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Entries in unemployment (17)

Friday
Jun082012

Beautiful Hidden Valley

In spring 2010, Kelli got a part time at a hospice agency in San Diego's north county. She worked there as a per diem chaplain for over a year. She had another job that overlapped it for a while. And then she got another per diem chaplain position at a hospice in urban San Diego. Juggling the two per diem schedules was unruly. Finally, in summer 2011 she got a full time spot at the first one, despite what appeared to be a kind of unwitting bidding war for her. Both places had full time spots turn available, and it was an interesting time waiting to see which would settle down first. What was at stake was that we realized for her to work in north county, we'd see less of each other as she spent time in commuting, and with a job that required her to drive a lot even while in north county, she'd be at the wheel seemingly all the time.

Kelli's spiffy new Mazda 3, all sporty and red, just before we went off the lot with it.

The Car

In April we paid a visit to a Mazda dealership up there and ended up getting Kelli a newish car. It's the first of its sort she has ever had. Late model, valid warrantee, nice features, sporty, in good condition. On April 20, we came home with the new car. It was the first time I'd had that experience since I got my truck from a dealer in 1996. About the same time as the car purchase, Kelli was keen to drive me around in some of the areas where she works, up in the rural reaches of the north county. A pleasure drive turned into checking out some rental houses in the next couple weeks.

buber dog slumped over the recliner chair looking all lost and wistfulWe're not in Kansas anymore, Buber

Kelli's Work

And then checking those houses out gave us the clarity we needed: living over 30 miles from her office was taking time from us. Spotty dinner times because the work day finishes just "whenever" and then she'd have an hour or more of charting to do. Tired Kelli, especially if she went to exercise at the YMCA or picked up some groceries after work. We couldn't always walk Buber Dog together. Evening activities at church? Hit or miss, at least doing them together. Once every couple months or so, she has a one week period of being on call. It pays whether she's called or not, but there were times when she came all the way home at quitting time for her regular day's work, only to be called back. And on some occasions, she was pulled back again like a yo-yo. Weeks like that were brutal. Fortunately they were rare. Some on-call weeks had no calls at all.

And that's just her full time job. The other requires four shifts a month, and the way Kelli's broken it up is to do two weeknights and two Saturdays a month. On top of all that, she's also a board member on a national board of disability ministry for our denomination, the UCC. That takes some meeting time and other work. And even more so, all this is not particularly the stuff she got into ministry to do: be a pastor at a church. That process has borne no fruit so far, so as time has passed, the realization is that Kelli right now has many chaplaincy opportunities that actually pay well enough to juggle the rent, car, and most critically, the student loan payments that are just bruising each month. Okay fine, but the time suck of the commute was something that made things rougher than they needed to be.

The Economics of Escondido Employment

Calculations revealed that to move near her primary job would cut out about 13,000 miles/year JUST on her five day week commute. That turns into some real money when looking at the gasoline bill. Not pushing the new car that hard would stretch its lifespan appreciably. But by far, the option for a better quality of life not spent on the road (even in the new car with Bluetooth and all sorts of creature comforts) was more compelling. So we found a place in Escondido pretty close to work. Her mileage compensation kicks in after the distance from home to office is surpassed. You can imagine that cutting that to two miles or so is more attractive than driving 30 miles or so. That means that nearly all her work day behind the wheel is on the company dime. And moreso, some of the work that she'd go to an office to do can be done at home, so her work day is partially spent here now in our new house. Phone calls, charting, prepping other notes and planning for presentations to the others in her office... all that can be done here.

Roses, citrus trees and a white picket fence. Cute.Our new pad with roses and white picket fence. Awww...

Home Sweet Home...again

Where is here? Here is a cute little late 40s/early 50s house with our first white picket fence and rose bushes in the front yard. It's a tad smaller than the one we had in North Park, and after that place, we miss the built in features like cabinets, book shelves, and so on. While it's an older house, it's not 90 years old like in North Park. It's old enough to have real hardwood floors (a bit abused but recently refinished and glassy smooth) but new enough to have a number of remodeled features like brand new windows, kitchen cabinets, bathroom features, pretty new and complete set of appliances. The microwave is the first one I've had in my kitchen since early 2007 when our old one died and we didn't replace it and took to living without regular access to such a device, but having some access while we lived with Suzanne, where she had a microwave in her granny flat. The presence of a dishwasher is officially the first time I've either had one, or more specifically, one that works. The one at the Calabrese Compound didn't work and that was just fine with me. I am perfectly content to wash dishes the old fashioned way. The only other place that may have had one was my old apartment on Mt. Ada in 1997, and I don't recall that being the case.

We live across from an industrial part of town, so there's trucks and ugly buildings across the road from our door. Industry across the street makes for a loud environment most days.

The problem with here being here is that here is also in a neighborhood that borders an industrial part of town, and with big trucks literally outside my front window, it's noisy. The area is nearly entirely Latino and while that isn't the problem, all the folks like to play music that I don't particularly know or like, and my neighbor, one of those junkyard kinds of guys who works on cars, has the radio on while he works, blasting it with the mile-a-minute announcements and commerciales en Espanol. I guess I could have spent some more time sussing the place out. The matter of noise is one thing for general livability but I also have on my mind what it might mean when I want to record. Only today did I record a bit of test material to see what I am in for. The double pane windows help.

My landlord saw that on the rental application I answered a certain question about risky property with "guitar, bass, drums." I was tentative about it but he okayed us anyway and said "that's cool, just keep the guy in the back cottage in the loop and respect him." With all the noise in the area, it might be justifiable to set up the drums and play in the house. That's something I did a small bit of at North Park but for which I was very self conscious. It's really been since the Calabrese Compound days of 2006 that I've played drums in a full-tilt way. And the last I've played actually inside the house was in Quapaw at the short lived post-demolition Hog Heaven. My room here now has just enough space to set up some drums and perhaps other stuff.

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

We certainly didn't do this move for social reasons. In that regard it barely makes an ounce of sense. In fact, not only is it a step backwards, it's a leap backwards when you consider that in North Park we were in a highly walkable area that was in reach of everything. Church was bikeable; Lee of JEM came by on his bike to do podcasts and guests were constantly flowing in and out of the place; the music store down the road was the meeting place for two groups I was starting to get involved with; restaurants were plentiful and of great quality. Yep, Escondido has some big shoes to fill. The mileage now is +30 miles to just about anywhere. Church is a few miles more. We might not get down there weekly.

The larger picture, aside from the obvious economic case for moving, is one of feeling like I needed to repent a bit for Kelli's benefit. The last time it made a lot of sense to act according to what she was doing, I was not ready. I'm talking of course back in 2005 when we got evicted (this same day seven years ago, essentially) and when it might have been a good idea to pull up and get to Claremont, CA where her school was. I was scared shitless during that period and found a job here. It was also important since my/our therapists were here, family friends, church friends, and all that. It would have been too jarring to move that far out during that traumatic period. But I've always known that would have been a better thing to do since Kelli's progress has the power to be the economic backbone of things. So this time around, after the years of living with her gone part time, and then even after getting her back after all that preparation time, losing her to business-as-usual, it seemed time to relocate so we can get her off the I-15 (the road she cut tracks into from her seminary commuting schedule for seven semesters).

Shaking the Dirt Loose?

