Monday, January 24, 2011

San Francisco, II

I revisited the city of San Francisco, this time for a providential meet-up with my buddies from ThoughtWorks University. I'd spent time with subsets of our group before but this was the first time we were all together in the same place since our Bangalore days (which feel like light-years ago).

I accidentally an epic fail because I forgot to bring my camera with me (packing on Friday morning had been a frantic, hungover, and altogether unattractive affair), so I'm using my friend Sam's photos to abet me visually in composing this entry. All photo creds go to him.

One of the biggest highlights and defining features of our trip was where we stayed, which was an old warehouse in the Mission district that had been converted into an loft of insanity. It housed twelve regular tenants and slept a handful of visitors to the city. There were, among many other amenities, a net that could seat four, a couch suspended off the ground, a stadium-seated theater room, a pinball machine, Japanese-style shelf beds, a ladder to the roof, a tiki bar, and an infinity coffee table that told the time through its LED lights. Everything was made by tech-y twenty-somethings and blew my mind and made me feel horribly uncreative.


(The net, pictured above, had a lot of adorable teddy bears in varying shapes and sizes strewn all over it. I asked one of our hosts why that was, and he said that one of his roommates really dug Asian girls, who in turn really dug teddy bears. So he placed them to lure the girls there and so they could lie down together on the net. The funny thing is, we had this conversation when I myself was on the net, swathed in a fort of floofy stuffed bears.)

Our first night, we went bar hopping - first to the rooftop restaurant of Medjool which had a lovely view of the city's night skyline, and then to a seedier but infinitely more interesting joint just down the road. Ever since I watched that episode of Glee where Mercedes Jones leads her high-school cafeteria protest against the banning of tater tots I have been consumed by an overwhelming craving for the golden little fuckers, a craving that I could never quite fulfill in Canada. Well they were serving tots at this joint and I just about died of a combination of grease and happiness and alcohol poisoning.

At around one thirty in the morning I decided to call it quits because a.) I'd worked and flown earlier and b.) My feet were killing me from being in heels all day. Upon arriving back to our "hotel", I flung my shoes off as far as I could, plopped down on one of the comfy couches in the theater, and got my Mario Cart Wii on in the epic theater. I hadn't assumed my 'Daisy on the Mach Bike' persona since my second year of college and it was a grand affair, revisiting such familiar tracks as Mushroom Gorge (which used to be my best, but destroyed me this time) and Moo Moo Farm.

The next day I woke up to complete darkness, as our room was in the basement. I was completely awake and ready to go and quite pleased that the lack of light had tricked my body into sleeping past its usual hour...OR SO I THOUGHT, cause I quickly realized it was merely 7:30 in the morning. But there was no way my weird biological clock would let me fall back asleep. So I played pinball and read and swung on the couch 'til everyone woke up. We rode the BART to Powell & Market street and had quite the yummy spicy ramen lunch at Katayana. (I also ran into LUSH and stocked up. My collection is growing quite impressive) Then we rented Zipcars - a Mini Cooper and a Beamer! - and zoomed over to the small harbor town across from the Golden Gate Bridge and to Muir Woods, home of Cali's famous redwood trees, for some breathtaking sightseeing. Along the way we wound down Lombard street and got detoured by an anti-abortion rally. There were dreadlocksed people runnin' around with signs that read "We love babies!". And on the way back, while descending the mountains I saw one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen in my life. Oh, California.


After returning the Zipcars, we enjoyed a lovely Italian dinner at La Briciola. At this point I was still accruing a massive sleep deficit and was struggling a bit to stay awake in the cozy, warm restaurant, but two cups of coffee and a lot of "Rose! Wake up!"s kept me from faceplanting into my prosciutto. After dinner, we began our night with a couple of beers at a local dive bar (Benders? Truckers? something like that), where the boys played some billiards. Then we headed over to DNA Lounge, a club. I've never been much into the club scene and felt vaguely uncomfortable with the unseemly acts that were being performed on the dance floor, but I did enjoy seeing some of the costumes that our fellow partygoers (mostly male) wore. Let's just say they would've made Snooki's outfits look modest by comparison and put Lady GaGa to shame.

Oh, and a highlight of that club experience happened when I ran into a girl who was crying to the bouncer that some guy had accused her of being a transvestite. She had quite a bit of a strong jawline but her waist to hip ratio clearly indicated that she was not and had never been, by any stretch of the imagination, a man. Anyway, we had a bit of a chat which went something like this:

Me: "Are you okay? Don't listen to that guy, you're a gorgeous girl."
Her (in between sobs): "Was it my nose? I know it's kind of big!"
Me: "Your nose is fine. "
Her: "Was it my hairy arms?"
Me: "No, it wasn't anything. And look, I have hairy arms too."
Her: "BUT H-H-H-HE ACCUSED ME OF BEING A TRANSVESTITE! I BET YOU'VE NEVER BEEN MISTAKEN FOR A DUDE!"
Me (thinking back to high school): "Eh, you'd be surprised."

The details of how that night ended are still fuzzy, but suffice it to say that I plopped into bed, this time fully prepared to indulge in a good night's rest. Not so - I received a call from a coworker in India at 8 AM and began my day. This time we walked in the gorgeous weather from downtown through Chinatown and along Pier 39, a gaudy and tourist-ridden but relatively mandatory destination where we ate clam chowder out of a bread bowl at Boudin's and saw sea lions arfing in the sun. Then on the way back, all my hopes and dreams were fulfilled when we saw The Bush Man! My buddy Andrew tried to engage him in conversation but The Bush Man was hard at work and only replied with, "you blowin' my cover, man!" when Andrew stood too close by.

