Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Kick Ass Vegas

Well, it's that time of year again: the weekend my friend Andrey gathers a few of his closest buddies for a birthday celebration in LasVegas. About fifteen of us were there this past weekend enjoying the sunshine, desert heat, cocktails, delicious restaurants and just a touch of gambling. We stayed at the Mirage (above, as seen from a deck chair by the pool) and had a delightfully wonderful time. However, I clearly must be getting older, because after two and a half days, I was more than ready to go home. Usually, I'm pouting and stamping my feet at the end of a vacation, but Vegas pretty much kicked my ass this year. I didn't even do anything particularly outrageous, but even behavior that's very mild by Vegas standards is outrageous for me.

Some highlights of the trip:
Sipping vodka and fresh fruit cocktails by the Mirage pool on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
Eating and enjoying sushi! I hate sushi, but this was at the Japanese-Peruvian-Brazilian fusion restaurant. So it was way better than regular sushi. Way better.
Enjoying champagne and noodles at the Bellagio.
Winning 40 dollars on a 30-cent bet at a Dukes of Hazard penny slot machine at the Wynn. I don't even know how I won, but it was the Dukes of Hazard, so who cares?
Getting a chance to see my friend Simone for the first time in almost a decade. She wasn't part of Andrey's birthday celebration; she and her fiance recently moved to Las Vegas, and they met me at Rhumbar in the Mirage for a drink.
A lengthy champagne brunch at the Mirage buffet.
Discovering that the Mirage gym has a Cybex Arc Trainer, my absolute favorite cardio machine. Yes, I worked out in Vegas. Every day.

Even though Vegas kicked my ass, I'm already looking forward to visiting again for Andrey's birthday next year.

Me and the birthday boy on Friday night as the party was beginning.

Many of us were at brunch drinking all those mimosas, I promise.

*Mirage photo taken by me; others courtesy of my friends Irina and Sabrina.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Spring Flings

As I mentioned in my last post, I attended a few very fun parties this spring: birthday celebrations and, of course, my friends Tom, Chris and Nick's annual Memorial Day weekend barbecue in Potrero Hill. All of the soirees were lovely, and here are a few photos that documented the good times.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Beaches, Parties and Recovery

 Well, once again, I seem to have taken a bit of a vacation from actually updating this little chronicle. So I decided it was high time to rectify that. Here's a wee summary of some of things I've been doing in the two months(!) since we last spoke.

  • Spent another glorious week in Hawaii in early May. I will be taking three Hawaiian vacations this year, and I couldn't be happier about that fact. I really need to figure out how to become wealthy so I can work part time and spend half the year in the Hawaiian sunshine. I might need to start chatting up some rich old men...
  • Had surgery in mid-late May. Worry not, it was nothing serious (that assurance is mostly for any members of my family who happen to be reading). However, surgery is surgery, and I did have to spend almost a week at home recuperating. Boy, did that get insanely boring after about a day or two. I also was rather uncomfortable for that week, but that's all in the past, and I feel great now.
  • Attended many fun parties. In late April I went to Biscuits and Blues for the first time ever and enjoyed some live blues and delicious snacks for my friend Julie's birthday. May saw my friends' Tom, Chris and Nick's annual Memorial Day Weekend backyard barbecue; my friend Megan's birthday and going-away party combo (she moved to Sacramento for a fancy job); and a fancy wine and bocce ball gathering for my friend Katya's birthday. I have pictures from a couple of these soirees, and I'll post them soon. Or eventually, anyway.
  • Buying a fair number of concert tickets. I'll be attending shows this summer and fall from Squeeze, the Go-Go's, Ray Davies, the Psychedelic Furs, the 88 and who knows who else. In case you hadn't noticed, I'm a bit of a music fan.
  • Singing, after just a small break during my surgery recovery. But I always sing, so what else is new?
That pretty much sums up the last eight weeks or so, and now it officially is summer, the time of year when daylight lasts well into the evening hours. I'll be spending some of those longs days on mini-vacations in Los Angeles and Vegas, before jetting off to Hawaii again as summer turns to fall.

