Home for the Holidays

  

Aah…Christmas morning. This is the first one I’d spent at home since 1991. It wasn’t quite the same as when I was a kid, but it had its certain charms. We had breakfast with my aunt and her family next door, and dinner with my dad’s relatives in Reidsville. I’ve reached the point in life where few of my family members know enough about me to give me anything other than money, which is fine.

It was a foggy Christmas, and the weather for my whole trip was unseasonably warm (until the day I left when the ice came). I had a bit of a hard time getting used to the fact that places are actually heated in North Carolina. This is sadly not the case in San Francisco, where no one admits that it ever gets cold. Of course, Christopher in Minneapolis tells me “you don’t know the meaning of cold.” Jeff had to work Christmas night; he tends bar many nights. Not a good thing for him, but it was very nice for me…

  

Greensboro bars are even more depressing than I remember, with the exception of Babylon, which is really happening despite the overabundent and annoying rave children on certain nights.Suffice to say, I didn’t get laid the whole time I was in NC, and never even felt really inspired to attempt it. There was a cute boy named Brian at the Palms one night (pictured above) but our association never got near the point of sex. Todd (above right) supplied his boyfriend for my “amusement” last visit, but only took pictures of Brian for me this time.

 

Believe it or not, I spent New Year’s Eve at home with mom and dad, despite the festive decorations at the Palms. It seemed the sanest thing to do in a town where (a) cars are the only mode of transport and there are all of three cabs in the whole city, (b) I was stationed in the ‘burbs, and (c) concealed weapons are legal.

  

I made the annual pilgrimage to the trailer park to visit Anthony, Jeff, and Jeff’s new beau Dave and trade Christmas presents and drink beer. Jeff showed me his affection for Dave’s size 17 (?) boots, Dave worked on a model of something I can’t remember, and hideous pictures were taken of me. The we left, ‘cuz the cat was giving me fits.

 

There were the usual tours of the city, “what’s new”, “looks ‘big city’, doesn’t it?”, the trip to Virginia to buy lottery tickets, a jaunt to Winston Salem, where I found this sign which was of interest to a certain fiendishly cute webmaster. I saw the old schools, all the buildings which had been torn down, the monster malls, etc. And food at all my favorie places. Then it beacme time to rent a car and leave my real home town for my adopted home town, the land of all night diners, the Hornets, the Panthers, NationsBank, First Union, and other world class attractions.

 

In Charlotte, I stayed at the nifty new home of my nifty old friend Duncan. We did lunch at Gus’ Sir Beef, always a damn near religious experience, and sampled other Charlotte food as well. Tours of the thrift stores, aimless driving through the city (always a favorite pastime when Duncan and I convene), and more. Friday night started late, but we still hit a few bars (and Duncan got hit on by an adorable boy, while alas I didn’t). Saturday night, we made the trek to Columbia (and back), always one of my favorite road trips when I lived there.

  

On Sunday, much to the chagrin of bigger sports fans than myself, I got to see the Panthers/Cowboys playoff at the new Erickson Stadium. We tailgated next to the most beautiful redneck boy in the world (or at least in the parking lot). Good game, great stadium, cute boys, no tearoom scene (inside joke). Alas, Green Bay kept the Panthers out of the Super Bowl the following Sunday.

Sunday night took me to Oleen’s and back to Scorpio, and Monday morning took me back to Greensboro for one more day. Now I’m home. While it’s good to visit my family and friends, and while I miss having them nearby, I’m not itching to move back. If only they’d come out here…

Reflections on Leaving Kinko’s

It’s all over: the party, the final day, everything. After seven years, four months (to the day, incidentally), I am no longer empoyed. It feels, I must say, really fucking strange. No more voice mail, no more stessed-out whiny yuppie babies, no more lines and corporate double-talk.

To its credit, I was always treated well. I never really felt “fucked over”, I advanced pretty far before complete burnout hit, and my last boss was great for letting me (a) do my job with minimal second-guessing and (b) supporting me in the pursuit my own interests. I’ve made friends from coast to coast.

Neither our regional manager nor our owner bothered to call me and wish me well after seven years of working together very closely. On the other hand, my Payroll administrator, who I’ve met one time and who I love, called the day before I left. Hooray for the rank and file!

Last Day at Kinko’s

On the coldest day of the year so far, I joined the ranks of the unemployed. Of course, there was no chance that it would be an easy day. Staffing was a tad short, due to vacations, training of the “replacement team”, etc., so I got a chance to alternate beteween moments of extreme stress and the perspective that — no matter what — this scene really had no further impact on my life. I closed out the voice mail, emptied out my folder on the network hard drive, and — as my last administrative duties — completed a review and promoted someone.

I did get the pleasure of one last run-in with an obnoxious yuppie shitbag. As I came into the confrontation, related to something which was about five minutes late, the rabid bitch was standing at the counter snapping her fingers yelling “Chop chop…let’s go. I want it now.” No matter what preceded it, this was tremendously inappropriate and unprofessional and I let her know that. Didn’t phase her or affect her exaggerated sense of self-importance, but it felt good…

There was a great cake and Sarah brought pastries. After about 2PM, I was essentially useless, except for Brendan’s review. Lots of last minute details and pass downs and quick hugs. I announced the promotion, started saying goodbye (a long process which began to get a bit teary), and by 4:15, it was all over. Rae and I punched out for the last time, and we were gone.

Once outside, it was so surreal. After all these years, I’m unemployed. All the stress was over and I wasn’t sure exactly where it went. The fact that we would no longer be seeing these people we both love dearly seemed very real. Rae and I just looked at each other with this sort of “what the fuck?” expression. I lit a cigarette. We went to the bank to get cash. We went straight to the corner bar. We began drinking. Things got better. Ray, Angela, and Mark eventually joined us. They felt better too.

Tomorrow is my first day of unemployment. I sense the unusual sensations are just beginning. If this is so strange, getting fired must be really weird…

Farewell Party

I think it was originally supposed to be a surprise party and was originally just for me, but neither component quite happened. I had to be informed (in order to get me there) and Rae’s announcement that she too was leaving added to the festivities. Appropriately enough, it was held at Harrington’s on Front Street, our offcial “what a crappy day” bar. I had a few big realizations. The first was that I’m really going to miss seeing all these people on a daily basis because I’ve developed some real friendships here. The second is that my camcorder is not great in low-light situations.

 

The loot: Rae got a “classic disco” CD, as well as her very own copy of the “Macarena”. In a big rash of appropriateness, I received “Television’s Greatest Hits” and “Tube Tunes”. There was much food, much beer (thanks again, Clinton) and hours of good Christian fellowship, despite the fact that a fair number of us were pretty damned hungover from the Christmas party the night before. It was a very good thing.