On A Lighter Note

I have very few truly good childhood memories with my father, unfortunately, my parents divorced when I was two, but I was reminded today of one of them.

When I was a boy, my father used to take us to the drive-in movies,  frequently to something  completely inappropriate for my age.  He took us to see Gotcha, a movie  about a Cold War era college student who gets wrapped up in a spy game while on vacation in France and trying to lose his virginity to an exotic woman.  From this movie, I learned that cool guys wear parachute pants and play paintball in the real world.  I also saw my first pair of boobies.  I was nine.

He took us to a double feature of Dragnet and The Untouchables.  I remember sitting and watching Dragnet, and there was a “morning after” scene when Tom  Hanks’ character rolls away from the woman in his bed and picks up a box on the  night stand only to realize it is empty and hearing my Dad say, “oops.”  I didn’t understand why.  It wasn’t until years later that I realized it was a condom box.  The Untouchables is a violent movie about Mob gangs with a lot of guns and violence.  I was twelve.

I also remember going to a double feature of Bright Lights, Big City and Colors.  Bright Lights, Big City was a Michael J Fox movie so how bad could it be?  All I remember is Alex P Keaton running around the screen looking for his next fix. Colors is a movie about a couple of cops working in East Los Angeles, dealing with gangs.  The movies tag line was “70,000 gang members. One million guns. Two cops.”  I learned from this movie that real men say “fuck” a lot and that they have sex with the bad guy’s sister, or girlfriend, or something.  I also learned that when the real man has sex with the bad guy’s sister or girlfriend or something, he is supposed to be on top and the sheet is supposed to be just barely high enough to conceal ass crack.  Also, more boobies.  I was still twelve.

It might sound like these are bad memories when I clearly stated this was a good  memory.  They’re really not bad memories.  I sit here now, more than twenty years removed from these events and can clearly see what poor judgment my father had, but I enjoyed the movies well enough and clearly they had an impact on me for me to remember them so vividly all these years later…  Oh, wait…

But there is more to these memories.  What I remember so fondly, is not the  movies we saw.  There were others as this was something we did on a regular  basis, but it is everything else about the outings that has stuck with me.

This is not exactly what Jack looked like, but it gives you an idea.

Long before I was even  born, my father bought a  Dodge Ram pick-up  truck.  It was, as I  remember it, a monster of a vehicle (though I was  young and small and my recollection is probably  relative).

The truck was two-tone  blue with Navy Blue on  top and Baby Blue on the  sides.  Very apropos to the 1970’s I’d say.  For reasons I do not recall, and may  not have ever been aware, the truck had a name and its name was “Jack”.  I called it “Jack-Jack” long before The Incredibles was ever conceived of.  Jack had an  extended cab with inward facing fold down jump seats in the back, sliding window  in the rear windshield and a full length bed.

Our homemade pizzas looked much better than this!

One of our favorite “family” activities was to make  homemade pizzas.  We would buy crust mix and spaghetti sauce and big  bags of Mozzarella  cheese.  We’d buy  pepperonis and Canadian  bacon and black olives,  mushrooms and green  peppers.  We’d chop up the vegetables and mix  the dough, spread it out onto rectangular pans.  I’d pour the sauce (usually too much and Dad would have to scoop some back up) and spread it around on the dough.  Dad would generously sprinkle the cheese on top of the sauce and Erin,  always the meticulous one, would place the toppings, always with the edges of the pepperonis touching each other (she never wanted to have anything to do with the  Canadian bacon.)  We’d toss the vegetables on top (again, leaving the olives off  some of the pizza because Erin doesn’t like “little rubber washers” and they’d  bake.  I remember these pizzas being one of my favorite things to do at my Dad’s  house.

The great thing about movie night was we combined two of my favorite things.  As a “family” we’d shop at the store for the pizza ingredients.  As a “family” we’d build these masterpieces and bake them to perfection.  Then Dad would haul a huge ice chest out of the garage and while my step-mother, Georgia, would fill it with ice  and cans of cold soda, cut the pizza and cover it with foil and pack paper plates  and napkins and what ever else in a paper grocery sack, Dad would gather the  folding lawn chairs and toss them in the back of the truck while Erin and I gathered pillows and blankets.

