9 03 2013

It is often said that when it rains it pours, and when one lives in Michigan that is generally true. The days of the light sprinkle are over. I remember as a child when it would sprinkle outside, it was fun to run around in that shit. Nowadays though, sheets of water pour from the sky. So too it seems that when one thing goes wrong in your life, other things tend to gain momentum snowballing into an avalanche of wretchedness that buries even the strongest of Swiss Chalets. Enough with all the weather metaphors, they only serve to wind power my storm cloud of intense rage directed primarily at my home telephone and internet provider, who shall go unnamed.

Questioning why I was spending just under $100 each month to retain a home phone line and ‘high speed internet’, which left me exposed to a vast array of telemarketers, I opted to call said provider to see if there was a way that I might be able to save $20 or $30 per month for never using the phone. I will admit, I roll old school and somehow I just feel better having a house line. Of course a dial phone would be preferable, cause when the electricity is out you are shit out of luck with the cordless crap that constitutes the modern home phone. If I wanted a battery pack next to my head I would have tried out to be one of Brittany’s backup singers. Somehow lost are the days of the 30 ft cord that would enable me to take the telephone from my parents room into my own, often crawling under my vanity into the room inside the room I fashioned to keep the demons at bay. My folks caught on quick, adding a phone jack to my room, which naturally incurred yet more wrath from my siblings who believed I lived a rather cushy lifestyle as the youngest in our pack.  As I haven’t blogged in over half a year, it seems I have a rather large portion of digression to spoon into this porridge like missive. Back to the outrage at hand.

So, yeah, I call up said internet/phone provider to see if we can somehow reach an understanding that doesn’t have me spending so much each month for a service that falls under ‘nice to have’ not need to have. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for DSL. When I don’t have internet connectivity, I am ready to cut a bitch. Thankfully, I have experienced rather consistent internet connectivity for quite some time. So much so I rolled the cable dice a year or so ago and went cold turkey, relying solely on Apple Television and that bullshit Hulu Plus for my nightly fix of mindless entertainment. While Netflix provided a tad more hope going from full cable with HBO to on demand wireless oriented episodes of the New Girl was a little rough. I didn’t complain, it saved me about $80 a month or yet another bar tab in my quest not to do anything that required my brain to retain any important information.

So called I did, nice at first, but the first girl I spoke really couldn’t make the kind of deals that I was looking for from my telephone provider, so she sent me to the ‘last ditch effort before service is canceled’ girl. Girl number two, or Last Ditch as I like to call her – she and I didn’t really hit it off. She was nonplussed by my desire to save money, and now, in retrospect it has hit me, that she may have been pure evil. Perhaps it was true, Satan sent one of his daughters to earth to learn how better to toy with human weakness, so that when she returns to the fiery abyss she may stoke the coals gingerly over the tiny feet of unbaptized babies. This woman was not only not helping me, she entirely fucked up my world. (On a side note, I too have often wondered if I am one of Satan’s daughters and in times of duress have searched for a mark and or telling visual as proof. Also, I don’t need some phone operator to fuck up my life, I am quite adept at doing so all on my own.)

Last Ditch came up with a plan, though she was throwing around numbers like a gypsy running a shell game. Somehow, I got fewer services for the phone, which was fine, but more bandwith for the interweb, which considering my love of the high speed internet sounded alright with me. For two dollars less a month (allegedly no strings attached) I would have 4mb per second faster download. Going from ‘pro’ to ‘elite’. It seemed like a no- brainer.

Massive digression number two. (just 2 you ask? hell, I don’t know). I once, in my youth was fond of the art house pictures, one in particular amused me called Highway 61. A Canadian film about a guy, played by Don McKellar who was pretty much the only working actor in Canadian film of the early nineties. Anyhow, there was a character in this film called Mr. Skin, he was the devil, and he messed with people a lot. For another film reference think Bedazzled, with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Poor Dudley signing his soul over only to have the terms of the contract shifted ever so slightly. It really teaches someone to read the fine print. Alright, back to the task at hand, transcribing my contempt.

Last Ditch promised me super speedy internet, whittled down my phone service, and yet she was still a bit vague about the numbers. Never you mind, there were no strings attached, I didn’t have to sign a contract, it was all on the up and up. It would take a day for the phone service to change, and two for the interweb. Then, I would be able to download at a speed of 6mb a second. Oh the browsing! No more buffering on Hulu. The time went by quickly, and then, the night of the promised speed upgrade, the Hulu was being difficult. So too the Netflix (always reliable when Hulu decides to suck, which is semi-often). I went upstairs to look at my modem, a friend since 2004,and there were all kinds of red lights flashing. Usually, this required a simple reboot, and so I did and was greeted with a sea of solid red. Ok. No problem, a simple call to tech support should remedy whatever it was that was off. Over an hour later, tech support’s solution, after lecturing me on modem and router configuration was that we should wait another 36 hours because ‘sometimes it takes the full 48 hours to kick in’.  Sure, right, and I am a 17 year old super model from Lithuania who is about to get her first Vogue Australia cover. Worse yet? I was facing a Friday night without tv, or internet. Off to the corner bar for me.

