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Moving Our Fat Asses

2004-08-08 - 11:16 a.m.

Well, folks, I have now been a resident of Berkeley, California for approximately 44 1/2 hours. This morning, I took Shkbob, who drove out here with me, to have breakfast at the happiest place on Earth: La Note, a provencal bistro over on Shattuck Avenue, about a 5-6 block walk from my place (La Note, not Shattuck). La Note is the best breakfast place I've ever been to, bar none. I love it more than Whole Foods breakfast tacos, or the breakfast buffet at the Sheraton in Ixtapa, Mexico, or fresh croissants and hot chocolate from a sidewalk bakery in Paris. It is that. Fucking. Good. I had the tartine mistral, which is a toasted baguette topped with goat cheese, fresh basil, and roasted red peppers, and the pain perdu (French for French toast) slathered in lavender honey, all accompanied by fresh squeezed orange juice and some of the best coffee ever brewed. It might have had heroin in it. After such a breakfast, I feel ready to face anything the day has to offer. Shkbob, on the other hand, was ready to face a nap. So here I am, alone, writing in the English Grad Student computer lab, having finally arrived.

Let me tell ya, the getting here wasn't easy.

The original intention was to leave Austin sometime in the evening, go to Shkbob's house in San Antonio, be asleep before 10:30pm, and wake-up at the butt-crack of dawn ready and rarin' to go. He he, yeah, no. A visit from Fag Hag made quick work of that pipe dream. Between lolling in bed, kvetching about packing, and a kick-ass episode of The Amazing Race (in which The Texas Self-Esteem Massacre and Midget'n'Bitchet managed to trounce the hell out of Jesus Guarini'n'Scary Magdalene, The Tokens, Pizza the Hut, K-Hole, and The Pinheads), I didn't even leave the house before 10:30pm. On the drive to San Antonio, I learned that Shkbob herself was still up and about, trying to deal with a band of lunatics who had taken over the asylum and who were now slaughtering the nurses and writing Bible verses backwards on the wall in their own poo: in other words, her office (certain lovely individuals, of course, excepted, Tina). This meant that she and I finally got into her apartment around nidnight, which meant that the butt-crack of dawn had to be reset at 10am.

At 10:30am, we managed to be on the road out west, flying past Boerne and therefore going further in that direction down I-10 than I had ever gone. After a while, we realized that the cops in West Texas had, at some point, gotten together and realized that there was nothing to see in West Texas, and that the only reason that people were on that road was to get to El Paso from San Antonio or vice versa as quickly as possible, and had therefore, in an uncharacteristic act of benevolence, upped the unofficial speed limit to 110 mph. Suffice to say, we made fucking excellent time. In fact, the first day seemed to go by without any problems. There was, however, a hint of what was to come when we were at a gas station, waiting for a woman to cross in front of us so that we could leave and go get Route 44 drinks at Sonic, and Shkbob yelled out, though not loud enough for the woman to hear, "Move your fat ass!"

For the record, Shkbob and I both have far bigger asses than that woman, so it was said with a hint of irony. It did not, however, lack conviction.

The other reason why cops let people drive through West Texas at Nascar speeds is that the whole place smells like ass. Not even regular ass, mind you: the kind of ass that only comes from oil refineries and cattle pastures within the same vicinity (those of us who do not eat red meat will be sleeping a little easier than others, won't we). What I'm talking about here is the fetid ass of human industrialism and agribusiness, the kind of ass that irritates the heart as well as the nose. Of course, we saw windmills in the area. The windmills, mind you, help to power the oil refineries, because wind power is cheap. If that's not a bitter irony to suck on, I don't know what is.

We made it into Las Cruces, New Mexico at around 5:30pm, which represented a hell of a lot of ass hauled that day. We stayed at a Holiday Inn and even managed to get in a good meal at Bennigan's (the woman at the front desk asked if we wanted to know where the good holes-in-the-wall were, but I wanted a place where I could get a reliable veggie burger) and a viewing of The Village. M Night Shyamalan is a good director, and Bryce Dallas Howard gave a fantastic performance, but the guy really needs to deal with the fact that we've all figured out the "twist-ending" schtick by now. When you're looking for the twist, you can usually figure it out in the first five minutes.

