Monthly Archives: June 2008

A grocery bag conspiracy

This weekend while helping to man* the group yard sale several of my friends had on the other side of town, I shared my latest conspiracy theory. I guess it’s not really my latest one as it’s actually the only one I’m subscribing to at this moment. I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but this time, I think I might be on to something.

A few weeks ago, while putting away groceries from the local chain store, I noticed the paper bags I’d carried home seemed rather small. Sure enough, when I went to stack them with the rest of my paper bags**, they were shorter. Over two and a half inches shorter, in fact. I thought this was a little strange, but didn’t think too much of it until I went to a different chain grocery store (a funkier, far more environmentally friendly one) and found the size of their paper bags had also shrunk. Since they are pretty eco-friendly and usually pack every single inch of my bags full in an effort to use fewer bags, I found this change a bit odd. I actually needed more bags than I would have during my last trip.

That’s when I realized the shorter bags aren’t really an effort to save money on the stores’ parts. Instead, they are an effort to make the consumers feel like we are getting more. Shorter bags means more bags. More bags means the trunk/back seat/hatchback area looks a heck of a lot fuller. Since gas prices, and by association nearly all other prices are rising, I think this is the stores’ latest ploy to make us feel like we are getting our money’s worth. Sure, we may have just spent $100 on groceries, but look, it filled six bags. Before gas prices soared over $4, that same amount of groceries only got us five bags. Obviously we’re getting more for my money, so things must be ok.

Clearly this is an untested theory. I have no evidence other than two grocery chains (one local and one national) to back me up, but still, it’s kind of a wierd coincidence. Why else would the bags be shrinking at the same time prices are rising and the economists are debating whether or not we are in a recession?

*Read, ocassionally flashed jazz hands at passing cars and cried out, “we have good stuff, I promise, come see it.”

**I get paper bags on purpose since the elementary school across the street has huge paper recycling containers. Since I switched about four months ago, I’ve taken the bags over exactly 0 times. They are starting to form a rather big pile in my family room though.

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A new kind of pain

I’m pretty darn sure I’ve broken my toe. And not just any toe, but my big toe. The one I use for, well, everything I do on my feet.

I was climbing over the baby gate that stands in between the kitchen and the dining room (we have a freakishly small door frame and cannot find any stores that carry gates that will fit our door frame, so we have one up all the time and just climb over it), and I guess I stepped right on to one of my son’s books. It slipped out from under my foot and my big toe just sort of folded underneath the rest of my foot. The result was instant pain. And then continued pain. And, well, pretty much just lots and lots of pain.

I spent a good portion of yesterday putting ice on my toe. I called my father, who is a paramedic, and he told me there is really not much to do. Basically I can put ice on it. I can stay off it. I can tape it to my other toes to keep it as immobile as possible. Those are my only real options. It might not even be broken. I might just have sprained it really badly. I might have dislocated, then relocated it. I might have pulled something. With toes, he said, unless a bone is sticking out of the skin (ew, ew, ew), it’s hard to tell without and x-ray. Which there isn’t much point in getting, since if it is broken, all the doc will do is exactly what I should do: tell me to ice it, keep off it and wrap it with another toe. If it’s not feeling markedly better by Monday I may head to the doc, but it seems futile right now.

Although when I woke up this morning, it was definitely puffier than the other toe (despite hours of ice). It’s also kind of miscolored and it still really HURTS! Maybe even more than yesterday. Sleeping sucked because I’m a tosser and when I rolled over, I rolled onto my toe more than once.

One of the really annoying parts of all this (aside from the pain and limping and my son accidently stepping on it and sending a fresh wave of pain over me), is that I cleaned up all his toys on Wednesday night after he’d gone to bed. I put everything back in its place except that one book. I saw the book, but I was already sitting down watching a movie, so I figured what could one book out of place matter. Well, I guess I found out, huh?

So now I’m hobbling around and keeping a close eye on my son to make sure his 26.5 lb frame doesn’t land back on my bruised toe. This puts a real dent in my exercise program since the key element to it is walking and lots of it. I can barely hobble between rooms without pain, so I’m thinking 30 minutes on the treadmill or even a leisurely walk around the neighborhood is out. I was doing so well too. I had 13 of the last 15 days walking at least 20 minutes. GRRRRR!!!!!

