31 December 2004

we are alive and well

Hello all!

I'm sorry for not writing sooner! Between the dial-up connection and hotmail's overloaded servers, it took 20 minutes to load the login page. Thank you to everyone who e-mailed in the last couple of days, it's a truly wonderful feeling to load your inbox and see every other message has the subject: ARE YOU OKAY!??!?! I probably won't have a chance to read your messages until I get back to the states on the 4th of January, but thanks to everyone in advance.

The tsunami happened the day we were scheduled to fly out here. We got the news at around 6:45am from my mom. At that time, we only knew that Phuket (the destination for the second half of our trip) had been affected. We had no idea what the extent of the damage would be.

The first half of our trip was a tour of Bangkok. Our guide, Suree, was amazing. In addition to her near encyclopedic knowledge of Thai history, she was able to put a lot of things about the tragedy into perspective.

You have likely read there are around 2,000 confirmed dead in Phuket. Nearly half of these were Swedes. What of the Thai people? In a country like Thailand where nearly two-thirds of the people live in poverty, it is very difficult to take an accurate census. For example, the official population of Bangkok is between 5.5 and 12 million, no one really knows. So, the world news tally of 2,000 dead -and half of them from one western nation- cannot possibly account for Thai losses. Suree also informed us that Phuket accounts for nearly 40% of Thailand's GDP. In addition to being a top international tourist destination, many residents of Phuket made a living through fishing and other agricultural and aquacultural industries.

Interestingly, we were encouraged to continue with our plans to visit Phuket despite the tragedy. We were told our hotel was open and relatively undamaged, but we coudn't imagine drinking cocktails on the beach and having massages when all hands were clearly needed for recovery efforts and there were -literally- bodies washing up on the shore one beach away.

Outside the many temples we visited, massive relief efforts were underway. As Westerners, it was most appropriate for us to donate money (which we did). The Thai people donated anything and everything they could. It was truly inspiring to see people who, by Western standards, have nothing, giving so generously. We later learned that one of the things most deperately needed in the first few days after the wave was western blood. All white tourists were urged to donate at the Red Cross because Asians have a different blood type that whites and not enough white blood was available to treat injured westerners.

So, after 5 days in Bangkok, we are now in the Jomtien Beach area of Pattaya, Thailand and the contrast is dramatic. The sex trade here is far and away the #1 industry and, I have to say, I find the drunken revelry here very unsettling. Pattaya was the only beach area available as Thailand is already packed this time of year with Europeans, Chinese and Russians. We are going down to the beach later to try and relax under some palm trees, but, to be completely honest I would rather be back in the sober reality of Bangkok. Still, tomorrow we have some diving scheduled and I hope that will at last give me a positive impression of this place.

Speaking of diving, we saw some footage of divers who were underwater when the tsunami hit. When I first saw the footage, I thought the images were topside and that I was looking at a tornado. The image was very grey as if it was twlight and debris swirled around the screen. Then the camera cut to the divers clinging to rocks on the bottom while the current rushed past them.

As it turned out, the tsunami hit Thailand only 30 minutes after the quake. Local time was 10am and there was really no way for people to know what was about to happen. People we spoke with describe the tide receeding from the shore nearly 100 meters (300 feet) just before two waves 5-10 meters high came rushing to the shore.

Well, this e-mail is getting kind of long so I should wrap it up. It's been a very interesting trip so far and we've had some enjoyable experiences that I will write about in a later e-mail. I do want to leave you with one last bit of info from our guide.

Tourism is Thailand's #1 industry overall. At the end of 2004, Thailand was only just recovering from the effects of 9/11, SARS, and the bird flu. It is an amazing and beautiful country and the people couldn't be nicer. Suree politely expressed concern that the western media's reporting would keep people from coming to Thailand as it had so many times before. Often, it seems, the west hears of a problem in one region of a particular country and writes off the region as a whole.

It would really be a shame for the kind and generous people of Thailand to suffer lingering economic strife due to negative publicity, so if anyone asks about Thailand, please tell them I would highly recommend Thailand as a destination. Eventually I will write/ send pictures of some of the amazing things we've seen.

Take care and thanks again,

-MD

15 November 2004

como se dice en espanol "please don't remove my gallbladder"

Subject: Como se dice en espanol, "Please do not remove my gall bladder."

So, for the last 11 days I have been in Cozumel, Mexico. I think it was the longest 11 days of my life.

Basically I was there to be assistant camp counselor for a group of 27 adults who had paid $900 each for a week of fun and scuba diving in Mexico. Barry was not able to come with me, which was a huge downer, but I tried to remain optimistic until . . .

MEGAN'S BOSS: So, as soon as we get in to Cozumel I think we should go to Carlos and Charlies

ME: What's that?

MEGAN'S BOSS: It's like Senor Froggs but way more fun.

ME: Um. How can I put this? Let's just say, the first person to make me shotgun tequilla with an over-sized sombrero on my head gets a shot glass rammed down their throat.

MEGAN'S BOSS: You had better get used to it, girl.

Cozumel is a very lovely island off of the Yucatan Peninsula. It's about a 20 min. flight SE of Cancun and is considered one of the top 10 scuba diving destinations in the world. From the air, Cozumel looks like a peaceful little island that is about 98% jungle and 2% beautiful coastline. Most people come to Cozumel to scuba dive, relax in the sun, and make total asses of themselves while bloated on tequilla and the ubiquitous "Sex on the Beach." When they return home they will share their vacation photos in the hopes their friends will say, "Wow, it looks like you had a really wild time" to which they will reply "What happens in Cozumel stays in Cozumel" and everyone will laugh as though that phrase hasn't already been done to death and the marketeer who came up with it has had a special place reserved for them in hell.

A couple days in to the event, my bosses' boyfriend, "J" went to the hospital with stomach pains. It turns out he had to have his gall bladder removed. It looked like he might be able to fly home to L.A. to have it done, but no such luck, there was too much of a risk that the gall bladder could rupture. When the news came in that he would have to have the surgery in Mexico, no one could believe it. It occurred to me then that maybe being an ex-pat in Mexico could have some serious disadvantages.

The main reason everyone was so concerned was that, ironically, Mexican hospitals are wary/stingy with the pain killers. When "J" arrived to the hospital, they stuck a tube up his nose, down his throat, and into his stomach with no anesthetic. After the surgery (which was laproscopic -the belly button method-) "J" was given nothing more than extra-strength Tylenol for the pain. In the end, he survived the ordeal and is now home safe and sound.

While all this was going on, yours truly had to take over the leadership duties of the event in place of my boss "T." I think everything went okay, considering I had never done anything like it before. Only one guest complained by saying, "You need to be more perky and 'rah-rah' like T," to which I replied, "I'm from Oregon. Uh, here . . . have a cookie."

In the end, I managed to escape without being assaulted by any tequila bongs. I was, however, administered an over-sized shot of Sex on the Beach by a waitress in tight pants who, after giving me the shot, wiggled my head around and then grabbed my boobs. Male readers: before you get too excited, picture that this waitress jiggles hairy man-boobs too.

The best moment of the trip was on the next-to-last day when I finally had some free time. I rented a scooter and zipped around the ocean-side of the island to take in some lovely beaches. Unfortunately, it was late in the day and I was eaten alive by mosquitos. Now that the swelling has gone down I have counted 42 individual bites. Ten of these bites were on my right foot -which swelled up so much that it would no longer fit in my shoe. Note to travelers: bring Benedryl with you on every trip. Also bring non-tinted glasses if planning to rent a scooter so that your eyeball will not end up acting as venus fly trap.

