27 February 2008

My First Fight

I went to my first Muay Thai fight Saturday. There were 28 fights scheduled, beginning at 4:30. The fighters were all at Master Toddy's, which is where I train. Eight or nine of my fellow students were fighting, including one of my sparring partners. She actually won her fight. I was impressed, because she couldn't even show me how to wrap my hands last week. That has nothing to do with fighting, but still.

The fights started right on time, and all of the bouts were sanctioned by the Nevada Athletic Commission. Everything was authentic. There was an announcer. There were ring girls. There were judges. There was a lot of duct tape, sweat, and body odor. Ladies & gentlemen, we had fights.

Between the fighters, their entourages, their friends, families, and people like me who just wanted to see, there were at least 452 people there. The fighters were not all from Las Vegas, and all of the Las Vegas fighters were out of my gym. There were fighters from Delaware, Florida, Texas, California, and other places. There were students from at least two other training facilities here in Las Vegas. One of those facilities was Hyena Muay Thai / Xyience Training Center. It's a mega gym that teaches Mixed Martial Arts and apparently a lot of tradition. Every one of their fighters came out in what I can only assume to be traditional Muay Thai gear, and they did what I can only assume to be a traditional Muay Thai blessing. I recorded it just for you.

All of their fighters did deliver though. There were a lot of good fights. Overall I think the girls put on better shows than the guys. I guess girls are angrier. I learned a lot just by watching. For instance, cardio is key. A lot of fighters came out kicking and swinging -- for thirty seconds. They then had to rely on the ropes or hope their opponents were just as tired as they were. A fight can be won by keeping control of your breath.

The next fight is in April. I won't be on the card, but I promise to bring Jesse, Kate, and all my single girl friends. Fighters can make good eye-candy.

25 February 2008

Now We're Washing With Water

I was supposed to call maintenance first thing this morning. But maintenance was closed when I was ready to call, and I promptly forgot. By the time I remembered, it was after noon. So I was not surprised when I came home to a still broken sink. I was, however, surprised by the pounding on my door just before 5:30. There were two maintenance people. And they apologized for knocking so loudly.

I left them alone for few minutes, and then I got curious. One maintenance man fixed two problems. My dishwasher was apparently draining improperly. That's nice to know after 2+ years. He replaced the faucet altogether. We were upgraded to a brushed metal single faucet, instead of a faucet with external knobs. No, it's not the exact same color as the sink. Yes, that will bother me slightly. No, I'm not sure I'll get over it.

While the one man was fixing, the other was going and getting and coming back, but mostly just standing there. The fixing man laughed at me for taking pictures. Then he asked my age. I told him, and he said "Oh good, because we can't be here if you're underage." The fixing man and the standing man agreed I look really young. I would say it was them, but a girl in kick boxing last week asked me what high school I go to. This has never happened to me before. Maybe Jesse aged me.

24 February 2008

Seriously: What Do You Do When...

This is our kitchen sink. It usually has a faucet. Today is obviously a different day.

There I was, washing my grapes, when the water pressure just pushed the faucet away from the rest of the sink. I turned the water off immediately, but turned it back on so you could kind of be in the moment with me.

The faucet fell into the sink. I tried to place it, push it, and twist it back into place. Apparently I underestimate our water pressure. It's kaput. My mother advised me to turn off the water under the sink. I told her that clearly sounded like the job of a boyfriend or a maintenance person. I have neither with me at the moment. So it will stay until tomorrow. I mean I could do it. But whether I turn off the water or not, I can't use the faucet. So it can wait. I don't need a sink to watch the Oscars and eat popcorn.

Also of note tonight: the largest grape of my life. I love grapes, in a mildly unhealthy way. Yes. I will eat them until (and after) I am sick to my stomach. I do not ever recall seeing a grape this big. I thought it was worth sharing, and eating.

Pictures From Thailand

Jesse & Jay have been gone for almost two weeks. They have sent back eight (8) pictures. I can take more pictures than that driving home from work. I'll give them some credit though, they did pose with tigers.

