Sunday, November 28, 2004

Quick - find me a Joseph! (And a plane ticket to London!)

Plenty of Room at Inn for Mary and Joseph

LONDON (Reuters) - A British hotel chain is offering couples called Mary and Joseph a free night's stay over Christmas.

"We are trying to make up for the hotel industry not having any rooms left on Christmas Eve 2004 years ago," said Sandy Leckie, manager of the Travelodge hotel in London's Covent Garden.

"Our hotel is definitely more comfortable than a stable. I just hope they don't bring their donkey," he said.

But the offer has just one proviso -- the couples have to produce identification showing their names.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


Happy Turkey Day to one & lame-o elementary school tradition, here is what I am thankful for today.

1. I get paid next week.
2. I have two unopened boxes of twinkle lights to put up.
3. I've broken my caffeine-free fast for the day and have half of a 20 oz. bottle of Coke left to enjoy.
4. I have enough catnip on hand to keep Flannery cheerful for the long weekend.
5. I don't have to go out shopping tomorrow morning.
6. Even better--I don't have to go work in a retail establishment tomorrow morning.
7. I may not have gotten any turkey today, but I do have a big box of instant mashed potatoes waiting for me in the kitchen. (And I can put this song on while I cook 'em up. Rock!)

(And even though I've got some kind of nasty stomach crud today, I can still muster up enough energy to be thankful for something...maybe that, in and of itself, is something to be thankful for.)

Sunday, November 21, 2004

It's official:

The poncho fad has gone too far.

Cue lame John Denver quote...

The first time I ever flew on an airplane was in July of 2001. I was twenty-two years old, and other than trips to Chicago & Orlando with the marching band in high school, I had never really been outside the tri-state area. (My local tri-state area being Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the U.P. of Michigan, of course.) I flew from Minneapolis to Salt Lake City, spent a few days in AmeriCorps training & wandering the disturbingly clean streets of SLC (seriously--it's just so clean there, something feels off), and then I flew home and moved to Montana a week later.

The next time I flew was on December 22, 2001. I was flying home for Christmas after being away for five months, and boy, was I excited. I got up at the proverbial buttcrack of dawn, got into my car, and drove up to Great Falls to catch a plane to Minneapolis, all before sunrise. I conquered icy mountain passes, I survived a lack of caffeine, and I made it to the airport--all like clockwork.

That was pretty much the last time that anything went right for the next two weeks.

When I got to the airport, things were in kind of a tizzy. Bear in mind what your standard Montana airport's like...small, 4-5 big planes through per day at most, not a whole lot of people or gates, animal heads aplenty tacked all over the walls. This is my first time in one of them. It's early. It's three days before Christmas.

And that was the morning that they busted the Shoebomber. they're asking everybody in line to take their shoes off for inspection before they board the plane, I'm slightly weirded out. This clearly hadn't happened the first time I flew. No one in line knows what's going on--the news hasn't even been on yet in MT--and the airport people aren't saying much. My turn comes, I take my shoes off, no problems. However, none of us on the plane find out what's going on until we get to Minneapolis, and it's all over the TV news monitors.

It turned out that I would have plenty of time to watch those TV news monitors, as my flight to Duluth was delayed for over six hours due to a whirling, swirling blizzard. Frantic phone calls to my parents' place in Ashland, followed by frantic calls to my older brother Dewey's home/office/cell phones in Duluth led to numerous plans formulating and bursting apart as the weather herky-jerked across the atmosphere.
And to top it all off, my abrupt reimmersion into non-Montana culture was FREAKING ME OUT. Blonde people! Everywhere! All in sweaters! Expensive-looking Cosby sweaters! Nothing but blonde people in sweaters as far as the eye can see! AHHHHHHH! Culture-shock. Big time. In those moments, I realized how much I had changed in five months...I don't think I've ever felt so psychologically out-of-place. And cripes, I'm from there.

Finally...long after dark...I got to Duluth. My parents had to go back to Ashland without me--the blizzard was getting worse & worse--so Dewey picked me up at the airport. Another problem immediately reared its head; my brother's girlfriend was very, very sick at the time, so I couldn't stay at their apartment for the night. Fortunately, his girlfriend worked at Fitger' they very generously got me a room there for the night (even though she got an employee discount, it was super-nice of them regardless). A jacuzzi suite at a 4-star inn on Lake Superior. Things, I thought to myself, were looking up.

And for the next few days, they did look up for me.
They didn't look up for Dewey right away, though--especially when my nosy aunt called him that night, and told him that he was a terrible person for not letting me stay at his apartment that night, because we're family or some lame-brained reason like that. Judy...Judy...I was in a 4-STAR HOTEL. With a freakin' JACUZZI. To MYSELF. Do you realize that I lived in a basement, woman? A basement with little box elder bugs walking around in all seasons? And no bathtub? This was the nicest damn place I'd been in five months!

