I found the sign in the plastic window quite funny. It said 'No refunds after 2 minutes'.
"Pay cash?" asked the man.
"No, credit card," I said. I waggled it.
"Oh." He gestured to a computer on the other side of his paper-strewn office with an open eBay auction on the screen. "I have internet connected. I have to disconnect the phone and reconnect after. Slow connection."
"Well...could you do that, please?"
"Okay, okay."
He walked over, sighed, shut down the browser and ducked under the desk to plug in the credit card machine.
It was midnight in Norwalk, Connecticut, off Highway 1. Eighteen-wheelers rushed throatily past in light rain, and other motel signs glowed in a garish stack on the other side of the road. There was a reduced rate if you only required the room for a few hours.
I-95 was flooded and after two and a half hours in traffic, no end in sight (people were getting out of their cars to piss in the trees...and we're talking drivers) and the radio saying the problems were four or five exits further on, we made a break off the interstate and decided to call it a night.

So we found ourselves at a straight-out-of-the-movies seedy motel - a row of numbered tea-brown doors with a parking space in front of each one. Our room smelt of stale cigarettes. A mysterious round hole in the floor was covered with a square brass grille three times too big sitting on the carpet above it. A flushed toilet anywhere in the building seemed to come from the tiny bathroom with the bullet-hole style crazed mirror. The bed was a mattress stuffed with what felt like well-treaded tyres and it sagged at an angle of about 15 degrees when someone was laying on the right hand side. The sheets were old enough to vote, with a 70s wine/grape/leaf/vomit pattern on the overblanket. Crickets rasped in the rainy night. It was precisely the sort of place I imagined reading Bill Bryson's 'Notes From A Big Country', where, he says, you can generally count on being awakened in the night by a piercing shriek and the sound of a female voice pleading "Put the gun down Vinnie, I'll do anything you say."
I loved it. I even braved the shower.

We were both so tired sleep came easily, and Krissa, the angel, woke up with me at 7am and ran me to the nearest Metro-North station to try and make work for a reasonable time.
So THAT was interesting.

We went up to Rhode Island over the weekend to celebrate Krissa's birthday (coming up on Thursday) with her parents, and on Saturday, under a perfect blue sky we drove up to Gloucester in Massachusetts and went whale watching, setting out from the harbour in an exhilarating rush of sun and wind and spray.
We saw 20 in all, some in groups of twos and threes taking leisurely dives, huge tails arcing gracefully into the water, and some on their own sleeping at the surface and we didn't disturb them.
And just once, in a heart-stopping moment, off in the distance I saw a humpback whale, nine-tenths out of the water and slapping down in a huge cloud of spray. By the time I'd gasped, all Krissa could see was the white of the splash, but the boat motored over to the spot in the hope of catching some more 'breaching', which is what it's called when you have 40 tons of airborne marine mammal on your hands, but they were much more relaxed and chilled out after that.
The boat slipped up silently, propellers idling, to three or four different groups of whales, watching them dive slowly down to the depths, and rolling on their sides, basking in the sun and slapping flippers like giant white oak leaves onto the rolling surface of the sea.
It was amazing to see.

Yesterday both our minds were fizzing with the novelty of such a great experience that it was even worse when we hit the flood traffic, but the huge slice of trashy americana in the form of the Westport Motel made it up for me.

Not too sure about Krissa though.

Night Sweats

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Last night I dreamt I was reading a memoir written by Jessica Simpson. The sort that is published so hastily that the last chapter is about as current as the latest edition of People magazine. That chapter was called 'Dating The Terrorist' and had an excerpt that ran like this:

'So The Terrorist. Oh, don't WORRY, $90 hair gel style still DEFINITELY in place. We're not talking actual terrorist, he's just kinda subversive! Hahahha!'

The man in question?
Damon Albarn.

Collective Nouns At Bedtime.

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I have no idea how we got onto the subject. I was half asleep at the time and Krissa wasn't and she asked me to tell her something and I made something up about Tree Dryads living in Scots Pine Trees, but after that it was probably Krissa, Having A Thought as I drifted off, but it carried on like this.

'A pride of lions is a bit...high and mighty.'
'Well, it's a murder of crows, isn't it.'
'That's just weird.'
'Yep.'
'Is there any animal that is a troop?'
'Monkeys.'
'O-U-P-E or O-O-P?'
'I don't know!'
'Haha.'
'What's mice?'
'A sniffle of mice.'
'But like a snuffle of rats.'
'Right.'
'Pigs?'
'A grunt of pigs.'
'Giraffes?'
'A lollop of giraffes.'
'A lollop! Penguins?'
'A function of penguins.'
'A wiggle of penguins!'
'Oh, no no no! A soiree of penguins.'
'A sliver of eels! Deer?'
'No idea.'
'That should be, like, a stand of deer.'
'No, stand should be flamingoes.'
'A stand of flamingoes! Walruses?'
'Like lollop...a laze of walruses.'
'They're like a mafia club or men's club of walruses.'
'A club of walruses. Nice.'
'Whales is a weird one. No idea why. A pod of whales.'
'That is weird.'

We both had very strange dreams last night.

The Man That Knows Tomorrow

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Most of the time when I get angry it's stupid little irrational frustrations - obnoxious people on the subway, late trains, or childish grumpiness at having to do chores. Things like that. Fleeting, insubstantial, a quick bloom of adrenaline in the system that passes as quickly and as pointlessly as it came.
The sort of anger that combines emotional response with an intellectual sustenance - where the adult responses of rationalisation, desire to be pacifist, common sense, practicality, all of the little checks and balances we have in our minds...all of them have no effect and you actually think angry - that's rare for me.
And here I sit, crackling and fuming.

Pissed off, quite frankly.

I'm leaning on my iTunes pretty heavily today. Lots of Unkle and Faithless.

The One That Was Well Overdue

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I have been seventeen shades of busy lately, all work-related. I'm determined not to hiatus or dramatically call a halt to the site, though.

It doesn't take the best and brightest to figure out I didn't get that audition for the animation - the sum amount of time I spent on that (reading the ad, emailing the guy, riding the subway to the audition, reading the script and going back to the office) was about an hour, so no great loss there.
I'm happy I didn't get it. I wouldn't have been able to do it, the month I'm having.

Um.

I've been reading a lot more lately. With the working day only leaving space for short opportunistic lunches, a book in a cafe is a quick, escapist activity. That and the mysterious disappearance of another Metro guy at my morning subway stop has left me to choose between the printed word and the vacant faces of my co-commuters.
I've read Milan Kundera's The Book Of Laughter And Forgetting which blew my mind, Michael Dibdin's Blood Rain which was shaping up to be a great mystery novel until it threw me off a cliffhanger, Julian Barnes' England, England which Karen lent me when we were in England oh, MONTHS AGO and I only just got around to reading, and was fun, if a little mortifying to read of bulldozers rampaging over the Isle of Wight...and Scott Westerfeld's Uglies which was hugely enjoyable. I'll probably start the sequel Pretties in about ten minutes' time.

Working for a multinational company (not an evil one, a nice shiny one) has its perks, and I might be jetting off for a few days to one of our other offices before the end of the year. In this really weird obscure country, too, where was it again?
...oh yeah. England. Heard of it?

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