Thursday, September 25, 2003

Well...Friday is the Big Day. Everything is packed except the pair of denim shorts currently in the washing machine, I'm printing out directions to our hotel, Catherine is wrapping the wedding present for Anne and Eric, and I just ate a chocolate chip cookie. Can't think of anything else I need to do...damn, I'm probably missing something.

I really hate to fly, always have, always will. But I have to admit, I'm looking forward to having an excuse to do absolutely nothing except sleep for a few hours. I am so tired. I sat down after work this afternoon to talk to the cats, and fell asleep before I could even think about not doing so. I'd probably still be crashed out if Catherine hadn't called me mid-afternoon to ask me...something...what? Can't remember, I was asleep at the time.

Okay. I'm going to take a shower, clear Catherine's stuff off the bed and crash, not to move again until 4 a.m. tomorrow morning. Then I am going to drag my sorry self up to Indy, get on a plane, sleep through the entire flight to Oregon, and wake refreshed and rejuvenated when we touch down in Portland. Enjoy a night in 'burbs with the 'rents and get a good night's sleep.

Then I'm going to fly to Sacramento, drive to Chico, and...then what? Worry for a couple hours? Doesn't matter, 'cause after that, I'm going to spend the rest of the weekend having a great time, no worries at all. This is going to be good.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

And all is good.

Tommy stopped me at work this morning with the ever-so-ominous "can I talk to you in my office for a few minutes?" question. Damn, busted for chewing out the delivery driver, I knew it. But he actually wanted to apologize to *me* instead of me apologizing to him for my unprofessional behavior. He said he was sorry the driver behaved like a jerk, and that if it happened again, to let him know and he'd do something about it. In fact, he offered to formally write up the incident (yeah, like I want a statement in my personnel record that reads, "and then I told him to quit being such a fucking asshole and stormed out the cooler swearing like a sailor!") so if it comes up in the future, I'll have the documentation on my side. Anyway, I told him I wished I'd used a little less profanity, or even just walked away, and he just laughed and said I did the right thing.

I can tell I'm not in my own world--there were plenty of people to cuss out at my other jobs, but I would have been fired in a heartbeat if I'd actually done it. Here, everything is all, "Susan kicks ass!"

Really, the sign that I'm not in my own world is in how my co-workers handle their paychecks. Today was payday, and during break, I sat through a discussion on where the best place in town is to get checks cashed, who charges the lowest fee? These guys are living in such precarious circumstances--financially and otherwise--that they don't even have bank accounts. Not enough money to warrant a checking account. Well, one of the punk rock boys has a checking account "but that's just so [he] can use the ATM card as a second ID for buying alcohol." At least we're not there yet (gotta go find some real wood to knock on).

Monday, September 22, 2003

It was a nice evening, hot air balloon weather (saw three of them), but I had to cut my run short because it was getting dark. Too bad, because it started raining right when I got home, and it would have been nice to finish up in the wet. I probably could have kept up, even in the dark, since there were a lot of people around at the park--I mean, people who weren't drug dealers--but I hate running through the woods when I can't see. Probably perfectly safe, but I guess I don't really want to test that assumption.

If I don't get lazy while I'm out of town, I'll be back up to 60-minute runs by the end of the month. Right. Don't get lazy when you go on vacation. Nice goal, too bad it never works out that way.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

The fleet.

A drakkar sails the glassy seas of our CD player.
drakkar model

Pourqoui-pas? spends some time in dry dock.
pourquoi-pas? model

The Pamir rolls atop the wild blue ocean of our washing machine.
pamir model

Friday, September 19, 2003 I told one of the delivery drivers at work to fuck off. I don't think I've ever told anyone in my life to fuck off, especially no one at work. So, that was a first. Actually, I said a lot more than just fuck off, but I can't remember all the profanity verbatim. He came into the dough room and asked who was prime rolling, and I said I was, and he went off on how my trays were supposed be straightened by the time he came to pick them up. Jay jumped up and said he'd show me how to do it--I'm still in training after all, and I don't have everything down yet--but the driver kept ragging on me while Jay was helping me. He was all "You just cost everyone three and a half cents in production bonus because we had to stop and do this," and that was so wrong, because I'm still in training and my hours don't count against his bonus. He should wish they did, because I've been doing a good job at prime rolling. I started to point that out to him, and he said, "Well, I expect the rest of the trays to be downstacked by the time I get back from my delivery run," as if he was my boss or supervisor or anyone besides a fucking delivery driver.