There's a part of me that wonders if, in one of those odd universal, fateful ways, this move is bigger than just the move to Escondido. Does it somehow register in a bigger way than just picking up and going up the road some thirty miles? Does it get me out of my comfort zone? I've felt for a long time that staying in San Diego is a sign of laziness or something else. It's a nice enough town, but I've sidelined other calls for adventure outside my little region. I've been aware for some years now that I never lived outside a ten mile radius from where I was born (at Sharp Hospital in Kearny Mesa). In fact, the measurements I took from Sharp to each house I've been in has made that claim even narrower. When measured directly as the crow flies, the previous peak distance was 7.65 miles out to Robin's house where I stayed for a couple months in 1996. But I never changed my postal address, so that's more of a technicality. Of the places I've actually had my mail sent to, the greatest distance was at the Calabrese Compound, at just under five miles (as the crow flies). All the others settled in a bit less than that. Now it's about 22 miles, or more like 30 by the roads. It doesn't seem like much, but this is the first time I've lived outside San Diego. We'll see what opportunity presents itself now that I've had the dirt shaken off my roots.

I have been upstepping my job search, perhaps aided by at least the firmness of the knowledge of what town I'll be in. For a while there it was hard to look at ads for jobs and have in the back of my mind that I could get a job and realize that it would still be better for Kelli to be spared the drive, and that maybe I'd have to look for work again in a new place. There's a show production company that might want to get me on their roster, and if I get paid at a decent rate for doing some mixing jobs, that might not be too bad, and not particularly a routine punch-the-clock place. I still have my reservations about that kind of work, but after all this time, it would be nice to actually get any income. But I did one show with this company and it went over quite well, which is in contrast to the experiences that mostly led me to walk away from that industry nearly ten years ago.

And then I wonder if now that we've made such a step that it's time for Kelli to get a break. She submitted her UCC pastoral candidate profile to 30 more churches nationwide. If she were to get a church, the unfortunate fact is that most of the pastoral positions so far have been seen to be a reduction in pay, and some appreciable amount like 20-40%. Since hospice is funded by Medicare and UCC churches by individuals in a community who rise and fall with the economy, one will be less stable, or be drawing from a smaller pool of funds in the first place. So it's a mixed feeling, looking forward to getting a church but knowing that it might not hold things together even as well as they are going now. Still, the move felt right and maybe somehow the universe will take notice that we're ready to do something different.

There's something that says to me that Kelli and I should figure out whatever big plan in life we might have and use this breakthrough moment to act on things we've sidelined while occupied with the usual life in our comfort zone, our home town of San Diego. She's got a rising star in UCC disability ministry work, and I've been urging her to develop a personal web site that casts her as an expert in the field worthy of consultant work, speaking, etc. It would be a way to work together.

So farewell for now to San Diego. The training wheels are coming off at last.

Monday
Sep172007

Funemployment

I hate to admit it but I have been gaining experience in this sort of thing. As far as I'm concerned, I should still be at Concepts, or even at Scantech. I just chafe at the business of giving that 110% when the new 110% is really 200%. If places want 200%, can't that just be made clear up front? It is awkward as hell explaining how I am not at these places anymore. (At Scantech, I have documented 30 instances of hirings and firings in the six months and a week that I was there. Add to that the fact that TWO floor managers demoted themselves to save their sanity and return to positions they could do more thoroughly. As far as Scantech goes, I think those numbers take a bit of the weight off my shoulders—if I ever have a chance to explain why I was dumped.) At both jobs I showed up and tried, and worked overtime when I could and tried to learn new stuff. Sure, each was "just a job" but my economic reality then made it so I had to go with it, so I did all I could and while I knew and sometimes got really depressed about how poor a fit they were for me, I prepared myself to do them with aplomb. Still, I accept that maybe there is some greater purpose in not "succeeding" at places I didn't really like anyway, so I have had that to think about. There are in fact many things I'd rather be doing than moving equipment and blueprints. Neither of those had the intrinsic rewards I sought, and seek increasingly now that I've had the chance to, um, keep looking for my new career.

This time I recreated my resume from scratch for the first time in years. I had been using an endlessly modified version that Kelli had once helped me set up a few years back. That one used the typical chronological presentation, but seeing how I've had so many different job roles—audio tech, recording engineer, driver, social service worker, sandwich artist, and more—it got unruly, and I had various resumes made to reflect all the different facets of my work history, but found that I would still have to craft one from parts of each to address certain submissions. So, finally I found out about the functional format and decided that that would be better in presenting my varied history, my accumulated skills, and to generally make me feel that I was more than a list of jobs which looked pretty scattered. Crafting the functional version gave me a chance to streamline things but also to finally envision how many types of things I have done, and to see the last 15 years in a new light. I guess there is a nuanced semantic distinction between "scattered" and "eclectic."

There have been a few ads that looked pretty good, and many that would just keep me where I was with Scantech or Concepts. I really wish I could just keep doing my old job at the senior center. That job was just so cool. I drove around a few hours a day, brought food to people, talked to them like friends, and got to listen to NPR all the way along my route. My day was short, my pay was adequate, they gave me some benefits, and the people at the center liked me. But that job and others like it are always in jeopardy of funding cuts. The commercial sector can pay better if it chooses to, and can be full time or overtime, and all that, but I don't really love it. So I hope something of socially redeeming value shows up, and perhaps leaves me feeling that even if it is for 20% less than a commercial job, it still has a meaningful reason for existing, and for me to participate in it. I do know however, that some jobs meet my criteria for meaning, and actually pay OK too. I do hunt for those too, though some of them are more high end and require degrees that I don't have. Still, I have a few practical skills and an ability to think outside the box, and so there has to be something.

In the mean time, I've had a chance to get some gardening done in preparation for the winter. I picked up my guitar, and Kelli's, and my other guitar, and my bass, and, well, I decided I had to play again after months and months of nothing musical, and years even of just playing to enjoy the sound, or to write some lyrics. I've had a chance to read some great things, and to relax a bit after seven months of steady work, more work on weekends, and moving house, and all that. I've had a chance to connect with friends again after a long while of separation. I saw Matt Zuniga for the first time in four and a half years. Kelli and I go walk the dog a mile and a half or two each night, and maybe a few pounds have been shed. With a life like that, who wants to work for the Man?

Thursday
Feb012007

Life Is All A Cruel Joke

So here I am, Mr. Peak Oil Boy who usually has been down on car culture for a few years now, and has been quite critical of self and other in regards to senseless use of fuel for needless transport. I've also uttered a harsh word or two about the failings of the suburban landscape, ala my hero James Kunstler. And I really do feel that way about a lot of things. But I am only human, not above hypocrisy or contradiction. While in 2006 I did do a good job of living some of the stuff I talk about here in this journal, some of that was done on borrowed time while I lived in a favorable situation. But that is coming to its anticipated end before the next few months are out, and it will be time to go out and get a new place to live, and by all estimation, it will be at "real" rent prices for this town, which has me downright depressed because it pretty much means my quality of life will fall because of the work that it will require to pay for a shack that is bound to be way overpriced. So the month of January was spent whoring myself out for some interviews and doing the banner hanging work that I have done on three short seasonal bursts since this time last year.

