In a flash, all your friends are gone.
One second they were there, all of them, and now you fucked up and vamoose, no more friends.
But that's only if you're a dumbass like me and just deleted your entire AIM buddy list. Fuckity fuck shit fuck. I must've been working on that thing for years. It was a finally attuned list of people I'd need access to at any given time for any number of reasons. People who are good reference sources. People who know if something's going on tonight. People who know if stuff is due tommorrow. People to whom I can tell my deepest, darkest secrets. People who are Alecia, which is just kind of a reason in itself.
I thought I was deleting just one person, someone I don't remember why I added them in the first place, don't even remember who they are, and I didn't stop to read the box that said "ARE YOU REALLY SURE YOU WANT TO DELETE EVERY SINGLE SCREENNAME HERE, DUMBASS? IS THAT REALLY WHAT YOU WANT?" and click, anyone categorized under the incredibly specific and elite heading of "Buddies" was gone. "Co-workers" is still there. And still empty as the day I downloaded AIM all those many years ago.
Maybe someone's telling me something. Maybe this is my chance to turn over a new life. Start anew. Only after disaster can we be reborn...like that movie with Ed Norton and Brad Pitt. You know. 3 Ninjas: High Noon At Mega Mountain, I believe it was called. Now's a once in a lifetime opportunity to re-evaluate who really matters to me. Gone are the petty aquaintances and superficial "friends." In their place, my true blue compadres, and any petty aquaintance that has given me five bucks in exchange for a spot on the exclusive list of people I need to be able to send text and emoticons to instantaneously, day or night.
Or maybe someone's telling me I need to go to bed.
Yes, that could be it.
Semi-related 3 Ninjas note: No matter what the gender of my future children, I am naming them Rocky, Colt, and Tum Tum. Any babymother that disagrees with me had best to get her head right before she winds up in divorce court.
Strained metaphor time.
Once upon a time there was a little boat. Actually, in the beginning, it wasn't a boat. It was just lumber and nails and cloth sitting on the dock. But over time, with much hard work and carpentering skills, it began to take shape, and look like something resembling a seafaring vessel.
All day, while under construction, the little boat would watch the bigger boats head out to sea. It looked dangerous out there. They'd get battered by waves, strewn on jagged rocks. Some would come back with sails torn and rudders dashed. Others wouldn't come back at all. But the little boat knew that as long as he was in the harbor, being built, he'd be safe from all those things.
Boat-building takes a long time, but the days of watching the other boats unfurl their sails and head out seemed to get shorter and shorter. The sun would disappear into the distant ocean horizon more frequently than it ever had. The little boat was almost ready. It was freshly painted, its sails were hung, the crew was boarding.
One older boat said, "Can you believe you're about to graduate from high school, little boat?"
And the little boat said, "Fuck no."
One problem I have is stealing the focus.
When other people are getting attention, I want attention too.
But sometimes you just have to give credit where credit is due, and let the spotlight shine where it should, and right now its luminous diameter should be just big enough to fit in Hosemonster and a man I'm very proud to call friend, Guillermo.
They are, as they say in the hip-hop community, killin' it. And we're all very lucky people to have their writing just a click away.
See, this is how brain dead I am.
On the last episode of London, I said that we went back to the hotel to sleep, 'cause my memory was foggy. Alecia was kind enough to correct me. Now I remember the gut-wrenching debate: Go to sleep, or go out and wander aimlessly after dark. To the best of my recollection (which has already proven itself incredibly unreliable) Matt and Jack opted for sleep, and me, Alecia, Ashley and Tim asked how often are we young and in London, and after several seconds of silent contemplation, came up with the answer, "not often enough to waste a whole evening on shuteye."
So we hit the pavement.
Long story short: We took a bus and didn't pay, tried to get into a club but couldn't, and walked back home. Had this taken place in Tukee, it would've been a painfully lame evening. But this was London, and as a result, public transportation and bouncer rejection were a tremendous adventure. Like everything that happens thousands of miles from home.
Good morning, London, deserted at 8:30 Sunday morning as we walked to the nearest store to get milk.
Good morning, Astor Court Hotel.
Good morning, inferior breakfast pastries that greeted us upon our return that I still had three of because hey, it's vacation.
We converged in the lobby at nine to board a bus to the town of Windsor, containing the conveniently named Windsor Castle. Rob took a backseat as tour guide for this part. This leg of the journey was presided over by an older woman who's name I don't remember. What I do remember, though, is that she had a wealth of knowledge around the scenery whizzing past the windows, and how that knowledge related to the patent inferiority of America and its people.
We past some boarded-up rowhouses lining the highway. "In such-and-such a year," she said, replacing, of course, the such-and-such with an actual year, "the British government decided to halt the expansion of London and widen the roadways, so people were moved out of houses like those and they were condemned. Then a new government came in and decided to put a stop to that program, and now we're going to spend that money on a war, then, aren't we?"
Obvioulsy someone is not a Blair booster.
Later on the road to Windsor, when things were getting more and more rural, we past some cows. "Those are cows," she said, because we were paying her lots of money for just that sort of insight. "Here in England we drink creamy whole milk, not that watery skimmy stuff like you bloody Yanks." Okay, she didn't addend it with "You bloody Yanks." But I read between the lines. Thanks to this woman's incisive political commentary, I promised myself that as soon as I return home to the states I'd make it my mission to reverse our imperialist foreign policy that so hampers British road construction and perhaps more importantly, our pansy-ass dairy consumption habits.
Other than that, she was really good.
Then it was like, hey, look, a castle.
