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Name: Justine
Location: Annapolis, Maryland, United States

Justine, is a little bit more than you'd expect. This is where you are supposed to put your "elevator speech". What you'd say if you were in the elevator with somebody you wanted to connect with. I don't have an "elevator speech". If I ran smack-dab into one of my "heroes" I'd just have to smile and be polite and keep my yipper shut and that's probably for the best anyway!

Friday, October 31, 2008
Halloween Hell, James May is having more fun than I am. At least I hope he is.
A little sweet Lestat for Halloween



Friday morning at last. Halloween.

I am carefully costumed as someone “Who gives a fuzzy rat’s ass.”

I was slow enough getting out of the house this morning that I missed being in a three car pile up that closed down the beltway. So my “Treat” for today is being spared going to the hospital or the morgue.

The consequences of the roadway shutdown, however, are that I won’t make my 6 p.m. appointment this evening. The person I’m meeting is traveling today so I won’t be able to get a message through to them until late this afternoon. But, as my dad used to say, “Dem’s da breaks.”

Tonight will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of his death.

Halloween has been a tricky day for me since then.

Last year I had to have our beloved 17 year old Maltese put down the day before Halloween. Last year my pinball machine was delivered under cover of Halloween darkness.

This year I’m planning on not being home for the kiddies. I’ve got meetings and shindigs to attend. That should keep my mind from sinking deeper into the maudlin. Although this morning I think I’m walking on the bottom of lake despair.

I’m surprised at my feelings on returning to the “system’. After twenty years in the “biz” I thought I knew how I’d feel “coming in from the cold” of contracting. I was wrong.

On the contracting side I had better insurance and a nicer working environment. The contract I was on was slated to run for another 3 years. However, I was on a task that had no work so I was likely to be bounced out shortly. In the “system’ I have less flexible hours, more accumulated time off, pay raises, worse health insurance, and an office that looks like a Paris cemetery.

It feels like defeat. It feels like embarrassment. It feels like abject failure. It feels like I couldn’t hack “the real world” and I had to be “re-institutionalized”.

It’s all about self-image really.

Since I was old enough to know anything, I was taught that success was keeping an executive office job in private industry.

In reality I’ve discovered that I hate doing managerial work. I can do it but I get so bored and frustrated that I just toss it off and turn out being lousy at it.

To that end I also hate wearing a suit and playing golf. Miniature golf is fun because I can savage the papier-mâché’ pirates and spacemen with poorly aimed puts. Full out golf seems like a great way to ruin an afternoon outdoors.

The rest of the executive allure is lost on me. Mont Blanc pens suck. I think BMW’s are ugly. I couldn’t care less what somebody paid for their house or their suit. A bad suit is still a bad suit even if it is couture.

J2 says that I’m a “spanners” kind of girl. I prefer to do the fiddly technical work, it’s interesting. It’s more like spending my days doing a giant puzzle book instead of trapped in an 8 foot square under dim fluorescent lights.

J2 is taunting me today. He has tickets to the Top Gear MPH show in London this week. He will see the “blokes” live and in full scale silliness. I would say that I am seething with jealousy but then I would have to admit that I should have taken J2’s offer to move to London and become his char woman.

It’s a good thing for him that I don’t have a valid passport right now or I’d have been on his doorstep sometime yesterday. London is closer than Vegas.

If I’m this despondent about changing jobs, can you imagine what I’d be like if I decided to get married? Sweet mercy! I’d probably come home from the honeymoon and open a vein.

It’s not that I’m commitment shy, it’s my aversion to feeling “trapped”. I spent too many years stuck between the prospect of being abused or running away and being abused worse. At a time in my life when the world should have been a marvel of wide open choices, it was misery dipped in sin. I’m wary now as a residual. I won’t say that I blame anything and everything about my life now on abuse, I mention it because it is what shaped me the way I am. Changing that into something healthy is my job. But, like all people, I have my foibles and quirks. No amount of work is going to hammer them all away.

Right now I feel trapped. I’m trapped in one place when I desperately want to be somewhere else.

Like all things, this is also an illusion. I have the freedom to walk out the door and never come back. I also have the freedom to suffer the consequences.

I also have much more good going on in my life now than I had five years ago. I've got my remodeled home. I make enough money to make the mortgage. I'm a Nano Wrimo winner. I’m not engaged to a bi-polar alcoholic. My mom’s not living with me. I’m not living in an apartment at the top of an outdoor straight flight of 27 steps. I’m not rolling drunks to make the bills. Things are much better now.

I’m still jealous of James May though. No matter what Jezza and Hammond do to him, I still think he has more fun than I do. I hope he does. As long as he's out there larking about, I know that somebody can do it. If somebody can do it, then there's a chance I can too.

Tonight at midnight National Novel Writing Month (NaNo WriMo) begins. This year's novel is working titled "Pictures of Lily". That's about as much as I know about it. I'm going to stick to last year's strategy of no outlining, no plot, no worries. The task is to hit the keyboard for 1666 words per day and let the story unravel on its own. This is the place to have fun and let the writing ponies run.

Yes I have a few characters in mind for the story. Oh yeah, I have a few locales in mind. Sure I have an idea where this wicked missive will begin its sordid tale of fearlessly written mayhem.

This Sunday is my first voice lesson. That should be a trip. My voice hasn't really come back from last week.

As the election creeps closer, I wonder what Hunter S. Thompson would have had to say about the candidates. As I enter the month of baby-Gonzo writing I miss HST more than ever.



If you are reading my blog, give me a little treat email and let me know you're out there in the cyber-dark.

Hasta La Institution!

Justine
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Brought Into The System, I wonder if James May started this way?


Eleven a.m. Thursday. MP3 player is cranking Pink singing “So What?”.

Hunter S. Thompson wrote that once you “get pulled into the system you are in the system forever”.

I am back in the system, again.

Thompson was speaking about being “brought into” the legal system. I’m referring to navigating the large data processing shops. Once you get into opening the hood and tinkering with the brains of a multi-terabyte computer, it becomes the only place you feel at home. It feels like the only place you have any worth.

Standing a multi-million user online system on its nose and making it play “Rule Britannia” on bicycle horns is a satisfying experience. Other online systems people get to know you, you build your street cred, and your reputation is your lifeline. It’s catastrophically easy to narrow your world, your self worth, and your social life down to what happens on the rattling raised floor in the computer room.

That is death.




You put on your Super Techie tights and cape and spend your life flying around in super hero mode. Anyone not paying you “props” is chopped to mince. You set up your contacts, pay out favors, call in favors, bend over backwards to attain certifications, and melt into a psychotic bundle when someone doesn’t share your fabulous view of you. You are Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Saint Sebastian, and Angelina Jolie.

You also have no non-geek friends, no close family, no pets, and no lover. Anything that isn’t connected to the great humming heart of darkness is not worth interfacing with.

You will argue about S channel video and HD signals until you pop a blood vessel rather than go home. If you go home you might have to face yourself. That you can not do. You are Nos Feratu. You cast no reflection in the mirror. Save for a thin, mechanized slice, you are invisible to yourself. Art, beauty, and literature are denied to you in your half-life between dusk and dawn. You know that all the batch processing happens at night. In the darkness the accounts payables and receivables update, the invoices tally, the checks print, and the wire transfers send. The world breathes and groans at night and you are awake to save it from buffer overflows, printer mis-feeds, and system crashes.




When you walk amongst mortals you carry your pager, cell phone or Blackberry as your stigmata. You want the world to know that you are one of the dark avengers who keeps there lives running. You expect them to recognize and respect you for the technorati you are.

Though you will never admit it, it burns to the quick when mortals see you on your Blackberry and roll their eyes. They don’t know that your emails and phone calls are important. They don’t respect the sacrifices you make for the world.

The blood poisoning madness spreads until you are completely “within the system”. You work 60 hours a week. You leave your computer at home logged into work. You read trade journals in the toilet. You take your vacations to go to tech conferences. You leave all traces of normal human life behind.

Your employers up the line rub their hands together and lick their mustaches like silent movie villains. You make a lot of money for them. You make their empire run on greased wheels. You are the hamster catapulting their corporate Bugatti down the motorway. You are young. You work cheap.

When you break down they will trade you in for a new model. You will be hauled to the junk yard and used for spare parts.

