Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A New Outlook On Life

The old outlook didn't work for the first 30 years of my life, so I am attempting from this point forward to enjoy myself more, do what I want to do, quit offering my heart and soul to women and begging them to love me, and do everything from now on with a sense of personal pride and purpose. We'll see how long this lasts, but the recent events of my dating life have made me realize that unless I commit myself to someone mentally and spiritually, a) she cannot hurt me with her actions, which are hers alone and cannot result in rage and disappointment from me because it's her life and I don't own her, and b) I am free to do what I want, whether that's be alone and doing something that I enjoy or pursuing companionship with someone else. And since I have been committing myself mentally and spiritually to women who either did not commit themselves to me or were lying, I clearly see that I have to stop doing that. I'm sure I've said this in many different ways verbally and on this blog, but this is it. I looked at myself in the mirror and spoke out loud to myself for an hour last Saturday before I left my apartment to spend Christmas with my family. I had never done that before. But after spending two hours with a friend earlier that day pouring out my emotions and feelings about my situation, I finally arrived at the point where I am sick and tired of pouring out my emotions and feelings to innocent bystanders. Basically all of my heartbreak in my life stems from my emptiness from not being loved and my desire to make someone love me. And it just has not worked out for me doing things my way. So, I'm doing things a different way. I will do what I feel is best for Dre from now on, and if that doesn't work for someone else, that's too bad. I spent the last 2 years doing what the woman or women in my life wanted me to do, hoping that they would see my sacrifices as a sign that they have to sacrifice and give all of themselves to me, and they simply were not ready or willing to do that. And that's fine. I am in control of my destiny. My great love may be a female executive ten years from now at whatever company I wind up working for once I earn my degree. But if not, oh well. I cannot keep missing out on happiness and enjoying life just because no one loves me. And I cannot keep committing myself to women before they commit to me. I've bitched and moaned about the women in my past not being fair to me. But by giving my love to them for no reason than I wanted to take their love to make myself feel better, I've been being unfair to myself, and of course to those women by expecting them to faint with joy when I treat them well.

I received some more perspective today. My football buddy, the guy who duels me in a $500 wager every season, didn't have his picks ready for me when I called him last Saturday, and he called me today to explain why--he was dealing with something just a tad more important. Last Thursday, on my birthday, December 22, he lost his youngest son to a rapid-spreading disease. So the little one never even had a chance to waste years of his life wallowing in self-pity. Just like with the football coach whose teenager killed himself apparently the morning of my birthday, it's like God placed these tragedies on the day that I turned 30 in order to give me a compass to allow me to take the last 30 years and the way I handled them and separate them from the way that I have to live from this point forward. Life means too much to bury myself in sadness for the way it has turned out so far, not to mention how it could have turned out worse. "Your birthday was December 22?" he said when I told him. "Boy, I'll never forget that day." I can't even imagine.

I have been cleaning my apartment all day, and I have a lot more to go. I read on the instructions of the video game "The Sims" that the player must keep his Sim's place clean, because a messy apartment is a sign of someone who doesn't care much about himself. And I read that months ago, before "Shelley" made a date to come here and hasn't been back since because the apartment is disgusting. But I'm sure not doing this for Shelley; I'm doing this because I'm wallowing in this mess of newspaper and plastic bags, and I don't like it. And soon, I will get up and prepare to go downtown and work a 3-day temp assignment in which I will be standing up and scanning documents for a law firm all night on 3rd shift from 11P-7A. I was offered this gig over a 2-day weekend a few weeks ago, and I turned it down because I thought it was beneath me. But I now see that no one is going to come along and offer me work, no one give a fuck that I will drain my bank account paying rent this month, and that I have to do what's best for Dre because no one else will, and taking this job is best for Dre because that's $200 in cash in my hand next Tuesday that I wouldn't have if I sat here and kept looking for specific data entry jobs that don't appear to have too many requirements or responsibilities. And that's the next step, to apply for jobs that I believe I can do regardless of the prerequisites. I've been so fucking afraid of being rejected that I have passed up applying for many jobs that I've never done because I assumed that my lack of education and experience in the field would result in me not getting the job. DUH--I won't get the job anyway if I don't apply for it. But if I do, I might get it. Such a simple equation. And yes, that applies to dating as well. Anyone who knows me knows that I don't approach women and ask them out because I look around at all of the eligible guys out there and I wonder why anyone would decide to date me. And I figured out why--because I'm strong, handsome, intelligent, and moving forward in life, and I have a nice smile. I discovered the smile while talking to myself in the mirror last Saturday. I still have to work on displaying it because I'm so used to not smiling, but at least I realized that I'm not ugly and unworthy of dating a good woman. So it's like I have a mental checklist now of how to handle myself around women. As Kool Moe Dee would say, "May not always work, but what the hell." I just have to remember that I'm allowed to show interest in a woman, I'm allowed to ask her out if we talk and I like what I hear, and I'm allowed to repeat the process if I come across another woman who interests me. What I am not allowed to do is serve up my heart, my baggage, and my soul on a platter for a woman to have to burden. It's not her life to straighten out. It's mine.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

30 Years Of Futility

God was trying to send me a message this morning. I fell asleep last night with my stereo on the all-sports station, so the very first thing I heard when I woke up this morning was that the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts was leaving his team to go to Florida because his 18-year-old son was found dead in a Tampa suburb. In other words, no matter how bad I feel about my plot in life, at least I still have life.

I was going to write a long essay about all of the things I've learned in 30 years of futility, but the recent events have shown me that the one lesson that I need to learn before anything else is to learn to love myself so that I'm not looking for love in all the wrong places. And I have yet to learn that lesson. I fear that my life will continue to stall until I learn that lesson, but it's not easy, learning to love yourself after hating yourself for years and years. I'm having trouble even liking myself. So I'll just smile and thank those who send me best wishes, and I'll go out tonight with "Shelley" and try to enjoy myself and forget about the fact that absolutely nothing in my life is working out the way I want. But I'll try to have fun. After all, I only turn 30 once.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Following Disclaimer Should Not Be News

It shouldn't be a news item or a surprise to anyone why I have a blog, but apparently I have to break it down for those who are not aware...

SOMETIMES I AM FUCKING PSYCHO. Hello? Have I not already disclosed in this blog that I spent a week in a psych ward last year? Isn't nearly all of my posts discussing some woman that I'm seeing or hope to see or used to see? It must be easy for all of you "normal" people out there in Anonymousland to jump on me about the shit that I do, because it makes you feel good to rip me a new one, and because none of you have EVER done some dirt in your lives. But it's not like I set out to hurt people; just the opposite, every time a woman gives me the time of day, I want to make her my queen and the center of my universe, which hasn't turned out so well because it never gets reciprocated back to me. All of my experiences in my entire life come together to make up who I am, and those experiences dictate the way I act and the reactions I have to various situations in my life. Suffice to say, I don't deal with rejection very well.

So I started this blog last year in order to document all of the things that I do, and that are done to me, so that there is a clear record out there for anyone who wants to take a shot at analyzing why I am the way I am and why I do the things I do, because Lord knows I've been trying on my own and with the help of some professionals to figure it out, and I just can't do it. Again, it's easy for some of you to jump up and yell out, "Because you a dog!," and hi-five all the other chicks around you like you're auditioning for Springer. But it's not that simple, and if you think it is, then you're simpleminded and you don't want me to get to the bottom of my actions, you just want me to keep being a dog so you can lump me in that category and keep complaining about why men are pigs.

As far as people reading this blog that I wouldn't want to read it, I hereby declare, as if it wasn't clear enough by the fact that this is a public blog, that I don't give a shit who reads it. For God's sake, I put the link to this blog on both my Yahoo and my MSN profiles! I don't have other profiles that I use to get booty calls or sneak around, meaning that someday "Shelley," the woman I'm currently dating, will read it and dump me too. Anyone that meets me in cyberspace knows me by my Yahoo or MSN handle, and can therefore look for themselves at my profile, and my blog. And they can decide for themselves whether they want to take a chance on a guy who wants and needs to be loved by one monogamous woman (something that has yet to happen to me since I started dating again two years ago). And "Torrie" is not the only woman that I've dated that I sent a link to the blog. Despite what it seems like, I am all about openness and honesty. Absolutely anybody can read about the things I do. And I'm still waiting for someone to read about me--all of me, not just the juicy parts--and come up with some insight on how I can stop being paranoid and psycho when I feel hurt or rejected or abandoned, and how I can stop giving money and love to people who only want to use me, and how I can love myself so that I don't keep looking for every random woman to love me.

Anyone at all? Didn't think so.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Why I Will Always Be Alone

Below is an e-mail in its entirety that I just received from "Torrie."

"I absolutly can hardly believe your nerve. I am so mad at you. I have been sitting here all night trying to come up with the words to say how i feel and there just are not enough! I have two words for you and that should explain everytrhing. ..."BLOG" "TORRIE". I was cleaning out my PC, because I had a virus. And found the link you sent me around this time last year, when you wanted me to read about the Wisconsin chick. I cannot believe i fell for your sincerity, and your lies. So i am not even goiung to begin to tell you how pissed off and hurt I am. I think you have the basic skills to figure that out for yourself. So if you think even for a second that this weekend is going to happen. You are out of your damned mind!!!!!! You know someone commented on your blog about you and karen deserving each other, and after all of this i agree. You DO get what you DESERVE!!!! I am not going to waste another minute of my time on you, and just end this email now."