The only good thing to come of this (and I’m not usually a silver lining kind of gal) is that I got online and ordered a damn baby gate that will fit our area and that I’ll be able to open and close with relative ease. No more climbing over that damn thing for me. It was inevitable that someone was going to get hurt on it. I’ve almost fallen a dozen times. And since I climb over it more than anyone else, I guess it makes perfect statsitical sense that it’d be me that fell. Still, it’s rotten that it’s costing $55 to replace a $2 yard sale gate (since we have three other gates that also cost us $50 + each), but since no stores in the area seem to carry a gate that will fit, I had to pay the outrageous shipping charges.  Double GRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!1

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Go ahead, decorate your yard with trash

In my neighborhood there is a house with a beautifully landscaped front yard. As long as the ground isn’t frozen, it is awash in color. There is a little pagoda set like an island among a sea of purple, blue and gold. I’m not sure what all the flowers are, since there are at least a dozen different varieties, but they all explode from neatly terraced beds.

Every time I walk by, it puts a smile on my face. Unfortunately, almost directly across the street from this treat for the eyes is one of the most blindingly awful yards I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure what the inhabitants were smoking at the time, but instead of decorating their yard with flowers, shrubs or even nice trees, they decided trash was the best way to go. The driveway is lined on both sides with old bowling balls. Rotund masses of dull orange, black, turquois, red and pink make a path straight to the garage. They also dot the front of the house leading from the garage to the front door. Interspursed with these recreational relics are clocks, which stopped working long ago, of all shapes and sizes. On the left side of the house is a used and badly faded rocking horse. The kind with the plastic painted body on a metal frame with springs to help it bounce up and down. There are other “treasures” mixed in for variety as well. It is a sight to behold. I find myself both repelled by it and drawn to it. I want so badly to know why. I know I’ve never owned a bowling ball, but my step-mom did and when she decided she now longer wanted to bowl, she did what most sane people do, she put it in a yard sale. She didn’t deck out our front lawn with it. It’s just too odd.

Not that my yard is some bastion of beauty. We have a window box that is bursting with petunias of purple, white and pink. We have a bed that runs the length of our house where the previous owner planted hostas. For some reason no matter what I do the leaves look like they have been ravaged by bugs. This year my husband planted some lilies which are just beginning to sprout. Hopefully we will soon have a small patch of white and pink star gazers and some yellow and red callas. These plants are all surrounded by mulch from the recent deforstation the city did on the other side of the drainage ditch. My lawn is still a long way from being the “pagoda” house, but at least it’s presentable.

This year I have a little garden of sorts too. It’s not much and a bit spread out, but I have three different kinds of tomatoes (I ADORE them) and a few zucchini plants. Although my tomatoes have yet to sprout, I’m excited because one of my zucchini plants already has eight tiny zucchinis. Next year I hope to have an actual garden plot with broccoli, carrots and maybe some beans. I’ve never had much of a green thumb, but since this is our first house, I really want to make it look nice and the thought of growing my own veggies is pretty cool.

I don’t understand why some people seem to take such little pride in their homes. I’m not talking about spending thousands of dollars to deck out your yard in flowers each year. It’s simple things like mowing a yard more than once a summer (a house on the corner) or not leaving seven bikes and a pile of plastic toys out (my lovely neighbors across the street). I don’t really care about making it look great for everyone around me, it’s not a status thing. It’s more that I like being outside and having a pleasant view. It’s the same reason that before we moved in we spent hours looking at paint samples and then painting almost all of our rooms. After living in apartments for so long and looking at sterile white walls, I wanted something nice to look at.

I know people have different priorities. I just wish the bowling ball people would reasses theirs. Something is definitely out of whack.

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The latest in an endless sting of diets

I’m on a diet. This is not entirely a shock seeing as I’ve been on a diet since I was 12. Not the same diet, of course, otherwise I probably wouldn’t need a diet so much as counseling for my eating disorder. I have, however, been dieting on and off since middle school.

Diets suck. It doesn’t matter what kind of diet; they all suck. Anytime I have to deny myself something I know tastes good and that I enjoy ingesting, it sucks. Yes, I realize it seems like a gratuitous usage of the word suck, but I really want to get across how much I think diets do, well, suck.

