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What a busy - and expensive - few days in NJ. My goal was to get the Tank in drivable condition, so I started with the headlights. I went to Pep Boys and bought two new ones ($20), came home and replaced them - that was incredibly easy, and now all of the external lights work. I was watching our neighbor's kids for a few minutes for her, so I washed the lights on the car, too - or rather, wiped the dust off them. Now they're clean. I also bought a new gas tank cap (since I lost the original one somewhere in Ohio at 4am), and a new air filter (which was tossed out in Pennsylvania by the mechanic, who said it was no good) and a seat belt cover that's fuzzy, so the seat belt doesn't dig into my shoulder.

Then I spent some time on the phone with Red Bank Recycling to see if they had a radiator that would fit the car. They had three different ones, so they asked me to drive the car in on Wednesday to see which would fit. Getting there. I called Ryan to ask if he was still planning to come by, since it was 5.30 and there was no sign of him. He said he couldn't make it that day, and I told him I was going to have it tuned up locally anyway. I was kind of annoyed, because I really wanted to get this thing done. So Mom and I used the free evening to go to Ikea (love Ikea) to pick up bookcases for my room (birthday present - furniture, I love it, it looks great) and a shelf for the dining room. We dropped the stuff off at home and then went to the movies - saw Star Wars again. I still wasn't impressed with it, except for the Jango Fett scenes and the last half hour.

Wednesday morning. I went to Red Bank to pick up the radiator. The place was impossible to find, so I drove around Red Bank until I decided to stop and get directions. The directions were wrong, so I stopped again and got correct ones. The first radiator they had picked out looked like it would fit perfectly in the Tank - what luck. I bought it for $60 and tossed it in the back seat. Drove back to Matawan and stopped at the mechanic's on the corner (Auto-Tech, his name is Dan, he's cute). As I stalled into the lot, a car pulled in behind me and out popped my friend John - who helped restore the first Tank, and who I hadn't seen in a few years, easily! He and I talked Darts, and I read him the list of things to fix, and he recommended a few places to have the front end work done. Things are looking up.

And then they started looking down. I asked Dan to do a full tune-up on the car, and if he could install the radiator. No problem (tho his labor rates are a tad high, welcome to the east coast). He called me 15 minutes later and said that the radiator needed to be repaired first, there was something along the side that needed soldering. So I went back down there (it's around the corner, pretty much) and he showed me what he meant and told me the name of a place that does radiator repairs. I drove home (Mom's car) and called B&B Radiator and Glass, got directions (about 10 min away) and took it in. They told me they would probably get to it the next morning, but would try to rush it for me. They didn't - I ended up picking it up Thursday morning. So I stopped back at Auto-Tech and told Dan they were working on it, and he said he would go ahead and do the rest of the tune-up for me.

With time to kill, we put together my bookcases (sweet) and I shelved the books I had brought home last week. I'm going to need a lot more shelf space. We also discovered that we had picked up the wrong dining room shelf from Ikea - the box was in the wrong bin - so we put it back in the trunk and decided to take it back the next day.

I had a meeting at the nursing school Wednesday night about financial aid - that went quite easily. I also talked to the registrar about that Algebra class that I have to retake, and she was amazed that I needed to take it at all - "You're so smart!" But since I missed the really hard questions at the end, I do have to retake it. She said I'd have to go to Middlesex County College to register there for it.

Thursday (yesterday). Picked up the radiator, took it to Auto-Tech. Dan called later in the day to say that the distributor was wonky and loose, and it was causing the "points" (remember? had them replaced twice on the way home) to get chewed up - that's what was causing the stalling and trouble starting. It could be fixed, but only by replacing the distributor. I told him to go for it. I want the Tank to actually run well. I drove Mom's car down to Middlesex to register for the summer Algebra session ($405, including all the student fees, jeez). It starts July 22nd, and runs four nights a week for three weeks, ending right before I go to DC in August. That's a lot of Algebra. So I guess I'll aim to be moved home before then. Went to Ikea, bought more furniture. Started to put together my new dresser, only to discover that they had omitted the bag of hardware. So we called Ikea and Mom's picking it up today.

So today - Friday - I'm back in the city, about to go to the dentist to finish my root canal. I'm waiting for Dan to call back about the distributor, too, and find out when I can pick the Tank up (and how much this is all going to cost). Tonight Jen and I are seeing Green Day and Blink 182 at the Garden.

Two days til the Tony brunch.
Two days til the Tony's (and the SFU finale).
Six days til Hugh Jackman and Carousel.
One week til London!

And I'm off to NJ - Ryan's coming over later today to look at the Tank, and tomorrow I have a financial aid meeting at the nursing school. I'll be back Thursday.

Happy Memorial Day - now you can wear those white shoes.

