9.27.2006

a night out

Last night Pat, Derek and I, along with Pat's friends, Jay and Stacey made the trek down to Boulder to see Band of Horses at the Fox Theater. Well, we four made the trek, Jay drove in from Denver all by his lonesome. After stopping at some furniture store with a 'We Are the World' theme and eating dinner at this really loud restaurant full of drunk frat guys (I was in the restroom and one of them decided to announce to everyone that he had just peed all over himself. The other two guys he was with commiserated and started reminiscing about all of the many times they had done that. Ok. Whatever. TMI, people. TMI.), we made it to the show.

They were good. I wasn't sad that I saw them live and all that, but it definitely wasn't the best show I've ever seen. The venue, however, was great. Small and cozy, with amazing acoustics. The only downside was what always happens at shows where everyone has to stand to watch the performance, Captain Bighead stood right in front of me. And then wouldn't stand still.

What made it all worth it was one of the opening acts. We missed the first guy, but the second guy, Chad Vangaalen was awesome. I'm equating his sound to Neutral Milk Hotel because right now I can't think of anyone else comparable. He played the drums, guitar and harmonica all at the same time. And sang somewhere in there too.

Somewhere toward the end of the night, I decided to go buy one of his CDs. You know. Spread the love a little. So we'll see if he holds up as well in the studio.

And my eyes feel gritty and scratchy and there isn't enough caffeine in the world to keep me awake today and if I could, I would pull a George Costanza and build a bed under my desk and take a little nap. It's times like these that I'm oh so very thankful that I have an easy desk job.

It sucks being old.

9.25.2006

weird things are afoot

I've grown almost afraid to leave the relative safety of my office at lunchtime and walk around downtown. For weird things seem to happen almost every time lately. The other day, I was just walkin' along with my sunglasses on, you know, sorta minding my own business when this lady passes by me going the opposite direction. She's fairly well dressed, but she has a weird apparatus on her arm. It looked kind of like one of those bowling braces that only the really serious bowlers wear. You know the ones. And she said, somewhat quietly, 'Do you have a dollar?' I didn't really answer because I wasn't sure that's what she said. It took me a couple of seconds. So as soon as I figured it out, I turned around and watched her, and as far as I could tell from the expressions on people's faces, she didn't ask anyone else she passed by.

Then today, I went into the convenience store that's about a block away from work to get a soda and the guy behind the register is placing bets on football games. With a bookie. Who's standing right there. Isn't that illegal? Aren't you supposed to surreptitiously do that kind of business on dirty pay phones in dirty alleys in whispered tones? Or in sticky booths in dark, smokey bars?

And then there were two guys in the convenience store's parking lot chopping up what looked like a downed telephone pole. With an axe. Where did they get the axe? And, probably more importantly, where did they get the telephone pole? They were wearing matching blue polos, so I'm thinking that was some kind of uniform. Either that, or they did it just to give the impression that they were some sort of officials. Officials at what I can only guess.

Either I'm going crazy or people are getting weirder. Or both.

9.24.2006

the palace rocks

Ann, Dylan and I headed back up to The Palace for another day of climbing.

Ann started us off on a 5.9, but couldn't make it past the crux, so Dylan led it and then I tried it on top rope. Uh. No. I couldn't get past the crux either, so Ann got back on and gave up after a few tries. Of course, we didn't want to wear ourselves out too soon so we didn't really push too hard either. Really.

Then we went through the valley so that Ann and I could attempt a lead on a 5.8. Ann got up to the crux, decided she couldn't make it on lead and came back down. I tried, got to the crux, freaked out and came back down. So Dylan saved us again. He led it successfully, I followed on toprope with a little bit of struggle and quite a few curse words and then Ann came up behind us. Oh, well. At least I got to try out my new helmet. Yes, Mom. I finally bought a helmet.

Then we moved over to a 5.10a which Dylan led fairly easily. I got on next and although I had to struggle to get over the crux, I finally made it. Ann finished up quite gracefully and elegantly and without any cussing. Dylan got on one more time because I guess he wasn't tired enough already and then we headed home in a state of euphoria and bliss.

It was a beautiful day. The sun was out but wasn't scorching and there was a pleasant breeze to keep us cool, but not too cold. It was also a successful climbing outing with no falls, minimum bloodshed and only a little bit of pain caused by the frigid temperature of the river we had to cross.

Maybe my struggles the previous week were really due to the funk. Sure. That's it.

After the week I just had, I really needed this.

