Two days, seven shirts, a pair of corduroys, some khaki shorts, sunglasses and earrings, one hundred thirty dollars and a million calories later, I have returned home. My mom took me to Chicago for an emergency post-slave labor of a summer vacation, just the two of us, troublesome brother and worrywart father left at home to try and make peace without the pillars of sanity holding up their problems. Although there were several phone calls lasting for hours at a time, mom and I did our best to get away from the men in the family and have a good time. It worked pretty well.

I got home from Ann Arbor Tuesday afternoon after surviving the worst drive of my life, experiencing the most horrendously unbelievable gas mileage in my dad’s pimped out limited edition JGC, ranging between 11 and 15 miles per gallon. Granted, I was speeding along at a rate unsuited to American highways, but given the fact that every other oversized SUV was going at least as fast, I was forced by the ego that surfaced within my psyche while behind the wheel of a huge vehicle to keep up with and surpass all fellow speeders on the road. Not to mention the fact that I have one hell of a lead foot to begin with.

However, I was forced to come to a complete halt for forty five minutes going west on Business 23 just barely outside of Ann Arbor, around one o’clock in the afternoon, due to a semi that had managed to flip over in the middle of the road, plow into the guardrail (thank god there was a guardrail in the median through that section) and nearly break through it, spilling the contents of the trailer across all lanes on his way. That was something to see.

Left for Chicago on Wednesday, the drive went amazingly fast as my mom and I had a lot to catch up on. After working second shift for so long, I would be asleep when my parents left for work, gone when they got home, and they would be asleep when I returned for the night. After six weeks of that, I felt like I lived in a house occupied only by Adam (my little brother) and his friends.

We went straight to the Art Institute of Chicago upon arrival in the city. Found parking on Michigan Avenue in a massive underground structure, and a man was nice enough to give us a ride through the never-ending rows of cars in a little golf cart to the right exit. After emerging from the darkness and cramped storage area, we found a Bennigan’s and had some lunch before hitting the museum. Mom had some asiago cheese pasta, I had two grilled chicken breasts with rice and cooked broccoli.

The museum was lovely; I saw many old favorites while exploring exhibits I had never had time to see before. My mom was only interested in the European art, making me suspicious as to her prejudice in certain areas, which has been a recurring theme for as long as I can remember. While my brother is openly racist against blacks and Mexicans, he will only date asian girls lately. My parents are still in a gray area in my mind; I can’t really prove they are racist, but there are so many hints and allusions that I keep wondering.

There was an exhibit that was not cool, eventhough I tried my hardest to find the “art” in it. The title was Nudes by Penn, displaying a few photographs taken by a man named Irving Penn, who had been famous for the pictures he took of beautiful models in the latest fashions of the day, but later decided his calling was to photograph extremely voluptuous women bordering on disgustingly obese wearing nothing but their skin and displaying their folds of fat in the most provocative fashions. These were the women on exhibit, and I did not care much for looking at them. However, there was so much other cool stuff there that I soon forgot the unpleasantness.

Mom and I checked into our hotel after seeing all there was to see at the Art Institute. We were on the ninth floor of the Embassy Suites Hotel on State Street. It was very nice. I immediately unpacked and arranged my belongings in one of the dressers, then had the privilege of listening to my mother have a two hour long conversation with my father concerning – what else – my brother. His probation officer had stopped by shortly after mom and I left, asking for Adam to pee in a cup for a drug test. Adam insisted he couldn’t go to the bathroom. As soon as the P.O. left, Adam took off. My dad found a trail of pills on the stairs going into the basement. Things looked bad. So I dumped out a huge box of Sweet Tarts on the night stand and separated them into rows of colors in the correct order, red to purple, ten to a row, and then ate them slowly, one at a time, until my mom got off the phone. I had eaten all but three rows by the time she hung up. Thirty left out of eleven servings of sixteen pieces each. So I had eaten roughly one hundred forty six Sweet Tarts. I was bored and on a sugar buzz. We went shopping.

