


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Wade & Jimmy

Wade and I used to work together. We met a few years ago and it was love at first sight. Well at least it was for me, I still have to beg him to hang out with me and when he says no, I make sure to invite myself over to his gorgeous house that he shares with Jimmy at least once a month. They are two of my favorite people on the planet and spoil me for everyone else by taking me to private Pink Martini concerts on downtown rooftops and making me drink lots of cocktails in front of their prominent friends. There was also that dance that Wade did to MC Hammer while we were on a business trip. Yeeeooow!

So what could be more fun than Wade and Jimmy on their own? Well Wade and Jimmy's super fun friends, of course. (BTW, Wade & Jimmy's Super Fun Friends was an alternate title to this post-but sorry Wad-ay, you get this title all to yourself!) I promised I would protect the guilty and not use real names in this post. We decided instead to use their porn names. As such, last night our cast was made up as follows:

Hosts: Wade & Jimmy (real names, but only because their porn names make them sound like they're running for office)


Tabby Hughes: Way rich (and famous too!) now Arizona resident who once had Tom Cruise's junk "accidentally" rubbed on him at a Broadway show. (sorry Tabby, I couldn't resist).

Corky Kahanahou: Prominent Portland genius who may give Jimmy a run for his money as the nicest guy on the planet. He seriously is the cutest guy ever and I think he might have measured his shirt collar to make sure both sides were even after he put his sweater on. He hasn't had Tom Cruise's junk rubbed on him yet, but just give it time.

Pepper 43rd St which we quickly changed to "Pepper 43 Double D's" (it just sounded better): Renaissance woman who has lived in more cities than I've set foot and has had more jobs than I knew existed. This chick LIVES and is a complete bad ass and total sweetheart. (Pepper, this little geek envies your ability to throw caution to the wind and just go!)

Zippity Archer: C'est moi! The token straight person. Geeky financial analyst and want to be writer whose stomach would have totally hurt from laughing so hard if my abs weren't as strong as they are. Whew, thank god for that six pack! What's so funny guys?

Here were a few of my favorite moments from last night (I seriously had to start making a list, next time I'm planting a recording device):

--Being offered a drink within 3 seconds of setting my purse down (Told ya, utterly spoiled.)

--Corky recounting his afternoon with Tabby at William's Sonoma. Without giving up too many details, it involved a cute clerk and the lingering question of if Corky should go back in a few days to see if the clerk remembered him. (Side Note: Corky, if you're reading this, try and get over the numerous grammatical and spelling errors and get your cute butt back to Williams-Sonoma.)

--Jimmy recounting the time he and Tabby dressed up as hookers for Halloween and went to the local Payless (which I think was an old Woolworth type store in Eugene. There were a few drinks involved, details are sketchy) to buy women's clothes. They told the clerk they were there to buy some items for their "girlfriends" and needed some pantyhose to go with the women's dresses. When the clerk asked what size they looked at each other and said: "the biggest you've got, they're big girls."

--Tabby recounting the garage sale that Jimmy threw when they used to live together. All of the little old ladies in the neighborhood were in Tabby & Jimmy's front yard at 7 a.m. when "Vera" came out of the house wearing a woman's wig and high heels with his men's underwear. Jimmy looked at Tabby and said "great, we're going to have to move again."

And last but not least, I'd like to apologize for the drunk dial to Chauntey (aka: Taaaaaaay!), Tabby's assistant, who so kindly picked up our call (despite the late hour) and listened to us drunk freaks yelling "Haaaay Taaaaay, haaaaay!"

Wade and Jimmy, your friendship means so much to me and ... well I think MC Hammer says it best when he says: "you can't touch this!" Thanks again for another amazing and hilarious evening.

Zippity Archer

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Single Girl's Fridge

So the mutt stuck her very cold nose in my very tired face this morning and when I cracked open an eye I saw ... was it really ... a ray of sunlight coming through my bedroom window? I literally was outside before I realized I should probably throw something on aside from my pj's (sorry neighbors!) So after a morning spent walking, coffee-ing and throwing a frisbee for the mutt at the dog park I came home a little chilly and a lot hungry. I'm sure I had something delicious just waiting in my fridge!

Or not.

I was faced with dum..dum...dum ... "The Single Girl's Fridge" staring back at me--bottle of champage, Diet Coke and an unopened bag of spinach. Ummmm ... shit.

You see I kind of put myself on a budget, after dropping a grand on a plane ticket this week and all. What oh what could I squeak out of my kitchen to tide me over until I go over to my gay boyfriends' house for dinner where I know I'll be fed properly? After some further rummaging I found some stock, an onion and celery. This was encouraging. When I found a bag of frozen peas (who put frozen peas in my freezer?) I thought I just might be onto something. Especially when I remembered the immersion blender my sister got me for Christmas. Ding ding ding! I'd make some soup. Get this, it actually turned out! And I think it will tide me over for the gluttony that the GBFs said is coming tonight:

Wade: Jimmy's making dinner tonight and breaking out the deep fryer want to come over?
SSG: Um ... I GUESS I'll break from my healthy eating habits just this once, but only because it's you guys.
Wade: (After much hysterical laugher) Ok we'll see you at 5:30.
SSG: What's so funny?

Here's my serendipitous soup recipe! Ummm ... what to call it ... oh I know:

"What -to-Eat-Before-You-Go-to-Your-Cruel-GBF's-House-for-Dinner Soup"

1T butter
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 stalk of celery chopped
2 cups frozen peas
2 cups (or 1 can) of vegetable stock
2 cups of spinach
1 t lemon juice or vinegar
Salt & Pepper

Heat butter in saucepan over medium heat. When it's bubbly and smelling yummy and you're tempted to lick it right out of the pan, don't. Add in the onion and celery and 1/2t of salt and 1/4 t of pepper instead. Swirl the celery and onion around in the butter and I dare you not to recall some Thanksgiving memory (what is it about butter, celery and onion cooking on the stovetop?). After about 3 or 4 minutes add in the frozen peas and vegetable stock, kick that burner up to high until the whole thing starts to boil then cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 5 or 6 minutes, add in the spinach and stir everything around a few times before covering the pot back up again. Let the spinach wilt (about 2 or 3 minutes). Turn off the stove. Now the fun begins. Break out that immersion blender that's been gathering dust (or that may just be MY immersion blender) and blend until desired consistency--try to keep it all in the pan, or if you insist upon getting it all over the place aim for the floor where your dog can clean it up for you. Add in the teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar, stir and serve with salt and pepper to taste. If you happen to have some left over sour cream from um, a frozen burrito that you ate the other day (hey, at least it was Amy's Organic!) then throw a dollop of that on top. I did and it was yummy.

