What’s the Opposite of Clinical Depression?

The last month and a half or so have been surprisingly good.  I mentioned some time ago that I’m doing okay emotionally speaking.  It’s weird for me.  I’m used to being dissatisfied and unhappy about the way things are.  I’m used to this underlying current of…. well…  depression.  That’s what it is, so why am I looking for another word to convey it?

I am, by no means, implying that I’m “cured”, and I am afraid that it’s not going to last, but, something has changed.  Things are different now.  I’m not quite sure what did it.  Maybe it’s not having the secret of my sexuality hanging over my head.  Maybe it’s the fact that I finished my book and I’m taking the next steps in that process.  Maybe it’s just that 36 1/2 years was long enough and those depressive neural pathways have shorted out.  Somehow I doubt that it’s that last one.

Admittedly, it was easier to feel good about life when I was on vacation and therefore could sleep late and do whatever I wanted with my day while still having the guarantee of a pay check every other Friday.  Now I’m back at work and really nothing has changed about work.  I’m finding it really hard to go there.  Not because I’m dreading going to work specifically, just because it’s really hard to get up and get moving in the mornings.  And my brain seems to want to believe that I’m still on vacation even though I know it’s not true.  I’ve been staying up way too late, which makes getting up early for work very difficult.  I’ve got to change that behavior, post-haste.

That is not to say that I don’t dread coming to work… Or more specifically, it’s not to say that I look forward to coming to work.  But I’ve really begun to see what an easy gig I’ve got, and how little is required of me for the money I make.  In that respect, at least, I’m really, very lucky.

As I mentioned before, I’m very much aware of how little value I add to the operation around the office and knowing that leaves me unfulfilled.  I want to do a job that I feel like matters and/or that leaves me fulfilled with the outcome.  It seems like that would be one and the same, but I’m not sure.

I’ve been dragging my feet a bit on the EMT thing and if most people asked me why, I would tell them it’s because there aren’t really any jobs to be had, and that’s true.  And I’d tell them that I haven’t figured out a way to do that job and still make a living wage, and that’s also true… though my definition of “a living wage” may or may not be accurate in most peoples eyes.

The reality is, though, I’m scared.  I’m scared of taking a huge risk and finding out that I’m not happy doing that job.  I’m scared of finding that I’m not really very good at it.  I’m questioning whether it’s really right for me.  And I don’t know if that questioning is because my spirit is trying to tell me something my brain doesn’t want to know, or if that questioning is my fear trying to hold me back.  We’ve all heard the old saying, “…those who can’t, teach.”  What if that’s all I am is a teacher?  (And before anyone says it, I can’t be a teacher either, not before I have some practical experience to fall back on.)

So it’s true that I’m dragging my feet for practical concerns but that’s not the only reason.  Still, I put a lot of effort and energy into that training and there’s a part of me that feels like to give up on it would be wasting something valuable.  What I’ve been thinking about for the last several months, though, is that I can’t make enough money to support my current lifestyle working full-time as an EMT.  And then I realized, I’ve fallen back into an all-or-nothing way of thinking.  IF I can find a part-time job as an EMT, I have the option to go part-time in my current job as well.  I’d still take a cut in pay, but not nearly as much.

A recent comment on my blog reminded me of something that, oddly enough, I’ve forgotten:  I love to write and would really like to get paid to do it.  Actually, for some reason it seems important to make the distinction that, more so than wanting to be paid to write, I want to be paid for my writing.  I see a difference between the two and for me that difference is this: when a person get’s paid to write, they are compensated for the act of writing.  When a person is paid for their writing someone has purchased the words, placed value on the information or opinion or story that is created and ideally it’s a residual income for the product rather than a one time check for your time.  I suppose I’m splitting hairs and I certainly wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to be paid to write, but I’d really like to be paid for my writing.

