Tuesday, February 26, 2008
In surprising and stunning fashion, I made it in and out of New York, despite the snow and without incident. Well, sort of. But more on that later. Yes, the weekend was great, and mom turned 60, and we celebrated with the best Chinese food this side of Beijing at Philippe Chow. Seriously, that was some good Peking duck. But I'm getting ahead of myself, as that was Saturday night. My flight in took off and landed more or less on time, even though the weather in New York was wintry and yucky. It was a little bumpy heading in, but I was just glad to get there, and I sat next to a really spunky six-year-old named Shannon who had an unspecified ailment on both of her ankles. She talked to me the whole flight, and as we were taxiing to the gate at Laguardia, she asked me if I could be her new babysitter. (She lives in Connecticut, so sadly, the answer was no. But she was a pretty cool, if not a bit snarky, kid.)

On Friday night, we celebrated Carly's birthday with a good old-fashioned bowling party at Leisure Time Lanes in Port Authority. I had several beers, rolled a few strikes, and made some Big Lebowski references, and even though I didn't know too many people at the bowling alley, it was still fun. Then Saturday was spent shopping with Evan, and then dinner Saturday night. As previously mentioned, it was insanely delicious.

Sunday was mom's birthday, and she wanted to see a show, so she got tickets to a revival production of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming. Of course, none of us knew what it was about, and when we saw it, we...umm...well...let's just say it's not really birthday fare. Calling it dysfunctional doesn't begin to do it justice. We'll call it fucking weird, largely perverted, substantially chauvinistic, and not family friendly (in the fashionable usage of that particular term, I mean). Yet I still sort of liked it. The acting was good, and Michael McKean was in it. Plus, I had a gut full of fantastic sushi from lunch, so I really don't have too many complaints. I did not, however, stand to clap at the end. Neither did anyone else. Some people didn't even clap -- they just walked out!

And then there was my flight yesterday. I have to say, I pride myself on being a detail-oriented person, but I really dropped the ball hard on my return flight. Like dropped it down a flight of steep and uncarpeted stairs. I wanted to fly back early in the morning; I teach on Monday nights at the local community college, plus my dad had an early flight out, so I knew I had a ride to the airport, and I sort of like flying early in the day anyway, before the weather and hassles and delays really start to get going. I thought I had booked a 7:59 am flight, but when I talked to Paul after I landed on Friday, he asked me why I was flying back so late on Monday. I said, it's not late, it's eight in the morning. He said, uhh, no, it's eight pm. And I said oh crap, you've fucking got to be kidding me.

I am now officially one of those people who can't tell time. Great.

Anyway, Northwest wanted to charge me $100 to change my ticket, but they also said I could show up and fly standby, because there would probably be a seat on one of the four morning flights from Laguardia to Detroit that I could get on. I chose the cheaper option. It still wound up costing me $25 to change it, but that's a lot less than what they wanted for the official seat change, and considering the whole roundtrip flight was under $200 anyway, I sucked it up and paid and got on a nine am plane, and to make a long story short, I actually slept on the plane and got back without any other problems and made it home, unpacked, and got to my class on time. And I will never make that mistake again.

So yes, it was a great weekend, and I'm maybe becoming a bit less nervous on planes, now that I've been flying so much! Maybe I'll do it more often. But really, they should list plane arrival and departures in military time. Then I wouldn't confuse the am and the pm! Of course, you'd have complaints from people who don't understand military time, but maybe you shouldn't be allowed to fly unless you understand certain things, military time being one of them. Just a suggestion.

Thursday, February 21, 2008
To the question of whether or not there is any justice in the world, I politely but firmly answer no. No, there is no justice. There are many reasons, but here is the most current: It has finally stopped snowing here. It's still freezing, and I can feel the blood draining from my fingers as I type this, but at least the snow has stopped. In an effort to be a good child, I am flying home to New York this weekend to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday. It has not snowed in New York all season. Tomorrow, it is supposed to snow. Which of course sucks quite a lot. If there were any justice in the world, tomorrow would be calm and sunny.

And it really feels like I've been running in and out of town a lot lately. That's probably because I have been, and it wouldn't be so hectic if I didn't have a job. But of course, I have a job, so it is hectic. In any case, I'm out of here for the weekend. I hope your next few days are enjoyable and snow free.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008
A letter to the city in which I currently reside. (Ahem.)

Dear City of Kalamazoo:

Actually, I should probably be writing this letter to the entire region, but you know what they say: start small. I guess I could start really small and write to the neighborhood association, but they're powerless to do anything except advertise for our annual neighborhood garage sale. They do a good job with that, but they're not the people I need right now. So I'm starting with you.

