Thursday, May 9, 2013


    So I never really finished my last blog about my adventures in Paris with The Brazilian because like happens to all of from time to time, Life. Or in my case medical scares, bad teeth and depression in no particular order.

    The medical adventures were just as fun as one can expect and nothing serious short term thank God. I went to the dentist to finally take advantage of my dental insurance that is just this side of useless. After they hit me with the x-rays three separate times and gave me magazines from 2008 to read they took my blood pressure and basically refused any further treatment. Basically the DMD came out and said we can't even deal with your monkey ass until you get your blood pressure closer to that of a mammal not a bird strung out on meth amphetamine.
    To say my blood pressure was high at the time is an understatement, what probably didn't help matters is the fact that I was in the dentists office reading a 2008 Time Magazine about George W Bush and getting shot with X-Rays and my left arm getting the ever loving shit squeezed out of it 6 times as they staff worked diligently to get my blood pressure down to something that they could make money.
    Dr. Asian Dentist sent me home with my X-Rays and a promise that I would go to where he referred me for a root canal and that I would also see a Doctor for my blood pressure. I'd like to think he was concerned for my health and not his practice. I went in feeling reasonable as any person going into Room 13 would with all those sharp torture devices plus the knowledge that they would perform selective surgery to excise a large chunk of money out of my meager Blue Collar bank account. (God Bless America, you are on your own)
   No one likes to sit in their apartment with what feels like an elephant standing on your chest but that was my night. No matter what I tried I couldn't calm down. One doctors appointment later in which they debated keeping me overnight because and I am paraphrasing my doctor, "we've got to calm your monkey ass down". Luckily I got out of wearing a hospital gown that time, the doctor gave me 3 prescriptions and got me a referral to a heart specialist. Now I am doing better with pills that I will very likely have to take for the rest of my life and with some hope that my heart will over time shrink down to a normal size as of now it is much like the Grinches.

   This mostly happened a few months ago, the depression part of the saga is just to depressing to even talk about on here. I wouldn't even describe it as sadness but nothingness. I literally felt nothing for what seems like months. I was so desperately alone I almost bought a dog to fill the void. Luckily my avoidance of feces kicked in and that didn't happen as of now.

   My life has been changing by increments lately though. I am no longer working day shift at work but am now on nights which I don't like nights but I have to say I love, LOVE not having management bothering me all day long. You wouldn't believe how draining it is to constantly look busy just in case someone on salary happens to walk by on a whim.
   My Doctor just gave me a 6 month check up and says my blood pressure looks good and I can start exercising again, slowly at first. That is such a relief because I have a nice little gym not even 100 yards from my door but I couldn't use it for fear of my chest exploding like a landmine. Even though working out isn't as much fun as it used to be at least it is a good way to blow off some steam and get the blood pumping which now is a good thing again.

   Plus I am going back to France in 5 days to see The Brazilian. Again seeing her is going to be a bigger deal than sight seeing, I freely admit that. It will be good to get out of Planet Houstons orbit for 9 days and next to my girlfriend. This time I will try and write about it when I get back unlike last time in which I only got about a quarter into the story. I am a latecomer to travel but that has pretty much been my case throughout my life. Late to just about all the big milestones, dating, drinking, work, college and now travel. Just how I roll.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Hillbilly in Paris:Day Two

It's alright Ma, I'm only feverish...French Stomach Meds...La Nature TV....La Saltines and Sprite...Digging for Coal...I Can See My Notre Dame from Here...

