Saturday, December 29, 2007

FLASHBACK SPECIAL: Run Forrest, Run!

A&E is playing a the movie "Forrest Gump" right now...got me thinking how many times I, like Forrest, just up and ran, sometimes for no reason at all.

Early Spring 1972

One afternoon, for no reason at all, I decided that I didn't want to live with my family anymore. As the sun set, I looked up to the darkening sky and decided to head to New York. Not really knowing which way New York was I headed at least to the nearest border of town; east, to Cumberland.

It probably took me about an hour or so to get to Walnut Hill Plaza. I was just passing the newly built McDonald's and could smell the hamburgers. I sure was hungry. I forgot to bring any money though, so I couldn't buy any.

The police spotted me there, a lone boy walking steadily east on Diamond Hill Road.

Back home, my mother was busily hugging me and thanking the cops for finding me. She wailed and fawned wondering why I would run away. I later was sent to a shrink to try and find out why I wasn't happy. To this day, I still don't know what set me off.

I was 7 years old.

Early Spring 1977

I posted about this one in a FLASHBACK about a year ago.

I talked my friend Michael Drolet into running away. Again, I think New York was the supposed destination. Again, absolutely no preparations like money, clothes, plans for what we would do for a living or how we would get there. It just goes to show that somehow I was able to inspire someone else to my way of thinking, without actually thinking.

We were found by the Lincoln police sleeping in an abandoned car in the parking lot of Lincoln Mall.

Late Summer 1982

After the Bradford Street apartment fell through and I had to move back in with my family, I started feeling the wanderlust bug again.

Since Larry P. had fucked up my car and I sold it back to Paul D. I had been relying on a 10-speed Huffy for transportation. I quickly grew to like bike riding and got pretty fit developing quite muscular legs.

I got the idea that I would ride my bike across the country to California. I drew out my likely route across the southern US to avoid the coldest of the upcoming weather. I wrote out a letter of resignation for Howard Johnson's. I wrote notes for family and friends explaining my intent to bike to California. This time, I actually saved up some money (maybe a couple hundred) and got a backpack. I checked out prices for collapsible portable pup tents and a sleeping bag.

This time round, though, I didn't go through with it.

Late Fall 1990

After the dismissal from Amego, but before the onset of Black Winter, I was seeking a new direction. I went to a job fair at a hotel in Warwick for a company which held the concession for tourist hotels and restaurants at Grand Canyon National Park. The jobs were minimum wage positions like housekeeping and line cooks. If hired, they would provide room and board at the park, but you'd have to provide your own transport there.

I filled out the application and went through the interview. A week later I got the letter saying that I was hired.

But I knew I had to return the Cavalier and the Escort would never had made it to Arizona. So, again I didn't go through with it.

April 1997

I usually tell people that the reason I moved to Florida was the weather. I say that I was scraping ice off the windshield of my car in April and decided that I needed to move someplace where the weather was nice year-round.

That's true, but there were deeper reasons.

Though I grew comfortable with my job, I realized I was slowly burning out from boredom. I'd go in at 11pm, get through Kardex, quick check on the residents and then watch TV till about 2am. Made my 2 o'clock call in and then sleep on Donald's couch till the 5am call. (These calls were set up as a safety protocol, but really they were supposed to be a way to make sure staff didn't sleep on the job. Yeah, right.) I'd sleep again till about 8 when I'd get up, give out morning meds and watch TV until the next shift came in at 9.

Same routine, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. 3 ten hour shifts each week, and that was my career. Total slacker dream job.

I counted as full-time even though it was only 30 hours a week, so I got benefits. And being in the human services field, they were great benefits at that. But I made only $8.25 an hour. A little more than $200 a week take home. Until January of this year I was paying rent at $500 a month, and my car payment at $144 a month; that left very little for everything else. At least now rooming with Chiafalo I paid only about $300 a month.

So I needed to make more money, and I knew there was no chance of advancement at that job. Been there twice, and demoted twice. Once by choice, once not so voluntarily.

I also was hankerin' for a job which interested me and kept me somewhat challenged. Not too much, mind you, but something to keep the blood running.

But also, though I was in good standing with my employer, I knew it could come crashing down.

Though I found out that even a month after my license was suspended as a result of my DUI in Florida, the RI DMV knew nothing of it. I was still legal to drive in Rhode Island. (This was before the widespread ubiquity of the internet; I'm sure today, a suspension in one state is instantly conveyed to all the others instantly)

But I knew it would be just a matter of time. And my job required a valid driver's license. And I felt that even once the suspension was over in 6 months, a DUI on your record wouldn't go over well. A clean driving record was also mandatory.

And living in Providence while working in Woonsocket, a 20 mile commute each way, I couldn't do it without being able to drive.

Florida, meanwhile, allowed a suspended driver to get a hardship license. RI had no such animal. If you had a suspended license, you couldn't drive until your suspension was over.

So for the love of the freedom to drive, I moved to Florida. Nice weather, better scenery, better job prospects, lower cost of living, theme parks and beaches...that was all secondary.

I planned well for this one. I contacted the DialAmerica branch in Orlando and got a job like that. Then I scouted apartments on the internet and found what looked to be pretty nice for a good price. I cashed in my 503b plan (non-profit employer equivalent to a 401k) for about $4000. Paid off my $2000 balance on my Capital One card and put the rest in my checking account ready to transfer to a Florida bank once I moved.

I packed up as much of my shit as humanly possible into my Geo Metro hatchback, which meant I had a lot of stuff left over. I gave it all to Chiafalo.

I drove 12 hours, stayed overnight at a motel in North Carolina, and in the morning drove on another 12 hours to Orlando. When I got to the apartment complex, I nearly had a panic attack. It didn't look like the lush, luxurious resort style living like I saw in the website pictures.

In reality, the place was not that bad. But it definitely was in a low income area of town. And to my eyes, having grown up in a 98% white New England town, the neighborhood certainly had a strong minority flavor.

I ended up settling in fairly quickly. Except I got too accustomed to living off my savings and credit card and showed up for my hated telemarketing job very infrequently.

Which eventually led to...

January 1998

Though I broke my lease at the apartment complex and rented a room in a 3 bedroom condo with 2 gay guys in Altamonte to save money, I was still having problems making ends meet and finding a quality job. I was still struggling with low paying telemarketing that I took lots of time off from.

And after my breakup with Justin, I was in another funk.

So, I secretly (since I was skipping out on rent) packed up my stuff in my Metro again, and decided to go home. Back to Rhode Island.

I didn't give this decision a second thought, even though I wasn't sure where I would stay and had about $90 to my name. Not a second thought, that is, until I reached New London, Connecticut.

As I drove eastward on Route 95 through this eastern Connecticut city, it seemed suddenly as if I had just woken up from a dream. I looked around at all the grey dead trees as I sped along just east of the city limits, within 30 miles of the Rhode Island border. It suddenly dawned on me I had no money, nowhere to stay, no job, and it was still winter. I nearly freaked out thinking that I must be crazy. I call this moment and the subsequent experiences of the next couple weeks my New London Syndrome.

I showed up at Wayne's doorstep after finding his address in the phone book. I hadn't called or written him in about 2 years but we clicked like we had kept in touch all along right away. He said I could stay with him for a couple of weeks till I got on my feet. I looked in the papers over the next week or so for jobs but there seemed to be no prospects. I inquired about working at my original DM office in Warwick, but they contacted Orlando and found out I averaged about 14 hours a week; they had a mandatory 30 hour minimum. I knew I couldn't do that many hours so I declined.

I decided I would go back to Orlando after talking with Chris, a guy I met while I was volunteering at GLCS. After telling him my situation, he said I probably could stay with him in Metrowest for a while. I sold my computer to Wayne for $650 (double what it was worth) but I think he paid that much as an unspoken charitable gift to help me out.

By the middle of February, I was back in Orlando and back at DM again, but this time I saw real potential at a promotion so I started working pretty much my full schedule.

and finally the Koyaanisqatsi moves back and forth from Florida to New Orleans:

March 2003, to New Orleans

June 2003, back to Florida

August 2003, back to New Orleans

November 2003, back to Florida

August 2004, back to New Orleans

January 2005, back to Florida

Yeah, I know.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Fuckin' Christmas.

Notice I put a period at the end of the title phrase? Like, PERIOD, the end. How deep.

Anyway, here it is Christmas day, all alone in my one room "house", and I'm just about fixin' to eat me some leftover BBQ ribs and ramen noodle soup. Yum didilly-dum!

Ho-fuckin'-ho-ho!

Well, we sleep in the bed (or hideaway cot) we make, don't we?

Ric and I are no longer friends.

The straws have been braking the camel's back for sometime now and I've been ignoring the majority of them, but now the camel is just fucking dead, okay!

The beginning of the end probably actually stems back to 2002 when I fucked Gary and stupidly told Ric about it the next day. Worse, I kept messing with Gary whenever Gary came looking for my big cock, over the course of the next year or so.

Ric at the time was mildly upset with it, but he knew, deep down, that Gary was a whore and also, Gary really didn't love him. I think the "real" Ric knows (or at least suspects) it. I know it because you could tell and plus Gary more or less told me.

The truth is neither of us will now really ever know since Gary took that with him to the grave.

Ric's abuses aimed at me during the worse of Koyaanisqatsi were collectively another big load of straws that kept getting heaped on throughout the dark summers of 2003 and 2004.

My growing weight problem and declining fortunes through the years of Koyaanisqatsi coincided with his increased religious fervor and stabilizing economic status to literally create a Holier Than Thou asshole out of him.

His 3rd DUI and subsequent probation/abstinence made him much more tolerable for a while there and even living with him during this time was not unpleasant.

But almost as soon as he came off probation, his pent up demons resurfaced and I was the nearly sole target of his fury.

For the past 6 months or so, a weekend cannot go by without Ric drinking.

While he was on leave of absence from work because of his shoulder injury, he was at Jax almost every day.

