An Important Note to Self

A few weeks ago, I walked into my local, preferred grocery store and bought a handful of groceries to make salads for lunch.

The next day as I was eating the salad I had made I looked at the bottle of dressing I was using and lo and behold the expiration date on the bottle was a month earlier. Thanks Lucky’s!

I returned the bottle that saturday when I did my grocery shopping for the week and as I was halfway through the store, it occurred to me that I should probably check the dates on my packages to be sure that everything was fresh.  Things were looking good until I got to the package of pre-cooked chicken I had put in the cart and saw that it was dated for Feruary 14, 2009.  It was mid March.

This past Wednesday I went to the same store for a few items and included in that puchase was a package of sliced almonds.  I got home, made the salad they were going to go on and tasted a handful of them only to find that they don’t taste terribly fresh.  I looked at the package and noticed that the expiration date on it was “09 FEB 11”.  ‘Dammit’ I thought, ‘what is up with this store!!!’

I took the almonds back to the store for a refund.  I wasn’t hateful to the clerk but I was clearly annoyed.  I told her, “This is the third time in a month I’ve found something here that was expired. When I went through to do my shopping and I looked at the dates on the almonds, only to find that they all were labled with an expiration date of “09 FEB 11”.

Note to self:  Next time you’re ready to yell at the grocery store clerk, remember that “09 FEB 11” actually means the nuts expire on February 9, 2011 and not February 11, 2009 as originally thought….Douche!

Decisions, Decisions (Who Needs Decisions)

Yesterday was the first of two whole (and I use that term loosely) days this week I get to spend with she, who has previously been known as “Eve”, but is now to be known as “Her Royal Awesomeness”.  We will be spending Friday together at The Tech Museum, in San Jose, however due to another familial obligation Her Royal Awesomeness will have to cut the day short at dinner time.

We had big plans, which, to quote Her Royal Awesomeness, “consisted of lots of eating and indecision”  HRA and I are, the two least decisive individuals known to man, which makes us either the perfect pair who enjoy spending hours on end together, or two people who waste an inordinate amount of time trying to figure the other one out… I prefer the first answer.

It’s been raining – I was going to say, “raining up a storm” but I guess that’s a bit redundant – here in Northern California and my 40+ mile drive from my house in Oakland to Her Royal Awesomeness’s Grandparents house in San Jose, took a little longer than usual due to the worsened conditions.

I arrived in one piece and we headed out for our strategically planned day.  I asked her, “So!  What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know.  What do you want to do?”

See?  Now that’s what I call Strategery!  We have not an original bone between us and we did the same thing we almost always do:  lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, shopping at Target, wandering aimlessly around the mall, and a movie (He’s Just Not that Into You.)  Mostly it’s just about spending time together and getting to talk.  Something that doesn’t happen nearly enough for my taste.

By the time I was driving home, at 10:00 at night, the rain was coming down in buckets.  I drove home, wipers at full blast, eye’s wide open and knuckles white with tension.  Highway 880 isn’t the best lit (or striped) highway in the bay area and with the rain and the dark the drive was pretty tense.  I pulled into my garage and pried my fingers loose from the  steering wheel.

But you know what?  I’d do it all over again without a moments hesitation.  That’s how important this friend is to me.

So what about you?  What torment have you put yourself through for the sake of a friend?  Would you do it again?

Well, Either You’re Closing Your Eyes to a Situation You Do Not Wish to Acknowledge, or You Are Not Aware of the Caliber of Disaster Indicated. Ya Got Trouble, My Friend, Right Here, I Say, Trouble Right Here in River City.

In case you haven’t heard, times are very tough.

unemploymentMillions of people have been laid off from their jobs and the national unemployment rate is 7.6 percent as of January.  In California where I live it’s higher, at 9.3 percent.

The state of California is broke with a $42 billion budget deficit and it’s only getting worse by the day as the state legislature can’t seem to come to an agreement on the budget.

Can we all agree that times are tough?

I’ve known this all along but somehow I guess I didn’t really get it.  I’ve been suffering from “not me” syndrome.  “Yeah, it sucks.  Yeah people are hurting and I wish I could do something, but at least it won’t happen to me.”

