Month: August 2012

Day 1 – I Get Wet (a travel diary unlikely to be updated consistently)

Today’s short story:

Woken up by angry fire alarm.

Exhausted early by the fact that my hotel has no elevator.

Took double-decker bus tour – hopefully most touristy thing I’ll do.

Watched horses do royal things.

Found bar near hotel and got drunk with lovely family from Leeds.

And now, the rest of the story

Woke up this morning, nearly this afternoon, to the very blaring sounds of a fire alarm. I stood in my room for a whole minute, trying to get my bearings, listening to this alarm and never once thinking “wow, I’m glad this hotel is built to code and I won’t die to death in hot, fiery flames.”

Instead I was annoyed that it was so loud.

When was the last time a fire alarm meant a fire?

I can hear other lazy people who haven’t managed to leave their hotel by 11 a.m. opening their doors and wondering in a variety of languages if they really have to get out. And if so, if they really are forbidden from taking the lift. I can get by in French and Dutch, none of what I’m hearing is in those languages, but it doesn’t matter. Some things really are so universal that you don’t need words.

This alarm, like every other alarm, does not mean that there’s a fire.

My hotel room is odd. The reviews castigated it for being far too small. I don’t think it’s too small, I just think it’s odd. It’s definitely not big, but for a single traveler and a place that’s not a resort, I think it’s fine.

I mean, look at it. Who cares how small it is inside when it’s this adorable outside!

The lights don’t come on in the room until you put the key card into a slot on the wall illuminated by a tiny red light. It took me a few minutes too many to figure this out last night.

True enough, there’s not enough room between the sink and the tub, you have to turn sideways to get out. But that only comes into play a couple of times a day, so it’s not really a big deal.

The fact that there is no shower curtain is a bigger concern. Not because of the time spent in the shower, but rather because after the shower, the floor doesn’t dry instantly. As I wander back and forth and back and forth to brush teeth and hair, wash my hands again, wee one more time, etc., my feet remain wet and I’m too worried about upsetting the staff to wear shoes and make footprints in here.

I walk to the Tube. It’s less than five minutes away. My hotel is just off the Earl’s Court stop. Apparently, there’s a football stadium nearby.  My hotel is also in the middle of a rather ethnic neighborhood. While I appreciate the smells—lots of spice and lightness—I I haven’t run into too many pasty British faces or bouncy little accents. Am vaguely disappointed by this.

I’m overly proud of the fact that I choose the right train immediately. In New York once, I tried to get to Manhattan from Brooklyn. Ended up in Brighton Beach instead. This time, I go right to Piccadilly Circus. Later I will learn that a piccadilly is a fancy, fluffy necktie. I had no idea.

I don’t know why I choose Piccadilly Circus. It sounded familiar and like there might be a lot going on around there. There is. The main statue thing looks exactly like it does on TV and in movies and I don’t know why that surprises me. It also makes me feel bored for a moment. Thanks to a bunch of shows and films, I feel like I’ve been here before and the point of travel is to go where you haven’t and to see what you’ve never. So I start walking.

A few blocks later and I find a double-decker bus tour. It’s the one super touristy thing I plan on allowing myself to do. I stand in line for one, but am stalled by a group of old, fat Midwesterners who want to go to Madame Tussaud’s later. I wait for them to finish paying for like 15 minutes and give up. There’s another double-decker guy right behind them and he has no line.

Good on you, The Original Tour, for catering to my laziness!

On the bus, I feel like an adult because I am interested in the history. Nelson had one arm and when he died at sea, his body preserved in rum that sailors drank while his corpse was soaking in it. Tapping the admiral they call it. How shitty must it be on boats? The Thames stopped flowing once because there was too much poop in it. There’s a statue dedicated to the animals forced into the War Effort. Once upon a time, brides could wear whatever color they wanted and a white dress has nothing to do with purity. Queen Victoria just wore white so she could incorporate a piece of family lace. Now we’re all suck with it. “One for the road” originated in the public hanging days—during which more than 60,000 people were hanged to death. Men on their way to the gallows were paraded by pubs where the owners would give them beers. If the guys got lucky, they were too pissed to know what was happening by the time it happened.

I also realize I get real hard for Neo-Gothic architecture. I could stare at Parliament all day.

For realsies: I want this thing inside of me.

To say it started raining would be an understatment…I think. I live in Los Angeles where it never rains. So thought I was soaked to the bone, it was rather nice to feel it. I get to so seldomly.