They went to the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi, where Buddhist Monks are supposedly caring of them. The tourism website says the tigers walk around and are led to tourists, who then take pictures of them. This is a picture from the website. It appears as though the people can't get too close, and Jesse got much closer. But it also looks like the tigers can walk. Jesse's account was slightly different:

T.T. stands for Tiger Temple. It also stands for tourist trap. It's a buddhist temple that started housing orphan tigers cubs. 300 Baht / 10 dollar admission. STEEP! 1000 Baht / 30 dollars for a special photo with the tiger. WOW! These are more like Vegas prices. Considering the amount of visitors coming in, this should be very lucrative. I didn't see any of the monks wearing Rolex's but their Orange Robes very well may have been Armani.
They would like everyone to think that the peace of the monks and Buddhist happy magic keeps the tigers so docile but I would say it's more medication. These tigers were drugged. I've seen cats lounge around in a hot day and not move much but these tigers' had limp heads. So during my special photo, they sat me down, picked up the Tigers head and placed in my lap. Then they take your camera and shoot a bunch of pictures with it. The tiger was breathing heavily and I got to pet it. It was very cool and very unforgettable. But I still felt bad for the Tiger's condition, they looked like Lucy any given Saturday morning on the couch snoring after a booze and burrito binge.

There was another area that we stopped at for free where you could pet tiger cubs. That was cool as well.
And as for the pictures, There's a link to all eight on the right. But this one is my favorite. I like it because even though that tiger is not interested in Jesse, he looks scared. And a little chubby. I love it.

21 February 2008

The Best Part

I left out the best part of Saturday; Jesse called me from Thailand. I knew it was him as soon as the "unavailable" ring tone sounded. I think we talked for less than five minutes before his minutes expired. I think he just dialed and put in a lot of change. He said hardly anyone there speaks English, and that any woman who does is presumably a prostitute. He also told me that they rented mopeds, and went to a temple to see some "rescued" tigers. I told him we were doing well, and of course that I missed. And of all the fun things I did on Saturday, that was the highlight.

20 February 2008

Busy, Busy Me II... And Jesse

You might have already forgotten, but this past weekend lasted three days for a lot of people. I was not one of them. In fact, I only had one day off from work.

I worked Sunday, to fulfill the trade that allowed me to snowboard with Jesse. Working a weekend has its pros and cons. There are fewer people to deal with, so it's easier to focus. But there are also fewer resources, so you have to use them wisely. And in my case, it was the start of a six day work week. Boo.

After work, I met Mike, Tab, & the IC group for dinner. They were staying at the Rio, so we decided to eat at the Rio. They chose McFadden's, which is billed as the "wildest Irish pub on earth." Not only did we wait nearly an hour to be seated, the table at which we sat had been empty and visible the entire time we were waiting. In the bar, there were two pianos. At those pianos were two piano players who apparently did not know a single Irish song. We made requests. They were denied. Instead, people walking into the "wildest Irish pub on earth" were lured in with songs by Journey, Lionel Ritchie, and Otis Reading. Wild? No, not at all.

The food was also less than stellar. The Las Vegas McFadden's is apparently new and I do not see it lasting very long. I know I refuse to go back and I refuse to let you make the same mistake.

Monday was a holiday, if you don't work in retail or news. It was business as usual for me all day, until I went to kick boxing. My Muay Thai Academy was closed. I didn't even think to call. The business isn't owned by an American, why would it be closed for Presidents' Day? Logically, it made sense. I came home from work, changed into my uniform, and went. I was back home less than a half hour later, in need of a new plan. I ended up fighting rush hour traffic to get to the mall, only to get a text from Jesse, saying he was online and ready to chat. Harrumph.

We did get to chat that night, and he sent a detailed email about his trip so far.

Everything I read about taxis from the BKK airport said to use the public taxi line. Those cab drivers are certified by the city and have been employed 5+ years by the cab company. On our way to the public taxi stand you are bombarded by the private taxis. "Hello, Where are you going!" or "Taxi, Anywhere, Cheap!" We dodged them and finally made it to the taxi line. They have an english speaking dispatch person who writes on a ticket where you want to go. It took us 30 minutes to get to the station and cost about 15 dollars. There was hardly any traffic that time of night. We were trying to ask the cab driver if the station was open and gave up after 20 minutes of phone calls to his friends. We browsed the market next to the Train station It was around 3:30AM. Hundreds of people were working at their stands preparing food, cutting their fish, grinding their coconuts, and what not.