I had arranged a trip to Minnesota for this weekend to see Torrie again. I missed her. I realized that after I put my trust in women who didn't like me and only wanted to use me, I had ran off the one woman who never asked me for money, never tried to use me for anything, and I always enjoyed myself with her, and after everything else is factored in, the major reason anyone should spend time with anyone is because it is an enjoyable experience. The funny part is, the blog is public, and as she pointed out, I had sent her a link to it long ago, so I wasn't trying to hide anything. The plain truth is right there: This summer, after professing my love to Torrie and not receiving it back, I decided that other avenues would be better for me to pursue. And because I had no good reason to dump her, I decided to give her a cold shoulder until she got sick of it and dumped me. That's the story. There's an ugly aside to it--that I chose to pursue "Laurie" because I wanted to date a slim, blonde woman as a change of pace--but if I wasn't attracted to Torrie, I never would have agreed to come back up there to see her again. It was never about Torrie's attractiveness. She is very attractive, the most attractive woman I've ever dated in fact. I just flew off the handle once I gave her my love and didn't get it back, and I decided that I might have better luck going after this thin blonde telling me that she felt strongly for me. But that didn't work out, because Laurie and I still have never met, and even if we had, I don't know if I would have had nearly as much fun as I did seeing Torrie.

So after this summer, and after my adventures in dating recently, I contacted Torrie just as a friend, and we talked about how much we missed each other, and soon it was like I never stopped thinking about her, which, really, I haven't. She's all I've been thinking about this week, as I prepared to fly to Minneapolis Friday. I couldn't believe that I stopped seeing someone I cared about and liked being around simply because she wouldn't tell me she loved me the 3rd time she ever met me and because she wasn't slim. I was going to tell her all of that this weekend. I wasn't going to push things too fast and tell her I loved her again or anything like that, just that I really missed her and I wanted to see her again. But unless she has a major change of heart, that won't happen.

And now I'm sitting here wondering, what has happened to me? The thing is, I always grew up thinking that I would never cheat on any girlfriend I had, and let's face it, I was dumping Torrie because I wanted to cheat on her with Laurie. That would have been the 3rd time I cheated, after hooking up with "Sarah" while seeing Karen, and then spending a night with The Co-Worker Who Shall Remain Unnamed while seeing Sarah. I have absolutely no rationalizations for cheating that would make sense. With Karen, the sex was bad, but the solution to that is to talk about it with her, not to get better sex elsewhere. With Sarah, the sex wasn't bad, but she was fooling around with her regulars back home in Springfield, and my self-esteem was so low at the time, I felt that I had to take advantage of being with a slut because I couldn't get anything else. But the solution to that is to not screw anyone until I get my shit together mentally, not to just screw anything to make myself feel better. And with Torrie, the sex wasn't bad and I felt as good about myself as I had in a long time. I'm getting straight As in the college classes I'm taking, I can see a future for myself, I'm starting to stand up and be a man for the first time in my life. But it was so weird. When I told her I loved her and got nothing back, it was like all the old feelings started flooding back. I'm not good enough. No one understands me or gives a fuck about me. I will always be alone, which I should get tattooed on me somwhere as much as I say it. Laurie was an outlet for my frustration, but the point is, I shouldn't have been so frustrated. Yes, no one likes to spill their guts or put their cards on the table and get no response. But there's no excuse for me feeling like Torrie was abandoning me. I'm so afraid of being abandoned that when I feel the slightest chance of it happening, I either cling on helplessly (like when Torrie dumped me the first time in March) or I wander away looking to be consoled somewhere else. And that's why I will always be alone--because I still don't understand that no one can forget about everything else to make me feel loved, and when the moment comes where she has to hesitate before she gives me her love or has to tend to something else in her life, I start feeling abandoned. So I guess I'm not standing up and being a man like I thought I was. A man deals with the people in his life straight up, as they are, and accepts things as they are. I keep running around like a chicken with its head cut off, desperately searching for someone to love me. But if I loved myself, I wouldn't have to put that pressure on everyone else.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

End Of The CEDA Era

So much for my temp job going through January, which is what my agency, Smart Resources, told me when I was hired. The big boss, Casey Jones, had been making a big deal lately about people who consistently posted 75 files or less for a day's work on their retarded little tally sheets (yes, they started making everyone keep track of how many files they did in a day), going so far as to call a meeting almost every day last week only for those under the magic number the day before. You got it--20 to 30 minutes of no work for those not producing enough work so that Casey can tell us that we need to start producing more work. Is that not the most idiotic thing you've ever heard? Not only that, but I honestly don't think that these people had the collective intelligence to realize that some people were fudging their numbers and writing insane tallies on their sheets, and I would still be there if only I were dishonest. I will say this once and then I will stop whining--I am a perfectionist, I am a hardheaded son of a bitch, and I basically ignored all warning that Casey gave us in those retarded meetings that the low-tally people would be the first to be cut because to race through the files would mean that I would risk missing a detail and making a mistake, and I was not making any mistakes based on this moron's opinion that my work wasn't fast enough. This same guy bitched and moaned in previous rants about how important accuracy was, because if we make a mistake then that will prevent a file from being processed, then that family has to wait to get that mistake ironed out, and meanwhile they have no heat, so our jobs are very important, etc, etc...but in the last couple of weeks, all we heard about was the "rabbits" nailing 150 or more files a day, and why couldn't we be more like them? I bit my tongue so hard it nearly tore off. I held my professionalism and defeated the urge to tell him: "Because it's their fucking mistakes that I'm cleaning up the next day, and it takes time to remedy major-league fuck-ups like they make on a daily basis, you imbecile!" My counts were not way below his quota of 75. Gina, the main supervisor of the data entry department, always rolled her eyes when she tapped me on the shoulder to come to the meetings because my counts were always in the 65 to 70 range, and considering that I didn't run away from files with eight or nine people in it and put them back in the box like a lot of people did, and that I denied files with Social Security cards that were obvoiusly fake and wrote up denial sheets for every one of them and didn't ignore problems with a file and process it anyway like a lot of people did, you would think a rational person would excuse my count being low by a couple of files. Of course, I was dealing with Casey Jones, and nothing about him says "rational person," which is why I never mentioned any of this to him. Someone else tried to tell him that her count was low because her particular computer wasn't working right, and his response was, "No excuses." WTF?!? So yeah, it was a no-win situation. All that said, I will quit whining about it now because I realize that the bottom line is this: Not everyone was falsifying their numbers, not everyone looked at difficult files and put them back for someone else to do, and I knew what the daily quota was and I routinely failed to make it. Period.

It was a weird day yesterday. We didn't have overtime over the weekend because we had done our jobs so well that we didn't have extra files, so we all kinda knew the end was near. Then in the afternoon, the guy from Smart Resources who always brings the weekly checks for the Smart workers who are not part of direct deposit, as I am, gave a check to a woman, then pulled her aside and told her, and only her, that she was done at the end of the day. He then spoke to Gina privately for about 20 minutes and left. Meanwhile, the woman was in tears because the way he did it, it sure seemed like he was singling her out. But when Gina spoke to me later, she said that she heard that there was a list of people being let go by Casey, and that I was on the list, but I figured if I was going to be thrown out, either Casey or the guy from Smart would have told me something at the same time as the woman earlier was told. I told Gina that I'd be back the next day because no one had told me anything, but she hugged me goodbye just in case, so I think she knew. The funny part is that Smart had indeed called my cell phone while I was at work to tell me that my "assignment has ended," but I didn't know that I had a call until after I left work because sometimes my cell phone's vibrator doesn't work. I would have had to awkwardly endure the pain and embarrassment of working my last two hours knowing that I had been fired, just like that woman did. I have no idea why the guy from Smart told her separately that she was gone, except that she and I had become friends and I don't remember her ever taking out a cell phone, so perhaps she doesn't have a cell phone and face-to-face was the only way to tell her. In any event, I walked to school and checked my voice mail and found out the bad news, and I've been home all day just resting and trying to stay warm.

The immediate future is a complete question mark. I've already talked to Smart about a new "assignment," but the only gig they have right now is 3rd-shift and pays less. "Shelley" thinks that I should take it, but every outing we have is paid for by me, so of course she wants her meal ticket to find employment again ASAP. I really, really can't see myself doing retail, so the obvious solution, some cashier job in this holiday season, is out. Unemployment benefits are not an option because I would have had to be employed for six months to be eligible again. Cassandra assures me that she will have some money for me next week. But this may be the final event to push me towards moving out of this shitty apartment, like, now. My savings account is now under $1,000 for the first time in quite a while, so I only have a couple of months of living here with zero income, whether the people who owe me money come through or not. And I've been bitching about the rent and the $50 cable and the $50 DSL so long that I was speaking to "Ronnie" when I started bitching about it, and you know it had to be a long time ago if I was speaking to Ronnie. Plus, I'm dating now, and this place ain't no place to be hosting dates. So I'm leaning towards getting out of here by February, employment or no employment. Whatever happens, I am not going to ever forget my time at CEDA. What a perfect impetus to push me through school and urge me to keep going and make education a priority. Cause if I don't, I face a future of jobs in which my diligence and perfectionist nature cause me to be fired perpetually because I didn't produce enough mistake-filled, hurried work to satisfy the assholes in charge.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The One-Month Countdown

It's a little scary that in a month and a day, I will be 30 years old. At the same time, it's not so bad. "Torrie" told me that she freaked a little when she passed the milestone, then looked back and wondered, "What the fuck was I freaking about??" In other words, life goes on. I didn't know if I was going to be blessed with turning 30 when I was a kid because so much had already happened to me. At the same time, I can see the other side, that not much at all has happened yet. I haven't achieved a college education and all that hopefully comes with that. I haven't gotten married or had kids. Hell, I may not yet have met the person I am meant for.

Or maybe I have.

