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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Social Media and Real Life and Confused Mothers

I've read articles about how social media distorts the perception of one's own life. Looking through one's friends' feeds or walls or whatever, one might see lives filled with 
  • amazing summit views after challenging but satisfying hikes in ideal weather
  • fit young women in bikinis lounging on boats in ideal weather
  • smiling babies in ideal weather
Or maybe all three. Or maybe just ideal weather.

Like weather, though, lives aren't ideal. (I know... newsflash.)

I sort of take pride in being more open with my Facebook feed than most tend to be... it's true that I keep my friends list small, but when people are on that list, they  might see my life filled with
  • drunken ramblings about chats I'm having with friends after drinking too much rum
  • my (seemingly inexplicable) selfies featuring the latest lightsaber purchase I've made
  • amazing summit views after challenging but satisfying hikes in ideal weather
OK. Not that last one. I was just seeing if you were paying attention.

So I try to be open. I try to paint a real picture of my life both because I think it's interesting enough to be, uh, of interest, and because I enjoy looking back at what happened a couple of years ago and shaking my head at how dumb/awesome/uninteresting my past self was.

One of the aspects of being open is the inclusion of my family in my friends list. Not just my siblings and their spouses, but my aunts and uncles and cousins and grandmothers. And my parents.

I don't expect that most of it makes sense to them--it doesn't make sense to people with whom I share the experiences about which I am posting all of the time, I'd bet--but I know they know I'm a bit of an oddball and put up with it.

So, too, do the friends whom I have known for a long time.

A trouble spot is with new friends. These friends might be real life friends I've known for a while, in which case I'd anticipate they'd "get" it relatively quickly, or they might be brand new friends. 

Of these brand new friends, some might be women.

Of these women, some might be individuals I have interest in dating.

That is the most delicate population of all, and that is really the only population I worry about offending.

I say all of this because I had a terrible dream the other night. In this dream I'd met a woman that I liked and we became Facebook friends. I didn't even know her well enough to give her a blog codename, but I was looking forward to doing so. We'll call her No-Codename.

We had been texting (in the dream, I mean; yeah, in the dream!) and we'd set up an evening for a date. Unfortunately, I was out of the state and so we had to schedule it about a week later. In spite of that, we managed to have pleasant txt exchanges.

Then, as people tend to do, she posted a few pictures on Facebook. I liked one or two and commented in a silly fashion on one. She liked my comment and ... all was well. All was on track. I went to sleep, in my dream, feeling like I was in a decent position with the date about three days away.

I awoke the next morning (in the dream, not from it) and checked Facecbook and my mom had commented on my status, she'd liked a couple of my pictures, and she'd... liked No-Codename's picture. And she'd commented on No-Codename's picture.

Facebook can be confusing. It can be tough to determine who's posting what. And I love my mom to pieces and am glad that she contributes to my Facebook existence. 

But I was not pleased. I was concerned that No-Codename might think that I was talking to my mother about her. Which would be less than ideal before a first date.

I got my mother on the phone and walked her through undoing what she'd done. She apologized about a million times and I know she didn't mean anything by it, but... ugh.

I txted No-Codename, laughing off my mother's mistake. No response.

I txted her the next day to see if we were still on for our date, scheduled for the next night. No response.

My dream continued for some time, as I strained not to txt again, knowing she'd either been freaked out or she was too busy to reply. Or she won the lottery and moved away. Or [insert a million other possibilities here].

I woke up before I found out the answer.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

He'll fight for freedom wherever there's trouble. And then he'll bug me about it.

There are a few reasons that I like the club that I’ve frequented so often in 2015. One of the key reasons is the people.

Normally, by “people” I mean women… because I usually find men boring and because I am not interested in making out with men. In this case, though, I actually enjoy it because of the gender-neutral sense of the word.

Dudes at this club tend to be more relaxed. They aren’t grinding on everything that moves. They apologize when they step on my shoes. They wait in line like civilized individuals.

I won’t go so far as to say that I actually talk to very many of them, but (unlike so many other places) I find them tolerable in general.

General. That word leads me to a remarkable exception and the topic of this blog.

A general, as we all know, is a high-ranking commissioned officer in a military branch. Here in the US of A, generals are only in the army, but in other countries all bets are off and there are generals of the marines and generals of the air force and, presumably generals of trash collection.

