This was going to be a more interesting drive than the one down to L.A. For instance, soon after leaving, I encountered these freaky windmills!
They were so menacing!
RAWR. I should also note that I saw a pimped-out Bug being towed by a pickup truck. I don't even know. Also I saw a truck with these words emblazoned upon it:
NOT A SWEAR WORD
I used this long drive to listen to the CDs I'd bought from Amoeba. Laika, Laika, Lacuna Coil, Lovemakers, Lovemakers, Ladytron, and then finally some Bond because it seemed like good driving music. My Amoeba purchases varied in quality, except for the Lacuna Coil CD, which was awesome.
So the drive basically looked like this:
Wait, Sunil, you say, were you taking pictures while driving? Yes. Yes I was. Here, have another one.
When we got to the mountains, the roads got curvy and slow. I liked the straightaways because the speed limit was 75 mph! The curvy road was kind of scary because of all the big trucks on the inclines and declines. There was even a sort of "runaway zone" that led to a pile of gravel. I guess if you lost control you could veer into it? But there was only one of those that I saw, and what if you lost control after it! You were extra dangerous! Also, there were signs for Strong Winds and Rock Slide Areas, as if they were trying to freak me out.
I cheered when I reached sea level. Really. I did.
Long drives are fun because you keep seeing the same cars. I ended up behind a Consul of some sort, so I'm glad I didn't cause an international incident. Especially because we were both behind a car with a license plate reading I SUFFER.
I stopped for lunch in Yuma since...I figured I should stop in Yuma. Because of the movie. Even if it wasn't 3:10 yet. I had found a place on Yelp, Las Palapas, that again had no big sign so I drove past it and thought either Yelp or my GPS was lying to me until I looked closer. I order three tacos: shrimp, fish, and chicken.
The weather was nice, so I took a table outside. Where I was treated to this sight across the street.
There had been some sort of accident, but neither car looked that damaged, and no one looked hurt, so we didn't understand what all the hoopla was about. And by "we" I mean a grandmother/mother/daughter trio from British Columbia. The mother took a video because she was just so amused and confused by the situation. This is what Yuma is to me now. A town where cops have nothing better to do.
My tacos were once again only tortillas and meat (and sauce, at least), so I added cabbage and onions and salsa, and mmm tacos. Thanks again, Yelp!
I checked the time on my cell phone. 1:40. Damn, it was later than I thought! I went back to the car. When I turned it on, the clock said it was 12:40. Huh? What?
Oh shit. I had forgotten about the time change. I had lost an hour! So yeah, not so much with the getting into Tucson earlier than planned.
Zoom zoom! The other reason I chose to eat in Yuma was because it looked to be the last town for hundreds of miles.
Unless I wanted to eat a dust cloud—there were Dust Cloud signs too, just to freak me out—I was out of luck. I hoped that turning down the $2.61 gas wasn't a mistake. I thought I could make it to Tucson without needing to fill up. Probably.
Other signs I saw warned of upcoming Border Patrol checkpoints except I passed through two that were inactive. But then!
Wuh-oooooooh. They had dogs and everything!
"Are you a United States citizen?" asked the man in uniform.
"Yep!" I said.
...That was it. I could go. Driving, driving, driving, CACTI!
Driving, driving, driving, hey Painted Rocks! I wanted to see Painted Rocks! Okay not for eleven miles out of my way, motherfuckers.
Driving, driving, driving, okay maybe I should fill up just for peace of mind. There was a scary sign that told me the next exit was 60 miles away, so I exited at Gila Bend, where there was gas for...$2.79! Dammit! I should have filled up in Yuma!
As I pulled in, though, Lamb (duchessdogberry) called to see how I was doing. She had very good timing. She told me gas in Tucson was really cheap, so I only put in ten bucks' worth in Gila Bend, enough to get me to Tucson with no problem. She also warned me about the arrow lights in Tucson since they were backwards. They came after the green light, not before. I didn't see what was so confusing about that.
Driving, driving, driving, awww:
I kept running into this guy all day. Not literally. Although I almost did run into this old guy who turned onto the highway and...did not accelerate very much. DUDE I AM GOING EIGHTY MILES AN HOUR STEP ON THE FUCKING GAS.
Finally, I reached the Tucson area! I pulled into the Days Inn and Suites to check in. Lo and behold, behind the counter was...an Indian guy! There was no winkety-winking initially, but I came back later to comment on his being a fellow Patel. His name was Tejas, or TJ, and he was from Baroda.
My room really was a suite! A small suite, but still a suite! That was nice, for $26—thank you, Borders Rewards Perks. Of course, the damn floor lamp didn't work, so there was that, but still.
I called Cory (shpyum) to see what was up. She was hanging out at her friend Magda's place, and I was welcome to join them for dinner.
I set out for Magda's place. The Shell right by my hotel had gas for $2.47. Score! I tried to cross 22nd, but for some reason, no one in this city had ever heard of the law where you're supposed to let police cars and emergency vehicles go through. It was a green light, and this police car WITH A SIREN ON couldn't cross traffic because cars just kept on going through the green! What the fuck! As a result, he had to wait for his light to turn green and I ended up with my nose in the intersection.
And then later I encountered this weird crosswalk light. It was red, and then it was flashing red, and...I didn't know how to treat it. I treated it like a stop sign. There was no one there! I was confused. This was a strange town.
