grrgoyl: (Darjeeling)
I'm back from Boston. Did anyone miss me?

Before I go into the highs and lows of my trip, a tale of preparation for it. I knew it would be chilly in New England and I only owned one pair of jeans. They were great jeans, though, fit me perfectly. Men's Levi's, of course (I can't buy women's clothes. I have no idea what my size is in lady numbers). Tery remembered they had come from Walmart. I hate Walmart, but for a pair of jeans that fit this well, I would ignore the moral quandary.

I went to Walmart and picked up a pair identical to the ones I had plus a few other things. Easy peasy, right? Well. If it were this wouldn't be much of a story, would it? The old pair were a 36. The new pair was marked 36, but NO WAY could they be. I could barely get them past my thighs. I was understandably confused and upset. I did not slave away in a hot gym for six months just to go UP a size, no sir. But I didn't really have time to challenge the labeling practices of Walmart/Levi Corp. I exchanged them for a size 38 (all the while expressing my displeasure to the hapless return counter girl. She agreed it might be a conspiracy to allow them to charge slightly more for the "plus" sizes as they do. She also confessed to me she would never buy a CD from her own employer, due to their censorship policy. "If I buy a Korn CD, I want to hear it the way the artist intended!" Okay, you lost me, lady).

Sure enough, the "38" fit the same way the old 36 did. Just when you thought Walmart couldn't get any more evil. I anticipate more confusion and a false sense of accomplishment when I go to buy another pair in a few years somewhere else and am suddenly a size smaller. This also meant I had no idea what size to look for when I went to the belt section.

So, my trip. New (to me) airline policy: they now charge $15 per checked bag in each direction (actually $20, but I bought my ticket before the cost went up). As if people needed more incentive to try to pass 70-pound body bags off as "carry-ons." Penalize those of us who try to make the excruciating process of boarding a little easier and provide job security to your baggage handlers, why don't you. It just isn't right. Make sure your carry-on fits either under the seat or in the overhead? Hell, my carry-on fits in the seat pocket (no exaggeration), that's how low maintenance I am. Between my phone, iPod and a paperback I've got ample entertainment for most flights. I spent the whole week loading my phone with movies, games and fanfics and then slept half the trip anyway. I can't help feeling a bit self-righteous as I wait for everyone else to maneuver their Volkswagen-sized luggage down the aisle.

Whatev. The flights there and back were fairly uneventful, thankfully. Another travel first, both coming and going my bag was like the third one on the carousel. THAT was worth $30.

New England. I haven't been back in quite awhile. Hence it was easy for me to forget how freaking damp and dreary it can be. The trees I thought I missed so badly living in Denver effectively blocked all the sun from reaching my sister's house and made it 10 degrees cooler than the sidewalk at the end of her driveway, a plus during a hot summer, she assures me. I forgot that in New England wet items never really dry properly when left to their own devices. I took a shower Friday morning, drove to Connecticut to catch up with friends and Tery's family, and my towel was still moist Sunday morning on my return. No exaggeration.

We didn't do much during my trip, which was the plan. Amy and I both prefer a good stack of DVDs to gallivanting about spending money, her even moreso now that she has a 6-week-old baby to contend with. She had submitted a list of requests to bring. She had season one of "Psych" which I had never seen, despite being advertised heavily during "Monk."

Unfortunately she doesn't have Tivo (they barely have a TV -- it's a 13 incher clear across the room, the size of a postage stamp compared to our LCD Aquos. Guess having a baby takes precedence over more important things) and they can't live without their nightly fix of "Two and a Half Men" (which I enjoyed) and "Family Guy" (not so much). She announced at my arrival that they intended to make me a fan; needless to say being forced to stop everything every single night to watch it, no exception, had quite the opposite effect. And because they were both exhausted from pulling the typical all-nighters of new parents, 9 pm pretty much marked the end of the festivities (possibly 10 on a really good night).

Jane Frances was a good baby most of the time. Occasionally fussy, but never unbearably or protractedly so. I'll admit to a small amount of guilt when I heard her in the middle of the night and I was free to roll over and put the pillow over my head, but this is one of the many, many reasons I don't want a child of my own. I'm far, far too selfish. But Amy and Rob the dad (Robdaddy?), they're naturals. Kind of weird though, how a little baby, so helpless, has so much power -- you'll do whatever it takes to keep her from crying. And, at the risk of sounding incredibly sappy, when she smiles you feel like you're seeing the face of God.

Another thing I dislike about New England is the way everyone is in such a big damn hurry. Traffic-wise of course, but god help you if you set foot in a Dunkin Donuts without knowing EXACTLY what you want first. I of course was looking for my beloved Bavarian creme (which, come to find out, they haven't sold in years), and lacking a backup plan I took a second to look around and the guy behind us in line started loudly and frantically snapping his fingers to communicate his displeasure. "You have to understand, people like you really piss everyone else off," Amy informed me. I do understand, but I'm not going to order the first thing that catches my eye just to get out of their way. It's not like there aren't four other shops in this one-block radius alone.

It was when I tried one last time at the airport, ordering a glazed and a Boston creme, only to receive a glazed and a JELLY, that I decided DD was truly dead to me. It's donuts, not brain surgery people. Honeydew Donuts carries Bavarian creme, pastries the size of your paw, but we don't have those in Colorado either. Guess it makes it easier to avoid temptation.

And the poor water pressure -- my sister's shower creates a misty wafting breeze that keeps the curtain plastered to your legs the whole time. Tery's folks don't even have a spray, more a trickle. It took about an hour to get all the shampoo out.

Also forgot about driving in New England, which is a delight while on vacation but not so fun when you actually need to get somewhere. Not just the traffic but the refusal of our pioneer predecessors to create trails (from which the roads were created) that involve a single straight line between point A and point B. Anywhere.

I had planned to rent a car to drive to Connecticut. Amy just bought a brand new car that she was reluctant to offer me, and I was just as reluctant to drive. Stressful enough not knowing for sure where I'm going and being surrounded by impatient motorists who know exactly where they're going doing the equivalent of snapping their fingers frantically all around me.

