Okay, so maybe it hasn’t been “hiding”, so much, as that I’ve been “doing”. Maybe, it’s been more like hibernating. I’ve been working and sleeping and getting up long enough to go to work and not much of anything else since the New Year rolled in.
Spring is finally here (maybe). It’s time to wake up.
I am on holiday for the next week. If I hadn’t already booked it a couple of months back, I would have done so anyway. I’m burnt out. And slept out.
I booked the week off to go visit CardioGirl, ‘member that?
I’ve been throwing money at some of the dreamy little plans I’ve hinted at over the last couple of years… so much so, that I forgot (forgot!) that I might possibly need some cash to get to Detroit.
And eat while there.
Not to mention sleep somewhere other than in the Prissy-Van, ‘cuz, you know, who can afford to get up every two hours and feed a parking meter?
All of this is supposed to happen sometime this week (This. Week.).
I’m a-skeered to call the betch, for fear she’ll just tell me to shove it.
Asked me to come in to work to “have a little talk.”
Scared the shit out of me.
I LOVE my job. I want to keep my job. The only thing I don’t like about my job is my seeming inability to negotiate gracefully between day shifts and night shifts, which I’m beginning to despair of ever getting a handle on.
All I can manage to do is sleep. House is a wreck. The Idiot Child must feed herself or go hungry – not to mention, wash her own laundry (as well as mine), and Sheikh the Cat has begun spending his awake hours sitting next to my head, intermittently placing a paw on my face and sliming kissing me, wondering why my eyes are always closed.
This despair of accommodating the fluctuating schedule got me wishing for a work routine that I’ve only experienced once, Way Back When, remember that? I wasn’t particularly fond of the “job” part of that job, but the schedule was perfect: it was the same. damned. schedule. every. day. With weekends off, to boot.
My house was clean. The cats were happy. The Idiot Child was still a teenager, but I think she preferred the sameness, as well.
I have been wishing I could approach my boss and appeal for a Same-Damned-Shift. Even if it was the night shift. I dreamed of the conversation being short, sweet and successful.
Me: “Hey, how ’bout I work nights? All the time. Just nights. Cuz nobody else seems to like nights.”
Him: “Yeah, great idea! Thanks! I’ll just go ahead and change the schedule right now! How ’bout I give you more shifts with that? You want more shifts? There’s more money in more shifts. How ’bout I give you more shifts, too?”
There are a bzillion reasons why I couldn’t do that. I mean, I could do that, but he would either laugh, thinking I was joking, or take me seriously and still say no. Several reasons for the “no”:
1) I’m still The New Kid on the Dance Floor. Yes, others have come behind me, but I’m still new enough that I can get away with “I’m New Here” to cover a mistake I’ve made. Much longer, I’d have to use “I’m Old” for an excuse. That’s probably more apt. 😉
2) Nobody has a Same-Damned-Shift schedule. Nobody. Why should *I* get that lucky?
3) It’s obvious to all and sundry that I’m having trouble adapting to the shift changes and if they coddled me (cuz I’m old, maybe?), it could possibly cause a revolt.
So, I’ve been schlepping along, loving the job part of the job and hating the schedule part of the job, wishing for the impossible, and for shit’s sake, my boss calls me today for “a little talk”.
I knew I was fired. I wanted to ask if I was fired, but Boss is not the kind of guy that does that over the phone, I’m pretty sure. I settled for asking, oh so casually (yeah, right) “Sure, what’s up? Something wrong?” the whole while repeating the mantra, “don’t-let-it-be-bad…don’t-let-it-be-bad…don’t-let-it-be-bad…don’t-let-it-be-bad”, which, for the record, has never once worked before. In my experience, if it feels like it might be “bad”, it’s generally much, much worse than “bad”.
So, yeah. I knew I was fired, even when he said, “Oh, no. Nothing to worry about. Just wanna go over something with you.”
Uh oh. What horrible thing have I done? Shit, he read about me finding cocaine on the dance floor! No, wait, I told him that story myself and he laughed really hard. Can’t be that.
Or maybe, I didn’t do something that I should have done? It’s not like I forgot to lock up, or anything (once did that while working for Louie, and nobody even noticed, can you believe that?) – I mean, we’re open 24/7. I’m not even sure there is a set of keys for the place.