A couple months ago we went to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal and since I was driving, I wasn't drinking. Ric on the other hand drank enough for the both of us. And dealing with Ric while you are sober and he is drunk is almost impossible.

Sure enough he was quite the jerk, insulting me and berating me every 5 minutes. Some other drunk sitting in the audience next to us at one of the shows was really punky and made mention of my size, calling me "A Big Motherfucker". He thought he was being all funny with maybe a hint of derision, but Ric was feeding into it and goading him on even though I gave clear facial hints to Ric (and the drunk stranger) that I was not appreciating their sense of "humor".

Ric went on to, I think, go out of his way that night in trying to humiliate me in front of other people. He does this often and I think it's because I am starting to look and act middle aged, whereas Ric wants to play the eternal 20-something, out hangin' with hot-looking, energetic, fun-loving party friends. He tries connecting with these types every time he's out. They accept him at first as a sort of oddity...an older dude acting like one of them. But then the content of what he says either doesn't make sense, isn't pertinent to their interests, or is just down right course and/or inflammatory and he is soon found shut out by them. In some cases, insulted and ridiculed. It's so sad. The only ones that let him stick around are because they are somewhat entertained by him since they too are fucked up, or, they like the fact he is buying all the drinks.

This motivation on his part to click with the younger, hotter crowd caused what may be the final straw to drop this past weekend.

We were at Jax, and since I have been eating right (except today's slop) and not drinking since my heart scare, I was taking it easy having only a few Mic Ultras and a fish sandwich. Ric was slamming them back though and after the football games were done, he wanted to keep the fun flowing. He, again, wanted to go to the Parliament House. But he wanted me to drive.

When I reminded him that I was drinking beers, he basically fluffed that off as a lame excuse.

Huh!? Has he not learned his lesson? I swear if it weren't for the fact that he had his license revoked for 10 years, he would probably be heading for his 4th DUI by now, so dense is he.

Drivers of Florida...watch out! He gets his ability to reclaim his license in 2016!

He then offered to pay for the room. I said no. He got pissed off at me and said, "I think I see some of my friends over there to hang out with..." and left me sitting at the table alone.

Since I don't have a key to his house anymore, I was forced to drive home. Thankfully I only had a total of 5 beers over the course of the 3 hours there so I wasn't drunk, but I hate driving with ANY beers in me at all.

I had not finished my laundry at his house and some were not yet put in the dryer. Ric called me at my house a half hour later and said he was taking the cab to P-House but first was going to drop off my clothes at my house...did I want to pay him some money for going out of his way?

I told him I would come over tomorrow to pick up my clothes, but he refused, he wanted them out tonite.

He came by 15 minutes later and handed me my laundry basket, filled half with already dried clothes that he wrinkled up in there and half with totally wet clothes. As he handed it over he said "Don't come by my house ever again...Nice meeting [knowing] you...", and stumbled off towards Phil (the cab driver) waiting in the car.

Stupid, huh? What made him so mad? I don't know. But, as the old line goes, frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.

Huh...he just called me while I was writing this post. He just says..."Merry Christmas", kinda flat and uncaring. I said, "Why are you calling me?", he says"Calling to wish you a Merry Christmas", again so not heartfelt.

I remind him,"I thought you weren't ever speaking to me again?"

"Well I can't hold any grudges on Christmas. I'm glad you didn't get a DUI driving home the other night", he says.

HE hold grudges? What the fuck did I do to have him holding a grudge. I'm the one rudely dumped, locked out of his house, having to drive home after drinking and getting a pile of wet clothes I'll have to re-wash for my troubles.

And then to mention that he was aware of the potential risk I was forced into?

I just said, "Well, Merry Christmas...goodbye.", and hung up.

Fuck him. I'm so ridding my self of his ass!

He better not be showing his lame butt 'round my doorstep ever again.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Be Careful What You Blog For

So this past Friday night/early Saturday morning, I have what appears to be the onset of a heart attack.

Just 48 hours after I post: "What If I Died Right Now?".

Here's the story...I'm still not quite over it and the incident and aftermath has me a bit loopy still:

After "enjoying" a 12 pack of Bud, a large Chicken Pot Pie and many handfuls of potato chips and cheese puffs, dipped lavishly in spinach dip, I pass out around 1:00 am early Saturday morning. Nothing new here.

I wake up an hour or so later in order to go to the bathroom to take a piss. I proceed to take the opportunity while positioned standing over the toilet to go ahead and puke much of the contents of my stomach; a viscous greenish-brown sludge of semi-digested Pot Pie, junk food and beer, laden with many strings of dessicated spinach. Yum. Again, unfortunately, nothing new here.

But around 4:15 am or so, I wake in a startle because I am out of breath. Sleep apnea symptoms...have them often. Only this time my heart is fluttering very rapidly and is in arrhythmia.

Probably due to a likely rush of adrenaline due to the palpitation, I am quite awake, and quite sober. Though not freaked out totally, I know it ain't good. I try to relax to let it regain it's proper rhythm. Not working. After only 10 minutes I decide I gotta get to the hospital. I decide to drive.

In the ER they put the EKG nodes on me and see I'm fibrulating. It's so funny, I'm totally conscious and not in any pain so I can see everything they are doing...when they see the cardiogram and it's erratic-ness and call out stuff like heartrate 170 (yea, I guess 170 beats per minute...yikes), I can see their faces turning grave and serious saying "let's get the doctor down here".

I was lying there, not really upset (probably because of the drugs they were now pumping into me to slow my heart rate) thinking: "I guess I'm having a heart attack.".

Within a half hour or so, my heart finally calms down and regains it's normal rhythm.

Turns out it wasn't a heart attack. Palpitations.

They admitted me and originally had scheduled me for tests to find out what caused it, but when the cardiologist offered to have the tests either done while I stayed in the hospital or as outpatient visits, I opted for the latter. Hate hospitals. And though most of the staff there were really nice, I was hankerin to get home after 2 days.

I told the cardiologist the full story of the events leading up to the incident, including the drinking. He laughed saying that he doesn't know how someone can have 12 beers in an evening (oh Man, could I tell him stories! How 'bout the 6 pitchers plus a few shots the night I got my second DUI?)

He told me that other than the very old (75 and over), usually these palpitation incidents happen only in college kids after a night of binge drinking. Bingo. Now we know where it came from.

But frankly, the hospital staff were also worried about the multiple other problems as well. They changed my blood pressure medications to include a more potent one and diagnosed me with full-blown diabetes.

I have follow up appointments with my regular doctor and the cardiologist.

I think I'm gonna start taking my health matters more seriously. I think I have no choice.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What If I Died Right Now?

Last night I watched Frontline, one of my favorite documentary/investigative report style shows. Each episode deals squarely with it's singular topic with such elegant depth and intelligence, staying entertaining, thought-provoking and pertinently-informative, all at the same time. A hard task. Especially the pertinently-informative part, which I describe as "not-dumbed-down" or ruined with time-filling "additives" like telling us commonly-known "well, duh!" information or repeating the same thing over and over (ala shows like "The Universe").

I gotta say, the episode was quite the tear-jerker. Not to be expected for this type of show.

It covered the rather under-explored world of the undertaker, and how the business of preparing for a person's funereal rites are conducted by a funeral home in a small Michigan town.

They focussed on the one funeral home business and how they carefully went about their business in a "hard-look" sorta way...we saw everything from the pre-death preparatory interviews to the collection and "beautification" of the body and the conducting of the burial or cremation. But it was done in a reverent, solemn and endearing way; not at all upsetting, really.

The tears came pouring out not for the elderly folks they showed going through the process...old age and death are so hand-in-hand, it's usually not going to elicit more than an "aww..." from even the most sensitive people, since they are not relatives or friends, just strangers on the TV.

But one "customer" (no, the show was not tasteless in ever even hinting at the term 'customer' for these people, that's just my own little phraseology there ;)) was a not yet even 3-year old baby. The show filmed interviews with the young parents and the sickly baby, complete with oxygen breathing tube, as the couple made arrangements for the baby's inevitable, and imminent, passing from a rare, incurable birth disorder.

You could feel the pain this family was going through. Hit you like a ton of bricks. Later in the show, (though while leading up to it I kept thinking...ok, this is PBS and it is after 9:00, but they can't really "go there"...or will they?) they "went there" and showed the now dead baby, embalmed and made-up, dressed in a tiny, little suit and tie, lying there in a little 3 foot long casket as his family and loved-ones grieved.

Thankfully, I had a box of Kleenex nearby.

Of course, there were the inevitable memories of 1998 and little 6-year old Tascha's funeral.

I have nothing but praise for the show. It's a not-oft discussed topic, but it is so much a part of all of our lives, no matter who we are or what we believe. It took guts for the producers to even suggest the topic, and summarily, no doubt would have immediately been shot down if it was commercial television.

Especially this season.

After all, are you gonna run a "Ho-Ho-Ho...Remember to spend lots of money with us!" cheery-jingle filled commercial for something like an electric carving knife, Chia Pet or the Weed Whacker, after a scene showing a real freakin' infant corpse?

It got me thinkin' though...what happens to me? What really occurs after I die?

Naturally, the answer is filled with all the usual spiritual and philosophical unknowns, but there are certain tangible facts that are the likely possibility based on hard, cold facts.

Based solely on the facts and circumstances of my personal life situation, right now, here's how it could likely play out:

What if I died right now?

This line of text and onward would never have been typed since I would have ceased the ability to concentrate on not only the physical act of my brain controlling the muscles in my hands, neck and eyes coordinated on typing at a computer, but the entire desire and motivation to put thoughts to words would have stopped as the thoughts of what to type would have evaporated.

My body, currently clothed in a pair of light blue boxer shorts, with a pair of wire-rimmed glasses propped on the bridge of my nose, nothing more, would slump forward from the weight of my head, and pushed from the back out by my butt in the chair.

