Friday, September 30, 2005

I have to admit to a guilty pleasure.

I enjoy feeding the birds.

OK....about a week ago I bought a loaf of bread. It wasn't the kind I usually buy to make this killer chicken sandwich of mine. Actually, it's my version of a sandwich from a local restaurant but mine is pretty darned close and loads cheaper, but I digress.....

I got this loaf of bread home and tried in with my killer chicken sandwich and it really sucked. I went to another grocery store and found the bread I wanted but my budget conscious mind could not simply throw away an entire loaf of bread. The sucky bread ruined my sandwich and left such a bad taste in my mouth that I could not imagine using it for anything else. Until I remembered the parking lot at work.

Because of the Florida heat I always park my car beneath the biggest shade tree in the lot. The parking lot is loaded with birds all day long. I'm no expert and couldn't tell one species from another; just a bunch of feathers. So I decided to bring the bread with me and pass it out to the indigent birds. After a couple of days of doing this I found I was enjoying sitting there watching them eat.

I would sit in the car and lower a window (haven't rolled a window down in years thanks to electronics!) and created a blind of sorts. I toss the food out and wait for the buffet line to form. With all of the activity and stress inside the building it is a nice change, even for 10 minutes, to sit and watch a simple creature gather food.

At times it seems as if they even stop, turn and look at me as if to say "Thanks". The greed of a sea gull is unending as they will chase off any other bird to keep as much for themselves as they can. That is until some big ass pigeon (OK, I know a few species by sight) fights them off by pecking at a tail feather or two.

Then the alarm from my cell phone will go off and remind me I have a plethora of geriatrics waiting to yell at me about not getting their medications on time and trying to pronounce the names of their pills like a drunk with a harelip.

A simple break in the day doing a simple thing I learned as a child makes the whole difference in the day. As I walk out to my car sitting under that shade tree I spot a bird or two hiding on a branch and I think I can sense they know it's feeding time and that they are looking forward to my break as much as I am with each step closer I get.

Hey, wait! What's that? There's BIRDSHIT all over my car!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

This is so humiliating. My 14-year-old son is probably smoother with women than I am. I had three different possibilities to break the ice and ask the dreaded “follow up question” today and blew it. She went home early from work before I could talk privately enough. My only consolation is that the odd look on her face every time I saw her was more the illness which made her leave early than it was to do with seeing me.

……or, at least I hope so!

Last night I attended a preview our company sponsored of a show put on by one of the local theatrical groups. One of the stars is a fellow employee. It was a fun evening of 30’s and 40’s swing and jazz. Just before the show one of the high mucky-mucks of our company got up and spoke. He ended up inviting me and about a half dozen others up to the stage as examples of the best our company has to offer. We are what I call “Company Poster Children”. Actually, it was nice to be singled out that way. He went on to talk about how our company does more than just sell medications a diabetic supplies but makes a difference in the lives of our customers. It’s nice to know someone at that level of management gets it.

Now, if my paycheck we affected by such a “title” it would be even nicer!

I have put my name in for a supervisory opening. It has been almost two years since I was actually in a full blown supervisory position. I still have the title and my pay hasn’t changed, it’s just that I have not been responsible for a team of employees; I’ve just been one of the troops. I feel I’m ready for it again and some of the office politics that put me in my present position have changed greatly. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Monday, September 26, 2005

One step closer.

I made my follow up conversation with the girl at work today and seemed to have pulled it off without looking like too much of a dork. At least I hope so.

I told her that she had missed a great dinner and the in my best self-deprecating mode I said, "I just wanted to make sure I wasn't hallucinating last week when you said you'd like to go out sometime anyway."

She smiled that beautiful smile, the one with her eyes, and said, "Yes".

My biggest worry is that I come off as a mix of stalker and the most needy person on the planet. Does everyone who dates go through this? How the hell do some people do this on a regular basis? I cannot imagine being on the regular dating scene. To have to take these kinds of chances over and over again. As someone who fancies himself an actor, I could find it easier to go through audition after audition over dating. In auditions your ability and talent is raked over the coals and called into question. This is personal!

