Amber Alert

I was running absurdly late for work yesterday, made all the more unreasonable by the fact that I decided not to take a shower in the morning.  I intended to restart my gym routine this week and I would, of course, take a shower after my workout.  I needed to get to work earlier so I could go to the gym.  I piddled around the house a little bit due to the “extra time” I thought I had allowed myself by not showering first.  And then a few minutes after I ate my breakfast, I started getting that feeling.  You know the one.  The one we don’t discuss in polite society…  woops.  The one that says, You are never going to make it out of the house without a stop by the porcelain throne, first. Dammit!

All the “extra time” I had allotted myself was suddenly gone, and I was very late!  Now I’m not even going to be able to justify time away from work to go to the gym! Major Planning Fail!

I was standing in front of the mirror, working on my now arduous oral hygiene regime when I got a text on my iPhone from a 918 phone number:

918 Phone Number, 9:45 AM: Hey Kevin!!!! Guess who?!

Waiting waiting waiting…..(Jeopardy Theme)

Clue: been friends since 1992

I had a feeling I already knew, only I thought I had a cell phone number for this person.  I thought I had a cell phone number for everyone in Tulsa that I cared to interact with.  There are other people in the 918 that I wish not to interact with ever again and so I didn’t want to reply blindly.

I texted the number to my mother to find out if it was a number she recognized.  Mom confirmed the identity and I realized the number I had for this person was one digit off.

I waited a while to reply.  I needed to finish getting ready and get to work and I didn’t need a conversation with anyone to slow me down.

Me, 11:28 AM: Hey Amber!  How’s it going?  Been a while!

Her: Hey!  Good!  Congragts on EMT!!

Me: How’d you know that?

Her: Haha…..I’m watching you…..don’t look over your shoulder…..

Me: That would be impressive.  There’s a 23rd floor window over my shoulder.  With closed blinds.

Her: Ha!  I had to e-mail your mother to see if you were still alive!!! Lol.