I’m not an expert on military matters. It’s true that I was in Civil Air Patrol in middle school, and I learned valuable lessons like how to march and how to wear silly-looking military hats… but I (unlike so many men in previous generations in my family) didn’t sign up for military duty. I’m lucky enough to have had that choice, and while I seriously considered it for a time, it didn’t work out and I’m pleased with how things are.

While I’m not an expert on military matters, I have what I believe is a healthy regard for those in the military. My grandfather served. My father served. My uncle served.

Of course, that explanation might sound like the immortal words of The Office’s Chris Finch: “How can I hate women? My mum’s one.”

What I’m trying to say is that I respect the military. I respect the choice that people make when they decide to serve. But I don’t worship the military. I know that there are lots of assholes in the military, the same way there are lots of assholes who work in digital marketing and write blog entries every six months. I also don’t find the decision inherently more noble than most other professions.

This lukewarm (or maybe lukewarm-plus… it’s not pure apathy) feeling is consistent with most of my beliefs (I tend to argue with, or at least internally disagree with, everyone I’ve discussed politics with… ever) and I would be surprised if it were one that would be warmly received by people from the military. Especially intoxicated guys who are short and chunky and see me sitting at a club with two attractive women.

That’s right, folks—the preamble is over. It’s time for the story.

So… I was at the club. There’s an open air area and I had a chance to have a seat around a table with Disco and Charmin. I’d been there a couple of hours and they wanted to have a smoke, so while I don’t smoke myself, I was more than happy to sit between two hot chicks and talk to them as they had cigarettes.

We were just starting to talk about something (I’m not quite sure what, although I was quite sure that my rum-enhanced brain was thinking I was going to be hilarious) when we were joined by a fourth person.

Which was fine. Not in the “Damn, you so fine, girl!”-fine, way, but it was OK. Disco, in particular, knows a lot of people and when a dude with a funny hat sat at our table and acted like he belonged… hey, it’s a free country.

But it’s only free for people like me to let him sit at my table because of people like him.

(Everything past this point is not entirely verbatim, but I’ll try to keep it real.)

The dude sits down. I expect him to say hello to one of the ladies because I didn’t know him. He says something nondescript and …
Me: Hello, sir!
Sergeant Slaughter: What?
Me: I said, “Hello, sir!” [I might have snapped off a salute there.]
SS: I’m no officer, I … [I joined in at this point because I could somehow sense it was coming]
Me: … work for a living.
SS: What?
Me: Yeah. You’re not a CO. I get it.
SS: Are you sassing me, boy? [Note: he did NOT say that, although it would have been amazing if he did; he said something less colorful but just as angry]
Me: I was just saying hi. And I like your hat. [It was a Federal Civil War-style soft cap.]
SS: [His stare intensified. Shit was getting real.] I spent four tours in Afghanistan … 
At this point, I was a bit dazed. I didn’t understand how things had gone so off the rails so fast. I tried to respectfully maintain eye contact with the dude, but I could see out of the corner of my eye that both ladies had shifted their seats and their bodies, giving him just about the worst possible body language. Unperturbed, he continued his diatribe…
SS: I had a bullet miss my head by this much… [He indicated the distance by speading his hand and the distance was about five inches from his pinky tip to his thumb tip… it seemed like an efficient, if convenient, distance.]
Me: I am glad you’re here. Well… not literally here. [I don’t think I said that last part.]
Me: … ?
He then placed both of his hands on the table in front of him and took a deep, cathartic sigh and uttered, “I can’t do this right now. I need to use the bathroom. I’ll be back.”

He stood up and went over to the restroom and closed the door. Charmin, Disco, and I looked at each other in shocked silence for a moment. And then I asked for confirmation that the man was acting crazy. And they confirmed it.

Maybe it would have made sense to get up and leave the table, but before we knew it, he was back. Back in his seat and back to chastising me for, as far as I could tell, not appreciating how much he had done for me, personally.

In the spirit of human companionship—and in the interests of ending the conversation from Hell—I let him know that I didn’t come to the club to get hassled and I didn’t intend to offend him.

We all stood up. The ladies (understandably) fled and I got his name and shook his hand. I thought we were cool, but he had one more gem:
SS: You want to really make it up to me?
Me: Uh… make what up to you?
SS: You want to make this right?
Me: Uh… I guess. How?
SS: You can do me one thing.
Me: What?
SS: Get me some pussy.
Carry on, soldier.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Flushing away anxiety

It is logical that if we are provided with more options we will be happier, right? If I buy a new car, I want to be able to pick red or white or black or silver or... whatever. Even if I love the color green, it would probably rub me the wrong way if that were my only option.

