2015

It was a good year.
At the start of 2015 I lived with Michelle. I was working as an un-loader at Walmart. In fact I rang in the New Year at work.

In January I started to work IMS on weekend mornings. Which wasn’t a ton of fun. Most of all when I had to work until midnight. And then come back at 8 a.m. But it was a good experience. Good to be doing something other than nights. I had hoped to learn in the process. And I did about inventory. A system which has completely changed.

I didn’t learn much about the rest of the store.

In the spring I had some trouble with a co-worker. And it helped me to see something. Working in the backroom wasn’t getting me anywhere. So I agitated and got relocated in the store. I had talked to another store about a transfer. But they didn’t offer me anything better. I am glad I stayed with 5899.

The new job was in produce. It was Scott, Allen, David, Elias and I. At first I had a few shifts in produce and some in deli. Then for almost two months I worked in the deli. During this time the deli changed managers. At first Joe was manager of both bakery and deli. But they split the departments and added a manager. I thought for a moment I had a chance. But it went to Tammie. And it was a good choice.

Working in the deli was fun. A lot going on. Slicing meat, cooking food, checking times, making chickens and pizzas, discounting food, cleaning, stocking and pulling food. Closing isn’t hard. But it does take a while, at least for me. When I started the oven was dirty. You couldn’t see through the doors. I managed to get them clean enough to see through. Although each door took me about an hour. Now they are staying clean, so far. In the deli I worked with Justin, Rose, Ann, Barb, Carolyn, and Gregg. Of course some did more work than others.

My memories of the deli are of some of the great customers. There is a cute girl me and Justin find attractive. She comes and gets sliced meats. But she has a boyfriend. Also trying to learn to write on cakes. Being in deli is always moving. There is always something to do. Cook, CVP, pull, cook, CVP, pull. You have to stay ahead of the hungry masses. It is a challenge. And I like the challenge.

Eventually things changed. Daz joined the deli. And I got moved back to produce. At first I was working a few days in each department. But for a long while I was just working produce. Allen left and they hired a new Justin. Allen had been full-time, so now they needed me in produce. I worked two opens, 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. and three closes. 1 -10 p.m.

Working in produce was a bit slower. But I also got pulled more from produce. It was rare I worked a full shift in my department. Either I got pulled to the cashier, or carts or the backroom. But I love to be flexible. I love to do it all. Oh yeah, sometimes I got pulled to dairy, and deli too. Almost anywhere. One day they even asked me to sweep the floor.

The fun part about produce was putting product out. And changing things around. I never know if Scott likes what I do. But if I see an end cap low, and a bunch of product in the back. I take action and put the new product on the end cap. I’ve moved things around a lot when I had the time.

My weakness in produce is culling. I can break down three large pallets, fill the bananas and stock the floor. But culling is where I fail all the time. It is an area I continue to focus on improving. Working with Scott hasn’t been easy all the time. He does things differently than I would. But I think we respect each other. And I enjoy working with him.

One night I was pulled by Robin to help Dan. We were going to unload a trailer out back. And then the power blipped. It was enough to reset the registers and I thought I got out of going outside. But I didn’t. Once the lines were down, they sent me out back with Dan. It wasn’t too bad. It was good to work with Dan again.

On Black Friday I worked in Roberto. We were on a que line. Our product was tablets. And I thought about buying one. But by the time I got off work they were all gone. It was really a boring day. Wait and wait and wait. It was a slow day for me and for the store. After the event we started to condense items in the action alleys. I remember this from last year. We had a ton of stuff left over. But in the next few days most of it sold.

The period between Black Friday and Christmas was busy. But nothing extreme. Until Christmas Eve. The lines were busy all day. I was scheduled for produce but spent the entire day on registers. At one point Shannon closed my line. It slowed for a moment. She told me to go back to what I was doing. I took a break and then things were busy again so I got on register again.

At the end I went to talk to Produce Justin. He didn’t even know I had been there all day. Since then business has slowed a little. I still get called to the front. But more and more I spend time in my department.

For the last couple weeks my schedule has changed again. I’ve been working two opens in produce, and two closes and then a day in deli. Which is 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Which is a fun schedule because it gets me out of produce one day a week. I like working with the deli people. Even Gregg who barely works, and Rose who is just a pain sometimes.

