It’s Only Funny When You Don’t Die

I once drove 7,500 miles in a circle.

Technically, it was only a circle if you’re two-years-old, have a box of crayons and a whole lotta wall awaiting your art. So, maybe it was more circle-esque, in that the start and end both coincided and it offered some sense of a looping line in between.

I had a number of wild ideas in my twenties. Most of them resulted in generous face-plants into walls inconveniently placed where doors should have been. Or it could have just been I had no directional awareness of where doors where supposed to be and a strange affinity for pain. On occasion, however, my wild ideas bore fruit. Bananas, mostly. A lemon or two. Nothing as exotic as a kiwi. Of course, I don’t really like kiwi. My associations with kiwi coincide with a time in which I thought dating a not so sane ex-stripper a fancy idea. That’s another kind of fruit altogether, however, but a decent explanation of both my dislike for kiwi and for running into metaphorical walls.

Where was I?

Oh, bad ideas. Right. So, I had this idea once that I should drive around the country in thirty days. Ambitious writer-type stuff. See what I see, live the life, draw words from the nectar of experience, write bold provocative words for the world to behold, stand proudly in fists-to-hips superhero pose. Not quite Jack Kerouac, at its core. More like Clark Griswold with a video camera instead of a family, and more ambition than actual plan. I didn’t so much as work on the logistics of the trip as dig my hands in the Lego box, toss things around, and scream OH MY GOD LEGOS YOU GUYS!

So, with the help of my Uncle Charles, I converted my pickup into a mobile hotel–complete with shelves, bed, topper that resembled the top of a square igloo, road atlas, all the sci-fi soundtracks any good sci-fi geek should own (yes, shut up), and left. I may have bought food. I can’t be certain. I don’t recall starving, so somewhere in there rest assured that Pringles, peanuts, or Combos made an appearance. Quality nutrition to fuel the soul of any spirited traveler. I figured I could find my way to various campsites along the unmarked, unplanned, who-the-hell-knows path and save a good bit of money avoiding hotels. REAL WRITER STUFF!

See, the thing is … the thing about “planning” that makes so much sense is you take the time to work out logistics, so that when you head out on the road for a month long trip around the country, you do so knowing whether or not you’re driving into the path of an oncoming hurricane on the first day of your journey. Small detail kind of stuff. What’s that? Oh, nothing. Just your average Category 4 nightmare bearing down on you. Hey, I made it six hours into my trip before needing a hotel. That has to count for something. All that prep and money invested on Hotel Truck really paid off! At least my vehicle had some height. Owners of the cars I passed, floating in their lagoons on side streets as they were, seemed terribly displeased with the situation. I probably would have been too, but I was too white-knuckled and desperate for a hill to pay much mind. Fortunately, not too far off I-10 I found a hotel, conveniently located at a higher point of elevation–for Florida this would be measured as ten to fifteen feet above People Level, since Sea Level is nothing short of a hopeless dream–where I watched the water level rise from the safe confines of a second-floor room.

By the way, have you ever seen a river flow from the sky? I have. It’s really fun.

Despite it all, and the odd dreams that night of being a fish trying to swim its way to Heaven, my truck did not float away. By a few inches, it managed to not get flooded, which is more than I can say for the guy in the Audi parked next to me. He was a sweet guy, for a man whose face flared with the focused rage of an insolent beet. I felt bad driving away as he tried to encourage his Insurance company that he didn’t drive into the pool this time.

The trip held it’s share of memories, not the least of which involved me, a couple of hours, a pig pen on the side of the road in the middle of Kansas, and a very one-sided conversation. Pigs really don’t have much to say, as it turns out. Fortunately, they fry up well.

