Monday, July 23, 2007

18 years ago

18 years ago today, I was a frustrated, heartbroken young man. I had just broken up with my girlfriend, and I was really depressed. She was the first girl I ever used the L word with, and boy did we have plans.

This, of course, was before I adopted the Beatles' philosophy:
It's a love that lasts forever/It's a love that has no past

But this isn't even close to the point of the story.

Back then, I had decided I needed a job. I needed a steady income source, and I needed to fill up my suddenly very much free time. I had spoken with people at an office where my dad had some significant influence, and was told that the manager who was in charge of hiring was on his honeymoon, so I wouldn't hear anything for at least a couple weeks. 'Great, more spare time' I thought to myself. I went back to being a depressed and lonely young man.

One Sunday morning, say the 23rd of July, 1989, I was sleeping, as I used to do, when the phone rang. My mother came and woke me up, which was largely an unpopular move with me. "Your father wants to speak with you." I awoke barely enough to say hi.

"Get dressed and have your mother drop you off here."

"Where are you?"

"I'm at [soulless company that stole my youth] and they're short today. They need you to come in and help out."


"And dress nice."


"And hurry."


I hurried into the shower. I hurried into some clothes. My mom hurried me to the office, and so began my 10-year career at [soulless company that stole my youth]. By the time I was finished, I had held 4 titles based in 3 different cities, including a stint in the corporate offices. I traveled extensively throughout the Midwest and logged quite a few miles between Chicago and New York City. At the peak of my career, I was making more money than I ever had before or since.

Well, save for last year, and get this- I only worked for 7 months last year. Didn't I tell you it was a big severance package? Imagine if I had accepted this offer.

How am I marking this illustrious and somehow painful anniversary?

I'm not.

I know- such a rebel.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Oh, and a Vonnegut Project update

I'm 38 days into the Vonnegut Project. Here's what the big spreadsheet looks like these days:

I'm having a lot of fun with this, although I'm noticing a lot of similarities in his early works. I'll report more later.

There is too much... let me sum up

There's been a crazy couple of weeks in my life. I won't lie to you, it has been fun. Let me try to debrief y'all as best I can.

First off, my typing is extremely hampered by a finger injury. We were playing softball on Monday and I happened to catch a ball, throw it to the pitcher and head back to my position at 3rd base, when I looked down and saw something like this:
In case you haven't picked it out, my middle finger, once bent, does not straighten back up. It makes for an interesting party trick, but also makes using said finger, well, not really painful, but definitely inconvenient.

And yes, I am planning on going to the doctor, but not today. Maybe tomorrow.

A second, rather interesting story is that I finally met the Assassin's father. We had been avoiding this for some time, as we figured the Muslim father probably wouldn't appreciate the white, atheist boyfriend with the shaved head and penchant for, well, let's say things father's don't like.

We loaded up the Assassin, her sister, and myself into the Assassin's Champagne Monster, her massive Toyota 4Runner, and we headed south. Very south. Like 159th street- some 199 city blocks from my street. We were heading to a family barbecue, so we packed extra hunger. One thing I learned about their family- they sure love to eat. Second thing I learned- they think I haven't had Pakistani food before. Third thing- her aunt makes the best Biryani I've had yet.

The Assassin's father has a firm, friendly handshake. He gave me one, and patted me on the shoulder as he invited me into his house. The inside exploded with the smell of great food, so we had appetizers and pico de gallo. One was made by him, the other by his wife. He made me try both. I answered completely honestly when I told him I liked his better- then I told him about how much I love garlic. The main course wasn't served until much later- after I met more cousins than I have (and nowhere near all of them). We ate plentifully. We talked at length.

In the end, her dad was interested in my cycling hobby- he's thinking about getting another bike, but doesn't want to go into the bike shop because he's intimidated. I told him I'd go anytime. He likes the fact that I raise money for MS. He likes the fact that I'm the new voicemail voice of my company. He even make me play it for him, then asked me if I'd be willing to record his voicemail system.

How could I say no?

At the end of the night, he gave me another warm, friendly handshake. And a fatherly chuck on the shoulder. On the whole, I think things went rather well. I even liked him a lot- he was fun and jovial, even self-defacing at times. I got a kick out of it.

Recently, I had a chance to take a couple walks down memory lanes- visiting places I haven't been in literally years. One of the places served me well by giving me bowling shoes than can only be described as day-glow clown shoes. We proceeded to visit various bars around the legendary bowling alley before I started getting uncomfortable, and worse, recognized. We high-tailed it out of there, and went for some Karaoke, my first time going in more than a month.

I miss karaoke.

I have another amazing, silly, reckless story that involves my friend from this story, three states, and this picture:

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Vonnegut Project Update

Step 1: Buy, Buy, Buy

I don't spend a huge percentage of my budget on books, but I am certainly no stranger to a bookstore, or to an online bookstore. One of the nicest part of commuting downtown is I can do my Sukoku and crossword in the morning and usually finish before I get to work, and then read on the way home. It makes for a happy Dave. One of the first projects I had to undertake was completing my Vonnegut collection. I discovered that I was missing 6 rbooks, three of which I picked up while I was shopping for a belated birthday present for my father. Three others I had to buy online, as they did not seem to be available in stores. They arrived last week, so my collection now looks a little something like this:

Step 2: Read, Read, Read.
As you can see from the above list, I have just over 5,900 pages of Vonnegut to read, of which, I have completed about 600. These 600 haven't gone by too quickly, but once I get into certain other books, they'll fly by. I started this project on June 11, and in the following 27 days, I've only finished one book, but I'm close to finishing number two.

So far, I can say this. Player Piano is not one of my favorite books, but I can understand why. Vonnegut hadn't really found his own voice yet, and his style wasn't quite his. The ending isn't that great, and the story, at times, seems to drag, especially the sub-plot involving the sumklish-guzzling Shah of Bratpuhr. I understand how his character is essential to driving the point home, however, he's just so uninteresting to me.

The Siens of Titan, however, is one of my favorites, and I'm enjoying rereading it again. Each time I read this book, I think of another way I'd like to turn it into a movie. Of all his books, this would be the one I'd want to do first. Who knows, maybe after this project, I'll take a screen writing class or two and see what I can come up with.