Farewell to a Kidney Stone of a Year…

I am so happy to see that the balance of 2013 can now be measured in hours.  I will be going to a party in my neighborhood later on tonight, and seeing that ball drop on Times Square at the stroke of 12 midnight is going to feel like the front gate of a prison swinging all the way open.

I cannot take credit for the phrase “kidney stone of a year.”  I first saw it in a Doonesbury cartoon where the characters were toasting the end of the 1970s, a “kidney stone of a decade,” and “the worst of times.”  In addition to a two-liter or two of Diet Pepsi, one of the items I am bringing to the party will be a 2013 calendar.

As soon after midnight as is feasible, I am going to be setting the calendar on fire.  The coming year of the common era 2014 will be a blank book with 365 pages–and I’m quoting an Internet meme that has been making the rounds on Facebook the last day or two.

The low highlights of 2013 that made this such a shitty year are (in roughly chronological order):

  • The death of my friend Scott on March 10.  Scotty was younger than I am (by about six weeks), and we spoke of many subjects–both personal and otherwise–during the many long evening walks that we took, often braving varieties of weather, and often venturing into neighborhoods that neither of us knew very well.  The final chapter of Scotty’s life was this fall, in the Memorial Garden at the Unitarian Universalist Church, when we all took turns scattering his ashes among the greenery in the garden.  (This is the same garden where my mother’s memorial service took place in 2008, although we did not scatter her ashes there.  Unlike Scotty, my mother had alienated so many people that she was seen out of this world mainly in the presence of strangers.)
  • The aortic aneurysm.  I have not reveled in the myth that I am immortal since I was a teenager, and I know that statistically there are more years behind me than there are ahead of me, but discovering in May that there was something wrong, something tangible, something visible on an X ray and a CT scan, drove the point home that yes, I am mortal.  As things stand now, the aneurysm is not getting any larger, and I don’t need to have another CT scan until next November, but still there is a part of me that wonders if it will burst.  (The way of telling that an aortic aneurysm has burst is actually quite simple: If I wake up in the morning, it has not burst.)  Part of me is surprised that I have made it to 50, since I have never been a role model for self-care, with my earlier abuse of alcohol and my current caffeine overuse–plus the fact that I am overweight, with a cholesterol level that resembles a ZIP code.  I have already lived longer than Mozart, Jack Kerouac, and Jesus, so maybe I am more indestructible than I think.
  • Susie’s moving to Florida in June.  That took quite a lot out of me emotionally–more than I thought it would.  Had Comfest not been the same weekend that she left, I am not sure I would not have crashed emotionally, to the point where I would have required hospitalization.  So much of my identity from 2011 has focused on being a single parent, and it was something where I had truly found my niche.  I earned high praise from Steph, and even from friends of hers who did not have much use for me personally.  I have managed to pick up my completely re-bachelored life in the intervening months, and while I have missed Susie, especially on those nights when the house is so quiet that I would have to make any noise to break the silence, I have made the adjustment.  I have always been adaptable to new situations, it’s just that this one took longer.
  • The death of Russell Speidel.  The proprietor of Duttenhofer’s Book Treasures died this summer of prostate cancer.  In addition to being a good neighbor, and the owner of the bookstore where I went for all my obscure titles, he was also a very good friend.  I was quite high maintenance at the time I lived next door to his store in Cincinnati–drinking too much, spending money foolishly, intermittently employed, and he often hired me to do small jobs for him, and lent me money when I was totally broke.  He was not a young man when he died, nor when I knew him, but he was one of those people I thought would always be around.  I am glad that he saw my transition from the heavy-drinking neighbor for whom employment was never a given to a father and steadily employed State employee.

When I set the pages of the 2013 calendar on fire soon after midnight, I will revel in the sight of the flames more than any pyromaniac.

I am upstairs in my office typing, with my beloved Alan Parsons Project blaring from the speakers on the desk and the bookcase.  Susie and her friends are seeing in the new year with mountains of junk food and hours’ worth of DVDs.

Yes, you read that right.  Susie is here until next Monday.  On Christmas Eve, I took Southwest Airlines down to Florida to spend the Christmas holiday.  The presents were modest all around–I gave Susie three compact disks (two Beatles, one Elvis Presley), and she gave me Robert L. Short’s The Parables of Peanuts.  The best gift was being able to see Susie, and knowing that she would be flying back to Ohio with me on the 28th.

