Friday, May 28, 2004

Day two of work wasn't so bad.

Yes. Yes it was.

An insurance company is the very antithesis of what I am. I am not organized. I am not reliable. I don't even like to sit down.

I do not plan for the future; take preventive measures for my well-being.

I don't even count very well.

But the work is mind-numblingly easy and the atmosphere is extremely laid-back. Today, we had a TWO HOUR lunch break because it was the birthday of some higher-up. I used 30 minutes of that time to drive home, 25 to eat, 34 for a nap, and the last 30 to drive back to work.

Wait...30+25+34+30...there is a minute unaccounted for. I probably used that one up undressing and dressing. Yes, I can change very quickly. Thank you, military training.

But I really needed the nap. Day-walking is still pretty rough on me. I've been averaging 3 and 1/2 hours of sleep. It leaves me pretty out of it. Hell, I shouldn't even be driving.

But the work is easy.

It occurred to me that even a very young chimp could do my job. It occurred to me that I had nothing to do for a few minutes, so I may as well write a little.

This should give some example of what I produce when I'm chained to a desk.

Mail Monkey

Orientation Lady: Attention everyone! I'd like you to meet our newest employee. His name is Gooey and he is a 14-month old chimpanzee from western Africa.

Everyone: Hi, Gooey!

Gooey: Ook! Ook!

O-Lady: Now Gooey, here's what you need to do. Gooey, Gooey, look at me...Gooey! Okay, now what you're going to do is sort this big stack of papers into smaller stacks.

Gooey: Ook ook?

O-Lady: Right. Then, you're going to put cover sheets on those stacks. Then, you're going to put them back into one big stack again.

Gooey: Ook ook.

O-Lady: Very good!

Gooey: Ow! Shit!

O-Lady: Oh, and watch out for those staples!

Gooey: Ook.

* * * *

I Am...Mail Boy!

Paper clips. Staples. Rubber bands. White-out. These are my weapons against the endless onslaught of envelopes. "I am...Mail Boy!"

"Yes, Mail B!" An evil cackle signals the arrival of...

"Gasp! My arch-nemesis, Post-Man Shorty-Pants, come with another delivery of pure evil. You won't succeed, Post-Man! I'm guarding the drop-box. You won't be able to get any mail into my slot, no matter how hard you try! What? What's everybody looking at?"

Mail Noir

Then she walked in. I knew her type. Tall, blond, with quick, lithe hands that looked like they could have me opened, sorted, and filed before I'd even be able to release the drag I just took off my Pall-Mall cigarette.

"I'm sorry, there's no smoking in this building," she said coldly.

"Lady, I could tell you the same thing." I took another drag.

"Hmph. Yes, well, here is a box of mail. Sort it, please."

My eyes narrowed into slits that even an invoice couldn't get through. "Listen dame, I don't sort nothin' for nobody."

She blinked coolly. "Well, then why did you apply for this position?"

I flicked the butt of my cigarette over the cubicle wall. I ignored the muffled protest from the other side. "Let's not play these games." I leaned casually against the desk, putting my hand down to steady myself.

Suddenly, there was a whir, a click, and a

"What was that?" I asked questioningly.

"My automatic electric stapler," she answered respondently. "You put your hand on it, and it stapled it."

"Dames," I muttered as my vision began to swim. Always making a guy staple himself in the hand. Then, everything went black and I knew no more.

* * * *

Life In Saline

Beno and I were conversing and he brought up the fact that marine iguanas weep saline tears. It's how their bodies get rid of all the salt they absorb from being in the ocean.

That's all the exposition you get. Wait, maybe a little more...

[Two marine iguanas are basking on the rocky coast of the sea.]

Iguana Ben: Dude, are you all right?

Iguana Ed: Uh, yeah. Why?

Iguana Ben: You're crying.

Iguana Ed: Well yeah, I'm a marine iguana.

Iguana Ben: You know, we've been basking together on these rocks for years. Is it too much to ask that you learn to open up to me for once? Do you think I don't care about your feelings? Well, I do. Now tell me why you're crying.

