fj: (travel)
I feel I should make a "Where's Larry" link like [livejournal.com profile] urbear did under every post, but for my location. Especially now that he probably no longer needs it.

So yes, I did arrive in Düsseldorf Tuesday late for my last week, late enough all I could do was go to the gym and get food and hang out. I spent Wednesday in the chic shopping district. I decided with the landlord we'd do the hand-off of keys on Monday instead of Thursday, which meant that after my last day at the gym, I got on the ICE to Amsterdam (2 and change super-speedy hours) without a wallet full of Euros of the deposit but able to leave the icky wet towel hanging in the bathroom. The no-Euros thing was good because The Netherlands was having Sales, and this way I only bought what I absolutely really wanted (one sweater). Amsterdam was rainy, the hotel was way too cheap for its location (PC Hooft) and season (High) which tells me the dollar is really in the toilet and the whole tourist economy must be bleeding, the gym I went to charged too much for a day pass but it was pure nostalgia because it was the one I went to when I was there for a month in 2006. The friend I wanted to see those two days did not call back.

The next day the trams were down, and I had to walk through the city with a heavy bag. Leidschestraat was never that quiet with just pedestrians. When I got to Nieuwezijdse Voorburgwal I saw the problem wasn't the lightning strike I was told had been the issue, but a nr 2 and nr 13 in a configuration that is deviant and unnatural for trams -- must have been a derailment. And when that corner goes out, omg, all the trams in the west side and cednter are just gone. I did get to Central Station huffing and puffing, and then got on a train to spend the next two days at the parental home, being fed, explaining things about Mac OS X to my Dad, ganging up on him with his girlfriend, and seeing some siblings and nephews and nieces who came by that Sunday to just be together.

This was also the weekend an ICE train slipped and derailed and the German railways [DB] took them all out of commission to inspect them, and the thus DB and the Dutch railways [NS} set up transports with busses and normal trains and whatever, but it would take forever. Seeing as my trip was a little time-sensitive Monday morning for the airplane back, I decided on advice of the NS to just not care that my ICE reservation was for Monday morning and leave Sunday night. Hooray, the ICEs were running again Sunday night! Boo, an accident somewhere on the rails near Utrecht means the ICE on Sunday night was two hours late, which for European standards is a total WTF? The NS station personnel felt so bad they started bring us, the people they had seen on that same quay wait for over an hour, coffee. I was all like oh god I don't drink coffee and she went back and got me tea. Once the ICE came it ran like a dream, and I just chose an empty seat, and nobody came by to check tickets and nobody had reserved my seat. Everyone knew this weekend nothing was normal on the railways. Thank god I still had an appartment to go to and just crash. It all worked out after all.

And Monday I cleaned the appartment, handed over keys, and came back to London. No taxi, flight, Heathrow Express, or Tube issues. Taking it seriously easy now. A little shopping. Proper food at good times. A spot of tea. Cold squash drinks. Because, in what seemed like a good idea at the time but I am now wondering what drugs I was on, I am capping off all this travel by getting on a plane to LA and SF. In two days.

How It Was

Jul. 11th, 2008 03:55 pm
fj: (travel)
So, contradictions. Düsseldorf is an impossibly chic little city, but rents in the central area, not at all run down, are ridiculously cheap. Germany is going through a prolonged economic malaise due to reunification, but organic-ish vegetables and perfectly lovely store brand products in my local supermarket cost nothing. And this gig was in Germany and yet I was caught dead doing it1.

This gig for Vodafone was one that my agent has been trying to get me to take fo a while, but I never liked the terms: one had to be in Germany at least four days a week, which means that if you do not move outright for the whole thing, you end up in London only one full day, and I went to London 6 months ago to live there, not in Germany. But after not having worked for a month and a half after that single week with the consultancy, and my savings being equally unhappy after this move, I was more receptive. Then my agent called and said he had talked them down to three days at the office, which means two days of work and weekends at home, plus an unbelievable dayrate as long as I paid my own travel and lodgings, but that those could come off taxes, and I said ok. It's only a 55 minute flight after all.