Again, logically, it seems that would apply everywhere--TV shows, breakfast cereals, porn... all the staples. There's been an assertion, though, that too many options have a negative effect. The Paradox of Choice asserted that position well. We fret when there are too many possibilities. We have buyers remorse. We don't make a decision and just get on with our lives.

Last night I was, predictably, at a club. I, predictably, had to use the restroom. And I, not so predictably, almost ended up reaching into a urine-filled toilet.

The pants I was wearing were button fly, rather than with a zipper, and I was wearing a belt. I made what seemed to be a reasonable decision to leave my belt fastened and my top button done and then unbuttoned elsewhere.

Things went just fine (I've had a fair bit of practice peeing in my day) until... they didn't. I felt a "pop" under my belt immediately after I completed my act and looked down and my top button was gone.

The pants I was wearing were a bit old, and, being a bit old myself, I know that old things have a tendency to fall apart. I sighed heavily (the struggle is real) and buttoned up my fly and was determined to find the button so I could reattach it at some point in the future.

The first place I looked just happened to be the place where it was... in the toilet.

At this point I had a bit of a quandary. The button on a pair of pants that I was wearing was sitting in a toilet half-full with fluid that had been in my body until about 15 seconds prior. For some reason I was without rubber gloves, and I was loathe to reach into my own piss ... but I really wanted that button!

So, once again, I sighed heavily and made the decision to be forever unclean in order to get a seventeen cent button. I was NOT going to be paralyzed by fear or the smell of my own pee. I was going to overcome the paradox of choice.

I bent over, reaching down with my left hand, when the toilet flushed.

Somehow I had triggered the sensor and the fresh water whisked the button away forever. Some sewer crocodile has probably choked on it by now.

Do I miss the button, fuck yeah, I miss the button. But it's very nice to be able to tell this story without ever having actually covered my hand in urine.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Blowing up her spot

I knew what this blog was going to be--relaying an encounter with a woman I had some nights back--but I was unsure of the structure around the story. But I think I've got it. Here goes.

I like women. I know that is not a bold statement and it's not one that should surprise anyone (although it sometimes takes some convincing, depending on what I'm wearing at the time). In order to understand why I have this story to tell, though, it's important to understand that as the foundation.

Further, to distance myself from the otherwise internally consistent and logical conclusion that I am a shallow misogynist (which I am not; any antisocial tendencies are deep and not specific to one particular group except MAYBE dudes in their early 20's who wear backwards baseball caps and flip-flops everywhere they go), I have to distinguish different aspects of my admiration for the female humans. I will do so by pulling out two Woody Allen quotes:

I love you! I... I want you in a way of cherishing your... your... your totality and your otherness, and... and in the sense of a presence, and a being, and a whole coming and a going in a room with grapefruit, and... and love of a thing of nature in a sense of not wanting or being jealous of the thing that a person possesses.
I like pretty girls. I'm old-fashioned that way.

"Liking women," then, can be intellectual/emotional connection or can be a physical draw. This blog post is (once we get through the voluminous  prologue) about physical attraction.

I like women.

I like their hair. I like their eyebrows. I like their eyes. I like their noses. I like their smiles and their teeth. I like their breasts and their stomachs and their butts and their hips. I like their legs and their ankles. I like the way they dress, including their shoes.

This is not to say that I like all of those bits and pieces on every woman. And it's not to say there aren't other places and things related to a woman that I enjoy, but it makes for a relatively comprehensive list, generously laid out in general top-to-bottom order for easy reference. You're welcome.

Several nights ago, I discovered a new way I like women: I like their backs.

How did I discover this? I saw an amazing back.

I was at Hula Hula with friends and the aforementioned Amazing Back Lady was there, too. She had a drink and sang a song and then sat back down at her spot, alone. She was also wearing some kind of amazing sweater/top thing that exposed a generous portion of her back to great effect.

Whether it was the alcohol or the intoxicating presence of her back, I approached her at some point. We had a good five minute conversation or so, in which I complimented her back (I live like Sarbanes-Oxley applies to social engagements, for the most part) and which went, I thought, pretty well.

