Leaving New York

Tuesday, October 11th, 2005: Jammie wasn’t feeling good this morning and called into work. Her fever was gone by noonish and we went to Rosa’s for lunch. Been laying around together a lot today, watching TV mostly. Jammie is asleep again right now on the couch by me. It’s actually kind of a nice close to my visit. She would have worked until 6pm, then taken me to the airport afterwards. We would have only seen each other for a few hours for the entire day. So yay for sickness!

Current Music: Mya – Ghetto Superstar
Past Music: Was Not Was – Dad, I’m in Jail
Future Music: Stuart Nye – Cake for Breakfast

8:11pm – Jammie easily convinced me that JFK sucks. She can’t even come inside the building without having a ticket, so I’m sitting here for the next 45 minutes by myself, waiting for the plane to leave. That’s 45 minutes of our time completely robbed from us! Damn terrorists. On the upside – I didn’t have to take off my shoes for security. I guess they’re not worried about sneakers.

Going to NYC, giving blood

Saturday, October 8th, 2005: Went to bed last night around 11:15ish. Fell asleep around 12:15ish. Then I woke up at 1am. Then at 2am. Then 3am. Then 4am. Whenever an early morning alarm is set for me, it’s impossible for me to sleep well. My alarm went off at 4:25am and I got up for the day.

Got dressed, finished packing and headed to the Angel Cream donut shop in Rosewood Heights which happens to have the best donuts in the United States. (I’ve spent the past 15 years doing extensive research on this.) But Angel Cream was closed at 4:45am and I didn’t feel like waiting for it to open so I settled on Hostess cupcakes at Quiktrip instead.

Drove to the airport and got on a plane to NYC. The flight took 3 hours (no layover) and was uneventful. I bought a biography of Mark Twain last night so I spent the entire time reading that and listening to mp3s. Got to JFK around 9:45am, Jammie and a few of her coworkers picked me up and we drove to Jersey. The plan was to spend the day at Great Adventure. But after driving for 2 hours, we find that Great Adventure is closed! All because of a little rain. So that was slightly disappointing.

Some of us had planned to give blood to the Red Cross there for free admission. So to make our trip seem like less of a waste, me and Jammie gave blood anyway. We still got the free tickets but they expire in a few weeks so it’s unlikely they’ll get used. I’ve been wanting to donate blood for years now. When I dated Tricia, I think we had several opportunities to give blood but she always came up with an excuse for why we couldn’t that day. I was always wary of doing it alone because I’d been told that it can make you light-headed and you’re not supposed to drive afterwards. After giving 2 pints (it looked like 2 pints, I’m not really sure and I didn’t ask) it seemed to have absolutely no effect on me all all. So I plan to do this more often now.

The questions they asked us before they let us donate were pretty amusing/insane. Besides all the basics of wanting to know what kind of prescription medicine, if any, I was taking they asked if I’d paid for sex in the past year, if I’d accepted any gifts in exchange for sex, if I’d slept with anyone from Africa, if I’d visited the UK or Africa, if I took heroine, etc. She checked my arms for track marks. After finally convincing her that I wasn’t a junkie or prostitute, I got to donate.

After the blood thing, we stopped to eat and then went home. Just kind of hung around the house and watched TV mostly. I kept dozing off and eventually fell asleep.

Bank Girl

Wednesday, October 5th, 2005: In a spur of the moment decision after spending an afternoon and evening being really bored, I decided to go New York this weekend. So nice how cheap flights remain even though gas is $2.99/gallon. I might see Jammie while I’m there if I happen to have any time left over for her. I arrive on Saturday and stay until Tuesday night.

RTF or Murd0c, if you happen to be in the city Monday or Tuesday, maybe we can get some lunch or something. At least one of you has my cell phone email and number.

12:17pm – As I was standing in line to pay for my Pepsi at Piasa Pantry, I was accosted by Bank Girl. All of a sudden I’m being hugged a lot and she’s inquiring “Waddup, dog?” to me. Months ago, we dated a few times. The very day after date #1, she shows up at my house at noon to bring me lunch. Unannounced. She spends the entire lunch hour with me at my house. Five hours later, she gets off work and comes straight to my house. Unannounced. I don’t remember how that ended but I’m sure I tried to figure out the nicest way to say, “Um, I’m kind of busy here. Go away.” to her.

