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05/18/09 02:30 - ID#48690

My last day

Well, the day has come. It's my last night here in the US. I leave tomorrow at 7am for London. I still don't have a place to live, but I'm sure I'll manage to find a decent place within a few days.

The one thing I'm worried about is my luggage. Since I'm moving and not just going for a visit, I have to take both, summer and winter clothing. Clothing is expensive in London, and I don't want to have to buy a whole new wardrobe come this fall, so I'm forced to take my stuff with me.

The problem is that the airlines only allow you one checked bag for international flights and allow a weight of only 50lbs. I laid everything out that I wanted to take on my living room floor yesterday and it literally covered the entire living room. I was originally planning on taking two large suitcases and just paying the 25 dollars extra for the second one, but after packing the first one I realized that there was no way in hell I can manage to fit my shit into just two suitcases. A third piece of luggage costs 100 dollars, but that amounts to much less money than if you were to ship 50lbs over to London through any of the mail services. So I guess, I'm going to be taking at least 3 huge suitcases and one smaller carry on suitcase with me. The real problem is what do I do once I arrive. I don't know how I'll get from one place to another with just me and 4 bags. Normally, when we would go on vacation, we would just travel with one carry on bag each and would take the train from the airport to the city, but there is no way that I'll be able to pack myself on a train with so much shit. And even if I could, how would I get from the train station to the hotel. How can I even get from the platform to the outside of the subway station without leaving one of the bags behind while I carry the others. So I guess I'll be forced to take a cab. Hopefully, they'll take 4 bags. That will be so horribly expensive, I just know it. At least 70 pounds (which is about 100 dollars). And I'll have to do the same thing again, once I find an apartment and want to get my shit from the hotel to there. It's little shit like that that people don't think of, that causes so much stress.

The good news is that one of the recruiting agents I was in contact with back in December contacted me today. He originally told me that it will be very difficult to get me hired if I cannot physically in London, as employers will want to meet with me directly. He asked when I could come down for an interview and that is when I decided that come May I would take an extended trip the UK. There was no way that I could afford individual trips to Europe for single interviews. (Later I decided that if I'm going to find a job, then it makes no sense for me to go for a few months, but rather that I should just move, because the whole idea is to become employed and not come back until I am, so once I got a job I'd have to stay anyway)

So I told him that I was going to visit the UK sometime in May and that I would contact him then. That was the end of our communication. Well, I hadn't gotten around to doing that yet, but when I checked my email today, I found an email from him asking if I had made my plans to come to London yet. He remembered me. This is a good sign. It means that I'm marketable and that he didn't just throw my resume to the side and forgot about me.

Faben will be staying here for the time being. There is an immigration issue that I have to get straightened out. I am a European Union citizen, hence I can come and go and work in any European Union country without any visas or documents, (other than a passport), but the countries that joined the union in 2004 have different immigration policies when it comes to family than the original EU members. Basically, a person cannot invite their non EU citizen family members until they've worked in the UK for at least 12 months. I know that this applies to spouses, parents and siblings, but I'm not totally sure about dependents. But if that is the case, Faben won't be able to join me until next year. And by that time, she'll have only one year of high school left, so she may not even want to leave until she's done with school. I am however in the process of establishing her Polish citizenship, so maybe she'll be able to come much sooner.

Thank god for Skype and webcams. At least I'll be able to see her everyday.

I think my mom is more sad than she'd like to admit. She was the one that egged me on to hurry my ass up and go to Europe because she wants to move as well but wants me to settle first so that she'll have a place to stay. She cannot stand living with my step father any longer and has been planning her escape for quite a while. Friday she surprised me with a girls day out. She took me to get a facial, manicure and pedicure and then out to lunch. This is a big deal for my mom, because she NEVER does nice shit like that. As much as she talks shit about me mooching off of her, I know she likes having me around. I keep the house animated and it will be much too quiet and sad once I'm gone.