Both Amy and Tery asked me repeatedly if I should maybe check into making a reservation before my trip. I poo-poohed them, knowing next to nothing about renting a car. I forgot it was a holiday weekend when evidently everyone in Boston rents a car and leaves. Come Friday morning everywhere I looked online seemed to be sold out. The brand-name sites were infuriating -- rather than just searching for existing options for me to pick, they required I enter specific date and time ranges, only to come back repeatedly with vague stock error messages that were about as helpful as saying, "Wrong. Guess again." Then I tried some third-party sites that cheerfully promised success, except I couldn't see what they were offering without giving my credit card info first. This raised my hackles -- what cars were they seeing that the big guys weren't?

As a last resort I included Logan Airport in my search results (had been avoiding it because Amy warned me they were always more expensive). Came up with one result that would cost almost $300 for two days. Wow, more expensive you're not kidding. It seemed like it might be easier just to buy a new car and then return it the following day, like a cocktail dress. At this Amy insisted I take her car, to my immense relief. I offered to take them out to dinner, money no object, upon my return. The best they could come up with was chicken pot pie from Harrows, delicious to be sure, but not quite as extravagant as I had intended. I still owe her big time.

I made it to Connecticut where I spent most of my time with Tery's family. Mrs. D. toiled over a roast pork all afternoon for a big dinner. When it was pulled from the oven I immediately noticed it smelled a bit...pungent. I was way too polite to say anything. Mike the son-in-law showed up and his first comment was about a "strong smell." To my surprise when I returned from the bathroom Mr. D. asked my opinion about the meat. I confessed I thought it might smell suspicious. We had Madi, the hyperactive 9-year-old, taste test for us (she did so happily if it meant being the center of attention) and she reported it tasted "wrong." The meat was (thankfully) scrapped and we ordered a pizza. Poor Mrs. D., but I didn't fancy the idea of flying home in a couple of days with a severe case of food poisoning (Madi lived, fear not). Mr. D. admitted the meat had been in the freezer for an extended length of time (Tery says his most famous quote is "There's nothing wrong with it" when the kids grew up turning their noses up at meals). Later Mike said he could smell it from outside, knew it was bad meat, and was really sweating it; he's still a little nervous around Mr. D. and will do anything to stay in his good graces, even if it meant spending the night on the toilet.

Bitch, bitch, moan, moan. Anyone reading up to this point would think I had a perfectly dreadful time. Not true! Despite doing "nothing" with Rob and Amy, the days were filled with laughter -- particularly while playing the board game Sinking of the Titanic (blurb in summary actually reads "From that terrible tragedy comes this fascinating family game!") (the point of the game is to collect passengers, food and water for your lifeboat once you escape the ship. At one point I had so many of each (and Amy and Rob almost none) that the joke was my lifeboat had a 3-piece band, a carving station and chafing dishes for the buffet. I haven't laughed that hard in years. Turns out it isn't nearly as entertaining when you have to work for those things, as I did in subsequent games). Most fun was the last night of my stay, when Robdaddy achieved a trifecta win of that, Trivial Pursuit:Family Edition and Scrabble.

I had a very nice, if far too brief, visit with Tery's family and my two closest friends from school, Lisa and Harold. I got to visit my alma mater high school, which was a bit surreal considering how many nightmares I've had of needing to get to class and having no idea where it was, as well as a quick drive-by of my other alma mater college. And of course it was nice to be away from work for a week.

As with all my trips, my favorite part was coming home to lovely, sunny, dry, laidback Colorado. I missed my Kitten Mitten something terrible (and Tery a bit too), and got all of a 30-second silent treatment before she remembered me. See inside for some photos from my week!

::I never know what to shoot:: )
grrgoyl: (kitty fantastico)
Monday was to be the total chill-out day, our chance to finally relax together after the wedding brou-ha-ha. Tery's mom took us out for lunch at Flander's, a "real seafood" restaurant. I bonded a little with Mike the groom over our mutual dislike of "real seafood"; he agreed with me that he preferred Friendly's' clamboat platter, "fake seafood." Friendly's was to be the last stop on my tour of New England restaurants, but Tery said she didn't think we'd get a chance. Boo. Mike and I both got the chicken...mine was so dry it practically hurt to swallow it, so that's how you know it's a "real seafood" restaurant. We went back to the Dombrowski house to hang out in Tery's dad's new hammock and later I got to lifeguard the kids in the pool (the first and only time they talked to me and tried to learn my name). And now, some pictures of trees:

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Trees, Glorious Trees - One corner of Tery's backyard.


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- Green, leafy and calming. The view out of my sister's window in Boston.


This is what I'm talking about when I say there are no trees in CO. None like this anywhere (except possibly in the mountains).

Amy came to pick us up and drive us back to Boston. There was much sadness when we said goodbye to the Dombrowskis. I really love that family. We spent the night in Boston, but not before stopping at Friendly's after all. Hooray! The clamboat platter was also everything I remembered. Friendly's Revisited Experience: A+

Our plane left at 2 pm on Tuesday. One last stop at Dunkin Donuts and one last trip through hair-raising traffic. Amy dropped us off at the curb near Delta, again with much sadness. We went to check in but the clerk took one look at our tickets and shook his head disapprovingly. Just what you want to see when you are trying to check in. See, when we left Denver, we originally tried to check in at Continental since that was what it said on the E-ticket. The guy there showed us the small print that read, "Operated by Delta" and directed us to the Delta counter. Silly us! I always thought Delta and Continental were two entirely different entities. So we thought we were being all clever by going straight to Delta this time, when in reality we now wanted Continental. WTF????!?!?!?!!???! We can't be the first people confused by this. Logan is much larger than DIA, and the Continental desk was 3 terminals away. We hoofed it, sweating profusely the whole way, but again we had plenty of time.

Even more time than we thought we did, as the plane was 25 minutes late taking off. I tried not to worry. I tried to trust they knew what they were doing. But my air travel used to always be disastrous to the point of being comedic. I've been so late for a connecting flight that I had to ask for special treatment to be allowed off the plane first. I've had to run at top speed through an airport before, so I know the system isn't infallible, and I can never truly relax until I'm on that second connecting flight. But everything turned out to be fine. For the first time ever we arrived at gate C11 and departed from gate C17. We even had time to stop for Burger King (so naturally this time they actually served sandwiches on the plane). We had a little excitement after getting seated when the seat next to me stayed vacant. Tery jinxed it by making a big deal about it, because the rightful passenger showed up minutes before the cabin door closed. Ah, well. At least he was considerate about the armrest.

