Sunday, November 27, 2011

Las Vegas Get-Away - October 2011

What Happens in Vegas...Gets Blogged About!
I'm not much of a gambler, though I can't say I'm very good with money to begin with.  But this trip to Las Vegas was something I desperately needed at the time, more so than I realized.

This trip was sponsored by my night job, and I was looking forward to hanging with some of the amazing ladies of the company.  It was guaranteed to be a relatively good time, though I didn't know what to expect as I hadn't been to Vegas in quite a long time.

In trips like this, where there are so many travelers involved, I think it's good to establish the different expectations from each travel companion.  I was lucky to already enjoy the company of my roommate/sister, but I still wanted to make sure we were on the same page. We both decided that getting some Vitamin D by the pool as well as seeing several shows were our main objectives.  I was excited for a chance to see Cirque du Soleil's "The Beatles LOVE" again.

Staying on The Strip
It's overrated, in my opinion.  I mean, I guess it helps to be a guest at one of the hotels if you plan on hitting up one of the clubs.  We found that if you are lounging by the pool, some promoter's bitch will be coming around handing out free "VIP" passes to all the ladies sitting around.  I guess that's a specific benefit when you're staying at one of the hotels on the Strip.

But, at the end of the day, the hotels are just a place to crash for the most part.

We were shacked up at The Luxor, which isn't one of the fancier hotels, but it's decent.
At the Sphinx
One of the main issues that I had with Vegas was all the indoor smoking.  Sorry if you're a smoker, but I just am not a fan.  It became so unbearable at times.  The smell stays in my hair, in my nostrils, in my clothes.  And I had some really cute outfits.  But I felt dirty all the time.
Pyramid and Palms
Another perk of staying on the Strip, and specifically at The Luxor (since I can't speak for the other hotels) are the specials you get just by staying there.  We got a different phone message every day for a different special.  One that we took advantage of was the cheaper spa packages.  These specials, coupled with another chance for cheaper entertainment, was definitely a BIG perk of staying on the Strip.

There's Always a Catch
On our first day there, we got roped into one of those timeshare demonstrations.  This was really the first time I had ever taken one of those tours, especially since I wouldn't even be able to afford something like that any time soon.  But there was a very specific benefit.

For $200, we got a bunch of vouchers.  We ended up with cheap tickets to see "LOVE" and "Menopause The Musical," vouchers for meals at The Luxor, and vouchers for the Nurture Spa at The Luxor.

It was great to get a massage for so much cheaper than the actual price!

But, we were at the timeshare demonstration for most of the day, which was alright since we were both pretty tired from the traveling.  My roomie ended up going for a timeshare, but then cancelled it later in the week.

Still, because of her short-lived purchase, we got a limo ride not only back to the hotel but to In N Out!!!  It was perhaps one of the coolest In N Out experiences I've had to date.

Buffet After Buffet
We had vouchers for 4 buffet meal at the Luxor as part of our travel package.  The buffet at the Luxor was fairly decent, with their "international" diversity of Mexican, Italian, Chinese, and American foods.  The best part of the buffet was the various types of dessert!! Also, if you got there a little bit before lunchtime, you got some of the breakfast options, which I was super excited about.

My roomie and I also used our meal vouchers from the timeshare demonstration to go to the fancy steakhouse at the Luxor called TENDER.  The meat was delicious, especially since it was free-range beef.  But it was nice to go to a fancy steakhouse, since I don't really get to do that very often at all.
A little Proseco action
Strange yet fascinating use of the horns
Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
I was even more excited about some of the other options that were available to me on this side of the country.

As the plane was landing, it was almost comforting to see the flat landscape of the Vegas desert.  But then it suddenly dawned on me that In N Out was in Vegas!  I'm pretty sure I let out a little squeal of joy.

I am also pleased to report that I was able to have a delicious sausage from Pink's as well as the ever-sought-after Orange Julius!  There was really too much deliciousness.  Just looking at these pictures makes my belly happy.
never been so happy to have a cup in my hand!
Sun-Soaking and Shows
Like I mentioned earlier, my roomie and I agreed that lounging pool-side and seeing several shows would be the main focus of our Vegas trip.

