Tuesday, February 19, 2008

jfk > amsterdam

By Pauly
Amsterdam

I spent a long weekend in New York City. I concentrated on fighting off a cold. I managed to battle it thanks to Zicam. Maudie and Otis had mentioned it in the past and I gave it a try. The cherry rapid melts were addictive. Zicam is priduced by Matrixx industries.

I spent the rest of the time in NYC sorting through all of my mail and settling banking matters. I started the lengthy process of organizing my taxes. Stage 1 is complete and all of the necessary paper work is in one large box. I have to sort through that next (Stage 2) and figure out all of my expenses in 2007. I'll do that at the end of the month.

I wrote one article and did my best to catch up on email. The rest of my free time was spent hanging out with Derek. We caught random bits of NBA all star weekend. ESPN Classic aired episodes of all star games from the 1980s and 1990s. That was a great time killer.

I woke up super early on Monday to write. I actually went for a light job. Nothing special. It was fairly warm for NYC standards... in the low 50s.

After the jog, I packed my new bag. I wasn't thrilled with the outcome. I was not comfortable with it. Everything I took was bulky. I must have used 95% capacity of the new bag. I never like doing that when I travel. The bag was also bulky in odd areas. I figured that there would be a good chance my bag got flagged and I'd ahve to check it in, instead of carrying it on my flight.

I was not comfortable with the setup, so I called an audible at the last second. I made a crucial decision and switched bags. It took me less than two minutes to dump everything out and less than five for me to transfer everything to my regular backpack. I had so much more space remaining, that I took another jacket.

My original plan was no laptop. Nicky convinced me otherwise. She knew that I'd be editing my project over the next few days and it would be foolish of me to be without my laptop... in case inspiration strikes or I want to rewrite on the spot. I also have Saturdays with Dr. Pauly poker tournament on Saturday night Danish time (4:20pm ET).

So I took the laptop at the last minute. Basically, I'm traveling with my normal setup... backpack and my bookbag. I tried to rough it, but it's too fuckin' cold in Scandinavia for me to travel super light.

Nicky called me from Copenhagen. She got in there on Monday afternoon. She starts her assignment on Tuesday. I don't have to work this week, although I'm meeting with a Danish website because they want to hire me. I also will try to dig up some material for my On the Road column at Bluff, since Nicky is covering the EPT Scandinavian Championships. In short, I get to fuck around and drink and see some old friends without having to work.

I played a lot of online poker over the weekend. I had a good run, but a dismal Monday afternoon. It wiped out all of my profits from the weekend. It put me in a sour mood while I waited out my last bit of time before I headed to the airport.

There was no traffic on the way to JFK and arrived in 35 minutes. I had lots of time to kill and played online poker while sitting in the food court because I was too tired to read.

Gracie gave me a book, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. That was designated as the book I read in coffeeshops or on trains or to read when stuck waiting for another delayed flight. I read a bit of that while sitting at my gate, especially since we boarded a good twenty-fives late.

I had an aisle seat om KLM... Royal Dutch Airlines. I always had positive experiences with them. I hoped there would be no one next to me so I could pop an Ambien and crash for my flight to Amsterdam. I had row 43. I knew something could go wrong when they announced they would start boarding from the back of the plane starting at row 44. I was in the next to last row. There was a young Dutch couple next to me. The flight was about 75% full, but there was an empty row behind me.

The last row had only two seats. I was going to steal those once we were airborne. My plan was to pop an Ambien, skip the bad food and the movies, and sleep all the way to Amsterdam.

One of the flight attendants, one of those tall Dutch women in powder blue uniforms, asked me if I wanted a row to myself. She pointed out the empty row behind and I quickly accepted. I popped an Ambien and almost fell asleep waiting on the tarmac.

Food service came out and I was very sleepy. I didn't touch my rubbery chicken dinner. I only ate the roll and the slice of carrot cake. Shortly after they picked up my barely touched tray, I passed out.

I woke up three hours later. I took a piss and passed out for another hour. We were near the British Isles. I watched Atonement and sporadically ate their breakfast consisting of a bland fruit cup and a blah banana muffin. The flick went fast and I didn't get to see Keira naked. Booooooooooooo!

We landed in dense fog and made up time in the air. The flight was smooth. I wish that I slept more, but thank god there were no crying babies! It took a while for the plane to taxi and I was one of the last person off the plane. That didn't bother me. I knew it took a while to pick up your luggage at Schipol Airport. I tried to call Nicky and couldn't get a hold of her. I breezed through immigration and waited for my bag. I counted bags. Mine was the 25th one off the plane.

I have been sitting on a couple of grand in Euros (what I didn't spend out of my budget to Europe last year plus my recent paycheck from the Swedes), so this trip is already paid for. I brought a couple of big bills and a whole fistful of 10 cent and 20 cent coins. I dumped a few on the lady at the train ticket window in the airport. I still had a bunch of small change left over from my last couple of trips to Europe... like six or seven Euros in small coins. Geez, the way the US dollar is sinking these days, that's the equivalent of like $4,000 US.

I sat on the train and looked out at the gloomy weather as we approached the outskirts of Amsterdam. It was grey. Seattle grey. Foggy with a dampness in the air. It was cold too. Colder than fuck. But I didn't care. I was about to be anonymous for a few days.

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