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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

379 Days, But Who's Counting?

I had a terrible week. There's no nice word I can call to mind to apply to it. Medical inconveniences hit as hard and smoothly as if I deserved them - a planned attack, and take no prisoners. For the record, I don't deserve them and I'm not referring to any illnesses I brought on myself by abusing my mind and body. I've been equivocal about a number of things most recently, likely because I need different things than I needed just months ago when I was unwell and perhaps even disabled in some ways. I'm looking for "more" right now, but it's a vague "more". "More" challenging work to do, "more" structure, a "more" regular-looking life, "more" opportunities to learn about new things to occupy me. That regular-looking life thing is a dangerous abyss, but I didn't go in the deep end. As I've become more disorganized, some of the good things I've incorporated into daily life have lost a little of their shine. I'm not tearing through books as I was before and I'm snoozing a little too much. I passed on a couple of volunteer opportunities there was no reason to skip and - oh! have I said? - my AA program hasn't felt electric for awhile. No, I've not decided irretrievably to return to my drinking career. I've simply been less enthusiastic than once I was. I was heard to audibly snort at AA during the recital of The Promises. "Fear of . . . economic insecurity will leave us." Well, it hasn't. And while a pension is a wonderful thing, a person doesn't want to try to live on it. Not even when it's supplemented by other sporadic income. So - the reader likely gets the picture: not "Danger, Will Robinson!" More like "meh" and "how am I going to un-meh this?"

Yesterday I was gritching (this is a cross between griping and bitching) around when I got the phone call. Both voicemail and text message alerts rang because I couldn't locate the phone. David. "Call me when u can." He is as economical with words as I am extravagant. Only one of our yin-yang duets. Since we have a meeting together on Monday with his business partner, George, I felt pretty sure this would be a reschedule or a "don't forget" of some kind. "Hey, Sir, how are you?" I kept all downer tones out of my voice and attitude. "Got a minute to talk, Lezzlie?" He does not use "Les" and he uses the "zz" sound in my name as my Granny did. My parents intended the sibilant "ss", but who cares? It's my name  now. Friends may use it as they like. "Sure. What's up?" He hemmed and hawed just a little. Uh-oh. This wasn't going to be good. I don't have to be in the same room to read him very, very well. It wasn't good. Someone died. I had to weep about it just a little bit. "I know, Lezzlie. Me, too." The person who died left an empty desk chair to be filled. Would I like to fill it? Read this: "a job". Would I? My cell phone tells me it took fewer than 5 minutes. "Just so we're on the same page, are you coming Monday to talk about the job or to start working?" he asked. I laughed out loud. "Yeah, I thought so. See you at 7:30."

David was put into my life because some power "out there" thought I deserved something good and steady. If you've followed my blog a long time, you've read much about him. He has that large a place in my life. If you don't recognize his name, it's worth reading this which will reveal that he is not simply "a boss" or "an employer". He once put his million dollar baby business in my hands and I flew it beautifully until the alcohol began to fly me. The wonder is that when he had to rescue his business from me and stop rescuing me, he didn't stop caring about me. Or stop valuing my skills. He's reached out to me twice now in my sobriety with semi-employment and (now) employment. Eagerly, without reservations. "I'm sober," I reassured him yesterday. "I knew you would be."

Everything comes at a price, right? The cost of my ticket was the death of Rudy, an elegant gentleman probably in his 80s. He thought I was wonderful. He never had to say so with words. He simply behaved as if he did. In my more recent visits for business meetings, he'd jump up from his desk and come outside to greet me when I arrived. "Les, you look so good!" And he'd try to feed me. Tall, aristocratic, silver-haired and tan of skin, he was somebody in this town in his day and time. To my knowledge, he only ever worked two jobs here. He was a "keeper" in the fine dining rooms of certain establishments. He took care of the needs of the individual members of the Rat Pack and others. He had the stories to tell about it. He knew which forks to set where and he knew about presentation of food and other important requests: "Quality, quantity and presentation, Les. That's all that's needed." I would add "and discretion." I'm sure Rudy had more stories he didn't tell. In the movie Casino, he played a version of himself and his few peers here. I need to rent that movie today. But those aren't the best things about Rudy.

