30 November 2006

Alternative Thanksgiving Is Underway! (R)

As I write, we are celebrating our yearly A.T. More to come...

Travels and Travails! (R)

Chapter I: Thanksgiving Bastard!
I got up rather early again. With my litany of woes, I figured I'd need all the time I could get to make myself presentable enough for human contact. My eye was cooperating, it wasn't as red and irritated as the evening before. My medication was working, I wasn't blowing out my body weight in mucus at the moment nor did I need to. I was dry and breathing. I figured out what to wear and got it cleaned and ironed. I had a little coffee, a little something to eat. I did a quick home workout. I had time to pick up my paycheck and make it to the train to Philadelphia. All was good, even with the relentless rain and wind of our season's first nor'easter tearing up the coast and destroying my umbrella, which, as a long term resident of this fair island, I should have known better than to bring.
I got to the terminal in just enough time to sit and relax, read a chapter of my book and have a
Gatorade and Philly soft pretzel. Did you know that the people in this area eat more pretzels in one month than the rest of the country eats in a year? I reflected on that nugget of information as I enjoyed my yellow mustard covered treat. The conductor called for boarding and my journey began. A. C. Express leaving for Philadelphia, track four!
All went well, we passed through each town along our way, Absecon, Egg Harbour City, Hammonton, collecting more and more passengers. Everyone in a holiday mood, talking about their dinners, seeing their families, shopping. It added to my already abundant holiday spirits. As I have stated before, I love Thanksgiving and I couldn't wait to see my small but tight-knit and loving family.
Atco. Atco. The name of that town will reverberate in my mind for a long time to come. That's where my day turned as dark and moody as the weather outside my train car. That's where my hated enemy, my painful reminder, my object of total disgust came on board. Yes, my sister's...ahem...boyfriend. Let me set the scene:
Mortimer is sitting towards the back of the train car, in a two seater. The conductor calls out the name of the next town, Atco, and the train effortlessly glides into the station, coming to a compleat and gentle stop. The train door slides open and in walks Danielle, Mortimer's beloved sister, and Bastard, Danielle's unfortunate companion. While exchanging the usual pleasantries one does with those we haven't seen in a long time, the overpowering smell of cheap alcohol and cheaper cigarette smoke comes from the immediate direction of Bastard. It takes every ounce of acting skill to not wretch and heave, as they sit in the three seater directly ahead of me. Bastard comments that we should find seats that are facing together. I demure, since this is the arrangement I had planned on the entire time, even mentioning that they don't want the seats moved. Then, the conductor approaches Bastard, tsk-tsking him. Bastard is informed that he violated New Jersey State Law by smoking on the train platform, in clear view of the signs that say "No Smoking/Violation Of New Jersey State Law". The thousand dollar fine was not levied, thankfully, since this was a holiday and Bastard claimed ignorance. A claim he can use with total justification, I think to myself. I resist the urge to put back on my headphones and listen to music, or just stick knives in my ears and eyes so I don't have to deal with him. We chat. We joke. We pass the time until finally reaching our destination of 30th Street Station. The beauty of that immense and imposing structure overwhelms him and, blissfully, as I run to the restrooms, he is distracted, awestruck, and I have a moment's respite.
I return, to find them outside, catching a smoke and I wander around the concourse, contemplating a coffee, a blunt instrument, a murderous intent. They find me and we settle on Dunkin' Donuts. When I asked the far-eastern counterclerk if they had arsenic flavouring, he said no. Damn.
My mobile rings and it's my sainted Mother and step-Father, their golden chariot has arrived to whisk me away from this. Oh, wait. They are coming with us. Damn, again. At least my sainted Mother throws herself on the sword and moves from the front seat to the back, with them, so I may escape, momentarily, having to be nice and I immerse myself in conversation with my step-Father, with whom it takes no effort to be nice to.
The long ride to Maryland has begun.
Coming up in Chapter II: Dinner With Regret.

23 November 2006

The Word Is Good!

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My "Vacation" (R)

I counted my chickens before they were hatched.

