Monday, November 10, 2008

I drank a Duff and got punched by a homeless guy.

Catchy title huh?

Yes, it’s been awhile. Sorry about that.

Spanish class does that to me for some reason. While I would like to post something along the lines of “Spaniards Part II” or an excerpt from “Rome” I feel I should do a little update about what has been going on in our lives first.

At the moment, I am madly in love with Wendy. That may sound odd to some people who have not been in a long relationship but those who have know what I am talking about. There are times in any relationship when you wonder if it is worth it, times when you are content and times when you are just madly, truly, deeply in love and awe of the person you are with. Right now, things couldn’t be better. And it has nothing to do with the threesome we had this weekend. The fact that she brought another woman into our bed…

Yeah, I’m totally lying about that last part.

Last night I told her “I would kill a small child to have the brain you do.” She continues to astonish me. Watching the new Hulk movie last month she saw three seconds of the opening scene and said “Brazil.” And of course it was. She helps people on the streets of Madrid who look lost and all she needs is a street name and she can direct them anywhere, having somehow memorized the hundreds of streets that make up Madrid. Never having driven in the city, she gives cab drivers directions when we get in a cab. In Italy she spoke Italian to the cabby's and waiters. Last night watching “Project Runway” she saw a hint of a woman’s shadow and said “Natalie Portman” before she could be introduced. In class on Friday my teacher Montse, having met Wendy all of twice, explained to the other students that my girlfriend was a very special and amazing woman whose Spanish was “increible.”

I, on the other hand, probably just spelled “increible” wrong. (Spanish for incredible, obviously.)

We had an awesome week and weekend. Tuesday we went out to dinner with Dawn and eight friends for Dawn’s birthday dinner and then went to the Democrats Abroad party to watch the election. We found Lena and Stefan standing in an endless line and I groaned when they told me they had been in line for ninety minutes already.

Luckily, one of our friends has connections and all of a sudden all twelve of us were ushered to the front of the line and magically, I was transformed into “Press” with a nametag proclaiming my name as “Juan Garcia.” I look like a Juan, don’t you think? Wendy was renamed Maria and soon we all had drinks in our hand and walking up seven flights of stairs to get to the room with the big TV’s in it.

So.. many... people... so... loud!

We had a good time and saw a lot of friends but couldn’t hear anything on the TV’s. Lena and Stefan graciously gave us a ride home at four a.m. and we watched our own TV until five a.m. when they finally called it. Honestly, I feel a great relief and a sense of hope and pride in my country that I haven’t felt for years.

I spent the rest of the week in Spanish class, doing homework in the afternoon and transcribed about twenty notes from Rome onto my computer. On Friday we went to lunch at the Japanese restaurant where Dawn’s birthday party was and had a fantastic meal. We then explored a nice Galician place that gave us an enormous tapa with our wine and the atmosphere of the place was fantastic. We vowed to return on a day when we were actually hungry. On Saturday Wendy had a get together with friends at a Spa for four hours so I read the web and checked out the new changes to Shaman in World of Warcraft.

And I loved them.

Thanks to Maelstrom Weapon I can now cast instant Chain Lightning or instant Healing Wave in the middle of combat which greatly increases my survivability. I have a new instant weapon attack as well and early Saturday I hit level sixty and got "The Dogs." It’s a special ability that allows you to summon two Spirit Wolves who fight by your side, heal you, and replenish your mana all at the same time. When they are up, it is almost impossible to be killed. I used them to kill “Araj the Summoner” in the middle of Andoral, a level 62 elite who hits like a truck and has a million health. Yeah, the fact that he has an army of undead that help him in the fight didn’t stop me either. The new wolves are just insane and I’m loving the class more than ever.

I only had three hundred gold on me so I asked my friend Ben Bleiweiss if I could borrow the other three hundred I needed for my epic mount. Ben is an old Magic buddy that has been playing MMORPG’s with me for years now. He and his wife Kate are golden in my eyes. Great people. Ben knows how to work the auction house in WoW better than anyone I’ve ever met.

“You can just have the three hundred gold. Don’t worry about it.”

“How much money do you have now?”

“Thirteen thousand.”

He mailed me fifteen hundred gold.

