T minus 6 hrs to take off

Approximately anyway.

For me one of the hardest things about air travel is all the waiting. I’m ready to roll but the flight doesn’t leave until 4:15 pm. So I’m sitting here trying to fill the time to keep my nerves on an even keel. So I’m watching TV — Just one of the Guys is on, one of the more unsung teen movies of the 80s; and before the the final episode of West Wing — and reading and posting to twitter and facebook every mundane action of mine, and txting my wife that I’m lonely and nervous and the house is too quiet.

And there’s still two hours before my cab arrives, which will put me at the airport approximately 3 hours before my flight takes off. Talk about being early, right. I’m a chronic early person but even I admit this is a bit much. Thing is I’m far more paranoid about something causing me to miss my flight. I do have to check in for the second leg of my trip, from SLC to Alaska, because I couldn’t do it online. Couldn’t choose my seat for the first leg of my flight, from Detroit to SLC. That just added to my anxiety.

But there’s very little to be done about it. I probably should have slept in this morning or come back and napped after dropping my daughter off at school this morning but I was too wound up. I could only manage to shut my eyes for about 15 minutes. Then I finished shoveling the driveway.

Now I’m blogging to pass some time but so far I’ve killed approximately 13 minutes. Ugh


Final countdown

Twenty-four hours from now I should be in the air, headed for SLC. Woo hoo!

This trip has lead to some changes in my life already. I’m dropping my Environmental Science course. I’ve already missed a couple of classes. I’ll miss two more. Way to far back to catch up. And truth is I regretted taking it almost from the beginning. I don’t know what I was thinking.

The class was cool, but every night I regretted missing writing time. I mean, how can I neglect my…three readers of this blog. I owe it them to blather on pointlessly. Right?

I’m pretty wired out, waiting to get this trip in motion, but I’ll be able to work off that energy shoveling snow tonight. Ugh!

Yokon ho! Yokon ho! It’s off to Alaska I go….

…48 hours from now I’ll be on a plan heading from SLC to Alaska. Flight from Detroit leaves at 4:15pm. I’ll be leaving early, early for the airport because I’m so paranoid about missing my flight. Not the kind of drama I care for. I’ll grab lunch at the airport, kick back with a book and relax. I’ll be doing the same in SLC, because the layover there is some 3 hours. Again, I don’t mind since it will give me more than ample time to navigate a strange airport. By then I’ll be read for some dinner, I’m sure.

The flight from SLC to AK will be much longer, but I’ve been informed that the plane is a 757 and as such slightly roomier than most other flights. Plus, each seat has it’s own TV screen and apparently cable, at least for the first part of the flight. I’m hoping to catch some Zzzz anyway. I’ll be arriving in Anchorage approximately 12:30am and my friend and I hope to head out by noon later that day. So I’m going to need all the sleep that I can get. We’ll be driving 16+ hour days. Whew! And with no delays we should hit St. Louis just in time for me to hop a flight back to Detroit. Yahoooooo!

Thanks to my wife for helping me pack. She’s an ace packer. And just aces all around. Feeling better with that taken care of.

Here’s a map of the route we’ll be taking.

Yukon ho!

Like Calvin and Hobbes in a Sunday comic strip I’m striking out for the Yukon.

Actually, I’m flying to Alaska to meet a friend from college ( let’s call him …John b/c, well, that’s his name. what are the odds, right) to help him make the drive from AK to St. Louis where’s accepted a new job. He and his wife have been living in AK for about nine years now, I think it is, and finally decided it was time to move back down to the lower 48.