     So thanks to getting food poisoning in the states I was able to pretty much waste most of my first day in Paris. So much for going to the Paris Flea Market and seeing either very expensive things I can't afford or trying to buy something I can afford only to find out that I have been pick pocketed. Either way I felt outraged and rather stupid for getting sick as if I had any control over the matter. I spent most of my Sunday in bed trying to get over whatever the hell was going on in my body.
     Food poisoning, the flu, black plague, Lupus? It's never Lupus. Whatever the hell it was that made me sick I was not amused. I was however nauseous and still jet lagged. Ana and I were going to the Flea Market that morning. Titi warned us not to go to the cheaper side but to stay in the more expensive antique part. He said you go to the affordable part to buy a really cheap leather jacket and you come out without your wallet or phone so it really isn't that great of a deal after all.
     The plan was to wake up at 8am and get ready and head over to the Flea Market then hit the Notre Dame later in the afternoon. Luckily 8am is a sad joke when it comes to waking my beloved up from a deep sleep. It might be easier to wake a cave man from being frozen in a glacier for 5,000 years than waking Ana up and I've tried just about everything. When cymbals and signal flares don't work you just have to give up and wait. Maybe I am exaggerating a tad bit, she usually does wake up easier when we are traveling I will grant her that. She slept through my puking in the bathroom closet the night before, both times. This isn't a heavy sleeper but a person in a deep coma.
     On the other hand she is smarter than me because she actually slept through the 8:00 AM alarm on into the 9:30 area. Meanwhile I lie there on the bed like a beached whale that suffered from nausea. She asked why I didn't wake her up with the alarm and I had to tell her that I was sick. I was surprised to find she didn't her my nocturnal bathroom trips. Why was I surprised by this I have no idea.
     Our roles were reversed, she was chomping at the bit to get out and see the sights and I was stuck in bed with a belly full of bad and a head of swarming insects. Even though I was still glad I wasn't back in Houston, probably would have to work the weekend before Labor Day. Ana volunteered to get me some meds for my stomach while I sat there downing tylenol and watching Nature TV with French narration. The good thing about those kinds of programs other then the great cinematography is you can watch and get an general idea what is happening.
   Ana returned minutes, hours or days later I don't know because I was dozing. She brought stomach meds and saltines, those combined with the Sprite in the mini-fridge was the cure that I needed to right myself. Two of those items, Sprite and Saltines, have been a mother's home remedy for stomach problems since the 1870's. I don't know how credible that is but if your mom never brought you Sprite and Saltines when sick then you either had a real medication or your mom didn't love you.
    Finally by that afternoon I was able to walk around the room without feeling like I was spinning in a tilta-whirl and no more breaking out into sweats like James Brown (Good Gawd Y'all). I was ready to see Paris though I wasn't yet 100% tip top. So what better plan than strap 10 lbs of camera and glass to my back and walk around with my sweetheart.
Some French Fountain Thing 
(Fontaine Saint-Michel)

    I was still running a fever, sweaty and unsteady walking around the unfamiliar streets in a jet lag induced daze. Typically I am a ball of nerves when walking the streets in a strange city. It usually takes me at least a day or two too calm down enough to enjoy the sights and sounds . The first time I was in New York City I was as jumpy as a frog in an iron skillet, the same for Sao Paulo. Paris wasn't so bad, I was a little jumpy the first night there but walking around with Ana toward the Seine I was calm with exhaustion and fever. The Seine, if I was back home it would have been called Green or Ohio River or  perhaps Skeeter Bayou. God Bless the People's Republica of Texas.
   Paris is amazing in the same sense that New York City is, you can actually walk to just about any destination and if not the Subway is right there at your disposal. It is thrills me to be in a walkable city. I live less than a mile from my job but there is no way I'd risk walking across an intersection in Houston in the morning. I don't like driving across intersections in the morning in Houston or any time for that matter. When Ana was staying with me in March I even told her that I never take off from a green light, always hesitating for a few seconds because some dumb bastard is always trying to make it across.  That act might have saved us both from a pot smoking pizza delivery moron one night who just clipped my front bumper.

Ana and some sort of book store place

   We walked along the Seine, toward Notre Dame and Shakespeare and Company Bookstore. Each are landmarks in their own right, one has been in many books, the other sales many books and both have been in a few movies. S & C is everything you ever wanted in a hip bookstore, crowded, claustrophobic and stuffed to the gills with dusty books. It wasn't until I met the author Jeremy Mercer at the Santos Book Festival that I learned that the owner allowed authors to sleep there in exchange that they help out in the store. I didn't really have time to ask about accommodations at that time and even so I had to go back to the States anyway to work more overtime to pay for this trip.
   Ana and I made a circuit of the shop, up the stairs, pass the Japanese girl with backpack using an old typewriter in a cupboard. The English woman talking about travel to a couple in a large room.  Then back down the stairs past a cubby hole with a children's bed and books and around back to the front. I was tempted to buy yet another copy of Tropic of Cancer and get the stores stamp on the inside flap but I really didn't need a third (fourth?) copy of the book. Not to mention the fact that I now have an entire wall covered with books in my dining room that I need to read. Half Price Books and numerous Borders Bookstore closings has turned me into a bit of a hoarder.

