Quote of the week:

“They'd have to shoot me to get me back to Illnois."

~Abraham Lincoln upon going to WDC to become president

Friday, October 15, 2010

Breaking the Silence

It has been over a year since I last posted. I dont know if anybody even has me on their lists anymore.

I felt compelled to exile myself for fear of typing something in haste that would not be in my best interest.
A year ago just before the Labor Day weekend, my boss at the new job (who will be referred to as FFS-Fat fucking Asshole) met with me on our stardard weekly meeting time, but he had the HR person there). I was give a "Sophie's Choice": I could resign my position and it would be considered an 'amicable parting', or I would be put on a 30 day probationary period, during which anytime in those 30 days he was unhappy, it would be immediate termination, no severence, nothing. The objectives I was to achieve were very ambiguous, non-measurable such as "be able to demonstrate the digital products 'to my (his) satisfaction'. After giving me the LD weekend to think about, I took option 1, but first I gave him documentation of the items on my write up, one which lead to him-his error. The HR had the audacity to say, if we re-write this and take out these items, will you reconsider and stay? Are you fucking kidding me?!
2010 has not been great. I was forced into filing bankruptcy, saving my co op. Leaving the courthouse, I felt as though my soul has been extracted.

In June, I started a 1 year program to become a Clinical Massage Therapist, with the assistance of student loans and a grant for 'displaced workers'. I have been enjoying the learning, even anatomy, which was tough but thus far have gotten A's & B's. Just started Kinesiology which is kicking my butt.
My previous boss before (FFA)had retired. His replacement called me and want me to work PT to write their upcoming reaccreditation. I committed to 11 months, the duration of my schooling. After one month he decided he didn't like me, fired me and then contested my unemployment claim. The bank is refusing to work with me on the mortgage, and started forclosure, after assuring me that they would not do that while applying for the assistance progam. They are trying to force a 'short sale'. I don't want to do that, and it's not appropriate. I'm am NOT under water. have equity in the property, which I think they are trying force a short sale because they know that they would come out way ahead.
I feel like I've been in a year long nightmare that I can't wake up from. But it's a nightmare, just a real one that there's no waking up from. My faith in humanity has been eviserated.

Monday, June 29, 2009

An American in Paris

It's been a long while since I've posted. I'm not sure any of my throng of 5 readers are still around. If so, I hope you enjoy. If not, I'll have this for my posterity and travelogue. It's about my first trip to Europe.

Thursday June 4, 2009

Thursday evening, boarding the plane, “Priority passengers may board first”. Im in fucking business/first class!! We ain’t in academia any more Toto. All I could think, while drinking my first glass of champagne as the ‘coach’ passengers trudged by me was, “OMG, the Seinfeld episode was SO not parody. It’s so true!” The champagne was flowing, warmed nuts, appetizers. Then the menus were handed out, with choices of real food—not a five day old ham and cheese on stale bagel, but poached salmon, beef tenderloin. And we, moved from the champagne to the wine with dinner. Dessert, then after dinner drinks or coffee. The flight attendants had to wake many of us up to serve us the omlettes for breakfast. Coach class sucks. How can I ever return?

I arrive at hotel around 9:30 AM. , Friday. I’m staying at the Millenium Opera Hotel, in the Opera District. It's a 4 star, at a great rate. Thanks, Priceline! I’m able to check in that early. Cool! I pseudo unpack, brush my teeth, take a hot bath, then up and off to my first Parisian adventure. First stop: Le Centre de Georges Pompidou. I see two great special exhibits—Alexander Calder and Kandinksy.

I decide to have dinner, from a recommendation from one of the books I’d bought. I was given directions from the front desk and can’t find it. After 45 minutes give up and walk down a side street and find a bistro that looks interesting. Terre du Truffes. Everything on the menu had truffles in it of some sort. I ask Raphael, who speaks little English for recommendations.

Ecritez-vous le menu por moi, s'il vous plait? I asked Raphael to write my menu down for me, in my pigeon Franglais. He writes in both French and English. I would have liked to wrap him up and take him home with me. The decadence of the night was vanilla ice cream with a truffled caramel sauce. OMFG! Every bite of that meal (and nearly every meal in France), was an orgasm for my taste buds.

