Friday, February 29, 2008

California Home Time Checklist

So let's see...
See the ocean (check...Huntington Beach and Newport Beach - I know, they're basically the same beach...)
See friends (check...though I did miss some people...)
See family (check...not everyone was in town)
Eat at hole-in-wall mexican food place (check)
Breathe desert air (check...though I didn't get to see Joshua Tree this time - next time...)
See Fullerton....arrrgh. Not this time. Soooo close. I passed it on the freeway a couple times but I was trying to get somewhere. I shoulda' stopped and just got some coffee or something. Just long enough to stroll down Harbor Blvd between Chapman and Commonwealth...or at least Wilshire and Commonwealth. The old Fox theatre was even showing Casablanca tonight. Rats.
See Los Angeles? (sigh) just not enough time. Oh well. Next time. One day for Fullerton and the beaches I missed, and one day for LA. Or maybe breakfast in Fullerton, a day cruising up Pacific Coast Highway from Laguna Beach to Huntington, then catch a show in LA with some friends and eat at some place like Bright Spot or something. Ah, man. I think I just laid out the perfect day. Well, almost. I didn't manage to squeeze in a library or a bookstore or record store. Hmm. Oh well.
 
Anyhow, it was a good visit. I got to see my brother and my friends in Palm Springs. It was fun. I started by going to Newport Beach with my friends Jeremy and Heather McCool. That was fun. I also got to see Jeremy's parents on the way there. I've known that family since I was 19 or 20. They are very dear to me. Next morning I drove to hunting ton Beach. My brother Ben and his lady Kareen took me to a Mexican food place across the street from their apartment (which is a block from the ocean) and I spent some more time hanging out at the pad looking at pictures and chatting. Kareen alos baked me some amazing chewy chocolate chip cookies to take with me. They were still chewy the next day. No idea how she does it. She said she didn't know either. Later that night in Palm Springs, Nicole and her roommate took me out to dinner and drinks at this place I'd always wanted to in Palm Springs. We shared a pizza with thin slices of pear and gorgonzola cheese, a stuffed artichoke, mussels in this incredible sauce, a gormet pot-pie, a really good cesar salad, and escargot. AmA-ZING! Good food. Severeal beers. good times. Then we hung out at their house and played Wii while I had a very well made gin & tonic. Cassidy made me an amazing mix CD which included a 2 page track list with a paragraph for each song explaining why it was on the mix. I loved it. It is currently the mix CD to beat for those of you that are making mix CDs for me...and are competitive about making mix CDs...anyways, I was also gifted with several cannisters of tea and a cute card of granny climbing out of her doileyed and laced ridden semi-truck. Cute. Me after another 50 years of truck driving...and a sex change...I woke up the next morning with a bit of a headache (must've been the Wii). Spent the rest of the time at my Mom's. Recharge time. Got to see my dog Bounder too. Still a dog. Still smells. Still constantly getting in trouble. Oh well. He's really my mom's dog anyway. Aaaaand that brings me here. Back in the truck, now with the addition of a cozy rug (more like wall-to-wall carpet in this space) and my DVD collection (which I forgot last time). Ready to roll. Better call it a night, I gotta roll out tomorrow. Goodnight!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Coming Home

Day 116
No matter how much I love the northwest, going back to California will always feel like coming home. The feeling of going home after being away for so long is one the sweetest sensations. Home. I forget how much I love a place until I find out I get to go back. I want to see the ocean. Huntington, Balboa, Laguna....I want to see Joshua Tree, and breath the desert air, I want to see Fullerton, my home town, the city I was born in, I want to see Los Angeles, eat at some hole in the wall greasey mexican food place downtown. I miss my friends, and my family and I want to see them too. Two days to do all of this. Technically I get four, but my arrival day counts as one, another day will be needed for maintenance, repairs, restocking, and cleaning up my truck, leaving only two real days of off time. Two days after being out for 21 days. *sigh*
I have to admit that I still love my job. It's rough alot of the time, but mostly because I am still learning. It is an adventure every day. Sometimes good, sometimes, not-so-good, but always an adventure.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Perspective

Day 111
In my frustration, I tend to forget about all the beautiful things I see every day. I guess I pay for the bliss of spending all day driving across the country in short spurts of intense frustration. The majority of the time I spend on the road is wonderful. I have time to reflect, time to take in the scenery, all kinds of good music to listen to, time to come up with ideas for songs, or characters and plot twists for my writings, I even get to see family I otherwise might have never visited, at least not with any frequency, and every day is an adventure...I really do enjoy my work. I am a little ashamed that I spend more space on my blogs talking about the bad parts than I do the good parts. I will try to balance things better in the future. In the mean time, for samples of the good parts, see my pictures!

Carrie Fisher - "Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

You know what I'd like to do with this iron bar here?

