Saturday, May 24, 2003

London calling-and I don't wanna shout
But when we were talking-I saw you nodding out
London calling, see we ain't got no highs
Except for that one with the yellowy eyes

"Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of American Airlines, I'd like to welcome you to London, England."

With those words, I started the full-time chapter of my law school career. It had already been a long day, and it wasn't over yet.

I woke up about nine, thinking of all the things I seemingly had to do before my parents came to take me to the airport. My parents wound up coming at one-thirty, a full hour and a half earlier than originally planned, and half an hour earlier than they'd told me only hours before. Fortunately, although I'd gone out to lunch, I'd gotten home sooner than expected (which turned out to be good, although admitting to going out to lunch when your parents think they're taking you to lunch is a bad thing).

Despite it being a Holiday Friday, there was hardly any traffic, and we made it to the airport in record time. The flight from Chicago to London was uneventful, and although J had told me we were seated across the aisle from each other, it turned out we were next to each other (and I was the lucky one on the aisle). J was supremely disappointed that American was charging for alcoholic drinks, since he'd hoped to get plastered on the plane (a policy I've come to appreciate more in recent days). I was disappointed in the movie selections. While I'd read that the airlines, in a cost-cutting mood, were getting away from first-run features, I didn't realize that it meant that far away. Evelyn, starring Pierce Brosnan, was the only one I was familiar with, save Doctor Who, but that film little resembled the TV show I'd watched in high school with some fascination (and a healthy dose of detachment from reality, since the special effects were often lacking). Thank God for multiple Spin City episodes and a good book. I even tried to sleep, but found I still can't sleep on an airplane.

The time I like is the rush hour
'cause I like the rush
The pushing of the people
I like it oh so much
Such a mass of motion
Do not know where it goes
I move with the movement and
I have the touch

I love London - the smells, the sights, the sounds - the whole city has a cosmopolitan character unlike any other. Walk through Leicester Square on any given evening, and you'll think the whole world has stopped by. Pass by the Official Half Price Ticket Booth and listen to a woman from Germany babble on to her girlfriend while animatedly gesturing. Whatever she's talking about, it's certainly worked her up. Keep walking, passing the All-One bar, and marvel at the lengths and types of skirts (mostly short & leather) on the myriad of women waiting to get in. Close by, there's a couple arguing in French, and even though you don't understand one word of what's being said, he's losing. Ahead is a building marked 'Switzerland', and you tell your companion that when you first came to London, it was a glockenspiel store, with a gigantic glockenspiel outside which chimed on the hour. Leave out your disappointment when you'd noticed on a later trip that it had closed. Turn right, and two Americans debate whether or not they should see a movie, or head to a play. Further along, the Muslim couple walks - she covered head-to-toe in burka, and walking dutifully behind him - neither of them speaking, just looking around. You wonder what they think of the hustle & bustle. Around, in front and behind you are all sorts of hucksters, from the various buskers to the robot-man, from the shills handing out concert leaflets, to the guy informing everyone in a loud voice "Returns! Returns! We've just had some returns for this evening. We've just had some returns for this evening!" In between all this is a cacophony of languages of every kind, and manner of dress to match, from the formal right down to the informal. From rich to poor, everyone seems to have come out to Leicester Square.

And so it was this evening, as I dragged J out for dinner. We'd managed to waste the day shopping for SIM cards on Oxford street, and even though it was early by European standards for dinner (7 pm), we still had to wait at the pseudo-Mexican restaurant we chose. Forty-five minutes of standing around, beer in hand led J to conclude that no pretty women existed in London, save foreigners. I noticed two women near us, one cute, the other average, and just as I did, two blokes made a lame pickup attempt using the old "it's my mate's birthday, don't you 'ave a kiss for him, love?" line. It got them conversation, but no kiss. Later, after we'd been seated, the same two girls were seated next to us. I managed to strike up a conversation, and an unexciting evening turned out very enjoyable. As we went back to the hotel, I looked forward to finally getting some sleep.

Little did I know the fire alarm would go off three hours later.

Friday, May 23, 2003

So much to do, so little time....

Ever notice how things don't seem all that daunting until half an hour before you're supposed to leave? I thought I'd done a decent job cleaning up. Turns out I should have taken all week to do it.......

Well, let's hope the flight across the pond is uneventful. Next stop: London.

Thursday, May 22, 2003


If this is the "new" blogger, I'm not impressed.....

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

I live on a chain
and you had the same last name
As a joke I sent a bottle of whiskey
As you choked, you said it made you feel dirty....

Bought two Pete Yorn CDs today. What a day. My first true day of being unemployed, though I have yet to talk to HR. Every time I call, I get voice mail. I am starting to get very annoyed.

The general consensus about the Civ Pro exam was that our professor was able, in only 11 questions, to be more comprehensive than our Contracts professor was in 23 questions. Amazing. I wrote like a banshee, winding up writing 16 double-spaced pages. Compare that with a mere five for Contracts, and you get what I meant. I was better organized for this exam, so hopefully I did better.

The exam mentioned 11 items, but I had written about four motions, and was about to start the fifth when I looked at the clock. It was 7:30, and I hadn't even written about half the questions. I panicked, and looked again at the test - and that's when things looked odd. I could only readily identify nine motions. So where were the other two? When I broke things down again, I realized my motion four was actually three items, so instead of being on number five, I was really on number seven. I was ahead of schedule. I relaxed - a bit.

My classroom normally holds about 110 people, but because of the every-other spacing of the finals, there was only about fifty people in the classroom, and, unlike last semester, the first person didn't leave until 8:50. In fact, a good ninety percent of us were still writing at nine. But the cool thing is that we got the honor of having our prof in the class as our proctor for both exams - fall and spring. Now if I could only swindle my way into his Business Org class.