Notre Dame was also crowded with tourists and also Mass but it didn't seem as claustrophobic. Actually you'd have to be a 50 foot giant to  even begin feeling claustrophobic in the Notre Dame. You witness the outside and think nothing of it but on the inside you see the real beauty of the structure, the high ceiling, the arches and columns and stained glass. This becomes quite common in most of the churches that I went into in Paris, the outside is just another church but the inside is wondrous  Things like this make you realize that most American buildings are a joke, box stores and McDonald's and all ready to be knocked over by a strong wind and into the Wendy's or Wal-Mart across the street.
     We left out through the same crowd that swept us inside like a wave and walked down toward the bridge to the other island in the Seine, Ile Saint-Louis. I had heard this island mentioned a number of times the night before has the best Ice Cream ever in the history of forever. The conversations of the night before between Ana and Titi about this ice cream place where in my head, though I was in and out of that space time continuum by then. I just remember hearing were the words yummy, best in Paris, and love it repeatedly. I was sick and a little drunk on champagne but I wasn't stupid, I knew we'd be hitting up that ice cream parlor as soon as possible.
     I was lead through the narrow streets past the little shop windows with their interesting wares for sell but not really allowed to stray to far from the path. Ana was like a Ice Cream seeking bloodhound and I was tagging right along beside her. She knew exactly where to go and before I knew it I was standing at a window that had a list of flavors for the day. I had Salted Caramel, I am sure of that but I can't remember what Ana had, either way the ice cream was as described the night before, awesome.

     After we got our bearings and started the short walk back to the hotel with my my body still sweating out what ever was trying to kill me the day before we tried to figure out what to do with the wreck of a day. The schedule was now completely screwed thanks to my stomach and bad American Food. We chose to go to the Eiffel Tower at around 9, which entailed going the 100 yards to the Subway with the chance of more walking afterwards.
     I had heard stories from people about the Paris Metro, that it was dirty and dank and not well light and I have to say those people must have been in a different Paris. Personally every time I hear about a Subway system I just assume the worst which so far has been New York City. Even that is not as bad as movies and TV has made it out to be, I actually like riding the NYC Subway system because it gets you where you want to go unlike Chicago's EL which gets you about 20 blocks from where you want to go. I like the NYC Subway but nothing in it has ever been washed, just painted over a few hundred times since 1865 when it was first built. The Metro is old as hell to but the French seem to have heard about the invention of the Pressure Washer and keep that place clean or as clean as possible being buried under the Earth. It was also well light or maybe it just seemed brighter thank to the walls being covered in white ceramic tile.
       We made a few stops and like any monkey in a strange tree I watched what others were doing to get the doors to open. When you reach a Subway Stop you can't do like NYC or Sao Paulo and just leap through the door as it open but you first have to flip a lever on the door to get them to open. These are need to know things kids, I don't want to charge face first into a subway door thinking I'm on Star Trek or the grocery stores where things open automatically.
      It was around 9:45 by the time we reached the Eiffel Tower on a Sunday night and it was just a crowded as you would expect the most famous landmark in Europe to be on any night. It was pretty crowded and gorgeous. You've seen the Eiffel Tower a million times in your life but then you are standing under the thing and you realize all those pictures and movies don't really do it justice. In most movies and photos you see it way off in the background, looking majestic and tall. I imagine there are two reasons for this, one is because it is such an icon of the city that it just demands that kind of respect and two probably because if they took a photo really close to the base people would see how long the lines are to go to the top.

