Monday, May 31, 2010

I used to dream about the life I'm living now, I know that there's no doubt I made it

Well, I survived. I made it back to Louisville last night about 11:15 PM a little tired and bleary. The trip to Vegas was legendary. I've been out there more times than I can count, either as a child who was sent to the top floor of Circus Circus $20 in quarters for a few hours or as an Adult who discovered better ways to spend my money.

First off, big thanx to Nate and Angela for inviting me out and arranging a hell of a trip. And a real big thanx to my date for the weekend. Not only was she gorgeous and fun, but Jill was invaluable help to the wedding crew and they all were so appreciative the I roll with such great people. I met some new people and made new friends.

And I woke up Sunday morning on the 54th floor with a beautiful view of the strip on my right and even more beautiful blond on my left.

So, the details, in so much as I can remember or feel should be shared: Decided to hop out to Vegas on UPS plane with one of the other guests. Ed and I got to the hotel about 5 AM. Unfortunately they weren't allowing such early check-ins. SO we walked the strip. There's something about Vegas that brings out the inner outrageousness in people, maybe it's that nothing seems out of place. At 6 AM we passed groups of people coming in from their night out, few very pregnant women in little-ish black dresses (seriously, you go to Vegas 7 or 8 months pregnant???), and people expunging themselves (either pissing themselves or vomiting). Ahhh Vegas... So classy. And where else can you be chilling and see a Michael Jackson imitator just stop in front of a bad and moonwalk by, right past Elvis who has a Mike Tyson voice selling grand canyon tours?

After the walk and a few drinks, the sun was high enough to make the pool seem like a good idea. Well, mostly the idea of laying down somewhere sounded like a good idea (still unable to get in a room at 9). SO, we went out by the pool where I promptly attempted to nap (I've been awake for over 24 hours by now... that how we start the trip). Wasn't easy but exhaustion helped. Finally got into a room about 1. Ed upgraded to a nicer room with a view of the Bellagio fountains. It was really nice, and the Flamingo seems to really be embracing the 60's retro design and pink color palette. For the price though, it's pretty nice and the pool is a party.

IN all fairness, it being a holiday weekend everywhere was a party. That evening I was picked up by the hot girl. She took me out to dinner at a Brazilian place and then a Cirque show. The dinner was all about meat. Unlimited amounts of turkey, lamb, steak, beef, bacon wrapped chicken... and more. The servers just come around with a piece of meat on a sword and slice you off some. Greatest dinning idea ever! After that we rolled over to MGM for KA. My first Cirque De Soleil experience. Now, they have the bar there and I thought a vodka and sprite would be a good idea. SO, the bartender asked if I wanted a small (and held up a standard small plastic cup) or a large. Well, go big or go home right?? SO I got the large. I didn't realize large meant the 32 Oz. big gulp size a la the 7-11. And even better, while he poured the vodka in we had an entire conversation... "So, ever seen KA before?" "Are you enjoying Vegas?" "Enjoy the show and check out the others" "Four score and 7 years ago our forefathers brought forth on this great..." Yes, he seriously poured that much vodka in. After adding a moderate amount of sprite and charging the $20 (not a bad deal considering) he informed me I could get a refill for $10.

So, the KA show. Amazing! They are swinging all around, some comedy thrown in, arrows shooting, sword fighting on a stage that raises, lowers, spins, and rotates from completely horizontal to completely vertical. And, the guy who gets the girl at the end wears a bedazzled body suit and sparkling thong... only in Vegas. Afterwards, we left to go meet up with the group at O'Shea's casino. I thought about getting the $10 refill but realized after the 2 hour show I still had a third of my original drink left.

SO, after more than a few at O'shea's ($2 beers are a treasure find on the strip) we went over to Margaritaville for some food and music. Hilarity ensued... we'll leave it at that. Jill and I went out for a night cap at Hard Rock. And that when I noticed a new trend in Vegas (well, new to me). They're dressing certain dealers in, um distracting, clothing. I mean, how can I be expected to count cards if there's nothing bu barely covered breasts on the other side of the table. I'm sure this is just a coincidence and the casinos' had in no way planned such things.

I finally hit the wall about 4 AM. I think I did well, 32 hours with a 3 hour nap.. mostly by the pool with thumping bass and lots of distractions.