She and I did the usual things that we did together in Ohio.  We went to a Goodwill store in Rockledge, hung out with our laptops in the Merritt Island Barnes and Noble, and had a meal at Steak ‘n Shake.  After using so many hours of Barnes and Noble’s free Wi-Fi, I broke down and bought a new journal.  The one I am using now has about 86 pages left, and I am going to fill them before I begin the new volume, even though a new year is the traditional time to begin a diary or christen the next volume of one.

Susie wasted no time in re-establishing contact with friends of hers.  Even before she left Florida, she had scheduled a lunch date with the woman who was her mentor during Coming of Age in church last year.  I had the pleasure of taking her and her friend Maya–they first met during children’s theater at the Davis Center for the Performing Arts, and reunited at The Charles School, and picked up right where they had left off–to brunch at the Blue Danube.  As I knew she would, Maya fell in love with the place.

Susie and me after our breakfast repast at Roberto’s Little Havana Restaurant in Cocoa Beach.

I will not be bidding an affectionate farewell to 2013.  This is one of the times when I can sympathize with Lucy Van Pelt, who complained that the previous year had disappointed her, and that she was going to write a letter of protest.  She stopped when Linus asked her, “Who’s in charge of years?”

Before I go to the party, I might finish the novella I have been reading all week.  The title is The Bab Deception, by Bill Paxton (not the actor).  It’s a Sherlock Holmes adventure that is decidedly not part of the Canon (the 56 short stories and four novels written by A. Conan Doyle).  This novella deals with an assassination that is pinned on members of the Baha’i faith.  At the beginning, Holmes and Watson have quite a discussion about astrology, Spiritualism, and even Wicca.

I am in the home stretch of the novella (about 76 pages altogether), and I would say that Holmes is Baha’i-curious at this point.
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Blogging From a Position of Power

Except for the scatter of strewn limbs still visible in almost every neighborhood, Columbus seems to be back to normal.  To me, the official milestone ending the blackout and all the insanity it caused came tonight: I ate dinner at the Blue Danube Restaurant.  It sat locked and dark beginning late Friday afternoon (along with many other businesses on that part of N. High St.).  I am not friends personally with any of the owners or wait staff, but I felt for the people who didn’t collect a paycheck all week, and I shudder at the thought of how much food they had to throw out.

The other simultaneous crisis in Columbus was the COTA bus strike.  It began at 3 a.m. on Monday, July 2. I was all ready for it.  I set my alarm considerably earlier than I usually do.  When it went off, I jumped out of bed like a shot, and damn near strangled myself on the hose of my CPAP machine.  Usually I ride in total oblivion of the time, so I wasn’t sure how much time to allow myself for the ride downtown.  I can walk from downtown to Baja Clintonville in about 90 minutes, so I allocated two hours for the bike ride.

My work day starts at 8 a.m., and it was a little after 6 when I left the house.  According to the U.S. Naval Observatory‘s Website, the sun rose at 6:08 on Monday morning.  I didn’t think to glance at my watch before my departure, but I do know it was light enough to see things without the aid of street lights.  (After Friday night, the street lights being off weren’t a good enough indication.)  I dodged and weaved around debris and fallen branches (and fallen trees!) as I headed south on Indianola.  That morning, I saw a huge tree still blocked E. Norwich Ave.  (Two young women who lived near the Indianola Church of Christ–which is at the corner of Indianola and Norwich–had written TREE BLOCKING STREET!! with chalk in big letters in the intersection, but I’m not sure whether anyone could see it.)  At Lane, I turned west and then went down High St. the rest of the way.  There was no way to tell who was affected by the lack of power and who wasn’t, although I remember seeing no delivery trucks anywhere on the route, and if you’re on High St. early on a weekday morning, there are usually trucks making deliveries to the restaurants, convenience stores, and bars.)

Once I arrived at the William Green Building, I saw that I had been overly cautious.  It took me only 38 minutes to get from Olde North to downtown, which meant I had an hour before work officially began.  Fortunately, I was able to find a berth for the trike in the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation garage, in a storeroom with a bike rack.  I ate a leisurely breakfast in the Nationwide cafeteria, and read until 7:55, and then headed into work.