We walked down Michigan Avenue and went to the stores that looked interesting. Stopped by Ralph Lauren just to look around, the haughty sales lady annoyed the shit out of me with her bony frame and black suit and pinched mouth and constant stares, so we left. My mom wanted to go to Tiffany’s to look at wedding rings, as my dad promised to buy her a new one after twenty two years of marriage on only a half of a carat diamond. I told her to buy a new car instead. We had to stop by the American Girl store, as I was the most avid collector and fan of this company when I was a little girl. The store didn’t exist when I was young, which makes me feel like I missed out on a lot. I had Samantha, one of the original three dolls when the company was new. I faithfully purchased hundreds of accessories, read all of the books, and took the utmost care of my doll for years without once having access to a store like the one in Chicago (we ordered everything out of a magazine). My friends and I would have birthday parties with out dolls in tow, pretending we lived back in the time periods they represented. The store is absolutely amazing – three floors of outfits, books, doll hair salons, demonstrations, everything to make a little girl’s dream world come true. It was crawling with tiny second graders, screaming excited girls pointing and dragging bemused parents along by the hand to see all the stuff on display. There are now six dolls out instead of three; three strangers in the lineup of old friends. I can’t help but feel hostile.

At Crate and Barrel, I saw the coolest couch on the top floor but could not believe the prices attached to everything. A simple white washed wooden bar stool with chips and scrapes in the color (I think they were supposed to be there) that rocked a little due to uneven legs was priced at $249.99. Whatever.

After a day of walking and shopping, we came away with one pair of brown corduroy pants from Express, size 3/4 long, low waist, flares, $50. On the way back to the hotel, where we planned to dine at the attached Greek restaurant, we passed a place called California Pizza Kitchen where the customers sitting near the windows were eating fabulous looking pizzas with beautiful toppings. We had to go in. Mom insisted that we get a plate of the Singapore shrimp rolls that consisted of shrimp, noodles, broccoli and clear rice paper with ginger dipping sauce. They were the most delicious things in the world. She then ordered a Rosemary Chicken Potato pizza, which reminded me vaguely of burnt marshmallows in a not-unpleasant way, and split pea barley soup. And I had a boring chicken Caesar salad sandwich with a bowl of potato leek soup.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped and looked at the menu for the Rain Forest Café in preparation for tomorrow’s lunch. We hurried on our way and made it back to the room in time to watch American Idol and be shocked as hell when R.J. was voted off the show. That made me extremely angry, as Nikki is a horrible singer and deserved to be sent home weeks ago. Not that R.J. deserved to win anyway, but still.

I studied some Japanese and then watched The Fast and the Furious before finally falling asleep to the sound of my mom’s barely audible snoring.

Woke up at 8, took a shower, went to wait in line for a delicious continental breakfast downstairs in the lobby. I had the cook whip up some Egg Beaters while my mom went for a western omelet with corned beef hash. Picked up a bright red apple, fruit salad, and a chocolate chip bagel too.

We somehow managed to find parking somewhere on Lake Shore amidst the construction, and made it into Shedd Aquarium without waiting in a single line. Fish are cool as long as I do not have to touch or smell them, so I had a good time. There were a million different kinds of Cichlids from all over the world, but my favorite were the different varieties of Tangs, the most colorful and showy of all fish. The Moray Eel was freaky looking with his old-man scrunched face and lidless staring eyes, and there were catfish the size of my overweight American Bulldog, if not bigger. Once again, the children everywhere made things most inconvenient, as I constantly had to be on the lookout for darting short things across my path, oblivious to the people they frightened half to death with their screaming and leaping about begging to be trampled. Some were well behaved, so I can’t complain too much. Kids are kids.

On the way out, we passed a line that stretched through the maze of velvet ropes crowding the entry hall, down the hundred steps under a white canopy, and across the lawn and back around to the parking lot. It was incredible.