The sun will come up on you and you will burn. Like every other Nos Feratu you will be nor more than ashes on the morning breeze.


“The System” forces its dark magic on all who stumble into its grasp. The lure is money, prestige, status, security, or whatever delusion any potential employee longs for.

Once inside the funhouse it’s a different story. Nonsensical protocols, procedures, and red tape wear off the corners of the new victim's rational view of the world. The compression process begins.

As the clockwork nonsense of the business and the physical maze of the cube farm continue their dance on the consciousness, there are three possible outcomes for the newest of the Nos Feratu family.

Those who see the landscape for the death trap it is and have other income options, escape. They walk away and do something else with their lives.

A second group realize the place as perdition but have no other way to earn their crust of bread, stay and build defense mechanisms to prevent themselves from succumbing.

A third group see a techie wonderland where ambition, drive, and red bull will make them successful. They firmly believe that success will include cash, prizes, and happiness. Those are the ones who run on until they burn up and out. Take someone fresh out of university with no close friends or family ties and they will incandesce in the system for years before they crumble.

This is the benevolent system I’ve just rejoined. I lived inside its hallowed halls for almost twenty years last time. I’ve just done two years on the contracting circuit getting my taste for life back again. When I first sat down in my assigned cell in the cube farm, I wept. I will resume carrying a pager every day of my life and keeping a separate desk at home for the “take home” work laptop.

The dark poison is poised at my skin demanding to be let in. I want to weep and cry that I had “no choice”. The damned thing is that I did have a choice. This is the choice I made. I needed the money, the stability, and the retirement. This was the option open that would get me the most of what I need and want from life. The mortgage has to be paid, the electric company wants their due, and the grocery store isn’t trading poems for bread.

I have come to this dark grey place of madness armed and armored. I know the lay of the land. I know myself. I only want the paycheck, not the head trip. My exit map is tucked in my pocket. My Schongauer angel is on the wall, his hand suspended in blessing above me. My miniature Aston Martin V8 Vanquish is parked on the monitor pedestal to remind me that Lime Rock is less than a year away. Tonight, I will print my favorite photos and bring them to cover the cube walls. I will bring my folder of prints from the National Gallery to remind me that art still exists.

I have walked in the sun, tasted the wine, felt the embrace of life. I will not only survive my time on the digital plantation , I will thrive in the outside world of love and light at the same time.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
James May, Fun, Tower Bridge, Ghosts
Tuesday night, winter is barreling in on the coat tails of a warm weekend.

Temperatures are expected to hit freezing tonight as rainclouds blow out to sea.

Three days from now is Halloween. The annual installment s of the psycho killer movies are all in release, haunted houses are in full swing, and the fly by night costume shops will give way next week for Christmas wrapping stations.

I drove past the Catholic high school and spotted the sign for their “Haunted Hayride”. It dared me to “Face Your Fears”. That gave me the first good laugh I’ve had in two weeks and I’m having a hell of a time trying to explain why.

“Freddy”, “Jason”, and “Michael Myers” make their annual comebacks for Halloween movie season. Each installment sees them dismembered, decapitated, drowned, or killed in some fashion and every year they come back.

Dead just isn’t dead enough for the cinematic cash cow terrors.

Dead just isn’t dead enough for several other figures who died in October. They were family members, they were abusers, and I thought the day I saw the mortician close the casket lid that they’d let me live the rest of my life in peace.

Oddly enough they don’t stay buried. They haunt me in October and throughout the year. Dead just isn’t dead enough. They made audio files in my psyche that play over and over despite my efforts to erase them. They catcall in my nightmares. They pop out of memory and upbraid me on my best days. They sit on the foot of my bed and smoke cigarettes in the middle of the night.

They followed my onto my new job this week and brought me to tears.

Monday I arrived at work on time with all my paperwork neatly filled out. By the time orientation broke for lunch, I was in tears. I felt a total failure in life, unlovable, worthless, and fit for nothing but the worms.

I made my way to a solitary spot in the courtyard and phoned my friend “D” sniffling tears like a ninny. In her amazing way she pulled me through with a ten minute pep talk.

Today was my first full day with my new division. The recordings started screeching before I made it to work. I showed up on time, perky, pleasant, and polite. By lunchtime I was ready to throw myself out of a 5th floor window. Luckily my old friend “C” works two aisles over in the cubicle farm and she marshaled me to the cafeteria for lunch. With her sage advice I avoided food poisoning.

“C”, I believe, is a Bodhisattva, she knows me well. As hard as I was fighting the nega-brigade in my head I was losing the battle and she could tell. She talked sense into me and got me back on the rails for the afternoon session. She stopped by me desk before she left for the day too.

The new office block is dark, grey, and gloomy. There’s no place to fix a cup of tea. There are no toasters or houseplants allowed. It is an expanse of grey as far as the eye can see. When I left for the evening I was a sea of tears once again.
This is a poor posting for a return after vacation. I apologize. I am failing the words right now. I regret that I left my last posting. Even though I knew I couldn’t stay, I am sorry I left and that makes no sense.

Today I found out that I misunderstood about being on call. The on call rotation is a month on every 3 months. But they also make you carry a pager 24 hours a day 365 days a year. My boss was a bit dismayed to see my shock at finding this out. She asked if I would have taken the job if I had known it. I bluffed and said, I would have thought harder about it but taken the job anyway. Truthfully, my price for carrying a full time pager would have been about 15K more a year. Too late now.
I have traded and office and staff I loved but work I hated for a job where the office is a crypt but the work will keep me interested. It’s early days yet. God help me.

My desperation to leave the computer field is fairly screaming through every nerve in my body tonight. Panic, fear, desperation, and despair are dismantling me with the help of the pre-programmed ghosts.

I’m fighting but I didn’t want to have to be fighting at survival so fiercely so soon.

James May has more fun than I do. He must or he’d leap off Tower Bridge.
I’ve been to Tower Bridge at night. It’s one of the most beautiful bridges I’ve ever seen, sturdy and revival looking instead of sleek and rickety like the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Tonight I’m wondering if I should have leapt from Tower Bridge myself when I had the chance.
Friday, October 24, 2008
James May might have even more fun with me around!
Hello lovelies. It’s been a full week since I’ve written a proper entry.

It’s often said that if you don’t take care of yourself and get some recreation that your body will get sick so you can get some rest.

I wish mine had waited a few more days before passing its verdict. Boring as it is to relay, I contracted a respiratory infection a week ago Monday. It’s still around and being bashed by rest, fluids, and antibiotics.

My long awaited vacation morphed into an enforced rest.

I got a few things done this week. I finally got mom’s veterans administration forms filled out and partially submitted. The mail is all caught up with. (I swear I get enough mail for five people.) All my clothes are clean. The house is tidy and clean.

All of this is exciting enough to put even me back to sleep.

However my whole vacation has not been in vain, I’ve learned a few things this week.

1. A week in bed isn’t as much fun as it soundss.

2. When all my clothes are clean, they won’t fit in the closet.

3. My expensive Delta shower faucet has a burn guard that keeps you from getting a hot shower at all.

4. My penchant for candles from Zena Moon and Yankee Candle makes my breakfast bar look like a church altar.

5. Buying a challenging pinball machine seems like a good idea until a year later when you still aren’t any good at it.

6. Mythbusters reruns are good at three a.m.

7. Daytime television is one of the torments of perdition.

8. I feel less deprived being stuck inside if it’s grey outside.

9. When that little voice in the back of your head says ‘don’t eat the pbj sandwich, don’t eat the pbj sandwich’.

10. Sudafed can make you jittery, paranoid, hyper vigilant and wide awake all by itself.

11. Antibiotics should come bundle packaged with Diflucan.

12. James May has a hell of a lot more fun than I do.

13. Watching Ghost Hunters in the dark isn’t scary when you’re tanked up on cold meds.

14. I don’t know how to take a vacation. I have no clue how to turn off the ‘to do list’. A day without progress is a day I feel like I’m going to go bonkers.

15. “Top Gear” repeats at ten a.m. make me want to hurt myself.

