Las Vegas

New Life

clock.jpgMy new random schedule is great!! I love having my life turned upside down. I think I was getting into a bit of a rut with the early morning thing every single day (and I’d only been doing that for two months!). Routine gets old so fast. This week I’m working all kinds of random shifts, the overnight, plating desserts at dinner service, and tomorrow we have a buyout. A.K.A. Someone (with lots and lots of moolah) bought out the entire restaurant for the whole day! So I’ll be working 2pm-10pm. I’m sure you’re all extremely fascinated by my work schedule, huh? Hmm. Not so much. But it’s the major excitement in my life right now (besides daydreams of my only-two-weeks-away vacation home), so it would be dishonest of me to not write about it here.

This morning was inspiring! I’ve been on a real workout kick lately, and trying to squeeze in random hours to do pilates, kickbox, or swim is a new challenge I’ve embraced with open arms. Working out is so much more fun when you’re doing it at 1 in the morning or some other random time. (How come when you actually have normal hours to do things, you don’t do them, and when you have no time, you manage to fit everything you never thought was possible into one day!?) But back to this A.M.’s inspiration. Got home around 5AM and went swimming while the sun came up!!! It was so gorgeous–the palm trees, there were actually a few clouds (I was doing the backstroke), and the pink and orange sky. Absolutely refreshing for mind, body and spirit.

And you should have seen the city from the 10th floor of our parking garage tonight (around midnight). The lights were awesome! It really was beautiful. In the daylight Vegas looks pretty desertish and tacky if you ask me, and it feels just heinous–hot and miserable. But at night, and in the early morning it’s a somewhat normal temperature (high eighties) and the darkness hides the ugly parts, so the city is quite lovely actually.

My body has no concept of what day or what time it is anymore, but it’s not even a problem. I like life better this way because you sleep when you need to sleep and go the rest of the time. I think this is how life should be–living for survival not for routine. I feel more awake and alive than I have in a long time.

Oh! P.S. Another great thing about working the overnight shift: you get real dinner!!! Lamb tenderloin, steak, mashed potatoes and haricot verts, you name it! REAL FOOD!!

She Works Hard For Her Money

The sunset from our balcony

So, the overnight shift. Definitely a whole new ballgame. The best part, aside from working with pastry for eight hours, is the night cleaning routine. Oh Lord, it’s hilarious. Around midnight the crew of four Spanish speaking cleaners come in–and they come in with style. Talking and joking, they bring their boombox and blare hot Latin cambios all night long–they’re a great group of people, totally fun and happy and energetic. They scrub every inch of the restaurant and clean in places that the average person wouldn’t even think to clean.

My favorite part is when they wash the floor. They concoct a magical cleaning solution–their cauldron is a GIANT (we’re talking 4 feet long x 4 feet deep x 2 feet wide) Lexan (it’s a swimming pool). They dump this out all over the floors–so there’s an inch or more of sudsy water over the entire kitchen floor. You can imagine how this effects the whole working situation. The newly made kitchen ocean makes tasks like carrying eggs across the hallway a real adventure. Can we say “Slip ‘n Slide“?!

At this point the Latin Super Cleaners don their waders and are ready to go to town (or perhaps go fly fishing). Grabbing their scrubby brooms they set to work on the floors. When the scrubbing is done, they get out the hose (I think it may actually be a real fireman’s hose) and transform the kitchen into Lake Mead–SO MUCH WATER. (Needless to say, by this point, my worn out leather kitchen shoes are water shoes–I’m ankle deep in H�O and my socks feel like swamp moss). Finally, (the kitchen is big, so this floor-cleaning process takes quite a while) a few hours later, they squeegee the sparkling clean floors. It’s quite the experience! If you’ve seen the scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where they’re all covered with suds, you can imagine what the night cleaning experience feels like.

I’m still a little bit confused about when I’m supposed to sleep, but having the whole day to myself is great! I have time to work out and go to the pool (I haven’t been this tan since Canc�n!)…I’ll figure out the sleep thing later.

Lake Mead


Camping in Nevada…in July. I don’t know whose idea this was (okay so maybe it was mine) but summer camping in the Southwest is suicide. I beg of you: don’t do it!!!

All I have to say is, we will never EVER be returning to Lake Mead or pitching a tent in Nevada during a record-breaking drought. Heinous. Our entire camping experience was a heinous nightmare. And I do mean nightmare.