Saturday came and went, there was little change in internet service. I quickly sped to Target to buy a TV antenna. If I was to be denied the internet, at least I was going to make an attempt at television legitimacy with an antenna. Luck was momentarily on my side as I found it all simple to configure and was watching Bounce in no time. The often whispered about three PBS stations were present, but of course it was pledge drive time. Even luckier, the many evangelical stations seemed to have connectivity issues. I watched the local news for the first time in probably a decade and was shocked to see Carmen Harlan’s freckles in high definition. This antenna temporarily placated me, but I was still in pain. I couldn’t surf the internet while watching TV, which really is how I spend my down time.  I clearly needed to go out and get hammered.

Thankfully sleeping all day keeps you away from the internet, but by Monday night things were no better and it was time for another call to said ‘provider’.  We trouble shot and I watched many lights blink on and off and red and green, and it was decided that I must need a new modem. This modem could be procured at their store, or an electronics store such as Best Buy, but make sure to buy the one with ‘their’ logo on it so it works. Fine. At this point I was despondent, so to Best Buy I went. Surely this would fix the problem. Thank Mortiis that there was a Taco Bell next door.

I have often considered myself world weary, but as of this week I am wondering if maybe I am just dimwitted. A country hayseed constantly tricked by these big city shysters.  Following the instructions I set up said modem, but alas, the lights remained red. I went to bed, a handful of pills my only friend.

The next day I knew I had to psych myself up for another time funnel. This call, was rife with negativity. Largely my own, and finished with the lady tech saying ‘ma’am, I wouldn’t spend 51 minutes on the phone with you if I didn’t think we could fix your problem’, to which I replied, ‘can someone please explain to me why there is a problem? seriously!? everything worked. I merely upgraded because it was suggested by doing so that I could save money’. She was of the mindset that the line itself was troubled, so a service call was in order. We bandied opinions about that for a bit, swapping convenient times. Oh, no wait, that didn’t happen and it was suggested that a tech come Sunday morning between 8am and 11am. That seemed easier than her previous suggestion of me staying home from work all day Friday, so I complied.

The next day, day 8 of my hostage crisis I would just look at the red lights forlornly, wondering if they were sending me some sort of morse code. At least at work I could log on, but my life was now flat, and empty. My cell phone range, a non-descript number and I answered it how I usually do with a slightly hostile, ‘take me off your list’. This time, it was once again tech support letting me know, that there had been line trouble, but it had been magically fixed by elves, or fairies, or quite possibly demons, but that I was to head home when I could and check it. Naturally this was enough reason to leave work early – so home I went. All lights were on, all wires connected. I phoned the new special number I had and spoke with a tech who revealed a little more to me, but not nearly enough. I had fast internet, we did the speedtest. But it was hard wired. My mission, after 45 minutes, was to call them back the next day and if it still worked, I wouldn’t have to get up at 8 am Sunday morning for the tech.

Saturday came, the ethernet plugged into laptop was functional. However any attempts to reconfigure my once stellar wireless were being met with disdain by the modem. I called again, to cancel the appointment, but to plead with these wicked overlords for some sort of morsel of knowledge that could somehow right my upended world.  The man’s name was Seneca and he told me more than he should about what was happening. Truth is, that modem doesn’t like to talk to MACs, but for $15 a month I could have all the tech support I wanted. It is true I had grown accustomed to these calls, relying on them largely for my social interaction in a week I had no desire to leave the house. But still, didn’t that negate the original savings offered? Seneca was empowered, and he googled some shit, and got me on my way.

Oh, I still don’t have wireless internet nor my Apple TV back. I am way in the hole as far as time and money are concerned. It is pretty likely with time springing forward that I will be awoken by a phone tech that didn’t receive the two cancellations that I called in. But tomorrow is another day. It is a day, when my neighborhood will be filled with the fake Irish, drinking, and urinating, and drawing shamrocks on their faces. What could be more wonderful than that? Tonight, if I dream, if the pills allow it, maybe there will be a stranger that approaches my door, slightly sober and filled with tales of IPv4’s, PPPoE’s and DNS routing numbers. Someone that understands magic, and voodoo and tells stories of unicorns. And maybe, just maybe when I wake up in the morning everything will be as it was. More than likely though, I will probably end up shaving my head and seeing the dreaded mark that I have always known was there. If that happens, no doubt there is a job waiting for me in  tech support on Monday.



