The View From Here

July 11, 1998
  The view from here is different now; it's expansive, colorful, higher, pleasant even. It's all these things because I actually have a view now. I'm writing these words in my new office in our new house in our new neighborhood, and as I write them I'm looking out and down over our backyard and reflecting on the "view" I had at the old place, which was basically through a narrow window situated high up on the wall so all I could really see was the old neighbor's ratty rooftop and a TV antenna. This view is downright civilized in comparison. In short, I ain't complainin'.

Oh, and yes, it has been awhile, hasn't it, since my last entry? What can I say? What with the move and all the changes around here, I've been busy. Not all that busy, true, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I mean, c'mon, if you regular readers have learned nothing else about me, you've surely learned by now that being acolytes at this altar of my life is a haphazard business at best. I'm dependably undependable. And that's why you love me, isn't it? Isn't it?

But as long as I'm writing now, let's take this opportunity to play the catch-up game, shall we? I'll give you a rundown of what's been going on and I'll keep writing until my fingers give out or until I get bored with it. This is bound to get long (or...maybe not -- remember that I'm dependably undependable), so get comfy. Here we go...

I was born a poor black child...

No, wait. That's been done, hasn't it? Steve Martin in "The Jerk," a classic film that I quote from regularly and often. When the new phone books arrive, for example. Picture me running around the house yelling, "The new phone books are here, the new phone books are here!" Yes, sir, there's never a dull moment around here.

Anyway, back to the story (until the next digression). Let's pick up at the move, shall we? We moved into our new house on or about June 11. Unpacking began that evening and continues even as we speak. So far, a month into our residence here, we've managed to completely unpack just one room, the guest bathroom, and that only because all we needed in there was a bar of soap and a clean hand-towel. Oh, and we've unpacked the living room too, but that was easy because this house is more than twice as big as our last one and we don't have enough furniture to fill it. The living room is done because it's empty. All the original living room furniture is now in the family room, and that's not done because we're planning to put a pool table in there and we have yet to buy one. The rest of the house is a jumble of half-put away items, temporarily put away items, un-put away items, and items walking a fine line between being keepsakes or trash. But at least we've gotten nearly all the boxes unpacked. Better to have everything strewn about randomly rather than neatly stored in a box until it's ready for permanent placement, yes? Indeed.

There's been a change on the pet front as well. While helping unpack the kitchen, our housekeeper somehow conned us into taking a puppy off her hands. We already had one dog and two cats, but Beth said "Sure, bring it by and we'll have a look," and once the mutt was here, it was home. That's the thing about us -- once an animal is here, it doesn't leave. We're the Bermuda Triangle of the pet world. So now we've got this "puppy." Puppy is in quotes because the word doesn't do justice to the animal. Suki, the canine in question, is a 6-month old Akita, which means that at this point she's already a bit bigger than Billy, our pit bull/pointer mix, and she's due to double in size in the next six months. This "puppy" is expected to get up to 90 pounds, which in my mind takes her out of the dog category and puts her in miniature horse territory. So now she's a permanent member of the family, chasing the cats around and out of their minds, body-slamming Bill when she's not biting his tail, peeing in the living room (good thing there's no furniture; makes for easy clean-up), and chewing everything in sight to pieces. They say that while your average puppy might chew a chair leg, the Akita puppy will chew -- and destroy -- the entire chair. My experience so far tells me they're right.

There haven't been any changes on the family front, much to our chagrin. We've been trying to get pregnant (that was the couple "we," for you language purists) without success, so we're starting to wonder why. Beth and I both agree that the more extreme measures like fertility drugs and any conception method that could lead to "Janitor in a Drum" jokes are not for us, but we're going to have medical science take a peek into why we're failing now after being successful once before. Peekee #1 is yours truly, chosen not to point fingers, but because having me checked out is so easy it's something I could do just about every day -- and did, back in my younger, drier years. So I went down to the doctor's office yesterday, expecting (and, truth be told, somewhat anticipating) being instructed to spank ye olde monkey into a specimen cup. Not the most exciting of receptacles, true, but then you never saw some of the women I woke up with in my drinking days. It'd be an improvement, believe me. But much to my chagrin, the doctor merely looked me up and down, handed me a slip of paper (You want me to do it on this? I thought), and told me to make an appointment at the lab. It was a bitter echo of the afore-mentioned drier years, once again having a sure thing turn out badly. I nearly reflexively hugged him and agreed that, sure, we can still be friends.

And finally, things are in flux on the job front. For the last six months I've been, as you already know, working as a tech support agent for AT&T Worldnet, an internet service provider. When I started the job, I was operating under the delusion that I was "making the internet a happier place to be." I was solving people's connection problems, educating them on how to use their email clients and web browsers, making them healthy and happy internet denizens. Now, hundreds of calls later, my attitude has changed. I realize now that I'm making the internet a stupider place to be. I'm taking nitwits who have no business operating a fountain pen, let alone a powerful computer (and too often, a not-powerful computer -- yes, there are still 386's and Windows 3.1 users out there), and unleashing them onto an unsuspecting populace. I am involved in the dumbing down of the internet. All I can do is apologize...and get out. Which is what I'm doing now. I just accepted a job as a computer trainer at a downtown hospital, where I will start next month. This hospital is getting PCs for the first time (welcome to the 90's, kids), and I'm going to be teaching the users A) what a computer is, and B) how to use it. It'll be part time work -- probably 3, maybe 4 days per week, but I'll be making more than I'm making now working 40 hellish hours dealing with questions like "Which key is Anykey?" (Yes, they really do ask that.) It'll be face-to-face training in small classes, and I won't have to deal with congested Kentuckians snorking in my ear as they gnaw on honey'n'horehound drops and puzzle over right click vs left click.

Anyway, that's all the news that's fit to print for now. We have guests congregating on the patio below me for a barbeque we're hosting, and I'm about ready to join them in enjoying my large and lush backyard. Check back soon -- or maybe late -- for the next entry, wherein I may gossip about a gay celebrity couple in our dog-training class. Hint: it involves an on-air personality for E! whose name has the call letters for LA's premier rock n' roll radio station circa 1975, and a certain now-retired diving star who came away from the Olympics with a bit of a headache...and a bit of a health status revelation.

Ooooh! Cryptic gay gossip. I feel like Liz Smith...only less masculine.

Copyright © 1998
Chuck Atkins