Thursday, August 31, 2006
I'm not sure whose screaming, exactly, work me up. There's about ten people in the inn, and I think about half us us let out a shriek when we realized what had happened to us. I don't think I did, but that's just because I was hurt. I heard the screaming, sat bolt upright in bed, and then jumped out to see what was wrong. But suddenly my pajama pants were too long, and I tripped. I tried to catch myself, but my arms weren't quite the right length either, so not only did I hurt my wrist, but I managed to face-plant myself on the floor. The impact hurt my chest, too, but I didn't realize quite why.
As soon as I pulled myself up by the dresser, of course, I could see in the mirror. I'd somehow turned into a girl, and she looked nothing like me - the real me, that is. She - I - whatever. The face in the mirror is asian, and kind of pretty, with short black hair and almond skin - just nothing like what I'm used to seeing there. It was just surreal, and I wasn't sure how to react until I heard another scream, much closer.
I cut through the shared bathroom to get to Jake's room, trying to hold my pants up. He had the door locked, but I guess what they say about adrenalin giving a person extra strength is true; I've lost six inches of height and who knows how much weight, but I was able to force the door open. When I did, I saw this topless redhead sitting up in Jake's bed, and my first thought was that Jake had done good last night. Then I remembered what happened to me, and I was suddenly like, oh, god... "Jake?"
The girl looked at me suspiciously, "who are you?"
"I'm Arthur. Something happened to me... to us, if you're who I think you are."
(S)he looked at me in shock, but she didn't scream the next thing (s)he said. "What did this?"
"I don't know, I, uh..." I realized I was staring at Jake's chest, because outward appearances aside, a nice pair of large breasts still appeals to a guy. I picked a shirt up off the floor and handed it to him. "Why don't you put this on; they're kind of distracting."
Jake did, not bothering to pull his longer red hair out from his t-shirt after. It was big for him, but it still pushed out and hung off the breasts. We didn't say anything for a second, so I held out my hand, saying to watch out, because the first step's a doozy. He put his foot on the floor carefully, wobbling a bit when he stood.
He was about to say something else when we heard another girl scream, and he looked at me (looking down), saying something about how it wasn't just us. I said I guess not, and figured we ought to go check it out. I picked his key off the dresser and handed it to him (I already had mine). We opened the door to find another girl there, fist raised. I twitched, but she said she was just about to knock. She also said that Drew was suggesting we all meet up in the common area, as soon as we took a minute to get dressed and calm down a little. I said okay, and so did Jake, and we went back to our rooms.
Dressing didn't help steady me much, though - my underwear feels loose around the waist, I've got to roll the cuffs of my pants up, and even though I don't have a rack like Jake and my shirts are too big, you can still see the curvature and spot my nipples pretty easy. The writing helps, though - it both makes it more real and gives me at least an illusion of cotnrol.
Now, to see if anybody else has any answers.
It must've started last night after the poker game. Maybe. Some of the guys were complaining about an itch or a rash or something. Can't remember if I did too. Too much drinking. I left the game early and crashed early and woke up in the middle of the night. I felt fine then. I really did. Wandered around bored and it looked like cabin was finally full and somebody had moved in to that last empty room down the hall from me. Wide awake at three in the morning I figured I'd do the blog thing again for Art. It'd been a really good day and I had a lot to write about and
It's gone now what I wrote before. I'd been writing for twenty minutes or something when I started to feel strange. Light-headed, maybe, a bit cloudy in the head. Then this tingle, this prickling sensation that crawled around my body like a small swarm of insects. First I thought it might be drugs--had some prick sprinkled something over the pizza?--but I'd never felt anything like this before. It wasn't painful, just . . . odd. Uncomfortable at times, sometimes almost pleasurable, like a shiver running up and down your spine.
I must've zoned out for a bit, lost in this weird feeling and just staring at the monitor. Then I shook my head and I suddenly snapped out of it. I remember that very clearly. It was like when you're half asleep and just starting to drift off and suddenly your whole body jerks, snapping you awake . . . yeah, just like that. Almost fell off my seat. My fingers were still resting against the keyboard. I could still feel that crawling tingling feeling, throbbing strong to weak . . . my fingers twitched to finish whatever I'd been writing . . . I immediately knew something was very wrong.