My only complaint was that there were so many children on the plane it was like a flying daycare center. Most were okay, but one little cherub woke up suddenly en route and then spent the last hour of the trip on and off (but way more on, I can assure you) screaming at the top of her lungs. My flimsy little headphones and my portable electronics turned to top volume couldn't drown this little monster out. I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought of requesting a pillow just to shut that goddam kid up. If animals are required to take tranquilizers to fly, I say it should similarly be mandatory for kids. My other suggestion for improving air travel would be to seat people according to carry-on size. Specifically, if you're trying to get away with something that only meets the maximum allowed by a hairsbreadth and will take 10 minutes to stuff into the overhead, you get to sit at the back of the plane so the rest of us don't have to stand there waiting because you're blocking the whole aisle with your selfish stupidity. You can also spend as much time as you want trying to unwedge your "carry-on" while the rest of us exit the plane. If I were running an airline, this would be policy one for sure.

When we arrived in Denver the plan was to call our housesitting friend from the first phone we saw, then go through baggage claim and sit and wait on the curb. So with 20-30 minutes to kill, naturally we got to the baggage carousel to find all the bags already spinning, and found ours in less than 3 minutes, another first. Mazzenfrackin... It was soooooo good to be home again with our babies (I got the usual silent treatment from Alsatia, but she got over it a few hours later when she remembered that yes, I'm the one she always used to sleep with). Tery went to get the bird who has been an angel ever since... we wonder if she thinks her miserable week in the hospital was punishment.

In conclusion: It's nice to get away, but it's nicer coming back. I missed New England - the trees, the winding back streets that are really fun to drive, the family, the feeling of being home. I told Tery I think this is the best visit I've ever had with the Dombrowskis. Maybe because now Mike is the "newbie" but I felt totally at home with them for the first time. It was a nice feeling. I didn't miss at all the debilitating humidity or having to drive 30 minutes to get to a store. We kept saying we'd be back in 9 months because Mike and Michelle can't wait to have their first child. Tery left not a moment too soon: her complexion that does fairly well in CO's dry climate started breaking out violently into what resembled a very bad heat rash. Fortunately this was after the wedding or she would have spent the entire weekend obsessing about it.

The most exciting thing that will be as a result of our visit is the fact that I simply cannot go back to my crappy AOL dial-up existence. Every place we stayed in CT had either DSL or cable modem. My first day back with AOL and it seemed like the connection had slowed to half its speed. Websites we visited in CT that loaded in the blink of an eye took so long on my computer I always had to give up in frustration. I got kicked offline no less than three times - it was like AOL wasn't even trying to please me anymore. The decision was easier when I realized that between AOL and the second phone line, I was already paying $42 a month. !!!!! It seems well worth it to shell out an extra $10 for a superior online experience. The other last straw was when I tried to access my AOL mail remotely at their website and more often than not I'd get the message that my sister's computer settings were wrong. Even though I had successfully used the site just an hour before. Stupid, useless AOL. I know they make it really hard for you to cancel, but this is it. We're through, AOL.

Here endeth the vacation posts, I promise.
grrgoyl: (please jesus)
Day V: Lebanon (and my childhood) Revisited

Sunday was my day to hook up with a couple of friends who I've known most of my life, Harold my ex-boyfriend and Lisa my best friend from elementary and high school. Tery was going to spend quality time with her family. LS and I were both awakened by the phone (I had been dreaming that I lost Harold's number and the guy at Directory Assistance thought it was hilarious to tease me and play games rather than give me it, to the point that I was crying with frustration). The phone call was someone at the Dombrowskis who told me, as I suspected, that last night's festivities had finally wound down at 4 a.m. or so. With LS up too, my morning regimen was peppered with apologies from her for the night before, and MORE analyzing and rationalizing, if you can believe it. Harold couldn't have arrived to get me too soon.

He came and brought me back to Lebanon, my hometown. Our first stop was the cemetary where my father is buried. I had never been before. I really didn't think I would cry, since I've had 5 years to come to terms with his death. But something about seeing his name carved into that cold, lifeless stone in the ground snuck up on me. I was grateful Harold was there for me. His marker is in a row with other military personnel, and it drives Harold mad (as an Army man himself) that the damn civilians who interred them didn't even line them up straight. Harold stops by once a month or so to make sure the graves are tidy. On Memorial Day he got a flag for one of the other servicemen's plot because it didn't have one, and he thought that was wrong. He always wants to bring flowers for my dad, but I won't let him. My dad would just think it was a waste of money, and he respects this. He is the sweetest guy.

From there it was a leisurely drive through the center of town. He showed me the new high school, and all the new houses going up on the Green. Some jackass had bought property right behind the War Office, a historical site from the Revolutionary War, on the condition they would build far away from it and inconspicuously. Once they owned the deed, they went back on their word and built a brand new split-level that overshadows it. I don't know how they got away with it or why they would want to, because I'm sure now everyone in town hates them (though, as Lisa later pointed out, it must be easy giving directions to it for parties).

He also took me down Lake Shore Drive, the street I grew up on. My jaw dropped at how much it's changed. It's apparently now the most desirable road in Lebanon, with people either squeezing new homes in or fixing up older ones to make them million-dollar properties. My mother could have done this with our house if she wasn't impatient and impulsive like me. I tried to get pictures of it, but the new owners were working in the front yard and I didn't want to freak them out. We snapped a few with Harold's camera phone and then took off, with Harold screaming "Praise Allah!" out the window. That's just the kind of sense of humor he has.

Next stop was Willimantic to see his wife and new baby boy, Benjamin. He was adorable and shy, but said goodbye to me when I left, making me I'm told one of the few people who had the honor of hearing him say their name to their face and not after they'd walked out the door. Harold also brought me to the second stop in my tour of New England restaurants, D'Angelo's. Nothing fancy, really they just sell pita pocket sandwiches, but I couldn't remember what I usually got. I settled on the tuna salad but sadly it fell a bit flat for me. D'Angelo's Revisited Experience: C

Next Harold took me to see Lisa, but not before parking for a bit and chatting. He confessed that he would always be attracted to me. I'm a big fan of people speaking their minds, but declarations like this tend to make me uncomfortable, especially when I can't honestly say I feel the same way. How DO you respond to that when you just want to be friends? I just smiled, kissed him on the cheek, and said, "I know." Not that it came as a surprise, he says things like this every time I talk to him. We both know nothing can ever happen between us again so our friendship goes on.