Maybe about 12 or so years ago I had the chance to move to Alaska with John. This was before he was married and I was just out of grad school. I had no real reason not to go, but I balked anyway. Not exactly sure why. Perhaps that shall be the subject of my therapy session today. We shall see…

Anyhoo…I’ve always regretted not taking John up on that earlier offer, even though he was there only about 6 months and I likely would not have stayed on my own, but you never know, right. I could have at least said I’d lived in Alaska for a time. With that in mind, I didn’t want to let this opportunity pass. Fortunately, I was able to get the time off work and my wife was more than understanding about the trip. In fact, she said she’d be pissed at me if I didn’t go, which makes me wonder if she’s just trying to get me out of the house. I wouldn’t be surprised — I learned along ago that I’m the kind of person that others need a break from, from time to time. And John was willing to use his frequent-flyer miles to pay my airfare because there is no way I could have afforded a ticket to Alaska right now.

So I’m pretty much all set. Just need to pack and be on my way. I’m not taking the laptop. If I do any writing it will be with the low-tech method of pen and paper, although John will have his so I may be able to post about my trip. Most of the trip is going to be about driving, though. But I will need something to read, especially since I have a more than three-hour layover in Salt Lake City. Originally, I thought to reread “Girl with Curious Hair,” by David Foster Wallace as well as J.D. Salinger’s “Nine Stories,” but then we got in the new edition of “On the Road.” This is the “original script,” the way it was before it had been edited. Apparently there was content that just couldn’t be pub’d at the time. But it’s in there now.

I have never read “On the Road,” if you can believe that. People are often surprised to discover that I haven’t read it. Not sure why. I guess I just seem like an “On the Road” kind of guy. I’ve tried to read it a few times but there was something about it that I just couldn’t get into. That happens to me with some books. But that was before. Now I think might be the right time to try again.

In any case, I’m now toggling between excitement and nervousness. I don’t travel much, especially on my own, especially on airplanes — my wife is the expert traveler. Hell, my daughter has logged more miles in the air than me, and she’s only soon to be 9. It’s kind of sad really. But that’s a subject for another navel-gazing post.

Yukon ho!

I think I’m done…

…studying for my first Environmental Science exam, even though I’ve got at least two more hours in which I could pour of my notes some more.

I used to do this in undergrad (grad school didn’t really have exams). I’d just reach a point and I’d stop; I couldn’t study any more. Well, I could have, I suppose, but I just felt full up and that anything more was just overflow. But maybe that was justme being lazy,  a slacker. Still, I didn’t do half bad in college — community college, undergrad and grad school. So…

In any case, I can’t help wondering what difference it will make. Good grade, bad grade. What am I doing anyway? Aren’t there more productive/constructive ways I could be spending my time? Is this just a distraction? From what? And why?

I guess I just got kind of worked up about the idea of Environmental Science, but as always the reality set it. And as we all know Reality Bites, right. I know because I’m watching it on cable…again. This was a profound movie for me when it came out. Just as Generation X by Coupland was a profound book for me and Smells Like Teen Spirit was a profound album for me.

I still like the movie. But I guess I just woke up one day and realized that I wasn’t Troy. Oh, sure, I might be a slacker extraordinaire but I’m not as smart as the character is supposed to be. And I never was. I may have thought I was for like a blink but …

Anyhoo…it’s been kind of existential (if that is the proper term) day. Can you tell?

this GenX dad on Superbowl Sunday…

…can  only hear the roaring of the crowd from the TV set in the other room — Go Colts! — because I’ve chained myself to the desk in the office in order to study for my first exam in the Environmental Science course that I decided, for some dumb reason, to take. We can use one 4×6 card of notes for the exam, so i’m carefully selecting info, typing it out and shrinking it down to 8 pt. font and pasting it to a card. So far it’s working quite well. Although as per usual I’m sure I’ll forget something. Hopefully the test is all multi-choice. I rock at those. And at essay exams. Fill in the blanks, though, I suck at.

I still have to write 1-2 page CTR (current topic report) as well,  in which I distill a news article that is relevant to the course in some way. I have the article, this time on the increased growth rate of trees in the northeast part of the country, but I’ve yet to write it. Hoping to do that tonight.