Saturday, June 6

It’s raining outside today. As Barbra sings, “Nobody’s gonna rain on my parade.” I get the umbrella, find get my directions from the front desk, and begin my walking trek to Musee D’Orsay. I pass through the Louvre, and cross the Seine by a footbridge. They have a good collection of Van Gogh's, including "La Nuit etoile"--Starry Night. I'm going to see it in person!!! I finally get to the Van Gogh room, tour it. Move on. Then I realize, I missed "La Nuit etoile". I go back, tour the room two more times. I finally see an empty space and see a little notice. It's on loan/tour. It's at the Met in New York. Fuck me hard! That's just my luck! I wander more and see more artists' works. I spend most of the day there.

After two days of walking. I decide to take the subway back to my hotel. I have to switch not only trains, but from the suburban line to the Paris City line. As I’m uncertain of whether these connect at the same place, I ask a young man. He speaks little English, but between my Pigeon Franglais and his limited English, he walks me to the other platform up a flight or two of stairs/escalators and a few turns, to get me to the right place.

Being a bit beat on my feet, I ask for a dinner recommendation from the front desk. He suggests a place around the corner just a few blocks away. This time, when I ask the waiter, “Ecritez-vous le menu por moi?” He tells me “Here’, keep the full menu.” Most of the remainder of my dinners in France, the waiters let me have one of the full menus. How cool, for a self-avowed foodie!


I have never felt so un-like the boy from Bumblefuck in all my life. I’m in Lyon, France, at a meeting with international heavy hitters. I’m their peer. OMFG. Opening night reception /Dinner was in this hospital built in the 1200s. We specifically were in the nun’s rectory or rectortoire. It’s the huge old fortress of a building by the Rhone River that I had to walk around three times and ask for direction in my [pigeon Franglais , to realize there is no front door. Only the original carriage gate/now car entry to get to the inner courtyard to access the building.

Paris is great, but there is something extraordinarily special about Lyon. More so that Paris, I felt like I had gone back in time. Old Lyon is like a time warp, somewhere between the World Wars. The bistros. The cobblestone streets and alleys. The place oozes old world charm. A Lyonaise man could have easily swept me off my feet.

The conference is very good. I’m making some good international contacts for work. I am asked to serve on a committee, with this organization, which is something I’ve been working on. I’m with some heavy hitters in my profession. This is something that would not have happened with me in academia, even though I was working on the groundwork. The University would not have sent me to this conference this year. I’m feeling good.

Monday night, the attendees at the conference are treated to a private tour of “L’hotel de Ville”, or Village Hall. This was built in the 12th Century. The building is amazing. We have personal guided tours, which ends with a reception of Kir and Hors d’ouvres.

My co-worker K, who is at the meeting and I go to dinner with two guys that she knows from other organizations in the US. One of them spends a good deal of time in France, so he was our translator for the evening. I can speak some French, but have trouble understanding it when spoken back to me. My brain doesn’t think in French. I think my dyslexic mind manifests itself with this. It’s frustrating. I want to be able to ‘hear’ in French without trying to translate to English.

The Conference ends on Tuesday afternoon. C and I decide to meet and wander (and wonder) around Old Lyon, which is where her hotel is. I ended up in New Lyon—not as charming. She wanted to go to this big cathedral on a hill. So we do that, and then just begin moseying and wandering the cobblestone streets starting to scope out a potential place to eat. My only caveat was that we eat someplace where we would be outside on the sidewalk/cobblestone alley, not indoors After a good deal of walking and wandering, we settle on one of the first places we’d spotted. She wanted s a good steak. The meal was great. This time I had to write down the menu as, it was just posted on black boards. K is astounded to realize that I am a foodie who is keeping a food diary. Even more astounded than when I showed up for our walk in my bright purple suede Rebock air pump tennis shoes. "Uh, so, Randy, YOU really DO like purple don't you?!

