Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween

What a beautiful weekend it was. We went on long walks both Saturday and Sunday to take advantage of the sun's presence and to enjoy the balmy (for Montreal in October) temperatures. I got this shot by stopping and looking up from one of the tree lined streets.

Monday to Wednesday posts are short by necessity, check out the road to montreal update from yesterday if you haven't already done so.

Tonight is one of my favorite nights, giving out the candy to trick or treaters. Hopefully I'll get a pic or two for tomorrow.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The road to Montreal part 5

part 4

While it may seem that it's taking a long time to get this story out, trust me I'm skipping lots. There was the earthquake in January 1994 that brought the city to a standstill, there was the crazy (in the insane way) roommate, Lisa, whom Serge lived with, and there was the game show I went on with my roommate. I guess it's important to mention the game show, because this little event ended up playing a role in what happened next. To recap. Went to Hong Kong, fell in love, brought Serge to Los Angeles and five months later, during a visit to Montreal, Serge is blocked at the border and barred from reentering the US for five years.

I came home from the ill-ended vacation depressed and angry at the world. I went to Serge's apartment roommate and explained the situation, boxed up his things and sent them to Montreal. Serge and I spoke often, and he went to work finding a job and an apartment in Montreal. I had recently auditioned for Supermarket Sweep with my roommate James, and we were called to do the show in March. We ended up being the biggest winners in the history of the show. (I think they reran our show thousands of times on the Lifetime channel, so maybe you've seen it.) Which wasn't much, it being a pretty low budget game show. We won a car each plus some cash. I wouldn't be able to get the car and cash until December when the show was due to air. I was 29 and had about $8,000 in the bank. I decided that I would like to spend the summer with Serge in Montreal and see if we could figure out how to make a future together. The Ritz Carlton said "NO!" to my three-month leave of absence request, so I basically said, "Fuck you then, I'm quitting." You give a company five of the best working years of your life, and they treat you like that. Shame on them. Not that I'm bitter or anything, because you couldn't pay me enough to work for them now.

On June 17th, after having put my things in storage and quitting my job, I drove my toyota pickup to Montreal. Serge lived in a very small one bedroom apartment right in the heart of Montreal near the village. There was trouble adjusting at the beginning, nearly five months apart had been a long time, and well, let's just say that I almost drove back home to California that first week. Ah, but I fell even more in love with Montreal in the summertime and got to see the amazing festivals and night life in July and August.

Serge loves this picture, it's of me in the fall of 94 riding the chairlift at Mont Tremblant.

I took beginner French and got a job working under the table at a restaurant to extend my stay. Serge really wanted to go back to California with me while I wondered about staying in Montreal. But how?

We came up with a new plan.

Me: I know! New Year's Eve, New York City, at the border they'll just wave you through.

Serge: Not in your car. It's from California.

Me: How about a friend of yours? They can just turn around and come back after you're through. I'll drive through alone.

Serge: Hard to ask someone that.

Me: Your friends know our story, they would be happy to help. Just ask.

And he did ask. And they were happy to help. And on December 31st, my car loaded with our things, Serge in a car with friends ahead of me, we approached the US border. Our plan was to rendez vous at the first Mc Donald's on the other side should either of us get detained. Serge and his friends were waved through. I was stopped and searched thoroughly. At the Mc Donald's just a couple miles down the road, I met Serge and his friends. Serge hopped into the car, and we drove and drove and drove to a new chapter in our lives together.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Sunshine, pee and chores

The sun is finally due to shine today. I've not seen it since last Saturday. Perhaps that's the best explanation for this week's moodiness. Today we also get to say goodbye to Naya, the neurotic pet we're sitting. Sleep has been disrupted (constant whimpering and pacing). The couch and bed have been peed on. And though she's adorable, I really can't wait to get some good sleep tonight.
Sara and Naya

On tap this weekend, we have a brunch with some friends this morning. Then cleaning out closets and other household chores. Tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful, so we'll try to get outside maybe go to the park for some late autumn pictures.

I'll try also to continue the road to montreal story tomorrow. Good weekend to everyone.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Three whys

Why is it that a majority of men face away from the showerhead when taking a shower, while the majority of women tend to face the showerhead? Furthermore, why was it important to telephone 1000 people to survey them on such things. But this just really stumps me, that there is a different tendency, and what possible reason there could be for it. We all turn in the shower (unless you take baths of course) but have a preferred resting position. I face away. I don't know why. (You can see some other results of the survey here.)

