They say you can never go Home...

Soldiers of Sparta were allowed to return home after lost battles, only if carried dead upon their shields. I'm convinced this is a more practical and time-saving way to go about it.

Monday, September 27, 2004

The Calm

I don't know what it is about the next day after a hurricane, but I would imagine it is different, depending on who was "lucky" enough, geographically speaking, to run into it first. For example, those poor people in Jupiter and Vero Beach have simply been pummeled. Do they crawl out of the woodwork; survey the damage with an overwhelming sense of loss and despair? Or do they crawl out of the woodwork, and survey the damage with an overwhelming sense of loss and gratitude?

We Tampons (or is it Tampanians?) on the Gulf Side got a solid smacking-around, but have, through all of these hurricanes, fared nothing less than miraculously, and with better outcome than nearly all of the Floridian metropoles.

Tampa is still a decent-sized mess, however. Traffic lights are out, there's some flooding danger, and utility trucks are driving around in long, emergency-light-flashing processions, and occasionally there is the siren of a fire truck, ostensibly racing to the site of a fallen live wire. However, while driving to the local coffee shop this morning, a measurable sense of peace was registered by me.

The sky somehow seems a bit clearer and brighter, the temperature outside is a wonderfully balmy 87 degrees, and there is a strong breeze blowing. Traffic is light, and despite the traffic lights that are out, drivers are remarkably courteous for a change. I accidentally cut someone off while exiting the golf course today and they smiled and waved, as I gave my best impression of a penitent asshole that has just realized the error of his driving ways.

It's a palpable sense of calm, I tell you.

I'm not sure, but I would guess the provenance of this attitude springs from the fact that many of us were cooped up with the rest of the family for nearly the whole weekend, due to everything being closed.

My brother, who would otherwise be engaging in local hooliganism, logged his hours at home for a change. While I was pretending to study, he came by and suggested we pull out the Legos. After having ensured that my blinds were pulled and prying eyes would not be able to detect my rapid regression into a pimply-faced childhood, I joined my brother in constructing the Lego Castles of Our Past.

At some point, I pulled a Star Trek phaser out of the cardboard box that stowed these Legos, and showed it to my brother. "Remember this?" I said.

"Yeah," he replied. "I remember when you made me buy that for you."

"What are you talking about?"

"You were like, in the 8th grade or something, and you were too embarrassed to buy it yourself."

"No way. I don't remember that!'

"Yes way, dipshit" he said. "And the matching communicator too."

I was newly struck with my complete lack of coolness as a kid (as if I had never encountered it before).

However, it was raining like crazy outside, and there were Elven Fortresses to construct, and for the moment, I put aside my past and present lame-osity and concentrate fully on finding the grey hinge piece that had eluded me for the past 10 minutes.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Working for the Weekend

Well, another weekend has arrived in the great paradise that is Florida, and that can only mean that we're due for our next hurricane.

I'm off to prepare. Again.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Where the rubber hits the road...

This has been the start of an astoundingly bewildering week.

Wait, no. I think I need something more concrete, because that sounds too fraught with possibility.

This week is Shite.

First off, the business end is just nuts. It is tough to explain, and deadly boring to otherwise attempt, but suffice to say, I feel I am experiencing the effect of relative inexperience, which is preventing me from being able to do other people's job's for them in a pre-emptive fashion. That is to say, I don't know what all I need to be prepared for, because so much of this still seems new. While that's all great and good, decisions are made, plans carried out, and I can't think fast enough, with respect to the possible pitfalls and the things that ultimately could go wrong. And meanwhile, the people who are affected by these shortcomings bitch at me. It’s been a total nightmare.

Yesterday, I spent SIX hours at the country estate of two Bay Area lawyers, repairing or otherwise optimising a cadre of gas lights installed around the place, because the electricians did not do their jobs, and had, in their infinite experience and wisdom, decided that "there was no problem." I experienced a short-lived self-congratulatory glow having fixed the buggers on little more than the fragments of high school physics still lingering in the brain. Then I realized that I certainly don’t get paid for all this effort. But whatever! I have three more trips like that to make this week alone.

Today, my father approached the subject with The Business. Specifically, his new career forays are going very well and he wants me to take over his old business entirely. But that isn't entirely true or straightforward either. In fact, here, in bottom line fashion, are my choices (as I have translated them):

1) Get Thee to school, pursue Thine Brilliant Career in medicine/science/biotech and make a lot of money.

(This overly effusive and generous notion was put forth by Dad upon learning that a close friend of mine, having spent 2 grueling years studying as a Physician's Assistant, was making really decent money straight out of school. Dad is officially Gung Ho on Science now and after 8 years, has finally started to see the financial wisdom of having a Son involved in Biochemistry).