First off, let me say that I know the weather is out of your control, but jeeeeeeeeez! This winter has been downright miserable! It's been day after day of cold and wind and just enough snow to be annoying. I'm sick of it, and the prospect of moving before next winter sounds pretty good, but that's another matter for another time. No, right now I want to talk about the weather and its effects on our city. Namely, all the freezing and thawing, freezing and thawing that we've been having. You know what I mean. It's ten freakin' degrees for a whole week, then we get a day of 45 and sunny, and then it goes right back down to ten. Again, I know it's not your fault that the weather's been so sucky, but I do want to talk to you about what the weather has been doing to our roads.

Quite frankly, our roads suck right now. Sorry to be blunt, but it's true. All this temperature fluctuation has torn pot holes in just about every road in town. I know that happens every year, but it's never been like this. I've lived in a four-season climate for almost all of my life, including five psychosis-inducing winters in Buffalo, NY, and I have never seen roads this bad. My normal everyday driving has turned into a white-knuckled obstacle course punctuated by bumps, jolts, and, if I'm alone in my car, more swearing and cursing than you might think would come from one smallish female. Did you even know that by mile marker 78 on the I-94 East (which happens to be sort of close to my house), you can't go above 25 because the whole road is full of divets? It slows down traffic for a mile during high-volume times of day. It's awful. I can't live like this. Please please please: make it stop.

Because, city, you can make it stop. Yes, you can! You can get those road crews out to fill in those chuck holes. I know you've filled in a few here and there, but in the meantime, there are a slew of holes that are just getting bigger, and there are dozens of new ones. And I keep clunking my tires down in them, and it's just making me angry. I pay my taxes -- in full and on time! I even vote to approve new millages so that I can pay more in taxes! But I want something in return. Specifically, I want to be able to drive from point A in town to point B in town without making my blood pressure spike. Is that too much to ask?

And really, I have your best interests in mind here. Sure, I want those holes fixed, and I'm sure just about every other resident with a drivers license in his or her wallet wants those holes fixed, but it's really you, my fair city, who should want to fix those holes? Why? I'll explain. When I need to replace my shocks because they've been shot from too many pot holes, are you going to pay the $500 to replace them? Well, no. And if I get a flat and need to get a new tire, are you going to buy it for me? Of course you won't -- you're not in the business of buying tires, and don't even get me started on the lost time and increased aggravation of fixing a flat, which, by the way, I'm not completely sure I could do on my own, although I am a fairly intelligent person and could probably figure it out if I had to. Oh, and if I swerve to avoid one of these gigantic potholes and accidentally sideswipe a car, or if another car swerves to avoid one and sideswipes me, are you going to pay my insurance deductible, medical bills, and future increases to my auto insurance? My guess is no.

But the thing is, you should, because these holes are still here because you have not filled them in. To me, that's just begging for a lawsuit, and I will have you know that if I am involved in any of the above scenarios, I will do my best to get you to pay my bills. I sure as hell pay the bills you send me. In full and on time, as previously noted.

City, I know you mean well, and I know that you don't control the weather, but please. I am begging you, for my sake and especially for yours, fix our roads. It will save you any pending litigation, it will make Kalamazoo a nicer place to live, and it will help me to clean up my potty mouth. In the meantime, here's looking forward to a quick spring warm up.

Your friend (really),


Sunday, February 17, 2008
So here I am, a week after I injured my ankle in a stupid fall, and it still hurts. And, now that the swelling has gone down, my foot is all bruised. The good news is that I can now get most of my shoes to fit over my fat foot. Still, it looks like I will need to be put on the 30-day DL. Or something like that.

In other news, Valentine's Day was a nice, low-key affair. Since we had gone out to eat on Tuesday and had plans to go out to eat on Friday, and since it's damn near impossible to get near a decent restaurant on Valentine's Day anyway, we stayed in. I made meatloaf (turkey meatloaf) and mashed potatoes, which might not sound exciting to you, but Paul likes meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and what good is Valentine's Day if you can't cook a meal that your loved one will really enjoy? Oh, and we each got each other the same present: tulips. And we each had the same rationale for buying said present: I know you like flowers, and tulips are a sure sign of spring. So now we have two lovely tulip arrangements. Sadly, the signs of spring are few and far between, though we have noticed that the cat is shedding his winter coat like a chemo patient losing hair: in big clumps.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008
So picking up where I left off yesterday, Saturday night in Miami was a lot of fun, mostly because we had reservations at Taverna Opa, a Greek restaurant where they not only allow but encourage you to dance on the tables. Really! They have belly dancers and reasonably attractive male waiters who dance on said tables with guests of honor, and the dance music is really loud, and every ten minutes or so, a busboy comes through with a stack of paper cocktail napkins and just throws them in the air, which looks kind of cool and also answered the question we were all asking when we walked into the place: What the hell are all these napkins doing on the floor? Oh. That's what. Heh heh.