It still hasn't hit me as to how crazy this is. But as you all know and anyone else that knows me knows that I always wanted to go back to Europe. I was never happy living here. Not happy with the political system, with the welfare system, education system, health care (or lack there of) and basically with the over all American culture, and I really could not justify my views while remaining living here. I had to follow through on that whole "if you don't like it, then leave" shit every conservative and patriot threw at me. It's not as easy as it sounds. To move to another country. First and foremost you need a visa and to get a working visa for a European country is next to impossible these days. They go on a point system, and back in the day if you had a BA, and some experience that would be enough to get a visa, but they raised the amount of points needed now, and basically if you don't have a masters degree, you're not getting a visa. Thank god I didn't have to go through all of that. You also need a shit load of money. Most people don't have that much saved or can't manage to save enough and still pay bills. Thankfully things worked out for me in that regard. Plus, if you're a single parent like me, you need a support system to help you because it's basically impossible to do it on your own.

I literally know no one in England and have no one to help me out, but whatever, I'll deal with it. It would be nice to know someone with a car. What if I want to buy somekind of small piece of furniture or a shit load of kitchen shit for my house? Do I have to take a taxi everytime I do that? I can't carry huge ass boxes all by myself from the store to the subway and to my apt. And I can't even rent a car, which I thought of initially, (wit would be less expensive and i could so all my shopping in one day) because I don't know how to drive on the other side of the street!

My best friend recently moved to Italy, so at least I'll be able to see her more often than if I were living here. Flights from London to Italy can be purchased for as little as 30 pounds!

I'm sorry I didn't get to see you guys before I left. It just was so hectic. But I promise to keep everyone updated on my adventures from abroad and will be sure to come back and visit as often as possible.

I love you guys,

Cheerio!
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Permalink: My_last_day.html
Words: 1462
Location: Buffalo, NY


05/03/09 03:25 - 63ºF - ID#48585

wooden technology

hmm...i'm on a roll today. second post of the day.

i'm confused about this. i'm not sure how i feel about wooden technology. somehow i don't find it surprising that this should come out of russia.


watches---used to be coveted by russian tsars, now they are worth $20,000.

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modern computer mouse.

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just for the record, this is the first mouse ever created back in 1964. Douglas Engelbart


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modern cell phone. ---well..it's not so modern anymore since smartphones came on the market, but still...


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and computers.....reminds me of the steampunk versions that are floating out there.

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don't forget about my other post below.
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Permalink: wooden_technology.html
Words: 124
Location: Buffalo, NY


05/03/09 02:59 - 63ºF - ID#48583

weirdest pillows

i must say, they're pretty crafty. my fave is the godfather tribute.

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if youre interested in seeing a few more not so interesting ones, go here:

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Words: 56
Location: Buffalo, NY


04/27/09 06:39 - 75ºF - ID#48520

the date is set

i'm leaving on May 19th for london. we have to plan something before i go, k?
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Location: Buffalo, NY


04/03/09 11:29 - 35ºF - ID#48276

modern day vampires


They're eating a freshly killed deer or elk. That little girls lips are not that red from lipstick, they're covered in blood.

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Permalink: modern_day_vampires.html
Words: 24
Location: Buffalo, NY


04/01/09 04:15 - 47ºF - ID#48257

Super Pii Pii Brothers for Wii

The guys over at ThinkGeek.com have a tradition of coming up with April Fool's jokes. This year they are selling Super Pii Pii Brothers for the Wii for $34.99. It's a game that uses a wii mote that you strap onto a harness and use it to pee into toilets as they open and close and score points if you pee on cats and critters as they pop up from the water. They claim it's an import from Japan and since we all know that the Japanese are pretty much crazy it almost seems kind of plausible.

