Wednesday, December 30, 2009

226 – Random Rants as I Return to the Real World

After a week off, I found myself returning to the salt mines today. The bus/train shuffle on days like today totally blows. In the time I waited for the bus to show at the stop by my house I could have driven into my office. Ditto for the time I spent on the platform waiting for the train once I got to the Dunwoody station. This week is always VERY light on the traffic front..and lots of my personal time could have been saved with the use of a personal vehicle. Insert – sigh- here.
Though I have no idea how I did so, I’ve somehow downloaded John Mayer’s Pandora playlist onto my Iphone. Oddly enough, most of what he’s got on his list; I’ve already got on mine. His selections and the order in which they played stirred my emotions…specifically; I was reminded that of late, I miss having a significant other in my life. Hell, at this point I’d take an insignificant other.

Anyway, Heart of the Matter by Don Henley came on…I prefer the India Arie version but this was fine too…and that got me thinking about forgiveness. Something I struggle with. Something with which I think my whole family struggles with. The person I find hardest to forgive most of the time? Me. I think in 2010 I’ll take a lesson out of the Rhianna tattoo handbook and rather than berate myself for bad choices I’ll subscribe to the theory that when things don’t turn out as we had planned/hoped, we opt to see that there is “Never a failure, always a lesson.”

From there, Frank S. came on and I thought about how long it’s been since I fell asleep with a smile on my face thinking about a boyfriend. About how long it’s been since I’ve woken up in the morning just counting the minutes until I could see him again. I am starting to worry that I am incapable of having those feelings…should I ever embark on another relationship. Will I remember how to do this when the time comes? Is it like riding a bicycle?

And then Steve Ray Vaughan came on…and I was transported back to August 1990 and the driveway of my friend Mike. We had just started our senior year of high school and while I waited for him to come out to the car, DC101 announced Steve Ray had been killed in a helicopter crash. I wasn’t a big fan at the time, and really, I don’t have any idea why I even remember the announcement. But for some reason I do. And today, I thought about all the things that Steve Ray has missed since he left us in 1990…and I realized that while my life might not be the one I want, at least I still have one. And for that, I am more grateful than I can ever adequately express.
What’s that ugly orange color sprouting up all over the City, you ask? Why it’s the Tennessee Volunteer fan base invading for the Chick-fil-A Bowl!

Yes kids, they have arrived. They were in full force today at the Colony Square food court. The good news? That god awful orange stands out in a crowd…so you can easily avoid them. The bad news: they don’t know where they are going or what they are doing…and they are in no sort of rush to figure it out.

Reminds me of a joke my friend John used to say:
Why do Tennessee fans wear orange all weekend?
Because they can wear it huntin' on Friday, to Neyland Stadium on Saturday, and to pick up trash by the side of the road on Sunday.

I am sure as the week goes on I’ll start seeing a dearth of VT- ers in town for the game. And they too have a hideous orange associated with their school. (My favorite VT joke: You can’t spell conVicT without VT!)

Really, this IS the Orange Bowl folks….intentional or not…it’s the color du jour at this year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl. Orange you glad to know that?

Monday, December 21, 2009

235 – My Top 10 Christmas Movies

As has been previously stated, I am not so much a Christmas fan. I am more of a Groundhog Day/Halloween kinda girl. I guess I just prefer holidays that don’t illicit mass gatherings of family. Christmas is oftentimes too pressure filled for me to enjoy it. You rush, rush, rush to get everything done, to see everyone, to get to all the parties…and then, when all is said and done, you are left feeling exhausted rather than enriched. So, I’ll take a Groundhog Day brunch with a game of croquet any day over packed malls and traipsing around in the snow. And don’t even get me started on decorating. Yawn.

I do, however, enjoy my movies. So this morning on my way in, I decided to draft Cari’s Top 10 Christmas Flicks.

WARNING – this will be far from the traditional list. I’ve not seen most of the Christmas Classics…and I am most proud to claim the title of, “The Only Person on Earth Who Has Never Seen ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’”. Fact – My freshman roommate in college was from Indiana, PA - hometown of one Jimmy Stewart - and her grandma actually knew him..and I still won’t watch it. (And also, I saw Ferris at 31 Flavors last night…)

Without further ado, here’s my list of personal favorites in the Christmas genre: warning – there may be some spoilers!)

10 – Elf
When this first came out, I wasn’t a huge fan. Upon subsequent viewings (courtesy to the almost constant showing of it on USA/FX/TBS) it’s grown on me. Amazes me how Will Farrell can project such wonder on his face. The scene where Buddy confronts fake Santa is classic (You stink. You smell like beef and cheese! You don't smell like Santa). As is Buddy’s attempt to ride an escalator for the first time. A new Christmas Classic indeed.

9 – The Holiday
A chick-flicky Christmakka treat. Two strangers trade houses over the holidays to get away from their lives and the associated drama therein…only to create new and different dramas on the other side of the globe. Great cast, strong writing and lovely locales. And Iris’ speech about getting over someone and on with your life is just so heartbreaking…and true..that it burns. This is a two week life swap I’d love to emulate in my own life….except I don’t think anyone is clamoring for a visit to Sandy Springs. Or the whopping 711 SF that is the Chez Cari.

8 – Trading Places
Philly at Christmas. How that town got the nickname The City of Brotherly Love is beyond me. People there aren’t always the jolliest souls. Plus it’s usually grey there all winter long…which makes it cringe-worthy, if you ask me. However, the tale of a Richie and a Con Artist swapping places…and then taking down the bastages responsible for their reversal of fortune.. is wickedly funny. If I even think, “Looking good, Billy Ray!; Feeling good, Louis!" I go into a fit of hysterics. (sidebar – how odd is it that kids today think of Eddie Murphy solely as the voice of Donkey from Shrek? From RAW to Shrek? Am I the only one saying WTF?)

7 - Home Alone
While wildly far-fetched, this story of a forgotten boy and his acceptance of his situation always makes me smile. Kevin and I have a lot in common. We are both the youngest of large families. We were both scared of the basement at one point. And I’ll be the first to admit I, too, often wished everyone would go away and leave me alone when I was little. I know I felt, “This house is so full of people it makes me sick!” on more than one occasion. (Point in case – I actually lobbied to go to boarding school…unsuccessfully, I might add). Even as an adult, I (every year) consider not traveling home for the pandemonium that is my family Christmas. But in end, I’ve yet to miss one. And I guess because like Kevin, I realize that someday I might really be all alone..and it might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

6 – While You Were Sleeping
This movie came out in the Spring of 1995..and I saw it in July at the theater.  Talking about staying power at the multiplex. Perfect timing as I needed an escape from both the brutal summer heat and the brutal breakup that was on the cusp with my then soon-to-be ex-college boyfriend. Another very well written, superbly cast movie. From Grandma down to fellow Mass Transit worker, the cast hits this one out of the ballpark. Even the guy in the coma pulls his weight. My favorite line in the movie? “If you can fit in my jeans, I will kill myself!” The case for head trauma has never been more appealing.

5 – Die Hard
It’s beginning to look like chaos at Nakatomi Plaza! NYC cop comes to LA for an estranged family Christmas… and instead has to battle some cash crazy terrorists who’ve crashed the Nakatomi holiday party. And he does this while barefoot. Witty banter, Reginald Veljohnson and the effective use of "CHRISTMAS IN HOLLIS" by Run-DMC make this a seasonal must see! Favorite line (and it’s not the one you think…) –“Nine million terrorists in the world and I gotta kill one with feet smaller than my sister.” Pennsville is proud Bruce Willis!

Now this is where it’s going to get hard kids….any of these four could actually be number one on any given day….all depends on my mood. Needless to say, this is the most fluid part of the list.

4 – Christmas Vacation
Oh the good, old fashioned family Christmas! With booze. And tears. And insensitive guests. And lest we forget, the Squirrel. Riotously funny. And the details, my God! The use of the Wally World punch bowl set for Egg Nog? Genius! Whenever I am channel surfing and come upon this gem, I have to stop and ride the Griswold Christmas wave. Thank god they didn’t listen to Rusty and head to Hawaii for the holiday.

3 – Better Off Dead
For the better part of my existence I’ve been utterly draw to John Cusack..or more correctly, his characters..and this movie is the reason why. Sure, I saw and liked Say Anything but for me it all really started with Better Off Dead (or quite possibly, Sixteen Candles where he played Brice). The story of a freshly dumped semi- outsider and how he copes a) with his heartbreak, b) his crazy and out-of-it family, c) a devilish paperboy and d) all the other trials and tribulations of his high school existence. He likes Salisbury steak frozen dinners…so naturally, his mother buys him a CASE for Christmas. He gets in a drag race with Howard Cosell obsessed Japanese brothers. And he “skis on one ski.” Lane Meyer, you are the man. And I think Beth still rues the day she let you go.

2 – The Ref
This movie puts the FUN in dysfunctional. Denis Leary in his most frayed rope role yet. Forced to take a couple hostage to get himself out of a jam, he soon discovers they bicker all the time (Great, I hijacked my f(*&^ing parents.) And then he finds out the the rest of the family is to join them. And let me tell you, when the rest of the gang (in-laws, kid, siblings) arrives, these folks make the Manson Family look like the Waltons. As my dad would say, there is a lot of “rough language” in this one, but if you can get past that I promise you will howl with laughter, “I know loan sharks who are more forgiving than you. Your husband ain't dead, lady. He's hiding.”

1 – A Christmas Story
The quest for the bb gun. The flagpole scene. The Easter bunny outfit. The Bumpus hounds. A few glimpses into why I and so many others love this movie. But for me, there is another reason. I saw this movie with my Dad in 1983 over Christmas break. My father was about the same age as Ralphie Parker during the era in which the movie is set. I remember hearing my father’s laughter in that theater like it was yesterday. I remembered thinking for the first time that my dad wasn’t always my dad. That he too had in fact been a child once. I got to see what my father at 10 might have looked like and he got to relive some memories from his youth. And we both walked out of the theater with sore stomachs from laughing so much. Dad’s not the movie buff I am so it would be 15 years before we went to see another movie together. And that one was Titanic….a story that his father (my grandfather) remembered hearing about as a five year old who just happened to be the one who brought in the newspaper the day the story ran.

