Brian & Ann's European Experience

Friday, February 25, 2005

Third Trip Home

My second whirlwind trip home.

Only this time I didn’t get to spend as much time in Princeton as last time. And I didn’t get to eat ANY Indian food!

I came into Newark on Monday, arriving one day after the snow, just like last time. We haven’t hardly seen any snow at all in the Netherlands, it only got cold enough to flurry twice, and both times it was gone in an hour. This time the news didn't call it a 'blizzard', but in Northeastern terminology, I would call it "a good sized dump". Which sounds worse than I intended...

I had the obligatory contradictory emotions of “god I miss this” and “god I’m so happy I don’t have to do this any more” as I got reacquainted with New Jersey Transit and Metrocard. It’s home, and it’s not at the same time.

Monday night I met my Aunt Bernadette for dinner up near her (upper East side). My Aunt, although she is retired, knows only one pace: busy. Right now she is busy organizing our family reunion, which happens only once every five years. She gave me the low down about the various operations, births, divorces, and other important details of my extended family, most of whom I have met only once in my life, at the first family reunion. Still, I give her much respect for the effort involved in dealing with all that family.

Tuesday night I found heaven. It’s what others know as “Brazilian style steak house” or “chiascurria”. You pay a fixed price, you get access to the appetizer bar, and then you get down to business. The waiters start bringing around skewers and skewers of meat. Just meat, of many different varieties. Five kinds of sirloin, two kinds of lamb, three other kinds of beef, spare ribs, two kinds of pork, and then exotic things like chicken hearts (which I will never forgive myself for actually trying a bite of… poor little chickens, so wrong to eat their hearts). And it keeps coming and coming as long as you have your signal coaster green side up. When you want to take a break, you flip it over so the red side is up, and then flip it back when you are ready for more. I absolutely love this concept. Thank you Brazil, for making plastic surgery a commodity, for your contribution to women’s grooming, and for Churrascaria.

Wednesday night was Princeton night. Met Mark and Katrin and their baby Kira and Guze and Allie (who are also expecting a baby in about six weeks) for Chinese food at Sunny Garden. Hands down the best Chinese food and sushi in Princeton. Good food. Good company. A baby making cute baby noises. Great time.

Thursday was the going away party for my friend Jim Kingsepp. Jim was a delayed victim of the merger of Springer and Kluwer. He was good at his job, a good manager, and could have done a better job of handling our electronic publishing needs than anyone else, so naturally he was let go. Jim and I both started at Kluwer at the same time, back in 2001 when Kluwer decided to make an “Electronic Publishing Services” group and hire handsome (me) and talented (Jim) people to help make the world safe for electronic publishing. It was sad to see him go, one more reminder that given enough time, everything changes.

The highlights of the evening were:

  • Losing at Hold ‘Em to a bunch of amateurs (I lost ten bucks). That’s not a highlight, but I’ll throw it in anyway. Whatever, they’re still amateurs.
  • Beating the pants off of Jim at Galaga to earn pronunciation rights (it’s a long ‘Gala’ as in Galaxy, and a short ‘ga’ at the end. And a high score of 75,000 by yours truly has the final say, BEOTCH!)
  • Seeing old Kluwer peeps like the immensely tall and wookie-like Rob Wheeler, the charming and lovely ladies: Karen Knapstein, Jen Stevens, and Diane Schubach. Even Mike Malone, who was the head of the company that managed our online platform before we decided to switch to a different vendor who charged us twice as much and was half as responsive (naturally) came to say goodbye to Jim.

It’s true that you can never go home, but you can go back to the place that WAS home and see your old friends and feel like there was a place that you once belonged. And I guess that’s good enough.

Going back has made me think a lot about where I want to be, where I want to spend the years of my life, and how important good friends are to your happiness. My parents proved, with their gallivanting all over the globe, that you can make good friends everywhere, and that’s definitely true. But you meet a finite number of truly special people in your time on Earth, and I think it shows the appropriate honor to recognize them for how special they are.

So consider yourself recognized. You know who you are.


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