I had a weird dream last night that Jen, Missy, my dad and I were in Paris - not too odd when you think that Jen and I will be there soon. But it was strange in that we kept getting lost, and it all looked like a huge carnival. I told them I would go off and find the hotel, but I got lost, too, and ended up on the Metro, but it was more like a roller coaster. I ran into a friend, and she let me stay with her, but I was worried about finding Jen, Missy and Dad again, so I wandered back into the streets. I checked my voicemail (in Paris?) and Jen left a message saying they would meet me at some clothing store in one of the dressing rooms. I looked at the Metro map but couldn't find where I was. So I turned around and there was a theatre - and Hugh Jackman was doing a concert version of Carousel (not surprising) with Nicole Kidman (surprising). I went in, and my seat was in the last row of the orchestra. The ushers kept coming by and handing out props from the show to people, and then squirting us with water pistols. At one point they offered everyone foam rubber Statue of Liberty hats, and I declined, saying that as it had been threatened by terrorists, I didn't want to wear it. I asked the girl next to me - who was from Wisconsin and had also flown to Paris just to see this concert - if there were any tall buildings in Carousel and she replied that there was only the Starkeeper's tower. I moved down to a better seat. And never did find Jen, Missy or Dad.

Dreams are only interesting to the person that has them, I know.

Anyway, it's only ten more days til the Carousel concert with Hugh Jackman at Carnegie Hall - can't wait. And then two days after that til Paris.

later on 5/26/02
Against my better judgement, I watched the HBO thing about 9/11. So so glad that Jen, Missy and I left the apartment when we did, I don't think I can say that enough.

I'm popping a Vicodin and going to bed. I know I won't be able to sleep.

Swanky night last night - Steve and I went to see The Man Who Had All The Luck at the Roundabout, and it was very good. But the swanky part is that since he's a patron of the theatre, he gets access to the special pre-show-and-intermission lounge upstairs. So we went there before the show for free drinks and snacks - how cool!

I met up with Trisha last night before the show to give her a music score that she wants to photocopy, and she surprised me with a book she thought I would like - the latest in a line of books about British 20-something single chicks. I can't wait to start reading it. I think I'll dive into it today.

After the show, I went to (where else) Marie's and had a small world moment. I was talking to Michael and Heather, and a guy walks over and says, "Hi - I read your website all the time!" and introduced himself. I asked, "Is it the tattoos?" because what else can one really say... I love small world moments.

Missy and I watched Pet Sematary yesterday - a movie that completely terrifies me - and I had weird dreams about Mimi and Pixel all night. And then I had some weird dream about Missy and I going to meet Jen in a hotel where we were staying, and we were mugged on the way back. And there was this whole big mystery going on about someone forging a letter and signature, and I ended up solving it. And then I was talking with my brother Peter about checking accounts. So then, in the dream, I went out, and in Times Square there was a new credit union office, and I decided to join, but I couldn't because I didn't have a NY driver's license anymore, and in order to get a photo ID I had to pass some test about how my car's engine worked, and of course I couldn't. So I went to sit down in the food court, and ended up playing "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" with complete strangers. So I went back to the hotel and Jen and my Mom were there with all of the pictures I have yet to get developed, and I tried to put them in order but couldn't. So I walked outside, and I was in the yard in NJ, where Pixel was attacking me, like the cat in Pet Sematary, and I didn't know what to do. In my dream, people kept getting close to me - physically, like complete strangers, and I kept yelling at them to leave me alone. Reminded me of being in Times Square last night - too many people.

Seriously, I've been having dreams like this for the past few weeks. The only night I didn't have weird dreams was the night I spent in Westchester.

Today there are really low-flying helicopters flying over downtown. It's scaring the crap out of me. I can't wait to leave the city. And the weather is miserable - this is totally a day that I'm spending in my pajamas on the couch.

Ahhh, what beautiful weather for Memorial Day weekend. I escaped the city last night, and it was nice to get out in the fresh air. Went to Central Park today for a few hours to listen to David Ippolito play. Go catch him if you can - check the website for what days he's playing tho, there's something funky with the permits going on.

I love this dating thing. It's so nice to go out with someone I've known for years.

And I can't believe they're airing the Six Feet Under season finale opposite the Tony Awards.

Sleep is good.

later on 5/23/02
Or early on the 24th, however you want to look at it. So I went to Marie's to meet up with someone I had met online. I stopped at the deli nextdoor to get some cash, and ran into my friend Jennifer. She came back to Marie's with me. So we went in, said "hi" to Alan and Biff, and I met my friend Forrest there. We had quite a few drinks, and it was a lot of fun.

As the bar was getting ready to close, Jim (the piano player), Biff and I made plans to go to the after-hours bar with a friend of Jim's. Now, really, Jim has some odd friends. His friend Noel, who came with us, kept hitting on me. And while I was flattered, he was really a bit scary. We were walking back towards 7th Ave, and he stopped to buy crack from a dealer that he knew. And on that note, I decided it was time to come home. I don't mind someone buying me a drink or two, but there are substances that just do not go into my body. And there are people that I don't deal with... so I turned aside, with the pretense of, "sure, I'll wait for you right here," and I ducked into the subway and came home. What a night. I guess if I ever needed to buy crack, I'd know where to go, but I don't think I needed a firsthand look at a drug deal, really. Loser.