Why do people stop walking when they get on the "down" escalator? It's not a ride, people. And unless you're wielding a cane or your age is approaching that of hills, why would you stop? How hard is it to walk down the stairs of the escalator? Would you never walk if the sidewalks were moving? I bristle at laziness such as this. Unless you have another explanation?

Why is it that people are so attracted by all the things our new electronic gadgets can do, even though they never fully learned to use the thing it replaced? And moreover, why the attraction to these new things? I mean "progress" is a whole litany of inventions that have taken effort out of everything. With each new gadget, some mental or physical task is rendered easier. All we're doing is enabling ourselves to become dumber and lazier. No wonder obesity is a problem and Bush is in the White House. What progress!

Today's mood: prickly

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The road to Montreal part 4

part 3 part 2 part 1

The weeks passed. Serge and I met on the weekends and lamented my impending departure. At the end of my gig living and working at the Ritz Carlton, I checked out and went to the airline office to change my flight back to the states. I extended my stay by four days and went to stay with Serge. This is when we came up with the plan. The plan went something like this: I go home to Los Angeles. Serge gives his notice at work and flies to LA to join me. We find him an apartment and continue building a relationship. Only of cursory concern was the fact that we were of two different nationalities. In our minds Canada and the U.S. were practically the same. I worked with a few Canadians and they didn't seem to have trouble working in the states. (Later I found out they DID have difficulties working legally.)

A word about naiveté. A friend of mine recently commented on my writing "voice". She said it was the voice of a jaded soul longing to be naive again. I liked this description and found some truth to it. It's true I long for innocence, because I look back to times like this and I realize that due to our naiveté, we are now living here together twelve years later.

Because, if we had known better, we would never have embarked on such a hair-brained journey.

But embark we did.

A month later in October 1993, I met Serge at Los Angeles international airport and brought him home. He was wide-eyed and star-struck, and felt like he was living his dream of beaches, palm trees, sunny climate and the all American boy he snagged.

Within a few weeks, we found him a place to stay near my apartment in Venice. (We weren't quite ready to commit to living together yet.) Then we set out to find him work and soon had to face the fact that employers required documents - piddly little things like U.S identification and social security cards.

My Mexican friends hooked us up. We entered the underground world of counterfeit document manufacturing and soon procured a green card and social security card for him - both fake. At the time this was what I loved about America, if you wanted to buy it, there was always someone selling it.

(We did get Serge a real Social Security card which was required to get a real California driver's license, but the real SS card had "not valid for employment" printed on it. Nowadays, you cannot get a DL with this kind of SS card. They changed the law about 1995. You know this will come into play later.)

So he used the fake social security card with the fake green card to gain employment.

There was something completely thrilling, an "against all odds" feeling we began to adopt as our love flourished. It all seemed so forbidden, and therefore, all the more exciting.

In February 1994, Serge wanted to pay a visit to his family whom he hadn't seen for over a year. I knew nothing of Montreal at the time and wanted to visit with him. So we bought round trip tickets LA-Montreal and I was able to visit Montreal for the first time. It was my turn to be starry-eyed. I was enchanted by the snow, the architecture, the French language which were all foreign to me at the time. I met Serge's family and friends and got to see the main sightseeing places around town. I loved the nights out we passed in the gay village. I imagined living there someday.

When we went to the airport in Montreal to return to Los Angeles, Serge was detained by U.S. immigration officials. I had to board the flight alone, not knowing what had happened. There were tears on that plane.

As it turned out, Immigration had found some telling documents in his wallet after Serge had answered "I'm not really living anywhere right now," to the question, "Where do you live?" They barred him from reentering the United States for five years.

Our plan seemed to be unraveling.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Stacatto thoughts

This is Naya. We met her the other day and offered to watch her when her owner went away for a few days. She came over last night for a three day visit. She whimpered from about midnight to 4am robbing me of sleep. If I weren't so tired, I'd really hate her for this.

A friend hooked us up with Jamiroquai tickets for tomorrow night. I had tried to get tickets weeks ago but they were sold out. Luckily, I have a friend who has access to strings to pull.

I'm wondering when it will stop raining. It has been doing so for days.