Anyway, it's nice to be home at last. I am sorry to say I will not be home for the holidays, however, I did come across a really bitchin' deal on airfare for any of you who are interested in seeing a little sunshine. Alaska Airlines has a deal where you can fly from Portland to Orange County for only $89 each way!
http://www.alaskaair.com/as/www2/Promo/FarePromos/Winter-Escape-WUS.asp

Seats are limited, must purchase ticket by 10:00 p.m. PT December 2, 2004, and complete travel by February 16, 2005.

Ciao for now.

12 October 2004

surfer girl

So, I have some exciting news.

Are you ready?

It rained here.

Yes, water fell from the sky and wettened things. Do you know how long it's been since that happened? April 18th. Just let that sink in for a second. I don't mean that it just sprinkled a little here and there and we haven't had a real rain fall. I seriously mean it hasn't rained in months and months -until yesterday.

I think a lot of people didn't notice, but I happen to be wide awake at 1:30am having a coughing fit when it happened. There was also some thunder and lightning. Very exciting stuff. But, my spirit was swiftly crushed when, after the fun weather had stopped, I couldn't get the "What Kind of Hipster Are You?" quiz to load.

So what's been going on this past month? Well, I bought a surfboard (see photo). Barry did too. We still totally suck, but, now we at least look the part. On land.

My board is a 8' 7" squashtail "mini" longboard. It's made by a shaper called Wegener. I put mini in quotes because, for someone as short as I am, it's the equivalent of a 12' board for a guy, so, I don't really consider it mini.

We've been keeping a close eye on the election despite the fact that California is not a swing state. I have made the very gutsy move to wear my "John Kerry: The Lesser Evil" button on my bag at work and have been happlly surprised to see the ratio of JK to GW bumper stickers down here evening out. Now, for every 8 Porsche Cayanne SUVs with "W" stickers. There are 5 or 6 kicked-in-the-back Hondas or (god forbid) domestic SUVs with a Kerry/Edwards sticker.

The best I've seen so far is "Bush/Orwell '04" and "Enron/Halliburton '04." Both of those were spotted in the Long Beach area, however.

I applied for a promotion at work, which it doesn't look like I'm going to get because they want an MBA. But, for the salary they're offering they're going to get someone who went straight for their masters out of their undergrad. with no real work experience. How do I know? We have two of them already. GRRRR. Oh well. The upside is, I like the job I have now, my boss is pushing for a raise, and they plan to send me on some fun and exotic trips next year to places like: Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Bonaire and/or Curacao.

I guess that's about it. Hope you all are well.

-MD

P.S. I am jealous that I am missing out on all the Mt. St. Helens excitement.

15 September 2004

new phone number

I've been thinking a lot recently about the change of season. . . . As a kid, the difference between summer and fall was drastic: one day you're staying up late watching zombie movies, and then next day you become the zombie facing the harsh reality of 1st period pre-algebra and that teacher you hoped you wouldn't get. As an adult, the weather helped mark the transition to a new part of the year. After three months of fun in the sun and staying up late, you have a "farewell to the sun" BBQ with your friends, then you all put sweaters on and go inside for nine months and runminate.

Unfortunately, that kind of thing doesn't happen down here in California. While the rest of the country swings into a season of introspection and heavy eating, those of us in the southwestern U.S. are entering the warmest part of the year.

Last week, people at work complained it was too hot to sleep even with the air conditioning on. I've heard they close schools sometimes because it's too hot outside. On the more disturbing front, I picked up a flyer at the grocery store about why you shouldn't lock your children in your car while shopping because they could die of heat stroke. You'd think this would go without saying. I carry a hot pad in my glove box so I don't get "1,2,3,5, Reverse" grilled into my palm from my gear shift.

I was told that the season that follows summer isn't called "fall" it's called "fire." No joke, I was in San Diego over the weekend and the cheery "Enjoy San Diego" banners adorning the light posts in the Gaslamp had been changed to "Saving your home from wildfire isn't an accident."

Also on the natural disaster front, I've been experiencing the depressing side of working for an international company these past few weeks. The series of hurricanes, Ivan especially, has devistated many of the dive centers in Florida and the caribbean. On Grand Cayman, 75-90% of homes have been destroyed or damaged. One of only two grocery stores on the island was leveled, and the other one "looks like a bomb went off in it." The island is literaly split in half due to flooding, and phone service is non-existant aside from whatever battery power some have remaining on their cell and satellite phones.

Driving around Orange County (where they build grocery stores accross the street from each other so drivers won't be troubled to make a left turn) it occured to me how soft and fragile this place is. I don't think these people would know what to do if Whole Foods was knocked over. They turn on the emergency broadcast system every time it rains for chrissakes. Oh well, survival of the fittest, I guess. Maybe we will finally get to move into that ocean view mansion in Laguna Beach and have the best surfing waves all to ourselves.

If you've read this far, thanks! Here is my new phone number: XXX-XXX-XXXX.
If you just skipped to the end, well, you missed out! I wrote about you in paragraph three.

Also, Barry and I will be up in Portland from Friday September 24 through Sunday evening September 26. Hope to see some of you!

16 August 2004

californified?

Wow, I can't believe it was just barely over a week ago I was in Portland. I timed my visit to escape some of the hot summer heat down here in south Orange County, but, ironically it seems I managed to escape the summer heat waves in Portland.

It was a good visit over all as I was feeling a little homesick. I was glad to find Portland exactly as it was when I left. But was I the same? Well, I guess that's up to you to decide, but, here are a few things that happened that made me feel a little Californified:

* Turned cold water tap and discovered water was actually cold (as opposed to merely "tepid")
* Happily surprised when daylight lasted until 9pm instead of only 8pm
* Gasoline prices that started with a "1"instead of a "2" felt like a bargain
* Summer sun was pleasingly warm. Didn't feel as though it would instantly induce cancer
* Felt like a stud instead of a slouch at kickboxing class
* Was shocked when friends lit up cigarettes indoors. Had to be reminded smoking in bars was legal
* Scared Chevron employee when attempting to pump own gas. Had to be reminded that was illegal
* Saw at least 200 John Kerry stickers which is 196 more than I'd ever seen before
* Smell of 100-year-old apartment building was nostalgic
* Weather became overcast and was compelled to go home and take a nap


I know I'm setting myself up for some harrassment here, but, I have to say, it's good to be back in California. Though Orange County is perhaps the epicenter of conformity for the entire west coast, I don't feel pressure to be anyone but myself. Moreover, I feel like I've become a kind of ambassador of subculture. The mormon grandma who sits next to me has gone veggie, the rocker guy in purchasing is into Mirah, and I've rallied the movie club at work to go see the new Zhang Yimou film Hero.

Am I going to stay here forever? No. It sure is beautiful here, and I feel more optomistic than I have in ages, but, lets face it, there aren't any bars with wood panelling on the walls and Journey on the jukebox and free mystery soup after 11pm. For now, I'm exploring and doing something new just about every week. But one day, maybe in a year or two, I'll have done just about everything there is to do in southern California and it will be time to move on again.

Until next time . . .

26 July 2004

I'm Flying in on Friday

Okay, kids, I'm flying in on Friday. So, first here's a quick rundown of stuff you can get in on if you like. I'd love to see you.

Saturday 31 July: I'm going to that Red Bull flying machine thing. Just phone me if you're down there too, I think it starts at 1p. I have the same number: 503-789-3951.

Sunday 1 August: Pontooning! Meet at Promentory Park in Estacada bright at early, 9:15a, you're late at 10a. We'll pick up stragglers between Noon and 12:30p. Write me if you want more info.

