It was hard not to italicize that whole second paragraph. Or use caps lock.

We were walking around the Palazzo this morning looking for the creepy vines [1] and wandered into the fountain courtyard. It was still early– about 11 a.m.– and only a meager handful of people were milling past (and even fewer into and out of) the shops.

So I'm standing in the middle of a wide open space, looking up and around at the architecture since the creepy vines were nowhere to be found (the shows don't start until noon) and I figured I may as well marvel over *something*, when suddenly I get plowed into (and stepped on) by a guy like three times my size. He looks at me, startled, and speechless, I look back at him, equally startled, and as this exchange of startled looks is taking place, he's demonstrating Newton's First Law by continuing on in his original direction of motion, and what's even better, the woman walking by his side's first and only words are: "Oh honey, look out."

No "I'm sorry" from the guy. No "excuse us" from the woman to make up for the guy's lack of apology. Just a concerned admonishment FOR THE OFFENDING PARTY to be careful.

Fellow tourists, take heed: when in Vegas, look out! Those little Orientals, they're just underfoot and everywhere. Could break your neck tripping over one, doncha know.

[1] I told my mom she should play the fobby English card when asking where the vine people were and call them the viney creeps.

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Why I will never go to Hair Masters again

I’m not a high-maintenance girl by most standards: I don’t get manicures or pedicures (or facials or waxing), I don’t buy expensive shoes or clothes (I actually rarely buy clothes, period) or jewelry, I don’t buy a lot of hair crap or accessories or makeup or other beauty products. The car I drive now is the car I’ve been driving for the last nine years, and I will likely continue to keep driving it until every last replaceable part can no longer be replaced. Most of the items on my credit card bills are devoted to household things and food (more grocery than dining, because I prefer to cook than to eat out).

This is less because I’m cheap and more because I’m practical. I don’t do manicures or pedicures because the way I go about my life, they would last a day, maybe two at most. I don’t care about fashion and as far as shoes are concerned, I only need five pairs: gym/running shoes, dance shoes, knee-high boots, dressy heels and flip-flops (confession: I do have a lot of dance shoes and flip-flops, but only because they’re inexpensive and this way I can keep a pair in my car, in my travel bag, etc.– just in case). I tend to lose jewelry like it’s nobody’s business so I stopped buying it, plus I rarely remember to wear the rings I do still own, the only necklace I’ll wear is the one I’ve been wearing since I was 12, and I don’t care much for bracelets. And I simply can’t bear to give up my car (okay, so this is more sentimental than practical).

That being said: since April of 2007, I’ve been dropping between $60-80 on haircuts, which I suppose isn’t entirely unreasonable (compared to, say, $200) until you consider I used to only get my hair cut twice a year for like twelve bucks. But that was when my hair was long and I only got the ends trimmed, so it was really hard for that to get screwed up but even if somehow it did, I could curl my hair or tie it back until the disaster grew itself out.

But then I cut it all off, and since I neither care to wear hats nor look particularly appealing in them, it suddenly became crucial that my hair be cut in a not-unappealing style that required little more than my wash-and-go tendencies in order to look okay. The woman who initially took my hair from shoulder-length (it was mid-back-length a week before this) to an inch-and-a-half long, Elena, did such a fantastic job that I continued to go back to her every three months for touch-ups/re-styles. And for me, the price was totally worth it. I trusted her completely– often, I’d just go to her and tell her where I wanted it taken up, and she decided everything else– and she took her time, from the time at the sink to the time at the chair (cutting, blow-drying, styling). Hair appointments with her took an hour at least, sometimes an hour-and-a-half.

The last time I had my hair cut, though, was back in September, in D.C., with a woman at Celadon. The whole affair took nearly two hours and was $90, pre-tip, but she styled it so well and was extremely pleasant and enjoyable, and over time, the price justified itself more and more (because of how she cut it, the style grew out nicely).