Deli Justin has moved to the front end as a CSM. I am sure he will do a good job up-front. It will take time to adjust to his not being in the deli. And I doubt anyone is going to clean like he did. A new girl is taking over his shifts, but it is yet to be seen if she will perform well.

Also there are other potential changes moving into the new year. A potential opening in Infants and Shoes. As well as a possible change within my department. I would like to move away from Walmart in 2016. But at the least I hope to grow to a better position with the company.

As for non-work news. I almost forgot. Which says something about me I guess. I lived with Michelle until the summer. Then I moved in with a friend. Now I have to pay rent, $300. But it is a good room. It is warm and I can use the bathroom indoors. Baby Girl seems to be happy here.

When I moved in it was just my friend and his girlfriend. But her sister also moved in. Which is okay, the house is big enough and we are all busy people. They are all friendly. In terms of space I’d love to move. But in terms of comfort and people, I like it here.

I haven’t done much with friends. A walking partner stopped talking to me this summer. I’m not sure why. And a co-worker I used to do things with too. She said my car was too hot. It bothers me a little I don’t have more friends. Some old friends have been hard to get together with because of time and space. I don’t hear much from Heather.

I did get to know a friend of Michelle’s. And I plan to visit her in a couple weeks. It will be good to see her. And good to see where things develop. Problem is she lives far away.

I am more glad this year I moved to Portland/Vancouver than I was last year. Though I do think about moving again from time to time. If there was a great job, or some other opportunity I would move in a moment. In a couple weeks I go back to California. And I’ll see friends, and there is a chance I could find a reason to move back.

Moon in Virgo

The moon in Virgo today is a good time to think about details. Take a moment to step back, tidy up a mess. Catch up on chores. Virgo is ruled by Mercury. So it is a good time for mental exercises. And tasks which require focus. It can be easy to be critical of yourself today. But try to forgive yourself even the details. The moon is opposite Neptune. This creates a conflict of energy. This could cause us to want to escape our chores. Or expect too much from ourselves. Virgo is an Earth sign. So a focus on details can ground us. A trine with the sun brings our ego into the picture. Making it easier to be critical of ourselves. And harder to forgive. This energy also comes from the planet Saturn. It sits square the moon. This puts limits in the game. Don’t push yourself. Don’t push the rules. And a trine Pluto arrives late in the day. Pluto adds an emotional aspect to the mix. (Say Happy Birthday to Sean Hannity)

You are…

Enough

Eight of Swords

Life can be full of anxiety. The Eight of Swords is a prison. But the space is our own minds.
We are bound. And blindfolded. Trapped by our own ideas. We choose to see the world in a certain way. And the world presents itself. Our jobs, our relationships and ourselves are images. We can choose different. But it isn’t easy.

Eight is a card of power. But unlike other eights this card holds us. In the card a figure is tied. A blindfold covers their eyes. And on either side are four swords. Swords are the mind. This blindfold and the bindings are in our mind. We are trapped by ourselves. By our own fears. Which is only a lack of self-love.

The eight of pentacles shows us the power of our skills. And the eight of wands represents the power of movement. Eight is so close to ten, there is always something missing. But what is missing couldn’t be clearer than in the Eight of Swords. We stand in the gap between the swords.

When you knock 8 over you get the infinity sign. And I believe this speaks to a condition which has the power to continue on its own. We will remain trapped until we take the first step.

The card before this was a time of discovery. We explored our ideas of the world. And we left some behind. But we still haven’t learn to be flexible. It isn’t about taking and leaving ideas. We need to allow ideas to change. Because the world changes. And we change.

In the next card we face the depths of anxiety. The Nine of Swords is one of the darkest cards in the deck. All our sins come back to us. Now as we experience the Eight of Swords is our time. We can change the future. Make tomorrow full of proud moments. And not full of regrets. Take action. Believe something different is possible.

I know all this is easy to say and hard to do.

This card is telling you to set yourself free. There is something which is holding you back. And it won’t let you go. You must let go of it. You must take your own life in hand. Free yourself. Who will free your soul, if you don’t free your own?

The first step is to choose to love yourself. Don’t look for a reason to be proud, so you can love yourself. Love yourself first and then be proud of the accomplishment. It is a hard task which many never master.

The Second Trip

Some moments are ripe for change. For me it was the time to leave. My work was closing. The restaurant was set for a remodel. They tore it down. And started from scratch.