4 06 2012

Back in my time in exile in lovely, yet slightly off Hermosa Beach, I longed for outdoor space. Due to the fine weather in southern California, having outdoor space is like having an additional room. It was on my list of things I was looking for in a rental, so it is curious that I ‘settled’ for a space that had little. Sure, there was a front porch, but it was on Eighth Street which I was soon to learn was one of the busiest streets in town connecting the PCH with the coast.  And while there was a bench on that porch which was practically a sidewalk, it was mostly used by families leaving the beach as a place to wash the sand off their kids feet and put on their shoes, or on another documented occasion as a holding cell for some local ne’er do wells. It was not the grotto back yard that I dreamed of, where one would take their morning coffee and read literature and international newspapers. If only I had chosen Venice instead.  Sure, I could sit out there and talk to my shirtless neighbor upon occasion, or greet the world’s happiest postal carriers, but that has never been my thing. Instead, I sat inside, blinds drawn, listening to the screams of the oppressed on Doomed by Soma FM lamenting the fact that there just wasn’t suitable outdoor space. As a matter of fact, it was a treacherous outdoor space, as presented here, in Exhibit A. The morning after the great car crash of 2008, when the mother of the year took out about 8 cars on our block before returning to her garage only to be apprehended by the authorities. It was on that night I learned I lived in ‘the ghetto’ of Hermosa Beach. I guess this affected my opinion of my outdoor space. It was no haven, instead to sit out there would have me be a target.

(it should be noted that the Tonka truck was a company car, I would never choose such an ostentatious color. That being said, other drivers could certainly see me coming)

A target for car, human or unpleasantness. Never mind the fact that Hermosa Moses could be lurking almost anywhere, waiting…simply waiting for me to slip up. Instead, my outdoor space, my desired ‘grotto’ never manifested. I would be impressed by other’s yards, or spaces, but never my own. Don’t even suggest the back porch for that was just an alleyway for garbage cans. There was no balcony, no deck. Just an unruly next door neighbor who had trouble keeping his ladies in line.  Sure, when I stayed at the company condo there was a lovely rooftop deck with an ocean view, but seldom did I journey up two floors from my ground floor lair to partake. “Too much sun” I cried! There will be none of that.  No, I rarely left the lair until late afternoon to walk or ride my bike to the Mermaid. It can be said, without hesitation, that I did not maximize my time in southern California in all matters outdoors.

Fast forward a few years to Detroit. Back home I felt little pressure to be outdoors for Michigan is known for it’s inclement weather. One must not consider outdoor space when choosing a home as it can only be maximized from June to September and that is if you are very lucky. The fates determine whether or not there will be sun, and sometimes, like bad children we are punished, having not done our universal chores to warrant a sun allowance. I am comfortable with this dynamic. Comfortable with being punished by the gods for my assumed Viking heritage. My communal back yard has never been the California grotto that I dreamed of, nor have I even considered it here for some reason. Then, good neighbors moved in. The kind that like to plant things, and tend to things and make things nice.  You should know something about condo people, generally condo people are people that do not care for the maintenance arts. I am lazy, and I am at the top end of the spectrum for ‘doing’ in the world of condo people. All of this was a new an interesting idea for me when deciding to settle down and acquire a mortgage. New and effortless was key, as I have never viewed myself as a ‘fixer upper’. The good neighbors made me feel like a slacker, and for the first time, I found myself desiring to meet the communal expectations of the proper yard/outdoor space. While the hours they spent gardening were certainly not shared by me, I did decide to spruce up my porch a bit. Creating an outdoor nook if you will. It is by no means a grotto, but it will do in a pinch. Today, I forced myself to type this outdoors, in the sun, after getting news from my Doctor that I am Vitamin D deficient. Not shocking for me and all the other Twilights’ who eschew all things sun. Granted there is my ongoing battle with the birds who have taken residence in my dryer vent. And there is my loathing of my next door neighbor to contend with, the thorn in the side of this condo association. But I remained outside, forcing myself to come to terms with my California quest. If I had had the perfect outdoor space there, would I have used it? How often are we in love with an idea that has so little to do with our true self?

I have yet to determine whether or not I am an outdoor person. When I was a kid, I was outside all the time, digging foxholes, manufacturing war, climbing trees, swimming. But all that changed as I grew older and I chose the indoors, the TV, the sedentary life. At some point I opted to shut myself off from the world and chose to only visit it in imagined spaces that could never be attained in reality.

I found a couple chairs on Craigslist about a month ago, right look, right price, and so my Grotto began. It is too soon to tell if it will stick, because it is nearly impossible to find a cursor on a sunny screen and the FreePeople webpage seems harder to shop from outdoors. But me and my sunscreen are giving it a try.  Who needs California? Exhibit B, and so it begins….