Cut to: recently. I’d been aching for a hair cut since late December, but I either wasn’t home or I was preoccupied with other things and never got around to scheduling an appointment with Elena. Plus, I’d received this thing in the mail from Hair Masters for $5 off any service, and having just paid for my semester tuition and books, a $10 haircut was suddenly sounding very tempting. Plus, it wasn’t like I was going to get anything fancy done; I just needed the hair in the back taken up.

So I went. I called and made an appointment for late this afternoon, and I went and the woman who was going to cut my hair was at the register taking care of her previous client customer (an, um, elderly lady) and she smiled and said she’d be just a second and told me how cute my boots are and how she’s been looking for a good pair of boots like mine. About five minutes later, she took me to her station and asked what I was looking to do.

I explained to her, I just needed the back taken up, then angled down to the front (the winged bob look, which is more or less how I’ve had it cut the last couple of times). I didn’t have a picture handy because I never take pictures to Elena and I didn’t take one to the woman in D.C., and that’s never been a problem because they usually understand where I’m trying to go with my descriptions, and if they don’t, either I end up liking what they’ve done instead so much that I don’t care, or they happily get their scisscors out again to give me the style I was originally aiming for.

But, whatever. I tell this woman what I want done, she says okay, let’s get you shampooed first. I say, actually, I just washed my hair a few hours ago, so– she says, well, I’ll at least need to spray your hair wet because there’s too much of it to cut dry. I say that’s fine (I would be skeptical if she did try to cut my hair dry, anyway).

She spritzes me like a prized plant and combs the water through, firmly arranges my head into place, then begins cutting. Snip snip here, turn my head, snip snip there, turn my head, etc. She comments, a few snips in, how she can’t stand how my hair was cut before, and at this, my heart skips a beat and I suddenly feel my hackles rising because however unintentionally, she is offending the woman in D.C., and I really liked that woman in D.C. She continues to make little comments about how pooly my hair was cut the last time, then: have you ever been here before? she asks. Oh, once, I think, maybe a few years ago[1], I respond. And five, maybe ten minutes later, she hands me the mirror. Well, that’s all fixed now. What do you think?

I look and can’t see much of a difference. It’s certainly not anything close to what I wanted. I ask, politely, could you take it up a little more in the back? and I show her with my hand about how high I want it. She replies, with entirely false cheer and forced laughter: well, I don’t want to, but I can!

She starts cutting again. I get the feeling that she’s irritated and I honestly can’t understand why. Was she offended because she felt like my post-trim request was an insult to her vision? But she’s starting to move my head into place using a little more pressure and she’s definitely not talking to me anymore, and even her snip!s sound a little angry. She pauses at one point and says, take a look at this and tell me what you think before I continue on to the other side.

I look. The side is angled right, but there’s still all this hair in the back. I explain that I want it gone. She stares at me reproachfully and snappishly informs me that what I’m describing is an entirely different style. I continue to silently and warily look at my reflection, passively resisting her. She goes on to tell me that this is an A-line something something, with layers something angled something to meet up with the sides, and so on. More passive resistance. I look at her, finally. I really don’t want that hair, I say. She huffs, says okay, and without any further words, digs through her drawer for an attachment for her electric razor, somewhat unkindly pushes my head down and begins having at the back of my neck.

And, I mean, she is *really* having at it. I suddenly envision those kids from my high school days who wore the long trenchcoats and massive army boots even when the temperatures got in the upper 90s, who shaved their heads from the neck up to the tops of their ears, but had long hair from there to the tops of their heads. I’m having heart palpitations and I’m aggressively fighting back tears because I’m so afraid that this woman is mutilating my hair, and I’m frantically making emergency mental notes to CALL ELENA as soon as I get to my car to schedule an appointment with her ASAP so she can fix me. Someone walks in– an (um) elderly guy (the other client customer in the chair next to me having her roots done is also of the elderly persuasion, so, whatever that means)– and she calls to him, I’ll be with you in just a bit, okay?, again with the false cheer, and also with a hint of exasperated apology (as though to really say: I didn’t think this chick would take so damn long). This woman, she is pissed. I watch the scene unfold in my head: she does something disastrous to me, and when I finally see it I begin weeping in horror and she spitefully sneers at me: well, that’s what you asked for. I continue to silently lose my shit as she continues to do things to my hair involving razors and scissors, and I’m afraid to look up until she is done and says: so?