So then whattaya know but that my leading prospects (and the job I actually did score) were driving jobs? I crafted a few types of resume to whore myself out for various types of work—driving was one, audio tech boy another, social services and volunteers yet another, and some required a combination of the above. The two leading jobs that had favorable interviews were for printing shops, and their work spanned countywide. The shifts were both full time, with only a small wage differential (I got the lower one, grrrrr). Both were reasonably close to home, both within about 7 miles, and I scored the one that was only a bit more than four miles out and actually may be bikeable. I was holding out to the end for the better job, only troubled by the fact that it started two hours earlier at 7:30. They had a day they were going to start someone and the other place let me call my start day, so I set it to be after the first place, should I get that one and their better offer.

But anyway, back to the sad irony of economics, and that is that Peak Oil Boy is out there hitting the streets for about 130 miles a day, trip after trip, all day long. (At least the car is a very efficient one.) And, the other "gotcha" of it all? The primary clients tend to be architectural firms that design all this suburban garbage that I love to hate! One after another, I get to firms of all sizes, all designing a lot of the same shit, cookie cutter style. Many of them have slick offices with these sassy looking 20 something chicks who front the office but who all appear to be too good to be true, too phony for me. Many offices have that slick stainless steel/glass/birch look that everyone in that industry seems to like at once. But no matter what the details, Peak Oil Boy is driving around the county for these fucks, helping them do what they do best. Or worst, as I see it.

Man, I really ate it on this one, didn't I?

But seriously, it does actually depress me to think of it that way. This is, in its own way, worse than what I was dealing with at AV Concepts where at least I was admittedly linked to the industry somewhat from past experience. I have no interest in architecture, printing out their documents, or driving. It's just economics, man. Just that I need something, and despite combing the Craigslist ads for a month, nothing else seemed to be reasonable enough to just have me start, without having a huge list of some sort of credentials. The fact is, I really hate the prospects of most types of work out there. I wish I didn't have to get the one that puts me so at odds with myself.

This internal dilemma is heightened by the fact that I am "fighting" a losing battle at my church to reject a parking lot renewal project, and I know it's doomed. But I have other points to make with regards to how the church spends its money, and who it serves. But I am losing interest in all that since there is less and less there to do as a person who just wants to be in the "church" space to get out of the world. But my activities there of late have all led me into the "real" world while doing things for the church, making it so that the worship and educational experiences, the transcendent stuff, have been pushed aside.

So getting a job in a field that ostensibly I am opposed to just adds to the conflict within. It is depressing. And for my church situation to be in a state of meltdown over the course of the last several months adds to the strife, because there is little it seems beyond the business of doing the work I do there. So I am worried about just being able to do my job to get the money to move house this spring, and hope to sustain it, but also while realizing that what has been a long term support system is now a liability, it being a central part of my current conflict with myself. It just aint happymaking the way things add up.

Tuesday
May022006

Free At Last! Free At Last!

It finally came through loud and clear. I am now officially not working for AV Concepts. After a three and a half week mini-layoff—modeled no doubt on the six week version that spanned half of December and all of January—I am now free of the job I never wanted to accept, but sorta had to since nothing else came through in time for the move last summer. This time, I was not worked up over the loss. I had been gone for several weeks and had only done a single four hour shift one day and that was only to take a piss test and take the van for an oil change. No, this wasn't the crisis that December was. I was asked to come in to the shop to talk, but only found this out for sure that I was getting canned just as it was happening. I'd been waiting for something to come down regarding the damaged truck from early March. It's not that I didn't pass my piss test; it would be hard for me to fail it, being the square that I am who never even smoked a cigarette, let alone anything else. No, the expense in fixing the truck box was something like $4000, but they were looking to hang me anyway—December was all about the fact that I didn't let them boss my life around as well as they are accustomed, and that was brought up once again today, despite the fact that there was not one gig they offered that I turned down this time, the sum of which kept me working all of the 24 hours at one point or another. No, flexibility was not the issue, but to add it in there seemed to add some weight for what they wanted to accomplish. I guess I got too expensive for them. It's hard for me to lose any sleep over the whole issue. I mean, shit, I am moving in an ever more anti-corporate direction, and more so even now as I am aligning myself with a program that seeks to urge people away from the prevailing system, the corporate system. Oh, I can't tell you how it was conflicting to realize that my company was the cutting edge for a range of corporate giants—Yahoo, GSK, NIKE, Skechers, and so many others that just rub me the wrong way. Yup, I was living the Kafka life, working for the Man by day, and subverting him by night.

But in a really practical way, I am glad to separate from that place because it got to be a physical burden. I came home with more aches than any other job I ever had. Sometimes I apparently strained fingers and only found out the next morning when things just didn't work right. I really had my reservations about the physicality of the work. Pushing roadcases isn't the problem as much as loading trucks in different ways for every load. It could be harrowing at times. Add to that there was this one prick of a young punk there who loved to be sarcastic about my reservations. To which, I mutter something like, Hey, if you want to sling cases over your head and be dumb, that's your business. I can't get paid enough to want to let myself get hurt. Man, day after day, it was usually a fine way to wreck fingers and hands. But usually, just walking on the concrete all day hurt enough. Then, when I was a driver, things got easier except for the fact that I was not doing it all the time like when in the shop, so I sometimes fell out of fitness for it—slower responses, got sore easier, and I just had no real drive to do it as if I wanted to be there. It was clear that I was barely needed there for the last couple months.

I offered to get a class B license if that would help, but never got any clear answer. Then the truck incident happened. That was added to an earlier one that happened in the first week I came back in February when I damaged a rain gutter while backing up. Hey, I didn't ASK to be a truck driver. I was just fine as a shop guy. It seems to exemplify the logic of you get what you pay for. I was just a part timer who doesn't get taken for serious, isn't given any training in this sort of driving, and who also got the odd jobs not done by the main drivers.

Oh well, all that place really meant to me was a short lived way to get out of an awful bind last year when I needed something that paid reasonably well. I didn't want to reenter the field of event production, I didn't want to work around the clock, I didn't want to break my back moving heavy shit. I really was at odds with the place all the way. Given that my July 2005 film presentation featured the movie The Corporation, and that only a month later, I was working for AVC, you can see how I was biting my tongue the whole time. Oh, my interviews were an exercise in outright lying, but I don't care. It was hard to even be there nodding my head in agreement like I was going to be their best employee. It was hard to feign interest in the new gear they talked about. The audio gear wasn't even stuff I was used to. It took me six weeks from the time I applied to the time I set foot on the shop floor as an employee. Jeeze! I "connected" with only maybe three or four guys. The rest were either just "there" or people who irritated me. I was glad to get the driving jobs so I could get out and not sweat having the boom drop on me when the manager walked onto the floor. Many times he would do that and it drove me nuts. He was the total corporate stiff—out for his own ass. In the time I was in their employ, I see that several positions seem to have been slashed—an internal project manager, a site project manager, a salesman, and maybe others I don't know of. So it's no long stretch of the imagination why I got cut. If they don't have any compunction in slashing a $60,000 job or three, what is it to ditch me, who got a measly $11 an hour and tried to defend his time off? Yeah, this ops manager got his gig a few months before I got there. I see he has a shiny new Lexus, dresses in nice threads, and seems to have been able to keep his job well enough—made possible by being all decisive in that classic cutthroat corporate way—fire people so he may advance. I hear he is so bent on pinching pennies that he shuts off the Coke machine at night to save energy.

