I Beat The System… Maybe

There are some days when I accomplish more than I thought I could in a week. There are other days that drag on but lead nowhere. And there are the occasional days when despite my best efforts nothing works and I make negative progress. The trick is to recognize the good days and the bad days early enough. If it’s a good day, I prepare to spend a lot of time taking advantage of it. If it’s a bad day, you are better off going back to bed than ending up further behind than when you started.

Today was one of the bad days. It seems that usually my mood is independent of the type of day I’m having. Today, for example, I was not in a bad mood at all. I slept in and didn’t get breakfast or time to prepare a lunch, but it didn’t bother me. Lunch plans fell through, but I remained unfazed. My projects stubbornly refused to yield themselves to my will and steadfastly retained their bugs. By noon, I had accomplished very little, I was hungry, and I was not about to get shut out.

I decided to call it a day. A quick email to the boss and I was out of there. Flex time is convenient, but sometimes I think it’s better for the company than it is for me. After all, if I leave on the bad days and stay for the good days, they end up better than average.

Of course, the moment I arrive at home I get emails saying someone is going to visit me, and another saying I should go see someone else. Figures. For the next five hours I accomplish absolutely nothing. I watch the Simpsons, I sleep, I snack, and I don’t even try to accomplish anything, knowing full well that today is a day where any work you attempt sets you further back.

I did bike to racquetball, where I lost all four games, but I didn’t get angry or start on my spiral of suck. I was a little surprised that I was even capable of playing four straight games of singles. Apparently I have more stamina than I thought.

So now I am at home, wondering what to do until bedtime, anxious to work on my many projects, but wary of the wrath that touching them today could incur. Today has been a wash, but that’s better than a bad day, and I’m optimistic about tomorrow.

On the Dichotomy of Hands

I’ve been thinking lately about hands, and specifically how many contradictory things they are capable of doing. They are at once smooth and rough, capable of gripping slippery objects, yet soft enough to brush lightly. They hold blood in, but will absorb other fluids. In an instant they can be strong enough to break a man’s face and in the next soft enough to caress a woman. Dextrous enough to make the most minute manipulations, and yet then pick up boulders. They can tell someone to come closer, or to go away. We use them daily, yet they are so fragile.

I like my hands. They suit me well. They do what I ask and hardly complain. Sometimes I’m rough on them, but I take care of them afterwards.

That’s all, I guess.

An amazing birthday

Friday night was amazing, and a true testament to the awesomeness of having friends. It took weeks of planning, but it all came together in a few hours to become a truly cool birthday party.

Shortly after 6pm, we started a scavenger hunt. There were two teams of 5. Each team had one hour to get as many items on the list as possible. Items had varying point values based on difficulty. We were to take photographs of the items or the event and return back for scoring. My team stayed together while the other team split up into two to divide and conquer. We started off strong, scoring a lot of points by peeing on the fire hydrant just outside the house. We moved on to purchasing a flavored condom at a porn store. After that we headed to Target to do a handstand, buy a rubber ducky, find the word Fist in a spanish dictionary, and get pushed 20 yards in a shopping cart. Then we moved on to the mall, where we got our sleep number, put on an apron from Starbucks, put one foot in the bathroom of the opposite sex, drink a shot of Tequila, get someone’s phone number, and find a license plate with the letters N and C. Then it was off to a gas station to find twinkies and a house listing with a value over $200,000. We headed back to the house, taking a picture of KFC on the way, finishing off with a mooning, stuffing 3 twinkies in my mouth, and getting a picture of someone in a bathtub. We did very well in just an hour and had a lot of fun. Unfortunately, we lost by just a few points. Somehow, though the other team split up and was able to do more, we still almost tied. The winners got movie tickets and we got two-dollar bills. The pictures are hilarious, and it was a lot of fun.

Then we went out to dinner at a tiny place. The 16 of us took over 2/3 of the restaurant. The food was good, though. And I got some great presents, like a game cube with some controllers and Double Dash! I hooked it up to my projector at home. It’s amazing. We also got cupcakes, which had decorations on top that looked like snowmen fashioned out of marshmallow, pretzels, and swedish fish.

Nick and Carolyn put a lot of effort into the party, and of all my birthdays ever, this is one of the top two. I can’t say it’s better or worse than my 21st birthday, but it was awesome.