Wrong. Wrong? Holy shit what the hell is
Can't lose it now but -- when I first looked down at my fingers -- I'll always remember that -- how small they suddenly seemed, and the well-formed nail, rounded and reaching just a little past the tip. They were my fingers but they weren't. They moved when I wanted them to but they weren't mine, they were . . . a girl's fingers, small and slender. Then I raised them up to my face and long hair fell across my eyes and when I fell back my chest and I must've called out and
It's still happening. I just went to the bathroom and checked in the mirror. The tingling feels like it's deeper now, squirming around inside of me. I passed one of the guy's room on the way, Mark I think, he'd left the door open and there was light from outside falling on the bed and . . . and that wasn't a guy in the bed. But then, that wasn't a guy staring back from the mirror.
I'm still changing I'm going to . . . I
I have to get the hell out of here.
Oh...Pizza in Maine sucks.
Anyway, it was after the game broke up that things got weird. I was hanging out swapping war stories when the door banged open and in walked this girl. She was soaked, and looking more than just a bit desperate. On top of that, she's from Peru, and her English isn't real good. Seems she's looking for someone named Gem. She said she was supposed to be back in New York by now.
Well, since I am still minus a roommate, and with no staff around, Jeff suggested she crash in my room. Now, I don't mind cute young ladies spending the night, but this is a bit ridiculous. And it gets worse. As soon as she hit the room, she started going on about "Ropa" and pointing at the closet. I may not be the brightest star in the sky, but I caught on that she meant these were Gem's clothes. It took me a long time to get her calmed down. I finally promised we'd go to the police in the morning. It is kinda scary. Who runs off without their clothes?
So, she's sleeping now, and I'm typing. I can't seem to relax. It's like...I dunno. Like I've got this itch all over. I can't seem to get comfortable. Everyone else has turned in, I think. Well, maybe not. I did hear some rustling downstairs a little bit ago. I really should try to get some sleep. I'm dead tired, and I can't seem to type worth a damn. Damn, this crawly feeling. Almost like my skin is moving around. What do you want to bet I've got some kind of rash.
Ok...to bed. I'll worry about all this in the am.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
So I won't! Last night I got a look at all the free stuff you get for finishing the ATWI80B challenge. There's a t-shirt, a beer mug, some gift certificates, lots of good junk. First beer I had yesterday was a nice dark stout from Finland. I want to move to Finland. At the very least, I want to hit up the booth where I got that beer. It's like being in heaven, because I guarantee that God himself brews that beer, or maybe just drinks it.
This inn is not too bad. As expected, it's definitely a lot better than the Marriott. Some of the guys have been a little loud coming from and going to the festival. But that's just the way I like it. It's not like I have been having a hard time sleeping or anything. Haven't really gotten to know any of these guys, I think I recall meeting a guy named Jeff or something, but I was pretty wasted when I was talking to him.
I wasn't too drunk to remember the chick I banged last night. Cute little brunette who was clearly at her very first beer festival, if only because she's got to be no older than 21. She was a screamer - I love screamers.
Time for more beer. I'm going to have an extra ten pounds on me by the time I get back just from all of the liquid good. Whatever.
I travel a lot in my line of work. Sometimes I am gone for weeks at a shot. Television production companies hire me to work on their productions and sometimes they want me on site during “shooting”. Living on the road and out of hotel rooms can be rough, boring and lonely—but then I discovered poker. People everywhere play poker, and they are usually open to a complete stranger joining in a game. It’s a great way to spend an evening, meet new people, and more often than not, make a few bucks.
The Inn has a big open common area, so since I could not locate the Inn keeper, I just claimed it for the night. It was a perfect place for a game. I set up a table, chairs and put a bunch of beer on ice in a cooler.
The room was filled with photographs. Some of them looked really old. The weird thing was that most of the photos were eerily similar: different groups of people all standing in a line, staring straight ahead, with sad expressions on their faces. The photos creeped me out. If these were photos of previous guests, then the Inn has had a lot of unhappy residents over the years.
Art offered to buy pizza for tonight—actually he said he would just expense it out--but I declined, tonight was on me.
I should have taken him up on it. Getting pizza was a bitch.
No one would deliver to the Inn. When the first two places turned me down, I started the conversation with the third by asking where they did deliver. The overly cheerful girl on the other end of the phone told me, and the Inn easily fit within their area. So I ordered and then gave the girl the address. Then there was an awkward moment of silence, followed by “I’m sorry sir, we don’t deliver to the Old Orchard Inn”. I asked why not, and she only gave me “company policy”. I was annoyed by this time, but still trying to get pizza. So I promised a big fat tip if they would bend the rules, and to my surprise, she hung up on me.
