Friday, March 25, 2011

Waiting Rocks Less Than Cleveland

Apparently, I am a month overdue with a report on Cleveland.

Oops. Sorry. Life has just been ... well, life. A lot of things have happened: I wrote a short story in 24 hours (will hear back about it by the end of the month). I got dumped. I went to Alcatraz, at night (might do a quickie blog post about that soon, since I have some pictures). I did my taxes and got my refund, half of which I promptly used to buy myself a new computer. My new computer came in pieces, so I put it together, but have not yet turned it on, mostly because I didn't yet have the Operating System. The OS (Windows 7, if you must know) came today, but instead I had to watch the Sharks make a magical comeback in game 3 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so turning the new computer on will come tomorrow.

And that's just part of the adventure that has happened to me. Oh, end-of-March, most-of-April. How you have been gusty.

So yeah, Cleveland. A brief summary:

I know, I know. Couldn't resist. Though I did not see Drew Carey (or Betty White, for that matter) on the Ohio leg of my trip back east at all. Alas.

Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised — having kept my expectations low — but I really liked Cleveland. As in, I wouldn't mind going back there again, if I had someone to stay with that was a good friend. This time that friend was actually my oldest cousin, Jason.
Jason with Monkey
I remember back when I was a wee thing of three (or was it four?), being incredibly intimidated by my much older boy cousins (Jason has 6 years on me, I believe, and his brother Ryan has 3). But now here we are, both in our 30s, all grown up. Kind of weird, but much cooler than being shy and wistfully wishing I could play with the big kids. Because heck, now I am one of the big kids.
Me and My Ape
Giant stuffed apes notwithstanding.

I drove in the Wednesday night (not a bad trip, and I think just those 8 hours of open road, with only myself were exactly what I needed to smooth my ruffled emotions), and on Thursday I took a bus downtown to visit my company's office and then head over to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Highly recommend. It's not exactly a museum you need to go to more than once (or maybe twice) in your life, but they've got a great exhibit of the history of rock and roll, with a lot of listening stations playing the classic foundations of the genre. I spent a good three hours there, and barely felt it.

Plus, it's right on the shore of Lake Erie. It's weird to be on the edge of such an expanse of water, and know it's not sea or ocean.
Random Cleveland
Random Cleveland

And really, I think that was the last real money I spent on the entire trip. Auntie Roz and Uncle Charlie, you both did something right in raising your sons: I was kept well-fed and well-entertained the entire time. There's a lot of good food to be had in Cleveland, and J's boyfriend, Gen, is a marvelous cook. Not fair at all.

The "point" of this venture into Ohio was to see the Trashcan Sinatras. I have to admit: this was the better show of the trip. We sat up close (maybe 10 feet away), the crowd had a great vibe, and the band were having fun that night.

TCS in Cleveland

We did a bit of exploring, especially around Ohio City and Tremont neighborhoods. Saturday before I had to head to the airport, we hit up the West Side Market.
West Side Market, Cleveland

Seriously, this is what the SF Ferry Building should be, instead of the touristy, bland, overpriced bourgeois crappy thing it is now. It's like the Farmer's Market, but every day. And better.

West Side Market, Cleveland

We picked up some fish and Gen served it up as sushi.

Sushi Lunch

And then Jason and I walked off the luncheon around Tremont while Gen went to his job, before finally dumping me off at the airport.

Did Cleveland save my trip? No: it was a great trip overall, I had just forgotten that in the swirl of birthday and back issues. But it reminded me that leaving this little piece of 7x7 every once in a while is the best thing I can do to realign myself emotionally.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

State of Mind

Still trying to process my trip back East. Like my road trip back in September, I'll probably break this one up into two posts: New York, and Cleveland.

I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: New York is full of emotion for me. There's a lot built into that city, and I'm always both prepared and fully unprepared for how it affects me each time. I also forget how the hiccups of any experience in New York have a tendency to drown out the rest of the amazingness that happened on the trip.

I want to focus on the good, because there was a lot of it. So let's get over the hiccups first: a canceled birthday party (co-host got sick ... not his fault at all, but still disappointing); and throwing out my back again the second week of the trip, which involved a $200 set of visits to a chiropractor (which was a strange experience — they had three different guys poking and prodding at me, trying to figure out what was broken).

That was it. That was all the bad. But it was a bad that left the New York portion of the trip feeling ... incomplete. Maybe New York will always be incomplete for me, the longer I'm away and the more I become entrenched here in SF

At least the good of the trip was full of awesome. Just an example:


Yes, that is a TARDIS. Yes, I totally creamed my panties when I saw it.

I stayed this time with Jes and Nick. I've known her since we were 17; we met in an online Trashcan Sinatras-related chatroom. He is her fiancé, and a completely awesome and wonderful person who almost deserves her.

Nick and Jes and Burritos

I'm eternally grateful to them: they tolerated my ups and downs, distracted me with British TV when I was sad, and Nick especially I am thankful for making me watch Predator and learn about the EPIC HANDSHAKE.

My bedmate was Fluffy Kitty
Fluffy Kitty!
who insisted on at least 10 minutes of worship and adoration before settling down on the sofabed between my feet every night. Willingly given, I have to admit. (Sorry, Kitoose.)

The first week was spent working out of my company's New York office — it's my fourth time there, and it almost feels like a second work-home by now. I was able to fill the evenings with a different friend (or set of friends) every night, which made me feel good. Caught up with Erin and Nathan, Benny, Laura, Karen ... and of course had my night out drinking with Geof.

Playing here with someone's Sonic Screwdriver (I might have to get one of my own). He's responsible for being my personal sherpa from the airport, for getting me half-deaf my first night in town, for taking me to the TARDIS bar, for the disappointment of my birthday, and for the comfort breakfast and company when I could hardly reach down to put my own socks on. (FYI: throwing out your back is not only painful, but also humiliating.) That sonofabitch.

Jes and I saw the Trashcan Sinatras the Sunday after my birthday, which is the first time we'd seen them together.

With my back out, the best thing for me to do was, in fact, a lot of walking. So in the end my painful injury was a good thing. On the second Monday of my trip, I walked from Greenpoint where I was staying, across the Williamsburg Bridge and down to Battery Park, then back up Broadway to my chiro appointment.
A Long Walk
A Long Walk
A Long Walk

Tuesday I went up to Washington Heights and wandered around a little before taking the subway down to 92nd Street and walking down Broadway to Columbus Circle, across to 5th Avenue, and then down to Union Square. It was the walk that really brought me back at peace with the City again. I'm glad I did it.

Wednesday Nick helped me schlep the ginormous suitcase of doom to the Hertz rental center, where I picked up a car for the drive to Cleveland. Yes, I drove to Cleveland. No, it wasn't nearly as bad as expected.