Monday, July 31, 2006

Slow Slide Back into a Familiar World

I headed to the West Village post office after a Thai lunch special with Ian Edginton.

On the wall was an ad for DC Comics super hero stamps.

"Do you have a sheet of those?" I asked the attendant when I got to the front of the line.

She pulled out a small stack.

"Yes. How many do you want?"

"How many do you have?" I'm such a geek. These were the coolest stamps I'd seen since I bought the "X-Men" stamps in Mongolia.


"I'll take them all."

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Stunned by Stats

JG from Comicraft/Active Images just showed me how to check the stats.

I'm stunned. I'm getting 3,000-4,000 visitors a month. 3.11 GB were transferred during July. This on a site I haven't updated in four years. And people are finding it with the usual kooky search terms. "Injera flatulence." "muslims are pleased when they see dolphins." "how to find a gynecologist in berlin."

I guess I better update my site!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Everyone Loves A Bargain

I stumbled over this gem this morning, while biking in the industrial area behind Liberty State Park. It's near where my storage unit used to be before I bought my garage.

Bring your own bottles, and fill up for 35 cents a gallon at the Snowbird water distribution center. What a deal! Poland Spring just lost me as a customer.

35 cents a gallon, bring your own bottles

A Dubious Compliment

I leaned forward against the post office counter the other day, as I shipped comp copies of "The 99" to an artist in the UK.

"You have a beautiful body," whispered a middle-aged man behind me.

I froze, pretended not to hear, paid, and walked away stiffly. I was aware that I was being watched.

Then I thought, "Who cares? No one has catcalled me in months. Years? Don't get all uptight about it. Laugh and be glad he didn't say Your is butt is big and your roots are showing."

I used to get catcalls a lot more on the Lower East Side. It wasn't all gentrified then, and the most common was the spitting tea-kettle catcall.

"Ssssst, ssssst!"

Whatever that means.

The one that completely confused me though was the "compliment" I got about six or seven years ago, on Orchard Street.

A man was passing me, walking south to north as I walked north to south. He glanced at me and said clearly, as he walked by:

"You still got it, baby."

Friday, July 28, 2006

Toilet Humor

The second comic strip that Kevin Kobasic and I worked on for Comiculture was not lettered or colored before the series quit publishing. It was about the wonders of public toilets in China, which were known for their squalor and, uh, lack of aesthetics.

Now I can't remember what I'd written for captions.

I think I suggested that one always carry hand disinfectant, double-knot shoelaces so that they didn't fall into puddles of pee, gauge each prospective loo on the stink-o-meter, use the buddy system where one stays outside in case they need to rush in and rescue the other, watch out for curiosity seekers as there are frequently no doors, and finally, find a McDonald's instead. Most of these rules were established by Yancey and Turbo, during our Intrepid China trip.

China has recently upgraded their public toilets in advance of the Beijing Olympics, with a little help from the WTO. And no, it doesn't stand for World Trade Organization.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Embarrassing to Admit

I can't figure out how to work the backyard weed-whacker. I turn it on and run it over the grass and all it does is flatten it.

Any experts?

Hey Kids, Let's Read Comics!

Back when Steve was publishing Comiculture, he invited me to contribute.

The first story I gave him was just a newspaper-sized strip. (Click to get the full-sized version.) Yes, this really happened, except I made up the scurvy line because I couldn't remember what ridiculous, obscure vaccine the official had asked about.

Kevin Kobasic drew this strip, as he has drawn many things I've written. He's quite talented, but for some reason few people seemed to notice. I wonder if he likes to draw pinups of Kuwaiti superheroes.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What's A Best Man To Do?

"Do I have chocolate on my face?"

Jessica scrutinized me quickly.

"No. But what's that gray guck on your forearm?"

"Oh, that." I waved dismissively. "Silicone-based adhesive. Installed window bars yesterday. Doesn't come off except by picking at it." I absently tugged at some of the adhesive where it had bonded to my arm hair.

