Sunday, June 29, 2008


I spent most of yesterday working on my yard, doing chores around my house, and running errands. Around five-ish, I took a shower and was getting ready to make some social calls to see if anything was going on. Just as I grabbed my phone, my doorbell rang. It was my neighbour, carrying a big trimmer and asking if I wanted my hedges trimmed. I attempted this last weekend with a pair of hand trimmers, but the results were less than spectacular. I figured the big power trimmers would do a much better job, so I accepted his offer.
Afterward, he asked if I'd like a beer, which I also accepted. One beer turned into four, and we had a nice conversation. It was then I realised, perhaps I judged him too harshly. Admittedly, it's a little intimidating living next door to my superintendent, and I have the tendency to be a little nervous around him. But I also believe he's genuinely trying to be a cool neighbour, so I've vowed to try to relax and appreciate his friendship a little more. Especially when he offers me beer.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

This Scene Is Dead

It's early Saturday morning; and I'm awake, but I shouldn't be. Why? Well, let's flashback about twelve hours to when our hero (that's me) arrived at the home of his friend and co-worker, Corey. I picked up him, Johnny, and Stan and we headed to dinner at a place in Aviano called Casa ad Ovest (Western House). Everything was fine until a lady at the next table began having a seizure. The people with her were taking care of her, so there wasn't really anything we could do. Still, we just kinda sat there in silence and hoped it would end quickly. But while this was going on, Corey was watching the television in the corner and totally chowing on his appetisers. The whole restaurant was completely quiet until Corey says, "You guys should try these poppers! They're fucking great!" Johnny, Stan, and I glare at him, but he still has no clue what's going on. He then sees the next table, but still unaware of the situation, belts out, "What are they, prayin'?" The lady was fine, but I'm surprised we weren't asked to leave.
After dinner, we went to a nearby bar where we met up with Joann, who accompanied us to another bar in Pordenone called Uagamamas. (I have no clue what that means.) Our purpose for going there was to see a band featuring a bassist that Joann is kinda dating. We arrived at 11:30, just as the band was starting. We enjoyed their hour-long set of covers, and after that, a DJ came out and began playing hip-hop. The club was getting crowded, so we decided to stick around and dance for a while.
Though I don't remember specifically agreeing to the arrangement, I somehow ended up being the designated driver. This was fine with me, but it was getting pretty late, so to stay awake, I started drinking Red Bulls (at a whopping 5 Euro each!). I was trying really hard to have fun, but the music was so loud, conversation wasn't possible. I was out of my element; I didn't know many people; and I was sober. I really wanted to leave, but I didn't want to spoil anyone else's fun. Finally, around 3 AM, a very drunk Johnny dragged me out on the dance floor, which made things a little more enjoyable. We didn't leave the club until after 4, and after dropping everyone off at their respective homes, I got into bed around 5.
I don't know why I woke up after only 2 1/2 hours of sleep, but I bet it has something to do with all that Red Bull in my system.
On the way home last night, Corey kept promising me next time we go out, someone else will drive. He tried to explain that it's his duty to drink because nobody else ever seems to have fun unless he's drunk, which probably made sense in his very inebriated mindset. I might just be going through a phase, but I think I'm done with the club scene for a while. I haven't been going out (or drinking) very much since I got to Italy, which is a stark contrast to my last two years in Utah. If they ever need a designated driver, I'm happy to help out; but if last night is any indication, my nights of going out to clubs will be few and far between.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Swimming Through The Air

After living in the desert-like climate of Utah for three years, I'd forgotten how oppressive humidity can be. It's not even July yet, and it's like I never stop sweating. At home, I'm trying not avoid things that generate unnecessary heat like using the oven or walking. Luckily, my house stays relatively cool, especially downstairs. Electricity is pretty expensive, so I didn't turn on my air conditioning until two days ago, and even now, only at night. It sure makes sleeping much more pleasant.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Caught Off Guard

My Italian mid-term is Friday, and it's hard to believe the class is already half-over. But I'm not worried about the exam. When I'm in class, I think I do pretty good speaking and interpreting Italian. I never have to ask the professor to repeat himself, and he rarely has to ask the same of me. But when I'm talking to an Italian outside of class, I get all flustered and things don't come out right. The other day, I was talking to a contractor about a natural gas line. As he left, I tried to say, "Grazie mille," or "A thousand thanks," but it came out "Grazie mio," or "Thank you, me." I'm sure he knew what I meant, and most Italians appreciate it as long as you put forth an effort. I just don't want try to say, "Excuse me, but where is the train station?" and have it come out, "Excuse me, but was your sister's face rearranged with a pickaxe?"