Monday 2 August - Friday 6 August: During the day I have nothing to do yet! I want to eat tofu scramble, go to the river, go to Hawthorne, and I must go to Fred Meyers. Who's with me???

Thursday 5 August I have the evening totally free, anyone want to propose something?

Friday 6 August: Somewhere, somehow, there will be a party this night. Location TBA but write it on your hand in permanant ink and don't bathe. Stay tuned for more info. There will also be a voyage to Voodoo Doughnuts.

Now, since not all of you have been on this list since the beginning I prepared an FAQ. This also saves me from having to tell you guys anything boring when I see you in person.

WHERE IS IT THAT YOU WORK?
I work for XXXX in a 2-person division of the 10-person marketing department. My division is there to help people make the most of their diving certification through special events, discounts, etc.

I do kind of the same thing I did at Entercom: planning and scheduling events, ordering promotional items, and doing a lot of follow up with various people and company. I know 10 different ways of nicely saying, "You said you'd have XYZ information to us today so where the bloody hell is it, asshole." I work from 7am - 5pm everyday which gives me every other Friday off.

HOW DO YOU LIKE L.A./ WHERE DO YOU LIVE IN ORANGE COUNTY?
I don't live in L.A. Where I live is actually equidistant between L.A. and San Diego. It takes about an hour and a half to drive to either place (in off-peak hours). It's kind of a good thing since L.A.'s smog stretches to Irvine these days (Irvine is about 5 miles N of where I live). It's a bad thing because there is absolutely nothing to do down here at night.

I live in one of the original non-coastal developments in South Orange County. Founded in the late 1960's, my city is, well, old, compared to the area where I work which became a "city" in the year 2000. I'm not making this up.

WHAT IS ORANGE COUNTY LIKE?
If Beaverton and Lake Oswego had a baby, that's Orange County. A big, 789 square mile baby, population 3 million. Actually, it's better than that because of the amazing beaches and because it's far more multi-cultural. Going to Target or Costco is like being in the International Departures section of the airport. Though nearly everyone speaks English, fully half the people speak it as their second language. The "first language" could be Spanish, Vietnamese, Farsi, Russian, Samoan, or any number of other languages. But on looks only, it's Beaverton/ Lake Oswego + palm trees.

HOW DO YOU LIKE LIVING IN ORANGE COUNTY? HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR JOB?
Did you say you wanted to go out for beers? That's great, me too. McMenamins anyone? I'm also jonzing for Colosso, The Braisserie, and wherever the Millennium Girls have deemed the new happy hour hangout.

I have also attached some photos to answer:


What is your apartment complex like?
How's Heidi?
How's your Little Red Car? (Note the new plates and tinted windows: a must for this area)
Did Barry get that name change he always wanted?
Did he really use the "Footsie Wootsie" at the fair?
Did YOU use the "Footsie Wootsie"?

NOTE: Sorry gang, if you were a "subscriber" you got photos, but I am too lazy to post them to the blog.

12 July 2004

mystery hole contest

Correctly guess what this is and you might win something.

.


NOTE: Contest has ended.

surf's up

So a couple Sundays ago, I finally got to do what I moved down here in the first place to do.

GO SURFING.

Barry and I took lessons from a couple of dudes named Mike and Dave down at San Onofre state beach. The boards were the foam-top beginner kind and about 9 feet long. We each got up a bunch of times and the 2 hours flew by. We went out the following weekend in La Jolla, but the waves were not as good. Ditto for our trip yesterday to Huntington. But, we won't be deterred. Barry already bought a sport rack for the Hyundai and I scored a couple of wetsuits from a co-worker. Surf's Up.

So, I'm sure you're thinking to yourself. "What do Barry and Megan do when the surf is not, in fact, "up"? Well, funny you should ask. Because instead of surfing this weekend we went to the DEMOLITION DERBY at the Orange County Fair.

Yes, snobby, image-obsessed OC has an annual event wherein Mom puts on her grungiest miniskirt and Dad exchanges his chinos for blue jeans and the family heads down to spend some quality time mispronouncing the word "Gyros" and daring each other to eat a deep-fried Snickers bar.

The demolition derby is, in fact, the most popular event at the County Fair. Only, when I first heard about the fair and the derby, I confused it with the Country Fair and had this bizarre image of stoned hippies smashing their dirty vans into each other while "Truckin'" blared over the loudspeakers.

In actuality, it's a bunch of 70's Cadillacs and Lincoln Continentals bashing the crap out of each other in a dirt arena for about 5 minutes while the audience in the surrounding bleachers goes totally insane. The scene evokes a shoddier version of modern-day gladiator fight. Only, none of the guys are named "Cassius," "Maximus" or "Joaquin," and they've long since exchanged their barrel-chests for beer-bellies.

We went to the 2pm show which was so amazing we decided to hang around the fair for five more hours and see the 8pm show. I cannot possibly convey its awesomeness in writing alone, so I'll have to tell you about it next time I see you. It's the kind of thing that requires an in-person delivery of words like "skreee" and "gktsshh" and "kkkfkkfk!" and other words that look like they could also be IKEA products.

The rest of the fair was pretty whatever. There were baby animals, mis-shapen vegetables, and this exhibition hall called "The Parade of Products" which was mostly kitchen gadgets and belt buckles. Apparently there's a woman who sells sweaters made out of her dogs' hair, but, she was indisposed at the time of our visit.

(awkward segue)

Don't you be indisposed when I stop by to visit you! Yes, I'm visiting Portland 30 Jul - 8 Aug. Who's interested in pontoon boating? Who's interested in a BBQ? Who wants to see the A-Team van fly accross the Willamette?
http://www.redbullflugtagportland.com/teambio.php?pilot_id=278

Let me know!

ciao for now.

-MD

14 June 2004

ya'll come back now ya hear?

It didn't really sink in until two days before the trip. I would be entering the belly of the enemy, the Republican hive. I would be flying into George Bush International Airport, for godsakes! What would become of my left-leaning-non-ribs-eating-country-music-loathing-personage in HOUSTON TEXAS?

To prepare, I started a list of things that might be good about a visit to Texas.

1. Could become first person in family to ride a mechanical bull.
2. Might get to pose for comedic photo in front of life-sized statue of Bush.
3. Space shuttle simulator at NASA could provide opportunity to vomit into 10-gallon hat of evil oil baron.
4. Possible opportunity to talk with everyday conservative-types about Bush administration and help them to realize they (in conjunction with Haliburton) have royally screwed American public. Conservative cries on my shoulder while promising to donate to Moveon.org.

Unfortunately, none of these things came to pass. I didn't see a single cowboy, didn't hear any country music, didn't ride a mechanical bull or vomit. The people were extremely nice and Houston itself was actually very green albeit very very humid.

Oddly enough, the moments where I most felt like a fish-out-of-water happened when I was around my co-workers (all CA natives). At the start of the trip, before we had even left the airport, I tested the waters.

ME: So, did you hear George Tenant resigned?
COMPANION ONE: Who's George Tenant again?
COMPANION TWO: He was the director of the CIA. The guy was probably tired.
ME: Uh-huh.
COMPANION ONE: Did you hear they're doing another season of The Simple Life?

Now, to be fair, the two guys I traveled with were EXTREMELY nice. But it was clear from the beginning that I was going to have to spend a lot of time talking about food and the weather.

Once in Houston, we took a tour of NASA. It was interesting, but only in a "let's go to NASA to pass the time," kind of a way. In other words, don't plan your next family vacation there. That night we met up with the Texas Regional Manager, let's call him Walter, and went to a place called Joe's Crab Shack for dinner.