     Not that the lines really matter because it is the Eiffel Tower, you don't go all the way to New York and just stand and look at The Empire State Building then sigh and go back to the hotel room. Now you climb up inside that bastard and look as far as you can see into New York City gloriousness. Same with Eiffel, you came this far be a shame to say fuck a bunch of lines. Besides you are a tourist like it or not and lines are your speciality. Lines and dodging guys trying to sell you mini-everything.
     Ana and I got in the cattle line for tickets to the top with all the other people pretending to be paying attention to their smart phones and taking pictures up the Eiffel's dress. We waited in the line knowing that they closed the top at 11:00 pm but it was only 10 so we had plenty of time to get to buy the ticket and ride up to the top. It gave us hope up until around 10:15 when the marquee over the ticket booth started flashing that ticket sales for the top had ended for the night. We could still go to the midpoint but not all the way up to the top. Ana was deflated as was I because we had waited for so long and were so damn close to the head of the line. We weakly vowed to come back later in the week and go to the top. It was the same kind of promise you make to keep in touch with old classmates or people you reunite with at funerals.
The View

     We actually closed down the Eiffel Tower, us about 2 dozen other bleary eyed, jet lagged tourists. We consulted the trusty Metro Map and found a train that took us close to our hotel without having to connect. So off we went back to the Hotel and that big comfy bed that was waiting for me, covers outstretched ready to embrace me into delicious slumber.
     The only memorable thing about the train ride home was at the station near the Eiffel Tower at well past midnight two teenagers, a boy and a girl walked past us to sit. The young man with his jeans around his ass and his underwear at waist level decided to scratch something out of his ass with furiously. Ah, Paris at last, romance and hemorrhoids.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Hillbilly in Paris : Day One

...Red Texas to Socialist Paris...No Shoes, No Belt, No Security...Food Poisoning But From Where...Sleep Deprivation + Jet Lag Makes Jack A Dull Boy...It Was Good Till It Came Back Up

    When I left work Friday at 11 to catch my flight it was damn near impossible not to jump up like Mary Tyler more and screech out a "See you in hell, SUCKERS!" but I managed to clock out without any such outburst. This was made even more difficult to hold back because right before  leaving we got "The Lecture" from our supervisor.  It was the standard when you get here glue yourself to your machine or job and never notice another human being until clocking out speech. I have worked in a few factories in my life and it is always the same doesn't matter if you are making Barbie Dolls or Bombs they want you to be a diligent monk. Of course I was leaving anyway and this was really a proper send off for me, one week away from the slave ship, the shackles and my oar. 

    Delta Airlines sent me 5 to 10 email requests to check in online about a month before my flight  was to leave for Paris.  With all those email reminders and the fact that my printed email had DELTA scrawled all over it, it is no wonder that I went to the Delta Terminal to check my bag and get my tickets. I knew my flight was being operated by Air France but after getting so many email reminders and my print out had DELTA written all over it who could blame me for going to the Delta Terminal. Luckily I had plenty of time to catch my flight. I just had to figure out the maze of the Houston Airport and overcome that highly anxious buzzing repeating in my brain that I fucked up, I was in the wrong place, God Help me where do I go.