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Impressive Instant

I just did probably the most spontaneous thing I've ever done. I've been having trouble getting tickets to the Madonna show in Rome. They've been on sale for nearly a month, so I wasn't even expecting to get good seats. I just want to be at the show. So, I was surfing around, when suddenly, I found myself on the page to buy VIP tickets to her show in Frankfurt. I clicked "Purchase Package" and, like a blur, it was all over.
It wasn't cheap, but how many Americans get to see Madonna in Frankfurt? AND in the VIP section which includes pre- and post-show parties, free drinks, souvenirs, and tons of other stuff. The show isn't until September which gives me plenty of time to plan. I know a few people stationed up there, and I'm sure they won't mind if I crash. But they might mind if I crash while constantly singing Madonna songs.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Science Of Sleep

Sleep is like some weird drug that everyone needs, but if I overdose just a little bit, it's like I can't get enough. Last weekend, I didn't have much going on, so I was in bed pretty early Friday night, and slept late Saturday morning. I took two naps Saturday afternoon, followed by 9 hours of sleep Saturday night, and another nap Sunday afternoon. Getting up at 5 this morning wasn't easy.
Normally, I'm a 6 1/2-hour-a-night kinda guy. If I get eight hours, I tend to get sleepy in the afternoon, especially if I have a big lunch. My biggest problem is insomnia, which comes and goes unexpectedly. Even if I've had a busy day and had a good workout, I still have trouble sleeping sometimes. I find the best remedy is reading, so I keep a few books beside my bed.
I enjoy sleep, but I kinda wish we were wired to not need it. Even as I'm dozing off, I feel there are so many other things I'd rather be doing. I guess that's why meth appeals to so many people. Sorry, but I think I'll stick with sleep.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A City On A Hill Cannot Be Hidden

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Yesterday afternoon, I took a short drive up to a small town called Mezzomonte. Literally translated, it means "half mountain," which is appropriate because it's located about halfway up the mountain. It was a short, 15-minute drive up a narrow road full of switch-backs.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
The town is built on a natural cliff; and when I got there, I saw it wasn't much wider than the road that led up to it. I was hoping to take lots of pictures of Budoia and Aviano from above, but all the buildings were so close together, I couldn't find a good spot.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Still, it was a neat little town, and I found a restaurant with a beautiful view that might be cool to check out sometime.
Whenever a weekend comes along with no major plans, I'm going to take little road trips and try to find neat towns and cool people. Who knows what I'll find?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lil' Green Patch

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
This is the little park across the street from my house. It's tiny--maybe a half acre--and has only a slide, a swing, and a couple picnic tables. There's a little monument in the middle, and this morning when I was taking some stuff to the recycle bin, I stopped to try and read it. I might have been able to make out the Italian if it hadn't been so horribly eroded. I deciphered a date (1945) and a name (Capitan Maso), so I'm assuming it's a World War II memorial to the guy after whom my street is named.
We're finally getting some nice weather, so last night, I mowed my lawn and trimmed my hedge; and this morning, I washed my truck. Now, I think I'm going to head back up to the park and swing for a while.

On Target

I shot M9 yesterday. Our primary weapon is the M-16, but I guess someone signed me up as a weapons custodian, requiring 9mm qualification. As with the M-16, I'm really good at taking it apart and stuff; but I'm a little better at shooting the M9. We shot 45 rounds, and I made 42 onto the silhouette. (Not bad, huh?) However, to get expert, we had to hit so many inside the centre mass circle, which I didn't. Still, I'm pretty proud of my qualification. I thought about asking the instructor if I could be all gangsta and hold the gun sideways, but I bet he's heard that a million times before.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Skin Deep

I had my follow-up appointment with the dermatologist yesterday. He had the results from last month's biopsy, and he tried to explain it to me. The only thing I got out of it was "psoriasis." He said it's benign, but could come and go and any time. He didn't know where it came from, but he still believes it's stress-related. He noted how the colour had changed from a red to brown, and said that means it's healing. But really, I could have told you that. The rash is barely visible anymore, and nobody even notices it unless I point it out. The only obvious thing left on my arm is the scar from the biopsy. He wants one more visit in October because he says psoriasis has the tendency to flare up in the fall, for some reason. I guess we'll see.