This will be my last post of the week (unless I have some worthy tale from my air travels over the next few days) so I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas/Kwanzaa. May we all find comfort and joy in our own unique ways!

238 – Happy Hour Train Ride

There is something special about a Friday evening commute after a short Happy Hour. One vodka tonic and one Sweetwater 420 after Happy Hour commenced, I found myself being dropped off at the Arts Center Station for the homeward journey.

As luck would have it, the North Springs train rolled in just as I got to the platform. And so as we weaved our way northbound, I was in a very relaxed state. It was almost as if the rocking motion of the train was lulling me to sleep. And while the car traffic was brutal, even the red taillights provided a festive nature to what I am sure was a typical Friday nightmare-ish commute.

Given that the traffic was so bad, that the bus invariably wouldn’t be on time as a result of said traffic, and the high number of folks traversing the roadways, I opted to walk home from Sandy Springs this evening even though it was a little darker than normal. Safety in numbers and all that, you know.

With my Pandora set to Holiday Music, a crisp chill in the air, and lightness in my step, I guess you could say I was walking in my own winter wonderland. Even if I am not really a fan of Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

239 – A Different Route on a Different Day

Tonight I had to haul my cookies to my hairdresser’s for a much overdo trim and chat session with the best hair guy in the world, one Mr. John K.

I plotted my route with the precision of a military offensive. And fortunately the trains and buses rain like clockwork. And let me tell you, the 5 from Lindbergh is one popular route.

I naively thought I’d get the chance to sit and finish my book. Yeah, not so much. It was standing room only by the time I boarded. But hey, at least it was where it was supposed to be when it was supposed to be there.

Praise the lord and pass the offering plate…I made to my appointment with about 10 minutes to spare!

John and I chatted about music, his experience running a half marathon recently, Glee, my recent realization that I miss that feeling of being excited when I see someone (translation, I need a boyfriend, stat), Jake Gyllenhaal, holiday plans, our wild families, and finally, what we plan to do (or avoid) New Year’s Eve. And when all was said and done, my hair looked fabulous as it always does when John works his magic and I felt sufficiently caught up on all things John.

And then, in the true Christmas spirit, John was kind enough to drop me off at home when we were all finished so I wouldn’t have to brave the cold and dark and ride yet another Marta bus. I’m lucky to have him as a hairdresser…even luckier to have him as a friend. In this season of miracles, I count this one as not only a miracle, but also a blessing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

240 – The Wind Beneath my Skirt…the lesser known follow up to The Wind Beneath my Wings

A 20 degree temperature swing in a single day can present a bit of a wardrobe challenge. Never fails…I always wear a skirt the day a) the temperature falls like Tiger’s approval rating and b) the wind whips up and makes walking without flashing a challenge. If only I had weights I could attach to my skirt hem…then I wouldn’t have to worry. Or maybe I should go back to what I did in 2nd grade when I wore skirts…I wore shorts underneath them. What can I say, I was unwilling to NOT go on the jungle gym or slide into second base just because I had a skirt on.

One the way home, I had a special guest star pop up. As I disembarked at Sandy Springs I happened to look across the track and see my friend Watkins waiting for the Southbound train. So of course I had to wave and say hi. Fortunately, he knew it was me because if he hadn’t realized who I was I perish the thought of how embarrassed I’d have been. Anyhow, we shouted pleasantries over two set of tracks for a few minutes to catch up. He and his lovely wife are headed to Knoxville for Christmas; I extolled about my impending trip to the Metro DC area. We discussed NYE plans (are you going to the game? No. You? Me neither). It was a nice surprise to see him. And I must say, shouting MERRY CHRISTMAS over two sets of train tracks just seconds before his train rolled in finally got me in the Christmas spirit.

Maybe because I actually meant it?…that is until I started the walk home and again had to worry about that damn skirt.

241 – My Mother once said that since I liked to read she was never worried that I’d be Lonely.

I’ve no idea what that means, but that is Joan for you.

So my blog entries of late on here have been rather subdued. I can only attribute this to the books I’ve been reading on the train and bus. They’ve sucked me into their stories much like Alice when she went down the rabbit hole. I’ve not noticed things because I’ve been wrapped up in these tales. Which is great for making the commute fly by..but makes it hard to observe everything else going on around me.

I’ve burned through eight or so Charlaine Harris books since mid-November. Additionally, I’ve finished two books by Nicolas Sparks (why can’t we ever get a happy ending from that man?!); a book about Mary Bennet (as in Elizabeth Bennet Darcy’s sister) written by Colleen McCullough (author of The Thorn Birds) and another book comprised of two short stories that I got at Publix a week or so ago.

Needless to say, I’m almost out of reading material, so if anyone has any suggestions for good books to read as we move into 2010, please let me know. Other than Neal Stephenson and Cryptonomicon-ish works I am fairly open to all genres.

Monday, December 14, 2009

244 - Friday Funday

So the commute Friday rocked. The train came right into the Arts Center station as I made my way down the escalator....and the bus was waiting at the Dunwoody station when I got there. I was home in less than an hour! (this takes some of the sting out of the other hellish days I encountered last week.)

Bad news is my home computer monitor has gone on strike and I can't get it to work. (This is why the Friday post isn't showing up til Monday.) In my attempt to fix it, I managed to break my desk. That's right, trying to move it by myself resulted in me pulling the back panel out of one of the side panels.

Fortunately, I was able to rig it so it didn't come crashing down. Unfortunately, I was unable to secure Clapton tickets as the screen kept crapping out. And I am super pissed about that.

Anyway, my computer is very old and very slow and this monitor issue is the straw that broke the camel's back I think. Looks like I'll be braving the crowds the day after Christmas to secure a new, faster laptop. Wasn't in the budget but if I can find a good deal I can make it work...and eat cereal for a few weeks to make up for the expenditure.

Until then, there will be a short lag in post time. And I am sure you are just crushed to hear that.

Friday, December 11, 2009

245 - I Got Lucky Today

Ok, get your mind out of the gutter.

A friend was kind enough to pick me and transport me to a meeting at the crack of dawn...and then later, give me a ride home from one of the few holiday parties that was held last night in Midtown.

And given the super cold temps I am forever grateful!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

246 - A Tale of Two Commutes

AM - Are You Pulling a Plow?

I want my usual morning driver back. (See post 248)

This new AM guy is for the birds. He's got zero personality and drives about as fast as syrup making its escape from a maple tree in the dead of winter. Seriously that bulldog that rides the skateboard on YouTube goes faster than we do in the morning. It's madness.

PM - I Stand Corrected

So tonight I got to the bus pick up location a few minutes BEFORE departure time. And the bus still didn't show. Today it apparently left early...which is, I guess, a nice change of pace from yesterday when it didn't show it all..or at least not until an hour after it was scheduled to arrive.

Unwilling to wait 25 minutes again tonight in the hope that the bus might show at the appointed time of 6:05, I got back on the train and headed to the Sandy Springs station.

I then walked home. And it was dusk but by no mean pitch black, as I described in yesterday's blog. (I guess the level of darkness I described yesterday was the result of the storm that rolled in)

In any case, made my way home in the twilight and I realized I am much more a sunset person than a sunrise person. If I had my way I'd spend every sunset sitting on a beach somewhere watching the sun sink under the sea..and then look above to stars.

Chances are if I see a sunrise, it means I am coming home from somewhere and I just happened to catch the start of the day. Don't get me wrong, I love the quiet of the mornings but given a choice I'd take a sunset over a sunrise any day of the week.

There is something about sunsets...and maybe someday I'll get to sit still long enough to figure out why I have been, and continue to be, drawn to them. Until then, I'll continue enjoy my twilight walks and ponder.

247 – AHWD - Another Hellish Weather Day.

So tonight I missed the bus by 5 minutes. This is just insult to injury; as now I can’t even walk from Sandy Springs Marta to my house if I miss the bus because it’s pitch black by 5:30. Hurry up December 21st (for those not knowing, that is the Winter Solstice and the days will start to get longer again starting the next day.) Add the slashing rain to the mix and you can see why I opted to skip the evening hike.

But the wait wasn’t too long (or so I thought!) and figured I’d read some of my book while I waited for the 6:05 edition. Gave me 25 minutes of reading time, which I am always grateful for. Score.

You can imagine my disdain when the bus finally rolled in at 6:40 PM. That’s right kids; one hour and twenty minutes after I got off the train I finally had a bus to board. It was cold, it was rainy, and it was dark. And the ride home was so herky jerky thanks to the traffic I almost ralphed. More than once.

I finally got home at 7:06…a staggering TWO HOURS after I walked out of my office in Midtown. I was in my PJs by 7:11. I was not happy. But I did finish a 300 page novel I started on Monday afternoon, so I guess that is the upshot. Of course my ass was frozen but hey, you can’t have it all, right?

248 – Dude, Where’s my Bus Driver?

My usual driver didn’t greet me this morning. My usual driver always says good morning and waits for me to take a seat before he takes off after picking me up. My usual driver often chit chats with the riders as we make our way to the Dunwoody station. He’s very friendly and loves talking about current events..and how crazy folks are in the world. (And as a MARTA driver, I am sure he’s seen a slew of them up close and personal.)

Today, I did not have my usual driver.

Today’s driver was female, disengaged from her riders and was on a mission to get to the station. She actually spoke to the cars in front of the bus telling them to get a move on. This thrilled me as I thought I was the only one who yelled MOVE when some doofus didn’t get his rickshaw moving fast enough to suit me. She might not have been friendly but she was fast…and I’ll take it. If that is what it gets to get me to the station in time for the top of the hour train, she can yodel for all I care.

But it was a weird way to start to the week. My AM driver is the first person I speak to in the morning. Sometimes, he’s the first person I've spoken to since Saturday night…Sundays I tend to hermit crab a bit. Not seeing him there kind of threw me off. And I made it all the way to the office before I uttered two words to anyone. Odd indeed.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

251 - 114 days

As of today, I've been at this no car thing for 114 days. (Please note this includes weekends too and thus days that I haven't had to commute..that's why there aren't 114 posts.)

In terms of work, Marta is working out just fine. Sure, I don't like having to strictly adhere to their time tables nor do I care for spending parts of my day in the rain and cold. But by and large, it's not that bad. Even Zipcar seems to have gotten the kinks worked out.