We’d all climb into Jack.  I remember hating riding in the back of Jack, even then I was claustrophobic.  Dad would fold the vinyl covered seat forward and I’d climb up and over and into the jump seat with Erin on the other side, each of us holding a  warm delicious smelling pizza in our lap unable to dive in.  Dad and Georgia would climb into the front seat and we’d be on our way.

I remember in the early days, drive-in movies were still fairly popular and we’d have to head toward the back of the lot to park the monster pick-up.  In later years, we often got to park near the front of the lot.  I always enjoyed that; I was too young to recognize it for the demise of the industry that it was.  Dad would park Jack, facing away from the huge wall the movies would be projected upon and we’d set up  shop.  Dad and Georgia sat together in lounge chairs while Erin and I sat in upright chairs on the tail gate.  We’d settle into our seats, situate the blankets and dig into the pizza and sodas.

I remember sitting in those chairs chowing down on those pizzas and watching the movies with such excitement.  I always knew I’d never make it to the end.  We made these outings in the summer time when “dusk” doesn’t happen until around  9:00 at night.  By the time the second movie started at or after 11:00, there was no way I was going to last till it was over, and I rarely did, but it was fun all the same.

There is a company that runs a couple drive-ins in the bay area, one in Concord  and one in San Jose, and they’re having a special event tonight; free entrance to  the lot, therefore, free movies.  They’re even showing movies I haven’t seen before,  “Up” and “Night at the Museum 2”.  I’d love to go, I’d love to recreate a little of my childhood.  I’d love to take Little along, but alas, I do not have time to make a  pizza. I do not have access to a pick-up truck and a car or the back of my SUV just would not be the same.  And, it’s a school night.  Oh and Little has to go to  school tomorrow, too.

That home-made pizza sure sounds good though…  Hmmm.

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I’m OK.

Negativity sucks!  I mean everyone is negative sometimes and it’s to be expected and it’s OK, but constant negativity sucks.  I have a lot of negativity in my life, much of which I can’t control, so I try to control it wherever I can.

My work environment really sucks.  There are five people in my office suite and for the most part we all dislike and barely tolerate each other.  There’s constant negativity, often thinly veiled, sometimes completely blatant.  I try not to take it personally.  I try not to let it effect me.  I try not to participate in it.  I try to stay above it, beyond it.  But it gets to me, a lot.

The negativity and sheer misery that my job brings has really begun to take its toll  on me.  I used to be able to block it out.  I used to be able to leave it at the door.  The awfulness that surrounds me at work sucked, but when I walked out the door  to the office, I put it behind me and went about the rest of my life.  Lately, I haven’t been able to do that and it’s really beginning to take its toll.

I’m trying to find a new job.  I’m trying to find something that will satisfy and fulfill me.  I’m coming up empty and I’m realizing that the seven and a half years that I’ve spent in my current job have been wasted.  I have learned nothing.  I’ve gained nothing.  I have a title that doesn’t match my experience and skills.  I have a salary that will be hard to duplicate, especially in this challenged economy.  I need to make a change and I honestly just do not know what to do.

I decided I needed to look for something different from what I’m, well, what I’m not doing now.  Six years of progressive advancement in Project Management when  I’ve only managed one, very small project the entire time has prepared me for  absolutely nothing.  I’m expected to have experiences and skills and abilities that I simply do not possess because my job has never really given me that  opportunity.  I’m willing to take a step back.  I’m willing to take a lower salary  (though I don’t know how I’ll manage).  I’m willing to start over, if I could just get the opportunity, but people see “Associate Project Manager” and expect me to be able to hit the ground running.  People see that an “Associate Project Manager” is  applying for, say, a Project Assistant position, or a Project Analyst position and  they can’t understand why someone who is “clearly over-qualified” would want it  and then they move on to the next resume.

