Tuesday, May 30, 2006

the light at the end of the shih-tzu

On their way home from Spoleto today, my parents stopped and picked up Miss Ellie, their new puppy.

La-Di-Da (aleva sholom) would have wanted a little sister this cute, smart, and loving. Sure, it'll take her a little time to adapt to living in Hilton Head, but she will, and she'll become another fluffy ball of unconditional love. I cannot wait to abscond with -- I mean, er, visit -- her in mid-June.

Welcome home, puppy!!

hell hath no fury like a woman sneezing

When we moved in to our one-bedroom loft apartment, we asked the agent several times if we were allowed to install an air-conditioner. Although the bedroom window is a crank-open glass pane over a screen, the agent assured us, absolutely and positively, that the window could be refitted to install A/C.

We didn't have it done, that first summer because -- hello, it's Maine. There are maybe three months out of the year during which indoor cooling is absolutely necessary, and then only because our apartment has a western-facing skylight that gets direct afternoon exposure. We decided to be good, environmentally-friendly Mainers, and stored our trusty little window unit in our garage locker.

Fast-forward to today. It would seem that, this year, I have developed allergies. I am sure they are not extraordinarily severe in the grand scheme of allergies, but they are uncomfortable enough that they are interfering with my everyday activities.

All conventional wisdom -- Mom, Mom-in-law, doctor friends, random girl-on-the-street-types, et alia -- points to having the air-conditioner installed to help alleviate the symptoms. The air purifier can't do the job alone, particularly if we have to keep all the windows open to get some circulation and cool air flow. So Jim called the management company.

Who insisted, almost immediately, that our unit can't have an air-conditioner installed.

Cue righteous anger.

I mean, the management company has never really impressed me with any kind of take-charge, done-yesterday attitude. Requesting services usually involves several phone calls until someone familiar with this building actually determines if said service can be completed, and if it can, well, then the capable-but-laconic maintenance staff will usually show up ... at some point. (Again: Maine. Things don't happen in a hurry here.)

And I know, too, that the agent who rented us our apartment in the first place no longer manages the property -- in fact, she may no longer be with the company -- and she definitely gave off an impression of, well, overwhelming ditziness.

Still. I'm sure that if I had a decent amount of carpentry knowledge -- and, er, my best friend nearby -- I could go to Home Depot, get a normal sliding-pane window, replace the crank, and install the A/C unit. Seriously. It's a window, otherwise known as "a hole in the wall that a frame, a screen, and some glass have been fitted into to provide light and air."

I sent a very strongly worded e-mail to the property manager, cc'd to Jim. He was impressed with my "forceful and forthright" wording. I decided it was less "forceful and forthright" than "impotent renter hissyfit in professional clothing."

If I don't hear back, she's getting a very nasty voicemail after business hours today, and I just may head over to Home Depot.

Which can't be good for re-rental value, I'm sure.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Last night we went -- at the urging of one of Jim's work colleagues -- to see an 80's cover band play at a local bar.

The band's official name is The Awesome. You have to give a local band credit for naming itself The Awesome. I mean, come on. It would be so very easy not to be awesome, and then where have you landed yourself?

Moreover, I'm not usually one for crowded humid bars with beer served in plastic cups of the sort that you can buy at the grocery store. There was a reason I chose a college without a vibrant Greek system and studiously avoided final club parties.

Still, I do have a weakness for good 80's pop (i.e., er, I rather love it), and so I was willing to give this a go. I tried to do some intensely 80's-esque eye-makeup, and we went for drinks beforehand with Alisa and Dick, then all headed over to the Big Easy fashionably late.

Well, I guess I have to renounce all those aversions to beer-coated floors and sweat-soaked frat boys. I fully endorse seeing The Awesome if ever you are in Portland, Maine when they are playing, because: damn.

These folks take their 80's music really, really seriously. They actually did a costume change in between sets and came out in entirely different, "did they really save that from 1983?" outfits. Beyond that, though, they were good. They channeled bands that have no right to exist in the collective memory, and...man. I cannot remember the last time I had that much fun at a dance party.

You may think that 80's music is not worth paying a $10 per person cover charge, but you would be horribly, horribly wrong. Like it or hate it, 80's music is ridiculously danceable, and you'd be surprised how many lyrics your brain has held on to at the expense of surely more important information, like, say, your father's birthday, your best friend's phone number, or perhaps your own blood type.