Wednesday June 10

Back to Paris. I now wish I’d had planned to stay one day on my own in Lyon to explore after the conference. But, I’m back in Paris for one more day. I’m staying in a cheap hotel in the Marais (the Gay District) that was recommended for being cheap in the Marais, in one of the books I bought, The Central Marais. It fit the bill. It was above a bar in one of those really old buildings on a side street, with tall windows and shutters. It was not the 4* Millenium Opera, but it wasn’t picked from Priceline (which got me really great hotels, btw). This was for one night, and it was the one night for which I had not originally made plans. It was while I was in Paris that I made these reservations. I did want one night in the heart of homo Gay Paree. It’s raining again. I was museumed out. It was early afternoon by the time I got back to Paris, so I decided that I just wanted to walk around the Marais, find some of the gay bars for later that night, and just wander the streets, getting lost, and finding my way back. I did some shopping, mostly window . On the way back l stumbled along a little designer boutique of men’s clothes. Actually, these little boutiques were peppered all over the Marais. There were lots of shades of purple. There was also a really hot Italian man trying on a purple leather jacket when I wandered in to get out of the rain for a bit. I walked out with a new shirt and a cardigan sweater with leather elbow patches (both were purples.) Given the rain, and my desire to try and not get too terribly lost this evening, I went down to the bar for pre-dinner glass of wine. I ask one of the bartenders for a dinner recommendation. He directs me around the corner about 3 blocks to Le Gai Moulin. On the menu is “Kangarou Steak”. OK, I’ve got to try it. It’s not every day you get the opportunity to try “Kangarou” with BĂ©arnaise sauce. It was like a tough cut of a good beef steak. It was my least favorite meal in France, which means it was only a 4 star, instead of a 5+ star meal. Still incredibly amazing—just mildly orgasmic for my taste buds. There are two guys at the table next to my right, (and the tables are so close, it’s almost like eating family style. They have to pull the table away from the wall because you can’t squeeze your ass between the table to get to the banquette seat). A few tables to my left, a man in a cowboy hat steps over ands, says, “I heard you guys speaking English, I’m from Vancouver, where are you guys from?” The state, London. And, I offer that I’m American, from Chicago. We have a nice conversation, he goes back to his seat. I tell the Londoners that I’m headed for London the next day. They offer recommendations of what to do, where to go. It was roughly after 8:00 pm when I was eating my dinners in Europe. In most places, it, wasn’t until after 9:00 -9:30 that the dinner crowd started picking up. Even such, I love that, among the things the French know about food, is the fact that they know how to savor and enjoy a meal. There’s no rushing you, trying to ‘turn the table’. If you want to stay till they close, they’re not going to kick you out. You nearly have to tackle the waiter to get your check or “l’addition” when you’re ready to leave. I had this conversation with my American compatriots at the conference, “How is it that the French as a population are not an incredibly obese people, with the bread, cheeses, rich foods, patisseries?” We determined, it’s because they cook REAL food, not loaded with artifice and chemicals and hydrogenated poly saturated dog turds. And they walk. They eat good, rich food, but they eat appropriate proportions. They don’t “supersize” their meals. It’s a lifestyle, I could become accustomed to. Je t’aime France. I’ll post about London and the last half of my European adventure.

I'm going to try and get back into a rhytm with my writing and posting again.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