Iguana Ed: It's my biology. I'm ridding my body of saline through my tear ducts.

Iguana Ben: Don't shut me out with your wall of "science." The only way we're going to get through this is with heart-felt communication.

Iguana Ed: 'Guana, please! I'm outta here; I'm gonna go eat some algae.

[Iguana Ed dives into the water.]

Iguana Ben [yelling after him]: You're always swimming off to eat algae! It may numb the pain for now but it won't do it forever! I just hope that when you finally admit that to yourself, it won't be too late. I'm not always going to be here, you know!

[Iguana Ed pops up out of the water with a mouthful of algae.]

Iguana Ed: (chew chew) Where are you gonna go? (gulp) This is an island.

[Iguana Ed dives back underwater.]


* * * *

I think that the only way I'm going to survive this job is by going a little crazy. Oh, well. There are worse things.

* * * *

Congratulations to everyone that graduated. My advice to you is: Pursue higher education.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some mail to see to.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

[Journal entry 5-26-04. 7:05 am.]

I'm about to go in for my first day of work. It isn't particularly difficult for me since I've just discovered what I'll be making every two weeks. I'm fonna be blingin'.

Still a lot of concern, confusion, and contension. But still plenty of hope. As Danny Queener might say, it's time to "git 'er done."

Let's do this.

[7:40 am]

Stole my thunder. I'm almost 20 minutes early. I should be ok. I have my notebook, a pen, a paperback copy of Good Omens, and a banana-nut bar. Send me to the trenches; I'm that prepared.

Although...I wonder what I'm going to have to do for lunch around here. Maybe they have their own cafeteria! That would be neat. I doubt it, though. Why would they? They're a large building, but hardly.

Plenty of new faces. Plenty of me wondering if these are people I'm going to meet, work with, befriend, or never see again.

I think I'm going to have to be careful.

The plan for today is to work.

[8:10 am]

Lobby music. An elevator music version of "Changes". IS-209 forms. I'm the only person I've seen around here with my shirt untucked. I feel like a rebel.

This is Hell. An easy-listening, khaki-and-polo Hell. There are huge windows. I can see a golf course. Very lush, with lots of trees, cool grass, and a plenty of big rocks to sit on. There is also a sand trap. My volleyball is in my car. Now, if I can just find a claims adjuster with a portable net, I'll be in business.

Maybe I'll be able to sneak out there on my break.

Oh God. They're talking about traffic. [Two employees.]

A new song! It sounds is! It's someone's rendition of U2's "With Or Without You" on an E-Z-Play guitar and a pan flute. Talk about whoring out your art. U2 is prostituting their music to lobbies across the globe. Wednesday, bloody Wednesday.

I'm just being whiny. I don't remember how to work.

[1:00 pm.]

They do have a cafeteria!

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Romantic Gurg: Do not despair, ze love, she conquers all.

Comedic Gurg: No dice, Mustard Tummy. In this world, timing is everything.

Romantic Gurg: You shall see, everzing will work out in ze end.

Realistic Gurg: Must I really point out that we're still here in Arizona?

Real Gurg: Hey, hi guys! What's everybody talking about?

Romantic Gurg: Nothing.

Comedic Gurg: Nothing.

Realistic Gurg: Nothing.

Real Gurg: Good.

Monday, May 24, 2004

For Visual Learners Who Are Interested In Pictures From My Recent Trip To Rocky Point, Mexico:

Courtesy of Janell.

For Those Who Have Time To Kill And Thus Are Interested In Long, Rambling Journal Entries:

[Text contained in brackets is from this posting. Writing ends at the moment when everyone else finally arrived.]


Nervous. Excited. I feel as if I'm about to perform on stage for the last time. End of a good run? Perhaps.

Chance favors the prepared mind. Maybe chance will change its mind and favor me this time.

The flowers [that I brought for Angel] said "Freedom" [on a sticker]. I added "is a beautiful thing." Is anyone impressed? Art and Beauty. I don't think they always go hand in hand. Is there beauty in my small intestine? Maybe, if I ate part of a Picasso.