The chair being wheeled, would push out away from the weight, somewhat forcefully as I am over 300 pounds, toward the open bed. My collapsing head and top-heavy upper body may have knocked over the flat panel monitor and toppled the keyboard off the keyboard tray, allowing it to dangle from it's cord, or, rapidly slam the keyboard tray on it's little rollers back in under the desk top. The 16 ounce size plastic cup to the left of the monitor would have been flung off the surface of the desk, spraying out it's contents: about 4 ounces of Pink Lemonade Crystal Light. Another lightweight desktop item, the cube-shaped box of Kleenex tissues (used just minutes before to dry tears while writing about dead babies) would have dropped off the desk to the right of my falling corpse.

So, here I lie, sprawled out in my underwear on the floor of my little house. The only sound: the quiet whisper of the tower fan on power setting #1, and the hum of the refrigerator. The occasional tweep of some crickets or peep or blurp of some other small creature from the shore of the nearby lake coming through the open window behind the computer desk. And the bi-hourly dreamy wailing of the train whistle passing through town.

So here I lie. It's 5:03 am. One minute after I wrote the line "What if I died right now" in the midst of my post above.

The silence of this scene would not significantly be broken until exactly 6:45 am. That's when the alarm clock would commence it's chiming, starting off with a barely audible "beep-beep-beep" and within a minute or two would be blaring out "BEEP-BEEP-BEEP" since no one would be pushing the STOP button. This sound would go on for quite a while (I actually don't know if it is indefinite...interesting side question...anyone know?).

Being a detached structure several feet away from the main house, it's not likely anyone in the main house would react, if they even heard it at all. It would just be a forgettable and faint beeping to them. There would likely be other factors that might alert someone sooner, or because it is in conjunction with the un-tended alarm clock blaring.

As the morning progressed on, say to about 9:00 or so, there might be a phone call placed to my house from Jill, my boss, since I'd now be unquestionably late for work without calling in. Something I've never done before. With this job:)

But there would not be a ringing telephone sound joining the monotonous symphony of the beeping alarm and humming fridge of my room since I have long ago turned the ringer option on the phone to OFF. (Pesky telemarketers.)

Jill would, of course, get no answer, and would shrug it off, figuring I may be tied up in traffic or something. She might get more concerned as the day progressed, but she may not take action on that. Though a "No Show" would be unusual for me, (again, at this job) it's a fairly now-and-then occurance when you are a call center manager, and it would be counter-productive to raise any major flags each time it happens. We'll go with the assumption she figured I was sick and forgot to call in and would speak to me about it when I came in Friday.

Even though it is December, it is, after all, Florida, so, with the A/C off and the window open, my little house would slowly rise in temperature as the day progressed. The forecast for today is sunny and in the low 80's.

It would probably not have any immediately noticeable biological effect on my body, but it sure doesn't impede any, shall we say, "reconditioning" chemical and biological processes from occurring.

Let's go there, shall we?

Though I didn't feel any "urges" to void either urine or feces at 5:03, it's reported often that the immediate relaxation of sphincter muscles and such during death would allow the release of, let's call it, "stuff". Since I was on Hydroclorot, a diuretic in conjunction with the Lisinopril for hypertension, my bladder is (or was) never completely bone dry, so there would likely be some leakage. What's more, the chemistry of the drug may be such that it could work to continue it's duretic effects even as the cells of my body are dying, moving the cellular water and saline through the system and out the urethra. Dunno.

But, the mass of my gut would, no doubt, be busy producing all manner of bubbles and gasses. Some trapped in the curves and contours of the intestinal tract, others escaping through any nearby orifice.

Bacterial decomposition would likely start churning up throughout this day, but any odoriferous emissions may not be strong enough for any scent to be noticed by any happenstance passerby. Today, that is.

Mike's old grey dog may start to get a little antsy towards the afternoon/evening.

She would have been hearing the alarm beeping all day long, and though she's pretty old and maybe a little poor sighted, her hearing may still be up to par. She's old enough to probably recognize the sound for what it is, a sound which humans usually shut soon after it goes off, and may realize it is not a threatening sound, like say a smoke alarm. (I'm giving the dog a lot of credit in the smarts department here) But she may start now to be both a bit irritated by the non-stop sound and/or smelling a bit o' stink, not much, but she's got a dog's nose.

The Martha Stewart pewter table lamp would have been on all day, unnoticed in the sunshine from anyone outside, but now as darkness fell, it would cast it's warm glow out through the thin slats of my closed California blinds. The monitor would have long ago put itself in screen dark sleep mode, adding nothing to the lighting of this quiet and tranquil (except for this dammed beeping alarm clock) diorama.

So still, here I lie...

9:00 am or so, Friday.

Here's were some action in all this could start. Jill should really start to be concerned now. But depending on her proceedure in these things, it may or may not be very productive.

The company has set guidelines for all sorts of things. Two consecutive "No Call, No Shows" are really bad. Cause for possible loss of job since they consider it Job Abandonment.

Though we went through our recent, and unpopular afore-mentioned downsizing, we members of the current team are pretty vital and expected to keep good attendance. Jill and I are (or were until my untimely recent demise) on pretty good terms, so she might take action to avoid me having 2 No Shows on my record. Or at least get down to the settling of her curiosity of why I am out.

What's more, she knows, as likely everyone in the office knows, I live alone and have health problems. She may get genuinely concerned for my well being.

We know that if she keeps calling the house phone, she's gonna get no answer. If she keeps fairly accurate records, she should have my emergency contact phone number, Ric's cell phone.

A call to Ric at this hour will result in it going to voicemail. Ric's doesn't even think of waking up for anything before noon or so.

She would leave a message.

Meanwhile, back at this house, the beeping alarm and maybe a now somewhat stronger whiff, very strong to the dog, may be somewhat noticed by either Mike or another of the mystery tenants next door. Action, though, is a strong step to take other than maybe knocking lightly on the door or trying to peep through the window. Both likely non-productive since, of course, no one would come to the door and I don't think, with the way the blinds are closed, anyone could see in. Mike is a quite "laissez-faire" sorta guy and he may not take the option to let himself in. Plus, he has told me on a couple of occasions that he doesn't hold a spare key to the house (...why not, he's the landlord, shouldn't he?).

So now it henches pretty much on what Ric will do when he listens to the voicemail message from Jill around noon.

Though Ric fully has experienced my flippant attitude towards past jobs, he knows I value this one, so he would think it would be odd to not show up or call in for 2 days. What's more, of any player so far, he knows my health issues pretty well.

At 2:00 pm Ric bikes to my house. It's timed so that if he finds out I'm just playing hooky and being reckless with my career, he can be on his way from there to his job.

He sees the car in the drive so he knows I'm here. He knows I don't walk anywhere anymore.

He hears the blaring alarm clock.

After knocking, then pounding on the door, he moves towards the side of the house with the open window. He calls in to me. No answer.

Does he smell anything? Or does he sense something?

Hesitation...what should he do? The signs are not good. He has to get in.

He knocks on Mike's door, and hears the dog barking away, but no answer...Mike is at work, as are any other occupants.

Ric goes back to my house and tries to push in the door. It's a pretty strurdy door with a good Schlage lock. Even as he slams his body into it (being cautious of his shoulder injury, of course) it's to no avail.

Back at the open window, he decides to pull off the screen, but the opening is small. His body won't be able to fit through there. But it doesn't need to, since his head and arms can get in.

He pulls up the blinds, and leans in.

There I am.

He yells to me hoping I'm just passed out drunk, or something, or anything, just not...what I am.

Dead.

Not having his cell phone since he doesn't carry it to work with him. Ric rides to either a neighbor's home or a couple blocks to the pay phone at 7-Eleven.

He dials 911.

Ric misses work this day, and has to deal with the paramedics and police. They take my body out on a wheeled stretcher, put me in the ambulance and drive me away.

Someone, at some point during this commotion, finally turns off the alarm clock.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

FLASHBACK: April 1981

Hail Nastralia!

The once mere pastime of imagining a fictional nation which was headed by me developed by this time into a full blown obsession.

As I look back on it now, the whole resurgence of this pre-pubescent fantasy may have been inspired subconsciously by the problems of my development of a mature sexual/proto-adult security due to the February experiences between John N. and I.

I, no doubt, wanted to regain the feeling of security I enjoyed before then. But I took it another step...rather than just security in this world, I created an impenetrable alternate universe where I ruled supreme and could not, ever, be harmed.

The original Nastralia was a democracy. I quickly created a "mot de guere" for Imperium and wrote about the evolution of the Nastralian Republic, "peacefully", into the Empire of Nastralia. (Shades of ancient Rome not ignored here.)


It was during this time I created the title "Riothamus". I found in old historical documents that this term was actually used in early Dark Age times to designate the King of England. Rio taken from the REX of Latin and Thamus for the river Thames.

Most of the tangible evidence of my obsession with Nastralia was created during this time. I would spend hours upon hours drawing maps and writing histories. Most of these were stored in a loose-leaf binder given to me by John C. many years earlier. The inside pockets of the Mead binder were decorated not only by my illustrations of the Nastralian crests and Flags of Nastralia, made of paper, and stuck on with Scotch tape, but, the Crest of John's impression of his Portuguese heritage was also there, as he had hand-drawn it back in circa 1975.

Because of loss of items through the years due to natural dis-interest or mis-placement, the book-binder and a crude map stored in it, or two, were the oldest physical artifacts of Nastralia.

These were tossed, consciously, into a dumpster in Casselberry in 2003, with all other documentation of this "realm", including every map, treaty, document and history made since...including this year, when much of it was made.

Why?

Koyaanisqatsi has not been kind to my past or to the repairation of who "I am". During the most severe months of Koyaanisqatsi, it seems, in retrospect, much like the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution. The Terror was not designed to be a destructive period...but it was thought to be necessary to destroy the "anciene regime" in order to reconstruct a new and superior society. Yes, the republicanism created as a result afforded the genesis for a better society, we now see, but did it have to come at such a cost? This is what now was to be asked about Nastralia.

