Some Lift in My Mood

As we’re heading into a long weekend, I’m hoping that my mood will improve and my lack of motivation to do anything will diminish.  Right now, I can say that I’m pretty much in the same low level of mental energy and motivation as I was the last time I posted in here.  Our Wi-Fi service was DOA for most of the weekend, so I didn’t post then, but I didn’t have much urge to do that or anything else.

A great change of scenery for a few hours was that Pat and I went to Cleveland on Saturday to see Allan Holdsworth perform at The Winchester, a bar/club in Lakewood.  He and his trio performed wonderfully–I liked this show even better than the one at The Thirsty Ear in Grandview last year.  A third person on the trip, Dave from Powell (he goes to the UU Church with Pat and me) was quite taken aback by Holdsworth and his guitar finesse, and I was blown away by the trio that opened for Holdsworth’s trio.  (I’d include it here, but I’m at the Whetstone Library right now, and I don’t have the ticket stub with me right now–the opening band’s name was printed on it.)

It may be that I am still sleep-deprived from the Cleveland trip.  We left Columbus not long after 4, and drove up via Powell to pick up Dave.  (I had already had a busy morning, going to get food and picking up a new pre-paid cell phone card for Susie, so I had been in perpetual motion since my feet hit the floor.)  We were in Lakewood in time to eat a very filling meal at the Shamrock Tavern, which is 2-3 doors down Madison Ave. from The Winchester.  Very dark and gloomy inside, state-of-the-art TV screens both showing sports (baseball on one, golf on the other), no music blaring.  The food was wonderful.  I wasn’t even tempted to graze on junk food the rest of the evening.  So, if you’re on the west side of Cleveland, I definitely recommend the Shamrock Tavern.

The sure sign that it was an old peoples’ concert was that Holdsworth played one encore and ended the show at 11:30.  He said that this was the last leg of the tour, and he and the other two members of his trio were exhausted.  (Holdsworth is 62 or 63, and I got the impression that Pat and I were among the young’ns in the crowd.)  We had a front-row table, so we were no more than 10 feet away from the stage.  We left after the encore, and as we were driving down Madison on our way back to I-71 south, we saw Holdsworth outside holding court with his many admirers.  (As a non-guitarist, I definitely was in the minority.)  I was home shortly after 2 a.m., although it took me a little while to get to sleep.  I did manage to get undressed and into bed without waking Steph, which is a major triumph for me.

Susie will be returning to public school in the fall.  Yesterday, we toured Dominion Middle School, which will be where she is come September, and we were quite favorably impressed.  She’ll be in a college-prep program (of course) and she chose drama as her elective for the winter semester, which didn’t surprise me at all.  She wants to work on the newspaper, and join the chess club–which will make her the lone (and, I think, the first) female.  We still have forms to fill out (I faxed a couple from work today) and records are in transit from Burroughs Elementary and St. Mary Magdalene, but we think Susie will be happy there. 

Cold Weather Be Damned, I’ve Been Walking!

I’m proud of the fact that I have done a fair amount of walking this weekend.  (The weekend isn’t over yet–I have tomorrow off because of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, and I plan to be walking with my friend Scott in the afternoon, one of the rare times we get to walk together during the daytime.)

I went with Susie to and from the Franklinton library (two or three blocks each way), to Family Dollar to get her new pre-paid cell phone (she ended up buying a NET10 model), and then on to the gift shop at Mount Carmel West Hospital so she could buy a new Webkins doll.  I left her back at the library while I ran to Herbert’s Market, the little corner grocery at the corner of Sullivant and S. Glenwood, to buy bologna, bread, milk, and eggs for dinner.

And today after church, we planned to go to the Whetstone Library, which is almost exactly one mile from the Unitarian Church.  Steph and Susie went on Project Mainstream, while I went ahead of them on foot.  It was straight down N. High Street, and downhill most of the way.  The temperature has been in the 20s today, so my fingers and toes weren’t freezing to the point of immobility, and I really didn’t feel like I just had to get indoors and into the heat right then or else freeze to death.

I didn’t feel that way last night when Steph and Susie asked me to go out to Tim Horton to buy Timbits.  That turned out to be a futile mission, because I got to Tim Horton just after 9, when they took drive-through window customers only.  They wouldn’t serve me at the window, since I was on foot.  (Most places are that way, although I have stood in line at bank drive-through windows and no one has said a word.)

Elsewhere in this blog I wrote about a family trip in the summer of 1978, when we were going to see my step-grandparents at their home in the exciting metropolis of Spiceland, Indiana.  I got enough of my family very fast, and always did, so I escaped them by boldly deciding to walk to New Castle, which was the next biggest town.  It was almost eight miles north on Indiana 3, but it got me away from them, even if I was somewhat sunburned and aching by the time I stopped at a McDonald’s in New Castle for lunch.

Some snow is falling right now, but it’s not threatening visibility, and the wind doesn’t seem to be blowing much, if at all. 

Susie Buys Her First Cell Phone With Her Own Cash

Susie and I are at the Franklinton library while Steph teaches a voice lesson.  A little later this morning, I’m taking her to Family Dollar so she can buy herself a cell phone.  (Steph and I finally paid her all the back allowance we’ve owed her for weeks!)

Last month, we laid down the law with Susie–if she wants to have a cell phone, she needs to buy it and pay for it herself.  We were including a line for her on our Revol account, but in the space of two weeks, she managed to break one (insurance and loyalty discounts enabled us to replace it for about $5 and change), and then leave its replacement at the library and lose it about 10 days later.

