Another Quiet Week-End

Not too much to report this week-end.  After work on Friday, I stopped by Karin’s house to drop something off for her and ended up staying for three hours, hanging out, having dinner and, of all things, talking religion… go figure.

I slept late on Saturday and then took my recyclables to the recycling center.  I buy way too much Diet Pepsi, so I pay way too much in California Redemption Value (bottle deposits), not to take them in and get my money back.  Every few months I load up my car with trash bags full of aluminum cans and plastic bottles and take them in.  Yesterday, I got just a few cents shy of $45.00 so I’d say this is a worthwhile exercise.

After I dropped those off, I went to Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits to get some… well, chicken and biscuits.  I was feeling the need for a little comfort food.  It helped a bit.  I spent the rest of the afternoon just relaxing and hanging out.  Watched all the regular television on my DVR.  Watched a Netflix DVD, original Doctor Who, the episode where Peter Davison relinquished the role to Colin Baker (not that anybody knows or cares about that), and then I watched Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog.  It was pretty good and funny, right up to the end, and then it got a bit weird.  Oh well.  I even got some recreational reading done.  And in spite of all that resting I still managed to stay up way too late last night.

I slept in this morning, but woke up to a very nice voice mail message from Gene who, sadly, returned to San Diego today.  I got up and watched last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by Maya Rudolph (very funny) while I ate my lunch and then it was time to get ready and head out.  Today was Lil’B day and we went to the movies.

I occasionally ask him if there’s anything in particular he’d like to do and he almost always says, “I don’t know”, which comes as a surprise to exactly zero people, I’m sure.  But last Monday night, when I was taking him home after dinner, I asked him if he had anything in particular in mind that he’d like to do this week-end and after a moment’s contemplation he told me he wanted to go see Journey 2, The Mysterious Island.  This is not a movie I would have opted to go to on my own, but Lil’B rarely expresses a specific desire of any kind so when he does, I like to try to make sure it happens.

I posted this on my Facebook page:

About to watch Journey 2 with my Little Brother…  I may have to watch this movie through my fingers!!!

I thought this movie was going to be filled with over-sized creepy crawly things and that my skin would be crawling by the time it was over.  There were a couple of instances with enormous centipedes, some massive spiders and a couple bee’s large enough to ride (I’m allergic to bee stings so they always oog me out!) and of course a lizard as big as a house, but all-in-all the movie wasn’t terrible.  It actually had a pretty good story that should have been pretty entertaining but it was not as well executed as it could have been.  Too bad.

I spent the rest of the evening cleaning up my Twitter account.  Deleting people who have either been inactive for a long time, or who do not follow me back and therefore aren’t interactive.  Or at least I did until Twitter started having technical difficulties and now here we are!

It’s a long week-end and mercifully I do not have any big plans tomorrow.  Officially, it’s not a holiday for me, but my company is kind of weird.  We have multiple entities that all co-exist, but the employees are on different payrolls.  Since my office building is owned and operated by the Northern California Region which considers Presidents Day to be a holiday, the building is closed, but since I am not a Northern California Region employee and Presidents Day is not a holiday on my payroll, I am required to take the day off and use one of my four float days for it.  I don’t really mind though.  I used to be a Northern California Region employee and I had the holiday but no float days.  Now I have four float days but lost this one holiday.  So I choose to look at it, instead, as though I have three float holidays and continue to have Presidents Day off as a paid holiday.

I texted Michelle earlier today to see if she wanted to go see This Means War tomorrow but as it turns out, it’s not a holiday for her.  So I guess I should just be grateful.  And I am!

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The No Good, Very Bad, Terrible, Awful Night, That Turned Out Pretty Okay

Once I finally got out of the house yesterday, things went less than smoothly at first.  I started out in bad shape because the only thing I had to eat all day, up to then, was two pieces of toast with peanut butter and honey at about 11:30 in the morning.  I was pretty hungry by the time I left the house and my head was starting to hurt.  I sent Michelle a text to verify my suspicions, saying, “Would it be safe to assume that there won’t really be food for a while?”  Historically, I show up “on time” for these events and they’re still thinking about preparing to start getting ready to start making food.  It is what it is, and because I wasn’t feeling great I knew I had to take measures to accommodate that.  Michelle never answered my text but I took that as a yes.

