Friday, September 22, 2006

I'm Not Judging, I'm Just...

...stupidly repeating. Over and over and over and over and...

Thus is the intro to a discussion my of my newest pet peeve, people who use the most au courant, trendy online cyber language in lieu of original thought.

I've grown to detest--in that stomach-curdling, ball-sac-shriveling, asshole-puckering kind of way--seeing and hearing the phrase "I'm not judgin', I'm just sayin'" when I'm talking to someone, either online or in person. "I'm just sayin'" is the "NOT!" of the new millenium. With a shorter shelf life. And don't let's think you're fooling anyone, Mrs. Dorothy Parker--of course you're "judgin'," or you wouldn't be "sayin'," you'd be "keepin' your piehole shut."

Yeah, we know you're "just sayin'." If you were at all relevant, you'd be "doin'."

On a happier note, the conference at work draws ever nearer, and the preparations seem to be coming to a close. I know I'll be relieved on Sept. 28 when it's all over and I can concentrate on "Caged Dames" music and new original band music.

In other news, check out Curious George's reaction to Pakistan's disclosure of the threats that were made to them after September 11. Apparently, then-Deputy Secretary of State Dick Armitage (another useless dick) threatened to bomb them "back to the Stone Age" if they didn't cooperate.

Hmmmm...SOMEBODY was reading "How to Win Friends and Influence People." Such a flirt! And the charm spreads even now, worldwide.

More tea, vicar?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Biting the Bullet!

Momentous decisions for me of late! Good gracious...

Well, I had a meeting with my insurance agent tonight. I decided to take the plunge and convert my 10-year-term policy to whole life. Papers signed. Deal done. Premiums much larger now! To the tune of $60 extra a month...*sigh*

But my reasons for doing this are three-fold:

1.) "Term life" insurance is a lot like rent: you pay out your premiums and have nothing to show for it unless you kick the bucket. Not worth it!

2.) A whole life policy will actually accrue a cash value over time like a savings account. By age 58 (in 20 years), I'll have accrued $20,000 in cash value, which I can cash out to a certain percentage if I need it. If I die at any time before that, the payout value of $50,000 still applies. This is just enough to pay off my debts, but not to make it worth anyone's while to snuff me. :-)

3.) If I had chosen to continue my term life policy, I'd have had to do a whole new application: forms, submission, doctor's records for the last 10 years, the whole she-bang. And there's the chance I wouldn't get it, or that I wouldn't get the same rate I've had. I checked my lifestyle and current physical status and decided that the risk would DEFINITELY not be in my favor! Plus, with the conversion, I just get the policy--I don't have to reapply or submit anything. It's done.

Doing the math, I figured it works out to $15 more per week. So I'll have 3 fewer drinks a week when I go out. So it helps my temperance, too! See? A win-win situation.

I am, however, covered now at $50,000 less than I was before in case of death, so I need to check with my mortgage lender and see about getting credit life insurance, so if something happens, my mom doesn't get stuck with my mortgage. I also have a term life policy through my job which will pay off my mortgage if anything happens, but if I switch jobs, of course, I'll lose that. So I have to be sure I'm covered...

All in all, though, it's a "growing up" phase that was time to happen.

Interesting side story: one of the guys who works in my agent's office (corner of Bryn Mawr and Broadway), was the recruiter who placed me in my job! He started with the insurance agency early this year. So he and the agent got to commiserate with me over my current work stress. Before, he's always said, "Now, Aaron, it's stable, good paycheck, great benefits, blah, blah, blah." Well, this time I was ready: "Yes, Larry, but I'm less likely to wind up in the hospital with a heart attack if I'm not stressed out all the time." He understood that and told me that I'm at a good age to move on if I want, and also that being stable for the last six years looks really good for me. He gave me a pep talk about marketing myself, and said you don't have to get stuck in administrative work if you do it right, and that a good recruiter can help you find what you want if they know what opportunities to look for.

It was good to hear. For a long while, I've been feeling like a big, fat rube who's destined to be stepped on forever, and just be grateful that I have a roof over my head. Certainly I'm grateful for what I have, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to have mobility and options. If I settled for something I hate, I really would be asking for it.