A castle not built by chewing-gum millionaires or theme park magnates, but a real-life castle, built so many years ago by people who actually needed the things a real-life castle provides. Like slits in the stone walls where your archers can loose their arrows and be protected from enemy fire, and vaulted ceilings encrusted with gold, and throne rooms. Actual fucking throne rooms, with thrones.
Monarchy: what a concept!
There's a thing I think she said was called the Long Walk, a path that stretches up to the castle door that cars aren't allowed on. And rightfully so, I think. The way it is now, you can still imagine a lone, ragged knight riding up the path, carrying a message, his coming heralded by, well, heralds, with trumpet fanfares and everything.
The thing about London is, you can be a nerd like me and imagine this stuff, and chances are something a lot like it actually happened. History has to be their number one export.
Monarchy was in the air, in the water, and in the waterfoul.
Good morning, Queen's official Royal Swans, tampering with whom will get your hand cut off and fed to the remaining swans, or so I understood.
We value our hands a lot, so we just fed the Royal Swans the finest bread we had available and used "Sir" or "Madam" when addressing them, speaking only when honked at.
I stayed behind near the river to get a few more pictures (story of the trip) while everyone else made their way towards the castle via a footbridge. When I finally got up there, everyone was pointing and staring amazedly. Apparently, Martha Stewart had just passed by. Tim's mom said "Hi" to her and she gave a very friendly "Hello" back. I rewarded Martha for her compsure by chasing after her to get a picture.
Good morning, embattled media icon, homemaker tycoon, and accused stock market swindler Martha Stewart.
I have to say, for the first celebrity photo cameo here on HFT, I was less than impressed by Martha's showing. A little kid and a old guy with a lame scarf who resembles the "I lost my marbles" guy in Hook: what a lame posse you roll with, Martha. I couldn't even tell which one was her hype man.
Windsor Castle is surrounded by shops. Restaurants, souvenir stores, mostly tourist type stuff, and I found myself wondering whether the marauding enemy troops hid out in Burger King or McDonald's before storming the gates. Made me wonder at what point my imperial military strongholds will become nothing more than tourist attractions. Our guide took us around the entire thing, and left us at the entrance, telling us where to meet her and when, and what exit would take us there the quickest. Then she disappeared to wherever it is frumpy tourguides go when they're not begrudgingly leading around groups of rowdy Colonials, and left us alone with the Queen's sometime residence.
Did this mean she was in? I didn't have the heart to ask. I tried to cut down on the swearing and smoking once inside the walls, you know, just in case.
I heard one or two Alaska kids say how much it looked like Hogwarts, and while I have to admit the resemblance occured to me I was glad they were the ones to say it, so I could continue looking down my nose at them. "They're our forty-ninth state," I wanted to assure the UK citizenry. "You can see why we waited so long."
I thought my job sucked. These guys march into place, stand perfectly still for four hours, then march back inside. Either they are the most Zen, one-with-the-universe people in existence or no one in England has a richer sexual fantasy life. I'm going to go with a little of both.
We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the castle, suffice to say there was a lot more of that imagining history unfolding all around you stuff. Vaulted ceilings. Coats of arms. Suits of armor. A wall full of dueling muskets, making me wonder how many guys in buckled shoes and powdered wigs each one had claimed in scuffles over honor and dames.
Matt said it was too nice to be real, he felt like he was at Universal Studios. I agreed.
Tim said it would be fun to play paintball in. I wondered how many British teenagers fantasize about playing soccer on the South Lawn of the White House. Then I agreed.
Then we were outside, walking towards where the tour guide told us to exit. It was at the bottom of a steep cobblestone incline. I forgot to mention how many things there are to trip on in England. America is one nice big flat walking surface compared to the bumpy jutting terrain the UK seems to be composed entirely of. I almost tripped every other step.
We got to the bottom of the hill, to the gate. It was fenced off and full of cops. They scolded a couple who tried to go in ahead of us. It looked like we'd have to take the long way.
I only mention this because on the way back up, Jack offered to give Katie a piggy-back ride, since we were all whining about the walk. Must have been all the old past-expiration-date chivalry in the air. Well, she hopped on, this girl weighing...well, I won't say, because I'll guesstimate wrong and word will get back to her and she'll think I think she's a cow. She weighs about the same as a medium-sized kitten. Maybe a kitten and a half. So she hops on, and before he even takes a step, Jack groans and folds like a shitty house of shitty cards. They tumble. Hilarious.
One: The drinks are tiny, and completely lacking in ice
and Two: The wait staff barely speaks English, and if they do, they still don't have much of an interest in satisfactory customer service
This is one point where I'm going to be completely culturally insensitive, discard multicultural relativity, and plant Old Glory in this motherfucker: When it comes to service, America is just plain superior. The price is lower. The portions are bigger. Unlike British food (I'm not just talking traditional British fare, I'm talking everything over there on a plate) the food doesn't taste like it just had the soul bludgeoned out of it at Flavor Re-education Camp. The Italian restaurants don't serve you a stupid little upturned Don Quijote helmet of spaghetti unfit even for Chef Boyardee and charge you seven pounds (mostly 'cause they don't use pounds.) Call me an imperialist unilateral cowboy if you must, but I would've taken the Olive Garden any day.
"So, is this a family-owned restaurant?" said Tim to our waitress, trying to make conversation. She gave him the foot-stuck-in-the-tracks-oncoming-train look, gestured strangely, and said, "Ehhh." Fair enough, ESL waitress. Fair enough.
Needless to say, we stopped at the Windsor Burger King on the way back to the bus for a little liquid reminder of home.
From the mountains...to the prairies...to the oceans...white with foam...
Good afternoon, hat I found on the ground on the way back to the bus and promptly discarded.
