Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Waking Life Not as Exciting as My Dream Life

Frankly, not a lot is going on these days. I await word from Mercer University School of Medicine regarding my admission. As they have until March, it's become a cruel waiting game. Each time the phone rings, I leap for the phone to check the caller ID. So, at this point, no news isn't good or bad news, it's just stinking frustrating.

Really, other than praying to the telephone gods to make my phone ring with a call from the Macon area, I've been staying busy with handyman projects around the house, continuing the job search, and having the occasional lunch with friends. All in all, not a bad life.

Much more exciting, however, has been my dreams life. In fact, this week might be a banner week for crazy-assed dreams. Following is a brief synopsis of what has happened so far.

Monday Night
This one was a bit of a time-warp, Terry Gilliam type dream or, at the least, and unfunny Chappelle Show episode. I'm standing around with a bunch of my ancestors trying to defend one of my forefather's patriotism and, it turns out, his life. The person hearing the case is a black George Washington. He's having none of my relatives' arguments. I take the floor and give an impassioned speech that touches African-American George's heartstrings. I appeal to his sense of fairness and make him recall what he fought for to help win independence for the country. Then, I deftly illustrate that my ancestor's love for America isn't that different. Black George ruled favorably and my relative lived. I suppose, by the "Back to the Future" rules of time travel, that his survival meant that I also survived.

Tuesday Night
Instead of our actual house, we're living in an enormous two-story house that's full of visitors coming and going. In particular, our friend Heather (a.k.a. "R") is there with her mother who keeps trying to sell us on a life insurance policy. We're stuck in this quandry about how to continue avoiding her sales pitch while being polite. Just as we're lying down to go to sleep, an enormous rocket falls from sky and, while remaining perfectly vertical, crashes through our roof and both floors of our house. (Think of the rocket in "Weird Science.") Understandably, we're freaked out and feel lucky that we weren't killed. On closer inspection, the rocket, which we've determined to be Cuban, appears to be a U.S. rocket that has been stolen and painted by the Cubans. Seriously, you can see the U.S. paint underneath. As we're examining it, the thing starts to rumble and make a lot of noise. Expecting an explosion, we look for what cover we can find in the bedroom. Instead of a deadly explosion, however, the rocket belches out about 30 soccer balls and 15 pairs of athletic shoes.

"Wow, I've got to let my Ethiopian friends know that we're starting a team! We're going to rule rec league soccer!," I rejoice.

Wednesday Night
I'm hosting a barbecue at the house and using a reproduction of an "illegal barbecue pit," which looks exactly like a regular pit. Anywho, guests continue to arrive at the house and venture into the back yard to have a look at it. One guy in a wheelchair arrives and keeps making suggestions about improving the pit. Evidently, he's the authority on building and running illegal BBQ operations. As I'm listening and discounting his advice, I notice that my good friend, Joe Torre, has arrived. I walk up to thank him for coming and he gives my a huge bear hug. Obviously, it's been a little while since I've seen him. He thanks me for playing for him and tells me that he misses me around the clubhouse. I let him know that I think the Yankees thing was a huge debacle on the part of the Steinbrenners and wish him luck in Los Angeles.

As I'm introducing my friends to him, I go to put my arm around his neck but accidentally punch him in the chin, causing him to snap shut his mouth and chip some teeth.

"Damn, Joe, I am so sorry, buddy. Look I'm trying to help you out with your dental plan! You've only got two more days under the Yankees coverage. This will help you get all your money out of your Flex Spending Account so you don't lose it!," I explain.

Joe Torre looks at me, smiles, and mumbles that "it's OK" through his broken teeth. We share a hearty laugh and go look at the illegal BBQ pit.
How awesome are they? Seriously, each morning I wake up smiling, if not laughing.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Fleeing the Blizzard

After listening to media reports of the impending blizzard that was to hit Atlanta, I retreated to the safe room in our house. Since mid-day, I've been here in the cold, impenetrable shelter. I only hope that I've stocked the shelter with enough canned food to sustain us through what will inevitably be the decent from civilized society into lawlessness. By now, I assume that there must be at least 8" to 10" inches of snow coverage, yielding most automobiles useless and stranding everyone. Before retreating from the mayhem, we took the dog out for a last minute hunt. At the very least, I'd hoped to get some squirrels to sustain us through what will surely be weeks without power or contact with the outside world. Unfortunately, Dylan likes only to retrieve snowballs. So, friends, in addition to our stockpiles of canned beans and tins of tuna, we will have a stock of snow to melt for water.

Instead of large game, Dylan chose to hunt only snowballs.

Wish us luck in surviving Winter Storm 2008.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year! (Belated)

I've finally caught up on the sleep I missed during our whirlwind New England tour. Here are some highlights from the trip.

Newport Cliff Walk
On Sunday, we drove to Newport, RI to complete the famous Cliff Walk. Essentially, you walk along a beautiful, rocky New England shoreline and look at some incredible mansions. If you're in the neighborhood, I strongly recommend it. More photos of our walk are here.

Avoid doing this if even slightly hungover.
Also, pee before you start.

This is one of the little fixer-uppers along the walk.