I bought some new armor and leveled my enchanting from zero to two hundred and thirty. Enchanting is insane. I really had no idea. While I still have five hundred gold left, it took me five hundred gold to get to two hundred and thirty and if I want to continue I’m going to need to farm instances for green weapons or pay about fifteen gold a pop for each point I raise my skill. And that cost will only go up. I would suggest if you want to be an enchanter you do so from level one on, or prepare months in advance to raise the skill.

Wendy called about five in the evening, walking home, and asked if I wanted to meet her for a drink at a new place. It looked like a hole in the wall to me, but the bartender was incredibly nice, the food was fantastic and we vowed to go back. As usual, we just talked and talked and talked.

Sunday we went to our favorite paella place for one last taste before heading home. I’ve done all I can do on Marilyn’s Story and have sent it off to readers and my editor Chris McMahon. Wendy and I talked some more on a concept we came up with for the book. Marilyn’s journal and Lorelei’s point of view updates are already in the book. I think they add a lot to the story. In one of our marathon conversations we somehow decided it would add even more to have some other points of view. Copies of the book have been sent to Hilary and Michele, Marilyn’s folks and my parents. I’m hoping they will read through it and think “Oh yeah, I remember that day. That was when…” and add an outside perspective that will make the book even better.

Here’s hoping.

In other news, I am not a fan of braces.

I have always known my teeth weren’t straight, but I convinced myself that the way they looked added character. Wendy has transformed my life and part of that transformation means I see myself in pictures a lot more because of all the adventures we go on. Looking in pictures and seeing my snaggletooth mouth staring back at me over and over finally convinced me something needed to be done.

I had braces put on about a month ago. This week I go back to the dentist to get apparatus put in. I have no idea what that means. Three weeks ago I went in for a tightening. He cranked so hard on the wires I thought either a tooth was going to be pulled out or he was going to yank the braces off my teeth. It was not pleasant.

Two weeks ago I went in and he put rubber bands on the bottom teeth to separate them. Took about five minutes.

“These might come off. Depending on if and when they come off, you might have to come in and get more applied. These will separate your teeth so we can move on to the next stage. You’ll need a half an hour appointment as we try different apparatus to see which one will fit.”

Doesn’t that sound pleasant?

I’m thinking that’s a double shot of JD visit.

I already feel like a horse with a bit in his mouth. I’m not looking forward to adding “apparatus.” I thought I would get used to the braces eventually and not notice them that much, but so far… no. I feel them all the time, all day long. Only eleven months to go until I get them off.

Wendy : What's he mean by aparatus?
Me : I don't know but if he comes near me with a red ball attached to some leather straps I'm outta there.


That’s Wednesday. Friday, Wendy and I fly back to the states. We have a two day visit in NY to see her brother and his family and then we’re flying home. We will be hosting Thanksgiving this year. I think we’ll have like eighteen people in the house and I’ve never cooked a turkey before. My folks have offered to make the turkey but I think at forty-three it’s time I learned how to do it myself. Plus, we love to cook and host.

We’ll only be home for two weeks and have a lot of people to see and things to do.

Oh yeah, the homeless guy thing. I walked into a store to get a soda, and there was this tiny little old man carrying a sleeping bag. I don't think he was even five feet tall. He looked like a gnome with a little hat and a long beard. He was muttering to himself and as I approached the counter, he came over and punched me in the arm. It was so soft a punch it could have been from a buddy, hitting you on the arm and saying “hey man, how’s it going?” I ignored him and paid for my soda. He went outside and waited by the entrance for me. When I came out, he muttered something else and again punched me in the arm. So, I shoved him and he fell and started screaming. I think he broke his hip. Good thing they have free health care over here.

And again, I’m totally lying about that last part. Clearly disturbed and living on the street, I just walked away from him. Thankfully, he didn’t follow.

As for the Duff beer, it’s gotten big over here. We’ve seen it in a few store windows and particularly one bar we walk by at the end of our runs. One day we stopped in there because I had to have a Duff. You can’t have ever watched the Simpsons and not wanted to know what Duff beer tastes like.

Lena and Stefan were telling us last week they went to a bar with over a hundred beers. I asked if they had Budweiser.

Lena responds with “No, but if you want I’ll open a Mahou, add some water and horse piss to it and it would taste about the same.”

Duff tasted worse than that.

It tasted like Old Milwaukee.