2 Hefty Servings (or if you're like me and are constantly planning a 7 course dinner party that you never have, then it would serve 4 as an appetizer)

Hope you're having a serendipitous Saturday of your own!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Grand Central Bowl

So the squad and I stepped out of work a little early and headed over to Grand Central Bowl for a few games, beers and lots of jokes involving balls. I bowled a 160 ... in three games. I have the athletic prowess of Elton John. The skills I have on Wii obviously don't translate to real life.

You can tell by my score, I'm not a serious bowler. But for the record, I do love serious bowlers. I love the stance, the focus, the little leg kick out at the end, the way the ball (can't even type it without laughing) shoots down the lane instead of bouncing down like when I throw it. I'm all about the shoes (and once even ... um "borrowed" a pair when I was in high school) and the shirts and the funny league names. But then I go to a local bowling alley and it's smokey, and there is music playing that I don't like, and the beer is flat and nothing matters aside from bowling and I'm way too A.D.D for that. So Grand Central was right up my alley (ba dum bum) the music was fun--little '80's mixed with some Led Zep and ACDC, I had cocktails instead of beer, could shoot some pool and have some dinner all in the same place and bonus, I left without smelling like an ash tray.

But hands down, the best part of the night was hearing my boss put on his bowling shoes, step out onto the lane and say "I've got to test the wood."

In the words of Michael Scott, "that's what she said."

Happy Friday Everyone!

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Folks ... what is up with bumper stickers? I was behind a woman who had no less than FOURTEEN on her car today. Talk about junk in your trunk.

Maybe I recognized the futility at a young age. When I was in third grade and my sister, who was teasing her bangs for her first day in seventh grade, made me go out to the car and scrape off the Mighty 690 sticker from our VW bus window. "NO ONE in junior high listens to Mighty 690," she said, followed, I'm sure, by "Moooom, do we have any more Aqua Net?!" I most likely was muttering something along the lines of "I'm never sticking one of these stupid things on my car when I get older." And I haven't ... well except for that one SDSU sticker on the back of my CRX in 1992 ... and there maaaaaay have been a sorority sticker on the back of that same CRX, but that was only for 5 minutes ... which also, coincidentally was the same amount of time I spent in a sorority. But no more since then, I swear.

I get that people have opinions and beliefs, I get that you may have a "Baby on Board" or that you "Brake for Kitties" or whatever, but what I really question is the bumper sticker's effectiveness to bring about change in the world. And change is what these people want, right? Since clearly, most of these bad boys have some pretty heavy messages--Impeach Bush, Happiness is a Tight Pussy, My Other Ride is Your Mom. Refuse to Abuse. Is the guy behind you in the lifted truck with gun racks on the back really going to scratch his red neck and say "By golly, I have been treating my wife unfairly I guess I won't go kick her around tonight." I think not.

So you can imagine my reaction when I was talking to my dad tonight telling him the news about a certain little European trip planned and he said, "Man you must be telling everyone! Have you put a bumper sticker on your car yet?"


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Park Bistro

So the geek squad and I headed out for lunch today. Usually we go on Fridays (us geeks like our routine) but today I felt like getting out and threw out an e-mail to the crew (despite the fact that we all sit no more than 10 feet from each other). Everyone was in, but where oh where to go? We've hit up most of the downtown lunch spots--Red Coach, Blue Plate, Bijou Cafe, Ford's On 5th, Fong Chong's for Dim Sum, Portland City Grill, I could go on and on. But today called for something new ... something different ... something slightly, oh I don't know, Parisian (it's getting annyoing, isn't it?)

I've said before that I'm down with any restaurant that has the word "bistro" in the title. Chuck E. Cheese could be called Chuck E. Cheese Bistro and I'd be first in line. So you can imagine that a little place called "The Park Bistro" located on SW Park in downtown Portland didn't escape my notice. I checked out their website and discovered they had a nice little breakfast and lunch menu complete with soups, paninis, salads and the like and the bonus is that they're oh so very Porltand and all about the sustainable agriculture. I love anyone who makes me feel like I'm helping the planet by doing what I'd normally be doing ... and if it includes eating, uh yes please!

We were welcomed into The Park Bistro by a really nice guy with stylish eye glasses and a chill but attentive demeanor. He was my favorite kind of server--giving us enough space but not too much and seemed genuinely glad we were there. We dove into the menu with gusto--everone ordered something different. I got a turkey, brie and spinach pesto sandwich with a tomato basil soup. There was a frittata on deck, a curried chicken sandwich and an egg scramble and some other chicken sandwich business. I was so busy stuffing my face that it took me a few minutes to look up and see if everyone liked what they had. Happy faces all around. (Whew, the squad can be a judgemental group sometimes!)

I finally stopped eating (so what if it was after my empty plate had been cleared) and noticed what a cheery little place we were in--pale yellow and tangerine walls, a gorgeous bar in the corner directly across from a couch that has my name written all over it and the art on the walls is tasteful. Turns out they have tapas and beer and wine for happy hour too. We were all figuring out when we'd be back for happy hour when with the check, we were brought two pieces of chocolate cheesecake--gratis. Ummmm ... could this place be any better?