Right now, I'm so tired.

OK, enough already with the government arguing over who knew what before 9/11 and could they have prevented it... They didn't. It happened. Don't sit around talking about it - just figure out what to do to prevent future attacks. On that note, there's all this talk on the news about how the cities are prepared for another attack, but I don't remember getting any kind of information about what to do if someone blows up the Brooklyn Bridge.

I'm just a little tense today. And I slipped and had a cigarette yesterday.

I saw a girl on the street today with a t-shirt that read "2001 sucked" - I had to laugh. Speaking of t-shirts, I went into Conway (the cheap clothes store) last week and they had tank tops (which I wear a lot of) and t-shirts on sale for something like $4.00. So I stocked up for the summer. Today I'm wearing my capri khakis and a skintight $4.00 t-shirt, pink. I have to admit, it's very girly, but there's something about wearing a tight t-shirt and a push-up bra that makes me feel better.

I had the shoe guy down the street replace the heels on two of my pairs of high-heeled sandals and on my knee-high boots, too. I thought those were beyond repair, but he did a really super job. Polished them, too. So I'm in business.

Oh, and I overslept and did not get Sheryl Crow tickets.

later on 5/22/02
Oh lord, we had the motherlode of rude theatregoers - all in the row behind us. They came in, the four of them, with these screechy voices (well, this is the women, the men were skulking in behind them, looking embarrassed), trying to find their seats. Then they proceeded to talk loudly throughout the start of the show - "Oh! He was on Rosie today!" "Oh! She plays the witch?" Turning around to shush them only yielded rude comments in our direction. At intermission, they continued their nasty comments, along with a laughable "Oh! There's another act! Should we stay? What can there be in the second act?"

I complained to the head usher, as did someone else from their row. Luckily, they didn't stay for the second act. I really, really think there's a special place in hell for people like that - who raises them to be so rude?

Between them, and the school group downstairs that was also noisy and rowdy (the teachers, too), and the swarms of people in Times Square lately, I really am having some intense people-dislike feelings. I need some space. Maybe I'll go to NJ tomorrow. Get some air. See my cat and my car.

I've been looking up car parts online. I need to get a new radiator for the Tank. Anyone have a spare sitting around?

Fortune's Fool was great - it's one of those plays that I probably wouldn't have gone to see if I'd had to pay for it, but I really enjoyed it. Frank Langella and Alan Bates, who are both nominated for the Tony, were super. And Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon (more beautiful in person) were a few rows ahead of us.

Today is another day of lounging around, with a trip to Dad's and to the post office, and then tonight Steve and I are seeing Into the Woods again - I can't wait to see the changes they've made since previews (when we saw it last).

Mmm, "vague" terrorist threats against the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge. How about something that ISN'T within a 5 block radius of my apartment next time, eh? It's days like this that I really look forward to leaving the city.

In cheerier news, it's absolutely beautiful outside. If I were less lazy, I would go up to the park and rollerblade. But alas, I'm lazy. Maybe tomorrow. I did my daily walking - to the post office, to Dad's, to the grocery store, to the shoe repair place (twice - to drop off and pick up my black heels), to J&R (to see if they had tix left for the free Sheryl Crow concert next week, I have to go back in the morning, they were out of today's quota), and back. I'm sure that's more than my 350 yards/day ;-)

There's a tiara exhibit going on in London at the Victoria and Albert museum while Jen and I are there. We like sparkly things, so we're going to try and go. Someday I would love to wear sparkly things. Even when I get dressed up, I don't really sparkle. Ah well. When I marry into money (right).

I have done absolutely nothing today.

Our London-Paris plane tickets came in the mail today.

Nine more days until the WTC cleanup crews leave. I wonder if they'll start paving it right away or if they'll let the area sit until a final decision is made about what to do with it.

I'm seeing Fortune's Fool tonight.

My hair looks great.

It's a slow day.

How could I have lived down the hall from our neighbor Tyrone for three years and not known that he sells wholesale videocasettes? He and I are having a talk later on about that.

Every day I try to learn something new. Today I learned two things:

Although I'm unemployed, there's still something about Sunday that makes it an especially lazy day. Missy and I are just hanging around the apartment today, watching bad movies on TV and reading the Times. I put in my unemployment claim for the week, and did some grocery shopping. Tonight I'm going to continue to veg out on the couch with the dead people show, and the end of the Drama Desk awards (which Dad is taping for me).

I've booked our tickets to see This is our Youth in London (again, new cast this time), and pricelined a hotel for our first night - 4 star Marriott for $75 plus taxes. Other than that, we're not really planning the trip too much, just going to lots of theatre. And we're going to Paris for a few days again - flying out Saturday night after we see the show, and coming back Tuesday afternoon. This way we can go to Versailles and see the gardens in the actual summer, and do the rest of the touristy stuff we missed last time! I booked us a super cheap fare ($129 RT from London) and am about to go and priceline a hotel for the three nights we'll be there. Can't wait! I've always wanted to go back to Paris.

