Monday, December 31, 2012

Year's End

It's December 31st, the end of the year.  I'm feeling a bit reflective, and perhaps a bit morose, as is so common this time of year. My thoughts and attention are split between memories of the past year and hope for the one coming.

I'm not sure exactly what I thought moving back to the US would bring. I moved back in part to be near my family; my mom left the state and my sister and I are about as close now as we were when I lived half the world away.
I thought I'd go into the EMR field.  The money and work is good. . . when there is work.  I've spent almost as much time without work/between contracts as I have working.
I moved back to date, hoping to meet a man to be a part of my life.  I suppose I could go back and count the first dates from 2012.  It wasn't quite The Year of a Thousand First Dates, but it felt like it.  I don't feel much closer to finding someone I want to keep around.

I have made some great friends this year. Friends who I've hiked and kayaed and snowshoed with.  Who have enjoyed beer in multiple venues with.  Friends who I hope will be around a while.  I've also managed to keep in touch with a very few really important ones who live farther away than I'd like.

I have had some new experiences: International Beerfest, Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, flying on the company dime, lots of really horrible first dates.

I've filled a lot of days with the hum drum details that fill most people's lives.  Cooking, cleaning, walking the dog, watching hulu, blogging, commuting, dreaming, planning.

I don't see anything of note on the horizon in 2013 right now.  It will undoubtedly be more of the same.  Some of that same being fifteen minutes of cat in my lap meditations, communiting with nature on land and in the sea, organizing and reorganizing the house.  Some of it will be tears, loneliness, and heartache.  Books and movies, restaurants and bars, and lots of other fluff that no one, not even me, will recall at this time next year.

There will be a couple resolutions: less sugar and pop, more exercise.  Simple stuff that I will try to implement in miniscule increments to make them stick.

It's always about ten am on New Years Day that I get a little pang of disappointment.  There is always an expectation that when the sun rises on January 1st, the world will be different.  That maybe I'll be different.  That the sun will sparkle and dreams will come true.  I'm a realist.  I know that's not even going to be the case. I intellectually understand that. I can comprehend that  this expectation is an unrealistic and ludicrous one . . . yet it happens every year. I know it's coming.  In a moment of silence, I push it down the staircase and wait for it to hobble back up by the end of next year. At which point, I am obliged to push it back down.

To any of you who are actively in my life and read this, thank you. I'll see you next week for beers, or in February for a beach break, or when the trails melt.  I thank serendipity for the chance to have met you, my own good sense for having kept you around and I thank you for being fantastic.

Good luck in 2013, because a little luck never hurts ;)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Zen Driving

I am generally a mellow driver.  I wasn't always. When I was younger (and arguably dumber) I drove aggressively.  I tailgated slow drivers, I swerved around people, I took off from every stop like I was in a race.  As I've aged, I've mellowed.  I leave enough space while driving on the freeway that I usually get people jumping in front of me, even when I'm in the fast lane.  I only jam on my horn when someone is being exceptionally stupid or dangerous. I don't race everywhere. There are worse things in the world than being five or ten minutes late due to traffic.

All that being said, I hate stupid drivers.  There are two major classes, excluding the Seattle specific issue of being unable to drive in rain, snow or any other form of precipitation that falls from the sky. 

ONE: The dangerous, ridiculous ones.  Like the guy who made a U-turn in the mouth of the freeway on ramp. Like the one who made a three point turn in the middle of a two lane road.  Like anyone who is oblivious to the fact that there are other people on the road and after making a wrong turn/missing a turn/oopsing, they don't follow through the mistake and get off the road to get turned around. Instead, they insist on bringing everyone else to a halt so they didn't have to go another five minutes out of their way to correct their mistake.

TWO: Speed and speedless demons.  Like most people, when someone goes flying by on the freeway at 95, I shake my head and hope I'm far away when they crash, which they inevitably will. I get angry when someone decided to legislate speed.  If the sign says 35 MPH on a road in town, that is what everyone expects you to be doing.  Not 20, not 25.  Driving too slow is just as dangerous as too fast.  The speed limits give us all expectations.  No one assumes someone to be dragging ass when they time their turns into and out of the road. Additionally, the folks doing 60 on I-5 in the left hand/fast lane.  I realize the speed limit is 60MPH but it's a big highway and speed is, for the most part, dictated by the congestion at any given time.  If the freeway is packed, the speed limit is about 15MPH.  If it's empty, the fast lanes moves about 70 or 75MPH.  Don't be an idjit and go 55 in the fast lane.  If you want to go 55, FINE! DO IT IN ANY OTHER LANE!!!

Recently, I've had my patience tested by other drivers.  In one drive home last week I saw six stalled or broken down cars (both in the lanes of traffic and on the side), plus two accidents.  This was a reminder of why I practice zen driving, keep up on my car maintenance and honk at people who are stupid.

Personally, I think we should institute a stupid driver marking program.  If you have gone three or more years without a violation you get a paintball gun with two colors of paint.  One color for speed/lack of speed issues, one for stupidity/unsafe practices.  If a perpetrator is driving too slow, light them up.  If they are texting while driving, light em up! and even if it doesn't equate to tickets, at least it lets other drivers know that person is a moron and to be avoided. Of course there will have to be some recourse for those with paintball guns who get lit up themselves.  While there is a part of my that understands paintballing moving vehicles isn't a safe practice either, I want there to be a public shaming!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bullets and Booze

Well, paintballs and cocktails but that doesn't have quite the same ring to it does it?

A couple months ago I hosted a beer night.  It was Oktoberfest-y in intention. Everyone had to bring beer to share, with the caveat that it couldn't be a run-of-the-Mill-Budwiser-Coors type. There are gads of great local microbrews.  Combine that with inports and other US small batch breweries and why would anyone drink anything else?  Not to mention I've got some friends who are beer connoisseurs.  Some call us beer snobs.  I say we are selective. The night has a brilliant success.

A small group of four were intrepid enough that we venture on the the battlefield for paintball.  None of us had ever played before and weren't quite sure what we were in for. Danielle and I both had the sense to layer up.  I think we both had three layers on top and bottom.  The boys didn't think quite that far ahead.  Brendan ended up in just jeans with a t-shirt and sweatshirt on top. 

I'd covered our entry with a zozi deal (like groupons) and we'd each paid our $25 for gun rental and paintballs.  We were chatting and talking about the battle to come as we waited for our safety briefing when a big guy walked over and told us not to get hit in the nipples. That it really really hurt. He then proceeded to whine about it while clutching his chest for the next few minutes.  We all started to question the decision to play paintball. We were still milling around when that same guy came back holding his neck advising us not to get hit there either. It was unanimous that we either needed to start or bail.

That was when we got our rules and regs speech by a kid who probably spent waaay to much time on the paintball field and was trying to nurse a few scraggly lip hairs into a mustache. Don't shoot each other within ten feet, keep your mask on NO MATTER WHAT, how to load the guns, yadda, yadda.

Our first match was on the advanced, authorized tournament course.  It turned out to be our least favorite.  The spots to hide behind were all little bouncy castles. We played two life elimination which means if you get hit once, you go back and touch base then get to go again until you are hit a second time.  In actuality what happened was I got hit once, went back to back, followed the advice of the scraggly mustache kid and got shot almost immediately.  As I retreated hands up to show I was already "dead" I then got pelted three more times. The rest of my group had the same experience.

I think I did improve.  It wasn't but a game or two later that I got my first kill.  A few games after that we were combined with several other groups to make bigger teams.  We were on the beginner course.  Brendan and I were on the far right side watching in front for targets and in quick succession were both hit in the left hip, from nearly behind. No one from our team went left when we started so we'd been flanked by the enemy. We were both rather cross about it. By the end Eddie had taken two shots to the head, Brendan one.  Most of us are sporting some very purple or at the least red bruises on our thighs.  I've got a large plum like one on my left bicep. Despite all that, I'd go again.

The final game was on the first course.  It's running around trees, in mud using simple plyboard standups as cover.  I managed a couple kill shots and ran two guns out of ammo without getting killed.

Muddy, bruised and telling tales of glory, we headed to my house to clean up.  Pizza was ordered and we waited for others to arrive. This time it was a cocktail party with a concept similar to the beer nigh.  Everyone bring a liquor.  I provided tools (shakers, jiggers, strainers, swizzle sticks), mixers and garnishes. Each participant was to have a recipe in mind and we'd share. 

Pineapple upside down shots, rootbeer floats & creamsicles (no ice cream!), mojitos, vesper martinis, the Mel's special, egg nog martinis, straight samples of grappa, tequila, and moonshine made for but some of the choices.

Part of the reason I can host these events is that I have enough soft surfaces to cushion the walking dead who are unfit to drive.  This time around that meant five extra extra folks.  I'm a bit embarrassed by what a terrible morning after host I was.  I did manage to get Danielle to Seattle for her Bolt Bus and Eddie made it to the church on time, as it were.

Chris mentioned that now, we must surely be due for a wine night, though I think I may need months to fully recover.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012


Sigh. . . .not the sad, exasperated, slightly mopey sigh.  A sigh of relief and relaxation.  That's how I feel after acupuncture (acu).

