The first few weekends of August are ones I spent in the desert. Both were nice chances to get out of the house and have what felt like normal times, even though we absolutely are not living in normal times.
First up, Vegas! It had been just under 2 years since the last trip we took all together, including Larry, as a group of friends. I had managed to wrangle up that group back then because I knew Larry was going to be having that massive surgery back at NYC and, I guess my gut was telling me you need to do this. That was a spectacular weekend back in August 2019, and I’m glad that Larry was able to have that kind of an outing before it all got really difficult. In that trip, there was 6 of us going and then of course meeting up with Michancy.
Anyway, I’ve been missing Vegas. I am certainly my mother’s son and gambling is in my blood. So, I just finally wanted to go again. It probably wasn’t the wisest time to go with Delta variant coming on strong, but I still just wanted to go. One thing I had to do was disperse some of mom’s ashes, so that was another reason for me to go. I’m not going to drive all that way to just turn around and come home.
I booked a swanky room at the Cosmopolitan (Larry & I had stayed there when we met up with Jon & Alyssa in Vegas in 2015 and loved it). I wasn’t sure if anyone else would be up for going, but I reached out to Maj as she’s truly the only other in the friend group who likes gambling as much as I do. Turns out she was able to go so that was the group! Small but fun.
Here’s where mom’s ashes are – they are where Harv’s ashes are too, so I’m hoping this helped with her spirit.
I had decided to make this a 3-day weekend, so I left Thursday afternoon. I got to Halloran Summit around 3:30pm, and that left about another hour before I pulled into the Cosmopolitan. Even though Vegas is not a ghost town, it’s still noticeably less crowded than if I had gone two years ago, even on Thursday. Which I’m completely fine with, as I hate when it’s overly crowded, especially with covid.
The room and the view were amazing. I decided to pay good $$ for this trip, so yeah, you get a pretty great view and room. Maj had made it right around the same time as me, but she stayed at the Tropicana, which is a bit away but still sort of walkable. She made it up and we had some drinks at the Chandelier Bar first and caught up. We then took an Uber downtown to where Michancy was waiting for us at this really cool sushi restaurant. It’s the Arts district there, and it was a nice way to do things as it’s otherwise very hard to get reservations at a lot of places spur of the moment. I also got to meet Michancy’s sister, Nova, and it was just a great night to start things off. Michancy dropped Maj and I back off at the Tropicana and we walked over to New York New York as that had the more fun casino. And we had a really great time at the blackjack table! That was my only good time with blackjack that entire trip! Happily, at midnight on Thursday, Nevada instituted a mask mandate indoors, so that made me have some relief. I was actually very happy to see lots of masks up even before that, but it was reassuring to have the mandate kick in while we were there.
The next day, we wandered over to the Linq and O’Shea’s to gamble and drink, and then we had lunch at a fun pizza place (with a cute waiter) and continued to drink. There was more gambling after, and then we all got ourselves collected to have dinner at Esther’s Kitchen, which was across the street from the sushi place we ate at the night before. Delicious food and hipster vibes (Larry would’ve loved it) and then we had ourselves a table at Piranha’s, a gay bar off strip. Oh yeah, before the club, we stopped by Michancy’s apartment, and that was the first time I’ve ever actually been to her place. Any of them, lol. We then drove and parked at Cosmopolitan and then took a Lyft to Pirahna’s. Needless to say that was a blast. We got there at 9:30 (Waaaayyy early for a club) but were there till about 2:30am and it was just so nice and fun to have our own section, our own alcohol, and space to dance without being too much around others.
After recovering a bit the next day, we had reservations for brunch at Mon Ami Gabi, which is basically a tradition at this point. What was cool was that while I didn’t bother trying to get an outdoor table, or even one in the sun room, we managed to get one as the inside table we did get needed to be added to a big party, and the manager not only comped us our first round of bloody mary’s but also got a swanky table in the sun room. We also saw Spike Lee there. It was a fun day. I ended up having a reallllllll good time at the craps tables at Paris Las Vegas – one time at the glass craps table (it’s an electronic table and you bet via a personal screen) and while I had been down there I kept playing because I just didn’t care, and holy shit, this one guy started rolling and I made all my money back. Once he left and others couldn’t roll, I stopped and cashed out, and while looking for Maj, I couldn’t find her, so I decided to go and play at a real craps table again, and holy shit, I rolled really good (and I had been having spectacularly bad rolls this trip) and then this guy to my left rolled INSANELY good. I had texted Maj to get over here and she managed to ride some of that wave too. Oh, craps can be so good when the rolling is right. Yeah, I had a good gambling time this trip. I choose to believe Larry and my mom were helping nudge the dice the right way. That evening we had reservations to Water Grill, which is where we all had dinner back in August 2019 too. It’s a delicious restaurant. Anyway, that evening I kind of wound down as it got really crowded as there were a few sporting events happening that night and on Sunday. It brought everyone in, and I was just ready to be done. It was a wonderful trip with Maj and Michancy. I am really wanting to go back, lol.
