a Cheap Holiday: 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003

Cheap Holiday

Welcome to a cheap holiday in my life. At least you get to go home at the end of the day!

Monday, October 27, 2003


Sunday, October 26, 2003

Reason #136 why LadyAdmin is sooooooo fabulous: Last night I was scheduled to house manage my friend's play, The Madness of Misfortune, in Old City, Philly. The chief responsibilities of the House Manager is to take the money for the tickets, log a performance report for the financials, direct attendees to the stage area, and block latecomers once the house is closed for the performance. Because the play was written by the Marquis de Sade, I decide to dress the part for my shift: over-the-knee boots, pinstripe skirt, white starched shirt topped by a black satin corset, black silk necktie, and my Victorian riding hat. It's a combination "proper-Victorian-riding-habit/bad-librarian" look.

Because taxis rarely venture down my block, I usually walk over to the Four Seasons Hotel to have a doorman hail me a cab. Traditionally, I slip the doorman a dollar for this service, which is simple courtesy. As a result, most of the doormen are familiar with me.

So I approach the doorman at the Four Seasons in my full "bad librarian" kit, requesting a cab. The doorman thinks for a moment, then says to me a lowered voice "Follow me." As he crosses the driveway, I follow for a few steps, until I see him approaching a black BMW. In confusion, I stop. He opens the rear door to the BMW, turns, and motions to me to come forward. As I near the car, he turns and says, "This is my driver this evening, Jerry. He will take you where you need to go."

The doorman gave me the hotel car service and driver. Because, obviously, I'm fabulous.

If you wish to view my fabulousness up-close, I should be attending the Dracula's Ball for the PA Ballet on Halloween (not to be confused with the Dracula's Ball dance party at Shampoo). You won't be able to miss me, I promise.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Rubber Ball trip, Days 3 and 4 (events originally occured on Oct. 3 and 4): After a bite of dinner, Kali and returned to our twee hotel room for a bit of rest. Along about 9pm, Liebling and The Mountie were due at the apartment The Mountie's parents keep at the Barbican Centre in north London. After a brief conversation, I discovered that I had been invited to crash for free at The Mountie's apartment! This was a welcome boon, saving me over $300 U.S. I quickly ran to the front desk to cancel the rest of my reservation.

The next morning we braved that institution of London hotels, the "complimentary English breakfast." This is not as appealing as it might appear at first blush. The classic English breakfast is toast, baked beans, a grilled tomato, maybe fried sausage, and tea or coffee. This can pose a bit of a problem for poor Kali, the vegetarian, should the breakfast only be toast and sausage. This morning, a cook comes out to ask how we would like our eggs, which is a pleasant surprise.

After breakfast, we quickly pack, pay the hotel bill, and haul our luggage out to the sidewalk to hail a cab for the Barbican Centre. The Barbican Centre in north London is a complex that mixes school spaces (there is a girls' school and a music school on-site), performing art complexes, and residential complexes. Though the residential areas are pretty utilitarian by American standards, having all of the other amenities and landscaped grounds provides a very urbane, cosmopolitan feel. Also, the flat is only 3 blocks from the Barbican Exposition Centre, which will prove invaluable for Kali and Liebling during the course of the weekend.

Following our joyful reunion at the flat, we set out to locate a photocopy service that could reproduce a quantity of detail sheets for Kali and Liebling's company, who displayed wares at the Expo. This takes several hours (apparently Kinko's doesn't have a corporate foothold in the UK yet) and diverts us through several local neighborhoods. Perhaps the greatest danger to many tourists in London is knowing which direction to look for traffic before stepping off the curb. In fact, this has historically been such a fatal problem that now at intersections the words "LOOK LEFT" or "LOOK RIGHT" are painted right on the street. While this sounds paternalistic on paper, in practice, it proved invaluable, especially after drinking a few pints of the local cider. God love the limeys for watching out for us!

Once the business of the day is completed, we retire to the flat for a civilized cocktail hour, followed by preparation for dinner. The restaurant we have reservations at is highlighted by French-style service and a lovely selection of vegetarian menu items. We are joined at dinner by Herr Professor and Cowboy, leading members of the Texas Latex Party. They are fine dinner companions: witty, intelligent, genteel, and entirely appreciative of the little show of corset-tightening that Kali and Liebling put on at the table towards the end of dinner.

As the waitress is presenting the dessert and port menus, in storms the giant-Texas-transvestite, Cindy. Cindy is rather typical of transvestites that I have known. Contrasted by drag queens or transsexuals, the average transvestite is not always concerned as to whether she "passes" as a woman or not. She just likes wearing the wigs, and makeup, and shoes! However, Cindy betrays her genetic origin by expressing her boredom at watching a local custom shoe maker actually create his shoes--as the "bio-girls" at the table squirm with delight at the thought!

Monday, October 20, 2003

A sample of a very typical IM conversation between
myself and my co-worker, D-.