"Shelley" hates my down-in-the-dumps attitude about things and my sedentary, solitary lifestyle because she says it reminds her of herself before she met someone who introduced her to heavy drinking as a way to loosen up. So when she's in my face every 30 seconds asking me, "Are you all right? Are you having fun? Do you want to be here??," she's just trying to get me to be a little more livelier. I do enjoy myself with her--she's very quick-witted, she's intelligent, and she's sassy, a "Sex And The City" kind of sassy, not the down-home, "Hee Haw" kind of sassy that I got from "Sarah." Shelley knew all there was to know about the bags in the Coach store on the ground floor of my temp job, and she entertained herself immensely while waiting for me to come meet her for lunch a couple of weeks ago. Then last Tuesday, after we actually argued pretty badly the previous weekend, guess who was working at the file desk when I walked in that morning? That was a surprise. I knew that she had interviewed with Smart Resources--she actually was trying to set that up before we ever met, but by mentioning me and CEDA, she was able to steer herself towards that particular place of employment--but I had not considered that she would catch on there because it would have been something out of a sitcom. "Dating her turns out to be more than Balki bargained for when she shows up at his office--on the next Perfect Strangers!" Sadly, that came to an end today. The agency called her and told her that they were cutting back on file clerks, and you know the rule in those situations--last one hired, first one fired. I'm not sure what she's going to do. She's here in Chicago from Kansas City going to design school, but she can't afford her luxury dorm room without a job. So her immediate future is looming on the horizon. I'm between classes, so I'll have to talk more about her later, but I like her. She's got a sharp tongue, and she's not afraid to put her foot in my ass, and I need that. I'm afraid that I'm not what she wants, though. She wants me to be more aggressive and more confident, you know, a real man. I'm not sure if I'm ready yet. Time will tell. But I will definitely get around to filling in the details this weekend after Thanksgiving. I've been so busy seeing her and working that I haven't had time to talk about anything. In any event, happy Thanksgiving to all, and I'll be back in a few days.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

My History (6th In A Series)

This is the story of my journey to accomplishing what I like to call "My Greatest Achievement," winning the 1990 Chicagoland Spelling Bee. It shows how driven--and neurotic--I get when I am close to something that I want badly.

This all starts in 4th grade at Skinner Classical School, which at the time only went up to 6th grade. No one except 6th-graders and maybe a talented 5th-grader or two is supposed to hang around long enough to have a shot at winning the school spelling bee. But several 4th-graders, including yours truly and my friend "Jacob" and a couple others, wound up part of the last ten or so. We responded with typical 4th-grade maturity by stretching out across the front row of chairs, which were empty because we had outlasted most of the others, and pretending like we were bored to death when anyone but us was up at the mike trying to spell, and yes, this was in front of a full auditorium, and yes, our 4th-grade teacher ripped us a new one afterwards. Now, I want to say that I finished 3rd, outlasting my classmates, but I freely admit that my ego may be revising history and that I was not the last remaining "undergrad," but either way, I finished way higher than anyone imagined, and together we 4th-graders vowed to come back the next two years and TCB, since we knew we only had two more years left at Skinner. I don't even remember where I finished in 5th grade; I do know that the same uber-smart chick that won in my 4th-grade year won in my 5th-grade year. But she was a year ahead of me, meaning that for my last year at Skinner, she would be out of the way. I crammed and studied hard my 6th-grade year, and it came down to me and a classmate named Stephanie who was famous for having a fully-developed chest by, like, our 3rd-grade year. (I can still see her doing shuttle runs for gym class now. All of the guys would line up on the side as if we were watching a parade.) Anyhow, I misspelled "nicotine," adding an extra "c," and she got it right and nailed the next word to win it all. Displaying my passive-aggressiveness at an early age, I graciously shook her hand and congratulated her, then later accused her of stealing my study guide and replacing it with one that had "niccotine" in it. The way the process works is that the winner of the school contest competes against the 20 or so other schools in the district, and the winner of the district title takes on the 20 or so other district winners for the citywide title. Then the city champ competes in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee, which gets a lot of pub these days, what with the ESPN telecasts and the movie "Spellbound." Well, being Stephanie's runner-up meant that if something should happen to her and she couldn't compete in the district contest, I would take her spot. Wouldn't you know, several weeks before the district contest she BREAKS HER LEG. So, combine my last year at Skinner with what I thought was my destiny to be the top speller there with the district contest that year, 1988, being held at Skinner (think conference title game at your home stadium in your senior year), and I thought Stephanie breaking her leg was a sign that I was meant to compete in the district spelling bee and have a shot at city. Nope, think again. Stephanie showed up the day of the district on crutches and destroyed my hopes and dreams. She finished second. Was I a little bitter? I complained to a complete stranger in the audience that she was taking my spot and I hoped she lost. Of course I felt like a complete dick once she did finally lose, but dammit, I wanted that spot so bad.

So my next two years of grade school were at Ogden Elementary, home of a gifted program called International Baccalaureate, and because I didn't do well in subjects that bored me, which at the time was anything that didn't have to do with sports, pro wrestling, or pussy, my grades were absolutely atrocious. I had no luck with women, I had my folks on my back all the time about my grades, and I was separated from the amigos that I grew up with at Skinner. So I basically had nothing going for me except my reputation as "Dr. Pervert" because of the naughty stories I wrote, and the spelling. It was a new district, new school, but I was the same driven son-of-a-gun as far as wanting that school spelling title. Well, I got more than I thought. The way that the school spelling bee was done at Ogden was in written form by the English teacher, Mrs. Smeriglio. It wasn't a big auditorium with the whole school watching, it was a classroom with about 50 kids in it, mostly 7th and 8th-graders from the gifted program with a few 6th-graders sprinkled in. Smeriglio read off fifty words, and we wrote them on a piece of paper and handed it in. So my first school title was rather anticlimactic. I was standing in line the next day and Smeriglio walked up to me and calmly said, "Congratulations Andre. You're number one." It was a perfect conquering--I got all fiddy words right, but the best anyone else could do was 49. A thin blonde named Sara Nicholson and a thin black girl named Jamila Carrington had overheard me talking shit before about how no one was going to have a chance to beat me in the spelling bee, and they gave me shit back, so I was extra proud because it was a victory for the ugly, fat kid over the rich, beautiful people. I believe Jamila got the 49, making her my alternate. Haha. But I wasn't done. Ogden brought in a specialist to actually pull me out of some classes and study for the district contest, as if my grades didn't suck enough. But it paid off. I walked into the school library at a grade school whose name escapes me, and whooped the little children who dared challenge me for the district championship. I even graciously shook hands with the chubby but hot black girl who finished second to me, kinda as a last little "Who's da man??" to Stephanie, Sara, Jamila, and anyone else I didn't like. The district contest was eventful because the principal, Mrs. Vandevier, gave this broke nigga $10, a lot of money at the time, to take a cab there instead of getting on a school bus. I was moving on up, baby. Finally I was able to get some respect from the people at Ogden; Vandevier treated me to a turkey-and-avocado sandwich at some highfalutin place and said, "Way to go, kid." But because success came so easily compared to my struggles at Skinner, I went to the city spelling bee at Tribune Tower a little starstruck and over my head. Despite that, I finished fourth and won a dictionary and thesarus set that I still have to this day.

Fast forward to next spring, my last year of eligibility to win the citywide spelling bee and compete in the National Spelling Bee, and my journal entry from early 1990.

Fri. Feb. 9--[Smeriglio] announced that Feb. 20 will be the school spelling contest, and Sara's issuing the challenge again. But she's not gonna win. She's gotta keep her cover girl image. While I'm studying, she's out buying clothes. While I'm cramming, she's on the phone. While I'm shaking hands as Arsenio's next guest, she's watching the tube wishing it was her. I told her one of my longtime secrets: It's not how much you study for it, it's how bad you want it. And this year, I want it bad.

See, I was thinking that if a little black boy from the West Side of Chicago could win the National Spelling Bee, then all sorts of fame would follow--Arsenio, maybe the Tonight Show, yeah, my head was a little big back then. Sara got 48 right this time for the school spelling bee. Unfortunately for her, I got 49 (I put an "e" instead of an "i" at the beginning of "ingrained," so the correct spelling has forever been ingrained into my brain). Jamila was an also-ran. To better prepare the winner for the rigors of district and city, Smeriglio made the first part oral, in that same cramped classroom, and when it came down to the final three (me, Sara, and some 6th-grade Latina) then we took the 50-word written exam for all the marbles. And I pulled it out again. Vandevier announced my win over the loudspeaker the next day, so the school support was starting to build, and with it my personal pride and confidence. The District 3 contest was two weeks later, and the night before, as a way to calm my nerves, I made a mix tape that I still have, and I also read the spelling bee words out loud onto a tape so that I could play a word, pause the tape, spell the word, start the tape, and spell another word. (I would do that before the city contest as well, which obviously means that I won the district.) At Lincoln Park High School for district, they put us in the Activity Hall, but it was only half-full with the contestants, their parents, and the judges, so where it may have been intimidating for some kids, it was no sweat for the defending district champ because I had been in a full auditorium on stage with nothing but a mike stand masking my fear, and that was just for the school title at Skinner. (In a twist, one of the district contestants, another chubby hot black girl named Dana, went to high school with me. We never hooked up, though; she was South-Side bougie.) Vandevier had suspended me two months earlier for telling a girl she had a nice ass, so it was interesting to see her slurp up to me after my win. But I understood why--I had a legit shot at being Windy City champion, and she knew that if she wanted her school represented respectfully, she was going to have to treat me with some respect.

All stops were pulled out for the Chicagoland Spelling Bee. My aunt's husband bought me an Adidas jumpsuit valued at $80, and I didn't wear it until the day of the spelling bee. I studied every night after school, even on nights when I would get home late because I was practicing for a school production of "Annie Get Your Gun." I would play my tape of all 500 words in the study guide, sometimes I'd miss 5, sometimes I'd miss 7, and every time I'd get more and more determined to conquer these words. Kids would come up to me asking when the spelling bee was and wishing me luck, kids whose parents lived in the same condo complex as Oprah, so they had no reason to ever speak to someone like me. I will never forget how I felt that morning leading up to the contest. I was arrogant, supremely confident, like Ali, "dangerous, pretty, and can't possibly be beat." From my journal:

Thu. Apr. 12--It hasn't sunk in yet. The shock of becoming Windy City spelling champion hasn't whipped me in the back of the head at the time, but it will. Alright, I'll tell you highlights. My dad picked me up about ten minutes before it started and said a prayer, which possibly helped. Then we went...[My runner-up, Renato] Diaz was shooting down words like an attack plane at its prey. But he choked on "apartheid." Now, I know that word wasn't in the list I had to study, but there was a period of one hour where two people were eliminated, so basically we used up all of the list words. Then they went to some words I had never heard of before, including one that both Diaz and I missed. I spelled "meringue" after Diaz missed [apartheid]...I was on the news all day, and I got phone calls. [Jacob] couldn't believe it, and they exploded back at the school.

