What’s Up? (1/22/16)

Funny things can happen when you force yourself to write,
Like you can go on a tangent about Lapis and Malachite,
And generally sound crazy even if everything is alright.

Snow and booze, girls and dreams, parties and solitude,
A blog can catalog only so many things, my mind and mood,
My fears, my hopes, my highlights, my depressions, my attitude.

There’s more in between these topics, I’m sure, but they’re private.
The names, the depravity, the nitty gritty, the hereto oblivion.
But every human, surely, has those moments they’d rather not archive.

Like hacked computers, a blog can get a little weird, tell too much,
Spill a virus into the heart of the stagnant programmer,
Drain the lithium-ion of the soul, in need of hand picked cobalt.


What’s Up? (England Day Six)

Morning Hour
The morning of day six, it was decided between my friend and I that –while going to Cardiff would be nice, Baths Spa was closer and would provide more immediate entertainment than perhaps, seeing a Doctor Who museum would. So it was decided, that we would go to Baths Spa, and with a brief look on trip advisor, I also decided that we would have dinner at the wonderful, four-star, Martini Restaurant.

The adventure started with a big breakfast at Ebb & Flow; scrambled eggs, pancakes with blueberries, and the amazing invention that is fried bread. Seriously, how have I lived in America for 21 years, a land that loves and lives on bread and fried food, and never had fried bread? It is satisfying stuff. Not a shred of nutrition to be had but, satisfying stuff. Ebb & Flow by the way, is this wonderful joint that does breakfast and lunch by day, and booze by night–decorated with retro art, old newspaper comic strips, and graphic designs from the likes of Threadless designers.

Baths Spa
We arrived at the station in Baths Spa and found ourselves in the town square rather quickly. The immediate difference between Baths Spa and any other town in England, is the white stone aesthetic. Everything appears to be made out of this single type of stone, at least in this shopping district. A little further out, the Roman architecture shows its face, mixed in with a Gothic Cathedral, and some cottage-style buildings. Baths is a mix like that–well, nearly everywhere in England appears to be a mix like this–a city that keeps a little bit of every era its survived.

The Roman Baths would be a remarkable attraction for anyone to visit, but having completed a course in Roman Civilization just a few weeks prior to visiting amplified the experience. I wasn’t just in awe of Roman engineering, but often I was recognizing details from class notes, and remembering facts before our audio tour guide could recite them. I think one of the chilling realizations about the Baths is how, as a partially subterranean attraction,  you are reminded again and again how it was street-level back in the Roman Empire. A few hundred years go by, and underneath these British streets, you find entire Roman buildings, and the natural spring water still flows through the Roman architecture. And that spring water, is warm, and heavy with irons. “Tastes like blood.”

One of the funnier historical finds were these curses written by Romans and thrown into the pools of the temple. The punishments the Romans would ask for were completely out of proportion to the crime. Did you steal a bath tows mind. The curses weren’t just physically violent, they were oftentimes mentally cruel.

In any case, after a solid hour or two in the Baths, we walked over to David’s Ice Cream and Fudge, a tiny, tiny little shop that could maybe hold six or seven patrons? I do forget which flavor of ice cream my friend ordered, but I strongly recall ordering a lemon flavored ice cream, in a waffle cone. We ate ice cream on these benches in the Kingston Parade, in the shadow of the Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. We made fun of pigeons walking around, and couldn’t help but laugh at ourselves for doing so. And we were beyond puzzled when two men carrying a refrigerator one way across the square, were spotted carrying the same refrigerator back the other way.

Martini Restaurant
We then navigated ourselves through Baths Spa, up Stall, through Burton, and up Milson Street, which was just lined with shops. We ran into a man who, well, put pigeons on people and took pictures of them. So of course we stopped, let the man put pigeons on us, had him take a few pictures of us, gave him a few pounds, and went on our way. And at the end of that road we were on George Street, and we made our way to the Martini Restaurant, a fancy little Italian restaurant that claimed it was “The Italian restaurant, run by real Italians!” Our waiter was a lovely man named Nikolaj who was smiley, polite, and frequented our table to check in on us. An older man, Giordano, occasionally popped by too, once commenting on my friends’ hella-stylish Bugs Bunny patterned button-up shirt. We had a bottle of Pinot Grigio Rosé, 19.95 Pound or 31 USD, which lasted us through the meal and was an absolute treat. Speaking of meals, my order of the Manicotti Roma was perfection; the Manicotti is like a cannoli-sized pasta tube, stuffed with ricotta and spinach, and no part of the pasta was overcooked or burnt. My friend ordered a pasta dish that included crab, Ling Granseola, and like myself, could not stop to talk about how good it was every four bites. Two excellent meals and a nice sweet wine to drink it down with would have made a good time, but it’s what we ordered next that made it a great time.