On the personal front, it's much harder. No bus on the weekend means if I go anywhere I have to walk or cab it. Which is fine so long as I stay close to home. A mile walk to the grocery with a $5 cab ride back on occasion isn't too terrible.

It's getting to see friends that is the real challenge. A fifteen minute cab ride to visit my friends who live 10 miles away is cost prohibitive. So, I don't see them all that often any more. For my friends that live further away, it's even worse.

That said, I still think I made the smartest choice I could back in August. Had I taken on a car payment just as our pay cuts were activated I'd be in the hole every month before I even got my paycheck.

So unless Santa arrives with a free and mechanically well maintained vehicle for me I'm staying on this path. Wonder if he'd give me a ride on his sleigh up to Roswell. Hhmmmm.

252 - Apparently all the crazy people were at the Mall this evening

Dear Perimeter Mall -
I am very thankful you are on the Marta line. Makes my life so much easier. And other than your recent removal of Crate and Barrel, the store lineup is very strong.

That said, you have a serious problem. It's the kiosk vendors.

They have been notoriously bad in the past. On more than one occasion, I've taken to walking through the mall with my cell phone to my ear pretending to have a conversation so they won't pounce on me. I am sad to report it is getting worse.

After I made a return to a store, I actually considered going back outside, into the cold and dark alone, to cut across the parking lot to avoid these effers on my way to Macy's. After a minute or two of debate I decided that the outside option was probably not the safest bet. Maybe I was overreacting.

I wasn't.

As I started from the Clark' store I was on the upper level and I immediately decided to go down a level as to avoid the Shiatsu massage pushers. Only to then be bombarded by someone who was having a "cash for clunkers" program for cell phones. Huh?

I got past him and some chick hawking lotion and was relatively safe in the food court area...then I made I right to get to Macy's. It was like a live fish had thrown into the piranha tank. I kid you not, they started circling and I swear I heard the Jaws theme playing over the PA system. For the record:
  • No, you can't ask me a question.
  • I am not discussing what makeup I wear with you.
  • No, I don't need to discuss my cellular plan.
  • No, you can't have a minute of my time.
  • And while it was very nice of you to comment about how pretty my eyes are, that will not get me to stop and look at a product that I have no need or desire for. Even I am not that shallow.

This over the top, follow you through the mall behavior has got to stop. I know business is slow but folks, stop stalking the shoppers. We know you are there. We are bright enough to figure out what you are selling, and if we aren't, we as a human race are usually curious enough to stop and found out what all the hubbub is about.

This tirade doesn't apply to the hair girls or the upstairs sunglasses vendor. Those ladies rock...they are always friendly without being pushy. That is the one part of the mall I don't dread while shopping. These other kamikaze kiosk workers make the rest of my visits shear hell.

Once I finally made it to Macy's I stayed there for the remainder of my shopping trip. Fortunately they had everything I needed (and were having HUGE sale) so I didn't have to go back into the shark infested waters of the general mall area. Which is a shame because I may have actually found another deal or two...but it just wasn't worth it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

One Day, Three Posts

I’ve been remiss about posting this week. What can I say? Having a short week last week spoiled me I think. Anyway, here is the latest:
255 – Monday MondayThe first day back after the long weekend. Uneventful journey to and fro. Still engrossed in my novel so my trips fly by. Have started weaning myself from Pandora..simply because I get so occupied with both forms of media that I wouldn’t even notice if the person sitting next to me were to spontaneously combust. Which is not good (or safe) when riding mass transit.
254 – Tuesday’s gone With the WindFirst day of December so I had to break out my new monthly fare card. This, of course, didn’t work. And I had neither cash, nor my personal Breezecard on me. Oh happy day. I was able to get into the train station thanks to the kindness of a fellow bus passenger who hooked me up when we got to the station. Otherwise I’d have been hitting folks up for spare change at the Dunwoody station just to get to work.
Once I disembarked the train at Arts Center, I asked a Marta employee how I could get a replacement card. Her answer? Travel to Five Points or Lindberg and they’d replace it. Really? And how do you suggest I get there…what with a NON FUNCTIONING MARTA CARD AND ALL? Thanks for the help. Nice to see you have the ability to think outside of the box. Moron.
Anyway, when I made it to the office I found out I wasn’t the only one who had problems with the card. Everyone’s pass had to be replaced so a courier was called to get new ones for us. PTL. Hopefully Wednesday's commute will go better.

Monday, November 30, 2009

260 - Thanksgiving Eve

Nothing gets you in the mood for a festive Thanksgiving like hitting the grocery store the afternoon before kick off.

Fortunately, the store was very calm...a blessing and a curse. I got through fast, but then had to wait 20 minutes for the bus. And while it was a very pretty day, I did admit that having a car rightaboutnow would have been great...would have saved some serious time.

But one train and two buses later I arrived home with all the needed ingredients for green bean casserole. And I rethought the whole Iwantacar-rightnow thing when we crossed the Perimeter and I saw traffic wasn't moving at all. In any direction.

So, I'll take a 20 minute wait in the pretty weather every time, thanks.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

261 - Geez...what a Grinch!

I got up super early Tuesday and hustled to catch the 7:13 bus. It was cold, it was dark, it wasn't fun.

The train rolled into the station just as I got to the platform and I hopped on. Score!

Unfortunately in my haste to get a seat, I stepped on a lady's foot. I immediately apologized and she just scowled at me. Nice to see she's in the holiday spirit.

Upon further reflection I should have told her to get her big ass feet out of the aisle. If she can't be bothered to move them out of the way who am I to have to slalom around them? Life will continue to be hard for her if she thinks everyone is going to bob and weave around her.

Fortunately, the day got better as it went on. And I didn't train home last night, so I didn't have to worry about Little Miss Sunshine and her callous disregard for the Marta aisle.

Monday, November 23, 2009

262 - Bomb Threats aren't how I wanted to start my Monday

Apparently a pair of bomb threats were called into Marta this morning. Both the Atlanta Police Department and the Five Points Marta received calls pertaining to bombs on the system.

After extensive searches of the trains and the stations, with bomb sniffing dogs to boot, authorities didn't find anything. Which is a-ok with me.

Hopefully this was A) a prank (not funny) or B) the act of someone running woefully behind schedule for work who needed a good excuse for being tardy.

If A, don't quit your day job. If B, set your alarm clock need to instill fear and panic (and what I imagine are hefty costs associated with a search) to CYA with the boss.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

265 - What are the Chances?

Friday night I was on the bus heading home. We were stopped at a traffic signal and as the light turned green there was a swift breeze that blew some leaves off the surrounding trees. As we started to advance with the traffic, one lovely red leaf fell into the bus.

Marta buses have a sort of sun roof, for lack of a better word. The driver had the one at the front of the bus open. And this lovely leaf floated on the breeze and into our moving vehicle. It was just amazing to see the timing...had the breeze come later, had the driver accelerated faster, it wouldn't have happened. There just would have been one more leaf on the road.

The odds of this sort of thing happening have to be slim. And I am sure I'll never witness something like this again. But it reminded me of a lesson I very often forget; everything happens when it is supposed to. Best to stop trying to control the wind and just go with the flow.

It's funny what you can learn from a leaf...and a Marta bus.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

267 - Friends in Various Places

So tonight I boarded the train per the usual. I was just starting book five of the Sookie Stackhouse series and listening to a little Sinatra/Nat King Cole when I felt a tap on my shoulder. (sidebar - how awesome is Nat King Cole's voice? I firmly believe that if silk could speak it would sound just like him. I am miffed I never got the chance to see him perform...fortunately I did get to see Sinatra once before he passed.)

Anyway, I thought perhaps it was some nice guy offering me his seat. It was better than was my compadre Peter! He works for an architectural firm just down the street from my office and we've teamed with them a time or two in pursuit of some projects. Also, we both belong to a professional organization within our industry, so we've known each other for some time. Peter is good people.

We chit chatted about our families, the upcoming holidays, etc. And he introduced me to one of his co-workers who was also riding in our car. Les, his coworker, looked really familiar and lo and behold we figured out we'd met when he was working at Georgia Tech. I tell you, it really is a small world.

Anyway, I looked at my watch to see if I was going to be able to catch the 5:35 bus and I was just going to miss it. Before I even looked up from my watch Peter was offering to drop me off at home. How nice is that?

Folks, let me tell you, the traffic here is to unbearable most days. There have been days when I've spent more time sitting on the bus traveling 2 miles than I have walking to the train and taking the 11 mile ride out to my stop. So the offer of a ride is no small thing here in Atlanta.

We hopped in Peter's Civic and took the back way to my house and it saved me 35 minutes...or at least it wasn't really dark yet and I had thought about walking home from the train station closest to my house (which is incidentally not where I catch the bus). I know, I know, walking alone isn't always the most accepted mode of transport for a person, but sometime you gotta do what you gotta do.

So muchas gracias to Peter for being such a kind Samaritan. And he can rest assured should I ever get wheels again, I'll be the first to offer him a lift should he ever need one.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

268 - Kicking off the Day with some Night...

..Night Fever, that is. Yes, I am referring to the Bee Gees classic.

Guess what? They have a station on Pandora too. I am sure this shocks you. Not.

Personally, I can't think of a better way to begin my Wednesday...because it seems to me this week is dragging. Anyone else feel it's going by slower than a herd of baby turtles stampeding through peanut butter?

Anyone? Anyone? Frye? Frye?

TTFN...the laundry, dusting and my book are calling. Sometimes it is hard to live this rock star lifestyle.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

269 - Gridiron Gab

So tonight I got into an engaging conversation with my evening bus driver regarding the NFL this season.

A few weeks back this guy was stunned to find out a girl was a true sports fan. I mean he was flabbergasted. I assured him I come from a long line of ladies who love their sports. Point in case - my aunt once threw her shoe at the TV when the Packers made a terrible call on 3rd and 13. Not to mention when my college gang gets together it's the girls who are glued to the TV for the Mountaineer games..the guys tend to wander in and out to see what we are yelling about.

Anyway, the driver is a Dolphins fan. I refer to the Dolphins franchise as "The Fighting Fish from Florida" but really I don't feel strongly one way or the other about them. This year they do hold a special place in my heart as they drafted Pat White (from WVU)..and because I adore him, I hope they do well. But other than that they really aren't on my NFL radar.