The next morning It was time to move to my room. I hadn't originally planned to be out Thursday, and worked out well that Ed had space before the others arrived. SO about 10 or so I was up and headed to Aria. This is where Jamie became a rockstar, well I've always bee one but some one finally recognized my VIP status.

For my adult life, I've always stayed super cheap on or near the strip. $30 at Circus, $19 at hooters, that sort of thing. This time, sine the bride and groom had bought a package for Aria, I decided to splurge and stay there. Aria is the casino/hotel part of the newest mega resort on the strip, City Center. It's literally a city in itself. I had originally planned to get a strip view room, but the price to upgrade to a mountain view (ie desert) was so close I went for it. Since Nate and Angela had brought a few customers in, the Aria agreed to upgrade us if there was availability. So, I checked in, was was given a key and told to head up to room 54114. That's the 54th floor.. the top one. Once up there, I found the door marked 114... and it wouldn't open for me. The maid comes out and informs me this room was occupied. I showed her my info and she said that can't be right. When I told her I was in a corner suite, she told me there's two on this floor and asked if I was the VIP?? (I know now to always answer yes, or even reply "Don't you recognize me?" and act indignant and demand an upgrade). Turns out she had just finished making up a room for a VIP and walked me over to the door (144). Click, the door unlocked with my key, and I was not let down. See the pictures, but the room impressed the local girl, and she's not easily impressed. I know where I'm going to plan to stay in the future. There are pictures on the my Facebook, since words can't describe how awesome the room was.

Even the elevator knew you were hot if you're on the 54th floor. The rest of the floors, you get a very mechanical number, but on 54 for... "she" gets a a seductive tone, and lustily announces she's "Going down" next. And I'm not even joking!

So, the suite became known as "Studio 54" and was stocked by everyone with beer and liquor. That night we had a few and then headed out for some more fun on the strip. We ended up dancing and partying in a few places. A few of us were left back at Studio 54 for sunrise and drinks. a little after 5 AM, back to bed.

Up again about 10 AM, some more pool time. Ok, let me say this about Vegas this weekend, the amount of really beautiful women out there is incredible. I mean, DAMN! And many of them start "ho'ing" it up before noon. And then there's the classy ones (I lucked out and spent a lot of time with one of the classy ones in particular).

I had for the first time something I've been wanting to do for a while, a professional shave with a straight razor. This one came complete with a face massage, hot towel wraps, and other stuff thetas good for my skin. I was kind of nervous at first, who wouldn't be when a stranger has a straight razor in close proximity to your jugular? But it was quite nice and relaxing, with Sinatra playing on the speakers and ESPN on a flat screen above the chair... rockstar! And damn, my face hasn't been that smooth in 20 years. This might be something I have to do more often.

SO off to the wedding we went. Quick and painless (well, except maybe for Nate :-)) and then back to Studio 54 for drinks. At 8:30 the bus showed. A bus with a stripper pole. Damn!!! We cruised around Vegas... strip, old town, the whole bit. Since we didn't have a plan there was some confusion about where to go.. but we managed to have a hell of a time. Dancing (some one bearing a striking resemblance to me may have been giving lap dances.. yes giving), cocktails (we actually had to stop and buy more alcohol than the 4 or 5 bottles of liquor and case of beer we brought with us). And of course cheeseburgers! Only in Vegas does tipping the McDonalds guy seem like the thing to do (or it's a sign I need to leave soon). That's about all I can do for description of the bus ride, see the pictures for a better idea.

The next day the dream had to end. Time to go home. I've come away with great memories, some new pals, and more respect than ever for a girl I've known for 12 years and seen mature (well, sort of) into a hell of an adult. After all the anticipation of the weekend I was afraid it might not go of as well or be as amazing as I was building it up to be. I was wrong. I think everyone had a great time. And I even won gambling (not much, but it's better than losing).

I've also come back with the realization I need to stop whining so much. I got it damn good. I mean, I'm working on being the permanent VIP status and high roller who cleans out casinos at the craps table, it's a goal. And thanx to my personal shoppers (Grace and J on Monday and Jill on Friday) I looked good.

So, when are we going again??

Friday, May 14, 2010

The un-American should really stop complaining, He oughta take a trip to Disney, Get his head on right

I wonder if one can track the "coolness" of a neighborhood by the types of electronics that are used most in the local coffee shop? Or, as the sign above the door says, "microroastery and espresso bar". This is not my normal one, I went 2 blocks the other way this time. But, I'm the only Mac user in here at the moment. There are six visible laptops, and all are PC except mine. Of course, I'm not sure if I should count the older gentleman (with the long, full beard and matching hair) who has his laptop hooked up to display the x-box 360 output that he also brought with him. Occasionally he jolts up or leans to the side with controller in hand.