I first tried acu when I was having shoulder problems.  I swam on a club team and averaged minimum ten hours per week.  With flexibility over stability, it was only a matter of time before I was in (out and and back in and. . . ) to physical therapy.  I found an acupuncturist then, about eleven years ago.  I would go in for treatment that consisted of lying facedown on a massage table, having a dozen or so needles inserted, a heat table hovering over the needles and I would proceed to fall asleep.  I'd wake up with my muscles more relaxed and less pain. My sessions with this acupuncturist were limited as dictated by my insurance and funds at the time.
Indonesia seems like a good place and time to return to acupuncture but I never did.  I was afraid that my explanations in basic Indonesian would not prove sufficient.  When someone is sticking small sharp instruments in you, it's not the time for a miscommunication.  The second reason was that there were masseuses everywhere.  I could get an hour and a half, full body oil massage for about fifteen dollars, plus tip. It was close to my apartment. A girlfriend and I would go together for a salon day. Easy.

Now that I've returned to an English speaking country, I've returned to acupuncture.   A part of the reason I moved back was to be healthier.  Jakarta is a big dirty city.  It has some of the highest rates of pollution (land, air and sea) in the world.  There isn't anywhere to get outside for hiking, biking, etc, that's less than three hours away; and if the traffic is worse than usual, even longer.  My friends and I went out and ate and drank not only because it's fun but for lack of many other options.  Aside from travel, salon or pool days, eating and drinking are it! I moved back, bought some hiking boots, dug out my snowshoes, got in to kayaking and signed up for the gym (oh right, the gym.  A month away means I haven't been in six weeks.  Don't ask me about the math). I cut down on drinking and started to think about being healthier.

Acupuncture makes me feel good.  It can address issues that are more than skin/muscle deep.  I find that I usually sleep better and have more energy when I go to acu on a regular basis.  My mom asked me what makes it different from massage.  Now, before any of you masseuses jump down my throat, I am not taking anything away from massage. I do enjoy a good massage.  I have tried many different types, including Thai, Indian, Swedish, pressure point and several others.  I know there are great benefits to be had, and probably more than I've experienced. For me though, acu is king. It helps tackle issues like allergies, energy and headaches/migraines. When I go on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, these issues are all under control. I haven't been while I was away and I can tell.  I feel worse and my acupuncturist is using more needles per session (I'm a pincushion! but I don't mind in the least) to get back to neutral.  I feel grounded, more comfortable in my own body and relaxed. I've got a great acupuncturist, Natalie, who listens and had proven to be very competent. She knows what ongoing issues I have, asks probing questions when necessary and has a nice touch. We always chat and have a laugh.  I trust her with my care and I believe that goes a long way in my treatment.

Folks new to acupuncture are often turned off not because of direct pain, but because of sensations they falsely think is pain.  The needles used in acupuncture are thinner and lighter than the ones used for flu shots.  There shouldn't be pain when the needle is tapped in to place.  There can be an interesting sensation.  I've been told by more than one acupuncturist that I am particularly responsive to the needle.  I can give feedback on the sensations I get from different points.  Sometimes there is a warming or burning feeling, other times a tiny shock or tingle.  For the uninitiated, these sensations can be mistaken for pain. I challenge those individuals to think more carefully about what their body is actually telling them.

This has turned into quite a long blog.  I realize most of you readers will have trailed off long ago.  Positive articles about it b630-190a983a2e0d_story.html) abound as it's been show to be especially helpful to children and those in chronic pain.  Obamacare has left the option open to states to decide if they want to cover acupuncture. As community acupuncture has brought the price per treatment down (I pay $35 per 1.5 hour session), and Americans are looking for more ways to be healthy, acupuncture should rise to the forefront.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

2 months? Holy . .

It's infinitely interesting to me how time is so elastic and infinite and undefinable.  Yes, I suppose we as a people have defined it by breaking  time as a whole into days and hours and seconds. Yet there are episodes in life when time flies. When a year is gone and you haven't even lifted your head to see it zoom by the window.  There are other periods when a day lasts eons and even staring at the clock doesn't mean you can will it to drag by a tiny bit faster.

My life these days is a fairly random mix of these two I suppose.  I both knew it had been ages since I blogged and didn't really feel the time sliding by as it went. The last two months have been a bit chaotic, though not in an entirely undesirable way. 

Between October 30th and November 24th I spent only four days at home in Seattle. The rest was in Southern California.  First, a ten day trip to visit my mom and best friend Ana.  That was a chosen, vacation -type trip. I enjoyed my time there and trucked back home with a smile on my face.  The day after I arrived home I was contacted by a company, SSI, that I have been working with.  They needed someone to rush down to  California to help at a clinic.  Funny enough, it was the exact area my mom was working and only about 15 minutes from where Ana lives. More rants about this company later.  They sent me down to work in Torrance from Nov 11-16th.  I asked to have my flight back delayed a week as was able to spend Thanksgiving with my mom, stepdad and about twenty members (no exaggeration) of his family. It was nice to see them for the holiday since I had sworn I would not fly for turkey day.  Too many crazies.  Since my flight was the 11th, it was actually ok. I'll probably do a separate post about Thanksgiving.  At least it gives you a timeline for why I haven't blogged.

I returned home on the 25th and have been cleaning, recovering, shopping and seeing friends since. I know I need to get back to blogging; for my own benefit more than anyone else's. Blog you can expect to see this month:
Awful drivers
Online dating!!
Holidays - Thanksgiving and Christmas
More dating

Monday, October 01, 2012

Work is Hard

well, long anyway.

I have joined the productive members of the back breaking workers of America as one gainfully employed tutor.

I'm back at the hospital I had a training gig at but now I'm a tutor.  That means instead of training people how to use it, I get to try and pick up the pieces from their lousy trainer.  When the computer system is turned on, there need to be lots of tutors, like me, around to answer questions and report problems to IT. If IT and the trainers did their job, then I don't have to work myself to a frazzle. If they didn't, then. . .well, just don't plan to get ER style sick any time soon.

The good news about this job: It will probablys (hopefully) lead to bigger and better things in a month.  I don't want to jinx it so I'll say no more, but fingers crossed.
I get to see the project through.  I was there as a trainer the first two go-lives.  This is the last one and I get to experience it.
I'm in a different department, learning a different part of the system. 
I get to see all the folks I knew before!
Right now I'm on a month trial where I can see how they run things and if I really want to move up.  Because it's a trial I'm on an hourly rate which comes in with good and bad news.  I'm working six days a week, twelve hour days.  That's 72 hours a week or roughly  312 hours (with two training days) this month.  Great money, but hell on my social life.

Consider that your FYI folks.  With so many hours at work, there are less hours to be spent on the interwebs. The blog posts may be few and far between until November.

Today was day one and I was at the hospital for fourteen hours.  On that note, I bid you good night.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Interviews as Sexless Dates

Interviewing is like dating companies or recruiters.

You meet them online.  The first thing a smart girl does is google them and really give their profile on linkedin or careerbuilder a good once (or twice) over. I carefully consider the possibility it will be a good match.  Then, if we both see fit, we schedule an interview/date.

I dress up, spending time to look my best. I arrive a little early with butterflies in my stomach as  I face the semi-known. The interview/date starts with handshakes, small talk, and eases into more meaningful conversation. The next period of time flies by in a rush of nerves, questions, eye contact, nervous laughter.

Well. . .it's getting late. . .I should go . . .

We exchange niceties, shake hands, and part ways.  The drive home provides time for my racing mind to unravel what just happened.  Did they say that? What did that mean?  How does that mesh with my expectations and wants?  I call a friend to go over all the gory details and make a plan to go forward.  Pros and cons are laid out. Options suggested and considered. 

If it went well, I walk away with adrenaline rushing, a smile on my face and hope in my heart. Then it's just like dating.  I wait to get an email or phone call.  It never comes soon enough.  I both want the call to come and dread it.  If they aren't interested, it's a call that may never come because no one ever man's up and just says "that was a good interview/date but it's not quite what I am looking for.  Good luck in your search". No one can be bothered to let someone know, gently and nicely.  It's easier to vanish.

If it didn't, go so well then they end up on here as a tale to tell.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

General Date Fail Times Three

I've written about specific dating scenarios that went poorly.  There have been cringe worthy interactions, some that might have left you (and definitely left me) scratching my head. This is not that.  This is a scenario that's happened more than once, more than twice.  It's one I know you've all had. Here's how it would go:

I met Jon online.  His profile didn't make me jump up and run around but I like to give guys the benefit of the doubt. I've met some guys that are much more interesting and magnetic in person than they appear online. We emailed through the site then started texting.  We met in person.

He's nice, he's funny, he's gainfully employed, he's mildly funny, but. . . there's no spark.  On paper, he's a good maybe even a great guy.  He would probably be a great date and potentially a great boyfriend.  The catch is that there aren't any butterflies in my stomach.  I don't want to end the date with a make-out session. I could see that he would be a good friend, an activity partner, a whatever. 

What is it about the unknown, barely describable "thing" that someone must have?  It's an unmesurable, invisible quantity yet it's so important that I've had three first dates with good guys that I didn't see again because we didn't click.

Do you, fair reader, reckon that you can manufacture the "it" factor? That that "thing" can develop over time?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dodged a Bullet

Portland is off the table.

.    .     .    .     .