First impression: the walls were festooned with collectable Joe's Crab Shack shirts, boxer shorts, and trucker hats that say, among other things, "got crabs?" I didn't check, but I'm sure they didn't stock a size smaller than XXL.

The hostess seated us at a large picnic table in the middle of the restaurant and paired us off around metal buckets set in the middle of the table. "That there's the bone yard," said Walter, gesturing at one of the buckets.

Just then this siren thing goes off and someone yells "All servers, there's a 'special' on aisle five'" (and the word "special" is pronounced in such a way that you know the speaker is winking). Seven or eight servers and kitchen staff all line up and proceed to do some kind of disco line-dance to Y.M.C.A.

My crowning achievement was to lean over the table and ask Walter with a straight face, "So, is Houston the more cosmopolitan of the cities in Texas?" I was politely informed that, surprisingly, Dallas was really the cultural hub.

I had a salad and a potato while the rest of the group ordered Dungeness Crab. I stared at the crab across from me, and he stared back (while being dismembered) and I thought "we're both a long way from home." I thought the worst was over until Walter insisted that a visit to Joe's Crab Shack wasn't complete without eating some crawfish and besides, there was still room in the bone yard. He ordered two pounds of them, boiled and spiced, and I ordered my sixth Lone Star. I then tried to suppress my gag reflex as he described, in detail, how to purge and kill crawfish while simultaneously sucking the brains and tails out of several of them. "They eat mud, so ya got to stick 'eem in salt water and purge 'em. But leave 'im in there to long and ya kills 'im."

DID YOU KNOW: You should never eat a crawfish with a straight tail because that means it was dead when it was cooked. Also be sure to crack the tail at the third joint as this is the most convenient way to strip the major vein out whilst also removing the shell. WHY THE HELL DO I KNOW THIS!?!?!

The rest of the trip was actually okay and fairly mundane. Seeing as this e-mail is already pretty long, I'll cut it short here.

I booked a flight to Portland! I'm coming to visit Friday July 30 - Sunday August 8th and I CAN'T WAIT!!!

Miss you all!

-MD

P.S. If you know Barry, congratulate him for swimming all the way around the Huntington Pier!

25 May 2004

nightlife in south orange county

So, this past Friday night, The Crow and I got a little stir-crazy and decided to go check out the local music scene. A co-worker recommended a place called The Gypsy Lounge, located in the Rockfield Shopping Plaza. You see, by day it's a mild-mannered strip mall where you can mail packages to grandma and get your nails filled. By night it's the nexus of Mission Viejo nightlife.

The Gypsy Lounge is about the size and demeanor of The Green Room up in NW. It's dark, cramped, and smokey by California standards. The decor is garage sale chic and I was shocked to find they had some of the same velvet artwork found at both Dots and Pied Cow. Is there some kind of Hipster Depot or something?

We missed most of the first band, The Downtown Popular, which was a bummer because I was curious to hear O.C. people comment on what a downtown might look like. The next band, Neptune Thomas, was your basic Vertical Horizon/Matchbox 20/Better Than Ezra derivitive secretary rock, and literally, that's who came to see them. Dolled up in the Lane Bryant versions of the latest fashions, these ladies "danced" in front of the stage for the band's entire set (really it was more of a rhythmic slumping).

In between songs, one woman would yell "WHOOOOOOOO!" It was a remarkably precise yell, as the woman was able to produce the exact same pitch, volume, and duration every time. Even the lead singer commented on it. I can only liken the sound to the reliable beep produced by the phone company and I really think it would make a suitable replacement.

"At the sound of the yelping secretary, the time will be, 9:52pm"
"WHOOOOOOOOOO!"

I guess I really should give these ladies more credit. I mean, if you are the type of person that spends all day gazing out the window of your office park and have spent 8 of the last 10 birthdays at T.G.I. Fridays: going out to see live music is a step in the right direction. They also picked the right band to cheer for. Neptune Thomas had the most polished sound of all the bands we saw and though I would never buy one of their CDs, they were certainly radio-friendly.

When Neptune Thomas finished their set, I was disappointed to learn that the Original Booty Bandits were unable to play that night. Were we going to get the Knock-off Booty Bandits instead? My world was crumbling. Luckily "Liquid Circus" was there to save us. This band totally sucked, but in such a mediocre way that it's not really worth describing. After three songs in which I zoned out and watched the surf videos which played behind the bar, Barry said we could go.

On the way out we saw the rest of what the Rockfield Shopping Plaza had to offer in the way of nightlife: a strip club called "Captain Creams" and a dance club (complete with velvet rope) called the Pearl. To get in females had to dress like they were getting off work from Captain Creams, and males, well, I didn't see any get in.

That was basically the end of our adventure. Saturday night we spent up in Long Beach because I had to work a show at the convention center up there on Sunday morning. I was really looking forward to being someplace that actually had a nightlife, or even a good corner bar, or even a place that had corners!!! Alas, we went to "King's Fish House" which also has a location in Mission Viejo. Yes, we drove 40 miles to go to a restaurant that's exactly like one we have at home. But, we got put up at the Westin for the evening, which was great, and I got to order room service in the morning! A first!

Hope you all have a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend. Hopefully I will have some interesting stories from San Francisco.

-MD

18 May 2004

www.oregon.com.br

On the back of one of this Portuguese dive magazine, I found a
website for this company called Oregon Blindados which, from what I
can tell, outfits consumer cars with bullet-proof armor and shields
and other various security measures.

Here is the website:
http://www.oregon.com.br

Here is the Google translation tool:
http://www.google.com/language_tools?hl=en

Who in the world thinks the word "Oregon" is synonymous with
high-tech protection and security? For godsakes, I think half the
people out there think we still live in log cabins.

At the very least, I hope the state of Oregon is at least
collecting name royalties on this.

11 May 2004

anyone going to be in S.F. for memorial day?

Did anyone watch 10.5? I admit it, I was looking forward to the damn thing. Enough with the east coast being destroyed by aliens/ asteroids/ tidal wave/ Bloomberg I was excited to finally see a movie where the west coast gets wiped out. I knew it was going to be crap, but I hoped at the very least I would get to see Newport Beach slide into the Pacific, and maybe see a cameo by up-and-coming action movie actor Jeff Gianola.
http://imdb.com/name/nm1338951/

Alas, no luck. They barely even mentioned Oregon or Portland. We may only be market #24, but they could have at least shown a giant boulder bouncing down Mt. Hood and smashing up a hippie van or something. I'm not asking for a Pearl District "art loft" to topple over and crush Vera Katz or anything, although that would have been nice.

One movie I saw recently that did NOT disappoint was "Super Size Me."
http://www.supersizeme.com/

It's a documentary about a guy who eats nothing but McDonald's for 30 days and it's GREAT, the most entertaining film I've seen this year. The guy is really likeable, there are some great side-characters, and it's got a lot to say in very a non-preachy way ("Bowling for McNuggets," it's not).

For those of you that know Barry, he started a new job yesterday at SimpleTech (he quit Systech, too many TPS reports and a bad commute) SimpleTech sells computer memory products.

Anyone going to be in San Francisco for Memorial Day weekend? Barry and I will be there to visit his folks. Come on, you know you have that friend from college you've been meaning to visit! Please save me from three days at the Alameda Yacht Club . . .

Until next time.

19 April 2004

it's not about me for once

Hi, gang.

