31 July 2006

Sometimes it IS just too loud.

I live an exciting life. I woke up this morning, showered, shaved, and got myself ready to liberate the Dunkin’ Donuts on the way to Hell and return it to the rightful owners, Noor & Sanjay, when outside I hear the dogs downstairs whining and barking. After a few minutes, I realize that those aren’t dogs, but people. It turns out that it’s one person. A young Asian lady is standing in the middle of the street, screaming at her boyfriend/husband, at the top of her lungs, in Chinese (or what I assume is Chinese; like I can tell the difference) about something that has upset her greatly. I am going to go out on a limb and say it was infidelity, because that is always fun when it happens to another couple. Her hand gestures had a certain Lorena Bobbit motion to them, and I am thinking, “Yep, he’s gonna lose his pecker.”
The argument ended, and lacking any further entertainment, left for work. I get to DD, and Noor and Sanjay are back! I get my Coollata, just the way I like it, with a plain donut, and all is right with the world. I’m so happy that I say, “Hello,” and “Good morning” to people as I pass them. Less than half say anything back. I can’t think of anything ruder than to ignore someone. At least when they’re screaming obscenities at you, they acknowledge you exist. But if someone looks at you and wishes you a good morning, the least you could do is smile, or nod.
It reminds me of this conversation I had with a co-worker named Lee. He was talking about this time he was in line at the bank, and a white woman walked up beside him. He said hello to her, and she just ignored him. They were in line together for five minutes and she couldn’t spare a hello to him. He tells me that any black woman would say hello back, and maybe even talk to you. But white women are so full of themselves that they think that every man that talks to them wants to have sex with them. It was a white woman, after all, who proclaimed that “every man is a potential rapist.” So he tells her that she’s very rude and, coincidentally, if she offered him sex, he would have turned her down, as he is married happily.
All of the white women I said hello and good morning to ignored me. All the guys I saw said something back, or raised their coffee cups. And the sistas all wished me a lovely morning.
Sometimes, I really hate white people.

Work had mad amounts of intrigue. Let’s just say that ol’ Zeepdoggie is deaf, or nearly so. And he wants to preserve his hearing, which means that he doesn’t listen to his music super-loud, is saving up for his noise-canceling headphones, and on the occasions he goes to concerts, he always wears earplugs. Still, I get the ringies in my ears near continuously, but it’s really bad three times during my day: when I get off the train to work, when I get off the train for home, and when I leave work. See, the music is too loud at work (and it’s total crap as well, but let’s leave it alone for now), and it makes my ears ring. There is no quiet place at work; the music is even going on upstairs, which is extra torturous and poopy. So today, I ask one of my fave managers, E, if he could turn it down. He has said no in the past, but I was hoping for some pity here. So he says, “No.” And I say, “Why not? I’m trying to preserve my hearing.” E knows how deaf I am; if you work with me and my back is to you, you learn how deaf I am since you have to run up beside me to get my attention. Midway through the day, my ears are ringing so badly that I have a hard time differentiating the numbers 33 and 36, 35 and 39, and thirty from forty. When you work in a retail-clothing store that fits men from the very teeny to the ursine this can be a very big problem.
So E says, “I can’t.” I reply, “Do I have to call HR about this?” It’s not meant as a threat. I understand that, for some fucked up reason that I will get into later, he has to keep the music at a certain volume. I figure if I call HR, they can change the policy for this store, and I can go home hearing a little better. Because it is all about me.
So he gets pissed, but I have to greet a customer, who cannot hear me over the music thankyouverymuch, and he leaves before we can discuss it. Lord K, who has requested to be known as Gringo from now on (if you met him, it would make some sense, sorta), goes and turns down the music. E loses his mind, yells at Gringo, and disappears.
A little while later, another manager comes and talks to me about what happened. I tell her. She asks how I got to this stage of hearing loss. I tell her through large amounts of head trauma, a wasp stinging my ear when I was five, and continuous exposure to low-level noise while onboard a submarine. I ask why it is such a massive deal that they turn the music down to a dull roar. She says that a study has shown that when the music is at a certain volume, people buy more stuff. What a preposterous hypothesis is that? What did the study consist of? Where was it conducted? What were the conditions, the controls? Did they get a proper sample size for the experiment? Did they do a demographic study before conducting their test? Was there an influx of individuals to the area of the study before or during? Was there a sale going on? How many levels of volume did they test? What are the confidence levels of the findings?
Any study that is supposed to prove human behavior is bullshit. Christ, most folks have no idea of what they themselves are going to do next! The greatest joke ever pulled on one person by another is predictive behavioral analysis. Actually, that’s the second best. If you can get someone to fall for “There’s something on your shirt…zzzzziiippp!” more than twice in an hour, that is the best! But for money, if you can get someone to pay you to conduct a predictive behavioral study on a situation with as many variables as shopping for clothes, then you can sell ice to an Eskimo.
So mad drama ensues. Gringo might get fired. I might get written up. The sky is falling. Again, those full-timers in retail need to chill out. You’re not curing cancer, you’re not saving the world; you’re selling an image that is impossible and bad for the world. Either stop taking it seriously, or stop doing it and do something worth taking seriously. It’s clothes!
Eventually, E and I have a talk, and things are smoothed out. We hug, I rub his bald little head with the el grosso mole and peace is restored in the valley.

I go to the Apple Store to get my iPod fixed, as it has shit the bed (sorry, didn’t mean to get technical there) yet again. I have an appointment with the Genius Bar in thirty minutes, so I decide to go and get a bottle of water from the Walgreen’s just down the street. When it comes my time to pay, some bum decides to buy the shirt he didn’t want before I got to the register. He starts cursing the little lady behind the counter out.
“Hey,” I say, “you’re talking to a lady!” He mumbles some shit at me, then tells me to mind my own business. “You don’t apologize to her right now, I’m calling security!” He tells me to fuck myself, and that’s when the security guy comes over and asks what the trouble is. The cashier tells him, and Mr. Security asks Mr. stinky-Britches if it’s true. He says, “Naw, man! All these Oriental bitches hate black people! This fuckin’ bitch won’t take my fuckin’ money! And this motherfucker here fuckin’ threatened me! If you dint come over, I’d a hit him with my cane!”
I’ve had enough. I push him to the door, the security dude right behind me, trying to stop me. I tell him that I will be right out, and if he wants to hit me with his cane, it will be the last thing he does with the few teeth left in his mouth. As he runs down Michigan, I ask him where he’ll be so I can meet him there. He doesn’t say anything back.
I go back inside the Wal, and tell the security guard that he absolutely sucks at his job. The girl at the register gives me my water and a candy bar for free.
I was looking for Big Daddy Cane all the way back to the Apple Store, but I couldn’t find him anywhere.
Then I get pissed at myself for acting like that. One of these days, a guy is going to pull a knife or a gun, and I am going to get seriously fucked up for trying to be a hero. But what the hell am I supposed to do? Just watch that happen? It goes back to my point of ignorance being the standard response to things. I think that human evil wouldn’t exist if we just chose to pay attention to the world around us. You would have to do something if you actually saw the wrongness of everyday life on this planet. I am the wrong guy for a crusade; I ignore shit too, until it’s string me right in the face. And if I turn away, I feel like shit for the rest of the day. No one person can save the world; but the world can probably save itself, if it paid attention every once in a while.
Back to the Genius Bar. It turns out that, since this is my fourth iPod they’ve had to replace due to manufacturer’s defect, they are going to give me a complimentary upgrade to a 60GB iPod Video! How awesome is that! That is 15,000 songs! And I get to renew my AppleCare plan, should that one shit the bed anytime in the next three years! I am ecstatic! The heroism is rewarded!
I get home, and the Princess is waiting with the ball, ready to go outside. No messiness to clean inside, I sit down to a delicious bowl of ice cream, take a cold shower, and write this little adventure.
Do you think today was good or bad?

El Gringo Loco has arrived!