We got to Lisa's and Harold had to leave to catch a plane. It was very weird seeing Lisa at first. I haven't seen her since I moved to Colorado 9 years ago. But once we started talking it felt like we hadn't missed a day. She has a 6-year-old daughter, Ruthie, who's a Montessori student. I don't know if it's education or genes, but she was smart as a whip. I could talk to her like she was 5 years older than she was. She drew me a picture of an esophagus, complete with peristaltic muscles. I don't think I could have done that at her age and I was fairly advanced as well. We kept her busy looking for pictures of a pancreas while we caught up. We talked about teachers who had died or retired, and she dug out an album full of pictures of us that I had never even seen. There were pictures of my father I hadn't seen (our families were quite close). There were pictures from a party, and I joked about Lisa being at the center of all of them. "Well to be fair, it WAS my birthday" she pointed out. She had a picture of my Father Roger I'd never seen before. She asked if I had gone to the casino to try to see him; I had thought about it, but I am really afraid of ruining my memories of him. I don't want to see him old and fat and married. She made photocopies of all the ones I wanted. For example:

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Apparently I used to be skinny. Photographic proof that I once had a neck!


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I was also little punk rock grrl. This was me in college. Funny, I remember thinking I looked a lot meaner.


Lisa has always been fantastically creative and artistic, which I am sure also influences Ruthie's development. Her newest hobby is papercutting, which sounds simple and boring but she comes up with original designs that are quite stunning:

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She gave me this one just because I liked it so much



We had such a nice visit. I'm really glad I went.

She brought me back to the Dombrowskis, where we sat in the basement with Mike and Michelle and watched the wedding footage I had taken. We also joked at terrifically cruel lengths about LS. Of course the car-stealing incident was already a family legend and everyone was putting in their two cents. This is what they do. Choice quotes will now become inside jokes that will live for years beyond the actual event. There was also a fair share of mockery of Kristen, the 12-stepping sister-in-law. At one point Mike and Michelle went outside to smoke, and Michelle came back looking pale and shaky. She swore she heard someone outside yell at her "If you've got something to say, say it to my face!!" These exact words were uttered by Kristen to Tery's mother a few weeks earlier when Kristen's kids brought home some trash talk they had overheard about her. Michelle was convinced Kristen was lurking around in the bushes and eavesdropping through the window. Mike came in a few minutes later and added some crucial details...he said a complete stranger was outside talking on the phone across the street and describing what they wished they had said during an argument. But Michelle wouldn't be swayed, she was thoroughly freaked out. Her beloved siblings naturally had to prey on this. Tery thought it would be funny to suddenly stare out the basement door with a look of alarm on her face. Jason left to use the bathroom and stopped outside the basement window to hammer on it, making Michelle jump almost through the ceiling. Yep, there's something to be said about being an only child.

Of course, this supposed close call with being caught didn't stop Michelle from making snarky comments the very next day as we drove past Kristen's yard, with the windows of the car wide open.

Next: Day VI and VII, because not much happened on those days
grrgoyl: (please jesus)
Day IV: The Gathering Storm

Friday, and it was time to head down to CT for the wedding portion of the trip. We were hitching a ride with LS (the reasons for protecting her true identity will become clear before very long), who also lives in Boston and was a bridesmaid. I mentioned before the dangerously crazy driving that is the norm in Boston. My sister drives a Jeep Wrangler and is the perfect blend of careful, aggressive and for the most part alert. LS is only aggressive, which without its companions is scarier than if she had none of these traits. She also drives a VW Jetta; I know I rant about SUVs, but there was a definite difference between braving those streets from Jeep height vs. Jetta height. Needless to say I had some serious trust issues. First she parked smack in front of a fire hydrant to run in for coffee, leaving us sitting there while pedestrians glared at us for our flagrant disregard for the law. She pulled out of this stop without looking and almost got us all killed. At the second stop she narrowly missed taking out a cyclist who flew by within inches of us; she turned to us to laugh about it and tried again, narrowly missing taking out the guy's buddy who was right behind him. At this point Tery explained that rearview mirrors are intended for more than just cosmetic touchups. My god, what a ditz. She did better on the open highway and I slept almost the whole ride down.

Some back story on LS: She has known Tery's family since childhood but is exceedingly and unhealthily neurotic and sensitive, so not surprisingly the 5 Dombrowski children, once they realized how easily they could destroy her, have not stopped picking on her since. She moved in with Tery's sister Michelle when they went to school in Boston, where she developed a very "Single White Female" kind of crush on her that sadly has left her scarred to this day. Michelle is 100% straight and has been steadily trying to push her out of her life (we suspect she only made her a bridesmaid out of fear of LS slitting her wrists had she been excluded). LS claims to have moved on, making new friends, getting medicated, officially coming out of the closet and carving her own niche, but as you will see she still has a long road ahead of her.

Unfortunately LS was our only ride for the whole weekend...unfortunate because she is scatterbrained and kind of selfish on top of being a complete Looney Toon. Friday wasn't too bad but Saturday, the Big Day, started out rather unpleasantly. LS had saved her leftovers from the rehearsal dinner, a very expensive plate of fish, which Jason, the youngest brother, had taken out of the fridge to make room for his Jello shots, spoiling it. I had to take her side on this one, I thought that was unbelievably thoughtless of him, but that's how he is and always will be because there are never any consequences for him. The point is we then had to spend the morning getting grinders (another New England specialty that I will now miss until my next visit) because who knew when we'd get the chance to eat again. I ate mine en route at some point, but the other three we bought (for LS, Tery and Michelle) ended up sitting in the car all day and night. We put them in the fridge before the party and they ultimately got eaten by Tery's father, who rapaciously devours anything in the house that isn't nailed down. It's a very dog-eat-dog, kill-or-be-killed family, and frankly I have no idea how she lasted hanging around them as long as she has.