I look. It’s– actually not bad. It’s actually kind of exactly what I asked her to do. I half-smile (half because I’m still unwinding from the panic attack) in approval, she cleans me off and takes me to the register, announcing to no one in particular: whew! that little girl wore me out! At the register: and that’s three haircuts for… $17. I’m still quiet, working Big Eyes and all sweet proper Asian girl politeness, and I give her the card that came in the mail, asking, do you still take this? (They do, and I know this, but I ask out of courtesy for whatever retarded reason.) More false cheer, more forced laughter: well, not for you! She takes it, applies it to the bill; I give her my card, she hands me back the card and receipt, and because I am a coward I actually apply a tip to my card charge, and then that’s that.

I leave. I check my phone. The total time I spent in her chair was under a half-hour, and it was the most stressful experience I’ve had in a hair salon in probably the last four years.

And so, I don’t care if Hair Masters offered me free haircuts for the rest of my life. I will not go back there, ever again. Even though I know that she is not the only hairstylist representing Hair Masters, that she may not be representative of overall Hair Masters customer service whatsoever. I don’t care. My hair is one of the very few things about which I am highly sensitive, and it is easily worth the $80 every three months [2] to not have to go through horrific experiences like this.

[1] Incidentally– that last time I had gone to Hair Masters some years back? I sat in the chair and (passively) argued with a woman (I don’t know if it was the same one; it very well might have been) about how the style I wanted required my hair to be parted on a different side, and according to the woman, it was not possible for me to change my part. (Fact: yes it is.)

[2] Even my mother, who is the Queen of Frugality [3], after I relayed this story to her, told me to go back to Elena and never do this again. (And fumed that the things this woman said were entirely unacceptable and she should be written up. Which I guess, in a way, she now has been.)

[3] Side note: Cheap versus frugal, written by a Stanford grad/author/really interesting guy.

CC: NDK

The conversation is fairly predictable: So, where are you from? Las Vegas. Really? That must suck. Actually, I love Vegas. You love Vegas? *Why*?

It never fails, that incredulous, sometimes even appalled final question. Why do I love Vegas? What could there possibly be to love about this place, and what kind of person would actually fall for it? (For the record, I have been getting this same reaction lately whenever I’ve told people how I’ve fallen in love with D.C.) I can’t even start to count the number of times I’ve been asked this, the number of people who have stared at me in disbelief. But why? Why Vegas? Even my own mother, half of the party originally responsible for uprooting me from Southern California and planting me in this desert chaos almost 13 years ago, doesn’t understand why it’s so hard for me to think about the inevitable day some years down the road when I’ll move away.

Why do I love Vegas? I don’t have a good answer. I never have, and I’ve been actively trying to come up with *something* these past few months, but after hours and days of mulling over the question– still, nothing. Nothing coherent. Nothing I’ve been able to put into words.

I could go on ad nauseum about all the things that are wrong with Vegas, about all the reasons most people can’t stand the place, about all the justifications for people not wanting to move here or for wanting to get away. It encapsulates every vice ever imaginable, a breeding ground for greed and gluttony and debauchery and deceit. Two years ago, I described Vegas as:

Fickle, intense, full of vices, forever changing and perhaps never for
the better. Seemingly tolerable, but deceptively so. Only short-term
value, devoid of long-term worth. Full of glamour and glitz, but it’s
all just a show. Never sleeps, and you get the feeling that one of
these days, everything is just going to burn out, shut down, implode or
explode– or all of the above, simultaneously. People valiantly try to
justify it and defend it and argue that it has potential and charm and
a lovely character all its own, but really, who are they kidding? In
the end, it’s just a desert trying desperately to be something,
anything else.

