In Dreams

Last night I woke from a dream that took place in the conference room of my old office. Variants of the old office have become one of my standard dream locations. The oddities of what becomes and does not become a dream setting, or influence on dream settings, is the topic of what might become a rambling post.

In the dream that inspired the discussion, I was back there, years after the fact, with some other people I didn’t recognize. There was some problem we were going to fix for the big client that was the reason for the office being where it was. I checked with them that I had the correct password. The rest centered on discussing terms, shades of Bronn, with two scruffy guys and a girl who seemed to speak for them; what they’d do, how they’d be compensated, and whether I’d actually be able to compensate them. Bottom line seemed to be that they’d risk a minor amount of work, but beyond the task at hand, forget it. Perhaps they wanted Highgarden.

The dream reminded me that it’s coming up on an amount of time since I was finished with the last of the last activity around closing that business that will equal the amount of time start to finish for the business. About three years total of the time for the business was before and after the office. I spent a lot of time there and it was pretty personal and distinctive.

It’s not normal for me to have dreams based at places where I worked. It has happened, but it’s been selective.

You would think that places where I spent a lot of time, especially formative time, would be prominent. Places I had no serious connection with or that were transient would not factor into dreams. That can be generally true. It’s just as true that some places appear out of proportion and others appear seldom or never despite being prominent. I have also dreamed completely fictional places that are as real in my memory, from dreams, as real ones.

The house where I grew up is naturally prominent. Often it’s the yard or other surroundings, including some of the outbuildings on the land around us. My father had his business just up the street. The original one was gone when I was 5, but is as likely to be what it is in a dream as any later location. The building that replaced it after a year or so doesn’t appear. That was gone relatively quickly. I sometimes dream about the temporary place where he did business in between. I don’t really dream about the final, longest lasting location that ought to be the most significant. That’s the location he sold when he moved on.

Second only to the house where I grew up is my maternal grandmother’s house. That most commonly appears melded into features of other houses. For instance, last week I faced out of my room in a dream. My room was a bedroom in that house, but the part I was facing was somewhere else. Perhaps the most identifiable other house that is part of dreams now and then is my old friend Zack’s childhood home, razed a number of years ago, but before that one of the oldest in the town. Places of influence include my great grandmother’s house, my aunt’s house that had been my great aunt’s before that, a rest home or something I visited once to see a great aunt, Daphne’s house, Kara’s house, and the home of a family we visited a couple times when I was little. That last is significant because my older brother would later have an enduring crush on one of the girls in that family.

The most unexpected is the shack my father’s mother’s parents lived in, barely in my early memories, visited once or twice when I was at most 4. Dreams set there owe more to the woodsy location by water than to the exact building. The way the building appears is almost like a hobbit hole. It’s cozy, safe, and mostly a single room. Completely rustic.

That one borders on a purely fictional location, however inspired. There’s an actual fictional location that to my memories may as well be real. It’s a yellow house, in the trees on a sort of ridge line between sections of swamp, down a stretch of grassy fire road if you know it’s there. I want to put it in a book if I can, someday. In dreams, I spent time growing up there with my brother and sister. It recurred when I was young, even more often than having a forest fire in the woods across the street from my actual house recurred in dreams. I’d be out there trying to battle flames blazing up to tree crowns with a garden hose.

I used to have school dreams. Not based on the elementary school or high school. Mainly based on the junior high and later the college. Sometimes I’d have dreams in schools with odd architecture, like walkways along the walls of the outsides of the buildings, at second floor level. You’d enter up there. They’d connect to other buildings or ramp to the ground. No rails. Similar to dreams I had when i was a kid in which we’d ride through Boston on roads that ran along the sides of buildings, connected precariously to crumbling brick. The roads through the city now look a lot more like what I was dreaming than they did then, but obviously you’re not driving up flimsy ramps hooked to sides of old buildings.

My big stock location that draws inspiration from others but is not the same as any of the exactly is the giant, creaky old wooden house with endless rooms. The floors are sometimes thin to the point where it seems I’ll fall through. The rooms can be empty, or full of junk. If there are people in the house, usually I am on my own, whether looking for something, exploring, or going to my assigned room. If this building has a street location, it is usually on a street not far from Zack’s house, where something like it doesn’t really exist, and there’s no building I’ve been in.

A variant on that is at a house that is now owned by my cousin. It was owned by her father and, when they were still married, her mother, my father’s sister. Except in the dream it’s bigger, and centers around the cellar, with a rickety floor perhaps 20 feet above the cellar floor. The floor has gaps, ends abruptly, and is very thin. The fall seems deadly. There’s not really a way into the lower part of the cellar from the elevated area above it, which is apparently accessible from the house. In real life, the house is on a hillside sufficient that you walk into the cellar through a regular door at the back. It’s normal, though, with a normal set of stairs up to the main floor of the house. That dream is always terrifying.

Speaking of terrifying, I can never remember what it’s about or why I scream, but the one I commonly have set in the yard where I grew up ends with me screaming “Mom!” Out loud, as I wake up. I don’t know if I am screaming for her, or because of something she’s doing to me. I did have a version once that was inside the house and was definitely her doing something to harm me. Smothering me in my bed, as I recall. Weird.