So, I let him have it. Told him to fuck off, quit being such a fucking jerk, blah blah blah, and walked out of the walk-in cooler more or less yelling, "Jesus Fucking Christ!" And the guys in the dough room thought that was pretty damn funny. Rory said, "The thing you gotta know, Susan, is that he's an asshole, you just gotta get used to it." And my answer was, "He can be an asshole all he wants, but not around me because I'm not getting paid enough to put up with that crap. He wants to be an asshole, he can take it somewhere else."

I now have a solid reputation with the punk rock boys. Jay said he'd put five bucks on me in a fight against anyone,and that he thought it was the right move, if I'd just kept quiet and walked out, the driver would have just nagged me about something else the next time. And Rory said now everyone knows--don't fuck with Susan, 'cause she'll kick your ass.

Once I calmed down, I was really embarrassed, I mean, how immature can you get, cussing out a delivery driver in the cooler? Not to mention the fact that this is exactly how you lose a job. But on the other hand, he won't mess with me ever again. And he did come back later in the afternoon and apologize, saying he was just joking. I accepted that lie and his apology, and we're all good now. Just don't fuck with me, man.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

You know you're a dork when...

you find yourself in the public library searching for a book by size, because you know you can fit a paperback into the side pocket of your work shorts, so hey, why let those fifteen minute breaks go to waste when you could be reading? It's the first time I've ever scanned bookshelves for reading material strictly based on size. This one is too tall, this one is too thick, this one is too wide. Finally ended up w/a Penguin reprint of something or other. Probably going to get me beat up by the punk rock kids.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Catherine just came in and told me I look like a heroin addict, bruises all down my forearm from loading fiberglass dough trays. It may be this look will help me fit in at the office.
It took me two hours today to slice 41 pounds of tomatoes. I don't know what optimal tomato slicing speed is, but that seems pretty slow to me.

I feel like I'm working in the middle of a sociology experiment. We've got the twenty-something year old losers, who probably could work outside of food service if they could just control their binge drinking. One of them promised he was going to start his night out with nine beers--at least--at the Texas Roadhouse, and I found myself trying to calculate it all out: how many hours do you have to work at 6.25/hour to pay for the first nine beers? Not to mention the other half case he's apparently going to try and down at home.

Then there's the teenager who barely made it through high school (her own admission). If it hadn't been for that art class, her favorite class in which she got a D, she never would have made it through high school at all. The big drama of the weekend is that she noticed the blades of the vegetable chopper were still rotating, so she stuck her hand inside the machine--to stop the blades? I don't know, but that finger will probably never be the same.

Then there's the musician who reminds me of a character off Jerry Seinfeld. Stuck in this job as part of his alcohol and drug rehab program, apparently. He can't really play with the band anymore, because he isn't allowed in bars, the program prohibits it. He lost his old job because it required a driving license, which he lost due to a DUI (or more? how many do you need before they take your license away?) So, here he is, trying to make the kids stop listening to punk rock and listen to Buddy Guy in the dough room instead.

A couple of recent immigrants. One is from Nicaragua via Chicago, his wife is a student. He seems pretty nice, at least he has a nice smile. The other one is--I'm guessing based on the last name--from Afghanistan. I can't figure him out, half the time he seems belligerent, half the time he seems jokey, and I just don't know him well enough to really know how to take him.

A few I really haven't talked to enough yet. Hometown boy with a cross around his neck, about to celebrate his six-month anniversary with his girlfriend. She's plays the clarinet in marching band at one of the high schools. Another guy, apparently also a musician, who just seems really down on his luck, no money, no car, not really from around here. Another hometown girl who seems like she started working here as something to do, and maybe just got trapped.

And the boss, perpetual motion kind of guy, too much coffee, but I like him. Things definitely run better when he's around. He left the twenty-somethings in charge for two days this past week, and nothing really went right the entire he was gone.

