A week of on-call duty has come to an end. I find this excellent, especially since I'll be hitting the ground running, socially. Today is Liana's 25th, so I'm meeting her somewhere in Kansas City for too much to drink. Also going on tonight is what promises to be a very busy First Friday
in the Crossroads, along with Judas Priest
playing a show at the City Market. Later in the evening I have been instructed to meet up with an irresponsible group at the Flying Saucer.
Tomorrow we're going to Geoff and Katie's wedding for more of that "too much." Geoff and Katie are both big downtown supporters, and as such are having the ceremony and reception within three blocks of each other downtown.
On paper it's a very exciting weekend, though anything could go wrong. I'll let you know if it does.
Shenandoah or Piedmont
In the tradition of past Brewtrips, another is planned, locked, and loaded for this year. Erp and I will be meeting in Baltimore, MD at the end of the month, where we'll be spending two days drinking beer, looking around, being irresponsible, and meeting new people. Then we'll hop on the train for Washington, DC, for two more days of the same. I can't speak for Erp, but I've never been inside the city limits of either of these two singularly American cities, so I amd very excited to visit them.
From there, we'll spend one night in each of the following cities: Charlottesville, VA, Greensboro, NC, and Charlotte, NC. After these complete unknowns, we'll finish up our trip with two nights in Atlanta, where among other things, we'll spend some time with local KC transplant Michael, who said he'd be happy to show us around.
It's going to be a great trip, though there's a lot of work to do in the meantime.
2:36 PM, Aug 11, 2008
The Story of Thirty
I think it only fair that you learn about the events leading up to and including my birthday. I began with a very much game of kickball. After the game ended, the bulk of the team adjourned to Grinders for beers, laughs, and the end of our troubles. I had to work the next morning at 7, so I knew I had to get some sleep. However, I was turning thirty, so an allowance was made on my part.
All the kickball players and well-wishers of the night, minus Brad and Sarah, convened at Grinders to pass the two and a half hours before the passing of midnight to my thirtieth birthday, which fell on the peculiar date of 08/08/08. As the hour drew closer, the number of minutes were announced at random intervals by various people, myself included.
In a strange surreal moment, I looked at my phone and saw that it was 12:00. I was thirty, so on an impulse I climbed up on the table and loudly stated as much. Liana's eyes widened at this, and she scooped up a pitcher of beer and demanded that I drink it all. This I did, while my cohorts saw fit to throw water at me.
Soon after, the shock of the passage of the required minute had settled, and everyone exchanged high-fives before heading off in geometrically proportionate directions. I was in bed by about 1am, and slept soundly for a few hours before my alarm clock's familiar screeching note split the wonderful silence.
I arranged earlier in the week to take my turn working "in the hole" on Friday morning, as that would allow me as least some chance of getting off early. I worked in a dark office until some security guard or damned busybody turned the lights on at about 8:30. I was too hungover to eat, and too tired to concentrate, though I did have a lot of work to do. I eventually got it all done and ran the idea of getting our the door at 12:30pm to my boss. He graciously assented, and I was on my way.
I got picked up by Chris and Amanda at my place soon after, and we shared a delectable lunch at the Thai Paradise on Grand. Still thinking it too early to "start," I ordered an overpriced coca-cola. We dropped Amanda off so she could prepare for work, and buzzed off to the Northeast to find some bars we'd never visited. We started with Karen's Kozy Cabin on St. John, before heading to Raytown to visit some of Chris' formative bars. We managed to make it to two: the Double Play Lounge and the Bickering Tree, located in a faceless grey shopping center and downtown Raytown, respectively.
While at the Bickering Tree(fantastic name for a bar, by the way), we met Johnny, who apparently used the granulated photo on his Sam's Club ID card as proof of identification. When he heard it was my birthday, he offered me a free tattoo at any of his allegedly numerous parlours around town. I respectfully declined, and he proceeded to receive several phone calls in succession, during which his state of agitation elevated over time. Chris and I both held our faces as straight as we could when he repeatedly barked "let me talk to Mohawk," into his phone, followed by, "you tell him to beat Gypsy's ass!"
Anyway, the original plan was that the assembled crowd was to go to the Royals game and have a good time. Unfortunately, nobody ever showed up. So Chris and I went to Fitz's Blarney Stone on Broadway in Midtown, where, with the use of a colourful word, I alerted everyone to our location and encouraged them to join us. Slowly the people filtered in, until we had a regular crowd. Tim, Richard, Jody(sic), Nick, Anna, Chris, Brad, Sarah, Derek, Angela, Cole, Nathan, Jenny, Colin, Jami, Betsy, Jason, and others that I just can't remember because of the mind-erasing effects of alcohol, joined at various points in the night, as the proceedings moved on to the Zoo Bar, and again to Anthony's.
I went home and slept like a rock, being thirty.
I remember a Wednesday afternoon on this day in 1985, Julia and Brian and I were watching Double Dare when Grandma picked up the phone and told us that we had a new little sister. Brian and I, being immature little punks, were genuinely upset that the new addition to the family was a sister instead of a brother. Julia did a little dance though.
