28 October 2007

Singing Solves Everything, Part Two (still working backwards)

And we're back. When we left off I was crossing the Richmond Bridge on the way to my very own private deck in heaven (Mendocino). I was full of energy having slept very late to recover from the previous evening's festivities, which included...

Karaoke. I mean, what did you expect? You know what I like. Here you can see Marcus reaching deep into his core to wail "Today!" better than Neil ever could.

Alisa, Marcus and I ended up embracing a couple of lurkers when we stepped up for "You're the Inspiration," which was a total hit--the whole bar was singing along (except, apparently, for the girl in the foreground of this photo). We even gained a couple of groupies who trailed us the rest of the night--you can see one of them behind us (I figure she's either bowing to show her allegiance, or casting a very powerful spell).

Encore Karaoke is easily the greatest karaoke joint I've ever been to (which statement does NOT put it in competition with Live Band Karaoke, since that is a completely different animal). Above, you will see Cameron and I giving Beck's "Sexx Laws" a sizzling treatment--I mean, what other karaoke book has "Sexx Laws"? Someone knew what they were doing. It was a great sing, especially about a third of the way through the first verse when our eyes locked in the simultaneous realization that this song is even dirtier in print than it sounds when you listen to the record--we then had no choice but to sing louder. I'm glad that every time we take out sweet little Cameron, liquor and smut seem to dominate (here's hoping he hasn't linked his mom to this blog).

If Gnu looks tired, it's probably because Encore wasn't our first stop. Oh no, dear reader, Alisa planned the kind of birthday-night-out every little pill of a girl dreams about. And believe me, I had been a pill about the whole thing--unable to get excited or contribute anything productive to the planning of my birthday (which might let you in on why I thought it best to go away by myself) I washed my hands of all decision-making and left it in her able hands. What a sweetheart she is! Before the karaoke dive, we hit the tony Top of the Mark on Nob Hill.

With the help of a first-class wedding band, we boogied down with all the elderly and foreigners the city's nightlife had to offer. There was a middle-aged woman in a white suit doing pole dance moves without the pole; a very old man cutting a serious rug with his young-enough-to-be-his-granddaughter date; an aging greek gentleman, shirt unbuttoned to his navel and at least 7 lbs of gold chain around his neck; and, everyone's favorite, an Asian lady who would turn you around on the dance floor, shove jazz hands in your direction, squeal samurai style, then lock fingers with you for a quick sweep of the dance floor (in her excitement she stabbed one of her heels through my right middle toe--but I bear you no ill will, sweet woman...you were an absolute treat).

The desserts were delish, but don't get the virgin strawberry daiquiri because you'll regret it all night.

The apron I'm wearing here (which I love love love) was hand sewn by Ashley, and was the first of two aprons I received for my birthday--I opened Alisa's lovely full length next (which I also love love love). Funny thing is the Bakers had also meant to buy me an apron, but talked to Alisa first and settled on a Williams Sonoma gift card. I don't know what it implies about me that three (actually four--Amy apparently thought about it too) people thought I'd like nothing better than an apron, and that they happened to be right. Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm reminded of the family Christmas letter my Mom wrote a couple of years ago in which she illustrated very factually what my year had been like and it made me sound like a 60 year old spinster minus the cats (I believe knitting, Relief Society and City Hall were involved). Maybe in my thirties I should embark on some hipper hobbies--you know, like turn-tabling and krump dancing. Or maybe improv...

The gift basket in the photo is the aforementioned "getaway" basket from Mackenzie (with contributions by Amy and Vicky). It was so lovely--I ate through it the next two days and soaked in some of it on Saturday night. You are all so thoughtful.

And that's it, dear reader. My 30th birthday, finish to start. Believe it or not, one of the best birthdays I can remember. Maybe some time soon I'll tell you about what a relief it is to have it over with, but for now I'll leave you with some parting hotness (nothing is sexier than a banjo and a refrigerator)...

