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Andy M.
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The client had me transfixed for a 5 hour, 14 minute conference call today. As mentally blasted as I was going into the fourth hour, it was probably the least frustrating aspect over the past few days. Between more bullshit parking ticket and medical billing screwups, the fact that I could shut the world out for a few hours to concentrate on a single task (even one as scalp-rending as this project) was somewhat comforting.

The medical billing screwup is a classic. It means that, despite ever-increasing premiums, I haven't been able to visit a doctor without a billing fuck-up resulting in having a bill sent to me months later (for charges I was 100% covered for) since roughly 2004. And this one was super-good cuz the visits were over a year ago, so it's not like I have those records on file anymore. I am definately a fan of the Canadian system. One card, show it at the desk, sign here, you're fucking covered and we'll deal with it from here.

With the fam. visiting me in BK, I had access to their hotel's swank gym. As such, I'm back on the fitness bandwagon (picking up with my public gym after they left). I really wish the schools around here weren't such prisons, because the school across the street from me has a rubberized track that I can't access because the fences don't open. I feel FAC-ing horrible for the kids tho', imagine not being able to get out of school AT ALL from 9-3. Ugh. This is not the place to raise a kid.

Brrr-ing my fac-ing ass off today. It's not winter until my toes go numb within the first hour of field work.

I have come to discover that many great things in this city are free. I mean besides love and peace. Today, the NFT (Not For Tourists) guide had an open bar and free guide giveaway. I got a $6 drink and $17 book for free! Combine with 'pay what you want' museums and plenty of other events (a Brooklyn College open house a few weeks back was entertaining and got me drunk for free!), there is much to get if you look.

The best, tho', was probably last Monday, when I hauled gear for the wedding band, who were playing an NYPD Xmas party @ the Grand Hyatt on 42nd St. I got free drinks, 5-star food and dessert, and $80 in my pocket for only a couple of hours of work. Whee! 

Still, I wants my bailout!

Current Music: Metallica - Cyanide

Today, I woke at 5:30 in order to complete a tree survey before going into the office. I was able to walk to the survey site (living in BK may suck in many ways, but the commute's a breeze vs. my various bosses' 90+min commutes). In the air still chilled by a November eve, my damp hair making me sensitive to the bitter wind. I took out my notebook and recorded the measurements largely derived from known lengths of my body parts (shoe length = 13" heel-to-heel pace = 3'). I took some 'baseline' pictures and recorded the last observation and shut the book as a flock of pigeons past by.

I walked to the subway, and enjoyed a seat on the subway during rush hour. Getting to the office at 8, I took out the same notebook as I entered the boss' office to learn of the daily emergency associated with the Navy project. I opened the notebook in his office to find an unexpected yellow-brown substance on the facing pages.
"Huh," I commented to my boss, "Must be some pitch from the tree."
I scratched at the substance, and found it crumbled easily, and had many hard , dark flecks.
"Well," my boss commented, smiling a grin rarely evident in the office, "You hope it's pitch."
His tone was absentminded, but it immediately dawned on me that it wasn't pitch. It wasn't plant-based at all. Oh, it was organic! And it was a thick organic fluid excreted onto my page. It, indeed, was bird shit. Perfectly timed and placed by the passing doves of Brooklyn, into the closing pages of my notebook, to lie in wait until I would open it at a most inopportune time, and have to stand there for 15 minutes, discussing the various aspects of the project, all the while silently screaming that I needed to get to some soap and clean my shitty fingers.

The rest of the day was fine, thank you!

My ma, bro, and sis-in-law are visiting next week. Gonna do the town (tix to August: Osage County) n' have my first family 'US Thanksgiving'. It's also full-swing opera season, with 3 in the next month (Madama Butterfly this Weds, then Queen of Spades and Don Giovani in early Dec). Then a full 2-week Xmas break which will involve skiing, and may involve a road trip to Vegas.

I had a good end-of-year review at work (before the birdshit incident). The only negatives being the occasional typo and a need to shave more often.

Need a drummer again, if anybody in NY/NJ knows of a decently compentent and sane drummer.

Current Music: AC/DC - Black Ice album

My car CD player recently jammed. My 'Best of The Who' may be stuck in limbo forever! My DVD player also has mysteriously not been working for a while. But these pale in comparison to my PS3 suddenly refusing to boot up. Gawddammit, there's no way that's going to be an easy fix.