The gender issues have worn off in the intervening years, which number twenty-three as of today. Rachel has had a much tougher go as this thing called life than anybody else in our family, myself included. I was nineteen when mom died, and it was a defining moment in my life. As heavy a blow as it was for me, Rachel was only twelve years old. She was still a child when she lost her mother, and only in the last couple of years has she really recovered from the blow the event was to her life.
I have more in common with Rachel than anyone else in my family. We made a lot of the same bad choices growing up, but she was always able to recover from her bad choices and learn from them more easily than I was. Whether it was because she had my example to use to her benefit, or because she was just more naturally resilient and adaptive, I don't know, though I lean toward the latter.
In 2006, Rachel was at a crossroads in her life, and I recognized it. I was worried about her, and the compounded nature of the problems that she was accumulating, so I had a serious discussion with her. Though I apparently still attract the ire and contempt of the family for it, I stand by my opinion to tell Rachel that she needed to get out of where she was and start over somewhere. I intentionally left the matter open-ended to her, and offered only one piece of advice regarding a possible place to move. She asked if I knew of any places that had good transit systems, so I said Portland, Oregon.
She moved to Portland later that year, and though it took her a while to sort out her life, I think she's done a remarkable job on her own in her new city. She's twenty three years old now.
Happy birthday Rachel!
12:44 PM, Aug 21, 2008
I am about to finish my first of two weeks on call. This past week was the "hard one," with me carrying the primary oncall phone. But all in all, it was actually a pretty easy turn. I've noticed that our oncalls, while still definitely not easy, are getting easier
as more time passes. A couple months ago a guy named Jeff joined the group, and his first major project was to reduce the volume of pages we get by working with the paging application and the groups that should be getting these errant pages to begin with. As a result of his vigilance, a typical week on call has gone from about 400 pages to perhaps fifty.
This week, I was able to get an after-work drink with Angela at the Peanut on Monday and give her back her lens cap. I was able to go to The Flying Saucer on Tuesday, and with the help of Sarah, David, and Ryan, we finished their trivia night in second place. I did however get paged just as trivia was ending, though it was probably time to go home anyway.
Now it's Thursday, and I am about two hours from turning the primary over to James, and receiving the secondary from Eddie. Being the secondary oncall is usually a snoozer, but of course statements like that are usually famous last words. I do have a small amount of maintenance to do on Saturday night, so I'll miss out on the existence of fun then.
Then, I'll be the secondary oncall for four more days, during which the Fall season of Kickball will officially begin, and something else will happen that I may or may not tell you damned vultures about. After handing off the secondary pager next Thursday, I will be free in earnest, and I will then go on my big awesome trip with Erp and Amber to Baltimore, Washington, Charlotte, and Atlanta.
Sorry for the lack of updates, but I've unfortunately been channeling my finite creative energy into facebook and work, lately. I'll try to do something nice for you at some point.
1:02 PM, Aug 22, 2008
Nicest Day Since I Can Remember
I handed off the pager to James at work at about 3pm yesterday. With an extra spring in my step from having resolved a number of work-related and personal things that had been picking at me, I left the office at the customary time. I was in a mood such as I had not had the good fortune to enjoy in a longer time than I can currently remember. The weather outside matched my mood. It was beautiful out, and I had no plans.
I wasn't in the mood to hang around the house. I wanted to go out, do things, and see people. As if by providence, I got an IM or a text or something from Geoff suggesting a small outing. For the first time ever, I remembered the code to open the door on his building, and hassled him to get off the phone with people from work. Since getting back from Italy after the wedding, he and Katie have been unwrapping gifts and making a stockpile of shipping materials to remand to the custody of the local recycling authority, and the pile was big last night.
When I hand the pager in, I always feel like a new man, especially when it's nice in Kansas City. And it was really nice out last night. It makes me feel like I have no care in the world to be at large on a beautiful evening in this wonderful city. It was a great pleasure to walk and talk with Geoff, with whom I hadn't spoken in weeks, as we made our way to 13th and Wyandotte to catch the bus down to 51st and Brookside.
We got off the bus and walked a block past scads of oblivious UMKC students to Pizza 51, at 51st and Oak. Neither of us had ever had the Calzones there, so I had one with sausage and feta cheese, and Geoff had one with sausage and garlic. I think they already come with mozzarella and romano. They were perfect. We sat outside talking about nothing in particular, enjoying some fresh greasy calzones, and some freshly-tapped local beer.
After we finished eating we walked up the hill to Main, and watched some Olympic track and field over another round at the Peanut on 50th. With some time to kill between when we drained our glasses and the arrival of the next northbound, we walked down to the plaza from there to wait the remaining ten minutes until the bus arrived.
I turned off my ringer when I went to bed early and slept like a log. Besides a smattering of maintenance work on Saturday night I have nothing planned for this weekend. Sleep, laundry, and more sleep. That's my guess.
