Time’s Ticking

Reading: The Lost Girls (I am frantically trying to complete this 540pg book on top of seeing everyone before I leave, packing, cleaning, studying, and having a life. It’s about three late twenty year olds from NY who travel for a year. Which is exactly what I should be reading before I put on the tight shackles of work-life…)

Listening to: Bob Sinclair – Love Generation (makes me feel like the world is pretty carefree)

Whenever someone wished me happy birthday today yesterday two days ago, my first reaction would be “wtf it’s not my birthday. It’s like the first week of September.” Then I would realize with some horror that, no, it’s not the beginning of September. It’s the end of September and in two days I will be really, truly, not temporarily, but indefinitely and most likely forever, moving out of my childhood home and into adult life.

Ever since I returned from the coastline of California, I’ve had a jam packed two weeks of going out with friends, which was super awesome but perhaps not the greatest for my AUD score or my room that needs to be cleaned out then cleaned. My first attempt to pack resulted in: packing most of my clothes (including the clothes I need to wear this week, whoops) and essentially dragging my boxes of DVDs from my room to my brother’s room, which is temporarily the shipping point between my room and Santa Clara. BTW, I am going to be living in Santa Clara, which is just west of San Jose. That’s 13 minutes from my office, 14 minutes from Laura’s, 56 minutes from Soo Jin’s, 56 minutes from Berkeley, and 6 hours and 4 minutes from Arcadia.

Because I’ve been going out so often, I haven’t had the usual “OMFG I’m not doing anything in Arcadia, time has stopped and I need to GET OUT OF HERE.” Instead, I find myself really not wanting to leave for the first time. Which explains why I pushed my departure day until Friday! There’s just TOO MUCH I want to do, not nearly enough time to accomplish it all. I’m afraid that I will have so many loose ends that I’m going to leave SoCal feeling incomplete. I want to somehow be able to see everyone once, then maybe five times again, but no time!

To all my friends who took the time to see me on my birthday weekend then again on my actual birthday, and to the friends who weren’t here and called me or facebooked me, thank you! For the first time in my life, I am really really sad to leave Arcadia. I’m not the greatest at keeping in close contact with friends in different cities, but I’m really going to try. I am sort of in disbelief that I have friends who take the time out of their lives to see me or check up on me. I don’t know why I’ve been able to meet and keep such good friends but I’m not going to ponder too hard.


Birthday wishes

Listening to: N.A.S.A ft. Kanye West, Santogold and Lykke Li – Gifted (I listened to C89.5 for most of Saturday, and the music was so good I could not understand how a radio station could be so awesome)

Yesterday I wrote a draft entry listing the ideas I wish I had followed through with for my “birthday weekend.” Looking at it now, I feel like I wouldn’t have wanted to change a single thing about the past two days. Thanks to the TMVers who were in Arcadia and came out and didn’t challenge my ridiculous suggestions. D.U.I, watching Easy A, presenting slideshows on our travels … today was such a fantastic day, it’s one of those nights where I’m dead exhausted but I don’t want to go to bed because that would mean the day would come to an end.

SATURDAY. Lots of people had dinner obligations, and our event for the day was Glo, which happened to end at 3am. So it ended up  benefiting us to leave Arcadia really late. Henry and Regina came over to my house to kill time, then we decided to go to Half and Half! I am one of those people who generally hates paying $4 for some drink, but the almond milk black tea there is SOOOO good. I am obsessed with that place. Then we had to consolidate cars by driving to Eric’s, and FINALLY set off for Santa Monica at like, 11pm? Stopped at a 7-11 to brown bag drinks, which I think helped soften our disappointment in Glo significantly.

Santa Monica Boardwalk at 2am

We passed TWO major car accidents on the freeway. If I remember correctly, the second accident involved three cars, one of which had flipped over. A group of people our age dressed in clubbing wear was standing off to the side, which kind of unnerved me. I have a lot of faith, maybe too much, in all of my friends’ driving abilities. But sometimes you just never know what could happen. Anyway, we finally got to Santa Monica, which felt much farther away than I remembered. The event is supposed to be like a light art exhibit scattered around Santa Monica. The first exhibit we passed and didn’t even realize it was an exhibit. That’s how underwhelming much of it was. The highlight was an African dance circle on the beach, and just being able to sit on the beach after typical closing time. Streets were closed down, tons of people (mainly hipsters) were walking around. It was probably a disappointment to most people (in Owen’s words, “coming here made me SAD. Like, I LIVE here?!?! LA created an event like this?!”) but I am pleased as punch whenever I’m at an event that subverts normal traffic laws. If I can freely walk in the middle of a street at night, I will call it a fantastic day.

African dance circle on beach, complete with DJ

I think we left around 3:30am and hunger struck so we went to our new fallback restaurant, CANTER’S DELI. I cannot believe we have gone there three times since I returned from Seattle. None of us had ever eaten there before this month, and suddenly it’s become our regular hangout place. I just wish the prices weren’t 2x what they should be. We DID see BJ Novak though, a writer/actor on The Office. I recognized him when he first stepped out of the car but I was waiting to see if Mindy Kalling (Kelly) would step out, to confirm my thoughts. The girl that stepped out was NOT Mindy Kaling, but it was still definitely BJ Novak. Regina got a pic with him.

