Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Hey, You! Out of the Gene Pool!

While searching for a parking spot in downtown Clayton this afternoon, I noticed a tall, balding gentleman striding up the middle of the street, tie flapping in the breeze.

As I passed, he said to another gentleman, also in the center of the street, "Man, you could get run over out here."

Now, the nearest crosswalk was approximately 15 feet away. It was around noon, in Clayton - a business hub in St. Louis County. People are bustling around, foraging for lunch and running errands.

That means there's a lot of cars on the road. Strangely enough, there weren't any on the sidewalks - That's where the people roamed. The cars stuck to the streets.

And here's this jackass and his friend, jackass junior, walking up the middle of the street bitching about how the mean cars might run over their stupid behinds.

I almost felt regret when I backed over them.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

New Look for a New Day

Thought I would try out some shiny new threads. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 24, 2004

I Think He's Puffing the Magic Dragon . . .

The sunrise was golden and beautiful, but it guaranteed I couldn't see much else. As we walked up the street, I kept my eyes to the ground. The dog walked on, sniffing here and there, taking care of business.

That's when it hit me.

He walked out from the house towards the waiting minivan. I smelled him long before I saw him, and he smelled as if the party had been going on for quite some time.

Yep, my man apparently took a few very liberal hits off the bong before heading to his McJob for the day.

Now I'm not condemning him for hitting the pipe at 6:30 AM. Far from it; we all need a little pickup. Lord knows what I would be like without a stiff belt of scotch to open my eyes and put things in perspective.

But brother, maybe you should find a habit that doesn't leave such a mark on those around you. I mean, c'mon man, I was getting a contact high just walking past you for six seconds. What's the poor fry cook next to you going to do today, fight off an urge to start eating the product around 11:30?

Not to mention you, my friend - how are you going to handle being surrounded by all those burgers, fries and god knows what else all morning? Think, man, think!

Perhaps there's a reason he's going to that McJob at that hour, and that he'll be going to the same job for years to come.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

I am Trudy, Destroyer of Homes

I'm a bad parent. I feed my child drugs, and I feel myself losing patience with her. However, before you grab the phone to call social services, bear with me a little.

As I mentioned, I took in Trudy about three weeks ago. Trudy is old. Trudy spends much of her days sleeping. She likes to take long walks and longer naps. She's very quiet, and while she has been known to root through the trash from time to time, she's generally a good dog.

All this was true three weeks ago.

I figured that she would be a little nervous at first, but she would settle in. I figured things would be much like they were when she lived with my mother. I figured I could deal with all the problems. And I did - she hasn't relieved herself in the house since the first day, and she hasn't gone through the trash.

So now she howls.

From about three minutes after I leave until I return home, she serenades the house and block with a symphony of barks, howls and whines. If she frees herself from the kitchen, she leaves a trail of wrecked newspapers, destroyed blinds and noseprinted windows in her wake.

I've tried leaving and returning several times to accustom her to my schedule. I've tried Clonicalm (doggie downers - although given the results thus far, I'm thinking they gave me sugar pills and charged me $20). I've tried doggie toys. I'm thinking about spiking her drink with whiskey, because I'm approaching my wits' end.

I love this little dog, but I don't know what to do with her. If she doesn't calm down soon, I'm going to have to find a home for her, because my neighbors and roommate are starting to get pissed, and I don't blame them.

This wouldn't be so frustrating if she wasn't so damned smart. She's figured out ways around virtually every barricade I've built to keep her in the kitchen. She figured out how to scoot the base out of her cage. She knows how to open cabinets. But she apparently can't figure out that I'm going to return every time I leave.

Lord knows I probably should be home more throughout the week - and I've done that to accomodate her thus far, but I'm not willing to completely revolve my life around a dog; heck, I have enough trouble relating to people.

I'm hoping that she'll start calming down soon, because otherwise I'm going to have to make some unplesant choices soon, and I'm not sure I can live with the outcome.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Weekend Aftermath -

My stomach is rolling and rumbling like a thunderstorm and I really want some sleep. I haven't been able to eat all day, and I need to do a lot more cleaning before I can finally call it a night.

Seventy-two hours ago, I was downing my second or third beer of many for the night, until I finally slept sometime around three.

Forty-eight hours ago, I was watching the poker tournament I'd been recently bounced out of and, yep - drinking another beer.

The night before, I found that I played better poker when I was a little on the drunk side. Unfortunately, I was going from a data sample of one. Probably should have done a little more homework.

Personally, I think the reason I was bounced was because I wasn't drunk enough at the time.

Of course, it may have had something to do with the poker gods laughing at me by giving my opponent trip eights on the river after I went all in on a pair of aces.

In any case, with the night and lots of beer in my veins, I didn't roll into bed until five in the morning. Then we woke up and drove ten hours back home, eating nothing but McDonalds, Wendy's and any junk we could find.

So let's recap the weekend, shall we?

Twenty-two hours in the car with four good friends, a DVD player and a ton of movies. Playing poker all weekend and going to a great party in South Carolina thrown by another good friend. Eating bad food and drinking enough alcohol to probably run my car.