I have been inspired. Yes, I have been inspired by three people. Two of them are Ren (I am her standby husband, should hubby 1 break or something) and Stimpy (who I don't know), and they share this blog. The other is none other than Gringo, formerly known as Lord K, and before that he was just plain ol' Whitey MacTajas!
It turns out that not only can Gringo draw his ass off, but he also can write some very funny shit! Seriously had me in stitches last night. And since you, my beautiful, loyal and foolish readers turn to me for entertainment, I have decided that Gringo shall join me in a tag team of Blogitude! He, of course, has no choice; I am the Decider. I informed him of as much earlier today. I said, "Weak-minded yet talented fool! Join me on my blog! We will supply the massive number of readers (aside: hyperbole is a weakness of mine) with chuckles aplenty!"
His response: silence, then "Uh, okay." Blink, blink. Blink. "Can I eat now?"
I don't know, can you?

So, thank you beautiful wife and person I don't know, and as for you Gringo, make with the funny!

So this is something that happened LONG ago but I never thought to write about it.

"I'm Not An Alcoholic"

One night last Spring, when I first arrived here, my brother and I decided to buy a bottle of Jack Daniel's for a guys' night of fun. We walked to the local grocery store around the corner and bought a bottle. Y ou have to love discount prices, and they also had this little black cup thing on top which I figured was a measuring cup for pouring. How thoughtful! Actually, I was wrong.
We get home to discover that this is indeed a sensor that nobody bothered to take off. So now Big Bro and I had a problem before us: how do you get the top off without breaking the glass or wasting precious fluid? It was like an engineering problem gone wrong.

First I tried using only my hands, which readily make quick work of pickle jar lids and salad dressing bottles. I could get it to twist but it wouldn't go anywhere. Then I compressed the sides of the little cylinder, trying to crack the seal, again to no avail. Then showing that we are IN FACT advanced mammals, we began using simple tools. We brought out a wood chisel and tried to cut through a seam in the plastic. When that didn't work, we went to going under the cap and trying to pop it off. No dice. After all this we had managed to get some drops of whiskey running down the neck from having twisted the cap off, but still secured in place by the sensor.

After a suitable amount of thought and contemplation we found the solution: a power drill. Did you think we would just walk back to the store? No, no, no, that would have been silly. Big Bro came out with the power drill, made a couple of choice holes, and behold! we had freed the spirits from their prison.

Now I know this looks bad. You are so determined to get alcohol in your bloodstream that you break out power tools at half past eleven at night? We were just two typical guys solving a problem, that's all...I mean, the bottle lasted a while...and...yeah. That is just really bad.

::shamed face::

And just a couple of thoughts that flitted across the old brain, like a speckle of bird shit across the sun:
Any conversation is better when it's post-coital;
I'm really funny when you're drunk.


I tell ya, the kid's got talent!

30 July 2006

Iced Lattes and overreactions

It’s Sunday morning, which means it’s “Open Hell” day; I must be at work at 0945, and I didn’t go to sleep until 5 AM. Let’s say Saturday turned out to be more adventurous than I expected.
Anyhoo, since I must be in at 0945, I must have my medium vanilla flavored Coffee Coollata from Dunkin’ Donuts, the one just by 1 IBM Plaza. They know me there, and I know my helpful donuticians. I walk in, they start with the Coollata and get a plain donut in the bag for me. It is a beautiful thing.
Except that today there are two people I have never seen before. I have been coming here for just about four months now, and today is the first time I’ve seen these two. It’s an old man and a young, plump woman, and they’re not wearing nametags. I ask, “Where’s Noor and Sanjay?” and the old man says, “Sick. What do you want?” Well, someone is ready to get down to the brassy tacks. So I give him my usual. It turns out the girl has never made one before. He tells her, “Like Iced Latte!” in a fierce bark. I feel bad for her, but not for long. She gets some stuff from a machine that doesn’t normally dispense the Coollata mix (like I said, I’ve been going there a while), and she asks me if I want skim or whole milk. I have never been asked to determine the type of milk. The wonderful folks behind the counter always did that for me. So I say, “Whatever’s the norm, I guess.” I still don’t know what she chose, but I am missing Noor and Sanjay and the really pretty girl who has never worn the same nametag twice (I call her “Sweetie”), and the funny little old lady who occasionally comes out of the back when it’s very busy out front. I begin to worry; just what the hello did these two do to Noor and Sanjay? Both of them sick? That just smacks of a cover story for the two of them hog-tied and gagged in the back. Whatever has happened, I am sure that the old man did most of it, and forced this poor young girl into the dirty pool they’re playing.
Trying to get a view of the back room, I pay for my breakfast. I am so concerned about this nefarious scheme to wrest control of the DD from its rightful purveyors that I don’t notice that the young lady has finished my Coollata. I take it from her, still peering in the back, and blasting myself for not slipping her a note: It’s okay, I’m here for you if you want to do the right thing.
As I walk, I begin to eat my donut and take a sip of my Coollata. It turns out that it is not a Coollata, but an Iced Latte! The dimbulb made an Iced Latte when I clearly ordered, and paid for, a vanilla-flavored Coollata, not an ass-flavored Iced Latte!
I am so mad, that I entertain the idea of storming back in there, throwing the offending beverage at the wall behind the counter and screaming, “Does that splatter look like a Coffee Coollata to you? You have ruined my morning! Free Noor and Sanjay, now!”
But I’m already two blocks away, I’m late for work, and the walk back would mean going uphill, so fuck it. I’m just down for the caffeine anyway.
Still pissed, I then witness a guy unwrap a small piece of gum (most likely Trident) and just drop the wrapper on the ground.
“Hey,” I say, “you dropped something.”
The fella turns around and says, “What?”
“You dropped your wrapper.”
“So?” He’s looking irritated, but he’s an amateur at it. I’m not fooled.
“So? If only the civil engineers of this great city had thought to put waste receptacles, (me doing bunny ears with fingers) 'trash cans' if you will, at the corners of the streets, then you wouldn’t need to just drop a piece of paper on the ground; you could deposit it in a proper receptacle. You know, a trash can just like the ones on all the corners of every street in downtown Chicago.”
At this point, he looks at me with that “Fuckin’ nutball” face, then looks at the paper. He says, “It’s a little fuckin’ piece of paper, pal!”
“Exactly! Why can’t you carry this little piece of paper the ten yards to the trashcan? It didn’t encumber you when it was wrapped around the gum! You afraid you’re going to lose weight or something?”
To which he replies, “Fuck you!” Witty fellow.
I take two steps to him, and holding my Ass Iced Latte high, say, “If this were hot, I would throw it in your fucking face!”
Remember that scene in “The Big Lebowski,” when Walter pulls his piece on Smokey for stepping over the line? I see Smokey staring at me, Walter, with the cold, gross beverage of rage. The guy picks up the wrapper, walks to the trashcan, and throws it away. He then runs south on Rush. By the time I get to the corner, I can’t even see him.
My day didn’t get any better.
I decided that it would be best if M and I were buddies. I didn't run this by her or anything, but I doubt she would care. Besides, most decisions affecting me on a deeply personal and professional manner have hardly ever been run by me beforehand.
Us being buddies still makes it difficult for me to ask her for any info on K. I can threaten a man with bodily harm over a gum wrapper, but ask about a pretty lady that might be interested in me? I am a sack of noodles when it comes to women. So I didn’t ask, yet. But I will. I have to, after I gave Lord K a big, rousing spiel on always taking hold of the moment and letting nothing stand between what you want and seize the carp and all that bravo sierra. Because if you’re going to be a hypocrite, you might as well go all the way.