I could do with a little less punk rock music, maybe a few pounds fewer tomatoes, definitely a few more dollars an hour, but otherwise, it's okay. It's only temporary, right?

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Really, if my parents didn't want me to turn into a liberal, socialist radical, they shouldn't have let me watch Sesame Street when I was a kid.

This evening we went to see Sonia Manzano (a.k.a. "Maria" from Sesame Street) speak on campus. When I was five or six, my greatest goal in life was to move in with Susan and Gordon, and then marry Maria. She was always hanging out with that David guy, though.

So, her talk was called "The Importance of Hispanic Role Models," and I suppose there was nothing too unexpected in it. Mostly a narrative of growing up in the Bronx as a first generation transplant from Puerto Rico, lacking role models in the mass media, setting out to become one via Sesame Street. I'm guessing a lot of the people in the auditorium were born after 1980, so they probably got a bit of a history lesson. All good stuff.

One thing that surprised me was her admission that she had just recently realized there were other "types" of Latina/o groups in the U.S. She gave the example of talking to a woman on the phone whose last name was Gutiérrez. This woman had a Texan accent, and Manzano assumed she was anglo, married to someone of Mexican descent. Then when she met this woman--and all her friends who also had Texan accents and preferred line dancing to the merengue--she was quite shocked to find they were of Mexican descent. So, now she's interested in learning more about the diversity of the Latino population in the U.S. I'm sorry but how could she just be discovering this? I shouldn't hold her to a higher standard just because she's Latina, I guess, it's like people thinking I should know everything about queer theory just because I'm a dyke,

Anyway, it just got me thinking about how very urban she was--and also how urban Sesame Street is. The mission statement of Sesame Street states more or less that the show is intended to give underprivileged ethnic minority children a leg up in life, helping prepare them for school by teaching them things with examples from their own environment, using people who reflect their ethnic backgrounds. I never really thought about it as a 5-year-old, but looking at the clips she showed, and listening to her, it just struck me that the whole endeavor is aimed at the inner city. Well, obviously, it's a New York themed show, but it suddenly seemed so insular to me. It sounds like I'm criticizing Sonia Manzano and the show, but I'm not really, I was just really struck by the fact that she didn't realize their were other ways to be Latina, and that there is a huge rural population still not reflected on the show. Something for me to think about for a few days, I guess.

It was a good talk, especially the monster video clips (!), but it actually ended on a bit of a tense and disappointing note. Someone in the audience asked during the Q&A if there were ever going to be any gay characters, and her answer was an emphatic "No." She went on to say that they only dealt with children's issues. They deal with AIDS because a lot of children have AIDS, but children just aren't dealing with sexuality issues. I was turning to Catherine to say, "My god, where is this woman from?" when someone else in the audience raised his hand and said, "Well, I'm a little confused. You've been saying that your show is all about showing people role models, and I meet gay people every day who were hurt the same way you were, not seeing positive role models on TV. And anyway, sexuality aside, don't you think there are a lot of children out there who have gay parents, and would benefit from seeing something like that on Sesame Street?" She admitted he had a point, but still said it wouldn't be happening. And the Q&A session came to an end.

I guess it's safe to say Maria and I won't be getting married anytime soon.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

I just really liked The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio. Of the three books I've read so far this weekend, it turned out to the be the one that made my mind sit still for awhile. If Willa Cather had told this story, it would have been flat and bleak and cold, but instead it turned into something more celebratory and kind when told by the author.

I finished Lucy Jane Bledsoe's this wild silence last night--so far past my bedtime it wasn't funny. I like Bledsoe's work, she has a firm style of writing, and I enjoyed Working Parts. In the end, however, I ended up feeling a little disappointed that the plot wasn't a little more opaque. I felt almost as if I had already read a synopsis of the story and knew what was going to happen and how it ended before I even started reading.

The jury is still out on Wrong Beach Island. The title put me off initially--too intentionally clever. I think it's hard to just jump into the middle of a series, all the character development tends to happen in the first one or two books, and if you don't take the time to go back and read them, everything feels one-dimensional. I never bought the relationship between Andy and Meg...oh, excuse me, *Maggie* and I generally just thought she wasn't very clever. Another case of feeling like I'd read the plot line before actually reading the book.