Add to that a pretty busy first half of the week. Wife is out of town on biz. While she’s working hard in the Big Apple, I’ll be filling in for my daughter’s Brownie troop outing to a local police dept for a safety program. Not only am I driving but I’ll be providing snacks – got em, check! Then on Tuesday morning my daughter has an 8:45am doc. appt. (need to remember to call school to let them know she won’t be there in morning) after which I need to hustle her to school and the head for work. Now, I’ve got a babysitter lined up for Tuesday night so I can go to class to take this exam but if it snows too hard (is it supposed to?) that could fall through. Have a couple of options, though. We’ll see.

Damn, I feel tired just writing this.

An old GenX story…

In many ways Tisha Kulak-Tolar’s novel, Gen X, is an old story.

Girl meets boy. Girl befriends boy. Girl shares a place with boy.  Girl pines for boy while boy boffs a string of ditzy, sex-pots. Girl and boy eventually fall in love. Then fall out. And eventually have one last good-bye shag. And all is far from being right with world.

Well, an old Generation X story, anyway.

Of course, that is reductive; there is more to this story than that.

And let me just say before I proceed any further (or is it farther; I need to watch Finding Forrester again to clarify). Anyone who bothers to read my blog knows that I read a lot but also that my posts about books are more like reactions than reviews. At least, that is how I think of them. Because I may start out talking about the book but end up on the planet of irrelevant tangents. So with that….

Of course, I was flattered that Tisha would want me to “review” her book on my blog (she is the first but hopefully not the last author to do so) but I was also a little leery because it seemed a bit chick-lit-ish to me, and at risk of coming across as some kind of literary snob I have to admit that such fiction is really not my thing. But I figured if Tisha went through the trouble of contacting me and sending me her book, at no charge to me, then the least I could to do was give it a go. So I did.

And as I read something happened. I began to care about what happened to Genevieve Xavier, aka Gen X, (clever, I know), and that is arguably the main ingredient for a successful story.

Gen X is a 22-year old woman who lives with her friend Jared,  a man-boy on whom she has a crush, but Jared is too busy banging anything with a hole and heartbeat and a big rack. Or so it seems. One night he tells Gen how he really feels about her, if one is to believe such a scoundrel. But hey, Han Solo was a scoundrel too and he turned out to be a stand-up guy?

Jared turns out to be a stand-up comedian, a pretty good one at that. And before Gen and Jared know it they are on their way California where Jared is going to be a big star and Gen is going to manage his career.  But Gen is quickly maneuvered out of that roll by a savvy, ruthless agent who has here designs on Jared. After a brief stay at the home of an actor that Gen had an almost tryst with back in Philly, the city she and Jared started in, and where she meets a budding sweetheart of an actor named Scott, Gen finds herself living back at home with  her parents — ugh! — and working a suck-ass McJob for a Temp Agency. Could things possibly get any worse?

Then answer is: yes they can. They always can. Every GenXer knows that. Gen meets Chris, a guy with a big brown eyes and, it turns out, drug habit.

And this is where the story takes a darker turn and where you really find yourself alternately routing and fretting for Gen. Will she end up stuck in her home town? (The horror!) Will she make it back to Philly? (Mmmm cheese steak sandwiches!) Or even California? (living large, or at least relatively warmer than on the east coast) What will happen when Jared returns to Philly while on tour? (Dunt dunt da!) Well, you’ll have to read the book to find all that out, won’t you. I’m no spoiler.

The thing that is so (oddly?) compelling about Gen X is that you can pretty much see the mistakes the Gen is going to make. But that doesn’t deter you from reading on. It’s like watching the painful home vidoes on that show with that guy that makes mildly amusing remarks to an laugh track that is way too amused. You want to look away, but you just can’t.

You want warn Gen — No, don’t do that. Can’t you see what a mistake you’re making? But of course you don’t, because Gen is, after all, just a fictional character. And that would be just silly, like yelling at Rocky Balboa to get up in that final scene of Rocky. It’s pointless, but I did it anyway.

