Now what the hell is this?

So on a whim last night, I went to Kerbey Lane after improv to meet up with Ryan. And who should be our server but Julia, a rather peculiar girl who had quit NI about three months before I did. How to describe Julia? Well, she looks much more at home working Kerbey Lane than National Instruments, that’s for damn sure. I described her as “Dread Locks” to the people who didn’t know her.

So we swapped war stories about our last days at NI, how we’d each been given a good talking-to by our superiors and finally shown the door, which we’d each accepted graciously.

My two-second version of the story is this: got in trouble for shoddy work, which was true; made a tremendous effort to improve myself, which was at first successful; realized about a week into the endeavor that I was putting a hell of a lot of effort into something I didn’t want to be doing; realized shortly after that that getting off my boss’s shit list was going to be all but impossible; and walked out the door on September 11, 2002 so willingly that I could barely feel their collective shoe brushing against my ass.

The important detail is this: though I was more than willing to quit, I had a genuine desire to stay for another two weeks and wrap up my projects, so they wouldn’t get plunked into the laps of my coworkers, whom I liked and respected. The bosses said no, you’re going to go home this very afternoon. I was irked; the only thing I REALLY regretted about quitting was that plunking.

End of anecdote. Now, here’s the kicker: Julia had heard the version of the story that my coworkers had received from my boss Heather. Something along the lines of:

“I heard that you’d been offtered the chance to stay and work on your problems, but that you just quit on the spot, and they were shocked.”


That is almost precisely the opposite of what happened. That’s not just a spin on the situation. That’s a lie. I could not believe it. I’d encountered some more-than-serious problems with corporate America up until that point last night; now my innocence is broken. There is probably not a corporation on earth that wouldn’t sponsor just that sort of lie to foist some bllame on the disgraced former employee. Now I know generally how things work.

Another thing occurred to me recently: I had this theory that there wasn’t such a thing as an evil corporation – just a bunch of good people doing their jobs, all of which added up to an evil result. Now I’m not so sure; I think there really are people – and not just filthy rich executives – who would cover their own asses, just like Heather seems to have covered hers. How sad.

What odd things eyebrows are.

Humans in general aren’t the model of sensical design. Efficient, I guess – after all we can use complex tools and play football – but what is up with those eyebrows? Isn’t there a better way to keep rain out of one’s eyes? And what is so cool about standing upright? Give me extendable necks any day of the week, pal.

So I realized with a shock that I’m in the middle of a 14-day string of work days. Last Sunday I did 8 hours of overtime; yesterday and today it was four more hours each; next Saturday I volunteered to switch with a guy in exchange for the following Thursday. Oy. The good news is I’m holding up alright, especially since overtime is rather easy to justify. Here’s my mental exercise: at 12 bucks an hour, before taxes, I’m earning the equivalent of one penny every three seconds. So I imagine someone standing by my desk the whole time I’m there and tossing a penny into my jar: clink…clink…clink… When I’m working overtime, it’s a penny every TWO seconds. clink clink clink. Even more satisfying, especially when a customer hangs up on me at the getting-the-serial-number part of the call, as one did today.

I take that back. I’d rather have them hang up than trudge my way through a bad-attitude sort of call. I’ve been miraculously blessed with a dearth of pissy customers, and I’d just as soon keep that streak going. Now if I could just figure out Airport and DSL.

Reading about D-Day. Wishing for a bit of moral certitude, as the boys did on the beaches of Normandy (us good, them bad). This is probably why I’m developing this informal World War II phase; modern life is just too damn confusing. …But then, seeing as how terrible war really is, I suppose sitting in bed with my dog and a laptop is well worth the confusion.

One of those nights…

Where I feel electric, like a sugar rush of life. No real reason; heck, maybe it’s just the gummi bears. But then I’ve always counted the meaning as more important than the cause.

At any rate, times like these I should be a little grateful – should remember that my inexplicable love for life is as much of a blessing – more, if you think about it – than the life itself. Who cares if I’ve got a red Jetta? Here’s the real gift: the world sucks and I love being here anyway. Good Lord. Now I know how ditzes feel.

I expect my mood will not be so exuberant when the alarm goes off at 7 tomorrow.

This won’t be interesting to…well, anyone.

Which is true of most of this stuff, but then nobody’s really reading it, blah blah blah…ya know what, I will hereby no longer make any goofy apologies for the shyte I write here.