Well, it's been a little while, hasn't it? What have I been up to down here? Spending all my cash on nail fills and Marc Jacobs knock offs? Try $2.25 a gallon for gas and taking lots of naps. I still haven't tried surfing, but it's in the cards for the near future. I saw Hellboy (pretty good), Kill Bill Volume 2 (not as good as the first one) and season one of the BBC series The Office (no Office Space, but there's some laughs).

I really have nothing exciting to report. So, I thought I'd mention some fun and interesting things that have happened to other folks.

* The amazing Alley Hector has created a marvelous new site where crafty Portlanders can sell their wares, post PDX happenings, share vegan recipies, etc. If you've seen buyolympia.com, it's a lot like that (only better). Go to http://www.iheartpdx.com/ or http://www.ilovepdx.com

* Also, I have a very smart and down to earth friend who just graduated with a degree in poly sci and is looking for an internship. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

* My car just turned 100,000 miles over the weekend. Please think happy thoughts about her so she will continue to 200,000 miles. Go, Little Red Car, Go!

* What is going on with the second wave of Friendster? Holy crap, you guys. I think I've had more requests for new Friendsters in the last month than got all last year combined.

* In the last month three of you have announced your engagement/ been married. A huge congratulations (you know who you are).

* A couple people sent me this funny link "six things you didn't know about Oregon"
http://www.blacktable.com/schuman040414.htm

* Nikki and Greg ran the Portland half marathon, holy crap! The only atheletic achivement I've had of late was making two baskets at the weekly employee basketball game. Too bad the chick with fake nails I was supposed to be guarding landed six.

* Lastly, a little riddle for you all. What do my Mom, her husband, Leah, Kyle and Karen all have in common? They're 10 times cooler than you because they've either visited or made plans to visit. Come on, guys. The best friend I have made here so far is the mormon grandma who sits next to me and, you know she won't go see "Soul Plane" with me.
http://imdb.com/title/tt0367085/

Later

-M.D.

17 March 2004

quiz + new contest

I've come up with this very scientific quiz to measure how much a particular individual identifies with either Mutnomah County or Orange County. Some of the content in this quiz is based on actual quotes from residents of Orange County.

1. You use your turn signal:
a) never. why would I? I'm the only driver on the road.
b) regularly

2. You've started a sentence with "Babe" or "Girlfriend"
a) to convey how serious you were about a particular topic
b) for shits and giggles

3. Have you seen Mel Gibson's The Passion?
a) Of course!
b) Oh HELL no!

4. When you go to the beach you spend most of your time
a) lying in the sun and playing in the water
b) drinking heavily and thinking about your own death

5. You like Ralph Nader, but
a) . . . "only because he got Bush elected"
b) . . .think he's making a huge mistake by running for president in 2004

6. If someone gave you a hundred thousand dollars you would:
a) say, "thanks, Dad"
b) start printing your zine in color

7. You've come down with a minor case of the flu. You're too sick to go to work, do you go to the gym?
a) yes
b) no

8. Oregon is:
a) pretty. someday I'll sell my house and move there. or maybe Arizona.
b) don't try and catagorize me

9. A reasonable price for a nice 2 BR house in a good neighborhood is:
a) $700,000
b) $350,000

10. A decent bar should have the following characteristics:
a) tasteful lighting, friendly service, and wide selection of food and specialty drinks such as a "Midori Mangotini"
b) old, dark, lots of wood, and with a tatooed female bartender


Count up how many times you answered "A" and how many times you answered "B." Each answer is a 10% indicator as to how you live your life. For example, 4 "A" answers and 6 "B" answers means you live your life 40% as someone with Orange County standards, and 60% as someone with Multnomah County standards.

Now forward this message to 10 friends or your head will impload.

P.S. I'm thinking about getting a "personalized" license plate and all suggestions are welcomed. If I pick yours, I will send you a prize. You can use up to 7 letters/ numbers. All entries are due by 5pm on Wednesday the 24th. No purchase necessary, offer void in Texas. My ideas include:
LTL RED, LTLRDCR, and MY T RED. I am considering WA OR CA and PDXGRRL.

11 March 2004

homesick today

Man, I wish I had some McMenamins fries and a pint of Ruby Ale about now. I'm really missing the northwest today, I don't know why. Nothing bad happened today, it was in the mid-70's all day, work was fine, and I didn't talk to a single grouchy person all day. But, I guess that's part of it in a way. I mean, try to imagine what it would be like if you lived somewhere with no personality.

Is it possible to be nostalgic for jaded hipsters who are rude to you for no reason? To long to go to a bar that's so dark you can't see the person sitting three feet away from you and to feel a little bit empty when, upon leaving a restaurant at night I brace for the deep damp cold and there's nothing there but a mild breeze.

I am more certain than ever that Southern California is never going to feel like home. I've come to an understanding that the place you live has to understand you as much as you understand it. Though California and I can agree that going to the beach in March and BBQing year-round are a good thing, we're never going to come to see eye to eye on surprise grumpiness and the merits of socialism.

Interestingly, the majority of the people where I work aren't from California either. It's more common for me to meet someone born outside the U.S. than someone who is a Southern California native. What I find really interesting is that the people who have lived in Orange Country for over twenty years still speak of their former states with the enthusiasm of a kid on December 26th, but eventually they shrug and say, "BUT, you can't beat the weather down here."

The problem is, there's nothing distinct about Orange County. The various regions are all planned communities that have, well, everything in common. Pick any two of these words (Rancho, Laguna, Beach, Aliso, Viejo, Mission, Ladera, Hills, Irvine) and I almost guarantee you that it's the name of an actual place down here. There's no Hippo Hardware, only Home Depot; there's no Stumptown, only Starbucks; every Harley owner has a closet full of suits, and most people are afraid to talk about politics.

I'm not ready to move back, but, man I wish some of you would move down here. There's not a single person in the O.C. that's even 1/1000th as cool as anyone on this list. So whaddaya say, anyone ready to raise the "coolness" bar in SoCal.? I can't hold this whole thing down on my own, you know.

01 March 2004

political rant / apartment update

One of the interesting things about moving to a new part of the country is the change in political scene. The most significant political issue in California, the grocery workers strike, just ended today. The strike lasted nearly five months and involved most of the major chains (Von's, Ralph's, Albertsons and Safeway). To keep from breaking picket lines, many people changed their shopping habits and went to Trader Joes, Costco and Target instead of their usual store. It will be interesting to see when/ if people revert to their old habits. I for one will not be shopping at Albertsons again period because they "preemptively" locked out their workers before they even declared they were striking.


On Tuesday California has its primary and will vote on Arnold's Propositions 57 and 58, "Vich will put Caleeforneea's financial haus in ordah and tear up de kredit kards forehvah." AND there is some kind of local election, I can't remember what the position is, but I remember the ad:

"My opposition claimed she would uphold our local values, yet in 1996 she founded 'Republicans for Clinton.' I, [candidate's name] have supported everything George Bush has ever done and will continue to blindly do so forever. Elect me!"


In other news, we moved into our new place. So far, so good. It's a very lovely spot where you can see Lake Mission Viejo to one side and the Saddleback Mountains to the other. As I was carrying some boxes up the stairs late in the afternoon, I noticed the setting sun made the mountains appear purple and the cast a dusky pink glow on to the wispy clouds. Some tall palms were sillhouetted perfectly in the foreground and a gentle breeze cooled my brow. Then some doves started hooting in a tree nearby and I said to myself, "ENOUGH WITH THE BEAUTY ALREADY!" Sheesh.