I went to the Pet Store to get the cat food with little incident and I went from there to BevMo.  I know Monique, I know what she likes, and I knew that a “small” bottle of Patron tequila would make for a great gift.  The parking lot at the shopping center where the BevMo is located is way too small for the number and types of stores that are in it and people tend to be really selfish and rude there.  I was cut off several times just trying to get into the parking lot and into a space.

I left there and went around the corner to Target.  By that time, I was cranky and my head really hurt, so the first thing I did was go to the snack bar.  Only there were about 12 people in line and there was one employee behind the counter who was in no hurry to get anything done.  I walked away from the snack bar with a different plan.  I would buy a small Lunchable which would tide me over until I got to the party and food was ready.  I grabbed a cart and started rushing down the fist aisle of the store, but there were two individuals who were meandering along.  More than once they made like they were going to turn out from in front of me and as I’d move to go around them they would turn back out into the aisle.  Finally the guy pulled the girl aside and as I rushed past them, I heard him say in a disgruntled tone, “Let’s move so this guy can finally go around us.”  I sped on down the way, and around the corner to cut across the back aisle to the grocery department where I stopped to stock up on Diet Pepsi, both for home and for work (they had a good price on both, cans for home, bottles for work.)

Next I grabbed my Lunchable and headed over to Healthy & Beauty to get mouthwash and some pre-brush, whitening rinse (this stuff must work because every time I go to my dentist he asks me if I bleach my teeth.)  Then I headed over to the appliances for my “semi-significant (to me – and probably only to me) purchase.  I made up my mind that I was going to get a Keurig machine and I went to compare models and prices and determine which one to get.  No sooner did I stop in front of the machines than the two people from the first aisle came around the corner into the coffee maker aisle and the woman was loudly telling the man a story about a work conflict.  She was agitated just telling the story, and she used a number of curse words in the process of the telling.  They just stood in the aisle, about five feet from me as she told her friend her story, and she was so loud I couldn’t even think. So I just stood there, staring at the machines and waiting for them to get what they came for and leave.

Finally, she changed subjects and started talking about a coffee maker.  The guy said something about, “but it only makes one cup!”

She said, “Um, hello.  How many people live in my apartment?”

He said, “OK, so are you gonna get it?”

She answered, “No, I’m not gonna get it! I’m fucking broke!”

And then they walked away empty-handed, but as they did, I heard her say, “That dude is just standing there, staring at the coffee makers.”

Um, yeah!  ‘Cause I couldn’t hear myself think!!!

Finally, I decided which one I wanted and selected a box.  They have labels on the boxes saying when they were packed, which I assumed was relevant because they come with a sample pack of K-Cups so I wanted the freshest one.  I saw a box that said it was packed in January of 2012 so I grabbed that one.

The last thing I did before going to the check stand was look for a gift bag and tissue paper for Monique’s present and a card.

At last I made my way to the check stand.  My head was splitting, I was getting jittery and I was hungry.  Plus it was nearly 6:30 and while I knew the party wouldn’t be in full swing yet, it was supposed to have started at 5:30.  I had two gift cards in my wallet that I intended to use toward the coffee maker and the balance was going on my Target credit card (5% off with the card).  The other items I would purchase with my regular debit card.  The cashier rang up the coffee maker and it came up $15.00 more expensive than the tag on the shelf said.  He started to call for a price check and I glanced at the box again and realized I had put the wrong machine in my cart.  I wanted the one that makes three different size cups and I had the one that makes five different sizes.  I told him my mistake and asked if someone could go and get the right one.  They were maybe 30 feet away.  It shouldn’t have been a big issue.

The customer service manager came over and after telling her what I wanted she started calling into the radio for someone to bring up the right coffee maker, only she didn’t know what I was talking about, and whoever was on the other end of her radio didn’t know what I was talking about and I was getting flustered because I could feel that my blood sugar was getting low AND the cashier was doing a ridiculous job of bagging my items.  He rang up the birthday card and put it on the counter in front of me and then put the gift bag and tissue in a bag before lying the mouthwash and whitening rinse on top of them.  He wasn’t going to bag my six packs of bottles of Diet Pepsi until I asked him to do so,  but then he put the Lunchable into one of those bags while putting the two cold bottles of Diet Pepsi I bought, on the counter in front of me.  (I always show up at Michelle’s families house with my own beverages because I never know what they’re going to have.)

