Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Funny Note About My Mother

If you haven't met my mother before, I must tell you she's a funny little character.

Meems freezing her tootsie off in NYC.

OK, so you know she gave my boyfriend moldy pond water to quench his thirst, eats moldy cheese, and used to make me sandwiches at lunch with moldy bread (moldy portions surreptiously cut off, of course). But she's pretty damn funny...

The story of my childhood lunchtime... "but Penicillin is made from mold! This bread is fine!!"

As you may recall from my blog last winter/spring, my mom decided that after achieving two Master's degrees and a managerial position at a large law firm, she needed to take it down a notch -- err, I mean increase her world knowledge -- by attending bartending school. She graduated last spring with flying colors, earning her official "mixologist" degree and has spent the latter part of the summer (after recovering from foot surgery) pursuing part-time bartending jobs.

She got business cards, in which she calls herself "Hampton on the Rocks" (her last name is Hampton, which she randomly picked after my parents got divorced and she wanted to chuck my dad's last name), and she created a little book in which she placed all of the local DC caterers' information for interviews.

Her perseverence paid off, as
Ridgewells (apparently one of DC's larger catering companies) hired her on the spot, and she had her first job at a Redskins pre-season game in a corporate box suite.

However, turns out (unbeknownst to her until today) she was only a sub that night, as the regular season bartender was on vacation that evening. So what is she doing at the next Redskins game (on Thursday/tonight)? She's running the pastry cart! Bwaaahahahahahaha... I find that freaking hilarious ---getcher donuts!!... dooooonutttts!! hot scone here!!... fresh cookies for ya!!

And better yet, guess what gig she has this Saturday afternoon/evening with a different caterer? She will be the bartender at a local Bar Mitzvah!!! Bwaaaaaahahahahaha again!!!!! I laughed so hard on the phone with her tonight that tears formed.

As this Ben Stiller/U2 Bar Mitzvah video says...

Mom, "you have to start somewhere..."


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Early to Bed

I'm really hoping to look like this when I wake up tomorrow morning:

But right now, I feel like this:

I'm feeling a bit frazzled about my Arabic homework, upcoming papers, and my general level of apathy so far this semester.

I think I should go to be early (ie: before midnight) tonight, or at least crawl under my covers and read quietly for a while. Auf Wiedersehn.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Case of JonBeignet

I personally am a little disappointed that John Mark Karr's DNA didn't match the JonBenet crime scene. He was so freakishly scary that I almost imagined he might have done her in. But alas, it was not true. Today, I clicked on CNN and saw this headline picture about the case...

Let me ask you, what is scarier: the hermaphroditic wanna-be criminal, staring blankly out the window with his polo shirt buttoned up to his neck, or that little claw-like hand in the bottom left of the car window? Is that really a full-grown adult woman's hand?

Finally, on a somewhat unrelated note, I just can't get over the name "JonBenet." I think it's because every time I say it out loud, or in my mind while reading, I think of those beignet doughnut things from New Orleans.

My mom and dad went there once for a romantic getaway (mind closing down to any thoughts related to that topic... plugging ears, closing eyes... ) when I was a kid, and I remember my mom brought back a box of beignet mix that looked just like this... it sat in our cupboard almost untouched for about five years until it got infested with mealworms.

Cafe du Monde is apparently famous for making the unhealthy morning treat.

However, after returning home with the mix, my mom did attempt to make them one time, but she isn't so skilled with the Fry Daddy. Hmmm, that's probably a good thing, actually.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Job Hunting and Goth Watching

My first weekend in Tucson... dinner at Shauna's with some girls from my department on Friday night, job searching on Saturday, and a great night out last night with some new friends here. Today: homework.

Yes, it's true... I'm looking for a job. After moping around my apartment all week with not enough to do, I decided I should put my time to good use and at least make a little money. So I got in my car yesterday and drove up to La Encantada, which is an upscale, outdoor mall about 6 miles from my place in the foothills of the mountains that surround Tucson. ..

I've been looking in the paper for jobs, but most of them are food service (umm, no thanks) so I decided that it might be easier to work for a corporate retail giant, where I could have more flexible, daytime hours and work in an air conditioned environment helping people buy things they don't really need. So I got applications for Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, L'Occitane, and Ann Taylor. With the exception of Pottery Barn (which I find rather snooty and grossly overpriced) and Anthropologie (which is generally a little too "girly" for my personal style), I actually shop at all the other stores so the discount could come in handy.