I got denied access to my co-worker's BDay party tonite cuz I didn't fit the dress code. I had  been moving my friend Forde (in Hoboken), and wasn't able to get home to change, so I showed up to the party location in short-shorts (khaki cargos) and a slightly dingy T-shirt. It seems my coworker's a classy dame who has parties at Greenwich Village joints with 'no shorts' dress codes. I wanted to cause I scene with the snooty doormen, but upon being told 'there's a dress code', I paused for the beat, and said 'Well, fuck it then' and went on my way. I am somewhat proud of the sitch, as I had been fearing that I had been progressively selling out more, and now I feel somewhat vindicated that I 'don't fit in with your namby-pamby pretty boy image cuz I've been accomplishing too much, so I leave you to your cover charges and absurd drink prices'.
But I'm pained now in that I figured I'd just go home and watch movies/play PS3, and now it seems that I can't! ARgh!

Good news: I got my car back, it was a mere $46 spot weld on a bracket. Beauty.

Bad news: in the next 72 hours, I got a ticket and was in an accident.

The ticket pissed me off enough, because I got into a poor situation in which it was much safer to disregard the 'left only' paint and go through the intersection. The cops got me, and it appears that it's $90. I had tried to get over, but it was dark and left lane turns into a row of travelling cars after dark sucks in a pickup.

Anyways, that's now water under the bridge after I got hit this afternoon. I had just parked a block down from my place, and was gathering my stuff, when a car comes lurching forward, stops, then lurches right into the side of my car. The car backs up, I assume he's pulling over for ye olde insurance-trade. Instead, he looks at me and speeds off. I am flabbergasted, and seem to have nothing but a bunch of slack-jawed yokels peering in my windows as he does this. I was able to get his licence number, which is good cuz no one else did. I asked the car who was double-parked in front of me if I could have his phone number as a witness. He immediately threatened me with violence, saying 'I ain't no snitch', further threatening me if I wrote down his licence plate number. Wonderful. Obviously a friend of the perp. It took a seven-year-old kid to have the maturity to give me his plate number.
Anyways, I filed a report with the cops and the insurance, gave them both the licence number. Hopefully the kid (or more likely, his parents), will be getting a few phone calls this evening. Which is good, cuz now my car door doesn't open, and I am feeling particularly vindictive toward this young fella and his likely accomplice.

Regardless, I'm feeling a little sour towards Brooklyn right now. Mayhaps its time to move to a more civilized clime with a longer commute.

That VP nom's speech was kind of fun. Some of it interesting, much of it dumb. I got nearly nauseous when she assured the crowd that Alaska's North Bank should be drilled mercilessly for oil, followed by a crowd chant of 'Drill It!'. I have never seen such a complex ecological and economical issue summed up in such a moronic way. That's the kind of attitude that causes 'shock and awe' type bombings where they weren't needed, even if there had been a shred of evidence beforehand.

That said, fuck all parisan morans. I'm turning off my TV for the next two months. I'm unable to  vote, and faith in politicians is akin to... to... I can't think of a metaphor, but it's a really dumb thing to do. I'll check in once in a while to watch the human race continue it's downwards spiral.

Yesterday was a good day. Mostly due to dropping into the bank to deposit a check, and being whisked away to the back room to be told of all sorts of wonderful bank programs I now qualified for. It made me feel rich. Jah, I'm still living in poverty conditions, but my bank account looks okay...kind of...should be better if I ever want to do something extravagant like get my own place.

Today, I received the job that I dream of. I got an address to do a tree survey at, and it was right across the street from San Loco in W'burg. So I logged some 'overtime' to do a minimal amount of work while dragging my coworkers along to San Loco and Duff's. Lovely! And now I have to sober up because I have to move my truck due to alternate-side parking. BULLSHIT!

Current Music: Motorhead-On Your Feet or On Your Knees

I am proved wrong. I had someone start a conversation with me in NYC public that wasn't asking for money or personal info. Actually, i still get to be right, its just that we no longer have an absolute trend. Some nice lady couldn't figure out the subwauy turnstiles, and asked me about it. Yay!

My truck may be in its last days. There's a knocking-scrape come from the rear wheels, at the same time that the oil leak flared back up. Combined, I'm naive to think it the bill to fix them will be less than the value of the truck. But, I spent a ton of money to fix the rear suspension and a previous oil leak just over a year ago. Beh. If it's done, I won't get a new one until January (I need it much less for work 'til then). I will be able to live the winter not worrying about parking problems, which is just fine by me.

To Maryland tomorrow...minimalistic conditions in which to drink heavily. Hoorah!

Current Music: Moist - Machine Punch Through

I'm on the tail end of one of the most grueling shifts since 1999. In getting a report out the door, I have slept about 6 hours over the past 2 days, and have spent around 35 of the past 48 hours in the office. Upon this 1100+ page monstrosity, I am considered a minor contributor, and I will not be given many accolades.