Good afternoon, field where, from what I gathered, the Magna Carta was signed. Like I said, history everywhere. Here's the place where a lot of people agreed that human freedom was important enough to put down on paper, and then have everybody agree to abide by it, and then keep that agreement. The noise they made here echos in the Constitution. When the tour guide pointed out this field, there were a couple of boys out in it, kicking a soccer ball around, and playing with their dog. A high watermark for government by the people, for the people. Now the people play soccer on it. That made me smile.
We spent the rest of the afternoon on the bus, looking at the historical sights we wouldn't have time to see individually.
We followed Rob's bald spot all over the place.
All the way to Tandoori Nights.
There, I was reviewing my pictures, and the waiter crept up behind me just as I was on this one:
"'No War,'" he said. "That is right. Your Bush is mad." Let it be said that you can say pretty much whatever you want about my country and my president, so long as you keep bringing me delicious Indian food. And he was. So criticize away, Sanjay old boy.
There was still no ice in the drinks, but some things we just have to forgive.
I forgive you, Sanjay. You're alright.
Alecia didn't eat her Indian food. But she did spend twelve pounds. The legal drinking age is 18. I'll let you guess the rest.
Goodnight, London, which at this point I really never wanted to leave.
Probably won't blog the next installment of London tonight, 'cause I'm six kinds of beat. But thanks for anyone who's read the first two painfully long episodes and left kind notes, especially Londoner Pete, to whom my cultural ignorance and insensitivity were a beacon, allowing him refocus the parts of his hometown he takes for granted.
You know what's cool? I don't have to go to school tommorrow.
You know what else is cool, that I just realized? How Anti has a picture to go with everybody on his blogroll. It's the dude's own webpage and he's sharing it with all our ugly mugs. That's awesome. Cheers, pally.
London part tres tommorrow (most likely.) Be there.
...and all at once, we were in London.
(If by "all at once" you mean a seven-hour flight sitting on the far end of one of those planes with eight-seat rows in three columns, next to a cigarettey old woman who all my friends, who were sitting on the other side of the plane, were convinced was a man.)
Apparently, on the video screens in the seats, they had every movie ever made and plenty of TV shows, including The Muppet Show, so I could've spent the flight reliving my favorite childhood television program, but instead I spent it sort-of-sleeping and waking up to eat the rubbery airline chicken. I think we met the sun halway over the Atlantic, and England was bathed in mid-morning light by the time we were flying over it. I wanted to go back to sleep but I really felt like I should be soaking in my first foreign-country experience, so I looked at the checkerboard British countryside and found myself wondering...where they filmed certain Monty Python sketches. sigh.
Filled out my immigration card with the pen cigarettey old lady let me use. Filled in the "Country of Birth" space with unabashed pride. Forgot to write in capitals, as instructed, thereby fufilling the stereotype everyone has about people from my country of birth. Then I enthusiastically deplaned.
The official "Enthusiastically Deplaning" face
My impression of London Gatwick airport is that it's the Tucson of London airports. Smaller. Flatter. Smellier. Of course, I have no basis to make this judgement, as I've never been to Heathrow and it wasn't on the tour. But Gatwick IS in the middle of a bunch of farms. If a cow would've wandered through the baggage claim, chased frantically like a guy looking like the farmer in Babe, I wouldn't have been suprised. But no such luck.
Truly we were in a foreign and mysterious land. They spoke the same language, but we had entirely different vocabularies when it came to snack food. Observe:
This greeted me across from the currency booth after we went through about seven different customs checks. Walkers Potato Chips? What the fuck? Everybody knows that Frito and Lay invented the potato chip in their cabin in the Mayflower on the way over to the new world, and they've had the patent ever since. Lion? Munchies? Who comes up with these things? The most disconcerting of all the candy bars in the bottom right: The Drifter bar. When I think of Drifter, I don't think of dessert. I think of a scuzzy stubbly dude who ambles into town, passes out in the gutter, makes his home in an abandoned barn then gets run out of town when old man McGunderson's chickens start disappearing. The word "Drifter" comes attached to words like "Nameless" and "Menacing" and "Smelling Of Gin," not "Delicious" and "Just The Right Amount of Nuts." Unless of course...(Insert obvious having-sex-with-the-homeless joke here.) The only isle of familiarity in a sea of vaguely threatining British snacks was the KitKat bar, and even he was dressed up in a retro costume that made him damn near unrecognizable.
I was a long way from home.
After engaging in a Seinfeldesque discourse on the differences between American and British candy, I went and exchanged my money. Pops gave me a hundred bucks spending cash, which was nice because I hadn't expected anything at all, and I had twenty bucks in my wallet just 'cause, which meant I had a hundred and twenty dollars with which to paint London red. I also had my ATM card, but the idea of seeing my balance, already puny in dollars, expressed in pounds, made me want to cry and hit things. I gave the lady a hundred and twenty American, she gave me sixty-five dollars in fancifully colored tissue paper and bits of metal in strange shapes.
British money doesn't feel like money in your pocket. Good ol' greenbacks have thread woven in them (I think) and so when you reach down in your pocket you immediately know what's your meager funds and what isn't. Not so with five-pound notes. But the coins? The coins I love. There's a fantastic array, they have about fifteen more than they probably need, but they're doing a good thing by not whittling them down in the name of effeciency. The fifty-pence coins are fun to flip, and make a satisfying "smack" in the palm of your hands, like a Kennedy half-dollar. The one-pound coins are the best. They just FEEL valuable.
I wuv you, British monetary system.
There were no cows in the baggage claim. But there was my bag. Hello bag.