I am, in general, a NFC East girl. Specifically, I affiliate with the Redskins. It's been a rough couple of years for me. Sunday was a miracle in my eyes as A)we beat Denver (who I do hate with fire of a thousand word: Elway.) and B)we managed to score more than 17 points for the first time all season. A W is a W and I'll take one any way we can at this point.

We got to talking about the unfortunate 3rd down call the Patriots made Sunday against Indy. For the life of us, neither he nor I could come up with a good reason for such a poor play calling. I am sure there must be some method to Coach B's madness...but about a crash and burn. I am all about showing faith in your defense but with a 5 point lead and roughly 2 minutes left that is asking a lot of any line. Maybe if you are playing a crap team that play works out but - hello - you are playing Indy..and more importantly, Peyton Manning.

Don't get me wrong, I hold no affection for the Colts. They will forever be the team that packed up in the middle of the night and bolted out of Maryland like a bunch of criminals. I was 10 at the time and lived about 25 miles down the road from them...and that sort of thing leaves a mark, ya know. (This is also why I loathe the Broncos in general and John Elway in particular, but we can get into that another time). And I think Peyton is a great player and a decent human in general but I've never swigged the Manning Kool-Aid that others often offer.

From there we discussed the lackluster performance of Brady Quinn during the Monday Night F(*& up of a game. Three seasons in and he went 13 for 31 in completed passes for the night. And this guy is starting? Not that the Ravens brought their A game but wow that is really bad. Mangini might want to get his resume ready for the Buffalo head coaching position that just opened up.

We covered a lot in our 8 minute ride but I don't think we answered any questions.

For those interested, I'm once again co-writing this Sunday's upcoming picks with my friend Julie (Alabama Julie not North Carolina via Boston Julie). She does her picks based on random topics that have ZERO to do with the actual NFL. I think this week she's using a True Blood slant. If you want to see what she and I concoct, you can check out the post on Facebook...or if there is a demand here I can certainly post them. Just let me know in the comments section if you'd like me to do so.

Oddly enough, and even with this weird method, Julie is doing better at picking the weekly winners than most of the dudes on ESPN. So yeah, there are some girls out here that like sports for real.

Monday, November 16, 2009

270 - Once More With Feeling

Today's title comes from the best installment of the Buffy the Vampire series. This is a great episode where the Sunnydale resident are cursed with only communicating through songs...showtune-ish songs at that. It is simply marvelous...I watch it whenever the opportunity presents itself.

To that end I decided to see if Pandora had a GLEE portal, if you will, and low and behold they do! I specifically wanted to hear their versions of Defying Gravity from Wicked. Sadly, that one hasn't popped up the rotation yet but WOW am I thrilled to have found this station. It's got Glee tunes, songs from Rent, Hairspray, get the idea. I am not embarrassed to admit that I was singing along to Good Morning Baltimore this morning while I waited for the bus. No worries..I was the only one at the stop.

Tonight as I walked to the train Be Our Guest from Disney's Beauty and the Beast came on. I tell you, it was all I could do to not reenact the dance number that accompanies that tune.

The best thing about Pandora is you can select various artists and they play that artist as well as similar acts in that particular genre. So far I have "stations" set up for the following:
  • Jay Z - which also leads me to Nas, Ice Cube and the like
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - which segues to Green Day, Incubus, etc.
  • Oasis - which puts me on the path to Coldplay, Radiohead and even the Beatles (ironic, huh?)
  • Nirvana - which make me miss Mr. Cobain greatly and guides me to Soundgarden, Pearl Jam et al
  • Jim Croce - Really, does anyone NOT cry when they hear Operator? Plus I get a healthy dose of JT (James Taylor for TNITK), Simon & Garfunkle, and Fleetwood Mac, etc.
  • And finally, the Claude Debussy station which provides fab tunes from not only Claude but also Chopin, Ravel and Mozart to list just a few.

Seriously, whoever thought up this Music Genome Project is nothing short of a genius. I just wish had been me.

So if you hear a tall blonde singing Miss Baltimore Crabs tomorrow do not be alarmed. This is normal behavior for a Pandora user...I think.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

275 – Veteran's Day

I got up early this AM to get into work early. Sadly, a misplaced Marta card (was in my rain coat and not packed in my backpack as it should have been) caused me to miss the 7:13 bus. So, I ended up with an extra 25 minutes to kill. I have no idea what I did with this time, by the way. I am still not used to functioning at such a high level in the morning. I may have eaten breakfast but I cannot be sure.

I caught the 7:45 bus and was able to make the 8:01 train by the skin of my teeth. If I hadn’t run up the stairs and darted on the train as the doors shut I’d have been really screwed. (Not to mention I’d have been soaked too. I am not even going there…even I am tired of bitching about the rain.)

I stood as we made our way to Midtown, content to lean against the back wall of the train car while finishing the last few pages of Living Dead in Dallas. And as a result I almost missed my stop. Seriously, if the train had been a bit more crowded I would have never made it off in time.

The upshot is I finished book two of the Sookie Stackhouse series…which I started Friday AM and didn’t touch over the weekend. So yeah, I was kinda into it. I’m waiting to start book three until tomorrow AM when I’ve got to make my way to Hartsfield for what are becoming monthly trips to Houston. Actually, I think I am going to take books three and four along as I think that I can realistically finish both in the four plus hours I’ll ultimately be on the plane..and that is if we encounter no delays…which is never the case when flying Delta.

This will be my final post of the week so I leave you all with a special shout out to all our Veterans who have served and are currently serving in the Armed Forces. Thanks for all you do to keep the rest of us save. And if you are in the mood to really celebrate our Vets today check out this new documentary:
P.O.V. - The Way We Get By
Wednesday, November 11, 10:00pm on 8 (GPB/Georgia Public Broadcasting)

"The Way We Get By" relates the stories of three senior citizens who, as part of the "Maine Troop Greeters," thank soldiers at a Bangor, Maine, airport who are arriving from or departing for Afghanistan and Iraq---some 800,000.

To find out when it’s airing in your area visit:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

276 - Thanks for the Offer of a Lift Beth!

Today was another thrashing downpour, this time courtesy of Ida.

Clearly, my foray into mass transit commuting has sparked an end to the drought that has plagued my region for so long. If only I had known I that my use of transit and foot would cure us of critical water shortages perhaps I would have started this experiment sooner.

While waiting for the bus this evening, I received a call from my friend Beth who offered to give me a ride home so I wouldn't have to be out in the elements. The bus pulled up while we were on the phone so I declined her very kind offer. But still, it was very nice that she thought of me...particularly on a day when A) traffic was a nightmare and B) when I really am out of her way.

Finally, happy birthday USMC and Sesame Street. Both are celebrating the day they came into existence today...and I am thankful for both in very different ways.

Tomorrow I plan to attend the Veteran's Day parade that travels down Peachtree Street to give a proper thanks to our service men and women. If you are in the area I encourage you to come out too. Parade kicks off at Pershing Point (rather fittingly) at 12Noon. Come out if your schedule permits. Semper fi.

Monday, November 9, 2009

277 - Somebody has a Case of the Mondays

Is it just me or is everyone having a tough time adjusting to the time change this year? I have no problem getting up in the AM...but at night I am simply exhausted. I feel like I should be going to bed right when I get home. I guess because it is sooo dark out. The older I get, the harder the time changes seem to affect me.
Had a great weekend with my friend Kristin. She came down for the Redskins game (if you can call it that) and while the Redskins didn't win (and truthfully we didn't expect them to) she did have great weather and some tasty food while she was here.
Somewhere between my house, the GA Dome and the Midtown Marta station I lost my monthly Marta pass. This is the SECOND time I've done this. Must come up with a better/more secure way to travel without losing it. So, this month's commutes are on my dime. Yay.
Finally, I was listening to 98Rock this morning while waiting for the bus. They were lamenting the Ravens loss to Cinci yesterday. Mickey's silver lining statement of the day, "It could be a whole lot worse. We could be further down 95 by the Capitol Beltway." Ouch. Way to throw the Redskins under the bus Mick.

Friday, November 6, 2009

280 - Onto the Next...

Well, I finished Dead Until Dark this morning in the doctor's office. Must say I liked it..though I did figure it out before the end.

I've now moved onto Living Dead in two of the series. So far, it is off to another interesting start. 22 pages in and I am already forming my opinions about what's happened so far and how it will all play out.

Tonight a good friend from home is coming in for the Redskin Falcons game on Sunday. So long about 8PM you'll find me again on the train making my way to the airport. If you see someone headed southbound reading LDID, chances are it will be me!

Have a great weekend and Let's Go Redskins!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

281 - And I thought I had a Bad Day

Today was rough for a variety of reasons. Lots of last minute deadlines at work, some personal issues cropping up. All in all I left the office feeling totally drained and a bit defeated.

I got on the train and fired up Pandora and tried to forget about everything. But for some reason in the midst of my ride I fired up USA TODAY and saw the horrific news about the Fort Hood shootings.

I read no further than the headline. I don't know anything other than 12 people were killed and scores were injured...and that the alledged shooter was a solider. An immediate wave of nauceouness hit me and I simply shut down the webpage. I just couldn't take it.

God help the victims. God help all of us who seem to be rendered helpless on an almost daily basis by random and incomprehensible acts of violence in this world. It makes no sense to me. And frankly, I'm tired of trying to figure out why these sorts of things happen.

282 - This has been my Favorite Train Ride so far (Wednesday post)

Tonight I detoured from my usual route home and met up with two of my former roommates for dinner. One is still local; the other has moved about 2 hours away. So, the opportunities for all of us to get together are not as often as we’d like.

I lived with these two when we were still girls in our 20s. They had roomed together at Georgia Tech and continued to do so after graduation. That they opened their door and hearts to me and allowed me to join them still baffles me. And maybe most impressive is they never made me feel like a third wheel..even though I came to the game late.

While we did have bumps in the road, namely me dealing with such a crushing depression that I can’t fathom A) how I didn’t know I was in it until it was over and B) how they tolerated me. But by and large we had a great time together. We hosted parties, road tripped, discussed and disagreed about politics. We all know each other’s parents, siblings, and pets. They’ve both married and I was honored to assist each in different ways the day of the big events. And now with husbands and children and distance we still take a moment here and there to just check in, say hi and reconnect.