Speaking of acting.....I wimped out on "Death of a Salesman"; auditons closed tonight and I went nowhere near the theater. Maybe next time.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Quiet weekend. Johnny has stayed home again this weekend. He is preparing for some mega-Sweet 16 party for someone in his ROTC class. They are all wearing their class A's and have rehearsals every Sunday. The time necessary for him to get back there by mass transit would mean his having to get up at 10 AM.

I am torn between letting him have the social interaction with no hassle from me and making a point about the obligation to our relationship. I want him to understand that at times you have to make sacrifices. Maybe it would mean his having to get up early but at times you have to do difficult things to get the important things in life done. His friendships and social life as a teenager are as important as our relationship.

I am, at the very least going to suck it up for the time being but have a conversation about this the next time he is here; which won;t be for another two or three weeks. SO you can look forward to two more weeks of my deep sighing and moaning. Ain't that what you come here for in the first place?

Speaking of which, I am a little over due in commenting on the counter at the bottom of this page. It recently rolled over the 1,000 hit mark. That impressed me. On average 10 people are looking at this blog an a daily basis. Makes me wish I had enough to write about every day.

When I once mentioned that I have a blog to someone they scoffed and said, "The most self indulgent thing on the internet!" Is he right? Do I feel what I am saying has relevance in other peoples' lives? Can my life really be that interesting to people?

I don't deny having a little bit of an ego. But, honestly, I have been writing this as a way of keeping distant friends up to date on what's happening. I write to vent. I write to work out feelings. I write to share. Keeping in mind that my life in no way can really be that interesting, try to write with a slant towards commenting on my own feelings and experiences in the bigger picture. I hope I am successful. I must be doing right since I keep getting hits. I have been surprised by some who have commented and even more by those who privately tell me they are regular readers. I appreciate each of you who stops by here to see what's going on in my crazy little corner of the universe.

Here's to another thousand hits!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Into the fray once more......

I actually got up the nerve to ask a girl out today. OK, so it took two days and someone yelling at me to finally motivate me, but I did it!

OK, so there is this very pretty young lady at work who caught my eye recently and through some investigating by a mutual friend I learned that she, while "having male friends", had no one serious in her life at the moment. This was a vast improvement over my last attempt.

So for the first day I mulled things over and slowly the anxiety began to creep up as I thought about actually asking her out. Then yesterday my investigative friend offered an opportunity. He and his wife invited me to have dinner at his house next Sunday evening. Perfect, I thought; a setting with a group of people and not as stressful for a first date as going out alone. This girl and I really don't know each other more than to pass each other around the office and maybe one or two simple chit chat like conversations. So, we starting at ground zero here.

That gave me all of today to let nervousness and anxiety ramp even higher. I fell back into my 14 year old frame of mind as I made a number of aborted attempts to walk up to her and start the ball rolling. I am surprised my sales director didn't say anything to me. He can look right down the aisle from his office to where I sit and I'm sure he would have noticed how many times I was out of my seat during the day. Bright side is that I got plenty of exercise doing laps around the sales floor.

My investigative friend claims it was only to get me to simply strike up an conversation and that he didn't expect me to actually come out and ask her but he gave me some paperwork to deliver to her "on my way back to my desk". wink - wink I started doing laps again, this time with the paperwork in my hands.

Finally, as I stood next to my desk doing an impersonation of Cameron from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"....

"I'll go..I'll go..I'll go. No." supervisor came walking by.

I turned to her and said, "Call me a wimp!"

"You're a lousy little wimp!" she said with a mixture of bewilderment at the request and pure joy at calling me a lousy little wimp.

That was what I needed; someone other than the little voice inside my head telling me I was being ridiculous. Off I went. Right up to her and handed her the paperwork.

Dang! I hadn't been this close to her in a while. I was right, she is pretty.

I rattled off the bogus business reasons for my stopping by and without catching a breath ( as if I had any oxygen in my body at this point) I slid right into the invite. There was a momentary look of surprise on her face; sort of like when you open the prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jack and it some odd toy you've never seen before and you wonder, "What the hell is that?"

Game over, I thought.

Then she simply said, "Yes."

As we began to talk details of when and where, she remembered she did have something at that time. Undaunted, I offered that we could try some other time, maybe. There was no Cracker Jack look this time, and she dais "Sure".

So, while not completely a "yes" it is still not a "no". There is still some hope left. That was eight hours ago and I think the adrenalin has finally left my system.