Mom and I left Chicago behind and took the skyway to Michigan City and the Lighthouse Place outlet mall. There were so many fabulous stores, we spent four hours going between quite a few of them. I tried my hardest to find something that fit at J. Crew, but alas, everything made my arms look freakishly long due to the sleeves being too short on every shirt I put on. The sweaters were too short, the dresses were too low cut, and the pants ended above my ankles. Sometimes I hate being stuck in this abnormal body. Thank god for their catalog, where things come in size Tall and size Four without having to sacrifice length for narrowness or narrowness for length.

Rue 21, the store where I like everything with few exceptions, had an outlet there. I spent thirty dollars and came away with four shirts and a pair of shorts.

  1. shirt one -- red and white striped, long sleeves, white collar, V-neck with holes along it like a shoe without laces.
  2. shirt 2 -- light pink tank top with white trim and stripes down the sides, athletic style with wide straps.
  3. shirt 3 -- gray short sleeves with five or six tiny metal snaps at the top, just like baby clothes.
  4. shirt 4 -- deep royal purple with brown leather laces across the front, short sleeved.
I tried on a million other things, but unfortunately faced the problem of my overly tall body not fitting into clothes made for average-to-small sized females.

Also bought a pair of purple sunglasses from Fossil and a round picture frame-looking device with metal mesh instead of a picture that holds earrings from Claire’s. I then met my mom at Liz Claiborne, where she spent close to two hundred dollars in less than five minutes. We were then on our way to Subway for lunch, where I had a turkey salad with fat free ranch dressing. Mom had her usual sweet onion chicken teriyaki meal with cheetos and a pepsi. After eating, we wandered through a few more stores. I had to go to Pfaltzgraff in oder to compare this store to the one where I worked for so many years at the Holland outlet mall, and was somewhat pleased to find that my store was better organized and had cooler employees who actually pay attention to customers. We stopped by the Corningware outlet, Pepperidge Farms, DKNY, Old Navy (where I bought three long sleeved shirts, all the same style because they were long enough, black and cream and light pink), Dress Barn, a cool candy store, a shoe store, Crate and Barrel, and that is all I can remember at this time. We were back on the road around ten til seven Michigan time, and I slept the rest of the way home.

I had two bowls of Sweet Puffs when I got home, which is a lot like Smacks for those of you who know your cereal, only it comes in a bag and tastes better. I nearly finished off a bag of Sunchips, the only junk food I eat besides such things as Starburst, Skittles, SweetTarts, chocolate covered raisins and other lower fat foods and candy. I’m not sure why I ate so much. Maybe because I had already eaten so much the past few days that a little more didn’t seem too harmful. All or nothing, baby, that is how I think.

I spent all day Friday cleaning my room and packing up some more stuff for school. Went to bed around four in the morning, cleaned some more today. Went to Grandville with the parents with several goals in mind. Despite my mom’s protest and with my dad’s blessing, I undertook the impossible task of finding a parking spot in the first row on a Saturday afternoon at the most popular mall in west Michigan. And I found one in the first spot closest to the door, thanks to my incredible luck. I bought a green vacuum! The salesman was the coolest guy ever, he demonstrated everything and made obscure jokes that made me laugh and my mom look confused. I have never been vacuum shopping before, but if I had known the process was so enjoyable I might have to go again. Also got a belt and a new copy of the book Shogun. Had to go to the Sunglasses Hut to have them fix my squashed Oakleys, as a friend had sat on them and made them un-wearable. The girl who did the repairs was also really sweet, good service during my shopping experience.

I am still in need of a locking jewelry box so I can bring my valuables to school with me instead of suffering like last year with no accessories due to thieving roommates. Well, I must say thieving roommate, as one was totally honest and would not even take a pencil from my desk without asking, while the other invaded my purse almost daily until I started writing notes and sticking them on each dollar bill saying "Touch this and die' and "I know I have thirty six dollars and fifty two cents in here, take it and I’ll cut off your hands." Hopefully this year will be an easier situation.