Have I mentioned that the Shoppette here doesn't carry Makers Mark? I'm very close to writing a stongly-worded letter to whomever orders liquor and tell them just how important that stuff is to me. The only bourbon they carry is Woodford Reserve, which isn't bad; but the taste of Makers is what takes me back to those Friday-night parties at Brian's that I barely remember because I was so liquored up. Ah, the hazy memories.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I've made a huge mistake - Mad Props #8

Yesterday's post was originally going to segue into today's, but it ended up becoming too long. So, I'll just use it as a reference to sing the praises of Arrested Development. As I mentioned, I didn't have access to American television while in Japan, but often read about programs that generated a lot of buzz. Most of them (i.e. Desperate Housewives, Lost, Grey's Anatomy) didn't really appeal to me anyway. I mean, do we really need another hospital drama? By the time I got to the States, Arrested Development was in its third and final season, despite critical praise and a loyal, albeit small, fanbase. I never watched an episode and figured I probably wasn't missing much anyway.
In September '07, I met Jeff at the LCD Soundsystem/Arcade Fire show. Jeff was an avid fan who sang the praises of AD almost ad nauseum. His sense of humour was very similar to mine, but still, I resisted. Then, when Jay came to visit in January, we were relaxing after a long day of boarding, and he suggested we rent some movies. I picked "Once" and he picked AD, Season 1 Disc 2. (Disc 1 was out.) We ended up watching all eight episodes in a row, and laughed the whole time.
After I got to Italy, I saw Shaun had purchased the first season at the BX for $30. After some research, I bought all three seasons from for only $45. (I'm such a bargain hunter.) Since I was off yesterday, I had the opportunity to finally finish the last two episodes of the entire series; and I am very pleased.
If you haven't seen it, it's a very fast-paced show, with inventive characters and witty dialogue. It's shot with a documentary feel, which includes reel footage and photographic footnotes. There are tons of non sequitors, double meanings, and even some post-modern ideas floating around. There were several times in each episode I'd have to pause my DVD player, either from laughing so hard, or to go back and catch side comments or a visual gag in the background.
The story is built around the Bluths, a wealthy real-estate family whose patriarch is arrested for financial schemes in the first episode. It's up to his son, Michael, to keep everything together. The other family members have very few redeeming qualities, and it's interesting to see Michael wrestle with them and still try to maintain a good relationship with his own son, George Michael. Constant foils include his older brother, Gob (pronounced Job), his twin sister Lindsay, and his mother Lucille. Each episode is narrated by Ron Howard, who throws in background information from a third-person perspective.
It really is a shame it got cancelled, as I'm sure there could have been so much more to the story. The final episode gave things an appropriately hilarious ending, and luckily, there's talk of a feature film in the next couple of years. Along with Six Feet Under and The Simpsons (which is still in the midst of being released), this is one of the few television series I'm happy to own. So, Mad Props to Arrested Development. I think I'll go start again from Season 1.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Boob Tube

When I was growing up, I guess I watched an average amount of television for an American boy. Transformers and G.I. Joe after school. Sitcoms after dinner, if we didn't have church or karate or piano lessons. (The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers, and Night Court was the best Thursday night line-up EVER!) But after I left for college, my television habits severely decreased. I'd catch shows sporadically, but never connected with characters or followed story arcs. We had cable at our apartment in Vegas, but we usually just watched reruns of Seinfeld or The Simpsons. Plus, while in Vegas, I started to get more into film, so by the time I got to Japan, I only watched DVDs on my television. At our place in Utah, we had cable somewhat against my will, but I didn't argue, since my roommate spent 98% of his time on the couch watching police chases caught on tape. (The other 2% was spent making Tuna Helper.) I mean, who was I to deprive him of his daily dose of poorly filmed (yet, oh, so dramatically narrated) reality videos? My situation here in Italy is similar to that of Japan. I have my television set up in the corner, easily visible, but still out of the way. (I always thought it was sad when I went into someone's home and all the furniture was centred around the television.) There's a satellite dish on my house, and I have access to an AFN decoder, allowing me to watch regular American shows, but I doubt I'll ever pick it up. I'm pretty content to watch random movies from my collection, and if a certain television show should happen to peak my curiosity, adding it to my Netflix queue is quick, easy, and better than waiting a week between episodes.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bleach Bath