Thanks to everyone for the encouragement the last couple of days. What a funk I was in.

Tomorrow, I don't have to leave at dawn so I'll have another update to "The road to Montreal". Stay tuned for that, and have a happy hump day.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Wherein your host makes excuses

Well, Tuesday sucks marginally less than Monday. The sky isn't helping. Three consecutive days of gray, cold and rainy weather makes for a depressive mood.

I'm strapped for time again this morning. And I think the muse has left the building anyway.

Here's the prize I'm keeping my eye on:

Only 60 days until Christmas vacation.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The road to Montreal part 3

Part I Part 2

I went into the club that night jet-lagged and swirly-headed. I didn't feel like myself. I ordered a beer and surveyed the mostly white crowd with maybe a quarter Chinese. I was tired. I didn't think I would last long this night, but was happy I had found the place and knew I would be back during my six week stay. I was kind of zoning out, watching the dancers on the dance floor, sipping my beer when a very tall man named Shane appeared at my side.

"Hi, is this your first time in Hong Kong?....I'm Shane by the way," he said oozing confidence.

"What gave me away?" I laughed, "I'm Richard."

"You're shoes, and I've never seen you here and I really do know everyone here worth knowing. Come, meet my friends." Pulling on my arm.

I let him lead me over to his court of young men and he introduced me to them. I thought one of them was particularly cute, though I knew too that Shane was posturing as though he had claimed me. I played the new arrival, which was easy since true, and they told me all about life in Hong Kong, things to do, places to go.

We drank and danced and finally closed the bar and headed out for food. Our group ordered breakfast and we ate together and got ready to leave. It was about four am and we were standing on the sidewalk hailing taxis. Just as I was getting into my taxi, I made an impulsive move. "Come spend the night with me.... Just to sleep," I said to the cute one, Serge, who I had been secretly flirting with throughout the night. "I'm staying at the Ritz Carlton, and you can take the subway home in the morning." He hesitated a little too long, so I grabbed his arm and pulled him into the cab with me. We were off. I think Shane was very disappointed.

This is a picture of Serge that first night in the Ritz Carlton over twelve years ago. I am really glad I took a picture that night.

After room service and sex the next morning, we said our goodbyes and I got his phone number. I didn't think I needed to give mine since I was staying at the hotel. The following days were hectic as I began my life as a slave in the hotel. I met great people from around the world and who lived in Hong Kong working in the dining room of the hotel. Some ex-pats from Britain became my constant pals as we hid out in the British pub nearby on our afternoon breaks. (The employee cafeteria food was always Chinese food, so we went out to eat meat and potatoes. )

Serge kept drifting back into my thoughts, and I really wanted to see him again. Three days later, I tried him.

"Hey, it's Richard, remember me from the other night?"

"Yes. Hi Richard."

"How are you?"

"Good. Yourself?"

"Good, I um, I was thinking about you, and so I called you."

"Me too."

"Maybe we can do something together?"


Serge was and is a francophone. At this time, his English skills were very rudimentary. We decided that I would visit his place on Saturday night after I got off work. I would have to catch the last train out, a forty minute ride to the suburbs. I arranged to get off early in order to catch it. I had directions, but they were unclear and used descriptions since neither of us could read Cantonese. "When you get off the train, go straight a couple minutes and look for the very tall building, there are trees and go up to the 19th floor." Needless to say, it was a real challenge finding his apartment in the pouring rain at night. Once again, I was on the verge of giving up, when I finally found his building, one of about 10 identical apartment skyscrapers surrounding a park and pool courtyard.

I arrived wet, and he quickly helped me into a robe, which I would wear for the next 24 hours. This was the weekend of falling in love.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Say goodbye to Cozumel

We spent the day here last week when we were in Cozumel. It's called Paradise Beach and we had a great day playing in the water, snorkeling, and getting massages.

I doubt it will look like this again for a long time given Wilma's two day battering she has wrought. I hope everyone is at least safe there.

Last night we went to a dinner party with some friends. I would have a picture of that for you except that I dropped the camera and it isn't working anymore. (We have a second camera though, so I will still be able to take future pictures.)

I haven't been able to catch up since vacation. I'm behind on my blogging, my email, my job work and this weekend is devoted to catching up. Plus caulking. Must caulk the doors and windows. Oh yeah, and switch around the clothing - put away the summer clothes, and haul out the winter ones.