My friends and I were leaving for the evening, and so I wrapped up our conversation... which took an unexpected, blog-inducing turn. It went something like this:
Me: So... I had fun talking.
Amazing Back Lady: Yeah. Me, too.
Me: I'd love to hang out sometime. Maybe get a drink and food or something?
ABL: (slightly wincing) ...
Me: Umm... OK. Let's see. Do you have a boyfriend?
ABL: No.
Me: Do you like boys?
ABL: Yes.
Me: Did you have a good enough time talking to me to do it again sometime?
ABL: Yes, but...
Me: (trying to put on a charming smile) A ringing endorsement, indeed!
ABL: Haha. Yeah, I do, but... you haven't bought me a drink.
Me: (feeling my smile fade) Oh...
ABL: Yeah, you haven't bought me a drink.
Me: I don't do that for people I don't know. Sorry. I'll buy you drinks and food or whatever you want if/when we go out, but... yeah.
(Number given)
Me: OK, cool. I gotta run, but it was fun meeting you and I look forward to seeing you again.
ABL: The thing about the drink is that you've been blowing up my spot for ten minutes and...
Walking away from people when they're in the middle of telling you something is rude. In fact, I find it to be one of the least tolerable things people can do in polite society (along with wearing backwards baseball caps and flip-flops in public). I can't remember the last time I physically turned from someone and walked away when they were telling me something.

Oh, wait... I do remember now: it was when Amazing Back Lady was acting like we were hanging out in a strip club and her manager was going to yell at her for not having dudes buying her enough drinks.

So... Amazing Back Lady not only taught me that I can be thoroughly fascinated by a woman's back... she also taught me that I'm not fascinated enough to buy a drink due to it OR put up with bullshit after I'm unwilling to do so.

If she'd had amazing legs, on the other hand...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Conversation Dehydration

I know this woman. We’ll call her Sunshine. I met Sunshine while I was on a date with her friend some time ago and I was … impressed. But she had a boyfriend (kind of… maybe… I don’t know) and I was on a date with her friend.

Fast forward several months. I’d not been on another date with her friend. She’d become fully single. I sent her a message on Facebook, asking her out for a drink and she demurred.

("To demur" means, by the way, to politely refuse a suggestion… and she was very nice, very polite, and very classy about saying “no”... but I didn't take it as her saying “never".)

A bit more time passed, and this past weekend I was at a club with friends. Sunshine was there and I had an opportunity to speak to her a couple of times. She looked great and I think I successfully managed not to stare too much in our first conversation. She talked about how she preferred to hang out in person, and that she used Facebook for work. She also managed to slip in, though, that she sometimes is amused by my Facebook wall. And she repeated “sometimes” with a smirk. I tried to keep my poker face on a bit but nodded and said I’d see her later and took my drink (which I would shortly thereafter drop in its entirety on the floor) and headed off.

The second time when we spoke, then, I was feeling pretty good about things. Maybe it was merely that I’d had enough alcohol to be incapable of reliably grasping a full glass of rum and diet, but I felt good.

Sunshine and I bumped into each other in line for the restroom and we’d said one or two things when another woman came up. We had a conversation that … could have gone better. It went something like this:

Woman: Hi Sunshine!
Sunshine: Hi. This is my friend Ed.
Woman: Hi Ed!
Me: Hey there.
Woman: (to Sunshine) Ooh… he’s great!
Sunshine: OK… ?
Woman: So… why haven’t you introduced me to him before?
Sunshine: Um…
Woman: How long have you guys been going out?
Sunshine: ...

It all happened in slow motion. It all happened so fast. The woman had not only forced Sunshine to deny everything (including, but not limited to, any interest in me) but also forced me to watch Sunshine’s face as she did so.

It went something like this:

"Hi, Sunshine!"

"Ooh… he’s great!"

"So… why haven’t you introduced me to him before?"

"How long have you guys been going out?"

Yes, Sunshine went from a plump emotional grape to a shriveled social raisin over the course of that brief conversation. It was conversation dehydration.

For better or worse, it was my turn to use the restroom. I stepped in and didn't see Sunshine the rest of the night. I'm sure she was back to her normal grape-y self in no time. 

As for me? I shrugged and got some more rum and told myself that at least I'd gotten a blog post idea out of it...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Super-Apples and Oranges

I like words.