My hope is that since it comes from her own pocket this time, she’ll do better with hanging onto it.  This also means we’re doing the prepaid option.  Our next stop from here is Family Dollar, so she can buy a TracFone.  (One of her friends has one, and they seem to be quite popular in this neighborhood, especially their annoying walkie-talkie feature.  Susie will have no need, as far as I can see, for the walkie-talkie.)  At one time, I would have suggested PagePlus, but I’ve had back experiences with their phones dying 1-2 days after buying them at the corner markets in this neighborhood.

We watched Ghost last night, and I really enjoyed it.  (Since Patrick Swayze will become one before long, it seemed appropriate.)  I’ve never cared much for movies about the supernatural, with very few exceptions, but this was excellent.

I’m nearing the end of Andrew Vachss’ Another Life, and he has said this is the final book featuring his recurring character Burke, the institution-raised thief and con man who lives to hunt down and destroy child abusers.  Burke is not a likable character–other than his hatred of child abusers and those who prey on children sexually, he is totally lacking in scruples–but his loyalty to his “family of choice” endears him to me.  (His “family of choice” is a ragtag gang of criminals who live below the radar in New York with him.)  If you’re new to the works of Andrew Vachss, don’t start with Another Life.  Start at Flood, the first one, and read the series in order.

A Night Off the Grid

I’m proud of the fact that I haven’t missed an entry in the newest volume of my holographic diary since I began it on Wednesday.  I have never claimed that type of streak with this blog, but I’m guilty with an explanation for last night: No electricity.  (But you have a laptop, I hear you protest.  Yes, I say, but it’s useless without a router.)

Just after 4 yesterday afternoon, the TV and air conditioner in the bedroom suddenly sputtered, coughed once, and then died.  No rain had fallen during the day, but there was plenty of wind.  Susie and I noticed it when we were in Clintonville, waiting for a bus to take us home from First UU.  By the time we were done eating lunch, the wind was strong enough to start blowing trash and tree limbs in the circle outside our house.  Then, at 4, everything quit.

This storm is coming on the tails of Hurricane Ike.  More than half of Franklin County was out of power, and we remained so throughout the night.  It was a night like the Great Power Blackout of 1965 in New York, "when the transistor radio, the candle, and the art of conversation enjoyed a one-day renaissance," according to Walter Cronkite.  (I love all things radio, but if I still own a transistor radio, I don’t know where the hell it is.  We didn’t have C-cell batteries to power our boomboxes’ receivers.)

Surreal is the only word I can use to describe how it looked when I stepped out onto the sidewalk to look at the neighborhood.  No lights anywhere–not even street lamps or traffic lights.  As I looked toward downtown, all I could see were the lights on the tower at Mount Carmel West.  Later in the evening, the neon lights on the top of the American Electric Power building were on; I guess it wouldn’t restore public trust if they were blacked out.  We stayed in the master bedroom, using light from the candelabra I brought up from the living room mantle.  The battery on the laptop still worked, so I played some of the albums I’ve ripped to Windows MediaPlayer.

We got to bed at a decent hour–unlike right now.  I used the alarm on my cell phone to wake up, although during my many mini-awakenings during the night, I didn’t have the slightest idea what time it was.  I’m used to glancing across the bedroom and looking at the LED display on the cable box.

There was some free entertainment.  The couple who moved next door to us had a high-decibel and -intensity fight, and the sound echoed all the way up and down the block.  Words like "son of a bitch" and "crack whore" and "skank" were bandied about quite a bit.  It made The Jerry Springer Show sound like Masterpiece Theatre by comparison.

I had no way of knowing whether or not State offices would be open, so when 5:30 came, I treated it like a normal day.  Good thing I did, because the offices were open, although there was quite a skeleton crew.  (Besides there being no electricity in over half of Columbus, schools were closed.)  Steph heard that electricity could possibly be out until Wednesday or Thursday, so she called me at work and read me a list of foodstuffs to buy, all of them not requiring immediate and constant refrigeration.  I went straight from work to Kroger and bought over $50 of produce, snacks, bread, etc.  I came home and found that we had power–at least our side of the street does.  I’ve seen some candles burning the windows of our across-the-street neighbors.

I Excel at Multitasking

There were still some doctors’ tapes in the queue, but I have an understanding supervisor.  She knows that too much transcribing is wearing on the ears and the nerves.  So, to break the monotony this afternoon, I decided to type one or two Statements of Accepted Facts about injured workers.

The one at the top of the pile was very long and very detailed.  I didn’t know whether the claims examiner was going to submit or try to sell it as a movie.  But in order to have some auditory stimulation, I put in a disk of Bob Dylan’s Desire and put the headphones on.

I typed without interruption all through “Hurricane” and “Isis,” two long, almost epical songs.  By the time the disk got to “Mozambique,” I was nowhere near the home stretch.

So here’s where the multitasking comes in.  While I was typing, my cell phone vibrates.  (Cell phones are verboten at work, so the solution is to carry them in your pocket set to “vibrate.”)  I looked, and it was a text message from my friend Pat C.  He informed me that he worked on the PDA he got me… it’s toast.

So, I typed a Statement of Accepted Facts, texted back and forth with Pat for awhile (I asked him if his wife and kidneys were coming to our New Year’s Day party; they are), and listened to Mr. Zimmerman in my headphones.  All of this without the aid of a net.