My friend Sean wanted to take a trip. I had shared stories about my first trip. And he had done some traveling too. The plan was to go east for the Rainbow Gathering. It was in Pennsylvania.

At first he was asking his girlfriend to come on the trip. And she refused. But then we all watched The Matrix. Then she agreed to go along. But my friend changed his tune. I’m not sure why, but he got upset. She did not join us on the trip. I wonder how things would have been different if she had gone.

We hitched out of Portland on I-84. Eastward we went through Eastern Washington. I’m not sure why, but we traveled through Spokane. If you forget how to pronounce the city name, remember it does rhyme with cocaine.

In Spokane we were spanging at a store. A man came out and talked to us for a while. Said we were doing it all wrong. If we wanted to learn about the world. Get a job he suggest – but not in a mean tone. He said we would learn more working, than traveling. Sean later pointed out we would never had heard his ideas. If we had never traveled to Spokane.

After Spokane our next stop was Missoula. We met some younger people. And they let us spend the night at their apartment. One of the girls I had a crush on. And I was flirting with her, maybe not aggressively. But the next thing I know she is making out with Sean. It upset me. There were and are few women I am attracted to on a real level. She was one of them. Sean later told me he didn’t know I was flirting with her. And I believe he wouldn’t have done something to hurt me. Just our ideas of things were different.

Heading east we got a ride with a crazy couple. I recall stopping in Buffalo, Wyoming. We would all take a walk for a while. She would call a hotline and say she was an abused woman. Then someone would come out and give her gas and money. I didn’t like her taking advantage of services meant to help people. Though she claimed there was a small kernel of truth to her story.

The plan with me and Sean was for us to go to Boulder. I loved Boulder during my last visit. And I wanted to stop again. Also as we got closer I was looking forward to being away from the couple. But then the three of them came to me. They had made plans for us to go all the way to Pennsylvania together. Great, I thought.

At one point the heat was getting to all of us. We pulled off the interstate to go to a lake. But there was a usage fee and none of us had the money. Driving back we crossed through Glendo, Wyoming. They were having a town fair. I pointed out we would be missing a rare event if we didn’t stop. So we stopped.

I ended up singing karaoke with some local teen girls. The only song I recall is, “I’m a bitch, I’m a lover, I’m a child, I’m a mother…” And Sean won the Watermelon Eating Competition. The guy in the couple said at one point some local boys were giving me the eye. Because I was singing with their girls. But he took off his shirt, showing some mean tattoos I guess. He made it clear he was with me, and they tamed down.

In North Platte, Nebraska, she went to the hospital. Me and Sean walked downtown. Found a pizza place. Got some out of the trash and started back. There was a house with a trampoline in front. I asked if we could jump on it, as a joke. They said we could. But it didn’t feel comfortable, or fun.

From Nebraska we went south. They had to do something in Kansas. While I don’t think brake repair was what they planned. It became unavoidable. The whole van should shake and the brakes made a loud grinding noise. My guess is they had to replace more than brakes. This is where we finally parted ways.

We had to walk through town to find a place to hitch a ride. Doing so we passed some cops at a convenient store. They stopped us a couple blocks later. They asked if we had any weed. No, we told them the truth.

“Then why did we smell weed when you walked by,” they asked.

We explained we hadn’t bathed in a while. Sometimes body odor can smell like weed.

“Nope, we know what weed smells like,” they insisted.

We suggest it was the sage we had burned in the van. Again they insisted they knew the smell of weed. They had to let us go. We asked for directions to Missouri. They informed us they didn’t know how to get to Missouri. So we headed off down the road. They also told us not to hitch-hike. We got lucky and found a ride from a woman at a gas station.

In Saint Louis, Missouri we got a ride with a airport shuttle. The man drove like he was crazy. But it was kind of fun. We made a stop at the Gateway Arch. You can pay to take a ride up into the arch. But neither one of us wanted to spend the money. So we got back on the road. We were hitch-hiking in East Saint Louis, and the sun was going down.

“I think we need to get out of here before dark,” I told Sean. It was a place about which I had not heard good things.

We got lucky on two counts. We got a ride before dark. And our ride took us all the way to Chicago. Then took us on a tour of the city. Finally we got dropped off in Indiana. From there to the gathering was a short trip.

