A long update over the past three days

Wednesday I got the call in the morning that I had a job lined up through a temp service. I was to report at 4 pm and the shift lasts till 1a.m. and I might get a week and a half out of it. The possibility of getting hired on was also mentioned as a possibility. I was covering for a guy who had some time off (why he was off, I don’t know). The place is a cabinet maker and is a behind Fred Myers in West Eugene. With an hour to go I donned a backpack and headed off. It was a 40 minute walk. I showed up early and was quickly shown the ropes.

The place is a large building with different areas being different levels of the production process. The front houses the showroom of cabinets. I was on the trimming machine. About 25 feet long and four feet wide. It has a conveyer belt running down the middle. You take a piece of material, either MDF or particle board or something, and you put one end into the slot and the conveyer belt grabs it and a fake wood strip is glued onto the end and cut and it is spit out at the other end where a person (me) inspects it (quickly, another one is right behind it) and places it in a stack. The pieces range from small (drawer fronts, perhaps 10 inches by 8 inches) to large (8 feet by 1 foot, or 3 feet by 4 feet) and all manner of dimensions and sizes. You’ve got to run your hand over the tape to see if the glue is sticking, inspect for riding of the tape, and place it in the stack. You’ve got about 3 seconds to do it.

My first night I did fairly well, for someone not knowing what was going on. Steady work for two hours until a short break, then another two before lunch, and so on until time to go home. The next day I showed up early again, my stride was faster than I predicted and I made good time in my walk, and I was put to work at the drawer assembly line. I was told to go see “Angel” and tell her you’re there to help. Okay. I went to the area and there was this GORGEOUS woman drilling holes and putting in screws. I was flabbergasted and when she looked at me with those big brown eyes, I only said “I’m here to do what you want”. She put me to work right next to her, using an air screwdriver to drive in screws into the holes she just drilled. She was VERY fast with the gun (she changed the nail magazine faster than a marine changing a magazine clip during quick fire exercises). I was slow. I was finding it difficult to get the screws into the holes and then aligning the screwdriver with the screw. To my right the guys nailing the sides onto the fronts were using a nailgun as fast as an automatic machine gun. My fifteen minutes were up (the night crew arrived and I was to work on the strip machine again) and I told her bye. She was all work and no talk but when I left she did give me a bit of a longer look. Later when she walked by (having gotten off of work) and I was standing in my spot catching the panels (doing this much better having had a night’s worth of practice) she again gave me a longer look than the casual glance. I absorbed it all, never turning away until she walked completely by me. Yes… she was an angel indeed. Big brown eyes, an easy smile, and brown hair (with blond highlights?) pulled back into a pony tail.

Last night was my third night on the shift and I didn’t see her in the shop. I worked with a different guy and he was much faster than the guy I worked with earlier. We kicked ass and did a lot of materials. The breaks came together faster as we were always busy. The walks home, though long, are enjoyble. I get a good stride down and can be at home in 35 minutes, while also taking the time every now and then to stop and enjoy a sight. I don’t mind walking fast, trying to make good time, or driving efficiently and taking few stops, but if I see a sunset or a tree that looks appealing, I make it a priority to stop and enjoy it.

Now, back up a bit.

Wednesday I faxed some info to Portland. I got the fax back Thursday and I faxed it back Friday. The info is a request for service records for the Marines. I am going back into the reserves. I made it clear that I am not so much concerned about billets (job duty in the marines) as I am being attached to the Eugene unit. There are a millions reasons for this and that going through my mind. I’ve gone over all of these time and again since I got out of the Marines in 94. The possibility of war has some bearing, of course, but it is not the major one. I do not enter or leave the Marines because I wish to stay away from or go to war. If there is a war, whatever the reasons, troops will be called. It would surprise a lot of peaceniks to learn how many people fight in a war who are against it. But then again, many people have an overly simple notion of the human animal. In simplest terms, I am still a Marine in heart and though my overiding ambition is to complete college and conduct research, I still yearn for the Marines. Every week I am asked by someone if I am still or prior military. I ask what gives it away and the most common answer is my demeanor and bearing. The unit here in Eugene is a bridge unit. Not only do they build them, but they can blow them up too. Cool. I was told that I’d probably keep my rank (Sarge) and that the unit could use some more of them (sarges). Cool beans.