How the story tracks from “to see if you were still alive” to “Congrats on EMT” I do not know.

~~~~~

Amber and I became friends in 1992 when we both worked in the grocery store in my mother’s back yard.  I’ve mentioned this before.  There used to be a big empty field behind our house and then they built a grocery store there.

I swore at the time that I had met Amber somewhere before, but neither of us could figure out where.  To this day, it seems like I had to have already known her (though, to be honest, my impression is that we weren’t friendly.  I thought she was a snob, and in fact didn’t talk to her for a while at work because of it) but who knows.

One summer evening, I had gone to the store to pick up my pay check and Amber was just getting off work.  I ran into her in the magazine aisle as she was heading back to the staff lockers to get her purse.  We chatted for a little while and it came up that we were both hungry.  Amber had a car and I had money burning a whole in my pocket (nothing new about that) so I convinced her that she should drive us to my favorite (no longer in existence) restaurant and I would buy her dinner.

We found that we had a lot in common at the time; at least enough to build a friendship on.  We started hanging out regularly on weekends.  She would drive and I would pay.  We became good friends.

Amber is two years older than I, and at the end of the summer she started classes at Oral Roberts University and I started my Junior Year at Broken Arrow Senior High School.  Our friendship continued and we hung out many week-ends and talked on the phone all the time.  It occurs to me now, Amber was probably the only person with whom my mother never rushed me off the phone.

Amber is beautiful and very flirtatious and never wanted for guys attention.  Eventually she told me about a guy who was asking her out.  She told me she really wasn’t all that into him but she was going to go anyway.  That seemed strange to me, but then what do I know about relationships.  I said nothing.  A while later, I was on the phone with Amber one day and she told me that she was “going steady” with this guy and that we couldn’t be friends anymore because he didn’t think it was right for her to spend time with another guy when she was “with” him.  I told her that was stupid, we had been friends for a while,  I was here first and she didn’t even like him all that much.  I told her it was her loss.

A couple of weeks later she called me and told me I had been right and that she wasn’t going to see him any more.  I told her this was the only time I was going to take her back after being dumped for a boyfriend.  She promised never to do it again, and she didn’t.

A while later Amber met Brian, a handsome, brilliant, multi-talented, disgustingly self-confident man who fell head over heals in love with her the minute he laid eyes on her.  Amber’s biggest complaint about Brian was that he wasn’t jealous of our relationship.  A few months before I moved to California, they were married, have been together ever since and have three children together.

In college Amber studied Physical Therapy and she was all about physical fitness and nutrition even though she never struggled with her weight a day in her life.  She even joined Weight Watchers even though she was thin.  I used to resent that attitude, but now I understand it better.  Despite getting her degree, she hasn’t worked a day in her adult life.  She’s a stay at home wife and mother and her brilliant husband makes more than enough money that she’ll never have to think twice about that lifestyle choice.

When I moved to California I used to communicate regularly with Amber by way of instant messenger programs.  I enjoyed implementing these tools to stay in touch with people I cared about while I was working.  Though there is only a two-hour time difference, by the time I get home from work and get settled in and have dinner, it is too late to call people back “home” even if I were so inclined, which I’m really not.  I’m not a phone person.  So using Instant Messenger to talk during the waking hours was a nice treat.

The problem was, Amber usually initiated our conversations and they were usually about nothing.  She would sit for hours typing messages to me while I was trying to work and they were about things like recipes and her workout that day and how she’d just found out there were x number of calories in y food item.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk to her, I just didn’t have time for meaningless rambling while I was trying to work.  I started ignoring her messages and then pretending I had been away from my desk while she was typing and “Oh so sorry I didn’t see all that!” lying.

We drifted.  A few times I tried to have deep, personal conversations with her and she just blew them off and diffused them with her idea of humor.  We drifted more.

Several years ago I began having conflict with my mother.  Amber has known my mother for years, but she know’s the mother that outsiders are allowed to know, not the mother that her children know.  One day, Amber asked me if I had any plans to come back for a visit any time soon.  Up until then I had always made time for Amber and Brian when I came to town.  I told her I really didn’t have any plans and didn’t really know when I would because I was no longer on good terms with my mother and I couldn’t see myself coming to visit her, maybe never again.

The appropriate response to that would have been sympathy for a friend.  Curiosity about what could have gone so terribly wrong and why I might never want to visit my mother again.  Understanding for how hard parent-adult child relationships can be.

Her response?  “Don’t say that!  As a mother it hurts me to hear a child talk about not talking to their mother.  You don’t have kids so you can’t understand…”

Few things in this world piss me off more, or faster than, “You don’t have ____, so you can’t understand” or “You aren’t ____, so you can’t understand.”  It just belittle’s the person’s intelligence and it’s not a valid argument for anything.  We drifted some more.

A few years ago, an e-mail was making the rounds.  By today’s blogging terms I suppose it would be a “meme”.  It was one of those, replace-my-answers-to-these-questions-with-your-answers-and-forward-this-to-all-your-friends-and-back-to-me, blah, blah, blah e-mails.  One of the questions on the e-mail was about how many piercings you have.

When I left Oklahoma, I had one ear pierced.  Interestingly, right now, I can’t remember which one it was.  Several years ago now, my friend Heather begged, bullied, convinced me to get the other ear pierced stating that times had changed and it was no longer trendy to wear only one ear ring.  She promised that it was not a statement about one’s sexuality.  I hadn’t yet worked out my issues and I cared a great deal about that fact.  When I completed the e-mail and sent it out to my friends (and my sister) I simply answered the question honestly.

“How many piercings do you have?”

“Just my ears”.

I wondered if anyone would notice or comment.  Amber’s response?  “So what?!?  Are you gay now?”  Coming from the private school, good-little-Christian-girl background that I know she does, I automatically interpreted the tone as being derogatory and insulting (I still do).  We drifted completely.

In contrast to that, over the years Amber has asked me repeatedly, almost obsessively about my love life.  “Do you have a girlfriend yet?”  “Why don’t you have a girlfriend?”  “Don’t you want to have a girlfriend?”  “When are you going to get a girlfriend?”  “You need a woman.”  Somewhere inside me, every time she asked these questions I knew the answer, I just couldn’t face it and I sure as hell couldn’t tell her.  Her incessant prying combined with my own internalized shame only served to make me resent her for pushing.  I always answered her tersely and she just laughed it off as thought it were nothing.  She never could take the hint that this was something she ought not ask me about.