Finally, I told them to forget the coffee maker, there was just too much going on, and I proceeded to stand there and rebag my items as he was ringing them up.  After I paid for the stuff, I was heading away from the check-stand, very agitated over the experience and the Customer Service Manager, who was between there and the door, stopped me and she apologized for the confusion.  I pulled her aside and I said,”Actually I wanted to talk to you. I have to tell you, I’m a fan of Target.  I shop at Target all the time, and at a number of different stores depending on where I happen to be at the time.  This is the only store I’ve ever been to that consistently has a ridiculous line, in the snack bar, and one lone worker behind the counter taking their jolly sweet time.”  I then told her about the way the cashier was bagging my items and I told her, “I know he was disabled, I saw his crutch.  I’m not complaining that he didn’t move.  I’m not complaining that he was slow.  I get that, and it’s fine.  I’m complaining because he clearly doesn’t know how to bag stuff.  I was a cashier in high school and I was taught how to do this properly.”

She nodded her head and acknowledged what I was saying all along, and at that point she said, “I was too, and you’re right, he clearly needs some training.  I’ll talk to him.”

And it was at that point that I suddenly saw myself from the outside and realized what was happening.  I told her, “I’m sorry.  I don’t mean to be yelling at you,” (I wasn’t actually yelling) “I’m just running late, my blood sugar is low, which is why I bought the Lunchable in the first place.  I’m not normally like this, and I apologize.”  Then I said, “I actually do want the coffee maker.  Is it OK if I just leave my cart up here, I’ll go get the right one and just go through the express line?”

She said, “I understand.  I’ve had these crashes before, too.  Go sit down and eat your snack.  I’ll go get the coffee maker and bring it up to Guest Services for you.”

I must say that once I ate the Lunchable, I started to feel a little better, but what I really appreciated out of this exchange was, when I got to Guest Services to buy the coffee maker, she had told the cashier to give me 10% off.  I don’t particularly feel like I deserved the discount, but I was grateful none the less.

Finally, I got to Monique’s house for the party and the place was packed.  Music was blaring, people were shouting to be heard over the sound of the music and over the sound of other people shouting to be heard.  My head was still hurting a lot.  I was the grouch at the party.  I was torn.  I wanted to celebrate with my friends, but I also wanted to leave, but I also didn’t want to be the party-pooper who left.  Every where I stood, I was in someone’s way.  Finally, I sat on a stool and made up my mind not to move.  But then I took some Ibuprofen.  And then I ate some food.  And I had a drink.  And a friend stood there and talked to me.  And I started to feel better.

Not long after the cake was cut 2/3 of the people cleared out and it was just the core group.  I don’t know when it happened, but my headache was gone, my blood sugar had stabilized, my mood had improved…and I was having fun.

And then the most ordinary, amazing thing happened.  I had a lovely, involved, heart to heart conversation with one of the people there.  One of the extended family members, Amanda, who is eight years younger than I, (which means nothing now, but meant everything 14 years ago when I met her), has been in a relationship with her girlfriend for more than six years.   Amanda and I, talked about her relationship and her family and her experience of coming out to them.  We talked about their nebulous plans to go to New York, when the spirit moves them and the opportunity presents itself, so that they can get married.  We talked about the ludicrousness of the fact that same-sex marriage isn’t legal on a national level and the status of the Prop 8 case in the legal system.  And we talked about my family, and my experience and what things are like now.

And we connected, with no awkwardness, no discomfort, no nervousness, just open, honest, loving communication between two friends who really understood where the other was coming from.  And it was nice.

And I’m so glad I stayed.

Flavor

A while back K told me about an on-line writing group; a website called Write on Edge.  I subscribed to the blog and started watching the writing prompts they offered.  Everything, at first glance, seems so vague.  The word limits are always too small.  We all know brevity is not my forté.

The most recent writing prompt was one word; flavor.  Four hundred words or less, either fiction or creative non-fiction.  I told K, “I don’t like it.  It’s too vague.”   She told me I should just give it a try.  So I did.  What follows is my first ever submission to this writing group, in the shadows of which, I have lurked for months.