I once dreamed about an alien stepping up to my car while I was driving around, delivering papers. Vivid. I drove off in a hurry. It had a threatening feel. On the other hand, I once traveled in a beam of light that acted like an elevator. I was going out toward Jupiter and a family of aliens who looked completely human were on there way to Earth when we paused for a brief, friendly chat before continuing in our respective directions. Inspiration from surroundings only goes so far.

Which reminds me I forgot to mention the point of places that never seem to register in dreams. At least, I don’t think I mentioned it. The place where I lived the third longest, in two separate stretches, has been notably absent from dreams, The one time it appeared was such a surprise I made a big deal of it. Somewhere I lived for 11 years doesn’t rate, but a place I visited once becomes part of the architecture of dream houses? Has to be age and impressionability of the brain.

Speaking of youth, perhaps the most significant dream I ever had was of my kids before I’d met their mother. I may already have told this story here. Oh well. I was in an amorphous, gray place where people wait to be. An area cleared into a strip of lawn, gray still swirling behind it. Three kids were there. They were a girl, a girl, and a boy, in that order, but in the dream they were already perhaps 6-8 years in age range. The two younger ones, obviously close, chased each other around playfully while the older one stood and addressed me sternly, chastising me about taking my time and keeping them waiting. Then they stood side by side before me, in what would be birth order. I don’t have a clear memory of exactly what they looked like, but their appearance, relative ages, and personalities as much as you could discern in that short time were close enough to the kids that were waiting in the wings that it was uncanny. As it turned out, the first of the kids was “impossible.” She was conceived at the earliest possible point when she could have been, as if in a rush.

Writing and Distractions

I’m flowing with writing ideas, and I see it as the only thing I want to do that I can see myself doing. I also see it as a way to make a living, maybe even a decent one, as I head into my old age and increasingly toward my actual underfunded retirement. As opposed to the state of semi-retirement I have occupied for eleven years for various reasons and circumstances. One of the reasons I’ve been blogging relatively heavily is to have that flow going, and to have at least some outlet for the urge to write. I’ve actually written for a living, in a sense, in the past. It’s just that was a role pioneering Microsoft’s web-based tech support in the nineties, rather than the traditional forms of writing you might picture.

The trouble is, I feel privileged if I am able to complete so much as a blog post without losing track of what I was saying due to interruption or distraction.

First, the wife – sometimes the kids, but 98% the wife – interrupts freely without regard to whether I may or may not be concentrating or in the middle of something. We are back to a closed door not mattering, let alone the “working” sign not working. The latter has been foiled by my forgetting ever to flip it from “Working” to “Miller Time” but then again I almost never like to be interrupted. It doesn’t matter if I am writing, working on a web site, doing the proverbial checkbook, reading, or watching something.

Second, myself. I’m on this computer, online, and even if internet is down, with solitaire playable on it. Worse, perhaps, last time I made a major attempt at book writing, I had to be online because I used Google Docs.

I don’t have the space to adopt Jerry Pournelle’s monk’s cell concept, with or without the computer there being online. It would create a clear “do not disturb” zone for others, and a psychological change for my own benefit.

As unimpressed as I’ve been with Martin’s writing, I love his idea of writing on a dedicated DOS computer using WordStar. My first major word processor was WordStar 5.0, on a 286 with DOS. One of the good DOS versions. I think it was 3.3, then I was fortunate to have my newer version be 5 and then 6. I missed the ones before 3.3, and the versions between that and 5, except in passing on computers that were not my own. I adored WordStar 5.0 and had many of the keystrokes memorized. While I was using that, I actually had the chance to try WordPerfect and thought it was about the worst thing ever. My roommate loved it. You could do fancier things if you had the time and inclination to learn how. To be fair, I didn’t need anything fancier than you can do in Windows Notepad. I eventually used others, most notably Ami Pro, which created the resume I used for getting the job doing tech support that, it turned out, was for Word 6 (and the earlier ones if anyone called). I had tried Word 2 and dismissed it before that, but I fell in love with Word 6. It helped to have had intensive training on it.

So I have three problems:

  1. I get distracted too easily, as if I have ADHD more than I ever would have credited.
  2. I get interrupted by others.
  3. I have technical and environmental issues that maximize distraction and hinder focus.

Another thought: I have been known to have trouble bringing myself to reread my stuff to revise [case in point: right here I got interrupted for about an hour, with the biggest component being the wife], edit, or rewrite. This fits well with a possible attack on the goal and problem that I am considering.

We have sometimes talked about my going camping all by myself as a solitary retreat, even for a night. This idea originated with the wife, oddly enough. It makes sense. Camping is the kind of thing I can afford. She doesn’t camp, unless you count the level of rustic involved in going to a friend’s cabin in the woods, using an outhouse or composting toilet, having no refrigeration and modest cooking facilities, and having electricity via a solar setup or generator. There’s hot water and a well. You pretty much have to use the generator to run the pump to fill the tank to have some showers. When we all went there last summer, it was ungodly hot and that was miserable. I spent a lot of time in a pond and that gave me a severe “swimmer’s ear” infection. We almost entirely ate restaurant food or stuff that needed neither cooking nor cooling.