Proof that God loves me

Yesterday was terribly exciting, as the following stories and pictures will prove. First on the agenda was attending grandniece Kayla’s birthday party/block party. As stated previously, I hadn’t gotten much sleep (Ich schlafe nicht), so I was pretty bleary until 1100, when I decided, since the old man, Zeepdaddy, wanted to leave at noon, that I should get my shit together and shower, shave, whathaveyou.
I get all this done, and take the Princess out for her constitutional. It’s not that I don’t trust her, I would much rather have her all tired with an empty bladder than leave her alone for a potential twelve hours. I know, I’m a bad daddy; but daddies need fun too, dammit! Especially this one.
But she takes forever! Four trips around the block before she finally deigns a place worthy of her poo. I do the civic duty thing, and take her in, and at a fast pace in the “Where did this come from” heat, truck my butt to the Parental Unit’s storage facility.
It turns out that Zeepmomma isn’t going because it’s going to be too hot today. Wimp. It’s only going to get up to 98 degrees Fahrenheit! But she won’t budge. I tell her, “But it’s going to be 37 degrees Celsius, Mom!” She says then she’ll be too cold. So she doesn’t go. Oh, well, at least Barb is coming too, right? It turns out that Barb might have pink eye, and must go to the doc before going to a party with little kiddies about. Makes sense. So it’s me and Zeepdaddy-o for the ride to the Par-tay.
Not necessarily a bad thing, but the old man is a special breed of man. Kind of a cross breed between man, bear, Sherman tank and rabies. He’s a big, burly, coughing, smoke-belching, angry, unstoppable force with a penchant for foul language and little to no tact. No one is safe from my Daddy-o; he hates just about everyone and everything with an equal amount of anti-pathos. I have often said that my father doesn’t love in the usual sense; he just dislikes some people less than others. My dad would have gone up to Marcus Aurelius and called him a pussy. He is an essentially German man, in the fact that he is xenophobic to the point of not liking houseguests that don’t stop by more than six times a year. Anyone he doesn’t recognize is to be loathed and shipped out of the country in a box labeled, “Return To Sender.”
And that is my dad, in a pretty good mood.

Behind the wheel, my father adds impatience, massive amounts of self-importance, and two tons of V6 powered metal to his repertoire. It is equally frightening and exhilirating riding with the Zeepdaddy. It’s the thrill that, at any point, you will be in an accident where you will witness a one-legged man beating someone with his prosthesis. Exciting doesn’t begin to cover it.

I black out during most of the drive, which is a technique I learned about twenty-five years ago.
I suppose I should mention that I am quite different from the rest of my family. And I don’t mean in that way that says, “I take after my mom’s side and everyone else takes after my dad’s.” At some point in the growth process, I somehow, and as far as I am concerned instantly, became very different from the rest of my family. They are loud, and I like to be contemplative. I like to write poetry and prose, whereas they read the Enquirer as literature and the "not too heady" stuff from the Oprah Book Club. I like talking about my feelings and being tragically romantic; they think it’s beautiful when someone uses the Jumbotron to propose, and the fat encephilitic kids in "Love Is.." tell you all you need to know about amore. They all smoke, and I never have. Why would I have to, when at family gatherings there are never fewer than fifteen cigarettes lit at any point in time? My brothers and sisters are vastly older than I am, so that accounts for most of that. But my nephews and nieces are close enough in age to me that there should be something. But they all have kids, for the most part, and jobs and adult responsibilities. All I have is college, my two not-really-real jobs, and my depressing/exciting existence. There are times when I feel I have the most in common with my dead relatives. It’s weird, but I feel like I don’t have anything to offer them, even though I love all of them so very much. There really isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for them, and that is especially true of my nephews, and double-plus true for my nieces, and super-double-plus true for the grands.
I mean, look at them. Can you blame me?

This is Taylor with her pale Uncle Z. She's the number one reason I got out of the Navy. I have proof of that statement.

This is Kayla, also known as the Ham, or the Hammer of Cute. She's the birthday girl, and the most beautiful girl born on her birthday, ever.

And this is Nicholas, who has a severe throwing arm, a fact his uncle Joe learned as he repeatedly took fastball after fastball directly in the fork from a very dense Nerf ball. Seriously, he can hurl.

Barb did show, and the party was a blast-ee. I might not be much like them, but I do love them.
So we left, and, some indiscriminate time later, I arrived home, blissfully unaware of what my father had done during the drive.
But I must now get ready for a beach party for Gordon. Good ol’ “Mustang Sally,” himself. The deal is that I am going to pick up M at work, then we will Red Line it together to Morse, and the beach there. I totally forgot that Morse is in Rogers Park. Not as dodgy as it once was, it’s still not a place to feel comfy after dark. By the time we get there, everybody is pretty drunk, and none of M’s friends are going to show. This, of course, means no K. Crap. But I get to hang with M, and Gordo, and Eric, who is a very cool individual, and some other cool people and some drunken idiots.
The highlight of the evening: some really fucked up individual (be it booze, weed, crack, whatever; it was anybody’s guess) was dancing to the music that was serving as an interlude to the Movie on the Beach. He was really going strong for almost two hours, dancing to his own private little rhythm. At some point he just collapsed; and there, lying on the ground, he continued his gyrations and footwork, dick first in the dirt. It’s a story I can’t wait to tell my kids just before I warn them of the dangers of abusing controlled substances.
Another highlight. The movie was “March of the Penguins.” Someone walking on the beach asks a guy on a bike, “Hey, what movie is it?”
“’March of the Penguins,’ and it sucks!”
“I can’t follow the story, man. And some dude, I think it’s God or somethin’ keeps talkin’ over the motherfuckin’ thing! It really fuckin’ sucks!”
“Who’s starrin’ in it?”
“Fucked if I know man!”
And they say the art of documentary is unappreciated.
So we wind up back at Gordon and Eric’s place, where I catch a glimpse of Eric’s nude girlfriend when I’m coming out of the bathroom. Now that is how you ingratiate yourself to your host.
I finally sit down, and realize that I am exhausted, I’m bummed about no K present, and I inadvertently start a fight between Gordon and Eric. I decide to head on out; it’s 10:30, and I am on my way home.
The beach party served its purpose. I hung out with Eric and Gordon, and I solved my ambiguity.

On the way home, I realized how much I miss my family. I miss the big get-togethers for the holidays, and the camping trips where everybody showed up. I miss making Nessa laugh, and I miss all the times I never held Taylor, Nicholas and Kayla. I miss being around to hear the stupid shit Barb will say, or what goofy thing Joe will do to amuse everybody. I miss Kiki and Jenny trying to one-up each other on the scale of dumb. Hell, there was a part of me that missed Larry, and I am sure I have more memories of people I sit next to on the train than I do with him. And I definitely miss Bob, and Aunt Sharon, and my Granpa & Gramma.
I've got to do something to make the missing become the remembering.

29 July 2006


Friday. Friday, Friday, Friday! Actually, for me, Friday is more like Sunday, since I have to work on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. But it’s still a mythical day from back when I worked a 0700-1500 shift for a well meaning, but poorly managed, telecommunications contractor. And, of course, the magic of Fridays when you were in school.
But this is a Friday unlike my other Fridays. I don’t work tomorrow, and I had another fun, awesome, long pedagogy discussion with the great, intelligent, well-spoken members of the faculty of a college I won’t name. And went out for a drink (two beers! And I used to be such a tea totaler…or is it teetotaler? Spell check says the latter!) with J afterwards, and then saw the Great Chrome Bean for the first time. I was totally enraptured by that thing! First, I was just grooving on the reflections of the city, and people, then I started to look at the shape and figure out what formula you use to derive it. I know it’s calculus, and I was speculating whether it was a saddle combined with an ellipsoid or an elliptical paraboloid, but then realized that I was missing out on some beautiful music. The orchestra in Millennium Park was playing Bruckner, whom I had never heard before, and J and I took a moment to just listen.
Classical music just has that effect on me. It is so much more emotive than any other musical form. Only in classical music can you find a composer’s ability to make you feel the joy of crying at a funeral, the sadness of a child’s first smile, or the triumph over disappointment and fate when one has been laid at his lowest. I love just about every form of music, except jazz, and I appreciate what those other musical styles bring to the world. But only in classical can you find humor, tragedy, lust, strength and holiness, and all in the same movement.

*Note: it’s not that I hate jazz, it’s just that it puts me to sleep. Seriously, five minutes into any jazz and I will be out like a light. In my music appreciation class, after I fell asleep listening to a selection the professor made, he asked me what kind of music it was. I answered immediately, if a little blearily, jazz. And how did I know that, he wanted to know. “Because I fell asleep,” I said.
And, there’s the whole thing about jazz that it’s like an inside joke. Go to a jazz club, sit down, listen for a bit. Nothing terribly interesting happens, but then the whole crowd smiles, laugh that smug laugh, and either clap or snap their approval. You didn’t hear the band do anything clever or technical, at least you don’t think so, so you ask the person next to you what the guys just did that was so cool. He turns to you, cigarette smoke wafting artistically from his hand as he says, “It’s not what he did, man, it’s what he didn’t do!”
Now fuck that! I am not going to sit here after paying a cover and conforming to a two-drink minimum just to have to pay attention to both what they’re doing and what they should be doing! This is really starting to sound like class work. So, I bounce on jazz. It’s good, and you have to be great to play it, but I listen to music to relax, not study.*

So Jand I took the time to listen to Bruckner build this incredible soundscape, and just chill in the grass by a tree. It was special and peaceful, and the park had a great energy and community going on. J had to leave for her train, and I ran into work to give Lord K the new stuff I had written, and to say hi. He is really enthusiastic about this idea that we’re working on. We are going to have to get an outline running together here.
Friday night: fun with German.
I must go and try to get some sleep; I wound up staying out later than I expected (note the time of the post) and I have to get up later today to see my beautiful grandnieces and my wonderfully mischievous grandnephew.