Not that it would matter what the “little talk” was about, I still had to have it. So, I pulled on my boots and crossed the street.
And my boss said to me – no word of a lie, here, either, I swear – I’m not even exaggerating in the slightest little bit:
“I’m hoping I can change your schedule. Would you be willing to work straight nights, with weekends off? You’d be guaranteed five shifts that way, (employees who have been there longer, of course normally get more hours, unless they book a shift and hand it to me) and if I need you on the weekends, I’ll call – you’ve never turned down a shift, so you’re the first one I call. Would that work for you?
Well, gee, lemme think on that….
I’m dumbfounded. I agreed immediately, though, and he was all thanking me as if I were doing him a favour. Maybe I am and just don’t realize it, but it’s like he read my mind.
Or my blog….
So, he hands me my newly-minted hours, starting Sunday end, or S/M if you read the little date box on the schedule, and I trotted back home to write this post, and marvel over never having to wonder when I’m working “next week”… and there followed shortly a call requesting me to work an extra shift tomorrow. Already, I’m booked for overtime. I love my job.
Now, I have to clean a cat-box. Maybe then, Sheikh will quit sliming kissing me in the middle of my version of night.
~ Just about to hit the publish button when I get another call from work – this time from the assistant manager: apparently some deer-hunter I was joking around with a week or so ago (told him he should bring me some deer parts, since my dad was gone, and nobody ever brings me deer meat anymore), just dropped off a venison roast for me. Can I please come pick it up, as it’s grossing her out? ~
Well, gee, lemme think on that….
Excuse me while I go pick up Free Dead Wild Animal.
So, after a lovely Tilapia dinner,The Cook – oops – Kitchen Manager – no, make that Soon-To-Be-Revealed Self-Named Story-Teller, told me his earliest memory.
It was a memory that’s haunted him his whole life (and he’s even older than me, so you know that’s a whole lotta life to be haunted), and I really felt kind of sorry for the poor guy. When I think of some of the things that frightened me as a child, I sometimes feel just as afraid as when I was little…
I don’t know if I’ve got his “voice” down properly – hopefully, I’ll get some more stories out of him, so I can practice. When he gets going, he tends to speak loudly, and during several parts of this story, he would start to have an accent. I’ve begun to figure out when he’s a little upset by whether he has an accent or not. Which is kind of cool. Makes me want to piss him off, so I can hear the accent.
Okay, maybe that’s not so cool. Maybe that’s just a little mean. I’m such a little shit-disturber, sometimes. Ahem…*
Him: When I was little – maybe about four or five – we lived in an apartment that was across the parking lot of a funeral home. It didn’t bother me, at first, because I didn’t know what a funeral home was, but I remember I always had weird stuff happen there.
Me: What kind of weird stuff?
Him: In my bedroom. In the middle of the night. Weird stuff, man!
Me: What kind of weird stuff? “Funeral Home” kind of weird stuff?
Him: Yeah! Sort of. People used to come out of my closet.
Me: What kind of people?
Him: Dead people; that’s what kind of people. Geez! I lived across from a funeral home!
[I laughed. Couldn’t help it.]
Him: Why are you laughing?! That’s not funny; it scared the shit outta me! I was just a little kid!
Me: I’m sorry… Okay, so was this nightmare full of, like, zombies, all rotted and gushy or-
Him: NO!! And it wasn’t a nightmare! It was like, almost every night, and they were dead people! Dead. People. Coming out of my closet, and into my room!
Me: How do you know they were dead people? For that matter, how do you know they weren’t nightmares? You know, like the same scary dream when you’re a kid, because you’re stressing out, but you’re a kid, so you don’t know what stress is, and it comes out in repetitive dreams?
Him: What are you, a shrink?! Are you telling me I’m nuts?
Me (laughing again – see? Shit-disturber.): NO! I’m just saying maybe they were dreams.
Him: One: I was not sleeping; I was awake. Therefore, I was not dreaming. Two: I know they were dead, because I could see through them.
Him: Yeah. If you can see through them, they’re spirits, and they’re dead.
Him: Ghosts. Yeah.