Life really is a wonderful thing, isn't it?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Endless Rock Stars

Last Thursday I did the most fun thing in the world: I went to see Madness in concert. I'd seen the second wave ska kings, whose heyday was in the late 70's and early 80's, once before in 2006, but apparently I had forgotten how great they are live. It was one of the best shows I've ever seen...from guys who have been performing for 30 years. I guess they know what they're doing.

Over the next several months I'll be bouncing between L.A. and the Bay Area to take in shows by a few other ageless rock stars, including Squeeze, the Go-Go's and the Psychedelic Furs. Based on that list, you'd think it was still the late 70's or early 80's.

Make no mistake, I also like quite a bit of new music. Just the other day I picked up a copy of the Shins new album; I become a bigger fan of Fitz and the Tantrums with every passing moment; I downloaded tunes by Fun. and Gotye from iTunes last night; and I go see local bands here in San Francisco on a regular basis.

However, as much as I like new music, I love that the musical heroes from childhood have taken a never-say-die attitude and continue to tour.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Happy Birthday

It's not my birthday, but I'm going to talk about myself, anyway. At least for a moment.

I moved to San Francisco on November 30, 1996. I was 26 years old, about to turn 27, and my first years in the City were amazing. I was still at the relative beginning of my career, so once I found work, which happened quite quickly, I had to work at some slightly insane times of day. However, I  was able to support myself working part-time for my first four years in town. I also was still acting back then, which meant studio classes, play readings in living rooms, four-night per week rehearsals and performances in 50-seat theatre houses, some of which were nestled in the slightly seedier parts of town.

The late 90's in San Francisco were such a crazy good time; I really wish I had appreciated them more. Don't get me wrong, I was very happy to have returned to California after a few too many years in New England, and I was super excited to have become a City by the Bay denizen. I loved my work and my acting habit, and I made friends easily. However, as they say, youth is wasted on the young. Had I known then what I know now, I wouldn't have wasted a millisecond being insecure or worrying about anything. The nightlife also was a kick, of course. "Hipster" was not yet a dirty word, and girls in chunky platformed shoes swarmed the streets alongside boys in bowler shirts. Swing bands were just as likely to play clubs as indie rock acts were, and everyone knew where to get the best burritos after the bars closed.

My first favorite bar in the City was Blondie's Bar and No Grill in the Mission, which I discovered in the summer of 1997. I met the first boy I kissed in San Francisco during one of my first visits there, and in 2003 Nikki, the owner, let me dance on the bar Coyote Ugly-style. Well, Blondie's celebrated its 21st birthday this week, and Nikki threw a party to mark the occasion. Since I am no longer in my twenties, I arrived early and left early. I also brought my friend Andrey, who informed me that he was 17 when I first started frequenting Blondie's. I did ask, but ouch. Regardless, it still was mighty fun to sip a lemon drop (pictured above) and remember those heady, halcyon days.

If I have learned nothing else in my life, I have learned to enjoy the here and now. And that's good news, because even at 42, my life is still a crazy good time, even if it has become somewhat mellow. Believe me, I have no intention of being 60 and wishing I had better appreciated those glory days of 2012.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Different Bunny Trail

If you're a regular reader of this tiny chronicle, you may be aware of my Easter tradition: brunch at the Rex Cafe in Russian Hill. I organized Easter brunch at the Rex for eleven straight years and had every intention of making this the twelfth when tragedy struck.

Okay, what struck was not exactly a tragedy, but it was disappointing. The Rex Cafe closed in early March, making Easter brunch there a tad difficult. So I gathered a bunch of family members and close friends and took my party to Bottle Cap in North Beach where we toasted the Easter Bunny (and Jesus, of course). Emboldened by the change of venue, I also got really crazy and turned the brunch into an early dinner. Actually, I did that because I had a voice lesson in the afternoon, but whatever.

