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Saturday, March 26, 2005

RB2: Return of Road Blog

Why is it that no one tells me anything (and that I have no sense of the geography of the greater NYC area)?

As indicated in "Road Blog 1," I buzzed through NYC early this week. I wasn't originally planning to be there this early in my road trip, but my sister and my cousin were there on Mon&Tues, so I squeezed in a quick couple of days with them before heading up toward Maine. I spent all day Wednesday at Ryan's place in Stamford, CT, and I'm just realizing now that (1) I was less than 30 minutes from Maureen's place, and (2) James might have been there, too.

Anyway, I had a great time with Rebecca. I got to see the beautiful Maine coast on a brilliantly sunny day, meet some of her friends, and find out just how hard law students party in Maine (sadly, there wasn't enough booty-shakin' to even register on the James-Lamb-0-meter).

Now I'm hanging out with Tarek and Dawn (and Oda Mae Von Bismarck) at the renowned "Casa Sultani." Tarek and I played some of our old E7 songs while the (amazing, varied, and delicious) home-made pizzas were cooking, and I'm looking forward to an Easter celebration here tomorrow. I'll be heading out to Ithaca on Wed, but now I'm worried I might miss J entirely, if he's still at Maureen's place. If he is, I hope he'll still be in NYC after April 12th, when I get back from the Bahamas.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Road Blog 1

The weather was beautiful in Minnesota ...until the day I got on the road to head for Chicago. Then the roads became icy, the wind started gusting, thick fog set in, and the snow began falling - hard. Remember that old flying-through-space screensaver? Did you ever turn the speed and number of stars all the way up? Yeah, that's pretty much the view through my windshield on Friday.

Got to Chicago - a little late, but in one piece - and went out for a midnight breakfast with Jon and Danny. Saturday, we saw "Cursed." Bad movie. Bad enough to be really fun; we loved it.

Sunday, I drove 11 hours on I-80 - all the way to New Jersey. Monday, I found out that it can be more tiring to cover 2 blocks of 5th Avenue than 750 miles of I-80 - I went shopping. My sister was visiting NYC from California and wanted to "make the most of it." I got some nice clothes in the process, but if I see another store full of European fashion, I think I'm going to hang myself with a stylish tie.

We met up with my cousin, Addie, too, and hung out in Central Park. Yes, we even did the ultra-touristy horse-drawn carriage ride.

Tuesday, my sister's friend Jalean came down from Connecticut to hang out with us. I drove Jalean back to New Haven last night, Addie's driving back to North Carolina, Sonja flew back to California this morning, and I'm in Stamford, Connecticut. My friend Ryan has an apartment here with, quite possibly, the most comfortable couch in the world.

I'm heading for Portland, Maine tomorrow to see Rebecca, and the weekend will find me at "Casa Sultani" in Boston.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Karlos Road Trip 2005

My contract ends on Friday, so I'm hitting the road. I'll be back in Minnesota in May, to either sign a new contract or become a bum. Meanwhile, here's the plan:

Mar 18 - drive to Chicago
Mar 20 - drive to NYC
Mar 22 - drive to Stamford, CT
Mar 23 - drive to Portland, ME
Mar 25 - drive to Boston
Mar 30 - drive to Ithaca, NY
Apr 6 - drive to NYC
Apr 7 - fly to Bahamas
Apr 12 - fly to NYC
Apr 24 - drive to Raleigh, NC
Apr 27 - drive to Chicago
May 1 - return to Minneapolis

I'll try to "road-blog" along the way (wouldn't want to disappoint either of my readers ;-).

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Aluminum Chef

Scrambled eggs, I've got covered. French toast, you'd better believe it. My grilled cheese rocks hard. Anything else had better come in a box or a can with directions on it.

I've always been able to mooch a home-cooked meal from somebody. In college, Jon's 6-can casserole, Jenn's dumplings, Tarek's steaks, and Nenad's pizza kept me well-fed (not to mention the semester I dated a bake-ophile ;-). I'm still mooching now; my aunt&uncle are spectacular cooks (he's a restaurant manager, and she grew up cooking for her 6 brothers), my friend Mark is a master of soul food, and, of course, I'm lucky to be living close to my parents' house - there's nothing quite like your own Mom's cooking.

At any given time, my house has peanut butter, jelly, and a loaf of bread that usually becomes something of a biological experiment before I even finish it. I'm too busy pillaging other people's homes for food; sometimes I wonder if my roommates even remember what I look like. It's working, for now, but if I ever want to leave Minnesota (without going on the "Super-Size Me" diet), I'd better learn to cook.