I also found an ad in the paper for the Pima County Sheriff's Office, which is looking for part-time typists to transcribe criminal and witness statements for $11.62/hour. First of all, I am not ashamed to admit that I follow all the latest macabre news stories (ie: Natalee Holloway, Chandra Levy, JonBenet) so I am intrigued by the possibility of getting some interesting criminal gossip in Pima County.

The Bermuda Triangle of intrigue & mystery...

Anyway, I'll keep you posted on the job situation...

Today I have a shitload of homework to do, and I'm already procrastinating. I was out until 2:45am last night, dancing with my friend Ben and his friends Anna and Ingrid (who are both 30 and non-students!!). Ben was friends last year with my friends Ash and Greg (who have graduated), but Ash sent Ben my e-mail, and Ben invited me out dancing last night. We went to this place called Heart Five in downtown Tucson and danced to techno for much of the night

We also stopped by Asylum (I recommend checking the photo gallery on this website if you have time), which is this total goth bar with people wearing safety pins in their noses, fishnet tights, combat boots, pleather and chains, and all of whom have dyed black hair (personally, I thought Goth passed out of style in the 90's but clearly not in Tucson). Anyway, it was fabulous people watching, and I confess that I totally gawked at the extremely dramatic dance floor participants (hello, "Gene loves Jezebel" meets "Siouxsie & the Banshees") the entire time we were there. The hystrionic antics of emotional pain were intense... ie: heart grabbing, arm swinging, clenched fists, teardrop miming, etc...

This video clip says it all:

I love Southpark...

Also, for a laugh, download this song... "I Am Gothic" by Spray.

I really fit the conformist part last night in my Forever 21 tanktop, DKNY jeans and strappy sandals. I am such a zombie. Anyway, Anna & Ingrid are a blast, and we totally got along like I've known them for years so I'm really looking forward to hanging out with all of them again!!!

Now I really have to go do some work... toodles.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Day of Ups and Downs

Two very interesting things happened to me today. One better than the other.

First, the good thing... well, maybe not "good," but kind of exciting nonetheless. As I was riding home from the gym on my bicycle around 11:45 this morning, I was flagged down on campus by a guy with a big Tucson Channel 4 (NBC) camera. He asked if he could interview me about bike safety for the evening news.

My primary concern was if I would have to be shown on TV. Not that I'm not interested in my 15 minutes of fame or anything, but after I exercise, I tend to turn tomato red. I was also not wearing a speck of make-up, I had not yet showered after my work out, and I was wearing this scabby old Gap tank top I bought from the clearance bin at an outlet. Not exactly the look I'd choose for a TV interview. Despite my vanity, I agreed to the interview, unable to resist the lure of a local news cameo.

In the end, I talked a little about the problem of sharing the road with pedestrians on campus, and then I added some corny bit about how I got a bell on my bike last year as a way to avoid hitting someone. When the news story aired tonight at 6pm, I found it amusing that that was the only part they included... the bell on my bike snippet. All of about 5 seconds. Which is totally relieving given that I looked like complete ass.

I tried to find a link to the story on the News 4 website, but it didn't merit a posting. So I took a picture of my TV screen instead to prove I'm not making this mumbo jumbo up...

(Paola -- you will appreciate the Invicta backpack straps, I'm sure!)

Anyway, the second interesting thing that happened to me today was not so wonderful. I stepped in fresh vomit in a Target parking lot tonight. Not my own. It had apparently been left by some poor, sick soul who probably ran out of Target at full speed about 20 minutes earlier and lost their dinner next to their car (to be replaced by my car soon afterwards, thus my blind step out the door into the puke). I had a very powerful Purell moment thereafter... as in wanting to bathe in it.

It was truly one of the grosser moments in my life, and I will never be able to look at that pair of shoes (a once cute brown pair of flats bought at Lara's in DC about two years ago) ever again, but luckily they did wipe clean inside Target.

So indeed a day of ups and downs. Now I'm hitting the sack... ciao!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

North Carolina -- Part Deux

Tonight I'm going to finish sharing the mass of North Carolina pictures that we took on our vacation last week.

