Archive for the Travel Category

Pride in my City

Pride in my City, originally uploaded by pinkyracer.

I learned many things in business school, and today I’d like to talk about what I learned while living in Chapel Hill. Being from San Francisco, even from San Mateo, the dull suburb where I’m actually from, I grew up knowing that San Francisco was some amazing place that everyone loves and wants to live in. I took it for granted, but was also completely prejudiced against all small towns and all the blank space between California and New York City. I have since learned that there are some notable and interesting places between those two points, but I also learned that I still don’t want to live in a small town.

What I came to realize was really missing from Chapel Thrill and environs, was a gay district. I decided that having a gay district automatically rockets a city solidly into coolness. Even if I never set foot in that district, I need to have friends who do. I need to work with people who do. I need gay people in my life because they are so freakin’ awesome. I need to be in a city where it is beyond OK to be gay. Where it’s so ok, even straight guys pretend they’re gay. Which is weird, kinda like being whiggers, but whatever.

See, you won’t find such behavior in Chapel Thrill. Not even in Carrboro, really. Sure, there are LGBT folk there, but they don’t have a Place. A place that can serve as an anchor. Which makes for a rather dull and dismal town, if you ask me. And no, Open Eye café does not count as a gay district, I don’t care how small the town is. Yes, I am neglecting to discuss my lesbian friends, who are often neglected in these discussions. But what’s interesting, is that I really don’t see nearly as much discrimination against lesbians as I do against the rest of the acronym. Homosexual men get beaten to death, while women get immortalized in a million porn videos.

Growing up here, I never knew what those rainbow flags meant, I just thought they were a popular decorative object. I stopped at Castro & Market to take these pictures, as I’ve never noticed this ginormous flag before, and it means so much more to me now, between living in a small town in the south for 1.5 years, and watching Milk. There was nothing better than Castro and Market on Halloween, except maybe the West Village or West Hollywood… I wish we didn’t have so many small minded people living in this state, then my gay friends could have the same rights my straight friends enjoy.

Gay pride week is June 20-28. Regardless of your orientation or identity, be proud that you live in a country where people are (finally, after centuries of struggle and hardship) able to be true to themselves, at least in cities like San Francisco.

Eyes on the prize…

The past week has been such a blur, I can’t even recall if I blogged about this. Don’t think so, and due to the pinheads who control our access to the interwebs, I can’t check right now. But I’m pretty sure my last post was about riding in Texas. Which was awesome, especially when I scoffed at the Tesla guy at the Maker faire. He told me the top speed was a measly 125mph, I scoffed and he asked “when’s the last time you went over 125?” I had trouble remembering what day of the week it had been, and was clearly struggling to recall. So he said “Tuesday?” and I was like “yes, I think it was Tuesday, it must have been since I drove from Marfa, tx to Indio, California on Wednesday.” 😉

So the prize. The prize is a pearl white Ducati 848, because I am no longer a size queen, and am interested in more rational types of motorcycles. Unfortunately, no pix with this one, but I will attempt to give this sexy beast justice with mere words. Not only is she drop-dead gorgeous, with a (termignoni-assisted) voice that rumbles to the very depths of my soul, making me want to do whatever it takes to ensure she’s got a lifetime supply of sweet crude… She’s also tons of fun. I dropped by Ducati Beverly hills to say hi to my friends, and they immediately escorted me out the door onto their demo model. Well. The 848 was ecstatic everywhere, lanesplitting up la cienega, posing on sunset plaza, racing the fancy cars down sunset to Beverly glen, crawling up Beverly glen with rush hour traffic, even sitting at an interminable red light. The heat dissipates almost entirely to the crotch, so it’s a great bike for guys who want to be extra sure they’re not getting any surprise babies. Which is better than the R1, which literally cooks my legs.

The only problem was mulholland, where her excessively stiff factory setup made the endless bumps unbearable. But hey, that’s a $20 fix at the first track day.

So I’m a bit behind here, that was Thursday and since then I’ve driven to San francisco, gone to the maker faire, and am 2 days into the conference that may very well lead to the job that will enable me to run right out and buy this sexy beast. But don’t tell my R1 that. She did a great job getting me here, we had soo much fun. And she’s so good to me, even though I ignored the tow away zone sign and left her on the street in LA. It was bad enough to leave her on the mean streets of downtown LA all night, but then to subject her to the indignity of being schlepped to the pound for my mistake… Poor baby, I left a Ducati for her, and now it’s looking like I’m about to leave her for a Ducati.

