6.30.2009

Links

I love articles like this one about fireflies. I need to get a Science Times Greatest Hits book. Maybe I have a future in biology.

PostSecret France: because secrets in French sound better.

Showtune Tuesday: A Little Night Music

A Little Night Music is playing at Denver's Central City Opera, but I just learned that Central City is 40 miles west of Denver (and has a population of 515). How will I ever become a cartographer without knowing my geography??

(Alas, old links are broken.)

You can watch Stephen Sondheim discuss the song here.

6.29.2009

Scene

[Director's note: both lines should be screamed from opposite sides of a closed bathroom door, or the top and bottom of a set of stairs, or from inside and outside a house]

Bonnie: We need more paint: Pearlized White!

Doug: Burl Ives' wife?! What does Burl Ives' wife have to do with anything?

6.28.2009

Cross-Country Recap

JP and I left New Jersey on Wednesday, June 11. On very few road trips have I exited the state going west. When you go south, the land of New Jersey is something to contend with. Going west, like north, you are out of the Garden in no time.

Pennsylvania is green and hilly, not quite how I expected. I thought it would be flatter, like a Midwestern state. It rained. It had been raining in New York for weeks, and there was no difference through most of our trip. We braked for our first rest stop at Blue Mountain. I was overly excited by the Roy Rogers, the fast food joint of childhood (Rte 10 East Hanover) and adulthood (Shirley). After this point the hills became large enough that tunnels cut through them, and weeks later Larry told me that an abandoned railroad project served as the starting point.

JP’s friends made him a bunch of mixes for his birthday and the trip. Erica’s tastes are most like mine, as if she knew I would want to hear “Chicago” and “With Arms Outstretched” on the trip. (Sunday, while packing, I kept singing that one over and over.) Jenni’s first mix was full of reggae, but there was a cool Les Nubians song, and I clapped in happiness when M.I.A. came on because I’ve been meaning to download that track for some time. We also listened to the first few chapters of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Jim Dale is awesome. I wish Emma Watson could voice Hermione, though.

It was late in the first day when we reached Pittsburgh, and my sister, who arrived at the hospital the previous night, still hadn’t had the baby.

Mike has a house. A real house with a porch and a huge living room, three bedrooms, and a nice attic that could be a fourth bedroom! It is a big project to renovate the whole thing. I wonder how Mike will do it while in school, but I’m excited for him. I enjoyed the Death Star Window in the front bathroom.

Pittsburgh has all these ups and downs. The city seems situated in a valley and its surrounding hills. JP says that when you think you arrive at your destination, you realize you actually want to be thirty feet above where you are. Note to self: Pittsburgh has a Cathedral of Learning, a striking building that I’d like to visit one day.

We ate at Mad 4 Mex, the purported original! (I’m sorry I can’t resist including the “4”; years of ignorance in Philadelphia are hard to correct.) JP’s first childhood friend and neighbor drove up for dinner. Casey checked in with me; she heard Maroon 5 on the radio and thought of how much I hate their music. Mom gave me a status update and told me that Jenn would probably have a C-section.

Mike made me watch “Glee”, which many friends have been telling me I’d enjoy. They were right; I loved it.

On Thursday morning, we had an excellent and humongous breakfast at Pamela’s: banana walnut pancakes with whipped cream. The pancakes were light and thin, crepelike.

Meredith constructed her CD’s to start out with a New York sound and end with a Denver one. We left Pittsburgh, and I sang along with "The Boy from New York City."

JP’s cousin’s wife had a baby girl on Wednesday. We took the road to Canton, Ohio, to visit the new parents and their baby, who were still in the hospital.

When we parked at the hospital, I noticed a missed call from my dad about ten minutes earlier. Imogene was born Thursday morning. A big bubble of joy rose from my stomach. Babies, babies everywhere!



Being in the maternity ward right after hearing the news was nice but made it all the more evident how far away I was from my family. The new baby we visited did not have a name yet; for whatever reason they didn’t seriously consider that the baby was going to be a girl. The rest of the family arrived. The other two kids were adorable. Malia, the older sister, kissed the newborn on the head.

It was nice to sit and talk to JP’s aunt and his cousin Jay. Jay’s friend grew up in Summit. We had lunch at a Middle Eastern place. In the middle of Ohio, I ate a good gyro and delicious puffy bread (not that we needed another big meal).

The afternoon was a race to get to dinner in Chicago, since a group of friends were waiting for us. Ohio was more farmy, not as green as Pennsylvania. New Jersey gets a lot of flak for being an ugly string of refineries and smokestacks. The road into Chicago was no different. Once in the city, however, the view of the lake was great. The bit of Lakeshore Drive we took to Firefly was one of the most pleasing views of the whole trip.