Also lots of food carts at the event. So LA

Finally returned home around 4:20am and knocked out. We didn’t do much that day, but we DID do a LOT at night. So, Saturday, awesome!

SUNDAY. I woke up after five hours of sleep and then left to watch Easy A with Frances C at noon! No one else was able to make it, but I ended up being appreciative of that because Easy A was TERRIBLE. I have been telling people it’s the next Mean Girls but it is NO Mean Girls. Disappointment. We decided to moviehop to The Town, which I really enjoyed but Frances thought was too formulaic for a bank robbery film. My measure of a great movie is that I don’t fall asleep in it, and I was FULLY AWAKE O_O so I thought it was awesome. I like all the men in that movie, Jon Hamm, BEN AFFLECK, Jeremy Renner. I have only once ever moviehopped back in middle school (unsuccessfully too – we were too obnoxiously loud when we entered and got caught) so for a long time I was paranoid someone would kick us out. But then I got wrapped up in the movie and no one came so all is good!

It was a strangely clear day in LA despite the 100 heat

It was bizarre to step out of the theater and realize it was 5pm. The entire day had gone by. We decided to do our AWESOME SLIDESHOW PRESENTATIONS at Frances C’s house, which is where everyone met up! So this was an idea born out of a joke. We were saying how difficult it would be for Eric to share his stories of Japan, when I said as a joke that everyone should get together and present a slideshow of pictures from our travels. Then I thought about it and realized it was actually a very good idea. Luckily, my birthday weekend is now, so everyone had to do it! But it turned out AWESOME I think everyone will agree…

"Who wants to go first? I want to go last. NO WAIT what if Eric shows me up?! I want to be in the middle!" Just like AP English

Eric only went through Japan before we got hungry and decided to get a DUI at Flames. Which I haven’t had since high school and don’t think I will ever have again. I guess I’ve started to regress: we went from eating Jim’s to Soupie to sushi, and then we thought the next step would be a classier restaurant. Nope. Back to fast food. Anyway, after eating, back to Frances C’s! I presented next … and went through my stay in San Diego and the roadtrip. I didn’t have time to sort through my Seattle pics, but I figure most of them are like “here’s a view of Seattle … and then here’s another view of Seattle from another park! And another park!”

We're too old for this. Chili cheese fries with carne asada and pastrami

Apparently all of our story telling styles are different. Eric is very informative and he’ll know a lot about the history of the place. Owen was the first to fall asleep. HAHA I don’t know what mine was like, but when I said I would stop after Philadelphia and let someone else speak, everyone was like “WHAT NO KEEP GOING!” which was a nice compliment! I would think that most of my storytelling was “AND THEN we ate here it was SOOOO GOOD you HAVE to eat it.” If you’ve ever traveled with me, you’ve probably noticed that I don’t care to learn anything, I just like visually absorbing, taking pictures, and listening to my ipod, so I wasn’t able to give them any good information. It’d be like “here is Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. I have no knowledge of any of this, I think it was formed from water dripping?”

Then DESSERT BREAK! SOOOO awesome I was completely unexpecting it. They were like “ok dessert time!” and I was like “where are we going?” and it turned out that Henry had gone out earlier and bought TWO half gallons of Fosselman’s (espresso and toasted almond) AND a boston cream pie!!! I am really touched 🙂 After eating the DUI I had been like “dessert time!”  and I guess people had been spreading the fact that Henry had already bought dessert, so everyone was like “no … I don’t really want dessert” so I was like “oh ok then never mind.” But Owen had forgotten or didn’t hear so he was like “hey! Aren’t we going to get ice cream? Let’s go to Baskin Robbins!” and people were looking at him like “NO. Owen.” At the time I had thought to myself “AWWW Owen knows I like ice cream! How nice of him” but now I realize that EVERYONE knows I love ice cream!

Anyway, dessert, awesome. Then, back to the living room for Connie Y’s presentation of her study abroad in London! She was very reluctant to go but I think after a while she got into it. The beginning of her presentation was like “oh I went here. It sucks. Don’t go here. Don’t go here. This isn’t interesting. This is that famous thing. I don’t know what this is. OH this is Burberry! (goes through ten pictures of her in burberry scarves) OH this is LV…” The best was a picture of a sad WW2 museum immediately followed by a picture of her yawning at an exhibit. Afterwards, she ended up finding some folders of REALLY old TMV pictures, like from four or five years ago. WE LOOKED SOOOOO YOUNG. It was crazy. So we spent quite a while admiring our young selves. Things have changed sooo much. And in some ways, not as much.

Another bathroom break, then Frances C went through her Honduras, Dominican Republic, and China World Expo pictures. Awesome! They have been telling me stories of the World Expo but I could never envision what the heck they were talking about. Now I can! The hit of the night was watching Frances C’s video of the craziness of lining up at the World Expo and running to get to the front of the line, with police officers holding hands to prevent people from breaking through. Needs to be youtubed!

