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Talk of the Town

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

Apparently I stirred up quite a bit of exictement about my trip while sashaying around West Palm Beach, Florida earlier this week.

The folks in West Palm are talking, and here are a couple examples of what they’re saying;

Interview 1.MP3

Interview 2.MP3

Here’s a picture with my 88 year old gram, Rosina, 

Gram and I.JPG

and here’s a visual interpretation of what my Aunt’s cat Tasha thinks about my trip.

(Rob and Marsh; photo is of Tasha getting ready to take a dump/wee in her litter box, basically saying, “Piss on it!” 😉 )

Piss On It.JPG

Planes, Strains and Starbucks Attendants

Friday, April 21st, 2006

If the parking prices weren’t so high at Detroit Metro Airport, then one might never know that they’re in a first-world country; things are so dismally spartan (apart from the spankin’ new Northwest terminal, that is) both inside and out that I always expect to see a buncha chickens running around whenever I’m dumped off.

(The photo below was taken while waiting at the gate, and as you can see, it’s nothing special either.)

P1010001.JPG

Instead of dodging chickens, however, I dodged cigarrette butts on the ground and an overly made up woman blathering into a cell phone who, with a sweep of her hand, nearly impaled me with her terrifying, perfectly-manicured fingernails. Shudder.

[read on]

–Breaking News–

Friday, April 21st, 2006

I hate to admit this, but I found out my last day of work that I’m a total chick. Yes, yes I know people, I’m as shocked as anyone, but here’s how it transpired…

The day started like any other with my walk to work.

“Hey, yoo got fiddy cent?” a new street bum that I’d not seen before asked as I passed him.

“Well, shit!” I reply. “Does that mean you don’t have the dollah I was gonna try and bum off you?”

[read on]

Voice of the Past

Thursday, April 20th, 2006

I looked at my clock at 8am this morning, and for the first time in years, I’d already been to bed and was getting up instead of just going to sleep.  I stumbled downstairs, made some coffee, spilled coffee on my way back upstairs (spilling on my way back upstairs is a ritual I can’t seem to shake), and decided to call my mom to stun her. 

When she picked up the phone I said, “Hi, it’s your daughter!”

Stun her did, as I’m not really sure she believed it was me at first.  She asked if I was trying to give her a heart attack, and I said well, uh, yeah. 

I have a flight to catch to Charlotte later this afternoon, see, and so I actually got to bed early last night and hit the hay at 2:30am. 

After my second cuppa coffee I drove to the bank, and I realized the great ball of fire in the sky was in the wrong position for my usual morning.  This time of day felt odd, and it reminded me of when I’d lived in Charlotte after my last trip; I took a job in an office working in a cubicle, and I commuted to work and had to be there by nine am.

With the same odd postition of the sun this morning I had to laugh as my dad’s words–uttered after he’d learned that not only was I a day person in an office, but that I’d started investing in the stock market as well–flashed through my head…

“Who are you, and what did you do with my real daughter?”  

Indeed; I was packed, showered and ready to roll an hour before I needed to be.  I’ll tell ya though; whoever it was that broke in my house and stole my procrastination is in for a very big surprise…  

The Great Miracle

Tuesday, April 18th, 2006

I do believe that I’ve passed to the next level of enlightenment, as last night I performed a real miracle (and before the discerning tongues of Ypsi roll out a collective carpet of drool I have to apologize; hard as I tried, I wasn’t able to turn the Huron River water into beer).

This is big, people, and I mean real BIG; I was able to actually transfer songs to my computer from cds and then transfer them to this tiny little thing called an MP3 player! And before anyone scoops me on this, I also hear that there are now these walkie-talkie-like things called cell phones, and with these little gadgets you can communicate with other humans via satellite!

I’m marking my calendar so that next year on this momentous day I can celebrate The Great Miracle of Aural Fuel.

Twenty days until I leave for China, and because it’s my last shift at work and I’m farting around, only six minutes left until I’m more than a half-hour late to get to TC’s…I’ll at least be there to open the doors on time…maybe…

Numbers Game

Friday, April 14th, 2006

25 days until I leave for China

17 days until my going-away party at TC’s with City Goat (Monday, May 1st)

16 days until a night out on the town with the girls (and Scooter the door guy) from work

15 days until my first official going-away party at TC’s (Saturday, April 29th)

14 days until the going-away party at Keith and Bec’s for Ig and myself

13 days until I return from West Palm

10 days until my brother Jay’s birthday

9 days until I depart Charlotte for West Palm

6 days until I leave for Charlotte

5 days until my last day of playing bingo (how do you say, “Where’s the nearest mahjong parlor?” in Mandarin?) and the day I have to be out of my house