More as this develops.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Yesterday was National Talk Like a Pirate Day and my throat still hurts. I made my way "Arrrghhhhh"-ing and "Aye-aye"-ing through the whole day. I even talked with customers on the telephone in the same gravely voice. Either they also knew it was National Talk Like a Pirate Day or they thought I was British!

Well, I've had my new van of a week and I think we have become friends. I have found just the right position for the seat. The air conditioner seems to reach just the right temperature a little faster and it handles easier and easier. I know it's more a matter of me getting more used to the vehicle but I have always felt cars have individual personalities.

Take my very first car, Harlan, for example. Yes, I name my cars. Harlan was much like I was at age 16; sporty, fast and messy. Oh, and energetic. This car was so energetic it actually jumped. I have been informed by my more mechanically inclined friends that a bad transmission made the car physically jump in place more than some metaphysical soul it might have had.

I still tend to believe Harlan had a personality.

My last van, The Bull, was moody; much like any ailing senior citizen. He performed better with praise. All he needed after 40 miles of driving was a nap; after which he would attack the highway like a geriatric racing for the dining hall on Salisbury Steak Night.

I have yet to name this car. I am waiting to see what personality emerges. I am also pondering "geeking my ride". This 1993 GMC Safari is all while. To my Trek fan mind it suspiciously resembles a shuttle craft. All that is missing is some lettering, hull numbers and a Starfleet logo on the back door.

My son will never want to ride in the same car with me again!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Last night I received a very dubious honor at a company party. This quarter's morale boosting theme has been Liberty High School. People brought in their graduation photos and they were plaster all around the buildings. Then the other day we received "school supplies; pens, pencils and rulers all emblazoned with the company logo. All of this culminating in last night's Sock Hop.

People showed up in 50's outfits. There were poodle skirts, capris, leather jackets and two Elvi. (That is the plural of Elvis, isn't it?) Class Superlatives were handed out. Best Dressed, Best Smile, Most Dependable. What a surprise it was when I won Class Clown. Actually, I won that category in all three buildings but they had to give one out to someone in each so I only won for my building.

I may not yet have the promotion I want, but I am being recognized for what I do best!

My son didn't come this weekend and the house seems extra quiet because of it. I know we can switch weekends and all that but I always look forward to our time together so much. I'm sure this will happen more and more as he get deeper into really being a teenager. I can only imagine what I'll be like after he's 18 and no longer "has to" visit.

I am currently mulling over auditioning for a local theater group's production of "Death of a Salesman". Daunting, I know, to choose something like Arthur Miller for a first time on the stage in a long time. I did do a reading theater a few years ago but that was with the script right in front of me. I honestly wonder if I could commit an entire two act play to memory when there are times I wonder why I walked from one room to the other or forget names of friends I've had for years. Can my 40-something brain actually do it?

Yes, Mr. Ego wants to try out for Willy Loman. I realize regional theater can be clique-ish and I've never worked with this particular troupe. I realize it's been 8 years since I was on a stage. I realize it's a big frickin' part. It would certainly be a test of any talent I might have.

Or might not have.

Auditions are next week; I'll let you know.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

WB where are you!

I have gone into withdrawal since the local channel carrying WB programming moved their slate of shows to a sister station which is not carried by DirecTV. I have already missed out on the season premier of "Gilmore Girls" and am dreading missing out on another great season of "Smallville".

I am not taking this lying down. I have already called the company which owns the WB affiliate, the local television critic along with a station request, official complaint and email to customer service for DirecTV. I am on a mission.

OK, I know...."It's just a TV show". But both of the programs I'm missing out on are, in my humble opinion, some of the best writing being done on television today. On "Gilmore" the jokes, pop references and snappy dialogue fly off the screen like electrons. "Smallville" is a well crafted comic book based drama which holds its original material in high regard and pays homage to it in some of the most inspired and original ways.

Yes, I could wait for next season's DVD's. I could try to watch TV the old fashioned way, with an antenna. Or I could beg friends with cable which carries the station. Hopefully, I won't have to wait too long as the public relations person at the TV station says they are "in negotiation". With any luck this will be long before the repeat season starts.