Don't believe me? Scan this mere sampling of their playlist:

Africa (Toto)
And She Was (Talking Heads)
Automatic (Pointer Sisters)
Baby I Can't Wait ( Nu Shooz)
Borderline (Madonna)
Break My Stride (Matthew Wilder)
Broken Wings (Mr. Mister)
Burnin' Down The House (Talking Heads)
Can't Go For That (Hall & Oates)
Cars (Gary Numan)
Cruel Summer (Bananarama)
Dancehall Days (Wang Chung)
Devil Inside (INXS)
Don't Dream It's Over (Crowded House)
Don't Worry Be Happy (Bobby McFerrin)
Don't You Want Me (Human League)
Down Under (Men At Work)
Dress You Up (Madonna)
Easy Lover (Phil Collins/Phillip Bailey)
Electric Avenue (Eddie Grant)
Enjoy The Silence (Depeche Mode)
Everybody Have Fun Tonight (Wang Chung)
Everybody Wants to Rule The World (Tears For Fears)
Everything She Wants (Wham)
Eye Of The Tiger (Survivor)
Fascination (Human League)
Freedom (Wham)
Get Into The Groove (Madonna)
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Cindy Lauper)
Girlfriend Is Better Than That (Talking Heads)
Head Over Heels (Tears For Fears)
Heart & Soul (T'Pau)
Holding Out For A Hero (Bonnie Tyler)
Hold The Line (Toto)
Hungry Like The Wolf (Duran Duran)
I Don't Wanna Lose Your Love Tonight (The Outfield)
Into the Groove (Madonna)
I Wanna Dance WIth Somebody (Whitney Houston)
I Want To Know What Love is (Foreigner)
Land Down Under (Men at Work)
Like A Virgin (Madonna)
Let's Hear it For The Boy (Deneice Williams)
Maneater (Hall & Oates)
Money For Nothing (Dire Straits)
New Sensation (INXS)
No One is To Blame (Howard Jones)
Notorious (Duran Duran)
Obsession Once In A Lifetime (Talking Heads)
Our Lips Are Sealed (Go Go's)
Out Of Touch (Hall & Oates)
Part Time Lover (Stevie Wonder)
Party All The Time (Eddie Murphy)
Promises, Promises Rio (Duran Duran)
Safety Dance (Men Without Hats)
Self Control (Laura Branigan)
She Works Hard For The Money (Donna Summer)
Stepping Out (Joe Jackson)
Stop Draggin' My Heart Around (Stevie Nicks/Tom Petty)
Sunglasses At Night (Corey Hart)
Tainted Love (Soft Cell)
Take On Me (A-Ha)
Talking In Your Sleep (The Romantics)
Things Can Only Get Better (Howard Jones)
Throwin' It All Away (Genesis)
The Tide Is High (Blondie)
Time after Time (Cyndi Lauper)
Too Late For Goodbyes (Julian Lennon)
Total Eclipse Of The Heart (Bonnie Tyler)
View To A Kill (Duran Duran)
Walkin' On Sunshine (Katrina & The Waves)
West End Girls (Pet Shop Boys)
Who's Gonna Drive You Home (The Cars)
Would I Lie To You (Eurythmics)
99 Red Balloon (Nena)

See? I bet at least twelve of those songs are now cycling through your head in their entirety, right? Heh. Told you so.

That's not even all. After yelling out "Bangles!" several times in the interstitial pauses, the band struck up a phenomenal rendition of "Walk Like an Egyptian." Jim was rather impressed that I knew all the words. (The singer had a lyric sheet. Hee.)

You know you want to experience this for yourself. I bet I'll see you at the next performance.

Dude. It'll be awesome.

Friday, May 26, 2006

my doctor friends call it "catching"

Jim and I decided to take the blanket off the bed when we put clean sheets on just now. Not that it's, you know, warm here or anything -- more just wishful thinking, and the fact that I didn't feel like dealing with putting it back on the bed after removing it to do the sheets.

So we folded it up rather nicely and then I realized, "I have nowhere to put this damn thing." I decided I would shove it into a space roughly a quarter of its actual volume located under the bed.

After a good minute of shoving and grunting, Jim offered to take over, to which I responded, "Hell no. At this point, it's a matter of pride."

I finally got the [redacted] blanket stowed away, thank heavens.

