Monday, September 29, 2008

Commuting Blog: The 16th Street Patco Exit

Hold on tight true be-loggers, this is going to be a very specific Philly post. As mentioned in previous posts, I have been commuting from New Jersey to Philadelphia via the NJ Patco line. I enjoy taking the train in the morning, most people are polite and quiet (except for one large African America woman who takes the 7:05 train, I see her at least once a week and she is on the cell phone every time I see her and she TALKS SO FUCKING LOUD). Besides the occasional loud talker there is one phenomenon that I don't quite understand; When the train arrives in Philadelphia, it makes fours stops - 8th & Market, 9th-10th, 12-13th, and 15th-16th. People getting off at the first three stops usually get up before the train stops so they can get out in time, however, people on the last stop do the same thing.

What makes this odd you might ask? The train doesn't leave for a good 10 minutes when it reaches final destination. It just sits there. Why should these people cram themselves at the door to get out when the train isn't going to move? You might be asking why this bothers me... there is a good reason. I am a big dude, so when I can, I like to sit at the front seat (where the commuter exits are) because there is just a little more leg room. These people get up and crowd around the door hitting me accidentally with their laptop bags and purses, they invade my personal space by grabbing the handle on the head rest (right next to my head)... On that subject: the train will stop at the last exit, there are 8-15 crowded at the exit around me, the train slows down making jerking movements and of course I have some old asshole in my lap BECAUSE HE CAN'T JUST STAY IN HIS SEAT!.

I am going to make this simple: If you going to the last exit on a train, stay in your seat until the train comes to a complete stop, the 3 seconds you saved rushing out the door isn't going to make a difference because if you are taking a train to work, you aren't that fucking important.

I have been noticing a lot more middle aged women riding the train in groups. While this may be lovely for them, it is terrible for me. These married family women seem to enjoy spending their 35 minutes on the train bitching about their kids and husbands - don't these women have anything else to talk about? IT'S AN ELECTION YEAR. Today, two miserable women sat behind me and Allison on the way home. The one woman was literally barking words (I could feel the words on the back of my head). I got up to move but there were no double seaters for me and Allison. The minute I got up, the loud lady's sidekick attempts to put TRASH ON MY SEAT!?! Even if I move, what the hell makes the trains this slob's personal dumpster. I shot her a nasty look and sat down with defeat. I was serenaded to the sounds of this woman complaining about:

1. Her husband not cleaning under the range after he spent the whole day cooking (He made a nice big pot of "gravy")
2. Her husband leaving the sponges "too soapy" when he was done cleaning
3. The fact that a hurricane was named after her step-daughter
4. The long drive to the King of Prussia mall
5. The long waits at the Cheesecake factory
6. Her dog not wanting to go outside to go to the bathroom due to the weather

Thirty-five minutes on the train with this woman and I feel nothing but sympathy for her husband and wonder why people can't keep quiet for a few minutes in a public area, PEOPLE ARE LISTENING AND THEY DON'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR BORING LIFE.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Wedding Blog: Part Three

The Wedding Blog: Part Three - The Home Stretch

People keep asking me if I am nervous, the answer is always no. With 16 days before my pending nuptials I figured its a good time to do the second to last blog about this wedding. Most of the milestones leading up to the wedding have occurred and I think it is a good time to record and reflect on my thoughts about that and bring this tale into the home stretch.

The Vendors
I think people in the business of weddings are a lot like South Philadelphia contractors - they do the work and call you back when they damn well feel like doing it. This is an interesting model, because nobody seems to want to return your phone calls and they have the lion's share of the money owed before they do the work. I don't know how this model came to be, but frankly it is insane. The one exception to the call back problem has been the reception hall, Celebrations, but I ended up getting into a minor scuffle 2 months ago with the owner/manager who is not the person working my account. He copped a major attitude on misprinted information, I got pretty pissed off at him on the phone but to my credit I (surprisingly) kept my cool while also conveying that I wanted to punch him in the throat. I am happy to say that since that day Frank has been nothing but nice and James (our account rep) has always been great.

The wonderful state on Pennsylvania has given me a little bit of concern in our home stretch. As stated before, organized religion isn't something I am too fond of, so Allison and I agreed early on that a "person of the cloth" was not an option. We hired a very nice woman who is a non-denominational, non-religious wedding officiant. Bucks County, Pa seems to have issues with anyone who isn't part of a "normal" church. Our officiant has filed all the appropriate paper work and the state has let her perform ceremonies since the new wedding laws have been put into effect, but the whole affair has left a bad taste in my mouth. As long as a person files the appropriate paperwork with the state, why should the state have a say on how the ceremony is performed and who does it. The state's "concern" is that people are profiting off of the act of marriage, and my response to that is do you have any idea how much a church asks you to "donate" to the church when you get married there. BULLSHIT! Also - the bitch at the Bucks County Court system ripped me off twenty dollars!