Yesterday, I discussed my position with Deb: Ten years in a job I don’t love with no idea of where to go from here, but knowing there will be no more advancement in my current position.  A desire to make use of my training.  A desire to write for profit.  We talked about figuring out what it is I want to do and then how to pursue it.  I told her, “That’s kind of my problem.  I want three things: 1) to make use of my EMT Training, 2) to write and 3) to make at least $XX,XXX a year.” (Obviously, those X’s were real numbers, but I’m wondering if it’s tacky to talk dollar amounts here…)

Deb said, “But don’t you make pretty close to $XX,XXX already?”

“Including my bonus, I made $XX,XXX and change last year,” I told her.  (those first two X’s were the same numbers in all three instances.)

She said, “Okay!  So you’ve already achieved one of those things.”

Part of what I’ve been struggling with is the money.  I think we know by now that I grew up in a poor family and I suffered a lot of lack.  The pain of that manifest itself in my own relationship with money and how I handled it when I started earning my own.  It took me a long time to understand that and learn to be more responsible, and I would by no means say that I’ve learned everything I need to in that regard but for the first time I feel financially secure.  I make a nice income and can afford all my bills.  Recently, I’ve even been able to afford a little bit of a social life, though admittedly that’s due, at least in part, to the insurance reimbursement for my therapy bills.  Still, I’m understandably hesitant to make a change that will reduce my income.

So it’s difficult for me to not see things in a limited capacity.  Either I accept that what I have here and now is the only way for me to make a livable income and I stay here for thirteen more years (the company has some odd equation having to do with your age and the number of years of service for when you can retire with benefits), or I quit and pursue some of my other interests which will, at least in the short-term, leave me extremely lacking.  It might be noble to “do what you love, even for less money”, but for me, the money is part of the equation.  If I’m not making a satisfactory income, I doubt that I’ll be happy doing what I’m doing…  I know that’s not all there is, it’s just that, for now, I can’t see anything else.

Deb said, “You’ve already accomplished one of those things.  You already make $XX,XXX a year.”

I told her, “Yes, but I didn’t say I want to work as an EMT, get paid to write OR make $XX,XXX.  I said I want to work as an EMT, get paid to write AND make $XX,XXX, or more.  The problem is, I haven’t figure out a way to make those three things happen.”

There was a brief pause and just as Deb opened her mouth to say something, I said, “And yes, I realized the end of all of those sentences is, ‘At least not yet.'”

And We’re Back

Well, it was fun while it lasted but, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end eventually.

After two long and wonderful weeks off work, I’m back in the office today where, really, nothing much has changed.  I don’t really know what I was expecting.  The same messes are still in the back room.  My office is exactly the way I left it, not that I expected much to change.  Bertha has been out most of the time I’ve been gone with some sort of medical issue.  She’s fine now, or so I’m told (she’s still out of the office,) but with her absence it was just K and John.

I don’t seem to have missed much.  It was the holiday’s so that certainly accounts for some of it, but I’m also reminded that my presence here isn’t all that valuable.  I’m not complaining, mind you.  I’ve got a decent job with a good pay check.  It’s just apparent that life would carry on here without my help, if I weren’t here.

On my last day before vacation, John gave me my annual evaluation.  It was good, of course, though it seemed a bit contrived; speaking of nothing ever changing.  We had the requisite “where do you see yourself in…” conversation.  K and I have a term for the outcome of these conversations.  It’s “ponies”.  John has all kinds of grandiose things to say and ideas about what we can do within the department or the company.  He makes big assertions about what he will do for us, and then they don’t amount to anything, ever.  In other words, he promises us pretty, pretty ponies.  This time the pony was the prospect of a new job, within the hierarchy, above my current level…

This May I will have my ten-year anniversary in this job.  I will have worked for the same company, in the same department, for the same manager, doing more or less the same job, for ten years.  Sure, there have been minor changes here and there in my responsibilities, but for the most part, it’s been the same job.  I have been promoted three times and received two additional title changes that were lateral moves.  I’ve received raises every year; some better than others based on the economy.  But what I’ve been acutely aware of, lately, is that I’ve gone as far as I can go in this position.  There are no more promotions to be had.  No more title changes likely.  No more progress to be made in this position.  I’m in the Army: I AM all I can be… here.