In poking around the web, this site has some very interesting and cool Paris things to do. We're making our list of what to do this time - Versailles, Eiffel Tower when it isn't cold, the Opera House when it isn't covered in plywood...

48 hours without a cigarette and counting.

And this damp weather is driving me nuts - I'm congested (tho that has a lot to do with the not-smoking), and my calf/Achilles tendon is all tight. I'm having to stretch it a lot.

When Mom and I bought our tickets to see Hakan sing at the Met (Museum, not Opera House), it was part of a subscription. The other concert was last night - soprano Maria Ewing. I couldn't stand her. Too shrill, too... well, too expressive with her hands and body, and there was just an air about her that I didn't like. James and I left at intermission.

Today is a nice, slow day. Napped on the couch, watched DVDs and now I'm off to finish my book.

We have no water in the building until 4pm - something about the "annual tank cleaning." Whatever. It's an excuse to take my thirty pounds of laundry to the cleaners and have them do it for me. It's also an excuse to go to the barber and get my hair cut (and washed! always feels so good when someone else - esp. the cute Russian guy - does it). And get my brows done. And run up to midtown to meet Anna, who picked me up a copy of Ocean's Eleven on DVD. Ok, it's errands day.

Missy told me that while I was away, there was a fire at the PACE dorm a block away - she woke up at 3am and heard people screaming and smelled smoke. She thought it was a nightmare, but after a few minutes she realized it wasn't. So she went down the stairs in the building with a handful of other people who live here, and they saw the fire trucks outside the dorm building, with their ladders up, getting students down from the top floors.

Two tangents from there - we got a copy of the fire code stuff for this building. It's a deathtrap waiting to happen. And while I was on the road, I had this incredibly graphic dream that there was a volcano pushing its way up from underground somewhere in the city. And it was spewing fire and killing people all over, and the people that I was with, we kept trying to run away from it, and get in our cars and drive away, but couldn't escape it. I don't know if it was a reaction-to-9/11 kind of dream (which I haven't been having, I'm just anxious during the daytime and nighttime, no dreams tho) or a premonition kind of dream. I seem to have those more and more - or rather, something will happen to me, and I'll have this deja vu feeling that I dreamed it already. So when I have memorable dreams now, I can't help but think, "Will this really happen?"

later on 5/16/02
Once again, I was underwhelmed by Star Wars - except for the last half hour, which was super. Yoda with a lightsaber, kickass. When we saw This is Our Youth in London, I wasn't impressed with Hayden Christensen as an actor, and he was disappointing here, too. I really did like him in Life as a House tho. The Ziegfield theatre was packed with fans, which is always fun for seeing movies.

Jen and I booked our London plane tickets - for June 7th (the day after the Carousel concert) through the 13th (the day before I leave for DC) - very exciting! There is lots of theatre to be seen.

I spent the morning watching last week's ER and paying bills, and I have to go to the bank (to see how dire my checking account overdraft is) and food shopping before we go out to see Star Wars. Busy day!


So that was a fun trip - we have some beautiful country out there. But I am so glad to be home, in one piece, with the new Tank also in one piece (well, one piece and some extra add-ons).

So I flew to Oakland, and met Dan (Corrie's dad) at the airport there. We drove to the Firestone dealer/place where he had taken the Tank to get tuned up, and the guy there gave me a list of things that needed fixing. This list will slowly be added to. Dan pointed out that the radio (AM) wasn't working in the car, so I decided to see if I could get a new stereo put in it for the drive. Because I do not drive without music. I followed Dan back to their house first, to drop off my things etc. They have a super house in Antioch, about an hour north of the airport. Very pretty, and lots of room. So I dropped off my stuff and went to Circuit City. They said they wouldn't be able to do an install that day, so I turned around and went back to Dan's. I called a few places in the phone book and found one that could do the install, so I drove there, picked out a nice CD player/stereo, and had the guy install it. ($216) He had to use the pneumatic saw to cut out the steel frame where the old one was, but after an hour it was all in. Whoever owned the car last had put in nice new Kenwood speakers in the rear, so it sounds really nice.

So, back to the O'Brien's, and Dan barbequed while Perci whipped up a super salad, and we ate dinner. Then I took a hot bath and fell asleep - long day.

Wednesday morning, I set out for Salt Lake City. The Tank drives really nicely, but it needs to have the front end tightened up - it steers a little loosely, nothing unmanagable tho. The brakes are manual, so it takes all of my weight to stop the car. And it doesn't like going up hills much, I have to slip it into second gear a lot on the mountains.