The next day was time to head home. I’m happy to have finally been back to Vegas and visit Michancy, and I don’t appear to have caught covid during my time there, and I want to head back there again soon. It’s fun to have a gambling buddy, and Maj is exactly that. So figuring out how to go back and have the right group is paramount.
The following weekend (August 6-8), I went out to Desert Hot Springs to celebrate Stacie’s birthday. She had got an AirBnb and invited a few family and friends over to stay and have fun. Two weekends in a row was admittedly exhausting, but at least in this case, once I got there, there was very little in having to move around again. In Vegas, I routinely was hitting 15k+ steps each day. That’s insanity. Here, there was a pool, there was air conditioned great room, and that was mainly it. We drank, we danced, we hung out in the pool, we cooked meals, and it was just a really wonderful time with this group. This will likely be Stacie’s last hurrah here in California, so it was meaningful. Her plan is to eventually get to Tennessee in the next few months, and I’m excited for her.
Now it’s August 15 and I spent this weekend at home and it was glorious. I did some needed cleaning of the bathrooms, grocery shopping, catching up on The White Lotus in advance of tonight’s season finale, and got the motivation to update the blog again. 2 times in a month? Don’t call it a comeback.
Yesterday was a good day. Unexpectedly a good day. I had made a plan to do a slow-cooker recipe for carnitas, and that honestly was the expectation for the day, in addtion to playing Railway Empire and Horizon Zero Dawn (which both are awesome and I’m obsessed). I got the morning started off right with some yoga (I’m honestly past counting the days anymore as it is a daily habit now, and I intend for it to be that way from here on out), and then I got the slow-cooking started.
Slow-Cooking Carnitas – Aug 16, 2020
Larry would’ve been proud. Used a pork butt that ButcherBox had sent to me (I’m still not sure what else to do with a pork butt besides carnitas), then got the mise-en-place done and about 8 hours later, I had delicious carnitas for dinner. SOOO GOOD.
The main thing though that made the day surprisingly good was that I was taking some supplies over to the home where my mom is living. It has been off limits for visitors so I expected I’d just get to drop the stuff off in the lobby but when I got there, guess what, apparently I should’ve read my emails from them as visitors are allowed again as long as you have a mask. So I got to see mom again for the first time in over 5 months. Even typing that just makes me sad. She didn’t even recognize me at first as she obviously wasn’t expecting me there either – I had Gatorade in hand and she asked me to put some in the refrigerator and then asked a nurse for her phone to call me and then she realized it was me. We hugged but I kept the mask on as it’s still an issue. We spent some time together but neither of us are long-term visit folks, so I left and we knew that I’d come back the next weekend. I took some pics of us together but she asked me not to post anything so I won’t. But I really was glad to get to see her.
The evening was good as I had an amazing dinner and then I went and set up the rooftop cinema for another movie:
It felt appropriate to watch it as it was definitely one of those movies that my mom and I watched endlessly when I was growing up. The soundtrack is still the best. Footloose was already in my head to watch again as the Number Ones article series this past week was in 1984 when “Footloose” the song topped the charts. Anyway, it was a fun way to end a good day.
What Else is Going on Besides Yesterday?
A lot of not much? But I’m passing the time. Most importantly and awesomely, Big Brother is back. I’ve of course been posting about this All Stars season as it’s just something new but also something I have loved for so long. I’m sad Larry isn’t able to enjoy it with me (despite his annoyance it he always would get sucked in). I do have my friends Mel, Nicki, and Sarah to text about it while episodes are going on, so that’s fun.
With Nicki visiting frequently on weekends, we’ve taken to playing the hell out of Ticket to Ride, and so I’ve gone and bought some of the board game expansions for it. We will have our enjoyment, dammit!
I re-discovered this picture of Larry from when we lived in Santa Monica (March 2013). It was when Stacie and Trent had come over for the day and he was cooking dinner. Larry looks so handsome here and has a great big smile while doing what he was amazing at, cooking and entertaining.
It’s my phone background now. It makes me happy.
I’m going in reverse-chronological order through my pictures since my last post and while if I was better about frequent posting the pics would make it, now it’s like, eh, no need. But I did try another recipe in mid July that was a Larry special: the cajun chicken pasta recipe modeled on what Chili’s makes. It’s soooo good. Larry had the recipe in Paprika and I decided to go for it. Honestly, it was really good, but not as good as he made it. But I can always try again. I was really happy to play with cooking chicken breasts though – butterflying them and then frying them on the stove makes them taste so delicious with a proper seasoning on them!
Cajun Chicken Pasta via Me – July 19, 2020
BTW, when Jon & Alyssa were out for last Thanksgiving, Jon, Michancy, and I went to pick up supplies. One of the stops was Mission Wine & Liquor and thank GOD for that journey as it really is one of those fantastic liquor stores that actually carries a ton of wine with many options and always always has the MONTEPULCIANO. I don’t think I need wine.com anymore although I did make sure to get my money back on that membership that gets your complimentary shipping!