I had every intention of not being here, in the penthouse, right now. I shouldn't be. This was to be a mini-vacation for me. I was going to see my Mother and step-Father up in Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Wednesday and then we were going to see my Aunt and the rest of my family in Maryland for Thanksgiving and then I planned to take a trip to Philadelphia on Black Friday, just to see the sights in that fair city since I haven't been in quite a while. I haven't been anywhere, actually, in quite a while.

And I still haven't.

The first monkey-wrench thrown into my vacation plans was my own fault. I came up with a spectacular opening number for my Cafe on Friday night which required back-up dancers. Back-up dancers require choreography. Choreography requires rehearsals and that took up my Monday before opening the club and Tuesday evening from eleven at night until three-thirty in the morning. Fine. My show is very important and I was okay with this. I was only losing one night of vacation.

Then my Mother rings me. There's a problem with my sister and her...ahem...boyfriend (due to the sanctity that I impart on this wonderful holiday, I will not besmirch it with the usual profanity that I use when referring to him). This means I can't go up on Wednesday because I have to travel with my lovely sister and her...ahem...boyfriend on Thursday (because of issues I can't and won't list here). Now, I am really not happy because, 1) I can't get a hold of my sister and her...ahem...boyfriend to make arrangements and 2) I woke up with the horrendous head-cold that made the rounds through the club.

I tore through the penthouse with a storm cloud above my head matching the nor'easter that is ravaging up the coast (another kink in my vacation chain). Poor Chunkie had to deal with a very unhappy Mortimer. Chunk, you are my rock. I am sorry, I know I was a royal bitch!

I finally get my beautiful sister and her...ahem...boyfriend on thephone and firm up our Thanksgiving plans, letting my Mother know where to collect us and I decide to get some grub since I was NOT going out in this weather last night (and is still going on this morning). That was another fiasco. Let's just say that we ordered out, got our delivery and it was compleatly wrong and I had to wait over an hour to have them make a replacement for my food (Chunkie's meal was perfect, by the way).

I went to bed, finally. But before I did, as I was brushing my teeth, I noticed I have an eye-infection.


Real nice.

So, I am off to Maryland once we all meet in Philadelphia. I can't wait to see my family for Thanksgiving, my most favourite of holidays. Then it's back to Atlantic City, more rehearsals for my show (which effectively killed my Friday traveling around Philadelphia) and the Cafe on Friday night, I hope to see all of you there.


10 November 2006

Yesterday, Through Fog And Rain (R)

