I'm a Stranger Here

The public journal of a Philadelphian in Chicago

That place where the bones of life are piled
I know somethin' has changed
I'm a stranger here and no one sees me
'Cept you, yeah you.

-- "Nobody 'Cept You", Bob Dylan

Friday, December 10, 2004

Before I head out...

Are you hanging up your stocking on your wall?
It's the time that every Santa has a ball
Does he ride a red nosed reindeer?
Does a ton up on his sleigh
Do the fairies keep him sober for a day?

So here it is merry Christmas, Everybody's having fun
Look to the future now, It's only just begun


--Slade, "Merry Christmas Everybody"

Hey gang,


So so sorry for being...how you say?...ah yes...MIA! It's been a crazy few weeks, but that's really no excuse for not updating you on happenings here and abroad. I mean, how long does it really take to write a five minute post?

Uh, five minutes, I believe.

Smartass.

Well, there's absolutely no possible way I can summarize all that's happened since I last wrote. But I'll give a few highlights:

1.) On Nov 6 (the last day I really posted), my uncle was in town - he is a bigwig at RiteAid and was here for a vendor show. Basically, he was being wined and dined by drug companies who wanted him to stock their wares and I came along for the ride! I met him and two reps from a generic drug company (angling to produce Rite Aid brand tylenol and such) for dinner at Shaw's Crab House, a restaurant par excellence. The mood is distinctly East Coast (i.e. New York) in the Forties. Why not Midwest (i.e. Chicago) in the Forties?, you might ask. Shhh..Big Brother might hear you! Why that's pure crimethink! Anyway, I had the $50 Alaskan King Crab and enjoyed every morsel. And don't get me started on the Oysters Rockefeller! Afterwards, we went to some generic club filled with the standard assortment of vacuous types. It was a very odd experience to be the "wingman" for three gentlemen in their fifties. But that, as they say, is a story for another day and another medium (AOL IM, not, Susie, MSN Messenger!). Highlight of the evening? Being driven home in a white stretch limo - a first for me, since I never went to my junior or senior proms. I was most amazed that a half-drunk beer I'd left in the cupholder was still ice-cold several hours later. The wealthy and powerful have it all: jetliners, servants, perpetually chilled alcoholic beverages....

2.) I went home for Thanksgiving and had a splendid time! A brief synopsis: I flew out Tuesday night, thank God, since Chicago was hit with snow the next day. Colleen met me at the airport and my heart melted as soon as I saw her in the baggage claims section. (Was ever a more romantic sentence put down on paper?) We hung out for a bit, then I went over to Tom's place (where I was staying for the night), but not before stopping for a quart of Yuengling at Kelliann's. Note: they've redone the place to look like a cross between Copabanana and 2 Goodfella's, which was extremely disconcerting! Tom and I split the heavenly lager while catching up and then both of us retired to bed.

The next day, I went to the lab, seeing nearly everyone save Elena and Scott. It was so nice to be back on campus - it felt like I'd been gone for a week at most. I think that wherever I go, University City (and Philadelphia in general) will always seem like home to me. Anu and I then went to New Deck Tavern where Bill and Andrea soon joined us. The old pub has an improved and invigorated menu, with more "Irish" items, including assorted meat pies and beer cocktails like the Snake Bite and Black Velvet! After a drink or two, Billdrea and I went to Bubble House. Then I met up with Colleen and we went to Abyssinia, accompanied by Justin, Ryan and his new girlfriend Shenna ("It rhymes with Jenna.") Ryan, if you don't know, is Justin's friend and roommate from his university days he's now doing Americorps in San José, Ca., which is where he met his girl. Rick then met us as we were leaving, and he, Justin, Colleen and I went to MarBar, the new swanky pad atop Marathon Grill (which, for those who've been off campus for a while, is next to The Bridge, which, for those who've really been off campus for a while, is where the Burger King used to be...) Then Justin drove Col and me back to Lancaster...where I was surprised by the latest addition to our family, Higgens, the loveable Yorkie puppy (pictures to follow). He's four pounds of aggression and child-like fury, a no-nonsense canine with teething issues but a heart of gold. He may be a wild-child, but he's already litter-trained, thank you very much. Seriously, it was really nice to have a pet in the house - 1201 Grants Place has seemed so empty since we lost our Hannah last winter.