"And that?" She had an amused edge to her voice as she pointed to the greasy stain on my trousers.

"I got it from my bicycle last week. Not sure. Dust? Grease?" I changed the subject. Surely walking around bedecked in chocolate, adhesive, and week-old greasy dust was perfectly normal.

This conversation came hot on the heels of me having to admit to general cluelessness regarding nylons, pantyhose, and tights. I'm Yancey's Best Man in his wedding next month, and I'd had to email the bride's mother to ask if I was supposed to wear nylons under the fancy silk dress she'd sent.

In many ways, I'm a lousy excuse for a female of the species. "Shopping" is something best done at Home Depot or a camping store. Shoes are things that you put on your feet, purely for protection and comfort. Stores that sell only accessories have no reason to exist. And I am hopelessly unskilled at romance, better suited to enhancing the vanishing abilities of men than to enticing them into… whatever I am supposed to entice them into, something others seem to know by instinct while I admit to being hopelessly baffled.

So it comes as no surprise that I am—once again—selected to be Best Man. I'm stressed about it—last time I did this, I completely chickened out on the speech, and the groom's brother had to step in. I'm every bit as clueless about the business of "Best Man-ing" as I am about translating Hungarian or online dating. Where do I start? I can't even throw a Bachelor Party as the uncooperative bachelor in question has chosen to remain on the west coast until the day of the rehearsal dinner. What do I say in the speech? And even worse, what kind of gift am I supposed to buy? As Best Man, am I obligated to fork over something stupendous, or something in keeping with my (invisible) budget? Do you think Yancey wants a Dik-Dik On A Stik?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

JC Warren Street: Now and Then

Same corner, Warren Street, JC, old and new. Personally, I like the old.

Harbor Casino New condos on Warren Street, 2006

Harbor Casino a.k.a. “Boat Bar” - 2002 © Denis Luzuriaga

Squirrel of the Month Club

My mother frequently posts squirrel photos on her blog.

Well, now I am joining her. This squirrel seems to be fond of dried mulberries. I spotted him in the mulberry-catching net over my backyard.

The mulberries have stopped falling now, and I will have no more mulberry pancakes this year. It's time to take the net down, but I've been busy with other projects: Installing window bars on the basement windows, riding my bike around the route of the Morris Canal, and going to see summer blockbuster movie matinees at the mall. At the mall, I get to watch an unlikely Lois Lane have selective memory recovery, or Johnny Depp play Keith Richards playing a pirate. Plus it's nice and cool at the movie matinees, much nicer than sweating over the laptop in my apartment, and certainly nicer than chasing squirrels out of the mulberry net.

Chip's Comic

My old pal Chip Mosher made a comic called "Left on Mission and Revenge."

I haven't seen the mini-comic version yet, but I read the script back when I was in Kuwait. I liked it a lot; not just because I'm impressed whenever anyone finishes anything, but because it was good. And it was his first time writing anything. I don't know yet how Chip did at San Diego Comic-Con. I hope he found a publisher.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Colombian Petting Zoo

Leticia, Colombia, October, 1993.

I don't know where I picked up a flyer about traveling to the Amazon, but in short order I'd booked myself and a pal onto an Amazon steamer for a week-long expedition from Iquitos, Peru, to Leticia, Colombia and back. It was my first time going anywhere that didn't involve Europe (including then-Leningrad) or North America. If only the trip had sucked, maybe I'd have a job and a normal life now.

But the trip didn't suck. It was great. There was bingo on the plane. And I was introduced to a whole new world of traveling for adrenalin and adventure.

Looking back at it now, the trip was pretty tame. Once the ship got stuck on a sand bar; we had almost no food and had to eat fried bread with sides of toast. And at the zoo in Leticia, the keeper personally took us into the cages to pet the animals. Which would have been less weird if the animals were goats and dogs, but no, they were monkeys, anteaters, and giant snakes.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Dormammickey and the Mindless One

My friend Yancey made me this card for my birthday a few years ago. At the time, I was coloring Donald Duck as well as a huge Dr. Strange Masterworks reprint. My entire life was about Donald and the good Doctor.

