Flying cross country for a job interview can be a bit stressful, even when you know that it’s a long shot.
Add in that I had to “play hooky” for a couple of days from AATT-whatever. (The interview was before I surprised my boss with my resignation…)
That was my situation.
The interview was in Portland. I was living and working in Sarasota. I was flying out of Tampa. Not only were the connections better out of TPA, but on a day when I had “called in sick” I also thought there would less chance of bumping into someone I knew.
You know what they say about best laid plans….
It was an early Thursday morning flight.
The waiting area at the gate was packed.
And there sat my boss…on the same flight to O’Hare as me!!
What? The. Fuck!?!?
I didn’t panic….not too much, anyway.
I thought about changing my flights, but for several reasons that wouldn’t work….primarily because the interview spanned two days, starting with a dinner a couple of hours after scheduled touchdown in PDX.
For the next 20 minutes, until boarding, I concocted my story in case I ended up needing one. I don’t think it woulda been believable, trying to explain calling in sick and then catching a 6am flight.
Fortunately I never needed to stammer and stutter while spewing obvious bullshit.
The boss was flying first class, which meant that I had to walk right past him to get to my seat. I had flown on the same plane with him enough times to know that he usually went to work as soon as he got into his seat.
That’s what he was doing this morning. He had his head down, a stack of printed out e-mails on the tray, a pen in his hand.
He was focused.
I managed to sneak by him on my way to my seat several rows from the back of the plane.
I was holding my breath, with my fingers crossed, as I got past him and into coach as quickly as I could.
When the plane landed in Chicago I was in no hurry to get into the terminal.
I guess I musta been living right.
Or more likely: I was just very, very lucky.
At our weekly one-on-one the following Monday, his first question was “How are you feeling?”
“I was really nauseous last Thursday morning, but I was feeling better by later in the day. And I still had a bit of ‘nervous stomach’ on Friday.”
BTW, a couple of months later, after some follow-up interviews…and after I had given my notice at AATT-w…I got the job in Portland.
It’s been 43 days since June 27 and my last post to this blog. On August 1, 2017 I saw a great show by Ryan Adams at The Pageant in St. Louis. The first four lines of the 3rd song of the evening pretty much describes my state of mind since my 6/27/17 post:
“I can’t talk
My mind is so blank
So I’m going for a walk
I’ve got nothing left to say…”
That’s a Lie. My mind has not been blank. I’ve got lots to say….
During those 43 days there was a road trip. A good one. A very good one.
There were concerts. Very, very good ones. Santana; Shovels and Rope; Avett Brothers; Wood Brothers; Tedeschi Trucks Band; Ryan Adams. (All of them provided my journal with a list of Desert Island Disk lists….)
There were several rant-inducing events since 6/27/17:
(1) Someone broke into my car and stole my fishing tackle…which included lures that had moved with me to Orygun in 1976. Fuck Me!
(2) There was the invasion by Japanese Beetles….hungry, horny pests. Fuckers.
(3)There was a visit by the apartment’s Rent-a-Cop, followed up by an official “Notice of Noise Violation” by management! Come on…who listens to Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen on a late Friday afternoon without cranking it up?!? Fuck me Twice!
All of the above gave rise to quite a few posts on Facebook. At least 70 statuses, many of which included pictures.
And while I didn’t hit my journal’s daily target of 500 words during the 43 days, it was close.
Then there are the items that got added to the “stories” folder on my laptop.
There has been writing…my mind hasn’t been blank for the past month-and-a-half.
It has been cluttered with the crazy shit coming out of the nation’s capitol. I’ve generally avoided being overtly political in this space. But it’s been hard, especially with the blatant LIES, total incompetence, and authoritarian audacities coming from 45 and his cretinous cabinet.
As much as I’d like to go on a long political rant here and now, I’m going to resist the urge….
I will say this though: read “Giant of the Senate” by Al Franken. This is from Page 373:
Also running through my head, and on repeat in the apartment and in the car, has been Jason Isbell’s latest album. One song in particular.