I found Magda's apartment and knocked. Cory answered, and I gave her a hug. She commented on my Hyperbole shirt and said she wanted one. I gave her her mix CD, Chill/Rock, which started out all mellow and then halfway through decided to rock out and be awesome. Magda's boyfriend, Dan, had just had a smoke, and Cory opened some windows to let the room air out, which I appreciated.
Magda was cooking, Cory was wrapping presents for her BFF Robin, and Dan was watching Family Guy, so I took the opportunity to take notes.
Cory walked over. "Are you liveblogging your road trip?" she asked. I wrote down what she had just said and showed it to her.
She was looking through various cookbooks. She came across a chapter called "How to Eat Pasta." Uh, isn't it pretty self-explanatory? Apparently you are supposed to eat pasta fast so it stays hot. And twirl it in your spoon. This was all according to Sophia Loren.
When I put my journal back into my backpack, Magda noticed the "Marvel" logo on some books and asked what they were. I pulled out the Daredevil. That anecdote didn't go anywhere, but it could have. I don't know whether she knew about Marvel or not. I did, however, eventually realize that she was Cory's fellow food blogger! This night was going to be all about cute food bloggers.
Dinner was brown rice penne pasta with sun-dried tomato pesto and Brussels sprouts, and it was very good! Sun-dried tomatoes are normally too sweet, but they worked in a pesto. And the Brussels sprouts were really good! I didn't know why people didn't like them. They tasted like...I don't know, they reminded me of...lettuce? Except with taste. I completely emptied my bowl and hoped there was more, but I didn't want to impose. Magda noticed and asked if I wanted more. "Yes, please?" Sadly, there were no more sprouts, but the pasta with pesto was also still good.
As Cory described it later, the meal was "vegan, gluten-free, and delicious!"
After dinner, the plan was to go to a coffee shop and play Apples to Apples. I called Lamb—or maybe I even texted her!—to tell her to meet us at the Safehouse. I took my own car, as Cory had to go and get the game. I arrived first.
The Safehouse appeared to be a local "cool" coffee shop. They had some rules posted on the wall.
Rule 1: There are many rules.
Rule 2: There are no rules, anything is possible.
Rule 3: No fondling of baristas.
Rule 4: No dating baristas.
Also, if you want to hang out, you must buy something. Everyone, every time! That was okay since I planned to buy something anyway.
Cory and Magda arrived and discovered, as I had, that there were no free tables, unless you counted Mrs. Pac-Man. But that wasn't big enough. Luckily, however, Cory knew people! She had gone to high school with...just about everyone in the coffee shop, it seemed. But there was one table that seemed to be full of current friends and possibly hijackable.
Lamb arrived! I had not seen her since Chicago 2006. She was not a hugger, but she knew I was, so she went ahead and gave me a hug. Aw. I handed her a present, which she unwrapped. It was Gremlins.
"My favorite Christmas movie ever!" she said.
"I know!" I said. Because I pay attention to things people say for gift-giving purposes!
She was so happy she gave me another hug. I also gave her her mix CD. In the vein of tcbumfhnemc, I did not provide her with a tracklist. That was her job.
But but oh, now I could put my evil plan into action! I introduced Cory to Lamb and Lamb to Cory. For, lo, Lamb was also a food blogger. Cory realized she had almost hit Lamb in the parking lot before remarking, "That girl is really cute."
With introductions made, I turned to buying a drink. I had my eye on a Spiked Coke but didn't really know what it was. Was it really a Coke with a shot of espresso? Because that sounded kind of terrible...but interesting? Ah, they could add any of these flavored syrups. Oh, let's go with Swiss chocolate almond! I gave the guy some cash and he gave me some change and I dropped the change in the tip jar.
And then he went back to make my Spiked Coke, only to discover that they were out of Coke. He should have checked that before letting me pay. First, he gave me a refund. But I couldn't get a refund on my tip! I asked what an Italian soda was, and he said it was basically the same thing except they used Sprite. He checked to make sure they had Sprite. An Italian soda was the same price, so I just handed him the money back, and boom. Swiss chocolate almond Sprite! It tasted like Sprite...with a hint of Swiss chocolate and almond.
We hijacked Cory's friends' table. It seemed that all of Cory's friends smoked, and, unfortunately, the Safehouse believed the sign should read SMOKING ON. This was a coffee shop, not a bar!
Cory broke out Apples to Apples, and we began playing. I, of course, told stories. My stories kept getting interrupted, however, so I wasn't sure whether people really enjoyed them, but after a few rounds, they got all excited for "Storytime with Sunil."
I was not the only person providing hilarity, however. Somehow, someone came up with the image of Yoda giving David Bowie a blow job. I don't remember how we got there, but now you can think about it too. Also, one girl's reaction to the Marie Antoinette card was "I hate that bitch!" Lamb told us about Marie Antoinette's boob cups with nipples.
One time the adjective was grotesque, and someone played mannequins. The guy whose turn it was said that, yeah, he guessed mannequins could be grotesque.
"Especially when they turn out to be Autons!" said Lamb. Haaa.
"Automatons?" said Cory because she still needs to watch Doctor Who.
I learned that Magda was from Poland, and she wasn't a native English speaker, which surprised me because I never would have guessed. I told her so.
After several games, Robin finally arrived. Robin was Cory's BFF whom she hadn't seen in a year, so she was very excited. Cory went upstairs to scope out a spot or something, and I said hi to Robin.