So where admitedly yes, I would do almost anything for dessert ... especially chocolate desserts ... especially free chocolate desserts, I promise I was going to write about this place anyway. They're not open for dinner quite yet, but hurry up and get down there and give them enough business so they can. I can't promise the free chessecake, but I can promise you good food and the chance of seeing me there sipping a glass of vino on that couch ...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'll Apologize in Advance

Number of e-mails today about Paris plans: 8

Number of travel guides I was about to buy before fiscal sense got the better of me and I decided to look and see what I had at home first: 1

Number of travel guides I found at home: 12

Number of days until I set foot in Paris: 200 too many

Monday, February 18, 2008

I'm Going to Paris!

Most days start out as follows:

Alarm goes off and I, face smushed into my pillow, will it to go away. The Mutt's cold nose finds my face--she's such a morning dog--I mutter "uh uh" and somehow manage to find the snooze button on the alarm clock without opening my eyes.
Said Mutt actually listens and curls back up by my feet for 9 glorious minutes. Alarm goes off again. By this time, the Mutt's having none of it, she's ready to get up. The coffee pot thankfully has an automatic timer and by the time I shuffle downstairs I have just enough energy to fill my cup and curl up on my couch to do a little writing and reading while the caffeine works its magic.

But then there are some days, like today, when something so delicious happens where you are not only awake but have sense enough to know your life will be changed forever. Like when your friend's wife (who has become a good friend of yours too) calls and says "We're buying plane tickets to Paris today and want to see if you're in?"

"YES!" or rather, without hesitation, "OUI!" The most fabulous word in any language.

I don't know when I first fell in love with France. It came slowly, beckoning quietly, so quietly I didn't even know what was happening. It started in 10th grade when I switched from taking Spanish to taking French. Then popped up again in college when we read A Moveable Feast. And again and again as any corner I would turn involving art, food, culture and wine inevitably ended at this place halfway around the world. This place that was so far removed from my West Coast existence that I had to love it from afar. And it has become a full fledged love affair, despite HAVING NEVER BEEN THERE. No bother, I had a ton of practice at unrequited love--it's no accident that one of my favorite books is Love in the time of Cholera. But that's another story for another time.

Serendipity has swung in again, for in a mere matter of months I wll finally be walking the streets of Paris--renting an apartment, shopping at the markets, taking pictures of this place that I have seen for so long in my mind. How, I ask you, how am I supposed to wait an entire 6 months to go?!

It reminds me of the time when I got a chance to go down onto Safeco field to watch the Mariner's batting practice during the days of Lou Pinella, Edgar Martinez and A-Rod. No one could stand me from the time I found out I was going until the time I got back (and maybe for a week or so after that). I fear I may not have friends for the next 6 months. Maybe I can contain my excitement ... not gush, not plan everything we're going to do from moment to moment ... I can just casually let them know that I'm going to Paris and say nothing more ...

On second thought, who hasn't neglected her friends once or twice in the face of new love? I'm sure they'll understand.

I'm going to Paris!!!!!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Laurelhurst Park

I stumbled upon Laurelhurst Park one night after leaving Noble Rot, a great little wine bar, just off of Burnside & 28th. I had met some friends for a glass of wine and their heirloom tomato panzanella salad and was driving home, already reminiscing about the glass of Justice Pinot Noir that had fast worked its way into my ongoing "new favorite wine" contest. It finally occurred to me after passing the same house again, that I was quite happily lost in the beautiful neighborhood of Laurelhurst.

I love neighborhoods like Laurelhurst--where the homes are set back off the street and their owners have lovingly restored their early 20th century charm. I picture spouses inside pouring over copies of Gourmet magazine deciding what to have alongside their dinner of roasted duck while their kids conjugate french verbs at the kitchen table. In 3 seconds flat I decided that when I grow up and become an adult, I will live in Laurelhurst.

Laurelhurst Park sits in the middle of my future neighborhood and I had wanted to go back but unfortunately my car goes on auto pilot any time I get close and insists upon parking right in front of Noble Rot. So what else can I do but run inside for a lingering glass of my new favorite wine? Inevitably it ends up too late and while I like to consider myself a strong kick ass kind of gal, I am actually quite terrified of being outside alone at night. I'm sure it stems from reading books about Ted Bundy when I was a teenager. No, no Laurelhurst Park at night would just not do. I would have to wait for a day just like today.

The Mutt and I woke up early and both ran outside--her to sniff and do her business and me to see if the promised sun had made it out. It had! We jumped in the car and headed over to the park and spent an hour wandering around the pond, looking at the ducks and meeting other dog walkers. I love parks right in the middle of the city--Balboa Park in San Diego, Central Park in Manhattan, Discovery Park in Seattle, Washington Park in Portland. But Laurelhurst Park you get my vote for a new contest ... my new favorite park. I feel it's just as important to "love locally" as it is important to "eat locally" ... even if you do have to drive to get there.

I reluctantly pulled away from Laurelhurst (with a swing by Noble Rot juuuust to see if they were open, which they weren't damn it) to head back to my own 'hood for the inevitable weekend errand running when I popped into the grocery store. Just as the clerk was ringing up my last item, I grabbed a Gourmet magazine and threw it in for good measure.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Search for the Perfect Pizza

There are a few things I am constantly on the lookout for--the perfect pizza, the perfect burger, the perfect guy ... you know, the usual. Some may call the quest for "perfection" futile, or some kind of Type A indicator but what I've found out about "perfection" is that all it means is what is perfect for you--so what is perfect for one probably isn't going to be what is perfect for another. Which is WAY less intimidating ... and probably something that would have been helpful to know growing up a fair skinned brown eyed, brown haired girl in Southern California. But I digress ...

So I had moved to Portland. Check. Had a job. Check. Found an apartment. Check. Had moved in. Semi-check. It was now time to get down to business. An old friend had road tripped up with me and was hanging out for a few days to see the Portland sites. So we cracked open the guidebook looking for a place to go to dinner and were pointed in the direction of a great pizza place--Bridgeport Brew Pub. It was in the "up and coming" Pearl District, had hops growing on the outside of the building and cool old picnic tables inside. You could get a pint and a decent slice of pizza. But best of all, when we walked in it reminded us of Pizza Port, a local San Diego pizza joint where we used to congregate with friends for pitchers, pizza and a few rounds of Crazy Taxi. Finding Bridgeport Brew Pub was warm and encouraging--eventually I'd meet Portland peeps and when I did, we would have a place to congregate.