That was my sigh of relief you heard. While the option to move somewhere new and different always has an appeal, I'm not sure Portland and I would have been a match made in heaven.  More that we would have ended up on Maury Povich arguing about who hated who first and ending with one of use tackled by the security staff.  I'm not saying if it would have been PDX or me, but it would have been ugly.

After two days there I looked Danielle in the eye and said "I don't think I can move here".  She laughed and I reiterated with "No really.  I think it might be too much".  I moved to Spain a Catholic country with a pace that's glacial for any meaningful business, i.e. banking, official paperwork processing. I live in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country where I was awakened every day for months by the call to prayer of the mosque. Traffic meant it could take two hours to go four miles and the only beer was Heineken and it's local equivalent Bintang. I've spent weeks in countries where everything bites and the temperature and humidity are the same number.  I think I draw the line at Portland.

Here are some snippets of the notes I made on the music agenda. A lot of these seem to be directed at the hipsters, so only take them to heart if you are a hipster. And if you are, message me to seek treatment.

The 80's are gone.  Either know that you loved them and let them go or know that you will never get it because you're 15 and your elders are (or should be) wise enough not to allow you to repeat their mistakes.

There is one Zoey Deschanel. You aren't her.

There are lots of guys who look like pictures of my uncle from thirty years ago - a big, bad, dark beard, floppy semi-curly hair, skinny to the point of needing force feeding. He had thick black framed glasses, a strong Jewish nose (hey, I've got it too), and a general air of nerdy/unstylish. It wasn't good then I'd imagine, it was hilarious as kids when we saw the pictures and it's not ideal now. His style has changed, so should yours.

Why do you look so gay but bring your girlfriend to the concert?  If I saw you in Seattle, you 5'5" man in tight pink knee length shorts, white ironic/graphic tank, comb over, bracelet, purple raybans, teal keds with ankle socks, I would know you were at home in Seattle, probably Capitol Hill. In PDX, you insist on dragging your beard girlfriend around though neither of you exchange a word or seem attached to each other.

Come to think of it, most of you hipsters don't seem attached to anything.  You are decidedly detached from emotional response.  I don't know if you're all high or have spent too many years abusing your livers but I swear a smile or facial expression is a normal part of existence.

I realize that burning bras had it's day.  As far as I know, bras are plentiful.  There are lots of them around in different colors and styles and price ranges.  There is no excuse then to go without.  Floppy and wiggly is something that should be saved for jello molds. Bright pink bras should go under bright shirts, not flimsy white ones. Bra straps are not a fashion accessory despite what some magazines and manufacturers produce. If you are wearing a tube top, buy a strapless bra. That's a requirement not a suggestion.

Clothes shouldn't be so tight as to appear painted on nor so loose that you could fit your significant other in them as well.

Men - get your hair situation together.  Fuzzy chests with deep V's, mustaches of the 70's/porn star variety, facial hair that is patchy and a bit all over, Bieber hair, overcolored/overtreated and there fore thinner than thread.  Men in headbands.  Not even for Fernando, sorry Meghan. Sort all that out.  I'm about this close to putting a no facial hair clause in my online profiles because there are so few who pull it off, but I don't want to open the door for 6'2'', 318lbs guys to have a go at me because I hate their beard. Not that I couldn't take 'em. . . I just don't have the time or interest.

Was there a great flood in Portland in the last two years?  Everyone cuffs everything.  Jeans, pants, skirts, shorts. I get that when you're on a bike you cuff the right leg so it doesn't get greasy in the chain but I stopped trying to count people walking around with cuffed pants.  Either manufacturers need to make a PDX specific cut that is short enough for all the flood-fearers or there need to be group information sessions about the correct pant lengths.  Folded up so it's three inches above your ankle (and your legs are the most horrifying white) is not appropriate.

Why can't you afford a shave and a haircut but you can spend thousands of dollars of lots of often lousy tattoos? I have a few tattoos.  I have plans for a couple more but being in Portland for long would be enough to put me off tats forever.  I don't think I've ever seen so many neck tats.  Lots of full sleeves and lots of generally globby tats. I started getting mine when not every person had one, now Portlanders are getting enough for everyone.

Single soul examples of fashion disasters:
Male, 30's, 5'5''-5'6'' pork pie hat, floppy side part ahir, waxed mustache, wife beater tank top in white, nylon baskeball shorts in black past the knee, long, dark argyle socks, leather "dress" shoes like a lot of middle school boys wear when they have to dress up.

Male, 35ish, 5'9'', short sleeve plai button up, beard, BCGs (see previous post), black low top chucks, flatbilled baseball hat, raybans, skinny jean that was too short, black socks.

Female, early 20's, 5'7'', skort dress in bright purple,  blue raybans, keds, long stick strait hair with a leatherband with feathers on it tied around her head just above her eyebrows.

Overall I found Portlanders in need of mending, ironing, shaving, trimming, washing and general tidying up. I think I left Portland with a virus, one that has left me with little defense against "the hipster".  It may have long lasting effects; we shall have to wait and see.

Last two only vaguely related thoughts:
As I get older, 21 seems to be getting younger.  The shows I saw at the Crystal Ballroom had two sections in front of the stage, one of which was a 21 and over bar section.  There were folks in there that make me double take.  Not just a couple that I could assume had snuck in but heaps.  Apparently I'm not old enough to want to question the young whippersnappers about their id.

Drummers are proof that men can multi-task.  Based on some of the bands I've seen recently I should expand that to musicians.  I saw one performer from Beirut switch from a trombone to a tuba to a guitar.  Another in Royal Cannoe played a keyboard, a synthesizer, a guitar and a tambourine. I doff my hat to you all.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sigh, hipsters

This is the blog post that I have been putting off for over a week.  Danielle, here it finally is.  I was avoiding it because I know it's going to get me all riled up.  To be honest, if it didn't, I wouldn't do the post any justice because it made me riled up enough to take notes in Portland so I could rage in blog form.




ok, now, where to begin.  I used to think that Seattle and Portland weren't so very different.  I've heard Portland compared to Seattle of twenty years ago, that's PDX is SEA's little brother. It's definitely not the city I remember from a few short trips there over the years.  And it's not Seattle. 

Immediate reactions: It's white.  REALLY white.  The official figures say that PDX is about 97% white and that the 3% racial diversity exists in just one or two neighborhoods.

It's a social city.  There are probably more bars and restaurants per capita in the city than any I've been to.  They are for the most part very new or remodeled, with interesting food but similar style choices.

Seattle is by it's nature a casual city.  Polar fleece is an acceptable accessories in all seasons and nearly all venues. REI probably sells as many articles of clothing as JC Penneys. Gortex is a necessity, if not a sleek clothing choice.  I usually feel a bit overdressed when I go out, but I'm ok with that.  I would rather be the most put together person in the bar than another disastrous hiker/biker/Seattle action figure who forgot to change after the days outing. Portland takes casual and poorly dressed to a new level. They don't make the small but important distinction between functional wear and appropriate wear.  Seattleites are guilty of going out in clothing that was meant for a purpose - rock climbing, camping - not for fashion.  Portlanders either don't realize there's a difference or scoff at it in wearing clothing who's purpose was to clothe a college student when they couldn't afford anything better or know any better.  Oh wait. . . that doesn't quite work since they spent more on their ironic t-shirt and poorly fitting skinny jeans than I did on my work-sleek Calvin Klein dress and heels. 

Hipsters all think they are unique and different.  What they don't see is that they are all minutely different versions of the same.  Is this what the "you can do anything, you are a special flower" parenting books have lead to?

Select any three (I think three is enough, four is a definite minimum though) of the following list and you have a hipster:
  • Converse
  • skinny jeans, double points for skinny colored pants.
  • Unnecessary wide belt with big buckle.  The pants are already so tight you had to have help getting them on.  I know your butt is hanging out but the belt won't help with that.
  • An "ironic/funny" t-shirt.  They are never either.  Double points of it's seriously worn.
  • A Jason Mraz hat
  • Homeless lumberjack beard.  It could be housing a chipmunk (not the Alvin persuasion), last week's pizza leftovers or the axe you'll use to murder me.
  • A bad haircut or lack of haircut.  I have trouble seeing the difference between the dirty hippie folks who haven't cut their hair because they don't care and the hipsters who spent $65 to look the same way. Triple points for homeless lumberjack beard and long stringy Kurt Cobain-esque hair.  Or alternately, Justin Bieber hair on a male over the age of 17.
  • Super high waisted colored super short shorts. I've only seen them on females, but who knows what's possibly. Double points if they are short enough her ass is trying to escape out the bottom.
  • A long hippie, flowing skirt that you then decide is too long and too flowy so it's tied up at the knee.
  • A plaid button up shirt.  In a concert sea of bodies,  plaid is plaid is all the same plaid. 
  • BCGs. These are the black, chunky rimmed glasses.  A friend from the military told me they call them BCGs - birth control glasses - because they are the only style the military will pay for and you ain't getting laid if you wear em.  Now the caveat might be that you'll get laid, but by another hipster.  You've been warned.
  • Flat billed ballcap.  Break that sh*t in. And don't wear it high on your head, like Heather, this girl I went to junior high with.  She'd spray her bangs up big, like Kelly Kapowski in SBTB and then put the hat on behind it.  (if you do not understand this reference, stop reading now.  You can go google it and still not really understand or you are under 25 and will never understand either). As an aside here, also no super flimsy, 80's style, windbreaker material ballcaps.
  • Neon anything.  Again, I feel like this could easily segue into a Saved by the Bell reference.The brighter the better, especially tops, hats or accessories. 
  • Keds on men. This isn't Europe and you aren't Swedish.
  • Old school raybans.  You know the ones I mean that are really in, again.  Like they were twenty years ago.
  • A mustache.  Now this is a tricky one to write.  I like a good mustache.  Good being the pivotal word in that sentence. This is where my new motto comes in to play.  JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN, DOESNT MEAN YOU SHOULD*.  Sure, you can grow a mustache.  It looks ridiculous on you, your face is rejecting it and you haven't realized it. We are all shaking our heads and chuckling. Waxing it out Rolly Fingers style (again, google it) doesn't make it look less ridiculous.  Now there are a few folks that can pull it off.  There was a fill-in Seattleite guitarist for the band The Heavy at Bumbershoot.  He looked fantastic, plaid shirt, waxed mustache and all. *Apply motto to aforementioned beards, skinny jeans and buying a Hummer.
  • Tom's. ick.
 Apparently it means that I was fashionable at seven.  I used to wear leggings and neon all the time. I wore the windbreaker hat, the raybans (in neon colors of course), keds.  I hated getting my haircut and had the predecessor to the Bieber cut (accidental and unfortunate I can assure you).