The idea behind that discussion was that John thought it was a good move and would campaign for a new position to be created, wherein I would run the Emergency Response Program for the entire region, not just for our building.  It would be a lot more work and a lot more responsibility, and to be honest, I’m not 100% sure it’s what I want, but it would be progression…

This morning, in a brief conversation with John, it became apparent that he doesn’t really think anything will come of the idea.  Basically, he doesn’t think he can convince the right people of the value of such a manuever, and I can’t say I’m surprised.  I believe I’ll name this Pony “believe it when you see it.”

Long before my evaluation happened though, I began thinking about what comes next.  I knew I had gone as far as I could go in this position and unless I want to spend the next 20 years doing the exact same thing I’m doing now (I don’t) for incrementally more money (I can’t,) it’s time to start making a change.  This year, I have to really think about the direction my “career” is going to go and start making some things happen.  I put “career” in quotes because I’ve never thought of this as a career, just a job.  But after ten years, is that still true?

Stay-cation Done Right

It’s the last work day of my stay-cation.  I don’t have to go to work until Monday, of course, but still, today is the last day that everyone has to work and I do not.  It’s been a really nice break and it has gone surprisingly slowly.  After the first week was over, I felt like it had already been two weeks and so I was super excited to still have another week before I had to go back to work.

I haven’t accomplished everything I wanted to with this time off, but my list was pretty lofty and I’m happy with the things I did accomplish: clean and organized kitchen, tidied up living room, time with friends, a little trip out of town…  Actually, maybe we won’t list what I did accomplish; it’ll seem like too little. 😉

I think I’ve probably mentioned before that I crochet.  My mother taught my sister when we were kids and I wanted to do anything my sister did so I had to learn too.  Now, I find it very relaxing and enjoyable, even though I don’t do it as often as I would like.  Michelle has a friend who is having a baby in late March or early April and she asked me to make a blanket for the friend/baby.  We stopped last night on the way back from Cache Creek to buy yarn, and today, instead of being super productive on my last paid day off, I’ve sat around clearing out my DVR and crocheting.  I suppose one could argue that the crocheting is productive since I have an easily attainable deadline, but there’s still a pile of clothes to be ironed and a stack of papers to organize and put away and a–  You know what?  We won’t make that list either.

I did get a lot of good things accomplished and I had a nice relaxing and enjoyable break, too.

All in all, I think I did this stay-cation just about right!

Honey, I’m Home

That’s what I told Mischa when I finally got home tonight, about six hours later than I had planned.  I let him out of the cage right away and fed him (his bowl was completely empty, but I left him enough for a day and a half before I left at 11:00 yesterday morning, so we were pretty much right on schedule and he hasn’t scarfed down what I gave him so he must be OK.)

Michelle and her family have gone to Cache Creek Casino a number of times over the last several years but I’ve never gone with them.  Not that I didn’t think there was any fun to be had there, it just seemed silly to go to a Casino for a couple of hours and then turn around and come home again, and a casino not in Nevada, to boot!

When planning this stay-cation, I wanted to go on one over night trip, just to get away and not be at home.  The original plan was to go to Monterrey and spend the night and then get up and go whale watching, but Michelle nixed that idea when her sister reminded her that “it’s winter” and the water will probably be choppy.  Michelle has gotten seasick a few times when she’s gone before and she figured she’d stand a pretty good chance of getting sick again if we went “in winter” so we decided to go to the casino instead.

Cache Creek is an “Indian casino”.  One of those “on sovereign land – exempt from state gaming laws” kind of places.  I’m using quotes on the “Indian casino” because it had a lot of Asian influences, in both the casino and the hotel room.  Michelle had never spent the night there and neither one of us knew what we were in for, but I guess my hopes weren’t all that high, so when we walked into the room, I was blown away.

