Monday, April 25, 2011

More Traveling & Baseball

Recently I took another couple of trips in my never-ending quest to avoid working too much. While I haven't finished relating the details of many of my previous trips, I thought I'd better get started on these while they're still fresh in the memory banks. All this mental hoop-jumping is good exercise for the gray matter anyway.

There was a quick jaunt recently to San Diego with some comrades from work to go catch a baseball game. Myself, 3 buddies from work, and 2 wives all made our way down to PetCo Park, the current corporate branding for the baseball stadium home of the San Diego Padres. We went in 2 separate vehicles as one of the couples would be staying overnight, whereas the rest of us would be returning here to Las Vegas right after the game. The whole thing is about a 650 mile round-trip from my one buddy's house, and seeing as how he'd be doing the driving this time, we'll measure it from there.

3 of us in this vehicle work in the same aisle in the post office, so we get to talk for a couple hours each morning while we set up our routes before we go out to the street to deliver the mail. We spend as much time joking and laughing as we can, because what else is life about if not trying to enjoy it as much as possible? So this ride to San Diego would be no different, as we do our best to rip each other apart, all in the name of humor and a good time. We can be a very entertaining crew of idiots...

We had prepaid for parking as well as the game tickets, so we were in a lot directly adjacent to the ballpark, and the lot was attached to our destination by a uniquely designed pedestrian bridge over Harbor Drive. I appreciate interesting architecture, so I enjoy seemingly simple things like that. It also afforded a nice view of downtown San Diego, with the convention center, some hotels, train tracks, and PetCo Park all within close proximity.

This was not my first trip to PetCo Park, and it really is a very nice place to see a baseball game. In addition, it's a nice place to just hang around on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. It's in a great area, with lots of attractions right around the park...including many of the magazine-cover cuties working at the Tilted Kilt Pub. We hung out there for a while waiting for game time, enjoying the good food...amongst other things...

Our seats were on the third base side, in the shade, which wasn't as important as it could have been, but I wasn't taking any chances when I ordered them some weeks before. We were about halfway up, and had an excellent view of the whole playing area, plus the Padres dugout on the first base side. It was an entertaining game, including a couple of home runs by the home team. One of my co-workers also made a new friend, as a very tired/drunk/hungover girl
sitting next to him kept passing out, and slowly slumping over onto him over the course of the game. It made for an additional entertainment factor...stuff like this always seems to happen to him, too.

The Padres beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the game was secondary to the fun that we were all having. In addition to laughing and being silly and stupid, I was also once again struck by the lush greenness of a Major League Baseball playing surface. It never fails to be a site attractive to my eye, and with downtown San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter visible just over the outfield walls, the whole thing makes for a pretty picture.

We made a stop on the return trip at Portillo's, a Chicago-based chain of restaurants serving hot dogs, Italian beef, hamburgers, snadwiches, and other great items. So we sat, ate, laughed, picked up some beef for other friends/co-workers, and then completed the drive home. And then I flew out Tuesday morning to spend 3 days in San Francisco.

But that's a story for another day...

Blog Post Soundtrack; The White Stripes (live), Punjabi MC, Judas Priest, The Doors (live w/Eddie Vedder singing), Rollins Band, King Missile, Slayer, Yawning Man, Huevos Rancheros, Zeke, Galactic, Django Reinhardt, Orange 9MM, Megadeth, Clutch, Joy Division, The Minutemen, Blondie, Down, Primus, Cage The Elephant, Tygers Of Pan Tang, The Company Band, Mother Love Bone, Black Sabbath

Sunday, April 17, 2011

How I Got My Nevada-Adopted-Mom (Version 2.0)

Today is my Nevada-adopted-Mom's birthday. It's some anniversary of her 38th birthday. Whereas most women stop aging at 29, she stopped at 38, which just so happens to be her route number (yes, she's a mailman, too). How did she become my Nevada adopted Mom? Glad you didn't ask...

I had just transferred to Henderson, Nevada from the Long Island, New York area in mid-March of 2000. One of the best things about this job is that you can do things like that. By transferring, I lost all of my in-office seniority, but still kept my overall time in the Post Office. So as far as bidding on routes and vacation time and things like that, I was at the bottom of the totem pole, but I made it up in so many other ways.

The P.O. does not have area wages. The salary is the same across the country. So, while doing this job in New York and Los Angeles and Chicago and other major metropolitan areas leaves something to be desired as far as cost-of-living, if you're willing to relocate to smaller markets, you can have a much better quality of life. I've had my own home out here since July of 2001, and that was perhaps the biggest reason I came out here in the first place. Living in New York, on a P.O. salary, I was most likely either never going to have the house, or I'd be living check-to-check forever to finance it if I did get it.

Having been out here only a few weeks, I really hadn't gotten to know many people yet. I came from a small office in New York which only had about 15 routes in it. I carried in a fairly affluent section of Long Island, where each house had a little bit of property to it, so walking routes covered more geographical space than they did houses. So there weren't a lot of carriers in the building, and our office wasn't too big, so we all knew everything about all the co-workers...whether we wanted to or not.