I don’t think it’s very good (go figure) and it seems really contrived, but what the hell.  It’s not like I’m going to get a grade for it.  So here you go…

Flavor:

It took him a long time to open up.  Months of silent car rides, open-ended questions answered with a vague “I don’t know”, and doubts about what the relationship was accomplishing for either of us.  I began to contemplate giving up.  Maybe he didn’t need me.  Maybe he didn’t need anyone or maybe he needed something I wasn’t providing and someone else could.  Could I walk away?  Should I walk away?  After all, I had met my initial commitment.

Walking away just seemed wrong, so I stuck it out hoping to see something change.  I reduced the amount of time I spent with him; it took a lot out of me and I didn’t feel connected.  Half as much time would have to suffice.

I don’t know when it changed.  One day it was suddenly obvious; half the time wasn’t enough.  He wanted more and I wanted to give him more.  A new schedule.  More time.  Different days.  Dinners some weeks.  He lit up at the notion.

After the second dinner when he returned home he told his sister all about our outing.  “And he had five Diet Pepsi’s” he told her, excitement in his voice.  That’s when I knew he was watching.  Picking up on everything.  He sees all that I do.  I have to be constantly aware, vigilant about the example I set.  But I don’t mind.

I try to show him a good way to be, but it’s hard when what I want to show him is something different from what I am.  I know he’s following my lead.  I should eat better; drink more water.  But I love the flavor of Diet Pepsi.  It’s my one vice.  I’m completely addicted.  The sweet, refreshing, cola taste.  It’s the first thing to enter my mind when the all important, “can I get you something to drink?” is asked.

He talks to me now.  Still a lot of “I don’t know”, but there’s much more than that now.  Stories about school.  Stories about friends.  Stories about playing video games.  But he talks.  And when I taste that sweet, dark elixir, I’m reminded, once again, that our relationship matters; that he needs me and I need him.

And that tastes pretty damn good.

Mostly On Target

I’m cheating…  Well, OK, I’m not exactly cheating, but sort of…

I made no promises about daily blog posts, and I certainly didn’t make any resolutions of the sort.  But I did say I wanted to write more, and I have posted something new everyday this year… You hear that?  EVERY DAY THIS YEAR!!!  (Sounds like a really long time and major accomplishment, huh?)  😉

Anyway, I’m cheating because I’m writing this tonight, but it won’t post till tomorrow…  Except that by the time you’re reading this…

I’m cheating because I wrote this last night, but it didn’t post till today…  Yeah, I think that’s right. Tomorrow(today) I will be heading up to Cache Creek Casino and Resort for a day of nickel slot machines (probably) and an over night in the hotel, before coming back on Thursday, so I have to write this post in advance and schedule it if I want to keep up my EVERY DAY THIS YEAR!!! streak.

I had dinner to(last)night with a friend of mine named Shirley.  I met Shirley at work years ago and we developed a friendship.  She was blessed enough to be able to retire early from the company and has been living a very comfortable life since then.  We get together every so often to enjoy a meal and have a nice conversation and that’s what we did tonight.  We had dinner at a lovely restaurant called Hs. Lordships (most people pronounce it “His Lordships” – don’t know why), in Berkeley, CA, right on the water of the Bay.  Shirley asked to have an “early dinner”, which worked out nicely.  She lives about 30 miles away from me and she was coming to me since I came to her last time and she wanted to eat early so she could go home early… Or anyway that was the plan.  I made 5:00 reservations and it was nearly 8:00 when we left the restaurant and then we stood in the parking lot for another nearly 30 minutes talking.

The restaurant was deserted when we arrived, and they seated us at arguably the nicest table they have.  It’s right in the corner with windows on two sides, one of which was facing the Golden Gate Bridge.  I couldn’t not snap a shot with my iPhone and this was the view from my dinner table tonight!

Golden Gate Bridge at Sunset

I expected the restaurant to fill up but the entire time we were there, there were only two or three other parties at the restaurant so it was kind of nice.  We had a wonderful and enlightening conversation and I’m so glad we got together.  It can be so hard to maintain relationships with people you don’t see with regularity, but this is a relationship that is worth maintaining!  Next time we get together, Shirley told me, I’ll come to her house where she’ll cook and I’ll get to meet and play with her six to eight year old Black Lab, Jake, whom she rescued from a shelter two years ago.  I can’t wait for that!

After my dinner was over, I ran over to the nearby Target store.  I was going way out on a limb, but I thought I’d give it a shot.