Over the last twenty years, I have tried a variety of diets. For awhile in high school I tried going 24 hours without eating at a time, then restricting myself to a small variety of foods when I did eat. I accompanied this with marathon exercise bike rides of two to three hours. It was sucky and I spent a lot of time feeling really dizzy and even passed out a few times, but I lost twenty pounds, so it seemed like a small price to pay.

In college, I tried a similar dieting tactic. I skipped breakfast entirely, ate a bowl of nachos (my dining hall had a nacho bar that was amazing) and then usually skipped dinner in favor of a Kit Kat bar and a Coke. Now I know it doesn’t sound like a diet, but paired with all the walking I had to do (my dorm was on the absolute north end of campus and most of my classes on the south) and the quick pace I had to do it in since I was usually running just about late, I managed to not only avoid the freshmen 15, but actually lose another 10.

Then I fell in love, which can be an amazing diuretic. I didn’t want to eat. Time spent eating was time I could have been spending with him. Not to mention that eating made the prospect of him seeing me naked repugnant to me, so I gave it up again. Come to think of it, that might have been what really helped me lose those 10 pounds!

The problem with my relationship, and with all relationships that last long enough, was that I got really comfortable in it*. That meant I started eating again. Since my S.O. liked to cook and was used to cooking for a kind of big family, the portions he dished out were also big. Coupled with my love for fast food, chocolate and my lack of free time to eat anything that wasn’t on the go, I gained those 10 pounds back. Then I added another 30 or so.

It was a gradual add. I almost didn’t notice it since I had to buy new clothes over a long period of time. One day, I stepped on the scale and was really appalled by the numbers. That marked a period of dieting that I like to refer to as “the fad” years. I tried Slim Fast. The problem was only the chocolate ones were even kind of appealing. The vanilla ones were so fakey-sweet that they made me gag. Eating two liquid meals a day was really hard. Unless you are 6 months old, there is no liquid diet that doesn’t leave you famished and eventually purging on an entire bag of chips at say 2 a.m.

So I tried low carb. This didn’t last long because I LOVE carbs. It turns out I cannot live and be a reasonably nice person without pasta and bread. I didn’t even make it two weeks before I realized that any diet that told me fruit was off limits but I could eat as much red meat as I wanted probably wasn’t a good idea. Sure, everyone I know whose really tried it has had good initial results, but then they’ve all gained the weight back with some to spare.

 So I tried some sort of “miracle” juice I saw on TV that promised I’d lose up to 10 lbs in a week. I had to eat nothing and drink this juice for something like five days straight. It tasted fine, much like V8 Splash, but again, it was a liquid diet. The final straw was at the movies when my S.O. was eating a bag of delicious buttery popcorn while I sipped on my juice. When I lost only three pounds, all of which were water weight, I realized the juice was junk.

I gave up and gained a few more pounds.

By the time I left for London on a school trip, I was tipping the scales at, well, let’s just say it crossed a line I never thought I’d cross. I was 60 pounds heavier than my junior year of high school (my skinniest), and even that year I was a wee bit chubby. I had given up on losing weight and decided to just accept myself. In theory, this is all empowering and what not, but in reality, I hadn’t accepted it and I hated the way I looked. I just got better at hiding the fat.

The week in London turned out to be a major turning point for me. We were all prepared for a lot of walking during the trip, but I don’t think any of us realized that some days would be a near death march through the city. We weren’t prepared for days that started at 7 a.m. and didn’t end until after 10 because the sun was still out. Nor were we prepared for the heat wave all of Europe was having. We all packed for the 70 degree weather we’d read about (and checked on weather.com two days before hand). The temperatures hovered close to 90 (and sometimes over) every day we were there. We walked and we sweated. We sat and we sweated. We ate and we sweated. And with the heat and the walking and the sub par food we got on our tour, we didn’t eat all that much. I came back from London nearly 10 pounds lighter than when I left.