The great joke on AV Concepts, (and hardly a soul there would entertain the notion—the ones who did were pee-ons like me) is of peak oil reversing that company's fortune. Yup, more than once, I looked at that inventory, the one they so proudly pimp as "the best in the biz" and thought, totally fucking worthless in a few years! One by one, corporations across the country are going to fold up and won't be throwing hi-spectacle product launches for the media, or won't be holding super-classroom Powerpoint presentations for their expanding workforce. They won't be looking in San Diego for a production company if their gig is in San Francisco. Yup. Just wait. AVC is not looking at the growth they think they will achieve. I sat through the meeting last year just before Thanksgiving. The owners (private company) bought us Quizno's food. Forget the fucking turkey and stuffing and mash-taters, we get fast food and Cokes. Then we went upstairs and listened to corporate drivel for two hours about how the company is growing. Funny, I only see people getting fired.

There was this one dude (who I actually got along with best) who was 25 or so, and he hired on as an intern for something like minimum wage for a few weeks. Interestingly, it was the week I got laid off back in December. Hmm, could it be? I get laid off for the darkest winter months just as they find a guy who will bend over backwards to get his foot in the door and won't say no to any work? Mebbe. Consider: when I came back in February, he was working 6 and 7 day weeks. By then he'd gotten his raise to $9 an hour. I was working for $11 an hour. By any guage, he was getting gypped by $2 anyway, since it seems that $11 is the opening wage for us throwaway hands. I've heard it said a few times at this company, if you don't hire on at the wage you want, you better get used to it or get out. Later on, this guy and me got a chance to work together a few times and trade stories. Since I was out of the shop most of the time, I had not been up on all the gossip. But by the time he was due his review, he got nothing. No review. Sort of like me. Finally, I got a "90 day review" on day 120, only to get a layoff for my patience. I never got my review at the end of my extended probation, unless you consider today to be that review. It is, after all, the third month after I restarted back on the first of February. He got a review but it got him essentially nowhere. And the clincher? He wasn't the slacker that I seemed to be. He worked like mad. He learned how to do a lot of stuff. He was actually a good employee, but he seems to have gotten signed up at the real piss-on rate. Sad. I told him to know his limits and get out as soon as he could.

So farewell, AV Concepts, the stopgap job that placed me in contradiction with myself. It's not so much that I hate you. I just am sort of glad you're out of my life.

Sunday
Jan222006

Good Lord We Have A Lot Of Shit!

After several months of having stuff in storage, we finally got our stored junk dropped off at the new house last week or so. We parked it in the garage, and this was added to the existing presence of ALL my music stuff that was already placed in said garage. And, that didn't even include the wooden furniture which made its way directly to the living room, nor did it include stuff that is yet to come from the apartment we are leaving, and stuff that we will have to collect from either house that my old man owns (one is of course where I was living till last summer), or a few things that got scattered about at people's houses. Eventually, it will all make sense. Today it started to make a modicum of sense.

I spent the day on Saturday just making piles of boxes by category. Kelli is really fond of those file boxes from Office Depot. Most of her life is in something like 30 of those boxes. We counted 11 boxes of her books—and growing with each semester—but that doesn't include roughly six boxes of my books too. Oh, then she has more boxes of files this and documents that. I keep all that sort of stuff in big plastic tubs which get heavy as fuck but really are easier to carry and generally more durable. I have recording junk; she has girl knick knacks. I have computer junk; she has an ancient word processor which got her through college in the mid 90s, a beater PC, and no easy way to fetch old data off them (so they move with her often). We both have some inherited stuff from dead family members—things that just don't really serve a purpose in day to day life and suck to carry around if you aren't about to settle down, like it appears we are not. (Our stay is intended to be a year or so—pretty damned fast if I think back over the last year I had.)

We talk about blowing out a lot of this stuff. It's amazing how we, barely into or at the door of our 30s, have collected all this shit. A lot of it was helped along by the few rooms worth of furniture I inherited. I've hardly ever bought furniture. A lot of it was inherited or collected from some seniors I have worked for. Some of it is getting more and more bashed as time passes. I have two dining room sets, or maybe it's more correct to say I have two sets that are equally compromised due to each having lost two of four chairs. I spent time today gluing up the couple that needed love because parts of their uprights just came clean off. I spent the afternoon doing that and partially reconstructing a couple drawers to a chest that got damaged in the storage. The faces got strained, and one came off entirely. It's not the best piece of gear, being stapled together primarily. Now it won't break that way again with all the joints getting a nice bead of glue in them.

The situation with this new house is that Adam did not fully move out. We negotiated with each other and with both his folks (in two different places), and some other arrangements were made so that his stuff would be stored on site, taken next door, or sent to his mom's, among other plans. We kept some things to ourselves—for the first time we actually get to use a real bed instead of the mattress on the floor thing which we have used for all the four years we've been together. Hah. There were also an absurd number of desks and tables that Adam had, just the same as we have. Between us, there must have been eight desks (both classic office desks and some modern computer style desks), probably five to ten end/utility tables, four coffee tables, and three dining room sets. Add to that there were four sofas/loveseats/futons, four Apple computers, four monitors, and something like four house phone setups. Some of this will sort of float in and out of our service. The rest is gonna get crammed into a corner or sold. It was a totally absurd proposition when Kelli and I were leaving home last summer. We had too much to look at even then!

Oh, and since Adam is a musician, now there are two guitar rigs, two drum sets, a number of guitars and basses, and gobs of related shit that we're cramming into one garage. Fortunately there is some overhead space and a smaller room in the garage. Yow.

Sunday
Dec112005

That Floor-Falling-Out Feeling

Well, I feel justified in proclaming loudly that the corporate mindset is shit. Let me tell you a tale of woe.

I started work at this AV Concepts place on August 8. I was hired to be a shop guy, doing check outs and check ins of gear, some troubleshooting and maintenance, and generally being part of the warehouse scene. I also am a driver, usually doing errands around town, or even up to LA, but also for gig delivery and pickup. I've driven on two occasions to the Bay Area, or just shy of there to Monterey and Half Moon Bay, in both instances being two- and three-day affairs. I've done full time work usually with the exceptions of certain days when they pared back my hours by four- or eight- hours, resulting in a few weeks of 32 hours. Some days I've done ten hours in the shop. My drive days to northern California were counted as 14- and 15- hour engagements.

Last week, I did three ten hour days, drove to North Hollywood and Huntington Beach, and back and forth across town. I coached a new guy. I busted ass on loading and unloading trucks during a very heavy week of work. I had a cold for three of the days and was feverish one of the days.

I get paid $11 an hour for this, $16.50 for time and a half, and $22 for the special days when I get past 12 hours. Coincidentally, the days when I have gotten 14 hours in, they have also warranted per diem pay of $47 per day on top of all the wage earnings. Those days, particularly when driving solo up the 101 highway, are days I don't mind turning out for work. But most days are not like that at all.

Truck loading. Unloading. Barcode entry on damn near every piece of gear and each roadcase. Fetching stuff all over the shop. Walking on concrete, standing for hours at a time with no real chance to sit. Solder cables sometimes. Bend. Squat. Lift. Push heavy shit. (I weighed a roadcase once and it was 1019 pounds with its contents of possibly 1000' of heavy gauge power and lighting cable—not typical, but even the 700 pound variety is not the same as sitting at a desk, and even lifting the 300 pound versions above chest height can be a bit much.) Listen to krunkity old geezers bark orders at people, and between themselves. Not a comfortable place with no ventilation. Get orders from all over. Go out for a drive and drop everything for now. Quality check components and diagnose damaged gear.