28 July 2006

It's Friday? Huh...

I am so out of it. I used to never sleep past six in the AM. Today, the only reason I woke up at all was because the Princess needed food, NOW. Since I am up, and I don’t recall making an entry yesterday (that doesn’t mean I didn’t, or didn’t want to), I figured today would be a good day for two. One this morning and one for later.

Weekends don’t mean as much when you’re part-time and they make you work weekends. But this Saturday will be different. It’s my grandniece Taylor’s birthday and it is going to be way too sweet to see her again. She’s reason number one I got out of the Navy.
After that, I am attending a Beach Birthday Party for a guy I met during my second karaoke experience. His name is Gordon, and his rendition of “Mustang Sally” was…well, it left an impression. More like a bruise. Anyway, I can’t even think of the song without thinking of old Gordo, so I figure I had best attend and, maybe not thank him for performing that song, but pass on that he has changed that song forever for me. And work cutie M, and possibly K, will be there, so maybe I can get that all sorted out.

In my limitless search for entertainment, I came across this. I’ve seen similar before, but the inclusion of a lot of science related stuff makes it extra-geeky!

Today is a pedagogy meeting with J from my 489 class. You guys remember; I wrote about the joys of pedagogical discussion before. Good times, especially since I really read the article this time. We’re discussing the g factor, which has nothing to do with the acceleration due to Earth’s gravity, or does it? In a really odd way, it just might. You can read the article here.

German women fucking rock. If you know, then you know; if you don’t, then find out.
Macht schnell!

This is my last weekend with the Princess. After my pedagogy thing, we are so walking to the doggy park in FP. She hasn’t been there since I broke up with the psycho, so I know she misses it. I wish I had a car so I could take her to the unofficial doggie beach. Getting her in the water on hot days like this would make her far too happy.

I need to get serious about the grocery shopping thing. In the immortal words of Chris Cornell, echoed by Eddie Vedder, “I’m goin’ hungry, yea-ee-aa-aahh!” Seriously, I have the Fight Club fridge going on right now, and it is not fun.

Life is getting simpler, bit by bit, and I am liking that.

They are making another Hulk movie, and an Iron Man movie. If they can squeeze out a Captain America movie, then Marvel will have made a movie for every comic book I had a subscription to as a kid. I tell you, right now it’s very good to be a geek.

I think that’s enough of that.

26 July 2006

So you say you want a... Revelution?

I'm getting on the Red Line to ride for two stops, then do the xfer to the Blue and get my shagged ass home, when I see four youngsters at the end of the platform, huddled around something. I walk up and, lo and behold, they are writing on the deck of the platform in chalk! Which I don't mind in the least bit; it's easily cleanable (if the CTA ever thought of cleaning the fucking platforms; more on that later), and it sends a message. I really don't care what the message is: if it's "Eat Dick," so long as it's in chalk, write on, brother!
But they have written a subversive message. Ooohh, angry white teens from the suburbs or the Gold Coast who want change! My favorite flavor of hypocrite. What's even better is their message, which I get to see them write, since no one is willing to go near a group of teens hanging out in this manner on an el platform. Since I plan on being one of the chief authority figures in the teen demographic's collective life (did the whole world just shudder? or was that a guffaw?), I walk up right behind them and read


I let out a very disappointed sigh, which they hear, and turn to look at me guiltily. They stand up, and I shake my head at them. I take the chalk away from Kid A, who is most likely afraid that I will now alert the Proper Authorities.
I look at them all, and then look at their slogan. I say, "Well?" To which Kid B, who is so stoned I am amazed he can speak, says, "Whut?"
I shake my head again, and erase the second "E" with my foot. I then write the "O" that should have been there in the first place and put a semicolon at the end of their statement. Directly beneath their now correct slogan, I write

And yes , I did place a period there.

Kid A says, "What the fuck does that mean?" I then give him a discourse on revolutions led by folks who were illiterate and uneducated that were successful. Can't think of any either, can you? Barbarian hordes sacking cities and destroying Rome doesn't count as a revolution; that is an overthrow. Revolutions need smart people. Just ask Jefferson and Franklin, Marx and Engels, Guevara and Lenin. We had a great discussion after that about what type of revolution they wanted. They want a world where everyone can be happy. "Even the murderous rapists?" I ask. Of course not, the group answers. They plan on being tough on criminals. "And we're not tough enough already?" I ask. And they say no. So I ask them to go into detail about how we could be tougher, and where we are weak. "We let guilty guys go because of technicalities and shit," says Kid A, clearly the brains of the outfit. It's okay, I cried for them too. "You mean, technicalities like the police fucked up on evidence and their investigations?" Kid B nods with me; a spark is starting to glow in his head. He doesn't look comfortable with that, and Kid A is sure as hell not cool with Kid B, and maybe Kid C, agreeing with this old man.
I need to catch my train this time (I let one go during the discussion, but I feel a rumbly in my tumbly and want to get home ASAP), so I tell them to read some Marx and Engels, and read Hamilton's account of the writing of the Constitution, and anything by Guevara, and the history of the Reign of Terror. Then read anything about ethics and philosophy that they can get their hands on. After that, then you can legitimately think about revolution. "With an 'o' this time," my parting shot as I board the train. Just before Foo Fighters kick in, I hear Kid B say, "He's cool for an old guy." Kid C responds, "Yeah, but he's gotta be a teacher or somethin'."
I think I will smile about this for a whole week.

I just realized how much cooler this post would be had I been equipped with a digital camera. I guess it's time to get one, eh?

25 July 2006

Avoidance can be a virtue

Things are calming down a bit, when it comes to my personal time. I now have three whole days off! Two of them are in a row, even! For the faithful few, you all know that, since I started working in Hell (how I will refer to the retail shit hole until I quit, and probably forever after), I have had days off only when requesting them. When I changed my availability (corporate slang for "chain-gang time"), I made it a point to have at least Fridays off. Now, it's Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays! Wow!

Laundry is done, the pooch has been thoroughly walked, I have brainstormed some more on the little story that Lord K and I are working on...Oh, crap! I didn't tell you! Lord K is a fellow soul in Hell, and an exceptional artist. Should he ever get his act together, I will post some of his stuff on this site. He is really good, in a Giger-meets-Tool-on-an-ether-binge kind of way. He gave me this drawing he whipped up sitting behind the register, and something about it triggered a writing response from me. I won't share it with you just yet, since I believe it's bad luck to show something that is only marginal at this point, but it is a lot of fun to do a collaboration with an artist. I always wanted to work with my brother or my nephew, since the both of them are great artists, but nothing ever came to fruition; my brother is lacking ambition, and my nephew and I have too much geography between us.
But it's a dark piece of fantasy, along the lines of R. Scott Bakker, for those in the know (for those not, check him out). As always, I will make an appearance (or the me I would like to be) in the story, and I am writing Lord K in there as well. If I can get near a scanner, maybe we can get you all some sketches from him.
That should do it for now. Sorry, nothing embarrassing has happened to me in the last little while since I wrote to you, my lovely readers. Things have actually been good. I'm still horribly confused as to what to do about the women of this world that are in my life, and I'm still frightened of death, but other than that, things are pretty much cool. Not yet Cool & the Gang, but doing all right besides.

Maybe something mortifyingly emabarrassing, and therefore worth sharing with the Blogosphere, will occur later. If so, you shall be the first media outlet I inform.

21 July 2006

Mass Transit hates me

Just when you think you have things under control, a bus almost hits you.

I’m not being metaphorical here.