Around Day 20, I found myself in Montana. At the time, my meta-dimensional secondary brother Jim lived in Livingston with his family. It was a long way from their previous home in Georgia, but with one look at the mountainous landscape, open sky, and brilliant Fall foliage I understood why they did it. Actually, that’s not true at all. I just wanted to talk about how beautiful it was. I’ve still never seen anything as majestic and breathtaking. But their reasons for moving were completely removed from the serenity of nature and more centrally fixated on the complete and utter lack of people. It was hoped that less people equaled less stupidity. Unfortunately, the equation doesn’t work that way. Though it would seem more people equals more stupidity, the truth is the percentage of stupidity in any group is always a constant. Spread fewer people out over a larger area, and they’re simply harder to find. They just account for a greater percentage of the required Stupid in the equation, and are therefore increasingly more stupid. Something like that. I don’t know. Jim’s father can explain it better. He rants on Stupid like know you’ve ever met.

Anyhow you rant it, I was there. Wanting to make the most of it on my behalf, Jim suggested we go hiking. Nothing extreme (that 10,000-foot peak came on the next trip). Just a small climb to the top of a waterfall. Didn’t matter that it was snowing. All the better even. More picturesque. Good for the trip’s documentary. So we headed out of town, camera recording the drive and the subsequent climb. Actually, it was great fun. Particularly the holy-hell-we’re-still-alive journey back down. After all, Jim did almost die at the top of the waterfall.

Funny thing about holding a video camera from the 90’s. They were big, heavy, and difficult to balance on your shoulder. Like holding a 24-pack of water bottles on its side. With one hand in the grip, and the other bouncing around in a vain attempt to offer support it could never manage, you were pretty much at its mercy. Sure, nostalgia is great, but the risk we took to record it was kind of, well, dumb. Especially when you’re trying to balance on an icy rock surface at the top of a waterfall. I give Jim credit. Both for offering to put my stubbly face on my trip documentary–of which it had not yet been–and also for maintaining a perfect cradle on my expensive equipment as his feet slipped out from underneath him and his body was suddenly no longer a part of the solid part of Earth. The recording went beautifully. After all, it was a really nice camera. One moment I was there, being the absurd and awkward fool I am in front of a camera, the next there’s a wonderful shot of the moon in daylight as Jim gives a subtle “oop” as he went airborne and a less subtle “oof” as he collided again with Mother Earth.

Here’s the kicker. What you should hear at this point is absolute panic. Screaming, calling Jim’s name, rushing to his side. Me, in frame, concerned for my best friend and meta-dimensional secondary brother. What you hear, instead, is me laughing. Hard. Jim, despite the ordeal, didn’t quit recording. A real trooper. Pure dedication. It’s just life after all. Better record it while you have it. He managed to sit up, find me, and then recount the harrowing tale of something that just happened as if I had not been there to witness it. To which, through my continued laughter, I offered in defense, “It’s only funny because you didn’t die.”

What still disturbs me to this day is how genuine my words were. I didn’t think about it, I didn’t sugarcoat it. I just said what I knew as a truth at that moment. Because Jim didn’t propel himself off the waterfall, instead falling flat on his back and in notable pain, I could laugh. Because his choice to protect my camera over an effort to brace himself during a fall didn’t result in horrible splatter death … funny. And I wonder what that means about me. About my perspective. Life is only funny until you die? A joke is only funny until it’s over? A hurricane is only funny unless it’s carrying you away kicking and screaming? Does this indicate derangement? Have I been on some type of lifelong psychotic bender?

Or was it just really funny?

It’s a fair question. I mean, America’s Funniest Home Videos made a living off poor schmucks whose kids accidentally whacked them in the nuts and people laughed at that. On some level, isn’t possible that children who might have been born will no longer? It’s not death per se, but a lack of opportunity at life. In fact, the Christian Coalition should look into whether or not it’s some type of pre-meditated sex-free abortion.  Not so funny anymore is it? If these poor schmoes died of testicular raculation it wouldn’t be funny either. Why? Because they died. See? It’s only funny when you don’t die.

