Thursday, April 21, 2005

"working hardly"

Maybe it was because of the snow slowly melting or the fact that the geese were now flying North in V formation. Maybe I was just bored, but a few months ago I decided to seek a new job. The melting snow and flying geese are not supposed to be reason for employment but when you're me you fall into a routine and until you start to think about it, you're stuck. Without geese, I'd still be riding my bike and wearing a satchel at work.
The job looked really great! The sign posted on the board at the coffee house reminded me of a personal ad - using terms you would never use in any given assembly job. It seemed like me, so I took to thinking about it for a week before finally making my way to this fantasy land of a workplace to inquire.
I arrived with 5 minutes to spare before I needed to be leaving for my real job. It took me long enough to even find the place, holed up & building recumbent bicycles in a Mafia meeting room-type-building. The size of the building alone threw me off enough to where I forgot to try to act like I fit the description of the desired applicant. For nearly two years, I've been taking 5 minute walks across my workplace just to get to the bathroom and this place was like driving up to a gas station. When I opened the door, I was greeted with being briefly glanced at by one of the three gentlemen in the room. I had enough time to notice bike parts all over the place and two guys at a table assembling one bike. I immediately thought "whoa, that's totally inefficient" then stood there for around 5 seconds, which seemed like an eternity, until one of them spoke.
"Can I help you?"
"are you hiring?"
"are you hiring"
(the clearly socially inept guy then threw it over to his associate)
"I'm sorry, the position was filled"
"the position was filled, you're about aaaaah....week or two late. But thanks for stopping by!"

Oh well. The place was small anyways. And I probably couldn't listen to music either. And they probably don't pay very well.
I didn't let myself get too disappointed and instead stopped at vertigo on the way to work and bought some compact disc therapy.
my first job was hardly inspired by geese and melting snow. I needed money for magazines & things, so the day after my 14th birthday, I called the phone number in the paper and got myself an interview for a job with the Grand Rapids Press. A paper route. I was to be an "independent Carrier". The woman from the GRP in charge of the Hastings area came to our house a few days later, my mom signed the forms and I had the job. She drove me on the route the first day to make sure I understood the process of leaving a paper on someone's porch. She gave me a little book designed specifically for keeping track of money collection and a large canvas bag with orange reflective edges and the press logo on the side. She also gave me a gigantic bag of green rubber bands, most likely to keep me occupied after work.
I started off the next day, alone, on my bike. I Lived near the south edge of Hastings, and my route happened to be on the North edge, it was quite a trip considering the incline and my weakling-ness. My papers were dropped off every day in front of the credit union, so I actually had time to rest while I rubber banded each paper and stuffed it into my bag. The neighborhood was mostly inhabited by the elderly... Or lonely middle aged people. The old men were always waiting for the paper. Watering the lawn, washing the car, sitting in a lawn chair in the garage, certain men always asked silly questions. "what's the word?". "uhhh"
I felt sorry for the old men who lived alone. Some of them were married to their lawns, but the others were just plain alone. One guy was always on his back porch around the time I came by at the end of the route, drinking lemonade and reading a book or doing some sort of puzzle. He'd always greet me enthusiastically with a "hey Joe!" when I opened the door to the porch and handed him the paper. One day I opened the door to find him at the table sitting across from a framed black and white picture of a young woman. He was drinking some sort of liquor. He greeted me with an "oh... hey there".

One year later, I was 15 and fed up with my monthly salary. It fell somewhere between $90 and $120 monthly. I tried to get a job at the new Applebees, but was disappointed to learn that the last of the positions suitable for a 15 year old were filled earlier that day. DAMMIT. The paper route had kept me from getting a new job. I relayed my dismay to the boss, and she offered me a new, larger paper route that was closer to home. Left with no other options, I accepted. The new route was much like the old route, but now included an entire retirement community. Retirement communities can be looked at by their denizens in two ways.

1.Pennock Village: A place where older people can enjoy their retirement without the worries of home maintenance and with the convenience of meals on wheels, a health club and a hospital next door (just in case) there's also a golf cart path that leads directly to the Kmart parking lot.

2. A prison... Forced upon you because you cant keep up the house anymore and your kids are pretty busy and can't come help you out all the time. Plus, you can't drive.