Gotta continue packing, leaving at nine o’clock sharp tomorrow morning and I still have a lot to do.

WHY

I NEED to remember this. I need to read this over and over and over again and ask myself WHY. We were 7 people. 6 guys and one girl who could not keep her mouth shut. But this is not about her. It is about our and especially MY cowardice.

We were wandering around, our little group. It must have already been at least 2:00 AM. The alcohol had run dry, our cigarettes mostly the same. Still, we were joking, we were laughing. We were having a good time. We sat down on a bench in the local park. Sometime later, two other guys stumbled past. They joked about something, we joked about something. They joked about us, we joked about them. Then it started getting ugly. The girl in our group made some snide penis joke. It didn't go over well. One of them called someone on his cell phone, and they disappeared. We should have known what was coming. I definetly knew. But we stayed. It was our right. We didn't back down. Still, a feeling of dread was growing in my stomach. And then I heard them coming back.

I disappeared.

I hastily walked away into the bushes, noone noticing me depart. I crouched there, shaking.

Get UP you bastard. Get UP.

"Who was that? Which asshole said it? Huh?"
"We didn't say anything..."
"Shut up!" SMACK

Don't do this. YOU FUCKING COWARD. Get UP. Be a goddamn MAN.

I finally got up. Still shaking, I snuck back. I had been gone maybe 30 seconds.

There were only 3 of them. *3*. The girl was talking, she was saying she had said it. She had no fear. She knew they wouldn't hurt her. And it was true: They simply didn't believe she had made the remark. They needed someone to beat up, and it couldn't be her. I tried to be stronger. After all, we were 6 young men. We should have had nothing to fear. But most of us were quiet, me included. Finally, they started to move away. But she HAD to make another joke. And so they came back. And then they picked one of us and slapped him hard. Nobody moved a muscle.

DO SOMETHING FUCK YOU FUCK YOU MOVE IT GODDAMN IT DO SOMETHING COME ON

Then they kicked him hard enough to send him flying backward.

DO FUCKING SOMETHING YOU IDIOT YOU COWARD YOU FUCKING GODDAMN IDIOT

"If I see another one of your fucking faces I'm going to beat the crap out of him, you hear me?"

Finally, they left.

We were two times as many people as they were, and we didn't do a fucking thing. NOBODY. Least of all me. I could hardly contain my anger as we finally departed. WHY. Why the goddamn fuck did we not do anything? I am 6'4" for crying out loud. WHY?

Afterwards it was all "Yeah, we could have kicked their asses", "If so-and-so had been there we would have kicked their fucking asses", "If only...". It was so much crap. So much crap.

We were all cowards. We were not men. Trying to remember what the Anarchist's Cookbook said, what How to fight and not get your ass kicked says, it means NOTHING when push comes to shove. Nothing. It all boils down to having the courage or not having it. We did not.

What has become of the human race? Why are we all such weaklings these days? At what point did we all become so WEAK? No wonder the world is coming down around us. There is no honest courage, no real bravery, no desire to stand up and FIGHT BACK. It hurts, it hurts me so much to know I have so little willpower. And to say that you are non-violent, that you are above petty violence is an EXCUSE. We simply do not know how to stand up for ourselves anymore. It is so very, very sad.

Glory to the Brave

A True story

She was strolling through my late morning grocery with a look of bliss.
A young woman, unconcerned and relaxed in a peasant blouse and snugonhips jeans. Ms. Bliss had long, shoulder length blonde hair streaked on one side with bright green. Turquoise or aqua marine. As my cart moved closer to her I was struck by her eyes- they were exactly the same color. Deep emerald and filled with light. I realize they could have been contacts, and that her entire ensemble was probably created to garner attention. Well, consider it mission accomplished, because I was stopped dead in my tracks.
She did not return my gaze as she slid by, surrounded by an air of apricots. Still I am sure I saw the thinnest edge of a smile on the corners of her mouth as she passed.

