Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Feliz Navidad

I am in sort of a bah, humbug mood this month. I haven’t gotten into the Christmas spirit at all, and it’s starting to really bug me. When you live in an apartment by yourself there isn’t a whole lot of motivation to get a Christmas tree, or even put up lights. I went to the Nutcracker, but somehow even that didn’t do it for me. I also watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman on TV last week, but it still doesn’t seem like Christmas.

I think the main problem is that I haven’t done any Christmas shopping. Since I am going to spend Dec. 20 through Dec. 28 in Cabo San Lucas with my family, we decided to not buy gifts for each other this year. The only things I’ve had to purchase are gift exchange presents for work and Vanessa’s Christmas party. And since Christmas shopping is normally one of my main December attractions, no wonder I am feeling a bit lost.

I’ve also only gone to one Christmas party, which seems odd. Vanessa and Kendra hosted the third annual Penski Twins Christmas Bash on Sunday night, and I had a really great time. The abundance of food, liquor and friends was fantastic, and the gift exchange was completely entertaining, although I got stuck with candles while Jeanna and Larisa got decidedly more exciting gifts. The highlight of the night was definitely when Johnny Ho and Abe played rock-paper-scissors, and the loser had to drink a shot of soy sauce. Abe lost, poor guy!

Tonight I will attend my company Christmas party at Brasa before heading home to pack for my trip. I have to leave for the airport at 2 a.m. to make my flight, which leaves at some ridiculously early hour. By the time I arrive at my hotel, I will have been awake for almost 30 hours, unless I am fortunate enough to fall asleep on the plane, which for me is doubtful.

It’s going to be weird to spend Christmas in a foreign country, especially since my family has never participated in the “Destination Christmas” idea before. We’ll still go to church on Christmas eve, but it will be in Spanish! And I can only hope and pray that the satellite TV at our resort will include an English version of “It’s A Wonderful Life” because if there’s one thing that will ruin Christmas for me, it’s not seeing that movie. I’ve watched it every single year since I can remember, and if I don’t hear “Daddy, Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings!” You know you love it, too.

Regardless, I’m going to try and make this the best Christmas ever. And either way, at least I will get to go skiing for New Years with a tan. Merry Christmas everyone, I’ll miss you!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Ignorance is Bliss

According to The Seattle Times' web site, some 225,000 people were still without power this morning due to Thursday night’s storm. I was completely unaware, which kind of worries me. Have I become so wrapped up in my own little world that I failed to notice nature’s recent fury, and the unfortunate aftermath? That can’t be good.

When I think back, I vaguely remember that it was very windy Thursday night. But this had virtually no impact on my life, besides the fact that it took me more than an hour to get home from work on the bus. Then that night I woke up several times thinking, “Huh, that wind is really loud,” but then snuggled back down into the covers and dreamed. The next morning a co-worker's call informed me that since the power was out in upper Queen Anne, the busses weren’t running, and she would be more than happy to give me a ride to work. I took the free ride and didn’t think much of it.

But throughout the day I began hearing of more and more people without power. Almost all of my friends did not have to work on Friday due to power outages and bridge closures, and by the end of the day I had an Eastside friend call and ask if she could come over to my apartment and shower that evening. Her power had been knocked out and was not expected to return any time soon. Ironically, my particular block was the only one in Queen Anne that was never without electricity, although it returned to all the other neighborhood areas within 24 hours or so.

I also heard from my friend Steve, who works on the Eastside but had been allowed to leave at 3 p.m. because of nasty storm aftermath. When I spoke with him, he had been on the road for two hours, had gone less than five miles, and was almost out of gas. Traffic was gridlocked and every gas station was either out of gas or had a line a mile long. Crazy! Steve decided to go see a movie and wait it out for a few hours…

In return for the hot shower, I allowed Tara and Winston to take me to the Seattle Thunderbirds hockey game at Key Arena. Anyone who knows me well is aware that I grew up watching ice hockey with my dad, and it’s pretty much one of my very favorite sports to watch. We won the game 6-3, during which Tara and I gossiped and proceeded to drink more than just a little bit of vodka. We then headed down to Del Rey, at which point my memory gets a bit hazy. Poor Doug was forced to come and pick me up and pour me into bed around 1 a.m., and after we had breakfast on Saturday morning I spent the rest of the afternoon in bed.

Saturday night I went over to Lacey’s house to borrow some Mexican attire, and ended up spending the whole evening there watching movies and playing board games. Sobriety can be fun, sometimes! In return for my drunken Friday night ridiculousness, Doug drunk dialed me at 2 a.m. and I was forced (ok, not forced) to go pick him up. Needless to say I didn’t get much sleep. Sunday I ran around like a crazy person in an attempt to organize my life before my trip to Mexico for Christmas. When I spoke to my mom that afternoon, I was shocked to find out that she still did not have power in Olympia! What?? People were still out of power? Interesting. I was not aware.

