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Baltimore

I got into Baltimore on time and without incident. Since my name apparently matches that of a known terrorist, I was unable to check in online for my flight, and wound up getting on the plane third to last. The flight was full, so by that time the only seats available were middle seats. I fully expected to spend the two hour flight pinned between two meaty overweight neighboring shoulders. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw a seat available between a slim unassuming businessman and a achingly beautiful young woman.

I spent the flight drifting in and out of consciousness, and finally struck up a conversation with my agreeable neighbors as the plane began its descent. As is my custom, I surprised them both with my plans for an entire week devoted to leisure travel. When we got off the plane, the extremely attractive woman and I walked over to the MARC station, and parted ways with our transportation traveling in opposite directions.

After a startlingly short time, I found that I was right in the middle of downtown Baltimore. I stepped off the train into a light but persistent drizzle. I took a look at a handy downtown wayfinder map to find that I had perhaps 2 miles to walk to get to my hotel. I looked like a drowned rat when I slogged into the hotel lobby about 30 minutes later. It was about 5:30pm, and I had over six hours before Craig and Amber's plane was expected to land. We arranged via text message to meet up in whatever place was convenient when they arrived, so I took the elevator up to the 10th floor, changed into dry clothes, and wasted little time in getting out in Baltimore.

I first wandered into a really charming place called the Dego Dame in Little Italy, just down Eastern Avenue from the hotel. Some really excellent music was playing, including a rap-remake of Cherchez La Femme. I had some Yuengling draughts and a bottle of a semi-local cheapie called National Bohemian, affectionately known as, "Natty Bo," to locals. After a couple beers and an adequate steak and cheese I decided enough time of silence had passed for me to break it. I struck up a conversation with Mark, sitting next to me. After learning of my beer-related intentions, he revealed himself to be a goldmine of local knowledge. I settled my tab and headed, per Mark's suggestion, into Fell's Point.

It was still wet outside, but the combination of all the standing and falling water, with the fading twilight lent a luster or shine to everything that made me happy that I'd traveled to be there. I approached what appeared to be a very attractive old pub called Dudas. I walked in, but it seemed to be very classy, and had a line to get in anyway, so I walked across the street to the DuClaw Brewing Company. It was totally lame. With mediocre beers named like VENOM, and THIS BEER MIGHT KILL YOU, and a striped shirt clientele, I lasted for one beer before I ran on out.

It was fully dark when I wandered into the humorously named, "EAT BERTHA'S MUSSELS,' a couple minutes later. I quickly made friends with a couple from Harrisburg whose names I don't remember, and enjoyed talking about travel and drinking beers they bought me. They left when the blues band stopped playing. i got up to use the bathroom to find that some party-girls had moved my beer and taken my seat. Not wishing to make waves, I found another seat at the bar and struck up a conversation with a local gentleman that told me, among other things, that if you want good beer in Baltimore, Max's is the place to go. I asked him where it was, and he leaned back on his barstool and pointed out the window across the street.

I said thank-you and hastened across the street to Max's. The place was already pretty busy, but I managed to get a seat at the bar as it was being vacated. I talked with my neighbor for a while, who was obsessing about his soon-to-leave-town Rusian girlfriend. He left soon after to obsess some more, and I was left by myself up at the bar. That is, alone until three lovely grad students from Johns Hopkins approached and befriended me. We took dozens of pictures, and wound up exchanging information so we could be facebook friends.

Soon after that, I got a tap on my shoulder, and it was Amber. With a mile-wide smile she gave me a big hug and called Craig over. They were both laden with all their stuff from the flight, and shuffled it all under a table as we enjoyed another couple of beers before last call was announced. Drunk by this time, i still successfully led them back to the hotel, and sleep came immediately.

