I feel much better now that I’ve given up hope.

Some days just start off poorly and never recover, and based on how today is going i’d be tempted to claim i’m suffering from “a case of the Mondays” but in truth i actually feel pretty good. Awaking before my alarm clock, at 5.45 because the furnace kicked on, was a much less jarring transition out of slumber than the mind-wrenching beeping of the clock, although it was largely a result of crashing into bed around 9.30 the night before, completely exhausted from a long, six-and-a-half-day work week. I was temporarily on the verge of furious this morning, trying in vain to find downtown parking when every garage was closed (president’s day) and every street space was taken (because it’s free today – again with the day of the presidents). After finally settling on a surface lot near the waterfront for $14 – because i was certainly not going to pay Seattle Muni Tower $24 for the priviledge, even if they are an elevator ride away from the gym – i realized their “full-day” expires at 5.30pm, and as i’ll most certainly be downtown later than that today i’ll be moving and re-parking again this evening. Somehow, though, i’m numb to the annoyance, perhaps because traffic was ridiculously light with the holiday and because driving meant i didn’t have to spend 30 minutes in the cold waiting for a bus that refuses to adhere it its own posted schedule.

Sure, yet another day in the Allstar Fitness locker room without hot water is material enough to begin building a sour mood, but by the time i reached the office where it was 1) quiet, 2) dark and 3) approximately 104 degrees F, i felt cozy and relaxed, and 16oz of sweet nectar from the Starbucks fairy melted the sourness away. So amiable is my current mood that i’m not even bitter about my coworkers who are “so tired” from skiing in Whistler all weekend while i spent 16 hours saturday hunched over a laptop. Even though i probably should be, i’m not dreading and stressing about the upcoming week, where staff absences, further software rollouts and what i’m sure will be countless menial, tedious tasks associated with said rollouts will doubtlessly build into a hurricane work week of epic purportions. Perhaps because i had a solid breakfast today, and a good (albiet chillingly-concluded) workout. A sunday afternoon spent tinkering with electrical projects and playing video games with Clint, followed by an evening curled up by the fireplace with the latest Make and a laptop full of webcomics couldn’t have hurt any. I feel relaxed today, despite the pressures that are coming and the ones that should have past already that i just can’t shake. I shouldn’t be relaxed. I very rarely am anyway, especially with this much going on. I guess what i’m asking, is how do you distinguish relaxation from apathy?

BTW, if you haven’t read that book, i highly recommend it.

Last time i checked, Jerry Bruckheimer was not directing my life story

Been a totally productive day of reading comics on Penny Arcade and watching whatever random cinematic enterprises are being broadcast today on TBS. Right now, it’s Austin Powers 2. It’s kind of funny with the sound off… but not totally.

It’s been a stressful weekend, but maybe it’s looking up. For one, i only have 2.5 hrs of work left. And then i get my two days off (instead of the usual three – i covered for someone today). But i thought i was working again tonight – covering half the night shift – but Vince straightened me out when i came in to relieve him this morning – that’s next weekend that i’m pinch hitting for the graveyard team. And i’m (at least so far) not working the extra day shift next sunday, so that’s a 19-hour workday i managed to avoid.

Vince was also nice (and trusting) enough to lend me his key card to get into the building – and so i could leave the NOC to, oh, microwave some cup noodles, use the bathroom, and scavenge in the candy bowl at the front desk. I somehow managed to misplace mine at the end of my shift friday, and have spent the timespan since then stressing about it and getting frustrated with myself for being such a total tool. This dovetailed nicely with the daily stress of work (not so much the doing nothing part, but the always being on edge in case i have to do something part, that is very exhausting) and both of those were easily interwoven into the stress of packing, moving, and paying rent in two places this coming month. And is it just the weather, the time of year, or what, but why is everyone in a bad mood lately? I know we all need a vacation and aren’t going to get one this holiday season (or maybe i’m the only one that’s working thanksgiving, christmas, new year’s, and all the other major holidays this season?) but that’s no excuse for everyone to be mad at *me*. If you need to misdirect your anger somewhere, send those evil thoughts towards politicians or telemarketers, or some other life form without feelings and a soul.