6:29 PM, Aug 23, 2008
As of late it would seem that circumstances favor me more than is reasonable to expect. The last 48 hours have been devoid of grief of any kind, unless grief can be derived from anticipation. I left my filthy car in front of some wealthy person's house in Brookside after work and caught the 51 at 63rd and Ward Parkway. With a steady stream of location-related text messages, Chris and I managed to see each other in passing buses on opposite sides of Broadway at about 36th Street. We waved as the buses passed, attracting curious looks from our fellow riders.
I decided on a whim to pull the stop cable at 12th Street, and go over to the Flying Saucer to treat myself to some of the delicious new arrivals. Actually, my intention was to have one beer and go home. But after running into several friends I had consumed four large beers. I shored up my willpower to look in the bartender's puppy-dog eyes and say, "no more!" Still in my work clothes, I made a quick stop at Chipotle on the way home. The sky faded from Kansas City's typical brilliant blue to a fleeting pink as I rounded the corner from 8th to see the evening's first shadows creep over my noisy street.
I ate a chicken-pinto-corn salsa-sour cream-cheese-lettuce-guac burrito faster than is medically advisable, changed into playclothes, and hastened back to street level to meet Brad and Sarah, who were inspired by my trip the previous night to Pizza 51. We sat outside in the grand late-summer air, talking about people, places, and things. Jason joined us soon afterward, and we went to Charlie Hooper's where we ran by accident into Brooks and some of his friends. We talked about current events with him until our heads began to droop.
I got home at about 2am or so. I spent an hour and a half goofing around on the internet, mostly looking at pictures on facebook, before finally calling it a night.
I woke up in the elevens this morning after a long deep uninterrupted restful sleep- my first in some time. I've spent a long lazy day doing some great relaxing, enjoying my last weekend at home before the big trip
2:20 PM, Aug 27, 2008
Point Eight Eight Miles
I had a date last night. I'll spare/deny you all the embarrassing details except to say that I had a great time. We went to Harling's in Midtown, for their weekly Big Band night. They've been doing it there for years, but for some reason they just don't get the kind of crowds that something like that event deserves. A full complement of horn-players set up chairs and music stands in a convenient, orchestra-sized corner of the bar, and spent three hours belting out some really fantastic, usually original big band music.
Why nobody knows about this, I cannot fathom. It's a truly remarkable experience to go and see this kind of performance. No tickets, no reservations, no wait, no overpriced anything. Not even a cover charge! We walked in at the stroke of nine, and still managed to get a four-person table by the window all to ourselves. This happens every week, people! The only reason I haven't been going to this in a number of years is because I thought they'd stopped doing it. Well, they haven't.
Go to Harling's at Main and Westport on a Tuesday at 9pm and take in some great Kansas City Big Band music. Also, go on a date there.
8:25 AM, Aug 28, 2008
I left the office early again yesterday to run downtown before the end of the business day, as I had some important business of my own to see to. However, even counting that, I was still sitting idle at home a good step earlier than I usually am, and it didn't take long before I started to get a little stir-crazy. I contacted a couple of friends, and found that Matt was taking his guest
out for some sightseeing and foodeating.
His guest, a British guy named Nick, is spending the summer of 2008 traversing the Continental US on foot
, and being now 67 days into it, is roughly halfway to his final destination of Los Angeles. For the second time in the several years I've called Matt my friend, I rode in his car. He conducted a driving tour of Kansas City's "Historic Northeast" neighborhoods and showed Nick what we both agreed was worth seeing in our city, good and bad.
After the drive-around we went to Arthur Bryant's Barbecue on Brooklyn. I hadn't been there since probably 2002, so it was a nice treat for me. The three of us split a burnt end "sandwich(basically a bunch of burnt ends piled high on a couple of squares of wonderbread)," some gigantic fries, a bowl of baked beans, and a pitcher of Pale Ale.
Amanda joined us right about the time the beer and food ran out, so she got some of her own, and we helped her pick at it. The four of us hastened from there to Grinders for a beer or two before calling it a night. It was a nice breakup of the week.
We played some kickball last night and lost twice in the mud. However, it was a great success for everyone playing. I think we all played very well, and still kept up with the teams we played. A cadre of us went to Grinders afterward for a beer or two and to watch Obama's speech at the DNC.
Brooks and I went to the Caddyshack after that for another beer before calling it a night. Well, I called it a night. I think Brooks went to the bar down the street from his house from there.
I woke up without an alarm at 8am, and immediately set about packing and laundry. I took my car to Roeland Park to get it looked at at about 9am, and they generously gave me a ride back home. I made some calls and tied up some loose ends before Jeff, even more generously than the body shop, gave me a ride to KCI at 11:15am.
They have free wireless here now, which is nice, but it turns out I can't get on the web with my Linux + Firefox combination. Oddly though, ssh is allowed, so I've connected to my machine at home and x-forwarded firefox here. Anyway, I'm on my way! The next time you hear from me, I'll be an hour ahead of you.