We woke up at convenient intervals the next morning, getting showered and cleaned up at our leisure. We walked toward the Inner Harbor, with a stop at Panera for Craig and Amber to get their daily coffee fix. We walked up Charles Street in the increasing heat, looking for a small brewery by sister in law recommended called The Brewer's Art. When we sweatily stepped in front of its welcoming doors we found that it wouldn't be open for another three hours. So, we walked down to Eager and drank beer at the City Cafe until 4pm, when we came back to The Brewer's Art.

Their beer was excellent, but a bit of a disagreement between Craig and Amber was kind of getting in the way of our good time. I struck up a conversation with Scott and Carrie who were sitting on the other side of the bar, and enjoyed talking with them with each passing minute. When the topic of dinner came up, they started rattling off enthusiastic recommendations while Craig and Amber seemed to be working things out, to my relief.

Scott and Carrie gave me directions to a place called Martick's, and another called Thairish, and rather insisted on giving us a ride to Marticks. Wowed by their generosity, we piled into the back of their Scion and enjoyed the short, air-conditioned ride to Martick's. the building was completely unadorned. There was no sign on the building, no windows, not even an address by which we could orient ourselves. Scott held the buzz-ring doorbell in for four or five second-long notes, and for about 40 seconds, nothing happened. Then, the mailslot flipped open and someone asked us what we wanted. Scott replied with something I didn't quite catch, but was apparently good enough for the chain-secured door to then open, revlealing a skeletal old man who informed us that the restaurant was closed, and would probably not be opening ever again.

Turned adrift, we hastened with Scott and Carrie over to Thairish, where an unidentifiably Asian man named Kerrigan throws together of of the best, fastest Thai food I have ever tasted, including a crabcake dish that made me wish I lived there.

Immensely grateful for their help, advice, and generosity, we thanked Scott and Carrie, and inquired about how to get back downtown. They wouldn't hear of it. They instructed us to climb back into the car and proceeded to take us out for drinks. We went to a bar that has a trapeze in it, on which a woman apparently still swings around on occasion. Beers were poured by a woman with a flower in her dark brown hair and the prettiest smile I have ever seen. Despite the bar's merits, we soon grew tired of it, and wandered about what to do next.

They were delighted that I not only knew the movie Pecker, but was indeed rather obsessed with it. As a treat, they drove us to Hampden, where the movie was filmed. In the post-midnight darkness they pointed to various buildings among the innumerable rowhouses where various events from the movie took place. I have now seen the Pelt Room, for example.

We next went to some Hampden bar that was deemed far too trendy by Craig, Amber, and me. After one beer it was probably 1:30am, so we profusely thanked our generous hosts and jumped in a cab. I thought it was pretty funny that the cab driver didn't know how to get where we were going(the inner harbor), and I, who'd been there for about 30 hours, gave her directions to downtown Baltimore. Even so, she was still unable to do any better than Power Plant Live. It was about 1:45am, and it was shocking how the crowd was basically identical to the crowd that I've noticed at Kansas City's Power and Light District, developed by the same company.

We made the relatively short walk back to the hotel, stopping in the lobby for munchies. We gorged ourselves on disgusting finger-food before falling asleep in front of the TV. Maybe it's something that Craig and Amber are used to doing, but I go kind of crazy with a bright major appliance flashing right behind my eyelids, so once it became clear to me that they never intended to turn off the TV and go to bed, and were heavily asleep, I got up and searched for an off button on it. There wasn't one, and the remote was securely under Craig's leg or something. So I pulled the TV's plug and snored until 10:30am.

We checked out the next morning, and had a couple of hours before our train was scheduled to leave for Washington. So we used the time to wander around the Inner Harbor by the light of day. We grabbed some tapas and Sangria, and gawked around at moored boats in the National Maritime Museum, and navigated the Labor Day weekend crowd that had turned out to go to the Aquarium. We finished our time in Baltimore with a quick stop at an ATM before hailing a cab to the train station.