Me: And you stopped seeing the ghosts after you moved away?
Him: Whose story is this, Girl?
Me: Sorry. I’ll shut up.
Him: Thank you. So, every night, almost, these ghost-people would come out of my closet and scare the shit out of me. They didn’t jump out and yell, “Boo!” or anything, but they’d look at me. And they’d wander around the room, and after awhile they’d sort of just…. go away. Fade away, or just disappear or something.
But it was always different people. It’s not like I had one ghost or the same couple ghosts haunting my room every night. Every night, it was different dead people, and they were always dressed up like they were going to a dance. The women were always in fancy dresses, with their jewelry on, and the men were always in nice suits and ties, but it was always different people. Different dead people. Brrrr!
I think I coulda got used to it, if it was the same people all the time, but different people made it worse. Damn!
[Very, very, very, long pause….]
Him: And, what?
Me: And, then what? Need an ending, here. Do you still have dead people coming out of your closet, or what?!
Him: No! That stopped after we moved.
Me: Like I said…
Him: Yeah, yeah. But, I started dreaming about that a few years ago, and every now and again I dream about those dead people wandering around my room, and looking at me, and I’m like, four or five years old again, but not really, and it still scares me. Kind of gives me a creepy feeling for a few hours every morning after I have that dream.
Me: Yeah, that is a little creepy.
Him: But then, worse, a few nights ago, I had that dream, and you know how you wake up after a bad dream, and it kind of sticks with you while you get up, and you’re trying to wake up and get ready for the day? Well, I was in the shower, thinking about that dream, when I realized, looking back on that room I slept in, that those dead people weren’t coming out of the closet at all! The closet was on a different wall! They were coming through the window!
[Pause… as if he’s expecting a reaction from me.]
Me: And that’s… worse…?
Him: Yes, it’s worse! They were coming out of that funeral home! And right through the window-glass, into my room!Geez!
Me: Why is that worse?
Him: ‘Why is that worse?!‘Why’?! Are you serious?!
Me: I don’t understand why it’s worse that they were coming through the window-glass than if they were coming through the closet door. What’s the difference?
Him: What do you mean ‘what’s the difference’?! The difference is that I could deal with them coming through the closet door and just hanging out in my room! Every little kid that ever lived has monsters in their closet! It scared me, but I could deal with it. Once I figured out they were coming out of the damn funeral home, walking all the way across the parking lot and then coming into my room, I knew they were after me! I’m lucky I survived! ‘What’s the difference?’ Damn, I don’t believe you said that.
[Okay, so then I laughed again. I shouldn’t have laughed, because I’m pretty sure he was seriously freaked out about the whole thing, and laughing was just mean. I couldn’t help it; it was funny as hell.]
Me: Okay… Ahem…* What do you want to call yourself?
Him: What? Call myself? What?
Me: On the blog? When I write your story… how do you want me to refer to you?
Him, with no hesitation whatsoever: As The Victim! I want you to refer to me as The Victim! Geez!
And, so, “The Victim” he shall be called, at least in this space, now and forever more.
Ruby needed to know the date the other day, and that’s how she asked it: “This is the what’th of September…?” It struck me as a good title for a blog post because it’s felt like the “what’th of September” for pretty much the entire month.
The photo is fairly symbolic for my September, as well. September has been a waste: blog-wise, writing-wise, and life-wise. I’ve done nothing of note this month, and nothing productive, unless you count cleaning the bathroom.
I don’t count cleaning the bathroom as productive unless it’s been an horrific mess and takes a while to clean, and that hasn’t been the case in some time. And if this new-for-me bathroom were to get itself into the state of “horrific mess”, it would still only take 10 minutes to clean it – I’ve seen bigger broom closets.
I’ve spent most of my September taking stock of things. One would think that would be productive, but it’s turned into a waste of my time. I’m becoming more aware of “time” lately, since I overheard somebody say to somebody else, “Time is money….”, and the somebody else replied, “No. Time is life.”
Scared me a little bit.