So remember how I said I did some maintenance on some chlorine injectors yesterday? When I put on my uniform this morning, I noticed tons of little discoloured spots all over. Technically, this would classify my uniform as "unserviceable." However, I'll continue to wear it until a very high ranking individual says something. Those things aren't cheap, and until it falls off my body, I'll consider it serviceable.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

It took so much effort not to make an effort.

There are a couple guys in my shop that have developed reputations as, and I'm being generous here, slackers. They have to be told exactly what to do, they can't make decisions, and they'll do anything to get out of work.
My main motivation at work is basically to avoid looking like these guys. I don't like working with them, because when we do a job, they're always dragging their feet, and I feel I'd get more done by myself. I pride myself on being low-maintenance, and I don't like drawing attention to myself. I'm best at jobs where I know what needs to be done, and I can be left alone to do it in peace.
Since I'm working this weekend, I've made it a goal to try to finish a few odd jobs around the shop. I've already taken care of some chlorine injectors this morning, and I think I'm going to organise some tools this afternoon. I don't know if anyone will appreciate or even realise what I've done when they come in on Monday, but I don't care. At least I'll feel like I've accomplished something.

Wishing Well

I'm feeling much better today. I took my temperature before bed last night, and it was 103. I woke up in the middle of the night and had to change t-shirts because the one I had on was soaked with sweat. Luckily, this morning, my fever had broken, and after a shower and a light breakfast, I was ready to go.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sabato & Domenica

It's been raining here a lot lately, making things humid and hazy. But after some rain this morning, things cleared up and cooled off. There was a breathtaking view of the mountains with the sun setting behind them, and the air felt so fresh. The only downside is that I'm working all weekend. When working weekends, there's a lot of downtime between rounds, so I'll probably take some books to work, my computer, and of course, my Italian lessons. It's a 12-hour shift that goes by rather slow.
On top of that, I'm kinda sick. Not throwing-up sick, but a little feverish, alternating between chills and hot flashes, with a slight cough. I just got home, so I'm going to hop in the shower, take some 800 mg horse-size pills of Motrin, and try to get a good night's rest. Take that, illness!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sono Americano

Monday was my first day of Italian class, and it was pretty fun. The instructor is this old, Italian guy who kinda resembles Yogi Berra. We went over pronunciation and some basic greetings. It's a full class, and there's lots of repetition, which is rather time consuming. (Imagine 30 people saying their names and asking each other what day it is, over and over.) The instructor tries to speak as little English as possible, and if someone has difficulty, he'll just repeat the phrase slower and louder until they get it right. It's going to be six weeks of cramming, but I'm really looking forward to it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Stitch In Time

I went to the hospital on base to get my stitches taken out yesterday afternoon, which is done on a walk-in basis here. I was called back by an A1C Med Tech who examined my stitches for a few minutes, and then said, "I'll be right back." She came back a few minutes later, examined some more, tugged on them a bit, and said, "I've never seen anything like this before. Who did these?" I told her the Italian dermatologist did them, and she looked closer at them and said, "I need to go get my supervisor." Her supervisor came back and basically did the same thing--lots of examining and some tugging.
After several minutes of this, they both left. I sat in the examination room for a while, and eventually a nurse came in. She took a quick look at my arm, explained the procedure to both med techs, and had the stitches out in a few seconds. It looks like there's going to be a small scar, but I don't really care. Maybe I can make up some kind of war story to accompany it.
But the best part of all this was that I got a Snoopy band-aid. Totally made the guys in my shop jealous.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Shifting Shifts

I'm working swing shift this week, which is a pretty easy shift to work. The only bad part about it is being on stand-by. And having to work the weekend.
It's really convenient for me this week because I also start class today. Class is from 11 to 12:20, and I have to be at work at 1. I'm getting ready to leave so I can get a quick run in before class, which should get my brain moving, as well. It's been a long time since I've been in a classroom environment. I hope I haven't forgotten how to take notes or scratch my fingernails on the chalkboard or shoot spitwads.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Which way did he go?