I suppose (or hope) he's playing in a multiplayer game online, otherwise he's just talking to himself though the headphones/mic.

At any rate being the only Mac user makes me way cooler than the rest of the people here. The other "microroastery and espresso bar" I frequent, has the inverse proportion usually. So 2 blocks is way more hipper than 3 blocks south. Too bad this one has more power outlets.

I usually don't take requests for blog subjects, I think mainly because no one ever has made a request or even a suggestion. But I have one this time, and it's a subject that has been annoying me for a while... Credit Cards.

Yes, in the true new American way, we are no longer constrained by our income in quest to obtain the material things we, as a people, are convinced we want. No, we need! Because, if we don't spend, the economy will tank, people will be out of work, babies will starve, the terrorists will win, and cats and dogs will be forced to live together.

I'm probably one of the guiltiest among us. I've been working on paying off my 20's. It looks like that was a hell of a party judging from the bills. And I had a lot of fun. I wish I had been more responsible. I was amazingly responsible for the early years, but the later changing jobs, moving, taking pay cuts years really did me in. SO I pay for it now.

But, how should you go about repairing this situation? If you pay off the cards, the banks cut your credit rating (apparently I've been told it's bad for you to not carry a balance, as long as it's small???). Then they cut down you limits at random, so if you NEED to make a big purchase you can't. But wait, if you carry a high balance, they raise your limit so you can buy more?? It also raises your credit score so you can be given even more rope to hang yourself with!

Then, as happened to me recently, they come out and say "we've re-analyzed your financial status and decided to close your account effective...". That doesn't bother me so much since I don't use that one so much, but have been working on paying it down. What get's me a little angry is the same bank (who we'll call Big CitiBanker to protect their identity) sends a "You've been pre-approved for a Visa" letter. Only, the interest rate is a little higher. So, you closed my account (that's never been late or in collection in 15 years) and offer me a new one with a higher rate.


But I suppose we have to be in debt as a society. If not, if you didn't have a house payment, a car payment, 3 Visa's, an AmEx, A Sears card, a gas card, and a Victoria's Secret card with a balance on it, why would you get up and go to work? Why would you suffer the torture of a crap job that pays you decently so you can charge the new fridge or take that trip to Disney?? Because, if you don't buy a new car or a take the trip to see the mouse, we won't be able to keep some one else in a barely-paying-enough-to-keep-their-head-above-the-debt level job. And more importantly, we won't have the money to pay millions for CEO's and to government officials to keep it going.

That may be a bit extreme, almost marxist maybe, of a view. And in reality, I think even if I was way out of debt and living financially secure, I'd probably still have a job. You can't lounge around all day, every day (I've tried). But the job would be more like hobby, when it got old I'd find something new to do. But as it stands, most of America works as indentured servants.

I should ask Congress for a bail-out. I wonder how much i would take to set everyone in the country to a $0 balance on their credit cards (not cars or houses, just cards)? I have a feeling we've already given that much away to banks.

Just a thought. I'm still pondering going out and buying a new MacBook Pro and/or iPad... on credit of course :-)

Now for lighter fare. I have the day off unexpectedly. The short story for the non-brownie types, a "manager" (and i use that term loosely) wanted to work the desk I was assigned in an attempt to remain proficient. So, I think I'm off to spend some time in a bookstore and then chill for the day. I'm working on saving some cash for a Sin City expedition. I've officially been cleared for Thursday night off and made arrangements to have a place to crash (thanx to a coworker). ANd I got this hottie that's going to donate some time. It's gonna be a great weekend! I just got to get through the next couple weeks.

And now, I'm going to start working and budgeting for a trip in July, I'm thinking maybe Roma and then a ferry trip to Tunis. Or maybe Southern Spain and ferry trip to Morocco. That's a reason for some of the book store trips, otherwise (Christine) I pick up random books and read them. I'm not really reading anything specific right now.

Till next time.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Changes in atttudes.

Looks like I have some free time and a wireless network to hop on, so why not pontificate on the randomness of the past week or so. Besides, it'll be another hour until my car is finished.