I tried three other places before I gave up and just drove and picked up a pizza. I asked the kid at “Mike’s Pizza Eatery” if they delivered to the “Old Orchard Inn” and he gets a weird look on his face and says “No one goes up there, man”. He also wouldn’t tell me why.
Pizza strangeness aside, the game was a huge success. I was a little concerned when Art said he wanted to play—the guy wrote the book on poker...literally. He wrote one of those “how to play poker for dummies” types of books. Fortunately for me he had a huge “tell” whenever he was bluffing. Bad hands really showed up in his face, he even bit his lower lip once or twice.
Mark Lange was a decent player. He’s about my age and had some great stories about college football. He had a cool easy-going demeanor and seemed to be more interested in hanging out than actually playing. We didn’t bet him up to bad money-wise.
Mostly, people walked away with what they brought. No big losers last night.
Everyone did comment on how good the pizza tasted, so I guess everything worked out in the end.
Monday, August 28, 2006
I swung south toward Kennebunkport. (did I spell that right? I'll have to look it up. I doubt it's in a spellchecker) Maybe 41 is there? Heh...If I'm really lucky Bubba will be visiting his "dad." No luck though. I didn't actually think I'd see anything. But I walked along Dock Square and did some window shopping. Then down Parson's way. What a romantic spot....damn.... Well, guess I'll have to find a young lady to show it to.
Stopped by the Wood Island Lighthouse on the way back. Another romantic spot. This being alone sucks.
Speaking of that, though, I must have missed my roomie. Guess I'll see him tonight when he gets in. Weirdest thing...when I went to unpack, I found clothes in the closet and a couple of drawers. Women's clothes. I don't know whether to put them away or not. I'm kinda shy to touch them. It's late, though. So I'll see what's up with the roommate, then find the manager in the morning. Assuming this place has one. I haven't seen them either.
The beach eye-candy also goes way down, too.
It allowed me to get some writing and revising done, at least, which is handy. This probably won't be a long article - there's a good chance I get less real estate than the photographer coming down tomorrow does - so it will probably pay me just enough to offset the beer I've bought the rest of the folks at the inn. I think that's okay, though - if it winds up a wash, then this becomes a decent vacation - I've met an online friend face-to-face, had some good beer, and seen a new place. I haven't really taken a vacaton since mom died last year - I even worked straight through Thanksgiving and Christmas, and this is close enough to that for me to be refreshed before my first session on the autobiography I've signed to ghost-write.
One distraction - I finally answered that ringing phone this morning! That was a weird conversation. The woman on the other end was naturally surprised to hear my voice, and asked if Liz had shown up yet. I said no, and then she asked whether I was sure, that maybe she was in another room, and I said, no, it's all guys here. She said that didn't make any sense, it had been almost a week, and her family was going to get worried. I said I didn't know what to tell her, and she said that was okay, but sounded a little sad.
I almost went through the rest of the stuff in the bags, just to see if there were some clues about who she was, but I felt bad enough just opening the first suitcase - if the cell phone hadn't been right on top and I'd had to dig through a purse to find it, I probably would have stopped. It is a strange little mystery, though.
So the festival is split up into different countries. You can walk over to the Mexico area and grab a beer and tamale, or head over to England and have a beer to wash down your fish and chips--But once I discovered the German area, I spent most of the weekend there.
3 reasons the German area is my favorite:
Drinking songs. It’s a blast to get 40 to 50 mostly drunk people to sing as they drink. Add in the complication of trying to sing in a foreign language, the results are hilarious.
Beer steins. What better way to drink beer than an overly decorated, over sized mug? Add to that, a cool little cap with a small lever to keep you from spilling your beer!
Beer Frauleins! The beer babes serving the beer. All of them were blonde, stacked, and hot. They were all decked out in Bavarian costume too-- Short skirts with petticoats, lace-up vests, black chokers. Some of them were in braids. Hot!
So I spent wwwwaaaaaayyyyy to much time there. I got to know one of the Frauleins fairly well. Her name is Katrina, but since the hurricane, she goes by “Kat”. I thought we really hit it off. I realize now I was an idiot because the woman must be a good ten to twelve years younger than me—I’m 34. The problem is, most of the time I don’t feel like I am in my thirties. I feel like a kid—most of the time I feel like I’m pretending to be an adult.