Besides swimming if there’s a pond, walking in the woods with someone who appreciates it (myself), cooking campfire food for the only one who wants it, and reading a lot, that would be a chance to write.

On paper. Realistically, I’d have to write on paper. It’s hard enough to bring a Kindle or two and a phone, keep them charged if the duration is long enough to need it. To write I’d either have to do it on a Kindle or get something portable but bigger. Or use paper.

If I use paper, I can write anywhere. I can sit in a parking lot! I used to write handwritten letters that way. I could pointedly get out of the house, go sit somewhere and spew into a notebook. Not in the yard, since I’d have no peace there. I’d have one of the neighbors standing by the car talking my ear off. Or at the picnic table.

I’d need to get the stuff into electronic form later, and that would force me to read what I had written while transcribing. There would inevitably be at least minor edits and corrections in the process. This may be the part that pushes me hardest to do it.

Another thing I’ve concluded is that I need multiple ideas going at once. I flit too much between things. If the things I have for flitting between are different pieces of writing or planning on paper for stories, then I am more likely to get something done on some of it, rather than nothing on any. That isn’t tied to where I write and the mechanics of it. It’s tied to recognition of my own inability to focus indefinitely on one project without flagging or pursuit of a shiny thing.

I’ve sometimes wondered if I ought to dictate some of my writing. It strikes me as slow yet spontaneous. If I were to work at a modern computer, dictating could be an option for creating a version that needs serious editing. It might have enough of a different feel, revising that, to keep me from dragging my feet. There’s a… stigma, for lack of a better word… associated with speech to text dictation. I spent years supporting Dragon Naturally Speaking for a law firm. I also did a presentation in college – in 1984! – on the state of work being done on voice recognition technology. At the time, they thought they almost had it. Even Dragon was sketchy and got gradually better over several years in basically the early aughts. Now it’s pretty much a given that any voice will be recognized with reasonable to near perfect accuracy by a device, without training or speaking carefully. That’s massive computing power and AI for you. It’s how we have spy devices for our homes, able to understand what we say when we address them. But I digress.

If I get in the writing habit and work on the distraction and focus angle, so long as I have the ideas, this could work.

Something About You

So I’m back with the series of “favorite song by an artist” posts, prompted by a Boston song having played on my playlist and reminding me that they were one of the groups I’d thought of initially. In theory, this should be a terribly hard decision. There’s only one song on their entire debut album that I don’t like. At that, it’s more a matter of being lukewarm to it than disliking it. I can easily listen to that album start to finish and skip nothing. I never warmed to the other albums, or even heard anything off of anything past their third one. I love the one big hit off each of those two albums, but the real magic was the first. They were yet another one of those now classic rock bands that debuted when I was in high school, or within the few years just before and after. 1976, in their case, just before the start of tenth grade.

Despite how amazing they were, one song is a “my song” kind of song and thus makes this cut: Something About You. It’s me, except the guy found a girl eventually, but his combination of feeling too much and not wanting it to show, and his temper, sometimes mess things up. I’m shockingly mellow these days, but I always had the temper that ran through some of the men in my family. I didn’t tend to take it out on people, even if it was a result of people, but I had to learn not to break things I didn’t want to have to or couldn’t afford to replace, or come off looking foolish. I learned to keep that inside, along with other feelings.

In an unexpectedly astute moment many years ago, my stepmother noted that I hold things inside and, I forget how she put it, but essentially it did things like drive up my blood pressure. It always drove the wife crazy that I won’t fight. She’ll do that almost for sport or fun. The last time my temper peaked was probably around eight to ten years ago, give or take a bit. That was the point at which it became a three way thing with her seeing another guy while we stayed together for the kids and stability. The other guy waxed and mostly waned subsequently, but she tenaciously waxed it recently. Even though it’s water under the bridge and it’s weird to imagine there ever being an actual relationship between us again, it has reminded me how my temper can be. But I digress into something way longer and more personal than intended as the intro for the song. And yes, that all related to why and how she came to tell me, more than once, how easy it would be for me to find people to get laid with. I find that laughable, of course, given how long and convoluted it was to get her, finally, at the age of 42.

When I was younger I thought I could stand on my own
It wasn’t easy, I stood like a man made of stone

Relatable. I might have been better off if I’d actually been more like that and not wanted it, wanted The One, whoever that might be, so much when I was young. But still, I couldn’t express an interest when I had one. Couldn’t act on it. Had learned to expect that even if I did the best outcome would be simple rejection.

I could easily have picked More than a Feeling. I could have picked Rock & Roll Band, a great entrant into the genre of “we’re a band, here’s how we started or the experiences we’ve had” songs. We’re an American Band. What’s Your Name. Turn the Page. Creque Alley. Jukebox Hero. Life’s Been Good.