For the sake of your sanity and mine, I'll cap today's blog there and allow my rant to spill over to tomorrow.  Look for more scathing hipster don't, don't and why do they's tomorrow.

**Do I need to include googled photos of all this stuff?  I'd imagine a fair number of you know and can picture exactly what I'm referencing.  If photos are requested, I'll add some.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

MFNW part dos

On Friday I ventured out to The Doug Fir for two KEXP Lounge shows.  The Doug Fir is a little restaurant/bar/performance area that looks like a log cabin and is on the corner of/affiliated with a newer hotel. The lounge was a floor underground, which on a 85 degree day provided a wonderful cool respite that more than once was compared to a cave. I missed The Pains of Being Pure at Heart due to a fire that delayed the buses (it's always something isn't it?) so I skipped over to Sizzle Pie to wait for the next show.  Sizzle Pie is a mini-chain in Portland for gourmet pizza that was fantastic.  I would never have thought to put sliced almonds with thin pieces of roast, garlic and two kinds of cheese, but man did it work.  I also treated myself to a Crispins cider and then a local Caldera Amber, which despite being canned, was great.

Upon wrapping up there, I plunged into the underground world of The Doug Fir for Lost Lander.  I'm a big fan.  They have a great sound, which at some points was a tiny bit like Cold War Kids, at other points was more like a band who I like and whose name is completely eluding me right now. They are coming to Seattle Sunday!

After the Lost Lander show, I emerged blinking into the sun and happily strolled to the patio for a Flat Tire Sunshine beer. Very appropriate for the day. I stayed around to catch the Black Mountain show.  Again, it was a band I'd never heard of.  In every way they were a great Zepplin cover band, except that it was original music.  The female singer looked like she was the daughter of the male lead, appearing maybe 18.  She presented a totally unaffected demeanor at all times.  There was never a smile or a scream. She was either high or bored.  Musically, they sounded like Zepplin from the choices of chords, to the feedback and reverb. I was left thinking "why wouldn't I just listen to Zepplin?"

Danielle met me at the outdoor stage at Pioneer Courthouse Square for two shows, but I got there first and saw Gardens & Villa. I wasn't paying a lot of attention at this point as I was people watching and making hipster notes. They seemed benign though not totally uninteresting. The crowd was about the same and both Gardens and Menomena suffered from an apathetic crowd and lots of synthesizers too early in the day. Danielle came in part was through the Menomena show.  Again, I believe they are local.  The area was starting to fill and they put on a good show but were hampered by the stage orientation which had them facing straight into the sun.  The last show at Pioneer was Beirut which required an additional ticket (included in our ticket fee). I feel like I need to listen to them again while not surrounded by and irritated by hipsters. They look like what happens when band nerds get older but don't grow up.  I liked the use of tuba, trombone (both played by a guy who also played keyboard), trumpet (played by a guy that reminds me of ten Spaniards I've met) and even accordion. There was a feeling of trying to do too much on stage by having six members who all changed instruments and stage position. They were clearly a crowd favorite as the area had filled and folks were pushed up towards the stage.

Danielle and I left before the end to make our way over to the Star Theater. The Star was a nice venue.  Small inside with a long skinny set up with a stage at one end, but a big patio outside with two bars.  It was busy but not overly packed.  We had dealings with a waitress who was vacant.  It's strange to run in to someone who is really honestly dumb as rocks.  She had trouble reciting the beers on tap to us even while using her cheat sheet.  A couple more beers here while not paying much attention to Moon Duo (other than to notice the guy in it looked like an appropriately aged and heavily bearded Manson), or Daughn Gibson. Out on the patio we had a interesting conversation with an American Spirit Tobacco Sales Rep about quitting smoking campaigns. We did move in from the patio to hear The Pains of Being Pure at Heart who I liked more than I thought I would.

At this point we didn't have to roam far to find a taxi who, upon Danielle's direction, took us to a Taco Bell where we dismounted the cab and walked through the drive-through. I didn't think they'd serve us since every drive through now has a sign saying "must be in motorized vehicle" but Danielle persuaded the woman to take our order for tacos and nachos.  I wonder how often Taco Bell employees get tipped. The walk that Danielle swore was only a mile was probably a couple of miles and we both launched into bed post haste.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I had good timing for my Portland trip and I didn't even choose it. The company I interviewed with chose the date and time to meet me. It just so happened that it was the same time as MusicFestNW, an eleven year old, four day music festival in Portland. Wooooo! Instead of driving down, interviewing and driving back, I stayed two nights and suffered through two days. Danielle (from previous Bumbershoot blog) was gracious enough to host me and we made plans to do MFNW together on Friday.

I was left to my own devices on Thursday. At about 6pm I walked with Brittany (Danielle's sister) to a great local pub in an area PDX seems to be trying hard to regentrify. The place was beautiful, the jalapeno poppers homemade and fantastic, the local beers different and interesting. From there  I headed to McMenamins Crystal Ballroom to pick up our wristbands, then I stayed for two shows. Fort Lean replaced The Hundred in the Hands.  I'd never heard of them and apparently they are a local to PDX band.  They had a great sound, very up beat and a blend of good song writing with head bopping beats.  It took a while to figure out who they were, as MFNW wasn't good about posting changes like Bumbershoot.  McMenamin's owns several  locations in Washington and probably a dozen in Oregon.  The Ballroom was a pretty good venue; the acoustics were good, it was on the third floor and had a nice bouncy floor for when we jumped around.  There was a sectioned off bar on the audience floor and they had canisters of water out which was necessary considering it was about a million degrees by the time the second show let out.

The second show was Passion Pit. I'd missed their show the week before at Bumbershoot and was happy to catch them at the Crystal Ballroom. They had performed for MFNW at the Crystal the night before.  They didn't let the second show slide but put on an energetic, crowd roaring performance.  The audience was keyed up, singing along and jumping/dancing along. I only know who or three of their songs but thoroughly enjoyed the show.  Both Fort Lean and Passion Pit had something that a few of the Bumbershoot shows were missing - great music engineers.  The vocals were lost to overly reverbed guitars and thumping bass beats. The light show for PP kept the audience as rapt as their electronic feats.

Since this got much longer than I intended, I'll break Thursday's and Friday's reviews into two blog posts.  Friday is even longer.  Apparently, I like talking about music. Who knew? (wink, wink)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Jaunt to PDX

After Bumbershoot ended on Monday, I had a couple days to recover and then on Thursday I headed south to Portland for an interview. In someways, Portland is similar to Seattle.  Many people say it's like the little brother - Still trying to decide what it wants to be, spending a lot of time drinking and lounging around.  It definitely doesn't have a big commercial centers like Seattle does in downtown and on the eastside with Microsoft, Nintendo and the like.
The interview went well but it's still in process to see if I'm going to make the move and take a job there. There is lots of potential, both in the position and with the company which is young and growing. It would be a bump in responsibility and title (hopefully with a commensurate bump in pay) but it would mean moving to Portland and after just two days there, I'm not sure that's a pill I can swallow.  More study is needed.

Revelations from the road:

The speeds for traffic leaving Portland were faster than the speeds when I was headed in to Portland.  You may see why over the next couple posts.

On my way back to Seattle, I saw two houses, a jet plane minus the wings, three hydroplanes, cars with bikes, surfboards and kayaks on top, and two cars changing flat tires. Impressive for just 170 miles.

As much as gas is at home ($3.85 when I filled up to go) it was much more on the road.  I paid $4.15 half way home from Portland. Ugh.

I think Washington was made for nerds and geeks before we even knew there'd be so many gamers here.  There are towns like Ryderwood and Vader.

Between that trip and then one out to Ravensdale I put 400 miles on the car in four days.  And we both survived. 

