Sturm und drang. So throw me a donut.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pimps, Hookers and Johns, Oh My! Or, the night Garmin paid for itself...

Let's just say that I was happy to see Fresno in my rear view mirror this morning.

Yesterday, we left Springfield, Oregon. We spent the day driving the length of the Sacramento Valley and the San Joaquin Valley to Fresno. It was pretty up until we passed Sacramento...and then it was just flat, dirty, trashy, poor and depressing. This is where so much of the nation's food comes from?! It looks like the people who work the fields are slave labor. Oh, wait, they ARE slave labor. Wow. So. It was an education.

The best part of yesterday (and the reason why I didn't blog) was the hotel in Fresno. I picked the wrong side of town....Oh did I pick the wrong side of town!! I pulled off the highway, cruised down the street to the address on my Garmin and HOLY FREAKING MOLEY it was a slum AND hookers were trolling the sidewalks and parking lots of the three hotels and Denny's. All the cars were trashed, except for the BMW parked in front of Denny's - and I bet you that was the pimp/drug dealer watching the "girls." The  very best part of the whole experience was when my son said, "Oh, look! The hookers are color coded! All of them are in pink shirts!" And then a really creepy old man shambled up to one of the girls and she nonchalantly led him away to the hotel.

I kept on driving. I shall post my feelings on Yelp about that hotel tonight. A few miles away, where it looked safe to park, I stopped and pulled up hotels on my Garmin and found a nice Best Western on the other side of town (this is why I bought a Garmin and it did not disappoint. I will be writing to them to let them know how much I appreciate this handy little device). After we got to our room, I called the previous hotel and told them I wouldn't be keeping my reservation. The conversation went something like this:

Desk: Hello...

Me:    Good evening. I have a reservation with you, but I won't be keeping it tonight.
Desk: Okay. It's past the cancellation...

Me:    I know I know let me tell you why I am staying at the Best Western on the other side of town. There are herds of hookers trolling the sidewalk and the parking lot in front of your hotel and the hotel and Denny's next door.


Me:    Okay. But you ARE responsible for the women using your rooms.


Me:    Right. Well, just so you know, I will not be bringing my family to your hotel and I will never recommend this place to anyone. And CALL THE COPS!

I will be lodging a complaint with corporate tonight, now that I can think straight and I have cell service. I think it is very suspicious that the desk clerk had such a tight, succinct response instantly ready for me.

  So, we drove to Best Western and checked in. We had a beautiful room on the third floor where we promptly collapsed and went to sleep.

The drive out of Fresno was uneventful and it wasn't until we climbed out of the valley that it got pretty again. By the time we got to Barstow, it was dark and stormy, with occasional downpours, but nice and cool. Kingman, AZ is a cute town, and the drive up to Flagstaff was gorgeous. And we're still laughing about the hookers in Fresno.

I'll load up my pictures and post something later...someone needs to chat with his girlfriend on facebook :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Today is Day One

I left today, moved out of my apartment and took everything that could be stuffed into my truck. My son and his friends spent three hours packing and repacking until we had assembled the puzzle of boxes, bags and stray bits and pieces like Paul the Death Stick. Paul is a carved skull atop and carved walking stick. I fully expect Paul the Death Stick to keep muggers and carjackers away!

It's nice to get away and have lots of mindless driving ahead of keeps my mind off things and makes me feel like I'm moving forward with life. Or just throwing wads of cash out the window. Whichever. I refuse to just take life and live it like someone is keeping score of how many times I screw up. I was listening to some show on the radio, I tuned in halfway through the segment, but I heard the lady say that life can be like a boulder that one has to carry; you think it's too heavy to lift, but somehow you lift it and keep going. I tend not to think of my life like a boulder strapped to my back, but I can identify with that feeling once in a while. I'd like to revise that to say: Unemployment is like a boulder that one has to carry; it is too heavy to lift, so instead you just drag that s.o.b. along until the rope finally snaps.

Over the last dozen years or so, I have discovered that a) I carry a lot of rage, b) I have learned to channel that rage productively (like going back to the university), and c) I have a sh!t list that I keep tucked away in the back of my mind. Let bygones be bygones? Nope. I nurse my rage...And channel it and stroke it and pet it and feed it cheese and then I write stories about it feel so much better :)

So, Springfield, Oregon, it's nice to see you again. IHOP is the same dumpety-dump it was six years ago, but they added a flat screen tv to the dining room wall so we all ate dinner and watched the Olympics. And it was wonderful to stop in Centralia for lunch with Tina (where my son ate a burrito with at least five pounds of beef in it!) and chat for a while. How long did we sit there??  I don't know.

Tomorrow, California!

And p.s.
I still have my rock collection buried under all the junk in my truck! Those rocks have travelled farther than many people I know.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Horror! The Horror!

That's my fridge. It's scary empty. I'm not sure I can keep perishables sufficiently cold for five days, so whatever is left on Sunday goes in the dumpster. Or home with a neighbor. I have tonight's menu all ready to go for watching the opening ceremony for the Olympics: Sandwiches and chips. And the rest of that bottle of Irish Cream next to the milk.

