Wednesday, July 26, 2006

We Now Return You To Your Regularly Scheduled Threshold, Already In Progress

So I’m back.
The photo-centric posts aside, it took me exactly an hour to fall completely back into my routine once I got home yesterday.
The one thing I did that was outside the norm was ordering a pizza for dinner, but that I didn’t want to have to venture out into the world to get food is hardly surprising and is well within the bounds of expected Jon behavior.
My flight back left at 7:10 in the morning, and given that my parents live about 45 minutes away from the airport, that made for a very early morning.
When I got there I found that my name wasn’t on the list for the flight. Apparently when my original flight out of Dulles got cancelled I needed to call in to re-confirm my flight back to Dulles.
Fortunately they were able to get me rebooked.
I suppose I can’t complain too much about the hardships involved in my trip. After all, with all of the times that I’ve flown it’s amazing that this was the first time I ever had to face any major hassles. And besides, having to stay overnight in Minneapolis and being over an hour late getting in to my final destination once I finally did get a flight out isn’t as bad as, say, getting crashed into the side of a building or something.
Still, on Wednesday when I finally got on the plane to the UP my nerves were pretty ragged. The fact that the battery on my Nano drains if it’s not plugged in overnight, even though it’s not actually in use, pretty much provided the icing on the cake when, once I was finally airborne, I was only able to listen to two and a half songs before the battery died.
All I can say is that it’s a damn good thing I have some MP3s on my PDA, otherwise there’s a very good chance that the annoying kid sitting behind me with his grandmother would have ended up hitting the ground hard somewhere in Wisconsin.
From the time I got to Dulles on Tuesday to finally arriving in the UP nearly 24 hours had passed. That’s especially irritating considering that in that 24 hours only about 3 hours was spent actually flying.
More annoying is the fact that I actually had to fly past Michigan to get to Minnesota so that I could, eventually, fly from there to Michigan.
But whatever; it’s over now.
On day two of my trip, after I’d checked out of the motel, I was waiting for the shuttle to the airport when I noticed that Jess, one of the people I’d hung out with the night before, was going to take the shuttle as well.
Obviously it couldn’t go anywhere, but I was hoping that she would at least sit next to me on the trip over so that I could talk to her a little more (as mentioned, she was pretty and had a nice rack). Unfortunately, I ended up seated next to a gnarled, phlegmy old Indian guy. In fact, apart from the driver, Jess and I were the only people on that shuttle who weren’t eligible for membership in AARP.
However, once we got to the airport Jess and I were standing in line together for the security check-in and chatted a little.
I talked a little about my job and about the layoff rumors and how I might be looking for a job again soon but that I’m not too worried.
She said, “Yeah, you have marketable skills I mean, the Internet is everywhere these days.”
Then she paused for a moment, looked as if she was lost in thought, then turned to me and said, “What is the Internet?”
I was a bit taken aback by the question, doing the whole, “Ha ha! That’s a good one! I…oh, you’re serious?” thing.
After doing my best to explain what the Internet is in the simplest terms possible, I just kept on talking even after she said, “Oh, okay, I get it.”
In fact, I kept on talking about it even after she said, “Oh, okay, I get it,” in a voice that made it clear that I should shut the hell up, and though this registered with me, I was incapable of stopping.
Just like the extended conversation with Lisa, this conversation with Jess made it clear to me that I just don’t know how to talk to…anyone.
I know, you thought I was going to say “girls,” but the fact of the matter is my conversation skills in general suck ass.
Granted, it’s not so important to me that I be able to have decent conversations with guys, but the fact remains that I pretty much can’t.
I think part of it is just a lack of practice, but the other part, which is related, is the whole “floodgate effect.”
I so seldom talk to people that when I do, words just come pouring out with no real coherence, and I jump from topic to topic following no apparent train of thought.
It’s possible to avoid this problem by switching to my default listening mode and getting the other person to do the talking, but this can often lead to lulls in the conversation, given that I’m not always able to provide any sort of feedback that will sustain it.
And when I’m talking, fully aware of the fact that I’m babbling incoherently, I attempt to rein things in and steer the flow in a particular direction, like trying to focus on some of the things that I do (such as they are) that are at least somewhat interesting.
The problem is that I’m not very good at steering, and so I often make these conversational non sequitur segues that bring the conversation to a jarring halt before veering off in another direction.
And of course, related to the floodgate thing, there are just so many things that I want to talk about, like Heroic Portraits, or cooking, or Threshold, or whatever, and I can’t manage to pick one, so I end up rambling on about things that I don’t want to talk about, all the while sitting there and thinking, “Shut up! What the hell is the matter with you? Don’t start going on about how desperately lonely you are! Stick to small talk, jackass, don’t get into…I can’t believe you just told this complete stranger about being in rehab. Do you see the way she’s looking at you now? Way to go, dumbass.”
So yeah, me and talking good, not so much.
Once I got to the UP on Wednesday we stopped to visit my sister at her job, then visited with Jourdan at her job, where we learned that she had gotten her tongue pierced in February and has been hiding it from my mom and dad ever since. My dad just happened to notice it when she was talking to us.
Later that evening we all went out to eat and in talking about the piercing we found that she’d had it done by my friend Joel’s (For the first time ever, this year I didn’t bother even trying to get together with him while I was in town) ex, who does that sort of thing for a living.
Turns out that the whole time she was piercing Jourdan’s tongue she just sat there talking shit about me and about how much she hates me.
It’s good to know that at least someone I used to know still thinks about me every so often…
Seriously though, fuck her. If she wants to waste her time hating me I’m more than happy to let her. I never did shit to her.
And as far as the only real point of contention (that would be Joel) between us goes, she won a long time ago, successfully removing me from his life.
But whatever.
In any case, that pretty much fills in the blanks left by my earlier posts and my photo essay. Most of the rest of my time was spent sitting around not doing much of anything, cursing the slowness of my mom’s computer, and setting up her new, faster computer.
On Friday night I took my mom and dad out to eat at the restaurant in the motel that opened just down the road from their house.
I also had to pick up a new pair of shoes, as the shoes I bought just a few months ago developed a huge tear. I was going to order a pair online like I usually do after I got back, but the tear got much worse so I had to actually buy a pair from a store.
They didn’t have the standard Converse All Stars in my size, so I had to opt for an all-black pair that has name stenciled on the side.
And that was my oh-so exciting trip to the UP. I should be set for another year or so.
This morning I had to venture out to pick up a few things and to gas up the car, so I IMed Kathleen and said, “I’m heading out that way shortly, so I thought I’d give you the opportunity to tell me that you’re too busy to have lunch with me,” which is more or less what she did.
(Actually, she had made other plans for lunch)
So I ventured out, did my thing, and was home before noon.
And now here I am.
The thing that I find interesting about my trips home is that there’s really not much there to inspire any sort of homesickness. I mean, yes, I miss my family – they’re the only reason I make the trip every year – and it was nice to be able to see Gretchen, but beyond that? Meh. I could do without seeing the trees or the water or the old familiar places. Even seeing the things that have changed isn’t that interesting. Oh, the Wal-Mart is now a Supercenter. Whee! They’re rerouting M-26 around South Range. Yippee!
Probably the best non-family thing about the trip was the fact that seeing a movie, in the evening, was cheaper than seeing a matinee out here. A ticket and a medium drink for a 7:30 show cost me a total of $10.
And while the overall familiarity of my surroundings created a sort of comfort level for me, I was pretty eager to get back to VA.
After all, they say that home is where your heart is, but for me, home is where my rut is…

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