It was a day of two halves for Kevin the tech support agent. Before lunch I was Kev the tech support bad-ass: 14 calls in three hours. I RULE! After lunch – get this – seven calls in FIVE hours. Good Lord. It was like a tour of things I had no idea about: PostScript printing, the OS X Mail application, fax software, blah blah blah…oy. The plus is that I handled an Airport base station hard-reset decently well, though I now know for sure that the things take ten minutes at the minimum. Oh well, that’s better than 20 or 30 minutes. Even so, in certain calls this afternoon I felt like it was my first day. Vantive being down, and Tier 2 being in a meeting for over an hour, didn’t help one little bit.

The job so far goes in fits and spurts like this. Which is better than tech writing, I guess – that was one big blah – though you have to get used to the whole up and down thing. I’m taking a positive tack thus far, looking at every incoming call as a chance to be a tech support rock star. Let’s hope I AM one before my resolve runs out.

Speaking of which, today I printed out the application for permanent Apple employment (“badging,” in the biz). One of the questions took me aback, and was something I’d never seen before: “Could you have remained in the employ of the company, if you so desired?” The answer for NI is an unequivocal No. I was invited to resign. Ordered to resign. They did the resigning for me. Firing without the whole “firing” stigma. You get the idea.

So that put me in a sour NI flashback mode, realizing that no, my awful tech writing days are not entirely behind me. …Nor should they be, I realized upon further reflection; I don’t get to just set NI in a box and never think of it again. And despite my initial thoughts to the contrary, I’ll check “No” on that fateful question and start work on my, uh, positioning statements for the possible interview. Will that little yes/no question keep me from getting a job? Quite possibly. But that’s what happens in life, and you can’t fudge it.

You know what I miss about NI? The deli sandwiches in the cafeteria. Those thingies were some tasty tasty grub. It’s scary to realize that at least one place in the world – the NI cafeteria – is a place I will never, never visit again. Of course I’m a big softie, so maybe I’ll make one of my Cliftonian nostalgic trips in 10 years or so, when no one there cares about me any more. (I suspect that may already be the case.)

Been chasing the dog around

Lola and I have this figure-eight that we follow through the living and dining room; around the dining table in one direction, then around the coffee table in the other. Can’t reverse course or we’ll careen into each other on Lola’s next pass. Actually my route is something of a simple back-and-forth, just enough to make Lola THINK she’s being followed the whole time.

Starting to get the idea of this whole Weblog concept; each of us, as spoiled Americans, has every day thoughts – perhaps several, perhaps hundreds – that we would LOVE to share with the world. Maybe a funny joke that only we heard. Maybe a selfish bit of introspection or philosophy that most people wouldn’t bring up in standard party conversation.

Either way, we’re stuck with these things; the dorkier, less socially adept people will find ways to awkwardly slide them into conversations where they don’t really flow. I remember Zach Ritter, in 8th grade English class, would occasionally repeat jokes aloud if he didn’t think the first go-round got enough of a response. It’s like the grown-up version of that.

I won’t bore the nonexistent readers with an example of my own; too tired for that. I’m just saying this: the Weblog is the perfect venue for this shit. The place where we can spout off things that anyone COULD read, even if nobody actually DOES read them. That doesn’t quite matter. It’s a diary as performance art, even if we’re playing to an empty house. Turns the whole thing into a sport.

Ready, hike.

My day planner has returned. It is invincible.

Every time I become convinced the day planner is gone forever, it returns. I will never doubt again. Next time Mr. Day Planner vanishes, I’ll be like a parent with a missing child: “It will come back…”

And now for a story.

In December of 2000, or so, I visited my sister with Dad in New York City. It was my first time in this massive massive city, and I was rather intimidated, and quite determined to keep my head on and not lose anything.

I left the backpack containing my CDs, toiletries, and day planner on the subway from LaGuardia to Manhattan. Just left it. It was gone. Gone gone gone. I had thought previously that my day planner was invincible, but when I realized I’d left my backpack on the subway, I thought I had met my match: the MTA.

Oh, me of little faith…within TWO HOURS a homeless man of some sort had called my sister’s dorm room in Chinatown saying he had my bag. The next morning my dad met this guy in the Bronx and and retrieved the bag for the ransom of $20. The day planner was secure.

Now that I’ve repeated this story, I realize what a putz I was for thinking it was lost at the BANK. Never again will I doubt my trusty day planner.