The Sunday Stroll

29 04 2012

Staying up until 4 am on Saturday night does not bode well for a productive  Sunday morning and my current waking hour of 8, definitely got pushed back, way back. At least the stench of bourbon was not upon me as it was the morning past. I reluctantly arose in a most foul mood. Some days it is far too difficult to conceal the rage of my poor life choices catching up with me. Sunday mornings at the crack of noon they become inescapable.  When the mood is too foul, I find it best to wander. I love walking. It is my sport of choice, jogging being far too savage for my delicate constitution. The casual stroll, at say three miles per hour for this calorie counter is slow enough to take in the day and brisk enough to burn off the imagined donuts of shame. I have been in a bit of a rut as of late, and the only two things keeping me afloat are spinning and walking, for those are things the other cannot muck up.  So stroll I did, camera phone in tow ready to record any suspicious activity.  I headed down Bagley as I usually do, as there are hills and obstacles which make one believe they are working harder then they are.  The Bagley Pedestrian bridge is a formidable opponent when viewed from the downside, and it took me awhile to cross over it, my fear of bridges going back to childhood and a consumed National Geographic article about the logistics of Chappaquiddick. The Bagley Pedestrian bridge is interesting to be sure, once pristine, now slowly slipping into Detroit care which is slightly less than other major metropolitan areas. It seems the Clean Up Detroit crews have not made it quite this far. I also feel as though the wire does not go high enough, but that is just an opinion of this would be jumper, if only I had more ambition. As it stands I silently judge it on the cross over. It makes me uneasy, like white lines on a highway, just taunting you to cross them. I am never really sure what keeps me on the road, maybe that is why it is best to zone out to Mono whilst driving. Mono however wasn’t not on selection for this morning’s stroll. Regardless, I stayed within the lines.

After the bridge crossing and return I headed over to Detroit Farm and Garden to check out their new and spectacular patio furniture. My obsession with all things Woodard confirmed by the bench they had,a replica from my childhood backyard. I needed to press on, for coffee was my next goal, and I live largely in part on a reward based system.  Coffee at Astro would be my reward for walking through the Vernor tunnel. Granted it was broad daylight, but I have done my best to avoid said Vernor tunnel after being chased through it in my car a few years back by a meth addled Manson looking type. As I neared the tunnel, I saw another pedestrian ambling that way, as fate would have it, it was the very driver of the car that chased me. It was clear that the universe was indeed pushing me on for myself and my former tormentor would both be on foot passing through the tunnel at the same time, as we had been speeding through in cars on that fateful evening – this time, he still trailing me, on foot, with zero recollection of this shared encounter. I stayed on one side, whilst he on the other, and against my usual leanings, I opted to jog, to put a little more space between me and my demon. I don’t feel that way about all of my demons mind you, just the ones that are visible to everyone else and walk, and mutter and chase me with their cars.  I lost Manson in the tunnel and emerged on the front side of the station passing through it’s fancy urban garden. It’s minimal maze quality not lost on me, as I likened Manson Jr to a Minotaur behind me.  A few more streets to cross and it was Astro time, a place I normally love, though this morning it was a bit vexing, largely in part to the girl skyping on her computer and the twin 1890’s Portland beards on some dudes that came in from the back. Isn’t having the same type of beard akin to ladies wearing the same outfits at awards shows? I feel there should be some sort of shame base for men of comparative beards, but they seemed oblivious to what will no doubt be a someecard joke at some point over the course of May. While the beards were annoying, I do have to give some props to the highly attractive male model type waiting for his coffee. I almost forgot it was Detroit for like 30 seconds. Then, I hit the street again. We can’t get soft. I wasn’t stopping until 300 calories were burned, handsome stranger or not. Besides, to know him, would be to hate him.

It seemed a perfect day, yet my mood did not lighten. Usually exercise and being surrounded by attractive people brings about a better mood, it would seem that today it could not. So goes the struggle. I headed back towards the home front determined to find some sort of brunchable to partake in. This too can be a challenge in a half city. Oh sure, eggs can be had, but egg whites? That is what I am talking about. I just kept walking…


22 04 2012

I have been lazy as hell lately when it comes to writing. I find, that I make my work-life all encompassing be it bar-life or production, so the putting of words to screen falls by the wayside. Instead the time that could be spent writing gives way to time spent drinking and lamenting about not writing. In this folly I know I am not alone. Time spent drinking is time spent not doing anything that is remotely good for you, and instead you fall into somewhat ridiculous conversations with whoever happens to be sitting next to you at the bar. Last night’s conversation was particularly vexing, as I made a bold and blanket statement that Waldorf schooling destroys one’s ability to do simple, uncomplicated math. I made this statement having two pieces of evidence, one, long ago, whilst staying with a friend who lived at the Rudolph Steiner house in Ann Arbor. While this visit had zero to do with math, it had everything to do with my perception of a Waldorf school, right down to it’s rainbow colored walls and color shading. That immediately etched the idea of ‘douchery’ into my mind grapes, so when I was confronted with a co-worker who was schooled Waldorfully, and he had no zest for the arithmetic arts, an opinion, albeit (possibly) incorrect, was formed. America is a country of opinions so I jokingly voiced mine. Now most folks would find humor in something that comes out of my mouth at a bar after 1 am, but the gentleman sitting next to me whose two children are currently attending a Waldorf school took some offense to my statement, and went on a long winded lecture as to why I was wrong, and why Rudolf Steiner is right.  What a sweet and dull bunch of crap that is to entertain when you are trying to get your drink on. Thankfully my friend stepped in and then things got way more entertaining. Friends don’t let friends talk to dullards. I love my friends.

