Sunday, August 31, 2008

Six Flags Over Comic Book People

I found this souvenir viewer thingy in the cassette tape box.

What the hell is it, I thought. Peering in the lens (before I tore it apart), I saw a transparency of me and a bunch of comic book professionals. We were at Six Flags Over Texas. This had to be either a convention or a Marvel Mega-Tour. So it was between, oh, 1992 and 1994.

From left to right...well, I'm not sure. I think it might be Steve Epting. Can anyone help me out here? Then it goes: Lisa Patrick, me, Dan Chichester, Richard Ashford, I have no idea, and in the back is Marc McLaurin.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Copper Canyon Photos

I posted some Copper Canyon photos from the Mexico part of TurboTour 2002.

This was the trip that Turbo the Aussie and I took cross-country in Henry the 1990 Ford Taurus. We bought Henry in Torrance, CA, and filled his trunk up with camping gear.

When we got to El Paso, we parked Henry in a public lot, packed a few PB&J sandwiches, wished him well, and caught a bus to Chihuahua. I can't remember the details now (Steve B tells me
my memory is slipping due to too much multi-tasking, and I suspect he is correct), but fortunately, I posted a travelogue on

I remember being amazed that it was only $25 to get on a bus in El Paso and get off the bus deep in Mexico. We couldn't afford the first-class tourist train, but the second-class train was pretty great, plus we were surrounded by locals.

After an afternoon and night in Chihuahua, we boarded the train to the colonial-style town of El Fuerte. A few days later, we caught the train to the rim town of Creel, where we took a day hike down into the canyon.

I don't really remember why, but we had our biggest (and only serious?) fight there, in the bottom of that canyon. I remember hyperventilating, which was new to me then and has only happened one other time in my life. Both times involved arguments with men I was seriously involved with. So I guess we can conclude that I am tough as nails when it involves emergencies, danger, and border guards, but throw romance into the picture and I become a puddle. For what that's worth.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Today's Travel Quotes

    "Throughout the journey, I had had the same feeling that I had not been "abroad" anywhere, that I had simply moved through different dimensions of a single human contemporaneity."
    —passage from "The Naked Tourist," by Lawrence Osborne

    "Ever since I've been in hostile countries, I no longer feel foreign in any of them. I never go "abroad" any more."
    —passage from In the White Cities by Joseph Roth, quoted in "The Naked Tourist," by Lawrence Osborne

    "There's something deeply lonely about being a tourist."
    —Novelist Deb Olin Unferth in this week's Time Out New York "Books" interview.

All three of these are definitely true for me. But bizarrely, I feel quite at "home" when I'm moving through the world, but feel foreign here at home.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Worm Greetings

One of the fringe benefits of my job is that I receive Ramadan greeting cards. These can get really creative and interesting. Right now one of my artists is designing one for my company to send out.

I got this one from a hotel in Cairo.

Let's take a closer look at the words, shall we..?


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sifting through the Past: A Preview

Today, I'm feeling kind of gross after having had (expensive) steak at Peter Luger's last night. But I'm also overwhelmed with too many bits and pieces, so struggling to muster up anything to say about it.

One thing about last night though is that Marc loaned me his MiniDV camera, so I can digitize a little video that Thanos and I shot in Ohio some twenty-one years ago. Here's a preview.

Of course, I ought to check with Thanos first to see if I can go plastering this across my blog. He'll be here tomorrow. I'll bully him into it then.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Biking Around Downtown JC

Why is there an elephant fountain by the skating rink at Newport? It's a mystery. More importantly, there's a great new supermarket near this elephant.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Namibia Slideshow

I made a Namibia slideshow, but I left the "Ken Burns Effect" On. It's kind of cool, but kind of annoying. No offense to Mr. Burns.

You can go look at the snapshots (and additional ones too) in their natural state by clicking on the sand dune below.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

She's Amazing--Trouble the Water

In August, 2005, I was in another world. I lived in Uganda then, splitting my time between Kampala and the jungle of Murchison Falls National Park.

I was not only in another world physically, but at that time was going through a personal crisis the likes of which have not (thankfully) been seen before or since. I keep trying to write about it for "Curse of the Hippo." I keep giving up.

Meanwhile, a world away, Hurricane Katrina was building.