The difference of perspectives is made clear when it comes time to collect the money. Half the time, my money was left on the door or mailed to me in the envelope I had provided a week earlier. Half the time, I would have to knock on the door and politely demand my seven or thirteen dollars (depending on the subscription). Half of this time (one quarter of the entire time) the people inside were very nice and would offer me cookies or on warmer days, a drink. I always accepted. Sometimes I stuck around an extra few minutes to converse, and I ended up hearing some pretty cool stories about the old days, the depression, world war, vacations to Yellowstone, fishing, etc.
The remaining time was pure hell. Being a 13 year old left me with little right to argue or even defend myself against the cranky ones. Evidently, knocking on doors was taboo in the earlier half of the century - or so they made it seem. I'd knock at the door and be greeted with an angry expression and unkind words.

"I'm here to collect for the grand rapids press"
"Why do you always come around at dinner time!?"
"I shouldn't have to be interrupted from my meal"
"I'll get your money, but I really don't appreciate being interrupted during my dinner"

I could have responded with "perhaps you should hang some sort warning on the door next time you're eating dinner, bitch, assuming you still refuse to pay me on time with the conveniently pre-addressed envelope I provide you with every month. I know you can mail it, because I know you get the newspaper from outside your door which happens to be 3 steps from the mailbox, which has a large outgoing mail slot...If you can't acquire a stamp, just leave it on the door like some of your neighbors do. I don't think they'll steal it, you have quite a reputation for bitchiness".

Cranky elderly couples are even worse, they work as a team.

I kept up the job until my sixteenth birthday. After a very brief period of unemployment, I was hired at McDonald's.

TO BE CONTINUED - when you least expect it.

Monday, April 18, 2005


the queers Posted by Hello

from The Queers show at Ten Bells - 4/19

Friday, April 08, 2005

xanga revisited

This is the April Fool's page from and pretty much sums up everything I hate about xanga, but couldn't put into words.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

walking through meijer and...

 Posted by Hello

Stan once put mayonaise in his hair, but this stuff is hardly creative. This stuff is just disgusting. It's cholesterol AND PLACENTA!

Monday, April 04, 2005

MSU = Links

I stayed at MSU on Friday night, and most of Saturday (big basketball day). After reflecting upon my great weekend 10 minutes ago, I remembered that according to sitemeter, 21% of my page's visitors are from MSU, or at least visiting my page from an MSU server. After reflecting on my weekend at MSU, and my page's visitors from MSU I was reminded of my fellow bloggers who link to my site, namely, a Blogger who lives at MSU. After reflecting upon my weekend at MSU, my page's visitors from MSU, and my fellow blogger who lives at MSU, I was reminded of the fact that I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to add a link field to the side of this page. I pasted the html in various places, assuming the links would eventually show up somewhere on the site, but obviously they have not. Look over there and see for yourself. I noticed that a few visitors were referred to my site from some of my friends' sites so I'm going to link to them right now. Actually, I'll link to a few others who didn't necessarily link to me, what the hell. This post serves as my temporary (and incomplete) link list.

Blog of the Hurricane
Guythatnooneknows has opinions

The Randall J. Supplement
The Isaac Haze
WYCE (listen online randomly in the middle of the night)
darth punker
Michigan Radio (npr)
the human comedy
things I hate about my flatmate

UPDATE 4/21/05: since the conception of this post, my MSU visitor percentage has dwindled to 8% of total visits.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Fiction 2

Posted by Hello

I had been waking up at 8:30 p.m. for the past few weeks, but since it was my birthday I decided to get up at 5. I put on some decent clothes, and did my hair in anticipation of my birthday celebration. The place was clean, as it had always been since she stopped staying there. I wasn't actually expecting anyone to show up but I got up early just incase the proposition turned out to be real, the birthday part really made no difference to me. I was prepared to sleep all day then head to work at 10:00 p.m. No one at work knew when my birthday was.

I was never ignorant enough to be "suprised" at what I'd become. I was perfectly aware of the way I was wasting away, alone. With the blinds drawn and the lights off, I would wake up, shower, shift the futon into couch mode, watch TV and chain smoke until it was time to leave. I was sure I was forgetting how to speak. I didn't eat much at the time aside from vending machine food. The fact that this was bad for me was indeed a fact that I was aware of, but self pity would just make things worse.
After living in Grand Rapids for 6 months I had no friends in the city, let alone my building. This was fine at first, I had a roommate afterall, and had moved there with the intention of continuing the pursuit of something that made so much sense before. Things were great then, and things were great for the first few months after moving. The place was awesome, she was awesome, my job, though not particularly awesome, was now 10 minutes away from where I lived. Things started to deteriorate around the same time her ignorance started to build. The bills would never pay for themselves, and the sleeping neighbors had feelings too. So did I. The only thing keeping me from cracking, aside from my razor sharp ability to reason, were the weekly visits from my friends and the alcohol they brought with them. The manufactured fun provided me with the opportunity to express my feelings for my departed companion in a healthy way: through disrespect and sarcasm. Mean, yes, but much less than what I was capable of. I would rush home (to my parents') as soon as possible every weekend with the ultimate goal of making normal social contact. The combination of skipping sleep on Saturday morning and the familiarity and safety of my parents' house provided me with just one good night of sleep per week. The pattern seemed to be working out, but it was obviously unhealthy. I hadn't been physically able to eat a full meal in a month, and had extremely painful chronic heartburn. Heartburn, how fucking ironic. One of my many attempts to break her shell of ignorance was to make my doctor's appointment while in the same room.

