Sunday, October 28, 2007

Escape to Kingston

The reasons for my visit to Kingston!

Jacqui's takin' Katie's data in the mouth... dirty...

The last couple of weeks have been interesting... I've finished my time on the island, and now it's almost Halloween. I'm back in Lansing and I've got a meeting at the Kelley-Cawthorne Law Firm Monday, I hope it's a meeting that involves a job/internship offer... or maybe something that opens a few doors... But thats just me lately...
pretty shot of one of the many rooms in the Queens library

In early October I was still on the island with Hesse, Leanne, Brent and the occasional Melissa and/or Tom. I left in between my last weeks to go to Kingston, Ontario. That seems like a good place to start if any! Thats a long ass drive! Holy crap, but the weekend before when I was in Lansing for 16 hours (see previous post) my Dad gave me a GPS tracker so I used it to track my progress all the way there...
As you can see it's a long ass way. It was a pain to get off the island, I had to carry my Laptop and a bag of t-shirts as well as pull a suitcase and my backpack all the way up to the fort and then down to the boat, only to find out that I had an hour to wait till the next boat - dammit. Then after a number of hours on the road - getting more excited every hour - I made it to the border in Sarnia. Once at the border I was pulled off to the side, I had all this stuff in my car because after Kingston I was going back to Lansing for the night and wanted to drop stuff off... well the customs woman didn't like that idea, so in the course of the conversation she asked me the same questions two or three times and asked how I know people in Canada and who i was visiting and how long etc. I ended up having to pull over and they brought a cart and these two nice guys began to search my car and ask me the same questions again!

Jacqui and Katie blurry due to jockeying for position in frame

After the search, I went inside and the not-so-happy woman behind the bulletproof glass asked me the same questions... AGAIN and then stamped my passport and said, "With this stamp you have an immigration visa to Canada until 20 October, if you stay after that date you understand that you will be illegally residing in Canada." So they stamped my passport and I was on my way!

At 2 am I arrived in Kingston. It was such a long drive, but I was so excited to see Jacqui that I wasn't even tired. I pulled in and we stayed up till 5am just chatting and marveling at the oddity that was our meeting.

Around 11am I got up and we spent Friday just hanging out together, Queen's University's campus is nice, we toured around and it was neat to see the places that she always talks about spending time. Meeting Jacqui's friends was made more interesting as I'd seen many of them in pictures and heard about them for a couple of years! After Katie the roommate I met Kaela the old friend, at first she seemed very quiet, but I have a way of making people comfortable very quickly so that went well. Jacqui, Kaela and I had lunch with her Mom and Aunt at this really great restaurant where I had a beer and a WONDERFUL pizza. I was a bit nervous, I don't see Jacqui but once a year and usually we're on Mackinac Island, and the island is not the real world, it's like practice vs. real life, it's similar, but not quite the same... so I was nervous... but things seemed to be going well.
Fort Henry was boring so Jacqui and I made our own entertainment
Jacqui on the hill outside of the Fort

After lunch and some shopping we headed to Fort Henry and on a walking tour of Kingston. Fort Henry was a bit disappointing in that all the interpreters were gone and that really seemed the focus of the whole Fort, without them the place is rather bare and dreary. The view was great though so I took some pictures and after a short self-guided walking tour we headed back into town. That night we had dinner at a Texas Grill - a chain restaurant. It always tickles me when, in a foreign country I go to an eatery that is supposed to approximate 'American' or in this case 'Texas' cuisine. The margaritas were okay and the chips were good. Jacq's friends were all really nice and the guy she was not-dating-but-had-complications-with was there and he was nice enough so everything was going well.
The View from Fort Henry hill overlooking Kingston
Fort Henry
Me and my new cannon!

After some drinks and carousing and dinner we headed back to Malcom & Maggie's house for some drinks and a movie. We stayed a while and talked through most of Goldeneye which, btw, has not aged well, very 90s looking. Jacqui, Kaela and Maggie looked at bridal stuff most of the movie while the RMC kids talked about military stuff. This made me laugh in my head because it really is exactly the same as hanging out with the soldiers at the fort, guns, tactics, military terminology, and we're not even really in the army... but the conversations were the same, just with a more modern edge.
A picture of Kaela and Jacqui on the walk home that i liked - cool bridge

Saturday was Queens' Homecoming! A big day on any campus Queens takes it one step further. There are a lot of things I like about Canada, some things I don't, but in Kingston there is a street called Aberdeen, it's similar to WMU's Euclid and they have a block party but rather than the cops showing up and making mass arrests before anything happens and shooting rubber bullets into the masses the Canadian Police PROTECT and SERVE the public by keeping things from getting out of hand by putting up barriers so no cars come down the street and the community helped by VOLUNTEERING to hand out Water and pretzels to keep the students safe. It was a very different environment, tho not nearly as crazy at the block parties at Western, it was still quite crazy.
Charlie and Katie with the fife playin' Jacqui... thats right, she wanted to play my fife ;)

Two girls played my fife that same day!