The caveat to the story is this: indeed my day planner DID fall in battle, to my brand new dog Lola, after I’d had her less than a month. My opinion is that she was systematically destroying everything in the house that might have competed for my love: in the very same week, she chewed on my beloved (and trademark) black hat. Fortunately, I had a spare day planner from one of my earlier lost-planner scares, so it took up the yoke. However, this one is irreplaceable; it must not get lost. And it won’t.

Where is my day planner??!!!

And why is neither “despondent” nor “panicked” a word in the emotions list? And what the hell does exanimate mean??

Other than the missing day planner, which contains virtually irreplaceable bits of paper from years back in addition to my checkbook, my current crisis is figuring out what to do with my mornings. See, I don’t work until 10:30, which leaves me with the potential for a couple of productive daytime hours before heading in for another fun day of tech support. But it’s the same routine: every morning I wake up around 8, decide I have nothing important to do, and snooze for another hour or so.

Is this a bad thing? Do I need another hobby to wake me up? Working out, maybe? I hate the idea of burning daylight, especially when it’s nighttime by the time I leave work. Hmph. AND I have to edit these papers for a Japanese exchange student named Rie. At least I’m pulling $2.50 a page.

Just buy a Mac, dammit

I think that as of late, capitalism as we know it has been showing its age; most visibly in this whole corporate-scandal thing, and the post-9/11 reexamination of America’s position in the world. But also, at work. Here’s the thing: Apple makes superior products to almost any other computer company, yet we can’t gain market share. There’s something wrong with that, you know? People won’t just buy the superior thing; they stick with what they know. Does capitalism allow for that?

Must poop dog. One moment.

There’s something nice about walking outside in your socks. Just the fact that you’re too wound down to put your shoes on adds, pleasantly, to the wound-down-ness. Tonight my feet ended up a little cold, but it wasn’t so bad – not having shoes on was worth it.

Hmm. I didn’t really have anything important to say tonight. Just wanted to type, I suppose. I suppose it belies my generation that typing is at least as relazing as writing. You just miss out on the whole handwriting thing.

Argh – out of milk!

Why is Confident not a mood?

Fine, let’s go with “chipper.”

Bolstered mostly by a rock-em-sock-em 25-call day today, I’m feeling groovy as to my current job at Apple. This is also reinforced, however coldly, by the fact that some of my coworkers are fed up with the whole tech support gig. You know I think I’m cut out for this sort of thing? What with the whole Mr. Patient thing and all. I hear people speaking harshly into the phone and I wait for those calls to hit me. Except they don’t.

Perhaps on very, very rare occasions; there was that guy who asked to talk to my supervisor within 2 minutes of me picking up the phone. People watch too much TV. What does “let me speak to your supervisor” mean, anyway? Some perception that he/she will get the job done quicker? Mostly an ego battle with the techie, i.e. me, I suppose. Fortunately I’m ready for that. This might help me deal with kids, come to think of it.

Ya know, my dog can be mighty stupid sometimes, but when I ask her “Want some food,” she always knows EXACTLY what I’m talking about. Second place: “Wanna see Mommy?” I have no idea if she gets the same reaction from “Wanna see Daddy?” Is there a way to test this?

Last night I was running improv scenes in my head instead of sleeping. I think my hobby is too high pressure! At one point – and this doesn’t happen often, I hope – I leapt out of bed into my darkened room, ready to begin acting out a scene. Hell, I may have even said a couple of words to the blank wall before recovering, reminding myself in rather harsh terms that I was NOT at an improv show (thankfully, due to my underdressed state), and returning to bed. This can’t be healthy.

And then, inspired perhaps by my little memory diary project, I had an even more unhealthy dream: that Olivia and I were together, spending one last day together – at a shopping mall, that minor symbol of juvenile peer pressure – before she returned to her husband. The weird part of the dream is this: she was holding my hand, and it FELT like her hand. Olivia always held my hand in a certain way, firmly from fingers to palm, letting me know that I was NOT getting away. How very possessive of her. How tragic to recall. On top of that, I smelled her in the dream. Why do women have to smell so good? Is it just the perfume and body wash? I think not.

I’d had a minor debate with myself as to whether the memory diary should include bad memories. Suddenly I suspect there’s not too much difference between good and bad. I woke up and realized ouch, no one has held my hand like that since then – since I was 18.