Not so sure about Dr. Strange or DD, but I love the card. (It will be meaningless if you don't know anything about comics.)

The Marriage of Caleb and Raindrop

A friend in Kuwait got married. His account of the wedding is really sweet. I especially like how he talks about being in love, but how he knows that this will not stop plates from being thrown later. And how he's okay with that.

Some people think that when the honeymoon is over and there are problems, it's time to shut down and run, not time to talk about it. "Caleb" may be young, but he's got cojones (or the Kerala equivalent) and he's not a coward. Congratulations to Caleb and Raindrop.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

JC: Old and New--Er, Mostly Old

The problem with trying to take pictures of old vs. new in downtown JC is that the old is so much more visually interesting. I went out at 5:30 a.m. to get photos, but when I got home, I realized I hadn't taken shots of anything new at all. So I threw in a Light Rail photo from an afternoon last week.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dik-Dik On A Stick

Scarf presented me with the fantasy of running a dik-dik ranch in Kenya. I would love to have a dik-dik ranch in Kenya, and I could also keep my devoted trained hippo there.

But what, I have wondered, does one do with a dik-dik ranch? Suggestions have ranged from producing dik-dik dog food to marketing dik-diks as nouveau house pets.

But the most visual presentation came from Steve "The Bucce" Buccellato. He envisions me running a chain of Dik-Dik On A Stik (no 'c,' natch) carry-outs. And he sent me this tantalizing image to sway me to his viewpoint... I think I'm convinced, as long as my arms don't turn all strange and puffy like they are in this photo.

Note: Other items on sticks previously featured on this blog include rat-on-a-stick and meat-on-a-stick. Cuz everything tastes better on a stick. Stik.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sign of the Times

John McCrea drank all my orange juice.

I didn't have that much to start with, just a half-gallon or so. And it had ice crystals in it, a result of an ongoing argument I've been having with the temperature gauge on my fridge.

I don't blame John for drinking all my orange juice. John lives in the UK, where "hot" means something different. It's insanely hot here at the moment. My little window a/c units can't really hack this weather. I don't usually use them, but having a houseguest means not forcing him to stew and swelter along with me. And surely I should buy him more juice.

I trotted over to the deli this morning, the one around the corner on Monmouth Street.

I've often jokingly referred to it as The Deli That Time Forgot. Just about everything seems to cost a dollar, or maybe a dollar-and-a-half. The shelves are lined with an assortment of items, which varies according to what someone ordered, or maybe by what the delivery truck dropped off. Sometimes there are shelves of dusty catfood boxes, cartons of sugar, fake maple syrup, Drake's Cakes, and breakfast cereals. Newspapers, cold drinks, deli meats, and sandwiches are always available. The entire block is pumped up on the deli's coffee, which tastes extraordinarily good for automatic drip mass-produced coffee.

All the old men on my block meet in front of the deli every morning, to sip coffee and swap tales of fishing, local politics, and gossip. I'm sure the mysterious typewriter that appeared on the sidewalk a few weeks ago was discussed at length, along with my 1990 Ford Taurus the day it broke down in the middle of the street (the eSwede, an educated man with a desk job and a few Master's degrees, suddenly got a lesson in how life is down here in scrappy Marie-ville, when he had to get out and push).

Larry, who lives two doors down from me, has even been known to carry his folding lawn-chair with him down to the deli. The other men lean against the fence.

Today, the shelves were bare in The Deli That Time Forgot.

"What can I help you with, hon?" The older woman behind the counter was keen to help, as she alway is.

"Do you have any orange juice?"

"No, only those small grapefruit juices in the case."

"Why aren't there any groceries? Is it summer vacation or something?"

"No, we're closing. We're moving to Newark Avenue."

I looked at her in horror. The deli was the center of the neighborhood, the center of life, gossip, and cheap supplies.

