Week five: Small potatoes

Today at Weight Watchers I got a little gold star because I've lost 10 pounds. Ten pounds is equal in weight to two sacks of potatoes, people. Ten pounds is equal to eight cantalopes, 40 sticks of butter, or a lot of friggin' chili.

Feel free to applaud at home.

I have been trying to lose 10 pounds forever, by the way. You know how long I've been trying to lose 10 pounds? In the time that I've been trying to lose 10 pounds ... I gained 40.

The May visit was kind of depressing

You-know-who's been stumbling around upstairs again. She's going to renovate her unit--it will only take two weeks--and sell it as soon as she can. She's going to be very slective about the buyer, though, because she doesn't want to stick me with a bad neighbor.

Of course, she said the same thing in January. And February. And March.

Her latest renovation fever was sparked by a foreclosure notice. She told me she's renovating another unit in Medford, and that she's been sleeping there. I don't think she has the money to do anything with the upstairs apartment, but she doesn't want to give up and sell it as is, either. I haven't seen her boyfriend around, and she doesn't talk about her son anymore.

She's gone again now, but she did spend a few days in the unit, working into the night even though the apartment is still without electricity. She would leave the kitchen door open, and work in the feeble glow of the single bulb in the back hall 'till all hours, banging things around and throwing crap out of the windows.

Whenever I came home from work or from walking the dog or from running errands she would shout greetings and questions out the windows at me, scaring the hell out of me each and every time and making the dog bark.

"Does your dog always bark like that?" Except it came out Dwash shore dawghgh algrahwsh bruck lach dshaght?

I decide to be honest and say "Yes, she does." I decide not to be foolish and add what I'm thinking: Especially when crazy drunk people are yelling out the window of a dark apartment at us.

On the second night she asked me to come upstairs and look at the yellow tiled walls in the kitchen. She wanted my advice about what color to paint the cabinets. I tried to get out of it by telling her I was tired and going in for the night, but she kept talking to me from the second floor window and the dog kept barking up at her and I knew neither one of them was going to stop unless I came up.

So I picked my way past the plastic red cups filled with thick brown liquid (curdled Kaluha and creams?) that lined the stairs and walked past the growing pile of brown paper bags from the liquor store down the street, into the kitchen where she'd been letting her cigarette butts burn out on the linoleum floors and counters, leaving behind brown streaks that look like cockroaches in the gloomy light.

I stood and listened to her ramble on in her slurred voice. I held the dog in my arms so it wouldn't bark and wouldn't get into god knows whatever the hell might be in that apartment. I told her that the only color that goes with yellow is white, but she didn't believe me. I told her that she shouldn't paint over the old tiles and she changed the subject. She talked about a bird she has or once had and how that particular species of bird was the most intelligent animal in the world. Or something. It was pretty hard to understand her.

I stood in the dark kitchen listening to her slur her stories for a half an hour, maybe an hour. The whole time I stood there, leaning against the counter, my hand kept twitching toward the light switch, wanting to flip on the lights. And then I would remember that there was no electrictity and pull my hand back.

And I would listen to her talk for a while, until I forgot about the electricity. And then I would reach toward the light switch again.

After I left she worked for a while longer, stumbling around in the dark, throwing things out the window, and drinking herself to death. She stayed a couple more days after that. She tried to steal my weed wacker, but was too drunk to actually pull it off (Oh, dosh thish beloghgh to ghou?) so she had to bring it back downstairs again. She fell asleep in her car, which was parked outside the house. She left a bunch of cigarette butts on the walkway. She planted some flowers in the planter on the front porch. She parked in the driveway and blocked my car in. She made my dog bark some more. And then she disappeared again.

I kind of miss her.

OK, not really. But I do think I'm starting to feel bad for her. And I just wonder how long this can possibly go on ...

What the hell else happened in Vegas?

I should know better than to ever do a "more to come later" post because I hardly ever follow through with them. Plus, I feel guilty writing about anything else in the meantime. And then a week goes by and I haven't posted my follow up and I haven't posted anything else and in fact I can't even remember any more what the hell else I was going to write about my trip to Las Vegas. I'm no longer even sure that anything else happened.