I found out what everyone is doing. I drank martinis. I used the word “saturated” in a non-work context, and Julie rolled her eyes. Rachel told us of couch adventures, Evan told us of his former life as a food critic, Holly recounted her mistaken trek to the bar the previous night. Aaron, Marisa, and Vondrism stayed out to bar-hop in Boystown. (Sadly, our stop didn’t coincide with Wet Boxer Night at Roscoe’s). We celebrated with kamikaze shots. I chatted with Aaron while the others stuck dollars down a go-go dancer’s briefs. Mike drove a bright blue Altima coupe and led us home.

Friday morning was rough. Food was needed. We settled on Le Peep. My hangover cure was Monte Cristo crepes. Mike forgot brunch plans with Kim, but their plans were at Le Peep and we were seated outside, so when Kim walked by, she joined us. She told us her summer plans in B-school world, and she and JP swapped stories of driving solo with small bladders. Kim’s tale of donning Depends in case of emergency was worth the stop in Chicago.

We walked back to Mike’s apartment. The Mormon missionary asked us how we were. We said good, and when the young man in white short sleeves tried to engage us further, Mike said loud enough for the street to hear, “SORRY—three gay guys. You’re not going to convert us.” I laughed out loud. Mike said, “What? If you don’t accept homosexuals, you don’t get to talk to me about your religion.” It was an entertaining end to a fun morning.

The plan was to drive from Chicago to Denver in one day. Leaving Chicago was one of my least favorite passages of the trip. It took a long time to get onto the highway from Dempster Street, and then 88 West was plagued by construction and a lack of clear signage. The weather held up, though, and I watched the flat lands and farms of Illinois and thought about Imogene.

It turned rainy in Iowa. But I was excited to drive through it, because the furthest west I’d ever driven was Chicago (the memorable “You know, we’re only as far west as Tampa!” trip with Mom and Dad). The rain opened up. Iowa was hilly, unlike the west of Illinois (but just like the hills Dar Williams talked about! Maybe another reason I wanted to drive through.)

We stopped for dinner at a Panera outside of Des Moines. I talked to my sisters. I was enchanted by Iowan windmills. Somewhere in the middle of the state, I got a free state map at a rest area and cursed myself for not doing the same thing elsewhere. JP and I switched driving duties back and forth. He texted like a teenage girl. This is something I’ve learned about him. We agreed that we both liked the name Council Bluffs.

Council Bluffs rapidly turned into Omaha, and night fell. This was the point when the directions said, “Enter Nebraska. Go 475 miles.” Nebraska was the challenge state. We had already eaten, had the whole state to cross before entering Colorado, and the cities were front-loaded; after Lincoln there was nothing doing for a good while, and since it was dark out, I couldn’t enjoy the scenery. JP was concerned about fuel/bathroom breaks before gas stations closed. We took an exit that proved him right. Got back on the road and made it to North Platte, where we rejoiced at the lights. We were doing this.

We must have made it to the border around 2:00 AM and had still two hours to go to make Denver. I was fueled on truck stop coffee, mostly the sweet machine-made French Vanilla variety. Just before entering Colorado, I switched to black.

The speed limits as far back as Iowa went up to 75 mph. This was liberating for a Jersey Boy.

We were exhausted, but being in the last state was a psychological boost, and we broke out Jenni’s “THIS WILL BE YOUR FAVORITE” mix. It opened with Salt-n-Pepa and finished with Jay-Z. There was nobody on the road. It should have been more frightening, having no clue where I was, but it was less upsetting than driving in some areas of the Northeast. There, the woods are deep, roads turn sharply, and when you drive in strange places you fear someone in a blood-soaked shirt will jump out at you. Here, even though it was dark, you knew it was flat and open for miles in any direction. It was comforting to know no horror movie villains could ambush the car.

Our route into the city took us by the airport road, Peña Boulevard, and it was good to be familiar with the last few turns of the trip. We arrived at JP’s at about 4:00 AM on June 13. Now I live in Denver.

P.S. Someday I will post pictures.

6.24.2009

Dream, 6/15/09

I am talking to someone about Google Analytics.
Mike R is sitting on the sidewalk of Whippany Road in front of Our Lady of Mercy. No cars are on the street. I ride a bike sidesaddle past him, say hello, and he laughs. I lay on the vast lawn between Lucent and Crestwood, and Mike crosses the street. Donna materializes and they both stand in front of me. Mike is training for some kind of race, and I jokingly pinch his butt and compliment him on his physique. He jiggles it.