"The lease is up. The owner won't renew it. Wants to get a lot more money."

I bought two grapefruit juices and trudged home. Same story, told in gentrifying areas throughout the country. The things that make an area appealing, the neighborhood shops, the eclectic mix of diverse people, and the friendly concern, these things get forced out by higher costs, and the neighborhood loses the character that made it so appealling in the first place.

RIP, Deli That Time Forgot. Condo Contagion, Creeping Gentry, and Progress marches on. Another brick falls out of the base of a classic old-time neighborhood.

Update: The deli is now closed, and the neighborhood old men are still hanging out in front of it every day.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Ramblings from Greece

My pal in Greece has given me two enduring fantasies.

In one, I get over my current "sh*t, I'm 40 and forgot to do all that normal stuff" phase and age into being a graceful-but-wacky older single woman, living in Kenya. I attend Parliament sessions for some reason. I don't think it's clear why—perhaps I'm a member, perhaps just lobbying for changes advantageous to Fantasy #2. I have embraced and conquered the Curse of the Hippo, and have a pet hippo that I keep on a leash. We've been together since I found the hippo as an orphaned baby. It is trained well, so that when people annoy me, I say "THROAT." My hippo makes short work of the irritant.

In Fantasy #2, I have a dik-dik ranch in Kenya, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.

No, not in the Ngong Hills. My pal did not get that specific. In fact, he did not even mention the purpose of a dik-dik ranch. What can you do with a dik-dik ranch? Perhaps dik-dik is a kind of gourmet venison, and I could supply it to Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi. Maybe dik-diks are best for dog food. Or it could be a vegetarian ranch and petting zoo, and small children would come from all over the world to pet a dik-dik and conquer their fears of being stalked by one. Maybe after reading my book, many will develop irrational fears of dik-diks, and it will be my responsibility to show the world that these small beasts are actually not fearsome. (I better go buy the URL "" now!)

What could I do with a dik-dik ranch?

Friday, July 14, 2006

A Stall

Still coloring, but here are a few starter JC photos. More to follow soon.

Really old houses

Newer old houses

Life in the Shadow of the Turnpike

St. Francis Hospital, soon-to-be-condos

PEZ collection at Exchange Place brokerage firm

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

MJ in JC: Origins

In 1987, Woody—a guy I knew in college—went to Prague.

Which led me to where I am now, in a meandering, roundabout sort of way.

We'd attended Antioch College in Ohio, home to radicals, leftists, punk rockers, hippies, and all kinds of rabble-rousers throughout its 150-year history. That's what had initially appealed to me about Antioch, though its generous financial aid offer and work-experience program tipped the scales.

At some point, Woody became enchanted with Czech literary dissidents. He borrowed some film cameras and took off for Prague. He interviewed a lot of people and came back with tales of a band called Plastic People of the Universe and an activist named Vaclav Havel. (I think he later gave too many drinks to too many Czechs when he worked at the Knitting Factory, but that's just hearsay and a story for another time.)

In early 1988, I was driving my beat-up mustard-colored 1972 Volvo station wagon down West 4th Street. The details are a bit fuzzy. Why was I driving in Manhattan? Where was I living at the time? Was I up in Riverdale at my then-boyfriend's sister's apartment? I was in New York on an Antioch job, working for the Epic division of Marvel Comics.

Who was riding with me? I don't remember. But they knew Woody too. Because as we drove past the Tower Records Sales Annex, I said, "Hey, there's Woody." And they agreed. We parked and went in. Back then, it was possible to easily find a parking space in Manhattan.

Woody was working as a cashier at Tower Records. I hadn't known he was in New York, but when you're 20 and a roaming Antioch student, coincidences seem like the most normal thing in the world.

"Are you looking for a place to live? I saw a good place last night. It's in Jersey City." Woody had met someone in Prague, who had given him the phone number of a Czech friend in Jersey City. He'd met her and it turned out she had a three-bedroom place to rent in Jersey City. Only $750 a month. $250 each if we found another person.