16. Betty Dodson should be required reading for all girls my age.

17. I still want my motorcycle license.

18. I can do dance class isometrics flat down in bed.

19. It’s frickin’ impossible for me to meditate and be tranquil with a stuffed up head.

20. It’s awkward to schedule a singing lesson via telephone when you’ve lost your voice.

21. I can sleep for 22 hours straight.

22. If I don’t figure out what these recurring dreams mean I’m gonna go bonkers.

23. I really love the paint colors and décor in my house. In the two years I’ve been working on it, this is most time I’ve spent at home and I like it!

24. James May has more fun than I do, but he might have even more fun with me around! When I'm not doped to the gills with cold meds I'm bright, cute, energetic, kind, loving, loyal, true, and up for mischeif. Maybe that's just what he's missing!

** I told you I was loopy with cold meds!

Mysterium
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
James May Has More Fun Than I Do
Yeah I said Yummy!

Sending you postcards from my vacation this week.

On Friday night I became ill with respiratory infection all around. Yesterday I started medication. Today I went to the doc.

All my plans for a fun weekend and a trip to the ocean have been scrapped.

James May is most likely having more fun this week!

Yeah I said Yummy!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Pleasant Distractions. . .
The vacation is rolling into day three with the momentum of a concrete wall.

A week ago today I came down with a cold. By last Friday I was down for the count. All my weekend plans were cancelled. Instead of a lovely frolicking weekend spent larking about the countryside in pursuit of copious carnal pleasures, I spent the whole time stove up with respiratory distress.

Today I spoke to the doctor and now I'm on a course of antibiotics for a general, overall snarking respiratory infection.

First vacation in over two years and it's all come down to me, a stack of drugs, and the television remote.

I'm flying high with Sudafed, aspirin, and Mucinex. When I went to the Target for my prescription I picked up the Ironman and Burn Notice Series DVDs. This is not the same as going to Cape May for a week's rambles on the beach!

Meanwhile in the next room the washer and dryer are running feverishly, the DVR is offloading episodes of Top Gear, and today's stack of bills are lurking.

I am a party girl. Below is a sample of some of the yummies I'm enjoying on the vids.

Yeah I said Yummy!
Freefalling
Friday, October 17, 2008
What the hell am I doing?


It's my last few hours as a sub-contractor. My desk is emptied out. All that remains is to take my chair and ottoman out to the car. (Yes I brought my own chair and footrest. Money is tight around here.)

As of 5:30 p.m. I will be unemployed.

I remember in 2006 getting word of the job through the grape vine. Someone I had trained had received a call from a head hunter who had been tipped off to her by someone whom she had worked with who had become a sub-sub contractor. I answered the third hand tip off and did a phone interview that night. The interview went ok and then the subject of the "Casino Royale" Bond movie came up. I mentioned that it was a sin to wreck an Aston Martin and that I didn't believe any driving I saw Bond do would make that car leave the road.

That spark of attitude and humor won me the job.

Not the job that was open at the time. That was for a data modeler. I was asked if I'd be interested in a DBA job that was coming up in 2007. I said "Sure!" in my perky little way and that was that.

I went through my 2006 employers special mortgage program and got down payment assistance in buying a home. As soon as I scheduled the settlement date I received a call to interview for the sub contracting job with the Bond fan that I'm leaving today.

I settled on my house knowing full well that in three to six weeks I was changing jobs. Changing jobs and getting a 15% raise.

God winked and I wound up with a home and a way to pay the mortgage.

When I started here I loved the people, the sunny office, the flex time, and the up close free parking. I hadn't been here two weeks when the little voice that tells me the truth said, "You aren't going to be here long."

I ignored that voice like I usually do.

Then in October of 2007 I was assigned to the project of "mass confusion". By March I was looking for a way off the project and I heard through the grapevine from folks I had worked with years ago that a systems slot was on the horizon with a different company.

The job listed in May and it took me three months for the interview process to roll around. After the interview it took 8 weeks for me to get a response. That was 2 weeks ago.

Now I'm ready to fly.

Oddly enough I'm going to the same position with the same company that I was offered in early 2006. Except in 2006 they wouldn't match fair market salary for the job. For the past two years they haven't been able to fill the position with an experienced person because the salary was too low. Now they're paying what I asked for then.

The Top Gear team would say that James May had been plotting the navigation route for my career. I know better. God has been winking at me and holding my elbow the entire way.

It will be interesting to see what other round-abouts guide me on the next phase.

However, for right now, there's still a part of me that's terrified of being unemployed. It knows that I start a new job on the 27th and that my contract is signed and binding. But it's still terrified. Tonight I'm going to give it a nice glass of cognac and send it to bed early.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Dedicated To the RAF


This post is dedicated to the pilots of the 41 Squadron RAF, 1939-1945.

Please take a moment out to click on the link to the website detailing their honor, bravery, and sacrifice.

Click here to go to the website for "The Pilots of the 41 Squardron RAF, 1939-1945"

Over the last few months I've come to know about the pilots of the squadron and about one in particular. His name was Flying Officer James Richard Walker. He died on November 16, 1940 when his plane crashed into the sea during a transfer flight to Malta. He came from Oak Bay, BC, Canda and was only 20 years old.

It's so easy to forget that the men and women we send off to war are still children really. They are the brightest, the strongest, the swiftest, and the best. The loss of a huge part of a generation is a tough thing for a nation to recover from. The damange done to the soldiers who return is never calculated into the cost of a war.

Those in my family who went off to WWI, WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam carried the marks for the rest of their lives. My mother is 82 and has Alzheimers but she still remembers the faces and the stories of wounded she could and couldn't help.

I've been given a glimpse into the life of Flying Officer Walker and I wonder how different the world would be if he had survived the war or if he had never gone at all.

Note:
Both my mother and father served in the United States Air Force in Korea during the Korean War. My mother was awarded a United Nations medal for humanitarian efforts in the communities in which she was stationed in Korea and Japan. My parents lived off base and helped their neighborhood install sanitary, running drinking water. They updated their landlord's home with a water heater as a gesture of respect and gratitude for their warm welcome into the community.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
To beauty and light long o'er the ocean gone. . .
Sniff. Sniff. Um. Soap, denim, aftershave spices.

Ok, enough being maudlin for a while. J2 has sent me another packet from across the pond.

I am now the possessor of Jeremy Clarkson’s new book, “For Crying Out Loud”. Jeremy now has pride of place on the edge of the tub in the bathroom. Luckily I remembered he was there before I turned the tap on last night or he’d be outside drying in the sun today.

I’ve finished about half of the book. He has blown up a seal carcass, had a donkey autopsied, and taken another potshot at James May.

Clarkson teases Richard Hammond about being short and whitening his teeth but it’s always playful. When Clarkson rants about James May, it’s mean spirited and violent.

In one of his earlier books, Clarkson said he was going to hijack all the guests for May’s next party. He would offer them an expenses paid trip to Barbados if they’d cut the party and take a wee in May’s mailbox on their way past.

In this book, Clarkson says that May is a crashing bore. He also bashes May’s attention to pre-flight checks on his private plane. He rants that May probably thinks the best “bit” of sex is “opening the condom”.

Nice things to put in print about a co-worker.

During Top Gear’s American odyssey through the south in summer, Clarkson enlisted Hammond to sabotage the air conditioner on May’s car. On the Botswana adventure Clarkson and Hammond tied raw meat to the engine of May’s car and put a cow’s head in the trunk before they drove through a lion preserve.

Guys will be guys, but we don’t see the same kind of pranks being pulled on Hammond or Clarkson.

I can anticipate some will hold the opinion that James is an easy target. Yes he admits to having a music degree, he has a pilot’s license, and he is mild mannered. But does that mean that the ‘cheap shot’ at his expense is always funny? No it does not.

I didn’t realize how much James has changed from season to season of Top Gear until I watched clips from the video archives on the new Top Gear website. In the early seasons James is bright eyed, witty, and funny in his own right. He walks, talks, and sits confidently on the Top Gear sofa set. His hair is short, his face shows, and his clothes are carefully considered. In the earlier series he gives as good as he gets and he seems happy.

Watching clips from later seasons, I saw James get slammed time and again by “Jezza”. He looses challenges, is picked on relentlessly, and Clarkson upbraids him every chance he gets. James looses his sparkle. You can watch it fade from series to series. By the last series shown, James looks like a bus station bum who doesn’t look anyone in the eyes. That beautiful wit and sparkle are gone.

