Today I am in California. This is another new and wonderful place, to continue the last month’s trend of new and experimental living. I am here to visit a client but luckily both the people I worked with are super great. They broke for lunch at 11:30am which felt almost scandalous and took me to In N Out Burger. They were listing restaurants nearby and mentioned the place, and I said I’d never been to one. They were scandalized in the way that only people from Southern California can be. (Yes, they are both natives and called it SoCal, but no, I can’t say SoCal with a straight face.)
Client: “What. Do. You. Mean. You. Have. Never. Had. In. N. Out.”
Me:” Um, I have never been to California before?”
Client: “But it’s In N Out!”
Client: “I don’t understand. What kind of place did you live. Did it also have cavemen. Pls explain.”
This, I have come to realize from my California clients over the years, is just the way people from this state react to most things that don’t happen within about fifteen minutes of California. I am admittedly unconvinced that Texas should be considered part of the US, but California takes it to a new level. I am pretty sure Californians don’t really consider anything outside of San Diego to Los Angeles as actual civilization.
But being here, I kind of get it. After leaving the clients’ I answered work e-mails for an hour and then hopped down to the hotel pool and sat outside reading (it was 85 degrees so without the sun I decided it was too cold to swim. Acclimation is real.) They took me out to dinner at a hibachi place and the main course was close to what I am used to, but the sushi was absolutely to die for. Is it acceptable for a lady born in the twentieth century to swoon? Because I’m pretty sure I swooned. Over fish.
While making our food the chef formed all of the fried rice into a heart. “Heartbeat,” he mumbled quietly while slipping the spatula under part of the heart and thumping it gently. “Heartburn,” he whispered, pouring oil onto the stovetop and lighting it on fire. “Heart attack,” he said at last, demolishing the rice heart and scooping it into bowls.
It took all of my willpower not to say “Can’t beat a good pun.” BUT I RESISTED LIKE AN ADULT.
Now I am full of seafood and off to bed.
It has slowly come to my attention that my sister and I have moved to the Capitol (as in, the Hunger Games kind). I had heard that Scottsdale was also known as Snotsdale and Snobsdale and that this was the kind of town where the mothers wore stilettos with their Lululemon. (How else can you be comfortable having wine for breakfast?) But I had also heard this was the town of the $40,000 a year millionaires where people acted like they were rich and just partied as much as they could and hopped on golf carts to get home because fuck the police and their penchant for DUIs. So I was pretty excited about this dichotomy. (I like to think of myself as somewhere between the two.)
You see, people back home keep asking about the drought we’re apparently experiencing. I have yet to see evidence of this so-called drought. In addition to the many rainstorms, we drove past a church that was watering its sidewalk in equal amounts with its weird, Arizona grass. Two days ago our apartment complex had a jank sprinkler that was literally shooting up into the air and just watering the left side of a tree. (The rest of the non-jank sprinklers water grass and sidewalk with equal exuberance.) The misters shoot water into the air in a joyous way at any restaurant with an outdoor bar or facing a busy street. Our pool has a sprinkler to cool the air.
“You’re living in the Capitol!” exclaimed Jasmine, one of Ithaca’s high school friends who is such a delight that I consider her one of my friends. (I adopt a lot of Ithaca’s friends. She has not adopted many of mine.) We laughed, and then we realized how true it was and laughed even more.
My days are full of sunshine and sprinklers and alcohol and smiling people. If this is life in the Capitol, I’m not going to support the revolution.
Having girl friends is so important. Moving across the country made me realize this in a way I never had before. Minerva made me cry before I left with the sweetest text telling me how proud she was of me and how great it would be. Lo (not her real name, as you probably guessed, Lo is the lady who owns this dog) mailed me a mermaid flask to my new apartment. Anna and I got matching friendship tattoos.