And I want to write the road to Montreal third episode for tomorrow.

Too much to do, too little time. Gotta go, good Saturday to you.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Short, good and bad

I thought we had missed the peak color this year when we went on vacation. Luckily, the trees changed later this year than usual. There are stunning sights like this all over town now.

Went on line yesterday to check the status of my citizenship application and discovered that I missed my oath taking. Apparently I was sent a notice in August. I never received the notice, so I didn't know about the appointment. I'm irritated that I could already be a citizen. I called and they are "sending a referral" to the montreal office. Whatever that means. Hopefully, I won't be penalized because of this postal error.

Short post today. I know this pleases you. Remember to laugh today.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Out of the mouths of grown ups and HNT*

Rather kissable, don't you think?.

Overheard on the cruise last week:

- In the buffet line, "Good lord, there's a lot of black people on this boat." (1st day out of the mouth of a mother loading plates with her two boys and husband)

- At dinner after Grand Cayman, "You know you (meaning us) being on this cruise is proof that God loves you more than the homeless." This made me laugh.

- Around the pool, "She really shouldn't be allowed to wear a bathing suit." (From a girl no less)

- "We let you have 5 ice cream cones yesterday, and you know we agreed that you would only have three per day."

- "Can't they do something about the ship rocking?!"

- "Best way to treat a hemmorhoid is to use some spray deoderant on it - shrinks it right up." (From a fellow passenger we shared a table with at lunch one day. While we were EATING. They were from Tennessee. When we subsequently ran into them later on the ship, we said "Hey, it's the hemmorhoid people!" I don't think they liked that.)

- " Why don't they call it snails? A almost ATE one of those motherf&%$ers! They callin it Eskergets or some shit!" (There was an escargots in puff pastry kind of thing on the buffet line that day. )

*HNT = Half Nekkid Thursday, read all about it here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I remember

Another cruise shot. Blame the scanner for the quality.

This is a little exercise borrowed from Rebekah. (I hope I did it right.)

I remember my Dad blowing a gasket when gas hit thirty cents a gallon.

I remember the first time I ate a persimmon. It was the most delicious thing I had ever eaten.

I remember being intensely in love with Karen Lake in the fourth grade. Her way of ending it was to tell me she had been "felt up" by a boy named Todd in her neighborhood. I asked, "What does that mean?" She explained and I cried myself to sleep every night for a week. Mom thought she made me gay, I think it might've been Karen Lake.

I remember being good at only two sports. The pogo stick and the unicycle.

I remember my Dad sawing the horns off our goat "Billy". I remember the crying sound that Billy made during the procedure and the white ointment Dad used to cover the wounds.

I remember lying in bed hearing the bombs the marines practiced with at Camp Pendleton. I thought it was the sound of Godzilla's footsteps coming to get me.

I remember Mrs. Shandy, my sixth grade teacher, explaining "wet dreams" to us. I remember hoping that it would never happen to me.

I remember rushing our dog "Cappy" to the hospital after being struck by a car. Blood flowed from her mouth and made a puddle on the floor of the car. She never came back from the hospital.

One year, I remember begging, nay beseeching, my parents for an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas. I remember getting a G I Joe instead.

I remember playing in the yard with Chucky and his little sister next door. His little sister picked up a snail and ate it. We ran and told his mother, who then washed her mouth out with soap.

I remember the doctor telling my mother that I was in perfect health but that it was curious that my left testicle hung lower than my right. Apparently it is nearly always the other way around. (Guys, you can verify this now if you'd like.)

I remember in Kindergarten when Tammy and I were showing each other how we peed. It was fascinating. Then the teacher caught us and forbade us from playing together for the rest of the year. I remember we didn't understand what we had done wrong.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A strange day last Thursday

We had a great time on the cruise. By that I mean, we didn't have a bad time on the cruise. By that I also mean that it wasn't really relaxing. Because the three port days with all the getting on and getting off business, arranging to DO things at the ports, dressing up for the two formal nights aboard, and drinking and dancing late in the disco all led to a kind of stressful vacation. We played hard. But we slept little. Our livers are happy to be home.

Formal night before dinner and shit facedness.

Last Thursday, we woke up in the harbor of Georgetown Grand Cayman. There were four cruise ships there that day unloading ten thousand passengers onto an island with a population of thirty thousand. The scene at the docks was insanity, with thousands of tourists clogging the streets wandering around figuring out what to do there. We were making lots of mooing sounds since we felt like cattle.

