Making the Most of What We Have

It’s Sunday, August 26th, 2007. The month is nearly over, and I don’t have the money for rent, let alone the bills that are also due. I’m selling my speakers, which would get me back flush for the moment, and I’m selling some stock, which should get me back to a manageable position. Neither of which has been going well. I’ve had one nibble on the speakers, dunno if I’ll be able to turn it into a full bite or not, and it’s fast approaching out of time. The stocks are doubly frustrating — they have a restriction on them, which means that my broker won’t touch them, so I need to call the transfer agent for the stocks and have them reissued, which shouldn’t be a problem except that a) there may be a few associated with the reissue, which I can’t afford; and b) the transfer agent is only open when I’m at work, so I need to find the time to call, verify what I need to do, then do it, and wait however long it takes for them to reissue, before I can even begin to sell them.

People deal with worse — it can always get worse — on a daily basis. I’m not being shot at, and at least for now, I still have a roof over my head, and a job. The job is a contract that may end any time, and will likely end within the next two months, leaving me a tentative 2 month period to find better work. I hate to say it, but the military is starting to sound more and more viable. Given the quirky heart and issues with depression, it’s a question whether they’d take me anyway.

One thought: a storage unit is cheaper than an apartment… close out my apartment, put everything back in storage, and live in my car for a while. Work has a deal with 24 Hour Fitness for cheap memberships, so I could shower and change there. I recall my friend Dan telling me about being in the Bay area during the boom, and seeing a lot of RV’s and vans parked out in front of health clubs for precisely this reason. There are coffee shops and restaurants and libraries with free wireless, so I wouldn’t even lose connectivity. What few bills I’d have left could be moved to entirely paperless billing, since I’m already paying them online.

It would certainly be different. And it would open me up to new experiences, and a flexibility in location that I’ve been missing. If I did that along with selling the stock to pay off most of my debtload, I could get back to being debt free in a relatively short period. It’s not an ideal solution, of course. There are a lot of problems with it, a lot of dangers, and it doesn’t deal with the possibility that my job won’t exist in a few months.

So, I’m sitting in Zoka, eating some cherry and marionberry pie and drinking a cup of split sweet/spicy chai, and thinking about what to do, what steps I can take to move forward in my life, to get happy (or at the very least, to get un-depressed), to get to a point where I at least have some semblance of control over my own life. These are things I’ve found notably lacking of late.

I have no conclusions, no new revelations, just a few ideas, none of which are all that appealing, none of which have much in the way of futureproofing. Instead, I’m left with quotes from Fight Club running through my head. “It’s only when we lose everything that we can gain anything.” “Congratulations, you’re one step closer to hitting bottom.” “I will drag you through kicking and screaming, and in the end, you will thank me.”

We Might Just Break, Can You Hear Us Trying?

I had a good roll going for a few months with the blogging, but I seem to have slipped back to sporadic again. In fairness, things have been stressful and in fashions that don’t really involve progress or anything that merits talking about. I’ve been working a lot, though I’m still going to need to take some drastic measures to get back out of this hole I’m in, which leaves me a little frustrated.

Last week, Mickey and I went and watched Stardust — it was a jolly good time, though I will say don’t go watch it right after reading the book: it keeps the flavor and mood of the book, but there are definitely some changes. There was an incredibly cute girl sitting near us playing Six Degrees with one of her friends while we all waited for the movie to start, but I didn’t have to nerve to strike up a conversation and ask her name. Alas.

I took today off from work to go deal with my traffic ticket that I’d previously mentioned. Funny story about that: turns out the court date was tomorrow and I’d screwed up my dates, and didn’t realize it until I was already down there. Went in and explain the situation, and they managed to work me onto today’s docket, so I wouldn’t have to miss a second day of work and drive two hours each way again. The end result of the whole affair is that the speeding infraction was thrown out entirely for being ridiculous (I’m sorry, in moderate to heavy traffic, you are NOT going to be able to positively identify a specific car from over a mile out, regardless of whether or not your laser detector can take a reading that far away), and the “failure to pull to the right” was mitigated to a mere (!) $500 (down from $1168), which I’ll be paying in installments over the next six months. So yeah, it would have been nice if I’d managed to get both thrown out, but the whole process could have gone a LOT worse.