Logistics-wise, the gig turned out to be better than I thought it would be. Of course the first week I overpayed for a hotel, not knowing what and where. The next week I didn't because I knew where the Hotel Ibis was, a Europe-wide brand of cheap business hotels near train stations. By the third week, my appartment had been arranged, and that made me the slow one in the office: the MZW agency can do that in a day, and had for most of my colleagues who flew in like me. €580,- a month for a big studio in the center of town. Almost every name on the letterboxes, stuck on with label-maker tape, was Indian. The landlord basically rents to all us temp workers. Only drawback of my lovely space: it's a 6th floor walk-up. Oh yeah. The city was rebuilt in the 50s after the war, and elevators were not a priority.

So, little cheap Bio supermarket on the same street. Streetcar stop on the corner which I could take to work. The Vodafone tower and adjacent buildings are pretty much on the Rhine, and modern and spacious and open. My co-workers were nice, and it was kind of fun to sit in the auxiliary room together with all the young designers from the contracting firms chattering away. The work was perfectly do-able and started out bringing me further along to mastering the bread-and-butter of mercenary UI designers (which I am still relatively recent at) but by the end had me back writing strategic documents about revenue opportunities in new media (which I can do in my sleep if you tell me the focus).

I looked at all the gyms online, visited a few from very middle-of-the-road to very expensive, and settled for a bodybuilder's gym that had a good 3-month rate and was in the city center. I walked a lot with my backpack with this heavy computer and gym clothes, I ended up never buying protein powder but just eating a lot of eggs and chicken and tuna and fromage frais (known as Quark in German).

I settled on a routine for flying in and out on Monday and Thursday evenings. This means Mondays were always chaotic as I had to get ready to leave, spend a lot of time actually traveling (bus from Oval to Paddington, Heathrow Express, Plane, Taxi), and still get a whole day of work in and exercise, while Fridays were a mess while I had to get a whole day of work in, do expenses paperwork and time sheets, and was just a general tired mess from flying in Thursday night. Every Friday night when I got in to bed having juggled and hurried and done everything and eaten and worked out at two gyms and not dropped any balls, I just collapsed, and then reminded myself I'd get to do it all over again in two days. Sometimes with having to go to the bank on Monday as well to travel with €1K in cash, as using my UK and US cards was either impossible or expensive for things like rent or food. Never used it for shopping, though, as I never had time by day. This last trip I was able to just walk the whole of the shopping street and see how for a small city, Ddorf is just really well supplied in high-end fashion, all in a really nice area. Balenciaga's black knitwear for this season is Teh Raumpatrouille Orion Sex2.

The constant planning got tedious. What clothes were where, what should I bring, do I have enough cash for the taxi, what was in what fridge (which is important if you often arrive after shops close), what did I need to bring to work, what would fit in what bag. When I came back in London from having stayed over a weekend to visit my family I learned that Tesco's Finest Orange Juice is not pasteurized: the bottle had bulged, opening it was a plopping adventure, and the OJ had been diligently fizzily carbonated by little entities. The only way to deal with all the planning was routines: everything had to have a place and time, from when I switched currencies, to when and where I would switch keys on my key chain, to when I would pull out my passport and when I would put it back to what I would buy and when I would leave. I couldn't keep track of it all at the same time, so I kept track of each thing as it happened and put it in a place that would be predictable for the next time this part of the routine had to happen. By the end it was actually all really relaxed trip-wise, I just ran through the steps, back and forth, with the only spanner in the works being the damn planes. I only got three outright cancellations in the whole period.

As for visiting my father, one of the reasons I took this gig, that didn't happen because it was really hard to schedule him. He was busy every weekend in May, and I only stayed over on the continent once to see him in June. I will this weekend, but the whole let's go to Rozendaal often just didn't pan out much. The work did, minus two weeks, and the weather was often very lovely. I'd do this again. But now, two days in Amsterdam, and then to Dad, and then Monday to London.

1Ancient Euro rivalry alert
2If you are into paying €1200,- for a sweater, that is.
fj: (health)
Waking up tired, I powered myself through Thursday, even trying out a new gym to join in Düsseldorf. Yesterday after airline adventures I came home at 1 PM, ready to work, and was unable to do even the minimum of what I would call a normal days output. Juts puttering around all day, catching up on BSG (3 episodes), go to gym, and feel like I won't last 10 more weeks this way on this schedule. Like my body is running on empty.