Ugh. Let’s keep the rants short today. My head hurts too much for long, intense sentences. Although pressing my forehead against the cool glass of the monitor cabinet is very soothing… try not to think about the slimy forehead mark i’m leaving on the glass that wasn’t that clean anyway or the extra-intense radiation at this distance hard-boiling my brain…

What i really need a vacation from is drama. Drama everywhere – work, home, friends, bills, career, cars. Last time i checked, Jerry Bruckheimer was not directing my life story, so why all the accelerating climaxes and confounding plot turns? I did not sign up for this! My contract clearly says “romantic comedy” and mentions something about “occasional moments of cheeky seriousness”. Granted, i have not read ahead in the script (boy, wouldn’t that be nice!) but i really don’t see all these loose ends tying up nicely into a happy ending that involves fading light and someplace picturesque. If anything, it’s more like watching a sweater be unraveled, and at the end all you’re left with is a shapeless pile of twisted thread. And believe me, the thread unravels steadily every day, and i think as it flows out one ear it takes pieces of my brain with it.

Just today my theory was proven summarily true, as i found my key card only moments ago on a shelf in the corner, right where i hang my jacket. Where i hang my jacket on weekdays, that is, when i’m sharing this office and all the chairs are used. But on weekends when i’m here alone, i’m lazy and drape my jacket over an empty chair… and thus hadn’t walked by this shelf or seen my laminated face grimacing up from it’s attached keytag since friday afternoon. Instead, i spent saturday evening tearing apart my bedroom, my office, my Pathfinder, the front yard, and small sections of the street with a flashlight and what must have been an appropriate-only-on-halloween-eve fiendish stare only to terminate my search while still fruitless and seek distraction.

Danielle and i found some distraction at Dave T’s halloween party – and found a good excuse to wear our costumes (that she was mostly responsible for assembling – thanx Danielle for sewing all the patches on my coveralls!). We didn’t stay too late, but enjoyed ourselves for a bit before getting me home to bed so i could work this morning.

With the whole DST switch it should have been a little easier to get up at 5.30 am, but noooo… tired stupid me didn’t set any clocks before i went to bed, so i drug myself out of bed and downtown, and was halfway down the block from my parking space when i brandished my phone (to call Vince to come let me in at the front door – remember i am still key-less at this point) and was greeted with a cheerful “Do you wish to update the time?” which apparently is poorly translated from the Finnish phrase for “Haha sucker! You’re an hour early for work! I can see the L on your forehead from Helsinki!”

So across the street from work with a little over an hour to kill, and running on less than 4 hours sleep anyway, Mr Sandman won me over and i crawled into the backseat of my Pathfinder, covered myself in that blanket i keep in the back, warily set an alarm in the phone i wasn’t sure i could trust, and crashed out fully-clothed in a dark downtown street like the bum that i am.

I do not share my fortune cookie’s optimism

You know, it’s really only fun to shop for cool toys if you actually get to have the toys at the end. When you send people money and they send you… nothing. That’s not as fun. 🙁

Motor didn’t show up again Friday. I should think i’d begin to expect as much. Supposed to arrive, i called to confirm, verified my address and phone number, blah blah. Called halfway thru delivery window when no truck had appeared, your motor is on the truck, confirmed my address and phone number, blah blah. Called after shipment window was over, truck driver couldn’t find the house, he drove around for two hours, blah blah. Why didn’t he call me? He didn’t have my number. There’s no phone number on this file anywhere. Will attempt redelivery on monday at the same time.

Well, screw this noise, says me. I’ve already wasted 3 afternoons sitting around waiting for this motor. So i cancelled the shipment. Going to rent a truck and go pick it up at the terminal in Auburn myself. Hopefully the shipper will refund the extra 150 dollar residential and liftgate charges. Even if not, tho, and even with the cost of a truck and the hassle, it’s still less of a pain then trying to get the ridiculous GI Trucking to do their only job and – perish the thought – truck something somewhere.

And if you think UPS has actually just left the stupid turbo exhaust pipes on my doorstep after redelivering them three times, well… you don’t know UPS very well. They can’t seem to come in the evening when i’m home, even if i call and schedule the redelivery for that time. The day i’m home from work at noon so they could deliver between noon and 3 – as scheduled – they come by at 10am. And apparently even if i sign the release slip, an affidavit, right and title to my life insurance policy and autograph the buttocks of the queen herself, they’ll still refuse to leave it on the freakin doorstep.

The $986 for my order went from an authorization to a charge on friday. So i guess that means it finally shipped, only 19 days after i placed the order. Sure hope they didn’t use UPS.