I made it back from Atlanta, mostly intact. It was a good time, and a bit pricey for fee housing and having my own car. I don't mind though, I got to spend a little time with just about everyone I wanted too. And having the full week to do it alleviated the usual rushed feeling. I also took a great deal of useful life span off my liver I think. I appreciate so much TanJoe allowing me to inhabit there house for the week. I don't think the cats cared much for having me around and hoped to have the place to themselves (maybe had a plan to invite their cat friends over for a wild party??).

(Note: Car service done, relocated to B&N to finish... train of thought interrupted)

The week in Atlanta finished up on several high notes. I spent the day Friday with Grace and played the part of "gay boyfriend". We spent the day doing "cultured" things; a walk from her apartment to the High Museum for the Allure of the Automobile exhibit. Those are some beautiful and... well, sexy cars. And it's not just the curves and visual design cues (which were obviously designed to evoke an emotional response)m but the power and mechanical craftsmanship required to put together a car by hand. No assembly lines for these beauties. I only wish I could have been around to see them cruise down Peachtree.

After admiring the cars, and a few other exhibits, we strolled over to Atlantic Station where I picked up a little something for Charity's birthday (and subsequently toted a pink bag around the rest of the afternoon) and watched Grace do some window and shoe shopping. We finished the afternoon of culture with a glass of wine at the Grape. The weather was great and the day just reinforced how much I do miss living there. It's not just the city and the ability to do such fun things almost any day (except apparently Mondays when the High is closed), but the good friends I have there.

That night we helped Charity celebrate her birthday at Loca Luna. There were tasty tapas consumed, vodka imbibed, salsa dancing, and some behaviour that really pushed the limits of the socially acceptable. SO it was a great time. I hope Charity enjoyed the soiree and, more importantly, wish her luck on her future endeavors. I think she'll have a lot of fun if she really embraces the sky muffin lifestyle.

Unfortunately, Saturday reminded me that sometimes there are consequences for fun and outlandish behaviour. I wasn't hungover so much as my old friend, pollen, showed up to kick my ass. Scratchy throat: check. Watery, puffy eyes: check. Congested sinuses: check. Mouth breather: yup!

But I was still able to spend some quality time with Jersey and catch some Brave's baseball on the big screen followed by the the derby. We were shortly joined by the lovely Genevieve before disbanding. I had to make a quick (ha!) trip to see Darci. And I wish I could have been more fun, but I was still feeling like a giant allergy with legs.

I returned the TanJoe manor to the custody of the owners and headed out Monday. And back to Louisville I came. It's kind of weird that I was happy to be back home, but I only wished the home was somewhere else. Work has taken an aggravating turn over the past week and I'm not really up for dealing with it. It's so hard to work for people who I don't believe would support you in a disagreement... even if you were correct. It's quite sad and a new thing for me. Some may say it's a sign of working for the large corporate giant, but the last large corporate giant wasn't nearly to the level of the current one. And it's the same industry.

Maybe I'll go be a sky muffin with Charity. I did miss an opportunity for a phone interview with an airline in the Middle East. The times were not conducive to me being sober and lucid. Plus I didn't get the email until too late. Next time. I'm still torn on whether I want to leave this world behind and take the big plunge to work on the far side of the planet. That's a big jump with no friends. But I keep looking. Too bad it's not Australia.

I was able to cruise up to Cincinnati Saturday to hang out with a layovered JoHnathan. The plan to go to the Reds/Cubbies game floundered when the weather took a nasty/cold turn. We're not nearly big enough fans to endure cold (without proper gear) for either of those teams. So instead we took in Iron Man 2 and imitation German beer wenches. I may have to make a return trip to Cincy one day, I kind of dug the little entertainment area and the Hofbrauhaus was really nifty. The scenery wasn't bad, and there was like oompah music (and oompah covers of your favorites). I did feel a little old given the number of people celebrating their 21st birthdays.

That brings me back to where I am right now. Having issues connecting to the free B&N wireless. Back to work tomorrow. And day shifts all week, like having a "normal" job. I'm not sure if I'm a fan or not. No, I'm sure.. I'm not a fan of this job and I'm on the look out for potential opportunities... maybe I'll go to that truck driving school down the road.

Coming up soon is a trip to Vegas. I'm sooo looking forward to the weekend. I'm going to be doing my best "baller" impression. For now, books are calling me to read them. Later.