It's 4.30 PM now, and all I have done is sleep and eat all the healthy food I bought. Then I remembered: Wednesday I felt slightly feverish, but my good friend Ibuprofen took it away overnight. Yes, I am tired, and in Germany I do not take as good care of myself as I should if I am going to be in an airplane and under this work pressure every week, but obviously I am working out some sort of infection right now. Now that I have a flat I can get it together in Germany as well, and I will be ok. Work out. Prepare food I need in portions I need to take to work. Drink more on the plane, even if a small bottle of water costs €3. I just have to have a very slow weekend now. I think tomorrow I will be even able to catch up what I should have done yesterday. And not even consider going to the birthday party at last weeks club being thrown for the East End bouncer we met through chatting with his wife, which'll probably be attended by all his other, equally beefed-up bouncer friends, random East Enders, and sexual deviants he seemed to know last week. His wife, who put me and [livejournal.com profile] iejw  on the guestlist at 4 AM, probably will have forgotten all about us anyway. Can't go. Want to go. Can't go. Must sleep more now.

( Watched latest BSG, made me gasp at the end. Spoilers in comments.)

Support

Mar. 2nd, 2008 06:03 pm
fj: (health)
In the US I lifted weights pretty reliably 5 times a week, and ate around 200 grams of protein, of which almost half was in the shape of whey protein powder. During the last year, one or two of those five sessions were with a personal trainer who stretched my boundaries of what hard work was to almost masochistic levels. I came to the country in 1995 around 180 pounds, ate and lifted my way to a bloated 226 pounds, quit most starches and high GI foods 4 years ago until I dropped to 200 pounds so fast I though I had cancer or something, and left the country at around 198. No six-pack, some slopes of muscle under my hairy skin, nothing rock-hard.

I landed in the UK and had 5 days of fever. Now I am eating 5 times a day again, allowing grains again in muesli and one chicken sandwich a day of store-bought sandwiches of which I recognize all ingredients on the packaging. I am still eating meat three times a day, doing most of my own cooking. But I haven't bought protein powder yet. I can't stand these store prices for what is basically a bulk rest-product of a major industrial process -- making cheese -- so I was waiting to have an address to order mail-order, and I was also wondering what all that protein was actually doing for me. But I have been often walking for hours a day, and still working, best I can in the small gym, as hard as ever 5 times a week or so.

Well, now I know what it does. First of all, if the scale in the gym is to be believed, I am down to 187 pounds (85 kgs). You can pull my size 34 GAP jeans (thus that 34 is generous) off my ass with one strong tug, even while the belt is closed at its tightest. Still no six-pack -- which makes me beleive this is not a feature my body can produce without me looking really crappy starving -- but good shape, although the armband tells me I have lost some muscle, and probably all over. Nothing looks abundant or ample, but it is all there. This is what happens when you remove a significant source of calories.

I also, today, failed a lift that should have been no problem. Alas, a straight-legged deadlift. Lower back is a little stiff and sore now, but nothing major or bad, I have woken up in worse pain some mornings from just sleeping on a wrong mattress. But it does remind me that if I am going to do this kind of schedule, I need to actually feed myself what is necessary to keep myself in working order. Well, I get the keys to my new flat tomorrow at noon, and will be moving in over the week. And the tubs of whey and milk protein are already on order to be delivered.
fj: (Default)
After my lunch interview I explored a little of Islington and Kennington to check what it would be like to live there, with a dead phone battery from Google Maps overuse to make my appointment. I actually got lost and had to re-find my location without maps or electronics, which I did by just following a large road North until I hit a tube station (Lambert). Came home and collapsed for a nap. I am walking an awful lot. Then found I had voicemail I need to follow up on tomorrow.

The homework of defining my dream job has had overspill: I know better what I want in more areas of my life, and that I don't have to jump into the first half-way decent commitment that comes along in order to create stability. I can keep looking and get things right.
fj: (UK)
I have stupid mobile phone shenanigans because I have called the US a number of times now without having my bundle of cheap US minutes in place, and I can't register my local bank card on the stupid website because it says I have reached my limit of cards I can add to my account, and it won't allow me to top up from my non-local bank card any more nor delete it from my account so I can register my local card. Thanks, T-Mobile. I'll have to top up tomorrow at a shop.