I sometimes fret at my state of being in this World. I feel bad because I haven’t found “the one”; because I may never find “the one” and have my own family; because I am not as far along with my career as I had hoped; because I am not as thin as I once was; because I wasted many, many years on relationships (both social and romantic) that at best were not nearly as serious as I had thought… and at worst proved to be rather toxic.

But then I remember these two roommates, and my roommates from college who I am still very close with as well, and I think of how through all these years they have always loved me and supported me. Even at times when I’ve not been very loveable. Even at times when they perhaps needed me to help them more than I’ve needed them to help me. Even when they may not have agreed with my choices. Even when I said I didn’t need them and blocked out their concerns and advice.

I may not be good at many things, but I do believe I am very good at picking friends. And if that is to be my legacy after I am gone, if that is what I am going to known for, I think I am OK with that. After all, aren’t friends the families we’d choose if we could?

So while BHBHL might look like gibberish to you, to me it reminds me that I am not alone in this sometimes scary World. And for that I will forever be thankful….and grateful.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

283 - I Really Did Take the Soul Train in Today

The train car I hopped on this AM was wrapped in advertisement film for the upcoming Soul Train Awards scheduled to be held in Atlanta on 11/29. It was totally tripped out in the old school Soul Train fonts and colors. It looked AWESOME..and so does the line up for the show!

(For more information about the award show visit

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to get down like James Brown…and I’ll try and snap a shot of the Don Cornelius-inspired train car. It would seem “the hippest trip in America” is my ride into Midtown for work.

Who knew?

Monday, November 2, 2009

284 - I Love it When Technology Works

So today was my first commuting day with my new IPhone.

The morning commute was spent catching up with my bus driver and fellow passengers. While on the train I dove back into the book du jour.

This evening I did my first commuting Tweet from the phone. Instant snark provided IRT courtsey of yours truly. I got to tweet while listening to my favorite radio station from back home in MD...98Rock...while on a train 600 miles from the station location. It was pretty cool.

I am still trying to figure out the ins and outs of the IPhone but so far I've managed to not to start WWW3 by accidentally launching our nuclear missiles. So I've got that going for me...which is nice.

If anyone has tips on how to best maximize Pandora, please post in the comments section here. I can't seem to get more than three songs to play in a row. I did find the Nirvana and Debussy I am not totally clueless.

And finally, if you want to follow me on Twitter just look for MassTransitChik...that's me.

That is all for now....Seacrest out.

287 – Everybody’s Working for the Weekend (Friday, October 30th)

You know you are in for an interesting day when the first thought that pops into your mind upon waking up is, “Hey..I can take a nap when I get home this evening”…and you are actually excited by this revelation. Isn’t that special? God, I miss my 20s.

The AM commute saw lots of out of towners using the train. It was Pride Weekend here in Atlanta so many participants travel into town to partake of the merriment of the event. I directed several dudes to various and sundry venues in the greater Midtown area as I made my way to the office that morning. (I am sure the event was super fun this year given that Halloween fell right smack in the middle of it all. Bummer it rained almost all day Saturday.)

The PM commute didn’t have the interaction of the AM ride…probably because Midtown is the epicenter of Pride Weekend…whereas Sandy Springs (the direction I travel at nights..and where I live) is more, what’s the word, boring?

Anyway, Elvis could have sat next to me on the train and I wouldn’t have known. Thank you Dead until Dark for continuing to engage me to the point of almost missing my station.

A special shout out to Phish fans.. this year’s annual Halloween cover was Exile on Main St. The Rolling Stones. Good stuff. Hope you enjoyed it.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

288 - Pardon the pun, but I've been Totally Sucked into...

The small town of Bon Temps, LA..the setting of the book Dead Until Dark. IE the trials and tribulations of one Sookie Stackhouse. Of True Blood fame. About a mind reader and her vampirical well as the humans in her life.

This is a book that so engages me I can actually read it WHILE listening to my Ipod. Of course I have no idea what is playing but at least it drowns out the random noises of the train..and the people on it.

Seriously, I had to stop reading to cross the street and Islands in the Stream by Kenny Roger and Dolly Parton was playing. WTH is that about?

Anyway, Bon Temps is French for "good times". And this book is good times. Indeed.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

289 - Cover Songs

Tonight I was listening to my IPod on the way home and that got me thinking about cover songs.

By and large cover songs can be a tricky thing. When done well they elevate the original tune; when done poorly they can ruin the song forever.

So, here are a few of my favorite covers, and why they've earned this distinction. Please note this is an organic list that will change as I hear new covers yet to be done and discover others I've not yet heard.

Free Fallin' by John Mayer.
No one was more reluctant to hop aboard the John Mayer train than me. I'd avoided drinking that particular flavor of Kool-Aid until I stumbled upon his version of this Tom Petty classic. My aversion wasn't to Mr. Mayer's musical stylings, which I neither liked or disliked. It stemmed more from my perception that he gets more a$$ than a public toilet...which kinda turned me off. But his acoustic take on the song converted me and opened my ears (and mind) and I must say the more I listen to him, the more I like him. His song Say is not only musically terrific, the lyrics are downright wrenching. So, please pass the Kool- Aid.

To Make You Feel My Love by Adele.
Written by Bob Dylan (who I can't stand at all) this often covered ditty gets its just due when Adele belts it out. Lyrically a strong strong song...and this particular version just resonates even after it is over. Genius. And way better than the Garth Brooks version.

I Will Survive by Cake.
Ah yes, the single woman's anthem. I've sung this after many a break up in order to calm my own fears that I just won't make it through the pain. Sadly, John McCrea, Cake's lead singer, can be kind of a drag at live shows. He tends to yell at the crowd if they aren't, in his perception, hyped up enough. But still, this is a cool spin on an old classic. Well done.

Country Roads by Rednex.
The most well known song in the World (if you don't believe me, Google it), Country Roads was possibly John Denver's signature tune. (Although Annie's Song could also be a contender for that title.) One of the few regrets I have in life is that I never got to hear him perform it in person. This cover by the popular Swedish techno/folk/bluegrass band Rednex has all the sentimentality of the original with a dance floor feel. Equally usable at a tailgate or a rave, this inspired version can get the party started...or keep it going a little longer.

Sweet Jane by The Cowboy Junkies.
This song so struck me that I can tell you where I was and who I was with the first time I heard it. So enamored was I with this tune I worked it into my Jukebox rotation at one of my favorite college bars....determined to share this jewel with all the other patrons in the joint. For a long time I didn't even know this was a remake. As a result, I've never enjoyed the original by The Velvet Underground. But I do have to be in a particular mood to listen to's too powerful for a casual play IMO.

How Deep is Your Love by The Bird and the Bee.
All of the soul of the 70s version with out the Velveeta. Understated, gentle and smooth. I immediately fell in love with this version and suggested my niece use it as her first dance song at her wedding. She didn't...but I very well might if I can sell the groom on it...provided I ever find him.

Anyone out there have any cover songs they love and want to turn me on to? Let me know in the COMMENTS section.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

290 - On an Otherwise Terrible Day so Shines a Good Deed in a Dark World

To put it plainly, today sucked.

Rain again. Nothing new there.

To cap it off, three of my coworkers were laid off today. It was horrible. And sad. And very upsetting. All three are great people and great workers and we are surely worse off without them. This was our fourth round of layoffs in the last 12 months. This "rebound" everyone is trying to sell to the America public just isn't happening. At least not in the engineering world.

Having been in their exact shoes following my layoff in 2002 I know firsthand the fear/anger/disillusionment all three are now feeling. All I can say is that when they come out on the other side of this nightmare they will all land in a better place confident in the knowledge they survived one of the most terrifying experience anyone can face. I say to them the same thing my brother told me back in 02, "tough times don't last, but tough people do."

The train on the way home was super packed again. I guess the rising gas prices have many people returning to mass transit to save a few pennies. I had every intention of standing for the ride home until a nice guy offered me his seat. And so I took it and for the first time in a long time I simply rode home and listened to my music, trying to shut my brain not think about anything; not read anything to distract me.

Some days you just have to stop running and moving and worrying and just be. And today was that day for me.

Monday, October 26, 2009

291 - Finally, a Book with Some Bite

I have given up on The Lost Symbol. Even trapped on an airplane over the weekend (with a serious delay that got me to Houston three hours later than planned) I just couldn't get into it. I had been stalled on page 99 for about a month. I made it all the way to 116 before I tossed in the towel.

I am really bummed about this. Besides paying full price for a hardback, I am truly disappointed that I just didn't really seem to care what happened this go around with Robert Langdon. In retrospect I guess I could have waited for it to come to the library after all. I've since passed it onto Katie. I'll be interested to hear her take on it.

Anyway, this morning I started the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse series...Dead Until Dawn. For those of you that aren't familiar with these books you might be interested to know these are the novels that serve as the basis for the HBO series True Blood. And I must say, so far I am WAY more into it than I ever thought I would be.

Maybe I've outgrown conspiracy theory thrillers...or maybe it is that I've reverted back to my girlhood attraction to vampires. They are the original bad boys.

Whatever the case I am just glad I once again have a book I enjoy reading on my daily commute. It really does make the time on the train fly by.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Repost - How it all Began for those of You just Tuning In

So yeah, I've always had a car. I don't say this to brag or gloat; it is just a fact. My first car arrived before I even got my license. You see, after five other children and years of shuttling us around, my parents were over it. It was 1989...they'd been doing it since the late 50's. Honestly, I can't blame them. I don't even have kids and the thought of hauling them to and from constantly makes me shudder.

Really, the whole car thing radiated from my father. He didn't trust anyone I might ride with and thus decreed that if I didn't drive, I didn't go. So not only did I always have a car, I always had to drive (sidebar - it would take me 15 years to finally feel comfortable as the passenger in a car driven by a friend). Two days after I got my license, he and I were on the road from DC to America's Dairyland, and I was zipping around Chicago on the right of passage trip made so many times before my older siblings. Everyone did this drive at least once in our family; there was no way around it. Some people have sweet 16 parties, others have bar mitvahs...the Gerrits family had the annual trip to Wisconsin. My dad, God love him, makes Clark Griswold look like Magellan, but I digress.

