Da Bitch is Back!Hellooooo, my darlings! Didja miss me? I sure missed you!
I'm a little torn as to how to catch up, here... part of me is leaning toward a blow-by-blow travelogue; another part is leaning toward a vignette style, in which I expound on random observations made and ideas formulated over the last week.
Look this over while I make up my mind:
Okay, vignettes it is!
This story is going to be mostly about Caroline... not just because she was my travelling companion, but because she tends to be the center of any group she finds herself in. She's just built that way.
Caroline is a gay man trapped in a woman's body. Or to be more specific, she's a tall blond circuit boy and agressive top with pederastic tendencies impolitely crammed into the form of a medium-sized Asian girl. She's a performer, always drawing attention to herself; she tends to be a little more self-centered than may be desired, but balances this with a sincere desire to be likeable; she's massively insecure, but covers it with a lot of quite convincing bravado; she desperately seeks men with traits that are mutually exclusive (ie, very young and yet emotionally mature, extremely vain but not self-centered, generous with their time and also with money), and so wastes a lot of time in delusional relationships... but she has a lot of fun with them and shares her experiences broadcast with her friends. And she is trying to grow, which is the most important thing anybody can do.
Caroline is, in many ways, the yin to my yang... or is it the other way around? Where I am introverted, she is extroverted; where I am cautious, she is heedless; where I am hesitant, she is impulsive; where I am serene, she is manic; where I am fearful, she is brave; where I am lazy, she is obsessive; where I am thoughtful, she is talkative; where I am oblivious, she is intent. We sort of fit together with our opposite traits. We also have certain things in common, of course, generational references and language skills and intellectual depths which allow us to communicate with each other, but the real interest and catalyst of our relationship lies in how un-alike we are.
Ours is an interesting relationship, the longest-standing friendship I have. I give her a shoulder to lean on, someone to depend on and a place of quiet when the going gets rough, and absolute mountains of advice. She allows me to be a mentor, to impart my 'widsom' to someone, to get out of my own petty troubles by helping to solve someone else's; and she gives me a view into a life very much unlike my own (a life of clubs and dating and straight boys and looks and ambition), which is unbelievably valuable to a writer.
I met Caroline in sophomore year in high school. She was dating Stephen, an old acquaintance of mine from junior high (who, in an interesting turn of fate, I later introduced to my best girlfriend, Eva... and now they're married to each other, and have two children and live in San Leandro). We met on the steps into the Student Common at Oakland High; Stephen introduced us; I commented on her single fringed-and-studded black leather glove (a Prince-ly affectation, from before he was Formerly), she commented on my Diet 7-Up (I was terrifically thin already, but I liked the taste of saccharine...this was pre-Nutrasweet-era). She started complaining about not having a locker, and I said I'd had a locker assigned to me when I registered, which I had thought was the norm (apparently not... but I had connections in the administration, my cousin Ella was the Attendance Secretary). I offered to share my locker with her, and that was the beginning of a nineteen-year friendship.
We haven't been constant companions all that time, of course, as we both grew at different speeds and in different directions, but for the last seven or eight years we've been very close. But in all the years we've known each other, we've never travelled together. At the end of sophomore year, we went to Santa Cruz for our class trip (and "scoped' a lot of boys, as we used to say)... but other than that, we've never gone anywhere together. So we decided that we'd do something with my vacation... and that something was a trip to Disneyland!
Scopin' the Boys
When Caroline and I aren't talking about Caroline or me, we people-watch: this is the main and most important thing we have in common. We make disparaging remarks (which we think are terribly witty) about ugly or badly-dressed or simply amusing people, we discuss the styles and fashions displayed by passers-by... and most importantly, we ogle young men. Any trip away from home features lots and lots of new faces and physiques to peruse, and Caroline and I had a great time on this trip watching the boys go by.
We even came up with a classification system to alert each other to objects of desire without being too obvious, which is based on the stages of frog life, dedicated to Oleander, Caroline's new and very expensive enameled bronze frog that she spent over an hour buying at Downtown Disney while I was complaining and bitching and sulking outside like a straight boy. The system is thus:
Something interesting that we learned on this trip: when Caroline (and most other people, I think) sees someone hot, she fantasizes about having sex with him; I, on the other hand, do not. I have sensual fantasies about touching and tasting, and am usually sexually aroused by the sight of them, but I very seldom actually think about sex when I see these boys. The Bull-Frogs are pretty much the only ones I have actual sexual fantasies about, although in these fantasies I am usually a Pollywog (hey, it's my fantasy, I can be anyone I want to).
This was my first time flying since the 9/11 Tragedy and its concomitant security scare, and I was somewhat concerned about the heightened security measures. I was, however, prepared for them. I knew to not bring certain things with me, such as pen-knives or nail-scissors or letter-openers; also to not wear hard-soled shoes or excess jewelry or whatever else might set off a metal-detector. I also took the precaution of dressing in red, white, and blue (okay, I didn't really do that on purpose to thwart any profilers in the airport, but simply because I had these new white jeans and a new red sweater, and the blue t-shirt seemed to be the best thing to go with them). Whatever I did, it seemed the right thing... I sailed right through security without getting wanded or having to remove my shoes or doing anything one hadn't always done at the security check.
Of course, we had scheduled our arrival early enough on a weekday that we'd have plenty of time to get through any security snags, arriving at the airport at 8:45 for a 12:30 flight. So we spent the rest of the morning people-watching... and I do believe that airports are the best people-watching places. Most people in airports are intent on their own business, and so they don't notice the odd couple in the lounge watching their every move. Plus, aiports are noisy, so you don't have to speak conspiratorially or even quietly when vocally admiring or disparaging the passing show.