4 days until my last day of work and my friend Jeff’s birthday

2 days until I find out if I’ll be visited by just the Easter Bunny, or if the yin to his yang, the Easter Warthog, will show up with him (What?  Your parents never told you about the Easter Warthog?  I’ll bet they kept you in the dark about the Thanksgiving Eagle as well then, eh?  Well, stay in the dark no longer folks; if you’ve been mischievous the previous year then the Thanksgiving Eagle will swoop past your house and take a dump on your bedroom window, leaving you a marked man for all the world to see.  I honestly can’t remember what the Easter Warthog does, but I’m positive that it’s something along the lines of him belching/drooling on your Easter candy if you’d been bad, or that he snoozes under your bed constantly flatuating if you’ve not been good about cleaning your room…oy, crap, I have some last minute cleaning to do…) 

1 day has passed since I last fudged something up; even though I marked it on my calendar, I didn’t remember until last night at work around 1am that I was ‘sposed to call my cousin Kyle to wish him a happy birthday; sorry, boo!  Happy birthday and I love you! 

4 days have passed since my procrastination finally caught up with me; I purchased my flight, but since I waited so long I couldn’t get one on May 6th when Ig leaves.  Earliest out was on the 8th, and so Ig will be wandering Beijing for a couple days before me…sorry, brotha! 

12 hours have passed since declaring at work, “Four more shifts and then I won’t be working for an entire year!”

WOOT-WOOT!  

 

Showdown With The Sunoco Sage

Tuesday, April 11th, 2006

Shrouded by the dark night, my trusty steed Charlie the Wonder Car and I crept along towards one of Ypsi’s 24 hr gas stations.  Aside from the howling wind, barely a sound was heard as I watched a couple tumble weeds roll down the sides of the road.  Ok, so maybe they were discarded fast food bags/ghettoized tumble weeds.  I really couldn’t be sure, as I was on a mission and concentrating on the task at hand; Doritos, Cheetos or Pringles?  And then; to dip or not to dip, that was the real question.

I swaggered in to find the same attendant who’s always there for my late-night foraging.  When I have a need for feed, he’s always there with a need to try and make me change my heathen ways by imparting his Sage-like wisdom on me.  The last time I was in he chastised me for indulging in a bag of Doritos, and gave me a nice long lecture about the merits of fruits and vegetables.  The time before that I was advised that I shouldn’t be working in a bar, and well before that he told me my car was a piece of shit and that I shouldn’t be driving it.

The attendant eyed me as I shuffled from junk food rack to junk food rack.  I knew he was silently willing me to move up to the table of fruit to make a selection, but unbeknownst to him, Chester already had a lock on me, and unable to resist, I grabbed a bag of Cheetos and a tub of french onion dip.   

“You not working tonight?” he said after I’d paid.

“Nope,” I reply.  “As a matter of fact, I have less than a week left of work and then I’m done.”

“Done?  Whatchyoo gon’ do?”

I share my plans for hiking the Wall, and with this news he could contain himself no longer.  Eyes afire, he unlocked the door and steped from behind the bullet-proof glass.  This wasn’t the first time he’d stepped outside his protective corral to lecture me, but it was the first time he came at me with both guns a shootin’.

“You no eat junk food for this!” he barked.  “You must to eat froo-its and vegetables!  You must work and exercise very much!”

“Well,” I said with a smile, “just because I eat junk food every once in a while doesn’t mean that I don’t work ou–”

My meek retort was stopped short by the attendant, just as always.  To be honest, I’ve never been able to tell if he’s impatient to enlighten me with father-like advice or if he thinks I’m just a gluttonous, silly little girl ingesting the wrong sorts of snacks.

“The mountains, they are hard!  You must run the stairs, you must–”

“I do run stairs, and I work out.”

“No, no, you don’t understand!  You must build up these parts!” he says as he lifts his pant leg to show me his skinny calf.

“I’ll be fine, don’t worry about me!” I laughed.

“And the money!  It takes a lot of money!  I know, I travel!”

“I have plenty saved, really.”

“More than five thousand, maybe TEN!” he declared with a lift of his chin.

“That’s fine,” I said, “I have more than ten saved.”

“Well, that’s good,” he said, pausing until he could come up with something else.  “But you’re still young.”

“I’m 37, so yeah, I’m still young.”

He eyed me suspisciously until barking, “But you must know the languages!  You can’t just–”

“I speak Mandarin,” I lied, opting not to show off what little I actually do know by asking him back to my place for a drink. 

“And your family?  What about your family?!” he scolded.

“Oh, I have a lovely family.  That’s why I always come back to Yps–”

His rapid-fire questioning and advice seemed unstopable, and I began to wonder if I’d get out unscathed. 

“I mean your children!  Don’t you have children?!”

“No, I don’t.”

At this point he looked so shocked that I had to wonder if every inch of my facial skin had jumped to it’s death and landed on the floor in a bloody mask.

“Oh,” he said, the fire doused from his eyes.

Another customer strolled in and so he trudged back to his corral.  Before locking himself back in he glanced over his shoulder and said, “Well, you have good time.”