I think it was the next evening, after she got off work at her 2nd job at 11pm, she tries to call me. I didn’t answer. 10 minutes later someone starts ringing the doorbell. I don’t answer that either. I expect her to start throwing pebbles at my window any second, but thankfully that doesn’t happen. Eventually she goes away. We went on a couple of dates after that and I managed to convince her that dropping by unannounced would probably always be a bad idea. Eventually we stopped dating when I used the copout excuse of “I’m moving to Oregon soon so it’s pretty pointless to pursue anything.” Instead of the honest excuse of, “You’re a psycho hosebeast and we have not one single thing in common.”

2:50pm – I knew it! I knew they would do it! The cable company accidentally shut off my internet. A few days ago when I was in the cable office shutting off the TV portion of my connection, I carefully confirmed with her several times that I was just shutting off the cable TV. Not the internet. I told her how last year when I turned off my TV after the summer, they accidentally turned off my internet too. And it took them several days to come back out and turn it back on. Well, they’ve done it again. Damn them!

On the bright side, the customer service lady that I just spoke with was incredibly nice and actually believed me when I told her what happened. She didn’t force me to go through the hour-long troubleshooting process. She didn’t blame my computer or my router. She just believed me.

So I’m using my backup bluetooth cell phone connection now and its speedy 56kish connection. The cable company is going to be here tomorrow morning to fix it. For some reason they can’t just call up the guy that accidentally unhooked it and tell him to turn around and fix what he just did. They have to set up an appointment. So I lose my internet for 24 hours this time. I really hope the cable company in Oregon is better than this.

Empire State Building picture

Thursday, September 8th, 2005: I got a picture in the mail from the Empire State Building of me, Jammie and the kids. I ordered a copy of it online ($7.00 for a 4×6!) last week. You’ll notice that Emily is the only one who didn’t think making stupid faces at the camera guy was a good idea. I also noticed that I didn’t put much Brad-Jammie pr0n up from the NYC visit. So here’s some of that, along with the new pic…

Taking the kids back to Oregon

Friday, September 2nd, 2005: Took the kids to Kristine’s today and said all our goodbyes. Then went to my parents and back home. Finished up our packing, went to Richard & Shirley’s to say a few more goodbyes. Tomorrow I take the kids back to Oregon.

Saturday, September 3rd, 2005: This morning I woke up at 5:30am (my alarm was set for 6am but I always wake up before the alarm goes off), got the kids ready and my brother drove us to the airport. Today summer is officially over – they go back to Oregon for school. Had a pretty eventless 2 flights with a short layover in Salt Lake City. Payton’s quote of the day, as he was throwing a paper towel into the trash: “They should just put portals in the bottom of the trash cans that lead to the dump.”

Layover in Salt Lake City Emily playing Gameboy on the plane

Now I’m stuck in Portland, Oregon for 24 hours with no kids and nothing planned. I contacted my birth dad, Jack, earlier this week and said I’d try to meet him at Saturday Market in downtown if I could find him. So right now I’m on the train, heading towards downtown. If I don’t find him I’ll probably track down Heywood or something. And damn, these trains have really come a long way since I lived here 10 years ago. It used to be just a straight line from Gresham to downtown. Now they cover half the city. It’s nice. And best of all, I can use the internet while I’m on the train. Unlike NYC where the internet and cell phones don’t seem to work too well since it’s mostly underground. Hmmmm, what else can I rant about until I get there. The lightrail’s ticket machine ripped me off. I bought a $3.75 ticket but it only gave me back $1.00 in change. In the form of a Susan B. Anthony coin, of all things. Hey, we’re at NE 82nd Street. I used to live at this stop.

Sunday, September 4th, 2005: I’m now sitting in the PDX airport, waiting for my flight to my layover in Seattle. I’ll have an hour there, then on to St. Louis. Yesterday, after my entry, I ended up at Portland’s Saturday market and spent about 30 minutes walking around the market and looking for Jack. My cell phone rings and I see a call from “Private.” Since those are rare on my cell phone I’m a little wary about who it is. The conversation goes something like this:

“Hello, is this Brad?”
“I thought I’d reached Brad’s number”
“Is this 618-xxx-xxxx?”
“Okay, I must have misdialed!”