No sooner did I get out my camera to take some pictures than I realized my batteries were dead and I didn’t have any more, so all these pictures are taken using my iPhone.  They’re not too bad, considering, but cut me some slack if they’re a bit blurry.

We walked in the door of the room and the first thing I noticed was the beautiful wood flooring.

I immediately noticed the door on the left and knew it to be the door to the adjoining room next door.  Ignored that.  Wasn’t using it.  But here’s the deal; Michelle was supposed to send pictures to her sister, and I wanted to take pictures for you guys (you know you want them!) so I wanted all luggage and stuff out of sight.  I went looking for the closet to throw the luggage into and pulled the sliding door on the right back thinking it would be the closet.  You guys!!

The bathroom!

That door leads to a separate and private room for the toilet.  Look how all the towels are folded to look like little shirt collars.  Look at the “flower” in the Kleenex dispenser.

I wish I’d gotten a better picture of that tub!  My goodness!  It was so deep.  Sadly, I didn’t get an opportunity to use it, but I sat in it (how could I not) and it was amazing.  The only criticism I have is that it wasn’t a whirlpool tub.  How awesome would that be?  The shower could have been a little bigger, but it was pretty nice.  Also, it had one of those rain fall shower heads, which are supposed to be nice and luxurious, but I prefer more water pressure than that when I shower, so I could have done without it.  Clearly a matter of personal preference.

The main room was delightful as well.  I loved the benches at the ends of the beds, the pillows and cushions, the linens.  The lighting fixtures and options were really nice too.  The only problem was that there were halogen light fixtures centered over the head of each bed, but they were both on the same switch.  Michelle kept turning on the light without warning and blinding me.  I loved the chrome flexible reading lights next to each bed.  I didn’t use it but I thought it was a nice idea.

I always get the bed by the window.  I like it cooler and brighter and Michelle likes it warmer and darker so it works out.  If it was up to her, the curtains would be completely closed and the room would be oven warm, but we manage.  Or should I say, she manages.  She always manages to sleep anyway and I know this because long before I’ve had a chance to get situated and go to sleep, she’s ALREADY STARTED SNORING…

That bed looks beautiful right?  Unfortunately, it was terribly uncomfortable.  Clearly everyone who ever slept in it, slept just on the side closest to the night stand, because that side of the bed was all broken down and sagging. I suppose I should have complained but it was 11:30 PM before I got into it and I didn’t want to move at that point, even if they were able to offer.  Between the snoring and the bad mattress, I didn’t get much sleep last night.

The room had one of those nifty Kuerig Coffee makers.  And in the cupboard below was a small refrigerator.  A must for any hotel room, as far as I’m concerned.  Do I even need to say that I’m not being compensated by Kuerig for this post?  ‘Cause I’m not.  Although…  If they wanted to send me a free coffee maker in exchange for my mentioning them here, I’d gladly accept it and amend this post to say that they did!  Just, don’t send me this one.  I want a bigger, prettier one that has a reservoir to hold water and keep it hot.  This one took a little while to brew because it had to heat the water first.  (By the way, I wasn’t compensated in anyway by Cache Creek either…  Am I really required to say these things?)

So, earlier, when I said I always get the bed by the window, because I like more ambient light than Michelle does…

This hotel is literally out in the middle of no where.  It’s about 80 miles north of San Francisco surrounded by very rural land.  It’s winter so nothing is growing but we drove past a lot of groves…  Olive groves, grape fields, I don’t know, but there’s not much around this hotel for miles.  It was nearly dusk when we got into the room and this was our view…  Well, if you looked up and straight ahead, that was our view…

This was the closer view.  What’re ya gonna do?