Baltimore was a truly excellent city. While I'm sure the city certainly has its share of problems with poverty and crime, there are abundant bright spots. The city is exceedingly beautiful. Its recent recovery has made full use of the excellent stock of buildings that would have been knocked down decades ago in the Midwest. This account took me three days to write, so don't be too expectant of my story of Washington any time soon. I write these final passages on a shaky train seat somewhere in the darkness between Charlottesville and Greensboro, so just reread this very long account a bunch of times, if you feel the need to find out more about my super-awesome trip.

9:23 AM, Sep 3, 2008

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Washington, DC

I left you off with our three brave travelers waiting in Baltimore's rustic train station for the departure of the train into our nation's capital. There is little to report about the train station other than the fact that there was a relatively tame pigeon there that was missing a foot. We climbed on the train and seated ourselves around a cafe car table. I busied myself with silly pictures and videos, in an attempt to pass the hour the trip took, and to avoid assembling my thoughts to write up our experiences in Baltimore.

Much more quickly that any of us expected, the train lurched to a halt after passing buildings with 202-numbers branded on their sides. It didn't compute temporally, but the fact is that Baltimore and Washington are closer together than Kansas City is from some of its suburbs. We followed the sizable crowd into the main terminal of Washington's Union Station like a tributary flows into a river. It was the busiest train station I'd ever seen. We quickly made our way to the exit via the truly grand Main Hall, and immediately fled the splendid blue afternoon into the ground to catch the Metro's red line to Dupont Circle, which we had deemed to be the closest station to our hotel.

We walked down Massachusetts, passing the Embassies of Uzbekistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Peru, Chile, the Philippines, and Australia before reaching our hotel at 16th and L. The large doors, clad in red vinyl and gold rivets, creepily opened automatically at only a slight push, and the hotel's modern interior was immediately apparent, and continued as we rode the elevator up to our room on the tenth floor. The hotel obviously was trying to distinguish itself with style and class, and we just saw it as lame. Not dissuaded by the lameness of our accomodations, we walked down 16th to I(Eye), which we then walked to get to the Farragut West orange line stop. We took the train under the Potomac into Arlington, to meet up with my cousin Bart, his wife Catherine, and their baby daughter Moira.

They drove in from their home in Winchester, VA to join us for dinner at the Quarterdeck. Craig and Amber wanted to eat some steamed crabs, so Craig called ahead and had them hold on to two dozen blue crabs for us. The whole affair turns my stomach, and I never had any intention to pull a crab apart. So I had a BLT and a plate of fries just before turning sheet-white as the others smashed and dissected a dozen crabs. I came close to getting sick more than a couple times.

Despite the trying sight before my eyes, it was wonderful to see Bart and Catherine again, and it was sublime to meet Moira for the first time. We caught up as best we could, but I was so put off by the crab smashfest that I was a little distracted. After dinner we bade them farewell, as they had to get going to make their two-hour drive back home, and we walked back across Arlington to the Rosslyn Metro station. Through a transfer at Metro Center, we got back on the red line to Dupont Circle, from which we then made a beeline for the Brickskeller.

The Brickskeller, I have read and been told, has the world's largest beer selection. The selection is indeed incredible, and regarding bottles is certainly the most abundant selection I have ever seen. But they have nothing available on tap at all. This wasn't that big of a problem though, as the great variety more than made up for any absence of draught. We stumbled back to the hotel and watched October Sky, which I hadn't seen in probably eight or nine years, and found just as interesting as when I first saw it. I kept laughing at the jokes and reacting to the drama until well after craig and Amber conked right out. i stole a glance at the clock and saw that it was 3:30am. I dropped the movie and went to sleep.

Despite the late crash, we still got up by 10am or so. After what became something of a ritual for the rest of the trip, we went to one of Washington's comically abundant Starbucks locations for whatever it is that Starbucks sells. Honestly, it's amazing to me that there are people that have been conditioned to think they need to drink coffee every morning. Since Craig and Amber have been together, they've made it a mutual aspect of their relationship. But, there are far worse things to which one can get accustomed. Plus, it's nice to go to a restaurant-style place.