Yesterday I went to the recruiting station and talked with the staff sgt there. Then I went over to the valley river center for a cup of coffee. I walked around, looking at all the christmas decorations and falling in love with the incredibly gorgeous sales rep in a sporting goods store. I sat down at a table near Cafe Aroma and went over goals in my Franklin Covey planner.

One goal was “Education: I Will Be in College the Fall Semester of 2002”. Well, that one has fallen through… but I looked tasks.

  • set up debit from checking to savings account, budgeted to cover tuition amount (not done)
  • find out balance due to University of Houston and pay this off (DONE)
  • talk with UO admissions counselor (not done)
  • get transcripts from UH (DONE)
  • get transcripts from UAM (DONE)
  • attend orientation (DONE… but must do again now)
  • place $250 deposit because I’m a transfer student, and get accepted for UO (not done)
  • pick classes and buy books (not done)

Not bad… the only thing missing to make all of this happen is money. That’s all. HA! I also sat down and made up a list of tasks needed for a second goal, getting a mustang.

Goal: Buy a 64 1/2, 65, or 66 Mustang
Reason: I want some transportation other than a bike or a bus for leaving the city and taking a girl out on a date. I also want something “mine” that I can love, and to spend time re-building it with my dad, therefore also building upon our relationship.
Get a job
Pay off debts accumulated from not having a job
Save a minimum of 10% of every paycheck and tip, plus all excess over budget
Have dad set up a joint account at the bank in his town
Transfer funds to the account
Have dad pick out a couple candidates
Fly to Arkansas and visit each of them with Dad and choose one of them
Take it his shop and rebuild it
Drive it home to Oregon

Again, the only missing thing in all of this was money. HA! Having thought about this I pondered it in my head. Without the aid of a calculator I guesstimated all of the amounts. Fortunately, I had a copy of my september budget. I wrote in the margins…

I do not understand how I shall make a $10/hour job actually do something. I assume that after taxes a 40 hour work week would result in a $323 paycheck (rough guess). I have a budget of about $1,100 expenditures per month, NOT including credit card/loan payments or savings. A $10/hour job would net me $1,300 a month, for less than I need to pay off debts, buy a car, and pay for my way in school. Suppose a 7 hour shift at min wage and modest tips of $50/day, for 4 shifts a week. This assumes $1280 net per month. I must get into a good bar, a bar where I can make an average of $100 a night. This would give me between $1300 and $2000 a month net. To have a surplus of $900 per month would indeed help pay for school and buy a car. I could make this work. GET IN A GOOD BAR! Bars to keep the pressure on… Willies on 7th, Downtown Lounge, Joggers, Wild Duck, John Henry’s.

