California Adventures – The Rape Hotel

Hotel Lobby
Hotel Lobby

I have owed someone this story for a very long time. And because it’s been too long since this story happened and since I have written for that matter…here it is.

At the end of last year, I traveled to California for work with 3 fellow co-workers. During the trip planning process, my female co-worker took on the task of booking the hotels. She had been in the area before so I trusted her judgement and knowledge.

Unfortunately, I realized this may have been a mistake as we neared the hotel in Garden Grove on night two of the trip. As the GPS told us to head through a very sketchy neighborhood to find our destination, I knew we were in trouble. No way is a hotel we want to stay at located that close to a residential area.

We emerged from the neighborhood to find a seedy strip mall that housed what I can only imagine were rat infested restaurants serving questionable meat and laundromats that were probably fronting gun shops and drug houses. As I made sure our doors were locked, I got a text from my other coworker, Video Guy. They had beat us to the hotel and all the text said was “this hotel is shit.”

We pulled up to what appeared to be a busy hotel until I realized the cars parked in front were there for the “lounge” where you could find dinner AND karaoke. As we drove around to the side where the hotel guests parked, there were only 4 cars. As we parked and got out, Video Guy was standing out on his balcony. He yells down, “it smells like cat pee in here.” Awesome. I tell myself at least it’s only for one night.

We walk into a lobby that looks right out of the 1970s. The motif along with the no wheelchair accessibility makes me think no one responsible for hotel codes is keeping track of this place. This is not going to end well.

We check in and the front desk attendant tells us we are free to park in the basement. I look at my female coworker and tell her we are NOT parking in the basement. Not that the dark, empty parking lot will better, but at least someone might hear us scream.

I make my way to my perspective floor and as soon as the elevator doors open, the smell hits me. Video Guy was right, cat pee. I cover my mouth and nose with my jacketed arm as I make my way down what can only be described as a hallway from The Shining. The lights flicker as I walk by each one and there is tinkly elevator music playing. I think I make out the piano version of Britney Spears ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time.’

I find my room at the farthest end of the hall (of course) and brace myself as I open the door.

It smells a whole lot better inside. I walk in and wait for the door to swing shut behind me. But it doesn’t. I have to actually shove it shut and then press my entire body weight against it in order to get it to lock. This can’t be safe.

The room looks old and all the furniture has clearly been pieced together from various second hand stores. The dresser is a 1970s, heavy, wide, wood piece that has more drawers than anyone would ever need for a night in a hotel. And trust me no one is staying longer than a night at this hotel. Hell, at this point I may not make the night. There is a white dorm fridge with a white dorm microwave sitting on top. I have already received yet another text from Video Guy describing the terrible stench coming from his dorm fridge so I don’t even think about opening mine.

I am traveling with liquor (thank god) and I quickly make a drink while we figure out where we are going for dinner. We can’t possibly stay there and by the looks of the surrounding area, we need to drive far away for a safe meal.

I now receive yet another text from Video Guy telling me not to turn on my water. He has tried to wash his face, and the water emitting from the faucet smells like death. There is no way in hell I am showering.

We decide to find dinner on the DisneyLand lot. Because my two co-workers are male, they actually felt safe to park in the basement garage so we now venture back there. We take the elevator down and as the doors slide open, I’m pretty sure this is where I will die. We step out and see what I assume is a maintenance worker creeping in the corner. I’m convinced this is the end…but we keep our heads down and make it to the car.

During dinner, I discover that Bad Hotel Booker has left her patio door open in her room to air it out. The door has no screen or safety lock, it’s just open when it’s open. And yes, I understand that her room is on the third floor…but there are ladders and the hotel is tucked back in a dark corner. I can’t decide at this point how one grown woman can make so many bad decisions.

Dinner ends too soon, and we have to head back to the Rape Hotel. As we roll into the lobby (we chose to NOT tempt our fate with the basement parking) and walk past the “lounge,” I can hear what sounds like a lonely lounge singer. I just know it’s this middle-aged woman, dressed in this slinky, red, sequin dress, who comes out for Karaoke every Tuesday night. The lounge has to be empty by the look of the parking lot. But just as we pass the lounge door, it swings open and out slides two guys who HAVE to be mob. They both have 1970s leather jackets and and they smell of smoke and steak and loneliness. And I think, “ah, these are the killers who will take our lives.”