I’m looking forward to the day that I’m not scrambling for cash so much. Hopefully that’ll be soon.

(Today’s title is taken from “Human Being” by The Beta Band.)

Grr, Argh… mostly Grr.

Fucking check

Forgive the lack of posts the past few days, things have been keeping me busy (working overtime this weekend, probably next weekend as well). Right now, I just need to share something. I got my paycheck in the mail today, covering my partial week from when I was coming back from vacation. I worked two days… this is my paycheck:

Yes, that’s right, $0.00. It seems that I’m apparently still doing double duty on my benefits (they take out a month’s worth of benefits in advance to cover the month after you leave work), and then both the benefits advance and the normal benefits were doubled again to cover the week I was gone on vacation. After that and taxes, it came to $.58. Which they apparently decided not to issue in the check. You can be damned sure I’ll be looking for that extra $.58 next week.

Seattlite Once More

I’m back in Seattle finally, sitting in Zoka, drinking an iced chai, and listening as they play Andrew Bird’s Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs, an excellent album if I say so myself. Before I get into the “backness” of things, let me fill in a bit since when I departed.

I flew out Friday the 20th in the evening after a full day of work, tried to nap on the plane (with “plane dozing” about the sum of it), got into Philadelphia in the morning, and then had a speedy flight up from Philly to Manchester, where Dad picked me up, and we proceeded directly to Squam, where Mom and Freya already were. We all caught up a fair bit, and I filled them in on what’s been happening in my life, some of which simply doesn’t translate to text, public or private: there is the strain and timbre of the voice that carries a weight that is hard to convey with the same ease in written form. I am an ardent supporter of using the myriad forms of written communication to talk and discuss and communicate, but I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes it takes a face to face and voice to voice to get the right message across.

Uri didn’t show up until late that night, having had a late start in the morning driving up from DC due to getting his car serviced (a prudent decision, as much as the delay sucked). Finally meandered to bed around 3am for my first real sleep in two days (and my first sleep in an actual bed, not a futon, in months). Sunday brought JJ into the fold for a few days, and Mike and Mariah showed up for the day (with a 3 month old min-pin named Jack in tow), along with more catching up and chatting and, of course, finishing the final Harry Potter, which I managed to convince Mom to let me read first since I was only in town for a week. No spoilers or anything, but I did want to say that I thought it was a nice wrap up of the series — I really feel like she brought the arc to a good close, without leaving lots of things dangling. So, kudos to you, Ms. Rowling.

Monday involved swimming and relaxing and chatting, with the addition of Dave and Margot and their daughter Leah, who came out for the day. It was great to see them, and Leah was adorable and precocious (it occurs to me that some day a dozen years from now, Leah will be googling for her name and may come across this, and not even remember it, but it’s true: you were adorable when you were three years old, already counting and spelling and asking questions and learning how things worked. We rarely think about longevity in what we put out on the internet… maybe we should more often.)

JJ headed out Tuesday, and the rest of the week was basically just the family. I got to spend some quality time with my dog Freya, who lives with my parents (and is fiercely devoted to my mother, though she likes the rest of us well enough). She’s definitely my dog, though: dogs really do seem to imprint something from their owners, and a number of her tendencies definitely mimic those of Mickey, myself, and my parents. In particular, she seems to have my habit in liking to play and socialize, and then after go hang out somewhere quiet and private and safe to refresh. (There were several dogs throughout the week… the folks in the houses on either side of us had dogs, there was Jack the min-pin, and Dave and Margot’s dog India, whom she played with non-stop ALL DAY.) It was great to go swimming every day, get a little sun (light burn that is already faded, leaving just a slightest hint of more color than usual), reading, writing (not the kind of writing you’re thinking: I finished a new area that I’d been puttering on for Avatar for the past 5 years… I’d started it at the same time as the last area I wrote and put in, which took a few years and was put in two years ago… yeah), and just in general chillax. Didn’t worry about food or work or money for at least a little bit, and that was a nice break, above and beyond the fact that I got to see friends and family.

Friday night, we packed up and headed back to the Upper Valley, where I managed to catch up with Eli and even ran into Annah from high school, who was apparently part of a bachelorette party that night. It was great to catch up with her a bit — she’s looking great, and her husband sounds like an interesting fellow (a photographer, currently off in China for a few months). Hopefully we’ll keep in touch a bit. The next day was sort of a dud… Uri and I went out, but no one was around… and I mean no one. Called everyone we could and no responses. Did, however, get ahold of Chris, and arranged to do coffee with him and Gloria the next day, which was excellent.