Some time later, I'd take some friends there. The outside of the building looked the same, but the inside was all different. I was VERY confused and asked the hostess if I had walked into the wrong place. Nope, turned out Bridgeport had gone through a major remodel--it now had an open loft feel with high ceilings, black railings and the picnic tables were long gone. Unfortunately their their menu was gone as well--and it was no longer the place I remembered. The quest was back on. (Side Note: A friend of mine actually does eat here quite regularly and swears by their burger, I'm sure I'll go back once I recover from the shell shock.)

So the quest was back on ...

Yesterday a group of us ordered in Hot Lips Pizza and I've got to say, I was pleasantly surprised. The crust was thin, but still doughy, the sauce was sweet but fresh and the pie had a good blend of cheese that was crisped in all the right places. The slices of pepperoni and mushroom were generous. I have no idea what the ambience in this place looks like, or if you can get a beer. Even if you can't, I will definitely try it again ... especially if they have Crazy Taxi. A girl can always hope ...

Friday, February 15, 2008

105.1 Made Me Do It

Every afternoon I listen to 105.1 "The Buzz" as I'm driving home (and simultaneously ruining the environment). I love Daria, Mitch and Producer Ted. So much so that when my old college roommates were visiting they asked if they had been replaced as every time we got in the car I promptly turned the radio up and listened to my "new" friends rather than my old ones.

So today D, M & PT were discussing song lyrics and which songs you butchered as a kid and didn't realize until adulthood. I don't really remember any of my own, but the aforementioned former college roommates had a couple. I'll use their nicknames to protect the guilty:

Spleen: Beastie Boy's lyric "my mom threw away my best pair of cords." Actual lyric? "My mom threw away my best porno mag."

Digs: Elton John lyric "hold me close I'm trying to daaance ... nah." Actual lyric? "Hold me close now tiny dancer."

I think part of the reason I never butchered the lyrics was because I had this pre-teen habit of listening to music OVER and OVER again for hours while lying on my bed staring up at the ceiling and imagining a life full of love and romance and being swept off my feet. I remembered this swooning period in my life when 105.1 queued up "Glory of Love" from the Karate Kid.

"Glory of Love" by Peter Setera melted my 12 year old little heart. I would press rewind and play repeatedly on my tape deck to get it to the very beginning of the song ... the song I recorded off the radio, of course. Then I would fall back on my bed, dream of a Jake Ryan clone picking me up from school in his red Porsche (when I was old enough, of course) and taking me back to his house where he had made me a birthday cake (I obviously had seen 16 Candles a few times). And so I decided to put together a little play list of what made me swoon when I was 12. Don't blame me, blame my new friends Daria, Mitch and Ted.

1) "Glory of Love" by Peter Setera.
2) "Always" by Atlantic Star.
3) "Somebody" Depeche Mode
4) John Reeves (a little skater punk at my school)
5) Eden & Cruise Castillo from Santa Barbara.
6) Anne of Green Gables falling in love with Gilbert Blythe
7) Any book that starred a girl, a horse and a popular boy who discovered he loved the horsebackriding girl.
8) Any movie starring Molly Ringwald.
9) Duran Duran
10) 15th Street in Del Mar
11 - infinity (even still) Jake Ryan

It's okay to sigh ... I just did too.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

I looooooove Valentine's Day. I was getting coffee with a co-worker this week and we both read our horoscopes. Mine said "You're too romantic ..." and some other stuff that I can't remember. I just looked at her and said "Too romantic? That's like saying you're too rich, too good in bed or too good of a cook, there is no such thing!" She just looked at me and said: "maybe it's because you're the only person ANY of us know that actually likes Valentine's Day."


Seriously? Folks, what is there not to like? The whole month of February is full of pink and red, sweets and treats, hearts and flowers and um ... can we say CHOCOLATE?! Everyday should be Valentine's Day! I know, I know, us girls can be kind of hard to read and if you're a guy there probably is a certain amount of pressure built up around this holiday. I get it.

So everyone take a deep breath and calm down. I promise it's going to be okay (and this is coming from a single person who still loves the holiday, so it IS actually possible). I learned this from a group of people we should listen to more ... first graders, they're pretty wise little suckers.

So I do some volunteer work in a first grade classroom. Once a month me and some stuffy finance peeps go and hang out with a bunch of precocious six year olds in a local low income neighborhood. The idea is to expose the kids to more one on one adult time and hopefully inspire them to become cool and happy adults with jobs that make them feel as though they have a sense of purpose. In a nutshell, we try and inspire them to become the exact opposite of us. Not surprisingly, I've found that most of the time I leave wishing I could be more like a six year old.

So today went a little something like this: Enter classroom. Dole out treat bags full of candy and Fantastic Four Valentine's Day cards. Watch kids read said cards and then promptly dive into the candy bags for the Tounge Tattoo Fruit Roll Ups. Spend the next five minutes having six year olds stick their blue tounges out at you. Watch sugar filled kids as they bounce around the classroom. Get a little touched when one offers you his chair. Realize said chair was offered so you would read his favorite book to him. Read his favorite book to him. Smile when he says thank you for coming. Melt a little. Tear up when he says thank you for being so fun. Melt a lot. Hug.

So break out your #2 pencils, here's a little Valentine's Day Primer:

1) Know your audience.
2) Bring said audience something they like.
3) Find something you can do together.
4) Thank them for being so fun.
5) Hug.

Happy Valentine's Day!

"Too" Romantically Your's,
Sometimes Serendipitous Girl

Monday, February 11, 2008

Baseball Girl

I am a baseball girl. I love it. I dream about it. I cry when the season ends. I count down the days to opening day. I even ... wait for it ... watch it on TV.