I was reading some more of “Think” yesterday while on the bus, and also a bit on the walk to work. The section I was reading was on the “self” (and what that might be, including questions of soul and such). I must reverse my earlier damning review of Simon Blackburn’s writing. The part that I had read first was on thinking, consciousness, and either it was that particular chapter, or the stress that I was undergoing at the time with Divas, but I did not enjoy it then. But I do so now and have read from this little book several times since, enjoying all of the time. Simon’s approach and delivery of the philosophical questions is superb. I shant go over all of the arguments, it would make for a very very lengthy entry. But I shall touch upon one point alone. How is it possible for us to notice the “self” within ourself? We can’t. We are self conscious to some extent, true, but we cannot definitely say “this is the self” in regard to ourselves. The agent we search for is the very tool we are using to search for it. It is like wearing your glasses and searching for your glasses, or as another writer once said, it like trying to bite the skin of your teeth with your teeth. What came to my mind, while sitting on the bus, was that of a magnifying glass The magnifying glass was a happy one, living its life in carefree joy. It notices that images travel through its lens and are somewhat changed (increased in size) or that light travels through its lens and becomes pinpointed (burning an ant?), but what the images are, or where the light goes it does not know. All that it knows is that it is being used for something because it cannot get outside of itself to see what is being done. The magnifying glass has no notion as to what its lens is like, but it knows that stuff passes through it. Now, this analogy is deeply flawed and if I were to deliberate upon it for a while I might change it. Yet the part about analogies is that they can be used as tools for explaining things, but do not mistake using them for correlates to the truth. Example, supposing that males are the ones that choose the mate, act dominant and go around pounding on chest and such. This example is supported by some in the animal kingdom, but hardly is it the norm. Luckily for us males society doesn’t take the example of the praying mantis. No, the sticking point for the magnifying glass thought was not so much getting caught on the discerning of self, but on the experiencing of self, and for the magnifying glass this is done when light (either refracted off of an image or from sunlight) passes through the lens. As I sat on the bus and it entered the block which comprises the bus station, I looked out at all the people busily pursuing their days underneath the cloudy, grey Eugene skies. No souls, no redemption from past sins, no heaven, no afterlife, no immortality… just this moment of experiencing life and then death. Oh what a waste.

An interesting question posed at parties is “what would you do if the world was going to end tomorrow?” This usually has responses of wild parties, orgies, riding speeding cars, and other wild times. How many people actaully say that they’d read a book, play a video game, take a nap? Now, suppose we change this question a little… what would you do if the world was going to end tomorrow, but you secretly knew that we’d all be recreated once again as if it were the next day? In other words, injecting a bit of longevity into the repercussions of our actions. The wild orgy we had the night before the end would be wild gossip at the office to be sure. Would that change your actions? What I am trying to articulate, but failing to do so, is what if we could inject the sense of passing into our society, but keep the sense of having to live with the consequences. I believe that one of the biggest harms that religion has done is to give people an overly false sense of hope. The sense that this world doesn’t matter, the next world is where its at. It might have been a useful tool psychologically when living as a peasant and starving, but the sense that this world is a throwaway world has damaged our habitation of it to a large extent. I wonder, what would a society look like if some humans were taken and put onto another planet like earth, with no notion of god or religion, but on their own frail grasp onto existence. Would they enjoy their chocolate more?

This sounds like it is attacking religion, and it is. Religion has its benefits to be sure, but I think they are outweighed by the damage the it incurs upon a society. I am to congratulate a person who gives to a soup kitchen because that person believes that a god is watching him all the time and keeping score and if he donates enough to a soup kitchen and goes through the motions that he’ll go to an afterlife? Pardon me while I laugh. It is like telling your kid, don’t take from the cookie jar, and you set up a camera on the cookie jar and then you congratulate him for not going into it. Big deal there. Sure it is nice that a rich person donate money to a charity, but to do so and get a statue made or something of the sort of the donor is not donating to help people, it is fulfilling one’s ego. There was a person who donated to a college, in California I think, a rather large sum of money, but left the “From” spot blank. Nobody knows where the large sum of money came from. This person was concerned more with giving than in recognition of ego. But it is perfectly okay for this perso to tell his/her children or close friends, in a particular context. I do not mean to do so for admiration, but as an example. Set an example for you kids and friends. You’ll help more people than you realize if you plough ahead.

I’ve looked at projected incomes for upcoming rent. The picture is dark, but not bleak. It appears that I’ll be short, again, but perhaps if I can quickly get on another assignment, or get picked up at the cabinet production line I can make the late rent payment. It’ll be poor pay, but it’ll keep me going until I can get into one of the bars I’ve got on my list. Yesterday I had some time to spare before my shift started and I went into the Goodwill nextdoor. I saw a great leather jacket, a sleek urban cut, for $6. The sleeves were a bit shorter than I’d like though, but I don’t know it was the cut or the fact that I was wearing a t-shirt, a long shirt, and a sweatshirt (wear layers baby!). If I am able to get rent taken care of I’ll go back and check it out again with only one shirt on this time. But while I was inside I did buy a hard hat for $2. Great deal. At home I put a the Marine Corps eagle, globe, and anchor on it. Now I can add this to the list of boxes at the temp agencies and possibly help in the job placing. At the cabinet I’ve worked like I’ve normally worked, and I”ve quickly picked up aspects of the job. I’ve been told by some that I work with that I work better than the guy I am covering and one guy made the comment “can we keep him?” (referring to me) Cross my fingers. Too bad Thanksgiving comes up this week, I could really really really really use the extra day of work.