Rented a car this weekend so i could drive all the way to Harbor Freight in Everett, only to find out that the couple of large tools i went there to get (ie: engine stand) are items they only carry in the catalog or on the internet, but don’t keep in the store. So it turns out i drove all the way to Everett to pick up a handful of small tools so i could save shipping costs. And then went home and placed a $100 order on their stupid website, which will be here in 14 days. Genius.

Oh, and one of the front lug bolts was over-tightened so it sheared off taking a front wheel off Friday. One more item on the list.

Oh, and now the AC has to be discharged apparently for the engine to come out, so i’ll have to pay some shop a gazillion dollars to re-charge it with coolant once it’s put back together. And the stuff’s deadly poisonous, so draining it should be really fun. Sweet.

And i lost my credit card – the one i was going to use to buy the turbos – and the bank will “hopefully” have a replacement to me in 5-7 business days. Perfect. I didn’t lose it for real – it’s probably just around my house somewhere – but i’m such a stressed out mess that it could be taped to my forehead and i wouldn’t know. If it is taped to my forehead, would someone please tell me? On second thought, don’t bother – i already ordered the new one.

My fortune cookie at lunch today said “you will overcome great adversity”. $#$% overly-optimistic fortune cookies.

Crossing things off my stress list

I want to say the weekend was really busy… but it wasn’t terribly. I want to say i got a lot done, but that’s not completely true, either. It was just a weekend. It’s over and i’m back at work, but only 5 days this week and then i’m off to MT for a snowy holiday. My next weekend will be in 2004… maybe that’s why i felt like more should have happened this past saturday and sunday. Huh… the passage of time is a strange animal. Huge thanx to Steph, tho, for all her generousity with the house, the garage, the breakfast bagel, the riding around and the dealing with me being a huge, annoying stressball of Christmas un-cheer. She’s a saint.

At least i’ve regained some sanity now that my shiny red baby is home – even if she’s at Steph’s home and not mine, she’s at least at someone’s home. I don’t get the impression that campbell-nelson nissan treated her with the love and concern she demands and deserves. The doors weren’t even locked when i found her on the back lot saturday morning. So far i think everything is intact… except, of course, the engine. Wouldn’t know it by looking, tho – even Jason said it all looks perfectly OK under there. I resisted the urge to close my eyes and turn the key, on the off chance it would magically work. After i unscrewed the oil pan drain plug and nothing came out… any lingering illogical hope was dried up, as well.

I started in on labeling tubes and wiring harnesses under the hood, took a few easy things off and starting draining fluids. I don’t have the right tools to get the tranny drain plug out, so that’s as far as i made it. My Z will spend Christmas on jackstands, and i’ll resume the project when i return from MT. Although i think the vacation will be nice, i really wish i wasn’t going, or wasn’t going for as long, as my instincts to put everything in order before leaving town are completely thrown off my the current state of my car. Leaving her in shambles while i fly elsewhere seems unnatural, and will most surely pick annoyingly at the back of my mind like ancient chinese water torture – drip… drip… you left a mess… drip… you should be doing something with this time… drip… you don’t deserve a vacation right now… drip… drip… slacker! … drip… you don’t deserve a collector’s car! … drip… drip… – until i’m back in the garage.

Despite stress, guilt, stress, exhaustion, lack-of-transportation-independence issues, frustration, and, oh, stress, i’ve still managed to almost complete my Christmas shopping. Hopefully a couple stops downtown tonight in between bus transfers will take care of the last few, and then an evening of wrapping and packaging, and i can cross that off my stress, er, to-do list. Sorry, no intended guilt trip – i have enjoyed shopping for all of you. It’s been a nice distraction. 😉

At least the body is in good shape

So apparently my engine is toast. Completely destroyed. Something about the seals failing, there only being .5 q of oil in the engine, the engine internals seizing… Nissan dealership wants $11,000 to fix it. Yes, you read that right. It’s still sitting on their lot, i rode the bus home from work. I guess i should be shopping for engines and parts. I’m also supposed to be unpacking. Instead, tho, i’m lying in bed waiting for death.

A day marked by triumph being crushed by disappointment

Meeting the car-buying folks after work today in bellevue. I’ve been stressing and not sleeping and running around haphazardly trying to get all the paperwork in order, calling the insurance company, faxing things for Dad to sign. My parents have been graciously patient with my franticness, and Patrick has been so generous as to lend me his jeep today so i have i ride home from the bank. I’m going to drive it around for a week getting his for-sale signs some eyeball time, since Clint’s honda is having water pump issues and i can’t borrow it just yet. I’m hugely in debt to both of them for being so generous and for being such solid guys about the whole thing.