See, by this point we were a little tipsy, and saying things like “I can’t believe you’re here,” and “I can’t believe what a good time it’s been,” and “you are easily the coolest person I know,” or “I can’t believe I’m going home in three days.” And since we were enjoying ourselves I guess I thought, “why stop enjoying ourselves?” So we ordered two espresso martinis to close out the night, and that decision couldn’t have been wiser. Those martinis completely took the night to the next level. We ventured out back into Baths Spa in that kind of drunken bliss where we could laugh at just about anything, and everything about Baths just felt that much more amazing. We walked to the River Avon to see the Pulteney Bridge, which looked unlike any other bridge I’d ever seen before. The design was such that, it was like you weren’t crossing a bridge at all–the sidewalk kept going, and the shops did not come to a halt. And yet, in our mood, we were all about taking photos of the River Avon and its many seagull occupants. Like we had with the pigeons before, all we could do was crack jokes and laugh at ourselves.

We stumbled on over to Bath’s train station, cracked more jokes at the expense of seagulls, and went home to Southampton. What a day.

What’s Up? (6/2/15)

LaGuardia Airport. A Tale.
Something changed at the airport. When I sat down at the bar, I felt like I was retreating from chaos. That was an hour ago. Back then, announcements had to be made so that the impatient folk trying to get on the plane would get out of the way for 85 passengers trying to get off the plane. People seemed stressed out, me included.

I arrived at the airport around 3:30 PM, and my 5:55 PM flight was delayed to 8:00PM, then canceled, and I was rebooked for a 8:30PM flight, which was delayed until 9:20.

The time is, right now, 7:53PM. I have no idea whether or not I’ll be on an airplane at 9:20 PM. I have little faith in US Airways, who have canceled two flights on me today.

Still, either the hour has become so late, or the rich alcohol has soothed me so much that LaGuardia has become, tolerable, peaceful even! There has to be, I guess, 80% fewer people. LaGuardia feels empty, and quiet, and I love it. At this level of peace and quiet, I could tell that there were regulars at the airport bar. Regulars at the airport bar. People who fly so often the bartender knows them. Frequent flyers, and frequent drinkers. My type of people.

Myself? I ordered a French 75, a hot pretzel, a Black Russian, and a Negroni, in that order. It was a hefty price for three drinks, but if it buys this type of serenity, then it has no price. I’ve heard of drinking in airports gone wrong, leading to missed flights, or miserable flights, but this is peaceful, this is wonderful, and I feel like I have not been at the airport for five hours.

What’s Up? (4/18/15)

Quick Recap
The week of (4/6) to (4/12) was good. The weekend was particularly filled with things I enjoy: like Formula One, Game of Thrones, drinking gin, being productive, getting busy (wink, nod, move on), and having a relaxing outdoor dinner with my significant other.

The week of (4/13) to (4/19) was less good. I felt lots of stress piling on. Graduation, apartment hunting, job hunting, and finals week pushed me to a rock-bottom mindset. The good thing was that I basically bottomed out by Wednesday (4/15) and after that things have been much better.

Now, it’s Sunday (4/19) at 2:40 AM. I’m done writing one of two final papers. I’m back in the swing of things. I’m excited to graduate. I’m excited for the Bahrain Grand Prix in eight hours. I’m excited for Game of Thrones. I’m excited to see my s.o. one last time before the summer break.

I was knocked down for a bit, but I’m coming up. More, in detail, later. For now, we sleep, eased by sweet vodka gimlets, and the knowledge that the most important essay of my college career is now completely written, though in need of edits. It’s good enough that I deserve this little break.

What’s Up? (3/22/15)

I went silent since the day before spring break. A lot of good has happened so, where were the journal entries? I didn’t talk about break, going to the city, or finally seeing Bjork (an idol of mine). And when I got back to Pittsburgh it was a good time too, so what gives?