In reviewing over things the past couple days, yes things are tight, yes things are uncertain, but I am happy. What I’ll tell my dad when I talk to him is that contrary to him, I do not feel that by not having a wage earning job and a family and a running pickup truck as to being the goal for happiness. Yes, I have college, a job (research) and a car as things I want to have… but I am not unhappy because I do not have them. I am quite a happy person now. I do not think that life is a race, but a journey.

Three dreams over the last three days, all before waking up. The first was really nifty. I was in a red convertable 2002 mustang and driving down the highway. I missed my interchange to another highway and was now going the wrong direction. I took an off ramp and ended up in a field area. It had grown dark and there was an older car, something like a 57 chevy or something (can’t remember). The driver of this car was the woman on Sex in the City who’s name I cannot remember, but who I will always remember her for her role in the movie “Mannequin”. She is way way way gorgeous. In my dream she was wearing a Hooter’s uniform, with very short shorts and a very defined body. Somehow we changed cars. I was standing on the hood of the old car and she was driving my car, with the driver door open, squating in the doorway, one hand on the steering wheel, the other hand holding an uzi, driving around in circles and hanging out of the car (where did the door go now… it is gone) and giving an excellent pose and view of her gorgeous body, shooting up a car that was chasing her and yelling for me to get in the car. I ran to the car, noting the cut in the t-shirt neckline, and then the alarm went off.


The dream yesterday was a bit different. It was the brunette bartender at the Downtown Lounge… I think… because the face wasn’t really clear in the dream. We went out on a couple dates (though I don’t remember the dates in the dream) and things seemed to really click because in the dream we were sitting down and having ‘the talk’ and decided that hey, who says that there must be a certain time for dating… we were sure and so we decided to get married. The marrage was set to go in Eastern Tennessee (she said that her family lived on the east coast, and mine in the south) and our honeymoon was going to be camping out in the mountains. As such, we dressed in top quality hiking shorts, shirts, and boots for the wedding. We walked back down the aisle with trail mix tossed at us instead of rice. Out in the mountains in our remote camp we had the gratuitious sex scene, and it was good. No alarm for that one… but boy was it odd to have. Where in the heck did this one come from?

The third dream, today, was that Oregon State beat Oregon in the football game. However, the score in the dream was 14 – 12. I wasn’t even close… Oregon State routed Oregon competely in the second half. As usual, it was the third quarter that the Ducks let get away from them. Oh well. The weird thing is, and I’m sure that some people would become angry at this, is that I enjoyed the game and rooted for both teams a little. Yeah, I want the ducks to win, but I want both Oregon teams to win too. I like the orange/red color of the Beavers also. It is an earthy color, and I like earthy colors the best. Heck, I like Oregon and want Oregon to do well, whichever part of Oregon it might be.

Nanowrimo. Oh boy, have I got a LONG WAY to go. It doesn’t look like I’ll get to 50,000 by Dec 1st. I’ve got more pressing concerns (such as finding a job) than writing, and when you walk for 40 minutes at a brisk pace to get to work, work steadily for over 8 hours moving things around on a production line, and then walk back for 40 minutes (again, at a brisk pace because you want to get home), sitting down in front of the computer doesn’t seem appealing.

I got the book “Everything is Illuminated” from my book club. GRRR. I had been cancelling books for the last three months… one slipped by. Oh well. I’ve read the first chapter and it appears amusing… but I wonder as to its merit later on.


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