Things That Have Happened To Me Lately

It’s been many moons since I posted something here, and it’s not been because my life has been dull. I sit down to write blog posts sometimes and I draw a blank. I feel like I should write something edgy, hard-hitting, opinionated, something to stir the pot. Jeez, my son Joel has started a popular blog that turned into an occasional gig writing for The Week. He’s already had a commenter call him a moron. I’ll admit to being more than a little jealous.

However, since I don’t really feel like piling on with my thoughts about the Supreme Court’s ludicrous laughable controversial Hobby Lobby decision yesterday, I’ll just lay some of my recent adventures on you …

May 14. I’m one of four people in my boss’s car riding from Syracuse to eastern Long Island. I’m in the backseat, doing a little work-related reading that I never have time to do in the office. We’re about a half mile from the George Washington Bridge on a highway in New Jersey. Suddenly, I hear a BANG and feel a rather noticeable jolt. It seems a crater sinkhole car-eating monster from Tatooine really, really big pothole appeared in front of us and my boss had no way to avoid it. We pulled over, inspected the front tires, they looked okay, and we proceeded.

Halfway across one of the busiest bridges in the Northern Hemisphere, a guy in a black car pulled up next to us on the right, beeped his horn and pointed downward. It would seem that the front passenger tire was not as okay as it appeared at first glance. Point of fact, it was losing air at a somewhat alarming rate. This, my friends, is not good, not on that bridge. My boss kept it together long enough for us to take the first exit on the New York side of the bridge, then the first exit off the West Side Highway, and find a level, easily visible spot for us to park. Then she commenced chain-smoking.

Our hero with a scissor jack.

Our hero with a scissor jack.

We were at the corner of 171st Street and Amsterdam Avenue, which I’m told is in Morningside Heights – not the best neighborhood, but not the worst. I cemented my reputation in the office as a legend because I knew how to change a tire. This apparently is an unexpected skill. Too bad the spare tire was flat, too. After a visit from a Port Authority truck with an air compressor, a drive into the Bronx where we visited two tire shops, and a repair man gustily whacking the tire rim back into shape with a hammer, we eventually made it to the Long Island Expressway and arrived for the group dinner at a fine, white tablecloth restaurant with me wearing only the finest street grime on what started the day as a good pair of jeans.

May 23 and 24. Balticon, a science fiction/fantasy convention held each Memorial Day weekend in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Four of my favorite days of the year. This year was special, because a few of us had secretly plotted to throw a surprise celebration for Abbie Hilton, who wrapped up production this spring on her five-part Guild of the Cowry Catchers series. My job: Order a cake.


Is it cake or is it art?

One of the great things about Balticon is that there is a Wegmans supermarket almost literally across the street from the hotel. I went there before I even went to the hotel. They were able to screen print the image of the book one cover on the cake’s frosting. I was pretty pumped when I ordered it, but the end result blew my expectations away. This cake was such a work of art that I almost felt bad about eating three pieces of it. And I think Abbie was surprised. It’s not too often that you can pull off a real surprise, so that was pretty cool.


The Green Monster “appetizer” at Jerry Remy’s.

June 16. My youngest son Nathan and I hit the road for Boston to visit Joel. My Fathers’ Day gift was tickets to a Red Sox game at Fenway for Tuesday night, but we headed out there on Monday. Nathan’s only wish for the trip was to watch the USA’ s first World Cup match at a sports bar. Jerry Remy’s, which is right next door to Fenway Park, fit the bill nicely. We ordered what was advertised as an appetizer, but in truth it was a crapload tower of food. Eight sliders, one and a half pounds of chicken wings, and a plate of sweet potato fries. It was delicious, and beyond filling. So, of course we also got dessert. As we wobbled out of the restaurant, full and happy that the home team had beaten Ghana, a total stranger walked up to us and literally gave us three leftover tickets to that night’s Red Sox game. The game was half over, but the operative phrase was, “What the hell?” So we reversed course and went back to Fenway Park. Our seats were right behind the bullpens, and the Sox won a close one. My Fathers’ Day tickets were for the next night, so we ended up seeing a game and a half on this trip. It was probably our last visit to Boston for a while, as Joel is moving to New York soon. Not a bad way to close out his three years there.

So, that’s been some of my excitement. During the visit to Long Island, I was given an award, something that was as touching as it was unexpected. Balticon was the best one yet, and I missed all my friends before I’d even gotten on the highway to head home. Joel graduated from law school, one of the proudest days of my life. It’s been a nice few months. And summer’s just starting! What good things will the hot weather months bring? I’m looking forward to finding out.

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