Then we found our tour guide among the bunches of people holding up placards. He was a spritely gent named Rob who looked just completely and totally...well, British, I guess, is the word. Bad teeth. Balding. Flushed complexion. You know, British. Anyway, Rob informed us that there were going to be two other groups on our whirlwind tour of London, one from Alaska and one from Florida. The Alaskans, he said, had flown in the previous night after twenty-four straight hours of flying. I guess it's worth it if where you end up isn't Alaska. He gave us ten minutes to walk around and go to the bathroom while we waited for the Floridians.
In one duty-free drugstore, I noticed that there were condoms. Lots of stores have condoms, but it's a rare store in the US that has them just chillin' by the register. Usually they're all locked up, because if you're going to wrap it up we want to encourage you to do so by making find a store manager to have to unlock the damn pharmacy case for you. But there they were. Clear as day, in a wide range of wonderful colors and maybe flavors, although I didn't look close enough 'cause we had to meet Rob. But I was heartened by this display of contraceptive openness. They may have strange candy, but dammit, they know where to keep the rubbers.
Then we went and got on a bus, or a "coach," as they call it, and we headed away from Gatwick Cowtown and towards central London.
Rob talked, in that pithy British way that stole my girlish heart.
Alecia and I admired the British countryside. That is to say, the concrete turnpikes and strange European cars. She noted that it looked like Utah. I've never been to Utah, but if I ever have to describe it to the blind I'll now know to say "It looks like that part of England between Gatwick and London, silly blind person."
...you can pretty much guess.
First impression of London proper: So THIS is why Radiohead is so depressed. Maybe it was the fatigue or something, but the outskirts of London were sort of dreary. Mile upon grey mile of identical rowhouses, punctuated by the occasional GIANT APARTMENT MONOLITH, every other living space with a satellite dish. We have our own depressing suburbs, but they're ours. This was foreign to me. And things that are foreign are naturally bad.
Actually, some of them were really cool. The concept of a house that's been standing since before 1950 just blows me away, considering pretty much all of where I've grown up grew up with me. But here were these comparitively ancient houses, all drenched in ivy, with chimneys you half expected Dick Van Dyke to come dancing out of any second. He didn't. Our loss.
LOOK! Over there! People playing soccer!
I think this was the subject of the most ooh-and-ahhing of the entire coachride. Somehow it just wasn't England until we saw some people engaged in the sport we seem to have somehow missed out on.
Then we got to the hotel. Keys were distributed in the lobby, and we all scattered, with instructions to meet back downstairs at one.
The hotel, the Astor Court Hotel, to be exact, was a refurbished old apartment building, I think. Rob had warned us not to expect much, at least not to expect American hotels. He then described his first Holiday Inn experience, where he ran around the room the entire time because he couldn't believe how big it was. Well, Rob underestimated our culturedness. There's nothing we wanted more than an oddly shaped room with the toilet (complete with pull-chain) in a different room than the sink and shower (which had no shower curtain, just an inadequate plastic barrier covering maybe a third of the tub). I'm serious. It was awesome.
But that wasn't the best part. Oh no. The best part was found down a strange L-shaped hallway leading from our sleeping quarters to another part of Room 27, the splendor, the extravagance, the sheer hip London swank that was...
We knew immediately that if any, and quite possibly all, of London's finest and most nubile "birds" were to find their way back here they'd be ours, easy. And they'd leave in the morning with the knowledge that what happens in The Lounge stays in The Lounge, right under the flimsy cot, or next to the TV with only four channels.
Then, at one, we embarked on what I like to refer to as Rob's Everything-All-At-Fucking-Once Walking Tour of London. The closest landmark to our hotel was Oxford Circus, which is not actually a circus, in the traditional sense. It is not a circus like Barnum & Bailey's is a circus. It is a circus like Circus Maximus in Rome is a circus, that is to say, big, and circular, and too pretentious to be called a "circle" and not square enough to be called a "square." From there, we walked to Picadilly Circus, which I had seen in An American Werewolf In London, a fact which I have no justification for mentioning. Rob said that, at the statue of the Angel Of Christian Charity in the middle, you're more likely to meet someone you know than anywhere else in the world, or so legend has it. I didn't see anyone except the people I came with. And I hate them.
Then we walked some more. There were fifty-odd people in the group, what with the Alaskans and the Flordidians, but Rob simply refused to act like he was leading a tour through the ubercrowded streets of a major metropolitan area. He'd walk as fast as he liked towards wherever, stop occasionally to grin bemusedly at stragglers, then keep right on walking nondescriptly. If you lost sight of his bald spot you were pretty much screwed. I kept up, you can bet.
After Picadilly, we ended up in Leicester Square, where there are not one, but I think three movie theatres, all facing each other, glaring contemptously. Rob pointed out where Kevin Spacey had stood not but a few nights ago as he showed up for the premier of Life of David Gale. It was at this point I realized that it was Fucking Cold. Well, at that point it was more just Ass Cold, which is cold, but I had a sweater, so were were good. It would later go from Ass Cold to Fucking Cold.
We gathered around a statue of Shakespeare while Rob rattled off places we could go for lunch if we so chose. His advice: "Don't eat British food. We don't." We (meaning me, Matt, Jack, and Tim) pretty much stopped listening once he mentioned a pub that had reasonably good food. Legal drinking plus cultural experience plus food equals four happy American teenage boys.
Jack and Timmy ordered up half-pintsof their finest lager. They didn't take traveller's checks, so Matt was SOL. I wasn't really hungry, and I'm not a beer man, so I just soaked up the casual atmosphere. And ate Jack's fries. We all agreed that London, or at least its liquor laws, were pretty much the best thing to ever happen to mankind. I listened to an old British man describe Catch Me If You Can to his old British friends.
Then Jack got up to go to the loo, leaving the last half of his steak-on-baguette unattended.
Big mistake, friend.
Matt ate most of it, I swear.