We walked down 16th until it ended in a T at Pennsylvania, with the White House filling our view. The street has been completely closed off to auto traffic, though foot and pedal traffic are still welcome. It's a wide open field of fire now, so I would guess that if anyone pulled a weapon out of their pocket, they'd be dead before they hit the ground. Freedom!

We walked over to the Mall and walked from the Washington Monument to the Capitol's reflecting pool, and passed the Department of Labor on the way up to Union Station. It was Labor Day so, of course, the Labor Department was closed. We wended our way through the zigzag of numbered, lettered, and stated streets of Washington until we reached the large clearing in front of Union Station and quickly spotted Capital City Brewing Company's gigantic banners on the Postal Museum's building. We went inside and enjoyed tasty beers and excellent food before running outside to an Irish pub for one last beer.

We made what haste we could to Reagan National on the yellow line, where we wished Amber well. She would be going back to work the next day, while Craig and I would continue our sojourn. We hopped back on the yellow line from there to Mt. Vernon Square where I thought I remembered there being things to do from a movie I'd seen. Well, we got off the train at the stop in question, and I saw nothing that was remotely familiar. There were lots of boarded-up houses and construction barriers, surrounding a shiny new convention center, the construction of which I'm sure was an extremely divisive issue in the District.

Though part of all this was the Old Dominion Brewing Company, so we went in. The 90% Asian staff was attentive and friendly, when the language barrier could be overcome, but the beer was nothing to rejoice about, and their tap selection was more than half composed of "guest beers," which were more prominently promoted than their own beers. We had some cheese fries and quesadillas before heading out and walking back toward the west.

The daylight was fading when we reached the Brickskeller, intent on some more great beer, and found that it was closed for Labor Day. Distraught, we walked back down to P Street, and saw an open bar called the Fireplace. At this point, what I really needed to do was relieve my bowels, which were now tender and jumpy from days of restaurant food and beer. So we went in, feigning an interest in hanging out there, and almost immediately after walking in the thumping music and the single characteristic of all the clientele prompted me to quietly ask Craig, "whoah, is this a gay bar?"

"Yeah," he replied. Don't get me wrong, I usually like gay bars. But this place was really gay. It could best be described as a gay hookup bar. Trying to look as natural and comfortable as possible, while avoiding as much eye contact as possible, we took turns in the bathroom. When I emerged, feeling slightly better, Craig had a bottle of Yuengling waiting for me. He already had a six or seven ounce head start on me, and stolidly glared at me to finish mine when he did.

We spent the next hour or so wandering the Dupont Circle area, getting progressively more surprised at the lack of plain old bars. Almost every place that served drinks had some kind of theme that complemented its food aspect more than anything else. Finally, no thanks to google maps on my phone, or the GPS application on Craig's phone, we stumbled across an almost invisible door along Connecticut, just south of the Circle. The place was called The Big Hunt, and was for the most part a loosely outdoors-themed dive, complete with scarred red vinyl booths and off-balanced formica tables throughout. There was a chandelier hanging from the high ceiling, composed almost entirely of deer antlers.

But the reason we stayed there for several rounds was their carefully selected twenty or thirty taps of American beer. Bear Republic, Stone, Dogfish Head, Clipper City, Brooklyn, Bell's, Avery, and Boulder all had beers on tap to represent them. It was the best tap selection we'd find until we got to Atlanta. We sat and talked for a while until the customary vacation wanderlust overcame us and we moved on.

We walked only a little distance down the same street and came upon another hole in the wall with wooden booths and even more rickety tables. On our initial walk to the bathroom, we went up some stairs and found that the pubbish appearance of the front of the bar belied the very active salsa dancing night that was going on in the back. We wound our way through throngs of dancing couples before going up an even longer, narrower flight of stairs to a small room with a small unmanned bar on one side, and doors to the bathrooms on the other. When I got back downstairs to the front bar, Craig had already gotten us each a pint of Sierra Nevada, but we were both convinced it was just Yuengling from a Sierra Nevada tap handle.

