Moshing On Thin Ice

Posted: March 21, 2009 in The Roper Files
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It’s a quiet Saturday morning that has followed an especially long, boring and tedious 40-hour week at my job. I’m sitting here guzzling coffee and listening to one of my favorite Sonny Rollins CDs. The morning sun hasn’t quite yet loomed over the house next door to remind me I need to clean the house by making visible every loose hair and floating dust particle.
Today is the 21st; the month is almost over. Rent and a small handful of utility bills await my next paycheck which I don’t see until next Thursday.
So while I am enjoying my day off I also am faced with a serious case of half empty/half full depression. Another two weeks of frozen dinners, “value menu” food and just plain old doing without seem to be on the horizon for the following two weeks; oh boy.
Maybe this would be an appropriate time to remind myself of all the things I’ve managed to get done.
I constantly have a never-ending list of “back-burner” projects and I have actually managed to get a few of them out of the way this month. Two of my three guitars didn’t have cases; I’ve purchased new ones for both. Now I can toss them in the back of my truck and hit the road at will. I needed new shoes and bought two pairs. I got a badly-needed haircut, gave the house a good spring-cleaning within recent memory, kept up the eternal balancing act of laundry, shopping, keeping up with the bills. I even managed to squeeze in a quick overnight trip out of town recently to break the monotony.
My income tax refund did its yearly near-instantaneous disappearing act but I paid off a credit-card debt and spent the rest on a really sweet deal on airfare for a much-needed vacation later this year. I haven’t been on a real ( as in get on a plane and leave town ) vacation since 2004; I think I’m about due. I have gone through the hoop of obtaining a passport and am saving my spare change for spending money on the trip.
And after a flight, a bus ride and a ferry ride I get to finally at long last get to meet a Very Special Someone; this is going to be the vacation I’ve been waiting for my entire life I suspect. This is not going to be just a vacation; this is going to be an adventure.
So the last month has been anything but a waste; I’ve gotten a lot done. It feels good to have covered this much ground. But I wish it was all so simple.
But wrinkles arise; I seem to be in a perpetual tug-of-war trying to balance friends, family and trying to eke out a living in a post-Bush/Cheney economy. My phone rings constantly. People just show up and beat on the door, or they pull up in the driveway and call me on their cellphones to announce their arrival “ in advance”
My Inbox on both my AT&T and G-Mail accounts swell around the clock with spam, people wanting me to join this and that, play games or just chat. I was on the phone the other day and doing a really terrible job of carrying on a conversation with someone online in a chat room and someone else on the phone at the same time. The person online asks me if I am on the phone while at that very same moment the person on the phone asks me if I am online. How’s that for some speedy deja vu?
Remember that scene in GOODFELLAS where Ray Liotta is completely stressed-out from a fucked-up combination of trying to balance his criminal career and his home life while running around town in his Cadillac trying to multi-task on the phone and drive in rush-hour traffic? He’s been packing his nose and he’s sweating bullets and driving down the road and almost rear-ends someone.
You can tell from watching him in this scene that something is fixing crack soon and it might just  be him.
Now I’m anything but a criminal type of person but sometimes I feel like Ray in that scene when people expect me to be like a doctor and call me up 24/7. Who cares; I can just roll back over and go to sleep, right? I try not to growl at anyone ( I know I do anyway) but I feel like a pressure cooker when I’m in the shower and I hear the phone ring, or I hear someone beating on the door. It just makes me want to get in my wheels and drive off. No phone; no PC. Sorry; I’m closed. Coming home when I’ve been gone and finding my Inbox full of mail doesn’t upset me like this but people who just show up unexpectedly and expect me to drop what I’m doing and entertain them all day sure do. I’m not a trained seal.
Stress is a terrible thing; it gives you ulcers, it can make you lose your hair and can lead to all kinds of other maladies as well. It makes me bark angrily at loved ones when I’m tired or mad about something else and then by proxy forces me to apologize to them later, which then makes me angry at myself for barking at them. Funny how I can apologize to people when I do them wrong but I can’t seem to forgive myself when I make myself angry. Why is this?
And today looks to be more of the same; I am drinking coffee and listening to soft music before the phone rings. The calm before the storm if you will. It’s still early; just enjoying the quiet.
But I’ve got a “full griddle” day ahead of me today; got some personal shopping to do. Got some other mundane, non-descript things I’ve got to do. Came home late last night to a full Inbox and a million calls on my caller ID; I’m sure I’ll hear from each and every one of those guys today because I was up late last night, tired and didn’t bother to call a single person back. Didn’t want to open the door so to speak.
Hate typing or worse yet uttering the words: “Let me call you back” No one knows how much I really do dread it. But I’m forced to over and over to on a day-to-day basis. Don’t want anyone to feel like I’m snubbing them but I know it happens. And then I feel bad about it later and get depressed.
So as the day progresses the Man On the Wire begins his journey once again with the greatest of ease. Steadily I move one foot in front of the other while balancing a pole. Hey look at me; I’m all the way up (phone rings) he-e-e-e-


(to be continued…)


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