So I usually don’t chase after women so much younger than myself—but the beer was flowing, and people were singing. She and I had several really good conversations about Texas (where I am from), how she wants to be an actress/how I know people in television production, and how we both love professional basketball. Plus, not only was she amazingly beautiful, she was funny. I decided to forget the age difference, and go for it.
As I get to the German area today, I see Kat just as she drops a tray full of beers.
Red faced, she quickly gathered everything up and headed away from the crowd. I noticed that in her hurried state, she didn’t see her bag of tickets (we give her tickets for beer) that she dropped. I grabbed the bag and followed after her.
I found her sitting on an ice chest behind a stand selling “sausage on a stick”. She had her hands covering her face, and was quietly crying. I start to back away, to give her some privacy, but she must have heard me walk up, and she looked my way.
“Your bag” I hand it to her. “You dropped it.”
She tells me that she would have had to pay for the beers out of her own pocket, if she had lost the tickets. She was very appreciative, and gives me a hug.
We share a moment, so I asked her out.
Her demeanor instantly changed and she lets me have it with a mean look and rush of angry words. “Does it ever stop? Do you know why I dropped that tray? Because some asshole stuck his hand up my skirt and groped me! And you thought just because you brought me my bag, I would go out with you? What are you, 40? You’re almost as old as my dad!”
She said a bunch of other stuff and then marched off.
I stood there feeling very old. I guess I’ll see the rest of the festival now, as I can’t see going back into the German area right away.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
I feel guilty, actually, for a couple of reasons. I wouldn't be having half as much fun if it wasn't for Arthur. I'm underage and don't have much cash and the festival's more expensive than you'd think. The whole reason the beer's free--sure hope he don't get in trouble for this--is because of this blog and I've been ignoring it the last few days. Well, that's not completely true. I erased a couple thing I wrote, 'cus I was drunk when I wrote them and it didn't make much sense and some of what I wrote was a bit embarrassing and personal.
So, what's this festival all about for me? I'll be honest: it's an escape from home. I'm starting college in a few weeks far from home and Pop sent me out here to 'clear my head'. His words, not mine. My head's pretty clear. Or at least I thought it was. The old man's clever in his own way. I did need some time away the family. The arguments with Steven were driving me crazy and Nee
Shit. I miss them. Which is the other reason I feel guilty. I shouldn't be having fun when they're still back home and
This isn't what I want to write about. The festival. I don't think I've ever drank this much before. Sure, parties down by the Quay back home or out in the bush and after a game... it's not like I've never been drunk before. But not like this! It's been almost a week of steady drinking, here in the cabin with some of the guys who've shown up or out at the festival with this gang I met or even down by the lake at night.
Some of the guys here are starting to piss me off. Yeah sure, they seem like nice enough people and all but they're all older than me and they kinda treat me like a kid. I might only be eighteen but dammit, I've never felt like a kid and I wish they'd stop treating me like one. Even if I only had my first beer two years ago doesn't mean I can't hold my own. Bet I could drink them under the table, even! It's not like I'm a small guy or anything. But it's not just that. I've practically raised my brothers and sister alone and I've been bringing in money for the family and I'll be damned if anyone's going to treat me like a kid anymore.
I came out here to be independant, you know? And yeah, sure, I can't buy my own beer but what the hell does that mean? I'm an adult now. I'm an adult now. Finally.
Freedom. There you go Arthur: that's what this festival really means to me.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Going back for more now! I'm going to start off with the stuff I know is good - England, Scotland, and Germany are up first.
Friday, August 25, 2006
I wonder how long they've been having this festival here without incident, because it seems almost inevitable that someone will fall off that big old pier There's plenty of security and all, but a crowd of twenty rowdy drunks often serves to camoflage the sneaky one, who slips through a crowd and then breaks his neck by going over the side and breaking his neck when he hits the beach. We've got old piers made into tourist attractions out in San Francisco, but they stick pretty close to the ground and water. This just strikes me as dangerous.
Gads, that phone's ringing again! I'm tempted to answer it, but to do that, I'd have to get the luggage out of the closet, figure out which bag it's in, and then root through someone else's things, which I really don't feel like doing. On the other hand, that may be what whoever has been calling for the last couple of days wants me to do - if he's left his phone in one of those bags, I imagine he wants it back, and he might be calling to ask me to ship it somewhere. I don't know how you leave all your luggage someplace, especially the part that includes your phone, but it seems like everyone who was here before us did. Maybe they were part of some package tour that forgot to collect their baggage. If that's the case, I'll have to find out who that company is and never use them.
