Thursday, October 29, 2009

Searching for a Wedding Venue, Day 1

Ah, wedding stuff. After The Pit proposed, my sainted mother scurried all over the Bay Area, looking at potential wedding venues for us. After extensive internet scouring, followed by exhaustive tours of various wineries, country clubs, and old buildings, she narrowed the list down to several locations, but felt that she couldn't make the choice for me, her pickiest of daughters.

Thus I had to abandon The Pit to fend for himself for several days, and make a quick trip back home to see the venue options and (hopefully) make a selection. My itinerary included one day of exploring winery and country club locations in the Pleasanton/Livermore area, one day of trekking out to the Central Valley and looking at a hand-built castle in the middle of an almond orchard, and one day of investigating community centers and mansions in the Piedmont/Oakland area. Efficient, eh?*

So, Day 1:

As it turned out, my mother’s fears of picking a place for me were quite well founded. The first winery was too big, the second had too many barrel decorations, and the third had creepy creepy faces painted on their walls.

Not kidding about the décor…a touch too many wine barrels:

And the goblin lords on the wall of the third winery we visited, though sadly you cannot get their full horrifying effect from this tiny picture I found:

I mean…seriously? Why would you paint that on the walls of a wedding hall? My mom said we could cover them up with flowers or something, but I would still know they were there…staring at me.

Moving onward, I was also not a fan of a beautiful but very traditional country club with excessive rules and regulations.

You can practically smell the money:

At this point, there was just one more location left on my mother’s list, and we were both starting to get a little nervous that I was going to hate that place too.

Fortunately, I got a great feeling as soon as we drove up. The place was a golf course and restaurant, but, importantly for my carefree nature, not a country club with stuffy furniture and even stuffier rules. The manager showed us around, and I loved the outdoor veranda where the ceremony could take place, the restaurant with views out of huge airy windows, and the neutral décor, thankfully lacking in both gold-plated picture frames and scary goblin lords. And unlike the tour guides at some of the previous locations, the manager was both extremely nice and quite flexible about our various requests.

So at the end of our first day, we had one definite maybe to consider. Up next? An exploration of country eccentrics and the hard-working spirit that made America great.

* We may be lazy, but my family can bring the organization when necessary.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Great Plumbing Disaster of 2009

Alrighty. I know everyone is dying to hear about our sewage issues, so I shall get to it. To add an air of mystique to the proceedings, I will refrain from specifying exactly who was responsible for what in the lead up to the incident.

Several weeks ago, our apartment management company left notices on all apartment doors, asking people to stop flushing diapers, paper towels, and other unsuitable objects. Presumably, there had been some sort of incident in the building to spark this communication. Regardless, one half of our duo read the notice, and left it on the kitchen table absentmindedly. The other half of our duo probably glared at the offending piece of clutter, but did not actually read it.

The very next morning, the unschooled member of our household flushed multiple paper towels down the toilet after a bout of cleaning. And then threw some extra sheets in there for good measure, without flushing. Afterwards, the properly read but still sleepy partner went to use the facilities for their intended purpose, and critically, did not first check to make sure that the white papery stuff floating at the bottom would flush.

End result? Clogged toilet, of course. No problem, both of us thought. We’ll just go buy a plunger, and all will be well. Fifteen dollars* and trip to Target later, things were not exactly well. The Pit took at turn at the plunging, and while there was a certain, erm, dislodging of the, err, clogging materials, the toilet remained undrained. So I decided to take a turn. Given the circumstances (and the smell), I feel that I displayed a great deal of enthusiasm for the task, and worked the plunger quite energetically under The Pit’s critical eye. Unfortunately, all that happened was a great deal more clouding of the water in the bowl, and some amount of splashing. Although I maintain that splashing was unavoidable under the circumstances, The Pit was displeased with my performance, and took the plunger back.

As he attempted to plunge for the second time, something horrifying happened. Our toilet did not get unclogged…but, well, how shall I put this delicately…materials neither of us had deposited started to appear. Yes, somehow, The Pit’s efforts were causing foreign matter (presumably originating from our neighbors) to appear in our toilet, and yet the damn thing was still clogged. In fact, it was now more clogged than ever.

It was at this point that The Pit evaluated the situation, and made what I feel was a truly heroic decision. He cleared the space around the toilet, stripped off most of his clothes, shooed me out of the bathroom, closed the door, and threw himself into the breach (metaphorically speaking). For the next thirty minutes, I heard occasional horrified exclamations, a good deal of gagging, and an amount of swearing, that was, all things considered, pretty minimal.

Toward the end of that time, the door opened, and The Pit, white-faced, asked me to bring him a garbage bag, the bleach cleaner, and another roll of paper towels. The toilet was functional again, but there was a certain amount of…collateral mess. Once I delivered the goods, the door was then firmly closed in my face while he cleaned everything up and showered…oh, let’s just say quite thoroughly.

When he emerged, the bathroom looked spotless, but there was clearly some mental scarring that was going to take days to erase. He asked me to clean the bathroom again, just to be on the safe side, and then, periodically and completely at random, would turn toward me and make gagging noises for the rest of the week.

And people, what can I say? A man willing to take one like that for the team? Well, that’s clearly husband material right there.

* I know! For a plunger!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Goooo Sporks!

So. What’s been going on with us recently, you ask? I’ll tell you about trivia first, and then we shall get to the Great Plumbing Disaster of 2009.