Barry started his new job last week. For the sake of brevity, he's working for a couple of Indian guys located in Torrance. They currently sell Macs but are not an "Apple Reseller." Barry is going to help them acheive this status and work as a sales guy. The drive to Torrance is a long one, so he is working on setting up a home/office situation.


How stupid do I look moment-of-the-week: We inquired as to whether the apartment complex collected recycling. The leasing agent explained, "Oh, you just throw everything in the dumpster together. We pay a company to pick the recycling out of the trash later on."

Okay, well, maybe I'll toss the rent check in an aluminum can and they can fish it out "later on."

Until next week.

22 February 2004

lots of new stuff

Hey, I heard you NW people stole our weather! Man, I came all this way for nuthin' It's been 57 degrees here and drizzly since Wednesday. No big deal, right? Wrong! I don't think the building where I work has any heat. Or, at the very least, no one knows how to turn it on. It gets weirder. I heard one lady say, "I'm glad I brought my denim jacket today since it's so cold in here, but I don't know what to do because I don't want to wear it outside and get it all wet."

Excuse me, WHAT?

Otherwise, the job is going well and I am proud to say my NW roots are proving very useful.

Our marketing team returned this week from a show in Vancouver B.C. It was an Outdoor Sports trade show with exhibitors from every industry including: kayaking, mountain biking, climbing and the scuba people were there as well. The PADI people observed that the consumers attending the show seemed very enthusiastic to hear about scuba but seemed very adverse to actually going out and doing it. They were very confused and somewhat disappointed.

I explained that, up there, the ocean isn't something you associate with fun per se. Coastal towns and cabins, yes. The actual ocean... not so much. It's more like this thing that is to be looked at from a distance but not something you actually get close too, much like a wild animal at the zoo. I tried to explain the difference between the "coast" and the "beach," but decided to save that one for another day.

They think I am off my proverbial rocker.

In other news, we've found an apartment and we'll be moving in next saturday the 28th/ sunday the 29th. After we sign our lease, I have exactly 10 days to get a California driver's license and register my car in California before they could *theoretically* start sending me fines. I'm hoping that this whole state budget crisis will be working in my favor and that whomever is supposed to be keeping tabs on new residents has been "restructured."

Oh, and by the way, this may be Orange County, but I have yet to see even one orange tree. You'd think there would be one in every yard or, at the very least, they'd issue you a free basket of oranges when you sign your lease. Nope, It's a total scam. Then again, I never saw a beaver in Oregon (keep your pottymouth remarks to yourself, thanksverymuch).

We also bought a new sofa.
http://www.gocohens.com/products/sofassectionals/bauhaus8927361.html
The color of our sofa will be "espresso" (not shown).
The good news is we got a HELL of a good deal on this couch (purchasesd at J.C. Penney of all places). The bad news is, sorry Leah and Kyle, it won't be here for 10-12 weeks, but we have a deluxe air matress for you! Bonus for me: the name of the company that made the sofa is "Bauhaus." Now if only I could get a Peter Murphy brand coffee table and a Love and Rockets entertainment center. We also got a fridge, which ended up being cheaper to buy outright than to rent for 12 months.


I'll send/post pictures once we get settled in. It's about 860 sq. feet and has 1BR, office, living room, dining room/bar area, kitchen, and a good-sized porch. Madam blackthumb here might try her hand at growing some tomatoes. I even have a name picked out for the plant (Lucy).

Okay, I've rambled on long enough and, hey, if you guys aren't doing anything next weekend, we're offering $20 and free pizza to anyone who'll come help us move. heh heh...

eh? eh?

Miss you all. Have a great week.

-M.D.

P.S. A big congrats to Amy and Mike on their latest addition to the Portland hipster scene: Ernie Campbell. Long may he ROCK!

08 February 2004

one month gone

This past Wednesday marked the one-month anniversary of my relocation from the NW to SoCal. So, in the tradition of end of the year recaps, slambooks, and clip shows, I thought I'd run down a list of the highs and lows of the past month. From great trips to the beach to the horrors of apartment hunting, here are the best and worst things about my first thirty-four days in Orange County.


WORST:
(Besides missing all of you terribly)

10. The overly-perky kickboxing instructor who shouted so loudly it actually made my ears ring for hours afterward.

9. Listening to a pair of radio DJ's gripe about how their Hummer H2's are too tall to fit into most parking garages AND their abominable suggestion that current garages should be retrofitted to accomodate those ugly, hideous, earth-killers.

8. Finding out that $1200/ month apartments in California don't necessarily come equipped with a refrigerator.

7. No more free car washes when it rains.

6. Lack of restaurants catering to vegetarians/ no one understands my "Hail Seitan!" T-shirt.

5. The additional $30/ month "pet rent" demanded by the $1,200/ month apartment community. (Looks like Heidi is going to have to learn how to flip burgers...)

4. IT'S CALLED TURNING IN TO THE NEAREST LEGAL DRIVING LANE, YOU HUMMER-DRIVING SHITHEAD!

3. Getting your strip malls confused and ending up at the gym instead of the Target.

2. Toll roads.

1. Styrofoam.


BEST:

10. Frozen bananas dipped in chocolate and covered in nuts.

9. My governor can beat up your governor.

8. You can drive a minimum of 45 mph on any street.

7. The Thai restaurant in Irvine Spectrum with wasabi mashed potatoes.

6. The "severe weather warning" broadcast using the actual Emergency Broadcast System which alerted Orange County residents that (gasp) it might rain.

5. Zipping down the rainy streets past all the freaked out California drivers in my Oregon car.

4. Hearing "Girlfriend in a Coma" (and other great songs) played on a commercial radio station.

3. Learning Californian: "You should totally go to Trader's to get some snacks for your trip back to Lumberjack Country." "It's tough getting up early, you can flake out on that cot if you want." "Are your friends crunchy granola too?"

2. Sunny, 70 degree February days where you can ride your bike down Huntington Beach and watch the surfers.

1. Scoring a job with the a company as awesome as PADI and meeting all of the very friendly and down-to-earth people who work there.





Congratulations to Karen Martwick for being the winner of the dream interpretation contest I especially enjoyed her observation that "Mike Tyson is a deeply disturbing cultural figure who haunts us all on some level." Thank you to all of the fabulous entrants for your participation, and I hope to offer another fine contest to you all very soon.

Have a great week!

31 January 2004

free prize inside

In fifty-five hours I start my new job.
Consider this a farewell e-mail.

I've been trying to prepare myself by sleeping in as much as possible and trying to complete of all the tasks which require a fully-rested brain (filling out my 1040, revising screenplays, buying new clothes, etc). Because in fifty-five hours, I will enter: The Stupified Zone. I most certainly will make an effort to continue sending e-mail updates, but I'm just warning you I cannot be held responsible for their content.

Say whatever you like about, "Oh, you'll get used to working at 7 a.m." Ha! Never! Remember, I have an inner raccoon* which, besides be preoccupied with the collection of shiny objects, prefers a nocturnal lifestyle. I was always the last person asleep at slumber parties, I was the only eight-year-old I knew who watched Johnny Carson, and I worked as a projectionist for almost five years. Old habits die hard.

*Yes, there's a raccoon and a squirrel in here. Some people have one large inner animal, I have two small ones, and don't give me any flack about it or I'll throw nuts into your engine and knock over your trash.

So, this may very well be the last coherent e-mail you ever receive from me. Fifty-five hours from now, ANOTHER M.A.D. Hapa will emerge, this person that no one has seen since the days of catching the 7:10 a.m. bus to St. Mary's. Say what you will, but I have witnesses who will testify to my inability to dress myself or write in compete sentences. Max, Maggie, Gen, I know you'll back me up on this.