Well, I made progress then this week: at least I have a local bank card, but funding this account is taking time since all funds need to come from foreign places; the fastest one will probably be the small stash of money I had in an old Dutch giro account. The EER or EC seems to have international money transfers down now.

I will need to fill that bank account up. I have been pounding pavement again to see flats. I find studios and flats in the price ranges I am working with on propertyfinder.com or thinkproperty.co.uk, but of course they are all gone when I call. What is left I see, and they are postage-stamp sized and drab. I know housing is out there for me, I just need to luck out. Of course, since I am new to town and thus have no references ("No, I do not have a landlord in the US, I owned"), am still unemployed, and no guarantor, the agents all tell me I will have to fund upfront the whole 6 months of the letting contract, 6 months being the minimum contract anyway. My head spins at the kind of money we end up talking about even for something with no light and so small my couch coming in a few months will never fit, costing about 200 pounds a week.

Still, if the estate agents would take AmEx for that balloon payment once I find my place, it would end up saving me a lot of transfer costs: AmEx is the only one not charging me fees for using my US card here, and I pay that card with my US bank account. I can stay in my new yet decrepit rented room here for a while, paying up every week. My top-up life: phone, travel card, room, all funds being added as necessary, in larger amounts than I want. For example: need to make 4 quick trips to see places all over zone 1 and 2, pay 4 pounds for the day. That's 8 dollars, btw. And the Tube system makes a point of telling you they are doing you a favor by capping your maximum spend if you use their special contactless travel card, Oyster. That daily maximum is 4.80 off-peak and 6 pounds on peak hours. Double to get the dollar amounts.

I am working out in the local gym, again expensive because I can't commit to an economical long-term plan seeing that I do not know where I will actually end up. I walk for hours a day, from agency to agency to supermarket. I know I am not supporting myself nutritionally enough, and will have to buy protein powder soon, instead of eating turkey breasts for dinner and lunch and pre-packaged chicken sandwiches after a work-out. Did get some EFA oils, though, healing dry patches on my skin again that came back after not having Omega 3 and 6 oils for two weeks. Still coughing up gunk, otherwise ok. Except for the chocolate binge last night, which I am not happy with since I think I may have been self-medicating.

One recruiter I have been working with for a while keeps finding me interviews. Did one over phone, that job will have a sucky commute. They wants me to do a presentation about how to improve the user experience in a specific area as part of the in-person job interview. They have yet to confirm which date on the week of the 25th. Seeing a handset division of a large company Monday, I should check my suit is ok, and iron it with the iron supplied in this room -- no board though. Meeting the head of a small UX agency Tuesday for lunch. Had some people calling based on monster resume (but I actually think it is the jobserve one they are seeing, because that is the one changed recently), but nothing interesting from those recruiters. At least they do not want me to move to Mountain View to write multi-media drivers in J2ME. It does mean I will not take the time out to do my own thing.

London looks nice in places. I've met up with people, as I wrote here, and will meet up with Nigel tomorrow.
But I am not having fun. I am just slogging through hoping I will get to a better point.
fj: (UK)
Portions are smaller here, but not significantly cheaper, if I look at the baked goods in a Starbucks. I suspect the ingredients are better quality. The bread here's nice, so are the packaged mueslis.

Bites from recruiters since my resume went up with a local number and address. We'll see. I really need to not jump at the first job, but hold the positions up against my wacky ideas for my ideal job. I came here for a better life, after all, I should not settle too quickly. It's not like the phone will stop ringing after a week. If I can't find something as I burn my cash reserves in the next months, I can always take the resume down and put it up filled with software engineering technology buzzwords and go back to that grind. That grind will always be there. For now I must hold out.

Found the other local gym that does allow for weekly passes. Frickin' expensive weekly passes, but since I do not know how long I am staying it is probably a good idea. The lack of equipment in the weightlifting area is going to require a lot of creativity. Boy was I weak today. I am really not healthy yet. But I walk a lot, for hours. My jeans are being held up by my hip bones and ass, but without enthusiasm. I could pull them off by just tugging forcefully, even with the belt in the last hole.

