Up with People on her way to Toledo

Though  it’s been awhile since I last posted it’s not for lack of material. I’ve simply been too busy. With work. And a Memorial Day weekend vacation. And if you think being married and raising a kid takes up time try being divorced and doing it — seems to be even more time-consuming, not to mention stressful. Anyhoo…

The night before I headed down to West Virginia for Memorial Day weekend to visit relatives, I spoke with a woman that I met on eHarmony…or was it OkCupid. I can’t recall now. I do remember that she contacted me and things progressed rather quickly, communication-wise. Long story short — next thing I knew I was talking on the phone with this chick, Vivian we’ll call her (although why I’m bothering with an alias I have not a fucking clue; zero chance we’ll talk again much less anything developing, and I don’t know her last name, but still….), while she was packing up to head to Toledo for the weekend, a bit of coincidence since I was heading in that direction, though ultimately father south.

It wasn’t my idea. She texted me, saying something akin to “Wanna call and keep me company on my drive to Toledo?” How could I resist, right? Why I didn’t it still a mystery to me. I’d been working long days and had planned to wake up early for my 7-8 hour drive to Wild Wonderful West Virginia. But I did….

And almost immediately I knew it was a mistake. I knew this woman I and did not click, were not going to click, were simply not click-able. Why? Well, I’m sure the reasons are varied and complex, but to simplify things — she was just freakin’ annoying.

Now, don’t get wrong. I can appreciate someone with a positive attitude about life, especially in face of adversity. It’s impressive….to a point. And then it just becomes and obvious facade, an act, and you got to wonder who it’s for exactly. Them or the rest of the world. Who knows? Who cares?

But hey, people should be allowed to adopt whatever phony persona they like, right.

What was more annoying than that was the patronizing pity because. To wit: “I’m sorry you’re unhappy.”

To which I retorted: “I’m not unhappy.”

Confused silence. Followed by: “Um…okay…if you say so.”

“I did.”

“Did what?”

“Say so.”

More silence.Then Vivian transitioned into the positive lessons she’d learned from her failed marriage and ugly divorce. She didn’t say what she learned exactly. And being curious/skeptical by nature, I asked. “What did you learn?”

Her response was an awkward mash-up of cliches and platitudes and half-vague sentiments that amounted to little in my opinion. But who knows what passes for wisdom for some people. She then asked me what I’d learned.

After considering for a moment, I said, “Well, I learned that people are essentially selfish and self-serving. And they will do most anything to get what they want/need. Others be damned.”

Again I got the patronizing pity. “I’m sorry.”


“Well, because….that sucks.”

How astute, I thought, but did not say so.

From there she proved my assertion that people are selfish even after disagreeing with it by dominating the conversation, barely allowing me to get a word in edgewise. She yammered on about:

  • The books she was going to write, entitled something like The Horror and the Humor, about her marriage and divorce and ex blah blah blah. I wanted to tell her that it sounded terrifyingly bad, but I was in a charitable mood, as much as I am capable of such a thing.
  • How her step-sons loved her and loathed their mother. Apparently, they pleaded with her to move back to Michigan to be near them blah blah blah. I didn’t have the heart to refute this delusion, even if I had she wouldn’t shut up long enough to allow it. Despite what any step-kids says to their step-parent they will never stop pining for their shitty parents’ love and acceptance. Trust me. I’ve seen this twisted pathology play itself out first hand.
  • Her job — I forget what she did.
  • Her family — drawing a blank on the details here a well.

Truth is after awhile it just became noise, and I tuned it out. I was tired and just wanted to get to bed so I could get up and get in my car and drive to West Virginia in the morning.

Driving long distances is therapeutic. For me anyway.


West Virgina, almost home

When I was a kid I was always bummed at the end of a vacation (but hey, who isn’t, right) especially when the family would travel to West Virginia to visit relatives. That long drive home (7 to 8 hours with potty and food stops) felt grim, especially after Labor Day weekend, the weekend of the Clarksburg Italian Heritage Festival, which we attended quite often. My lone consolation was a pepperoni roll from D’Annunzio’s Italian Bakery, which we would stock up on along with Italian bread on our way out of town. But this most recent trip I was even more bereft than usual. I don’t know. Maybe I was just stressed because of the job interview I had the day after I returned. Also, I had to make sure that I returned in time to pick up Addy from her first day of school. This was the first year that I was not with her to take photos before she went off to school that morning. But with divorce comes a change in traditions.

I left early that morning. Up at 4:30am, after not getting to bed until 11:30pm because I was up late talking with my aunt, my mom’s twin sister, I headed out onto the road at 6am. It was still pitch dark out, and it was raining. It had been raining all day the day before and there was no sign it was going to let up on the day of my departure. It did not. I drove in the dark and steady rain on US 50, which winds and turns. I couldn’t make myself go more than 40 miles per hour. But before I hit Parkerburg the sun began to show itself and I found a place to stop and get gas. Gradually, as I headed north, the rain let up, and by time I hit Columbus, Ohio, it had stopped entirely. The clouds had parted and the sun shone through.