Here I sit in front of Island's Fine Burgers And Drinks. I was worried because I was 10 minutes late. Needlessly, it turns out, because the meal-time has been pushed back to 1 pm instead of the traditional noon.

The man in a brown uniform (distinguishing him as a postal worker) pushed a small, silver dolly loaded with parcels across the mottled concrete path..

Where am I now? I am planning to move to California at the end of the summer. I have found employment with Scottsdale Insurance. I will be a mail-clerk. I'm not sure what my duties are. I will be in an office. I will work diligently up until the moment I decide to hang myself with my necktie.

Ha ha.

Today is beautiful. Today is not for caring about time. Eh. Today is not for worrying about time, stressing about time, or lamenting the passing of time.

This day is for living. This moment is for living. This moment is for the warm sun on my freshly-shorn head and the breeze cooling me just as quickly as the summer's light and my own emotion can heat me up.

Everyone keeps looking at me. Or my roses. Or both. Although, they could be looking at the giant copper rabbit I'm sitting next to.

"Hey Beth," I had said when I had called her. "I just wanted to let you know that I'm already here. I'm sitting by the big rabbits." I think I'll sit here all day just so I can say that to anyone who calls. "What am I doing? OH, I'm just sitting here by the big rabbits. No, I'm the guy with the roses."

The rock I'm sitting on is starting to hurt my butt. I found a comfortable niche, a nice groove, but I have to pull up a knee to write on. I haven't been able to convince anyone walking by to let me use their knee, so I'm forced to use my own. For now.

"You there! Sir! With the knee! May I borrow you for a moment? No, I don't want any spare change, I just want one of your knees. Sir? Come back, sir, hear me out! ...Why hello, Madame! A word, please..."

The life a knee panhandler is rough. I'll bet that if Tom Cruise or Angelina Jolie wanted to write on someone's knee, they could. It must be nice.

Want to know what else is nice? Being a glorious failure. Er, I don't know if I'm glorious or not, but I certainly know I'm not a success.

It is nice. I know that because it isn't one of the many terrible things that it is possible to be. I'm no Jimmy Corrigan. That would be terrible. Or at least very, very stressful.

Sweet! I was just called by Jake and I got to use my rabbit line. Jake frequents Mill Avenue so he knew what I meant.

I remember never wanting to be unique. I never wanted to be pinned down by my character traits. I had no desire to be described as "funny", "smart", "moody", "creative", "cold-hearted", "cynical", "loving", "emotionless", "naive", or "video games". I wanted to be capable of being all those things, to put on traits and abilities the way an actor dons a wig.

But now I'm sitting on a rock next to a fountain and a clutch(?) brace(?) warren(?) [herd] of enormous metal rabbits. Next to me on the rock are a dozen red roses. My stomach is growly and my palms are sweaty and I'm biting my lip as I think of the next word and my sunglasses are so dark that none can see my eyes but I can see them.

An observer. A fellow player in the game of life whom the coach instructed to hit the bench and pay attention to how real people play this game.

"C'mon, coach, put me in! I can do it. The team needs me!" I am told that there is no "Gurg" in "Team" and to pipe down before I get whipped with a wet towel.

"But Coach! OW!"

I said "What's up?" to a guy who came to check out my rabbit. He ignored me. He probably noticed me looking at his knees. Some people are weird. When something happens and they don't expect it, they ignore it. As if their minds need to be prepped with possibility before leaving the house. People are weird.

"I see a bad moon rising."

Well, my brothers are on their way to Mexico. I hope they don't get into too much trouble. People think I'm nuts? Miguel is crazy. Avant-garde crazy. (Funny because he isn't funny.) Donaldo will say whatever is on his mind. I am really the least interesting one of the drinking brothers. Luis didn't go.

It's tempting to lie to myself in this journal. If I still have it in ten years, I'll read through it and find:

"Angel confessed her love to me and how she never wanted to leave my side...for very long."

I'll show this to Angel then and she'll laugh. "That's cute," she'll say, "but it was you who said that to me."