Before anybody get’s too worried about me, no, it hasn’t happened to me… not yet, anyway.  For weeks, maybe even months, Douche Bag has been saying that we have to tighten our belts and cut back on spending, but he’s also been saying that we were not going to be facing any lay-offs.  “Senior Leadership” has stated that it won’t benefit The Company that Created the HMO to lay people off because after you pay severance packages you don’t realize any cost savings for at least a year if not longer.

Last week an e-mail went out from the President of Operations addressing the current economic crisis.  The e-mail said that we were facing some lean times.  It said that in an attempt to deal with these lean times they were taking certain measures to ready ourselves for the tough times ahead.  Among those measures was freezing the salaries of the top 500 employees.  This is a good move.  It proves that they are not just out for themselves and that they are trying to take care of their employees.  The e-mail went on to say that while The Company that Created the HMO was still going to give merit increases, they were reducing the overall budget for the increases by 1%.  Normally, my region’s budget is 3% so this year it would be 2%.  Not great news but livable.  In addition they were still going to give out the annual bonuses that we traditionally get in March.

Honestly, I had full expected to get absolutely nothing this year.  Not an idea I enjoy but not surprising, so it didn’t come as a huge surprise when the follow up e-mail came today.  While The Company that Created the HMO as a whole is following those measures, it has been determined that some regions will need to take additional measures, determined by the market they serve.  Northern California is one of those regions.  Not only will the top 500 Executives have their salaries frozen, but not a single one of the Northern California non-union employees receive a raise before fourth quarter when they will re-evaluate our financial status.  (Read, probably not then either.)  We will still receive our bonuses, which comes as a surprise to me but, raises will not be happening.  And then the big shocker, the e-mail stated that it will not be sufficient to maintain our 2008 staffing levels.  We must reduce the number of full time employees.  There’s no other way to read that, there will be lay-offs.  I think, perhaps, it would have been good if they’d included in that information when and how many they are planning, but at least now we know that it’s going to happen.

I’ve given a lot of thought over the last few weeks, as rumors started flying, about how I could see this playing out and there are a number of scenarios that could play out that would leave me vulnerable.  I have the most seniority in the department, besides Douche Bag, and my function is somewhat unique, in that no one else in the department does what I do.  It could be that the seniority will save me, but on the other and it could be that the seniority also makes me too expensive to keep around.  It could be that the uniqueness of my position will save me, but then again I do have a counterpart in another building that does the same thing and there was a time when our jobs were a one man operation for all of Downtown Oakland.  There has already been a proposition that the functions I currently perform should be consolidated to this other person leaving me free to take on other responsibilities.

I see three possible scenarios with that as well:

  1. Captain Oblivious will approve the proposal to consolidate the function to my counterpart and I’ll continue working here fulfilling other responsibilities – and potentially finding a way to like my job again;
  2. Captain Oblivious will deny the proposal with concern that doing this would leave me vulnerable to being laid-off;
  3. Captain Oblivious will approve the proposal and instruct that I be laid-off.

I have a peace about this.  There’s nothing I can do to change how things will play out.  I go to work everyday and do the best job I can do (when I’m not reading or writing blog entries or Tweeting) and wait to see what happens.  In the end there’s not much more I can do besides leave it in God’s hands.  I trust that he will lead me through it.

Yes, times are tough, but things will turn around.  They always do

I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means

I spent most of yesterday at Green M&M’s house doing laundry.  We have a long-standing arrangement, that might some day be explained in another post, where I come over to her house every other Saturday to do my laundry (the machines in my duplex cost $2.00 per load per machine) and it gives us an opportunity to hang out together.  I like it ’cause it’s a more convenient way to do my laundry (really) and it guarantees we will hang out, without having to put much thought into it or spend a lot of money.

Yesterday was our “anniversary” of sorts.  We don’t really have an anniversary, but the first time we saw each other socially, was when I invited her to come over for dinner and to watch a movie, 10 years ago.  I was new to the Bay Area and didn’t have any friends and we’d gotten to know each other at work and become friends.  I invited her over and it didn’t dawn on me until she showed up at my door-step with flowers (Tulips, which happen to be my favorites) that it was in fact Valentine’s Day.