Yancey's family is from New Orleans. I remember an email from him that said that it looked like the worst of the storm was going to miss New Orleans.

Then somewhere among the lost emails from that day, while I grappled with my own problems, there was the last email from Yancey that I got for a while. "August 29, 2005. My birthday will now always be the day that my hometown was destroyed."

I remember the shock of the Ugandans as they watched the images on the news. I remember being incredulous that Uganda was giving funds to the US for Katrina aid. I also remember being completely out of touch with what was going on, feeling confused and disconnected by reading news stories and seeing only a few images here and there. And because I was caught up in the immediate situation I was in, I didn't really grasp what was happening.

Last night, on the recommendation of pudu-aficionado Bob Harris, I went to the see the documentary "Trouble the Water."

I think I have a better idea now of what people were going through in the Ninth Ward while I was in crisis 7,000 miles away. This documentary is about a poor, streetwise couple who had just acquired a video camera that they barely knew how to use, and—along with several neighbors, since there was no public transportation—didn't have the money to evacuate.

They taped the rain, then the floods. They climbed higher and higher in the house, stepping on furniture to access the attic. Finally, a heroic neighbor moved everyone he could find into the highest house in the area. He probably saved dozens of lives that day, swimming with what I think was a floating punching bag.

Official help never came. The ragtag group somehow found a boat. They tried to get help at the naval base and were turned away. They were able to rest at the high school.

"No offense but civilians just don't know how to survive." You want to clock the ignorant, clean, white soldier who says this to the filmmakers about the street hustler survivors who had just lived through hell and improvised their way out of it. About the husband who couldn't swim, but who acted as a human propeller for a boat full of survivors, never getting in the boat himself.

Eventually, the couple somehow acquired a truck. There is a dead silence when asked about this acquisition, so it is probably not totally legal. But who cares? When you have to evacuate 30 people, including senior citizens and children, you do what you have to do.

The dramatic events in the attic and the evacuation were riveting, but the most fascinating part of this documentary is how it shows that this couple, and some people around them, were given a new chance to start over by Katrina. They even discussed it, how the events of that day changed them and showed them their own potential. These were people who had absolutely nothing going for them except for community. But community, I think, is the one thing I truly crave.

The filmmakers were present at last night's screening, and they asked the audience to spread the word if they liked the movie. I didn't just like it—it blew me away. My mind did not wander for a single second during the screening. Kim Rivers Rogers, the star of the show, didn't need to say it as she did in a song she wrote when she was depressed, but she's amazing. And her husband is less showy, but by the end of the movie, I was even more impressed with him. He shows a level head, which it seemed like he developed from the experience.

Go see it, if you can.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dark Night

I went on a night sail in New York Harbor last night.

It was kind of nice, but unfortunately, the Brooklyn Bridge waterfall was broken, the fact that there was no moon meant no light for photos, an extremely loud woman sat next to me (and talked the WHOLE time), and I was smacked in the eye by a rope.

The lack of ambient light did create some interesting photos, though.

Governor's Island Waterfall

New York City skyline

Colgate clock, JC

Staten Island ferry

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Don't Blink Or You'll Miss Me

Why look, it's me! For all of 2.3 seconds at the beginning of this video.

Thanks to Carl Potts for pointing this out.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Talkin' Turkey

Down under the cassettes and VHS tapes, in the moldy box that I found in the garage, there was a turkey caller.

Which is great, because this way I can catch turkeys after the apocalypse, instead of eating bugs or Alpo.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Unearthing a Time Capsule

Once upon a time—maybe two decades ago—people had answering machines that recorded onto cassette tapes. We didn't have cell phones or e-mail, so everything happened through complex back-and-forth messages, and sometimes people were actually home when they were telephoned.

And it seems that between 1988 and 1990, I would let the tapes fill up and then throw them into a box. And Sunday, I found a large box in my garage—it was actually growing mold—and inside of it were hundreds of cassette and VHS tapes.

The message tapes are absolute time capsules now, containing one side of phone tag conversations. I can piece together what was going on in my life from the messages that were left...there's David calling right after he moved to LA, here's Nancy calling from across the street, and what did I ever see in THAT guy? (Or that one or that one?)

It seems I was always late on my student loan payments. Which isn't really surprising. I was paid very little in my first job at Marvel.

And then there were loads of messages from Daniel Johnston. Like this one.