Some other memories: That prayer that my dad and I had before the event involved acknowledging my mom for reading with me early in my life, and that was the first time I ever thought about how much she did for me before she died. I haven't forgotten since, though. My dad told me later that he saw the confidence I had at that point and that's when he knew that I was going to win. They take these mug shots of every contestant as they enter the hall at Tribune Tower, and mine has this half-smirk on it like I'm the coolest motherfucker in the world, and that's the pic that they used in the booklet that shows all 226 contestants in the National Spelling Bee. Of course, Mr. Cool had a couple of fuck-ups, and one almost cost me the title: First, while actually telling a girl that sat next to me during the contest how calm and cool I was, the gum I was chewing fell out of my mouth and onto the floor. Real smooth, Ex-Lax. Second, I was so intently playing songs by Prince in my head trying to relax during the contest that I completely forgot that my spelling coach had warned me to look out for the word "torus," because it can be pronounced like "taurus," and can therefore trip me up. I got the word, I spelled it like the bull, and when they rang the bell to signal a missed word, I stood there in shock wondering how they could say I spelled "taurus" wrong. The judges actually had to rewind the tape of how they pronounced "torus" in order to determine that they indeed had pronounced it like the bull and therefore could not penalize me for spelling a word that sounded exactly like the word they intended for me to spell. Whew. I wasn't playing Prince in my head anymore after that. I was totally locked in from that moment on. When I nailed the final word, and the judges said that it was correct, I turned and did this little reverse fist-pump thing inspired by one of my favorite pro wrestlers, Curt Hennig, while keeping the same stoic, almost bored look on my face that I've had ever since. And that was the clip that the news stations kept playing, so for a couple of months people were coming up to me saying, "You're that spelling bee guy!" and then doing the reverse fist-pump and telling me how cute they thought that was. I didn't plan it, though; it was a totally spontaneous move. My next action afterwards, to prove how un-smooth I was, was to stick my hands in the jacket pockets of my Adidas jumpsuit and stand there waiting for someone to give me a trophy or something. (There was no trophy. There was an Apple computer that they delivered to my house a couple of months later, but it stopped working before I started high school in September.)

The next week was a lot of fun. I stood in a classroom of kindergarteners and fielded words from them and spelled them correctly, much to their awe and admiration (except for some made-up word out of "Ghostbusters II" that I had never heard of). I did that for a room of 2nd and 3rd-graders as well. The manager of the Tribune sent me two front-row tickets right behind the dugout to a Cubs game. (The treatment that I got from the staff at Wrigley Field, as if I had no right to be there, is part of the reason why I hate the Cubs.) I went to see the superintendent of police, LeRoy Martin, and he took some pictures with me and my dad and gave me a jacket and hat, which my dad promptly took so that he could try to claim he was part of the police so that he could get free stuff and park anywhere he wanted. Yep, that's my dad. The American Legion presented me with a spelling bee poster and $25, and news cameras were there for that too, as was the Chicago Defender for pics. My dad dragged me into my alderman's offices looking for more praise, but he barely had time to shake my hand. Then that weekend, Saturday, April 21, I spoke at Operation PUSH next to Rev. Jesse Jackson. I still have a picture of that, and my aunt has an audio tape of the speech I gave, but it was not very long because the night before I was at my uncle's house watching old wrestling tapes and playing Nintendo and I didn't write a speech as I had intended to. I mentioned my mom, though, and when my grandmother heard it live over the radio, I'm told that she was very emotional. My church threw me a bon-voyage party the Sunday before I left for Washington and raised over $100 for me in fun money. I spoke at a teachers' appreciation function at Dunbar High School, and an Ogden teacher wrote a speech for me that was so good that I got a standing ovation. That summer I went back to Skinner unannounced and got a hero's welcome. They gave me a long computer printout congratulating me that they said they had hanging on the wall after I won. So for a while there, I was hot shit.

A now-funny aside is that on Friday, May 11, about two weeks before the National Spelling Bee, I swung so hard at a pitch in softball (missed everything, too) that I yanked the ball of my hip against the socket and suffered a hairline fracture. Yes, after all the bitching about Stephanie at Skinner taking her spot in the district championship despite the broken leg, I was now in jeopardy of giving up my spot to injury. But I really had no intention of missing it, even though I was hobbling around school on crutches for the next week. I even went to a wrestling match two days later, and bowled a week after that. What I didn't do during all of this hoopla is study. See, I knew that winning the whole shebang was beyond my reach, since they use any word in the entire unabridged dictionary and there's no way I can study for that. And since this was my last year of eligibility, since I knew I was never going back again, I wasn't interested in creating stress for myself and ruining the trip. I didn't do a lick of studying. My coach had some sheets of words from previous national contests, but my attitude was, either I already know the words or I don't. I simply did not want to pump myself up for competing in this thing only to feel deflated when I didn't win. My folks gave me some crap for not studying, but I think they knew why, so they weren't too hard on me.

I wanted to take my uncle and aunt as my two adult chaperones to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC, but the people in charge at Tribune Tower signed up my dad as official chaperone since he did accompany me to the Chicagoland Spelling Bee, and he still intimidated me (and beat me), so I didn't want to tell them to leave him off right in front of his face. That left only one spot, which I gave to my aunt since she was on my ass about schoolwork all the time and therefore deserved it more than my uncle. A "fan" left a new bag, deodorant, and other toiletries at the school, but I was trying to shove too much shit into it before we left for Midway Airport and I broke the zipper. Nice way to start the journey. My aunt and I were almost late for the May 27 flight, but we made it. It was my first time flying since I was 2, and they have pictures of me at the airport crying on my mother's lap as proof because I sure the heck don't remember. The return flight was the last time I had flown before "Torrie" and I lit up Minneapolis last New Year's. My dad took his ticket and exchanged it for a flight the next day because he had something to do the day of the flight, and he also left a day early, so on those two nights I had our room at the Capital Hilton all to myself. The nights that he was there, I slept in my aunt's room on her couch because there was no couch in my room, meaning I would have had to share the bed with my dad. Not happening. I did make sure to enjoy myself, going to an ice cream social even though I didn't (and still don't) know how to socialize, going to Virginia to look at some landmarks and play volleyball and eat barbecue, visiting the National Aquarium and Ft. McHenry, and doing an interview with a Tribune reporter the night before the contest began.

Then came the morning of the contest. I'm not nervous, I'm feeling good, I'm gonna just go out and perform, whatever happens happens, right? So I go to the bathroom and get ready to shower, and I look in the mirror. I've got 21 million little bumps all over my face. I have never seen anything like that on my face since that day, and I never saw anything like it before. My aunt's theory wasn't nerves but rather a possible allergic reaction to the spare pillow and/or blanket I used when I slept on the couch. But I know it was nerves. I had been so cool, so calm, so collected. But underneath, I was a wreck, and I didn't even know it. The reason I know it was nerves is because when I did get eliminated on my fifth word, "somizdot" (I put an "a" in place of the first "o," and yes, I am proud that I came that close to nailing a word I never heard of), I almost completely broke down, but how could I feel like that about a contest that I didn't study for? Unless...unless...I wanted that national title more than I wanted to admit. Arsenio, Nightline, and all that. I really don't regret not cramming for the contest because it would have drained me, and I still couldn't have won. Then again, one of the hardest words in the contest, so hard they put it in one of the last rounds, was "baccalaureate," and if you read the beginning of this post, you know why I would have gotten that one. So with some studying, who knows? I got the first 3 words right, but they were all from that original 500-word guide that was used for the Chicagoland Spelling Bee. Those first 3 rounds took so long because of the 226-person field that it took all day Wednesday to get through. So I made it to day 2 without exploding, then guessed my 4th word correctly before bowing out in the 5th. The girl who won appeared on "Today" the next morning. I couldn't stand to watch.