But not those or the other great songs. There’s just Something About You:

 

 

What If

It’s not just a genre for alternate history SF any more. It’s a 2014 2013 (the latter per IMDB, the former per Amazon, which owns IMDB) romantic comedy, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, and Adam Driver. Fantastic! Zoe was just gorgeous, and amazing. Daniel makes you completely forget he was ever Harry Potter. Adam is tall. Very tall compared to Radcliffe. I don’t think I had noticed his height as the rogue Skywalker. He made a great Ornshaw-like friend, whose cousin is actually the girl in question.

Weird! I just discovered that the original title was “The F Word.” I had heard of that one. Just never saw it, though the trailer looks familiar.

Megan Park was Zoe’s sister and was also great. I would be attracted to the looks plus quirkiness of Chantry (Zoe), but would be attracted probably more at sight to Dalia (Megan), if I knew nothing but how they each looked.

The film was delightful, funny, quirky and different. It was somewhat a modernized variant of When Harry Met Sally, which to its credit is something I didn’t catch until well into the movie. On the negative side, it’s about being soundly friend zoned, and could bring out bad memories of Daphne. On the positive side, it’s a look at how important being that close as friends can be to a relationship.

Daphne didn’t ruin things by wanting to be just friends after cuddling with me and being my first kiss. She didn’t really even ruin things by dating my best friend and ultimately having casual sex with my other best friend. She ruined things by coming along later and teasing me with the possibility of something that was never going to happen and spending some nights platonically in the same bed as me. At that point, much later in our lives than our high school and immediate post high school years, she lectured me about the evils of casually having sex, rather than “making love.” Yet that was just what she’d done with one of my friends who had zero interest in her but was having a dry spell just then. He thought of it as lowering himself shamefully. But this is supposed to be about a movie I just watched and loved.

I still find it funny to watch these things and see people in, say, their twenties or so being so free, enthusiastic and open about sex. That’s not the world I grew up in, or at least not a part of the world I ever saw personally. It’s how it ought to be, but it still boggles me. I probably would have been better off to have been the guy in Hello I Love You, working and working and working, never making the slightest attempt to be social, and being 29 with no dating experience or friends but 200k in the bank. No way I’d have stayed “living at home” as he did to help save money. I moved out about as soon as possible, never went back to my mother’s, and still feel somewhat shamed I moved to my father’s to make it possible, or at least easier, to go to college. One of these days I might remember to write a post about how I’ve always identified with my work to an irrational degree.

Maybe that’s why I like romantic comedies. They connect with something I wanted and never had. Which reminds me how great it was that The Princess Bride had a cameo in What If. One of the best movies ever.

Concert Dates and Life

I recently realized that it’s 2019 and that I might be able to determine online the exact date of each of the concerts I had ever attended. In the process of almost complete success at this, I realized that I had been to even fewer concerts than I thought. I have already covered them almost completely in posts here. There’s only one or two that I missed, and if it’s the one, then it’s not a huge story. I expect I’ll include that below the list. I’ll put them in order, with artist, opener if noteworthy, date and venue.

Beach Boys
May 20, 1979
Providence Civic Center

Bee Gees
August 28, 1979
Providence Civic Center

Cheap Trick
Feb 28, 1981
Boston Garden

Moody Blues
July 15, 1981
Providence Civic Center

ELO
Oct 3, 1981
Boston Garden

Foreigner with Joe Walsh
Nov 5, 1985
Worcester Centrum

Pink Floyd
May 6, 1988
Foxboro Stadium

Styx with Pat Benatar
June 27, 1997
Great Woods

The Guess Who
2005???
August 31, 2002
South Shore Music Circus

The last one was weirdly stubborn. It has to be 2004 or 2005. It was warm. It wouldn’t have been warm in the part of 2004 it would have been or in the part of 2005 it definitely couldn’t have been. That puts it not earlier than April and not later than August 2005. Generally the Music Circus was a summer thing, unless I am mistaken, so that fits. I know it was not 2002, which is the year for which a date wanted to pop up.

I am almost certain Pink Floyd was the 6th and not the other date, the 8th. The flying pig didn’t work well at my show. It famously failed at one of them but it didn’t say which. There is video of it working flawlessly on the 8th. It was mildly rainy. Weather data for the 6th suggests it was the wetter day.

There was some minor possibility the year for foreigner was wrong, but the gap from it to Pink Floyd is right.

Apparently Cheap Trick was my third concert, and was the only one I didn’t mention before. It fits my memory of having gone twice to Providence, once to Boston, and then one last time to Providence. I always think of Providence as my favorite, although the Music Circus was a cozy venue. I went to Cheap Trick with my cousin, whose chauffeur I tended to be for a couple years. I was still driving my first car at the time, which he loved as much as I did. It was a 1969 Chevy Nova.

Cheap Trick was just amazing. I wasn’t terribly familiar with them, but playing live was what they did best. They were unusual in becoming huge due to a live album. They were amazing even from the nose bleed seats the entire length of Boston Garden opposite the stage. They were the farthest seats I ever had for a concert.