I have no clue who it could have been. Then I cross the street and I spot Jack at a pay phone. It was him! And it looks like he’s trying to call me back. We walk around for a bit and then end up going to a nearby bar to share a pitcher of beer. Do some more walking around, help tear down one of the booths at the market and eventually we end up in the same bar again and share yet another pitcher of beer. For some reason, a lot of the evening seems blurry now, but I remember lots of walking around, introductions, train rides, bus rides, dinner somewhere in Northeast Portland (and another glass of beer) and then we retired for the night in a large garden shed which he sleeps in a few nights a week (some arrangement with the owner).

This morning we woke up around 7am, stopped for coffee/Pepsi and went back to the market. Set up a few booths and then left for lunch around 10:30. I forget the name of the place but it seemed to be some kind of organic grocery store/sandwhich shop. After that we visited Dignity Village which I’ve never actually gotten a proper tour of even though I’ve visited it a couple of short times in the past year.

I remember in 1994, while living in Portland, being surprised by the large number of homeless people in Portland and the large number of homeless shelters. Dignity Village adds a whole new level of surprised for me. The place is impressive! They’ve evolved from a homeless city with tents into a homeless city with actual houses (mostly room-sized houses) for most of the residents. There’s a huge common room with lots of couches and a TV, a store with donated goods, a computer room, kitchen, showers, gardens, a library. They’ve erected a turbine hooked up to a bunch of batteries which I guess isn’t working yet but is being worked on. Houses are under construction and going up everywhere, even being worked on as we walked around the city. There are piles of donated, organized wood and other building materials everywhere. If I were ever going to be homeless again, apparently I would be homeless in style. Not that I was one to ever use homeless facilities very often. I didn’t take any pictures but I found some here with a Google search.

After Dignity, we rode the bus to Llyod Center, said goodbye to Jack and took the lightrail back to the airport. And here I am, getting ready to board a tiny propeller plane.

Update: Made it to STL alive, my brother took me home and now I’m waiting for Jammie to call me. The flight attendent said on the intercom as we were taxiing, “You may now resume use of cell phones and pagers but the use of other electronic devices is still prohibited.” I don’t know if that was an attempt at humor or if she just needed some sleep. Or maybe I’m missing something. Anyway, hurry up phone RING.

Philadelphia and New York

Wednesday, August 10th, 2005:

me: i’m driving to new york tomorrow
cal: Gee…
me: 16 hours of driving. it’ll rule!
cal: what for?
me: with 2 kids!
cal: That’s a long drive to make out with a chick
me: nah, this is for the kids. i could make out with a chick after they leave.
cal: Sure it is
cal: The kids LOVE New York
me: it is. i’m moving to oregon. they won’t have many more opportunies to see nyc.
me: free lodging makes it affordable
cal: Sounds like a pretty good rationalization

Like I would drag the kids 16 hours in the car to a place they don’t want to go just so I could see a girl. This vacation is 100% for the kids. I only have them for another 20 days and I wouldn’t go and waste a week of those days if I didn’t think they wouldn’t enjoy it. Like I can’t just go and see Jammie in September. The kids and I sat down and discussed where to go and NYC is the place that all of us decided on. I didn’t talk them into it. Cal has known me for 1/3 of my life. I challenge him to come up with 1 example of me putting a girlfriend before the kids. Cal is my best friend and I love him. But what a fucking jerk.

So all that aside…I’m leaving for NYC tomorrow. We’ll most likely make 1 stop for the night instead of driving straight through. I’m trying to find a good place to stop in between. Jammie recommends Philadelpia but that’s still 14 hours from Alton. I’m looking for more of a 1/2 to 2/3’s of the way to NYC kind of place to stop. I’m guessing it will either be somewhere in Ohio or western Pennsylvania.

Thursday, August 11th, 2005: Woke up at 6:30am and was on the road by 8:00am. The kids were great in the car – just played video games and watched TV mostly. We watched (well, I listened mostly) Austin Powers, Ozmosis Jones and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. For lunch we stopped at a Wendy’s in Columbus, Ohio. The trip went by surprisingly fast. Made it to Somerset, PA around 8:30pm and found a hotel. Tomorrow we’re planning to hang around in Philadelphia for awhile, then get to NYC in the evening.