You see, a while back I bought a printer.

Sometime after that, I bought an ink cartridge.

Sometime after that, I bought a new computer because the one I had spontaneously kicked the bucket.

Sometime after that, I attempted to install my old printer on my new computer, only to learn that they couldn’t play nicely together.

Recently, I bought a new printer (spoiling Michelle’s plans for her Christmas Gift to me, as I’ve previously mentioned.)

Even more recently, I was cleaning up and I happened across that printer cartridge, which had never been opened and had never been used.

I know I bought that cartridge at Target.  I do not know when I bought it, where the receipt is, or which credit card I used to buy it.  In general Target has a very liberal return policy.  From the perspective of a former retail manager, their return policy is TOO liberal, however, as a frequent shopper of Target stores, I’m grateful for this liberal policy.  (By the way, are the gays still supposed to be pissed off at Target and boycotting?  If so, shoot me.  I don’t care.)  In addition to not knowing which card I used to purchase the cartridge, my Debit card number was recently changed, as I mentioned in a previous post, due to credit card fraud activity at my local grocery stores.  I handed the unopened cartridge box to the customer service rep and told her, “I’m going out on a limb here.  I don’t know when I bought this or which card I used but I know I bought it at Target.  She worked her magic and determined that I had not bought it on either of the two cards I had given her.  I was fully prepared to be told that it had been too long and I couldn’t return it.  Instead she said, “I can give you store credit and you’ll get $XX.XX for it.  I was perfectly happy to accept that as I had some shopping to do anyway.

I have had a number of complaints about Target over the years.  They’re in desperate need of properly training their staff not to get in their customers’ way and to say “excuse me” when they must.  Pretty much every time I’ve gone to a Target since I moved to California I’ve had at least one, and usually more, employee step in front of me and stop to put something on a shelf right where I’m looking, without saying a word.  I’ve had a number of bad experiences in their snack bars, with them usually being understaffed by under-motivated, slow-moving workers.  But I must say that I was very impressed with the service tonight and how the young lady handled my return that I expected not to go so well.

Spending the store credit was no problem.  I’m down to my last case of Diet Pepsi here at home and that’s just a tragic event that can not be!  I must have a plentiful supply of Diet Pepsi at all times!  Otherwise I get itchy.  Heh.  I needed one or two other things as well, including a wart removal product.  You see, yesterday at some time I rather suddenly became aware of a painful bump on the little webbing between my ring and middle fingers on my right hand.  Don’t know where it came from but it just seemed to instantly appear.  At first I thought it was a pimple and I tried my damnedest to squeeze and pop it (isn’t that what one does with a pimple?) but I couldn’t get good leverage on it to give it a good squeeze.  And then I thought, “That doesn’t look much like a pimple.  I think that’s a wart.”  I don’t know how I would have gotten a wart in between two fingers and so suddenly but I didn’t know what else it could be.  So while I was at Target I looked for wart remover.  I found exactly ONE product, which I’m sure is not all that’s out there.  Dr. Sholl’s Freeze Away.  “Removes warts fast with as few as 1 treatment” the package says.  I’d like to get rid of this thing with as few as one treatment.  That might be just what I need.  Though I have to admit that “freeze away” scares me and it cost $14.00 for something I’ll likely only use once.  But they didn’t have any other product so I bought it and brought it home.

I decided to be a smart boy and read the instructions and warnings carefully.  The instructions are remarkably incomplete.  “Twist the applicator onto the can, stick the applicator in the activator, freeze off the wart.”  Um… Okay.  Not specific enough.  The warnings go on to say, “Do not use this product on anything other than a common wart or a plantar wart.”  “If you do not use Freeze Away exactly as these directions say to use it, or if you use it on any other condition that is not a common or plantar wart, it may cause serious burns, permanent scarring of the skin, or blindness.  If you are not sure whether the skin condition is a common wart or plantar wart, ask a doctor before using Freeze Away“.

Well, I thought I was sure…  But I’m not sure enough to risk permanent scaring or blindness.  How is this product even available over the counter?  For $14.00, I’m taking this back and I’ll go to CVS to find some salicylic acid to paste on it.  Sure wish Target had some of that; this sucker hurts and I’d like it to be gone already!

 

So!  Now that this commentary is out of the way, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and pack for this trip that I am already on while you’re reading this. 😉