I like using them as crutches insofar as quotes and phrases and cliches all carry more meaning than the individual words do on their own. Actually, since most words mean more than one thing, I guess a phrase like, "Live long and prosper" could mean many things examined atomically ("live" means both happening in real time as well as the command form of "to live"; "long" is both a verb and an adjective, etc.) but the trees would not portray the forest of Mr. Spock, Star Trek, and all of the other cultural context inherent--and generally understood--in those words.

I like kicking those crutches out from under people, too. Puns and silly alliteration and other plays on words are fun for me and sometimes they're even funny for people to whom I'm communicating. Establishing and subsequently betraying expectations is, along with getting kicked in the groin, one of the bedrocks of comedy. I make no claim to be hilarious (at least not in this space, with Obama watching) but I know a bit about funny. I think. Maybe.

Phrases that we all know are like shortcuts. Part of their genius is that we don't need to think of why they mean what they mean. We don't need to dissect them to get to truth.

He's champing at the bit.

She's dressed to the nines.

Let's cut a rug.

Etc., etc.

You don't NEED to know it's "champing", rather than "chomping". You don't need to know wtf "the nines". You get it.

It's interesting, though, to sometimes examine a particular phrase and dissect it a bit. And I'm going to do that here with a phrase that's even more obvious than the four I listed above.

It's apples and oranges.

Simple, right? You can't compare them. Apples are one fruit, oranges are another. One is sweet with a skin you can eat and one is sweet/tart with a peel you need to, uh, peel.

They both grown on trees. You can drink juice made from each of them.

But they're apples and oranges.

Strictly speaking, you CAN substitute one for the other. You CAN prefer one over the other.

If we wanted to have things that you can't really do that with, it seems the phrase could be "It's like apples and a Nobel Prize" or "It's like Batman and oranges".

So, assuming we can substitute one for the other, it seems that the point is that one fruit offers something that the other either does not or does not in the same degree.

(Let's treat this as if consumers believe that more is always better, OK? I know some people don't LIKE things that are too sweet, but this is a thought experiment and fruit could be substituted for people, with the axes being, say, sense of humor and education level. Whatever.)

[graph: apple and orange on "Sweet" and "Tart" axes]

In this case, a consumer of fruit can decide which of the attributes they prefer. Each consumer might value the two benefits differently, and even at different time (think: impending scurvy), and so while "apples and oranges" is cliche for not being able to be compared, they are actually pretty good options for different people and/or at different times. Just because there's not a single final answer of which is better doesn't mean they can't be compared.

Compare that to, say, an apple and a super-apple. I just made the super-apple up, but imagine that it looked something like this:

[graph: apple and super-apple on "Sweet" and "Tart" axes]

Again, assuming "more is better", the super-apple is the superior choice for all people at all times. The super-apple renders the apple obsolete.

But there's no "apples and super-apples" cliche.

I thought up this rambling partially as a result of watching Scott Pilgrim vs. the World the other night. It was the 124th time I've seen it (roughly), and the line that stuck with me this time was after the protagonist gets dumped for another guy and his friend said, "That's probably just because he's better than you."

Scott Pilgrim was the apple and he'd met a super-apple.

When I ponder the women that have chosen others over me, I wonder if they are oranges or if they are super-apples. I wonder if, whatever the woman saw in me they saw MORE of in the other guy, or if they simply saw other things that they preferred to my things.

Which would I prefer?

Why do I worry about it?

More importantly, why am I writing about it?

I guess I just don't have that much else to do.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Scotland: Day 4 Part II

So there I was. 3:00 AM in Inverness, Scotland. Drunk but not too-drunk, feeling victorious over the powers of Original B, and standing on steps outside a bar, trying to figure out if I could find something interesting to do before I went back to my hotel and caught the train back to Edinburgh at 10 AM.

Pretty standard stuff. I'm sure you've been there yourself.

Well, fortunately (although unfortunately for you, if you don't care for this blog entry) something did happen.

And, as is so often the case, it started with conversation with a female.

She was brunette and a bit plump, perhaps. But she dressed sort of provocatively (although, maybe from your perspective, "And she was dressed sort of sluttily") and I said something. Or she said something. Personal space was pleasantly and flirtateously invaded. And she invited me back to her place.

OK. Cool. There's a first time for everything, right?


So, yeah.

I said, "Why not?" to myself and then I said, "Why not?" to her. She turned to her  female friend and the guy who seemed to be with the other chick, grabbed my hand, and led us away from the bar.