Anyhoodle, we were up and ready for our breakfast and out on the road by 9:00am. This was the day when we started to get a little wiggy. This was the day that Shkbob screamed at the truck that wouldn't let her pass. This was the day that she did her "I just ate an entire Sugar Daddy dance" to the tune of "Karma Chameleon" (which was part of the Romy and Michele's High School Reunion soundtrack, a necessity when driving to Tuscon). This was the day that I decided to invoke the "Only on Road Trips" rule and eat two spicy chicken sandwiches from Wendy's, which I thoroughly enjoyed at the time and thoroughly regretted that night. This was the day that "Move your fat ass!" became a mantra. But far more terrifying than all this was the fact that this was the day that we drove in Los Angeles.

A few dozen miles outside of San Bernadino, we decided that we didn't want to take the I-5 through the interior of California. Oh no, we wanted to take the scenic route, which meant the 1. In this case, "1" stands for how many hours you can stand to be on this road, but I'm getting ahead of myself. First, we had to get to the 101 and then the 1 by going through LA traffic, and it was just our luck to get there at about 5pm. Yeah, you can see where this is going. The only way we survived this experience (and for the record, Shkbob was driving, and I will forever admire her for getting through LA without crying, which is something I could never do) was through the help of my Oldies Mix Cd. Let me tell you, as hellish as LA traffic is, putting on your shades and jamming out to Aretha Franklin makes it all okay. Funnily enough, a limo passed by us during our in-car dance session, so if you see a movie in th next couple of years featuring two crazy people in a car getting funky to "Respect," let me know, so I can sue the pants off of someone.

We finally got through, and managed to stop at a gas station in Calabasas. The gas station attendent only knew of hotels in Calabasas, but a young lady in line, who I wouldn't describe as "nice," per se, but who I would say was one bitch recongnizing a couple of other bitches in need, said, rather brusquely, "Just send them to Thousand Oaks, there are dozens of hotels there." We gave her the international head nod of bitch-unity and we headed back on the highway, and after getting helped out again by a couple in a 7-11, we stopped at the Thousand Oaks Inn, which we highly recommend to anyone traveling through Southern California.

Then came Day Three. This time, we finally managed to be out at the butt-crack of dawn. We drove down the 101, and hit the 1, and for a few brief moments it was absolutely beautiful. Then the 1 veered off from the coast and headed into BumblefuckNowhere, California, where the 1 abruptly stopped. It was just . . . gone! I was driving at the time, and I do not handle being lost well. We learned, at this point, that Californians, or at least the citizens of BumblefuckNowhere, have a tendency to leave off the last line of any set of directions. We could have used the "and when you get there, turn left" before the "you can't miss it," but we weren't so fortunate. I don't know how long we were on the 1, but after two towns full of no progress, I was screaming at the gods of road and begging to get back to the 101.

At this point, sailing finally got relatively smooth again. We got to my apartment at 2:30pm, and had everything moved in by 4pm (although everything is still in boxes as of this writing). We then found our way to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, where I got the second-gayest bedspread on display (the gayest of them all was unavailable in standard-size). It's not jsut a quilt, mind you, because the name of the design is Sandar, which makes it SANDAR: WARRIOR BLANKEY!!! TREMBLE BEFORE THE WARM AND COZY WRATH OF SANDAR!!! We got ourselves sheets, and towels, and a CD rack, and all those things necesssary for living. We then headed for Albertson's, which was comforting to see here, and where I remembered that yes, indeed, I had arrived in the home town of Artisan bread. We hadn't been back in the apartment for ten minutes before the potato-rosemary loaf was ripped into.

At that point, we had a choice. We could go out, or eat the rest of the bread with some olive oil and garlic salt. You probably don't need to guess what we did, do you.

Since then, I've been amazed to the degree with which I have dealt with myself. We've been enjoying the beatiful city and the gorgeous weather. We found a good Indian restaurant and went for some great sangria with the Comic Book Deities. We saw The Manchurian Candidate, which proves once again that Meryl Streep is the best actress on the planet, and don't you fucking forget it. In a few hours, we'll head in San Francisco and then up into Marin to see the latest performance piece by comic genius Josh Kornbluth, and then join another incoming grad student for drinks this evening.

So, I'm here. I'm functioning. I feel pretty great. I'm knocking on wood, but I think that I'm going to be able to handle things.

If you'll excuse me, though, it's getting late. I need to move my fat ass.

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