I wanted to make something special out of the week, like at least losing my virginity to a stranger that I would never have to see again, so Friday night after the banquet two fellow contestants and I actually went to the shop downstairs from the hotel and purchased a three-pack of rubbers. And because my dad left early, I had my room all to myself, and at one point there were us three guys and three girls from the contest in the room together. But we were nerdy 13 and 14-year-olds after all, so we all chickened out on making a move, then the loud music and dancing around caused the patrons below us to call downstairs and complain, resulting in my aunt coming to the room and clearing it out. We left the next day. There was a surprise party waiting for me when I got home. That's the last time anyone's thrown a party for me. But it was a great experience for me, my little fifteen minutes. I got a plaque and trophy at 8th-grade graduation a week later, and another standing ovation. I got a series of letters from a lady in Skokie who was very supportive and touched by my story. And I got 65th out of 226 in the National Spelling Bee. That's #6 in your program, but #1 in your hearts, for those of you who want proof. I also got a glimpse of what I'm like when I am around something that I really, really want: Calm and collected on the outside, completely ripped apart on the inside. I can't begin to imagine what I'm going to be like before I propose marriage to someone...the morning of my wedding...before the birth of my first child. It's difficult for those who don't know me to understand why I seem to clam up during any social situation involving women. But hopefully this will help explain why the more I care about something and want it, the quieter and more nervous I get. I just don't want to get close and do something stupid to fuck it up. It's easy for others to say, "Hey, loosen up, it's okay." They don't have a history of screwing everything up that they touch. And except for that city spelling title, I have absolutely screwed everything up.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Anyone who knows me and has asked knows why I love the White Sox so much. In one sentence that doesn't nearly cover how strongly I feel about it: The Cubs cater to the rich, elite snobs who go to Wrigley Field to be seen and don't care for the little people, while the Sox were sending me free vouchers for games when I achieved perfect attendance and/or good grades in elementary school and always made me feel welcome when I went to their games. There's also the feel of actually caring about the game when I'm at Comiskey Park/U.S. Cellular Field, as opposed to the feel at a Cubs game of, "Wow, check out that hottie!" So it's many years of knowing that the Cubs are the more popular team in town only because the lowest common denominator of intelligence dictates that the trendy, more visually attractive franchise should be the more beloved. Any baseball fan knows that the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1906 and that the Sox had not won one since 1917, so the factor of the Cubs going nearly a century without winning is canceled out. More people love the Cubs because they're sexier, plain and simple. And now look at them. All that money that the Tribune company can choose to spend bringing a winner to Chicago, and they don't because they know the park will be filled with dumbfucks every year no matter what. And they can't look any dumber now that the "lesser" team, the White Sox, are World champions of baseball. Cub fans have nothing left now. They would like to crucify Sox fans for constantly talking shit about them. My friend "Jacob" especially would give me hell for even thinking about the Cubs in the Sox' finest moment. The way I see it, being a Sox fan in this city is like being a black man in America: The other side cannot possibly know how it feels to be oppressed, looked down upon, sneered at, viewed as inferior, and openly hated and treated as a lower class for no other reason than fear and ignorance. So of course Cub fans don't understand how Sox fans feel. All is fine in their world, so long as the $6 beers keep flowing and the trendsters keep butchering the seventh-inning stretch and the beautiful, privileged people continue to treat the fuzzy Cubbies like lovable losers. Well, tonight the not-so-privileged shocked the world and won it all. That's why it's so special, because the Sox are the bastard kids that no one wanted to see succeed, and I can relate. The Sox are the group that embarrassed baseball with the fans attacking the Kansas City 1st-base coach a few years ago, and Disco Demolition Night, and building a ballpark in the shadows of the projects that no one wanted to go to because it was butt ugly, and I can relate because I feel like everything I do ultimately blows up in my face and embarrasses me. So yeah, this is pretty fucking special. For all the Cub fans and Wrigleyville hipsters and racists and supremacists and Nazis and feminists and thin chicks who would rather kill themselves than be a "fattie," and all other haters who think they're better then everyone else, I'll say it one more time so all of you motherfuckers can choke on it:

The Chicago White Sox are World champions of baseball. The ugly duckling just turned into a beautiful swan. Then it kicked a coach in the nuts, blew up some disco records, spit on Wrigley Field, and went to go party with the homies in the projects.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Happy Singles Awareness Day?

Just heard someone describe Sweetest Day, which is this Saturday, as "Singles Awareness Day," and that couldn't possibly be more accurate. I usually feel alone and desolate sitting here every night by myself, but tonight I feel downright sick, and Saturday is partially to blame. My family wants to drag me out of the house Saturday for some bowling outing, but not just any outing, a twosomes outing where apparently the couples showing up, in a twist, will have to team up with someone they draw out of a hat as a bowling couple. How cute. I haven't totally decided to go on this outing yet. The only thing worse than isolating myself in my apartment for Sweetest Day is being out among a bunch of kissy-face couples while I sit there, so I have to decide if the lure of bowling and seeing a few people I used to bowl with every Sunday is worth the pain of watching everyone around me enjoy life with a loved one, which it seems I will never get to do again. Melodramatic I know, but it sure feels like I'll never be with a woman again. Usually you're either kinda close to starting something with someone or actually in a relationship at all times; I don't feel like I'm even close with anyone.

You know the last time I spent a Sweetest Day with a loved one? Fucking ho-bag "Karen" two years ago. "No one ever gave me flowers for Sweetest Day," she wrote me in an e-mail the next morning, thanking me for a great time. I've been thinking about her again lately, wondering who she's fucking now, if she's giving him the same quiet little innocent girl act in bed or if she's actually making a sound with him during sex, whether I'm ever going to run into her again. The changing of the seasons from summer to fall may always remind me of her because that's when we started dating in 2003. At least I have not gone back to her fake Yahoo profile to see if she's updating it still. I've been tempted of course, but I feel like that part of my obsession is behind me, probably because I was so powerless to do anything while I watched her live her life. Unless I was going to go up to Wisconsin and do something about it, it did no good to stay abreast of her every move. I'm still curious, but it's not as bad as it used to be. The two-year anniversary of our first date passed several weeks ago, and I didn't even realize it. But I knew that with time the hurt from being screwed by her wouldn't sting so much. In five years, perhaps, I won't wonder at all who she's fucking. I'll always think about her, but I won't always care about her.

Very brief comment about the controversial call in Game 2 of the ALCS between the White Sox and Angels: The ump blew the call, the ball never hit the dirt, and it pisses me off because the Sox were playing so shitty those first two games that it now seems to the world like they can't win a pressurized playoff game unless the retarded umpires help them out. It wouldn't surprise me if they didn't win a game this weekend while they wait for another horrible call to take the pressure off. They haven't executed in eighteen innings of baseball so far in the ALCS, and they've wasted one and nearly two excellent starting pitching performances to boot, and now they get to play the next three games in Anaheim, where they have never played well. Oh well, it was a nice run. (The above passage can be interpreted by sports geeks only. If you're confused, it's sports, don't worry about it.)

Small piece of good news finally: I got a letter seemingly indicating that I will be receiving some assistance this semester and next semester from financial aid for my college classes. The letter said that the figures shown were "estimates," so I still don't know exactly what's going on, but I'm going to wait a couple more weeks for them to clarify what this "estimate" thing means, and if I don't hear from them, I'll go up to the financial aid office at school and try to get some answers. I'm having no problems at all with my two classes, and when I pass them, that will make 28 credits so far, or as Cassandra says, the end of my freshman year, which makes perfect sense because if it takes 120 credits for a bachelor's degree, then 28, give or take a class, is about one-fourth of the way through. And I'm so desperate to find something to be proud of in my pathetic life that I'm almost welling up sitting here thinking about being one-fourth of the way to a bachelor's. Maybe it's a good thing that I'll never get another date again--I've always gotten so nervous before meeting someone new, and if it worked out well enough that a wedding date would be set, I'd be so anxious leading up to that day that I might not make it. I'm an emotional mess when it comes to achieving my goals. That's how my desire works, always has. When I want something very badly, I can hardly handle receiving it or coming close to receiving it. The 1990 spelling bee saga--I labeled a 30-second video tape of the local news coverage of my city title win "My Greatest Achievement"--is a perfect example of how I handle succeeding at something that I badly want to succeed at. I'll talk about it in my next post.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Happy Kill-The-Injuns-Rape-Their-Women-And-Steal-Their-Land Day

CEDA is a government organization, and Columbus Day is a government holiday, so the offices are not open today, so I'm just sitting here at home watching sports highlights and wondering if those fumes from the construction next door are always that strong or if it's just my lucky day. I can't make up the missing work hours with overtime anymore, because CEDA has hired even more temp workers for an evening shift and for Saturdays and Sundays, so they made the announcement that overtime hours are no longer an option for anybody since theoretically they now have enough personnel that OT shouldn't be necessary, even if we want to do it. But OT means time and a half, so I'm not surprised that they outlawed it. Those of us in the main computer area that work the 8:30A-5P shift actually have to get up at 3:30P, when the 3:30-10 shift arrives, and move to a different area adjacent from the main area so that the new shift can all sit together. Whatever. I'm just pissed that I could have taken advantage of OT last Saturday and Sunday and chose not to because I was tired and I figured I could just do it next weekend. Now there is no more OT. Those six or seven hours at $15 per made for a nice little bonus in the regular weekly check. Oh well.

"Laurie" and I have communicated better lately, although it looks like nothing is going to happen between us for the forseeable future. She says she needs to straighten out her life first, and that she doesn't "feel it" with me right now, which I can't blame her for not feeling it after I almost hooked up on a booty call with a stranger a few weeks ago. Not much else to talk about here. She's dealing with her situations where she is, and I don't fit in her life right now. There's so much tension and nervousness in our phone conversations that I don't know if we would even make good friends right now. That could be because I can only talk to her when she's at work, since her cell phone is still not on. But since we're not getting together anytime soon, I'm not sure what we're going to talk about when she turns her phone back on. She e-mailed me telling me that she's going to be asking for my address so she can send me the money she owes me instead of having me come up there to Detroit and see her. Ouch. Nothing I can do about it, though. If she doesn't want to see me, she doesn't want to see me. She also told me that she's not stopping me from continuing with my life, meaning that I could go try to get with someone else, I suppose. But my heart's not in it. When I stopped seeing "Torrie" a couple of months ago, it was because I thought I was going to step up and build something with Laurie. Now that that's out, I don't want to go somewhere else. The thought of another relationship right now makes me sick (or is that the fumes??). The big 3-0 is looming in a couple of months. Right now, I feel like starting over and going from scratch in pretty much all aspects of my life, considering how badly I fucked up my 20s. That would mean no more internet hos, no more cross-country attempts at love, no more begging women to love me. I can easily see myself going six years without a date again, like I did from 1996 to 2002. It's not worth the aggravation, especially (most importantly, those who know me would say) if it's a situation where I don't feel good about myself and I don't feel that anyone with any respect for herself would want to date me, so I find myself dating someone that I don't like or respect. That's part of what made me go mad when "Karen" screwed me over--I felt like I was going out with a drunk, ugly, boring woman who was horrible in bed, plus she was dating me so she had no taste, but I stuck with it because she said she loved me and I wanted love so bad, but she was a lying skank all along.