Now that I’ve moved, I’ve already started to meet amazing ladies. Melbourne lives in our complex and introduced us to her friends Mouse and Mulan, and we got drunk on tequila in the pool and did shot guns of small, girl-size beers. We bonded with Melbourne over our shared Ohio roots, belief in punctuality, and ridiculous senses of humor. She took Ithaca and I out to an amazing sushi place, introduced us to Uber, and we spent the night drinking at dive bars and I walked home at nearly 4am, full of Jameson and new friendship. We also met Venus, who I’m pretty sure I want to be when I grow up (or, I guess, in five years if I don’t grow up). She had a destination wedding in Barbados, lives in a beautiful house with her husband out here, and sells Pure Romance.
Yesterday night, Venus had a Pure Romance Party that Ithaca and I brought Melbourne to and we spent the night drinking wine, eating mozzarella sticks, and giggling uncontrollably when Venus told us that one type of dildo can cling to the shower wall — and demonstrated by slapping it right onto her glass front door.
At the end of another wild and wonderful week, I am grateful for all the women in my life.
Yesterday marked one full week since Ithaca and I moved to Scottsdale. And what a week it has been. A blog post would just turn into a novella at this point, so here’s a list of things that have been great:
- My hair is so much softer without all the humidity. (Yes, that needed to be number one. This is a big deal.)
- We are within walking distance of a whole bunch of awesome bars and restaurants. Friday we met two fifty-somethings and they gave us life advice and we all laughed about Tinder and listened to the live band.
- Sunday morning we went to brunch for the endless mimosas. But I was forced to throw all previous notions of what brunch is out the window, because this was an Arizona Brunch. There were endless mimosas and bloody Marys, a literal bouncer checking IDs, and a live DJ. Yes, I said live DJ at 10am on a Sunday morning. I went to a club opening once and it was not nearly as packed as this brunch.
- Got to walk home tipsy from brunch and spend several hours at the pool, swimming and reading.
- Met a cool neighbor who taught me many things, like that I live in the East Valley and there are two pro baseball players living in this complex.
- Twenty minute drive to Ikea. Hashtag blessed.
- Palm trees everywhere.
- Huge, beautiful library with a coffee shop inside.
- Local bookstore nearby that does author visits so I can alleviate my Amazon guilt by buying books from an indie store for a change.
Basically, everything here is so beautiful it’s actually stupid.
Speeding Tickets Acquired: 0
Roundabouts Dramatically Sped Through As No Police Were Nearby: 7? 8? A lot. Let’s go with a lot.
After breakfast Ithaca and I journeyed down to the Soldier’s Pass Trail for an 8am hike. We are not hikers, nor exercisers, nor great lovers of moving any farther than it takes to pick up a book or an Xbox controller, but we did it! We hiked for an hour and it was beautiful and fun and we saw a tarantula so Ithaca was deeply pleased.
We drove in to Scottsdale and had lunch at Brat Haus because it was the first place I ate in Scottsdale and it seemed fitting. (This is partially true. Mostly I wanted the cheese curds. But the tradition thing sounds better.) And then we got our keys.
What a weird, weird feeling to have been driving for so many days and to have finally arrived. I can’t imagine how people got on ships that would take weeks or months to take them to their destinations. I barely feel like I’m on planet Earth anymore, let alone my new home. I keep saying it over and over. Home, home, home. I’m hoping it will feel like it soon.
We went to Target for standard house supplies and after we got back I spent a great deal of time pacing back and forth, carrying my energy all around, trying to make the apartment feel like mine. I feel like a cat marking its territory. We don’t have internet yet so we are both sitting by the pool, glomming on to the apartment’s community area wifi. It’s not a bad place to blog, I have to give it that.
Speeding Tickets Acquired: 0
Speeding Tickets Narrowly Avoided When a Cop Came Up Behind My Blatantly Speeding Ass and Flashed His Lights So I Pulled Over But Then He Pulled Over the Guy in Front of Me Instead So I Kept Going: 1
New Mexico -> Arizona
Petroglyphs are like hieroglyphs except they aren’t Egyptian nor are they an alphabet. Unfortunately for today’s journey I like both Egyptian things and alphabets, but despite this, the trip to the Petroglyph National Monument was worth the hike to the top. (I say hike because I am fat and out of shape, but I did it in black pants and Converse while carrying a purse, so I don’t think it can technically be classified as a hike.) There are actually three different spots to hike, but Ithaca and I chose the shortest so we could get back on the road. We saw fun wildlife like a rabbit and a creepy millipede and several small lizards, as well as nifty looking petroglyphs from the Pueblo people and a few from Spanish shepherds.