Thanksgiving day was nice but a little unusual. Mom didn't want to cook Thanksgiving dinner for it was too much work, so we went to an inn. But, then, we had traditional Thanksgiving dinner anyway that Sunday.
Does not compute! Does not compute! Does not compuuuuuuuuu......Anyway, it was better than I expected (the blazing fire behind us helped), but still, it's rather odd experience to be served one's Thanksgiving dinner and not allowed to pick and choose from among favorites (like, say, stuffing) nor have the option of seconds (the real reason that the Pilgrims fled England for America!)

The next day, Thomas, Carlos and Andrew came over. We went shopping on the maddest day of the year, Black Friday at the Tangier outlet mall. I now am the proud owner of a pair of black pants (yes, I've officially become a
Penn sorority girl), a pair of very cool grey suede Skechers sneakers, a multicolor wool sweater from The Gap and two new pairs of jeans. Much hilarity later ensued when, upon returning home, we watched a video I had made for my sixth grade class ("The Making of Swamp Thing"). Some thoughts: 1.) I'm still amazed at how strong a Philly accent I had - I wonder how, why and when, exactly, I lost it! 2.) It's interesting to note that even at the ripe old age of 11 I had an impressive vocabulary and used it at every opportunity. 3.) Boy, was I a fat-ass! And the too-tight sweatpants really didn't help at all.

Saturday and Sunday were spent lazing about. I watched some episodes from
Ren & Stimpy and Doctor Who, which I had had sent to Lancaster. I spent some QT with my bro and my girl. And I just relaxed. Aunt Carol along with my parents' obnoxious friends joined us for Thanksgiving Dinner v 2.0 Sunday night. The brown bread and oyster-sausage stuffing were, as always, absolutely delicious.
On Monday morning, 4.30 am, poor Justin drove Colleen and me back to Philly. I had the brilliant idea of booking a flight for 6.25 in the morning. Ugh. My sadness at leaving Philly/Lancaster (hereafter referred to as Philcaster...or maybe not...) was tempered by the knowledge that in a scant 11 days, I would return.

3.) Exam week (Fri 3 Dec - Fri 10 Dec). Ugh. That about sums it up. On Tuesday, I had my Immunology final, which, though challenging, wasn't that bad. The Protein Fundamentals exam, which I had this afternoon, was another matter entirely. I hadn't done too well on the midterm, so I was really quite nervous: I had to do well. But I knew, in the back of my mind that all was lost. 2 hours, 13 pages, and 19 questions (with subsections A (i.), A (ii.), A (iii.), B, C, etc....) later, I was left absolutely stupefied. The fact that I'd been running on caffeine (half-a-pot of coffee and an Adrenaline Rush for good measure) and nothing else surely didn't help. Afterwards, I spent an hour or so recuperating at Matt's place, before heading to the store to do last-minute shopping. For, you see, I threw a Christmas party tonight! Hot mulled wine, spiked eggnog and applejack were the stars of the show! It was a relatively small gathering (no more than 7-8 people at a time, 12 total), but very successful. I got to show off my Christmas tree and say farewell to my newfound friends here in Chicago. For I leave for Philly this very day! 1 pm CT take-off, 4.15 ET arrival. Twenty-five days in Lancadelphia! Woooooo-hoooooo!

Ok, I promise to post when I'm in Philly! And I'll take plenty of pictures! So, see youse soon!


Higgens, wonder-pup.


Isn't he the cutest?


This one's for Susie!


Me & my girl!


With Rick and Colleen at MarBar


The gang at Abyssinia


Thanksgiving...at the Inn....


The Black Friday Taskforce!