On to the next book. Yes, I know I should be doing homework.
David asks the hardest questions.

I was fantastically happy to hear his voice on the phone yesterday. David! Where the hell have you been? It's like he came back from New Zealand and then just disappeared into a rain cloud out in Oregon somewhere. Best friends aren't supposed to do that. I feel like I've been one phone number, one address behind him for the past two years, and I'd all but given up on him at this point.

No matter. Totally doesn't matter. I'm just happy to have him alive and well and back in my life. And it's like this. He apologizes for not staying in touch: "Well, Susanna, I was going to call you, but I wanted to surprise you and tell you I passed the Oregon bar, but then I had to postpone taking it until July, and I just heard, I passed!" My god, I'm happy for him. I've never seen anyone work so hard for so long. Someone should write a book about his guy, he never gives up. And he never gets bitter. If someone builds a wall in front of him, he just steps back and considers, "Hmm..I could go over it, around it, or through it. Which would be most efficient?" and then he does it. I would have just taken my toys and gone home. Not David. He is just an amazing, amazing man. Oh, look....I'm gushing. "But wait, Susanna," he continues, "that's not all! When I passed the bar, the firm at which I've been working offered me a partnership." Fantastico! And he's living on an 11-acre ranch outside Eugene. And he has a girlfriend. And life is just perfect.

And man, I'm pleased. Pleased that everything is working out for him, but mostly just pleased to hear his voice again. I'd forgotten how much I loved him.

But I'll admit, after celebrating his success, I almost just shined one on when he asked me how things had been gong. I could have told him it couldn't be better, that I'm happier than I've ever been. But it never pays to lie to your lawyer, does it? So, I told him the truth. That I've been feeling a little unsteady. That I just feel like I should be handling everything better. That my career is a disaster area, my father is dying, I've been feeling desperately short on time ever since Mark died. That I felt like I should be doing better than this. People cope with more than this every day, but why can't I?

David has not changed one bit. He can transition from lawyer to friend to therapist in the space of a second. He said a lot of stuff last night, but probably the most important was, "Susanna, if you look at where we started 20 years ago, and where we are tonight, you will be forced to admit you have done an amazing job with your life." There was more to his speech than that--because I always take some convincing--but he's essentially right. The difference between me at Point A and me at Point B is astounding, something that he could see and I easily lose sight of. And that's one of the benefits of long-term friendships, you can look at your history through someone else's eyes, someone that's traveled most of the way with you.

Somewhere in this conversation, though, he asked me about how I felt about the way I lived my life. Did I have any regrets? David, show me someone who says they have no regrets about their life, and I'll show you a liar. Okay, we all have regrets, but what's your biggest regret?

I can only stall for so long before he makes me answer a question. The saddest part about the whole thing, though, was I didn't have to think about it at all, I was just buying time in hopes of not having to answer, not because I needed to filter through my life. But I eventually had to answer.

David, my biggest regret in life is that I arrived at my adulthood already damaged. When we met, when we could have just been enjoying a spectacular friendship, it was already too late for me. Wouldn't it have been great if you, me and Stepan could have just hung out and had a blast? Wouldn't it have been great if you two didn't have to babysit me all the time? My biggest regret is that by the time I figured out how to put myself back together and become a whole person, my youth was already gone, and none of us ever got to enjoy it. I can't get that time back, and I hate that. I am happy with what I've managed since, but I can't help but feel regret that I didn't work it all out sooner, and that I had to work it out at all.

I am fortunate that David saw a future in our friendship. Actually, I'm fortunate that he saw any type of future for me at all, because in many ways it was his hard work that made my future happen. And all I can say is thanks, and I love you, and I'm very glad to have you back in my life.
Damn, I was right. It *was* a good day.
Today...felt like a good day.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Thanks for the jam session, sir.

Friday, September 12, 2003

I can't find a good way to write this out. Paragraph form just isn't working for me right now.