Sitting poolside was really quite nice, even when the desert wind got slightly chillier.  The hot sun was extremely pleasant, and it was difficult to hear about the snow storm that hit Boston the day before we were to fly back.
soak it up
Somehow, one of the lifeguards decided he was going to take a liking to one of the women in our group.  Then it suddenly moved on to me, though I tried to make it clear that I wasn't interested.  However, being the nice and naive person I am, I ended up giving the kid my number just in case he had some hookup to a cool club or something.  Well, that bit me in the ass, because he was soon trying to meet up with me for the rest of the week.  This child was 20 years old.  He wouldn't have been able to stand on the casino floor, much less take me out!!! And yet, he still offered to buy me...breakfast...Hahahahaha! It was sweet..but not really what I came to Vegas for.

Between the cheaper tickets from the timeshare demonstration and the shows that were part of our travel package, we literally saw a different show almost every night we were out.  Lemme break down all the shows we saw.
Sunday to Thursday
Cirque du Soleil's The Beatles LOVE
Utterly amazing.  The first time I got to see the show, I was with my family and I was sitting closer to the stage.  This time, we got seats that were much higher up, but the views were still spectacular.  Cirque du Soleil knows how to put on a damn good show, and they really did The Beatles justice with this one.  This show gives me chills every time.
rainbow walkway to the theater
posing with The Beatles
After the show, you can feel the love
the Revolution Lounge
It took way too much work to get this picture...
but it was worth it :)
Cirque du Soleil's Zumanity
Holy crap.  This show was absolutely amazing and super sexy.  There were so many hot bodies, hot dance routines, and lots of grinding.  It was orgasmic, really.  This is definitely another show I would want to see again and again.  If you sit close enough, you get to interact a bit with the performers.  If you're to close, you might get pulled into the acts!

I have only 2 warnings about this show.  If you are in any way closed-minded or not open to various and inclusive sexual acts, you will be squeamish - but you should still see the show!!!  After the show, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, suddenly looks super attractive and you just want to make out with everyone.

Consider yourself warned.

Comedy Show at Brad Garrett's Comedy Club
This show was included in our travel package.  The comedians were great!  There was definitely a lot of laughter, and I always have given comedians tons of credit for having the balls to get up there and recite a couple of lines.

But I also felt really bad for these comedians.  The group that I was with is a group of very out-spoken, very loud, and very proud group of women.  By virtue of being who we were, we often became the highlight of each of the comedians' acts.  At some point, I realized that we as a group had taken over the entire show.  While many of the women don't mind being the center of attention, at some point, I could feel the disapproval of the others in the audience, and I worried it would then translate to disapproval of the comedians.  Their job is hard enough without having a bunch of loud women taking over their show.

But overall, I had a great time and at least the comedians had a lot of material they could use on us.

Menopause The Musical
I had heard a lot of great things about this show.  Being that it's a part of the life cycle, I actually don't know too much about the process.  I was hoping to gain a lot more insight beyond the standard stereotypes I hear all the time.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Paige O'Hara was playing one of the main characters.  Do you know who that is?!?!?! Paige (mutha-flippin') O'Hara is the voice of Disney's Belle!!! As a Disney geek, I was beyond excited about this!  It was awesome to be so close to her!

When my friend and I first got there, we had a slight seating issue.  For some reason, these ladies in our row would not move down a seat, when clearly we all had assigned seats.  I don't know why they couldn't just lift their asses and move on was pissing us off.  But the show started, and we still hadn't figured out our seating arrangement.

At first, we moved to a row behind the women but soon the ladies who had those seats arrived.  We explained our situation to the usher, who had this very deep booming voice.  Though he at first explained that those ladies should have moved, he then moved us to the front row of our section!  I wanted to turn around and be like, "YEEAAAHHHH, BITCHES!!!!" But I figured that would be in poor taste.

But back to the show.  It was incredibly funny, and the reworking of popular songs to fit the situations was great!  Some of the songs barely needed a change at all!  I highly recommend this musical comedy.  It's extremely insightful and honest and downright humorous.