And so the diet started. This time I got smart. Twenty years of dieting has taught me something. I don’t have the world’s best will power. I cannot be on any diet that denies me entire categories of food. Instead, I decided I could eat whatever I wanted, as long as that whatever didn’t total more than 1300 calories each day. It was a struggle. There were days I broke down and had to eat the taco salad or entire candy bar, but I managed to stay on the diet for close to nine months. And more imortantly, I ended up losing about 40 pounds.

For the first time I’d made a real lifestyle change. I gave up all regular soda. I made sure I had fruit or vegetables at every meal. I ate out no more than twice a week and when I did, I didn’t Super Size anything. I skipped dessert most nights, but when I did have it, I ate one cookie or one truffle.

Over the next few years, this helped me not only maintain my weight, but actually lose another 6 pounds, bringing me fairly close to my junior year weight.

Then, I got pregnant. And while I only gained 40 pounds, it hasn’t been easy to lose it. When we were in Vegas, I saw myself in one of the long hallway mirrors. I had a cute new haircut, but the same old flabby body. My face looked chubby and once again, I decided I’d had enough.

The day we got back, I embarked on this latest diet. It’s been two weeks and I’ve lost three pounds. I’ve worked out 12 of the last 14 days (nothing too strenuous, I’ve never liked exercise–just walking at least a mile each day at a brisk pace). I’ve upped my fruit and veggie intake and gotten nearly all of the junk food out of the house. I’m on a mission.

I only have to lose 5 pounds until I’m back to my pre-baby weight, but I’m not stopping there. I want to get back down to my lowest “adult” weight, which means I actually have 19 pounds to go. I now know this won’t happen quickly. It’s going to be a steady diet and exercise routine. I’m hoping for 4-5 pounds a month, which I think is reasonable. If I can stick to it, I’ll hit my target weight by the end of October.

Just in time for the holidays!

*It is not actually bad to feel comfortable in a relationship emotionally, it was just devestating to my waistline.

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A sleep conspiracy

I think my husband may be drugging our son. Not in a call Child Protective Services sort of actually drugging my son sort of way, but in a they are somehow conspiring to drive me crazy kind of way.

See, during the school year, I get up every morning with my son except Saturdays. This makes sense since I’m the one who takes him to the sitter’s (it’s closest to my work) and I have to get up way earlier than my husband–I get up at 5:30 am and he gets up around 8:15. Saturdays are my day to sleep in and even though he gets to sleep in every work day in my eyes, we’ve agreed that he gets to sleep in to a time he feels is leisurely on Sunday (usually close to 11). And while I hate getting up at 5:30, I know I have to, so this works for us.

This summer though, it’s a whole different story. I realize my husband still has to go to work each day I am off, but I figure since I get up way early 9.5 months out of the year and I spend my “days off” chasing the baby around, he has to get up with him a few more mornings each week. To his credit, he has not complained about our new arrangement. Mostly because his sleeping patterns don’t actually appear to be changing.

See, on my mornings to get up with the baby, he wakes up between 6 and 7. He’ll lay in his crib and “talk” for awhile and then after 20 minutes or so, the “I want up” cries start. On rare ocassions his 6 am wake is a fake out and he rolls back over and goes to sleep, it’s only until 7:30 or so. The problem is that once he’s woken up and I’ve gotten 4-6 hours of straight sleep, I have a hard time going back to sleep. In the last week, on my mornings to get up with him, the latest he’s slept in is 7:30. And on my days to sleep in, he’s been waking up between 2:30-4am and crying out just long enough to wake me up (and keep me there for awhile), but not long enough that I have to go in and see what’s up.

My husband, on the other hand, has yet to get up before his alarm goes off at 8:15. In fact yesterday when it was his morning to get up early, my son didn’t wake until 8:45. Sure, I got to stay in bed until 8:45, but that’s not the point. The point is that somehow my son seems to know when it’s my morning to roll out of bed early, and makes me do so.

I’m not sure how my husband has managed this, but I know there is something devious at work here.