Maybe I'll answer it next time. Meanwhile, I''ve got a brewer to interview.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Whatever. I'm here. Now, mind you, I would have much rather been up here LAST weekend to watch the Yanks kick the stuffing out of the Red Sox, but this is better than nothing. It's certainly better than having to listen to my idiot boss screeching at me at the top of his lungs. I hate taking orders from that little scumbag. It'll be nice to not have to listen to that little bitch whining at me for the next week or so.
But if there's one thing that is on par with watching baseball, it's beer. Augustfest was awesome last year, and it's going to be insane this year. I'm almost ashamed to say that I didn't finish the Around the World In 80 Beers contest last year, but this year, I'm going to TOTALLY conquer South Africa. Break out the hangover pills, I'm going to be wasted for a good long time.
And unlike last year where I was almost kicked out of that stuck up Marriott, this time I've got a reservation at this awesome, cozy little place in Old Orchard Beach, and pretty much everyone here is around for the same thing - getting beer and getting blasted. I'm sure some of these guys are going to be trotting the ladies home with them. As for me, it's almost a done deal. I'm sure there's going to be a sweet little thing tailing me home on the first day, just like last year.
Time's a wastin, it's time to get out and get sloshed!
You just never know where life is going to take you.
Less than 24 hours ago I was sitting on a rooftop bar in Grand Rapids, Michigan ...
And now ...
I'm sitting here in a bed & breakfast/inn/far cry from something that offers the amenities of modern life of which I am particularly fond in Old Orchard Beach, Maine ...
Writing on a blog shared with people I've never met before,
Wanna know what kicks though?
I haven't had to pay for a single beer in the last two days !!!
One of my business partners picked up the tab last night,
And this writer dude for Maxim who is spearheading the blog thing here at this inn I'm staying offered me beers if I'd spew my thoughts about this Beer Fest taking place.
Not a bad deal, huh?
As I always say,
Life would be good if one could travel through it never having to pay for a beer !
I guess I'm supposed to tell you a bit about me, so here's the 42. My name's Drew Dawson. I'm 38 years old, divorced, and a partner in an oversized, self-indulgent law firm where I pretty much slack off as much as I can. Did you ever see the movie Office Space ? There's a lot of life lessons in that movie, kids !!!
I'm here in Maine at a Beer Fest on what can easily be called "a whim". One of my partners at the firm, Luke, was supposed to be here instead of me. We were out drinking last night (Life Rule No. 4 - Always drink on Wednesdays. Life Rule No. 5 - Always drink on Friday) and ran into a friend of his that was leaving today for some All-Inclusive resort for which he had an extra ticket. Apparently, earlier this week he had broken up with someone the two of them were sarcastically referring to as "The Bitch" and with whom he had originally planned on going to the All-Inclusive, but now that he was single again, he wanted Luke to join him for a week of "excessive drinking and ass chasing". Nice. Luke is on vacation this week and next anyway, so it was a workable, spontaneous idea, as long as he could ditch his own plans. He had had our office manager, that'd be Julie, arrange for his trip here ... a trip east to a Beer Fest. I'm not quite sure what possessed him to let Julie plan this for him, Luke and her never have seemed to hit if off, I can't imagine he'd trust her with something like this, but he did.
Anyways, the more we drank last night, the more the odds of me ending up in Maine today increased. I had blocked next week off already and didn't have anything going on today or tomorrow that had to be addressed, so Luke convinced me to take his place on this trip and he'd go on his Ass Chasing excursion with his buddy. Chicken shit ... he's so afraid of Julie finding out that he wasn't going to go on the trip she had arranged for him that as long as I report back to him some of the details of the Beer Fest so that he can pass the lie to Julie that he actually attended it, the airfare and lodging are on him.
So at 9:11 AM I puddled the 26 minute flight to O'Hare,
Then popped a seat from there to Portland, Maine.
It really is amazing to me how easily one can go from one part of the country to another.
One's view world can change so quickly ...
That's about as deep and reflective as I'm going to get today,
Time for me to check things out around here.
Nice to meet ya'll,
And until next time ...
I'll save a beer for ya.
I feel like puking.