My parents took note of my increased interest in drawing...though I doubt either of them took a keen interest in exactly "WHAT" I was drawing...I highly doubt that either one had ever laid eyes on any materials of Nastralia, For all it's importance in my life during this time, they never were aware. As in many things, they lived a separate life from me.

The notice of increased time spent drawing was awarded by a gift of a (what turned out to be) good quality adjustable drafting table. From 1981 on, I would use this table for 22 years. It was one of the most useful gifts ever given to me. It succumbed, as well, to the Koyaanisqatsi destruction of February 2003.

During these early 80's times, drawing these maps, and imagining the development of of world empire, I frequently thought..."Why am I wasting my time doing this...It will never amount to anything".

The answer was simple:

"It is not a story for public consumption. It is not to develop into a book or film. It is as an aid in psychological stability. A relatively innocuous stress relief device designed to quickly build up the spirits and exploit as a motivator in various new goals.

The concept worked, but perhaps not the way most would consider successfully.

It lent me to belief I was superior to most all new concepts. I stuck to my guns with almost all opinions, alienating old and new friends.

Feeling "alien" and unrelated to all of humanity, I alienated them, treating them as either temporary playthings or total waste products.

Fast forward a few years...and: Here I am.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hooked On Sims ...Again!

A while back, like 2 years ago, I posted about a ressurected interest in the PC game The Sims after I bought an expansion pack (Hot Date) and could do all sorts of new things...what's more, the game had built up a quite energetic fansite community and all sorts of new objects and skins were available for free download.

Back then, if you remember, I had just become reaquainted with my own internet connection again after the worst of Koyanisqatssi had taken it's toll and left me, literally, disconnected, for about 2 years, give or take a few malware infected (or should I say, infested) months in Spring of '04 at Cypress Springs (aka Ranchero de Cucaracha).

Well now it's the Sims 2, somewhat the same game but enhanced graphics and some cool aspects like characters aging and and eventually dying of natural causes. (good, because it always caused me a little pang of guilt whenever I had to murder a character I was tired of (ya, right)).

The game came with pre-installed neighborhoods, one featuring a couple of the pre-installed families from the first game like the Goths. In this game, the wife of Goth family patriarch Morimer has died "mysteriously" and her ghost is seen in some locations.

I've been spending lots of time with this neighborhood and here's what I got so far...

Mortimer lived in his smallish (compared to some of the doozies I've built) but nicely outfitted mansion with his grown adult daughter Cassandra and his young son Alexander.
Cassandra was set to get married to Lothario but somehow the wedding date kept getting pushed back.

The trellis and buffet set up for the big event in the Goth backyard instead was used by Mortimer when he accepted a proposal to Gina Caliente, the gold digging blond who lived down the street. Alexander then had a birthday and became a teenager.

Cassandra and her new step mom hated each other and got into a terrible fight.

A day or 2 later, Mortimer's life graph was very near the end and he was coughing more frequently. Feeling good enough to show off his Level 9 cooking skills though, he began preparing a nice pancake breakfast, but somehow Alexander entered the kitchen and distracted him. He really was totally showing signs of old age as he stood there looking at Alexander and the pancakes turned to brown, then black on the stove.

The fact that I then paused the game, went into Buy Mode and "accidentally" removed the doors to the kitchen without replacing them and re-entered Live Mode was not so good an action for the health of these 2 sims.

The fire first consumed Mortimer and after the Grim Reaper beamed him up to SimHeaven, I decided to spare young Alex and made him use a fire extinguisher to put out the remainder of the fire. But, likely due to the fact that he was just a young teen lacking skills, he failed to put out the fire and was soon fully engulfed in flames.

After their deaths, both Cassandra and Dina were a mess...Dina became a bit wacked and started playing pirate in the upstairs bathtub at every opportunity.

So sad.

Dina eventually moved back in with her sister and as a result gained only the default 20,000 simoleans rather than inheriting Mortimer's nearly one half million.

But with the 20 Gs, she did buy some new furnishings for her and Gina, and also a hot sports car!

Another wedding took place the day after the Goth ceremony, at John N.'s mansion. After much wooing, he finally married me. (As should have been in real life decades ago...Sim life corrects the Universe at last:)

But things between us have been a bit rocky. We got in a big fight a few Sim days ago and are slowly mending the rift. John is still a bit upset with me. I don't remember the reason but it might be when I went downtown and started flirting with Don Lothario (who may not be as straight as he seems...hello Cassandra?) and Jeremiah Gaylord the husband of Nathan who I had an affair with (including one night of YooHoo)...but I thought all of that was before I created and started going out with John. Oh no, now I remember, John and I had a pool party a few days after the wedding and I flirted with Jeremiah again, including attempting WooHoo in John and My bed! GASP! I'm such a whore. Serves me right for playing drunk (in real life) and making bad decisions. And John's the romance sim. I'm a knowledge sim.

Here's a rundown of a few more of the families in the game:

Jeremiah and Nathaniel Gaylord, a bi-racial gay married couple. They were one of the first I created. I moved them into the "doule-wide trailer style" house next to the pre-fab Broke family.

I'm playing both them and the Broke family without the motherlode cheat, so they have to make their money the old fashioned way...they have to earn it.

Ric is in there in a pretty fair replica of his condo. Remember a couple years ago when I posted the Sim screenshots of his (then our) house in the original game. Looks better now. I even included the whole pool area, jacussi, clubhouse on his property. His house and furnishings were created with just enough money from the motherlode cheat, but now he has to show off his fortune aspirations and make money in his business track career. Embarassingly, his character and mine have a crush on each other...GASP...how NOT like real life.

Aliscion and Albert are in the game. They also are being played as non-cheats. Their characters kinda look like them...so scary.

They live near the Pervy family.
Oh yes, how sick am I...

Uncle Tim Pervy aka Father Tim O'Flagellate somehow was able to adopt 3 young teenaged boys, despite the fact he is a registered sex offender arrested for diddlin' with his altar boys. Wonder how he will treat his smooth, virile young "sons"? How good of a "Daddy" can he be?
Oh, ya, I went there!

As an homage to one of my favorite TV shows as a kid in the 70's...The Brady family is here. Their house, at least on the inside, is a pretty good recreation (within the game's object and building option limitations) of the famous home. In mine though...there are plenty of bathrooms.

But not as many bathrooms as the Tudors. Having recently seen the movie Elizabeth: The Golden Age, I resurrected Queen Elizabeth the First, her hand maiden 'Beth and the man they vied for in the film, Sir Walter Raleigh. I threw in a court jester for good measure. The four of them, dressed in somewhat appropriate period costumes, live in splendor in a huge 4 story castle complete with a moat and English hedge maze.

Among the 45 rooms are a conservatory, ballroom, library, 3 kitchens, 2 formal dining halls, a throne room, a meeting hall, a chapel, a gambling hall, a pub, 6 bedrooms, several parlors and 14 bathrooms. No dungeon. This is a happy kingdom. (Besides, methinks Uncle Tim will build a dungeon in his perverted home)

Not quite as opulent as the Tudors' castle, I pain-stakingly recreated one of the most famous mansions in the world. The White House. But in my version, it's already after the 2008 election and the tenents are none other than President Hillary and First Gentleman Bill Clinton!

Oh what joy they feel being back in the saddle again!

I built only the main house, no West or East wings, and eliminated the ground floor so that it would be 2 floors. The first floor has acurate representations of the Blue Room, Red Room and Green Room, The State Dining Room and East Hall. The upper floor includes my rendition of the President's living quarters, the Queen's Bedroom (that's what it's called...not Hillary's bedroom), and the Lincoln Bedroom, complete with cash register. (No just kidding about the cash register, but, now that I think of it I could probably bring over a cash register object from Downtown...hmmm, that'd be hilarious).

Oh, since I didn't build the West Wing, I put the "Oval Office" on the second floor and placed TWO desks in there. ('Cause you know it will be like having 2 for the price of one!)

Remember Crocket and Tubbs from Miami Vice? They have a sweet 1980's minimalist-style pad in the Little Miami section of town. Complete with pink neon flamingos, all-white furniture living room, top-floor disco and, of course, a slick silver "Ferrari".

Another TV re-creation: The winning father/daughter "team" from this past summer's reality show "Big Brother 8", Evil Dick and his once-estranged daughter, Barbie-doll wannabe Jennifer. They have a cool rocker-pad just next door to the Caliente sisters.

Last of my own creations are the Collins, Barnabas and Elvira. They moved into the little one-room shack near the water tower after I moved in the pre-fab Oldie family and killed them off via starvation. The Collins have added more floor space, and a second-story loft. They get the occasional haunting from the ghosts of the Oldies, but they don't mind, they like the occult. After all, it should be pretty obvious that I am gearing for them to be bitten by the Vampire Lord or Lady to bring them into the Fold of the Undead.

Friday, October 26, 2007

FLASHBACK: March 1982

She came from Planet Claire...I knew she came from
there. She drove a Plymouth Satellite, a faster than
the speed of light....Planet Claire has pink air, all
the trees are red. No one ever dies there, no one has a
head...Some say she's from Mars, or one of the seven
stars that shine after 3:30 in the morning...WELL SHE
ISN'T!...She came from Planet Claire...She came from
Planet Claire...She came from Planet Claaaaire!

Planet Claire - The B-52's

My throat would be sore for a day, and my ears
ringing for yet another day more, but it was well
worth it.

We walked out to the fresh, brisk early springtime
night air and breathed deeply. We were young and in
our prime.

We were B-52 fanatics that had just attended their
3rd live concert in Providence.

The first was at the historic Ocean State Theater on
Weybossett Street. By the late 70's/early 80's, the
theater was in quite a state of disrepair, but was
trying to fund much needed restoration by becoming a
venue for bands playing to moderate-sized audiences.