We went to lunch at Applebee’s.  My food wasn’t what I’d hoped for but we had fun anyway.  Then we went to Target for some brief shopping.  We went back to her apartment, I did my laundry, we watched Transformers, and had Surf and Turf for dinner.  I was home by 11:00 much to Scared Kitty’s delight.  (He hadn’t been fed since I left him twelve hours earlier.)

menu_sweet_corn_tamale_cakesToday we went to The Cheesecake Factory.  I’d heard the hosts of my favorite morning radio show talking about it earlier this week and I was craving it after that.  It’s been pouring rain since the middle of last night and I really expected Green M&M to tell me she didn’t want to go, but she showed up at my house at noon as planned.  It’s an eighteen mile drive to the nearest Cheesecake Factory and we got there just in time to wait for thirty  minutes for a table.  A year and a half ago I was introduced to the Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes and was astonished at how completely delicious they were.  Don’t be fooled by what you see in this picture!  Each of these tamale cakes is four inches in diameter and piled high with fixin’s!  They are listed on the appetizer menu, but they are more than sufficient as a meal!  Especially if you want to have Cheesecake later!  Even still, I eat the tamale cakes at the restaurant and bring cheesecake home for later!

Looking forward to the Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes all week, I didn’t even need to look at the menu when we were seated.  I knew what I wanted!

You know how sometimes you build something up in your head as being so tremendously wonderful?   You know how sometimes when you actually get that thing, it can’t compare to the build-up in your mind?  😦  That’s what happened today.  This was the fourth or fifth consecutive visit in which the Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes have been my entree, but this time, they just didn’t measure up.  Such a disappointment!  Cest la vie!  It was probably just a fluke.

Green M&M was born on St. Patrick’s Day and she wanted to go into the mall to look for St. Patrick’s Day t-shirts and buy a birthday gift for her Step-sister who’s birthday just passed.  While we were in one of a department stores I saw this:  p-640-480-38ae9513-9345-4b03-80a1-8734653408a4.jpeg

Notice the tag:  “Floor Ready Date: 2/13”.  Today is the 15th.  Somehow I don’t think this is what they meant!

The drive home was quite exciting.  Torrential rain left visibilities at just a few hundred yards.  Interstate 580 West bound between Pleasanton and Oakland is not a terribly fun stretch to drive in the first place, but with the bad conditions it’s even worse.  Driving 55 miles per hour and white nucklin’ it all the way.  I was starting to relax as we got closer to my exit when suddenly there was a sea of red lights ahead of me.  Fortunately, I was able to get off the highway before I got to the stand-still so I didn’t actually see what happened.  I can only assume a major accident.  Somebody had a bad day.  I’ve been there.  Glad it wasn’t me.

I drove the last six miles home on city streets I did not know, following the instructions of Gidget the gadget (that’s what I call my GPS system.  I figure any woman who gets to boss me around oughta have a name!)  But I made it home, safe and sound, all in one piece with no dings or dents and none the worse for the wear…  Except for the three different pieces of cheesecake in my fridge.  I never can decide on just one when I’m there.

Disappointment and Revenge

disappointmentIn slightly less than two months I will be “celebrating” my seventh anniversary working for The Company that Created the HMO.  Very shortly after starting this job, I discovered a local deli that has the best sandwiches this side of the Big Apple.

Not long after starting this job, Green M&M and I decided to join Weight Watchers.  We’re both overweight and we both wanted to do something about it.  At the time that we joined Weight Watchers they were pushing their points program where you’re allotted a certain number of points depending on your current weight and can “earn” additional points for physical activity.

I had become very fond of this chicken sandwich that my little deli makes with broiled chicken breast and melted cheese.  I always got mine on a Sourdough Roll which must be about ten inches long, with Dijon Mustard, Jack Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Pickles, Onions and Alfalfa Sprouts.  Let me tell you, this sandwich is awesome!  When Green and I were on Weight Watchers I did an estimation of how many points this thing must be and I estimated it at 11 points.  If you’re familiar with this program you know, that’s a lot of points and if you’re not familiar with the program it may not sound like a lot but when you consider I was only allotted about 34 points and I was an “active drinker” then (as opposed to a passive(?) drinker now) I needed to save the points for the all important vodka tonics (diet tonic thank you very much!) and wine that I’d be having in the evening.    Needless to say, the diet failed and I gave up a long time ago which is neither here nor there for the story I’m trying to tell.