9.20.2006

i'm still alive. barely.

I can't say that I've really survived the funk, but I was able to actually get out of bed this morning with only a minimum of moaning.

My head is still full of mucus and I've got a wicked Nyquil® hangover, but mostly I'm just really, really tired.

I am at work. I will do work type things today. I swear.

Secretly, I'll be amazed if I can remain sitting up all day without falling asleep at my desk. Don't tell my boss, and if I nod off please throw a stapler at my head.

9.18.2006

when the funk comes a knockin'

I woke up this morning to discover that the funk had taken up uninvited residence in my head. I guess my libidinous trip to Chicago has finally demanded payback.

I just got back from the grocery store where I purchased some Advil® Cold and Sinus medicine after having to promise my firstborn. Seriously, I had to show my driver's license and sign a form just to obtain cold medicine. The pharmacist explained it as some Homeland Security measure in order to crack down on crystal meth makers.

Now my name's in some database somewhere under 'Possible Drug Dealers.' Hopefully, the funk won't last very long, otherwise, I may get hauled off to jail.

Until that happens, I'm staying home from work and watching a lot of bad daytime television.

9.17.2006

it's that time of year

8:08a

My phone rings. It's Dylan. 'We're thinking nine,' he says. 'Ok. I'll see you at nine,' I reply.

If you look to the east, the sky is blue with only a few spots of clouds. As we discover when we leave the Holy Roller, if you look to the west, where we, of course, want to go, the sky looks grey and menacing.

We give up and head to the gym. It rains. We climb. Me somewhat horribly. Dylan and Ann much better.

I get home with enough daylight left over to be productive and industrious. Hence, I wash my bike and clean my house.

One Saturday done.

9.15.2006

defeated

Last night Dylan and I finally made it to The Palace, an area of climbing about 15 miles up the Poudre Canyon. We had been to The Crystal Wall, which is across the highway and the river from The Palace, but hadn't yet forded the river to try out its neighbor. Unbelievably, the only other people there were a trio of kids from Santa Cruz who were on a climbing vacation.

Although Dylan had a pretty good night, the rock kicked my ass. I'm pretty sure it was because it was much more vertical than I expected, causing me to freak out, overgrip and make too many mistakes. I kicked, struggled and spat at the damn thing, but only made it about two-thirds of the way up before my arms just gave out on me.

After Dylan finished his second route, we did a little exploratory trip through the mini-canyon and decided that it was definitely worth another trip back when we can spend more time on some of the other routes.

We drove home through the approaching nightfall in a state of bliss. Sometimes it's nice to get a little reminder of how amazing it is that I live in a place where I have the option of doing something like this after work on a weekday night.

9.11.2006

the longest day ever

It's gonna be extremely rough to have to work five whole days in a row. I swear a couple of years have gone by since I arrived here this morning.

9.10.2006

i'm exhausted

Yesterday Tina bought us all tickets to go see M. Ward at The Metro, this really great venue in Wrigleyville. The show was fantastic. He brought two percussionists along with him on tour. Two. Besides just listening to him sing, they were probably my favorite part of the show. They were perfectly in sync and I was just in awe at their performance.

The main show was pretty short, not even an hour long, and was vastly more rockin’ than any of us expected it to be. Much more so than his studio stuff. Then he did two encores that were unbelievably beautiful. A great show and a great venue. Four thumbs up.

We went outside to decide what the next stage of the night was going to entail and then, once we had a plan, I decided to go back inside to see if the t-shirt line had calmed down any. Ok. Here’s my one issue with the venue. I walked past four security guards, made it all the way to the door of the store, and this punk-ass teenage kid with every available inch of skin on her face pierced comes running up behind me, yelling for me to stop. I told her I just wanted to go into the store to get a shirt and she decided to be extremely snotty about telling me there was an entrance on the street. There were quite a few things I wanted to explain to her, but I managed to keep my cool and my mouth shut.

Anyway. I got a pretty sweet shirt and we walked down to the Nisei, what I believe is the only quiet bar in Wrigleyville, mostly because it was sans meatfaces. Curtis and Cristi were smart and left around 2a. Tina, Sam and I moved on to The Green Mill and closed it down at 4a. The Green Mill is this great bar that is kind of hard to describe. It's sort of Victorian on the inside. After a couple of hours of just talking about nothing really, we left Sam to find his own way home and Tina and I walked home gushing our love for each other and saying over and over what a great week we had and how much it sucked that we lived so far apart and how much we didn’t want me to leave so soon. Uh. Yeah. We were both really drunk. That’s what happens when we drink too much. It’s not pretty for anyone.

