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Summer Odyssey 3.2 (Summer Od) – Northern California, Part 2!

I spent the last part of my Northern California trip in Berkeley at the LMDA (Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas) Conference. Even though I’ve been an LMDA member for quite some time, their conferences have always been either a) in an inconvenient location, or b) at an inconvenient time. However, I resolved to make it one year, and I guess this year was that year.

Day 3 of the trip, or Thursday, was Day 1 of the conference. I headed across the bay from San Francisco to Berkeley, bright and early. I couldn’t check into my Airbnb until 2 PM, so I had to spend the first few hours of the conference lugging around all of my stuff around the building in which the conference took place, the Ed Roberts building. A community center of sorts, we were sharing space with people of varying abilities going about their daily business, whether it was going to the employment office or a yoga class.

The elevators in the building were probably the most interesting ones I’ve ever seen. When the doors opened, a lady walked in and actually kicked the wall. I was thinking, well someone’s having a bad day, until I realized that there were floor buttons on the bottom of the elevator walls. Of course, they were in the normal place as well, but this way, someone with a cane or wheelchair could hit them easily. Pretty neat.

This conference was way smaller than ATHE. I’m talking 120 people, maximum. I actually counted, and I only saw 10 people I knew before. Fortunately, they were 10 people I adore and was excited to reconnect with, in passing. I got to talk with some of them at our regional lunch (Midwest/Metro Chicago/Great Plains), on the second floor terrace.

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Summer Odyssey 3.1 (or, Summer Od) – Northern California!

I know I’ve been missing for awhile, but fear not, I’m hanging in there. I’ve been on the go on my first trek of the summer. Currently, I’m in Towson, on the third leg of this go-round. The first two were last week: Tuesday-Thursday in San Francisco, California, and Thursday-Saturday in Berkeley before arriving in Washington on Sunday, and I’ll be here in Baltimore until Monday.

To recap:

I decided to bite the bullet this year and go to the theatre conference I usually don’t or can’t go to, LMDA. This year, it happened to be in Berkeley, and California seemed like an appealing change of scenery from Wisconsin, so off I went. The conference is only 2.5 days unlike the 4 days of ATHE (which is this August in Vegas!) so rather than fly to the West Coast and screw up my body clock for just a few days, I decided to add on two days at the beginning and play tourist in San Francisco, which I have not seen since I was about 7 or 8. Also, Ciara moved there last year to be a flight attendant on United, so I could spend some time catching up with her.

Day 1: Up at 7 AM to catch my super-early flight to Denver, with a 2-hour layover there before getting to San Francisco. The airport there is really confusing, and it took me about an hour to figure out how to get out of there and get to my Airbnb, which was in the Excelsior District. My hostess, Kate, was an absolute treasure, and the accommodations were spacious and comfortable; I’d absolutely stay there again.

My first goal of the trip was to get my National Park Passport stamped from any/all of the sites in San Francisco, and since it was 3:30 PM, I had to hustle in order to get to any of them, the closest of which was an hour away. So I made my first quasi-mistake of the trip, taking the bus there. I got there on time and in one piece, but I forgot that San Francisco has hills, so I spent most of that hour clutching my bag on my lap and keeping my eyes shut to keep myself from passing out/throwing up. Eventually, we made it to the Presidio, where I got stamps for Golden Gate NRA. The park rangers told me about a few more stamping stations around the Presidio, including one that was open until 6 PM (it was 4:50 when I got to the Presidio Visitors’ Center, and they closed at 5), so I caught the free shuttle to the bridge lookout at Crissy Field. Fort Point had a separate stamp, but alas, they were only open on weekends, so next time for me.

The Golden Gate Bridge is pretty, and I hummed the Full House theme song in my head as I took pictures and tried to sidestep the crowds of foreigners and the Jehovah’s Witnesses set up in English and Japanese (I swear, they’re everywhere these days). However, there’s not too much to do there other than photo ops and overpriced snacks (at least not at 5 PM, so I waited for the free shuttle back to the Presidio, since I didn’t have a car or another way back. Another mistake there; had I walked or taken a cab/Uber, I wouldn’t have had to wait the hour I waited for the free shuttle. And it wasn’t just an hour, it was an hour in chilly bay winds, and I was in short sleeves. Eventually I made it back to the Presidio, and a friendly lady on the bus told me to check out Chestnut Street for dinner.