Expect tomorrow's blog to be my review of shows I saw at MusicfestNW.  I am intentionally putting off my hipster blog because it's going to be long and painful. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Music of Bumbershoot - Monday

Sorry for the delay.  Here's  MONDAY

Monday was far and away the busiest day.  If I'd known then what I knew by the end of the day, I might have given it a pass.  Danielle returned to Portland Monday, so I had a new partner in crime, Michael. By the end of it, I felt bad he'd bought a pass and come because compared to Saturday and Sunday, it was disappointing.

There weren't any huge draws for Monday. It would have been nice to see Hey Marseilles or Passion Pit but they were at the end of the day (8 and 915 starts). Michael had to work Tuesday so we couldn't stay too late.  Honestly, but 730 I was well ready to go. 

I wanted to see the 4:30 show for The Wombats.  We went to get in line just after four and found that it was double the length of of line for the same venue for Civil Twilight.  Based on out estimation of a 45 minute wait in line, we gave it a miss. 

We tripped through Flatstock were I found a couple of great posters for Blitzen Trapper, SilverSun Pickups and The Polyphonic Spree.  There was so much great art there it as hard to stop at just three. 

We accidentally caught part of Omar Souleyman's show.  It was a little strange.  Heavy techno/electronic house music in the back ground.  My guess is that he's from Saudi Arabia and was in traditional dress, including the head covering.  There were a lot of folks who were bopping their heads along.  It left Michael and I sort of scratching our heads and moving along.

The Starbucks stage offered a place to sit and eat in the beer garden.  LP was good.  She was kind of singer-songwriter/folk which I like. She wasn't quite enough of a standout for me to look her up once I got home.

We caught Ana Tijoux on the Fisher Green stage.  The entire lawn was full.  We tried to get in to the beer garden there but again, found the line prohibitive. It was easily fuller than any time of the previous two days. She wasn't at all what I was expecting.  I knew a couple of songs from KEXP that were kind of pop/world.  She came out with a DJ and rapped.  Very M.I.A style both musically and in fashion.

We kicked around a little longer without a focus and finally gave in and went home.  The lines for Skrillex started at 5 (or maybe earlier) but by 6 wound through a huge section of the Seattle Center grounds. His show was set to start at 930.  Maybe I'm too old, but I don't get his sound.  I was happy to not be a fan and stuck in that colossal line.  The reviews after the fact were all raving about him, but it would have been pure suffering for me.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Music of Bumbershoot - Sunday


Ty Curtis Band: We didn't see this show but were milling about when it was on. They sounded good enough for me to check out on iTunes.

Niki & The Dove (Sweden): caught about five minutes of this and moved on.  Definitely not my style.

Eldrigde Gravy & The Supreme Court (local): Following in our newly established tradition of brass, bass and big bands, Eldrigde didn't disappoint.  There were at least eight members in the band. It was a funkin, rocking, soulful good time. They are almost as fun to watch as to hear. They are playing next month again in Seattle and I'll try to go catch them. One of my favorite acts of the weekend.

Civil Twilight (South Africa): We went to these guys on a suggestion that proved well placed.  My only complaint was that they were in one of two indoor venues.  The music was compelling and well tuned (see AWOLnation). They have more of a classic "rock" sound - think Pearl Jam, or Soundgarden but less angry. They have been added to my play lists.

Deep Sea Diver: I didn't catch the whole show but it was an enjoyable twenty minutes, even though all I could see was the back of this kid on his dad's shoulders and next to them a tall guy in a big hat (don't get me started on that rant). A big folksy, a bit pop, it was a nice combo.

Blitzen Trapper (PDX): This was the one show that I really, really, really wanted to see.  I am a big fan of this unclassifiable group.  Their music ranges from bluegrass and country to rock, folk and indie.  They definitely looked the PacNW part with unkempt hair and wiley beards but the music was as beautiful as they weren't.  I was two people back and sang along with those around me.  While there were a couple of songs I had hoped to hear and didn't, I was not at all disappointed in their show.  Lucky for me, they were the last act of the day on the SubPop stage and came out for a two song encore.

It would have been nice to see Keane but by the end of a second marathon day, Danielle and I were both happy to miss the massive crowds and head home at ten.

The Music of Bumbershoot - Saturday



Polecat (local): nice bluegrassy/folk local group. Just saw about fifteen minutes but nice first tunes.

King Khan & The Shrines: Awesome.  They started what because the theme of the shows for Saturday and Sunday - driving bass beats, brass and big voices.  They are showy and his voice (King Khan) reminds me vaguely of Little Richard or the like. The costumes were appreciated though I'm not sure how King Khan didn't collapse from heat exhaustion from running around on stage and the weight of the gold sequins.
I had heard a song or two of theirs before arriving.  There wasn't anything they played that I didn't like. They were the day's biggest and best surprise.

The Heavy (UK): Same stage as King Khan and stellar.  I was barely to the right of center stage and about twenty feet back.  They were really good.  More bass beats, two saxophones.  They had upbeat tunes as King Khan did but with more rap/hip-hop mixed in.
They were using a fill in guitarist, someone local who seriously rocked a handlebar mustache. The frontman worked the crowd with about four songs involving crowd response.  They were well placed at late afternoon when the sun was still up and people we up for dancing.
 I knew more of their songs than I thought and happily sung along. I was hopeful when I saw them listed and they didn't disappoint.  I'm a fan.

Awolnation (Los Angeles): This was our first main stage show.  I like the band and know many of their songs.  They span several genres.  My complaint with this show was that the music engineer and lights engineer must have been partaking in the plentiful amounts of cannabis that were around because the quality of the sound and production were not good.  The reverb was high, the bass and kick drum drowned everything else out.  The lighting was too dark blue and from above for the first half of the show so even on the big screens to either side of the stage it was really difficult to see the band.  Then there were also lots of shadows cast from the scaffolding above on to the screens. The end result was disappointing though the band couldn't be blamed for it.

The end of the day was a bit of three different shows.   
The Helio Sequence (PDX) was very mellow and a good pick for the end of the day.  It was probably more enjoyable for the folks who were half off their heads. The screen projections reminded me of the option on Windows Media Player to see lazers or other graphic imaging to go along with the music.

The Jayhawks(Minneapolis) were ok.  They are very predictable and mellow.

M. Ward  (PDX) was the last we saw before going.  I didn't see much of the show though we were in the beer garden at that stage.  I like his/their sound, though the name gives me less than ideal flashbacks. He had a much bigger sound than I expected.  The songs I knew were more singer/songerwriter-folky mellow but he threw out a couple good rock tunes too.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012


It was a fantastic extended weekend.  The weather couldn't have been much better, especially considering it's September in a fairly northern city.  No rain at all.  The evenings did get a little chilly but it was mostly cloudless and lovely.

Danielle made it up from Portland and was a great concert buddy for Saturday and Sunday. We saw a lot of shows together and a few solo ventures.  Michael joined me on Monday for a shorter last day.  The crowds were much worse on Monday and someone said it was because Skrillex (the show you couldn't have paid me to go to) was performing Monday night.  We had to pass on The Wombats because the line was so long. Some of the beer gardens were the same.  Saturday and Sunday were much more manageable and in terms of crowds, more enjoyable. 

The food was mostly as expected.  The most disappointing food were the Parmesan garlic fries which managed to look and smell of both Parmesan and garlic but taste like neither.  The pork skewer from Monday was probably my favorite, though the Thai coffee and tea was stellar too.

Strangest moment: ooo, tough one.  The Unicorn in gold platforms? The Elvis impersonator on a tall unicycle carrying juggling batons who never juggled? Watching Lovebomb a go-go, a marching band and dance troupe dressed in varying degrees of white and sparkle? I'm going to go with the people watching.  There were lots of different and interesting folks to look at, or avoid looking at as the case might be. It was another example of the fact that Seattle accepts all comers.  You name it, we saw it.  Colored hair, bad hair cuts, too much/no enough clothing, costumes, face paint, piercings, a default tattoo show, pets, a parade of bad fashion choices, etc, etc. 

Happy non-music moments: The inflatable T-rex (until Danielle ruined it!!), finding a coconut earring shop that had business cards with guys who must have been from Bali on them, cute free monster stickers, getting 45 free shampoo samples that I'll donate, free silk screened canvas bag with a cool Bumbershoot logo (worth the 45 minutes in line), randomly bumping in to some girls I know. Most important -  laying on the grass, in the sun with GREAT company listening to good music and enjoying being back in Seattle. 

Music recap tomorrow!!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Signing off for the Weekend

It's my first Labor Day weekend Stateside in some time. It's a ceremonial death of summer but it's also a great weekend to be in Seattle.  The first Bumbershoot wasn’t called Bumbershoot but rather Festival ’71. The two-day event, the brainchild of Mayor Wes Uhlman.  It also includes a logging show, indoor motorcycle races in the Coliseum (now KeyArena), horseback rides for kids and ‘the world’s first electronic music instrument jam.’ … The ‘Hot Pants Contest’ was one of the biggest draws. Local rock bands and dance troupes were featured. The sun-drenched festival, held Aug. 13–15, was a hit, attracting the largest crowds to Seattle Center since the 1962-63 World’s Fair.