It’s a shame to see what the show has lost in the way of May’s contributions. It looks as though the dynamic is ripped and won’t be mended.

Tonight I’ll go home and fire up the high speed connection and watch videos of a sparkling and laughing James May that no longer seems to exist.

J2 has been teasing me because I’ve gone from having nightmares featuring James May to seeing him as the underdog in an imagined social struggle on a television show. So let me just remind anybody who might read this tat, this little rant-n-rave is based on my observations of the world. It’s just me trying to puzzle out what I see. I have the greatest appreciation for Mr. May’s work. I wish him well.

As for J2- J2 what do you expect me to do? I’m tasked with one of these nutsy entries a day and some days the well runs low. James May and his missives in the paper make me wonder if he was more fun than I do. Sometimes I suspect he might not.
Relationship Advice From A Dog
Sniff Twice, Trust Once!

This woman is looking for an honest man. She has armed herself with a truth sniffing dog.

Snifffffff!


This guy is looking for a good woman and a stash of heroin. He figures if the dog doesn't find one, it'll find the other.

Sniff. Sniff!

This would be the place to insert a Top Gear reference on what James May might smell like. I'm not going to do that. I did have a friend say that she thought Richard Hammond looks like he smells of musk & cloves. I'll venture to say that The Stigg, alien life form that he is, smells like leather and machine oil.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Past Damage, Present Bleeding
I spent several hours on the phone with “W” last night, discussing everything and nothing at all. Of the men who’ve passed through my life “W” has been around the most number of years.

“W” and I met when I was fresh out of college. I was out on my own and learning to run a household. “W” and his family helped me through my “fledgling” stage.

“W” still lives in the last house we shared in our “too broke to pay attention” days. He still uses the refurbished 1940’s gas stove I gave him for Valentine’s Day twenty years ago. Since I left that house I've moved ten times or so.

I have to remind myself that I finally own a house. I can put nails in the walls, paint the bath teal, and park the car on the porch when it’s raining. Every time I put in an update, a little shiver of relief runs down my spine. My house looks like my home now. My artwork is on the walls, books I’ve bound are on display, my toys are arranged in collections and I play with them daily. On Saturday afternoons I luxuriate in my mahogany Renaissance Revival bed and enjoy “Freedom from fear.”

Through all my transitions from fledgling to home owner, “W” has been around someplace in the noise and confusion. He was in the background when I transformed from a twenty four year old who tossed up a scholarship to Vanderbilt graduate school, not only because she hated business statistics, but because she wanted to be someplace where she was loved. “W” was witness when that girl who believed in true love turned into me, mostly convinced that the idea of love is a myth invented by advertising companies and every word spoken by a guy is a lie. I wanted to ask “W” if he could tell me when he saw that happen. I wanted to ask him how I fix it. How do I go back to being whole?

In the months since the house remodel was finished, I’ve found myself going back to where I started when my family dissolved in the 1970’s. I’ve taken dancing lessons, signed up for singing lessons, and bought myself some fabulous dolls. I’ve tried to touch the girl I was then. I keep thinking there is some way to get a hold of that intact person and use her as a model to put the pieces of myself back to rights.

When I allow myself to become very still and think back, I can remember the feeling of being an integral part of a family. I can remember trusting that I was loved as well as that I loved. So many decades of keeping a wary eye, sleeping behind a locked door, and keeping a perpetual escape plan have interceded.

I long for that feeling of “home” again. I long for a companion and a family to belong to.

In the face of that longing is my experience, all the crashes, dents, and dings that left me struggling to believe there are any “honest men” out there.

I am gutted by the paradox of desire and experience.

Of all the things I’ve healed through, how do I heal through my heart’s greatest desire in opposition to my survival instinct’s strongest technique? I don't know.

The ready answer is always prayer. I can protest and say that I don’t know what to pray for. But, I know that the greatest prayer is to pray for help and admit you don’t know what you need or what will make things better. The prayer for transcendence. The prayer, “Oh God I don’t know what I need, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know anything, please take this situation and lay your hands on it and work it to rights. Please heal it and me. Please release me from these bonds, this pain, and these memories. Please help me transcend the past, rewrite my story, and live happiness, joy and love in the present. Amen.”



Three of Swords
Friday, October 10, 2008
Sexy Hexi ?
It’s that feeling you get when your suitcase is packed, your boarding pass is printed and wedged in the outer pocket of your backpack, and your purse is stuffed with your stash of Dramamine, Anacin, and Benadryl.

Everything is ready and you are early. You sit on the sofa, sip some tea, and look for something on television that won’t scare you to death before you travel.

I always try and leave the house clean and tidy when I go. When I return it’s such a relief to be able to unpack into the washer and then crash into bed.

But in the pre-trip moments it gives the house an eerie feeling.

That’s how the desk at work is starting to feel. I hauled out a satchel of reference books the other night. Last night I took out another two grocery bags of ephemera. This morning I loaded another two bags of things into the car. When I go out for lunch I’ll take my bulletin board and another stack of books.

In the two years that I’ve been here, most of my reference library has become obsolete. There will only be a handful of books taken to the new workplace. The oldies will join the craft bin and will reincarnate in collages and altered books. IBM EBCDIC computer memory dump references make striking collage backgrounds.

I’ve spent twenty years in the world of EBCIDIC and now international standardization is making it obsolete. I need to finagle a character chart for the new code scheme. Kanji characters blew the sides out of the old method of character representation. For years a special Kanji character set had to be loaded in addition to EBCIDIC. Now UNICODE promises to unite all.

My brain should foam over the first time I have to do offset math on a system restart. Offsets and log ranges are in base sixteen aka hexadecimal. It’s been almost three years since I had to add 000100AB to 000345F0. The trick on a restart is to come down in the log range on a 4K page break. That way you start on the next page in the sequence, owing to the fact that everything before that point has been corrupted in the crash and you are doing a disaster recovery.

Oh I can hear the rusty wheels creaking and clanking.

James May doesn’t have to do this kind of stuff does he? Yet again, another reason why he has more fun than I do.

This week he’s been in Viet Nam competing in a “Top Gear Gets Hosts Killed” challenge. That is several sublevels of hell below hex math.

I’ve just received an email from my current company saying they fully support Gay/Lesbian/Transgender lifestyles. So if I start wearing men’s clothes and change my name to “James” they’ll be behind me all the way. Right up until the company I contract to says I’m a weirdo and asks to have me removed from the project.

I have no desire to switch to men’s clothes or change my name to “James”. I’m perfectly happy with my current wardrobe choices and nomenclature. I just want to have more fun by way of driving exotic cars and crashing caravans without legal repercussions.

Because of electrical repair work this weekend, I am being forced to take a 3 day weekend. I plan on submerging this evening and resurfacing sometime on Monday. I know I’m starting out by going to York in the morning tomorrow. After that, it’s all up to which way I feel like going.


James & Jezza>
James & Jezza having a G&T in the artic. NOT having more fun than I do. . .
Thursday, October 09, 2008
My Traction Control Is Bustificated
Leather, A Sunset, and A Vampire.
a beautiful vampire to start an October evening. . .


My traction control is broken.

It’s not turned off; it’s just broken to bits. Not the traction control on the tank, the traction control on me.

Never mind that I bustificated the alarm clock two days ago, I’ve replaced it with an old cell phone that plays a cheesy version of “The Mexican Hat Dance”. This morning I heard the thing blaring its satanic hymn to productivity. I heard it and thought; ah I’ll sleep through one snooze cycle. Then I’ll be on top of the day!

The blare commenced again ten minutes later and I put one foot over the side of the bed and onto the floor.

That foot was planted firmly on the floor two and a half hours later when I opened my eyes again.

Someplace in the middle of getting out of bed I had slid into oblivion.

I wasn’t dreaming about target shooting on the pistol range, or dancing in our class recital, or even driving an AMG Merc to work. I was in the black throes of a 1940's sundries and patent medicines store. It was a family business belonging to sleek black haired men with an almost unpronounceable last name that sounded both Greek and Italian. I was married to a dead ringer for Andy Garcia (who is Cuban-American) and we were going over the books and playfully arguing over whether our first child was going to be a boy or a girl. I was inappropriately dressed in a cream colored satin evening dress at what appeared to be lunch time. An absence of a basketball tummy meant I could not have been too far along with my preferred baby girl.