There was security at the station. We hung out their for about two hours and practiced some Thai phrases. Jay was thumbing through is book and starting laughing out loud. He then points to two phases in his guidebook and I read them out loud.

It helps if you have a sense of humour.

Nevermind, I will do it myself.

I didn't think it was all that funny and gave it back to him. He then pointed to the sidebar on the book. The phrases were located in Category 'Romance', subcategory 'Sex'.

Jesse and Jay are now on the island of Ko Phangan. I hear if you Google "ko mah," you'll see the view from their Internet cafe. Ko Mah is attached to Ko Phangan by a sandbar. I'm not sure how they get across, but Jesse did tell me he lost my superior and most comfortable flip flops. So maybe they walk.

And thus concluded my "holiday" weekend. There was a lot of fun, a lot of food, a lot of friends, and I got to talk to Jesse. It was almost like Christmas.

18 February 2008

Busy, Busy Me I

Without any more delays, here I am. First I was busy, then there was what Cox Cable called an "Internet outage." So you can blame Cox for not getting this update yesterday.

My plan to not miss Jesse is almost working. I've been going to bed later than recommended, sleeping through the night, and having zero down time. I actually am busy to the point of exhaustion. But it just makes the times that I do miss Jesse more intense. They come suddenly and are almost suffocating. I have overwhelming feelings of longing when I just want to be with him, whether it's here or there. And then I snap out of it. I don't have time to feel sorry for myself. I'm just too busy. Here's what I've been doing:

After work on Friday some of the girls and I went to happy hour at Maggiano's. We gossiped, and poked fun. Sometimes it seems like work is just fodder for happy hour. And the more friends you have, the more you can piece together about what's really happening.

Anyway, we went from appetizers at Maggiano's, to pizza at Nikki Lee's. It was Kate's recommendation and it was delicious. If you ever go there, try to get Joanne as your waitress. She's not much of a people person, but she's funny to watch. We should have called it a night then, instead we went to Body English. It wasn't until after we stopped to get make up for Lucy, found a way to skip the line, and complained about free champagne, that we realized it was late, and we were tired.

I went to my first co-ed baby shower on Saturday. I've been to a shower thrown by women for a guy, but this was my first time at a shower for a woman, hosted by a man. That man is Kash, and that shower was fun. It was for Suni. She's a photographer who had to put down her camera (tripod, and other equipment) to wait for her baby to cook. Suni may not love being indoors all day, but it's allowed a lot more people to get to know her. And I'm all for social networking.

I had a really good time at the shower. There were the traditional games, twisted to be more "guy" & "news" friendly. The food was delicious, and there were even healthy choices - so I could wash down my pizza with grapes, strawberries, and watermelon. Yummy. It was a rare opportunity for people who work in different parts of the newsroom to get together, all thanks to Suni, Dave, and their baby.

After the shower, I met up with Tab, Mike, & other Ithaca College Alumni visiting from Los Angeles. We met at the Palms, and while Mike stretched $20 in a $.05 video poker machine, Tab & I discussed what is and isn't new in our lives. Just before 11, my fabulous lifestyle caught up with me, and I went home and went to bed.

14 February 2008

It's The Little Things

Jesse has arrived in Bangkok. He sent an email this morning at 10:37 Las Vegas time. It was 81 degrees there.

I took Jesse to the airport Tuesday night. He flew to Los Angeles to meet up with Jay and they left Wednesday afternoon, on China Airlines Flight 5. It's now Thursday, and it's been a long three days.

On Tuesday, I tried not to think more than five minutes ahead. I went to work. I had lunch. I worked some more. I went home. Jesse had a mess on the couch. Jesse rolled the mess up into two little bags. Jesse asked me to squeeze sunscreen into 3 ounce bottles. Lucy came home. I took some pictures. Jesse & I went for a drive...

But soon he was five minutes from being gone. And all I could think to do was nag.