D says:
Tufte bears repeated reading (EDITOR'S NOTE: Edward Tufte, the leading expert on the visual display of quantitative information)
D says:
he is a genius
D says:
a mad genius
D says:
who writes his books from his lair beneath a south pacific volcano
I says:
he has a lair?
D says:
I should hope so.
D says:
He is a genius
D says:
I am not sure if it is under a volcano
D says:
perhaps it is a small loft over a woman's bookshop in Soho
I says:
maybe geniuses don't always have lairs
I says:
maybe that is a stereotype
D says:
a den?
D says:
an eyrie?
I says:
maybe a snack bar
D says:
What? Who can conquer the intellectual world from a perch atop a rickety stool in an airport snack bar?
D says:
drinking $5 cups of coffee and ten dollar beers?
D says:
You would have no money left for vanity printing
D says:
Next thing you know you will be telling me that the KGB operated out of an Appleby's
I says:
I thought that's what the whole desktop publishing revolution was supposed to be about
D says:
Those are the poseurs. The Kinko's-conqerors, the Postal Instant Press impresarios
D says:
They still think New Courier is the font of choice
I says:
So true mad genius still fritter away their cabbage on vanity publishing?
D says:
all the more to be bitter about when you work goes unrecognized
D says:
but Desktop Publishing would help them get that exotic volcano lair all that much sooner
I says:
with a hovercar?
D says:
and a monorail to carry your henchmen around
I says:
I've been on a monorail..at Disneyworld!
D says:
Yea, I was on that one too. A dissapointingly small number of henchmen, though
I says:
I think they make them all dress up like the Seven Dwarves
D says:
Are you saying Walt employed midget ninja henchmen?
I says:
(surprised emoticon)

Friday, October 17, 2003

It's been a stupid, weepy day. The kind of day when one does woeful shit, like drivin' and cryin' while listening to Jeff Buckley or PJ Harvey, because one is just tired of being alone. Just...really...painfully...tired.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

I had a chance to consult my office's Magic 8-Ball today. The question was "Will I have a boyfriend this weekend?" And the answer was "Yes. Definitely."

Of course my co-worker had to be a smartass and reply "But only for the weekend."

Hey, I'll take what I can get.

Here is a public 8-Ball online, if you need one. You can find other virtual 8-Balls online, but this one is an actual 8-Ball, sitting in a rocker cradle, with a webcam trained on it. As a result, service can be a bit iffy.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Non sequitur aside, Pt 2: Saw a boy at the coffeeshop this morning. I use the term "boy" as a broad descriptor for males that appear to be younger than myself. I really have no idea how old he is. He's a regular to the neighborhood, a lithe build with mocha-colored creamy skin, dark eyes, and black hair, which he typically keeps pulled back into a ponytail. Today, he walked into the shop with his hair free and I almost had a case of whiplash. He reminds me of a couple of boys I've loved in my life, but he strongly resembles Tripp. Tripp is still a dear friend, off in Hollywood seeking his creative fortune.

A gentleman recently asked me if I "prefer younger men." I wouldn't say I specifically seek out younger men and I've certainly dated a few older men in my life. I've always tended to run with a younger crowd and I'm sure I don't "act my age." I suppose one could hypothesize that I'm seeking to vicariously retain my youth, by being with younger men, I don't really know. But then, why really question it?

Friday, October 10, 2003

Non sequitur aside: I had a pretty creepy dream last night. I don't remember it verbatim, but it was something to the effect that I was being haunted by some being. The dream had a very noir-ish feel to it. Towards the end, I'm having sex with an anonymous guy and I very vividly hear this haunting creature calling my name. It completely woke me up and creeped me out so badly I had to distract myself for a good fifteen minutes before attempting to go back asleep. Didn't want that thing following me...

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Rubber Ball trip, Day 2 (events originally occured on Oct. 2): And boy howdy, did I kip off! I excessively kipped off. I was over-kipped. In additon to the two pints of cider, I had also taken a Tylenol PM and a milligram of melatonin. Age has not been especially kind to my sleep cycle, so I've gotten into the habit of taking melatonin, otherwise I have a tendency to wake up 4 or 5 times in the night. And ultimately, I would like to have a bed partner someday, so I have to keep myself trained to sleep as well as possible.

I actually fell asleep at about 8:30pm. Any international traveller will tell you, that you want to keep to your normal schedule as much as possible, so I was really going to bed too early. But dammitall, my body-clock was telling me I was tired. I roused around 2am, when Kali turned on a lamp to read. Instead of allowing myself to wake up completely, I rolled over. I came to a little bit around 7am and thought to myself, just a few more minutes and we'll get up and get on with the day. When I came to again, it was 11:30am. 11:30am?!! I had fuckin' slept almost 15 hours!

Kali and I shook off the sleep dust as quickly as possible, dressed, and hit the sidewalks. First stop: Knightsbridge, the home of that flagship of the retail industry, Harrods. From the outside, aside from the sometimes sumptious window displays, Harrods is as similar in height and design as any other older, big-block building in center London. The inside, however, is an entirely different story. Filled to the brim with luxury brands and items not often found in other large department stores. All the counterpersons wear either suits or clean smocks over dark clothing and address me and Kali as "Ma'am" or "Madame." The walls of the escalator area in the older section of the building are painted this staggering pink. And then there's the shoes. THE SHOES!!!

