Sunday, August 28, 2005

Sneakers, pocketbooks and soda

I got to hang out with my best friend for two weekends in a row, an oddity now that there's more than 600 miles between us.
Last Friday, Amy and I packed my car and actually began our journey to New Jersey at our planned time -- 5 a.m. After numerous pit stops and one lousy meal (yes, Abbey, meal) at Friendly's, we were in Saddlebrook, where Abbey's lived since May. From there, we made her drive the rest of the way to the Jersey shore, partly because of driving exhaustion and partly because Abbey was made for traveling on New Jersey roads. You haven't experienced traffic congestion until you've driven during Jersey rush hour. Obscenities aren't an option, they're required. And Abbey held up her end nicely.
The three of us spent Friday night with Amy's Aunt Abbie, who has a beautiful house in Brick, N.J., with a widow's walk and ocean view. Like any true Bartner, Aunt Abbie greeted us with tons of food -- cookies, stuffed peppers, tabouli, fresh mozzarella and take-out Chinese. She is such a wonderful lady and I wish we could have spent more time with her.
On Saturday, we headed to Manasquan, where Abbey and Adam have a beach house they're renting for the summer. That town is like spring break, only for three months straight. We had a great time jumping in the massive waves, soaking up some much-needed sun and, in spring break fashion, drinking.
After spending all day at the house, we headed to a bar on the boardwalk, where I just might have been part of the duo that eventually got us kicked out.
Now, listen. If you know me at all, you know that I'm usually not the one responsible for things like that. So here's my side of the story as I remember it.
The place was packed, especially on the dance floor, where people crammed shoulder to shoulder attempted to dance and sing along with the band, a group of guys with black-rimmed glasses appropriately called The Nerds. We (and by we I mean at least 10 people from the house) swerve in and out of people until we're in the thick of it. Sometime during the night, a girl dancing behind Adam begins to repeatedly knock into him. Whether it was on purpose, I'm not sure, but it didn't please Adam, who'd already had enough alcohol to produce his signature drunken half-closed eyes and unsteady gait.
"Push me," he says to me, rocking back and forth.
"Just push me," he repeats.
I oblige, giving him a little shove at the collar bone. Adam pauses slightly and rams his back into the pushing girl. She turns around, looks for the culprit, and then goes back to dancing. Minutes pass and all is peaceful. Then Adam lurches forward, pushed again from behind, only this time much harder.
He whirls around and starts to yell at the girl, who yells back. Within seconds one of the security guards, who stood on the stage watching the crowd like a hawk, jumps to the floor. But instead of stopping Adam and pushy girl from killing each other, he turns to me.
"I saw what you did," he says.
I'm confused, not remembering my previous shove, and unable to connect it to the current events.
"Take your friends and go to the other side of the bar."
I stare at him and he repeats himself. Amy and I attempt to gather everyone and walk away, believing that the rest of the group is following.
Little do we know that Adam had begun to turn his anger for pushy girl toward the security guard. More guards jump off the stage and Adam and his friend Jason are put to the ground and dragged out of the bar.
By the time Amy and I get out, Abbey is crying hysterically and Adam is bragging about how he "took out four cops."
That, my friends, is how I got us kicked out of the bar with one little shove.
On Sunday, Amy and I left the drama behind and visited her grandma in Kearny. We ate authentic Jersey pizza with her before making the 10-hour night trip back to Michigan, which was one of the most challenging drives of my life.
It was great to see Abbey and Adam. I saw them both again when they flew into town this weekend for the annual draft party. I miss them both and the little things they do and say, whether it's Abbey asking why the techno CD is skipping or Adam pretending to hit his head on the wall to see if anyone is paying attention.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


My tooth came out easily. At least I think it did. There's no way of knowing how much cutting and pulling the doctor had to do while I lay unconscious.
In fact, I don't remember very much of the hours after surgery. They took off my glasses, put on an oxygen mask that partially obstructed my view and inserted the IV (didn't hurt as much as I was worried it would). Then, just like in the movies, I stared up at the oval shaped chair light, took two slow blinks while they asked me questions and I was out.
I don't remember the car ride home, although my mom says I was talkative. I crashed on our downstairs couch and filled the rest of the day with girlie movies and books. And so far, I've been in little pain. (knock on wood). My jaw's a little sore. There are stitches between four of my bottom teeth, which feel like floss that's permanently stuck there. But in general, I feel pretty good. I've only taken a couple painkillers since yesterday morning. I prefer to avoid those at all costs because they make me feel dizzy and tired.
I hope today is just as painless.
Then it's time to get ready for New Jersey!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Nervous smile

I have a third tooth.
Actually a set of third teeth. Most people have their baby teeth, followed by their permanent teeth. I have one more level. Two mutants floating in my lower jaw. But this spring, one of them started to emerge out of my gum, right under my normal teeth.
So tomorrow, it’s coming out.
I’m a wimp when it comes to doctors, surgeries and the like. Needless to say, I’m less than thrilled to for tomorrow to come. More than anything, I’m scared about the IV. I hate needles and that will go in before I’m knocked out. I was through the same thing last year when I had my wisdom teeth out, but I’m still nervous about the ordeal.
In other news, Friday was my last day at The Detroit News. It was a really good summer. Looking back, it’s hard to believe all the stories I covered. Land disputes, rich people buying designer dogs, a family fight over a Marine’s remains, study abroad students in London during the bombings and an explosion at a chemical plant to name a few. It also was a good summer for internal news, from switching to new presses to a corporate switchup that’s bound to drastically change Detroit’s newspapers. They offered me an extension, which I would have gladly taken if it weren’t for a pre-planned trip to New Jersey and this tooth.
Butterflies in my stomach again. Wish me luck, and hope that the other floater doesn’t pop up next summer.

Monday, August 08, 2005

And eat it, too

For the first time in my 22 years of life, my aunt didn't make my birthday cake.
The tradition began with a cake in the shape of a turtle. Then a Cookie Monster cake for my second birthday. Followed by carnival scenes, ballerinas, unicorns and other fantastical themes during my single digits. Then the cakes started to highlight parts of my life that were important at the time of each passing year: a dance recital, marching band, books, journalism, a trip to London and even a cake splattered with Cs, Hs and Os during the summer I took organic chemistry (even though I don't think that class was that important to me).
Every cake was a surprise, something my aunt thought about and planned for weeks ahead of time. Relatives crowded around the door every year to get a glimpse of her masterpiece. A birthday wasn't a birthday until "Auntie" and her cake had arrived. But this day came and went without one.
The deal is over. Twenty one cakes in 21 years, that was the arrangement. I'm not sure who made the rules, I've just always known them. A cake each year until after I'm 21, until I'm grown up.
So it was strange today to open the door to see my aunt with presents in hand, but no cake. Maybe even more strange to think about what that means. I'm grown up. It's true that you always think an age is old until you're there.
Don't worry, it wasn't a cakeless birthday. My mom took over the duties rather well with a tropical ice cream cake. No decorations, just frosting and coconut shavings.
So here's to a life of "grown-up" cakes, wishes come true and life at 22.