Between the ceremony and the reception, LS claimed Michelle had forgotten her lipstick at home and we needed to stop for it. This turned out to be a lie...actually LS and Jason wanted to stop for a quick Jello shot to tide them over. Because for some reason the day was so stressful for THEM that they needed a buzz to cope. Meanwhile Tery, the maid of honor, was with us and desperate to get to the hall for the professional photo shoot. She was so anxious she honked the horn to get their asses in gear, which is not like her at all. Her stress caused me to be stressed, which made LS nervous because she thought I was mad at her. I explained I was only mad on behalf of Tery. Her whole attitude was still a little too "Chill out, will you, what's the big deal?" for either of our tastes. Later speculation was that she just couldn't stand for Michelle to have a day when it wasn't all about LS, and I'm inclined to agree.

We had all decided on the way over that I was most definitely to be the designated driver later. So it was mystifying as to why LS, who herself was carrying a purse, gave her keys to someone else to hold, who had left to get Benadryl for her daughter (the person in question was Tery's sister-in-law, who is addicted to 12-step programs (or "her meetings" as she calls them) to the point of tragically neglecting her three children and husband. Thus when she couldn't be found, Tery wondered if she hadn't grabbed "a quick meeting" in between the ceremony and the reception). We left all our camera equipment in LS's car thinking the professionals would have it covered, but then decided it would be nice to get some shots. For an hour we couldn't get to the cameras and it was making Tery and me crazy. When we finally tracked down the keys and I went out to the car, whoever had used them last had left the front door unlocked with our camera and camcorder sitting plain as day on the backseat. Very nice. Luckily the hall was a very hoity-toity place whose clients would probably see our "high-end" stuff as good enough only to give to their kids as toys.

My last straw with LS came after the reception, when there was an after-party at the Dombrowskis. I remember well how much this family enjoys partying; big, loud, drunken revelries that last well into the following morning. Back when it was a monthly thing I had built up a tolerance, but I'd been out of the game for 5 years at this point and I decided a few hours alone at the empty bride and groom's house sounded far more appealing. Tery assured me it was fine, LS was well on her way to being trashed out of (what little remains of) her mind, I should just take the car and head back. I didn't even get the key into the ignition when LS appeared out of nowhere, screaming at me, "Where the FUCK do you think you're going with my car????" My first thought was "Where the FUCK do you THINK I'm going?" I mean, it wasn't like I was going back to Boston. But she was clearly unhinged and I didn't want to make this even uglier. I told her the party was too much for me and Tery said it was alright. "No, no, no. You are NOT taking my car anywhere," she slurred at me, and lunged for her keys. I yanked them away and said, "Well you certainly aren't getting these keys from me in your condition" and stormed into the house. Tery sat down with her, talked a little sense into her, and she calmed down. She followed me back out, saying it would have been nice if someone had asked her (I agreed, but we all thought she was utterly wasted) and making me promise not to wreck it. Ellen, Tery's cousin, was on the porch watching all this and called out to her, "You want me to drive, L? I mean, I've had a few drinks. Elaine hasn't had any, but I'd be happy to drive your car." Oh, this didn't help. I got out of there as fast as I could.

I got back to Michelle and Michael's and hadn't even taken my sandals off when the phone rang and I recognized the Dombrowskis' number. It was none other than LS, wanting me to come back and pick her up. Oh, you motherfucking, spiteful, lunatic bitch. It was only 10 minutes away, not a big deal, if not for the fact that I knew damn well she was just playing games with me. So I don't feel so bad that I was completely unaware of two large boulders off at the edge of the driveway and I accidentally backed over them so the rear tire temporarily got wedged and the undercarriage of the car made a godawful scraping noise going over them. Perhaps Ellen SHOULD have driven. Oh well. LS lives in Boston. She'll never notice.

I got back to the Dombrowskis and acted nice as pie with her. The problem seemed to be she had loaned her pajama bottoms to another woman who was even drunker than her and refused to leave without getting them back. Ah, the logic of the debilitatingly inebriated. We thought the woman had left and LS had a mini-fit of hysteria on the spot. "You don't understand!!!" she shrieked for all the neighbors to hear, "I LOST MY VIRGINITY IN THOSE PANTS!!!!!!" Oh sweet baby Jesus, WHEN would I be left alone tonight? I didn't even ask why she would loan someone something that obviously had such enormous sentimental value to her. Tery was at her wit's end. She was saying things like "They aren't going to vaporize if you don't get them back tonight." Very true, but clearly Tery has no experience reasoning with people as drunk as LS. We finally found the woman passed out in her husband's car and got the damn pants back.

Then, the drive home. I learned too late that LS creates this high drama for the sole purpose of then being able to analyze it, and re-analyze it, and discuss it, and deliberate about it, and analyze it some more until she's sure you understand every imaginable nuance of the situation from her perspective. To her tonight was just the culmination of a lifetime of abuse and harassment suffered at the hands of the Dombrowski family. Ellen's snide little remark earlier was just another nail in the coffin, just another example of how they all gang up on her. She was thankful that this was the last big event she would be attending. I tried to be sympathetic, hoping it would get her to shut up. I pointed out that, although it was way too late now, perhaps if she didn't let them know how much they got to her they would have given up picking on her a long time ago. This concept was a bit too evolved for her in her current state. The Dombrowskis made her realize that people would walk all over her her entire life unless she stood up for herself. She's probably right, however I really have no interest in getting involved in a relationship that might take years of therapy to recover from (for her, not me). Once back at the house it took forever to get to bed because when you are that drunk, a closed bedroom door (or for that matter multiple "Good nights") apparently isn't an adequate deterrent to continuing a conversation that was already well and truly beaten into the ground. Oy vey.

In between all this nonsense there was actually a beautiful wedding with a radiant bride and groom. See for yourself:

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Have you ever seen a more perfect-looking couple?