Lake Mead is 25 miles from our apartment, so you may wonder why it took FOUR HOURS to get there. We got lost. Two minor navigational errors on top of serious roadway construction leads to three and a half hours of unnecessary travel in a ridiculously hot car during the hottest time of the day. (We’re off to a great start!)

arizona.jpgOne of our navigational errors landed us in a different time zone (and I wasn’t even driving!!). But it’s good to see new places, and we got to check out the Hoover Dam (which, after all the hoopla, is no where near as big as you’d think it would be). Arizona seems like a nice state, perhaps a tad greener than Nevada…but not green enough to convince me to make the four hour drive again anytime soon.

We finally get to the Lake and check out a few of the campsites, which are unstrategically positioned at 50 mile intervals around the lake. (Hello, I thought this lake was only 20 miles long?!?!) Whoever designed this park was a total moron if you ask me–the road running around the lake is no where near the water and instead winds through the desert at a random fifteen miles away from the shoreline. And to top it off, all of the camping plots are at least a mile away from the water!! WHO DESIGNED THIS LAKE?!?! Isn’t the whole point to go camping ON the water!?

Fantasizing about a cool, refreshing swim in aforementioned lake, we pick the best spot, pitch our tent, don our bathing suits and–loaded with an at-least-adequate amount of alocholic beverages–begin the hike to the water.

There’s a freaking field of prickery desert cactus between the campsites and the lake.

Great. We pick the prickers out of our feet and continue on–determined to persevere no matter what.

Feeling like we just traversed the Sahara on a bed of nails (did I mention it’s 104 degrees?), we arrive at the water twenty minutes later.

It REAKS!!! I don’t know if this is an ancient animal burial ground or what, but lots of something died here recently. The sand is actually ash or some sort of extremely finely ground stone (or perhaps animal bones) instead of the beautiful white sand we were expecting, but what can you do? We arrive just in time for a mini-wind storm, so we get to really become one with the beach as the pseudo-sand flies up our nostrils, between our teeth, into our eyes, hair, elbow creases–you name it. Oh Billy, it just keeps getting better.

Trying hard to stay positive, we decide to go swimming. Two steps into the lake we realize that the swim we’ve been dreaming about all day won’t be happening. The bottom of the “lake” is mysterious mucky quicksand. You step in and sink to your knees in gunk. I like to think I’m pretty tough as far as girls go, but this is absolutely disgusting. And because the lake is man-made, the water stays shallow for at least 20 yards, so you have to walk out really far to even be able to swim.

It’s 107 degrees now, the ash is still blowing, our feet are bloody and throbbing, we’re sweating like Arabian Knights, the water smells like a garbage dump, and we’re knee deep in quicksand. I ask you, does camping get any better?

Determined to leave immediately, we down our drinks and head back to the primitive campsite (primitive because they don’t even have an outdoor shower for us to hose down with). During our return trip through the pricker bushes, the heat gets to our heads and we decide that we’re going to at least stay the night. We’ve come this far, we might as well stick it out.

Bad idea.

Dinner requires making a fire. MAKING A FIRE IN 107 DEGREE WEATHER. Oh, Lord. So we wait until it gets dark, hoping it might cool down a little and then build the smallest fire possible that will still cook our chicken. We only have two candles for light, so it’s pitch black and we can’t really see what we’re doing, but hope that everything is cooked enough to eat it without killing us. The local mice, which live in the bush next to our tent (great) join us for dinner. I guess Siegfried and Roy must have camped here not too long ago, because the mice are so well trained that they sit at our feet and wait for us to throw scraps (which we refuse to do). At this point, even s’mores can’t improve our mood.

Sleep is elusive when camping in Nevada in July in a two man tent with three girls and nylon sleeping bags. Oh, god, it must have been 120 in there. The heat RADIATED from the earth. Suzanne soaks a towel in the melted ice from our cooler and Jen and I bathe ourselves with the few pieces of ice that haven’t already melted. But it’s no use. The night is long and miserable. I think I have some exotic heat disesase because I throw up around 2 in the morning. At some point we have a water war and laugh/cry hysterically until we collapse with heat exhaustion. It. Was. Just. Horrible.

We get up (having never acutally fallen asleep) the next morning and are home by 8am. Good-bye Lake Mead.