Superman & Sound of Music – July 16, 2020
Watching movies on the roofdeck is awesome. It’s a little bit of work to get the screen up and the projector and sound all put in place, but it’s just so worth it. One night, I had it in me to want to see Superman up on the roof, because it’s awesome. It’s also long, and I made an intermission for myself as I was getting a little tired. I had posted a little about that online and Wendy brought up that maybe I could have The Sound of Music on the roof this year? Part of me reeeeally wants to have that singalong here, but part of me is also like, is that irresponsible? I don’t know what the best answer is. I could see having a few people, maybe? But it’s like, I think we could wait too. I don’t know. But for a moment I was excited and I decided to watch a few scenes from TSOM to make sure it worked up there! I also discovered you really can’t go up and watch anything until it’s actually dark. lol
I guess one last picture set to put up is actually what I ended up doing the night of my last posting, which was back on July 12. I set up the movie theater again for myself (knowing how to do it was half the battle!) and watched The Empire Strikes Back which was having its 40th anniversary and amusingly was the #1 movie in the nation that weekend because everything else is shut down. It’s quite awesome to watch on a big screen!
The Empire Strikes Back – July 12, 2020
One weekend when Nicki was here, we watched The Goonies up on the roof deck, so it’s been fun to watch some classics in that venue!
Those are the main pictures I’ve got. Everything else? Work is work, so that’s good. I dream about Larry every now and then, and it’s nice. Sometimes I want to post about those dreams so I can remember them later, but I usually don’t. Some have been funny – a while ago I dreamt about us trying to get a table at brunch and it was so vivid. Sometimes I can vaguely remember that he’s actually dead while in the dream and it makes it that much more surreal. Like, do I tell him?
Alright, I think I’m caught up. It’s close to September. It’s crazy to believe Larry’s death was over 7 months ago. I can’t really understand that 5 months have been lost just being stuck at home. It’s fucking stupid and I hate it because if our nation had had a coordinated response that made the pain last just 1-2 solid months, we’d likely be in a position now to be rolling things out properly. But no, that’s not this country. We’ve got “freedom” to act as selfishly as we want and god forbid your “freedoms” are infringed upon by being asked to wear a mask. People are just so fucking dumb. We deserve all that we are getting.
It’s been about two weeks since last I posted – as anyone knows, the pandemic and associated social distancing, etc is still going on, and probably will be for quite a while longer. Things really aren’t that exciting, in other words. But Nicki has come over every weekend and that has made the time go by a little better, as the weekends don’t feel just the same anymore. I’d probably have lost my mind even more if we didn’t start doing this.
So, since you know this bitch loves to post pictures, here are some from the last few weeks. Keep scrolling though as I will go into the things I’ve added. I promise.
PwC gave us a 4-day weekend for the Fourth of July. It was much needed. On Thursday, July 2, which most people didn’t have off, I decided I’d finally make myself go out to Target. I hadn’t been since the lockdown began, so some time in early March? I was worried a little, but happily, everyone had masks on, it wasn’t super crowded, the lines were organized, and people respected each other’s personal spaces. I spent more money than I probably should have, but that haul included getting two more Ticket to Ride games, Europe and NYC. Spoiler alert, Ticket to Ride Europe is fantastic, challenging, and the only I’ve really got a shot at beating Nicki at. Anyway, on Thursday, I also cleaned the house pretty good, including mopping the floors with my favorite mop. Larry is rolling his eyes somewhere.
Floor is Lava: During this weekend, I binged the Netflix series, Floor is Lava. Holy shit, it’s amazing. Imagine a big obstacle course you take on as a 3-person team, but the ground is instead “lava” that you have to not fall into. The goal is to get to the exit on the other side of the room, and holy shit it’s not easy. I loved every episode. The first episode had those 3 guys in the American Flag tank tops above, and I loved them all. All the episodes included plenty of attractive men, and the winners were often surprising. Anyway, amazing show. Give me more!
Ticket to Ride – Europe: This game is so fun, and so perfect. The core USA game is also a blast, but the Europe board really adds a lot of complexity and a forced ‘long route’ means you can’t avoid a painful cross-continent route. Tunnels and ferries are also a great addition to the challenge. I’ve played these on the app before, but the real thing is just so fun.
On Friday, July 3, I then got the courage to go to Ralph’s for the first time since March too. I do appreciate Instacart’s convenience, but man, that got expensive quick. All the surcharges plus you don’t get the discounts from store memberships really add up.
