Life on the Rails: Prologue

Sorry about that false alarm back in December, but things are finally back on track!

After months of hemming and hawing I officially took the plunge, and am moving to San Francisco. In my continued spirit of procrastination, I figured the best way to move across the country would be to take a train and stop in several cities along the way.

Of course before doing that, I had to say goodbye to the East Coast!

DC

I feel like I did a pretty bad job saying goodbye to DC. I missed seeing a handful of friends, and I never even fully wrote my DC bucket list let alone completed everything on it.

One thing I did get to do was check out the African-American Museum of History and Culture, which was amazing. Thanks to my sister Katie (Break and Bake) for scoring the tickets! I barely had enough time to get through the history section let alone go upstairs for the cultural half though, so even that was a failure.

I guess what I’m saying is that I really need to go back to DC at some point. It won’t be for a while though, because I also definitely left DC like t(-_-t).

PA

If I did a bad job saying goodbye to DC, I did even worse saying goodbye to PA. I didn’t go to a single Wawa!

I really should have scheduled more PA time considering that I showed up like an hour late to friendship hangouts with my friends Zack and James, and I only saw one of my aunts. GUESS THEY’LL ALL HAVE TO VISIT ME IN SAN FRANCISCO.

NYC

The first thing I did when I got to NYC was walk 8 miles. I was just so full of energy that I didn’t know what else to do. I walked from the Port Authority to Central Park and up and around the Central Park reservoir. When I was done I still had some time to kill before meeting people for Happy Hour, so I went to Prospect Park for even more wandering in nature. It felt a little weird spending all my time in the city trying to seclude myself, but considering how much time I’m going to spend crammed in with others, every second of solitude counts.


Ever since it opened, all I wanted to do while in NYC was to go to Hinterlands, which is Stuart Wellington from the Flop House’s bar. In the past my friends Luke and Paolo would complain that it was too inconvenient, so we’d go to somewhere in Bed-Stuy instead. Since this was my going away party, I put my foot down. They weren’t wrong about it being inconvenient, but It was definitely worth it.

The bar itself is awesome, with funk and R&B music playing and a bathroom papered with different RPG Guides and Monster Manuals. I was more than ok just hanging out and enjoying the bar, but then Stuart showed up to bartend and my friend Paolo immediately blew up my spot. Luckily Stuart was exactly the cool party dude he claims to be and actually gave me a free t-shirt (or a dramatic discount on drinks, I’m not positive)

Plan your campaign as you pee!

Our happy hour accidentally ran late, and we were out until about midnight. Luke and his girlfriend Emily tapped out, but Paolo and I grabbed another beer before I passed out on his couch. Still, I managed to wake up at 6 AM, get showered and dressed and make it out the door with plenty of time to catch my 8 AM bus.

Boston

My trip to Boston started out inauspicious enough. Despite giving myself over an hour to get there I still managed to miss my bus when it took over 20 minutes for a 7 train to show up. It was entirely my fault for trusting such a shitty train line instead of just taking the C train.

When I finally made it to Boston – two hours later than I expected – I met up with my friend Cal to hit up some breweries. We started at his apartment where I awkwardly crashed a pot luck his wife was hosting for her fellow marathon runners and tried some beers from Trillium Brewing Co.

Once we hit the road we stopped at Lord Hobo for some delicious IPAs, and Mystic Brewery for some much more experimental belgian style beers. I wound up buying a bottle of “The Null” at Mystic a smoked quad they made in collaboration with Backlash Beer, another Mass. brewery, that was fucking delicious.

Cal took this photo to taunt our friend Krysti. My amazing hair was a bonus.

Cal had to get dinner with his family, so I ended my brewery tour by meeting my friend Shreya at Sommerville Brewing Company. Sommerville apparently has a Niles Crane beer, but it wasn’t on draft. Instead I got their malty and delicious winter warmer and Shreya and I just watched some Frasier to make up for it.

On Sunday Shreya and I agreed we were going to do cultural things and then get ramen for dinner instead of watching the Super Bowl. We went to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Public Library and the Mapparium. I took 0 photos because I’m a terrible traveler, and also photos of the Mapparium are forbidden. It was a little weird how dead everything was in the city. Public transit was like a ghost town, and all the museums were close to empty.

Oh wait, I took one museum photo!