Despite the improved weather I was not feeling any better really. There was a part of me that just didn’t want to leave West Virginia, that part of me that, as a kid, believed that one day I would live there and marry a nice Italian girl and raise my family. Of course, living there would have been vastly different than visiting Clarksburg. Visiting meant running to the Dairy Mart for candy and Chilly Willy slushies and freeze pops and bubble gum; and hiking up town with my cousin, John David; and walking the railroad tracks, even over the trestle over the river; and running wild all over Northview, the section of Clarksburg where my relatives reside; and staying up very late, playing outside in the yard, chasing lightening bugs and whipping apples at each other and up in the air for circling bats to chase; and hanging out on the big back porch of 103 Hall Place. It was all fun. There was no work to be done, not by us kids anyway. Whereas living there would be like living anywhere else, full of work and responsibilities and bills to pay. And yet, I still wonder if I couldn’t be happy there, happier anyway.

What did it matter? My responsibilities waited for me in Michigan — my apartment and family and the need to find a job, and most importantly Addy, may daughter. How could I ever live two states and 8 hours away from her?

Addy did not make the trip to West Virginia with me this time, which was too bad. I was sorry she hadn’t. She had cousins down there that she could have played with. And of course all the relatives would have enjoyed meeting her. And I’m sure she would have enjoyed meeting them. Next year, I plan on taking her. That’ll be nice, and fun. And I bet it will make the return trip a bit easier. Don’t you?

Summer Vacation

In between running errands, cleaning the bathtub, and going to the movies today I’ve been texting with a friend who is on vacation at the beach with her family.  Sounds as if she’s having a wonderful time.

That got me to thinking about my plans for a couple of trips this summer. I can’t afford a vacation to the beach but I can take my daughter down to Indianapolis, Indiana to visit my brother and his family, like we did for the 4th of July weekend. Also, I’ve plans to travel to West Virginia for the Labor Day weekend, although it will be without my daughter. It will depend. I’m taking a class in the fall. It meets on Saturdays. And it starts the weekend before the Labor Day weekend. I’m really hoping that the class will be canceled for the Saturday of Labor Day weekend so I can make the drive down to W.Va. on Thursday or Friday. Otherwise I’ll have to leave on Saturday after class, which ends at 2 pm, which means I won’t get down there until about 9pm, and I won’t be able to spend as much time as I’d like with my cousin, who will also be traveling there from Iowa. It’s his family that lives there.

Maybe it is just today, but I suddenly feel this itch to travel, to take a trip. To be in the car driving on the expressway. Speaking of which, someone I play kickball with suggested an alternate route down to Indianapolis.  I take I-94 West to I-69 South. The alternate route involves takeing I-75 South to I-70 West into Indy. According to my source, the drive is about the same. Although my GPS takes me the other way, and it usually takes the shortest route. My kickball teammate preferred the alternate route, claiming that I-69 is very windy apparently. I guess I hadn’t noticed.

Wow. This is really mundane blog entry.

Job market looking better

According to this article that’s the story anyway.

A private report said businesses hired twice as many workers as economists had expected. Applications for unemployment benefits have reached a seven-week low. And more small businesses say they plan to increase hiring in the next three months, a trade association said.

And it’s got Economists more hopeful:

Economists responded to the latest data by raising their forecasts for hiring in June. Many now estimate that employers added at least 120,000 jobs. Some are predicting as many as 200,000 net new jobs for June.

The article states that based on numbers reported by ADP, a payroll processor, the private sector added 157,000 jobs, up from 36,000 added in may. That’s a encouraging increase to be sure.

As a result:

Stocks rose after the report was released. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 118 points in afternoon trading.

Other signs that the economy is improving include retailers posting strong sales and the number of people applying for unemployment falling as well as small business saying they are likely to do more hiring. Woo hoo!


And 15 percent of small companies say they have unfilled job openings, the NFIB said, up from 12 percent the previous month


Gas prices have fallen sharply since peaking in early May at a national average of nearly $4 per gallon. Prices averaged $3.58 a gallon nationwide on Thursday, according to AAA.

Although I have to say that over the 4th of July weekend, when I was traveling, the lowest I paid for gas was $3.65/gallon and as high $3.95/gallon. But of course a rise in gas prices it pretty typical for holiday weekend, although it always seems pretty fishy to me.

According the survey of almost 40 economists, the prediction is that the economy will grow at a rate of 3.2% for the second half of the year. However, in order to really put a dent in the unemployment rate the economy would need to grow at a rate of 5% for a whole year. The current predicted rate would keep unemployment numbers steady while keeping up with populations growth.