I was up early. Anything before noon is early for me. My flatmate had been up, although for him, it was late. It's all about perspective, I guess. He's transitioning jobs and for the past week or so, he's had the chance to sleep in past five in the morning. He was cooking when I stumbled into the kitchen and before I knew it, I had a compleat breakfast in my lap whilst watching Alec Baldwin on The View. Cheese omelette, hash browns, crispy bacon and toast with butter. Coffee and orange juice as well. I think I may decide to live here, I thought, although I have lived here for nearly eight years. We both discussed election results and watched the news and decided on our day. The weather was not cooperating. Rainy, foggy, dreary but warm. Warmth is unusual for November in this part of the country but, I'll take it.
I decided to get ready to go to the office and pick up my salary and dose of gossip while he had interviews to do to for his new job. I did the usual things one does to get ready, taking my time hoping for the weather to break up a little before I head out. I took more time. Waiting and bouncing around the penthouse, walking back and forth from my walk-in-closet-with-a-bed to the kitchen, opening and closing the refrigerator, contemplating eating yet again, mostly to waste time, not out of hunger. Finally, I realize the folly of eating on top of the hearty repast La Chunk made me just an hour before and I threw on a light jacket, grabbed an umbrella and off I went, raindrops be damned.
Once outside, I am shocked by just how warm it is. Living on the third story, it's hard to gauge the temperature on ground level when I stick my head out on the porch. In this town, there is a temperature difference just from street level to the boardwalk. Where it would be very windy and downright chilly on the street, it would be warm and breezy on the boards. It must have something to do with the ocean. The actual temperature was in the mid 60's (around 18 for my birds in the U. K.) and much warmer than I realized. I was making my way to the
jitney when I decided that I could walk. The rain had let up and the clouds seemed to be breaking up as well. A good sign. I crossed over through a parking lot and saw, in the next block, a group of young men playing football in an abandoned lot. They were all muddy and wet, heaving and cursing with the bravado of young men. For a second, I envied them. The reckless abandon, the sheer enjoyment of getting wet and dirty and making the most of this surprisingly warm day. Their youth. I watched them as I walked up to the boardwalk, listening to "hut, hut, hike!" and them breaking formation, tossing the ball, someone getting tackled and then rolling all over the soggy ground. I heard them laughing and cursing again. Yes, it's their youth I think I envy most of all.
The fog gripped the city, but not the thick and heavy fog of springtime. This was like the mists that enshroud the fabled land of Avalon, hanging low over the island. You can still discern shapes and patterns, see the buildings and people and cars that dart throughout the city but, in the far distance, you can't make out much more. There was a momentary break, the sun burst through and behold, the boardwalk, wet and slick with the recent downpour, was as crystal clear as a polished mirror, the skyline of the casinos perfectly reflected along that famous walkway. For a second, I wondered if I would fall through, as Alice in Wonderland, to another Atlantic City. Then it hit me, there are too many characters in my actual city. Too many Mad Hatters and anyone I meet through this "looking glass" would be a disappointment. And most boring.
The clouds swallowed up the sun and I continued my trek through my Avalon-by-the-Sea. I marveled at the changes the boardwalk has gone through, changes that happen on a weekly basis. Yes, to the casual observer, it still looks like a boardwalk, much like any you see in any coastal community in this country but, I can see the changes. I can tell where the rainforest wood and old wood planks are. I can tell when a store puts up a new sign. I can tell when they change the flags. I can tell when a store changes hands. Simple, subtle things. It's an intimacy you have with a city, the rhythms and beats that you instinctively pick up on, that make a city a home for you. Sometimes, when you travel, the beat is off. You feel out of touch. Then, it's just a city. A place to visit. Here, Atlantic City is in my blood and I feel the pulse quicken and slow with my very own heartbeat. I feel it with Philadelphia and Chicago as well. They are in my blood.
I wandered to my office, passing through the soon-to-be-torn-down
Sands Casino, lamenting the eventual loss of one of the original casinos that built my city. The Brighton, named after the park that it sits next to. Sad.
Once in my office, I find out there are more changes. Our liquor store was being shuttered. Wednesday was the last day.
So many changes. Ahh...youth. To just be concerned with a pick-up game of football. To travel the mists, oblivious to to everything. Only to be faced with the reality of life once the mists clear.
My walk home was through a torrential downpour. The fog was beaten out of the air by the big, warm and heavy raindrops. Avalon was no more, the looking glass was shattered by those drops. All that was left was my Atlantic City, wet and dreary. And warm.
A fitting ending to my journey.

03 November 2006

SHUT THE ____ UP! (R)

Denielle of This Is Me IS A FUCKING GODDESS!
In big gay news...

Say It Isn't So! (R)

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La Chunk and I are mourning the Last One-Legged Stand for Lawn Flamingos. Not to worry, we have begun a campaign to raise funds to care for our last remaining captive pair of lawn flamingos. Currently, they are doing fine, basking in the early morning sun on our porch, keeping a watchful eye, never wavering, always vigilant. We have also begun a contest to name them. Please leave your suggestions in the comment section of this entry. The winner will receive a special gift!

The New Me

From Friday Until Today, Whew! (R, edited)

Friday was the Studio's Halloween party, I was set to host and our theme was "Gothica". Unfortunately, with the rains and winds that came through the area like a runaway railroad, it was very much like a tomb for the entire night. Great for atmosphere, bad for business. It's a shame, Big Jose looked amazing, he had used fake extensions to fashion a seven inch mohawk and he had all this bondage gear on, quite fun. Little Jose didn't dress up but, when he saw that we were all in the spirit, he begged us to whip something up for him. By the time Big Jose was done with him, he looked compleatly different. It's amazing what a little black lipstick, extra extensions and some punk bracelets can do! Actually, they both looked like me circa 1985. What a waste, though, we only had about twenty customers the entire evening and there was no contest.