The family invited me to be in the portrait of siblings and spouses, which made me feel tremendously honored. At the reception I asked Michelle if she minded if Tery and I danced the Anniversary Dance (where married couples are dismissed from the floor until the one with the most longevity is left) and her face crumbled. She couldn't believe I even felt the need to ask. She said we had better dance it, and then she dissolved into tears as she thanked me for taking such good care of her sister. I didn't cry so much at even my own sister's wedding. I will try to forget that our special dance was ruined by the Pajama Bottom Drunk, who broke in to make it a threesome so she could drag us into the center to find her son and daughter-in-law. Thanks, Pajama Bottom Drunk. Maybe at the next party you should stick to club soda. I thought I had met most of the Dombrowskis, but they were just coming out of the woodwork. I told Tery next time I would need a slideshow presentation and an opportunity to study first, because they all knew me (from stories), leaving me at a distinct disadvantage.

It was a very long day and no one could have been more thrilled than I was when it was over (except possibly Michelle and Michael).

Next: Lebanon Revisited
grrgoyl: (please jesus)
The title of this is a bit misleading. I am now actually back in Denver. Turns out once the CT/wedding portion of the trip got underway, things started getting a little whirlwind and left no time at all for updating. Which might be better as it will spare my readers from hearing every excruciating detail that I have now forgotten. Before moving on, I should include the pictures that rightfully belong on Day II:

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Worshipping at my shrine. It occurred to me I once saw a pair of teenyboppers at the Mall of America taking a similar shot in front of Guess, and I remember thinking that was so gay. This, in contrast, is unutterably cool.



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My cool new Pirate Devil Duckie. I'm too lazy to take a picture of the actual item.


For an image of that neato cool magnet, you need look no further than my new icon. It so rocks my socks.

Day 3 was actually my second day after flying, which is historically when my jet lag hits, so I spent the entire day in a stupor. We did go to the first of my planned restaurant stops, Dunkin Donuts. It will sound crazy to folks in the East where they have one literally every 50 feet or so, but they closed them all down in Denver and I have yet to find a donut shop that even comes close (and this includes Krispy Kreme (uch) and Winchell's (uch uch)). Not to mention they've expanded their menu and now sell a fabulicious slushy drink called a Vanilla Bean Coolatta. This beverage combined with my mostly sedentary lifestyle would ensure that I would gain 300 pounds before long. I got this rather than the hot chocolate, which my friend Jeffy from England used to refer to as the "nectar of the gods," but it was just too damn warm for a hot drink. As far as donuts, even though I knew I wanted a Bavarian creme, I was trying to peek behind the counter to see what other choices there were. It was 9 am, the joint was hopping, and if you strayed within 3 feet of the counter four employees would jump all over you to take your order. I unknowingly teased them like this a few times before ultimately settling on my original goal anyway. The donut was everything I remembered...super soft, super tasty, super moist. The Dunkin Donuts Revisited Experience: A+

Amy wanted to take us kayaking on the Charles River. She had been before and told us how fun it was. Tery was reluctant, not wanting to get hurt before the wedding. The place offered kayaks, canoes and paddleboats. Tery was pushing for a canoe, but I pointed out that they weren't going to send untrained amateurs out if it were the slightest bit dangerous. She relented and Amy was right; kayaks were much more fun than canoes:

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::more watery fun:: )

The water was so calm it was more like a lake than a river. Amy and I grew up with a lake as our backyard. It might be stretching it to say that we could swim before we could walk, but not by much. I've spent many a happy summer of my childhood rowing out to the middle and falling asleep in the boat under the warm sun. So I was slightly amused when I noticed another kayaker sort of...lingering around us, obviously a chaperone. But he disappeared when he was satisfied we weren't going to drown. As you can see from the pictures it was quite beautiful, and reminded me strongly of those summers on the lake. Take special note of all the trees on the banks. It was perfect. It made me wish I lived there so I could buy a kayak and do this every day. But it wasn't to last (at $14 an hour per boat) so we begrudgingly paddled back to the dock, but not before engaging in some goodnatured splashing, racing, and further mocking of the Boston accent. "The Chahhhhhles Rivah" I called it, and asked Amy if they deliberately added R's to all their words just to take them out again.

After that we dined at a very fancy Mexican restaurant with Amy and her boyfriend, also on the Chahhles Rivah, where the waitress felt so bad for forgetting my Coke that on every subsequent visit she was careful to cater to my needs first. Very nice, considering I didn't much mind the missing soda to begin with.


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In front of me, my very girly, wussy drink, a Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri, which actually wasn't very good. Behind me, the Chahhhles Rivah.

We went back to Amy's to watch her new Scrubs DVD (which of course I now have to get for myself) and that was it for Day III.

Day IV (coming VERY soon) promises to be quite lengthy, so I'm chopping them up a bit.
grrgoyl: (Lainey South Park)
Day Two:

Our first full day in the city and, in keeping with the traditions of our female bloodline, the plan was to go shopping. Before that, however, a word on Boston drivers.

The term "Massholes" is fully deserved, believe me. Actually, "Massuicidal maniacs" is a lot closer to the truth. Aiy-yi-yi. Appalling. Streets that in Denver would be widely regarded as two lane, in Boston are split into 4 or even 6 lanes at the whim of individual drivers. Leaving more than a few inches between cars is an open invitation to cut in. There are dozens of close calls and harrowing near misses in the space of only a few miles, and downright miraculous there aren't more accidents. It is more like the ebb and flow of a river than a road with defined lanes. Traffic lights are treated, in Tery's words, as if they're saying, "Eh...if ya got the time, it'd be nice if ya stopped." You can count on someone honking at you if you aren't in motion 30 seconds before the light turns green. Ironically the streets are crawling with cops, who Amy informs us only act if you are guilty of several blatant, repeated moving violations in a row. I'm a fairly aggressive driver (as my longtime readers can attest) and I had to just close my eyes and hope for the best.