I wonder what it is like to be so radiant; to be a bottle of nectar in a field of hummingbirds.

I had lunch with Linus Torvalds today.

It was at the Linux 11th Anniversary Picnic/BBQ, I was minding my own business, listening to Jon "maddog" Hall talk about the user interfaces of Star Trek, when I glanced away for a moment to see the man himself with his wife and two daughters. Now, I'm a geek, and have only lived in the Silicon Valley for 6 weeks, so for me, meeting Linus (who I tried in vain to spot at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo) is something akin to a 13-year-old girl meeting the Backstreet Boys, I suppose.

I shook his hand, told him that I didn't really have anything to say, just that it was an honor to meet him, and I was thankful for this great community he has created.

I used to live with Art students.

When N- graduated, I saw her exhibition pieces, her final work (which was some of the most original work I've seen), much of it frozen. Plucked chickens with hands reaching into them, messages spelled out in alphabet noodles. Delacate hands made from whale fat. The seven deadly sins, all in icy biogical material, slowly accumulating frost and freezer burn

And the chocolates. A little pile of them, all casts of her cunt. Various expressions. I couldn't help thinking: when was she doing that, quietly, in her room? And When did she borrow the wooden chopping board for that photo of that manipulated chicken, and as a vegetarian, I hope she washed it well afterwards.

I haven't seen her for about six months. After graduating, she moved to Johannesburg.

Last night (a quiet saturday night, aweekend spent on the internet) while surfing the news sites of the old country, I see her mentioned. Causing a stir. Refered to as a conceptual artist At an exhibition of artists making thier art in public. They are selling the resulting chocolates.

I am not making this up

Damn it is hot here in Boston. I finally broke down and put in a window unit, and running that full-blast has brought my room's temp down to 80F. Not spectacular but I can at least sleep. But still am required to sweat when going to bathroom, kitchen, or living room. And still grouchy, snapped at roommate's friend (one of two friends, actually) who is getting living here rent-free. This guy took my clothes out of the washer and put them in the drier (this was #1 -- we usually just take the clothes out wet and put them on top if the other guy is too slow). But the thing is, he put them on high heat. Fine -- but these were my shirts. I did apologize to the guy for snapping at him, but damn, be a little careful if you're living in someone else's place. When myself & roommate #2 agreed to let roommate #3 have these guys stay in the guest room, we didn't ask for rent but suggested they clean part of the apartment. No dice. Ah well, if I complain now I can live with it for another few weeks. I'm not here very much anyhow.

I am obsessed with travel writing.

I tried explaining it today to my mother, who didn't quite understand what I meant. "Travel writing isn't guidebooks," I said. "It's stories written by travellers about their experiences. It's not people suggesting a good restaurant in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but rather what happened to them when they visited Sao Paulo."

"Ah," she said with that tone that means she doesn't really get what I'm talking about, but is pretending to so I will change the subject to a topic she has more experience in. Such as discussing the latest drama afflicting my cousins, or the fact that her boss convinced her to buy 1,000 shares of WorldCom stock because he told her it was "a great bargain" at 8 cents a share (as an aside, she only spent $80 -- it was the first time she ever bought stock in anything).

I've been trying to grasp just why I've started almost exclusively reading books and anthologies about travel. And today it finally hit me. For the past year and a half, I've been working at a fellowship program designed to prepare American journalists for a career in foreign reporting. As the program's Communications Coordinator, I am required to sit in on many of the seminars the program fellows attend. These mainly involve Washington policy wonks, college professors and veteran journalists discussing international topics such as human rights issues in Africa, global economics and conflict zones. Although I considered myself fairly informed about the world before I joined the program, I realize how little I actually knew. I think it's safe to say that I'm now much better informed than the average American, however.

The ironic thing is that although I can discuss such topics as the historical reasons for the Rwandan genocide and how the prescence of UN aid workers has caused an epidemic of forced prostitution in the Balkans, I have never been outside the United States. All my knowledge is second hand (or in some cases, third hand). Sometimes I like to fool myself about my level of involvement in world events, but the truth is although one of the few Westerners to interview Osama bin Laden once had an office adjacent to mine, I've never even been to Mexico let alone Central Asia.