I was on my way back from the Good Job, on my bike, listening to Wumpscut. “Mortal Highway” comes on the ol’ iPod, and I start really motoring. It’s that kind of song; if you’re driving, it makes you go faster; if you’re foolin’ around, you get a little dirtier, and if you are me on a bike, then you think you’re Lance Armstrong (but with balls…hi-ooh!). So I’m trying to set the land speed record for Zeepdoggies on crappy bikes when a Pace Bus decides that it needs to occupy the same space that I currently occupy.
Any physicists out there? You explain to the rest of them what this means.
So, I get up on the curb, damn near wreck into a gaggle of old women, barely recover enough to dodge the folks covering their books from their outdoor book sale (if you ever want to guarantee rain, have a book shop do a sidewalk sale; more effective than a whole nation of rain dancers). I swear, all I needed was two guys carrying a pane of glass. Or maybe a fruit vendor carrying a crate of peaches. I then get back out onto the street, where I cut the aforementioned bus off. She then honks her horn at me!
I stop my bike in the middle of the street and call Pace and tell them that the driver of said bus very nearly hit me on my bicycle and she now has the nerve to honk at me.
They’re sending me paperwork that I have to fill out.
Just what in the hell is happening to mass transit? A fire on the Blue Line and no one knows how to properly evacuate except for some passengers and this driver nearly killing me. Let us not forget that there are unexplained delays and filthy stations, trains and buses. I have a near-collision with buses roughly twice a year. I admit to riding aggressively. I love to go fast and fit where I shouldn’t be able to fit. Besides, I hate my bike, and getting hit means I get a new one for free. But I don’t want to get hit by a bus. How can I enjoy my new bike when I’m in traction?
So, no harm done, I made it home in a hurry. All of that adrenaline took at least five minutes off my usual time, after you subtract the time I spent talking to a bureaucrat about the idiot he entrusted with a bus.

Before nearly becoming the world’s most handsome grease spot, I did a lot of picking things up and putting them down again. As the co-workers refer to it, “boy work.” I like manual labor. It is brainless; the body knows how to pick stuff up, so it just does it. You get an honest sweat going on and you get to philosophize. It turns out that the program I am going to run is going to have a Teen Blog aspect, which I think is super cool, since I just got finished with my preliminary study into the blog in the classroom. I was already psyched about the new job, but now I am super-psyched!

So, what’s for dinner?

20 July 2006

Hot & random blather, just the way you like

I'm on the Blue Line monday, going to work, when we stop at Western. We have to wait for five minutes, the driver says, "because of a delay behind us."

(Scooby imitation) Baroo?

I am convinced I heard this wrong, as are most of the rest of us on the train. But ninety seconds later comes this announcement, and I quote: "We apologize for the inconvenience, but we must wait for the delay behind us to clear before continuing. Once the delay behind us is taken care of, we will continue our forward motion."
Now we all want to know just what the fuck is going on back there that would keep us from going forward on clear tracks. Is it something cool? Are we missing a show or something? Two genuinely hot lesbians fooling around by the third rail? Are monkeys involved? The announcement is vague! Tell us, please!
That statement pretty much sums up what is wrong with the CTA. They can't move forward without worrying about what is going on behind them; walking forwards while looking backwards. I used to think the opposite of progress was Congress, but now I know it's the CTA; Can't Take it Anywhere.

If there was any doubt about the baby boomers being the "me generation" or that there was a limit to their self-aggrandizement, I invite you to this Times article. No wonder the hippies sold out, and double no wonder nothing got done except more of the same division and classism with these assholes in charge of the world these last thirty years. Simpering, whining, self-absorbed pricks; the types who elect W on the basis that they'll get a check for $400 and a promise that he won't let your son go queer (your daughter, on the other hand, now that's hot). Thanks to them we get to live in fear and consumerism, with little choice about it.
The greatest generation will be the one coming up. The generation that's cool with homosexuality and stem cell research; the generation that's being taught that the system doesn't care so you'd better care; the generation with all this technology at their disposal without any of the fear of it; the generation that recognized that political correctness is one of the best divisive tools ever created by the upper class; this is going to be one hell of a world when they're done with it.

My summer school is over, and I am sad. It was very fun in both of my classes and I really like both of my professors. One of my papers was about the benefits of blogs in the classroom. It was a random inspiration, brought on by my experience and by this lovely grad student, whom I've met once, but read a hundred times. Thanks to everyone I met in class this summer, you were all fantastic. KIT, everybody! (insert girlie giggle here)

Thanks again to Al, this time for the internet version of half a white Valium, as he put it.
I almost widdled with joy at the the series of pics with the white kittten and the mastiff.

Lately, I have been typing triple letters when I mean to type double. This sucks, because it's just one more typo that I have to police for the rest of my life. They are, in order of greatest occurence: "teh"="the"; "i"=I"; switching the a and u in "because"; and now the triple-double thing. Sheesh. The Navy spent a ton of money so I can commit those typos with alarming regularity. I can just imagine my computer talking with other computers;
"You think your owner is dumb? At least he can spell 'the.'"

I was hoping it would rain more today. I was looking forward to a quasi-Noah experience.
There is only one rendition of the Noah story, and that is told by Eddie Izzard. If you haven't heard it, try and get a listen in. If you have, well then, you already know, dontcha?

I quit the English accent at work a while ago. I never mentioned stopping it. I'm sorry, but it got too taxing mentally. Of course, I didn't swear nearly as much at work as I do now. Maybe I didn't have enough reason to.

Off to lunch is what I am about right now. Hopefully something interesting will happen and you will then be entertained either by my capricious wit or nadir-less stupidity. I'll tell Asshole you say hi.

(que fade up of "Thank You" by The Ohio Players)

19 July 2006

For Susan, from California: Thank You

Today was incredible. A big ol’ dose of what I needed after yesterday, after this weekend; shit, it’s exactly what I needed for friggin’ ever!

Today I had a truly, classically romantic experience. What follows is true and wonderful and bittersweet and will soon be made into a short story, play, then film directed by Mike Nichols, who can’t direct a movie until it’s been directed as a play.

I was having just a shitty day at work. I got yelled at for suggesting facetiously that the greeter should wear sunglasses when it’ so sunny outside. Seriously, I got gang-bitched by three people who took me way too seriously. I should just wear a shirt: CAUTION: BULLSHIT PRESENT. KEEP SARCASM DETECTORS ON AT ALL TIMES.
But folks who take retail that seriously do scare me a lot. It’s clothing, you jerks. I know people who feed the homeless, do missions, teach to disadvantaged kids, and they don’t take themselves as seriously as you do. It’s not rocket science, it’s marketing. And so I jumped into a bit of Bill Hicks at work (click here), which really set the tone for the morning. Telling your boss what they do is evil, no, EVIL, true and deep, causing little girls to vomit so they’ll be thin enough, making men hate themselves because they’re not handsome enough, promoting fashion beyond function, charging too much money for shit made by five year old hands in countries they’ll never see on “E! Wild On…”, making fake boobs as common as real boobs type of EVIL, really gives them perspective on your career in retail.

That perspective is standing on the cliff’s edge, watching you fall.

So I go to lunch, and just get to relax a bit, take a load off, and it does me some good. I get downstairs and see a young woman by the backpacks. I ask her if she needs any help, and she looks at me, right in the eyes, smiles, and says, “Please.”

Ten thousand violins sweep into a crescendo of a note that has never been transcribed.
I feel the wind from an angel’s wing push the hair on the back of my neck.

So, I say, “Okay,” and we start talking about backpacks. And then we’re just talking. We’re talking about being active, and sports, and how much it sucks that her bike is broken. And I’m walking her to the register. She offers me her hand, and says, “I’m Susan, and I’d like to thank you for your help…”
I take her hand, and

Waves beach on rocks crash in my heart.
Real world swims away.
My breath falls away to a great height and I can’t hold her hand enough.
And she’s smiling and looking at me and she is perfect holding my hand.

So I say, “I’m Russ, and helping you was the best thing to happen to me today, Susan.” And she blushes, really blushes and I am so lost right now and she goes to the counter smiling.

