This week, I dropped a client of seven years. That I spent my entire weekend mitigating their incompetence is not a coincidence. Why, I sent my contract-termination email during that very weekend.
Example exchange from the increasingly panicked phone calls:
"Despite all that effort," I grumbled, "We can't fix something fundamentally incompetent."
"I don't agree that it's incompetent."
"You don't need to. I don't want my company exposed to that sort of liability."
"What if we pay you more money?"
"No. That would just be more liability."
And thus my vilification has begun. They haven't actually used the word "particular," but I can feel it coming.
Text exchange with my redheaded former student Darcy:
Me: "I was driving through campus and saw a dorky redheaded student carrying a huge stack of books and wearing a poseur turtleneck and beret and nerd glasses. It made me all nostalgic. I tried to hit her with my door, but she was too fast."
Darcy: "And I thought of you yesterday when I thought I'd stepped in something but it turned out to be nothing."
Yesterday I endured a Christian railing about the wedding cake case. In it, a baker is suing the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for violating his First Amendment right to free speech. How? By compelling him to speak in favor of gay marriage. Huh? How? He got in trouble for refusing to bake a gay wedding cake. What makes a cake gay, I am not sure, although that gluten-free bullshit comes to mind.
"I'm worried about the precedent," clucked this person about protecting the right to discriminate, with zero sense of irony or self-awareness. "If you can't practice your religion at work, where else won't you be able to you practice it?"
Jesus H. Christ. Choice of expletives deliberate.
I resisted the temptation to ask where gay wedding cakes are mentioned in the Bible. I missed the parable where Jesus refused to bake one.
It amazes me that not everyone thinks that this brand of "spirtuality" is an obvious fabrication, the moron's answer to the question, "How can I rationalize my abundant hate?" Or, more topically, "How can I reframe society's refusal to allow me to discriminate as my own persecution?"
I got out of the conversation before she could rail about gays "shoving their lifestyle in our faces." Irony and self-awareness are not these folks' strong suits.
My hotel neighbor is getting the Christmas spirit.
A quick stop at the store.
Thank goodness that fascist Obama is out of the White House and we're allowed to wish the deserving a Merry Christmas again.
I have a trip to Seattle coming up, and for the first time since arriving in Cooterville, I need to board Fredo. He's a basket case without me, so I'm fairly selective. No other dogs, please. Work from home, please. High tolerance for screaming like he's being stabbed, please.
Those were pretty much my filter criteria.
I booked a middle-aged guy named John who works from home and who, in the right light, doesn't look like a tweaker. An honorable mention went to the college student who professed to love dogs and own them her whole life and she really loves dogs and she has a tattoo of her first dog on her thigh. Photo not included.
My extended stay hotel is not filled, as I expected, with traveling executives. They're here, but they're a minority. No, the clientèle here is overwhelmingly people who left their marriage five minutes ago. In retrospect this makes sense, but I did not see it coming.
If I had, I surely wouldn't have spent Thanksgiving listening to weeping through the wall. I mulled over my human obligations. Invite her to come next door and drink protein shakes and watch football with me? I decided that might push her over the edge completely and instead put on sob-canceling headphones.
Business is booming, after a lull. A long lull. During my first full day of work in weeks, I was mentally drained and emotionally bankrupt after five hours. My brain's gotten flabby. Flabbier.
It's Day 13 million of my diet, give or take. I took a friend and her husband out to lunch last week, and they chose Applebee's. I scoured the menu for something, anything I could eat.
"I'll take the ribs," the husband ordered. My stomach audibly gurgled.
"Shut up, you pussy," my brain snapped at my stomach, and then I ordered the basil tomato soup.
"I can really see the weight loss," chirped my friend.
"See, the problem is that you would say encouraging things even if I'd put on 20 pounds," I replied.
"I would not!"
I turned to her husband. "Do you see any weight loss?"
This year is a no-brainer. I am unbelievably grateful to be living in a hotel in a crap part of town, with no prospect of getting out of here anytime soon. I am grateful to share laundry, to have one pair of pants available, to have to remove my car stereo at night, to have to buy a locking gas cap and chain down the hood of my car, to hear the domestic-abuse victim who's hiding next door weeping through the wall.
My life just two months ago was so, so much worse.
Thanks to the money-pit house and, to a lesser degree, my frustrations with Pittsburgh's culture of low expectations, I got the pleasure of dealing with anxiety for the first time of my life. I slept horribly. I felt self-conscious handing objects to people; my hands, and the object, crazily trembled. I fretted constantly, my mind running hyperactive circles as it desperately tried to find an exit. I couldn't drink caffeine because it only exacerbated things—less sleep, more worry, more trembling. The only thing that brought me any relief was alcohol, and as the child of alcoholics, I do not seek that station in life.
The day I crossed the Ohio border, it all ceased. Click. And now I'm making up for lost time. Here's the floor of the passenger side of my car. Oh, sweet caffeine, my love, my life, welcome home.