Awesome. Nothing could ever go wrong, right? I'm a fucking AMERICAN, people! Nothing untoward could possibly happen.

We got into line, waiting for a cab, and both of the women were talking about how awesome my accent was and the Other Guy was sort of stewing in the background. I knew he wasn't pleased with the situation, and when Other Chick kissed me rather thoroughly in front of the First Chick and Other Guy, it was simultaneously thrilling and foreboding. She giggled and said something about me biting her lip.

I got into the cab with them. Whatever.

Now, there's something about me you need to know (other than that I'll kiss a perfect stranger in front of someone who very well might be her boyfriend, assuming I'm in a foreign country and have had enough to drink AND she kisses me first) ... I have a terrible sense of direction. Without GPS I am horrible with directions. With GPS I pass. But barely. I get an F+.

"Get lost for three hours after taking a wrong turn in the streets of Evanston on my first day of college"-horrible. "Wander the streets of Honolulu blindly and confusedly until the sun comes up"-horrible.


So when I got into the cab, setting aside any weird conversations that might have been happening (more on that in a moment) and setting aside the booze in my system: I didn't pay attention. And if I had paid attention it wouldn't have mattered.

After the cab ride of about 10 minutes (give or take five minutes) I had no idea where we were. Somewhere relatively close to Inverness but not IN Inverness. It was sort of a rural/suburban housing development-type situation. I didn't really think about how lost I was.

Part of the reason that I didn't think about it is because First Chick started arguing with me almost immediately once we got into the cab.

She asked me how old I was, and I told her. She was FLABBERGASTED that I was so old, and asserted that I had told her I was some 15 years younger than I, in fact, was.

After putting up with Original B in the bar, I really was in no mood to apologize or put up with any kind of crazy. So I pointedly told her she was wrong, that I'd never mentioned my age before, etc.

We got out of the cab and she was chirping at me the whole way. Other Guy and Other Chick got out, too, and we went to First Chick's house and within four or five minutes, she told me to get out.

Get out?

Of her house?

In the middle of not-Inverness, after the Taxi had left?


So I shook my head (for the nine hundredth time that night, seemingly) and trudged out. I wished them all well and I went outside her house and contemplated what to do next.

I think I knew the first turn to make out of her driveway, but I wasn't sure. And my phone was at about 12% battery, so it wasn't going to be able to reliably get me back to the hotel. I had no idea how to call a taxi.

And I was NOT going to back to ask for help.

So I stood there. And after a minute she opened the door, came out, and apologized. She invited me back in.

OK. Great. But then she started complaining about how her boyfriend had just left her for a younger woman a week prior. I tried to be sympathetic, but I must have said the wrong thing because I was asked to get out AGAIN... literally within 10 minutes of being asked back in.

At this point, I looked over at Other Guy. I wanted a sanity check. I wanted some support. I wanted some empathy.

But then I remembered that I'd sorta made out with the chick he had his arm around, and I knew there would be no solace from that corner.

So, once again, I made my way outside confusedly. My phone was below 10%. And I was flustered. Not mad, but just ... befuddled. Flummoxed. Other synonyms.

Guess what happened then?

Go on. Guess.

She came out AGAIN. Invited me in AGAIN.

It was the weirdest thing. Or the second-weirdest.

The weirdest? What happened next is the weirdest.

I came back in. Other Guy and Other Girl had gone into another room, probably to have schadenfreude sex, and I almost IMMEDIATELY kicked a kid's toy that was by a couch.

First Chick did not like this. First Chick was convinced I had kicked a poor kid's toy because I was angry or a bad person or whatever. I actually had kicked it because I didn't see it and the room was a fucking pigsty.

I deigned to apologize, but I basically knew what was coming. I was booted again.

And this time? There was no invitation to re-enter.

It was 4:55 in the AM and I was lost and my phone was dying and I had to get back to catch my train at 10:00. And I really had to pee.

Somehow, some way, I made my way back. I checked Google Maps every so often. I dramatically restricted my picture taking... which is tough, because it felt like I was wandering through the Shire.

But I eventually made it to the outskirts of the city. And then to the street I needed. And finally to my hotel and my bed.

I packed my stuff, made sure the front desk would give me a wakeup call, and fell asleep at around 8:00. Plenty of time to get an hour of sleep AND catch my train. Just like I'd planned.