That night I remember I was with Paul Douglas and his
friend Melanie? (forget her name...heavy set, kinda
reminded me a little of Lisa). (I think even Michael
P. was with us but not sure....Michael P. and gang
(Jerry Cote and Michelle) had definately gone
together right around this time to see Diana Ross,
though.)

I remember I wore one of my ultra-thin satin ties
around my neck, and another around my head. (Thin,
flashy headbands were the New Wave rage) I also wore
the genuine 50's mohair cardigan (perfect design for
the New Wave retro look...black and yellow
checkerboard. My hair was spiked with Tenex gel (for
a change I used Tenex as something other than anal
lube...LOL)

The second concert we attended (this time just Paul
D. and I) was at the long-since closed venue on North
Main Street. I don't remember the name of it, but it
wasn't a theater, it was more of an open space bar.

Here it was definately standing room only. They had
beer but being underage we couldn't have any (we
drank before going to the concert anyway though).

The 3rd, and last time I'd see the B-52's live until
seeing them at the Mardi Gras festivities at
Universal Studios sometime in the 2000's, was this
night, during their "Mesopotamia" tour, at the
Providence Civic Center.

I'm not sure if it was this concert or not, but
during one of them, I had bought a tour t-shirt in
the lobby on the way out and draped it over my right
sholder walking on the sidewalk towards our vehicle.

This bitch ran up from behind me, grabbed it off my
sholder and ran away...I ran after her and caught up
with her, but she had stuffed the t-shirt in her
blouse while running...I even saw her do it...so when
I caught up to her she started screaming that she
didn't take anything. What was I gonna do...reach
into her blouse and pull it out? There were some
burly-looking straight boys in the crowd itching to
defend some "pussy virtue".

More I think about it, I think this incident actually
happened a couple years later when I went with
Bouchard to a ZZ Top concert during their "Legs" tour.

Ya, Diana Ross, B-52's and ZZ Top...I had quite the
ecclectic music tastes in the 80's.

It was ZZ Top where my t-shirt was stolen, cause I
now remember wearing that Mesopotamia T-Shirt and
getting very pissed less than a year later when it
got ruined by moth holes. That's what you get for
having a basement bedroom.

One of the more memorable quotes from my mom came
outta her mouth during one of these B-52 evenings. I
was getting all done up for the concert and my my
said "Is that the band that plays that fag music?".

She wasn't trying to be out right derogertory, that's
what she called gay, and, until then, I really hadn't
seen it. At the time, I didn't really know why I
seemed to feel a kindred spirit with the B-52's but
now I see, they spoke to my budding "alternate" side.

My loose friendship with Paul D. was totally based on
our mutual affection for the band and their music,
but little did I know, at the time, that while I felt
certaing strange rumblings of lust for him, that he,
was in fact, also gay. Hell, in these early years, I
wasn't even sure if I was.

Another memorable comment, stated with such love and
devotion, I'm sure, was also on one of these
nights...

I had just gotten done with the ritual "spraying of
the cologne" (POLO RALPH LAUREN) and as I said my
goodnights on my way out she said with her nose all
a'wrinkled, "You smell like a French whore!"

Ah, mother....she could tell it like it was. :)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Who Says Florida Has Had No Hurricanes This Year?

We did in Heathrow.

Her name was Hurricane Sharon!

The new manager of Americas Customer Care finally came to visit us in Florida from her home locale in Springfield, Oregon.

Since her visit was timed with this corporate sponsored Customer Service Recognition Days event (pretty banners, websites, and free lunch for a week or so), and, since she hadn't visited us since she took over in September, I thought it was just a meet n' greet. No, it was a meet and make mincemeat! (Okay, not so good pun, you try writing this crap on the fly, buddy!)

With the opening of the Philippines site, and the fact that the calls generated by the Hamlet release were not as huge as expected, our mere existence as a team of 26-30 reps was in focus. And it didn't look too good. The last couple of weeks it has been dead. At times, 15 to 20 minutes between calls. Great for us since we had more time to do other things like socialize, screw off, surf the web, polish toenails (dammed cubicle-neighbor Jennifer and her noxious fumes!). But bad for the company, paying our US wages when all the work is being done by teen-aged Filipinos making $2 an hour.

Well, on Wednesday afternoon, after Sharon had been here but a day, Jill called us into a meeting saying how she was embarrassed that Sharon was noticing people away from their desks while not on break, chit-chatting and having fun, surfing the web, etc. (Yea, this Sharon is really old school call center rigid mentality...ala Convergys...Kemmy and Jill never wanted it to be that way) Jill said that Sharon could tell Jill that they had to let 10 people go and it would have to be done. That, if we didn't want to stay in our job, we could be replaced by a rep in the Philippines in a heartbeat.

It took only one day for it to happen. About 10 of the temps were called in to a meeting with Jill and Sharon. They were offered to stay on for 1 more week (till the 26th) but after that, their assignment would end. Some opted to take the release immediately.

Among the casualties, Jeff and Mike, the 2 gay guys just hired 3 weeks ago (stupid huh, I agree, but they thought we'd be swamped).

Erica, one of the long-time members of the team...she'd been with us since spring last year...almost an "Original" (speaking of which, I am the only remaining one who wasn't an OSG convert, of which all of them are either coordinators or management (except the elusive Lisette))

Jim, the fat older guy, himself with a plethora of health issues...he'd been hoping to go perm for the health insurance.

And many others. Like all disasters that rip through a community, the "survivors" can be seen trying to express sympathy for those lost, yet difficulty concealing their joy at having been spared.

The big question though: Is the hurricane season over, or are we fragile remaining few, yet in for "The Big One"?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Bitter, Party Of One!

Today, for some unknown reason, I "turned-the-tables" and became the epitome of the "irate customer"...the kind I hate to get in customer service.

I, and probably most CSRs hate this kind of customer, not because they scare us with their threats and rants, but because if they scream loud enough, they usually get what they want...even if it's not due them. That's so irritating.

This morning I called customer service at my credit union because I noticed they had assessed a $3.00 "maintenance fee" on my savings account.

I have been there over 2 years and never had a fee assessed before. Also, the fee put my savings portion of my account (called formally a "share" account) below the mandatory $5.00 minimum balance.

When I asked the African-American rep about this fee, she said it is charged to any savings account maintaining a balance of less than $50.00. At first I protested snottily saying this must be a new policy because I never have been charged it before...then, I remembered...over 2 months ago, I had transferred everything but $5.00 from savings to checking because the interest rate on the savings is so pitifully low, it made no sense to keep it there. Now I remembered why I had over $50 in there to begin with...I WAS told about the fee when I opened the account so I had always left at least $50 in there. When I brought it down to $5.00, I had totally forgot about the potential fee. So, because of my stupidity, the minuscule earnings I made over the past 2 years were wiped out, and then some, by one "fee". Way to go, Michael!

But the worst incident today was a couple hours ago.

I went back to Wal-Mart on Reinhardt to exchange my blood glucose meter since the battery it came with was dead and despite 5 visits to drug stores, and one "wrong model number" purchase, I was not able to find a replacement for this obscure lithium battery.

I have to admit, things built up in my mind to slowly elevate my temper, some warranted, others most definitely not...

Issue 1.
When I first came here I asked the pharmacy manager, Maneesh Patel, to check to see if my health insurance covered the cost of the meter and the strips.

He said it would take an hour to do the check. (Um, ok, that is fucked up I thought!) I said okay, and would he call me when he finds out. He said he could not call me, I would need to call in.

Begrudgingly, I took the pharmacy business card and said I'd call. After shopping, getting home, putting stuff away, yada yada...I forget to call. No big...I would find out when I pick it up the next day.

I go in the next day and the pharmacy aide handed me a bag containing my stuff. She said the total came to $60 something. Huh? I checked the receipt and supposedly my insurance covered nothing, so I had to pay full price, but also, even though I didn't order them, the bag contained a box of lancets at $16 dollars extra.

I wasn't planning on buying lancets since the meter comes with a small supply and since I am not sharing the meter or testing a gazillion times a day, I was planning on re-using lancets till they got dull (never say that to medical folks, they will wail and moan how you should change them after each single use...what a waste...just to increase the profits of the drug companies). It's just a tiny pin, for cryin' out load...swab it with alcohol after use and it lasts a long time...c'mon people, get real! I'm gonna give a blood borne pathogen to myself, or passive contamination from a "needle" that was only used by me and then cleaned to kill airborne viruses and bacteria?

I paid her but was kinda a punk that day too when she had it all packaged in a white paper pharmacy bag, stapled on the top with the pharmacy fact cards attached at the small crimp, and asked me if I wanted it put into a bag.

I knew what she meant...a plastic grocery bag to make it easier to carry since the crimp was so tight. I said..."Isn't it already in a bag?", smarmy and sarcastic, like as if she was slightly mentally retarded.

I can be such an ass.

Issue 2.
I had been growing concerned at work about the increasing outsourcing the company is doing, especially in customer care.

We have been maintaining our presence in India for a while now and have just this week deployed some 60 other reps in a call center in the Philippines. These reps will gladly work long hours and have few breaks and lunch periods. They are worked in traditional boiler room style call centers and watched with 2 way mirrors and pacing managers. They are kept to a tight script and given the most minimal of training. Whats more, they are a fiscally-conscious executives wet dream...they work for peanuts! $2.00/hour is what I recently heard.

On that salary scale, you could replace almost 20 of us American reps. They do the most horrible job too...but if you can find a few gems that are competent outta them, you can TRIPLE his/her salary and still make out like bandits...but only if you layoff the Americans. What does this have to do with the incident at Wal-Mart...you'll see.

Issue 3.
I didn't feel that great today, and having to wait in line at the pharmacy counter was grueling.

They are so slow there. What's more, the woman in front of me had a boyfriend? with her that reeked of cigarette smoke...he must have just come in from smoking. But, to make matters worse, some Latino family on the side of the line, waiting for something, I don't know what, had a toddler in a baby stroller thing...I guess you call it a stroller...I don't know about these odd things. Well, the little "cherub" (yeah, right!) was screaming up a cry-baby storm, and the adults weren't controlling it too well. But it was obvious why the "lil tyke" was crying...it's diaper was likely burstin' at the seams from the stink of it. Man, who knew little creatures could smell so bad!