When we left, we found someone had siphoned gas from the car and it was reading empty. We made it home from Boston, with my cousin making up song lyrics, shades of Running On Empty, about the experience of riding along on fumes hoping to make it. We did. I dropped him off and made it home. These days there would have been numerous opportunities to get gas along the way. Not then at that hour. Even now, driving down the highway through Boston you don’t just see gas stations sitting right off an exit. You have to know they are there. If I come from the north and am running low, I don’t actually stop for gas until the Randolph/Stoughton/Avon exit on route 24, since that’s the first place where I know just where to go.

Looking at the dates, the last one of the early concerts was just before I got my first apartment. While I only had the first place for nine months, I segued from that to living at my father’s house and starting college three years after my peers. No more concerts for me! In 1985 I was still in college but things were weird. I had dated Layla from New Year’s Eve, last day of 1984, until it trailed off entirely that spring or just into summer 1985. I was feeling a bit rebellious. There had been a robbery late in 1984 at the store where I worked, where Layla had taken to coming in and chatting with me at length. I freaked out and quit. My stepmother yelled at me, not long after when she figured this out, “you’re not quitting!” I looked for work that wouldn’t be retail. At this point in school I was taking the first semester of Intermediate Accounting, and I believe I was also doing Auditing and Business Law II concurrently. The latter two memorable because they were both with the horrible professor I ended up with for five different classes in my major.

So I looked for work with CPAs locally. I was easily discouraged, so I tried three of them. On the third one, I decided to try Just One More. I opened a phone book, ran my finger down the listings and went with the one that “felt” promising. I wish that kind of thing were as reliable as my ability to “know” there’s going to be a speed trap. That guy hired me to start in February, when tax season would actually be getting underway. So I ended up back at the store, and doing both things once the other one started. I ended up doing almost everything an accountant would have done, just not doing an audit. As far as I know, he only had one audit client anyway. I prepared worksheets for it. I ended up there for nine months, until way after tax season. The CPA started acting odd in ways that made me wonder if he was having a fling or something, but what was actually happening is he was working on selling the practice and retiring. That, I learned not long after, was why the timing of when he was done with me. It was also why his daughter, who became a CPA herself not that long before or just after I was there, got another job and set the stage for my staying there past April.

I’d have been terribly busy up until shortly before the Foreigner concert, but money wouldn’t have been as much an issue as sometimes.

That summer, I think it was, Frank and his first wife packed up to move to Florida. I had the opportunity to help drive the truck to Florida and they would pay for a cheap flight back north. I’d get the drive and maybe a few days and then be home. My stepmother, on the heels of the job thing, insisted I was absolutely not going. In retrospect, going then would have been vastly preferable. By around the time of Foreigner I probably already planned to take the spring semester off and go to Florida to stay with Frank for a few months or more.

During this time, I was probably suffering what we’d now call PTSD from the robbery. This was exacerbated for a while by the fact the guys got caught and I had to go to court a couple times. Heh. One of those times, the girl who’d been there behind the counter with me for the robbery was also there. Later she moved to New Hampshire or something and fled being a witness. I drove her home afterward and she asked me in to “smoke a joint.” I had a test that day I had promised to show up for if I was able to get out of court in time! Mr. Honor Above All was so intent on keeping that commitment that he completely missed that sharing a joint was not what she was after. She was cute, too.

Under the whole thing of actually dating someone early in the year – someone I wasn’t really interested in – and the having a second job I was intensely proud of and things seeming great and my keeping busy, I was falling apart. It’s probably not so much that the divorce of my parents many years before came back to haunt me as it was provoked into being part and parcel of the PTSD, stress, anxiety, arguably depression interlude. My stepmother wasn’t without good points or intentions, but couldn’t have known she was interjecting herself into that sort of maelstrom and not necessarily the best one to do so.

Right, concerts. After Foreigner, I went to Florida at the end of December, without permission. Drove 1550 miles and thank God the car had no problems. Ended up living there in my friend’s apartment for about six weeks. After a couple weeks, I got a job full time nights at a convenience store. That was a lot of work but was fun, interesting, and different from the ones I’d worked in up north. When Frank abruptly decided he hated Florida Just That Much and was moving to New Hampshire now, I liked Florida enough to be tempted to figure out how to stay. My biggest concern was how to finish college. My stepmother had vehemently assured me I would never finish, which meant there was absolutely no way in hell I was going to Not Finish. Apparently my not graduating high school was a black mark, and the stellar GED scores that set me on the road to college were not enough to matter. I’d have been trying to support myself, by myself, in a strange place, while trying to get credit for the bulk of an accounting degree transferred to a more expensive school that required five rather than four years for the degree. The best I might have done is kept the job, rented a room – on basically a couple days notice that we were leaving – and hung out down there for longer. I could have gotten some other job on the side and just used my time for making money. The sad thing is I never so much as set foot in the Gulf of Mexico. That waited until a couple years later when I was in Galveston. I wasn’t really a beach person. Plus I was in a funk, even being in the good weather and warmth, and having my sinuses clear up while there. I seldom felt healthier as an adult.