We parked and walked to Harvard Square, where we amused ourselves for far too long making fun of the local accents: "I pahhhked the cahhh in the gahrahhhge behind Hahhhvahhd Square." Yeah, real original, I know. Amy took us to a mini-shopping mall that specialized in goth stores and tattoo parlors. The jewel in the crown of this strip was Newbury Comics. If Hot Topic is my favorite store in the world, Newbury Comics is my favorite store in the universe. I used to spend an obscene amount of money when we lived right down the street from one in Rhode Island. It shares a lot of the same merchandise, plus an enormous selection of CDs and DVDs, new and used, books, magazines, accessories, toys, clothing. Sadly I had to restrain myself from filling another suitcase full of purchases, but couldn't resist a black-and-white pirate Devil Duckie, a Rosie the Riveter card that says "Chicks Kick Ass" (I love the button version I got from a friend), and a magnet that most certainly will make an appearance later as an icon, I'll save it as a surprise. Of course for everything I got there were 5 other things I didn't, including a black and white t-shirt that read, "Do I look like a fucking people person??" and a retro orange one with a clip art version of Jesus' head that read, "Jesus has my back" (I loved that one, I don't know why). There was Nightmare Before Christmas stuff everywhere, and several different Eric Draven dolls. I took video of a plush "Humpty" dog that actually worked itself realistically and noisily to climax. We started wrapping it up after about an hour. Amy kept asking if I was sure I was ready to leave, and I kept explaining I would happily spend the rest of the week there so there really was no good time to go. I'll post pics when I get home.

From Hahhhvahd Square we went to the Museum of Science to watch a flick at the OmniMax theater. This was incredible. For an idea of how incredible, I have two words: Imax, Shmimax. It was like Imax, except the film covers from mid ceiling to floor of a dome, so it was a full 180 degrees of viewing space. It was the closest thing you could get to virtual reality goggles without looking unforgivably dorky. The seats are so sharply stacked that just climbing up to them gives you vertigo. We saw "Mystery of the Nile," an hour-long documentary about an attempt to ride the entire 3000-mile length of the Nile in rafts and kayaks. The opening shots of the movie are breathtaking, taken from a plane skimming over the title character. I scoffed at the pre-show warnings about motion sickness, but I sure as hell was feeling it when the plane started banking sharply around the curves. The danger with these movies is once you get over the jaw-dropping scenery and being amazed by the medium, you need some kind of story to fall back on. "Nile" wasn't too bad, except it had a maddening way of building up tension only to abandon the anecdote without resolving it. For example: Gordon, their kayak expert, suddenly finds himself waylaid on all sides by deadly crocs. The voiceover points out that if the biggest one whose head he was smacking with the paddle got ahold of his arm, it could easily pull and hold him under while the rest of them moved in and he'd be a goner. Scary indeed. But then the scene gently transitions away and suddenly the threat is over. No explanation about how he got out of it, basically no money shot. Later two of the guys decide to try to cross a 10-mile stretch in the middle of the night to make up lost time when a huge storm blows up from nowhere. We see them caught in the gale, battling enormous waves with rain battering their faces. Next thing we know, it's the following morning and everything's fine. What the...? The obvious answer is that the film crew or some kind of support team dropped the camera and saved them, but as anticlimactic as that would be, it would be far less jarring for the viewer. Editing 101? Anyone?

From there we stopped for dinner and then onto Revenge of the Sith. Tery of course would rather talk with my mother about prospective needlepoint projects than sit through a single Star Wars movie ever, so we dropped her off at the Cask & Flagon, a bar close enough to Fenway to smell the popcorn in the downdraft. And now, for my moviegoing public:

::Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith:: )

3.5 out of 5, but I still think "Empire" is the best.

Of course, there's no escaping the assholes. Amy and I got there really early and found excellent seats right in the upper middle section. I got up for one last potty break, just long enough for two guys to show up and sit in the seats directly behind us. When I came back the guy behind me had his big meaty foot up right on the top of my chair back, which I honestly tried really, really hard to ignore, despite it literally being an inch from my head. But of course he couldn't be happy with that level of intrusiveness. He had to start rocking it back and forth, shaking his leg, vibrating my entire seat. I decided to nip this in the bud, turning around and politely (I thought, though Amy heard it differently apparently) asking him to please not kick my chair. He looked at me dully, having to tilt his head sideways to make eye contact around his huge hoof. "Sure," he said civilly, and I thanked him, but he didn't move his fucking foot an inch from its perch. I gave it a few minutes but when still nothing changed, I decided my choice was to admit defeat and move, or spend the entire movie wanting to punch him in the face. I chose the first option and moved us a few rows down and on the outside. I didn't give the slightest glance in his direction to see what, if any, reaction he had. The theater turned out to be packed and I can't help wondering if someone else was forced to deal with his attitude or if he learned some manners from me. Nice to know inconsideration is universal.

Later this altercation was the source of my first little squabble with my sister. She thinks my request was made much more snottily than I imagined it. She maintained that since I was gone, to him the seat was empty and he was within his rights. I pointed out that once I returned and it quickly became apparent that it WASN'T empty, a decent human being would find somewhere else to put their hamhock. The root of the problem was she thought I took too long to let it go since I repeated the story to Tery later. I explained that I DO eventually let things go, when my rant has run its course. And now that I've posted the story, I really, truly am done with it.

Coming soon: Day Three
grrgoyl: (kitty fantastico)
I am writing this from my sister's place in Boston. We're chillin' here for a couple of days before going to CT for the sister-in-law's wedding. As is everything else in my life, the journey here was not without considerable adventure.

It began the morning before we left. Tery had to bring Pepita, our orange-winged Amazon (and a creature I'm starting to suspect she loves more than me) to board at the hospital. Tery had spent the previous night assembling her box of toys (including a CD she had me burn for the bird, I'm not kidding) as well as daily portions of her food that include just about every fruit, nut and vegetable known to man. She went out the door this morning and I prepared for one last workout, my final push to lose 20 pounds before the trip... except I noticed the toy box still sitting in the kitchen. In slow motion I ran to the balcony, in time to see the rear end of her car pulling away. "Nooooooooooo..." I thought but of course didn't say, as it's not as funny when you're alone. Barely stopping to think, I threw on some clothes and ran to my car. My first plan was to catch up with her on the highway, flag her down, pass it on, be on my way. She drives like a grandmother even when she isn't transporting live animals. I envisioned darting daringly in and out of lanes to find her, when in reality I immediately got bogged down in stop-and-go traffic with so many damn SUVs around me I wouldn't have known if she were only three cars ahead of me. It occurred to me that right about now a cellphone would really, really come in handy. I worried that she would notice the box missing and double back. I eventually decided she must have taken an alternate route to avoid the mess I was now in. The truth was actually neither; she had stopped for gas and was BEHIND me the entire time. By the time I gave up looking for her I realized I might as well just go all the way to the hospital myself. I beat her there, and boy was she surprised to see me. But I was the hero of the day!

