It’s a Hard-Knock Life For Us

About a month ago I wrote about the Holiday season and how things will start to slow down, quiet down and become more serene around my office.  I wrote that, among other things there would be a decrease in the number of cars in the parking garage in the mornings and in the number of phone calls we’d receive with complaints, etc., as more and more people started taking time off for travel or shopping or whatever.

I have been consistently surprised in the mornings to find that so far this has not happened, but today, as I came down the ramp to the level where I usually park I saw a number of open spaces and I thought to myself, “See this is what I was talking about.”  And then it occurred to me, “Wait–  It’s Friday.  It’s December 19th.  This should have been going on for weeks already.”

And that’s when it hit me.  This is my tangible proof of the recession in progress.  In years past, people have taken more time off at this time of year.  I presume they’ve gone shopping, they’ve gone out of town to visit family, or they’ve taken time off to spend with family visiting them from out of town.

It’s not that taking the time off work costs any money and can’t be afforded, we all have Paid Time Off, but what they were doing with that time does cost money.  I imagine they’re shopping less, spending less money on Christmas gifts.  Spending less (or no money) on travel and therefore have no reason to take the time off.  Only now, that Christmas is upon us, and it’s the Friday before the mid-week holidays people are beginning to take the time.

I’m afraid I have no enlightening commentary or words of wisdom to share.  It’s really just an observation.  The only thing I can figure is that this is my proof that the recession is happening…  Not that I needed much proof to begin with.

This Gift (The Perfect Holiday Gift this Season)

I was over at my favorite blog yesterday when I found this.

The idea is that, whether we care to admit it or not, as bloggers, we LOVE getting comments.  So “in the spirit of the season” (‘scuse me while I barf a little) we should all show the love, and comment, copiously on the blogs we like to read.

I’m going to do it and I hope you will too.  Spread the word…  And the love!

Two Is Better Than One

My latest foray into sobriety was pretty short lived.  Not that it was very whole-hearted.  Or even particularly necessary really.  But I had decided to take a little break from the drinkin’ for a bit.  Certainly only for a little bit anyway, as the holidays are coming up and between celebrating and trying to forget there was bound to be some inbibation taking place.

Anyway, I was down to my last couple bottles of wine in the rack and I just decided to not buy more when that was gone and take a little break from things.  The final bottle was finished off on Saturday and that was to be the end of that for a while.  I thought maybe, I’d only drink a single drink when I was out for dinner, or at a friends (Read: Green M&M‘s since I don’t have any other friends that I socialize with.)  Otherwise I’d just not drink.  For some reason, voicing this decision to another living soul is a little too intimidating for my taste.  So when it was decided that Green M&M was going to come over for our weekly/bi-weekly Dancing With The Stars viewing party I mentioned to her that I didn’t have any wine.  She was going to bring a bottle from home but it wasn’t going to be cold because this conversation took place after she’d already left for work.  Upon further discussion however, it was suggested that she should bring dinner with her from our favorite Tacqueria, Tacqueria Cancun in Berkeley, CA.  They make really excellent Mexican food and sell it out of a restaurant in a really terrible location.

See, I hate Berkeley to begin with.  It’s crouded and poorly laid out.  Getting anywhere in Berkeley, in my opinion, is far more difficult than is worth whatever you may be going there for.  Because of this, I do not go to Berkeley any more than I absolutely have to (which is actually ever Tuesday night since that’s where Insightful Therapist‘s office is.  Fortunately she’s just on the edge of town and getting there and back isn’t too much of a nightmare.)  Green on the other hand grew up in Berkeley, and thinks nothing of the chaos that surounds the burg.

Since Green would be going through Berkeley to get dinner, she’d be that much later getting to my house, which was understood and perfectly ok with me, but then she suggested, “While I’m doing that, you could go to the store and buy a cold bottle of wine.”  I don’t think she really appreciated the humor in that statement.  “…buy A bottle of wine”?  Just one?  Really?  Funny, funny girl!  Why buy one, when you can buy eight?  The wine in question is comparable in price and quality to Two Buck Chuck so it wasn’t a tremendous expenditure.

I went to the local grocery, (real name Lucky, but I insist upon continuing to call it Albertson’s, because Albertson’s has always been the superior brand and I do not like that they reverted all Northern California stores back to the Lucky brand) to purchase the aforementioned vino and then headed home, with just about an hour to chill the wine and clean house enough to make things presentable for the delicate sensibilities of the fairer sex.  When I arrived home I immediately put one bottle in the freezer, and two bottles in the fridge, ostensibly so that it would be cold the next time I wanted wine.

The bottle in the freezer was split down the middle with dinner and we each had our share.  A while back I took to adding diet lemon-lime soda to my wine – a spritzer if, you will.  It was entended to cut the wine and have it go farther but instead it has just made it easier to drink faster.  Anyway, I opened the second bottle after I finished eating my burrito (Carne Asada, if you must know.)  By the time I turned off the TV to go to bed a little before midnight, I had finished off the second bottle.

This doesn’t actually, really concern me all that much.  I mean, it’s not like I “tried” not to drink it and couldn’t help myself.  I just didn’t give it much thought.  And I wasn’t drunk when I finished it.  It takes a lot more than a bottle and a half of wine to get me drunk.  And I didn’t have a hang over when I got up this morning.  Yes, I over slept, and yes I was late for work but that’s because I was up until after mindnight, and because I slept so badly over the week-end.  (I oversleep and am late for work on an almost daily basis, so today is nothing special.)