In '72 the Seattle Repertory Theater, Seattle Opera and One Reel Vaudeville show were added to the music lineup.  In '73 Bumbershoot was named such.  The festival grew in audience, days (now five), and programming breadth. By '75 it was up to a record eleven days.  Over it's 42 years, Bumbershoot audiences have seen the likes of Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Fleetwood Mac, Eurythmics, Bonnie Raitt, Fats Domino, Los Lobos, BB King, Al Green, The Posies, Violent Femmes, 10,000 Maniacs, Sex Pistols, Sir Mix-a-Lot, R.E.M, Sonic Youth, Modest Mouse, Be Harper, The Black Crowes, Everclear, and hundred mores.  Bumbershoot also includes comedians, short films, live performances, skits by theater companies and much more.  There are nineteen venues that includes five stages.

My friend Danielle is coming up from Portland for Saturday and Sunday.  We're going to strategize tonight. A plan of attack for what we want to see together, what I want to see that she doesn't and vice versa, when to drive up and back.

Don't expect to hear from me until Tuesday.

A last bit of trivia:

—n. informal
An umbrella.
The word bumbershoot first appeared in the U.S. around 1915–1920. It is thought to be an alteration of the umber- part of umbrella plus a respelling of -chute (as in parachute). Bumbershoot was chosen as the Festival’s name as a metaphor for the Festival being an umbrella for all of the various arts and performers it encompasses.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


We all knew it was only a matter of time. My personality, my specific levels of mania, coupled with unemployment have quickly lead down the slick, smooth, high speed slide to addiction.
It started with just an hour or two. I told myself the lies that everyone does.  It won't be often.  It can't have that strong a pull. I can resist. I won't be like everyone else. LIES!!  They are just easy lies. 

I fell asleep planning my next fix.  I spent hours at it yesterday. A few already today. 

Drugs? Alcohol? OCD cleaning?  Place your bets. . .

I caved. I cut my cable TV months ago.  Aside from a month with rabbit ears (yes, they still make add on antennae for TV), I've been TV free.  I didn't miss it.  I was too busy.  Then my contract ended.  I have a lot of hours to fill in each day and trips out of the hour usually mean I'm spending money.  Money that doesn't currently have a replacement date.

I am still interacting with people, real life people.  I am back to going to the gym. I have also watched all of the first season of Whitney (Amazing.  Seriously.  If you are sarcastic and jaded, find it.) which was twenty two half hour episodes. I've also watched a half dozen episodes of The Simpsons (how did I go so long?), and Fairly Legal.

I know I have a problem.  I may need an intervention.  I . . . can't  . . . .I can't walk away from the freakin computer!  And I'm still on the free version of Hulu.  God forbid if I decide to pay the staggering rate of eight dollars a month or whatever it is for the unlimited, commerical limited version. 

Can someone confiscate my credit card?  (Though Groupon may then go bankrupt)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I blogged before about the disappearing act.  Now for act two . . . the eerie reappearance.

"You're Gay right?" We had one not great first date (hey, that rhymes!) months ago.  Last week I get a text message that says , and I quote, "Hey! What r you up to? Can we hang out tonight? Call/txt me:)" Ummm, say whhaaaaaa???!?!  It's been months, MONTHS. Is it a genetic mutation that makes guys think they can be out of touch for a while and then pop up again and women will fall all over themselves to go out?

"Coincidence" keeps popping back up.  I don't hear from him for a week and a half and then it's Thursday night and he wants to get together on Friday.  Methinks someone doesn't want to be alone on Friday night.

There was "Babe" who was at the friend's wedding I was in.  I should probably be ashamed to admit this, but since I didn't sleep with him, I'm not.  It took about three minutes of conversation before I placed him, and then another couple hours before I remembered his name.  Now, granted, it was just before the ceremony. I was in the wedding and worried about making sure things were going right. He was in a suit, so very different from the jeans and t shirt on our date.  Saved by the ceremony, I only had to slog through five minutes of small talk.

Does this strike anyone else as creepy?  One of the features of these dating sites is that you can see who looked at your profile.  There are a couple guys that regularly check my online dating profiles. One of them emails me about twice a month with a riveting "hello" and rarely has more than one or two words to say, which is why I gave up on him. "Man Up!" does it too.  He blew me off and now checks my profile weekly.  WTF?  Is there a train of logic here that I'm not seeing?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Da da daaaaa. . . . Unemployed!

It's official, I'm unemployed. 

I just filed for unemployment benefits for the first time EVER. As a contractor, I knew my contract was finite. The end came slightly more abruptly and in a less courteous manner than I'd have hoped for, but I knew it was coming.  The nice thing about being a contractor is that you do know it's going to end.  When I was let go/downsized from a job before it was a surprise and upsetting.  This time it was a good thing.  Being without a paycheck isn't a good thing but getting a final answer was.  VMC was being mysterious about what they were going to do with me (end my contract, move me to another department) and that made me more anxious than having a decision. 

I'm working with several contracting firms and recruiters.  I'm applying to everything in the field and can interview any time.  It looks like there will be several projects starting in October and I should be well placed to take a position on one of them.  Lots of options too: local, travel, longer term, very short term. Hmmmm, what will be next on my agenda?

I am in that old catch 22.  I wanted to travel but didn't have any time to do so with work and no vacation days.  Now I have the time but since I don't know when the next paycheck will come in, I shouldn't spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on a trip just yet.  When I lock in a new job, then maybe. Although, Portland and California are so close they don't really count as travel, right?

With that, I'm off to a phone interview. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Man with No Feet

I was having a whiney, whingy day yesterday.  I was frustrated that work wasn't making a decision about my contract and as a result I sat around for ten and a half hours trying to look busy while in actuality having nothing to do.  Absolutely nothing.  There's only so much crap you can look at on the internet before you get to or

The problem was I couldn't go do something.  I didn't have anything to learn or prepare.  No meetings, no emails to respond to, nothing.  I hate sitting and waiting.

By the end of the day I was in a pretty foul mood.  The fact that I had overdosed on both caffeine and sugar by four o'clock didn't help either.  I wisely cancelled my dinner plans and headed home as not to inflict my grumpy spell on anyone else.

When I got home my neighbor's son was pulling up.  He came over and asked for a ride to the shopping complex.  His mom had collapsed again and was at the hospital.  He'd come by to pick up something she needed and wanted to get the car.  I was eager to oblige.  She's always been a lovely person and great neighbor.  The medical issues have been recurrent and severe lately.  This was the fourth such fainting spell that led to hospitalization in recent months. 

As we made the three minute drive to get his mom's car, the son also told me that his son was in hospital with a 103 degree temperature and abdominal pain. He had gone from one hospital to another. I offered any help I could, which would include caring for his mom's cat that night, and wished him well when I dropped him off.

When I got back I took the dog for a walk.  On a path near our neighborhood park I walked toward a man who seemed a little twitchy.  He made a signal to look at him, then a stop action.  We both stayed on our path towards the other.  He asked "Who is behind me?" to which I replied "no one" which was true.  "Good, that's how I like it" he said with some relief. I was left wondering.

I got home and realized that I really couldn't complain.  There's a saying "I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet".  We all fight our own battles and demons.  As much as I didn't like my day yesterday, it couldn't been a lot worse. I didn't fight my frustration but I did feel some appreciation that mine were molehills, not mountains yesterday.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Home? Home!

They say you can't go home again.  I don't know who they are, and I don't know why they say that.

I'm home.  I'm in the house I grew up in actually. It was a matter of coincidence and happenstance that lead me to be the sole inhabitant (aside from my pooch Skeeter).  I moved back from Asia and my mom left for California.  Since the "ole homestead" is convenient for work I decided to stay there rather than moving to Seattle. It works out for mom because I'm paying the mortgage and this isn't exactly the best time to sell.

I've spent the better part of the last week going through the house. See, mom and I have slightly divergent opinions about stuff.  I like to have less stuff and keep it super duper organized.  Mom has. . .her own kind of organization system. On those grounds, I have a charity truck coming on Thursday to pick up ten bags of donations. 

The house is beyond orderly; it's nearly exactly as I want it.  Well, almost.  It's 92.4% there (minus the stuff in the garage pending pick up).

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Wedding Learning Curve

What I've learned from weddings for when I'm plotting planning my own:

KISS.  Not during the ceremony but Keep It Short & Simple. My own take on the acronym. The ceremony bit for last Sunday's wedding was fifteen minutes.  It was brilliant. Not a lot of speaking by the officiant, nice succinct vows by the couple and then everyone is released to mingle and eat.

Good food is a must.  Whether it's appetizers, a potluck or served courses, if the food is good everyone walks away with a smile on their face. Simple dishes but high quality.  Don't over feed people because most have a propensity to keep eating as long as the food is there. It seems that the food is one of the first things that people comment on or ask about after.

You never need as much cake as you think you do.  I've never been at a wedding where there wasn't cake left over. Again, go simple. Small slices but lots of them. A few even smaller kid-friendly/dieter-friendly plates too. Absolutely no smashing cake in each others faces for the bride and grooms.

While signature drinks seems like a good idea, I haven't had one I like at a wedding.  Sure, it seemed like a nice drink when the bartender had you try a bourbon-gin-fizz-foo foo-whatever. The odds that most other folks are going to like it are slim to none.  Open bar with a few beers/ciders, and options are the way to go.  I'll take a simple gin and tonic or rum and coke over a foo-foo whatsy any day. Just keep it coming.

Champagne is overrated.  This is a totally personal opinion partially based on the fact that champagne and I have a hate-hate relationship.  I don't love the taste.  It also seems to rush to my brain and start banging around with a hammer. If I have a toast (and that's a very big IF), it's going to be with the bevvie of one's choice.