~~~~~

We exchanged text messages as conversation for about 15 minutes when she finally asked:

Her: OK- so- do you have a woman yet??

I waited several minutes to answer.  I wanted to tell her the truth, but– well, there is no but.  I was scared.  Plain and simple.

Me: What are you?  My grandmother?  Would you like to pinch my cheeks and talk about my punum too?  No.  No woman.

She waited nearly twenty minutes to respond.  I wondered if she’d finally gotten the message and was leaving the topic alone.  I wondered if she was considering the possibilities and going to ask me, again, if I was gay “now”.  I made up my mind to answer her honestly if she asked.  I wondered if she had gotten her feelings hurt and was pouting in silence as she was prone to do.  And then she replied.

Her: hee hee hee.  Oh well, just checking.

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Catching Up

It has been much too long since I’ve written here.  Part of the reason I haven’t written is because I’m  not good at short and sweet, to-the-point posts and so what ought to be a quick few minutes to write, ends up being a couple of hours to write, edit, read, preview and re-read, and re-edit a crazy long-winded post, and I just keep putting it off which only serves to make them longer.

I’m going to try to be brief with this post, though I make no promises…

I’m not even sure if I had decided on this when I wrote my last post, but I am now on vacation not to return to work until Monday, August 30, 2010.  I put in my request to my manager for my vacation and he approved it and then sent me an e-mail telling me that he wanted me to be very involved in this month-long event in September that would require me to do all my planning and purchasing and compiling in half the time that everyone else has to get ready, all the while dealing with the group who is actually hosting the event but didn’t want to share any of their information.  It came down to the wire, but I believe I have everything ready now…  I hope.  If not, I’ll have two days when I get back to work to take care of it.  No pressure there.

I decided to take this vacation, really a stay-cation, because I have been exhausted for weeks, staying up too late, having to get up early in the morning, and upon learning of this event, staying much too late at work.  My life has gotten out of kilter and I desperately needed to right it again, and with my class start date looming, I really wanted to get a handle on things before hand.

I never made it to the gym all of last week, with the pressure I had to have my work in order before my vacation.  I was surprised to see how much I missed that.  I have to admit that while there was so much pressure and trepidation about the locker room when I first started going during the day, I now enjoy it and having a break from my work while I take care of myself.  Except for last week, I have been more consistent with going to the gym since I started the mid-day routine than ever before.  And I even enjoy taking a shower in the locker room there.  It’s a refresher in the middle of the work-day and it’s liberating to have gotten over my fears.  (Plus it saves on my water bill at home.)

On Friday, I did finally take a little break from the work craziness to have coffee with my friend John (John H).  Saturday was laundry day and Sunday I hung out with Lil’B.  It was still rather chilly and I had designs on going to the movies.  We haven’t yet seen Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore.  I’m a BIG kid and I love those kinds of movies so I’ve been looking forward to it since I saw the first previews.  When I arrived at Lil’B’s house I asked him what he wanted to do that day and he said, “Miniature Golf.”  Hmmm.  OK.

So we went to play miniature golf while I was dressed/prepared for a chilly movie theater.  Green “painters” pants (green pants with deliberately laid out paint spots on the front) and a black t-shirt.  The jean jacket got left in the car.  There was no sun screen.  One of these days I’ll learn to bring along the sun screen just in case.  The weather was actually quite nice where the mini-golf place was.

