Food-Flirting

Out of the new people I’ve met in the past month and a half here, I’ve only maintained any form of a consistent friendship with one couple who live in my building. I met them a couple days before classes started, during a social event specifically for residents in my building. The girl is a graduate student in sociology, and the guy moved here with her.

One interesting thing about my university (I don’t know if it’s true elsewhere) is that they have housing for couples, even when only one person in the couple is a student. It’s a nice deal. I also found out during that social event that the vast majority of apartments in my building were for couples, which could explain the initial setup of my apartment having only one queen-sized bed.

Anyway, beyond a few Facebook messages every couple days, I only see this couple of friends about once a week. We’ve been trying to go to dinner once a week, usually on Fridays or Saturdays. I think we’ve only missed one weekend so far, probably because I was in The City. As the couple are new to the city (moving here from way out of state), we try a new restaurant every week. In past weeks, we’ve done sushi, Japanese BBQ, and Greek.

This week (this was yesterday), we went to a local restaurant fairly close to campus. I suppose the food would be classified as “American,” but in an upscale way (like lamb and duck entrées instead of burgers). Actually, every restaurant we’ve tried is upscale, some more than others. The city surrounding Prestigious University is a very rich area, so all of the restaurants are pricier than if we were somewhere else. The portions are a bit smaller too.

My sociology friend loves dessert almost more than I do (and she doesn’t restrain herself the way I usually do), so we always get dessert after dinner. This time, we went to a Cold Stone Creamery that was in the same plaza as the American restaurant. As usual, I took a long time to decide what to get, so I ordered last.

I ordered a scoop of Oreo cream ice cream and a scoop of chocolate ice cream, mixed with cookie dough and chocolate shavings, all in a chocolate-dipped waffle bowl (I had never ordered one before). The guy behind the counter was friendly and talkative (and possibly a little high), so my friends and I reciprocated (we didn’t get high). Before putting my ice cream into the waffle bowl, the guy mentioned that he would make it “a little special” and added some chocolate syrup to the bowl. When he rung me up, he didn’t charge me for both the chocolate syrup and the waffle bowl. I was appreciative, so I put a couple dollars in the tip jar.

Once my friends and I sat down to eat (and for me to take a picture of my huge dessert), my sociology friend leaned in and told me that the guy behind the counter was “totally food-flirting” with me. I was, of course, completely oblivious to it, but the free chocolate syrup and waffle bowl were strong evidence. My two friends didn’t get any discount for anything.

I never officially “came out” to my new friends, but I’ve made small comments in passing to subtly hint that I’m gay. Our exchange about the guy food-flirting with me confirmed that they got the message. I’m at an age now when my sexuality really shouldn’t be an issue anymore. I didn’t make a big deal out of it, and neither did they. It was perfect, and it was exactly what I wanted. I really feel more grown up now, and it’s wonderful. Well, I’m not completely grown up, since I clearly can’t read flirting cues.

My friends and I sat at Cold Stone until it closed. We were the last customers to leave. When we left and were walking past the front window, I noticed that the guy behind the counter was watching me (not in a creepy way). I looked at him and smiled as I walked away.

It was a great evening.

Frosted Cupcakes And New Clothes

This week’s theme is self image.

While my grandfather stayed with my family for the last month (he went back to my uncle’s place last weekend), I ate more health consciously than usual. I also walked with my mom and him every day, so I got the semblance of exercise. Over the month, I lost about five pounds. Even though five pounds may not be very much (it might not be statistically significant), I felt good when I stepped on the scale.

I spent last weekend in Irvine with my sister. On Saturday morning, I went with my sister to her boogie boxing class. Boogie boxing seems like a variation of cardio kickboxing. I haven’t done a rigorous workout like that in a long time, so the class was very intense. How exhausted and sweaty I was afterwards was a strong reminder of how out of shape I am.

That afternoon, my sister and I went to the Orange County (OC) Fair. Fairs are possibly the worst place to go if you’re trying to stay away from large portions and/or fried food. My sister and I split a mountain of chili cheese fries for dinner and funnel cake with soft serve ice cream on top for dessert. I was so disgusted by our meal that I fortunately declined eating chocolate covered bacon, deep fried Twinkies, deep fried Snickers, and deep fried butter.

The next day, my sister and I were deciding what fun activity to do together. We both have a sweet tooth, so we had the great idea to make cupcakes! We made red velvet and pumpkin spice cupcakes and topped them all with a super sweet cream cheese frosting. So good but so, so bad. Needless to say, I gained back the five pounds I had lost over the last month in just one weekend.

A couple days ago, I went to the mall with my high school friend with whom I recently reconnected (the one who got me addicted to Verbotene Liebe). This was the first time we had met since we graduated high school ten years ago, but it seemed like no time had passed.