We arrived at the “resort” at about 1:30, but the room wasn’t available to go into until after 4:00 so we spent some time in the casino.  While it’s not nearly as bad as a Nevada casino in this respect, there is smoking allowed at he casino and the air inside was a little thick with smoke.  Normally I wouldn’t have cared, much, but I’m still trying to get over this bronchitis mess and it was really irritating my airway and triggering the coughing, so I was glad for the “fresh” air of the hotel room.  We sat in the room for a little while talking and when we were about to go back down and find some dinner, Michelle went into the bathroom.  While I was waiting for her, I was sitting in one of the chairs by the bed and I saw a reflection of the view outside through the mirror on the wall.  For a moment I thought the hill outside was on fire and I was reminded of a scene, late in the TV series M*A*S*H.  Colonel Potter is standing outside looking at the glowing horizon and one of the other characters walks up to him.  The other character (don’t remember who it was) comments on how beautiful the sunset is and Colonel Potter says, “Yep.  Only the sun sets in the west.  That’s the east.”  They had to pick up the camp and move until the fire passed.

What I saw in the mirror, was, of course, the sun setting over top of the distant mountains, which were, thankfully, to the west of the hotel. 🙂

It was really nice to get away, even just for a night.  Unfortunately, I didn’t win big.  In fact I didn’t win at all, but I went there we $73.00 and I came home with $20.15.  My philosophy of casinos is I don’t gamble, I pay to play games and sometimes I win a prize, but usually I just entertain myself for a little while.  So if you look at it that way, $52.85 for a day of game playing, isn’t so bad.  And I had a good time.  That’s all that matters!

 

 

Busy Stay-Cation

I usually make the excuse that I write at work because I’m there so much and I have no time for writing at home…  That sounds nice, but since I’ve been off work since December 23rd and I didn’t write a thing between December 22nd and really, yesterday, that’s not much of an excuse.  You’d think there would have been many blog posts during this stay-cation.

This has been one of the best vacations I’ve had in a while, I mean, you know, for not having gone anywhere.  I received an infusion of cash (insurance reimbursement for my therapy bills) just as this stay-cation was beginning which enabled me to comfortably purchase Christmas gifts for all the people on my list to buy gifts for; fancy coffee for my mother, A GPS for Michelle, an Afterglow PS3 controller for Lil’B as well as art supplies for his birthday (which is 12/31), a cordless drill for my oldest niece (this is what she wanted.  Don’t judge me.), a horse game for my second niece and a little plush, radio control fire truck for my nephew.  Everything arrived on time and was properly distributed.  As far as I know everyone appreciated their gifts.  I was concerned that the art supplies would pale in Lil’B’s eyes compared to the controller, but he said he was excited about the art supplies.

I have spent a lot of time at home during this stay-cation, which is fine ’cause it was kind of the plan.  Stay home, clean, organize, generally get things in better shape.  I haven’t accomplished nearly as much as I had hoped I would, but I’ve gotten a lot done and I’m quite happy about hat.  One of my Christmas gifts to myself is something I’ve wanted for a long time but just didn’t convince myself to spend the money on.  I decided recently that I was determined to get the item and so when I got the cash infusion, I took my 20% off coupon and headed right out to Bed, Bath and Beyond where I bought a Roomba, robot vacuum cleaner.