Image intended for
illustrative purposes only.
We had a few things to talk about together, even though we might not have appeared the ideal match on paper. There was L.A., though I suspect he'd left there about the time I was born, since so many of his Las Vegas stories took place in the earliest years of my life. And there were our spouses. Lynne had the same debilitating heart ailment Ex suffered, and though she'd received a heart transplant, her last years were no walk in the park. On her worst days, Rudy took extra steps to make her life better. This meant he applied her makeup, fixed her hair beautifully, dressed her, and took her out into the world for entertainment until she tired. I imagine she was very grateful to greet him a couple of weeks ago. She'd been gone a couple of years by then and I suspect he was sorely missed.

So Monday morning, I will slide my ass into Rudy's chair with some trepidation. I will be grateful to drive the streets I know to the little business plaza, to pass under the stucco canopy into the small world where all the denizens work in some way for David and/or George and so we are all somehow kin. Each such person is a few degrees left or right of the center of the road in some way and I do well in that kind of world. I'll work fewer hours and fewer days than before and I won't run A1 Carpet Care again. My pay will be what once it was, my alcoholism and precancerous condition accommodated as long as I do not pick up a bottle, and I can remain with my AA home group, traveling back across the city each evening with plenty of time. I'll be downstairs doing some vestige of Rudy's work. Since Rudy largely appeared to me to simply lend some grace to a quirky place, I'm not sure precisely what my duties will be, but I feel up to whatever they are. I imagine some computer and graphics magic will be expected of me, some original ideas and energy and some ability to snap at nasty people who require such. Rudy probably never said an unkind word to any human being, but I can do that. I'm going right where I am supposed to be. I am reminded of something I've learned in AA. When I feel jumbly, I need to not start making decisions and taking action. I need to stop, listen and breathe. The answers will be revealed to me. 379 days of no employment. But no more.

Something that charmed me: I'm busy. Distracted busy because I'm lining up wardrobe and desk necessities and the beautiful things with which I surround myself when I work. I've only got a couple of days, after all. And my hair needs to be colored, and . . . WTF? Why is this presenting itself to me? I'd Googled and there - on Google's splash page - was a little playable TV with I Love Lucy snippets. The lovable redhead would be 100 years old today. Someday I must write about my unnatural connection with Lucy. She loomed large in my small landscape of life. When she died, I was on a business trip and saw the morning news. I fell apart even more alarmingly than one might expect, though it was - after all - Lucy and Leslie. I later learned I had been pregnant and therefore, extra emotional, when I lost it there in the San Jose Hyatt . . . "Lucy, you've got some 'splainin' to do!"


  1. Congratulations on your new job, Les.

    Liked Lucy in I Love Lucy, but felt her later shows detracted from her comic legacy a bit. But then, they never show those later shows on TV anymore, so maybe it all works out in the end.

  2. From Doozyanner via email: "Hurray for employment! You will do well at whatever it was that Rudy did. :-)"

  3. @ Doozyanner ~ I thank you, my friend. Yes, I'll do fine and I'll make it my own soon so I don't have to think of it as "doing Rudy's job".

    I'm thinking of my modest foray into a job I've (basically) already done in a place I know well and comparing that to you and your new life in Abu Dhabi. You make me feel humble (in the very best way).

  4. @ Kirk ~ I thank you! Told ya I had news!

    Those later Lucy shows were terrible. Awful. They can't even push them off on us in TVLand.

  5. Good luck!
    And please don't get big hair when you get it colored.

  6. @ CramCake - I surely do thank you. Little chance of big hair. It's already been colored and looks . . . just like me. I'm OK with that, too!

  7. Finally read this post that was emailed to me. I feel elated for you.......
    soon to return and be unsilent

  8. @ Kass ~ Me too, honey! Elated. Can't wait for your triumphant return.