"Jersey City? Ew. Isn't that—like—another state?"

Nevertheless, I needed a place to live so I agreed to drive over and have a look. I called the Czech friend—a painter who in another serendipitous moment would years later become Michael Kraiger's landlady—and got directions. Go through Holland Tunnel. Go left. Drive about 8 blocks. Stop. You're there.

I was sold on the incredible convenience and the amazing price. And the PATH train went right to it and was only a dollar a ride.

Woody eventually moved on, and revolving roommates finally turned into a permanent situation. I lived with the Other Marie and Otis Ball (and a few rats). We had a blast. We were home away from home for dozens of indie bands who came through the area, though this got really out of control after we moved a mile away to Mercer Street. Our landlady lost our first apartment in the Great JC Property Tax Reassessment of 1988, the end of the last JC real estate boom (when realtors tell you that property never goes down, refer them to any owner who lived in JC in the late '80s). We ended up with a much better place, no rats, and $950 a month rent.

After a few years, the Other Marie and I each bought two-bedroom condos on Avenue B in Manhattan. The condos were a mere $55,000 each, though that seemed like a lot at the time.

Long story short: When I sold my Avenue B place and went around the world, I meant to go back to Manhattan. But I loved downtown Jersey City, and I had a lot of friends there. Maybe, I thought, I'd buy a place, renovate it, sell it, and then keep the proceeds since I was moving to Australia anyway.

Australia fell through (first in a series of Marie-moves-to-other-country-for-man stories) and I ended up living in the condo I'd intended to renovate.

I love it, though I'm frequently traveling. I'm bored and hot here, because I work all day and refuse to turn on the air-conditioning. But the neighborhood is great, the old ladies on the block are charming, the Italian delis are cheap, and if I ever work up the energy to get off my butt, I can zip over to Manhattan or in the other direction, to the Delaware Water Gap. All because Woody wanted to go to Prague.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Ego Boost

This popped up unexpectedly in my in-box yesterday, from a Namibian I hadn't heard from since October. Yes, I can appreciate an email like this.

Just got back from 5 months in the Caprivi Strip building a lodge, was damn hard work but an experience. You can use whatever you want about me in your book. I'm sure I will be one of the many that fancied you in a big way.

Should I tell him he was one of only two "fanciers" between Cape Town and Cairo over four months in 2001? Nah...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Strange Investment

This is my single car garage. It's seven blocks from my home.

I own the garage, having bought it while in Barcelona in 2004. (Actually, my stateside real estate attorney bought it while I signed some papers at the embassy, and got a home equity loan. HM observed the proceedings with skepticism.) In high-density urban areas, you can do things like own a garage.

It wasn't cheap, and I must also pay property taxes and condo maintenance on the garage.

My original plan was to rent it to someone as a parking spot. I'd do quite well on that, and home equity payments, taxes, and maintenance would still cost less than the income.

But it didn't work out that way. Turbo helped me install a storage rack, and instead of making money on it, I use the garage to store my stuff and my thousand dollar car, Henry the 1990 Ford Taurus. It's empty right now, though I'm about to drive Henry over and leave him there for the week. All of my possessions are in my apartment, because I am currently using them.

But when I go away for months at a time, I rent out my condo. Removing my personal stuff from it gives me the homefront security I crave when roaming the world. I don't have to worry about careless tenants breaking my grandmother's Depression Ware, or my fax machine, or pilfering my CD collection. The garage is the best investment I ever made, because it gives me the freedom to roam without worry. Even though it's a money-loser.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

JC: Then

I came across a JC photo website yesterday.

It's got photos of downtown Jersey City when it was full of desolation and poverty, and electrifying life and art and—between 1988 and 1991—me and my pals, and a faux indie-rock hotel on Mercer Street.

I especially liked the site's brief mention of the artist's colony that was alongside the Morris Canal (currently luxury condos), and the photo of the Harbor Casino, which faced down gentrification until fairly recently.