Cut to August 2009. The economy is in a tailspin. My company is downsizing and I've made it through three rounds of RIFs. I am not sure I am going to make it through the next round, which I fear is not too far off! Our pay has been cut by 10%, my 401k has tanked and my condo can't be refinanced as all of the sudden I don't have enough square footage (please note that it is the exact same SF I had when I purchased it in 2002. WTF?) and this is the time Pumpkin (my beloved and "trusty" car) decides to become an unruly pre-teen. Not to mention I am going through Gossip Girl withdrawl. Chuck Bass, where are you???? Ahem.

Pumpkin is my 2000 Mazda 626. She's been with me through various moves, job changes and several boyfriends. She ferried me to weddings, funerals, baby showers and more than one concert. She is almost 10. In the midst of this firestorm fo uncertainty, she has decide to commit suicide (a little dramatic Pumpkin!). It started slow...a new starter here, a new battery there. In two week's time, I've spent $1,019.06. Yesterday was the coup de grace...she overheated on the way into work...exactly one week to the day after I picked her up at the shop. Let me tell you, broken down under the Buford Connector in Industrial Atlanta is not a good look for me.

Knowing when to say when has never been my strong suit. I am a Taurus. I don't like to admit defeat. I don't like to give up, ask for help or generally fail. I have no problem fishing, it's the cutting the bait part that I struggle with.

But Pumpkin has gone too far this time. Now it's a cracked radiator, a leaking water pump and a new thermostat she needs...costing the equivalent of a short trip to Disney World. And this is the start. Coming soon to a theater near me will be a new timing belt ($1,200) and then brakes...and the list goes on. All this for a car with a Blue Book value of $3,000.

This is what I like to call easy math.

I can't keep Pumpkin going at this level of car; I accept this easier than I imagined I would. I am selling her at auction for $1.250 as is - tonight...which makes me happy as that covers the cost of the previous two weeks of repairs and leaves enough left over for some beers for me and my friend Katie, who is giving me a ride back from the sale site.

But what I can't wrap my head around is getting a car loan given all the uncertainty stated above. It just doesn't make sense. Pay goes down, bills go up? Doesn't sound like a plan to me.

What options do I have? Drain my meager savings to buy a car, lose my job and end up screwed? Or suck it up, use mass transit, carpools, my feet and my bike to get hither and yon?

Really, I have no choice at all.

But can I do it? Can I make it a year without a car in Atlanta? A city that is known for its transportation nightmares and general disdain for MARTA? Will I still be able to make work meetings out of the office? What about getting to the grocery store...or more importantly, geting HOME from the store with all the stuff? How will I see my friends that aren't on the MARTA lines? And most importanly, will not being able to go on random road trips at the spur of the moment be my final undoing?

We'll find out together...because as of tonight at 6 PM, I became car-less....for the first time in 20 years...

And my trials and tribulations will all be chronicled right here.

Stay tuned.

295 – Marta bus, oh Marta bus. Wherefore art thou Marta bus?

I don’t know if in my post-illness haze I somehow messed up the clocks in my house…all I know is I got the bus stop at 10 after the hour and the bus never showed…until 35 after the hour. And of course today I have suitcase as I am heading to out of town for work this afternoon…so walking a mile dragging a bag is not how I am starting my day.

Why does this sort of thing never happened on days where I have nothing to carry/drag?

Bottom line, door to door time in today took 1 hour 35 minutes…of which 25 minutes was spent by me reading Sports Illustrated at the bus stop. And even that wasn’t that great…it was the stupid NBA preview. Boooring!

Note - This is the last post of the week….I am off to Houston for work and some R & R. Catch you next week…

296 – What is that horrible noise? Oh wait, that is me.

Apparently, I wasn’t suffering from motion sickness on Tuesday evening.

It was the onset of a 24 hour stomach bug that came on with such vengeance it felt like Bruce Lee was in my tummy leading a cardio-kickboxing class. I guess the out of character headaches should have tipped me off that something was brew…or spewing, as it were.

Needless to say, I didn’t venture into the office Wednesday. I would have never made it without “an incident” and no one in the office wanted my germs.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

297 - Have barf bag...will travel

I had a totally different post planned for tonight. Instead, I'm posting about how my trip home was comprised of trying not to ralph on the train or the bus.

Something is fishy. In the last three days I have had two headaches. I rarely fall victim to headaches at all...let alone at this frequency. My back has been killing me I took more pain medicine this afternoon than I probably should have. But until I can get to the chiropractor I don't really have too much choice in the matter.

Those of you that know me IRL know my issues with motion sickness. It is no laughing matter. Back in 1999 I went on a first date and we went to see The Blair Witch project. It was very hard for me to watch it due to the herky-jerky nature of the filming. I got through it but as soon as we exited the theater I threw up in a trash can. Talk about leaving an impression. Fortunately, the guy was very sweet about the whole thing...and my antics didn't upset him too much.

Until today, I really hadn't been struggling with motion issues in terms of my commute. Not the case this evening. While on the train I almost bolted off at the Buckhead station to visit the closest trash can. I was able to power through it but wow, it was a close call.

Then the same wave of nauseousness hit me while on the bus. I warned the bus driver and he just said if I couldn't make it to let him know and he'd pull over. I found this statement oddly comforting.

I am hopeful that if I get some food on my stomach it will counter balance all the pain medication I took and I'll be feeling better shortly.

In the meantime, I think I will be taking my own barf bag with me on the train from now on. Precautionary measure to make sure I don't spew on the bus or the train. (Now there is a graphic no one needs to see!)

I think some organization is missing a great marketing opportunity...imagine your logo on the Marta barf bags...think of all the publicity you'd get out of that!

Monday, October 19, 2009

298 - Did I say that outloud?

Have you ever been so wrapped up in a song that you forget where you are and what you are doing? And before you can say bad, bad Leroy Brown a bunch of strangers are looking at you like your hair is on fire?

Let me guess, the cheese stands alone on this one?

For the record, no one on the train wanted to hear my version of Jump Jive and Wail by Brian Setzer and his Orchestra this evening. Mores the pity I's a killer tune.

I am just glad I wasn't singing along with New Jack Hustler by Ice-T...cuz that would have been really awkward.

Friday, October 16, 2009

301- My Favorite Area Code

301 is the area code of my youth. More people I love have lived/are living in that area code than any other. So 301 will always hold a special place in my heart.

Tonight it was a fast trip home but I couldn't get here soon enough. Other than the unibomber-esq dude on the train it was an uneventful day on Marta. Dude had the hoodie, the dark glasses and a mask you see people wearing when either a) they don't want to get sick or b) they are sick and don't want to infect anyone else.

If the former, I am sorry he was so concerned about illness. If the later, I thank him for taking steps to keep the rest of us healthy.

And now, I am going to kick back in my favorite pjs and partake of a Sam Adams lager and put this hellish week behind me.

302 – You’re what we call A Special Kind of Stupid

Walking home last night on Abernathy I got to the juncture where I cross the on-ramp to 400 South. Traffic was a beast (you guessed it..rain!) on 400 so the ramp was very backed up. This is a two lane on-ramp that allows the East side of Abernathy to merge with a third lane merging in from West Abernathy. All three lanes then merge into one lane from which you then merge onto 400.

Clearly some crack addict traffic engineer had a field day designing this gem.

Anyway, as I waited for the walk signal to cross this cluster(*ck of an intersection, some no talent ass clown in a Mercedes decides that he’s going to shoot through the yellow light onto the ramp and wedge himself between the two lanes coming from the East.

Home skillet almost crashed into three different cars pulling this stunt. Hard to say, but he made Cruella DeVil look like a model driver. I actually BACKED down the sidewalk so that if he did crash into anyone I wouldn’t get hit by the debris…or an actual car. After witnessing this a guy in a pickup and I actually looked at each other and said in unison, “What the (*&#?”

And by the way, where is Bill Engvall and his sign for a stupid person when you need him?

Once the one-man wrecking machine inched past the crosswalk I made my way across the ramp.

And let the record show I was actually glad I was on foot rather than on the road with this menace.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

303 - Is it Friday Yet?

So I wake up at 6:28 and think it's odd that my alarm didn't go off 28 minutes earlier. Very odd. Then I discovered I set it for 6PM. So, the day is off to a great start.

Strike one.

I shoot out of bed at warp speed only to discover I forgot to switch what I had planned to wear from the washer to the dryer the night before. Stupid Biggest Loser and its distractive effect. PS - They TOTALLY should have sent Tracey home. I'd call for a soap party if I was in the house with her.

Strike two.

So I find something else to wear and hop to it. I am still hopeful I can make the 7:15 bus. I shower, eat breakfast, cram my stuff into my backpack and plan to head out.

Then I look in the mirror and realize I've forgotten to put on my make up. So long 7:15. Hello 7:45.

At 7:30 I head out and realize it's raining. Again. Head back into the house to dig out the raincoat I just crammed into my bag, put it on, restuff all the other gear back into the bag, find the umbrella and again I head out. It's so dark that once the door shuts I can't even see the keyhole to lock the damn door. I fumbled with it for a few minutes muttering various words of discontent and finally get it locked. At long last I am on the move to the bus stop.

While on the bus I see a car with a "too blessed to be stressed" bumper sticker. Really. What I want to know is who is this person with this mantra attached to their car. Clearly s/he works from home and has no timetable to keep or s/he is heavily medicated. Because those of us in the real world might disagree with them on occassion.

On the way home I go to pull the chime so the driver knows to stop and I yanked the entire chain out of the metal holder. I pulled the coiled wire so hard that I actually BROKE the metal fastener that held it in place.

Strike three.

I am out.

Or rather in for the night...lest I damage any more government property.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

304 - If You Thought Doing Make Up on the Train was Impressive....'ll be even more shocked/horrified/awed by today's antics on the bus.

A woman was plucking her eyebrows. I'm pretty much scared to do that at home let alone on a moving bus that is traveling on a bumpy road.

Plus, some things should just be done at home.

Once I saw the tweezers I had to look away. All I could envision was an eyeball kabob on her plucking instrument.

A little decorum people. Please.

