Thursday, March 23, 2006

I must admit, the smell of Oregon has appealed to me. It's been raining here and from the moment I got off the plane it was like visiting a city nestled into the forest. A damp pine forest. I mean, they make air fresheners that smell like this. And what's this? I can *smell it*. I normally can't smell shit. It's a pretty nice place to visit.

This visit for me is bittersweet. Once again, it's another in an long line of short contracts that involves me leaving home for a full week. My weekend, lasted only a little more than 24 hours. Baltimore, my family, it all seems like eons ago I saw them. But it hasn't even been a week. Thanks to my trouble with travel agents, I am about to embark Oregon into Airline hell. From Portland, I will be flying out to San Diego. I'm sure it's nice this time of year. Although, the airport terminal is where I will be -and it's probably 70 degrees year round.

I'll be in San Diego overnight. I'll arrive around midnight. And I will be "hanging loose" until around 7:30 in the morning. I'll then board a plane and fly to ... Vega. VIVA! LAS VEGAS! Yeah, that's right. The city of sin. But I'll only be there an hour or so (in the airport again). At that point I will board a plane and head on out to Columbus Ohio. My home. And when I arrive there, I will be committing another act of time travel. Flying forward through time, I will loose roughly three hours, arriving sometime in the afternoon.

And what do I have to look forward to next week, Maryland again?

I seem to remember looking at people in suits wandering around downtown like mindless sheep. I remember thinking to myself "that will never be me". I will never take some shitty job where you have to "dress up" to go to work. Yet here I am ... bouncing through flights trying to get home ... and stuffing my necktie into my backpack.

Just before I left town, my wife's grandfather was checked into the hospital for heart trouble. We rushed to the hospital as soon as we heard and found him sitting up in a bed chowing down on some hospital food like you wouldn't believe. For me, it was great to see him. He was a little tired from being probed and moved around for the past day and a half, but was otherwise looking good. I was glad we came. But he did that awkward thing that people of his age do: he reminisced. I understand it. And I hope that I will someday be able to look back and reminisce about a wonderful life with my grandkids. Yet, at the same time, it was very, very, saddening. This was his way to letting us know that "he's all right". A tender way of letting you know that he is happy with the life he's had, and he doesn't fear what's next even if that means passing on.

His biggest concern was of course for Grandma. He worries sick about her, as she has not been in the best of health either. Although, he looked good! How bad could the news be about these tests that they were performing. Pretty bad, it seems. The day after I arrived in Oregon I called my wife to learn that he was going to need an assortment of surgeries (immediately) or he had no chance of survival. The operation is planned for tomorrow of all days. So my wife will be stuck with my kids (they're off school) and most likely at the hospital to support poor Grandma where everyone will be praying for the best. And here I will be, sleeping in a terminal in San Diego. I should be home. Home needs me.

If anything good came out of this trip, it was my visit to the University of Oregons Library. It's an amazing collection of books that spans six stories, includes group study facilities on every floor, and several "quiet areas" that seat a hundred or more students each. Having nothing to do, and dreading "hotel living" I spent most of my free time there (before class, after class, lunches, etc). There was a vast collection of Buddhist books, some of which were copied from overseas and reprinted as "photo-stats". One book inparticular really impressed me, and I read the better part of it on my trip. I was so impressed, I went on Amazon this morning and bought it. It seems it's been reprinted several times since it was originally printed in 1960.

Well, I am off. Perhaps I will post more later. When I am trapped in San Diego.

Historic Comments mission_id=57

Hey Ray. I saw this and thought you would get a big kick out of it.


EvilRich | 05.09.06 - 8:03 am | #

Ray can u sexor my body?

Cerberus | Homepage | 05.13.06 - 9:44 pm | #

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The End Is Near
I was driving into Maryland last evening, and the moon appeared over the horizon. It seemed enormous. It was the "fullest full moon" that I have ever witnessed. It glowed so bright deer were still hanging at the side of route 68' to feast at 10:00PM. As that moon appeared to me, I think my heart must have skipped a beat. I just wasn't expecting it, and damned if it didn't startle me. I was approaching 8 hours in the car, and my mind was probably beginning to fall apart. Or perhaps my mind had just wandered so far off track that I was in a state of temporary shock. But why did I jump? What did I think it was? I have often have these dreams that the bomb has been dropped, and I see the end coming yet there is no time to react. When the air raid sirens ring out at noon on Wednesday afternoon, it sends chills up my spine.

It's that same dream I always have. Not enough time.

So a shrink might tell me "you're spending too much time away from your family, and you feel your end is coming". That shrink would be right. Not that I foresee my own death any time in the near future. But if I died today, would I be happy with the way things went? Does anyone ever look back in life and relish those long hours at the hotel in solitude? As I seek to find truth in this life, all I uncover is ... the truth. Things that I would otherwise be "happy" with if I wasn't otherwise trying to seek an destroy my own suffering.

I Quit
If these past few months are what I have to look forward to for the rest of my career, I no longer want the job. Initially, getting laid off was a gift. Sitting next to my wife at Station Square and watching my kids play in the fountain last summer, I thought that maybe we had stumbled onto something great. Here was a job making so much money, that it was almost ridiculous. I was pulling in twice the income I had been making before ... and that was including the part time job. We were on a "semi-vacation" which we had never been able to afford. But summer ended. The kids went back to school. And I went onto the road alone.