A ducking good time

 

 

This is a guest post from Ducky Thomas®, duck extraordinaire. He likes to have adventures, loves even more so to talk about them, and hopes that, some day, he will be able to fly around the world all by himself. He’s a very excitable duck, so try to keep up.

 

 

Hi everybody!  It’s hard to believe that it’s been two weeks since I wrote about going to the Richmond, but golly, time sure has, as Zach likes to say, ‘flown by.’  He says that some day I’ll be able to fly as fast as time, but I just don’t know.  So far I can only fly off the bed, and I don’t make it very far.  Most times, I just kind of fall.  But I’m pretty sure that the last time I tried, I fell a lot slower!  Maybe it won’t be too long now, and I’ll just be zooming all over the place!

Ha ha, Quack!

Sorry, I got a little carried away.

Well, anyway, I may not be able to fly just yet, but I have been very busy making new friends, and also going to something Zach called a, “Fall Festavil,” which I thought would be a very good place for a duck trying to learn how to fly to go to.  It was in a great big park, with trees, and grass, and a playground too (but only the Big Ducks get to play there, Zach said, which made me sad, but I guess someday I’ll be a Big Duck, and then I can play all day long!), but not really too many places where a duck could learn to fly.  It appeared, though, that by the time we got there, most of the people had already fallen, because they were all sitting on the grass listening to music.  I don’t know what the music was, but I’m pretty sure it made everyone feel better about falling, because they all seemed pretty happy.

Oh! But I forgot to tell you the super duper best part! I got to go with my new friend, Henrietta!  She’s a hippo, a really fun, and neat hippo, and pretty much my best friend in the whole wide world!

Henrietta and I got to ride together to the park. She sure is a silly hippo!

At first I wanted her to go, but I couldn’t find her anywhere, and I got really upset.  But then, wouldn’t you know?  That silly little hippo had asked Zach to hide her in our traveling bag as a really neat surprise, and I was so excited when I got there that I quacked for about five minutes! Boy was that embarrassing!

We didn’t go to the park right away, and had to wait in the car while Zach, and his friend Katie (boy she sure is quite pretty, but I’m too shy to tell her!), went to an ATM, I think, where he says all the money is kept, which I don’t know…it seemed kind of small.  I guess money isn’t that big.  Well, while we were waiting, Henrietta kept telling me that it would be really funny if I drove us away while Zach and Katie were gone, which seemed a little crazy to me, but she kept giggling so much that I started giggling too, and then, before I knew it, I had crawled out the bag and was pretending to drive! And let me tell you, it’s a lot harder to do than I thought!

VROOM VROOM!

I don't know what this thing is, but it sometimes makes the car bounce.

I couldn’t make the car go, but, honest as I can be, I didn’t want to.  I like making Henrietta laugh, and boy did she, but I was more than ready to get back in the traveling bag and get the park, so I could fall with everyone.  And, sure enough, we arrived just a few minutes later–though I guess it could have been longer, I don’t know.  Henrietta snorted when I got back in the bag, because she said I made a really funny face, and then I quacked for so long that I don’t really know how much time passed.  But it was so funny!

Well, as I said before, everyone had already fallen when we got there, and I didn’t see any other people falling, although there were some children playing with sticks, and one of them seemed to be really curious to me.  I mean, I know I’m just a duck, but he sure danced silly with that stick.  Zach said he looked like a Jedi with parking son’s disease.  I don’t know what that is, but, as I said, I don’t know how to drive.

Anyway, the boy went away, and just in time too!  Zach and Katie had food, and Henrietta and I got to try some!  The first thing we tried was a hamburger, but I think it wasn’t made too good, because it didn’t taste like ham at all.

It tasted like ketchup.

But the really best thing we tried, that was so super good, I thought I really was going to fly.  It was called a funner cake, and even though it didn’t look much like a cake at all, it sure was fun!  It had some kind of white, powdery stuff on it–I think that was the funner part!–that made my head feel all happy, and caused Henrietta to snort for three straight minutes!  I thought my beak was gonna explode from quacking so hard!