Jim said, "You know, with your arms stuck under the bed like that...It reminded me of...what's that line, you know, from Gone With the Wind?"

We looked at each other, and simultaneously we both burst out with: "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies!"

And this is what happens when we live in frickin' Maine. We are in such trouble if we move farther south, y'all.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

two left feet

So You Think You Can Dance is back for a second season.

I'm not usually big into reality television. I've never seen an episode of Amerian Idol or Survivor and I don't generally care about the kind of show where people get voted off each week. Even though I like the dancing, I didn't watch Dancing with the Stars.

But something about SYTYCD, with its every-gypsy's-casting-call writ large across the screens of America, is utterly compelling. Sure, the early audition stages bear witness to people who really do only think they can dance, and you have to cringe in embarassment for them -- and the network makes good use of that. (Tonight's opening episode started with one of the most fantastic examples of reality-TV gape-inducing horrors that they could have possibly hope to find if they'd grown it in a lab.)

However, once they get the group down to the top 20, it's really something.

These people may or may not have rigorous dance training backgrounds, but by the time they get to the heart of the show, it doesn't matter -- trained or not, the choreographers put them through the paces. They are paired up with different people and taught a different choreographed dance style each week. Last year, the top contestants had to perform ballroom, lyrical, hip-hop, Latin, salsa, tango, disco, and I can't remember what else. Not everyone is good at everything, and some pairings are more successful than others, of course, but each week, I find that it's almost impossible to tear my eyes away once I start watching.

I'm constantly commenting to Jim when an auditioner (or, later, a contestant) has a clear dance background. They are the dancers who combine passion with technique, who just make you want to watch more. I like this show because, for all the trappings of reality television that should put it squarely in the cateogry of "fake," it is, at least in part, very real. It's not about pairing up B- and C-list television personalities with unknown but top-ranked ballroom competitors to sell ad time. These kids -- and for the most part, the ones who go far are still kids -- are dancing their butts off on national television not just for the money and the exposure, but because they can't bear to do anything else.

Maybe somewhere deep down I watch this because I know the winner actually has to have talent, ambition, drive, and an ability to do something I cannot do (unlike, say, the people on Deal or No Deal, which...really, why is that show even on?). A tiny little part of me always wanted to give in to my desire to dance and actually try to hack it -- or hoof it, I guess -- as a Broadway gypsy. I have decent turn-out, weirdly enough, and although I have some of the world's flattest feet, I can point with some of the best of them. Despite all the on-and-off years of dance, though, I could never quite manage to learn to spot, so as soon as we got to any kind of turning, I tend to wind up on my ass.

Although, at least in the first open auditions, landing on your ass does seem to get you on the air. I know I could at least do that much. Maybe I should give it a go, eh?

Then again...probably not.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

keep fishin'

For some reason I've been in a bit of a funk lately -- probably due to a sizeable dab of the kind of let-down that happens when you realize that, literally, the honeymoon is over (ha!), and you won't get to travel abroad again quite like that for, oh, probably until after the kids go to college -- and so Jim is kindly bringing in sushi tonight.

I should be a poster child for the fact that all extant homo sapiens have a common ancestor, because I'm fairly sure that while your average DNA test can't trace the Japanese in me, it must be there. Why else would raw fish be my go-to comfort food?

So call me Mitochondrial Eve or whatever. I won't be listening. I have some negihama maki to eat.

Friday, May 19, 2006

six months is the "beef" anniversary

To celebrate the fact that we have been married six months today, and because Jim proposed to me after eating a phenomenal filet mignon, Mom sent me meat.

The sending of meat actually has at least a two-generation history in my family. When my parents were first married, they were living in Chicago on what might generously be termed a shoestring as they pursued their interests in the theatre. (Which, it seems, is also genetic.)

My grandmother, back in St. Louis, was horrified at the thought that her daughter and son-in-law might not be making enough money to buy the necessities in life, and so every so often she would go to her butcher and send a care package of steaks to my parents.

I am guessing she was motivated even more to do so by the instance of the five-pound meatloaf, but that's another story.

So anyway, my mother proudly continues the tradition of sending care packages. To that end, we now have two more of those divine filets, two huge T-bones, and two strip steaks in the freezer now. Oh, and a gorgeous frenched rack of lamb.

Who's up for dinner?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

kick and tell

Jim joined his company's kickball team and tonight was their first game. The acronym for their company is HDAS, and the team is named (brace yourselves) HDAS Boot.