  • I find that doing small, detailed work--like drafting or building models--keeps me distracted. I've dealt with myself long enough that I know I can usually hang on until my depression passes by engaging in some project full of multiple small tasks.
  • I just finished one of these projects, a scale model of the Finnish barque Pamir. It's sitting on the top of the bookshelf nearest the stamp table in our dining room.
  • I started reading this month's Outside Magazine this afternoon. There's an article in it about William Stark, written by his son, Peter Stark.
  • The first column of the article informs me that Bill Stark sailed around the Horn on the Pamir. His book about this adventure is due out in November.
  • What are the odds that I would set a model of the Pamir on the shelf, only to pick up a magazine with an article about someone who actually sailed on the Pamir?
  • However, the Pamir aside, Peter's article is mostly how someone like his father, a diehard adventurer with a seemingly unquenchable thirst for life, ends up killing himself one morning in Aspen.
  • Faced with such a small yet immensely intriguing coincidence of the boat, I felt like I should do something with it: Read the article, figure out what Bill Stark was thinking when he jumped to his death, figure out how to avoid ending up in the same place.
  • But I'm nothing like him. Nothing like him at all. Not a manic depressive, not an old man facing the fact he can no longer climb mountains, not an adventurous-type person to begin with.
  • Peter makes a stab at relating manic-depressive behavior with extreme sports, like climbing Everest, but I can't see myself as that type of person.
  • I'm the type that builds models of ships, Bill Stark was the kind who sailed the ships. Big difference.
  • So, although I wanted to see some sort of divine intervention going on here, wanted to read some big meaning into that little plastic boat sitting on the shelf, I can't.
  • And that means I still have to find my own answers.
  • Damn.

Monday, September 08, 2003

I think it's pretty much going to be okay. I worked my first day with One World today, and I didn't die. I've just got to keep focusing on the paycheck and quit mumbling to myself about how I spent 6 years in graduate school just to end up back at the kitchen job I had before I wasted all that time and money on an apparently useless education. Anyway, I'm still willing to believe this is all temporary, that some day, someone will hire me in my chosen field. In the meantime, I can pound out bread dough with the best of them.

Paying the bills, baby. It's all about paying the bills.
Catherine wanted a coffee table to go with her lawn chairs. Unfortunately, all I had was an old door, half rotten and full of bugs. Chased the bugs out, hardened the rotten wood w/some left over siding repair goop I used on the chairs, attached four old balusters I found at an architectural salvage shop, and slapped on some green barn paint. Voila, a coffee table.

door makes reasonable table

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Ohhhh...I've been challenged. We're going to go to Walmart and get a red bouncy ball, and then we're going to go over to the local elementary school, and then I'm going to trounce my wife at two-square. Says me. sports. The WNBA is fine, but I definitely prefer college athletics to professional. Went to watch IU play volleyball this evening (IU lost in the tiebreak, fifth game), just nice to be back in the gym. Except for that same stupid guy from last year, sitting in the first row hassling the refs. At a volleyball game! Who heckles refs at a volleyball game. Such a loser.

And then we splurged and went to Steak'n'Shake. Wild night on the town, we were out until AFTER ELEVEN O'CLOCK! Well, that is late, considering I had to get up early for Habitat this morning. Still, you know you're old when going out for a peach milkshake after dark seems like a crazy idea.

Catherine snagged a miniature volleyball at the game, and when we got home, we played two-square in the living room. I can say with some authority that I am the reigning squareball champion in our household. Next time I'm putting money on our game.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

I feel like I've been hoarding information, hiding my life behind my back so no one will see. I've written a thousand pages of autobiography in my head these past two weeks, none of which will make it out to the public domain.
Well. What would someone have to offer me before I'd relocate to Sheridan, Wyoming? Maybe I should try and find out.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Statics is incredibly fucking hard. Catherine is always telling me not to let my head explode when I'm out running. She should really be telling me to watch my tension level when I'm trying to resolve vector forces. That's when the real danger appears.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

That cookie thing worked pretty well, I might have to make some more.

I knew I was in trouble last week when I couldn't drum. Sit in front of the set, stare at it for a few minutes, then leave the room. That's bad news. Drumming is one of the few--if not the only--things I do just because I like to do it. I might not be really great at practicing or doing skills work, but I'm always ready to make noise. And if I can't do it, that's a warning sign. Then, too, after I talk with Bobby, I'm usually all about coming home and laying down the backbeat, but on Friday, I could barely stand to be there listening to him, even though he was writing out exactly what I said I wanted, some Motown fills. So what's the problem, then?