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my precious baby, originally uploaded by pinkyracer.

feels soooo good to get out and stretch my baby’s legs! Big Bend, TX is the perfect place to blow out the cobwebs on an R1, that’s for sure. Soft sweepers and big long straights and nobody around for miles. I thought about going into Mexico, even stopped at the border and asked if it was a good idea. The cop couldn’t tell me whether to go or not, but did choose to mention the day’s murder rate as an indicator. It was 1 today and 1 yesterday. Probably a tad higher (per capita) than LA. So I said “Is that due to the drug war we keep hearing about?” and he gave a very professionally noncommittal answer that suggested I was jumping to the right conclusion. So I turned around and headed into Big Bend park, thinking I’d do this fun little loop I saw on the map. Yeah. Like they do anything little in Texas…

Continue reading aaaaahhhhhhhh

travel tales

remind me never to drink an entire bottle of water with dinner. ouch. but it was such delicious water, and I was so very thirsty after driving from Dallas to Marfa. So I’m a bit behind here. It’s been a whirlwind of traveling, with nothing terribly interesting to report. Except what happened yesterday. Nervous about the long and lonely drive ahead, I did my best to prepare. I actually meditated Sunday morning, which was lovely and must happen more often. It’s likely to, now that I’ve also realized I’m ready to more actively pursue my interest in Buddhism.

So, I then stopped at the awesome food coop across from the Vortex in Little Five Points (We’re in Atlanta now, do try to keep up) and loaded up on all the agave-sweetened chocolate they had (so why the chocolate souffle at the restaurant tonight???). So I’m ready for a day of my absolute least favorite activity- driving a car in the USA, particularly in the South, where everyone just wants to mosey along enjoying the scenery. Well, imagine my delight when I spy a group of hitchikers with a very slick sign proclaiming "Dallas" only an hour outside Atlanta. I was like "Wait a minute…. I’m going to Dallas, too…!" They looked like harmless hippie kids so I safely pulled over about a mile down the road and walked back to let them know they had a ride (OK, not that far, but walking along the highway sure made it feel like a long way). They met me halfway and Aaron told me they were returning home after competing in the great hitchiking race.

My intuition told me they were legit, so they piled in and I continued to drive at first, to better get acquainted with my new chauffeurs before putting them to work. Soon after, I felt comfortable enough putting them in control and did not drive again until I dropped Pinkston off in Dallas the next morning. Aaron’s mom put us all up for the night in Van. A town named Van, not the vehicle. She lives next to some farm animals and an oil rig. Which remind me of the negotiations assignment where I was supposed to be representing an oil company that wanted to buy someone’s land without paying them what it could be worth. Judging by the quality of the homes in the area, nobody was getting cut into this deal. As a representative of the fictitious oil company, I could not lie or even withhold the truth, and let slip that we suspected there was something of value, so wound up giving the seller 10% of whatever we happened to sell that came out of the ground. Which was still below the max $ amount I was allowed to give up, as long as I didn’t give him 10% in perpetuity. I suspect the oil company that bought this patch of land had a much slicker negotiator on their staff.

In any case, the hitchikers were good kids, Emily is working on a master’s in geology, Pinkston is finishing his BA in film, and Aaron has a degree in communication and persuasion, which I’m sure is what’s facilitated his career as a professional hitchiker. I gave them my cards and told them to stay in touch. Then I drove to Marfa without incident. I love driving across Texas. The speed limit is 80 and there’s no traffic.

Sign on Franklin St.

Sign on Franklin St., originally uploaded by pinkyracer.

It’s official! I’m gradumated. 🙂 Need to go to sleep now, but had to post tonight’s pics first. The full force of what I’ve done hasn’t quite hit me yet. It almost did on the way to school, when I thought about the first semester, and how I almost didn’t make it. Thinking about how I got through that and managed to actually graduate from one of the best MBA programs in the world got me a little choked up. But I didn’t want to mess up my makeup, so I thought about how I still need to find a job. 🙂

My peeps:

I’m going to continue missing everybody as I did while in Spain. Never before in my life have I known such an intense level of camaraderie. I feel like I am leaving my 286 best friends.

Barcelona- her good side

The party begins!, originally uploaded by pinkyracer.

In the interest of balancing the ledger, I need to tell you what I liked about Barcelona, as there are some things I’ll definitely miss:

Circles instead of intersections. Absolute genius, and I wish there were more of these in the world.

Eating dinner at 11pm

2 wheels RULE the road. Scooters get more respect in Barcelona than any other vehicle. If only I could turn LA into the scooter town that Barcelona is…

Barca! Now I have a football (soccer to most of my friends) team to root for! This is the beginning of the street party that erupted after we won the last semi-final. More team spirit than even Carolina, blasphemous though that is.

Cute shops, funky architecture, awesome public transit, thriving arts scene, my awesome landlord in Raval, Mattia46 scooter rentals, the topography being so much like LA, especially from the mountains.

Most of all- the AWESOME drivers! Spanish people really know how to drive/ride, there’s a reason so many top racers come out of Spain.They drive fast and pay attention. I saw way more close calls and stupid moves in 9 days in Paris than I ever did the whole 4 months in Barcelona. Riding there was a dream.

I think there was something else, but I forgot it.

I can wheelie!

I can wheelie!, originally uploaded by pinkyracer.

So while I should be desperately seeking employment, I’m off in Southern Spain, doing my duty to help this hard-hit economy. 🙂 It’s what I do best, really. Britt and I went to MotoGP in Jerez, which was awesome except for the part about trying to drive a car in Arcos. More about that later. Here’s the only bike I got to ride in Jerez. But it was a fun ride. Betcha didn’t know I could do such sick wheelies, didja?