Desert Camping

Suzanne is here! Visiting us from Oregon, just back from the US Virgin Islands, and one of our fellow Greystone graduates, she’s contemplating a move to Sin City. In this picture (from Halloween 2004 in The Castro, San Francisco) Suzanne is the one with blonde hair. She, Jen and I are on our way to Lake Mead for a one day attempt at camping in the desert. It’s only supposed to be 107 degrees today, so perhaps with the help of the manmade lake we’ll manage to survive. Either way, photo documentation sure to follow…

Self Expression

My new favorite thing to do at the pool, besides the elementary back stroke, is to lay in the sweltering heat until my heart is beating uncontrollably and I’m on the verge of passing out. Then jump in the pool, float on my back and listen to my heart beating under water. It sounds like someone knocking on the door!

I went to the Guggenheim last week–what a wonderful exhibit they have!! It’s called A Century of Painting: From Renoir to Rothko and houses the perfect number of paintings–not so overwhelming that you get bored or feel the need to zoom though, but enough to keep you interested. Plus, so much happened in the world and in art during that period (1860s through the early 1900s) that you learn/refresh your memory with an amazing amount of information–both aesthetically and historically. (You can view the exhibit online too, and though it’s not the same as seeing it in person, it could be a fun thing to do!).

Gauguin’s Haere Mai (which means “Come Here”) was very moving. The artist painted this scene from his memories of time spent in Tahiti (“immersing himself in virgin nature”). He uses many symbols in the painting to relay his feelings about the modern world, which, as a Primitivist, he was trying to free himself from. I love the wild boars in the front and the sunburst of yellow trees in the center of the painting. Oh! And he painted this on burlap not canvas!! You can actually see the brown rice-bag-like texture around the edges of the scene. Perhaps this was another of his attempts to escape modernity?

A few other paintings jumped out at me:

Monet’s The Palazzo Ducale, Seen from San Giorgio Maggiore–the touristy perspective and luminescence intruiged me here. I haven’t seen the Palazzo in real life yet, but Monet was visiting Venice and painting what he saw from a foreigner’s point of view (something I relate to very well right now as a foreigner in this new city). I’m not sure if he had seen this building before, but he seems to paint this landscape so that he’ll remember what it feels like to be there. (And though I’m sure the Palazzo feels different for everyone who sees it, he’s trying to share with the future how Venice feels to him. As a soon-to-be-European tourist, I appreciate this effort as it will allow me to compare Venice Then with Venice Now and get a more in-depth understanding of the city). We see the Palazzo from where Monet saw it; that little triangle of stone in the bottom of the picture from where he painted this picture really makes the painting for me because it puts Monet-the-Tourist in the painting; I could go to Venice tomorrow (that sounds like a good idea) and stand where he stood and share the exact same experience that Monet had 96 years ago.

Gino Severini’s futurist Red Cross Train Passing A Village so reminds us of the Cubist movement that came before Futurism. See the houses fragmented in the smoke and the speed of the train? I’m still trying to figure out what the numbers are all about–right now I think they symbolize the modern world… Severini painted this during World War I, so I think they’re a reminder of the significant role that science and medicine play in (any) war. What’s your take?

kandinsky.jpgI enjoyed the motion and sightlines in Robert Delaunay’s Eiffel Tower With Trees. And am in love with Vasily Kandisky and Mark Rothko‘s work–what great color in their abstract expressionism!! (“The inner vision of an artist translated into a universally understandable statement.”)

If I was a work of art (well, I know I’m a work of art [hahaha], but I mean literally, if I was a painting), I would be one of the pieces from this period when Cubo-futurism was morphing into modern art and there was so much going on socially, economically, artistically, and historically–everywhere in the world. I like to think that I’m vibrant, courageous, somewhat aware and reflective of what’s going on around me, innovative, y una mezcla del pasado y that which has yet to come. Whether all that is true or not is another situation entirely, but I’m working on it at least. Which work of art would you be?

It’s Saturday night and since everyone I know (all two people) are either working or out of town, I’ve decided to start a huge painting for the large bare wall in my room. You’ll be able to view this grand work of art in my own mini-Guggenheim soon!

Come to Vegas

All of you people out there who have been wanting to visit me (and I know there are hundreds of you!!) need to check out expedia’s specials right now. Don’t delay!
Why not book your flight today?? Ding!!

3 of 5