Monday, October 12, 2009

308 & 305 – More Mutterings for Monday (and one pertaining to last Friday too)

305 – If I did that I’d look like a Picasso painting

Another rainy Monday. With the added bonus of being pitch black outside as I run across four lanes of traffic to get to my bus stop. In rain boots that provide no support or traction. Because today, of all days, I decide I need to come in early.

Cold, rainy and dark. How’s that for pay back for getting a jump on the new week? Yeah, Universe - 1, Cari – 0.

I get to the station just as the train pulls in, I hop on and off we go. It’s so early/cold/dark/rainy all I want to do is close my eyes and go back to sleep. I am so MEH this morning I didn’t even bring a book to read.

And then I notice a lady on the other side of the train car applying her makeup. She even had the wear-with-all to apply EYE LINER. On a moving train!

Well, I was about eight shade of jealous when I saw this. I mean if I even attempted something like that I’d look similar to the Eva painting by Picasso.

For real, I was once reprimanded in 10th grade English because my lines for sentence diagramming were so poorly drawn. And this was done on a stable surface WITH the use of a ruler. Of course that teacher was a total bitch so I think she was just looking for opportunities to pounce on me. She was so bad my friend Ginger actually called a spade a spade, (or rather a bitch a bitch) during class one cold November day. Ginger was lucky…she got transferred out...the rest of us weren’t so fortunate...we had to deal with her for the rest of the year. Oh, and she made us read The Good Earth too. Worst.Book.Ever! It’s hard to believe that was 20 years ago.

Anyway, I watched her with rapt attention and when she exited the train I have to say she looked fabulous! This lady should consider being a surgeon…cuz with hands that steady I am sure the likes of Grady or Northside could use her skills. I can only image what masterpieces she’d come up with on an Etch-a-Sketch.
308 - SW Georgia and Daisy

Spent the better part of the day traveling to SW Georgia for a meeting. 400 miles roundtrip in less than 10 hours. Needless to say, when I turned the rental car in Friday afternoon I was happy to be rid of it.

After leaving Enterprise, I skipped across Roswell Road and waited for the bus to carry me to my hair guy (hi John!) for a much needed TLC and a cut. Let me tell you, Friday it was about 92 with 412% humidity…so even though all I did was sit at the bus stop I was sweating bullets by the time the number 5 showed. But alas traffic cooperated and I had no trouble getting to the hair studio in a timely fashion. In fact I was very early…but this is part of the adventure of riding Marta. Having no control over the schedule one often arrives either very early or very late at the intended destination. Apparently right on time isn’t an option.

Sidebar – why is it that you get your hair washed at the salon it feels so magnificent? When I wash my hair at home I get none of the relaxation affect I get when at the salon. Hell, I’ve even recruited people to wash my hair for me in the shower on occasion and even they can’t match the magic of a salon wash. Do stylists take a special class in hair washing? Does it just feel better since all I have to do is sit in the chair? Do they have special soap? Inquiring mind wants to know.

Anyway, I had planned to bus back home (or roughly a mile away from home and then walk the remainder of the way) but both John and his final client of the evening were kind enough to offer me a ride home.

Which made me think of the quote from A Streetcar Named Desire, “…I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Not that I have much in common with Blanche DuBois. Or that I really do depend on the kindness of strangers. Nevertheless, it was very sweet that they offered their assistance.

After I was assured it was no inconvenience to her, I accepted a ride from Daisy (or what her code name will be on here). And in the 15 minutes it took to get to my house I heard a very romantic and wonderful story about how she met her husband. It was a blind date that she never intended to go on. But for some reason she ended up going, they ended up connecting and five months later they were married. And nine months after that they had their daughter. They spent 8 years together before he passed away.

Well, I loved hearing this because A) I could see how much she enjoyed telling it; B) I thought it was wonderful how rather than be upset he was gone she reveled in the time they had shared; and C) it assuaged some of my fears about blind dates. Which I hate and avoid at all costs. Which led me to believe this whole scenario unfolded this way to get me to be more open to possibilities, dating and otherwise.

My motto has always been that strangers are just friends I’ve not yet met. Maybe I need to put this to practice on the dating front too?

Couldn’t hurt, might help.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

309 - Thirsty Thursday

A shout out to the Route 87 rider who boarded the bus with a 12 pack of Molson Ice. Bottles mind you...NOT cans!

Your Thursday night is gonna be way more exciting then mine!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

310 - A Tale Two Northbound Trains

Today is PT day, so my evening commute consisted of two trips Northbound.

Part 1 - So THIS is what the 7th Level of Hell Feels Like.

While waiting for a North Springs train two Southbound trains rumbled through the station. As did a Doraville train.

When the North Spring train finally arrived it was uber packed and super hot. Standing room only in a train car that felt like what I imagine a stand up sauna would feel like. Without the aromatherapy. I think I speak for all riders when I say, "hurry up fall temperatures." This is for the birds.

Part 2 - A Much Better Trip with Some Good Sights to Boot.

After PT I hustled to the Buckhead station and as luck would have it, the train was just pulling into the station. I hopped into the last car and settled in for the ride homeward.

A few minutes into the ride I noticed a very cute, married guy. Looked young to me but I imagine he's maybe around 30. Regardless of his age, he was a cutie and he had great hair. He will never have to worry about going bald. I hope his wife realizes her good fortune. I hope one day I'll be as lucky as she is!

A special shout out to the folks at Neurosport PT in Buckhead. I appreciate all your hard work to get me on the mend. And while I am glad to officially be released from PT, I am sad I won't get to see you all anymore. Of course at the rate I am falling apart, I might be back sooner than any of us hope.

311 – One of My Favorite Bands

No commuting tales for Tuesday. Was out sick and didn’t partake of the MARTA shuffle.

Side note – 311 was one of my favorite bands back in the day. Was always amazed that such a great band came out of Nebraska. That said, I never really felt “cool” enough to be a fan. Might need to dust of my old disks and get some of their tunes on my Ipod.

We've changed a lot and then some – some
You know that we have always been down - down
And if I ever didn't thank you - you
Then just let me do it now.

Good times, the 90s. And to think I never thought I’d miss them…I was very wrong about that.

Monday, October 5, 2009

312 - One Day Only - Free Culture!

Last week while at my local coffee shop, I saw that the High Museum of Art was planning a free preview of their latest show, Leonardo DaVinci – Hands of a Genius,2,1,13,1), today.

As soon as I found out about it I planned to attend. Since the museum is less than a block from my office, how can I resist? That, coupled with the fact that the fee for the museum has been waived for today only, how could I pass it up?

As a DC native it still weirds me out when I have to pay to go to into museums. Growing up on the Smithsonian system of free knowledge I have gone through considerable culture shock as an adult. Really, in high school I’d sometime bail on school and head down to The Mall and stroll in and out of the various facilities. I’d venture to guess I learned just as much there (if not more) than I would have had I gone to class.

And don’t even get me started on zoos that charge entry fees. To this day I have been to exactly ONE zoo that had a cover charge..and it was by far the WORST ZOO I HAVE EVER BEEN TO. Even the animals looked bored…like being there was a total waste of their time too.

Anyway, kudos to The High for offering the free preview day. In this climate it’s the only way a lot of folks will get to see DaVinci’s sculptures. And BRILLANT idea to station a High employee (ie a worker from the Museum, not someone who is actually high) at the Arts Center Station during rush hour this morning to get the word out. In the words of Judge Smails, TOP NOTCH!

WL update: down 2.4 pounds

Friday, October 2, 2009

315 - Guess who left her lunch on Marta today?

Yeah, that would be me. And I am none too happy about it.

Of course it was a "good" lunch. Lasagna.

Why can't I ever leave the "bad" lunches on the train? Really, no one wants tuna fish...not even me and I packed it!

So, if you see some lasagna headed Southbound, you now know why.

And if you see a jaded soul in the Colony Square food court long about lunchtime frantically trying to find something to eat, you'll know it's me.

316 – Kick out the Jams

Today’s title comes from a song by Bad Brains with Henry Rollins featured in the awesome early 90s movie, Pump Up the Volume. This film featured Christian Slater in the role of Hard Harry and possibly one of the best (and most underrated) soundtracks of all time. Sonic Youth, Ice-T and the Pixies all together? Uh, word. And I am not embarrassed to admit I still have the soundtrack on cassette tape. Of course I have no way to play the tape but that is just semantics.

Anyway, Thursday means kickball. In addition to playing this evening, I also have to officiate another game. So my Thursday night homeward commute consisted of me reading the rules I’d have to enforce come game time.

Fear not fellow kickers, I am now down with the rules, such as:
  • If a team has a 12 run advantage the losing team can request the mercy rule, which ends the slaughter.
  • All ties between the runner and the fielder go to the runner. No duh.
  • If a kicker kicks 4 foul balls he/she is automatically out. And finally,
  • Advil should be taken early and often on games days. This is my own personal rule but given that all players appear to be in their late 20s to mid 30s, it is sound advice.

Now, let's cut to the action.

Our game was at 6:30. We got beat like a piƱata. But we do seem to be getting better every game. BASKET CATCH!

I co-officiated the 7:30 game between Where's My Pitches At? and Extreme Misfits Predators. The game went fast, the teams were nice and Where’s My Pitches At? walked away with a big W…their 14 game losing streak now a thing of the past!

Our post-game/post-officiating outing at Charlie Mopps provided a rousing game of Flip Cup, good camaraderie between the teams, and a super cute waiter named Kevin who looks like Cappie’s (from Greek) older brother.

All in all, it was an awesome evening. I can’t wait for next week. Maybe we’ll even score this time!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

317 – Speed, Smells, and Sinatra

What did bus drivers think when they saw the movie Speed? Do they ever worry that some madman will recreate the scenario? After all, Howard, the crazy dude in the film, was in fact a retired Atlanta policeman. An odd thing to wonder about while riding the bus, don’t you think?
You know someone is wearing too much perfume when the entire train car is filled with the fragrance. I’m not sure which lady it was that bathed in her favorite scent and I didn’t really want to find out. I am just thankful we weren’t in an elevator. Or a Fiat. And that I was close to the train door so every once and awhile I got some fresh air. Let’s remember, sometimes less is more.
Sinatra songs always make me weepy. Why is that? Is it because the words speak to my heart on such a personal level? Is it the loveliness of his voice? Is it because they remind me of a long ago life with another big Sinatra fan? Is it because I‘ve never experienced the level of love, devotion and romance Frank sings about? I don’t think I’ll ever really know the reason…but this much I do know: tears won’t stop me from listening.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

318 – Car Review: Mazda 3

As you well know, I have had some less than pleasant experiences with Zip Car. I’ve been using them just over a month and half of my interactions have not gone well.