Last night as I was drifting off, I decided my husband was getting up with the baby this morning if he woke before the alarm. I was tired of it. After all, fair is fair. If I have to get up early, so should he. I went to bed very satisfied and happy I was going to get that sweet 45 minutes of extra sleep. Then I woke to the sound of my husband vomitting out the entire contents of his stomach. Thankfully he’d made it to the bathroom, but it sounded unpleasant. I hate to admit it, but my first thought was, “damn it, I’m getting up with the baby.” My second thought was for my husband’s well-being so I called out to check on him.*

After some discussion, a wet cloth for his head, and some really freaky breathing (fairly standard), he started to drift off. Then he started to snore. And not the soft snoring he sometimes does that annoys me but I can sleep through. Loud, wall shaking snoring. I couldn’t do my usual forceful nudge because he was sick. I knew I was doomed. At four a.m., all I could do was hope he would roll over so I might get some sleep. A short while later I sweetly nudged him to say I was going to the guest room. In response he rolled on his side and his snoring stopped. It was 4:30 and I was thrilled. I rolled over and closed my eyes.

At that exact moment, my son started crying. Not the slightly frustrated cry that lasts for a second until he rolls over and goes back to sleep. No, this was an ear splitting wail that lasted for several minutes. Long enough to shatter not only my new found silence, but also any chance of sleep. About five minutes later he quieted down, but it was too late. The damage had been done. I laid in bed. And I laid there some more.

I continued to lay there until around 5:00 am when I think I must have drifted off. At 7:25, my son woke me up again. This time I knew there would be no more sleep. He talked for awhile, but even with the monitor off, I could hear all of his gibberish. I laid in bed for a few more minutes before giving up and getting him up. My husband slept blissfully through his alarm.

I’m not sure what is going on, but I am determined to put a stop to it. Somehow I will break their little code and get a real, full night of sleep. I think my system of getting up every other day is going to have to go out the window. Instead, we’ll have to switch to who got up with him pre-alarm last. It’ll be a bit of a pain and I know there will be grumbling. There will no doubt be oen of us** who forgets who got up last and tries to argue it. Still, I won’t give in. I will break this wretched system they have going. I will sleep in until 8:15!

*I knew what was wrong with him. My husband only gets violently ill like this when he gets a migraine. There is pretty much nothing I can do, so I wasn’t really being as callous as I sound. When he did stumble back to bed, I fretted over him and even got him a cold washclothe for his head.

**It won’t be me.

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The ultimate trump card

Apparently all of my neighbors are racists. At least that’s what the woman who lives across the street told her son. Well, more like yelled at him. I don’t think she is actually capable of talking the way most human beings understand it. Of course, that could be because everytime I get within five feet of her all I can smell is beer.

Her son, who I think is 16, was up on a ladder trying to clean out the gutters. The problem was that he was using a ladder he decided to take from a neighbor’s yard without asking. She was very concerned the neighbors would sue them. Not because he’d stolen their ladder though, because “people in this neighborhood don’t like black people.”

She continued to rail on about those of us surrounding her. Apparently we all sit out in our front yards for the sole purpose of hearing all their business. My husband, ironically, was in the front yard and heard every word she said, not because he cares about her ever so important business, but because he was weeding our flower beds. He was the only person within eyesight in his front yard. No one, except for their family, spends any length of time in their front yard. And there’s a good reason for it.

Now, I can’t speak for everyone in our neighborhood. I think there are several families who probably have no idea who she even is. Although from the way she carries on every day, I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone in our rather small neighborhood could actually hear her. And, for all I know some of them may actually dislike her family based only on the color of their skin. That, however, is not why I dislike them, although I freely admit that I do dislike them.

Well, at least I dislike some of them. I’m not actually sure how many people live in the house. When we first moved in it seemed to be a young couple and their daughter. They had a steady stream of visitors, but most arrived sometime after I left for work and usually left before it got too dark out. Then, came an influx of relatives. I think they may be siblings of someone. It’s impossible to tell because at any given time there are half a dozen cars parked either in their driveway or along the street, right in the exact spot that makes it hard to get out of my driveway without hitting them. Last winter I actually had to ask one guy, who doesn’t live there but comes over every single day, to park further back so that I could get out of my driveway. He was very nice about it, but as soon as the snow melted, another car, which visits about every other day, took his place.

In addition to all the cars, there are always about a dozen kids running around the yard. This alone doesn’t bother me. I think four or five of them actually live over there. What bothers me is that none of the adults over there seems to talk to any of them. They yell everything. And since someone is sitting in their front yard (I don’t think they ever use their backyard) from about 9 am until about 9 pm, someone is always yelling. I can hear them telling kids to “come back here,” “stop hitting her” or “not to ride in by the cars” when I am sitting on my back porch all the way across the street. Sometimes I can hear them when I’m in my living room, with my house completely shut up and my TV on.