Federal agents raided our little establishment in search of something illegal but I couldn’t tell what. It was too late for prohibition to still be in force. We weren’t running a casino. I thought it must have been illicit drugs. Cocaine has been a problem since the 1800s so it was my guess.

After the feds hacked down the door to our storeroom and smashed a hole in the back wall, they were rewarded with a thousand five gallon cans of cheese popcorn. As they smashed the cans open with fire axes, I wondered when popcorn had become illegal. The family stood around eating popcorn and watching the Feds go into a frenzy. As the smashing continued, drug sniffing dogs were brought in and they began to chow down on the popcorn to the ire of their handlers.

When the unsuccessful raid was called off, the patriarch of our family grabbed the lead agent and stuffed his coat pockets and mouth full of popcorn and threw him out the front door.

We closed the store, pulled down the shades, and began the clean up. My hubby gave me a hug and a gentle pat on the rump. I reached into my brassiere and retrieved a diamond necklace with, at minimum, 50 carats worth of stones.

We all had a very wicked laugh. I woke up feeling like a gun moll.

I also woke up with a head full of swirly, whirly, giddy, and fiddy. Too much long term stress, too little satisfying work, too many changes with mom, too many changes with the job, and too much hanging-waiting have left me off my guard. I’ve let myself become exhausted. Jumbling along with only 5 more days to go and nothing to do with them, I couldn’t make myself rush into work.

I stumbled into my togs and hit the road, feeling like a school girl ready to cut school in favor of the pinball arcade. I decided to stop at the bank and handle the errands. I even popped into the bakery for a bagel and tea. I still ambled into work at the end of lunch time. I’ll have my 5.5 hours today and I’ll have a few less errands to run during vacation week.

I notice that I’ve left out any Top Gear reference in today’s stumbling. I checked the Top Gear website yesterday and they had pics of the guys in Viet Nam. Jeremy Clarkson was wearing a communist flag T-shirt. Hopefully James and Richard will be far back from him when someone uses the gold star on his chest for a target.



How dramatic!
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Let's Have A Frolic!
We’ve skipped breakfast today at the Tuxedo Inn.

We slept through it, owing to the fact we destroyed the alarm clock in the predawn hours of yesterday.

At the current job I have a big 2 days of leave banked against my week off coming up. Yesterday I found out that the main computer center is having electrical work so I will have to take next Monday off. That means the big vacation will be 4 days without pay.

Oddly enough I was able to go to my credit union and secure a line of credit to tide me over during the few weeks before the paychecks are issued at the new job. The stock market committed suicide and yet I was able to get exactly what I needed to prosper.

God winked at me. I was a little slow, but I caught it and said “thank you”.

Now I don’t have to worry about floating money all over the place to try and cover my and mom’s bills for November. (Between the two week lag in my checks and the five week lag in insurance payments it can get to be interesting sometimes.)

I’m actually free to consider a nice 3 or 4 day trip to the ocean. I can make the trip on 2 tanks of gasoline tops. Going mid-week and in October I can get very low rates for very posh ocean front digs. Some staring at the ocean time is needed.

This weekend is the White Rose Gameroom Show in York PA. It’s a pinball junkies treat. They have a convention hall full of machines set on free play. Under that siren song influence last year, I bought a pinball machine. This year I don’t have room in the house for a new pinball machine. I plan on going and playing though.

Since the sun is so bright and warm, we are having luncheon on the patio by the pool. Don’t mind Noodles, I let him swim in the pool just like the people do. He probably has better hygiene than most humans anyway. Noodles is a cream colored Labradoodle. He’s part lab and part standard poodle. He has a lovely disposition. He belongs to the cook.

I’ve selected “comfort food” for this afternoon’s menu. I’m having grilled cheese and bacon sandwich with french fried potatoes. We have PBJ, grilled cheese, cheese steak, and meatloaf for sandwich choice. There’s tomato and broccoli soup to choose from.

This afternoon’s motoring enjoyment will be a special treat. Rogn has secured a 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Atlantic Coupe for us. He’ll be following along, at a respectful distance, in the rollback truck in case we should suffer a mechanical fault. We only have the car for the afternoon so we won’t be going too far a field. It should be a lovely time though.

I thought we might take the back roads down to one of the river front places for dessert. We'll have a leisurely drive back. It’s just about the last time we’ll enjoy green leaves until spring.

I’m so glad you enjoyed the “Top Gear” DVD I loaned you. The Artic Adventure was something else. I did feel bad for Richard Hammond though. When that woman tried to put the dog harness on him I thought he was going to shove her into it.

This season they stuck Hammond out to run with the bulls in Pamplona. Around here we have a lot of bull but it’s on two legs and instead of having horns it's just horny.

We should phone my cousin Tuesday and see if he wants to come out for a lark. It would do him good to get out in the fresh air. He’s been ill lately. Some gentle fun would be just the curative.

James May, A Bugatti, and Sunshine
James, A Bugatti, and Sunshine.
Widget Test
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Morning has broken. . . me
The archetype of The Sun

Morning has broken like a plate glass window.

I lay waste to the alarm clock sometime this morning. I woke up already fifteen minutes late for work.

My body wants to keep bartender’s hours.

It’s not that I just can’t get to sleep at night. The problem is that when I finally do fall asleep I can’t wake up. I lapse into a coma and only time will overcome.

It’s only Tuesday and I have succumbed to the Friday tireds. You would think all my momentous good news this week would have sent me into a perky rally.

I’m afraid not. I discovered through notices from mom’s prescription drug insurance that doctors put her on Procrit. She has anemia that is not responding to iron supplementation. From what I read of Procrit it should not be given to anybody not receiving chemo therapy.

I have a feeling that the issue is age and nutrition related. Since mom has the same genetic dealio as I do, we both have problems with anemia. I also think they don’t offer her enough of the iron rich foods that she’ll eat. They’re supplementing only part of the B complex and they should do the whole thing. My anemia doesn’t respond with iron supplementation unless I supplement the whole B complex range. It has something to do with the way our syndrome impacts absorption chemistry.

I know that at times I thought I’d never feel “normal” or even “passable” let alone “good” again. I was in some dark despair until the first time my body chemistry equalized out.

That was a very good day. I celebrated by doing laundry, going to the grocery store, paying bills, and going to the mall for a look around. To anyone else that was tame as toast. To me it was wonderful.

Today the sad thing is I feel like leftover dirt and mom’s body has started to fail. That little voice that pops up and tells me the truth has been banging the back of my brain. It tells me that this is going to be a long, cold, hard winter.

True to my word yesterday I only tuned in to a few minutes of Top Gear last night. The television was on long enough for me to see James give over his “cheap car challenge” victory to Jeremy. I wanted to reach through the screen and throttle him.

That urge has more to do with me than him though. It’s part of my campaign to stop others from ‘eating my lunch’ as it were.

It seems I’ve been the “James” in the group a good chunk of my life. I paddle around living my life and doing my job and always being the seriously un-cool one of the group. My hair never does what I want it to. My clothes never seem to hang right, even when they’re tailor made. I was once told that not only do I think “outside the box”; I’ve also apparently never even seen “the box”. The most noisome thing is that over time I’ve seen my best victories handed over to someone else. Others have taken credit for my work, forced me out of my own family, and walked off with my boyfriends. And there hasn’t been squat I could do about it. For whatever I did or however I rallied, I was bested.

Dr. Christine Northrup has a theory that, when women hit the top end of their 30’s and forward, anything that wasn’t resolved in their lives before their childbearing years comes around for resolution again. It’s an urge to tidy up loose ends and put a capstone on that part of our lives. We put on our “Been There, Done That” t-shirt and wander off looking for something else to do.

My something else to do involves picking up where I left off many years ago. Dance class is tonight. I “auditioned” for the singing teacher last weekend and will be starting lessons this month.

My singing teacher “DB” asked me if I had any experience with foreign language. She went on to tell me that all her students sing in Italian.

I've been mangling singing in Italian for years, but she didn’t need to know that.

I have a bucket load of Top Gear references I could stick in here but today I’m not much on writing or being silly. The Top Gear website has reported that James May has cut his hair and that the guys are filming an episode in Viet Nam.