Then Matt had to exchange his traveler's cheques for tissue paper and metal scraps, so we tracked down a place for him to do it. We met back up with the group at Leicester Square, then did more of the frantically-trying-to-keep-up-with-Rob thing. Saw Trafalgar Square. Rob says if you're British and you fight the Americans, you get a little statue. If you fight the Germans, you get a medium statue. And if you fight the French, well, you get a HUGE statue, and in the case of whoever's in the middle of Trafalgar, you get your own damned square. We all posed on the giant lions, and then my camera ran completely out of batteries. Not bad considering I hadn't charged it since Phoenix all those many days ago.
Eventually we ended up in Covent Garden, which is like an outdoor mall, only one with street performers who harrass you and old hippy ladies shouting monologues about social injustice. And good opera singers. It was there, as the sun went down, that things went from Ass Cold to Fucking Cold, the shivering, take-refuge-in-any-crappy-shop-with-a-heater kind of cold. It was also there that I found an Internet cafe to e-mail my dad so he'd know I was alive (we don't believe in the telephone in my family), and get in touch with Kristin so we could figure out whether meeting up would work or not. We (the guys) spent most of the rest of the time sitting in the lounge of the internet cafe, in comfy chairs, debating whether our desire to see the sights was outweighed by our desire for warmth. The sights won out after twenty minutes or so. We're morons. It was so cold.
The day officially ended with unsatisfying bangers and mash (greasy sausage and the worst mashed potatoes) and a trip back to the hotel, and a promise that although we were going to sleep, this wasn't over yet, London, oh no, not by a long shot.
Once upon a time there was a boy whose parents said over dinner at Outback, "We were thinking of getting you a laptop for your graduation present."
To which he responded, "Wow, I kind of figured going to college was my graduation present, but hey, whatever you're into."
"But if you want to go on this London trip," they said, "then we'll pay for it, but that'll be your graduation present."
His head was filled with images of nice new laptops broken, stolen, or just plain forgotten somewhere, along with the realization that memories of venturing outside the country (which he'd never done, save for Canada, which barely counts) with some of your closest friends over Spring Break your Senior year can't be lost, broken, or stolen, barring the onset of amnesia or Alzheimer's.
And even then, he thought, you'll still have pictures.
This is his story.
Thought you'd never ask.
I actually packed the night before. I will let that stand as a testament to how excited I was to go on this trip, since I never, ever, pack the night before for any journey of any length. But for some reason, this was different. Maybe because there were certain things, that if I forgot them in a rush of morning-of get-to-the-airport fury, would prevent me from getting out of the US, or into the UK. And it's hard to go to England for Spring Break if they won't let you the hell in. So I packed the obscenely big monogrammed LL Bean duffel bag my grandparents got me for Christmas full of clean underwear and clean socks and...I did laundry for this trip too. I never do laundry and I never pack the night before, but I did both, and it was all for you, sweet sweet United Kingdom.
Matt's mom was nice enough to pick me up, since my parents were both at work. Then we went to the airport and met up with the London Posse, the principals being Alecia, Ashley, Kenzie, Katie, Jack, Tim, Tim's mom Penny, our sponsor Ms. Idler, and her husband Kurt. And Matt. It's not like his mom decided to drive just me to the airport. Tickets were distributed. Passports were put in their secret travel wallets and whipped back out again really for no reason, just to make us feel like purveyors of international intrigue. Purveyors of international intrigue with dorky bulky zipper-pouches hidden in our pants and under our shirts.
Matt was maybe a little too mysterious, so they searched his ass. Didn't find anything.
Oh yea. They searched his bag too.
We must've cut a comical figure, lounging in the international terminal, all the bourgeouis suburban kids with their headphones on. Tim loaned me Death Cab's You Can Play These Songs With Chords, which I have no good reason for not owning, and I in turn loaned him OK Computer, which no one has a good reason for not owning. Alecia read a book Tony Pierce recommended. I read a book the Ayn Rand Foundation recommended I read, then write an essay about by April 15th, if I want 10,000 dollars for college. I broke into my travel provisions: a bag of cheddar Goldfish, a box of strawberry Nutra-Grain bars, and the quinessential travel food, Twizzlers. I spilled half the Goldfish on the seat next to me, which was thankfully unoccupied. We sat and waited for the plane to Philly.
We all sat more or less together on the flight to Philly. I sat next to Ashley, which was nice, not only because she's pretty and sweet and smells good, but also because she's all of four feet tall and doesn't take up too much room when she sits next to you in coach. Too bad the same couldn't be said of the guy in the aisle seat, who was three-hundred pounds of mystery-novel-reading asleep-falling olditude. We made the best of it. She slept on my shoulder and I took pictures like this one.
At the gate we'd all talked big about how we weren't going to sleep on the four-or-so hour flight to Philly, because we'd need all that fatigue so we could pass out over the Atlantic Ocean on the big hop.
We're all talk.
Except me. I was too busy being way too excited about having a new camera, and taking gratuitous pictures of myself in the bathroom mirror on the one occasion my tremendous need to pee coincided with the old guy on the aisle actually being awake. Then we landed.
The Philidelphia Airport was a lot like I expected. Big. Full of planes. In Philidelphia. The Roots are from Philly, as are The Starting Line, but apparently, neither of them hang out at the airport on a Friday night. Which is too bad. If I'd have seen either one I probably would have bought them a cheesesteak. But as it was, I didn't even buy myself one. We showed the lady at the gate our passports out of our secret travel wallets and boarded the plane that would take us to England.
to be continued...
Promise I'm not spending my entire vacation on the internet.
ENGLAND IS COLD.
I'm in an e-cafe in Covent Gardens and I can barely type. But I'm paying for this so I figured I might as well update.