"I've heard a lot about you," she said.
"I've heard a lot about you," I responded.
"Funny how that works out, huh?" She liked my Hyperbole shirt and had one herself. The shirt she really wanted from Glarkware, though, was A Constant Source of Disappointment. Yes! So did I! To wear in front of our parents, right? Yes!
Cory came back and tried to introduce us to each other. Robin said, "I like his shirt, I have it, we're friends now."
Cory took Robin upstairs to give her many presents while the rest of us played Apples to Apples. I think my most raucous story starred Magda in a majestic adventure. She rode on Pegasus to Mt. Olympus, where she engaged in Big Game Hunting by killing sheep, which was not very vegan of her. From the sheep's wool, she made a sweater that show a plague of locusts. Then she ran into a Cyclops, and she ripped his eye out and made eyeball soup, which she ate with Gregory Peck. Gregory Peck and she mounted Pegasus and flew away, but they were attacked by flying squirrels! They were archers. So Magda asked Gregory Peck for a ride home. But when she opened the door to her apartment, she discovered the American Civil War.
After a while, I really couldn't take the smoke anymore, so I had to go. Robin asked me if I were going to help Cory move. I wasn't sure what my plans were. She'd get to see me again, that's why she was asking. Aha, well in that case, how could I pass up more time with the illustrious Robin?
I drove back. My car smelled like smoke, my jacket smelled like smoke, my clothes smelled like smoke. How do people stand it?
Daredevil didn't smell like smoke, though.
The continental breakfast at the Days Inn featured instant oatmeal, so I had some while reading DD. Cory was moving, and she accepted my offer to help, so I drove on over to her soon-to-be-old place. Robin was there, as promised, as were Cory's mom and Evan, a friend of Cory's who lived in San Francisco.
I stood around and waited for instructions, wanting to be of use. I had driven almost a thousand miles to help Cory move! Man, I am an awesome friend.
I cleared out my spacious trunk. "You weren't kidding!" exclaimed Robin. It was even bigger than Cory's trunk. We were able to fit a microwave, some plastic shelves, a vacuum, dresser drawers, and several wooden slats in the trunk and another drawer and some boxes in the backseat. Finally, buying a midsize car had paid off!
I did not forget Mrs. Potato Head. Cory's neighbor said she was very important to take, even though her damn nose kept falling off.
Robin left us to go get a massage. (It had been scheduled months in advance, so it wasn't her fault.) Cory and Evan and I caravanned to Cory's new place—at least after I stopped going the wrong way down a one-way street.
We began to unload. Cory's apartment was on the second damn foor. Carrying mattresses up the stairs was not fun. Carrying several drawers up the stairs was not fun. Carrying heavy boxes up the stairs was not fun. But we did not complain. "You're heroes," said Cory's mom.
The apartment was totally cute! It was a little studio but set up in an interesting fashion so that it kind of had a tiny bedroom and a tiny living room separated by a partial wall.
I unloaded some sort of closet on wheels, but it wouldn't move. I looked down and saw that there were little brakes, so I lifted them up and the closet began moving quite easily. Cory's mom noticed and remarked, "You're smart! What are you, an engineer?" I tried not to take it the wrong way.
After an hour or so of unloading, we rested in the apartment, hungry. Cory's mom asked Cory if she had money to buy Evan and me lunch. Aha! I knew there was a reason I was doing this. Besides friendship.
There were various lunch options, but we decided on Susie's, which had great sandwiches. Unfortunately, they only took cash, and she didn't have cash. Evan offered to pay. "As long as you pay him back," said Mom. She wasn't completely satisfied with this arrangement as it was. "You can't play the Pretty Card!"
"I'm not playing the Pretty Card!" said Cory. "I'm playing the Best Friend Card." Cory had multiple best friends.
Cory and her mom knew what they wanted, but I didn't know what the menu was like, so I went with Evan. Evan had grown up in Tucson, but now he lived in the Haight and worked in Palo Alto. It was Cory's evil plan for us to become friends.
We found Susie's right where Cory said it was. It was a small sandwich shop where the sandwiches were named for artists, and they all sounded quite tasty. I looked at the menu.
And could not believe what I was seeing.
You got a sandwich and chips and a brownie...for $5.95!
"Welcome to Tucson," said Evan.
I ordered a Van Gogh: smoked turkey, tomato, onion, sprouts, Jack cheese, and honey mustard. Evan placed our orders, and we sat at a table and waited. I caught a glimpse of someone else's sandwich. It looked huge! Tucson, man. We had passed some apartments on the way renting for $484 a month.
We took the sandwiches back to the apartment and ate on the floor. You guys, this is a sandwich from Susie's:
I THINK IT WAS THE BIGGEST SANDWICH I HAD EVER SEEN. And it was very tasty to boot. Cory couldn't believe I finished the whole thing.
After lunch, there was talk of going to Bookmans, so I texted Lamb and told her to meet us at Bookmans. But then I realized that going to Bookmans was not in the immediate plan, but the long-term plan. The immediate plan involved emptying Cory's car of her boxes and boxes and boxes of books. Books are heavy. But I certainly understood her desire to have them.