I’m usually a ‘wear your hair how it suits you’ kind of person. However, James looks younger with it shorter. When it’s longer he looks like one of the guys who sleeps on the benches in the parking garage in Annapolis.

Perhaps we’ll have breakfast on the sun porch tomorrow. I’ll get Rogn to get one of the vintage cars out and get it ready for a romp.

Disturbia
Monday, October 06, 2008
Bye Bye Sunshine
The archetype of Judgement

I turned in my two weeks notice this morning.

After 7 weeks of hanging by a thread, I finally received a written offer on Friday. I start on October 27th.

I’ll miss my sunny window and my up close and cuddly parking space. But I won’t miss not having any leave and worrying about the contract end. The new job will be a raise and will have room for growth. It’s going back to installing systems software, and that’s what I’ve done the most of.

Wish me luck in remembering how to do what I used to so well!

You may wonder why the window and parking space is such a big deal to me. For 19 years I worked for a company that didn’t have parking. You parked 2 miles away and took a shuttle in to work. I managed to get a close parking space in a pay-garage. It was a hardship to pay through bodily orifices to park, but it beat catching the flu, pneumonia, or a cold hiking in during the winter months. Maryland is the land of rain, sleet, sneet, hail, ice, damp, and yuck. If you want to get sick go hiking around the capital in wet weather and then sandwich in with co-workers and tourists. Having parking close by kept me out of the sneeze zone. One year I caught the flu and then had pneumonia on top of it. I came close to checking out permanently. It took five years before my lungs were strong enough again for me to do very much more than wheeze a lot.

My 19 years was also done in rooms with little or no natural light. This last 2 years has been nice. Even though I’m still nocturnal, it’s been nice to have a real sense of night and day again.

When I re-enter the twilight world of the computer room, I’ll take an OTT lamp back with me so I’ll get a little full spectrum light. I’ll also go back to taking “smoke breaks” so I can go outside and see the weather a few times a day.

My former cell mate from my last company will also work in the same section of the cube-farm with me. It will be nice to see her again.

You can tell I’m trying not to get melancholy. I need the money. I need a job that doesn’t make me count the minutes in the day. I need to find a place to be useful.

James May has more fun than I do.

Top Gear is on tonight but I’m pretty sure I won’t watch it. Silly as it sounds, it will make me maudlin. When I changed jobs this time I wanted to leave the computer-room behind and escape into something else. I started to say “to something more creative”, but installing systems software is a problem solving technique. You are “creative” the whole time you work. It’s like working a puzzle that sometimes makes you sweat blood and that nobody has the answer to.

I’m pretty much at the top of the heap, that’s what this company hiring me means. I’m top of the heap and I work cheap. Technically if I work two or three years at the next position, I will be able to put myself out on the market at a higher technical level to even larger businesses. Of course that won’t put me behind the wheel of a Bugatti, or give me afternoon sunshine, or help me find the mysterious Anam Cara. It will give me more of what I don’t really want. More working over time, more taxes, more time with a pager stuck to my arse.

It’s more satisfying to spend an afternoon flailing through my copy of “The Deluxe Transitive Vampire” fretting over the whole “lie, lay, lye” business than to recover a 3 terabyte database. It’s more satisfying to end the day covered in alcohol inks and bookbinding glue than to hobble out of an office building after saving the company the cost of 1000 backup tapes. (At 32.50 a tape.)

Practicality is always the crux of the problem isn’t it? Wrangling a computer pays my mortgage, keeps the tank running, fills the pantry, buys my clothes, pays for mom’s meds, and affords me a very nice television and DVR to watch Top Gear on.

Now that the lower levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are filled, like all humans, I want more.

James May probably wishes he were a concert pianist and never had to drive another ratty super car again.

It’s the human condition. We keep the spirits highly amused.

I want to be clever here and rail in some elegant form. I want to make some bizarrely bent point like Jeremy Clarkson often does. I can’t find a fine edge for it. The words “you know” keep coming to mind.

The archetype of Death

I have completed this cycle of development. New beginnings are at hand.

All I can know is that I do not know.

Divine discontent is starting its fire again. Burning towards the horizon.


The archetype of The World
Friday, October 03, 2008
Riding Bareback
Condoms anybody?

Does anything make sense? Not on Friday morning it doesn’t. I’ve got the “Friday Tireds”. This morning was cool and perfect for sleeping until noon. But, here I am wandering around like a zombie.

I accidentally committed office political suicide a month or so back so now my work has been divvied up amongst others. My faux pas was truly accidental. I had interviewed for a ‘full time’ slot so I could move out of contracting. I received an official notice that I didn’t get the spot so I went back on the interview circuit. Unbeknownst to me, there was a second vacancy and the interviewer had submitted me for it. By the time somebody opened their mouth about anything, I was up to my elbows in the process of going full time for another division.

My mistake, you understand, was not applying for two positions. I could have pulled that off without detection. When everybody got cheesed off was when I admitted to making an honest mistake and saying I felt I was a better fit in the systems ops job.

It’s been almost two months since my interview. I’m still waiting for an official letter so the paperwork fest can begin. Every time I interact with a new company I’m amazed at how exponentially slower they are than the last.

On the bright side, its Friday and that means it’s time for the weekend. It’s also time for a fresh column from James May. Today’s is a ‘good un’. In the spirit of Hammurabi James May has devised his own code. It consists of the single imperative, “Don’t be a prat.”

He extends this code to the current helmet laws. While emphasizing that he always wears his motorcycle helmet, he says he wants a sample bare headed ride just for the experience. May has even bet Jeremy Clarkson that he can ride to Piccadilly helmet-less in broad day light and not get caught by the police.

When I read that, I felt my over-regulated society knee-jerk reaction fire up. “You f**k&^g fool it only takes one accident to make you a vegetable.” I said in a low voice.

Then I caught myself. When did I become so certain that rules and safety measures would guarantee no ill would happen? When did I become so silly? When did I buy completely in to the bitching and moaning of a “PSA” based mind control?

Sure when I was a kid I heard my mom talking about patients who had their brains partially squished out and shoved back in. Motorcycles, automobiles, stairs, busses, skis, and falls were the usual culprits. Helmets were always absent from the equation.

When I went through my madcap beau with a motorbike days the most pressing problem was wearing jeans and boots so I didn’t get burned on the exhaust. A helmet was a close second. Despite youth and the traffic that comes with living in a vacation town, we were never in an accident.

When I went back to bicycling a few years ago I never thought about putting on a helmet. I’ve been riding a bike since I was six years old without a helmet, kneepads, gloves, goggles, or a rearview mirror. I joined some friends on the bike path for a pedal and was galvanized by screams of “Where’s your helmet? Are you nuts?”

I brazenly cycled the afternoon with my ponytail flailing in the breeze. Not one wayward rock launched itself into my skull. I went unscathed. Later on I caved and bought a helmet for our next outing, but doom did not overtake me that day.

So it will be for Mr. May. He’ll either win or loose his bet with Clarkson.

In the bargain he gave me a good look at how brainwashed I’ve become and how the society I’m in sees legislation as the way to make the world a cotton tufted safety land.

My BFF “D” and I were discussing the perils of safety precautions and percentages last night. 80% sounds like fairly good odds until they’re printed on the side of a spermicidal foam package and you join the 20% group that’s having an unplanned pregnancy. In “D”s case it was twins.

I had good luck with contraceptives but picked up a few dings from my parents in the genetic lottery. I have a gazillion syllable syndrome that went undiagnosed for two decades. When my turn on the Wheel of Fortune rolled around again, I was diagnosed and now I’m on meds that make life pretty normal. I quit taking them and I’m going to make it through the pearly gates in short order.

Right now I’m going to take the tank and go out for a nosh. I will risk driving in heavy traffic, eating fast food, and a trip in the office building elevator. I will wear my seatbelt and obey the speed limit but I won’t wear a helmet.

I’d say I’ll be well within May’s Law of “Don’t Be A Prat”.

After all life is a serious business and “prat-ness” should be avoided whenever possible.

In the immortal words of the Talking Heads:

“This ain’t no party.
This ain’t no disco.
This ain’t no foolin’ around.”
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Taking Umbrage
J2, aka Jeremy from London, has taken exception to my last few posts. He has also let it be known that he expects "W" and Cousin Tuesday will be similarly disgruntled.