I spent very little time during August purging enough stuff to allow me to fit myself and my child into this wee small space. I expected to agonize over what to keep and what to toss, and I was surprised how easy it was to just get rid of it all – shred it, trash it, give it away. Everything I owned held some meaning for me at one point and every previous attempt over the last 25 years to unclutter my living space has always been impossible when it came to memorabilia: photos, letters, stupid little bits of things that would mean nothing to anyone else, but meant everything to me.
Nostalgia is a weird thing. This time, when I started to cull the junk, everything I picked up could have been someone else’s memory. It didn’t mean much of anything anymore.
Now, it’s time to cull the things I’m wasting my time with and start getting productive. I thought I knew what I wanted, but now I’m not so sure.
[[[… time passes…]]]
How weird is this?! I’m in the middle of this post when I get a phone call from a friend asking me what I’m doing about “this writing thing you’re into”. 26 minutes of Kick-My-Ass has convinced me somewhat that I should continue the dream.
Except, I think it’s time to quit dreaming and start doing. I’ve already wasted too much of my time.
Pink Fantasy Taken February 22, 2008 with Canon PowerShot A550
I’m right impressed with myself over this picture. I seriously doubt I’ll get another shot even half this good for the rest of the year. I kind of hope I don’t – I’m really proud of this one. I want to blow it up to about garage-door-sized and hang it on my wall.
The inside of my head feels a lot like this pic – kind of dreamy… gauzy… lazy…
I’ve been busy, mind you….
…picking away at a website I’m building for a charitable organization here in town…
…picking away at painting my little apartment – we’ve decided not to move, after all. We’re finally getting this place “prettified” the way we like it, and the thought of hauling all the stuff down the stairs…. Blech. It’s still small, even though we’ve gotten rid of 60% of its contents, but it suits us, and the larger (huger) place comes with a big jump in rent.
The more we thought about moving, the more we realized that the only good thing about moving was that it was just downstairs (no way am I giving up my landlady!), so packing would be… well… it wouldn’t be, would it?
I’m still waiting to actually get on the schedule at the new J.O.B…. they insist that I’m hired. Every time I call… “Uuuuuuuhhhhhhhhmmmmm…. probably…. some time…. uuuuuhhhhhhmmmmm…. next week….? Maybe….?” They tell me this once a week. I should have applied to work in HR instead of sales… I think they need the help.
So, in the meantime…
…I drink a lot of coffee, and work a lot of crosswords, and watch a lot of movies (and ball games… and hockey games…) with Ruby.
…I continue to scan the J.O.B. boards and newspaper ads, in the undying hope that something not involving sales, customer service or telemarketing jumps out at me.
…I Walk-About to my parents’, drink rum, and listen to a new story once a week. Yes, I’m writing them down – heck I might even get around to posting them…
…I swear over the apparently uninstallable software that will allow the coolest Ruby post ever posted to be posted… finally. I hope. Gulp…*
…I dance with The Turkey – who, by the way, has just finished the second edit of her first novel. At 13. Yup. I feel a little useless when she’s in the room. She’s also re-dyed her hair purple, and has taken to stealing the pre-stolen “Grampa-shirts” out of my closet (I stole them first, but there’s never one to wear when I want one), and wearing them with neckties. I’d post pics, but the kid doesn’t stay home long enough to catch more than her shirt-tail in the view-finder…
…I drive around with The Fly-Girl in the Soon-to-be-Mine Minivan (I think I’ll name it The FlyMobile, whad’ya think?), singing old rock tunes from when we were young and thought we’d be 16 for-freaking-ever.
…and I spend a lot of time staring at this picture… and drifting off… somewhere…
“She still hasn’t forgiven me for that time I hit her over the head with a shovel.”
“I was black and blue from all the pokin’ around.”
(About a nurse drawing blood…)
“I had the stupidest dream. It was Christmas, and all these dead people showed up. You should’ve SEEN all the presents!”
“I was just beside myself. I should’ve got a lot more done.”
…and after she realized why I was laughing so hard…
“Don’t you write that down! I didn’t mean to say that.”
I have been forcibly “de-funkified”. I really should thank Carol for doing it with her nasty comments (and even nastier private emails), but I’m not quite ready to do that, because, truthfully, I don’t think I’m quite ready to be “de-funkified” at all.
But she’s right. Wallowing in it, publicly or privately, only makes things worse.