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They’re so beautiful, they could be part-time models

Okay, look here, you. I don’t "think" that the desert has some of the best sunsets. It’s just FACT. In a recent poll of scientists and engineers on campus, both practicing and aspiring, 100% of those surveyed agreed that our desert has some of the best sunsets (and sunrises, but who’s ever really awake early enough to catch a sunrise?) in the world. Scientists and engineers! These are people who live and breathe and die by facts! Facts and hard, cold data!

From Lulda Casadaga:

From cheavyarms:

From yankee artillerst:

From epsy786:

And boy howdy, you should see the desert in a lightning storm.

Love letters from Vegas, I

There’s another lightning storm out tonight. I want to say it’s a desert thing, that these storms just naturally occur more frequently in the desert, but I can’t remember where this idea came from. Was it a science show? A science book? A science article? Or just my imagination? I don’t remember a lot of lightning in San Diego, but I do remember a pleasant amount of rain. Given the choice, I’d take rain over lightning in a heartbeat, but all the same, there’s just… something… about a lightning storm in a desert. It’s like our sunrises and our sunsets and our thin, piercing winter mornings. Gifts from the sky to make up for all that’s lacking in our ground.

I washed dishes this afternoon. Not because there was an urgent need for them to be done or because the dishwasher wasn’t working, but because it calms me. (Another thing that tends to calm me is cooking– when it’s for the simple sake of cooking– which, of course, piles up dirty pots and pans, so it’s a constant cycle of zen opportunities.) I still remember the first time my mom gave in to my pleas and taught me how to wash dishes; she pulled up the green metal stool to the sink for me to kneel on so I could reach things and handed me a little plastic yellow plate. So there’s that: I had an early association of the task to quiet happiness. Washing dishes when I was a kid meant time alone with my mom, home for the time being and uncharacteristically stationary.

It means something different now, obviously. Well– no. I don’t think it *means* anything, really, these days. It’s just productive space-out time. When I wash dishes, my mind wanders off into a black hole and the resulting void of thoughts borders on a meditative feel. It’s the same tranquility that accompanies a thousand-yard-stare, except at the end of it all I have the satisfaction of knowing that I Got Something Done. Plus, there’s a quiet kind of pleasure in being able to turn dirty into clean, mess into order.

America’s Finest City of Sin

To this day, if you asked me to tell you why San Diego is such a great place and what exactly it has going for it and why anyone should want to live there, I could talk your ear off until *you* got blue in the face just listening to me. For every one reason why Las Vegas is a terrific place to call home, I could give you ten for San Diego.

It’s a funny thing, though: after I left the first time, after the first time I started settling and making a life for myself here in Vegas, I sort… "got over" San Diego. There were a hundred million things in San Diego that I missed like hell on a regular basis– to say nothing of the people in San Diego I missed with equal misery– but I was done with the city. I went back on Super Bowl weekend back in 2006 and visited friends and old favorite haunts and as fabulous as every second of that weekend was, I was acutely aware of how I had no desire whatsoever to live there anymore. And people kept pestering me all that Sunday– why didn’t I move back to SD? I didn’t have anything going on in Las Vegas at that time (I was, in fact, sending out my resume to countless companies in the Bay Area then, desperately trying to relocate *there*) and clearly San Diego was chock full of things that made me happy! But the more they pestered, the more I got annoyed and the more I strengthened my resolve to be over that city for good.

And then two months later I moved back. But that was because of a job offer that was too good to pass up– and I honestly had nothing keeping me in Vegas, had no reason to stay, had too many sensible reasons to move.

And *then* the tables turned and I had every reason to come back to Vegas and little, if anything at all, tying me to San Diego. And here I came, and here I stay. I know where I want to go in terms of a long-run career and I have a general idea of what I want to do and how to go about these next two years. This is the place for me– probably not forever, but for a good, good while.