So allow me to gruntle them all with an update.

Cousin Tuesday is not a potential beau. He is also not somebody I have to trust not to break my heart. I'd trust Cousin Tuesday with my wallet, my credit card, and my keys.

"W" is in a class all his own. He's had my spare car keys, my purse, and my dog in his trust at some point.

J2, well buddy don't get upset. You and I are buddies. If you go berserk and decide to pop the question from across the Atlantic, we'll discuss it offline then.

Remember my blog is just me ambling on digitally. It's just me and I'm just sayin' . . . .
Elephants, Puppy Dog Ears, Ruined Carpets
Now that I’ve written the semi-funny post for the day I can get down to the business of addressing the grievously wounded elephant flailing and bellowing smack in the middle of the lobby here at the Tuxedo Inn.

It’s been sitting dead center of the room on it’s crinkly grey bottom for several weeks now. I’ve been tiptoeing around it and promising it a meeting later. It had its hopes up yesterday that I’d give it an audience at the end of my laundry-list-o-lover post but I ducked out just in time and missed it. This morning it took an elephant gun, plugged itself center mass and started hemorrhaging all over the carpet just to get my attention. I’ll try and address the issue, I guess, if I have too. . . . . . .

Trust. My buddies at Miriam-Webster Online define it as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something”.

Television sitcoms use psychiatrists and banter about “trust issues” as fodder for the nightly insipidness. Advertisements blather about “names”, “products”, and “companies” that “you can trust”. Goofy “team building” classes are smattered with “trust” exercises.

Personally I trust the laws of physics to continue in force. I trust the brakes in my car to slow it down. I trust the electric company will shut off my utilities if I don’t pay the bill. I trust the income tax bureau will find me if I don’t pay my tax. I trust God.

That’s the end of my list.

I used to trust my mom. Since her mind is going I don’t any more. She physically can’t remember and can’t be held accountable for what she does.

I trusted my dad with the blind faith only a “daddy’s girl” can muster. When I was 9 he abandoned me. He never paid a cent of child support. He never thought twice about how I would survive. I was replaced and forgotten. It was a tough lesson to learn. When I was in my thirties I discovered there was some issue that dad had tried to kill me and mom before he left. That was a hard lessons refresher course.

Like anyone else who joins the dating and mating fray, I’ve had my disappointments. I caught my fiancé with someone else. That chipped the edges off of my youthful stupidity and naiveté. Afterwards I had a good share of duplicitous beaus.

I worked for companies that had payroll checks bounce. I worked in computer centers where the office politics made “Survivor” look like “Sesame Street”.

In the late 90's, my last go round in the engagement business finished me off. That little charmer was engaged to me and making mattress time with two other women.

At that point I lost all faith in my ability to discern character, sort truth from lies, or withstand much more of social company.

My proven survival skill since has been to keep anyone from being too close, to withhold trust. Yeah, me and everybody else alive. We all do it.

But it’s in the way. How can I have an “Anam Carra” when my heart is closed and locked tight? If I spend all my energy curling up against a possible disappointment or impact, then I can’t stretch out and soak up the warmth and love.

What is the balance and boundary between self-preservation and connection?

Here the words become awkward and it becomes difficult to write. Speaking about this feels like I’m giving away state secrets to the enemy. Fundamentally I know I’m not different from anybody else, excepting that I am the one responsible for what I do. Whatever made me as I am is no longer important. What I choose to do and how I adapt is my responsibility. I can be bitter and closed or I can try again.

If I choose to try again, how do I proceed in a way that honors the person I choose to let in and preserves respect for myself?

How do I tell if anyone is trustworthy? If a guy wades through yesterday’s matchmaking criteria and we have a splendid chemistry what then?

When he gives me the line about falling asleep dreaming of puppy dog ears are my instincts still good enough to tell me if he’s sentimental or a Tony Award winning snake oil salesman?

The moment I open the shell and let myself love, will the object of my affection be gentle and kind? Or, will he gleefully snatch my heart out of my chest and show it to my dying eyes?

When I was twenty three I didn’t think about it, I plunged headlong off the cliff with complete surety. Now I’m thinking twice before embarking on The Fool’s Journey.


The Fools Journey Begins
Feelin' Groovy?
On his XM Radio show, Tom Petty is playing “Smokestack Lightning” by Howlin’ Wolf. It’s that kind of morning, a good backbeat with unintelligible moaning. It’s starting to feel like fall. The furnace kicked on at six a.m. and set off the smoke alarm. Instead of staying awake and coming into work, I went back for a snooze. That was a mistake. I didn’t stagger out of bed again until nine. Guess who gets to stay at work until six tonight?

This isn’t the kind of morning to have our tea and toast out by the pool. Have the house boy bring brekkie out to the sunroom. I don’t get the newspaper but we can watch television while we nosh. Regis & Kelly? Hell no! I’m going to be eating. I DVR’d Mythbusters, Ghosthunters, and Craig Fergusson last night. Want to watch the Fergusson monologues from this week? Yep, I have this weeks Top Gear on the box, haven’t watched it yet. Monday night I was out. It’s a little too early for me to watch Jeremy and Richard beat up on James. I swear, one day that man is going to snap and do something nasty to those two. Yes, my tailor/seamstress swears she’d like to get a hold of every pair of trousers James May has and put a decent hem in them. Speaking of James, somebody sent me a link to an interview he did recently. It was one of those 20 questions things.

He mentions puppy dog ears. Men never talk about puppy dog ears unless they’re trying to put the mau mau on somebody. Click Here to read it for yourself and be amused.

Um. Here comes the houseboy with a pitcher of tea and a stack of extra crunchy toast. I have the best kitchen folks in the world.

Wait till you see the guy who mows the lawn. He looks like Captain Jack Sparrow.

The road trip in the Impala earlier this week was a lot of fun. Today I’ve got more of a yen to go to the ocean. We can take a walk on the beach. The indoor mini-golf place is still open, we can go for a quick game. We can take the back roads down. The fields will still have crops in them. Maybe we can stop at Suicide Bridge for lunch. We can come back the main way and I’ll show you the old family house where my mom grew up. I’ll stop at AC Moore and get some flowers; we can stop at the cemetery and put fresh ones out.

Which car would be right for today? Rogn is out there covered in grease and having a time of it. I think the Alfa is out for the count, but then it’s an Alfa when isn’t it bustificated? He’s got the 1968 Plymouth Fury III running again. My dad drove one of those. We used to take it to the pool and the beach. Let’s pick something else. If we take the Jaguar we’ll have to take Rogn with us. That frinkin’ thing breaks down every twenty miles or so. Rogn is ok on a road trip; he usually just sits quietly in the back unless some song comes on the radio that gets him fired up. Then he starts ranting about something called Ragnarok and being eaten by a wolf. It harshes the whole vibe.

Yeah I said “frinkin’” if you say “friggin” around Rogn, he freaks out and starts yelling about his ex-wife. I think her name was some Nordic thing that sounded like “frigg”.

Nah, he’s got a girl friend now. Some Greek chick named Athena. On his nights off in the summer he brings her over and they use they pool. They sit out there and smoke and drink and babble Shakespeare at each other. It’s cute.

Let’s just take the old reliable Sable. We’ll pop by the car wash on the way out of town and get it freshened up a bit.

We’ll finish our toast and take our tea to go. What about the financial bail out? We’ll check the news tonight and see what they’ve done later. Not much we can do about it today. The sun is shining, the air is cool and crisp, and we have a tank full of gas and pocket money. We’d better party while we can.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Fresh Paint & Plaster
The Tuxedo Inn has had a few appearance changes today.

The ‘Cuppa Tea’ pic was nice but not very accurate. A good quantity of tea is consumed at the Inn but none of it in fancy china cups.

The new pic is my ever faithful oak desk, the requisite clutter, and the computer. If the shade was up, the view through the picture window would be the side of my neighbor’s car barn. The pic on the computer screen is of Mugsy, the love of my life.

I added the nod to James May and his mystical influence on my blogging on the page banner out of respect.

When I get the digital camera under control, I’ll update the site with spiffy new pics when I take them.