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Permalink: Super_Pii_Pii_Brothers_for_Wii.html
Words: 108
Location: Buffalo, NY


03/29/09 01:06 - 54ºF - ID#48228

A book about Elmwood Strip

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Look, someone has actually written a real book about Elmwood strip. It's not a historical piece, but rather a modern fictitious piece of work that talks about Elmwood and the weird, kooky, crazy characters that roam it.

This book hasn't been released yet (March 31st, 2009) but the one review it has on amazon gave it 5 stars.

I'm definitely buying it.


Buffalo Lockjaw
by Greg Ames




Article in the Buffalo News
Literary world strolls Elmwood strip
By Jeff Simon


"Buffalo Lockjaw" does something no book has ever done before.

Here is the great novel about Buffalo's Elmwood Avenue strip and the often scruffy life young people have been living on it for at least half a century - the people one meets there, the ways one spends time in its environs.

"I felt that Elmwood Avenue was the coolest and most interesting place in the world," says its author Greg Ames, 38, who grew up on Dorsett Drive in Kenmore, went to St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute and Buffalo State College.

With the release of "Buffalo Lockjaw" this week, literate Buffalo is likely to know about it. (Certainly "literary" Buffalo -a different thing -will.)

If Lauren Belfer's "City of Light" is, in some ways, the great Buffalo historical novel thus far, Greg Ames' funny, moving and irresistibly readable "Buffalo Lockjaw" is the great Elmwood Avenue novel -the great autobiographical fiction about a certain kind of deeply eccentric Bohemian style that has persisted for young people along the Elmwood "strip" for at least 50 years.

No one has better captured the quality of life lived by young people along the Elmwood Avenue strip than Ames in "Buffalo Lockjaw"-nor has anyone else seemed to know, until now, how much that life was worth capturing. For people who've lived it, or had children who did (or both), "Buffalo Lockjaw" will seem like the inevitable rendering of young Boho Buffalo that has been so oddly delayed for so long but has finally appeared.

It's now official. We're in a Buffalo literary renaissance. Native Buffalo sons and daughters in the writer's trade may have moved elsewhere but they don't seem to be able to stop returning in book form to the city that helped them. Do those writers who grew up in Columbus, Ohio, Lexington, Ky., and Denver exhibit such extraordinary literary fealty to their hometowns?

Doubtful. Buffalo is not just crucial to "Buffalo Lockjaw," it is part of what makes the novel as good as it is-not just the winter weather that forces people to walk against the slicing lake winds with the book's title facial expression but the city's folk legends, its cultural richness, its gallows humor and emotional honesty.

It's a story about a young man who comes back home to his family while his mother is dying of Alzheimer's and brings with him a copy of "Assisted Suicide for Dummies." (Ames' mother, very much alive, in fact suffers from the disease.)

Such gallows humor is very Greg Ames. And very "Buffalo."

The finale of the book is both moving and, in a way that perhaps people in his hometown will understand best, entirely redolent of Buffalo's stoic, gritty mind-set.

"I worried about my father and sister would think about [the book] and they both read it and loved it," says Ames. "They're entirely supportive of me and pleased with me. They're my toughest readers. That was the audience I was most concerned with.

"I think you have to be sort of fearless as a fiction writer. You have to answer to what the story dictates and not worry about what people think about it. If my father and sister had not liked the book, it would have been a disappointment but it wouldn't have changed anything I had written. So I hope my friends in Buffalo will read it with amusement. And I hope my relatives will too. But if they don't accept it that way, it's not my concern."

"Buffalo Lockjaw" is quite raw compared to much of Ames' previously published work in such places as McSweeney's, Fiction International and failbetter.com, which tends toward the humorous and fantastic.

"For a long time," he says on the phone, "I was writing this book and thinking, 'Well, it's not going to be published so I might as well write the purest, most naked book that I could write.' And then when it was accepted for publication, I thought 'oh, no.' "

Ames agrees with TV and film writer Diane English that all those ways of living that come from a necessarily indoor culture in tough winters tend to spawn writers naturally and abundantly.