Eventually, we all scurry off the top of the bus and hole up underneath. Between the rain, the advertisements painted on the windows and the breathy windows, we can’t see anything anymore. That doesn’t stop our tour guide, however, from continuing with his spiel. Which he must know better than he ever hoped to.

Behind me, some American woman asks if he’ll tell her where to get off to see Churchill’s underground rooms. He tells her it’s the next stop. She asks if he’ll remind her. He repeats himself. Good on you, tour guide.

I then realize what a difference one word can make. I have absolutely no interest in watching the Changing of the Guard. However, when our tour driver told us we would be passing the Changing of the Horse Guard I couldn’t have gotten off the bus fast enough.

I leave the bus a stop away from the Changing of the Horse Guard. I don’t have a camera or a phone that’s worth a damn, so I video it and almost get trampled. They don’t have ropes up that clear the way or send a friendly Brit on ahead to make a path, they just run out of the stables, and God help you if you’re in the way.

I stand there and watch not just the horses but the people running up to take pictures next to the horses. There’s a steady stream. One after another after another after another. Some smile big, some barely smile at all. Some touch the horse, some stand closer to the sign that says “warning, horse may bite or kick.” I feel sorry for the horses and their mounts. I’d hate to have that many strangers touching my tools of work while I was doing my job. Especially if my job was rooted in tradition and prestige and had now been turned into a tourist attraction. I wonder how I’d feel if production staff suddenly became trendy. What it would be like to have people running up to my cubicle one after another after another to have their picture taken. I’d train my keyboard to bite on command just to keep things moving along.

After the horses, I decide to look for a jacket and dry ground. I’m soaked through now. My jeans weigh a couple of pounds more than they did before and my knitted sweater is useless. I also want to photograph the rain, so it’s  a bit of a catch-22 which I remind myself to read again. I hole up in a souvenir store with a bunch of other Americans and look for a rain jacket. They don’t have any.

They do have, however, a Nigerian guy minding the door who tells me that if I come back, he’ll take me to some great places. I don’t actually know that he’s Nigerian, but I assume he is I’m apparently racist and he is extraordinarily assertive.

I get on the train and back to my odd hotel, which has not burned to the ground. I spend an hour drying off and talking to Lovely. I can’t decide if I wish he were here or if I’m glad that he’s not so I’m forced to be a big girl. I miss him. But I also miss myself and that’s what this trip is about—finding a bit of me again. (That’s what writers do every now and again, isn’t it?) I could have taken a week off of work and working on finding myself in Los Angeles; but I doubt it would be as effective.

Back home, I would have been in all the old habits, all the old haunts. I would have discovered nothing. Here, I’m forced to discover at least something. I don’t know anyone, I speak the language, but I’m not part of the culture. I have no responsibilities except to myself which is nice. I can’t be concerned about my cats or my artists at work or my friends. Admittedly, the first night of this felt strange. Even this morning was odd to realize that all I had on the agenda was to make myself happy. I’m getting used to it, though.

After Lovely and I log off, I take a shower and ruin the floor again, squeeze past the sink a few times and climb back down the stairs to head to this pub I saw my first night in. Couldn’t go to it then because things close down at midnight. This is maybe the worst thing about London. Midnight is too late to start an evening, surely, but it’s the perfect time to be in the middle of something. Why would a city so full of theater be so down on Act II?

A woman walks in who has just been to visit Jimmy Choo. They look American. Why would you waste time buying the same expensive shoes over here that you can back at home?

She nags her boyfriend and I hear that they are American. I’ve never been so aware of my accent before. In other countries, I don’t speak much, so I never have to deal with my accent directly. I also hear less English, so frankly, all voices collect into one vague din of noise that after a while disappears from my ears all together.

Here, I can talk to anyone and when I do, I sound aggressive and entitled.

There’s something vaguely 1990s about the style here. I kind of like it and wonder if I would be prettier if I lived in the UK. I can totally rock some side bangs.

It’s the first time I’ve been drunk overseas without someone to blame but myself. If I play my cards right, tomorrow will be the second time.

One of the best things about London: When you ordeer booze, they ask you if you want a Large or Small…as if they needed to! Cheers!


Where was the last place you travelled to? What did you find there? Let us know in the comments!

And If you’re in London, give us a shout! 


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A Smattering of Things I Should or Should Not Have Been Thinking During My First Couple’s Massage

The first time someone said to me: “Hey, have you tried one of those Chinese foot massage places,” my first response was “of course not because I don’t hire prostitutes.”

For some reason, when you put a culture name in front of a verb, it takes on a whole new meaning.