Friday, August 12th, 2005: Drove to Philadelphia. It took about 3.5 hours to get there. Then getting through downtown traffic took another 30 minutes. Finally found parking and started walking towards the Liberty Center. Security was insane. They had sections of grass all blocked off and were screening people and making them go through a metal detector just to walk up to the Liberty Bell. The line was super long so we decided to skip it. We got a glimpse of the bell through a window. Went to a visitors center and looked around for awhile, then got on a tour bus which gave us all the basics of Philadelphia in about 80 minutes. It even drove into the Delaware river.

Emily on the tour bus/boat Payton and me on the tour bus/boat
This is Dana Barett’s apartment from Ghostbusters. The one that the marshmellow guy attacked. Taking a break from our walk back to the car.

After the tour, we got back in the car and left the city. As we approached the end of New Jersey I missed my exit and instead of turning around, I just decided to take the next one. This took me into the Lincoln Tunnel which made my very first New York experience involve dealing with Manhattan traffic. I’ve done plenty of big city driving before but I’m pretty sure I never want to drive through Manhattan ever again. We got to Jammie’s house around 8pm. Our total drive was just under 1,000 miles and gas cost approximately $85.86. I may have forgotten to get a receipt once so maybe it was more like $100 even. But still, not too bad considering gas prices were between $2.00 and $2.50 per gallon.

Saturday, August 13th, 2005: Me Jammie and the kids spent all day in NYC. After having some breakfast/lunch at Mcdonalds, we went to the seaport and watched a bunch of street performers, visited an 18th/19th century toy display, bought a few souvineers, looked around a Sharper Image store, visited Toys R Us (the largest in the world, Jammie claims) and ate supper at Mars 2112 which was a cool Mars-themed restaurant. Got home at 10pm, all nice and exhausted. Jammie gave me my very own Metrocard today! She’d lost hers earlier in the month, then found it. So I get the extra one to use all week.

Jammie and an alien from the restaurant Walking back to the Subway from Mars 2112 Alien guy and Toni share a cigarette after a hard day in NYC

Sunday, August 14th, 2005: Jammie, me and the kids spent all day at the science center in Jersey City. Stopped by a pizza place in Jersey City for dinner, then back to Jammies.

Payton was really into this computer that drew things with a laser. Emily and Jammie playing virtual vollyball with some blue screen video game thing

Payton and a lizzard Jammie holding a live cockroach

Monday, August 15th, 2005: Worked a bunch this morning while the kids played on the net and watched TV. We drove to McDonald’s for breakfast, then went to the park and for a long walk around the neighborhood. Around 5 we took the subway to Jammie’s work to pick her up and I got introduced to a few of her coworkers. Walked around Union Square for awhile, played at the parks, then Jammie took us to see Slava’s Snow Show at Union Square Theatre. It ruled and the kids loved it. Near the end of the show, there was a blizzard in the theater, which is why most of the pictures below have tons of “snow” in them. After that we stopped at some cafe for sandwhiches. Got home at midnight.

We were the last few people in the theater before we left At the cafe afterwards

Tuesday, August 16th, 2005: The kids and I spent most of the day visiting the Statue of Liberty. Then we walked forever to find some kind of Sony Wonder place that Jammie suggested but it ended up closing right as we got there. Hung out on the sidewalk for about 30 minutes, then went and found Jammie.

Kids posting with some guy in a Liberty costume in Battery Park This is about the best I could do with a picture of Emily and Payton in front of the statue. A slightly better shot of them in front of the Statue while taking the boat home. Even though it’s the back of the statue. Posing on some immigrant statue.

We all went to downtown to meet RTF and Murd0c. After nearly a decade of knowing RTF, I finally got to meet him. And after meeting murd0c this time, I didn’t end up fleeing the state in fear of the police. So it all worked around really good! I also got to meet I-ball, MikeTV, Enamon and RTF’s sister Fina.

We hung out for a few hours at some restaurant, which I’m told is the 2600 hangout after the 2600 meetings. At some point, Jammie and Emily left for about 45 minutes to play in some nearby park. RTF presented me with a framed original drawing of his winning entry from one of the PLA contests. And I presented everyone else with old school PLA stickers.