I KNOW! I can hear you. "It's boring!" "I can go to games but I could NEVER watch it on TV." "There's no action." "I like basketball." "I live in Italy and zer ees no sport but FUT-bol!" I KNOW, I KNOW, I KNOW. But baseball I love you anyway.

As we (meaning me) count down the days to pitchers and catchers reporting to camp (Valentine's Day--can we say coincidence?!) I feel it's important to pledge my love to the greatest sport of all time.

And here they are, the top nine reasons that I love baseball (and yes, I can think of ten, but there are nine innings in baseball ... unless you count the game that went 20 innings in Seattle that I stayed up until 1 a.m. listening to on the radio)

1) It's a Classic - I don't remember much of high school, but I do remember when one of my high school english teachers was asked the question "why do we study the classics?" His response? "We study the classics because they do not go away, the generations will not let them go away. The classics do not die." I'm sure I was probably thinking something along the lines of: "Wow, Vanilla Ice must be a classic because 'Ice Ice Baby' will be listened to for generations! That's rad." The last thing on my mind was baseball. But now I understand. Baseball was played on neighborhood streets 200 years ago and is still played on streets today. It can take a beating, but the generations have not let baseball go.

2) Pitching - I know it doesn't look like much. Guy on the pitcher's mound throws a ball, guy at home plate tries to hit it. End of story, right? Wrong. I learned this when the Padres were in the 1998 World Series. EVERYTHING hangs on one pitch. The game can change with ONE pitch. Good pitchers can make a ball fly past a batter at 98 miles per hour, the next pitch they can slow them down to the mid 80's. The balls can come inside, just kiss the plate on the outside, they can bomb them in low or come in high. It's a miracle anyone ever hits one. Most of the time they don't. That's where stats come in.

3) Statistics - I hate math but I love baseball stats. There are statistics for EVERYTHING--match ups between pitchers and hitters, leftys vs. rightys, home games vs. away games, and that's not even the tip of the iceberg. I love the thought of guys compiling statistics that will be around long after any of us are here. 50 or 60 years from now people will be looking at Tony Gwynn's stats and seeing if they can beat them. It's a way to compare the game over the ages. A way to compare A-Rod to Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds to Babe Ruth or Barbara Walters to Babe Ruth ... you see what I mean?

4) Stadiums - Do you notice that any movie that's shot in Boston or New York inevitably has a scene of the city from the air? You don't have to look closely to see Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium--they're lit up like Fourth of July fireworks. Stadiums are beautiful, set like jewels in the concrete jungles and that's what baseball calls home. Baseball is a game played throughout the summer and I dare you to not get into it--sit out in the Sunday afternoon sun, gorgeous field in front of you, ice cold beer in one hand and the energy of the crowd buzzing around you. Summer wouldn't be summer without baseball, baseball wouldn't be baseball without stadiums.

5) Failure - This is a game where you fail most of the time. A good hitter only hits the ball 3 out of 10 times. But that doesn't keep the guys from stepping up to the plate. The season is brutal, over 160 games, it's a given you're not going to win them all but these guys still come to the field every day playing as if they can. Kind of like me trying to catch the MAX every day.

6) Head - Yes, I'm sure the players get a lot of it (just making sure you're still paying attention!) but this is a sport that you've got to keep your mind out of (and yes, English teacher, that's improper use of grammar). You know that phrase "keep your head in the game?" Yeah, that didn't come from baseball. "Keep your eye on the ball" did. But, I digress. You can analyze pitchers or hitters, plays and defense, but once you get on the field you've got to play, shut your mind off and just play. A players greatest slump can come from when he's over thinking. Kind of like us ladies who wonder if "he's" going to call after a date (which I've NEVER done, by the way).

7) Loyalty - Doubt fans loyalty? Ask anyone in New York over the age of 55 about the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn. Walter O'Malley is still one of the most hated men in baseball. The Dodgers moved to L.A. in 1958, 50 years ago! See, New York fans were nuts even then (I say that with all due respect of course). Side Note: If you want to read one of my favorite books of all time, read Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin, she's a baseball girl too.

8) Stories - Like the classics, baseball is full of amazing stories--both fictional and non-fictional. Men like Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson Roberto Clemente, Ted Williams. Books like The Natural or movies like Field of Dreams. The reason? Baseball is a perfect metaphor for life--you start off at home, fail miserably until you get one of your few shots, run the bases until you finally score. But the only way you score? By coming home again and bringing your teammates along with you.

9) Magic - Ask a Red Sox fan about how they felt when the Red Sox won the World Series, anyone who was watching (regardless of their thoughts of the man) when Barry Bonds hit that historic home run, all of those Brooklyn fans who finally saw the Dogers win the World Series in Ebbets Field, any pitcher, spectator or player who was part of a perfect game. Ask the writers of literature centered around baseball, announcers who call each game or even your local newspaper reporter and they'll all have a story of "that one time when ..." when it seems like there is no way someone can make that shot, or win that game, or sweep that team, when it all looks dark and like you're going to have to pack it up and go home. But then, in that moment, in that split second, that one pitch or hit or strike, magic happens, preparation has met opportunity and it's as if every single molecule in the earth pushes together to get that ball over the wall, or push the runner across the bag faster than he can be tagged--that moment when it all comes together just like you want it to and in that moment, it affirms that what we want can happen and you can't wait to step up to the plate and make it happen again.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I Hate Sunday Nights

What is it about Sunday nights? And please, if there is anyone else out there that likes them--go away, I just don't think I can take your positivity. Just kidding, please tell me why. Perhaps you can rub off on me.

I remember always struggling with Sunday nights, even as a kid. I swear it gets dark two hours earlier than any other night of the week. In college we raged against the Sunday night blues by watching cheesy network movies. They had to have two things in common--1) they had to star a former 90210 actor and 2) the aforementioned 90210 actor had to be in peril. If we couldn't find a network that fit the bill we'd pretend that we were going to drive down to Pacific Beach and get tatoos (for real this time) or run across the street and steal something out of our neighbor's house. Don't worry, they were just a bunch of college guys and didn't miss anything ... except for the time we stole the remote. Family photos? We had them for weeks. Remote? They were over in .2 minutes.