After getting that sorted out, we got to the airport in plenty of time. The woman at the security point took our boarding passes and stamped them briskly, then immediately got a little bit of an attitude because "we" gave her the wrong ones, the passes for our connecting flight. Sorry, lady, we've only had the things for about 5 minutes, not enough time to memorize which was which just yet. Related to this or not, we got selected for the super-special strip search at the security checkpoint. (No one's going to accuse DIA of racial profiling, nosiree!) Okay, so it wasn't a STRIP search, but we did get the full pat down and rifling through of the carry-ons. Which made me a tad nervous, with my CD case being chock full of MST and Buffy DVD bootlegs (well, the Buffys are Asian discs whose true origin is shrouded in mystery). But thank goodness this particular crime is apparently out of DIA security's jurisdiction. We passed the search and cheerfully thanked them for their thoroughness, but only because we were two hours early for our flight so could afford to be delayed.

We reached the concourse with plenty of time to spare, and able to relax for the first time and savor the feeling of being on vacation. Tery and I haven't taken a real vacation together in 9 years, thanks to living on a farm involving intricate rules of animal care that we previously couldn't really trust to anyone else. We basked in the glow of each other's company for exactly the time it took to find the gate, then Tery took off for the bar lounge and I hung out to read my new David Sedaris book. Yep, taking vacation together is nothing short of glorious!

I enjoyed the solitude of my location, that is until other people started showing up and clustering around me, every last one of them armed with a cellphone that had to be used the second their ass touched the chair to provide their loved one(s) with a breaking update of their progress thus far. Where has the silence gone? Are there really people sitting around somewhere waiting to hear, "Hi, it's me. Yeah, I'm in the airport now. Nope, just waiting for them to start boarding. Okay, talk to you later." Like in 7 minutes after I've gone to take a piss or something equally interesting happens to me. These people should get LJ's or something.


The first leg of our flight was fairly uneventful. For once we actually didn't have a toddler or infant either behind or in front of us. It was very nice. My only complaint would have to be the lack of amenities the passengers suffer from all the airline cutbacks. More specifically, if I haven't eaten since breakfast because I was too busy running a box of stupid bird toys halfway across town, Delta's little packet of 7 animal crackers really, really is no kind of substitute for a meal, even though the meals they used to serve were hardly anything to write home about either. By the time we landed in Atlanta to make our connection I was positively unbearable. No one knows me for very long without learning that my immediate reaction to a drop in blood sugar is blind, unfathomable rage (although some might argue that that's my reaction to everything. I concede that this might be true). The only two cures for this condition are either a.) feed me something, anything, but do it quick, or b.) let the starvation continue until I'm too weak to outwardly express my fury. Unfortunately we hit Atlanta too early for "b" to be an option, so Tery had to run to keep up as I stormed through the terminal. It didn't help that we arrived at Concourse E but had to depart from Concourse B...does any kind of logic at all go into connecting flights? I thought not. What also didn't help was the oppressive humidity that immediately seeped into our very being the minute we stepped off the plane. Ugh.

We only had an hour, actually less since they close the door 15 minutes before departure sometimes. No offense to people who live in Georgia, but things move a little slower there. Other passengers. ATM machines. Food service personnel. I thought my blood, highly pressurized and undiluted with any trace of glucose, would pop my head right off my shoulders. We got to Concourse B, which miraculously featured a food court right at the top of the escalator. We hightailed it to the first familiar kiosk, Popeye's. Not wanting to spend $30 on fast food, we decided to split a combo meal. We went to pay and salvation was near, but the two girls working the register inexplicably got into a debate about whether we were buying one meal or two. I had paid and was only waiting for my change, a $10 bill that the girl waved back and forth in front of her face languidly while determining if I should get it or not. I saw all this through a blood-red haze and I'm certain she has no idea how close she came to having all her fingers bitten off. Fortunately for her she made the right decision. I'm sure I resembled some kind of wild animal devouring that delicious, greasy chicken breast, but I was beyond caring.

We got on the plane and found we were seated in the exit row...another flying first for me. We half joked, half took it seriously as Tery studied the instruction card. I was reminded of and couldn't resist quoting Fight Club. "Calm as Hindu cows," I said of the pictures of placid passengers supposdly engaging in emergency evacuation procedures. A flight attendant came up to all of us in the exit row to make sure we understood our added responsibility and were okay with performing our duty should it be necessary. Our side of the aisle was solid, but on the opposite side sat a large, mannish woman who made me look like freakin' Christina Aguilera by comparison. She wasn't shy to admit that she preferred to sit elsewhere, however, she also refused to be separated from her daughter (14 or so). It was a full flight, but the attendant eventually returned with the offer of two other seats, but not right next to each other. The wo/man refused so the attendant insisted s/he begin looking over the instructions. S/he opened the leaflet, took one look at the illustrations without words and exclaimed disgustedly, "Oh, what's THIS crap??" thinking the attendant had disappeared. Unfortunately she hadn't, and clearly had taken her last dose of shit from a passenger long before this wo/man showed up. She came back a minute later and said point blank, "I would feel much better if you didn't sit in this row, ma'am. This isn't 'crap,' it's actually extremely important." The wo/man tried to explain herself but the attendant was done with his/her ass. S/he was summarily moved, I don't know where his/her daughter ended up (though had I been her, I would have been happier sitting as far from him/her as could be managed after that little scene). Tery and I buried our noses in our own leaflets, determined to be seen taking it as seriously as possible.

The peculiar thing about the exit row was that it was lacking tray tables on the backs of the seats in front of us. I said I would gladly trade the extra 2 inches of leg room for that tray. We thought it was because in the event of a crash they didn't want the key exit row team distracted with returning them to their upright positions, however halfway through the flight we noticed there WERE tables, the old retractable kind that are buried in the armrest when not in use. These puppies required about 5 minutes of intense concentration to operate and re-stow, and that was without screaming soon-to-be crash victims surrounding us or flames shooting into our faces or flying debris. How on earth is THIS a better idea than the simple back-of-the-seat model?

We arrived in Boston okay, obviously. It's fabulous being at sea level again. I feel like I can run a marathon. Oh, and iMacs (or at least my sister's iMac) really, really suck. That's it for day one. TTFN

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December 2011

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