The new gig is consuming a great deal of time. It’s really cut into my blog time, reading as well as writing. Here’s a new tale from the CVID chronicles.
Three months ago, I went in for the monthly IgG infusion. Instead of the usual 2 bottles, (a 20 gram, and a 10 gram), the tech comes in with six 5 gram bottles, from a different supplier. It was a name I did not recognize. I was not pleased that it was six 5gram bottles. It did not bode well for a quick infusion. And it was not quick. They dripped incredibly slow. I quiz the tech, nurse, and my doc about the change in IgG. I was not pleased. The issue was economic. They’ve gone to a cheaper supplier. I’ve heard stories about people having all kinds of problems when their IgG brand is switched on them. Gammagard has been good to me. I rarely had infusion reactions of great consequence—just feeling wiped out, a little achey, flu-ish the night of through the next morning. Overall, not bad. The new IgG, comes from some company in Austria. The next month, back to a 10 and 20 gram bottles. The drip is back to a regular speed. Last week, the third month of the new IgG goes similarly. The tech gets the IV needle in on one stab. After infusion, I’m at the Walgreen’s connected with the medical practice. Suddenly, I start feeling flushed, and itchy. One of the things I had to get at Walgreens was a vial for tetnus, which I had to take back to get the shot. I take it back. Before getting the tech, I go to the bathroom and check under my shirt and pants, I’m red blotchy all over, and itching like hell. The med tech takes me back, I tell him, I’m having a bad infusion reaction, he needs to get the doc again. It’s not that he doesn’t believe me, but wants more info to tell the doc. I dropped trou, and said, “Look at this!” I was not referring to my genitalia. He’s the one straight med tech in the place. I’m rapidly getting hives. They shoot me up full of Benadryl (2x) and some steroid. I guess I’ll not pass the next test for Olympic tryouts. This was my first Benadryl experience. When I finally get off the exam table, where I’d been laying for about 45 minutes, I’m wobbly and woosey. It was like I’d drunk a six pack and smoke a few bowls. Though, there was no sense of euphoria in this scenario. All indications are that I had a severe allergic reaction to this new IgG. My doc explains that reactions usually don’t happen until the second or third time—like the whole bee sting thing. Having never had reactions to bee stings, this was new to me. I’ve had hives once in my life before, when I was in Kindergarden, at Christmas due to an allergic reaction to the something in the stuffing of a big stuffed animal I’d gotten. This was as bad as that long ago childhood memory. I was also given a script for prednisolone steroid pack. If I got hives and then get weight gain and odd fat deposits, I’m going to be really pissed. Additionally, they weaken the immune system. Kind of counteracts the whole getting the IgG infusions.
This week I got hit with a sinus infection. I wake up Thursday, feeling miserable. I go in to work, glands in the neck are thick and swollen. Nasal passages don’t feel good. I call to get in. He has no openings. I call the nurse, she will squeeze me in his one spare appointment, at 2:00. He confirms the sinus diagnosis. I ask for, and get a B12 shot, a shot of rocefin (antibiotic), and the tetnus they had to put back in the fridge at after the SAE from last week, as well as a ‘script for a Zpack.
I worked from home today, which allowed me to sleep until 7:30, roll out of bed, shower quickly, and get to work. I had a productive day.—more so than had I gone in to the office. Now, it’s well past going to bed time, so I’ll close this tome for now. wtf/rle©

Saturday, March 28, 2009


It has been awhile, not only since I’ve posted, but also since I’ve been keeping with and following some of my favorite bloggers. Aunt Alice’s funeral, leaving the old job, starting the new one have consumed most of my waking hours. On a good note, my health has held up.
The new job is going well. The people are all great. My biggest frustration is my learning curve with all the new systems and procedures. It of course will come in time. Patience is not one of my virtues when it comes to something like this. I want to know how the systems, software, and all things technology work—I want to know it now. Technology has a way of making one (or me) feel incredibly stupid. As I said, the people are great, it’s a good fit. The pace is much faster, which is how and why things get accomplished in the business world and how and they don’t in the slow zone pace of academia. One of the bigger ironies is that the innovative, cutting edge things I dreamed of and tried to do in academia, I will be doing in the corporate world. Why isn’t academia doing the innovative, cutting edge education? I won’t sermonize on that now.
For the present, I may presence will be more sporadic and infrequent as I adjust to my new changes and schedule. I’m working a lot, coming home tired. But to quote Harry Chapin, “It’s a good tired.”