That said, I’ll start with positives: The reserved car was there at the appointed time and it started. This is light years ahead of where I was last week.

Now, for the review of the actual car: a Mazda 3. 2.0L engine, 4 cylinders.

As someone who just got rid of a Mazda, one might think me a harsh critic. I expected to adore this car. My Mazda worked great until the bitter end and frankly I thought the same would be the case for this little number.

Not so much.

I noted the following:
  • VERY loud when driving on highway/interstate.
  • Engine was also very loud during acceleration..if you can call it that. It did not have good “zip”.
  • Horrible system for adjusting the tilt wheel. I seriously thought I broke the steering column while trying to maneuver the thing.
  • Headrests so large they obstructed vision while checking for traffic in blind spots. Other than Kanye, no one needs a headrest that large.
  • TERRIBLE headroom. Granted I am 5’10 so I am taller than the average bear. I felt like Dino Flintstone riding around in Fred’s Flintmobile with my head popping through the fabric roof. Not a good feeling.

In Summary: This is not a car I will consider purchasing or even renting again. The Prius and Civic outshined this vehicle in terms of both performance and comfort. Since all three are priced the same at Zip Car, I’ll forgo using the Mazda 3 again.

319 - I took some Advice from Stereo MCs

and stepped it up today.

That is I got out my pedometer and logged my steps. All 8,302 of them.

Apparently wearing the pedometer has special powers; all the buses where in their appointed locations at their correct times today.

So on the day log I finally can get a true snapshot of my mileage the amount of hoofing I had to do was acutally rather limited.

Let's see if the special powers hold up on Tuesday.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

322 - Top 10 Things I Saw on Marta This Week

10 - Umpteen people reading The Lost Symbol. Thus far, I am not feeling the love for DB's latest.

9 - Fuchsia hair on a pontificater

8 - Plaid, argyle and polka dotted rain boots

7 - A moth. Which I had to kill after some lady pointed it out..which caused the lady sitting next to me to FREAK out. Overreact much?

6 - 2 travelers taking up 4 seats with their luggage...on a standing room only train. Rude, party of two, your table is now ready.

5 - College kids doing homework. Most popular subject to do on the train? Math. Hey, I always put off doing Math homework I am down.

4 - A guy who resembled what I imagine Evan Chambers will look like in about 10 years. If you don't know who Evan Chambers is, check out GREEK on ABC Family. It's actually a really good show.

3 - Several females who I thought might be "working girls", if you know what I mean. Hey, the economy is rough...but I'd imagine there will always be a market for that sort of business.

2. A dude rockin' out to Ravi Shankar. For real. I was able to read his upside down IPod and that was the "Now Playing" artist.

and the number 1 thing I saw on Marta this week:

A Kip Winger look-alike. I saw this gentleman as he exited the train in Buckhead. Not sure where he was going...I just hope he wasn't headed for a heartbreak.

Friday, September 25, 2009

323 – Reading is Fundamental

I’d guestimate that 75% of all readers on Marta this week were reading The Lost Symbol. All of us at various stages in the book; all of us on the collective journey to the end of Dan Brown’s latest work.

With such a high volume of readers, it is easy to see why it’s currently the #1 book in America. In its one week of release it has moved more than 2 million copies in various formats (book, audio and e-book).

I’m currently reading it…and once I finish it I hope I can confirm that is worthy of this lofty position. Hopefully it will be more like Angels and Demons (and no, I haven’t seen the film) and less like The DaVinci Code.

“Sometimes, divine revelation simply means adjusting your brain to hear what your heart already knows." Angels and Demons p. 484

Thursday, September 24, 2009

324 - The Black Hole

I cannot recall one single thing about yesterday's commute.

I am not sure if this is becuase a) nothing of note happened; b) I was so tired I just failed to notice anything; or c) my powers of perception were occupied with the realization the rain had stopped.

Whatever the case, I am happy to report that on this day, absolutely nothing happened.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

325 –WJWD – What Jesus WOULDN’T Do

Yes, today I had my first run in with a religious zealot on the train.

When I entered the crowded train car and saw a seat next to a woman with fuchsia hair I snagged it. In retrospect perhaps I should figured something odd was going on since NO ONE else sat there. But I just considered myself lucky and didn’t really think about it too much.

Now I always listen to my IPod and rather loudly I might add. So it wasn’t until we started north I heard this lady and her sermons, judgments and dissertations on God. As is often the case, she was not speaking to anyone specifically and just kept repeating the same thing. Maybe she thought if we heard it enough we’d finally see the light, as it were?

Lady, I am happy you have such a strong faith. Perhaps I am even a bit jealous. But the last thing Jesus would do is go about casting aspersions and judgments on random folks who are just trying to get home after a long day at work.

Maybe if you focused your sermons on forgiveness (an often forgotten theme in the Bible) and stopped being Judgey McJudgerson you might be able to engage your hostages…urm, I mean listeners.

After all, isn’t the old saying, “judge not, lest you be judged?”

And with fuchsia hair, I’m not certain you should be judging anyone.

Monday, September 21, 2009

326 - Is that a Lighting Rod You Are Carrying or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

Okay class, we have a dilemma.

I've got no problem getting soaked on the way home. (This you know if you've read any posts in the last week.)

However, we now are contending with thunder and lighting..and by that I do not mean C.J. Spiller and Richard Jackson from Clemson. Those two I could handle.

I am talking old school electrical storm. Think "1.21 gigawatts" from Back to the Future. Think of the storm in Caddyshack that fell the Bishop. Yeah, that kinda storm.

Maybe by the time I head out the "storm" part will be over and we'll be back to just plain rain.

And the fact that I am excited about the concept of "just plain rain" illustrates how much this past week of ridicoulous weather has worn me down. Soon I'll need hip waders in place of my festive rain boots.

At least it's not snow...yet.

329 & 326 - What I Really Need is a Kayak

Commuting last Friday and today has sparked my interest in acquiring this:

Why drive when you can float!?!?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

330 – MARTA trains are a lot like Casinos…

…in that there are no clocks in plain sight.

Apparently neither entity ever wants you to know what time it is.

At least the casinos pump in fresh oxygen and offer free drinks.

Maybe MARTA should consider this…I’d imagine these perks would boost ridership.

Hey, couldn’t hurt, right?

331 – Have I mentioned I miss the drought?

Georgia has been in a drought the better part of this 21st century.

So it should come as no surprise to anyone that as soon as I get on the mass transit train (literally), the rain drops start falling like last year’s stock prices.

Yesterday was another gully washer full of calamity.

My bag broke on the way into the office…fortunately it wasn’t really raining at that point. And the lugging portion of the program was over by then…so really, no harm, no foul.

As the return trip home loomed, I decided to jerry rig said bag with a slip knot. I knew the bag was really a lost cause…truthfully I was just hoping to get to PT and home without further bag drama.

Well, I almost made it.

My PT wizard (hi Gayatree!) was kind enough to drop me off at MARTA following our session. Such a gracious offer..especially considering there were Class IV rapids on Peachtree at the time.

As I dashed out of her car my bag once again broke…this time for good. The shoulder strap came out of the bag at its stitching.

That loud splash you heard long about 7PM? Was my bag landing in the river running down Peachtree.

I snagged it before it traveled too far down the street and took quick shelter under the MARTA entry. I was able to get my phone, Ipod and copy of The Lost Symbol ( out before the water had a chance to compromise any of them.

As I triaged the contents of my bag, I also realized that I’d missed the last bus of the evening. This meant I’d be hoofing it in the rain back to Chez Cari. Truth be told, at that point I didn’t even mind the walk…I was already so soaked that another 10 minutes out there wasn’t going to make a difference.

For real, by the time I made it home my fingers were actually pruney. Like they used to get when I was a kid and spent too much time in the pool.

It could have been worse.

At least I had rain gear…unlike the dude I passed who was making his way to the train. He didn’t even have an umbrella.

I guess the upshot to that is he won’t have to shower for a few days? Way to conserve water, pal.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

332 – Saint Matthew the Bus Driver

This evening I bounded down the stairs and through the turnstile in a desperate attempt to catch my bus, which at that very moment was pulling out of the station.

My frantic shout of “WAIT!” , was heard by the driver, who promptly stopped the bus to allow me and several other passengers to climb aboard.

I immediately said, “Thank you so much, you are a saint!”

To which the driver said, “A saint? I hope that is a good thing. I mean, my name is Matthew but..”

I assured him, it was, a good thing.

Really, it never dawned on me that someone wouldn’t know that being called a saint is actually a compliment of sorts. I guess since I was born and raised Catholic I just assumed everyone knew that the comparison was a positive thing.

For those not in the know, a saint is defined as: a human being who is believed to have been 'called' to holiness or has, consciously or unconsciously, fulfilled the criteria set for sainthood by a religious institution. (Definition provided by Wikipedia)

A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, or person. Patron saints, because they have already transcended to the metaphysical, are able to intercede effectively for the needs of their special charges. Some consider it a special devotion to God by displaying humility in asking a saint for intercession rather than expecting to be answered themselves. (Definition provided by Wikipedia)

St Agatha, for example, is the patron saint of nurses. St. Jude is associated with lost or desperate causes (thus the name of St. Jude Hospital, which was started by Danny Thomas, who made a vow when he started his career: If he found success, he would open a hospital dedicated to the saint). John Baptist de la Salle is affiliated with teachers. Francis of Assisi loved nature and so he is patron of ecologists. Francis de Sales was a writer and he is, therefore, the patron of journalists and writers. The patron saint of bus drivers, transportation workers and the like is St. Christopher.

Saint Matthew is actually the to go-to guy for: accountants, bookkeepers, bankers, customs officers, financial officers, guards, money managers, security forces, security guards, stock brokers, and (get this) tax collectors.

And if you ask me, the evening route of the 105 bus too.