Drive drive drive. Through Nevada (desert) and Utah (more desert) to SLC - got there in 13 hours, including the time change, so really 12 hours of driving. Sometimes the fuel guage works, and sometimes it doesn't. The speedometer and odometer aren't working, so I'm timing my speed with my watch as I pass the mile markers, and stopping for gas every 4 hours or so.

It was great to see Josh again - I read in a book recently where one character said she missed her late husband more when she was with him than when she was away from him, because when they were apart, she could think of him in the past tense. That's how I was feeling out there. I didn't sleep too well, and I think I was coming down with a cold or something, because I woke in the middle of the night (usual) feeling all cold and clammy and sweaty (unusual), and I was coughing all the next day (still am, really).

I was going to go south to the Grand Canyon, and then to Texas, but I figured I really should get the car home quickly instead, so I looked at my map, and decided to go straight East.

Slept til 11 or so on Thursday, and headed out shortly after that. I drove from SLC over to Wyoming (a state I have never been to, fewer mountains than CA/NV/UT). At one of the rest stops, I decided that since I was in the west, I should really drive to Devil's Tower - you know, the one from Close Encounters of the Third Kind - just to see if it was made from mashed potatoes or not. So I drove across half of Wyoming, and then turned north towards Caspar. The Tank was still pretty cranky on the hills, and it was stalling out when I came to a stop. Pretty annoying. It stalled out in (seriously) Edgerton, WY, so I had to call my friend Erin to tell her about it. I stayed the night in Gillette - a town known for... well, nothing.

Friday morning, I got up, enjoyed the free continental breakfast (tip: always stay in hotels with free breakfast), and journeyed on. And the Tank stalled in Moorcroft - one town over. And wouldn't start again, no matter how many times I tried to get it going. Drat. Luckily, it chose to stall in front of an auto-body shop, so the two guys that work there, Levi and Eric, came out to push me into their lot. They figured it may have been flooded or something, so we let it sit for an hour. Still no starting.

So Levi popped open the hood and took a look inside. I don't know much about car engines, so I just looked and asked him to tell me what he was looking at. He found that one of the things from the cylinders was unplugged (so it was running on 5 instead of 6), and that the "points" that start the car were worn out. So the engine would turn over, but not spark. That's not good. He had his father-in-law go out and get a new set of points, and installed it for me. Still no luck starting the car. So he poked around a little more and decided to swap out the "coil" for another he had sitting around, and that did the trick. ($20) So that was Friday morning. I have to say, Moorcroft was probably the smallest town I've been in. Everyone there at the shop (which was Levi, his brother Eric, his wife, his father-in-law, and his baby son, Harley - as in Davidson) was... well... they had never been to a city. They were shocked that I was from NYC, and Eric said he would never live in a place that big.

Moving on... I went up the next 40 miles or so to Devil's Tower National Park. When I came up to the entrance to the park, I realized that I didn't have the $8 admission fee on me in cash, so I put the Tank into reverse to pull back out of the entrance. And it wouldn't go into reverse. Ack. So I tried to steer it in Neutral and get it back to the parking lot, but it didn't want to do that either, and instead it slipped forward into a little ditch thing that ran along the side of the road. I asked some strong-looking guys that were walking up if they'd help me get it out, and they did. They pushed, I steered. That's one heavy car.

So I turned around and went back towards Sundance, home of the Sundance Kid, and the next town along the highway. Please understand that I am in the middle of nowhere.

So I stop at a gas station in Sundance, and the guy there recommends a place down the street to have the car looked at. So I drive it down the street (being careful to only park in places where I don't have to back out of) to Terry's Auto, and this lovely, attractive, grease-covered man comes over to look at the car. He takes a few spins through the gears, and looks under the hood, and says, "Well, it's probably the transmission, I could get a new one here for you by... next Tuesday, and it'll be about $600 to fix." Ouch. To both of those. He suggested that I keep driving towards Rapid City, SD, and said there would be a few transmission places there to check out. Good idea.

So... onwards to South Dakota. I stopped outside of Rapid City, at a "town" called Black Hawk (leading me to note that the trip should be called "Black Hawk Down"), and pulled into the Stagebarn Auto Shop. They called Ed out to look at the car, and he confirmed that it was something in the transmission. He put the car up on the hoist and put her up in the air (I took pictures), and poked around underneath. I talked to the manager, Art, who called around and found a used, but newer, transmission that would work. He said they wouldn't be able to do the work until the next day, so it looked like I was staying overnight. It was only 3.30pm, and I'd spent most of the day in auto shops. Bleh. Art drove me across the street to the hotel - the only one in town, and pointed out the bar/restaurant next door. He said that happy hour was from 6 to 7, and he'd see me there (what else was there to do). So I checked in, sat in the pool and spa for an hour (glad I packed my bathing suit), and showered. Went next door and enjoyed some very cheap, but very bad wine. Art and I talked for an hour or so, and he said he would cut me a deal on the transmission - a flat fee of $350 for the parts and labor, instead of an hourly rate. I said that was fine with me.