And that's the cupboard. Chocolate milk, mashed potatoes, or mac & cheese anyone? Oh, and ramen noodles and Tums. The rest of the canned and boxed food is packed in a couple of boxes, the spices are safely packed in a tub in case anything breaks, and then there's the junk food for the cooler. Just imagine: Five glorious days of complimentary breakfasts at the hotels (which means I will be making two trips to the buffet - one trip to eat and another trip to stuff my purse with bagels, bananas and mini boxes of Fruit Loops), Gatorade and breakfast bars for lunch out of the cooler in the back seat of my truck, and diner food for dinner. By the third day, I will be so constipated from sitting on my butt for 10 hours a day and eating junk food that I fear for...for...well, for myself and anyone near me in the rest stop bathroom. You know how people write to etiquette columnists and complain about people who stink up the restroom and make all sorts of strange noises AND talk on the cell phones during a time when most people are just trying not to touch anything in the stall while they relieve themselves? I'll bring my own matches and YOU just shut up about me on my phone. And if I need toilet paper because I chose my stall poorly based on the amount of scratchy, cheap toilet paper in the malfunctioning toilet paper dispenser, I'll loudly ask for some toilet paper instead of just waving my hand around under the divider. I'd rather not be arrested for solicitation.

In between packing boxes and wiping hand prints off the walls in the hallway, I turned in my last two portfolios to my English professor. All of my work is due by Sunday afternoon, but I was finished so I turned it all in. I got one of my papers back this morning "to be fixed." It is a literature paper and I need ONE QUOTE to back up ONE PARAGRAPH in this 10-page paper. After six weeks of polishing up the papers for this class, turning them in over and over again to be checked over, NOW I have to come up with ONE QUOTE. It's really all my fault. I don't have the book the paper is based on - I either sold it back to the book store or threw it away - but I should have bought another copy of the book on Amazon and kept it in my filing cabinet, just in case, when I started this class in June. Instead, I looked all over town, called everyone I know, tried to find a professor who might have a copy, and even tried to download a digital copy from Washington Anytime Library. No dice. Nothing worked. My computer is juuuuussst about ready to croak so the digital download didn't work and I could not figure out what was screwed up. There's no way I'm going to make up a quote, so I gave in and ordered a copy of the book from Amazon and paid for it to be delivered tomorrow. TOMORROW for $26 + $10 for the book. Whatever. I need it, they have it and will drop it on my porch before noon. I think it will break down to about $1.50 a word.  

I don't know why it bothers me...I spend far more on gas for my truck, pastries at the bakery and downloads on iTunes. I should have kept the stupid book because the paper I wrote for that literature class was the best one, by far, of any of my literature papers. And that's saying a lot. I struggled with the literature classes. I love to read, but I hate writing papers about what I've read. By the time my classmates finish flogging the dead horse of some book most people barely skimmed, I would rather not continue the torture and write eight or nine pages of completely uninspired crap. But we all have our crosses to bear. 

And now I have to get back to cleaning. Whatever I don't use out of this box goes out to the "Free" table in front of my apartment Sunday morning. And don't forget to watch the opening ceremony for the Olympics!!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Now I have get this started: I'm moving!

I am finishing my undergraduate degree on Friday, which means I am not only FREE FREE FREE from the endless carousel of writing papers, but I'm also unemployed and homeless. Well, technically I'm just moving out of my apartment on Sunday and moving back in with my husband.

It's a long-ass story.

Or should I say it's a big-ass story? Okay. It's a big-ass story, one that stretches over years, decades, and possibly eons. And it begins right now with me packing up my apartment and moving from Washington State to Texas. Yes, Texas. As much as I love the Pacific Northwest, the job outlook is dismal. For two years I've been trying to find a part-time job while I took classes at the local university, but I couldn't even get an interview. Oh, no, wait...I got one interview and it was at a group home that was so far out in the countryside that it took me an hour to find it. And when I found it, I discovered what happens to people with intellectual disabilities when they can't (for a multitude of reasons) get into a sheltered work or living program. They sit on couches and watch the wind blow. I wanted to cry. And then I wanted to throttle the program manager and say "What a WASTE of humanity!"

I didn't get the job. I didn't want the job. I also couldn't get a job flipping burgers, stocking shelves, running a cash register, waiting tables, or turning tricks behind the bus station. Go figure. So I kept applying for school loans and lived high on the hog off the government. HAHAHAHAHA! The private loan industry now has me by the cojones for the rest of my natural life. And did you know that only DEATH wipes out the loans? I've started rolling pennies and nickels to make my payments...

So here I am, a college graduate with potentially unlimited job prospects if I am willing to move anywhere and do anything for any amount of money, and I am driving to Texas starting on Sunday. I will be driving down the west coast first because there's something about driving the length of Colorado that seems unwise at this point in time, and if - IF - a catastrophic earthquake should strike between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Jesus take the wheel and make it quick because I'm worth $200,000 if I die from anything other than suicide.  No matter what, I kept up those life insurance payments.

Did I say unlimited job prospects? I jest. College was a way to hit the reset button and take life in a new direction. I might be successful, I might crash and burn, and I might even end up living in my truck for a while, but at least I'm trying something new. Life prior to going back to school had become pretty crappy. Public education is now the playground of the Devil dressed up as politicians and bean counters. It makes me cry to think about such an important and foundational institution as public education becoming the whipping boy for just about every cause out there. Well, that's a little hyperbolic, but after years of being punted back and forth between the union, school board, superintendent, angry parents, angry teachers and kids...enough is enough.

If my computer cooperates, I'll post pictures from the road. If not, well, not. I have to get back to my last paper and after that I will be packing boxes. Oh, who am I kidding?!  I'm throwing just about everything away!