After a morning of museums we snuck a to-go order of tater tots smothered in mushrooms and gravy into a showing of I Am Not Your Negro. We housed the food almost immediately, which was good because the both of us spent almost the entire movie being transfixed or sobbing uncontrollably. I can’t even begin to write a full review of I Am Not Your Negro,  there’s way too much to unpack, but when the credits began to roll the audience was dead silent. Slowly, we came out of our collective daze deeply shaken but ready to take on the future.

Shreya and I probably spent too much time drinking after the movie, but we had a lot to process and one bartender offered us shots because Shreya is a rockstar fighting to defend science. We were too late for ramen, and while waiting on Indian food found ourselves in a bar with too many tvs to ignore, so we saw the Patriots take the game into overtime. We left before they officially won, but the loud cheers all around us as we walked back to her place confirmed the obvious.

The only photo of Boston I took

NYC Redux

My original plan was to go from Boston to NYC and immediately hop on a train for New Orleans, but then Amtrak decided to start doing construction on the line between Atlanta and New Orleans, so I could either take a 17 hour bus ride or spend 3 extra days in NYC and take a direct 30 hour train ride. I definitely made the smart call.

I kept up my museum kick by hitting up the Met and doing the 3 guided tours Nate DiMeo has released as their artist in residence. I generally hate The Met, and DiMeo does a fantastic job providing historical context for the pieces he discusses and in the process demystifies the museum itself. It repeatedly forces you to ask the question “why is this even here?”

“Seriously, fuck these bottles” – shorter Nate DiMeo

On Wednesday, I went out to the Brooklyn Museum with a quick detour to check out the abandoned City Hall subway station (I actually tried to take a photo, but the light is all messed up so my phone couldn’t do shit. Just rest assured it was beautiful.). They were still exhibiting Iggy Pop Life Class, which is just sketches of Iggy Pop from a life-drawing class and is 100% my aesthetic.

Sketch by Guno Park

Wednesday night is when I first started hearing rumblings about a snow storm, but based on every other weather event that people get paranoid about I wasn’t really concerned. When I woke up on Thursday to about two inches of snow on the ground my opinion changed a little bit. Luckily Amtrak is on top of its shit, and the only cancellation  was a local train to Albany.

Suck it, snow!

Next Time:

Life on the Rails: The Road to NoLa

 

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Days 106 & 107: Road Trip!!!!!!

My friend Phil was in NYC for a wedding, and what started as me joking about taking a bus up on Monday to grab drinks with him and our friend Krysti slowly snowballed into me booking an 11 AM bus that got me into NYC at 4 PM with a return ticket for 5 AM on Tuesday.

Highlights!

  • When I got on the bus to NYC I passed a dude who was sprawled out over the entire seat, sultrily sipping from a juice box. He is my new hero.
  • For the first time ever, a small child sat next to me on the bus. He spent the vast majority of the ride singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and I only almost strangled him to death once, which is pretty impressive for me.
  • I originally planned to meet my friend Luke for a separate round of drinks at Peculiar Pub as we wanted to hit up one of our old college haunts, but on my way there I passed Blind Tiger, which is a much better bar that I sincerely forgot existed. It was a good call, because I probably wouldn’t have been able to handle drinking surrounded by a bunch of NYU students.
Blind Tiger also has a fancier beer selection.
  • Because Luke and I are pretty good at sitting around talking shit, I was super late to meet Phil at the first stop in their happy hour. By the time I got there everyone was leaving to go watch the debates. I’ve made it a point not to engage in politics much during this election, because at this point reasonable discourse has long been destroyed by dog whistles, but I figured a room of NYU grads would agree with all the things I angrily shouted at the TV. Things were going fine until Trump started bragging about how much Netanyahu loves him, and I screamed “fuck Netanyahu!” The room was awkwardly silent for a second.
  • After the debate we met up with our friend Krysti at McSorley’s which is a great bar when it’s empty or if your friend has spent years building close personal relationships with the entire staff like Krysti has.

  • McSorley’s closes at 1 AM and we still had 3 hours of raging ahead of us, so we went around the corner to The Copper Still, which is owned by one of the bartenders from McSorley’s and doesn’t close until 4 AM – like a bar should. While we were there, one of Phil’s friends realized she lost her phone, and that set off a series of misadventures that ended with Phil running off alone to meet the guy who found her phone up on 14th street – still unclear how the phone got so far away – despite him being super drunk and his phone being dead. I was about to go searching for him when he stumbled back in with the phone as if nothing happened.
  • I got to my bus at 4:30 AM, scarfed down the everything bagel I bought from a deli and immediately passed out. I’m sure I did something embarrassing, but not enough to make any of my fellow passengers yell at me.
  • I probably would have spent all of Tuesday in bed, but Boundary Stone was hosting Battle of the Barrel Aged Beers III and I couldn’t miss that! After my first tasting I started sweating, which was probably a bad sign. I got back home around 8 PM and immediately passed the fuck out.