At first it almost seemed like an adventure. I was traveling America, to bring home the bacon to the fam'. But the loneliness began to eat away at me (probably one hour into my first trip). Some nights I would come back to my hotel room and then attempt to walk somewhere. Other nights I would drive to McDonalds and linger around until they began to sweep around me. It was just nice to be in the company of other people, even strangers. Still other nights (most, sadly) I would come back to my hotel, turn on HBO, strip down to my undershirt and boxers and watch TV (for five or six hours). Night after night it's been the same routine. Dates come and go. Time moves in slow motion. Nothing changes. But when I come home it's as if I have been gone for years. Like I am coming home from a way. Only to return the next week.

When I went to Chicago I had a weekend break inbetween which almost seemed to never happen. All of a sudden I was back in Chicago, and it seems like I was living there, and only visiting my family. God, my family. I miss them SO much. Words can't describe how heartwrenching it is to watch your wife choke back tears as you drive hundreds of miles away. The only thing worse is to see the same thing in your children.

Oregon Is Too Far
When I went out to California a year ago (time flies) it was the farthest I have ever been from home. And it felt pretty far. I got a call last week from a broker wanting me in Oregon next week. I did the quick math and deducted that a three day class isn't worth the obscene travel charges that it will take to get me there and back from Ohio. The broker disagreed, as he got the client to agree to cover those obscene travel charges. So, what the hell. Put me on a plane. Give me my peanuts, and half a soft drink. Pack my suitcase. Two pairs slacks, travel iron, four shirts, five ties, and canned soup to live on.

But things became complicated. Fast. By the time I had the contract I all ready knew I was in trouble. The deal was for me to pay all travel expenses, and get reimbursed from the broker. But I don't have the kind of money it was going to take to get me to Oregon (about $1200 not including a rental car). I needed to ask the broker to possibly help me out. They have covered travel for me before, and so I figured they would do it this time too. Today I shot off an email to the broker asking if they could help me out and my contact there just about shit his pants.

I received the nastiest of all nasty emails. Sure, I am a jerk for not asking this days ago, but I was kind of hoping I might get some money that has been owed to me by a certain unnamed deadbeat client (that obviously never showed up). First he reminded me that had I booked the flight early last week when he got the contract, it would be "much cheaper". I seem to remember the flight always costing in excess of $700 for a round trip ticket. He seems to remember it being half that much. Although, I have never flown even half that for $400. At any rate, he was angry.

In his second e-mail (I hadn't responded to the first yet) he reminded me that he had just written off a few checks to me for my work in Chicago which were fairly substantial. He would be correct. But nobody seems to take into account the issues I have such as (a) deadbeat clients, (b) unintentional weeks off due to cancellations (c) breaks to retain my sanity, (d) I have bills too. Only mine are far greater on account of all the late charges I have accumulated thanks to items A through C. I used to have a manager when I worked at Radio Shack years ago who would wander around shaking his handful of change complaining about "garnished wages" and telling bill collectors who called there "hey buddy, I've got a crop and a field!".

The problem it seems is that flights out of Oregon are slim to none. Perhaps spring break has something to do with it. But everyone is getting the hell out of Oregon and it's doubled the price of airline tickets. Over a break I had to put a call in to the kind fellow that was treating me like a child and try to get a grasp on the situation. He tells me "nothing is available. I have talked to all of our travel agents". I didn't believe it. I had just been on two ticket sites and they had round trip tickets for $700. Albeit, twice what he wanted to pay. But it was right on par with the numbers I have been seeing for a week and a half. Still he swore it was "not available". Unfortunately he was right. Later I tried to book one of those deals and I was politely told "those reservations are ... no longer available ... we have selected a new itinerary for you". That intoner is of course in excess of $1500. That's the flight. Nevermind the rental car and hotel this is going to take.

I could hardly concentrate on what I was supposed to be doing. My students were bored, and sweating like pigs. The classroom must have reached well over 80 degrees. I was in a state of anger, depression, and general frustration. Pile on the loneliness and the solitude and you are just about to the point of a complete breakdown.

Leaving the training center I got a phone call from the broker once again. Just another reminder that "we're fucked, and it's all your fault". Not those exact words mind you. But yeah, I get it. I can only apologize so much. While getting berated by the broker, a Neil Diamond impersonated cut me off, and flicked a cigarette onto my window which I had to extinguish with my window washing fluid. Pulling up to the "condo", I parked and got out of my car to be greeted by three or four loudly barking dogs. I tried to pick up my feet and walk quickly away from the dogs to shut them up. Echoing from the sides of the many dilapidated houses I could hear a kid yelling "run faggott, run". Now you are probably thinking "he didn't say that -you're paranoid". But he repeated it several more times. I turned to try and find him, but he was camouflaged in this wall of chain link fence, old mattresses, make shift gardens, etc. Normally I would probably get a good laugh over something like this. But today just wasn't the day.

When I look back on my life, is this what I will have to remember? Will my family remember who I was? If I died today, what would they say at my funeral? Will anyone remember the work I have done? In this past year, have I accomplished anything beneficial to my family? These places I go, these things that I do, none of it matters. I am helping overpaid corporate lackies move meaningless information from one piece of media to another.

I am a slave to the machine.

Current Mood: Utterly, Completely, and totally Depressed.
Musical Inspiration: Sheer Silence.

Historic Comments
Hey Ray,

Just take a few deep breaths and repeat to yourself "it's all good". You've done good things in your life and have a wonderful family to show for it. You should be proud of that fact. Hang in there; things will work themselves out.

What you should do is pack up the family and head off to the Canadian wilderness and live "off the grid" like Les Stroud. Thats what I want to do anyway...

Keep your head up.
_shaun | Homepage | 03.19.06 - 5:15 pm | #