We watched UCLA upset Tennessee, with the game ending in an overtime field goal. By that time, we figured it was probably prudent to head back to the hotel and get some sleep, in order to be well-rested in time for the 11am checkout. On the walk back through the surprisingly empty streets, we were stopped for money twice: once by a woman that feigned some kind of disaster involving a sudden need to take a $40 cab to Annapolis(and to whom Craig emptied his pockets of $23), and a guy who wowed us with a math trick, and to whom I gave a dollar and change. He was not impressed with my donation. We got back to the hotel and slept comfortably until the daylight pierced our eyelids.

Our train wasn't scheduled to leave until 6:30pm, so we had basically all day to wander around Washington. So, not having been there yet, we went to Georgetown and Foggy Bottom. On a street abutting the banks of the Potomac, we got some lunch and a beer at a place called Chadwick's, and walked from there back toward Dupont Circle, where we'd be catching the Metro to Union Station, to catch the Amtrak, later that day. I wanted to find a laundromat, as I was on day two with the T-shirt I was wearing. To my intense amazement, we never found one. Does every apartment in DC have washers and dryers in it?

We got a drink or two at a small cafe called The Froggy Bottom before heading over to the Brickskeller for a final Washington sendoff. We got there about 30 minutes before opening, so we sat in the shade of their front steps. I wrote some more of the Baltimore writeup to pass the time. The place opened, we went in, ordered some beers, and almost immediately I got a call from my brother. I learned in the conversation that the Brickskeller was where he and Kathleen had their first date, and that furthermore, it was her idea. I felt honored to be in a place that served as part of the foundation of their courting.

In what proved later to probably be a mistake, we stayed for two beers, and about halfway through the second one, saw that we had roughly forty minutes until our train was set to depart. We walked as quickly as we could over to the Metro station at Dupont Circle, and got on a train that pulled up right as we dismounted the escalator. Maybe ten minutes later we were at Union Station. Though its age definitely shows with the Jetson's-style architecture, the Metro is probably the most dependable, efficient rail transit system I have ever used. We made our on-time Amtrak train with plenty of time to spare.

Washington is a remarkable city. It has landmarks that inspire me and well up the emotion within me like few places do, and density to challenge that of almost any city in the world. The people however, were not very impressive to me. Most seemed to be young- of college age or low twenties, and interested more in pounding drinks than in sitting down and talking. As such, we didn't talk to many people that weren't in the service industry there. I write this from my hotel room in Atlanta, and having spent some time in all four of the cities of this trip, I think I can safely say that Washington was my least favorite, though we still had a great time there.

12:59 PM, Sep 6, 2008

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Back in KC, Trip Literature on the Way

I'm home. I had originally planned to catch the bus home from KCI on Sunday, but while I was whining over text messages about how much I disliked Delta Airlines and their principal facility in Atlanta, Sarah offered me a ride. She would be there anyway, picking up her old man. I was delighted to accept her offer, no longer having to deal with the glacially slow and off-schedule airport bus route.

As I stepped out of the terminal, she was right there. It couldn't have been timed better. She marveled at my single backpack to account for a week's worth of travel, gave me a high-five, and we loaded up to go. Apparently the other body she came to collect had missed his plane, and would be arriving instead at midnight.

I slept like a sleepy sleepy log, devoid of pillbugs and centipedes, and made a call to the autobody shop when I woke up. Though I was a little annoyed they had never called to tell or ask me anything in the week that they had my car, I was pleased that the car was ready, and even more pleased that they sent someone to come pick me up. Not in any hurry to get to the office, and for some reason completely unfearful of reprisal for being late, I took a leisurely route around Midtown to get to work, even picking up food on the way in to eat at my desk.

I caught up with friends and coworkers at the office, and even got a little bit of work done. But mostly I just talked with people over IM. I drove to Brookside to leave the car, and on the way there I got smiled at by some random motorists. It was a very agreeable day, and it's wonderful to be back in Kansas City. I parked behind Jalapeno's and waited around in the cool breeze for about five minutes before the bus scooped me up. It always takes a trip to other cities for me to realize again how beautiful my city is. I think that this is part of the reason for the ridiculous circuitous route of the MAX bus.