After I dropped Lil’B off, I went over to my friends John H and John M’s house.  I think it’s cute that they both are named John, but John H says they always know who is being addressed.  (I have to admit that I once had a passing crush on a guy named Kevin and thought it would’ve been funny if we’d ended up together.  Then again, I was also engaged to a girl named Kerri and she thought it was “too sweet” that we would be Kevin and Kerri.  She meant “too sweet” in a bad way.)  The John’s and I had a wonderful dinner of Baked Ziti and Sourdough bread with an incredible blueberry and cherry tart that “John threw together while I was in the shower,” John H told me.  I left at about 10:30 and called it a night.

One of my objectives for this time off work is to get my body clock back on a decent schedule.  If I plan to continue to go to the gym during the work day and still work 8-ish hours, I’ve got to do better about getting to work “on time-ish”, especially on class days.  So I wasn’t too dismayed by having scheduled DirecTV to come and install new service at my house “between 8 and noon” on Monday.  Much to Mischa’s dismay, I pretty much went straight to bed when I got home and got up at 7:30 Monday morning.  Not early enough, but it was a start.  I won’t spend too much time harping on this, but DirecTV quite successfully managed to turn me from being a big fan/major proponent of their service to a stark hater who will tell everyone I ever meet (where the subject comes up) NEVER TO USE DIRECTV SERVICES, EVAR!!

Very quickly, I was a DirecTV customer for 5 years and canceled my service 6 months ago in favor of AT&T U-verse because of cost.  I don’t really love the AT&T product and will still maintain that the actual product offered by DirecTV is better, but I will never use them again.  Three years ago when I moved into my current home, the same day as my downstairs neighbors in this duplex moved in, I had the DirecTV service installed.  My installer had been here and at work for about an hour before another installer showed up to do the installation for my downstairs neighbors.  The two installers made the determination that they could provide both of us with service using only one satellite dish and splitting the signal between the two units.  This made everyone (most of all, our landlady) happy.  I explained this set-up to the operator when I placed the order to re-instate my service and he said it was great.

When the installer showed up here on Monday, at 11:55 he informed me that he could not do this but instead he had to install a second dish on the house.  I told him that was not an option and he said he couldn’t do what I was asking.  After speaking with the installer, and his supervisor, via telephone, and then a dispatcher in his office, I got conflicting answers about code regulations and DirecTV policy (the installation company is a third party) and various other, conflicting and contradictory reasons.  Finally I called DirecTV directly and after explaining my situation six times and being told that they needed to transfer me to “The right department” I finally got one very pleasant young lady who took the time to investigate properly.  After 52 minutes on the phone with DirecTV I was informed that they absolutely can do what I’m asking them to do, but that it’s at the discretion of the installation tech whether he will do it.  The best advice she could give me was that I should call the installer back and tell them this.  I was waiting for a call from a supervisor from that company anyway and when it hadn’t come in over 90 minutes (I told them I needed a call “right away” about what they planned to do because “my entire day is now on hold waiting for you”) I called them again.

I called the install company back and was disconnected right after they answered the phone.  I called again and the phone rang twice and then there was nothing but static and crackling on the line.  I called a third time and got an answer but the person sounded like he was across the room from the phone and the static and crackling were still there.  I explained that I was expecting a call from the supervisor and he insisted on knowing what it was about before sending my information on.  I explained the information I had gotten from DirecTV to him and then he seemed to disappear for a moment.  When he came back I couldn’t understand what he was saying and the best I could come up with was that he was e-mailing the supervisor this information.  After giving the operator an earful about how horrible their service is, how terrible their phone system is and how they’re making me question my decision to come back to DirecTV I told him that I expected the call from the supervisor within one hour.  If I did not hear from him within one our I was going to cancel my order.