And I will say that despite the gimmicks, the place really had good Greek food, and lots of it! We did the price fix dinner (or the prixie-fixie, as I like to call it), and for $25 per person, we had a taste of just about everything on the menu, and it was all delicious. And, we had a few pitchers of sangria, which was also fantastic. My only complaint about the place was that they didn't flame the saganaki at the table (you may remember my newfound appreciation for saganaki, which I previously thought to be all gimmick). But I guess with all those napkins flying around inside the dining room, throwing uzo on food and lighting it on fire is probably best done in the kitchen. So, no actual flaming cheese, but it still tasted pretty good.

So you're probably thinking: "Amy, with all the eating and drinking and dancing on the tables going on, someone in your group must have hurt herself, right?" Actually, no. Despite having had a few glasses of fruity wine and numerous small plates full of garlicky Greek goodness, no, no one fell off the table or otherwise injured herself. No, that happened the next day at the Fort Lauderdale airport, in yet another stunning proof that no good deed does, in fact, go unpunished. I was helping cousin Steph lift the baby stroller (containing the baby) onto the rental car shuttlebus, and as I stepped off to pick up my bags, which were still on the curb, I landed wrong, rolled my ankle, and landed on my hands. My ankle hurt so much that for about ten minutes, I was pretty sure I was gonna puke. Then, when that wore off, I couldn't really walk so well, and as Steph and David and baby Alex and I sat in the terminal and waited for our flights, my ankle swelled up. Then on my flight home, it swelled up some more, and by the next morning, it looked like my leg had swallowed a Fuji apple -- whole. It was a pretty nasty sprain, and today is the first day since I sprained it that I can put my weight on it and walk like a normal person. It's still pretty swollen, and the only shoes I can wear (because they're the only ones I can force over my enlarged foot) are my soft green loafers. But at least I'm walking normally.

So yeah, the ankle incident sucked, but overall, Miami Beach was warm and relaxing, and I hope I can go back next winter.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Lots of sun, a night of table dancing, two decent flights, and a minor injury later, I'm back from my big fun weekend in Miami Beach. Before I get into the details, let me just say that it is amazing to step on a plane in single digit temperatures and step off three hours later into 85 and sunny. I was so happy to be away from the miserable cold we've been having, and if I were more of arockstar, I'd do it every weekend.

Anyway, I landed right on time at Fort Lauderdale at the same terminal where my grandparents used to meet me when I was younger and would fly down to visit them. It all looked the same, right down to the ugly turquoise carpet, and just thinking about them waiting for me right there at the gate (back when that kind of thing was allowed and even encouraged) as I got to the end of the jetway made me tear up a little. But anyway, I rolled through the terminal with my two bags, traded my shoes for the flip-flops I packed in the front section of my little suitcase for easy access, and went to the curb, where cousin Steph and David and baby Alex met me. Steph even brought me some water, and Alex was cute and giggly, and we were all off to South Beach.

Once there, we sorted out the hotel reservation details and met up with the rest of our girls weekend attendees, then prompty put on our bathing suits and went out to the pool for the afternoon. Later that night, we cleaned up, went for sushi at a recommended place, thought it smelled bad, left, and went to another sushi place where we prompty ordered copious amounts of big rolls. And then we went to a club, but I was so tired that I was falling asleep sitting up. I felt lame, but I couldn't keep my eyes open, so I went back to the hotel and went to sleep! What can you do? Nothing, that's what.

The next day, Steph, Carly, and I went for a walk and had a late breakfast at this place called Nexxt. The portions were enormous, and Carly's eggwhite omelet looked like a throw pillow. We weren't sure why the place was called Nexxt, but my guess was that it's because after eating there, you can skip your next meal. This gluttony-fest was followed by lots of lying by the pool, some beach walking, and a nice late afternoon nap before cleaning up to go out for the night. More on that tomorrow.

Thursday, February 7, 2008
The weather has been unbelievably bad here, with precipitation falling in all sorts of forms yesterday, building up, and then stopping just before midnight, giving road crews enough time to sort of clean up before everyone had to wake up and go to work this morning. Blech. Luckily, I have a trip to South Beach planned for this weekend! That's South Beach in Miami. Or SoBe, as it's apparently now called. (Which is okay, but not nearly as cool as my favorite location-designating acronym DUMBO, which refers to the District Below the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Awesome!) So, I am currently packing up my bathing suits and trying to figure out how to fit small amounts of liquids into tiny plastic bottles, and then fit said bottles into a single quart-sized (not even gallon-sized) zip-top bag so I don't have to check any luggage. Bite me, TSA! (Note to government officials: The previous remark was said in jest. I'm a good person, and you do honorable work. Please don't arrest me.) (Okay, but really: duck and cover, anyone?)