It might have been the most awesome thing I've ever seen -- even though they got massively whomped. By a team, I should add, called Razed by Squirrels.

After dinner, Jim and I decided to eat the amazing Mayan-influenced chocolates we brought home from France.

They were almost certainly the most awesome chocolates I've ever eaten.

So today, it seems, was a rather awesome day.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

over there it's called "football"

On NPR this morning, I heard a brief story about a pair of men in a suburb of Paris who held up their local City Hall with guns, demanding to see the mayor.

The two wanted to see the mayor because they were adamant about demanding tickets to the Barcelona-Arsenal semi-final soccer match.

Jim remarked, "Did they really not think they would face any kind of penalty for entering City Hall with guns?"

I responded, "Guns shmuns! More to the point, why the hell did they assume the mayor would have tickets?!?"

Sunday, May 14, 2006

truths to learn in paris when you go

That un croissant au beurre and un cafe au lait could be the most perfect breakfast ever imagined.

That Paris in the rain is just as lovely as Paris in the sun.

That the towers of Notre-Dame-de-Paris rising over the roofs of the Marais will leave you awe-struck whether its the first or the fortieth time they've greeted you.

That it feels like a small coup to discover that all national museums are free on the first Sunday of the month.

That getting up early to get in line at the Louvre -- going in through the Carrousel du Louvre mall/subway entrance with only a small portion of the populace -- before it opens, and seeing dozens of the greatest masterpieces in the world before noon leaves you feeling both overjoyed and overwhelmed, particularly when you later glance out a window of the Sully wing and see what is easily a 3-hour-long line to get in the entrance at the Pyramid.

That a free trip through the ever-weirder installations at the Centre Pompidou is the perfect antidote to the aforementioned masterpiece overload.

That a hotel room in an old 18th-century grand building with a balcony that looks out onto the Place de la Republique can feel special, secret, and seductive.

That you can stand on the Champs-Elysees on a national holiday when the weather is gorgeous and all Paris is strolling the boulevard, and find, without having planned it, two of your best friends in the world sitting right next to you.

That you can find this life-size Lego Jawa in La Ville des Jeux, this really awesome toy complex filling an entire arcade somewhere on the Grands Boulevards.

That the look on your husband's face every time he turns a corner in the Musee d'Orsay and catches sight of Van Gogh's self-portrait, Le Dejeuner sur L'herbe, Degas' dancers, Monet's waterlilies, or another Impressionist stunner is worth every second spent waiting in line in a cold drizzle.

That waiting in line, to be honest, wasn't so bad, given that they opened the museum a half an hour early.

That eating moules frites on the Champs-Elysees, soupe a l'oignon gratinee at Au Pied de Cochon, and un crepe au sucre in the gardens of Versailles may be touristy but are entirely worth it.

That the view from the top of the Arc de Triomphe merits the vertiginous windy staircase.

That if you have a run-in with an unfortunately stereotypically rude French waiter who has overcharged you by three euros and then refuses to take your proffered 50-euro note, you can just leave him the smaller amount you have -- conveniently short by the amount he overcharged you -- and dash into the Palais Royal's gardens to disappear.

That if the Louis Vuitton flagship has a bouncer and a line of Japanese tourists -- no kidding, a freakin' bouncer -- you're better off thumbing your nose and heading up the street to Lancel. It's worth waiting to see the Earth move under Foucault's pendulum, but not for designer denim purses.

That a waiter at one adorable restaurant might comment that you seem to have un trou dans la verre when he fills your wineglass more than those of your dining companions, and three nights later in the baby bistro of a famous chef right across the street, your table is visited by The Man himself, who seems to get quite a kick out of chatting up the newlyweds from Maine. (Maybe my glass that night also had a hole in it?)

That Napoleon's tomb is fine, but the really fun part of Les Invalides is the museum of arms and armor. Spears! Crossbows! Woo!

That you can stumble into a city-wide jazz festival and hear a London gospel group doing their sound check while you explore Saint-Sulpice and a bass-sax duo jamming on the bridge outside Notre-Dame.

That the garden at the Musee Rodin lets you stand with Le Penseur as long as you like, and the Musee Picasso houses fascintating studies for Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and Guernica.