    Airports and Casinos have one thing in common, they are built like mazes and there is no map anywhere to help you figure out where the hell you are and where you need to go. What you do get is a bunch of signs with arrows pointing in vague directions.  I walked down some steps and up an elevator, passed a Starbucks then through detective work and reading caveman scratches near the escalator I learned the Terminal Shuttle was in the basement.  The Terminal Shuttle, so named as it is so slow that you may expire before reaching your destination. It had about as much power as the kiddies roller coaster ride at a second rate carnival. Luckily for me the Air France terminal was on the opposite side of the airport and we slowly approached it as if being drawn by crippled turtles. 
    I was warmly greeted by the man behind the Air France counter with a hearty "Bonjour". I ran the gauntlet of requirements; passport, bag check, no explosive in said baggage, boarding pass and off to the real fun, the security check. Shoes off, belt off, pants held up by wishful thinking and irradiated by one of those new machines then to put all that shit back on. Afterwards I had 90 minutes to kill inside the airport so I walked around looking for a newsstand and something to eat. I really just wanted a few beers before the plane took off to calm my nerves and make me drowsy for the ten hour flight. I'm generally not nervous about flying but checking into another country and through customs. I always have this looming fear in the back of my mind that I won't have that one piece of paper required and some official with a funny hat and large hands will gentle push me back onto the plane back to the States.
      Air France is just like flying United Airlines (formerly Continental), the last carrier I took on an international trip. They both have planes, pilots and passengers. I don't remember getting free wine with my meal on United as they are very adamant about charging you for anything fun. Also I think the three movies they offered on my United flight to Brazil were black and white silent films starring either Charlie Chaplin of Hitler, hard to tell on those 5 inch monitors. Now Air France had recent movies such as Prometheus, The Avengers and the forgettable Men in Black 3 not to mention an entire library of other shows. My seat was so far in the back I might have actually been sitting on the tail fin and being the seasoned traveller that I am I immediately sat in the wrong seat. The french girl whose seat I had taken was very polite about the mistake and I felt like more of a dumbass than usual.
     Getting through immigration in France was a difficult process of presenting my passport and then getting it stamped followed by walking through a set of glass doors into the Terminal. I almost thought I had gone through the wrong line shouldn't this have been a bigger ordeal with grumpy looking TSA agents scowling at you and demanding what you brought into the country? Shouldn't I have to fill out forms and declare my toothbrush and boxer shorts? Come on, the wait was only 25 minutes? I went to the baggage claim and collected my suitcase which looked as if someone had tried to fold it in half but luckily the $5 Goodwill Store construction held up yet again. I wonder though how many more flights till it finally succumbs to the baggage handlers antics. If my TV Commercials are accurate they hire Gorillas and Elephants to move luggage, it shows. 
     Luckily the rule about airports being labyrinths previously mentioned above is an international phenomenon. It took me quite some time to find the airport shuttle service that was supposed to whisk me away on a chariot of chocolate feathers to the Hotel Home Latin. The location of the Super Shuttle on my print out stated the location was in the Gallery between Terminal 2e and 2f but where the hell was the gallery. You mean there is going to be art between both terminals? After walking around aimlessly for 30 minutes, up and down and back again I decided to go down a hallway only to have the other end blocked by three soldiers with automatic rifles. So I do what I usually do when confronted with heavily armed people, I turned around and went back the way I came. It was on this second pass that I saw a small, 8x10 blue piece of paper taped loosely to the back of a chair with the shuttle services name printed on it. 
   Which just goes to show that you should never have a preconceived notion of how things ought to be when you are traveling abroad. Sure in The States those shuttles always have huge kiosks and signs, in Brazil they have them all neatly lined up in their own area but in Paris you get a 8x10 print out half assed placed on a table, out of the line of sight in the middle of nowhere but near the one of the many exits. Maybe not the best for place for people suffering from sleep deprivation and jet lag but when in Rome, don't bitch about Romans. 
   First impressions driving into Paris in the fully loaded box van was that Houston graffiti artists just aren't trying hard enough. Every inch of concrete barrier on the expressway was covered in colorful graffiti, not exactly Banksy or Shepard Fairey but still it showed a sense of dedication one rarely sees in defacing grey concrete. The closer we got to the center of Paris, the less graffiti until suddenly we crossed a bridge over the Seine and there in the middle of the window was Notre Dame big as life. If I weren't battling jet lag, lack of sleep and battling a mysterious on and off again fever I probably would have screeched out like a teenage girl and pointed my finger wildly but all I could think about was getting to the hotel and taking a long shower and a nap. I was more excited to see Ana than the Notre Dame.
   Unloading some of the thicker passengers at random hotels in the Latin Quarter and driving the wrong way down a few narrow streets we finally managed to make it to the Hotel Home Latin. I already knew what the place looked like thanks in part to Google Earth though I was sad to see that the two black gentlemen in suits were no longer sitting out front.  The concierge was a nice balding, middle aged man with big 80's style glasses who wouldn't give me the room keycard because he had some issue with his computer. He said he could give me the master key to open the door so that I could shove my luggage in and prop the door open so I could bring his master key back immediately. I did as I was told dragging my bent suitcase behind. The room was adequate, a nice comfy bed and one of those window that open inside the room so you can lean out and get a view or shout at people down on the street. The bathroom was designed for use on a submarine and a warning should have been posted on the door explaining it wasn't intended for people who suffer claustrophobia. The real trick was getting out of the shower in such a way that your ass didn't knock the toilet paper roll unto the floor every time. I never mastered this completely. Not that any of that really mattered, I just needed as the late George Carlin said, "A place for my stuff". I mean seriously who cares about the room when you know you are only going to be sleeping there. The rest of the time I intend to see the sights or be in transit to another sight. 