That's my job. I've passed a threshold of sorts where once I used to be totally worn out and sore at the end of the day. Better shoes helped a lot. But still, it's good for generating some tiredness. I try to preserve my sanity by retaining Sundays to myself so I can do any of my church related things, and spend time with Kelli. Given that Sunday does tend to have a few hours of church related responsibility, it's not really a day of leisure, so I asked that I be scheduled to work on as few Saturdays as possible. I had two further stipulations, and they were that I would not be asked to work OVERTIME on Tuesday and Thursday nights. So, no Sundays, minimal Saturdays, and no OT on two nights a week so I can go to counseling (I didn't specify counseling, but I did say that the times were locked in with wife and one other person, and have been for a long time). There have been times when I was asked to come in early, at 7, or 6, or once even at 5 am for a drive to Los Angeles. I did each of those. I've stayed late on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I've done a Saturday or two. I've even stayed a bit late on Tuesdays or Thursdays to show I'm a good sport. I've even taken my two- and three- day gigs out of town spanning from Wednesday through Thursday and Friday, cancelling counseling on Thursday on two consecutive weeks to do these trips because it all added up into such an irresistable deal financially, and they had the courtesy of asking me days in advance and not just assuming I'd do it.

One day back in October, about two months after I started, there was an instance when the salesman who secured a show account didn't stop to consider if I had any schedule constraints. Why would he? The company manual basically says that the company is going to run your life and that they will take priority over other work and obligations (I read this a little late). On this day, he came up to me and just started talking about gig details with me like I knew I was on the gig and had already been briefed. Well, I had not really done much in the way of gigging with this company as it was, so it was odd to have him talking about this. I wasn't even sure if he knew if I was the right guy. I asked him when this gig was, and he said it was going to be in the afternoon for set up, and would go till about 9 pm—on THURSDAY. So I told him that I couldn't do it, and hadn't he heard? I gave the warehouse manager my schedule, and he seemed okay with it. So salesman boy goes off and gets the head manager and expresses his shock that I can't do the gig, and why can't I? So the manager came over and asked me for some explanation. Within a few minutes, I was made to feel ridiculed when he looked at me and said I would not be as valuable an employee if they couldn't schedule me. The gig got handed down to one guy but he couldn't do it on short notice, then it got handed to the fellow who is audio supervisor, just above me. He got saddled with one boring ass gig and had the misfortune to have accidentally left the shop door unlocked when he returned at 10 pm, and he got written up for it. I didn't mean for that to happen to anyone. I just didn't want to bail out on my prior commitment on less than a day's notice.

This year, my birthday fell on a Wednesday. I worked overtime during one of the few extremely busy weeks they've had since I got there. My birthday was on a day when Kelli was at school, so we decided to have our event on the Saturday to follow. The company was also booked solid that day, and guys had to come in for that morning. I was asked if I could work, and I told them no, I got plans for my birthday, and since I worked overtime on the actual day, I was going to enjoy it with wife and friends on Saturday. The warehouse manager, who ordinarily does not rub me the wrong way because we respect each other gave me a little guilt trip about how I get to pick my hours but the others don't and how Saturday was one of the few killer days for everyone, and so forth. This was a clear crack in the wall.

So, the business of my cherrypicked schedule has been an issue for them. I've been persistent in defending it, and they don't like it. I've told them that my wife goes to school for three days a week, and the weekend is really the only time we get a relationship, because Monday and Tuesday are days when I work and she needs to spend all her time studying and writing. I've said I am the sole income earner, and that my life has been real tumultuous lately and that I need stability more than anything, and that my requests for time off are not frivolous. I wrote a letter to the ops manager who obviously had the biggest problem with this all, and told him this, and begged for his consideration that I wasn't trying to weasle out of anything, but that I need some balance and stability. I reminded him of the early morning call times and other overtime, and so forth.

My 90 day review was supposed to be on 11/8 and a day or two later, I inquired about it. Early on he almost assured me a raise of a dollar if I wasn't some sort of a fuckup, so, not feeling fuckupish, I didn't feel bad about asking for my review. He told me that he has been so busy with other things that no one has gotten a review in a while, and that he will get to them. He encouraged me to hold on because any pay raise would be retroactive to the date of the intended review. Well, if it was a month, I could see it. He told me the last part of December was slow, so I was sincerely hoping that I'd get a raise to help offset any loss of hours or days. On the day before Thanksgiving, we had a company "town hall meeting" with the owners, and during the open forum part, I inquired about the reviews and if they would be forthcoming. The ops manager took the opportunity to chastise me for sneaking that question in in front of his boss and all assembled. The way I see it is this: if I need money in December, a retroactive raise in March isn't going to help.

Sensing that I was getting on their bad side, I offered two things: one was to show some interest in getting a class B license so I could drive bigger trucks (and open up the door to non-shop days, overtime, per diem earning days, etc.), and the other was to take my schedule constraints off for a few weeks in December if doing so would help me retain 40 hours or something close to it for the slow season. No developments there.

On 12/8, I marked my 4th month there, and coincidentally, there was a meeting upstairs at 10:00 am to introduce the new health care plan the company was adopting. At 9:30 I was called into the office and our receptionist put a paper in front of me. It was the sort of page that would accompany my review. So my review was *only* a month late, and I started to fill it out. Then, the ops manager came by and just about snatched it out of my hand, and said he'd fill it in, and to come on into his office. Swift moving, he shut the door and had me sit down. He was barely seated before he let me know I didn't pass my 90 day review. Then he told me how my cherry picked schedule has cost him "thousands of dollars to work around" as he's needed to hire freelancers or other shop guys into overtime, or whatever. He told me that he was going to give me another 90 day probation but that I would be reduced to a "part time/temporary" position of less than 30 hours a week, which in this coming month or so, given next to no work to do, might mean that I get nothing for weeks at a time—effectively an invitation for me to leave. I reiterated my situation like I wrote in my letter. No flex. He didn't want to hear it. I felt the floor fall out from under me. He didn't even want to entertain talk of my rescinding my custom schedule and just being one of the boys who take it up the ass any time a gig comes up and needs to be worked (except for Sunday, which he agreed was discussed in our first meeting in July).

I just lost it in there. I teared up uncontrollably. This is exactly the shit I knew would come down since almost two months ago when all this shit started happening. There has been talk about my custom schedule being an issue, and sometimes it comes back to me from other employees, even if in jest. But here it was, early December before Christmas and a slow month that was already making me nervous. Only the first half was going to be bearable. Kelli and I have been thinking of moving from this apartment in February (requiring that I give notice here on the first of January—not likely now), and suddenly that idea was all but wiped out. I was heartbroken. I didn't even get wiggle room but to get him to give me the reduced hours. Apparently the money they paid to train me was better honored by keeping me.

So all this was done by 9:45 or so, and I was officially not invited to the health care meeting since I was not going to be eligible, having lost my full time status and all. Just before all this went down, one of the owners came by and offered us a bag of tangerines from his yard. When I spotted the handful of tangerines I took, I got this heartbroken fear that some citrus fruit (especially on this day when I had a wicked cold starting) was going to be about the best health care program I was going to get from this company. For lunch, everyone was enjoying pizza and salad that the company bought for the shop guys. I couldn't eat. All I could do is hide my head in shame for the utter despair I felt. Sick, tired, insulted. Fuck pizza. I went to my truck and slept for my lunch break. I couldn't even eat if I wanted to. I found a decent audience in the chance to at least vent to my audio department supervisor, who only learned of all this from another guy I ranted to who was on the shop floor when the others were in the health insurance meeting. Each at least gave me the chance to vent and flood out even with the tears.