It was now 2:20am so we left. Goodness. We are staying out REALLY late lately. Or maybe I’m just older and less capable of staying up late. Whatever it is, I love it! But I REALLY have to pack. And study. Anyway. This birthday weekend was just awesome 🙂 Thanks friends, you’re the best

Slideshow viewing party

Vegas Trip 2010

Listening to: Lauren Hildebrandt – Underneath (OMG I watched the video, which is accompanied by ridiculous pictures, and that was when I realized it’s “underneath the wrapper” not “underneath the rapper.” The corniness of the lyrics kind of lowered my liking of it)

It’s hard to write this entry without making it very xanga-like and overly detailed.

I haven’t had any feeling in my toes for almost three days. Stupid heels! Which is worse, paying money to go to a club or wearing heels? As long as my toes eventually regain feeling, I will say the guys have the short end of the stick.

Vegas trip for Regina’s birthday was awesome! Frances C, Eric and I left Grand Canyon early Saturday morning and arrived at 1 to meet with Alvin, Regina and Johnston for lunch at the M Buffet. Maybe it was because we were on our way back from Grand Canyon, or maybe we just quickly settled into the atmosphere, but this trip felt more like we were comfortably hanging out, rather than trying to cram all this touristy stuff into three days. Before, we would go to Vegas to see things, either hotel sights or shows, but this time it was more like “we want to eat here, we want to club here, we actually have a reason to do things here” which was nice. I kind of felt like we actually lived in Vegas, and it was just another weekend … where half the day is devoted to clubbing.

We stayed at Regina’s timeshare which was a little south of the strip and awesome! I think we handled nine people sharing one bathroom very well and it easily fit all of us with sleeping bags. The best was the heavy blinds which allowed us to sleep until noon. It is kind of scary how quickly I settled into a “mmm … ok I guess I will get up at noon but not a minute before” mentality.

So here is the gist of our Vegas itinerary. Wake up, eat uncomfortable amounts of food for brunch (the Soo Jin definition of brunch, meaning it begins at 2pm), prepare for clubbing, preparty, stand in line for club, club, return from clubbing and shower, sleep, repeat. There was no need to find other things to do, it was really just EAT. CLUB. No more time.

M buffet was DELICIOUS. I love the unlimited beer, wine and hard cider. Delicious meatloaf, raw oysters, and roast beef. I ate a reasonable amount, until desserts hit me hard.

Save room for M Buffet's desserts

me: I want ice cream too! But what I REALLLY want is the cone…
*four of us go muster up the stomach space to get ice cream*
ice cream server: what flavor do you want?
johnston: oh I’m not in line
me: WAIT what?! you’re not in line?! I don’t know what flavor I want yet! Uh … uhh … sorry! Uh … cookies and cream! Oh damn … I wanted coffee … never mind … thanks …
eric: wait! didn’t you want an ice cream cone?!
me: oh. no. well. it’s ok. whatever.
johnston: WHAT ARE YOU DOING. get the cone!

classic mel tang waiting in line experience. I wanted a coffee ice cream cone and ended up getting cookies and cream in a cup. HAHA

We left M Buffet at 4:30, meaning we had sat there for about three hours. Drove to the timeshare and checked in, lounged around, then got ready to go clubbing. At the time we were trying to figure out the logistics of the third car with Henry, Jackie and Owen, since we had to get to the club before 10 so the guys could pay $25 instead of $40. We ended up missing the cutoff and the guys had to pay $40. I feel very guilty when I get to waltz by the cashier and the guys have to stand back and open their wallets.

We went to Palms and did the Playboy club (really great views), Moon (which was … very black where 3 of 4 songs would be some hip hop song we couldn’t really dance to), then I essentially blacked out on the dance floor and we left the club and went to the food court before exploring more of Palms. So weird, I was feeling totally fine one second then the next I’m leaning on Eric and can’t really see anything. Did NOT drink very much at all either. I blame the heels! And Vegas’ lack of available water. Anyway, we ended up at Rain which was such an awesome club! Super loud house music with high energy and there were dancers around us and flames and random exhibitionist dancers like a robot man and a Gaga-like girl who would emit sparks from her chest and crotch area.

We ended up leaving around 4, checked out Moon again and just watched the view. I loveee staring into Vegas streets at night. The traffic runs so smoothly and there are still so many cars out. It’s like watching a live system. We finally got back to the timeshare around 4:30 then took showers and I have no idea when I went to bed but all I know is I woke up at noon and got up, not because I was fully rested but because I would freak out if I woke up past noon one day.