I don’t know. Maybe I saw my 22-year-old self in Gen, making poor decisions, and what I really wanted to do was save myself. Ugh! I sound like a Boomer in therapy. Somebody shoot me. Now!

Even if you could communicated with Gen, we all know it wouldn’t make a difference. Because she’s not going to listen. I know I wouldn’t have at that age. And to tell you the truth, I don’t really regret. Well, not too much anyway. Besides, it’d be a pretty boring novel if Gen didn’t end up in a tangled web of regret and broken hearts. That’s drama!

Finally, I have to say that I really admire the gumption to self-publish. I’ve not mustered the moxie to give that a go myself. Of course, I’d have to have something completed to do that anyway. It must be difficult. And one of the downsides of it is not having professional copy editors and proof readers to go over your prose, tune it up, and make sure to parse out all typos and mistakes. This book could have used that kind of care, because no matter how much I tried I couldn’t help marking corrections, like when I was a freshman comp instructor. It was distracting, but not so much that I didn’t keep reading.

It was fun! And who doesn’t like a spot of fun now and again?

About Last night’s class

It wasn’t as bad, maybe because it wasn’t as cold.

Got to campus early after dinner with the wife and daughter — mmmm burrito!  Since I had time I decided to check out the library. I hadn’t been in it years. When I first went to Macomb, I worked in the library. It was as pretty cool job. The library has since been remodeled — a new front desk and now there is a cafe inside. Bookshelves have been slight rearranged. I found myself wandering down the American Literature isle. It was funny how some of the book spine were still familiar. I used to spend a lot of time in the library, studying, sure, but also just discovering new stuff to read.

I searched the collection of Best American Short Stories volumes for the one with a story by my former teacher at Western, Jaimie Gordon. Found it. It was my favorite bit of writing by her. I started reading it but knew I’d never be able to finish. Perusing to the end of the fiction section I pulled down a small book of John Updike stories. The cover had been rebound but pages practically fell out when I opened it. I wondered when was the last time anyone had picked it up. Not that many people attend Macomb with literary ambitions, or so it always seemed to me. Community college is a practical place — people want to be trained for jobs, or educated to go on to a four-year university to be educated for a slightly better job.  I wondered if I’d ever picked up this collection before. It was all stories about the Maples, a married couple who end up getting a divorce. Of course, it is an Upike story. What else would the do? The most famous of these stories is Separating, which I still adore.

Anyhoo… standing there among those books I knew that even if I do manage to muster enough enthusiasm to get another degree English, books and writing will always be where my heart, always what I felt I was meant to do. Just haven’t been able to make money at it yet, not enough anyway.

Got class….

….tonight. And not really looking forward to trudging across campus from the parking lot in the cold. Ugh!

Any excitement I had for taking this course pretty much dried up last week when it was really cold. It just felt depressing. That’s not to say I don’t find the Environmental Science class that I’m taking interesting. I do. But I beginning to wonder why I really took it. I mean, do I expect to start a whole new career? Or what?

Sure there’s nothing wrong with taking a class just because you’re interested but I can’t help feeling that I’m trying to return to something. What exactly, I can’t say? Perhaps I thought I’d recapture something that I felt their all those years ago, when I was a young twenty-something first time college student. I did well then. I was excited about my classes. I figured I was going somewhere. Where exactly I couldn’t say beyond transferring to a four-year university.

Now, going to class really feels like work. I”m tired and yet I have a hard time just sitting still. I want to do well and don’t really care at the same time.

Thing is, I was good at school. I did well. I enjoyed it. In the work world, not so much. I’ve felt often very inept ever since I left grad school and stepped into the “real world,” into corporate publishing at the time, a job that did not work out well for me, which I did not excel at, unlike school, which I always excelled at. Perhaps there’s something in that? I don’t know.

Anyhoo…thanks for attending this installment of my navel-gazing self-pity party chock full of ennui and angst. Come back next time when I when I lament my thinning hair.