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It's Friday, why are you behind a laptop?

Apr. 21st, 2019 | 03:07 pm

San Francisco, Part 1.

Kaplan Lane

Rewinding* back to Thursday the 11th, uncharacteristically, I had packed diligently and was ready to go by the evening before. The unfortunate thing was that I still had a work deadline to contend with, so I made it to the airport and through security early, got an iced coffee, and started banging out the copy editing and formatting I needed to do. We boarded on time, I got wifi in the flight, and kept going; ditto after we deboarded and I had to hunt for an open seat near an outlet** in O'Hare to finish it out. Luckily, I got it all done and was able to inhale a burrito and then read my newest library hold on the next flight. Our flight was also delayed by ~45 minutes, allowing me a little break from the pace. And other than one call, I was then done with work for the duration.

I gathered my suitcase, then got on to BART and into the city from there. My hotel was perfectly lovely and well located, then I showered and went out to the Castro to meet Kevin A. at Moby Dick. We had a few drinks, then went over to meet his friends Vaughn and Scott at The Edge, which was also prepping to show Drag Race. I made it about halfway through the ep before I needed rest and foooood, so took a Lyft back to my hotel and ordered Thai delivery.

Fundraising for ALC with the giant vodka bottle

After fiddling with the hotel room thermostat extensively, I managed a good night of sleep and got up for a run on Friday morning. The waterfront views are hard to beat, and would be excellent exercise motivation over the whole trip.

This ol' thing was five blocks from my hotel.

After I returned and showered, I had some downtime to get my room organized and be horrified at the content of daytime TV. Over some leftover Thai food, I participated in the one call that work needed me for, the monthly planning for our LGBTQ group; it was a damn good thing I was there, because no one else that has been working on the global Pride event for late June dialed in. Now I at least feel mildly important. From there I went to the market to pick up rosé and snacks, then took a Lyft to Dolores Park to meet up with Kevin, Vaughn, Scott, and friends again. The weather was a perfectly lovely mid-70s and clear. Thank you weather gods, for that, and we listened to music and bitched and people watched. This was the precise opposite vibe of the frantic work of 24 hours prior, and I needed it.

Life is hard.

Eventually I walked all the way back to the hotel, had some decent Mexican food for dinner, and went to bed. I'll pick up the next entry there, because thematically that fits.

* Not going to backdate these entries, as they depict time not that long ago.
** Time for work to buy me an Admiral's Club membership, right?

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A Friday Five to brush off the dust.

Apr. 19th, 2019 | 10:57 pm

Dusty is my LJ's default state.

Back from San Francisco since Wednesday night, but haven't had much time to focus on blogging. I do have a large pile of photos and stories! Until I get back to that, here's a Friday Five, since I neglected to do these for almost a year:

1. Did you enjoy your senior year of high school?
Sure. I had finally recovered from the (literally) sophomoric dramas of leaving one friend group behind for another earlier in HS, was on good terms with everyone, and obsessed with the college application process.

2. Did you have a senior trip (high school) and were you able to go on it.
This was not a thing in my hometown. However, our Math/Science Academic Bowl chose 75 kids statewide to go to Orlando for a week every year, and I was one of them my senior year. That was a pretty swell trip, and I chose which college to go to right before it, like literally signed the letter and mailed it with the deposit check as my parents dropped me off. So I had that huge relief on top of the excitement of the trip.

3. Was graduating (from either high school or college/university) a big thing with your family or just another day?
Huge. OMG. We had an enormous barbecue after the ceremony, complete with photo ops with everyone. Then I went to several of my friends' parties and got drunk in an alley, LOL.

4. What were you looking forward to the most after graduating from either high school or college/university?
Definitely going to college and being independent-ish.

5. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your graduating self?
You're pretty much right in your judgments of who has your back and who doesn't. Trust those instincts.

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Back to using the office elevators.

Apr. 7th, 2019 | 07:32 pm

But I'm still appropriately terrified of becoming stuck in one for an entire weekend.