Never have I been in physical proximity of John Galliano shoes before. Or that many Pradas (though, personally, I find Prada shoes to be a bit overrated). They even had an exhibit of vintage Ferragamos. Long did we languish in the Hall of Shoes, fondling, caressing. It was such sweet sorrow to leave them all--those orphaned shoes, desparately in need of proper mistresses. But leave them we did, their little mewling sounds trailing in our wake.

Harrods' interior falls along the lines of classic Vegas casino design, in that the traffic flow is circuitous and confusing, nothing is clearly marked, there are no posted directories for departments, and no visible clocks. They want you lost in Shoppingland and they want you to spend money. So Kali and I obliged them by hitting the hosiery department for fine European stockings not readily available in the States. And of course, a toodle by the glove department.

During one of our escalator trips, we happen upon the most horrifying sight: a shrine to Princess Diana and Dodi al-Fayed, obviously created by Dodi's father, the owner of Harrods. Oddly macabre doesn't begin to describe it. First off, it's square in an escalator well, inside the department store. Second, it's just abyssmal, with awful little paintings of the deceased. Not even well-rendered paintings, just piddlin' paintings. Then it is surrounded with plants, flowers, and a few votive candles. And finally, tourists are taking photos of it. Ick.

After Harrods, we took a little turn through the Neal's Yard section, which holds all manner of twee boutiques, including an adorable cosmetics shop called Pout, where I procured a very fine red lipstick. As we strolled down a narrow alleyway (the streets of London are a sheer welter of passages, the city having been constructed long before the advent of a grid system) we passed a fine looking cheese shop and it was all I could do to restrain myself from leaping in the front door and quoting Monty Python's "The Cheese Shop" ad nauseum ("It's not much of a cheese shop is it?")

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Rubber Ball trip, Day 1 (events originally occured on Oct. 1): Cheerio pip pip from Londinium! The flight over was fairly uneventful, though I was able to get very little sleep (even with the Tylenol PM) due to the incredibly crowded nature of coach class on British Airways. Though frankly, even coach class on BA is light years better than coach class on any American air carrier. However, it does make one quite green with envy to walk past those full-length lounge seats in first class. Someday I'll fly first class in one of those lovely loungers.

Having been to London once before made the whole ordeal of getting onto the subway for the ride over to Bloomsbury much less daunting. Though Londoners view the "tube" as crowded and overpriced, it is simply the fastest and easiest way to travel long distances in London. Kali had warned me that the tube ride from Heathrow to Bloomsbury was going to take an hour and I thought she had been joshing. But, per my handy wristwatch, it was indeed an hour's trip. I got off at Holborn station, quickly consulted the neighborhood street map in the tube station, then set off to find the hotel.

What I quickly discovered was that the hotel had been improperly listed by the booking website. For our hotel was not to be found at 36 Bloomsbury Way, as stated by my reservations confirmation. I took a moment to step into the Thistle Bloomsbury Hotel (which is located at 36 Bloomsbury Way) to ask the doorman where I could find the Gresham Hotel. In an accent as thick as breakfast bacon, he gurgled some directions that I could not make out. I politely said thank you and then set off in the general direction he had pointed. At least I was in the right district, how hard could this be?

Amazingly enough, I had been able to intuit more of the doorman's directions than I thought, because I came upon the Gresham Hotel at 36 Bloomsbury Street fairly quickly. Checkin was completed by a nice Italian clerk. I happily bounded off to the room.

Another insight that my previous trip to London provided was the understanding that hotel rooms in London for under £100 are not at all posh. They are clean. They are serviceable. But they are not luxurious. The fact that we had a private bathroom in the hotel room was about as posh as it was going to get. However, it was a room facing the back of the building, which meant we would be shielded from considerable street noise. I organized my luggage and then took a much needed hot shower.

I was quite distressed to be unable to locate a telephone in the room. I had chosen this hotel precisely because it advertised in-room direct dialing and after the telecommunications debacle of our last London trip, this had been a huge consideration. I stopped at the front desk on my way out to scrounge some lunch and made mention of this. The lovely Italian desk clerk assured me a telephone would be present upon my return, though it would be a day before switchboard repairs would be complete and we would be able to dial out. Oh well, as long as we got service before the other members of Kali's entourage arrived in the city, we could make do.

After lunch, I tried to take a brief nap. Not long afterwards, the clerk rang the room (on our newly acquired telephone!) to inform me that Kali had arrived. Knowing that she would be hauling around tremendous amounts of luggage, I quickly scampered to the lobby to assist. She relayed to me the great pains she had undergone to locate the hotel as well, though she had done so from the relative comfort of a taxi. However, she had had to navigate the tube station's escalators only with the tremendously kind assistance of a passerby.

After some catching up, we headed towards Russell Square to have a nosh and a pint at her favorite pub, The Swan. According to Kali, having mixed drinks in London is a ripoff--they're weak and overpriced. Much better to have the local cider, which is still quite strong and easier on the wallet. I surprised myself by having two pints and then almost immediately feeling sleepy. The jet lag was catching up now, time to "kip off," as the locals say.