I was at Cody's house Friday night for movies, and didn't leave until 2 AM. I've only been to Cody's a couple times, and when I left, I decided to see if the GPS knew a better way to get home than I knew.
Everything started off fine, but soon, things started to look very unfamiliar. Still, I had faith that the GPS wouldn't steer me wrong. I should have known something was wrong when the paved road turned into a gravel road. A half mile later, I was on a muddy trail in the middle of a cornfield. What surprised me was that this little dirt path, barely wide enough for my truck, was a valid road on the GPS.
My biggest worry was that, after all the rain we've had lately, I'd get hung up in the mud. My second biggest fear was that a farmer was going to come out with a shotgun if I didn't get out of his cornfield.
I followed ever so faithfully, but vowed that if I got back onto a real road, the GPS was getting turned off. Thankfully, the dirt road upgraded to gravel. (Isn't it sad when you're grateful to be back on a gravel road?) By the time I got back on pavement, I was in the middle of some kind of industrial area. I used the lights on the mountain to get my bearings, and tried to follow major roads until I got back to an area I with which I was familiar. I left the GPS on, but heard the word "recalculating" more than I care to ever again. I'll still use it for big trips, but when driving in the local area, I think I'll stick to my instincts.

Pre-Beach Break Bash

Shaun leaves tomorrow to lead a three-week youth camp at the beach on the Italian Riviera. (Tough job, huh?) So, last night, I made dinner and had people over. I didn't entertain much when I lived in Utah, and last night reminded me a lot of when I used to have parties at my house in Japan.

Cody, Alec, & Shaun
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
After dinner, we started tossing around the frisbee outside, which evolved into a game we dubbed "Death Frisbee." Basically, we stood in a circle and tried to hit each other with any of three frisbees. Yeah, it sounds juvenile, but it was also really fun (except for that time where I got hit in the face...and the other time I got hit in the face). You wouldn't think avoiding a frisbee would be too difficult, but when there are three flying around at any given time, it's harder than it sounds. Plus, Nate really knew how to put some speed on it. This is what the rest of us will be doing while Shaun lays on the beach. Who's jealous now? Um...still us.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Wendt Wedding

Tanya & Caleb
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I took this picture about a year ago, on a Sunday afternoon, at a coffee house where Caleb and Tanya told me they'd just gotten engaged. Today, they're getting married, and I seriously can't think of any two people better suited for each other. Both so kind, fun-loving, and genuine. I wish I could be there to celebrate with them. Congratulations and best wishes!

Closet Cramming

Yesterday, I came home from work, sat on my couch, and checked my e-mail. After I closed my computer, I leaned back and closed my eyes. The next thing I knew, it was three hours later. Have you ever been so emotionally exhausted that it makes you physically tired, too?
It seems nearly every week at work is more stressful than the last. I try not to let it get to me, but it's not easy when it takes up so much of my day.
Anyway, due to my three-hour nap yesterday, I was stricken with a severe bout of insomnia last night. In the States, when I was bored, I'd go to a movie or shopping; but everything in Italy closes at 7. So what's the next best thing? Online shopping! In my defence, I did buy a few necessities, like new running shoes. But the bulk of it was stuff I don't really need. This is why I should never let myself nap after work.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Add To Cart

One of the many peculiar things about being stationed overseas is how the BX and Commissary are more than just places to shop. They are a social hub. Any given base operates much like a small community, and since everyone in the community needs groceries, you have a pretty good chance of running in to someone you know or recognise there. At Aviano, the BX, Commissary, movie theatre, and post office all share a parking lot, and it's always abuzz with activity.
Equally peculiar is how I rarely shopped at the BX or Commissary when I was stateside. About the only things I bought on base in Utah were gasoline and booze.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

My Friends All Drive Porsches, I Must Make Amends

Today, I finally submitted my package for reimbursement of shipping costs for my truck. I've spent the past several weeks filling out forms, tracking down paperwork, and running around to various offices like a headless chicken, retelling my story to a new person each time. And even still, there's no guarantee the main finance office will accept it; however, the guy at the local finance office says it looks like a solid package, and he can see no reason why they wouldn't. I'm crossing my fingers, but not holding my breath.
In other automotive news, my truck is about overdue for an oil change. I can do it myself, but the problem is that nobody around here (on or off base) carries the oil filter I need. And nobody online ships to APO boxes. So, the other day, I went by the auto skills centre on base and asked for a quote to order one. The guy advised me to order several, along with any other parts I might need for minor maintenance. Today, I found out that ordering four oil filters and two air filters will cost me $80. I guess this is why we get a cost-of-living allowance.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

This is the way the world ends...