You guys! I’m so glad I bought this thing and I wish I had gotten it a long time ago!  It’s awesome!  It does a very effective job and it requires almost no effort on my part.  I say almost, because I do have to empty the little bin pretty much every day and I do have to push the button to turn it on…  Well I don’t have to.  There is an auto start feature, I just haven’t enabled it.  I also have to make sure there is nothing on the floor to get in its way.  This thing is surprisingly assertive and I have found that I have to make sure that all cords and cables are well out of the way or it will run over them and cause problems.  Though it is smart enough to stop running before it gets too tangled up in something, it will try a bit to vacuum the thing up, before it gives up.  My biggest fear was that it would not be able to get over the lip into the kitchen, which is the messiest room because that’s where the cat litter is, but the Roomba jumps the curb like it’s no big deal.  The other concern I had was how Mischa would react to it.  He has always been afraid of vacuum cleaners and whenever I would turn one on, he would run and hide behind a chair or something.  He doesn’t seem overly concerned about the Roomba which is louder than I had hoped, but far and away quieter than any manual powered vacuum I’ve ever owned.  What’s really funny is that the Roomba, which has a built-in extra-dirt-detection sensor, seems to identify Mischa as a pile of extra dirt and it routinely targets him and heads straight toward him.  Mischa, being the mental giant that he is, just stands there until the Roomba actually bumps into him and then he acts indignant that it came after him.  Roomba has a little side brush which is designed to brush debris away from walls and out into it’s path.  Sometimes this side brush will bump against Mischa’s feet and then he tries to pounce on the brushes.  It’s really quite funny.  But I can run the Roomba everyday without causing any great turmoil for Mischa and that’s what I wanted, so I’m really quite thrilled with my purchase and wish I had done it long ago!  Now I really want a Scooba.  It’s made by the same people and it’s designed to wash hard floors.  The problem is, it says it’s safe on “sealed hardwood floors” and I’m sure mine is not sealed.  Bummer!

 

Michelle had a “lounge” party, on Christmas Eve at her apartment.  She insists it was always a lounge party (wear lounge pants and t-shirts) but her sister kept calling it a pajama party and I swear Michelle called it a pajama party the first time she mentioned it to me.  I pointed out that I don’t wear pajamas and that no one wants to see that, and that’s when she started calling it a “lounge” party.  It was a nice time.  Her three-year-old great-nephew was there and Michelle handed him my Christmas present and asked him to bring it to me.  Somehow, between that time and the time he handed it to me, the paper… ahem… fell off the gift.  She gave me a heated mattress pad, which is something I had been wanting for a while, only, you know how when you build something up in your mind and it’s going to be so wonderful and then you actually get the thing and it can’t live up to the expectations you built…  Yeah, that.  I felt badly ’cause I want to take it back, but I didn’t want to hurt Michelle’s feelings.  When I got over to her house this past Friday to do my laundry (since Saturday was New Year’s Eve) she was in the process of repackaging the one she had bought for herself to take it back.  She didn’t like it.  She let me off the hook and told me that I could return the one she got me if I wanted.  I told her I would probably do that and that I’d bring it back to her (since she had the receipt) and she could take it back and get me something else and wrap it up for me, and then maybe I’ll get to open MY OWN Christmas present.

 

I took Lil’B to Benihana for his Birthday dinner…  Actually it was kind of confusing. I took him, on December 26th and I told him, this is a special dinner to celebrate his Birthday, where he will get his Christmas present, and then at the next dinner on January 2nd, he would get his Birthday present.  I hadn’t been to  a Benihana in many years and while I knew it was a lot of fun, I also thought I remembered that it was a long and drawn out affair so I made reservations for 5:00.  He was out of school so it wasn’t a school night, but I figured we shouldn’t be out too late.  Dinner was over at 6:50 and Lil’B didn’t want to go home yet.  I called his mother and got her blessing and we went to a movie after dinner.  I got to take him to one of my favorite Movie Theaters.  It’s just and AMC theater, but it’s in the middle of San Francisco and it’s in an old building they renovated.  It’s a 12 screen cinema, but there are only four theaters to a floor, and there are three levels of theaters.  Since they are stadium seating, each theater is two stories, so this building is about 8 stories tall and I just find it fascinating.

We saw Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.  This movie was horrendous!  I mean, truly, truly, terrible!  Now I know, this movie is not geared toward my age group, but I thoroughly enjoyed the first two so it was sadly disappointing to me that I didn’t like this one as much, but on the plus side, there was a moment in this wretched movie that actually made Lil’B laugh out loud and if you’ve been coming around here long, you know what an accomplishment that is.  I’d sit through it again just to hear that!