I have a Love/Hate relationship with “If we were vampires” from “The Nashville Sound.”
Especially with these six lines:
“It’s knowing that this can’t go on forever
Likely one of us will have to spend some days alone
Maybe we’ll get forty years together
But one day I’ll be gone or one day you’ll be gone
If we were vampires and death was a joke
We’d go out on the sidewalk and smoke…”
I’ve been in love with 2 people in my life.
I was married to one of them for almost 40 years. We weren’t “in love” for a good portion of that time. That’s history. Lots of it foggy. I hope she is happy.
I live with the second person. She’s may partner on this journey. Shelly and I will be having our five-year “meet-aversary” in a couple of months.
We’re too old to expect 40 years together.
One day I’ll be gone or she’ll be gone.
Eight more lines from a song from Isbell’s latest album are closer to the truth than the four from above by Ryan Adams.
These are damned near dead on:
“I broke a promise to myself
Ride the Throttle til the wheels came off
Burn out like a Molotov
In the night sky
I broke a promise to myself
Made a couple to a brown eyed girl
Who rode with me through the mean ol’ world
Never Say Die..”
Very few of the people I ran with in my 20s would have given me a chance to have a lot of birthdays ending in zero. I have one in 13 months. It’s a wonder I made it to 30.
The throttle has been pushed to the floor a time or two. OK…maybe I am a little burned out. That’s for another day…
Both of my loves have been brown-eyed girls.
I’m sure there were some promises made.
Some were broken.
Some might be.
This one won’t be: Never say die. Resist the bull shit. Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.
I think I’ll go out on the balcony and smoke.
And then take a walk.
Be. Just Be.
For many years I’ve been telling anyone who would listen: “I wanta die like Leroy Nichols.”
And then I have to explain who he was, and how he died. Leroy died the way that almost everyone wants to go…before they become just a memory. Or worse, a drooling doofus. People wanta die quickly, and with very little pain. That’s no surprise, eh?
I’ve told lots of people about Leroy’s death. I don’t know how many I’ve told…probably over 100 folks. Nobody has a story to tell just like Leroy’s, but lots of people knew someone who died suddenly.
I don’t know how long ago I started talking with others about the way he died. These were typically upbeat, and not in the least bit morbid, conversations. Really.
I’m not even sure how long ago his heart failed him. I’m sure it was at least 10, or maybe even 15, years ago. He did it the right way though.
The version in mind for me varies a bit from Leroy’s, but first the background.
Who was Leroy? He was the brother of two of my aunts by marriage. He had two sisters, Doris and Charlotte. My Mom had brothers named Sterl and Joe. Sterl married Doris; Joe married Charlotte; i.e. my Mom’s brothers married Leroy’s sisters.
I had other connections to Leroy. He taught high school math at Farmington HS. My brother and sister graduated from there and I student taught in the math department a very long time ago. Unfortunately, for eight weeks I was assigned to a control freak named Mr. Ragland. I’m sure it would have been a much better experience (for me and for the kids in the classes) if Leroy had been my mentor. He was a good teacher, far better than the ragman.
He also attended a church for awhile that my Dad started. I was married in that little Baptist church, but I only lived in that town a short time during its existence. I doubt that Leroy and I were there at the same service a dozen times.
How did he die? Stopped at the first traffic light in town, waiting for the light to change. The light turned green and Leroy was turning white.
My version varies from his and is driven by wherever I’m living. The primary difference is where I’d like to be when my heart stops, but it is always in a car and at an intersection. A busy intersection.
My current fantasy takes place at the corner of South Campbell and Republic Road. Friday at about 4:30 in the afternoon. I’m the third car back, stopped at the light after watching a couple of cretins go through on red…
The car stereo is cranked up to something a bit raucous. Maybe it’s Kings of Leon singing “Revelry.” (Somehow it seems fitting that I should be listening to some preacher’s kids rocking on when the time comes….)
The traffic light changes. The cars in front and beside me take off. My little Corolla is frozen in place with Caleb Followill belting out “So the time we shared it was precious to me, All the while I was dreaming of revelry, Dreaming of revelry….”