2) Take over The Business entirely:
a) At the end of the year, I would be all on my own.
b) The shareholders would be me, me and me.
c) It would completely be my own and could do as I pleased--isn't that great?
d) Oh, and by the way, there is the small matter of a business loan that requires paying off.
a. I'll owe Dad this money as I continue to grow (or fail) this business.
b. The magnitude of this debt will apparently remain, for the time being, as unknown as Jimmy Hoffa’s location.

I hate to say, “to toot my own horn,” because it sounds conceited. And also, “toot” reminds me of our childhood code word for the forbidden “fart” and thusly, conjures up a mental scenario of a Proud Me proclaiming publicly my own skills loudly and, having just finished, find that, while speaking, the room has filled up with an increasingly foul scent that has left the audience snickering---but regardless; I digress: To toot my own horn, I HAD imagined this latter outcome. If 26 years have taught me anything, it is to be somewhat strategic w/r/t offers extended upon familial largesse.

I think I can deal pretty efficiently with all that.

But add to that, the Relationship that I've been in the process of beginning seems to be drying up fast. I get the distinct impression that I am being shoved off, and I'm not sure why, or what I’ve done to cause the effect. I’m sure it has something to do with being nerdy and relatively uncertain and unconfident. It's incredibly uncomfortable to be on this side of the looking glass, to be sure.

And of course, there is the absence of any real social outlet outside of the confines of The Family—and I say family with all the attendant gravity of a reference to the Soprano kind.

I just checked today, looking at prices for homes in the area of Ventura. Homes that were $350,000 last year are now going for $680,000. That, more than anything, signified that I shall not be moving to California anytime soon. Unless, the Big One comes and a new coastline is formed.

I have this niggling feeling today--one of general toxicity. I always create a sort of meringue out of a day-to-day Life, and it collapses under the influence of too much rigorous beating.

Which brings me back to the title of this rather pathetic post. In some measure, I was looking for these things. I was looking for a little bit more autonomy with this business. And, I admit, I was looking for a bit of a blessing from the parentals, with respect to pursuing my interest in medicine. At times, I have wanted a relationship that runs seemingly on autopilot. And in some measure, now I’ve got it all. But the devil seems somewhere in the details, and now that the rubber of this car hits the road, I wonder if I wouldn’t have liked a nice pair of rollerblades instead.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Next stop: Personal Ads?

Going to the gym to meet new people has proved thus far to be a pretty spectacular bust. Allow me to elaborate:

The first fellow I was working out with regularly seemed like a really cool guy who took an interest in my business. I found that to be pretty movitating actually, and he always offered some good books for me to read to help me round myself out from a business perspective. Then he gave me a CD to listen to, which I thought was pretty magnanimous, so I listened to it. I thought it might be a hearty tool for increasing my knowledge for how to run a small business, and I could do it in lieu of otherwise using my time in the car to flick-off my fellow brothers and sisters on the road. Anyhow, I got to the very end of the thing, and the last sentence went something like this:

"if you are interested in learning more about Network 21, then contact the person who introduced you to this CD, for more books and tapes."

Major Groan. I've been BAITED FOR A DAMN AMWAY SCHEME. (How could I have been so naive?!)

Okay, fine. Moving on:

Today, I was racing into the facilities frantically, catching up w/ a good friend in California before donning the speedo and entering the pool. I had almost reached the locker room when a Staff Member cautioned me to use the other bathroom, as there had recently been "an incident" in the Mens' locker room. Naturally, I assumed that one of the poor kiddies pooped somewhere other than a toilet, and the place was just momentarily fouled. So I changed in the alternate bathroom, got into the pool, and went through the grueling swim routine.

Afterwards, I asked another teammate whether they thought the incident in the locker room had been cleaned up, and they looked at me a bit funny, then briefed me on the circumstances: Apparently, my swim partner had been showering off in the vicinity of another male, and while engaged in the rather lonely business of showering, decided to get more personal by grabbing adjacent male in shower on rear end in overtly sexual manner. This overture was not appreciated by the other male, who promptly notified security, who promptly notified the police, who promptly sent 3 of their finest officers over to investigate. My swim partner confessed, and was promptly banned from entering the facility again, under threat of tresspassing.

My reaction to this was both shock, a little pity, and quite honestly a bit of relief (thank God he didn't grab a kid!). On the other hand, how sad that he attempted such a thing. I had seen him looking at me in the locker room, but not necessarily while I was changing or anything, and had simply concluded that he must be a little mentally impaired and/or subject to compulsive behaviour. (This notion was further concretized when he once explained the huge cocktail of psychoactive drugs he was taking. It would be the equivalent of a chemical lobotomy for most people.)