Since it was a nice, mellow (three-day) weekend, I decided to catch up on some of my Netflix movies that have been gathering dust on my shelf. One of these was Southland Tales, the second feature from writer/director Richard Kelly. His first was the cult hit Donnie Darko, which was totally brilliant. Southland Tales had a lot of expectations to live up to, and with a cast featuring nearly every B-list actor in Hollywood, how could it go wrong?
Things start off interesting enough, with America paranoid in the wake of a nuclear attack in Texas. The Patriot Act has been extended and strengthened. And we're at war with several countries in the Mid-East. The main story revolves around Dwayne Johnson (a famous actor married to the daughter of the Republican vice-presidential candidate), Seann William Scott (an LA cop and his twin brother), and Sarah Michelle Gellar (a clueless, but well-intentioned, porn star). Let me just say that these three people are probably my least favourite actors on the planet. What's surprising is how well they all do. Equally surprising is how many comedic actors turn up in dramatically violent roles. SNL alumni Cheri Oteri and Amy Poehler play feminist members of an underground left-wing extremist group. Arguably, the best of the ensemble cast is Justin Timberlake, an Iraq war veteran who narrates and quotes Revelation from an off-shore gun turret.
The first two-thirds of the film sets up a plot full of double agents, mistaken identities, people with amnesia who may not even exist, and a perpetual motion machine. It's equal parts sci-fi epic, black comedy, and musical satire. But that's probably it's downfall, too. Mr. Kelly wears his politics on his sleeve, and tries to do too much. The third act buckles under its own weight, and you're left wondering what really happened, if anything at all. Oddly enough, this is how I feel about Donnie Darko, but even that didn't seem to be as much of a mess as this film.
I don't normally review films, even if I absolutely love them, but I just can't shake this one. I have no problem recommending it if you're feeling adventurous. Just remember that there are just as many parts to hate as there are to love (probably more). The pinnacle is a musical number featuring Justin Timberlake in an arcade lip-synching to "All These Things That I've Done" by The Killers. It's poignant and glorious and nearly brought a tear to my eye. (Yes, you can see this scene on YouTube, but please, watch it in the context of the entire film. It's better that way.) This film was met with very mixed reviews, which sometimes accompany better films than ones that are unanimously positive. True, it's a mess, but an ambitous and passionate one.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Flanders To My Homer

My neighbour-who-shall-remain-nameless has a strange way of going about things. He makes offhand comments like, "Hey, man, if you want to get rid of that crab grass, I have a sprayer, " or, "I know a great place that sells curtain rods." These comments come out of nowhere, so it's like he's trying to tell me what to do with my house, but by making friendly suggestions, as to not sound so insensitive. Maybe he's sincerely trying to help, but his demeanour suggests otherwise. I can't help but cringe every time he rings my doorbell, which is pretty often.
Earlier this week, he came over and asked if I'd be down for a neighbourhood cookout to get to know all the Americans that live around us. I agreed, but immediately began trying to think of ways to get out of it. The cookout was last night, and it turned out to be not so bad, after all. I met a couple other families in the area and developed a better rapport with the ones I already knew. I think I'll be able to handle my neighbour a little better, and it's a good thing because now he wants to do these cookouts every month.
As an added bonus, another neighbour from across the street now refers to me as "Naked Guy" because apparently, I got out of the shower one night with my window wide open. If he would have asked me to be a little more careful in the future, that would have been fine; but he dwelled on it for a really long time. So long that it sucked the humour out of the situation and everyone started to feel kinda awkward every time he brought it up. Perhaps he enjoyed my "floppiness" (his description) more than he wanted to admit.