I was even more shocked to come into work this morning and discover that several of my Eastside-dwelling co-workers still have no electricity, and may remain that way until Thursday! Is this the world of modern technology or what?!? And it’s also completely unbelievable to me that there have been several deaths due to the storm and its aftermath. I really take nature (and my cozy little Queen Anne life) too much for granted. I feel bad that just because this event did not touch me I have been oblivious to the crap others have been going through since this past Thursday. Everyone knows how much it sucks to be without power.

I feel semi-guilty that I was obliviously burning candles by my bedside just for the fun of it this weekend, when other people had to for light. But I have to admit, I have been thoroughly enjoying my heat, hot water, and light. So if any of you Eastsiders would like to come over and shower or watch television, consider yourselves more than welcome. Good luck out there!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Quarter Century

Well, I certainly have nothing to complain about – my 25th birthday weekend was a fantastic success! After a small letdown upon finding out that turning 25 effectively bans me from ever applying to be on MTV’s The Real World, I got over it and celebrated.

Festivities began Friday night at Vessel with my co-worker, Heather. Since her birthday is one day before mine, she invited me to share drinks with her friends after work to celebrate. Located downtown next to the Fifth Avenue Theatre, Vessel defines itself as a “modern and elegant Seattle bar.” Unfortunately, Jeanna and I were not impressed by the tiny venue or the cold, rigid atmosphere. We were crammed into an upstairs room filled with people from a drunken Christmas party. This, combined with vodka and flat diet coke, immediately gave me a headache. We didn’t stay long, but I appreciated the invite.

Saturday morning I got up early to prepare for my Grandma’s birthday, which is also the day before mine. My grandparents, parents, cousin, brother and sister arrived at noon for lunch. Then the girls headed down to McCaw Hall, because we had purchased tickets to The Nutcracker for Grandma’s birthday. I love going to the ballet, and the show was fantastic. I think seeing the Nutcracker every year is a must-have holiday experience, it always puts me in the mood for Christmas. However, the second act was almost completely ruined as the child behind me began to incessantly kick my chair, and a few rows back two sisters started to screech and bicker, which started more of them off. It was hard to concentrate on the show and not all the royal brats who were ruining it for me. I will never understand parents who think a 5-year-old can sit through a two and a half hour ballet.

Cake and ice cream at my house with the family was fun, and I even got some nice gifts, although I didn’t expect any. Since it was my Grandma’s 70th birthday I really wanted it to be her special day, and I think she felt loved and appreciated. After their departure I decided it was absolutely necessary to wear something new on the eve of my birth, so I dragged my cousin Tara up to the Alderwood Mall for shopping. After a frantic trip through Forever 21, we headed back home, where I rushed to get ready for the evening.

The drinking commenced at 8 p.m. with white wine, followed by champagne with Jeanna, Shannon, Jenny and Tara. Shannon and Jenny were sweet enough to give me a very thoughful and fabulous birthday gift. Then we headed down to Twist, where we met up with Vanessa, Lacey, Jillian, Stacy, Mike and Steve. (Crap, did I forget anyone?) Several tall vodka diets and one strawberry champagne later, we proceeded to the bar for birthday shots. I can't remember how many. Eventually we decided to follow Shannon and Jenny down to Sonya’s, and it was apparently my brilliant idea to walk all the way there -- Pioneer Square from Belltown is apparently pretty far, but in hindsight was probably good -- the fresh air may have helped keep me upright.
At this point I have absolutely no sense of time. But the girls had apparently already given up and headed for home, so we decided to go next door to the Starlight Lounge. After running into Jesse Martinez Jr. outside, I attempted to order more drinks, and was immediately cut off by Jeanna. Doug conversed with the two of us, trying to figure out who the hell out of the drunken crazy group would be important enough to remember later on. Shortly thereafter, we decided to walk back nine blocks in the direction we had come from to meet more friends at Del Rey. The following is a little hazy, and was mostly pieced back together by Jeanna and I on Saturday afternoon…

As more and more friends gave up and went home, Jeanna and I eventually were left on our own. We left Del Rey and presumably entered a convenience store somewhere in Belltown. Jeanna bought one of those disgusting frosted individual 99 cent apple pies, and while standing in line to pay noticed that the guy in front of her had two cans of Sparks in his hands. She immediately snatched one, popped the top, and took a gulp. I think I did too. From there, we either walked or took a cab to the Five Point CafĂ© on Denny. You always know it’s been a good night when you’re in the mood for macaroni and cheese triangles. They’re pretty much the best drunken food ever.
Sitting at the bar, someone took the mood lighting candle out of its holder and Jeanna conveniently dug a hole in the middle of the apple pie and stuck the candle in. I think people sang “Happy Birthday.” After being thoroughly freaked out by a crazy woman in the bathroom, Jeanna called it a night and headed home. Damn, I don’t remember eating those mac n cheese triangles, but I bet they were fantastic. I think I ate the whole apple pie, too.