IT WAS SOOO GOOD!

After a while,  it was time to go, which was okay with Henrietta and me because we were ready for a nap.  And even though Henrietta and I aren’t Big enough to go to the playground, we did get to sit together on a bench for a little bit, and watch the other kids.  I tell you, it sure looks like a lot of fun.

Henrietta is a super neat hippo.

It sure was a lot of fun, but boy was I tired.  I was really happy that Henrietta got to go too, and that I got to eat some yummy food, and even though I didn’t fall at the park, I sure did when I got home!

This was the best fall I've ever made!


Leaving NYC

I couldn’t help but notice, as I was looking over the dashboard to the blog to approve some comments (& blast some junk into oblivion, with some Schwartzenegger like “You’ll be trashed” line in my head), that the corner of the page that details the most often used search results to locate my blog had the following 3 as the top choices:

  1. “Zachary Steele”, “Author Tour”
  2. “zachary steele”, “NYC”
  3. “zachary steele”, “giraffe sex”

Now, please, whichever one of you did the third one, please, please, please, oh for the love of everything holy, please, let me know.  BRILLIANT!  I don’t know if I’m more amused that it exists, or that it worked.  Either way, I’m totally honored to be found under the search heading of “giraffe sex” despite the fact that I have neither written about it, or to my knowledge, had it.

Giraffe sex.  Tee hee.

So, my NYC escapades are at an end.  No pictures today, nor any from last night.  The camera is packed, and the room looks less of a disaster now that everything is placed quasi-neatly in the suitcase.  The coffee has finally woken me from my morning stupor, bringing ME to from a late night, and short sleep.  Last night at The Tank, I had the 2nd of 2 events, and rounded out a birthday celebration without song or fanfare for the first time since I drove alone to Montana.  Harry Terjanian was a hoot and seemed well at ease railing on religion.  We were a small group, but one prepared to laugh, and he didn’t disappoint.  Though I could cite a number of well delivered punchlines, his run on the disappointment of Easter candy was my favorite.  The idea that the large Chocolate Easter Bunnies, are “chocolate covered air” is still cracking ME up.

I plopped MYSELF up on the edge of the stage for what amounted to a cozy little story time with a handful of rapt listeners.  I gave the first chapter of Angelic Malcontentsanother go, and am now convinced that it’s going in the right direction.  The unicorn-head maid lady (did I hear Andora? or was that Andromeda?) was there again, at MY side as I read.  I’m less creeped out by her now, and find MYSELF chatting her up, just in case.  You never know.  She could be real somewhere, and though I’m not soliciting MYSELF to her, it’s always good to keep an open friendship with any potential unicorn-head maid ladies in the universe.  Seems like having one for an enemy could be rather unpleasant.  Just sayin’.

So, all in all it was a great trip.  Saw plenty.  Heard plenty.  Talked plenty.  Read a lot.  And stowed away, for future use, much more story content than even I could have planned for.  Thanks to everyone who has kept up, and I look forward to getting home, where MY wife is likely to squeeze ME into an alternate universe, and my dog is likely to have a coronary, after spending nearly 4 days convinced I was never coming home.  Time to give up this awesome view of Manhattan, take MY weary butt downstairs, and begin the trek to Laguardia by way of train and bus.  Cost savings aside, I’m good for one cab  ride per trip here.  Already did that, and I think I lost a few years in the process.  No need to lose more.  I might lose more hair.  Not ready for that yet.

Giraffe sex.

