Archive for April, 2005

I’d teach you, but I would have to levy a fee. 😉

I got some great news yesterday: my company realized they hired too many people to do the work they have planned, so they’re terminating the contract with three of the five of us. My boss held a quick-and-dirty, super-top-secret meeting to tell me and one other person that he wants to keep us and let the others go. And since there is still some indecision about some of the features we’re documenting, my co-worker and I are getting a week’s paid vacation, which is separate from the vacation I accrue from the contracting company that hired me. VERY. COOL.

I think we earned it. I work pretty fast, and we had to log everything we did in a shared database, so I know I produced the most content. I was worried that my fast working would mean less money because I get paid by the hour, but it looks like things turned out alright! I’m pretty excited about going back a week from now too. Since more of the features will be hashed out, our projects are going to get more interesting.

As he ran through the timeline for the remainder of our contract, my boss also noted that around September, we would start talking about whether we want to continue doing contract work there or become full-time employees. For him to mention the possibility of either option this early is definitely awesome. And companies don’t usually give hourly employees paid vacations unless they’re interested in keeping them around. So… what will I do with this week?

My first inclination was to fly to Vegas and play cards, but now I’m leaning toward visiting Honolulu again because I haven’t been there since I was eight. My main concern, as always, is Zoey. I would like the nice couple I live with to walk her when they walk their dog, but I don’t want them to feel like I expect them to. Kennels and dog-walkers are so expensive though, even independent people who do it from home. I mean, $30 to walk a dog once? What planet are you living on?

Anyway, before I leave, I want to finish my synopsis of See-What-Happens-Larry, my psycho ex-roommate. I promise it will be a good read, even for those of you who have already heard about his antics firsthand.

The title of this post is based on a quote from The Big Lebowski, but since you’re such a hip amateur film critic, you already knew that.

So I got a job in the San Jose area and I was all ready to start. I didn’t have much time to fly out beforehand and look for a place, so I decided to rent site unseen. It worked in college (which I am no longer attending, as Gus pointed out) and I lived with some pretty crackheaded people. I really thought I’d had the worst of it. Very few people could be more disgusting and pathetic than some of the morons I was forced to live with at LSU. After all, as people age, they generally mellow out and do their thing without acting like complete asshats, right?

Wrong. Introducing See-What-Happens-Larry, the window-washing psychopath that I lived with for less than three weeks.

Before I even arrived at the house, there was trouble. I had called him when I was leaving, and told him I’d call again when I was closer to town. When I did this, he said something to the effect of, “Just so you know, I’m not going to be taking care of your dog while you go away for the weekend. I have two of my own dogs and a cat and a bird and I don’t have time to be worrying about other people’s pets.”

At what point had our several three-minute phone conversations led him to believe that I expected anyone else to take care of Zoey? Never. Because I’ve always looked after her. She’s mine. Duh. I brushed it off, just assuming he was nervous or something.

When we met face-to-face, he explained that he was up on a ladder washing windows when I called. Okay. I was not aware that being up on a ladder causes a person to transform into a complete friggin’ jerk. Moreover, and this goes for everyone, if you’re too busy to talk, don’t answer your phone. Voicemail was invented so you can know who is calling without addressing the caller right away. If your phone rings and you pick it up, you’re saying to the caller, “Hi, I’m willing to talk now.” If that’s not the case, let it ring.

Anyway, he shows me around the house, in which he smokes not just marijuana, but cigarettes too. It may seem strange to look at it that way, but every smoker and former smoker knows that pot smoke clears out in less than an hour, but tobacco is forever. Still, I didn’t think it would matter much. Contrary to what my parents and all the anti-smoking PSAs try to tell you, smokers aren’t bad people. Sure it’s unhealthy, but so are lots of socially acceptable things, like eating McDonald’s every day.

The smoking alone wasn’t a huge problem. My room was smoke-free. It just sucked to open my door to a stench-ridden house every morning. And I didn’t notice until I moved, but my clothes smelled like smoke, too. Again though, not a huge problem, as I’ve often asked for it by hanging out at Austin dives like the Cloakroom, Canary Roost, and GCue.

But in addition to the smoke that clung to the walls of this relatively small house, a number of repairs needed to be made. I’d like to mention here that I wanted to rent from a homeowner, not only because it’s almost always cheaper than getting an apartment, but because an owner who lives there is more likely to fix what’s broken. After all, it’s his place too. You’d think a person would try to keep their living space nice whether they own it or not, but that’s not the case here.

The screen to the front door was partially torn out of the screen door, such that it was large enough for the dogs to jump through. It was ripped enough that, in my opinion, he might as well have just taken the damn thing off.