NEXT DAY. SUNDAY. Since we all woke up in the afternoon, by the time everyone was ready we left for the Wynn Buffet at 2. I think, no more Wynn Buffet ever. It’s not thattt great. I want to try Bellagio next time. Since we arrived so late, we were able to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner items – awesome. I love their yogurt granola, their BBQ pulled pork cornbread, and their smoked trout, but I don’t really care for Wynn’s desserts. “Owen, do you remember that? It’s that disgusting toothpaste dessert everyone got last time … WHAT why are you getting it?!” “Maybe it changed.” HAHA I ended up sitting with Eric, Owen and Henry. They called it the brotastic table and spent some time trying to make up words like “brotacular” and “brolicious” and “brawesome.” Brawesome was rejected. The rest of the conversation was us bemoaning our inability to eat as much as we once did. Guy conversations are … so fun.

eric (trying to rhyme): hairdo. seethrough. redo.
eric: dodo.
henry: heh heh. do do.
eric: hahaha, do do.
me: oh my fucking god. this was the stupidest conversation i’ve ever heard

johnston: do you like m buffet or wynn buffet better?
me: m buffet. their scrambled eggs are better
*eric chokes on water while laughing and johnston gives me a disbelieving look*

We left the buffet around 5 … again proving my point that buffets take 1/3 of the day, clubbing half the day, sleeping the remaining fraction. Johnston, Eric, Regina and I went to the timeshare’s lazy river and just floated around before going back to change for clubbing. Other people were at Caesar’s Palace shopping, and we were really surprised they weren’t back yet. Later they returned with Owen just as red as his cherry Fat Tuesday. More clubbing preparation, then a little preparty, then off to Blue Martini, where we had free drink coupons.

Before we even placed our order, Henry passed out on the bar table. Our waitress initially seemed very “I’ll serve you but I won’t be friendly” but when I pointed out Henry, she turned around and did a complete 180 and was like “OMGGG he is TOTALLLYYY passed out look he’s DROOLING!” and became super friendly. I ordered a flatbread that I didn’t really want to eat, but did because my pear vodka was super strong. All of our drinks were realllllyyy strong which was nice considering they knew we all had a free drink coupon. I enjoyed eating at Blue Martini! It was in a shopping center similar to the Grove, and Blue Martini is similar to Yard House. We finally left, took another cab to XS.

Day 2 of clubbing

XS on a Sunday night … I guess the people who really wanted to club thought it was dead but to me it was the perfect amount of people. Meaning, few. Tons more planter space for me to sit around. The music was good at first, then it got kind of weird. We did a lot of sitting around. I’m glad we went to XS because I’ve always wondered what it looked like, since I didn’t go last year. I love outdoor clubs in Vegas because it somewhat justifies building all this extravagance in the middle of a desert. Sure, it’s environmentally detrimental and completely illogical, but if I can wear a short, sheer dress at 3am without feeling cold, that’s fine. Favorite moment: Johnston hearing Bulletproof, jumping up to dance super enthusiastically, and three girls immediately dancing over to him. All while Eric and Owen were trolling for girls. We left for Surrender without Eric and Owen, but ended up watching Johnston gamble on penny slots. Killed more time, took another cab to Peppermill for some late night food, then ended back in the hotel around 4. Surprisingly, the guys (Henry, Eric and Owen) had not yet returned

frances c: what are they going to do anyway with those girls? ‘hey, want to come back to my friend’s timeshare? I’m on the pull out couch. Look for the red sleeping bag’

Finally went to bed around 6 I think … woke up at noon again to go to Tao Beach, where we could get a sitting area if we bought a minimum amount of food/drinks. With Vegas prices, we surpassed the dollar minimum with two pitchers. Tao Beach was not what we expected but I had a lot of fun, because the music was REALLY good. Unbeknownst to us, we had gone on lesbian day at Tao Beach. Eric, Henry, Johnston and I went to the pool to sit around which felt super nice. Got a pitcher of sake sangria (not strong at all – don’t get sangria if you’re looking to get drunk!), played with some beach balls, ate some food, I drank a Heini and was very appreciative of being a one sip wonder (a case of beer there was freaking $275! no idea how much my single can was, since Eric/Henry paid for it). I ended up really enjoying it but we left because they close around 3 or something.

me: do we want to get a cabana at tao beach?
frances c: it would be nice to be treated like a human for once in vegas and actually have a place to sit. instead of standing around and sitting on planters

Then went to Caesar’s Palace where we ate at Serendipity 3, some dessert place famous for frozen hot chocolates. Eric and I split an order of sweet potato fries, peanut butter pie, AND a frozen coffee hot chocolate which tasted like a $10 starbucks frappucino. So sweet … the best thing was the water. It was a nice place to sit around though, especially on a Monday where there weren’t that many people and we could just lounge around the outdoor seating. Then I left with Eric and Owen to run an errand while the others went to Bellagio … then back to the timeshare to pack up and leave!

I think we all left the timeshare around 8pm, when I had expected to leave around 8am. Whoops. I loved it though, I think we used our time very well. My car decided to stay later and explore more of Vegas and drag out the fun trip … so Johnston, Eric, Frances C and I went to 1) CHIPOTLE 2) Paris 3) some of Bellagio 4) City Center. Never seen the completed city center before, which was interesting but only as a spontaneous destination. For once, I didn’t see any construction around the strip. Also, I noticed that there isn’t a stifling air of smoke when you enter casinos, maybe people are smoking less? Finally left around 12:30am, and I don’t know how Frances had the energy to drive 3 hours, but the rest of us immediately fell asleep. I took a short shift, then Eric, then me again. Finally got home around 5:30, and forced myself to sleep even though I just wanted to check up on celebrity gossip.

henry: hey, have you guys gotten back yet?
me: gotten back? uhh … well I’m staring at the Mandalay Bay right now

And that … was the Vegas trip 🙂

Grand Canyon: Kaibab Trail

Tired! Very tired. But really, today was a fairly easy day. We didn’t set a time to wake up … so we ended up leaving around 10:30 for breakfast. There was a very small roadside diner a block away, where we got fairly standard diner food. Then set off for Grand Canyon, which is about 40 minutes from Williams. The drive up was surprisingly very beautiful. Tons of yellow wildflowers everywhere which contrasted very well with the blue sky. Definitely not the ugly barren desert I had envisioned.