Still not drumming. I did read a drumming book, though, and I'm thinking about listening to a CD or two, so maybe that's progress.

Yeah, last night I read Mickey Hart's Drumming on the Edge of Magic: A Journey into the Spirit of Percussion. I'm not exactly its intended audience. I couldn't be spiritual if someone pried open my mouth and dumped a gallon of homemade spirit pop down my throat. I'm not a Dead Head, and can only hold a reasonably informed conversation on the Grateful Dead because I lived in Eugene, Oregon, for too many years. But it was a good read, nonetheless, and almost made me turn on some music (not quite).

I think to read it, to try and really understand what the author's trying to say, you have to turn off your scholarly mind. You can't start criticizing his use of anthropological texts and ethnographic records. Well, you could, but you'd be missing the point. Mickey is trying, I think, to figure out if that vibration that rests right below your sternum, always there but only provoked into showing itself when it's taunted by a percussive instrument, has any meaning at all. His method of discovery, I think, is secondary. And I think it's the quest, not the final answer, that feeds his spirit.

And here's the thing. I've had Mickey Hart's Planet Drum Supralingua CD for years--five years, something like that. But I never play it. I played it once when I got it, and then a couple of times fairly recently, but never the entire way through. As stupid as it sounds, I never listen to it because I've always felt like it needed more than I could give to it. It's exactly like my Rhythm Quest CD--if you can't put on headphones, turn off the lights, and sit still and really listen, there's no point, because if you can't do that, you're really and truly missing *the* point. I'm too superficial a listener, too amateurish a musician, to do either of those discs justice, so there they sit, gathering dust in the CD rack, waiting for me to reach a point of aural enlightenment so I can enjoy them.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

After spending the large part of the last 48 hours in bed--or rather, moving from the bed to the chair to the couch back to the bed again in an endless cycle--I got up and made a batch of chocolate chip cookies with Catherine. It seemed like kind of an optimistic thing to do. I mean, if you're not going to hang around to eat the cookies, why even bother making them? Terribly life affirming.

Of the dozen or so books I've finished in the last week, Population: 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time was one of the two or three I actually liked. Basic story: Michael Perry returns to his home town after years away, and joins the volunteer fire department. His reintroduction to his home town is colored by the fact that he re-acquaints himself with his old haunts and neighbors primarily through emergency response calls. Mostly well written, a little choppy because it wasn't written from front to back, but instead as separate essays. A little heavy in the town history section, but other than, a pretty good read.

It made me feel better about the people who picked up my dad when he had a heart attack. I've always wondered what they thought, how they treated him, what they said when it looked like my dad wasn't going to make it, if they thought they had the power to pull him through, or if they knew deep down that he was going to pass over in the medivac helicopter. And I've wondered what it must have been like for everyone who worked on Mark, who was a volunteer fire fighter himself. Your beeper goes off, you look at the address of the emergency, and what do you think? What happens when you get there and you not only recognize the dead guy, but you went to high school with him, and probably went on a fire call with him a couple days before? Mr. Perry might not have given me the answers to my specific questions, but he actually came pretty damn close.

And I was thinking about it all again when the two fire fighters were tromping around the house this evening (the carbon monoxide detector in our bedroom went off). Emergency people are kind of scary, suddenly there's this big burst of testosterone in your house, boots banging on the floor, voices ten miles deeper than our own bouncing on the walls. Several years ago when I had to take an ambulance ride, I felt as if my house had been invaded, all these huge guys with loud feet, moving our furniture, demanding information from me, totally overwhelming my life, and even though they were there to fix me, I hated them, every single one of them (and undoubtedly told them so). But tonight, I was watching these two guys, listening to them simultaneously contradict each other and reassure us, I felt a little more benevolent about the whole rescue guy situation. After they were done checking our air, they were just going to go back to the station, write it up, maybe eat a few of the cookies Catherine gave them, and this would become only some small moment in their work life, a non-emergency that they probably wouldn't remember a month from now. And that felt kind of good, knowing it was just something insignificant and normal and not even very interesting, not even worth writing a book about.