The bathroom door didn’t lock. Yes, THE bathroom. The one bathroom I was supposed to share with this guy. It was pretty easy to tell when someone was in the bathroom, so this wasn’t a problem for awhile. Until Larry walked in on me while I was washing my face. Thank God I wasn’t taking a shit, but I wasn’t happy about it. He’d obviously had a few drinks and wasn’t thinking. Still, I could be drunk enough for the two of us and remember that a closed door means someone’s in there.

Let’s go inside the bathroom, shall we? Toilet lid: broken off. Toilet seat: partially duct-taped. Toilet paper roll holder: missing. Bathtub drain fixture (now this is precious): weighed down by a butterfly corkscrew with the cork still in it. It makes sense though, he probably doesn’t need to open wine very much as I was probably the first woman to set foot in that house since the Reagan Administration.

The kitchen was a bit funky too. A washer/dryer took up most of the space in it because there was no utility room. Although somewhat obtrusive, I was glad they were there because I hate leaving the house to do mundane chores such as laundry. The refrigerator, a main appliance in most kitchens, took up but a small corner of the room. It resembled something I used in my college dorm, and then my cubicle at work, but was much smaller. Would have been nice of him to mention that he was monopolizing a small dorm fridge and all the cabinet space before expecting a roommate.

The walls of my room, and the rest of the house, were diiiirty. Dark and dirty like bad UK garage tracks. They were dirty, I learned, because Larry likes to come home every night and leave the font and back doors open. I could see he was attempting to air out the house to compensate for his filthy habits, but what he was really doing was allowing every creature with six to eight legs and/or wings to come inside. Shouldn’t they be paying rent? I usually had to inspect the bathroom before I used it, since most of the big ones liked to hang out in there.

It’s amazing that bugs even found our house, since it was surrounded by pavement. The “frontyard” served as a driveway. The backyard was maybe an 8″ by 15″ concrete stoop. Larry never walked his two unruly dalmatians. Since he left the door open, they could walk out and shit on the concrete, and every week or so, he’d pick it all up. I didn’t think of it much until an earthy hippie I met in San Francisco told me that dogs go crazy when they’re not exposed to outdoor smells. Those dalmatians were loopy because they could never be outside and go on real walks like normal dogs. I suppose I’d go crazy if I had to shit on concrete. Dunno, never tried it…

Anyway, enough about the house. You get the jist of it. And believe it or not, as well as Gus took care of me in Austin, and as well as I took care of myself before I met him, I could deal with the dilapidated dwelling. All I need is a roof over my head and place to sleep and everything else is gravy. The problem here was not the living conditions, wretched as they may sound. No, the problem was See-What-Happens-Larry. His mood swings, his anger, his inability to grasp the concept of anything beyond a black or white scenario… those were problems.

The real deal breaker that caused me to start shopping for a new place was the time he kicked my dog. His dogs came into my room and started eating my dog’s food. My dog let it slide the first time, but when I put more out for her to eat, his stupid dogs tried to eat it again. My dog growled to defend her turf, and his dogs growled back and they got into a scuffle. Larry separated the dogs and then kicked my dog in the face. My biggest issue with it is that he and his dogs were not in any danger at that point. He was just mad. He apologized afterwards and pet her… I don’t know how much of the aftermath was due to the fact that I was watching the whole thing.

Larry seemed mad all the time, even when he was happy. When he talked to me, he tried to soften his voice, but it still sounded kind of like yelling. This was pretty strange behavior for a pot smoker, but it was normal to him.

Larry owned a small window-washing business. By small, I mean it had one employee: him. He worked about five hours a day, so he was al
ways home when I woke up and often home when I returned from work. On the first day we met, he pretty much summed up his philosophy on life, “I like to sleep in, get up and work for a few hours, and then just come home and party.” Hearing this from a guy in his late thirties is funny alone, but now imagine that he talks just like Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

“Partying” for this guy meant coming home, cracking open a beer and smoking a few Js. Nothing wrong with that. But at his age, you should really have enough going on in your life when you can’t (and don’t want to) do that every day.

He fancied himself a musician, and had some recording equipment strewn about the living room. (Gus: “Look on the bright side, if your place gets robbed, at least they’ll just steal his stuff.”) He played the guitar and he sounded alright. He told me when we met that he likes to have friends over to “jam.” And thus, when friends were over, I expected a “jam session” of some sort. It didn’t even have to be awe-some. Instead, there was a bit of instrument-playing sandwiched between large chunks of pot-smoking and TV-watching. Rock over London, rock on Mountain View…

I think Larry had just undergone a midlife crisis before I met him. But since he had no money and couldn’t buy a sportscar, he decided to make a life change (which I admire more anyway). He took up reading. That’s definitely cool. I’ve always loved to read and it was nice to see the village idiot making an effort to get his knowledge on. I could tell it was a new thing for him because most avid readers his age wear their intelligence on their sleeves. Larry was still in the process of obtaining the metaphorical shirt.

