I get lots of the same questions from emails and phone calls, I figure maybe I should follow up on some past stuff & my random comments...
1) PSE&G situation - submitted my request weeks ago for the BPU to test my meter (had to pay $5 for this). I haven't heard from them yet. Called PSE&G and they are aware of my situation and still aren't trying to chase me for that $8,000 bill. Every single person I talk to has the same reaction, "Don't pay a single cent - they can't do this!". I agree, and i'll do whatever I need to do to fight it. I'm currently reaching out to friends of my family who are lawyers for help here, also.
2) Leg situation - i'm getting the titanium bolt removed from my leg on January 19th. My left leg is great, except it simply isn't as strong as my right for as much rehab I have done on it, it just is a slow progression. The bolt could stay in for the rest of my life, and the doctor said it is really a personal decision if I want to keep it in. Personally, I just want it out. I think i'm still going to have an active lifestyle, with the exception of jumping off pitcher's mounds, and I don't want a metal bolt in my leg while this is going on. My fear is that I twist or turn my leg the wrong way - and snap! The bone breaks along the metal line. My doctor confirmed that my fears were accurate, if I put enough stress on the bone, that the bone could be more fragile due to the bolt. I plan on snowboarding in the future and I don't want to have to worry about the bolt when i'm 45. Since i'm relatively young and not 55, I will remove it. My recovery should be 2-3 months per the doctor....not sure how long it will keep me off my feet.
3) Myrtle Beach...planning to hit Myrtle Beach with some friends in March for a golf vacation. It is a bit bittersweet, because a lot of the guys we used to go with are all backing out from the trip for various reasons (saving money, time conflicts, etc). I need to make some new single friends who have time on their hands.
4) Bartending - still chugging along with rumors that the bar has been sold. Of course the bar has been for sale for 2 years, it is only a matter of time before the rumors become reality. Offically - IT HAS *NOT* BEEN SOLD. Just the same rumors are flying around. From what I heard the new owners are going to "re-interview" the staff. No idea what that means for everyone working there, but either way the last few months has been a win-win. I got the Eagles club to the bar & I got to bartend again. Of course I enjoy bartending, but its not the end of the world if I have to stop.
5) Going to see Spamalot next week. I decided to buy tickets to see the show, the mezzanine seats were all filled so I opted for a balcony seat. I want to see the original cast before they get replacements.
6) I'm not sure why but my interest in going to the gym & cooking have completely nosedived. I was chugging along for 2 years and it seems that once I started bartending my interest level in working out tailed off. I'm not sure why, but certainly being around a bar and drinking I think screws up the whole diet (sugary Captain and Cokes didn't help). Thank God for my irish metabolism, I really haven't packed on pounds but I just feel like "blah". I used to eat 5 "meals" a day, and now I just eat breakfast, lunch and find that i'm skipping dinner (damn you, World of Warcraft!)
7) Completely psyched that NJ will ban smoking in about 90 days. One of the hardest things about quitting is being AROUND smokers. This will tremendously help people who want to quit. I was a Court Street on Sunday at the bar. Dining room was packed, and I sat down at the bar to have wine & dinner. Next to me, on either side, were smokers. Puffing away the whole time. I was thisclose to asking them to put their cigarettes out while I ate, but I let it go. I figured that in 90 days they would have to stand outside while I enjoyed my meal in smoke free peace.
8) Funny side story. I left Court Street and a couple left the bar at the same time. The guy looks at me and says, "Hey, don't you bartend at that bar?". I tell him yes but that I didn't remember serving him. He told me he used to come there when we first opened like in 2002. I said, "Well what happened, where have you been?!" The girl pipes up, "Uh, that is my fault." So true. If I had a nickel for the amount of people that get into a relationship and completely disappear from the bar circuit I would have a lot of nickels. I completely understand it, heck, I know i'd do it also, but it just makes me laugh. Makes me laugh even more when they get dumped and suddenly they have a lot more time to hang out with me again.
8) I want to go somewhere this year. I'm leaning towards London. I was there when I was 16, which leads to a short story...
My brother was studing in London in 1988. I was 16, a skaterat and during my Easter break my parents were kind enough to let me visit K for 10 days. I never travelled abroad before, and to boot I was flying alone. I certainly had PLENTY of airplane experience, and being the youngest of four children, I was easily given a lot of responsibility at a young age because of my birth order (parents are ultra careful with their first children, less so with as they have more).