Basically, what I'm getting at here is even though I'm not sure I'll be able to go more than three hours without hitting the can or eat solid food again, I'm ready to go back.

A little drunken irresponsibility is definitely a good thing every once in awhile. Thanks for a fantastic weekend, Brad.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004


If you ever get the chance, take the dog for a walk while drunk. Good times.

Monday, June 14, 2004


It was always the cards that stuck with me.

Every time we would leave for the drive to her University City apartment, I knew the plastic pilot wings and a deck of cards would be waiting.

We'd lie on the floor - my brother Mike, my grandmother Dorothy (but she'll always be Mimi) and me. We'd play Go Fish, War and Old Maid, drink Cokes and talk until Mom or Dad came to pick us up.

And Mimi would always have a deck of cards ready for us. To this day, I can't pick one up without thinking of those days.

We celebrated her 90th birthday on Sunday. Friends and family met for a brunch; a rare occurence these days, given the distances (physical and emotional) and the way that everyone's lives seem to be flying along faster than a bullet train.

She was born before World War I - Woodrow Wilson was the President, survived the Great Depression, met my grandfather, converted to Judaism, made it through World War II, lost my grandfather and raised two children alone while running the buying department for several department stores in the area - without a high school diploma.

Even without that piece of paper, she's one of the most intelligent people I've ever met; she has a sharp wit and she's forgotten more than I'll ever know. She knows the city streets from memory better than I do - and I've lived here for the past two years.

Nowadays, her knee hurts when she walks, and her vision is failing. But she still can talk baseball with the best of 'em, and she tells us wonderful stories of growing up in her old North City neighborhood along with stories of my mother when she was growing up.

Even though she may have lost a step or two physically, she's still sharper at 90 than most people at 30. She still knows exactly what to say and when to say it.

So happy birthday, Mimi, and here's to many, many more.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

My Shadow

I grew a shadow over the weekend. It follows me wherever I go - to the basement, my bedroom, my bathroom.

My shadow has four legs and a bushy tail. It sleeps a lot, and it's going to require some major adjustment in my life.

Yes - I am now a dog owner. My mother decided she no longer wanted our family dog, Trudy, so I agreed to take her. She's at least 12 years old and doesn't have the same old spring in her step - long naps, three walks a day and occasional petting is how she likes spending her days.

And it's going to be a pain. I'm still not sure how I feel about this. Don't get me wrong -- I like the dog. She's sweet and funny, but she's not a lot of fun - if you roll a ball at her she just looks at you like you're speaking in tongues.

But I enjoy my freedom. I like being able to stay out all day and leave at the spur of the moment. A dog just gets in the way. And when I left for an hour this afternoon, she left me a present in the sunroom. I replied by buying her a new cage.

It always comes back to this, though: on a cold winter night about ten years ago, I was returning home. I still lived with my parents at the time. It was so cold it hurt to take a breath. I was tired and ready for some serious sack time. Unfortunately, the door was stuck.

After a good 20 minutes of pounding on the door, someone finally let me in the house. I sat by the dying embers of the fire, hoping to coax a little warmth from them. Trudy walked over to me slowly and hopped up on my lap - something she had never really done before. I warmed back up, and she hopped off and went back to sleep at my feet.

A little act of kindness by a dog that has stuck with me all these years. So welcome aboard, Trudy. Enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

This single tree stood atop a sea stack next to our first campsite; it was about 75 feet high. I took this after a relatively short day on the trail.

Footprints in the Sand

We traveled two miles on Sunday; it was a clear, breezy day under an unbelievably blue sky. The going was a little rough for two reasons: my pack and the sand.

If you've never walked with a backpack before - and I'm not talking about the cute little pack you wore in high school or the slightly larger one you tore the hell out of in college, imagine giving a child a piggy-back ride for a full day, carrying him from six to eight miles. And he doesn't let go.

A walk up the beach is simple; a walk loaded down with clothes, food, shelter, water filters, sleeping bag and other assorted stuff becomes complicated. You just don't move as fast; it also changes your center of balance a little, so you need to be careful.

The sand was another story altogether. Normally, a nice walk along the beach is pleasant, but for traction, the sand is a real bitch. It's hard to get a solid foothold, so it's hard to move along at any real rate of speed.

There were also patches of small round rocks - billions of them, slowly being ground into sand. They weren't much easier to walk on, but when the waves hit them, you could hear the water hissing through the stones as it returned to the ocean.

So two miles might not seem like much, but it was plenty on the first day. Plus we would have had to climb over a headland to make any distance.

Another note about the Pacific Coast -- you're at the mercy of the tides. You MUST time your hikes so that you can pass headlands while the tide is out, or you're going to be finding a small overhang to spend the night on - because a six-foot tide crashing into the rocks all around you will kill you.

That's how we ended in a secluded spot about 100 feet off the beach. Early in the evening, a gentle breeze kept the bugs away, and thanks to the piled logs and high grass in front of the campsite, passers-by didn't know we were there.

At night, the major sound was the waves hitting the coast.

Perhaps it was exhaustion - we'd only managed about five hours of sleep the night before, and it had been a long day, but this was a perfect campsite and a great way to end the first day on the trail.