That strolling along the Seine until you stand under the Tour Eiffel at night, waiting for the hour to strike and the tower to sparkle like a bottle of champagne, might be the most romantic place on Earth, if only for the moment you are there.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

but i won't wear the gold slave bikini

Because my husband and I are the world's biggest geeks, we've decided that these would be the perfect first anniversary gift.

Paper, shmaper. I want me some unremastered original trilogy Star Wars DVDs!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

ain't what she used to be

Yesterday my husband turned twenty-four.

Today I found a single gray hair on my head.

Bring on Paris, baby. French women know how to age right. I just may not come home.

Monday, May 01, 2006

holy (matri)moly

This past weekend we attended the wedding of our dear friends Alisa and Dick.

The entire affair was absolutely lovely from beginning to end. Alisa got to make use of the church's Easter flowers, and the altar was just a riot of blooms -- they were phenomenal. Everyone looked stunning. But there was something extra-special for me. Not only was this the first wedding I attended as a "young married," it was also my first full Catholic Mass (and Catholic wedding). I was transfixed.

Having never been in a Catholic church before, other than as a sightseer, I was sort of stupidly unaware that there are no Bibles in the pews. Jim mentioned this to our little coterie (Lyette, Jay, and Shannon) as we were heading to the receiving line at the end of the ceremony, and I executed a perfect forehead-slap dorktastic moment by exclaiming, "Oh, right! Like, wasn't that the whole point of the Reformation?"

I hope Lyette didn't bite her tongue too too hard to stop from guffawing at me right then. It probably would have hurt a lot.

The service was fascinating, but I had really hoped to be able to follow along, or at least refresh my memory of some of the major points of Catholicism by paging through the Bible before everything got started. (Me: "What are you looking at?" Jim: "The representations of the stations of the cross around the church." Me: "The what, now?")

I tried not to interrupt Lyette and Shannon with ridiculous questions too terribly often. Instead, I attempted to pay attention and follow what was going on, and I really enjoyed the experience. My reward was getting another glimpse of the feather-decorated bright-yellow-with-black-stiletto pumps worn with fishnets as the lady in question took the Eucharist. Now those were a wedding-guest fashion statement. Those, and the gold-spangled tutu dress that just barely covered the wearer's pupik. (OK, so I'm mixing my Yiddish with my Catholic. Whatever.)

In all seriousness, the wedding day could not have been more wonderful. The weather decided to provide a phenomenally gorgeous backdrop to a wonderful ceremony and reception. Alisa and Dick, ever the foodies, served an excellent roasted pear salad and delicious grilled lamb with a mushroom risotto and asparagus, which was so good that I ate Jim's leftovers. (Yum!) And of course we were seated with Lyette and Jay, which just made the wine -- er, I mean night! -- flow by in a flash. We had such a good time earning our day-after hoarseness laughing and talking and toasting the happy couple over the great jazz.

Most of all, it reminded me how much I enjoyed our wedding, how Rabbi Covitz really made us feel warm and beloved and in love with each other, how we danced the night away and saw an endless sea of smiling faces of our friends and family having fun, and how much we truly adore being married.

Right, and on that gag-inducing sap-filled note, I think it's time to think about starting some dinner. I doubt it'll live up either to last weekend or to the week of French cuisine to come, but I do what I can to make it a religious experience. That's the whole point of serving wine with dinner, right?

Bottoms up!

driving miss crazy

I used to buy into the conventional wisdom that Massachusetts drivers are the nation's worst. I myself was a Masshole for several years, and took a perverse pride in having the Mass plate on my car, thinking it had some kind of intriguing multirelational significance regarding my having learned to drive in Missouri -- where, I should point out, traffic routinely comes to a grinding halt when something unexpected happens, like, oh, the sun coming up in the morning -- and moving to Massachusetts, land of the left-turn-from-the-right-lane.

I take it all back. Massholes may be defensive; they may be rude; they may not entirely understand what that little stick to the left of the steering wheel has to do with the action of changing lanes. But at least they know how to drive without instilling the fear of imminent and fiery death into others on the road.

You think I'm exaggerating, right?

This weekend, Jim and I had to drive from Portland, Maine to Summit, New Jersey, by way of Queens, New York. (Gotta love New England, where three hours on the road can take you through four or five states.)

