#21(8) reading: bongwater


Bongwater is Michael Hornburg’s first book, published in 1995. It tells the story of 3 twentysomethings in Portland. Courtney burned down the house she shared with David and ran away to New York. David had a crush on Jennifer and Jennifer ran away to New York to join Courtney. In the meantime, David met Mary and went on a road trip with her to visit his weed-growing friend Phil.

Nothing much else happens. Arguably David and Courtney are the main characters but they don’t meet up again till the end. Jennifer is the glue. Mary is somewhere in between. David crashes with two gay guys who steals Jennifer’s underwear. Courtney and Jennifer does a round of New York clubs and comes back to Portland.

The characters are cynical and innocent at the same time. They do drugs and each other. But no one judges. It just is. The end of the book doesn’t have resolution; instead there is the hint of a beginning.

I get confused between Gen X and Y. Of course I’m reading this book 15 years after it was published, and I think about those days in the early 1990s with nostalgia. Now I identify with them — not the drugs or alcohol or sex or partying, the sense that we are just observing and living our way through life.

Reviews are mixed. Some readers get it. Others find it boring and without plot. Even others dislike the prose. I liked it. It feels superficial, but is deeper than it appears. Was Mr Hornburg sending life lessons? No, of course not. It just is. I get the feeling that there’s a large autobiographical element in the book. Nothing wrong with it. It just is.

sleep the other way


Lately I’ve taken to sleeping upside down, with my head at the foot of the bed and my feet propped up on the foot cushion and my normal pillow. I feel much better, and can sleep better in this position. No idea why. May be psychological.

I either sleep all over the bed, ending up diagonal and occupying the whole bed; or I cocoon myself in a nest of pillows and not move. The only other extended period of sleeping the head-at-foot way round was many years ago when mm and i first got together and she had to go away for a few weeks and I was missing her lots. It made me feel better then too.

[This is an inflatable nappak. Not that it’s relevant, I just thought…well, I just did.]

smart coach marathon training


I’m using the very simple smartcoach program at rw.com for my marathon training. You enter a recent race time, desired training intensity and long run day. It then gives you a schedule that brings you up to race day, together with predicted time.

According to the plan I should have started last week, and had a 13km run on Saturday. Yeah right. All I did was the 8k on saturday and the 5k race on sunday. Missed today’s 5k easy run too. Sigh. Not good.

race to taste


5.0km 31.13min 6.28min/km

Race #5. Humana Race to Taste, as part of the Taste of Chicago event. I only registered on Tuesday when I realised I had time, and I needed a June race.

Packet pickup on the day was no problem. I pinned my number, gear checked and was out at the start line early. I knew I wasn’t going to have a fantastic race — 2+ weeks without running and the 8k I did yesterday caused some stiffness all over. I set out at a good pace, the first mile was just over 9min. But couldn’t keep it up. Fatigue, dehydration, heat and humidity got the better of me. Didn’t have any kick at the finish, I was panting by then.

The organisers set up a mobile sprinkler and it was much needed. I gobbled up a banana, half a bagel and downed lots of cups of water before I felt better. There were 3 free tickets to try out from 5 Taste stands, I had gazpacho, crab cake nugget and turkey sausage pizza. Stuck around for the raffle (didn’t win), got caught in the rain a little, was home at around10am. Placing:

  • overall: 630/1358
  • gender overall: 274/800
  • gender age group: 16/54

taste of chicago

mpchi100pizza mpchi106rainbow

I needed to pick up my running packet for tomorrow’s race, so I dragged my dad along to Taste. We took the 147 bus and was there in no time. I remember my own advice, of getting there at 11am when they start to avoid the crowds.

Couldn’t find the running crew to get the packet. I’ll get it before the race tomorrow. We explored all of the stalls, and took our pick of what looked interesting. Polish sausage, pierogi, catfish, turkey wings. I liked the sausage deep dish pizza from Lou’s, and we both had a huge rainbow cone to finish.