Definitely needed a good weekend after all of the toiling of the last week, and got one! On Friday I drove B to work, then met Blake and Nasser at Duplex. I had a steak salad, we bitched over drinks, and watched whatever movies were on at the time. It was a perfectly lovely and low-key evening. Then Rich and Ben G. came in and it just became a whiskey whirlwind, LOL. Patrick B. also stopped in and we had some good catchups. We stuck around with Sarah as she closed up the bar, then walked down to Larry's where, rather unexpectedly, I didn't leave until 3! Thankful for that steak salad to keep me going.

Yesterday I went running, as the weather was pretty much perfect for it: upper 60s but not too sunny. Then I managed to shower, eat some chicken breast, and get out to JR's for David J.'s birthday! He had quite a group assembled, and we got to watch an obscene amount of show tunes videos while having beers, before Lajuan, David, and I went to Stoney's for dinner. And despite the madness of the many people watching the Final Four, Howie was our server and the food came super quickly! Then I went home from there, a much earlier evening than Friday, and emptied the dishwasher when B got home to rant about the closing bartender and his ... subpar performance that is hurting the tip pool. After he had the opportunity to get through the venting, we finished the night by watching SNL* and other random television.

Today was pretty low key, too. I took B back to work, then went to the ATM and to Trader Joe's on a long leisurely walk. Warmer today, but still ok if I wasn't running. Now while my dinner is in the oven I've had some time to read and digest news, I really enjoyed this essay on parents of private school kids in LA feeling entitled to college admissions slots of their choice. It's a savage world, and I am pretty glad to neither be attempting to apply to colleges or have any family members doing the same at this point. Maybe this sting will eventually represent a turnaround into better admissions integrity, I don't know.

*Hard to believe this is still on. Can we just spin off Weekend Update and cancel the rest? I'm sure all the cast members could get new jobs.

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Cabin in the North Arlington.

Mar. 21st, 2019 | 10:51 pm

It's a pretty low-budget flick; we couldn't afford a whole original title.

Ann Arbor, February 2010
Running through my photo archive. Ann Arbor, February 2010.

I have mostly recovered from the transition to DST, as reported in my last entry, but there are still twinges of feeling super groggy and confused when I wake up in the mornings. The very gray overcast skies of today didn't help this morning, but I got by.

The week's highlight so far was that Aaron B. was in town, so we arranged to have dinner with him at Espita. The food was super amazing, and we got caught up on what we do and don't need to do during his wedding weekend in July. It'll be the first time in Wisconsin for either B or me! Then we went to DIK Bar, surprised Brett with Aaron's presence, and generally heard about her new car, which officially allows her to move to Woodbridge when her lease is up. Changes!

Much to my chagrin, the library does a big purge of their collection every year in the late February to early March window and takes a bunch of my wish list items with it. In both 2018 and 2019 they also purged exactly one book that I had already requested a hold on. Given the space they take up and the existence of e-books, I get that they need to remove older/less popular titles from the collection to make way for new stuff, but I would think they'd at least let the stuff in hold queues go through? Whatever. It would be easier for me if I had some way to know what the removed wishlist titles even were, but they just suddenly appear as "this item was not found" error messages with no identifying information.

And to close out this rant, I also get and am fine with the fact that many discarded titles are donated to the Friends of the Library to be sold cheaply for fundraising purposes. But that does not help me find specific titles either, because the FotL sell their wares at many different branches across the city and there is no way to search for their inventory as it's strictly a browsing situation. So to turn this into a solution, once I saw my recent hold wasn't coming, I immediately ordered it on Amazon and will soon have it forever.

Last night's monthly grocery shop was eventful. We first stopped at the liquor store, necessitating a different route, but got through the trip and the shopping all fine. The only random items out of stock were limes (?) and B's preferred espresso. By the time we were being rung up, it was almost 10 pm so we abandoned the idea of cooking that night and went to KFC. Also an apt occasion as yesterday was the 89th anniversary of it first being opened. Anyhow, since we last did this >2 years ago the old KFC near the supermarket was turned into a Dunkin Donuts! The next nearest one seemed close enough but was on the other side of 66, and took seemingly forever to get to through all of the lights. When we pulled up it appeared to be closed, but their hours indicated they still had ~25 minutes to go. After awkwardly waiting in the dark drive-thru lane for a minute the staff did appear and took our order! In gratitude we added nuggets on to our order. While our order was being assembled I joked to B that this felt like a scene early in a horror movie, waiting in the dark alongside an unfamiliar building because the restaurant was mysteriously moved a few miles down the road. There was even a second car that eventually pulled up behind us and we remarked that this was definitely the next scene in the movie where we were relieved to see another human but it turns out to be the murderer. :)