He had also recently purchased the game, Scrabble. He was really excited about playing with me, so we busted it out a few times. One time, I kept getting the right letters to spell words that could be interpreted as being of a sexual nature. He took that as a sign to make a lame pass at me.

The last time we played, I told him I was planning to move out at the end of the month. He was really pissed off because even though I was living there under the agreement that we’d give it a try, he seemed to think I was going to live there long-term, which was never the case. I said that I was concerned with being in a healthy living environment that’s best for me and my dog, but he was hell-bent on the fact that he was not going to have the extra rent money coming to him every month. But he settled himself down by saying, “That’s karma. I’ve just been reading about that lately and… That’s karma.” As if to say, “You’ll get yours.” But I hardly think my not solving his problem of needing extra money constitutes as “karma comin’ at me”. Furthermore, I’ve also done some reading on eastern religions, and karma is a ripple effect, not simple give-and-take. Of course, I knew better than to try explaining this to someone who had just learned the word yesterday.

He ended up “evicting” me the next day, telling me that I had till 6 the next day to move out. I say “evicting” because he was not the landlord to whom I had directly paid my rent, so I could have legally stayed there till the end of the month. Luckily, my new roommates were ready for me and Gus was in town that weekend, so everything worked out. Larry didn’t make it sound like he had found someone else to take the room. Again, he just seemed angry and wanted to react in some dramatic way. I found the whole thing to be quite ridiculous.

In conclusion, some people may be reading all of this thinking, “Okay, you had a bad roommate experience. But don’t you think it’s unfair to tarnish this guy’s name on the internet?” My answer is this: If you don’t want the dozen or so people who read my blog to know you’re a psychopathic asshole, don’t kick dogs, don’t live like a disgusting pig, don’t hit on me after I’ve told you that I have a boyfriend, and don’t get hostile for no reason.

When I die with the knife in my chest instead of my back, I want to be remembered like any other great hero. I don’t want to be thrown in some stinking mass grave, or even carried away and honored at some barbaric ceremony. Proper burials in cemeteries are for the common, and cremation is for the overly nostaligic. When I die, I want a huge diamond ring made out of my remains so Gus can wear his dead girlfriend around his finger and use it as a conversation piece.

After work, I stopped at the dry cleaners on the way home. It is literally on my way home, which is the only reason I chose that one over any of the others. I usually like to check the credentials of a place before I go there, but that’s kinda tough for dry cleaners. Every strip mall has one, and it’s impossible to tell if it’s good or bad.

So I pull into into the parking lot and as I leave my car, I hear “Cock-a-doodle-dooooo!” I stopped for a minute, shook my head, and kept walking. That rooster is far away and has nothing to do with me.

Wrong! That rooster is the dry cleaning man’s pet. His name is Ruby, and he likes to hang out at the store all day.

Amused, I began taking pictures.

I’ll find out Thursday if clothes clean better with a rooster booster.

As you can clearly see, I’ve been too busy to post. Sometimes, when I have big things happening, I like to take a break and marvel at the little things that are happening too… and write blog posts about them first because it’s easier. Introducing Kat’s Life Grab Bag:

1. Since I’ve moved all my crap to a hotel room in Sunnyvale (explanation forthcoming), I don’t have a fridge to put food in. That’s not a huge problem because I don’t have that much, but I’d like to save the little I’ve purchased. Of course they’re cleaning the fridges in our building at work this weekend, so of course I can’t keep my food at work the one weekend I don’t have a fridge. So I just wandered all over Building 6 looking for a fridge, trying to pretend that I belong there. I found one, so now I’m more worried about never finding it again.

2. Something like 3 days in a row circa last weekend, I have been walking down the streets of San Fran, Mountain View, wherever, and have seen women’s underwear crumpled up on the sidewalk like its someone’s own bedroom floor. WTF? Who goes somewhere and leaves their underwear behind? Perhaps my Puritanical upbringing has barred me from ever understanding such hedonistic practices.

3. I got rid of my five-year-old computer yesterday, and I’m getting rid of my ten-year-old TV today. I’m replacing them with flat-panel everything ’cause I’m getting real tired of lifting shit.

Last night, I took a little trip down El Camino Real to sign a lease with Fong Fong and Bill, a nice Asian couple with an apartment just minutes away from where I work. I have never been happier to write a check in my life. Besides being closer to work, I’ll be a 5-minute walk from Walmart and Safeway. I’ll also have my own bathroom with a door that locks and when I come home, the house won’t smell like stale cigarette smoke. Gotta be thankful for the little things in life, I suppose.