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My Aunt Alice

Sunday March 1, 7:04 pm. I have written previously about my Aunt Alice on here. I won’t link, because I still can’t figure out how to do these fucking hyperlinks easily, and I doubt anyone cares that greatly about what I’ve said in the past. About an hour ago, my phone rings (or barks, as is my designated ring tone). It’s my brother Mike-the one who never calls me unless it’s something bad (which I’ve also written about). He tells me that Aunt Alice has just ‘passed away’. She fucking DIED. Why do we have to use these stupid ass euphemisms?
I’ve been ‘hoping’ for this phone call for almost a year or longer, because she’s had such a rapidly declining quality of life. I’m absolutely stunned and shocked with myself with how incredibly sad and upset I am about this. I really didn’t think I’d cry when this moment happened. But I am.
She was Mom’s oldest sister, the oldest of 14. Mom was #8. She took Mom after grade school and raised her. As such, Aunt Alice (and Uncle Orval) were always really more like Grandparents, more so than my actual grandparents were. My love of, and skill of cooking and baking are legacies from My Aunt Alice & Mom. When I was little, Aunt Alice always made my birthday cake, home-made Angel Food, in the long rectangular tube pan (that you don’t see anymore). Pies, cakes, yeast breads and cinnamon rolls, chicken (or beef) and home-made noodles were staples at every holiday or Sunday dinner. Ham and bean soup and corn bread; fried chicken, chocolate sheet cake, cherry pie, coconut or banana cream pie (the real deal-cooked custard base with meringue top (not this no cook refrigerator shit). Gourmet? No. Great cooking? Yes. Like most great cooks, when you ask for the recipe, she often didn’t have one. “I just make it.” About 10 years ago, in one of my rare moments of intelligence, I asked her how she made her cherry pie (and many other items), and wrote down the recipes. This doesn’t mean she didn’t use or have cookbooks. When she was moving from her condo to an assisted living home, without a kitchen, she let me come and select what I wanted from her cookbook collection. Many of which were the local church compilations that are done as fund raisers—each of them with many of her own recipes.
She also sewed. I still have the house robe she made me for Christmas over 20 years ago. I will never get rid of it. I still wear/use it. I have the original ‘sock monkey’ that she made and we played with at her house. The one she made for me was long gone, but I got the original from her sale when she left her house to go to the condo. I have one of her old quilts. She had reached the point of not being able to hand sew and I lamented to her that I wish I’d asked her to make a quilt for me when she was still able to do so. She made a quilt for each of her ‘true’ grandsons. When moving from her condo, she found one of her older quilts in her cedar chest, and she gave it to me. It has some great older fabrics in it, which I love. It worked out best, as I’d rather have the older more than I would new fabrics. It’s lighter weight, and goes on my bed every summer.
When you hear of people referred to as Pillars of the Community, that was her. In the small farm town where I grew up, she ran a restaurant, and then ran the cafeterias at my grade school, then high school, from where she eventually retired. But people still hired her to make cakes and pies, and breads/rolls.
When I came out, Aunt Alice is one of the people I was afraid of telling. Her response was, “There’s a lot I just don’t understand, but I’ll always love you. I wish I would have known you went through so much pain and hurt.” It was one of the most genuine and real responses that I received from family at that time.
When I was home at Christmas, Aunt Alice had declined greatly. Physically, she was much more frail, and mentally, the Alzheimer’s was really progressing. She still knew who I was, and asked me about my best friend by name. But, she couldn’t find her way back to her room on her own. Reading her Christmas cards, she had to spell out each word before she knew what it was. Then when it got to the names signed, I’d have to read that to her, and she wouldn’t know/recognize the names. It was so sad and painful to watch. A few weeks later, she went to the hospital. She went back to the assisted living home for a few days, but was back in the hospital, and then went to a nursing home. She stopped eating, and an even more rapid decline spiraled much more quickly. When I spoke to my parents earlier this week for Dad’s birthday, Mom said I wouldn’t recognize her. I told Mom, “I just wish she’d go quickly. She has no quality of life. She’s not able to discern happiness. She’s lived a hard damn life. It shouldn’t end like this.” Mom started talking about ‘the good lord’, and I tuned out to keep myself from corrupting that moment with my feelings of what bullshit (and oxymoron) I think ‘the good lord’ is.
It’s going to be a strained week—with her grandsons(my first cousins once removed, who used to be more like brothers to me) and daughter-in-law whom I haven’t seen since my cousin (Aunt Alice’s only natural child) died over 3 years ago and since they’ve sold her condo out from under her and took the money. They left my Mom with all of the responsibilities of being the caregiver, while they fleeced their Grandma of what little she had. Yet another way in which her last years should not have been.
Whether or not there is a heaven, Aunt Alice is much better off right now. My sadness is much greater than I would have imagined it to be at this moment.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Never Say Never