Fortunately we didn't get stabbed to death or dipped in a fryer! And made it home just fine to enjoy our late-night fried chicken. Work was a flash today, I powered through a bunch of tasks and barely even remember them. In theory I could be doing more of them tonight, especially my 2019 "performance plan" that is imminently due, but I didn't pack a charger and my laptop is nearly dead. LJ sucked up all the power, and I'm fine with that.

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Excellent daylight to do my reaping.

Mar. 15th, 2019 | 11:33 pm

Too bad I'm not a farmer.

Daylight Saving Time really messed me up this year, and I'm not sure why the change was so much more difficult for me or even different from any prior year. I overslept at least two out of four days between Monday and Thursday, then struggled to catch up at work. I ended up taking today as a vacation day to help me reset and because I have 27 (!) total* leave days for this calendar year and had only taken 0.5 until now. I'm saving many of those days for the various weddings and other trips we'll be doing later this year, as well as to have a nice cushion if I want to take much of December as time off.

On the traveling note we decided to make Aaron's wedding in Wisconsin in July into a long-ish road trip. We will be spending roughly a week leisurely driving there with stops along the way, and leisurely driving back along a different route with same intent. Show us your best gay bars, steakhouses, museums, and kitschy roadside attractions, the Upper Midwest!

Other than that, it wasn't a hugely eventful week. I settled into my new desk as reported in the last entry, and my desk neighbors there are a healthier and moderately less disruptive mix for me. Still going to take some time to get comfortable there, but I will deal. Last night Blake and I watched the ACC Tournament at Nellie's, where the darts league was having their championship night so we squeezed into a tiny portion of the upstairs and watched. I did get to have a more leisurely day, sleeping late then getting up for coffee and to read the news. Most of my news reading was devoted to the New Mexico Legislature, who will wrap their long session tomorrow and are thus in a marathon to finish their business for the year. I went to the gym around 3, picked up a Sweetgreen bowl on the way back, then tonight I went to Nine for happy hour with David and Lajuan, primarily to hear about their budding plans to see Kelly Clarkson in Baltimore tomorrow night. Still have a full weekend ahead, with few if any plans!

*I have maxed out my accrual and my rollover from a prior year, hence the generous pile of leave days.

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Up to five different desk assignments at this company.

Mar. 6th, 2019 | 10:37 pm
mood: nerdynerdy

After ten I get a gold-plated Aeron chair.

One pocket of shade. Baton Rouge, LA.

I am temporarily back in the groove of updating LJ! As you may have noticed. No sense in how long this will last but I am going with it for now. It's a bit disappointing that I lost three active friends in 2018 that are all friends-only when this blog fell into a lull, but perhaps they will return me to their lists now that I am back at it. Either way, I still have all of you, loyal readers.

Since our office suite is imminently expanding to include an adjacent empty suite on our floor, yesterday we got to choose new desks. I am going to be back on the sunny, south-facing side of the building again, albeit in a new-to-us part of the floor. Until mid-2016 my team was on that side of the office, then the small org that subleased a few desks from us moved out and we took over their spaces. In the current reconfiguration, we are also getting a second mini-kitchen installed, which is close to my new desk. My hope is this means I won't have to jockey with everyone in the existing kitchen for fridge space. Tentative move-in day is Friday. I should probably start packing up my photos, paper files, etc. tomorrow, because I'm slotted to move before noon and also have meetings on that day.

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If I order potatoes and vodka, does it count as a theme brunch?

Feb. 26th, 2019 | 12:38 pm

Deep shallow thoughts.

Aside from the confirmation of upcoming events and travel, here's what actually happened over the weekend!