Since I had vexed my father and stepmother so thoroughly, I moved in with my older brother when I got back. I took a job nights at one of the same stores I’d worked at through college. Eventually I ended up delivering papers for the rest of college. I returned to school via summer classes that summer, then did three more semesters and more summer classes in 1987. My last class was a final in MA318 on December 16, 1987, so I was officially class of 1988. Originally started in the class of 1986. In effect, I took an extra year, subtracting out the semester off.

My stepmother was disgusted enough that she gave my mother a hard time for taking me to celebrate “graduating.” Which is to say, I got my degree. I refused to participate in the graduation ceremony. I was still scarred by my high school experience. I picked up my diploma from the office in the administration building. I was also nearly as disgusted with college by then as with high school. I was unhappy with my accounting professors and didn’t want to do anything to make them look good. This put taking the CPA exam right out of the question. Besides, I wanted to do cost accounting. Ha! That pretty much meant being a CPA first. I was a disappointment in that regard, since I was one of the two top accounting students along the way in my year. They fully expected me to take the exam and be able to pass. My rival certainly did, then went to law school as well, emulating the horrible professor. Heck, last time I remembered his name and looked online, that guy had even become a professor like his hero, my nemesis. We were closest to being buddies in Accounting Theory class, which only had five of us in it. There was a girl in the class who had somewhat of a brain under the ditzy, but I dragged her across the finish line and made sure she didn’t blow the class. She’d not study or anything, and just before the class I would brief her, so she’d know what we’d be talking about and what to say if asked a question. She would repeat verbatim what I had told her. She got an A- while my rival and I each got a B+. This was an unvarnished example of the female professor favoring the one female student. She had been my beloved cost accounting professor a couple years before. In fact, that was what I took along with Intermediate Accounting I. That and something else. It was Auditing and B Law II the next semester. Anyway, I lost most of my respect for the cost accounting professor over her handling of the theory class. I dragged that girl into getting through the class, but the high grade was entirely in the imagination of the professor. She was probably a B. My grade was perfectly fair, so it’s not sour grapes about that.

It’s going to be weird when my kids graduate and I’m expected to attend, even though I am over it by now. I did actually attend the graduation ceremony for the year I’d have graduated if I’d not taken a semester off and had stuffed in enough classes in summers before then. The commencement speaker was a judge who got up and espoused communism. It was great! Seeing people I had known and offended enough for them to ignore me was also cool. That was the last graduation I attended. The caliber of commencement speech did nothing to encourage me when it would have been my turn.

Lucky for me, I graduated into a pretty dramatic recession and hijinks ensued. I’d have done pretty much everything differently if I had it to do again. That pink Floyd concert would have been close to my time of official graduation. I wouldn’t have gone had my brother not made it happen. I wouldn’t even have known there was a concert. That heyday was over for me. It’d be nine years later before I went to another, by which time we were into the era of nostalgia tours.

So there you have it. More than you ever wanted to know about me and the interlude when I fell apart, loosely in the context of “hey look, Google knows when most of the concerts happened way in the past.” This is a heck of a way to avoid more important things I needed to do.

Update:
I found out for certain that I was quite wrong about when the Guess Who concert was, so I corrected it in the list above.

Went Clothes Shopping

I mentioned clothes shopping recently. This morning I went after work. I grabbed three different pairs of jeans: George, Rustler, and Levi’s. All we size 40. Two were “regular” fit but both seemed to tout that as being roomy. The other was “relaxed” fit, the designation I would normally expect to mean roomy and forgiving. The two fit well enough to buy. The one was too loose. I didn’t bother to go back and get regular fit or whatever in Levi’s, or try 38 relaxed in that brand. I’ll try the the two I tried on and a third that I grabbed in one of them. That’ll let me know how they are after the machines in the cellar shrink them, and how they seem to wear. The recent cheap pairs showed obvious unnatural wear within a couple wearings. The thing is, the two brands I bought are not much more money. Levi’s would have been more than double.

I also grabbed a couple T-shirts, one of which may end up being too tent-sized to wear to work. If it’s too big, I’ll know to get a size down. One of them is intentionally tall sized, so more money than the typical pocket tee. The other is even lower than the traditional Fruit of the Loom collection that lines a whole display wall each spring. On the plus side, cheap. Possibly on the plus side, thin and soft. That might be a negative, though. I ended up not liking FotL’s new “Platinum” weave shirts as much as the old ones that are thicker, sturdier, and don’t stain as instantly. We’ll see. Work really beats on them.

Clothes Shopping

I hate it. Generally. During part of the time I did Microsoft support, we were required to wear ties. Guys would cope by getting the catchiest or most outrageous ties they could find. It was fun finding cool ties. I still have a big collection hanging in the closet that’s mainly devoted to storing things that aren’t clothes, and is usually blocked with stuff that must be moved if I want to remind myself what’s in there. Like a few weeks ago when I pulled out the prints and painting I bought years ago at science fiction conventions, but never got framed and hung. Showed them to the kids and told them whatever there was to tell. The oldest is artistic, so it was mainly for her benefit. Also handed over my Michael Whelan art books for her to look through for a day or two. Speaking of art, as I recall, one of my ties is inspired by Starry Night. Love Van Gogh.