After some false hopes that management and labor had settled the strike, I learned that there would be no bus service on Tuesday.  This time, I allowed myself the luxury of sleeping a little later, and leaving a little after 7.  I would still arrive early, but not as ridiculously early as I had on Monday.  And it was the ride home that I was dreading.

The worst part of COTA’s strike was that there would be no bus service for Red, White, and Boom.  I had no plans to attend it.  (I am the same way about patriotic holidays, especially the Fourth of July, that Ebeneezer Scrooge was about Christmas.)  My first thought was this would mean fewer people downtown for the fireworks, and thus less of a madhouse of an exodus once the festivities ended.  But I also worried that many people would come down anyway, and count on their skills to navigate their way home drunk.

On the Fourth itself, I rode around, occasionally stopping in fast food restaurants to use their Wi-Fi service.  Several times since Friday night, I had tried in vain to get online, or turn on the TV.  I didn’t realize how ridiculous the Wi-Fi situation was until I realized I had to call Steph in Florida, ask her to get on Channel 10’s  Website, and find out whether COTA was still on strike.  (She left me a voice mail message later that evening, telling me they had settled, and the buses would be rolling come morning.)

This news brought about mixed emotions in me.  I was glad to be riding the bus again, especially if it was air conditioned, but the two trips to and from downtown by bike had been fun.  A sign that you’re getting older is that sloth becomes your favorite of the Seven Deadly Sins.  Sloth won out: If I took the bus, that meant I could sleep an additional hour.  So, on Thursday the fifth, I was at the bus stop looking up Summit St. waiting for the bus to come.

The whole area from Adams Ave. to High St. was still blacked out on Thursday evening, but this was an evening for paradoxes and contradiction.  As I was walking home, I saw a procession of seven or eight AEP trucks going north on Indianola.  Then, I walked past the Maynard Ave. United Methodist Church, and the sign on its door puzzled me:

Paradoxically, the next evening, with most of Columbus’ lights restored, the church was completely without power.

The sign reminded me of a neighbor in Marietta who said that he had once seen pouring rain on one side of a house, and sunshine on the other.  I thought this was a tall tale about how massive the house was, but I have seen rain on one side of a street and not the other, so I now believe he was telling the truth.

I live only a block or so from Maynard Ave. UMC, so I wondered whether I’d still have lights.  I was pleasantly surprised to see my porch light burning, and I was further surprised when I came in and saw that the green light on my cable box was no longer blinking, as it had been since the derecho first happened.  I grabbed the remote control and clicked it, and sure enough there was sound and a picture, rather than the black screen that I was used to seeing.  I clicked on the laptop and, while it was a little balky, soon enough I had access.

On Thursday, I came back from the Independence Day holiday and found that my workload was on the “famine” end, so I left at 11:30, and went to the OSU Library.  This was where I had one of those “face-palm” revelations.  (When I learned this, I almost reenacted the old “Wow!  I coulda had a V8!” ads from the 1980s.)  For years, I had debated whether or not to become a Friend of the Ohio State University Libraries, mainly so I could borrow.  As it turns out, as an employee of the State of Ohio, and the proud holder of a library card from the State Library of Ohio, I have been able–since 2004!–to borrow from the OSU Library!

I spent Friday evening with my Marietta High School classmate Robin, her husband Doug, and their son, as they were visiting Robin’s mother in Columbus.  We all ate dinner downtown, and then went to a double feature at the Ohio Theater, part of the CAPA Summer Series.  It was the first time in the last year or two I’d gone to the Summer Series–the last had been when I took Susie and her friend Sydney to “Cartoon Capers.”  (I first went to the Ohio Theater in the spring of 1980, when I took a young woman to see Vincent Price narrate King David.)

Even if I had been alone, there is no way I would have missed last night at the Ohio Theater.  Fritz the Nite Owl was hosting a double feature–two movies for $4, not bad!–of Dracula’s Daughter (1936) and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943).  I missed the sarcastic comments and movie trivia that sandwiched the commercial breaks (there were no commercial breaks, unlike his shows at Studio 35 and The Grandview), but I enjoyed both pictures.  I had never seen Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, and had not seen Dracula’s Daughter since I was 12 or 13.

So, life seems to have returned to normal.  Olympic Swim Club was open, which was a godsend as the day got hotter.  I biked up there in the early evening.  I can’t swim a stroke, but I luxuriated in the water, immersed myself several times, and tried all the while not to think of Altered States (1980).

