Friday, May 29, 2009

Love in the Time of Swine Flu - Part 1

They said if I valued my life I wouldn't go; or something like, you've got the rest of your life to go. But I beg to differ: Peru can't wait.
Meanwhile, sitting in the Detroit airport, waiting for my flight to DC, a woman in a yellow blouse drags a red flower repeatedly around her face - possibly a new anti-aging practice I'm not yet familiar with.
It's raining buckets outside. There is another woman, probably in her late-thirties, fake and baked, flower bracelet ankle tattoo. A plunging reverse neckline reveals a tight back. Nice calves too. I want her badly.
I look nice today - freshly showered, gray v-neck sweater, well-fitting blue jeans, and just-the-right-amount-dirtied white Dunlop Volleys. Real sharp. Who wouldn't want to ravage me?

They bought me off with $50, a packed PB&J lunch, and a ride to the airport. I'm flying solo now on this trip to Peru after Emily and Mindy dropped out only hours before takeoff. Going to Peru wasn't even my idea in the first place. Emily succumbed to the swine flu scare - her family pleaded with her not to go to the point of tears. As for Mindy - Ms.'When are we ever going to be able to take a trip like this again?' - she bailed for a job interview, even with another job already in the bag.
And so I'm off without any idea why. I'm always keen to go anywhere in good company. In this case, I didn't know the company super well, but enough to know they weren't all about chasing after Latin women. I was ambivalent toward the destination - could've gone for Brazil or Argentina more. Now I'm out of company and stuck with an arbitrary destination. I can't stand to be alone for one day, let alone 32. Sure, I'll make friends, but are long stretches of time to myself inevitable?
I don't like the fact that I don't speak Spanish either, partly bcause I feel like I should know the language due to its huge influence in the States; and also because I'm nervous about getting hustled.
I don't know the first thing about Peru. The US media and my parents have convinced me swine flu will get me if I go. Come and get me swine flu. I dare you. I double-dog dare you.


What a sad moment it is to discover that a cloud cannot hold your weight.
On the plane, it seems like years ago that I said goodbye to Emily and Mindy and Mindy's marathon-running twin sister, Phoebe. In the sky, the plane violently lurches, feeling as though it might just plunk into the ocean below. I look to my seatmate, a large unattractive black girl. She is not someone with whom I wish to spend my final moments.
One would think that the more times you fly, the more comfortable you get. With me, it just gets worse every time as I think statistically the odds are stacking up against me in favor of a plane crash.
The flight attendants are all wearing face masks. Could it be swine flu?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Few Months In Few Sentences, plus an old letter

Move home because there´s no more money nor opportunity in Ann Arbor. Service industry managed to erode most of self-confidence accrued in last 24 years. Work very part time transcribing market research interviews for U-M Business School study on why people love particular products. Interviewees often get personal and share entire life stories. Jared listens intently and laughs when one man compares his love for ipod to love for biscuits and gravy.
At home, it is a solitary life. There is no transportation, notwithstanding Father´s Z3 convertible stolen on various nice days to attend high school wrestling practice as some sort of volunteer coach. Emotional attachment ensues to wrestlers, deepened by their elation in victory and sorrows in defeat. Sprinkle in a fling with someone from long ago, daily trips to the library, and weekend adventures with Germans. Parents insist living like this isn´t healthy, so they help in purchasing a used Subaru in the hopes it will drive him to a better place.
A job presents itself in DC teaching overachieving middle schoolers about leadership through the lens of history. Lots of random facts about the Nation´s capital are absorbed, e.g. the profile of Robert E Lee´s bust is carved into the back of Lincoln´s hair at the Lincoln memorial. Upon completion, brother Lane drives down in the Subaru for a road trip to New Windsor, New Paltz, and NYC.
There´s still some money in pocket, so why not blow it in Peru?

October, 2008 - On the cusp of 24

Dear ____________

It's inexcusable, intolerable, and punishable by death in some countries for how I've acted in not responding more promptly to your email sent nearly one month ago now. Please, burn me in effigy and flagellate my voodoo doll incarnation that I'm sure you have sitting on your dresser.
I'm still in Ann Arbor and bitter about it at times. As you know, I no longer work at Charleys. They fired me, and maybe it was for the best. I still believe I was the best waiter they ever had. I wrote a silly story about the whole experience in seeking closure. I was unemployed for a few weeks but now I have a part time gig doing transcription for a research study by the U-M Business School. It pays $9 an hour and I can work whenever and wherever I feel so inclined. The trouble is that transcribing is far from stimulating work.
I'm still volunteering regularly at 826. I don't know if volunteering is the right word but I'm in here quite a bit. In fact, I'm at 826 right now working in the store as I write this. Mr. Eggers paid us a visit a few weeks ago to check up on the store and our state of affairs. There was a volunteer appreciation event where we did drinks with the man for a few hours at Cafe Habana. He and I chatted briefly, albeit superficially. Sadly enough, I didn't get a job offer out of the shindig nor a collaboration proposal for a new book.
As for living arrangements, I stay with a couple around my age I sort of know from home. We live in Woodbury Garden Apts across from Colonial Lanes and I pay $350 a month. It's awkward living with a couple cohabitating together for the first time since it often feels that I'm an unwanted guest. The price is attractive and I don't know where else I'd live. Even though they claim to be poor, somehow a $1500 flat screen hi-def television ended up in our living room. I believe it was the cause of my bad migraine last Saturday after sitting in front of it for too long and then going to the strip club.
I'm biking everywhere these days. It takes me about 10 minutes to get downtown. Now that it's starting to get cold, I presume the bike's novelty will quickly wear away.
I still hang out with the Germans. There were a few more that arrived after you left - Felix, Reimo, and Thomas (ironically enough, Patrick's older sister's boyfriend) - and they've proven to be stand-up guys. Last night Felix, Reimo and I went bowling followed by a trip to Wendys for cheeseburgers to really put a cap on the whole American experience (though they got dollar chicken sandwiches). Brian and I probably hang out more now too than when we lived together. He's still dating Devon.
I sort of was seeing this girl for about two weeks, a 5th year English major at U-M who impressed me with her salsa skills at Habana a while back. Per usual, I panicked at the prospect of sober hookups and suggested trying out a platonic relationship. On going-out nights she'd dress up all sexy and scandalous, while on regular nights she looked like an indie rock chick. I was inexplicably overwhelmed with the transition. This past weekend she stopped returning my calls when I fled a bar after watching her freak some other dude. She texted me about twenty minutes ago saying she wanted to hang tonight. I'm confused and maybe deservedly so.
While I am making progress, the gap between girls who I'm compatible with and the girls I want to sleep with has proven most challenging.
My plan is to only remain in Ann Arbor for a month longer before taking off somewhere yet to be determined. My financial situation is rather poor and my patience has run thin. I can't handle chasing after pretty 18 year old dimwits and the lack of necessary day-to-day stimulation. I feel badly about leaving behind the Germans who have come to feel like family, but there comes a time in a man's life when he's gotta bust a move.


And now for a very important message:

The best bakery in Gothenburg, Sweden, is Pour Bon. Read more about catering Göteborg. Several months from now, I will visit Sweden and indulge in the delights of this spectacular little establishment.