"Yes, I need to make an appointment"
"I've been having eating and sleeping problems"
"yeah that's fine"

She didn't even seem to notice that I was there, or that I was on the phone. I left my pepcid samples and paperwork on the counter a few days later in hopes of provoking some sort of inquiry, just so I could answer "BECAUSE OF YOU!", "YOU'RE THE REASON I CAN'T EAT OR SLEEP! DON'T YOU GET IT?". It didn't really work out that way. The hardest part of living with her was the fact that I lay restless on the other side of the room while she slept every night. The fact that she was right there, that she no longer wanted to even talk to me, that she seemed to hate me for no particular reason and there was no way I could get her to try to explain it really drove me crazy. Her alarm clock would wake me up from light sleep later in the morning, and I had to lay with my eyes closed and listen to her get ready for work. It was torture. The hardest part of living without her was the fact that all of her belongings were still there, teasing me. I was constantly distracted during my TV watching by the pile of clothes amassed on her bed. Sometimes I would throw my empty pop bottles into the heap. "fuck you, pile of clothes!" The sharpie writing around the door frame didn't help either. A few weeks earlier, she held a large late night party while I was at work. Some drunken asshole wrote each guest's name on the paint with the disclaimer "BUY PAINT TO FIX THIS SHIT". If only it were that easy, jackass.
I was very angry with her about the party, but she laughed at me. She also laughed at the noise ordinance violation that was left under the door the following Monday. I let her know how I felt about the blatant disrespect, and a week or so later, she was gone and I was alone with bills and no good explanation.

Around 8 there was a knock at the door. I jumped up, perplexed as to how my visitor could knock at my door without first being let into the building.

"happy birthday Josiah!"

Two of my friends entered the apartment.

"someone was going in, so we went in after them"
"ah ha"
"we put our money together and bought you a gift"
"sweet, thanks!"
"we didn't have any wrapping paper, so we just used newspaper"
I unwrapped it.
"holy shit, its the thing!"
"yeah, I remembered how cool you thought it was when you and I saw it in the store and decided it was overpriced... We got it anyways"

It was a tiny, highly detailed Asian cork carving in a small glass case.

"sorry I didn't bring a cake like I said I was going to" said my female friend
"no, you said you were going to come up here and bake me a cake" I replied

We ended up walking around downtown looking for a place to eat. Everything seemed to be closing just as we approached. I realized that this was the first time in weeks that I had been outside in the daylight (aside from my weekend commute to Hastings) and one of the few times I had ever walked around since I moved there. We found a place that was still open,"Harry's Brooklyn Pizza", and went in. The single piece of pizza and two fountain drinks I consumed nearly made me sick. I guess I wasn't quite to that point yet, but for the first time in a long time, I was having a great day.
Some of the happiest moments of my tenure in the city were the days we moved my things back home. My friends and I ran across the balconies, pushing loud carts and banging into corners. Hell, at that point I had nothing to lose. At the end of the night we sat on the steps outside and had a small "last time we'll ever smoke here" ceremony in which we reminisced about the other times we had smoked cigarettes on the steps. The time I found a pack of Newports and someone's car keys, then activated a car alarm while smoking a Newport, the time some guy promised us dozens of drunk women and a keg in 15 minutes, not to mention hookups to the VIP room at "the stack" (he went inside after just one of his cousins showed up, empty handed).
Everything came back together when I moved home, but the resentment for the girl who caused me so much distress has yet to cease. Every time I hear from her, begging for forgiveness, I get the same feeling in my stomach that I once had every single day and it's starting to seem that I've become the depressor. My principles and standards keep me from making more stupid decisions, leaving me with only one explanation for my coldness; I bought paint to fix that shit.