So Bush is finally backing legislation that I can agree with: tighter bankruptcy laws. I never liked how easy it is for careless spenders to absolve their debts, declaring they have nothing when they actually have a lot more than the average person needs, just no liquid assets. You have a brand new beamer and you can’t buy dinner tonight because all of your credit cards are maxed out? Tough tamales.

The forthcoming legislation prompted me to buy a modest amount of stock in both Capital One and Citigroup. I know I won’t make bank and retire in Tahiti, but both companies are pretty solid and will do quite well in the coming years. Even if I make just enough to take a short vacation to Tahiti, or perhaps buy only a poster depicting Tahiti, the money is being put to better use than sitting in a bank account.

In addition, a fairly recent viewing of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money has caused me to think a little harder about what I’m doing with my cash flow now so I can keep it going in the future. I doubt anyone can agree with every tip he gives, but his overall advice is sound. “Am I Diversified?” is a fun game and a good question that everyone with a little extra dough should strive to answer.

Watching my NI stock plumment in the recent weeks has also prompted me to pull my head out of the sand and get a leg up on the pile. Although NI has a diverse range of products and thus, a varied customer base, something there ain’t goin’ right. I don’t plan to sell, but I won’t buy more. (In my time there, I accrued enough NI stock for it to amount to a large percentage of my total assets. Plus, there are better tech stocks out there.)

If I buy more stock in the coming months, it is likely to be in consumer goods and services. Southwest Airlines is a popular one. I’m wondering if I’m too late to cash in on the Whole Foods organic b.s. craze. I think Wal-Mart might be trying to make their own version to compete, but I’ll have to do some more reading. I don’t care for Wal-Mart much and their produce section is currently abhorrent. I guess we’ll see.

Last night, I finally got a decent night’s sleep. The night before last, as I lay down to go to sleep, I hear a “Buzzzzzzz” in my ear and awake to find one of those big nasty flying things circling my room. When I jumped up, it was chillin’ on my bed, so I yanked the covers off all quick-like, which moved the mattress, which caused the box spring to come off the frame. So my bed had pretty much collapsed. Putting together a bed by yourself is hard!

To make things worse, there’s some stupid bird who likes to come out squawking at 4am. Larry asked, “Does it go through like 30 different bird calls?” And I said, “If some retarded bird is waking me up before the sun rises, I’m not exactly paying attention to its calls.”

But apparently, it’s just about mating season for this type of bird, so it mimics the calls of other birds and does it really loud.

Larry’s suggestion: “Just throw a rock at it. If you just let him know that the tree by your window isn’t cool, he’ll move further down the street.”

I don’t like throwing rocks at things at 4am, so we decided that he’ll be throwing the rock. (It woke him up too.)

We had this conversation while playing Scrabble last night. I won, but only because I got some good letters and was able to take advantage of multiple triple word scores.

Of course, every word I spelled had to be some kind of sexual innuendo. I really wasn’t trying to get at anything. Those were just words I could make with the letters I got. But after I spelled “sexing”, “wife”, “nest”, and “hentai”, things got a little creepy.

I made some joking comment about where my mind is these days. Larry offered to give me a massage. I know he was kidding, but the thought of it made me shudder anyway. He also said something like, “I wouldn’t even have to get you drunk.” And at that point, I began talking about when my wonderful, intelligent, and totally committed boyfriend is coming to town and all the fun stuff we plan to do together.

And I feel bad. Here I am, just invading this poor guy’s space and inadvertently waving everything he can’t have right in front of his face. Feeling sorry for people sucks. I’m going to check some stock quotes now.

My roommate smokes, which I didn’t think would bother me, but kind of does. So every night, I light a scented candle in my room. My logic is that if my room smells really nice, the intolerable stench outside won’t be such a big deal.

Last night, I fell asleep with a candle lit. I guess the wick was too long or something. It ended up fogging up my entire room with thick, dark smoke. The cobwebs in the corners turned black (and were then easy to find and remove). The ceiling above the candle now has a thick layer of black ash on it. Now one of the items on my to-do list is “wash the ceiling.”

All day, I’ve been cleaning hardened smoky residue out of my nostrils. No, friends. The irony is not lost on me.

So every Monday, someone brings in a TON of bagels and the flavored cream cheeses. Man, I loves me some cheeses. But a moon’s worth of cheeses would be useless without as many bagels to put them on. Thus, I have written a poem:

Bagels are the tastiest food
Go get bagels from upstairs, dude
I eat bagels all day long
I shove bagels in my thong
Bagel bagel, bagelley Jones
These are my bagels, get your own
I could eat bagels forevermore
But don’t call me a bagel whore

Heh, I feel like Adam Sandler! Except I don’t always have that stupid look on my face. And I’m not as funny as he is. Although he really peaked at They’re All Gonna Laugh at You.