Lost out on an apartment, some leads on others. Would have not worked anyway, the landlord wanted quiet people, and I am moving in with an aspiring opera singer. This could be an issue in the search.
fj: (Default)
I need to thank my personal trainer for my back, shoulders, and chest, else I could not have taken 150 pounds of luggage cross town -- they do not believe in elevators here at most tube stops. Some not even escalators.

The luggage was a the result of a close-out sale at Macy's, so I didn't exactly get the luggage I wanted. Helen laughed at me when I described them Sunday, and brought red markers to the party so people could decorate them. And there I was today, dragging them, coughing as I have for 2 days now, through the rain and puddles, over the streets to where the offices of my temporary room should be. I left the hotel near Victoria station this morning, a very two star affair on a street filled with these two-star affairs.I spent yesterday afternoon and last night there, with forays to get power cords for equipment and my SIM/data card. I seem to be using too much data, T-Mobile has started blocking IM ports on me.

After a heavy trip up and down platforms and tube stops and sidewalks, I reach Belsize Avenue, near Belsize Park tube station. I get a key from a woman behind a desk, I hand her my credit card, 170 pounds a week, 2 weeks, 50 pound refundable deposit, 10 pound booking fee. I roll onward with my powder blue behemoths down the road, now the rain is pouring, and I feel like I have been lugging these things up and down forever. Everything in my torso is straining. I turn the corner and see the Abbey and my jaw drops. So not LA. Had to take a picture, even though my luggage was only getting wetter.

In the row of houses on the street, the one with my room is the worst maintained. Inside the hallway is decrepit but clean, the red carpet on the stairs has seen better days, the shared bathroom facilities are spartan like a cheap council flat, and my, oh, what, 100 sq ft room has a bed, a closet, and some unfinished tables to house a sink, a toaster oven with two electric plates, a small fridge, and absolutely 0 charm. I have cutlery and plates and cookware. It is all scoured clean, like they took a beltsander to everything. oming from where I was last Monday, it feels like I did something really wrong. Now it is booked for two weeks for me to find something more permanent -- but of course my brain is redecorating this space with custom vertial carpentry. It seems 14 feet tall. .

But between the lugging, the rain, and the jetlag, I am now sick. I may have a fever. I went to the supermarket, and I now also have food and tea and advil.
fj: (Hector The Protector)
Morning funny: following a link (still don't know why [livejournal.com profile] jpeace sent it) to what turns out to be the blog of a porn actor with the complaint that when he goes out, not to friends' places but out into the nightlife, he gets seen as a piece of meat. 1) Lucky you, shut up 2) Unintended consequences much?

Also, it turns out I can post a link to RMS dancingget my links to the ACLU supporting public sex wrong and get no comments on it.

And everyone is travelling this weekend: Fiesta, MAL, Arisia, Atlantis Cruise. (Edit: ) Sundance

Self

Jan. 6th, 2008 05:18 pm
fj: (Default)

Self
"Self", Sony DSC-P7, Los Angeles County, 2008



Somewhere along the line of wanting a new headshot for semi-professional purposes (like LinkedIn) taking advantage of the beautiful soft gray light in LA today, I ended up becoming the cover art for a German lounge album.

There's more where that came from if you click on the pic. I may use some of those others for the original purpose. Now I also remember why I never use this camera: the noise levels in the darker midtones are ridiculous, and I almost always shoot indoors.
fj: (health)
After almost a year of working out with Ray, first one day a week (shoulders), then twice a week (shoulders, chest) until now I can tolerate more pain and exertion, I have allowed him to switch to (legs, chest / shoulders). Second time we have worked my legs together, and I was unable to walk normally out of the gym.

Then I spent the day painting: another color test, color conformed; staining stone sink cabinet surface test, inconclusive; painting two coats on two walls in bathroom two shades whiter, needs touch-up after removing masking tape; installed track lights in ceiling, may need to be moved 1/2 inch -- and all the shopping that goes with that.

IN short, I should be falling over with sleep. I can't sleep. I went on to Digg and found another article about sound financial strategies to stay middle class, and came across descriptions of IRAs. I decided to read those.