Christmas was lovely--good to be home with the family, good to see lots of old friends. When my relatives from the Twin Cities arrived, however...well, the nosedive began. My room was taken over by the houseguests--ironically, the very same relatives that had chided Dewey for putting me in a JACUZZI SUITE--and I was relegated to the laundry room. Yes. The laundry room. I slept on a pile of rugs & sleeping bags on a cement floor two feet away from the deep-freezer and the cat's litterbox. Ho ho ho.

Two days after Christmas, my ears started to swell shut.

I was down for the count, and spent the rest of my trip home laid out on the living room couch hopped up on codeine and subsisting on pudding , instant mashed potatoes, & Jell-O. My return flight to Montana had to be pushed back until New Year's Day, so I spent New Year's Eve...well, hopped up on codeine on the couch. On New Year's Day, my parents got me to the Duluth airport by 7 in the morning, put me on a plane (still hopped up on codeine), and the return trip began. When I got back to Great Falls, I had a $55 parking fee to pay, a foot of snow on my car, and a couple of codeine pills in my bloodstream as I made my way home across icy mountain passes. I can remember calling Emily from the airport to say that I'd made it to Great Falls; I don't remember anything about the drive home, except that I was probably sort of hallucinating. The world looked like it looks when I play "let's drive without my glasses."

This saga has simply become known as "The Christmas of Attrition." long last...the point:
Tonight, I bought my ticket to fly home to Wisconsin over Christmas & New Year's. I'll be home from December 21st through January 5th. I'm crossing my fingers that this Christmas goes more like the last two--the "Whiskey Christmas" and the "Christmas of '03." (No snappy name for that one, sorry.) To those of you back in the Northland--I look forward to making merry with you. And if I start saying my ears hurt or anything, make me take my butt to the doctor's office post-haste, okay?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Things I find downtown, pt. 4

Note that your $10 "donation" shall be "cheerfully refunded if not fully pleased." But who could possibly be disappointed by such an optimistic prophet?

"We are sorry that our president is an idiot."

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Things I find downtown, pt. 3

Something tells me it's not a good idea to try to cheat the Grim Reaper. I mean, I've seen what happens when people try to cheat the Grim Reaper in the Sims games, and it ain't pretty. (Unless you find zombies pretty. Hey, to each their own.)

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Things I find downtown, pt. 2

"No drum? -- No problem!!" I like the way this Gandalf thinks!

(Man, I really need to get myself a snappy new nickname. But maybe not one that's Lord of the Rings inspired. I think I have enough dork points already, thanks much.)

Things I find downtown, pt. 1

While a hug from my heavenly father sounds sorta nice, I think I'm going to have to pass on this lucrative offer, since it sounds like there isn't any actual hugging involved. Even if there was, I'm not sure getting a hug from a non-deity would be quite the same. Not after all the hype they've built up. ("The Master's Touch" sounds kind of dirty, anyway.)

Monday, November 08, 2004

Twirling toward freedom!

Crazy, crazy week. Neither all good nor all bad, but definitely all crazy. Much like the picture above. (Taken at the airport, right before I left Kansas City...something about it makes me laugh. Perhaps the maniacal look on my face has something to do with that. Note to self: when taking a self-portrait with a person taller than you, have the taller person hold the camera.)

So I got back from Missouri late on November 2nd--Election Day. As if Election Day wasn't already destined to be kind of discombobulating, I spent most of the evening bopping from plane to plane, airport to airport. Part of me is glad that I wasn't at home glued to my TV all evening--lord knows I don't need any more excuses than usual to be a lazy bastard--and it was actually pretty interesting to watch strangers interacting in the airports, reacting to the neverending election coverage on the TVs. I don't think it's any big secret that I wasn't exactly rooting for Bush to win...but as Josh likes to put it, maybe four more years of that will just help bring the apocalypse on all the sooner. Let's get it over with, before I've got much to lose!

Speaking of Josh--he was a fine host, and a consummate gentleman. Really! Missouri was everything I could have dreamt it was, and so much more. Did you know that Josh's hometown is where the phrase "man's best friend" originated? And that they serve "Warrensburgers" in the sports bars? It comforts me to know that every small town is as messed-up as the one I grew up in. It really does. Everybody's got a gimmick!

And the trip wouldn't have been complete unless I'd fallen in a drainage pipe, gotten lost in a haunted house, and chased by a dog. It really wouldn't have. So to you, Missouri, I say a fine "HUZZAH!" (Maybe I should re-think that whole "Regina and Jamie are trying to kill me!" thing...maybe the conspiracy goes deeper than I'd previously thought.)

I have to say, though, I'd forgotten what being around Josh does to my brain. The constant Simpsons-quoting is great when there's someone else there to volley back & forth with, but honestly, Flannery just can't keep up with me. And "twirling toward freedom" is too rich to waste! Goddamned lazy cat...