When we were all working and building our careers, we had Sunday night dinners. Every Sunday we'd rotate houses. If the dinner was at your house you'd make an appetizer, main course and dessert and you'd also have to clean up. If you were a guest, you'd bring a bottle of wine. The cool thing was that there were eight of us, so you'd only have to cook once every couple of months. It was the perfect evening--wine filled, chatty, sometimes philosophical, and always fun. Yes, I'd usually have a hangover Monday morning, but it was worth it. Mondays suck enough as it is, might as well have a reminder of a fun evening.

So this is what I propose. I say we do away with Sunday nights. How, you ask? Rally your employers and tell them you want a 4 day work week. Not only will we have Mondays off, but we won't have the Sunday night funk of having to go to work the next day! It's genius. It will sweep the nation! We will be well rested, commerce will be energized the world will be a happier more peaceful place. That is of course until ... Monday night.


Friday, February 8, 2008

Blue Plate

I am currently dreaming of spring.

Last April I walked under a perfect canopy of cherry blossoms on the trees that line the road to my house. I photographed them with my cell phone camera, trying anything not to let that moment of early April go. I long for spring to burst forth with her bright yellow daffodils and pale pink tulips. She may come slowly to Portland but Spring never disappoints--strawberries are picked at their peak, minor league baseball begins and weekly festivals at the waterfront start to queue up. More importantly, spring holds the promise of warmth after a long Portland winter.

But for now, it is early February and not only does it feel like it's going to rain every day from now until April, it probably will ... and no, I'm not kidding. Warmth needs to be found elsewhere and not just any kind of warmth, but the kind that gives you the cozy feeling of sipping hot cocoa in front of the fire when you're curled up with a good book. When I just can't take the rainy day grays any more and my boss looks at me strangely for suggesting a hot cocoa/reading hour, I head over to Blue Plate for lunch.

Blue Plate is a teeny little place tucked away on Washington St. in downtown Portland. Blink and you may miss it, come back and they might be closed. Open from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday Blue Plate caters to the downtown lunch crowd and serves up diner favorites like meatloaf and pot roast. My favorite? The grilled cheese sandwich and cream of tomato soup--a rainy day classic. I don't know if it's the Dum Dum suckers on the tables, the old wood bar or the homemade milkshakes that make this place a bright spot during the dark Northwest winters. Whatever it is, I don't care. Just hand over the chocolate and peanut butter milkshake ... no wait, make that strawberry--sweet, pale pink and perhaps ... a new kind of bliss while I wait for spring to bloom.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Random Exchange at the Office

I mentioned before that I work in an office full of a bunch of guys ... and we work in finance, so we're all pretty much geeks ... and get bored frequently. They find it important to break up the monotony by shooting down stacks of pennies with gargantuan rubber bands, I find it necessary to educate them in areas where I feel they're lacking. Today's clasroom went as follows:

A: What does R.S.V.P. stand for?
Sometimes Serendipitous Girl: Repondez si'l vous plait ... and by the way, people aren't very good at repondez-ing anymore.
A: I know, what's up with that?
SSG: I don't know, that was like day one at cotillion.
A, R, J & K all pipe up in unison: Cotillion, what's cotillion?
SSG: You guys didn't have cotillion, where you learn how to dance and they teach you manners?
A, R, J & K pipe up again in unison: Uh, no.
SSG: You know, guys learn how to open doors and pull out chairs, girls learn how to courtsy and what fork to use.

(Long pause)

K: So wait, wait, wait ... they taught you how to fork?
J: So that's where girls learn how to spoon.
SSG: No, spooning was after forking and the guys learned too.
R: Yeah, but the guys never did like spooning.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Red Bull, Eddie Bauer and a Dream

I was driving home tonight (yes, I woke up too late to take the MAX again!) when I spied a Mini Cooper on the road behind me. This wasn't just any Mini Cooper, this one was Red Bull's Mini Cooper. The only reason I knew that was because it had "RED BULL!" blazoned in red on its sides with diagonal blue and silver stripes to make it even less conspicuous. Just to be sure there wasn't any question that this was not your everyday Mini Cooper, this one had an ENORMOUS CAN OF RED BULL on the top! Seriously? Is the "Red Bull Gives You Wings" campaign not enough? Do you have to recruit more trampy little girls to drink Red Bull and vodkas out at the bars every night? I felt so bad for the guy driving that had I not been on the freeway I would have rolled down my window thrown my business card at him and encouraged him to apply ... or call me (only if he was super cute and promised not to pick me up in that monstrosity of course).

But I was on the freeway ... so alas, my thoughts reverted back to me and my own string of shitty jobs. I could count my shitty jobs on one hand ... even if I only had three fingers (which I don't, I have five ... on each hand, just in case you were wondering). But the all time shittiest was working for Eddie Bauer. I didn't even work in the stores! I worked at their call center and had to ... I cringe even typing it ... wear a Bobby Brown headset and take catalog orders from Eddie Bauer, Newport News and Seigel's catalogs. You haven't lived until you've been asked if someone can get a cash advance off her Newport News card.

Khaki, loafer and seersucker fans don't despair, it wasn't the company itself. I was working two jobs trying to get ahead a bit and was so exhausted that I could have been working as a writer in Paris and still would have hated it. Well that, and the manager (gasp!) DIDN'T LIKE ME. For the limited amount of jobs I had, everyone ALWAYS liked me--bosses, customers, co-workers, everyone--except the team leader at Eddie Bauer, who criticized the length of time I spent on the phone (what about customer service?!), chastised me for sending an order to a customer's sister (but they lived at the same house!) and looked down her nose at my "upsells" (but those shoes are UGLY, I can't in good faith offer them to someone!). I suffered through, every night from 6 - 11 p.m. five nights a week through the summer until finally I just couldn't take it--the long days, the commute home, the upselling and the perverts. Yes, you read that right. The perverts.