The cars behind me start honking. Springfield is the buckle of the bible belt but that doesn’t keep the Baptists following me from spewing hate and screaming profanities as they miss the light because my foreign car has them blocked.
People are honking and screaming about my rock-and-roll, and about my corolla not rolling. They are pissed off.
Finally someone gets out of their car and comes up to mine. The CD is on to another KOL song: “I just wanted to know if I could go home, Been rambling in day after day, And everyone says I don’t know. So don’t knock it…”
But the angry people at the busy intersection aren’t paying any attention to the music whatsoever. They’re mad as they approach my car. “Why the hell aren’t you moving that piece of crap?!? You hippies and your loud music!!”
As soon as they get to my car their emotions go from anger to guilt. I’m already turning gray. I’m a goner. Slam, bam, dead.
“I was screaming and cussing the poor old fella, and he was dying right there in front of me. Oh, that poor, poor man…”
People pissed off, then feeling awful. It makes me laugh to think about it. Literally. (Will I be laughing afterwards? That’s a thought or two for another time…)
A quick, painless death. No lingering illness. No huge outlay for healthcare month after month after month. No family and friends watching me wither and die. And on top of it I get to jerk some people’s chains, play with their emotions…and give them a story of their own. Perfect.
Only one person got cranky when I told him my fatalistic fantasy, which only recently got more specific regarding the music playing. Every-time I’ve told it, including telling it to Leroy’s sisters (my two aunts), it’s always been me in the car, with the sound system cranked up on a Friday afternoon at a busy intersection in the town where I was getting my mail.
This perpetually angry man’s reply to my death dream: “Nobody gets to decide how they’re going to die!!” As usual, facts escape and don’t matter to this guy. Someone commits suicide every 13 minutes in the US. It’s the 10th leading cause of death in the country. Over 40,000 people a year in America decide how they’re going to die; over half of them using a gun.
While I’ve been sharing this fantasy with people for years I honestly have never thought about death all that much. But a recent rare hospital stay because of pulmonary embolisms of unknown origin does make one think a bit.
What I think is this. It came too early for Leroy. And Leroy got lucky.
1. almost as far back as i can remember, but certainly since my sophomore year in high school in olathe, i have been a fairly religious reader of a daily paper. it has almost always been a morning paper. there have been some times over the years when financial circumstances did not allow for a daily paper. but most of my adult life i have read a paper every day. the daily paper, and the bill for the subscription, were delivered to the same address that the usps had on file for me.
2. that changed in late 2011 when i moved into the abbey apartments in southeast springfield missouri. i was no longer paying for delivery of the daily paper, and it was no longer being delivered to my door. every morning a paper gets delivered to the apartment building. for some idiotic reason, they won’t deliver it to the building’s office since it doesn’t have an apartment number. instead they place it in front of A111, which is just around the corner and no more than 25 feet from the office. it is supposed to be a communal paper, available on one of the tables in the lobby. monday thru saturday, when the office is open, there is also free coffee in the lobby. not great coffee. not a “manly” cup like i prefer. but it is hot and almost black.
3. there have been issues with the paper at the abbey. i’m not talking about the quality of the paper. the paper itself is not the issue, at least not the issue at hand. admittedly, the news-leader is a pretty puny rag and doesn’t compare to the last daily that I paid for: it was called the “st. petersburg times” then….now it’s the “tampa times.” before that i subscribed to the oregonian. both papers are head and shoulders better than the gannet paper that is supposed to be on the table in the lobby of the abbey each day.
the operative word in this case is “supposed.”
during the four years that i’ve lived at the abbey (has it really been that long??), there have been newspaper thieves. sometimes they only take a single section. often, it’s the section that includes the tv listings. sometimes they take just the sports. other times, often on sunday when nobody is in the office, the entire paper gets swiped. on good days, not a page is missing.
in all cases, when a single section or the entire paper is not there: It Pisses Me Off!!
twice i have written anonymous notes to newspaper nappers. the first time was in jan of 2014, and is a story for another day. it was the much longer of the 2 notes.
this particular story is about a christmas eve, 2015 note. it was only 13 words and was written after 2 days when not a single section of the paper made it to a table in the lobby. i wasn’t the only one who was cranky about the daily paper being swiped….there are a number of other residents who are regular readers.