In other news, Barry is still looking for a job in Orange County (Plan A), but just in case, he has a Plan B lined up: which basically involves partnering with a pair of Mac guys in Torrance who are excited to have someone with a non-Indian accent to answer the phone. When he 's not looking for work, Barry has been keeping busy by participating in a "masters" swim program and showing me the Orange County sites (The Gap and Ikea (both twice this week), Banana Republic, and Target).

Today we went to Hollywood Blvd. where I finally got my first dose of L.A. weirdness when a man wearing a pink tank top and a pointy witch hat gave me the "s'up," head gesture on the way to Rosco's Chicken and Waffles. I am still totally underwhelmed. I come from a city where they make donuts in the shape of male genitalia and people live in trees. C'mon, L.A., you're behind the times!

So, in a tribute to Portland's weirdness, I offer you this: I will send a free California souvenir to whomever comes up with the best interpretation of the dream I had two nights ago.

I was at the beach with a boogie board waiting for the surf to kick up. I waited and waited, but instead of becoming more turbulent, the surf turned completely flat and then turned into a sea of pretzel sticks. Yes, the ocean developed a solid coating of pretzel sticks.

I was disappointed at the change and went to find Barry to let him know we'd have to spend the afternoon doing something else. He arrived around the same time little bunny rabbits started scampering in from out in the ocean (they eat the pretzels, you see). Barry took one look at the rabbits and began hurrying us inland, but it was too late. Very large rabbits that walked upright and wore people clothes soon crossed the shoreline. One came directly towards us and Barry rolled his eyes and sighed heavily. The rabbit wore red satin boxer shorts and talked like Mike Tyson. He ushered us in to a large warehouse where other people-sized rabbits tried to sell us kitchen appliances.

What does it mean? Your guess is as good as mine. Send me your thoughts and I might send you a prize.

25 January 2004

you can't always get what you want

Hey, did you hear the State of the Union? The number of unemployment claims went down in the last quarter! THAT'S BECAUSE THE REPUBLICANS HAVE TERMINATED ANY AND ALL UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSIONS. Yes indeed, as of last Wednesday I am no longer suckling the withered teet of the government.

The good news is, I had a great interview with XXXX (scuba diving people) this week and I start my new job on February 3rd. It's a little less money than I hoped for, but I get 4 weeks of paid time off and a 9/80 work schedule (80 hours of work over 9 weekdays). In exchange for working the horrifying hours of 7am - 5pm, I get every other Friday off.

All of the people at XXXX seem very down to earth and nonjudgemental, which is 180 degrees from Entercom and my #1 criteria for a new job. I am glad to know that a steady income is on the way, but I can't help but feeling like a teeny bit of failure as a writer. I'll still be working on and circulating my screenplays (I sent out 18 query letters last week... got a rejection letter from Flower Films yesterday) but, instead of sitting poolside with a laptop I'll once again be bellying up to the cubicle and basking in the glow of fluorescent lighting.

The job is a blend of event planning, copywriting/ proofreading, and admin. It's a new position with lots of room to grow and take on new responsibilities. I'll be doing a little work on a dive magazine and helping to plan events in exotic locals (beats the Car Toys tent sale). No travel for the first year, but it's in the cards.

To celebrate, we spent the weekend hanging out with Barry's family and looking at "apartment communities." I know, I know, it's what I said I wanted for, a steady income and sunshine, and Barry's extended family couldn't be nicer. Still, I feel a little like the Little Mermaid... you remember the story: chick leaves her watery kingdom where she has total freedom to lead the straight life on land. Hmmm, ignore the fact that in the original version she dies at the end.

Okay, but listen to this: this apartment we looked at today advertised that the units were decorated in one of two schemes, "wheat" or "moss." They were playing "Legally Blonde 2" in the "clubhouse" and we viewed apartment layouts described as, "The Rhone" and "The Labio" or some rot like that (Sabio? Fabio, maybe? No one advised the brochure people on proper font selection).

I'm not ready to start highlighting my hair and subscribing to Redbook magazine, okay? I can't live somewhere that makes me feel like an imposter and I won't pay $1,300 a month for an apartment just because it has sconce lighting and an ergonomic thermostat! Someone give me a paper bag to breathe in...

So, as the saying goes. You can't always get what you want, but sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.

18 January 2004

tijuana

As someone who likes to know exactly what she'll be doing next Tuesday at 11:32 a.m., the upcoming unstructured week has me feeling both confused and liberated.

Finally . . . I can get around to fixing the crack in my windshield washer fluid reservoir, making a cityscape out of all that styrofoam I collected, and sending out some query letters. AND, thanks to our recent trip to Tijuana, I can do all of the above while wearing a Mexican wrestler mask and sipping on an Amaretto-enhanced beverage.

Yes, Tijuana. As we crossed "Rio Tijuana" (little more than a puddle), we saw at least a dozen children begging for money using empty McDonald's cups and singing songs with no melody. Barry observed, "It makes you feel good to be an un employed American." Maybe not good, but at least grateful.

But, HEY, this is Tijuana, where America comes to party! If all the poverty gets you down, there are at least 100 pharmacies within a 10 block radius ready to dispense you Prozac, Viagra, Premarine, Codine or any number of reduced-price prescription drugs. Drugs not working quickly enough? Well, amigo, perhaps you need a shot of Tequila and an over-sized sombrero. That's what all Americans like. I bought the aforementioned mask and a handful of souvenirs and prayed I wasn't significantly contributing to the problem.

Ultimately, I think the trip was worthwhile as Barry and I thought of a great money-making venture. Since we were unable to find a postcard that said, "Tijuana is for lovers," we considered creating our own (featuring a bikini-clad woman and a donkey, of course)*. We could sell this postcard to the Gringos on the weekends and supplement our income until we find jobs.

* I thought this girl-on-donkey thing was a really foul, offensive and stupid joke. Apparently, it is quite real. Someone propositioned Barry with, "Hey, amigo! You ready? Listo? Donkey show!" What the Mexican people must think of us . . .


In the meantime, I continue to look for work. Here are two of the more colorful postings I happened upon:

(From L.A. Craigslist.com)

Hi, we are a party rental company doing a 1/4 page ad in Variety. We need your cleavage to place a fork in-between and photo. You can place the fork if uncomfortable. Photo team consists of a guy and a girl. We do not have a van, no nudity required, good-humored assignment. Whole thing should take 5-10 minutes.
Compensation: $5

Home Depot

With a new store opening, on average, every 43 hours, The Home Deport is seeking individuals who are passionate about creating or broadening a career with a company that is experiencing unprecedented growth.

Minimum Qualifications:
Must be 18 years of age or older
Must pass the Drug Test
Must pass the Background Check
Must have the ability to work a minimum 55 hour a week schedule.

Until next time . . .

14 January 2004

California Update II

There's nothing like living in a giant suburb to light a fire under your ass to get a job. As each day passes, I find myself becoming less and less picky and more desperate to just find some where to go during the day. The Crow and I have reached the point where we have too little to do and too much time spent together.

We were up early the other morning and decided to go have breakfast. You wouldn't believe how hard it was to find a place to eat that didn't offer homestyle food smothered in gravy. In the end, we went to Paradise Bakery which was the only thing open in the food court of (surprise) a shopping mall. After we finished eating I felt compelled to retrieve all the styrofoam coffee cups from the trash receptacle and mail them back to the companies with which their logos are affiliated, but before I could, Barry was off tromping through the mall. Did I mention that all the stores were CLOSED?