After happy hour, I went back to the hotel and fell asleep. Got up the next morning to see snow all over everything! And the Tank with no heater! I called Art, and he drove across the street to pick me up. We had to wait an hour for the shop with the new transmission to have it ready, and I passed the time reading old People magazines and eating donuts in the shop. Everyone out here is so friendly. Love it. And it's beautiful with the snow all over everything.

Finally the new transmission was ready, so Art went to pick it up, and I chatted with Joe, who was doing the work. He had already taken the old one out (original - that thing ran for 32 years!) and was taking it apart so he could use the parts in case they were needed. Art came back with the new one and I hung around and watched the installation and cleaning etc. It was pretty fun, and I learned a bit more about how the engine works. Joe also hooked up the speedometer and odometer, which were connected by a cable in the transmission - that made me incredibly happy, I wouldn't have to worry about when to stop for gas now. So after a few hours, I was out of there, and back on the road ($366). The snow had happily melted off the roads and it was just raining a bit. I drove all the way across South Dakota, and stopped off for dinner at a "Country Kitchen." I could have eaten everything on the menu, I was that hungry. Back on the road, I hadn't gone 5 miles when a police car waved me to the side of the road and wrote me a warning for having a headlight out. No fine, just a warning and a "ticket" that I have to mail in once it's fixed. Nice cops out here, too. I kept on driving, all the way across the state to Sioux City, then south to Sioux Falls, IA. Iowa. Corn country. It was getting late, so I stopped in Missouri Valley, IA, for the night. The Comfort Inn was full, so I went next door to the Rath Motel (aka the Rat Trap Motel), where for $35 I had a room, complete with early 70's decor and bedspread, and a still-crawling bug in the shower. I passed on the shower, and went to bed instead. Got up the next morning and kept driving.

I think Sunday was my big driving day - I did 3 of the 4 "I" states (the fourth being Idaho) - Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, and made it partway into Ohio before stopping for the night. I did nothing but drive. 800 miles. With a stop at an outlet mall in Iowa - what can I say, I'm from NJ, we like malls. Bought two pairs of shoes and some pants and tops at the Old Navy store. So cheap.

I stayed overnight in Elyria, OH, not terribly exciting either. On my way out of town on Monday, I pulled into McDonald's to get lunch (no free continental breakfast at whatever hotel I stayed at), and the Tank stalled in the drive-through lane. I couldn't get it started again, so I put it in neutral and slid into a parking spot. I figured I would let it cool off for a bit, so I dashed through the rain and ate my McNuggets inside. Came back out and still couldn't get it started. Erg. I went to the gas station store next door, and one of the girls there came out with me to take a look at the engine while I tried to start it up. She wasn't sure what the problem was either, so she let me come in and use their phone to call a mechanic. I called Avon Auto, which was right down the road, and they sent a tow truck over ($51) to take the car down to their shop. Joe, the owner, said his partner was out with the flu and he was backed up that day, but they could take a look at it the next day (Tuesday). I shrugged and said I wasn't in a hurry, so he drove me back to the Days Inn near the interstate. It was pouring rain, and I was kind of cranky, so I napped for a bit, then decided to brave the weather for food. My umbrella, of course, was in the car. Which was at the shop. So I pulled on my Yankees cap (which I'd been wearing all week to keep the hair out of my eyes, shorter hair doesn't pull into a bun nicely), and went out in the rain. There happened to be - thank God! - a mall across the interstate, so I walked over the overpass thing and into Sears. Ahh. Mall. Did a little shopping, picked up some books to read and some Bath and Body Works stuff, and a large chicken sub at Quizno's - I put it all in my backpack and walked back across to the hotel. And pretty much did nothing that entire afternoon/evening. I called the shop as requested, and Joe said that it was the starter. Not a big deal to fix. Watched some CNN, ate my sub, read my books. And fell asleep.

Tuesday morning - woke up, called the shop, and Joe said he would have someone come and pick me up. About 20 minutes later, the Tank rolled up in front of the hotel, and Dave drove me back to the shop (with a quick stop at the 7-11 to get soda, where I promptly bashed my shin against a planter or something). It ran! ($97, including the tow)

I think Ohio is like a Bermuda Triangle for me - it turned out that I was about ten miles from where James and I had the blowout last summer and had to sleep at Wal-Mart. Anyway.