Wait'll I dig into the recordings of when I was a party line monitor...except it was probably illegal to have made them, moreso to slap them up on my blog.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Another Review

Google Alerts aren't perfect. They miss things all the time.

So when I vanity search, I use a different search engine. One that turns up things like your last six addresses, any Facebook accounts, that MySpace account you opened and abandoned and didn't use your last name on, and even your amazon wishlist. Eww, creepy.

I don't do this very often. Not because I'm going to pretend to be too good for vanity searching, but because it's a pain. I've worked on thousands of comic books over the years, and they've all been reviewed a dozen times each, complete with credits.

But when I am procrastinating take the time to look, sometimes it turns up something good.

Like this: A review of Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik, posted in June on a Washington state journalism site.

Kate Skinner, the reviewer, kindly lumped my book in with some real heavy hitters. And it's a sign of the times that I was a "graphic novel colorist" rather than a "comic book colorist." Graphic novels have been talked about a lot in book circles for a few years. I'm not as sure as she was that I was anticipating the blog culture, but I'll take what I can get.

    The 2001 journey is thoroughly contemporary, anticipating the blog culture driven as it was by sponsorship and a website. This book is about the African leg of that journey. While there is a fair representation of the everyday lot of local people — dust, waiting, delays, more waiting, climbing into and out of local transport, and more waiting — Javins also writes with candor about relationships on the road and the personal tension between relationships and solitude which drives her wandering and explorations.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Saturday Night in JC

When I think of Saturday night in downtown JC, I definitely do not think of Italian festivals on Sixth Street. Or Go-Gos cover bands. And yet, here it is, as it is every year.

Thanks to all of you for indulging me as I re-learn video editing software on my Mac.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Liberty State Park

Big City of Dreams

Sometimes I question the decisions I've made, or rather backed myself into. In the early part of 2008, when I had a good reason to hang around, I dedicated myself to reassimilating into my home society, to re-learning how to exist within a normal structure. I was going to stick around New York for a while instead of roaming.

I signed up for classes. I'm going to be here anyway, what the hell. I agreed to teach coloring at SVA. Why not? Then my good reason evaporated. My commitments were less elusive. They stuck around. Maybe there's a lesson there for my famed fear-of-abandonment. The crap won't leave you. Feel better now?

Still, reassimilation is a good thing. Learning to be comfortable at home is not a bad skill to regain. But then, am I just trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, with confused goals? Is it perhaps someone else's norm to stay home, when I would be thriving on the road, taking the bus from Morocco to Ghana to my little apartment in Namibia to Cape Town?

I don't know the answer to that. And I won't for several months. I think it's worth trying, this hanging around thing. If my results are limited, I'll be frustrated, but my reassimilation scheme could actually work. I've been startled by how much fun I've had so far as I've consciously gone out into the world to meet people and do things. It's been an incredible summer, which surprises me.

And as Matt H pointed out a while back, there are worse places to be stuck for a year than New York City.

For example, I went over to Film Forum last night to see the Patti Smith documentary.

The movie was...I dunno. Kind of long. It had its moments. But afterwards, Patti Smith unexpectedly strolled up to the podium.

She was not having the best day. Her basement had flooded. But she told stories, took questions, and finally told a story about Moby Dick.

Back in elementary (or maybe middle, I don't know) school in South Jersey, she'd been bored silly by how the teacher was telling the story of Moby Dick. "Then come up here and show me you can do better," said the teacher.

Patti Smith is an orator, first and foremost. She went up there and engaged the class and by the end, "everyone wanted to join a whaling vessel."

Where else but New York? Certainly, were I crashed in a dusty hotel room in Ghana, Patti Smith would not have strolled in.

Maybe there's something to this staying home stuff.

Friday, August 15, 2008

3-D Swag

Here's the promo materials for the 3-D World Atlas & Tour that I wrote. It's coming out next month. Finally! I wrote it before I moved to Cairo. The first time.

If you could detach and put on the glasses, the Eiffel Tower, Great Barrier Reef, and Sphinx would pop right off the page at you.

