fj: (USA)
Been a week since I got on a plane for a quick jaunt to DC.

I was too late to get the super special Premium Economy deal upgrade anymore. I realized I could have put it on the US AmEx card and used my travel points to get it for free. Instead I upgraded to emergency exit for £50. So worth it. Stretched out and everything. Good food, not as good video entertainment, though. Screens were washed out, channels were off.

Which means I sat across from cabin crew during take-off and landing. The one on the way to looked like a blond Victoria Beckham, prompting me to wonder what she would have been as a Virgin Atlantic stewardess. I asked her if the little water landing two days ago in New York unnerved her. Her first reaction made her so-far blank face light up and she said something along Heck no, I wish something would happen. Then she caught herself and said no, this didn't faze anyone at all. I confirmed she had actually done a live water evac during training.

I had to get used to people speaking to me again in the US. Super Shuttle personnel guiding us so that we would be inside and not stand in the cold while the van came, hotel staff showing interest, waiters introducing themselves and bantering, and just people in general ready to talk. I walked up to people and they did not have to adapt.

DC was hopeful and alive and I was so right to not do 2008 in the USA. I mean, when I entered Whole Foods and saw Obama's face on cheesecakes I was like um, euw, a whole year of that kind of national banter just through my flist was bad enough.

The disastrous and mean result in California overshadowed the news of the election for me, so it was like I was catching up with how it was. I was so giddy to hear that the night of November 4th blocks had to be cordonned off in DC for celebrations, that people on Penn Ave were chanting "Pack. Your. Bags! Pack. Your. Bags!"

I was doing a test here to see if I could fulfill the primary goal of being in Europe, seeing my family, while living on the East Coast. How bad would it be to dip into NL four times a year or so over a weekend if I lived in NYC? Then I remembered I already did this in 2001 when my mother was dying, and this last week reminds me I have not gotten any better at handling that jetlag.

"So where's home for you now?" asks the acquaintance on my right during dinner. My friends accross from me kinda sigh and grimace, they know how I am.
I waffle, I um, I hesitate. Finally I say: "The other side of this table."

When I went back, I upgraded again. For nothing, because the plane Monday night was practically empty. Everyone could get a middle row to stretch out in. I asked for any leftover desserts, after dinner service was over the nice lady brought me two.
fj: (Default)
I didn't want to blog because there is so much to say, and now i am ready to say it i am here in a cafe with just my phone to type with.

Short, then. Every minute in LA was a blast. My friends and the things we do are such fun. Gossiping in gyms, moonlight parties in altadena, rescuing happy drunks, watchine trash TV, hanging, beaching at the Geffen's, everything. The Loft is still so beautiful to me leaving it broke nw heart. I love DTLA.

I am completely torn now. And San Fran will not sort me out, but that is not what this city is for, anyway.

My apologies to everyone i did not get around to seeing in LA.
fj: (travel)
I feel I should make a "Where's Larry" link like [ 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.
fj: (travel)
It happened every time I drove on Sunset Boulevard. Not Hollywood Boulevard, not the squares, because those look in reality so tacky and run down compared to what you see on TV. Not in West Hollywood, because you don't see that Starbucks across from the 24 Hour Fitness much in popular consciousness either. Not just a palm tree in North Hollywood, or anything in the Valley, because I had never, and still haven't, seen Valley Girl. It happened on Sunset, when I tuned on to it from the 101. Every time. At night.

The shape of the tall palm trees and how they related to towering billboards, the chasing neon signs, the architecture I had seen a thousand times over my life from establishing shots, the shape of this wide road, Donna Summer's "Sunset People" starting to play in my head, and my brain goes "Holy shit, you live in Los Angeles". This is an amazing feeling for a middling Euro boy.

It's not going home. It's like stepping into the UFO you have heard about all your life. One of the values that are important to me Helen helped me tease out was that I want a certain level of glamor, of interestingness in where I live and what I do (although we should get in touch again to nail it down better what that means). And living in Los Angeles, yeah, even with its challenges, really had that for me, being from far and having grown up Gen X TV, in a way that Boston never did. Fuck hell yeah, I was there now. Sunset Blvd. Every time. It made me constantly miss the supermarket I should have been looking out for to turn into Poinsettia.