It Is Difficult

...to update when you have no internet at home!

6.23.2009

Showtune Tuesday: La Cage Aux Folles

I owe you bitches blogs. But all you need to know is that I got delayed in Birmingham for an extra night, was back in Denver to drink tequila shots and eat creole brunch, am now in Toronto with connection issues. In the meantime, the showtunes must go on.

6.16.2009

First Day Observations

Clearly I've never had to park in the garage of a house before. On the way out I nick the side mirror.

The weather is sunny and clear and my paranoia about yesterday's tornado warnings (7 miles outside Denver, sirens blaring) has dissipated.

Driving to a new office in a city you've never driven in is stressful. In general I don't miss driving to work, but on the plus side, I get to listen to Morning Edition again.

Colfax.

I encounter no religious car dealerships on the road to work. Seriously, yesterday we passed a Ford dealership with a large LED sign announcing "BIBLE VERSE OF THE WEEK: EPHESIANS 3:20."

In downtown Denver, what the hell do these signs NO DOUBLE TURN mean? At first I think there is a a driving maneuver I've never learned that is prohibited. Later in the day I conclude the signs must mean only one lane turns right, and the others advance through the intersection.

Though we only occupy one small area on one floor of the WPP office, the office is more modern than the 5th floor in NY. Open cubes. Downside, of course, is there is no Brain Drain.

The new coworkers are friendly. One guy is from New Jersey. (New Jerseyans are fruitful and multiply.) I sit next to another Brian, but he is not here today. There are 9 GroupM peeps besides me. I will without question be the loudest person in the office.

We have Flavia.
But: Starbucks in the building: dangerous/fabulous?

At lunch I venture out. By accident I end up at a "New York" deli. Not only are all the deli employees white, so are all the patrons.

I poke around this end of the 16th St. Mall, go into the Visitors' Information Center and score a free map of Colorado. I need one of Denver. I wander into Walgreen's to see if they have one. They do not, but they do have a Chase ATM. OK!

I decline a meeting notice because I thought it conflicted with another meeting on my calendar, only to realize Im confused because of Mountain Time. Then I have to accept the meeting I declined a minute ago. I'm sure this makes me look professional.

Everyone leaves the office by 5:02 PM. One jokes, "Brian, didn't you hear the bell ring?" I leave at 7:45.

Google Maps screws me over, because there is no exit off 25 called Buchtel Boulevard, which I deduce after traveling more than the allotted 3.9 miles. I circle around and notice a sign for Washington Street, which is further along in the directions, but am too late to make the exit. I take the next one and make it successfully to dinner at Sushi Den due to my awesome instincts/sense of adventure/willingness to take the long way on the first day in my new city/refusal to ask for directions on the first day in my new city.

Showtune Tuesday: Sister Act

Kids, I'm in Denver, but no internet at the house, and thus no road trip adventures or 1st day of work observations. YET. But I thought I'd steal a moment to post the ST. Sister Act was on TV on Sunday night!

(Alas, old links are broken.)

And congratulations to MY sister on the birth of her beautiful daughter!

6.10.2009

1,843 Miles to Denver

I will talk to you after that.

6.09.2009

Showtune Tuesday: The Wiz

The road trip begins tomorrow!

6.07.2009

June Itinerary

6/10: Willows to Pittsburgh
6/11: Pittsburgh to Chicago
6/12-6/13: Chicago to Denver
6/16: Denver to Birmingham
6/18: Birmingham to D.C. to Denver (no direct flight!)
6/21: Denver to Toronto
6/23: Toronto to Denver
6/25: Denver to NYC
6/26: NYC to Long Island

Another Link

This one by way of Erin. America is awesome:

www.nataliedee.com
www.nataliedee.com

6.04.2009

Shout-Out To My Peeps

Thanks to Craig for letting me know about this: Peeps Diorama Contest 2009.

6.02.2009

Showtune Tuesday: The King and I

(Alas, old links are broken.)

6.01.2009

Quote of the Week

"Maybe you'll understand that when you need to express something truly significant, your mouth will revert to the insignificant nonsense it knows so well." --ZZ Packer, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

Dream, 5/31/09

My grandmother gave me some semi-helpful, semi-cryptic love advice. But her eyes were closed the whole time as if she could not open them. My grandmother passed away a few years ago. The whole thing creeped me out something fierce, and I woke up in the night.

In other news, Manhattanhenge.