So yeah, I'm driving to Ann Arbor tonight to crash at a friend's house, and then waking up before the crack of anything and driving to Detroit Metro, where I will board a spiffy new Spirit Airlines jet headed to Fort Lauderdale, where I will be met by cousins Steph and Dave and baby Alex, who are driving themselves and myself down to South Beach, where Steph and I will get out, put on our bathing suits, order fruity rummy drinks, and hang out with our other girls' weekend attendees. Wow, that was a long sentence. And actually, it's future sister-in-law Lainey's bachelorette party. I don't know where Dave and Alex will be staying, but I'm sure they'll be in good hands. It's Miami! Good times. Anyway, back in a few days. Hopefully with a tan.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008
(I am enjoying this segue-less approach. Please bear with me.)

Insert keyframe. Create motion tween. Remove frames. Rewind. Loop. Play. Listening to the sound of wintry mix, which sounds like rain that is both hard and soft at the same time. Thunder snow. Thunder snow? Thunder snow. Some school districts to the northwest of where I live have had more snow days than school days in the past two weeks. Those kids are enjoying it now, but their lives are going to suck when it gets warm out and they're in math class at the end of June. Gumbo. File gumbo. File is pronounced fee-lay, and is some sort of tasty creole (or is it Cajun?) seasoning that gives creole (or is it Cajun?) food its creole (or is it Cajun?) taste. Today is Fat Tuesday, though I'm not sure we need a holiday that actually celebrates gluttony. We as a society seem to do that enough. But maybe I don't fully understand because I am not Catholic. Forgive me father, I have sinned. Forgive me father, I have grinned. I'm not really grinning. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. It sounds best if you say it with a thick Irish brogue, so that the "e" in Jesus sounds like an "a." Try it. See if you don't start grinning. I finally bingoed in Scrabulous. I put down POINTES on a first move and scored a 74. I feel good about myself. You would too. That's a lot of points for one move. Dwell. Swell. Krell. The Krell. Forbidden Planet. Area 51. Space, the final frontier. Boldy go. Orbit. Satellites. Falling satellites. Falling satellites. Falling satellites? Space.

Monday, February 4, 2008
A bunch of unrelated things are on my mind lately, and here they are, in no particular order and with no segues, because really, it's more fun this way. Cherries. New socks. The pre-pulp bookstore. We had two snow days last week, and it was awesome. In order for the local school districts to cancel school again this year, we will have to get a serious amount of snow. But what will probably happen is that we will have school on a bunch of days when there's a lot of snow and driving is dangerous, and I'll swear like a sailor the whole time I'm brushing off my car and freezing my fingers off. I've been playing a lot of Scrabulous and am finding it quite addicting. I still have not bingoed. To bingo in Scrabble means to use up all of your letters in one turn, resulting in a pretty good word plus 50 bonus points, plus minor notoriety and respect from fellow Scrabble players. A good massage. Carry-on luggage. The taste of really good pineapple juice. Paul got new shoelaces over a month ago, and while he was changing them, the cat took one and will not stop playing with it. That stupid old shoelace is still on the rug downstairs, and I can't throw it out, because Paul really likes making the cat jump after it, and besides, every time I pick it up to move it, the cat thinks I'm trying to play with it. People say cats are intelligent creatures, but I find that ours is fairly limited in its intelligence. I suspect that all cats aren't as smart as cat people think they are. Turn off engine before fueling. Complimentary chicken wings with every order over $20. Heath Ledger is more famous now that he's dead, but he'll probably never achieve Kurt Cobain worship status because it does not appear that he did that many drugs. Everyone will probably see Batman this summer. I might too. The new, well-advertised Taco Bell Fiesta platter is just a reshuffling of the ingredients they already have and use to make their other menu items. Taco Bell is the most postmodern of all the fast food franchises because every item on their menu is just a remix of another menu item. It is both brilliant and sad. I haven't been in a Burger King in, I think, 15 years. I don't miss it. But I like Taco Bell sometimes. I'm sorry. Once cell phones became ubiquitous, people stopped dialing 10-10-321 before making a long distance call. I just realized that it's been a long time since I heard a busy signal for real. I hear them in movies and on tv as if they still get heard in real life with any sort of consistency. I enjoy sleep. If you'd like to make a collect call, please hang up and try again.

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