I got dried off and dressed, and then headed to the Blue Danube.  It was good to see lights on and people sitting at the booths and bar.  I said to my waitress, “This is good to see!”  She felt the same way, undoubtedly because she lost wages during the time there was no electricity.

I am the 33%

Baffling title, I know.  However, I am in a distinct and coveted minority right now.  I am part of the one third of people here in Columbus who have electricity.  The “rush hour storm” (my name for it; don’t know if anyone’s officially given it a title) of Friday night knocked out electricity when hurricane-force winds blew down power lines.  Looking at this morning’s Columbus Dispatch online, the best guess is that 345 thousand people in Central Ohio are without electricity, and about one million Ohioans total are without power.

While I have electricity, I do not have Internet.  I am “in the field” right now, typing this entry at the main branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.  I am without Internet and TV at home, and I realize that this may continue for awhile.  American Electric Power is saying it may be until Saturday before all of Central Ohio has lights, so I’m sure WOW Internet and Cable is not going to bust its chops to make sure people get to see America’s Got Talent.

My work day ended at 5 p.m. Friday, and around 4:40, I looked out to see that people were driving with their lights on, the street lights had come on, and the sky was getting dark.  (The latter never concerns me, because the windows in the William Green Building are so tinted that I often think it’s darker outside than it really is.)

At 5, I walked outside and was hit by the wind.  Newspaper pages and leaves skittered across the sidewalk, and then I saw an orange barrel rolling across High St.  The air felt warm and wet.  I hurried across High St. to catch my bus north.

During the northbound trip up N. 4th St., my fellow passengers and I escaped the worst of the hurricane-velocity winds that were pummeling Columbus at that time.  We saw trash cans rolling out into the street, strewing their contents behind them in a trail as they went.  We started seeing tree limbs lying on cars and on sidewalks.  Most ominously, we saw totally darkened houses.  Even at 5 p.m., three hours before sundown, everyone was driving with their headlights turned on.

I got off the bus and began walking the block toward my house.  Other houses on my street had lights on, so I was hopeful.  As I was leaving the bus, I saw several people running en masse north on N. 4th St., so I glanced in that direction and saw a thin cloud of black smoke in the sky.  As I looked up the alley, I saw there was a fire, and both rubberneckers and fire trucks were headed that way.

So, I hurried home and clicked on the living room light (just to make sure I had electricity; I did), and grabbed the camera.  (I write this one paragraph after saying something about rubberneckers, I know!).  I went up the alley, where the fire was still raging but looked easily controlled by the firefighters I saw there.  A garage behind a house on N. 4th was on fire, and the flames had even managed to catch the upper branches of a nearby tree on fire.  I thought that lightning had hit the garage, but a firefighter told me that the wind had blown a branch from a tree.  The branch had fallen on a power line, and both power line and branch landed on the roof of the garage.  The power arced, and the sparks set the garage on fire.  I shot about nine minutes of footage, most of it featuring the fire at the beginning, but the last few minutes showed more of people milling around in the alley.

I cursed WOW Internet and Cable when I was unable to get an Internet connection.  I turned on the TV, and at first they displayed a message saying there had been an interruption of service, and cable would be restored momentarily.  This message soon disappeared–they realized it would be a long time from “momentarily,” so the TV has displayed a blank screen ever since.

Not until after dark did I realize the extent of the power failure.  Once the sun set, I wandered around Baja Clintonville and the area around High St.  Houses just a block or two west of mine were dark.  I could see flashlights and candles in the windows.  Many people were sitting on their porches.  I could not see many of them, except maybe when they were holding lit cigarettes.  Some people made a party out of it, others sat and talked quietly.

A house at the corner of Indianola and East Maynard Avenues.  Falling branches destroyed his chimney and much of his roof.

But it was High St. that was truly the revelation.  Street lights were out, traffic lights were out, and the street was quiet, except for the sound of cars on the road.  My beloved Blue Danube was shuttered up, locked, and darkened, unheard of for Friday night.  The convenience store and Tobacco For Less across the street were empty and deserted.  Dick’s Den was open, with candles on the tables and in the windows, but I knew the allure of drinking room temperature beer could only last so long.

