Monday, September 22, 2008

General Rambles

Spent last week refreshing my awful Spanish and transcribing notes from Heidelberg. What you saw here last week was about 1/4 of what I wrote. My Spanish is really rusty. My flashcards were an intimidating soul crushing thing the first day I looked at them again. Day two was a lot easier and it all came back to me. By the end of the week I was confident in my Spanish again. Good week last week. Lots of writing, lots of Spanish and lots of excercise.

I am heavier than I have been in three years. It is a horrible feeling and only two of my pants fit comfortable. The lowest I have been in four years (wait, make that a decade or more) was 169 pounds. Wendy would pat my flat stomach every day and say "You are so thin Jamie Wakefield!"

It's been a while since she's said that. It's okay though. She fell in love with me when I was 208 pounds.

I'm heavy when I'm at 180. Right now I'm 184. In order to try and remedy that, Wendy and I went running four times last week. (I gained a pound) At 43, I'm happy to be running 3 miles four times a week. At one point Wendy and I were doing 40 minutes and four miles when we were at our most fit. We're trying to get there again. To up the ante, my sister Molly (hereafter known as "The Gazelle") asked if we wanted to do another challenge on "Nike Plus."

Thanks to a lot of snow, binge drinking, a broken hip, her assistant quiting so she had to work seven days a weeek for a month, Wendy and I handily crushed The Gazelle like she was nothing. Wasn't even a challenge. We rock that much. Confident in another drubbing, we accepted her month long challenge for most raw miles.

Last week, Wendy and I ran just under 12 miles. On Saturday The Gazelle ran 8, equivalent to just under three of our runs. She's training for her second half- marathon. Which means that in one day (this month, during the challenge) she will run farther in one day than we run in a week. Of course, I have an excuse, she's not old like me. She's only forty.

I might have to hire someone to do a Tanya Harding to pull this one out. I'm praying for snow too.

This week I started up classes in Spanish again. I was thrilled on Friday when I found out my favorite teacher was teaching my level right now and told me that it was a good group of students for me. (Read : No Italians.) Today was a bit scary. It started out well with me and five good looking young women in the class. A half an hour into the class a guy was introduced and he was also not Italian, Spanish at a lower level than mine and not obnoxious in any way. I'm pretty much in Heaven.

Of course, the hard part was how awful my Spanish is after essentially two months off. It will come back though but today was embarassing. Maybe it was because I was tired. Not much sleep last night.

Wendy consented to try World of Warcraft with me last night and I thought she would be bored in ten minutes (being a lawyer, entrepenour, super model and all) but she wasn't. When we played Magic she seemed to identify most with Green so I thought for sure she would roll up a melee or hybrid. She went right for the casters instead and rolled up a Warlock named "Inti." I started another Paladin to level with her.

We rolled some kobolds, some wolves, some brigands and rescued some wine. (How fitting.) We completed the starting area an hour and a half after we usually go to bed. She seemed to really get into it and I am very exited. WoW is exponentially better as a duo then as a solo.

In ninety minutes we're going out to try and catch The Gazelle.

Wish us luck.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Grill Master

Today I am going back over old Magic writings and stripping out the Spanish stories to be included in the book. I had been looking for this entry a while ago, searched my hard drive and this web site and could not find the story where I first grilled for Wendy. I have told the story many times but could not find it in my writing.

Today - I found it.

This story happened shortly after I had moved to Spain and Wendy and I were still learning to live together. This is a story about the first time I used her grill to cook us some steaks. Some of you will have read it before, sorry. For those of you that haven't, I hope you enjoy it.

Here's how much I know how to cook. Wendy and I are at the grocery store today, and again they do not have my hard-boiled eggs. We have looked the last four times, and they are no longer stocked. This annoys me. I like to get up in the morning and have one packet of oatmeal and one hard-boiled egg. Good carbs. Good protein. Low calorie.

“That's it! I'm just going to boil some eggs when we get home. I'll make them myself.”

“Good idea. Then you can call your mom and tell her you learned how to cook.”

So funny, that girl.