The next day, on Friday, I kept my distance and tried to do better, but was still over the top angry with this shitty return on my investment of time and labor. I tried once again to talk to the boss when he handed me my check, but he didn't go for it. I talked to my warehouse manager about it and he did indeed vouch for the fact that I was reliable when I was there, and that I was always there when I said I could be, and took on some extra jobs for the asking. He at least understood my situation. He told me he'd put in his two cents to try to salvage things.

So that is where I am at the moment. I don't know if they are just going to hang me out to dry or not. I will have to find some other work if I can't do my usual FT gig there. I don't make excuses why I can't do the full time stuff, and I take on overtime, both early and late, and I do other stuff. I just don't fellate the corporate cock at all hours of the day and night. My life is too important to hand it all over willingly. If other guys want to do things this way, fine. Some are starving and 24 and don't care. I played that game for years, and didn't like it, and would like to avoid it if I can. As far as I care, my time at counseling, church, and with my wife is what makes life worth living, not doing a fucking corporate gig that will throw me out as soon as they can't get their way. They pay a freelancer $300 or so a day to do a gig, but would pay me the same hourly wage if I am in the shop or on the gig. The gig just might take longer since it has to start and end at some point. Really, what I asked for was "no OVERTIME on Tuesday and Thursday unless it's critical or planned, and minimal Saturdays." There are guys in the shop who get to call some shots like 'never put me on show sites' or 'never call me in once I am gone for the day' or some things like that.

So tell me. Is this warranted? I don't think I am being unreasonable.

Saturday
Dec102005

Have I Told You Lately?

Have I told you lately how much I hate the corporate mindset and method?

Lots.

Friday
Jul222005

Deep In The Bowels Of Hell

What fucking hell. Utter fucking hell. It's the middle of summer, so we got our Florida-like humidity and heat that helps sour the whole experience even before the sleep is wiped from my eyes, and even waking up at 8 am is no help. (Hell, in less than two weeks, if I wake up at 8 am, I will be an hour late to work!) What a time to have to do this mad amount of work. Later on, I am looking at working primarily in a warehouse in the Mission Gorge area of town, where it's notoriously hot. Good times. But therein lies the ticket to my new life. Maybe.

The last two days have been just totally draining in every way. Arguments with Kelli like never before. We’re both in massive change mode, and it's worthless to figure out who is getting the shorter end of this moving deal. What I do know is that she signed up for a school with a commuter program so that she could live in San Diego and attend school three days a week in Claremont, with the option of staying in their on-campus commuter housing for the two nights that are obviously necessary, but possibly for a third, to make things safer. Her class starts rather early on Wednesdays and it's early enough that she can’t just take a train up there (timing doesn’t work out), and it's also early enough that it would make for one hell of an early morning commute to class (leave SD at 6 am and negotiate the two hour drive and whatever traffic too, and rush into class, not to mention getting up early enough to do all that in comfort). So she really should make the commute on the night before when early morning stress is not a problem, but it adds another night to the housing costs, an additional $35, bringing the weekly cost to $105 and the monthly to $420. And all that is ON TOP of whatever we pay to stay here in San Diego.

So for most of the last three or four months, the talk has been about commuting while she lived here, in this current house. So of course we were shocked to be issued a notice to leave. The next most possible option was to actually get one of the apartments the school has for students and totally leave San Diego. At least we were assured a place, and it was but a short walk to class. But it would still cost about $900 for a one bedroom on campus! About double what the commuter housing would cost, but a single price for a single place that is all ours to live in, instead of the dorm-like commuter rooms. Still, neither of us sounded ready to leave SD and neither of us were working at the time, so it would be a challenge, even if the housing was secured for us to move into. But we still had no assurance of any way to sustain that since we had no jobs. Even if we had jobs here, it would be meaningless; we’d have to start over up there, and it's harder to find stuff up there while perched at a computer down here. So for a couple weeks right after we got our notice to leave here, we perused Craig’s List and looked for work up in the greater LA hellhole, and down here too. I got not one single response to the LA area calls and emails/resumes, and when I looked at the map I found that some of the places were going to be a godawful distance to commute not once a week, but once a day! I think a 35 mile commute, or a 50 mile commute can actually take years off a person’s life!

After some fumbling with the LA work scene, and the other “opportunities” in the Claremont area (really closer to San Bernardino and Riverside), we resorted to looking down here again. We drove to Claremont to go to the school and do some administrative things, see the apartments, and taste the area. The lady who showed us the apartment asked us to be there at 9:30 am, which meant we had to leave here at 7. We got there with 10 minutes to spare. Then she told us she didn’t actually have an empty unit to show, so she arranged some Asian student to show his place, but he had three kids and another family member or two there visiting, so it was mad clutter and noise. Less than two minutes later, we were out of the apartment and I had not done anything more than stand in the living room and peer into the bedroom. Well, so much for that place. And they have no cable service whatsoever. DSL, if anything. The apartment complex was made out of block. Pretty soulless, but not about to be torn asunder by the southern California hurricanes and tornadoes. It was institutional. But it was a few steps from there to class. The school is utterly tiny, so distance is measured in yards, not blocks or such. The rest of Claremont, the city, is not far, certainly in biking distance, and it's a cute cute little downtown, totally cool for the peak oil/new urbanist guy in your family. But after traipsing about doing school related work and stopping in at a couple of the other colleges and their admissions offices possibly for my benefit, we got some lunch and it was already after 3. Hardly time to look for any real work. Nothing jumped out at me. Nothing seemed to be the sort of thing that would have gotten me the ideal $2700/mo to live in that $900 one bedroom apartment. I did go to the local Costco to once again try my hand at applying, but they said Costco only does online apps now. Fuck. We stayed and looked at the rest of the cute downtown of Claremont, and talked to people. Upon finding out that the commute to LA central is a 35 mile drive, we mostly were talked out of looking for work in the LA area. Most everyone suggested a far more local search. Then we drove home, and I filled out the Costco online app, complete with that absurd psychological profiling shit all the online apps have now. And it was an app for ONE store, not chainwide, or even a selection of stores!

So, since I had already been waiting a week and a half for AV Concepts to call, I called them that same day and told them I needed to start making some plans. They told me it would be until Monday (this was a Thursday). Then I called on Monday and was told that I could come in for a second interview the following Monday. This is now three weeks after the first one. So I am crossing my fingers like mad because I got the idea that this job could actually anchor me in town here and get us a new apartment, pay for storage at least until we can sell things down, etc. We’ve been talking about how important it is that we stay in SD because we have all our friends and church folks down here, and that is our life. We don’t know anyone in Claremont, and most of all, we have no plan for how to pay for that apartment either, so the talk was that it was far more risky to ditch our San Diego life entirely than to move within SD and keep with the commuting plan. I reasoned we could always complete the move later when commuting and separation became unbearable or gas got too expensive. We’ve both been unemployed for months now, so it seemed silly to totally bet the farm on a new life in Claremont when we could barely afford the move itself. Maybe we could get a running head start in SD for at least a semester or two, and when one of us gets some experience with the new place, we could have some idea of opportunities there.

So back to hell week.