“Dancing” = okay, sure that sounds fine.
“Latin Dancing” = now I’m hot and bothered. And there’s a rose in my mouth.

But Chinese Foot Massage is about a billion times better than any prostitute could ever be. Unless that prosti threw in a CFM during whatever else s/he’s doing.

Here’s how it works: You sit in a room full of a dozen or so very large, very comfy recliners. Your pants legs are rolled up and your feet are dropped into a bucket of scalding hot water. You kind of want to scream, but you don’t want to look like a pussy about it. I mean, if that 80-lb Mandarin octogenarian next to you can handle it, so can you.

And you can.

After a few seconds, the herbs or magic or chlorine or whatever is in that water takes over and it just feels goooood.

While your toes are soaking, the nice masseuse starts the rub down. They rub your head, your face, your neck, your arms and your shoulders before pulling your feet out and starting up. They spend a lot of time down there and they must be doing something right because you start feeling like you really need to fart, but you don’t want to be a jerk about it.

Then you realize if that 80-lb Mandarin octogenarian next to you can let one slip, then you can too. So you wait for them to leave to get a towel and you do.

They come back, dry off your legs, turn you over and rub you down top to bottom again. And if you’re me, when they get to your bottom, there’s a tittering of Sino-Tibetan language and then some laughter. And that’s okay because it just feels so dang amazing.

The whole thing lasts just over and hour and costs $15.

Yes. $15. Let’s hear it for folks having been indoctrinated in factories.

I took my Lovely to my favorite local CFM place this weekend and noticed for the first time that among the recliners, there was also this curtained room.

“What happens in there?” I asked the host.

“Prostitutes,” I kinda wanted him to say for good measure. But he didn’t. Not even to humor me. Instead he said “oh, we focus more on your back and neck than the feet.”

I’d never gotten a massage behind a curtain and I had just finished a couple Irish Mules, so I thought this was a great idea. Lovely didn’t argue. So behind the curtain we went.

“Okay, take off your clothes,” the host said. “We’ll be back in a minute.”

Mind you, just on the other side of this thin sheet of linen were people. Strangers. Regular folk who were just there to get their feet rubbed and who had no idea that nude little me was going to be running around 2 feet from them.

You never know what’s behind the screen. It could be me.
Or Pauly D.
Either way, my apologies.

But I had just had a couple of Irish Mules, so I thought that was fine.

We disrobed, in walked a dude and a girl and they went to work. And so did my brain. I know that you’re supposed to “relax” during a massage or at some point in your life. But that’s just not how I do. Instead, I do like this:

  • Not sure how I feel about the heart-shaped face hole on this table. What if I had come here with a girlfriend?
  • Oh, good, I get a girl masseur and he gets a guy one.
  • Not that I’d be upset if he got a girl one. I’m not the jealous type.
  • Am I the jealous type?
  • Oh wow, she just climbed right on my back. That’s fine.
  • I wonder if that guy is standing on Lovely’s back?
  • Is it wrong that I don’t get jealous?
  • How much am I going to tip?
  • Why can’t I get the timer on my AC to work?
  • Maybe my cats will be fine if I don’t leave the AC on.
  • Why am I trying to kill my cats??
  • I wonder if my cats and his dog will get along.
  • I should really write something about the election.
  • Probably just gonna blog about this massage instead.
  • Is she still kneeling on my hamstrings?
  • And oh, is she stretching my Achilles’s tendon with her toes??
  • She has really dextrous toes.
  • Is he stretching Lovely’s Achilles’s tendon with his toes?
  • Does that make me jealous?
  • No really, I should write about the election. It’s nuts out there. “Legitimate rape, wtf?!”
  • Eh, a list piece’ll be fine.
  • Should I have booked a hotel in London by now?
  • I’m sure I’ll find something.
  • If I don’t find something, will I have to stay at a hostel?
  • If I stay at a hostel will I be robbed?
  • Oddly enough, Hostel 2 had a decent plot and really beautiful set design.
  • Why the eff did I watch Hostel 2??
  • I think I know someone who watched The Human Centipede. I’m at least doing better than whoever that was.
  • He and I are both nudey on these tables. Should I be feeling sexy right now?
  • Because wanting to fart is not sexy.
  • I think if I felt sexy right now, this would be come prostitutey.
  • Kinda wish I couldn’t feel her breathing on my face. Really like having my face touched though.
  • I love living by the Oreo code, but seriously, why are there never any ethnics here?
  • …I mean apart from all the Chinese people who work here.
  • Do other ethnic people just hate luxurious comfort?
  • Awww, Is he snoring?
  • Holy shit, I just thought snoring was cute. I’m in trouble!
  • I wish there was a way to sleep and also make out at the same time.
  • They could totally hack off my arms and legs right now and thanks to this warm towel on my face I’d have no idea it was coming.
  • I wonder if that would make it hurt less or more.
  • Pretty sure you’re not supposed to be thinking about getting hacked to bits during a massage.
  • …Or speaking to yourself in the third person.
  • No, c’mon, I can totally use this time to come up with some really cool, pithy piece about this ridiculous election.
  • Or just come up with a coupla jokes about prostitutes and call it a day.
  • Is it problematic that a couple of the songs I most like to belt were sung by prostitutes?
  • Probably no less problematic that the role I most want to play is a man’s role.
  • I wonder what else she does with her toes.