Friday we finally reached the finale of the current RuPaul's Drag Race season at Trade. The crowds were not too terrible, and we assembled a deep crew of Josh M., Chris, Andrew, Taylor, Josh B.*, Brandon, Ben, Cameron, and Eliot. Following up from that, Andrew had started an unwieldy 12-person group chat for all of us in Snapchat, where Chris floated the idea of Sunday brunch, and actually made it happen! He was able to get a reservation at Lincoln, which was super convenient for Andrew and I. Their buffet didn't look very impressive so we ordered from the menu and I was pleased with steak and eggs. There was even a hash brown disc supporting the whole thing that I apparently didn't see in the menu listing.

After that we wandered to Slipstream to get coffees and sat in Logan Circle with them to people watch. Almost spring and it feels like it! We then went to Trade for a quick round of drinks, nothing too nutty. I was home in time to put two loads of laundry in and order some Qdoba for delivery to watch with the Oscars. And after all the (real) controversy about Kevin Hart not being fit to host and the (fake) controversy of what it would be like to have a hostless show, I didn't really notice. Having Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph give a little intro at the start in place of a monologue and Julia Roberts to close it out was really sufficient. And given that I saw exactly zero of the actual films up for awards, I had very little stake in the outcomes. :) I do, however, intend to jump on Crazy Rich Asians and The Favourite when they become available on demand.

Apropos of nothing else, my federal tax refund is in, and the DC refund is in process and expected soon. That has also helped with my budgeting and planning for the year.

*Again, Americans: we need a larger pool of baby names.

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February, just end now.

Feb. 20th, 2019 | 09:39 pm
mood: mellowmellow

And let me enjoy the rare March Mardi Gras.

Returning from the long President's Day weekend wasn't too bad. I got to work at 8:30, super early for me* even after having stopped for a bagel sandwich (with no line at the ABP!). Worked diligently until 12:30, went to the gym for a nice workout, then back by 2:05 to work until 6:05. The most orderly day in recent memory.

DC had a snow day today (Wednesday), but on a weird timing: OPM** called the snow day by 9 pm last night before we had even pulled dinner off the stove, but no actual snow started until after 4 am. When I finally woke up, it was coming down at a good clip on icy roads and sidewalks, clearly the forecasters got it right. So I went back to sleep and didn't sign on until a prompt 10:02. I hadn't slept very well overnight, feeling an unexplained tooth pain on my left side and just generally tossing.

Unfortunately the reason for my tooth pain and poor sleep is that I have a head cold. For whatever reason, pressure in my sinuses has always liked to bear downward and manifest as toothaches, but it doesn't happen often enough for me to remember that. So it was best that I not leave the house today in any case; I did rest and drink a lot of water, we shall see if that's sufficient for me to get back to the office tomorrow. My work today consisted of lots of CRM-like maintenance, closing old projects, plus participating in a training and our biweekly team check-in via phone. It was all thoroughly uninspiring but at least I didn't have to go anywhere.

And finally, about that dinner: B spent much of Tuesday evening making the Anne Burrell magic bolognese sauce, and we had that over bucatini, a new pasta shape to me. Perhaps I should add that to my otherwise scant February achievements list. B claims they soak up the sauce well, which is not wrong but then again they didn't seem to do as good a job of that as ziti or rigatoni.

*My report time is 10 am, and when my evenings get sucked up by unplanned work, I make the subsequent mornings pay for it.
**Our office "follows" their calls for whether their workers in the DC area get abbreviated or cancelled workdays due to weather, as is a somewhat common practice here.

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'Twas a winning day.

Feb. 13th, 2019 | 11:08 pm

And I'm not even the one sentencing Paul Manafort.

I have 2,004 photos of the Louisiana State Capitol, so. Eternal B-roll.

I woke up at something ludicrous like 4:45 from bad dreams, borne of dread that I was due to spend today working at the Suburbs Office. Since I didn't see any more sleep coming after 45+ minutes of tossing, I got up, packed lunch, went to Starbucks for a giant coffee so I wouldn't wake B fussing with the coffee maker, and just went there early. Arriving at 7:20 is a perfect situation if you need quiet to get shit done. Which I did! The area with standing desks on the 8th floor is usually deserted, but since my last visit Finance has hired 4 interns and they were all on the counter directly across from me. Good to have their energy, and someone else to correct mislabeled voucher entries. There was also a giant array of muffins, bagels, Danish, fruit, and spreads in the kitchen on that floor. Major free food win.