We did our garage sale thing and it took three of us three days to get the thing done from early clean up and inventory to late clean up. We put a lot of stuff into two drive off containers. We still have a messy ass house. I still have all my music gear here in a corner and it still takes up about a third of a bedroom. Girl stuff is still scattered about—knickknacks, picture frames, plants, and other stuff still surrounding us. We still have a number of pieces of furniture that probably won’t make the cut and will have to be sold or stored. We still have mad amounts of half filled boxes and stuff. Closets left unmolested. All Kelli’s office space is intact. Bathroom and kitchen stuff is still unpacked. We got our work cut out for us still! I supposedly start work on the first of August. Shit. I have no fucking idea what to do about my music gear. It takes up space and is of high value. I can’t just shove it in a closet nor can I leave it unsecured, nor do I like the idea of leaving it with others. Not all of it anyway. It's pared down rather thin from my erstwhile glory days of studio extravagance. Still not ready to sell it. Right now it's a burden. I guess I could get another drive off container or storage facility, but that's added expense.

Well, I did finally get the AV Concepts job and started to look up and could finally release my crossed fingers that were getting sore after three weeks. After weeks and weeks of stress, one key piece came into place. We got a job that could keep us in SD. Starts at $1760 a month (to start, with more on the way in a few months, or so they say), which for me is pretty darn good. Add whatever Kelli can make and her financial aid, and it seemed that things were falling in line. We had exactly three weeks to get out of here. Miracles do happen, I guess.

So in the midst of all the other stuff, which everyone agreed was hell enough, Kelli’s car started giving her hell, and it became clear that the cost of fixing it would be silly and it's time to start looking for a new car, especially if she is going to commute regularly. So we have this fucking ordeal added into the mix. That just means more time is getting sucked up into criscrossing town looking at stuff. Time not spent packing or moving, or looking for another job. When I came home and told Kelli that I got the job, she did get excited but then found out that it paid less than I had been proposing, so she started getting all bent out of shape that there was no way we could live in SD and have her do the commuter thing too on that sort of money. Uh? What happened to her commuter housing being covered? What happened to her two weekdays remaining to work, or up to four if she wanted to bury herself with some weekend work too? Uh? I could not believe it. She started on gasping about how all her plans were falling apart, and how she might as well just quit school, and all sorts of other stuff.

So I suggested we just ask for money now, and so I reminded her that my old man had made some offer to help us with the transition. She protested, then she suggested we go, then protested, and back and forth. Finally, after going around and around on the issue, I just went over to his house on my own and started on the pitch to help us with some moving costs, and oh!, the car needs to be replaced too. Kelli really doesn’t like my old man much given the current state of things, but we are in a pinch here, and frankly, he could help. So I got to his house a couple days ago and she followed over afterwards, choosing to drive her little death trap on wheels to a place she would rather not be. After some negotiating, the old man went and collected a thousand dollars and gave it over. It was, in a strange reversal of the usual patterns of the universe, the best thing that happened all day! We so often think of a trip to his place as a disaster waiting to happen, but the last few weeks have been different, and he has expressed some desire to be charitable toward us since he can see an end to this housing dilemma here.

Kelli and I didn’t say much before we went to counseling that night, and I was thinking she would have been totally dumbfounded and surprised to have received a cash gift from my dad, so I thought things would be better. What I do remember happening is one of the most tense and overtly confrontational sessions ever. Just fucking hell. It was like the planets reversed their orbits that day—the best thing to happen was the exchange with my dad, of all things! Kelli elaborated how she thought we were going to Claremont after all this time, to which I had to say, well, then why the hell have the last two weeks been filled with looking at San Diego properties and jobs??? Shit, if all we needed to do was to move into the Claremont apartment, we could have done that a while back! But now I got my decent job in SD that can hold things together, it's not good enough??? I found myself in the odd position of defending two things I ordinarily am not known for: the actions of my father, and the prospect of my job (which of course is one that helps lift up the vanity of corporations, uses massive amounts of energy for nothing of any real use, and operates across huge geographical areas, but it's giving me what I need, when nothing else is).

So yesterday I got up at 8 and was ready to go apartment hunting by 9. Kelli woke up then, so we left at 10, and hit up a number of places in the North and South Park areas, University Heights, and the like. We finally found one place that for the price and the financial incentives was great, but it was actually a nice little place–a reconditioned place from the early 60s or so. Tasty and a nice step above the ghetto shack I anticipated we could get for the newly revised price we were looking at, if indeed we were going to pay the whole price together: $800. So we drove to the offsite manager’s place, which was another complex a few blocks away, got the apps and went to a restaurant to fill them out over lunch. Then on the way back to the manager’s place, I asked her if this was okay, and well, fuck me, the whole thing opened up again! All sorts of cries that we talked about Claremont this and Claremont that, and that this is only good for me, and what about her? Fuck, I lost it then. We got to the truck and were shouting like mad, finally I tore up the apps and threw them out and said we really need to fucking decide what town we’re gonna be in because this half in-half out shit is messing things up big time. She doesn’t have an answer for how to actually pay for any place in Claremont, and yet, for weeks we’ve been looking HERE, not THERE for work and housing, which finally turned up something and was about to turn up some housing too.

She might feel her world is crashing down, and maybe it is. We both feel that way. But being totally ripped out of home, studio, familiar settings, and from friends, all while being pressed into doing a new job that I am really pretty ho hum about is a bit much, you know? Add to that I have to store or sell stuff that I have used and lived with for years, and some of it is the last of the stuff I have to inherit from my grandparents. She faces the commute plan, and she could commute with other SD residents, or take the train, or whatever. She has to buy a new car. She has to go to grad school and work part time. Who is getting off cheap here? Me? Her? Each is being thrust into something beyond challenging, but what the fuck? If we were supposed to live in Claremont, why spend the last few weeks looking here and nonchalantly packing and filling storage containers here? We should have been in Claremont! Of course, then my new job here would be utterly useless. And any talk of living in two apartments full time is financially out of the question, and she associates that with a divorce. Well, what the fuck? One of us has a job, we both have lots of reasons for being in San Diego, her original idea was to commute. Hell, maybe we should just go up to Berkeley where she could go to Pacific School of Religion (first choice, and one that she could get, since our minister is an alum there and could help her in) and we would be VERY clearly out of San Diego and would give up the idea of living in two places at all! And, at least we’d be around some other smart liberal minds and nicer land when the shit starts hitting the fan in the post-peak days.

Bloody hell. That’s all I have to say.

Monday
Jul182005

Whoa Nelly!

It has been quite a heavy few weeks—stressful in every way for Kelli and me. For this last weekend, the Kelli/Glenn/Ed contingent somehow managed to clean out the total abortion of a garage that is left here, prepared for a yard sale, put on a yard sale, cleaned up after the sale and distributed the many leftovers to church and Salvation Army. And, if that isn’t enough, we simultanously started to pack a couple of drive-off storage boxes with stuff that we don’t want to rush to carry around or want to store because downsizing from a four bedroom house to a smaller place is a trick. Kelli got an extremely nasty cough and has since passed it to me, which I feel I should attribute to the overwhelming amount of dust and gunk that has been disturbed. However, usually, after a few minutes of such dusty work, I usually get a nasty sneezing fit that goes on, which oddly was not present this time, despite half a week of such work, and keeping a fire going, as I heave outdated documents, wood scraps, utterly worthless clothing, and other stuff into the pyre. Kelli got a temp job in the couple days before we started this whole project, so she has been already taxed before she even starts doing the packing or moving. Her back pain has been an issue for her for three years now since her car accident, so she is always the first to wear out, but she has been a trooper. Glenn has a part time night gig at the local pizza shop, and he’s been here for a month now, and has made himself useful in so many ways. I had some real strong reservations about having him here while my domestic situation dissolved into anger and frustration with my old man’s choice to sell the place, and Kelli and I having some great issues about it all. But Glenn has lent a measure of stability, coupled with some breakthrough with my old man who opened up to me at least enough to make some clarity for what I must do in the near future.