Winter is always lean at my job, so I’ve been limping along with an increasingly small number of jeans that both fit and don’t have holes too large for me to be willing to wear them. They tend to develop worn spots and then holes right around the bottom of where the pocket is inside the pants. That’s from leaning or rubbing against the metal bar that runs along the side of the conveyor belt. The extent of it depends on the exact nature of the work at the time. For a long time, I was working off of rollers, scanning and stacking packages onto pallets, wrapping them, and putting the pallets into a trailer to go on a ferry. Then for a while I was working mainly inside a trailer with rollers on the floor, floor loading packages as someone else took them off the conveyor and sent them down the rollers. We no longer do that particular location, and I subsequently spent a lot of time mostly standing against a conveyor and a slide going down either to rollers or another conveyor, splitting packages to the appropriate place. That started the wear pattern happening heavily. When I loaded the trailer, I sometimes had to be out at the conveyor to put in my own packages, then go up a couple steps into the trailer, stack before anything got by or rely on others to catch them, then pop back down the steps, rinse and repeat. Broke a rib and got whiplash falling down the stairs and against the conveyor structure a couple years back. Fun. It took six months for it to stop hurting completely. Never missed a day of work for it, and only knew I broke the rib because of an unrelated CAT scan a month afterward that happened to show the unhealed rib.

Now I still split from the middle of a conveyor down to the only remaining stretch of rollers in the place, where someone scans and puts packages onto pallets rather than loading them directly into delivery vans. However, I also scan and load packages into two or three vans at the same time. So it might be 300 packages I load, give or take, and 400-600 packages I send down to the rollers. I move around a lot and don’t lean against the metal support along the conveyor so much, but the damage was done.

I had been buying the cheapest Walmart jeans for many years. $9 and change a pair. If they wore out I bought more. I knew what size fit and could reliably walk in and buy them. Then they stopped carrying my style, so I had to order them. Good thing I knew exactly the size and style to order.

At the same time, the pants got super sensitive to abrading, and the newest pants ended up with the worst wear and the biggest holes. They also seemed to shrink more easily. I stopped ordering them and braced myself to find something else, but that had to wait for the tax refund or for an increase in income. It’s both that time, and getting critical in terms of what is available to wear. I was keeping enough pants to get me through variability in laundry processing.

The thing is, no matter what Walmart might say on the labels of the cheap jeans to flatter me, I am not a 38 waist. 30 inseam, sure, but an old pair of Dockers I wore recently for the first time in years is a 40 waist and would barely button. I will have to pick a likely brand or two and – ugh! – try them on in sizes ranging around where I expect them to fit. Then I will have to try a pair or two in each size and brand long enough to see how they shrink and such. Whatever passes, I can then buy more, maybe make a habit. If I find the size in better brands is a reliable indicator, I might even be able to risk ordering online in a brand I haven’t tried. We’ll see.

In the meantime, it’s the first day on which it would be viable and appropriate to shop. It’s about the last thing I want to do.

Maddie Songs

Hearing a snippet of one of these I might have forgotten about made me think of doing a post of songs that make me think of Maddie. She was one of the only girls I ever dated, and was the third of my so-called Melody Girls that on some level the film brought to mind. Mostly it’s coincidental, a matter of songs current at the time. It was… when was it? I started college in September 1982 undeclared. I just knew I needed a degree to move beyond where I had rapidly advanced on my first job worth the name, the first job I loved. I was jealous of my friends who’d gone to college and were part of the way through already. I was three years late, relative to high school.

So the first semester was about taking basic requirements or things like the first of the math classes I needed to be ready if I had to take more advanced ones. That was going to be the case for most majors. Then i discovered that under the earth sciences department had started a management science program and I could major in that. Otherwise it might have been earth science or computer science, though for CS it would have been necessary to get a better professor than I actually had for CS101 when I took it to satisfy a requirement for the management degree. I got a C- in that only because my biggest crush of college, Sarah, helped me enough to pass with a C, even as she got a D+ herself. She started out as a CS major, but that didn’t last. But this is not about her. That could be multiple other posts. I think I find her so embarrassing that I had put her out of my mind. I hadn’t even given her a pseudonym when I created the list I refer to for posts here.

Anyway, second semester I took the first management science class, then the fall semester my second year I piled them on, taking three, one of which was Accounting 1. That was where I met Maddie. I ended up helping her with accounting, so she passed, but she ended up taking it as a summer class at Salem State the next year and doing vastly better. I guess it was kind of a slow burn. The next semester she was in my art (history/overview, not hands on) class that was the only one I had in a big lecture hall. Loved it. She was also in my US history class. We sat together in art and wrote notes back and forth to each other in our notebooks. Over the winter, she’d be sick, then I’d be sick, then she’d be sick, back and forth to the point where it was comical. I was surprised how jealous I would get if she was talking to another guy. Compared to how it could have been, it was really no more than being buddies. We did go for ice cream, then I took her to dinner and afterward some of her dorm friends were going to a movie so we went with them. Don’t even remember what. That was when I wished I had my own place and wasn’t living at my father’s, because my stepmother didn’t care how old I was, I was still a kid and under her roof.