After doing coffee with Chris and Gloria (which involved next to no actual coffee, it was mostly just a gab session, but that’s sort of why I call it “doing coffee” rather than getting a cup of coffee — the coffee is irrelevant other than as a mechanism to bring people together, like “doing lunch”), Uri and I were chased by a crazy guy who kept on trying to convince us to give him a ride and who knows what else (his voice kept on undulating between semi-coherence and mumbling). We managed to get away, went and did dinner with Mom and Dad, and then headed south to Eli’s house, where we caught up with a slew of people. I managed to get ahold of Bethany and convinced her to come down as well. It was great to see her and talk a bit — I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that I used to have a crush on her (and I am of the opinion that crushes do not go away, they simply go dormant), so I suppose it goes without saying that I enjoy her company greatly.

Uri took off Monday morning, and plans to get picked up fell through, so I ended up spending the evening at home, which was fine. Tuesday involved lunch at the Orient with Mom and Dad and Eli, and then departing for the airport. Mom and Dad saw me to the airport, fond farewells and all that… and then the fun began.

It seems that the flight coming from Cincinnati that was to take me down to Atlanta to catch my plane to Seattle had not yet arrived. In fact, it hadn’t even lifted off. Mechanical trouble. The expected departure time kept on creeping forward in increments of 15, until they finally confirmed “yes, it has lifted off, we WILL be taking off at 8:45”. (It was supposed to take off at 5:36). Needless to say, I missed my connecting flight by just under 3 hours, getting into the airport around midnight. Delta set us up with hotels and rescheduled our flights, and about half the plane trudged off grumpily to various hotels around Atlanta to catch what sleep they could.

Got checked in to the hotel a little before 1, and was asleep not long after, sleeping fitfully for the 3-4 hours I had before I needed to be up and hopping BACK onto the shuttle to the airport. Got to my gate, checked in, got my seat, and tried to doze in the seats by the gate waiting for the flight. Of course, there was a small problem: so many people had been shunted around due to not one but TWO overly delayed flights the previous night that the morning flight was overbooked, heavily. They started offering $400 and an upgrade to first class to those willing to wait until 6:30pm, when room really opened up.

I really wish I could have afforded to take that, since that’s $400 towards any flight, anywhere, anytime in the next year (it’s not frequent flier points, it’s more like a gift certificate). That’s a trip back east, say, next year, when we’re having a family reunion. I couldn’t justify it, however: I had already missed one extra day of work due to this snafu, and it being the first, my rent was due, which meant I needed to get home in time to actually a) pay it, and b) deposit the paychecks that had arrived while I was gone so I COULD pay it — i.e. during business hours. However, they did also offer $200 dollars and confirmed seating for the next flight out (about an hour and a half later, which would put me in at noon instead of 11… don’t ask me how they shave a half hour off these things). THAT, I took, which means I now have $200 towards any flight Delta will fly for the next year… domestic, international, whenever, whatever. Given that I have a court date for that ridiculous speeding ticket the Monday following the Morison trustee meeting, I STILL can’t make it to that (nor would it cover it all… a good rate for a round trip ticket from Seattle to New England is ranging in the $350-450 range, assuming you have time to wait for a deal, which I don’t). That said, it almost exactly covers the cost of flying round trip to Los Angeles or the Bay Area, and given I have friends in both areas I would like to visit, as well as potential job prospects in both areas, having this little nest egg dedicated to air travel is NICE. It means I can afford to fly down if an opportunity presents itself, and see people to boot (or vice versa, but the miser in me says I really should try and make it do double duty if I can).

Got in, paid for my car parking (11 days is painful! But it would have been worse parking at the airport… hopefully next time I’ll be able to impose on a friend for the inconvenience of dropping me off and picking me up), and made it home by 2, not only in one piece, but with my luggage to boot! It managed to make it onto the morning flight that I passed up, which meant it was waiting for me when I got in, with no real issues other than some fretting while still on the plane. Showered, deposited pay checks, paid rent, and was asleep by 8. Good to be home.