More on the PA Laws: Buck's County Marriage Laws

Bachelor Parties
If you have read the previous Wedding Blog entries (Part Two), (Bachelor Party Rant), (Part One) then you know the bachelor party has been on my mind for one reason or another, now that is is over, some concerns have faded, while news ones have arisen. My bachelor party took place in the Pocono Mountains on a lovely weekend in August. We had a weekend party in a house on a lake. Great location, Anthony made excellent food, an for the most part we just relaxed. My friend Marc couldn't make the trip and asked for a summary, this is what I wrote:

It started in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere; strong, dark magic was in the air. The dark magic so strong they blew (Name omitted) into an Asian massage parlor in the middle of nowhere that happened to be across the street from our hotel. (Name omitted) partook in the local Chinese customs which eased his sleep that night. The next day presented Pineapple Express, boardwalk fries, and checking into the actual cabin on the lake. Franks and beans were consumed by all, farts were released into Nate's sleeping mouth.

The next morning our sweet prince Nate and the man known as the Human Dumpling aka H.D. were awoken to a package of firecrackers being set off in their bedroom on a heavy skillet. The fireworks, not content to stay in the skillet, jumped from their origin point and melted the carpet in the room, as well as portions of H.D.and Nate's bedding. Laughter was had by all except for the HD who took great offense and refused to speak to anyone for the rest of the trip.

The night was spent with local entertainment being called in. She walked in and announced she had a 24 year old son as I walked out onto the deck passing my title of bachelor over to Roland for the nights festivities. After the entertainment left, beers and wrestling ensued with Nate almost killing me and me damaging his throat for at least the following week.

Rural PA offers a variety of tobacco and firework retail outlets, which we took glee in abusing. Every night was capped off with a rousing fireworks and cigar rally. Our last night the good officers of the county finally found us and informed us that we have been made marked men. Apologies and confiscation ensued. No arrests occured.

The ride home was marked with uncomfortable silence as Capt. Tony and the Human Dumpling exchanged harsh words throughout the weekend over the carpet which Tony had repaired at his own cost (which he looked to get reimbursement for - HD was in control of the security deposit funds and refused as Tony was one of the main masterminds). The term rat was levied quite a bit and I am unsure how that whole situation will resolve itself in time for the wedding.

I ate like crap, drank a lot of scotch, saw some drama and really bad fake tits.... it was a bachelor party with all the trimmings.


The weeks following the bachelor party has seen the person referred to as the Human Dumpling in the story almost completely fall of the face of the earth and not return phone calls or eventually call back a week or so later. This person has a role in my wedding, and it has been bumming me out that he has not been involved in the home stretch fun and is adding some stress on my otherwise peaceful path to this wedding.

Allison's bachelorette's party seems to have been a very different story. Held in Philadelphia in early September, many of Allison's friends from out of state came over to help her celebrate, and of course all of the local crew came out to party hard. While Allison was away, I had myself a little party at the house. Nate made a surprise visit, Tarun was annoying, Drew was angry, and both Frank Leones showed up (Reference: Frank Movie) Meanwhile Allison's friends partied and drank, then Clara showed up and made Allison do a rapid succession of shots (to Andrea's disapproval), but to her credit, she kept it together (more than I can say for me). The girls got home and partied with the remaining guys (several left at some point to go to a strip club but I don't seem to remember any of those conversations) and I had a glimpse of what the wedding week is going to look like and I have to say it looked damn good.

The Home Stretch

Vendors must be paid, and checks must be cut, we have to finalize the seating arrangements with the wedding hall. Quick Side Note: We sent invitations to all parts of America and it seems that only Philadelphia managed to lose or deliver our invitations weeks late. The last few weeks we have been going out and doing weeknight social hours with friends and for charities. We hung out with the future inlaws at a wine tasting, good food and conversation was had, seen a lot of Jack and Lorraine, going out to good dinners and concerts, been having good conversations with my parents and my brother in law & sister. I see glimpses of what my life is becoming, it doesn't look all that different than what came before, but it is a little lighter, a little more... fantastical.

Looking forward to seeing everyone on October 12th.