I really need all of this to be over, as it’s turning me into a freak show. Yesterday i raced home after a visit to the DMV to pick up title transfer forms, only to call my buyer and find out i had the wrong forms and had to go back. So i booked it back down the sidewalk, only to reach the car and remember my keys were still lying where i’d thrown them on my bed. And the door was locked. Neat. Both Josh and Kim wouldn’t be home for several hours. I spent a bit pacing around the house, studying screens and doorknobs, looking for an opportunity, but despite its age and generally poor maintenance history, our house is actually pretty secure (as Kim and i have confirmed one other time, too). I did luck out, however, that my bedroom windows weren’t latched, although in my paranoid-neurotic way they are still secured with sash locks that prevent any more than 2″ of free movement. So, standing in the bushes (getting wet until i turned off the stupid soaker hose – i hate our landlord’s watering scheme), i could pull the curtains back and see the keys there on the bed about 8 feet away. Struck suddenly by inspiration, i scoured the yard for small sticks, of which there were of course none. But i did find a bundle of bamboo plant stand thingies under a zillion cobwebs by the back door. After floundering about the yard yanking randomly at longish grass for a bit, i found some that seemed pretty sturdy, and in a very boyscout/macguyver fashion i lashed together a long pole out of three of the plant brace stick things and some colorful (and very sharp) weeds the landlord probably paid a small fortune for at some yuppie greenhouse. And on the first try, the keys were in my hand, but not before the window sash left some nasty cuts in my arm (metal window stripping – what were we thinking in the 40s??). And i was back on the road, giggling at my own success and trying not to bleed on the clean car.

I have the correct forms now, and all the paperwork in a nice pile. I just need to pretend to work for a few hours to pass the time and try not to think about anything on my todo list. Is it friday yet?

U P D A T E:
Okay, that completely sucked. Leaving home in the Maxima for the last time. Parking it at work for the last time. Someone noticing my plates were changed and asking about it, so of course i had to tell them, which led to a whole discussion of why i had to sell it, prompting stories i didn’t need to hear about everyone else’s cars they’d wished they’d kept and what good deals they’d found in the past, etc. Thanks so much, gang, for the pity and the jabs. Then unlocking it for the last time, driving to bellevue and parking for the last time. A perfect parallel parking job, too, 2″ from the curb on the first try, no hits, in free street parking in the middle of downtown bellevue; good parking karma on an otherwise karma-free day. Locking up for the last time, walking away for the last time – looking back, of course, at how great it looks parked there, shiny and black, sleek and powerful, curvy and… not mine. Signing the papers, blah blah, handling huge wads of cash, feeling cold and detached like how bankers must feel when they forclose on their friends or put a family on the street with a flick of the pen. Walking the buyer to where his Maxima is parked. Emptily demonstrating the valet key, the trunk release, the jack tools, like a disheartened car salesman who’s earning someone else’s commission. Sitting on the curb while he drives it away. Shiny, curvy, sexy, sweet, rolling past me, mirrored in the glass of the buildings and the welling in my eyes. Slumping there on the curb, feeling the concrete drain the warmth away. Watching the taillights fade into traffic, sliding away into anonymity and eternity. Yeah, that really sucked.

Long weekend yeah!

Short weeks are good. Long weekends are better. Explain: i have tomorrow off, so today is my friday. And that’s very good. It’s been a stressful week.

But Lance gets here tonight at 8 for the weekend, and i pushed my expense check thru in time to have it today so i won’t be broke for his visit, and i’m going to have a long, enjoyable weekend with him and forget that i work here. And a lady emailed me about the Maxima today and sounds interested in it, so things can only get better. How many more weeks until my vacation??? Too many.

Chocolate miracles, specifically.

Friday’s aren’t supposed to suck. A friday that sucks is like getting robbed in a church – there are some things that just aren’t supposed to happen. Okay, i’m being melodramatic, but that’s what you’re expecting from me, right? And actually, some parts of it were pretty good, like where i met John Bender at the airport for some good conversation over a beer. The part where i had a pint of ben & jerry’s for dinner and watched Friends reruns trying to laugh at other people’s problems made me feel ok, too. However, the part where my employer is disorganized and ridiculous, lost my timecard two weeks ago and didn’t see any reason to tell me, and then just didn’t direct deposit my paycheck today. Yeah, that wasn’t very cool. So after chasing it around for a few hours, they gave me a paper check that’s going to take a week to clear and no apology. I printed off this week’s timecard on hot pink paper so hopefully they won’t lose it this time.