I rounded the corner of 8th and May to a wall of coffee aroma, and was home. I talked with Jeff about the trip for a while before getting to work on some of the pictures and some other personal business, before I got a text from Nick, proposing a meeting for the drinking of a beer. I walked the mile up to the Flying Saucer in my work shirt and a pair of shorts, and actually felt cold. After a week of sweating through my clothes in the South, it was heaven to be cold without standing under an air conditioning duct.

At almost the same time as my arrival, Nick and Derek appeared across Walnut from the Saucer, and we sat on the couches in the back, talking about Nick's upcoming wedding, nerdy pursuits, my recently elapsed trip, and various $200 questions under Potpourri. It was really nice. Angela helped us out, and presented us with our comically small bills when we asked to tab out, unaware that it was $2.75 pint night.

Nick gave me a ride home, and I realized(it being almost midnight by this time), that I had to be in the office by 7am the next day, and I had left my car in Brookside. So, I had to catch the bus this morning at 6:11am to make it to the office by 7am. Blech.

Anyway, the descriptions of Charlotte and Atlanta are on their way, and pictures are close.

8:05 AM, Sep 9, 2008

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Friends

I had a second date last night. I had a really good time, and it seemed to me that she did too, but as I walked her to her door I asked her if she'd like to go out again, and she launched into what seemed to be something she'd been practicing, about how she just wanted to be friends. It felt like a punch in the stomach, like getting thrown into cold water, like being slapped in the face. I've been numb since then.

Unable to muster anything but an expressionless face, I went home, and saw that it was only 10pm. So I called Nick, and wound up interrupting some quality time he'd previously arranged with Anna and his sisters. But even so, he dropped everything to come and get a beer with me, and listen to me vent about the situation. Nick is one of the people because of whom I am glad and proud to live in Kansas City.

So, now I've gone from smitten to injured. Everything seemed to be going really well, and then in an instant it just disappeared, with no warning at all. All I can think of is that she never had any interest at all, and just never could bring herself to rebuff my overtures. I don't know. Maybe I freaked her out with my interest, which I tried very hard to restrain. But here's the thing. I never just kind of like a woman. I either really like her a lot, and imagine us together and all the stupid cheesy details, or I don't feel even the slightest bit romantic about her.

It's not a conscious decision. Just something inside me puts all my chips in when I decide I like a woman. I can't explain it. I set myself up for these situations, and for some reason that doesn't really bother me, despite how I feel now.

9:29 AM, Sep 11, 2008

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It Was Drenchy Out

I'm on call again. Maybe at some point, we'll get to fill the two open spots we have on our team, and lighten the load for everyone. But for now I get my skull worked on every night, producing an alarming number of dreams in which I'm falling, or naked in high school.

I decided to chance the oncall thing on Friday night, as I felt like going and doing something. I met up with Nick, Anna, Jim, Derek, Angela, Jon, Colin, and Lorne at Harry's in Westport, where I was tapped to choose the next bar as I arrived. Unable to make such decisions without consulting my random number generator, I deferred to the quick-talkin' Nick, who suggested we go to the Brasserie, on the first floor of the Westin at Crown Center. After finishing a beer that cost nine dollars, I got paged. Paged so hard that I had to go home to resolve it.

I went home, worked some stuff out for which I wasn't really needed, and came back, not to be paged again. When I got back, the group had moved on to the lounge at Benton's, on the 20th floor of the same building. Derek broke a martini glass with his bare hand, and a jovial band played some vocal jazz music for us as we laughed, talked, and looked out over the city from our perch. Interestingly, the beer wasn't as expensive as at the Brasserie, 19 floors down.