     I showered, took a nap, walked around the neighborhood some but mostly I waited for Ana to show. She was to arrive at the hotel at around 5pm but it was almost 6 and still no Brazilian. I was wondering if she had the same problems that I had trying to find the 8x10 piece of paper in the middle of the largest airport in France. I wasn't getting too worried because she is better at traveling abroad than I am, she doesn't sit in the wrong seat or nothing when she gets on the plane. Of course this knowledge didn't stop me from running to the window every time I heard a car door close. 
    Finally the phone in my room rang but it was my friend Titi Kwan wanting to know when and where to meet. I haven't seen Titi in number of years since I brought him to and fro from the Nashville Airport to our mutual friend Brandon's apartment in Bowling Green, KY. We had that one person in common then and now we have the aftermath of his death to bind us. He was only going to be in Paris for tonight as he had a flight that morning to catch to Shanghai. I explained to him that we would have to meet later that night because Ana still hadn't arrived even though she was 3 hours late from the time she said she would be at the hotel. I just chalked this all up to being "Brazilian Late" which it turns out was more or less correct. Ana's Super Shuttle finally pulled in front of the hotel at 7:30. Then after hugs and kisses and dragging her light suitcase to the room I got the entire story about how the Sao Paulo airport was packed and the lines were long and even the plane was an hour late taking off. 
     We took a walk around the block and when we came back Titi was waiting in the lobby. I gave Titi a big bear hug and a heavy southern accented "bonjour" and tried not to get emotional. All three of us took to the street more or less following Titi in a zombie like Jet Lagged daze as he rambled off places to eat. We wondered into a Chinese restaurant and Titi ordered us a few dishes in his native tongue. Ana was going over the itinerary with him, what was a good idea, what were the bad places and so on. We talked about our late friend Brandon.

     Titi suggested we get a drink, the three of us sat in an outside cafe across from the Seine and Notre Dame. Titi ordered a bottle of champagne as he always claims that champagne brings no ill effects such as hangovers. It was around this time things starting to go south for me. I was overcome by drowsiness plus I felt a fever really coming on strong. I had been feeling hot since boarding the plane the day before, having spells on and off the entire flight in which I was really hot then back to normal. I just thought it might have been the plane because it had none of those nifty air vents to blow cool air on you like Boeing 767's do. Titi and Ana were cold, both in long sleeves and sweaters I had taken my cardigan off and was sitting away from the overhead heaters, burning up in just a t-shirt in the cool breezy night air. Finally I had to call it a night. 
    Titi walked us back to the Hotel Home Latin and we said our goodbyes. I'd like to comment on how beautiful Notre Dame was at night or the city in general. I'd like to say I loved the cool air or all the foreign voices around us, the sights and sounds of a foreign city but I felt like I just been hit with a one thousand pound shit hammer.  I wished him a safe trip to China and he told us to enjoy our stay in Paris. I was sad to see him leave as I had really wanted to catch up with him. Luckily for me Ana asked him lots of questions as he is a fashion designer and she is a fashion lover. So while I was shifting in and out of wellness and sickness she was keeping the conversation alive. Even so, after a certain point I just wanted to crawl into the river and sleep in those cool waters. 