Spoiler alert: I was the only one of us who got climbed up on and toe’d.

I hope he’s jealous.


Is there CFM where you live? How do you not spend 100% of your time there if there is? If there’s not, how do you relax?

Let us know in the comments!

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Wherein I Write A Letter That Is Unlikely To Be Answered

Dear Dryer,

You had to go and do it again, didn’t you? Seriously, you couldn’t let it go just this once. You just had to make a point, exert your will, control this situation, get the last word in and piss me right the eff off.

These beautiful Mossimo pants, which were once a pleasant size 8 are now, despite my having dried them on your “delicate” setting, a stomach crunching size 4. Thanks, dryer! There’s not a Target on every corner. It’s gonna take me days to replace these. Days! Oh, what’s that?? I should just order something online so I don’t even have to leave my desk? Whatever. Ease of acquisition is not the point. What is the point is that you’re a dick.

You mess with Target clothes, you mess with the Mizrahi. And you don’t want to see the Mizrahi when he’s angry. PS: He’s always angry.

I see what’s going on. You want me to think that there’s something wrong with me. That my metabolism has suddenly stopped and that I didn’t deserve Friday’s donuts or today’s burritos. That marathon training and Zumba are lost on me. But you’re wrong, dryer, you’re wrong! This isn’t about my shortcomings, this is about your inability to communicate!

And seriously, wtf?! If this is what you do on “delicate,” what horrors do you inflict on people who dare to dry their clothes on the “regular” cycle? Is the latter setting there just in case people want a creative way to make doll and dog clothes? Or do you just want us all to hate ourselves and go bankrupt, one pair of now-too-tight slacks at a time?

You know, it’s this kind of passive-aggressive behaviour that keeps you all alone in that room with only Washing Machine to keep you company. Notice how everyone in the apartment complex only hangs out with you for a few seconds at a time? Yeah, it’s because you’re an asshole and we’re all just using you. There, I said it. I wanted to be nice, but I just can’t anymore.

Don’t think that you’ve won just because your assholery has caused those pants to be the last pair of my pants that fit. I’m still ahead of you! I have skirts, Dryer. Three of them. And 2 work-appropriate dresses. TWO! And I can wear these items with various scarves and jackets in such a way that my coworkers will have no idea that I’ve sported the same 5 articles of clothing every week for the last 6 months. They may occasionally have their suspicions, but only you and I will know the truth. And I, like the elephant you’d like me to believe that I am, will never forget your transgression.

Good memories and super adorable! Also they can crush you with their thoughts.

See if I waste my shiny 2012 quarters on you from now on. It’s rusty 1950s coins only from now on.

If you do find yourself with something to say, you know where to find me.


TheOreoExperience, AKA, The B in apartment 14 1/2

Yeah, Dryer, I know it doesn’t rhyme, okay?! Jeez get off my back!

For Mor-eo Oreo! Follow The Oreo Experience on Twitter (@oreoexperience)
Leave a comment here or at any of the above and let us know what you think!

Gabby Douglas: Pros and Cons

America’s new darling is presenting a very particular problem for Oreos.

How and if to support gymnast Gabby Douglas’s gold medal performances puts a self loathing of color in a tricky territory. It was the same conundrum faced in the 2008 election. On one hand, Barack Obama is the opposite of terrible fuckupedness. On the other hand…of COURSE you’re voting for the black guy. Typical. How do you be an Oreo when the dark horse isn’t the one that makes everyone uncomfortable, but seems to be the one that makes sense?

If you’re not sure if it’s in the Oreo code to join the GD bandwagon, that’s okay because frankly, neither are we. Check out these pros and cons and let us know what you decide.