Nicki came over on Saturday for the Fourth of July, and we had a nice rooftop afternoon of Ticket to Ride Europe and music and drinking. For dinner, I fired up the grill and made hamburgers and hot dogs. Made hamburger patties from one of the ground beef packets I got from Butcher Box, so happily I’m chipping away at all the meat I’ve been storing up. I actually had to go down to every 2 months as I just don’t get to the meat that regularly. So to speak. In the evening, we began our watch of Search Party Season 3, which is amazing and continues the show’s slide into darkness (while also mixed with hilarity). We took a break though, as Nicki had to experience what fireworks in the SFV are like. That’s shorthand for fireworks (illegal or not) being launched EVERYWHERE you could see from the roof. I’ll have to post the pictures I took last year when Larry and I enjoyed the festivities from the roof and update a link here when I do, as I didn’t bother this year taking pictures, but anyway, her mind was suitably blown. It really is ridiculous.
Search Party, Season 3: This group of friends wades ever deeper into the holes they keep digging, and it’s impossible not to binge this entire season at once to see what happens. These 4 characters, as well as those that get wrapped up in their orbit, can at times be the worst, and it’s just so watchable. Of course, it ends on yet another really surprising cliffhanger, and online it sounds like the 4th season has already been filmed? Let’s hope, because jesus.
On Sunday, July 5, Nicki and I ended up also binging one more show before she went home, which is a wonderful show called I Am Not Okay With This. I’m not sure how much to reveal, but the trailer here should be enough to make you want to watch, as it is another really fun show and one where it’s like, I’m ready for the next season:
I’m a sucker for anything Fireball Island, and I found out that another expansion had been released. Yes, I realize that I have played this game only a handful of times as it does take a lot of setup and a lot of explanation of rules, but it is just the funnest fucking game to look at and once you play, and those fireballs start flying? HELLS YES. I got the latest expansion and had to put it together, and here are the results. One day we’ll play this.
I took pictures of how the board pieces have to stack to fit in the wood crate I got
So many pieces – and that’s not all of them as the big pieces I forgot to take a picture of
All the expansions in place. I didn’t put out all the treasures, ember fireballs, bees, spiders, etc as I’m not entirely insane
On Sunday night, I also challenged myself with another ambitious (for me) dinner recipe, making a ribeye steak, using a recipe I found online. It included making it in the cast iron skillet, along with creating a thyme, rosemary, and garlic in-pan sauce, which omg was amazing. I documented it as what else do I have to do?
Bought this bad boy at Ralphs
Here’s the smashed garlic and the thyme and rosemary
Hot stuff, too
Getting that crust
and now making the sauce that you keep drizzling on the steak
It was enough for two nights
The work week, like all work weeks since the pandemic, is a blur. It was particularly painful this week coming after a 4-day weekend. Fuck that. But every day, more yoga (yay, Adriene! I’m currently in the True 30-day program and up to 140 days now? wow), and while I backed off of my every day also doing jump-roping and/or band workout, I still do my best to add one of those at least after yoga. Then it’s work work work until around 6? Then cooking or something, and I’ll watch TV or play video games. I’m back on my Railway Empire kick after over a year not playing it. I started playing that back when Larry first got sick – I was terrible at it, so i gave it up. Then there was an association with Larry being sick, so I kinda didn’t play it again, but I did pick it back up as Anno 1800 can be so overwhelming. Anyway, that has been my game of choice lately, and it’s a satisfying thing. I think I want to start another of my action-adventure games soon. Will have to figure out which one.
Anyway, this weekend came – and it was kind of epic. Yesterday, in particular, a lot of cool stuff. First up, Mixtiles! Alright, so I may have to post the first set of Mixtiles pics that I took from last year, when I printed out 16 of my favorite LA shots that I’d taken. Larry and I then put them up on the first stairwell – and I loved them. But these weren’t people pictures – purely scenery, so you know, totally pretentious. So here’s the pictures from that fun activity with me and Larry. 🙂 I did put these on FB when we did it, and it’s posts like that which keep me from deleting FB entirely, as especially this last year, I didn’t post on my site much at all, but I would go on FB occasionally. Anyway:
June 2, 2019 – The First Mixtiles Adventure (w/ Larry)
Our fresh canvas awaits
Set 1 is up. The first set was easy but doing the remaining 3 clumps took math
As you can see, we then went to the bottom next. But then had to think how to space the middle two clumps
Larry honestly was the one who came up with figuring it out. So the 3rd clump looked great.
and the 4th clump finishes the project. Yay!
There’s that smile I miss
Closeups. City scapes.
Venues or Famous Locales
Iconic LA things
As you can see, the result was spectacular. Honestly, I was so proud of how this turned out, and the work Larry and I did to make our home special. The rest of the year went to shit, obviously, as soon after this day, Larry had an appt at City of Hope where we got the first terrible news that things were not good and then obviously it wasn’t. I’m glad that I have many memories of us and him before that, and it was those things that I realized I needed to see as well.
Last month then, I went through my pictures from the last few years. I didn’t want to go back too far, so I stuck to like 2016 or so and after. I wanted memories of things that made me happy, and to capture Larry in his healthy, happy days. Also, I wanted pictures of my friends and family up too, as I really didn’t have any printed out. I absolutely love the Mixtiles concept – they’re so easy to use (no nails – it’s all contact strips and easy enough to take down and rearrange if needed) and the image quality is really something. I ended up picking 44 images that made me happy. I finally got them delivered last week, and I wanted to wait to put them up once Nicki was here as it was good to have a sounding board and someone creative who has ideas.