I ended up spending the last hour of sunlight in a busy Starbucks, recharging my phone, which was almost dead at that point, and eating a late lunch. Dinner was Thai food at a place called Blackwood. I had some spicy ahi tuna while watching all the yuppies hop between wine bars before heading back to the Airbnb for the evening, during which I made my third mistake, leaving my phone in the Uber. Luckily, I managed to contact the guy, who brought it back to me at 11 the next morning. Still, it was strange and confusing being without my phone for 12 hours (mostly because I was staying in a stranger’s house, in a strange city, where I knew basically no one).

Day 2: Wednesday.

I stayed up worrying about my phone, but when I woke up, I realized that it probably wouldn’t look good for the Uber driver to steal my phone – I could go on the website and write a bad review, which would have been sad because he was really nice to me in the car – but after an hour of worrying (he promised to drop it by at 10), he came by with it at 11. Kate was really nice throughout the whole thing; she made me coffee and kept me company while I waited. It was sad to leave her the next day.

Next up was…lunch with Ciara! We had a happy reunion and caught up on our lives over fresh fish at Pier 39 in Fisherman’s Wharf. Then, we walked to the San Francisco Maritime museum, which was really informative, plus I got some stamps. I bought her some chocolate at Ghirardelli Square, and after a quick Starbucks (where we made a birthday video for Alex), we walked to Chinatown, which was really fun. Even though I’m not the biggest shopper, I just couldn’t pass it up, and ended up spending about 15 dollars on a gift for Kate for helping me out (a calligraphy of her name in Chinese characters in a red cardboard frame), a bracelet, and 2 cute toy panda keychains, on sale for 99 cents. I wanted to get a rayon jacket to replace the one I lost, but they were pretty expensive, and Ciara said she’d get one for me for a quarter of the price the next time she had a layover in China or Taiwan.

We ended the day back at Ciara’s place, with Netflix and Middle Eastern food delivery, before I Ubered back to Kate’s place and packed up for the next leg of the trip – the conference itself, in Berkeley.

My fingers are getting tired, so stay tuned for a recap of parts 2 and 3 of the trip – part 2 is the conference in Berkeley, and part 3 is the part I’m currently on, which started on Sunday night at a banquet in my sister’s honor in DC, followed by a whole lot of sleeping, and will conclude next Sunday with my cousin’s wedding in Potomac.

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Nepalapalooza

A fun title for what might be a not-so-fun post, or at least not the most uplifting one, but it’s the second book in the recent past I’ve read about Nepal and incidentally also the second one I’ve read by Jon Krakauer, so I thought it appropriate. Here’s my take on his book Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster.

Laconic recap: This book is not for the faint of heart. Granted, Krakauer’s books aren’t on the feel-good side in general, but this one was particularly striking. It was gripping, though, at the same time, and as I read more, I really felt like time slowed down to a stop, just like it must have been on that freezing, windy night up on Mount Everest in May 1996.

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Why I Now Own A Snoopy Notepad

The other day, I found some delicious mixed nuts at Marshalls.

They were so delicious, in fact, that I returned a few days later, to buy the remaining three bags, but steeled myself to pick up at least one other thing so it didn’t seem like I just came for mixed nuts. So I picked up a few random items.

And that’s why I now own a Snoopy notepad.

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What Fresh Hell Can This Be: International Mailing

I sent a book to Texas this week that cost me $4.

I sent a book half that size to Finland, which cost me $22.50.

What is wrong with this picture?

**another update to this post**

One of my favorite hobbies is sending and receiving books via BookCrossing or PaperBackSwap. Now that I’m moving to a new place in August, one of my goals is to get rid of unnecessary stuff, including some of my extensive book collection. In the past few weeks, I have managed to read and send out 15-20 books to people, mostly via PaperBackSwap, which is domestic only, versus BookCrossing, which can be international.

Media Mail is one of the most wonderful things ever invented for sending books around the country. It starts at about $2.63 per package, going up a few dollars if it’s a particularly heavy book, and given that I’ve gotten a lot of books for free either as gifts or from friends, it’s a very small price to pay for the cost of a good read. However, Media Mail only exists in the USA, and I learned the hard way this week that the base price for international mailing is a criminal $22.50, which I paid twice, once to Finland and once to the UK. For that kind of money, you could probably buy at least 2 copies of the same book over there and still have enough left over for a cup of tea, or whatever the Finns drink (cocoa?) to sip while you enjoyed reading. To make things worse, while Media Mail has free tracking (which used to cost extra), you have to fill out an extra customs form to send things overseas, and there’s no tracking system, so if you’re sending something to, say, Istanbul, and it doesn’t get there, it could be anywhere from under the desk of the postmaster in Madison or in the back of a truck halfway to Syria, for what it’s worth.