I'll end this with a few words about the White Sox and their push for the pennant. I am so proud of them. I've been wearing this Sox ring that I bought after I first started working for CBOE in 1995, even though it's bent and no longer fits my ring finger because I keep getting fatter and fatter, so I'm wearing it as a pinky ring like I'm auditioning for the Sopranos or something. I've had to wash my Sox cap twice since they clinched a playoff spot a week and a half ago because I've been wearing it everywhere. I have a Sox jersey too, and it's personalized with my name and the number 00 (because I'm a big nothing), but my apartment is so messy, I can't find the damn thing. And yet I'm not bragging or talking about the Sox every second like I would be any other year. The reason? Simple: I don't feel I have the right to be yelling and screaming about them because I completely buried this team before the season began. I said they wouldn't be shit. I was very angry that they traded Carlos Lee, a powerful OF about to hit his prime, to the Brewers for a light-hitting 30-year-old guy who could run and a no-name RP for no other reason than Lee's free agent year was this year and they wanted to get rid of him before it became obvious that they were not going to pay him. I was very angry that they pretended that they couldn't re-sign Magglio Ordonez, another powerful OF who was actually their most consistent player the last five years, because the knee injury he suffered to end last season was just too questionable. A bunch of other teams were lined up with contract offers (Ordonez accepted the Detroit Tigers' offer because, with incentives, he could make more money there than with any other team), but not the Sox. Oh no, they couldn't risk signing a guy who might not recover from his injury. So who did they sign to replace him? Jermaine Dye, one of the most injury-prone players out there. But Dye's market value was very low, or, as I put it when the Sox signed him, "Do you really think Dye would sign with the Sox if there was a good team out there that actually wanted him??" And to top it off, they signed a 30-year-old Japanese guy named Tadahito Iguchi to play 2B for them. The guy had never played major league ball in his life. There's usually a big bidding war for good Japanese players that want to come to the majors, and you know if there was a bidding war, the Sox weren't going to be involved. But no one wanted the guy, so he signed with the Sox. So all of their moves this past offseason, in my opinion, were made because the price was right and they didn't want to spend the money, and that followed hiring Ozzie Guillen as their manager the year before because he had no managing experience and therefore would be cheaper than getting someone that, you know, actually managed in the majors before. I angrily responded by cursing them and vowing to not buy any tickets to any Sox games this year, which I haven't. I didn't count on their moves all actually working out. The skinny guy they traded Carlos Lee for, Scott Podsednik, led the majors in SB most of the season before his legs gave out, and he was a big-time catalyst at the top of the lineup. That offset the fact that Carlos did have the breakout season he was expected to have, making the All-Star team for the first time. This Iguchi guy seems to have a habit of hitting clutch opposite-field HRs when you least expect it, and he's a decent fielder, too. Dye shocked the world by staying healthy all year, and he had some huge hits as well. Ordonez couldn't come back from his knee injury until about a couple of months ago, making the Sox look like geniuses. And Guillen is absolutely fucking nuts, which is a good thing, because opposing managers have a hard time managing against him because they don't know what the fuck he's gonna do next. Clearly, having no experience works well for Guillen, because he can do whatever he wants whenever he wants and he doesn't have to have an answer for why he does it, just that he "had a feeling." This team really is just like the Boston Red Sox team that won the World Series last year. The Red Sox earned the nickname "The Idiots" because they didn't know why they did half the shit they did, they just knew that it worked. So who did the White Sox sweep in the first round of the playoffs this year? The Red Sox. The Idiots were swept aside by The Morons. And The Morons are too stupid to know better. They're not done yet. And while I might not be yelling about them at the top of my lungs, I am watching from afar with a great amount of Sox pride.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor

Just noticed while watching a little television that, in the name of wireless plans, I just saw Catherine Zeta-Jones compliment a cross-dresser and Joan Cusack sniff cell phones. Just what they trained to do when they attended acting school. Ah, advertising.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Why The Fuck Is Love So Complicated???

I am very lonely, and I've made several choices lately that reflect it. I'm not going to whine and cry about how unfair life is like I usually do though. I'm supposed to be a man, so I'll take the results of my actions and move on. I will say that for someone being mature and not sulking over things, I sure still feel like a big loser.

"Laurie" has been very hard to find since she canceled on me a couple of weeks ago. She said that she had major money problems and was basically bouncing between staying at her niece's house and hotels until she could find a place to live. I sent her another $50 and told her that I would be there for her. She told me that the weekend of Sep. 24, last weekend, would be ideal for me to visit because her niece would be out of town and we could use her house and boat on the lake. But every single time I tried to call her at work, she wouldn't speak for more than twenty seconds before hanging up and promising to call me that evening using the free minutes on her niece's cell phone because her phone is still cut off. (When I call Laurie's cell phone, I get the following message: "At the subscriber's request, this phone does not receive incoming calls." That's the exact same message I got when Cassandra had her phone cut off for a week because she lost it, so Laurie's phone may not be off after all, she just may not be taking calls.) But she never called me. Not at night, not on the weekends, not at all. She doesn't leave me e-mail or IMs either, although almost every day she checks in to the MSN site where we met. It's like I'm a dick on layaway, waiting to be used when she's damn good and ready.

So hell is where I've been mentally all month, wondering just what Laurie is doing up there in Detroit that she can't keep in contact with someone who has loaned her $250 but she can leave little cute messages to everyone and their mother at the MSN group. I patiently tried to wait on her, but my patience isn't as strong as I had hoped. I put a personal ad on the first Sunday of the NFL season a couple of weeks ago. The ad wasn't for a date or a fuckbuddy, but for someone to do what I wished I was doing with Laurie that day: Watching football while making out. It was a very specific ad, so I knew that if anyone responded, it would be an aroused female football fan, and someone finally responded two days later. "Crystal" wondered if I was for real, a guy that preferred cuddling on the couch to smoky bars while watching football, and I'm thinking, what guy wouldn't prefer that?? She lived several blocks from me, and she was chunky and white, so combined with her love of football, she was exactly what I was looking for. So my curiosity was piqued and my expectations high for the coming weekend, as well as for the Thursday night that we agreed on for a first meeting.

Predictably, she canceled. She postponed our date 45 minutes while she got ready, then she called back and told me that a friend was having domestic issues with her man and that she didn't want to abandon her in her time of need. I think she came to her senses and realized that normal men don't put out an ad to make out with a total stranger, even if watching football is the premise the man uses, and that normal women don't agree to meet those kinds of men. She left an e-mail apologizing and asking me to get in touch with her so that we could reschedule, but I haven't called her since that night. I think we're both waiting for the other to make the next move so that we don't feel like the more desperate of the two, but the fact that I put out that ad and the fact that she responded to it pretty much blows mutual respect out of the water, in my honest opinion. So we'll probably never speak again, each taking pride in not having to stoop that low for a date. I still have her phone number saved in my cell phone, but I can't imagine a circumstance where I'd dial it. Drunk dialing is not an option for me, since I never get drunk.

That leaves me still out on an island where I can't see Laurie and I have to wait for her to decide to contact the island and let me know that she still wants me in her life since I can't contact her. One problem is that I had heard from her so infrequently that I made the decision to put that personal ad out there not as a piece on the side in addition to her, but as a way of looking for a piece period. I really don't see how I could be "cheating" on Laurie since there has been no agreement of exclusive dating, simply a request by her a while ago to inform her if I do get with someone. So that's what I did. I called Laurie at work the day of my date with Crystal, and I calmly told her that I was (or so I thought) hanging out with a chick that night and watching football with her that weekend. Her response: Sort of a laughing, nervous accusation that I was fooling around behind her back. My response: Sort of a nervous, laughing denial that I had anything but honorable intentions. She actually apologized the next day through IM for thinking that I was going to get some, before she found out from me that Crystal and I didn't meet and that I didn't get any. But I'm still very, very confused. If Laurie and I are an exclusive item, she sure acts funny for someone that's supposed to be my girlfriend. I never hear from her. I can't come see her anytime I want. I was prepared to go last weekend, and I told her this as early as last Monday, but she told me that instead of the weekend that her niece's house and boat would be available to us, she would rather me come up this coming weekend because she had a chance to work overtime last weekend. If this weekend comes, and a) she gives me another excuse why I can't come, or b) I don't hear from her at all, that's about the end of my patience. For good. Crystal or any other backup plan be damned. Enough is enough.

As for the rest of my life...the job still sucks, although I'm no longer seated next to the woman with B.O., but now we are tallying our output upon orders from the vice-president every day despite a worldwide acknowledgement that the system we use slows down drastically or completely crashes every time the full number of computers is in use...the classes are going ok, I just turned in a paper for social science and breezed through a quiz for lit today...I won the Central Division for the second year in a row in the franchise mode of MVP Baseball for PlayStation2 (but I play the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs), and my Madden team started 3-0...a woman from Connecticut I've never met but I've had phone sex with a couple of times keeps calling me and telling me how much she'd like to meet me (not gonna happen)..."Torrie" told me that she needed to change things for some unknown reason, so she's now blonde...and I've at least taken advantage of not having anyone to make out and watch football with by working overtime hours the last two Saturdays. I'd like to, you know, hang out with someone who cares for me like a normal human instead of going to a place I hate immensely, but that's not an option. They relaxed a lot of their silly little rules because it's the weekend, however, so I was able to work with headphones on, and it made things much more enjoyable because I was able to do what I am very, very comfortable with doing: Isolate myself from everyone else in this cruel world and be all by myself. I'm way too used to it, but I seem to be powerless to change it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


No big political or social vent, just plain old-fashioned stank. Had to sit next to a woman for EIGHT HOURS today who smelled worse than street bums. And she liked to exhale long and hard and often cause she thought she was working so hard, and every time she stood up or exhaled I thought I was going to pass out. I mean we sang every funk song we could think of, "Git The Funk Out Ma Face" by Brothers Johnson, "Bustin Out" by Rick James ("We're busting out on some serious FUNK..."), "Make It Funky" by the Godfather...and she didn't get it at all, just kept blabbing away about her seven cats or some shit. Just nasty. And just to fuck with me, I bet they put her there again tomorrow right next to me. The lesson of the story, kids: You shouldn't have to hand out clothespins for people to put on their noses just to sit next to you. AAARRRGGH!!