If Doesn’t Kill You, It’s Worth a Buck

Well, last night’s event at The Tank was a load of fun.  Aside from the fact that the venue is a quaint little, absolutely inviting theater space, it’s also a perfect space for readings.  “Just Working on My Novel” was designed by the ever amazing, always entertaining Russ Marshalek, as an outlet for those who have been working on, talking about, or professing a desire to write, a novel.  Each of these events will feature a published author, and I am honored to have been the writer to have had the priviledge to wear the innagural pair of JWOMN shoes.  I started the affair by reading from Anointed and closed it out by reading the first chapter from MY follow-up, Angelic Malcontents.  It was the first public reading of that particular material, and I was elated to have received such a positive response.

The stage at the Tank

The stage at the Tank

As you can see, the set-up on stage was simplistic, and included a weird little Maid/Unicorn Head…thing that was holding a copy of Anointed.  This too, was a Russ Marshalek special inclusion, and I really don’t know what to say, other than it will find a place in a story of mine very soon.  A bizzare, bizzare piece of, well, whatever you refer to it as.Tonight, once more at The Tank, is the religious roast, Fishsticks for Jesus.  It will be a night of comedy at religion’s expense, and I fully expect that there will be much to write about tomorrow morning, when I sit down, groggy, and struggling through words with a cup of coffee firmly in hand.  Then, sadly, it will be time to depart from the Big Apple.  There’s never enough time to see everything you want to see here.  Even with 3 full days, you just pick what you want to see & leave it at that.Today was a lazy day, to be honest.  As a birthday present to MYSELF, I slept in until 9, staggered downstairs to grab as much coffee, yogurt, danishes, and additional creamer/sugar for coffee later, that I could carry and returned to  MY room to relax, and attend to the weighty amount of birthday wishes and photo comments on Facebook.  I stayed there, spent some time catching up with Alice and telling the dog hello, and finally wandered out after noon or so to meet Russ at The Tank.

???

???

12:35 p.m: I arrive at The Tank and proceed to be a complete ass to Russ in front of his Tank cohorts.  He rightfully reads me the riot act, tells Alice on the phone that I am being a stupid dick, and informs ME that he doesn’t work for ME anymore and “doesn’t have to take that shit.”  I realize that he is absolutely correct, and that I apparently don’t have enough caffeine in ME after all.  To Starbucks!

1:33 p.m: The frap helped.  I’m feeling loose and free again, and after a bit of a ride on the trains, we’re in Brooklyn, heading for food and then, Word, Brooklyn’s best little Indie bookstore.  One problem though, which Russ points out with a question that I cannot answer.

Russ: Where are we?

ME: Hell if I know.

Yeah.  Lost in Brooklyn.  And not that, “well, this is the ok part of Brooklyn that you shouldn’t be afraid of,” but rather that, “Oh, dear God, we’re going to die,” area that you would rather avoid.  Yay Russ!  I ask him if it’s ok to hand him back the, “Stupid dick,” moniker.  He grudgingly agrees.  We head back to the train and the Greenpoint stop we should have gotten off at to begin with.

2:00 p.m: We arrive at Brooklyn Label, and I eat the absolute best burger I have ever had in my life.  It’s a neat place, full of character, and Russ pointed out some guy in the corner that is supposedly a famous musician.  Yeah.  Like I would know him.

Brooklyn Label

Brooklyn Label

 
2:40 p.m: We arrive at Word, where we spend an hour shooting the breeze, bashing stupid books, and discussing why James Patterson is sadly the best thing that Hachette Book Group USA can promote.  Well, except for that Twilight thing, anyway.  I buy a copy of The Book Thief, a Young Adult title I’ve been wanting to read since it came out in 2006, and we head out for the G Train. 

There has been an absence of notable excitement today.  Yesterday, after I blogged, I left the hotel in search of caffeine and dinner.  I got down to 8th street, a block away, when I was halted by 3 fire trucks, 4 cop cars, and 2 rescue vehicle, and a throng of people congregated and staring skyward.  I would find out, very quickly, that a crane had malfunctioned (or something like that), and that a netting that was holding broken concrete was threatening to spill its contents onto the road below.  I would find out later that this is not a rare occurance in the City.  I made it past that, only a block further before I saw 2 more ambulances, 2 more cop cars, another large throng, and a considerable amount of blood on the street.  Just past that, a bicycle split in half.  Yeah, man on bike vs. car, car wins.  From what I understand, the guy was beaten, broken, but would survive.  Crazy.  There’s no shortage of entertainment around here.  I look forward to leaving the hotel, just to see what I see.