Oh yeah there you go. Somebodys gonna be pissed when they see the toilet tomorrow. Fuck it. Its been forty minutes Ive been starring at this stupid screen and what the hell I doing awake this early anyway..
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
I guess, too, that I should say a little bit about me. I'm Mark. I'm your typical ex jock approaching middle age. Well, maybe not too typical. After all, how many people can say they actually were All American in college and made it to an NFL training camp? 2nd round pick for the Eagles in '95. My NFL career lasted less than two weeks, though. A handful of torn ligaments in my right knee, and it was bye bye to football for me. Haven't been back either. I get the itch this time every year, but I just can't get myself onto a field, even to coach kids.
Anyway....I had my signing bonus, such as it was....so I wasn't real bad off. Bought a house and settled in to a real job up near State College working as a county rec supervisor. Yeah, I know. Mom said I should have had a real major, but I never figured on actually working.
What's all this have to do with being in Maine, at an old B&B with a bunch of guys I've never met, one of whom wants me to contribute to his magazine article? Not much, I guess, but I'm sorta stalling. When I finish all this background, I'll have to get to saying something meaningful.
Maine is very pretty this time of year. I always heard it was. The inn is beautiful. It'd be more beautiful if Shar....nope. Not gonna talk about her. She's gone, and I'm better off. Still, I was planning on a prettier roommate than what I've got. Who ever heard of putting someone else into your room when you booked for two but show up as one? I never have. But, I'm here, and I'll stay.
Side note...whomever it is I'm bunking with sure has a lot of luggage. I rode the new bike up, so didn't bring much. Hey...next post I can tell a bit about the bike! That'll fill space. Anyway...it looks like there's enough luggage for three people in here, not just one. Cripes! I hope they aren't trying to cram 4 into a room with two double beds. If that's the case, I am leaving!
Okt-Augustfest starts tomorrow. Art, you owe me those beers!
I wonder if someone has written a "How to relax for dummies"? I think I need to read it. Here I am on vacation, and what do I do? Do I sleep in? No-- I get up, grab my camera, and head out to get some pictures of the sunrise on the water. Sounds like tourist-like behavior, but don't let me fool you, I need the photos for a job when I get back. So actually, I was working, but I was enjoying myself.
In case you are wondering, I am a freelance 3d animator and motion graphics guru. I do graphics for commercials and corporate videos. It's a fun and challenging job and it takes up most of my time. I tell people that things have not changed so much for me since I was five-- I still color; only the crayons have gotten to be a whole lot more expensive.
I've made a promise to myself that I will only check my email 3 times a day. Once in the morning, midday, and just before dinner. I'm thinking if I can do this for a few days I might take it down to checking it twice a day... I would aim for once a day, but deep down I know that's never going to happen. What can I say? It's a sickness.
I would write about the beer fest-- which is why I am writing this blog after all-- but it doesn't start until tomorrow. I did walk around where everything is being set up and this looks like it could actually be pretty cool. Stages were being set up for bands and there is going to be a "Miss Barmaid" beauty pageant. I and my camera will definitely be in attendance.
Oh! My luggage showed up around lunch time. I was so happy to get my stuff, I over-tipped the delivery guy. I never know what people you should tip, or how much. I mean the airport lost my luggage, should I not tipped the guy even though he was not directly involved?
And one more thing: Arthur swears he doesn’t, but he snores. This is not normal snoring either, this is snoring that might show up on the ricter scale. I hope that fact makes it into Maxim.
It was my job to look for things outside the expected pattern, but first one had to recognize the pattern. And though it may sound strange to think of it this way, this is the way that we were taught to conduct our investigations, to conduct ourselves at the FBI.
Make a list, follow it, take notes, follow protocol, then arrest the
I keed, I keed, . . . about the black guy thing anyway.
Now, looking down at my phone, my list was a ranking of the horrible things that my boss had done to me since I had arrived here as my first assignment after finishing undercover training under the Bureau’s Milton School program.
With my brown hair, blue eyes and a love of outdoor sports, I expected that I might go to Idaho and infiltrate a gun-loving sect of gun-loving polygamist Mormons. Or maybe take down a few high desert biker meth labs back near San Bernadino. But I had no such luck, and my assignments were uniformly inappropriate – being asked to infiltrate groups that into which I would never ever fit.
There was the time that I had I was tasked with infiltrating a Nation of Islam prayer group. Though I was completely unsuccessful in obtaining any useful information, I do fondly remember those seven months as when I learned how to tie a real bowtie.