Enough of last night, Meanderings is about TODAY! Today I opted for an afternoon walk as I am want to do whenever I have free time and feel a bit like Jabba due to my conspicuous consumption and obsession with all things caloric. As three bikers resplendent in bike shorts and biking jerseys cruised by me, I realized I have yet to wax poetic on my feelings about the ‘recumbent bikes of Redondo Beach being the Jazzy Scooters of Detroit’. This blog was founded on the perceived (by me) differences of Southern California and my dear sweet city Detroit, during my time in exile in Hermosa Beach. As I have been embraced again in the sweet confines of this troubled city I have lost some of my quizzical edge of the simple happiness building activities of those who choose to live in a blissfully mild climate and returned to my lazy complacency of the life half lived. At least I just gave up cable, baby steps. So, long, long story short, I happened upon a tumbleweave on today’s walk and it was indeed a glorious one. This tumbleweave did not give up without a fight I fear, for it was majestic in size. I opted to snap a photo deciding that today I would force myself to write about the things I saw on my walk. Boring for the reader, oh yes, but this isn’t for you. It is for the beauty of a city rife with tumbleweaves and sorely lacking in recumbent bicycles. Though, I must add to my dismay, on another walk but a short month ago I saw a man on one, which filled me with a great and overpowering fear. What is next? A juice bar? A self tanning salon? The mind reels at the possibilities. Before I wander on another path of thought, I present my photo. A truly inspiring specimen of tumbleweave if ever there was one. I only wish I had my phone on a previous walk last week, when I saw a tuft of blond tumbleweave, rather rare if I do say so myself. And I do, often.  As the walk continued I began to snap other photos, now having a purpose to write aside from my own creative fulfillment which is clearly a low priority.  I present my next photo, I feel speaks for itself, and yes, it was shot using Hipstamatic, and why wouldn’t it be? Phone apps will replace all important photography from here on out by cutting out that sweet and pesky middleman, known as talent – and allowing us all to think ourselves worthy of ‘having an eye’. Eat a bag of dicks Cartier-Bresson.  I like to call this one “Happy at Last”. I snapped a few more, completely devoid of any artistic aspiration and solely to learn how to post photos into these missives, because sometimes you need a visual reference when words become tiresome. Ah, meandering.  It definitely got me thinking about my old oceanside walks in Hermosa down the Strand, hoping not to run into Hermosa Moses for I feared him and his power. It seemed near the end, he became aware of me, naturally not as aware as I was of him, but enough to make me uncomfortable to be sure. Perhaps that is really what triggered my return from exile, a fear that a little bit of Detroit will follow me wherever I go, like a Satyr’s tail. It is hopeless to run for this city will always catch up with me. As the walk continued I snapped a few more shots, somewhat uninspired in their taking. I shall post one more, if only to use WordPress’ photo alignment options to their fullest. I am nothing if not thorough in exploring all my options.

I am delighted to see that the right alignment enables me to type alongside the photos. Sundays are all about learning friends, and in the absence of cable, and my walk now long over, perhaps I shall read a book. Or continue to listen to Mogwai. I will finish laundry, because that is what productive people do with their spare time right? Mundane tasks designed to perpetuate existence. Always seeking to clean that which cannot be cleaned, the mind grapes. Maybe I will read the wikipedia page on Rudolph Steiner, but it looks like it has too many big words, so South Park on Netflix looks way more appealing. Or perhaps another walk, this time to the Post Office, where the possibilities of blog topics are endless.


6 02 2012

At first, I thought maybe 2012 was going to be my year. I did not spend January 1st throwing up this year, and the worst thing that happened were a few unidentified scrapes on my arm and my inability to locate my false eyelashes. I remembered the majority of the good time I had the night before, that was showing a great deal of progress from my last bender of 2011 which took place in late October in Brooklyn, the highlights deleted almost as quick as they happened. For that, I blame the brown liquors. It seemed as though 2012 would be alright as years go, somehow breaking the spell of the tail end of 2011 which had been so treacherous. For one, it was now 2012 and my brother was not only alive, but showing signs of improvement.  For two, I had learned a great deal about the goodness of people.  I am a bit of a skeptic, and in life have made conscious choices, and sometimes not so conscious choices to surround myself with some people that weren’t quite on the up and up.  But at the tail end of 2011 I had the bad fortune to meet some very good people, and I started to realize that maybe, just maybe, there are more good people out there than bad. These good people, in the form of Nurses, Doctors, Neighbors, Friends and Family seemed present everywhere, be it the way that my brother was cared for despite his rather large and constantly questioning entourage, or the way my sister-in-laws neighbors dropped off food for her and the family upon hearing of my brother’s misfortune. My own friends were ever vigilant in checking in for status updates, even when I didn’t feel like telling people stuff, or sharing information. I watched with fascination at how my family was tireless in their support of my brother. I started to think that maybe there are more good people in this country than bad, even though all we ever hear in the news are horrible stories about the condition of mankind and the universe in which we live.

