Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Job drives a bus

Job spent a last few moments digging the most visible crust out of his nose, then reached across and pull the lever that closed the bus door towards him. It was 7 a.m., still dark at this time of year.

He pulled out of the motor pool and on to the deserted road, which would be filled with minivans and dark SUVs within the hour. The smell of the exhaust had long since settled into his sinuses, and he grabbed the big steering wheel hand over hand and guided it across the small bridge and up the hill to the neighborhood of newly built houses, where children dressed in everything from snowpants to flipflops chased each other around street signs and ignored the younger kids.

Junior high. What a horrible, awkward, hell of an age. Too young to have a healthy respect of the world, too old to have any earnestness left. The boys smelled bad, the girls seemed to ooze with self-hatred and a sexuality that fit like a too-big training bra. Hell of an age.

At the first stop an eighth grader wearing a red hat with earflaps and no coat half-lurched up the bus stairs and down the aisle. A couple of seventh-grade girls followed at a safe distance, sitting near the front of the bus. They huddled together in the seat without saying a word.

The bus pitched forward onto the next stop. Job reminded himself to enjoy the current solitude, because come this afternoon, his head would be pounding with false bravado, cusswords and shrieks. Lots and lots of shrieks as girls waved their arms wildly in attempts to retrieve their belongings from the boys, and shrieks as boys guarded their crotches against the feet and knees of the girls. What a ridiculous mating ritural.

Steam was rising from the sewers as the bus rumbled past the hulking shells of new mansions being built on nearly every street. Mounds of dirt stood as sentries, while construction crews huddled with fast-food coffee in their hands in the sandy lots. One of these houses had been burned down a month ago, before it even got built. From what he read in the paper, Job was pretty sure the culprit was a teenager. Who else would bother?

More pre-teens in sullen bodies boarded the bus at each stop, and Job's disgust grew with each push of the gas. Dull, overweight, ambitionless beings that cared only for the insignificant rubbish that was pumped to them through their cable tv or high-speed internet computer. Their dimwitted manner nearly undid Job.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Been a long time gone...

Okay, the vacation to Nashville is over with (it was a dream -- clean house! good booze! my parents taking care of the kids!), I've just completed my second day at my new job, and now I'm back. For a short time. I'm writing from home now instead of work, and it takes a lot more effort.

The new job just feels so right. Already I've done a good deal of writing, with a ton more coming down the pipeline. I wish I had an iPod to listen to while I was writing, but then again, I've never been the type of person who could concentrate while music was playing.* I even got a call from Meijer Gardens yesterday, and today, with them wanting to interview me. I wish they had called sooner, I would've liked to have found out more about the job, but I'm very confident this new company is the exact right place for me to be.

Slowly, I'm implementing Getting Things Done. I've heard the whole culture that's risen up from this system called "productivity porn" and that feels like the right description. Here's an article about how in Britain the NDP Press Secretary uses the system. Read and learn.

Tonight, I've promised Joseph a good boning. He deserves it, after not getting any since last weekend. Don't get me wrong, I know he can wait for me to catch up to the mood, but I'm feeling particularly...generous today. Don't ask me why, maybe it's the new job.

*god knows I tried

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Princess Chicken

I lay in bed this morning, listening to the baby gurgle and yelp and laugh, and I went through the usual feeling of dreading work, like the bottom of the tilt-a-whirl dropping out. Except this time I stopped myself, and smiled up at the cracks and spiderwebs. My second-to-last day. Relief.

For lunch I requested my "boss" take me to our favorite Chinese place, Yen-Ching, which we've pretty much abandoned since I've lost 25 lbs. over three months. (There really is no such thing as healthy Chinese food, even white rice is bad for you.) The restaurant is dark, with gilded molding running along every wall and corner while wild-eyed dragons dance in framed fabric art. Always, always there is a small old man who greets you with a wide smile and a sharp bow. He's the owner, you know from all the newspaper clippings hanging on the walls of the elaborate lobby. Newspaper clippings detailing how much he has given to Sept. 11 victims, or how he struggled to launch his business after immigrating from China. I always bow back, feeling both silly and proud at the same time. Hey, I once lived in Asia...

We brought along the third member of our social quartet (the fourth had an advanced Excel course), but it wasn't the same. Used to be we'd come to Yen Ching and gossip and complain and indulge but since I'm leaving, I just don't care anymore. My Princess Chicken tasted bland. I ate more than I would have to compensate for the tastelessness. However, I did find myself wanting another fortune cookie, the coconutty taste lingering in my mouth for longer than usual. But then it was over, and we went back to the office, and I spent the rest of the afternoon obsessing about how to implement GTD at my new job. I'm hoping it's going to change my life, like BFL did.

God, all these acronyms, it's like I'm back in the Army.

Monday, April 11, 2005


I wasn't always a runner. In my Army days, I was the slow girl running 20 feet behind the formation, huffing and shuffling and looking like I was going to fall dead in the road within the next five strides. I failed the run portion of my PT test more times than I care to remember. I hated running like I hated the dentist.