After we left Steph and Dave's house on Tuesday, August 15, we headed east and boarded a car ferry going two hours further east to Ocracoke Island, the southernmost island in North Carolina's Outer Banks. The island is only accessible by ferry. There are no bridges anywhere to the mainland, although it's only a 40 minute ferry ride going NE toward Cape Hatteras.

Here's a general idea of where it is:

And here's a map of the island, which is comprised of a tiny village in the NW quadrant (established in the 1600s and home to Blackbeard the Pirate in the early 1700s), and then 16 solid miles of National Park protected beach along the Atlantic shore. Since only a limited number of people can stay in the village, and the island is only accessible by ferry, the beach is in pristine condition and is largely deserted in many areas... my idea of a perfect beach vacation...

Here I am on the two-hour ferry ride from Cedar Island to Ocracoke:

If you haven't tried the new "chocolate lovers" Chex Mix, I highly recommend it.

Here are two pictures of the boat pulling into Ocracoke Village's port:

After checking into our tiny hotel, we hit the beach in full force later in the afternoon:

We took a two mile walk along the water... great leg work out!

The next morning we woke up early and hit the beach again...

I loved this cloud bank. It reminded me of the white city in one of the Lord of the Rings movies.

Self-portrait... (no one around to take it for us!)

(BTW, I'm wearing this dreadful red ball cap in every single picture from the vacation... but on a positive note, I was saving my skin from the ravages of sun-induced wrinkles.)

In the afternoon, we checked out Ocracoke's famous lighthouse:

Here are two more pictures of it later that evening...

When we woke up Thursday morning, it was raining cats and dogs so we hung out and had a leisurely breakfast. However, the weather broke around noon so we decided to hop on our rented beach bikes and check out the village.

These are our bikes (everyone rides them to get around town):

What we didn't know was that another massive storm was coming our way. And we got caught smack in the middle of it. Despite the rain coming down so hard that I literally could not see and being so drenched that I was literally wringing out my clothes, Miguel wanted to stop in a small clearing on the side of the road to try and preserve some semblance of dry-ness, but as you can see, it was pretty impossible...

I found it a bit more amusing than he.

Here's the view out the other side of the umbrella...

The early evening was gorgeous though, and we had to make another appearance at the beach...

Even the velociraptors enjoyed the seaside view.

On our final morning (Friday), we woke up early and beached again. Here I am flying our trademark kite, AKA our Jolly Roger.

OK, so it's a butterfly instead of a skull & crossbones, but we're nice people... or at least Miguel is.

Speaking of, isn't he so cute?

My attempt at an "artsy" shot.

Here I am trying not to think about returning to Tucson in two days...

Arizona, where what why?

Although my hand looks oddly frozen in space here, I am actually controlling the string of the kite, which had a habit of losing wind sometimes and crashing to planet Earth...

Miguel and I went a little crazy about shell collecting. We likened it to panning for gold. Although I went a bit more overboard than him in my enthusiasm, he was greatly entertained by watching me wade around in the water digging in hopes of finding an elusive conch shell. In the end, I never found one, but I did find this absolutely perfectly humongous clam shell, which I was quite proud of...

As for lodging, we stayed at Edward's of Ocracoke, which I am positive is the cutest place to stay in the whole village. Here is our bungalow efficiency apartment, with kitchen, screened porch, and clothes line (which is a total necessity for hanging out wet swimwear)...

And here's another self-portrait in front of our little place:

And here's the cat I called "Sybil" because she was totally psycho and attacked my ankle with her sharp little teeth and then stalked me outside the porch for the next few days...

And here is our only real picture together -- taken outside the Pony Island Restaurant -- where we had lunch before heading north to DC and the real world...

May I strongly recommend the hush puppies...

... which are absolutely worth an adoring gaze.

Here's Miguel on the ferry to Hatteras...

And the vacation wouldn't be complete without one final stop. After reading in our NC guide book that the somewhat highbrow Outer Banks town of Duck had a shopping area called "Scarborough Faire" (please note - that's FairE, with an "E", for posh pretentiousness), we took a 20 minute detour to check it out, just for the name.

Are you going to Scarborough Faire?... Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme...