Tickets weren’t cheap. $8 for a strip of 12. Most normal sized portions were from 8-12 tickets, with sampler sizes 2-4 tickets. It was hot and I really wanted a beer, but at 9 or 10 tickets, that’s like $6. I waited till I got home.

flight karma

When I booked the flight, the return leg had me sitting in a middle seat. I wasn’t that bothered, I figured when I get to the airport I can ask for a better seat. Then when I did online check-in earlier today, I saw that I’d been re-allocated to an exit row aisle. Wow. Legroom. Nice.

I got to LGA very early. Took me almost 30mins to get a cab, and traffic was horrendous. Still managed okay. I remembered that once inside there wasn’t much to eat, so I had a five guys hamburger at the food court. It was the least uninteresting food. Nah, that’s not fair. Five Guys is interesting food. Their selling point is juicy burgers and good fries. I eschewed the fries, couldn’t face so many calories. But the burger was juicy. There were 2 patties and the juice ran all the way down my fingers. Free refill on the soft drinks, but that doesn’t mean a great deal cos we can’t bring it beyond security.

Flight was delayed a little. I got on early and was settling in to read before the seat-belt light came off. Then the passenger next to me got on and asked if I could swap with his wife, who was sitting 5 rows ahead in a window seat. Stupidly I gave up my legroom and agreed. It was okay, I’m comfortable in a window seat. I just hope this good deed comes back to me some day. I had to go to the bathroom when I got off, perfect timing my suitcase came out just when I strolled to the luggage carousel.

#67(6) new restaurant in new york


I went to nobu. I think I can stop writing now, the place speaks for itself. This one, nobu fifty seven, at 57th and Fifth, isn’t one of the michelin-starred locations, so I can’t claim that. I sat at the sushi bar, and had an impressive chef’s selection of sashimi and sushi which the chef made in front of me. Everything was fresh and savour-worthy.

Needing more, I ordered a king salmon nigiri, japanese uni sushi and a salmon skin roll. I would have tried the hot food but I was pretty full already. And mindful of my wallet. The bill, plus a sake, would feed me for 2 weeks. Heehee.

Was it worth the hype? The dishes were indeed good, but I’ve also had fish cheaper and equally fresh. I guess you’re going there for the brand and the location and all that. It’s a special meal type of place.

le relais de venise


Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote has one dish on its menu:

green salad with walnuts dressed with mustard vinaigrette followed by steak frites, served with a secret recipe sauce

The only decision to make is the heat of the steak and whether to order dessert. The setting is french bistro, and the wait staff write the steak order on the paper tablecloth (“R” for rare). I’d seen this restaurant in London, and once my day finished at a reasonable time I was looking for somewhere to eat. Could have gotten fast food, but at $24.95 it was reasonable.

The salad was nothing special, I ate all 3 pieces of bread that came with. The steak was served sliced, and split into 2 servings. The frites were a little too oily for my liking, but went well with the sauce and the mustard. I ordered a glass of corbieres with the meal.

It was okay to be dining alone. I brought my ereader, and noticed other business diners. Still early so I had a dessert of mont blanc. Ah, memories.

new york

Quiet day at work. Left at 3.30pm, stuck in horrendous traffic up the kennedy and finally reached ORD. Met up with mum and checked in for our flight to LGA. Me on business, she tagging along and then going to my aunt’s tomorrow.

I read on the flight, it was a good book, hard to put down. By the time we checked into the hotel it was almost midnight. I’m less anxious about this trip now. Things have changed since yesterday.

field museum


Today’s itinerary was to meet up with my great-aunt and her family to go to the field museum. I hadn’t seen my cousin patrick in many years, and my great-aunt for a couple of years. They live in toronto and are in chicago for my cousin’s work convention. Their whole family drove down. Their 2 kids are so cute and well behaved.


I’m not so much a museum person, but I loved the field museum. The most famous exhibit, Sue the T-Rex, was right up there in the entrance hall. The other exhibits were impressive too, especially the evolving earth and nature walk. Unlike some museums where the exhibits were in a glass cabinet and that’s it, the layout here was interesting and informative. The kids got tired so we left before going to all the exhibits. Well, that means a return visit is necessary.