But now I see it as an activity that is all mine. I run for me; not because it makes me size 8 jeans-ready, or so I can load up on beer and pizza on the weekends without feeling guilty, but because I am a warrior when I run. I am Darryl Hannah in Clan of the Cave Bear (crappy movie but you get the idea). No kids, no husband, no boss. ME. Kicking butt. Pushing my limits. It reminds me of who I really am: awesome, capable, apocolypse-ready woman.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Taxman Cometh...

I'm such a jerk, every year I say I'm going to get my taxes done early, and then I don't. Two years ago, we filled out our tax forms at work all wrong, and ended up OWEING a bunch of money to the IRS, the most horrible thing ever. So, I re-did all our forms, confident we'd get a modest check in the spring (don't want it too big, that's loaning the government out money, says my dad).

Except Joseph did a bunch of freelance work this year, and we spent every last dime that he brought home. That big whooshing sound is our tax refund being sucked down the drain from the taxes we didn't pay on that income.

So, as a loyal employee I'm spending my last days at this job doing my taxes online, except I'm having problems getting all the information I need, like how much interest we paid on our student loans. I keep checking my email for the pin #s I need to log on to the Direct Loans page, but NOTHIN'. Stupid hotmail.

As a result, I'll spend a few moments studying on the lameness of being 29 and asking my parents for money. Hey, they offered! And our last $200 is going to childcare, leaving us with $45 to fill our gas tanks up. *SIGH*

It feels like this will never end. Like we will be paying hundreds of dollars a year in bank fees for the rest of our lives because we're such money morons. Which really, we're not. We drive modest cars and don't go out to eat more than once a week, never go to movies or the bar, man, we should be like those old people who never indulge in anything and have giant savings accounts. Except we aren't.

I keep looking for something to blame, whether it's our house in a too-nice neighborhood, or the exorbitant cost of childcare. When we do our budget, we always have a ton of money left over, on paper, but it never works. Blah. Repeat after me: "We have our health. Our kids are well-behaved. The sex is..." oh, never mind.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

End of times?

Is this site a sign that the youth of today are going to destroy the world? God, this is terrible. Why do kids write this way? It's like those girl-women who wear low-rider jeans with their skin spilling out over the top like a disgusting backfat ice cream cone -- do they KNOW how awful they come across as?

And more importantly, where the hell are their mothers?

Cheer Up, Baby

This morning's drive to work was filled with thoughts of how to cheer my husband up. We're broke, which isn't a new situation, but usually there's an end in sight. Today, we're staring down the deep, dark well of financial despair.

He's ready to jump down the well; me, I ran two miles this morning which allows me to "let go" of things I would otherwise obsess about. I've tried the usual happy thought generators: we have great kids, no one has cancer, we're in no danger of losing any major property. But alas, today it's been for naught. So, I'm thinking of calling him and telling him:

  1. "I think we should hammer a homemade "For Sale" sign in our front yard, pawn all our belongings, load up the kids in the car and head for Oregon. We've got friends there, plus it's near the ocean."
  2. "When you get home from work today, I'm going to corral the kids in their respective rooms, strip down naked, and jump up and down on you in all matter of positions for four hours straight." (He's on some medication for his back that makes this very possible.)

I think #2 will have the intended affect.

Speaking of nakedness, I'd love to get naked with this guy, figuratively. Former Army PR guy with a sharp wit and a certain casualness that reminds me of the guys I used to whirl around with in my younger days. Even imagining just a slow kiss makes me smile.

And today, I need to smile.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Today is my dad's 55th birthday, which means he was twenty five when I was born. I wonder what he felt when my mom gave birth to me. Certainly excitement, as I was their first child. Although 25 hardly seems old, my parents waited pretty late in life to have kids, compared to their friends. So when I came along, then my brother 22 months later, they were pretty well established. Both had college degrees, owned their own house and worked at promising careers. Lucky them.

Their story is a major contrast to the way Joseph and I have founded our little family unit. Eloping at 19 (after our wedding was cancelled due to my upcoming transfer to Korea), pregnant at 21, both of us attending college while Grace was in diapers. We were so, SO broke that at one point, I went down to the WIC (Women, Infants & Children) office to apply for assistance. I remember dressing Grace in her nicest clothes (Tommy Hilfiger bought by my grandfather's wife), me in my most classy and professional dress pants and sweater, hair neatly styled. After all the paperwork and rude social workers, I firmly promised myself I would never apply for government assistance again.

We're still broke, but at least we have our own house now. And I don't have to stay up all night listening for the repo man to come tow away our car*. I really try and keep my wants/needs lists very separate, and for the most part I think do a great job. But when you really need a new pair of pants, and you don't have even $20 to spend on a pair of pants, you really start to feel like the world's biggest loser.

Enough beating myself up. I'm leaving my job! One week down, one to go! Today I threw out a ton of files that have been rotting at my desk since before I started working here. Liberation! Out, you damn 1997 picnic survey! Hit the road, 1993 holiday gift orders!

I was clicking through blogger yesterday using the "Next Blog" button, hoping to stumble across something wonderful, when I came across something, if not wonderful, then at least moderately interesting. A Canadian teaching English in South Korea. Her kitchen looked just like my old Korean kitchen, but a little bigger.

That's it. There's my bloggage for the day. Read and be merry.

*What was I going to do? Run out and throw myself over the hood?