I find out from a co-worker that we had been talking for a half-hour. I am going to ask this woman out, I decide. I couldn’t tell if there was a policy against it or not, but fuck that. I don’t want to go to bed tonight hoping that she’ll walk into the store again someday so I can say then what I can say right now. If the store has a policy, then I’m ignoring it; no, I’m breaking it.
I get a pen, and write down my name and both of my phone numbers. She’s done at the register, and she’s walking to the door, and I say, “Excuse me, Susan…” And she stops and turns toward me and she’s smiling already; she has to know what I’m going to do. I can feel the blush all over me. She is lovely, even under the store lights. She’s glowing from her own sun under her skin. She says, “Yes, Russ?” And how happy am I that she remembered my name!

“I was wondering, should you get your bike fixed, if you would like to go for a ride sometime?”

The longest seconds in history.

She smiles and says, “I would love to!
“But I leave for home tomorrow. I’m visiting family here.”
Still hopeful, I ask, “Where’s home?”

We both see the disappointment on our faces.

And we start talking again, and she was an elementary school teacher but is now going into the private sector and thinks it’s amazing that I want to teach, too! And she just keeps getting lovelier as we’re talking and it’s because I’m never going to see her again.
She says, “I wish I’d come in sooner,” which she read in my eyes.

And we say goodbye, still looking at each other.

And today was a great day, because a beautiful woman named Susan was sweet and warm to me, and looked at me in a way that I haven’t been looked at in a while. I don’t know what she saw, but I know how it made me feel.

And today was a great day because I am going to bed free of regret, because I tried, and she did, too.
Thank you, Susan, for sharing your time, and your lovely voice, and your adorable smile with me. Thank you for listening to my prattle about backpacks, and laughing with me. Thank you for letting me look at you.

Thank you Susan, for being the best part of my day.

18 July 2006

Kilted, Stilted, Jilted

If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.

I had a moment today, when I thought I knew someone on the street, and I shouted her name. "Serena!" I said, "It's me, Russ!" And it was not Serena; it was in fact someone who did not appreciate having a guy in a kilt stop her in the middle of the street to see if she was or was not this Serena person.
Unable to pass up an opportunity to make an ass of myself, I said, "Well, just because you're not Serena doesn't mean we can't have a cup of iced tea and some sliced apples, does it?"
With a look that came all the way from the reptile part of her brain, she said, "Yes, it does."

Yeah, that almost left a mark.

And J is taken, apparently in a long term relationship. V thinks that she may be reluctant about the relationship, but I don't wreck a home unless I live in it. And Mh was very sweet, assuaging my disappointment. She was the better of the angels, again.

Went to lunch to celebrate Tony's 70th birthday. It was fun, and I got to participate in a pedagogy discussion with my two summer profs and the head of the department, along with two fellow students and a PhD candidate who also does in-class observations. Rubbing shoulders with giants and not feeling short...

I met Dave's sons. They are so very, very Dutch. And they have that whole "so cute you must gobble them up!" thing going for them. Seeing a man with his kids makes me realize what I'm missing not being a dad.

We ate at this restaurant that Tony and his wife have been going to since the 60's. The owners and the staff all know them. How cool is that? That's what I want. I want a place where my love and I can go and be known to everybody inside the restaurant. When there's a new staff member, they get introduced to us as "the regulars." How sweet is it that they have that history together? There really are living poems in the world, and I got to watch one being written today.
Oh, and Tony, I looked up Wilford Owen. Thanks for the heads up!

I then hung out for a bit with my fellow students, V and A, made some inappropriate comments (don't look so awed) and met A's fiance. A great guy, but he's got to get a shirt that fits him, for Christ's sake. He looks like he's going to a slumber party...

I'm not sure if today was bad, but I can't sleep, which is usually an indicator of crapitude. I guess today wouldn't suck so much if I hadn't had such a great Thursday night and Friday afternoon. But after this weekend, I needed a big lift of some sort. I was right on the edge of one all day, but I kept falling short. But I got to be around people who are happy, and that counts for something.

17 July 2006

It's the Little Rules...

Nicotine is the smell
of my new rage.
If you light that,
I want to say,
on this stop,
I will
kill you.
And I could
I so could
my hands are itching
to drive your head into the first
No Smoking/Fumar Prohibido sign
that I can find.

I don’t share my cancers with you;
I keep my poisons to myself.

Do you see me
showing you the things I see
that make me beg for blindness?
How the world’s constant barrage
of its message of nothing
and nothing and nothing and
make me listen to my music
so loudly
that my ears ring for hours,
for days,
for my life?
Do I share the scent of the air
that makes my stomach
pull itself free of my body,
purging while I gag?

This life gives me tumors
and inoperable.
No chemo
and no soft bed for the last
choking breath;
that you’ll have.
I just get to sit here
while you shit here
and share your death with you
and keep mine all mine.

It's how societies treat the little rules, the ones that are written for the concern of others, that tell you about the societies. How they're followed and how they're enforced.

I can't figure out what is more frustrating: the guy smoking while LEANING AGAINST THE POST with the above sign on it, or the four CTA workers who have to be reminded that it's against the fucking law that Captain Cancer is smoking.

Of course, I may also be angry about something else, classically displacing any aggression or anxiety on an outside agent.
Still, the sign says "No Smoking." Asshole.

15 July 2006

Pedagogy A-Go-Go

Yesterday I went to a meeting of some fellow educators, these others are actually working in the field, and we discussed pedagogy. Pedagogy is best thought of as the dogma of teaching; the research, practices, philosophies and studies designed to make the classroom a better place for learning. It can be quite fun, but it can be, and is often, pedantic and very idealistic. Anyway, it’s really fun to talk about if you’re a young teacher, and the one who invited you to the discussion is hot.
We discussed Maxine Greene’s “The Dialectic of Freedom,” a book that I won’t bore you with the details. Just know that Greene is very smart, loves to name drop, and has some great ideas that she doesn’t always follow through on. I guess that’s on purpose, because then it leads you to decide how to follow through. Or maybe she’s just lazy.
But there we were, in a classroom discussing the literature of the field. A real, honest-to-God discussion, like I imagined them to be in college. It was like Lisa’s trip to the local college campus in that one “Simpsons.” I love my other classes, in that I have great professors. But there have been times when the discussion between students was sorely lacking. It’s like we wanted to distract ourselves. Sometimes this was out of the boredom, ennui if you will, that we suffered in the class. Mostly it’s because nobody did the reading except for the pedagogy geeks in the class (all right, me and a few others), and everyone else was just saying whatever they thought teaching should be, and then they just said whatever.
But this was real college talk. References made to the classics; holes that we found in the arguments; points made, rebutted, remade, redefined; jargon everywhere. It was so much fun that I haven’t stopped smiling. It was the best two hours I spent in a classroom after school. Except for that one time when Sharon and I snuck into the Chem Tech lab at night. Well, let’s just say that they were both the best for very different reasons.

14 July 2006

Karaoke Macht Frei

I did not anticipate 13 July 2006 to go down as it did. Seven months ago, I expected to be on the way to someplace like Lake Geneva for a romantic birthday celebration. Up until yesterday, I expected to be all wallowing and depressed-like. It wound up being the most fun I’ve had outside my circle of friends since the Navy.
A co-worker in Hell invited we fellow sufferers to her birthday celebration, which was to be at Friar Tuck’s, where there would be karaoke. I had several reservations about this. First off, music is a faith, and karaoke is a cult. Secondly, Friar Tuck’s is in the heart of where M and I would hang out. And, it was going to be on her birthday. So I was going to go back to where I hung out with my ex on her birthday. Yeah, you’re getting the creeps too, right? Has this ever happened to you? If it has, you know why I was just going to back out.
But the co-worker called to see if I was going, and being totally whipped by the female population as a whole, I said “Yes’m. I’ll be there.” I probably don’t have to mention that she’s cute, do I?
So I leave, and take the Brown Line to get to Wellington instead of the Red Line to get to Belmont. The Red Line is a lot faster to Belmont than the Brown is to Wellington, for those not in the know. But Red Line-Belmont is also “How Your Hero Got to M’s Place,” so we decided to skip that little train wreck down memory lane and choose a wholly different route. But I underestimated how much walking M and I did around there, since everything triggered a memory that hurt. I round the corner of Wellington and Broadway, across the street from Bobtail, a great little sundae shop that we frequented. I decided, fuck it, this is going to happen all night. I’m going home. But I see the co-worker outside the bar, and she has a cute friend with her, K, and I decide that there is only one way to go, and that is to embarrass the shit out of myself in front of cute ladies and total strangers. You know, as per usual.
I had some drinks, a lot of great conversations, sang a Nickelback song to roaring applause, hung out with another cool co-worker D (who rocks an Otis Redding tune better than any white man has a right to), met several pretty girls who were drunk enough to find me interesting and/or attractive, and… (drum roll, please)….