I didn't think there was an excessive amount of unloading to be done after we were done with the books, but I had to take my leave of them to meet Lamb. They'd meet up with me later anyway. I plugged Bookmans into my GPS and...only found one. And it wasn't the one on Speedway. I called Cory, and she gave me directions. I was going to have to play it old school! Luckily, all I had to do was go down Speedway, and there it was, eventually.
I found Lamb inside. "Nice shirt," she remarked for reasons that will become apparent in a few paragraphs.
Bookmans was huge. It was GINORMOUS. And full of used...everything! Books, CDs, DVDs, video games, computer manuals, magazines, and even board games! There were a lot of classic board games like Risk, Clue, Outburst, and the like, as well as...not so classic games like The Big Guy Game, where you pretended to be a radio announcer or something. Fun for the whole family! Oh oh oh, they even had Nightmare! The video board game with atmosfear! I was tempted by a card shuffler that was seven bucks, but Lamb claimed shuffling cards was easy.
And speaking of cards, I found a couple card games called, uh, ¡Sexo! ¡Gay! and ¡Sexo! ¡Lesbiano! As far as I could tell, they were cards with sex positions that you, er, played with your partner? And it was in Spanish. And they were a dollar each. I wished there were a ¡Sexo! ¡Heterosexual! to complete the set.
The used magazine section was neat. There were also some giant prints of magazine covers on the wall. "Hey, it's Gillian Anderson," I said.
"Where?" said Lamb. Then she realized what I had meant.
But wouldn't it have been great if she were actually there? I could be all, "Hey, I liked you in that show you were in."
Lamb thought she would really appreciate that. "What was it called again?"
"Something with files? Or manila folders? The Y-Manila Folders?"
"It's just like Fringe!" offered Lamb.
I didn't find great used CDs or movies, but I did find a boxed set of all five Leprechaun movies!
We gravitated toward the graphic novel section, which was right next to the anime section. They had various discs of various animes I liked, but not a complete set. The graphic novel section was not terribly fruitful either, although I came across a book called Corridor, by Sarnath Banerjee. Huh. It was a graphic novel by an Indian dude about Indian dudes! I did not know such things existed. Unfortunately, no one had any superpowers. It looked like a boring slice-of-life story. The more I flipped through it, the more I thought it would turn out to be pretentious and annoying and not something I'd like. I figured it would be some La Perdida shit. There were two copies, even. One was a library copy that still had the sleeve and card on the inside cover. It was six bucks, whereas the cleaner copy was seven bucks. Come on! If I actually bought it, I would choose the library copy! It was more fun.
Cory arrived. We had entertained ourselves for an hour or so, I think. It was easy to do in Bookmans. Which is where Cory worked! Which meant she could take us in the back, oooh. We saw thousands of unshelved books. Cory said a lot of great stuff never hit the floor, poached by staff. Hey, the job didn't pay that well, so there were perks. Cory showed us the Batman TV someone had brought in. It even had a Bat-remote! We all coveted it.
While Cory looked for stuff she needed to buy, I hit the children's section looking for the second Pseudonymous Bosch book, but instead I ran across a bunch of Bruce Coville! Oh, Bruce Coville. I picked up Goblins in the Castle, Book of Monsters, and Book of Nightmares. I remembered so many of those stories from when I was a kid! There were several more anthologies I didn't know existed, but they didn't sound familiar, so I just bought the books that had nostalgia value.
Also, I decided to pick up War and Sheep, a cute- and funny-sounding board game, for six bucks, as well as the Spanish sex cards. They were like coffee table books! Conversation pieces. I was amused that they rang up under "non-fiction."
Outside, I needed Cory to take a picture. Because I was wearing a shirt that Lamb had designed!
Only one other person on the planet even has this shirt! Although anyone could potentially buy it. They would be liars, however.
So, what was the plan? I had not made many concrete plans with anyone for this trip since it was more about the people I was seeing than the things I was doing. I wanted to do something Tucsonian, but it was too late to do some of the more touristy things. There was 4th Ave, however, whatever that was! Okay, let's do that. And because of parking issues, let's just take one car. And let's make that car be my car because I have to show it off to everyone.
First, I had to find it. I walked down the row I thought it was in. It wasn't there. Or the adjacent one. I knew I was on this side! But...where the hell was it? I hit the Panic button. Oh, it wasn't in one of the rows at all; it was right in front of the Radio Shack. Duh.
Cory guided me to 4th Ave. As we drove down it, I commented that it was just like the Haight. Hip bookstores, funky food places, tattoos/body piercing, smoke shops. Total hippie street.
Cory explained the abundance of tattoo parlors: "Tucson is an Air Force town."
I found parking pretty easily, and we walked down 4th Ave. Or up. Anyway. We stopped in Antigone Books, which Lamb liked because they had a nice gay section. They did! All these gay books I had never seen before. What they also had was a Klutz display:
Check it out, beeker121!
I came across a book called Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Ghosh. I started reading the blurb. It was the first in an epic trilogy—ooh, looks promising and different—about Indians and Westerners and jahaj-bhais. Goddammit! I ranted to Cory and Lamb, "Why are there no books by Indian authors not about Indians?? Where is my market?!" (I really have no reason to complain until I actually write anything worth publishing, but still. It's a thing.)
Continuing down 4th Ave, we stopped in Razorz Edge, a hip, Goth-y clothing store where Cory knew the owner but couldn't afford anything. We passed by Lindy's, which had been featured on Man vs. Food. I noticed some strange signs on some establishments:
I...thought that was generally understood? But no. In Tucson, it was legal to bring in firearms if they weren't specifically prohibited. Which made me afraid to go into any place that didn't have such a sign.