View up to Grand Canyon

After getting to the visitor’s center and taking a shuttle to the trailhead, we finally started our trail around 2:15pm. Which seems very late for something as large as the Grand Canyon but it’s ok, I feel like we covered enough to make the day worth it. The three trails I knew of were Rim trail (very flat and popular and basically just goes around the edge), Bright Angel Trail (I think it basically takes you down to the river) and South Kaibab Trail, which we took (very steep, good for a day hike but can be taken all the way to the mountain at the risk of permanent brain damage, heat stroke, and death).

Grand Canyon

It wasn’t as hot as it could have been, but the sun was bearing down on us pretty hard for some parts. I FREAKING forgot a hat! This is basically the one time I would have willingly worn a hat. I ended up taking the park newspaper and using it to cover my face on the way up.

I wish I could have made a paper hat out of that

Grand Canyon was unexpectedly pretty! It was fun, but I can still confidently say that I really do not like hot and dusty places. I was afraid that if I ended up liking Grand Canyon, I would have lost an understanding of myself! Up would be down, right would be left, I would like deserts. We were told that the walk back up would take twice as long as the walk down. LIES. We took just as long going up as we went going down! But I don’t think we went 2x faster than the average time going up, I think we just went 2x slower than the average time going down. 1) We are all picture taking lovers and 2) I am really slow walking down, especially on trails as steep as the one we were on.

Frances "We have more pictures of squirrels - A squirrel - than we have of ourselves"

We took the shuttle to Yaki Point and Yavapai Point. Yavapai Point was really good for the sunset, and we just stayed there for a very long time and watched as the light changed colors on the canyon. A mom-aged white lady struck up a conversation with Eric about his camera. She clearly knew a lot about photography so a little while later we asked her to take a group shot for us and it was THE MOST effort anyone’s ever put into a photo for strangers. So nice! She also gave us a ride back to the visitor’s center so we didn’t have to wait for the shuttle 🙂 People are so nice. We had a hard time locating our car, so it was very nice of her to drive around with our useless directions “it … should be here … where is our car? It’s supposed to be here!”

Courtesy of Frances; I have no access to Eric's pics right now 😦

We went straight to dinner in Williams. I had yelped a place called The Grand Canyon Brewing Company but we ended up eating at Pine Country Restaurant which was more comfortable, sit down restaurant. The initial plan was: return from Grand Canyon, eat, go to Dairy Queen, swim in motel pool, shower. We ended up getting pie after dinner, so no more Dairy Queen. We walked around the two blocks of Williams, which had a very small town feel. When we passed by The Grand Canyon Brewing Company, there was live music, Eric says the name was “Balumba … La Bamba!” And people sitting outside high fived us. Then we walked by another bar and someone playing pool caught our eye and waved at us and we realized it was our server from Pine Country. What a delightful feeling!

Now we’re in the motel. I don’t know why but Eric and Frances C did not shower yet. Even though that was the one thing we wanted desperately after hiking. When I rubbed my leg, I would have a film of dirt under my finger. When I took a shower, the water ran red from the dust! DISGUSTINGGG. Well, they watched Terminator 2 on tv while I watched The Vampire Diaries. Now we’re playing Monopoly Deal! Tomorrow is driving to Vegas! How strange.

About 75 pics of this squirrel ... and about 10 group shots of us
We must settle for crooked self-timed pics

Grand Canyon: Williams, AZ

Listening to: Metric – Black Sheep (thanks Jon! <3)

The Grand Canyon is turning out to be more awesome than expected! Who would have thought. Whenever tourbooks say the desert is beautiful, I kind of mentally roll my eyes. But today, it was indeed very pretty! Maybe I just have a greater appreciation for it now. The colors were so nice – at sunset, east was pink and blue and west was purple and yellow from the sun.

Surprisingly cool desert views

I woke up around 8:30am and went to 99 Ranch to pick up fan twans, apples, peaches, and bread. I’ve carefully planned it out so we should have enough food for tomorrow’s hike and Saturday’s drive to Vegas! Then picked up Frances C and then Eric and then our rental car. Even though I made a reservation, for some unexplained reason, our car was not on the lot when we arrived. It took another hour for them to get the car, but at least paying for the car wasn’t some fiasco like it was for the US roadtrip. We just talked in the parking lot and explored the nearby petstore to kill time. Summary: Enterprise sucks ass everywhere but since I get the employee discount, I am unwillingly tied to it.

Cute cat that rubbed itself over us. Then rolled around the street. No wonder he felt dirty

Our car is also a Chevrolet, but a Cobalt instead of Malibu. The Malibu is significantly better than a Cobalt. This car makes straining sounds when you accelerate. It is only $9 a day though, and including insurance, it’s only $102 for five days. Yay! The drive was pretty easy, although it is really alarming how quickly the gas disappears. The tank is really small, and the car is not fuel efficient at all, so I think the car goes about 275 mi for the whole tank.