We all woke up and got around before heading to the Grocery and LCBO to get some supplies for the day. I made french toast for everyone and we sat around drinking mimosas before starting in on the drinking games... It was around 1130 when we started on the mimosas...

As Kings/Circle of Death got more heated and the drinking get more fun we became less interested in playing and more crazy and run-aroundy! And that afternoon we headed out and eventually after a night of drinking at a house party, bonding with Kaela, and a girl named Amanda trying to get in my pants I ended up wandering the streets of Kingston - a place I didn't know - late at night, with 3 people that I didn't know, going somewhere... Jacqui had disappeared earlier on and I wasn't sure where she went and I'd even stopped drinking just for ease of mental capacity so I was getting a bit miffed. Finally, we met up in what seemed to be a bit of a hub, and wandered around Aberdeen, found Jacqui carousing with friends in front of some house. I was a bit confused, as I would never leave a guest in that kind of a situation regardless but I don't blame her as there were a lot of people coming and going out of that party.
After a late night of a wrap of some kind from a mexican place, and some late night dairy queen we ended up back in Jacq's apt around 230.
Charlie telling off Jacqui for trying to get all-up-ons with his woman

Jacqui's response to Charlie... it was mere hesitation

Sunday was the last real day in Kingston... unfortunately Jacq was stressed out because of her impending classwork, tired from her string of late nights and understandably so. We had some breakfast out with a couple of others and I sat while the three of them talked about people they knew for 40 minutes... at this point I felt a little bit awkward, like i should have just gone home and let Jacqui head back into her normal life, but I hoped that was temporary. After breakfast they were going to go to the library and get homework done, I had grad school work to do so I went also and for the next couple of hours finished and submitted my London School of Economics application!
John, Jacqui and Charlie being odd after playing drinking games
I left the library and wandered around the campus for a while, enjoying my freedom before heading over to see Amy and chill with her for a while. Amy and I hadn't really kept in touch as much as Jacqui and I so we caught up and chatted for a couple of hours while I distracted her from her homework like a good friend... Jacqui met up later and we were going to have dinner together, and actually alone (!!), but we stopped by her apt. Gavin was there and sick so she invited him out. I could see the look on her face that she did it out of politeness, and didn't want him to say yes, but he did and it was cool. I hadn't had a chance to get to know him and he was more than happy to mention a few embarrassing stories about Jacqui while we had sushi. After dinner we headed back to her apt and watched Mulan, and the next morning I packed up and left.
Closet fight!

It was a very packed weekend, and Sunday was definitely a different feel from Thursday-Saturday, but I was really glad that I went! Jacqui and I have had this odd dynamic for a while and it was really interesting to see and spend time with her in the 'real life' situations and it really didn't change my mind any about how I see her. She's just a real person now, with her own way of living, working and communicating.

During the long ass drive back I made this video:

...stopped at the Sleeman Brewery for a 24, at Duty Free for chocolate, and after a night in Lansing I headed back to the island for work on Wednesday.
Sleeman's Brewery!!

The next week was spent cleaning and packing and finally on Friday morning I was out, gone and happy to be so.

Since then I've spent some time in Kalamazoo and generally relaxed with my family. I have that meeting on Monday and the last few nights I was in Kalamazoo for Halloween Weekend. I might be able to get some pictures soon enough and make an actual post about that, but this was mostly about Kingston... so deal with it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Damn You Semi-Functional G'vt

So Sunday was my day off, and after an unproductive morning waiting for the Michigan Legislature to pass a budget to see if I would be working on Monday.

This is not the governor's fault just so you all get it, she put a budget on the desk of the legislative branch of her government 7 months ago. I don't care if they didn't agree with the cuts and added taxed in it, they had over a half-year to change these things and haggle and compromise and instead did NOTHING.
Who failed here, was it the woman who refused to bow to pressure? The woman who did no more than any 10th Grade Government Teacher would do - and refuse to accept late work, even at half credit? Oh Nay nay! It was the legislators, and remember that when you go to vote for them. They've forgotten democracy is for the people not the party, forgotten that they work to better everyone not just their contributors, the wealthy or their specific interests. Compromise is the Essence of Democracy, in lieu of compromise we get an alternating dictatorship.