We all 6 get into the elevator together with the two mob guys standing in front of us. It’s a super awkward ride and Video Guy cracks a joke. The 4 of us laugh…The Mob does not. The elevator stops at the floor below ours and The Mob exits. But as they walk out of the elevator, Mob Guy #1 turns slowly and stares at us. And I think, “yep, he’ll be by later to kill me.”

I somehow convince myself to get in bed, but I sleep on top of the comforter and I leave the lights on. I have no idea how I fall asleep, but I do. But I’m up again before it’s even light out. Video Guy has fled the hotel an hour before that and is waiting – safely – at a near by coffee house.

As I wait to check out, I become convinced it’s the hotel I can never leave. But after a 5 minute wait someone finally shows up to check us out. I take my receipt and race out of the hotel as quickly as I can.

I get in the car, and I realize that the printer appeared to have crapped out while printing my receipt. I don’t actually have a receipt that says anything. As we pulled away I’m pretty sure the hotel disappeared into the past behind us and that I had stayed at a hotel that didn’t actually exist.

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inside the asylum walls

So ID-10023154this conversation just happened. I can not make this shit up:

Coworker 1: Do you want to hear an awesome story?

Coworker 2: Sure

Coworker1 : So I was out walking my dog yesterday and I looked down and I thought “is that money?” And it was! It was a $5.00 bill.

Coworker 2: Wow! (with what I can only assume was fake enthusiasm)

Coworker 1: But then, I lost it. It fell out of my pocket.

Coworker 2: Oh. Bummer! (with even more fake enthusiasm)

Coworker1: But then I was in my back yard watering (note: it was 18 degrees out yesterday) and I found it again!

Coworker 2: Whoaaa! (not sincere at all)

everything is awesome

If you have worked in an office long enough and been forced to listen to the same people talk day in and day out, you begin to notice words and phrases they use over and over. My current cube mate, Thing 1, likes to annoy me with the over use of the word awesome! And yes, it has an exclamation point every god damn time.

Most days I try to ignore the fact that if everything is awesome, then really nothing is awesome. But today during an interaction with IT guy, I started tallying how many times she used the word.

IT guy had apparently produced some report for her, and she thought it was so awesome! that I think she may have peed herself. She called two other people on the phone to come share in the amazement of the report. The celebration lasted for 10 minutes and during this time she said awesome! 11 times, used the phrase “so cool” 6 times and told IT guy it was perfect twice.

Somewhere in the middle, she suggested they high five and a GROUP high five ensued. I’m not positive tell but I’m pretty sure IT guy was thinking what the f**k?

My last thought on the matter before I plugged back in and tuned out was this…if she gets that excited over a report produced by IT, her head must explode every time she has sex.

kansas city’s boys in blue

By now, regardless of where you live or what baseball team you support, you know the Kansas City Royals did NOT win the World Series. You also probably know the story they created while chasing the ever elusive title. And you can’t help assume how bone crushing the loss of game 7 was to Kansas City, only one run down a with a player standing on third base for the tying run. But what you don’t know if you don’t live in Kansas City, is how this team transformed a city.

For 29 years, Kansas City existed as a town who, when it comes to baseball, was a town who only “remembered when.” For the older generations, we remembered 29 years ago when we had players like George Brett and Brett Saberhagen who produced a World Series win. Those younger than me lived in a land where they had only heard stories about how great it was to live in a town with a winning baseball franchise.

But this year changed everything. I’m the first to admit that I’m not a baseball fan. I find the sport boring, and I understand very little about the rules and philosophies of the game. Then we approached the end of the season, and we were actually still in the chase. And the city started to get excited. So did I. And then the Wild Card game happened. And suddenly a nation sat up and took notice.

