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.”

“Why?”

“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.

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Back to work

It’s been a busy month and a half.

Since the beginning of September I have taken two road trips. The first to Indiana to visit my brother and his family — daughter Addy came along on that one. The second was over Labor Day weekend to visit my relatives in West Virginia, a solo trip. Then I moved out of my apartment and back in with my folks. And, I collected my final unemployment check, not because my stipend had run out but because I started a new job. I was on unemployment for only 8 weeks. Don’t think I don’t know how lucky I am, especially when you consider all the people who have been out of work for months and and years, especially here in Michigan. I got lucky, I know it.

Speaking of my job, it is pretty cool. I’m not going to name the place, though. It’s an office job with all the Dilbert-esque accouterments that that entails, like cubes and copy machines and daily meetings, but the people are really cool. I like it there. Hey, we get free slushies (made from Faygo) and popcorn daily. Coffee too. This week’s slushy flavors are Lemonade and Rock n Rye. Last week it was Grape and Red Pop.

Recently JenX67 posted on her blog an entry that is, in part, about Generation X in the work place. My office is full of GenXers. I’d say mostly GenXers, from what I can gather. But there are plenty of Gen Yers/Millennials as well. In fact, my immediate supervisor is one. He’s maybe 24 or 25 years old. I heard someone ask him where he went to high school and he said Fitzgerald, graduated in 2006. I stood up at my cube and, speaking over the half-wall, said, “Hey. I went there.”

“What?” he said. “You taught there?”

I said, “No. I graduated from Fitz…twenty years before you did.” I graduated in 1986. He laughed.

My supervisor is very cool, very hip. And very good at his job. I like him a lot. I was asked by someone if it bothered me to be “taking orders” from someone so much younger than myself. But you know, it doesn’t. I could really care less. I’m there to work and to learn and he has plenty to teach, so my ears are wide open. You know, I think I’d rather have this young guy than some aging Babyboomer. At least with my boss I don’t have to listen to droning nostalgia about the 60s or The Beatles or anything like that. My boss digs JZ.

In my immediate area there a few other  GenXers. And few a Gen Yers as well.

The other day 0ur supervisor, in response to something someone else said, replied, “Awesome blossom.” He said he didn’t know why he said it.

I asked him if he was referring to the 80s TV show “Blossom.” The other GenXer’s near me just laughed and said that could not possibly be the case, he, our boss, was way too young. I’m pretty sure he didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. Although strangely enough he was singing that Sade “Smooth Operator” today. So….

Maybe this is an opportunity to blog about GenX in the workplace. Gen Y too for that matter. We’ll see. I’ll be working long hours soon, 10 to 12 hours a day some day. This new schedule means I don’t see my daughter as much. She stays with her mom more, not an ideal situation or one that I want but one has to do what one has to do. Addy and I will just have to make the time we do have together count.

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?

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.

McCain takes West Virginia

CNN projects McCain will take West Virginia.

That doesn’t really surprise me. I was surprised some weeks back when there was buzz that Obama was making ground there. Having relatives there, and knowing something about the state, I had a hard time believing that it would vote for a black candidate. It is a Democratic state in many respects, though; projections indicate that W.Va will retain two Dem Senators.

MSNBC electoral college projections:

Obama: 200

McCain:85

CNN projects:

Obama: 194

McCain:69

Vote flipping in West Virginia

Also on Diane Rehm the guest commentor report incidents of voter flipping in West Virginia. Vote flipping, as far as I understand it, involved people accidentally voting for the other candidate. Apparently this can happen with touch screen machines, especially if you happen to have larg fingers or if your hands are shaky.