After the bar closed at about midnight, we fell down the stairs to the first floor, where I wasted Anna in a footrace. The plan was to go to Skies, the revolving lounge on the 42nd floor of the nearby Hyatt, but nobody was down for it. Instead, we banged on a piano in the Westin's lobby while dancing and tumbling on the carpet for perhaps forty minutes before their mind-bogglingly patient security staff asked us to leave.

We went home, but couldn't go through the building anymore to get to our cars. Instead, we had to sprint through a torrential downpour past the fountains in front of the unlit entrance to the mall-like shopping center. Jim and I ran all the way to the overhang near Milano, unable to detect through the tumult of the impact of huge volumes of falling rain on the pavement all around us, that nobody had followed us, or at least had not kept up with us. We went inside, as we were everyone's ride, and agreed that we'd just drive up to them and pick them up.

Somehow, Derek had "fallen" into one of the fountains and had been submerged. Nick went in after him to "help." They were both absolutely sopping wet. As I write this I don't know if their phones are still functional. But whatever- we had a great time. I got home drenched enough for my taste, changed into dry clothes and passed an hour or so before going to bed.

I didn't do anything on Saturday or Sunday.

1:42 PM, Sep 15, 2008

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Can I Pee at Your House?

Eugh. Some number of weeks ago, Jeff brought to my attention some dark spots on the wall baseboard near the kegerator. It appeared that somehow, the baseboard was getting wet without anything else getting wet. Soon after, I noticed the same anomaly in my bathroom, and on the other side of the wall my bathroom shares with my closet. Like so many of the bad things that affect me, I decided to wait and watch, hoping against hope that the situation would work itself out.

Unfortunately it has not. In the past week, the situation appears to have deteriorated, and it became clear to me that action was required. I called the HOA and reported the problem. They sent someone over while I was at work(pretty quickly too), and determined that they would need to destroy my wall to fix the problem. So today, they're coming over while I'm at work, to frighten Jeff's cat(score!), and to leave me, I'm guessing, without a toilet for a couple of days.

I'll update later.

///UPDATE/// 9/18 at 9:08am

The HOA sent some hammer-wielding thugs over to the apartment while I was at work yesterday, and Jeff, having gotten home early to take care of some business, caught them in the act. They told him that the pipes hooked to the toilet in the apartment upstairs had been slowly leaking droplets of water down the building-high pipe. With my apartment being on the first floor, and gravity being the insufferable pain that it is, all the water settled into the firmament in my walls. That means that none of the roughly $1500 of repairs will be billed to me, so that's nice.

As such, the hammer-wielders smashed up my wall, fixed the leak, and plugged a bunch of noisy industrial fans into my outlets, pointing at the wet zone. They'll allegedly be back some time next week to rebuild my wall.

destroyed

Thanks to Jeff for the cat-like speed in capturing the picture.

9:26 AM, Sep 17, 2008

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I Am Not Free For a While

I handed off the pager yesterday, and it instantly became more exciting than the previous four Fridays combined. Even though it was a pretty easy week on call, handing it off still has a truly remarkable effect of highlighting the relative freedom in not being on call. I feel invincible when I'm no longer on call, like I can do anything.

So last night, "anything," involved losing a kickball game 21-8, drinking perhaps nine beers at Grinders and the new Czar Bar, and for the second time since I've lived in Kansas City, visiting a strip club. However, the last of these activities was surprisingly uninteresting. It was kind of like walking around Best Buy. Every four seconds someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I'd like anything. I try hard to be polite, but I think my annoyance began to show.

We were there at Colin's insistence, for Nick's in-town bachelor party. Nick was charmingly awkward about the whole thing. We had been there for perhaps 45 minutes or an hour when I decided that I had been there long enough. I wished Nick well and left, smelling of strippers. I went home and fell asleep immediately. It was after 2am. So deep was my sleep that I slept right through my alarm and didn't get to the office until after 10am.

This weekend promises to be a good time. It's absolutely divine outside, as is the wont of the atmosphere in this region, at this time of year. For the forecastable future, every day is slated to be sunny, with highs in the low eighties and lows in the middle sixties. This time of the year in Kansas City provides the best weather I know of in any place I know. Even considering my tardiness today, I think I'm going to make a discreet early escape, so I can go an enjoy this idyllic weather.