The 12/24/15 Note
after Shelly had gone to bed on Christmas Eve, i composed a short, nasty note…written LARGE. the first line using 66 point type, followed by 3 lines at 54 point, and the last line at 80 point…for emphasis. all lines BOLD, with selective underlining.
after i printed out the single page, i went on the quest to find the scotch tape. several expletives and several minutes later i finally located it. if i had found the tape quicker, what follows would have had a very different ending.
it was just after 11 pm and i had just taped down the 4th corner of my direct and accusatory note when i heard footsteps. i had been caught in the act! if i had found the tape quicker, the 20-something fellow wouldn’t have looked down at the piece of paper in front of apartment A111 and read:
STOP STEALING The Daily Paper It’s for ALL Residents You Thieving, Inconsiderate ASSHOLE!!!
Him: “a paper gets delivered here every morning.”
Me: “i know. that’s why i’m leaving this note.”
Him: “Ok…but a paper gets delivered here every morning.”
Me: “exactly. for the last 2 or 3 days it hasn’t been making into the lobby for residents to read. i’ve lived here awhile and i’ve had it up to here with people stealing the paper.”
Him: “stealing? i’ve just been putting it in my recycling.”
Then it hit me!!
Me (sorta sheepishly): “you live in this apartment?”
Me: “did you just move in? and do you leave the apartment early in the morning?”
Him: “yes, this week. i do head out before 7… when i pick it up and toss it.”
Me: “Oh…wow. they never told you that it is the lobby paper?”
Him: “nobody said anything to me about the paper.”
Me: “let me throw this note away…you don’t seem like an asshole!”
the above dialog is not the exact words that we exchanged…but the last 6 are!! it is a conversation that i wish i had on tape. (lately i find myself thinking that fairly often, especially during some of my walk-and-talks.)
so after i rambled for a few minutes, introducing myself to Saeed and shaking his hand, i wished him Merry Christmas. but before i walked away i told him about the news leader’s crazy delivery rules. i told him that i like the people in the office, but that they should have told him that the lobby paper would be delivered in front of his door. i told him that he could just leave it lying there in front of A111 or put it on a table in the lobby. i told him about the paper pilferers. i told him…again…that he didn’t seem like an asshole, and that I felt like one. we both laughed.
as i walked through the lobby and up the stairs, shaking my head and laughing, i might have been thinking: “things happen, that’s all they ever do.” But I’m pretty sure it was this:
I just spent 2 hours and 25 minutes trying to get tickets to see Adele in either Chicago or Denver.
She’s playing 3 nights in the Windy City, so i had three tabs open…one for each night. I didn’t even get a countdown like with Springsteen last week. Just a spinning wheel…an interminable spinning wheel. After 35 minutes of that ugly little wheel, I was able to attempt to place an order. That’s when the fun began….NOT.
I got a phrase that I was to enter to confirm that i was person and not a bot. Sometimes these phrases are hard to read. Not this time…they were easy. But every time, it said my entry didn’t match…and displayed another phrase. In a word: Bullshit!
After numerous failed attempts, with me matching the phrase but being told I hadn’t matched, they hit me with a bunch of images. I was to pick all of the ones that included street signs.
I “passed”…and was promptly told that all seats were gone.
The seats in Denver were not available thru Ticketmaster. I was hoping this was a good deal, since Ticketmaster is the Devil.
I learned the the ticket ordering system for the Pepsi Center in Denver is Satan’s sibling.
Their system puts you in a queue that “helps you get up-to-the-minute information regarding your event availability while keeping your place in line.” It includes a progress bar with some little guy walking from left to right. Actually, he was walking in place. Glaciers move quicker than this image did.
After 1 hour and 22 minutes I was informed that only single tickets were available. Just for grins I thought I’d try to order a single ticket. I was curious as to what single tickets remained. If they offered me an assigned seat, I would just pass.