One other option for international mailing is FedEx, which is also criminally expensive but at least comes with tracking. I used it just once to send something to Israel, and it cost me twice what the item was worth, but at least I got to see it bounce from Madison through Memphis, London, and Paris before it eventually arrived in Israel, safely. Never doing that again unless it’s a real emergency.

So how do we solve this? I have no clue. Write to my congressman? My postmaster? I don’t remember it ever being this costly to send stuff overseas, and at this rate if I keep offering books to people in other countries, it’s eventually going to bankrupt me.

For now, at least, I’m sticking to PBS, and the occasional domestic bookcrosser. I guess the days of fun international shipping are over. Sigh.

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Jenna Julien Podcast Commentary (possibly part one?)

So, I’m kind of obsessed with anything Jenna Marbles/Waffsicle, which includes watching each week’s Jenna Julien podcast in full, even if it’s over an hour long. Usually I do it alone, on my couch, on a weeknight. Today, I was preparing to do the same, when I randomly posted what I was doing in Waffsicle Skype chat and half-jokingly asked if anyone wanted to watch with me. And weirdly enough, I got a very quick bleep-blorp from another chatter saying that she would!

Everyone, meet my new best friend Gessica Getto (a self-made, Jenna-inspired pseudonym), coming to you live from Fort Collins, Colorado.

Below is the video we watched and our commentary on it. I’ll try to break it up every so often with a gif or a picture so it’s not just a wall of text.

So, here it goes…Jacob and Gessica’s take on Jenna Julien Podcast Episode #144: Don’t Get Me Started.

[9:55:32 PM] Jacob: OK, got my Google cast set up and about to stream
[9:55:53 PM] Gessica Getto: Ok I’m getting there
[9:56:15 PM] Jacob: Cool, maybe I can put this up as commentary on mah blog
[9:56:30 PM] Gessica Getto: Oh yes please do!
[9:56:57 PM] Jacob: This episode is brought to you by Naturebox WHAT A DEAL, Marble’s backpack, and Jenna’s fierce hair realness
[9:57:14 PM] Gessica Getto: 😂 yesssss
[9:57:41 PM] Jacob: And Meeeeundies, which I would never wear, because…I’m actually a garbage person IRL
[9:57:51 PM] Gessica Getto: 😂😂😂
[9:58:02 PM] Jacob: Jenna’s ready for her closeup with dat shawl doe
[9:58:36 PM] Gessica Getto: Ooooo yes gurl get it
[9:58:41 PM] Jacob: her hair shape looks like Princess Leia’s mother, IKR?
[9:58:52 PM] Jacob: or some red extension cords
[9:58:58 PM] Gessica Getto: It does 😂😂

Padme Amidala

Princess Leia’s actual mother is Padme Amidala. Not too far off… (photo from AboutSerialKillerMovies.blogspot.com)

[10:00:30 PM] Jacob: Oh Marble.
[10:00:49 PM] Gessica Getto: He’s so cute in his little suitcase 😂
[10:00:51 PM] Jacob: I’m up to the part where Julien is explaining.
[10:01:05 PM] Jacob: And Jenna’s wearing Wisconsin HELL YEAH
[10:01:11 PM] Jacob: I want a WI LMT so bad
[10:01:19 PM] Jacob: Jenna pulls from the hat…
[10:01:25 PM] Gessica Getto: HELLZ YES
[10:01:33 PM] Jacob: Renting your house?
[10:01:45 PM] Jacob: that was some noise, Jenna
[10:02:57 PM] Jacob: …and now we know how many toilets J and J have.
[10:03:23 PM] Gessica Getto: Yep 😂 it’s nice to know
[10:04:28 PM] Jacob: BTW, I wonder if Jenna has seen Waitress the Musical, I think she’d like it because the main character’s name is Jenna. Whenever I listen to the soundtrack I always imagine Jenna as Jenna.
[10:05:09 PM] Gessica Getto: 😂😂😂 Oml that’s hilarious
[10:05:19 PM] Jacob: I’ll link you when we’re done

It only takes…Jessie Mueller as Jenna in Waitress (photo from Pinterest)