Today was a very relaxing day. Even though we set out about two hours later than planned, it didn’t really matter since the only plan was to drive. We got into Williams, AZ around 7pm. Williams is the closest city to Grand Canyon. I wanted to drive to Flagstaff to eat, which is a bigger city and about 40 minutes away. We checked in, jumped on the beds for a good few minutes, then drove east. I figured we’d be too tired tomorrow, so today was a good day to go. We passed two VERY brightly lit streets in Williams, which we will explore tomorrow. We’re right on Route 66, so it’s the quintessential American roadtrip feel.

Flagstaff is awesome! It’s the closest “big” city and there are nice establishments like Target, Olive Garden, and a really swanky Barnes and Noble. The visitor’s center is huge (although closed when we arrived at 8pm) and there are a lot of restaurants in about three blocks. We walked around the streets but I had yelped before we left so I knew I wanted to eat either 1) Diablo Burger 2) Beaverstreet Brewery 3) Bigfoot BBQ or 4) Black Bean Burrito. We walked to this shopping center where Bigfoot BBQ is located, and inside were all these REALLY cool stores. One had a ton of super cute soaps that had pictures on them. Another was very Urban Outfitters-like, not the clothes but the books/decor section. Then we went downstairs where there was more clothes (which probably have the scent of BBQ on them) and Bigfoot BBQ!

Cutest bar of soap ever!

The stores and restaurants had a very norcal vibe but the feeling of being in a cute little town in the middle of a desert was a little like Tempe. Things are way more squished together here though. Anyway, Bigfoot BBQ was delicious! But not for the bbq. I got a honey brown beer which was very tasty. They had free peanuts which were SO good. I enjoyed Eric’s cornbread and my sweet potato fries were awesome. We all agreed they tasted even better than Canter’s. They sprinkled cinnamon sugar on them! So amazing.

For awesome fries, just drive eight hours to AZ

When we were driving to Flagstaff, we could already see a lot of stars out so we were like “Let’s go stargazing!” So when we were exploring stores, we asked one of the store clerks where we could go stargaze. All three store clerks we talked to, and the waitresses, were super friendly and nice. We were directed to Lake Mary, which was about 30 minutes south of Flagstaff. She was like “go to the Walmart, oh wait, you have no idea where the Walmart is…” but luckily I have my GPS!

The only star my camera could capture, but I swear the view was amazing

There were very few cars driving down Lake Mary Road to get to Lake Mary. But more and more stars were popping out! There is a half moon tonight, otherwise the night sky would have been even crazier. We reached a spot, parked near a boat dock and just sat at the edge of  the dock while sharing a sleeping bag as a blanket. It was sooo quiet there, you could hear fish coming up for air and SOME sort of animal making a kind of whistling sound. There were soooo many stars and the moon light was nice on the dark water. We saw two shooting stars! It was kind of hard to pull away from such a quiet, peaceful, and beautiful spot, but it was getting cold.

We took SO many of these pictures ... and couldn't stop laughing

Drove back to Williams and now we’re getting ready for a Grand Canyon hike! The Grand Canyon is best seen at sunrise or sunset but obviously we’re not going to make it to sunrise so there is less pressure to wake up insanely early. This trip is turning out AWESOME!

The most random ass picture ever

It’s so weird that it seems so normal to me to drive somewhere and just explore some little American town several hundred miles away from home. In fact, the weirdest part of the day was the idea that I reached my final destination in a single day, not in three days or thirty days.

Eric and Frances C are watching Jennifer’s Body now, even though I told them it is a TERRIBLE movie.

The past nine months in map form

Crap. Instead of studying I spent my day making a google map. I don’t know what compels me to so heavily document every little thing I do. I wasn’t even planning on publishing this until the end of the month. But I don’t think I’m going anywhere else besides Grand Canyon and Las Vegas so … here is a map that took me three hours to complete. Spectacular use of time. It’s basically everywhere I’ve been in the past nine months. I made comments at every point but I don’t expect anyone to read a single one. At first I wrote it in a “what you should visit” way but it devolved into a “I’m tired of this so I will say whatever the heck I want” format.

January seems like forever ago. But if you forgot, the past nine months were: SF/Berkeley, San Diego, home, roadtrip, home, Seattle

Today I read a book

Still listening to: Get Far – The Radio (I noticed the lyrics and liked the song even more)

I just finished reading Zeitoun today. I did not know what Zeitoun was really about – I saw it in a Seattle bookstore, liked the cover, glanced at the back, saw the words “in the wake of Hurricane Katrina,” saw that it was written by Dave Eggers, and decided I wanted to read it. I thought the book was simply going to be about the protagonist surviving Hurricane Katrina and rebuilding his home and business. I did not expect what actually happened in the middle of the book, which you can probably guess if you read beyond the first five words of the summary. Something I would heavily recommend you do lest you find yourself incredibly depressed and emotionally drained like I was after reading this.