I got the danged camera.
And boy, is she ever a beaut. She set me back a pretty penny (twenty-five thousand pennies, to be exact) but like they always say, you've gotta spend money to make money, or in this case, make no money but have nice visual aids for your blog posts. It's the same camera as Alecia has. I also bought her 128 megs of memory, which means she can take 271 medium-sized pictures at the highest resolution.
Oh, and a couple seconds of video. But if that's what I wanted I would've gotten a digital video camera. Or just not broken the one my family had my freshman year.
So when I get back you'll all be able to see the UK hella two-megapixel style.
I'm really going, and I'm really excited. Which is weird for me. I'm not often jumping-up-and-down excited about anything that often. When I get really excited about something I get this strange sort of emotional vertigo, I get woozy and want to back off. Caring about things entails disappointment. And I don't like to be disappointed. Most times I just get by on shutting my eyes, holding on and doing the damn thing. Like buying an expensive camera I'll probably break or lose. Or applying Early Decision to NYU. Sometimes you have to spend money you don't have to have the life you want.
I keep damning the consequences. Someday the consequences are going to come back with knives and electrical tape. Oh well, fuck 'em, girl.
It's funny and kind of sucks for England but for a day or two next week the prettiest girl in London won't even be from there.
And neither will the suavest motherfucker. (Points to self)
(Does the Sammy Sosa chest-thump-kiss-peace sign thing)
(Goes to bed)
See y'all next week. Be good.
and if a double decker bus
crashes into us...
to die by your side
well, the pleasure, the privilege is mine
Y'ever wonder how many opportunities you miss in the average day? Any time you make a choice you miss an opportunity: every time you reach for the Honey Nut Cheerios in the morning you have completely wasted an opportunity to have Lucky Charms. But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the big opportunities. Job offers. Life partners. That kind of thing. How many do you think you totally biff a day thanks to inaction or spinelessness or ignorance of their existence?
A bunch, I'll bet.
And then I'll continue to bet that if for whatever reason you end up in Hell, it's nothing like the book we just read in Humanities. It's all the opportunities you missed today, and every day before today, and every day after.
My hell will be a stadium full of girls I never talked to. Well, that'll be the lower-deck seats. The upper tiers will be girls I never asked out. And one by one they'll get up and I'll see each one of their pretty faces on the Jumbotron, mocking me, and they'll talk about the life they went on to have.
Three time Pulitzer Prize winner...
First woman to walk on Mars...
Heiress to a superwealthy Bavarian aristocrat...
and because it's Hell, every speech will naturally end but I was eventually treated for my nymphomania. And because it's Hell, I won't be allowed to cry.
So every time I don't say "Hi, I'm DC," what I'm really saying is, "I'll see you in Hell." I'll be the one at the fifty yard line in the manacles getting poked by imps.
It's a good thing I don't believe in that kind of thing.
London in T-minus ten...nine...eight...
Guillermo needs to write more and here's why (long but oh-so-worth it)
We are now forty-eight hours away from ANARCHY IN THE U.K., as I like to call Spring Break 2003.
Had a huge crisis last night. A crisis as big as all outdoors. I thought, If this turns out alright, it will make one hell of a blog post. And if it doesn't, all the blood from my wrists will make it hard to type anyway, so--
But I seem to be out of those woods, only now I'm in the woods of four hours of sleep and an off-book speed through of the show today for which I am, at best, poorly prepared.
Oh well. I like these woods better. And besides, soon they'll be clear-cut, razed and burned to make way for SPRING BREAK 2003.
Just playin' the other night. I know exactly what to think of webcams. Does a smile count as a thought?
There's this game we play. It's called post really fast so you can read The Bleat and eat some cereal and go to bed.
I will now write a post in two minutes.
(Runs over to microwave timer.)
Musical rehearsal today was lame because all we did was constant speed-throughs and no one's even off book yet
Went to the gym for the first time in a week, Iron Don is back
Webcams...don't know exactly what to think exactly
My little seven-year-old brother made a Pioneer Ten out of aluminum foil. Not for school or anything. How awesome is that? Very awesome, is the answer, in case you were wondering.
Boy, do I ever need a haircut. I mean, seriously.
Pitch in money. We're going to move New Jersey next to Cuba.
Time's up. Thus proving that nothing good ever gets done in two minutes. Ask any girl.
Treacher says never apologize for not blogging, but I feel like I owe you guys more than this. You guys, you.
I'm going to get a digital camera this week. London will not go undocumented.
I would write more, but I told a girl I'd go to bed.
And I'm a man of my word.
Hi, I'm a balding, mustachioed man on the wrong end of fifty-five. My life hasn't worked out the way I wanted it to (note the fact that my wife has more wrinkles than a whole box of Sun-Maid Raisins and my shirt is fucking retarded) and as such I feel it's my privilege, hell, even my duty to belittle and verbally abuse the bag-boy at my local grocery store. Man, I can't wait for him to bag my produce in the bag in the wrong order (Oranges first, THEN apples! I mean, come ON!) so I can berate him. In fact, I'm going to phrase all my special bagging requests in the form of an exasperated disappointment, as if he should have known my particular bagging preferences at birth. And then, get this: I'm going to further put him down when he attempts to accomodate my aggresively-stated whims! HA! That'll teach him who's boss.