Nothing in life is constant other than change, and even though I loved having a holiday tradition, we all had a fine and quite delicious Easter at the new restaurant. Maybe Bottle Cap will become a tradition, or perhaps we'll be nomadic Easter celebrants. Only time will tell.

Carla, Andrey and me looking lovely in our Easter finest (if I do say so, myself).

Some Easter partiers looking hungry. Don't you think?

Pretty ladies who dine.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Party Like It's 1986

Does it seem like I've been talking about my prep school a lot lately? Well, that's just because there have been a couple of recent donor/alumni events I've attended. On Thursday, there was a San Francisco reception in Pacific Heights for Poly alumni, and of course I was there. Several other alums who graduated in the 80's also made it, so naturally, we took the celebration to Solstice on California and Divisadero for an after party once the official reception was done.

As always, it was a lot of fun to reminisce and even more fun to see people from high school without actually having to be in high school.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sunny Winter Weekend in the Southland

Remember about 1000 years ago when I said I would post photos from the Los Angeles leg of my Winter Break 2012? Well, I'm finally getting around to it. I've been a terrible blog slacker for the past month or so, but hopefully I'll be back on track soon.

Anyway, it was 80 degrees and sunny that late January weekend, and the two and a half days I spent in Los Angeles, Pasadena and Glendale were just lovely. I went to the prep school alumni luncheon that I wrote about in the last post; I sang some songs; I saw the film The Artist, which I loved (it so deserved its Best Picture Oscar); and I hung out with my very fun family and friends.

If I were rich, I'd jet down to L.A. for the weekend a couple of times a month, but as things stand, I'll have to settle for about five or so Southland mini-vacations per year. I'm okay with that; I also have my Hawaii sojourns, so there is no need to be greedy about getting some Los Angeles time.

A shot of my prep school. Doesn't it look like a lovely place to get an education?

Another angle. These photos are both of the elementary/middle school campus. The high school campus is across the street.

Ground beef and pickle tacos on Sunset in Silver Lake. Yum.


A sunny January brunch at Dusty's, which is also in Silver Lake, with Denise and Charlie.

Of course there was karaoke...this time at Barney's Beanery in West Hollywood.

My karaoke partner in crime, Emily.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Going Home

They say you can't go home again, but sometimes I like to try. When I went to L.A. at the end of January, the primary purpose of my trip was to attend a luncheon at my prep school in Pasadena. I was invited to said luncheon because I have donated money to my little prep school for at least twenty consecutive years (I graduated in 1988, and my donations began soon after). I must admit that I never give a ton of money in any one year, but even the relatively small donations I make add up after a couple dozen years. So I happily joined the other donors to nibble on chicken, salads and yummy desserts. Doesn't my table of luncheon attendees look happy?

I don't know how you felt about high school...or junior high or elementary school for that matter; I attended the same school from second through twelfth grade...but I loved school. Loved it. To be clear, my secondary school experience wasn't without angst or drama. There were mean girls, to be sure. In fact, I pulled a few stints as a mean girl, myself, in junior high. Overall, I was very nice, but there were a couple of instances when I was the bitch. A racist episode or two proved annoying, but thankfully those were rare. I also was overweight through my adolescence, which didn't exactly make me super popular with the boys once we hit high school. However, I had plenty of friends, both boys and girls, and the good greatly outweighed the bad (no pun intended).

I credit my education with so many positive things in my life that go far beyond diplomas or which facts I do or don't know. It's the least I can do to throw a couple hundred dollars to my prep school every year (I also donate to Brown, my college alma mater). And the best parts about coming back to visit every once in a while are that we've all grown up, I lost all my extra teenage weight years ago and no one is a mean girl anymore.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Turn, Turn, Turn

Good evening, Gentle Readers.

First of all, I apologize for the lack of updates recently. I have been running around a lot since I returned from vacation and only now do I feel like I am back in the swing of things. I have a few photos from L.A. to post here, but that will have to wait at least another day.