It was our considered opinion, after three solid hours of seeing women whose pants didn't hang right, that not enough people take the time to see what they look like from behind. I don't know how many women we saw, young and old and in-between, who were otherwise quite well-dressed but whose butts were flat and/or saggy and their clothes did nothing but accentuate the flatness and sagginess. It was very sad.
So here's our advice, free of charge: always bring a compact mirror with you when clothes-shopping, and check the rear view before you buy the pants. You owe it to yourself, as well as to any bored onlookers you might walk past in an aiport.
Of course, the return trip was different: John Wayne Airport in Orange County is a very different proposition from the Oakland International Airport. It's bigger, and beige-er... Oakland's terminal is all dark grey and purple and industrial-looking, but Orange County's looks like a shopping mall with barrel-vaulted ceilings and stone tiles and sand-colored carpets.
Also, on the return trip, we had to check some luggage (we'd shopped a good deal), and that took bloody forever (though the baggage clerk was cute enough to make up for the wait, and the guy in front of us in line was a certified A-number-one hottie). Then we went through security, and once again I sailed right through in a red-white-and-blue outfit (actually, to be terribly specific, it was brick-cement-and-slate — menswear tends to come in colors that all sound so butch, like building materials). Unfortunately, Caroline clogged up the works with her bronze frog Oleander and her end-of-vacation grumpiness. The security people quite rightly stopped and searched her purse when the x-ray showed a large oddly-shaped chunk of metal encased in bubble-wrap, and her snippy attitude made it worse (security people given attitude, like CHiPs who pull you over for speeding, delight in delay).
Adding this security delay to the time I spent waiting for her to make up her bloody mind about buying the frog in the first place, and then the amount of time out of the way when we had to go back to the gallery because the Certificate of Authenticity hadn't been signed, that frog was rather more trouble than I thought it was worth... though in all fairness, if we hadn't gone back for the Certificate, we wouldn't have seen those four amazingly hot Italian sailors when we stopped for coffee and beignets immediately afterward at the Jazz Cafe Bakery, and then we were so early to the airport that we had more than too much time to kill.
At any rate, we got through the whole thing. The flights themselves were painless, being rather short. And I still love hanging out in aiports... it's too bad you can't hang out there without being a ticketed passenger. Not that I ever did, but it's something I could see doing as a retirement hobby. Oh, well. I guess I'll just have to resort to plan B... hanging out at the Baths.
The Disneyland Resort
Remember when there used to just be Disneyland? Then there was Disney World, which grew and grew until it became Epcot Center, and EuroDisney came and tanked and went, and then there was Disneyland in Japan (which seems to be going well). But through all that, the old original Disneyland just sat there, the same as ever, a new attraction every now and again but pretty much an unchanging institution. In the deathly-dull city of Anaheim, there was Disneyland, the Disneyland Hotel, a bunch of motels around Disneyland, some Denny's, and absolutely nothing else.
But now that's different. Anaheim is still a vast nothing of urban sprawl, but Disneyland itself has morphed and grown into the vast and lavish Disneyland Resort, containing not only Disneyland (the classic, largely unchanged since my last visit seven years ago) and the expanded three-tower Disneyland Hotel, but also Disney's California Adventure (a more self-conscious attempt at an Amusement Park), the Disney Grand California Hotel (a larger and more luxurious model), Downtown Disney (a lavish open-air mall of theme restaurants and posh shops), off-site parking connected by trams, a bus service that connects to all of the area hotels, and what appeared to be a Disney-owned power system that runs the whole thing in spite of California's energy shortage.
It was pretty damned amazing. I'll go into more detail about this when I get the pictures back, perhaps I'll post a new page as an album in my domain. But in general, the Disney California Adventure was okay, it had some great rides, but it was a trifle boring. It lacked that strange magic that Disneyland possesses, where you completely exit the real world and find yourself in this strange alternate reality of clean bathrooms and spotless sidewalks and story-book fantasy and amazing detail and incredibly hokey but nevertheless exciting amusements. The California Adventure had more and cleaner bathrooms, and most of the rides had that trademark Disney not-too-scary-ness about them, but you never had that sensation of being outside of the real world. Perhaps it's because I grew up in California, and so it's all too real for me? I don't know. But the main rollercoaster, California Screamin', was absolutely fantastic, while the rest of the rides were kind of lame; and the whole place is riddled with the most groan-making puns in the names of the rides and the shops and the food concessions. Let's put it this way: the highlight of California Adventure was meeting the chicest young Cruella DeVil ever; the highlight of Disneyland was the entire place.
Final analysis: I had a great time. Total value for money. I recommend it to all my friends. It's better than Soylent Green!
Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig
I'm so glad to be home! I had a great time, but having a great time is so utterly exhausting! When I got back Friday, I was so done in I could barely summon the energy to blink. I've been lounging on the sofa ever since, essentially unable to move or to manage any mental stimulation more exciting than HBO. I was drained.
What struck me as odd, though, is how SAME everything was when I got back. Everything was in exactly the same place as I had left it four days earlier. Even Grandmother was sitting in the same chair in the same robe, watching the same TV station. It was sort of startling. Like the opposite of that feeling when you wake up in a strange place and can't figure out where you are... instead you wake up in the same place and wonder why nothing is different. Even here at work, with the exception of all the massive blog-reading I had to do to catch up with everyone's doings and writings, it's been pretty much the same old grind. Since the office has been closed all the time I was gone, everything is exactly as I left it Friday before last (with the exception of the large stack of mail, huge volume of emails, and vast number of phone messages...none of which I have to do anything about until Boss-Lady returns on Friday).
Talk about being in a rut. But I got out of my rut for a few days, and that's all I needed to learn to appreciate my own little rut just that much more. Ruts are so comfortable and soothing, after all.
More later... I am tired and hungry and have to go home. Talk to you soon!