And the kids don’t seem to have any respect for other people’s property. They ride up into our driveway, which again isn’t that big of a deal, except that they ride all over our lawn and sometimes into our flower beds. Even when they stay in the driveway, they hoop and holler, often when my son is trying to nap. My husband walked into the garage to get something a few weeks ago (our garage door was up since he was doing yard work) and found two girls from across the street just standing in our driveway staring into our garage. They didn’t say anything, just watched him for a minute and then walked away.  

All this is annoying, but not the worst of it. During the summer, when their friends come over to visit, they crank up the music. And not from a stereo inside, from one of the cars in the driveway, which is all tricked out with bass so deep that it shakes my house. They play it loud enough that when it’s not distorted by bass, I can understand the lyrics.

The topper though, is that they’ve started asking us for money. I was pulling out of my driveway on the way to the store when a guy I’d never seen before walked across and motioned to me that he needed to tell me something. I thought maybe something was wrong with one of my tires or that I’d left something on my roof. Nope. He was a relative of someone living in the house and needed to borrow a couple of bucks to fill his tank up so that he could get to work. Never mind the fact that three cars were parked in the driveway/street and the front door appeared to be open, he came to me, a complete stranger and asked for money. I didn’t have any cash on me, and I told him that. He abruptly walked away, saying merely “fine.” When I told my husband about it, he said the same guy had approached him earlier in the week as he came home and gave him the same story. And just this past weekend he caught one of my older neighbors and tried to bum cash off of her. She made the mistake of giving it to him once before and this time refused. She said he walked off in a huff.

I want to walk over to my neighbor and explain to her that the reason I dislike her has nothing to do with the color of her skin, but rather her rude and inappropriate behavior. Especially with accusing the entire neighborhood of hating blacks, since while I may seethe inside about their behavior, I have never been anything but nice to them. Every time I see her, I wave, smile and even make polite small talk. I know the little girl’s name and talk to her regularly. The only “mean” thing I’ve ever done was ask them to move a car and refused to give a stranger money.

I can’t do this of course, because calling someone a racist is the ultimate trump card. No matter what comes out of your mouth in defense, it’s just another example of how racist you are. While I understand that there are many prejudice people in this world and I don’t doubt that there have been people who have disliked her because of her race, I abhor people who immediately assume everyone who disagrees with them, doesn’t like to listen to them scream in their front yard, or doesn’t like to have their possessions taken without their knowledge is a racist. I want to shake people and say, “believe it or not, I just dislike you because you are you.” But in their eyes that would make me a racist.

I know I’ve harped on this before, but it just irritates me to no end when people excuse their horrid behavior, their failures in life or their personal lack of ambition on “racism.” It’s not always the “man” keeping you down. Often it’s yourself and your own views and attitudes. For racism to actually end, it means everyone needs to stop making excuses (and this includes those racist assholes who feel it is ok to dislike/treat poorly/or abuse someone based on their sex/ethnicity/religion/or sexual preference) and start actually taking responsibility for themselves.

They also need to stop broadcasting their business to the neighborhood and asking me for money.

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Vegas, a few last words

Ok, so this will be the last of my Vegas posts. At least until I decided to visit again. There were some fun and interesting things I wanted to talk about that didn’t really seem to fit in any of the other blogs, so, here goes…

-I saw an Elvis impersonator. Despite the 90+ temps, he was all decked out in a sequined black jumpsuit. His hair, which was also black was perfectly coiffed and his mutton chops were exactly like the King’s during his final days of performance. He even had the giant sunglasses. He was walking outside Planet Hollywood, right next to the “red carpet experience”* no doubt as a means to draw guests into the shops and casinos by offering pictures on said red carpet. He was a pretty good representation of Elvis circa 1971, paunch and all. Which led me to wonder why every single Elvis impersonator goes for the extra hairy, extra tacky bloated Elvis instead of the farily attractive young Elvis of say Jailhouse Rock or Blue Hawaii. While I’ve never been an Elvis fan, my grandmother was and whenever she babysat me, we watched his movies. Back in the days of her youth, I could see why she liked the guy. That’s the Elvis I wanted to see. And yet I got the tubby one. I’m guessing that the kind of person willing to spend his time trying to be the King probably has the build for the later days. The early, good-looking Elvi are no doubt out actually having lives and getting laid.