Now I should really be sleepy. Except I find them fascinating. Roth IRAs seem to be designed to thwart ever becoming more than middle-class with that financial instrument, and is almost useless for what is middle class in NYC, SF, LA, SD.
fj: (bqw)
...why are you not aware of [livejournal.com profile] 13thofnever's latest entry?*


* Plz to ignore if actually already aware of entry.
fj: (LA)
My WalkScore of 88 is ridiculous. Most of the 'restaurants' are creepy taco stands hidden deep in delapidated buildings, the movie theaters are crumbling in disarray, and 90% of everything is closed after 9PM. Still, stuff's better than it was last year. Our new supermarket is glorious, glorious, glorious, first supermarket in downtown in 30 years or so, and it is beyond fucking ridiculous huge and beautiful and has 8-feet wide isles and a bookstore and dry cleaners and chairs and tables to have the coffee smoothie and read a book and buy gourmet take-out after your groceries. There were 500 people at the opening, 250 were media. This should tell you how bad downtown LA got, and how much people want it to come back up. The Ralph's is also always busy when I go, even the organic section, which gives me hope Whole Paycheck will take one look and start chomping at the bit to indeed open something in one of the big new developments, as they are rumored to.

I could walk to the Ralph's, but I don't. I don't walk very much downtown anymore. I scooter. On a scooter for big adults I had delivered from New York. The distances to walk downtown were just a little too far, I wanted some mechanical help, but bicycles are just not doing it for me on these streets or taking them into the subway -- people with them in the subway always seem so encumbered. I look like a complete dork on my scooter and one of the local suit salesmen couldn't contain his laughter the first time he saw me while sweeping outside his store, but I find it pretty ideal. Jolts my heart in the morning, gets to the subway faster than the bus since there are no stops for me besides the same lights the bus has to stop for, and is legal on the sidewalk. Which are in pathetic shape, but I learn to maneuver. In four weeks I have only eaten pavement once, but what a spill it was. All ok now, though. At the Ralph's and the metro I just fold it up and carry it. Fits in the locker with my clothes at the gym. And I have found out downtown LA slopes, ever so slightly but usefully, in unexpected ways; not just North South but also West to East -- going home is mostly coasting.

Still, not as cool as a skateboard and [Obscure sitcom alert] I do feel sometimes I should have a boombox playing "The Final Countdown" with me [End alert]. I am an adult on what looks like the overgrown version of a toy. But it has now become 'functional fitness' and not just vanity for me to have big-ass wide shoulders: the shopping totes have to stay put after all on my shoulders when I am scootering home. Bigger shoulders plz k thx!
fj: (health)
Watched some marathoners come in, since they were running this morning a block away from my building. This block, by the way, houses the buildings on which roofs U2 recorded the vidoe for "Where The Streets Have No Name". But today, marathon runners.  I watched for ten minutes at what would have been 3.10 hrs into the whole deal. I was warned that there would be eyecandy at that time, but at mile 25, the people coming in at slightly over three hours are either exhausted, so they don't look too good, or in proper but slow marathon shape. And the thing about proper marathon shape is that, believe me, if anyone ever gets into that shape by any other means than training and running marathons, their good friends would stage an intervention for eating disorders.

And I say this living with a full fledged running cultist. Who, when he was in marathon shape, had some friends worried about his eating disorder anyway.
fj: (Default)

United Colors Of Liquid Muscle Hope
"United Colors Of Liquid Muscle Hope", Nokia N73, Los Angeles County, 2006

fj: (health)

Why do we love Bravo's new gym-themed reality TV show, "Work Out"*?

[...]

[...]


*http://www.bravotv.com/Work_Out/index.

Please, girl. Like I would want to be seen nationally as a client of a gym where only one of the male personal trainers has pecs good enough to be seen on the promo material. And even then: when I work out, I work out alone, headphones on. I say hi a bit to regulars, but I barely talk to anyone. I joined my gym almost 3 months ago, and in that time I have seen new faces come and make friends and bs around between sets. Me, I just smile and nod a bit. I can't handle the secret handshakes of the modern hip males, and all I want is to be left alone while I slog through torturing myself yet again. It hurts.