For dinner, Cory suggested we go to La Indita, especially they had potato tacos, and she saw Lamb's eyes light up at that. They were both
Cory and Lamb sat across from me in our booth. Like any Mexican restaurant, they gave us chips and salsa, but the salsa was ridiculously hot. And they were out of guacamole, so we couldn't order any to cool our tongues.
I noticed that our waitress did, indeed, have a tattoo. "Man," I said, "they should just call it Tattoo-son." Some groans. "Or Tattoo-ine."
Lamb shook her head. "Nooooo. You get negative points."
"It was just sitting there!" I cried.
Cory had intrigued me with her talk of the calabacitas Indian taco, so I got one, but since it was relatively cheap and I didn't think it would be too filling, I also ordered a chicken enchilada on the side.
The Indian taco was made with fluffy flybread. Calabacitas was squash, and it tasted like Indian food!
Cory and Lamb looked at me.
The other Indian food!! The taco was good, and the chicken enchilada was really good as well. "Good choice, Cory!"
It was chilly when we left. On our way back, we passed Antigone again, and I saw a Crazy Cat Lady action figure in the window display, so I had to go inside and get it for Capitulation. Next to it were the Jane Austen action figure, which a co-worker had gotten me, and the Rosie the Riveter action figure, which my boss had. "Good job, window display!" I said.
We also passed a parlor offering 2-for-1 piercings. "Buy one ear, get the other one free?" I said.
"Or one nipple."
"Maybe that would be one ball."
"One...under the lip?" Oh, that one, that one, Cory thought was gross. What did she have against the soul patch piercing?
Unfortunately, Cory was exhausted, so she wasn't up for any more evening activities. I dropped her off at her car in the Bookmans parking lot. Lamb was up for some fun, however, so I dropped her off at her car, and she told me to follow her to her apartment.
Except as soon as she turned out of the parking lot, the nearby intersection had a green light and cars began speeding down the road. When I was finally able to turn, I gunned down the road. I thought maybe she was waiting at the next intersection since I saw a car turn onto the road right in front of me, but it wasn't her. Where was she? Luckily, she had given me some of the early turns, so I turned on Broadway. I was still speeding, trying to catch up to her, wherever she was. It was kind of fun! It was like playing Grand Theft Auto. I finally caught up to her at a light and honked.
I followed her properly to her place in Armory Park. As we navigated her apartment complex, she asked me if I could pick which apartment was hers. Oh, could it be the one with Robins in the window and lambs at the doorstep?
Lamb also had a small studio, but it was a traditional studio that was one giant room. And a small kitchen. And a bathroom in the closet. What? Yeah.
Who better to break in my new used game called War and Sheep than Lamb! I opened the game and counted all the pieces to make sure they were there. Meanwhile, Lamb popped in her mix CD. She'd never used her DVD player to play a CD before.
All the pieces were there. I read the rules. Lamb was somewhat skeptical of this game's enjoyability, but she won twice in a row! Even though we kept playing wrong, discovering a new rule we had screwed up each time. Then Lamb killed herself just so I could win. It was actually a pretty fun game, and we did end up enjoying ourselves.
Then I broke out Pocket Rockets, which I won twice because Lamb wasn't good at picking up on any sort of changing rules. I did not try to play Fluxx with her.
We did have a lingering question about War and Sheep, however, and the rules didn't explain what would happen in this particular situation. So we turned to the Internet! As I suspected Board Game Geek had the answer. They also had a couple reviews. A very long review was pretty critical and gave the game a "marginal" rating, whereas a short review said it was fun. I liked it! Whatever!
Lamb let me borrow Untitled since I had loved Almost Famous.
Before I left for the night, I asked her to show me the TARDIS minifridge we had gotten her a couple years ago. She had posted a video of it in action, but I wanted to see it in person. Eeee! It was so cool and amusing!
Back at the hotel, I finished off Daredevil. Cory and Lamb gave DD no respect!
This morning, they were out of the maple and brown sugar oatmeal, so I had cinnamon and spice for the first time. It was not the same. But I also had toast and orange juice. So much fancier than a stale croissant!
I spent the morning posting about Daredevil and working. Yes, working! Drug Safety doesn't get holidays. Of course the only day we get an alert has to be a day I'm covering. Luckily, it didn't require any real work.
I called Cory. She was cleaning up and getting ready to go thrift shopping for a couch. Thrift shopping was big in Tucson because a lot of old people died there. Lamb was not doing anything. So I declared that Lamb and I would meet up at a comic book store and then join Cory on her thrift shopping expedition.
I had noticed that there was a comic book store right across 22nd, so I wanted to stop in there for a bit. I also noticed that the Shell station had raised its price to $2.51. Dammit!
Before hitting the comic book store, I had to go take a silly picture.
The University of Phoenix! In Tucson! Something wasn't right here.
Charlie's Comics was...lame. It was basically a floor full of longboxes, not very many new comics, not very many used trades (although he did have various used comics in "sets" so you could buy entire storylines in issue form, which was neat). There were some toys and shirts and a guy with long hair—Charlie?—who was not all that friendly or energetic. It was a totally bleh comic book store.
