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3:14 pm - Wednesday, Sept. 05, 2007
Still Going On About My Vacation

Still Going On About My Vacation

Weds 9/5/07 (Noon)

Arrived back in L.A. early yesterday evening.

The flight was uneventful, though on the last leg of my journey–from Atlanta to LA–I started going a little stir-crazy, wishing I’d opted for an aisle seat (the better to go to the bathroom, stretch my legs, etc.).

Between baggage return, waiting for the shuttle back to Union Station, and taking the Metro back to my apartment, it was nearly an hour-and-a-half before I got home from the airport. Then, since my car was parked on the wrong side of the street for today’s street sweeping, and there wasn’t any “Thursday” parking left, I had to drive to ArcLight, park in the ramp there, and take the Metro home (Stopping at Borders to have something to eat at their café, since I didn’t have anything to eat back at the apartment). So it wasn’t till maybe 11:30 L.A.-time that I was finally home for good.

It was a long day.

I wasn’t ready to leave for LA when it was time to leave yesterday. I don’t mean I wasn’t packed, or anything like that; I just didn’t want to go (I actually found myself wanting to cry at various points, though I managed to keep myself under control).

But what could I do? It was time to come back, and resume my action-packed LA existence.

And I while I would like to have had another week or so in Lansing, I feel like I squeezed a lot of fun into the time I had.

Spent Friday morning with Mark and Jane, and their grandson, Anderson, a sturdy 19 month old with strawberry blonde hair, who’s one of the happiest toddlers I’ve come across–a very good-natured lad (They also had him yesterday morning, as they dropped me off at the airport).

I enjoyed observing young Anderson, but at the same time, I thought once again that it’s probably best that I don’t have kids; I just wouldn’t have the juice to keep up with a toddler.

(While I liked Anderson quite a bit–He’s Emily and Chad’s son. Emily is Jane’s daughter, for those not in the know--I wasn’t nearly as enamored of another member of the family–Their dog Carmella, a yappy chihuahua/poodle mix. She had to bark at me pretty much every time I emerged from my room in the morning, or came in at night, or re-entered any space I’d momentarily left, I guess because her tiny little brain couldn’t remember that she’d already met me. It wasn’t till I was about to leave that she started realizing I wasn’t the enemy, and that Mark and Jane were safe in my presence.)

That evening, I met with some of the Schuler Book people–Mark and Lynda N., Carol, Rhoda, Holly, and Ward–at Emils, an Italian restaurant that’s one of my three favorite places to eat in Lansing (The other two? The Flapjack Shack, and Claras).

We waited at the bar for a time, then got a table, and had a nice meal, chatting about this and that, just catching up and having some laughs. It was a lot of fun (I worked at Schuler Books for ten years, working with some of these people almost that whole time–actually, I did work with Rhoda that whole time--so they were a pretty meaningful part of my Lansing existence).

Afterwards, Ward said that if I wanted to go over to the Green Door–which was a major “hangout” of mine for years–he’d “buy me a beer”.

Well, he ended up buying me four or five beers, as we hung at the bar, chatting and listening to the band (Ward’s an amazing guy. He can talk at length to anyone about anything. He’s also author of one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard anyone say about getting older–“If I’d woken up at 20 feeling like I do now, I’d have thought I was dying...”).

I’m embarrassed to say that getting back to Mark and Jane’s afterwards was a little more challenging than I might have hoped (Between my legendary poor sense of direction, my relative inexperience driving at night, my having been away for years, and some idiosyncracies of Grand River avenue, I was so frustrated I was ready to pull over and sleep in the car that night). But employing the technique I first started using in LA–when lost or “directionally-challenged”, drive around and around till something looks familiar, then go from there–I did make it back to their place eventually).

On Saturday, Mark and Jane were mostly involved in getting stuff together for the big party.

After giving me a call, Tom H. picked me up, and he and Mary and I worked through our two songs at their place, then went to the Flapjack Shack for lunch, which is near their house (Mary’s son Marty works there, so it was a nice opportunity to see him as well).

Silly as it sounds, I felt a little disloyal to Kevin K. for going there without him–“The Flapjack Shack is our hangout...”, I thought to myself–before deciding it was okay, since Tom and Mary and I were having lunch, and me and Kevin always went there for breakfast (Back in the days when we used to jog briskly/run slowly–I can’t remember which--on Sunday mornings; we’d exercise, then go eat a 2,000 calorie breakfast).

In the evening, there was the party, which as I’ve said before, seemed like a big success.

Afterwards, I went to The Irish Pub (Seems to me like they forgot to give it a real name) with Jeff and Jennifer E., Laura C., Jane’s son Nathan and his wife Katrina, and Jane’s nephew Ryan, who I think had had more to drink than the rest of us put together.

The four “performer types”–Jeff, Jennifer, Laura, and Yours Truly–did a pretty good karoake version of “Proud Mary” (The DJ was shutting things down soon after we got there, but Laura sweet-talked him, and he said we could do the one song). We didn’t stay that long, but it was fun, albeit with some moments of weirdness (Ryan asking me for advice about his art career, about which I know nothing; Jennifer and Laura fighting over who would get to take me home; Jennifer trying to get a rise out of Jeff by saying things like, “Jeff, is it weird that I’m attached like a magnet to Jim Hoffmaster...?”).

On Sunday, Mark and Jane hosted a family brunch. And while Jane took pains to let me know I was invited–I’m something of an honorary “family member”, after all–I took that opportunity to have a nostalgic Flapjack Shack breakfast with my good buddy Kevin K.

After the food,--and enough coffee for five or six guys our size–we went to Holiday Lanes, where he pretty much dominated me on the lanes, and I pretty much dominated him at the pool tables.

Just like the last time I went back to Lansing, I was reminded of how easy and comfortable I feel around Kevin, and how much I miss that effortless, relaxed camaraderie.

At one point, on Sunday evening I thought I’d be spending time with Bruce and Erin B., or maybe Kristie D., but neither of those things panned out (I called Bruce at one point to see what their weekend looked like, and he said he’d talk to Erin when she got home, but he never called me back. And I never even figured out how to get ahold of Kristie D., leaving me wondering if she’d actually moved or something).

So since Tom and Mary had expressed interest in seeing more of me–go figure--I ended up back at their place, where we watched The Lives Of Others, a movie I’d missed when it was at ArcLight awhile back (It’s very good, by the way; if you haven’t seen it, stop reading this entry right now, and go rent it. Or at least put it in/on your Netflix que).

And I think I’ll finish up “Jim’s Big Vacation Adventure” in my next entry (Don’t worry–I’ve just got one more day to write about).


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