I'm doing my best here to look worthy of Scarborough Faire - "the" Shopping Village. Very posh indeed.

Just in case you need an audio cue, here are Simon and Garfunkel singing the old classic (admittedly one of my favorites)...

And on that note, good night bourgeousie. (God, I hope I spelled that right).

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

North Carolina -- Part I

I realized tonight that I took a shitload of pictures on our trip to NC last week. So this evening I'm just going to include photos from our visit to Stephanie and Dave's house in Havelock.

Our primary reason for going there was to visit one of my very best friends, Stephanie (who used to live in Turkey with me and was also in the USAF) and her husband, Dave (who she met in Turkey). I hadn't seen Steph in two years so I was dying to visit her and finally meet their children. They've lived all over the US for the past couple of years, and Dave just got back from a six month jaunt to Iraq... so I figured we should visit while we could!

Here's where Havelock is located:

There's pretty much nothing cosmopolitan nearby. Like, not even a Starbuck's. Apparently you have to drive two hours to Raleigh if you want corporate coffee... or real cream in your drink, as opposed to non-dairy creamer, which appears to be the standard in Havelock.

It's fair to say that Dave (who is definitely more of an urbanite than Stephanie, who is from upstate Minnesota, an hour from the North Dakota border, and is used to remote locations) isn't exactly fond of rural North Carolina. So why do they live there, you might ask?

Dave flies one of these for the USMC:

It's an EA6B Prowler (electronics/radar jammer), and the only place they're stationed is Cherry Point Air Station located in... yes, that's right... Havelock, where a day of shopping = Walmart. Poor Dave.

However, they have a cute house on base, and if you click on the picture on the left, you will see that they even have an official name plate in the lawn with Dave's rank. How hierarchical. Stephanie doesn't like living on base so she bought a foreclosed house about 10 minutes away that is in the process of being totally gutted and renovated. We visited it, but I forgot to take a picture. Just imagine a tan brick Colonial style box.

Here are Steph and Dave's boys, Thomas (3 mos) and Nathan (2 in September)...

I could never find a way to get a picture of Stephanie not involved in kid activities so here she is reading a book to Nathan one evening... and the first of many pictures of me holding Thomas, who at 3 months is like a cuddly little sack of potatoes, and I just couldn't get enough of him...

I forced Miguel to take Thomas here. He was much happier hanging out and drinking Hefeweizen with Dave than schmoozing around with the baby. But as you can see, I was quite fond of smothering poor Thomas...

Here's a Smith-Franklin family photo at Atlantic Beach. Havelock might not be NYC, but at least there is a gorgeous beach only 30 minutes away... here is one of the few solo photos of Nathan. He wouldn't sit still long enough to get many pictures of him...

Thomas and me... not only is the hat blinding him, but he might be getting boils from being held by me so much. He was so freaking cute...

Dave made him a little sun cave. Between Steph, Miguel and me, we snapped about 15 pictures like this. Here are the two best ones...

This is the next morning prior to our departure. More snuggling from Auntie Kit... and Miguel too. (Nathan had already strapped himself in his carseat and refused to leave the mini-van (yes, I did say mini-van, although Dave is still in denial and prefers to focus on its high-tech aspects, such as its built-in DVD player AKA "neglectavision")...

And that was that. We had such a good time with them, talking, catching up, enjoying the beach, sharing a delicious waterfront seafood dinner (sorry, no pics of that, but we were busy eating), and then hanging out late that night hearing Dave's myriad stories -- from going to Indonesia after the tsunami to life in Iraq.

We left last Tuesday morning, heading northeast to Ocracoke Island, which will be featured next time.

As one last note, I just had to draw attention to two photos that came up when I Google image searched for "Havelock North Carolina." The first is positively scary. Apparently there is some boondocks North Carolina dating site, and this man's photo popped up...

Grrrrr... you go, Tiger!

The second is this sign that really is posted outside the Marine Air Base... saying "Pardon Our Noise... It's the Sound of Freedom"... OK, I was in the military for four years so I'm allowed to say this, even if no one else will... THE MILITARY CAN BE SO FREAKING CORNY.

For the love of God, please someone stop this sappy schmaltz the military insists on doling out. It's simply wretched.

And that's my two cents for tonight. Toodles!