You see, three women I know, all of whom were about my age or younger, have died in the last week and a half. They died over an eleven-day period, to be specific. Yes, people die, even young people, but as you can imagine, I'm kind of in shock from it all. So I'd like to use this little chronicle today to remind you to embrace life, joy and happiness as much as possible. We all have responsibilities, but make as much time for the things that make you smile, whatever they may be, as you can. Spend as much time with the people you love and admire as you can, and let them know that you love and admire them.

Because you just never know. Life is precious and short, and you just never know what's coming tomorrow.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Endless Summer Progress Report

Well, gentle readers, I have less than 48 hours left in my vacation, and I will be honest and admit that I'm feeling a bit blue about that fact. As much as I love my "real" life, vacation is much better.

Honolulu has been wonderful this week, as always. The weather has been virtually perfect: 80 degrees and sunny every day. In February. I say the weather has been "virtually perfect" because it got a little windy today, which made the beach a bit difficult. It's hard to relax while maintaining a tight grip on your sun hat and deflecting the sand that occasionally blows in your face. However, 80 degrees and windy is significantly better than 60 degrees and windy, the natural state of Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Anyway, here is a summary of what I've been doing, if you're interested. I think you'll find that Winter Vacation 2012 is progressing quite nicely.

Afternoons spent at the beach: At least a portion of every one since I arrived (even today, despite the wind).
Mai Tai's consumed: Three. So far.
Mornings spent exercising in Ala Moana Park before breakfast, the beach or Champagne Hour: Every one.
Books read: Two. Alison Arngrim's Confessions of a Prairie Bitch, which I actually finished on the flight here, and The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow
Karaoke songs sung: So far three. "Son of a Preacher Man", "Dream A Little Dream of Me" and "Only the Lonely" (The Motels, not Roy Orbison). Rest assured that more songs will be sung before I fly home.
Layers of sunscreen applied: Too many to count.
Hours spent playing poker on my phone, mostly while on the beach: Also countless.
Large bottles of Perrier sparkling mineral water consumed: Probably fifteen so far. One has to stay hydrated in this tropical heat.
Number of cheesy Lifetime Movie Network films watched during Champagne hour with Diva Mommy: One. Flirting with Forty starring Heather Locklear. Easily one of the best terrible movies ever made.

That's the update from here. Even though I only have a few more hours in Paradise, I intend to enjoy every one of them. And I'll try not to be in too sour a mood when I have to return to reality in a day and a half.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

More and More Aloha

Aloha, gentle readers. I am taking yet another holiday in Hawaii, and it is, of course, wonderful. This is part two of Winter Break 2012 for me (the first being my weekend in L.A.). I have never been to Hawaii in the winter, but is just as lovely on February 1st as it is in the Spring and late Summer.

I arrived just about 27 hours ago, but already my trip has included home-cooked meals, Champagne Hour, lots of sleep and needless to say, the beach. Karaoke also will be involved, along with more champagne, beach time and delicious sleep. I'll write more and post more photos later, but for now enjoy these shots. I took them with my trusty cell phone at Ala Moana Beach Park yesterday afternoon. Now, Waikiki awaits me. Until the next time, my lovelies!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Old School Hollywood

Happy Saturday night, gentle readers. I currently am enjoying a weekend in Los Angeles before I scoot off to Hawaii in a few days. In true Hollywood fashion, I just watched a movie...not at a theatre but on a screener dvd. It is awards season, after all. The film was The Artist, and I think I am in love, both with the movie and it's star, French actor Jean Dejardin. Oh my, is he charming in this film and super hot in "real life".

Earlier today, I spent a few hours at Poly, my prep school in Pasadena. I usually refer to Poly (short for Polytechnic School) as my high school, but in truth, I spent virtually my entire education there, attending Poly from second through twelfth grade. Anyway, I was back on campus for a luncheon to honor those of us who have donated money to Poly, which is a private school, for at least 20 consecutive years. The luncheon also honored those who have named Poly in their estate plans, but that group did not include me. I don't even have an estate, let alone any estate plans.