Lamb told me to meet her at Heroes and Villains, which already sounded better. And, hey, it was right by Susie's! As soon as I walked in, I liked it twenty times better. It was more of a fun comic book store with fun staff. A customer was talking about Avatar. I talked to a staff member about all the Green Lantern corps shirts. He showed me where the used trades were, and they were displayed on shelves, covers out! That was neat, and they had Ex Machina and Kabuki and Y and...wait! They were not half off! They were only 25% off! That was lame. I could get new trades for 25% off at my comic book store during sales, so nothing there was tempting.
But then I saw a table of trades that were 60% off! Now they were speaking my language. There was a bunch of She-Hulk, and while I was mildly interested in She-Hulk, I was not that interested. I found some Buffy comic anthologies, though: Tales of the Slayers and Tales of the Vampires. Written by the Mutant Enemy crowd! They looked fun, so I decided to pick them up. This was a nice store, and I could give them money. The guy at the counter said that they were really good, which I was glad to hear. He wasn't even a Buffy fan, but he read them as good vampire stories, and they worked on that vampire level. I appreciated his reassurance! And then he gave me a Hero buck. For every $10 I spent, I got $1 off a back issue (up to half price) or a "Hero item."
Just then, Lamb arrived, so I handed her the Hero buck, since I wouldn't be able to use it. We explored the store a bit. I gave it a thumbs up.
We met Cory at her apartment. Lamb followed me, and I did not leave her in the dust AHEM. Cory's apartment totally looked like an apartment already! She had unpacked her books and put them on bookshelves and set up her bed and some curtain dividers, and it already looked much more lived-in than it had the day before. I placed a lava lamp on top of the partial wall, being the tallest one in the room.
We piled into my car, and Cory was the GPS. We discussed Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison on the way, because we are geeks. By this time, I had become as confused by the backwards arrow lights as Lamb presumed I'd be. The arrow came after the green light! It was all wrong! What was not wrong was Cory's desire to have a dinner party with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley.
Everything was on Speedway today. The antique store we hit up first was out of Cory's price range. A place called ReRuns had no couch, but there was a shelf/TV stand for $7.50 that looked promising. The big thrift store in Tucson, however, was 1st Rate, 2nd Hand, and it was right off Speedway. We had to keep an eye out for it. There, we ran across this curious item:
WHAT THE FUCK, TUCSON? SANDWICH COMBOS FOR SIX DOLLARS AND SOFAS FOR TWENTY-FIVE?
There was nothing wrong with it! Lamb guessed someone had died on it. WHO CARES? Dude, if it were a haunted sofa...
Cory actually went with a cute loveseat she haggled down to $24.50.
After that success, it was time to celebrate with lunch at Oregano's, an Arizona chain that Cory promised was much better than Macayo's. Cory was surprised that it was so busy on a Wednesday afternoon. There was a fifteen- to twenty-minute wait, and even though I was terribly hungry, Cory said she had sometimes waited for hours for a table because it was just that good.
I took the opportunity for a photo op.
Cory and I were unexpectedly matching! She liked my Attack of Literacy! shirt, but Threadless shirts weren't really her style. Had she known I was wearing it, however, she would have worn her own literacy shirt.
And then Cory said something absolutely wonderful to Lamb: "We have to hang out again because I really like you." Yay!! I knew they would hit it off! I didn't know whether they were truly digging each other or just both in my proximity, but I was glad my plan to make my friends friends worked.
We got quite a large table for just the three of us. There was a lot of good stuff on the menu. They supposedly had good pizza, but I was having pizza the next day, so I was going for pasta. Cory recommended the Big Rig, which she said was the best pasta on the menu, nay, the world. Rigatoni in chipotle cream sauce. It did sound good. And I wanted to add a green salad because there was an interesting dressing I wanted to try. The list of dressings was "House (Homemade Italian) Caesar, Raspberry Vingrette [sic], Ranch, Chipotle Ranch, Blue Cheese, Honey Vinaigrette, Oriental & Gorgonzola Vinaigrette." Oriental and Gorgonzola Vinaigrette? Cool! I wanted that.
The waitress informed me that it was Gorgonzola Vinaigrette.
...THIS IS WHY YOU USE THE SERIAL COMMA PEOPLE.
Anyway, that still sounded good. Especially because the salad came with feta. The salad was really good. The tomatoes were ripe and juicy, and they were regular tomatoes, not cherry tomatoes. They were the best-tasting tomatoes I'd ever had in a salad.
Cory was all cool and ordered off-menu! There was a dish called Pasta Basta that was essentially a Mediterranean pasta, and while it was no longer on the menu, they still had all the ingredients for it, so the kitchen could easily whip it up for her. Coooooool.
The Big Rig was pretty tasty, though I'm not sure it changed my life. The bread was also good. EVERYTHING WAS GOOD. I want to go there again.
You want to know what Lamb ate? Well, she blogged about it! Check out that salad.
During lunch, I learned about organic veggie ketchup. I didn't realize ketchup wasn't vegetarian. Cory informed me that "natural flavors" usually meant beef stock. And Worcestershire sauce usually had anchovies.
"HIV?" I said.
Yes, Sunil, the sauce contains HIV. Learn to hear better!
Cory used veggie ketchup and veggie Worcestershire sauce to make veggie Thousand Island dressing for her veggie Reubens. They were an indulgence, but she loved them.