Meanwhile, my friend Berto wrote up the story of what happened to the $20 he gave me to play in Vegas. I was supposed to do it for him, as punishment, but didn't get around to it. His version is way funnier than mine would have been anyway. And it's actually true, whereas I probably would have lied to make myself look better. Read what happened to Berto's $20 in Vegas here.

I did have a funny email exchange with J9, who asked me if I was going to leave something in Las Vegas. I asked her to explain, but all she said was it was supposed to be a secret. I had never heard this before -- that you are supposed to leave something in Las Vegas. But since it is supposed to be a secret I will just say that maybe I did leave something behind and maybe I didn't.

Anyway, here's my last photo from my business trip to Las Vegas, of the view of the strip from my hotel window. It's telling that I only have a couple of shots that are not taken out of the window of my hotel room, despite the fact that my boss keeps referring to my Las Vegas "vacation."



Swank? Or am I just easily impressed?


P1010317 P1010314

What happened in Vegas (part 1)

Last day of my working vacation, which ended up with a lot more emphasis on the "working" than the "vacation," unfortunately. I have a little tan, but mostly it came from a bottle of Jergen's. Seriously, how sad it that?

I didn't take a lot of pictures. But here are a few:

What'll you have?

That's Rus, the bartender at Kokomos at the Mirage. I arrived a couple of hours before check-in and the room wasn't ready, so I had no choice but to sit down and have a giant glass of wine. This is near the atrium at the Mirage -- it's actually a very pretty spot, with tropical flowers and waterscapes. For some reason I didn't get a picture of that, though.

I did get a picture of the funny "out of order" sign on the video poker game inset into the bar. It's a little blurry (it was a giant glass of wine): "Monitor soaked with alcohol. It was pouring out when the door was opened."

Two guys came to fix the machine while I was sitting there. I asked one of them if that happened a lot and he said "All the time."

I did make it to the Mirage pool for one brief visit before it closed. It was beautiful.

Mirage hotel

On my second day, I moved from the Mirage to Caesar's Palace, where the conference was. The cab line was very long, so I decided to walk with my two very heavy pieces of luggage (one on wheels, the other perched precariously on top of it). The two hotels are right next door to each other, about one city block apart. In between them there's an entrance to a shopping mall, which is part of Caesar's. It was hot and the sidewalk was kind of bumpy, so I decided to go to the hotel via the indoor mall, with its air conditioning and its smooth floors.

Twenty minutes later I was still walking.

Thirty minutes later I started to cry.

What I didn't realize was that the indoor mall twists and turns and basically goes all over Robin Hood's barn before eventually leading back to the hotel casino, then you still have to go through the casino to get to the registration desk. It was a really excellent way to start the day, walking the length of three or four football fields, dragging my luggage behind me.

Luckily, Eddy the bellman spotted me coming and rushed over to whisk my bags away and point me toward the conference halls. If he hadn't of been so damn nice to me, I'm pretty sure I would have had a total meltdown.

(Later in the week I went for a walk just to see how far out of my way I'd gone. It was maybe 50 yards from the entrance of the mall to the front doors of Caesar's Palace. Would have taken me about three minutes.)

I didn't get to check into my room until much later in the day (that whole "working" thing again), and maybe it's just because I was so tired at this point, but that damn room made me so happy. Very swank. Bigger than my living room at home. With a huge king size bed, a sofa, a chair and ottoman, a little table with two chairs, a huge flat screen television (and another smaller one in the bathroom) and a beautiful view of the pool, the mountains, and the strip.

Here's one more shot of the view ... I haven't uploaded the rest of the pics yet but the sun has come out and I am going to take advantage of it ...

Caesar's Palace

To be continued ...

The bath as television sitcom

Dear Hotel Guest,

You know the little tube of bath gel we left for you? The really small one? Do not put the whole thing in the whirlpool bath or else it will fill the entire room up with bubbles, and a scene reminiscent of that Brady Bunch episode where they put too much detergent in the washing machine will ensue.

Also, if you drain the water out of the tub in an attempt to get rid of the bubbles (which won’t work, anyway, because they are bubbles, not water) please remember to turn off the whirlpool bath. Otherwise, the jets will spray the bubbles directly in your face at a very high rate of speed, like a lost episode of I Love Lucy.


The Hotel

p.s. There is a service fee for the whirlpool bath.


Greetings from Las Vegas*

*There is a service fee for this greeting.