I began to think that maybe shit was going to get better, after all, if you have all these good people, all you need is a common goal and you can change the world. It was then the universe started it’s barrage of testing, first of course, cosmetically. With vanity an ever pressing demon in my world I was forced to endure stress related (and delicious new coffee shops) Rosacea. My cheeks becoming speckled beacons of heat from morning until night. As I am oft trying to look for the reason something is happening, I assumed I was being punished for reigniting my cocktail consumption at a fierce pace. Then, the weight started creeping on. Jeez, can’t a girl have a little snack after a night at the bar? Apparently not. Well, despite visual hideousness I pressed on with my positive attitude, not allowing the increasing tightness of my pants to blind my new found belief in the goodness of some of mankind. Then, the inevitable happened. Somebody sucked, and just when I let my guard down too. Sure I needed to blow off a little steam, and by blow off steam I mean I needed to get hammered old school style. So goes the fates, there was a bit more steam to be blown than I had originally intended and the night ended with a great deal more booze consumed and a cell phone stolen from my very pocket. I felt a fool, but worse than that, I felt wildly hungover and didn’t possess the wits it takes to deal with all the treachery of identity theft.

I remember it vividly, both the hang and phoneover, I felt lost. Without this device, what would I do when I first rolled over in the morning to shut off the alarm? As of late I had grown used to checking emails from the comfort of my bed before rising to begin the day’s duties. Even worse, I had no one’s number, save for the handful I still remember from a time that they had land lines that transferred over. So not only did I have no iPhone, I had no cell phone and no way to find or call anyone. I felt lost at a time it was dangerous for me to be so. Like the axis that my world had been  spinning on had shifted and I had no idea how I was to receive or disseminate information. As of late I had become the conduit for my immediate family connecting them with extended family all revolving around my brother’s hospital stay. I only knew one of these numbers by heart and the others were not written down in any address book or phone book. What if something bad happened? I was isolated, and it felt uncomfortable. I went back to sleep.

When I awoke I decided it was time to suspend activity on the phone. As cooler heads prevailed I still felt sick, this nagging, how the hell was I going to get ahold of anyone? What if they were trying to get ahold of me? Never mind the fact that in ten year’s time we have grown completely accustomed to having a device track our every move and enable people to reach us at all times, including employers. The cell phone was a massive part of my work as a producer and one rarely powered it off during the entire show production process. I had suffered the last time I had turned mine off and woken to have a message from my nephew on there explaining that I needed to come to the hospital. I am well aware that this ‘convenience’ also binds me to a world where I can no longer concentrate on a single thought, focus on an entire dinner conversation or sit through anything without repeatedly and habitually checking my phone. It allows for instant action and reaction. Proof that something is happening is recorded via text or photo. The electronic world has replaced the real world and thought can be known as quickly as they are manufactured. I have lamented on this page before about how the recording of a moment has superseded actually existing in that moment. It is as if everyone doubts that what they are experiencing is genuine and must record it for rehashing at a later date. These super phones provide some sort of historical validation making us even more insecure in the process. Did that happen, let me check? I will just review the texts that I have saved to give you the blow by blow, there, you see, that is what they said and this is when they said it. Perhaps we have ceased to trust others, or more disturbingly ourselves in our every day interactions, and instead rely on video messages to confirm it. Still, once this phone was taken from my I was agitated, I was also exposed. All my private conversations were in the hands of someone unknown, as were photographs of me and my friends, emails related to work, my home address, messages from my mother. Losing a device like this makes for a crippling vulnerability, and now, while I was already weak, the universe shot this arrow into my deflated heart. Not all people are good, in fact some people are really shitty. Especially the kind of person that would sit in your chair, reach in your pocket and walk away with your phone.

Naturally after the loss of my iPhone I began to wonder just what was the take away from this situation, what was I supposed to be learning from the process? To cut the tether that bound me to this information device? To not give over my life to something electronic? Or perhaps to relearn to focus. Immediately I began my phone recovery jihad, calling AT&T (dicks), reviewing the numbers called after my phone was no longer mine. Cab companies were called and addresses procured, the final number called being the suspiciously being held by the same name of the person I suspected of liberating me from this critical device. I left him messages on both this number and at work, yet still there was nothing. Perhaps I was wrong, or perhaps my pleas mattered not to him, after all if he was the type to go in a pocket of a coat that wasn’t his, he was probably the type not to give a shit about whether or not I was reconnected with my lost data. It is shocking the amount of information you can find about people on the internet and by making a little effort and soon the search was underway to find enough information about this person to justify the vulnerability I felt. Then Apple let me know that the phone was turned on, as my password was enabled to lock it out. A small victory followed by another failure by the fine folks at AT&T who would be happy to sell you another Apple product at $400, but somehow will not notify their stores of your IMEI number so that they don’t sell service to the thief. I also learned that people that are making money off of you and your misfortune, truly don’t give a fuck what happens to you. They just smile and hate you all the while they are doing so, so goes retail. They were nothing like the nurses.