When I was a kid, I was terrified of traveling to other countries -- the very idea of being somewhere where no one spoke English was incomprehensible. But now as an adult, I want to travel -- I want to see the world -- but economics keep me from doing it. I'm surrounded by people whose living it is to go to other countries and write about what they see, yet I can't afford to hop a plane from Washington to San Francisco.

So I satiate my desire to travel by reading about other people's experiences. Right now I'm reading the America's Best Travel Writing (2001) edited by Paul Theroux, and it's fantastic. But it would be so much better if I could experience travel myself. Perhaps in the future, I will. But for the moment I'm stuck living vicariously through the adventures of others.

Here I am, day one as a freshman in college. I just finished moving into my dorm. It is now 11:25 at night, and my roommate, who has been out for six hours now, is still out, meeting people. I feel antisocial and ill at ease and mainly just sad. Now that I'm going to school in Washington D.C. I miss my home, Colorado, in a strangely powerful way. Washington is nice-- it's even somewhere that I always thought I would like to live for a few years-- but now that I'm here all I can think about is Colorado. I got lost today and almost cried because the Rocky Mountains weren't there, always on my west, to guide my way. I miss the open plains, loathe these damn trees that don't allow you to see farther than the side of the road.

I miss my friends, and my family, something I never thought I would say. Today my mother kept rummaging around in my room, trying to organize things her way, and I guess that I made it clear that I wanted her and my father to leave, even though they had been nothing but helpful. I feel terrible now that they've gone. If it weren't so late I would call them up, say that I was sorry, and beg to go home. Funny how this silly rationale keeps me here. And my friends... they're all going to split up soon enough but I was the first to leave, and they're all at home now. I wonder if they're missing me the way that I'm missing them.

A few minutes earlier, I went wandering the halls in search of sustenance so I could take some cough medication. I guess that this might contribute to my problems-- I'm sort of sick, and on the airplane here my ears plugged up and still haven't sorted themselves out. I can't hear anything very well, and my ears hurt. Anyway, so I wandered downstairs to get some things from the vending machine, and the one thing I wanted was sold out, as were my next two choices. Fuck the world, I thought darkly, and stalked out. Then my boyfriend, my lover, the person I miss more than anything else in this world, called me. The phone kept breaking up. His wonderful, comforting voice kept disappearing.

So here I am, in the middle of everything, desperately lost. I hope things get better. Maybe when this welcome week is over and classes start.

This node is a day late and a dollar short, but its worth it. Last night I got home later then I should have, later then I planned and I needed to go to bed. So I did, instead of noding about the wonderful day I had.

Today was the Nascar Race at Michigan International Speedway and my buddy and I went and spent all day enjoying the fine perfomance.

The first thought that came into mind was the size of the venue. MIS is a 2 mile oval and sits about 200,000 people. Its huge, the largest sporting venue I have ever been to. And it was packed completely full, sold out. Everyone says how big the concert was, or how many fans showed up to see so and so.... but every weekend Nascar has more fans in one place then any other sport.

The second thought was the noise. Nascar is loud, much, much louder then I thought it would be. The sound of the cars flying by at 185+ mph is amazing. Before the race started, there was the noise of the fly-over done by a pair of F-16's about 300 feet above the deck in full military power and full afterburner. The noise was amazing, the loudest noise I have ever heard. After passing over the track, both pilots stood the plane on end and took off vertically. It was a site to see....

It was a great race, only one crash, a beauty to watch. It had all the excitement to make for a good race. Dale Jarret spun his car early in the race, lap 5, but came back from 39th place to grab the checkered flag.