After lunch, we went back to Cory's apartment to pick up the Wii Fit she was going to sell at Bookmans, and then we went to Sunflower so Lamb could get avocados for chocolate pudding. Yes, you heard that right.
I was learning my way around Speedway a bit, so I got us to Bookmans easily, and I parked in the same spot in front of the Radio Shack. I knew I would like Corridor, but I figured rachelmanija might appreciate it, so I picked it up for her. Then I discovered some cool DVDs in the children's section! They had Batman and Mr. Freeze: Subzero and Batman: Mask of the Phantasm on one disc for eight bucks! Ooh. I picked that up. They also had a season of Justice League and the uncut Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker movie. Bookmans was awesome!
Then I discovered a shitload of Christopher Pike books for two bucks each! I grabbed a bunch. Plus a Ghost Squad book for $1.25. Cory and Lamb had to tear me away because we had to meet Robin at the thrift store to pick up the couch, and the checkout line was getting longer.
As we stood in line, I noticed that they were selling a Tales of the Black Freighter DVD. "With Gerard Butler," I said.
"Where??" said Lamb, suddenly interested. Then she felt sheepish. No pun intended.
I placed my haul on the counter. The girl rang me up and asked, "And you're a friend of Cory's?" I was indeed. As I walked away, I looked at the receipt, and she'd given me a 10% Friend of Cory discount! Nice!
I put my Bookmans bag in the car. In the car. I was being just like my parents on road trips! Whenever we went on road trips, we always bought a lot of stuff and packed it in the van. When you don't have to worry about fitting things in your suitcase, you didn't have to limit your spending. Man, road trips were dangerous. But fruitful! Look at all these awesome books and CDs and games I had now!
I explained my excitement about Christopher Pike, an excitement reinvigorated recently when I found out lodessa was a fan, as I backed out of the parking space...and almost hit someone. Luckily, Lamb and Cory were looking out for me and my car. And then when I turned onto the street, I almost hit someone again! What the fuck was wrong with me! I had checked the various directions cars could come from, but I did not account for people making left turns from way over there. She honked and apparently gave me a WTF look as she passed me.
I attempted not to kill us as we returned to 1st Rate, 2nd Hand and met Robin & Max. Robin also liked my shirt today and told Max about my Hyperbole shirt the other night. Max also had it. We carried the sofa into their SUV, and we all drove back to Cory's apartment without getting into any accidents. At least this time, I didn't sit behind a parked truck for thirty seconds, waiting for it to turn.
We carried the sofa up to the apartment. Robin helped with the heavy lifting since Max had a bad ankle. Cory's mom also had a bad ankle! It was like bad ankle day.
Behold, the inaugural slounge!
Cory had to get ready for a dinner party, so that was it for me and her, sadly. Hugs!
Lamb and I ran into Robin & Max in the parking lot, and we talked for a while about long drives and staying in hotels. I liked them.
At this point, I had accumulated so much merchandise that it made sense for me to move it from the backseat into the trunk. So I did that. I was going to follow Lamb back to her apartment, but I also wanted to fill up, so I told her I'd just meet her there and use the GPS. I went to Fry's, which they said was their Kroger, so it wasn't as sketchy as I thought. I filled up for $2.45. When the total was only $39.01, I was really confused.
The GPS directions took me down the familiar 4th Ave, which I hadn't realized was so close to Lamb's apartment. I parked on the street as I had the night before.
As I walked to the complex in the dark, I heard some voices behind me. One guy said something that sounded like, "Take a look at that cat." There were two guys. I thought they were going to jump me. Then the other guy said something like "When was it built?" so maybe they weren't discussing how best to beat me up and steal my stuff.
The gate to the complex was wide open, so I tried to find my way to the apartment on my own. I couldn't remember what floor Lamb was on. It wasn't the third floor, so I went down one...and ended up on the...two-and-a-halfth floor? This place was like a maze! I went down some stairs and found the right door and knocked.
The first order of business was the real reason I had to come to Tucson: I really wanted to eat Lamb's pudding.
...Not like that.
Lamb made chocolate pudding from avocados! Into a blender, she placed avocado, cacao powder, raw honey—WITH BEE PARTS WTF—and coconut oil.
And then she blended!
And then she blended some more!
And now it looked like pudding!
But did it taste like chocolate pudding? That was the question.
No. It did not taste like chocolate pudding. But it did also not taste like avocado! It tasted like chocolate, perhaps a little too bitter. Lamb's neighbor had said it was sort of like buttercream frosting, and yeah! It tasted like frosting! Except I don't really like frosting, so I couldn't eat all of it.
Neither of us was very hungry after our big lunch, so Lamb asked if I wanted to see downtown. Sure!
We started by checking out Shot in the Dark cafe, which is where Lamb was frequently online. In the back they had an old-timey fridge...full of board games! Just like that cafe in Phoenix that had board games. Was this an Arizona thing? Why don't more cafes and coffee shops have board games?
Downtown was disturbingly dead. It was a Wednesday night, but still. It was practically deserted. We passed various stores like Hydra, which was literally a sister store to Razorz Edge. But it wasn't an actual sister store: apparently the owner's sister had decided to start a competitive store without asking anyone. How bitchy!
Lamb enjoyed the juxtaposition. SEEK THE UNIQUE! Because there is nothing more unique than Jimmy John's.