Such is the life of a couch potato.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

I just got back from doing something I haven't done in many months; walking up to the supermarket to do my shopping. I need a nap!

Actually, it wasn't that bad. It was just around 88 degrees and a light breeze which kept the sweat from happening, at least until the way home. My body isn't used to carrying the 5 pounds of groceries for the 2 miles and I was a bit damp when I got home.

I didn't realize how much I missed the walks. Last year, the last time I was without a vehicle, I did it out of necessity on a regular basis because I had to. I probably could have waited another day to get food but I wasn't about to shell out another $20 for a pizza. Now that I'm buying another car, I have to make the budget stretch.

Yes, I am getting another car right away. My friend Jim has offered me his old van on time payments. I should have him paid in full in a month and still be able to attend Vulkon in November. The best part is that I didn't go to family or friends to borrow the money. Yes, I am somewhat doing the same thing by paying Jim over time, but I didn't grovel to someone for the cash and struggle to pay them back. Needless to say, I'll be bugging management at work for that chance in incentive pay even more now!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Bull is dead!

My van has finally given up the ghost and died. I was on my way home from work Thursday night and it simply gave out. The engine just stopped. I imagine it is now what is called seized. I was surprised there was no horrendous noise as metal ground to a halt. It simply stopped running and no longer turns over.

I was at a light on Green River Parkway; the new road I drooled over a few months ago. To add insult to injury this is a spot with the nearest telephone about a mile in either direction and my cell phone chose that particular moment to also give out. A fellow Liberty employee was kind enough to give me a ride to her house to call AAA.

The van now sits in repose outside my trailer. I have a option of buying my friend's van; if I can come up with the money. I'm making calls to friend and family to help out so I don't have to go too long without a vehicle. Again.

I can't complain too much as the van has held on since last winter and has given me 5 good years and many trips filled with good memories. If only it could have waited two more months.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

My fingers are crossed that I might be working my way into my first paid vice over job. My friend Jason has become acquainted with a local horror author, Franklin E Wales. He has written a novel called "Booger". On his website Frank mentioned that would like to do an audio version of the book but had yet to find "a voice he could afford". This would be a perfect opportunity for me, trying to break into the business and for him, trying to get an audio book done inexpensively.

I got some advice from George Takei, as he's the only person I know who does this for a living. He tended to agree that using this as a "resume piece" was more important that the money. The money can come later.

Tell that to my bank book!

I am proud of my friendship with George and always hope that it doesn't sound like name dropping whenever I talk about him. After almost 20 years of knowing him I look on him as a friend and not just "Sulu". OK, so the geek in me loves it. I never would have imagined being in the position of conferring as a professional with someone I watched every day on television.

If I was in this friendship with him simply for monetary gain and vicarious notoriety I would have sold my videotape of the Jogging Practical Joke years ago. From the beginning, I guarded that tape because it was a personal moment between George and me.

On the same voice over train of thought, I am supposed to be going up to Orlando in the next few weeks on another lead for work. A friend of mine is teaching at The Dave School. As I was watching the AFI Tribute to George Lucas a pattern seemed to show itself. Coppola, Speilberg and others talked about working with Lucas on their student films when they were at USC.

.....student films?


If it worked for these guys the same theory should work for me. I will offer my to work for these students making computer games and animations for film and TV, then when they hit the big time they go looking for the same voice over talent that helped get them started. The best part of this is I get my foot slightly in the door without having to leave the area.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Weekend Recap

Johnny and I did have a good weekend. More simply living together in the same house than going out and doing something special; which is just as important as the "fun times". He watched movies and played video games.

This was such a let down from the original. Loaded with stupid Wylie Coyote stunts which went beyond reason and a story that took leaps of believability Evel Kenevel couldn't jump. The worst part was that they messed with some basics of the original story. Frank (Jason Statham) was in Europe for some reason which, like Rick from "Casablanca", was clouded in mystery but you knew he couldn't go back. Now, he's living in Miami as if nothing is wrong. The the French detective, Gianni (Alessandro Gassman) visits him like an old college buddy and ends up covering for him with the US Marshals. There was a wonderful cat and mouse game between the two of them were you always knew Gianni would have out him away if he could prove anything. Now, he's buddy, buddy with him, lying to federal officials and hacking into a police computer system like he's surfing ebay!