No kids or animals in the wedding.  Johnny Carson made the wise oberservation that one should never perform with children or animals let they upstage you.  There is no surer way for things to not go as planned.

Take season and temperature into account.  No one enjoys swealtering or freezing. If it's unavoidable, chose a venue with appropriate accomodations.

Less stuff makes life easier.  Fewer acitvities on the wedding day. Less stuff to schlep around.  Fewer people involved.  Of course, I subscribe to those policies in my every day life. 

I may not have a wedding, ever.  I may not get married.  The first time around I managed to end up married without a shower, a party, a wedding, an invitation, an anything.  If I feel the need to say "I do" again, it will probably be with a small ceremony.  I have friends from all over the place, living all over the place.  I think that makes for the prefect opportunity for a destination wedding because even if I held it locally, people would have to fly in for it. Luckily I'm selective about my peeps, just like I am about my beer.

Most people have similar reactions to weddings as they do with babies.  They ooohhh and ahhhhh and coo over them, the pictures, the process.  I don't get it.  I just don't.  It a lot of time, a lot more money, stress, chaos, aggravation.  I might meet Mr. Amazing and want all of that baloney, but I will never, NEVER spend thirty, forty, fifty thousand on a one day event. That's craziness people.

Family, friends, a beach somewhere. . . .Oh and Mr. Amazing! If it weren't for that bit, I'd be ready to schedule a wedding now.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Date Fail #11 - The Combo

He was one part yesterday's 1812 : After three dates we hadn't had a kiss though he sort of held hands.

He was one part "Man up": He was happy to go out as long as I set the date, time, place and of course, asked him.

He was one part "disappearing act": Three dates is his limit, apparently . He's now into the wind with most of the others.

This is one that actually did surprise me.  Our first date was lunch, a baseball game, then ice cream in the park. Second date was dinner and a movie. On the third date we were both on the verge of collapse because we'd each been busy but I still enjoyed his company. After that one we'd made tentative plans to get together the following Friday but there were never plans made/set. There's been no contact since!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Not mine thankfully.

While I was out of the country, most of my friends and high school classmates got married and had kids.  I, as you know, didn't.  The best part about that first sentence? I was out of the country so I missed the bridal showers, weddings, baby showers, etc. Because God (if there is one, post on that coming. . . probably never) has a sense of humor, I've had two weddings, a bridal shower, a bachelorette party and a baby shower to attend in the last five months.

Hahahahah           haha                   ha.

Amber is probably the only person I knew in junior high and high school that I'm still friends with.  We reconnected between Spain and Indonesia and have been hanging out ever since.  When I came back into town I was invited to be in her wedding.  If I'd have known what I was in for, I may have given her a resounding NO.

The dress debacle started a couple months ago.  Amber found cute dresses that were reasonably priced online.  The three of us (her maid of honor sister, myself and another bridesmaid) all bought them.  The problem came when the dressed showed up.  The were made in China, very clearly by someone making less than minimum wage and it showed.  The dresses looked very different and all required between 140 and 250 dollars worth of tailoring. In the end they looked pretty good but being long and fully lined, we roasted in them the day of the festivities.

The bridal shower was weeks ago.  It was at a cute little wine and cheese bar.  The food was for the most part, very good.  The hang up there was that I didn't know most of the ladies there.  Not inherently a hang up except that they are all married, some with kids and inevitably the conversations turn to husbands/children/ blah/blah and I glaze over. I brought a gift and left with chocolate. Not too shabby.

The bachelorette party was two weekends ago.  I won't go into all the gory detail but suffice to say, it set the standard pretty high for any bachelorette parties to come.  The six of us were a great group and had a fantastic time.  I like that there were fewer of us which meant less time rounding everyone up and losing people. Smash wine bar was a good, if accidental, choice.  Nectar was fun either because of or in spite of the 80's cover band.  I'm still not sure which. Getting hit on never hurts the ego and I didn't even care that I never heard from the guys after. My only complaint really was paying the piper the next day for my total lack of sleep.  NOTE TO SELF: do not plan anything the day after a bachelorette party!

The wedding was this past Sunday.  Amber is a bit like myself in that she sees a situation that needs organizing and goes to it.  I was emailed a timeline prior to the wedding that covered "day of" events.  It spanned roughly fourteen hours.  Meet up, hair, make up, change venue, get dressed, change venue, photos, change venue, wedding, reception, done. I did have a good time but man, was I beat by the end of it.  I can't even imagine how the happy couple was feeling. The ceremony was brilliantly short, the food a good choice of snackables that didn't require awkwardly sitting at the singles table, the cake was fantastic and looked good to boot. Daniel and Lacey kept me occupied and endured my witty/snarky remarks all night. The groomsmen were all well supplied with their own flasks that helped all of us endure photos while we sweltered. All around, a long day but a good one.

I hope the Zieglers are enjoying Mexico and I wish them all the happiness one could ask for.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Is it 1812?

I admit, I'd been out of the dating arena for a while.  Dating overseas, as an expat, is very different business.  I was in a long term relationship that ended not long before I left the States which means I was last actively dating and living the US in about 2003. I think dating has changed while I was away.  Consider the following:

Many guys seem to be waiting to be invited/asked out.  They are not longer the ones asking and making plans.  They seems to heem and haw around until I ask, and then they want me to set all the details.

There are many guys who are content with weeks (and weeks) of texting or emailing before ever meeting. On top of that, few of them ever pick up the phone to call. Texting is not a replacement for a spoken conversation!

First date attempts are at an all time low.  Less than a quarter of my recent dates have ended in a kiss.  For the dates that did, few of them were the ones I would have wanted to kiss me (isn't that always the way??). No more arm around shoulder, a kiss or any physical contact. **I do like the idea of getting to know someone but how long should it really take before you want to make a move?

Contrarily, there are few compliments and door holding. There is also a decidedly casual style of dress.  It used to be that a gentleman would at least put on khaki's and a polo to show you that he was trying.  Now, or maybe specifically in Seattle, flip flops and a t-shirt is close enough.  I know Seattleites are decidedly caa-sshhh, but trade in the fleece for something first impression worthy. If you can't make the effort on the first date, when will you?

There fore I am left in a state of confusing, not knowing where we should be sitting on a chaperoned date in my mother's parlor, or if the dating scene has changed so drastically that I am no longer adapted to it.

If anyone has insight, an explanation or advice, send it my way would ya?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Managing Expectations

There are lots of ways I manage expectations. 

Growing up I expected, without consciously knowing it, that I would grow up, meet Mr. Right, have kids, a house, a dog.  I think many women mature under the notion that there is someone for every one.  I no longer expect there is.

I fight the expectations that society sets. I suppose I could say I ignore those expectations, but fight makes it sound intentional  The romantic comedy routine, the way books and stories tell us we'll fall for each other and it will be magical from the beginning.  The societal expectations that we all pair up, procreate and live mildly miserably ever after. Most of you can guess I eschewed that assupmtion about the time I left the country.

I realize that all relationships are a bit of reconciling the ideal with the close enough. It's part of the dating beast. What I want and what's out there to be had aren't a matching file. My list consists of a few "deal breakers", some "strongly advised to have" and lots of "this would be nice as bonus".  The older I get the less willing I am to settle with a guy who isn't close enough to right for me.  The less willing I am to take crap.  And I have reconciled myself to the fact that it might mean I'm single a long while longer.

I no longer expect a call.  This is a tricky one because on the one hand I think know that I'm a great catch. I'm intelligent, well-traveled, blah, blah, blah.  That being the case, I have come to expect a lot of lousy dates to get to the few good ones.  Yet, even after a great date, I doubt there will be a call or a second date.  Why?  Because expecting there will be leads to disappointment, and that makes for a sad panda. Am I cold and jaded? Maybe.  Am I less upset than I used to be? Maybe.

There is a tiny sliver of my conscious, on the border of the subconscious, that has forseen my life without a partner in it.  An expectation of sorts really.  I'm not quite ready to give in to that one but I know it there and don't feel haunted by it.

When I'm on a date I make sure I am not giving signals that would allow him to assume (expect) that he's going to get laid, that I'm a doormat for him to trod on, that I am looking for happily ever after or that I am less than awesome.  One can only do so much about another persons expectations though. Mine are more than enough to juggle.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Date Fail #10 - When is it not just Coincidence?

I moved from a city of 22 million (Jakarta) to one of 4 million (for the greater Seattle area). I didn't think that would mean I see the same folks regularly.

There are the average occurrance when you find out after the fact that you were at an event and someone else was also at the event. Or in the same city, or part of the city.

Recently I had a date cancel (I hear you thinking "which one?" I realize it's happened umm, less than a lot but more than average lately). I was also able to pick up a date on the fly that night.  His plans fell through, my plans fell through so let's have a drink. Off to a bar midway between his place and mine. The date went well enough that I thought a second date was in order for further inspection. He seemed to agree and we were texting the next night talking about plans.  The hang up was that he was supposed to be out of town for ten days for a wedding and work.  Ok, plans after are fine.

The first date was Wednesday.  He was meant to be away Friday night for ten days.  Let see if you count as well as me.