At least I'm not alone in my cooking-impairedness; my Dad shares my dazzling cooking repertoire. Once, when I was little, my Mom went on a trip with her choir, and left him to hold down the fort. My sister and I loved it; we had Burger King night, KFC night, french toast night, Burger King night again... mmm, good times!

Monday, March 07, 2005

I'm so full of it

I was just watching "Super Nanny" on TV - every week, they bring this lady into a different household, and she teaches the parents how to deal with their rotten kids. It reminded me of my own little adventures in parenting.

My aunt&uncle have four kids: Eric is 13, loves books and video games, and has always been a total space cadet - he's in his own world (my family tells me he's just the way I was at his age); Hannah, at 12, is the second mother of the household, taking care of everyone (including her big brother); Ariel is a sweet, rambunctious 8-year-old who shares her brother's love of books while retaining the ability to communicate with terrestrials; finally, Marina, at age 4, is the cutest little pain in the ass on the face of the earth.

A few months ago, my aunt&uncle took a weekend to get away while I stayed with the kids. Everything was going smoothly until bedtime. Marina decided that she wasn't having any of it - walking about the house crying seemed preferable to bed, and everytime I put her in bed, she came right back out. A few rounds in, I was walking out of her room and saw her getting out of bed to follow me out the door.

Now, I'm generally pretty easygoing with the kids - they're not mine, so I get to spoil them rotten and leave the discipline to their real parents - but I've got no patience for screaming and unnecessary crying. I turned around, and with as much authority as I could muster in my voice, said, "You don't have to stay in bed; sleep on the floor if you want to, but I'd better not see you out of this room again." I walked away and, safely out of earshot, broke down laughing at myself. What the hell did that mean? "I'd better not see you..." or what? There weren't any toys or candy involved that I could take away as punishment, and I've certainly never hit one of the kids. I was completely bluffing - I had nothing - but it worked; Marina went back to bed, and with a few plaintive whimpers, fell asleep.

It's a good thing kids don't know how little control we actually have. Raising kids is like being a sheepdog; if they stray too far, you can bark at them and hope it nudges them back in the right direction, but if they all started running in their own directions, you wouldn't have a prayer. The only saving grace is that they don't realize this ...at least, I hope they don't.

How about this weather?

Conversation with strangers, at this time of year, in Minnesota, is depressing. Hollow conversation, designed to kill the time and the tension in a waiting room or break a silent stare over a cash register while we wait for a server somewhere to approve a credit card transaction, is always a blast-and-a-half. This time of year, though, it's particularly bad. Why? Because 90% of such conversation is about the weather.

Yesterday, it was 60 degrees (Fahrenheit, that is; 16C for my canuck readers... er, reader) and sunny. Apparently, it was a fluke. The weather channel says we won't even see 40 again during the next two weeks. I made the most of the day - took my cousins to the park - but I still hate being toyed with like this, and it doesn't help that every clerk, co-worker, or fellow waiting-room occupant ends up talking about it.

I guess we talk about it because it's one thing we know we all have in common; the guy sitting next to you may not have read the book you're reading or seen the TV show you watched last night, but if he has a pulse, he's probably noticed the weather. There have got to be other topics, though. Pretty much everyone goes through the same basic set of medical checkups, vaccinations, etc. Maybe the next time I'm sitting next to another guy in a waiting room, I'll open with, "How about that turn-your-head-and-cough thing? I don't know about you, but I wish they'd warm up the latex gloves a little before diving into that one!" I can't wait until I reach 50 and have the mandatory testing for colon cancer. Anytime I end up chatting with another older gentleman, I'll gently segue away from the cold temperature oustide: "Speaking of uncomfortable, how did you like that colonoscopy? Whoo boy, is that a trip!"

Hey, it's gotta be better than another dang conversation about the weather.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Blog Inaug

Recently, I was digging through a box of old toys - slinkies, kazoos, silly putty; all those awesome things you just can't quite bring yourself to get rid of - and I came across an old journal. I remember receiving it as a gift from my great aunt when I was 8 years old; it was the summer my family moved from Palo Alto, California to Minneapolis. In the middle of Nebraska, even a pen and paper are a welcome distraction to an 8-year-old, so in the first few pages of the journal, I had left an eloquent account of the "stuff" that had transpired that week, including any notably "rad" or "yucky" details.

Turning the page of that little journal, the next entry, dated several years later, reads, "I've decided to start writing in this journal again."

The next page is blank.

So it is with great optimism that I christen this blog.