When one hour ended, I called DirecTV back for one sole purpose.  I explained my entire situation, yet again, to “the right person” and I explained to her that I was just about finished.  I told her that I was calling to cancel my order, but before I did, I wanted to give them one last-ditch opportunity to try to save my business, because based on my own experiences, I was of the opinion that DirecTV has the best product on the market and I had once been a satisfied DirecTV customer.  She confirmed that everything I had been told was true but that it is up to the install company whether they would do it.  She said that she could not order them to do the install the way I wanted.  I made it very clear that if they didn’t I was going to cancel my order and she wasn’t going to budge.  Finally, I said, “OK, well then let me give you my order number so you can cancel my order.”  Without a flinch, or a hint of apology, she said, “Sure!” and put me on hold.  A few minutes later she came back, told me the order was canceled and asked if there was anything else she could do for me.  I said, “No!  I’m just really disappointed to find that you don’t care any more than that to keep your customers.”  Again, without an apology she said, “OK, have a nice day.”

I guess that wasn’t so brief, but you know me, once I get started…

The one bright point to that story is that while I was waiting for the installer and arguing with the people on the phone, I also made a huge dent in the mess that is my apartment.  I went through a bunch of papers and disposed of what I could, separating the rest to be filed away (which I still need to do).   I did a little bit of organizing and putting stuff away.  I really made a good start.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get started again since.

Tuesday, I got up with a plan.  I was out of bed by 6:45.  I spent the morning, taking care of some computer stuff I needed to do, while mentally planning my day.  I was going to leave home by 10:30 to go to the gym, spend 45 minutes doing cardio, take a shower (I wanted to compare the locker room and showers to the gym by my office) and then head toward my therapists office in Berkeley for our 2:00 appointment, getting lunch along the way.  I got a late start leaving for the gym.  I was all ready to go when…  My coffee kicked in.  There are few things I hate more than pooping at the gym so I was late heading out.  I got to the gym at about 12:20 and by the time I found a locker, and unpacked my gym bag, I really only had about 20 minutes for my cardio before I had to take my shower.  I went back into the locker room at about 1:05 and was dressed and leaving the gym by 1:30.

When I got into the car, I noticed I had a voice mail on my cell phone.  It was Deb, wondering where I was since I was 15 minutes late for our 1:00 appointment.  I called her back, but of course there was no way I was going to arrive before our hour was up.  I mentioned something to her about how I had it at 1:00 in my calendar, but in my mind it was “at our regular time of 2:00.”  She pointed out that 1:00 is our regular time, which, of course, it is…  Vacation brain fart!  One hundred dollars down the drain.

I headed to Berkeley anyway, because I had other plans for after our appointment.  After a quick stop off at Taco Bell, I went to the tattoo shop where I got my last piece done to look through their books for inspiration and to ask about piercing.  They don’t do piercing and I didn’t find any inspiration in their books, but they did refer me to another tattoo shop a mile up the street that does piercing, and with only a minimal amount of trepidation, and after many months (years) of consideration, I had this done:

Somebody needs a shave!

The upper one.  Obviously my lobe has been done for a while.  They said this will take 2-3 months to heal, but once it does, I’ll replace the stud with some sort of hoop.  The piercing itself really didn’t hurt, despite what I’d been told by some.  It was a little more tender after I left the shop, a kind of delayed reaction, but that didn’t really last all that long and then it was fine.  It’s a little ouchy while doing the cleaning routine, but for the most part I can’t even feel it, unless I bump it accidentally (doesn’t even hurt to lie on it at night.  Even the back of the post doesn’t poke into my head, which I thought it would.)

Today, I–  Well, I ended up sort of wasting the day.  I got up at 6:30 and putted around the house for a while, taking care of social networking stuff and doing my daily Fish Wrangler tournament.  I watched an episode of Glee and then I headed out around 10:00 for a…  personal grooming appointment… followed by a small amount of shopping and lunch.  Even less shopping than I had planned since I had the good sense to check the status of my checking account before I spent too much money.

So that gets us all caught up.  Sorry my vacation stories aren’t more exciting….

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and, somehow, soak my ear in salt water (part of the cleaning regimen.)  This should be entertaining!