I got to the counter and told the aide I needed to exchange the unit since it was defective. The pharmacy manager called me over to the "Drop Off" window continue my transaction.

He stated that the manufacturer of the model of meter I had required him to call into their call center.

Oh boy.

He got a rep on the line and gave the phone to me and said she wanted to speak with me.

Knowing what was occurring here since I am in the field, I knew the rep was going to try to have me do everything I could to avoid returning the item. It's a common tactic used by many companies to reduce cost due to product that can otherwise be repaired or tweaked to work.

Sure enough, she wanted all kinds of customer survey information and wanted to offer to troubleshoot the unit I had or at least mail out a new one from their facility. Neither option by this time was acceptable to me since, though she didn't know it, I had attempted the troubleshoot steps on my own already and would not be returning it if it was not necessary. (From my iCare (in 2004) experience, I do have a familiarity with how these devices work)

Normally, I would have politely asked that the store replace the item and I would have continued with her "survey" questions...but suddenly, I snapped.

Everything had built up to it's boiling point. I felt very much like when I was forced to scream out in hysterics in elementary school after being teased by bullies.

I just let loose...

I yelled at the rep on the phone that I wanted a replacement and slammed the receiver on the pharmacy counter. I yelled out over to the pharmacy aide that I was ready to get my replacement now. The pharmacy manager came over and I nearly screamed that I wanted my replacement.

"Do I need to go pick it off the shelf, as well", I screamed.

"What happened to the phone call with Accu-Check?", he questioned.

"I'm done with that!! I want my replacement right now!", I exclaimed with a snarl.

"But what happened over the phone? I thought...."

"I want the replacement!", I cut in, "Do I need to go to your manager? Just give me the replacement!!", I barked...people beginning to stare.

"Okay...okay...What did she say?", the manager asked, probably thinking it was the rep on the phone who riled me up.

"Look, why don't you understand me...I want the replacement now! I paid for it...this is defective...what's so hard to understand...PATEL!!!"

And I have to admit, I said his name with all the racist hate I could muster.

I am embarrassed by my action and will likely dwell mostly on this aspect of this incident most, since it is the most ugly side of me. I do feel, in what I perceive to be it's rudimentary and unintelligent form, a deep-seated, under acknowledged racism of which I am horrified.

"Sir", he pined with hurt eyes, "you don't need to go there..."

He looked genuinely shocked and mortified.

But, well in my rage, I continued...

"I am feeling dizzy and sick because I am not able to take my blood sugar...you are risking a medical incident here!"

Man, he snapped to it at that and handed me a new meter from the shelf behind me in a flash.

"I need a receipt or I won't be able to leave the store", I said, remembering the anti-theft Gestapo senior citizen Wal-Mart places at exits/entrances supposedly as a "greeter"...they never greet me...they just eyeball me to see if I seem like a thief...

"If they ask, they can call me...", Maneesh offered. "Do you want me to put a label on it?", he asked, meaning the pharmacy label verifying my prescription.

"No!", I exclaimed as I took my box, put it into my empty carriage and scooted my way away from there with 4 or 5 onlookers gawking at me in amazement of the drama they had just witnessed.

I dumped the cart since I realized it'd be best to leave immediately then to continue shopping, and stormed outta the store...Gestapo nowhere in sight (shit, I should have just stolen a new meter and avoided the time and embarrassment!)

So, will I become a grumpy, ugly, fat mean old bastard before my time?

If today is any indication, I'd say I may already, in some respects, be there.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Tragic Coming-Of-Age Tale

Yesterday morning I turned on the news while getting ready for work and one of the top stories was about a double homicide which had just been committed the night before. A 21 year old guy drives up to the house his ex-girlfriend is at, smashes into her parked car with his car 'till the rear end of her car is mush, shoots his way through the sliding glass door and proceeds to gun down his ex, and two other friends in the house. The shooter then drives back to his apartment where police apprehend him later that morning.

If this were New Orleans, this would be a weekly event. Domestic murders were very common. (At least when I lived there.) But here it's kinda rare. The last big killing involving such young killers and victims was the Deltona X-Box killings a couple years ago. Several friends in their early 20's were beaten to death with a baseball bat over an argument stemming from a dispute about an X-Box game system.

This weeks killing was in Oviedo, not far from Deltona (in fact, if traveling by major roads between those 2 towns about 20 miles apart, you drive right by Lake Mary!).

But the really chilling thing was the fact that when the TV news showed the "alleged" murderer on video tape shot at the county jail, I nearly spit out my Crystal Light.

I knew him!

Andrew was in my initial training classes at Convergys back in 2005. He sat in the seat just to the right of me and during the next 3 weeks of training, when we were paired up to do breakout training lessons, I had usually been partnered with him. Over the course of the next 11 months of my employment there, Andrew and I saw each other from time to time as we had both been on the same shift for a while and even after I switched shifts, the shifts overlapped somewhat so I saw him from time to time. I think he even gave me a ride home one time.

I would not say we were friends. He was very quiet and kept to himself for the most part. I don't think he had any friends there. Plus, he was a young kid and I started becoming friends with co-workers near my own age like Phil, Sharon and Charles.

But I remember him clearly since he always seemed to be a bit weird. (Well, who at Convergys wasn't, really?) He drove this big white car like a Crown Vic or something and it had a spotlight installed by the driver side window, like you'd find on a police cruiser. Weird. When he did talk he expressed his interest and expertise in computers and networking.

After seeing the news reports, I wanted to see what other news providers were saying about the incident so I googled his name and lo-and-behold he had his own web site under the domain "www.andrewallread.com". I clicked the link and saw it was just a shell of a site with just a white page with the notation..."I am out of here..." on it. I was able to click through the "pub" folders like an FTP site and clicked through the directories to access the remaining few files on the site. This included eerie screenshots of blog pages and a rambling copy of an IM thread graphically displaying a romantic breakup and a possible new fling that the victim Tiffany had been chatting provocatively with...perhaps one of the other 2 victims in the house that night...one who died and another who is still living with a bullet wound to the leg. Probably most disturbing was a picture of Tiffany candidly taken during, no doubt, happier times while she slurped ramen noodles from a plastic container while sitting in the bathtub. (Picture was taken from behind so it's just a photo of innocence and youth, not sexually explicit).

Of course, it wasn't long before the site was finally shut down for good and none of this is any longer available.

It's sad when you hear of stupid, senseless violence like this. Weird when it pertains to someone you circumstantially knew.

This case is pretty much cut and dry since he made a racket smashing the car and shooting in a suburban neighborhood where he was known. He had been there before and lived only a few blocks away. There were plenty of witnesses, including some reported 10 or so people in the house at the time. They were apparently continuing a party which had started the night before at Andrews house. You see, they were celebrating the 21st and 22nd birthdays of Andrew and his friend Michael. It was at Michael's house the killings took place. Tiffany and Michael. Shot dead.

Man, what a waste! Lord knows I've had my own issues with alcohol-induced bad decisions, but to get wasted at your 21st birthday party and then get a gun and shoot your friend and girlfriend in a rage. Man, that's bad!

Well, Happy Birthday Andrew! The State of Florida may be providing you with an unexpected birthday gift...a little sit-down time in "Old Sparky". Or, at least, a place to stay...for the rest of your life.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez

Ric and I had a great time in New Orleans this past weekend. I was a little nervous at first thinking it would just throw us into a number of ugly arguments, but things went fine. BTW, he didn't need to be in a sling so was pretty ambulatory.

We flew out early Saturday morning, started drinking virtually as soon as we landed (sooner for Ric, he had a beer on the plane...at 8:30 am...okay can you say "lush"?)

After check-in, we went to Harrah's Casino, right across the street from where we were staying (New Orleans Hilton-Riverside).

Come to find out, Ric is extremely vulnerable to becoming a gambling addict.

We both played 25 cent slots for a few minutes and before you knew it, I won double my investment and he won almost that as well. People were sneering at us (yes, there were a few people in the casino so early in the morning) with disdain.

But, almost an hour later, I broke even and Ric had lost all his earnings and about $40 more.

He kept wanting to stay to win it back but I finally pulled him outta there.

We then went down Decatur St. to Jackson Square and Ric seemed impressed by all the old architecture and layout of the "Riverside" area of the Quarter, but he really shined once we moved on to the layout of all the bars on Bourbon St. a few blocks "Lakeside".

We went to Bourbon Pub, one of the prominent gay clubs in the Quarter, but being so early, it was dead. We had a couple of drinks and moved down Bourbon, stopping at various bars and daiquiri shops.

I had already made reservations for us at The Court of Two Sisters, so we were seated right away at noon for our Jazz Brunch. I had grits and grillades, broiled catfish, Creole jambalaya, Duck a l'Orange, Shrimp Etouffee, boiled shrimp with Creole remoulade sauce, and Roast Beef, carved to order and served with natural au jus, topped off with a dessert of Southern Pecan Pie with Praline Sauce and Bananas Foster. I ordered a Bloody Mary but Ric also ordered champagne for the both of us.

Can you say "Decadently Delicious!"?

Ric picked up the $90 check here as (partial) payment toward the hotel costs (remember, I had originally booked this vacation for myself, and then he wanted to go so he bought airfare on the same flights as me but never paid for the hotel part of the package.)

After brunch, we strolled Bourbon Street, chatted with bartenders at various places and got slowly, but surely, shit faced.

We took a very sad walking Haunted Tour which seemed like a total rip-off. We ditched it halfway through. Afterwards, at dusk, we took a mule drawn carriage ride thru the Quarter with a really great tour guide.

