Sunday, August 28, 2016

Double Eclipse

I keep reaching for my ID card.

I’ve been out of work for about three weeks now, but I’m so used to clipping my company ID card to my belt each morning that it feels weird leaving home without it.

The photo of me is atrocious and that little piece of plastic makes me feel like an animal that’s been sedated, tagged, and released back into the wild, but now I must admit that it’s a little scary not having one.

My sister-in-law is into astrology and I asked her to do a chart for me—yes, I’m that loopy—and she tells me that September will be marked by not one, but two eclipses, which in the zodiac world are signs of great change.

What kind of change, whether good or bad, is not specified and we don’t have any say in the matter anyway.

It’s just that I’ve had a big change already in seeing my magazine shutdown and the eclipses ain’t even here yet.

My sister-in-law tells me that these events are important for the mutable signs, like Gemini, which covers yours truly. The people in this group are supposed to be highly adaptable, flexible and communicative, which will come in handy on job interviews.

I’ve been following up leads when I can and I’ve turn to some of my own writing projects, but it feels strange not showing up for work at my building five days a week. And I keep reaching for that damn ID tag.

This is the second job to go south on me this year, and to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to lose one job may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.

I had only been at Crain’s for four months before the end came without warning or so much as a howdy-do. I was working in midtown near Grand Central and I was just getting familiar with the neighborhood.

Ahora Ocupando

I already had a few morning regulars that I’d greet as I walked down from the bus stop on Fifth Avenue to my office.

There was a cashier at Duane Reade on 42nd Street who was trying to teach me Spanish.

It started one morning when I walked in there and greeted her with a hearty “hola!” which is about the only Spanish I know.

But she was determined to change that and she’d converse with me in her native language, kindly translating when I was completely confoso.
We’d end our encounters by saying “mañana!” and I always had a smile on my face whenever I walked out of there, no matter how much grief was waiting for me at the office.

But now that’s all over; yes, we have no mañanas.

Then there’s Mike, an elderly African-American man who sits outside St. Agnes Church on 43rd Street with a cup by his side and a massive edition of the Bible in his hands.

Every morning I’d drop a dollar into his cup and Mike would say “how you doing, brother?” It was a nice morning ritual and it's a shame I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to either one of these nice people.

In my darker moments, when hope is eclipsed by fear, I worry that I’ll be sitting next to Mike on the church steps with my own plastic cup. Dios ayúdame…

But we shall not speak of such things. I have supportive friends and family, a reasonably good attitude, and a firm belief that there is more to life—and to me--than just a plastic ID card.

Let the eclipse begin.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

System Failure

I need to see an exorcist.

I finally got my computer back, but I paid a heavy price in the form of time, money and what’s left of my sanity.

On Friday morning I want to the repair place on Seventh Street expecting to pick up my machine two weeks after it croaked on me, and then zip on back home to write, blog, screw around on YouTube, and look for work.

Well, that all went merrily straight to Hell in a hatbox as I had to wait nearly an hour before I got the goddamn thing, only to bring it home—via car service—to find that there was some kind of glitch with the email.

So I called the repair place. Their solution? Bring the computer back to downtown Brooklyn—via car service again.

I couldn’t believe my ears. I finally had the machine back home and now I had to do an about-face?

So back downtown I go, and the techies fiddled with it while I burned for a total of five minutes before clearing up the problem—which they somehow couldn’t do over the phone.

And then I had to call car service yet again and lug the computer home--again.

But just as I was struggling up the steps with the computer, a terrible sick feeling washed over me--and a quick search of the computer box confirmed my fears.

The techie had removed the power cord from the computer but neglected to put it back. So I had a computer but no way to switch on the son-of-a-bitch.

“Daisy, Daisy, Give Me Your Answer Do…”

The repair store agreed to deliver the cord to my house and once it arrived I figured my troubles were over.

Oh, hell no. I tried to use Microsoft Word, but it seems I needed some kind of number to reactivate the software and, of course, I had no such number.

Okay, this is where when I went berserk.

There’s no other way to say this. I cursed, I fumed, and I must have terrified the neighbors and probably the commuters on the Staten Island ferry.

What stopped anyone in the immediate vicinity from calling the police or Animal Control, I don’t know. But I’m truly ashamed of myself and I’m wondering if I should work nights so I won’t have to show my face to anyone.