The spirit of the game

I went to my first ultimate frisbee tournament this weekend. Left on Saturday morning to go up to Wenatchee for The Hot Apple Tournament (THAT). Our first game was in the rain, but we were all good-natured. We lost, but the game and the other team were just so much fun that it didn’t matter. That’s the thing that’s so cool about ultimate; ‘the spirit of the game’ is a strong part of the sport, so everything is really relaxed and friendly. There are no umpires and disputes are mediated in a friendly manner. You can introduce yourself to your defender and strike up conversations on the sideline. Of course it’s competitive and we want to win, but it’s all about having a good time, too. After each game both teams give the other team a cheer, which can be a poem or song whose lyrics have been changed, or a miniature friendly game like tag or dodge disc (dodgeball with big foam discs).

Our second game was a horrible defeat, made worse by the opponent’s seeming lack of effort. The third game we barely won, but they were a fun group to play. Our fourth game was a challenge, and it wasn’t until halftime that we discovered a strategy that successfully defended their deep throws. Unfortunately, we discovered it too late. We went out to dinner afterwards, and then to the camp site. After getting appropriately buzzed, we headed over to the lodge for the main festivities. I stayed late dancing, even after the rest of my team had left. At bars I feel very uncomfortable being alone on a dance floor. Here everyone was so friendly and inclusive that I had no problems making friends and dancing with everyone else.

Sunday we were all sore. To make matters worse, we were stuck on a small field with poor drainage. Massive bogs occupied significant chunks of the field, and the smell indicated that it probably wasn’t just water from the sprinklers. We barely lost the game, but had a good time anyway. We should have had a bye, but the other team we were to play wanted to leave early, too, so we found a nearby field and played a short game. Oddly, it was the best field we’d played on at the tournament. It was a good friendly game, and the weather, though drizzly, was not unpleasant. It, too, was close, but fun. Afterwards we went to Rusty Burger (an unknown but extremely popular local burger joint), then drove home.

I had a great time. Everyone was friendly, most people were my age and chill, I got to score a few times and play as much as I wanted, and I learned a lot about ultimate frisbee strategy. I’ll be a while in recovery, but it was worth it.

This isn’t the place for me

I often have moments where I know with certainty that Richland is not the place for me. One such occurrence happened this Friday evening. The advertisement said it was a swing dance for all ages, with the proceeds going to the middle and high school jazz bands that were playing. I got my dance shoes, my $5, and headed over to the Knights of Columbus hall, expecting to find some people to dance with and maybe have some fun.

The reality was very different, but one that I should have been anticipating instead. “All ages” really meant middle school and high school kids and their parents. And “swing dance” meant they moved two tables out of the way so that awkward men and their wives could dodge pairs of middle school girls hopping and flailing. “Desserts” were the tables of homemade and thinly veiled store-bought confections guarded closely from the other side of the table by vigilant mothers.

I guess although the words in English were technically correct, the interpretation was vastly different, and I found myself in a particularly awkward situation. I did manage to steal one of the better moms away for a quick swing and a hopeless attempt at a nightclub two-step, it was interesting to hear the jazz bands having been in one for a number of years in high school, and I saw a couple coworkers who had come to support their children.

Overall, I’d consider the night to be the equivalent of diving into a swimming pool covered by a thin sheet of ice; you know that by the definition of a swimming pool there should be the possibility of swimming, and when you dive you are stricken with gut-wrenching shock. You try to make the best of the situation and do a lap, but it’s hopeless and you end up kicking yourself for thinking that in the middle of winter the pool would be anything but frigid and lightly frozen.

Perhaps my luck will change and I’ll find the pocket of single people my age in Richland. If they exist, though, they’re good at hiding.

It’s unrelenting

Friday evening I went to a PNNL party called Mayfest. It was a lot of fun and I met some new people and got to dance. After that I went to Tagaris winery to meet some friends and have a glass of wine and listen to my coworker Doug play his guitar. Then I went home to bake some cornbread and brownies. The next morning I got up early so we could drive for 4 hours to go rafting down the Skykomish, which was a lot of fun. Afterwards we went to our campsite and stayed the night. The next morning we went hiking at Wallace Falls, then drove home, stopping along the way at a diner for lunch, making it back just in time for me to get to softball practice and call my grandma on mother’s day.

Monday I played disc golf and had a great game, almost getting a hole in one, getting 2 birdies, and ending at only +4 after 14 holes. I headed over to ultimate frisbee for a couple hours. Tuesday I played racquetball for an hour, leaving early so that I could get to softball practice, where we practiced for a couple hours. Wednesday (today), I went to ultimate, then went back to work for a couple hours to catch up on some things that I have due at work tomorrow. Tomorrow is racquetball, followed by a showing of a movie at my place (A History of Violence). Friday I’m going to a swing dance. Saturday and Sunday I’ll be in Wenatchee for an ultimate frisbee tournament, and probably won’t make it back in time for softball practice, but may be able to show another movie at my place (Chicago). Every weekday and every weekend is accounted for.