Wendy and I are watching "Grey's Anatomy." Burke and Christina are refusing to speak to each other. They still live together. They are still in love. But whoever speaks first is wrong, and feels they are giving up power to the other. I pause the show.

“We can't have power struggles like that. You need to understand that I'm the man.”

“Right. Which means you apologize first. I'm glad we're clear on that.”

Wendy is lying in bed reading. I have just stepped out of the shower, combed my hair, and I'm drying myself off. In the process of doing so, I find a rogue chest hair, located on the top left hand corner of my chest, almost to the shoulder, it is silver, and six inches long. I'll have to have Wendy pluck that for me. I come out of the bathroom and ask Wendy

“Hey, want to see something gross?”
“Not if you ever want to have sex with me again.”

Beautiful and witty. Gotta love that.

Oh yeah, dinner time. One of the things I can do is cook steak on a grill. I have mastered that, being the voracious carnivore I am. Of course, at home, I have a gas grill, and Wendy has a charcoal grill that she doesn't know how to run. She usually has one of the men at her parties run it. Today it's my turn. (Hmm, I guess now it's always my turn.)

She has these little white “Charcoal Starter” briquettes that were used at her last barbeque in October. I was there for that, and they don't work very well. Stefan was working on getting those coals going for hours.

I'm not gonna let that happen. As a Leo, and a Man, my ego is fragile. I'm not going to be in charge of the grill, cooking for my woman for the first time, and have a fire that only “sort of” gets going.

I crack open these little briquettes, and the white saran wraps around them are crumbling in my hand. They are very old. And dried out. Well, these aren't going to last. And they're probably not very good, since they're dry. Might as well use them up.

I dump the half package of one into the bottom, open up the other package and dump that in too. (There are now about fifteen charcoal starter bricks in the bottom of the grill. You are supposed to use one. Maybe two.) Then I cover them with charcoal, and light it.

In minutes, a five-foot column of flame is roaring over my head. I'm six feet tall. The grill is about two feet tall. The flames from the grill are over my head. Wow. Now that's a fire! I pull the grill away from the side of the building. Sure, the building is stone, but it is hot.

The column continues to burn at that height for fifteen minutes. When it finally dies down even a little bit, the charcoal is a nice perfect grey color. Just the way it's supposed to be after about an hour and a half of smoldering. I have broken the land speed record for getting charcoal grey and ready for cooking.

“Wendy, I need the steaks!”
“What, already?

Ten minutes later, the steaks come out perfectly. Wendy is walking around near me with the portable phone talking with her boss, when the door buzzes (We're on the fourth floor in a locked building.)

Wendy answers it since I don't speak Spanish well enough yet.

“Firemen, open up.”
“What? Why?”

Wendy buzzes them in and I start to chuckle. I lift the lid off the grill. The steaks are perfect and there's no flame. Let's hope this goes well.

Soon, three men are at our door, puffing. Full gear. Oxygen masks on. One of them undoes his mask.

“Where's the fire?”
Wendy tells him. “There is no fire.”
“Two of your neighbors in different buildings called in a fire here…" He looks out onto the patio. "Oh, there it is.”

He smiles and walks over to the grill. I open the lid for him and he peers down at my perfect steaks.

“Smells good,” he says.

“Wendy, tell him we're sorry to make him come all the way up here, but we have extra for him and his men for their trouble.”

She does and he says, “That's very kind, but there isn't enough for everyone. There's more of us than you think.” He goes over to the edge of the terrace and points down.

Below us, are five fire trucks and an ambulance. And an army of men.

The three that came up chuckle, tell us it's no problem, and everyone leaves. Lucky lucky.

My steaks were delicious.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Flying, Spaniards, Movies, UFC, Porn and Pictures.

Well, I’m finally caught up and mentally back. Let’s get some posts up.

As pain in the ass as flying is, Wendy and I have been lucky. The day before we flew out of Vermont, some very important computer went down shutting down flights across the country. The next day, everything was fine. We were delayed an hour in Burlington and were worried about making our connection in Newark, but, as luck would have it, that flight was delayed as well so we had no problems.