    Ana and I got back to our room and both got under the covers of exhaustion. Actually Ana got under the covers I was still running hot, like I was on fire. So I opened the window to let the cool Parisian night air in and drank half a liter of Evian. Later that night, around 2 in the morning it finally hit me. I went to the bathroom and tried to think about anything but puking, doing my Lamaze Technique, saying my mantra and anything that came to mind from the days when I would drink two pitchers of beer with the girls when my body really only wanted no more than one pitcher. It used to work, ten years ago. My body rid itself of the champagne, the sweet and sour pork, the won ton soup, the meal I had on the flight, the meal I had before the flight and I think maybe some Stove Top leftover in my intestines from last Thanksgiving. Usually I like to puke in front of the bowl but with the size of our facility my choices were limited to under the sink or in the shower. I lay the blame on my food poisoning on something I ate in the States either at the airport or something before I left the house. I was having those hot flashes all throughout the flight but I just chocked that up to something else. It wasn't until late in the evening did it become apparent that my body hated something so bad that it needed to get rid of it and simply cooking it out with a fever wasn't going to work. 
     Food poisoning in Paris, what a great way to start. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Small Government in Action

    As a new resident of the Republic of Texas I am required by law to get my car registered in Texas within 30 days and a Texas State Drivers license within 30-90 days to be all nice and legal. So now, over a year after I moved, I finally bought into this entire "being legal" sham and got my Drivers License and car registered.
    I arrived 8:30 to the DPS to finally get my license only to find all the rumors about lines being much worse than I heard. There were literally people outside the building in a winding line. Easily 70 people waiting to get inside and even more inside, seated waiting to be called. Luckily Texas is so far up north that you don't have to worry about things like Heat and Sun in August. The heat and humidity was rather bad but I imagine it gets worse in the afternoon when the Vultures come out from hiding.

One Side of the Office

   As we got nearer and nearer the door the 20 something in front of me pondered aloud what lay inside. I think he was getting delusional from the sun. He thought it would be a straight shot to getting the picture taken and card in hand. I being more of a glass is half empty person suspected something of a theme park layout much like Universal Studios where you walking winding feeder lot lines on the outside of the line to a gate. On the other side of that gate that has been hidden for the 2 hours you were in line there is....more line and wait. By then you've passed the point of no return and stick it out for another hour.
   We crossed that point, the door and found chairs, rows of chairs all with asses planted firmly in them. People who were near the front of the line when I arrived were still sitting and waiting to be called.  Universal Studios Florida might have modeled itself on this place if not for the chairs. I slowly approached the desk with my handful of papers establishing that I did indeed live in Texas and I was in fact a resident to be given a ticket with a number to be called later.
    After that it was only another 45 minutes till my number got called, then another 60 minutes while I drove to the Social Security Office to get an affidavit swearing to the fact that I do indeed have such a thing and am a Full Blooded US citizen. I'd say all in all I spent at least 5 hours trying to get my Texas State Drivers License and after all that I still didn't get the real thing but an 8x10 piece of paper with my photo and all my info. A temporary I.D. until the real thing arrives in the mail in 7-10 days.
    I want to say I am not blaming the men and women (mostly women) that work at these offices they are doing the best that they can and that is very apparent. It isn't a question of how they do their job it is one of (Wo)man Power.I can't even imagine how many people file through that office in a day and all those office workers are probably insane by Friday afternoon wanting to slap citizen in the head with a swingline stapler. Whacko against the side of the head, above the ear.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Corporate America

     We had a meeting at work today or as they are called Town Hall which didn't seem like the ones I remember seeing on FOX News back in 2009. Not as many old farts in Medicare Provides scooters and a lot more Asians.
     In typical Manufacturing Style the first half of the meeting was about how awesome Sales had been the year of 2012. A big projected chart on the wall showing expenses vs profit and as far as I could see with my Ray Ban eyewear was PROFIT, PROFIT, PROFIT. I'm not saying that we had the best month ever in the month of May of the companies entire history, I allowed the President of the company to say that very thing.
    The company is doing so awesome and well that we have to cut one week out of your vacation time. Yea you know how we had it so that every month you got 10 hours that you could use whenever well now in this limited fuck you in the sweet ass offer we are going to cut that down to you getting 6 hours a month and the other 4 go into something called sick days. What are sick days mind you well those are going to what you use when you get sick and for no other reason. If they see you using a sick day for some sort of personal use well by God you better be praying to whatever deity you believe. Plus we are going to take 16 hours that you have already accrued and turn those into sick days you can only use in the described fashion so that week off that you were so close to well FUCK YOU, you are now short two days. Ha ha ha...
       Now I don't want you to think I am picking on our new head of HR or the President or whoever else was doing the presentation because I know they are just cogs in the wheel as well. Somewhere though there sits a toad in an office with hemorrhoids, a huge salary and no fucking joy in his heart dictating this bullshit.
      As for me, just a Blue Collared asshole trying to get by in this world, pay off some debts, make new debts and not hate myself every waking fucking moment of my 7 am to 6 pm, 6 days a week world, it hurts. I had this goal ahead of me of taking a week off and doing nothing, maybe traveling to another place that has now grown dimmer. Makes a grown man cry.