So that’s pretty much 1984 as the main part of it. We met in fall of 1983. One of her songs is Obsession by Animotion. Another one is Run, Run Away by Slade. I love the part that goes “if you’ve got a crush, don’t beat around the bush. When I’ve got a crush run runaway.”

I am sure I’m forgetting something, but the big one is Borderline by Madonna. I can’t listen to it because it makes me feel so bad, so guilty. “Stop playing with my heart. Finish what you start.” That was me, not getting serious and finishing what I had started. Or what was my place to continue, anyway, since starting things had been the most mutual it’s ever been. The other girl I dated to speak of wasn’t waiting for me to notice or anything. I wouldn’t have even noticed if she hadn’t put herself forward.

If I think of anything I forgot, I’ll add it. I need to go to bed after a quick look at this to be sure there are no glaring needs for editing.

Nothing Lasts Forever But The Earth And Sky

As I was driving to the dentist, I had to pause for someone to turn to go to the athletic fields behind my childhood elementary school. For some reason, that sparked my thinking of how fast things go, and how they pass. An instant story in my head of a parent obsessed with what their kid was doing in elementary school made me think about how few years that represents, and the fact you’d be moving on from it, or finding yourself crazy.

I’ve had similar thoughts before, and have possibly even mentioned them here. Pretty sure I talked about how quickly the kids grew through stages and suddenly had moved on, sometimes leaving me feeling like I had missed something, or covered that phase inadequately.

Dust in the Wind lyrics aside, in the even longer run, even the earth and sky aren’t forever. We may not be around to see it, nor may our descendants. But flame-out of the sun or heat death of the universe or such are not what I am on about here.

It becomes easier to bear things that might seem less bearable, once you grasp, or if you remember at the time, that this too shall pass. I’ve always had issues with change, of course. Which is funny, for someone who grew up to understand and embrace the economic concept of creative destruction. It was devastating for me to lose my woods around our house, but it wasn’t our land. For a long time, I wanted to become rich enough to buy out the mobile home park that had been built there, buy out all the residents, and send it back to nature, as close as I could to what it had been. Yet is was predictable that something would happen with that prime land. It was arguably a much better use than, say, a development of 100 houses. In some alternate timeline exists the campground I wanted to put on part of the land while conserving the rest.

Hate your job? It’s not forever. Broke? It’s not forever. Stuck with a crazy marriage? It’s not forever. Bad day at work? Tomorrow will be another day. Hate who’s in office? Unless you wanted enough of a revolution to change the constitution and elect a dictator, such a popular move on the part of dupes around the world, there will be another election down the road.

It’s not always easy, even if you know this. When you’re young, you don’t. It’s all urgent. Of course, you are also helping to drive, so you can make change happen if it needs, or make things more or less bearable while you wait. It can be hard to remember that reality as we experience it is a construct in which we all have a hand.

It has seemed a long time already, and a short time, but in six short years my youngest will be at the end of high school. That’s no time! I’ve held the same job for almost ten and a half years. That’s probably absurd, but during much of that it was arguably the best option. It’s not necessarily now. Even if I don’t actively seek to change it, it’s not forever. If I really had to, even without having identified what I want to do when I grow up,* I could find something to replace it and possibly improve on it.

Please be patient with your life, as the Bee Gees might say.

* There are things I did over the years that are now “my heyday” that I would never have expected to be the high points of my life or career. It makes me wonder if this happened to people like my grandfather, with his stories of being a supervisor at shoe factories. Did he figure there’d be more, or was that just fine and he never regretted that being all there was? Makes me wonder.

Mental Health Days

Can be hard to distinguish from sick days, at times. You wouldn’t ever think to take the day off if you felt 100%, but feeling like crap, aching, and not having had enough sleep aren’t always enough to make you throw in the towel unless you just can’t face it today.

I Seldom Dream About Work

That’s a bit odd, after having been at the same place for more than ten years.

I woke up from one that incorporated a combination of current and past employees, and had me seemingly doing two different jobs in different places. At least one of them requires having a radio, but I didn’t have one. When I woke up, I was crawling along the conveyor belt, moving packages around, planning to crawl all the way through the system to where trucks would be unloaded. Suddenly the belt was going to be turned on and I had no way to tell them I was on it so don’t. Since we’re not supposed to be on it, that’s a huge safety violation.

Earlier in the dream, we had a meeting in the conference room. My boss was talking about riding the bus to work. I interjected a couple times to clarify things, then she yelled at me for interrupting.There’s no such thing as bus service you could use for getting there in the middle of the night. It’s actually kind of amazing that there’s very limited bus service you could use during the day. Years ago, I’d give someone a ride in the wee hours and if she was going to be there late enough she’d go hail the little bus going by at about 8:30 or 9:00 AM.

As usual in a dream like that, the place didn’t look the way it does in real life. It also seemed to be a scenario in which things weren’t right, including there being too few people.

If Facebook weren’t still down, I’d be posting this there. I always hop on FB while drinking coffee before work, so it cramps my style having an outage. If that keeps up, there will be a lot more randomness from me here.