I drove drove drove through the rest of Ohio and into Pennsylvania. Whereupon the Tank, which had been going so smoothly, started to overheat. I pulled into a rest stop and let it cool down, and then filled up the radiator with water. It drove fine for another 10 miles or so, but then it overheated again. So I pulled off on the side of the road and popped the hood. And then I learned that you should always read carefully, as the radiator cap clearly says "DO NOT OPEN WHEN HOT" - and I didn't pay attention. So I scalded my left wrist and hand pretty badly and cursed for a few minutes while the engine cooled off enough for me to add more water. Still running hot. I got off at the next exit, in White Haven, PA, and pulled into the parking lot at the Comfort Inn. What a pain. I'm about 2 hours from home, and all I want to do is get there. So I go inside the hotel and ask if they can recommend a mechanic. It's about 6pm, and I give the guy a call - luckily, they're a 24-hour towing service and truck repair place, so Paul comes out to look at the engine. He pulls up, and looks at the radiator, but can't tell anything, so he has me follow him to his shop - not too far away, and the Tank made it alright. He pokes around inside for a bit, and unhooks some of the hoses. The inside of the radiator hoses are pretty nasty and just a little clogged. He pulls the thermostat out, and says that that should do it - it'll stop the engine from heating up. ($27)

I pull out around 8pm, and call Paul back at 8.15 - "Should I worry if the engine's still overheating?" "Yes." So I got off of route 80 at the next exit, and Paul sent the tow truck out with another driver to tow me back to his shop. ($62) The mechanic who was working the night shift (Paul had left) said that he didn't work on car engines (I was fuming at this point), and that I should bring it to their sister shop a few miles away - in the morning. Erg. It's 10pm, I'm cranky, I'm tired, and I'm cold. So I drove back to the Comfort Inn, and stayed there last night. The manager remembered me, and even tho the pool/spa room had closed 15 minutes earlier, he unlocked it for me so I could change into my bathing suit really quickly and soak in the spa for a while. I needed it.

This morning, I woke up at 7.30, enjoyed the free continental breakfast at the hotel, and drove the tank to the shop (Schlier's, in case you need a place not to go). The guy said they wouldn't be able to look at it until late afternoon. That's not what I wanted to hear at 9am. He gave me quick directions to another shop, and I drove there instead. And GarageTime, managed by Tom (who's also the town cop), fixed the car some more. Tom took the hoses out, cursed the work that Schlier's had done (it was shoddy and didn't fix anything), unhooked the fan, flushed the radiator system, looked at the gaskets, yanked out the dirty air filter that needs to be replaced, told me I needed a completely new radiator, bought me lunch (chili dog, $2), and charged me $20 for the work. He said that if it overheated again, to just pull off and let the engine idle until it cooled back down. I had to do that twice on the way across the rest of PA, but nothing serious.


So I drove the Tank back into NYC and to the apartment, and discovered that it doesn't like city driving. It kept stalling every time I would come to a stop. I got very good at putting it into neutral and then into park to keep it idling. Paul had said that that was a consequence of the radiator not working right. I stopped at the apartment and packed four boxes of books to take home with me, and then I drove to Matawan with no overheating at all, just a lot of traffic.

Had dinner with Mom, took my picture on top of the Tank (I promised the guys in SD that I would send them a photo to let them know I made it back alright), and took the train back to the city. I am very, very glad to be home. I called Ryan and let him know that the Tank and I were back in the area, and to call me back about doing the repairs.

And now, all I want it a shower and sleep. Probably not in that order.

very, very early on 5/7/02
OK, I'm off to the airport and to Oakland. I SHOULD be back in a week.

Wish me luck.

Dude, I found the Dodge Dart comparison guide online, with gas tank sizes and MPG etc. Very helpful! The standard gas tank size is 18 gallons, and the early 70's Darts average 19 miles per gallon. Love it. I fly out tomorrow morning - 7.15am flight, so I have to get a cab to JFK at something like 4.30am. Ugh. Must hit bank for cash first. I'm all packed and ready to go, I bought film and gifts for Dan and Perci (for car-sitting for me!), packed my cellfone charger and my Palm Pilot charger, and found my atlas and map of the US. It'll be an adventure!

The closing of The Last Five Years was a lot of fun - Erin loved the "Summer in Ohio" song, as I expected - as she's from Ohio. Afterwards, I chatted with Norbert for a few minutes and then we went over to (where else?) Marie's to sing showtunes. Happily, I got to email Norbert today to congratulate him on his Tony nomination.

Oh right, the Tony nominations came out today.

So yesterday was a long day. I woke up before 8am (ugh) and went to meet Dad at his building at 8.45. We caught the 9.37 train to Matawan, and took a cab over to the memorial service in Keyport. I wasn't thrilled with the Lutheran minister. While the service seemed exactly like a Catholic one, he was really stumbling over a lot of the parts, and when it came time for the sermon, it didn't seem like he knew Aunt Margie at all. He was just reading off a piece of paper. Unlike the priest at my Aunt Judi's memorial, who had known her and her kids all their lives. Anyway, my cousins Jimmy and Bobby showed up, and it was nice to see them again - Bobby's moving back to San Francisco in two months, and he asked me for Peter's number in Seattle so he can give him a call when he's out there.

We got a ride back to the Matawan station with Uncle Joe and Aunt Tina (who were taking my cousin Jaimee to her softball game) and caught the 1.15 train back to NYC. Quite a short trip to NJ. Erin called me from the airport bus, and said she was running a little late, so I hung out at Penn Station for her, and played Bejeweled on my Pilot until she showed up.