Come 8:00 pm, I was still raring to go, but Ric had all sorts of aches and pains due to his injuries and his usual drinking "headache", so he needed to go back to the hotel. I stayed out at the gay bars for another hour or so, went to Krystals, scoffed down 6 cheese Krystals and went back to the hotel room by 10:00.

The next day it was I who was in pain...hungover and with virtually no muscle power, it was very difficult to walk.

Ric was obsessed with finding a sports bar to watch the football games, but after several inquiries, the best offered was the Cajun Cabin bar. But before we went there we had a great lunch at Johnny White's Bar, where I had red beans & rice with Andouille sausage and Ric had Bourbon Chicken Wings which he said were good. Ric and I took a few good pictures of each other with his cell phone...I should post them here eventually. At the Cajun Cabin, Ric ordered more wings and some fried gator.

Ric had more stamina than me today, so I had to bow out around 6:30. Ric napped back at the hotel with me too, but he went out around 8:00 back to Oz, Bourbon Pub and Lafite in Exile without me for another couple hours.

Monday, we had a final shopping excursion at Riverwalk, and ate lunch of gumbo and Po Boys at Kappy's right in the hotel.

Our early afternoon flight got us back to Florida in time to cap off the day with dinner at Chili's in Lake Mary.

It was a great vacation and I think both of us got a lot of fun outta it.

It was just so hard getting back to the work "grindstone" on Tuesday!

Oh well, we "let the good times roll" where and when we want them!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Eh, What's Up Doc?

Okay, so I just got back from my follow up appointment to the doctors. It was supposed to be a full exam but he postponed that because he wanted to go over the blood test and MRI results. No big surprises...onset Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and abnormal liver lipids. More evidence that suggest I am fat. Duh! Yea, my mirror tells me that!

Just got off the phone with Ric...he had his MRI today for his banged-up sholder from the accident. Turns out it's not just sprained, his sholder bone is broken. He's probably gonna be outta work for a few more weeks now. He still wants to go to New Orleans next weekend though, yet he'll probably be in a sling.

I'm on lunch at work, but I'm not eating because I went to the McDonald's right next to the doctors office this morning and had 2 egg McMuffins. Just the thing for my health, right? Oh brother!

I'm really thinking of making the new Orleans trip my "Last Fling" for decadence in eating and drinking behavior.

And I say behavior rather than just simply eating or drinking because my problems stem mostly from the way I use food and alcohol, not the food and alcohol themselves. It's the behavior that must change. The correct food choices and severely limited alcohol use will follow.

Or should I get all Draconian and just force myself on a severe diet and total absintence from drinking all at once?

This doctor has me going for ultrasound for my liver, classes for diabetes and twice weekly physical therapy sessions for my frozen shoulder. Man, I'm gonna be a busy beaver!

Well, almost time to start my training class for the new hire (I do training specifically on the BE product).

I'll try to stay alive 'till the next post!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

FLASHBACK: March 1987

Linda and her boss Veronica were in a dilemma. One of the clients who was enrolled in the Day Program and Recreation Program for the Center was in need of immediate placement into a group home. Yet no space was available in any of the 12 or so group homes in the Residential Program until later that year.

Because this client, Jim, was a frequent participant in the Recreation Program which I managed, Linda thought that Jim might benefit from staying with me in my apartment for a few months until placement was ready.

The Pros would be State funding paid to me as a kind of foster care provider, as well as full funding for all of Jim's daily needs (ADL supplies, clothes, food)...and, Jim's SSI money for non-essentials like recreation etc.

The Con would be that I lived in a one-bedroom apartment and he would have to use the living room as his bedroom. Also, it meant pretty much round the clock supervision which was not too bad 'cause, even then, I hardly ever went out to places Jim wouldn't be okay to come along (like a club), and Jim was very "high functioning" so I wouldn't be burdened by too much "residential aide" type work. Just the "adult" things he never learned like cooking and cleaning. He dressed himself, washed himself (kinda...because he thought he was now free of his mother's nagging, he started to get lax in his hygiene tasks, so after a week or so I had to start monitoring him to be sure he was properly brushing his teeth, shaving, etc., 'cause otherwise he got lazy)

I agreed to have him live with me and moved him in around late-February.

(Side note: After moving his stuff in with the Center's van, we went back to his mother's house in Pawtucket to get a portable dishwasher his mom let me have since she didn't need it anymore. While driving along on that day, a news bulletin was broadcast on the van radio. The announcer stated that Andy Warhol had just died. I pulled the van over and cried. Jim asked what was the matter and I just told him I just heard some sad news. He probably wouldn't under stand why I'd morn someone I never met.)

Jim got settled in and though at first I was weary of letting him do anything unsupervised, I knew he couldn't just stay in and watch TV all the time. He had his bike and the weather in March was finally getting to where he could ride it without freezing, so I let him go out and ride his bike close by the complex. I defined the boundaries he should stay within and he agreed he wouldn't go beyond them.

It's funny now thinking back then about the fact that this man in his early-thirties, almost 10 years older than me, needed to be treated like a pre-teen, but that was not unusual to us in human services for the developmentally disabled. Clients, regardless of age or size, and even functionality for the most part knew their role...and us staff knew ours.

Jim kept his promise and biked only around the complex that was Kent Farm Village, but, because of his inability to discern social taboos about certain behaviors, trouble one afternoon came a knockin', literally.

Jim had been outside biking when suddenly he came into the apartment with his bike, parked the bike in it's corner and sat down looking flustered and out of breath.

I asked him what was the matter and, very atypically, since he was usually so happy-go-lucky, he said he didn't want to talk about it.

Somewhat freaked, I knew something had happened so I looked out the window from my 6th floor living room and there parked by the front door to the building was a police cruiser.

Within seconds there was a forceful knock at the door.

The East Providence patrolman was cool and businesslike asking what the relationship of Jim was and what his intentions were.

It turns out, Jim got bored of playing by himself so he want some neighborhood kids to hang out with. According to the cop, Jim wanted some little kids to go into the woods with him. The kids, of course, freaked and ran to tell their parents, and the parents called the cops. When the cop showed up at the parents house, Jim had by then gone back to riding his bike. When the cop spotted him he asked him to come over to his cruiser. Apparently Jim freaked and made his way back to the apartment, basically evading the cop. The cop followed and here we were. Ya, I know!

Well, luckily, I knew Jim well enough to know that like quite a few higher-functioning folks (Neil a few years later at Elm Street comes to mind), he kept sexuality really on a very pre-teen, almost asexual level. He was especially under-developed in terms of libido as he seemingly never masturbated, never gawked or spoke sexually suggestive towards women (or men), and thought that dancing with a girl at the Center-held dances for clients was the height of sexual contact, especially if he got the equivalent in his world of "going all the way"; a quick tongue-less kiss on the lips.

So Jim truely and innocently wanted friends to hang out with, probably to ride bikes or play ball...that's it.

But, since Jim is not Downs' or otherwise physically obvious as to his mental level, we know what these parents and this cop thought was going on.

I explained the situation to the cop and he seemed satisfied that that was the case especially after I gave him contact numbers for Linda at the Center, but he said he'd be checking this out, and admonished me to be more watchful of him.

After the cop left, I saw Jim was scared so I reassured him no one was upset and nothing was going to happen, but I stressed that he could not approach any strangers at all. I knew he knew he shouldn't, so it make plausible the idea that he might have actually asked the kids to go into the nearby woods with him so that he would not be seen by their parents. He wanted to play with kids their age because in his mind, he felt like he was their age, yet he knew adults, and even the kids saw this as inappropriate.

Jim recovered quickly from this and, thankfully, rarely went bike riding again. But the thing that really irked me was the fact that when I got in the office the next day I called the police station and asked if there was any follow up needed due to the incident. The cop who took my call thought I was some other staff member inquiring about this and stated that in the report the cop who came to my door said the matter seemed resolved but that as a caution the Center should be notified that he thought the guy they placed Jim with was "a homosexual"!

Believe it or not, my face flushed and the first emotion I felt was shame. Can you believe it? It felt like when I was in junior high and bully's called me a "fag" and I felt shame because I thought they could actually tell.

But then I felt indignation. Who was this guy, first of all, to say in an official report that I might be "a homosexual"?

Did he think I acted swish?

Was it because my apartment was neat and well-decorated?
(It was done up in a bit of "cosmo-queer" decor, admittedly, with black-lacquer accented furniture, black crushed-velvet throw pillows and a flamboyant spray of pink and burgundy gladiolas in a lead-crystal vase on the beveled-mirror focal table...with the track lights cascading their soft glow upon the bank of mini blinds behind a 6' ficus tree with white mini Christmas lights strewn among it's flowing branches...it was FABULOUS!...well, except for Jim's "Leave It To Beaver" style bunk bed in the corner with Power Rangers sheets...ugh.)

Secondly, for him to pick that up he must have Gaydar. And usually, you have Gaydar if you are gay...

Well why didn't he ask me out....he was kinda cute:)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Weekend Update

Jane, you ignorant slut!

Ok, it's not quite the weekend being only Tuesday but fuck that and let's get to it...

Well, Ric will be going with me to New Orleans in a few weeks. The good part is that I will revel in being the tour guide for him since he's never been there. The bad part is he'll be drunk both nights and will be a handful.

But, then again, if he keeps getting into confrontations with automobiles, maybe he won't be tagging along...

This past Saturday evening Ric knocked on my door. He seemed fine but said that he needed me to help him out by staying with him for a few days. Why? Because he had just spent the day in the emergency room being treated for his injuries from an accident earlier that day. He was biking across a busy road in Altamonte and was hit by a car as it was speeding to beat a red light.

Luckily, he suffered only a gash on his back near his left shoulder needing 9 stitches and a scrape on his shin.

I spent the weekend with him and helped him with his bandages. But despite his being on Vicodin, we still went to Jax and on Sunday to Longhorn. After all, life goes on.

I knew it was just a matter of time. Thankfully, it was not worse. His bike shop guy has threatened that he will only return the repaired bike if Ric buys a helmet. I agree, he should have had a helmet on his head long ago.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I Have No Really Good Excuse...