I used to have a record produced by CBS News called I Can Hear It Now: The ’60s, narrated by Walter Cronkite.  He mentioned the Great Power Blackout of 1965, and described it as “when the transistor radio, the candle, and the art of conversation enjoyed a one-day renaissance.”  That blackout affected 30 million persons in New York City, upstate New York, Massachusetts, Canada, and Pennsylvania, but the lights were back on the next day.  Candles were definitely making a comeback in Columbus Friday night.

I stopped in at Kafé Kerouac, lit by candles in the front room, with the performance/book room left totally dark.  The business was cash only, of course.  I stayed and nursed a warming can of Sprite, and sat at a table with a half-finished chess game and a deserted game of Connect Four.  I didn’t stay long.  No electricity meant no lights, and it also meant no air conditioning, and with all the people crammed into Kafé Kerouac’s comparatively small, underventilated space, the place soon smelled like the inside of a Dumpster.

Sirens have almost become white noise since Friday night, but it seems these are mostly rescue runs, not police out responding to opportunistic crimes.  People have been very courteous at intersections, treating them like four-way stops.  I have not heard about any looting or gratuitous property destruction.

By last night, the thrill seemed to be gone, and the fun has gone out of this blackout.  While I was out and about last night, I saw many people sitting on the porches of darkened houses, but the mood was much more desultory, and there was a feeling that this has gone on long enough.  I was out on a fool’s errand last night.  Fritz the Nite Owl was supposed to host Horror Express (starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing) last night at 11:30.  Without Internet access, I could not log onto Fritz’ Facebook page, and Studio 35 is usually pretty lax about changing its outgoing message on voice mail.  So I hiked the two miles or so to Studio 35 to see if the movie would still happen.  I made most of my way minus streetlights.  (I had briefly considered riding the trike up Indianola, but between the lack of street lights and the abundance of felled limbs and other debris, I am glad I vetoed the idea.)  The Weber Market was totally blacked out, and so, I saw was Studio 35.  The movie was cancelled, as was the 9:15 showing of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (divine intervention?).

The adventure continues tomorrow.  COTA is going out on strike, so I am either walking or triking the 3½ miles to and from work.  I need the exercise too much to be bitter.

Happy 2012 to All!

And may there be many years ahead of you!  I’m excited right now because Susie will return from Florida in a little over 24 hours, in time to begin Winterim at The Graham School on Wednesday.  I haven’t been completely as productive as I wanted to while she was gone, but I’ve put the time to good use.  I’m as ready as I’ll ever be to return to work tomorrow morning.

I worked New Year’s Eve day at the bookstore, so I couldn’t sleep in.  I went to Kobo, a nightclub on High St., for the evening.  I saw a co-worker of mine from the bookstore, and he immortalized my presence there by photographing me deep in my (Diet Coke) cups.

Me at Kobo, January 1, 2012

I declined a drink of champagne from the brother of another bookstore co-worker, and when I left, I bumped into some pretty graphic evidence of why I’m glad that I no longer drink.  (I don’t think I am/was an alcoholic, but I was definitely headed in that direction, and with two alcoholic parents, the deck was definitely stacked against me genetically.)

I stepped out onto High St. and there was a woman huddled on the ground in the fetal position in the alley next to the bar.  Her friends–both male and female–were helping her, but she was so out of it she couldn’t even make the initial moves to get on her feet.  My first thought, shared with many of the onlookers who had come outside to smoke, was that she had overindulged, had gone outside to vomit, and then had passed out.  Her friends’ attitude ran the gamut from commiseration to impatience to disgust.  One wanted to get her a cup of water, but another friend wisely pointed out that she wasn’t conscious enough to swallow; if they gave her water, she would probably drown.  They kept her turned on her side, so she wouldn’t aspirate in case she vomited.

My mind flashed back to a fall night in the ’80s, back at Ohio University, when there was a party in one of the dorms.  This was typical for a Friday night, but it was a freshman dorm, which meant the hosts and many of the guests were underage, and the noise could be heard all over East Green.  One of the clowns attending the party decided the action was a little dull, so he/she went out into the hallway and pulled the fire alarm.

Everyone–party-goers or not–soon came out of Shively Hall because of the fire alarm.  All but one, a guy at the party who really had his load on, to the point that he was unconscious.  The squad came for him, and two EMTs brought him out, his arms around their shoulders, his feet dragging, swaying back and forth between them and his head dangling down.  Everyone was still in the parking lot, waiting for the all-clear to go back inside, and not at all happy about having to go outside for no reason.