I flew out of San Francisco numb in the wake of my marvelous crazy stupendous bizarre exhausting exhilarating delicious delirious experiences. It was truly one of my happier weekends in recent memory. It's only been a day but I miss the sun. I miss the crazies. I miss you, San Francisco.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tonight is one of those earmuff-all-social-events, break-out-the-spicy-ramen, run-a-bubble-bath-and-write-a-blog-post nights.

I was only in Chicago for forty hours this past weekend. Which seems fleeting, 'til you have to spend it under the same roof as these beauties:


I also stumbled into the Chicago ThoughtWorks office and took some pictures of "the beach", which is where consultants go to do pro-bono work or teach themselves other programming languages or whatnot when they are not currently assigned to a billable project. People are constantly arriving to and leaving from "the beach" and as a result, a lot of amusing trinkets find their way there and never really leave.


Meaningful conclusion: I hang around weird people and weird things.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Canada is Cool: A Haiku


My nose hairs grow stiff
As I wait inside the car.
Please heat up faster.

I think my favorite thing about the cold is that it's so darn extreme. Sounds weird but it's true - life is much more exciting when you are living under pretty ridiculous circumstances, and a real feel temperature of minus twenty four degrees (about minus 31 C for my metric friends) is what I consider a pretty ridiculous circumstance. 

Sometimes when I tell people about how cold it gets here they get a horrified look on their face and say things like "How can you stand that?" and regard me in awe like I am some sort of medical freak who loves to roll around in the ice and eat fistfuls of snow. But the truth is, I'm outside every day for maybe a total of five minutes and the rest of the time I am indoors and wholly comfortable and usually nursing a hot beverage. Yeah it sucks to not be able to run outside or walk around with wet hair or open the sunroof of my rental car but life goes on and people find equally enjoyable things to do under a roof. Also we are less susceptible to skin cancer, hurrah!

I think that even though we all say we crave nice weather, our actual happiness is ultimately all relative to what we're used to. I'm sure Californians who wake up every day to balmy 73 degree weather get desensitized to beautiful weather and are always content with it whereas for me, a nice day is incredibly special and I experience a more concentrated spurt of happiness because I can appreciate it that much more. I think the ideal place weather-wise is somewhere that experiences all four seasons in moderate amounts - that way, life changes the most with each passing season and you get to really change things up, from what you do on the weekends to what color nail polish you wear :-)

Man, I can't believe I just wrote a whole entry and a poem about the weather. I am turning into an old geezer.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Hehe

Thought I'd share today's Beartato cause I saw it first thing in the morning and it made me chuckle. All credit goes to Anthony Clark at nedroid.com
I am currently spending this weekend in Calgary in the delightful company of my best friend in the whole wide world. I would share the adventures we've had thus far but have no way of transferring pictures until I go back to Chicago this weekend. But the basic gist is that we frolicked about Banff National Park all day and all night and had ourselves a grand old time and even a few mouthfuls of elk for dinner - expect an more detailed entry soon!

Just looked up the weather and the real feel temp is -18 degrees F - baby it's cold outside! I'm all cozy and warm and snuggled under the covers right now, contentedly typing away and happily recollecting all of yesterday's details. Life is good.

Monday, January 03, 2011

A post in which I bitch about something that isn't really that bad but I feel like bitching about it anyway

POP QUIZ!

What do Lord Voldemort and I have in common?

A.) We both fraternize with snakes in our spare time.
B.) We both want to seize control of the wizarding world and purify it of those dratted mudbloods.
C.) We were both reborn in a kettle using a magical concoction of blood from Peter Pettigrew, Harry Potter, and our dead fathers.
D.) We both have split up our lives into horcruxes within different locations and are probably en route to developing acute schizophrenia.

The correct answer is D. Whereas Voldy had himself split seven ways (he was complicated and had many layers, like an evil onion), I find my life divided between three completely different places (I guess that makes me a smaller, but probably more confused onion).


Parts of me - my passions, my interests, my strengths and weaknesses - are practically nonexistent in some places but define me in others. I do not feel 100% myself most of the time anymore and no longer have a sense of a base and no incentive to ever nest and invest in my surroundings - everything is fleeting, temporary, and leaves me craving for just a little bit more time. Not to mention the physical things that are haphazardly and inconveniently scattered across my three homes. For example, my camera is here with me in Calgary right now but the USB chord and charger are both in Chicago. Each of the books within my Millennium Trilogy series currently sits in its own city. I own anywhere between three to four identical instances of any article of toiletry. I use two phones, two laptops, drive two cars, play with two cats, fiddle around on three guitars, play on three chess sets, visit four different libraries, check five e-mail addresses daily, surf the net regularly on six or seven different networks, carry a dozen keys with me at all times, and have a partridge in a pear tree. I put time and effort into staying in the lives of people I care about but still end up doing a mediocre job across the board, so I pathetically suggest they read this blog if they want to check from time to time that I still exist somewhere on this planet.

The only things that are constantly actually with me at any given time are usually my personal computer and the documentation I need to board a plane. And a spare tube of travel-sized mascara.

Keeping track of all this stuff is confusing and exhausting. I don't know how Voldemort did it - sometimes I feel like I'm going to have an existential crisis and shatter into three pieces. Or that I need to invest in some serious cloning technology. Where's Hermione's time turner when you need it?