I get it now in London too, in spades. It's not The River. It's not any bridge, or Regent street, or Carnaby or Seven Dials or Soho, although I like going to all those places. For some reason it happens now every Thursday or Friday, after having stepped out of the Heathrow Express train from Heathrow to Paddington Station, having walked off the platform into the station, my back straight, backpack pulling my shoulders back, walking briskly after all the sitting, going down into the tube station to take the Bakerloo line to Lambeth North. I take my wallet, where I have just put my Oyster card and Tesco Clubcard and British Pounds back in from the compartment I keep them in my backpack in when I am in Germany, out of my pocket and without changing my stride, slap that wallet on the round yellow reader so the RFID chip in the Oyster card can be read and the gates can swing open and I can go home. Because home is in London, you see. I live in London now. Holy shit fuck yeah.
fj: (Default)
In October, going back to LA after being in NL, I was wandering around the tax free shopping at Heathrow, killing some time between planes, until I glance at the information screen to see that my flight was not just boarding already, but now closing. I had lost track of time, I thought, and had to run as fast as I could, with a heavy carry-on, clear accross I do not know how many gates. It felt like miles, and I am not built for running and do not have that stamina. It was awful, and when I arrived it took 30 minutes for my heart to start not beating in my throat and my body not to feel as if it was about to fall apart. This, btw, was all before we boarded, it seems that at HWR 'now closing' means 'sit in the seats at the gate for another 30 minutes before first class is even allowed in'. But I did decide it was time for a watch again.

I stopped wearing watches. My wrists sweat a lot so they were always uncomfortable, and just another object I could lose, and cheap watches just looked cheap, especially on a belt loop where cheap plastic watches always ended up instead of on my wrist. But now I am super adult these days, I do not lose as much because I demand of myself I put stuff back in logical places, and I know what my style is. So Friday when Dean IMed me what my tax refund was, I did not go to NYC, but I did go shopping, and bought some upscale fashion watches. Two, different brands. No need to go bland and neutral if you have a diverse collection to match with what you are wearing today. I was very happy with both choices, and was accustoming myself to wearing watches again, thinking about having a fun collection to choose from every day. Today when I pulled the bag out of my locker at the gym after a work-out, the watch I had put on top of the bag sine it had been the last thing to come off, my new watch that was thick, square, with a chunky red glass face, fell out too. Face down. On the concrete floor.

I threw it away immediately so as to not have to look at what I broke anymore, and tried to remember my mantra of It's Just Stuff. I have spent a childhood being clumsy and breaking things and getting all kinds of parental shit for it to the point that all I could ever do was lie about whether I had broken something, and as an adult I have decided I would never make anyone feel bad, including myself, about breaking stuff. It's Just Stuff. But I have been kinda sad about it all day. I could have bought the same one today when I was out, but maybe I shouldn't have nice things like that because I only break them. I guess I will wear the other watch only on special occasions then.

Also, in making a snack to carry to the gym post-workout today, a process that involves mixing dried dates and protein powder into a dough, I got the proportions wrong which made the 'dough' so tough I looked up and saw smoke come out of the back of my food processor. That was disconcerting. I like this food processor. I never thought I'd make a food processor release smoke out of its ears like as in a cartoon.
fj: (talking)
I will not use my tax refund to do a hit-and-run on NYC for the Black Party this weekend. I will not use my tax refund to do a hit-and-run on NYC for the Black Party this weekend. I will not use my tax refund to do a hit-and-run on NYC for the Black Party this weekend. I will not use my tax refund to do a hit-and-run on NYC for the Black Party this weekend. I will not use my tax refund to do a hit-and-run on NYC for the Black Party this weekend. I will not use my tax refund to do a hit-and-run on NYC for the Black Party this weekend...

I will go buy some pants, though.
fj: (travel)
Back from a lovely weekend in DC. It only got really cold on Sunday, but we didn't all venture out much. It was great to see so many friends in one place before I leave. I wish I could have seen more, but as said, it was already packed. Losing a night with a red-eye, being awake routinely until 4AM, it just makes you want to stay in the lobby, see everybody there, and maybe go out to eat. But my friends were there, every time I needed them.

I flew back to LAX Monday night, and went to Enterprise where I had reserved a car for this week, since I sold mine. The lady at the counter takes me to the garage and points at two Dodge monstrosities and a PT Cruiser.
-- "I thought I had ordered a compact? Economy?"
I realized she thought she was doing me a favor by upgrading me by the tone of her doubt when she said "Well, we have a Chevy Aveo I guess..."
Just then one drove into the garage. --"Yeah that," I say, "that's what I was thinking."
"What do you usually drive?"
--"I used to own a Scion xA."
"Really? I have a tC! I love it!" We started talking about our irrational love for our Scions, the Knotsberry farm Scion days, how I found out they keep their value, the latest models being not as charming, etc. Then she totally got why I was so reluctant with the big cars.
-- "Honey, I just can't park those things."
fj: (travel)
Instead of doing my first Christmas alone in a place where I would only be thinking about Christmas last year, I accepted an awards ticket and flew up to Seattle to stay at [ profile] qnetter and Mr. [ profile] qnetter's place, together with two bouncy dogs and two very beautiful cats.