My initial concept was to do something with the entry floor wall. It was unused and boring, especially facing the bright blue wall we painted down there. Then I got FORTY-FOUR Mixtiles and was like, oh shit, did I buy too many? You can see that they don’t seem big on the wall, but in the delivery box, they kind of seem bigger?
You may have noticed that these Mixtiles I chose a different format. In the first round of scenic shots, I had them add a white border (pseudo-mat). It made the pics look kinda classy. But for these people pics, I wanted as much pic as possible. So they filled the frame, and I think that also made them feel bigger. So I started to panic thinking there’s no way they’ll fit on the wall alone.
When Nicki came over yesterday, Saturday, July 11, we got to work figuring out with some rough math approximations what would work. 44 splits evenly only with 4 rows of 11 pics, and that wouldn’t work all that well. Larry and I had used the deck-of-cards trick to separate the first round of Mixtiles, and I wanted to do that again as I love that spacing. So Nicki and I settled on 5 rows of 8 pics, hoping that the top row wouldn’t seem so high. We kind of tried to approximate it before committing, and it didn’t seem too bad. Happily, we were right. We took 40 of the pictures and rocked the hell out of the entry wall – it looks fantastic. I chose the 4 that wouldn’t be part of this 4 for another area, as you’ll see soon.
The start of the Memory Wall
1 row done
All done down here
I am unbelievably happy with how well this turned out. It’s also kind of overwhelming – a lot of love on that wall, and it reminds me of what I, and all of us, have been robbed of. Larry is dead and I still can’t accept that and miss him and need him here. I also miss my friends and the ability to go be with them. Grieving in this manner is not normal and I recognize I occasionally lose my fucking mind. It’s not fun. So I do things like this to work through it – and as I said in my social media post, this is a way to walk to work and see my friends and family. 🙂
Upstairs, on the landing heading downstairs, that’s where i put the last 4 pictures:
I love these pics of us, and I can’t tell you how magical that picture of Larry looking out at that beautiful sky (and rainbow – which you can just barely see here) is. Anyway, he was and is loved, and I fucking miss him. But we had 10+ amazing years together, and that’s not nothing.
Yet this day was not done. I had enlisted Nicki’s help when she first got here, so I then allowed us to have a sun break, so back to the roof deck for sun and Ticket to Ride fun.
We headed back inside after a few hours as it was easily 100 degrees, and even under a deck umbrella, it’s still effing hot. So we watched The Old Guard movie on Netflix, and holy shit, watch that movie. IT’S SO FUCKING GOOD, and like everyone else on Twitter says, where’s the goddamned sequel because damn. Charlize Theron (and everyone else) was so good in this, and the story was so compelling, and the mythology, everything…..damn. SO GOOD.
While watching the movie, we took a break as we got a Facetime call from Alyssa & Jon because it was Rachel’s 4th birthday and she got a Travel Barbie from her Uncle Hobie (and Larry). So we got to celebrate a little with them (and Fran and Joel, who were over). I do love them all so much.
A delicious pot roast dinner was on tap for the evening, and it was wonderful. Nicki brought asparagus and it was so good, and the slow cooker was a champ with the roast. YUM.
Dinner is served!
Pot roast, asparagus, baked potato and wine
And FINALLY, something I’ve been thinking about since the first time Larry & I toured the Glen LA model homes: a fucking rooftop theater is now my reality. Seriously. So, we’d had ideas about how to do it from Day One, but of course it’s not a priority thing to do, and with everything else that happened last year, rooftop cinema was put on hold. We did end up getting the surround sound speakers installed in the living room, which holy shit, that’s still some awesome shit, and Larry definitely got to enjoy that. Actually, I’m gonna post those pictures here too, as this blog post is not nearly long enough. When watching The Old Guard in the early evening, it was stunning how good the sound was.
July 6, 2019 – Getting Surround Sound Speakers!!!!!!
Anyway, that detour into 2019 was necessary. I was so thrilled getting that in place, and knew waiting on that with the news we had was foolish – let’s just make this part of our lives more enjoyable as Larry and I both loved watching movies and he knew I’d always wanted a kick-ass experience for home.
