For all you new folks who signed up this week: welcome! You might want to check out last week's newsletter because it's more earth-shaking than this one - hey, it's hard to compete with a story about the world's longest flight (SIN-EWR).
Now that you're all on board: Newark airport was where we left off. From there I took the bus into Manhattan. It made three short stops. I got off at the last one, Grand Central Terminal (GCT). There wasn't much traffic so it took just 40 minutes. Even better, the price was right: only $12. What's funny is that there weren't many people (including the driver) who spoke English. So that ride back home made me feel more like I was in a foreign country than I did while I was over in Singapore.
If you're wondering why I didn't take the AirTrain from EWR to Penn Station, -- after all, it takes less time and costs the same, the answer is I had way too many bags.
I stayed uptown in my family's apartment. I hoped to be able to jump right in to the Eastern time zone, because I slept only two hours on the plane, which landed in the evening. But (of course) that didn't happen. I went to bed around 11:30 p.m. after having dinner with a friend at Mary Ann's Mexican Restaurant (the food and service was okay). Mary Ann's Mexican Restaurant, 1503 2nd Ave, New York; tel.: 212-249-6165.
I thought for sure I wouldn't get up until 8 a.m., but I woke up at 4 -- wide awake. I worked on my computer, did laundry and had a delicious breakfast sandwich on a NY bagel. I was congratulating myself for getting a lot done when suddenly, around 10 a.m., it came out of nowhere and hit me. I got sooooo tired. It seriously felt like someone came up behind me and belted me over the head with a baseball bat. I barely had enough energy to crawl to the couch. I didn't want to sleep; I only wanted to watch TV and rest for a few minutes. But the next thing I remember was waking up -- at 3 p.m.
I felt good, but was bummed I had taken a nap (I don't like throwing off my sleep pattern). I caught up on more work, then grabbed a couple of slices from my favorite pizza place (Don Filipo's on 78th and Lexington) and ate in Central Park. I was excited to be back in NY because I could sit back, relax and watch the Yankees play the Red Sox on TV. The games started at 7 p.m., so guess what time I fell asleep? Right after the National Anthem, at 7:02. Ugh! I was so upset -- and are you ready for kicker? I woke up at 11, when John Sterling (the Yanks' announcer) screamed "The Yankees win! The Yankees win!" That kind of stuff can only happen to me.
But that's not the worst part -- I ended up staying awake the entire night. Sure, I got a lot of work done, but as soon as the sun came up I felt tired. I was turning into a vampire. I fought all day long with myself to stay awake. I seriously have never been more jet lagged in my life. In fact, I don't think ANYONE has ever been this jet lagged. I was so tired, I shook. At 11 a.m. I did one of my weekly 15- minute radio phone interviews, and I talked gibberish. The host later told me I started discussing Hooters Airlines, for no apparent reason whatsoever. They said it was hilarious, but the scary part is I don't even remember what I said.
All I know is around 5 p.m., while I struggled to keep my eyes open, I took a walk in Central Park. When I went to get some food, I actually started seeing things. As I crossed Madison Avenue, out of the corner of my eye I swear I saw a dude dressed up like Spider-Man. I did a quick double-take, and it was just some man wearing a red baseball cap. I hurried back to the apartment before I got locked up. The ball game was on, and I didn't want to miss it for the second straight night. Well, you don't even want to know what time I fell asleep. Let's put it this way: Just reread the paragraph above. It was a repeat of the night before. Unbelievable, I know.
I was so upset the next morning, I decided to fly back to LA a few days early. After taking an 18-and-a-half hour flight, going from NY to LA was like taking a subway across town. Not only that, I got upgraded, so I had a cush seat and a tasty five-course meal. I don't know if I was still delirious or not, but I remember seeing this napkin that boasted how United flight attendants speak 30 different languages, and most likely one is your language. I agree the flight attendants are smart, but don't you think whoever made these up should've put the wording in all 30 languages? How are people going to know if they don't read English?
I got back to LA and found a half-empty apartment. Amber Airplane (my ex-girlfriend/fiancee) was gone. On the counter was a ripped-up picture. Out of curiosity I spent 10 minutes trying to put it back together (I never was too good at puzzles). The girl really knows how to make a point. It was a picture of us at our dinner table the very first night we moved in together. If that doesn't hurt, I don't know what does. But don't be mad at her; I'm sure I deserve it. Breaking up with someone you truly love sucks!
It's been seven weeks since that inaugural flight. The reason I wrote about it only last week is because I had so much to tell you about each country in Asia. In addition, I just wanted to relax in California and deal with my new life. Since I didn't do too much during July, we'll catch up to the present time after next week's newsletter. In the meantime, here are a few highlights from home.
For the 4th of July I went down to Hermosa Beach to see friends. The place is party central all weekend long. It's filled with a crazy amount of young party animals, and is so crowded you can't even walk -- let alone ride -- your bike on the Strand (a bike path along the beach). To get away from the drunks (I don't drink, and wasn't in the mood for partying) I went to Manhattan Beach, and hung out with my cousins at a mellow beach party.
If you're an aviation buff, you'll be interested to know I went to a cool trade show at the Sheraton near LAX. My travel agent, who collects and sells travel memorabilia, had a table, and invited me to attend. It cost $5, but once you're in you can buy anything to do with just about any airline. There was every kind of model airplane for sale; all kinds of t-shirts, bag tags, pins, amenity bags, china, silverware, jewelry -- you name it. There were airlines past and present; carriers that are still in business, and ones that aren't. I ran into more friends, who quickly dragged me to a booth. Guess what they were selling? A never-been- used Johnny Jet hat! Guess how much? $2. I almost fainted. Those bad boys cost me $12 each -- so of course I bought it back.
I liked the show because I recently started collecting models of airlines and plane types I have a special liking for (Singapore Airlines A340, a United Airlines 747...). But I have to warn you: There were some super freaks there. Would you believe there are people who sit around all day long trading slides (yes, pictures) of airplanes. I pray I never get into do something that stupid.
Next week we get back on an airplane to ...