I still don’t have A Dream. So, I’m going to force one. And I’m going to be purposefully vague about it (sorry), because it’s an old dream, and only a couple of people know about it.
One of those people is the one that killed it. Granted, I let it be killed. I let it be killed because Way Back When, I didn’t have any guts. I don’t have any guts, now, either, but I intend to grow some.
Anyway…! On with it.
Way Back When, when the world was still new (1982, I think it was), I saved up $250 to help make my dream come true. A friend of mine, The Dream-Killer, boosted me along. I worked in a restaurant as a dishwasher for really crappy pay back then, and it was only part-time, since I was in school. Still, when I got that paycheck every week, all I wanted to do was buy jeans and party. The Dream-Killer would remind me about saving for my dream, and I would gratefully set aside some cash, and then steal beer money from my parents. Sometimes, I just cut out the middle step and stole beer instead. Even so, it took a long time to save up $250, let me tell you, but I did it.
I lived in a teeny-tiny town 50-odd miles East of here. I had to come up here to the Sault to plunk down my money and make Step One happen. The Dream-Killer came with me for support. We skipped school and hitch-hiked, of course. I wasn’t about to spend Dream Money on bus fare, was I? I wasn’t stupid.
Hitchhiking 50-odd miles sometimes takes hours. By the time we got here, The Dream-Killer had almost convinced me that The Dream was too big for me…
“You’re too young. No one’s going to take you seriously.”
“$250 really isn’t enough to do this with.”
“That guy is just looking for money. It’s going to turn out like shit.”
Almost convinced me. Almost.
And then, killing time until Step One would be underway, we wandered through the mall… and saw…
It looked a lot like this…
“Look at that chair! Don’t you love that chair?”
(It really was a cool chair. Yes, I loved that chair…)
“That chair would look sooooo gnarly in your room!”
(It really would…)
“It’s only $200! You should buy the chair!”
(I really wanted to buy the chair. But The Dream…!)
“You know… I don’t know how to tell you this… but… your stuff’s really not…. that… good.”
I bought the chair.
My father worked up here at the time, piloting one of the Lock Tour boats, and reluctantly agreed to truck it home for me. Wicker chair… Open truck bed… My chair blew out of the back of the truck at about Echo Bay.
We got turned around to go recover it just in time to see another truck wing by us with my chair in the back! Pissed my dad right off.
He took off after this guy at breakneck speed, berating me the whole time for being so stupid as to spend $200 on a chair for Chrissakes, and now he had to chase it down the damned highway, and so help him God, if he got pinched for speeding, I was paying the God-damned fine.
He caught up to the guy and pulled up beside him. Waved.
The guy waved back.
My dad yelled at him to stop, God-damn it.
The guy wouldn’t stop.
My dad darn near ran him off the road before he gave up and pulled over, telling us he was “trying to catch up with us”… ?! The chair survived with nary a scratch or break, surprisingly, and the story is incredibly funny now, but only because I survived. I was certain through the whole “chase” that my dad was going to roll the truck and kill us.
We pulled into Thessalon an hour or so later; my dad with a snarl on, and me with a crushed Dream, an un-crushed chair, and $50 burning a hole in my pocket. I’m pretty sure I spent the $50 on beer. And probably grass, too.
Every time we had company over after that, my dad would tell The Chair Story, bring people into my room to show them The Chair, and beam as if me spending $200 on a chair fer Chrissakes was the most brilliant thing I could have done. Maybe a highspeed chase down Highway 17 East was one of his dreams, I don’t know…
A year and a half later, my first apartment went up in flames. Wicker burns really fast.
I’ve always regretted buying that chair and forfeiting what I thought at the time was a pretty good chance at a really big dream. I’m not really sure if my heart is in this yet, but I’m going to give it another go.
Step One is now actually Step Three – as the world has changed a little since it was new. I have changed a lot since the world was new, but I’ve already begun Step One. I’ve talked to some people, and got some advice. Step Two is coming in short order.
It’s going to cost a lot more than $250.
I know it’s a bit of a cheat to not actually detail this further, but I haven’t exactly grown those guts yet. And I hope some of you will wish me well anyway. Comments are welcome. No Dream-Killers will be taken seriously. I hope.