This deli is three blocks away from my office building, on the same street and less than a block from our sister building where evil lives, and they are always very busy with a long line (The deli, not the sister building where evil lives.)  The sandwiches are awesome, but sometimes it’s really not worth the trip and the hassle.

Sometime around mid October brown paper went up in the windows of the previously vacant store front diagonally across the street from my building and not long after that, a logo went up in the window indicating that this location was going to be either a new, or an additional location, of the deli with the 11 point sandwich I enjoy so much.

One day in October, I asked the owner, Emil, “When is the new location going to open?”

“Soon,” he replied, “Hopefully next week.”

“Great!  I can’t wait.  Is it a second location or a new location?”

“It’s a second location,” he told me.

A few weeks passed and the new location hadn’t opened yet.  “Emil!  When is the other shop going to open?”  It was the second week of November.  I enjoy my 11 point sandwich but I don’t want to make the trip and be near the axis of evil if I don’t have to.

“End of the month,” he told me matter-of-factly.

“Great!  I can’t wait,” I tell him enthusiastically.

A few more weeks passed.  Thanksgiving came and went.  It was the middle of December.  “Hey, Emil!  Seriously!  When is the new shop gonna open?” I asked, ribbing the good-natured restaurateur.

Emil shakes his head now, “Oh, I don’t know Kevin.  I hope soon.”  He seems a little distraught about the subject, but I opt not to engage.

“OK.  Good.  I can’t wait!”  If I can get my 11 point chicken sandwich and not have to walk the three blocks and be anywhere near the evil fortress, I’m happy.

Mid January I walk into the existing location for the deli.  I want my sandwich and I’m just not going to hassle Emil this time.  Emil, is no where in sight.

This past Friday, The Unsvelt Girl who Runs and I went to lunch.  She had to go to one of the other buildings where The Company that Created the HMO has leased space which we are currently responsible for.  We walked to the building six blocks away and then went to a hoagie place across the street.  While we’re eating, The Unsvelt Girl says, “Oh, the new Aroma’s opened today.  There was a line of people out the door this morning when I went out for coffee.”

“Now you tell me?  Why didn’t we go there?”  As long as I’ve been waiting you’d think I’d be there the first day.

“Because there was a line of people out the door!” She replied, and I must say, there’s a certain logic in that argument.

“Fair enough,” I reply.  “It’s going to be after lunch when we walk back by there.  Can we just stick our head’s in and see what’s new?”

“Sure,” she says.  And so as we walked by the new location on the way back to the office we stuck our heads in the door to see what’s new.  The new restaurant is beautiful, all new modern fixtures, nice marble slab counters.  Nice and modern.  Still no real seating, but that’s fine I guess, it is supposed to be a deli after all.  But I zoned in on the menu board and saw the magic word that at once thrills and terrifies me.  The new Aroma’s, or Aroma’s East, as I call it, because it’s a straight shot, three blocks east, down the street from the original restaurant, has a nice selection of Gelato in addition to a plethora of bakery type confections all of which call to me relentlessly, desiring me to come in and submit to them with reckless abandon.

We left the restaurant and returned to the office quaking in our little space boots in sheer terror of the evil with which we’d just come face to face.

Today, being low on funds, and not wanting to take a lunch break, thus prolonging the length of time I’d have to spend in the office, I ate a bowl of Kraft Easy-Mac for lunch.  Not at all surprising, this did not satisfy me for very long.  I have a bowl of microwave chili, which I wanted to save for another day, in my drawer so I was trying to decide on a solution to the hunger that crept upon me a couple ours later.  I could go to the little convenience store in the lobby and look for something but I’d almost certainly end up with something much more fattening and calorie laden then what I really wanted.  And then it hit me, “Wait!  Aroma’s East is open!  I’ll run over there and get a sandwich.  Just nothing so substantial as my usual 11 point chicken sandwich.

So away I went, off to the awesome new location of my favorite little deli from which I’m sure to order many an 11 point chicken sandwich.  I walked into the deli and looked up at the menu board… But wait, there was no 11 point chicken sandwich.  No matter, right?  I mean, it’s the same restaurant, they must have the same things, right?

Emil greeted me, “Hello, Kevin!  What can I get you?”

“Well… I don’t know?  You guys aren’t making regular sandwiches here?”