I asked him if he'd remembered to pack everything I knew he had already packed. I raised every safety concern and gave every warning I could imagine. If Jesse listens to me, he won't eat any beef, chicken, or eggs. He won't talk to strangers or jump off of anything too high or go on any adventures without a proper English-speaking tour guide. Yes. I warned him against all possible fun. Fortunately he won't listen. Hopefully he'll play it a little safe.

After dropped Jesse off, I stopped to get gas and Lucy and I watched TV. Nothing abnormal or sad there. But I woke up looking for him, and I checked my phone out of habit. If Jesse's out late, he sends me a text because - if you haven't noticed - I worry.

I went through Wednesday making a lot of plans. I figure pushing myself to exhaustion will keep me from waking up in the middle of the night. I talked to Jesse right before he boarded. I was a little sad, but almost equally excited. I pouted, but didn't cry. And my friends helped keep me moving along.

After work, I started one of the things on my list: Muay Thai lessons. I'm joining a fighting academy and could be ready for the octagon is another year or two. I met with a Master and for an hour he let me kick and punch him. It was awesome. First I was scared to hit him. I don't go around hitting strangers. Then he taught me how to add power to my hits and it was extremely empowering. I got a good workout, learned some new tricks, and left feeling accomplished. I'll let you know if I'm about to change careers and become a cage-fighter.

Then I checked the mail and saw a card from Jesse's parents. I welled up, thinking he missed it. I know. I'm so dramatic. I took pictures of the card and I'm going to email them. So he'll get the card just a little bit after I did.

I think I'm going to find a lot of little things that make me miss Jesse. But I'll be too busy to be sad. We had a little event at work for Valentine's Day, so that made the day go by quickly. Also, I went back to Muay Thai today. I'm exhausted.

13 February 2008

My Snowy Valentine II

Jesse (having napped extensively on Sunday) woke up before the sun on Monday. He went out to see what a business day brought to Cedar City. He wasn't gone long. He filled up the car with gas, and went to the grocery store -- basically visiting the only businesses that were open. I got an orange muffin and orange juice out of the deal, so I couldn't complain.

We eventually had a real breakfast at Denny's, then went back up the mountain. We had planned to snowboard all day. But then we decided it would be too tiring. But then we thought anything else would be too boring. So snowboarding it was. We filled out the waivers, got fitted for boots and boards, and learned that I am "goofy - footed."

To be goofy, one must rely on one's left foot. As in I use my left foot to pedal a scooter, or if someone pushes me from behind, I use my left foot to stop myself from falling. I thought Jesse made that last part up just to push me, but the guy behind the counter corroborated.

Naturally we went to the super-baby-bunny-slope. I've never locked my feet together and slid you know. And while Jesse would have had us all believe he's a snowboarding master, he hadn't done it since I've known him -- and I have known him a long time. But he showed me what to do, and was a good teacher. I clicked my boots in place, slid down the pre-super-baby-bunny-slope, and fell. It's just not natural. But I (Jesse) picked myself up and tried again.

I don't think it took me long to get comfortable sliding and eventually falling. I got to a point where I didn't have to fall to stop, but I never got the hang of turning myself or "carving," as Jesse called it. He got bored and went up the lift to the "First Time" slope. He did that twice before insisting that I was ready to do it. I insisted I most certainly was not. But Jesse out-insisted me. And it was the officially beginning of the end.

Going up the lift was fine, although I can't say I've ever been on anything so high without any safety precautions. I thought that was a little reckless. I fell getting off, because the instructions were not clear to me. I stood up, clicked in, and tried to stop to take a picture. Instead I just started to go. I quickly realized Brian Head expects a lot out of those on the "First Time" slope. There was a lot of slope and not a lot of "first time" flat areas. I quickly threw myself to the ground -- under the guise that I needed to take a picture. In reality, I was beginning to panic.

Once down, I couldn't get up. Jesse was already down a bit waiting for me and eventually he had to come back up to set me upright. Then he "sent"me to one side of the slope. I was supposed to be heading to the side, but I knew I was heading down. I leaned and leaned and threw myself to the ground. A line had formed just off of the lift. It was made up entirely of people waiting for me to get out of the way. Embarrassing? You have no idea.