Back to July 2020 – I’d been really wanting to do something for the roof. I can see my neighbors have done various things that i’m envious of – especially market lights, which is probably the final thing to do as Larry really wanted those. I’ve seen TVs mounted on the wall, a white sheet hang on the wall….but I’ve not really wanted that. So I did some research and a projector and screen seemed the best bet. I still didn’t want to mount anything on the exterior of my house, so I did find a solution for finding a screen that could be affixed to a stand-alone structure that could be assembled and disassembled fairly easily. The projector though was going to be key – you could totally skimp out and buy something cheap but you’re gonna get what you pay far. I did a google search and Wired had a listing of various Bests concerning projectors. My spidey-sense was tingled when I saw the BenQ projector option, and lo and behold, it’s a really popular projector. So popular, it’s sold out everywhere. Having used it myself now, I understand why. I did find a listing on eBay with a $200 markup, and while initially hesitant, I pulled the trigger. I also couldn’t find the recommended Yard Master screen anywhere (sold out everywhere) and I noticed it was kind of fucking expensive. So in Amazon, I did find an alternate which had decent reviews, and was 100 inches. YAS QUEEN. The one little thing that called out to me was that one of the reviews pointed out that the structure holding the screen is really deep – like 4 feet or so. I did the measurements where I had wanted the screen to get set up and was like, 4 feet? That’s fine.
I got the projector first and did a test run setting it up in my bedroom using the Apple TV from the guest room. Fran had made use of that Apple TV while she was here in 2019, but now it was sitting unused as Michancy and Nicki weren’t using it. So I had my entertainment streaming device, hooked it up to the projector, and prayed that I hadn’t been sold a lemon. I had not.
This BenQ projector is absolutely no joke. The picture quality is fantastic. Even against just a white wall, the image quality is outstanding. It’s not a 4K projector and I honestly don’t need that as an HD DLP projection is stunning. If you’re in the market for a proejctor, this one is well worth considering. You can see though, even in these images, that a reflective white surface of a screen is going to help the images pop, so while I do love that I actually have the option of watching something in bed, the image can get better.
So last night, after dinner, it was time to test it out! First thing was figuring out how to assemble the screen’s frame – and come to the realization that a 4 foot depth was a lie. This thing easily has a 6 foot depth, which is bigger than expected. (Thank god for Nicki btw, as I was buzzed enough and the directions and darkness were enough for me to give up, but she persisted, and yay for that!) My thought of having it in the nook of the roofdeck was not going to work. But I saw how big the triangle was of the support frame and saw it could easily fit around the deck umbrella support, and holy shit, it was perfect. The deck furniture worked facing that way, the distance was perfect, and if the neighbors wanted to watch a movie with us, they totally could (and they did, honestly. I could hear them looking which was awesome). I was trying to get the Bose speaker hooked up to be the sound, but I just couldn’t. It was dark, i was somewhat buzzed, and the projector’s speakers were fine, which is kind of awesome.
We could have watched any new movie, but I didn’t want to. I wanted to watch a Larry favorite in his memory, and so I chose Back to the Future. Let me tell you, watching that on that fucking 100 inch screen was AMAZING. Like, I do not need to go a movie theater again. The sound up there is obviously the lacking part, but honestly, it didn’t suck either. And the picture was huge, and it was crystal clear. It was magical. i’m excited to watch other favorites this summer as at night, even if it’s been 100 degrees during the day, that makes for really comfortable evenings. That was kind of a motivation for me to just get the projector too – to take advantage of the good weather.
Blurry pic of the screen successfully set up
and holy shit – this is incredible – 100 inches diagonal projection
But the projector has good enough sound, so we began the movie!
It’s amazing how big this screen feels – like you’re at the movies
Geez that was a lot of pictures and stuff. But honestly, it was an epic day. I’m glad to have had the detours back to 2019 as I remember those moments fondly and vividly.
This morning, Nicki and I had breakfast and watched the Hulu movie Palm Springs with Andy Samberg and Cristin Millioti and wow, what a fantastic movie. Groundhog Day style plot but a really entertaining twist on it with great comedic performances.
And that’s that – time to relax and enjoy the rest of this Sunday afternoon. I hope to talk with my mom a little, drink some more, and consider setting up the roofdeck cinema again for something like The Empire Strikes Back, which I heard was the number one movie in America this weekend as the only things counting towards box office gross are drive-in movies!!! WHAT THE FUCK WORLD IS THIS.
No doubt that this is a really hard time. For me, for sure, but for everyone. But yeah, I’ll say I’ve got a bit of an extra heaping of bullshit that can overwhelm me at times. I had a bad Wednesday. It was not good. My friends helped me out of it. I would like to say I’ll avoid getting into that mindset again, and I’ll certainly try – but that kind of feeling kind of is just hard to avoid 100% of the time. Anyway, I guess that’s enough to let you know that I’m trying my best to keep going and I can do so because of my friends and certain parts of family. Enough said I guess there. I’m just going to post some fun pictures and tell some stories briefly about good things that have been going on, fun stuff I’ve been watching or playing, howza bout that?
Crossrope: I added jumping rope to my exercise activities. So in addition to my daily yoga (I’m up to 126 days straight! go me! Thanks Yoga with Adriene!) I now will either do some jump rope routine or I’ll do the Bodyboss band system. Hopefully that’ll help in the long run. I need the cardio and the strength training.
The Get Lean set – these jumpropes are awesome
Sad yet resilient
The jump ropes are really good and assist in making it easier. I had bought some junky Amazon rope and it was totally the wrong length and material. Anyway, here comes my swimsuit body, lolololol.