Me, Jammie, Murd0c, RTF and Emily Murd0c, Mike TV and RTF I-Ball desperately trying to connect to a wireless network.

Murd0c & Emily use the golden pay phones Me being gay with murd0c RTF, me and murd0c

Payton battling RTF outside the restaurant Emily and Jammie Emily, Jammie and Payton on the train home.

Wednesday, August 17th, 2005: Did nothing all day until Jammie got home from work at 3pm. Then went to Breezy Point and spent the evening at the beach. Had dinner with Jammie and her dad at a pizza place.

Emily boogie boarding Jammie boogie boarding

Thursday, August 18th, 2005: Jammie’s dad took the kids to some science center/museum thing today while I hung around the house. When they got back, I took the kids to Central Park to meet up with Jammie. Hung out with her for about 45 minutes, then she had to leave for a concert. The kids and I wandered central park for another hour and rode the carosel. Took a train to Times Square and had dinner at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, stopped by Mars 2112 to pick up a new plush alien (Payton lost the one he bought earlier in the week), stopped by a pharmacy for asprin (I’d had a headache all afternoon), then hung out in Toys R Us (the biggest in the world) for about an hour.

Taking a rest in Central Park Times Square

Took a train back to Central Park and eventually met up with Jammie after her concert ended. Got to meet her friend Rob and some other guy whose name I can’t remember. Walked to the train station and went home. We were all 4 extremely exhausted and fell asleep immediately after Futurama.

Friday, August 19th, 2005: The kids and I went to Jammie’s work to pick her up, then she took us to the Empire State Building. Got back home by about 5 or 6pm and stayed home the rest of the evening since we’re all pretty much exhausted from our busy week.

Saturday, August 20th, 2005: Jammie’s dad took us all out for a goodbye breakfast. Said our goodbyes and got on the road by noon. Managed to get through Manhattan traffic in just over 20 minutes this time. Drove until about 9:00, then found a motel in Ohio.

My synopsis of the vacation: New York rules, Jammie rules and her dad rules. And everything just rules. I think my only real complaint about New York would be the traffic. I’ve never driven in a place where people have such complete disregard for traffic laws. You’ll see an entire block of people double-parked and people constantly cut you off or force you out of your lane. Driving is just insane there. But they make up for it with awesome public transportation so I guess it all works out. Thanks, Jammie, for creating such a kickass vacation for us! Now to update my map

Sunday, August 21st, 2005: Got back to Illinois at about 8pm. Or maybe it was 7. These time zones confuse me. Didn’t do anything the rest of the evening, just picked up my mail at the neighbors, drank milkshakes and watched TV.

Driving to Texas

Set my alarm for 6:00am but ended up waking up at 5:30am instead. But that was good, it got me on the road quicker. Today I’m driving to Texas to witness my friend Cal getting hitched. My plan is to ruin/stop the wedding in some sort of spectacular fashion. He just doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into! Any sabotage plans anyone would care to email me are welcome. I might just kidnap him for a couple of days until this whole wedding thing blows over.

flat tireOn the way down my front-right tire blew out just before I reached Lebanon, Missouri. It didn’t just slowly go flat like they usually do, it just suddenly went kablewie! Luckily I didn’t spin out of control and flip my car a few dozen times. That would have been cool, though, especially if it happened in slow motion like in the movies. When I pulled over and looked at it, it was smoking. I got my spare tire on in a record 15 minutes. I used my phonebook CD-ROMs to locate a crappy little discount tire store 10 miles up the road. Then my GPS to get me there. I ended up getting 2 brand new tires for a total of $85.00. Last year when a tire blew out on my way to Montana, I spent over $100 for just 1 tire. But I didn’t have GPS then, to guide me to a crappy little discount tire place. GPS officially rules now.

As the old man at the tire shop was trying to run my debit card, he cursed at the machine a few times and then told me he’d be right back. I watched him walk across the parking lot to the telephone pole, open a box on the pole and start fiddling with the wires inside. A minute later he came back, tried it again and it worked. He really should consider calling the phone company…

In the end, my blown tire cost me just an hour of lost driving. I got into Oklahoma City at 4:30 and visited a friend for the rest of the evening. Tomorrow I’ll finish my drive. And this weekend, I will attempt to save Cal from the evil clutches of marriage.