Here’s what I couldn’t publicize earlier this week. On February 6, my birthday, something is happening to make me remember this one in particular. I signed an offer letter for a new job. Actually, I signed it a few days ago, but post-dated it for this day. I wanted to have something to significantly make this birthday memorable in a good way. I told my current boss on (today) Thursday. It was a difficult thing to do. My career trajectory has usually been one of trying to escape a shitty situation. My job search mode has usually been precipitated by vocational misery or termination/downsizing (a human resources euphemism for “you’re fucked” or “we don’t like fags, but you could sue us for that”). I’m not accustomed to leaving a situation that I like.
I really like my (soon to be ex) boss and job. I was not in a job search mode. When I came to my current job about two and half years ago, I thought I was making my final employer move. I even went as far as to say, “I’m going to either die or retire here.” I expected the former, as I don’t think I’ll ever see retirement. But, shit happens, and in this instance, I’m not saying this in a pejorative nor sarcastic manner. Never say never.
A professional colleague, whom I know from our professional associations/organizations was talking with me last fall after a conference we were both in attendance in Baltimore. He’s also in Chicago. He began telling me of a position in his company that was open and he was looking to fill. At the time I said, nothing.
A month went by with me continuously thinking about this. I finally called him. I needed to speak to him on another issue with the board we are both on. And, in this conversation, I asked, “Have you filled the position yet? Let’s talk about it—informally.” I’m the type of person who never (or rarely) shuts a door when it’s been cracked open. I want to at least peak inside. So, we talked informally. I told him I wasn’t “actively looking” to make a move. The informal conversation led to a round of formal interviews with some of the senior management team. Then, to a second round with the rest of senior management team, of which I will be a part. With each round, I was more impressed with the company, the work they’re doing, and the people. This is an organization with a strong core of leaders who lead, listen and communicate. The level and manner of communication is impressive—and certainly not my usual experience in corporate America. Some of the management team, and the EVP were at the same conference I was at in San Francisco last week. When my plane landed at SFO, I turned on my phone, and there was a text message from my colleague that said, “Can you meet with me and EVP tomorrow night in the hotel lobby at 6:45?” Now, I can be very obtuse at times, but I figured, they wouldn’t be double teaming me to say, “we’re going with someone else.”
I was correct. They handed me an offer letter. I took it to my room, the next day we talked, negotiated some details, a new letter was issued, and I signed and dated it for a week later.
The machinations and bureaucracy of academia (and state government on top of that) move slowly. That has been one of my frustrations in the current situation. The new place will allow me to do some of the cutting edge and innovative projects and work that I thought would be more accessible in academia. Red tape is a great prophylactic to progress.
In addition to telling my boss, the other difficult one to tell was employee. I’ve watched him grow in his skills and abilities, and I like to think I played some role in facilitating and mentoring that. I know he did not get that from my predecessor. I also went to tell the chairman of my CME Committee. I wanted to tell him face to face before I made an announcement on our Committee Conference call today. He’s a man not always known for his tact and grace. But he said some very gracious and kind things to me. Everyone did. In the midst of their disappointment about my news for the organization, they were genuinely happy for the opportunity this means for me. This makes it all the more bittersweet.
As always, my major life events necessitate an excerpt from a Stephen Sondheim musical. For this, I choose, “Something’s Coming”, from West Side Story (his first broadway show-for which he was lyracist:
… Come on, something, come on in, don't be shy, Meet a guy, Pull up a chair! The air is humming, And something great is coming! Who knows? It's only just out of reach, Down the block, on a beach, Maybe tonight . . .
Only, no longer out of reach—I just have to work on the ‘meet a guy’ part.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Really, I don't...

...I don’t blog drunk, that is. I actually don’t drink much at all. (I’m on antibiotics so often, that this and of itself serves its tetotalling purpose). But, I occasionally blog tired, which I did last Monday, and after just reading my post –WTF was I thinking. Obviously, I wasn’t. I generally write in word, so at least it does spell check. I did not do that for the previous post. It had so many incomplete thoughts and/or thoughts that picked up in the next paragraph -- or not. Anyway, I’ve done a rough edit and some corrections.
It’s no Hemmingway, but a bit less non sense-ical than it was—I hope.