Tournament of Kings at Excalibur
This final show was another part of our travel package.  I had never been to any of these Medieval Knights-style shows, so I was looking forward to this.  We were seated in the Spain section of the room, right in the center.  Pretty darn good seats.
that mead tasted a lot like Pepsi...
The show was a lot of fun.  We had to cheer on our country's King, and there were a series of games they got to play with each other.  I'm pretty sure many of these "Kings" also moonlight as private dancers in other clubs on the Strip.

It seemed like a decent night for dinner and a show.  It soon began to dawn on me that this was our final night.  I had barely done any gambling, though like I said in the beginning I'm not much of a gambler.

What Happens in Vegas...Should Be Considered Before Getting There...
We were in Vegas for a week.  A week!  Truth be told, you can do Vegas in 4 days max.  Have a plan for what you want to do in Vegas, be it seeing shows, visiting the different hotels like they were museums, soaking up some sun, or hitting the clubs.

I got to go to the two clubs at our hotel, get a couple of cheaper drinks, and dance a bit with some handsome French guy.  So I won't complain about that.  I even got to see Twista do his thing at the Luxor's LAX club.
Goodness..he looks far..but he was really close to us!
He even touched my friend!
I think I had a pretty well-rounded trip to Vegas.  I didn't get too crazy drunk, I only lost about $60 on the machines, and I'm pretty sure there aren't any really bad pictures of me floating around the interwebs.  I got to get a tan, see some amazing shows, and make some life-long friends with people I already considered my sisters.

Though I was glad to get the hell out of the smokey air, I was sad to leave the bubble of awesome that is created when I'm with those ladies.  I can see why they enjoy going on yearly trips with each other.  Next stop is London in 2013.  I'm not sure yet if I'm going, but I know I wouldn't regret it if I did.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Toesies of the Month - October and November 2011

Well, with October and November being what it is, I've slacked on posting my pedi's.  Luckily, I didn't slack on actually getting them done.

In the past 2 months, I've gotten pedicures as a mental preparation for some trips I was planning to take.
Designed by Kim at City Nails & Spa, South End, MA
Color:  OPI - Miso Happy With This Color & Essie - As Gold As It Gets
Occasion:  Las Vegas Trip
October 2011
close up of the detail
I really liked this pedicure.  I don't think I've ever gotten such a light pinky color on my toes before.  I have to admit, they looked pretty awesome amidst the palm trees in Vegas (I'll be writing about Vegas soon).
poolside at the Luxor
October's pedicure lasted a really good long while.  In fact, I probably didn't need to get another pedicure for November.  But, I needed to trade in my summer colors for a more fall color scheme.
Designed by Chan at City Nails & Spa, South End, MA
Color: China Glaze - Westside Warrior
Occasion: Thanksgiving
November 2011
These colors felt more appropriate for a trip to New York City for Thanksgiving (I will write about this soon as well!). It was actually kind of funny to watch this nail technician try to imitate her own nail design.  It seemed that she kept confusing herself because she tried to mirror what she had, but on my toes.

This is also one of the few times when I chose a nail color that was more matte.  I know I'm behind on this trend, but I've always liked the more sparkley colors.  But I love this shade of green, so naturally this made sense to me.

I actually realized as she was putting the color on that I will have to change my pedicure color to a French Tip for a show I'm going to be in.  I'm a little bummed that I didn't think about it early enough, but I'm not too bummed about another pedicure in a couple of weeks.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankful 4 - Besties

Even though we don't get to see each other as often as we'd like to, it's always the best thing ever to see my best friend.  We're such opposites sometimes, but we complement each other perfectly.  We have the best time when we're together.  I'm so lucky that she's on the East Coast, even if it is a different city.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful 4 - Strength

I know that I'm not a fast runner.  I know that I'm not even an endurance runner.  I know that I'm not aspiring to be a runner.  But, man, I know that I will try my best and give it everything I've got.

Every time the bootcamp puts together a challenge, I try to make it just to show myself that I can do it.  I've finished last or second to last every time.  But I still show up.  One day, I won't be last or second to last, but maybe 4th last.

Trying to slim down is hard work.  But I can feel the strength in my body.