Their mood changed when the EMTs came out with this guy.  The entire crowd broke into applause, whistling, and foot-stomping.  “Buy that man a drink!” several people shouted.  Had Twitter and the Internet existed in 1984, I am sure that the video would have gone viral in hours.  My amusement was not a “Well, that’s what you get for overindulging,” but it was more along the lines of “Can’t hold your liquor, can you, tenderfoot?”  (I haven’t drunk anything stronger than Diet Pepsi for over 13½ years, but I don’t think the Straight Edge community would claim me as one of their own.  My love of meat and my excessive caffeine consumption would negate any claims of being Edge.)

The woman in the alley was drunk, but, as it turned out, there was more to the story.  After 15 or 20 minutes of debate, one of the bouncers finally called 911.  It looked like this overindulgence was going to be costly to more than just the woman’s pride, because she was barely responsive at all.  The bouncer also flagged down a police car as it was headed up High St.  I talked to the brother of the woman’s boyfriend, and it turned out she had been assaulted, and her cell phone stolen from her.  She didn’t seem bloody or bruised, and when she was finally with it enough, the police officer took a statement from her.  (By this time, she was able–barely–to stand under her own power, and she leaned against the wall with her boyfriend, while the officer stood there with his notebook and his pen.)  I asked her if the cell phone had a GPS, so they could track it down, but she said it didn’t.  (I have one on mine, but it’s only activated when I dial 911.  My thinking is that if I have a heart attack or stroke, and can only manage to dial 911 before I lose consciousness, the paramedics can find me.)  And she ended up going home with the boyfriend and her retinue of friends, and the police car made it less than a quarter of a block up High St. before they had to quell some other fracas at Ledo’s Lounge.

My friend Jeff from Marietta, whom I met in 1977 when he was working at the public library, came up for a long overdue visit on New Year’s Day.  I had sent him Google Map directions, so he had no problem finding my place, and we walked over to the Blue Danube for dinner, caught up on our respective life situations, and he fell in love with the ‘Dube immediately, as does almost anybody I’ve ever brought there.  (It was my second day in a row going there.  On Saturday, after the bookstore closed at 2, I took a co-worker and her father there.  She is 19, and grew up on Indiana Ave., but did not know the place existed. I could not allow this state of affairs to continue, so when the bookstore closed, she, her dad, and I went there for lunch.  In addition to the food, she fell in love with the jukebox and the painted ceiling tiles.)

After Jeff left to return to Marietta, I had a pretty sedate evening, which lasted until about 4 a.m. this morning.  I put on hours’ worth of music (I patched my old Dell laptop into my Crosley phonograph, so the Crosley can serve as an amplifier), stretched out on the love seat, and read until I finally felt tired.

There’s a slight dusting of snow on the ground right now, and the Weather Channel icon at the bottom of my screen says 24 degrees Fahrenheit right now.  In the early hours of New Year’s Day, there was a windstorm.  Coming back from Kroger yesterday afternoon (I went there to pay the electric bill), I saw that a tree in Brevoort Park had blown across E. Torrence Rd. and totally blocked it.  Also, the screen on my living room window is completely ripped, and I saw quite a few limbs and spilled trash cans as I was out and about in Clintonville during the day yesterday.

Moonlighting at the End of the Tunnel

One of the syrupy mantras I’ve heard repeatedly over the past few years is, “No one ever said, on his deathbed, ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office.'”  I know that I am not saying it now, even though the many extra hours I’ve worked these past few weeks have been necessary and–dare I say it?–fun.

Usually, I’ll just work the beginning-of-quarter rushes at the Columbus State bookstore.  That was why it was such a surprise (a very pleasant one!) when my supervisor emailed me out of the blue and asked if I’d be interested in working nights this spring.  (A manager is leaving Columbus, and I’m pretty much doing his job until they hire a full-time replacement.)