They went back to their hotel to rest, and we came home. Met up for dinner at ed debevic’s, a fifties type of diner place. The waiter was fake rude, and it was kinda fun. We shared a full rack of ribs, roast turkey plate and dinner salad and there was plenty left over. We treated my great-aunt and her family for dinner, it was a pleasure to spend the day with them.

food shopping kind of day


This morning we went to the farmer’s market at lincoln park. Aside from small wet patches there were no signs of the heavy thunderstorm last night. Bought mushrooms and mom bought some handmade nougat.

Lunch at corcoran’s opposite fleet feet piper’s alley. I had a bbq southwestern chicken salad, mum had caesar salad with steak and papa had turkey burger. Sat outside in the sun, again no sign of the thunderstorm just last night.

Took me a while, but I finally got them to whole foods. This is the huge one at north & clybourn. And wow. Big. We were very controlled, didn’t buy too many — beer, cereal bar, carrot juice, mustard.

Early father’s day dinner at home. I opened a bottle of wine. Took them out to the lake and watched the sunset. It was the first time I’d sat over there at foster beach watching the sunset.

thunderstorm, costco

So we were going about our business on a friday afternoon looking forward to the weekend. And then 3.30pm building management told us of a severe weather advisory that strong thunderstorms were approaching. It was still sunny and dry outside.

Parents were coming downtown so I called them to tell them to call me once they get to our meeting point. I would then come out immediately. We were meeting at Sears Tower. The rain started to come when I met them at 4pm and we were soaked by the time we got to the car. Traffic down the Ryan was slow, 10-15mph all the way down. Windy and raining, but we were safe in the car. Turns out we were lucky, the storm ripped out some windows at Sears Tower shortly after we left the area. Phew.

By the time we got to Car’s house it’d died down somewhat. But they had a power outage. So we went to costco first. Mum was like an excited kid, wanting to buy lots of stuff. Papa too, was intrigued by some fabulous looking alaskan king crab legs. We got those, plus scallops, wild salmon, boxes upon boxes of cereal, cereal bars and other stuff. My boot was stuffed.

Also stuffed in person. Car’s mom fed us homemade spaghetti meatballs. It was such a nice meal. We had to leave in a hurry when the storm returned.



Took my parents out around town. Millennium park, the bean, bp bridge. So happy to see them excited and interested, Mum was taking pictures all the time. Quick and simple lunch at corner bakery then walked up towards Michigan. Decided against the boat cruises and took some time exploring the rocks at the Tribune Tower.

By then we were all tired so we retired to a café place in one of the malls with juice and smoothies and sat till we felt better. May be a little too long cos when we came out it started pouring. Got a bit wet waiting for the bus but it was okay once we went back to the car.

I’m so happy they are here.

action packed day

Managed to cram a lot into one day. First thing, did laundry and bedsheet laundry. The downstairs neighbour was having a party so there was a lot of in and out activity. I decided not to use the dryer, just my drying racks.

Ran 10.5km (6.5miles) down the lake and back up. Pretty good run. Quick lunch of noodles and I was out the door at 1pm on my way to the airport to pick up my parents. Yay!!! They’re here to visit me. Long wait. Their flight landed around 2.40pm and it took them till almost 5pm to get out. I was getting worried…although I could see it was wicked busy and people from their flight was trickling out. Turned out there was a huge queue at immigration. I feel sorry for people needing to transit. We managed to squeeze their suitcases into my little car and we were home.

The midsommarfest was on so we walked over for a looksee. Had street food — sausages, sliders from hamburger mary’s and chocolate dipped cheesecake. Shopping at jewel and we were home. It’s so nice to have them here.

con sunday

The last day of the con. Sad. Too many good-byes. Next year seems such a long way away. Note, if I remember: bring some frangos for the silent auction. No need to pack a suit, there were lots of people in casual clothing. Bring the hilton honors card.

I was way early for the airport, even though I already got a bus later than the concierge suggested. Mortified to find that there is no admiral’s club at MCO (they want us to do more shopping), but balanced out by free wifi. Played with both the iphone and ipad till boarding. Flight was uneventful. I read amy dawson robertson’s book, which I couldn’t put down! Had to switch the reader off for landing, but I was reading it at the luggage carousel and when I got home. Ignored all my mafia wars and vampire wars requests to finish it in bed. It really was that good.

con saturday


The day began with the keynote speech with Lee Lynch. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. What an amazing, friendly, generous person, completely without pretension, treats everyone like a personal friend. The rousing standing ovation was well deserved.