Alright, all done now.  Need to make dinner plans and get ready for tonight.  More tomorrow morning before I make my way home!

More ME in NYC, Day 2

I didn’t want to go to sleep last night.  For a long time (once I had fully comitted myself to leaving Facebook and the plethora–what is a plethora?–of comments and such from yesterday’s activity) I just stared out the window at the city.  I think I was still in that, “Am I really here” phase that most of us go through when we’ve come to visit an exciting place, or a place we’re excited about because it isn’t exciting at all but quiet because everyone else isn’t  there.  Anyway, I left the shades open, and woke up the minute the light touched the sky.  Times like this, and times like this only, that I don’t mind short sleep.  Thus began the day.  I have no idea where I’m going now, only that I’m about to walk out the door.

8:32 am: I meander downstairs, showered & happy to MY free Marriott breakfast.  Before you get too excited, free, in this instance, is bagels and toast and cereal and coffee.  Honestly, I was happiest about the free coffee.  More so that they had little packages of Coffe-Mate French Vanilla creamer available.  MY caffeinated dessert, what you mortals call coffee, in hand, I was ready to face the day.

10:15 am: While on MY way to the Library, I stop for the 1st of 2 visits to Bryant Park, situated right next door (door? somehow, that seems wrong).  It’s a peaceful place in the morning.  Probably an excellent place to drink some coffee and wake up while people watching.  Hey!  That’s what I was doing!

I can haz nap?

I can haz nap?

 

Hello funny hat man!

Hello funny hat man!

10:10 a.m: New York Public Library.  I didn’t go in, as I’ve been there before & I’m running short on time before I meet Russ at (or around, on Russ time) 11.  Snapped a couple pictures of the lions, and some various shots of the local landscape, but nothing you wouldn’t have seen a bajillion times before on tourist brochures.  I’m beginning to get a little worried about the calm lack of adventure the day is displaying thus far.  What, Monday comes and we all act normal again?  What’s up with that?

10:21 a.m: Walking up 5th Ave, on MY way to St. Patrick’s Cathedral when it suddenly occurs to ME that I’ve been singing the coffee toffee twisted frosty song in MY head for the last hour.  Damn!  In order to purge the madness, I grant the repetitive lyrics to you

Coffee toffee, twisted frosty!

Do you wanna get frosty with me?

10:32 a.m: I arrive at St. Patty’s to discover that MY favorite NYC landmark is still there.  You can never be too sure when religion is involved.  Could have been swept away in a moment of vengeance.  Glad to see that they are renovating some of the exterior.  Most people are aware that I do not believe you can find God in a church, despite the fact that they exist, seemingly, for the that sheer purpose alone.  You can find religion in a church though, and St. Patty’s never disappoints.

Stained Glass in St. Patty's

Stained Glass in St. Patty'sCeiling at St. Patty's

St. Patrick's Cathedral

St. Patrick's Cathedral

 

11:11 a.m: Lunch with Russ at Chipolte’s.  I need about 3 more cups of coffee to keep up with the speed at which he is talking.  Russ, I’m still a Southerner!  Slow down!