I get out to London, and K is studying at at a college for foreigners and locals called, "Regent's Park College". This school was, in my mind, fucking awesome. It is hard to explain, but the architecture, feel and setting of the entire place was too cool. What I thought college was going to be like - this was it.
As soon as I got to his college, K introduced me to all of his American friends at a Common Room in the college that...had a BAR in it. This was novel to me. You were at the ground floor of your dorm room, with a small bar that served beer & alcohol. I was 16 and in a country that I could easily drink as much as I wanted. This was like a dream come true.
First night we get there, we order up pints and i'm drinking like banshee. We are playing beer drinking games, i'm meeting a lot of cute college girls (including K's girlfriend Megan who was super nice to me from the moment I met her), and I see someone in the pub who looks familiar to me.
If any of you happen to watch the BBC, you may know someone by the name of Rowan Atkinson, who appeared in many BBC TV shows as Mr. Bean or The Blackadder. I knew him as The Blackadder, since this was 1988, and I happened to catch the show in the states on PBS in between watching Monthy Pyton & Dr. Who as a kid.
It wasn't Rowan. But this guy was absolutely, positively looked EXACTLY like him as a 20 year old. So I had a few in me and walked up to him.
I didn't know this guy from Adam, and he didn't know me. Here I am, some 16 year old American string bean that walks up to him and said, not actually knowing Rowan Atkinson's name, but his character:
"Hey, do you know you look like The Blackadder?"
Now, before I tell you his reaction, I can only surmise that over the years he had to have heard this before. Add on top of that that some snot nosed American kid just walked up to him, while he was minding his own business drinking a pint, and said this might have made him a trifle bit upset. He looked at me with a gaze of disdain, but not anger, and said back, "Do you know you look like a bucket of shit?"
That was my first conversation with a Londoner in London. Yes, thank you America, I will be here all week, don't forget to try the veal.
I stopped from that point to continue talking to the Rowan-lookalike, and went back to my brother & his friends sitting a few yards away and told them the story. The table roared with laughter and I never really got to talk to that guy again but to this day I do wonder if he thought I was insulting him (I wasn't) or his impression of what I said to him. I really didn't mean to be rude, and I happen to get that a lot in my life, where I say something completely innocent and the person who hears it either mistranslates my intentions or misunderstands what i'm trying to say. I gotta work on that.
The next day I was completely hungover, having thrown up in the Regent's Park College bathrooms for a good 30 minutes the night before. But I was 16 and I bounced back as soon as I got some food into my body and we prepared that day by smoking pot in the dorm room (I was an old pro with pot since experimenting at 12 years old) from a makeshift bong make from a Galliano liquor bottle. That night we went to a club in London called Camden Palace.
We jump in a taxi and head over there, my head is swirling from beer and pot, i'm somehow still in remarkable control. We get to the front of the club, hop out and a black guy walks straight up to me, with dreadlocks and i'm ready to get mugged (Thank you 16 year old stereotypes!) when he pipes up in a soft voice with his accent, "Would you like to buy some hash, man?"
This completely took me off guard. First, he was really nice about it. Second, he spoke to me like he was selling me scarlet begonias, not East Turkish smack. My reaction was just as novel and simple, saying, "No, thanks not right now." Yea, like *I* was gonna buy hash - I didn't even know what hash was.
"Right, well if you change your mind, I will be out here, man!", he chirps and walks away.
What the fuck? I'm pissing off the locals and making friends with the drug dealers? What kind of bizzaro shit has my life become?
My brother drags me away from the drug dealer and we party the night away at the club. The rest of the week involves us going to Barcelona, getting ripped off by 3 card monte players and learning the essential sentence, "Mas pan, por favor!" at the restaurants (they were poor college students). I got to watch some Flamenco dancing, drink real sangria, and check out an Albino gorilla at the Barcelona zoo (that was depressing because the poor thing was kept in a cage about 10x12 for its entire life).
But the one moment that I never forgot, aside from the whole story, and something I didn't write at the beginning, was when I saw my brother, for the first time getting off the plane in London. I hadn't seen K for about 3 months, and he was really happy to see a family member. It was the hug that I remember. Never since have I felt that much love in a single expression from him. It was simply a hug that maybe people get a few times in their lives. A hug where you can just feel the emotional connection, the bond that makes you family. I remember afterwards his eyes were welled up with tears and we were just smiling through those tears and happy to see each other - so happy, so overjoyed, to be reuinited. That is what I really remember from London. Even as I write these words now I can still feel the power of that hug and it makes me warm inside.