What a great day.... too bad I forgot the sunscreen

Final pathway of the grundoon and imp/buddha road trip of DOOM:
Flight delays: Las vegas, 2 hours
Arrival at airport: 11:20 p.m., Brooklyn time
Gin and tonics drunk on Chiisuta's veranda: 3? Then i lost track
Max number of noders an veranda: 9
Number of dolls lost off veranda: one ballerina pig puppet
Most enormous and tasty lunch: LadySun and Chris-O, Manhattan waterfront
Most ridiculous schlepping all over new york to acquire rental car, also LadySun, you RAWK!!!
Hours to sparta with ChiSquared: 13 1/2
Number of noders met: I lost track, status report after consulting with czeano
Number of blisters from playing guitar: one, right thumb
Best solo: Chiisuta, Dancing Queen
Favorite moments: meeting many noders and finally getting to connect names to faces; singing in the tunnel, singing and playing guitar, all the musicians are magnificent....and stargazing.
Favorite moments of laughing so hard my stomach hurt: the EPIC BATTLE between the Silver Robot and the Red Cowbot of DOOM.
Strangest thing eaten (so far): FROGS LEGS (the first one's free)
maximum number of E2 chrisses present: me, chiisuta, chris-o, thefez, iconoplast, czeano, accipiter, cbustapeck.
Favorite Imp/buddha moments: Mutiple toenail paintings; the Fort of Doom, by Herself and czeano, The Red Robot playing legos for 2 hours and giving me FREEDOM!
Return to Brooklyn: 12 hours, ETA, 0400 August 5.
Czeano and famille, you are amazing to provide such a great gathering. Thanks you, so many hugs, and mad props.

If you want a word/painting as below, /msg me, I'm now one gathering behind. I'll do my best....

Hours driving to northern ontario: approximately 20
Extra hours becuase of construction on highway 17: 4
Time spent waiting for boat across: none, I stole Sam's when he was in town
Batteries purchased for walkie-talkies: 16
Mouse and bat guano in log cabin: 459,825
Amount of pinesol and bleach to clean: infinite
earliest swim: 5 a.m.
longest swim: 2 miles (approx)
highest water temperature: 74 degrees
cups of tea drunk: 5-10 per day, 8 days: ~56
maximum number of uncles, aunts, cousins, second cousins and shirttail relations: 20
number of major thunderstorms: 3
Naps: 4
vicious pounce games (I won! I'm still a shark! And I don't even cheat anymore!): 1
Number of comics books re-read: 100+
Number of copies of issue #1 of the Blue Beetle: 1
Approximate age of oldest comic: sometime in the early 50s

Approximate time to return to Brooklyn: 18 hours
Ferry ride on Chi-Chemaun: 1 hour, 45 minutes
INcredible cheapness of canadian bed and breakfast mansion: 40 bucks, with the most enormous breakfast I have ever seen
Number of times other inmates said "eh?" innumerable
Number of gas station attendants and clerks grundoon tried out her erzatz canook accent on: at least 12
Number of curlers met, eh? : 2 (both female)

Number of noders and newbies gathered at compound: max 8
Amount of tanqueray drunk: one fifth, duty free, and a six of tasteless canadian IPA
Number of highly inflammatory messages sent in my name, by Wicker Nipple: 1
Cool little plastic thingies: 27
Number of subway trains ridden on the 15th: 10
Rating of Brooklyn Botanical Garden's Japenese Garden: five stars

Number of years Jewish auntie spent in German labor camp: 3-1/2, age 15 to 19
How she got there instead of a death camp: a false report card from a catholic high school
Number of hours spent pumping her for stories: 36
Number of times we cried: 3
Number of times she called me by my mother's name: 9
Number of times she called Tessie by my name: 3
Number of classmates found interesting at high school reunion: 6
Number of women who looked matronly, or men who were fat and bald: all the rest
Number of bad funk songs danced to: didn't count

Number of hops in backyard pool in DC heat wave: 8 or 9
Number of laps around pool towing imp/buddha in inner tube: 7
Fun had: The Whole Thing!!! Thanks everyone who ptched in to make it a great trip!!!!

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