12:25 p.m: Russ & I have broken up, though I believe it to be short term.  Once he slows down his speech, we’ll be all right.  I decide to head back to 42nd street, and over to Grand Central Station, since I didn’t have time before, then head back to St. Patrick’s because, well, because it’s so freakin’ awesome.  Aside from the fact that I think of The Day After Tomorrow everytime I go into Grand Central, I rather enjoy it.  It is the pinnacle of activity.  Busy, busy, busy little people scoot around from one to the other, or from one floor to the other, to the fooditorium downstairs, or simply dodging pesky tourists with cameras.  OH!  Actually, the main floor of Grand Central is home to a scene from one of my favorite movies, K-Pax, so maybe all isn’t bad.  The travesty has been undone.  Sorry Mr. Gyllenhal and Mr. Quaid, but that movie just sucked.  Wolves?  Really?  Wolves in NYC? 

1:35 p.m: Back at St. Patrick’s for about 30 minutes.  It’s fantastic to absorb to just sit and absorb the history of the place.  Unfortunately, and by design I do believe, the pews are dreadfully uncomfortable to sit on for an extended period of time.  How can you feel the presence of God if you’re massaging your butt every five minutes!

2:25 p.m: Back at the hotel where I attempted a nap.  No go.  Nap fail.  Too easily distracted am I.  Answer the phone?  Sure!  Text messages, absolutely!  Facebook chats?  Well, I can’t be rude!  Anyway, it’s 5:30 now and I’m about to get ready for night one at The Tank.  I may, and or may not, post pictures and update the blog later this evening.  MY guess is on the no side.  You may just have to wait until tomorrow.  And, hey, whoa!  I totally buzzed a fly today!

I seez you mister flyz!

I seez you mister flyz!

Ok, so maybe it isn’t that cool.  But still, I had to wait a long time for that shot.

Trolling about in NYC

Taking the author’s tour of NYC for the next 4 days.  I’ve been here before, so it’s not your “country boy in the big city” kinda deal that is trademarked with open mouths and schedules chock full of touristy sites.  It’s still an amazing place, and it still leaves ME waddling in awe and inspiration.  I’ve never come to New York on MY own, with no guide (read in: friend) to show ME the sites or take me to great little shops in Little Italy where stories linger through time (I’ll share that one later).  But, I’m here, I have book events at The Tank on both Monday and Tuesday (where I will silently sing birthday wishes to ME, and will disallow others to do the same out loud), and I have brought the camera to let you see what I am seeing.  In order to do this proper, I’ll just have to check in as I pass through the hotel and update posts daily.  So, what you read now will have more later.  I’ll make sure to let MY Facebook friends know when the updates are in, and I’ll be dumping all of my photos there as well.

And so begins Day 1.

6:30 am:  I wake up, even though I don’t need to get up for another 45 minutes.  I’m a travel geek, and have, on many occasions, departed from quality sleep to get things going, jumping up and down like a kid on Christmas (albeit at 4 am, 3 hours before mom & dad are comitted to waking).  Coffee!  Quick!  I manage half a cup before I realize I didn’t need the caffeine to begin with.

8:00 am: Alice drops me off at MARTA.  I make it to Five Points, and switch to the Southbound train, where the automated voice informs us all that the train is going Northbound.  I quickly send the all important message to Twitter (& Facebook): “Oh MARTA, you do live to entertain.  Telling ppl on southbound train that its going north.  Very cheeky.”  I realize at this point that I needed more caffeine.

9:00 am: I arrive at the airport, where I realize at check in that airlines have changed their luggage check in policies.  No longer is it free for the 1st bag.  Now you pay $15…IF, IF that is you meet the size and weight requirements.  Ugh.  Are you kidding me?  I should have figured out a way to just carry on.  I would have threatened the lady that I would send me pet dragon out of hiding to destroy the minions of Air Tran, but she was really nice.  No worries Sandra, here’s my card.  Abuse ME.

10:20 am: I board the plane, sitting across the aisle from a young woman, who felt it necessary to bring her floatation devices with her.  Both of them.  They seemed to fit pretty snug in her shirt, and I don’t know what her plan was to deploy them.  Anyway, she slept the whole trip with her mouth wide open.  And I mean, she slept.  Hard.  Comatose like.  Through the take off, through the landing, and through most every other inconvenience in between.  I thought of grabbing her once we got off the plan and suggesting that she steer clear of any opportunity to fall asleep in the presence of her fellow college students.  But then I thought she probably already had, and if I looked hard enough, I could probably find the eveidence online.