No, EB does not have perverts that work for them ... that I could have handled, and at that time in my life probably would have welcomed. EB just had high school and college kids who called me "B" and rolled so deep in their chairs that Team Lead Beeeyooootch would have to come by and tell them to sit up straight and of course throw a little "Upsell!" at me on her way back to her hole, I mean desk. EB has perverts that REPEATEDLY call in to the center and raise hell with the pious little telephone operators who are just trying to make a few extra bucks. We got warned about these guys (and gals!) in training, which of course I didn't believe for a minute. Surely they had to be mistaken. Victoria's Secret or Fredricks we were not. Who could possibly get fired up over cotton pique floor length dresses and oxford shirts? So you can imagine my surprise when I got my first call--I promptly freaked out, hung up and shook violently before laughing hysterically. After a few months of no sleep, bordering on the verge of depression and a nervous breakdown, I started to wonder about them all and would chat with them ... under the guise of "upselling" of course, I had to get those numbers up!

1) The Shoe Guy - I picture the shoe guy as a cross dresser that lived somewhere in middle America and his only outlet was to dress up in a women's jean jacket, put on some lipstick and call Eddie Bauer to talk about shoes with his girlfriends. He sounded a little bit like the freaky guy in Silence of the Lambs (you know the one "It puts the lotion in the basket.") and would ask if we sold Candi's sling backs. Our conversations went like this:

Shoe Guy: "Uh, hiiiii. Do you have Candi's sling backs?"
B: Does Candi's make slingbacks?
Shoe Guy: Yesssss, they're fabulous. They have a black patent leather upper and a wood sole? You've never seen them?
B: No! But I bet they're adorable. We don't have any though. Can I offer you a nice loafer?
Shoe Guy: No ... you sound nice.
B: Thanks! How about a fleece pullover?
Shoe Guy: No ... have you ever heard of Bath and Body Works cucumber melon body lotion?
B: I have, if you like that you'd probably LOVE our pleated jeans.
Shoe Guy: I bet you're from California ... you have lovely feet, don't you? You get pedicures, don't you?
B: I do!
Shoe Guy: I thought so.
B: Ok, well sorry about the sling backs but good luck finding them, take care!

Inevitably a few minutes later the message boards would be blazing "Shoe Guy calling in!! BEWARE!!! Shoe Guy is out!!!! LOOK OUT!!!" I never told on you though, Shoe Guy. I was from California ... and I do get pedicures and you never creeped me out like the "Khaki Girl."

2) Khaki Girl - Ok, I'm going to stereotype, I don't think of women as pervs. Certainly not youngish sounding women and certainly not women who wear khakis?

Khaki Girl: Um hi, can I return pants after I bought them?
B: You can. But if you don't like those pants can I offer you a nice rugby shirt?
Khaki Girl? I can? Return my pants?
B: You can! So what do you say about that rugby shirt?
Khaki Girl: But what if I've worn them already?
B: No problem! Just bring them into a store and they'll refund your money. If you don't like the idea of a rugby shirt, what about a down vest?
Khaki Girl: So if I've worn them, you'll take them back?
B: Yeah (starting to get suspicious). Down parka perhaps? It will be cold soon.
Khaki Girl: Well, do you wash them?
B: (What the f ... ) Well, ... I don't, but I'm sure someone does. Hello? Lovely down parka for sale! Northwest winter ... chilly ... cold ... brrr.
Khaki Girl: So I might have tried on some pants that someone else has worn?
B: (Ewww!) Ummmm ...
Khaki Girl: So my ...
B: Click.

Calls are funny like that sometimes, they just ... drop. Poor khaki girl ... I never could think up a personna for her, I was too weirded out. And I'd still recognize your voice khaki girl ... and yes, that WAS me hanging up on you after I heard your pervy little voice asking if you could return pants. Then again ... if anyone ever got hung up on by a rep at Eddie Bauer in the late 90's when asking about their return policy, I'd like to apologize on behalf of the company.

And last but not least ... there was Mr. Short Black Skirt who by the time he rolled around I was so jaded and my finger so calloused from hanging up on Khaki Girl, nothing could shock me. You still hold the title as the only Eddie Bauer customer whoever hung up on me!

SBS: Helloooo, do you guys sell short (pause), black (pause) skirts?
B: Nope.
SBS: Are you suuuuuurrrrre? I'm ... looking ... for a ... short ... black ... skirt.
B: Sorry ... we don't have any and certainly not any for men.
SBS: (Sighs) Ok, well do you sell skirts?
B: We do! Will this be a gift?
SBS: Okay (obviously irritated) what kind of skirts do you sell?
B: Denim and khaki.
SBS: Oh ...
B: Not what you were looking for?
SBS: No, I'm looking for ... short ... black ...
B: Yeah, we don't have those, just the denim and the khaki.
SBS: (Hopeful) Well how short are they?
B: Long ... veeeerrrry long
SBS: If you were to sit down, how far do they ride up?
B: (Trying not to hurl) To your ankle.
SBS: (Sigh) You guys don't have ANY short skirts?
B: Here let me look (rustle the catalog for a good 60 seconds). Nope, sorry. Do you want to hear about our limited edition boat shoes?
SBS: Click.

So to those of you who currently have shitty jobs ... take heart, you won't have them forever. I wish for you normal cars to drive, phones free of pervs and a lexicon that doesn't include the word "upsell." Dream big!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

My Jeffrey

Some friends were in town with their daughter the other weekend and as we were wandering Alberta Street looking in shops when the conversation inevitably went to why I was still single. "We need to find you your Jeffrey," my friend said.

Of course she was referring to Jeffrey, The Barefoot Contessa's husband, and no one we actually know. I love The Barefoot Contessa and her recipes, but some of my favorite times on her show are when she's driving around with Jeffrey, packing them a picnic or meeting him on the beach for a walk. This weekend showed the couple celebrating their 39th wedding. 39 years! It occurred to me that Ina and Jeffrey were not 75 years old, but probably in their late 50's or early 60's and that they had been married YOUNG. It didn't help prior to that that I had watched Downhome with the Neely's, a new show on Food Network, where the starring couple met when they were 15!