I opened my eyes Saturday morning, moaned and held my head as my cell phone began to ring. Happy birthday to me. Thanks Mom. In an attempt to kick the hangover, we headed down to Pesos for breakfast and the football game. After my first bloody Mary, I began to feel better. Someone conveniently told the bartender it was my birthday, which resulted in a yellow, fruity shot. And then another. So I ordered a vodka diet. HEY, the hangover seemed to be gone! The girl next to me ordered a shot. Mimosa. Another vodka diet. 4 p.m. Game over. Back to my apartment. More wine.

6 p.m. Late for my birthday dinner on Capitol Hill. Picked up Jillian before realizing I was too drunk to drive. Switch. Arrived at Mamounia Restaurant where the girls were already seated. Tried to pull it together. The restaurant was gorgeous and exactly what I had anticipated. I received a fantastic gift from Kelly, and was super excited about the authentic Moroccan cuisine we were going to consume.
Dinner was fantastic, although I can’t remember what I ordered. There was rice, meat, and I think some veggies. We sat on floor pillows and ate with our fingers while watching the belly dancer. When she discovered it was my birthday, she tied a silk scarf around my waist, pulled me up and I became part of the show. Good thing I had had all those drinks after all. After paying for my own dinner and the rest of the tab that is always inevitably left over when a group of people share one bill, I was incredibly disappointed that no one wanted to go for drinks. The food had sobered me up and since it was technically my real birthday, I wanted to celebrate. Luckily, I discovered that some friends were still on the hill.

I met them at Bleu Bistro on Broadway, which is by far the strangest bar I have ever been in. The interior was dark and elusive, with hanging colored cloths that provided private little nooks and corridors everywhere. I felt vaguely claustrophobic, kind of like being inside a honeycomb. However, the fact that the bar served Olympia Beer immediately distracted me – finding bars that serve my hometown brew is definitely one of my favorite things. Finally, we decided to head out… to a karaoke bar in Madison Park which I unfortunately cannot remember the name of.
However, once we got to the bar to order drinks my night got even better. The bartender found out it was my birthday, and immediately began mixing the “birthday drink.” The glass was as big as my head, and I can only assume its original purpose was as a fish bowl or something. He grabbed six bottles of god knows what and started dumping them together. The pink concoction was topped with olives, cherries and other garnishes, and then the kicker… PLOP! You guessed it: An Olympia Beer right in the center!

We sat at a table in the middle of the bar with before someone decided they were drunk enough to sing. I can’t remember for the life of me what song it was, but I knew the words and sang along… loudly. I think we might have danced. At one point I realized my entire drink was gone. We stumbled out of the bar and somehow made our way to Jack in the Box, where I conveniently forgot that I am supposed to be on Phase 2 of SBD. I think I had a Jumbo Jack. It was probably fantastic.
I woke up on Monday morning with the worst hangover of my life, and immediately called in sick to work. I had drank for 14 hours straight, which I think rivals the Sand Dunes. I spent the rest of the day napping and getting sick. It had been a fantastic birthday weekend.
THANK YOU SO MUCH to all of you who came and celebrated with me, at whatever point. I appreciate and love all of you, and it means so much to me that you came out to party and observe my quarter century of life. I’ll see you all soon! Ahh... what a fabulous way to turn 25 years old...!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Beach

After hearing numerous encouragements and rave reviews from various friends about The South Beach Diet, I decided that the day after gorging myself for Thanksgiving would be a good time for me to start. Not only did I want to get my body into tip-top shape for my Mexican Christmas Extravaganza, but I also wanted to start eating healthier and to shake those winter lethargic feelings of laziness and depression. Now I am in the home stretch of Phase 1, and I have to admit, I feel great!

According to the official Web site, The South Beach Diet is not a traditional low-carb plan. Instead, people are encouraged to choose the right carbs, the right fats, and lean sources of protein. “It’s not just a diet, it’s a way to eat for life.”

Following Phase 1 for two weeks kick-started the diet for me. I’ve been eating normal-sized portions of lean meat, fish, eggs, reduced-fat cheese, nonfat yogurt, nuts and plenty of vegetables. I can even have snacks and desserts. And I have to admit, it really hasn’t been that hard at all. I just have to plan my days out a little better as far as food is concerned. The only thing that has been a drag is the no alcohol rule. That’s right, off-limits; not even a drop. And I don’t want to sound like an alcoholic, but it is far less entertaining to go out on the weekends sober.