So– I can understand that, leaving a place you love and leaving people you miss and who miss you too, leaving and not coming back even though what you left it for doesn’t really present itself as all that advantageous. Just as I can understand coming back right after you swore you never would, not again, not ever– can understand circumstances changing so that you have enough of a reason to come back, as opposed to simply not having enough of a reason to stay where you moved. I can understand all that– and I do.

That being said: I miss the Cove, Valentine’s, kayaking, the OB tide pools, Big Sonic Chill, Bogart Yogurt, my alma mater, the 992 line, Julian, that salad shop on 8th and F, Golden Hill, and– of course– Balbloa (the second "l", it’s silent). Among many, many other things. San Diego, I love you with all my heart. I’ll visit again someday.

In the rare ould times

Fado closed its doors tonight, and while I never expected to be much affected in the ways of emotion by this, ever since the band finished its last set and people slowly started to filter out of the pub– for the last time– I’ve been in a daze.

It’s true that Fado isn’t closing for good, just re-locating (and it’s not even an independent business, I know)– but for me, and, I expect, for a lot of people, everything that Fado has represented to me these last few years *is.* And that’s hard to swallow.

I celebrated three Halloweens, two St. Patrick’s Days and two New Year’s Eves at Fado, and for over a year, I was there nearly every Friday and Saturday night. Taking my first drink occurred in that pub, as did my first experience in getting too drunk to be considered capable of operating heavy machinery (read: driving myself home). On more than a few occasions did I not leave that place until after 3 a.m.; I was on a first-name basis with the managers, the bartenders, most of
the servers, and the people working the door– to say nothing of the
volume of relationships (most friendships, others– a little more) I
developed with the rest of the people in there.

Fado was never just an establishment for me– how can I convey this properly? Contained within those walls are more memories than I could ever count, memories of things that either took place inside there or memories of other events that are chain-linked to something that took place inside there. A year-and-a-half of my life centered around either that pub or people I had met there– or both. The shape and trajectory of my world, then, was both directly and indirectly influenced by Fado.

And then, a year-and-a-half ago, that disappeared. To gloss– there was a shift in circumstances which resulted in the awarding of Fado– and most all of what it implied– to the other party. I was suddenly left with a lot of bewildering empty spaces, forced to look for new materials with which to rebuild my world and create from it a new life. It was painful and hard as fuck-all, and to this day I still have leftover empty spaces which I do not think will ever be refilled.

I’ve gone to Fado since that shift, obviously– but it’s always been with other people under a different dynamic. Tonight, however– it was almost like being back in that old world. There were some differences which couldn’t be avoided, but for the most part, I was surrounded by those same people in that same comfort and familiarity. At the end of the night, my eyes drank in every last detail, even though I’ve spent so much time in there that I know that place by heart and down to inches. I stood by one of the tables, staring at the half-cleared stage, thinking, this is exactly where I stood one month shy of three years ago, on the night that would change my life beyond reckoning.

And so for this to be the last night of Fado inside GVR, for this to be the last night of the band playing at Fado– it’s like losing everything, all of that, all over again. Easier this time around, one might say, since I’ve lost it all before and at least this time, my rebuilt world is still intact and in full existence; one might say that and be entirely correct. But the truth of the matter is, losing something you love, or loved, be it for the second or fifth or hundredth time, is never easy. And always, always a little sad.

Restaurants: Himalayan Cuisine

Not a whole lot to say [1] about Himalayan Cuisine, mostly because I don’t know how accurate, overall, our experience there is considering we were there for lunch, didn’t feel like spending an hour narrowing down choices from the menu, and therefore opted (opted out?) for the lunch buffet. Which had been set out over an hour before we had arrived and which I can only presume doesn’t ever get… um… "refreshed."

The nice thing about lunch buffets is, it’s a great way to sample a slew of different dishes and get a better idea of which ones you like and don’t like, and super on the cheap. It’s not listed on their menu or their website or anywhere in the actual restaurant so far as I saw, but the lunch buffet at HC is about $10 ($9.99 on a technicality, if I remember correctly) per person.