Tempers were flared. Tones were raised. Shouts were whispered. Blame was passed. Labels like "chicken s***," and "quitter" were placed. And we were only about a quarter of the way down.

Eventually Jesse believed me that it was OK to go on without me. He was not in comfortable cozy snow pants and as he was sitting in the snow waiting for me, he was cold and wet. I had spent so much time dragging my hands and pushing myself up, that I couldn't feel my hands. I needed to warm them and ring out my gloves. We were just not in the same place, and he snowboarded off in a huff.

It took me a long time to get down the slope, but I did it. And I did not have to do it on my butt. I got some good speed, learned to control my upper body better, and got really close to learning to carve. I also had some cartoon-like falls, where I really thought I could turn into a giant snowball. I was so excited when I got down. I mean I wouldn't go back up to the top, but I was ready to rip the super-baby-bunny-slope apart! However my grumpy instructor had already given his stuff back. So we wrapped up our weekend, and headed home. It was fantastic

11 February 2008

My Snowy Valentine I

You might have noticed Jesse is leaving February 13th. He'll be spending Valentine's Day with (travel companion) Jay in Bangkok. Actually, they'll be spending it in an airplane, since they leave on the 13th, and arrive on the 15th. To male up for this huge romantic oversight, Jesse suggested a trip this weekend. The mission: teach Danie to snowboard. I think he almost succeeded.

We went to Cedar City, Utah. We were actually headed to Brian Head Resort, but Cedar City seemed like a nice place to stay. We were wrong, but hindsight is 20/20.

We arrived Sunday Morning. Our plan was to check in, change and head up to the snow. Best Western had other plans. We couldn't check in until 3pm. It was 11:30 in the morning. So. We drove up the mountain, changed into our snow gear in the car, walked around the lodge, and decided to spend a few hours tubing. We filled out the waivers, walked up the counter, and were denied.

Apparently tubing can "fill up" by 1pm on a Sunday afternoon. May that be a lesson to all of us. We were tired, and it wasn't worth the fees to snowboard for two hours. So we walked around the non tube, non ski, non snowboard areas and played in the snow.

I miss real winters, and I especially miss snow. Even though we didn't get to do anything, I had a great time. Still, wintry-merriment can only last so long when you're tired and hungry. So we decided to eat at the Godfather's Pizza attached to our hotel, and hope our room was ready. Again, we were denied.

Godfather's was closed. We assumed it was out of businesses, because there's no reason for a restaurant to be closed at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. We drove up Main street, and found another pizza place, also closed. Either there's a law against having Pizza in Cedar City, or everything in Cedar City shuts down on Sundays. Both ideas were of course ridiculous. There's a college there. And tourists come from all over to ski. So there is a demand. But alas, there was no pizza. Tired, hungry, confused, we went to the hotel. It was 2:30. Again, we were denied.

Instead of the "King Business Plus Suite" we reserved (and paid for,) we got two Queens. There's no price difference, but if you choose the King, you want the King. Desires aside, none of the rooms with King - sized beds were ready. None of them. Considering this hotel (Best Western Town & Country) spanned both sides of the street, that was impressive. So we got what we got. And we slept.

I woke up three hours later determined to have pizza. In all, we had seen four pizza places that afternoon and I just had a hankering. I searched the guide, followed the map, and foraged for food, hopefully pizza. Know what? Every place that serves pizza in Cedar City Utah is closed on Sunday. That's a fact. Down the street from "5 Buck Pizza" was a KFC. And that was good enough, at least in theory.

When I got back to the hotel, I realized there was no ketchup in the bag. Jesse needs ketchup to survive. He puts it on everything from the chicken to the egg. I knew he would not eat (quietly) without ketchup. So I walked to the Sizzler on the corner, and asked for ketchup packets.

Sizzler apparently does not believe in ketchup packets. The girl behind the counter asked if she could give me a bottle. Another girl reached for a bottle to give me. A manager told her to go get me a fresh bottle. And some so & so hidden manager decided that not labeled for individual sale bottle of ketchup was really worth $3. I paid it. No questions, no arguments.

So there we were: finally about to eat (not pizza) at 7pm. We had water. We had coke. We had ketchup. We had original recipe chicken, biscuits, and two sides. We did not, however, have any silverware.