The story is great…the wins, the sweeps, the records, the firsts. But what was even greater was what winning and playing great baseball did to the city. The city turned blue…figuratively and literally. Kids who were never excited about baseball suddenly realized what it all meant to love the game. Families spent more time together on couches and at games supporting this scruffy team who knew how to generate runs and ultimately wins. Neighborhoods congregated in driveways for watch parties. Non-baseball watchers, like me, were introduced to a new way of playing that made me sit up and ask questions. Companies released workers to watch the final game of the series the Royals swept to advance to the World Series.

I spent October in my kitchen, with my husband cheering for plays and players I didn’t even know about a year ago. I rushed home from work to squeeze in runs before games. I discovered what it meant to love the game and the players. And what it meant to win and lose as a city.

The World Series brought the nation into Kansas City, a town of great people who welcomed all fans with open arms and showed everyone what it meant to be a native of Kansas City. Our players gave away tickets to fans and drinks to the partiers. The fans gave their October to the players.

We always believed the Boys in Blue could win it all. And even when they fell short, 90 feet away from possibly winning it all, it didn’t matter. We got to watch baseball. In October. We got to see our players win…a lot. We got to see what playing with heart meant. And a whole new generation of kids discovered what it means to love baseball.

So to all those out there who still believe it’s all about the win…come to Kansas City sometime. We know what’s its like to win AND lose (a lot). And in the end …it’s all about the heart of the game.

Thanks to the Kansas City Royals for making this non-baseball fan’s October a great one.

america’s lost boys

Confession of the week: I am a closet Bachelorette watcher.  I don’t watch The Bachelor. Way too many crazies full of estrogen and alcohol for me. And I don’t really even routinely watch The Bachelorette.  But as this recent season started, I made the mistake of checking out the first episode and now I am hooked.
This time around though, it wasn’t just the draw of watching a group of very nice looking men lounge around or, better yet, run around half clothed. While watching the first episode, I realized the show has been on long enough now that the men courting this woman are the age group that fascinates and confuses me. And the house is full of them.
They are a generation of men who desperately want to fall in love. Want to have a great job so they can take care of THE girl. Want to drive a nice car…have kids. Did I mention fall in love?  But yet, none of them can figure out how the hell to do any of this.
The men on the show…and some men I actually know in real life…flounder around trying to figure out how to make a living.  Many still live at home even after finding a job because the economy sucks and just because you have a job doesn’t mean you can afford a place to live. They also seem to think they deserve lots of nice things regardless of how hard they work. But they accumulate these things too fast only to lose them in the end.  And, if they are at all like the men on The Bachelorette, they cry…. a lot.  Over anything and everything.
The thing they seem to be the worst at though is dating. Which is sad because they seem so desperate to find love. And I think some of them would make really great boyfriends and ultimately husbands. But I listen to the guys I know of this generation talk about what I refer to as dating and half the time they don’t even know what to call it. I hear phrases like hanging out, talking, snuggling, hooking up and texting, and I don’t even know what the  hell any of that means. So I’m pretty sure they don’t either…which is part of the problem. What ever happened to taking a girl out on an actual date?  And making your intentions known somewhere along the line? How do they expect to get anywhere with girls if they don’t have a plan?
It doesn’t help that somewhere along the way, they all stopped talking to anyone face to face.  Hell, some of these guys actually meet a girl, fall in love and break up within 3 weeks all through just texting.
And while this new generation of men in salmon capris who wear scarves with their t-shirts and groom more than I do confuse the hell out of me, I genuinely feel bad for them. Somewhere along the way, society changed and the “American Dream” became unattainable by no fault of their own. And in the end, very few enjoy the path of college, great job, nice car, big house, wife and kids.
So they wind up on reality tv shows or living in mom and dad’s basement or working two jobs they hate all while trying to figure out what the hell their “American  Dream” is supposed to look like.
America has created a generation of lost boys, and I hope they one day find what and who they are looking for.

suck it cancer

IMAG1544-1It’s 2:00 pm on Saturday afternoon, and I am just rolling out of bed. I’m moving pretty slow and my feet feel like I have walked for days…on rocks. Last night was a friend’s Relay for Life event, and I spent the night walking the Lee’s Summit High School track to honor and support all those who are battling cancer, those who won their fights and most importantly, those who lost their battles.

