I hope you all had a fine Monday-Thursday and a Good Friday. Mine was okay, I spent the evening driving back to Iowa for Easter. I paid $3.65 for gas outside of Davenport! So much nicer than the $4.25 I pay in Chicago now. After I fill up, I wander in to get some Road Chow and decide to pick up some Chex Mix. I felt a little nostalgic remembering eating Mom’s homemade out of a turquoise over white glass Pyrex type bowl during the holidays. So I’m all set to dial the memories-way-back-machine to the mid seventies and munch on some garlicy goodness that is supposed to be Chex Mix. Not gonna happen. Now, I realize that no store bought product could ever compare to Mom’s homemade and I’m willing to accept that, but this snack was *made* by the folks who bring us Chex cereal and who (ostensibly) brought us the recipe for frickin’ Chex Mix in the first place back in 1952.
Mom used to use Mr. Salty pretzel sticks in her mix that would pierce the roof of your mouth if you bit into them wrong. This package of… snack food I’d picked up from the Davenport Flying J had no such pretzels. I appreciate the round and window pane shapes that their pretzels came in because of the afore mentioned Scream-4-reenactment-in-your-mouth provided by the stick style pretzels, but the round and window pane shaped things had no salt on them whatsoever. They were these sad, little, brown shapes that had nothing to recommend them. The were made of some sort of industrial strength desiccant mixed with Sham Wow shavings and brewed with an imported yeast that releases actual Sahara Desert air when activated. This combination of ingredients sucks any and all moisture from your being when placed in your mouth and turns you into a dried out husk resembling the Crypt Keeper in a matter of seconds. Remember the greasy goodness that butter and Worcestershire sauce created when mixed, heated and drizzled over Chex cereal? There was none of that here. It was mostly just those pretzel things and the occasional Chex piece. It’s called Chex Mix for crissakes, where’s my frickin’ Chex bits?!? No mixed nuts, no garlic, just arid, moisture absorbing brown bits taunting me from the passenger’s seat. It’s not like I was in Whole Foods buying free range broccoli, I was in a truck stop buying what I thought was a salty, greasy, carb snack. Bastards.
The thing I fight most when I start to post is the urge to bitch about, well, everything. I fear I’m becoming a crotchety old man and lord knows I love a good rant. Case in point, my treatise on Chex Mix. So rather than talk about the 400 richest Americans having more wealth than the 150 million(!) poorest Americans and saying, “they only call it class war when we fight back.” Or going on about the Plastic Island in the Pacific that’s twice the size of Texas (have you ever driven across Texas? It’s HUGE) that we seem intent on leaving our children, I’ve decided to take Susie up on her request and talk about my great western migration and triumphant return.
I headed West for several reasons. I felt that I was beginning to become more of a liability than an asset for my then employer and good friend. I was making good money, but not (in my eyes) contributing much to the bottom line. How many times have you heard that in your life? ”I’m making too much money and not doing enough for the company.” I was also looking for the opportunity to change my social life. I believe the phrase Jim and John used was “thinking with my dick”. Be that as it may, let’s just say that between work, home life and general frustration, this was my mid-life crisis solution. Always opt for experiences over possessions. You can have stuff or do stuff. If I would’ve bought an Italian sports car, all I’d be left with now is a beat up sports car that wasn’t worth anything after driving it for five years, huge repair bills and not much else. Currently, I’ve got stories, friends and a 2004 Toyota to show for my choices.
I came back for several reasons. When I started work in Denver, I took a sizable pay cut anticipating that I’d be doing an in-at-8-out-at-5 thing where I wouldn’t be the only one who could fix any given problem. This would free up my evenings and weekends for the “dick thinking” part of my journey. When I started there were 5 other people in the engineering department besides myself. When I left there was just me and the guy they hired to manage “all of us”. Add to that the additional cut in pay I took because the economy took a nose dive, and you have a not so good work experience.
That left my social life. My initial, hoped for, social foray disintegrated rather rapidly and I was left with plan B, not dating a friend and long time confidant but meeting new people. I’m okay with meeting new people and making friends, but dating them?!? Honestly, there aren’t that many people who interest me enough to actually ask out and god knows I wouldn’t want to subject someone I don’t know all that well to my lifestyle and world view. Did you *read* that rant about Chex Mix? Who wants to hear that everyday?
She, “Good morning honey, I made oatmeal this morning!”
Me, “Oatmeal? Have you ever been to Cedar Rapids and smelled the Quaker Oats plant there? My god, its horrific!”
So finding myself in Denver with good friends, but more bills than cash and doing as much work as I had in Chicago due to Denver’s “staff reductions” (which *again* left me as the only guy able to help such and such client) I decided to see if I could persuade my employer of my worth. I put my resume out and in a short period of time had job offers in Sante Fe and Chicago. I brought this to my employer’s attention and requested once again that I be given a pay increase. The response I received was actually pretty funny. I was told that if I “get closer to making a decision” I should let them know and they would see what could be done. Seriously. The only thing standing between me and accepting one of several job offers was selling my house. I’d driven to Sante Fe to interview one weekend, I’m pretty sure I was fairly close to “making a decision”. So my beautiful, sunny two bedroom condo with free pool and clubhouse access in the land of 300+ days of sunshine a year went on the market.
Now I’m stuffed into a two bedroom apartment (well one bedroom and one “storage room” where all my boxes of stuff that there wasn’t enough room for ended up) with a job on Chicago’s south side. I love being back with my Chicago friends, I miss my Denver friends and I very much miss the Denver weather. Looking at the preview of this, it appears that I tend to ramble a bit. Perhaps another indication that I’m becoming a crotchety old man? I’m currently trying to get a “Nines” plan together. My neighbors in Denver know what I’m talking about, but for the rest of you, a monthly evening out for a meal. I seem to be encountering resistance with this. I went to see Sarah Vowell speak the other day. I’m doing my best not to spend all my time working. I finally feel like I’m returning to a state of “normalcy”. Look me up if you aren’t too busy with your “normalcy” and we can have lunch. In the mean time, I’ve got to set up lunch with Susie. I told her we’d get together about the time I posted my last blog. I’ve been a bit recalcitrant and need to remedy that.