Erin is a total hoot. If Sherry is my evil Canadian twin, Erin is my evil Ohio twin. We had a great time hanging out yesterday. We walked from the apartment to the Seaport, and then up to Chinatown and across to Soho, before hopping the train to Times Square. Lots of walking... it was nice to finally sit down at Dallas to eat. It was Jen's birthday dinner, and we all chipped in to get her stuff from her wishlist - watching everyone at the table try to pass the birthday card under the table to have it signed was hysterical. Anyway, our waiter was incredibly slow, and Erin and I were trying to go see a show, so we left a little early from dinner and ran uptown at 7.45 to the theatre.

Since Erin's an Equity member, she gets a discount on several shows, so we ended up seeing Elaine Stritch's show - my second time there. And the show was just as terrific. Afterwards, we met up with Biff at Marie's Crisis and stayed til it was pretty late. Michelle and Kristoffer stopped in as well ("We were in the neighborhood and figured you would be here") Today Erin's at Blue Man Group for the matinee, and we're meeting up later to join James et al for the closing of The Last Five Years.

I took a stack of books home with me on Thursday for Mom to read. She called today to say that she wasn't going to be able to get through the Bill Bryson books because she was laughing too hard to concentrate. I love his travel writing - and I went ahead and added the rest of his books to my wishlist.

later on 5/3/02
I didn't love Spider-Man as much as I wanted to. I thought the movie went on far too long. Tobey Maguire was terrific tho. I poked Jen in the back of the head (she was a row ahead of me and James, it was crowded) when he took his shirt off and was flexing in front of the mirror. Somebody's been going to the gym

After the movie, James and I went to swanky delicious dinner down at Candela on 16th Street - we'd been there once before and the food was so good that we swore to return.

So after six (or so) years of years of knowing James, and a year or so of "So, how long have you guys been a couple?" "Oh, we're not," and a few assorted roadtrips, and several opening nights and many more nights of theatre, and two weddings and my class reunion, and a week of not being able to sleep because my stomach was tied up in butterflies (I think I just mixed a metaphor), I followed my gut and asked him out. As in "we've got the travel thing down, and the theatre thing, so do you want to try the dating thing?" It would be pointless to deny there's attraction there, and while James is one of my best guy friends, I'd kind of like it to be more than that.

And of course, I'm moving back to NJ in three - count 'em, three - months.

Our landlord sent us the lease renewal in the mail, they're raising our rent 1% - $20. Jen gleefully checked the "We are not renewing our lease, go away" box, and we'll mail that back when we're good and ready. I would have popped it in the mail today, but I seem to be out of envelopes. I need to mail my COBRA payment in, too.

OK, I'm being tangential. I'm very happy, but still have those freaky butterflies. Maybe I'll sleep better tonight tho, having gotten the dating question off my mind. With my luck, things will go terribly and... ok, nevermind, not thinking any further than right now.

Yay! We're having good movie luck - Steve bought a slew of tickets for Spider-Man for today, so Jen, James and I are going with him and a bunch of his friends. And then Jen got our Star Wars tickets for opening day - the 16th. We're seeing it at the Ziegfeld, the best movie theatre in NY, in the middle of the afternoon. That's so cool, I'm glad she picked them up (since did I know they were going on sale? No).

Tomorrow's going to be a crazy day. Dad and I are going to NJ for Aunt Margie's memorial service at 9am, and then we have to catch the 1pm train back so I can meet Erin at Penn Station around 2.30. Early day.

Well, I guess algebra isn't my strong suit. I took the test again today, and still missed it by two questions, so I'll have to retake the class when I go to college. I'm kind of looking forward to it, because I do know all the basics, and I do like math, so it'll be nice to re-learn the harder bits.

I'm back in the city now, going out to the The Pajama Game at Encores tonight, and then going down to Anil's with my friend Jerry after that, so I can introduce them.

My friend Erin from Ohio is coming in this weekend! I've known her for about a year now, from, and we never manage to end up in the same place. So it'll be nice to meet her and do theatre-y things.

I couldn't sleep at all last night. I was up until the sun came up, reading. And then I had the weirdest dream. Well, I've been having weird dreams for the past few nights. Two nights ago I dreamed that I was at some strange swanky hotel/B&B, with a jacuzzi and a pool in the backyard. And all of the bedrooms were interconnected and I kept walking into the wrong one. When I opened the closet, it was full of tissue paper and bags and boxes to pack your clothes in. Last night I dreamed that I was at Kati's wedding (which is scheduled for some unspecified time in the future when Bill finishes his PhD). She and I and Eve were buying film and cameras and found a nail salon in the back of the camera store, and had our nails done. And the woman just kept messing mine up and my nails looked horrible, but I didn't notice until I was back at the hotel. Very strange.

I mean, my nails always look horrible, I pick at them and they're really brittle. And I put on nail polish and then forget that it's there so it all peels.

Seriously, I just looked down at my nails and they're a mess.


Happy May.


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