I maneuvered past some power-walking seniors and located The Crow who was looking over a lighted advertisement for "America's Next Top Model." He commented, "This is going to suck." I said, "Don't think for one second that the people back home aren't going to hear about this," and took him by the arm.

It was time to get really serious about finding both of us a job, any job.

The next day I applied for a number of positions which were clearly of the sort located in an office park complete with a fountain and an ugly sculpture located at the main entrance.

"My name is Megan Denny and I am writing today in reagrds to your BLAH BLAH BLAH position. I am a talented marketing coordinator with strong writing skills and an enthusiasm for Global Relocation Solutions/ Direct Marketing for Cable Services/ Data Entry/ etc."

When I'm not coming up with new ways to say, "Give me a job, dammit," I have been continuing with my kickboxing classes. O.C. is the hive for both kickboxing and 24 Hour Fitness and I've seen every kind of person show up to the various classes. The first time I went, I saw a couple of women with breasts so large I thought they might knock themselves out by a blow to the head if they jumped too hard. At the last class I attended, there were some people who were clearly over the age of 60 and they did better than anyone else in the room!

The most amazing thing I have discovered since being down here is this radio station:
http://www.indie1031.fm/main.html
It's called "Indie 103," and I think it is a joint venture between Clear Channel and someone else, but the music they play is unreal. In one day I heard: Talking Heads ("Naive Song"), Joy Division ("Atmosphere"), The Postal Service ("Such Great Heights"), Tom Waits ("You're Innocent When You Dream"), and The Police ("So Lonely"). I couldn't make this awesome of a station if I tried. Naturally, I sent them a, "Give me a job, dammit" e-mail, but, as my previous experience is with Entercommunist, I don't know if they'll look too kindly on my person.

Okay, okay, I'm rambling on. Well, I hope all of you are doing well, and I will end by including this link of the U.S.'s most and least Stressful Cities for your clicking enjoyment (both Portland and Orange County make the lists).
http://houseandhome.msn.com/Move/TheMostandLeastStressfulCities.aspx

Ciao for now.

08 January 2004

California Update

It was one week ago today that we hit the road for the big C.A., and though we have technically only been living in Orange County for about five days, it feels like we have been here much longer. Barry has acclimated to our new surroundings like a fish to water or, as I like to think of it, a capitalist to a shopping mall. My adjustment is coming along more slowly.

The first couple of days were extremely unsettling as the weather is quite different here. My inner little animal, I like to think of it as a squirrel, didn't know what to make of it all and just huddled in the corner, eyes darting side to side, saying, "something is really wrong here." By now I have started to adjust to my surroundings. When I drive down the street I drive the speed limit (50mph) like everyone else, and flip a U-Turn at major intersections because, well, I can. I've also begun to resolve my issues with strip malls since the ones here have Indian grocers, taquerias and sushi joints where Portland has barren storefronts and check cashing places.

There are some things, however, I don't think I will ever get used to: the lack of recycling, the use of styrofoam, the radio ads for breast augmentation and vaginal reconstruction(!!!), and the prolliferation of tanning booths (why?).

I AM enjoying the warmer weather, pumping my own gas, and being closer to the ocean.

Of course, some things will never change. My car has already been shat upon by birds three times in five days. I avoid parking under trees and telephone poles; what is it about my car that causes every bird in a three-mile radius to release its bowels?

I don't have much to report on the job front. The interview I had on monday for a supposed $40k/year copywriting gig turned out to be scamtastic. When I arrived I was issued a typing test and made to watch a 20 minute safety video which informed me I should never cut across the lawn of a "business park or plaza" (use designated paved walkways ONLY) and I should not attempt to fix the paper shredder with a letter opener. Two hours later I finally left the place gaining nothing more than the knowledge that I can type 66 words per minute with 6 errors. Yes, I am the typist from hell.

Tomorrow we head to L.A. to visit Heidi (Barry's cat) and take in a few sights. I imagine this trip will provide plenty of colorful fodder for the next california update.

Stay tuned...

-M.D.

05 January 2004

The Least Boring Thing I've Ever Done

Well, we made it.

After a false start due to snow and ice, we finally hit the road for California on January 2nd. Here is a semi-brief recap of the journey.

DAY ONE: FRIDAY
We took I-5 as far as Roseberg (home of the Northwest's most disgusting bathroom) where we learned that I-5 was closed at Grant's Pass (one hour south). So, we detoured down Hwy 40 to connect to Hwy 101. The 101 is not a direct way to California by any means, but it was our only option.

Not too long past Brookings (where the power was out) we crossed over the Oregon border. Barry phoned me immediately to say, "Welcome to California, your new home," and as my eyes gazed accross all-night liquor stores and neon Oakland Raiders signs, it was all I could do to keep from flipping a U-turn and gunning for home. We continued on in the dark through a grove of redwoods (cool) and a 7% downgrade covered in ice (not cool). Luckily, we were able to get behind a plow and a de-icing truck, otherwise we would have had to turn around. Twelve hours from the time we left, we arrived in Eureka, California.

DAY TWO: SATURDAY
With no logical route back to I-5, we decided to continue down the 101 into San Francisco. As we checked out that morning from the Super 8, the person behind the desk said the 101 south was closed. "Southbound? Surely, sir, you have your head in your ass." In fact, Hwy 101 WAS closed due to a rock slide. Luckily, by the time we reached the stretch of closed road, the highway had been cleared and re-opened.

I was excited about driving my little red car over the Golden Gate Bridge, but as it turned out we crossed over on the Richmond Bridge in the north bay. That bridge is insane. It is so long, I listened to two full Sleater-Kinney songs before we finished crossing. They were doing construction and you could actually see the water, hundreds of feet below, from a space between the roadway and the "guard rail." I don't know how San Franciscans manage to confront their mortality on a day-to-day basis.

The sun was setting as we curved around and headed for the east bay. As we approached the 580 (or was it the 680?) I had my first glimpse of the future... 12 lanes of solid traffic. WOW. It was marvelous except for the fact that I was getting cut off left and right while trying to keep track of Mr. I'mtoocooltousemyturnsignal Barry Crow. Things cleared up out of the Caldecott Tunnel and we arrived in Danville California (where Barry's parents live) around 7 p.m.

DAY THREE: SUNDAY
Given everything that had happened in the two days previous, I was ready for anything: locusts, tsunamis, ghosts of the Donner party. etc. My car was holding up okay except that the temp. indicator said the engine was running very cold. Barry surmised that the thermostat was malfunctioning and nothing was wrong with the engine. I was cheered when I calculated my engine efficiency to be 40 miles per gallon.

The final leg of the journey was uneventful. Aside from some very creative driving on behalf of the Californians, who have safety concerns comprable to that of a seventeen year old, there isn't much to mention until...

We stopped in Hollywood to pick up some pet supplies and I realized I was sweating! Sweating!!! WOW. I don't know what the exact temp. was, but the sun was out and it seemed to be about 65 degrees. We dropped off Heidi (the cat) in sunny South Pasedena and then headed for Orange County. Traffic was blissfully clear, but Orange County still turned out to be a fair distance from South Pasadena. By the time we arrived in Lake Forest it was dark, and as I pulled in I could just barely see Barry's Aunt Cindy was waiting for us at the door. Welcoming us to our new home.


Thank you to everyone who sent messages of support and encouragement, and I'm sorry to eveyone who I didn't get to see before I left.

New but TEMPORARY mailing address.
Megan Denny
Lake Forest, CA XXXXX
phone and e-mail remain the same.

Love to you all.

-Megan