Now I need to read something uplifting, but all I have is Cat’s Cradle and Dear John. I think Dear John is supposed to be uplifting, but after reading the first page, I’ve realized that I no longer have my high school self’s patience to read a Nicholas Sparks novel. I think I will just thumb through my tourbooks on California Hikes and the Grand Canyon.

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life

On the way to my aunt and uncle’s house today, my mom and I drove by a group of AHS students in PE clothes, walking around Duarte. Is this what they do for PE now? Since they’re destroying the track and basketball courts, now they just have students walk around the street? In my quick survey of the group, I didn’t see an adult present, although I find it impossible that AHS would put themselves in that much liability. I wish I could have spent PE walking around, talking to friends.

mom: where do you think they’re walking to?
me: I don’t know, just around the block
mom: they should walk to life plaza
me: what?! why?!
mom: so they can get shaved ice!

I started reading the book I mentioned before, which I never thought I would find in Arcadia Public Library BUT DID. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. I LOVE it. I’m trying not to digest it too quickly, because it’s easy to find myself just quickly skimming the entries and not really appreciating them. Some of my favorites:

Busy Certainly there are more interesting, more original, and more accurate ways to answer the question how are you? … Yet busy stands as the easiest way of summarizing all that you do and all that you are … As kids, our stock answer to most every question was nothing. What did you do at school today? Nothing. What’s new? Nothing. Then, somewhere on the way to adulthood, we each took a 180-degree turn. We cashed in our nothing for busy.

Connected (versus Removed) When I read a magazine, I feel connected to the world, in on everything. When I read a book, I feel removed from the world, isolated, as if I’ve slipped off into a soundproof booth. It is the same with listening to the radio (connected) versus listening to a CD (removed). Both fill a certain need, balance the other out. There’s a getting away, and then there’s the coming back.

The book is exactly the kind of format I would want to write in, since it speaks to what I know: lists. Completely non-sequitured thoughts, accumulated over time and organized in some logical way. I remember really liking this book at Elliot Bay Books, attempting to read a significant portion of it while standing, realizing that I was doing the book a disservice by cramming it through my head, and reluctantly putting it back on the shelf. I don’t know why I didn’t buy it when I liked it so much – I’m just not in the habit of buying books.

I sort of want to do something similar, but since I know I’m never going to be a published author, nor would I ever want to bother going through the process of trying to become published, I was like … well when would I ever have the opportunity to do something like this? The book is about 220 pages, and with my tendency to ramble, I know my equivalent would not work within a blog format. Readers would probably peter out halfway around the A’s, then skip around before giving up entirely.

So then I had the brilliant idea of working on an electronic version over the course of my life, leaving instructions to print copies of it when I die, and have them distibuted at my funeral. It sounds like such a fun idea. My friends (you guys) would have some original piece of me even after my death. And it’ll be like “thank you for coming, here is a gift!” You can read it or not, I wouldn’t know. I’ve been thinking about the idea for most of the day, and it’s now 12:40am and I think it’s fantastic! Maybe by the time I die, there will be some better way of distributing it. I know this sounds very narcisstic to think that anyone would want to bother reading something I wrote. But I imagine that if you are taking the time to read this now, it’s somewhat likely that you would be interested in what I have to say from beyond the grave.

So look out for my as of yet unpublished “memoir,” or more accurately, encyclopedia of my life!


Listening to: Get Far – The Radio

I just finished the first book I’ve read in a very, very long time. I’m not even sure when the last time I finished a book was. I borrowed a bunch from Seattle but never had the opportunity to finish a single one. I’ll never know what happened in Healing Hearts: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon.

The only, and I sincerely mean only thing Arcadia has on Seattle (OK FINE maybe it’s cool that I have a selection of Asian restaurants that I never eat in) is that we have a pretty well funded library with not nearly as many avid readers as Seattle. Seattle has a great library system but every book I wanted to read had at least 3 holds per copy. But I went to the Arcadia library yesterday and immediately picked up four books I’ve been waiting to read. First to finish: 101 Places not to See, which I had thumbed through in Elliott Bay Books.

The Gum Wall: picture taken July 2009 during first trip to Seattle

A good number of the places are humorous, some I have never been to but can confirm that from what I know, they rightfully belong on the list, some are particular dates and places in history, and some I have been to. I’ve gone to the Gum Wall in Seattle (something we stumbled upon and I never tried to find in August), BART (ha!), Naked Sushi (as in, restaurants that serve sushi on a naked woman’s body – we obviously didn’t do that, but we went to a sushi restaurant in Pasadena and Jackie noticed the figure of a woman lying on the table through the not so opaque wall of a private room), Nevada, and The Thing (although Andria and I did not actually venture into The Thing, though Kristen and Christina did). There was also an entry for The Winchester Mystery House, whose opening sentence made me oh so excited to begin searching for apartments in San Jose:

Some people might argue that San Jose, CA, is itself a place not worth visiting before you die.

I’m craigslisting now for apartments, not knowing exactly which city I want to live in or how much I want to spend. I’ve already sent out a few requests and got responses which prompted my immediate “OMG why are you responding to me so quickly? This is too much too soon! I don’t know if I really want your place – why are you trying to make me commit to something?! Give me time to think!” response even though all they want is my phone number and a good time to call me.