Instead, you'll have to take my word for it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I Can Take a Hint

    "Most travel books about Africa open with the author alone, carried along by some vehicle, looking down over some landscape and feeling anxious. ... Almost invariably books of this genre start with airplanes or ships."
    --Wendy Belcher,, July 28, 1999 article "Out of Africa"

    "Every travel book employs the insidious device of the writer peering down through the airplane window and seeing this or that land, which is always made to look otherworldly."
    --Lawrence Osborne, The Naked Tourist (North Point Press, 2006)

And now you know why Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik begins with the end, with the hippo chasing us, rather than with me standing aboard the German ship, looking apprehensively at Cape Town on approach.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Amanda Gets Interviewed

Amanda Castleman is lovely and wonderful. And not just cuz she's a chick in a mostly men's adventure-travel world.

I just read an interview with her on Rolf Potts site. And she plugged Dik-Dik! She certainly did not have to do that. She could have spent the entire interview talking about her own projects, promoting her own career. But no, she took a second to promote me too.

I respond well to support and feedback, and I wilt when I get ignored or criticized. Some people are like that, while others rise to a challenge when given negative feedback. Amanda knows now that I thrive on support, but she didn't know it last year when she answered those interview questions (and actually, neither did I, having worked this out fairly recently based on empirical evidence of aforementioned wilting). Yay, Amanda, and thank you.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Look, Up in the Sky

A helium balloon is hovering over Central Park, but only until August 22nd. I was anxious to get on-board. But on Saturday, the line was much too long.

Yesterday morning, I went at around 8:15, but learned that the wait would be longer than an hour. One of my two bosses was coming into my office, so I didn't want to stroll in late. I bagged the balloon idea and went back this morning.

I made it up, but only because I was alone. I got to go in the basket with a mother and two little girls (who squealed in fear and joy), and another single passenger. Had I been with another person, I would not have been singled out and pulled out of the long line before CNN and Disney both showed up, preempting the passengers waiting in line.

That's the second time this summer that being alone has been a real advantage, the first being when I got the last spot on the Grand Canyon rafting trip. It's a trade-off, though. I miss a lot of things when I feel too awkward to go alone.

Monday, August 11, 2008

And I Used to Dye My Hair Brown, Too

Andrew Perry (once of both Antioch and Marvel) just uploaded this photo of me to Facebook, where a number of Antiochians of my vintage are putting up photos to torture each other be collegial.

It's me at my 1988 Antioch graduation. My friend Wendy made the dress from a wheat germ sack. "Number 1 Germ" was displayed across its front.

I am shocked at how young I look, though Andrew rightly pointed out that it was two decades ago.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saturday in the Park

I didn't mean to end up wandering around Central Park yesterday. Or to inquire after dik-diks at the zoo. Or to learn to hula-hoop. Or to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, or eat a burrito at the Fulton Slip. I didn't intend to see Angélique Kidjo in Prospect Park, to run into Nick Hill there, or to sip a cranberry-and-seltzer at a bar while yakking on to C about my job or life.

I intended to go to Summerstage, but serendipity intervened when the headliner cancelled. And me without my camera, on a gorgeous summer day.

The cell phone camera is a poor substitute.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Chasing Waterfalls

The little camera does all right on the video end, but when I start taking it abroad, I'm going to have to do something about the audio.

Yancey and I took the New York Water Taxi sunset tour on Wednesday night. It was loads of fun, but I'm going to do this trip again on a sailboat when Steve and Cat come to town later in the month.

Friday, August 08, 2008

New York Harbor

Yancey and I took a New York Water Taxi cheap-o sunset tour of New York Harbor.

It was fun except for the grating narration by the tour guide. "Does anyone know what that is over there? That's New Jersey. Do you know why they call it the Garden State? Cuz they're LIARS." (har dee har har)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Life Lessons

In 2002, I lived on a remote mountaintop in Australia with Turbo. He'd built a beautiful house there on 30 acres of rainforest, using many native materials.

He's getting married today, though I most certainly am not invited. I have recently learned of the concept of "inappropriate friendships," which is a slippery concept. But as an ex whose entire condo was renovated by Turbo while his girlfriend steamed at home, I can see that I perhaps fit into this category.

But this blog post isn't about Turbo.

It's about a little bit of self-awareness that I have come to recently. I watched the actions of myself and others. Gave it some thought. And realized.

I didn't even try with Turbo. I wore emotional unavailability on my sleeve (so did he at the time), though I wasn't quite aware of it.