(I don't have time to fix this picture, but it is Stingray City)

We had heard good things about Stingray City and purchased a tour from a street vendor for a three hour visit by bus and boat. Doing it this way cost half what the ship wanted for the same tour. We were led to a bus that wouldn't have looked out of place in Tijuana. The driver told us a bit of history as we rattled and clunked down the highway to a small harbor where we were laded onto a small boat. Fifty or so passengers climbed aboard a boat designed for 20 and we head out to sea. On the way, iguanas darted in and out of the shadows and jungle growth. It was a choppy and windy trip out to the sandbar abutting a coral reef where fifty or so similar boats were giving the same tour.

We donned masks and snorkels and jumped in the three foot deep water. Almost instantly we understood why people were periodically shrieking. Large shadowy figures slithered through the water and then glided past, brushing up your legs and torso. It was the stingrays looking for food. We had been told that this is a unique place in the world where humans have come for many years to feed the rays and so the rays come back and "ask" for food every day. Probably heaven for them. These stingrays won't even sting you if you step on them because they are no longer afraid of us.

I fed them, held them, pet them and felt little zings of fear zip through me each time they passed.

In that water with all those people, there was no difference between rich and poor, black and white, language or culture. Every single person there was out of their element and bonding over the fact that we were standing there defenseless while monsters swarmed around us. The laughter was magical.

After the thirty minute stop with the rays, we went over to the reef for snorkeling. Our guide found a shark and started feeding it. I got out of the water. I have a thing about sharks - I'm scared of them. (Plus I had already snorkeled in Cozumel.)

After that, we headed back to the little harbor and reboarded the bus. We were half an hour behind schedule and I was getting nervous about missing our departure time. The bus driver, being late himself, drove like a NewYork cab driver and the bus careened and rattled down the main highway.

Two fiftyish blondes were at the side of the road waving at traffic and the bus driver stopped to offer them a lift to town. They came in back and sat next to us. They had been drinking at the beach all day but just "knew" someone would stop for them. (They were, however, standing on the wrong side of the road for the direction they wanted to go. But hey, drunk blondes.)

Suddenly traffic came to a standstill and the driver said, "Hang on, we're taking a shortcut!" Now the real ride began as we zipped down unpaved roads making everyone a bit nervous. I felt like I was in a cartoon.

In the ensuing ten minutes, we learned from the blonde women the location of their hometown - Tulsa, The size of their homes - mansions, The level of their education - "Y'all was smart to take this tour."

As we wound back to the port, we passed through some less ridiculously rich neighborhoods. The type A blonde said, "Y'all look, this is where the poor folks live, but they do a real good job of hidin' it here."

That was when my hair caught on fire. I probably would have gone off on her if I wasn't so paranoid about missing our ship. We got back with just 10 minutes to spare.

The sunset that night was awesome.

Monday, October 17, 2005


Hey y'all, I'm back. Spent the week aboard a ship with mostly southerners, and now I have a nasty drawl that I just can't seem to shake. As you may have figured out, I wasn't able to post on the departure morning due to internet difficulties, nor was I in the right frame of mind to post in Cozumel (ok, I was drunk). Now, I am facing the rewards of my stupidity - that is, arriving home Sunday night and having to work Monday morning. Luckily for me, I can get out of any real writing (I wrote nothing on the cruise save for a nasty note to the cruise director for offensive gay comment - more on this later) since I can just post:

The road to Montreal part 2 (scroll down to Oct 1st for part 1)

I got little sleep that first night, wondering if my expired passport would ruin this opportunity. Still the F&B director wanted me out of there while the sexual harassment investigation was proceding, and so I hoped that there would be a solution. The next morning, I phoned the passport office and after some minutes of navigating the call system, I discovered that an emergency renewal could be had if I had plane tickets and a note from the company I worked for. That I got the passport two hours before the departure of the plane should be enough to inform you of my frazzled state as I stepped onto Cathay Pacific's daily non-stop to Hong Kong. Let's just say it was 48 hours of hell.