And if I'm strong physically, perhaps I can convince myself of my other strengths as well.  I am absolutely thankful for all the strengths that I possess within me, and all the strengths that I can find in others as well.
my beat up sneakies

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful 4 - Little Kindnesses

There's very little in the way of politeness or courtesy anymore.  So, it always strikes me by surprise when someone (truth be told, specifically men) hold open a door, or lets someone else take their seat on the T, or just says, "Hello" while walking down the street.  It can even be as simple as trying to be kind.

Those little actions don't have to mean anything.  They don't need to be interpreted in any other way.  Sometimes, they're just nice and being kind.

Sometimes, these little kindnesses mean so much to someone who's had a difficult time seeing anything positive.  Sometimes, these little kindnesses are a breath of fresh, crisp air in a clouded, smokey moment.  Sometimes, these little kindnesses help brings them back to the fact that there are still so many things to be thankful for.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful 4 - Kitty Snuggles

In these 4 days before Thanksgiving in a month that has been both taxing and cruel, I want to recognize the blessings that I am privileged to have in my life.

It still amazes me that the kitties can tell when things aren't going as usual.  Strangely, Yoni has taken to sleeping with me, and sleeping ON me.  I love that little kitty-que.  I'm so thankful for her snuggles, even when it wakes me up.
Yoni and her early morning belly rubs

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Forced Into the Fray

My posts will be relatively unreliable as my life is in the process of shifting.

I have some neat things planned..and I didn't even get to show you my toesies from October, or about my Vegas trip, or about how I'm in the process of closing my previous life in order to be more open to a new and improved one.

I miss blogging and all of you guys.

Those who have to deal with me on a daily basis, I'm sorry I'm such a hot mess.  But at least I'm still warm-blooded.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Standing with Occupy Boston - Part 3

It was dark in the back of the paddy wagon.  There were 2 sections, with very narrow seats and a divider in-between.  With our hands behind our backs, the seats became even more narrow.

We had heard that the women were going to be taken to either South Boston or the South End.  Knowing that was at least somewhat of a comfort.

When the police officer stopped, he stopped so suddenly that it would throw us all to the front of the wagon.  Honestly, it felt like he was doing it on purpose.  Having grown up in Los Angeles, you can forgive my slight bias against the cops.  Truth be told, there were moments I had to convince myself that we wouldn't all (as an all woman wagon) be forced into strange sexual situations.

They took us to the South End station, where they first put the 10 of us women in a holding cell, including the Director of the National Lawyers Guild.  After about 5 minutes, we saw another wagon of girls arrive.  I eagerly searched for other members of my affinity group, but didn't see them.

Luckily, some of the girls had their zipties on loose enough that they could wiggle around, text their contacts, and scratch their itches.  When they first strapped on my zipties, I could tell that they were on quite snug on my wrists.  After a while, I started feeling like my fingers were going numb.  As they were booking the first two ladies, I asked one of the officers to either loosen them or cut them and put new ones on me.  Apparently, someone higher ranking than him had to do it.

To this day, my right pinky finger feels slightly different from whatever nerve got pinched.

Because I mentioned how painful the zipties felt, I was the 3rd to be booked.  Finally, they removed my zipties, and the tingling grew less intense.

First, I was frisked by a female officer in a cell, where we had a short conversation about how much more invasive that frisking was compared to the TSA.  She reached around the top of my pants, asked me to lift my shirt to see if I had anything hidden in my bra.  But I could sense that she didn't like that part of the job any more than I liked being part of it.

Then, I was told to remove my belt and put my belongings, including a hairtie and my seashell necklace into a bag.  They moved me back into the main area, where I saw that a third group of girls had arrived.  As they moved the first two women into individual cells, they moved me up to a window where a woman was taking down our information.

I was asked to write down my address and social security number.  As she inputted that information, they took my mugshots.  As I continued to answer questions, they THEN read me my Miranda Rights, before taking my fingerprints.  When I got to make my phone call, I quickly called the person who had my belongings and asked her to call my two contacts with the information of the police station.

At some point, I noticed that they took several of the women who were in my wagon and affinity group back to another wagon.  I asked one of the officers where they were taking them, but they basically ignored me.  This caused a bit of anxiety for me, because I didn't want to be separated from those I had stood in solidarity with.

After that whole process, they took me to an individual holding cell.