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Fellow Temp's Sympathy

My workplace has a reputation. Last week I described to my literature teacher the circumstances of my job--shitty people, ignorant higher-ups who don't know what the fuck's going on, one person telling you one thing and someone else telling you the exact opposite--and apparently I was overheard. Ten minutes ago, when I left said lit class, a classmate who I've never met before stopped me in the hallway and asked if I still was dealing with the crappy temp job. I said yes, and it's getting worse. He told me that he's had success and better jobs with his temp agency, Lakeshore. I told him that we have some Lakeshore people working with us. Then he startled me by saying, "You're not at CEDA, are you?" I sheepishly smiled and showed him my CEDA badge, which he couldn't have previously seen because I put that thing deep in my pocket when I come to school because I'm embarrassed by it. He informed me that he used to work for CEDA in a prior temp position (probably the exact same one I'm doing, now that I think about it) and that was why the job sounded so familiar when I described it. But I never said where it was or who by name I was with. This random guy out of the blue simply heard a description of a really fucked-up gig and figured that it must be CEDA. How pathetic is that? Well, I told him what I told my temp agency, Smart Resources, when I went there to drop off my timesheet last Friday--if they can find me another job, let me know ASAP. I'm ready to get out of there already. And to think, this is only the beginning of the week. God, please, just kill me now.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Short post today, I'm tired. Not only am I still adjusting to working every day, but Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I came to work at 7A, meaning I woke up just after 5A all of those days. Showering when it's dark outside is not fun. Hell, it actually reminded me of Saturdays showering before I left the house at 5P a couple of winters ago to take a Metra train to Kenosha, WI, to date this girl named "Karen" that I was crazy about. Bad flashbacks. Not all bad, actually; we had some fun back when I thought she was an honest person, and she was the first woman I dated since becoming an adult, so that was significant. I'm rambling. Anyway, CEDA kept bouncing schedules and telling us one thing and then another, and that's why we wound up working at 7A. They told us all to come in Wednesday from 7A to 3:30P, the same eight hours that we agreed to when we were hired but at a different time. But when we showed up Wednesday, they tried to say that now they wanted us to stay until 5P, which would be a ten-hour workday. Most people stayed just to get the extra money, but I had classes Wednesday, and I was already beat, so I lied and told them that I had an appointment at school scheduled and I had to leave at 3:30 like we were told we could. Again, just the principle of the thing. I'm not agreeing to shit like staying longer hours when there's nothing in it for me. A bonus and/or a possible promotion, sure. The same bullshit payrate we're getting anyway? Fuck no. When I came back Thursday, my co-workers told me that at the end of the day Wednesday, everyone was given a choice of working 7A to 3:30P or 8:30A to 5P. Having more time after work to set up my fantasy football teams was more important than sleep, so I decided to come in at 7A yesterday. But I'm leaning towards taking the original 8:30A-5P shift next week. Waking up that early is just ungodly.

So I was sitting on the can earlier starting to feel sorry for myself again. I wasn't supposed to be home this weekend; "Laurie" targeted this weekend a while back as the weekend she would come meet me for the first time, and I was going to rent a room downtown because I'd rather not host her at my small, dingy apartment. But she told me Monday that she wouldn't be able to come because she's still having trouble finding a place to live, and her money is short again, so short that her phone has been cut off, and her father in Florida is sick and she might have to go there. She also said that I could come see her in Detroit, but if she's still staying at her niece's house in a couple of weeks, I might want to wait until then because her niece will be out of town and we could stay there on her niece's boat. She told me on IM Monday night that she would talk to her sister and niece that evening and figure out exactly what's going to happen this weekend and she would let me know. That's the last time I've heard from her, but she has been posting messages at the MSN site where we met all week, so she has computer access at her job, she just hasn't seen fit to e-mail me and let me know what the fuck is going on. So I'm feeling down, thinking that I could be there with her this weekend but I'm not, and I could be hanging out with a Mexican hottie at work that is a sports fan and loves the White Sox and wants to make football picks with me (um, can you say my dream woman???) and is single and lives not far from me, but it's up to her if she wants to hang with me because I gave her my phone number but she hasn't called, and I could be hanging out with friends but I don't have any, and I could be getting ready to go to the club tonight and find some companionship there, except I have zero confidence that I would have any it's going to be another weekend all alone watching sports and getting fatter. Woe is me, cry, whimper, cry...and then a thought bubble came over my head that said, "Hey, you can catch a flight to New Orleans and see what tough living is REALLY all about." So there's a little perspective. Whatever I'm doing this weekend, it's lonely, it's pathetic...but as an alternative to being with a loved one, it's what I want to do. At least I have a choice of doing leisurely things. I don't have to pick up the pieces from a storm that ruined my life. I don't have to look for housing. I don't have to worry about not getting a paycheck due to my worksite being destroyed. I don't have to worry about my loved ones getting robbed or raped by hoodlums with no fear of police since they know the cops are busy with other tasks. I don't have to worry about the health risks of dead bodies floating in the water, contaminating everything with E.coli and other bacteria. How sad to think about what's going on down there. I've never been to New Orleans, but I worked with a couple of guys who have attended Mardi Gras, and the stories and pictures they had made me vow to experience that town just once. It sounded like New Orleans was just one big party. A sports columnist who was there when a Super Bowl took place at the Superdome with his favorite team wrote an article wondering if New Orleans would ever be the same. If it won't, boy am I sorry I missed it. Here's hoping it will, not just for the future partying tourists like me but, most importantly, for the locals whose lives were uprooted.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Livin' For The Weekend

I am very tired as I sit here typing this entry. I had forgotten how hard it is to wake up early in the morning and, instead of lounging around in the bed until the urge to use the bathroom becomes immediate, have to get up and start my day. As a result, I was technically "late" my first two days on my new job. I showed up three to five minutes after the 8:30A starting time. Of course, it has not been a big deal yet because this place is so disorganized, we did absolutely, positively NO work our first two days, then lost the second half of yesterday to a crashed computer system. All I can say is, I now understand why there was practically no interview process when I went to the agency that hired me for this job Monday. They just want warm bodies. You, the reader, could send a 4-year-old up there to bang around on the computer, and he or she would be asked if an actual paycheck would be fine or whether direct deposit would be preferred. (And the agency failed to tell me that they were charging a $1 processing fee for direct deposit--I read it on the brochure way after the fact--or else I may not have chosen that option.)

As I said, I was a few minutes late arriving for my first day Wednesday, but I caught the group of temp workers as they headed up one flight of stairs from the 19th floor, where we were told by our temp agency to come, to the 20th floor. Once there, we were led into a snazzy-looking conference room, where we sat in stone silence for about a half-hour. Someone named Janet informed us that the training materials were still being worked on and that we would start training shortly. But we would not be trained for the data entry position that we all thought we were there for.

My attempt at a brief description of what this place does: It's called CEDA, and I don't remember what it stands for, nor do I give a fuck. It's located on the 19th and 20th floors of the Federal Reserve Bank building, 208 S. LaSalle, a block and a half from CBOE, my place of employment for ten years. It's a place that gives out assistance to low-income and disabled people in Chicago. They have two programs. One is called a cooling program for people who don't want to go through a Chicago summer without power. The counter to that, the heating program, just started this past Thursday, September 1, and will last through the end of December. In both cases, people who want assistance provide proof of income, proof of Social Security numbers for everyone in the household, proof of disability if they're disabled, and a current energy bill, and those that fit whatever the requirements are receive credit directly to their People's Energy and/or Commonwealth Edison accounts. I only put the monthly income into the little boxes on the computer, I have no idea what the cutoff is as far as how much income is too much.

At least that's what my job is supposed to be. This place is tremendously understaffed, which was punctuated by the several long periods my temp group had sitting in the conference room or the lunchroom waiting for someone to come speak to us about the importance of the program, which is all they could do because, since the computers were not ready, we couldn't do any actual work. But when Janet finally finished preparing our training packets, she explained that we were being trained to do intake, which means we were being shown how to take the applications of those wanting assistance, which is not what we were hired to do. She explained that some people may be asked to do intake instead of data entry, and of the twenty or so temp workers in the conference room on Wednesday, she was even taking two of us with her to the emergency intake area, which is where people who have not paid their energy bills for so long that they have been cut off go to bitch and moan about such lovely things as why they can't get assistance because their proof of income is not acceptable. (One woman was chosen to go to emergency because she spoke some Spanish; I don't know who else was chosen, but I was doing data entry yesterday with everyone else, so thankfully it wasn't me.) Janet also explained that we had to pay attention to the intake process because we needed to know what to look for to verify the applications before we put them into the computer to be processed. That's what made up the bulk of the training packet--different examples of paychecks, Social Security proof, official income all seemed like a lot for temp data entry workers to have to learn, and it was. We learned from other temp workers that worked there before that this was the first year that they were asking data entry clerks to verify before they entered the applications; verifiers in the past were separate workers, and the data entry clerks would receive the apps only after they had been verified. So they combined those two jobs this year to save a buck, presumably. Hey, they can't get too upset with me screwing a file up while I try to verify it; they only gave me a two-hour training session on what to look for, and not only that, but many scenarios came up yesterday when I actually received some apps to put into the computer that were not covered in the training, and it was hard to find anyone in charge to ask what to do because they were all busy running around performing other tasks. And even then, some advice from those "in charge" was different than what other people "in charge" advised.

Then there's the flak over hours. Janet, who's not really in charge of anything but was our trainer so she tried to tell us what she thought was going to be the deal, said that 8:30A to 5P sounded correct, which is what we were told by the temp agency, Smart Resources. Everyone else that spoke to us, even the vice-president, a Botox-looking blonde, said not so fast, it all depends on what kind of production was happening and what was desired. Vice-president means only one person in the whole organization is over you, right? So you should know small things, like, I don't know, what hours and days we're working. But when I asked her as late as 10A yesterday morning if we were working Monday, Labor Day, she told me that she didn't know and that there should be an answer to that question hopefully by midday. About an hour later, a woman who spoke to us Wednesday and was recognized as someone employed full-time by CEDA but who isn't really in charge of anything announced to us while we attempted to do our best to enter these boxes and boxes of apps that, according to the vice-president, we were being told to work longer hours today (Friday), until 10P(!), and that we were to come to work the next day, Saturday, from 10A to 4P, and that all of this was "mandatory." I laughed. CEDA does not employ me. Smart Resources does, and they told me 8:30A to 5P Mondays through Fridays when I was hired. I knew that I was leaving at 5P and that I wasn't showing up Saturdays, no matter what CEDA thought, and I knew that if they had a problem with it, they would have to speak to Smart Resources about it. A fellow temp worker actually called Smart Resources and confirmed over the phone that 8:30A to 5P was as long as we had to stay there. CEDA passed around two sheets of notebook paper, one for how long people were going to be able to stay Friday on such short notice, and one for how many hours people would commit to the "mandatory" Saturday workday. I put down 8:30A to 5P for myself on the Friday paper. I didn't put my name on the Saturday paper at all.