[10:05:29 PM] Jacob: TBH, them talking about their house is kinda boring
[10:05:38 PM] Jacob: Unless plot twist, they have an open house@
[10:06:29 PM] Jacob: Ok, Julie’s turn
[10:06:40 PM] Gessica Getto: Yesssss
[10:06:42 PM] Jacob: LOL ITS ABOUT JENNA
[10:07:02 PM] Jacob: Jenna is absolutely right, she would rant about it.
[10:07:19 PM] Gessica Getto: 😂😂😂😂 SO TRUE
[10:08:18 PM] Jacob: “Will you wheel me around?” ::slow motion pull::
[10:09:28 PM] Jacob: Marbles in his PATW
[10:09:37 PM] Jacob: Jenna picks…Gildey
[10:10:02 PM] Jacob: No it was Julien
[10:10:10 PM] Gessica Getto: Oh lord Gildey 😂😂
[10:10:30 PM] Jacob: She’s not in the videos enough for us to really know a lot about her.
[10:10:37 PM] Gessica Getto: “She runs away!” 😂
[10:10:44 PM] Jacob: I only remember her from 4-way dog sweater
[10:11:22 PM] Gessica Getto: I remember her from Debbie bringing her around in the vlogs and stuff
[10:11:26 PM] Jacob: Heh, dogs that don’t know how to dog
[10:11:38 PM] Jacob: Yeah, but she was not really featured.
[10:11:50 PM] Jacob: I wish I had a dog 😦 never have
[10:12:06 PM] Gessica Getto: Yeah that’s true. You’ve never had a dog??? Really?!
[10:12:13 PM] Jacob: No.
[10:12:25 PM] Jacob: Not a lot of people had them where I grew up.
[10:15:39 PM] Jacob: Yeah, morning drinking, kind of pathetic
[10:16:02 PM] Jacob: It’s called Kathie Lee is watching her years trickle by.
[10:16:06 PM] Gessica Getto: *cat
[10:16:21 PM] Gessica Getto: 😂😂😂😂
[10:16:53 PM] Jacob: Yeah, Hoda is annoying.
[10:17:08 PM] Gessica Getto: Yeah
[10:17:23 PM] Jacob: LOL I almost thought he was going to say wine drinking ho

Much funnier gif than what you find when searching “wine drinking ho.” (photo from Giphy)

[10:17:38 PM] Gessica Getto: 😂😂😂😂 I did too
[10:17:46 PM] Jacob: SAMESIES!
[10:18:02 PM] Gessica Getto: TWINSIES!! 😂
[10:18:08 PM] Jacob: This is so much better than just watching it alone.
[10:18:20 PM] Jacob: With my lame lime water and chicken
[10:18:50 PM] Gessica Getto: It is! I literally don’t have friends so this is the most fun I’ve had in a while. Ooooo and chicken sounds good!
[10:19:21 PM] Jacob: Julien picks…
[10:19:37 PM] Jacob: huh?
[10:19:54 PM] Gessica Getto: What?
[10:20:11 PM] Jacob: ah, ok, Jenna explained it.
[10:20:18 PM] Gessica Getto: Yeah ok
[10:20:35 PM] Jacob: “for centuries in video games”
[10:20:56 PM] Jacob: Yep, just like Marie Antoinette did.
[10:21:08 PM] Gessica Getto: Yep
[10:21:53 PM] Jacob: Kind of a pet peeve when they say asinine comparisons like that.
[10:22:19 PM] Gessica Getto: Yeah it’s a bit annoying 😂
[10:22:52 PM] Jacob: Also, not a video gamer here
[10:22:58 PM] Jacob: You?
[10:23:29 PM] Gessica Getto: I know some but not much. I just play a lot of GTA 5 and the old original Nintendo games
[10:23:43 PM] Jacob: Yeah, another thing I did not have growing up.
[10:23:53 PM] Jacob: Although in theatre we had body mics

Image result for old original nintendo games

Maybe this? (picture from nesfiles.com)

[10:25:58 PM] Jacob: Is Julien doing all the picking from now on?
[10:26:02 PM] Jacob: AD TIME
[10:26:10 PM] Gessica Getto: I guess so
[10:26:35 PM] Jacob: Jenna singing Madonna
[10:27:07 PM] Gessica Getto: Her singing gives me life 😂
[10:27:21 PM] Jacob: I legit LOLed “have these been on your butt?”
[10:27:24 PM] Gessica Getto: I don’t either tbh
[10:27:31 PM] Gessica Getto: 😂😂😂 that was great
[10:29:51 PM] Jacob: Contact probs are real life
[10:30:08 PM] Gessica Getto: They are definitely
[10:30:17 PM] Jacob: Next up…something else I don’t know much about.
[10:30:29 PM] Gessica Getto: Yep
[10:31:15 PM] Gessica Getto: I’m so sorry I’m like the most boring person ever I don’t know how to talk to people sorry if I’m lame
[10:31:35 PM] Jacob: Just comment on what you’re seeing/hearing 🙂
[10:31:57 PM] Jacob: I think Katy Perry peaked at I Kissed A Girl
[10:32:02 PM] Gessica Getto: Alright 👍
[10:32:06 PM] Gessica Getto: Yes I agree
[10:32:16 PM] Gessica Getto: Her new stuff I’m not a fan of
[10:33:34 PM] Gessica Getto: I’m actually surprised that she is on YouTube and does livestreams
[10:33:53 PM] Jacob: I just feel like she wants to one-up everyone
[10:34:00 PM] Jacob: Out Gaga-gaga, Out Miley-miley
[10:34:59 PM] Gessica Getto: Yeah, it seems like it to me. I’ve never been a big fan of her, but I listen to classic rock so I don’t really have a good grasp on music from the present
[10:35:51 PM] Jacob: Whoop there it is