"Outside of all the drinking, what people do indoors is tell each other stories. I don't know what it's like to grow up in a place like San Diego where it's 72 every day. I would imagine that I would spend a lot more time riding a bike and being out on the beach and doing other things. But when you grow up in Buffalo, you're indoors and with your family. Certain bonds are formed. I can't speak for anyplace else but I do think Buffalo produces a lot of storytellers and dynamic people."

"In some ways the book is all false information. People will quote things and they'll be inaccurate. Somebody says something about Grover Cleveland and names the wrong president."

True information: Ames spent "the first 16 years of my life in Buffalo. And then again, from the age of 18 to 25, I was in Buffalo." The family moved to Rochester when he was 16.

"At St. Joe's I probably had a straight C average. The minute I moved to Rochester (with his family) I didn't know anyone. And I had nothing to do at night but homework. And so I was on the honor roll at this McQuaid [Jesusit] School for maybe six months or so. And then once I met the kind of guys I was looking for -the same type of crew I hung out with in Buffalo -my grades went back down to the low 70s. This raised some alarm with the priests there. And they had determined that that could not happen so they started to shadow me.

"Actually I was kicked out of that school but I was allowed to graduate from McQuaid. I took my Regents exam in a broom closet on campus. I had been kicked out in Feburary. I was allowed to come back three months later in May and I was allowed to take my Regents exam in this utility closet. They would allow me to graduate with a Regents diploma as long as I never returned again."

And if that has the sound of truth well-embroidered by a born writer, so be it. Ames swears it's true.

What he's learned from being the family screw-up is that "if you do all your rebellion early on, you set the bar so low that if you do anything of note, they celebrate it much more. They think 'OK, terrific! You got a job! Good for you!' That's the best way to do it -convince everyone that you're not going to accomplish anything and then when you do come out with something, they think it's wonderful."

Among his formative literary experiences in his 20s was reading a story called "Some of Us Have Been Threatening My Friend Colby" by Donald Barthelme, a writer who, coincidentally, along with the Nobel Prize winning Coetzee, spent a period teaching in the State University of Buffalo English Department.

Ames has been on leave from his life as an adjunct writing professor at Brooklyn College where, if you find the evaluations of his students online, you encounter everything from antipathy (very infrequent) to "I want to have his baby."

"I had to learn how to teach the same way I had to learn how to write." He never read the students' evaluations of him, he says, because "there's always going to be a kid in the class who's like ME. And it drives me bananas. And I understand what teachers must have thought of me. I could light myself on fire in front of the kid and he would still have his arms folded on his chest. And he'd say 'the teacher we had last semester did it much better.'"

Unlikely, it seems to me.




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03/22/09 08:22 - 32ºF - ID#48156

Yes, and it was great!

There, you have it.
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Permalink: Yes_and_it_was_great_.html
Words: 4
Location: Buffalo, NY


03/21/09 03:36 - 24ºF - ID#48143

faben's painting of me

Look at how crazy good this picture is that my daughter drew.
Although it looks like a photograph that just had a photoshop filter applied to it to make it look drawn, it is not. it was drawn completely by hand, on a tablet and then colored with photoshop. i have the layers to show the work progression. i still cannot believe how life like this is. she did it by looking at my photograph that i often use as my user pic.

she's taking orders if anyone would like to commission her for a portrait. it does not have to be digital, it can be graphite, pen, or something other.

btw, i added the cheesy border. i'm not sure how i feel about it now.


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Permalink: faben_s_painting_of_me.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY


03/16/09 11:20 - 49ºF - ID#48071

drunken mistakes

i fell asleep with my fake green contacts in my eyes last night. and then woke up in the middle of the night with glassy sand in my eyes and was crawling in pain to the bathroom to try to fish those dry sandpapery things out. ugh....pain i tell ya.
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Permalink: drunken_mistakes.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY


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