My thing was this: CEDA seemed to be so hungry for bodies that they would walk all over and ignore someone's special requests if that someone tried to be cooperative and give them extra hours. And I don't have Mondays and Wednesdays to give them because my college classes are at 5:30P on those days. So I'm not going to cooperate at all. It's the principle of the thing. They don't need to know that I had extra hours to give them yesterday and today. They appear to be the type to take advantage of the knowledge that I have no life and I have extra hours to give them. And if I allow them to take advantage of me on such short notice once or twice, then I run the risk of them assuming that I can do that for them at any time. I don't want to tell them about my school hours because then they can assume that I'll be available to them for all other hours, and that's my time to chill. I am not giving these people 60 or 70 hours a week. They don't seem to be the type to appreciate it. And because they don't employ me, I don't have to. There's countless single mothers in there as temp workers that have to run home and take care of their kids. They don't have those hours to give. But it's okay because they were irresponsible and fooled around and got knocked up, so let them go, they have to take care of the little ones. But because I'm responsible and I'm not having kids until I get married, I should suffer and take the extra hours? FUCK THAT. Pretend I'm a slut that got knocked up and I have to go home when I was told I could go home, at 5P like I agreed to when I took the damn job. Pretend that I don't have extra hours to give because my choice of a baby daddy is an asshole who was hot when I met him at the club, but he doesn't give a fuck about the kids, so I gotta run and get them at the time that I said I would because he won't. Do not punish me because I chose not to have those responsibilities until I was ready. And anyone who takes offense to that can go to hell along with their baby daddy.

The Botox blonde vice-president was not there to annouce these new hours, but the woman announcing them said that these orders came from the vice-president, which made them mandatory. She did say that Monday was a national holiday and that the place would be closed, but I just know that if the place were open it would be "mandatory" that we would be there for that as well. Whatever this woman was in charge of, she was also the person to go to in the morning and evening to sign in and out. But it was a long day for her yesterday, so long that when those of us who intended to leave at 5P lined up to sign out, she eventually yelled, "Everyone just go! I'll sign all of you out! Just go!" What would worry me about that is, if I'm staying after 5P, how can I be sure that she didn't sign me out as leaving at 5P, robbing me of my extra hours of salary? Is everyone that didn't sign out at whatever time they left going to be assumed as leaving at 5P? And if that's the case, what would have stopped me from leaving at 10A if I'm being signed out at 5P? That's the kind of place this is--poorly run, disheveled, desperately in need of people who care about such things as organization and order. As for the mandatory Saturday, literally seconds before we 5P'ers left, the skinny white woman in charge of the data entry area announced that the computer problems that resulted in no processed applications by me the last three hours I was there were going to be worked on all weekend by the programmers in downstate Springfield, and as a result, working Saturday was not only not mandatory but not an option anymore. Enjoy the three-day weekend after all. By the way, I can't label the girl in charge of the sign-in books as the tall, tattooed black girl because there are many tall, tattooed black girls working for CEDA, some of them in "supervisor" roles. Take that for what it's worth.

Some other points of interest about my new workplace:

  • Someone in charge of giving all of us temp workers our own user I.D.s and passwords for when we log on to the computers took all of our names down for that purpose Thursday afternoon, but we still didn't have our own I.D.s yesterday, so we were all signing in using the I.D.s and passwords of people that were employed by CEDA but happened to be absent yesterday. I was Adam Grenier along with about four others. They better get our own I.D.s ready soon; how else will they keep up with the 100 apps that each of us is expected to process per day according to Janet?

  • This goofy fat black guy who's dressed every day in shorts even though the dress code is supposed to be business casual came into the conference room late Thursday asking all of the men to volunteer to show up at 7A Friday to help move boxes. He heard Janet talk about me, Andre, being one of the men in the room, and noticing that I was big, he waddles over to me and puts his hand on my shoulder and bellows, "Well Andrew here can show up I'm sure." I looked him right in the eye and said, "I can. But I won't." That made the room chuckle. That was an easy decision for me to make. I could make a lot of money as a mover, more than the shitty $10/hr I'm getting now. But I'm not a mover. That same goofy guy was in charge of taking everyone's pic for their I.D.s a few hours earlier. Some hot girl had her pic taken right before me, and he was so busy staring her ass down as she left that he didn't even notice me line up for my pic. When he finally did look at me and my expressionless face, he lined up the shot and muttered, "There's always one." I have no idea if that was referring to the hot girl or my ugly mug, but if he was talking about me, he had absolutely no room to talk. He walked into the lunchroom where everyone had been funneled after the pics were taken and informed a white fellow temp guy that his name was illegible, and when the guy rewrote his name, the goofball checked it out and, satisfied, raised a fist and told the white guy, "Peace out" and left. I stuck up a fist and sarcastically yelled out, "Word to your mother," eliciting another laugh from the room. Yes, I'm getting a kick out of being the class clown. No, I don't like the goofball black dude.

  • The men's room...what can I say. It's a motherfucking 10K run to get to it. You have to go out the door, make a left, go down a hallway that's only about 30 feet long, no biggie, then make another left and go down a hall that seems to be a city block long, and I'm not exaggerating. You also need a key from the front desk to get in, and all day yesterday, that key was missing. The women's bathroom is right outside the door. I made the walk twice yesterday without a key. What did I think was going to happen when I got there? I don't know, maybe I thought I could magically make a key appear with my mind? Maybe I hoped the door would be unlocked? Maybe since I couldn't go to the women's bathroom, I just went to the men's room with no plan whatsoever and hoped for the best? Anyway, it worked out both times. Someone with his own private key who worked for one of the other businesses on the floor happened to be standing there the first time, and he opened it for me. The second time, someone was already in there and I caught the door as he left and snuck in. The toilets are not made of gold. The building is very accessible, to be sure, but it's the 20th floor. It's not like bums are going to pass the word to go to this place on the 20th floor that has great bathrooms. Why the fuck does there have to be a lock?

At least I got some good news financially this week. My financial aid could be processed by the end of the month, meaning I could get reimbursed for my classes. That's assuming that they accept my declaration for my income this year, which did not include the severance I got from CBOE. I actually intended to show them that severance check stub and hope for the best, but that stub got caught between my notebooks when I took them out of my bag before Thursday, and I didn't discover that it was missing before I went to the school, so I just decided to lie and tell them that I had declared all of this year's income instead of having to come back up to the financial aid office at a later date. I don't know if they have a way of finding out that I was lying, but I do know that the woman processing me almost gave me a heart attack by bringing up the $2,000 I have in my savings account, which she knew because it came up on her screen when she tried to send my application through. Guess I'll find out what they know soon enough. Cassandra met me Thursday morning and gave me $200 of the $1,500 she owes me. I called her Wednesday and arranged to meet her outside my new workplace at lunch, but she managed to miss me even though I weigh about 6,192 pounds, and I wound up burning my entire half-hour lunch standing outside. But on my lunch break Thursday I called a dude who owes me $500 from a football bet and still works at CBOE, and when he met me he had $300 in cash waiting for me. My man. I didn't even ask him for money on such short notice, all I asked him was to come down and meet me outside CBOE so we could talk. And he hit me with a roll of bills as soon as he saw me. And the coup-de-grace: The fare box was broken on the bus home yesterday! I saved $1.75! (It's the little things in life.)

This weekend makes two straight cancellations by women who wanted to meet me for the first time. Last weekend, a Latina from Boston came to Chicago to go to court for child support, and she wanted to have someone who knew the city to hang out with. But we never exchanged phone numbers, and she didn't e-mail me once she got here. Then this weekend, a redhead from Seattle who briefly lived in Aurora was going to visit a friend on the south side, and she wanted to meet me, so I was going to stay at my uncle's last night and hang out with her today. But the last time I spoke to her was Thursday, and at the time she expressed doubt that she was going to make the drive due to the astronomically high gas prices. Next weekend is supposed to be the big meeting between me and "Laurie." But I haven't heard from her in a couple of days. That has me very nervous, but even if I do hear from her and confirm that she is still coming, I no longer have the free time that I thought I was going to have. I actually have a job. So my planning of things like hotel accommodations and activities will have to be very crisp, no wasted motion. Can't I get online at work and plan these things, you ask? This balding, weasly white guy was asked by Janet during intake training whether he agreed with previous assessments of the validity of a paycheck, and he said he did. When she asked why, he actually said the following words: "I'm taking a gamble that the people before me guessed right." Janet is a nice girl, but she didn't take kindly to that. This same guy sat there surfing the net (I clearly saw the Yahoo home page on his screen from where I was sitting) once the system crashed yesterday, prompting the tattooed black girl in charge of the sign-in books to come running up and announce to everyone that surfing the net is not allowed and that the IT guys downstairs can tell when someone's on the net and that you'll get a warning about it once if you're caught, but the second time would probably be your last day. So that's why I won't be getting on the internet at any time during my tenure at this job. But now that I think about it, if they still don't have our own user I.D.s for us by Tuesday, how would they know who's surfing the net? If they can tell by user I.D., well, I was Adam Grenier yesterday, but so were a bunch of other people. If they can tell by computer IP number, if you can't tell exactly who's on what computer, unless I'm caught red-handed by someone, how can you say that it was me on that specific computer surfing the net? It could have been anyone. It's just one more example of how completely screwed up this place is. The next four months are going to be absolute torture. Call it a hunch.