The plane we were going to take had some sort of malfunction so they had to switch planes. The plane they switched us to didn’t exactly fill me with confidence. When you’re flying over the ocean you want the biggest, most modern God damn plane you can find. You want the TV screen in front of you embedded in the seat. You want multiple channels and music. You want the GPS that shows you how far you have flown, your estimated arrival time and what the temperature is like at your destination. You want a couple doctors on board and tons of medical supplies just in case you end up on a deserted island and have to choose a role like jolly fat guy, heroin addicted rock star, petulant rich girl, doctor / leader or handicapped guy who can magically walk again. You have to think of these things.

We almost always fly Continental because they are known to have one of the most modern fleets of planes.

Not today.

Not only is today’s plane smaller than usual, there are no TV screens embedded in the seat in front of you, only a small screen above the seats about every fifth person. No GPS system that shows you time or distance, one channel to watch and bad movies. If that wasn’t enough to show you how ancient this piece of crap is, when the meal comes, the silverware is actually METAL. Which hasn’t been allowed since 9/11/01 as far as I’m aware. Maybe I’m mistaken, but in the past, all my meals have been with plastic. (I’m assuming the 9/11 thing.)

Funny story. When we checked in the girl behind the counter was a friend of Wendy’s. They chatted for a bit and the woman, as a favor, moved us to better seats with more leg room. The exit row. Hey, at least when this ancient piece of crap falls out of the sky, we’ll be first out the door. Funny thing about the exit row though – the seats don’t recline. So, now I’m on an eight hour flight, at night, with crappy movies and can’t get to sleep.

But, we have been lucky. No nights stranded in the airport, no missed flights, just a few delays. And we haven’t lost any luggage since last summer.

It took me all of five minutes off the plane to start hating the way Spaniards walk again. It really is just incomprehensible to me. It is such a joy to go to Vermont and have people coordinate with strangers where they are going to walk and make room for each other. Yesterday, Wendy and I went out for a run. Three people are taking up the entire sidewalk walking towards us as we run towards them. In America, I would slide behind Wendy, one of the women would either get closer to her friend or slide behind one of them and we would pass.

In Spain, it’s “red rover red rover send Jamie right over.” It becomes a game of chicken. There is a couple walking towards us arm in arm. As we approach them, they actually get wider, a space appearing between their bodies so they take up more room on the sidewalk as we pass, not less. We went shopping two days ago and we have a cart, a large bag on wheels that we put the groceries in and haul back to the apartment. As I am hauling the cart up the two foot ramp to the street a family comes in. Two of the family try to go down the narrow ramp as I am coming up it. I gave them the shoulder.

We recovered from our flight on Thursday and Friday and had a relaxing weekend. We went to see out very good friends Lena and Stefan and enjoyed their pool and then went into the apartment for wine and blowjobs. (The drink, get your mind out of the gutter.)

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I spent transcribing a hundred and forty four notes into “Adventures with an Exciting Woman.” Today is update the website day. Tomorrow we fly to Germany to see Stefan’s home town of Heidelberg. And take more voice notes.

Time for some rambles.

I need a new and different website. Not one to replace this one, but one that I could post to anonymously all the things that really don’t belong here but that I think are good stories and rants. Maybe political opinions, sex stories and rambles that are too off color to post here. Like, two of our friends each had their first lesbian experience this spring and told us all the details. Who wants to read that? Or how about the time in college when I was writing in my dorm room and three different friends-with-benefits stopped by in an eight hour period. That’s a story I love to tell but really doesn’t belong on here. At a party this summer we had a nice chat with two lesbians who told us about their favorite porn movies. The movies they liked would surprise you. Oddly, lots of men in them.

I don’t know how I would do this website because I couldn’t link to it. I don’t want my mom going there to read it! But there’s a lot of interesting stories I want to write down and it doesn’t do any good if no one sees it. A quandary.

Saw “The Dark Knight” and liked it, but not as much as I thought I would.

You all know the good stuff. Joker was amazing of course, but overall the movie was excellent

But, I had a rough time getting past a lot of the flaws.