Although my goal wasn’t necessarily to lose a lot of weight, but generally feel better about my health, I have managed to drop 6 pounds! And I definitely notice it in my middle area, which shows that the diet does in fact “target stubborn belly fat” as it claims. This while eating as much as I want of the things I am allowed. Interesting concept… when you eat healthy things you can eat a lot more of them and lose weight as a result!

So, as Phase 1 comes to a close I have to admit that I am already feeling better. The carb cravings passed after the first few days, and I’ve never been huge on excessive amounts of sugar anyway. I only had one slip-up with some baby carrots, which I later found out are strictly forbidden. But as Larisa pointed out, at least I didn’t accidentally eat a Big Mac.

Moral of the story: I’m loving SBD, but can’t wait until Saturday when I plan on drinking my body weight in wine for my birthday. Thanks to all those who have been so supportive these past few weeks!

Phase 2, here I come…

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Dating Game

Yep, you heard it here first. After uncountable months, I’ve finally started dating, and so far it’s turned out really well! I’ve never been one to juggle multiple guys at one time, so the dating game has never been incredibly appealing. However, it turns out that seeing just one person can be quite entertaining. I will give you a quick synopsis of the past two weeks.

I met him while trying to hail a cab in Belltown late one Saturday night. Always the gentleman, he asked if I needed any help… and wondered if there was the possibility of seeing me again. In an uncharacteristic move based purely off his award-winning smile, I gave out my unlisted phone number. Then on Sunday, I took him up on his offer to meet a group of his friends at a bar to watch the game. I brought along Jeanna and Tara and impartial witnesses. Then on a whim I joined the group to see a band at Chop Suey. We had a fantastic time, I got the thumbs up from the girls, and since then, it’s been a complete whirlwind.

After I got into town on Thursday, I braved going it alone and met him and his friends at the W Hotel downtown for drinks. We then migrated to King’s Hardware for what turned into a lively and competitive game of Skiball, in which I managed to get the overall top score. He must have been impressed, because Friday night we went to the O Lounge for drinks, and then El Gaucho's Pampas Room for more drinks, a live band and… swing dancing! I’ve haven’t had that much fun in a long time. Not that I’m the best swing dancer, but he new enough to teach me a little, and we were (sort of) able to keep up with the apparent professional dancers on the floor.

Gosh, the list goes on, I don’t know if I will even be able to remember all the fantastic things we have managed to cram into just a couple weeks… dinner at Daniel’s Broiler, walks in the snow, “The Great Gatsby” at the Bagley Wright Theatre, breakfasts, movies, watching TV together on my couch, bingo at Jabu’s Pub, drinks and appetizers with his friends at The Waterfront, dessert and drinks at El Gaucho, watching football at Amber... it goes on and on. This besides countless phone calls and text messages – are you thoroughly freaked out for me yet?? He brings me flowers, opens doors, won't let me pay for anything, kisses me in public, holds my hand, calls when he says he will... is this guy for real?

We’ve tried on multiple occasions to spend a couple days apart, but it always seems we somehow always end up together again. And this is completely odd, seeing as he works in the restaurant industry and I expected to rarely see him due to his work schedule. But more often than not I receive a call or text in the afternoon (when I expect him to be working that night) saying, “Do you want to do this or that…” and I’m powerless to decline! The offers (and most importantly, the company) are just irresistible!

I know I should be completely panicking, but so far things have been so great that I haven’t really had time to analyze the situation. I suppose it’s best that I just enjoy what I have while it lasts, because it’s so rare for me to find someone I connect with so well – at least someone who feels the same way about me. I have yet to find a flaw in him; if you’d like a list of his fabulous credentials, I would be more than happy to fill you in. I’m pretty sure I’ve gone on and on about him to most of you already.

What is a girl to do in this type of situation? Normally I would be completely concerned with the games we play, i.e. don’t answer this call because you might seem too needy, don’t say that because he might read into it wrong, etc. But this time I’m going to experiment. I’m just going to let things take their natural course without playing games. If he calls I’ll answer. If he wants to hang out and I’m not busy, I’m all for it. If he asks me what I think about something, I’ll tell the truth, instead of saying what I think he wants to hear. Because if this is going to be real I guess I have to make it real, by being real. And hey, I have some people in my life who have told me that I happen to be pretty fabulous, just the way I am. Thanks guys!

Anyhow, back to this dating game. Does anyone have advice they would like to share? I’m ready and willing to listen, because it’s been a long time since I’ve been in this sort of situation – not only dating, but more importantly someone I really like and who actually treats me amazingly, and so far seems to like me too. (Yes, he's told me...) I’m completely overwhelmed, and more than a little bit twitterpated. Sigh.

Both fingers crossed…