I'll wave my book wildly and shout "The book never lies!" Then I'll run out, find a big, black, permanent marker and write "THIS BOOK NEVER LIES" on the cover. Then, no one can argue with it.

I'm still here by my rabbit. He's a good guy. Quiet. Stoic. Relaxed. Doesn't interrupt me when he sees that I'm writing. If I still had that giant metal carrot, I would give it to him. "Hey, you never had a giant metal carrot!"

Please allow me to refer you to the cover of this book, my dear.

"Just passing through," she sings. "Just being lovely and passing through. Just singing and being lovely and passing through." I strain to listen as our distance grows, hoping the next verse will be an invitation.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Maybe a big picture. A little picture, probably less.

Then again, people might do nothing because they prefer to watch, to be entertained. Much less risk than playing the game, having to train for it, getting sweaty or bruised. Fear pain! Why not, you have to fear something.

"Pain!" is what our body screams when something isn't going as expected, as hoped.

My "y" looks like a renegade "s", slipping away down the page. Looking for a fresh start, a new life on a new line.

Describe a light pole!

Tall, green.

Terrible! Do it again.

An iron willow with an olive helmet, light shining out below like a soldier's fear.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Finished With School? Here Is A Homework Assignment To Help Wean You Into The Summer:

The assignment is very simple. If you have a good memory, it doesn't even require a pen and paper.

You assignment is to count how many times you hear or see the word "Angel" in a 24-hour period.

(Helpful Hint: Turn on a radio.)

The word will probably appear many more times than you expected. I know it has for me.

Well, in my case, "Angel" is not a word. It is a name. It is her name.

There is a short story by Ray Bradbury that I must have read years ago. I remember it very well.

In the story, a young boy's father is a "spaceman". The boy and his mother live quietly on Earth while his father goes off on very long, incredibly dangerous missions through the stars.

This is particularly difficult on the mother. She spends her days trying to forget she even has a husband because of how greatly she misses him.

She explains this behavior to her son. She also tells the boy that she knows that if the father is killed in space, she will not be able to look at the night sky. If he is killed on Orion, every time she sees that star she will be reminded of his death. If he is killed on Sirius, every upward glance at it will bring terrible visions of the man she loves burning away into nothing.

In the end, the father's spaceship falls into the Sun.

The mother and child spend their days in darkness. Heavy blinds on the windows keep out every beam of sunlight. They tend the garden at night, go out for walks, to the park, all at night.

A lifetime in darkness; in fear of the past.

Myself, I don't need to do anything radical. I'm already nocturnal. Besides, the Sun isn't my problem. (Except when he's being a prick.)

Angel went to Chicago. And I can't see Chicago from here. Hold on, let me go and try standing on the roof.


So I don't have to worry about seeing Chicago, I guess. I just have to worry about what I hear.

When I hear the name Angel, it tugs at the corners of my lips until I relent and smile. Other times, the name hits me like a blow to the chest.

Sometimes it's both.

Maybe I should just get earplugs or something.

Eh, you don't have to log your emotional reactions for the assignment. You only have to count.

Oh, but you get Extra Credit for the strangest occurrence of the word/name.

It'll have to beat this one, though:

The Wednesday morning before I left for Lake Roosevelt, I was up at 7:30 am. My phone rings. It's a number I don't recognize. Curious as to who might be calling me at this ungodly hour, I answer. "Y'ello?"

The voice of an elderly lady quavers out, "Is Angel there?"

"Excuse me?" This has to be a joke. I know Angel can do some pretty impressive accents, but I didn't think she was going on the trip.

"Is Angel there? This is the number he gave me."

"He? No, I don't know anyone by that name. Er, any males by that name."

"Oh, okay. Sorry about that." She hangs up.

I look down at my cell phone, then I look around. I'm waiting for the theme from The Twilight Zone to start playing.

So that's my weirdest one. Beat that story, or at least fabricate an entertaining lie beating that one and I'll give you a Gold Star.

If you think you deserve a Gold Star, give a holler. Er, you'd better wave. I probably won't hear you shouting if my earplugs are in.