Image result for pitch perfect whoop there it is

Thank you, Rebel Wilson. (gif from Giphy)

[10:36:10 PM] Jacob: Katy Perry
[10:36:21 PM] Jacob: Katy Perry + YouTube = $$
[10:36:45 PM] Gessica Getto: It’s so true
[10:37:06 PM] Jacob: If you can’t do the content, get off the YouTewbs
[10:38:32 PM] Gessica Getto: She did a therapy session? Jesus get off your high horse Katy
[10:38:47 PM] Jacob: I think she’s on a marshmallow horse
[10:38:59 PM] Gessica Getto: 😂😂😂😂😂 true
[10:39:20 PM] Jacob: I’m up to pulp
[10:39:28 PM] Jacob: I don’t like orange juice at all
[10:39:49 PM] Jacob: Is he referencing Dewey Defeats Truman?
[10:39:57 PM] Jacob: That was unexpected.
[10:39:58 PM] Gessica Getto: I’m not supposed to drink orange juice because of the sugar content
[10:40:06 PM] Jacob: Me with the acid
[10:40:36 PM] Gessica Getto: Yeah. I do crave it once in a while but I don’t ever drink it
[10:40:49 PM] Jacob: You know what is good though?
[10:40:55 PM] Gessica Getto: What?
[10:40:55 PM] Jacob: Chicken made with frozen OJ
[10:41:04 PM] Jacob: it’s surprisingly tasty
[10:41:16 PM] Gessica Getto: OH YEA THAT IS VERY TASTY
[10:41:20 PM] Jacob: To make orange chicken
[10:41:37 PM] Gessica Getto: It’s really good I do agree
[10:41:54 PM] Jacob: Starbucks Refreshers have bits
[10:42:06 PM] Jacob: Heh he thought Starbucks too
[10:42:14 PM] Jacob: Bubble tea!
[10:42:19 PM] Jacob: Jenna, bubble tea!
[10:42:34 PM] Gessica Getto: I’ve never actually had bubble tea

Image result for bubble tea

Me, yelling at my screen (gif from Rebloggy)

[10:42:44 PM] Jacob: Jenna’s turn!
[10:43:06 PM] Jacob: Heh, we haven’t seen Ad in a while
[10:44:30 PM] Gessica Getto: Jenna scared Ad 😂 I feel awful but it’s slightly funny
[10:45:12 PM] Jacob: Julien describing what a hamster does
[10:45:44 PM] Gessica Getto: 😂😂😂 it’s perfect I love it
[10:45:56 PM] Jacob: Julien picks Post Mates
[10:46:06 PM] Jacob: Another thing I’ve never used and can’t relate to!
[10:46:12 PM] Jacob: But its J and J so whatevs.
[10:47:07 PM] Gessica Getto: I don’t have access to postmates in Colorado so I can relate that we can’t relate to using postmates
[10:47:27 PM] Jacob: I’ve never even looked if it’s here in WI.
[10:47:52 PM] Gessica Getto: No one I know knows what Post Mates is
[10:50:24 PM] Jacob: I’ve never seen Ree either
[10:50:38 PM] Gessica Getto: I can relate to Taco Bell tho
[10:51:10 PM] Jacob: Julien outros with a dog hat
[10:51:23 PM] Jacob: Dop dop dop dop deep deep
[10:51:54 PM] Gessica Getto: 😂😂😂 best out to ever
[10:51:55 PM] Jacob: That was fun, we should coordinate another watching!
[10:52:12 PM] Jacob: I think I’ma go check on my laundry
[10:52:36 PM] Gessica Getto: Yeah definitely! I’ll have to fix my computer so I don’t have to hop back and forth. Ok, have fun with laundry!
[10:53:01 PM] Jacob: Hope no one threw it on the floor. Don’t get me started….

 

 

If you came down this far, hope you enjoyed reading this kind of lazy post 🙂