In switching out to Henderson, a suburb of Las Vegas, I went from an area of the world where all of the space had been maximized and used, to an area of extreme growth and change and upheaval. At that time, the area was the fastest growing in terms of population in the United States. Houses were going up as fast as they could be built, and were being sold even faster. Overnight, new streets would open, and nearly on a weekly basis, new neighborhoods would spring up. As a consequence, the P.O. was struggling to keep up with all the rapid growth. There were new routes being created practically every month. By the time I transferred in, the office I walked into was huge, and still rather tightly packed. There were so many people there on any given day it seemed like I'd never get to know everyone by name.

Music has always been a very important part of my life, and my working day was no exception. At the time I either carried a Walkman or a small portable stereo mini boombox kinda thing, depending on the route I'd be on that day. On this particular day, as I came back into the station, I had my boombox blasting Motörhead covering a song written by Richard Berry, but made most famous by The Kingsmen. As I got out of my truck and wheeled my stuff into the office, some woman I sorta recognized came up to me, hands on hips, and said, "Is that Louie Louie?" To which I replied, a little hesitantly, "...yeah..." The hands now rose from her hips to her ribcage, and the voice also rose a little in pitch and volume as she queried, "How old are you?!?" Hesitancy rising to match the hands and tone, I responded, "...28..." The hands now shot up to meet her armpits, and the voice now rose accordingly to a near-shriek, with a volume to match; "I HAVE CHILDREN OLDER THAN YOU!!!"

Once I was able to stop my eardrums from bleeding, I started to beam, threw my arms out as wide as possible, and responded in kind...


That was over 11 years ago. We've gone on to become very good friends. I played tour guide for her and her husband (also a good friend, was a carrier for many years, and is now a high-ranking local carrier's union official) on their first official vacation to New York back in September, 2003. There are plenty of stories from that trip I need to write-up...ask Mom about the cab ride to go see The Producers on Broadway...

What probably kills her the most about her "name" is the fact that our resident fossil, who is now 77 years old (which would make him nearly 2 decades older than her), and still carrying mail...calls her Mom too.

Blog Post Soundtrack; Indy Lights Grand Prix Of Long Beach, Washington Capitals at the New York Rangers in Game 3 of the 1st round of their NHL Playoff series

Friday, April 1, 2011

More Unseen Writing...Like, Totally...

Since it's been a bit of time since I last posted something here, I thought I'd quickly pop in and crib something that I wrote for Unseen Films and post it. It's my way of still having something to put up here when I don't actually have the TIME to put something up here. I've got so many stories that I've started to tell here that are unfinished (mainly my travels around the country), plus loads more anecdotes about my working at the Post Office (an endless source of entertainment), and just life in general. But for now, I'll post something that I originally wrote last June about the Irish comedian Dylan Moran, a great observer of human behavior with a fantastic ability to relate these observations to us in a way that lets us know exactly how stupid we really are. He's right, and he's brilliantly funny about it as well...

"Why not have a physical afterlife? Just come back as a tenticle and a set of lips, looking for huge lumps of chocolate to fuck." And so goes the brilliant mind of Irish comedian Dylan Moran.

Comedian probably isn't the right word for what Moran does. Like Bill Hicks, George Carlin, Eddie Izzard, and other giants of the industry, Moran doesn't get on stage and tell jokes. He is an "observationalist" of the best kind. He can make us look at things about ourselves and do it in such a way that we find ourselves ourselves. In his show, "Like, Totally...", he manages to compare Jesus to Batman, points out that Arnold Schwarzenegger only became Governor of California because he lifted heavy things, and remarks on British prejudice while stating very comedically that Germany "is a toilet".

While many of the subjects that he touches on (religion, children, travel) are not exactly uncharted territory, it's his takes on them that makes him so compelling to listen to. The fact that he can also so seemingly effortlessly move from one subject to the next, in some sort of cohesive flow, is riveting. By the time he reaches subject F, you find yourself thinking how in the hell did he get here, when just a few minutes ago he was talking about subject A, which is completely unrelated? But in reflecting on it, you realize that A led to B, which in turn begat C, which logically came to D, followed naturally by E, which brings you to which time he's already on to J, and you have to rewind a bit to see how that happened. But it's all worth it.

In the second half of his show, Moran hits upon the subject that produces the most laughter from the & women. The differences, similarities, petty jealousies, and just overall nonsense that comprise the two are fodder for his wit. Again, while not inventing the wheel with the subject matter (it comprised a large chunk of the second half of his Monster DVD as well), the observations on it are so keen and insightful, and FUNNY, that it doesn't seem like a tired old retread, but a fresh, new, exciting look at it.

Moran's deadpan delivery and almost total lack of movement (except to shuffle over to the small table onstage containing a myraid of liquids that he frequently refreshes himself with) don't make for much of a visual presentation, but you find yourself listening so intently to what he has to say that you don't care. And that's precisely the point. As with anyone worth his salt, it's substance over style.

That concludes the piece for Unseen, and hopefully I'll be back soon with some more writing about travelling the United States, since that seems to be what interests me the most lately. We shall see what happens...

Blog Post Soundtrack; Metallica (live), The Doors (live), Son House, The Smiths, Dylan Moran