About the planes, let's just say flying still sucks but I am learning to manage it better, except when I do not. The taxi from The Loft to the Union Station shuttlebus to LAX took forever, so I made an executive decision that I would not wait for it but drive myself to LAX and park in the long-term parking. Turned out to be a questionable decision since on the morning of the 24th of December, 5 long-term parking-lots, including the LAX one itself, were all full. One hour before my fligth was scheduled to take off I was driving frantic circles along Century Blvd and LA Cienaga, always turning in front of The Westin to manage going up and down these streets, thinking I would have to cancel everything, until in desperation during one of those turns, wondering where to go next witjout having a clue, I decided I would not throw away someone else's ticket and just park at The Westin itself and eat the hundreds of dollars in hourly fees. I drive into the covered garage to see the rates, resigning myself. "Park & Fly, $15,-, 3 nights minimum". Um, what? A price slightly above average for the other lots? The security line took half an hour to clear, but I made it on to the plane. I am getting tired of running through airports, though. On the way back, The [ profile] qnetter's dropped me off so of course I had plenty of time. They don't get lost in snags like I do.

Mr. [ profile] qnetter, LOMLFOML, comes from a long line of Indiana State Fair Baking Contest Blue Ribbon winners, so I asked for some baking. I ended up decorating cookies with him on Christmas Eve after he had come back from playing music at the services at his church. Now that's Christmas romance. As far as the more carbs went, on Christmas morning we were dicking around in the kitchen over what we could eat as breakfast, when LOMLFOML suddenly looked all dejected. He had turned on the oven to preheat it for baking the dinner and cinnamon rolls, but he had absentmindedly left the huge metal mixing bowl full of risen dough in the oven, so it had started baking. In the bowl. Before its final kneading. At too low a temperature. In the wrong shape.

He and [ profile] qnetter were looking at the bowl he had put on the counter, talking about how there was no time to make new dough and what to do, and what not and... I am standing there seeing a bowl of something edible, so, of course, I pick at it. I get a chunk of crust with baked dough inside. I eat it. I interrupt them: "This is delicous!" I grab more chunks. And more. [ profile] qnetter starts giggling. "No, shut up, really, this is delicious. Try it! You need to try to bake it. Maybe we can then tear it to cinnamon chunks or something." Mr. [ profile] qnetter ia not convinced but decides to give it a shot, after I finally let the bowl go. [ profile] qnetter and I go into the den to watch "Dick Tracy" on the new flat screen in HD. Twenty minutes later Mr [ profile] qnetter brings this mountaneous dome of baked dough on a wooden board in. "It won't cook in the middle. It is all gooey. We can't save this." The outside of the dome, however, is all crust from being baked against the metal of the bowl. I start picking. It is crunchy crust with moist baked carbolicious bread dough inside, still warm, steaming, fresh, fresh, fresh out of the oven. "I need butter, stat," is my answer to that defeat. The three of us eat chunks of bread, not an unrefined carb in sight, with molten butter and cinnamon-sugar dip. I think I had more 'bread' in that sitting than I have had in two years here in LA. Put together. [ profile] jeffla and [ profile] likethecandybar would have staged an intervention for me had they witnessed this. Or joined in. I'd have let them, without being territorial over the delicious carbs as I usually am: I think I ate an amount the size of my head of this baking, and it barely made a dent.

Then we went to [ profile] badfaggot where [ profile] philhasablog had brought a cake. And of course we had the cookies I helped with. And stew. But with cake. I think for the rest of the trip I managed to eat like, two fries or something, and it didn't exactly feel like deprivation.

The whole trip was just lovely, even if it did confront me that after twenty months in LA I have been completely wuzzified: everyone's outside in sweaters and light coats and I am walking around in an Eddie Bauer coat-shaped duvet with gloves and scarves and still freezing. I slept with socks on. This from a Dutchman by way of Boston. The shame. Rain didn't bother me at all, though. I walked a lot, I shopped for furniture, I had a design consult with [ profile] susandennis who truly knows how to find the essentials in life, I had a slumber party with [ profile] badfaggot talking about everything, I went to the Gold's on Capitol Hill, I walked from there to downtown to spend an afternoon with a friend, I got covered in fox-terrier licks every time I got home. I regret having been unable to make it to The Cuff to meet [ profile] badrobot68 and [ profile] alexjon, but it just did not work out. Besides that, my Christmas gifts not arriving (we need to start a tracking) and getting mail The Loft had flooded because of some carelesness upstairs, I had a wonderful trip.
fj: (Default)

White After All
"White After All", Nokia N73, Seattle, 2007

fj: (Default)
Back in LA. Just clearing old picture out now that wireless data is unlimited again.
fj: (Default)

Fluffy Dutch Cloud
"Fluffy Dutch Cloud", Nokia N73, Schiphol, 2007

fj: (Default)

Goodmorning, Goodbye
"Goodmorning, Goodbye", Nokia N73, Greater London, 2007

fj: (Default)
Unfortunately I am no longer on a global corporate mobile account, so I am paying $0.015 per kb. Uploading 3Mb pictures is not a good idea, nor is YouTubing in the train.
fj: (travel)
I made it out with all travel documentation. Now I spend two hours in Dulles before the final leg.