But now, this time, this phone call was even worse.
I was being sent to what sounded like an all-boys beer festival to look for evidence that the brewers were trying to market their products to children.
Oh god – this did not bode well.
Well, I try, at least. The flexibility is very nice.
This week is kind of unusual in that most of the fest's activities - at least, when it formally starts tomorrow - will be taking place in the late afternoon and evening, so it's good that I'm still kind of on West Coast time. It's weird, usually when I travel to the East Coast, I have to adjust myself, but this works out pretty well.
Of course, not everything's working out quite so well. What the Beach Boys said about California Girls is definitely true. The local girls aren't bad, but the best-looking girls I saw on the beach (non-Scandanavian Goddess "booth babe" division) were both French-Canadian tourists, and I don't speak a word of it. I imagine French is a more useful language class to take in high school than Spanish around here, exactly the opposite of how it is out west.
I'm also kind of disappointed that so far, all of the arrivals in the house are guys. I'd been hoping to get some ladies, as well, to add their perspective on this sort of event to the blog.
Ah well. Gives me an excuse for interviewing some later.
So I guess there's some point to this stupid writing thing after all. At least it's something to do while I wait to fall asleep. Wasn't expecting the bed to be so damn comfortable. Yeah, this cabin ain't the greatest but it's homey in its own way, I guess, kind of rustic and peaceful. 18-year old jocks should probably want to be closer to the party but right now I'm happy with a little quiet for a change. Might not last, though. Seems like a couple other guys showed up while I was crashing.
That Arthur dude was true to his word. I found some cans of beer in the fridge with my name on them. What the hell's Budvar? Some weird European knockoff of real Bud? That's what you get for hanging out near a festival. Tastes okay, though.
When I woke up I stared at the ceiling for a bit and thought a bit more about being out here and I'm feeling better about the whole thing. I mean, who the hell do I think I am anyway? The family'll get by fine without me. So I grabbed a couple of beers and went outside and it's beautiful out there, you know, really peaceful and all. The moon was up and peaking between the clouds and shining off the lake . . . it was a bit cool but nicely so . . . muggy, yeah, but a light wind took care of that. I sat down by the water and knocked back a few beers and I felt just a bit sad and....
Wow, am I sounding gay or what? It's just that it kinda reminded me of a few nights back, the night before I left, with Amy and all. Whatever. I'm outta beer. I haven't even upacked or anything. Think I'll go do that. May explore the house a bit. Work out until I'm tired. Watch the sunset or something. Later.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Give me a sec, I’m still recovering. I don’t know if I can go more than a couple of days without a fast internet connect. I guess if I need a fix, I can always find a Kinko’s and rent one of their computers by the hour. They have Kinko’s in Maine, right?
I finished up my latest project about 3am this morning and caught about 3 hours of sleep. I woke up moments before the alarm went off again. That’s like the 10,000th time I have done that.
I pack for an hour, toss the suitcase into the Jeep and head to a 9 a.m. meeting to drop off last night’s work. It’s the last thing I have to do before I drive over to the airport and catch my 1 p.m. flight.
I was just hours away from unshackling myself from the computer and taking my first vacation in years.
The meeting went long.
Traffic to the airport was insane.
I get pulled out of the security line and have to show all the contents of my laptop bag. I can’t be the first person to travel with an external hard drive, right?
I nearly miss the plane.
The airplane had problems with its heating system. You wouldn’t think that would be a big deal, but it was-- it got really, really cold up there for a while. People got nervous.
The person next me started making suggestions on the solitaire game I was playing on my laptop. That drives me crazy.
When I arrive in Maine, I find out the airline has lost my luggage. They know where my luggage is, it just got put on the wrong flight. They tell me they will deliver it in the morning.
It was a miserable trip. But you know what? The minute I stepped out of the Portland Airport it was all worth it.
It was 71 degrees outside. It felt wonderful. The weather in Texas has been brutal this summer, and when I left Dallas it was one hundred and three degrees. So to be outside and it to be so nice… it just made it all worth while.
So I survived the trip and drive out to the “Trading Post Inn” near Old Orchard Beach. I rented a convertible to enjoy the weather. I get horribly lost and it probably took me twice as long as it should have to find the place. Maybe I should have stopped and asked for directions, but what can I say, I’m a guy.