As the week wore on and I used a pathetic excuse for a replacement phone I knew I would not form any attachment to I got annoyed, mostly at myself for allowing something that I did not need to usurp my existence on this planet. Me and my phone were fused into one tight little package and I no longer had the confidence of memory. In the old days, things would happen organically and you either had a good time or you didn’t and you remembered what you could of the event to tell stories at a later date. Sometimes if the event was interesting or special enough you took photographs that you would later get developed and have on file to recall. I have always been obsessive about having those moments recorded as if I didn’t trust my own judgement to recall them and instead needed evidence to prove it happened. I have always needed proof that something good happened to me so that I can remember it, perhaps not as it was, but at what I needed myself to believe it was. A supplement for my own lack of confidence.  That is all this ‘smart phone’ had become, a convenient way for me to rely on something that wasn’t me, or my memory or experience. I had proof for myself to review at any given time that something had happened whether I felt deserving of it or not. This device both empowered and weakened me, but it didn’t make me a better person, just a more dependent one.

A week later I went and asked the thief face to face about the phone, and he pointed to his buddies phone to as if that was it, of course it wasn’t. Of course he never bothered to call me back, or return it. But I learned something more important, I felt better about doing something to stand up for myself, and I have no control over something that someone else is going to do. If he needed to take it, and lie about it, then he needs it more than I did and do. I have my memories of my brother’s texts to me. I have Wondershare Data Recovery for iPhone. I also have the power to wipe the device clean and make sure it is never used by anyone again. So goes the blacklist.

Perhaps another way to look at this, is to look at what is really important here and to weigh it against some really heavy shit that actually matters.  I lost a phone, and even though I loved it, and all it could do it was really just a device made by people who ultimately not only want to profit off of me financially, they want me to be weak and dependent on their convenience so that they can if need be, sell information about me to the highest bidder. Yes, I love you iPhone, because you give me an excuse to never pay attention, never pick up a phone book, and you are an easily accessible vanity reference – but I don’t need you, because I have a brain that works the way that it should, firing correctly, processing data correctly, doing all the things that it did before you were invented. I own my memories and conversations,  and no one can access them, or sell them without my consent. My brother has been forced to have to relearn this entire process that makes his brain, his memories and his body work the way that it should. I can live without a iPhone.


29 01 2012

I have been devoid of written words as of late. It isn’t that I don’t have anything to say, or that I am not pissed off, or riled up, or feisty about anything. Sadly I haven’t traveled by plane in over two months time, so I cannot reflect on air travel, a topic that always gets me going – the barbaric ways in which civilized humans are forced to interact. It is true that today, I am writing just to write, because not having done so lately has chipped away at what little a soul I have left. The fact of the matter is I can’t concentrate on anything, except trying to get up in the morning, and trying to make it through the day, and trying not to be like I used to be. If I were still in Hermosa Beach, I would have no doubt already had an altercation of sorts with Hermosa Moses whilst padding down to Martha’s for brunch. I would have cursed at a few recumbent bikers, and perhaps hopped in my car to speed over to Redondo for a much needed Jesus Van sighting. Even if it was just to creep around the Captain and his van. But I am no longer living in that place, physically or mentally so I have to manufacture something to expound on. It is Sunday, it is technically a day off, but a day off of what? My brain certainly hasn’t stopped churning this afternoon to provide any sort of peace or rest. I didn’t drink enough last night to slow the wheels of chaos. It is just a day, like any other day, or is it?

Each day, I suppose, can be a new opportunity to start fresh, to think differently or to try something new. Instead sometimes it feels like each day is a new way to torture yourself with old recycled information from all your previous days. With the former being so appealing, why is it that the latter is a more realistic outcome? Is there anyone out there that truly seizes each day as if it were their last? What does it mean to seize the day? To take it and perchance make it your bitch? There are certainly great moments, but great days? I find the days tend to get away from me, mired in a mix of obligation, terror and escape. A constant cycle of acting and reacting to pre-existing mores, and situations which come about randomly. Lately I have been incapable of deep thought for to do so would require me to fly the plane and take it off auto pilot, and taking it off auto pilot right now is far too risky an endeavor. Too much rough terrain.