Later in the day we got an email from our receptionist back in the DC office warning of a "chemical odor" in the suite. Turns out the renovation we are getting (folding one of the adjacent, now-vacant suites into ours) is at a critical point where it's also hard to coexist with the construction/demolition crews, so people quickly started cancelling meetings and scrambling for remote work spaces. It was coincidentally a great day for me to not be there, and it sounds like I won't be back there until some point next week.

I had marked off time to go to the gym at 2:30, and by that point was very sleepy and not at all feeling it. But I just marched down there and forced myself through chest and triceps. Very proud that I did! I certainly felt better after that and a shower, and was able to wrap my final meeting on a somewhat higher energy level, leave by 4:45*, and gas up the car.

I also set up an oil change appointment for Friday, the next day I'll be there. Tomorrow it is off to a random coworking space for me, which work did kindly set up. It happens to be super close to my apartment, so the winning continues. I can even come home for lunch if I wish.

*Still a nine hour day not counting the workout. Blah, capitalism.

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I still do things other than read books.

Jan. 7th, 2019 | 11:55 pm

Though that will taper off when my tower of library holds comes in.

I am still undecided about whether to continue to write backdated entries to cover what I did for the rest of 2018 after my initial attempts. I did get through January in a total of four entries, and I had a live entry that covered much of February, so there was progress made. However, I got unfriended by more than one person after I started to post those* so I am unsure if it would lead to losing more LJ audience. On the other hand, 1) it isn't all that difficult to piece together what I was doing from the dreaded Other Social Media Accounts and cover each missed month with perhaps two entries, and 2) it is my journal, after all. It may come down to whether I decide to put my otherwise idle time into this vs. reading.

In the meantime, let's keep up with what is happening with me in 2019! I am usually very much not a resolution-type, but will nevertheless happily attribute my recent productivity to the date. On Friday I paid off B's final dental bill for his implants, which I'd been putting off pending a hail mary to attribute the cost to a new year when we hadn't maxed out our coverage, but that was a no-go since the final procedure (mostly a checkup, really) occurred in 2018. So, whatever. Take your $104, periodontist. It's off our plate forever.

Fitness-wise, I went running almost on a whim yesterday afternoon. After dropping B at work**, there isn't much sunlight left around this time of year, but the days now get slightly longer every week, and with a high of about 55 in January I know I would be far from the only one out there. So I did it! My phone is entering the battery drain swirl and died about 2/3 of the way through but I know it happened. Then, much to my surprise, I went running again today during my "lunch" hour at 3. It was far colder today, but with gloves, earmuffs, and a sense of eternal stubbornness I still got some miles in. As of now, I'm the most prolific runner of 2019 among my (four) friends on the running app!

Social-wise, I saw a ton of people Friday night at Trade: Nasser, Eric, Andrew, Brandon, Ben, Patrick Ry., Patrick Ro., and he brought his friend Brandon*** from New York. After watching a lackluster Drag Race episode among the crowds, we commanded a booth and had a lovely time. Saturday was not intended to be a going out night as I had Great British Bake Off on and was listing neglected books for online resale, but then Blake called and wanted to chat. I took a Lyft up there and we had on tap margaritas at El Chucho, the ultimate cheap therapy session, then I dropped him off at home and walked back here. So good habits abounding and trying to be social too.

I don't have a ton to report on at work. One new feature is my "career effectiveness" coach, who is basically a sounding board and a good reason to stop making excuses, a valuable combination for corporate life. :) Today was my fifth session, and I have a more specific and realistic plan for what I will be doing in 2019 than ever. Overall I need to work on implementing her recommendations so good habits persist after our sessions wrap at the end of January, including turning off my inbox for a couple of hours a day because it will get me to focus at least a bit better and move time from mundane tasks to the meaty stuff I actually want to do.

On that note, I need to head to the Suburbs Office tomorrow, an earlier morning than usual to account for the driving time all the way up there. Surely my good habits will unravel as soon as I get there and smell the bacon coming from deli breakfast sandwiches and there is nowhere to walk for non-grease or work out. But it was nice while it lasted?

*Backdated entries still appear in one's friends list as of the time they were posted.
**His most consistent shift is 4 pm to closing on Sundays.
***Get new baby names, America. Yeesh.

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