We passed the Fox Theater, where Gabriel Iglesias was going to be performing in January. I had been seeing signs and billboards everywhere and wishing I could see him, since I'd never seen him live.
"Yes, you have!" said Lamb.
"What, no I haven't!" I said. Had I?
Wait...I had! At Cobb's! And I had told him I loved his voices. I can't find any record of this on LJ, but I found one reference in a list of names in a Dragonfly post from 2008. That couldn't have been how she knew, could it have been? I thanked her for remembering my life better than I did.
We came upon the Tucson library, and it was open!! What, I get excited about libraries, shut up. Lamb wanted me to confirm that the little statues in front of the library were what she thought they were.
Commas! Or apostrophes.
Lamb had never been in the library before, so here was her chance. It seemed like a decent library. We checked out the graphic novel section and found it...lacking. Then I looked in the fantasy section and LOOK WHAT I FOUND!
Rosemary and Rue! In a library! I'd seen it in bookstores but never a library! Even the Oakland library didn't have it yet. Now it was in the system! It was totally a real book.
You may notice that there are two copies of Myrren's Gift there. I noticed that was a trend. There were a lot of copies of the same books on the shelves. It was like no one actually used the library.
I still wanted to know what was up with the graphic novel section. They had to have more than that. We went upstairs and checked the non-fiction stacks, but the 741.5 books were about how to make comics. Then I spotted the Teen Zone-type place, and I figured that's where they kept the comics. Aha! We had found them. Lamb observed that a lot of the books they had were the same books we had been looking at in Bookmans, like the King Lear manga that wasn't really a manga, just a black-and-white comic that wasn't drawn in a manga style at all, geez. She wondered if the library had given their surplus to Bookmans. Heh.
We continued walking through the deadness of downtown. Lamb said it was really sad when she walked out on a Saturday afternoon and there was no one out but homeless people. Poor Tucson!
Hey, wait, Tucson! Why do you have an Alameda St.? "Alameda?" I said. "That's our city!" And on the corner was the Transamerica Building. "Transamerica Building? That's our building!"
We passed Sharks Cafe, which had a No Firearms sign but had still had a shooting in the back. There was also a neat art gallery, but it was closed.
Right after I took this picture, the artist himself walked in.
Lamb took me into the historical Hotel Congress, where John Dillinger was arrested. It was where touring bands stayed when they played the Rialto Theatre. You know who was playing the Rialto Theatre next?
Or, as the marquee read, "Clusterfck."
Sonic Youth was playing after them, and Lamb showed me a cool Sonic Youth mural on the side of the theatre. They always painted a mural for the biggest band of the month, and it was sort of sad that the murals would keep getting painted over.
Chicago, the music store, was closed, but we could see the postings for upcoming shows and made fun of the names of metal bands.
Finally, on our way back, Lamb showed me the shoe on a pole.
It has been there for a while. No one knows why.
Back at Lamb's, we woke up her neighbor C to ask for food recommendations. She had heard about me! And I had heard about her. Funny how that works out. She suggested the Lovin' Spoonfuls, a vegan restaurant that Lamb was afraid to take me to, and Yoshimatsu, a Japanese restaurant with lots of kitschy decorations.
We still weren't hungry, but I wanted to watch Doctor Who with Lamb, so we put on "The Impossible Planet." I'd never watched the show on DVD before! "The Impossible Planet" is one of my favorite episodes since it's like a SciFi Channel Original Movie (but good). I kept a running tally and counted 4 "That's impossible"s and 1 "impossibly." And the DVDs included the previews! Sweet, I loved the BBC previews.
Since I hadn't seen the university, Lamb took me down there. University Blvd. looked just like the one in Phoenix; it was kind of uncanny. We could only drive a little way into the U of A before we had to turn around. For dinner, I had decided to brave the vegan place, so Lamb drove us to the Lovin' Spoonfuls...which had just closed at 9, as I had feared. So we went to our second choice, Yoshimatsu...which also closed at 9. Waaaah. Well, the first night Lamb had been in Tucson, she had eaten at the Guadalajara Grill, and she knew it didn't close at 9, so it seemed a good place to eat my last night in Tucson. Lamb punched it into her GPS, and a Jamaican pirate directed us to our destination.
Guadalajara's thing was they made your salsa at the table! Cool! I'd never seen that before.
The salsa was not very spicy, but it was tasty. The chips were stale, though. I ordered halibut enchiladas, which were pretty good. The fish was a bit fishy, but the cream sauce was good. Our dinner conversation involved Alan Moore and B:TAS.
We drove down 4th Ave on the way back, and it was hoppin', unlike downtown.
Back at the apartment, I had some more pudding for dessert. It was late, but I wanted to spend more time with Lamb, and I knew that when I got back to the hotel, I would stay up writing notes anyway, so instead I just wrote notes at Lamb's place while we watched "Love and Monsters."
Lamb walked me out to the gate. It was time for goodbye! "Oh, fine," she said and gave me a hug.
My last morning in Tucson began with a milk disaster: I tried to put a lid on a styrofoam cup of milk, and instead the cup collapsed and broke. Oops. I just wanted some milk to go with my donut! There was a Dunkin Donuts nearby, so I had to get a chocolate frosted donut for the road. I found it very difficult to eat while driving. But I managed it without too much of a mess.
I was now making my way home. But of course I wouldn't take the direct route. I had more people to see!