No single seats available either.
Last week I checked out Stub Hub as soon as my attempt to get Springsteen tickets was a bust. I didn’t waste my time with that exercise today, as I was pretty sure what my response would be: Scalpers are scum.
Note: This Document is rated MA (L) and is intended for mature audiences only; it may include coarse or crude language.
When I finally decided to “put myself out there” via this blog, I had to decide on a Title and a tagline. I chose “Things happen” for a Title and “I can’t think about it now” for the tagline. I’ll explain how I decided on those in a minute…
My first choice for a title was: “Fuck me!” I thought there was a good chance that wordpress wouldn’t allow that, so I never even tested it out to see if it would be accepted.
Why “Fuck me!”?
If you have to ask, all I can say is “well…fuck me!”…but I’ll tell you anyway.
A few years ago I tried to get a couple of friends to set up a Cuss Jar Contest. We could never agree on the rules.
My proposed rules had a sliding scale of fines, e.g. all of George Carlin’s 7 words wouldn’t have the same penalty. Shit, piss and tits would only cost you a nickle. The other 4 words would each cost you a quarter. If you wrapped “Jesus Christ” or “God damn”around any variation of “fuck” it would cost you 50 cents. The list of prohibited words wasn’t limited to the famous 7 and the wrapped words.
I proposed that each of us in the contest could pick one word or phrase that didn’t cost us. (This could NOT be one of the ‘wrapped’ phrases…)
I wanted my freebie to be Fuck Me!
We could never agree on the rules, the fine structure, or the concept of a free pass for each of us for a word or phrase. The contest never happened. Fuck Me!
I do use the phrase selectively, oftentimes I’m all alone when it spills out. I do consider the audience when others are around, but there are just so many situations that the phrase seems absolutely appropriate.
E.g. the internet is down and you really need to google something; you fill up the tank and notice that the station across the street is 6 cents a gallon cheaper; you turn the TV on and realize that the show you wanted to watch is just ending; you unpack the groceries and realize that you forgot to get the one thing that you really needed from the store; a guy on the team you’re rooting for misses both free throws in the final minute; you go downstairs to the lobby to read the daily paper and ol’ Darrel, the 92 year old who never learned how to share, just started reading; your friends, who cuss more than you do, won’t agree to a cuss jar contest. Well…Fuck Me!
I could go on and on. But I won’t. Here’s how I settled on a Title and tagline for my blog.
I listen to lots of music. My favorite songs and/or artists are often chocen primarily because of the lyrics; sometimes it’s because of the line from American Bandstand: “it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.” (Nevermind that I don’t dance….).
Sometimes a song will get stuck in my head, often because of the lyrics or the beat…or both, and I listen to it again and again. The past 10 days or so, a couple of songs from Dawes’ latest album “All your favorite bands” have been on repeat, the first one more for the lyrics and the second one more for the beat, but a bit of both for each tune.
The first song is titled “Things Happen.” (Duh….what else would it be. Fuck me!)
“Let’s make a list of all the things the world has put you through
Let’s raise a glass to all the people you’re not speaking to
I don’t know what else that you wanted me to say to you
That’s all they ever do”
Maybe these lyrics stick with me because of one especially narcissistic person from my past, who has a growing list of people he’s not speaking to because they won’t join his pity party…and kiss his ring. But most likely it’s because of the song’s lyrics and existential perspective…I like the beat too!
Three guesses as to the title of the second tune. (And don’t force me to use a “wrapped” expletive!!)
“If you’re just asking for a reason
Reasons are everywhere you look…
…It’s just that time just keeps on slipping through my fingers
But I can’t think about it now”
This song doesn’t make me think about anyone in particular….other than myself. But it does make me think…and get up on my feet.
Those two songs just seemed to have happened for me at the right time.
When Shelly and I were discussing Titles for my blog we laughed until we almost cried at the idea of calling it “Fuck me!” And we even decided how each post should end if that had been the title. Yep…you got it.