For someone who honestly believes she has no social life here, I had a surprisingly fun-filled weekend. Saturday, I left the house at 7:45 a.m. (yeah, it was a little tough) and started the two-hour drive eastward to Tucson to visit my friend Sandy, who just wrapped up a school year at University of Arizona. But mid-way through the drive, I detoured to the city of Casa Grande for an awards luncheon given by AP. Every year, our bureau gives out awards for lots of different categories to our member newspapers who subscribe to our news service. I guess it's a good way to foster a cooperative relationship and pat all those Arizona newspapers, big and small, on the back. I went to the luncheon early to attend a seminar on reporting and another on photography. The entire affair was at the Francisco Grande Resort. It's a funny site in the middle of all this desert. Casa Grande looks like Gilroy but without agriculture. And here you have this resort. The first thing I saw when I pulled up was a guy with a visor and golf shorts standing by his car door serenely folding some business pants on a hanger -- to give you an idea of the crowd that hangs out there. Anyway, both seminar sessions were interesting, especially the photography one. Part of my job is to call the photo editors at every member paper and remind them to submit more stand-alone photos to our bureau; in other words, I'm an incessant nag. During the photography session, which was led by a western region photo editor, a photo editor from the Prescott Daily Courier raised his hand and said "I know you want us to submit more photos to AP. But it's really hard sometimes to find photos. And they--I mean that new gal there is always calling us." And that's when Matt, an AP staff photog and one of my co-workers, chimed in: "And she's sitting to your left." Lucky for the editor, he didn't come off sounding annoyed or anything and I know he wasn't insinuating anything. Still, it was funny to see him caught off guard.
At lunch, I got to sit next to my boss. All nine of us from AP shared a table with Senator Jon Kyl--the keynote speaker--and his wife Caryll. I got to shake both their hands and Mrs. Kyl thought we met before. She said I looked soooo familiar. I had to ignore an urge to make a comment about Asians looking alike. For those of you who have no idea who Kyl is, he is John McCain's junior-ranking partner-in-crime. They both made Time magazine's Top 10 list of America's best senators (neither of California's made it...wah). One of the Senate committees he serves on is the Senate Judiciary Committee which means he got to preside over all those fun Supreme Court Justice nomination hearings. He's a lot more conservative than McCain. I actually kind of like McCain. Alas, he was not a speaker. Oh, after Kyl left, his challenger in this year's election, Jim Pederson, came to speak. It's sad to see that long-winded answers is a quality that crosses party lines. The only highlight I took away from lunch was the salad (see picture below). So, of course, I took a picture. Boy, the pics in this blog must make me look like a pig.
Anyway, I finally made it to Tucson at 4:30 p.m. and spent the night. Sandy was kind enough to take me around for the rest of the weekend. I got a taste of two different neighborhoods through our meals. Saturday's dinner was at Feast, a yuppie but yummy restaurant. With colorful walls and gourmet imported goods on the shelf, it had a Dean & Deluca feel except plenty of places to sit down. Sunday brunch, we ate at Tooley's Cafe which feels like Santa Cruz but in the desert (see pic below). Rusty, antique furnishings, brick wall, flies buzzing around--which pretty much characterizes the entire Lost Barrio, the name for the block Tooley's is on. Except for the cafe, the rest of the block is full of funky, Southwest-theme antiques. But with my income, I could only afford brunch and a glass of prickly pear ice tea at Tooley's.
Oh, gee, this post is getting long and I haven't even touched on the nefarious activities. When I got home at 7:30 last night, the first thing my roommate Gaby told me was that somebody tried to steal her truck from the complex parking lot, making it the second time that's happened! Only this time, the two security guys here caught the criminal party. It was four Mexican American guys who live in the neighboring apartment building. Supposedly, they are sitting in jail right now. Honestly, can't be that hard for them to find a legitimate way of making money that doesn't involve stripping a car. For the first time ever, I bought a club for my car last week. I used not have to worry about that. What a shame. Oh, the other bad development is much more disturbing. When I left Saturday morning, I remember seeing a little dixie cup with milk that someone left on a pathway in our complex for the cats that run around. I thought someone was trying to be nice. And there were several of them scattered throughout the building. Well, last night, one of my neighbors who sits on the board of directors of the condo complex told me that in the last few days, they had seen a lot of cat vomit around the place. And this one resident has openly said he hates cats and will do anything to get rid of the strays who come around. So, everyone suspects he is the one who put those cups out except the cats are more likely drinking the Kool-Aid rather than milk. Someone is actually getting the milk analyzed to be sure. I really hope it's not true because that is just frickin' disturbing. And here's another great fact: I heard this guy is friends with a resident in our building who has a reputation for being racist. Gee, I think Melrose Place was less freakier. Anywho, for now on, I'll have my ears and eyes open for any suspicious objects or cups around the building.