The races were awesome, the weather was fabulous, and we had entirely too much fun. I need to get over being such a perfectionist, though. Britt had to suffer through my moments of angst as I got lost repeatedly. I NEVER get lost. I can usually go somewhere once and find my way back a few weeks or even months later. But not Arcos de la Frontera. That pueblo kicked my ass.

Jerez was kinda dead, apparently they usually get way more than 120,000 people showing up to the race! Actually made me look forward to Laguna Seca even more, since I’ll be on MY bike! And since Cannery row is bound to be more lively than Jerez was this year. It was nothing like Valencia. But I suspect the real party was in the campgrounds at the track, and not in town.

try to keep up…

Since I’m all over the map these days, I figured I’d just run through the schedule here so people who care can keep track:

March 28-31: Nice, France: The new code word for reminding me I’m about to embark on a really bad idea.
April 3-6: Valencia, Spain: World Superbike with Britt
April 8-11: Bilbao, Spain: Guggenheim, crazy Easter parades, Spa with circus people
April 20-29: Paris, France: Shop till ya drop with friends
April 30-May 4: Jerez de la Frontera, Spain: MotoGP!!!
May 7-12: Chapel Hill, NC, USA: Graduation!!!
May 13-20: NYC: beg for work, hang out, etc.
May 22-24: Atlanta: track day, hang out, enjoy springtime in the south
May 25-29: Express road trip to San Francisco via Marfa, TX with Yaron, if he can stand it again.
May 30: San Mateo, CA: Maker Faire with Dave and his critters
May 31-June 4: Monterey, CA: Sustainable Brands International Conference: beg shamelessly for work, make lots of new friends.
June 5-…depends on the efficacy of my begging efforts. 😉

New YSL Stillettos!

New YSL Stillettos!, originally uploaded by pinkyracer.

OK, so roughly 13 months after I first realized I couldn’t live without these shoes, I wound up buying them. Talk about restraint. No, they weren’t on sale. This style is too timeless, unfortunately. They repeated it this season, in a better texture (patent faux alligator) and well, I couldn’t resist Le Dianna’s evil influence and flattery. She refused to let me leave the store without buying them. At full price. While the dollar is weaker than it’s been in recent months. So wrong. But you see, the French economy needs my help.

Quel crise. 😉 But they’re gorgeous and someday I might even be able to walk in them. Or at least be carried around on a divan by 4 strapping hunks…. The ankle/foot is taking forever to get to 100% because I refuse to slow down. I’m walking slow, but walking like hours and hours through the fabulous streets of Paris. Life is too short to let opportunities pass me by. When I’m huddled in my parent’s basement brewing up my business or busting my ass working long hours at my fabulous new job that actually challenges me to think hard, I can recall these days of roaming & consuming as a wonderful last big hurrah. Imagine that, being paid to think for a living instead of just being paid to draw lines on paper. I can’t wait.

So I have essentially begun my life as a nomad, since finishing school in March, and it’s about to become even more nomadic as Thursday will be my last day with a home base in Barcelona. My home is where I make it. Or, materialist that I am, my home is in a storage unit in Durham, NC. Or, my home is where I’m from, since that’s where I’m headed unless I start doing some serious hustlin’.

Bilbao during Santa Semana. no wait, first a word from my future… :-)

The story of Bilbao is a dull and rather existentialist one full of ennui and lonesome misery in the endless rain, which I can’t rush through. I will try to give it justice sometime tomorrow, but really think it’s more likely to spark a novel.

Right now, I’m in a better mood after rejoining my friends in Barcelona. I’m even grateful to be back in Raval,  because the muslims store owners see no reason to shut down on Easter Sunday, unlike all the devout Catholics driving this country deeper into financial ruin by taking damn near an entire week off for Easter. Speaking of which, I finally went to church in Barcelona! 😉 Paddock Motard Bar (which I happen to live very close to, and you’ve read about before here), was open for Sunday services: to show the MotoGP races. They had set out all the chairs they had in rows facing the TV’s and the place was packed with rabid fans watching the 125 race when I arrived. It was awesome! Everyone was going crazy, and it felt so damn good to be somewhere in Spain where Easter didn’t seem to be bringing life to a grinding halt. However, mother nature brought MotoGP to a slippery halt, as it was rained out. grrrr. It rains like 4 days a year in Qatar, and it seems those 4 days are always when the GP is in town! They actually had to cancel the race because they run it at night to show off some fancy lights. The problem is: bright lights + rain = zero visibility. pffft. do it in tha daytime, people!

I’m more interested in keeping my eyes on the prize. Whenever I need a boost, looking at real estate in LA makes me happy. It’s a pleasant way of daydreaming about what I want in life, thinking about where I want to live next. So today’s entry is this third floor loft in the fabulous Barker building. I went to a party at a friend’s loft there in August (which feels like a million years ago) and fell in love with the place. The sexy rooftop pool/spa, the Urth caffe across the street, the whole downtown arts dist. vibe. Love it. Would sacrifice a private garage for it…