In between all of this I have a few projects I’m working on, I’m still keeping up with netflix, I’ve actually been averaging more than 8 hours of work a day, and I’m preparing all my own meals.

All the things that I’m doing are fun. I enjoy it all. But I’m definitely stretched too thin. I’m so tired, and I don’t seem to be recovering from anything. I’m getting tan, I’ve got bruises all over, and soreness that won’t go away. This can’t last, but I don’t see an end. I don’t know what to do.

Stupid Cats

On Friday night I went to bed a little early because I was getting up early to go rafting the next day. Life can be a little ironic sometimes, though.

I don’t hate cats. I don’t hate animals or pets. I would say that my attitude towards animals is generally respect, toleration, friendliness, and occasionally adoration. I have a hard time justifying ownership of one right now, but I can imagine in the future wanting a dog. All this taken into account, I would say that I get along with pets, but can live just as well without.

Friday night, though, was one of the first times I actually considered harming an animal. It started around 2 a.m. A screaming sound. At first I thought it was coming from the computer, as I had fallen asleep to a TV episode. But the noise didn’t stop and indeed continued to increase in volume. It wasn’t long before I became fully awake and realized that there was a cat outside my window making a horrible racket. I couldn’t ignore it. It was the kind of screaming that makes the silence just as grating as the noise because of the tension waiting for the sound to begin again. The cat would occasionally jump onto the patio, perhaps thinking that I was going to¬† the door. Of course, hearing an animal making such a din does not make me want to run outside and pet it and give it a saucer of warm milk. It was around 2:30 that I considered throwing something at it to convince it to assault someone who didn’t have to get up in 4 hours. It must have known I had prepared a cardboard ball to attack it because it disappeared for half an hour. It returned, though, and I endured a few more minutes of what could only be the pain of crucifixion.

In the end, the cat never felt the wrath of my foot or my weapon, but if she comes back again tonight, I may solidify my position as a dog person.

I meet an old man

I was in my usual hurry today, rushing home to make dinner and change before biking to racquetball, playing for an hour, biking back, showering, and rushing out to run errands before going to a friend’s house to watch The Amazing Race. On my way out the door, though, I saw an old guy fishing cans out of the dumpster near the apartments. I’d seen him a few times before, and even left some cans outside the dumpster to make it easier for him, but I was curious, so I started to talk to him.

It wasn’t so much a conversation as it was me listening to him tell me about himself. He opened up and told me about how the price of metals was going way up, and how in his life this had happened three times and each time would be followed by a drop and a recession. He used to work in a smelter in Anaconda, then moved to Richland to work at the Hanford area. He’s been retired for 18 years now. He has colon cancer, and it’s spread to his lungs, but he had surgery and is slowly recovering. He’s been collecting cans for 9 years and has permission from all of the nearby apartment complexes. He only makes about $20 a week, but it’s more about something to do than it is about the money. A lot of people throw away perfectly good and even unused stuff, so he has yard sales occasionally, and has made $1600 dollars so far selling stuff he just found.

It was interesting listening to him talk about the places he’d been and the things he used to do and the way things used to be. Difficult to push away my impatience at not being able to run my errands, but it was an artificial impatience; more an artifact of my hurriedness throughout the day than my hurriedness at that moment. So I set the rush away and just listened to him talk for half an hour. I may not have accomplished the things I wanted to right now, but I sure learned a lot about Leo and Richland.

Inaugural Post

It has to start somewhere. Usually it’s a rocky start, with errors galore, no focus, no intended audience, nothing at all that could indicate intelligent writing. So here is that first post. Consider my obligation complete. From now on, all posts will be insightful, interesting, witty, and, uh, won’t suck.

I can’t keep up

Every hour of every day is planned now. I used to have something after work every night. Now I’m packing in two things every night. Today I went from work to disc golf to ultimate, then out with the ultimate folks for dinner, not even getting home till 9:30. A shower later, and it’s already 10, leaving me only a couple hours to work on all my home projects, catch up on reading, and email people. Tomorrow we’re moving racquetball earlier so that I can be done in time to make it to the softball game. Yesterday I spent a few hours moving rocks at a friend’s house, then went to softball practice, then worked for a few hours. Every weekend for the next few months is planned. All these activities are fun, but I’m juggling chainsaws, and the slightest interruption threatens to throw the whole mess out of whack. Well, maybe it’s not so threatening. If I drop a few chainsaws nobody will get upset but me. Still, it’s a delicate situation, and I’m not leaving enough room for me, or the spontaneous activities, or the new people. If you’re reading this and I haven’t emailed you in a while, I’m sorry. I’m getting to it, just not as quickly as I’d like.