It’s late, Arthur is making rumblings about a “clambake” restaurant, and I think I am going to buy a t-shirt from a stand I found when I walked over to get my key to the room. If the airline doesn’t bring me my luggage, I will want something clean. Besides, the t-shirt I want says “Frankly scallop, I don’t give a clam”.
One more thing, and this is weird: The last guests left their luggage! My first reaction was—“Oh no, the Airline delivered the wrong luggage”. But Arthur said it was there when he got there.
More Later! It’s time to eat food and drink beer! Finally!
I’m too tired to be writing this thing, that’s for sure. I don’t even know what to say. It’s not like I’ve ever kept a journal or anything before. That’s Sis’s kind of thing—she’s the writer, she’s the geek of the family. Who’s got the time to write about their day, anyway? I sure never have.
I guess that’s about to change, though.
God, I’m tired. I’ve just spent a full day on the Greyhound getting out here. Longer. I kinda lost track of time. First the drive down to Portland, then the bus to Detroit. Portland to Detroit . . . wow. I never thought it was going to end. I mean, this is the furthest I’ve ever been from home and I thought the trip would be all exciting, but after awhile the scenery just becomes one big bright green and blue blur, then a dark blur, and then it just starts fading in and out as you drift in and out of sleep. I’ve got this kink in my neck like you wouldn’t believe. Chatted with a couple of different people for a bit who stayed back in Detroit, and that killed a bit of time, but . . . yeah. Brutal trip.
After the long haul, this final hop kind of flew by. Have to say this place wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It’s a bit run down and all, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised . . . it’s not like Pop’s had loads of cash to blow on this gift or anything.
So, yeah, I finally get here and all I want to do is crash and catch some sleep, but instead I find out there’s already another guy here. Arthur. Seems like a nice enough guy. Bit scruffy looking. Says he’s a writer covering the beer festival, and so he’s asked me to write about why I’m here staying at this funky old inn instead of nearer the party like the other kids. I hate it when adults call me a kid. I sure as hell don’t feel like a kid. Never have. Thing is, Arthur’s offered to buy the beer and God knows I need to save cash, what with college and all coming up.
So he wants me to write about the festival this weekend and how I love beer and stuff like that. He also says I should probably introduce myself or something. Fine. I’m Jeff. But right now, all I can think about is sleep.
That’s not true. All I can think about is home. About Pop and Sis and my Bros, and what they’re gonna do without me and if they’ll forgive me for taking off like this, and I’ve gotta say that beer’s the last thing on my mind.
Screw this. I’m crashing.
It should be a fun assignment; Maxim is doing a beer-themed issue for October, and I managed to wangle an assignment to cover Old Orchard Beach's "Oktoberfest in August". I guess the idea is that nobody really wants to come to Maine in October, and even if they did, this is the kind of tourist town that more or less shuts down after Labor Day, anyway. It's cutting the deadline kind of close, but I just look at that as "less time for the editor to fuck everything up."
(I kid. The editor over there is great, and not just because he is reimbursing me for expenses.)
The whole thing was kind of last minute, to the point where the only place I could find to stay was here at the "Trading Post Inn". The brochure says it was a trading post a couple hundred years ago, but it seems to have been a bed & breakfast for nearly as long, now. It's got a nice location right on the beach, but some of the amenities leave something to be desired - I'm using dial-up right now, for crying out loud. There's not even any staff here, really; I had to check in and collect my keys from a motel three doors down. The "breakfast" part of the equation is apparently just bagels and orange juice dropped off every morning.
Not only that, but they told me they couldn't let me book the two-bedroom suite (which was all that was left) solo. I said I'd pay for the whole thing, but the guy on the other end of the line said that the inn is actually owned by some sort of estate or trust, and the management contract is very specific about each bed being occupied. I wound up talking an on-line acquaintance into coming up to bunk with me; I get the idea that Jake works too hard anyway, and could use the vacation.
The only catch I imposed on him is that I'd like him to add his thoughts to this blog, too. I think it would be a neat angle to get multiple views of the fest and then synthesize them into one article; hopefully we can talk some of the other folks staying here into participating, too (just stick your name in the title so that I know who's writing what). I'll buy some beers for whoever wants to pitch in. Or, rather, Maxim will. I think I can sell that.
Looks like I'm the first person here; flying into Portland rather than Boston was a good idea - the first train up from there doesn't arrive until noon. Now I think it might be time for me to get a little shut-eye - I slept a little on the flight from San Francisco, but apparently not enough.