So from now on this is my new policy.

A) Fuck you I'm taking some days off be they sick or PTO and I'm going to relax.
B) From now on

As my Brazilian girlfriend said in response to this news. "It's amazing how you guys are so advanced at most things and your labor laws and rights are shit."

     As a post script to this blog or screed I want to add that the most interesting part of the meeting wasn't even the lose of a week of vacation. We have a lot of Asian people working at the plant and many of them aren't really used to Western Toilets. So there is nothing like watching the head of HR explaining that the paper on the back of the door that is supposed to be used to cover the seat isn't for you to stand on while you crouch on the toilet.
     That college degree is basically paying for itself when you work at a place in which people haven't figured out how to use the shitter. I'm not saying that as someone that just landed in a new culture should know all the customs, absolutely not but I would think after living somewhere for a few years you'd figure out to sit your ass on that thing with the big hole in the middle. I've been to Brazil twice I still don't know what the hell to do with the bidet but if I lived there and that was all that I had I'd figure it out, ask around take some night classes on squirting water up your bum.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Blue Collared and Beat

       My name is Phelps, I write blogs or I did but I also have a day job. A job in which I actually have to wear a blue collar strangely enough. A smock made of some material that prevents electric static build up so I am assuming that it is made from dryer sheets. If only I had gotten the Spring Rain ESD smock things would be so much better at work but instead I was given the Stale Sweat and Tears one.

Damn What's That Funky Smell

      I like my job for the most part other than the 10 hour days and every Saturday but I just figure this is payback for those two years that I lived on unemployment, under the table jobs and in different countries while most God fearing people were counting down the minutes till the end of their shift I was drinking ice cold Bohemia beer in Brazil with a sexy girl next to me or slinging paint on walls with Ralph next to me cursing and carrying on and having a good time. 
    Now I'm back doing the SERIOUS work, with SERIOUS people in a factory setting making widgets or missile guidance systems, who knows. Just build the fucking things fast and cheap and get them out of here or typical factory work. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


     I got an iPhone and am now totally addicted to taking photos with the camera especially the Hipstamatic App. I guess that makes me a Hillbilly Hipster. I have a friend that doesn't like Hipsters which I don't really understand. My only problem with hipsters other than wearing skinny jeans, which are the devil, is they got it easy when it comes to outlets of information.

      Back when I was a kid (I can't believe I just typed that) you had to work like a mad bastard to find the cool stuff. I mean you had to dig because your parents usually weren't a roadmap and our library was the size of closet. All you had were your friends and maybe a few magazines that would steer you the right way and of course movies. It is actually kind of impressive how things would fall into ones lap, a friend would tell you about this guy called Kerouac, another friends dad would tell you about Bob Dylan and JD Salinger and still yet another movie would turn you on to Hunter S Thompson and Henry Miller. Henry and June...what the hell kind of movie is that, I don't know but it is rated NC-17 so hang on...
     By God if you heard about something cool you had to do real research to find it now you use Wiki and you not only know about the author/musician but what he was wearing when he wrote the book/music. Shit you don't even need cliff notes anymore with Wiki, want to know what Hamlet's deal was, give me a second... Ok, his uncle killed his dad to gain the the throne and the Queen and Hamlet knows because the ghost dad told him. Done. 

    I'm just jealous is all, the hipsters have almost instantaneous discovery when it took me months to piece meal together things about the Beats or listen to more than three Bob Dylan albums. Now you can find out about all the Beats in a few clicks and download almost all of Bob in an hour with a fast connection. 

    What I am trying to say is I feel RIPPED OFF! Damn kids.

Lunch Time Nap in ESD Smock

Beltway 8, heading to the place with my stuff