“Yeah,” he enthused, “we have panini’s.  We’ve got chicken… roast beef… I’ve got an Aroma panini still.  That’s vegetarian.”

“Yuck,” I reply without thinking.  “Yeah, I see the panini’s but you’re not going to have, you know, regular sandwiches.  Like you have at the other place?”

Emil looks at me with a blank stare for a minute.

“If I want a regular sandwich like I always get, I can’t get it here?” I ask.

“Oh.  No.”

“I have to walk up to the other place?”  I ask.  I’m still in disbelief.

“Yeah,” he answers taking on a slightly impish grin, as if somehow this will get him out of the very deep trouble he’s in with me and which matters not one iota to anyone else.  This is most disappointing.  After all the anticipation, this new location does not do me any good and might do me harm!

“But I wanted a BLT.”  Surely, if I keep pushing it he’ll bend.

“I don’t have that,” is his simple reply.  This is not going the way I wanted.  “Don’t you like chicken?  I have chicken panini’s”

Don’t I like chicken!?!” I think to myself astonished.  “Don’t I like chicken!?! I’ve been getting the same damn 11 point chicken sandwich with nary a variation for seven years! menu_cheesecake_godivachocolate1Don’t I like chicken?  Of course I like chicken.  But today, I don’t want chicken.  I want a damn BLT!”

“I already ate once today.   I mean I already ate lunch once today, I don’t want all that!” I answered…

So I ordered a piece of chocolate cheesecake instead.

I guess I showed him!

Prayers for A Drunk

Today has been a bit of a mixed bag of feelings and somehow I don’t think it’s done yet.

As a part of my efforts to reclaim control of my life I made the conscious decision to go to bed at “a reasonable time” (is 11:30 a reasonable time?) last night so that I could get up at “a reasonable time” (is 7:30 a reasonable time?) this morning.  My routine tardiness at work has not gone unnoticed and has gotten quite a bit worse in recent months as my general motivation to attend has been dismal at best.  Part of the problem, I realized is that I have a hard time getting up early enough in the mornings.  So I thought it wise to attempt to adhere to the recommendations of so many “experts” and try stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends.  Now, I’ll grant you that sleeping from 11:30 to 7:30 is probably not the best sleep schedule to have when you work a theoretically 8-5 job, but since I’ve been getting out of bed between 7:30 and 8:00 for the last few weeks it seems wise to start rolling that schedule back at a gradual pace.

At any rate, I was feeling pretty good about myself and my decision to work on my sleep schedule and when my second alarm, on the other side of the room went off at 7:00 this morning, I only snoozed it three separate times before I forced myself not to get back in bed when I turned it off.  I put on my robe, (it’s much too cold for my not at all uncommon state of undress that often meets my mornings) and went for my morning pee, after which I went into the kitchen to feed a very demanding Scared Kitty.  He still had a bit of food in his bowl from last night but if you ever needed a lesson in how to act as if you’re starving, Scared Kitty would be an excellent coach. grand-marnier After feeding his royal highness, I went on to make myself a pot of coffee and sort out breakfast.  I finally decided on the Gladware bowl of orange segments I had in the refrigerator.  The segments are lefter over after using the peels to start my own batch of homemade Grand Marnier last weekend, for which I found a recipe a few weeks back.  It takes seven weeks and I’m not really all that optimistic about the outcome but I thought it would be fun to give it a shot,  you should pardon the pun.

I brought my carafe of coffee and my bowl of orange pieces into the living room, sat down in my recliner, threw a blanket over my legs and propped my feet up to watch some television.  My DVR tends to build up during the week and I try to clear it back out on the weekends so I don’t get too far behind.  Three episodes of the much maligned and barely watched General Hospital, one episode of Ghost Whisperer, five episodes of The Click List: Best in Short Film, and a misnamed movie all awaited my attention.

Natalia Livingston

Natalia Livingston

Tyler Christopher

Tyler Christopher

I actually just started recording General Hospital again this week after many months of freedom because Green M&M told me there’s some weird event happening at the beginning of each episode that I wanted to investigate and because I read that Natalia Livingston, who played Emily Quartermaine for several years until she was murdered about a year ago in a “very dramatic” story line, has returned to the show but supposedly not as Emily Quartermaine.  Her character has not really been explained yet, but whoever she is, she does seem to have a considerable fascination with Nikolas Cassadine, played by Tyler Christopher, not that I can blame her.

