Friday, October 21, 2005

M27 No Sleep For the Weary

Just because I am not writing, doesn't mean nothing is going on. In fact, quite the contrary. In the last month and a half, I've been to three continents and six countries - some several times.

North and South America plus Europe. The USA, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Spain and France. I've met so many new people yet I haven't even had time to send them all messages. Let alone keep in touch with my regular correspondents.

After trips to Brazil and Argentina see post below, my friend Dave and I threw a surprise bachelor party in New York City our soon to be married best friend, John. We saw the Red Sox play the Yankees (and get their arses handed to them no less) at Yankees Stadium. Let's hope that holds a similar portent as rain does on a wedding day!

The Needham Crew; Brian, Justin, Dave and John
The next night the surprise was kept up and we held a party for all of John's friends his friend Jessica's ridiculously amazing flat at Central Park West. My friend Cindy, a neighbor dropped by and it was great to catch up with her. She's a doctor in New York City and a super-fabulous chica. We've never lived in the same city, but I still count her as a solid friend.

Brian and John

Felines Fly the (un!) Friendly Skies

After fun in NYC, it was strictly business for three days in North Carolina then it was tending to the house that was a headache in Washington, DC.

At the beginning of September, I flew my friend Solange up to DC from Mexico to help me bring my cats, Domino and Yuki, to Mexico. A single passenger can only bring a single animal abroad at a time so I figured the price of her ticket and the value of her company and the fact that one of the cats wouldn't have to fly in the cargo hold were well worth it. Little did I know. I don't trust airlines with pets. And my instinct was right.

Despite calling and asking multiple times and paying $100 per cat, we were nearly denied boarding on our connecting flight in Atlanta on Aeromexico. We were abruptly removed from the aircraft as they were about to close its doors for take off by an unsympathetic flight crew. (NOTE: This has to be the shitiest, rudest airline I've ever encountered. I pray every night that when they're privatized early next year, they are quickly run into the ground by the competition and that that particular flight crew is the first to be laid off. All that being said both Delta and, surprisingly, the Transportation Security Administration were unusually obliging and friendly.)

I don't know who was more freaked out, the cats, or me. What they hell I was I going to do without a hotel - let a lone a litter box in Atlanta with two freaked out felines that have never traveled more than two miles in a car to the vet? After dealing the most curt flight crew on the planet they asked the captain, who agreed to let us reboard. Our plane took off late with everyone including the cats. Thank god Solange was there to keep me from not completely loosing my shit.

That same morning, I signed the contract to list my house with Kelly Williams, one of the planet's most fabulous and effective real estate agents. Kelly was my agent when I bought the house. A week later, I landed in Barcelona and the house hit the market. I tried not to think about it as the house was empty and I was paying the mortgage yet not getting rent. Somehow, even $1,100 down the drain a month seemed like a bargain compared with dealing with my former renters. Within four days we actually had two offers. I ended up getting more than the asking price and the house has appreciated greatly over the last six years. I am convinced I have the market timed.

All this while, I am still trying to collect September's rent from yet another less-than-reliable tenant. (Oh, I promise this one has the makings of good post, so stay tuned). I guess that's why I sold it to begin with. It is a big pain in the ass and as an absentee landlord in another country I have had to fly back all the time to deal with the constant drama. I am glad it's nearly done and I will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Spain and France were fabulous, though somewhat of a blur now. I rode my bike and took some Spanish courses. I couldn't rent a car because I left my license in Mexico so I couldn't go to the city I intended going to in the first place. I met up with my friend Severine in Montpellier and she gave me an insider's view of French society and culture. I spent time with her fabulous family and the were most welcoming of me and even let me read in Hewbrew whilst I celebrated at their Jewish New Year's dinner.

I must say my love of France is nearly on par with that of Brazil. I don't know what to say. Americans and French aren't supposed to get along, but I loved everyone I met and they seem to love me back. I have never had a rude experience in France and I admire their food, culture, music, lifestyle and society. I have come to think that the reason Americans criticize the French is because we are actually insecure and jealous. Inside, we know that they're on to something that we're not. That we might have bigger houses, refridgerators and cars, but they have five weeks' vacation, free health care, education and they're not trapped in their automobiles 24-7.

On the bus on the way back to Barcelona, I met two lovely women from Singapore. Unfortunately, the photographic evidence has been left in Massachusetts. Over the course of the next few days we became friends and went out at night. They were smart, interesting, friendly and beautiful. I really like the people I meet traveling, especially when I say in hostels or travel by bus. It seems to me that non-Americans are more interested in travel than we are as a nation. Also, it seems that women tend to be more adventurous and prone to travel on average than men.

From Spain, I flew to Boston. I saw my friends Florian and Carolin off at their farewell party in August. They were my first and closest friends in Mexico. I am happy to report they have relocated to none other than my home state of Massachusetts, where I saw them! The other consolation is at their going away party, I met a super lovely Mexican woman named Claudia and we have become good friends.

In my hometown of Needham, I was honored to be best man in John Wyeth and Vanessa Hawkins' wedding.
I really wish I had written down my toast to John and Vanessa because I don't fully remember it now. I know that before I spoke in front of 150 people, I sucked down two beers. But John has been my closest friend even though we have not lived in the same city for 18 years. It's funny, but the speech I gave wasn't so much trip down memory lane as a tribute to someone with whom I am still just as close as ever. I wish him and his fabulous wife Vanessa the best of luck!

My writing can't keep up with my life and I am not sure I like that. In fact, I haven't been feeling so creative or inspired. What I have been feeling is tired and forgetful. It's a little weird, in the last month, I've lost keys, left my driver's license in Mexico when I needed it to rent a car in Spain. Only Solange's presence at the DF airport saved me from leaving behind a coffin-sized piece of luggage before we go into our taxi with the cats. I thought I lost my memory card with 500 photos of Spain and France, but Dave's father found it in their house. Gracias a deus!

It felt good to be back in Mexico other than to be working under pressure on client sites for 14 hours a day immediately upon my return. I've also been asked at the drop of a hat to go to Venezuela and Brazil this past week. But my work is super cool and fun and my management is super relaxed with my schedule and my travel so it's the least I can do in return.

I missed the friendliness of the people in Mexico and was psyched to be back and greated by my close friends, Karin, Alex (her husband) and Peter. Domino and Yuki no longer look like DF street cats as they did when I picked them up in DC. They are happy, relaxed and they sleep with me every night. My landlord, whom I was worried would not permit the cats, actually loves them and cares for them when I am away.

Friday, I head up to DC to close on the house, get rid of most of my material possesions and start the next chapter of my life. Hopefully, one that is simpler and more relaxed.