For neglecting this blog, that is.

But, getting quickly over that, let's move on to a huge update!

1. The last entry was about the ill-fated "Master Cleanse" attempt...um, any surprise that didn't work? I didn't even last a day, never mind the recommended 10 days! (I still have some of the lemons though......but they still "look" fresh...what?!)

2. But to better my health, I finally decided to use my insurance and went to see a doctor...mainly about my achy knees and my frozen shoulder. Diagnoses?
A.) Shoulder: Frozen Shoulder...physical therapy exercises may improve it's functionality..yeah!
B.) Knees...especially the left one: X-Rays indicate I need to follow up with MRI scan...hmmm. Could be more serious than just a sprain or even simple arthritis.
C.) But the big surprise (or maybe not...), I was put on high blood pressure meds immediately! Yup, my BP, historically described in virtually all previous examinations as "somewhat higher than normal" is now "...definitely NOT borderline": first reading = 150/95, second reading = 170/110. Yikes!
D.) The doctor also ordered a series of blood tests and urine testing to check on a slew of other potential problems. Can't wait 'till Sept. 5th when I find out what they revealed. Gulp.
E.) Oh, BTW, the doctor didn't say anything directly about my weight at this juncture...but I think he will during the more thorough "physical" appointment set for September 5th. The nurse weighed me in...(...ladies and gentlemen, drum roll please...)...325! (I was thinking maybe 305-310...but 325!...Damn!)

3. Work is going very well. Drew is gone...he transferred to sales, so his brand of over-the-top buffoonery is finally a memory! I got promoted to Senior CSR with a $2000 pay raise...Holla! I'm the new SME (Subject Matter Expert) for Backup Exec. This along with the task of monitoring the 2 customer service email alias still in existence gives me the excuse to take minimal calls and, as long as I am addressing the email concerns, plenty of "project" time to web browse, complete personal business, etc. In general, get one step closer to my goal: a George Castanza Dream Job!

4. But the big news of this update...
Late in June, Ric came home one night to the sight of me passed out on my bed and a pot roast burning in the oven.

This was the last straw...

He demanded that I be out of his house by end of July the latest.

There was a week of not talking to each other, but eventually I realized that it was time to move on anyway...

Though I got rejected at least 2 apartment complexes, I found a small...no, I mean TINY...one room "house" for rent in Lake Mary...right on, Lake Mary (the lake the town is named for).

So I moved in early July, and, here I am.

It is a small (less than 400 square feet) studio with a twin-size Murphy bed. No oven, hotplate-style burners for cooking, a tiny microwave, and no dishwasher.

It so reminds me of the set up I last had with Albert in New Orleans.

I actually love it!

Oh, Ric and I are still best buds. I see him virtually every weekend, and if we go to Jax, which is usually every weekend, I sleep over there.

Best of all, living on my own costs no more that when I was living with Ric!

5. I may sign up for some community education course(s) at SCC (Seminole Community College). They just opened a building right near work which I could hit right after work a night or 2 a week. Eh, I need a change of pace.

6. Planned and booked...finally...a triumphant-return-style vacation to New Orleans in mid-September! Only 3 days, but you know I'll make the best of it! But only $300, airfare and hotel (New Orleans Hilton Riverfront)!

Finally, I miss updating you all on this blog. So look forward to more posts..including some delicious Flashbacks...I promise.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Eve of The "Cleanse"

I'm starting the Master Cleanse detox fast tomorrow.

We'll see how it goes...I gotta do something about this fatigue, joint aches and such...not to mention try to force my body to obey some restraints. The time of decadence needs to end now!

Hopefully I can go the 10 days, and then get back to my early 90's style Healthy Eating attitude.

Wonder how I'll weather the "Glug Glug Juice Urges"? Hmmmm.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

What Were The Coen Brothers Thinking?

I just watched (while surfing the Net, so, really, half-watched) "The Ladykillers" on broadcast TV. Um, what a piece of crap! And I usually love the kooky twisted movies made by these guys! What was Tom Hanks thinking?

Anyhoo, let's catch up....again. These posts are getting to be once monthly editions! Ugh!

Missin' the beaucoup paychecks of the massive overtime weeks. Ah well.

Just got over another case of the gout, about as severe as last year. At least I didn't have to call cabs or take any days off because of it. Just hobbled around the office with my right foot in a sandal for a week or so.

Gave $25 to Kevin B. tonight...he seems depressed. Hope he pulls through okay...I think he will.

Ric's family from Indiana was down visiting a couple weeks back, as I mentioned in the prior post...

The kids broke the microphone to the American Idol PS2 game...but not before they tortured me with hours of their horrific singing! This family was cheap! 4 days in the Orlando area and despite the 1000 or so things for tourists to do, they only went to Universal one of those days...the others were spent here at our complex hangin' out by the pool. C'mon people...if you're gonna travel, do some unique to the area activities. I mean, I know they can't hang out by the pool in Indiana right now, but they will be able to in a couple months!

Speaking of American Idol...so sad Sanjaya got booted off last night. Boo Hoo! He's not the best singer, but he had character! And he was so sexy singing that Spanish song! Mmmm!

Well gotta finish tonite's beverage choice, Glen Ellen Reserve cab...bought a box of it (yes, gasp, how tacky, wine in a box!) when Ric's fam was down and it tasted good so I got a bottle tonite...yes, not bad.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I've Become "Fat Bastard"!

Oh, lately, it has been quite an ordeal trying to avoid the onward escalation of my weight. At times, I feel I'm heading towards the eventual day when I will begin to have things orbiting me as their planetary mass.

I'm probably about 320 now...I don't know for sure since my bathroom scale gave up trying a few months ago and will only display "Err" in it's calculator-esque LED font. (I wonder...is "Err" short for "Error" or is it the scale growling in agony having a big fat man squishing it?)

Ric foretold it and I have to say the weight gain dramatically increased once I stopped walking and started driving to work every day.

Now it's like I am pregnant with quintuplets that just won't leave my Man Womb!

Charlotte moved out today. She's selling her unit (the one just below us). Aw, gee, no more yippy-yappy barking from Porkchop, her obnoxious chihuahua.

Still more folk coming on board as temps at work...but layoffs of perms in sales due to fiscal belt-tightening. Oh, but I see a day soon when the 25 or so reps in our department can easily be drawn back to about 12...and that day will come soon. But man, I'll tell ya, if they give us the severance package they gave sales reps (according to my keen eavesdropping ears), it would be very sweet! Laid off sales reps got a YEAR of severance pay, in one check!

Now darlin', you know I'd be taking quite a few months (i.e. MANY) to find another job...and lovin' the "stress-relieving" excursions to New Orleans, Vegas, Mexico, etc. in between interviews!

The car is running well though it seems the cooling system may be running a bit hot since the gauge seems to go to halfway even after just a short 15 minute drive. And, it's not even hot weather yet...can you imagine in August? I'll probably bring it in to Meineke or something to have them look at it. Fuck me if this car is going to be another 1985 Cavalier fiasco!

I kinda thought that after 5 years of not being able to drive that my life would have dramatically changed once I got the ability to drive back. Well, it is more convenient and care-free, but the things I do on a weekly basis...go to work, go shopping, go home...stay home on the weekends...my boring life is still the same.

Ric's brother, sister-in-law and their 3 kids are coming to visit this upcoming weekend.

Oh yeah!

7 people in a ~1000 square foot condo! Oh Joy!

Apparently, they are pretty Duck McScrooge and even though they could afford hotel rooms, they gladly take up Ric on his offer of accommodation!

Well, enough for now. Like "Fat Bastard", I need to find sumtin' to get put "In My Belly!!"

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Gods Smile Upon Me

It's kinda scary but so many things are going right lately!

1. Several weeks ago, Shari, the rough-voiced and pushy rep in the cube next to Drew...who came to our department along with Drew from Sales (probably 'cause they couldn't hack it)...decided that the "green acres" of Iowa was "the place for her" (and her hubby), so she quit and moved out there. That left her enviable window cubicle available. So I asked Jill if I could have it. And she gave it to me. There is probably some ill feeling among some people in the office about that cause Nina, who started as a temp from Spherion on the same day as me was actually in that cube when we moved over from the 801 building. She was displaced by Shari in May or whatever when Shari came over with the Drewster. The cube is great BTW, I have a bucolic view of International Parkway and the Chase Building across the street with so many Cypress pines and Palmetto trees, and a glimpse of a pretty pond. Ahhh!

2. The queues have been diminishing (ever so slightly) so I have been given more "project time" by Jill. I pretty much take care of the whole final resolution for the hundreds of Sym-Unmatched cases. Easy computer-only time. No crankiness zone.

3. I came home the other night and Ric was all smiles. The vacant restaurant building across the street from our house and easily visible from my bedroom window was bought and is under renovation for the coming business. Ric asked me if I could guess, of all the places Ric has frequented over the past few years, what would be a total fantasy come true for him if "it" were to open next door. Without hesitation, I knew he was talking about Jax Fifth Avenue. And, sure enough...dream-come-true, Jax is opening up right next door. Jax is a deli/bar, but mostly bar. They have a decidedly "yuppie" attitude, but not stuffy. Most of all, they feature a bar that boasts hundreds of varieties of beer from all over the world. Over 50 of them on tap! Oh, the drunken nights ahead!

4. Finally, last, but certainly not least...

Today, February 15, 2007.

A date which will live in infamy!

At 11:15 am, I received a little plastic card (which cost a mere $230), with a horrible picture of me...but, nevertheless, it is a Florida Driver's License!!!!

By 2:30 pm, I was driving home from the Saturn of Orlando dealership in my 1999 Buick Century Custom.

Ric had already left for work before he had a chance to see it, but he'll see it parked in spot #18 tonight when he bikes home. I may have some champagne available for him to celebrate with me.

So, baby, cue the music by Aerosmith: "I'm Back in the Saddle Again!"