Harbor Casino a.k.a. “Boat Bar” - 2002 © Denis Luzuriaga

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Berry Tasty

Forgive my wince-inducing use of "Berry" in my titles. I briefly edited "Strawberry Shortcake" last year when I temped at Scholastic. Old habits die hard.

I had mulberry pancakes for breakfast this morning. The results were mixed, but good enough that I am going to force my next houseguest to eat some. (That'll be comic book artist John McCrea, en route from the UK to Garth's in NYC and then to San Diego Comic Con. Though as he's a vegetarian, I won't force the bacon side dish on him.)

I didn't catch on immediately that I needed to not just pluck off the stems, but scrape the berry part off the core in the middle. Presumably there's an easier way to do this. What's the secret? Do I boil them? (Hmm... added bonus, no danger of fruit flies.)

Since I was only cooking for myself, I didn't bother making the pancakes from scratch. Just pulled out the old "Aunt Jemima" mix, and added some buttermilk for taste.

The berries themselves had a nice zing to them, and I didn't even taste any JC toxic waste that no doubt feeds the mulberry tree's roots. (Do vegetarians eat chromium?)

But I don't like seedy berries, and there are seeds in mulberries. Not sure I'd go out of my way for mulberry pancakes. (Not that going into the backyard is out of the way.) And I'm certainly not willing to eat all the mulberries that fall down into my backyard--that would be a lot of pancakes. So yeah, the results were mixed.

Still, I'm not hallucinating or sick yet (unless you count the queasy feeling one gets after Too Much Coffee © following a night of restless non-sleep), so it worked out. The only down side is that there was no one to share my small triumph over the tree with, as the other condos in my building have all turned over recently, and the neighbors that I would have shared this victory with--Helen, Mike, Wooly, and Shannon--have all moved on. And the new neighbors would surely think me mad to be crowing about mulberry pancakes.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Berry Confused

There are about 7 million mulberries in my backyard right now. I used to think I'd make mulberry pies but I'm too lazy and the kitchen is too hot anyway.

(Note to Anonymous poster in VIC who felt compelled to criticize my also-lazy sentence structure/spelling in the preceding paragraph and whose obnoxious comment I deleted: You spelled "sentence" wrong. Thanks for your incredibly useful input. Now go away.)

Then I read about mulberry pancakes. That I can handle! I went outside to collect mulberries and instead made the acquaintance of thousands of fruit flies.

I could get fresh mulberries from the yard tomorrow morning (having cleaned up today's), but then I encountered anecdotes of people having hallucinations from eating mulberries. And a lot of people saying that was nonsense.

Has anyone ever eaten mulberries?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Author Photos

The dreaded moment has arrived. I delayed for months, but I finally must choose an author photo to send to my publicist.

The editor allowed me to not have my photo in the book itself, but the publicist needs something to work with. I tried the old "How about a Marie cartoon" trick but no-go.

For photos, I got nothing. Well, not nothing. Some photos. Just not really ideal ones. I have some good Africa ones, but they have face in shadow, blur, things like that. I'll put those on the snapshot page. Maybe they can use some of those somewhere. Anyway, the publicist can have a look. If she likes some, I'll send her a cleaned-up high-res file.

Please vote now--I have to send the author photo in on Thursday (today). Do you think I can get away with the one of me with my head turned (no. 2 by eSwede, FYI-the object of my fascination is swimming ducks--go figure), or the one where I'm in my pajamas (no.3 by self-timer)? My mother took the other two.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Girl Talk

A possible life lesson overheard today at the women's gym, the speaker being a 50-some-year-old teacher:

"When I get a new man, I get all new underwear. When I got divorced, I asked my new boyfriend if he wanted the bad karma of the divorce underwear. He went out and bought me all new underwear the next day."

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Name Change

Regular readers probably noticed that my blog changed its name again, as soon as I got back to Jersey City.