We stopped for lunch in Gallup which I do not recommend. Everything that Google Maps says is a gas station is not, and it is a sketchy and weird place. Just drive through Gallup and try somewhere else.
We finally got off the I-40 today in Flagstaff and took a new road down to Sedona. It was a beautiful drive through forests and mountains with the most breathtaking views. I would have enjoyed it more if I had not been so panicked at every curve that I was going to fling us off the edge and/or into a ditch. I recommend having a friend/enemy/stranger drive you through instead.
When we arrived in Sedona we picked a hotel that Yelp insisted was reasonably priced. We parked and went inside and found out that it was not very reasonably priced. “Damn,” I lamented. “That is significantly more than I told my company I would spend on hotels. Is there anything else nearby that’s cheaper?”
The lady looked sympathetic and listed three hotels, all of which were sketch.
“You know what? Fuck ’em,” I told her. I handed over the AmEx. “They can yell at me later.”
“Yes!” she agreed. “Fuck ’em! I love it. Just for that I’m going to upgrade you. No, I’ll double upgrade you. And I’ll give you a discount.”
I think I very much like Arizona.
We poked around Tlaquepaque, a charming little shopping center, and grabbed dinner there before heading back to the hotel. A late night swim was in order so that we could admire the supermoon and the stars. A beautiful night in a beautiful city.
Speeding Tickets Acquired: 0
Texas -> New Mexico
I woke up exhausted but with the strange energy that comes from knowing you will be sleeping in a different state by day’s end. Texas’ drivers may be the most polite I’ve ever come across, but there is something strange about the whole panhandle that makes me antsy to leave.
Our last stop in Texas was the Palo Duro Canyon State Park. It was strikingly beautiful. Looking at it kind of reminded me of Minecraft. I texted Liebling that I felt like I was living in Minecraft: I was out mapping and he was back home doing technical things. It felt a little less lonely for a moment.
The striations in the rock were fascinatingly clear, and the visitor center had great information on the history of the area. We drove through the park, stopping once for a brief walk and several times to take pictures. Probably my favorite moment was when I spotted turkeys and slowly chased them through a small picnic area while Ithaca leaned out the window to take pictures and shouted when I should stop and when I should go. An old man was sitting outside his camper watching us. He was too far away to make out his expression, but I assume it was one of disbelief. “It’s just like Pokemon Snap,” Ithaca commented. “I’m taking pictures of weird creatures out of a moving vehicle while an old man quietly judges me.”
We did not stop again until we reached New Mexico. Cell phone coverage was spotty for a while, but we got to see the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum in Tucumcari. We were greeted by the strangest lady I could imagine. She was somewhere between Alan Grant in Jurassic Park and Professor Trelawney in Harry Potter. She told us all about the museum and the community college and how TMobile had such bad service that she hadn’t had a signal in eleven days. We gawped and shuffled away into the museum, unable to wrap our brains around such a horrific tale.
Ithaca and I were the only ones in the whole museum so it was an absolute blast. There were student paintings and fossils and plenty of things to touch and see. The college has a bronze foundry, so they are a rare museum in that they have so many bronze casts (normally it is hella expensive, but the students do it so it saves them money). The Jurassic Park soundtrack played the entire time. It was pretty magical.
We drove on to Albuquerque through absurd and beautiful landscapes. The mix of mountains and flat lands is strange and invigorating. At one point the land was so flat that we saw rain falling on three different areas at once. We also saw a Taco Bell/KFC restaurant which only proved to me that New Mexico truly is the Land of Enchantment.
We basically crash landed into our hotel from exhaustion, but managed to drag ourselves across the street to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center that housed the Pueblo Harvest Cafe. I forgot it was Friday since everything is blurring together, but no one else did and the patio was packed for their weekend patio party. We ate inside and the food was excellent. Today was a great start to living in the Southwest.