Singing Solves Everything, Part One (working backwards)

I don't want to do this but I know I have to, so I guess I better just get it over with: this post and the post following are about the weekend of my 30th birthday. It was grand. But just because it was grand doesn't mean I want to talk about it (does anyone get that?). However, the grandness of which I speak is largely due to the extreme love and generosity of my friends and parents and so I feel obliged to prove my unending gratitude with heaps of pictures, most of which I'm certain will bore you, dear reader, to tears. Nevertheless...

Part One (Working Backwards--in order to keep things at least a touch interesting, I'll begin with the latest events and work my way back toward when it all began; also, I haven't yet received Friday night's pictures):

Arriving back in the East Bay, I thought to myself, "What next?"

Towards the end of my trip, I finally got a halfway decent shot of a stand of eucalyptus trees (I'd been trying for one all weekend). There is something so California about a windbreak of Eucalyptus--it makes my heart melt (which is weird because Eucalyptus are non-native, and because whose heart melts over stuff like that?).

*Note: most highway shots were taken while driving by raising my right arm, camera in hand, through the sun roof. You may find I've not yet mastered the technique.

Here on my hillside perch above the mighty Pacific I'll tell you a bit about what I'd been doing. When I took this arm's length self-portrait, two turkey vultures were occassionaly swooping over my head. I was watching the tide, listening to the break, and splitting segments of dried sea grass into a pile in front of my feet. It was a fab break from my ride down the 1. I left the hotel at noon and stopped here a bit north of Bodega Bay . I'm not sure how much time I spent in this semi-catatonic state, but I emerged thoroughly relieved of the minor dread that had been building in my stomach since leaving Mendocino, and felt ready to enjoy the remaining 4 hours it took to drive Shoreline Highway all the way to Muir Beach, where I then turned home to Alameda. The next few pictures should help explain the minor dread...

I mean, who would want to leave this place? Above you can witness the view from my private deck.

If I look on the verge of happy tears, it's probably because I was. I got to The Heritage House Saturday afternoon, armed with a fluffy bathrobe, a brimming getaway basket (thanks to Mackenzie, Amy, and Vicky--more on this later) and a heart full of song (thanks to the new "Playlist 30" on my pod). I pretty much holed up on this deck and in my room the whole time, except when exploring the grounds. I don't have much to say about it. It was just perfect.

The inland drive to Mendocino was equally wonderful. I purchased a sack of Pink Ladies and a jar of fresh applesauce here at Gowan's Oak Tree, just before entering a redwood forest. Don't be surprised if one day soon you hear from a mutual friend that I've given it all up to sell apples on the roadside. I could do it, too--I could totally be happy as an apple farmer (I really hope you'll follow that link and click "OK" when the dialog box pops up--especially if you're Sarah. Think of it as a bleated birthday present to me).

Admittedly I'm not as enthusiastic about grapes as I am about apples, but man is October a good time for photographing vineyards. It reminded me of the ivy covered house at 5th North and 3rd East where I lived my last year of undergrad--in the fall, the leaves would turn all golden and deep red and I felt like the luckiest girl in the world (even though most of my roomates there fell into the category of a. narcissistic, b. "creative"--read "actress", or c. bulemic). And maybe I could enjoy life as a vintner. I mean, they get into some crazy stuff...

Folks, they cleared the manger scene out of this creche to fill it with Halloween ghoulies. Talk about post-modern.

I didn't get any decipherable shots of the coastal dairies I drove by, but the air was thick with cheese and I'm perfectly convinced that I could happily live with the stench of manure if it meant I got to live at the beach with my cheese cows. Grandpa F. would be so proud--I'm sure it would be enough to undo the painful tears Larry provoked when he heartlessly told a dying old rancher that a young man like himself wouldn't ever be a farmer (you asked for a blog, so I even gave you a shout out!).

Not pictured here are the 170-something songs I whistled, hummed, sang, or emoted through all the time I was driving. There is for sure no better medicine for any ailment than singing--can anyone else relate to that? I've known this about myself for a long time, but it's starting to become a stronger fact the more I think about it. If I had any doubts about spending my 30th birthday completely alone (which I guess I hadn't yet mentioned was the whole intent of this trip), they quickly and finally dissipated when, shortly after leaving the 101, this song popped up. No way could I have felt better in any moment than right then and there.