The real miracle of the day was that i succeeded in putting it all out of my mind while i spent a couple hours with John. We talked about everything and laughed a lot – i forget how much i enjoy hanging out with him. I really hope i can make it down to LA to visit him sometime soon.

Leaving the airport, tho, the stress of real life came back – starting with the $10 parking bill – and 20 miles and a stress headache later i was at safeway standing in line for a pint of gooey chocolate unhealthy denial and a megamillions lottery ticket. Once again, drowning my frustrations in unlikely odds and indulgent dessert. Because life is too short not to enjoy it, and because i still believe in miracles…

Healthy is a subjective term.

Got an sms from John from Kalispell today, he’s on midterm break so went on safari. [sarcasm] I’m sure that will suck. [/sarcasm] Seriously, John, have a great time, and be careful of the hippos, i hear they’re really mean. I, meanwhile, am sitting in front of a poor-quality crt monitor wasting my mid 20s pretending to care about windoze printing issues…

Still no one interested in buying the Maxima from me. Starting to get frustrating… i hate getting all emotionally and mentally prepared for things and then having to wait for them to happen. Guess i need to stop anticipating things i cannot control… What? There are things i cannot control? I never said that was okay!

It’s monday, so hopefully there’s a new Strong Bad Email today. And i’m on my first day of a resolution to eat better (gonna be broke anyway, might as well file bankruptcy with a full stomach) and i’m already feeling the benefits of a healthy diet… more energy, better mood, increased typing accuracy. It’s just a win-win! 😉

At least i can be thankful that i don’t have a pair of forceps lodged in my abdomen like this poor woman in Bangkok, that were left there by surgeons in 1997… and have been there ever since. If micro$oft ran the medical community, that’s the kind of stuff you could expect… 😉

Some days have all the luck.

The strange little lego freddie-looking alien guy on top of my monitor is staring at me today. Normally i’d stare back, but i’m really tired right now and i just don’t think i’d win. Here’s a funny story for you. Last nite when i got home i noticed there is condensation inside my right light bulb, probably a result of my changing all the bulbs this week and cleaning the engine bay in preparation for selling it (the car, not just the engine bay). So i took the bulb out, along with the rubber seal around it, and set them on top of a nearby fuse box, so the bulb housing could air out last nite. This morning, because i’m stupid, i got in the car and headed for work. About 6 blocks from home i remembered the carefully-balanced parts under the hood, and pulled over. Of course, the bulb was totally gone. At least the rubber seal was still there. I poked around in the splash guards and whatnot, but no bulb. Closed the hood and drove two more blocks before i decided it would be a good idea to grab the rubber seal out of there before it, too, fell thru the cracks. Again, reference my stupidity. Pull over, open hood, grab rubber seal, back in car… people on sidewalk rather curious. Got home, of course bulb is not in the street in front of my house. I had a few spares (at least i didn’t have to go buy one!) and after testing a couple found one that worked. Assembled and ready… oh, wait… rubber seal is still sitting in the cupholder. Okay, re-assembled and ready. Head back to work. Two blocks from home, shiny metal thing catches the sunlight at an intersection. Like a mad person i jump out of my car to rescue it and… it’s an empty pack of dentyne. No, just kidding, it’s the bulb, and no one’s driven over it yet. But i felt pretty weird picking up shiny garbage in the street with cars behind me, it might as well have been a pack of gum. So moral of the story is… if you take your car apart and then go to bed, put a post-it on the dash first so you don’t drive off in a disassembled car in the morning. There is now a pack of post-its in my car.

At least it’s friday, so i only have a few more hours of being behind the wheel or around sharp objects where i risk injuring myself at the hands of my own stupidity. This weekend is Bumbershoot and i have tickets for two days, saturday and monday. There’s several bands i want to see saturday, but i couldn’t get anyone else to commit to going, so i just bought the ticket anyway and i’m gonna go regardless. They’re only 15 bucks, for a full 16-hour day of concerts on a half-dozen different stages. Not exactly a bank-breaker, don’t know what people’s excuse is. But i’m gonna go see Macy Gray and Kinky and REM, and if no one else wants to, well, they can fall through the splash guards too for all i care…