By the Numbers

Sobriety: -10/10. See Above

Healthy Eating: 0/10. I had a burger at McSorley’s and half a chicken sandwich at Boundary Stone.

Sanity: 5/10. No reasonable person would spend 2 days doing this to themselves.

True Love: 0/10. I spent a lot of Monday drunk texting the girl I went out with on Saturday, and accidentally invited her to Boundary Stone on Tuesday. She lived up to her description of being a better version of my ex when she ended the date by telling me she really didn’t have time for me and my nonsense, and we probably shouldn’t hang out again.

Steps: 19,334

Day 100: What Hath I Wrought?

I had such grand plans for today. To celebrate 100 days of Funemployment I was going to wake up early, be productive and re-live some of everyone’s favorite moments from the blog.

Instead, I overslept and only woke up at 10 AM because my mom kept calling me. I assumed it was an emergency. Turns out she just wanted me to tell her the dates I’m visiting, which I had just told her on Sunday.

Instead of going to the gym or eating breakfast, I sat around until noon. In a last-minute panic to do something blog-related before work, I grabbed a sandwich from A. Litteri, a beer and a coffee, and sat in the arboretum.


CELEBRATION OVER!

Highlights!

  • I won the Atlas football pool. Cha-CHING!
  • My friends came to visit me for trivia at Atlas. They won because of an answer I gave them, which was fun. My team came in third, which is sad for the teams we beat.
  • I watched the first episode of The Good Place, and I guess it’s fine. I would watch Ted Danson read the paper, and I’ve yet to see Kristen Bell in a role where I didn’t love her, but the story itself is “meh” at best. There is  a scene where Ted Danson kicks a dog into the sun though, so it’s probably gonna be great.

Q&A

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions. The vast majority came from loyal reader Nicole who I have never met and have no idea who she is. Does this mean I have a fan? Have I . . . made it?

1) What percentage of posts are true? – Liz.

The easy answer to this is that 100% of the things I post on this blog are true.

I will at times take liberties with how I present situations, but that only serves to make me look worse for comedic effect. Also, I will frequently leave stuff out of the blog either because it was boring, or I forgot I did it.

2) What REALLY happened with donut shop girl? – Nicole

Her name was “Sandwich girl!”

She decided she wanted some time to think about my blog, so I got drunk and texted her a photo of myself with my face painted like a tiger with the caption “This could be us, but you playin’.”

I haven’t heard from her since.

3) Do you ever wonder if your Fitbit inaccurately counts your “steps,” thereby allowing you to falsely bolster your sense of personal fitness and mislead concerned blog readers? – Nicole

I’m concerned about how much of a worthless lump you think  I am if you think I’m INFLATING my step numbers.

I don’t use a Fitbit, I use the step tracker on my iPhone, which means that it only tracks when I’m walking with my iPhone on me. It also probably doesn’t count when I’m biking or those few random times I’m actually working out. Even so, it’s probably an accurate representation of my general worthlessness

4) Is this spiral toward sickly depression destined to continue or will you change your trajectory somewhat over the next 100 days? – Puke McGiggles

Well Puke, I’m still kind of excited to see what my bottom is. Hopefully we can all find out how deep this pit goes together.

5) Is Funemployment really that fun? – Nicole 

Funemployment is what you make of it! I’m definitely having a lot more fun than if I were sitting at a desk in a toxic work environment, but it’s also definitely not the most fun thing.

By the Numbers

Sobriety: 8/10.

Healthy Eating: 10/10. I got another sandwich from A. Litteri to eat for dinner, so this was basically the best day ever.

Sanity: 10/10. Yay everyone!

True Love: 2/10. My friend James told me I once ranked my love of a sandwich as 2/10. I don’t remember that, but I can’t really refute it.

Steps: 7,346.

 

Weekend Update: I’m Alive

I know you were all worried, but after an extended hiatus I am back and better than ever!

Lucky for all of you, I spent most of that break sleeping and feeling sick, so you didn’t miss much. Still, this week’s Highlights go all the way back to Tuesday.

Highlights!