The Batman imitation gang is shooting people. Batman bends the gun barrel with one hand. BATMAN CAN''T BEND STEEL! Someone explained to me that if you look closely you can see that Batman has a device in his palm that actually bends the steel.

So... Batman carries around a device to bend gun barrels?

Rachel Dawes falls off the roof. Batman rushed to her, catches her in mid air and they fall. How did they survive? They fell five stories. What? Did he cushion her fall with his metal body armor?

Batman's driving through a mall on his motorcycle shooting out glass doors to pass through them. Um, those bullets don't stop when they finish with the door.

How did they evacuate the hospital and miss Dent? How did the Joker get to Dent while the cops are evacuating the hospital? When the Joker blows up the hospital, he just walks out. Into an empty space. No one around. Where are the people and cops when he walks out?

Joker says to Dent “I’m not a planner.” Um, yeah, you are. You’re a mastermind. You planned half a dozen brilliant plans in the movie, including the opening scene where you successfully robbed a bank and took out all your accomplices at the same time.

How come Batman didn't just shout "The clowns are the hostages!" to the swat team instead of taking them all out?

How did he wrap a rope around six swat team members' legs and not have them notice so they all got dragged out the window? And when did he have time?

How does it make sense to say Batman, another hero of Gotham, killed six men, to preserve the memory of another hero? How about saying, I don't know, how about the Joker killed them? Doesn't turning Batman into a villain also damage Gotham's recovery in the same manner?

How come all the cops in this movie were pussies? They cried, they wanted Batman to turn himself in, etc.

They kept saying to Dent "If you go down, all the people you put behind bars go free....” Um... NO! Our justice system doesn’t work anything like that. I’m pretty sure all the people he put behind bars stay there. Pretty sure about that.

Since when does Batman (you know, a HERO) chase after another man's woman? Wasn't that kind of slimy?

In other news – I actually liked Hancock. I think it has to do with expectations. With everyone glowing about Batman and calling it one of the best movies of the year and comparing it to “Goodfellas” I was expecting something great. Something magical and flawless. With Hancock, I knew it was filled with flaws. I also knew there was a “reveal” that didn’t make a lot of sense. I figured out before going in what the reveal had to be. And yeah, the destruction of downtown by Will and Charlize was stupid. What was the point of that? There was about a half an hour of the movie that was just dumb. But I really liked the beginning, the part where he was in prison, the appearance of the new Hancock, and I liked the end. I’m a sucker for a happy ending.

On the flight to America we saw “Run Fat Boy Run.” And found it excellent. We laughed, we cried, we snarfed coke out our nose. I highly recommend you rent it. One of the startling things was Hank Azaria. I’ve seen this guy for years and never knew how built he was. (Like I care, it was just surprising.) He takes his shirt off in the film and he looks like an Olympic bodybuilder.

In still other news there’s a UFC I’m not super excited about this weekend. I was, however, very excited about the last UFC. Too bad it turned out to be such a downer.

I am of two minds about this last UFC.

I was happy that GSP, Florian and Lesnar won. If all three of them didn't win I was going to be pissed. So, that was great.

I was pissed that the Florian fight sucked. For being "The Finisher" and seeing him say over and over in the previews "I finish fights" he sure did a nice job of playing it safe and “out pointing” Huerta. The fight was boring and a letdown.

For some reason I had this idea that Brock Lesnar was a nice guy. I was wrong. The guy is enormous and athletic. A lot of people, like me, find him fascinating just because he is so athletic for such a big guy. But, Brock acted like an ass when he won and on top of that showed he has nothing but wrestling, which I found very boring and disappointing.

Jon Fitch just pisses me off. I hate that guy in interviews and I hate his lay and pray style of fighting. It was nice to see him punished for 5 rounds but I really wanted GSP to demolish him. I wanted a stoppage either by submission or Ground and pound.

I wanted Jason MacDonald to win as well and he lost, but what a great chess match. Excellent fight. If anyone can beat the Spider, I now know that it could be Maia and I didn't know that before.

And now, some random photos.

Seafood Holocaust in Baiona.

At a Parador in Baiona.

Land's End. The End of the World. The Death Coast.