Problem is that the previous title, "No Hurry In Africa," actually means something. That's a phrase used to explain many things in Africa. It's kind of like "Inshallah" in Kuwait, though the actual meaning is totally different. It's a catch-all excuse and expression of hopefulness along with an expression of how little control we actually have over events.

"No Hurry In Jersey City" has no meaning. But I'm kind of attached to it. And I don't see Africa in my immediate future. In fact, I don't see anything in my immediate future clearly. I'm a blank 40-year-old slate, with my immediate priorities involving getting comic books out the door and writing some articles. For someone who has had plans involving crisis deadlines for the last 20 years, it's a bit disconcerting. I am getting used to it, just treading water waiting for the book to come out, so that I can be available for publicity.

No hurry though. Plans will evolve with or without me forcing them, Inshallah. I kind of like the name. No Hurry in JC. Maybe I'll keep it.

Monday, July 03, 2006

That Type of Block

I missed the block party. It was Saturday, when I was stuck in traffic and roasting in the sun.

Once a year my block gets closed off. Everyone makes a dish, people decorate their stoops in July 4th colors, and the lawn chairs come out. It's mostly the old-timers. Terry brings her barbecue, George and his family set up a beach tent, and Camille makes crab cakes. There's usually a DJ and sometimes a karaoke setup, which is funny for the first ten hours, but extremely pesky by about 9 p.m., when copious amounts of beer have been consumed. Old ladies full of personality and spunk (and the most interesting accents) do the Macarena in the middle of the street.

Henry the Ford brought me home via the NJ Turnpike on Sunday night. It stormed for a while--I worried about Henry's cracked steering boot--and then a rainbow stretched from the Verrazzano Bridge to the Pulaski Skyway. Rainbows seem to promise better times ahead, which is a nice fleeting thought until it disappears along with those rosy dreams.

The only evidence of the party was the decorations. The beer bottles and trash are always swept up early the next morning, by the same industrious ladies who did the Macarena into the night. Sweeping, sweeping, always sweeping, except in winter.

And by the fire hydrant in front of my house was an electric typewriter.

"What was the point of that?" I wondered. "That couldn't be from the block party."

It wasn't. In the middle of the night, the typewriter woke me up when it crashed into the middle of the street. I ignored it for a while. I'm good at ignoring city noises from my days on Avenue B, where I partially slept through both a mugging and a mortal drug overdose. I finally got up to check on the source of the crash. The typewriter sat alone in the center of the road, its cord stretching towards Franny's house. Cars ran over it throughout the night.

In the morning, Casey and Fran conferred over the origin of the mysterious typewriter.

"I found it in the street and put it in the trash. Yesterday it was by the fire hydrant, but someone wrapped the cord around the hydrant. Strange, right? And there was a possum right here. I threw water on it, thought it was a cat."

Perhaps there is some relationship between the possum and the typewriter. But more than likely the mystery of the appearing typewriter will rank up there with the dead squirrel found hanging from the utility wires a few weeks ago. "When did that happen and how?"

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

A piece of advice from a Holiday Inn in Maryland, where I am staying to attend Yancey and Andrea's engagement party and Andrea's bridal luncheon:

Always remember to apply sunscreen to your driver's-side arm.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Home in Uganda

This time last year, I'd just moved into a suburb of Kampala into a serviced apartment complex called Aspen Place on Ggaba Road (or Gaba Road, depending on the sign you're reading). I went through a realtor named Lynn who had been to a real estate course in the US and she knew exactly what Americans expect from a rental agent. I was there in Aspen about half the time over the next three months.

I don't remember her taking photos when we were there looking at the flats, but I just found one on her site that has got to be from our first visit to Aspen Place. I didn't like the apartments at first--they showed me two-bedrooms and it seemed far from town. But when I worked out that the minibus stopped in front and went straight to the wi-fi coffee and sandwich shop (not to mention a great steak place), and that they also had a smaller flat with fewer amenities for a better price, I changed my mind.

I liked it, though after a while it became apparent that staying in Murchison Falls full-time would have been just fine too.