I came up with long lists of reasons—most of them his fault—for why I couldn't actually stay in that relationship. I've probably spouted many of them off within the last year. They were just smokescreens. Imagine if I'd conversed with him about them instead of complaining to my friends—who didn't know him and had nothing to do with what went on between us. Duh. I was 35 years old and still Marie the Wildebeest-Slayer, the Lara Croft, the Rugged-Yet-Girly Adventurer. I had zero interest in opening myself up to something that I viewed then as a ball-and-chain. Something that might have forced me to, uh, grow up.

Plus I was distracted by a fantasy. Herr Marlboro, adventurer, man like myself. A romance that hadn't yet started, so clearly doomed in hindsight, but one that taught me via his own lousy example that I'd acted poorly and missed out on the full value of being a person. Self-reliance is lonely. Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

So there we have it. Marie was emotionally unavailable, snarky, and lacked the strength to commit to a stand-up man. Mostly cuz she was a damn baby, and maybe because she held a fantasy in her head.

I don't need to read a self-help book or pay the therapist to know I walked away from something perfectly swell and viable because of my own limitations.

But I did learn from it. It just took me a while to stop making excuses and accept that. A embarrassingly long while.

And so what anyway? Anyone who has reads this blog could have told me as much already, right? Certainly anyone who knows me knew that I was spooked by commitment (or rather, struggle to trust anyone but myself) long before I admitted it to be the sub-theme in Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik.

Let's all wish a successful marriage to my ex, then, and hope that my life lessons stick now that, like the Target cashier, I own them.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

No Place Like, Uh...

Home seems to be missing.

I didn't grow up in the house that is no longer located behind where my mother is standing here in Alexandria, Virginia. But she owned the house that was here from right after I went away to college until about ten years ago. It's where I would go "home" to for many years. It's where I lived when I was an intern at AP on Capitol Hill, and when I worked at the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress.

Our former home is going to be a McMansion. The "Cambridge II" model.

Early 90s Bullpen Reunion

Pond Scum, Powers, Yancey, Czop

Scum: "It's like an Image Comics reunion, only nobody cares."

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Convergence Media*

The day job is featured here.

The boss gives good interview. I want to believe.

*An obscure play on words that will make sense to about four people who are aware that someone at Time knows way more than any journalist should about my day job.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Target Sells Self-Help Books Too

On Sunday, Denise and I headed to Target after meeting up at the Grace Church Used Book Sale. I go to the sale often, always with intent to donate books and never with intent to purchase. In spite of this, I left with a one-dollar Merriam-Webster's 11th Edition Collegiate Dictionary (hardcover) and a copy of A Thousand Splendid Suns, also for a dollar.

At Target, we first headed for Returns. Denise threw a pair of seersucker shorts up on the scanner.

"I don't know what I was thinking when I bought those," she said. "My husband asked* if I was planning on going sailing or to the country club."

The cashier, a large-boned JC gal in her late teens or early twenties, laughed along with us, then added her own two cents.

"I bought some of those too. I was a MESS in them. A MESS."

We laughed back. But she wasn't done yet.

"I was a mess, but I was a HOT MESS. I was a hot mess, but I OWNED IT."

Denise still returned the seersucker shorts.

*Sarcasm, in case you don't know how unlikely Denise is to do either of these things.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

A New Low in Adventures in Wi-Fi

Turnpike traffic was crawling on Friday night.

When I hit bumper-to-bumper congestion, I pulled off and parked in the Woodrow Wilson Rest Area. Or maybe it was Joyce Kilmer. They all start to look alike when your eyes are glazed over from driving.

I bought some juice in the convenience store, pulled out my laptop, and sat on a bench. If I wasn't going to be moving anyway, I thought, I might as well be going through my e-mails. I'd read, answer, and store in my out-box to send later when I got home.

Then, suddenly, a red dot popped up in my Dock, announcing incoming mail. My stored mail sent. New mail arrived. I checked the Airport icon, which showed a four-bar strong signal.

Then the bars went down—three, two, one. I looked up and saw a passing BoltBus pulling away. I clicked on my Airport icon and sure enough, the signal said BoltBus.

This was almost as good as pulling up into the parking lot of a roadside motel and piggybacking on its free wi-fi. Once, I even booked a discount room using Best Western's signal before going into Reception and checking in (thereby avoiding racking rate).