In the continuation of his "Romeo and Juliet" education we tried watching "West Side Story". I say "tried" because we were both put off by it and gave up on it. I'm sure when it first came out there was some punch to it, but we just could not get into it. The songs didn't seem as if they flowed naturally from the story. It was too much a stage presentation. Don;t get me wring, I love Fossee, but this one didn't ring true for me. "The King and I", "Sound of Music" and "Fiddler on the Roof all seems as if the music flows from what is happening in the story; that if it were natural for people to express themselves with song and a full symphony orchestra...that is what it would sound like.

Next visit should get back in the groove with the Leo DiCaprio version of "R&J". It felt good to know that his watching the first film with me had sparked enough with him that when they were talking about doing the play in class, he already had an idea what part he wanted to do, Mercutio. His teacher had mentioned it to my ex at the open house last week. This should be fun going through this with him this semester.

And he thought science fiction was the only reason he'd have to roll his eyes at his dad!

Monday, September 05, 2005

I sometimes wonder who that fool is fretting over his child as he travels a mere 60 miles on mass transit. Is it the same person who used to boast so much about making a round trip from Rhode Island to Texas on the bus at age 13? That can't be the same person calling his son on his cell phone every twenty minutes checking on his progress.

That person preened over the fact he had a four hour layover in the New York City Port Authority and made his connections by himself. This person has called his child more times than his ex. That cannot be the same person!

No, can't be!

Yup! That's me, alright! Of course, part of it is making sure I'm the one on schedule but there was something compulsive as I looked at my watch knowing that the Tri-Rail train should be pulling out of the station and that my son had instructions to call when it began to move. Still I could not stop the images of him arriving late at the station and having to wait, by himself, for another hour. I made the first call and found out there was a delay. We did the math and figured I was even a little early to meet him so we hung up with that in mind.

Then, of course, I'm sitting there in the parking lot waiting, having arrived 15 minutes early. I knew the delay time. There had not been a single commuter train accident the entire time I've lived in Florida.

I must have picked up the phone to call him at least 6 times.

No! I'll just sit back and listen to the radio and enjoy "my" music before he jumps in the car and changes the station. I almost start picking up and putting the phone down to the beat of the music.

Rational, damn it, be rational!

Faintly, off in the distance, I hear the train's horn blowing.

"Ah-ha! See, I was right. Exactly when I said it would arrive. No problem-o!"

Yes, believe it or not....same guy!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

OK, so I feel a little guilty over my recent hurricane rant. The boobs on local TV news are still idiots but I do feels sorry for the people devastated by Katrina; especially for New Orleans. I love The Big Easy and hope they make it back from this as quickly as possible. Same thing goes for Mobile; my second favorite gulf city. It’s heartbreaking to see streets I was wandering just a few months ago looking like rivers. The barstool I used at Napoleon’s must now be floating through the French Quarter. Canal Street is now a real canal.

My prevailing thought is how damned lucky we were last year. For all the inconvenience of not having power and some of the damage which was done around here, at least I had a home standing. Only a small portion of buildings here were damaged not the wholesale destruction we’re seeing. To see the suffering going on there almost brings me to tears as I watch the news.

To watch society break down as quickly as it has is also frightening. I understand that you have to do anything necessary to eat and shelter yourself but to see the violence erupting as it has and plummeting the French Quarter into a “Lord of the Flies” situation is scary. While the destruction here last year was a drop in the bucket, people in this area drew closer and were more helpful, patient and understanding with everyone around them.

The whole mobilization problem really has me troubled. At first, I was siding with the government. Few civilians realize the logistics that go into mounting such an effort and one that was in such flux as it went from a simple hurricane recovery to the massive flooding seen in New Orleans. Now, after five days, it is bordering on the ridiculous and obscene that more has not been done. We had troops in Kuwait faster 11 years ago. I’m sure there will be Congressional Hearings on this in the future.

Not that it was planned, but I seem to be living through some of the same post-hurricane conditions vicariously as my air conditioning is still on the fritz; something about an $800 compressor. My landlord gave me two window units to help make it bearable inside my trailer. Still not the meat locker temperatures I prefer and one of the units sounds like an old Studabaker. Still, I’m looking forward to a great three-day weekend with The Boy.