  • On Tuesday we absolutely kicked ass at trivia. Some weeks the questions just seem to align and we had our bases covered for the most-part. The only trouble was when two of my teammates got into a screaming match over the question “Within 10 years, in what year did Margaret Sanger coin the term ‘birth control.'” Turns out we were actually arguing for the same answer, so it all worked out in the end! [The answer is 1914, we put 1917 –Ed.]
  • I got drinks with Laural at Right Proper on Wednesday where she regaled me with stories of all the adventures she’s had recently. I’m really slacking over here. Maybe suggest an adventure?
  • The Great Muppet Caper is streaming on HBO Go, and is still the most beautiful, perfect movie ever made. Kermit and Fozzie play identical twin brothers, Miss Piggy gets TWO massive song and dance numbers, and Charles Grodin plays a lovable lout who’s also a master jewel thief. What’s not to love? If you haven’t seen this movie, fix your life immediately!
  • Work was super slow all weekend, and I barely went outside.
  • My friend James was in town for the CBC Foundation Gala, so we met up at Boundary Stone on Sunday to watch football and talk shit. I always forget how much I love Boundary Stone.

By the Numbers

Sobriety: 5/10. I don’t remember what I drank or when for the whole week, so here’s a nice balanced number.

Healthy Eating: 1/10. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. What is food?

Sanity: 5/10. Same logic as sobriety.

True Love: 0/10. At some point I apparently changed my Tinder account to say “I’ve seen the fan-made ‘Director’s Cut’ of The Dark Crystal and thought it was a masterpiece. Swipe left if you aren’t on my level.” I’m sure this will go well.

Steps: 0. [I’m not adding up a week’s worth of steps, that’s meaningless.Ed.]

 

Weekend Update: Take A Chance

This weekend a man in a purple steampunk suit with no shirt and a cravat told me about his secret poly family. Somehow this inspired me to take some bold personal chances over the weekend. Let’s see if they pay off.

Highlights!

  • I watched Elvis & Nixon  on Friday and absolutely loved it. Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon really work to out-crazy each other and in the end we all win. I appreciate that as much as the characters of Elvis and Nixon want to be seen as sympathetic, the movie is clear that they’re both shitty, self-obsessed assholes. Also, the ending stinger of “Elvis died of a drug overdose and those charming Nixon staffers all went to jail post-Watergate” was a perfect way to bring the story to a close.
  • Saturday was Atlas’ 3rd Anniversary party and I can’t be clear enough how much I love working there. After getting my soul crushed at my last job, I still find it weird that even when I’m in a shitty mood I’m super excited to go into work and interact with these insane, wonderful people.
Me long before drinking all the 10% ABV beer
  • In my post-party drunken stupor, I had a dream that I actually remembered. The dream took place at a bar/house/tennis club where I was working. Demons were chasing after my friend Shreya, but they couldn’t find her, so they started coming after me. I teamed up with club handyman George to learn how to kill the demons and defend her/myself, but woke up before things were fully resolved. After discussing the dream with Shreya we’re still about 50/50 on if it’s a prophecy or not.
  • Because of all my drinking I took a lot of LYFTs this weekend. After the party on Saturday, my driver told me to “be safe” on my walk from her car to my front door. On Sunday, my driver and I had a long conversation about tipping, and I almost didn’t tip him before I decided to stop being a shitty person.

By the Numbers

Sobriety: 0/10. Atlas released “Rowdier” for their anniversary, which is a 10% ABV version of their “Rowdy” beer. I drank way too many of them.

Healthy Eating: 0/10. All I ate on Saturday was a shit ton of chinese food. I made some pasta on Sunday.

True Love: 1/10. One of my exes followed me on Instagram.

Sanity: 10/10. I’m not gonna dismiss myself as insane anymore. Fuck that shit, I’m living my life and I’m enjoying it.

Steps: 12,625

Day 86: Beef

Of all the dumb shit I’ve said on this blog, apparently I crossed a line yesterday when I said that Wunder Garten is an ad for REI. Shaken to her core, the PR person for Wunder Garten found it necessary to reach out to me with a correction.

Hello,

I saw your comment regarding Wunder Garten. We’re really sorry you feel that way! We partner with REI while they are waiting to move into their space and hosting some very cool events for the hardcore outdoor types. We are not actually the same entity as them, but a locally owned and operated beer garden and recipient of a NoMa community award. Later this month REI will no longer be in the Wunder Garten space, as their permanent location will be opening, and Wunder Garten will be back to little old us. Hopefully you will revisit!