I'm tired, I'm beat, and I still ain't got a raise, nor do I get to charge overtime on any of that.

Bitch bitch bitch...whine whine whine.

You know the homeless people that I really feel sorry for? The ones that insist on giving a 2-minute speil about why they need your money.  I guess they think they're investing in a sure thing. But I end up feeling bad for being nice (as in, I let them go on, and I don't stop them immediately to tell them not to bother). The average homeless guy gets to the point immediately, and doesn't spend more than 5 seconds in asking. But these guys want to let it go on and on. I always feel bad (well, not always, sometimes the beggars are dressed better than I am), but I feel worse for letting them waste their time. Maybe if I actually did give money, I wouldn't feel so bad. But between the frequecy of the requests and what I usually sense is a high level of bullshit, it makes more sense to donate to a cause that would help them. But I'd rather donate to an environmental cause...damn. 
Also, it does get on my nerves. I try to be compassionate, but in the past year, 98% of the people who strike up conversations with me on the street are people who want money [the other 2% are people trying to get me to register for their political party - who are even more annoying...let me vote the fucking way I want to - except I can't vote in the US, so haha, no blood on my hands]. Regardless, I admit to becoming very New Yorker in that I treat bums with a little less manners than I should, just because it happens so often.

Anyways...sleep on it. Sweet sleep.

So, tonight I sang one song with the wedding/party band that I haul gear for. This is dangerous to my 'artistic integrity', as I'm an original musician, and this is essentially a cover band [a very good one, with a previous history of original tunes that they dropped when their gravy train ran out], which should be rightfully frowned upon.

The absolutely fucked up thing about it was that I looked at the crowd whilst singing, and there were a good 300-400 people, many of whom were dancing, singing along ('Satisfaction' by the Stones), and just generally giving a shit-load of appreciation during and after the song. Now, I, of course, loved it, but this is in stark contrast to 90% of the original shows I've played that I put way more effort into. 
If it wasn't the largest crowd I've ever sung to, it's in the top 3, and one of the most energetic, save a couple of mosh-pitted shows. After many of my original shows, I'm downright depressed, because I worked my ass off to play to only a few people, and all I get for my invested time, sweat, and skill is a pissed off club owner who will never deal with us again. This situation seemed to be 'show up, the crowd will be here shortly'.

So, I have to keep my hold on my soul, and not sell out. 
...but jeez, it is fun to play in those conditions (once I turned off the anti-tool device in my brain), and I know that the cover band usually rakes in $5K per show (Pale Horse's average payday is about $50), and they have don't have to haul their  gear, cuz they can afford their own roadie [me, who makes more hauling their gear than he does managing, promoting, hauling, and singing for his own band].

Bah, enough whining. I'm going to sleep...work awaits on the other side, but it should be bearable now that the heatwave is subsiding.

Christ, where did the last six months go?

Anyways, we are coming up to the 1-year anniversary of my professional career, a time when I promised myslef that I would assess my life situation to see if moving on (likely back to the PacNW) would be the best path to take.

Now, how happy I am with my life seems to vary wildly. On any given evening (including many Fridays), I'll be content as a clam, enjoying luxuries and great company; then I realize that it's 11pm, and I have to be up in 7 hours to go out in whatever hostile environs to do a job that is, at the best of times, mundane, and at the worst, downright maddening. But the ends are what I want to do...it's just that the means can suck.

I'll look at my bank account, and realize that there's a comfortable amount there; until I talk to many of those around me, and everybody seems to be scoring big raises to pay scales I can't fathom. But wait, don't I have a graduate degree, a professional position, and put in a ton of extra hours in a complex and in-demand field? I am living free of serious financial worry, so I shouldn't complain...should I?

I look at the living conditions. NYC is exciting, with many, many unique and awesome things to see and do! But it is also very crowded with assholes, and the modal personality is much more asshole-ish. For what I'm paying for my very humble apartment (shared with 2 roomates in a meh corner of town), I could probably have my own place in a much more hospitable environment nearly anywhere else in the world. Not to mention my love of open spaces...there's very little in Brooklyn, and they're all over the place in Vancouver.

I look to friends, I have great friends on both sides [tho', admittedly, the longer friends are stronger friends]. PacNW has my family, of which I remind myself daily that I am ignore far too much.

And then there's the ladies...the sweet, sexy ladies...ohhhhhh yeah.

Anyways...there's that, and many other things to think about...think, think, think.


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