This morning, or I guess it was afternoon, Curtis, Tina and I had lunch at this Swedish diner in Andersonville. Earlier I had mentioned to Tina that I wanted to go see the Lincoln Memorial, so after breakfast we headed over there to see what we could see. I got the idea from reading Assassination Vacation.

I have to say that it was a pretty huge letdown. It’s just a statue. Standing next to the entrance to a Walgreen’s. I was under the impression that it was a little more elaborate than it is in reality. Credit Ms Vowell’s writing skills that she made it seem pretty cool in her book. Cool enough that I wanted to go check it out anyway.

On the way back we walked through Lincoln Square which reminded me of many small town downtowns across America and stopped for a bit to watch the Germanfest parade that was rolling its way down Lincoln Ave.

Then it was time for me to come home. It really was a fantastic trip. And I was sad to leave, but I’m happy to be home again. One week of debauchery: complete.

9.07.2006

check it yo

Day five: Curtis loaned me his bike yesterday so that I could take a ride along the Big Water.

Although my knees kinda hurt right now, the ride was amazing. I stayed mainly on the bike path that runs along the lakeshore, but even riding through the city really wasn't that big of a deal. I had to ride over to where Tina works to give her the extra keys to her friends' apartment because she's catsitting. And, really, it wasn't all that scary. The main thing I had to watch out for were the people pulling out from the parking spaces along the side of the streets, and I have to do that back home, just not as carefully.

Curtis loaned me his single speed so I couldn't necessarily go as fast as I wanted to, but I did pass some people. You know, a couple kids on their bikes with the training wheels still attached, a middle-aged lady taking a leisurely ride along the lake and an old, old shirtless man who was trying to ride and scratch his leg at the same time. I felt unbelievably cool every single time.

If I lived here, I would ride everywhere.

the foodgasm


Day Four: Tina decided to actually go to work today, so Cristi and I decided to visit the Lincoln Park Zoo. Ok. Let me just say that it's a fairly nice zoo; I mean, it's not the San Diego Zoo or anything (which I hear is spectacularly awesome, but I've never witnessed its spectacular awesomeness in person), but it's nice. What rachets it right up to unbelievably incredible is the fact that it's free. Yes. You heard me correctly. Free. Nothing in the city is free except, apparently, the zoo.

Cristi and I had agreed to meet at the Berwyn El stop at 11.5a, so I headed out for the first time on my own to make my way (fending off dinosaurs and poisonous snakes and some of those ladies who spray perfume on you in department stores the entire way) through Tina's mazelike neighborhood to the train. I made it. And felt absurdly proud of myself for not getting lost.

We had a very pleasant afternoon walking around the zoo. It's one of those miraculous places you find in big cities where, when you find your way there, you feel like maybe you're not actually in a big city. I think that the word I would use to describe it is quaint. And nice. And awesome because did I mention that it's free? Entirely.

***

Cristi invited us all to go to dinner at the place where she works as a pastry chef, so I brought clothes with me to change into once we arrived downtown. Then I started feeling uncomfortable about what I had to wear. I mean, the place she works is shee-shee. It's one of the few four-star restaurants in the city. And even though everyone kept telling me that I could just wear jeans and a t-shirt, I decided that the evening deserved more attention than that. So. I took a trip down to Michigan Avenue, quite possibly one of the scariest places on God's green Earth, to hit the Gap for, at the very least, a new shirt. By the time I got to the store, I had sweated through the t-shirt I was wearing, so I ended up buying a new one of those also. Here's what I forgot about: when you buy a new shirt that comes folded instead of hanging and don't wash it before wearing it, you end up walking around with a square outlined in folds from where it was wrapped around the cardboard on the front of your shirt. Who looks like an idiot rube from Hicksville that doesn't know how to dress himself? Yeah. That'd be me.

Ok. Enough about that. On to the meal. We ate for three and a half hours. Not only did we eat for a really long time, the food was the most amazing food I have ever put in my mouth. Ever. I know I'm prone to exaggeration, but I'm not exaggerating. I swear. Here's what they did for us: they didn't let us order off the menu, and we decided to eat family style, so they just gave us an assortment of dishes and let us all share them. Dear sweet baby Jesus. It was seriously one of those things that you only get to experience once in a million years, should you choose to be on the planet for that long. I can't even really describe it. And the service was unfuckingbelievable. I realize that they were taking pretty special care of us, since Cristi works there and her friend Christine (who works there also) was celebrating her birthday, but still. It was simply amazing. I imagine that it's how movie stars must dine.