I think of what I was doing at 15 ... or in my late teens and early twenties and how NOT ready for marriage I was. At 15 I was drinking Jungle Juice on the weekends at parties I had no business being at and dancing to Bob Marley's Legend album. My late teens and early twenties I was in college and while I had more business drinking jungle juice, by then I had switched to Zima's and pitchers of beer on campus or at the local pizza place. There were guys during that span of time, sure, but any of them my Jeffrey? Would they really have appreciated multi course dinner parties, picnics in Paris and a roast chicken every Friday night? Yeah, I don't think so either.

It seems less like I dated guys and more that I dated stereotypes--the skateboarder/potsmoker, the bad boy, the football player, the baseball player, the writer, the gang member, the smart slacker. Each one was fun for the time but any of them marriage material? Certainly not at that point. But there was one guy ... Ryan ... that may have had it ...

Ryan sat behind me in math class my junior year in high school. I don't think I noticed him once. He used to stay up and watch late night TV and barely make it to class in the morning, I used to focus on applying lipgloss in an even layer while looking in a tiny Cover Girl mirror. I finally noticed him our senior year in high school. I had taken a speech and debate class and for extra credit could go watch a speech and debate tournament ... and get out of my afternoon classes. Sign me up! Ryan somehow had also joined the debate team, despite never talking, and was in the aforementioned tournament. I ended up watching his debate.

Ryan was tall, thin, dressed in a suit with short red hair--not your typical high school senior. He was also very pale, not your typical San Diegan. This was going to be bad. I could tell. How could he debate when I wasn't sure he could even speak? The affirming side took their stance, she led off with a confident speech for a few minutes and then turned the mike over to Ryan. I was already embarassed for him and could feel my stomach getting tighter.

He calmly took the mike, addressed his opponent and the judges, and launched into the opposing side. I had no idea what to do except stare and try and keep my mouth shut. Out of this tall boy came the voice of a man--deep, confident, strong. This supposedly meek high school geek turned into an aggressive orator. I was sucked in. We started hanging out all the time. I even (gasp) joined the speech and debate team so I could be near him and go to tournaments together on the weekends.
We talked every night on the phone until the wee hours of the morning, hung out on the weekends and smiled at each other between classes. BUT WE NEVER EVEN KISSED.

Between his nerves and my inability to make the first move--we always hovered that line between friends and becoming more. Later on we would talk about how strange it was that we never got together--but by that time he had a girlfriend and I was busy flirting with the idea of college guys. A couple years later I would see him one weekend in Berkeley and I heard through the grapevine that he went to Georgetown for law school and then moved to L.A. I'm sure he is married and has all kinds of smart kids and a brilliant wife. But! He doesn't know that he still holds the title to what probably was my best date.

Just outside of San Diego is a little community called Julian known for their apple pie. Ryan picked me up early one morning so we could go. I had spied a book in a bookstore in Julian that I wanted and he offered to drive me (an hour away) to get it. I just assumed we'd run up, grab the book and head home. But while there he asked if I wanted to walk around a bit, and then grab some lunch ... and then on our way home if I wanted to come hang out at his house for a while ... and then while at his house, if I wanted to catch a movie that night. Here was this sweet guy who drove me home so I could take a shower and change my clothes only so he could come and pick me up to take me to dinner and a movie. We started the day early in the morning and ended it late at night. Sure a kiss could have been the icing on the cake but at that time in my little life, the thought that a smart, kind, well spoken, cute guy wanted to spend an entire day with me and couldn't say goodbye has been in the back of my mind on a lot of dates.

So maybe my Jeffrey he wasn't, but future Jeffrey if you're reading this ... yes, a picnic in Paris would be great, but sometimes a girl just needs to know you don't want to let her go. Oh yeah, and make sure to kiss her, would ya?

Friday, February 1, 2008

My Mangy Mutt

I knew I wanted a dog since ... oh, I don't know ... birth. I was equally boy and animal crazy growing up. We always had a family dog and I also had a horse, so there was the inevitable influx of animals on the ranch where I boarded my horse--kittens, puppies, geese, you name it, we had it and I tried to bring every baby version of whatever animal I could home. To which my practical mother always said "nope." I'm sure that did nothing to fuel the already burning fire.

But then college entered the picture and you can't have a dog in the dorms, or in the house you share with roommates who don't share your canine fascinations. So finally years later and after buying my first place in Portland, I decided this was the time. I was going to go "just look" for a puppy at the Humane Society.

Walking through the Humane Society in Portland is actually not as depressing as I thought it was going to be. It's a bright, large, well run organization and the dogs all appered to be happy, clean and ready to find good homes. I wanted to say yes to all of them, and had I not gotten distracted, I probably would have.

I turned the corner of one of the aisles and ran smack dab into a huge pen of chubby yellow puppies all of whom were rolling on top of each other, barking and jumping and were quite possibly the cutest sight I've ever seen. All of a sudden one puppy came from the back of the pen and walked to the glass, right in front of me looking at me the entire time and then sat down and cocked her head as if to say "you ready to go?"

I asked the volunteer if I could see her, picked her up and cuddled her in my arms for a little while before asking her if she wanted to come home with me. At that question she literally put both of her paws on my face and gave me a wholehearted lick. Done deal. Two days later I had my puppy.

I'm sure there will be many stories of my mutt on this blog as she constantly charms me, cracks me up, drives me crazy and comforts me. The last couple of days I've been home with the flu--a coughing mess with no voice and runny eyes and a lack of ability to do anything other than sleep or watch movies I've already seen 100 times. But she's been here the whole time, curled up at my feet, poking her head up when I have a bad coughing spell and resting her head on my leg when it's over.
And so, to those of you fellow dog lovers, you know as well as I do--not only do they choose us, but they take care of us way more than we take care of them.