The next day, I went to therapy, did a little shopping and went over to hang out with my friend Karin and her two kids.  I ended up staying through dinner and had a nice time.  She introduced me to some fancy operations that my iPhone is capable of and I wasn’t even aware… Giving me pause to consider the value in some new equipment purchases.  I’ll have to give that some thought.

 

Friday I went to Michelle’s house to do my laundry and hang out.  I got there early and after I started my first load, she and her great-nephew and I went to breakfast.  The boy was quite rambunctious and energetic.  It was fun though.  He runs kind of hot and cold when it comes to me, well, anyway, hot and luke warm.  Apparently, since he was a baby baby, I’m the only male, outside his immediate family that he would let hold him.  Other men would pick him up and he’d immediately squirm and cry and want to get away and with me, he was fine.  Now that he’s a little older and has a personality, he doesn’t dislike me, but he often doesn’t want to engage with me.  But this day, as soon as I walked in he was all over me, asking me questions and talking to me and wanting to sit with me.  It was almost too much, but it was still nice to see.

 

I’ve mentioned in the past how I do not want to be home on New Year’s Eve.  My mother never went anywhere or did anything and all we ever did was sat in the living room and watch TV.  Theoretically, watching “the ball drop” only my mother was forever surfing channels trying to get away from all that horrible secular music that was always on the network shows.  We would watch something from Washington, DC on PBS, which was always live and therefore an hour early, plus fireworks on TV just do not have the same effect.  From 11:00 to 11:58:30 she would surf around trying to find something that wasn’t rock and roll music and then at the last second (sometimes after the last second) turn the TV to one of the networks.  We’d say “happy new year” and then go to bed.  I swore that when I had it in my own power I was not just going to sit around at home on New Year’s Eve.  This has proven to be problematic from time to time because I hate crowds too, but I make the best of it.

In years past I’ve gone out of town for New Year’s Eve spending a few days in another place away from home and with more excitement than I’ve got here.  Most of the time, New Year’s Eve was just the excuse I needed to go on a trip, but I still enjoyed myself.  I’ve been to Las Vegas a couple of times, Los Angeles a couple of times, Reno a couple of times.  Last year we got a room a the Embarcadero Hilton in San Francisco and had a really lovely evening, but it ended up costing as much as a three night trip out of town.  This year, Michelle and I had 10:00 reservations at a restaurant called Skates on the Bay, which is, as you might imagine, on the San Francisco Bay.  I had never been, though Michelle had a couple of times.  The plan was to have dinner and then stroll out side to the water front where we would watch the fireworks from San Francisco at midnight.  In an all too familiar scene, Michelle was in the bathroom at midnight and I stood by the windows of the restaurant where we had JUST gotten our check and watched the fireworks by myself (le sigh).  It’s okay.  This is kind of terrible for me to say, but I feel like midnight on New Year’s Eve is a moment that, ideally should be shared romantically and I don’t have any romantic feelings for Michelle, maybe being alone at that moment was better.  The fire works display was nice, though I feel like it looses some of its splendor when you can’t hear, and just as importantly, feel them.  The display was the same one we watched last year, which means it was shot off from a barge outside the San Francisco Ferry Building, about six and a half miles away.  I’m always caught a little by surprise at how small they are from what seems like such a short distance.

After dinner, I took Michelle back to her sister’s house, dropped her off and came home.  I would have liked to have been somewhere else for a little vacation and I got a wild idea that may not really be financially feasible that I’d really like to go to Australia for next New Year’s Eve, but as long as my 19 1/2 year old cat is with me, that can’t happen.