At the gathering I lost Sean right away. And didn’t see him until almost the last day. He was in a rush to go. I said just wait. I wanted to dig a spring. Then I wanted to eat. I had shared our plans with a few people. One of which came up to me. We wanted to go to Niagara Falls. And he had found someone who could give us a ride. The amazing Pam.

We got a ride from the gathering from Pam to the falls. Then she said we should meet her friend Laura. Pam took us to Syracuse, New York. There we met Laura, who is also amazing. Hanging out with Laura and Pam they suggested we meet Shaylyn. She lived in Ogdensburg, New York. Right across the river from Canada. So, up to the far north we went. This is real Upstate New York.

We spent three days in Ogdensburg. And a day in Potsdam, New York. There was a festival in Potsdam. Before going I was singing a line from Into the Woods, over and over. “We’re going to go to the festival, and dance with the prince.”

Laura’s uncle lived in Potsdam. We went to his house. He was building it himself with trees from his land. When the time came to go to the festival Sean stayed behind. It was just me and the girls. There was music, and the street was closed. We were dancing. They said I must be the prince.

I am still friends with Shaylyn, Laura and Pam. In fact they are more like sisters.

Pam gave us a ride to the ferry for Burlington. We crossed the river and spent a couple days. One night we met some girls at a park. We chatted for a while. Then they wanted to buy us some food. We went to the store, and we were walking around. I picked an olive out of the bulk bin and ate it.

“You can’t do that, it’s stealing,” one of the girls freaked. “Here we can buy some.”

I did it again with something else. And she reacted the same. I’ve always viewed it as a sample. As long as you don’t press your luck.

The other thing I recall about Burlington was the pizza. Some people let us spend the night at their place. There was a flier for $1 pizza. It was too good to be true, right? But it wasn’t. We called and ordered a few. They weren’t great pizza. The quality was comparable to Little Caesar’s. Their story was they had an oven and liked to make pizza.

It was in Burlington I parted ways with Sean. There had been problems. He sat on my bag at one point and drenched my socks in a waterproofing chemical. Which made my feet break out in a rash. He would drink all his water, and then want to drink mine. And the girl issue from Missoula. It was better we part ways.

I went to Cambridge for a couple weeks. Another place I loved from my first trip. And I loved it the second time too. I even camped in the same park. For money I did Tarot card readings on the street. I made a friend, and we chatted about philosophy. He remarked how well read I was for my age. I love the Harvard Square area.

But the time came to go home. In the fastest time ever I made it back in about three days. The only problem I had was in Ohio. We were on the interstate and it was getting dark. I told him to drop me off on I-80. But I dozed off. And woke up on a freeway. When I asked he said we weren’t on I-80 anymore. So I told him to drop me off at the next exit.

Getting out I started walking through Shaker Heights. I found a pizza place and got a free pizza. A young man on a bike asked for some. I told him sure, but he didn’t eat pork. It was a pepperoni pizza, but I was picking the meat off. Me neither I explained and told him what I was doing. He did help me with directions and gave me some money for the bus.

At the bus stop another man wanted some pizza. I was getting sick of it already and was ready for someone to eat it. He ate it, and then called me away from my bag a little. He thanked me and said he was homeless. I told him I understood. He asked for money and I told him all I had was $1 for the bus. When the bus came he grabbed my bag and wouldn’t let it go. The bus almost left without me. I banged on the door and told her the story. I gave him the $1 and rode the bus for free.

From Ohio to Chicago, then Minneapolis where my friend from college James lived. I got there at night, and connected with him the next day. When I said I crossed the country in three days, I didn’t count the time with James. He also gave he a hair cut. Then he dropped me off headed west.

In North Dakota the mosquitoes were so bad I had to sleep inside. There was a truck stop with a movie theater. So I slept in one of the chairs. No one noticed me in there, or said anything. The movies were Little Big Foot and a psycho movie about a woman with an unknown stalker.

From there I got a ride with a guy in a U-Haul. He took me all the way into Montana. Even staid the night in a hotel with him. And he took me out to dinner. From Montana I went south through Idaho. Then across Eastern Oregon. From Hermiston, I got a ride all the way to Portland. I was home.

Back in Portland I got a letter from the girls in New York. They had plans, and invited me to join.

The Red Thread

My Moment