I wasn’t planning on buying any clothes, but my friend insisted that I try on some shirts that I don’t normally wear. I’m generally a T-shirt and jeans guy. My T-shirts aren’t form-fitting, possibly from influence from my parents or from an old wardrobe with clothes from when I was heavier, but my friend saw my loose clothing as a sign of low self-esteem.

Possibly stemming from being heavier in the past and/or my lifelong confidence issues, I use clothes as a way to cover my body rather than to accentuate my shape. I’m definitely not fat (I have an average BMI), but I tend to obsess over the fatty areas I do have (especially after the crap I had over the weekend). At least, that’s what my friend thinks, and she’s probably right.

Anyway,  my friend kept stressing that I should think more highly of my looks. I ended up buying a few button down shirts (both short- and long-sleeved varieties) that I can wear with my current T-shirts as a way to add a little style and fit to my wardrobe. Her hope is that I will go to graduate school wearing my new clothes and attract cute preppy college boys. We’ll see.

I’m not entirely convinced that my new clothes are my style, but I do like them. I usually think “that would look good on someone else.” But who knows? Maybe a change in my perspective and they will look good on me too.

Best Pseudo-Date Ever

Continuing my streak of great weekends, I had a fantastic Saturday with one of my best friends from college. We set a date (I’m her perpetual pseudo-boyfriend) to have brunch, and I drove to her apartment in LA (we take turns driving to each other’s places for our dates).

After we had brunch at a cute local French bakery cafe, we didn’t really have any plans, so we walked around my friend’s neighborhood admiring all the fancy houses. I love house watching (I really don’t know the proper term for this). I imagine owning and living in some of the houses, sort of like a kid fantasizing about being an adult (not even “sort of,” that’s exactly what I’m doing).

Once we sufficiently walked off our brunch, we relaxed at my friend’s apartment (of which I’m so jealous) for a little while before deciding to go see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I’ve been waiting to see it, and I knew that my friend is a huge Harry Potter fan (and has been one since before it was cool to be), so it was a perfect time to go (I feel like using a lot of parenthetical phrases today). I thought the movie was great; it sets up the scene for the last two movies. I’m anxious to see them!

By the time the movie was over, it was already the early evening. We walked across the street from the theatre to a nice Italian bar/restaurant. At first I thought we were just stopping in for gelato, but we ended up spending the next three hours having a long, leisurely dinner in the restaurant’s outdoor patio area. We did the date thing all the way (well, except for, you know…): we split a carafe of sangria, a pizza appetizer, and a lasagna entree. We got our own orders of gelato (yum), though, since there was no way that splitting one order of gelato would have been enough dessert for us.

Instead of calling it a night after dinner, my friend and I spread out on her couch and watched Under The Tuscan Sun on DVD. I hadn’t seen the movie in a long time, and I forgot how good it is. I also never knew/realized that Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development), Kate Walsh (Grey’s Anatomy/Private Practice), and David Sutcliffe (Gilmore Girls) all made cameos! I love it when I learn new things about old movies (In putting in all those hyperlinks, I found out David Sutcliffe was also on Private Practice with Kate Walsh. Crazy!).

Considering that all we had originally planned was brunch, playing the day by ear ended up being a fantastic day! Best pseudo-date ever!

Big Bear Lake

After work on Friday, I drove nearly 150 miles to visit my best friend from elementary school at his house/cabin in Big Bear Lake (I mean the city; his house isn’t actually in the lake. English is funny sometimes.). The almost three-hour drive is twice as far as the farthest I had ever driven in one sitting before, and driving up a mountain is a little scarier than flat freeway driving, but I challenged myself (after debating all week) and drove it successfully! The drive wasn’t even as scary or as tiring as I thought it would be, but this is still a big step for me. I never would have even contemplated such a trip two years ago.

When I arrived at my friend’s house/cabin (it looks like a one-bedroom vacation home, I’m so jealous), my friend had dinner waiting for me! He’s a pretty good cook (cooking is one of his many hobbies), and he made slow-cooked ribs for me! Over the course of the weekend, he also made me waffles and homemade pizza! Healthy and economical.

Besides just visiting my friend, the other excuse for driving to Big Bear Lake this past weekend was to attend a chili cook-off put on for the city’s Old Miners’ Days. We went around to 25+ booths that each let us sample some of their amazing chili, and we got to vote for our favorite. I loved learning about the Gold Rush and California history back in elementary school, so this kind of event appealed to me. I don’t know what chili has to do with history, but joining in on a small town tradition is always fun. Also, I just love chili.

Of course, we also did some walking around the local shops and took in some views of the lake and the scenery. Basically, I had another amazing weekend (three weekends in a row of hanging out with my best friend from elementary school!). Spending a couple days in a secluded little town up in the mountains really felt like a mini-vacation. It’s so relaxing to escape reality, one weekend at a time.

