Friday, August 10, 2007

Invisible Swedes

New York can be a humbling city. It is also the perfect place to practice the toleration of assholes since there are so many of them. The sheer numbers of people you walk by on the street, stand next to on the subway, and work in the same building with total up to a high volume of daily human interaction that most Americans do not experience in other vehicular cities, small towns, and sprawling suburbs. Millions of idiots, nimrods, and assclowns. Everywhere.

Sometimes, I inadvertently evoke my powers of invisibility, which happens frequently in New York City. In front of Grand Central Station, a suit on his Blackberry crashed into me when he was too busy checking his email than to pay attention to when he walked. Of course, he quickly faulted me and barked, "Watch where you are going, buddy!"

Buddy? I didn't say anything to him and continued on my way as I muttered, "Blackberry douchebag. How many girls did you date rape this week, you cash poor hipster?!?"

The other morning at the bagel store, an old Jewish lady cut me in line. I was on deck and she ran up to the counter just as the person behind the counter yelled, "Next!"

I called her out right away. I pointed to everyone behind me and said, "I was next in line. You cut me and all these other people."

A fat guy wearing a wife beater, a Mets hat, and holding a rolled up newspaper chimed in, "Get to the end of the line!"

The person behind the counter would not take the order of the lady and she asked me what I wanted instead. The old lady gave me the evil eye like I was the bad guy. I wanted to say, "Fuck you cunt, and get your wrinkly ass to the back of the line!"

If she asked to cut, I would have said yes. She acted as though she was entitled to waltz up to the counter and get her toasted onion bagel with extra lox.

The other day, I encountered a run in with an unruly New Yorker on the uptown #1 subway train. I was seated and read Low Life by Luc Sante, a thick book about 400 pages in length. I held it up face high so I could read without straining my neck. An ethnic lady decided to stand right in front of me and grabbed the pole above my head. As the subway sped out of the station she fell into me and banged into my book. That's when she flipped out and accused me of hitting her on purpose.

"What?" I said. "I'm just sitting here."

She said a few other things but would not budge. There was plenty of other places she could have stood. At the other end of the train there were seats. For some reason she wanted to bust my balls and stood over me and trying to fall again into my book so she could start more shit. Some people are looking for trouble, As soon as the train arrived in the next station, the guy sitting next to me got up. I slid into his seat and said, "You smell bad so I'm going to find a new seat."

I jumped up and went to the opposite end of the subway car. She was stunned and didn't know what to say. And no, she really didn't smell bad, but I said it loud enough that around a dozen people heard it.

* * * * *

Errands. I have been running around doing a bunch of errands over the last few days. I made two trips to the post office. I paid several bills including writing two check worth over $4K each to the IRS. My second quarterly tax payment was due on July 17th and I missed it by a few weeks. I also decided to pre-pay the third quarterly payment due in September (for some odd reason). I also had to cut checks for my school loan and a $50 bill to the doctor when I went shortly before I left NYC. Money comes in and it quickly goes out.

I sat around for most of the afternoon on Wednesday waiting for a Fed-Ex package... my international cell phone. It finally arrived and I will be forwarding all my calls from the US and be able to answer my phone in Europe. I have a London number and get free incoming calls when I'm in England, so wait until I get there in early September to call me. Otherwise, email is the best option.

On Thursday afternoon, I wandered around Barnes and Nobles in the Flat Iron District. I read through a few Eastern Philosophy books and stopped to read five pages of Confessions of an Economic Hitman. I eventually bought a book to read during my flight to Europe. As soon as I get there, I'll give it away and hope to find another book. The last time I was in Amsterdam, some guy from Spain gave me a copy of The Iliad.

I purchased a new travel power adapter plug which is supposed to work in 150 countries. It comes in a cool traveling case. I never thought I'd be thumbing through magazines hawking travel products, but now I find myself both fascinated and interested at the products I see. These days, I'm not much for material items, but if there are things that can make my life easier on the road... then I'm interested. I find myself spending more and more time in the Brookstone stores in various airports and reading business traveler's websites and forums for tips on both business and international travel. I've racked up a ton of miles over the last three years, but I still have plenty to learn.

I went to the bank twice. I paid some bills via the ATM machine and did some other transactions. I also purchased a shitload of Euros, which I had to order and wait three days to pick up in Midtown. I asked for $100 bills and they gave me $50 bills. A lot of them. Over fifty. I wasn't happy. I only have one superstition and that is... I don't carry $50 bills. It's an old time gambler's superstition that I picked up in Las Vegas courtesy of Grubby. I try to convince myself that the superstition only applies to US currency and not Euros, Pounds, or Aussie bucks.

I purchased a direct roundtrip flight to Australia on Quantas for $1,500 (via LAX). In January, I flew on United. The leg from LAX to Sydney was infamous for being one of the worst international flights. Lucky for me, I was able to upgrade to business class on my way home. Anyway, I found a good deal and jumped. I can change my departure date once without a penalty and I can add any other flights within Australia for $150 each way. After my work assignment, I am considering side trips to either Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) and/or to New Zealand before I return to Melbourne for the infamous Melbourne Cup horse race.

I still have a few major things to do before I leave... like load up my iPod, do laundry, and pack. But for the most part, I'm almost ready to hit the road once again.

The last two days were productive. I caught up on writing assignments. I handed in my column for Poker Player Newspaper. I also worked on six different websites (Tao of Poker, Tao of Pauly, Truckin, My Music & Phish Blog, LasVegasVegas, and my Flickr gallery) over the last 24 hours. I'm done editing the August issue of Truckin' and it should be out sometime next week. I'm holding it back a few days so I can space it out with the last issue which came out about 10 days later than normal. As soon as I get to Amsterdam, I'll sit down to write a story for the September issue.

I got two very important emails on Thursday. The first one was from a editor who offered me to write a column for his magazine. He wanted me to pitch him a concept and I came up with a series called.... On the Road... where I write about my travels over the next few months. He loved the idea and we just have to figure out salary and deadlines. After losing a slew of freelance clients over the last year, I'm finally adding a new one. And I finally get to pick my subject along with style and tone of my column. Very excited about this possibility. At the least, it's a steady paycheck for a few months. At the best, it gets me more exposure as I get to finally showcase my writing ability. More details to come for sure.

The other bit of exciting news appeared in my inbox on Thursday evening. I was invited to attend a poker industry conference... in Sweden. A major Swedish company wants to pick my brain and get my opinion on a few projects they are launching soon. In exchange for my time, they'll provide me with a free hotel and free airfare from Amsterdam to Stockholm. My Amsterdam bender will be interrupted for two days while I head off to Sweden to attend the conference. Thanks goes out to Benjo for mentioning my name to the right people. As Nicky said, "You have lots of fans in Sweden."

Sweden. My first time. I'm pretty geeked about it and excited to visit a new place. Plus, don't forget to mention all the hot Swedish ass! I see Swedish women all over the place, but I have never saw them at the source.

Looks like I'll visiting four countries on this adventure. At some point on this journey, I'll be dealing with four different currencies.... US dollars, Euros (Amsterdam & Barcelona), Pounds (London), and Swedish Kronors.

I will be taking eight flights in all... NYC to Amsterdam; Amsterdam to Stockholm; Stockholm to Amsterdam; Amsterdam to Barcelona; Barcelona to Amsterdam then connect in Amsterdam to London, London to Amsterdam and connect in Amsterdam to fly home to NYC. Wish I had a direct flight home... but that was the cheapest flight I could find.

Next stop... Amsterdam.

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