My current gym I chose because it was so close to work and had the equipment I feel I can deal with. It is a small gym, it is not a modern gym, not a chrome-oriented gym. I see a variety of people there working with the owner and the other Personal Trainers. It's the kind if gym where the owner brings his dog some days, and you can see her slink out of the office, one paw at a time, stopping when she is looked at with a guilty air of 'Did I move? I am just standing here!', to be close to her pack alpha who is currently on the weights floor training a client. It is the kind of gym where one day I saw 5 guys in compression shorts try to do their one-rep max squats, cheering each-other on. Where the aerobic machines area is small and not the main event. Where men and women of all shapes and sizes come to work. Where the only thing gleaming is our own bodies, from sweat, because this gym, in LA, in the Valley, has no AC, just a bunch of fans blowing air. I had to stop taking a break at work at 4 to go to the gym and then get back to work, as I did in Boston; I just couldn't handle the afternoon heat. Not yet. Even while drinking water like the faucet end of a garden hose for a golf course between sets.

I now go after work, when the air cools down a bit. On Thursdays and Fridays when I work in Glendale, I drive to the office in North Hollywood, park the car in the office parking, and then cross the road and go in. But that means that if I am getting used to going after work and not as a break in my work day, I do not need to have a gym so close to work. I could join the mainstream and go to the Gold's close to home. It has AC and towel service and a pool and gleaming equipment, including a whole area of my fav Freemotion cable-based machines. [livejournal.com profile] timfogartyfeed keeps telling me that a guy like me in LA needs to join Gold's already, and has done the legwork to find me the best deal that will allow me to go to other locations as well. I have been pushing back with vague excuses. Because ya know, I'd miss my current gym. It feels real, in a way, uncomfortable. Nobody goes there to be seen or fit in or be part of the crowd or because it is the thing to do or to take it easy. You go there because you want to work out good.
fj: (talking)
Ok, so I am in pain and not going anywhere. So of course I ended up VH1, and of course the Surreal Life Series 207 was on. First of all, Florence 'Everymom' Henderson is moderating the challenges like some powersuited blond accountant drunk on power. Tawny Kitaen -- my god, why do I know who she is without having to look her up? How sad is that? (I didn't know who Andrea Lowell was, though.) Alexis Arquette makes a great self-aware everyTranny with great hair extensions. And everyone is so self-aware of the celebrity disaster they are in, the constructed self-reflective fame-grabbing idiocy of what they are doing. Choosing the final castmember was done under the banner of "15 More Minutes Of Fame" where the other members voted between 5 drop-outs of previous reality shows (Idol, Survivor, Real World, etc). Is this compelling television? Hell no. But here I am.

What has happened is that my driving foot needs to get used to the new car, and it has started to annoy the heck out my hamstring. However, I also injured my lower back on the right hand side, I was not careful about the whole affair, it all started playing into each other, and now when I stand up after sitting or lying down, I have shooting pains for the first five minutes of movement. Ice packs, advil, hot tubs, yeah, I am doing it. But it is damage, and damage needs time to heal. I keep hoping to find that position, that stretch, that will make the knot just go, "Oh ok, I'll relax" and it will all go away, but of course it doesn't work that way. It needs time.

MAn, I'd rather there had been a Celebrity Fit Club marathon. I wanted to know why Carnie Wilson needs to be in it -- I though gastric bypass a decade ago had made her all thin and happy like her publicist said. Is there no publicist I can believe anymore?
fj: (Default)
Last weekend Tim took me to the Faultline bar for another Bodybuilder Jam. We went to see who he'd run into, and because they are amusing. It turned out to be one of those strange nights in which you end up talking to everyone and no-one, touching lives and bodies briefly, all people packed in a patio outside around a firepit and bar and stage, strange little snippets of conversation exchanged, until you leave the space and everything is over. On stage basically the show is steroided strippers and their Schmoe admirers living for a glimpse or a touch. I started snarking with the people around me, and then I realized te snarking was not doing anything but creating distance, giving us shields to hide behind -- if it is all so beneath you, why are you here?



Sleaze Pose II



Summer



Addictions International

I was fascinated by the audience, the hands, the sea of hands reaching up. I ended up talking to the one woman in the whole bar, the girlfriend of the straight (he mentioned it 6 times) porn star MC, just as he was stripping some and she shrieked "My husband just left me standing alone here and now my boyfriend is stripping!"
--"Well, it's only his jacket!"
Still, she seemed both perplexed and in need of throwing a fit, being the most out-of-place person there, so I just fed her lines to banter off and by the end of the nigh when I ran into her as we were leaving, she reached out her hand and I gave it a kiss.