Since I’m on the subject, while looking for a good picture of Tyler to include here, I happened across this rather unexpected gem:

tyler-christopher-nekked-02

Anyway, I don’t watch very much of General Hospital because I’m really not all that interested in most of the characters and I don’t want to get sucked back in, therefore I was able to watch all three episodes pretty quickly.

Jennifeir Love Hewitt

Jennifer Love Hewitt

Then it was on to Ghost Whisperer.  I enjoy this show and I have been a fan of Jennifer Love Big Tits– er, Hewitt since she first showed up on Party of Five.  I’m a bit tired of the current, on-going story line, since they killed Jim off and his spirit is now inhabiting the body of another man who died and crossed over.  But I’m still watching… for now.

The Click List: Best in Short Film doesn’t show episode descriptions in the on-screen guide and I think I may have seen all of the current shorts, but I record it anyway, just in case something new comes across.  I “watch” that on four times fast forward and there was nothing new so I was done with that in five minutes.  And that left me with just the misnamed movie.

The play list in my DVR said the movie was called “The Killer Condom”, but the movie that was actually aired in that time slot turned out to be “Dead Serious.”  If you haven’t seen it, I strongly encourage you not to.  It’s about vampires and it’s lame as all get out, but had a sexy hero so I watched it anyway.  Two hours of my life I’ll never get back.

When the movie was over it was only 11:00 and I decided to go out and get my shopping done early.  I made a list of things I needed and wanted from Target and the grocery.  I also needed cat food and gasoline.  With my list made, I hopped in the shower and then got dressed to head out.  I decided to take a second look at my finances before I left and it’s a good thing I did.  I just got paid yesterday but I have to pay my rent and car insurance and after those things happen I only have about $185.00 for the next two weeks.

So much for my positive feelings about myself and my new leaf of better money management.  Yes, I’m essentially up to date with my bills and my rent and car insurance are important, but I was starting to feel like I had things more under control and I wasn’t gong to be hurting for money and then this realization.  I went back over the list and eliminated everything I didn’t need and pared my trip down to just the grocery store.  I forgot about the gas station and the cat food and now those will have to wait for another day, but I spent $90.00 at the grocery and put $40.00 walking around money in my pocket (I only had $5.00 before that.)

I also sent a text message to Green M&M and canceled our plans to go into San Francisco tomorrow.  Wheeler Dealer Landlady lives in The Haight and I have a couple pieces of mail for her so I thought I’d go in and drop those off along with my February rent check and then we could go and play after.  Now I realize I do not have any money for that and it reminds me that I’m not really so well off after all.  Now I’m going to have to spend the next two weeks trying not to spend any money.  I’ve got $50.00 left in the bank that isn’t already spent on paper, and I have to get food for Scared Kitty and gas for the vehicle with that.  I may have to use a credit card (which I’m trying to pay off) for one or both of those things and I hate that idea, but I guess it’s better than having my account overdrawn again.

As soon as I hit publish on this post, I’m going to put the computer down and watch the Lifetime movie Prayers for Bobby.  I made up my mind to watch this movie after I read an article about it in the most recent issue of The Advocate, however, I suspect, unfortunately, that this movie will be difficult for me to watch as, from what I already know about it, I would expect to be able to relate to it pretty closely.  I too, am the son of a “devout” woman who is convinced that to be gay is to be damned.  It’s an issue that is very difficult for me and it wouldn’t really surprise me to find that the movie is a hard pill to swallow.  I guess it’s time to find out.

Better Left Forgotten

Today is an anniversary of sorts. Not one that I’m proud of by any means, but one that is somehow unavoidable and unforgettable.

Five years ago this morning, I walked into my managers office, very nervous about what was going to come of our conversation.

The previous Saturday, Green M&M and I had gone to a club in San Francisco to meet up with some friends. There was some sort of event that was supposed to be happening there. I can’t remember the name of the club now but it was some sort of arctic theme which was tremendously ironic to me, because it was hotter than hell in there. Green and I had a couple drinks while we surveyed the crowd trying to find the group of people who were supposed to be meeting there. Forty-five minutes later, when we still hadn’t found anyone we knew, we decided to bail and go to another club we knew of that was likely to be less crowded and not so hot.