Then it was time for the author auction. There were the expected — rachel’s and lynn’s outfits; kg lost her sandals. But there were a few unexpected turns too. I have pics, but I’m not going to post them. Not that they are particularly risque, just that out of respect for the authors’ regular lives, the auction is something that should be kept private. The only remaining note is that over $3000 was raised.

I had a short meeting after lunch, so missed some of the sessions. Skipped the last session to go running. I treated myself to an ice cream after running, but got into a bit of frustration. Ordered a double cup, 2 different flavours. Not sure if the server was new or what, she gave me 2 single cups and charged me like that. According to her nametag she is from estonia and looked so lost, I couldn’t be bothered to argue with her anymore.

Printed my boarding pass, and was on my way back to the room when I got sidetracked into hanging out at the bar. Ended up having 2 beers, in my crappy t-shirt and shorts. Heehee.

The main event this evening was the award and dance. My hat did its rounds again, and I took lots of pics. This one is of the Outsiders group winning the award for short story/collections. I think it’s iconic and captured a nice moment. All the awards were well deserved and I’m happy for all the winners. Afterwards was the dance. I pretty much stayed till the end, there was enough to keep me busy without going dancing.

Car and her mom drove back tonight, so I had the room to myself.

con friday


Attended today:

  • membership meeting
  • special speaker: karin, book soup
  • coffee chat with karen, dillon and georgia (that’s their shoes in the pic, no prizes for guessing which pair belongs to whom)
  • millennial generation with rachel

I skipped the last session, nothing interested me. Dinner with chef, rrrose, dk, lynn and dillon at benihana. It was good hibachi.

The evening’s entertainment was karaoke, which was supposed to be poolside. That got moved indoors due to afternoon thunderstorms. Of course by the time it started the rain had disappeared. I stayed long enough to be amazed at pennie and mercedes’ singing skills. But my main aim was to get in the pool. Did a little bit of swimming, had to stop cos of water in ears. Mostly stuck around and chatted with the small group that was there. Eventually we moved to the hot tub for a while. Was back in the room 10-ish.

con thursday

gcls10035romance gcls10054reading

Meetings attended today:

  • welcome meeting
  • engaging the reader with kenna white and tracey richardson
  • 7 steps to writing real people with kg
  • romance writers on romance, moderated by georgia with karin, rachel, jane vollbrecht, marianne martin
  • reading with karin, cheri, dalia, nann, moon, pol, nat and chef

Lunch was with chef and tracy, a new friend. I had a nice chicken and spinach salad. Dinner was with the bella crew, 24+ people at the house of blues. It was a lot of fun. A lot of overseas attendees, especially from the forum — aside from postie, there were new friends from norway, belgium, holland. I love having a forum and european bunch.

There was a break between the end of the day’s program and dinner, so I did laundry and went running on the treadmill. When I lived at PT, I loved the treadmill. Now it’s a chore.

meet and greet

The con began with the meet and greet this evening. Unlike last year, we had the whole of the ballroom annex. I was so excited to see so many old friends. It’s strange, last year was my first time and I knew no one. Was very shy. This year, I saw chef, screamed like a girl and she picked me up and twirled me around for a quarter circle. Shy no more.

I didn’t bring the big camera, but when the board president asked if I could help take pictures of the saturday award ceremony, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.

test track

Went to epcot today. Still amazing. I finally got the chance to go on the test track ride that I missed last year. It’s the perfect ride for people who like a little bit of excitement but don’t like rollercoasters. It’s a simulation of how car manufacturers test cars, so there’s hills, rough surface, braking and acceleration.

Afternoon we returned to the hotel to check into our room. Then it was back to epcot for late night opening. Walked through all the countries. Wanted to have dinner at canada, but it was full. We managed to get the last 3 seats in germany for the buffet. I had a whole litre of dark beer, i think i shocked people.