Maybe I should have asked. But it was as plain as the nose on my face that I was not from Cedar City. That KFC was located between an interstate and a hotel. What makes Missy behind the counter think that I don't need silverware or napkins? I refused to go back to KFC or Sizzler. Cedar City was starting to annoy me. We improvised. I cut a lid from one of the sides, and used it as a shovel. Fortunately, the sides were gross, and we didn't eat them. But it would have been nice to have the option.

Five pizza places, zero bars. Cedar City is Mormon country, and they don't take kindly to debauchery. Jesse found two places in the guide with liquor licenses. Both closed at 10pm. One was only open from 4pm to 10pm. The other was Applebee's. We just watched a movie and went to bed. Jesse promised Monday would be better. He was right.

09 February 2008

Jesse Is Leaving Me

Jesse is going to Thailand. He leaves Las Vegas Tuesday and Los Angeles on Wednesday. He'll be gone for 5 or 6 weeks, depending on who you ask. I say six. He says five. It's six. Anyway, that's the headline. Now let me tell you the other stuff.

Jesse told me in December that he wanted to quit his job and do something "a little irresponsible." He gave me several reasons and I'm not sure if it was what he said, or the way he said it - but I was convinced that the best thing for Jesse to do was quit his job and travel. So I told him I supported his decision. And then I cried.

I'm going to miss him. We're not fighting. He's not leaving in a huff. I'm not trying to have my own solo adventure. He's just going. I don't know what I'll do with the time. We've been hanging out, not dating, and dating for a long time. I've made a lot of plans as a "we." Now I'll be an "I" for more than a month. It's strange. Still, part of me is excited about the uncertainty.

I've given myself a list of things to accomplish while he's gone. Fact is -- Jesse is my biggest distraction. Who knows? I could write a book or something while he's gallivanting.

It's not like other trips we've had apart. We probably won't get to talk at all. I'm not sure where he'll be, or even if he'll have internet access. He's flying blind as they say, and that means so am I. His adventure will give me my adventure. And that's exciting.

05 February 2008

Let's Not Call It A Bender...

I had what we'll call an "extremely socially active" weekend. It started Thursday, with a party.

Parties, by the way, have changed since I was a little kid. The first party I really remember was my brother's 2nd birthday party. He wore a red (corduroy?) sweat suit. There were aunts. There were cousins. There were presents. There were pictures. There were no women covered in body paint. That's something that's exclusively Vegas.

A friend of mine took a bunch of us to a party at Planet Hollywood on Thursday. It was a great networking event but the highlight (of course) were the free foods & spirits. There was a potato martini bar, where you get a scoop of spuds and can add all kinds of toppings. There artichoke poppers, which were not at all healthy but incredibly delicious. There were meats on sticks and supposedly chicken. But I got full before I got that far. No chocolate covered strawberries for this girl.

I don't usually go out on Thursdays. And lately, my friends and I haven't gone out that much at all. I think we're just recovering from Thanksgiving and Christmas and traveling and buying. It was great to get out, have a bite, have a drink, and hear some Zowie Bowie. Plus, I was still in bed by ten.

On Friday, Lucy and I went to happy hour at Maggiano's. Lucy is off on Fridays, and we have yet to fully take advantage of it. But we started with some fried cheese and garlic bread. One day we'll turn that into a real "event."

On Saturday a friend of mine had a girls' night. We ate and gossiped. It's amazing what can be pieced together when everyone knows a little something. Also amazing: some things just don't change. If you swap out some names, girls' night 2008 could be the same as it was in college, or even high school. Basically, if you weren't there, you'll never know.

Of course Sunday was dedicated to the Giants. My mom could not get us into the Superbowl - something about background checks being completed in November. She did call from the stadium though and I could feel the excitement through the phone. I never doubted the Giants, and I've never liked the Patriots. Jesse and I, along with Melissa, watched the game at Kate & Ross' house. My favorite commercials were "follow your heart" from career builder, and the "trading baby" from e-trade. Neither are for the squeamish.

I spent Monday being thrown back into responsibility. Clothes needed to be washed, and groceries needed to be bought. I am preparing (after all) for my boyfriend to leave me.