Saturday was a different story! Luckily I chose not to wear a costume, I had planned on something. I decided to wear the candy corn tie you see in the pictures and it was a good thing I did. My GM threw his back out, really bad, and I told him to lie down, I figured I could handle the place. Famous last words! I did but, it was hellacious. Everything was going fine until, suddenly, all hell broke loose, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, needed me right then and there! I was pulled and stretched in every direction, running up and down and all over the bloody place. I never stopped. Then, out of the blue, I was told that I was hosting the contest. Boom, I am on stage, dealing with these crackheads. We gave away two Bahamas cruises. Nice prize! The costumes sucked, if you ask me and no one should have won. Johanna was my "ta-da" girl but, she was laughing so much at what I was saying, Joey G. was up in the D.J. booth hollering down, "Stop laughing! You are supposed to be helping! You're fired!", which made her laugh even more. I didn't hear any of this, I was too busy rambling on about the idiots on stage with me and dealing with the rest of them in the audience. Once that was done, my GM had returned and my workload decreased considerably. Which means, I got everything done and I could finally relax. I eventually got home late and slept.

Sunday was the beginning of our new "Casino Night" in Club Tru which was a bust! Thankfully. Only because, it's my night to bartend and make a few pennies. I won't be able to manage both sides and bartend at the same time. It's just too much. I am doing everything I can to get this event canceled. But, because it was our first, I ran around again all night working my ass off.

Monday, I get to my office and there's a note questioning who authorized paying me separately for hosting the contest on Saturday. I DID, BITCH! Actually, I informed my GM that I was getting paid to do the extra work. He said fine, I guess it was lost in the translation. We had popular Mexican bands in Tru and a Latino Halloween contest in Studio so, we were busy again and Big Jose called out because his blood pressure was way up again and he had bronchitis. I got a hold of Rita and she filled in for me in Tru and worked with Johanna. They got along FAMOUSLY! I knew they would. Rita had the quote of the night: I love this new Smirnoff Strawberry and I LOVE the
border tax!

It stayed very busy all night and by the time I was done and got home (thank you Little Jose for being my driver this weekend, you are the best), I crashed as soon as my head hit the pillow.
I woke up on Tuesday barely able to swallow. My glands were swollen and I felt like total crap. I literally slept for almost two days. I finally feel great now.

Today, I did my usual wander through this fair city of mine, I saw Becky at Art of Flowers, Margarita at the House of Hair, Chase at Brandeis Jewelers, Stephanie at the Brass Rail and so many more of the wonderful people that know. It was a glorious day. A little chill in the air, the beautiful sunset in the clear skies. Nice.

Tonight, I am going to use Little Jose's gym. I need to work out, it's been a while. I plucked my unfortunate eyebrows and now, I look faboo. Finally. I am loving the pitch black vampiric hair.

01 November 2006

Mid Autumn And The Hatefulness Is In The Air (R)

It's always easy to tell that October is over. Yes, that perennial holiday celebrating spooks and witches is on the very last day of the month but, that's not the marker of which I am talking about. It's the mean-spirited, attack-dog political ads that are all over the airwaves, both radio and television. They have also infiltrated my Internet and phone lines as well. I am sure that no matter what market you watch (Philadelphia, my market, is the fourth largest in the country), you are being inundated with these horrific ads showing the worst side of our political parties and our political candidates. Now, one can make the observation that you NEVER hear from these mooks for eleven months and that can be a good thing. Because when you finally do hear from them, it's near constant and full of bile, it's better to get it all in a one month increment. But, that's not what I mean. If they really wanted my vote, if they really want to be my friend, if they really want me to know what the hell they stand for, why don't I hear from them time to time during the year? Why now do I have to hear how fabulous they will be for me as my sheriff/councilperson/mayor/legislator/freeholder/congressperson/chiefcookandbottlewasher and how bad the other guy is going to be. Where the hell have they been all this time and why now do I have to hear this crap ALL AT ONCE!? Why is my phone ringing off the hook like a...well...hooker's? Why is my inbox full of political action flyers rivaling my actual mailbox, which is stuffed with more wood pulp then the New Jersey pine barrens. I actually saw a commercial for a car the other day. I forgot we lived in a consumer society, when the commercials were for something tangible, something we don't need.

I'll tell you one thing, I don't need this hatefulness. But, it seems we got an awful lot of it to go around.