Friday, May 25


Chicago – AmTrak
Ever travel across the country on a train? Nah, me either. Really who in this century would consider a bumpy train ride for 20 hours when you can simply get onto an airplane and end up on the other coast in less than 6 hours? Well, freaks like me would definitely do something like that. Indeed, I jumped the train in Albany, NY – slightly out of the way considering it took me a few hours to get to the station – and ended up in Chicago, Ill. Yes, the Windy City, or is it the City of Brotherly Love? I forget, but I am here sitting on my ass waiting for my “connection” to St. Louis, MO. Honestly, I do not even have a clue what the motto of St. Louis, MO is, but I imagine it’s rich in some midwester dialogue.
So the train…yes, it is just as one might imagine it, except there are some fun extra perks and minor inconviences. Let me start with the beginning and work my way though to this waiting room.
I arrive in Albany around 5:30 p.m. which is 1.5 hours earlier than my scheduled departure. Being slightly used to the strip search NSA airport model I was mildly nervous that I would be too late – of course this is coming from the boy that arrived only 15 minutes prior to his last flight and still managed to get on the plan – but I wasn’t. In fact I had tons of time to chill out, drink coffee, do the People magazine crossword puzzle and wish I was later than in reality. The good news was that I could board earlier than expected, so that was sweet. I had to walk all the way to the front of the train where my sleeper car sat on the tracks. Yes, I ordered up the sleeper car, not the delux bedroom rather the standard sleeper with two cots, a sink, a toilet and a nearby shower.
The sleeper is pretty swank and comes with my very own timeshared steward. He could do all my dirty work for me like lowering the bunk and brewing me coffee. As it turns out I received free meals because I paid extra for the sleeper. Not a bad perk considering I would probably spend about $30 on food while aboard. I quickly called my mom and Gene telling them about the exciting “room.” I had to pee, but I wasn’t ready for that scary thing quite yet. First I needed to eat and drink some Jack. So off I went to the dining cart.
The dining cart was actually nicer than some chain restaurants I have eaten at in the past few years. There was silverware (no longer allowed on planes), a table cloth and an actual menu with options. Plus it had something that airlines long since lost – human interaction. Strangers sitting together at a table talking about their trip, their lives and whatever else they felt comfortable discussing with each other. I even tried my hand at stranger interaction with my tablemate a middle aged black woman who was off to Chicago to take care of a newborn child. She told me about her trip to Israel and suggested I go there sometime. “It is especially poignant if you are a student of the bible,” she said. Oddly enough these were essentially her last words to me – either she noticed I ordered a Jack and Coke or she noticed I did not bow my head in prayer before ravenously devouring my cheese ravioli.
Feeling slightly giddy from the Jack I went back to the room. Now I had to use the toilet which was conviently located next to my bed… After fighting with the stupid curtain that was my only privacy from the hallway and while humming gently to mask the sounds of people walking not 2 inches from my bathroom sanctuary I managed to pee. Excellent. This sleeper room is officially mine. I played on my computer a bit and decided it was time to hit the hay. Plus that overhead pulldown bed thing was really calling my name. What an adventure.
Okay, I lasted about 5 minutes in the cot from hell. Really it seems cool, but it isn’t at all. It is tiny and every time the train takes a corner I felt my body lunge towards the edge and the fall that certainly would result in pain. Anyone who knows me knows that I am the most fitfull sleeper on the earth. I roll, kick, talk, snore, stand, dance and sing in my sleep. A 18 inch wide cot was not going to save me from a 5 foot fall to a broken leg. So I make the chairs into a bed, pull down the other bedroll and settle in for the night. I slept. I woke up somewhere in Illinous to scenes of horses in fields and pototoe (hee hee hee) farmers.
Realizing that sleep was not going to be an option I decided to get coffee, take a trucker shower and hang out a bit longer. Trucker shower didn’t cut it because I knew that while in coach I would probably start to smell. So off to the shower room… Ever take a shower on a moving object? You know, get all soapy, wet and then thrown against the walls? It is just as much fun as it sounds, and it gets even better when the hot water dies midshower. But at least I got clean and my bodily odors will not offend any neighbors in the coach sardine can trip from Chicago to St. Louis.
Amazingly enough I even have cell service. Excellent cell service. There I was halfway across the country with nothing I would call civilization around me and for some reason I am rocking 5 bars. So I spend the next few hours on my phone, doing crossword puzzles and eating my free breakfast. The train rocks.