Maybe I could drive for a car service.

Part of the problem is that I am so incredibly clueless about computers that I feel totally stranded when they go kaput. If I had a little more knowledge—and if I kept better records—I’d be a lot happier.

But, of course, I pretty much guarantee these temper tantrums are going to happen because I don’t take the time to learn about these devices that control so much of our lives.

Right now I’m like a caveman with stereo. I like the pretty music but if the sound dies I start banging my chest and swinging my club.

I had to call Microsoft twice before I could finally get the number and get back on line.

Now all I need is a job.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Bear Market

I'll keep this short and sour.

My computer is still on the fritz and I'm hunting and pecking this post on my I-phone.
But wait there's more.

I am also out of work, unemployed, and about to go back on the dole. The job I accepted just four short months ago has gone belly-up. It seems the publication I hired on to had been losing money for a while and could not be salvaged.

I learned this appalling news on Tuesday during a conference call from the Chicago office. I actually thought it was a joke and I was ready to say "knock it off; it ain't funny."

Only it was no joke. And it still ain't funny.

I have to be honest: the shock has not worn off yet.

So now it's back to searching the want ads, applying for openings, going out on interviews and hoping from hell to breakfast that I find something pretty damn quick.

I go back to my dad's motto: scared money never won. I know he was right but it's hard not be scared at a time like this. But that will only make things worse.

Last night I went down to Pier 1 to see the New York Classical Theater's production of "A Winter's Tale." The location is beautiful, the actors were fabulous--especially that poor bastard who had to wear a bear suit in this hideously hot weather--and it was free, which is very important right now.

After the show I walked down to the river and looked out at Manhattan's beautiful lights. This city can make you feel like a mite and a monarch simultaneously. I felt insignificant with one breath and invincible in the next.

Now I'm being chased by the bear. I can let him devour me or I can skin the son-of-a-bitch and have him for supper.

Does anyone know any recipes for bear stew?

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Summer Clearance

Well, at least I cleaned out the closet.

That’s about the only good thing I can say about Friday, a two-ton, four-alarm fiasco of a day--except of course, for the fact that I got through it alive and managed to stay out of the loony bin.

Yes, it really was that bad.

It started early in the morning when my faithful Apple computer up and croaked on me after years of dedicated service. I pressed the On button, heard the familiar baritone beat, and looked at a shockingly blank screen.

I hit a few buttons, did the on and off routine, and nothing happened.

I felt panic surging through me, but I tried my best to keep my nutsy behavior in check. Check it tonight after work, I told myself, and if it’s still on the fritz bring it to the repair shop. And then I asked, please God, let this be the worst thing to happen me today.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

Absolutely everything I put my hand to promptly went belly-up. I was making stupid mistakes at work. I just could not get a single thing to go right for me.

In The Bag

Naturally my nasty little mind tied all these events into one grand conspiracy, so when that ambulance that pulled alongside of me on Fifth Avenue while I was talking to my auntie on the phone, naturally it was blaring it sirens just to harass me—as opposed to getting some poor sick person to the hospital as quickly as possible.

When the day finally ended I hightailed it home to see if my computer had miraculously come to life, but it was still in a coma. And that’s when I decided to clean out my closet…sort of.

I needed to get the box the computer came in so I could get the serial number and give it to the tech support person at Apple. But there was so much crap in my closet I wasn’t even sure if the box was still there.

That tiny little space was bursting with plastic shopping bags that I keep for garbage and other uses.

For years I just tossed them into the closet without looking. Well, on Friday night I finally looked and was horrified to hell and back. How in God’s holy name did this happen?

It happens when you don’t pay attention, when you let stuff pile up and pretend everything’s okay, when it really isn’t. It was time for a change. I filled two big trash bags with those little plastic buggers and I’m throwing the hell out of my house and my life. And I found my computer box.

Apple couldn’t help me, even though they forced me to listen to 20 minutes of seriously atrocious music. My sister very kindly gave me a lift to the local repair place on Saturday and I’m hoping for some good news from the technician while I write this post on a borrowed laptop.

I think of the junk I keep piled up in my head, all the worries, fears, resentments and other toxic material. It’s time for another cleanup.