Trifecta

A couple days ago, my big sister from work messaged me asking if I wanted to see Star Trek with her and her boyfriend. She wanted to see it on IMAX, but I pointed her to this blog about how most theatres that advertise IMAX do not actually offer the “real” IMAX experience (the “IMAX” screen that I went to on Sunday was also not the “real” kind, though that didn’t detract from loving the movie).

Even though I have talking/thinking about seeing Star Trek a second time in theatres, I actually hesitated before saying I would go again. Financially speaking, seeing the same movie twice in theatres is a waste of money, since buying the movie on DVD or Blu-ray is about the same price as two movie tickets (I’m channeling my parents). I don’t often turn down a chance to hang out with my big sister from work, though, so I eventually said yes anyway. We decided to see it at an ArcLight theatre, since ArcLight offers a higher quality movie-going experience over the ordinary movie theatre (they even have assigned seating!).

We met up for all-you-can-eat sushi before the movie. My big sister’s boyfriend ordered way too much food, but I’m never one to let good sushi go to waste (especially since they charge for leftovers). The high quality of the sushi reminded me of the all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants I frequented in graduate school, except that this one only offered nigiri (fish on rice) and maki (rolls) sushi and no sashimi (just fish). I ate way too much (more than my big sister’s boyfriend, and he’s a lot bigger than me), but it was amazing.

It was an awesome night. Great food, great friends, great movie. Trifecta!

As a final note, Star Trek was just as good if not better the second time. The emotional parts still got to me, even though I knew they would happen. One of my high school friends might see it again over the weekend; I wonder if three times is too many?

Star Trek

I had a great day today! I was originally going to attend a BBQ lunch at my big sister from work and her boyfriend’s apartment today, but it was pushed back to dinner. Since I had already made plans to see Star Trek in the evening, we decided to meet up for lunch anyway.

My big sister from work and her boyfriend have very refined tastes, so they always know the best places to eat. We ate at a small Japanese restaurant in Little Tokyo. Even though the restaurant is small, the line was very long; around 2pm, we still had to wait half an hour before we got a table. The wait was worth it, though. We each had a specialty ramen and pork bowl combination that was both delicious and enormous.

After lunch, we walked around some of the small shops in Little Tokyo. I love shopping. We eventually found a Yogurtland, so we had very yummy yogurt for dessert (that is much cheaper than Pinkberry). I was pretty full from the ramen and pork bowl, but who am I to refuse dessert?

By the time we headed back to my big sister from work and her boyfriend’s apartment, it was already almost time to meet up with my friends to see Star Trek on IMAX. I drove straight from the apartment to the movie theatre and met my friends in line (they had already bought my ticket to save the hassle). I was still full from lunch, so I ended up skipping dinner.

Star Trek was simply amazing. I’m still thinking about it. After I came home, I spent two hours reading about Star Trek on Wikipedia to compare and contrast the canon with the movie. This movie is definitely a fresh start for the franchise, and it might just turn me into a Trekkie.

Flowers And Dresses

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!

I bought my mom a dozen red roses. She was really surprised to get them. I don’t think she was expecting me to get her anything, and she said that she’s never received flowers besides when my siblings and I were born. She was so happy that she insisted on taking pictures.

My sister and her boyfriend visited us for a Mother’s Day lunch. My sister actually also bought my mom flowers, a small arrangement inside a cute mug-like vase that says “A mother’s love is never ending.” My mom was pretty stunned and happy that she received so many flowers on one day. My dad is definitely not the romantic type, so getting gifts always seems extra special to my mom.

We had lunch at a nearby Japanese BBQ restaurant. In addition to all-you-can-eat Japanese BBQ, there was a sushi and salad bar. The BBQ was really tasty, but the sushi bar was lacking (especially compared to some places I went to in Canada). They did have unagi (freshwater eel) rolls, though, which is a plus.

I tend to eat too much at all-you-can-eat BBQ restaurants, especially now that I can’t eat as much as I used to. I was full for most of the day (my whole family was). We walked around the mall a little bit, and even visited my Target for a short while.

After we returned home, my sister, her boyfriend, and I watched 27 Dresses on DVD. My mom declined to watch with us, though she came back in to watch the last 20 minutes or so, asking a lot of questions. I ended up being the only one to watch the whole movie, since both my sister and her boyfriend fell asleep on the couch! I really liked 27 Dresses. I’m a sucker for chick flicks, and Edward Burns and James Marsden are both very good looking.

My mom placed her flowers on a shelf next to our HDTV so that she could see them while she watches TV. She keeps telling me how beautiful her flowers are as I’m writing this post. I think she had a good Mother’s Day!