PRO: By being up on current events and showing support for the little dynamo everyone loves, you’ll fit in at the office, yacht club or Ann Taylor Loft fire sale with ease

CON: Really? Out of allllll the athletes of COURSE you like the black one.

PRO: Gymnastics is a pretty anglotastic discipline to say you’re a fan of.

CON: True…but you can get paler. Dressage. Archery. Biathlon. Speed walking. You’re barely trying with this gymnastics BS.

PRO: By recognizing the historic significance of Gabby’s all-around gold medal, we might get one step closer to addressing the systematic issues that keep more young women like her from reaching their true potential.

CON: Look, there can only be so many Oreos. If we suddenly start making it okay for scores of black girls to garner national attention for something other than who their baby daddy be, then how are you going to stand out at the estate auction?

PRO: By helping spread the word about young Ms. Douglas, you may be helping a nation continue to heal from deep-seated historic wounds.

CON: Healing, schmealing! It’s the scars on the inside that really build–holy God, did you see that layout??! That was like poetry in motion. Literal poetry. I think sonnets came out of her leotard.

PRO: It’s a great chance in this charged political climate to come together as a nation in joyous support of someone who truly achieved the American Dream.

CON: Yeah, but c’mon! They’re Olympians for cryin’ out loud! All the athletes are awesome! Can’t you pick a white one? Gabby’s not the only one who–OHMYGOD! That was amazing! She’s like a gazelle and a wood nymph rolled into one unearthly being!!

PRO: She’s amazing.

CON: She’s amazing.

And she knows it. Clap your hands.

So choose wisely. Make the wrong decision and your face will melt off with embarrassment as people think you’re just another RBP. Make the right decision and you can keep the President of the Equestrian Society on your Christmas party invite list.


Are you watching the Olympics? How’s that going for you? Have you ever been to the Olympics? As a spectator or participant. If it’s the latter, what are you doing reading this blog? And are you available for endorsements? I’ll totes pay you to temporary tattoo this domain on your face. What’s the problem? It’s just a temporary tatt. It’ll come off in like a week.

For Mor-eo Oreo! Follow The Oreo Experience on Twitter (@oreoexperience)
Leave a comment here or at any of the above and let us know what you think!

Diary of a Mad White Black Woman: Name Changing

Dear Diary,

I’m sure you’ve read the news (being the sentient bundle of pages that you are) that the rapper formerly known as Snoop Dogg (sic) will now be going by the name Snoop Lion.


I guess it’s neat that he is both a cat and a dogg person.

I understand the temptation to change your name. Not only did I go by “Arden Rochelle,” “Diana,” “Allison” and “Sable” at various points during junior and high school, (Apologies Mrs. Livsey, Mr. Young, Mrs. Koepsel for making you indulge me), but I’ve also done it the legal way and not just the ‘surely-this-will-alleviate-some-of-my-unpopularity-oh-what-it-doesn’t-piss-it” route as well.

But Snoop’s decision reminds me of just one more reason why I can’t get on board with RBP music. Nothing wrong with choosing a nom de plume, just make sure that it makes sense.

Snoops aren’t even the best kind of dog.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are.

Nor are they any kind of lion.

Just for “fun” I decided to enter the dark world of rap for one terrifying moment (Don’t worry, I brought safety equipment: pepper spray, Olympic dressage pass, Quiche) and looked up what my rapper names might be. Suggestions included:

  • A Velvet
  • A Butter Love
  • Serious Mystique
  • Bootie A Cakes
  • A Blunt
  • A Missy A
  • W Tang (which I’m pretty sure is taken)

These names make no sense. And neither do others Flo-Rida is not a name, it’s a state that everyone forgets is Southern. Method Man sounds like the documentary that accompanies the DVD about how Dustin Hoffman gets into character. And Mike Jones is someone I once auditioned against for All-State band.

Oreo me just can’t help it. I like the good, solid names of people who make good, solid music: Wolfgang, Dick Hyman, Dweezil.

Also, thanks to a typo I just made, I realized: you can’t spell rape without “rap.” I’m not saying that correlation equals causation but whatever, words don’t lie. Unless they’re told by a liar.


What do you think of Snoop’s decision to dive into Reggae?

What other names do you go by? Why are you trying to hide from yourself (not that I oppose, just curious).

Let us know in the comments!

For Mor-eo Oreo! Follow The Oreo Experience on Twitter (@oreoexperience)
Leave a comment here or at any of the above and let us know what you think!