Now that I've had a taste of the good life, the 99¢ soft-shell chicken taco at Taco Bell® just doesn't seem as mouthwatering as it used to.




9.06.2006

it's a sickness really

Day Three:

Tina called in sick yesterday so we slept in as our only task for the day was to go to Curtis and Cristi's and take their sweet, sweet dog, Jez, for a walk. We walked over and on the way had lunch at this great little cafe called Taste of Heaven. Tina warned me on the way over that it was owned by two extremely pissy gay men who were angry at the world and therefore, the service was terrible, but the food made it worth it. It was worth it. And, in all actuality, the service was just fine.

On the way back home we went to Borders® (God. I heart Borders. I like Barnes and Noble®, but I think that Borders just has a way better selection) because I needed some new reading material as I devoured Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close way sooner than I had expected to. Now I know what you're thinking: You went to Borders? There are probably thousands, literally thousands, of bookstores in Chicago and you chose Borders? What can I say? I have a sick fascination with chain things. There's no question about what you are going to find there. You know. Before you even step foot in the establishment. It's comforting, really. Anyway, once we were done with Borders we did stop at this other little, used bookstore that ended up being great and I would've bought several things (Someone had actually sold back their entire collection of John Steinbeck short stories—can you believe it? I can't.), but as I have to lug everything back to Fort Collins and I had already purchased way too many things at Borders, I stopped myself from being a complete and total nutbag.

Living in the city has to be kinda difficult. We stopped at the grocery store since it was on the route back home and bought way too many heavy things. My arms were ready to fall off by the time we finally got back to Tina's.

We spent our evening iPod-ing it up. I have so much new music now it's sort of making my head spin. I could maybe throw up a little. I'm excited.

Tina was responsible today and went to work, so Cristi (who has the day off) and I are going to the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Right now, I'm sitting here reading Chuck Klosterman's Killing Yourself to Live. I think I might be in love with him. Seriously.

9.05.2006

there's a building being built


Day Two: Tina is really in love with the Chicago Archicenter's boat tour of Chicago, so every time someone comes to visit she gets all giddy and excited about being able to take it again. Yesterday was her fourth time. Even though we had a not so good docent yesterday, I can still see why she enjoys it. It's a unique way to see downtown, and I bet if you have a knowledgable travel guide you learn quite a bit about the architecture. Fortunately, we had Tina along with so she could fill in the gaps the docent left behind. Just to give you an idea of how bad she actually was: she said several times, 'There's a building being built.' I've decided that that will be my expression whenever I can't communicate clearly. And there were many, many, way too many places where she was completely silent. Seriously though, in spite of her lack of knowledge and communication skills it was still a great way to spend an evening, and really, an awesome view of one of the prettiest cities in the world. My favorite buildings in Chicago will always be the Marina Towers. To me, they're just so Chicago. Unique and weird and beautiful.

We had dinner at this little Italian joint downtown and then rode the El back home with this group of super-stoned obnoxious teenagers. We decided to get off and have a drink at The Green Mill, supposedly the place where the Poetry Slam was born, but there was a steep cover for a band we really weren't going to stay and see, so we went to The Uptown instead.

Tina and Curtis speak sort of guiltily about how often they go out and have drinks in this town, but, really there's no better way to just hang out and talk and in a city like this, there are so many great bars to spend your time in; how can you not want to try them all out?


9.04.2006

extremely loud and incredibly close


I just finished what I think could probably (I hesitate to say it) be the best book I've ever read. It was like crack. I couldn't put it down.

It's the first (I think) fictional story about 9/11 and it's told from the point of view of a kid who's dad dies in the World Trade Center. Jonathan Safran Foer has an incredibly unique view of the world and it is showcased in full force in this poignant, funny, terrible, sad, heartbreaking story of a kid who loved his dad more than anyone else in the world and goes on a quest in order to discover for himself why he had to die. It's a story about getting over our fears, learning how to trust others, doing right by people and the perils and neccesity of never letting go. It's also a story about how the past keeps repeating itself and how we never learn the lessons it's trying to teach us even though events keep having the same effect on our lives.