Tonight I'm meeting up with Chris in North Kansas City at the newly-refurbished and opened Armour Theater to see Burn After Reading. Tomorrow, Liana and I will be attending Nick and Anna's wedding on the 12th Street Viaduct and at the Foundation Gallery in the West Bottoms. It's going to be fantastic.

Next week is just another week, but I've already planned visits to Oklahoma Joe's and the Flying Saucer. At the end of the week though, twin occurrences of the Kansas City Beerfest and the Kansas City Oktoberfest will take place- again, this is all in perfect weather. The next weekend Rachel, Brian, and Kathleen will be in town. Rachel and I will go to the American Royal Barbecue Cookoff, and I think Geoff will be going with us. The next night, I've arranged a relatively large gathering of friends to visit O'Malley's in Weston.

I love Kansas City in the Fall.

1:54 PM, Sep 19, 2008

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Post-dance Aches

I'm sore today from dancing so much last night. One thing for which Nick and Anna can be counted on in a wedding reception is an outstanding selection of music. I got exhausted and sweaty, and then just hit the floor again and again. I couldn't help myself. I try to imagine the kind of crap I'd get into if I was in shape. After the wedding, Liana and I went over to Crosstown Station where there was a gigantic party going on, but I just wasn't feeling it after having rubberized my legs. I went home and slept so hard that I broke the sky.

I had a fun weekend, but I'm currently too tired to give you a full account. Maybe I'll hook you up tomorrow, but the smart money's on you having to depend on your imagination.

11:56 PM, Sep 21, 2008

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Kickbull

I got off work at whatever time last night and forgoed(forwent?) riding the bus in favor of haste, which was needed. I got home and burned the kickball CD for which I downloaded songs and pestered people all day. Uncertain of something witty and unprecedented to write on it, I labeled it "BREASTS," and ran out the door.

I sat down at the bar at Bulldog at about 6:23pm or so. The bartender was jawing with some barfly friends at the other end, and despite several definite incidents of eye contact, she just kept on talking and giggling with her friends. It wasn't until I, trying not to look as annoyed as I was, put my hand in the air to wave at her, that she heaved a sigh, cast an apologetic look at her friends, and came over, acting like she'd just noticed me.

While this was going on, a number of strippers were congregating at the opposite end of the bar, filling the air with the scent of the powdered body makeup they smear all over their breasts and cleavage, and reminds me of past nights of which I am not proud. Bulldog is adjacent to Bazooka's, and is owned by the same lively dresser, so it would seem that the headliners like to take a bit of the edge off at Bulldog before punching in next door.

Sarah joined me shortly after all these thoughts circled around my head. We sat up at the bar and remarked together at the apathetic slowness with which the bartender conducted herself. Ah, the things we do for 2-for-1 drinks. I wasn't expecting anyone else to show up, but to my surprise we were suddenly surrounded as Terra, Chris, Kahlen, Liana, Ben, and Holly joined us seemingly all at once. We sat around a high-table and talked about nothing in particular until the appointed time, when we all at once sped over to the field to lose 7-6 at kickball.

It was a very good, very fun game. I think everyone got on base, and the team we played really seemed to enjoy our antics. After the game everyone scattered like roaches when a light is turned on, except Terra, Brad, and me. We went to the Newsroom on Broadway, where our friends Jen and Sarah were tending bar. I ran into Walter there, with whom I hadn't spoken in ages. I discovered that my beloved old divey dirty Newsroom was no longer what it once was, despite the warm reception I got from Jen and Sarah.

I actually felt old when I was telling someone next to me at the bar that I used to pay the same price for a pitcher than I was paying for a single draw. I'm not 22 anymore.

I got into the office hungover and sleepy, and have thus far completed no work whatsoever today.

2:45 PM, Sep 26, 2008

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