So I sit in my chair, staring at my screen, desperately wishing I knew what to do,  begging and pleading God for some sort of direction, a sense of what I should do.  I’ve got nothing.  And I’m trying so hard not to be a negative person, but my  defenses are down and I’m being bombarded, it seems, from all sides.

I’ve eliminated as much of it as I can.  I’ve un-followed nearly 100 People on Twitter, many because their negativity has been too much for me to handle.  I was spending (wasting) way too much of my life on trying to stay up to date on my  twitter feed and I finally realized that is just stupid.  So I cut the list way down.

I’ve been reading a bunch of people’s blogs, many of which I can’t relate to.  I’m cutting those down as well, not that I don’t find value and enjoyment out of reading the blogs, but I’d like to be reading more blogs that are things I can relate to.  I’m not a parent and I’m almost guaranteed never to be, so why am I reading  Mommyblogs and Daddyblogs?

I spend so much of my life feeling like no one in my life really understands me. I  spend so much time feeling like I have nothing in common with the people in my  life but instead of finding people I do have things in common with I continue down  the same path and hope for things to get better.  That is not working.

Lately, my life has been sucking quite a bit and I can’t seem to figure out how to  change that.  And when things get like this, I find it really difficult to concentrate,  difficult to sort anything out or find a solution or plan.  I tried to write yesterday.  I wanted to come up with some sort of post because I hadn’t written anything in  several days.  I started three times and this is what I came up with:

Mediocrity

How does one learn to be OK with…  A dozen words are going through my mind for what should go here… insufficiency?  Lack?  Ineptitude?  Less than?  Mediocrity? I’m not sure.

I’m surrounded by it though, and it’s becoming apparent that it’s a problem for me that is a big contributor to my own unhappiness.  I just don’t know how to accept these things as “OK” and go on about my business…

Teenage Lament

There are days I really miss being a teenager!  I miss the lack of responsibility and accountability that comes with being a teenager.  I miss being able to make irrational judgments and decisions and knowing that there would be no lasting effects from those actions.  I miss knowing that I was going to be provided for, no matter what I did.

When I was a teenager if I hated my job, I quit.  There’s another one waiting around the corner.

At A Loss

Focus.  Concentrate.  Think Straight.  Be rational and coherent.

This seems to be a list of things I’m not able to do today.  Not really just today but lately.  I’m feeling very overwhelmed these days with all the  things I’m not able to manage.  I’m so tired of trying.  I’m tired of trying to  be what other people seem to need me to be.  I’m tired of having other people impose their expectations on me.  I’m tired of having oblivious  people in my life who just take over my life and expect me to comply.

I’m tired of coming to work everyday just to sit at my desk and not have anything of value to do.  I’m tired of trying to find a way to occupy my time when I know that there’s nothing for me to do.  I’m tired of making the effort to find a new job just to realize that there’s nothing out there for me.  I’ve wasted the last seven and half years of my life working in a position that has given me no real practical experience and a job title that comes with more expectations I can’t meet.

I’m tired of trying to find a solution when I don’t even fully know the problem.  I’m tired of …

There are three, because I started one and a different thought popped into my  head.  I started another and the next thought popped into my head.  I couldn’t sort it out.  I couldn’t make things fall into place so I could coherently express my  feelings… So I gave up and played a computer game.  That’s always easier.

Besides, I don’t want to be negative.  I don’t want my blog to be a place where people go and read my negative feelings and get tired of dealing with it, and take me out of their line up.  And then this happens…


Maybe, just maybe, there are people out there reading my blog who actually really do care about me, and not just the laugh I may or may not bring.  Maybe some people reading this blog actually notice when I’m not around and have concern.  Maybe this is about more than just words on a screen, and laughs that are  conveyed (I hope).

So here I am.  Yes, Jody, I’m “OK” by a relative scale.  I’m well aware that there  are a lot of people in this world, a whole lot worse off than I am.  That doesn’t change my unhappiness, but then again…  I suppose it does put some things into perspective… a little.