Maine was fine. OK, Maine drivers are not the best when it comes to surface roads. Apparently in the 100 hours of training required of all teenagers who wish to obtain a license, no time is devoted to how to manage a four-way stop sign. However, when it comes to the open highway, Mainers do pretty well. They leave a nice following distance and almost always signal when changing lanes. They might drive fifteen miles over the speed limit, but they're going to flirt with death as safely as possible.

I used to see that as a sign of weakness. I've learned my lesson.

New Hampshire was also fine, given that traversing seacoast New Hampshire basically means keeping your eyes peeled for cops as you and your fellow Mainers try to get out of New Hampshire as quickly as automotively (and vaguely legally) possible.

I-495 through Massachusetts? Lovely. Not too much traffic, and aside from the fact that John Greenleaf Whittier has not one but two highway-accessible rehabilitation hospitals named after him strikes both me and Jim as slightly odd, nothing to report.

And then: Connecticut.

Driving through Connecticut is always the bane of my roadtrip existence. No matter how well it's going, if I take the wheel, there will be bumper-to-bumper stop-and-go traffic and, usually, a freak deluge. But this weekend, I noticed something new, something much less annoying and much more mind-bogglingly horrible than an inability of the infrastructure to handle the auto load.

Connecticut drivers are insane.

All throughout the state, from I-84 to I-91 to I-95 (which you catch in scenic New Haven, just adding to the pleasure of the trip), I feared for our lives.

For several miles on I-91, a small white car labeled "Carrying School Children" puttered along at about fifty-two miles per hour in the left lane. I don't even know where to begin describing the havoc this caused. People were peeling out and sliding across three lanes of traffic to the right to pass this "bus" (which I established was transporting one teenaged boy who had his headphones on while the driver stared straight ahead). Now, yes, normally I would move out and pass on the right too, but this system took a form I'd never fathomed. The cars in question would swerve out at ninety miles per hour, usually with less than half a car length in which to maneuver, and then would get angry at the car traveling a mere seventy and using its blinker that prevented them from, I don't know, getting to the next exit at warp speed. (And yes, the blinkering car was usually mine.)

Several people swore as they passed us on the right. However, I was trying desperately to get farther right so these idiots could do their ninety-mile-an-hour drag race in the lane just to the right of the slowpoke, rather than sliding all the way across. They were too busy being pissed at my only going seventy to let me over, preferring instead to gun it past me and send rude gestures and window-muted cursing my way. This happened not once, not twice, not thrice, but so many times I lost count. There was the great moment when three people tried to do it at once. Apparently, the laws of physics that claim that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same moment in time do not apply in Connecticut.

I thought that the violent passing system was going to represent the extent of terrible driving decisions, but sadly, I thought too soon. The traffic hit on I-91 when we passed what was clearly a just-occurred accident. A smallish silver S.U.V. had rolled a few times down the grassy median, landing on its hood and windshield. We saw the ambulance taking away one person on a stretcher. That person was moving. As we passed the car, though, I saw that the other side of it had been far more extensively crushed, just like a giant foot had come down Python-style and stomped it the way you stomp a soda can. I could only pray that no one was in that side of the car.

You'd think, perhaps, that after driving right by a horrific crash with injured passengers just being taken away and with several ambulances still making their way, sirens blaring, to the scene, drivers would not accelerate back to ridiculous speeds just past the site, still in view of the police, and honking at those who aren't speeding up quite yet.

If you were in Connecticut, you'd think wrong.

That was enough for me. You could not pay me enough at that moment to get over the Connecticut border. I've never driven in such a paranoid manner in my life, checking my mirrors obsessively and moving away from anyone who got within a couple of car lengths of me. It didn't work -- these drivers had no concept of, much less respect for, other people trying to share the road and follow the most basic of driving laws. At one point, a semi driver tried to force me off an exit ramp that I entered before he did. We engaged in a forced-by-him game of chicken, and although he did not, in the end, drive directly over my vehicle, I almost started crying. Once out of Connecticut, I was home free. I'm in the wrong lane on the Triboro Bridge? No worries -- look, someone is actually letting me over! The parade of BMWs on the New Jersey Turnpike has no respect for any kind of convention as to which lanes serve which purposes? Fine -- they've left ample room for me to find my own lane. Four minivans on the Garden State Parkway definitely seemed to be engaging in some kind of race to the finish line, but nothing -- nothing -- will ever compare to the insanity I witnessed all up and down Connecticut's highways.

On the way back?

Jim drove through Connecticut.