The flight was 13 and a half hours. My seat was in one of the few spots where you couldn't see any movie screen. My feet swelled. I craved cigarettes. I questioned whether I had done the right thing. I did not sleep. Upon arrival, we were the last flight allowed to land in Hong Kong that night due to a typhoon bearing down on the city. Since then, Hong Kong has opened a new airport, but the old one was smack in the middle of town. Imagine JFK airport in Central Park NY. The plane was making jagged movements as we barely missed the tops of skyscrapers, lightning crashing all around and all of the passengers terrified and silent. Due to the winds, the plane was not allowed to taxi up to the terminal. We were given big yellow slickers for the long walk to the terminal, the rain rushing horizontally , the slickers slapping in the wind. The city had announced a level 8 typhoon warning which meant that only essential travel was permitted. There were few taxis. I waited for a couple hours in a long taxi line and finally caught a ride to the business district. The streets were deserted and there was a lot of debris flying around. The taxi driver didn't know about the hotel since it was doing a soft opening (unannounced opening to work the bugs out on invited guests) but I had been told that the hotel next door was the Furama. The taxi driver knew this place. We arrived and I wandered around trying to find the Ritz. It was very difficult and raining and windy, I think I sobbed a little when I finally noticed what looked like an apartment building was really the Ritz. A very understated entrance led to an elevator. The lobby was on the third floor.

I checked in and went to my room, and fell promptly asleep. I woke up about 3 hours later, it was dark outside, but the storm seemed to have waned. I didn't know what my rights were yet, there was a note in the room to meet with someone at 10am for orientation, so I ordered room service breakfast at 5:00 when they opened. At the meeting, I learned that I would be training the waiters in the dining room, while also helping when it was busy. I would be working six days a week, lunch and dinner. Essentially this was 10 to midnight with a two hour break in the afternoon. As I came to find out, this was a standard work schedule in Hong Kong. Everyone works six days. I would have a day a week to explore the city on my own, plus that break in the afternoons. Best of all, I was given 2 more days for adjusting to the time before I would have to start working. I went back to my room and slept all afternoon.

When I awoke, I set out with my map to the English part of town for a bite to eat and to look for Propaganda, the one gay club in Hong Kong, homosexuality having only recently been decriminalized. A couple of hours later I found myself in a very empty neighborhood full of wharehouses and industrial looking enterprises. I didn't understand, according to the map, that club should be right around here. Most everything was written in Cantonese. I was just about to head back to the hotel when I locked on to a rhythmic beat sound, coming from somewhere...where?...and felt my way into a back alley where there was a small passage leading to some stairs. I went in and climbed the stairs two flights and found myself facing a plain grey door. Clearly the music was coming from behind it, but I was alone on a kind of fire escape staircase in what looked like a factory. Having nothing to lose, I tried the door and sure enough, it was a club with a cover charge at the entrance. Above the check in person was a banner: Propaganda. I had found it.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Disconnect time

Tomorrow should go like this: Wake up at 4am, run to computer to post part 2 of The Road to Montreal (wrote it last night) while swilling coffee. Quick, jump in shower, dress and call for a taxi. Argue about something with spouse. Get to airport by 4:45. Smoke a last cigarette and get in line at the counter. Board the 6:10am flight to Miami. (I bought tickets for the 8am flight, but that one has been cancelled, fuckers.) Take a taxi to the hotel in South Beach (my first visit). Frolic and explore with our friend Bob joining us from LA. Practice drinking.

Then on Sunday, we board the ship for a seven day tour of the Western Caribbean. I'm going to try to make a post from Cozumel on Tuesday from a place with internet access. (They want like ten dollars a minute to use internet on the ship.)

Other than that, you'll have to content yourself with imagining all the fun we're having while you're working. And fun, my friends, will be had.

Though you won't catch me at Senor Frogs.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm going to miss this daily shout out with the readers and me. The little connections made with friends and other people I've never met, but somehow feel close to anyway. There is love there.

Sorry, I get a little sappy at goodbye.

Fear not, I shall return next Sunday with stories and photos for all. Smooch!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

HNT* and the strangest job I've ever had

I'm completely naked here. Too bad the covers are blocking the view.

The strangest job I ever had was working graveyard for a company that transferred paper documents onto microfiche. We worked in a large room with long tables on various tasks. I was assigned to staple removing. From 11pm to 7am, I removed staples from documents. That's it. The supervisor hovered over the hundred or so of us making sure no one nodded off. I drank a half gallon of milk every shift because my stomach hurt so much from taking no doze. I got written up twice for purported staples I had missed. When we finished off the insurance company's contract, half of us were laid off. I was so grateful.