Maybe I’ll take another break from “the bottle” after these remaining six are gone.  Or maybe I’ll just throw in the towel until January and then give it another shot after the torture of the holidays has blown over…

Holy Daze

OK.  Don’t anybody panic but we seem to have a problem.  The sun seems to be broken.  It’s out of cycle, or in rebellion or something.  It doesn’t seem to realize that it’s mid-November and that we should be cold.  The temperature today, here in Northern California was in the mid 80s!  This is not right.  It’s Autumn for crying out loud!  I have very mixed feelings about this time of year.  Always have had.

When I was a young boy living in Ohio, it was at this time of year that the temperature began to fall.  The nights were longer, the weather colder and we would pull out our sweaters and heavier coats while the children waited and prayed for the snow to fall and the promise of a snow day from school.  As a teenager in Oklahoma, it was around this time of year that the morning ground was sparkly and crunchy with frost and your breath would form clouds of vapor before your eyes. The sun would shine clear and by mid-day it’s back to carrying your coat because it is too warm to wear it, but by late afternoon as the sun is setting it becomes winter once again.  Coats, scarves and sweaters are all must have items even if you don’t want to be wearing them at the moment.  And the children will wait and pray for the snow to fall and the hope of a snow day that will probably never come.

Here in the Bay Area, at this time of year, it’s no surprise if the temperature reaches or exceeds 60 degrees after the sun comes up.  But even with the warmer temperatures, there’s a chill in the air.  It’s called, “the holidays” (and dammit, make sure you call them that, for we may offend someone if we use the Almighty’s name).

In a lot of ways the season started in October.  There’s something truly amusing and simultaneously disturbing about walking through you’re local “Discount Store” and seeing an entire section of Halloween costumes and decorations, only to turn a corner and find rows upon endless rows of Christmas paraphernalia.  But in my mind the frenzy starts this Tuesday.

Tuesday night, I’ll arrive at my humble abode, in the dark and the “cold” all alone.  I’ll slide my truck into my narrow garage and gather my belongings to take inside, and I’ll walk up to the mail box.  Inside, I will find all the sale ads for the coming week, for the local grocery and drug stores. The sale ads will be chock full of holiday specific offerings like turkeys on steroids, cranberries of all varieties (fresh, canned, jellied or juice), green beans and fried onions, sweet potatoes and marshmallows, pumpkin pie and Cool Whip, wine and booze out the ass and cornucopias of all varieties.  And it will be all down hill from there.  This week-end when I go to do my regular bachelor shopping, I’ll fight crowds with their carts flowing over with pastry crusts and assorted greenery of the vegetable kind.  There will be Christmas music assaulting my senses from overhead, and though I’ll be listening to my iPhone whilst I shop, It’ll be virtually impossible to block it out entirely.

The following week is the short week.  For me, that week represents pure bliss!  It’s the week Eve spends in California and even though she’ll be here for days before I get to see her, I revel in the idea that she’s near.  I do love her in a very real way!  This time of year is filled with the conflicting emotions of loneliness, having no family around and no one to share my holidays with; joy, knowing I won’t be enmeshed in any turmoil of family drama which can not be avoided on such occasions; and excitement, getting to spend this time with the love of my life…  Even if she insists on bringing the love of her life with her.  I’m a happier person with her in my life and I only wish she was a constant part of my world.

Soon, “holiday” lights will be strung around the border of Lake Merritt near my office and lit up for the duration of the season.  The lighted Christmas Tree will be put up, appearing to hover above the lake as it occupies that space which normally functions as a fountain.

They finally finished construction on The Cathedral of Christ the Light this Summer.  It’s the ugliest Catholic “Cathedral” you’ll ever see and I have to use the quotes because it doesn’t even resemble a cathedral.  There’s no stained glass anywhere, no steeple or bell tower, and only at the very end as a final touch did they put a cross at the entrance.  Barely an accent, it doesn’t measure up to the original cross designed to tower above the diocese offices to be seen for miles around.  This cross would almost go unnoticed as you walk past to enter the hall.  No, this building resembles a sinking ship, or half a foot ball, or a really odd looking punch bowl turned upside down, perhaps a rotary club fez cap, but not a church.  I can only assume that it will be decorated for the holiday’s as well, adding to the general “festiveness” of the Downtown Oakland District.

As the season progresses, things will quiet down in my office.  More and more, I’ll arrive mornings at the parking garage and find more open spaces to park.  People with families (and money) taking days off to get a head start on their shopping.  Taking weeks off to spend with family as they visit from out of state, or going out of state to visit with family.  The calls for services or to complain will slow until they cease entirely.  There will be office parties and other gatherings where people will pretend to be friends and care about the plans and goings on of others, all the while wishing the pedantic ramblings of the office jabber mouth would come to an end.

In general, things will be in full swing after this week.  Wherever I look there will be decorations and lights and carols and smiling and offerings of good tidings and great cheer, or some horse shit like that. People rushing about with nary a care for their fellow man.  Only the mad dash for the finish line that is December 25th. There will be pressure to find just the right gift for everyone you know and two for your mom.  There will be deadlines to get the job done while still trying to make all the parties and pick the perfect bottles of wine to bring to the hosts.  And there will be no stopping it until late January when the final post holiday sale has ended, and the last straggling black and dying Christmas Tree has been put out to the curb.  And to be honest, that can’t happen soon enough.

Yes the holiday season is upon us.  There’s no stopping it now.  So sit down, shut up, grab something and hold on tight!  It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.   I’ve entertained the idea of putting an end to my drinking career this week-end, but now I’m feeling, as they say in the movies, “I’ve picked a bad (month) to quit drinking!