So, funny thing is, a month ago exactly–the same shit happened. Life is going well, then wham, sore throat, stuffy nose… suddenly I feel like death and everything falls apart. Well, nothing falls apart, but the energy it takes to keep it all together increases greatly. The energy it takes to wake up, go to class, go to clubs, be productive, be alive… so much more energy is expended and the result is exhausting. It got to my head, took a toll on my mood, like a light bout of… I dressed less well, was openly miserable, it sucked! Nothing I can do about it though, there is no magic bullet for the cold. I’m fighting, you know? Allergy medication, headache stuff, NyQuil… I got a humidifier running beside me with Vicks stuff in it to soothe my nose, and to help keep my lips from drying out…

Sleep may be the worst hostage from this whole damn cold. Both nostrils are plugged, I can’t breathe from them, so I wake up periodically gasping for water because my tongue has gone dry, my lips are cracked and shrunken–and when I do get to the water it’s never enough…. So basically the one thing everyone says you need to get better “Just a bit of rest!” is the number one, least enjoyable, maybe most painful thing of all. My lips are so dried out and ripped up, I feel like a monster, it’s so bad.

So not everything been bad, and there’s been quite a lot of good since (3/5/15) but how the hell am I supposed to want to sit down and write about the good when I’ve been feeling nothing but misery? Maybe next week when, gods willing, I get better, I’ll tell you all about the good.

What’s Up? (2/23/15)

Euphoric Wave Over
Getting sick sucks, but getting sick during the middle of an emotional peak sucks even more. Right when everything feels like it’s going best for you, when you’re a social explosion high on parties, sex, and alcohol, that’s when it sucks the most to be taken down by a cold. A goddamn cold, sore throat, snotty, cold.

I stayed inside all of Friday (2/20/15) and Sunday (2/22/15) and that makes me feel like garbage. I hate being bedridden. I was productive indoors, sure, and I had an alright time with my roommates but–it’s nothing compared to being up and outside. When I stay indoors or relatively locked-in my apartment, it can feel like I’m not there at all.

So in a way I think being sick helped me a little bit because I realized how much I thrive on going outside, being around people, being social, having drinks and having good times. Schmooze it or lose it, you know what I’m saying?

What’s Up? (1/28/15)

So the obvious disclaimer here is that I’m writing this on (1/29/15) but as Thursday is basically my day of rest, I have absolutely nothing to add about it, and since Wednesday is the longest day I’ve ever scheduled in college before, it’s all I can write about these days. 

Despite not getting a lot of sleep, I found my morning walk to class to be emotionally recharging. Pittsburgh was brighter than usual with two-three inches of snow around. Everything reflected the sunlight of course, and as such there were places that were actually really warm around town – places you could go to soak up the sun beams. There was also the smell of Fuel & Fuddle firing up the brick oven, God knows why they need to around 9AM. Some people must go in their for the brunch menu. I’m jealous of those people.

With my head thinking about bright warm suns, I listened to The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” (1969) and well, if you know me you know I almost never listen to The Beatles. By all accounts, Wednesday was going extraordinarily. I wrote to Marie Claire, I wrote for The Fourth Wave, I had a coffee, made lunch, and made the best out of the time I could take to relax at home.

Late Afternoon
My short-essay was the center of attention in a discussion about race in Intro to Gender and Sexuality, and modest though I am, it sometimes feels really great to know that you’re writing is teaching people something, and being enjoyed by people. At this point in the day I’m going so well that I knew “Wednesday was beat.”

During Senior Seminar I have a huge moment of inspiration. All month long I was in a huge writer’s block about what the hell I wanted to write about as my final piece of Nonfiction Writing as a University of Pittsburgh Student. “Who will it be” I kept asking, having only written extensively about people before. I should have been thinking “What will it be.” Research. I need to be able to hit up books at the Library. Then it hit me: The Gimlet. A standard, classic drink, yet one that younger people don’t really know. As my Professor said: “It’s such a simple, yet odd drink. You order it and people look at you like you’re 82.” I admit it feels a little funny to commit research hours to an alcoholic drink but, there’s a history there, there are people behind the history, and there are bartenders today with Gimlet-input – so there’s a story here. How many people want to hear the story of The Gimlet? Who cares! As I close Moby Dick for the last time this month, if anything I should take away that it’s totally fine to write about what you know, and what you love.