Much like Everything is Illuminated, this book is really two stories in one, of the past intertwining with the present and affecting the future. Foer's characters are always oddballs and misfits who have an interesting take on life. It's beautiful and ugly and showcases humans in all of their glory and misfortune. We're none of us perfect and sometimes we have to do what's right for ourselves even though it hurts someone we care about. As Foer writes, 'sometimes you have to do something bad in order to do something good.'

I say this a lot, but this time I mean it. It's a must-read.

a museum, a bean and a train ride


Day One: Tina and I met Curtis down at The Field Museum because we felt the need to do something museum-y, but refused to step foot in the Shedd and neither one of them had ever been to The Field. When we arrived, we discovered (or at least, I discovered, they may have already known) that there was a King Tut exhibit there. So, we got in line. A line that was slow moving and full of rude people, who seemed like they were mostly tourists. Why are the tourists always the rude ones? It's hardly ever the residents. We spent the time in line debating whether we should just see the museum, the King Tut exhibit or both. We finally arrived at the decision to see the King Tut, only to learn that it was already sold out. So. Decision made. We saw the rest of the museum. I learned two things that I didn't already know, but have since forgotten exactly what they were. Oh. One was that there is an actual plant called the Panama Hat. And the other had something to do with dinosaurs. I really can't remember. The triceratops was really cool as was the South American Giant Sloth. It was HUGE. Bigger than a grizzly bear.

Curtis had to go back home and meet Cristi, so Tina and I walked down Michigan Ave., had a snack at a place where you had to pay before you got your food and visited Millenium Park where I took a ton of pictures of The Bean. Tina gave me a tour of the Loop from the vantage point of the El and then we headed over to C and C's for a delicious burger and even more delicious dessert. I'm really surprised that Curtis doesn't weigh 2,000 pounds being married to a pastry chef. We played with Jez, Curtis' dog and talked. A lot. Oh. And we had some beers. I know it's shocking, but it's true.





I wish my friends were closer, but I am happy that they are happy in Chicago.

9.03.2006

i'm not drunk at all

I made it safely to the Windy City. No fiery explosions. No painful, non-watery deaths. Tina seems weirdly proud of me that I was able to navigate the train system all by myself to get from the airport to her apartment. I’m not sure if it’s because she thinks I’m mildly retarded and she’s surprised that I was able to accomplish this monumental feat, or if she just thinks it’s hard in general and us rubes from the country should find it difficult to take public transportation.

Anyway. I arrived safely at her doorstep and then we met Curtis for dinner and beers outside at Moody’s. The nice thing about living a mile above sea level and then coming back down to closer-to-sea-level is that you can drink a ton of beer and not get drunk. Or maybe that's not such a nice thing. It will come in handy this week though.

exorcisms for everyone

Ann and Dylan arrived promptly (five minutes early) at 7.10 to chauffer me to the airport. I had decided that I needed to arrive the full two hours before my flight left because of all the new security restrictions. And what with it being LD weekend and all, I figured it would take a gazillion years to get through the cattle chute. Uh. Yeah. It took five minutes.

I don’t really know why, but for the past few years flying has started freaking me out. I didn’t used to think about it and then slowly over time, it’s started freaking me out more and more. It’s normal now for me to think, the moment I sit down in my seat, ‘Ok. This is the day I die. It will be horrible and fiery and painful, but it is going to happen.’ Today, I added this, ‘And there’re no large bodies of water between Denver and Chicago so it’s going to be extremely painful.’

Nice, huh?

Every bump and weird noise makes me nervous and the longer it takes to get off the runway, the more sure I am that something is going to go horribly awry and the plane will explode halfway between here and there.

Then, once the plane is off the ground, I’m fine.

*

There’s a father and son sitting next to me. The kid is by the window with the father in between. When I first sit down, I swear the kid is speaking in tounges; either that or I have suddenly lost my ability to comprehend English. I can’t understand a word that is coming out of his mouth. I’m sure it’s just some foreign language that I am unfamiliar with, but at any minute, I still expect his head to start spinning around and green foam to start spewing out of his mouth.

I think they’re Russian.

9.01.2006

bon voyage

Well. I'm off to the Windy City for a week of relaxing, sightseeing and, apparently, pedaling my ass all over creation.

Therefore the blogging will be intermittent at best as I will be drunk a lot. Who knows? That could be entertaining for all of us.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this:













See the teensy-tiny little bruise between my heel and my ankle? That's all I got from Wednesday's fiasco. That and a barely noticeable limp. See Mom? Nothing to worry about.

Have good weeks everyone. Pray for my safety.