I didn’t think about M once.

For the first time in seventeen months, she was not the first thing on my mind. I smiled not because of a memory that is now bittersweet, but because of the joy of the moment, of the instant it happened, with no reference to anything I have been through over the last two years.
It was a long train ride home, and the Princess had licked a hole in the rug (don’t underestimate the power of the Princess’s tongue; it has knocked down large adults), but I slept soundly, dreamed deeply, and woke up smiling.
I take back most of the bad stuff I have said about karaoke. For last night, karaoke was liberation. Karaoke made me free.

12 July 2006

Not Just Beat; Beaten

What a day. I feel like poo. Grade D poo, not safe even for fertilizer use. I got into work just a little late, and my boss gives me crap about clocking in before putting my stuff away. As I am putting my stuff away, I mention that I didn’t hear her bemoan me making a $400 sale after I had punched out on Monday. Forty-two seconds after I punched in, I was ready for work. Good thing she wasted air on a snide comment, otherwise I couldn’t be so smugly superior when I made it to the little Useless Meeting we have just before we go to the killing floor four minutes before her.
So I find out during the UM that I must attend a “Credit Workshop” where I will learn to open more credit card accounts. Because the reason I have so few credit cards has nothing to do with the fact that people just don’t want more credit debt, or that the APR starts at 25%, or that most of the folks I help get only what they need and get it from the sale rack, or that (for some reason unbeknownst to me) I attract the foreign customers without US addresses. No, it is because I suck at the credit game, and a half hour on Saturday morning role-playing credit card pimping is going to improve that. From 9-9:30 I will be at work, being punished because I don’t try and force credit down a guy’s throat when he’s buying socks. Because I don’t offer a credit card to a customer I didn’t help. Because I want my customers to have a good experience with shopping, one that doesn’t feel like I am trying to get them something they don’t want or using them to further my own bullshit agenda at this store.
All day I was thinking about my punishment, mostly because it affects more than me. I have the Princess this month. And for me to be at work, I must leave her at eight. I get out of work at eight. She will be home, if the universe and the CTA are lined up with me sympathetically, for thirteen hours alone. I get to come home to a puddle of piss and a pile of shit and a puppy that can’t decide whether to be happy or ashamed. If that doesn’t inspire pity, let me add that I will have achy toes.

In the words of Aristotle: “Fuck retail.”

Phun part Deux

The search for the new pic continues! Here are the two latest.

I dig this one because it reminds me of the whole Brian Dennehey ala "Cocoon" or Cable from Marvel.

Here's another possible image; this being the one showing my third eye.

Long live the Lens Flare render on Photoshop! What photographers spend forever learning to avoid is now used by jerks like me to be all sci-fi lookin'!

Later, gator!

Old and Bold on the Quad

It's interesting being the old man in the college class. Age gives you prespective, doesn't it? As well as randomly sore joints and the inability to trust a fart.
But I digress. Being over thrity and in college is great. I truly don't see how the young 'uns can handle it. You remember what it was like, those of you that did it. Every day came shrink-wrapped in a brand new crisis, be it a paper that remains unwritten, or dirty laundry that says you're not paying your half of the rent. Professors who just...don't...care abound! Emergencies galore!
But not for us old folks. No, we don't have emergencies on college campuses. Sure, there are trials and tribulations, but nothing I would call an emergency. Of course, I may be a bit jaded. After you've fought a fire onboard a submarine, most everything else in life doesn't seem like an emergency.
But still, I pity the youngsters. This is, after all, their first taste of real adulthood. Making a choice and really having to deal with the consequences on your own is scary, especially if you've never done it before. So, to all those my age and older, next time you see a young, stressed college student, give her or him a break. And a stiff drink. If it's a her (or him, whatever creams your Twinkie), maybe a backrub would be nice, too.

Also, when the post comes along that has me bitching about the whiny little babies running around the campus like mad, rabid chickens, please have the decency to temporarily forget about this little post.

07 July 2006

Phun with Photoshop

I've been playing around with the idea that my pic needs some work. So, here is what I've come up with so far. Tell me what you all think.

This is the one I call Hulk Smash!"And this is "Hulk Smash! as painted by Alex Ross." See, it looks like it was painted...by...Alex Ross...

06 July 2006

Happy Stuff Right in your Duff!

This post is for my classmates, who have been subjected to read some really dreary stuff from me over the last weeks. I can write happy, and not just a melancholy happy, but really happy. And for my dear readers, who have suffered enough of my pathetic caterwauling and angst-driven monologue. On with the happy!

With trembling hands
I worship at your altar.
I seek the wisdom buried
In embraces.

I pray, kneeling,
To your divinity
That can only be inside you.
I whisper, my tongue
Moistened by the shape of your name.

You know my heart
Like I know your face
When it's smiling, looking down on me
When the ritual is complete.

Humble before you,
I beg for your invocation
To let me serve you,
As passionately as a prophet.

One more for fun!

A Dream of a Memory of the Beach

I dreamed I had a memory of a day-
Fine sand glitters
on your body, scattering
the suns kiss.
Two radios sing
two songs,
neither the children hear as they play,
drenched in the surf,
making sand castles and joyous squeals.

This scene,
this moment,
is too perfect to last.
It should all be gone now.
But you still lay there,
and from where I sit
I see the surf
race to your firmament.
I am still contented
and warm, and the sun still kisses you
as I only dream to.

What the hey! Here comes another!

Little Gaia

Mother loves you
and blossoms full
under your feet.

Your dancing
leads the sky
to dampen
the earth with
joyous tears.

The sun, our father
has given his glory
to you. The light
in your eyes and
the gold in your hair,
the fire in your heart,
all stem from his blessings.

There we are then! See, all that stuff is happy; I was happy when I wrote them, and the subjects were (and are) happy about them.

...And knowing is half the battle!

So I don’t have cable.

Okay, now that those of you who’ve fallen from your seats have gotten back up, I will continue.

So I don’t have cable, which means that if I don’t want to read or study or do something vaguely enriching, I must either play a video game or watch a DVD. So I’m watching GI Joe: The Movie, amazed that I was amazed at the animation and depth of story. Say what you will about Transformers: The Movie, at least they had the balls to kill Optimus Prime, not to mention getting Orson Welles, Leonard Nimoy and Judd Nelson to do voice acting. What did they do for GI Joe? Put Duke in a coma (which he recovers from immediately following the victory over Cobra), and then get Don Johnson to voice the new plucky hero, and Burgess Meredith is the big heavy. No comparison. I mean, Judd Nelson vs. Don Johnson? I love “Miami Vice”, but, “Judd Nelson is fuckin’ harsh” (Mewes, Dogma)! GI Joe had the better toys, but Transformers had the better movie.
Anywhoozle, I notice on the menu the single greatest extra ever put on a DVD. No, it’s not commentary by the guy who did Snake Eyes’ voice (for the non-geek, he’s a mute), but all of the GI Joe public service announcements! Holy crap! Every single one!
So, as I am watching them, I see the one about fainting. Yes, there is one about fainting. There’s one for stereotyping, planning ahead, hell, there’s even one for when lightning strikes water! Name a potential disaster a child may find her/his way into, and GI Joe has a PSA for it.
Back to fainting. So, this boy faints in a mall, and Trip-Wire (he’s the expert on anti-personnel mines [detection] and explosives) shows up, and tells the kids to elevate Bobby’s feet, loosen his clothing, and get a cool, damp towel to mop his brow. This, he explains, is what you should do whenever anybody faints.
Here’s the weird part. It’s even weirder than the idea that the expert on fainting is the anti-personnel explosives expert. About eighteen months ago, a young lady fainted while I was working at the Triton Tutoring Center. As we lay her on the ground, I gave the same speech, damn near line for line! The only part I didn’t get to say, and looking back on it now I really wish I had the opportunity, was, “And knowing is half the battle!” To which the whole TTC could have chorused “G-I-JOOOEE!” and I would have smiled for a week.