1:13 pm: I grab a yellow machine of death for MY march into oblivion–or Manhattan, whichever came first. 

The View

The View

“Hello Mr. Cab driver.  Please don’t make me sick today.  Kthanx,” I said in a Tweet.  He didn’t listen.  Instead, he drove at breakneck speed through the barriers of time & space.  Somehow I managed to coerce him into dropping me off a block shy of the hotel, rather than sit in traffic and sneak up on the hotel a foot at the time (note: cabs DO NOT charge by the foot). 

1:47 pm: I am at the hotel!  YAY!  Here’s a few images from the 24th floor.  The ironic placement of McGraw Hill does not escape ME (though that is not entirely due to the publishing aspect, but because of sister Ali, who was convinced that Faith Hill & Tim McGraw had formed a business).

McGraw Hill

McGraw Hill Back for more later...So, an eventful end to the day. Here goes:2:24 pm: I wrote the words, "Back for more later..." and proceeded to flop on the bed & watch some of the Braves/Sox game. Completely useless info, but it made ME happy, so pfffbbbbbtttt!4:00 pm (or thereabouts): I make my way out onto 40th street, head over to 9th and walk the 5 blocks to 45th street to find The Tank, where I will be, as I've mentioned, the next two nights. I took this picture:The Tank

While I took this picture, I heard a tumble and groan to the left.  I turned and discovered that an elderly man–whose name I would discover was Billy–had lost his balance and fallen on the sidewalk.  I ran over to help him up, and with the assistance of another gentleman and one of Billy’s neighbors, helped escort him up the street to the entrance to his apartment.  He seemed to want to fall backward with every step, so it was quite the chore to get him there without him falling again.  So, there you go.  Welcome to The Tank.
 
 
 
 
 
 
4:50 pm: After wandering through Times Square, where I witnessed the most butts in the air ever at a Yoga gathering celebrating the Summer Solstice, I headed on a pizza hunt.  I wound up at Monetti’s Pizza, and partook.  While sitting there, enjoying MY pizza, a young couple (youngish?) passed by in order to pay for their grub.  This is the part of the conversation I heard.
Young Lady: “Am I overbearing?”
Young Man: (after a careful pause) “Well, yeah, sometimes.”
Young Lady: (takes this in with a nod) “Well, you know, I really think we need to get moving with things.”
Young Man: “What?”
Young Lady: “I mean, marriage.  You really need to propose to me.  We need to get married already.”
At this point, the guy looked over MY way, lowered his head (and his voice) and said something to the effect of: “We really don’t need to be talking about this here.”
Conversation WIN!  Pizza & Entertainment!  Well done Monetti’s!
 
5:00 pm:  I had the world’s biggest Caramel Mocha Frappuccio. 
It kills!

It kills!

It’s as big as the city!  And delicious!!! WOOOOOO!
5:30 to 6:45 pm: I wander through Central Park, where I see a whole many bunches of weird people, some bubble blowers, a photo shoot of a young girl that was beyond awkwardly dangerous and was just ultimately bizzarre, and accidentally ate an Oreo Ice Cream Bar. 
I have discovered, also, that though the majority of the pizzaria’s are five or more blocks from here, I will not be short of porn, should the need arise.  Apparently, there is an urgent need for porn and adult novelties on 40th street.  Should you ever be in NYC, and succumb to lonliness.  Or something.
Ok.  8:09 pm: I’m done with MY blog for the day.  Either Union Square and Battery Park tomorrow before the event, or Grand Central Station and the Public Library (I WANT TO SEE A GHOST DAMMIT!).  Either way, I’ll have more for you.