Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gmail Shout Out

Just want to give a big "Fuck You!" to gmail and their whole hierarchy structure set up.

I never liked the format but I signed up for a gmail account because someone told me it was the only hip email client to have these days.

The way they group email senders and subjects takes some getting used to. I know they're trying to save some space as compared to the straight top to bottom listing found in most other clients, but I was always afraid that if I commented or forwarded an email to someone else everyone in the string would see it. It's just not that clear when you look at your email lists who can see what.

I know other services are now following suit (e.g. Hotmail) but it's a pain in the ass to expand all or collapse all to see what's going on.

My major gripe was spurred on by an email I was awaiting a response to this past week. I've been corresponding with someone who is inching me closer to a life-altering career change I've been hoping to make (just a small thing in my miserable life). This person emailed me to say he had a meeting in the morning with a director regarding a script I wrote and would report back once he got more info on it.

The director just had a very successful independent film released this past summer and is well respected in the industry. My contact who is a big supporter of the script has some good connections to him and has his ear, so I thought this would be a "real" meeting.

As the hours in the day ticked by I kept checking my email to see if a response had come in. It was a morning meeting and I figured either with good news or bad I'd hear something. I waited patiently. I didn't want to seem like the desperate, delusional writer that I am and harangue my contact. During this time, I imagined the different scenarios playing out - mostly negative ones.

The director probably told my contact how pathetic the script was and that he should never reach out to him again. And to top it off, he would report my name to the writer's guild to ensure no one else would have to be subjected to such garbage in the future. The story got more elaborate as the day went on - because I had not heard anything.

Finally, in the evening, I sent an email to my contact: "I'm dying here. Anything transpire?"

Again, I checked my emails throughout the night. The next day I was heading out on a 2-day trip and was hoping to have some resolution before I left.

I kept looking for the new email icon to pop up on my phone. Every time it buzzed I quickly checked the  inbox. All I was getting was spam. Saturday, Sunday, Monday - nothing on the script.

Was the news that bad? My contact had been pretty responsive in the past. This must be really awful to hear nothing.

Today, I decided to search my inbox again and re-look at the email string. Maybe I read the message wrong. Maybe the meeting was next week.

I did a search, found the grouping and went through the collected emails that were passed back and forth over the weeks. I scrolled to the bottom and saw that a response had actually come in. It had come shortly after I queried my contact on Friday, but I never saw it. It probably got mixed in with a spam message but I didn't see it because the frickin' gmail set up sucks!

I opened the message that I fretted about. "Meeting was postponed because Ray was sick. Re-scheduled for early November." And while the news was neither good nor bad I just want to say fuck you again, gmail. That's 4 days of my life I'll never get back.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Long Ride Home

I'm not a loner but I like being alone. The other day, I had a chance to enjoy some solitude.

I was at my cousin's house for a birthday celebration. My favorite uncle (he's my only uncle now) turned 90 years old. He looks great and besides a recent set of hearing aids, he's got no major issues. Unlike his two brothers who are now gone, he's spent the last 30 years of his life constantly monitoring his health. He won't eat things with too much salt or too much sugar. Along with the bland food regimen, he works out on his rowing machine each day located in the corner of his bedroom. Besides the one vice of a shot of Scotch each day, he lives a pretty miserable existence.

"All my friends are dead," he told me. "You live this long you get bored. But what else am I gonna do?"

It still nice to see him and we made plans to go out to the cemetery next week to visit the relatives. It's not my idea of fun but I feel obligated to accompany him. I told him I'd go with him if he also promised to leave with me. In other words, I don't want to the reason I go to be for his funeral. He said he'd see what he could do.

While the cemetery is great place to be alone, the place I was talking about was my car. I had driven to the party on a beautiful fall day. Blue sky, leaves just starting to turn, sun warming your body through the crisp air. I went separately from the the family so I could pick up another cousin who didn't want to drive alone. It was a little bit out of the way but I thought I'd be a nice guy and pick her up. She's 82 years old after all and I had not seen her in a while.

Let me tell you, for 82 she's quite spunky. She's about five foot even and a working architect. She lives in a really cool barn she converted into her home. We had a great drive together as we headed up north. She told me about her grandfather who invented the words "schlmiel" and "schlamazel". True story, he made up the words in a humor column he used to write in the early 1900s. [He lived to 102].

Anyway, back to my cherished loneliness.  After being relieved of the duty to drive my cousin back home (she left earlier with someone else heading south), I had the pleasure of making my way home in solitary confinement. The crisp air of the day had turned into a frost warning at night. I climbed into the cabin of the car, a 2005 Honda Civic. It's the car my son uses and it drives better than anything else I have ever owned. Great gas mileage, smooth handling, even somewhat sporty to drive. It's smallness along with the heat I had to pump through the cabin that added to the coziness of the evening.

I had to meander through some dark country roads before I would reach a main highway. I thought about the possibility of breaking down. My cell phone hovered at one bar and I only had a light jacket for some added warmth. It wouldn't be a comfortable experience if something mechanical happened. I put my faith into the old car which had been running perfectly, but one never knows with cars. Maybe that's why we have some type of love affair we have with these machines - we hope that if we care for the car, the car will care for us.

The heat was coming through the vents nicely thanks to the little engine. The gauges were lit up and looked in working order. There was even a calming glow illuminating off the dashboard. The car was low to the ground. She hugged the road and gave a real feel of driving.  I felt better about my prospects of making it home. My ear listened to the engine, my hands sensed the wheel, my foot gave her gas. We bonded.

The car was equipped with a decent radio package. A six-CD changer, equalizer system, an auxiliary plug-in, and, of course, AM/FM. I turned on the button and one my son's CD's blared through the speakers. His music taste is awful. A lot of rap for some reason. Not something I wanted for a long night drive home. I switched to the FM channel and began scanning for something more appealing. It was late on Saturday night so I was afraid of finding a lot more high energy party music, but when I hit the familiar voice of Ira Glass I knew I was going to have a special ride home. The show "This American Life" was just starting, and it would last me throughout the entire ride home. I was just on the edge of the signal's range but I knew as I drove it would come in more clear. To help it along began to speed. I didn't want to miss anything Ira had to say.

While there is a perfect union between driving a car and playing your favorite music, there's something even more special when being entertained by the spoken word. Driving back on that autumn night, in the old car having just come from a party surrounded by people twice my age and listening to a talk radio program reminded me - I'm old. There's not much I can do about that, so I hope I've inherited the same genes as my relatives and can live as long as they have. Because being alone in a car, speeding along the asphalt on a cool evening with the ability to listen to NPR is fuckin' worth it - alone.