The drawback has been the timing.  I’m still green at the single-parent thing, and now that school is out, Susie has been depressed and bored for much of the day.  She has found some work, a few hours here and there working as a mother’s helper for a year-old little girl (the daughter of her first babysitter), and yesterday she and the Youth Group from church went down to the Feed My Sheep food pantry in Athens County which I’ve described in previous entries.  That’s why it was such good news to see that Susie will be working as a Volunteen at the library this summer.  The deadline for applying had come and gone, but some kids had dropped out of the program, so she applied.  I was all too happy to sign the permission form after she and I came home from dinner at Wendy’s tonight.

But there is an end in sight for the moonlighting.  The Discovery Exchange will be closing at 6 p.m. for the rest of the summer as of the first week in July, once the summer quarter is in full swing.  Since my work day at the Industrial Commission ends at 5, and it takes me 15-20 minutes to walk over to the corner of Cleveland and Mount Vernon Avenues, there is really no point in my working there for half an hour.  So, July 3 will be my last hurrah until the fall book rush.  I will miss the extra cash, but will be glad to be home in the evenings for Susie.

Susie and I have made two or three appearances at the Olympic Swim and Racquet Club since it opened.  This week, neither of us have gone–mainly because of my work schedule, but also because the temperature has only reached the mid-70s for most of the week.  It’s no fun to go swimming and then have to stand around digging slush out of your ears.

Fathers’ Day is next weekend.  Susie and I are going to celebrate by going to see The Wizard of Oz at the Ohio Theater.  Susie has seen it numerous times, and can recite most of the dialogue and songs from memory.  Until she was born, I was rather lukewarm about it.  I never even saw it on a big screen until Susie was a toddler, when I took her to a showing of it at Crosswoods Cinema in Worthington.  And I am sure it’s pure coincidence that The Wizard of Oz is showing during Pride Weekend.

I’ve learned this month how much disruption in familiar physical objects or surroundings can totally disorient me.  The weekend before last, while Susie was at the pool, I walked a block or two north to a little hole-in-the-wall dollar store and replaced my wallet, which was falling apart and barely holding together.  I paid about $2 for a blue tri-fold, and sat at poolside transferring the thick plethora of cards–insurance, business, shopping, etc.–and bus pass from one to the other, along with the few dollars I happened to have in there.  Even though many gift cards and debit cards were expired, I was loath to toss them in the trash barrel by the kids’ pool.  I haven’t carried pictures in my wallet since high school, so I didn’t have to sort through them to see who to keep and who to discard.  (I’d look like Steven Hill–or Peter Graves–going through the dossiers on Mission: Impossible, even though they would always pick the same agents.)

When my dad died, my stepmother sent a huge box to me UPS, which contained his clothes, the flag from his coffin, and his wallet, among other things.  When I went through the wallet, I was surprised to find a small color drawing of Andrew Jackson in with the high school graduation picture of me.  Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts printed trading cards of U.S. Presidents when I was about 11 or 12, which I collected avidly.  Dad always liked Andrew Jackson–safe bet I’m not part Cherokee–because he was the first truly proletarian President, so I let him have the Jackson picture.  (He said his interest in Jackson began when he read Arthur Schlesinger’s The Age of Jackson in college.)

On a larger scale, there’s been disruption in my physical setting at work.  I work on the 10th floor of the William Green Building, and in May I moved to a temporary pod in another section, while workers tore down the old pod walls and set up new ones.  This involved the usual logistical nightmares with cabling phone and data lines, etc.  I didn’t even unpack once I arrived at the temporary pod, since I knew I’d move back as soon as the new area was ready.

We moved to the new area.  It occupies the same section of the 10th floor, but the layout is different.  I have four section-mates, all very good people.  However, my pod is a bit removed from theirs.  Since I do virtually all of the Industrial Commission’s medical transcribing, I have higher walls and am separated from all the noise.  (I love my co-workers dearly, but they can get boisterous.)  I spent Friday and part of Monday moving and finally trying to settle in, and I’m still getting my bearings, and getting disconcerted when things aren’t where they were previously.

I am bringing this entry to a close, because morning comes way too early.  Tomorrow will be a jam-packed day.  I have an appointment with a podiatrist in the morning, going to Columbus State to get my paycheck immediately after that, then I’m working at the I.C.–transcribing the doctor who dictates at an auctioneer’s pace.  The bookstore beckons afterwards, and to end the evening on a festive note, I’m taking Susie to dinner at my (our) beloved Blue Danube Restaurant on High Street.

Couldn’t stand the show, but it’s an appropriate graphic for my work life this spring.