Guns back in their holsters (or at least a bag of Cheetos dangling at my side), I happily rode off in the dark of night in my piece of shit car.
 

My Spiffy New Pad

Sunday, April 9th, 2006

Between the uncooperative weather and my busy schedule I hadn’t yet had a chance to practice setting up my new digs in my yard.  With the sun shining and our veritable 54 degree heat wave today, the first thing I did (well, after copping my coffee fix, that is) after returning home from last night’s going-away party at my cousin’s was put up my REI Roadster tent.

The set-up was extremely easy, and I stood gleaming down at my new digs as if I’d created it outta thin air myself. 

It was then I realized if I was gonna use the Pimsleur approach (see previous post), then I’d better give the new digs a test run, so I ran inside and obtained the proper provisions.

(Rob and Marsh; 1st photo is of my new tent set up in my yard with the rainfly open so you can see the two martini glasses and shaker sitting inside.  It’s a tiny tent–hence the total weight being only 2 lbs, 6 ounces–with room enough for myself and maybe a split hair or two.  With scarce room inside, my pack will sit outside the tent but under the rainfly.  The second photo is a close-up of the glasses and shaker, which in reference to size, show there’s not much room at all.) 

                         My New Pad.JPG                         Happy Hour at the New Pad.JPG

So I’m thinkin’ that I may not be inviting many people back to my place for a drink or throwing too many coctail parties at my new digs after all… 

Pimsleur for Prostitutes and Pimps??

Saturday, April 8th, 2006

In a valiant effort to aid me in learning Mandarin, my friend Chuck got me the Pimsleur Mandarin language program.   

From what I’ve learned so far, however, I’ve come to believe that Pimsluer might’ve written the program with a certain genre of folks in mind, and I’m not talkin’ the naive, wide-eyed tourist type.  Here are some of the things I’ve learned to say:

“I would like to drink beer!” (Sir Pimsleur didn’t teach me “beer”, it’s just a word that stuck with me after using it so many times while living in Taiwan.)

“Would you like to go to my place to drink?”

“My place or yours?”

“Now!!”

And unfortunately, when I try and ask “When/what is the time?” in Mandarin, I mangle it so bad it sounds like I’m demanding that you “Show me yer ho”. 

Of course, these little gems have provided my friend Kristy with flashcards-full-o-fun; plucking certain cards from the deck has enabled her to come up with some pretty comical practice questions and scenarios.  

Now, if there’s a pattern to this Pimpsleur, then I’m confident I’ll be able to say “Twenty bucks” and “Show me the money” by the next time I post. 

Recipe for Pre-Trip Projectile

Tuesday, April 4th, 2006

As I stood staring out my kitchen window waiting for my coffee to finish brewing yesterday, the howling wind and pounding rain seemed to be a heavy foreshadowing of the storm I’ll have to weather before I even leave.  My head started to spin at the thought, and I felt as if I was gonna spew the same split pea-colored soup as Linda Blair did in The Exorcist. 

This week started with a going away party for my roommate Sarah, who obtained a job with Americorps and will be heading to New Orleans on the 9th.  Tonight there’s a going away party for me in Royal Oak, where I’ll be able to hang out with some old, rarely-seen college friends.  Thursday is my father’s birthday, and Saturday a group of my lunatic cousins on my mom’s side are having a send-off party for me. 

Next week will be spent packing up my belongings and trying to coordinate lunch or dinner with several people.  And oh yeah, working all week as well.

My last day of work is the 18th, I have to be completely out of my house by the 19th, as I leave for West Palm and Charlotte on the 20th. 

I return home on the 27th and Ig, who’s living in Naples, Florida, returns to Michigan on the 28th (if you don’t already know, Ig’s the Clyde to my Bonnie, the beer to my smokes, and will be my partner in making cultural faux pas and mangling Mandarin all across China).  The night of the 28th there’s a going away party for Ig and I at a friend’s house, and the 29th is my going away party at TC’s Speakeasy.

Monday the 1st is yet another going-away party, the 2nd and 3rd I’ll hang out with me mum, the 4th and 5th will be spent hanging with me dad, and I’m then I’m outta here on the 6th.

At some point my roommates and I will have to find time to have a party at The Sock.  The Sock, you see, is our house, and quite a few people have requested that we have a farewell party for The Sock itself.  If only my friend Christine could take over the house (otherwise I have to be out by the 23rd), then we could have Thanksgiving at The Sock a week earlier than the traditional first Sunday of May.  That’s right, I said Thanksgiving the first Sunday of May; we do things a little differently here at The Sock. 

Aside from all the social events I have to keep working out, hiking and learning Mandarin.  I also have to learn to use a few new technical gadgets, and I know this is gonna take a good chunk of time.  I mean, I have problems even getting a new roll of toilet paper on the dispenser, for god’s sake. 

Add on all the bits n bobs from my pre-trip to-do list, and I’m tellin’ ya, that 1,800 mile hike is lookin’ like blissful, harmonious cheesecake…