What was your oddest job?

* HNT = Half-Nekkid-Thursday I know I said I would only play once a month. But hey I'm a comment whore.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

This morning's wad in my panties

Designer deoderant. You heard me right. This is the next new way to set you apart. $30 deoderant. Does it work better? Nope. Does it make you feel high class? Apparently, according to this article. So, we are marketing this as a status item. Because, apparently status is hugely important to some people. (people with small grizzled black matter posing as a soul) Let's just look at one quote from a designer deoderant peddler:

Anthony Logistics' deodorant, for example, contains no alcohol and no pore-clogging aluminum. Its citrus scent comes from all natural oils and fruit extracts, such as basil oil, bay leaf, lemon peel, roses, oranges and grapefruit. "These are class products," Gallo said. (director of product education for Anthony Logistics for Men)

Class products? You mean I could squeeze a grapefruit on the pit and wipe it off with a basil leaf, and I'm good to go for hobnobbing with the elite? I'll be skipping the bay leaf though since it smells like a rotton diaper.

Seriously, when I think of the money and man hours going into this phenom,and all the energy expended to create a need where none exists, I think we are lost as a society. The genius of capitalism is also the draining of cultural values.


Some new culturally enriching products we can look forward to in the near future might include designer wart remover, luxury toilet paper with "threadcount", and $80 designer floss. Yay us!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Train weirdo

It's 4:30, and I'm heading over to my last lesson of the day. I squeeze onto the crowded metro car and find myself near two 20ish girls chatting wildly about their jobs, apartments, various likes and dislikes. They were carrying on much like I would have at that age. One of the girls held the pole next to me and gave me a chance to look at her 100 percent tatooed arm. It was beautiful work. And that's saying alot because I'm not much of a tatoo admirer. But this was artistry, crisp clean lines and brilliant splashes of color, while being wholly unique. Definitely the work of a talented person. When I finished my tatoo study, my attention wandered up to the chattering faces of these girls, festooned as they were with assorted rings about the lips, eyes and nose. Just as we were arriving at the station where I needed to change trains, I noticed her large hoop earring. I started to exit the train and then did a double take. Wait a minute, something's odd about that earring. The girls were exiting too as I realized that the giant hoop earring was inside her pierced ear. Thus, the skin of her lobe was stretched all the way around it. Isn't that some African tribal thing? I've seen some guys with dime sized plugs in their ears around town, but nothing of this magnitude. This was fifty cent piece size, (bigger than a toonie for my Canadian friends.)

"Excuse me, can I ask you a question?" I unexpectedly blurt out to the freak ear girl.

I catch the friend rolling her eyes out of the corner of my eye, but freak ear says,


"How long did it take you to get your ear hole that big?" (How do you ask that without it sounding nasty?)

"Oh, well I'm not a really good stretcher you know, I mean, like it takes me longer than most people. But anyway, probly like, what, like two and a half years or something."

"Wow, that takes a lot of dedication. Does it hurt each time you go to a larger size?"

"Well, yah. (said as though any idiot should know that) For me it's like two and a half months before I can go up a size. But it hurts really bad the first few days."

"Ok thanks, that's really cool" I said and then added,

"Oh, wait, one more thing, do you think I could take a picture of it?"

There was some hesitation, a little looking at the floor, a furtive but pleading glance to her friend. So I quickly said,

"Right, too creepy, nevermind."

And then I scurried over to the next car of the arriving train, so they wouldn't have to be with the weirdo who wants to take a picture of an ear in the metro station.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Feeding the planet

I used to be a real black and white kind of person. I believed in science and logic and all the things I could sense with my physical senses. These were real, these were facts, reality was indisputable.

But then, little by little, experience by experience, I began to suspect that there was more going on than the eye could see.

Take gravity for example. A constant force, a perpetual force, a force from where? We can all agree that gravity exists, as we experience its effects every day. But even the most prominent scientists can't explain its existence, nor how this "force" is seemingly inexhaustible.

If energy is always conserved, where does the gravitational "energy" come from? (Maybe we lose mass to the planet (mass equaling energy after all) and we eat to keep regenerating the mass we lose and that old age is really just that we can't keep up with the rejuvenation part, and we shrink and finally the planet consumes us. But I digress.)