Day 108
So here's roughly what happened. First of all, I got lost in this city in Massachusetts. It's not that I messed up my directions, or didn't follow them properly, it's that a. the map did not indicate that I would be driving through the heart of downtown of an old New England city, b. these cities were not built with cars (much less big trucks) in mind, c. the intersection were such that it was unclear whether I was going straight or turning, d. the streets were not clearly marked, e. the besides the main drag virually all other streets were restricted (either because they were too narrow or had low clearance bridges), f, there was nowhere to stop to get my bearings that would not be obstructing traffic. Until I saw that parking lot. Sure it was covered in snow and a little tight but I'd gotten out of tighter spots before and I really needed to stop. This would be my third time stopping to get my bearings since getting off the freeway but at least I wouldn't be blocking traffic and I was getting frustrated and needed to chill out for a minute. Well, skip ahead a few minutes to where (after some difficulty) I manage to get into the parking lot...and get stuck in the snow. Not just snow, snow on top of water on top of ice. My feet are now soaked, it's getting dark, I am only four miles from my destination, and I don't like the look of the nieghborhood. My efforts to get "unstuck" have been in vein so I make the call to roadcall to get me out. "Hmmmm..." says roadcall, "it's going to be very expensive to get a tow in that area...did you try putting chains on?" Not being sure whether putting chains on in a downtown area was something I ought to do, I had not. Big sigh. "I don't think I can get them on, but I'kk give it a shot...:" the snow is wedged high up around the tires and frozen. I wrestle with the chains for a few minutes and give up. I really don't like the look of this neighborhood, and would prefer to spend less time out of my truck and more time inside waiting for a tow. I express my concerns to roadcall. "Well, it's going to be $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ to get a tow out there...try moving the snow out of the way..." At this point I am WAY beyond frustrated. Move the snow out of the way?! Why don't you @#&$! move the @#$%&! snow out of the #&$%@! way!!! (I did not actually say this to roadcall. I did scream it aloud in the privacy of my truck where no one was there to hear me though...) I had tried to move the snow but may have been increasing distracted by the people loitering in my vicinity in this not-very-well-lit part of town in a city which I had never been in before. I fumed for a few minutes in my truck. They really weren't going to help me. Panick set in. I sent a frantic message to my fleet manager (now the night manager - my regular FM had gone home for the day) explaining that I felt unsafe getting out of my truck here and roadcall was not helping. I was not happy with the reply. "Try to get the chains on..." I was losing it quickly now. I had fantasys of creative uses I could have for the iron reach bar as I got it out of my truck and tried the chains again. There was the idea of quiting. Walking out. Yeah. Brilliant. Walk away from your job...in the middle of friggin Massachusetts in some city you can't even remember the name of...it's only 3,000 miles home, what am I gonna do, walk? Take a bus? I try to collect myself enough to give a genuine effort to getting the chains on. They were not going to help me with this one. I am on my own. If they bail on me in this situation, what other situations might they leave me out to dry in? Getting the chains on seems impossible. The ice around the tires won't move even when I try digging it out with my hands. Finally, using some chain extenders I manage to barely get them on one side. They'll be loose as soon as I move (if I can move) but it's the best i can do under the circumstances. The truck moves...and there are alot of banging/chain rattling noises that accompany the movement, but before I can do anything about it, several things have happened. First, the several red lights I have never seen before light up on my dashboard accompanied by an ear piercing BEEEEEEEP!! Second, I can no longer hear any noises from the chains, third, I am stuck again somehow only this time I have managed to pull the front of my truck into traffic. Hmmmm. Let's see what my friends in the office have to say. By some miracle they have now become very helpful and are sending a truck. I express that I am not feeling very talkative and end the phone call after giving the necessary information. if I can avoid pissing anyone off, the situation (and my job) may be salvagable. Currently the only thing endangering my job is my intense desire to leave it. I realize that this may pass after a hot shower and a good nights sleep. I'd settle for just sleep. Tow truck arrives, I get unstuck, no one can locate the chains I used, I make the delivery, and go to bed. Next morning I wake up still a little aggravated about the previous night, but with a much clearer head and no desire to leave my job. My regular manager calls and of coarse wants to hear the story. As it turns out this episode, by some standard procedure of the company, makes me eligable for more training. "We're pulling you off the road, probably just for a day - for some more training. Either in Tacoma, WA or Tenessee..." Tenessee it is, apparently, unless I am delivered by some miracle. Nothing against Tenessee...just....I feel more understood in Washington. And more training. On what? Chaining? Navigation? Anger management? The later would probably be the most useful of the three. Well, we'll see what happens. I am trying to keep a good attitude about it, but it's hard when something this discouraging happens. Oh yeah, home time? Feb. 25th in Fontana, CA? Uh....probably not. We'll see what happens. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Michael Crichton - "I am certain there is too much certainy in the world."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Pointed East But My Heart's Facing West

Day 104
Things are going well. Leaving Portland was a little harder than I expected, (my first real dose of lonliness on the road) but I am doing much better now, especially once I got back into the rythm of things and remembered to call a few friends every day. That helps alot. I just have to remember to not always bug the same person. Time management is still hard. Is it better to use my full 11 hour day and drive all night, or is it better to stop at 5 hours so I can start early the next day and drive my 11 hours in the day time? I am trying to keep regular driving hours this trip but road conditions and closures plus being sick and needing more sleep have really messed up my schedule. We'll see what happens tomorrow. I had wanted to send something to all my friends on Valentines Day but it looks like that may not be possible now since I am still playing catch-up with some of my bills/debts. Sorry guys. I'll still try to call as many people as I can. By the way, I am sort of VERY available to talk almost any time so feel free to call me. If you don't have my number, email me and I'll get it to ya. Anyways. Time for bed and dreaming of the Northwest.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Not Here

Day 100

It's risky getting personal in blogs. It feels like not closing your curtains at night. But here goes.
I felt the biggest downside to being a truck driver tonight. Not being there for the poeple I care about. I thought that it would mean that I just wouldn't have a social life, that maybe I wouldn't make new friends. Not true. I have made new friends. But what kind of friend am I if I am never around? Can I really have a relationship with someone when I am never there? What about more serious relationships? How many nights of sleeping alone can someone take? It breaks my heart to think that I can't be counted on because I am never around. I want to be there for the people I care about. I hope I don't have to do this for very long.