Bleh. If I had not gone to Seattle, I probably would have happily packed up and left for the Bay Area with the goal of living there for life. But now I’m like UGH I want to live in WASHINGTON not CALIFORNIA. I want to find a place in the South Bay that is near a giant lake! And parks! Parks I can legitimiately run around, not parks for dogs to piss in.  I want libraries! And restaurants! And plenty of street parking! Where is this fantasy place?!

I’m just going to read now. Then walk to the restaurant where we’re meeting up for dinner. This is now my form of exercise. Walking to eat. Which is better than no exercise at all, but still. I want my damn lake back.

In the past 36 days…

Listening  to: Kylie Minogue – Get Out of My Way

Miles driven: 4,987

Money spent: $3,158.13, $1,338.67 of which was spent with my mom on the drive home

Souvenirs: two Seattle radio stations I play non-stop (C89.5 and KEXP), two lanterns, incredibly dark tan

Favorite memories: hiking Mt. Rainier both times, eating in Columbia City, my first run around Greenlake, my first Seattle park, Ravenna Park, my first Seattle coffee at Starlight on the Oasis Cafe, driving around listening to C89.5

Next time: Visit University of Oregon, try more restaurants, Silver Falls Park, attempt to make friends

Up on the 5, down on the 1

As if you need any more information about my month in Seattle. But I kind of want to give a small summary of the month. Seattle is my new favorite city in America. My experience in Seattle makes me want to move out of CA. Deciding to spend a month there was one of the best decisions I ever made. One of the things that pushed me to just take the leap and do it was when Christina said “old people regret the things they didn’t do more than the things they did do.” My general life philosophy is, just don’t ever wonder “what if.” Ifs are paralyzing and can last a lifetime and I am certainly one to dwell on little things, so I try to minimize the ifs as much as possible.

My cozy room for August

Admittedly, I lived in Seattle during one of the few months that doesn’t experience endless rain. Maybe going in another month would have given me an entirely different perspective. I think Seattle would be a great place to live once I’ve settled down in life, maybe from my late twenties until 40ish. I want to have a cute one story house somewhere in Greenlake! With a cozy living room for me to read under a warm throw during rainy nights. I could frequent coffee shops with friends, go on hikes on the weekends. Washington gave me an appreciation for the outdoors that I never had and now I want to travel and hike mountains and kayak bodies of water. I always assumed I would grow sick of my nine month post-graduation break, but I feel like I don’t have enough time, and now I just want to suspend reality and explore more.

Example of a map I'd draw before leaving to explore a neighborhood

I was afraid I’d become really lonely in Seattle, since I generally get kind of depressed if I go for three days without seeing a friend. But I did surprisingly ok – it was enough to just have a set home, see my housemates from time to time, explore neighborhoods on my own and talk to friendly strangers if I came across them. It also helped that I had a test to study for, and Caroline came to visit me. I think I actually feel more lonely in Arcadia, even if I’m alone for just a few hours. As I have said before, Arcadia is a hard place to stay in, because I feel like my life is so stagnant when I’m here. I find myself fantasizing about a more exciting life the most when I’m at home, and I feel more lonely here than when I was in Seattle.

Green: all the neighborhoods I throughly explored

If you want suggestions for what to do in Seattle, it’s a little hard because a lot of my favorite things require a car to reach. It’s a city to live in, rather than a city to tour. It was worth it to visit as many neighborhoods as I could: it’s more doable than LA and more interesting than SF. I’d just suggest Pike Place and advise that you find some way to make it to Mt. Rainier. My favorite things to do were walk around parks, drink coffee and look through used cds. I’ve never seen a prettier stretch of the 5 than in Seattle (and I’ve driven quite a bit of the 5). The view of Seattle from Alki Beach at night is incredible. The view of Seattle from Gasworks Park on a clear day is incredible.

Mt. Rainier is just ridiculous

What next? Well, I have to look for a place to live in the South Bay. I need to study for AUD, the last part of my CPA exam. I want to hang out with friends in SoCal before I move and begin work life. Today was a great day to resume life in SoCal. The day was overcast, my favorite weather. I met up with Frances C, Eric and Henry for a brunch at Marie Callenders. We drove to the Grove, but got distracted along the way by the Hollywood sign and Melrose Ave. None of us had ever been that close to the Hollywood Sign, so it was pretty fun. I’d never been on Melrose Ave – it’s so bizarre to see such huge name brand fashion stores with fairly plain looking storefronts. Today was more evidence of how hideous LA is.

Let's be tourists in our own home

I now give CA a lot of shit – way too populated, too brown, shitty radio stations, too spread out, superficial vibe. But it’s impossible to criticize the fact that in a single day, we went to four different restaurants. At night, we went to Canter’s, a Jewish deli for Rueben sandwiches and sweet potato fries. Then Pink’s, then Urth Cafe. I can however, criticize the fact that I spent $38 today on food and the $52 parking ticket Eric received.

I created a bar graph comparing the three areas I’ve lived in: LA, Bay Area, Seattle. Because that’s how I do.

Above black: likes. Below black: dislikes