My intent is to leave him trembling with barely contained rage, his head full of images of smashing my stupid pumpkin pie, profaning my bananas and running me down in the parking lot with his truck. Certainly that will make up for my shitty childhood and less-than-satisfactory adult life. I can't wait for when he says "Have a nice day!" like the company he works for requires him to, even to the most loutish and undeserving of puckered-anus-faced customers! Oh, and here's the best part: when my rumpled burlap sack of a spouse and I head for the exit, I'm going to glance over my shoulder and scowl at him just long enough to catch him mouthing expletives to the cashier, who no doubt sympathizes with his anti-cranky-old-people sentiment. But who cares what he thinks? I'm a nearly retirement-age upper-middle-class male! I've earned the right to deride everyone who doesn't meet with my impossible standards, because apparently I've lost the right to a natural erection.
So have a nice day! At least one fewer person will be, thanks to me!
You can learn a lot about a person by reading their blog. Or at least I hope you can, because for this very brief moment in history, everybody I know has one. About half the people I've made social contact with in, let's say the past 72 hours, I was just able to go through and read exactly what they were thinking when last we met.
Well, okay, not exactly. Let's face it, if that were true, if everybody's blogs and journals consisted of exactly what they were thinking, their uncensored highlights interior monologues, it would either be the most boring thing in the world, or it would be too good to be true and we would never stop reading. Probably a combination of both.
Unless it were my blog, in which case, on the average day, you'd learn not a damn thing.
We're all driven by our wants and needs. T-Murder wants to get laid. Tom wants his mysterious identical twin to stop getting laid. Hosemonster wants somebody to hire him. Tony wants somebody to hire him to do what he does for free every day. Alecia doesn't want a long term committment, wait, no she does, wait, yes she doesn't. People don't have to put this in banner headline across the top of their pages for you to get it. But tonight I realized, reading this, unless you know me personally you probably know fuck all about why I get out of bed in the morning.
People are always doing getting to know you type surveys, so here's the official HFT comprehensive everything-you-never-wanted-to-know-but-weren't-afraid-to-ask one-question survey to end all surveys:
Thought you'd never ask.
I want to be a writer. I would like to get to a point in my life where my day job consisted of what goes on between me and the keyboard. Plays, screenplays, short fiction and long. I don't think it's too arrogant of me to say that at some point I might be able to make a go of it.
I also want to act in whatever venue, professionally. And direct, for both stage and screen. Time was all I wanted to do was be a movie director. But my tastes expanded, and rather than change my one overriding goal I just sort of...added to it. And now, of course, I feel like I'm overloading my plate at the buffet of Life's Passions, and who the hell knows if I'll ever be able to eat all this. Some people couldn't honestly name one thing they wanted to do for the rest of their lives, and here I am, in typical arrogant-douchebag style, with three or four. But as I've said many times, it's not like I want to be a pearl-diver and curate the Whitney Museum. My career choices are all kind of in the same arena, that is to say, the Arena of Touchy-Feely Drama Crap.
Of course, while I picked out a bunch of possible careers I also had to pick out the hardest ones to succeed in, where most of the time it's not how good you are, it's who you know. I won't have a good fallback career. But it's not a feeling I'm unaccustomed to, by any stretch. Most of my life is improvised, and my back-up plan always reads something like, "Uhm...change my name and try again, I guess." Breathe in, breathe out, and here goes.
I want my blog to load quicker, goddammit. I hope this is just a temporary phenomenon. Oh also, I want to know exactly what to write in here every time I sit down. As opposed to never knowing what to write, which is really starting to get tiresome.
I want to get married, someday. And kids. Maybe this is a weird instinct for an eighteen-year-old male to have. I'm not saying I want that right now, or in the forseeable future, in fact, there's nothing I'd like less. They would just put a damper on my swingin' bachelor M.O. But sometime around thirty or thirty-five, I want to have this being-an-individual thing down pat enough where I can stop worrying about myself for once and start working on minions...I mean, uh, kids. I blame Lileks for this. He glorifies the house-husband lifestyle like it was sex or violence.
I want game. I talk a good game about having game, but letís face it, B, I got no game. There's apparently a stage after casual flirting, and I know I've been there but lord knows I can never retrace my steps. To flog a painfully overused sports-cliche, I can never take it to "the next level." I need someone to draw me a diagram. I need that guy in the Navy commercials on the deck of an aircraft carrier with the incandescent vest and the big orange wands, waving in the jets like he was conducting the London Philharmonic. I need that guy to wave me in. Give me the "OK" sign. I need game.
I want a vehicle where the radio stays at one constant volume. Instead of one where sometimes it's rattling the windows of the cars around me, and then I go over a speedbump and suddenly it turns off and can't be resurrected. But then I'll be having a heart-to-heart conversation with someone while I'm driving them home...
"So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm willing to leave my modeling career behind and have me and my nymphomaniac twin move in with you. I guess what I'm trying to say, DC, is that I love--" (radio crackles to life) ONE WEEK ONLY SALE AT AUDIO EXPRESS YOUR HOME home home OF THE ONE DOLLAR INSTALL
"Wait, what was I saying?"
Yea, that would be nice.
I want someone to go to movies with.
I want to be a better person.
I just want someone to bite my earlobes. Is that so much to ask?
I don't live in Pacific Standard or Mountain or Central time. No sir. I only set my watch according to one Time Zone. Procrastinators Standard Time, that's the one for me. The clock has fifty-nine notches that read "Chill out. Eat some cereal. Watch TV." Then the sixtieth, and LAST minute, says "HOLY SHIT DO EVERYTHING YOU HAVE NEGLECTED TO DO, WHICH SURE IS A LOT."
But I wouldn't have it any other way. The first fifty-nine minutes are fun, and if you do the last minute right, you feel like a bad ass. And after it's over, you've got fifty-nine more minutes to chill out. Eat some cereal. Watch TV.
There are kids, and trust me, I know because most of them go to my school, who'll crash their tricked out Audi A4s in ditches, and as punishment, their parents will buy them Escalades. Happens all the time. Of course, I no longer have moral superiority over these people, which simply kills me.