I discovered, too, during my hellishly chaotic day, that when I'm really busy, I'm HAPPY. I just can't get overwhelmed, because I'm doing operational work for three program areas, and I have to know where to draw lines. (Here's a hint: printing off a certain boss's e-mail attachments and bringing them to her--NOT on the list of things I'm willing to continue doing. That's just over the fucking top.)

And the end of the year is coming, and the conferences will be over...things will be a little less crazy then, hopefully, and I might come to love what I do as much as when I first started doing it six years ago.

Now, how to communicate the new me. A tattoo is out of the question. Piercings--well, I already have one ear done. I refuse to butcher myself further.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

"The Purgatory Pub," or "You're a Fine Girl (But You Could Have Been Better)"

I had a vision of my "crossing over" the other night. I've often wonder what happens to us as we pass from this "plane" to the next. Is it hard to breathe? Does it hurt, or is it more like the ionic chamber in "Star Trek?" Does it feel tingly, like swimming around in soda pop?

According to my vision, it's none of these. Apparently, I'll be going about my business, sitting at my desk, whatever, and suddenly, just like that, I'll be sitting behind a kit of drums, playing for a cover band in The Purgatory Pub, banging out a version of Looking Glass's 1972 hit "Brandy," the song about the bar wench on the waterfront who still pines for a sailor with whom she had a one-night stand.

Why "Brandy?" I don't know. I think it's because it's one of the first songs that I remember hearing when I was little. ("Roundabout" by Yes was the other.) I didn't know what "Brandy" was about when I was four, but, strictly entre nous, nowadays I think she was lucky not to catch some little gift of love that keeps on giving. Or keeps on nursing, if you catch my drift. But such considerations destroy the romantic aspects of songs, don't they? Plus, all those lyrics won't fit the melody. "My wife, my love and my lady is the sea" sounds a lot nicer than "I'm too busy landing in other ports and giving other girls the clap."

Anyway, there I am playing my kit, not sweating this time (because we aren't plagued with the inconveniences of our earthly shells at crossing over time), singing my little heart out ("You're a fine girl, such a fine girl, di-di-di-da, di-di-da-di-di-di"), surrounded by all of my friends and loved ones who've gone on before me. And there have been so many, especially in the last few years!

They're all there to congratulate me on my successes and chide me for my failures. (This IS purgatory, after all.) My aunts Rosemary and Carol are there, both of whom berate me for smoking (they both died of smoking-related illnesses). They do give me some points for cutting way back, though, since I only do it when I go out these days. (And let's get real, I AM dead at this point, so what harm can it do NOW? Anyway, I'm conscious in my vision that it wasn't the smoking that killed me. I don't know what it was, but it wasn't that.)

Next come my friends whom I've lost over the last few years. They reassure me that they are happy to see me, since it means I've finally gotten what I deserved. They also berate me, though, this time for holding everyone at arm's length until I'd forgotten how to let anyone in and be loved. They tell me that I'm lucky to have passed away when I did, since it saved me the pain of growing old alone simply because I refused to let anyone get close. I answer that my stomach and thighs were actually the reason nobody could get close, but they say that sarcasm doesn't work up here, because we've reached the "state of sublime perfection," or some shit like that--I can't remember the exact wording.

Then, finally, I see both sets of grandparents. My father's parents actually lived until 1996 (grandpa) and 2003 (grandma), so I had them until I was grown. They were much more permissive and easygoing, so I enjoyed spending time with them. We continue to chat and laugh in The Purgatory Pub, enjoying our coffee and starchy Swedish bread as they tell me how much they hated that "Brandy" song. "Because your father used to cover that with his band. Jesus Christ--did you have to turn out just like him??!" And with that, they go sit at another table.