Thursday, May 10

the most embarassing date of my life

tonight i had a date. actually it is my third date with a nice southern boy in law school. i was excited about the date, and not because of the slightly explicit text messages sent on the car ride back from montreal last week, but because this boy is great.

so i prepare for the date...sort of. i took a nap in my underwear and tee shirt in front of two fans with my cat because vermont suddenly decided to go through an identity crisis and become the desert or something. then i dressed in a great cute outfit of cords, flip flops and a casual, yet dressy, sweater which i bought yesterday for six dollars. i drive to montpelier. we selected montpelier because it is equodistant from both our homes. and we picked a nice restaurant which i will never be able to go to again.

things are going great. i arrive early. grab a seat at the bar, order a beer, listen in on my neighbors conversation and play on my cell phone. my date arrives and we get shown to the back of the restaurant to a nice table for two. i choose the seat where i was facing out - mistake one. we chat. he tells me horrible date stories. i tell him i do not have any, which was still true up to that point. we continue with conversation and i notice a slight tickle in my throat. "well there is nothing more soothing than a sip of beer," i internally boast. right - mistake two.

the microsecond that fuzzy shit hits the back of my throat i cough. and not a nice gentle beer spilling onto my lap cough - no - i make the mistake of trying to hold it in. this causes the beer to shoot through my pursed lips and go directly into my dates face, the guy sitting behind him's meal and the guy sitting adejacent to me side. beer became my enemy. i immediately turn four hundred shades of red and start sweating like a monsoon in thailand. seriously the shit is pooring off of me. i immediately apologize to everyone around me offering to buy them anything. internally i just want to run. run like forest gump who obviously was more intelligent than i could ever dream of being.

what do you do? dying simply was not an option as my heart decided that it also wanted to join my throat in tormenting me. the butter knives are dull. the table is too small to hide behind. there is no escape and less of a chance of saving face.

amazingly my date laughs this all off. probably because he also ran the odds and could find no way out. the date continues. i recover slowly only to be constantly reminded by the snide comments of the jerk sitting behind my date. i look at my fork and imagine it sticking out of his neck after he makes some mocking gay gesture (apparently after major public embarassment my tolerance for ignorance and gay bashing is low). finally he leaves.

"i can salvage this night the best way i know how," my brain tells me. "i'll pay for dinner," my mouth tells my date. all is good. this too can be forgiven by simply throwing money at it. at least i am classy enough to pay for dinner after i spew beer all over his face. i hand my card to the waitress. she returns without the slip. apparently after two failed attempts to run my card she gave up. i of course have no other form of payment. apparently god hates me.

my date pays.

Tuesday, May 8

weddings - what's all the hub-bub or life plans part three

so it seems to be the year of the wedding. in fact, i never had so many friends get married within a one year span in my life. seriously. perhaps it is just because i am at that age when everyone gets married - everyone who had a life plan that did not explode in their face. or, a less bitter approach, perhaps their life plan did explode in their face but it ended in marriage.

my life plan involved getting married rather quickly. i made this plan at the ripe old age of ten, because, really, what ten year old boy doesn't sit down with his sister's barbie dolls and dream of his wedding? i grew envious as i watched barbie walk down the aisle to the music of madonna's like a virgin. ken, pantless next to skipper the pastor, waited anxiously for his soon to be bride. marital bliss filled the wall to wall carpeting of the living room and after a resounding kiss they lived happily ever after. so my plan was simple - married at 21, children around 25 and continue being the joy of life until death. sounds simple right?

i attended college. you know that story already. well, you do not know the part where i flunked out, moved back home for six months, got a job offer from the american red cross where i did my work study, moved back to burlington, lived with a crazy woman, met this great girl named maura, went to a party and met gene. there you go. six months and three very major life events in one run one sentence - readers digest would be proud. anyway, there was gene day sitting on a couch. he seemed to be the only normal boy around, well not quite a "boy" but at least in his twenties, even if we are talking late twenties. he was kind, sarcastic, intelligent, employed, funny and reasonably attractive. i was young, slightly drunk and willing to give it a try. we connected in a bibical way, but there was something else there at the same time. a feeling that i had which i had not experienced before as strongly as i was experiencing it then. we connected on a different level. a few months later while drinking profusely at the local gay dive we coined the phrase "you're my favorite" mostly because i thought it was too weird to actually say i love you - or at least while he was awake.

life continued. we had a number of bumps in the relationship but over all i still loved him. we bought a house. we survived a near death experience for me. i finished college. i got a "real job." then the trouble started. for some reason we just were not happy with each other, but we still loved each other. i knew that i had failed. i knew that the future i had planned for him and me was completely gone by the wayside and that i would have to start completely over again.

how could i have failed? what did i do wrong? what did he do wrong? could one of us had saved the relationship through some effort? technically (after a fair amount of therapy) we were not the failure. i believe the line goes something like, "the relationship failed on its own, not as the result of any one party or their actions." apparently, unbeknownst to the little boy planning his wedding with his sister's barbies, that relationships are fluid and it only takes one small diversion to move the relationship away from its intended future. gene and i, although still the best of friends, could no longer be in a relationship together because our goals did not mesh. so, all my friends, were they that unlucky?

obviously not. somehow all these folks got to their goal. their relationships worked. lucky for me though at each wedding there was at least one person who was like me. someone else to talk to about the ridiculous of relationships and the work involved to maintain them. someone else who just hadn't healed the burns of past relationships regardless of the drugs and therapy they underwent. someone else who laughed at the divorce jokes or mentioned the divorce rate during the speeches. we formed a club.