Because last night, my blog passed out at the wheel and slammed into a retaining wall called my commenting service. And today, I went out and bought it Blogspot Plus. Spare the rod, spoil the blog, that's what we say here at HFT. Fifteen bucks later, I have no advertisements but if I try to reload the comments my page won't open at all. Any webheads out there have any idea what might be wrong? I don't think it's a BlogOut-end problem, because lots of people have it and they're all loading just fine.
Then, this afternoon, drunk on the power of eliminating the banner ad from the top, I decided to put a banner up there, since it looked sort of...bald. You may have seen it, it was up for about five hours. I realized after I came home that it only loaded about half the time and was kind of an eyesore when it actually did come up correctly. So I took it down again. Still wondering what to do with all that space up there.
Some people's blogs are finely tuned animals, streamlined, built for speed. I like to think of my blog as a gorilla. Subhuman, but it gets the job done. And if some people's coding is God creating the universe in six days, mine is the occasional bellow of HULK SMASH!!! as I rearrange the room with my fists.
And while this blog implodes technically, other people's are going nova emotionally. Say it ain't so, Ward!
Naturally, while the HTML on this site fractures and recongeals Pangea-like, I had one of my all-time highest hit days, thanks to Listen Missy, proving definitively that stalking always pays off.
I broke down and got another commenting service. But I really hope I can get the old ones back...nothing is a worse tragedy than losing a bunch of ego-stroking praise to your own web incompetence.
My new favorite lyric of all time, from the Death Cab lead singer's tremendous side project The Postal Service. And I quote:
DC sleeps alone tonight
They say the best lyrics are true. Don't they say that?
Nothing to keep a boy up 'till 1:30 like TOTAL BLOG MELTDOWN.
I was in the middle of composing the posts to end all posts (end them all through sheer mediocrity so all the other posts get bored and want to go home, that is) when the truest playa alive IMs me to ask why my blog is being all retarded. He may not have used those words, exactly, but the blog was being just that. I asked Alecia to try and load it on her computer. Wasn't happening.
Something was amiss. I undid and re-applied my format about ten times, tried taking out the header picture, even considered, gasp, PAYING for Blogspot Plus just to get my poor blog to be something more than a blank white screen and the little blue bar that's supposed to indicate progress but in this case, to me, just indicated my total failure as King of the Entire Internet.
Turned out it was BlogOut, my commenting service, screwing things up. So comments are temporarily disabled.
But if you know of anything else to keep a boy up 'till 1:30 AM, possibly even later, you know where to find me.
by DC Pierson
She lives in a city named after me.
She likes good movies.
She appears to have the Pi sign tattooed above her hindparts.
She appreciates the much-underappreciated 25th Hour (see the above fact about liking good movies.)
She authors one hell of a blog.
The question now becomes: Will she marry eighteen-year-olds, namely, me?
by Matthew Pierson
He live in a woold caben
He dident have a cimnea
He tall black hat
No, I'm not ignoring you.
If you should happen to IM me and I don't respond, and the box should sit, unblinking, for a long, long time, I promise I'm not ignoring you. I'm ignoring my computer. Something shiny or loud has just happened elsewhere, and I'm not right in front of the computer to answer your query/insult/proposition right this very second.
At the gym, the treadmills have those little things you can clip on to your shirt so if you should get too distracted by, oh, I don't know, The Golden Girls, and go flying off the thing, it stops automatically. I need one of those with the computer and Instant Messenger. Because I leave that thing on for untold hours at a time when I'm at school, at work, and sometimes in other time zones completely.
So today, after auditions, I took a FAT nap (three hours) and got out of bed sometime around seven to see a bunch of those blinking boxes saying "Congratulations!" Well, cool, that means I got a part. But now a bunch of people think I'm a conceited Internet jerk who has more important things to do than respond to their sincere good tidings. And while I was doing something better, (I love all y'all, but sleeping trumps anything else hands down) I still could've had the common courtesy to get a gal-darn away message or something.
So, long story short, if you IM me and I'm not there it doesn't mean I hate you. If you IM me and I respond "What the fuck do you want, fucking cuntwad whoreslut? GOD do I ever hate you!" well, that doesn't mean I hate you either. That just means Grandpa's hi-jacked my screenname again.
At a party tonight, myself, a slightly intoxicated Trevor and a really intoxicated Guillermo discussed that most light-hearted of party topics: how fucking cosmically unjust it was for Mr. Rogers to go and die on us. Other bloggers have already eulogized him better than I could, so I'll dispense with that. But I do think it's interesting, that after the Columbia disaster the media wondered where all the great public sorrow was. And granted, Columbia was a terrible tragedy, but I think my generation has been infinitely more affected by Mr. Rogers dying. Even kids you'd normally dismiss as heartless tools were heard to utter "Mister Rogers, man...what the fuck?" It just seems so wrong. If you had to designate a couple of people to be granted eternal life, the man who kept the Trolley to the land of make-believe running on time would be pretty high on the list of nominees.
We actively throw away pieces of our childhood all the time. We trade in the allowances of youthful inexperience for added priveleges, the lack of responsibility for ignorance of responsibilty. But we still want that warm core of memories to look back at, anchors that remind us that a few short years ago, we were innocent. Not too long ago, we voluntarily woke up at eight AM to watch a man feed his fish and play with a tiger puppet. So while we can't wait to put aside childish things, we get rather upset when they get stolen from us.
Man, I said I wouldn't eulogize and I totally did. And then I ended up sounding like a bad valedictorian speech. Oh well. Some things defy irony and cynicism, and the fact that we just lost the nice man the nation's kids spent their mornings with, that's one of them.