With each passing day, as I get closer and closer to my end date (August 9th), I seem to be more and more reluctant to leave work each day. It seemed particularly difficult to leave today. I guess it is because of the long 4th of July weekend I just spent with my daughter visiting my brother and his family in Indiana. It was near perfect weather, with only a bit of rain on the morning of the 4th, and that quickly dried up as the morning progressed. Neither my daughter nor I wanted to leave.  On the long drive back to Metro Detroit (5 hours) I found myself reflecting on the possibility of actually moving down there, living near my brother, but of course that would require a serious sacrifice — moving away from my daughter. Not sure I could do that.

It’s strange to feel this sudden attachment to my job when so recently, before I knew I was going to lose my job, I was so eager to leave each day — couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there, in fact. I suppose that’s because right now I have no new job to transition to, not yet anyway, and the odds are I won’t by time August 9th rolls around. Still, you never know.

For example: when I returned from 0ur trip to Indiana I had waiting for me in my email in-box an email that could lead to job. It was from a guy that I used to work with at the library. He does work for an import/export company and explained that what he does is similar to the cataloging work that I do now at the library and which he used to do. So… I’m pretty excited about that. Plus I had a plethora of email feeds from job-post sites.

Still, if nothing comes up I’ll probably have to move out of my apartment and back into my  parents’ house. The lease on my apartment is up at the end of September and I don’t feel very comfortable signing a new lease with no full-time job. But at least I have a place to go. I can’t imagine the stress of not having a place to retreat to. The immense pressure to find a job, do something to make money. I mean, the pressure I feel is pretty great already.




Traveling Man

I’ve been traveling the past two weekends, one reason I haven’t posted as of late. Also, the summer just seems really busy for some reason, even more so than the school year.

Anyhoo… for the 4th I went down the West Virginia to visit relatives. I figured I might as well since I had to take a mandatory furlough day at work. That would be unpaid. But it gave me a four-day weekends, which made the 7-hour trip worth it.

I don’t do much long-distance driving anymore. When I was living in Kalamazoo, going to school at WMU, I did a lot more, because I was always driving back and forth from the west side to the east side of the state. Since then it would seem that I’ve become a much more cautious, not to mention nervous, driver. Maybe it’s age. Or maybe it has something to do with being a father and wanting to be more careful. I don’t know. I’ve considered it could have something to do with my deteriorating eye-sight (last time I got my eyes checked the optometrist said I was one tiny step away from bi-focals — Yikes!). In any case, I drive much more cautiously, which includes going slower, often under the max speed-limit (yep, I’m one of those people), especially on route 50 that winds through the mountains. That really makes me nervous.

I’ve always enjoyed visiting West Virginia. I have tons of relatives there. And it’s peaceful and calming. Besides, I really needed to get out of town.

The weekend following the 4th, Addy and I headed down to Indianapolis to visit my brother, Robbie, his partner, Jim,  and their daughter Riley. That drive is only 5 hours, which is much easier. I imagine this will be a semi-regular trip for Addy and me. We’ve already developed a tradition of stopping at the McDonalds in Coldwater, Michigan, so she can play on the playscape, although I imagine that it won’t be long before she outgrows that. Probably not too soon, though — Addy loves being a kid and does not seem to be in too much of hurry to grow up, for which I’m grateful.

And I’m not done with traveling this month. The last weekend in July/first weekend in August, going to Mackinaw Island. Haven’t been there in years.

Daddy Daughter Road Trip

That’s right. Addy and I are hitting the road tomorrow. For Indianapolis. To visit my brother and his family, including one of Addy’s favorite cousins, Miss Riley Roo!

Traveling always makes me at least a little nervous, although it never used to. I used to find it much more exciting. Not sure when that changed. When I became a father? Before then? I’m not really sure. I just know that it makes me uptight now. And, taking a trip as a single parent is even more nerve-wracking. You have to be responsible for everything. You really appreciate how having a spouse made it easier. There was two of you to make sure you that you didn’t forget anything.

But really, other than critical medications, what could you possible forget that couldn’t be bought on the road or once you get to where you going?

Of course, it also means that I do all the driving, there and back, about five hours each way, which really isn’t that much, especially when you consider that I made a 13 hour car ride from here to Iowa a few years ago. (I took an alternate route. Don’t ask.) Still, there are more comfortable rides than my Honda Civic. But it’s got cruise control, so I got that going for me.

At least Addy is old enough to pack her own bag. Sort of.  I guide her along and check her packing but mostly I try to leave to her. She’s 9 after all.

But then, I’m 42 and I could really use someone looking over my shoulder when I’m packing. And I did…but not anymore.

One thing that makes traveling a lot less stressful is a GPS, which I’ll be using on this trip. It’s Colleen’s but she’s graciously allowed me to use it. Thank you! It’s so much better than trying to read a map while you’re driving, or trying to memorize the directions. You don’t have to make as many stops. Chances are I’ll get one for myself after I move out. Should probably get my own suitcase too. There’ so much stuff that I don’t have…

Anyway, I’ll probably be up for a little while, running through a mental check list, to make sure I don’t forget anything. And, oh yeah, now that I think about I need to get gas on my way out of town. But I’m sure that I will forget something. I usually do. REMINDER: packs snacks!

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.