Before my friend was diagnosed, the only people I had known with cancer were grandparents.  And for whatever reason, it’s easier to wrap your head around older people getting sick. I suspect it’s also because I’ve quietly accepted the fact that we will all die of cancer. But when my friend, who is only a few years older than me, told us she had been diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t even know how to process that information. Suddenly, instead of it being someone old or someone who knows someone who knows someone, it was someone just like me. And it brought cancer front and center.

I didn’t know what to expect last night but figured as a runner I had the legs and stamina to offer some solid time on the track. What I fell into was an emotional and inspirational night.

I met the 4 girls who are part of my friend’s blended family. Ranging in age from 9-17, I cannot imagine wrangling that much estrogen all at once.But they are beautiful, caring girls who were all out there for the long haul to support my friend.

I learned more than I ever thought I would about the world of Minecraft courtesy of my friend’s completely wacky, energy filled little boy. He took a break from his hours of solo dancing midfield to read Minecraft game strategy to me. His energy has been deemed ADHD, but I believe he will use that energy to do something great one day.

I got the chance to meet and walk with a woman my friend has known since grade school.  She has spent the past few years dealing with her own medical and health challenges but, despite her struggles, she was my walking partner for three miles and provided great company and fantastic conversation. I was also honored to walk the laps of silence with her as the luminaries were lit. Thanks for the three miles!

I walked lap after lap behind an elderly man making his way around the track with a cane. Him and his family moved at a snail’s pace whenever he took the track, but he was out there walking for someone. In the middle of one lap, as me and my friend rounded the track behind him, he literally stopped and got down with his bad ass as he passed the DJ.  I later had a conversation with him as I helped him at the coffee stand and discovered he walked with the cane due to a stroke. His goal is to be off the cane by the end of the year. That was enough for me drag myself out of my chair for yet another lap.

I experienced the full moon that night which just so happened to be Friday the 13th. According to the husband, that won’t happen again for another 50 some odd years. I got to see it, big and yellow on the horizon and then watch it move across the sky the entire night. It was like a spotlight shining down on us, and it was fantastic.

My favorite part of the evening was getting to witness my friend’s husband systematically (and quite stealthily) break down and pack up their two areas without anyone even realizing what he was doing. I turned around at one point and three tables were just gone. The next time I turned around all the chairs were missing. And I had been standing there the whole time. He’s so efficient he packed half of my stuff into their car before I could even realize he had picked my stuff up. The highlight was when he broke their tent down around sleeping children. It was awesome.

It was a beautiful night to spend outside, with some amazing people donating my time to a great cause. When all was said and done, I walked 6 & ¼ miles. And yes, I was tired and exhausted and sore for the rest of the weekend. But I still have the breath in me to go and do something like that and have never had to fight and recover from such a horrible disease. So a little sore is no skin off my back.

Thanks Traci for letting me share in the evening. You are a far stronger woman than I am, and I am honored to call you my friend. I will gladly give you miles any day, any year!

mother’s day – outside the box

Today was Mother’s Day and as most of you know, I’m not a mom. At this point in my life, I am very aware that this is an anomaly and it took me years to be okay with that. As much as this is an anomaly though, the weird thing is I have actually wound  up with lots of women in my close circle of family and friends who, due too varying reasons and circumstances, also do not have children. So by all conventional rules, none of us were deemed worthy of celebration on a day like today.

However, the interesting thing about this group of women I know, myself included, is that we have actually found ourselves involved in caring for and helping raise other people’s children. We help raise spouses grandchildren and accept a spouses already grown children. We have fostered kids with parents struggling to rebuild and helped sisters and nieces raise their kids.  And we spend time being a much needed arm of support for a newly adopted kiddo. Those of us who never wanted kids or couldn’t have kids of our own have actually found that we were needed in other kids and families lives.  And oddly enough discovered that this may be exactly what we were meant to do.
So while many of us spent today celebrating and honoring all the mothers we know, we never once thought twice about not being part of that celebration. But while you can’t call us mothers, we have all willingly taken on the struggles of those in great need of a mother figure, figured out ways to help these kids grow and overcome their struggles and learned to become the mother figure to kids not technically ours.
So to all those non-mothers out there…Happy Being a Mother to Others’ Kids Day!