As I waited in the cell, I imagined what it must have happened in there.  All the scratches and marks on the wall and glass door.  All the unknown dirt stains on the walls.  It was horrifying.  I could only imagine what it must be like for someone who wasn't planning to get arrested.

I realized that on the off chance that I would be able to get to work the next day, that I needed to get some form of rest.  So, I tried my best to close my eyes, making sure that my head was located furthest from the dirtiest wall.  Cells are cold and concrete and dull.  You should avoid getting arrested if you're at all fidgety or claustrophobic.

I would listen one in a while to the other ladies talking, occasionally getting up to ask questions.  Since there was a representative from the National Lawyers Guild in the cell with us, I learned that they had a pool of money to help bail us out.  That they're probably on their way to bail her out, and she would promptly retrieve more funds to bail the rest of us out.

There was definitely a moment when I realized that I should have called another friend of mine to bail me out.  It was torture not knowing how long I was going to be there.

Luckily, I was part of one of the first groups who were released.  They took us to another room where I received my summons to court.  I was to show up on Wednesday morning.
I'm definitely planning on framing this
It was 4:50am.  I knew that there was no way in hell that I would have made it to bootcamp that morning.

Eventually, my friend came to pick me up and I was able to retrieve my belongings from the woman in our affinity group.  She told me that I was one of the first she had heard from, which worried me.

Later, after scouring the Occupy Boston website and news sources, I saw tons of videos and images of that evening.  I also learned that the women who were randomly taken to another station had been locked up for nearly 16 hours, where they were then promptly taken to court for arraignment.

On that Wednesday, I learned that justice is most definitely not blind, but definitely near-sighted. 

Firstly, some of us were charged with "unlawful assembly" while others were also charged with "trespassing" as well.  What was the difference?  I have no idea.  Perhaps those are the folks who resisted arrest?  Honestly, it just felt random.

Over the course of that week, the 141 of us who were arrested had several different fates.  One judge (who was described as black with dreadlocks) saw the charges and dismissed them outright.  Another judge offered those of us who had no prior records a chance to turn the criminal charge into a civil offense + a $50 fine (basically like getting a moving violation).  Others who had prior records had harsher charges.  Some chose not to take the deal and plead not guilty, while the majority of us took the deal.

As they called our names, I was frustrated that they couldn't seem to get my name right.  It seemed ridiculous that because the bail bondsman didn't write my name down correctly on my arraignment paper that the rest of the people couldn't even pronounce it.  It was ridiculous.

I also noticed the television camera that was pointed at us.  Meanwhile, the District Attorney who suggested the deal wouldn't even make eye contact with any of us.

After that, I paid my fine and was a free woman.


Looking back, I am so proud to have been part of it.  It was extremely frightening to face the police and to see how physical they were getting.  But I am thankful that it was not as violent as it has been in New York and Oakland.

The process of the judicial system is strange.  Really, it's quite dehumanizing.  And yet, it's doing exactly what it was intended to do.

I believe this movement has potential. 
I believe that there has been an unequal distribution of wealth for too long, and I believe that it is part of the American history and right to fight against that as they did with the Tea Tax. 
I believe that that unequal distribution of wealth is the large "umbrella" problem, which houses underneath it labor and workers rights, immigration issues, poverty, minimum wage, health care, and everything else that is broken in this country. 
I believe that the Wall St. Executives, Banks, and Lobbyists have abused their power and continued to purchase their lavish homes while others were foreclosed on.
I believe they need to be jailed and fined for their behavior.
I believe that those who say that they are responsible for upholding our constitutional rights need to be held responsible.

I am a product of the dream of the American Dream.  I finished high school, college, and graduate school.  Yet I have to work multiple jobs and am still not able to make ends meet.  When my 18 months of unemployment benefits ended, so did my state-required health insurance.  I was without health insurance for 8 months.  I will be penalized for not having health insurance come next tax season.  There's something wrong when those who are in a profession to protect our future are treated with less respect than those who've created a financial collapse.  Why should I be punished for doing work that helps others?  Why is my job as a sex educator, child care worker, and social worker worth less than the quarterback or the bank executive?  Why can't I do what I love while also be able to one day own a home and raise my own family? 

This is why I choose to stand in solidarity with the Occupy Movement.

I am the 99%.

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