Today I found out that I’m going to get a vacation the week of the 20th of October. I need to decide on where to go. Not enough time to go to London or Taos. Should I go to Cape May, Savannah, Myrtle Beach, or Ocean City? Should I take the days and divy them up between the National Gallery, The Walter’s Gallery, and the other museums? Should I stay home and splurge for one box seat at the opera?

Right now I feel like I want to sleep the whole week.

I know I need to take mom to the Veteran’s Administration, the Social Security Office, and the dermatologist. I need to get the lenses changed in my glasses, get the car repaired, get a mammogram, and go to the doctor. That certainly sounds like a party down vacation experience.

I haven’t had any kind of vacation in a year and a half. My last week off was spent working on the house.

To hell with all the “shoulds”. I’m going to go spend a few days staring at the ocean somewhere. Or I could go to Disney World. Nah, not by myself.

Cousin Tuesday, feel like a road trip to Walt Disney World in Florida? Could be fun. Might be fatal. Can’t pass up a deal like that! Just to celebrate I’ll take the radio antenna off the car and replace it with a metal coat hanger. We’ll party like it’s 1979! I want to go in the Pirates of the Caribbean and in the Haunted House. Other than that it’s up for serendipity! Let me know!!! Hee heee heee ha!
Would ya' could ya'?
What do I want out of a relationship?

“Great sex and somebody to take me to the opera.”

Easy answer.

It’s the same kind of easy answer the devil extracts from the fool in the movie “Bedazzled”. Doesn’t matter which version of it you watch, it turns out the same way. The damned fool gets exactly what he asks for and, sure as hell, it isn’t what he expects it to be.

That’s the trouble with the “envision it and you’ll get it” rah rah programme.

A few days ago I said I wanted to see a Mercedes AMG up close and in action. Today I got my wish. Cruising up from exit 17 to exit 18 I was lined up side by side with a Mercedes CLS550 AMG. I was giving it the appreciative eye when the driver decided he didn’t like the traffic pattern and tried to swerve. My door mirror was level with his head. Luckily he looked before he completely ran down my door. I dropped back without getting rear ended by the truck behind me. I heard the Merc suck in breath. Its damn fool driver tried to slip it through a three foot long gap in traffic. I got out of the way and he snorkled through and right towards the back of a truck. The Merc stood on its nose but stopped short of slamming the driver into the back of a truck trailer.

I dropped the lane and went towards my exit. The Merc was trying to pass in the break down lane.

It all ended ok. I got to work all in one piece with no more dents in the tank. It’s just funny how these things work out.

It’s the horns of the dilemma isn’t it? How to balance what you desire and what you work towards, against the not knowing what would really make you happy and what you truly need.

I realize I want a manfriend/boyfriend. (What do you call them when you’ve over 30?) I know I want a lover and some companionship. I’m past the having babies stage. I’ve never even wanted kids. I’m not all steamed up to get married; I could go either way on that.

After that the laundry list gets nebulous.

One of my 65 year old female friends says, “Hair and teeth would be nice, but I can work around it.”

I can throw in the usual things that are often implied and not mentioned. Don’t really want a sociopath, serial killer, axe murderer, raging alcoholic, psychopath, child abuser, crack addict, mother f**&&# (literally), bisexual, cross dresser, bank robber, cyber criminal, or any other criminal type. I also think I’d have to draw the line at swingers, plushies, and mondo-bondo-sado-masichistic types.

If you want to wear the squeaky motorcycle leathers in the house, that’s ok. (I’ll have a delightful time with all the zippers.) Kicking in the front door with a machine gun in one hand and an axe in the other is out of bounds.

I’m starting to sound like a stuck up prude. Sad, but true.

Hmm, let’s see, yes I get more prudish from there. I insist on monogamy. Too many diseases and nutcases out there, I don’t want the old boy bringing home AIDs or somebody who’ll cook the family pet. Of course that’s a two way street. I won’t be out expending my desire on someone else.

Bad tempers are another thing nobody seems to think about when they’re filming those asinine television commercials where couples promise not to wear pj’s or tell anybody they wax their backside. Getting mad is part of life. If you don’t get mad, you get nuts. I just don’t want to be screamed at, slapped, pushed, punched, burned with lit smoking products, threatened, locked up, nor have things thrown at me. I don’t want somebody who trashes the house, drives off like an idiot, abuses the dog, or pulls a firearm when they’re in a state. Go ahead and curse. I understand the joyful release of insulting a curtain rod’s sexual preference while I'm hanging up drapes. Stomp a bit. Snort a bit. Rant and rave a bit. But, draw the line. Remember I’m American out of Irish & English stock, if you threaten me I’m liable to get scared and do something neither of us will be happy with later.

That leads me to the whole “good girl” and “bad girl” issue. One of my friends is a certified counselor for teenage girls. Sadly, she reports that the girls all report having to make the decision to be a “good girl” or a “bad girl”. That age old head f*&^ that nice girls must ignore their sex drives or become total “hos”. I’m not a high mileage harlot with a fraternity tattoo on my arse. I’m a gentlewoman of faith and I’m not abstinent or tethered to the "missionary lifestyle". Perhaps that makes me good at being a bad girl or is it bad at being a good girl? Either way I'm just me.

In the same vein, I don’t want a porno actor, orgy aficionado, village bicycle, rock-n-roll sucker fish, or an Austin Powers emulator. The old “guys will be guys” doesn’t wash. A “ho” is a “ho” no matter what sex they are. Serial monogamist with a nice amount of spark will do quite nicely.

Then there’s the matter of liking each other. I want a guy who’s crazy about me, not just crazy. My friends and hired professionals have gently tried to break it to me that I’m a bit eccentric. I know from experience I can be a little difficult for a guy to take. I’m independent, stubborn and bright. I have a warped sense of humor, am a night owl, and am a touch oversexed. I get vertigo easily, have hay fever, have long hair, hate camping, don’t know how to ski, make a good loaf of hand made bread, don’t cook much, pay my bills on time, have green eyes, don’t wash my car every week, grew up in a house 500 feet from the Atlantic Ocean, am a book junkie, regularly ramble through the National Gallery or Art, gush over live opera performances, wear stockings instead of pantyhose, love baroque music, am taking voice lessons, own a pinball machine, am taking dance lessons, am trying to remember how to sight read music, own a shamanic journey drum that goes out of round every time it rains, like to play shuffle-bowl, spend more time listening to music than watching television, adore Cary Grant movies, have seen Big Bad Voodoo Daddy in concert 10 times, read a book a week most weeks, have never driven a Bugatti, won a car on a bet, get altitude sickness in the high mountains, schedule a Saturday afternoon nap, and don’t get freaked out when people eat in my car.

Finding a guy that will say “yes please” to a slice of that might just take a little more than a survey at eHarmony.

When I look back at that description, I see I left out a lot. If I have a hard time describing myself, how can I expect to make a micro-managed list of who and what I’m looking for?

I want this manfriend/boyfriend to be somebody I respect, enjoy being with, can stand to be around, and even love. Everyone has known somebody they loved and couldn’t stand to be with. (Think about every family car trip you’ve ever been on.) I have loved a few guys whose personality traits ignited a burning desire to commit violence upon their person. I had to walk away, even though great sex and opera where in the equation. What kind of whacky wish list would you make describing personality traits you were fine with? Do you say “ok if picks nose in car but not at table”? Perhaps you could note, “Victoria’s Secret catalog in bathroom ok, animal porn not ok.” Let’s see there’s always “Alcoholic beverages ok, no puking on me personally.” Seriously, how can any computer survey deal with, “I’m looking for somebody weird like me who’d think I was way cool and who is way cool too in the same weirdo way?”

This looks like a job for prayer not computers. Computers are only as good as the nut job programming them. Trust me, these are not the people you want matchmaking for you. If the computer can’t know, and I don’t know then the phrase “Only God knows”comes into play. This is when I turn it over to God. God knows exactly what I need, knows what will bring happiness, and knows exactly how to work things. He's already said to "ask and it shall be answered". The answer can be a yes, a no, or a slow. He sent me a Mercedes CLS550 AMG this morning. I know he's got to have something fabulous cooking on this front too.

What do I want in a relationship?

I've already said I don’t know the answer to put into the universal rah-rah wish machine. I've also said I was a gentlewoman of faith.