Last night was another dinner with Lil’B.  We went to a local place I’d never been to called The South Shore Cafe.  It was very ordinary, but it was something new for both of us and I’m trying to expose him to new things, so it was fun.  We talked a little bit about his birthday.  He said he couldn’t remember what kind of cake he had but that it had Oreos on it.  I asked him if they had ice cream and he said no, so I had to rectify the no birthday ice cream problem.  We went to a local ice cream shop called Loard’s (I learned it is supposed to be pronounced “Lo-ard’s” as it is a compilation of the two founders last names.)  Loard’s is a 100% local company that makes its own ice cream in a local factory and it was really quite good.  When I was looking at the flavors on the board I was caught by surprise and was a little grossed out by “Avocado flavor” but I had to taste it.  It was surprisingly good, although, honestly, it tasted mostly like Vanilla.

 

This morning I had an orthodontist appointment, I wasn’t holding my breath, though I was hoping today would be the big day.  No such luck.  In fact based on the conversation I had today with “Dr. Jeff”, (I always wondered how the staff differentiated between the father and the son, now I know) it looks like two to three more months.  The day Dr. Jeff put them on he told me 12-18 months, this is the 13th month.  On the plus side though, I paid my final payment today and have one few debts hanging over my head! Yay!

 

Tonight I have dinner with an old friend of mine, and tomorrow Michelle and I are going, over-night, to Cache Creek Casino and Resort.  It’s an Indian run casino about 90 minutes north of here.  We’ll go and play for the afternoon, then spend the night in a hotel room, have breakfast and head back.  That’s about as long as I can leave Mischa on his own since he’s confined to the cage and he eats canned food, but it’ll be nice to get a little tiny break anyway.

 

*Oh by the way, I guess I’m supposed to say that despite my glowing report (and despite the two additional people I’ve about talked into it – my mother says I should get a commisison) I am not being compensated in anyway by Roomba, or Bed Bath and Beyond or any other products or merchants I may have mentioned here…  Dammit.

Hat Trick

I really should not be writing this.  I should be leaving my office, where I’m sitting at 7:29 on a Friday night.  But see, I’ve posted something every day this week.  That’s something I haven’t pulled off in ages.  I don’t want to drop the ball now.

I can already tell you that today is the last day in the streak.  Tomorrow is laundry day and unless Michelle leaves me alone at her apartment and I get inspired I don’t expect to get around to blogging.  That’s OK.  I kinda give myself a break on the weekends.

You might be wondering why I’m still sitting in my office at 7:30 on a Friday night.  Well, you see, technically speaking, as of 5:00 this evening I am on vacation.  Well strictly speaking I’m on stay-home-and-spring-clean-my-house-cation, but that doesn’t sound nearly as fun as “vacation” does.  Since I am going to be off work for the next week, there were some things I had to resolve before I go and now I have, more or less.  Enough to be safe while I’m out anyway.

Yes for the next nine glorious days, I do not have to set foot on the premises of this God forsaken place where I work and I’m thrilled! Hopefully, I’ll truly be free of this place, but you know, we can never be sure of that…

I haven’t had an opportune time to drop this tidbit of information but, as of yesterday, my [insert unpleasant expletive here] of a boss is gone for 3-6 months.  He was asked to take a temporary assignment helping to establish a handful of facilities which my illustrious employer is opening (has opened?  I don’t even know) on Hawaii.  They have a Facility Services Director there, but apparently he is struggling in some way and needs help to get things up and running, and for reasons that are simply unfathomable to me, they asked my boss to go.  This does not mean a promotion, a raise or even any kind of differential for me, but it does mean more responsibilities.

We have an “acting manager” but he happens to be a horrible little troll that we all greatly dislike and would rather have nothing to do with and I am the not-always-so-proud holder of a company paid (and e-mail enabled) Blackberry, and well, while you might think grown-folks would know better than to contact me, I just can’t be sure of that.  And of course, I realize that it’s up to me whether I reply to the messages, and I probably won’t, but man wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go the whole week without anyone from work demanding my time or attention?

Oh, and of course, you all know that Blackberries don’t have off buttons…  right?

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!