Thanks,
Kelsey

Here’s my response, which I’m not going to bother to send, but will post for loyal blog reader Kelsey:

Kelsey,

Is this really the best use of your time?  Wunder Garten’s address is wrong on Google and Yelp, your website landing page is unreadable white text over an image that you poorly jury-rigged to make it read well on mobile without bothering to make it look presentable on a desktop, and despite being in your second year of operation you still don’t make the first page of search results for “beer garden dc.” Instead of addressing any of these issues you’re sitting here sending messages to random idiots assuring them that you’re more than a corporate shill.

Also, it’s not exactly clear why Wunder Garten can’t be both an independent business and an ad for REI. Do you think it’s just a random coincidence that REI is paying you to slather yourselves in their branding and host “very cool events for the hardcore outdoor types” just two blocks from their soon to open DC flagship store?

Honestly, being an ad for REI makes you guys look better. As an ad, you’re kitschy community outreach that not only ingratiates REI with the neighborhood, but helps them to better connect with their target demographic of “millennials with excess time and money.” As an independent business, you’re a trailer in a parking lot serving overpriced beer.

Best of luck with your continued employment at REI.

Love,
Michael

Not Wunder Garten’s correct address and not a photo of their current space

Highlights!

  • I went to bed at a reasonable hour and still slept until almost 1 PM. I probably would have slept even later, but then I remembered I had to be at work at 3:30 PM. I was late.
  • Apparently people don’t like to go out drinking the night after a long weekend. There were only 2 teams playing trivia at Atlas tonight, but I kicked BOTH their asses. Suck it couple on a date and one of our investors and his buddy!
  • OK back to Kelsey real quick: I have repeatedly mentioned Atlas, a place that employs me, in a way that I’m sure they don’t 100% approve of and have never heard a single word from them about it. What kinda Google Alerts do you have set up, Kelsey?

By the Numbers

Sobriety: 8/10.

Healthy Eating: 6/10. I ate the thai food I didn’t have for dinner for lunch, and had a chicken caesar salad for dinner. That is a pretty good day.

Sanity: 9/10. Fueled by rage, I’ve somehow managed to become even MORE sane!

True Love: 2/10. Why are there a bunch of random bobby pins strewn about my apartment?

Steps: 4,947

 

Day 71: Interviews

I started my day by submitting that cover letter I wrote yesterday. I followed up applying for the job by basically telling the organization that it’s ok if they don’t want to interview me. Yay self-confidence!

I followed that up by doing a phone interview at the donut shop. I did well answering the questions, but I felt like every time I suggested a marketing strategy he would say “oh man, if you only knew how hard it was to do that!” I know how hard it is, dude. That’s why you’re hiring a full-time person to handle it!

God, I hope he doesn’t find this blog.

Anyway, I made it through to the next round of interviews, so I might be ending this blog very soon. [Don’t worry, I’m never going to end this blog. – Ed.]

Highlights!

  • I did my phone interview in shorts, a t-shirt and a blazer. I was going to do it pantsless as a power move, but got distracted.
  • I finally broke down and went to TD to get a new fucking debit card. The teller was very polite, but kept trying to make excuses for my TD refused to mail me a new card. Anyway, fuck TD Bank to death.
  • I went out and bought some more $8 bread. The cashier then tried to charge me $64 for a bag of coffee, but luckily it was a mistake.
  • My co-worker from Atlas invited me to Churchkey for the DC launch of Modern Times brewery.


The beer was delicious, but I got into a number of odd interactions:

    • A guy I’d never met insisted we had met before. Later, I saw him doing it to other people. I figured out what he was doing when he started talking about how much he loved How to Win Friends and Influence People.
    • Two guys complained about all the “posers” who had come out without having an intimate knowledge of the beer beforehand.
    • Me and one guy stood next to each other silently for several minutes. He was my favorite.
  • After that awkwardness I made Laural go with me to Takoda because I still hadn’t checked them out and it was a perfect night to drink on a rooftop. It’s a small, but beautiful space, and the brisket sliders and parmesan rosemary tots were delicious. My only complaint was when I politely asked the bartender to not judge me for ordering an old fashioned made with Old Crow he proceeded to judge me. Honestly though, I could never hold that against somebody.

By the Numbers!

Sobriety: 6/10. Probably bad for a Monday.

Healthy Eating: 2/10. Pork and tots is a pretty great diet for the day. I also ate a LOT of ice cream sandwiches

Sanity: 8/10. Keepin’ it real!

True Love: 1/10. I spent a good chunk of the day sending gifs of donuts to a girl.

Steps: 8,621