We spent four hours at the other club, closing the place down and then it was time to go home. When it was time to go, I did something, for which I remain completely ashamed and disgusted with myself and would give anything to undo.

The club was in San Francisco and Green M&M and I lived in Richmond, California, roughly 20 miles drive. The club was also in the South of Market (SoMa)/Mission Districts and while not a terribly frightening place to be, it was not a place I felt great about leaving my car over night, either. Plus a cab ride home would have cost a considerable amount of money.

I believed that I was fine to drive home and opted not to leave my car behind to be vandalized and broken into. At first it was no big deal. I used to subscribe to the old, “I drive better when I’ve been drinking” philosophy. I now know that the only reason why anyone can say that is because they know they’ve drunk more than they should and they’re afraid, and therefore are far more focused and “present” while behind the wheel… Sometimes.

The problem was, that as I was driving on the highway, and across the Bay Bridge I became increasingly drowsy and was having difficulty staying awake. I was on the bridge though and had no way of pulling over or exiting the highway. And then, for just the briefest of moments, I fell asleep. Fortunately, I was driving in the far left lane of the one way bridge and my car drifted to the left until my wheels hit the curb shocking me back to awareness and causing a surge of adrenaline that woke me up. Sadly, it’s likely that, had there not been any intervention, I probably really could have made it the rest of the way home safely on the adrenaline that was coursing through my veins.

Fortunately, there was intervention. The ruckus that was caused when I drifted into the curb was enough to attract the attention of the highway patrolman that I had passed a few minutes earlier and when I looked up again there were flashing lights behind me.

I was asked a number of questions I couldn’t possibly repeat. I did the “usual” tests. I’m not sure that I failed most of the tests. I never have been able to walk in a straight line, even when stone sober. No one can say the alphabet backwards. But I had no problem touching my nose. After going through all that I was given a breathalyzer test (which I kinda thought they shoulda done first). I blew a BAC of .18 (later lowered to .17 by a blood test) and was hauled off to jail.

I spent five and one half hours in a jail cell before being released “on my own recognizance” on the streets of downtown Oakland, without my wallet or cell phone, both of which went home with Green M&M who was not driving and therefore not arrested. I had to call Green from a pay phone and waited inside the front door of a local movie theater for her to pick me up.

The following Monday morning, I told Douche Bag as little as I had to and still feel like I was being honest. I had no idea what the outcome of the situation was going to be. I didn’t know if it was grounds for termination, but I knew it would be worse for me if he found out some other way. I also, didn’t know what was going to happen with me legally. I was terrified I was going to go to jail.

I didn’t lose my job (dammit) and I didn’t go to jail. I’m tempted to say that everything turned out alright but that’s taking things too lightly. This was a trying and difficult time for me and it has definitely not been worth it.

When I appeared for my court date, I was sentenced to “2 days in jail with time served.” The 5 hours I spent in jail after being arrested counted as one day. The second day was commuted to Community Service, which amounted to six hours on a municipal work crew. I had to pay a $1750.00 fine. And my automobile insurance skyrocketed. Before the DUI, I had an impeccable driving record. I had the very best rating possible with my insurance company, “E”, and after the DUI my insurance rating was “7”, the absolute worst rating. Every July, my record is reviewed by the underwriters and every year that I have no additional blemishes on my record that number decreases. Currently, my rating is “3”. Thankfully, my insurance has gotten far less expensive, but the blow to my pocketbook at the time was substantial.

Five years is a long time, and much of the time, it has felt as though the DUI was a lifetime ago. I’ve become accustomed to the insurance rates, and am only grateful when my rates go down each year. I have done my community service. I have paid my fine. Until last year when I applied to be a Big Brother, I had mostly put it out of my mind. Big Brothers and Big Sisters requires that you not have had a DUI within the last five years, and only have had one in your life. That’s when I did the math and realized it had only been four years.

So today, it is with mixed feelings, that I tick off the five year anniversary since my DUI. I’ll be paying for the damage to my record, by way of my increased car insurance premiums for three more years, but as I stated, I’m accustomed to that. Otherwise, I can finally put this thing behind me. There’s nothing left to stand in my way. I’ve learned my lesson. I know better than to take the risk. I’m glad it’s over.

Maybe now this anniversary can be forgotten after all.