I should blog about having dinner high on a hill in Malibu at night, a few nights ago, and a job interview I had that turned more into an initial consulting round. But my brain is not working: I tried to enter a previous mobile phone number into the T-Mobile WiFi account connection page 7 times, getting increasingly pissed the password wasn't working, before I realized that maybe I actually want to enter the current one.
fj: (Default)
Flight cancelled due to mechanical. Next flight to AMS at 8 AM. So be at airport at 6, leave home at 5... Should i go sleep at all, or jolt myself into a time change? Now awaiting SuperShuttle to the loft.
fj: (travel)
All is fine. Wallet delivered. Waiting for delayed plane.

Edit: I see my voice post never made it, so this means squat to all of you. My wallet dropped out of my pocket on the shuttlebus to LAX. After the panic subsided, I was ready to fly pennyless with my printed boarding pass and passport to London and see if they could print my boarding pass to Amsterdam based on my last name alone, because I would not miss my father's 75th birthday he has been planning for months. And oh, on the way back, enter as a tourist and then apply for a replacement greencard, because that is in my wallet, breaking I do not know how many Immigration rules.

The United ground crew were completely unhelpful, but another FlyAway bus stopped and gave me the number for the dispatcher. He radioed the bus I was on, but that driver did not find my wallet when she pulled over on the highway. When the bus arrived to the depot, the dispatcher did find it, and drove the wallet up from the depot in Long Beach back to LAX to hand it to me. I was never so glad to, when he said he would arrive in a Gold Cadilla, to see one of those enormous gas-guzzling airplane-arrier-sized 80s Caddies in gleaming gold in my life.

Now that he brought it to me ten minutes before the gate would normally close, we are all waiting for a part to be flown in from San Francisco to put in engine nr2. We will be delayed two hours -- oh well, I guess I will get the next flight to Amsterdam in London. I wonder if they can re-book me over the phone right now.
fj: (travel)
The drive went pretty well, except for the part where I missed a junction where the 5 splits off from the 99 and I found myself on the 99. A call to [ profile] pinkfish later to confirm and I had a new route: I needed to take a road, 460 or something, from the 99 back to the 5. This is how I saw even more of Central California than just the development along the highway, and realized it was even worse than I thought. It added about 30 miles to my drive, but I think I made it in 6 hours and change or so.

Oliver mewed very softly during the first hour, then slept. Twinkie was wide awake every time I looked in her cage, but silent. She did throw up early on, before we had even left LA county, but fortunately I had packed paper towels up front. I pulled off on the first exit, pulled over on a parking lot, and cleaned her cage up. That was about all the trouble I had from them. Pretty much model behavior.

Weather was sunny. Not much traffic until I hit exits for Lawrence Livermore labs. Oakland was navigable thanks to Google maps. Then we drove to the airport to drop off the car and took a cab back. The rest of the weekend I got around by foot, cab, public transport, or being driven around by a friend.
fj: (Default)
Initial reports are that Oliver is both enjoying the new vistas and heights to explore, and exhibiting adjustment problems -- his 'burying' of food is getting really bad. We're hoping very strict routine, lots of playing at set times, and lots of love and petting will calm him down. He likes the top of the fridge, though. And I presume Twinkie just took over the bed and told everyone else to fuck off and continues to live her life as usual. But yes, the cats have been delivered to Oakland.

I wish the comedown from this weekend was not quite so hard as it is right this second. I was in SF all weekend after the delivery, and going to fairs and parties, seeing old friends for brunches, having new adventures entries will be written about soon. I stayed with [ profile] baybryj -- Bill Shatner's supercomputer did not come through with a cheap hotel for me -- which meant I always came home to a sympathetic and interested ear to decompress to. Right now I am reading everybody's entries of how they met up at the street fair Sunday, and I get all insecure about feeling left out, while the actual lesson is, of course, that I should announce my movements better, make dates before I arrive instead of trying to leave everything open, and create my own ways to meet up with people on my friends list (like proclaiming an LJ corner of the fair in advance and being there to greet, or something).

Still, the constant mixture of fun and friends and beautiful weather in meticulous neighborhoods is making it very difficult right now to focus rationally on lessons for the future, instead of feeling lost opportunities and how empty the loft and the streets are around me.

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