After the exam we again went out. This time we only managed to close two bars, and never made the third. But I did have the honor of piling seven people into the Bravada, and chauffering them to bar number two (and no, I was not drunk). A good time was had by all, even though M and I didn't get to eat until 2am. I drove M, JM, and C home after bar number two, and when JM found M lived by one of his favorite burrito stands, he began incessantly cajoling me to stop. Personally, I didn't care, but I was wondering about C, and whether he wanted to stop. Eventually, we all went inside and ate, and I drove everyone home. Somehow, we managed to avoid all the heavy rain - every time we needed to go outside, the rain stopped. I finally crawled in at 3am.

Today was spent inside, cleaning up three months of mess. Most of the papers are gone, I've made headway into the shirts, and all that remains is some dusting, tax extensions, and packing. The highlight was when I went to the post office to have my mail forwarded while I'm gone. Most of the post offices I've been in have little stantions, and you know where the line is. Not in this place - they had a take-a-number. Even better, the couple at the front desk had brought six months of mail, loads of questions...and their dog. Who brings their terrier into the post office? Sheesh. Forty minutes later, I finally was able to mail my two envelopes, and turn in my change-of-address. Three more days, 'til we hop the pond.....

Sunday, May 18, 2003

I was just 34 years old
and I was still wandering in haze
I was wondering why everyone I met
seemed like they were lost in a maze

I don’t know why it seemed like I should have
some kind of divine right to the blues
It’s sympathy not tears people need
when they’re the front page sad news…

There is always a wind outside my apartment. All around me could be still, and there would still be a wind. It’s from the tollway. The movement of the passing cars pushes the air up and over the noise barrier fence (which should be fired for failing at its only purpose in life). The moving air then gets forced between the two apartment buildings, creating a wind vortex that is non-stop.

It’s always ten degrees colder, too. It could be 90 degrees on my balcony, but out the front door it’s 80. And windy.

Such were the conditions this morning when I stepped outside for my first outdoor run since March. And that run had been a disaster. Seeking to take advantage of a fifty-degree day in a string of below-thirty weather, I’d decided to run along the sidewalks on Washington Street instead of in Herrick Lake Forest Preserve, my usual outdoor running path. Mistake. Big mistake. I’d assumed that the sidewalks would be clear of snow, but they weren’t. And the warm weather just turned what snow was there to slush. The low sections of the sidewalk were either deep piles of slush, or deep puddles. Before long, my feet were soaked.

And then it happened. Tired of running through slush and puddles, I had seen what I thought was dry ground below me at street level. The only problem was navigating down a steep slope to get there. But since the ground on the slope seemed dry as well, it wouldn’t be a problem. You should take note of the word ‘seemed’ in that sentence – because although it seemed dry, it wasn’t, and I took a nice, public tumble down the slope. Covered in mud, I walked the rest of the way home, and spent a good hour trying to clean the mud out of the Sports Walkman and the stopwatch.

Wake up, stop dreaming
The sun is in the sky again
There’s a hole in the ocean
The water’s pouring through

Wake up, stop dreaming
Wipe the sleep from your eyes
Are you frightened of heights?
Are you falling?

Today, however, was different. Although it was cloudy, it hadn’t rained in a few days, so the ground was dry. The wind was still there, and still cool, but not as frigid as that day in March. I walked to the Herrick Lake entrance, and WXRT did me a favor by playing Pete Townshend’s Slit Skirts, a nice start to an early-morning run. It was followed up by Bruce Springsteen’s Brilliant Disguise, and when XRT went to commercial, I went to tape.

When I got to the entrance of the Herrick Lake Forest Preserve, I clicked the stopwatch and started running. My best time ever was around twenty-four minutes, but since I really had done little running the last five months, I had no illusion that I’d be approaching my personal best. Still, I hoped to clock in under thirty minutes.

I ran the short distance to where the entry path t-intersects the main path, and turned left. To me, this route is harder, since it requires you to climb three hills – one at the beginning, one near the middle, and one smaller one at the end – all of which are fairly steep. Go the other way, and the hills are more gentle and sloping. By going left, you also have to endure the tenth of a mile that is nothing but uncovered open space at the end of your run, instead of the beginning. This makes it harder, because there is no shade, and usually no breeze, depending on the time of day you choose to run. Or, conversely, there could be quite a stiff breeze. Today was a no-breeze day.

It’s also nice to run early; the trail can be heavily used by runners, walkers, bikers and horseback riders. Running early means that the only scenery you’re likely to see is that provided by nature, but it’s an even trade.

Wake up stop dreaming
There’s more than just two steps to heaven
Oh, if you want to go to heaven
You’d better wake up

I clocked in today at twenty-six minutes and twenty-eight seconds. After cooling down, I went to church, then to Bob Evans for breakfast. I sat where all the single people sit – at the counter – and read the Chicago Sun-Times. Rain clouds threatened to the south as I entered church, but by the time I left Bob Evans, they’d all but gone, replaced by a late morning sun. All around me, people were getting into the summer mood, driving with windows open and tops down, even though, at sixty-five degrees, it was still a bit cool. I thought briefly of hopping on the motorcycle for a ride, but decided to wait until I could actually get the license plates renewed, which is likely Tuesday or Wednesday. And that lingering thought of those tax returns on extension, my pig-sty of an apartment, and getting ready to leave for Europe means that this week is going to be one busy week.

I’d better get started.

Pretty little hairdo
Don’t look what it used to
Can’t disguise the living
All the miles you’ve been through

Looking like a train wreck
Wearing too much makeup
The burden that you carry
Is more than one soul could ever bear

So sad
Don’t look so sad Marina
There’s another part to play
Don’t look so sad Marina
Save it for a rainy day