Rant over.

So anyway, i decided, fuck it! I'll go home, and then if they fix it I'll come back Monday, and if not then I'll see my family and a movie and get chinese food.

I did just that, I got home around 430 and chilled with the 'rents before going with Mother to Uncle John's Cider Mill. I remember this place from my youth, they used to press the apples in a huge cider press, but now it's all industrial. When i was a kid it was hay-rides and a barn, but now a crowded sprawl of family-farming-fun complete with play area for the kiddies, haunted hay-ride and wine tasting for the parents! Oh and occasionally they serve cider.

We got: 3 gallons of Cider and 3 dozen donuts... wow... Home Time: 2hrs

We then headed back home to meet Grandma - who Brock and his new g/f had picked up. I played with Brock's iPhone for a while (frickin' sweet!) and Dad gave me a GPS unit that I can plug into my laptop.

After playing with that for a while Dad suggested we test it out so I grabbed it and we headed to pick up the chinese food from Chen's. If you're from Lansing, Michigan, and you want great - and affordable - Chinese Food go to Chen's Restaurant on Cedar/Larch by I think it's Otto Middle school and the Ace Hardware up from Bannsach Welding or something like that. It's amazing. Big White dome can't miss it. We grabbed the food and drove back using the directions on the GPS which were pretty accurate...

We bought: 3 orders General Tso's Chicken, 1 order of each - Mushu Pork, Cashew Chicken, Crab Rangoons, and also recieved wraps for the pork, fortune cookies, rice crackers, 2.5 pints White Rice and 1pint (free with order over $30) Pork Fried Rice... WHEW! They didn't even give us a bag, we got a BOX. A 3foot long and 1ft deep BOX!

Total Home Time: 4.5 hours

Arriving home we drank wine, listened to blues and sat on the deck eating fabulous chinese food while Dad wandered in and out watching the Lion's game. A beautiful night. After dinner we relaxed on the couches in the living room talking and laughing wondering where Evan was and eventually I decided it was time to go have a pint with Ray. There was still no budget and it was coming up on 1030!

Total Home Time: 6 hrs

Dublin Square was dead this time of night on a Sunday - maybe all the State employees were watching the news, but Ray and I sat and talked to the bartenders - the only three people in the place besides us. I had a Guinness and Ray admitted, "My only goal this summer was to learn to like Guinness - it didn't take long..." We nodded our approval and continued the drinking, chatting about the budget and other such things. Fiona called and she and I made plans for a lunch the next day if there was no budget and Rat and I planned on a movie... it all hinged on our legislature's outright failure. The minutes ticked by like... long long minutes... I was glancing at my watch so often I might have given off the aura of someone with minor Tourette's.

Eventually I just set my alarm for 0:00 and waited. The football game ended and we watched the news - no deal. There were commercials and teasers and of course the WEATHER! GODS BE DAMNED WE DONT CARE ABOUT THE WEATHER!

My pint was almost gone... midnight was moments away, no word... and just as the alarm went off!! The stupid news went to commercial. Gods damn i hate Tv.

12:07 - NO BUDGET! w00t! Yay! Day off I had made the right call driving my ass home! The bartender topped my pint off for free - a good 80% of my 3rd Imperial Pint... I recieved a number of congratulatory texts including one from Frost: "Viva la revolucion!"

Ray, the bartenders and I then proceeded to watch episodes of Rad Girls - the rather stupid female version of Jackass till around 1 - tho the place closed at 12.

I made my way home and fell asleep after a short conversation with Mom.

Total Home Time: 8.5 hrs

I had a fitful sleep, dreams and whatnot, woke up at 630am for the traditional night pee... anyone else get these? I find them irritating. My Dad was up for some reason, heard the flushing water and come down to inform me that the Legislature had worked through the night. The partial shutdown was over after only 5hours and 40minutes. I was going to have to drive back ASAP to work.

I collapsed for another hour and then packed up my stuff - including left over Chinese, a dozen donuts, cider and the new GPS unit and drove off into the morning that came very early.

Final Home Time: 16 hours

Long story short - too late - I arrived in Mack City at 1134 and therefore missed the boat... the next would be at 1230. ARGH! Work was excellent tho and I even stayed an hour after to clean my rifle and make up time!

Woohoo! What a long day off...