Anyhow, the long and the short of it, is that I have the worst radar for scams and gayness going. More immediately, I'm back to doing chest press without a spotter. Which really sucks.

Tokyojen: We're going to need to broaden out that Questionnaire a wee bit.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Wir muessen zu Gott wenden, mit alle unsere Kleinigkeiten...

For all of my formal religious programming, I am still pretty dumb when it comes to matters of faith.

Last month, I attended a Lutheran church in the neighborhood, because I saw a sign that said "German service, 3:00 p.m.". And because I think that German rocks, and I was desperately lonely, I attended the service.

I don't know if it was the difference in the Church, or the fact that it was in a language other than English, and thus forced me to pay acute attention to translating, instead of just drooling on myself--but I got something out of it. It was really very nice, indeed.

I met a lot of wonderful septuagenarians/octogenarians at the subsequent kaffeeklatsch who graciously tolerated me, and my jagged German, and fed me absolutely amazing coffee cake and dessert items. Several of them are trying to set me up with their husband's German clubs, etc. Imagine! ME! A dago, being invited to be part of some German equivalent of the Sons of Italy! I love these people!

Anyway, it was a nice pick-me-up. Wasn't completely the answer to my loneliness though, but a good respite.


Maybe the whole process works in spite of itself.

It might be premature (and God help me if I jinx it), but I think, as of yesterday, my loneliness factor might have increased by a factor of at least 10.

Forces of Nature Conspiring?

While I moan on about these Hurricanes, my dear friend Jen is besieged with both earthquakes and volcanoes, in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Hurricane Frances

The funniest thing about this Monster seething off the coast, like a bran muffin and two cups of coffee on an empty stomach, is how absolutely pissed it has made my father.

One might think, okay, anger: sure! That's a completely natural, healthy reaction to the circs., in light of massive property damage, possible loss of life, and days of miserable humidity sans Power. Of course, one might-could be hideously wrong, too.

It is the fact that all schools in the entire area, from Tampa, Orlando, and down to the Keys are closed tomorrow, that has incensed Dad so.

My father is absolutely convinced that the crack teams of meteorologists, who are monitoring this thing like it's Michael Jackson at Disney World, are straight-up Liars who are doing all this simply to incite the masses and increase sales at Loewe’s and Home Despot. It's a conspiracy! And I'm sure he thinks that somehow those Gays are involved in it too. (Someday, when I'm more patient, I shall have to relate his theories about the Gay Mafia, who are single-handedly causing jobs to dry up, moral centres to crumble, and horsemen of the apocalypse to come galloping up from the pits of Hell for a quick game of polo and some scotch on the rocks, before they lay claim to Earth.)

So, canceling all school in the area was the straw that caught the barn afire. He's been stewing about it the whole damn night, sipping his Pinot "Eggregio" and flipping through the channels.

My sister, a fifth grade teacher, arrives for her bi-weekly visit to The Compound in the midst of this maelstrom, to exercise her visitation rights to the Nervous Beagle and share a quick bitch-sesh from me.

Dad: Give me the number to the school board.

Sister: Why?

Dad: I want to call those jerks. I CAN'T BELIEVE they cancelled school. These people are just crazy...they don't know what the hell they’re doing.

Sis: Dad, the whole of South Florida is evacuated. They need the schools in the area to house the 2.5 million that are evacuating.

Dad: That's ridiculous! They don't need to do that! They're making a big deal out of absolutely nothing!

Sis: [Silent]

Dad: (Raving, as though it's my SISTER'S FAULT that school is not in session.)

D: (Complaining still; sun has set, crickets chirping, entire empires have fallen...)

S: [Silent]

S: Dad, let's pretend for a second I'm not a teacher in Hillsborough County.

D: I'm not going to use your name!

S: (Seemingly ponders this.) Let's pretend anyway.

D: (Confused)

S: Okay, ready? I'm not giving it to you. Get off the couch and get the number yourself, if it’s that important. Don’t get irate at me.


This stands in stark contrast with my mode of dealing with him:

Me: Dad, I think these people are evacuating. There’s no way this traffic is going to let up.

Dad: No, they’re not! Jesus! There aren't enough brain surgeons in this state to lobotomise all these assholes!

Moi: (explodes nuclear style, narrowly missing all the colors of the colorful metaphor rainbow by mere angstroms)

D: [Silent]

Mir: So…are you going to help me with an alternate route or what?

(Complete radio silence)

I’ve been wound a bit tightly as of late.