Dr. J3K uses his fancy "teaching stick"
to remind us that rowdy behavior
isn't permitted on the Cliff Walk.

Campus Center at Wellesley College
On New Year's Eve, we drove up to see the Wellesley Campus Center that my wife helped design. She gave us a personal tour of it. Seriously, it's an awesome building.

Kimberly, in the midst of her tour.

Another view of the building.

Because we were sooo damned cold, we decided to stop in for ice cream sundaes at a great little ice cream shop. J3K was tempted to order the 8-scoop "white mountain" but opted out of it. Hands down, White Mountain Creamery is tops. More advice: don't let anyone with a lactose intolerance eat ice cream. If you do, they're likely to nearly kill you on the drive home with their champion-like behavior.

Other than Graceland Too and a handful of travel situations that I'm happy to have escaped, few places have impressed/terrified/thrilled me as much as Captain Seaweed's Pub in Providence, Rhode Island. I highly, highly recommend it.

A few nights earlier, Dr.J3K and I had a quick beer before they closed. On New Year's Eve, however, we decided to stop in for a couple of rounds before heading to our final destination.

Inside these walls is a fantastic little dive that will frighten and exhilarate you.

In anticipation of our visit, we'd been speaking in pirate voices (yaarrghh!) for most of the afternoon. When our group of seven entered the bar, the total occupancy nearly tripled. There were two old guys at the bar. One was a slight, olive-skinned man who was impressively drunk. The other was a bleary-eyed gent who sat at the bar nursing his Budweiser between sips of his whiskey backer. We walked in and ordered a $5 pitcher of beer to split among the group. Old, drunk guy must've decided that he liked the way we looked because he instantly called for a pitcher of beer for us. "On the house!," he kept yelling in his Southie accent.

Immediately, Dr. J3K and I threw some dollars in the jukebox and offered to play a song or two for the regulars.

"You guys want to hear anything?," I asked.

"Thanks guys but I'm an old guy," Bud/Whiskey responded.

"We can play you a bunch of Elton John," Dr. J3K offered after quickly surmising that the oldest thing in the jukebox was vintage Elton.

"No thanks," Bud/Whiskey said almost immediately.

"Elton John? What the hell?," I urgently whispered to J3K.

"I don't know. We're gonna get killed," he replied.

To atone for any faux pas, we played a ton of manly, classic rock.

A short while later, J3K, our friend Eddie, and I made our way over to the foosball table. As I'm terrible at this game, I played the role of interested spectator as J3K demolished poor Eddie. Each time J3K scored, the foosball hitting the goal pierced the din in the bar. Each time, the beefy bartender and his beefy sketchy pal would look our way, nod to each other, and look our way again. When the game concluded, they quickly headed over to the table and demanded that we play them. The bartender pulled quarters from the register and slammed them down on the edge of the table.

"C'mon guys. Just for fun," he said.

On hearing the phrase "just for fun," I immediately saw an image of myself two hours in the future: I was wearing only my boxers, my eyes were nearly swollen shut from the beating, I bled from my mouth, and wept with fear each time they demanded that I get them their $1,000. So, this is how it starts, I thought to myself. J3K and I shot each other a quick look as he politely tried to decline.

"We'll split up and play teams," the bartender insisted. "You play wit me," he said, nodding to J3K.

The bartender's beefy friend had a host of jailhouse tats on his hand. On noticing this, I immediately felt very, very comfortable with the progressing situation. As I looked over at the women in our group, they played a card game at the table with the pitcher of beer and creatively ignored the old, drunk guy as he attempted to dance near them.

After what turned out to be a very close, hard-fought game, the bartender and his buddy thanked us for playing and then, strangely, disappeared outside. I looked around and the only people in sight were our group and the old drunk guy who was loudly telling a story about Wilma Flintstone and using an object that referred to as one of her adult toys. That's rich, I thought.

After a quick trip to the restroom, I decided to stick my head outside and take a look at the courtyard. In doing so, I thought that I might've made another mistake. Bartender, beefy friend, and Bud/Whiskey were outside having cigarettes. They asked where I was from and we struck up a conversation. Five or six minutes later, J3K showed up looking relieved that I was still alive. Later, he admitted that he'd come out to make sure I wasn't getting my ass kicked. Turns out, though, that all the guys there were really friendly. They wished us a Happy New Year, invited us to come back to the bar, and were super nice. Still, I could easily see them kicking my ass for some dumb thing I did or said.

On the way, out old drunk guy sways out the door and says "I wish yous a Happy New Yeah. God bless yous and ya families. Happy New Yeah."

"Same to you, pal. Same to you," I told him.

For $5: two pitchers of beer, a game of foosball, the fear of impending death/extortion, the escapades of a benign drunkard, and a memorable evening.

Wickenden Pub
After Seaweed's, we headed over to the Wickenden Pub to close out the evening. We had more pints, played Quiddler (an awesome, easy game to which I was just introduced), and rang in the new year.

Avian Duel

Early on New Year's Day, we woke and headed to Boston for our flight. Luckily, we changed to a direct flight home instead of connecting through Cincinnati. We were home in time to see UGA demolish Hawaii. Happy New Year indeed.