After the luncheon, I visited with my brother, sister-in-law and nephew Mikey Jet in South Pasadena for a while, and then I dined with my sister and a friend of hers at one of my favorite L.A. restaurants, Malo Cantina in Silver Lake. After dinner was the movie along with champagne, and that brings you up to date.

As I mentioned in my last post, photos from this L.A. weekend and my trip to Hawaii will be coming soon. I had planned to post some pictures this evening, but I left my memory card reader in San Francisco. Oops. Also, as much fun as a catered luncheon and dinner out can be, they have wreaked havoc on me today. For reasons that I won't bore you with, I have been following a low sodium diet for the past month. My doctor gave me the go-ahead to blow off any dietary restrictions while on vacation, but I didn't consider the repercussions. Two meals of indeterminate sodium content without me drinking as much water as I normally do have made my body very angry. You should see my feet right now; they have swollen to the size on mini-watermelons. I'll be downing a few bottles of Perrier tonight (yes, before bed) and paying better attention tomorrow, especially since I have brunch plans. I hope my shoes still fit after this trip.

(The Artist photo found at

Friday, January 27, 2012

Winter Break

Remember college when we would get a month-long break between the fall and spring semesters? Winter break, as it was and I assume still is called, was the perfect time to celebrate the holidays, pick up a job to make a little extra tuition money, or just rejuvenate. Those were the days, weren't they?

Well, the holidays have passed, and I'm not taking an entire month off, but I am about to indulge in a little winter break of my own. In an effort to break up the ennui that, in my opinion, usually holds a death grip on January and February, I booked a vacation. Tonight I'm headed down to L.A. for the weekend. This actually was a late addition to my winter vacation. My high school is having a special luncheon tomorrow, and I decided to fly down and attend. Why not? It's winter break, after all.

A few days later, I'm off to Honolulu to visit Diva Mommy and lay on Waikiki Beach. I have never been to Hawaii in the winter, but back in November I stumbled upon a great airfare, so I figured why not go? This means I potentially will be taking three trips to Hawaii this year (assuming I don't run out of money, vacation days or both). That's a lot of tropical beach time, but I think I can handle it.

Watch this space for winter break photos and updates.

(Photos courtesy of and

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hold 'Em For Charity

Friday was my dear friend Chris' 37th birthday, and to celebrate, he invited a gaggle of us to a charity poker tournament yesterday afternoon to benefit Bay Area Theatre Sports (or BATS), an improvisation troupe and school that Chris works for and performs with. In fact, he's performing tonight as host of "The Blank Show", should you be in San Francisco this evening looking for some fabulous entertainment.

As for the poker tournament, I didn't play very well for the first couple of hours, but toward then end, I had a phenomenal run that brought me back from the near-dead multiple times and almost landed me a place at the final table. Almost. The final table had nine seats, and I came in tenth in the tournament.

After all the poker was done, a bunch of us scooted across town for cocktails. The bar we chose was down the block from my favorite karaoke den; so I also was able to squeeze in a little singing, as well. My friend Pat had never seen me sing before, so I chose one of my go-two numbers, "Son of a Preacher Man". I think Pat was duly impressed, even though I believe I may have been a little sharp on the bridge last night. Ah, well, it was still totally fun.

All in all, it was a lovely Saturday. I highly recommend spending an afternoon playing cards with friends followed by a little karaoke in the evening, if you can swing it.

Some of the players and spectators during a break in the action.

Happy birthday, Chris!

The birthday boy expertly tackles 37 candles.

This was one of my best hands of the tournament. I got a flush, which beat my opponent's two pair of aces and kings. If you know anything about Texas Hold 'Em, you can see that the other player had secured his two pair after the flop, while my flush materialized at the very end of the hand. It was an amazing moment and amazing win.

Is it a salad? Is it a cocktail? No one was really certain.