As the BoltBus signal faded, I shot off a few proud e-mails to friends.

"I just swiped wi-fi off a bus. Excellent."

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Stupid Marie Tricks

Henry the 1990 Ford Taurus cut off.

"That's not good," I thought, as I slid the transmission into neutral and coasted to the shoulder of the New Jersey Turnpike.

I wasn't too far from my exit, which is 14C. I coasted off 14B instead. He stopped completely.

I tried the ignition again. He started. I drove another twenty feet or so before he cut off again. This time I coasted into a parking lot by the toll gates. "Turnpike Vehicles Only."

Somewhere in my head, I had a piece of information about breaking down on the Turnpike. I thought, "Only certain tow trucks are allowed on the Turnpike. AAA can't help me here. I have to get off the Turnpike."

The toll gate was tantalizingly close. About 20 feet.

I tried the ignition again. Again, Henry started. I flipped the shifter into reverse, then first. I was out of the parking lot and stuttering through the E-Z Pass lane.

Disoriented, I chose the right turn at the fork. I meant to go left. Right was to the Greenville section of JC, over a high ramp that went over the Light Rail. Left was home, through Liberty State Park.

Henry got about halfway up the ramp towards Greenville, and cut off on the slope. No shoulder at all. I tried the ignition again and again. He chugged and chugged but did not start.

Lights behind me indicated cars approaching in my lane. My hands were shaking. I should have stayed in the "Turnpike Vehicles Only" lot. I hit my flashers, turned on my interior lights, and shuffled through the cards in my wallet. AAA...AAA...there it was. I found my phone and dialed.

"I'm disabled on a ramp with no shoulder. I need help FAST."

"Are you on the Turnpike or off?"

"About fifty feet off."

"I'm sorry but on our map, that is still the New Jersey Turnpike. We can't get you there. But you have AAA will pay for the Turnpike Authority to come and get you. That's okay. They are faster than we are."

A few minutes later, I was waiting for help. I got out of the car, thinking that if poor old Henry did get hit, then I didn't want to participate. I stood on the curb, with my cell phone flashlight ON, waving it like a flare at approaching vehicles.

A large tow truck arrived about 15 minutes later. So did the police, who parked behind me and flashed their lights.

"What's wrong with your car?" The tow truck driver got points for assuming I'd know.

"I think it's out of gas," I said sheepishly.

Yep. Out of gas. How completely, utterly embarrassing. The needle had just been at the top of the red, which led me to believe I still had more than enough gas to get home. But I'd never let the needle get into the red before.

"Maybe it's wishful thinking and the car is completely broken, but I think it just needs gas," I explained.

The tow truck driver laughed and went about loading Henry onto his authorized-New Jersey Turnpike flatbed tow truck.

The policemen noted my Virginia plates and said "At least you didn't break down over there." They pointed to Greenville.

"Why, what's over there?"

"Jersey City," one of them replied, ominously.

"Hmmm." Now did not seem the best time to explain that I lived in JC, but that I'd been out of the country so much over the last six years of owning this car that I'd finally just put Henry on my sister's insurance rather than navigate my own registration and insurance from abroad, and was going to change it as soon as she found the money to pay for her car insurance herself.

The tow truck driver finished securing Henry to the flatbed and motioned me to come on.

"And as a bonus, I get to ride in a big truck," I announced cheerily. It never hurts to make the police laugh, when you can.

I climbed into the truck. We drove down into Greenville. Nothing was open. The driver made a remark about my caucasianness and my safety, in light of the non-caucausianness of Greenville. I pursed my lips and reminded myself that I was at the mercy of this driver's kindness.

"There's a gas station open back in Bayonne, at Exit 14A." He went to turn the truck around.

Bayonne? No! We're almost home now!

"No, no. Right up here. Take a right."

I directed him down to the Sunoco at Grand, by the Jersey City Medical Center. There, a smart-but-angry young man pumped ten dollars worth of gas into Henry on his perch on the flatbed truck. The driver got in and Henry started.

We pulled away from the gas station and released Henry onto the asphalt.

"Thanks very much. It won't happen again." I laughed. Too ridiculous, and what a stupid way to spend a Friday night.

Henry and I made a U-turn, a left onto Monmouth, and headed on home.