But that's just one example. How can we deny the existence of things if we cannot detect them with our limited abilities of sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.

This is of course the trap. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

There are unexplainable things we all experience. Dreams, intuition, the path of a lightning strike, thoughts, gravity, coincidence, laughter, and on and on.

And when you open your mind up enough you start to see little flashes of unseen forces at work. (things that help you get out of "reality" and maybe "see" some of this stuff include: music, drugs, sex, meditation, fasting etc.)

That is, if you're interested. Because you'll never see them if you don't consider their existence possible.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Some stuff for Sunday

We've been treated to a spectacular weekend here. Clear skies, crisp mornings and breezy 70's in the afternoon. And it's already October. The average first snowfall here is Oct 12th, but I have never seen it yet before Halloween. Must be that blessed global warming.

Half-Nekkid-Thursday (HNT) was fun. I don't know if I can deal with the stress of coming up sith a creative photo/post every week. Maybe once a month.

Got a haircut. Sigh. I asked him to trim a little everywhere just to clean it up, but that I essentially liked it the way it was. So then he proceeds to chop off four inches. I came home all cropped short on the sides and back with a poofy mop on top. Serge saw me and started laughing saying I got a lesbian haircut. Then he took to calling me Kelly. (I don't know why, but this is a lesbian name for him.)

Foot update: I thought I was walking normally again until someone said, "Oh your foot is still bothering you eh?" Apparently, I still have some gimpiness to work out. I will never regard toes as useless appendages again.

I started the Road to Montreal story yesterday and I'll probably add to it on the weekends. I want to tell the story right and take my time with it. Stay tuned, if you care to.

It's the last week before vacation. *quivering with excitement* This time next week, we'll be cruising the Caribbean.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The road to Montreal, Part 1

Parts 2 3 4 5 6 7

It's funny, when Psycho posed this question in the comments the other day, I started pondering it, how did I end up here? I've told the story dozens of times, but it always seems incomplete, because it's been kind of a long road. So this will have to be done in little pieces, starting from the beginning. And I think it would be best to start back in 1993 when I was living in Venice and working at the Ritz Carlton Marina Del Rey as a dining room captain. I was single and sharing an apartment with another Ritz worker and his partner. One day in August while preparing the dining room for the dinner service, something happened that changed the course of my life forever. It was just another ordinary day at work.

"Thank you for calling the dining room, how may I assist you?" I said rather annoyed into the telephone. The hostess had gone off to the bathroom or something, and the rule was three rings - no more, and it was everyone's responibility. I had the Ritz lingo down.

"We'd like a reservation for 7pm this evening."

"And how many in your party, madam?"

"There will be 8 of us and we'd like a booth. By the window."

"Please forgive me madam, but unfortunately our booths do not accomodate more than 5 persons and are situated in the rear of the dining room. Might I suggest a large table at the window. The seats are really quite comfortable."

"Oh yes, that would be lovely. We're in room 1207. Simmerman."

"Very good Ms. Simmerman, we look forward to your arrival at seven o'clock this evening."

Valeria the hostess returned, a feisty young woman from Brazil who was currently considering suing the hotel for sexual harassment. When we had had the grand opening of the dining room, we assembled the staff and took a picture together, during which the Italian born Food & Beverage director took the opportunity to goose the 19 year old Brazilian girl, both hands a quick squeeze. There were a dozen of us there, and we all saw it as she shrieked and burst into tears and stormed out crying. Neither the action, nor the reaction were typically American, and we all stood there shifting on our feet feeling ill at ease and then slowly dispersed.

I had been seen consoling her on more than one occasion since, and as was my nature, coaching her to stand up for herself. So I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised when the F & B director approached me that late afternoon and said, "Hey Torn, how would you like to go to Hong Kong?"

"What do you mean?"

"To help out the opening of the Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong. You would be gone for 6 weeks, but you have to leave day after tomorrow."

"Uh, Uh, Uh Okay." I stammered, realizing this was a rare opportunity.

"Great, I'll let HR know, and we'll give you a call tomorrow. Do you have a passport?"

"Yes," I replied.

Immediately, my thoughts swirled about preparing, and wondering in what capacity I would be helping in Hong Kong.

When I got home that night, I discovered that my passport had expired. Just one month prior.