Glenn and Kelli and me all end up on the porch each night, talking into the wee hours about all sorts of stuff. Kelli and I obviously have our moving to do, and her schooling to look forward to, and our job search, but Glenn has been going through the ringer himself as his wife seems to have decided she doesn’t need his presence in her life anymore, and used the ostensible three week period as a cover to inch him away while her mother was in town from Russia. So understandably, he’s out of his mind about all that, and the last month has been quite a time for all of us to sort out all sorts of things erupting against our wills. Somehow, he’s been totally gracious toward us, and perfectly respectful of our place and our lives. He’s been a great help around the house, not just as one more person to do the small work, but as a person to talk to about a huge range of topics. He also was a huge help in this moving project. Since about a week ago when his wife dropped the biggest bomb on him, we all have been contemplating getting a place together, and have spent some time looking for a place, but with all three of us being mostly unemployed, it's sort of a silly proposition when a landlord/manager takes a look at us.

Well, and there is a new development there too.

Today I went in for a second interview at AV Concepts where after three weeks of waiting, I finally got the job. This gig is substantial enough that it seems Kelli and I can remain in San Diego where all our church family and friends are. If she has her share of rent, we could pull off living in a cheap place that isn’t this house, and if Glenn is onboard too, we can bump up the rate and get a two bedroom or more. It was looking like Kelli and I would be moving to Claremont if we didn’t find work down here. The idea of having to be ripped out of San Diego is one thing, but the idea of being ripped from our community at church and as honorary members of some of the families was the part that I wasn’t looking forward to. It does appear that this will work now, and just in time—we have three weeks left here as of today, and I am scheduled to start at AVC on the first, and Kelli to start school about three weeks later. AV Concepts will be the first “real” job I have ever had in show production/audio/music. (Actually, they are more of video company than I realized.) In fact, it is sort of the first “real job” I have had in years, but as far as gainful employment, that could mean going back to mid-2001 before 9/11 which really slowed down my music/audio tech work and led me into the more modest and frankly satisfying home delivered meals jobs.

So, the tried and true adage still holds: crisis equals opportunity. I’m surprised I’ve been able to cope as well as I have, but in some regards, I have little or no choice, and finally, it seems that my cushy days are over, sad to say. In some ways, my marriage is just beginning now, this summer, even one year after the ceremony, because it is finally falling to Kelli and I to make things work without any family deals or whatever. When she is in school, she will be gone for three days and nights at a time, so I can use that time to either screw off, or part time some other work, and it seems like my Sundays will be free to keep doing church recordings and all. I’ve been more and more willing or able to let some of this stuff out into the universe. The universe will provide. It seems like it is doing so now.

Saturday
Jul092005

Dilemma

Kelli and I have been ousted from our home. It has been my home for seven years as a real resident, and before that for all my life, it was my grandparent’s house. So all my life, it has at least been my second home, if not my first. It was the place where Kelli and I started our relationship, then our marriage. For most of that time we thought we’d be basing all our life together on this place, at least until the suburban collapse led us to other places that were more livable. Aside from our personal connections, we aren’t really too happy with San Diego. But our personal connections are like family to us, and indeed they are most of the family we have. Most of it is directly or closely tied to our church, and since we both have a few roles we play in the church, as trustee, director of Christian Ed, or my roles as web designer and audio guy, we are hard pressed to leave San Diego, but Kelli’s school is in Claremont near Ontario, east of Los Angeles.

We are faced with a move no matter what, but the challenge is that neither of us are working now, and it has been a big slog trying to find work, either here or in the LA area. It's so much harder to find work in a place where you can’t go to interviews on the spot, or a place where you can’t just carpet bomb the shops on every street. And in SD, things aren’t much better. Kelli’s had some responses and interviews after her blast emails with resumes attached, but nothing so far. We have one calendar month before we are supposed to be out of here, but no dice. We have a basically assured housing situation in Claremont at the school, but no job there to continue paying on it once we do get there. And down here, if we can afford anything like a decent one bedroom place, we are still left with the cost of storing things, and her commute cost, plus her commuter housing cost, which piles another $420 or so onto whatever we pay for here in SD. The main charm of staying in SD is to be near people we know and love, and our social/church world, but Kelli would have to commute each week and stay three nights at the school. We don’t have work in either town, so it really comes down to which town we get work in.

Having lived in SD all my life, and venturing only a few miles from where I was born, it is an odd idea to move somewhere else. Claremont is a charming town in its core, and a sweet college town with lots of liberal minds and a generally nice vibe about it. Of course, it's in the greater LA area, so it's laden with smog and traffic. We went up recently and scoped the place out and got a good feeling about it, but it's still 115 miles away, making it hard to imagine how we can live there and keep up with our SD lives, without being total schmucks driving two hours each way. It smacks of hypocrisy to do that when I am a huge peak oil activist.

After years of getting a family discount or renting the cheap ass apartment I had for a year-point-five, I am not too accustomed to needing to pay real rent, and storage, and all that. Or I am not accustomed to needing to sell stuff to downsize. I have been selling some minor stuff from my musical collection, and we are looking at putting on our first yard sale to further trim the fat. I hate the idea of selling my furniture, because much of it makes a set, and most of that was stuff that my grandparents had for years, and kept well. I’ve tried to keep the stuff in comparable condition. Kelli and I have some of the usual crappy particle board crap that we can sell or burn or leave by the side of the road, but after that, there is still most of a house’s worth of stuff that I’d prefer to not sell, because it is sufficiently good that I would get use out of it for years, but also would not sell for a huge amount, at least not enough to matter. I just feel I’d be better off keeping it as some of the last heirlooms I’ll ever have.

So right now we are both at each other’s necks ready to remind the other who’s fault it is that we are in this bind, or ready to remind the other who needs to flex more to make this work. I just think it's a shitty time to be out of work and housing at once, and for a totally nonsensical reason. For a guy who is bracing mentally for the end of American life as we know it, the last thing I need to have on my plate is the worry about how to get by while my wife is at school, at the same time facing a mediocre economy, and one I have no wish to support with my slave labor. I amuse myself with ideas of joining some co-op community of some sort, at least to get some custom housing deal that isn’t oppressive, but here I am, looking at joining the real world at the age of nearly 32, racked with fear of economic wipeout, and the only safe option being the not-so-desireable return to my father’s house for what would be a 3rd spell. On one hand, I’d like to go off and live in some arrangement where money is not a defining criterion. But hardly any such groups exist in southern California, and I am just not ready, though it does seem such groups would have some advantages as the world-at-large experiences increasing dysfunction.

So it's a terrible bind. We spend our time deepening our relations with people here, but the reality is looking more like a move to Claremont, while we fret over the lack of jobs in either place. Grrrrrrrrrr.