2 weekends ago (June 14), I met up with my PwC friends and coworkers out at Valley Village park in North Hollywood. We were nicely outdoors and socially distanced, and it was great to see people again. It was a really wonderful day, perfect weather, and we got to celebrate Mel’s engagement from the day before! It was the first time I’d been out to a social gathering of any kind since the lockdown. Crazy.
Mel and Viv
Showing her ring
While at the park above, Mel & Josh (her great fiance) brought a cool Bose portable speaker. I was jealous and bought one online right then and there as my roofdeck needs something and the Beats Pill that Larry had got so long ago back in Silver Lake as a way to get that AT&T phone extender is getting gross and totally dead. So, problem solved. I highly highly recommend it if you’re in the market. The sound is fantastic, bluetooth, etc.
Very exciting recently was Michancy came down last weekend (June 18-21)! I’ve missed her so much and it worked out for her to drive down and we indulged in drinking everything, watching all of Picard, playing Ticket to Ride, drinking more, inviting Nicki over for rooftop fun and games, cooking wonderful meals (filet mignon on Friday night, and spaghetti carbonara the next even though I had basically passed out after daydrinking, managed to wake up and motivate myself as I knew the ingredients were there and goddamn it came out good), playing Just Dance and burning off alcohol, and overall, just having a fantastic time with BFFs while the world continues it’s march to destruction. YAYYYYYYY.
Let the drinking begin
Out on the deck jamming to tunes and talking
Prep time for the filet mignon meal
Late night rooftop fun with drinks and convos
Game day with Ticket to Ride
After Michancy left on Sunday, I admit I think it was hard to come back down to reality and be alone again. Maybe that was why my Wednesday was so hard? Combination of reality check, my mom isn’t doing that great and keeps falling (I ended up buying a whole new bed after I had already bought her a whole new bed when moving her in March), and I really really miss Larry still. I’d give anything to have him be here to get through all this with – whether it’s the pandemic, the issues with mom, my resentment of a lot of my family, the political nightmare that is our presidency…any one of those things would be enough to justify my alcohol consumption, but all of them at once? And the fact i’m still grieving Larry and stuck alone for most of it? It’s hard. The good times pre- his final descent are what keep me smiling, but I can remember those last 3 months vividly and it wrecks me. What he went through and to witness it. It’s just fucking not fair and I fucking hate everything at times. Most times, really.
My friends talked me from the ledge Wednesday and on Thursday, as we had a nice zoom call and I can’t tell you how much I love them. We’ll get through this all together. I think Nicki probably recognized that maybe I might need some friendship and I recognize I do, so I invited her over this weekend to hang out, so we did. It was a fun day and a half – we hung out and enjoyed the roof deck yesterday and I introduced her to the game of Mastermind, which is an old favorite my mom and I used to play way back in the day. It’s a classic, and perfect for 2 players. Then we watched two seasons of Search Party and damn, that show is something else. It’s funny as hell and I love the characters, but it is a show that goes to some surprisingly dark places and there’s really no way it doesn’t continue to get darker. The 3rd season is out now, so I guess we’ll be able to catch up. We also watched a super fun movie on Netflix:
Eurovision, ABBA, Will Farrell, Rachel McAdams… hot Russian backup dancers and promises of even more great European songs? I was in long before this came out, but holy shit, the final product is fantastic. I really liked that it didn’t make fun of Eurovision – the original songs are like, really good. Anyway, Jaja Ding Dong!
For dinner last night, we made Larry’s arroz con pollo recipe and it really is just a stupendous dish and it was nice to make that, hopefully with Larry smiling in satisfaction somewhere out there.
I introduced Nicki to Mastermind
Nicki’s pic of me conquering Mastermind
We made Larry’s arroz con pollo recipe
What else have I been watching or doing?
Detroit: Become Human – I heard about this game by seeing a picture of this cute guy from it and because i apparently can’t help but be distracted by hot guys, I read into it. Saw a sale for it on Steam, bought it, and wow, I’ve been so entranced by the game. So much fun, and I find myself playing it far longer than I probably should some nights. It’s a cool story game about androids gaining sentience, and the androids are of course all attractive. Anyway, I Heart Connor forever and always.
Twin Peaks: The Return: I’ve raved about this plenty before, and it’s just so good getting to the end section The Return. Still hard to believe Larry & I went to Seattle and did a Twin Peaks day just after the conclusion of the show.
Control: A really cool videogame about the ultimate terrible office building filled with possessed-by-demons humans and you have the only way of defeating it. Trippy environments and a relatable protagonist help make this a really fun play. Occasional challenging to the point I have to walk away and think about it.
Anno 1800: This game is just gonna be an always-playing situation for a while. It’s so good and mesmerizing. I’m nowhere near done or at the endgame, which is what it’s all about.
Anyway, I guess that’s it. Maybe I’ll update more often – maybe that will help my emotional state.