G.I. Joe’s PSA’s saved the day. And they have obviously helped me out in so many other ways. For instance, I have never tried to jump my bike over a fallen power line. I’ve never pulled a fire alarm for fun. And I haven’t suffocated in an abandoned refrigerator, or any refrigerator for that matter. And the whole fainting episode written above. Face it, GI Joe may be the greatest safety-learning tool to ever exist on the planet.
And it was always fun listening to the characters speaking in the regional dialects of the USA!
They need to bring back the GI Joe PSA’s. Except update them for the generation who grew up learning from them. They could have Lifeline, the pacifist hippie medic, talking about the dangers of unprotected sex. “Nobody has freckles on their ass, Billy! Use a condom or your dick will look like a cauliflower!” Or Rock n’ Roll can inform us on the hazards of hearing loss. His name is Rock n' Roll and he is a machine gunner, after all.
*Side note: the action figure for Rock n’ Roll was modeled after my health teacher, Dave Splan. No shit. I learned about allergic reactions from a GI Joe. Tell me that ain’t cool!*
Yeah, the PSA’s could be very handy for me. Shipwreck, the squid in his dungarees and bell-bottoms who sounds a little like Jack Nicholson, could have warned me about dating girls who’ve never been in serious relationships before. “Her insecurities will end the romance, and you’ll be left with a broken heart; and that's something even the sea can't wash away!” To which I could reply, "Not to mention
my happiness capsized and my future dream of being a dad sidelined…Thanks Shipwreck, now I know.”

And knowing is half the battle.

04 July 2006

Happy Co-dependence Day!

Happy 4th of July!!

Happy Independence Day!!

Has anyone lost a finger yet?! What the fuck, America? I count on you to give me no less than five incidences per hour where someone loses an appendage thanks to the celebrations of this, our remembrance of the liberation from insane taxing practices and near tyrannical leadership from a mad, power hungry dictator.

We did get liberated from that right? At least for a little while, right?

Back to the point. Which was…let me read here…injuries. Yes. Right. So, why do people hold on to fireworks for so long? I don’t get that. “Look here, the bottle rocket is really fizzing now! Should I let go?” And to that I say, “Hell no, Billy Bob! You got, what, ten fingers? You can spare a couple!”
So far, no one in my neighborhood has lost a digit. No ambulances have been around, anyway. But the folks around here love fireworks. They don’t even wait for the Fourth. Hell, no! We have fireworks every weekend, and that’s not counting the gunfire! So they’re well practiced. No losing of fingers here, just hearing.

But I keep hoping for the ‘whistle…POP!’ and then, “Oh, God, my (insert digit or sensory organ here)!”

The Princess, however; she isn’t into the fireworks thing. No, right now she is trying to hide under the computer desk, which is giving her trouble because she’s put on some weight since she’s last been under there, and it’s a lot like putting ten pounds of poo into a nine pound bag. Which is just exciting her more, and making the desire to get under there even more pressing. We should go for a walk so she can chill out, or chase a squirrel. She never tires of that.

So I wish you all a happy 4th of July. Being a bit of a patriot, I see this day as a great time to think about what our forefathers were doing. Some folks like to think the whole DoI and Constitution were vague, and that they wrote it so purposefully. I see no vagaries, nor any gray area. To me, it’s as clear as day. I get it. I probably see it as clear since I don’t choose to exploit it. I let it protect me, not excuse me from my fears and insecurities.
That was a shot to all gun nuts. Here’s another: no gun will solve the penis problem. I don’t care what caliber your round is. It’s okay to be small; just get really good at head! See, problem solved! Women come, your ego is sated, and no one was in the least bit of danger of accidentally blowing a limb off. Learn to love your dick and you will find that the guns you own are useless.
Maybe someday I will rant about the whole “separation of church and state” thing. But today, thanks to all the explosions, it’s all about “right to bear arms IN AN ORGANIZED MILITIA.” And no, your little collection of “too bad they’re cans not coons” shooting buddies doesn’t count as a militia. Organized idiots are not militias. They’re baseball teams. And NASCAR fans. But not militias. A militia is registered with the state it resides in, and must maintain a roster that has members that have completed a background check and training in firearm safety and maintenance. Of course, I could be wrong. That is what the FBI says a militia is. But what do they know about the law? They’re just federal cops…
We’d all be a lot better off if we actually read, and paid attention to, the single government document that has the greatest influence on your life.

So, back to the 4th. I do love this holiday, and I really enjoy the fireworks displays. To be honest, my love for them has diminished somewhat. I used to share fireworks with someone very special to me, and now that she is gone, they aren’t as much fun. I keep missing how sincere her oohs and aahs sounded when the pretty ones would go off. Like too much in this world, and too often, I am reminded of what I had and what I lost. Something reminds me of her, or Bob, or my friends from the Philly, or my close relatives: people dead, people leaving and being left. I wonder sometimes if I define my life by what I’ve lost. It does seem that way, doesn’t it? Most likely to you, dear readers of my bloggy-blog thing, since that is what is most often what I write about. But hey, this one started out funny, didn’t it? I had some real momentum going there, a couple of nasty little barbs, then maudlin. All this self pity, what will I do with you? Does anybody want some? I have some to spare!

Ahh, fuck it! Let’s all just hate the gun nuts! I wonder what Dick Cheney is doing on the 4th? I know what that banker he shot is doing: hiding. And not wearing orange, because that sure didn’t work last time!

02 July 2006

How I Conquered Cynicism (sorta)

"Only the broken-hearted idealist can become a cynic.” – Mark Clifton

Is this quote a truth? Are cynics just idealists who have seen the world the realists describe? I haven’t felt really hopeful about things in a long while. Cynicism isn’t easy, but it is terribly seductive, especially if you’re angry or sad. It’s a tease on the path to positivity. But I now have the Dream that I am pursuing. It’s the only one that I haven’t failed to make come true. I want to teach, and in this pursuit I have found some of that idealism that I abandoned. Not all of it: I have seen too much of the world to return to my old dreams and hopes for us all. But those echoes of fellowship and Truth (note the capital-T) are finding new voices in the studies of pedagogies and psychologies. I know the truth of the situation. More students today are failing, falling fast into apathy; are testing poorly and are seeking their way in a country that wants to see them educated but refuses to pay for it, that can’t wait for them to grow up yet still ceaselessly shelters them. I know that I won’t find many students like me, who want to learn to harness the power of words and numbers and make it their power. I won’t meet the student who wants to be a walking encyclopedia every day, or even every year. Most of my kids will be apathetic and alliterate, abandoned and alone. And I won’t reach them, no matter how hard I try. They will show up, be bored for most of the time, and do just enough to get by.
So why do it? Why struggle with this burden, this martyrdom of teaching? Because I don’t want it to be that way, and I will fight for it to be so much more than that. I will show those kids that, at the very least, I care for them when they’re in my classroom. I will show them that I have not given up on them, and that I have not abandoned them. I want so much to be for them whom those greatest of teachers were to me.
There is a big part of me that is still that kid who was so afraid of the world, of his home, of himself, that he had no choice but to seek some safe place, somewhere he could be warm and protected and where he could try to be happy. I found it in school, in 9th period with the most noble man I’ve met, P. I learned to love learning, thanks to him. I wasn’t a freak because I wanted to be smart; I was special. I found my safe place, the hearth for my heart. I found a hero that wasn’t tragic, that wasn’t flawed, that wasn’t also my worst enemy. I know he’s a man and is therefore subject to the flaws of all men. But then, as the kid that I was, he was incorruptible. He was the first adult I met that admitted he was wrong about something. He was great when I needed greatness.
I want to be there for my students the way P was there for me. I hope that I don’t fail; I hope that I can follow his example. I hope I can be him to the me that I meet.
So, am I a cynic? If that definition that Clifton gives us is true, then yes. I have had my heart broken (along with my idealism) many, many times, by the reality of the world, by lovers, by friends and family. I have fallen from grace, if grace is the belief that things will be better someday. But now I know a way where I can try to make the world better, even if it’s incrementally. I am sure that my heart will be broken again, but at least I have a real dream that will have a real affect, if it is only one person at a time. And that is so much more than what I thought I could have before.

I will save my cynicism for where it belongs, in retail.