-Elvis wasn’t the only “celebrity” I saw. I also saw a showgirl. Well, at least someone dressed as one. I have a feeling since I saw here standing in the middle of the dirty strip mall right outside the hole in the wall that rented luxury cars for the day instead of in a casino, probably meant she was just a “model” trying to hawk rental cars. She too was standing out in the heat of the mid-day. She looked a little readier for it though. Although that giant feathered head piece had to be at least slightly uncomfortable. She had a strange look on her face. It’s the same look I’ve seen on strippers. That look that says she’s there physically, but in her mind she’s somewhere other than posing with half-drunk former frat boys. It was definitely an odd spectacle as she was sandwiched between a liquor store, a clothing store selling “outfits for clubbing,” a cheap souvenier shop and a Hummer, Lotus, Jag, Corvette and some cute little Vespas, all for rent.

-I think I was waited on by a transvestite in Lush. Either that, or a really tall, willowy Asian woman with a severely hairy upper lip badly covered in concealer and a decidedly unnatural gait. Oh, and a wierd voice that she didn’t quite seem comfortable with.

-The Flamingo casino smells like coconuts. I’m not exactly sure why (although my guess is because of the tropical sort of theme), but the second we walked past Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon, we smelled coconuts. Not just once either. We smelled it every time we walked by. They must pump it in to the air. Wierd, but really nice. Except for one dead spot where it smelled like garbage.

-Also, the Flamingo actually has pretty tasty, affordable pizza. As tacky as it looks (I’ve never seen so much pink), past the casino there is a small pizza stand. We got a large four cheese pizza (although we did have to ask for sauce on it) for $11.

-Speaking of food, there is a neat little deli in Bally’s. If you go down the escalator’s toward the shops, it’s pretty much right there. It’s Johnny’s Delicatessen and it is tasty. Huge portions and very affordable. I had a philly steak sandwich that was out of this world.

-One last food related note (hey, neither of us are gamblers, but we both like good food), we ate at a Japanese seafood buffet called Todai inside Planet Hollywood. We got a discount through Tix4Tonight. The sushi was decent, but they had AMAZING tempura. I must have eaten a dozen tasty tempura veggies and several shrimp as well. Plus they had really good bacon wrapped asparagus.

-Ok, so this is the last food note, I promise. In the Forum Shops, we found a chocolate shop. Seeing as how I have never found a chocolate shop I didn’t like, we ventured in. Vosges is sparce, but what it has is definitely exotic. Like all good chocolate shops, they gave free samples and I tried the Naga, which is “Sweet Indian curry powder + coconut + milk chocolate. Inspired by the tribes of Northeast India and the fertile landscapes. I naturally conjured up thoughts and dreams of curry.” A little wierd, but definitely interesting. They also have a line of exotic chocolate bars including a white chocolate bar with Kalamato olives,  a dark chocolate bar with wasabi and Mo’s bacon bar. If you have a few minutes, check out their chocolates. Unique, without a doubt.

-We saw a pretty good band at the Indigo Lounge at Bally’s. Lots of the casinos have nightly musical acts, which is pretty cool. Sure, they were covers, but they had a really ecclectic selection and even my husband, who is a musician and pretty picky, really liked them. It’s a nice distraction when you are too old for clubbing. Plus, it’s free entertainment.** A really nice feature in Vegas.

Overall Vegas was a bit like Vosges. Definitely unique. Some sweet things to sample, but also some things that seemed out of place, a little disturbing and left a bad taste in my mouth.

*They have a red carpet, complete with red velvet ropes and a white back drop that says Planet Hollywood all over it so you can stand on it and take pictures, and experience the red carpet. Except for the lack of limos, press and actual celebrities, I’d say it’s dead on.

**The card on the table said two drink minimum, but no one seemed to be enforcing it and people came and went constantly. It’s an open air space…how could they make sure you drank up?

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