It had been a long time coming, and honestly long overdue on our part to finally make that leap, but we did. We leapt. And 11 months later, we got married. It was amazing times, and we had our life together, and then cancer came and ended it. I can mostly ignore the end months nowadays, but those memories don’t truly go away. It was awful. It makes me cry when I do think about it. I’ll never not cry when I think about that.
But the times before that, engaged or not, won’t be forgotten. I’ve got pictures, blog posts, memories to help me remember those good times. Nothing was ever perfect and I won’t claim that here, but god damn, it really was just wonderful to have found someone who got me. I got him. When we needed space we figured out how to reduce getting on the other’s nerves. We helped each other live more full lives. It wrecks me to know I won’t ever see him again.
Larry’s birthday is tomorrow. A group of friends and family will be getting together on a call to celebrate. Not everyone will be there, and I completely understand. I’m not even sure how I feel about it – I want to see people but “celebrating” his birthday doesn’t sound right – he’s dead. I just want him back and for the last 2 years to be undone. It’s naive.
I am not in the same emotional state as I was earlier this year. I don’t know how to really describe it. I am used to being alone more than I was. I guess old habits die hard, as yeah, I have been alone before Larry so it comes back to you. The bed is all mine. All this room is mine to manage, and not share. Cooking meals is up to me. If I get lazy, I can order and Larry isn’t there to mock my laziness. No one is. It’s just me. The scar tissue is building up. The good memories fill me with melancholy, but don’t hurt as much as they used to. The bad memories rip me apart as I mentioned above just as much as when they were new. I guess it’ll be about managing how to deal with that going forward.
I loved him so much. I will always be so happy we had that time together. He was the best husband I could have asked for.
I found myself reminiscing about times pre-Larry – basically, Air Force times. I dove into looking at Azores memories – especially as I realized that my site links to those primitive HTML pages and small-res pictures still. Those pages were also written when I was under DADT so it felt good to actually write a little bit more with that added context gone. I’m going to keep diving into these older pictures and keep updating, but here are some recent ones I’ve posted – good times had by all!
So young! I then also was thinking about my San Antonio summer in 2001 right before I left, and the fact that I jumped out of a plane that summer! What a trip. I found the official video that I bought through the company as it’s like, who knows if I’m doing this again? Let’s get the video!
It doesn’t look like there’s a previous time I posted pictures and such from that time, and I guess when I get to it, I’ll do a proper post there and include this video again. But it was too good to pass up and not show immediately. Again, the youth of me back then, and I remember how much I hated how I looked then. People are always so stupid about how they look – just give yourself 20 years and you’ll realize how cute you were!
A random thing that I was entertained by – while I’ve been heavily playing the game Anno 1800 (as it is amazing and addictive), I also work in occasional playtime of The Division 2, which I’ve talked about before. So, there’s an expansion that puts you back in NYC, the site of TD1, but this time in the southern tip of Manhattan. Anyway, you can wander around Battery Park and the Castle Clinton area, and I was doing that in the game when all of a sudden it looked and felt very familiar. It’s not surprising, as the videogame makers did a really good job of recreating the city, but it was particularly jarring. Then I remembered – oh yeah, Larry and I had walked around this park one day in February 2009. I didn’t have a post about it but I did take pictures! And I remembered a particular picture and was like, can I find that angle again in this game? Yes, yes I can.
So here are the pictures from that day (Feb 15, 2009) so long ago – note I had just moved into the city so I was totally a local by then.
It was a nice day for that kind of a walk, and memorable. And then I played the game, and you can take in-game photos:
Contrast with this:Crazy, huh? Well, it’s not insane, but I just remember tripping out realizing I’d taken pictures right there!
I’ve been keeping sane by still doing yoga – in fact, this was Day 96 straight of Yoga w/ Adriene. I’m currently doing her 30-day Dedicate series, and I gotta say, it’s a lot more intense than the previous programs. I like it.
Devs: FANTASTIC. Very visual, very interesting, and highly compelling sci-fi that while the main premise is highly improbable, everything else around felt right at home in 2020.
The Clone Wars: Wrapped up my accelerated/targeted watch of this series and it was amazing. The story of Ahsoka is amazing. Obi Wan proves to be one of the more bad-ass Jedis, and I was here for it. Made parts of the follow-up series, Rebels, much more emotional.
What We Do in the Shadows: Season 2 is on fire, and it’s honestly one of the best comedies going. I love that crazy crew but every time Nadja speaks, I just laugh.
The Great: Another fucking amazing show, and while it may appear that it’s some kind of costume drama, oh boy you’d be wrong to overlook it. Loosely it’s the story of Catherine the Great while she’s still married to her husband, the Emperor Peter (not Peter the Great, who we all agree to hate as he was the subject of my Final Jeopardy question, agreed? HUZZAH!). It’s one of the funniest shows I’ve seen in quite a while, and the performances are all wonderful. You’ll love it.
Alright, this post had a lot of schizophrenia in it. That’s me lately. Up, down, all around. Stay safe.