On Tuesday I had a girlfriend date at a restaurant in Seattle. I arrived first, as I nearly always do, and went to the bar for a drink.  While I watching for Diane to come in, I see a guy who looks like my date from Wednesday.  Surely it can't be him because he's out of town. He's about ten feet away and I try to get a good look without staring.  After maybe fifteen minutes he comes over with a "heeeeeeyyyyyy, I thought that was you".  Not impressed.  He gives me a schpeal; about work cancelling his trip. Everyone gets the benefit of the doubt once.  Sure, work canceled your trip.  The "I was going to text you to tell you" is laying it on a little thick but whatever.

The problem was when he was much more interested in talking to Diane, my 35 yo blonde, thin friend than to me.  The guy she's seeing was on his way to meet us, but that was unbeknownst to my "date". He introduced us to his co-worker who was a nice guy then situated himself across from Diane and continued to talk to her. At one point he asked be a question, then walked away to get a drink after I said about five words throwing a "hang on, I'll be right back" over his shoulder.

He and his mate went and played table top shuffleboard while Diane and I ate. Eventually he wandered back. He then had the cojones to say he was going to get something to eat, did I want to get a drink after.  I gave him a non-committal answer and enjoyed the rest of my night there talking to Diane, her date and his friend.  I got a text from my "date" as I was leaving the bar asking if I wanted to get a drink.  By then it was after ten and I had early work the next day.  I left him hanging until I got home and then a "oh, I already left" text.

Needless to say, we haven't spoken since. How does that happen in a city of four million, that I run into a guy I had a first date with a week later in a totally different part of the city, randomly at a bar I've never been to before?

Thursday, August 09, 2012

The All or Nothing Hex

When it rains it pours.

It was raining men (hallelujah). Now it's a drought.

I've come to believe that life is all about ebbs and flows. Dating is one big example of this.  In the months since I returned to Seattle my dating life has been all or nothing.  First there was nothing, then I had a rush of a few dates, then nothing.  Lately has been busier than an elf in November.  I was getting emails from guys on the dating site, several had switched over to texting, I was out on several dates a week for a couple weeks.  Since I was also still busy with friends and other commitments, every day of my agenda was booked. 

Now the downhill side of the mountain. I've finally taken a couple nights off. . .from life.  I came home from work last night and was just at home.  I needed to recoup.  That was my choice.  The bit that's not my choice is my dating life also tapering off.

A couple of the guys that I was texting have dropped off (remember online dating is a filtering process), but none that I was too upset to lose.  A couple I've been texting haven't taken the initiative to ask for a date.  One or two that I've seen once haven't asked for a second date but continue to text.  One guy I've seen three times now but I can't tell what's happening with him. In three dates he hasn't even tried to kiss me, but we did hold hands, sooooo . . . ????

I know the ebb is inevitable after the flow, but it's still always a bummer. The "bum" will wear off in a couple days and I'll be back to a neutral realm of not dating but not caring too much about it. 

I have no upcoming dates scheduled, but a wedding to be in.  I'd rather reverse that  I think.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Date Fail #9 - Aye, aye Captain.

If you live on a boat, you should tell people you live on a boat.  That is an important bit of information for someone who is considering dating you.  Having a boat is not the same as having a boat that is also your house. I'm not talking about a house boat either.  I'm talking about a motor boat that you live on.

A couple of weeks ago I had a first date with "Union". We'd talked a couple times on the phone the week before the date.  He was pleasant, interesting, he got points for putting some thought into where we were going to eat.

He picked me up and looked nothing like his profile photos.  That wasn't entirely bad since those photos were a bit cryptic but it wasn't good either.  Anyone who knows me has probably heard my homeless lumberjack beard rant.  Union didn't have a beard  that qualified but he did have a beard.  I am not a beard girl.

He also showed up in cowboy boots.  (eyebrow raised).  Not an immediate disqualifier but something to note.  As we drove to Seattle I couldn't help but notice that he looks like a Norwegian Fishing boat captain. Well, at least what I thought a stereotypical one would look like. He had a deep side part, a full but tidy beard, short teeth with little spaces between them and was in need of a navy coat.  Sort of a cross between this:

and this:

but blonde and mid-thirties which also needs some of  this:

The date was fine.  Good conversation, great Indian food. We scaled Queen Anne hill to go to a cool bar.  After the bar I was ready to go home but he insisted on showing me his boat.  Now there had been mentions of the boat before, but what he failed to mention is that it was where he is living and by taking me to the boat he was essentially taking me to his place. 

We didn't spark like I would want and the presumption to take me home to a non-house home in a sneaky way so I didn't realize that was what was happening?  Not cool.  I demonstrated my exhaustion, which wasn't feigned, and finally got him to take me home.

One half-assed text three days later from him and my reply a day after that means we can add him to the list of first dates.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Just when I thought life couldn't get any more awkward

I may be leaning on the line of was is and isn't acceptable to blog about.  I'll walk delicately.

I had a doctor's appointment a couple weeks ago.  I lady bits type of appointment.  It was just a annual check up.  It was with a doc who came highly recommended and wasn't that far from my house.

I took a morning off from work to go.  Got to the office on time and after filling out paperwork, sat down with an old people magazine. As I flipped through, someone left the offices and entered the waiting room.  It was the mother of one of my ex boyfriends.

He and I had dated when I was about 17.  We met at community college (where I completed all my classes the last two years of high school). We decided to keep dating while I went away to university, at which time he decided to cheat on me.  As you might imagine, my 18 year old self took it pretty badly.  It is a moment I think back to and realize it changed my plans.  There have been many of those.  He went on to marry the girl he cheated on my with, and last I heard they were living in South Dakota.  Whew, dodged a bullet there!

His mom recognized me immediately and asked what I was up to, how I'd been, yadda, yadda.  I was happy that I was all dressed up for work, looking great, which she said.  I made sure to say I'd been living in other countries, etc. Her response was "Wow!  You should totally call ****, he'd love to hear from you".

Right lady, like I care about him any more.  Like I have his number.  Like I would waste my time.

Monday, July 30, 2012


Beige again!
I've talked about the vanishing act in recent posts.  I'm finding a situation that is just as strange and occuing again and again.  After the Vanishing act, weather it's after a good date or a bad one, I assume that is it.  I assume I won't hear from them again, and to be honest, I don't really care if I do. There has been a surprising number of guys that reappear.  Most recently, Beige messaged again.  It was just a "how are you" message but it always leaves me thinking "REALLY?" We had a lousy date, we haven't spoken for weeks but now you want to message?  It's too bad you haven't found someone more amazing than me (amazing, if I do say so myself), but just because you haven't managed to arrange another date for yourself doesn't mean you should begin messaging me again.
"Moto" did the same thing after not so awful dates.  Weeks later there was a What's Up? message.  Is there something I am missing here?  If you're interested why would you wait three and a half weeks to text?

I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that my post on mediocrity has the most views of all my posts in the last two months. Mediocrity is even better than I thought!

Chaos at work
The levels of misdirection and confusion amongst the upper levels in my project at work are expanding again. It's late July, as in almost August.  I'd love to make plans for August.  The problem is that I don't know what my schedule is.  That's right.  My life ends in an inky black abyss starting in August. I can't plan dates because I don't know when I working.  I've been warned that during the first week (s?) of the month I should plan on eleven hour days.  Yep, ELEVEN hour days. . . hence, not wanting to make plans because I might need to collapse. It's starting to look like a less positive thing that I am one of the last men standing in my division.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Canceled Week - Date Fail #8.2, 8.5 and 8.8

I've learned over the years not to get too attached to plans I make because they are often more fluid than I realized. Everything is subject to change and being back in a first world country doesn't make plans more solid than when I was in Indonesia. This week has been a reminder of that.

I may have jinxed myself by posting a facebook status about my plans this week.  I updated my status to say "Four dates in five days, what could go wrong?"   O, how I know the answer to that question.  Tempting fate really.

For an explanation of Mondays events, see the "Date Fail #6 - Man up!" blog.  He didn't so much cancel as totally flake out.  Tuesday my plans were with my sister and her partner.  They didn't cancel but I nearly didn't make it.  Obama came to town and that shut the freeway into town.  A ride that usually takes forty-five minutes took and hour and a half.  I arrived just before the play started.

Wednesday was to be date two.  He had the sense to text at least.  It was the classic " Long day, tired, blah, blah, raincheck blah". Sure, I'll give you one more chance but I am not going to cancel my other dates while I wait for you.  I just might meet Mr. Fantastic before I meet you. Case in point, another guy I'd been texting messaged that night to ask what I was up to.  When I mention that my plans had fallen through we found a lucky coincidence that his had too.  Sub in another first date!  This isn't one I'll talk much about other than to say it went well and I think a follow up date is in the works. 

Thursday was a girls date night.  The girls made it despite the car fire that delayed them.  The girls are proving to be more steady.

Friday was going to be first date number three.  He had thumb surgery the day before and I I suspected, was still more under the weather than he thought on Friday.  Raincheck, sure.  NEXT!!!

Saturday, first date number four,  is going to be another short entry because the date went great.  I was starting to wonder if I would ever have a great date but I did.  Again, I hope date two is in the works so I'm keeping a bit mum.

Today wraps up the week.  I have first day number five on the schedule but it's still  two and a half hours until we meet so anything can happen.