Well, after the humiliating third place finish in trivia, the Sporks regrouped, and came back two weeks ago to a decent 2nd place finish. Second got us a $15 gift certificate, in case anyone was wondering. Perhaps more interesting is that I somehow turned into our music expert. What can I say? My deep and abiding love for Billy Joel finally came in handy.

Last week we completed our trajectory and regained first place, a victory made all the sweeter because we beat the old folks who had so handily dispatched us three weeks ago. However, there was a noticeable tension in the air when our victory was announced, and members of the second place team made throat-slitting gestures in our direction when we were leaving the bar. All in good fun, of course.

Yesterday we trailed a team of two called Hot Sexy Jason for most of the game. Hot Sexy Jason consisted of a very attractive girl, and a dude presumably named Jason. However, they were destined for defeat, as we came on strong in the final round, which was worth double points. When first place was called and our name was mentioned, the Jason half of Hot Sexy Jason yelled “Fuckers!” loud enough for the whole bar to hear. It’s possible he meant to mutter this under his breath, but there was a lot of beer involved. The exclamation amused the entire room though, so I think we can forgive him.

In case anyone other than our opponents is keeping score, so far we have amassed 5 first place, 1 second place, and 1 third place prize in 7 weeks of playing. Not a bad record, I think. Although really, I shouldn't be the one bragging. Sure, A and I contribute every now and again, but I think it's fair to say that if it was just A and I playing, those statistics would be a lot more dismal. For having such a large store of facts inside, The Pit's head is surprisingly normal sized.*

* Not to mention good-looking.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Updates Are Coming!

Okay, I realize that the writing on this here blog has not been exactly prolific in recent weeks, but all that is about to change. In the next entry or two I'll catch you up on events since our inglorious 3rd place trivia placement, and then we shall move on to a topic currently taking up a lot of real estate in my brain. That's right, if you don't want to read about wedding-related adventures, I suggest you come back in...oh, call it about 7 months.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Apocalypse, Unreadable

Sunday was a beautiful day, and The Pit and I took full advantage of the nice weather, walking about a mile down to the bookstore, buying a couple of books, and then sitting in the park and reading them.

Unfortunately, one of my selections happened to be The Road, a post-apocalyptic novel by Cormac McCarthy. I should have known better than to pick up a Pulitzer Prize winner, because I sensed within the first few pages that I was going to hate it.* I finished it just now, and sadly, I still think that was $14.95 wasted.

It's not like I haven't read a fair selection of post-apocalyptic stories in my life. The Pit likes to joke that they are my favorite form of fiction, and he's not too far off. I've recently re-read Dies the Fire, The Stand, and The Postman, which are all significantly more interesting versions of the end of the world than The Road. The setting was both horribly bleak and completely unexplained, the main character thoroughly miserable, and nothing ever really happened, even at the very end of the novel. I just don't understand the point.

And reading it, I'm doubly sad for Jeffery Harrell, who at one time wrote an excellent blog called Shape of Days. The blog is no longer online, but several years ago, Jeffery posted about half of a novel he had written. It was a great post-apocalyptic story, really engrossing, with interesting characters and an exciting plot. He never finished it, because The Road came out at the same time he was shopping it to publishers, and nobody wanted another story of the same basic genre. What a waste, that such a terrible book could ruin a really great writer's chance to publish a far superior story.

All in all, it's a good thing I also grabbed a new Terry Pratchett novel while we were at the bookstore...I can't think of a better way to rid myself of the unrelenting dreariness that was The Road.

* I don't always hate books that the literati love...just most of the time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


You know, I should have known it wasn't going to be a good week on Monday night. That's when a trio of silver-haired retirees smoked us at trivia night. As it turns out, old people are surprisingly good at recalling the TV shows of their youth, and do not automatically think of marijuana when someone named Bogart is mentioned. And we can't even put all the blame on the old people, since we ended up in third place. Although I suppose third place isn't losing, per se...we did get to choose from a unique selection of prize Bud Light t-shirts at the end of the night.

Anyway, the week went downhill from third place at trivia. OL ended up in the hospital after falling and hitting her head. She wasn't hurt too badly, but she had an unfortunate tendency to tell every visiting nurse and social worker that I was from California, had a PhD, and was engaged to be married. This spiel would have been okay if they were asking about me, but it usually came when they directed their questions to the subject of her health. Consequently, everyone decided that she was much more senile than is actually the case, that she was in need of continuous monitoring, and that she should be admitted for several days. She's home as of today and trembling with indignation because 'all dose people' forced her to take a wheelchair back to her place, when really she 'would rather be dead' than try to use it. Fortunately for all of us, she doesn't actually need it.

OL isn't the only one with medical issues either...I'm not sure if I've mentioned it, but The Pit has been playing on a softball team for two games a week. It's apparently kind of a shitty team, since he keeps coming home grumpy from losing. However, on Tuesday night he came home both grumpy and sort of groaning. Apparently there was an unfortunate collision when he tagged a runner out at first, and now he may or may not have a cracked rib. Either way, sitting down, standing up, and rolling over in bed all hurt, and doing the dishes is entirely out of the question.

As if all of the above weren't enough, I was driving home from the hospital yesterday when I received a speeding ticket. That I should get one of those is not altogether shocking, but what did make my eyes bulge a little was the price tag. For going 45 mph in a 30 mph residential zone, the state of Virginia would like to take $366 of my hard-earned dollars. Had I run a red light, my fine would have been all of $161, and being a jackass and illegally parking in handicapped spot would have netted the state a mere $211. And to add insult to injury, in the box on the ticket designated for my sex, the kind officer also put an M. Bastard Virginian, I hate you and all your brethren.