Oh yeah, everyone should go listen to all the music on hotkarl.com. I downloaded everything from his media page last night and listened to it a few times on my drive today. He’s just like Eminem, only white!

April Entries

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005: This evening we took the kids to the park for awhile and then to see Meet The Fockers at the theater. Also stopped by Arby’s for supper.

Sunday, April 10th, 2005: Woke up around 8 or 9 in my cheap crappy motel. Started driving and got into Alton at 11:15am. Visited Shirley & Richard for awhile, went to Walgreens to get my pictures developed, to Alton Square, visited my parents. Jodi came over to visit.

Sunday, April 17th, 2005: Tami (from the bank, not my regular friend Tami. Damn, this is going to be confusing for journal writing. I’ll have to dump one of them or insist that they change their name…) called me at 9:30am and we talked for awhile. She ended up going with me to Edwardsville to pick up a birthday present for Emily. Got Metal Arms for Xbox for Emily’s birthday. Went to Tami’s house and watched Catch Me if you Can.

Friday, April 29th, 2005: Today Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was released. I was going to go alone at the 1pm show but Caerie IMed me and I ended up meeting her at the theater. Was a great movie. Went home and worked the rest of the day.

Saturday, April 30th, 2005: Got up at 6:30am and drove to Troy. Doing a fundraiser all day for the band, selling buttons. Stayed there until about 5pm.

April Entries

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005: This evening we took the kids to the park for awhile and then to see Meet The Fockers at the theater. Also stopped by Arby’s for supper.

Sunday, April 10th, 2005: Woke up around 8 or 9 in my cheap crappy motel. Started driving and got into Alton at 11:15am. Visited Shirley & Richard for awhile, went to Walgreens to get my pictures developed, to Alton Square, visited my parents. Jodi came over to visit.

Sunday, April 17th, 2005: Tami (from the bank, not my regular friend Tami. Damn, this is going to be confusing for journal writing. I’ll have to dump one of them or insist that they change their name…) called me at 9:30am and we talked for awhile. She ended up going with me to Edwardsville to pick up a birthday present for Emily. Got Metal Arms for Xbox for Emily’s birthday. Went to Tami’s house and watched Catch Me if you Can.

Friday, April 29th, 2005: Today Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was released. I was going to go alone at the 1pm show but Caerie IMed me and I ended up meeting her at the theater. Was a great movie. Went home and worked the rest of the day.

Saturday, April 30th, 2005: Got up at 6:30am and drove to Troy. Doing a fundraiser all day for the band, selling buttons. Stayed there until about 5pm.

Back from Idaho

Monday, April 11th, 2005: So I’m back in Illinois. I made the 2 day drive to Oregon, took the kids to Idaho and spent a week with them, went camping, geocaching and easter egg hunting. After the week was over, I took them back and then I spent another 2 weeks in Idaho with friends. It was only supposed to be a week but it turned into 2. On my drive back I got caught in a big snowstorm in Wyoming for a few hours. It was coming down so hard that I couldn’t see out the window. The interstate was covered in snow and the wind kept blowing my car into the other lane. I drove 30 – 40 MPH on the interstate for over an hour. But just before I crossed the border into South Dakota, the snow completely went away and everything suddenly turned green and sunny. I got home Sunday morning around 11:15am after staying the night in a sleezy Kansas City motel that was surrounded by XXX shops.

Nothing particularly interesting has happened in the past few weeks. Nothing I’d feel comfortable writing about in a public journal, anyway. But I did have a comical run-in with famous artist Ralph Steadman! You can read about that here. Oh yeah, my odometer hit 100,000 miles on the way there. That was such an exciting thing for me, I took a picture of it while driving 80 MPH down the interstate.

Today I went to breakfast at McDonald’s with Jodi. Visited the post office 3 times today, getting Ebay stuff mailed out and checking my mail. I still have a big pile of stuff to go through. I had a lot of money orders waiting for me at home and at the P.O. box for button sales. Worked all day while trying to get all the Ebay stuff caught up. Went to Taco Bell for supper and watched 3’oclock High while I ate.

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