So instead the thoughts stir, the patterns long ago set remain solid and the fear creeps in that nothing will ever be normal again. By normal I suppose I mean self indulgent and unencumbered –  for once you begin a process you cannot abandon it midstream just when it gets difficult. If that process is to disassociate with tired thought patterns and unusable ways of thinking, then perhaps these last few weeks are merely a hiccup in the big picture, and not a Charles Osbourne inspired lifetime. A hiccup is defined as an abrupt rush of air into the lungs causing the vocal chords to close creating a ‘hic’ sound. With all these things rushing at you is it  only naturally to shut down, as the vocal chords to when confronted with something abrupt? Which is more annoying, hiccups or the spins? The agitated and abrupt shock of air, or the constant swirling of the right and left brain monologue. I am not sure, nor am I comfortable with either. Sooner or later one will win out I suppose. Just not today.

There goes the Neighborhood.

27 11 2011

I have lived in Detroit for what seems like ages. Definitely longer than I have lived anywhere else, save for my childhood home, though we are nearing the end of that window. Fifteen years and you think I would have acquired some street smarts. In my mind’s eye, I am a streetwise vigilante, patrolling a two mile radius with an invisible machete and twenty years of built up lady rage (just 20?). In actuality I am a disappointment to smart people everywhere. Tormented by a combination of a desire to make uncomfortable situations go away in a matter of seconds and latent childhood pressure which can be attributed to the parable of The Good Samaritan. Curiously this pressure doesn’t manifest itself when dealing with your basic street folk looking for bus fare to Pontiac, or the occasional spare change. No, I always have a prepared witty comment, or a polite “Sorry, no” for them.  But when someone comes knocking on my door, the back door to our fenced in back yard, well then that just throws me off a bit. It’s like a pulled knife on a New York street, or the dreaded “La Gloria mugging of 2003”, one of those moments where all this political correctness and wanting to believe the best in human nature co-opts what your animal instincts tell you. For one, I don’t like people knocking on my back door, it simply isn’t done. Despite having a communal backyard shared by the four units in the complex, we generally don’t creep up on each other.  A phone call it placed before there is a rap on the back door, this should be an adopted rule for anything back door related. Take note. So, it’s dark, it’s around 9:30pm on a Friday night and I am trying to understand exactly what is likeable about any of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” as well as deal with the concept that because of the entertainment industry, I no longer understand what a normal aging face looks like, and there is a knock on my back door. Those of you who appreciate my vampiric nature understand that once in my lair, I do not wish to be disturbed. Knocks on the front door seldom get answered and I lead a life of blinds drawn. Enemies are the other, the unknowns. Surely this means that one of my good neighbors is there to tell me I have yet again left my garage door open. It is not however one of these good neighbors, instead, a new  neighbor, who I have never met. It seems she is in a bind, and there is a long, drawn out story of a sister, and car trouble and not having any gas, and unemployment not posting until midnight, and being embarrassed but having no where else to turn, and her boyfriend, the actual new owner of the home not being around. So what do you do? There is the curse of not wanting to get off on the wrong foot with a new neighbor juxtaposed by an animal instinct that this is complete and utter bullshit and wanting to get this person the fuck out of your house on a Friday night at 9:30. I will admit, panic set in, but not the fear kind, no, the kind that when you are on a bad date and you just want to get out. You will do anything to make it go away. In this situation, I, idiot handed over the requested dough to make this situation go away, and yes, I have been kicking myself mentally in the stomach ever since as I am not currently in a life position to be handing out money of any kind. That is grocery money people, but here,  go help this mythical sister. Immediately,  I am on edge. Now the mind wheels start turning and don’t stop until until I am murdered in my home for $20 and a bowl of Sugar Smacks.

So, today I examine the fine line between stupidity and being neighborly which I have so sadly and much to my chagrin, fell that I have crossed. Perhaps this neighbor is on the up and up, there is about a 3% chance that this is the case. Our constant hope in the goodness of human nature tends to get darkened this time of year, what with all the Black Friday antics involving security beat downs and pepper spraying consumers. I have lived in this area for many years and this is the very first time a ‘neighbor’ has asked me for money. No cup of sugar, no rogue ingredient for a Holiday Goose, just a straight cut to the chase supposed middle class version of the bus ride to Pontiac story so many of us have heard time after time. Is it possible to live in a modern world and harbor any sort of trust for goodness in others. I will get the money back, of this I have not doubt for I am planning on an adult version of the somewhat tenacious paper boy in “Better Off Dead”. The question remains, why is it that I feel shitty about helping someone who appears to have a fallen on difficult times? Yet don’t feel compelled in the slightest to hand a bum a bit of spare change. Does the borrower feel shitty about dropping her drama at her neighbor’s door? Have sensationalized news stories affected the way we interact with strangers? In this time of occupation, civil unrest and rampant capitalism, have traditional, societal moral codes been done away with completely? Have we de-evolved into a societal equivalent of a back alley dog fight?

The neighbor just paid me back by the way. But the distrust lingers, like the name of some C list actor in a movie that you have to look up on IMDB.