The not-nice thing about lunch buffets is, as noted above, they are not necessarily maintained, especially if there isn’t enough traffic to warrant it. There were four other people in there when we walked through the door and no one came in after us the whole time we were there, so… yeah.

Continue reading

Rock-step like a rock star

My first workshop was today and, oh, now I *really* can’t wait until CH.

Covered: int. Lindy combinations, aerials (which were *fabulous*), jam circle moves and ’20s Charleston. I faceplanted it on the (concrete!) floor in the third class– actually, more like boobplanted it, since my face never hit, and my knee probably won’t let me forget that for a good week. My thighs are pretty snippy with me right now, too, what from all the squat-preps for being projected through the air, which, seriously? I loved so much. Reminded me of all the years I spent obsessively adoring the world of gymnastics.

Memorable quotes: "Don’t be a fish!", "So it’s one-two-goosh; really try and get that goosh," and "So, question: do we rock-step like we’re rock stars?"

And now it’s into the shower, off to take care of some errands, then out for an evening of good times with great people. And if I get my way, there’ll be a late-night run to Prada ‘bertos involved for some luxury breakfast burritos.

Restaurants: Origin India

A friend took me to Origin India today for lunch– it’s close to the campus, off Harmon at Paradise, and class today just consisted of our first exam, so we both got out early, giving us even more time.

The restaurant was a little empty, but that might just be a lunchtime thing– I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case, though I also wouldn’t be disappointed if it weren’t, since that means I could go for dinner or on the weekend and not have to deal with a packed house.

Something Wendy wrote not too long ago about the service in Chinese restaurants made me smile because it’s true so far as I’ve experienced, too:

[They want] a good turnover rate at their tiny little restaurant (smaller = less
rent for them). No, they will not seat you, they will not smile and ask
you how you are doing today, but they will bring your check along with
your food so you pay and leave soon. This is how it is. If you are
there for the customer service, then too bad. (full post here. I am in love with the post title.)

At every Indian restaurant I’ve been to so far (though again, the majority of those being in Japan), service has been exceptionally prompt and courteous. No servers hovering impatiently to take our order, but also no having to flag someone down three times to get a refill of water. And I don’t know how they managed to get our food (in two courses, appetizer and entree) to our table so quickly, but they did, and it was beautiful. (I was hungry. And I’d had Indian food on the brain for a good 14 hours by then.)

For an appetizer, we had the "Crunchy Bhajia," shredded spinach, onion and potato battered and deep-fried; for the entree, I had the "Aloo Nazakat," which was like curry, except instead of curry, it was coconut milk and yogurt, which sounds kind of strange and it *was* surprisingly sweet– almost dessert-y– but I enjoyed it. And it came with a salad, basmati rice and naan (which. was. fabulous).

She ordered the "Aloo Masala" kebab roll, which I couldn’t picture in my head for the life of me because I kept getting stuck on the word "kebab," which made me think of "shish kebab," which made me think of little tiny pieces of food on a skewer, and I guess also the word "roll," which I automatically assigned to "sushi." Turns out it’s more analagous to a burrito– food (in this case, potatoes) rolled up inside a piece of paratha, a naan alternative. I had a bite; it was good, but I was mostly marked by the paratha– it’s kind of like flatbread, except… more gluten-y? I don’t know bread terms. Chewier, but not dry and not in an over-kneaded, bubble-gum-esque way.

The interior of the restaurant was really nice, too– not chintzy or kitsch, but tasteful, almost subtle. The lighting (or lack thereof?) was comfortable and the chairs are really, really pretty. And the menu! The menu is divided into two subsections for each major section (appetizers, specialties, entrees): vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Talk about intuitively helpful.

I’m not an Indian food fanatic, but it is good to know that I have somewhere reliable to go whenever I get a craving. And– bonus! Hotel industry workers and UNLV students (or owners of a UNLV RebelCard… ::cough::Sarah) get 10% off.

(Double bonus: a frozen yogurt shop is due to open soon two doors down from the restaurant. YES!)