Then my maternal grandparents arrive as I sit relaxing after my celestial gig (I don't have to pack up my own drums, because apparently, there are roadies in the afterlife who do this for everyone. They must have been drug dealers on earth to get stuck doing this for eternity). I never met my mother's father (he died in 1964, when Mom was just a teenager, so he never saw me either), but I do remember Grandma Dorothy well. She died when I was 9, but I still remember how much she loved to bake. She baked me a batch of sugar cookies once when I innocently offended her down-the-street neighbor, whom she hated. She was strict, though: you didn't fuck around in Grandma Dorothy's house. And you kept your mouth shut in church, or else! The "else" being the metal-handled flyswatter that hung from a peg by her kitchen door, next to where she kept her dog, Lady, tied up. (When they coined the word "bitch" for female dogs, they had Lady in mind. Fortunately, she's not in The Purgatory Pub, since the pets are all being groomed today at the afterlife grooming parlor, Fido's Final Destination. I hope they're having fun with my cat Sophie--she bites.)

Grandma Dorothy gets right down to business: I didn't do badly, all things considered. I was the first person, after my cousin Mary Ann, to graduate college. I was nice to people, I never knowingly cheated anyone, I was honest in all my transactions. "But Christ, what a rube! Didn't you EEEEEVER know when someone was taking you for a ride?? Did you HAVE to roll over for every sleazeball in town? And your taste in men: what, did you shop at the zoo? It IS all right to just say no sometimes--you do realize that, don't you?

"And those clothes! Let me give you the little tip I gave your mother: no, no, no to horizontal stripes! Your mother was smart enough to take the lesson. Why couldn't you? Oh, and by the way, those faux-satin windbreakers you liked to wear in the 80s? Why didn't you just tattoo "Big Ol' Queen" on your forehead? Jeez! What an ultramaroon! No wonder you could never find the job that would make you happy!" Grandpa doesn't really say anything, apart from an occasional "Now, Dot." She tells him to be quiet while she straightens me out for the Lord.

And with that, she reaches up to the wall next to our booth for her metal-handled flyswatter, and I know I'm in for it.

The moral of the story: I have a lot of "fixing up" to do before I draw my last breath. I always wanted a reason to go on living. I just never expected it to be this.

I guess our gifts do come in strange packages.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Labor Pains

I had such a fun Labor Day weekend--but spent so much of it hung over! Saturday night wasn't too late, because I went to a picnic at one of my bosses' place on Sunday. We all met at his house (in Hinsdale), and they led the way to the Salt Creek Club, where he and his wife are members (they'd put us on the guest list). The weather was perfect. They have a nice pool there, too, and the water was really nice. We hung out chatting until about 6:00, then cleaned everything up and broke shortly after that. When I got home it was still fairly early, and I figured, "this is the last night I can go out this weekend. I'm going to go out!" I went to Touche (my neighborhood bar, since I live so close), figuring I could hang out, loosen up a bit, maybe even get lucky! Well, this time, nobody was drunk enough to hit on me.

Yeah, I was lucky. Lucky I didn't die of alcohol poisoning! I stayed out way too late, got home at 2:00 a.m., and woke up Monday morning feeling like hell! This must be why people quit partying when their 20s are over. Perhaps I should just accept my bachelorhood with grace--I'll buy some nice thick tweeds with patches on the elbows, grow a full beard and begin smoking a pipe. Sensible walking shoes will also be a must. I already have the cat, so that's covered.

Yesterday I went to a shindig at the home of my friends David and Chris. We had fun catching up, and lots of friends came by, including Richard "Madge Weinstein" Bluestein of Yeast Radio, who came with his friend James. Rick the photographer came by with the CD of publicity photos he took for "Caged Dames." The pictures of Ed and Brigitte together are priceless. Ed looks quite a bit like Hyacinth Bucket in his costume as the mean matron. Brigitte and Tina's shots were great, too. Tina looked very menacing--great makeup.

The musical director had asked me to play percussion for some of the performances, according to my availability. From what the director said last night, I think they want drums for most of the performances, so although I have a work conflict during the first three nights, I can do most of the others.

I'll have to get with the band and juggle the schedule a bit. We might be able to play Lilly's in Lincoln Park again in a few weeks, so then if we could get one more gig in before Oct. 18 (when "Dames" opens), that would be great. Then we can pick up again once the show is over. We've learned a bunch of new songs, so we're ready to roll.

So begins a new week. Lots of stuff going on the next couple of months, and I'll be squeezing in sleep and cleaning along the way. Pray for me!