Archive for the 'Me' Category

18
Jan
14

Just-go stories

BoltBus

After a depressing encounter on a Greyhound from New York to Philadelphia, I resolved to find a more reliable, less-nauseating mode of mass transit between the two cities.

On my first attempt, I found myself sharing the only seat left with an old woman who was digging to China through a large polystyrene clamshell of buffalo wings. Each of about three dozen wings was an adventure in lip-smacking, bone-snapping exuberance. Every morsel of flesh squeaked repugnantly in her mouth. I could avoid most of the sounds with my headphones, but the vile, eye-watering stench streaming from her lap was inescapable.

Then, having no napkins, she spent a good five minutes licking her hands clean. I didn’t have the nerve to see what she wiped them dry with.

I was living in Philadelphia and working in New York, and I knew that I would have to start making some smarter choices about my twice-a-week commute. I settled on Bolt Bus. Continue reading ‘Just-go stories’

18
Jan
14

Not even an earful

inner ear

One condition of getting older is the likelihood that my doctor will send me to a specialist. I guess as I slowly break down and descend into decay, my parts need more and more special attention.

Last September, I spent $50 for a visit to the otorhinolaryngologist. I like that word far better than “ears, nose and throat doctor,” or, if you’re too lazy to live, ENT. You know a word, you should use it, right?

Otorhinolaryngologist takes nearly as long to say as my appointment lasted. Continue reading ‘Not even an earful’

17
Jan
14

American horror story: cafeteria

My elementary school’s cafeteria was a reliable source of embarrassment for me. It was the “lunch room.” I didn’t know the word “cafeteria” yet. It was also the school’s gym, which doubled its the power to humiliate. But we’ll save all of that for another time.

Lunch marked a time in the day when we kids weren’t operating with the safety lines of our parents or teachers. Freedom without experience can be terrifying.  Continue reading ‘American horror story: cafeteria’

23
Nov
13

Licking my wounds

I was mostly impressed with myself that I was making my way home so well that night. It was late on a Friday. I figured I shouldn’t be biking, but there weren’t many people or cars around, and I was being careful.

It had been raining lightly off and on all day, and the streets were good and soaked, but there wasn’t much standing water. It was easy to avoid the puddles, and I had so far managed to avoid spraying a lot of water up at me with my fat mountain bike tires. I picked up speed by and by.

Just over half way home, and I was moving at a pretty fast clip down 12th Street, avoiding the old, unused trolley tracks. And then, without warning, I was on the ground, tangled up in my bike, skidding across the street on my hands and knees, the rim of my helmet scraping against the pavement, a stinging sensation in my knee. Continue reading ‘Licking my wounds’

28
Mar
13

Why I will only eat the No. 6

The short answer is, the Jimmy John’s No. 6 vegetarian sub may very well have saved my life.

On the evening of Sept. 23, 1997, I put myself in the hospital with alcohol poisoning. That is to say, an ambulance and some paramedics put me in the hospital, but I’m the one who started it.

No. 6 vegetarian

It looks kinda like this, except they dont do sprouts anymore. (Courtesy of JimmyJohns.com

It was my 21st birthday. My job laying out the student newspaper held me up, and I was late meeting my friends at the bar to celebrate. Time before last call was short, so I drank something like four beers and nine shots in less than an hour.

I remember this much before waking up on a gurney as I was wheeled into Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Mich.

  1. Thinking: Should I do those last two shots?
  2. Thinking: Hell yes.
  3. Stumbling home on the shoulders of two of my roommates. I didn’t so much walk as allow myself to be propelled forward by gravity and their patience.
  4. Rolling off the living room couch into pure darkness to hit the floor, clutch my gut, and commence vomiting.

Continue reading ‘Why I will only eat the No. 6’

30
Jan
13

Hot August night

A familiar face peered out from the shelter of an open trunk. He was fussing with something inside, and he was trying to get my attention.

“Hey hey hey!” I shouted.

“Alex!” he called back. He knew my face but not my name. I didn’t remember his, either, so it seemed hypocritical to correct him. Continue reading ‘Hot August night’

28
Dec
12

flying in

Turning to my neighbor and enjoying an excuse to use the cliche, I said, “I can literally see my house from here.”

He turned toward the window as if he could see it, too. Out of politeness or empathy, I suppose. Just a reflex. I might have done the same thing.

I’d avoided talking to him so far. If there is anything I hate on an airplane, it’s verbosity, but we were so close, I thought I could risk it.

He wore a fedora and a black short-sleeve oxford shirt. He looked to be in his late 50s. His arms were covered with coarse brown and gray hairs, and the backs of his hands were spotty and freckled. I mention these details, because I looked at him so little, I believe it’s all I saw of him. I think he wore glasses.

I imagined he was a man who said “cat” and “cool” and “babe” a lot and who liked to sit in bars and recommend jazz clubs to tourists.

I was probably completely wrong.

It wasn’t strictly true that I could see my house — but it was possible, so I let the syntax stand. We were close enough. I could see my block. Ergo, I could see my house.

We had just curved slowly over Center City. The edges of the crystalline spires of Liberty Place glowed red that night, and the mirrored panes of glass shimmering like spangles from one to the next as we rotated past seemed close enough to touch.

From there, I could trace my way through the lighted grid below us. The streets spread out like a geometry problem. There’s Broad. There’s East Passyunk. That’s the Acme. So that’s Reed, Dickinson, Tasker, Morris, Moore, Mifflin. There’s the Catholic high school. My house should be just about… there.

Seemed a shame to go all the way to the airport to catch a cab all the way back up here. Couldn’t I just parachute out and walk home? Surely I’d land somewhere nearby.

But of course not. That would be silly. I had a checked bag that I needed to claim.

“Coming from Detroit,” my neighbor said, “this place must seem so beautiful.”

It was beautiful. And where I came from had nothing to do with it.




the untallied hours

the tweets