I ended up talking to a porn producer while his latest find was on stage, and I go "He's new to this, isn't he?" because it took him some time to relax and enjoy what he was doing, and it turns out he was. "He is so nice. Genuine guy. I am starting him slow, some solo videos, rest comes later."
--"Oh you're not throwing him into an orgy scene right away?"
"Oh no."
Flexing and moving and flexing for 15 minutes under those lights is damn hard work. I can't even deliver an over-rehearsed 15 minute talk on a paper without dying, I couldn't do this.
--"How do you find them?"
"They come to me now."

And always those hands, that sea of grabbing hands. Tim knew what the best angle would be for me to get some pics in, but all I had was a 6600 for this reportage. I did my best, trying to cath not the performers but the interaction. The need that the pro stills people and the video DVD people and the MC trying to do voice overs would not catch.

I learned something from the pics we shot of Dean and me shirtless in the rain after I had just shaved my hair: tagging something on flickr with "muscle shirtless" and others like that will make their 'most viewed' ratings go through the roof. I uploaded and tagged this set last week, and already they are climbing the chart, soon to overtake the lousy set I shot of an event like this 7 or so weeks ago. I am glad 'Summer' is still on there because I think it is the culmination of exactly the still life I want to shoot, but I have no frickin idea why 'Addictions International' is scoring that high.
fj: (Default)
There are posters for Cars up everywhere. Consequently, I am driving around North Hollywood with constant Gary Numan earworms.

Which distracts me. Which is good. It is when I drive, the time in transition, the time of needing something, food, get to my shelter, get to my work on time, while navigating and praying to not collide, not offend, not get lost, not to have to make 4 left turns or U-turns or navigate mazes again because I overshot, that I hear this one sentence in my head, clearly verbalized, in my own voice. "This move is just a colossal mistake."

'Colossal'. I settled on that word very early. I do drama well.

It is defeatist and untrue and stupid. I am on day 6. I cannot possibly make this evaluation yet. It is even an untrue one. It is just that getting around annoys me so, because where go from and I go to is just not right yet. My keycards don't work, so I hang outside doors at work waiting for someone to walk by and let me in. I have to validate my parking ticket every day until my parking card arrives. I lost a Bluetooth headset in a supermarket hours after getting it. That supermarket, close to work, is not a Whole Foods and the meat and processed foodlike substance mass-market products they sell scare the crap out of me, when all I want is a small tub of raspberries for my cereal. The corporate appartments are nowehere and more soullessly sterile than the suburbs of Truffaut's vision of Fahrenheit 451. I want to have my act all together now, but I can't.

But the work, god the work... I will have to fire constantly on all cylinders, but if I can get this down, oh if I can get this licked, if I can make my connections and learn how to speak and present in a way that connects, if I can throw my ties down in both my workplaces and navigate going between the business and experimental cultures, if I can get that act together, I will be closer to leaving my mark on a mass-market mobile computing experience than I have ever been, in a very meaningful way. If I can get the right idea, harness the right minds, pull it together, I could make mobile phones make the most overworked people's lives so much easier. Or cooler. I may be there. I may be in.

I work out to stay sane, but the two tiny gyms are identical in this complex, and have a smattering of the most basic, and not very effective, equipment. One or two machines for each bodypart, no freeweights, some random cardio. Instead of my 5 day split I am now doing an intense one-set-of-each circuit, every machine alternated with a minute on the starstepper, thus all-over-body, 3 times this week. Every workday I try to swim. I swim under the stars in one of the two heated pools. Three days ago I heard this bizarre laughing like sound whilke I was swimming, and got told it is the coyotes in the hills. I have no endurance, never have, I can barely do any extended swimming. I shouldn't do this schedule more than a two weeks.

There's something to it, though, swimming at 8 o'clock, under a semi-clear sky, watching stars.

I'm in. Both feet. We gotta make it work.
fj: (Default)

Sleaze Pose 3
"Sleaze Pose 3", Nokia 6680, Los Angeles County, 2006


Cleaning out the memory card, I came accross some shots I took during a night at a leatherbar. I made a photoset out of it. Technically crap, subject matter has been done to death, I have no idea why I am posting this.

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